"The Land Of Scholars And The Nurse Of Arms"
Context: The poet addresses his work to his brother, who, although poor, has a happy and contented home life. The poet is a traveler in foreign lands, which he characterizes as to their physical features and the nature of their people, from those living in the arctic to those in the tropics. He discovers that the natives of all lands find their own to be the best. Italy, for instance, is blessed with a benign climate that aids in the production of a profusion of fruits and flowers; but the people, though poor, are too much given to a love of luxury; though submissive, they are vain; though grave, they are trifling; though zealous, they are untrue. They suffer greatly from a realization of departed wealth, which produced a host of architectural monuments that still exist to remind them of their past glories. The Swiss, on the other hand, live in a bleak land with a sufficiency of the necessities of life but no luxuries. The people are good and industrious, but lack the graces. France is a country filled with gay and sprightly people, but they pay too much attention to honor. Their desire for honor leads them into lives of vulgar ostentation. Holland, wrested from the sea, is wealthy, but the people are too likely to stoop to unworthy acts in their desire for gold. The result is a land of tyrants and of slaves. Britain is singularly blessed in its climate, and freedom flourishes in the land. The British, however, are too independent and tend to keep themselves apart from others. Because of this tendency there is continual faction, and there is also a general lack of affection; these characteristics may lead to the growth of avarice and the decline of the nation which has for ages been famous for scholarship and military prowess.
Nor this the worst. As nature's ties decay,As duty, love, and honor fail to sway,Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.Hence all obedience bows to these alone,And talent sinks, and merit weeps unknown:Till time may come, when, stript of all her charms,The land of scholars and the nurse of arms,Where noble stems transmit the patriot flame,Where kings have toiled and poets wrote for fame,One sink of level avarice shall lie,And scholars, soldiers, kings, unhonored die.