Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,() As duty, love, and honour fail to sway, Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law, Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. Hence all obedience bows to these 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 toild, and poets wrote for fame,(2) One sink of level avarice shall lie, And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonour'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 ; (3) 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 favour’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'd grow, Its double weight must ruin all below.

(1) (“ Nor this the worst as social bonds decay."-First edit.)
(2) (" And monarchs toil, and poets pant for fame.”—Ibid.)
(3) (“ Perish the wish ; for, inly satisfied,

Above their pomps I hold my ragged pride."-Ibid.)

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 ; (1)
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 ; (2)

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 bare my swelling heart ;
Till half a pariot, half a coward grown,
I fly from petty tyrants to the throne.

Yes, Brother, curse with me that baleful hour,
When first ambition struck at regal power ;
And thus polluting honour in its source,
Gave wealth to sway the mind with double force.

(1) [“ The constitution of England is at present possessed of the strength of its native oak, and the Aexibility of the bending tamarisk ; but should the people at any time, with a mistaken zeal, pant after an imaginary freedom, and fancy that abridging monarchy was increasing their privileges, they would be very much mistaken, since every jewel 'plucked from the crown of majesty would only be made use of as a bribe to corruption : it might come to the few who shared it among them, but would in fact impoverish the public. As the Roman senators, by slow and imperceptible degrees, became masters of the people, yet still flattered them with a show of freedom while themselves only were free, so is it possible for a body of men, while they stand up for privileges, to grow into an exuberance of power themselves, and the public become actually dependant, while some of its individuals only governed.”—Citizen of the World. See vol. ii. p. 202.]

(2) [“What they may then expect may be seen by turning our eyes to Holland, Genoa, or Venice, where the laws govern the poor, and the rich govern the law."-Vicar of Wakefield, ch. xix. See vol. iii. p. 97.]

Have we not seen, round Britain's peopled shore, (1)
Her useful sons exchanged for useless ore?
Seen all her triumphs but destruction haste,
Like flaring tapers brightning as they waste;
Seen opulence, her grandeur to maintain,
Lead stern depopulation in her train,
And over fields where scatter'd hamlets rose,
In barren solitary pomp repose ?
Have we not seen at pleasure's lordly call,
The smiling long-frequented village fall ?
Beheld the duteous son, the sire decay'd,
The modest matron, and the blushing maid,
Forc'd from their homes, a melancholy train,
To traverse climes beyond the western main ;
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound ? (2)

E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays Through tangled forests, and through dangerous ways; Where beasts with man divided empire claim, And the brown Indian marks with murd’rous aim ; (3) 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, (6)

(1) [In this and the subsequent lines to the end of the passage, may be traced the germ of the Deserted Village ; so that the subject of that poem was no doubt contemplated as long as the Poet avows; namely, five years, and probably longer. If additional proof were required of their reference to an Irish village, we may find it in the couplet where he expressly says to his brother :

“ Have we not seen at pleasure's lordly call,

The smiling long-frequented village fall.”] (2) (When Goldsmith wrote, the third syllable was rendered long; at present, it is more usual to dwell upon the second. The former, however, is the native Indian pronunciation. Niagara means thunder-water.)

(3) (" And the brown Indian takes a deadly aim."-First edit.] (4) [“ Dr. Johnson said of Goldsmith's ‘ Traveller,' which had been published in my absence, 'there had not been so fine a poem since Pope's

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 centres 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 tyrant 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 consigned, Our own felicity we make or find : With secret course, which no loud storms annoy, Glides the smooth current of domestic joy. The lifted axe, the agonizing wheel, Luke's iron crown, and Damien's bed of steel, To men remote from power but rarely known, Leave reason, faith, and conscience, all our own. THE HERMIT.

time. In the year 1783, he, at my request, marked with a pencil the lines which he had furnished, wbich are only line 420th :

"To stop too fearful, and too faint to go;' and the concluding ten lines, except the last couplet but one."-Boswell, vol. ii., p. 308, ed. 1835.]

(1) [“ Goldsmith mentions Luke as a person well known, and superficial readers have passed it over quite smoothly; while those of more attention have been as much perplexed by Luke, as by Lydiat in ‘ the Vanity of Human Wishes.' The truth is, that Goldsmith himself was in a mistake. In the 'Respublica Hungarica,' there is an account of a desperate rebellion in the year 1514, headed by two brothers of the name of Zeck, George and Luke. When it was quelled, George, not Luke, was punished, by his bead being encircled with a red-hot iron crown; coronâ candescente ferrea coronatur. The same severity of torture was exercised on the earl of Athol, one of the murderers of James I. of Scotland.”Ibid., vol. ii. p. 309.)

A

BALLAD.

« ForrigeFortsett »