The Pleasures of Poverty.

The Pleasures of Poverty. By Solomon Southwick.

Solomon Southwick

A contribution to the poems of the pleasures series by an Albany, New York democrat. The Pleasures of Poverty, which is in two parts, is one of the more humble poems in the series, bearing some hallmarks of autodidact verse, not least in its lack of organization. In his rambling preface Solomon Southwick explains that since the work doubled in length in the process of composition he was compelled by his printer to either cut the poem or the notes; he chose the latter option, leaving orphaned marks in the text and references unexplained. While the poem opens with references to Campbell and Rogers (to whom Southwick in a note misattributes Robert Merry's Pains of Memory) its didactic manner derives more from Pope's Moral Epistles. The poet supplements the usual Christian arguments in favor of poverty with a distinctly American claim for Poverty as the spur to ambition and virtue (in his later years Southwick contributed to the self-help movement). His political sentiments are never in doubt. The poem was printed at Albany.

Preface: "The philosophy of the work, if there be any philosophy in it, is to shew that the stings of poverty are so many stimuli to excellence in the arts of life; and that pleasure, in the rational sense of the term, is more equally diffused among mankind, than querulous, self-conceited, and discontented spirits, under the influence of mortified vanity, wounded pride, and narrow conceptions, are willing to admit. In short, to offer to suffering humanity the feeble but unaffected sympathies and consolations of the writer; and, in the language of the bard of Twickenham, 'to vindicate the ways of God to man'" pp. v-vi.

The poem opens with an account of how the poet arrived at his subject: Memory, Love, and Hope, having been taken by Rogers, Ovid, and Campbell, he has selected Poverty: "If I can sing it as it should be sung, | 'Twill do — if not, why let it then be hung | With kindred rubbish on the garret floor, | 'Twill serve to stop a crack beneath a door" p. 12. While the disciples of luxury know no better, Southwick will praise "Source of all beautiful, and all sublime, | Of all that mocks the sweeping hand of Time, | And lights the path across the drear abode, | Between the verge of earth and throne of God!" p. 16. The defense of Poverty proceeds with an inset prayer in elegiac quatrains to wisdom of providence. Scriptural examples are given of God's particular love for the poor. Francis Bacon is a modern example of one who benefited from poverty as a spur to ambition; Cincinnatus acquired virtue walking behind a plow. The poet introduces a digression on the miser Avaro, who once brought shame to Southwick's native Rhode Island. The ambitious youth of America had best avoid such characters: "Is Poverty your lot, 'tis no disgrace, | Better be poor, than of a scoundrel race" p. 34. Laws should be made to prevent oppression, and "the son of Afric" should be set free.

The second part opens with a character of Edmund, a poor but pious man who enjoys the pleasures of innocence: "Is this not bliss, if bliss on earth there be, | From pride, parade, and selfish grandeur free, | To till the soil, made kind by genial showers, | To watch the budding fruits, the op'ning flowers" p. 45. The poor man also enjoys the benefits of imagination, the love of nature exhibited by Milton, Burns, and Shakespeare. The poor man can also enjoy music, and the pleasures of love (illustrated by an inset poem in octosyllabic couplets). Then there is Friendship: "Far from the walks and mansions of the great, | It seeks the silent vale, and humble state" p. 53. There is also Glory, illustrated by the American patriots who refused the bribe offered for the life of Major Andre during the Revolutionary War. Among virtuous patriots are catalogued Socrates, Cicero, Algernon Sidney, Thomas Paine, and the court-martialed American general, Charles Lee (1731-82). The poor also enjoy the benefits of Hope, and Religion: "Seize, child of Poverty, the precious boon, | With rapture seize, and make its joys your own" p. 59. The general argument is illustrated with Benjamin Franklin; without Poverty, "The world had known him not, Columbia's pride, | Without a deed, or name, had liv'd and died!" p. 65. The virtuous "Collins" whose praises conclude the poem is perhaps John Collins (1717-1795), governor of Rhode Island; the note is among those missing.

The pleasures and the pains that memory brings,
When o'er the past her pensive eye she flings,
And musing on the days that long have fled,
Recalls each image of the slumb'ring dead;
Sees Empires rise, and flourish, and decay,
Monarchs and minions flash and fade away;
Ideal beauty all its bliss impart,
And love and joy expand the human heart;
Pale Sorrow bathe it in her burning tears,
Black Melancholy fill it with her fears,
Through ev'ry age in thy delightful strain—
Rogers — shall charm alike the sage or swain.

Thy pleasures, mighty Love! who hath not sung!
Of thee have hills, and vales, and mountains rung,
From that eventful day in Eden's bower,
When man first yielded to thy matchless power;
The solitude of nature to beguile,
And damn'd his race to win a woman's smile!
The rosy vale of Sharon felt thy sway,
When Israel's monarch tun'd thy gentle lay;
With thee the Muses ever lov'd to dwell,
To thee in Greece they sounded oft the shell;
There gentle Sappho sung thy sweetest strains,
And died that Phaon heeded not her pains;
In Rome, where Ovid wak'd his burning lyre,
To breathe in deathless lays thy genial fire,
Thy trials and thy triumphs grac'd the stage
And swell'd the glories of th' Augustan age.
But purer far thy pleasures and thy pains,
Where unsophisticated nature reigns,
Where the bold hunter roams thro' glen or grove,
Thy welcome smile, thy warm caress to prove.
O'er these, soul-breathing Ossian! thou hast flung
The simple beauties of thy wild-wood song,
Thou Bard of sylvan streams, and mountain floods,
Of caverns dark, deep vales and gloomy woods!

To that sweet inmate of the human breast,
Whose whisp'rings lull its cares, its woes to rest,
Whose cheering smile can o'er the darkest day,
Shed beams of Peace, and point to Heav'n the way—
All-soothing Power! — has Campbell tun'd his lyre,
And breath'd upon the strings a Poet's fire;
Her pleasures painted with such magic hand,
What rival Bard will ever aim to stand
On the same height his bright-ey'd Muse hath trod,
With Hope, the friend of man, the child of God!

