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My fortune leads to traverse realms alone,
And find no spot of all the world my own.
Even 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,
Amid 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
Exults in all the good of all mankind.
Ye glittering towns with wealth and splendor crown'd,
Ye fields where summer spreads profusion round,
Ye lakes whose vessels catch the busy gale,
Ye bending swains that dress the flowery vale —
For me your tributary stores combine;
Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine !
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, amid the scene, to find
Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest.
May gather bliss to see my fellows bless'd.
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,
Still grants her bliss at labor's earnest call: 82
With food as well the peasant is supplied
On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side;
And, though the rocky-crested summits frown,
These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
From art, more various are the blessings sent—
Wealth, commerce, honor, liberty, content;
Yet these each other's power so strong contest
That either seems destructive of the rest:
Where wealth and freedom reign contentment fails,
And honor sinks where commerce long prevails.
Hence every state, to one lov’d blessing prone,
Conforms and models life to that alone;
Each to the favorite happiness attends,
And spurns the plan that aims at other ends—
Till, carried to excess in each domain,
This favorite good begets peculiar pain.
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
And trace them through the prospect as it lies:
Here, for a while my proper cares resign'd,
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;
Like yon neglected shrub, at random cast,
That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.