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Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall,
But where to find that happiest spot below Who can direct, when all pretend to know? The shuddering tenant of the frigid zone Boldly proclaims that happiest spot his own ; Extols the treasures of his stormy seas, And his long nights of revelry and ease : The naked negro, panting at the line, Boasts of his golden sands and palmy wine, Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave, And thanks his gods for all the good they gave. Such is the patriot's boast, where'er we roam, His first, best country, ever is at home. And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare, And estimate the blessings which they share, Though patriots flatter, still shall wisdom find. An equal portion dealt to all mankind; As different good, by art or nature given, To different nations makes their blessings even.
Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails,
But let us try these truths with closer
Far to the right where Apennine ascends, Bright as the summer, Italy extends ; Its uplands sloping, deck the mountain's side, Woods over woods in gay theatric pride ; While oft some temple's mouldering tops between With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.
In florid beauty groves and fields appear,
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride; From these the feeble heart and long-fall’n mind An easy compensation seem to find. Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd, The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade; Processions formed for piety and love, A mistress or a saint in every grove. By sports like these are all their cares beguild, The sports of children satisfy the child ; Each nobler aim, repress’d by long controul, Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul; While low delights succeeding fast behind, In happier meanness occupy the mind : As in those domes where Cæsars once bore sway, Defac'd by time and tottering in decay,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
My soul, turn from them; turn we to survey Where rougher climes a nobler race display, Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread, And force a churlish soil for scanty bread; No product here the barren hills afford, But man and steel, the soldier and his sword. No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array, But winter lingering chills the lap of May; No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast, But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.
Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm. Though poor the peasant's hut, his feast tho’ small, He sees his little lot the lot of all; 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 loath 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, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes ; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his vent'rous 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 him 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, Displays her cleanly platter on the board :
And haply too some pilgrim, thither led,
Thus every good his native wilds impart, Imprints the patriot passion on his heart; And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise, Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies. Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms, And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms; And as a child, when scaring sounds molest, Clings close and closer to the mother's breast, So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, But binds him to his native mountains more.
Such are the charms to barren states assign'd;
To fill the languid pause with finer joy;
But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow; Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low; For, as refinement stops, from sire to son Unalter'd, unimprov'd the manners run;