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That overhangs a torrent to a twig.
They love it, and yet loathe it; fear to die,
Yet scorn the purposes for which they live.
Then wherefore not renounce them? No-the
The slavish dread of solitude, that breeds [dread,
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame,
And their inveterate habits, all forbid.
Whom call we gay? That honour has been long
The boast of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay-the lark is gay,
That dries his feathers, saturate with dew,
Beneath the rosy cloud, while y,et the beams
Of dayspring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant too, a witness of his song,
Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gaiety of those
Whose headachs nail them to a noonday bed;
And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripp'd off by cruel chance;
From gaiety, that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.
The Earth was made so various that the mind Of desultory man, studious of change, And pleased with novelty, might be indulged. Prospects, however lovely, may be seen Till half their beauties fade; the weary sight, Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes. Then snug enclosures in the shelter'd vale, Where frequent hedges intercept the eye, Delight us; happy to renounce awhile, Not senseless of its charms, what still we love, That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests or the savage rock may please,
That hides the seamew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man. His hoary head,
Conspicuous many a league, the mariner
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist
A girdle of half-wither'd shrubs he shows,
And at his feet the baffled billows die.
The common, overgrown with fern, and rough
With prickly gorse, that, shapeless and deform’d,
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom,
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf
Smells fresh, and, rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets.
There often wanders one whom better days
Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimm'd
With lace, and hat with splendid riband bound.
A servingmaid was she, and fell in love
With one who left her, went to sea, and died.
Her fancy follow'd him through foaming waves
To distant shores; and she would sit and weep
At what a sailor suffers; fancy too,
Delusive most where warmest wishes are,
Would oft anticipate his glad return,
And dream of transports she was not to know.
She heard the doleful tidings of his death-
And never smiled again! and now-she roams
The dreary waste; there spends the livelong day,
And there, unless when charity forbids,
The livelong night. A tatter'd apron hides,
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides a gown
More tatter'd still; and both but ill conceal
A bosom heaved with never ceasing sighs.
She begs an idle pin of all she meets,
And hoards them in her sleeve; but needful food,
Though press'd with hunger oft, or comelier
scrazed. Though pinch'd with cold, asks never.—Kate is
I see a column of slow rising smoke O’ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild. A vagabond and useless tribe there eat Their miserable meal. A kettle, slung Between two poles upon a stick transverse, Receives the morsel-flesh obscene of dog, Or vermin, or at best of cock purloin’d From his accustom'd perch. Hard faring race ! They pick their fuel out of every hedge, Which, kindled with dry leaves, just saves un
quench'd The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide Their futtering rags and shows a tawny skin, The vellum of the pedigree they claim. Great skill have they in palmistry, and more To conjure clean away the gold they touch, Conveying worthless dross into its place; Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal. Strange! that a creature rational, and cast In human mould, should brutalize by choice His nature; and, though capable of arts, By which the world might profit, and himself, Self-banish'd from society, prefer Such squalid sloth to honourable toil! Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb, And vex their flesh with artificial sores, Can change their whine into a mirthful note,
When safe occasion offers; and with dance,
And music of the bladder and the bag,
Beguile their woes, and make the woods resound.
Such health and gaiety of heart enjoy
The houseless rovers of the silvan world; (much,
And, breathing wholesome air, and wandering
Need other physic none to heal the effects
Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold. [crowd
Bless'd he, though undistinguish'd from the
By wealth or dignity, who dwells secure,
Where man, by nature fierce, has laid aside
His fierceness, having learn'd, though slow to learn,
The manners and the arts of civil life.
His wants indeed are many; but supply
Is obvious, placed within the easy reach
Of temperate wishes and industrious hands.
Here virtue thrives as in her proper soil;
Not rude and surly, and beset with thorns,
And terrible to sight, as when she springs
(If e'er she spring spontaneous) in remote
And barbarous climes, where violence prevails,
And strength is lord of all; but gentle, kind,
By culture tamed, by liberty refreshid,
And all her fruits by radiant truth matured.
War and the chase engross the savage whole;
War follow'd for revenge, or to supplant
The envied tenants of some happier spot:
The chase for sustenance, precarious trust;
His hard condition with severe constraint
Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth
Of wisdom, proves a school, in which he learns
Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate,
Thus fare the shivering natives of the north,
And thus the rangers of the western world,
Where it advances far into the deep,
Towards the antarctic. E'en the favour'd isles
So lately found, although the constant sun
Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile,
Can boast but little virtue; and, inert
Through plenty, lose in morals what they gain
In manners-victims of luxurious ease.
These therefore I can pity, placed remote
From all that science traces, art invents,
Or inspiration teaches; and enclosed
In boundless oceans, never to be pass'd
By navigators uninform’d as they,
Or plough'd perhaps by British bark again.
But far beyond the rest, and with most cause,
Thee, gentle savage! whom no love of thee
Or thine, but curiosity perhaps,
Or else vainglory, prompted us to draw
Forth from thy native bowers, to show thee here
With what superior skill we can abuse
The gifts of Providence, and squander life.
The dream is pass’d; and thou hast found again
Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams,
And homestall thatch'd with leaves. But hast
Their former charms ? And, having seen our state,
Our palaces, our ladies, and our pomp
Of equipage, our gardens, and our sports,
And heard our music; are thy simple friends,
Thy simple fare, and all thy plain delights,
As dear to thee as once? And have thy joys.
Lost nothing by comparison with ours ?