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A Bondage lurking under shape of good,
Arts, in themselves beneficent and kind,
But all too fondly followed and too far;
To Victims, which the merciful can see
Nor think that they are Victims; turned to wrongs
Which Women who have Children of their own
Regard without compassion, yea with praise!
I spake of mischief which the wise diffuse
With gladness, thinking that the more it spreads
The healthier, the securer we become;
Delusion which' a moment may destroy !
Lastly I mourned for those whom I had seen
Corrupted and cast down, on favoured ground,
Where circumstance and nature had combined
To shelter innocence, and cherish love;
Who, but for this intrusion, would have lived,
Possessed of health, and strength, and peace of mind;
Thus would have lived, or never have been born.
Alas! what differs more than man from man!
And whence that difference? whence but from himself?
For see the universal Race endowed
With the same upright form !--The sun is fixed,
And the infinite magnificence of heaven,
Within the reach of every human eye;
The sleepless Ocean murmurs for all ears ;
The vernal field infuses fresh delight
Into all hearts. Throughout the world of sense
Even as an object is sublime or fair,
That object is laid open to the view
Without reserve or veil; and as a power
Is salutary, or an influence sweet,
Are each and all enabled to perceive
That power, that influence, by impartial law.
Gifts nobler are vouchsafed alike to all;
Reason,-and, with that reason, smiles and tears;
Imagination, freedom in the will,
Conscience to guide and check; and death to be
Foretasted, immortality presumed.
Strange, then, nor less than monstrous might be deemed
The failure, if the Almighty, to this point
Liberal and undistinguishing, should hide
The excellence of moral qualities
From common understanding ; leaving truth
And virtue, difficult, abstruse, and dark ;
Hard to be won, and only by a few;
Strange, should he deal herein with nice respects,
And frustrate all the rest! Believe it not:
The primal duties shine aloft-like stars ;
The charities that soothe, and heal, and bless,
Are scattered at the feet of Man-like flowers.
The generous inclination, the just rule,
Kind wishes, and good actions, and pure thoughts
No mystery is here; no special boon
For high and not for low, for proudly graced
And not for meek of heart. The smoke ascends
To heaven as lightly from the Cottage hearth
As from the haughty palace. He, whose soul
Ponders this true equality, may walk
The fields of earth with gratitude and hope;
Yet, in that meditation, will he find
Motive to sadder grief, as we have found,
Lamenting ancient virtues overthrown,
And for the injustice grieving, that hath made
So wide a difference betwixt Man and Man.
But let us rather fix our gladdened thoughts Upon the brighter scene. How blest that Pair Of blooming Boys (whom we beheld even now)
Blest in their several and their common lot!
A few short hours of each returning day
The thriving Prisoners of their Village school;
And thence let loose, to seek their pleasant homes,
lawn in vacancy,
To breathe and to be happy, run and shout
Idle,—but no delay, no harm, no loss ;
For every genial Power of heaven and earth,
Through all the seasons of the changeful year,
Obsequiously doth take
To labour for them; bringing each in turn
The tribute of enjoyment, knowledge, health,
Beauty, or strength! Such privilege is theirs,
Granted alike in the outset of their course
To both; and, if that partnership must cease,
I grieve not,” to the Pastor here he turned,
“ Much as I glory in that Child of yours,
Repine not, for his Cottage-comrade, whom
Belike no higher destiny awaits
Than the old hereditary wish fulfilled,
The wish for liberty to live content
With what heaven grants, and die-in peace of mind,
Within the bosom of his native Vale.
At least, whatever fate the noon of life
Reserves for either, this is sure, that both
Have been permitted to enjoy the dawn;
Whether regarded as a jocund time
That in itself may terminate, or lead
In course of nature to a sober eve.
Both have been fairly dealt with; looking back
They will allow that justice has in them
Been shewn-alike to body and to mind.”
He paused, as if revolving in his soul Some weighty matter, then, with fervent voice And an impassioned majesty, exclaimed, “ Oh for the coming of that glorious time When, prizing knowledge as her noblest wealth And best protection, this Imperial Realm, While she exacts allegiance, shall admit An obligation, on her part, to teach Them who are born to serve her and obey; Binding herself by Statute to secure For all the Children whom her soil maintains The rudiments of Letters, and to inform The mind with moral and religious truth,