Dedication: Sent With The Second Edition Of The Poem To His Majesty The King Of Prussia
Imperial Bard! if while my humble strain
Thy precepts sung to Albion's warlike train,
Her critic ear approving caught the sound,
And favoring smiles my finish'd labor crown'd,
Her plaudits to thy glowing verse belong
But faintly imaged in my ruder song.
Then as the Muse to thee assiduous pays
This honest tribute of Britannia's praise,
Though Fame has cull'd from Phœbus' sacred tree
The Poet's and the Victor's wreath for thee,
And History shall twine around thy brow
Eternal crowns of her unfading bough,
Forgive the officious zeal that interweaves
This transient blossom with thy Laurel Leaves.
Sent To Mr. Haley, On Reading His Epistles On Epic Poetry
What blooming garlands shall the Muses twine,
What verdant laurels weave, what flowers combine,
To crown their favorite Son whose generous heart
Has check'd the arrogance of Critic Art,
And shewn that still in their exhaustless mine
The purest gems of radiant Genius shine,
To grace the venturous Poets who explore
The unsun'd treasures of their sacred store?
Nor this the Syren note of flattering praise,
Or the fond tribute partial friendship pays;
A voice unknown to fame, to thee unknown,
But wak'd by thy superior worth alone,
Attempts, perhaps with too officious zeal,
Thy thoughts awhile from higher cares to steal,
And in presumptuous numbers dares essay
To hail the glories of thy matchless lay.
O fairest hope of Britain's tuneful Choir!
Why yield to other hands the Epic Wire?
Say who of all her Bards like thee shall swell
To strains of extasy th' Heroic shell?
When the long series of connecting rhime
Denies the raptur'd flight or march sublime
Who shall the interval so well beguile
With each rich ornament of polish'd style?
Who o'er the thrilling heart such forms shall throw
Of frantic horror, or pathetic woe?
Or when the notes from Freedom's clarion blown
Chill the pale Despot on his trembling throne,
What manly son of Britain's warbling throng
Shall join the Pæan with so bold a song?
And if inventive Fancy love to stray
'Mid the wild tracts of Fiction's faery way,
Say who shall mate those magic powers that stole
The nightly vision o'er Serena's soul?
Then let, illustrious Bard!—though rude her voice,
A Muse of humble mien divert thy choice.—
With timid hand snatch no reflected grace
From the sweet Maniac of Hesperian race.
Since Genius' keenest rays thy bosom fire
O strike with native force the British Lyre,
That, while such virtuous chiefs adorn thy strain
As Greece and Rome shall emulate in vain,
Albion may consecrate thy deathless name,
And found her Epic pride on Hayley's fame.
Faringdon Hill. Book I
A Poem In Two Books
Now with meridian force the orb of day
Pours on our throbbing heads his sultry ray;
O'er the wide concave of the blue serene
No fleecy cloud or vapory mist is seen;
The panting flocks and herds, at ease reclin'd,
Catch the faint eddies of the flitting wind;
To silence hush'd is every rural sound;
And noontide spreads a solemn stillness round
Alike our languid limbs would now forsake
The open meadow, and the tangled brake;
Here Sol intensely glows, and there the trees
Mix their thick foliage, and exclude the breeze.—
Come let us quit these scenes, and climb yon brow,
Yon airy summit where the Zephyrs blow;
While waving o'er our heads the welcome shade,
Shuts out the sunbeams from the upland glade:
No steep ascent we scale with feverish toil,
No rocks alarm us, and no mountains foil;
But as we gently tread the rising green,
Large, and more large extends the spacious scene;
Till on the verdant top our labour crown'd,
The wide Horizon is our only bound.
What various objects scatter'd round us lie,
And charm on every side the curious eye!—
Amidst such ample stores, how shall the Muse
Know where to turn her sight, and which to choose?—
Here lofty mountains lift their azure heads;
There it's green lap the grassy meadow spreads;
Enclosures here the sylvan scene divide;
There plains extended spread their harvests wide;
Here oaks, their mossy limbs wide stretching, meet
And form impervious thickets at our feet;
Through aromatic heaps of ripening hay,
There silver Isis wins her winding way;
And many a tower, and many a spire between,
Shoots from the groves, and cheers the rural scene.
Still as I look, fresh objects seem to rise;
And lovelier pictures strike my raptur'd eyes,
As young remembrance paints each sylvan glade,
Where full of glee my careless childhood stray'd.
Though other hills perhaps as large a field
To warm description's fairy powers may yield,
As rich a prospect to the sight display,
O'er meads as verdant, and o'er plains as gay;
Yet, when in Memory's fond mirror shewn,
The country smiles with beauties not it's own;
Her fair reflection new delight supplies,
And every floweret blooms with deeper dyes;
The landscape seems to brighten while I gaze,
And Phoebus shines with more than summer rays;
O'er the high woods a livelier verdure reigns,
And more luxuriant harvests deck the plains;
Even when fell winter spreads his mantle drear,
And big with snow descends the inclement year,
Let but her glass reflect the dismal view,
The wither'd trees their wonted charms renew;
The feather'd tribes resume their chearing lay,
And spring her odors, and his beams the day;
December yields to April's milder power,
And vernal blossoms grace the wintry hour.
O sacred Nature! Nymph divinely bright!
Unfold thy various prospects to my sight;
With thee o'er breezy uplands let me rove,
Or tread the devious labyrinth of the grove;
When from the east the glorious orb of day
Shoots o'er the burnish'd cliff his golden ray,
When splendid in meridian light array'd,
His piercing beams the woodland gloom pervade;
When wrap'd in misty evening's sober reign
The increasing darkness steals across the plain;
When o'er the dusky stole of silent night
The Delian Goddess throws her silver light;
When gently o'er the flower-empurpled vale
The vernal Zephyrs breathe a genial gale;
When, as fierce Summer's sultry beams descend,
With blushing fruit the loaded branches bend;
When Autumn crowns the hills with waving corn,
And pours profusion from his twisted horn;
While deepening shade on shade the woods are seen,
From the full crimson to the faded green;
Or when, it's leafy honors swept away,
The scatter'd forest yields to winter's sway;
When the cascade, by icy fetters tied,
Must cease to murmur, and the stream to glide;
While blows the storm, or falls the chilling rain,
Or fleecy snows o'erspread the whiten'd plain;
In every hour and season let me trace,
Enchanting Nature! thy transcendant grace;
With eager eyes thy lovely form survey,
And bless with grateful voice thy boundless sway.
Happy the youth! on whose high honor'd head
The sacred Nine their fostering influence shed,
Though they refuse the lasting wreath, whose bloom
Shall grace his living brow, and deck his tomb;
For the fresh laurel give a sickly flower,
Boast of a day, and glory of an hour;
Yet taught by them his ravish'd eyes explore
The choicest objects of thy charming store:
For him their strains the sylvan warblers breathe,
For him fair Maia twines her flowery wreath;
Fragrant for him the morning breezes blow,
The poplar trembles, and the fountains flow;
Thy various beauties strike his raptur'd breast,
And Nature doubly charms by Fancy dress'd.
Enough has Fancy, frantic with delight,
O'er the gay region stretch'd her vagrant flight;
Let sage Experience now of brow severe
Arrest her soaring in her bold career:
Nor thou, historic Truth, thy aid refuse,
But join the labors of the rural Muse;
With friendly care the pleasing toil divide,
That while she paints the blooming landscape's pride,
Thy voice each storied relick may explain,
And tell the former fortunes of the plain.
First to the north direct your roving eyes,
Where fair Oxonia's verdant hills arise;
There Burford's downs invite the healthful chace,
Or urge the emulous coursers to the race;
While as with agile limbs the ascent they scale,
Rush down the steep, or sweep across the vale,
Exulting Hope, by turns, and chilling Fear
In the pale cheek and eager eye appear;
Each generous fire in every heart is lost,
By fortune favor'd, or by fortune cross'd;
Flies every Virtue, withers every Grace,
And all the selfish Passions take their place.
Emerging from the thicket's bosom, there
See Bamptom's pointed steeple rise in air:
To farther distance now the prospect drawn,
Lo Witney's spire diversifies the lawn!
Whose busy loom to balmy sleep supplies
A guard from wintry cold and freezing skies:
There Whichwood's oaks thick-waving o'er the glade
Yield to the salvage tribe an ample shade:
And in the horizon faintly ting'd with blue
Thy woods, imperial Blenheim! close the view,
Nature between one verdant carpet spreads
Of fruitful pastures and enamel'd meads;
Whose bending reeds, and osier'd banks among,
Fair Isis rolls her virgin waves along;
Her horn while Plenty pours on every side,
And Pales revels where her waters glide.
Hail, lovely Isis! dear parental stream!
The pride of Commerce, and the Poet's theme:
Though, vain of borrow'd pomp, imperious Thame,
Deck'd with the praise which ought to wait thy name,
Triumphant pours his swelling waves along,
Hail'd by the bard, and dignified in song;
Thy silver urn the affluent tide bestows,
And from thy source the plenteous current flows:
Such is the fate that female honors find,
When to a mate unequal fondly join'd.
O had thy stream! like Arethuse of old,
It's virgin waters unpolluted roll'd,
Old Thame through humble vales had pass'd alone,
Sung by no bard, unnoticed, and unknown;
While thine had been confess'd the unrival'd pride,
To waft in commerce with each rising tide,
With foreign spoils Augusta's walls to greet,
And lay the nations tribute at her feet:
Thine been the boast to flow, with current clear,
Through meads to British Freedom ever dear,
Where the bold Barons in a happy hour
Wrested her charter from a tyrant's power;
While grateful bards contended to rehearse
Thy virgin glories in no vulgar verse:
For long as Windsor rais'd her sylvan shade
Or Cooper's swelling hill o'erlook'd the glade,
Sacred to fame thy stream had flow'd along,
In Pope's soft lays, or Denham's sounding song.
Then as thy lucid current gently stray'd
Through fair Etona's academic shade;
While by thy side his silver Lyre he strung,
Gray to thy wave his dulcet notes had sung:
And many a bard in Granta's vale who strays,
And tunes to hoary Cam his votive lays,
Whose youthful Fancy and Invention new
Cull'd the fresh flowers that on thy borders grew,
Had join'd to celebrate thy classic fame,
And half his tribute paid to Isis' name.
And lo! where heathy Cumner's envious height
Hides all thy letter'd triumph from my sight!
Where 'midst fair Rhedicina's gothic towers,
Her hallow'd cloisters, and Pierian bowers,
Isis her silver urn inclines, and views
The votive wreath of every grateful Muse.
No rivulet there from thee their tribute draws,
Usurps thy fame, or shares their just applause:
But gentle Cherwell hears with joy their lays,
And loves the strain that chants a sister's praise;
Pleas'd if the Muse, to grace her head, bestows
One roseate flower that on thy Margin blows.
Nor shall thy reeds in future times complain
Of slighted worth and Thame's usurp'd domain;
That his too favor'd stream with princely waves
The crowded walls of proud Augusta laves;
The votive verse that Pope and Denham raise,
And breathe to him the swelling note of praise;
For him that Gray the strain unequal'd frames,
And sings the moral ode to hoary Thames;
Since fair Oxonia's polish'd sons unite
To vindicate thy classic current's right;
Since every Muse to thee consigns her lays,
And every Science on thy border strays;
And every Grace, and every Art, whose powers
In symmetry have rais'd her dædal towers,
To listening crowds thy parent worth proclaim,
And found their pride on thy maternal name.
Ere yet such scenes of pomp thy channel knows,
While humbly here thy lingering water flows;
While yet thy virgin waves obscurely glide,
Sung by no Muse, nor boast a classic tide;
Say wilt thou here incline thy urn, to heed
The inglorious warbling of my Doric reed?
Though here no city spread her various stores,
No costly villas crown thy peopled shores;
Yet every charm of Peace's rural reign
Attends thy progress through each smiling plain.
The flocks and herds here crowd thy rushy brink,
Graze on thy sides or from thy bosom drink;
And every herb, and every flower that blows
On the green margin where thy current flows;
If a luxuriant bloom they justly boast,
Beyond the produce of another coast;
As in thy glassy wave their charms they see,
Shall own they owe each vivid tint to thee.
Yet glittering spears have here been whilom seen,
And purple war has stain'd thy osiers green;
Here hostile swords have shed a horrid gleam,
And floating corses chok'd thy frighted stream;
While Civil Discord drove with hideous roar
The trembling Naiads from thy widow'd shore.
Ah! ne'er may arms again thy seats invade,
Or shouts of war disturb thy hallow'd shade;
But heaven-born Peace with Plenty in her train
Fix on thy sedgy banks her halcyon reign.
Here too, more fell than war's destructive race,
Has Superstition shewn her gorgon face:
Here where thy chearing stream with gentle waves
These fertile meads and verdant pastures laves,
Where now unwearied Industry resides,
And Toil exulting tills thy fruitful sides;
For Liberty protects the happy swains,
And Property secures what labor gains;
Erst the rich soil, though cultur'd, useless lay,
To monkish ease and luxury a prey,
While distant abbeys with thy wealth were stor'd,
The British subjects of an alien lord.
When bigot John, despotic power to gain,
Found open force and treacherous cunning vain;
His daring nobles fir'd by virtuous pride
His arts eluded, and his force defied;
With Rome's anathemas he arm'd his hand,
And papal thunders shook the trembling land;
Thirsting for lawless sway, he stoop'd to own
His crown dependant on a foreign throne;
To foreign lords ignoble homage gave,
To reign at home a tyrant and a slave.
'Twas then the ravenous monks, a sordid crew,
O'er all the wasted land like locusts flew;
Each rich demesne that to the crown remain'd,
By right, by forfeiture, or conquest gain'd,
Was given to gratify the Church's pride,
And bribe the holy cohorts to his side.
Even 'mid those scenes of devastation wild,
Where William's power the fertile district spoil'd,
The gazing pilgrim saw with strange surprize
Aspiring structures 'midst the desert rise;
And where no trace of man's abode was seen,
No noise disturb'd the tenants of the green,
Save the seas breaking o'er the sounding shore,
Or the faint dashing of the distant oar;
There haughty Beaulieu's gothic arches bend,
And high in air her glittering spires ascend;
While the wild forest's hairy sons around
Start at the unusual anthem's swelling sound.
These fruitful plains, in that unhappy hour
Of papal sway and sacerdotal power,
Were doom'd the new-rais'd abbey to maintain,
And distant Beaulieu rul'd the fair domain.
The famish'd swain beheld with mournful eye
The verdant meadows round him useless lie;
While pamper'd ignorance and priestly pride
The rich productions of the land divide;
Till Henry's haughty soul the bondage broke,
Redeem'd the nation from the servile yoke,
And suffer'd active Industry once more
To dwell, fair Isis! by thy happy shore:
Hence as these blooming fields, (thus heaven decreed,)
A tyrant shackled, so a tyrant freed.
Yet now, as thro' the abbey's mouldering dome
The Muses oft with wandering footsteps roam,
And, while with silver radiance Luna's beam
Shoots through the lengthening isles a trembling gleam,
As pensive Meditation points the way,
By ruin'd piles and nodding towers they stray:
See o'er the impending arch the ivy spread,
And gothic pillars threat the passer's head,
Struck with the awful scene, the astonish'd train
Bewail the fall of Superstition's reign.
Hence many a bard has o'er the ruins hung,
And mourn'd the devastation as he sung;
Has Error's fate in plaintive verse deplor'd,
And wept the day that Reason's rights restor'd.
As bending upward near her scanty source
We backward trace the river's narrowing course,
Her pointed spire see Lechlade proudly rears!
And lowly Cricklade on her banks appears;
Cricklade, where first, when Grecia's letter'd train,
By Slavery exil'd from their native plain,
To fair Hesperia's vales their science bore,
To Gallia's fields, and Albion's distant shore;
Those strains Ilissus' stream was wont to hear
Were pour'd, O Isis, on thy raptur'd ear:
While Grecia's Muse, around whose matron brow
Had twin'd the Athenian olive's fruitful bough,
Forc'd by the rage of Mahomet's savage host
To quit with lingering step Byzantium's coast;
Her drooping forehead with thy osiers bound,
And on thy brink a new Lyceum found;
Till woo'd by princely gifts, these peaceful bowers
She left for Granta's and Oxonia's towers.
And here thy waves, by learning now unknown,
To busy Commerce sacred flow alone,
Where first the loaded raft, and cumberous barge,
Trust to thy placid breast their weighty charge.
Ah, Isis! can the Muse forget that hand,
Whose wanton cruelty thy ruin plann'd?
Or not forgetting, from resentment free,
Recall the hours that threaten'd fate to thee?—
When vain projectors doom'd thy stream to flow
Through meads, neglected, lingering, sad, and slow;
Till the o'er-loaded wave should scarcely force
Through gathering sand, and sedge, it's laboring course;
While in thy stead their plastic power should guide
The stagnate lake by wintry rains supplied.
