Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

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 tyrants' angry steel;
Thou transitory flower, alike undone
By proud contempt, or favour'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 proportioned 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 warns : 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,

Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;
Till half a patriot, half a coward grown,
I fly from petty tyrants to the throne.

Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour
When first ambition struck at regal power;
And, thus polluting honour in its source,
Gave wealth to sway the mind with double force.
Have we not seen, round Britain's peopled shore,
Her useful sons exchang'd for useless ore;
Seen all her triumphs but destruction haste,
Like flaring tapers bright'ning as they waste;
Seen Opulence, her grandeur to maintain,
Lead stern Depopulation in her train,
And over fields where scatter'd hamlets rose,
In barren solitary pomp repose?

Have we not seen, at pleasure's lordly call,
The smiling long-frequented village fall;
Beheld the duteous son, the sire decay'd,
The modest matron, and the blushing maid,
Forc'd from their homes, a melancholy train,
To traverse climes beyond the western main;
Where wild Oswega spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound?

Even now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays Through tangled forests, and thro' dangerous

ways;

Where 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 sympathise 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 every government though terrors 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,
Glides the smooth current of domestic joy.
The lifted axe, the agonising wheel,

Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel,
To men remote from power but rarely known,
Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.

THE DESERTED VILLAGE.

A Poem.

FIRST PRINTED IN MDCCLXIX.

« VorigeDoorgaan »