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Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw,
Law grind the poor, and rich men rule the law :
The wealth of climes, where savage nations roam,
Pillaged from slaves to purchase slaves at home;
Fear, pity, justice, indignation start,
Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;
Till half a patriot, half a coward grown,
I fly from petty tyrants to the throne.
Yes, brother, curse with me that baleful hour,
When first ambition struck at regal power ;
And thus, polluting honour in its source,
Gave wealth to sway the mind with double force.
Have we not seen, round Britain's peopled shore,
Her useful sons exchanged for useless ore?
Seen all her triumphs but destruction haste,
Like flaring tapers, bright’ning as they waste ;
Seen opulence, her grandeur to maintain,
Lead stern depopulation in her train,
And over fields, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
In barren, solitary pomp repose ?
Have we not seen, at pleasure's lordly call,
The smiling, long-frequented village fall?
Beheld the duteous son, the sire decay'd,
The modest matron, and the blushing maid,
Forced from their homes, a melancholy train,
To traverse climes beyond the western main;
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound ?
Even now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays Through tangled forests and through dang’rous
ways ; Where beasts with man divided empire claim, And the brown Indian marks with murd'rous aim ; There, while above the giddy tempest flies, And all around distressful yells arise, The pensive exile, bending with his wo, To stop too fearful, and too faint to go, Casts à long look where England's glories shine, And bids his bosom sympathize with mine.
Vain, very vain, my weary search, to find That bliss which only centres in the mind: Why have I strayed from pleasure and repose, To seek a good each government bestows? In every government though terrors reign, Though tyrant kings or tyrant laws restrain, How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure ! Still to ourselves in every place consign'd, Our own felicity we make or find : With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy. The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel, To men remote from power but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own.
Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheer'd the lab’ring swain, Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingering blooms delay'd. Dear, lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endear'd each scene! How often have I paused on every charm, The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topp'd the neighb'ring hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whispering lovers made! How often have I bless'd the coming day, When toil remitting lent its aid to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree :
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old survey'd;
And many a gambol frolick'd o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
And still, as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired :
The dancing pair, that simply renown,
By holding out, to tire each other down;
The swain, mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter titter'd round the place ;
The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village ! sports liko
With sweet succession, taught e’en toil to please ;
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,
These were thy charms—but all these charms are
Sweet, smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amid thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green;
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage tints thy smiling plain ;
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amid thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o’ertops the mould'ring wall;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish or may fade ;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made :
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroy d, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began, When every rood of ground maintain'd its man; For him light labour spread her wholesome store, Just gave what life required, but gave no more ; His best companions, innocence and health ; And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter'd ; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain ;
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose ;
And ev'ry want to luxury allied,
And ev'ry pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask'd but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful
Lived in each look, and brighten'd all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's pow'r.
Here, as I take my solitary rounds,
Amid thy tangling walks and ruin'd grounds,
And, many a year elapsed, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
In all my griefs—and God has giv'n my share-
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amid these humble bowers to lay me down;
To husband out life's taper at the close,
And keep the flame from wasting by repose ;
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amid the swains to show my book-learn'd skill,
Around my fire an ev'ning group to draw,
And tell of all I felt and all I saw;
And as a hare, whom hounds and hors pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return-and die at home at last.
Oh bless'd retirement! friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How bless'd is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly!
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
Nor surly porter stands, in guilty state,
"o spurn imploring famine from the gate ;
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And all his prospects brightening to the last,
His heaven commences ere the world be past.
Sweet was the sound, when oft, at evening's close, Up yonder hill the village murmur rose ; There, as I passed with careless steps and slow, The mingling notes came soften'd from below; The swain responsive as the milkmaid sung, The sober herd that low'd to meet their young; The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool, The playful children just let loose from school; The watch-dog's voice that bay'd the whisp'ring wind, And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind; These all in sweet confusion sought the shade, And fili'd each pause the nightingale had made. But now the sounds of population fail, No cheerful murmurs fluctuate in the gale, No busy steps the grassgrown footway tread, But all the blooming flush of life is fled : All but yon widow'd, solitary thing, That feebly bends beside the plashy spring : She, wretched matron, forced in age, for bread, To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread, To pick her wintry fagot from the thorn, To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn: