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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 exchang'd for useless ore?
And over fields, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
In barren solitary pomp repose ?
Have we not seen, at Pleasure's lordly call,
To traverse climes beyond the western main;
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around, And Niagafa stuns with thund'ring sound?
Ev'n 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 murd'rous aim;
There, while above the giddy tempest flies,
And all around distressful yells arise,
The pensive exile, bending with his woe,
Vain, very vain, my weary search to find
That bliss which only centres in the mind:
Why have I stray'd from pleasure and repose,
To seek a good each government bestows?
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.
True to imagin'd right, above controul,
Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here;
Too blest indeed, were such without alloy;
All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown.
Here, by the bonds of nature feebly held,
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,
As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.
And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown;
Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms,
Where kings have toil'd, and poets wrote for fame,
One sink of level avarice shall lie,
And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'd die.
Yet think not, thus when Freedom's ills I state,
I mean to flatter kings, or court the great:....
Ye powers of truth, that bid my soul aspire,
And thou, fair Freedom, taught alike to feel
The rabble's rage, and tyrant's angry steel;
Thou transitory flower, alike undone
Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure....
I only would repress them, to secure;