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To see those joys the sons of pleasure know
Extorted from his fellow-creature's woe.
Here while the courtier glitters in brocade,
There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;
Here while the proud their long-drawn pomps display,
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.
The dome where pleasure holds her midnight reign
Here, richly deckt, admits the gorgeous train :
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles e'er annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy!
Are these thy serious thoughts ?—Ah, turn thine eyes
Where the poor houseless shivering female lies.
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn :
Now lost to all ; her friends, her virtue fled,
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,
And, pinch'd with cold, and shrinking from the shower,
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet Auburn,-thine, the loveliest train,
Do thy fair tribes participate her pain ?
Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led,
At proud men's doors they ask a little bread !
Ah, no! To distant climes, a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before
The various terrors of that horrid shore ;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;
Those matted woods, where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling ;
Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around ;
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,
And savage men more murderous still than they ;
While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravaged landschape with the skies.
Far different these from every former scene,
The cooling brook, the grassy vested green,
The breezy covert of the warbling grove,
That only sheltered thefts of harmless love.
Good Heaven! what sorrows gloom'd that parting day,
That called them from their native walks away ;
When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,
Hung round the bowers, and fondly looked their last,
And took a long farewel, and wished in vain
For seats like these beyond the western main,
And shuddering still to face the distant deep,
Returned and wept, and still returned to weep.
The good old sire the first prepared to go
To new found worlds, and wept for others' woe;
But for himself, in conscious virtue brave,
He only wished for worlds beyond the grave.
His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears,
375 The fond companion of his helpless years, Silent went next, neglectful of her charms, And left a lover's for a father's arms. With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes, And blest the cot where every pleasure rose, And kist her thoughtless babes with many a tear, And claspt them close, in sorrow doubly dear, Whilst her fond husband strove to lend relief In all the silent manliness of grief. O luxury ! thou curst by Heaven's decree,
385 How ill exchanged are things like these for thee! How do thy potions, with insidious joy, Diffuse their pleasure only to destroy! Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown, Boast of a florid vigour not their own.
390 At every draught more large and large they grow, A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe; Till sapped their strength, and every part unsound, Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round. Even now the devastation is begun,
395 And half the business of destruction done ; Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand, I see the rural virtues leave the land.
Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail,
That idly waiting flaps with every gale,
Downward they move, a melancholy band,
Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand.
Contented toil, and hospitable care,
And kind connubial tenderness, are there ;
And piety with wishes placed above,
And steady loyalty, and faithful love.
And thou, sweet Poetry, thou Joveliest maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade ;
Unfit in these degenerate times of shame
To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame;
Dear charming nymph, neglected and decried,
My shame in crowds, my solitary pride;
Thou source of all my bliss, and all my woe,
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so ;
Thou guide by which the nobler arts excel,
Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well !
Farewell, and O! where'er thy voice be tried,
On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side,
Whether where equinoctial fervours glow,
Or winter wraps the polar world in snow,
Still let thy voice, prevailing over time,
Redress the rigours of the inclement clime;
Aid slighted truth with thy persuasive strain;
Teach erring man to spurn the rage of gain ;
Teach him, that states of native strength possest,
Tho' very poor, may still be very blest ;
That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As ocean sweeps the laboured mole away;
While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky.
THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.
My lov'd, my honor'd, much respected friend !
No mercenary bard his homage pays : With honest pride I scorn each selfish end,
My dearest meed, a friend's esteem and praise : To you I sing in simple Scottish lays
The lowly train in life's sequester'd scene; The native feelings strong, the guileless ways ;
What Aiken in a cottage would have been ; Ah ! tho' his worth unknown, far happier there, I ween.
November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh;
The short’ning winter-day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;
The black’ning trains o' craws to their repose : The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,
This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree ;
Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through
To meet their Dad, wi' Alichterin noise an' glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile,
The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
Does a' his weary carking cares beguile,
An' makes him quite forget his labor an' his toil.
Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out amang the farmers roun’;
Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neebor town :
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e,
Comes hame, perhaps, to shew a braw new gown,
Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.
Wi' joy unfeign’d brothers and sisters meet,
An' each for other's weelfare kindly speirs : The social hours, swift-wing’d, unnotic'd fleet ;
Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears ; The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years ;
Anticipation forward points the view. The mother wi' her needle an' her sheers
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; The father mixes a' wi' admonition due.
Their master's an' their mistress's command
The younkers a' are warned to obey;
An' mind their labours wi' an eydent hand,
An' ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play :
An' Oh! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
'An' mind your duty, duely, morn an' night! Lest in temptation's path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might :
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright !'
But hark ! a rap comes gently to the door ;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o' the same, Tells how a neebor lad cam o'er the moor
To do some errands, and convoy her hame. The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny's e'e, and flush her cheek ; With heart-struck, anxious care, inquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak; Weel pleas’d the mother hears, it's nae wild, worthless rake.
Wi' kindly welcome Jenny brings him ben ;
A strappan youth ; he takes the mother's eye ; Blythe Jenny sees the visit's no ill ta’en;
The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.