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"Hence commerce springs, the venal interchange

Of all that human art or Nature yield;
40 Which wealth should purchase not, but
want demand,

And natural kindness hasten to supply
From the full fountain of its boundless


Forever stifled, drained, and tainted now.
Commerce! beneath whose poison-breath-
ing shade

45 No solitary virtue dares to spring,
But poverty and wealth with equal hand
Scatter their withering curses, and un-

The doors of premature and violent death To pining famine and full-fed disease, 50 To all that shares the lot of human life, Which, poisoned body and soul, scarce drags the chain

That lengthens as it goes and clanks behind.

"Commerce has set the mark of selfishness, The signet of its all-enslaving power 55 Upon a shining ore, and called it gold: Before whose image bow the vulgar great,

"Since tyrants, by the sale of human life, 65 Heap luxuries to their sensualism, and fame

"The harmony and happiness of man 80 Yields to the wealth of nations; that which lifts


95 After the ruin of their hearts, can gild
The bitter poison of a nation's woe,
Can turn the worship of the servile mob
To their corrupt and glaring idol, fame,
From virtue, trampled by its iron tread,
Although its dazzling pedestal be raised
Amid the horrors of a limb-strewn field,
With desolated dwellings smoking round.
The man of ease, who, by his warm fireside,
To deeds of charitable intercourse,
And bare fulfilment of the common laws
Of decency and prejudice, confines


The struggling nature of his human heart,
Is duped by their cold sophistry; he sheds
A passing tear perchance upon the wreck

60 That grinds them to the dust of misery.
But in the temple of their hireling hearts 110 Of earthly peace, when near his dwelling's
Gold is a living god, and rules in scorn
All earthly things but virtue.

The vainly rich, the miserable proud,
The mob of peasants, nobles, priests, and 105

And with blind feelings reverence the

His nature to the heaven of its pride,
Is bartered for the poison of his soul;
The weight that drags to earth his towering

Blighting all prospect but of selfish gain,
85 Withering all passion but of slavish fear,
Extinguishing all free and generous love
Of enterprise and daring, even the pulse
That fancy kindles in the beating heart
To mingle with sensation, it destroys,-
90 Leaves nothing but the sordid lust of self,
The grovelling hope of interest and gold,
Unqualified, unmingled, unredeemed
Even by hypocrisy.

Even as the slaves by force or famine driven,

Beneath a vulgar master, to perform
A task of cold and brutal drudgery;-
75 Hardened to hope, insensible to fear,

Scarce living pulleys of a dead machine,
Mere wheels of work and articles of trade,
That grace the proud and noisy pomp of

To their wide-wasting and insatiate pride,
Success has sanctioned to a credulous world 115
The ruin, the disgrace, the woe of war.
His hosts of blind and unresisting dupes
70 The despot numbers; from his cabinet

These puppets of his schemes he moves at

And statesmen boast Of wealth! The wordy eloquence, that lives


The frightful waves are driven,-when his


Is murdered by the tyrant, or religion
Drives his wife raving mad. But the poor

man, Whose life is misery, and fear, and care; Whom the morn wakens but to fruitless toil;

Who ever hears his famished offspring's


Whom their pale mother's uncomplaining


Forever meets, and the proud rich man's
Flashing command, and the heart-breaking


120 Of thousands like himself;-he little heeds. The rhetoric of tyranny; his hate

Is quenchless as his wrongs; he laughs to


The vain and bitter mockery of words,

Feeling the horror of the tyrant's deeds, 125 And unrestrained but by the arm of power, That knows and dreads his enmity.

That all within it but the virtuous man
Is venal: gold or fame will surely reach

"The iron rod of penury still compels

Her wretched slaves to bow the knee to 170 The price prefixed by Selfishness, to all wealth, But him of resolute and unchanging will;

Whom, nor the plaudits of a servile crowd, Nor the vile joys of tainting luxury, Can bribe to yield his elevated soul 175 To Tyranny or Falsehood, though they wield

And poison, with unprofitable toil, 130 A life too void of solace to confirm

The very chains that bind him to his doom.
Nature, impartial in munificence,

Has gifted man with all-subduing will.
Matter, with all its transitory shapes,
135 Lies subjected and plastic at his feet,
That, weak from bondage, tremble as they
How many
rustic Milton has passed by,
Stifling the speechless longings of his

In unremitting drudgery and care!
140 How many a vulgar Cato has compelled
His energies, no longer tameless then,
To mould a pin, or fabricate a nail!
How many a Newton, to whose passive ken
Those mighty spheres that gem infinity
145 Were only specks of tinsel, fixed in Heaven
To light the midnights of his native town!

