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A thought of refuge, for a mind detained
“ Fled !” was the Wanderer's passionate response, “ Fled utterly! or only to be traced In a few fortunate retreats like this ; Which I behold with trembling, when I think What lamentable change, a year—a monthMay bring; that brook converting as it runs Into an instrument of deadly bane For those, who, yet untempted to forsake The simple occupations of their sires, Drink the pure water of its innocent stream With lip almost as pure.—Domestic bliss (Or call it comfort, by a humbler name,) How art thou blighted for the poor Man's heart ! Lo! in such neighbourhood, from morn to eve, The habitations empty! or perchance The Mother left alone,—no helping hand To rock the cradle of her peevish babe ; No daughters round her, busy at the wheel, Or in dispatch of each day's little growth Of household occupation ; no nice arts
Of needle-work; no bustle at the fire,
The Father, if perchance he still retain His old employments, goes to field or wood, No longer led or followed by the Sons ; Idlers perchance they were,—but in his sight; Breathing fresh air, and treading the green earth ; 'Till their short holiday of childhood ceased, Ne'er to return! That birthright now is lost. Economists will tell you that the State Thrives by the forfeituro-unfeeling thought, And false as monstrous ! Can the mother thrive By the destruction of her innocent sons In whom a premature necessity Blocks out the forms of nature, preconsumes The reason, famishes the heart, shuts up The infant Being in itself, and makes Its very spring a season of decay! The lot is wretched, the condition sad, Whether a pining discontent survive, And thirst for change ; or habit hath subdued The soul deprest, dejected-even to love Of her close tasks, and long captivity.
Oh, banish far such wisdom as condemns A native Briton to these inward chains,
Fixed in his soul, so early and so deep;
Of what there is delightful in the breeze,
-Can hope look forward to a manhood raised
“ Hope is none for him !" The pale Recluse indignantly exclaimed, “And tens of thousands suffer wrong as deep. Yet be it asked, in justice to our age, If there were not, before those arts appeared, These structures rose, commingling old and young, And unripe sex with sex, for mutual taint; If there were not, then, in our far-famed Isle, Multitudes, who from infancy had breathed Air unimprisoned, and had lived at large ; Yet walked beneath the sun, in human shape, As abject, as degraded ? At.this day, Who shall enumerate the crazy huts And tottering hovels, whence do issue forth A ragged Offspring, with their upright hair Crowned like the image of fantastic Fear; Or wearing, (shall we say?) in that white growth An ill-adjusted turban, for defence Or fierceness, wreathed around their sun-burnt brows, By savage Nature ? Shrivelled are their lips; Naked, and coloured like the soil, the feet On which they stand; as if thereby they drew Some nourishment, as trees do by their roots,
From earth, the common mother of us all.