Since, then, the joys of Love I may not sing,
Or those that soothing Hope and Memory bring,
I'll chuse a theme, however rare it be,
A song to cheer the child of misery;
Along the gloomy path, the poor man's way,
To shed at least one solitary ray,
A lonely, flower to plant, where nought before,
But thorns and briers the rugged barren bore!
If I can sing it as it should be sung,
'Twill do — if not, why let it then be hung
With kindred rubbish on the garret floor,
'Twill serve to stop a crack beneath a door,
Or thro' a broken window keep the rain
From pouring in, the whiten'd wall to stain,
To light a pipe, or pack a pound of snuff,
Or form a pattern for lady's ruff,
If beauty's hand may thus but deign to use
The idle wand'rings of a lonely muse!

Come, then, sweet meditation to my aid,
Together let us seek some rural shade;
No cares that flow from wealth shall there intrude,
To break the holy charm of Solitude.
No ship at sea, the Pirate's lust of prey,
To tempt, or sink beneath the billowy way,
Disturbs my dreams, or rouses selfish fears,
When sleep hath fled, and morning light appears:
No lands, no houses, claim me for their Lord,
No bonds, no scrip, no pelf have I to hoard;
No runner from a Bank, excites my fear,
With short-liv'd grace, and protest in the rear;
Not the same grace that Calvin's bosom fir'd,
Or Protest, such as Luther's pen inspir'd—
Far diff'rent things — for Midas and his crew,
Have nought with graceful themes like these to do!
No beggar soils the knocker of my door,
The child of rags, by instinct shuns the poor;
No midnight robber troubles my repose,
For who can steal, where there is nought to lose!

Pale Poverty! thy Pleasures be my theme!
With thee in life's young morn I learn'd to dream
Of faded robes, disease and racking pain,
And all the blessings that attend thy train!
Blessings! methinks I hear some Croesus cry,
Who knows not how to live, nor dares to die!
Whose table spread with every, dainty dish,
Fruits of the rarest kind, and flesh and fish,
Of every clime, which Luxury explores,
From India's Isles to Nova Zembla's shores,
Cries out to kindred spirits, if you please,
Come taste the sweets of gluttony and grease!
Each empty fool, and sycophantic knave,
Each Parasite, well fitted for a slave;
Each Epicurean gossip, skill'd in tales,
Whose appetite nor story never fails,
Rejoices at the call, and crowds the board:
What homage to the Lady and the Lord
They pay; while these, to baser natures blind,
Think the false-hearted throng grateful and kind.
Nor dream that when their wealth and credit's fled,
And they no more the festive board can spread,
The selfish sycophants and pliant tools
Will fly to find some other wealthy fools,
Alike dispos'd their bounty to display,
And fall alike of vanity the prey!
Thus when some gallant horse or rider, slain
In battle falls upon the fatal plain,
Full on the corse the clam'rous vultures light,
And gorge with blood their rav'nous appetite.
Nor blood alone, but make the flesh their prey,
In mangled piece-meals tearing it away,
Till nought but a dire skeleton remains,
To bleach through winter snows and summer rains!

Now, round the festive board the gorging throng
Give scope to wine, and brandy, smut and song,
And smoke and puff; and proudly think the while,
No joys like these can Poverty beguile!
Ah! Sons of Pride, how little do ye know,
From Poverty what high-born pleasures flow!
In sensual, gormandising scenes ye live—
But what the flimsy joys that these can give,
Compar'd with such as Poverty reveals
To all who glory in her scanty meals,
Her melancholy days, her secret tears,
Her wayward crosses, and her many fears,
Her thread-bare robes, like Harlequin's so gay,
As many colour'd as the flow'rs of May!
From these, which fools may wonder that I sing,
From these what great, what heav'n-like virtues spring!
Source of all beautiful, and all sublime,
Of all that mocks the sweeping hand of Time,
And lights the path across the drear abode,
Between the verge of earth and throne of God!

But let my theme be fairly understood,
All Poverty is not the source of good.
That which to vice and meanness is allied,
Which dwells with dullness, vanity, and pride,
I sing not! But the bright, heroic mind,
Alive to Fame, to all that's vicious blind—
On virtue bent — that courts no vain applause,
By nature guided, and her steady laws:
The feeling heart, whose sacred springs o'erflow,
Touch'd by the tale that tells of human wo,
That scorns the brutal, and delights to find,
Hearts like itself that kindle for mankind,
That glow with charity's celestial flame,
And spend their pity, where they can't reclaim.
Spirits like these Adversity may wound,
But ne'er subdues, or chains them to the ground.
O! no, to them a messenger of light,
Of love, she comes, and fits them for the fight,
The glorious strife, that every ill defies,
And bears them off victorious to the skies,
The welcome voice to hear — O! great reward!
Well done thou good and faithful, join thy Lord:
Enter thou into my celestial bowers,
Where bliss eternal wings the rosy hours,
While fame through endless ages shall proclaim,
On earth, th' unfailing honours of thy name.
Spirits, like these, among mankind appear,
Like some lone flower upon a desert drear;
Yet such there are, the thought consoling prove
To him, who 'spite of Fortune, virtue loves.
Such have I known — e'en lately as I stray'd,
To court the silent eve, by woodland shade,
A murmur reach'd my ear — I paus'd — again
It came upon the breeze a pensive strain,
The voice of one it was, whose brighter days,
Ere he had known misfortune's troubled ways,
Were spent in deeds exalted and refin'd,
To harmonize, improve, and bless mankind:
But keenly had he felt the shafts of wo,
And found himself forgot by all below,
Save the fond dog his lonely steps that tends,
Alas! that dogs are still the truest friends!
Yet while to Heaven, he turn'd from dark despair,
He breath'd for frail humanity a prayer:
This was his theme, I caught it as it came,
Warm from the heart, like some celestial flame:

Great God! thy will be done, tho' I am poor,
Thy chast'ning rod I hail! 'tis meet for me;
With wealth endow'd, the crowds that throng'd my door,
Left me not time to know myself or thee!

Led me from ev'ry grateful thought away,
Quench'd in my soul devotion's hallow'd flame,
Fraught was each hour, and each returning day,
With pleasure, pride and pomp's delusive game!

By petty Tyrants, and by treach'ry doom'd,
To feel the worst of ills that man can bear,
I look to Heaven, by Justice, Truth illum'd,
And rest my everlasting glory there!

