« PreviousContinue »
Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here,
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,
Yet think not, thus when Freedom's ills I state,
And all that Freedom's highest aims can reach,
O then how blind to all that truth requires,
Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour.
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around, And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound?
Even now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays Thro' tangl'd forests, and thro' dangerous ways, Where beasts with man divided empire claim, And the brown Indian marks with murd'rous aim; There, while above the giddy tempest flies, And all around distressful yells arise, The pensive exile bending with his woe, To stop, too fearful, and too faint to go, Casts a long look where England's glories shine, And bids his bosom sympathize with mine.
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find That bliss which only centers in the mind : Why bave I stray'd from pleasure and repose, To seek a good each government bestows? In every government, tho' terrors reign, Tho' tyrant kings, or tyrant laws restrain, How small of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure, Still to ourselves in every 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 ax, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel, To men remote from power but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.
THE DESERTED VILLAGE.
TO SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
kind, either to add to your reputation, or to establish my own. You can gain nothing from my admiration, as I am ignorant of that art in which you are said to excel; and I may lose much by the severity of your judgment, as few have a juster taste un poetry than you. Setting interest therefore aside, to which I never paid much attention, I must be indulged at present in following my affections. The only dedication I ever made was t cause I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this poem to you.
How far you may be pleased with the versification, and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I do not pretend to enquire ; but I know you will object (and indeed several of our best and wisest friends concur in the opinion) that the depopulation it deplores is no where to be seen, and the disorders it laments are only to be found in the poet's own imagination. 10 this I can scarce make any other answer, than that I sincerely believe what I have written; that I lave taken all' possible pains, in my country excurPons, for these four or five years past, to be certain of what I alledge, and that all my views and en: quiries have led me to believe those miseries real, Which I here attempt to display.-But this is not the
place to enter into an enquiry, whether the country be depopulating, or not; the discussion would take up much room, and I should prove myself, at best, an indifferent politician, 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, I inveigh against the increase of our luxuries; and here also I expect the shout of modern politicians against me. For twenty or thirty years past, it has been the fashion to consider luxury as one of the greatest national advantages; and all the wisdom of antiquity, in that particular, as erroneous. Still, however, I must remain a professed ancient on that head, and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to states by which so many vices are introduced, and so many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed, so much has been poured out of late on the other side of the question, that, merely for the sake of novelty and variety, one would sometimes wish to be in the right:
And ardent Admirer,