Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

When ministers and ministerial arts ;
Patriots, who love good places at their hearts ;
When admirals, extoll'd for standing still,
Or doing nothing with a deal of skill ;
Generals, who will not conquer when they may,
Firm friends to peace, to pleasure, and good pay ;
When freedom, wounded almost to despair,

Though discontent alone can find out where ;
When themes like these employ the poet's tongue,
I hear as mute as if a syren sung.
Or tell me, if you can, what power maintains
A Briton's scorn of arbitrary chains.
That were a theme might animate the dead,
And move the lips of poets cast in lead.

B. The cause, though worth the search, may yet elude
Conjecture and remark, however shrewd.
They take, perhaps, a well directed aim,
Who seek it in his climate and his frame.
Liberal in all things else, yet nature, here,
With stern severity deals out the year.
Winter invades the spring, and often pours
A chilling flood on summer's drooping flowers ;
Unwelcome vapours quench autumnal beams,
Ungenial blasts attending curl the streams ;
The peasants urge their harvest, ply the fork
With double toil, and shiver at their work;
Thus with a rigour, for his good design’d,
She rears her favourite man of all mankind.
His form robust, and of elastic tone,
Proportion'd well, half muscle and half bone,

Supplies with warm activity and force
A mind well lodg'd, and masculine of course.
Hence liberty, sweet liberty inspires
And keeps alive his fierce but noble fires.'
Patient of constitutional control,
He bears it with meek manliness of soul ;
But if authority grow wanton, woe
To him that treads upon his free-born toe ;
One step beyond the boundary of the laws •
Fires him at once in freedom's glorious cause.
Thus proud prerogative, not much rever'd,
Is seldom felt, though sometimes seen and heard ;
And in his cage, like parrot fine and gay,
Is kept to strut, look big, and talk away.

Born in a climate softer far than ours, Not form'd like us with such Herculean powers, The Frenchman, easy, debonair, and brisk, Give him his lass, his fiddle, and his frisk, Is always happy, reign whoever may, And laughs the sense of misery far away ; He drinks his simple beverage with a gust; And, feasting on an onion and a crust, We never feel th' alacrity and joy With which he shouts and carols-Vive le Rog, Fillid with as much true merriment and glee, As if he heard his king say-Slave, be free.

Thus happiness depends, as nature shows, Less on exterior things than most suppose.

Vigilant over all that he has made,
Kind Providence attends with gracious aid ;
Bids equity throughout his works prevail,
And weighs the nations in an even scale ;
He can encourage slavery to a smile,
And fill with discontent a British isle.

A. Freeman and slave, then, if the case be such,
Stand on a level ; and you prove too much :
If all men indiscriminately share
His fostering power, and tutelary care,
As well be yok'd by despotism's hand,
As dwell at large in Britain's charter'd land.

B. No. Freedom has a thousand charms to show, That slaves, howe'er contented, never know. The mind attains, beneath her happy reign, The growth that nature meant she should attain ; The varied fields of science, ever new, Opening and wider opening on her view, She ventures onward with a prosperous force, While no base fear impedes her in her course : Religion, richest favour of the skies, Stands most reveal'd before the freeman's eyes ; No shades of superstition blot the day, Liberty chases all that gloom away ; The soul, emancipated, unoppressid, Free to prove all things, and hold fast the best, Learns much ; and, to a thousand listening minds, Communicates with joy the good she finds ;

Valiant in arms, and ever prompt to show His manly forehead to the fiercest foe; Glorious in war, but for the sake of peace, . His spirits rising as his toils increase,, Guards well what arts and industry have won, And freedom claims him for her first-born son. Slaves fight for what were better cast awayThe chain that binds them, and a tyrant's sway ;' But they, that fight for freedom, undertake The noblest cause mankind can have at stake :. Religion, virtue, truth, whate'er we call A blessing—freedom is the pledge of all. O liberty! the prisoner's pleasing dream, The poet's muse, his passion, and his theme ; Genius is thine, and thou art fancy's nurse ; Lost, without thee, th' ennobling powers of verse ; Heroic song, from thy free touch, acquires Its clearest tone, the rapture it inspires ; Place me where winter breathes his keenest air, And I will sing, if liberty be there ; And I will sing, at liberty's dear feet, In Afric's torrid clime, or India's fiercest heat.

A. Sing where you please ; in such a cause I grant ] An English poet's privilege to rant ; But is not freedom--at least, is not ours Too apt to play the wanton with her powers, Grow freakish, and, o’erleaping every mound, Spread anarchy and terror all around ?

B. Agreed. But, would you sell or slay, your horse, For bounding and curvetting in his course ;

Or if, when ridden with a careless rein,
He break away, and seek the distant plain?
No. His high mettle, under good control,
Gives him Olympic speed, and shoots him to the goal.

Let discipline employ her wholesome arts ;
Let magistrates alert perform their parts,
Not skulk or put on a prudential mask,
As if their duty were a desperate task ;
Let active laws apply the needful carb,
To guard the peace that riot would disturb ;
And liberty, preserv'd from wild excess,
Shall raise ro feuds for armies to suppress.
When tumult lately burst his prison door,
And set plebeian thousands in a roar ;
When he usurp'd authority's just place,
And dar'd to look his master in the face ;
When the rude rabble's watch-word was destroy,
And blazing London seem'd a second Troy ;
Liberty blush'd, and hung her drooping head,
Beheld their progress with the deepest dread ;
Blush'd that effects like these she should produce,
Worse than the deeds of galley-slases broke loose.
She loses, in such storms, her very name,
And fierce licentiousness should bear the blame.

Incomparable gem! thy worth untold ; (sold ; Cheap, though blood bought ; and thrown away when May no foes ravish thee, and no false friend Betray thee, while professing to defend ; Prize it, yè ministers ; ye monarchs, spare ; Ye patriote, guard it with a miser's care.

« PoprzedniaDalej »