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A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.*
REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Eternal blessings crown my earlieft friend, And round his dwelling guardian faints attend ; Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire ;
* In this poem, as it passed through different editions, several alterations were made, and some additional verses introduced. We have followed the ninth edition, which was the last that appeared in the life-time of the Author,
Bleft that abode, where want and pain repair,
But me, not destin’d fuch delights to share, My prime of life in wandering spent and care : Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view ; That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies; My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, And find no spot of all the world my own.
Ev'n now, where Alpine folitudes ascend,
appear ; Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide, The
pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
When thus Creation's charms around combine, Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine ? Say, should the philofophic mind disdain That good which makes each humbler bofom vain ? Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can, These little things are great to little man ;
And wiser he, whose sympathetic mind
As some lone miser, visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er ; Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill,, Yet still he fighs, for hoards are wanting ftill: Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleas'd with each good that heaven to man supplies : Yet oft a figh prevails, and sorrows fall, To see the hoard of human bliss so small And oft I wish, amidst the scene, to find Some spot to real happiness consign’d, Where my worn foul, each wandering hope at rest, May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.
But where to find that happiest spot below,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
Nature, a mother kind alike to all, Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call; With food as well the peasant is supply'd On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side ; And though the rocky crested summits frown, These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down. From art more various are the blessings sent; Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content. Yet these each other's power so strong contest, That either seems destructive of the rest. Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails ; And honour sinks where commerce long prevails. Hence every state to one loy'd blessing prone, Conforms and models life to that alone. Each to the fav’rite happiness attends, And spurns the plan that aims at other ends ; 'Till carried to excess in each domain, This fav’rite good begets peculiar pain,
But let us try these truths with closer eyes, , And trace them through the prospect as it lies : Here for a while my proper cares resign'd, Here let me fit in sorrow for mankind; Like yon neglected shrub at random cast, That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.
Far to the right where Apennine ascends,
theatric pride ; While oft some temple's mould'ring tops between With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
Could nature's bounty satisfy the breast, The fons of Italy were surely blest. Whatever fruits in different climes were found, That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, Whose bright succession decks the varied year ; Whatever sweet falute the northern sky With vernal lives, that blossom but to die; These here disporting own the kindred soil, Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil ; While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand To winnow fragrance round the smiling land.
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows.