Imagens da página

But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. In florid beauty groves and fields appear, Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Contrasted faults through all his manners reign; Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain; Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue; And even in penance planning sins anew. All evils here contaminate the mind, That opulence departed leaves behind; For wealth was theirs, not far remov'd the date, When commerce proudly flourish'd through the state; At her command the palace learn'd to rise, Again the long-fallin column sought the skies; The canvas glow'd beyond e'en nature warm, The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form: Till, more unsteady than the southern gale, Commerce on other shores display'd her sail ; * While nought remain’d of all that riches gave, But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave; And late the nation found, with fruitless skill, Its former strength was but plethoric ill.

Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride :
From these the feeble heart and long-fall’n mind
An easy compensation seem to find.
Here may be seen, in bloodless pomp array'd,

["But more unsteady than the southern gale,

Soon commerce turn'd on other shores her sail.” –First edit.] 1 ["Yet, though to fortune lost, here still abide

Some splendid arts, the wrecks of former pride."-First edit.]

The pasteboard triumph and the cavalcade;
Processions form’d for piety and love,
A mistress or a saint in every grove.
By sports like these are all their cares beguild, *
The sports of children satisfy the child;t
Each nobler aim, repress'd by long control,
Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul ;
While low delights, succeeding fast behind,
In happier meanness occupy the mind;
As in those domes where Cæsars once bore sway,
Defac'd by time, and tott'ring in decay,
There in the ruin, heedless of the dead,
The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed;
And, wondering man could want the larger pile,
Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile.

* [Either Sir Joshua Reynolds, or a mutual friend who immediately communicated the story to him, calling at Goldsmith's lodgings, opened the door without ceremony, and discovered him not in meditation, or in the throes of poetic birth, but in the boyish office of teaching a favorite dog to sit upright upon its haunches, or as it is commonly said, to beg. Occasionally he glanced his eyes over his desk, and occasionally shook his finger at the unwilling pupil, in order to make him retain his position ; while on the page before him was written that couplet, with the ink of the second line still wet, from the description of Italy:

“By sports like these are all their cares beguiled,

The sports of children satisfy the child." The sentiment seemed so appropriate to the employment, that the visitor could not refrain from giving vent to his surprise in a strain of banter, which was received with characteristic good-humor, and the admission at once made, that the amusement in which he had been engaged had given birth to the idea. See Life, ch. xiv.) + [Here followed in the first edition :

“At sports like these while foreign arms advance,

In passive ease they leave the world to chance."] 1 "When struggling Virtue sinks by long control,

She leaves at last, or feebly mans the soul.”-First edit.] $ [" Amidst the ruin, heedless of the dead.”—First edit.]

My soul, turn from them; turn we to survey
Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion trea
And force a churlish soil for scanty bread :
No product here the barren hills afford,
But man and steel, the soldier and his sword;
No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array,
But winter lingering chills the lap of May;
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.

Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm. Though poor the peasant's hut, his feast though small, He sees his little lot the lot of all; Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To shame the meanness of his humble shed; No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, To make him loathe his vegetable meal; But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil. Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes ; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his vent'rous ploughshare to the steep; Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way, And drags the struggling savage into day. At night returning, every labor sped, He sits him down the monarch of a shed; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys His children's looks, that brighten at the blaze; While his lov'd partner, boastful of her hoard,

Displays her cleanly platter on the board :
And haply too some pilgrim, thither led,
With many a tale repays the nightly bed.

Thus every good his native wilds impart, Imprints the patriot passion on his heart; And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise, Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies. Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms, And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms; And as a child, when scaring sounds molest, * Clings close and closer to the mother's breast, So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar, But bind him to his native mountains more.

Such are the charms to barren states assign'd; Their wants but few, their wishes all confin’d. Yet let them only share the praises due; If few their wants, their pleasures are but few : For every want that stimulates the breast Becomes a source of pleasure when redrest; Whence from such lands each pleasing science flies, That first excites desire, and then supplies; Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, To fill the languid pause with finer joy; Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, Catch every nerve, ånd vibrate through the frame. Their level life is but a mouldering fire, Unquench'd by want, unfann'd by strong desire ;t

(" And as a babe, when scaring sounds molest,” &c.-First edit.] | “Their level life is but a mouldering fire,

Not quench'd by want, nor fann’d by strong desire."--Ibid.]

Unfit for raptures, or, if raptures cheer
On some high festival of once a year,
In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire,
Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire.

But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow;
Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low:
For, as refinement stops, from sire to son
Unalter'd, unimprov'd the manners run ;*
And love's and friendship's finely-pointed dart
Fall blunted from each indurated heart.
Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast
May sit, like falcons cowering on the nest:
But all the gentler morals, such as play
Through life's more cultur'd walks, and charm the way,
These, far dispers'd, on timorous pinions fly,
To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.

To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
I turn; and France displays her bright domain.
Gay sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
Pleas'd with thyself, whom all the world can please,
How often have I led thy sportive choir,
With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire !
Where shading elms along the margin grew,
And, freshen'd from the wave, the zephyr flew;
And haply, though my harsh touch falt'ring still,
But mock'd all tune, and marr'd the dancer's skill;
Yet would the village praise my wondrous power,
And dance, forgetful of the noon-tide hour.f

(* Unaltered, unimproved their manners run.”—First edit.] + ["I had some knowledge of music,” says George Primrose, in the Vicar

« AnteriorContinuar »