Abbildungen der Seite

Troy flam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne ARMS AND THE MAN in golden cyphers shone.

Four swans sustain a car of silver bright, [flight: With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode, And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring god. Across the harp a careless hand he flings, And boldly sinks into the sounding strings. The figur'd games of Greece the column grace, Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race. The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run; The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone; The champions in distorted postures threat; And all appear'd irregularly great.

Here happy Horace tun'd th' Ausonian lyre To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire: Pleas'd with Alcaus' manly rage t' infuse The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse. The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace; A work outlasting monumental brass. Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear, The Julian star and great Augustus here. The doves that round the infant poet spread Myrtles and bays, hung hovering o'er his head. Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light, Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite; His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd, And various animals his sides surround; His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.

With equal rays immortal Tully shone, The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne: Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand. Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns, And the great father of his country owns.

These massy columns in a circle rise,

O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies:
Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat
With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great;
The vivid emeralds there revive the eye,
The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye,
Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream,
And lucid amber casts a golden gleam.
With various-colour'd light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne;
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.

When on the goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; 259
But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd,
Till to the roof her towering front she rais'd.
With her, the temple every moment grew,
And ampler vistas open'd to my view:
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form, as antient bards have told,
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold;


Ver. 259. Scarce scem'd her stature, &c.]
Methought that she was so lite,
That the length of a cubite
Was longer than she seemed be;
But thus soone in a while she,
Herself tho wonderly straight,
That with her feet she the Earth right,
And with her head she touchyd Heaven→→→

A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears,
And thousand open eyes, and thousand listening



Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine:
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise their voice, and tune the string;
With Time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days

Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations, summon'd at the call,
From different quarters fill the crowded hall:
of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd;
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,

Or, settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crouds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old-age.
Their pleas were different, their request the same;
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours
Unlike successes equal merits found. [crown'd; 294
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And undiscerning scatters crowns and chains.

First at the shrine the learned world appear, And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer. "Long have we sought t' instruct and please mankind,

With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For Fame is all we must expect below."


Ver. 270. Beneath, in order rang'd, &c.]
I heard about her throne y-sung
That all the palays walls rung,
So sung the mighty Muse, she
That cleped is Calliope,
And her seven sisters eke-

The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise The golden trumpet of eternal Praise: From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound, That fills the circuit of the world around;

Ver. 276. Around these wonders, &c.}
I heard a noise approachen blive,
That far'd as bees done in a hive,
Against her time of out-flying,
Right such a manere murmuring,
For all the world it seemed me,
Tho gan I look about and see
That there came entering into th' hall,
A right great company withal;
And that of sundry regions,
Of all kind of conditions, &c.
Ver. 294. Some she disgrac'd, &c.]

And some of them she granted sone,
And some she warned well and fair,
And some she granted the contrair→→
Right as her sister, dame Fortune,
Is wont to serve in commune.


Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they every moment rise,
Fill the wide Earth, and gain upon the skies.
At every breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter, as they wider spread:
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.

Next these the good and just, an awful train, 318 Thus on their knees address the sacred fane. "Since living virtue is with envy curs'd, And the best men are treated like the worst, Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth, And give each deed th' exact intrinsic worth." "Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd," (Said Fame)" but high above desert renown'd: Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze, And the loud clarion labour in your praise."

This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd 328 Prefer'd the same request, and lowly bow'd; The constant tenour of whose well-spent days No less deserv'd a just return of praise, But straight the direful trump of Slander sounds; Through the big dome the doubling thunder bounds;

Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies,
The dire report through every region flies,
In every ear incessant rumours rung,
And gathering scandals grew on every tongue.
From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke 338
Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke:
The poisonous vapour blots the purple skies,
And withers all before it as it flies.


Ver. 318. The good and just, &c.]
Tho came the third companye,
And gan up to the dees to hye,
And down on knees they fell anone,
And saiden: "We been everichoné
Folke that han full truely
Deserved fame right-fully,
And prayen you it might be knowe
Right as it is, and forth blowe."

"I grant," quoth she, "for now we list
That your good works shall be wist,
And yet ye shall have better loos,
Right in despite of all your foos,
Than worthy is, and that anone.
Let now," quoth she, "thy trump gone-"
And certes all the breath that went
Out of his trump's mouth smel'd
As men a pot of baume held
Among a basket full of roses.—
Ver. 328, 338. Behold another croud, &c.→→→
From the black trumpet's rusty, &c.]
Therewithal there came anone
Another huge companye

Of good folke

What did this Eolus, but he
Took out his trump of brass,
That fouler than the Devil was:
And gan his trump for to blowe,
As all the world should overthrowe,
Throughout every regione
Went this foul trumpet's soune
Swift as a pellet out of a gunne,
When fire is in the powder runne.
And such a smoke gan out wende,
Out of the foul trumpet's ende-&c.

A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defiance in their looks they bore: "For thee" (they cry'd) "amidst alarms and strife, We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life; For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood, And swam to empire through the purple flood. Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own; What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone." "Ambitious fools!" (the queen reply'd, and frown'd) "Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd; There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone, Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!" A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight,

| And each majestic phantom sunk in night.

Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; 356 Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien. "Great idol of mankind! we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to Fame! But, safe in deserts from th' applause of men, Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen. 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite O let us still the secret joys partake, To follow Virtue ev'n for Virtue's sake."

"And live there men, who slight immortal Fame? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But, mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride, To blaze those virtues which the good would hide, Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath; These must not sleep in darkness and in death." She said in air the trembling music floats, And on the winds triumphant swell the notes; So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear, Ev'n listening angels lean from Heaven to hear: To farthest shores th' ambrosial spirit flies, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.

Next these a youthful train their vows express'd, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd:

[merged small][ocr errors]


Ver, 356. Then came the smallest, &c.]
I saw anone the fifth route,
That to this lady gau loute,
And downe on knees anone to fall,
And to her they besoughten all,
To hiden their good works ekc.
And said, they yeve not a leko
For no fame ne such renowne;
For they for contemplacyoune,
And Goddes love had it wrought,
Ne of fame would they ought.

"What," quoth she, "and be ye wood

And ween ye for to do good,
And for to have it of no fame?
Have ye despite to have my name?
Nay ye shall lien everichone:
Blow thy trump, and that anone"
(Quoth she) "thou Eolus, I hote,
And ring these folks works by wrote,
That all the world may of it heare:"
And he gan blow their loos so cleare,
In his golden clarioune,
Through the world went the sonne,
All so kindly, and eke so soft,
That ther fame was blown aloft.

Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays;
Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days;
Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
To pay due visits, and address the fair:
In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuado,
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.

Pleas'd with the same success, vast numbers prest Around the shrine, and made the same request : "What you," (she cry'd)"unlearn'd in arts to please, Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n 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 croud.

[ocr errors]

Last those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave their country, or usurp a throne; [406 Or who their glory's dire foundation lay'd 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 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.

This having heard and seen, some power unknown 418 Straight chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from the throne,


Ver. 406. Last, those who boast of mighty, &c.] Tho came another companye,

That had y-done the treachery, &c.

Ver. 418. This having heard and seen, &c.] The scene here changes from the Temple of Fame, to that of Rumour, which is almost entirely Chaucer's. The particulars follow,

Tho saw I stonde in a valey,
Under the castle fast by
A house, that Domus Dedali
That Labyrinthus cleped is,
Nas made so wonly I wis,
Ne half so queintly y-wrought;
And evermo as swift as thought,
This queint house about went,
That never more it still stent-
And eke this house hath of entrees,
As many as leaves are on trees
In summer, when they ben grene;
And in the roof yet men may sene
A thousand hoels and well mo
To letten the soune out-goi
And by day in every tide,
Ben all the doors open wide,
And by night each one unshet;
No porter is there one to let,
No manner tydings in to pace:
Ne never rest is in that place,


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, 448 Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and 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,

[blocks in formation]


"No," quoth he, " tell me what?"

And then he told him this and that, &c. Thus north and south


Went every tyding fro mouth to mouth.

[ocr errors]

Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away;
Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day:
Astrologers, that future fates foreshew,
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 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

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, Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through the sky.

There, at one passage, oft you might survey 489 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 1, 66 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! Fase, 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 flatter'd, poor; All luckless wits their enemies profest, And all successful, jealous friends at best.


And that encreasing evermo,

As fire is wont to quicken and go From a sparkle sprong amiss, Till all the citee brent up is. Ver. 489. There, at one passage, &c.] And sometime I saw there at once, A lesing and a sad sooth saw That goanen at adeenture draw Out of a window forth to paceAnd no man, be he ever so wrothe, Shall have one of these two, but bothe, &c.

[blocks in formation]

But in due time, when sixty years were o'er, He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more: Whether pure holiness inspir'd 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 prayer, Once ere he dy'd, to taste the blissful life Of a kind husband and a loving wife.

These thoughts he fortify'd 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 chuse a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful batchelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unaw'd 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 try'd,
And find divulg'd the secrets they would hide.
The marry'd 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:
Though fortune change, his constant spouse remains,
Augments his joys, or mitigates his pains.

But what so pure which envious tongues will spare?
Some wick wits have libell'd all the fair.
With matchless impude ce they style a wife
The dear-bought curse, and lawful plague of life;
A bosom-serpent, a domestic evil,

A night invasion, and a mid-day devil.
Let not the wise these slanderous words regard,
But curse the bones of every living bard.

All other goods by Fortune's hand are given,
A wife is the peculiar gift of Heaven.
Vain Fortune's favours, never at a stay,
Like empty shadows, pass, and glide away;
One solid comfort, our eternal wife,
Abundantly supplies us all our life:
This blessing lasts (if those who try say true)
As long as heart can wish-and longer too.

