« ForrigeFortsett »
With prickly goss, that shapeless and deform
There often wanders one, whom better days
I see a column of slow-rising smoke O'ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild. A vagabond and useless tribe there eat Their miserable meal. A kettle slung Between two poles upon a stick transverse, Receives the morsel; flesh obscene of dog, Or vermin, or at best, of cock purloined From his accustomed perch. Hard-faring race! They pick their fuel out of every hedge, Which kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquenched The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawny skin, The vellum of the pedigree they claim. Great skill have they in palmistry, and more To conjure clean away the gold they touch, Conveying worthless dross into its place. Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal. Strange! that a creature rational, and cast In human mould, should brutalize by choice His nature, and though capable of arts By which the world might profit and himself, Self-banished from society, prefer
Such squalid sloth to honourable toil.
Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft
They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb
And vex their flesh with artificial sores,
Can change their whine into a mirthful note
When safe occasion offers, and with dance
And music of the bladder and the bag
Beguile their woes and make the woods resound.
Such health and gaiety of heart enjoy
The houseless rovers of the sylvan world;
And breathing wholesome air, and wandering much,
Need other physic none to heal the effects
Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold.
Blest he, though undistinguished from the crowd By wealth or dignity, who dwells secure Where man, by nature fierce, has laid aside His fierceness, having learnt, though slow to learn, The manners and the arts of civil life. His wants, indeed, are many: but supply Is obvious; placed within the easy reach Of temperate wishes and industrious hands. Here virtue thrives as in her proper soil; Not rude and surly, and beset with thorns, And terrible to sight, as when she springs, (If e'er she springs spontaneous,) in remote And barbarous climes, where violence prevails, And strength is lord of all; but gentle, kind, By culture tamed, by liberty refreshed, And all her fruits by radiant truth matured. War and the chase engross the savage whole: War followed for revenge, or to supplant The envied tenants of some happier spot, The chase for sustenance, precarious trust! His hard condition with severe constraint Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth Of wisdom, proves a school in which he learns Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate, Mean self-attachment, and scarce aught beside. Thus fare the shivering natives of the north, And thus the rangers of the western world Where it advances far into the deep, Towards the Antarctic. Even the favoured isles So lately found, although the constant sun Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile, Can boast but little virtue; and mert Through plenty, lose in morals what they gain In manners, victims of luxurious ease. These therefore I can pity, placed remote From all that science traces, art invents, Or inspiration teaches; and enclosed In boundless oceans never to be passed By navigators uninformed as they,
Or ploughed perhaps by British bark again.
But far beyond the rest, and with most cause,
Thee, gentle savage!' whom no love of thee
Or thine, but curiosity perhaps,
Or else vain-glory, prompted us to draw
Forth from thy native bowers, to show thee here
With what superior skill we can abuse
The gifts of Providence, and squander life.
The dream is past. And thou hast found again
Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams,
And homestall thatched with leaves. But hast thou found
Their former charms? And having seen our state,
Our palaces, our ladies, and our pomp
Of equipage, our gardens, and our sports,
And heard our music; are thy simple friends,
Thy simple fair, and all thy plain delights
As dear to thee as once? And have thy joys
Lost nothing by comparison with ours?
Rude as thou art (for we returned thee rude
And ignorant except of outward show,)
I cannot think thee yet so dull of heart
And spiritless, as never to regret
Sweets tasted here, and left as soon as known.
Methinks I see thee straying on the beach,
And asking of the surge that bathes thy foot
If ever it has washed our distant shore.
I see thee weep, and thine are honest tears,
A patriot's for his country. Thou art sad
At thought of her forlorn and abject state,
From which no power of thine can raise her up.
Thus fancy paints thee, and though apt to err,
Perhaps errs little, when she paints thee thus.
She tells me too, that duly every morn
Thou climbst the mountain top, with eager eye
Exploring far and wide the watery waste
For sight of ship from England. Every speck
Seen in the dim horizon, turns thee pale
With conflict of contending hopes and fears.
But comes at last the dull and dusky eve,
And sends thee to thy cabin well-prepared
To dream all night of what the day denied.
Alas ! expect it not. We found no bait
To tempt us in thy country. Doing good,
Disinterested good, is not our trade.
We travel far, 'tis true, but not for nought;
And must be bribed to compass earth again
By other hopes and richer fruits than yours.
But though true worth and virtue in the mild