MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
a meagre intellect, unfit
       To be the tenant of man’s noble form. 
       Thee therefore still, blameworthy as thou art,
       With all thy loss of empire, and though squeez’d
       By public exigence, till annual food
       Fails for the craving hunger of the state,
       Thee I account still happy, and the chief
       Among the nations, seeing thou art free,
       My native nook of earth!  Thy clime is rude,
       Replete with vapours, and disposes much
       All hearts to sadness, and none more than mine: 
       Thine unadult’rate manners are less soft
       And plausible than social life requires,
       And thou hast need of discipline and art,
       To give thee what politer France receives
       From nature’s bounty—­that humane address
       And sweetness, without which no pleasure is
       In converse, either starv’d by cold reserve,
       Or flush’d with fierce dispute, a senseless brawl—­
       Yet being free, I love thee; for the sake
       Of that one feature can be well content,
       Disgrac’d as thou hast been, poor as thou art,
       To seek no sublunary rest beside. 
       But, once enslav’d, farewell!  I could endure
       Chains nowhere patiently; and chains at home,
       Where I am free by birthright, not at all. 
       Then what were left of roughness in the grain
       Of British natures, wanting its excuse
       That it belongs to freemen, would disgust
       And shock me.  I should then with double pain
       Feel all the rigour of thy fickle clime;
       And, if I must bewail the blessing lost,
       For which our Hampdens and our Sydneys bled,
       I would at least bewail it under skies
       Milder, among a people less austere;
       In scenes, which, having never known me free,
       Would not reproach me with the loss I felt. 
       Do I forebode impossible events,
       And tremble at vain dreams?  Heaven grant I may! 
       But the age of virtuous politics is past,
       And we are deep in that of cold pretence. 
       Patriots are grown too shrewd to be sincere,
       And we too wise to trust them.  He that takes
       Deep in his soft credulity the stamp
       Design’d by loud declaimers on the part
       Of liberty, themselves the slaves of lust,
       Incurs derision for his easy faith,
       And lack of knowledge, and with cause enough: 
       For when was public virtue to be found,
       Where private was not?  Can he love the whole,
       Who loves no part?  He be a nation’s friend,
       Who is in truth the friend of no man there? 
       Can he be strenuous in his country’s cause,
       Who slights the charities, for whose dear sake
       That country, if at all, must be beloved?

Cowper.

[Notes:  Hampden—­Sydney. (See previous note on them)

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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