Perish such schemes! nor by their use be lost
The noblest river, Britain's Isle can boast!—
Let channels, form'd by art, be ever led
Where no fair current wears a native bed;
Then through the obstructing hill, and o'er the vale,
Like Egerton conduct the swelling sail:
Even Isis shall applaud, if from her source,
To where Sabrina pours her amber course,
They bid the smooth canal it's length display,
And feed with copious springs the tedious way:
Till the fraught barge the extended line explores
From Bristol's crowded wharf to London's princely shores.
More westward when we cast our wandering eyes,
Level as ocean's bed the champaign lies:
While, like some promontory's rugged brow,
Proud Badbury's height o'erlooks the plain below,
Where, in yon Saxon camp, the mill its sails
Spreads to the wind, and courts the rising gales.
Beneath how open lies the spacious scene!
No lofty mountains envious intervene;
But o'er the extended lawns our fancies stray,
Till lost in hazy mists they fade away;
By faint degrees the distant prospect dies,
And the blue landscape melts into the skies.
Where gently Cole's pellucid waters glide,
Here Fairford rears her tower with conscious pride;
Whose windows, with historic painting dight,
Attract the curious traveller's wondering sight:
And there, conspicuous 'mid the lawny glade,
Fair Cirencester spreads her ample shade.
Hail happy seat! whose twilight glooms among
Full many a bard has rais'd the tuneful song.
Grows not an oak his hundred arms who spreads
O'er the gay verdure of thy fruitful meads;
Sighs not a grotto to thy murmuring gales,
Nor flows a fountain through thy winding vales,
But seems a classic influence to diffuse,
To Science dear, and haunted by the Muse:
Who oft as morning pours her misty ray,
Or fades the glimmering beam of parting day,
Explores each nodding grove, and every plain,
Sacred to her and all her favorite train.
These scenes could Addison's chaste notes inspire;
Here Pope harmonious struck his silver lyre;
Caught 'midst these solemn shades the glorious plan,
'To vindicate the ways of God to man.'
Arbuthnot here, and Swift, with useful art,
Rear'd Satire's dreaded scourge, or steel'd her dart:
Here Prior the Graces form'd thy softer lay
And taught the moral strain to blameless Gay;
Each pleas'd the Master's praises to engage,
The famed Mæcenas of that happier age.
After such bards, O Bathurst, wilt thou deign
To mark the notes of my inglorious strain?
Shall I presume in these degenerate days
To form one humble verse to Bathurst's praise?
Yes, thou wilt deign my artless notes to hear,
Wilt to my strain inglorious bend thine ear;
And as thy patronage, with noontide ray,
Bade to full vigor shoot the verdant bay,
Taught it the storms of Envy to deride,
And spread it's waving boughs with summer pride;
So thy declining beam with milder power
Shall shed it's influence on the autumnal flower.
O blest old man! on thy thrice happy head
Her choicest gifts has smiling Fortune shed;
Has been for once from taste capricious free,
And true to virtue's cause in favoring thee.
As Anna's hand around thy youthful brow
Thy country's fairest honors taught to grow;
So now, while Justice bids exulting Fame
Tell to succeeding times her Apsley's name,
Marking the source from whence his merit flows,
A fresher wreath thy grateful Prince bestows.
Meantime, disarm'd of all his hostile rage,
Lenient on thee descends the weight of Age;
While still thy soul preserves her wonted power,
To charm the letter'd or the social hour:
No sharp Disease attends his gentle reign,
Nor palsied Indolence nor wasting Pain,
But healthful through the woods thy footsteps stray,
Where thy own oaks their gloomy shade display:
For to thy lot of all mankind is given
That joy peculiar by indulgent heaven,
To see, while round the barbarous hand of taste
Deforms the grove, and lays the forest waste,
O'er each uncultur'd hill, and barren glade,
Thy rising thickets spread unusual shade,
And, in their full luxuriance dress'd, display
Their waving foliage to the face of day.
May thy example Britain's lords inspire!
O may they catch from thee the patriot fire!
Then shall the Dryads, and their sprightly train,
Rove o'er the extent of many a barren plain:
O'er the bleak waste, where dreary heath and skies
Fatigue the sight, the forest then should rise;
Again on Windsor's heights the woods be seen,
And all her sable hills be cloth'd with green;
Her russet mountains send their oaks once more
To waft destruction to some hostile shore.
What tho' Britannia's plains manur'd with care
Refuse the plants of every soil to bear;
What though no olive grow among her vales,
No citron groves perfume her balmy gales;
Though India's spicy forests are denied,
Nor spreads Judea's palm her leafy pride;
Yet her thick woods unnumber'd trees produce,
Sacred at once to ornament and use.
With verdant beech her towering hills are spread,
And Scotia's pine erects her gloomy head;
The shapely fir, that graced Olympus' brow,
Deigns o'er her heights to wave her silver bough;
And, holy Lebanon, thy cedars rise,
Hang o'er her cliffs, nor dread her northern skies;
The elm, and pliant ash, a vigorous train,
Deck with resplendent green the smiling plain;
The bending willow o'er the marshy glade
And shining poplar shed a trembling shade;
And many a hardy plant is wafted o'er,
To grace her forests from the Atlantic shore,
Whose branches, rising from the kindred soil,
Mix with her trees, and pay the planter's toil.
Here too, matur'd by many rolling years,
Above the rest her native oak appears;
Whose giant limbs extend her noblest boast,
Pride of her groves, and bulwark of her coast.
Sure when the Druid train with awful rite
In pious orgies past the dreary night;
While, as their steps the hallow'd trunk surround,
The mystic misletoe their foreheads bound;
They meant to teach their sons succeeding race,
To venerate the groves that deck'd the place.
O ever on Britannia's grateful breast,
Unhurt by time, this image be impress'd!
Still may her heart that sacred tree adore,
Which drives Invasion from her peaceful shore:
So shall each storm of war, whose fatal sway
Speeds o'er her neighbouring realms it's bloody way,
Break like the baffled storm against her coast,
It's force unheeded, and it's fury lost;
As her own oak defies the headlong course
Of warring winds, and mocks the tempest's force.
Nor does fair Albion view with envious eye
The ripe productions of a southern sky.
Let the rich vineyard spread it's purple stores
O'er Gallia's coasts, and Lusitania's shores;
Where with hard hands the tawny peasants press
The swelling grape, a foreign board to bless:
Though 'neath our rougher heaven the docile vine
Around the lofty elm refuse to twine,
Yet has Pomona with no niggard hand
Her blushing orchards scatter'd o'er the land;
Whose ruddy fruits a generous stream produce
Strong as the cluster'd grape's inspiring juice.
Our humble vales the hop's green tendrils grace,
Clasping their stays in many a close embrace;
These to the bearded barley's harvest join'd,
By skill concocted, and with care refin'd,
A liquor yield, that Britain's sons draw forth
Mantling, and bright, the vintage of the north!
Which crowns the humble and the haughty board,
And chears alike the Peasant and the Lord;
Regales o'erwearied Labor at his toil,
And teaches fainting Industry to smile.
The thankful swain beholds the goblet shine,
Nor envies other lands their rosy wine,
Where slavish hinds with skilful hands prepare
The luscious beverage, which they must not share.
Refresh'd with this, Britannia's sons sustain
The keenest labors of the toilsome plain;
Nor, when the hours of work are past, employ
The vacant eve in gay luxurious joy,
Trill the loose air, or beat the echoing ground
To the soft flute, or tabor's sprightly sound;
But with knit limbs on rougher pastime bent,
They strain their sinews to their full extent;
Direct the quoit, or hurl the massy bar,
Or wage with brawny arms the sportive war.
In other realms, to humble swains unknown,
While Honor fires Nobility alone,
Our meanest Peasants share the generous flame,
And learn to glow at Freedom's hallow'd name;
Hence have they, led by Glory's call afar,
With hosts unnumber'd wag'd the unequal war;
Hence Cressy's field, Poitier's victorious fray;
Hence glorious Agincourt, thy wonderous day!
Hence Europe sav'd near Danube's distant flood;
And Blenheim's ramparts red with Gallic blood!
And hence those manly deeds renew'd again
On Abraham's heights, and Minden's trophied plain.
O ne'er may fell Corruption's tainting force
Poison of all our pride this happy source!
To false Refinement with destructive pains
Polish the manly roughness of our swains!
Exil'd from other realms, while here alone
Fair Liberty erects her holy throne,
The exulting train, her glorious gifts who share,
Will scorn of foreign crowds the suppliant air:
Who sees our clowns obsequious, sees the day
That gives our Glory and our Rights away.
In vain would laws guard Freedom's sacred shrine,
If Freedom's sons their native worth resign;
In vain shall Fraud attempt, or Force alarm,
While Valor steels the breast, and Labor nerves the arm.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Iii.
Thus far with cautious Pencil have I traced
The striking forms on History's tablet placed.
Harder the task on Truth's unblemish'd page
To sketch the living features of the age,
Each transient character with care define,
And catch the fleeting shape with ready line;
Contrast the Manners modern times display
With the Refinements of an earlier day;
Remark what each from chance, or custom, draws,
And seek with curious eye the latent cause;
Shew Virtue's sinking worth, or kindling flame,
And give impartial praise, or candid blame.
In Rome, while Rome's meridian power was graced
With the bright æra of Augustan taste,
Tho' Art's skill'd votaries reach'd their utmost goal,
Though social pleasure sooth'd the liberal soul,
Yet rude the joys, and coarse the manners shew,
To those which Europe's modern nations know,
Where sweet Benevolence the expression warms,
Dwells on the tongue, and every accent forms.
Nor is the exterior semblance bright alone,
A specious veil o'er selfish passion thrown;
The gentle bosom real kindness feels,
And o'er the soften'd mind Affection steals;
Pity and Horror watch o'er human life,
And Murder trembling drops his fatal knife.
Even War, terrific War! has learn'd to wear
A milder garb, and features less severe:
The fury of the doubtful conflict o'er,
Though gorged with death, and red with streaming gore,
The valiant captive meets attentive care,
And vanquish'd foes fraternal kindness share;
Humanity still meek and prompt to save,
Heals every wound the bleeding combat gave,
Bids the worst horrors of the battle cease,
And lends Bellona half the charms of peace.
Politeness too it's nicest skill employs,
And gives the last fine touch to human joys,
Sweetly combines with unaffected ease
The care to aid us, and the wish to please.
Far from that pertness whose capricious fit
Deems satire freedom, and ill manners wit,
Mistakes fastidious pride for judgment chaste,
And thinks that censure shews superior taste:
Far from that fulsome flattery Dulness pays
Who servile adulation takes for praise,
The eye on every latent foible draws,
And gives an insult where she means applause.
And far, O far! from that insidious aim
Which screens Deceit beneath Refinement's name,
The selfish smile, the promise insincere,
And all the rules of Fashion's favorite peer.
But that smooth polish, elegant and bright,
Which placing merit in the fairest light,
By soft compliance rude ill-temper veils,
And half reforms the vices it conceals.
Say from what source shall keen enquiry trace
These striking characters of gentler grace?—
Numerous the varied springs whose powers combin'd
Direct and regulate the ductile mind.—
First that blest fountain of serene delight,
Meek-ey'd Religion's mild unsullied rite,
The patient votary's humbled breast imbues
With heavenly Charity's ambrosial dews,
In vain the Infidel's o'erweening pride
Affects her hallow'd dictates to deride,
Exalts the wisdom of the ancient school,
And boasts of moral Virtue's rigid rule;
By Christian Faith the perfect doctrines taught
Shall mock Philosophy's sublimest thought,
In the clear beams of Truth celestial shine,
And speak their Holy Teacher all divine.
Thence even the stubborn Sceptic mildness draws,
And feels their influence though he scorn their laws.
The sacred rights of human Nature known,
From Europe's climes has exil'd Slavery flown,
Who saw of old her sable wing display
A gloomy shade o'er Freedom's brightest day.—
O could my verse forget she still defiles
The sunny regions of the Atlantic isles!
Still dwells amidst the hardier race that try
In fields of blood for British Liberty!
There the sad Libyan bought in shameful trade,
Vanquish'd by foes, or by his chiefs betray'd,
Waits from his cruel lord's remorseless breath
The doom of labor, insult, stripes, and death.
Were such the fatal gifts from home ye brought
Such the dire lessons Parent Europe taught?—
Ah no!—beneath her inimical skies
Blasted at once the venom'd monster dies.
Bold Chivalry employ'd her earliest care
To sooth the rugged brow of frowning War,
Valor's fierce form by Courtesy refin'd,
And bent to Mercy's sway the headstrong mind.
She taught her gallant votaries to forego
Each mean advantage o'er a prostrate foe,
And shew'd her pupils rear'd in Error's gloom,
To shame the polish'd chiefs of Greece and Rome.
Crown'd by success, and deck'd in impious pride,
See in stern pomp the imperious Consul ride,
With each sad victim of uncertain war
Dragg'd in remorseless triumph at his car.
While Kings and Chiefs superior insult know,
And only feel pre-eminence in woe.
O had of Gothic days the rudest knight
Seen these barbarians, falsely deem'd polite,
Shout as the wretched Hero pass'd along,
Scorn'd and affronted by the unfeeling throng,
How had he turn'd aside the indignant eye
As the dire pageant mov'd exulting by,
To curse the hearts that selfish maxims steel,
And execrate the effects of patriot zeal.—
Now view on nearer Poitier's trophied plain
The gentler triumphs of Britannia's train!
Though every taunt swol'n Insolence could give
Warm in the Victor's glowing breast must live,
Yet when aloft o'er England's valiant few
With unexpected pinion Conquest flew,
And Gaul's pale Genius sunk her flagging wing,
And mourn'd her slaughter'd Peers and captive King;
No keen resentment edg'd the British sword,
No biting insult barb'd one cruel word,
But godlike Edward mild in fortune's hour
Sooth'd the sad Monarch fall'n from regal power,
To vanquish'd greatness generous homage paid
And serv'd the prisoner that his sword had made.
Even those destructive tubes whose fiery breath
Spreads wide the scenes of carnage and of death,
Though their dread roar the novice ear affright,
Aid mercy's power and humanize the fight.
Unseen each blow, no warrior treads the plain
Demanding vengeance for a brother slain,
No favorite kill'd awakes Pelides' hate,
No spoils of Pallas urge a Turnus' fate,
From hands unknown the mortal stroke is given,
And every bullet seems a bolt from Heaven.
Yet, to the chiefs of elder time unknown,
Punctilious rage from feudal Honor grown
Provokes for spleenful wrongs the deadly strife,
And claims in private war the forfeit life.—
But though too plainly from this dreadful cause
Society a milder aspect draws,
And practis'd in the School of Fear, or Shame,
Fools grow polite, and Savages are tame;
Let not the applauding Muse provoke to chide
The weeping Orphan, or the widow'd Bride,
Awake the trembling Matron's anxious fears,
Or ope the sacred source of Beauty's tears.
No!—let us turn from fields of death the view,
And the calm scenes of softer Peace pursue.
Their placid sway the gentler sex impart,
Refine the manners, and improve the heart,
From the harsh breast each sterner thought remove,
And tune the yielding soul to joy and love.
No barbarous Jealousy's misjudging care
Severely watches o'er the imprison'd Fair,
No houshold Tyrant fixes Beauty's doom,
To ply the incessant web and servile loom,
Nor does the mind allur'd by Plato's dream,
Verging to Folly's opposite extreme,
It's bosom's Queen in hues ethereal paint
And deem the blooming maid the impassive saint.
Daughters of Love! they shine with native power,
And bless the lone, and grace the social hour,
With spotless truth, and ardent passion, blend
The enchanting mistress, and the faithful friend,
Each fonder joy that lessens grief dispense,
Convince the reason and delight the sense.
With bashful coyness temper fierce desire,
And lead by virtue while by charms they fire.
The potent force of such resistless sway
Inspires the Muse, and governs every lay;
The tender Bard exerts his utmost skill,
And all our strains pathetic warblings fill.
The Drama lays her awful robe aside
Of gloomy horror, and terrific pride,
Content alone the gentle mind to move
With the sad story of distressful love.—
Delightful Art!—though first in shapeless guise
Reviving Genius saw thy form arise,
When the rude bigot on the barbarous stage
Produc'd the mysteries of the holy page;
Soon Avon's towering eagle bore thy name
Beyond the exalted flights of Attic fame.
Though nicer skill succeeding times demand,
Though now correctness prune with cautious hand,
With scorn tho' Gallia view the Gothic school,
Attentive to adopt each ancient rule,
While the deep pathos, and the bold sublime,
Escape her dull harangues, and duller rhyme.
Not all her precepts form'd by critic care
Shewn in the flowing numbers of Voltaire,
Not even the Grecian Muse, who stalks a Queen
With solemn footstep o'er the crouded scene,
And by her numerous Choir attended, sings
The splendid fate of magistrates and kings,
Shall with our Shakespear vie, whose every thought
Drawn from sensation, and by Nature taught,
Defies the slavish rules of scenic art,
And speaks at once conviction to the heart.
Yet now his track no daring bard pursues,
No more the stage is trod by History's Muse;
No Tyrants there the pangs of conscience own,
No Furies haunt the Usurper on his throne;
With softer anguish Tragedy prevails,
And deeds of horror yield to plaintive tales,
While full the sympathetic currents flow
At each affecting scene of humbler woe.