"Yet every heart contains perfection's germ:1


Were but a weak and inexperienced boy,
Proud, sensual, unimpassioned, unimbued
With pure desire and universal love,
Compared to that high being, of cloudless

The wisest of the sages of the earth,

That ever from the stores of reason drew

150 Science and truth, and virtue's dreadless 225

160 Of some corrupted city his sad life,

Pining with famine, swoln with luxury,
Blunting the keenness of his spiritual

155 Untainted passion, elevated will,
Which Death (who even would linger long
in awe
Within his noble presence, and beneath
His changeless eyebeam) might alone sub- 250


Him, every slave now dragging through the filth

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But mean lust

Has bound its chains so tight about the earth,

1 See Godwin's An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1, 5 (p. 218b, 35 ff.).

"There is a nobler glory, which survives 215 Until our being fades, and, solacing

With blood-red hand the sceptre of the world.

All human care, accompanies its change;
Deserts not virtue in the dungeon's gloom,
And, in the precincts of the palace, guides
Its footsteps through that labyrinth of

220 Imbues his lineaments with dauntlessness,
Even when, from Power's avenging hand,
he takes

Its sweetest, last, and noblest title-death; ―The consciousness of good, which neither gold,


Nor sordid fame, nor hope of heavenly

Can purchase; but a life of resolute good,
Unalterable will, quenchless desire
Of universal happiness, the heart
That beats with it in unison, the brain
Whose ever wakeful wisdom toils to

Reason's rich stores for its eternal weal.

"But hoary-headed Selfishness has felt Its death-blow, and is tottering to the


A brighter morn awaits the human day, When every transfer of earth's natural gifts

Shall be a commerce of good words and works;

When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,

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Then in her triumph spoke the Fairy Queen :

"I will not call the ghost of ages gone
To unfold the frightful secrets of its lore;
The present now is past,

45 And those events that desolate the earth
Have faded from the memory of Time,
Who dares not give reality to that
Whose being I annul. To me is given
The wonders of the human world to keep,


Space, matter, time, and mind. Futurity
Exposes now its treasure; let the sight
Renew and strengthen all thy failing hope.
O human Spirit! spur thee to the goal
Where virtue fixes universal peace,

55 And 'midst the ebb and flow of human things,

Show somewhat stable, somewhat certain still,

A lighthouse o'er the wild of dreary waves.

"The habitable earth is full of bliss; Those wastes of frozen billows that were hurled

60 By everlasting snowstorms round the poles,

Where matter dared not vegetate or live,
But ceaseless frost round the vast solitude
Bound its broad zone of stillness, are un-

And fragrant zephyrs there from spicy

65 Ruffle the placid ocean-deep, that rolls Its broad, bright surges to the sloping sand, Whose roar is wakened into echoings sweet To murmur through the Heaven-breathing groves

And melodize with man's blest nature there.


Those deserts of immeasurable sand, Whose age-collected fervors scarce allowed A bird to live, a blade of grass to spring, Where the shrill chirp of the green lizard's lové

Broke on the sultry silentness alone, 75 Now teem with countless rills and shady woods, Cornfields and pastures and white cottages;

And where the startled wilderness beheld A savage conqueror stained in kindred blood,

A tigress sating with the flesh of lambs 80 The unnatural famine of her toothless


Whilst shouts and howlings through the desert rang,

Sloping and smooth the daisy-spangled 120 And Autumn proudly bears her matron lawn,


Kindling a flush on the fair cheek of

Whose virgin bloom beneath the ruddy

Reflects its tint, and blushes into love.


Offering sweet incense to the sunrise, smiles
To see a babe before his mother's door,
Sharing his morning's meal
With the green and golden basilisk1
That comes to lick his feet.

