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O'er dross without to shed the flame within,
And dream of virtue while we gaze on sin !
Even here, beside the proud Potowmac's stream,
Might sages still pursue the flattering theme
Of days to come, when man shall conquer fate,
Rise o'er the level of his mortal state,
Belie the monuments of frailty past,
And stamp perfection on this world at last :
“Here,” might they say, “shall power's divided reign
Evince that patriots have not bled in vain.
Here godlike liberty's herculean youth,
Cradled in peace, and nurtured up by truth
To full maturity of nerve and mind,
Shall crush the giants that bestride mankind !
Here shall religion's pure and balmy draught
In form no more from cups of state be quaffed,
But flow for all, through nation, rank, and sect,
Free as that heaven its tranquil waves reflect.
Around the columns of the public shrine
Shall growing arts their gradual wreath entwine,
Nor breathe corruption from their flowering braid,
Nor mine that fabric which they bloom to shade.
No longer here shall Justice bound her view,
Or wrong the many, while she rights the few;
But take her range through all the social frame,
Pure and pervading as that vital flame
Which warms at once our best and meanest part,
And thrills a hair while it expands a heart !"
O golden dream! what soul that loves to scan
The brightness rather than the shades of man,
That owns the good while smarting with the ill.
And loves the world with all its frailty still
What ardent bosom does not spring to meet
The generous hope with all that heavenly heat
Which makes the soul unwilling to resign
The thoughts of growing, even on earth, divine?
Yes, dearest Forbes, I see thee glow to think
The chain of ages yet may boast a link
Of purer texture than the world has known,
And fit to bind us to a Godhead's throne !
But is it thus ? doth even the glorious dream
Borrow from truth that dim, uncertain gleam,
Which bids us give such dear delusion scope,
As kills not reason, while it nurses hope?
No, no, believe me, 'tis not so-even now,
While yet upon Columbia's rising brow
The showy smile of young presumption plays
Her bloom is poisoned and her heart decays !
now, in dawn of life, her sickly breath Burns with the taint of empires near their death,
And, like the nymphs of her own withering clime,
She's old in youth, she's blasted in her prime !
Already has the child of Gallia's school,
The foul Philosophy that sins by rule,
With all her train of reasoning, damning arts,
Begot by brilliant heads on worthless hearts.
Like things that quicken after Nilus' flood,
The venomed birth of sunshine and of mud-
Already has she poured her poison here
O'er every charm that makes existence dear;
Already blighted, with her blackening trace,
The opening bloom of every social grace,
And all those courtesies that love to shoot
Round virtue's stem, the flowerets of her fruit !
Oh! were these errors but the wanton tide
Of young luxuriance or unchastened pride ;
The fervid follies and the faults of such
As wrongly feel, because they feel too much;
Then might experience make the fever less,
Nay, graft a virtue on each warm excess:
But no; 'tis heartless, speculative ill,
All youth's transgression with all age's chill,
The apathy of wrong, the bosom's ice,
A slow and cold stagnation into vice !
Long has the love of gold, that meanest rage
And latest folly of man's sinking age,
Which, rarely venturing in the van of life,
While nobler passions wage their heated strife,
Comes skulking last, with selfishness and fear,
And dies, collecting lumber in the rear-
Long has it palsied every grasping hand
And greedy spirit through this bartering land;
Turned life to traffic, set the demon gold
So loose abroad that virtue's self is sold,
And conscience, truth, and honesty, are made
To rise and fall, like other wares of trade !
Already in this free, this virtuous State,
Which, Frenchmen tell us, was ordained by fate
To show the world what high perfection springs
From rabble senators and merchant kings-
Even here already patriots learn to steal
Their private perquisites from public weal.
And, guardians of the country's sacred fire,
Like Afric's priests, they let the flame for hire!
Those vaunted demagogues who nobly rose
From England's debtors to be England's foes,
Who could their monarch in their purse forget,
And break allegiance but to cancel debt,
Have proved at length the mineral's tempting hue.
Which makes a patriot, can unmake him too.
O freedom, freedom, how I hate thy cant !
Not Eastern bombast, not the savage rant
Of purpled madmen, were they numbered all
From Roman Nero down to Russian Paul,
Could grate upon my ear so mean, so base,
As the rank jargon of that factious race
Who, poor of heart and prodigal of words.
Born to be slaves and struggling to be lords,
But pant for licence while they spurn control,
And shout for rights, with rapine in their soul !
