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For agriculture's toil. No blood we shed
For metals buried in a rocky waste.
Curs'd be that ore, which brutal makes our race,
And prompts mankind to shed a brother's blood!
But whence arose
That vagrant race who love the shady vale,
And choose the forest for their dark abode?
For long has this perplext the sages' skill
To investigate. Tradition lends no aid
To unveil this secret to the mortal eye
When first these various nations, north and south,
Possest these shores, or from what countries came ?—
Whether they sprang from some primeval head
In their own lands, like Adam in the east,
Yet this the sacred oracles deny,
And reason, too, reclaims against the thought:
For when the general deluge drown'd the world
Where could their tribes have found security,
Where find their fate, but in the ghastly deep?
Unless, as others dream, some chosen few
High on the Andes 'scap'd the general death,
High on the Andes, wrapped in endless snow,
Where winter in his wildest fury reigns,
And subtile aether scarce our life maintains.
But here philosophers oppose the scheme:
This earth, say they, nor hills nor mountains knew
Ere yet the universal flood prevail'd;
But when the mighty waters rose aloft,
Rous'd by the winds, they shook their solid base,
And, in convulsions, tore the delug'd world,
'Till by the winds assuag'd again they fell,
And all their ragged bed expos'd to view.
Perhaps, far wandering toward the northern pole,
The streights of Zembla, and the frozen zone,
And where the eastern Greenland almost joins
America's north point, the hardy tribes
Of banish'd Jews, Siberians, Tartars wild
Came over icy mountains, or on floats
First reach'd these coasts, hid from the world beside.
And yet another argument more strange,
Reserv'd for men of deeper thought, and late,
Presents itself to view: In Peleg's1 days,
(So says the Hebrew seer's unerring pen)
This mighty mass of earth, this solid globe
Was cleft in twain, -"divided" east and west,
While straight between, the deep Atlantic roll'd.
And traces indisputable remain
Of this primeval land, now sunk and lost.
The islands rising in our eastern main
Are but small fragments of this continent,
Whose two extremities were New Foundland
And St. Helena. - One far in the north,
Where shivering seamen view with strange surprise
The guiding pole-star glittering o'er their heads;
The other near the southern tropic rears
Its head above the waves - Bermuda's isles,
Cape Verd, Canary, Britain and the Azores,
With fam'd Hibernia, are but broken parts
Of some prodigious waste, which once sustain'd
Nations and tribes, of vanish'd memory,
Forests and towns, and beasts of every class,
Where navies now explore their briny way.
Your sophistry, Eugenio, makes me smile:
The roving mind of man delights to dwell
On hidden things, merely because they're hid:
He thinks his knowledge far beyond all limit,
And boldly fathoms Nature's darkest haunts -
But for uncertainties, your broken isles,
Your northern Tartars, and your wandering Jews,
(The flimsy cobwebs of a sophist's brains)
Hear what the voice of history proclaims
The Carthagenians, ere the Roman yoke
Broke their proud spirits, and enslav'd them too,
For navigation were renown'd as much
As haughty Tyre with all her hundred fleets,
Full many a league their vent'rous seamen sail'd
Thro' streight Gibralter, down the western shore
Of Africa, to the Canary isles:
By them call'd Fortunate; so Flaccus 1 sings,
Because eternal spring there clothes the fields
And fruits delicious bloom throughout the year.-
From voyaging here, this inference I draw,
Perhaps some barque with all her numerous crew
Falling to leeward of her destin'd port,
Caught by the eastern Trade, was hurried on
Before the unceasing blast to Indian isles,
Brazil, La Plata, or the coasts more south
There stranded, and unable to return,
Forever from their native skies estrang'd
Doubtless they made these virgin climes their own,
And in the course of long revolving years
A numerous progeny from these arose,
And spread throughout the coasts those whom we call Brazilians, Mexicans, Peruvians rich,
The tribes of Chili, Patagon and those
Who till the shores of Amazon's long stream,
When first the power of Europe here attain'd
Vast empires, kingdoms, cities, palaces,
And polish'd nations stock'd the fertile land.