Even Comedy who us'd with jocund grace
To dress in chearful smiles the applauding face,
Oft quits the playful scourge of ridicule,
Spares the pert coxcomb, and the pompous fool,
The winning form of gentle pity wears,
And unsuspected cheats us into tears.
And see in amorous style the Novel dress'd
With sentimental sorrow melts the breast,
Swells the fair bosom with the heaving sigh,
And fills with drops of grief the virgin's eye.
Perhaps too far the enchanting lore imparts
It's keen sensations to unguarded hearts;
The tender scenes by Vice though oft design'd
So rivet to the page the attentive mind,
So oft with glowing tales of Passion sooth
The unexperienced ear of female youth,
That many a Maid rapp'd by their magic power
Steals from her custom'd rest the midnight hour,
To trace through lengthen'd tomes of grief display'd
The monstrous shapes by Folly's hand portray'd;
Whence the perverted Fancy learns to lose
The sweet attractions of the chaster Muse.—
Awake to each fictitious feeling grown,
And mov'd by ills to real life unknown,
The mind, with scenes of fabled woe possess'd,
Will shut to homely grief the senseless breast,
And turn from Want and Pain the offended ear,
To pour for feign'd distress the barren tear.
Wide too her wave has swelling Knowledge spread,
And the full stream surrounding Nations fed.
With unremitting care the sage of old
Each maze of Science labor'd to unfold,
Hung o'er the tedious page with aching sight
Toil'd through the day, and watch'd the wintry night:
But teeming presses now around diffuse
The monthly magazine and daily news,
Where bards on bards in endless train succeed,
And all pretend to judge, who know to read.
Whate'er pursuits the attentive mind employ
Must mark our manners with a strong alloy.
Gaming a feature of the human frame
In various states and various climes the same,
Can the warm'd breast with strong sensation strike,
And rude and courtly bosoms charm alike.
For this old Rome's luxurious youth would slight
The healthful labor, and the sportive fight;
For this among the extended woods that spread
Where the blue German hid his restless head,
The rugged inmates won by lust of play
Dear life, and dearer freedom gave away:
Even in the dusky tribes by Nature placed
Mid the lone horrors of the Atlantic waste,
Where scarce the claim of property obtains,
In savage fury dreadful, Gaming reigns.
Hence though the sons of wealth in this delight
Now waste with wakeful toil the livelong night,
Though on one stake will ample fortunes lie,
And mortgaged manors wait a single die;
Yet here no form peculiar can we trace
No striking character of modern race.
But Cards by dull invention first design'd
To sooth a frantic Monarch's listless mind,
O'er Europe now extend their strong controul,
And almost seem to fascinate the soul:
Of every calling, and of every state,
The grave, the gay, the humble, and the great,
Save the hard sons of wretched labor, fed
By daily drudgery, with daily bread,
How few but give to this unmeaning play
Three tedious hours from every circling day!
Nor let the serious Muse though light they seem,
Beneath her solemn care such trifles deem;
Weak masters though they be, their potent art
Gives a strong tincture to the human heart:
As the fang'd brood hot Libya's sands among
Though by fierce rage or maddening hunger stung,
If the clear stream their form reflected shew,
Loose all their vengeance on the shadowy foe;
So here those powers by Reason unrepress'd
Whose furious whirlwinds shook the human breast,
Bade with deep wounds contending nations bleed,
And urg'd the daring, or the atrocious deed,
In trifling cares their idle force engage,
And waste on mimic forms their harmless rage.—
Yet let not Fashion's modern votaries boast
Of harsher manners through their influence lost:
If life's severer evils they subdue,
And smooth the rugged mind, they weaken too;
If savage Hate they quell, and wild Desire,
They damp the Poet's, and the Patriot's fire,
The fervid glow of Friendship's flame remove,
And almost quench the golden lamp of Love.
Her magic powers as pleasure thus combines,
Each bosom softens and each care refines,
Still sure the scenes of opulence to share,
Spreads Luxury her splendid empire there;
On Europe's lap is pour'd the varied store
Of every climate, and of every shore.
For her Arabia gives her rich perfume,
And labors for her eye the Persian loom;
For her the Indian culls with fainting toil
The spicy harvests of his sultry soil;
In her cool air remov'd from Asian fields
It's luscious juice the ripe Anana yields;
And Industry with busy care supplies
The want of glowing lands, and sultry skies,
While all the fruits that Summer heats afford,
With blush untimely deck December's board;
Spring throws her mantle o'er the freezing hours,
And hoary Winter binds his brow with flowers.
The swelling sail in climes remote unfurl'd,
Wafts home the produce of another world.
No more the bark steer'd by the starry ray,
With prow uncertain plows the watery way;
But guided by that Gem whose mystic power
To Arctic regions points in every hour,
Commerce new oceans ventures to explore,
And launches boldly from the lessening shore,
Dares the dread wonders of the deep unfold,
And toils at once for glory and for gold.
But does not Reason's faithful mirror shew
The future prospect of distress and woe,
And point what dangers modern softness wait
In the sad tale of Rome's declining state?—
Far yet such fears!—unnumber'd checks there lie
To stop the fatal flight of Luxury.
First, a less dangerous form it's power receives
From the strong influence Beauty's empire gives.
Of culinary skill the enormous waste
Offends with dull disgust her nicer taste;
Grandeur must art as well as wealth display,
And appetite to elegance give way.
Foul Gluttony, his beastly empire o'er,
Now snuffs the bleeding Hecatomb no more;
The rosy silk, and glittering gem, adorn
No rich tiara by the tyrant worn;
The flowing muslin in resplendent folds
No bloated son of selfish passion holds;
A nobler end the gifts of Commerce share,
And deck with heighten'd charms the lovely fair;
The snowy lawn's transparent web displays
The panting bosom to the enamor'd gaze;
For them the loom it's dædal labor plies,
For them the gems disclose their various dies,
Rival their glowing cheeks, and emulate their eyes.
Even tho' their smiles the stubborn bosom tame,
They kindle martial valor's generous flame:
Europe of old her free-born daughters gave
To Virtue's champion, not to Passion's slave,
Not only Love's sweet raptures to dispense,
And sooth with wanton blandishment the sense,
But the rough scenes of changeful life to share,
Double each joy, and lighten every care,
While he their choice who fiercest waged the fight,
For Beauty ever graced the boldest knight:
And still amid Refinement's softest reign
The glorious wish their gentle breasts retain.
No lazy Sybarite with wily art
By female manners wins the female heart,
But through the studied garb and air refin'd,
Must beam the symptoms of the manly mind,
For warlike fame their sure attention draws,
And the brave soldier gains their first applause.
Contending Nations too with jealous pride,
And different interest, Europe's shores divide;
Each state, like Greece of old in Freedom's hour,
With greater strength boasts independent power,
And fierce Ambition by incessant storms
In valor's rigid school the hero forms.
Hence though it's sweet allurements Wealth display,
Though Pleasure wide extend her silken sway,
Still Europe may her manly sons behold,
Firm though luxurious, and though gentle bold;
The polish'd noble feels the generous fires
And dauntless courage of his feudal sires,
Her rule severe imperious Honor brings,
And checks the power of arbitrary kings.
Does Honor call?—unsheath'd the avenging sword
Mocks the stern mandate of the regal lord.
Does martial Honor point to bold renown?—
From sumptuous banquets, and from beds of down,
Elate and gay the pamper'd warrior flies
To fatal climates, and ungenial skies;
The extremes of heat and cold unshelter'd braves,
And tempts the furious strife of winds and waves;
Sees all around him crouding legions fall
Pierced by the gleaming steel, or distant ball,
Unmov'd receives the cannon's thundering breath,
And meets with breast unarm'd the shafts of death.
Ah Britain! while with radiance all divine
On thee the unsullied rays of Freedom shine!
While thy bold sons with steady eye pervade
Each form by ancient error sacred made,
The haughty noble's titled boast deride,
And treat with scorn hereditary pride,
Despise fantastic Honor's shadowy name,
Till Sense and Reason ratify her claim,
Dread in my bosom even those Virtues raise,
Anxious I view and tremble while I praise.
Though Rank in other climes may chance to tread
Insulting o'er indignant Merit's head,
Yet curb'd it's visionary fetters hold
The aspiring Slave of plunder, and of gold.
Custom will oft where Prudence yields, prevail,
And Prejudice may save if Wisdom fail:
Should e'er Corruption's dark insidious wave
Sap the firm barriers ancient Freedom gave;
Should Patriot Glory fly the ill-fated land,
And sordid Wealth the sole distinction stand,
What could repel with salutary force
Increasing Luxury's unbridled course?
Thy recreant sons may then lament too late
The happier errors of each neighbouring state;
And Virtue's pure ethereal substance fled,
Wish Honor's fainter semblance in it's stead.
Though Commerce wide her general blessings shower
When moderation bounds her restless power,
Though on our shores she spread with liberal hand
The fair productions of each distant land,
And richer harvests from our cultur'd fields
Rough Industry by her encourag'd yields,
Feeds both the toiling hive, and lazy drones,
The Hind that labors, and the Lord that owns;
Yet when forsaking every manlier thought,
Each firm resource with native vigor fraught,
A feeble state with abject hope relies
But on the uncertain aid her force supplies;
From imposts laid on vice subsistence draws,
And lavish waste encourages by laws;
Disdains each nobler call that charm'd of old,
And rates perfection by the test of gold,
Soon shall corruption with unbounded tide
In sweeping fury o'er the region ride;
While crouding woes the wretched empire wait
That strove by bloated weakness to be great,
Gave her own strength and inborn worth away
For the faint phantom of commercial sway;
Proud to extend a vast precarious reign
On Folly founded, and which Crimes maintain.
Sure, or the scene a gloomy aspect wears
View'd through the medium of prophetic fears,
Or now, even now, the sad contagion spreads,
And dire effects on British manners sheds.
The race who draw their worth from wealth alone,
Nor other rank, nor other merit own,
In high esteem by abject flattery placed,
Debase our morals, and corrupt our taste:
The dread infection flies from sire to son,
And Folly dissipates what Avarice won;
Expence the place of elegance supplies,
And half demolish'd Beauty's empire lies.
The breast that Education never form'd
Bright Science train'd, or sportive Fancy warm'd,
Knows not with mirth unting'd by scorn to please.
Be gay with dignity, and grave with ease,
But vents the jest uncouth with coarse delight,
And deems unmanner'd insolence polite.
While the rude vulgar glad to draw disgrace
On the invidious claims of birth, and place,
Applaud the glare by lavish Ignorance shewn,
And give distinctions chance may make their own.
Ye ancient Lords of Britain's fair domain!
'Tis yours to vindicate Refinement's reign;
Though Wisdom's eye disdain the titled slave
Staining the Honors which his fathers gave,
Yet with a brighter hue shall Virtues shine
That add new lustre to a noble line.—
Say is the pride of birth concentred all
In the old trophy and the banner'd hall?—
Yours be the fairer boast in docile youth
To catch from Learning's voice the lore of Truth,
Drink the pure reasonings of the patriot sage,
And cull each flower that decks the classic page,
Till by the fame of godlike heroes fir'd,
The man shall copy what the boy admir'd.
If leaving these superior aims ye try
In every vice with every fool to vie,
Each fair advantage fortune gives forego
To wage unequal conflict with the foe,
Say can the gazing croud be justly blam'd
Who pay to Wealth the deference Honor claim'd,
When sickly folly taints that generous worth
Which heighten'd grandeur and ennobled birth?
Your happier purpose be it to restore
The fame that waited Britain's Lords of yore,
Ere true Nobility's unblemish'd shape
Was chang'd for manners every knave can ape.
Yours be it Freedom's empire to support
No Faction's slaves, no flatterers of a Court.
Watch with keen eye the encroachments of the throne,
But guard it's rights for they protect your own.
Fly not, discharg'd each due of public care,
To breathe soft Dissipation's summer air,
Where Pleasure's hand prepares the poppied draught,
To drown reflection, and to deaden thought.
No, rather joy the shouting train to meet
Who hail the lord of each paternal seat;
Where your wide forests spread parental shade
View the gay scenes of rural taste display'd;
Let Hospitality's warm hand await
To court the stranger to the friendly gate;
Enforce with steady zeal your Country's laws,
To Justice true, and firm in Virtue's cause;
Curb Vice licentious in her mad career,
And teach oppressive Arrogance to fear;
Redress when injur'd Merit heaves the sigh,
And wipe the tear from pale Affliction's eye:
So shall your fame with purer honor live
Than wealth, than faction, or than rank can give,
While these best titles on each name attend,
The bad man's terror, and the poor man's friend.
Long may ye mock in this secure defence
The vain attempts of wealthy Insolence:
No more shall sense by rudeness be debas'd,
Or Fortune's lavish minions vitiate taste;
Her stores profuse no more shall Commerce fling,
But brood o'er Industry with fostering wing;
While your examples teach her wiser train
To use with prudence, what by care they gain.
And you ye fair! forgive the honest lay
That even your slightest errors dares display,
Nor think satiric rage my arm can move
To wound like Diomed the Queen of Love,
Though I presume to point the fated hour,
Mark'd with the symptoms of your fading power,
And mourn that all those arts which life refine,
Rais'd by your sway, shall with your sway decline.
Oft by the youth neglected now ye stand
Nor meet Attention's fond assiduous hand:
O be it yours to check with just disdain;
This mark of selfish Luxury's domain,
Ah! leave that thirst of riot's endless joy
Whose constant round your empire must destroy:
Beauties from scene to scene that restless fly
Lose all their force, and sate the public eye;
The midnight revel early age o'ertakes,
And the wan cheek the native rose forsakes;
Light Affectation too intent to please
Disfigures more than time or pale disease;
And tyrant Fashion with Procrustes' arm
Shapes to it's wild caprice each tortur'd charm.
For Love's! for Virtue's sake! ah lay aside
The undaunted forehead, and the martial stride!
Again the garb of female softness wear,
And quit the fierceness of the Grenadier:
For can the ornaments your cares combine
When all the toilet's rich materials shine,
Match blushing Modesty's transparent red
O'er the warm cheek in sweet suffusion spread,
Or like the downcast eye's mild lustre move,
Whose lid veils Meekness and whose glance is Love?
In fabled times by Ida's lofty wood,
When rival Goddesses contending stood,
Though Juno conscious of her awful mien
March'd with the state of Jove's imperious Queen,
Though Pallas deck'd her Amazonian charms
In the refulgent glare of radiant arms,
Yet Love prevail'd in Cytherea's eyes,
And smiling Beauty gain'd the golden prize.
From Albion far may heaven's benign decrees
Avert the storms my anxious mind foresees:
Still may she shine with pure Refinement's grace
Secure on Virtue's adamantine base;
Prosperous awhile though private Vice may stand,
No miracle can save a vicious land;
In life's calm paths though fortune oft dispense
Success to Guilt, and pain to Innocence.
Whence Faith with strengthen'd eye beyond the tomb
Sees the dread hour of Justice yet to come,
On public crimes must early vengeance wait,
And speedy ruin wrap an impious state,
Since from the offence the sure correction springs,—
And her own scourge abandon'd Folly brings.
But let not man attempt with bounded skill
To search the depths of Heaven's eternal will,
Inspect the rolls of fate with fruitless care,
And read the future doom of empires there.
Enough, her eye as cool Reflection throws
O'er all the scenes these lengthen'd lays disclose,
To mark each prospect as they move along,
And draw these moral maxims from the song:
That though Refinement know with temperate ray
To wake each bloom of Merit into day,
Urg'd to excess her heighten'd powers destroy
The expanding bud, and blast each promis'd joy,
As storms and sultry gleams o'ercome the flower
Rais'd by the genial sun, and gentle shower.
That Education, while her careful art
Clears from each baneful Prejudice the heart
Must cherish inborn Glory's generous aim,
The source of rising Worth, and future Fame.
That above all, on each ingenuous breast
Be with strong force this sacred Truth impress'd;
No polish'd Manners rival Virtue's price,
No savage Ignorance disgusts like Vice.
Faringdon Hill. Book Ii
The sultry hours are past, and Phœbus now
Spreads yellower rays along the mountain's brow:
The broken clouds unnumber'd tints display,
Drinking the effulgence of departing day;
And to our eyes present a radiant view,
Italia's purpled ether never knew.
The eastern prospect now attracts the sight
Where every shrub reflects the setting light:
With ruddy flash the cottage casement gleams,
And shines the waving wood with golden beams.
Where Isis stream divides yon distant glade,
Lo Nuneham rises 'midst the sombre shade;
While at her feet, as the clear current bends,
The lofty spire of Abingdon ascends.
Hygeia and her Oread train inhale
On Radley's site the pure ethereal gale.
On Cherbury's ramparts, urg'd by peaceful toil,
The shining plowshare turns the fruitful soil,
Where erst the peasant saw with anxious fear
The gleaming falchion and protended spear.
On Hinton's verdant brow the lofty trees
Tremble obedient to the evening breeze:
And Pusey her inverted dome surveys,
In the smooth stream that through her meadows strays.