Who can, with patience, for a moment see
The medley mass of pride and misery,
Of whips and charters, manacles and rights,
Of slaving blacks and democratic whites,
And all the piebald polity that reigns
In free confusion o'er Columbia's plains ?
To think that man, thou just and gentle God!
Should stand before thee, with a tyrant's rod
O’er creatures like himself, with souls from thee,
Yet dare to boast of perfect liberty!
Away, away-I'd rather hold my neck
By doubtful tenure from a sultan's beck,
In climes where liberty has scarce been named,
Nor any right but that of ruling claimed,
Than thus to live where bastard freedom waves
Her sustian flag in mockery over slaves ;
Where (motley laws admitting no degree
Betwixt the vilely slaved and madly free)
Alike the bondage and the licence suit
The brute made ruler and the man made brute !
But O my Forbes ! while thus, in flowerless song,
I feebly paint what yet I feel so strong,
The ills, the vices of the land, where first
Those rebel fiends that rack the world were nursed --
Where treason's arm by royalty was nerved,
And Frenchmen learned to crush the throne they served
Thou, gently lulled in dreams of classic thought,
By bards illumined and by sages taught,
Pant'st to be all, upon this mortal scene,
That bard hath fancied, or that sage hath been!
Why should I wake thee? why severely chase
The lovely forms of virtue and of grace
That dwell before thee, like the pictures spread
By Spartan matrons round the genial bed,
Moulding thy fancy, and with gradual art
Brightening the young conceptions of thy heart !
Forgive me, Forbes—and should the song destroy
One generous hope, one throb of social joy,
One high pulsation of the zeal for man,
Which few can feel, and bless that few who can !
Oh! turn to him beneath whose kindred eyes
Thy talents open and thy virtues rise,
Forget where nature has been dark or dim,
And proudly study all her lights in him !
Yes, yes, in him the erring world forget,
And feel that man may reach perfection yet !
The wreath you wove, the wreath you wove,
Is fair-but oh! how fair,
If pity's hand had stolen from love
One leaf to mingle there !
If every rose with gold were tied,
Did gems for dew-drops fall,
One faded leaf, where love had sighed,
Were sweetly worth them all!
The wreath you wove, the wreath you wove
Our emblem well may be ;
Its bloom is yours, but hopeless love
Must keep its tears for me!
Che con le lor bugie pajon divini.
I DO confess, in many a sigh
My lips have breathed you many a lie,
And who, with such delights in view,
Would lose them, for a lie or two?
Nay-look not thus, with brow reproving :
Lies are, my dear, the soul of loving!
If half we tell the girls were true,
If half we swear to think and do
Were aught but lying's bright illusion,
The world would be in strange confusion!
If ladies' eyes were, every one,
As lovers swear, a radiant sun,
Astronomy should leave the skies,
To learn her lore in ladies' eyes!
Oh no!--believe me, lovely girl,
When Nature turns your teeth to pearl.
Your neck to snow, your eyes to fire,
Your yellow locks to golen wire,
Then, only then, can Heaven decree
That you should live for only me,
Or I for you, as night and morn
We've swearing kissed, and kissing sworn!
And now, my gentle hints to clear,
For once, I'll tell you truth, my dear!
Whenever you may chance to meet
A loving youth whose love is sweet,
Long as you're false and he believes you,
Long as you trust and he deceives you,
So long the blissful bond endures;
And while he lies, his heart is yours;
But oh! you've wholly lost the youth
The instant that he tells you truth !
I FILLED to thee, to thee I drank,
I nothing did but drink and fill;
The bowl by turns was bright and blank,
'Twas drinking, filling, drinking still ! At length I bid an artist paint
Thy image in this ample cup, That I might see the dimpled saint
To whom I quaffed my nectar up. Behold how bright that purple lip
Is blushing through the wave at me, Every roseate drop I sip
is just like kissing wine from thee! But oh! I drink the more for this;
For, ever when the draught I drain, Thy lip invites another kiss,
And in the nectar flows again! So, here's to thee, my gentle dear!
And may that eye for ever shine Beneath as soft and sweet a tear
As bathes it in this bowl of mine!
-'S PICTURE. Go then, if she whose shade thou art
No more will let thee soothe my painYet tell her, it has cost this heart
Some pangs to give thee back again ! Tell her, the smile was not so dear,
With which she made thy semblance mine As bitter is the burning tear
With which I now the gift resign!