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That seizes first the opulent, descends
590 To all the violence of lawless hands Resign the scenes their presence might protect. Authority herself not seldom sleeps, Though resident, and witness of the wrong. The plump convivial parson often bears
595 The magisterial sword in vain, and lays His rev’rence and his worship both to rest On the same cushion of habitual sloth. Perhaps timidity restrains his arm ; When he should strike he trembles, and sets free, 600 Himself enslav'd by terrour of the bandTh' audacious convict whom he dares not bind. Perhaps though by profession ghostly pure, He, too, may have his vice, and sometimes prove Less dainty than becomes his grave outside 605 In lucrative concerns. Examine well His milk-white hand; the palm is harldly cleanBut here and there an ugly smutch appears. Foh! 'twas a bribe that left it: he has touch'd Corruption. Whoso seeks an audit here
610 Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish, Wild fowl or venison : and his errand speeds.
But faster far, and more than all the rest,
615 Works the deplor'd and mischievous effect. "Tis universal soldiership has stabb'd The heart of merit in the meaner class. Arms, through the vanity and brainless rage Of those that bear them, in whatever cause,
Seem most at variance with all moral good,
Man in society is like a flow'r
665 Beneath one head for purposes of war, Like flow'rs selected from the rest, and bound And bundled close to fill some crowded vase, Fades rapidly, and, by compression marr'd, Contracts defilement not to be endur'd.
670 Hence charter'd boroughs are such publick plagues And burghers, men immaculate perhaps In all their private functions, once combin'd, Become a loathsome body, only fit For dissolution, hurtful to the main.
675 Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin Against the charities of domestick life, Incorporated, seem at once to lose Their nature ; and, disclairaing all regard For mercy and the common rights of man, 680 Build factories with blood, conducting trade At the sword's point, and dying the white robe Of innocent commercial Justice red. Hence, too, the field of glory, as the world Misdeems it, dazzied by its bright array, With all its majesty of thund'ring pomp, Enchanting musick, and immortal wreaths, Is but a school, where thoughtlessness is taught On principle, where foppery atones For folly, gallantry for ev'ry vice.
690 But slighted as it is, and by the great Abandon'd, and, which still I more regret, Infected with the manners and the modes It knew not once, the country wins me still. I never fram'd a wish, or form’d a plan, That flatter'd me with hopes of earthly bliss,
But there I laid the scene. There early stray'd
710 The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue To speak its excellence. I danc'd for joy. I marvell'd much that, at so ripe an age As twice seven years, his beauties had then first Engag'd my wonder; and admiring still,
715 And still admiring, with regret suppos’d The joy
lost, because not sooner found. There, too, enamour'd of the life I lov'd, Pathetick in its praise, in its pursuit Determin'd and possessing it at last,
720 With transports such as favour'd lovers feel, I studied, priz’d, and wish'd that I had known, Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaim'd By modern lights from an erroneous taste, I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
725 Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools. I still revere thee, courtly though retird; Though stretch'd at ease in Chertsey's silent bow'rs, Not unemployd ; and finding rich amends For a lost world in solitude and verse.
730 'Tis born with all: the love of Nature's works Is an ingredient in the compound man, Infus'd at the creation of the kind. And, though th’ Almighty Maker has throughout
Discriminated each from each, by strokes 735
745 Whatever else they smother of true worth In human bosoms, quench it or abate. The villas, with which London stands begirt, Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads Prove it. A breath of unadult'rate air
750 The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer The citizen, and brace his languid frame ! E'en in the stifling bosom of the town A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms That sooth the rich possessor ; much consolid, 755 That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well He cultivates. These serve him with a hint That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green Is still the liv'ry she delights to wear,
760 Though sickly samples of th' exub'rant whole. What are the casements lind with creeping herbs, The prouder sashes fronted with a range Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed, The Frenchman's darling ?* are they not all proofs, That man, immur'd in cites, still retains
766 His inborn inextinguishable thirst Of rural scenes, compensating his loss By supplemental shifts, the best he may ? The most unfurnish'd with the means of life, 770 And they, that never pass their brick-wall bounds,