Tho' shafts of wo have pierc'd me thro' and thro'
Yet will, I scorn to yield to black despair;
But still the bolt of ruin calmly view,
What God inflicts, he bids me calmly bear!

Tho' friends forsake, and foes my steps pursue,
Shall foul ingratitude my bosom sting?
My soul shall hell-born malice e'er subdue,
Or o'er my path one shade of darkness fling!

Shall pale Misfortune, with her sister band,
Of Sorrow, Poverty, and Shame, betray,
Great God! my heart to murmur, or my hand,
To write one faithless word against thy sway!

Oh! no, be resignation still my theme,
Tho' Pride, tho' Power, unheeded pass me by,
Tho' wealth and honour vanish like a dream,
That flits across the brain, we know not why!

Father in Heaven! tho' fenc'd by ev'ry ill,
That man can feel, or feeling can deplore,
With smiles serene, I'll bend me to thy will,
Thy justice own — thy Providence adore!

Yes, gracious God! in thee alone I trust,
Be thou my mighty shield and buckler now;
Man may be false; but thou art ever just,
Eternal mercy shines around thy brow!

Receive my vows, my fainting frame sustain,
So shall my gratitude to thee belong;
No more I trust the world, base, faithless, vain,
But raise to thy pure throne the votive song!

Yet give me still with pity to behold
The faults, the frailties of our fallen race,
Their virtues write in characters of gold,
Their vices in the fleeting sand to trace!

Still be it mine to taste of nature's charms,
The softly beautiful, the sweet sublime,
The glow of friendship, gentle love's alarms,
And mild Philosophy that conquers time!

Each diff'ring creed with candour to survey,
Embrace the right — but leave the wrong to thee—
The mist of error, thou canst chase away,
Thy light alone must set the captive free!

Yes! on thy throne of everlasting light,
Elate, illum'd with hope, these eyes shall pour
Their dying beams, when death's cold hand shall blight
This earthly frame, and life's last dream is o'er!

Thus shall my, soul, on wings of rapture rise,
Scorn the vile earth, by ev'ry reptile trod,
Expand, exult, amid celestial skies,
And on thy bosom rest, Eternal God!

What! exclaims Pride, shall Poverty pretend
To find in God a father and a friend!
Shall he on whom no shower of gold is pour'd,
Dare to look up to heaven's Eternal Lord!
The beauties of creation to survey,
With rapture to behold the rising day,
The verdant wild wood, and the mountain bare,
The blooming field that scents the ambient air,
With sweets from Nature's sweetest stores distill'd,
Till all the breathing world with joy is fill'd!
The still smooth lake, the flowing river's pride,
The gurgling stream, the cataract's roaring tide,
The blue expanse of sky, the boundless main,
The storms of winter, and sweet summer's reign,
The moon's mild beams that gild the rip'ling wave,
And stars that seem like worlds beyond the grave!
The awful cloud on which Jehovah rides,
When He the thunder hurls and lightning guides;
The bright, all beautiful, consoling hues,
The heavenly arch, the bow of promise, shews,
When thro' the storm its circling glories shine;
From God to man an everlasting sign!

Yes! child of Pride, of Ignorance and Pelf,
Conceited as thou art, wrapt in thyself;
Know that to souls like thine, if it be given
To reap the fruits of earth; the smiles of heaven
To those belong who tread the thorny way
Of care, and want, and wo, from day to day,
Who rise to speed a pilgrimage of fears,
And drench each night their pillows in their tears!

Whom the Lord loves, he chastens by his power,
Bear witness, all ye seers and saints of yore:
Lo! Hagar, in the solitary gloom
Of Beersheba bewails her wretched doom,
See the fair out-cast, bending o'er her child,
Her once lov'd features wo-begone, and wild!
Fruit of my faithful love! must I resign
Thy life! what mother's pangs can equal mine!
O! let me not behold its death, she cries,
And fearful, rais'd to Heaven her weeping eyes;
The Angel of the Lord look'd down and smil'd,
And sav'd the drooping mother and her child!
So when the sons of Jacob, lur'd by pride,
Well nigh had stain'd their souls with fratricide,
See Joseph, to Egyptian bondage sold,
Come out at last like pure and polish'd gold!
Lo! Dives with his wealth to hell descend
Lo! Lazarus in the Saviour find a friend!
Not rich and poor did God his creatures frame
But male and female from his hand they came;
To man the noblest gift of mind he gave,
A form divinely stampt, a soul to save,
A spirit of immortal powers possess'd,
Tho' doom'd to animate a mortal breast;
Take courage then, ye Poor, this truth to scan,
Mind is with God the standard of the man;
Vice, Pride, and Folly flourish for a while,
Wisdom survives in Heaven's eternal smile!

Yet not on seers and saints of old alone,
Have Heaven's reflected rays of glory shone,
Thro' all the wild vicissitudes of Time,
Of moral darkness, and of light sublime!
Of Kepler's sainted spirit ask the cause,
That led him to unravel Nature's laws?
The sage will tell you, from his seat on high,
That genius fill'd his soul, and fir'd his eye,
That Science taught him Nature to explore,
While pale ey'd Poverty beset his door!

See Bacon rise, by merit all his own,
Till nought eclips'd him, but his Sov'reign's throne,
The cloud of Poverty his youth o'ercast,
And keenly did he feel her bitter blast—
Rous'd at her call, with energy divine,
At length behold him on the wool-sack shine!
In every eye he stood the purest gem,
That shone around the Monarch's diadem:
Admir'd and reverenc'd by the truly great,
The little envious dar'd not shew their hate,
See those throng round him, these his presence shun,
The Eagle only soars to meet the sun!
Again, behold him from that height of power,
Fall like a meteor, to rise no more!
The greatest, best, and brightest of mankind,
Made the bare butt of each malignant hind!
Coke's brutal rage, and faction's fiercest hate,
Combin'd to trample on his fallen state,
While the shrewd monarch, urg'd by courtly fears,
Dreading to hear his sighs, or heed his tears,
Stood trembling, half resolv'd t' arrest his fate,
And save the sage, who oft had sav'd the state!
Behold him, like Napoleon, forlorn,
Of wealth, of honours, and of glory shorn,
Bearded by every Ass, by every slave
Insulted! driven to invoke the grave,
A refuge from the frowns of upstart power,
Dispens'd by tools, the insects of an hour!
Such is the faith of Princes, so we're told,
And warn'd to trust them not, by seers of old!

