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But while this sofler art their bliss supplies,
It gives their follies also room to rise;
For praise, too dearly lov’d, or warmly sought,
Enfeebles all internal strength of thought—
And the weak soul, within itself unbless'd,
Leans for all pleasure on another's breast.
Hence ostentation here, with tawdry art,
Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart;
Here vanity assumes her pert grimace,
And trims her robes of frieze with copper lace;
Here beggar pride defrauds her daily cheer,
To boast one splendid banquet once a year:
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,
Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.
To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Embosom'd in the deep where Holland lies.
Methinks her patient sons before me stand,
Where the broad ocean leans against the land;
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride.
Onward, methinks, and diligently slow,
The firm, connected bulwark seems to grow, 288
Spreads its long arms amid the watery roar,
Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore—
While the pent ocean, rising o'er the pile,
Sees an amphibious world beneath him smile ;
The slow canal, the yellow-blossom'd vale,
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail,
Thus, while around the wave-subjected soil
Impels the native 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—
Even 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 dishonorable graves;
And, calmly bent, to servitude conform,
Dull as their lakes that slumber in the storm.
Heavens ! 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; als
Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride,
And brighter streams than fam'd Hydaspes 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 human kind pass by, 328
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 imagin'd right, above control;
While even the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here,
Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear;
Too bless'd indeed were such without alloy,
But, foster'd even 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 repell'd ;
Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar,
Repress'd ambition struggles round her shore —
Till, overwrought, the general system feels
Its motions stopp'd, or frenzy fire the wheels.
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,
As duty, love, and honor fail to sway, 350