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The course of human things from good to ill,
From ill to worse, is fatal, never fails.
Increase of pow'r begets increase of wealth ;
Wealth luxury, and luxury excess ;
Excess, the scrophulous and itchy plague
That seizes first the opulent, descends
To the next rank contagious, and in time
Taints downward all the graduated scale
Of order, from the chariot to the plough.
The rich, and they that have an arın to check
The license of the lowest in degree,
Desert their office; and themselves, intent
On pleasure, haunt the capital, and thus
To all the violence of lawless hands
Resign the scenes their presence might protectó
Authority herself not seldom 'sleeps,
Though resident, and witnefs of the wrong.
The plump convivial parfon often bears
The magisterial sword in vain, and lays
His rey'rence and his worship both to rest
On the same cushion of habitual floth..
Perhaps timidity restrains his arm ;
When he should strike he trembles, and sets froe,
Himself enllav'd by, terror of the band,
Th' audacious convict, whom he dares not bind.
Perhaps, though by profeflion, ghostly pure,
He too may have his vice, and sometimes prove
Less dainty than becomes his grave outside
In lucrative concerns. Examine well
His milk-white hand; the palm is hardly clean
But here and there an ugly smutch appears.
Foh! 'twas a bribe that left it: he has touch'd
Corruption. Whofo feeks an audit here
Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish,
Wildfowl or ven’son, and his errand speeds.
But fafter far, and more than all the rest,
A noble cause, which none who bears a spark
Of public virtue ever with'd remov'd,
Works the deplor'd and mischievous effect.
"Tis universal soldiership has stabb'd
The heart of merit in the meaner class.
Arms, through the vanity and brainless
Of those that bear them, in whatever cause,
Seem most at variance with all moral good, :.
And incompatible with serious thought.
The clown, the child of nature, without guile,
Bleft with an infant's ignorance of all
But his own limple pleasures, now and then
A wrestling match, a foot-race, or a fair ;
Is balloted, and trembles at the news :
Sheepish he doffs his hat, and, mumbling, swears
A Bible-oath to be whate'er they pleafe,
To do he knows not what. The talk perform'd,
That instant he becomes the ferjeant's care,
His pupil, and his torment, and his jeft.
His awkward gait, his introverted toes,
Bent knces, round shoulders, and dejected looks,
Procure him many a curse. By flow degrees,
Unapt to learn, and form'd of stubborn stuff,
He yet by flow degrees puts off himself,
Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well :
He stands érect; his flouch becomes a walk ;
He steps right onward, martial in his air,
His form, and movement; is as smart above
As meal and larded locks can make him ; wears
His hat, or his plum'd helmet, with a grace;
And his three years of heroship expir'd,
Returns indignant to the lighted plough
He hates the field, in which no fife or drum
Attends him, drives his cattle to a march,
And fighs for the fmart comrades he has left.
"Twait well if his exterior change were all
But with his clumsy port the wretch has loft
His ignorance and harmless manners too.
To swear, to game, to drink; to thew at home,
By lewdness, idleness, and fabbath-breach,
The great proficiency he made abroad;
Tastonish and to grieve his gazing friends ;
To break fome maiden's and his mother's heart;
To be a peft where he was useful once;
Are his fole aim, and all his glory now.
Man in fociety is like a flow'r
Blown in its native bed : 'tis there alone
His faculties, expanded in full bloom,
Shine out; there only reach their proper use.
But man, associated and leagu'd with man
By regal warrant, or felf-join'd by bond
For interest-fake, or swarming into clans
Beneath one head for purposes of war,
Like flow'rs felected from the rest, and bound
And bundled close to fill some crowded vafe,
Fades rapidly, and, by compression marrd,
Contracts defilement not to be endur'd.
Hence charter'd boroughs are such public plagues;
And burghers, men immaculate perhaps
In all their private functions, once combin'd,
Become a loathsome body, only fit
For diffolution, hurtful to the main.
Hence merchants, unimpeachable of fin
Against the charities of domestic life,
Incorporated, seem at once to lose
Their nature, and, disclaiming all regard
For mercy and the common rights of man,
Build factories with blood, conducting trade ..
At the sword's point, and dying the white robe
Of innocent commercial justice red.
Hence too the field of glory, as the world
Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array,
With all its majesty of thund'ring pomp,
Enchanting music and immortal wreaths,
Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught
On principle, where foppery atones
For folly, gallantry for ev'ry vice.
But slighted as it is, and by the great
Abandon'd, and, which still I more regret
Infected with the manners and the modes
It knew not once, the country wins me ftill.
I never fram'd a wish, or form'd a plan,
That flatter'd me with hopes of earthly bliss,
But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice
Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural, rural too
The first-born efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their pow'rs.
No:bard could please me but whose lyre was tun'd
To Nature's praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigu'd me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling, as he sang,
The rustic throng beneath his fav’rite beech.
Then Milton had indeed a poet's charms :
New to my taste, his Paradise surpafs'd
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence; I danc'd for joy.
I marvel'd much that at so ripe an age
As twice sev’n years, his beauties had then first
Engag’d my wonder, and admiring still,