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And calmly bent to servitude conform,
Heav'ns ! how unlike their Belgic fires of old !
Fir'd at the sound my genius spreads her wing, And lies where Britain courts the western spring ; Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride, And brighter streams than fam'd Hydaspis glide, 320 There all around the gentleft breezes ftray, There gentle music melts on ey’ry spray ; Creation's mildest charms are there combin'd, Extremes are only in the master's mind ! Stern o'er each bofom reason holds her state 325 With daring aims irregularly great, Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, I see the lords of human kind pass by, Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, By forms unfashion'd fresh from Nature's hand ; 330 Fierce in their native hardiness of soul, True to imagin'd right, above controul, While ev’n the peasant boasts these rights to scan, And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here, 335 Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear ; Too bleft indeed, were such without alloy, But foster'd ev'n by Freedom ills annoy ; That independence Britons prize too high, Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie ; 340 The self-dependent lordlings stand alone, All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown;
Here by the bonds of nature feebly held,
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay, As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
350 Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law, Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. Hence all obedience bows to these alone, And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown ; Till time may come, when stript of all her charms, 355 The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms, Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame, Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame, One link of level avarice shall lie, And scholars, foldiers, kings, unhonour'd die. 360
Yet think not, thus when Freedom's ills I state, I mean to flatter kings, or court the great ; Ye pow'rs of truth, that bid my soul aspire, Far from my bosom drive the low desire ; And thou, fair Freedom, taught alike to feel 365 The rabble's rage, and tyrant's angry steel; Thou transitory flow'r, alike undone By proud contempt, or favour's foft'ring fun, Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure, I only would repress them to secure :
370 For just experience tells, in ev'ry soil, That those who think must govern those that toil ; And all that freedom's highest aims can reach, Is but to lay proportioned loads on each.
Hence, should one order disproportion'd grow, 375 Its double weight must ruin all below.
O then how blind to all that truth requires, Who think it freedom when a part aspires ! Calın is
soul nor apt to rise in arms, Except when fast approaching danger warms : But when contending chiefs blockade the throne, Contracting regal pow'r to stretch their own, When I behold a factious band agree To call it freedom when themselves are free ; Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw, 385 Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law; The wealth of climes where savage nations roam, Pillag'd from Naves to purchase flaves at home ; Fear, pity, justice, indignation start, Tear off reserve, and bear my swelling heart; 390 Till half a patriot, half a coward grown, I Ay from petty tyrants to the throne.
Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour, When first ambition struck at regal pow'r ; And thus polluting honour in its source, 395 Gave wealth to sway the mind with double force. Have we not seen, round Britain's peopled shore, Her useful fons exchanged for useless ore ? Seen all her triumphs but destruction haste, Like flaring tapers brightning as they waste ; 400 Seen opulence, her grandeur to maintain, Lead stern depopulation in her train, And over fields where scatter'd hamlets rose, In barren solitary pomp repose ? Have we not seen at pleasure's lordly call, The smiling long-frequented village fall ?
Behold the duteous son, the fire decay'd,
Ev'n now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays,
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find That bliss which only centers in the mind : Why have I stray'd from pleasure and repose,
425 To seek a good each government bestows ? In ev'ry government, though terrors reign, Though tyrant kings, or tyrant laws restrain, How small of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure ? 430 Still to ourselves in ev'ry place consign'd, Our own felicity we make or find : With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy. The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel, To men remote from pow'r but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.