See Buckland here her lovely scenes display,
Which rude e'er while in rich disorder lay,
Till Taste and Genius with corrective hand
Spread culture's nicest vesture o'er the land,
Rang'd every object in it's fairest light,
And call'd each latent beauty to the sight;
Cloth'd the declining slope with pendant wood,
And o'er the sedge-grown meadow pour'd the flood,
While manly Execution's active arm
Wakes to existence each ideal charm.
In the deep gloom of yon impervious bowers,
There Carswell hides her hospitable towers:
And at our feet where the rich pastures spread,
Lo Wadley rears her renovated head,
As art and active labor, join'd, improve
Each fair extended lawn and rising grove,
New scenes unfolding still on every side
Declare the affluence industry supply'd.
Blush! blush, ye sons of power! who proudly stand
Rich in the ruins of your native land;
Who every virtue, every right have sold,
For royal smiles, or ministerial gold;
Proud on your breasts a glittering badge to bear,
True honor hates, and freedom scorns to wear,
If worth, or shewn in peace, or prov'd in war,
Shed not a livelier lustre than the star?
Blush, ye fell race! who cross'd the briny flood,
Foes to mankind! and prodigal of blood!
With wanton rage to waft pale famine o'er
From Albion's cliffs to sad Bengala's shore:
Where starving myriads on the cruel train
Call'd Justice' awful sword, but call'd in vain;
Till Britain's senate, fir'd with patriot flame,
Resolv'd to vindicate her country's fame,
Bade England's laws to Ganges' banks extend,
And equal rule the Indian's life defend.
Though Grecia's orders grace your marble dome,
Though blooms the fairest landscape where ye roam,
Yet sacred Justice shall your seats pervade,
And Conscience haunt you through the deepest shade:
Whilst him whose wealth the arts of Commerce raise,
Mankind shall honor, and the Muse shall praise.
But if like thine, O Charles! his generous heart,
The smiles of fortune to his friends impart;
If heaven, that gave him affluence, gave him too
A soul to every social duty true;
Virtue with joy shall chant his favor'd name,
And give a wreath beyond the power of fame;
While all who know his worth exulting find
That fortune, blessing him, has blest mankind.
Lo Shellingford, an Stanford, 'midst the train
Of hoary trees that skirt yon level plain,
The lofty tower and pointed spire display
Conspicuous, glittering in the western ray:
And on yon hill it's distant head that rears,
Lockinge aloft thy shining dome appears!
Beneath, what woodland nymph with artful hand
The vaulted grotto's sparry roof has plann'd,
Taught the rude arch with pendant ore to shine,
And rang'd each bright production of the mine?
No sylvan Goddess this retreat can claim,
Form'd by the fancy of a mortal dame;
Who from yon humble vale's irriguous bed
To the high cliff the crystal fountain led;
Thence bade in murmurs soft the lucid wave
Pour it's fair current through the craggy cave;
Where every Naiad 'midst the rocks reclin'd,
Approves what Taste and Wymondesold design'd.
Ye envious trees! why does your leafy pride,
Stretch'd o'er the bending valley, Wantage hide?—
Sure every Muse and every Grace will join
With votive hands the fairest wreath to twine;
Cull with assiduous toil the choicest flowers,
And hang the brightest garland on her towers:
While grateful Liberty shall love the shade,
Her guardian chief where fostering Virtue laid;
And Britain's Genius bless the hallow'd earth
Which gave her patriot king, her Alfred, birth.
That equal laws these happy regions share
Springs, Prince benign! from thy paternal care.
Through the dark mists which Error o'er mankind
Tenfold had spread, and wrap'd the human mind;
At thy command fair Science shot her light,
And chas'd the horrid gloom of Gothic night;
To Isis' brink the wandering Muses led,
And taught each drooping art to lift her head:
Hence with the warrior laurel's blood-stain'd bough
That binds with sacred wreath thy conquering brow,
Wisdom's illustrious Goddess interweaves
With mystic hand her olive's peaceful leaves.
Thine is the gift that here no alien crew,
To venal interest more than justice true,
Judge with unpitying eye misfortune's cause,
With cruel power enforcing cruel laws;
But watchful Themis o'er each freeman rears
That sacred shield, the judgment of his peers,
By which protected Britain's dauntless train
See factions rage, and tyrants frown, in vain.
O dear-bought Freedom! if thy holy flame
Burns in our souls, nor rests an empty name;
If for thy sake the kindling warmth we feel
Unwarp'd by selfish views or party zeal;
May we with wakeful, nay with jealous, eye
Regard this hallow'd source of Liberty;
This once attack'd, on which her rights depend,
May every breast the guardian power defend;
Each patriot tongue assert our injur'd laws,
And pour resistless sounds in Freedom's cause;
Each patriot arm, should eloquence be vain,
Lift the dread falchion on the embattled plain;
May we with more than ancient zeal pursue
Rights, Rome and boasted Athens never knew;
Guard this Palladium with our latest breath,
Or perish with it in a glorious death!
Where from the fertile plains yon hills arise,
Quit the low vales and shoot into the skies,
Carv'd rudely on the pendant sod, is seen
The snow-white courser stretching o'er the green:
The antique figure scan with curious eye,
The glorious monument of victory!
There England rear'd her long dejected head,
There Alfred triumph'd, and invasion bled.
Long had proud Denmark stretch'd the iron hand
Of harsh oppression o'er the groaning land;
The freeborn swains, to mean subjection broke,
In silent sorrow bore the opprobrious yoke:
Their virtuous prince to wilds and forests driven,
No shed to screen him from the inclement heaven,
Hears all around his subjects cries ascend,
And sees them sink unable to defend;
Chas'd by his foes disguis'd he treads the plain,
A wretched exile in his own domain!
Much hardship borne, and many dangers past,
On suffering Virtue Fortune smiles at last:
Arous'd to vengeance by his people's woe
He frowns defiance on the insulting foe;
Leaves every fear and every doubt behind.—
High waves the Saxon banner to the wind!
Fir'd at the sight, the country far and wide
Pours forth her veteran sons on every side;
His trusty bow each hardy yeoman draws,
Or lifts his shining brand in Freedom's cause:
Freedom resounds from each determin'd voice,
Freedom the first, and death the second, choice;
Courage and Conquest o'er their helmets play;
The invader trembled at the dread array;
Onward resistless march'd the impetuous host;
And fell Oppression fled the hostile coast:
The exulting steed in conquering standards flies,
While Denmark's raven screaming quits the skies;
And hence the Victor's jocund hands portray'd
The Saxon ensign on yon verdant glade.
His country freed, discerning Alfred saw
How vain the civil bond of social law;
Of crowds untrain'd how weak the hasty aid,
When force prevails, and barbarous hosts invade.
That policy which guards each modern throne
Was then to Europe's bounded kings unknown;
No artful statesman then with treacherous breast
Arm'd half a people to enslave the rest.
With wiser care a rampart firm he plann'd,
To guard from future foes the happy land,
Bade Liberty her rash assailants brave,
And Freemen vindicate what Freedom gave.
He taught each sturdy laborer of the field
The sickle and the sword by turns to wield:
With chearful industry the generous swains
Till for their wealthy lords the peaceful plains;
Or, rous'd from rural toil by war's alarms,
Beneath their well-known banners rush to arms.
Let other realms where Freedom never smil'd,
O'eraw'd by rigor, or by fraud beguil'd,
See mercenary bands surround the throne,
Or safety seek from alien arms alone:
But shall not England blush for every son
Too proud to guard the rights his sires have won?
Rights, in whose cause full many a warrior stood,
By toil obtain'd, and seal'd with patriot blood!
Though envy frown, though venal millions blame,
Shall she not ever love her Chatham's name,
Who while on distant climes her rage he pour'd,
Prudent at home this best defence restor'd;
Her manly sons array'd with parent care,
Arous'd once more her manly youth to war,
And bade her breezy hills, and fruitful plains,
Send forth in arms again their native swains.
Lives there a man in this exulting isle,
Who sees our orchards bloom, our harvests smile,
Who every breath in perfect freedom draws,
His rights protected by the noblest laws;
Would wish to break the fence by wisdom plann'd,
And wrest the sword from every freeman's hand,
Wish to behold our bare defenceless coasts
Unarm'd, or guarded but by foreign hosts?
Dare thy strong powers O Eloquence employ!
This best internal bulwark to destroy?—
Though every guile of specious Fraud he use,
'Mid listening crowds his Poison to infuse;
Try every Wile his curs'd Designs to hide:—
Superior Truth his Cunning shall deride,
Shall tear each paltry mean Disguise away,
Expose his Rancor to the face of day;
His selfish Views to all mankind impart,
And shew the Traitor graven on his heart.
Now turn your eyes and from the mountain's brow
Direct them to the cultur'd vale below;
How rich the spacious plains that stretch between!
How ripe the harvests, and the meads how green!
The herds in myriads o'er the pastures throng;
And mingled lowings break each rural song.
Where e'er with patient care the laborer's hand
Guides the sharp plow-share through the fertile land,
The farmers see the produce crown their toil,
Eye the rich scene, and bless the happy soil.
Soon shall the yellow wealth whose swelling grains
The stalk low bending hardly now sustains,
Stor'd in the barn with jocund labor, yield
To every rural sport the uncumber'd field.
The pointer then shall o'er the stubbled vale
Range unconfin'd, and catch the tainted gale:
The hound's quick scent, or greyhound's eager view,
O'er the smooth plain the timid hare pursue;
Then swelling on the burthen'd breeze afar,
Shall burst the tumult of the woodland war;
While rush the daring youth with breathless speed
To see the wily fox unpity'd bleed.
Let not the Muse the active toil despise,
Or from the chace avert her angry eyes:
Though gentle Shenstone deem'd the hunter's throat
Drown'd with it's clamorous strain the lyric note:
Though pensive Thomson, indolently laid
Beneath the silver willows trembling shade,
Baiting with cruel art the treacherous hook,
To lure the guiltless inmates of the brook,
Blame, as his hands the barbed weapon draw
From the mute wretches agonizing jaw,
Those, who in manly sport with frantic joy
The rapid tenants of the wood destroy:
Yet has the warbling lyre in many a strain
Describ'd the active pleasures of the plain.
The moral bard of Windsor's royal groves
Sings of the hunter, and his toil approves;
Even he, whose verse to mortal eyes has given
The wrath of angels, and the wars of heaven,
Joyful has listen'd to the hounds, and horn,
Rousing with chearful peal the slumbering morn:
Nor shall with brow averse the rural Muse
To Somerville the Poet's meed refuse,
Whose skilful notes each sylvan pastime trace,
And teach the various mazes of the chace;
Whence livelier thoughts and lighter spirits rise,
Strength knits the limbs and courage fires the eyes,
Glows in the ruddy cheek a purer blood,
And rolls the tide of life a sprightlier flood.
Propitious now on Britain's favor'd isle
Though white-rob'd Peace and jocund Plenty smile;
Though while her wrath on hostile shores is hurl'd,
Unhurt she sits amidst a warring world;
Say, have the tranquil scenes which now we see
Been ever such, and must they ever be?
Ah! may not Civil Discord stalk again
With bloody footsteps o'er her ravag'd plain?
Or fell invasion waste her fenceless coast,
Her guardian Fleet by adverse tempests toss'd?
Then, if our country's bleeding breast demands
The aid of dauntless breasts, and ready hands,
To the stout race who haunt the hill and dale
Will nothing then the hunter's toil avail?—
While round her feeble votary's drooping brow
What verdant wreaths shall letter'd sloth bestow?
In vain may Patriot Zeal the bosom warm,
If pale disease unnerve the willing arm:
While the bold youth whose hardy frame defies
The force of fighting winds and angry skies;
Who braving winter's rage pursues the chace,
The sleety tempest rattling in his face;
Or when the dog-star shoots his sultry rays,
Rages unconquer'd by the scorching blaze;
Shall, if he lead Britannia's rustic train,
To the dread conflict of some bloody plain,
Shrink not, though summer suns their beams unfold,
Or biting frosts intensely pierce with cold,
But Freedom's call with stedfast march pursue
Through noontide's sultry heat, or midnight's chilling dew.
Too much the enervate bards of modern days
Attune to slothful ease their moral lays;
The seats of ancient lore their favorite theme,
Lyceum's shade, and hoary Academe;
Forgetful that the stadium's hardy toil,
The boxer's cæstus, and the wrestler's oil,
Sent Grecia's heroes forth a vigorous train,
Learn'd in the schools and victors on the plain.
The Athenian sage, his Country's pride and shame,
Is known to martial, as to letter'd, fame;
Now did he sooth with truth's divine behest,
Young Alcibiades, thy fervent breast,
Now through the paths of war thy steps he led,
And rear'd his guardian buckler o'er thy head,
And he, whose mind with active virtue fraught,
Practis'd each lesson that his master taught,
Not satisfied of love divine to dream,
By the still margin of Ilissus' stream,
Or in warm Fancy's vivid tints to draw
Ideal forms of Polity and Law;
The illustrious Chief who led his glorious band
O'er barren rocks, and deserts black with sand,
Still undismay'd amid surrounding woes,
Still scattering terror on unnumber'd foes.
Learn'd 'midst the echoing forests to sustain
The toils of war and all her horrid train;
Then taught, descending to the embattled field,
Barbarian rage and Persian wiles to yield.
Let Luxury's vain sons with careless pride
The votaries firm of manly toil deride,
Wrap'd in inglorious sloth, let them despise
The noble thirst of glorious enterprise.
But shall the Muse, whose hand should point the road
Which leads o'er rugged steeps to fame's abode;
Whose voice should loudly chant each Hero's name,
To wake in other minds a kindred flame?—
Shall she inglorious now in siren lays
Lavish on harmless Indolence her praise;
Damp the strong flame that warms the noble breast,
And hush each generous passion into rest?
Shall she to those alone confine the song,
Who creep obscure life's tranquil vale along,
And blame the dauntless few who dare explore
The dangerous rocks of bold Ambition's shore;
Who tempt with venturous prow life's stormy seas,
And toil themselves to buy for others ease;
Unaw'd by tyrant power, or factious hate,
Who tread with blameless feet the paths of state;
Or pluck bight honor's sacred meed afar,
Undaunted, from the frowning front of war?
Well may with pious hand the indignant Muse
To many a Victor's brow the wreath refuse,
Well may she tear the laurel vainly spread
O'er many a King's and many a Warrior's head;
And curse a Cæsar's or a Cromwell's name,
Though erring myriads call their ravage fame.
But shall not they who conquer, or who die,
In the great strife of injur'd Liberty,
A tribute from the peaceful bard expect,
Sung by those Muses whom their swords protect?
Say cannot Greece and Rome their warriors bring,
To whom even Virtue's hand might strike the string?
Say cannot Albion, 'mongst whose sons we find
All that exalts and dignifies mankind;
Say cannot she afford such themes of praise
As well might grace the poet's chastest lays?
She can!—she can!—Her Alfred planning laws,
Her Godlike Hambden bleeding in their cause;
Guiding with uncorrupted hands the state
Her Walsingham in scorn of fortune great;
Her gallant Wolfe triumphant even in death,
While weeping Victory caught his parting breath;
Her Hawke, whose ardor rocks nor shoals could bar,
Nor the dread rage of elemental war,
While his bold fleet the Gaul's design explores,
Destroys his navy, and insults his shores;
Are themes whose force the coldest bard may fire,
To call forth rapture from his sounding lyre,
While Truth shall listen to the warbling strings,
And Reason vindicate what Fancy sings.
Enough, rash Muse! tempt not the arduous height
Which asks the Epic or Pindaric flight:
To the fair vale again reduce the lay,
Ere envious twilight snatch the scene away;
For evening's shades with deepening tint prevail,
And darkness soon shall wrap the misty dale.
Here Coleshill's towers demand their share of fame,
Proud of their site, and their great Artist's name;
There, shelter'd from the storm by bowering trees,
The milder charms of verdant Becket please.
What though her level lawn nor sinks, nor swells,
Forms rising hills, or hollow-winding dells;
Yet every friend to genuine taste, who roves
Or by her shining lakes or through her groves,
Shall see a Grace in every solemn shade,
And own that Beauty crowns each watery glade.
Let Taste capricious strive to charm the heart
With all the nice perplexities of art,
With toil immense a sickly scene produce
Trifling in ornament as void of use,
Bid Britain's hills Arabia's sweets perfume,
Bid in our vales Sabæan roses bloom,
Bid summer's fruits 'mid winter's frosts appear,
Force stubborn Nature and invert the year.
To blend utility with each design
The nobler praise, O Barrington! be thine;
The smooth canal whose ample sheet supplies
Food for the board, and pleasure to the eyes,
O'er the morass in shining volumes laid
Drains the moist surface of the rushy glade,
And where the marsh and frequent slough impede
The shatter'd carriage, and the floundering steed,
There the firm causeys form'd by useful care
O'er the deep vale the thankful traveller bear.
Contract the prospect now, and mark more near
Fair Faringdon her humble turret rear,
Where once the tapering spire conspicuous grew,
Till civil strife the sacred pile o'erthrew:
For as on hapless Stuart's ruin bent,
Against yon walls their lord his thunder sent,
And led with ruthless rage the hostile train,
While his own weeping Lares plead in vain;
The balls invade, with erring fury driven,
The hallow'd structure consecrate to heaven.
