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There in the ruin heedless of the dead,
My soul turn from them, turn we to survey
Yet still, e'en here, content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm. Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though He sees his little lot the lot of all;
(small, Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To shame the meanness of his humble shed; No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, To make him loth his vegetable meal; But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil. Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose, Breasts the keen air, and carols as he goes; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep ; Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way, And drags the struggling savage into day. At night returning, every labour sped, He sits hirn down the monarch of a shed; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze ;
While his lov'd partner, boastful of her hoard,
Thus every good his native wilds impart
Such are the charms to barren states assign'd;
But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow;
For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign, I turn ; and France displays her bright domain : Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease, Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please, How often have I led thy sportive choir, With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire! Where shading elms along the margin grew, And freshen’d from the wave the zephyr flew : And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still, But mock'd all tune, and marr’d the dancer's skill; Yet would the village praise my wondrous pow'r, And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour. Alike all ages. Dames of ancient days Have led their children through the mirthful maze; And the gay grandsire, skill'd in gestic lore, Has frisk'd beneath the burden of threescore. So bless'd a life these thoughtless realms display, Thus idly busy rolls their world away: Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear, For honour forms the social temper here : Honour, that praise which real merit gains, Or ev'n imaginary worth obtains, Here passes current; paid from hand to hand, It shifts, in splendid traffic, round the land :
From courts to camps, to cottages it strays,
To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil Impels the natives to repeated toil, Industrious habits in each bosom reign, And industry begets a love of gain. Hence all the good from opulence that springs, With all those ills superfluous treasure brings, Are here display'd. Their much-lov'd wealth imparts Convenience, plenty, elegance, and arts; But view them closer, craft and fraud appear, E'en liberty itself is barter'd here. At gold's superior charms all freedom flies, The needy sell it, and the rich man buys; A land of tyrants, and a den of slaves, Here wretches seek dishonourable graves, And calmly bent, to servitude conform, Dull as their lakes that slumber in the storm.
Heav'ns! how unlike their Belgic sires of old ! Rough, poor, content, ungovernably bold; War in each breast, and freedom on each brow; How much unlike the sons of Britain now!
Fir'd at the sound, my genius spreads her wing, And flies where Britain courts the western spring; Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride, And brighter streams than fam'd Hydaspis glide; There all around the gentlest breezes stray, There gentle music melts on every spray; Creation's mildest charms are there combin'd, Extremes are only in the master's mind; Stern o’er each bosom reason holds her state, With daring aims irregularly great : Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, I see the lords of humankind pass by; Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, By forms unfashion'd, fresh from Nature's hand,