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Nature, a mother kind alike to all, Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call; With food as well the peasant is supply'd On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side; And though the rocky crested summits frown, (") These 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 lov'd blessing prone, Conforms and models life to that alone. Each to the fav’rite happiness attends, And spurns the plan that aims at other ends; Till, carried to excess in each domain, This fav'rite good begets peculiar pain.
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
Far to the right where Apennine ascends, Bright as the summer, Italy extends ; Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side, Woods over woods in gay theatric pride ; While oft some temple's mould’ring tops between With venerable grandeur mark the scene.
(1) [" And though rough rocks or gloomy summits frown."-First edit. I VOL. IV.
Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
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 trifling; 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 remov'd the date, When commerce proudly flourish'd through the state ; At her command the palace learn’d to rise, Again the long-fall’n column sought the skies ; The canvas glow'd beyond een nature warm, The pregnant quarry teem'd with human form : Till, more unsteady than the southern gale, Commerce on other shores display'd her sail ; (1) While nought remaind of all that riches gave, But towns unmann'd, and lords without a slave:
(1) ( " But more unsteady than the southern gale,
Soon commerce turn'd on other shores her sail."--First edit.)
And late the nation found, with fruitless skill,
Yet, still the loss of wealth is here supplied
(1) ["Yet, though to fortune lost, here still abide
Some splendid arts, the wrecks of former pride."-First edit.] (2) [Either Sir Joshua Reynolds, or a mutual friend who immediately communicated the story to him, calling at Goldsmith's lodgings, opened the door without ceremony, and discovered him not in meditation, or in the throes of poetic birth, but in the boyish office of teaching a favourite dog to sit upright upon its haunches, or as it is commonly said, to beg. Occasionally he glanced his eyes over his desk, and occasionally shook his finger at the unwilling pupil, in order to make him retain his position; while on the page before him was written that couplet, with the ink of the second line still wet, from the description of Italy:
“By sports like these are all their cares beguiled,
The sports of children satisfy the child." The sentiment seemed so appropriate to the employment, that the visitor could not refrain from giving vent to his surprise in a strain of banter, which was received with characteristic good humour, and the admission at once made, that the amusement in which he had been engaged had given birth to the idea.–See Life, ch. xiv. 1 (3) (Here followed in the first edition :
" At sports like these while foreign arms advance,
In passive ease they leave the world to chance."]
As in those domes where Cæsars once bore
My soul, turn from them ; turn we to survey 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; 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
disarm. Though poor the peasant's hut, his feast 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 ; 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, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes ; With patient angle trolls the finny deep, Or drives his vent'rous ploughshare to the steep;
(2) (“Amidst the ruin, heedless of the dead."- First edit.]
Or seeks the den where snow-tracks mark the way,
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, (1) 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 assign'd; Their wants but few, their wishes all confin'd. 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 redrest Whence from such lands each pleasing science flies, That first excites desire, and then supplies ; Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, To fill the languid pause with finer joy ;
01: [" And as a babe, when scaring sounds molest,” &c.-First edit.)