Such is alas the baleful fruit that springs
From factious subjects and oppressive kings!
Beneath yon roof by the cold pavement press'd,
My peaceful sires in solemn silence rest.—
Imagination flags her pinions here,
And o'er the marble drops the filial tear;
Here too the Muse prepares the votive verse,
The mournful tribute to a Parent's herse;—
O sacred Name! by every tie endear'd!
Lov'd by your friends, by all who knew rever'd.
How well you bore, to Freedom ever just,
This fertile County's delegated Trust,
The British Senate saw, when firm you stood,
Firm to fair Virtue, and your Country's good;
Friend to the worth from Patriot Zeal that springs,
No dupe to Faction, and no Slave to Kings.
How far your private merits could extend,
How kind a Father, and how warm a Friend,
My faultering voice would strive to sing in vain,
For gushing tears would choke the imperfect strain;
The force of words unequal to impart
The strong sensations of my heaving heart.
Here ever slumbering with the silent dead,
Thy daughter, glorious Hambden! rests her head.
Ah cruel mother! say, why does not here
Thy youthful Hambden press his early bier?
Why does no storied urn his worth proclaim,
Who shar'd his grandsire's virtues with his name?—
Untimely on a distant shore he died,
The wretched victim of a parent's pride.
Ye mourning Loves and Graces, aid the verse,
While I in plaintive notes his woes rehearse;
To these his native fields his wrongs relate,
The hapless story of a Lover's fate.
His youthful form could boast each manly grace,
Health strung his nerves, and beauty deck'd his face;
Ingenuous shame, and truth that scorns disguise,
Glow in his cheek, and sparkle in his eyes:
But ah! when manhood now with genial ray
Began to call his virtues into day,
Love! all controling Love! whose fatal power
Spares the rank weed to crop the blushing flower,
Nip'd all his ripening graces in their bloom,
And early mark'd his merits for the tomb.
An aged swain, whose lowly cottage stood
Where 'midst the valley spreads yon rising wood,
A lovely daughter had, whose matchless form
The frozen heart of sapless age might warm:
With falling snow her polish'd skin could vie,
Her lips the coral sham'd, the jet her eye:
There love and modesty united speak,
And opening roses paint her glowing cheek;
The soft redundance of her hair behind
Flow'd loose, and careless wanton'd in the wind;
Such powerful charms the youthful Hambden fire,
He saw perfection, and he felt desire:
The growing passion every thought employs,
Disturbs his peace, and poisons all his joys.
Maria's image ever in his breast
His daily ease destroys and nightly rest;
From his wan cheek the lively crimson flies,
And smiling health forsakes his sinking eyes:
No more his well-breath'd hounds, at early dawn
Ranging, dash eager o'er the dewy lawn;
Now sad he wanders through the sylvan glades,
And sighs responsive to the lonesome shades,
Each Echo answers to his mournful tale,
And pensive numbers float on every gale.
But, as increasing Love resistless grew,
From his torn bosom vanquish'd Prudence flew;
To fair Maria's feet he sighing came,
Confess'd her empire and avow'd his flame;
Soon his soft words the beauteous virgin move,
And secret Hymen crown'd his eager love.
Now peace and happiness appear to spread
Their flattering pinions o'er his favor'd head;
Love every joy and every charm supplies,
And marks each golden moment as it flies.
Ah hapless pair! the short-liv'd bliss enjoy,
Soon shall impending clouds your calm destroy;
Even now, with more than mortal vengeance red,
The tempest bursts on each devoted head.
Ten quick-revolving moons had roll'd away,
And smiling transport crown'd each happy day;
When various symptoms to the world disclose
Maria soon must feel a mother's throes:
The busy neighbours round the tale proclaim,
And scowling Envy triumphs in her shame.
At length the generous youth, distress'd to hear
Each clownish tongue her reputation tear,
Throws with indignant scorn the veil aside,
And owns the fair Maria for his bride.
Soon as his cruel mother heard the tale,
Swift grows her cheek with trembling anger pale;
In vain his youth, in vain her beauties plead,
Instant revenge pursues the imprudent deed;
No worth could please to peasants when allied,
No charms disarm the force of female pride.—
Say did thy Father such distinctions find,
Amidst the equal race of human kind,
When his keen sword he drew in Freedom's cause,
And bled to vindicate her trampled laws?
While rage and hate the ruthless matron fire,
She bears the fatal tidings to his sire,
Tries every art a father's wrath to move,
Awake his vengeance, and subdue his love.
With savage cruelty they now divide
The hapless Hambden from his weeping bride:
She rends her hair, and beats her breast in vain,
Torn from her arms he seeks the distant main.
It chanc'd that Britain's hardy sons prepare
To pour on haughty Spain their naval war.—
Brief let me be, the winds propitious blew,
Proud o'er the waves the gallant navy flew;
Britain aloft her bloody ensign spread,
Iberia saw, she trembled, and she fled;
While her resistless foes exulting bore
The spoils of India to their native shore.—
Ah gallant youth! nor native shore, nor friend,
Shall e'er to thee their welcome sight extend;
Far on a hostile coast thy body lies,
Wash'd by rude waves, or scorch'd by sultry skies.
When sad Maria heard the tale of woe,
From her full eyes no gushing torrents flow;
No current gives her burthen'd breast relief,
But pale she sullen sits in silent grief;
Till her heart bursting with redoubled sighs,
She calls her much lov'd Hambden's name, and dies.
The haughty parents, then alas too late!
Mourn their unhappy son's disastrous fate;
Grieve for the woes their fatal rage supply'd,
Tear their gray locks, and curse their foolish pride;
Pour tears of anguish o'er Maria's grave,
And weep the victims they refus'd to save.
Turn from these solemn scenes the averted head,
The awful mansions of the silent dead!
To where the green-rob'd Dryads joyful rove
'Midst the thick foliage of yon echoing grove.—
Ah blissful seats! beneath whose pleasing shade
My Childhood and my Youth delighted stray'd;
Here first my eyes beheld the gems that shine
Bright and resplendent from the classic mine;
While as I gaz'd my youthful bosom glow'd,
And from my tongue untutor'd numbers flow'd.
Here far from every selfish passion's reach,
Which the world's dangerous school will often teach,
I pour'd to real Love one artless tear,
And breath'd at Friendship's shrine the vow sincere.
The Muses here their grateful offerings pay,
And dedicate to you their closing lay;
Nor ask a brighter wreath to grace their song,
Than verdant grows these waving woods among.
Blest, happy Regions! seats of joy and ease!
Which still have pleas'd me, and must ever please;
Should e'er a Tyrant's Sway, or Faction's Roar,
Drive Liberty from this her native shore;
Though following her, I'd rather friendless go
Through Afric's burning wastes, or Zembla's snow,
Than haunt these much-lov'd shades and favorite springs,
Robb'd of the joys that independence brings:
Yet should I wander to a fairer plain
Than thought can paint, or youthful fancy feign;
Still should I load with sighs the reckless wind,
Still weep those darling scenes I left behind.
If this be weakness! from my beating heart
O never!—never! may that weakness part!—
Let the proud Stoic with disdainful eyes
The thought of local prejudice despise,
And boast in every soil and every air
Where Virtue florishes, his country there;
But ask the generous train whose bosoms beat
With gentle feelings, as with patriot heat;
Would not to see each long-frequented shade
Low on the earth by hostile vengeance laid,
On Albion's desolated fields to gaze,
See her towers fall, her splendid cities blaze;
Though every friend had left the ruin'd coast,
And weeping Freedom mourn'd her empire lost,
Still with new rage their kindling breasts inspire,
And bid their bosoms glow with fiercer fire.
But far from us such sad events shall be,
If aught the Muse prophetic can foresee;
Still Peace and heavenly Liberty shall smile,
With wonted sweetness on their long-lov'd isle;
Pale Tyranny avoid the hostile shore,
And Faction lift her scorpion scourge no more;
Each freeborn swain still reap with thankful hand,
Secure from wrongs, the produce of his land:
And lovely Faringdon! my voice shall still
Or in thy groves, or on this healthful hill,
In rustic numbers sing the happy plains,
Where Freedom triumphs, and where Brunswick reigns.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part I.
As when the stream by casual fountains fed
First gushes from the cavern's mossy bed,
Dashing from rock to rock, the scanty rill
With no luxuriant herbage clothes the hill;
Yet when increas'd the ampler current flows,
Each bordering mead with deeper verdure glows,
It's lingering waves through painted vallies glide,
And Health and Plenty deck it's verdant side;
Till swell'd by wintry storms and sweeping rains,
If chance it's rising deluge drown the plains,
The stagnate waters choke the sedgy soil,
And the fond hopes of future harvests foil:
So first Refinement in it's infant hour
Sheds o'er the savage tribe an useless power,
Nor can it's feeble energy impart
Or grace or softness to the human heart;
But when in Reason's moderate bounds confin'd
It's plenteous streams invigorate the mind,
The rising Arts their genial influence share,
And all the social Virtues flourish there;
Till Luxury's polluting torrents roll
A flood destructive o'er the enervate soul,
And to the flowers of generous growth succeeds
The baneful progeny of Vice's weeds.
Man, ere by rules of civil compact taught,
(Uncouth his form, and unimprov'd his thought,)
O'er the rude waste a selfish savage goes,
Nor mutual cares, nor mutual kindness knows,
How to subsist his Being's sole employ,
Strength all his art, and rapine all his joy;
And where a steril soil, and frowning heaven,
Are to his race by ruthless Nature given,
Compell'd by chace his scanty food to gain,
Pierc'd by sharp winds, or drench'd by chilling rain,
While from the assailing climate, rigid grown,
The alter'd fibres lose each nicer tone,
Long is the torpid soul by want oppress'd,
And dawning Reason slowly lights the breast.
But when his milder, happier portion, lies
In kindly regions, and more genial skies,
Where balmy sweets the ambient gales dispense,
And native Luxury enchants the sense,
Where Earth disdaining cultivation's care
Bids her free sons the luscious banquet share,
And the thick groves a roof sufficient spread
To shield from dews and heat the slumbering head;
Press'd by no want, in leisure's vacant hours
The expanding Mind perceives her latent powers,
And from the silken air the nerves derive,
To each sensation tremblingly alive,
Pleasures uncheck'd by labor's stern control,
And bear each finer feeling to the soul.
Then as reclining on the fertile soil,
Unknown the want of culture's stubborn toil,
His grazing charge the gentle herdsman tends,
And o'er the vale his eye delighted bends,
Ten thousand lovely images suggest
The dreams of Fancy to his tranquil breast,
The female form his soften'd heart inspires
With milder thoughts and more refin'd desires,
Sweet notes of rural courtship fill the grove,
And flow the tender strains of pastoral love:
Or as his eyes the nightly ether view,
And trace the heavenly concave's cloudless blue,
He learns to know what different signs appear
To guide and regulate the varied year;
Observes the changeful Moon alternate show
Her orb full-beaming, and her waning bow,
And marks the inferior Planets as they roll
In stated periods round the shining pole.
Hence every charm that polish'd Nature knows,
All that eludes or weakens human woes
First dawn'd in regions where the solar beam
Pours with superior force the effulgent stream,
And to our view the infant Arts arise
Beneath the warmth of Asia's fostering skies,
Or on Arabia's happier coasts inhale,
Loaded with sweets, the aromatic gale,
Or with attentive ear the fables learn
Of mystic lore, by Nile's redundant urn;
Till gently wafted by the favoring breeze
O'er the smooth surface of Ionian seas,
The smiling train their lovely offspring bore
To rise and flourish on the Grecian shore.
Inventive Fancy emulous to raise
For Worth deceas'd the monument of praise,
To bid Fame live beyond this transient breath,
And snatch heroic deeds from icy death,
With filial love the frail memorial rear'd,
And the heap'd fragment mark'd the tomb rever'd:
But vain the pious care!—Oblivion's sway
Soon swept each undistinguish'd name away,
The story of renown no breast retains,
And unexplain'd the mouldering pile remains.
Then ripening Genius sought the Muses aid,
And rustic Verse it's opening powers display'd;
Though no soft grace of polish'd diction shine,
Though harsh the cadence, and though rude the line,
Yet strengthen'd Memory felt the useful art
That fix'd the favorite legend in the heart;
The hoary Sage the sure advantage saw,
And in rough strains promulg'd his simple law,
In the short verse the moral rule compress'd,
And early form'd to truth the docile breast.
The infant warblings of the Muses lyre
Subdue the will perverse, and passion dire;
Their gloomy wilds the savage race forsook
As Orpheus sung, and milder manners took,
And charm'd to order by Amphion's lay
The forms of civil life mankind obey.
As bursts the beam of day through clouded skies
At length with light ethereal Letters rise,
To chain the fleeting sound their magic taught,
Portray'd the Idea, and embodied thought;
Blest, happiest, privilege to mortals given!
Which wings the aspiring soul from Earth to Heaven.
Whether progressive skill the art acquir'd,
Or power divine the sacred gift inspir'd;
Whether a mere invention of the Mind
As opening Science civiliz'd mankind,
Or a peculiar mark of heavenly grace
At first bestow'd on Israel's favor'd race
Though Reason doubt;—from morn to setting day
The various tribes of human-kind survey,
And own that all who following Wisdom's plan
Fulfil those duties that distinguish Man;
All who extend their penetrating sight
Beyond the reach of animal delight,
This blessing from one common fountain share,
Though ting'd with ignorance, or refin'd by care:
Even Greece where letter'd Science prosper'd best
It's oriental origin confess'd,
Fix'd by the fabled Author Asia's claim,
And mark'd it's source by Cadmus' mystic name.
As the ripe feed when sown with skilful toil
Soon feels the influence of a friendly soil,
With rapid shoots the planter's care repays,
And high in air it's waving boughs displays;
So Greece beheld the ingenuous Arts expand
In her congenial air, and kindly land,
While Freedom by the insulting despot driven
From Southern climes, and Asia's warmer heaven,
Fix'd with delight her European throne
Oe'r favor'd realms, and regions all her own.
Cheer'd by her sway each slumbering Muse awakes,
And from her smiles superior vigor takes:
Now Poesy with animating fire
Throws her bold fingers o'er the Epic wire,
And Lyric Extasy exulting sings
Borne on the Theban eagle's towering wings,
While the chaste Drama rising by degrees,
By care successive polish'd, learns to please,
From the rude outlines of the mimic art
First shewn by Thespis in his wandering cart,
To the fam'd Bards whose labor'd scenes engage
The dumb attention of the Attic stage.
Soon every Science, every Art succeeds,
Happy to follow where a Sister leads.
Charm'd from her seats on Egypt's watery plain,
And freed from fabling Error's mystic chain,
Through the still gloom of Academus' shade
Philosophy with solemn footstep stray'd;
Bold Imitation still to Nature true
The perfect form from perfect models drew,
For ne'er were equall'd Grecia's lovely race
Or for the faultless shape, or beauteous face.
Music devoid of each capricious art
Touch'd with her sweetest melody the heart:
And Architecture plann'd, in awful state
The Dome with just proportion simply great,
Or nobly plain the Doric pile appear'd,
Or her light column soft Ionia rear'd,
Or Corinth bade her polish'd Temples rise
With ornamental grandeur to the skies.
With force united this illustrious train
Grac'd the loud forum, and the holy fane,
But chiefly were their magic charms combin'd
When the lov'd Drama fix'd the Athenian mind:
Whether the drops of generous pity spring
At the sad fate of Thebes' unhappy King,
Or glows the exulting heart with patriot flame
To hear the tale of Grecia's ancient fame,
On this delightful source of virtuous joy
The lavish Arts their choicest skill employ,
And all their various powers at once convene
To dress in gorgeous pomp the attractive scene.
Encourag'd thus by Freedom's favoring smiles,
While every Muse the listening ear beguiles,
While Wisdom grave, and polish'd Grace combine,
At once to form the Virtues, and refine,
Improvement spreads to life's more humble cares,
And Industry the happy influence shares:
Down the steep cliff, and o'er the craggy brow
Strong Agriculture drives his laboring plow,
And to the currents of the rising gale
Adventurous Commerce trusts her swelling sail;
To the bleak rock the cultur'd glebe succeeds,
Where waves the harvest and the vintage bleeds,
And the fraught vessel with her woven wings
The wealth of nations to Piræus brings.
Rous'd by those honors cull'd by Glory's hand
To dress the Victor on the Olympic sand,
With active toil each ardent stripling tries
To bind his forehead with the immortal prize;
Hence strength and beauty deck the Grecian race,
And manly labor gives them manly grace.—
Yet while the scenes of Nature and of Art
The perfect forms of elegance impart,
While Wisdom's sacred lore the bosom warms,
And brighter Virtue boasts her moral charms,
The bliss in social intercourse that lies
Unknown they lose, or knowing they despise,
Illiberal folly 'midst their mirth we find,
And savage grossness taints the noblest mind,
The genial board licentious sports beguile,
And sages woo the harlot's venal smile.