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"All things are recreated, and the flame Of consentaneous2 love inspires all life: The fertile bosom of the earth gives suck

110 To myriads, who still grow beneath her



"The lion now forgets to thirst for blood: 125 There might you see himporting in the

1 A fabulous serpent, or lizard, whose breath or look was fatal.

2 harmonious


Beside the dreadless kid his claws are sheathed,

His teeth are harmless, custom's force has made

His nature as the nature of a lamb.
Like passion's fruit, the nightshade's
tempting bane

130 Poisons no more the pleasure it bestows:
All bitterness is past; the cup of joy
Unmingled mantles to the goblet's brim,2
And courts the thirsty lips it fled before.


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145 "Man, where the gloom of the long polar night

Lowers o'er the snow-clad rocks and frozen soil,

Where scarce the hardiest herb that braves the frost

Rewarding her with their pure perfectness: The balmy breathings of the wind inhale Her virtues, and diffuse them all abroad: Health floats amid the gentle atmosphere, 115 Glows in the fruits, and mantles on the stream:

Basks in the moonlight's ineffectual glow, Shrank with the plants, and darkened with the night;


No storms deform the beaming brow of

His chilled and narrow energies, his heart,
Insensible to courage, truth, or love,
His stunted stature and imbecile frame,
Marked him for some abortion of the earth,
Fit compeer of the bears that roamed

Nor scatter in the freshness of its pride

The foliage of the ever-verdant trees;

But fruits are ever ripe, flowers ever fair, 155 Whose habits and enjoyments were his



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His life a feverish dream of stagnant woe,
Whose meagre wants, but scantily fulfilled,
Apprised him ever of the joyless length
Which his short being's wretchedness had

160 His death a pang which famine, cold and

Long on the mind, whilst yet the vital spark

Clung to the body stubbornly, had brought: All was inflicted here that Earth's revenge Could wreak on the infringers of her law; 165 One curse alone was spared-the name 200 of God.

"Here now the human being stands adorning

This loveliest earth with taintless body and mind;

Blessed from his birth with all bland impulses,

"Nor where the tropics bound the realms
of day

Which gently in his noble bosom wake
All kindly passions and all pure desires.
Him, still from hope to hope the bliss

With a broad belt of mingling cloud and

Which from the exhaustless lore of human



Where blue mists through the unmoving 205 Dawns on the virtuous mind, the thoughts atmosphere

that rise

Scattered the seeds of pestilence, and fed 170 Unnatural vegetation, where the land Teemed with all earthquake, tempest and disease,

Was man a nobler being; slavery
Had crushed him to his country's blood-
stained dust;

Or he was bartered for the fame of power, 175 Which, all internal impulses destroying, Makes human will an article of trade; Or he was changed with Christians for their gold,

And dragged to distant isles, where to the sound

Of the flesh-mangling scourge, he does the work

180 Of all-polluting luxury and wealth,

Which doubly visits on the tyrants' heads
The long-protracted fulness of their woe; 220
Or he was led to legal butchery,
To turn to worms beneath that burning


185 Where kings first leagued against the rights
of men,

And priests first traded with the name of

Her snowy standard o'er this favored clime:

"Even where the milder zone afforded


A seeming shelter, yet contagion there, Blighting his being with unnumbered ills, 190 Spread like a quenchless fire; nor truth till late

There man was long the train-bearer of slaves,

195 The mimic of surrounding misery,
The jackal of ambition's lion-rage,

The bloodhound of religion's hungry zeal.

Availed to arrest its progress, or create
That peace which first in bloodless victory


In time-destroying infiniteness, gift
With self-enshrined eternity, that mocks
The unprevailing hoariness of age;
And man, once fleeting o'er the transient


210 Swift as an unremembered vision, stands
Immortal upon earth: no longer now
He slays the lamb that looks him in the

And horribly devours his mangled flesh,
Which, still avenging Nature's broken


Flee from the form of man; but gather round,

And prune their sunny feathers on the hands

Which little children stretch in friend'y
Towards these dreadless partners of their
225 All things are void of terror. Man has

His terrible prerogative, and stands
An equal amidst equals: happiness
And science dawn, though late, upon the

Peace cheers the mind, health renovates
the frame;

1 In Africa, the source of the British slave trade. 230 Disease and pleasure cease to mingle here,

215 Kindled all putrid humors in his frame, All evil passions, and all vain belief, Hatred, despair, and loathing in his mind, The germs of misery, death, disease, and crime.

That in the woods their sweet lives sing
No longer now the wingèd habitants,

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