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Its tumid fervour, and tempestuous course;
Kind Nature tempts not to such gifts as these.
But here in livid ripeness melts the grape :
Here, finish'd by invigorating suns,
Through the green shade the golden orange glows:
Spontaneous here the turgid melon yields
A generous pulp: the cocoa swells on high
With milky riches; and in horrid mail
The crisp ananas wraps its poignant sweets.
Earth's vaunted progeny; in ruder air
Too coy to flourish, even too proud to live;
Or hardly rais'd by artificial fire
To vapid life. Here with a mother's smile
Glad Amalthea pours her copious horn.
Here buxom Ceres reigns: the autumnal sea
In boundless billows fluctuates o'er their plains.
What suits the climate best, what suits the men,
Nature profuses most and most the taste
Demands. The fountain, edg'd with racy wine
Or acid fruit, bedews their thirsty souls.
The breeze eternal breathing round their limbs
Supports in else intolerable air :
While the cool palm, the plantain, and the grove
That waves on gloomy Lebanon, assuage
The torrid Hell that beams upon their heads.
N come, ye Naiads, to the fountains lead; Now let me wander through your gelid reign. I burn to view th' enthusiastic wilds By mortal else untrod. I hear the din Of waters thund'ring o'er the ruin'd cliffs. With holy reverence I approach the rocks Whence glide the streams renown'd in ancient song:
Here from the desert down the rumbling steep
First springs the Nile; here bursts the sounding Po
In angry waves; Euphrates hence devolves
A mighty flood to water half the East:
And there, in Gothic solitude reclin'd,
The cheerless Tanais pours his hoary urn.
What solemn twilight! what stupendous shades
Enwrap these infant floods! through every nerve
A sacred horrour thrills, a pleasing fear
Glides o'er my frame. The forest deepens round;
And more gigantic still th' impending trees
Stretch their extravagant arms athwart the gloom.
Are these the confines of some fairy world?
A land of genii? Say, beyond these wilds
What unknown nations? if, indeed, ond
Aught habitable lies. And whither leads,
To what strange regions, or of bliss or pain,
That subterraneous way? Propitious maids,
Conduct me, while with fearful steps I tread
This trembling ground. The task remains to sing
Your gifts (so Pæon, so the powers of health
Command,) to praise your crystal element:
The chief ingredient in Heaven's various works:
Whose flexile genius sparkles in the gem,
Grows firm in oak, and fugitive in wine;
The vehicle, the source, of nutriment
And life, to all that vegetate or live.
O comfortable streams! with eager lips
And trembling hand the languid thirsty quaff
New life in you; fresh vigour fills their veins.
No warmer cups the rural ages knew ;
None warmer sought the sires of human kind.
Happy in temperate peace! their equal days
Felt not th' alternate fits of feverish mirth,
And sick dejection. Still serene and pleas'd
They knew no pains but what the tender soul
With pleasure yields to, and would ne'er forget.
Blest with divine immunity from ails,
Long centuries they liv'd; their only fate
Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death.
Oh! could those worthies from the world of gods
Return to visit their degenerate sons,
How would they scorn the joys of modern time,
With all our art and toil improv'd to pain!
Too happy they! but wealth brought luxury,
And luxury on sloth begot disease.
Learn temperance, friends; and hear without dis-
The choice of water. Thus the Coan sage *
Opin'd, and thus the learn'd of ev'ry school.
What least of foreign principles partakes
Is best: the lightest then; what bears the touch
Of fire the least, and soonest mounts in air;
The most insipid; the most void of smell.
Such the rude mountain from his horrid sides
Pours down; such waters in the sandy vale
For ever boil, alike of winter frosts
And summer's heat secure The crystal stream,
Through rocks resounding, or for many a mile [pure,
O'er the chaf'd pebbles hurl'd, yields wholesome,
And mellow draughts; except when winter thaws,
And half the mountains melt into the tide.
Though thirst were e'er so resolute, avoid
The sordid lake, and all such drowsy floods
As fill from Lethe Belgia's slow canals;
(With rest corrupt, with vegetation green;
Squalid with generation, and the birth
Of little monsters ;) till the power of fire
Has from profane embraces disengag'd
The violated lymph. The virgin stream
In boiling wastes its finer soul in air.
Nothing like simple element dilutes
The food, or gives the chyle so soon to flow.
But where the stomach, indolent and cold,
Toys with its duty, animate with wine
Th' insipid stream: though golden Ceres yields
A more voluptuous, a more sprightly draught;
Perhaps more active. Wine unmix'd, and all
The gluey floods that from the vex'd abyss
of fermentation spring; with spirit fraught,
And furious with intoxicating fire;
Retard concoction, and preserve unthaw'd
Th' embodied mass. You see what countless years,
Embalm'd in fiery quintessence of wine,
The puny wonders of the reptile world,
The tender rudiments of life, the slim
Unravellings of minute anatomy,
Maintain their texture, and unchang'd remain.
We curse not wine: the vile excess we blame; More fruitful than th' accumulated board, Of pain and misery. For the subtle draught Faster and surer swells the vital tide; And with more active poison than the floods Of grosser crudity convey, pervades
The far remote meanders of our frame.
Ah! sly deceiver! branded o'er and o'er,
Yet still believ'd! exulting o'er the wreck
Of sober vows! But the Parnassian maids
Another time, perhaps, shall sing the joys *,
The fatal charms, the many woes of wine;
Perhaps its various tribes and various powers.
Meantime, I would not always dread the bowl,
Nor every trespass shun. The feverish strife,
Rous'd by the rare debauch, subdues, expels
The loitering crudities that burden life;
And, like a torrent full and rapid, clears
Th' obstructed tubes. Besides, this restless world
Is full of chances, which, by habit's power,
To learn to bear is easier than to shun.
Ah! when ambition, meagre love of gold,
Or sacred country calls, with mellowing wine
To moisten well the thirsty suffrages;
Say how, unseason'd to the midnight frays
Of Comus and his rout, wilt thou contend,
With Centaurs long to hardy deeds inur'd?
Then learn to revel; but by slow degrees:
By slow degrees the liberal arts are won;
And Hercules grew strong. But when you smooth
The brows of care, indulge your festive vein
In cups by well-inform'd experience found
The least your bane; and only with your friends.
There are sweet follies; frailties to be seen
By friends alone, and men of generous minds.
Oh! seldom may the fated hours return
Of drinking deep! I would not daily taste,
See Book IV.