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Great Men have been among us; hands that penn'd
And tongues that utter'd wisdom, better none:
The later Sydney, Marvel, Harrington,
Young Vane, and others who callid Milton Friend.
These Moralists could act and comprehend:
They knew how genuine glory was put on;
Taught us how rightfully a nation shone
In splendor: what strength was, that would not bend
But in magnanimous meekness. France, 'tis strange,
Hath brought forth no such souls as we had then.
Perpetual emptiness! unceasing change!
No single Volume paramount, no code,
No master spirit, no determined road;
But equally a want of Books and Men!
It is not to be thought of that the Flood
Of British freedom, which to the open
Of the world's praise from dark antiquity
Hath flowed, “with pomp of waters, unwithstood,"
Road by which all might come and go that would,
And bear out freights of worth to foreign lands;
That this most famous Stream in Bogs and Sands
Should perish'; and to evil and to good
Be lost for ever. In our Halls is hung
Armoury of the invincible Knights of old:
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue
That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold
Which Milton held. In every thing we are sprung
Of Earth’s first blood, have titles manifold.
When I have borne in memory what has tamed
Great Nations, how ennobling thoughts depart
When Men change Swords for Ledgers, and desert
The Student's bower for gold, some fears unnamed
I had, my Country! am I to be blamed?
But, when I think of Thee, and what Thou art,
Verily, in the bottom of my heart,
Of those unfilial fears I am ashamed.
But dearly must we prize thee; we who find
In thee a bulwark of the cause of men;
And I by my affection was beguiled.
What wonder, if a Poet, now and then,
Among the many movements of his mind,
Felt for thee as a Lover or a Child.
One might believe that natural miseries
Had blasted France, and made of it a land
Unfit for Men; and that in one great Band
Her Sons were bursting forth, to dwell at ease.
But 'tis a chosen soil, where sun and breeze
Shed gentle favors; rural works are there;
And ordinary business without care;
Spot rich in all things that can soothe and please!
How piteous then that there should be such dearth
Of knowledge; that whole myriads should unite
To work against themselves such fell despite :
Should come in phrenzy and in drunken mirth,
Impatient to put out the only light
Of Liberty that yet remains on Earth!
There is a bondage which is worse to bear
Than his who breathes, by roof, and floor, and wall,
Pent in, a Tyrant's solitary Thrall :
'Tis his who walks about in the
One of a Nation who, henceforth, must wear
Their fetters in their Souls. For who could be,
Who, even the best, in such condition, free
From self-reproach, reproach which he must share
With Human Nature? Never be it ours
To see the Sun how brightly it will shine,
And know that noble Feelings, manly Powers,
Instead of gathering strength must droop and pine,
And Earth with all her pleasant fruits and flowers
Fade, and participate in Man's decline.