Bacon, great Father of the Modern Schools,
Tho' once the taunt of knaves and jest of fools!
Well didst thou trust the honours of thy name,
To foreign nations, and to future fame!
No rival now, like Coke, by envy stung,
With mean, malicious heart and sland'rous tongue,
No villain, who solicited in vain,
By gifts, a foul, unhallowed cause to gain,
No treach'rous knave, who play'd a friendly part,
While dark revenge was rankling in his heart,
Can soil th' unrivall'd splendour of thy name,
Or steal one tittle of thy sainted fame!

Thy pangs, then, Poverty, let fools proclaim,
Strangers to all of glory but the name!
Cowards, who shrink from Heaven's all-wise decree,
And vainly murmur that they are not free
From penury and pain, and ev'ry wo,
That every grade of life is doom'd to know,
From him who sways an empire by his nod,
Down to the beetle in the dust that's trod!

Who nourish'd Cincinnatus to be great,
Who taught the sage to save a sinking state,
Did wealth, did luxury the boon impart,
That fir'd his mind, and nerv'd his dauntless heart!
No! 'twas the labour of the plough that gave
Strength to his arm, and that which made him brave,
The morning toil, the frugal meal at noon,
Grac'd by no silver cup, nor golden spoon,
No gilded plate, no gaudy shew was seen,
But gourd-shell bowls, and wooden dishes clean,
Serv'd the great Chief; whose valiant arm sustain'd
His country's rights and her just laws maintain'd,
Whose eloquence the birth-proud Senate led,
Before whose sword the fierce barbarian fled!

Behold yon stately mansion, proud and high,
It rears its walls, as if to mock the sky,
Before it widely spreads a verdant lawn,
And various shrubs and trees its walks adorn,
Flowers of all hues send forth their fragrance there,
And fill with balmy sweets th' ambient air.
Now, if you ask, for whom is all this show,
To please whose senses all these flow'rets grow,
Whose pride to gratify these stately trees
Wave their high branches to the passing breeze:
Be patient, I'll the honest truth declare,
The while to hear it need not make you stare.
I hope you've learn'd enough at least to know,
That selfishness delights in empty show.
There dwells a Demagogue, of human kind
The foe — to all but low ambition blind;
Once he was humble, and amid the crowd
Could social seem, and no one tho't him proud—
Power was his aim — humility — he said,
Will serve ambition best, and that's my trade!
I'll court the populace with winning smiles,
Till I can catch the rascals in my toils;
And if among the crowd I chance to find,
Some one by nature gen'rous, just, and kind,
Some son of genius, him I'll make my friend,
And use his talents till I gain my end:
That, once obtain'd, remorseless from my door
I'll turn him off, nor wish to see him more.
Bid him begone, the simple honest fool,
Too candid friend, too independent tool:
'Tis thus we demagogues our debts repay,
Thus wipe old scores of gratitude away.
For every honest friend we turn adrift,
Some supple knave stands ready at a shift,
Our nod, our will to do, in what we please,
In dirty work to wade up to the knees,
Or deeper still, if we but say the word,
And make the caitiff sure of his reward!
The lab'ring hand is worthy of its hire,
And wretches that will labour in the mire
Of Faction foul, their country to betray,
Are ever sure of work and ready pay!
Say, son of honest Poverty confess'd,
Pale is thy cheek, and meanly art thou drest;
Yet on thy brow sits Pride that never bends
To sanctify a villain's treacherous ends!
Say, would'st thou not, all ragged as thou art,
And pale with want, disdain so vile a part,
In life's brief drama, as the Ingrate plays,
Who while he bribes his foe, his friend betrays!
By Heaven tho' pomp and power his steps attend,
And sycophants feel proud to call him friend;
Tho' fools do constant homage at his shrine,
And vainly dream their idol half divine,
Tho' knaves as false as hell around him throng,
And flatt'ry soothe him with her syren song,
Still humble, honest Poverty disdains
The wretch to flatter, or to wear his chains.

Avaro, say some sixty years ago,
Was born, tho' where it heeds us not to know;
But if yon brilliant, far fam'd spot of earth,
The soil of heroes, gave the creature birth,
We blush, and well we may, to think her fame
Should e'er be tarnish'd by so foul a name!
Among her worthies, Green and Perry shine,
And Williams, and a long illustrious line
Of patriots, heroes, chiefs, whose names reveal,
All that can glorify the common weal!
Pity, indeed, that genial spot of earth,
So fair, so fam'd, should give a miser birth;
Yet so it is — to him of whom I speak,
Each Christian virtue sounds like Heathen Greek,
He knows no glory, but the lust of gain,
No merit meets that does not give him pain:
In private, o'er his bags of paltry pelf
He sighs, they are so small — so like himself!
And yet without a sigh, he grinds the poor,
And turns the wretched beggar from his door!
That beggar who, like Lazarus, may rise,
To scenes of glory, 'mid celestial skies,
While the same fate, that Dives erst befell,
May be Avaro's in the shades of hell!

Ye sons of Penury no more repine,
If with Avaro, in each dirty mine,
Too proud to dig, you loathe each grov'ling art,
And scorn to act the mean oppressor's part!
If honest Fame, alone, ye still pursues
And still despise the mercenary crew;
Why, then, rejoice that unto you is given,
The perils of the earth — the prize of Heaven!

