« PreviousContinue »
As to the fea returning rivers roll,
And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole;
Hither as to their proper place, arise
All various founds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear;
Nor ever filence, reft, or peace, is here.
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes
The finking stone at first a circle makes ;
The trembling furface, by the motion-stirr'd,
Spreads in a second circle, then a third;
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance, 440
Fill all the watery plain, and to the margin dance:
voice and found, when first they break,
On neighbouring air a foft impreffion make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above;
Through undulating air the founds are fent,
And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and ftrife,
Of peace and war, health, fickness, death, and life,
Ver. 448. There various news I heard, &c.]
werres, of peace, of marriages,
Of reft, of labour, of voyages,
Of abode, of dethe, and of life,
Of love and hate, accord and ftrife,
Of lofs, of lore, and of winnings,
Of hele, of ficknefs, and leffings,
Of divers transmutations,
Of estates and eke of regions,
Of truft, of dred, of jealoufy,
Of wit, of winning, and of felly,
Of lofs and gain, of famine and of store,
Of storms at fea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents feen 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 mifmanagements, taxations new :
All neither wholly falfe, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around,
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
Who país, repafs, advance, and glide away;
Hofts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day:
Of good, or bad government,
Of fire, and of divers accident.
Ver. 458. Above, below, without, within, &c.]
But fuch a grete congregation
Of folke as I faw roame about,
Some within, and fome without,
Was never seen, ne fhall be eft—
And every wight that I saw there
Rowned everich in others ear
A new tyding privily,
Or elfe he told it openly
Right thus, and faid, Knowft not thou
That is betide to-night now?
No, quoth he, tell me what?
And then he told him this and that, &c.
-Thus north and fouth
Went every tyding from mouth to mouth,
And that encreafing evermo,
As fire is wont to quicken and go
From a sparkle fprong amifs,
Till all the citee brent up is.
Aftrologers, that future fates forefhew,
Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands
With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands; 465
Each talk'd aloud, or in fome fecret place,
And wild impatience star'd in every face.
The flying rumors gather'd as they roll'd,
Scarce any tale was fooner heard than told;
And all who told it added fomething new,
And all who heard it made enlargements too,
In every ear it spread, on every tongue it grew.
Thus flying east and weft, and north and fouth,
News travel'd with increase from mouth to mouth.
So from a fpark, that kindled first by chance,
With gathering force the quickening flames ad-
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And towers and temples fink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
Through thousand vents,
And rush in millions on the world below,
Fame fits aloft, and points them out their course,
Their date determines, and prescribes their force :
Some to remain, and fome 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
There, at one paffage, oft you might furvey
A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which firft fhould iffue through the narrow vent:
At laft agreed, together out they fly,
Infeparable now, the truth and lyé;
The ftrict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er fhall find.
While thus I ftood, intent to fee 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, faid I, not void of hopes I came,
For who fo fond as youthful bards of Fame?
But few, alas! the cafual bleffing boast,
So hard to gain, so easy to be lost.
How vain that fecond life in others breath,
Th' eftate which wits inherit after death!
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unfure the tenure, but how vast the fine!)
The great man's curfe, without the gains, endure,
Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All lucklefs wits their enemies profeft,
And all fuccessful, jealous friends at best.
Ver. 489. There, at one paffage, &c.]
And fometime I faw there at once,
A leifing and a fad footh faw
Out of a window forth to pace-
And no man, be he ever fo wrothe,
gonnen at adventure draw
Shall have one of these two, but bothe, &c.
Nor Fame I flight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd-for, if fhe comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price
As foothing Folly, or exalting Vice:
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no bafis bear my rifing name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then, teach me, heaven! to fcorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched luft of praise,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honeft fame, or grant me none !