For the soft Sex whose mild enchanting power
With gentle pleasure cheers the festal hour,
Denied the banquet's temperate joys to share,
Are the mere drudges made of houshold care;
Hence faint the force of that refin'd desire
Which modest Beauty only can inspire.
To other paths diverted passion turns,
And with enthusiast ardor Friendship burns.—
Far be it from the virgin Muse to try
O'er that mysterious scene to throw her eye.
Enough for her, while every manly breast
She sees in Virtue's purest radiance dress'd,
Sees every heart, with patriot Glory warm,
Check the proud war, or perish in the storm,
To cry like Philip on that fatal plain
Where Victory wept the sacred Thebans slain,
Curs'd be the slanderous tongue that worth like this would stain.
Though some prevailing characters we trace
Through every nation of the Grecian race,
Though Superstition, Manners, Speech, the same,
One common origin to all proclaim;
Though when the different states assembled stood
By Pisa's shades, or fair Castalia's flood,
Where each time-hallow'd rite conspir'd to draw
On the full festival religious awe,
By the mix'd forms of mutual converse taught
The separate tribes congenial features caught;
Yet Greece no general bond of empire found
Which all her sons in one firm compact bound,
But each republic as it's fabric rose
Peculiar laws, peculiar customs chose.
Sparta, where royal power's divided sway
Alternate knew to govern and obey,
Where Kings and People equal rule restrain'd,
And rigid Law the only tyrant reign'd,
Saw grave Politeness spread her sober grace,
And Modesty suffuse the warrior's face:
No subtle reasoning mov'd her steady throng,
But every sentence clear, concise, and strong,
In artless guise the speaker's mind convey'd,
And simple language simple truths display'd:
No Luxury debauch'd her frugal train,
For public glory there, was private gain.
While Athens, where alike with frantic zeal
All aim'd by turns to guide the general weal,
For wide her blessings ample Freedom threw,
And every voice an equal suffrage knew;
Athens' beheld her sons forego their claim,
The substance quitting for the shadowy name,
And noisy Faction at Ambition's call
Usurp'd that empire which belong'd to all,
While specious Demagogues seduced the sense
With all the flowery tropes of eloquence,
And the free audience polish'd, and severe,
Mark'd each oration with a critic ear.
In vain might Prudence raise her warning voice
If soft persuasion won the public choice,
In vain it's aims might patriot care pursue
If one mistaken accent censure drew.
Awaken'd thus to every thrill of joy
While arts of elegance their thoughts employ,
Borne by the tide of eloquence along,
Mov'd by a tale, a fable, or a song,
Of their own delegated powers afraid,
Despising laws by their own suffrage made,
The fickle race impatient of control
Rush headlong onward to Corruption's goal:
What patriot sage to turn the current tries
Is doom'd to exile, or by poison dies,
And him they raise who impudent and loud
Inflames the passions of the giddy croud:
And though Invasion with remorseless hand
Spread flame and carnage o'er the groaning land,
The Theatre employs their sole debate,
And more they prize the Drama than the state:
If the fond scene present some favorite theme,
Lull'd by sweet Fancy's vain delusive dream,
Of Persia check'd and Greece preserv'd they boast
Though conquering Philip ravages their coast,
And Marathon's victorious deeds display
On the dread eve of Chæronea's day.
Of human glory thus how short the date!
Expence and Pride, on Wealth and Freedom wait,
And from her burthen'd lap Profusion throws
The seeds of growing Vice, and future woes.—
The fervent zeal of public spirit dead,
And patriot Virtue's manly influence fled,
The daring bands of freemen who defied
In fields of blood the Median Tyrant's pride,
Purchas'd, betray'd, divided, and o'erthrown,
Bend to a state their sires had hardly known.
Yet Science lov'd to breathe her favorite air,
Though Liberty was fled still linger'd there.
Even of those Chiefs who shar'd the unjust command
Which Philip and his greater son had plann'd,
Some brave descendants felt the Muses charms,
And sooth'd with liberal Arts usurping Arms;
Warm Patronage awhile with partial ray
Supply'd the loss of Freedom's genuine day,
And Genius consecrates to deathless fame
With grateful voice her Philadelphus' name.
Though mad Ambition soon with impious blow
Laid every fence of civil Virtue low,
And sunk in sloth, or petrified by fear,
No daring arm oppos'd her wild career,
Yet ne'er did abject Luxury's domain
O'er Grecia stretch her universal reign,
Or Asiatic Indolence dispense
That blasting torpor to each blunted sense,
Chill'd by whose touch the generous Purpose flies,
Droops Emulation, faded Glory dies,
While the corrupted heart each vice imbibes
That sinks mankind below the bestial tribes.
Religion, Language, Manners, though we find
Give one strong tincture to the Grecian mind,
Yet different Interest each republic draws,
Divided Claims, and independent Laws,
The neighbouring states eternal war alarms,
And ease invaded yields to manlier arms;
Whence strict the rules of discipline remain,
And firm their courage on the embattled plain.
Though by compulsion strong, and stronger art,
Philip could temporary peace impart,
With potent gold a shameful union bought
Which public Wisdom oft had vainly sought,
Short was the race by his Ambition run,
And short the glory of his conquering son;
Then as the spoils of empire to divide
Contending chiefs with impious ardor tried,
And Freedom bade some bolder states unite
To guard with ancient zeal her sacred right,
The doubtful conflict for a time call'd forth
The dormant relics of heroic worth,
Till every weak distinction swept away
By the full tide of Rome's superior sway,
Whate'er the stores of Grecian art supplied,
Serv'd but to swell the happier Victor's pride;
And haughty Luxury asham'd to own
O'er tributary realms a partial throne,
Attends the rising power by Fate design'd
To fix her boundless empire o'er mankind.
Lo! in the regions whence Favonius blows
A hardy race Hesperia's vales disclose:
With sinews firm the rugged offspring rise
And brave the force of less auspicious skies,
For freezing winds had erst Campania known,
And yellow Tiber worn an icy zone.
The sons of Rome ne'er felt the soft control
Of milky kindness stealing o'er the soul,
Nor did their nerves to pleasure's touch awake
Of gentler thoughts the mild impression take;
The rigid texture of their rougher frame
The dangerous glories of the field inflame;
To wage with sure success the bloody fight
Their favorite care, and war their sole delight.
Victors, or vanquish'd, by the example taught
They found new paths to conquest as they fought.
Triumphant Carthage vaunts her powers in vain
And claims the exclusive empire of the main,
Rome to the sea her ductile Genius turns,
And from her foe the means of Victory learns;
Repairs with wiser toil the ruin'd fleet,
And gains superior art from each defeat,
Her naval care with perseverance plies,
Till, by the course of long experience wise,
The watery war her perfect gallies dare,
And Libya's ancient splendor melts to air.
In vain to check these unremitting foes
Their studied Tactics Grecia's sons oppose,
Whose force compelling countless hosts to yield,
With Persia's bleeding Myriads strew'd the field:
The Legions active, disciplin'd, and fierce,
With varied shock the close-wedg'd Phalanx pierce,
And Freedom's noblest sons are doom'd by fate
The servile subjects of a foreign state.
Their country vanquish'd, still the arts remain,
Still learned Athens boasts her polish'd train;
The flowery garlands there they weave to bind
In pleasures roseate wreaths the Roman mind,
The joys of peace the haughty Victors learn,
And Greece exulting triumphs in her turn.
Though first they view with undiscerning eyes
Sculpture's fair grace, and Painting's glowing dyes,
Though Consuls by the piece the marble rate,
And the wrought brass is valu'd by the weight;
Yet soon their hearts the Muses sway confess'd
And powerful numbers sooth'd the warlike breast,
Each swelling bosom caught the generous fire,
And Roman fingers struck the Grecian lyre:
Not with that fierce delight, that sudden glow
Which from the genuine beams of Nature flow,
That burst of Harmony which pour'd along
The full luxuriance of the Epic Song!—
Matur'd by time their ripening Genius rose,
From the harsh lines of Ennius' measur'd prose
To strains on which the Muse enamour'd hung,
And drank each dulcet note from Maro's tongue.
But ne'er shall Imitation's loveliest charm
Like native Grace the raptur'd bosom warm,
This bright and awful as the beam of day,
That like the paler moon's reflected ray.
By no fallacious hues does Nature please,
But boldly gives the manners that she sees,
Not Truth in Fiction's splendid garb arrays,
But with free stroke the living form portrays,
Her Bards divine the real actions sing
Of the stern Hero, or the warrior King,
Or paint the life the amorous Shepherd leads
In the rich verdure of Sicilian meads,
While with the verse their heated Fancy weaves
Each sacred tale Mythology believes:
But Imitation with correcter hand
Fills but the outline that Invention plann'd,
With care retrenches each superfluous part,
Or adds the tinsel ornaments of art,
Describes the manners that she never knew,
And faintly copies what her Mistress drew;
Hence with assiduous step the Latian Muse
The march sublime of elder Greece pursues,
Content to glean with unremitting toil
The scatter'd produce of her happier soil.
And now the improving sons of Rome behold
The scenes of Attic elegance unfold,
Admire the fane by sculptur'd Nature graced,
And catch from every glance congenial taste:
The Capitol by conquering Consuls trod
Receives with friendly rite each marble God,
In bend majestic swells the Parian arch
Through which in solemn pomp the Victors march;
Rome with delight the pleasing toil pursues,
And emulates the beauties that she views,
Exults in arts and artists of her own,
Bids the warm canvass breathe, and animates the stone.
Happy had Rome adorn'd by spoils like these
Been satisfied with Grecian Arts to please!
But Asia's subject regions now disclose
The fatal sources of unnumber'd woes.—
Each delegated chief who us'd of yore
To guide the thundering battle's furious roar,
Bind the green laurel round his conquering brow,
And then return contented to the plow,
Now proudly stretches with rapacious hand
O'er plunder'd provinces his harsh command;
Loaded with wealth the stern Proconsuls come,
And eastern splendor dazzles wondering Rome.
Caught with the lustre of the shining ore
The charms of Poverty can please no more,
The ancient fame of frugal heroes dies,
And venal hopes, and venal passions rise;
The honest boast of Democratic pride
Is drown'd in dark Corruption's swelling tide,
And Freedom's awful rights are basely sold
For the vile barter of barbaric gold.
No more Rome's venerable Senate flings
Dismay and terror o'er usurping kings;
No more the injur'd Nations grateful see
Oppression tremble at her just decree;
No more her sword is drawn in Glory's cause
For rights betray'd, or violated laws:
The Tyrant buys impunity for vice,
And every public outrage has it's price:
Avarice can fix a giddy people's choice,
And servile legions arm at Faction's voice.
In vain a few with steady courage stood,
To stem the torrent of the whelming flood,
The selfish passions with insidious force
Of patriot worth had poison'd every source;
Still lawless power uprear'd her hydra head,
And Freedom was no more though Cæsar bled.
Intent the aims of faction to compleat,
Now smoother Cunning seiz'd Ambition's seat.—
A Youth unmov'd by pity or by rage,
As Manhood firm, yet cold as palsied Age,
Hiding in specious guile his cruel views,
The impious scheme with ceaseless toil pursues.
His wiles, the work of ages to destroy,
Severity and ease by turns employ;
Death's stern decrees, or friendship's milder call,
Allure the timid, or the bold appal:
The enchanting Muses, whose delightful art
Can bend the stubborn purpose of the heart,
His voice invokes to charm the attentive mind,
And hide the fetters that inslave mankind.
The Muses hear!—forgetful that their sway
Was first produced in Freedom's happier day
They hear, and mindless of their ancient worth,
Betray the parent power that gave them birth,
Adore the Author of their country's doom,
And seal the fate of Liberty and Rome.
After a dreadful scene of war and woes,
The brazen gates of two-faced Janus close,
The sad effects of civil discord cease,
And all a restless world is wrapp'd in peace.
By Actium's Victory stopp'd the fatal strife,
No more the dire proscription threatens life,
No more the bloody scroll of Death appears,
But Mercy's snowy garb Augustus wears.
The gentler Arts each harsher care beguile,
And Science grows beneath his fostering smile:
Around his throne the laughing Loves resort,
And own the influence of a peaceful court.
Pleasures refin'd that Grecia never knew
Croud to the sight, and bless the raptur'd view:
To the pert quaintness of Socratic wit,
Or the rude jests that lower manners fit,
To feasts where sage disputes the hours employ,
Or the loose revels of licentious joy,
Succeeds that intercourse of sweet delight,
Though gay not vicious, and though free polite,
Their mingled gifts where ease and mirth dispense,
Ease void of roughness, mirth restrain'd by sense:
And lovely Woman, though not taught to know
That public homage later days bestow,
With modest smiles domestic converse graced,
And soften'd by her looks each ruder taste.
Even Freedom though her sacred power was fled
O'er Manners yet a parting radiance shed,
On the warm heart was Virtue's form impress'd,
And dauntless Courage fir'd the warrior's breast.
The generous youth in Mars' gymnastic field
By manly sports his hardy sinews steel'd,
Curb'd the bold steed, the dusty conflict stood,
Or plung'd his glowing limbs in Tiber's flood,
Science a milder charm to Valor gave,
And Empire seem'd to polish, not enslave,
Rome equal Arms, superior Arts could boast,
And hardly deem'd her ancient Glory lost.
But short the light of Pleasure's transient gleam!
Soon Nature starting from the illusive dream
Shrinks back affrighted as her eyes survey
The horrid form of arbitrary sway.—
Monsters who built on vice their dreadful joy,
Proud of their crimes and happy to destroy,
Seiz'd the vast power that Freedom's sons resign'd,
And shook the rod of vengeance o'er mankind;
Life hung alone upon a tyrant's breath,
And each capricious frown awarded death.
Amid the waste of years though haply shine
A Titus, Trajan, or an Antonine,
The short-liv'd interval more strongly shews
The striking contrast of despotic woes.
What force can free the mind that Vice has chain'd,
Or clear the current if the fountain's stain'd?—
No distant regions happier hopes afford
Beneath the empire of a milder lord;
Fear still beholds where'er her eye she flings,
Subjected states, and tributary kings;
And Power o'ertakes the exile as he goes
O'er Libyan deserts, or through Scythian snows.
Condemn'd the endless scenes of blood to see,
While looks are watch'd, and hardly thought is free,
In Rome's sad inmates, now a wretched race,
No more the marks of ancient worth we trace,
In the dull soul, a stupid, lifeless void,
Rous'd by no action, by no cares employ'd,
Each fading Energy of Virtue dies,
As droops the plant beneath inclement skies.
The cohorts from the frontier distant far
In slothful ease forget the toils of war,
Or from their camp with factious arms o'erawe
The weak remains of Freedom and of Law,
O'er Senates with tumultuous force prevail,
And set the Empire of the world to sale.
The Muse no more with native beauty warms
But tricks with art her meretricious charms:
Science in simple form, and semblance chaste,
Offends the alter'd times degenerate taste.
Each social Charity of private life,
The smiling offspring, and the tender wife,
Now cease the scene domestic to endear:
For who can wish a wretched race to rear
Slaves to a cruel tyrant's fickle gust,
Rods of his power, or minions of his lust?—
To the sweet joys that blushing Beauty gave
Succeeds the traffick of the female slave,
Till sated the perverted Fancy roves
To monstrous pleasures, and unseemly loves.
Debarr'd each just pursuit, the restless mind
Seeks in flagitious deeds relief to find,
In sensual cares grows exquisitely nice,
And only seeks variety of vice.
Their stores the tributary realms supply
To glut even Luxury's insatiate eye;
For Italy, while Rome no rival knew,
Ere yet Byzantium's sister empire grew,
Saw on her shores contending nations meet
To lay their various produce at her feet.
Commerce who independent states can draw
To equal compact by her general law,
Who weighs what nature gives and what denies,
While mutual barter mutual want supplies,
Exulting Rome contemn'd, who saw unfurl'd
Her conquering banners o'er a subject world,
And her proud offspring buoy'd by ancient fame,
Not gain by purchase, but by empire claim.
All that the warmer southern climes dispense
Fair to the eye, and grateful to the sense,
Whatever eastern regions can afford
To grace the mansion, or to deck the board,
In endless heaps the imperial seat supplied,
Her pleasure gratified, or sooth'd her pride,
At the full feast to indolence resign'd,
Lie the soft race on purple beds reclin'd,
And o'er the room in many a crimson fold
The arras hangs with ivory rough and gold:
Of massive plate the attentive slaves produce
The meanest vessels of domestic use,
And in rich mists the cooling odors shed
Ambrosial fragrance round the listless head,
Through the wide dome the fumes of incense roll,
And Grecia's purest vintage crowns the bowl.
A nation's wealth their lavish fancies waste
To furnish viands for one great repast;
And Luxury her bloated form so swells
We scarcely credit what th' Historian tells.
To load the table when the Tyrant fed,
Seas have been drain'd, and Hecatombs have bled;
The Euxine mourn'd her shores despoil'd of fish,
And woods unpeopled form'd one costly dish;
Even when the calls of appetite were o'er,
And Nature's loaded powers could act no more,
With brutal skill were shameful means pursu'd,
That blunted hunger's sickly force renew'd,
In the pall'd taste could false desires excite,
And goad the sated sense to fresh delight.
