Flourish Ye Hillocks
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Thus Dwight, commencing with Beattie and Goldsmith, soon runs into measures and incidents of his own; or turns the contrast of American manners to happy account, as in his picture of 'the Flourishing Village' of Greenfield, where he finds in the allotment of estates and the absence of manorial privileges, the opposite of 'the Deserted Village '" Cyclopedia of American Literature Davenport Adams: "Timothey Dwight, D. Fair Verna! Hail, happy village! O'er thy cheerful lawns, With earliest beauty, spring delighted dawns; The northward sun begins his vernal smile; The spring-bird carols o'er the cressy rill: The shower, that patters in the ruffled stream, The ploughboy's voice, that chides the lingering team, The bee, industrious, with his busy song, The woodman's axe, the distant groves among, The waggon, rattling down the rugged steep, The light wind, lulling every care to sleep, All these, with mingled music, from below, Deceive intruding sorrow, as I go.
How pleas'd, fond Recollection, with a smile, Surveys the varied round of wintery toil! How pleas'd, amid the flowers, that scent the plain, Recalls the vanish'd frost, and sleeted rain; The chilling damp, the ice-endangering street, And treacherous earth that slump'd beneath the feet. Yet even stern winter's glooms could joy inspire: Then social circles grac'd the nutwood fire; The axe resounded, at the sunny door; The swain, industrious, trimm'd his flaxen store; Or thresh'd, with vigorous flail, the bounding wheat, His poultry round him pilfering for their meat; Or slid his firewood on the creaking snow; Or bore his produce to the main below; Or o'er his rich returns exulting laugh'd; Or pledg'd the healthful orchard's sparkling draught: While, on his board, for friends and neighbours spread, The turkey smoak'd, his busy housewife fed; And Hospitality look'd smiling round, And Leisure told his tale, with gleeful sound.
Then too, the rough road hid beneath the sleigh, The distant friend despis'd a length of way, And join'd the warm embrace, and mingling smile, And told of all his bliss, and all his toil; And, many a month elaps'd, was pleas'd to view How well the houshold far'd, the children grew; While tales of sympathy deceiv'd the hour, And Sleep, amus'd, resign'd his wonted power.
And as a bird, in prison long confin'd, Springs from his open'd cage, and mounts the wind, Thro' fields of flowers, and fragrance, gaily flies, Or re-assumes his birth-right, in the skies: Unprison'd thus from artificial joys, Where pomp fatigues, and fussful fashion cloys, The soul, reviving, loves to wander free Thro' native scenes of sweet simplicity; Thro' Peace' low vale, where Pleasure lingers long, And every songster tunes his sweetest song, And Zephyr hastes, to breathe his first perfume, And Autumn stays, to drop his latest bloom: 'Till grown mature, and gathering strength to roam, She lifts her lengthen'd wings, and seeks her home.
But now the wintery glooms are vanish'd all; The lingering drift behind the shady wall; The dark-brown spots, that patch'd the snowy field; The surly frost, that every bud conceal'd; The russet veil, the way with slime o'erspread, And all the saddening scenes of March are fled. Sweet-smiling village! How green thy groves! How pure thy glassy rills! With what new joy, I walk thy verdant streets! How often pause, to breathe thy gale of sweets; To mark thy well-built walls!
And every charm, that rural nature yields; And every joy, to Competence allied, And every good, that Virtue gains from Pride! No griping landlord here alarms the door, To halve, for rent, the poor man's little store.
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No haughty owner drives the humble swain To some far refuge from his dread domain; Nor wastes, upon his robe of useless pride, The wealth, which shivering thousands want beside; Nor in one palace sinks a hundred cots; Nor in one manor drowns a thousand lots; Nor, on one table, spread for death and pain, Devours what would a village well sustain. O Competence, thou bless'd by Heaven's decree, How well exchang'd is empty pride for thee! Oft to thy cot my feet delighted turn, To meet thy chearful smile, at peep of morn; To join thy toils, that bid the earth look gay; To mark thy sports, that hail the eve of May; To see thy ruddy children, at thy board, And share thy temperate meal, and frugal hoard; And every joy, by winning prattlers giv'n, And every earnest of a future Heaven.
There the poor wanderer finds a table spread, The fireside welcome, and the peaceful bed. The needy neighbour, oft by wealth denied, There finds the little aids of life supplied; The horse, that bears to mill the hard-earn'd grain; The day's work given, to reap the ripen'd plain; The useful team, to house the precious food, And all the offices of real good.
There too, divine Religion is a guest, And all the Virtues join the daily feast. Kind Hospitality attends the door, To welcome in the stranger and the poor; Sweet Chastity, still blushing as she goes; And Patience smiling at her train of woes; And meek-eyed Innocence, and Truth refin'd, And Fortitude, of bold, but gentle mind. Thou pay'st the tax, the rich man will not pay; Thou feed'st the poor, the rich man drives away.
Thy sons, for freedom, hazard limbs, and life, While pride applauds, but shuns the manly strife: Thou prop'st religion's cause, the world around, And shew'st thy faith in works, and not in sound.
Say, child of passion! Ah, yonder turn thy wealth-inchanted eyes, Where that poor, friendless wretch expiring lies! Hear his sad partner shriek, beside his bed, And call down curses on her landlord's head, Who drove, from yon small cot, her houshold sweet, To pine with want, and perish in the street.
