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Fierce in their native hardiness of soul,
True to imagined right, above control;
While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan,
And learns to venerate himself as man.
Thine, freedom, thine the blessings pictured here,
Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear;
Too bless’d, indeed, were such without alloy;
But, foster’d e’en by freedom, ills annoy:
That independence, Britons prize too high,
Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;
The self-dependent Iordlings stand alone,
All claims that bind and sweeten life, unknown;
Here, by the bonds of nature feebly held,
Minds combat minds, repelling and repell’d;
F erments arise, imprison'd factions roar,
Repress’d ambition struggles round her shore;
Till, overwrought, the general system feels
Its motions stop, or phrensy fire the wheels.
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.
Hence, all obedience bows to these alone,
And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown;
Till time may come, when, stripp’d of all her charms,
The land of scholars, and the nurse of arms,
Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame,
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,
Far from my bosom drive the low desire!
And thou, fair freedom, taught alike to feel
The rabble’s rage, and tyrant’s angry steel;
Thou transitory flower, alike undone
By proud contempt, or favour's fostering sun,
Still may thy blooms the changeful clime endure,
I only would repress them, to secure:
For just experience tells, in every soil,
That those who think, must govern those who toil;
And all that freedom's highest aims can reach,
Is but to lay proportion'd loads on each.
Hence, should one order disproportion’d grow,
Its double weight must ruin all below.
O then how blind to all that truth requires,
Who think it freedom when a part aspires!
Calm is my soul, nor apt to rise in arms,
Except when fast approaching danger warms;
But when contending chiefs blockade the throne,
Contracting regal power, to stretch their own;
When I behold a factious band agree
To call it freedom, when themselves are free;
Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw,
Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law;
The wealth of climes, where savage nations roam,
Pillaged from slaves, to purchase slaves at home;
Fear, pity, justice, indignation, start,
Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;
Till half a patriot, half a coward grown,
I fly from petty tyrants to the throne.
Yes, Brother, curse with me that b-aleful 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 exchanged for useless ore?
Seen all her triumphs but destruction haste,
Like flaring tapers brightening as they waste;
Seen opulence, her grandeur to maintain,
Lead stern depopulation in her train,
And over fields where scatter’d hamlets rose,
In barren solitary pomp repose?
Have we not seen, at pleasure’s lordly call,
The smiling long frequented village fall?
Beheld the duteous son, the sire decay'd,
The modest matron, and the blushing maid,
Forced from their homes, a melancholy train,
To traverse climes beyond the western main;
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 woe,
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 centers in the mind:
Why have I stray’d from pleasure and repose,
To seek a good each government bestows?
In every government, though terrours 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.