Lo! to the wave of Ganges, pale and wild,
The hopeless mother brings her famish'd child;
Shrivell'd by want, the liquid fount is dry,
That should the tender infant's food supply!
Her spirit fails, she sits her down to weep,
In silent anguish views the child — the deep—
Alas! no friend appears, no arm to save,
She yields her infant to the yawning wave!
Such are thy triumphs o'er distracted minds,
Despair! more deaf than rocks or roaring winds!
Turn we to Europe, where the Black Sea laves
The Cresent soil, or where th' Atlantic waves
Roll on the shores of Holy Christian Kings,
And still the view no purer pleasure brings!
Here the poor peasant delves and toils in vain;
There the lorn captive hugs his galling chain:
Here Kings and Priests to crush mankind combine,
There the proud Turk pursues the same design,
Bathes in the blood of innocence his sword,
And calmly quotes the lying Prophet's word!
O! Greece, where has thine ancient glory fled,
Sleeps it forever with the mighty dead!
Mute in Demosthenes's narrow grave,
Thy eloquence that once could warm the brave!
Shall Scio's desolated walls proclaim,
That Spartan valour's but an empty name!
Shade of Leonidas! arise once more,
And drive th' fierce barbarian from thy shore!
Columbian youth! your grateful voices raise,
With all the heart to shout Jehovah's praise!
To you fair Science opens all her stores,
Her Temples hail you welcome to their doors!
Here the poor 'prentice boy may freely learn
Science from Bacon, wit from Swift or Sterne;
From Paley, how to act the moral part;
From Blair, the piety that warms the heart;
With Euclid trace each mathematic line,
With Newton soar where stars and planets shine!
Thrice happy youth! who for the rising age,
Shall penury repress your noble rage?
Perish the thought! aspire to glorious deeds,
Seek no dark covert, when your country bleeds;
Love wealth, but only as it aids to fame,
Be no mean art, no sordid vice your aim.
Is Poverty your lot, 'tis no disgrace,
Better be poor, than of a scoundrel race.
Let no vile demagogue your minds control,
Indignant spurn the servitude of soul;
Fetters and chains may curb the limbs in vain,
If free the current of the soul remain:
Honour yourselves, virtue and worth befriend,
With means and motives pure, fear not the end;
Tho' friends betray, and open foes prevail,
Tho' factious wrath, and tyrant power assail;
Still Truth maintain, nor heed the giddy throng,
By passion led, too often in the wrong;
Disdain their clamour, every ill defy,
For Truth to live, for Truth, if call'd, to die!
One theme, one nighty theme, demands your zeal,
Freedom, humanity, the common weal,
All cry aloud, O listen to their voice,
And bid the captive's sinking heart rejoice!
Wipe from your statutes, ere another age
Shall pass, the barbarous, the feudal page,
That sanctions foul oppression of the poor,
And brings the honest debtor to the door,
Where crime alone should enter — there to feel
What 'tis with mercenary men to deal;
Men void of feeling, save their paltry hate,
Men who forget their former mean estate;
And puff'd with pride, with low revenge at heart,
Like Upstarts, play the petty tyrant's part;
Oppress their victim with a heavy hand,
With Shylock, still the pound of flesh demand!
How keen the pangs that rend the gen'rous soul,
Thro' barb'rous law that feels the base control
Of some rude, vulgar mind, no bliss that knows,
But such as from the love of lucre flows!
Who hears, but heeds not, the lorn captive's sigh,
Beholds unmov'd the tear that dims his eye!
Who severs ties, to love, to nature dear,
Vile slave of mammon, and of sordid fear!
O! would you, then, improve the rising age,
Blot from your laws, this foul, polluted page!
'Tis time 'twere done, already far too long
Has mean oppression triumph'd in its wrong!
Nor be alone to your peculiar kind,
Your zeal for Nature's lib'ral laws confin'd;
But bid the son of Afric break his chain,
And freely tread his native soil again;
Make each blind tyrant know, 'tis God's decree,
That Man, His image, is and shall be free!

Edmond was once his country's fav'rite child,
Of her alone he thought; for her he toil'd;
Each step of power successively attain'd,
And each successive step proudly maintain'd!
But count the cost; ambition rarely stays
To count how great the loss, the price she pays;
Lur'd by the distant height, that gilded seems,
With glittering wealth, and honour's brighter beams!
Ye Poor, behold, but envy not their state;
Ye little know what ills betide the great.
He who ray'd in splendid pomp appears,
Instead of envy, rather claims your tears!
Her bosom bears, sheds o'er the rural scene,
A magic influence, and a sweet serene,
Across the vale, what verdant beauties spread,
Till Catskill lifts aloft its awful head,
Its rocky wild, that storms and time defies,
Its everlasting towers that kiss the skies!
These o'er the landscape fling their bolder charms
Sublime effect, that Edmond's bosom warms;
With pure devotion's flame inspires his breast,
And calmly points to Heaven's Eternal rest!
His arbour, blest with lovely woman's smile
He ne'er repines that he is doom'd to toil,
The smile that cheers the labour of the field,
Can still a purer bliss, a pleasure yield,
Unknown to courts; when turning to his muse,
Her trembling strings no wonted sound refuse,
Or when with mild Philosophy he holds
Converse that ever charms exalted souls:
Or still more blest, behold th'e happy pair,
Each Sabbath at the village church appear,
And with them to the holy altar bring
Their blooming flock, the praise of God to sing.
With pious awe they catch the pleasing sound,
As from the good man's lips it flows around,
And tells of blessings for the just to come,
Of everlasting joy beyond the tomb!
Is this not bliss, if bliss on earth there be,
From pride, parade, and selfish grandeur free,
To till the soil, made kind by genial showers,
To watch the budding fruits, the op'ning flowers,
To ramble freely thro' the blooming fields,
And count the joys the bounteous harvest yields,
To taste the sweets that scent each passing breeze,
With no foul wish, no cold intrigue, to freeze
The current of the soul, as warm it flows,
And now with love, and now with friendship glows!
Like Abram, leaning on his staff, to raise
To Heaven the song of gratitude and. praise,
Or erst as Adam did, in Eden's bower,
Hold high communion with Eternal Power!

Where'er we ramble thro' her blissful fields,
We find no joy, no boon that nature yields,
That is not free to all who own her name,
Who from her stores parental bounty claim.
Love, friendship, filial faith, blest marriage ties,
Every sweet flower, that blooms beneath the skies!
Clasps not the poor man to his feeling breast,
The child he loves with full a warm a zest,
As he, who flush'd with pride, with wealth o'ergrown,
Vainly believes no offspring like his own!
Spirit of Selfishness, whence comest thou,
Fiend of the marble heart, and wrinkled brow!
To scowl at every blessing but thine own,
As though Heaven's gifts descend for thee alone,
Go, cease thy grovelling, malignant pain,
Or get thee to thy native hell again!