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See the pale tradesman toil, the livelong day, To deck imperious lords, who never pay! Who waste, at dice, their boundless breadth of soil, But grudge the scanty meed of honest toil. See half a realm one tyrant scarce sustain, While meagre thousands round him glean the plain! See, for his mistress' robe, a village sold, Whose matrons shrink from nakedness and cold! See too the Farmer prowl around the shed, To rob the starving houshold of their bread; And seize, with cruel fangs, the helpless swain, While wives, and daughters, plead, and weep, in vain; Or yield to infamy themselves, to save Their sire from prison, famine, and the grave.
There too foul luxury taints the putrid mind, And slavery there imbrutes the reasoning kind: There humble worth, in damps of deep despair, Is bound by poverty's eternal bar: No motives bright the etherial aim impart, Nor one fair ray of hope allures the heart. But, O sweet Competence! Where Freedom walks erect, with manly port, And all the blessings to his side resort, In every hamlet, Learning builds her schools, And beggars' children gain her arts, and rules; And mild Simplicity o'er manners reigns, And blameless morals Purity sustains.
From thee the rich enjoyments round me spring, Where every farmer reigns a little king; Where all to comfort, none to danger, rise; Where pride finds few, but nature all supplies; Where peace and sweet civility are seen, And meek good-neighbourhood endears the green.
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Here every class if classes those we call, Where one extended class embraces all, All mingling, as the rainbow's beauty blends, Unknown where every hue begins or ends Each following, each, with uninvidious strife, Wears every feature of improving life. Each gains from other comeliness of dress, And learns, with gentle mein to win and bless, With welcome mild the stranger to receive, And with plain, pleasing decency to live. Refinement hence even humblest life improves; Not the loose fair, that form and frippery loves; But she, whose mansion is the gentle mind, In thought, and action, virtuously refin'd.
Hence, wives and husbands act a lovelier part, More just the conduct, and more kind the heart; Hence brother, sister, parent, child, and friend, The harmony of life more sweetly blend; Hence labour brightens every rural scene; Hence cheerful plenty lives along the green; Still Prudence eyes her hoard, with watchful care, And robes of thrift and neatness, all things wear. But hark! Of care oblivious, whose that laughing mind? He never, dragg'd, with groans, the galling chain; Nor hung, suspended, on th' infernal crane; No dim, white spots deform his face, or hand, Memorials hellish of the marking brand!
No seams of pincers, scars of scalding oil; No waste of famine, and no wear of toil.
But kindly fed, and clad, and treated, he Slides on, thro' life, with more than common glee. For here mild manners good to all impart, And stamp with infamy th' unfeeling heart; Here law, from vengeful rage, the slave defends, And here the gospel peace on earth extends. He toils, 'tis true; but shares his master's toil; With him, he feeds the herd, and trims the soil; Helps to sustain the house, with clothes, and food, And takes his portion of the common good: Lost liberty his sole, peculiar ill, And fix'd submission to another's will.
Ill, ah, how great! See fresh to life the Afric infant spring, And plume its powers, and spread its little wing! Firm is it's frame, and vigorous is its mind, Too young to think, and yet to misery blind. But soon he sees himself to slavery born; Soon meets the voice of power, the eye of scorn; Sighs for the blessings of his peers, in vain; Condition'd as a brute, tho' form'd a man. Around he casts his fond, instinctive eyes, And sees no good, to fill his wishes, rise: No motive warms, with animating beam, Nor praise, nor property, nor kind esteem, Bless'd independence, on his native ground, Nor sweet equality with those around; Himself, and his, another's shrinks to find, Levell'd below the lot of human kind.
Thus, shut from honour's paths, he turns to shame, And filches the small good, he cannot claim.
To sour, and stupid, sinks his active mind; Finds joys in drink, he cannot elsewhere find; Rule disobeys; of half his labour cheats; In some safe cot, the pilfer'd turkey eats; Rides hard, by night, the steed, his art purloins; Serene from conscience' bar himself essoins; Sees from himself his sole redress must flow, And makes revenge the balsam of his woe. Thus slavery's blast bids sense and virtue die; Thus lower'd to dust the sons of Afric lie.
O thou chief curse, since curses here began; First guilt, first woe, first infamy of man; Thou spot of hell, deep smirch'd on human kind, The uncur'd gangrene of the reasoning mind; Alike in church, in state, and houshold all, Supreme memorial of the world's dread fall; O slavery! See the fell Spirit mount his sooty car!
While Hell's black trump proclaims the finish'd war; Her choicest fiends his wheels exulting draw, And scream the fall of God's most holy law. In dread procession see the pomp begin, Sad pomp of woe, of madness, and of sin! Grav'd on the chariot, all earth's ages roll, And all her climes, and realms, to either pole.
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Fierce in the flash of arms, see Europe spread! Her jails, and gibbets, fleets, and hosts, display'd! Awe-struck, see silken Asia silent bow! And feeble Afric writhe in blood below! Before, peace, freedom, virtue, bliss, move on, The spoils, the treasures, of a world undone; Behind, earth's bedlam millions clank the chain, Hymn their disgrace, and celebrate their pain; Kings, nobles, priests, dread senate!
Oft, wing'd by thought, I seek those Indian isles, Where endless spring, with endless summer smiles, Where fruits of gold untir'd Vertumnus pours, And Flora dances o'er undying flowers. See those throng'd wretches pant along the plain, Tug the hard hoe, and sigh in hopeless pain! Yon mother, loaded with her sucking child, Her rags with frequent spots of blood defil'd, Drags slowly fainting on; the fiend is nigh; Rings the shrill cowskin; roars the tyger-cry; In pangs, th' unfriended suppliant crawls along, And shrieks the prayer of agonizing wrong.
Why glows yon oven with a sevenfold fire? Crisp'd in the flames, behold a man expire! Why shrinks yon slave, with horror, from his meat? Why streams the life-blood from that female's throat?