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the harvest not worth carrying away. But of all kinds of ambition, what from the refinement of the times, from different systems of criticism, and from the divisions of party, that which pursues poetical fame is the wildest.
Poetry makes a principal amusement among unpolished nations; but in a country verging to the extremes of refinement, Painting and Music come in for a share. As these offer the feeble mind a less laborious entertainment, they at first rival Poetry, and at length supplant her; they engross all that favour once shewn to her, and, though but younger 'fifters, seize upon the elder's birthright.
Yet, however this art may be neglected by the powerful, it is still in greater danger from the mifa taken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticisms have we not heard of late in favour of blank verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, anapests and iambics, alliterative care and happy negligence! Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it; and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.
But there is an enemy to this art still more dangerous, I mean Party. Party entirely distorts the judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only find
pleasure in what contributes to increase the diftemper. Like the tyger, that seldom desists from pursuing man, after having once preyed upon human flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the most agreeable feast upon murdered reputation. Such readers generally admire some half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character of a wise one. Him they dignify with the name of poet: his tawdry lampoons are called satires; his turbulence is said to be force, and his phrenzy fire.
What reception a Poem may find, which has neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My aims are right. Without espousing the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to shew, that there may be equal happiness in states, that are differently governed from our own; that every state has a particular principle of happiness, and that this principle in each may be carried to a mischievous excess. There are few can judge, better than yourself, how far these positions are illustrated in this Poem. I am,
YOUR MOST AFFECTIONATE BROTHER.
REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
* In this poem several alterations were made, and some new verses added, as it passed through different editions.We have printed from the ninth, which was the last edition published in the life-time of the author.
Eterna! Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, : And round his dwelling guardian saints attend ; Bleft be that spot, where chearful guests retire To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire; Bleft that abode, where want and pain repair, And every stranger finds a ready chair: Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd, Where all the ruddy family around Laugh at the jefts or pranks that never fail, Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale; Or press the bashful stranger to his food, And learn the luxury of doing good.
But me, not destin'd such delights to share, My prime of life in wandering spent and care: Impell’d, with steps unceasing, to pursue Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view; That, like the circle bounding earth and skies, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies ; My fortune 'leads to traverse realms alone, And find no spot of all the world my own.
Ev'n now, where Alpine folitudes ascend, I fit me down a pensive hour to spend; And, plac'd on high above the florm's career, Look downward where an hundred realms appear; Lakes, forefts, cities, plains extending wide, The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.