Imagination! what bright worlds are thine!
Skies ever smiling — Suns that ever shine—
Where are thy bounds! Before thee oceans roll,
Thy range from Heaven to Earth, from pole to pole.
Unfading Pleasure, thy wide Empire yields,
Eternal is the verdure of thy fields,
Thy fruits forever grow, and flow'rets bloom,
And undecaying is their sweet perfume.
The deeps their treasures keep not from thy view,
Thine are Earth's hidden mines of golden hue;
Thy visions into hell's dark shades extend,
Heaven's sweetest hues in thy bright halo blend!
Thy fairy realms — are they forbidden ground
To him who's doom'd to tread the toilsome round
Of Poverty! Is Pride, is Wealth alone,
Licens'd to bend and worship at thy throne!
O! no, let Milton, Burns, and Shakspeare tell
How freely they have roam'd thro' ev'ry dell,
Paus'd at each blooming grove and flow'ry mead,
Each winding stream and glassy lake survey'd,
Of thy bright region ev'ry height explor'd,
At all thy altars worshipp'd and ador'd!

If melody delight the human mind,
Say, is the poor man to its beauty blind?
To him the song, the cymbal, is as free,
As to the child of proud prosperity.
Thrills not his bosom to the sounds he loves,
The organ's swell — the music of the groves—
The rain that patters on his humble wall,
The murmur of the winds, the surge's fall,
The flute's soft tones, the pipe's sweet minstrelsy,
Th' inspiring fife, the drum's loud reveille,
Or the hoarse trumpet's war resounding notes,
When on the gale the bloody banner floats!
Oh! is there not a sweet, but mournful tone,
Aeolian harp, that's breath'd by thee alone?
Softly sublime, as tho' a seraph sung,
When on the silent eve thy voice is flung,
The requiem of departed bliss it seems;
And yet like Fancy's sweetest, wildest dreams
Of love, and hope, and: melancholy joy,
It steals upon the soul! O! blest employ
Of broken hearts, to listen to its lay,
'Twill heal your wounds, 'twill chase your griefs away!

The joys of Love, are they not doubly thine,
Ye poor! whose health, whose spirits ne'er decline
Thro' luxury or vice, who never know
The nervous ills from indolence that flow.
Toil is your doom; but from that very, toil,
Thro' your full veins behold the pure blood boil;
Your tender feelings know no base control,
Yours is the love that springs from soul to soul,
No marriage contract, seal'd by sordid pride,
Per to your altars leads th' unwilling bride!
Yours is the generous, uncorrupted sigh,
The vow sincere, the rapture speaking eye,
The heart in love, that knows no selfish guile,
The ruddy face, that wears no treach'rous smile,
Free as the air, your fond affections flow,
Dance in the veins, and in the warm cheek glow!
Yes! child of Poverty, be thine the strain,
To sing of Love's resistless, pleasing pain,
With nerves well strung, with spirits light and gay,
Briskly ye carol oft' the votive lay

O! LOVE, thou smiling cherub bright,
My theme by day, my dream by night:
Welcome to me thy rosy chains,
Thrice welcome all thy tender pains:
As springs to thirsty travellers dear,
So is to me thy pensive tear;
As summer showers to fields when dry,
So is to me thy gentle sigh:
As rays of light, in dungeons deep,
Are hail'd by wretches there that weep,
So are thy smiles to him who knows
How sweet thy pleasures and thy woes!

Be thou my solace whilst I live,
Give all the pleasure thou canst give;
And when the fatal hour shall come
That calls me to the silent tomb;
When at my side sits dark despair,
And frightful ghosts seem hovering near,
Be there my parting soul to soothe,
Be there to make my deathbed smooth,
Be there to prove that thou art true,
Be there to breathe a sweet adieu!
And ere my frame in dust be laid,
Think not thy last fond duty, paid
Till thou hast sought some gentle steep,
Where vines of grape, and strawberry creep,
Whose verdant side, for ever gay,
Kiss'd by, the parting beams of day,
In nature's bloom shall smile serene,
Whilst nature owns a smiling scene!
There gently lay my bones to rest,
And raise the green-sward o'er my breast:
There deck my grave with sweetest flowers
From garden gay and wild wood bow'rs!
Let there no deadly night-shade grow,
No weeping willow, bending low,
No sign of wail or wo be seen,
To break upon the sweet serene;
But there the early birds of spring
Alight their am'rous lays to sing,
At dawn of day, at twilight hour,
Still may the warbling songsters pour
Around that fane, to love so dear,
Such strains as love delights to hear,
And when the flowers of summer die,
Let evergreens their place supply,
That still thro' every changing scene
Of winter grey, or summer green,
That tranquil, hallow'd spot, may prove
The smiling monument of Love!

Friendship — among the great an empty name,
What courtier ever felt thy steady flame?
What heart to wild ambition wed, can feel
The calm delight, or share the gen'rous zeal,
Thy vot'ries know, when to thy hallow'd shrine
They come, each sordid motive to resign;
To mingle soul with soul, and freely blend
Each ray of feeling in the name of Friend.
If e'er thy gen'rous, gentle reign be found
Among the sons of men on earthly ground,
Far from the walks and mansions of the great,
It seeks the silent vale, and humble state,
Lightens the soldier's march, the sailor's toil,
Wakes on the honest ploughman's face a smile,
Cheers the mechanic as, he plies his trade,
Warms the fond bosom of the lowly maid,
'Circles the fire-side of the lab'ring poor,
Hovers around the peaceful cottage door!
O! heaven descended spirit, never leave
The gen'rous mind in solitude to grieve!
Diffuse thy healing balm to all who know,
But merit not to feel, the shafts of wo,
Bid the lorn heart resign its gloomy fear,
Wipe from the pallid cheek the trembling tear!
The fallen, broken spirit, raise, revive,
Bid it again to smile, rejoice and live!

