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Where chanticleer amidst his haram sleeps
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitch'd from the perch,
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives,
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain,
And loudly wond'ring at the fudden change.
Nor this to feed his own. 'Twere fome excuse
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside
His principle, and tempt himn into fin
For their support, fo deftitute. But they
Neglected pine at home, themselves, as more
Expos'd than others, with lefs scruple made
His victims, robb'd of their defenceless all.
Cruel is all he does. 'Tis quenchless thirst
Of ruinous ebriety that prompts
His ev'ry action, and imbrutes the man.
Oh for a law to noose the villain's neck
Who starves his own; who persecutes the blood
He gave them, in his children's veins, and hates
And wrongs the woman he has sworn to love.
Pass where we may, through city or through
Village or hamlet of this merry land,
Though lean and beggar'd, ev'ry twentieth pace
Conducts th' anguarded nose to such a whiff
Of stale debauch, forth-issuing from the styes
That law has licens'd, as makes temp'rance reel,
There fit, involv'd and loft in curling clouds
Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor, .
The lackey, and the groom : the craftsman there
Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil;
Smith, cobler, joiner, he that plies the sheers,
And he that kneads the dough ; all loud alike,
All learned, and all drunk. The fiddle screams
Plaintive and piteous, as it wept and waild
Its wasted tones and harmony unheard :
Fierce the dispute, whate'er the theme; while
Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate,
Perch'd on the fign-post, holds with even hand
Her undecisive scales. In this she lays
A weight of ignorance, in that, of pride,
And smiles delighted with th' eternal poise.
Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin found
The cheek-diftending oath, not to be prais'd
As ornamental, musical, polite,
Like those which modern senators employ,
Whose oath is rhet'ric, and who swear for fame.
Behold the schools in which plebeian minds,
Once fimple, are initiated in arts,
Which some may practise with politer grace,
But none with readier skill ! 'tis here they learn.
The road that leads, from competence and peace,
To indigence and rapine ; till at last
Society, grown weary of the load,
Shakes her incumber'd lap, and casts them out.
But censure profits little : vain th' attempt
-To advertise in verse a public peft,
That, like the filth with which the peasant feeds
His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use.
Th' excise is 'fatten'd with the rich result
Of all this riot; and ten thousand casks,
For ever dribbling out their base.contents,
Touch'd by the Midas finger of the state,
Bleed geld for Ministers to sport away.
Drink and be mad then ; 'tis your country bids ;
Gloriously drunk, obey th’important call ;
Her cause demands th' affiftance of your throats ;
Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more.
Would I had fallin upon those happier days
That poets celebrate; those golden times
And thofe Arcadian fcanes that Maro sings,
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose.
Nymphs were Dianas then, and fwains had
That felt their virtues : innocence, it seems,
From courts dismissa, found shelter in the groves.
The footsteps of fimplicity, impress'd
Upon the yielding herbage (so they fing)
Then were not all effacă : then speech profane,
And manners profligate, were rarely found,
Observ'd as prodigies, and soon reclaim'd.
Vain wish! those days were never : airy dreams
Sat for the picture; and the poet's hand,
Imparting substance to an empty shade,
Impos'd a gay delirium for a truth.
Grant it : I still must envy them an age
That favor'd such a dream ; in days like these
Impoffible, when virtue is so scarce,
That to suppose a scene where the presides,
Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief.
No: we are polish'd now. The rural lass,
Whom once her virgin modesty and grace,
Her artless manners and her neat attire,
So dignified, that she was hardly less
Than the fair shepherdefs of old romance
Is seen no more. The character is loft.
Her head, adorn'd with lappets pinn'd aloft,
And ribbands streaming gay, fuperbly rais'd,
And magnified beyond all human fize,
Indebted to some smart wig-weaver's hand
For more than half the treffes it sustains ;
Her elbows ruffled, and her tott'ring form
DI propp'd upon French heels ; she might be
(But that the basket dangling on her arm
Interprets her more truly) of a rank
Too proud for dairy-work or sale of eggs.
Expect her foon with foot-boy at her heels,
No longer blushing for her aukward load,
Her train and her umbrella all her care.
The town has ting’d the country, and the
Appears a spot upon a vestal's robe,
The worse for what it foils. The fashion runs
Down into scenes still rural; but, alas !
Scenes rarely grac'd with rural manners now.
Time was when, in the pastoral retreat,
Th’unguarded door was fafe ; men did not watch
To invade another's right, or guard their own.
Then fleep was undisturb'd by fear, unscar'd
By drunken howlings ; and the chilling tale
Of midnight murther, was a wonder heard
With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes.
But farewel now to unsuspicious nights,
And flumbers unalarm’d : now, ere you sleep,
See that your polish'd arms be prim'd with care,
And drop the night-bolt ; ruffians are abroad,
And the first larum of the cock's shrill throat
May prove a trumpet, summoning your ear
To horrid sounds of hostile feet within.
Ev'n day-lights has its dangers ; and the walk
Through pathless wastes and woods, unconscious
Of other tenants than melodious birds,
Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold.
Lamented change! to which full many a cause
Invetrate, hopeless of a cure, confpires.