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Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
due visits, and address the fair:
In fact, 'tis true, no nymphs we could persuade,
But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid;
Of unknown dutchesses lewd tales we tell,
Yet, would the world believe us, all were well.
The joy let others have, and we the name,
And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.'
The queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies,
And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
Pleased with the same success, vast numbers press'd
Around the shrine, and made the same request:
'What you,' she cried, 'unlearn'd in arts to please,
Slaves to yourselves, and e'en fatigued with ease,
Who lose a length of undeserving days,
Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise?
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 faith could fix,
Of crooked counsels and dark politics:
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make the 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.
This having heard and seen, some power unknown Straight changed the scene, and snatch'd me from the Before my view appear'd a structure fair, ts 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 skics,
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, arouna
Confused, unnumber'd multitudes are found.
Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away;
Hosts raised 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 stared in every face.
The flying rumours gather'd as they roll'd,
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 it 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 advance;
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 with the moon.
Around, a thousand winged wonders fly,
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,
The 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 envied, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profess'd,
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 cost 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 fallen 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 !'
THERE lived in Lombardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight,
Of gentle manners, as of generous race,
Bless'd with much sense, more riches, and some grace,
Yet, led astray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites :
For long ago, let priests say what they could,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more:
Whether pure holiness inspired his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find:
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heavenly powers his constant praye
Once ere he died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortified with reasons still
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir:
To soothe his cares, and, free from noise and strbe,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful bachelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unawed by precepts human or divine,
Like birds and beasts promiscuously they join:
Nor know to make the present blessing last,
To hope the future, or esteem the past:
But vainly boast the joys they never tried,
And find divulged the secrets they would hide.
The married man may bear his yoke with ease,
Secure at once himself and Heaven to please;
And pass his inoffensive hours away,
In bliss all night, and innocence all day :