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Golconda's gems, and sad Potosi's mines;
Where dwelt the gentlest children of the sun ?
What all that Africk's golden rivers roll,
Her odourous woods, and shining ivory stores ?
Ill-fated race ! the softening arts of Peace,
Whate'er the humanizing Muses teach ;
The godlike wisdom of the tempered breast ;
Progressive truth, the patient force of thought ;
Investigation calm, whose silent powers |
Command the world ; the Light that leads to HEAVEN ;
Kind equal rule, the government of laws,
886 And all-protecting FREEDOM, which alone Sustains the name and dignity of Man : These are not theirs. The parent-sun himself Seems o’er this world of slaves to tyrannise
88.5 And, with oppressive ray, the roseate bloom Of beauty blasting, gives the gloomy hue, And feature gross : or worse, to ruthless deeds, Mad jealousy, blind rage, and fell revenge, Their fervid spirit fires. Love dwells not there, 890 The soft regards, the tenderness of life, The heart-shed tear, the ineffable delight Of sweet humanity : these court the beam Of milder climes; in selfish fierce desire, And the wild fury of voluptuous sense,
895 There lost. The very brute-creation there This rage partakes, and burns with horrid fire.
Lo! the green serpent, from his dark abode,
Which even Imagination fears to tread,
At noon forth-issuing, gathers up his train
900 In orbs immense, then, darting out anew, Seeks the refreshing fount ; by which diffused,
Serpents and Beasts of Prey.
He throws his folds : and while, with threatening tongue
And deathful jaws erect, the monster curls
His flaming crest, all other thirst, appalled, 905
Or shivering flies, or checked at distance stands,
Nor dares approach. But still more direful he,
The small close-lurking minister of fate,
Whose high concocted venom through the veins
A rapid lightening darts, arresting swift
The vital current. Formed to humble Man,
This child of vengeful Nature ! There, sublimed
To fearless lust of blood the savage race
Roam, licensed by the shading hour of guilt,
And foul misdeed, when the pure day has shut 915
His sacred eye. The tiger darting fierce
Impetuous on the prey his glance has doomed :
The lively shining leopard, speckled o’er:
With many a spot, the beauty of the waste ;
And, scorning all the taming arts of Man,
920 The keen hyena, fellest of the fell. These, rushing from the inhospitable woods Of Mauritania, or the tufted isles That verdant rise amid the Lybian wild, Innumerous glare around their shaggy king, 925 Majestic stalking o'er the printed sand; And, with imperious and repeated roars, Demand their fated food. The fearful flocks Croud near the guardian swain ; the nobler herds, Where round their lordly bull, in rural ease
930 They ruminating lie, with horror hear The coming rage. The awakened village starts ; And to her fluttering breast the mother strains Her thoughtless infant. From the pirate's den
Or stern Morocco's tyrant fang escaped,
The wretch half wishes for his bonds again :
While, uproår all the wilderness resounds,
From Atlas eastward, to the frighted Nile.
UNHAPPY he ! who from the first of joys,
Society, cut off, is left alone
Amid this world of death. Day after day,
Sad on the jutting eminence he sits,
And views the main that ever toils below ;
Still fondly, forming in the farthest verge,
Where the round ether mixes with the wave,
Ships, dim-discovered, dropping from the clouds ;
At evening, to the setting sun he turns
A mournful eye, and down his dying heart
Sinks helpless ; while the wonted roar is up,
And hiss continual through the tedious night.
Yet here, even here, into these black abodes
Of monsters, unappalled from stooping Rome
And guilty Cæsar, LIBERTY retired
Her Cato following through Numidian wilds :
Disdainful of Campania's gentle plains,
And all the green delights Ausonia pours;
When for them she must bend the servile knee,
And fawning take the splendid robber's boon.
Nor stop the terrours of these regions here.
Commissioned demons oft, angels of wrath,
Let loose the raging elements. Breathed hot,
From all the boundless furnace of the sky,
And the wide glittering waste of burning sand,
A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites
With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil,
Son of the desart ! Even the camel feels
Shot through his withered heart, the fiery blast.
Or from the black-red ether, bursting broad,
Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Strait the sands
Commoved around, in gathering eddies play:
Nearer and nearer still they darkening come ;
Till, with the general all-involving storm
Swept up, the whole continuous wilds arise ;
And, by their noon-day fount dejected thrown,
Or sunk at night in sad disastrous sleep,
Beneath descending hills the caravan
Is buried deep. In Cairo's crowded streets
The impatient merchant, wondering, waits in vain,
And Mecca saddens at the long delay.
But chief at sea, whose every flexile wave
Obeys the blast, the aërial tumult swells.
In the dread ocean, undulating wide,
Beneath the racliant line that girts the globe,
The circling Typhon, * whirled from point to point,
Exhausting all the rage of all the sky,
And dire Ecnephia * reign. Amid the heavens,
Falsely serene, deep in a cloudy speck †
Compressed, the mighty tempest brooding dwells :
Of no regard, save to the skilful eye,
Fiery and foul, the small prognostic hangs
Aloft, or on the promontory's brow
Musters its force. A faint deceitful calm,
A fluttering gale, the demon sends before,
* Typhon and Ecnephia, names of particular storms or hurricanes, known only between the tropics.
† Called by sailors the Ox-eye, being in appearance at first no bigger.
To tempt the spreading sail. Then down at once,
Precipitant, descends a mingled mass
Of roaring winds, and flame, and rushing floods.
In wild amazement fixed, the sailor stands.
Art is too slow : By rapid fate oppressed,
His broad-winged vessel drinks the whelming tide,
Hid in the bosom of the black abyss.
1000 With such mad seas the daring * Gama fought, Fj
For many a day, and many a dreadful night,
Incessant labouring round the stormy Cape ;
By bold ambition led, and bolder thirst
Of gold. For then from ancient gloom, emerged 1005
The rising world of trade : the Genius, then, 4
Of navigation, that, in hopeless sloth,
Had slumbered on the vast Atlantic deep,
For idle ages, starting, heard at last
The + Lusitanian Prince ; who, Heaven-inspired, 1010
To love of useful glory roused mankind,
And in unbounded Commerce mixt the world."
Increasing still the terrors of these storms,
His jaws horrific armed with threefold fate,
Here dwells the direful shark. Lured by the scent 1015
Of steaming crowds, of rank disease, and death,
Behold! he rushing cuts the briny flood,
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along ;
And, from the partners of that cruel trade,
* Vasco de Gama, the first who sailed round Africa, by the Cape of Good Hope, to the East Indies.
| Don Henry, third son to John the first, king of Portugal. His strong genius to the discovery of new countries was the chief source of all the modern improvements in navigation.