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As these new cantos touch on warlike feats,
To you the unflattering muse deigns to inscribe Truths that
will not read in the gazettes, But which, 't is time to teach the hireling tribe Who fatten on their country's gore and debts,
Must be recited, and—without a bribe. You did great things ; but, not being great in mind, Have left undone the greatest—and mankind.
With which men image out the unknown thing /
Which still elsewhere may rouse a brighter spring : Death laughs at all you weep for ;-look upon
This hourly dread of all whose threaten'd sting Turns life to terror, even though in its sheath ! Mark! how its lipless mouth grins without breath!
And yet was what you are : from ear to ear
So call’d; the antic long hath ceased to hear, But still he smiles ; and whether near or far
He strips from man that mantle—(far more dear Than even the tailor's)—his incarnate skin, White, black, or copper—the dead bones will grin,
But still it is so ; and with such example
With his superior, in a smile to trample Upon the nothings which are daily spent
Like bubbles on an ocean much less ample Than the eternal deluge, which devours Suns as rays—worlds like atoms_years like hours ?
XIV. “To be, or not to be! that is the question,"
Says Shakspeare, who just now is much in fashion, I am neither Alexander nor Hephæstion,
Nor ever had for abstract fame much passion ; But would much rather have a sound digestion,
Than Bonaparte's cancer :-could I dash on Through fifty victories to shame or fame, Without a stomach—what were a good name?
XV. “Oh, dura ilia messorum! Oh,
Ye rigid guts of reapers !”-I translate
What indigestion is—that inward fate
A peasant's sweat is worth his lord's estate :
XVI. “ To be, or not to be!"--Ere I decide,
I should be glad to know that which is being. 'T is true we speculate both far and wide,
And deem, because we see, we are all-seeing : For my part, I 'll enlist on neither side,
Until I see both sides for once agreeing. For me, I sometimes think that life is death, Rather than life a mere affair of breath.
As also of the first academicians;
Was one of their most favourite positions.
As any of mortality's conditions :
Like Pyrrho, on a sea of speculation ;
Your wise men don't know much of navigation ; And swimming long in the abyss of thought
Is apt to tire : a calm and shallow station Well nigh the shore, where one stoops down and gathers Some pretty shell, is best for moderate bathers.
XIX. “ But heaven," as Cassio says, " is above all.
No more of this then, let us pray!” We have
Which tumbled all mankind into the grave,
Is special providence,” though how it gave
Oh, thou too mortal man! what is philanthropy ?
Some people have accused me of misanthropy ; And yet I know no more than the mahogany
That forms this desk, of what they mean :- - lycanthropy I comprehend; for, without transformation, Men become wolves on any slight occasion.
Like Moses, or Melancthon, who have ne'er
And (though I could not now and then forbear
Have always had a tendency to spare,
XXII. 'T is time we should proceed with our good poem,
For I maintain that it is really good,
However little both are understood
Herself in her sublimest attitude :
to the chief city Of the immortal Peter's polish'd boors,
Who still have shown themselves more brave than witty ; I know its mighty empire now allures
Much flattery-even Voltaire's, and that 's a pity.
My chance so happen—deeds) with all who war
Tyrants and sycophants have been and are.
Have such a prescience, it should be no bar To this my plain, sworn, downright detestation Of every despotism in every nation.
Without me there are demagogues enough,
stuff. Whether they may sow scepticism to reap hell,
As is the christian dogma rather rough,
I shall offend all parties :-never mind!
Than if I sought to sail before the wind.
Who neither wishes to be bound nor bind,
I 've heard them in the Ephesian ruins howl
Power's base purveyors, who for pickings prowl, And scent the prey their masters would attack all.
However, the poor jackals are less foul (As being the brave lions' keen providers) Than human insects, catering for spiders.
And without that, their poison and their claws
(Or rather peoples)-go on without pause! The web of these tarantulas each day Increases, till
shall make common cause :
with the dispatch, Where blood was talk'd of as we would of water ;
And carcasses that lay as thick as thatch O'er silenced cities, merely served to flatter
Fair Catherine's pastime—who look'd on the match Between these nations as a main of cocks, Wherein she liked her own to stand like rocks.
XXX. And there in a kibitka he rollid on
(A cursed sort of carriage without springs, Which on rough roads leaves scarcely a whole bone),
Pondering on glory, chivalry, and kings,
And wishing that post-horses had the wings
He turn'd his eyes upon his little charge,
Than he, in these sad highways left at large
Who is no pavier, nor admits a barge
To be the first of what we used to call 6 Gentlemen farmers”.
'-a race worn out quite, Since lately there have been no rents at all, And “gentlemen" are in a piteous plight,
And í farmers" can't raise Ceres from her fall : She fell with Bonaparte :—What strange thoughts Arise, when we see emperors fall with oats!,
Whom he had saved from slaughter—what a trophy! Oh !
who build monuments, defiled
And scarce to the Mogul a cup of coffee
That one life saved, especially if young
Far sweeter than the greenest laurels sprung From the manure of human clay, though deck'd
With all the praises ever said or sung : Though hymn’d by every harp, unless within Your heart joins chorus, fame is but a din.