While Oliver Goldsmith's polished, late-Augustan manner in the Deserted Village owes nothing to the Faerie Queene, its sequence of moralized houses — the mansion, the schoolmaster's house, the preacher's house, the tavern — draws upon a device common in Spenserian poetry; one might compare Thomson's Castle of Indolence (a House of Pride) or the residence of Burns's Cotter (a House of Holiness). The pleasing imagery used to describe Auburn derives from the pastoral ballad tradition which had been turning its attention to rural description throughout the 1760s.
Goldsmith's lyrical georgic became one of the more frequently imitated poems of the eighteenth century. Later poems on rural subjects often quarried it in combination with Shenstone's School-Mistress and Gray's Elegy; Goldsmith's treatment of emigration ("Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand, | I see the rural virtues leave the land") was echoed in a long series of Spenserian poems, notably Wordsworth's The Female Vagrant (1798). Among the imitations is a series concerned with clerical characters. Goldsmith's account of the passing of rural folkways would prove enormously influencial in the nineteenth century, not least in Spenserian poems imitating Burns's Cotter's Saturday Night, itself influenced by the domestic descriptions in the Deserted Village.
Town and Country Magazine: "We should be neglectful of our readers, did we not take some notice of this performance, which we will venture to call a most beautiful structure, though we think it is built up on a very sandy foundation; or rather, it is a rainbow castle in the air, raised and adorned solely by the strength of the author's imagination; for we cannot believe, that this country is depopulating, or that commerce is destructive of the real strength and greatness of a nation. However, though we do not agree with the Doctor's politics, we most sincerely admire his poetry. And we must indeed tell him, that his work is in a great measure a confutation of his system; for, among other things, he tells us, that wicked luxury, the child of commerce, has driven the virtuous from the land, and with them poetry; but was that the case, we should not have had the pleasure to read the Deserted Village" 2 (May 1770) 168.
John Hawkesworth: "In this extract there is a strain of poetry very different from the quaint phrase, and forced construction, into which our fashionable bards are distorting prose; yet it may be remarked, that our pity is here principally excited for what cannot suffer, for a brook that is choaked with sedges, a glade that is become the solitary haunt of the bittern, a walk deserted to the lapwing, and a wall that is half hidden by grass. We commiserate the village as a sailor does his ship, and perhaps we never contemplate the ruins of any thing magnificent or beautiful without enjoying a tender and mournful pleasure from this fanciful association of ideas" Monthly Review 42 (June 1770) 442.
Gentleman's Magazine: "In the first place we cannot but congratulate the public upon an attempt to revive a true taste for this kind of composition, at a time when our fashionable poetical dialect is degenerating into a kind of cant; in which obsolete words and phrases are revived, new, quaint, and affected terms introduced, and an unnatural sense forced upon others; where the prosody of our early versifiers is adopted, with an affected relish of all the faults and imperfections which have since been corrected, both by precept and example; epithets multiplied without advantage either to sense or sound, and a metaphorical language introduced, which like the nethermost abyse, teems with 'all monstrous all prodigious things'" 40 (June 1770) 272.
London Magazine: "This is a very elegant poem, written with great pains, yet bearing every possible mark of facility; in our last number we gave an extract from it containing the picture of a country curate. We shall now present the public with the description of a country school-master, and a village alehouse which we think particularly picturesque" 39 (June 1770) 318.
Nemo: "the favourable reception of the Traveller, and the Deserted Village, poems very different from the productions of the Grays and Masons, gives reason to prognosticate a return to the long forsaken imitation of Greece and Rome. These poems I am far from deeming faultless in their kind. They are however, confessedly formed on the ancient model, and have obtained a popularity, which points are sufficient for our present argument. The Grays and Masons have still some favourers, and that these should deny Goldsmith the smallest degree of poetical merit, is not surprising, since they who can admire the 'enflure' of the former poets, are incapacitated from relishing the simplicity of the latter; as those who riot in the banquets of princes have no appetite for the plain viands of the rural cottager" in "On Celebrated Writers" Town and Country Magazine 5 (April 1773) 183.
Edmund Burke: "What true and pretty pastoral images has Goldsmith in his Deserted Village! They beat all: Pope, and Philips, and Spenser too, in my opinion; — That is, in pastoral, for I go no farther" to Shackleton, 6 May 1780; in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 3:620.
