« PreviousContinue »
THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.
AH! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
And wag'd with Fortune an eternal war;
In life's low vale remote hath pin'd alone, Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown.
And yet, the languor of inglorious days
Not equally oppressive is to all.
Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call,
Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had He, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim,
The rolls of fame, I will not now explore;
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.
To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they will.
Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
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
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind.
Canst thou forego the pure etherial soul
Stung with disease and stupified with spleen;
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
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 th' ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme, The stern resolve, unmov'd by pity's smart, - The troublous day, and long distressful dream.Return, my roving Muse, resume thy purpos'd theme.
There liv'd in Gothic days, as legends tell,
But he, I ween, was of the north countrie: *
The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made, On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock; The sickle, scythe, or plough, he never sway'd; An honest heart was almost all his stock; His drink the living water from the rock : The milky dams supply'd his board, and lent Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock; And he, tho' oft with dust and sweat besprent, Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er they went.
From labour health, from health contentment springs.
Contentment opes the source of every joy. He envy'd not, he never thought of kings : Nor from those appetites sustain'd annoy, Which chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy; Nor fate his calm and humble hopes beguil'd; He mourn'd no recreant friend, nor mistress coy, For on his vows the blameless Phœbe smil'd, And her alone he lov'd, and lov'd her from a child.
*There is hardly an ancient Ballad or Romance, wherein a Minstrel or Harper appears, but he is characterized, by way of eminence, to have been "Of the North Countrie." It is probable, that under this appellation were formerly com prehended all the provinces to the north of the Trent. See Percy's Essay on the English Minstrels.