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Oh, happy he who never saw the face
Of man, nor heard the sound of human voice!
But soon as born was carried and exposed
In some vast desert, suckled by the wolf
Or shaggy bear, more kind than our fell race;
Who with his fellow brutes can range around
The echoing forest. His rude artless mind
Uncultivated as the soil, he joins
The dreadful harmony of howling wolves,
And the fierce lion's roar; while far away
Th’affrighted traveller retires and trembles.
Happy the lonely savage! nor deceived,
Nor vexed, nor grieved; in every darksome cave,
Under each verdant shade, he takes repose.
Sweet are his slumbers: of all human arts
Happily ignorant, nor taugnt by wisdom
Numberless woes, nor polished into torment.
Were once these maxims fixed, that God's our friend,
Virtue our good, and happiness our end,
How soon must reason o'er the world prevail,
And error, fraud, and superstition fail!
None would hereafter then with groundless fear
Describe th' Almighty cruel and severe,
Predestinating some without pretence
To Heaven, and some to Hell for no offence;
Inflicting endless pains for transient crimes,
And favouring sects or nations, men or times.
To please him none would foolishly forbear
Or food, or rest, or itch in shirts of hair,
Or deem it merit to believe or teach
What reason contradicts, within its reach;
None would fierce zeal for piety mistake,
Or malice for whatever tenet's sake,
Or think salvation to one sect confined,
And Heaven too narrow to contain mankind.
No servile tenets would admittance find
Destructive of the rights of humankind;
Of power divine, hereditary right,
And non-resistance to a tyrant's might.
For sure that all should thus for one be cursed,
Is but great nature's edict just reversed.
No moralists then, righteous to excess,
Would show fair Virtue in so black a dress,
That they, like boys, who some feigned sprite array,
First from the spectre fly themselves away:
No preachers in the terrible delight,
But choose to win by reason, not affright;
Not, conjurors like, in fire and brimstone dwell,
And draw each moving argument from Hell.
No more applause would on ambition wait,
And laying waste the world be counted great,
But one good-natured act more praises gain,
Than armies overthrown, and thousands slain;
No more would brutal rage disturb our peace,
But envy, hatred, war, and discord cease;
Our own and others' good each hour employ,
And all things smile with universal joy;
Virtue with Happiness, her consort, joined,
Would regulate and bless each human mind,
And man be what his Maker first designed.
Ye golden lamps of heaven, farewell,
With all your feeble light;
Farewell, thou ever-changing moon,
Pale empress of the night.
And thou refulgent orb of day,
In brighter flames arrayed;
that springs beyond thy sphere,
No more demands thine aid.
Ye stars are but the shining dust
Of my divine abode,
The pavement of those heavenly courts
Where I shall reign with God.
The Father of eternal light
Shall there His beams display;
Nor shall one moment's darkness mix
With that unvaried day.
No more the drops of piercing grief
Shall swell into mine eyes;
Nor the meridian sun decline
Amidst those brighter skies.
Here on this verdant spot, where nature kind,
With double blessings crowns the farmer's hopes;
Where flowers autumnal spring, and the rank mead
Affords the wandering hares a rich repast;
Throw off thy ready pack. See, where they spread
And range around, and dash the glittering dew.
If some staunch hound, with his authentic voice,
Avow the recent trail, the justling tribe
Attend his call, then with one mutual cry,
The welcome news confirm, and echoing hills
Repeat the pleasing tale. See how they thread
The brakes, and up yon furrow drive along!
But quick they back recoil, and wisely check
haste; then o'er the fallowed ground
How leisurely they work, and many a pause
Th' harmonious concert breaks; till more assured
With joy redoubled the low valleys ring.
What artful labyrinths perplex their way!
Ah! there she lies; how close! she pants, she doubts
If now she lives; she trembles as she sits,
With horror seized. The withered grass that clings
Around her head of the same russet hue
Almost deceived my sight, had not her eyes
With life full-beaming her vain wiles betrayed.
At distance draw thy pack, let all be hushed,
No clamour loud, no frantic joy be heard,
Lest the wild hound run gadding o'er the plain
Untractable, nor hear thy chiding voice.
Now gently put her off; see how direct
To her known mew she flies! Here, huntsman, bring
(But without hurry) all thy jolly hounds,
And calmly lay them in. How low they stoop,
And seem to plough the ground! then all at once
With greedy nostrils snuff the fuming steam
That glads their fluttering hearts. As winds let loose
From the dark caverns of the blustering god,
They burst away, and sweep the dewy lawn.
Hope gives them wings, while she's spurred on by fear;
The welkin rings; men, dogs, hills, rocks, and woods
In the full concert join. Now, my brave youths,
Stripped for the chase, give all your souls to joy!
See how their coursers, than the mountain roe
More fleet, the verdant carpet skim; thick clouds
Snorting they breathe; their shining hoofs scarce print
The grass unbruised; when emulation fired,
They strain to lead the field, top the barred gate,
O'er the deep ditch exulting bound, and brush
The thorny-twining hedge; the riders bend
O'er their arched necks; with steady hands, by turns
Indulge their speed, or moderate their rage.
Where are their sorrows, disappointments, wrongs,
Vexations, sickness, cares! All, all are gone,
And with the panting winds lag far behind.
[THE DEITY IN EVERY ATOM]
Thus beauty, mimicked in our humbler strains,
Illustrious through the world's great poem reigns!
The One grows sundry by creative power,
Th’ eternal's found in each revolving hour;
Th’ immense appears in every point of space,
Th' unchangeable in nature's varying face;
Th’ invisible conspicuous to our mind,
And Deity in every atom shrined.
[NATURE SUPERIOR TO CIVILIZATION) O Nature, whom the song aspires to scan! O Beauty, trod by proud insulting man, This boasted tyrant of thy wondrous ball, This mighty, haughty, little lord of all; This king o'er reason, but this slave to sense, Of wisdom careless, but of whim immense; Towards thee incurious, ignorant, profane, But of his own, dear, strange productions vain! Then with this champion let the field be fought, And nature's simplest arts ’gainst human wisdom brought. Let elegance and bounty here unite There kings beneficent and courts polite; Here nature's wealth—there chemist's golden dreams; Her texture here—and there the statesman's schemes;