Public Advertiser: "We have already mentioned, that the Doctor occasionally retired into the country, and it was in rural stillness and solitude that he wrote The Deserted Village; where the poet pathetically deplores the depopulation of the country, and the disorders attendant on all the luxuries which commerce hath introduced. These did not all exist in his own imagination only. In one of his country excursions he resided near the house of a great West Indian, in the neighbourhood of which several cottages were destroyed, in order to enlarge, or rather to polish, the prospect. This circumstance the Doctor often mentioned to evince the truth of his reasoning, and to this he particularly alludes in the following lines: 'Along the lawn, where scattered hamlets rose, | Unwieldy wealth and cumbrous pomp repose.' With whatever facility the Doctor might write in prose, or in the lighter species of poetry, his Deserted Village was a very laboured composition. He himself declared, that he never wrote more than four lines a day, and the four which begin the poem have been in as many states of variation as would cover the side of a half sheet of paper" "Anecdotes of the late Dr. Goldsmith" (29 September 1780).
Walker's Hibernian Magazine: "Perhaps the highest panegyrick that can be passed on the Deserted Village, is this: Since its appearance in the world, there has not followed a single eminent, nay, scarcely a tolerable poem, on a similar subject; where we have seen it attempted, we constantly find the writer had the Deserted Village in his mind's eye, and we find scarcely more than Goldsmith's thoughts and sentiments disguised and disfigured; for in truth he may be said to have possessed himself of the most marked and agreeable little incidents, that in a rural life afford pleasure to the contemplative mind" (November 1800) 270.
Thomas James Mathias: "Among modern poets he [Gray] thought most favourably of Goldsmith. Mr. Nicholls was with him one summer at Malvern, when he received the Deserted Village, which Mr. Gray desired him to read aloud; he listened to it with fixed attention from the beginning to the end, and then exclaimed, 'That man is a poet'" Works of Gray, ed. Mathias (1814) 2:595.
Henry Neele: "The Traveller and the Deserted Village scarcely claim any notice from me. They are in every one's hands; they live in every one's memory; they are felt in every one's heart. They are daily the delight of millions. The critic and the commentator are never asked their opinions of their merit. 'Song,' says Campbell, 'is but the eloquence of truth,' and of this eloquence are the writings of Goldsmith made up. Eloquence that will be listened to; truth that it is impossible to doubt" Russell Institution Lectures on English Poetry, 1827; in Remains (1829) 123.
J. W. Croker: "Goldsmith was an ornament of the Johnsonian society; but in what respect can he be said to have belonged to the Johnsonian school? The style of his writings, the turn of his mind, the habits of his life, were, in almost every point, strikingly dissimilar from Johnson's" Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Croker (1831) 1:429n.
William Howitt: "in no country in the world are the rights of the peasantry so totally disregarded; in no country has the outrage of The Deserted Village been so often enacted. The scene which Goldsmith so pathetically describes, of the poor villagers whose homes had been destroyed, whose native haunts had been made to cast them forth, going on towards the shore seeking for an asylum beyond the ocean, was not a solitary scene. It has been reacted again and again. It has been repeated from that hour to this; and every year and almost every day sees sad thousands bidding adieu to their birthplaces, and crowding on board the ships that carry them to a more hospitable country" Homes and Haunts of the Most Eminent British Poets (1847) 1:301.
Edward Dowden: "Whether The Traveller or The Deserted Village be the more admirable poem, whether Auburn be an English village or the Irish Lissoy, or both in one, whether Goldsmith's political economy be solid or sentimental, it is perhaps not necessary once more to discuss. Perhaps Auburn bordered on Shakespeare's Forest of Arden, and the doctrines concerning agricultural and commercial prosperity were suited to that neighbourhood. It would be pleasant to hear Jaques and Touchstone discuss them, taking opposite sides. Certainly Auburn is English, but certainly too Paddy Byrne kept school there, and Uncle Contarine or Henry Goldsmith occupied the rectory. In whatever shire or county situated, we know Auburn better than any other village" The English Poets, ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (1880) 3:371-72.
Edmund Gosse: "Goldsmith, if carefully examined, is seen to mark a retrograde step, a momentary phrase of reaction. In versification he returned, in company with Churchill, to the heroic couplet, which had received no support of any great weight, save that of Samuel Johnson, in the preceding generation. For the Spenserian stanza and the blank verse of Thomson, for the ode-forms of Gray and Collins, Goldsmith did not conceal his disdain. He looked back beyond these naturalistic poets, and took his place in direct succession to Pope. His disdain, in non-dramatic poetry, of blank verse, the employment of which had become general since 1725, is not more seen in the remarks in the Polite Learning, and the dedication to The Traveller, than in Goldsmith's total repudiation of it in his own work. He studied the couplet with great care, and he contrived to introduce into it an ease, an unstudied simplicity, which raise Goldsmith far above Johnson and Churchill, and sometimes place him, in mere charm, above Pope himself. The key-word in Goldsmith's verse is grace. He is not, as a poet, very strong, or very original, or very frequently inspired; but his simplicity is often touching, his ear is commonly delicate, and his rectitude of feeling always takes a polished and yet a natural form of expression" History of Eighteenth-Century Literature (1889) 316.