In constant scenes like these enervate grown,
The slaves of Lust and Gluttony alone,
No joy beyond voluptuous ease they deem,
And small exertions cruel hardships seem,
From Indolence, and Vice their pleasures flow,
And Fear's the only active power they know:
Too selfish e'er to think of public care,
Too weak the weight of manly arms to bear,
A Favorite's nod degenerate legions wait,
And servile Eunuchs regulate the state.
Firm discipline is lost by long neglect,
And mercenary hosts the throne protect.
Weaken'd by Constantine's misjudging pride
Whose vain designs the imperial strength divide,
Open and wide the extended frontier lay,
To each barbarian hord an easy prey:
On every side the ruffian bands contend,
By turns invade them, and by turns defend,
Till lur'd by wealth and splendor's tempting prize,
The warlike tribes such coward chiefs despise,
Against the trembling race their swords employ,
And spread destruction round with savage joy,
Pour o'er each region like a wintry flood,
And Rome's diminish'd empire sets in blood.
Of the long sway of twice six hundred years
Stupendous fabrick! scarce a wreck appears,
Save a poor remnant as the ruin falls
Preserv'd to languish in Byzantium's walls.
Now through the extent of Nature's wide domain
Once more the horrid powers of darkness reign,
Again Chaotic ignorance rears her head,
And o'er mankind her sable veil is spread.
What scatter'd arts survive the general doom
Retreat to wither in the cloister's gloom;
And if by chance from thence some sickly beam
Shoots faintly forth a transitory gleam,
It serves but like the meteor's lurid light
To add new horror to the shades of night.
The Progress Of Refinement. Part Ii.
As when stern Winter's desolating power,
Arm'd with the piercing frost, and sleety shower,
O'er shivering Nature spreads it's iron reign,
Bare stands the grove, and waste extends the plain;
Yet in the scatter'd seed, and buried root
The embryo blossom hides, prepar'd to shoot
When Spring with milder influence shall prevail,
And balmy Zephyrs breathe the genial gale:
So, wrapp'd in Ignorance, though the human heart
No vivid hues retain of ancient art,
Yet still the dormant seeds expectant there
Await the hour of Cultivation's care;
Still verdant scions from the root shall grow
When mild Occasion's fostering breezes blow,
To bud and bloom again with Parent worth,
And emulate the stock that gave them birth.
Yet as the culture asks severer toil
When poisonous weeds o'errun the useless soil;
So Reason labors long to bend the breast
Where Error's barbarous tenets are impress'd:
Soon learns the untutor'd thought with generous aim
To catch the glow of Virtue's holy flame,
But where strong forms of Prejudice deprave
The simpler rules that untaught Nature gave,
Ere yet Refinement with her gentle rein
The impatient course of giddy sense restrain.
There every dreadful passion will impart
Superior horror to the vicious heart,
And fill the annals of the unhappy times
With dire events, and unexampled crimes.
The ruffian tribes that pour'd tumultuous forth
In countless myriads from the frozen North,
By no soft touch of milder manners graced,
Rapacious inmates of the howling waste,
'Mid the vast wild of Scandinavian plains,
Of tempest and of cold the drear domains,
A system fram'd, whose universal sway
The varied race with common zeal obey,
From where the wintry surges foaming break
Of the loud Baltic, to the Caspian lake.—
Boldly they vaunt with unsubmitting soul
To scorn of sovereign power the strong control,
Yet to the rule of martial order yield,
And own a Monarch on the embattled field.
By Victory crown'd, the chiefs with equal pride
In different lots the subject realms divide,
And the fierce leader of each separate hord
Reigns o'er his share an independent lord,
What arms had won maintaining by the sword.
For though each stern commander homage paid
When War's loud clarion claim'd the promis'd aid,
The tumult o'er, no civil force remain'd
That Anarchy's impetuous rage restrain'd:
Each haughty chief could regal justice awe,
And mock the uncertain rules of feeble law.
In constant feuds the ungovern'd tribes engage,
And the dire battle Hate and Vengeance wage.
No pity unrelenting Conquest shews,
But the fell tyrant spoils his weaker foes,
Licentious Rapine leads the furious train
And Age, and Rank, and Beauty plead in vain.
Though Prejudice may warp, or Passion blind
Awhile, the honest purpose of the mind,
Yet to the conscious soul of man belong
The love of Justice, and the hate of Wrong;
Firm, though obscur'd, the sacred dictates stand
Implanted there by Heaven's creative hand.
Hence while loud Discord bids with giant pride
Sad Desolation o'er the realms preside,
Some nobler breasts neglected Virtue draws
To arm and vindicate her injur'd cause:
Uncheck'd by doubt, by danger undismay'd,
Prompt to redress when sorrow claims their aid,
With equal hand they deal the avenging blow,
And lay with joy the oppressive tyrant low;
But chief they glory when the generous care
Of weeping Beauty calls them to the war,
With dauntless arms her suppliant power they guard,
And deem her favoring smiles a full reward.
For the rough tribes thro' Northern wilds that stray'd
To female merit early deference paid,
The gentler sex partook the grave debate,
And more than shar'd the arduous toils of state.
The hardy warrior whose indignant mind
No arm could vanquish, and no law could bind,
To their commands a willing homage gave,
And each unconquer'd knight was Beauty's slave.
Amid the crimes that barbarous rudeness knows
Thus the fair form of Chivalry arose,
Join'd love's soft glow to valor's fiercer flame,
And mildly sooth'd the intemperate thirst of fame.
It's influence still, defying change and time,
Spreads o'er each modern European clime,
Lives spite of fickle mode's capricious rage,
And marks the manners of a polish'd age.
Though the rude Nations in their inroads bore
The wild Mythology of Northern lore,
Yet soon the splendor of the Roman rite
Caught with it's mystic glare their dazzled sight.
To charm their grosser sense the Priests combine
Each monstrous fiction with a faith divine;
And all that feverish Fancy knows to paint,
The virgin martyr, and the warrior saint,
The fabled cure, and legendary tale,
With force resistless o'er their thoughts prevail.
While such the general impulse of the mind,
To Superstition, and to Arms inclin'd,
A frantic Hermit with enthusiast breath
Kindles the dreadful flames of war and death:
‘Arouse ye chiefs of valiant fame!’ He cries,
‘Lo! Heaven and Glory, point the bold emprise!—
‘No more at human pity's humbler call
‘On man's oppressors let your vengeance fall,
‘Behold on Solyma's afflicted lands
‘The injur'd Deity your zeal demands!
‘The sacred ground by dying martyrs trod,
‘The seats made holy by a bleeding GOD,
‘Mohammed's sons with impious orgies stain,
‘And soil the hallow'd earth with rites profane,
‘Bid resignation's patient votaries feel
‘The pangs of trying flame, and torturing steel,
‘Pollute with murder'd saints the dome divine,
‘And wash with blood Jehovah's awful shrine.
‘Go forth my sons! and with religious care
‘Spread your cross-banners streaming to the air!
‘Secure of praise! secure of conquest go!
‘And wreak heaven's vengeance on a heathen foe;
‘Fame's deathless guerdon shall the victor gain,
‘And crowns immortal sanctify the slain!’
Fired by such words unusual ardors rise,
And far and wide the swift contagion flies,
All ranks, all orders to the impression yield,
And swarming millions croud the tented field.
Not such the numbers Xerxes led of yore
From hostile Persia to the Grecian shore,
When his proud fleet the indignant billows chain'd,
And thirsty hosts the failing river drain'd.
The rash design though pious folly plann'd,
Though discord soon dissolv'd the inconstant band,
From scenes of war yet milder manners grew,
And man advantage from destruction drew.
The haughty chief to arm his numerous train,
And grace with martial pomp the glittering plain,
The wide demesnes of ancient tenure sold,
And fiefs enfranchis'd for the wanted gold:
Whence the freed peasant chearful tills the soil,
And busy Commerce plies her active toil.
While as the countless hosts in long array
Through eastern Europe bend their tedious way,
And view with wondering eyes the gay resort
Of wealth, and splendor, to Byzantium's court,
The wrecks of Roman pride, and Grecian skill
With new delight the astonish'd bosom fill.
Though lur'd by Rapine, war unjust they wage,
And waste the Arts with more than Vandal rage,
Yet soon to scenes of elegance awake,
A softer turn, and nobler aims they take,
Each curious relic while they spoil admire,
And plundering works of taste, that taste acquire.
Even from the mixture of Arabian foes
On the barbarian West improvement rose:
The Saracen had learn'd with liberal heart
To love the paths of Science, and of Art,
The splendors of magnificence had known,
And deck'd in pomp each oriental throne,
But most his glowing Fancy lov'd to rove
Amid the devious maze of Fiction's grove,
And the luxuriance of the fabling lay
Struck Europe's ruder Bards with forceful sway;
The minstrel now who tun'd his Gothic lyre
To teach the son the achievements of the sire,
Blends with the dreadful tale of blood and arms,
What eastern legends tell of magic charms,
Heightens the horror of the furious fight
With the wing'd dragon, and the enchanted knight,
And bids the bold Romance the hearer move
With the mix'd powers of Wonder, War, and Love.
While thus the Muse enjoys her infant dream,
Coy Reason still conceals her golden beam.
Rome's ancient language in impervious folds
From vulgar eyes each source of Wisdom holds,
And as they list the subtle Priests dispense
The scanty shares of knowledge and of sense.
Hence Learning rose, who insolent, and proud,
Looks down contemptuous on the admiring croud:
While, as unmeaning rules the hearer vex,
And artful doubts the wilder'd thought perplex,
In the strict bands of letter'd form confin'd,
Peculiar prejudice enslaves the mind.
Unlike Philosophy's bold sons of old
Who freely question'd what the instructor told,
O'eraw'd by Pride in education's hours
The timid mind distrusts it's opening powers,
Worships each mystic knot by Error tied,
And blindly follows where it's teachers guide.
Rome's legal Code at length on Naples' coast
By chance recover'd, as by ravage lost,
Soon wiser laws, the work of many an age,
Plann'd by the Prince, the Statesman, and the Sage,
Mix with the edicts fram'd in Error's school,
And smooth the rigid form of Gothic rule;
Wisdom unseals charm'd Reason's drowsy eyes,
And once again Astræa leaves the skies.
Themis abash'd, her folly taught to feel,
Less frequent makes to heaven the rash appeal,
And blushes to decide the doubtful right
By burning Ordeal, or the listed fight.
The haughty noble quits the civil sword,
And the gown'd Judge succeeds the feudal Lord,
Impartial Justice curbs the oppressive deed,
And Science smiles from savage licence freed.
Now from the Abbey's solitary site
The imperfect glimmerings shone of classic light.
The still recluse condemn'd for years to pore
O'er the dull leaf of theologic lore,
Awhile would quit fatigu'd the toilsome page
To view the spoils of learning's happier age.
As there his curious eyes delighted trace
The thoughts congenial of a warrior race,
The attractive charm his ruder style refines,
And with more art romantic fable shines.
Those precious relics of imperial Rome
That haply chanc'd to 'scape the general doom,
The scatter'd monuments of old delight,
Strike the warm Fancy, and her powers excite:
The Latian Muse avows her native clime,
And drops the fervile bands of monkish rhyme:
While flying from Romania's ruin'd shore
Westward the Greeks their exil'd learning bore.
O had bright Science then with perfect grace
Her potent influence shed o'er Europe's race!
Their victor armies at Musurus' call,
Had chased the foe from fad Byzantium's wall.
That source whence verse it's purest charms deriv'd,
The glorious voice of Greece, had then surviv'd;
The docile ear by living masters taught
Had from their speech the genuine accents caught,
In native tones the Attic Muse had sung,
Nor mourn'd like Philomel her mangled tongue.
Again Hesperia's happy seats behold
The sacred laurels bud that bloom'd of old.
Chear'd and protected by the papal throne,
The rising arts a Leo's bounty own.
Starts from the sculptur'd stone the breathing frame
To emulate the forms of ancient fame;
The speaking canvass boasts a livelier hue
Than e'er Apelles' plastic pencil drew,
As Raphael's lines, or Titian's glowing dye,
Bid the bold picture strike the enchanted eye.
In Tuscan numbers Tasso's powers display
The solemn grandeur of the Epic lay;
While Vida tunes to Roman strains the wire
With Virgil's sweetness, and with Virgil's fire.
And even from northern Belgia Science draws
Superior strength to vindicate her cause.
The tedious manuscript no longer foils
The verbal copyist's persevering toils,
No more the expensive volumes only wait
To deck the palace of the rich and great,
On letter'd art the press new strength bestows,
And ampler rays diffusive learning throws.
The increasing powers of ripening sense pervade
The gloomy stillness of the cloister's shade,
Destroy the bonds that Reason's force confin'd,
And burst the fetters that enchain'd the mind.
Though the lone Abbey from barbarian rage
Sav'd the bright ruins of the classic page;
Though sometimes meek Religion's holy form
Would faintly shine through Superstition's storm:
Yet every vice that shuns the face of day
Work'd in monastic night it's secret way;
Each impious wile the Church unceasing tries,
That spreads her empire, or her stores supplies;
Now on the expiring votary's heart employs
The enchanting vision of seraphic joys,
Now bids despair attend the parting breath,
And plants with thorns the trembling bed of death;
Draws from the fears of langour and of pain
The rich possession, and the wide domain,
On the sad Widow's spoil the altar rears,
And bathes the sacred fane with Orphan tears.
Drunk with the vast excess of wealth and power,
Unmindful of returning Reason's hour,
She boldly prostitutes the laws of Heaven,
And for vile lucre is the indulgence given.
Crimes even that Nature shudders to behold
Obtain their pardon for the stated gold,
And impious leave for future Vice is sold.
But the long reign of Gothic night is pass'd,
And Wisdom's awful morning dawns at last,
The fierce anathemas unheeded come,
And Luther shakes the enormous power of Rome.
The forms of Falshood strive in vain to bear
The trying search of Truth's ethereal spear.
Even those less happy regions that remain
Press'd by the weight of Error's galling chain,
Immers'd in clouds of darkness though they seem,
Catch a faint twilight from the distant beam:
Convinc'd that true Religion's piercing eye
Will every source of pious fraud descry,
The furious Priest corrects his cruel zeal,
And milder sway the breathing nations feel,
Mercy's soft calls the bigot's wrath assuage,
And papal thunder loses half it's rage.
In Gaul the contrast strongly mark'd appears
Of Reason's force, and Error's gloomy fears:
With fond delight her partial eye surveys
Each hallow'd prejudice of earlier days,
Yet though her sons with ancient rite adore
The legendary saints that liv'd of yore,
Oft arm'd by hate though Persecution stood,
And drench'd Lutetia's walls with native blood;
Her's was the earliest boast with lenient care
To form soft Courtesy's attractive air;
Throw o'er the willing mind Politeness' chains,
And raise that empire which she yet maintains.
But on Britannia's shores with ample sway
Religion's purest charms their power display.—
As the dread earthquake and the raging storm
The high behests of awful heaven perform,
So a proud tyrant's disappointed aims
Broke the strong tie of Rome's despotic claims.
The labors by the haughty sire begun
Attain perfection from the pious son;
And though a female's bigot zeal succeeds,
Burns the firm martyr, and the patriot bleeds,
While stand Iberia's sons exulting by
And civil Freedom mark with harpy eye,
The transient terror flies, like vapors driven
By sweeping Eurus o'er the face of heaven,
And Worship freed from each polluting stain,
Adorns the annals of Eliza's reign.
Hail glorious Queen! in whose propitious hour
The towering structure rose of Britain's power.
Let the Historian laboring to impart
His favorite paradox with envious art,
Invoke capricious Malice to deface
The scene of Albion's ripening strength and grace:
Still shall the voice of former times be heard
To vindicate that worth our sires rever'd.
'Twas thine to bid Britannia's native force
Check rash Invasion in her headlong course,
Old Ocean's waves with prows triumphant sweep,
And reign unrivall'd o'er the subject deep:
Thine too the milder glory to increase
The gentle sway of Courtesy and Peace.
Though Artists with fastidious look behold
The dome it's rude magnificence unfold,
Though modern Elegance affect to scorn
The rougher Manners which thy court adorn,
Yet sure some reverential awe shall wait
Each venerable pile of ancient state;
Yet sure some bosom even those days shall charm,
When Love romantic, strengthening Valor's arm,
Call'd each heroic passion boldly forth,
And gave the admiring world a Sydney's worth.
The expectant Muse at length with joyful eyes
The rising hope of ancient fame descries.
Melodious Spenser while his cares refine
The wild redundance of the Saxon line,
On Gothic fable rears his rich machine,
And sings the paynim foe and elfin Queen:
While like the laurel'd son of Grecian fame
Immortal Shakespear burns with native flame.—
Unequall'd Bard! the grateful Muse shall raise
To thee the monument of deathless praise,
Nor interweave one flower of foreign bloom
Amid the votive wreaths that deck thy tomb:
For no faint blaze from elder learning caught
Rais'd in thy breast the imitative thought;
Nor shall my verse compare thy wonderous page
With the best scenes of Athens' perfect stage,
Or of thy Phœnix wing a rival own
Save the Mæonian Prodigy alone.
