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For me your tributary stores combine;
As some lone miser, visiting his store, Bends at his treasure, counts, recounts it o'er : Hoards after hoards his rising raptures fill, Yet still he sighs, for hoards are wanting still : Thus to my breast alternate passions rise, Pleas'd with each good that heaven to man supplies : Yet oft a sigh prevails, and sorrows fall, To see the hoard of human bliss so small; And oft I wish, amidst the scene, to find Some spot to real happiness consign'd, Where my worn soul, each wandering hope at rest, May gather bliss to see my fellows blest.
But where to find that happiest spot below,
As different good by art or nature given,
Nature, a Mother kind alike to all, Still grants her bliss at labour's earnest call; With food as well the peasant is supply'd On Idra's cliffs as Arno's shelvy side : And though the rocky crested summits frown, These rocks, by custom, turn to beds of down. From art more various are the blessings sent; Wealth, commerce, honour, liberty, content. Yet these each other's power so strong contest, That either seems destructive of the rest. Where wealth and freedom reign, contentment fails ; And honour sinks where commerce long prevails. Hence every state to one lov'd blessing prone, Conforms and models life to that alone. Each to the fav’rite happiness attends, And spurns the plan that aims at other ends; 'Till carried to excess in each domain, This fav’rite good begets peculiar pain.
But let us try these truths with closer eyes,
Far to the right where Apenine ascends, Bright as the summer, Italy extends :
Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,
Could Nature's bounty satisfy the breast,
But small the bliss that sense alone bestows, And sensual bliss is all the nation knows. In florid beauty groves and fields appear, Man seems the only growth that dwindles here. Contrasted faults through all his manners reign; Though poor, luxurious; though submissive, vain ; Though grave, yet trifling; zealous, yet untrue ; And even in penance planning sins anew. All evils here contaminate the mind, That opulence departed leaves behind; For wealth was theirs, not far remov'd the date, When commerce proudly flourish'd through the tate; At her command the palace learnt to rise, Again the long-fall’n column sought the skies ;
The canvass glow'd beyond e'en Nature warm ;
Yet still the loss of wealth is here supplied By arts, the splendid wrecks of former pride ; From these the feeble heart and long-fall’n mind An easy compensation seem to find. Here may be seen in bloodless pomp array’d, The paste-board triumph and the cavalcade Processions form’d for piety and love, A mistress or a saint in every grove. By sports like these are all their cares beguild, The sports of children satisfy the child : Each nobler aim, represt by long control, Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul ; While low delights succeeding fast behind, In happier meanness occupy the mind; As in those domes, where Cæsars once bore sway, Defac'd by time and tott'ring in decay, There in the ruin, heedless of the dead, The shelter-seeking peasant builds his shed ; And wondering man could want a larger pile, Exults and owns his cottage with a smile.
My soul, turn from them, turn we to survey Where rougher climes a nobler race display,
Where the bleak Swiss their stormy mansion tread,
Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm, Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm. Though poor the peasant's hut, his feast tho’ small, He sees his little lot the lot of all; Sees no contiguous palace rear its head, To shame the meanness of his humble shed ; No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal To make him loath his vegetable meal ; But calm and bred in ignorance and toil, Each wish contracting, fits him to the soil. Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose, Breathes the keen air, and carols as he goes : With patient angle trolls the finny deep. Or drives the vent'rous plough-share to the steep ; Or seeks the den where snow tracks mark the way, And drags the struggling savage into day. At night returning, every labour sped, He sits him down the monarch of a shed ; Smiles by his cheerful fire, and round surveys His children's looks that brighten at the blaze ; While his lov'd partner, boastful of her hoard, Displays her cleanly platter on the board :