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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; Pride 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 their native har ess 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.
[here, Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd 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 these 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 pow'rs 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 flow'r, alike undone By proud contempt, or favour's fost❜ring sun; Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure! I only would repress them to secure ;
For just experience tells, in ev'ry soil,
That those who think must govern those that toil;
Oh then how blind to all that truth requires,
But when contending chiefs blockade the throne,
Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;
Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour,
Have we not seen, at Pleasure's lordly call,
E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays Thro' tangled forests, and thro' dangerous ways; While beasts with man divided empire claim, And the brown Indian marks with murd'rous aim; There, while above the giddy tempest flies, And all around distressful yells arise, The pensive exile, bending with his woe, To stop too fearful, and too faint to go, Casts a long look where England's glories shine, And bids his bosom sympathize with mine.
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find That bliss which only centres in the mind. Why have I stray'd from pleasure and repose, To seek a good each government bestows? In ev'ry government, though terrours reign, Though tyrant kings or tyrant laws restrain, How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure! Still to ourselves in every place consign'd,
Our own felicity we make or find:
With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel,
To men remote from pow'r but rarely known,
THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
And parting Summer's ling'ring blooms delay'd: