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poetry, and at length supplant her; they engross all, Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see, that favour once shown to her, and though but My heart untravellid fondly turns to thee; younger sisters, seize upon the elder's birth-right. Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,
Yet, however this art may be neglected by the And drags at each remove a lengthening chain. powerful, it is still in great danger from the mis
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, taken efforts of the learned to improve it. What
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend; criticisms have we not heard of late in favour of blank verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, anapests To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire;
Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire and iambics, alliterative care and happy negligence! Blest that abode, where want and pain repair, Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it; And every stranger finds a ready chair; and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown’d, has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.
Where all the ruddy family around But there is an enemy to this art still more dan
Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail, gerous, -I mean party. Party entirely distorts
Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale; the judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only And learn the luxury of doing good.
Or press the bashful stranger to his food, find pleasure in what contributes to increase the distemper. Like the tiger, that seldom desists from
But me, not destined such delights to share, pursuing man, after having once preyed upon hu. My prime of life in wandering spent and care ; man flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the most Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view; agreeable feast upon murdered reputation. Such That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, readers generally admire some half-witted thing, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies; who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, the character of a wise one. Him they dignify And find no spot of all the world my own. with the name of poet: his tawdry lampoons are called satires; his turbulence is said to be force, and E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, his phrensy fire.
I sit me down a pensive hour to spend; What reception a poem may find, which has And placed on high above the storm's career, neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, Look downward where an hundred realms appear; I can not tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide, aims are right. Without espousing the cause of The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride. any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to show, that there may Amidst the store should thankless pride repine ?
When thus Creation's charms around combine, be equal happiness in states that are differently Say, should the philosophic mind disdain governed from our own; that every state has a par. That good which makes each humbler bosom vain? ticular principle of happiness, and that this princi- Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can, ple in each may be carried to a mischievous excess. These little things are great to little man; There are few can judge better than yourself how
And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind far these positions are illustrated in this poem. I
Exults in all the good of all mankind. am, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother,
Ye glittering towns, with wealth and splendour
crown'd; Ye fields, where summer spreads profusion round;
Ye lakes, whose vessels catch the busy gale;
For me your tributary stores combine:
As some lone miser, visiting his store,
Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er; Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po; Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor
Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: Against the houseless stranger shuts the door;
Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies,
Pleased with each good that Heaven to man sup A weary waste expanding to the skies;
Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, • In this poem, as it passed through different editions, seve. To see the hoard of human bliss so small; tal alterations were made, and some additional verses introduced. We have followed the ninth edition, which was the And oft I wish, amidst the scene to find at that appeared in the lifetime of the author.
Some spot to read happiness consign'd,
A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.
Where my worn soul, each wand'ring hope at rest, Whatever sweets salute the northern sky
These here disporting own the kindred soil, But where to find that happiest spot below, Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil; Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone
To winnow fragrance round the smiling land. Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own; Extols the treasures of his stormy seas,
But small the bliss that sense alone bestown, And his long nights of revelry and ease : And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. The naked negro, panting at the line,
In florid beauty groves and fields appear, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, Contrasted faults through all his manners reign; And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain; Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam, Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue; His first, best country, ever is at home. And c'en in penance planning sins anew. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare, All evils here contaminate the mind, And estimate the blessings which they share, That opulence departed leaves behind; Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find For wealth was theirs, not far removed the date, An equal portion dealt to all mankind; When commerce proudly flourish'd through the As different good, by art or nature given,
state; To different nations makes their blessings even. At her command the palace learn'd to rise,
Again the long-fall'n column sought the skies; Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
The canvass glow'd beyond e'en nature warm, Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call;
The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form: With food as well the peasant is supplied
, more unsteady than the southern gale, On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side ;
Commerce on other shores display'd her sail; And though the rocky crested summits frown,
While nought remain'd of all that riches gave, These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slavo: From art more various are the blessings sent- And late the nation found with fruitless skill Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content.
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd Each to the favourite happiness attends, The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade; And spurns the plan that aims at other ends; Processions form'd for piety and love, Till, carried to excess in each domain,
A mistress or a saint in every grove. This favourite good begets peculiar pain. By sports like these are all their cares beguiled, But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
The sports of children satisfy the child; And trace them through the prospect as it lies;
Each nobler aim, repress'd by long control, Here for a while my proper cares resign'd,
Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul; Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;
While low delights, succeeding fast behind, Like yon neglected shrub at random cast,
In happier meanness occupy the mind :
As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway, That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.
Defaced by time and tottering in decay, Far to the right where Appenine ascends, There in the ruin, heedless of the dead, Bright as the summer, Italy extends;
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed; Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side, And, wondering man could want the larger pile, Woods over woods in gay theatric pride; Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile. While oft some temple's mouldering tops between With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
My soul, turn from them; turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display, Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast, Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread, The sons of Italy were surely blest.