Our grandsire Adam, ere of Eve possess'd,
Alone, and ev'n in Paradise unbless'd,
With mournful looks the blissful scenes survey'd,
And wander'd in the solitary shade:
The Maker saw, took pity, and bestow'd
Woman, the last, the best reserv'd of God.
A wife! ah, gentle deities, can he
That has a wife, e'er feel adversity?
Would men but follow what the sex advise,
All things would prosper, all the world grow wise.
'Twas by Rebecca's aid that Jacob won
His father's blessing from an elder son :
Abusive Nabal ow'd his forfeit life
To the wise conduct of a prudent wife :
Heroic Judith, as old Hebrews show,
Preserv'd the Jews, and slew th' Assyrian foe:
At Hester's suit, the persecuting sword
Was sheath'd, and Israel liv'd to bless the Lord.

These weighty motives, January the sage Maturely ponder'd in his riper age; And, charm'd with virtuous joys and sober life, Would try that christian comfort, call'd a wife. His friends were summon'd on a point so nice, To pass their judgment, and to give advice; But fix'd before, and well resolv'd was he; (As men that ask advice are wont to be.)


My friends," he cry'd, (and cast a mournful look Around the room, and sigh'd before he spoke) "Beneath the weight of threescore years I bend, And worn with cares, and hastening to my end; How I have liv'd, alas! you know too well, In worldly follies, which I blush to tell; But gracious Heaven has ope'd my eyes at last, With due regret I view my vices past, And, as the precept of the church decrees, Will take a wife, and live in holy ease. But, since by counsel all things should be done, And many heads are wiser still than one; Chus you for me, who best shall be content When my desire's approv'd by your consent. "One caution yet is needful to be told, To guide your choice; this wife must not be old: There goes a saying, and 'twas shrewdly said, Old fish at table, but young flesh in bed. My soul abhors the tasteless, dry embrace Of a stale virgin with a winter face:

In that cold season Love but treats his guest With bean-straw, and tough forage at the best. No crafty widows shall approach my bed; Those are too wise for batchelors to wed; As subtle clerks by many schools are made, Twice-marry'd dames are mistresses o' th' trade: But young and tender virgins, rul'd with case, We form like wax, and mould them as we please. "Conceive me, sirs, nor take my sense amiss; 'Tis what concerns my soul's eternal bliss: Since if I found no pleasure in my spouse, As flesh is frail, and who (God help me) knows? Then should I live in lewd adultery, And sink downright to Satan when I die. Or were i curs'd with an unfruitful bed, The righteous end were lost for which I wed;

To raise up seed to bless the powers above,
And not for pleasure only, or for love.
Think not I doat; 'tis time to take a wife,
When vigorous blood forbids a chaster life:
Those that are blest with store of grace divine,
May live like saints, by Heaven's consent and

"And since I speak of wedlock, let me say, -(As, thank my stars, in modest truth I may) My limbs are active, still I'm sound at heart, And a new vigour springs in every part. Think not my virtue lost, though time has shed These reverend honours on my hoary head; Thus trees are crown'd with blossoms white as snow, The vital sap then rising from below: Old as I am, my lusty limbs appear Like winter greens, that flourish all the year. Now, sirs, you know to what I stand inclin'd, Let every friend with freedom speak his mind."

He said; the rest in different parts divide; The knotty point was urg'd on either side: Marriage, the theme on which they all declaim'd, Some prais'd with wit, and some with reason blam'd; Till, what with proofs, objections, and replies, Fach wondrous positive, and wondrous wise, There fell between his brothers a debate, Placebo this was call'd, and Justin that.


First to the knight Placebo thus begun (Mild were his looks, and pleasing was his tone): "Such prudence, sir, in all your words appears, As plainly proves, experience dwells with years! Yet you pursue sage Solomon's advice, To work by counsel when affairs are nice: So may my soul arrive at ease and rest But with the wise man's leave, I must protest, As still I hold your own advice the best.


Sir, I have liv'd a courtier all my days, And study'd men, their manners, and their ways; And have observ'd this useful maxim still, To let my betters always have their will.

Nay, if my lord affirm that black was white, My word was this, Your honour's in the right. Th' assuming wit, who deems himself so wise, As his mistaken patron to advise,

Let him not dare to vent his dangerous thought, A noble fool was never in a fault.


This, sir, affects not you, whose every word
Is weigh'd with judgment, and befits a lord:
Your will is mine; and is (I will maintain)
Pleasing to God, and should be so to man!
At least, your courage all the world must praise,
Who dare to wed in your declining days.
Indulge the vigour of your mounting blood,
And let grey fools be indolently good,

Who, past all pleasure, damn the joys of sense, With reverend dulness, and grave impotence."

Justin, who silent sat, and heard the man, Thus, with a philosophic frown, began.

"A heathen author of the first degree, (Who, though not faith, had sense as well as we) Bids us be certain our concerns to trust To those of generous principles, and just. The venture's greater, I'll presume to say, To give your person, than your goods away: And therefore, sir, as you regard your rest, First learn your lady's qualities at least: Whether she's chaste or rampant, proud or civil, Meek as a saint, or haughty as the devil; Whether an easy, fond, familiar fool, Or such a wit as no man e'er can rule.

« ZurückWeiter »