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For praise, too dearly lov'd or warmly sought,
To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil
A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves,
Heavens ! how unlike their Belgic sires of old !
Fir'd at the sound, my genius spreads her wing, And flies where Britain courts the western spring; Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride, And brighter streams than fam'd Hydaspis glide, There all around the gentlest breezes stray, There gentle music melts on every spray ; Creation's mildest charms are there combin'd, Extremes are only in the master's mind ! Stern o'er each bosom Reason holds her state With daring aims irregularly great ; Prick in their port, defiance in their eye, I see the lords of human kind pass by; Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, By forms unfashion'd fresh from Nature's hand, Fierce in their native hardiness of soul, True to imagin'd right above control, While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan, And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here, Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear; Too blest indeed were such without alloy, But foster'd e'en by Freedom ills annoy ; That independence Britons prize too high, Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie; The self-dependent lordlings stand alone, All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown; Here by the bonds of nature feebly held, Minds combat minds, repelling and repell’d. Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar, Represt ambition struggles round her shore, Till over-wrought, the general system feels Its motions stop, or phrenzy fire the wheels.
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay, As duty, love, and honour fail to sway, Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law, Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. Hence all obedience bows to thee alone, And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown; Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms, The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms, Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame, Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame, One sink of level avarice shall lie, And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'd die.
Yet think not, thus when Freedom's ills I state, I mean to flatter kings, or court the great; Ye powers of truth that bid my soul aspire, Far from my bosom drive the low desire ;And thou, fair Freedom, taught alike to feel The rabble's rage, and tyrant's angry steel; Thou transitory flower, alike undone By proud contempt, or favor's fostering sun, Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure, I only would repress them to secure; For just experience tells, in every soil, That those who think must govern those that toil; And all that Freedom's highest aims can reach, Is but to lay, proportion'd loads on each. Hence should one order disproportion'd grow, Its double weight must ruin all below.
O then how blind to all that truth requires, Who think it freedom when a part aspires ! Calm is my soul, nor apt to rise in arms, Except when fast approaching danger warms : But when contending chiefs blockade the throne, Contracting regal power to stretch their own : When I behold a factious band agree To call it freedom when themselves are free; Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw, Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law; The wealth of climes, where savage nations roam, Pillag'd from slaves to purchase slaves at home;
Fear, pity, justice, indignation start,
Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour,
Even now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
How small of all that human hearts endure,
THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
SWEET Auburn ! loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheer'd the laboring
swain, Where smiling Spring its earliest visits paid, And parting Summer's ling'ring bloom delay'd. Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please. How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endear'd each scene! How often have I paus'd on every charm, The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whisp'ring lovers made! How often have I bless'd the coming day, When toil remitting, lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labor free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young coutending as the old survey'd ; And many a gambol frolick'd o'er the ground, And sleights of art and feats of strength went round, And still as each repeated pleasure tir'd, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspir'd;