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No wars were known, no females heard to rage, And poets tell us, 'twas a golden age.
When woman came, those ills the box confined Burst furious out, and poison'd all the wind; From point to point, from pole to pole they flew, Spread as they went, and in the progress grew: The nymphs regretting left the mortal race, And altering Nature wore a sickly face: New terms of folly rose, new states of care; New plagues, to suffer, and to please, the fair! The days of whining, and of wild intrigues, Commenced, or finish'd, with the breach of leagues; The mean designs of well-dissembled love; The sordid matches never join'd above; Abroad the labour, and at home the noise, (Man's double sufferings for domestic joys) The curse of jealousy; expense and strife; Divorce, the public brand of shameful life; The rival's sword; the qualm that takes the fair; Disdain for passion, passion in despair———. These, and a thousand yet unnamed, we find; Ah, fear the thousand, yet unnamed behind!Thus on Parnassus tuneful Hesiod sung, The mountain echo'd, and the valley rung, The sacred groves a fix'd attention show, The crystal Helicon forbore to flow, The sky grew bright, and (if his verse be true) The Muses came to give the laurel too. But what avail'd the verdant prize of wit, If Love swore vengeance for the tales he writ? Ye fair, offended, hear your friend relate What heavy judgment proved the writer's fate; Though when it happen'd, no relation clears, "Tis thought in five, or five and twenty years,
Where, dark and silent, with a twisted shade The neighbouring woods a native arbour made, There oft a tender pair, for amorous play Retiring, toy'd the ravish'd hours away; A Locrian youth, the gentle Troilus he; A fair Milesian, kind Evanthe she: But swelling nature, in a fatal hour, Betray'd the secrets of the conscious bower; The dire disgrace her brothers count their own, And track her steps, to make its author known.
It chanced one evening, 'twas the lover's day, Conceal'd in brakes the jealous kindred lay; When Hesiod, wandering, mused along the plain, And fix'd his seat where love had fix'd the scene: A strong suspicion straight possess'd their mind, (For poets ever were a gentle kind)
But when Evanthe near the passage stood,
Flung back a doubtful look, and shot the wood.
'Now take (at once they cry) thy due reward,'-
And, urged with erring rage, assault the bard.
the sea received. The dolphins bore
(Twas all the gods would do) the corpse to shore.
Methinks I view the dead with pitying eyes,
And see the dreams of ancient wisdom rise;
I see the Muses round the body cry,
But hear a Cupid loudly laughing by;
He wheels his arrow with insulting hand,
And thus inscribes the moral on the sand:
'Here Hesiod lies: ye future bards, beware
How far your moral tales incense the fair.
Unloved, unloving, 'twas his fate to bleed;
Without his quiver, Cupid caused the deed:
He judged this turn of malice justly due,
And Hesiod died for joys he never knew.'
FAR in a wild, unknown to public view,
From youth to age a reverend Hermit grew;
The moss his bed, the cave his humble cell,
His food the fruits, his drink the crystal well:
Remote from man, with God he pass'd the days,
Prayer all his business, all his pleasure praise.
A life so sacred, such serene repose,
Seem'd Heaven itself, till one suggestion rose;
That Vice should triumph, Virtue Vice obey,
This sprung some doubt of Providence's
His hopes no more a certain prospect boast,
And all the tenor of his soul is lost:
So when a smooth expanse receives impress'd
Calm Nature's image on its watery breast,
Down bend the banks, the trees depending grow,
And skies beneath with answering colours glow:
But if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift ruffling circles curl on every side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies, in thick disorder run.
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sight,
To find if books, or swains, report it right,
(For yet by swains alone the world he knew,
Whose feet came wandering o'er the nightly dew)
He quits his cell; the pilgrim-staff he bore,
And fix'd the scallop in his hat before;
Then with the sun a rising journey went,
Sedate to think, and watching each event.
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass; But when the southern sun had warm'd the day, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; His raiment decent, his complexion fair,
And soft in graceful ringlets waved his hair.
Then near approaching, Father, hail!' he cried
And, Hail! my son,' the reverend sire replied.
Words follow'd words, from question answer
And talk of various kind deceived the road;
Till each with other pleased, and loath to part,
While in their age they differ, join in heart:
Thus stands an aged elm in ivy bound,
Thus youthful ivy clasps an elm around.
Now sunk the sun; the closing hour of day Came onward, mantled o'er with sober grey; Nature in silence bid the world repose;
When near the road a stately palace rose: There by the moon through ranks of trees they pass,
Whose verdure crown'd their sloping sides of grass.
It chanced the noble master of the dome
Still made his house the wandering stranger's home:
Yet still the kindness, from a thirst of praise,
Proved the vain flourish of expensive ease.
The pair arrive: the livery'd servants wait:
Their lord receives them at the pompous gate.
The table groans with costly piles of food,
And all is more than hospitably good.
Then led to rest, the day's long toil they drown,
Deep sunk in sleep, and silk, and heaps of down.
At length 'tis morn, and at the dawn of day,
Along the wide canals the zephyrs play:
Fresh o'er the
gay parterres the breezes creep,
And shake the neighbouring wood to banish sleep.
Up rise the guests, obedient to the call:
An early banquet deck'd the splendid hall:
Rich luscious wine a golden goblet graced,
Which the kind master forced the guests to taste.
Then pleased and thankful, from the porch they go;
And, but the landlord, none had cause of woe;
His cup was vanish'd: for in secret guise
The younger guest purloin'd the glittering prize.
As one who spies a serpent in his way,
Glistening and basking in the summer ray,
Disorder'd stops to shun the danger near,
Then walks with faintness on, and looks with fear;
So seem'd the sire, when, far upon the road,
The shining spoil his wily partner show'd. [heart,
He stopp'd with silence, walk'd with trembling
And much he wish'd, but durst not ask, to part:
Murmuring he lifts his eyes, and thinks it hard,
That generous actions meet a base reward.
While thus they pass, the sun his glory shrouds,
The changing skies hang out their sable clouds;
A sound in air presaged approaching rain,
And beasts to covert scud across the plain.
Warn'd by the signs, the wandering pair retreat,
To seek for shelter at a neighbouring seat.
"Twas built with turrets, on a rising ground,
And strong, and large, and unimproved around;
Its owner's temper, timorous and severe,
Unkind and griping, caused a desert there.
As near the miser's heavy doors they drew, Fierce rising gusts with sudden fury blew ; The nimble lightning mix'd with showers began, And o'er their heads loud rolling thunders ran.