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Thus fare the shiv’ring natives of the north,
And thus the rangers of the western world,
Where it advances far into the deep,
Tow'rds the antarctick. E'en the favour'd isles 620
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, plac'd remote
From all that science traces, art invents,
Or inspiration teaches; and enclos’d
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 vain glory, prompted us to draw
Forth from thy nature bow’rs, to show thee here
With what superiour skill we can abuse
The gifts of Providence, and squander life.
The dream is past; and thou hast found again
Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams,
640 And homestall thatch'd with leaves. But hast thou
found 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 musick; are thy simple friends, 645 Thy simple fare, and all plain delights, As dear to thee at once? And have thy joys Lost nothing by comparison with ours? Rude as thou art, (for we return’d thee rude And ignorant, except of outward show,)
650 I cannot think thee yet so dull of heart And spiritless, as never to regret
Sweets tasted here, and left as soon as known.
Methinks I see thee straying on the beach,
And asking of the surge, that bathes thy foot, 655
If ever it has wash'd our distant shore.
I see thee weep, and thine are honest tears,
A patriot's for his country: thou art sad
At thought of her forlorn and abject state,
From which no pow'r of thine can raise her up. 660
Thus fancy paints thee, and, though apt to err,
Perhaps errs little, when she paints thee thus.
She tells me too, that duly ev'ry morn
Thou climb'st the mountain top, with eager eye
Exploring far and wide the wat'ry waste
For sight of ship from England. Ev'ry speck
Seen in the dim horizon turns thee pale
With conflict of contending hopes and fears.
But comes at last the dull and dusky eve,
And sends thee to thy cabin, well prepar'd
To dream all night of what the day denied.
Alas! expect it not. We found no bait
To tempt us in thy country. Doing good,
Disinterested good, is not our trade.
We travel far, 'tis true, but not for nought; , 675
And must be brib'd to compass Earth again
By other hopes and richer fruits than yours.
But though true worth and virtue in the mild And genial soil of cultivated life Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there, 680 Yet not in cities oft: in proud, and gay, And gain-devoted cities. Thither flow, As to a common and most noisome sewer, The dregs and feculence of every land. In cities, foul example on most minds
685 Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds, In gross and pamper'd cities, sloth, and lust, And wantonness, and gluttonous excess. In cities, vice is hidden with most ease, Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught 690
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond th' achievement of successful flight.
I do confess them nurseries of the arts,
In which they flourish most; where in the beams
Of warm encouragement, and in the eye .
Of publick note, they reach their perfect size.
Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim'd
The fairest capital of all the world,
By riot and incontinence the worst.
There touch'd by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes 700
A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees
All her reflected features. Bacon there
Gives more than female beauty to a stone,
And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips.
Nor does the chisel occupy alone
The pow'rs of sculpture, but the style as much;
Each province of her art her equal care.
With nice incision of her guided steel
She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil
So sterile with what charms soe'er she will, .
The richest scenery and the loveliest forms.
Where finds Philosophy her, eagle eye,
With which she gazes at yon burning disk
Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots?
In London. Where her implements exact,
715 With which she calculates, computes, and scans,
Measures an atom, and now girds a world?
In London. Where has commerce such a mart,
So rich, so throng'd, so drain’d, and so supplied, 720
As London-opulent, enlarg'd, and still
Increasing London? Babylon of old .
Not more the glory of the Earth, than she,
A more accomplish'd world's chief glory now.
She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two, 725
That so much beauty would do well to purge;
And show this queen of cities, that so fair,
May yet be foul; so witty, yet not wise.
It is not seemly, nor of good report,
That she is slack in discipline; more prompt 730
T'avenge than to prevent the breach of law:
That she is rigid in denouncing death
On petty robbers, and indulges life, -
And liberty, and ofttimes honour too,
To peculators of the public gold:
That thieves at home must hang; but he that puts
Into his overgorg’d and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes.
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good,
That, through profane and infidel contempt 740
Of holy writ, she has presum'd t' annul
And abrogate, as roundly as she may,
The total ordinance and will of God;
Advancing Fashion to the post of Truth,
And centring all authority in modes
And customs of her own, till sabbath rites
Have dwindled into unrespected forms,
And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorc’d.
God made the country, and man made the town. What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts 750 That can alone make sweet the bitter draught That life holds out to all, should most abound And least be threaten'd in the fields and groves? Possess ye, therefore, ye whe, borne about In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
755 But that of idleness, and taste no scenes But such as art contrives, possess ye still Your element, there only can ye shine; There only minds like yours can do no harm. Our groves were planted to console at noon The pensive wand'rer in their shades. At eve The moon-beam, sliding softly in between The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish, Birds warbling all the musick. We can spare The splendour of your lamps; they but eclipse 765 Our softer satellite. Your songs confound.
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scar'd, and th’ offended nightingale is mute.
There is a publick mischief in your mirth;
It plagués your country. Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, what enemies could ne'er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A mutilated structure soon to fall.