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A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY. #
REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, And round his dwelling guardian saints attend ; Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire To
pause from toil, and trim their evening fire :
* In this poem, as it passed through different editions, several alterations were made, and some additional verses introduced. We have followed the ninth edition, which was the last that appeared in the life-time of the Author.
Blest that abode, where want and pain repair,
But me, not destin'd such delights to share, My prime of life in wandering spent and care: Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view; That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies; My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, And find no spot of all the world my own.
Ev’n now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, I sit me down a pensive hour to spend; And plac'd on high above the storm's career, Look downward where an hundred realms appear ; Lakes, forests, cities, plains, extending wide, The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
When thus Creation's charms around combine, Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine ? Say, should the philosophic mind disdain That good which makes each humbler bosom vain ? Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can, These little things are great to little man;
And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
As some lone miser, visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er; Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still : Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleas'd with each good that heaven to man supplies: Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, To see the hoard of human bliss so small And oft I wish, amidst the scene to find Some spot to real happiness consign’d, Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest, May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.
But where to find that happiest spot below,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
Nature, a mother kind alike to all,
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
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 mould'ring tops between With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast, The sons of Italy were surely blest. Whatever fruits in different climes were found, That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, Whose bright succession decks the varied year; Whatever sweets salute the northern sky With vernal lives, that blossom but to die; These here disporting own the kindred soil, Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil; While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand To winnow fragrance round the smiling land.
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.