A numerous train of tuneful Bards succeed,
Strike the loud lyre, or fill the warbling reed.
In the just pride of inborn Genius bold,
Yet taught by every Muse that charm'd of old,
Soaring with eagle eye, and eagle flight,
Amid the realms of empyrean light,
Lo Milton throws with daring hand away
The splendid fetters of the Runic lay!
While Dryden's clear harmonious notes rehearse
The humblest subject in the sweetest verse,
Nor ask the figur'd style or pompous phrase,
From common speech his simplest lines to raise;
Yet when some theme with energy sublime,
Calls forth the wonders of his varied rhyme,
'Tis his to catch the animating fire,
Bid the bold strain to giddy heights aspire,
Rival the Mantuan swan, or mate the Theban lyre.
But while fair Poesy with favoring smile
Beholds her votaries thrive in Albion's isle,
The meeker Arts with trembling step explore
Some safe asylum on a foreign shore,
For o'er her fields stern War terrific stood,
And long and dreadful raged the thirst of blood.—
Though the poetic bay with changeless form
Braves the worst fury of the thundering storm,
The inferior flowers that paint the shelter'd vale,
Shrink at the breath of every ruder gale.—
Soon polish'd Gallia's hospitable plain
Yields a kind refuge to the exil'd train,
For civil Fury from her seats was flown,
And Monarchy had fix'd her stable throne,
Their gifts the smiling powers of Peace disclose,
And Lewis there a new Augustus rose:
A Prince's wiles again the Arts invoke
With magic touch to lighten Slavery's yoke,
Reason's keen eye with skilful care to blind,
And turn from Freedom's view the active mind.
The grateful race encourag'd by his sway
The patronage with ample bounty pay,
Give what his fleets and armies ne'er could claim,
Unsullied glory, and unenvied fame.
For though a British Muse would blush to aid
The guilty fabric by Ambition made,
Yet to impartial rules of Justice true
She gives the praise to real Merit due.—
Not opening Science nor encourag'd Art
Alone their lustre to his reign impart:
The splendid period by his care refin'd
Marks a strong era of the improving Mind.
By him new modell'd wondering Europe saw
Her ancient Arms, her Manners, and her Law.
Though dear the price each fair attainment cost,
When in the exchange was Independence lost.
Beauty with sense endow'd, with sweetness graced,
Sits the chief arbitress of soften'd taste,
And fame attends, as her applauding eyes
Of valor or of wit, award the prize.
No more the rural Lord mid distant plains
O'er vassal fiefs a little tyrant reigns;
To the gay circle of the Monarch's court
All Power, all Splendor, and all Arts resort,
There steep'd in joy the nobler race reside
And change for royal smiles provincial pride.
While marshall'd Discipline with studious care
Gives a new semblance to the forms of War:
No more, their stated service forced to yield,
Untrain'd the hasty levies throng the field,
No more the stripling of illustrious birth
Leads armies by hereditary worth:
An order of the state the Soldier stands,
And though a slave himself the rest commands,
Derives his rank from regal will alone,
And only pays obedience to the throne.
While Gallia thus a general power obtains
And guides mankind by soft Opinion's reins,
Long was the scene of bleeding Britain's woes
Ere from the strife emerging Peace arose.
Each party yields at times, at times prevails,
As changing Fortune lifts her dubious scales;
Till lost, or scatter'd, Virtue's Patriot train,
Her cause deserted, and her Hambden slain,
Contending sects fulfill'd a Tyrant's view,
And Faction seiz'd the sword that Freedom drew;
In civil rage each gentler care was drown'd,
And fierce on joy the wild Enthusiast frown'd.
Nor when reviving Albion saw restor'd
Her ravish'd sceptre, and her legal lord,
Did liberal art the polish'd lustre boast
That mark'd each work of Gallia's rival coast,
Licentious Vice a laughing court debas'd,
And looser Manners tainted public Taste.
Nor could a graver prince intent alone
To change religion on his tottering throne,
From a short reign of struggle and of care
One transient smile to prostrate Science spare.
And though we own with deference and with awe,
The public virtues that adorn'd Nassau,
Yet candor must confess his rigid mind
No Pleasure sooth'd, no Elegance refin'd.
At length Britannia's sons with transport view
Another Queen their ancient fame renew,
Once more the prize in Arts and Arms obtain,
And see Eliza's days reviv'd in Anna's reign.
Whate'er of wisdom, and whate'er of grace,
Could form or dignify the human race,
Taught Albion now her splendid worth to raise,
Beyond the envied height of classic praise.
For say could all the learned sage display'd
In Academus, or the Tuscan shade,
Compare with Newton, whose immortal force
Pursued coy Nature to her inmost source,
Or Locke who knew with lynx's eye to find
Man's secret Soul, and analyse the Mind?
Or shall Refinement in the brightest page
Of Roman Splendor rival Anna's Age?
Where, though Politeness now of freer school.
Condemn Formality's too rigid rule,
Adorn'd by Reason, Converse learn'd to please,
And manly Dignity attemper'd Ease,
Public attention waited conscious Worth,
And liberal Manners mark'd illustrious Birth.
The Muses too their tuneful powers employ,
And the loud Pæan join of general joy:
What though their voice strikes not the ravish'd ear
With notes that Greece and Rome were wont to hear,
Yet when sweet Pope's melodious lines convey
The moral subject in the perfect lay,
To British numbers charms unknown impart,
And varied sounds combine with happiest art,
Rapp'd with delight Aonia's listening throng
Drink the soft accents of the dulcet song,
And own the immortal strains of earlier time
Are nearly rivall'd in a northern clime,
By verse of Gothic frame and manacled with rhime.
Though Britain must revere the kings who draw
Their royal claims from Liberty and Law,
In holy Freedom's pure regalia shine,
And deem a People's Voice their Right Divine:
Yet midst her patrons Science cannot place
The earliest monarchs of the Brunswick race.
No princely favor kindles Genius' flame;
Or raises modest worth to wealth or fame;
To private vanity the artists trust,
Whence the stiff portrait, and the unmeaning bust,
While her Pagodas gaudy China rears,
And Cibber's brow the sullied laurel wears.
But see! a Prince succeeds whose generous heart
The liberal Patron glows of every art,
The slumbering train warm'd by his chearing smile
Break from their trance, and polish Albion's isle.
Yet though Medusa's charm revers'd is shewn
As Sculpture animates the Parian stone,
By Architecture though the dome is graced
With all the ornaments of Attic taste,
Though drawn by Painting's animating hand
With life, with character, the portraits stand;
Yet Britain's candid sons must yield the prize
To the bright influence of Italian skies,
Where Guido's touch enthusiast rapture fir'd,
And holy zeal a Raphael's tints inspir'd.
Theirs be the unenvied triumph!—while applause
From her inventive powers Britannia draws.
The stores in Nature's rural empire placed
To chuse with judgment, and arrange with taste,
O'er the soft grace her genuine forms impart
To throw the simple stole of decent Art,
For the high fountain, and the pent cascade,
Cyphers of turf, and cabinets of shade,
To teach the wave in graceful bends to flow,
To crown with wood the mountain's heathy brow,
And bid the flower and blooming shrub succeed
The rugged bramble, and the loathsome weed,
This be her glory!—pleas'd to shine alone
In native charms, and Beauty all her own:
Secure her fame unhurt by time shall stand
Since Mason's verse records what Brown has plann'd.
But ah! while thus the Arts inferior train
Thrive in the sunshine of a George's reign;
Sweet Poesy, whose sacred powers exceed
The Sculptor's chisel, and the Painter's reed,
Whose pen has Virtue's moral shape design'd,
And drawn the immortal image of the Mind,
Whose magic sounds to melody dispense
The flowers of Fancy, and the force of Sense;
Sweet Poesy, neglected and forlorn,
The feeble rays of patronage must mourn.
By wealth or wisdom placed in happier state
Though a bold few disdain to court the great;
Though Mason frame the warm descriptive lay,
Or strike the lyre with Pindar, and with Gray;
Though listening Harmony with raptur'd ear
Attentive stand, the enchanting notes to hear,
As sailing on the rainbow-tinctur'd wings
Of chaste Imagination, Hayley sings:
In plaintive strains at sighing Friendship's call
Though tuneful Seward mourn her Andre's fall,
And wrap the felon cord that clos'd his breath
In radiant Glory's amaranthine wreath;
Tho' Warton young-ey'd Fancy's favorite child,
On whose auspicious birth the Muses smil'd,
And taught his glowing colors to portray
The rural landscape, and the vernal day,
With classic Art his flowing numbers fill,
And join the Critic's to the Poet's skill;
Yet as with streaming eye the sorrowing Muse
Pale Chatterton's untimely urn bedews,
Her accents shall arraign the partial care
That shielded not her son from cold despair:
And many a bard by frowning Fortune led
To abject interest bows the venal head,
Compell'd to point with cruel wit the dart
That wing'd by malice rives the blameless heart,
Or ideot pride by slavish notes to raise,
And cast to swine the precious gems of praise.
O let, Imperial George! the Muses share
The kindly dews of thy parental care.
Too oft has Poesy with servile aim
By tyrants favor'd, sung a tyrant's fame,
O let one monarch wake her nobler rage,
And consecrate to Truth her holy page!
Rais'd by thy hand, I see on Albion's plain
The seeds of Grecian glory bloom again!
See Genius plume once more her eagle wing,
Hear other Homers, other Shakespears sing!
And while their voice down time's eternal flood
Wafts the clear honors of the Wise and Good,
Ages unborn shall bless the just decree,
And future Heroes owe their fame to thee.
Here let us pause,—attentive to survey
The present æra of Refinement's sway.
As in some perfect scene of Britain's isle,
Where all the charms of cultur'd Nature smile,
To velvet lawns, and flowery shades, succeed
The furrow'd champain, and the irriguous mead,
Then woods, and heaths in soft perspective rise,
Till rough the distant mountains meet the skies;
So let our search the changing picture trace
Through all the different tribes of human race;
The strong gradations mark with curious eye
Midst civil and barbarian life that lie,
From Europe's crouded towns and inmates mild,
To the rude savage, and the dreary wild.
Conspicuous rising o'er the various scene,
Of Arts and Arms, though Europe shine the Queen
Yet even her offspring from Refinement share
Unequal influence, and a partial care.
With studious zeal the polish'd sons of France
Lead up attractive Pleasure's airy dance,
Each varied mark of character forsake
One pliant form of general mode to take,
The fairest wreaths from Courtesy to claim
Their first ambition, and their proudest aim.
Not so Britannia, on her bleaker plains
Still wild Caprice in spite of Science reigns,
No central court there all distinction draws,
No judge directs of critic art the laws,
All as they list presume to regulate
The page of learning and the powers of state,
Indignant cast each servile rule away,
Nor even in Taste admit despotic sway.—
No ductile texture can the mind acquire
Mid Faction's storms, and Freedom's glowing fire:
The amorous youth at Party's noisy call
Quits for the grave debate the lively ball;
And in the social scenes of softer grace
Will Business oft intrude with serious face,
While Politics on public cares decide,
And settle Europe's rights by Beauty's side.
Though Italy first saw reviving Art,
And wakening Science sooth again the heart,
She loiters now in Glory's bright career,
Nor longer pants the prize of fame to wear;
No more her pencil bids the canvas glow,
But yields the envied wreath to Reynolds' brow;
Damp'd is the bold Historian's generous fire,
Numb'd the free hand, and mute the living lyre.
Yet her's the boast with skilful touch to bring
The sweetest sounds from Music's trembling string,
To bid full Harmony with swelling note
In undulating lays of Rapture float,
The liquid strains of melody prolong,
And lap the soul in extasy of song.
Iberia's sons, of yore who foremost strove
In the bright lists of Valor and of Love,
Who caught in early time each softer grace
From their brave victors of the Moorish race,
(No more to Emulation's call awake,)
The paths of Glory and of Art forsake.—
What time Columbus taught them to explore
The treasur'd wonders of the Atlantic shore,
Gold, all corrupting gold with fatal charm
Entranced the bosom, and unnerv'd the arm,
And lazy Avarice every wish confines
To the rich produce of the Indian mines.
While Bigotry, whose blast no power survives,
Thro' the waste realms with furious whirlwind drives,
And bids them Heaven's avenging Justice feel
For fell Pizarro's flames, and Cortez' murderous steel.
In Belgia o'er a people's prostrate heads
Her universal reign where Commerce spreads,
The thirst of gain absorbs all other care,
And few the votaries of Refinement there.
While in Germania endless forms conspire
To damp the ingenuous glow of native fire,
The Herald's blazon, and the Noble's pride,
The different ranks so rigidly divide,
That deepest Science, and exalted worth
Can ne'er o'erleap the casual bar of Birth.
Besides such empty claims the thoughts employ,
So clog the free exchange of social joy,
Such serious trifles so engage the taste,
Such dire effects attend a name misplaced,
That far the gentler Graces wing their flight,
Nor bear the drudgery to grow polite.
Yet the strong marks of characters like these
Fade every hour and vanish by degrees.—
Those numerous causes that with different force
Have biass'd, or oppos'd, Refinement's course,
Have dimm'd her radiant beams with sullen gloom,
Or veil'd the lustre of her native bloom,
With daily lapse their weaken'd influence lose,
One general form as Gallia's arts diffuse,
What Prejudice destroy'd, or Error stain'd,
By imitative Zeal is now regain'd,
And Europe's changing race with common care
Affect her manners, and assume her air.
Piercing the midnight gloom of Northern skies
At length in Russian climes the Arts arise:
Already by a patriot Monarch sought,
Had Industry each rougher Science taught,
And now those joys that graver toil beguile,
The favoring warmth confess of Catherine's smile.
O glorious Princess! lo the sorrowing Muse
Thy great designs with anxious look pursues!
For as she frequent bends her weeping eye
To scenes on Europe's utmost bound that lie,
And sees pale Tyranny's oppressive throne
Triumphant rear'd o'er regions once her own,
A gleam of hope awhile her anguish charms
Drawn from thy generous aims, and conquering arms:
She views in Fancy's dream thy Victor host
Drive the grim Despot from the Grecian coast,
Sees European Freedom bless the shore,
And Science grace her favorite seats once more.
Asia's wide realms, on whose propitious earth
First teeming Genius gave Refinement birth,
Lie the sad objects of barbarian sway,
To tyrants fierce, and fiercer lusts a prey.
For on her eastern plain's extremest verge
Her early claims though distant China urge,
Though Arts which Europe saw of late unfold
Inform'd she boasts her wiser chiefs of old;
Yet as her jealous sons have never join'd
The common intercourse of human kind,
To each fond tale the traveller displays
A doubtful credit wavering Reason pays,
And Learning fears the incurious race to own,
Of all unknowing, and by all unknown.
What else exists beneath the cope of heaven
Is to the savage tribe of wanderers given,
Who unrestrain'd by precept or by law,
From climate, and from soil, their difference draw.
The sable African no culture boasts,
Fierce as his sun, and ruthless as his coasts;
And where the immeasurable forests spread
Beyond the extent of Ocean's western bed,
Unsocial, uninform'd, the tawney race
Range the drear wild, and urge the incessant chace.
Amid the wide expanse of southern seas
Where the blest isles inhale the genial breeze,
The happier native in the fragrant grove
Woos the soft powers of Indolence and Love:
But where more keen the ray, more rude the gale,
Manners less mild and harsher cares prevail;
Till in the sad extremes of polar frost,
The sacred beam of human reason lost,
Man scarcely rises from the shaggy brood
That prowl insatiate o'er the icy flood.
Dire were the scene!—but Europe's gentler kind,
Tempting the billowy deep and fickle wind,
With venturous prows each distant seat explore,
And boldly tread the inhospitable shore;
Tame the wild waste, correct the unwholesome air,
And fix of polish'd life the empire there.
On Afric's southmost point their happy toil
Bids gay Pomona clothe the sultry soil,
Their power on Asia's eastern coast commands,
And Ganges flows by European lands:
In the vast tracts beyond the Atlantic main
Their Arts, their Science, and their Manners reign,
Where rising Glory soars with pinion young,
And imitates the parent whence she sprung:
While, (civil Discord's bloody storm o'erblown,)
Albion, her brave descendants proud to own,
‘Lo these my sons!’ exulting shall exclaim,
‘Who caught from me immortal Freedom's flame,
‘And firmly zealous in the holy cause,
‘Extend o'er half the globe Britannia's laws.’
May Europe's race the generous toil pursue,
And Truth's broad mirror spread to every view;
Awake to Reason's voice the savage mind,
Check Error's force, and civilize mankind;
Faith's radiant beam impart to farthest climes,
And teach pure Wisdom undebas'd by crimes;
To the free breeze the swelling sail unfold
Impell'd by Virtue, not allur'd by Gold.
No more with arms the trembling tribes destroy,
But soft Persuasion's gentler Powers employ,
Till, from her throne barbarian Rudeness hurl'd,
Refinement spread her Empire o'er the world.