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread Whatever fruits in different climes were found, No product here the barren hills afford, That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; But man and steel, the soldier and his sword. Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array, Whose bright succession decks the varied year; But winter lingering chills the lap of May;
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast, For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
And love's and friendship’s finely pointed dart
Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast small,
But all the gentler morals, such as play He sees his little lot the lot of all;
Through life's more cultured walks, and charm the Sees no contiguous palace rear its head
way, To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
These, far dispersed, on timorous pinions fly No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal
To sport and flutter in a kinder sky. To make him loathe his vegetable meal ; But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign, Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil. I turn; and France displays her bright domain. Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose, Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes; Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please, With patient angle trolls the finny deep, How often have I led thy sportive choir, Or drives his vent'rous ploughshare to the steep; With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire ! Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way, Where shading elms along the margin grew, And drags the struggling savage into day. And fresheu'd from the wave the zephyr flew; At night returning, every labour sped,
And haply, though my harsh touch falt ring still, He sits him down the monarch of a shed; But mock'd all tune, and marr'd the dancer's skill; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys Yet would the village praise my wondrous power, His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze: And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour. While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard, Alike all ages. Dames of ancient days Displays her cleanly platter on the board: Have led their children through the mirthful maze, And haply too some pilgrim thither led, And the gay grandsire, skill'd in gestic lore, With many a tale repays the nightly bed. Has frisk'd beneath the burden of threescore.
Thus every good his native wilds impart, So blest a life these thoughtless realms display, Imprints the patriot passion on his heart; Thus idly busy rolls their world away: And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear; Enhance the bliss his scanty funds supplies. For honour forms the social temper herc. Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms, Honour, that praise which real merit gains, And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms; Or e'en imaginary worth obtains, And as a child, when scaring sounds molest, Here passes current; paid from hand to hand, Clings close and closer to the mother's breast, It shifts in splendid traffic round the land; So the loud torrent and the whirlwind's roar, From courts to camps, to cottages it strays, Bút bind him to his native mountains more. And all are taught an avarice of praise ; Such are the charms to barren states assign'd; Till seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.
They please, are pleased, they give to get esteem, Their wants but few, their wishes all confined. Yet let them only share the praises due,
But while this softer art their bliss supplies, If few their wants, their pleasures are but few; It gives their follies also room to rise ; For every want that stimulates the breast, For praise too dearly loved, or warmly sought, Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest; Enfeebles all internal strength of thought; Whence from such lands each pleasing science ffies, And the weak soul, within itself unblest, That first excites desire, and then supplies; Leans for all pleasure on another's breast. Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art, To fill the languid pause with finer joy; Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart; Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, Here vanity assumes her pert grimace, Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame. And trims her robes of frieze with copper Their level life is but a smouldering fire, Here beggar pride defrauds her daily cheer, Unquench'd by want, unfann'd by strong desire; To boast one splendid banquet once a-year; Unfit for raptures, or, if raptures cheer
The mind still turns where shifting fashion drawn On some high festival of once 2-year,
Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause. In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire,
To men of other minds my fancy flies, Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire.
Embosom'd in the deep where Holland lies. But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow; Methinks her patient sons before me stand, Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low; Where the broad ocean leans against the land
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
The self-dependent lordlings stand alone, Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride.
All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown; Onward, methinks, and diligently slow, Here by the bonds of nature feebly held, The firm connected bulwark seems to grow; Minds combat minds, repelling and repelld. Spreads its long arms amidst the wat'ry roar, Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar, Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore. Represt ambition struggles round her shore, While the pent ocean, rising o'er the pile, Till
, over-wrought, the general system feels Sees an amphibious world beneath him smile ; Its motion stop, or phrensy fire the wheels. The slow canal, the yellow-blossom’d vale, The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail,
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay, The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,
As duty, love, and honour fail to sway, A new creation rescued from his reign.
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil Hence all obedience bows to thee alone, Impels the native to repeated toil,
And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown: Industrious habits in each bosom reign,
Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms, And industry begets a love of gain.
The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms, Hence all the good from opulence that springs, Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame, With all those ills superfluous treasure brings, Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame, Are here display'd. Their much loved wealth imparts One sink of level avarice shall lie, Convenience, plenty, elegance, and arts : And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'd die. But view them closer, craft and fraud appear, E'en liberty itself is barter'd here.
Yet think not, thus when freedom's ills I state, At gold's superior charms all freedom flies,
I mean to flatter kings, or court the great : The needy sell it, and the rich man buys;
Ye powers of truth, that bid my soul aspire, A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves,
Far from my bosom drive the low desire; Here wretches seek dishonourable graves,
And thou, fair Freedom, taught alike to feel And, calmly bent, to servitude conform,
The rabble's rage, and tyrant's angry steel ; Dull as their lakes that slumber in the storm.
