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And yet, perhaps, if countries we compare,
And estimate the blessings which they share,
Though patriots flatter, 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's1 cliffs, as Arno's? shelvy side;
And, though the rocky-crested summits frown,
Those 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,

spurns the plan that aims at other ends ;
Till, carried to excess in each domain,
This favourite good begets peculiar pain.

But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
And trace them through the prospect as it lies ;
Here for a while, my proper cares resigned,
Here let me sit in sorrow for mankind;
Like yon neglected shrub, at random cast,
That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.

Far to the right, where Appenine ascends,
Bright as the summer, Italy extends ;
Its uplands sloping deek the mountain side,
Woods over woods in gay theatric pride ;
While oft some temple's mouldering tops between
With venerable grandeur mark the scene.

Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast, The sons of ITALY were surely blest, Whatever fruits in different climes are found, That proudly rise, or humbly court the ground ? 1 Idria in Carniola, known for its 2 A considerable and celebrated quicksilver mines.

river of Tuscany.



110 115




Wbatever blooms in torrid tracts appear,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year ;
Whatever sweets salute the northern sky
With vernal hues, that blossom but to die,
There, 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 trilling ; zealous, yet untrue;
And even in penance planning sins anew.
All evils here contaminate the mind,
That opulence departed leaves behind ;
For wealth was theirs, not far removed the date,
When commerce proudly flourished through the state.
At her command, the palace learned to rise,
Again the long-fallen column sought the skies,
The canvas glowed, beyond even nature warm ;
The pregnant quarry teemed with human form,
Till, more unsteady than the southern gale,
Commerce on other shores displayed her sail ;
While nought remained of all that riches gave,
But towns unmanned, and lords without a slave;
And late the nation found, with fruitless skill,
Its former strength was but plethoric ill.

Yet still the loss of wealth is here supplied
By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride!
From there the feeble heart and long-fallen mind,
An easy compensation seem to find.
Here may be seen in bloodless pomp arrayed
The pasteboard triumph, and the cavalcade ;
Processions formed for piety and love ;
A mistress or a saint in every grove.
By sports like these are all their cares beguiled,
The sports of children satisfy the child :




150 160

1 Age of Leo X.



Each nobler aim, repressed by long controul,

155 Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul; While low delights succeeding fast behind, In happier meanness occupy the mind; As in those domes where Cæsars once bore sway, Defaced by time, and tottering in decay, There in the ruin, heedless of the dead, The shelter seeking peasant builds his shed; And, wondering man could want the larger pile, Exults, and owns his cottage with a smile. My soul, turn from them, turn we to survey

165 Where rougher climes a nobler race display ; Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread, And force a churlish soil for scanty bread. No product here the barren hills afford, But man and steel, the soldier and his sword.

170 No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array, But winter lingering chills the lap of May ; No Zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast, But meteors glare, and stormy glooms invest.

Yet still even here Content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm : Though poor the peasant's hut, his feasts though small, He sees his little lot, the lot of all. Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To shame the meanness of his humble shed:

180 No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal, To make him loathe his vegetable meal, But calm, and bred in ignorance and toil, Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil. Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,

185 Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his venturous ploughshare to the steep ; Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way, And drags the struggling savage into day.

190 At night returning, every labour sped, He sits him down, the monarch of a shed ; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys, His childrens' looks, that brighten at the blaze; While his loved partner, boastful of her hoard,

195 Displays her cleanly platter on the board ;





And haply, too, some pilgrim thither led,
With many a tale repays the nightly bed.

Thus every good his native wilds impart,
Imprints the patriot passion on his heart,
And e'en those ills that round his mansion rise
Enhance the bliss his scanty fund supplies ;
Dear is that shed to which his soul conforms,
And dear that hill which lifts him to the storms;
And as a child when scaring sounds molest,

Clings close and closer to the mother's breast,
So the loud torrent, and the whirlwind's roar,
But bind him to his native mountains more.

Such are the charms to barren states assigned, Their wants but few, their wishes all confined, Yet let them only share the praises due ; If few their wants, their pleasures are but few, For every want that stimulates the breast Becomes a source of pleasure when redressed : Whence from such lands each pleasing science fies, That first excites desire and then supplies; Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, To fill the languid pause with finer joy ; Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame. 220 The level life is but a mouldering fire, Unquenched by want, unfanned by strong desire ; Unfit for raptures, or if raptures cheer On some high festival of once a year, In wild excess the vulgar breast takes fire,

225 Till, buried in debauch, the bliss expire.

But not their joys alone thus coarsely flow, Their morals, like their pleasures, are but low, For, as refinement stops, from sire to son Unaltered, unimproved, the manners run; And love's and friendship's finely pointed dart Fall, blunted, from each indurated heart. Some sterner virtues o'er the mountain's breast May sit, like falcons, cowering o'er the nest; But all the gentler morals, such as play Through life's more cultured walks, and charm the way, These, far dispersed, on timorous pinions fly, To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.


235 240




To kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,
I turn, and FRANCE displays her bright domain.
Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease,
Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please,
How often have I led the sportive choir
With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire ;
Where shading elms along the margin grew,
And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew;
And haply though my harsh touch, faltering still,
But mocked all tune, and marred the dancer's skill;
Yet would the village praise my wondrous power,

And dance, forgetful of the noon-tide hour,
Alike all ages; dames of ancient days
Have led their children through the mirthful maze,
And the gay grandsire, skilled in gestic lore,
Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore.

So bless'd a life these thoughtless realms display;
Thus idly busy rolls their world away:
Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,
For honour forms the social temper here.
Honour, that praise which real merit gains,
Or e'en imaginary worth obtains,
Here passes current; paid from hand to hand,
It shifts, in splendid traffic, round the land.
From courts to camps, to cottages, it strays,
And all are taught an avarice of praise ;
They please, are pleased; they give to get esteem,
Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.

But while this softer art their bliss supplies,
It gives their follies also room to rise ;
For praise too dearly loved, or warmly sought,
Enfeebles all internal strength of thought;
And the weak soul, within itself unblest,
Leans for all pleasure on another's breast.
Hence Ostentation here, with tawdry art,
Pants for the vulgar praise which fools impart;
Here Vanity assumes her pert grimace,
And trims her robes of frieze with copper lace;
Here beggar Pride defrauds her daily cheer,
To boast one splendid banquet once a year ;
The mind still turns where shifting fashion draws,
Nor weighs the solid worth of self-applause.






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