« AnteriorContinuar »
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thundering sound?
E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays
Through tangled forests, and through dangerous ways,
Where beasts with man divided empire claim,
And the brown Indian marks with murderous 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 a 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 consigned,
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.
1 In the Respublica Hungarica, there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brothers, George and Luke Zeck. When it was quelled, George, not Luke, was punished by his head being encircled with a red-hot iron crown. Mr. Boswell pointed out Goldsmith's mistake.
DEAR SIR, I can have no expectations, in an address of this kind, either to add to your reputation, or to establish my own. You can gain nothing from my admiration, as I am ignorant of that art in which you are said to excel: and I may lose much by the severity of your judgment, as few have a juster taste in poetry than you. Setting interest, therefore, aside-to which I never paid much attention-I must be indulged, at present, in following my affections. The only dedication I ever made was to my brother: because I loved him better than most other men. He is since dead. Permit me to inscribe this poem to you.
How far you may be pleased with the versification and mere mechanical parts of this attempt, I do not pretend to inquire: but I know you will object-and indeed several of our best and wisest friends concur in the opinionthat the depopulation it deplores is no where to be seen, and the disorders it laments, are only to be found in the poet's own imagination. To this I can scarce make any other answer, than that I sincerely believe what I have written, that I have taken all possible pains in my country excursions, for these four or five years past, to be certain of
what I allege-and that all my views and inquiries have led me to believe those miseries real, which I here attempt to display. But this is not the place to enter into an inquiry, whether the country be depopulating or not: the discussion would take up much room; and I should prove myself, at best, an indifferent politician, to tire the reader with a long preface, when I want his unfatigued attention to a long poem.
In regretting the depopulation of the country, I inveigh against the increase of our luxuries: and here, also, I expect the shout of modern politicians against me. For twenty or thirty years past, it has been the fashion to consider luxury as one of the greatest national advantages; and all the wisdom of antiquity, in that particular,
Still, however, I must remain a professed ancient, on that head; and continue to think those luxuries prejudicial to states, by which so many vices are introduced, and so many kingdoms have been undone. Indeed, so much has been poured out of late on the other side of the question, that, merely for the sake of novelty and variety, one would sometimes wish to be in the right.
SWEET Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain;
Where smiling Spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting Summer's lingering bloom delayed.
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease! —
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please!
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
How often have I paused on every charm-
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm;
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill;
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whispering lovers made!
How often have I blessed the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn 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 surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked 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 sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down;
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place;
The bashful virgin's side-lòng looks of love,
The matron's glance, that would those looks reprove-
These were thy charms, sweet village!-sports like these,
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 fled!
Sweet smiling village! loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn:
Amidst 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 stints 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;
Amidst 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 mouldering wall;
And, trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away, thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening 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 destroyed, can never be supplied.