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E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, I sit me down, a pensive hour to spend; And placed on high, above the storm’s career, Look downward, where an hundred realms appear; Lakes, forests, cities, plains, extending wide, The pomp of kings, the shepherds humbler pride. When thus creation's charms around combine, Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine? Say, should the philosophick mind disdain That good, which makes each humbler bosom vain? Let school-taught pride dissemble all it can, These little things are great to little man; And Wiser he, whose sympathetick mind Exults in all the good of all mankind. Ye glittering towns, with wealth and splendour crown’d, Ye fields, where summer spreads profusion round, Ye lakes, whose vessels catch the busy gale, Ye bending swains, that dress the flowery vale, For me your tributary stores combine;
Creation’s heir, the world, the world is mine.
As some lone miser, visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o’er; Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still: Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleased with each good that Heaven to man supplies: Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall,
To see the sum of human bliss so small;
And oft I Wish, amidst the scene, to find
Some spot to real happiness consign’d;
Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest, May gather bliss, to see my fellows bless’d.
But where to find that happiest spot below,
Who can direct, when all pretend to know?
And his long nights of revelry and ease:
Boasts of his golden sands, and palmy wine,
Basks in the glare, or stems the tepid wave,
And thanks his gods for all the good they gave.
Such is the patriots boast, where-e’er we roam,
His first, best country, ever is at home.
And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,
And estimate the blessings which they share,
Though patriots Hatter, still shall wisdom find
An equal portion dealt to all mankind;
As different good, by art or nature given
To different nations, makes their blessings even. Nature, a mother kind, alike to all
Still grants her bliss at labour’s earnest call;
With food as well the peasant is supplied
On Idra’s cliffs, as Arno’s shelvy side;
And though the rocky-crested summits frown,
These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down.
From art, more various are the blessings sent,
Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content.
Yet these each other’s power so strong contest,
That either seems destructive of the rest.
Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails; And honour sinks, where commerce long prevails. Hence, every state, to one loved blessing prone, Conforms and models life to that alone.
Each to the favourite happiness attends,
And spurns the plan that aims at other ends;
Till, carried to excess in each domain,
This favourite good begets peculiar pain.
But let us view these truths with closer eyes,
Here let me sit, in sorrow for mankind;
Far to the right, where Apennine ascends,
Its uplands, sloping, deck the mountain’s side,
With venerable grandeur marks the scene.
Could nature’s bounty satisfy the breast, The sons of Italy were surely bless’d. Whatever fruits in different climes are found, That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground; Whatever blooms in torrid tracts appear, Whose bright succession decks the varied year; Whatever sweets salute the northern sky With vernal lives, that blossom but to die; These, here disporting, own the kindred soil, Nor ask luxuriance from the planter’s toil: While sea-born gales their gelid wings expand, To winnow fragrance round the smiling land. But small the bliss that sense alone bestows; And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. In florid beauty groves and fields appear; Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Contrasted faults through all his manners reign: Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain; Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue;
And e'en in penance, planning sins anew.