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To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall,
The people's fable, and the scorn of all."
Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound,
Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round,
Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud,
And scornful hisses run through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done,
Enslave their country, or usurp a throne !
Or who their glory's dire foundation laid
On sovereigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd :
Calm, thinking villains, whom no falth could fix,
Of crooked counsels and dark politics;
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make th' immortal treasons known.
The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire,
With sparks that seem'd to set the world on fire.
At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast,
And startled Nature trembled with the blast, [known
This having heard and seen, some power unStraight chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from
Before my view appear'd a structure fair,
Its site uncertain, if in earth or air ;
With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round;
With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound;
Not less in number were the spacious doors,
Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores;
Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day,
Pervious to winds, and open every way.
As flames by nature to the skies ascend,
As weighty bodies to the centre tend,
As to the sea returning rivers roll,
And the touch'd needle trembles to the Pole;
Hither, as to their proper place, arise
All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear;
Nor ever silence, rest, or peace, is here.
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes
The sinking stone at first a circle makes;
The trembling surface, by the motion stirr'd,
Spreads in a second circle, then a third ;
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance,
Fill all the watery plain, and to the margin dance:
Thus every voice and sound, when first they break,
On neighbouring air a soft impression make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above;
Through undulating air the sounds are sent,
And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and strife,
Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life,
Of loss and gain, of famine and of store,
Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents seen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of fortune, changes in the state,
The falls of favourites, projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new :
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around, Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away; Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day: Astrologers, that future fates foreshow, Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands
With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands;
Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place,
And wild impatience star'd in every face.
The flying rumours gather'd as they rollid,
Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new,
And all who heard it made enlargements too,
In every ear it spread, on every tongue
grew. Thus flying east and west, and north' and south, News travell’d with increase from mouth to mouth. So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, With gathering force the quickening flames ad
vance ; Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire, And towers and temples sink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung, Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow, And rush in millions on the world below; Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course, Their date determines, and prescribes their force : Some to remain, and some to perish soon; Or wane and wax alternate like the Moon. Around a thousand winged wonders fly, [the sky. Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through
There, at one passage, oft you might survey A lie and truth contending for the way; And long 'twas doubtful, though so closely pent, Which first should issue through the narrow vent: At last agreed, together out they fly, Inseparable now the truth and lie;
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix’d, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear:
“ What could thus high thy rash ambition raise ?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise ?”
“ 'Tis true,” said I, “ not void of hopes I came,
For who so fond, as youthful bards of Fame ?
But few, alas! the casual blessing boast,
So hard to gain, so easy to be lost.
How vain that second life in others breath,
Th' estate which wits inherit after death!
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine !)
The great man's curse, without the gains, endure,
Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatrer'd, poor ;
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price
As soothing Folly, or exalting Vice :
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where Fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fall’n ruins of another's fame;
Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise ;
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown ;
Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none !"
FROM OVID'S METAMORPHOSES, BOOK IX.
She said, and for her lost Galanthis sighs,
When the fair consort of her son replies :
Since you a servant's ravish'd form bemoan,
And kindly sigh for sorrows not your own;
Let me (if tears and grief permit) relate
A nearer woe, a sister's stranger fate.
No nymph of all Echalia could compare
For beauteous form with Dryope the fair,
Her tender mother's only hope and pride
(Myself the offering of a second bride).
This nymph, compress'd by him who rules the day,
Whom Delphi and the Delian isle obey,
Andræmon lov'd; and, bless'd in all those charms
That pleas’d a god, succeeded to her arms.
A lake there was, with shelving banks around,
Whose verdant summit fragrant myrtles crown'd.
These shades, unknowing of the Fates, she sought,
And to the Naiads flowery garlands brought;
Her smiling babe (a pleasing charge) she prest
Within her arms, and nourish'd at her breast.
Not distant far, a watery lotos grows;
The spring was new,
and all the verdant boughs, Adorn’d with blossoms, promis'd fruits that vie In glowing colours with the Tyrian dye: Of these she cropp'd to please her infant son; And I myself the same rash act had done; But lo! I saw (as near her side I stood) The violated blossoms drop with blood.