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And all her fruits by radiant truth matur’d.
War and the chase engross the savage whole ;
War follow'd for revenge, or to applant
The envied tenants of some happier spot,
I'he chase for sustenance, precarious trust!
His hard condition with severe constraint
Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth
Of wisdom, proves a school in which he learns
Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate,
Mean self attachment, and scarce aught beside.
Thus fare the shiv'ring natives of the north,
And thus the rangers of the western world,
Where it advances far into the deep,
Towards th' antarctic. Ev'n the favour'd isles,
So lately found, although the constant sun
Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile,
Can boast but little virtue ; and, inert
Through plenty, lose in morals what they gain
In manners--victims of luxurious ease.
These therefore I can pity, plac'd remote
From all that science traces, art invents,
Or inspiration teaches ; and enclos'd
In boundless oceans, never to be pass'd
By navigators uninform’d as they,
Or plough'd perhaps by British bark again :
But, far beyond the rest, and with most cause,
Thee, gentle savage ! * whom no love of thee
Or thine, but curiosity perhaps,
Or else vain glory, prompted us to draw
Forth from thy native bow'rs, to show thee here
With what superior skill we can abuse
The gifts of Providence, and squander life.
The dream is past; and thou hast found again
Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams,
And homestall thatch'd with leaves. But hast thou
Their former charms? And, having seen our state,
Our palaces, our ladies, and our pomp
Of equipage, our gardens, and our sports,
And heard our music ; are thy simple friends,
Thy simple fare, and all thy plain delights,
As dear to thee as once? And have thy joys
Lost nothing by comparison with ours?
Rude as thou art, (for we return thee rude
And ignorant, except of outward show)
I cannot think thee yet so dull of heart
And spiritless, as never to regret
Sweets tasted here, and left as soon as known.
Methinks I see thee straying on the beach,
And asking of the surge that bathes thy foot,
If ever it has wash'd our distant shore.
I see thee weep, and thine are honest tears,
A patriot's for his country : thou art sad
At thought of her forlorn and abject state,
From which no pow'r of thine can raise her up.
Thus fancy paints thee, and, though apt to err,
Perhaps errs little when she paints thee thus.
She tells me, too, that duly ev'ry morn
"hou climb'st the mountain top, with eager eye
Exploring far and wide the wat’ry waste
For sight of ship from England. Ev'ry speck
Seen in the dim horizon turns thee pale
But comes at last the dull and dusky eve,
And sends thee to thy cabin, well prepar'd
To dream all night of what the day denied.
Alas! expect it not. We found no bait
To tempt us in thy country. Doing good,
Disinterested good, is not our trade.
We travel far, 'tis true, but not for naught;
And must be brib’d, to compass earth again,
By other hopes and richer fruits than yours.
But, though true worth and virtue in the mild
And genial soil of cultivated life
Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there,
Yet not in cities oft: in proud, and gay,
And gain-devoted cities. Thither flow,
As to a common and most noisome sew'r,
The dregs and feculence of ev'ry land.
In cities foul example on most minds
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds
In gross and pamper'd cities sloth and lust,.
And wantonness and gluttonous excess.
In cities vice is hidden with most ease,
Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught
Beyond th' achievement of successful fight.
I do confess them nurs’ries of the arts,
In which they flourish most ; where, in the beams, Of warm encouragement, and in the eye Of public note, they reach their perfect size. Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim'd The fairest capital of all the world, By riot and incontinence the worst. There, touch'd by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes A lucid mirror, in which nature sees All her reflected features. Bacon there Gives more than female beauty to a stone, And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips. Nor does the chissel occupy alone The pow’rs of sculpture, but the style as much ; Each province of her art her equal care. With nice incision of her guided steel She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil So sterile with what charms soe’er she will, The richest scenery and the loveliest forms. Where finds philosophy her eagle eye, With which she gazes at yon burning disk Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots ? In London : where her implements exact, With which she calculates, computes, and scans, All distance, motion, magnitude, and now Measures an atom, and now girds a world? In London. Where has commerce such a mart, So rich, so throng'd, so drain’d, and so supplied, As London—opulent, enlarg'd, and still Increasing, London ? Babylon of old
Not more the glory of the earth than she,
A more accomplish'd world's chief glory now.
She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two,
That so much beauty would do well to purge;
And show this queen of cities, that so fair
May yet be foul ; so witty, yet not wise.
It is not seemly, nor of good report,
T'avenge than to prevent the breach of law:
That she is rigid in denouncing death
And liberty, and oft-times honour too,
To peculators of the public gold :
That thieves at home must hang ; but he, that puts
Into his overgorg'd and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes.
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good,
That, through profane and infidel contempt
Of holy writ, she has presum'd tannul
And abrogate, as roundly as she may,
The total ordinance and will of God;
And centring all authority in modes And customs of her own, till sabbath rites Have dwindled into unrespected forms, And knees and hassocs are well nigh divorc'd. - God made the country, and man made the town. What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts That can alone make sweet the bitter draught That life holds out to all, should most abound