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ON A DISTANT
PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.
"Ανθρωπος, ικανή πρόφασις εις το δυστυχεϊν.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the wat’ry glade,
Her Henry's ' holy shade;
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
His silver-winding way:
Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shade!
Ah, fields belov'd in vain!
A stranger yet to pain!
1 King Henry the Sixth, founder of the College.
As waving fresh their gladsome wing, My weary soul they seem to sooth, And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race
The paths of pleasure trace;
The captive linnet which enthral?
Or urge the flying ball ?
While some on earnest business bent,
Their murm'ring labours ply 'Gainst graver hours that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
And unknown regions dare descry:
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest ; The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast :
Theirs buxom health, of sosy hue,
And lively cheer, of vigour born;
That fly th' approach of morn.
The little victims play;
Nor care beyond to-day:
And black Misfortune's baleful train! Ah, show them where in ambush stand, To seize their prey, the murd'rous band !
Ah, tell them they are men !
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind, Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks bebind; Or pining Love shall waste their youth, Or Jealousy, with rankling tooth,
That inly gnaws the secret heart; And Envy wan, and faded Care, Grim-visag'd comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow's piercing dart. Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high, To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try
That mocks the tear it fore’d to flow;
Amid severest woe.
Lo! in the vale of years beneath,
A grisly troop are seen,
More hideous than their queen :
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
And slow-consuming Age.
To each his suff'rings: all are men,
Condemn'd alike to groan;
Th’unfeeling for his own.
And happiness too swiftly flies?
'Tis folly to be wise,