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To men of other minds my fancy flies,
Thus while around the wave-subjected soil
Heavens ! how unlike their Belgic sires of old! Rough, poor, content, ungovernably bold;
War in each breast, and freedom on each brow;
Fir'd at the sound, my genius spreads her wing,
Thine, freedom, thine the blessings pictur'd here. Thine art those charms that dazzle and endear: Too blest 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 lordlings 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. Ferments arise, imprison'd factions roar, Represt ambition struggles round her shore, Till over-wrought, the general system feels Its motions stop, or phrenzy fire the wheels*
Nor this the worst. Asnature's ties decay, As duty, love, and honor fail to sway, Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law, Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. Hence all obedience bows to thee alone, And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown: Till time may come, when, stript 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, unhonor'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 favor'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 that think must govern those that toil; And all that freedom's highest aims can reach, Is but to lay proportion'd loads on each. Hence, should one order disproportion^ 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,
Pillag'd from slaves to purchase slaves at home;
Fear, pity, justice, indignation start,
Tear off reserve, and bear 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 baleful hour,
Even now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays
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 sympathise 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 terrors reign, Though tyrant kings, or tyrants laws restrain, How small of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure. Still to ourselves in every place consign'd, Our own felicity we make or find: With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy. The lifted ax, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damein's bed of steel, • To men remote from power but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience all our own.