Thrice happy they in days of old
Who liv'd - it was an age of gold;
Content, with what the bounteous ſoil
Beſtow'd abundant, without toil.
Ere baneful luxury began
To mix the poiſon'd cup of man,
Ripe fruits and herbs his wholeſome food
Supplied, - nor thirſted he for blood; -
On hills ſecurely fed the flocks,
Safe in the paſstures graz'd the ox. -
The painful bee's ambroſial dew,
That healthful precious balm he knew:
But knew not, from the juicy vine,
To draw the dangerous charms of wine.
To ſhine in ſplendid dreſs admir'd,
He, unambitious, ne'er aſpir'd;
The Tyrian dyes were unreveal'd,
The diamond's luſtre lay conceal'd.
Serenely pleaſant paſs'd his days,
His wants were few, - and ſerv'd with eaſe:
The flow'ry lawn - his fragrant bed,
The zeyhyrs bland - his ſlumbers fed,
The purling ſtream's tranſlucent wave
Delightful beverage to him gave;
The ſhadowy pine a cool retreat
Afforded, from the noon-tide heat.
Fir'd with inſatiate thirſt of gain,
No bold advent'rers plow'd the main,
And madly tempted untried ſhores,
By commerce to encreaſe their ſtores.
The martial trumpet's loud alarms
Rous'd not theſe ſons of peace to arms;
Unſkill'd in war's deteſted trade,
In purple gore the ſhining blade
They dyed not, nor the thirſty plain
Strow'd with the wounded and the ſlain.
For what could ſtimulate their rage
In impious battles to engage,
When death, or many a gaping wound,
Was all the meed that valour crown'd?
O could we ſee thoſe golden times,
So guiltleſs, ſo averſe from crimes,
Return, and bleſs the earth again! -
But that fond wiſh, alas, how vain!
Man's thirſt of wealth what can aſſuage?
Not Etna's fires more fiercely rage. -
Curs'd be the wretch who op'd the mine,
And gave the flaming gold to ſhine;
Th' unnumber'd ills that vex the earth,
To that dire miſchief owe their birth.