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To the Right Honourable
GEORGE LORD LANSDOWN.
Non injussa cano: te nostræ, Vare, myricæ,
quam sibi quæ Vari præscripsit pagina nomen. Virg.
Thy forests, Windsor! and thy green retreats,
and where, tho' all things differ, all agree.
Even the wild heath displays her purple dyes,2 25 and 'midst the desert fruitful fields arise,
that crown'd with tufted trees and springing corn, like verdant isles, the sable waste adorn. Let India boast her plants, nor envy we thy weeping amber or the balmy tree, while by our oaks the precious loads are borne, and realms commanded which those trees adorn. Not proud Olympus yields a nobler sight, tho' gods assembled grace his tow'ring height, than what more humble mountains offer here, where, in their blessings, all those gods appear. See Pan with flocks, with fruits Pomona crown'd, here blushing Flora paints th' enamell'd ground, here Ceres' gifts in waving prospect stand, and nodding tempt the joyful reaper's hand; rich industry sits smiling on the plains, and peace and plenty tell, a Stuart reigns. Not thus the land appear'd in ages past, a dreary desert, and a gloomy waste, to savage beasts and savage laws a prey, and kings more furious and severe than they; who claim'd the skies, dispeopled air and floods, the lonely lords of empty wilds and woods: Cities laid waste, they storm'd the dens and caves, (for wiser brutes were backward to be slaves.) What could be free, when lawless beasts obey'd, and ev'n the elements a tyrant sway'd?
in vain kind seasons swell'd the teeming grain, soft show'rs distill'd, and suns grew warm in vain: the swain with tears his frustrate labour yields, and famish'd dies amidst his ripen'd fields. What wonder then, a beast or subject slain were equal crimes in a despotic reign?
both doom'd alike, for sportive tyrants bled, but while the subject starv'd, the beast was fed. Proud Nimrod first the bloody chace began, a mighty hunter, and his prey was man: our haughty Norman boasts that barb'rous name, and makes his trembling slaves the royal game. The fields are ravish'd from th' industrious swains, 65 from men their cities, and from gods their fanes: the levell'd towns with weeds lie cover'd o'er; the hollow winds thro' naked temples roar; round broken columns clasping ivy twin'd; o'er heaps of ruin stalk'd the stately hind; the fox obscene to gaping tombs retires, and savage howlings fill the sacred quires. Aw'd by his nobles, by his commons curst, th' oppressor rul'd tyrannic where he durst, stretch'd o'er the poor and church his iron rod, and serv'd alike his vassals and his God. Whom ev'n the Saxon spar'd, and bloody Dane, the wanton victims of his sport remain. But see, the man, who spacious regions gave a waste for beasts, himself deny'd a grave! stretch'd on the lawn his second hope survey, at once the chaser, and at once the prey: Jo Rufus, tugging at the deadly dart, bleeds in the forest like a wounded hart. Succeeding monarchs heard the subjects' cries, nor saw displeas'd the peaceful cottage rise: then gath'ring flocks on unknown mountains fed, o'er sandy wilds where yellow harvests spread, the forest wonder'd at th' unusual grain,
and secret transports touch'd the conscious swain. 90 Fair Liberty, Britannia's goddess, rears,
her cheerful head, and leads the golden years.