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powerful, it is still in greater danger from the mistaken efforts of the learned to improve it. What criticisms have we not heard of late in favor of blank verse, and Pindaric odes, chorusses, anapests and iambics, alliterative care and happy negligence! Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it; and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.
But there is an enemy to this art still more dangerous, I mean Party. Party entirely distorts the judgment, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what contributes to increase the distemper. Like the tyger, that seldom desists from pursuing man, after having once preyed upon humaṇ flesh, the reader, who has once gratified his appetite with calumny, makes, ever after, the most agreeable feast upon murdered reputation. Such readers generally admire some half-witted thing, who wants to be thought a bold man, having lost the character of a wise one. Him they dignify with the name of poet: his tawdry lampoons are called satires; his turbulence is said to be force, and his phrenzy fire.
What reception a Poem may find, which has neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know. My aims are right. Without espousing the cause of any party, I have attempted to moderate the rage of all. I have endeavoured to shew, that there may be equal happiness in states that are differently governed from our own; that every state has a particular principle of happiness, and that this principle in each may be carried to a mischievous excess. There are few can judge better than yourself, how far these positions are illustrated in this Poem. I am,
Your most affectionate Brother,
A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY.
REMOTE, unfriended, melancholy, slow,
Or by the lazy Scheld, or wandering Po; Or onward, where the rude Carinthian boor Against the houseless stranger shuts the door; Or where Campania's plain forsaken lies, A weary waste expanding to the skies; Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see, My heart, untravell'd, fondly turns to thee: Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain, And drags at each remove a lengthening chain. Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend, And round his dwelling guardian saints attend; Blest be that spot, where cheerful guests retire To pause from toil, and trim their evening fire; Blest that abode, where want and pain repair, And every stranger finds a ready chair; Blest be those feasts with simple plenty crown'd, Where all the ruddy family around Laugh at the jests or pranks that never fail, Or sigh with pity at some mournful tale; Or press the bashful stranger to his food, And learn the luxury of doing good.
But me, not destin'd such delights to share, My prime of life in wandering spent and care: Impell'd with steps unceasing to pursue Some fleeting good, that mocks me with the view: That like the circle bounding earth and skies, Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies; My fortune leads to traverse realms alone, And find no spot of all the world my own.
E'en now, where Alpine solitudes ascend, I sit me down a pensive hour to spend ; And plac'd on high above the storm's career, Look downward where a hundred realms appear. Lakes, forests, cities, plains extending wide, The pomp of kings, the shepherd's humbler pride.
When thus Creation's charms around combine, Amidst the store, should thankless pride repine ? Say, should the philosophic mind disdain
That good which makes each humbler bosom vain?
Ye glittering towns,with wealth and splendor crown'd;
As some lone miser, visiting his store,
And oft I wish, amidst the scene, to find
Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest,
But where to find that happiest spot below,
The naked negro, panting at the line,
Still grants her bliss at labor's earnest call;
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,
Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows,
For wealth was theirs, nor far remov'd the date,