W. J. Courthope: "He grounds himself on the spoken language of his country, and in Retaliation and other poems he shows a mastery over colloquial idiom as complete as that of Prior and Swift. But he adds to this, in his treatment of the heroic couplet, the 'touch of distinction,' learned from the literary practice of many generations of English poets from Drayton to Pope, of which I have so often spoken. If, in some of his antithetical turns, we are reminded, 'perhaps too forcibly, that this finely tempered instrument of language has been forged and sharpened in the rhetorical schools,' this only makes the resemblance between him and the Attic writers more complete" History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 5:217-18.
Henry A. Beers: "Goldsmith evidently had [Shenstone's School-mistress] in memory when he drew the picture of the school in his Deserted Village" English Romanticism in the Eighteenth-Century (1899) 91.
Goldsmith may have been inspired by The Poor Man's Prayer (1766) by William Hayward Roberts, a poem in elegiac quatrains that paints a similar contrast between the happiness and misery of peasants threatened by unrestrained trade.
Two anonymous imitations followed almost immediately, The Village Oppressed (1771) and The Frequented Village (1771). Thomas Combe composed a sequel, Edwin: or the Emigrant. An Eclogue (1775), and Wordsworth's The Female Vagrant, in Spenserians, (1798) develops Goldsmith's themes. Richard Polwhele's Spenserian satire, The Deserted Village School (1813) imitates both Shenstone and Goldsmith: the school-mistress has been sent to the workhouse and education goes into exile. There was also an anonymous Deserted City (1780). On the theme of luxury, compare William Gillespie's Refinement, an Allegorical Poem (1805). A French translation is discussed in Port Folio [Philadelphia] S4 1 (January 1816) 38-42.
SWEET AUBURN! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheer'd the labouring swain,
Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed,
Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease,
Seats of my youth, when every sport could please,
How often have I loitered o'er thy green,
Where humble happiness endeared each scene;
How often have I paused on every charm,
The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm,
The never failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topt the neighbouring hill,
The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade,
For talking age and whisp'ring lovers made.
How often have I blest the coming day,
When toil remitting lent its turn to play,
And all the village train from labour free
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree,
While many a pastime circled in the shade,
The young contending as the old surveyed;
And many a gambol frolicked o'er the ground,
And sleights of art and feats of strength went round.
And still as each repeated pleasure tired,
Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired;
The dancing pair that simply sought renown
By holding out to tire each other down,
The swain mistrustless of his smutted face,
While secret laughter tittered round the place,
The bashful virgin's side-long looks of love,
The matron's glance that would those looks reprove.
These were thy charms, sweet village; sports like these,
With sweet succession, taught even toil to please;
These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed,
These were thy charms — But all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green:
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain;
No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
But choked with sedges, works its weedy way.
Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
And tires their ecchoes with unvaried cries.
Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall,
And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,
Far, far away, thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made,
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintain'd its man;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health;
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are altered; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scatter'd hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth, and cumbrous pomp repose;
And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that asked but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Liv'd in each look, and brightened all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Sweet AUBURN! parent of the blissful hour,
Thy glades forlorn confess the tyrant's power.
Here as I take my solitary rounds,
Amidst thy tangling walks, and ruined grounds,
And, many a year elapsed, return to view
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn grew,
Here, as with doubtful, pensive steps I range,
Trace every scene, and wonder at the change,
Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care,
In all my griefs — and GOD has given my share—
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;
My anxious day to husband near the close,
And keep life's flame from wasting by repose.
I still had hopes, for pride attends us still,
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill,
Around my fire an evening groupe to draw,
And tell of all I felt, and all I saw;
And, as an hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return — and die at home at last.
O blest retirement, friend to life's decline,
Retreats from care, that never must be mine,
How happy he who crowns in shades like these,
A youth of labour with an age of ease;
Who quits a world where strong temptations try,
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly.
For him no wretches, born to work and weep,
Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;
No surly porter stands in guilty state
To spurn imploring famine from the gate,
But on he moves to meet his latter end,
Angels around befriending virtue's friend;
Sinks to the grave with unperceiv'd decay,
While resignation gently slopes the way;
And all his prospects brightening to the last,
His Heaven commences ere the world be past!