Lo! swells the trump of Freedom on the plain,
The hills re-echo back the glorious strain,
Her votaries, exulting, catch the sound,
The cause! the cause! they cry, to arms they bound!
When once 'tis fix'd, to die, or live a slave,
Death has no sting, no terror for the brave!
Who then the strongest feels the gen'rous flame,
Who presses foremost to the field of fame!
Whose is the keenest pleasure when the song
Of triumph to her banners pours along
The distant vale? Let Andre's captors tell
How quickly did their peasant bosoms swell
With lofty scorn! O! with what high disdain,
When tempted to a treach'rous deed in vain,
They spurn'd the bribe the captive would have giv'n,
Their country sav'd, and won the smile of heav'n!
Nor yet shall Andre's fate alone proclaim,
How dear to Poverty is Freedom's name—
How "a brave yeomanry, their country's pride,"
Fought by her banners, by her banners died!
Humble their names, their property but small,
Yet glorious was the risk, it was their all!
Long shall the hillocks of their lowly graves,
Rise, the reproach of tyrants and of slaves!
O! for a muse of energy and fire,
An angel's voice to breathe upon the lyre,
To sing th' immortal names that swell the train
Of those, who doom'd to penury and pain.
Still bravely strove to aid the common weal,
And died their love of liberty to seal!
Lo! Socrates the deadly drug defy,
And Cicero in exile doom'd to die!
See Sidney's patriot blood the scaffold stain,
And mark the melancholy fate of Paine!
Paine! at thy name what splendid visions rise!
Once we could hail, and laud it to the skies,
Chain'd to a tyrant's car, we strove in vain,
Till thy electric touch dissolv'd the chain!
O! hadst thou then the debt of nature paid,
What incense still would rise to greet thy shade!
No bigot's wrath would light upon thy tomb,
But freedom's laurel there for ever bloom!
Soil'd by no slander, venomous and rude,
Free from the blight of foul ingratitude!
Ungrateful still, if Princes ever prove,
Who can secure a fickle people's love!
Of those in SEVENTY-SIX who led the van,
And bravely struggled for the rights of man,
Not Paine alone was doom'd to feel the dart
Of curst ingratitude transfix the heart!
Brave, but eccentric Lee, ill-fated name!
Tho' dear to virtue, liberty and fame;
Sincere as brave, not form'd to act a part,
Of open, gen'rous, unsuspecting. heart;
When danger press'd, not ling'ring in the rear,
Stain'd by no treach'rous guilt, no coward fear,
For one mistake alone, and that were all,
At worst, O! fickle fortune! doom'd to fall!
To feel the weight of persecution's blow,
And sink alas! beneath a cloud of wo!
By friends forsaken, and by foes pursu'd,
That mighty heart, at last by grief subdu'd:
"O! that I were a dog!" the hero cried,
"That might not man my brother call!" and died!
Died in a hovel, he that once had shone
The pride of courts, to love and glory known,
Ere to Columbia's shores he bent his way,
To fight for Freedom, and to fall the prey
Of vile ingratitude, the foulest crime,
So stampt in ev'ry age and ev'ry clime!
If it be true that God beholds with pride,
A great man bravely struggling with the tide
Of adverse fortune, on a stormy sea,
The joys of Heaven are thine, immortal Lee!

When Adam from the blooming bow'r was driv'n
With her for whom he lost the joys of heaven;
When all was gloom, HOPE lent her cheering ray
To light the rebel wand'rers on their way:
And thro' life's path, Affliction still hath found
In Hope a soothing balm for ev'ry wound.
On you, ye Poor, her peaceful rays descend,
In her you ever find a constant friend.
The rich are e'er pursu'd by haggard Fear,
While Hope attends your darkest day to cheer:
They dream of Ruin, and her sable train,
And know no pleasure unalloy'd by pain:
While you to visions of delight resign
The solitude of night: O! bliss divine!
When dreams of glory hover round the bed,
Where, the lorn child of Sorrow rests his head!
Yes! child of Penury, Hope is thine own,
Bright as she came from Heaven's eternal throne,
To light her fires in the desponding breast,
And guide the weary to the realms of rest!

One stream of light, of everlasting joy,
Pleasure unmingled, bliss without alloy,
Descends upon the poor man's path to shine,
Yes! unto him alone, by right divine,
The legacy belongs: To him 'tis giv'n,
Religion, brightest, eldest born of heaven!
Thus runs the high bequest — rejoice to whom
It comes, your dark sojourning o illume—
Bless'd be ye poor, no longer weep nor sigh,
Yours is the kingdom, founded, built on high,
Whose mansions know not care, nor want, nor wo,
Whose rivers of delight for ever flow;
Whose broad, eternal turrets rise and shine,
Around the throne of Him who is Divine!
Seize, child of Poverty, the precious boon,
With rapture seize, and make its joys your own:
And while with Faith you clasp it to your breast,
Pity the rich, for whom no heavenly rest,
But wo, and wo alone, the lines proclaim,
As flowing from the Saviour's lips they came:
Wo unto you that now your revels keep,
The time shall come, when ye shall mourn and weep!
Hope of immortal life! of source divine,
The joy from thee that springs who would resign!
O! who could bear from kindred souls to part,
If that dread word — ETERNAL! — on the dart
Of death emblazon'd — spoke the Almighty will,
The spirit with its earthly frame to kill!
For ever! O! for ever! to resign
The lover and the friend to death's dark mine!
What Stoic could sustain the shock and live,
What heart so cold, that could the blow survive!
Belov'd Orlando! once my earthly joy!
LOST! but not LOST FOR EVER! brilliant boy!
Can I the fond, delightful hope resign,
That thy blest spirit yet may meet with mine.
O, no! that hope destroy'd, a pang would give,
'Twere worse to feel, than with the damn'd to live!

And thou sweet Solitude, of aspect mild,
Dear are thy tranquil shades to Sorrow's child,
The soothing balm thy silent bowers bestow
On all who're doom'd to taste the cup of wo!
Who can deny to Penury's sad train,
Or drive them to the sneering world again,
When pale and lonely, to enjoy the sweets
Of pensive thought, they seek thy calm retreats!
Devotion's friend! Devotion's sister thou!
Without thee she is but an empty show;
But when she comes within thy hallow'd shade,
Then are her vows with holy rapture paid;
Lur'd by no revel, no profane employ,
God is her only source of peace and joy!
Thus shall she ever in thy footsteps tread;
Give us, we pray, this day, our daily bread:
Go ye, said Christ, and breathe this prayer alone,
Sure proof — Devotion — Solitude — are one!

