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Why does azure deck the sky?
'Tis to be like thy looks of blue ; Why is red the rose's dye?
Because it is thy blushes' hue. All that's fair, by Love's decree, Has been made resembling thee! Why is falling snow so white,
But to be like thy bosom fair? Why are solar beams so bright?
That they may seem thy golden hair! All that's bright, by Love's decree, Has been made resembling thee! Why are Nature's beauties felt?
Oh! 'tis thine in her we see! Why has music power to melt?
Oh! because it speaks like thee. All that's sweet, by Love's decree, Has been made resembling thee!
MORALITY, A FAMILIAR EPISTLE.
ADDRESSED TO J. ATKINSON, ESQ., M.R.I.A.
Though long at school and college dozing,
On books of rhyme and books of prosing,
And copying from their moral pages
Fine recipes for forming sages;
Though long with those divines at school
Who think to make us good by rule ;
Who, in methodic forms advancing,
Teaching morality like dancing,
Tell us, for Heaven or money's sake,
What steps we are through life to take :
Though thus, my friend, so long employed,
And so much midnight oil destroyed,
I must confess, my searches past,
I only learned to doubt at last.
I find the doctors and the sages
Have differed in all climes and ages,
And two in fifty scarce agree
On what is pure morality!
'Tis like the rainbow's shifting zone,
And every vision makes its own.
The doctors of the Porch advise,
As modes of being great and wise,
That we should cease to own or know
The luxuries that from feeling flow.
"Reason alone must claim direction,
And Apathy's the soul's perfection.
Like a dull lake the heart must lie,
Nor passion's gale nor pleasure's sigh,
Though heaven the breeze, the breath supplied,
Must curl the wave or swell the tide !"
Such was the rigid Zeno's plan
To form his philosophic man;
Such were the modes he taught mankind
To weed the garden of the mind;
They tore away some weeds, 'tis true,
But all the flowers were ravished too !
Now listen to the wily strains
Which, on Cyrené's sandy plains,
(When Pleasure, nymph with loosened zone,
Usurped the philosophic throne)
Hear what the courtly sage's * tongue
To his surrounding pupils sung :
“Pleasure's the only noble end
To which all human powers should tend,
And Virtue gives her heavenly lore
But to make Pleasure please us more !
Wisdom and she were both designed
To make the senses more refined,
That man might re vel, free from cloying,
Then most a sage when most enjoying !"
Is this morality ?-Oh, no!
E’en I a wiser path could show.
The flower within this vase confined,
The pure, the unfading flower of mind,
Must not throw all its sweets away
Upon a mortal mould of clay ;
No, no ! its richest breath should rise
In virtue's incense to the skies !
But thus it is, all sects we see
Have watch-words of morality!
Some cry out Ven''s, others Jove;
Here 'tis religion, there 'tis love !
But while they thus so widely wander,
While mystics dream, and doctors ponder;
And some, in dialectics firm,
Seek virtue in a middle term ;
While thus they strive, in Heaven's defiance,
To chain morality with science ;
The plain good man, whose actions teach
More virtue than a sect can preach,
Pursues his course, unsagely blest,
His tutor whispering in his breast :
Nor could he act a purer part,
Though he had Tully all by heart;
And when he drops the tear on woe,
He little knows or cares to know
That Epictetus blamed that tear,
By Heaven approved, to virtue dear!
Oh! when I've seen the morning beam
Floating within the dimpled stream;
While Nature, wakening from the night.
Has just put on her robes of light,
Have I, with cold optician's gaze,
Explored the doctrine of those rays ?
No, pedants, I have left to you
Nicely to separate hue from hue :
Go, give that moment up to art
When Heaven and Nature claim the lieart;
And, dull to all their best attraction,
Go-measure angles of refraction!
While I, in feeling's sweet romance,
Look on each day-beam as a glance
From the great eye of Him above,
Wakening his world with looks of love!
THE NATAL GENIUS, A DREAM.
TO THE MORNING OF HER BIRTH-DAY.
IN witching slumbers of the night,
I dreamed I was the airy sprite
That on thy natal moment smiled ;
And thought I wasted on my wing
Those flowers which in Elysium spring,
To crown my lovely mortal child.
With olive-branch I bound thy head,
Heart's-ease along thy path I shed,
Which was to bloom through all thy years ;
Nor yet did I forget to bind
Love's roses, with his myrtle twined,
And dewed by sympathetic tears.
Such was the wild but precious boon
Which Fancy, at her magic noon,
Bade me to Nona's image pay-
Oh! were I, love, thus doomed to be
Thy little guardian deity,
How blest around thy steps I'd play!
Thy life should softly steal along,
Calm as some lonely shepherd's song
PREFACE. THE principal poems in the following collection were written during an absence of fourteen months from Europe. Though curiosity was certainly not the motive of my voyage to America, yet it happened that the gratification of curiosity was the only advantage which I derived from it. Finding myself in the country of a new people, whose infancy had promised so much, and whose progress to maturity has been an object of such interesting speculation, I determined to employ the short period of time which my plan of return to Europe afforded me in travelling through a few of the States, and acquiring some knowledge of the inhabitants.
The impression which my mind received from the character and manners of these republicans suggested the Epistles which are written from the City of Washington and Lake Erie. How far I. was right, in thus assuming the tone of a satirist against a people whom I viewed but as a stranger and a visitor, is a doubt which my feelings did not allow me time to investigate. All I presume to answer for is the fidelity of the picture which I have given ; and though prudence might have dictated gentler language, truth, I think, would have justified severer.
I went to America with prepossessions by no means unfavourable, and indeed rather indulged in many of those illusive ideas, with respect to the purity of the Government and the primitive happiness of the people, which I had early imbibed in my native country, where, unfortunately, discontent at home enhances every distant temptation, and the western world has long been looked to as a retreat from real or imaginary oppression; as the Elysian Atlantis where persecuted patriots might find their visions realized, and be welcomed by kindred spirits to liberty and repose. I was completely disappointed in every flattering expectation which I had formed, and was inclined to say to America, as Horace says to his mistress, “intentata nites.” Brissot, in the preface to his travels, observes, that " freedom in that country is carried to so high a degree as to border upon a state of nature ;” and there certainly is