Sweet was the sound, when oft at evening's close,
Up yonder hill the village murmur rose;
There, as I past with careless steps and slow,
The mingling notes came softened from below;
The swain responsive as the milk-maid sung,
The sober herd that low'd to meet their young;
The noisy geese that gabbled o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school;
The watch-dog's voice that bayed the whispering wind,
And the loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind;
These all in sweet confusion sought the shade,
And filled each pause the nightingale had made.
But now the sounds of population fail,
No chearful murmurs fluctuate in the gale,
No busy steps the grass-grown foot-way tread,
For all the bloomy flush of life is fled.
All but yon widowed, solitary thing
That feebly bends beside the plashy spring;
She, wretched matron, forced, in age, for bread,
To strip the brook with mantling cresses spread,
To pick her wintry faggot from the thorn,
To seek her nightly shed, and weep till morn;
She only left of all the harmless train,
The sad historian of the pensive plain.
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smil'd,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change his place;
Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour;
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train,
He chid their wanderings, but reliev'd their pain;
The long-remembered beggar was his guest,
Whose beard descending swept his aged breast;
The ruin'd spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sate by his fire, and talked the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch, and showed how fields were won.
Pleas'd with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits, or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And even his failings leaned to Virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watched and wept, he prayed and felt, for all.
And, as a bird each fond endearment tries,
To tempt its new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allur'd to brighter worlds, and led the way.
Beside the bed where parting life was layed,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain, by turns dismayed,
The reverend champion stood. At his control,
Despair and anguish fled the struggling soul;
Comfort came down the trembling wretch to raise,
And his last faultering accents whispered praise.
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn'd the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remain'd to pray.
The service past, around the pious man,
With steady zeal each honest rustic ran;
Even children followed with endearing wile,
And plucked his gown, to share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heaven.
As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Tho' round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his little school;
A man severe he was, and stem to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laugh'd with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned;
Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault;
The village all declar'd how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write, and cypher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And even the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,
For e'en tho' vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around,
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumphed, is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where gray-beard mirth and smiling toil retired,
Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place;
The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;
The chest contrived a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chill'd the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for shew,
Rang'd o'er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Vain, transitory splendours! Could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!
Obscure it sinks, nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart;
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care;
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the wood-man's ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength, and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half willing to be prest,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest.
Yes! let the rich deride, the proud disdain,
These simple blessings of the lowly train;
To me more dear, congenial to my heart,
One native charm, than all the gloss of art;
Spontaneous joys, where Nature has its play,
The soul adopts, and owns their first-born sway,
Lightly they frolic o'er the vacant mind,
Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined.
But the long pomp, the midnight masquerade,
With all the freaks of wanton wealth arrayed,
In these, ere triflers half their wish obtain,
The toiling pleasure sickens into pain;
And, even while fashion's brightest arts decoy,
The heart distrusting asks, if this be joy.
Ye friends to truth, ye statesmen, who survey
The rich man's joys increase, the poor's decay,
'Tis yours to judge, how wide the limits stand
Between a splendid and a happy land.
Proud swells the tide with loads of freighted ore,
And shouting Folly hails them from her shore;
Hoards, e'en beyond the miser's wish abound,
And rich men flock from all the world around.
Yet count our gains. This wealth is but a name
That leaves our useful products still the same.
Not so the loss. The man of wealth and pride
Takes up a space that many poor supplied;
Space for his lake, his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Has robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth;
His seat, where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green;
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies.
While thus the land adorned for pleasure all
In barren splendour feebly waits the fall.
As some fair female unadorned and plain,
Secure to please while youth confirms her reign,
Slights every borrowed charm that dress supplies,
Nor shares with art the triumph of her eyes,
But when those charms are pass'd, for charms are frail,
When time advances, and when lovers fail,
She then shines forth solicitous to bless,
In all the glaring impotence of dress.
Thus fares the land, by luxury betrayed,
In nature's simplest charms at first arrayed;
But verging to decline, its splendours rise,
Its vistas strike, its palaces surprize;
While scourged by famine from the smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band;
And while he sinks without one arm to save,
The country blooms — a garden, and a grave.
Where then, ah where, shall poverty reside,
To scape the pressure of contiguous pride;
If to some common's fenceless limits strayed,
He drives his flock to pick the scanty blade,
Those fenceless fields the sons of wealth divide,
And e'en the bare-worn common is denied.
If to the city sped — What waits him there?
To see profusion that he must not share;
To see ten thousand baneful arts combined
To pamper luxury, and thin mankind;
To see those joys the sons of pleasure know,
Extorted from his fellow creature's woe.
