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And the weak soul, within itself unbless'd,
To men of other minds my fancy flies,
The crowded mart, the cultivated plain,
Thus, while around, the wave-subjected soil
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. Heavens ! how unlike their Belgick 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!
Fired 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 famed Hydaspis glide ; There all around the gentlest breezes stray, There gentle musick melts on every spray; Creation's mildest charms are there combined ; 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 human kind pass by; Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, By forms unfashion’d fresh from nature's hand; Fierce in their native hardiness of soul, True to imagined right, above control; While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan, And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, freedom, thine the blessings pictured here, Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear; Too bless’d, indeed, were such without alloy; But, foster'd e’en by freedom, ills annoy: That independence, Britons prize too high, Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;
The self-dependent lordlings stand alone, All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown; Here, by the bonds of nature feebly held, Minds combat minds, repelling and repelld; Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar, Repress'd ambition struggles round her shore; Till, overwrought, the general system feels Its motions stop, or phrensy fire the wheels.
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay, As duty, love, and honour, fail to sway, 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, stripp'd of all her
charms, The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms, Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame, Where kings have toild, and poets wrote for
fame, One sink of level avarice shall lie; And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'd die.
Yet think not, thus when freedom's ills I state, I mean to flatter kings, or court the great:
Ye powers of truth, that bid my soul aspire,
O then how blind to all that truth requires,
To call it freedom, when themselves are free; Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw, Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law;