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And must be brib'd to compass Earth' again
But though true worth and virtue in the mild And genial soil of cultivated life Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there, Yet not in cities oft: in proud, and gay, And gain-devoted cities. Thither flow, As to a common and most noisome sewer, The dregs and feculence of ev'ry land, In cities foul example on most minds Begets it's likeness. Rank abundance breeds, In gross and pamper'd cities, sloth, and lust, And wantonness, and gluttonous excess. In cities vice is hidden with most ease, Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there Beyond th' achievement of successful fight. I do confess them nurs'ries of the arts, In which they flourish most; where, in the beams Of warm encouragement, and in the eye Of public note, they reach their perfect size. Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim'd The fairest capital of all the world,
By riot and incontinence the worst.
Not more the glory of the Earth'than she,
She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two, That so much beauty would do well to purge; And show this queen of cities, that so fair May yet be foul; so witty, yet not wise. It is not seemly, nor of good report, That she is slack in discipline; more prompt T
avenge than to prevent the breach of law: That she is rigid in denouncing death On petty robbers, and indulges life And liberty, and ofttimes honour too, To peculators of the public gold: That thieves at home must hang; but he, that puts Into his overgorg'd and bloated purse The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes. Nor is it well, nor can it come to good, That, through profane and infidel contempt Of holy writ, she has presum'd tannul And abrogate, as roundly as she may, The total ordinance and will of God; Advancing Fashion to the post of Truth, And centring all authority in modes
And customs of her own, till sabbath rites
God made the country, and man made the town. What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts, That can alone make sweet the bitter draught, That life holds out to all, should most abound And least be threaten’d in the fields and groves? Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue But that of idleness, and taste no scenes But such as art contrives, possess ye
still Your element; there only can ye shine; There only minds like yours can do no harm. Our groves were planted to console at noon The pensive wand'rer in their shades. The moon-beam, sliding softly in between The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish, Birds warbling all the music. We can spare The splendour of your lamps; they but eclipse Our softer satellite. Your
confound Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs Scar'd, and th' offended nightingale is mute.