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Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are planned,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow,
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise;
There, plague and poison, lust and rapine grow; Here, peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.
Then grieve not, thou, to whom the indulgent Muse Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire;
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
The imperial banquet, and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre. Wilt thou debase the heart which God refined? No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire, To fancy, freedom, harmony, resigned; Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind.
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul,
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll,
Stung with disease, and stupified with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen,
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide,
(The mansion, then, no more of joy serene)
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?
O, how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!
The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven,
O, how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven!
These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health,
And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart.
But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth
E'er win its way to thy corrupted heart;
For ah! it poisons like a scorpion's dart;
Prompting the ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme,
The stern resolve, unmoved by pity's smart,
The troublous day, and long distressful dream. Return, my roving Muse! resume thy purposed theme.
There lived, in Gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree;
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell,
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcady;
But he, I ween, was of the North Countrie :
A nation famed for song, and beauty's charms;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;
Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith; invincible in arms.
The shepherd-swain, of whom I mention made,
On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
The sickle, scythe, or plough, he never swayed;
An honest heart was almost all his stock;
His drink the living water from the rock :
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock ;
And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent,
Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er they
From labour health, from health contentment springs.
Contentment opes the source of every joy.
He envied not, he never thought of kings;
Nor from those appetites sustained annoy,
Which chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy:
Nor fate his calm and humble hopes beguiled;
He mourned no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,
For on his vows the blameless Phoebe smiled,
And her alone he loved, and loved her from a child.
No jealousy their dawn of love o’ercast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
Each season looked delightful, as it past,
To the fond husband, and the faithful wife.
Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd life
They never roamed; secure beneath the storm,
Which in Ambition's lofty land is rife,
Where peace and love are cankered by the worm
Of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform.
The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this simple pair.
His birth no oracle or seer foretold :
No prodigy appeared in earth or air,
Nor aught that might a strange event declare.
You guess each circumstance of EDWIN's birth;
The parent's transport, and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth.