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And, lo! arrives Menesthus with his guile, Hiding sly death beneath his damned smile: And mark the contrast ;-mark, how worth bestows Rightful pre-eminence o'er pompous shows! In all the gorgeousness of pride array'd, Behold the littleness of vice display'd, As to the good he reverently bows, Albeit no coronet invest his brows; And pays to virtues that he never knew, Of praise the tribute and the honour due; Yet while he means to flatter speaks but sooth, To ears that welcome not the faithless truth. Worth, triumph! for thy simple garments are Than regal robes more honourable far;And all the train that gives a monarch awe, Must yield to virtue on a bed of straw!
"Twas in their garden, that the sylvan pair Receiv'd the courtier with a welcome air: Accomplish'd they in amiable arts,
Yet uncorrupted were their native hearts.
Known even in obscurity, they knew
The great on earth, and gave them honour due;
Yet more they lov'd the rural life, than all
That erring men the highest honour call;
And they, contented with their humbler lot,
Refus'd to change the valley and the cot,
For proud ambition's palaces of strife,
And lose the softer happiness of life.
Far other answer was the courtier's hope,
Yet all the serpent in him rous'd to cope
The good man's arguments, and painted fair
The court in hues that might engage his care.
His king, he said, had of his virtues heard,
Seen them, and will'd that they should be preferr'd;
Such worth as his would shed a kindred beam,
And to the people flow the glorious stream:
"Not only thou, but thine-son-friends-shall be
One with thy fortune, and advanced in thee;
Glory will crown thy temples with her beams,
And knowledge open her abundant streams,
The nectar of the soul, upon thy mind;
And thine administration bless mankind.
Thus will thy virtues be exalted o'er
The narrow bounds that circumscrib'd before,
And full space given to thy boundless soul
To overflow in love without controul,
And all thy days be cheer'd with happiness,
And every muse and grace combine to bless."
Sabina mark'd her husband's kindling eye,
As thus, with honest zeal, he made reply:-
"Pardon my zeal, if I too zealous be;
But thou, and the occasion, claim from me,
I should disclose my secret soul to thee.
Your courts should be the mirror of the right,
But shew a glass delusive to the sight,
Where prosp❜rous vice and guilt dress'd fairer be
Than virtue's self, and more esteem'd than she.
Infatuating cheat of power unblest!
The will the law, and happiness the quest;
For ever sought, but ever unpossess❜d.
Weak men! who deem that happiness there reigns,
Who never yet hath left the sylvan plains,
And maddening wrestle for those gay domains.
Behold, they view the stately fabric o'er,
And feast their eyes,-then worship, and adore;
They enter, and the height of honour gain;
Excess of pleasure next,-whose end is pain!
Falsely secure they triumph, kenning not
The worm beneath! The pompous columns rot!
The glittering domes,-alas! they fall, they fall,-
Hark! hark! the crash! gaunt ruin covereth all!
Futile and credulous men! did ye not know
The reptile Envy ceaseless toil'd below?
Did ye not know, guile did those arches rear,
Made first to dazzle, then to allure you there!
But slightly held,-that when you venture in,
Pond'rous they fall, and crush you with your sin!
Happiness dwells not with you, sons of pride!
But pleasures vain that happiness deride,
And mock the plaint of care with seeming smiles,
That have not substance to repay your toils;
They trill their songs around the wearied head,
But cradle turbulence within their bed;
Trouble and anxious thoughts, that they pretend
To sooth, but nourish, and create, and blend:
Thus they delude you, and ye credit yet,
And revel in their lap without regret.
And would ye poise them too with nature's charms?
Substantial joys with artificial forms?
I'll be the advocate of nature's part,
Whose firm delights are centred in the heart.
Friend of the king! lend me thy patient ear,
While with your pleasures, nature's I compare.
Boast ye your music?-Hark! the op'ning day,
The feather'd songsters startle with their lay:-
These from the city flee; no sylvan bower
Is there, defensive in the evil hour:
The rising sun they greet, to you not seen
His first dim rays he darts athwart the
And sure 'tis sweet, behind the orient steep,
Το see the
young Aurora's blushes peep;
The tender lustre that is shed above,
Around creation, like a look of love;
That kindles in the heart a glowing sense
Of sympathy and kindred influence.
The whiles the minstrels of the vocal shade,
Chorus their songs of pleasure unallay'd,
Congenial with the morn, and tune the mind
To the full genial love of human kind.
How sweet the incense, at this hour of prime,
Of nature's breath,--how precious is this time!
To musing thought delightful!-and the mood
Of man it sweetens too, to render good,
For good imparted him.-O, I could dwell
On this delicious season, and much tell
Of the eternal bosom of the blue,-
The awakening beauty,-the poetic dew,-
'Till night enwrapt the pole : so loth my heart
From the pure pleasures of the dawn to part.
But can courts comprehend these pleasures pure,
Where art on nature shuts the hostile door;
Where half the morn is spent in troubled sleep,
That night the longer may its wassails keep?
What sing your bards upon the genuine lyre,
Who burn with all the true, celestial fire?
They sing of nature! All these fertile plains
Live in their pastoral songs, their most Elysian strains.
If faint description can delight infuse,
What then to prove the pleasures of the muse?
To see-to hear-the torrent from the steep
Fall loud, and strike the music of the deep;
Warbling in one complete aquatic tone,
As dashing, vast in mist, from stone to stone!
Careless the shepherd lies along the ground,
And muses on the sweetly-falling sound,
Which whispers slumber from the cavern'd glades,
Where bright Aurora lock'd the darkling shades:
Unwitting sleeps he, till the buxom fair
Amorously wakes him, as she passes there.
What pleasure, hence,-to meditate upon
Heaven's vast blue arch skirting creation,
To view the distant prospect, rising high,
Until it mingle with the cloud-streak'd sky,
Where fields of corn enraptured vision meet
With smiling gold, bright stream, and pasture sweet;
Goats on the mountain,-lambs upon the mead;
Here the proud bull, and there the neighing steed;
And the rude lab'rer, at his cheerful toil,
Shouts his blithe song, while husbanding the soil!
Match me these pleasures! and your grandeur, yea,
Is less than a bright cloud's, and sooner fades away.
Upon a splendid throne the monarch sits,
His radiant crown a gleamy ray emits ;
How to the sun inferior, who on high
Reigns o'er the mighty circle of the sky!
His throne, the broad expanded arch of heaven,
Sublimer far than that to monarchs given!
When he attains his full meridian height,
And beams o'er earth insufferable light,
Where nought obstructs the compass of the view,
That flowers scarce eye the god of all their hue :
What regal court, so sumptuously gay,
Can equal that great paragon of day?
I grant the sun is seen in cities proud,
But his full reign the crowded turrets shroud.
The fructuous foliage of the summer trees,
What tapestry can match?-like theirs, what odours please?
Equal your carpets this, by hand divine
Of nature laid? Boast ye their figur'd shine?
Behold the green adorn'd with florets fair,
Of every hue the artist mingles there!
The arches which the gilded roof sustain,
Compar'd with yonder forest, show but vain;
But Ida's rock, whose summit bears the skies,
All competition with his vast defies!
Thus, sylvan and court glory I display,
The pride of courts, vain glitter of a day!
Should war its sanguine streamers hoist on high,
And desolation sweep along the sky,
Magnificence and art, like insects, die!
E'en time will soon erase the artist's toil,
And may the very science quite despoil.
Though war th' abortive harvest shall confound,
Or winter hoar make barren all the ground,
Renewed by th' indefatigable hand,
In undiminish'd glory blooms the land!
Ay-e'en the clouds, albeit so mutable,
Weave o'er the welkin wide a gorgeous spell,
Where the fantastic eye may gaze away
On its own visions all a summer's day.
See! wrathful Jove rise in his rolling car,
And the steeds trample on the falling war,
And soar in gloom and might, victoriously,
Into the champaign of the brighter sky,
(Hiding the azure with their shadowy pride,)
In scorn, as 'twere, of that dark spot where died
Titans in their rebellion, and still die,
And so depart, like shadows, from on high,
Dissolv'd, and vanish'd,-whither ?-Now, behold
In their void place a pageant new unfold;
Tower,-pyramid,-cities of adamant,-
Processions where the horse and elephant
Plunge with their riders haughtily, and, champing
The curb to film, make the clouds smoke with stamping.
Such are the gambols of the clouds; and, man,
Their grandeur go and equal, if you can!
Thus nature above art erects her throne, Various her works, and totally her own: Exclusive some, as fair or wondrous stand, And some unite the pleasing with the grand!"
The courtier enter'd in the happy cot,
Where polish'd courtesy was ne'er forgot;
But theirs not that, create of specious art,
But the free largess of the bounteous heart.
Troubled, confounded with his ill success,
He fain would enter not, but may no less,
Sued by Sabina, blushing every grace
That ever mind impress'd upon the face;
And, while she spake, her voice most musical,
In sweetness seem'd to rise, in sweetness fall;
And all the attention they to him display'd,
But troubled him, confounded, and dismay'd;
Not unperceiv'd,-till wearied with his stay,
Abrupt he parted, and retrac'd his way.
He left behind him doubt; suspicion grew
On all they saw and felt, and heard, and knew ;
Sabina's heart, like the wild wave of ocean,
Heav'd with strange fear, and undefin'd emotion.
Anon the silent tears her eyes enshroud,
Like two bright stars behind a dewy cloud;
This saw Aristes, and her hand he press'd,
Then from her cheek the pearly drop caress'd;
On her then he affectionately smil'd,
And rising gladness cheer'd her visage mild:
So, when the western sun shines on the moon,
Beams her face brightness from her starry throne,
Bold ocean's travellers bless the joyful light,
That guides them through the foam of errant night.