Who has not heard of Cuzco, Lima and
The town of Mexico - huge cities form'd
From Europe's architecture; ere the arms
Of haughty Spain disturb'd the peaceful soil. -
But here amid this northern dark domain
No towns were seen to rise. No arts were here;
The tribes unskill'd to raise the lofty mast,
Or force the daring prow thro' adverse waves,
Gaz'd on the pregnant soil, and crav'd alone
Life from the unaided genius of the ground,—
This indicates they were a different race;
From whom descended, 't is not ours to say
That power, no doubt, who furnish'd trees and plants,
And animals to this vast continent,
Spoke into being man among the rest,-
But what a change is here! what arts arise!
What towns and capitals! how commerce waves Her gaudy flags, where silence reign'd before!
Speak, my Eugenio, for I've heard you tell,
The dismal story, and the cause that brought
The first adventurers to these western shores;
The glorious cause that urg'd our fathers first
To visit climes unknown, and wilder woods
Than e'er Tartarian or Norwegian saw,
And with fair culture to adorn a soil
That never felt the industrious swain before.
All this long story to rehearse, would tire,
Besides, the sun toward the west retreats,
Nor can the noblest theme retard his speed,
Nor loftiest verse not that which sang the fall
Of Troy divine, and fierce Achilles' ire.
Yet hear a part: - by persecution wrong'd,
And sacerdotal rage, our fathers came
From Europe's hostile shores, to these abodes,
Here to enjoy a liberty in faith,
Secure from tyranny and base controul.
For this they left their country and their friends,
And dar'd the Atlantic wave in search of peace;
And found new shores, and sylvan settlements,
And men, alike unknowing and unknown.
Hence, by the care of each adventurous chief
New governments (their wealth unenvied yet)
Were form'd on liberty and virtue's plan.
These searching out uncultivated tracts
Conceiv'd new plans of towns, and capitals,
And spacious provinces. Why should I name
Thee, Penn, the Solon of our western lands
Sagacious legislator, whom the world.
Admires, long dead: an infant colony,
Nurs'd by thy care, now rises o'er the rest
Like that tall pyramid in Egypt's waste
O'er all the neighbouring piles, they also great.
Why should I name those heroes so well known,
Who peopled all the rest from Canada
To Georgia's farthest coast, West Florida,
Or Apalachian mountains ? Yet what streams
Of blood were shed! what Indian hosts were slain,
Before the days of peace were quite restor❜d!
Yes, while they overturn'd the rugged soil
And swept the forests from the shaded plain
'Midst dangers, foes, and death, fierce Indian tribes
With vengeful malice arm'd, and black design,
Oft murdered, or dispers'd, these colonies —
Encourag'd, too, by Gallia's hostile sons,
A warlike race, who late their arms display'd
At Quebec, Montreal, and farthest coasts
Of Labrador, or Cape Breton, where now
The British standard awes the subject host.
Here, those brave chiefs, who, lavish of their blood,
Fought in Britannia's cause, in battle fell! —
What heart but mourns the untimely fate of Wolfe
Who, dying, conquer'd! or what breast but beats
To share a fate like his, and die like him!
But why alone commemorate the dead,
And pass those glorious heroes by, who yet
Breathe the same air, and see the light with us? ·
The dead, Leander, are but empty names,
And they who fall to-day the same to us,
As they who fell ten centuries ago!
Lost are they all, that shin'd on earth before;
Rome's boldest champions in the dust are laid,
Ajax and great Achilles are no more,
And Philip's warlike son, an empty shade!
A Washington among our sons of fame
We boast conspicuous as the morning star
Among the inferior lights
To distant wilds Virginia sent him forth -
With her brave sons he gallantly oppos'd