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Heavens! how unlike their Belgic sires of old! Rough, poor, content, ungovernably bold; War in each breast, and freedom on each brow How much unlike the sons of Britain now!
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 in their native hardiness of soul, True to imagin'd right above controul, While even 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 even by freedom ills annoy ; That independence Britons prize too high, Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie. The self-dependent lordling stands 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 motion stop, or frenzy 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 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 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 proportion'd loads on each.
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. 1769. Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingʼring blooms 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 neighb'ring hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whisp'ring lovers made! How often have I blest the coming day, When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending 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. The dancing pair that simply sought renown, By holding out, to tire each other down; The swain mistrustless of his smutted face, While secret laughter titter'd round the place; The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love, The matron's glance thatwould those looks reproveThese were thy charms, sweet village! sports like
With sweet succession, taught ev'n toil to please; These round thy bowers their cheerful influence [fled. shed, These were thy charms-But all these charms are Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain; No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But, chok'd with sedges, works its weedy way; Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies, And tires their echoes with unvary'd cries. Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall; And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy'd, can never be supply'd.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life requir'd, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain; Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose, Unwieldy wealth and cumb'rous pomp repose; And every want to luxury ally'd,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that grac'd the peaceful scene,
Liv'd in each look, and brighten'd all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.
Here, as I take my solitary rounds,
Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruin'd grounds,
And, many a year elaps'd, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wand'rings round this world of care, In all my griefs-and God has giv'n my share— I still had hopes my latest hours to crown, Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down; To husband out life's taper at the close, And keep the flame from wasting by repose: I still had hopes, for pride attends us still, Amidst the swains to show my book-learn'd skill, Around my fire an evening group to draw, And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last.
O blest retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care that never must be mine,
How blest is he who crowns in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dang'rous deep;
No surly porter stands in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceiv'd decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And, all his prospects bright'ning to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the sound, when, oft at ev'ning's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose:
There, as I past with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came soften'd from below;
The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young,
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school,
The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whisp'ring
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And fill'd each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
But all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widow'd, solitary thing,
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forc'd, in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wint'ry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was, to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a-year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nore'er had chang'd nor wish'd to change his place;
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashion'd to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learn'd to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wand'rings, but reliev'd their pain;
The long-remember'd beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claim'd kindred there, and had his claims allow'd;
The broken soldier, kindly bid to stay,
Sat by his fire, and talk'd the night away;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show, Rang'd o'er the chimney, glisten'd in a row.
Vain transitory splendour! could not all
Reprieve the tott'ring mansion from its fall!
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Thither no more the peasant shall repair,
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his pond'rous strength, and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train,
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art.
Spontaneous joys, where nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway:
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvy'd, unmolested, unconfin'd.
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth array'd,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And, even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy?
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
'Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and an happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards, even beyond the miser's wish, abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name,
That leaves our useful product still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride,
Takes up a space that many poor supply'd;
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Has robb'd the neighbouring fields of half their
In nature's simplest charms at first array'd,
But verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprise;
While, scourg'd by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
And while he sinks, without one arm to save,
The country blooms-a garden, and a grave.
Where then, ah! where shall poverty reside,
To 'scape the pressure of contiguous pride?
If to some common's fenceless limits stray'd,
He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,
Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,
And even the bare-worn common is deny'd.
If to the city sped-What waits him there? To see profusion that he must not share; To see ten thousand baneful arts combin'd To pamper luxury, and thin mankind; To see each joy the sons of pleasure know, Extorted from his fellow-creature's woe. Here while the courtier glitters in brocade, There the pale artist plies the sickly trade; Here while the proud their long-drawn pomps dis
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.
The dome where pleasure holds her midnight reign,
Here, richly deckt, admits the gorgeous train;
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy!
Are these thy serious thoughts-Ah, turn thine eyes,
Where the poor houseless shiv'ring female lies.
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn;
Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled;
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,
And, pinch'd with cold, and shrinking from the
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour, When idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet Auburn, thine, the loveliest train, Do thy fair tribes participate her pain? Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led, At proud men's doors they ask a little bread!
Ah, no. To distant climes a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;
Those matted woods where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling;
Those pois'nous fields with rank luxuriance crown'd,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around;
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,
And savage men more murd'rous still than they;
While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravag'd landscape with the skies.