Here, while the courtier glitters in brocade,
There the pale artist plies the sickly trade;
Here, while the proud their long-drawn pomps display,
There the black gibbet glooms beside the way.
The dome where Pleasure holds her midnight reign
Here, richly deck'd, admits the gorgeous train;
Tumultuous grandeur crowds the blazing square,
The rattling chariots clash, the torches glare.
Sure scenes like these no troubles ere annoy!
Sure these denote one universal joy!
Are these thy serious thoughts? — Ah, turn thine eyes
Where the poor houseless shivering female lies.
She once, perhaps, in village plenty blest,
Has wept at tales of innocence distrest;
Her modest looks the cottage might adorn,
Sweet as the primrose peeps beneath the thorn;
Now lost to all; her friends, her virtue fled,
Near her betrayer's door she lays her head,
And pinch'd with cold, and shrinking from the shower,
With heavy heart deplores that luckless hour,
When idly first, ambitious of the town,
She left her wheel and robes of country brown.
Do thine, sweet AUBURN, thine, the loveliest train,
Do thy fair tribes participate her pain?
Even now, perhaps, by cold and hunger led,
At proud men's doors they ask a little bread!
Ah, no. To distant climes, a dreary scene,
Where half the convex world intrudes between,
Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go,
Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe.
Far different there from all that charm'd before,
The various terrors of that horrid shore;
Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray,
And fiercely shed intolerable day;
Those matted woods where birds forget to sing,
But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling,
Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned,
Where the dark scorpion gathers death around;
Where at each step the stranger fears to wake
The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake;
Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey,
And savage men more murderous still than they;
While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies,
Mingling the ravaged landschape with the skies.
Far different these from every former scene,
The cooling brook, the grassy vested green,
The breezy covert of the warbling grove,
That only sheltered thefts of harmless love.
Good Heaven! what sorrows gloom'd that parting day,
That call'd them from their native walks away;
When the poor exiles, every pleasure past,
Hung round their bowers, and fondly looked their last,
And took a long farewell, and wished in vain
For seats like these beyond the western main;
And shuddering still to face the distant deep,
Returned and wept, and still returned to weep.
The good old sire, the first prepared to go
To new-found worlds, and wept for others woe;
But for himself, in conscious virtue brave,
He only wished for worlds beyond the grave.
His lovely daughter, lovelier in her tears,
The fond companion of his helpless years,
Silent went next, neglectful of her charms,
And left a lover's for her father's arms.
With louder plaints the mother spoke her woes,
And blest the cot where every pleasure rose;
And kist her thoughtless babes with many a tear,
And claspt them close in sorrow doubly dear;
Whilst her fond husband strove to lend relief
In all the decent manliness of grief.
O Luxury! thou curst by heaven's decree,
How ill exchanged are things like these for thee!
How do thy potions with insidious joy
Diffuse their pleasures only to destroy!
Kingdoms by thee, to sickly greatness grown,
Boast of a florid vigour not their own.
At every draught more large and large they grow,
A bloated mass of rank unwieldy woe;
Till sapped their strength, and every part unsound,
Down, down they sink, and spread a ruin round.
E'en now the devastation is begun,
And half the business of destruction done;
Even now, methinks, as pondering here I stand,
I see the rural virtues leave the land.
Down where yon anchoring vessel spreads the sail,
That idly waiting flaps with every gale,
Downward they move a melancholy band,
Pass from the shore, and darken all the strand.
Contented toil, and hospitable care,
And kind connubial tenderness, are there;
And piety with wishes placed above,
And steady loyalty, and faithful love.
And thou, sweet Poetry, thou loveliest maid,
Still first to fly where sensual joys invade;
Unfit in these degenerate times of shame,
To catch the heart, or strike for honest fame;
Dear charming nymph, neglected and decried,
My shame in crowds my solitary pride.
Thou source of all my bliss, and all my woe,
That found'st me poor at first, and keep'st me so;
Thou guide by which the nobler arts excell,
Thou nurse of every virtue, fare thee well.
Farewell, and O where'er thy voice be tried,
On Torno's cliffs, or Pambamarca's side,
Whether where equinoctial fervours glow,
Or winter wraps the polar world in snow
Still let thy voice prevailing over time,
Redress the rigours of the inclement clime;
Aid slighted truth, with thy persuasive strain
Teach erring man to spurn the rage of gain;
Teach him that states of native strength possest,
Tho' very poor, may still be very blest;
That trade's proud empire hastes to swift decay,
As ocean sweeps the labour'd mole away;
While self-dependent power can time defy,
As rocks resist the billows and the sky.