If, then, the sympathies, the loves that flow
From Nature, in the poor man's bosom glow,
Warmer than those that wealth's proud puppet feels,
Whose heart the love of filthy lucre steels:
Why mourn the loss of artificial joys,
Pride's empty bubbles, Folly's tinselled toys,
Why sigh to leave the quiet, humble shade,
Where no rude jars of avarice invade:
But calmly blissful passes off the day;
Night brings no care to steal its sleep away;
No thorn to pierce its pillow of repose,
No dream of present or of dreaded woes!
Say, what true advocate of Nature's dower—
Sweet Liberty! — what foe of lawless power—
What friend of human rights, of human ties,
What candidate for bliss beyond the skies—
A lot so mild, so happy, would exchange,
Amid the selfish, jarring world to range;
But for the glorious triumph that attends
His name who fearlessly his race befriends,
Who plays his part, not for himself alone,
Not like the worthless demagogue or drone:
But soaring far above all meaner aims,
By the great good he does, his glory claims!

Companion of the toil-worn son of want,
Can tyrant power thy gallant spirit daunt!
Conscious of worth, tho' Pride may pass thee by,
It cannot quench the fire that lights thine eye;
It cannot make thee bend thy manly brow,
Nor chill the crimson current in its flow
Thro' the brave heart that warms thy gen'rous breast,
That heart alive to woes that know no rest;
Yet scorning still to sink beneath the weight
Of man's ingratitude, or woman's hate,
Sees some bright star beam o'er the land or wave,
That leads it on to glory or the grave.

Lo! from thy humble floor see Franklin rise,
And bend his way exulting to the skies!
By Heaven design'd thy triumphs to make known
To distant shores, to shake a mighty throne!
The fearless boy, without a friend to guide
His wand'ring way, forsook a mother's side,
O'er the wide world to seek for glorious fame,
Or sink into the grave without a name.
Who then his guide, his guardian angel prov'd,
Who sav'd from ev'ry snare the boy she lov'd;
'Twas Poverty that urg'd, and led the way,
His pillar o' fire by night, and cloud by day!
But ah! had wealth around his cradle spread
Her glitt'ring charms — full o'er his infant head
Her laurels thrown — her poppy wreaths entwin'd—
Laurels and wreaths, that blast the fire of mind!
Had luxury led him in her favour'd bowers,
As youth advanc'd, to sacrifice his hours
To wanton sports — had pale Want never known,
Or claim'd the child of Genius for her own;
Oh! where had been the glory of his name,
Where the immortal pillars of his Fame!
What trembling tyrant e'er had felt his frown;
What thought of his had brought the lightning down,
From Heaven's eternal sphere, o guide its course,
Disarm it fury, and resist its force!
The world had known him not, Columbia's pride,
Without a deed, or name, had liv'd and died!
But not with Franklin, shall thy triumphs end,
O! Poverty! celestial guide and friend
Of worth, of genius! still some mighty name,
From age to age, thy glory shall proclaim!
Some sage, like Milton, seize it for his own,
Till the bright record reach th' eternal throne!
And seraphs their harmonious voices raise
To chaunt thy fame in everlasting lays!

Yet must impartial truth forbid the muse,
The well-earn'd meed of justice to refuse;
To slander wealth, or libel honest fame,
She scorns — more just, more gen'rous is her aim.
There are, there have been, 'mid wealth's glitt'ring train,
Pure hearts, to feel for penury and pain,
To yield sweet solace to the child of wo,
Minist'ring messengers of Heaven below!
One splendid name now rises to my lay,
O! could my feeble muse that name pourtray,
Fair as it beam'd on earth, bright as it shone,
Ere Heaven reclaim'd, and made the gift its own!
Collins! can I forget thy sainted shade,
No! let the debt of gratitude be paid!
Pride of my native Isle, she knew thee well,
How many of her sons thy worth can tell!
Patron of genius! thine the orphan's prayer;
The poor than's gen'rous wish; the widow's tear
Of gratitude; bright gem of pearly hue,
Heaven's witness what to earth's best friend is due!
Thou, like Macenas, cull'd each modest flower?
From the cold shade, to deck the genial bower:
Bade them in warm, unclouded skies to bloom,
And breathe upon the world, their sweet perfume.
My Father! once a poor, unletter'd boy,
A lonely orphan, 'reft of ev'ry joy,
Ow'd to thy goodness all that grac'd his name,
Fair science, public worth, and honest fame.
To Poverty, shall I then strike the lyre,
Forgetful of my lov'd, lamented sire;
Or thee, one fond, one grateful strain refuse,
No! perish first the minstrel and the muse!
Yon lovely isle still mourns the fatal day,
When, weeping, she beheld thee borne away,
To join the dead, in earth's cold bosom laid,
While Heaven's bright portals hail'd thy fleeting shade!
Well may she mourn, where'er she turns her eyes,
She sees some graceful monument arise,
Rear'd by thy bounty, to adorn her name,
Improve her virtues, and exalt her fame!
Be thou, O! lovely isle, for ever true,
To him, who more than faithful prov'd to you!
Each fond, each bright memorial of his fame,
Preserve with pious care: Let not his name
Be lost, amid the wreck that time shall bring
But ever with th' fairest flowers of spring
Deck the green sod, that o'er his bosom blooms;
And when the passing stranger seeks your tombs—
Point to the consecrated spot where lies—
Collins — the just, the gen'rous, and the wise.

Cease now my strain, my solitary song,
Henceforth far diff'rent toils to me belong;
Yet be it not despis'd — The POOR MAN'S LAY—
If to one heart the moral find its way:
If but one child of Poverty my page
Urge to a deed that shall adorn the age:
If some bright youth, of high and gen'rous aim,
Shall inspiration catch from Franklin's name,
And bravely struggling with each adverse tide,
Shine forth his country's patron, and her pride;
Contented let me die! tho' o'er my lowly tomb
No prouder trophy wave, no brighter laurel bloom!

[pp. 9-68]