Far different these from every former scene,
The cooling brook, the grassy-vested green,
The breezy covert of the warbling grove,
That only shelter'd thefts of harmless love.
Good Heaven! what sorrows gloom'd that part-
- That call'd them from their native walks away;
When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,
Hung round the bowers, and fondly look'd their last,
And took a long farewell, and wish'd in vain
For seats like these beyond the western main;
And shudd'ring still to face the distant deep,
Return'd and wept, and still return'd to weep.
The good old sire the first prepar'd to go
To new-found worlds, and wept for other's woe;
But for himself, in conscious virtue brave,
He only wish'd for worlds beyond the grave.
His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears,
The fond companion of his helpless years,
Silent went next, neglectful of her charms,
And left a lover's for a father's arms.
With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes,
And blest the cot where every pleasure rose;
And kiss'd her thoughtless babes with many a tear,
And claspt them close, in sorrow doubly dear;
Whilst her fond husband strove to lend relief,
In all the silent manliness of grief.
O, luxury! thou curst by Heaven's decree,
How ill exchang'd are things like these for thee!
How do thy potions with insidious joy,
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy!
Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown,
Boast of a florid vigour not their own.
At every draught more large and large they grow,
A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe;
Till sapp'd their strength, and every part unsound,
Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round.
Even now the devastation is begun,
And half the business of destruction done;
Even now, methinks, as pond'ring here I stand,
I see the rural virtues leave the land.
Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail,
That idly waiting flaps with every gale,
Downward they move, a melancholy band,
Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand.
Contented toil, and hospitable care,
And kind connubial tenderness, are there;
And piety with wishes plac'd above,
And steady loyalty, and faithful love.
And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade;
Unfit in these degen'rate times of shame,
To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame;
Dear charming nymph, neglected and decry'd;
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride;
Thou source of all my bliss, and all my woe,
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so;
Thou guide, by which the nobler arts excel,
Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well!
Farewell, and O! where'er thy voice be try'd,
On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side,
Whether where equinoctial fervours glow,
Or winter wraps the polar world in snow,
Still let thy voice, prevailing over time,
Redress the rigours of th' inclement clime;
Aid slighted truth with thy persuasive strain;
Teach erring man to spurn the rage of gain;
Teach him, that states of native strength possest,
Though very poor, may still be very blest;
That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away;
While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky.
THE HAUNCH OF VENISON.
A POETICAL EPISTLE TO LORD CLARE. 1765.
Thanks, my lord, for your venison, for finer or fatter
Never rang'd in a forest, or smok'd in a platter;
The haunch was a picture for painters to study,
The fat was so white, and the lean was so ruddy:
Though my stomach was sharp, I could scarce bel?
To spoil such a delicate picture by eating;
I had thoughts, in my chambers, to place it in view,
To be shown to my friends as a piece of vertu;
As in some Irish houses, where things are so se,
One gammon of bacon hangs up for a show:
But, for eating a rasher of what they take pride is,
They'd as soon think of eating the pan it is fry'din.
But hold let me pause-don't I hear you pronounce,
This tale of the bacon's a damnable bounce;
Well, suppose it a bounce-sure a poet may try,
By a bounce now and then, to get courage to đy.
But, my lord, it's no bounce. I protest in my tam,
It's a truth-and your lordship may ask Mr. Bar
To go on with my tale-as I gaz'd on the haunch,
I thought of a friend that was trusty and staunch;
So I cut it, and sent it to Reynolds undrest,
To paint it, or eat it, just as he lik'd best.
Of the neck and the breast I had next to dispose
'Twas a neck and a breast that might rival Mource's:
But in parting with these I was puzzled again,
With the how, and the who, and the where, and the
There's H-d, and C-y, and H-rth, and H-f,
I think they love venison-I know they love beef.
There's my countryman Higgins-Oh! let him
For making a blunder, or picking a bone.
But hang it-to poets who seldom can eat,
Your very good mutton's a very good treat;
Such dainties to them their health it might hurt,
It's like sending them ruffles, when wanting a shirt.
While thus I debated, in reverie center'd,
An acquaintance, a friend as he call'd himself,
An under-bred, fine-spoken fellow was he,
And he smil'd as he look'd at the venison and me