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And equal; and he bade them dwell in peace.
Peace was a while their care: they plough’d and sow'd,
And reap'd their plenty without grudge or strife.
But violence can never longer sleep,
Than human passions please. In ev'ry heart
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war;
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze.
Cain had already shed a brother's blood:
The deluge wash'd it out; but left unquench'd
The seeds of murder in the breast of man.
Soon by a righteous judgment in the line
Of his descending progeny was found
The first artificer of death; the shrewd
Contriver, who first sweated at the forge,
And forc'd the blunt and yet unbloodied steel
To a keen edge, and made it bright for war.
Him, Tubal nam'd, the Vulcan of old times.
The sword and falchion their inventor claim;
And the first smith was the first murd'rer's son.
His art surviv'd the waters; and ere long,
When man was multiplied and spread abroad
In tribes and clans, and had begun to call
These meadows and that range of hills his own,
The tasted sweets of property begat
Desire of more, and industry in some,
T” improve and cultivate their just demense,
Made others covet what they saw so fair.
Thus war began on earth : these fought for spoil,
And those in self-defence. Savage at first
The onset, and irregular. At length
One eminent above the rest for strength,
For stratagem, for courage, or for all,
Was chosen leader; him they serv'd in war,
And him in peace, for sake of warlike deeds
Reverenc'd no less. Who could with him compare?
Or who so worthy to control themselves,
As he, whose prowess had subdu'd their foes?
Thus war, affording field for the display
Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peaoe, Which have their exigencies too, and call For skill in government, at length made king. King was a name too proud for man to wear With modesty and meekness; and the crown, So dazzling in their eyes, who set it on, Was sure t' intoxicate the brows it bound. It is the abject property of most, That being parcel of the common mass, And destitute of means to raise themselves, They sink, and settle lower than they need. They know not what it is to feel within A comprehensive faculty, that grasps Great purposes with ease, that turns and wields Almost without an effort, plans too vast For their conception, which they cannot move. Conscious of impotence they soon grow drunk With gazing, when they see an able man Step forth to notice: and, besotted thus, Build him a pedestal, and say, “Stand there, And be our admiration and our praise.", They roll themselves before him in the dust, Then most deserving in their own account, When most extravagant in his applause, As if exalting him they rais'd themselves. Thus by degrees, self-cheated of their sound And sober judgment, that he is but man, They demi-deify and fume him so, That in due season he forgets it too. Inflated and astrut with self-conceit, He gulps the windy diet; and ere long, Adopting their mistake, profoundly thinks The World was made in vain, if not for him. Thenceforth they are his cattle: drudges, born To bear his burthens, drawing in his gears, And sweating in his service, his caprice Becomes the soul that animates them all. He deems a thousand, or ten thousand lives,
Spent in the purchase of renown for him,
An reck’ning; and they think the same.
Thus kings were first invented, and thus kings
Were burnish'd into heroes, and became
The arbiters of this terraqueous swamp;.
Storks among frogs, that have both croak’dand died.
Strange, that such folly, as lifts bloated man
To eminence fit only for a god,
Should ever drivel out of human lips,
E'en in the cradled weakness of the World !
Still stranger much, that when at length mankind
Had reach'd the sinewy firmness of their youth,
And could discriminate and argue well
On subjects more mysterious, they were yet
Babes in the cause of freedom, and should fear *
And quake before the gods themselves had made:
But above measure strange, that neither proof
Of sad experience, nor examples set
By some, whose patriot virtue has prevail'd,
Can even now, when they are grown mature
In wisdom, and with philosophic deeds
Familiar, serve t emancipate the rest!
Such dupes are men to custom, and so prone
To rev’rence what is ancient, and can plead
A course of long observance for its use,
That even servitude, the worst of ills,
Because deliver'd down from sire to son,
Is kept and guarded as a sacred thing.
But is it fit, or can it bear the shock
Of rational discussion, that a man,
Compounded and made up like other men
Of elements tumultuous, in whom lust
And folly in as ample measure meet,
As in the bosoms of the slaves he rules,
Should be a despot absolute, and boast
Himself the only freeman of his land ?
Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will,
Wage war, with any or with no pretence
Of provocation giv'n, or wrong sustain'd,
And force the beggarly last doit by means,
That his own humour dictates, from the clutch
Of Poverty, that thus he may procure
His thousands, weary of penurious life,
A splendid opportunity to die?
Say ye, who (with less prudence than of old
Jotham ascrib'd to his assembled trees
In politic convention) put your trust
['th shadow of a bramble, and reclin'd
In fancied peace beneath his dang’rous branch,
Rejoice in him, and celebrate his sway,
Where find ye passive fortitude ? Whence springs
Your self-denying zeal, that holds it good,
To stroke the prickly grievance, and to hang,
His thorns with streamers of continual praise ?
We too are friends to loyalty. We love
The king, who loves the law, respects his bounds,
And reigns content within them: him we serve
Freely and with delight, who leaves us free :
But recollecting still that he is man,
We trust him not too far. King though he be,
And king in England too, he may be weak,
And vain enough to be ambitious still ;
May exercise amiss his proper pow’rs,
Or cover more than freemen choose to grant:
Beyond that mark is treason. He is ours,
T administer, to guard, ť adorn, the state,
But not to warp or change it. We are his,
To serve him nobly in the common cause,
True to the death, but not to be his slaves.
Mark now the diff'rence, ye that boast your love
Of kings, between your loyalty and ours.
We love the man, the paltry pageant you:
We the chief patron of the commonwealth,
You the regardless'author of its woes:
We for the sake of liberty a king,
You chains and bondage for a tyrant's sake,
Our love is principle, and has its root
reason, is judicious, manly, free;
Yours, a blind instinct, crouches to the rod,
And licks the foot that treads it in the dust.
Were kingship as true treasure as it seems,
Sterling, and worthy of a wise man's wish,
I would not be a king to be belov’d
Causeless, and daub’d with undiscerning praise,
Where love is mere attachment to the throne,
Not to the man, who fills it as he ought.
Whose freedom is by suff'rance, and at will
Of a superior, he is never free.
Who lives, and is not weary of a life
Expos’d to manacles, deserves them well.
The state, that strives for Liberty, though foild,
And forc'd to abandon what she bravely sought,
Deserves at least applause for her attempt,
And pity for her loss. But that's a cause
Not often unsuccessful: pow'r usurp'd
Is weakness when oppos’d; conscious of wrong,
"Tis pusillanimous and prone to flight.
But slaves, that once conceive the glowing thought
Of freedom, in that hope itself possess
All that the contest calls for; spirit, strength,
The scorn of danger, and united hearts;
The surest presage of the good they seek.*
Then shame to manhood, and opprobrious more To France than all her losses and defeats, Old or of later date, by sea or land, Her house of bondage, worse than that of old Which God aveng'd on Pharaoh–the Bastile. Ye horrid tow'rs, th' abode of broken hearts; Ye dungeons and ye cages of despair, That monarchs have supplied from age to age
* The author hopes that he shall not be censured for unnecessary warmth upon so interesting a subject. He is aware, that it is become alınost fashionable to stigmatize such sentiments as no better than empty declamation; but it is an ill symptom, and peculiar to modern