Thou transitory flower, alike undone
By proud contempt, or favour's fostering sun, Heavens! how unlike their Belgic sires of old! Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure, Rough, poor, content, ungovernably bold; I only would repress them to secure : War in each breast, and freedom on each brow– For just experience tells, in every soil
, How much unlike the sons of Britain now! That those that think must govern those that toil;
And all that freedom's highest aims can reach, Fired at the sound, my genius spreads her wing, Is but to lay proportion'd loads on each. And flies where Britain courts the western spring; Hence, should one order disproportion'd grow, Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride,
Its double weight must ruin all below. And brighter streams than famed Hydaspes glide; There all around the gentlest breezes stray, O then how blind to all that truth requires, There gentle music melts on every spray;
Who think it freedom when a part aspires ! Creation's mildest charms are there combined, Calm is my soul, nor apt to rise in arms, Extremes are only in the master's mind! Except when fast-approaching danger warms: Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state But when contending chiefs blockade the throne, With daring aims irregularly great ;
Contracting regal power to stretch their own; Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, When I behold a factious band agree I see the lords of human kind pass by ;
To call it freedom when themselves are free; Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw, By forms unfashion'd, fresh from nature's hand, Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law, Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
The wealth of climes, where savage nations roam, True to imagined right, above control,
Pillaged from slaves to purchase slaves at home While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan, Fear, pity, justice, indignation start, And learns to venerate himself as man. Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;
Till half a patriot, half a coward grown Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictured here, I fly from petty tyrants to the throne. Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear; Too blest indeed were such without alloy, Yes, brother, curse me with that baleful hour, But foster'd e'en by freedom ills annoy;
When first ambition struck at regal power; That independence Britons prize too high, And thus polluting honour in its source, Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie; Gave wealth to sway the mind with double forca
Have we not seen, round Britain's peopled shorc, Now Auburn, now, absolve impartial Fate,
The poet had not sung, nor Britain wept.
Unhonour'd genius, and her swist decay: Have we not seen at pleasure's lordly call, O, patron of the poor! it can not be, The smiling long-frequented village fall? While one-one poet yet remains like thee. Beheld the duteous son, the sire decay'd, Nor can the Muse desert our favour'd isle, The modest matron, and the blushing maid, Till thou desert the Muse, and scorn her smile. Forced from their homes, a melancholy train, To traverse climes beyond the western main; Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around, And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound?
TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS. E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays DEAR SIR, Through tangled forests, and through dangerous I can have no expectations, in an address of this ways;
kind, either to add to your reputation, or to establish Where beasts with man divided empire claim, my own. You can gain nothing from my admiraAnd the brown Indian marks with murd'rous aim; tion, as I am ignorant of that art in which you are There, while above the giddy tempest flies, said to excel; and I may lose much by the severity And all around distressful yells arise,
of your judgment, as few have a juster taste in The pensive exile, bending with his woe, poetry than you. Setting interest therefore aside, To stop too fearful, and too faint to go, to which I never paid much attention, I must be Casts a long look where England's glories shine, indulged at present in following my affections. And bids his bosom sympathize with mine. The only dedication I ever made was to my bro
ther, because I loved him better than most other Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe That bliss which only centres in the mind:
this Poem to you. Why have I stray'd from pleasure and repose,
How far you may be pleased with the versifica. To seek a good each government bestows?
tion and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I In every government, though terrors reign,
do not pretend to inquire; but I know you will obThough tyrant kings, or tyrant laws restrain,
ject (and indeed several of our best and wisest How small, of all that human hearts endure,
friends concur in the opinion) that the depopuThat part which laws or kings can cause or cure. lation it deplores is no where to be seen, and the disStill to ourselves in every place consign’d,
orders it laments are only to be found in the poet's Our own felicity we make or find:
own imagination. To this I can scarcely make any With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, other answer than that I sincerely believe what I Glides the smooth current of domestic joy.
have written; that I have taken all possible pains, The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel,
in my country excursions, for these four or five Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel,
years past, to be certain of what I alledge; and that To men remote from power but rarely known,
all my views and inquiries have led me to believe Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own. those miseries real, which I here attempt to dis
play. But this is not the place to enter into an in
quiry, whether the country be depopulating or not; THE DESERTED VILLAGE; the discussion would take up much room, and I
should prove myself, at best, an indifferent politiA POEM
cian, to tire the reader with a long preface, when I want his unfatigued attention to a long poem.
In regretting the depopulation of the country, 1 TO DR. GOLDSMITH,
inveigh against the increase of our luxuries; and AUTHOR OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE, BY MISS AIKIN, against me. For twenty or thirty years past
, it here also I expect the shout of modern politicians AFTERWARDS MRS. BARBAULD.
has been the fashion to consider luxury as one of In vain fair Auburn weeps her desert plains; the greatest national advantages; and all the wisShe moves our envy who so well complains: dom of antiquity in that particular, as erroneous. In vain hath proud oppression laid her low; Still
, however, I must remain a professed ancient Sho wears a garland on her faded brow. on that head, and continue to think those luxuries