« ZurückWeiter »
Those ills we dared, thy inspiration own; What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone.' • Ambitious fools !' the queen replied, and frown'd; • Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd; 351 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. 355
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen ; 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 the applause of men, 360 Would die unheard of, as we lived unseen. 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite. 0, let us still the secret joy partake, To follow virtue ev'n for virtue's sake.'
365 • 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 ; 370 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'd from heaven to hear : To farthest shores the ambrosial spirit flies, 376 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 :• Hither,' they cried, direct your eyes, and see The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry: 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 persuade, But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid ; Of unknown duchesses 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 honor dies. Pleased with the strange success,
vast numbers press’d Around the shrine, and made the same request: 395 • What! you,' she cried, 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 crowd. 405
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave their country, or usurp a throne;
Or who their glory's dire foundation laid
known Straight changed the scene, and snatch'd me from
The trembling surface, by the motion stirr'd,
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 favorites, projects of the great, Of old mismanagements, taxations new: All neither wholly false nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around, Confused, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away; 460 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. They flying rumors gather'd as they rollid; Scarce
tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new; 470
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, 475 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, 480 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 sdon ; Or wane and wax, alternate, like 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, both 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, 495 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?' 500