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Nay more, for facred stories tell
That ev'n immortal angels fell!
Whatever fills the teeming sphere
Of humid earth and ambient air,
With varying elements endu'd,
Was form'd to fall, and rife renew'd.
The stars no fix'd duration know;
Wide oceans ebb again to flow;
The moon repletes her waning face,
All beauteous, from her late difgrace;
And funs, that mourn approaching night,
Refulgent rife with new-born light.
In vain may death and time subdue,
While nature mints her race anew,
And holds fome vital spark apart,
Like virtue, hid in ev'ry heart;
'Tis hence reviving warmth is feen,
To clothe a naked world in green.
No longer barr'd by winter's cold,
Again the gates of life unfold;
Again each infect tries his wing,
And lifts fresh pinions on the fpring;
Again from ev'ry latent root
The bladed ftem and tendril fhoot,
Exhaling incense to the skies,
Again to perifh, and to rife.
And muft weak women then difown
The change to which a world is prone?
In one meridian brightnefs fhine,
And ne'er like ev'ning funs decline?
Refolv'd and firm alone? - Is this
What we demand of woman?—Yes.
But fhould the spark of veftal fire In fome unguarded hour expire, Or fhould the nightly thief invade Hefperia's chafte and facred shade, Of all the blooming spoil poffeft, The dragon honor charm'd to reft, Shall virtue's flame no more return? No more with virgin fplendor burn? No more the ravag'd garden blow With fpring's fucceeding bloffom?—No. Piry may mourn, but not restore; And woinan falls-to rife no more! Within this fublunary sphere A country lies no matter where; The clime may readily he found By all who tread poetic ground; Aftream, call'd Life, acrofs it glides, And equally the land divides; And here, of vice the province lies; And there, the hills of virtue rife.
Upon a mountain's airy stand,
Whofe fummit look'd to either land,
An ancient pair their dwelling chofe,
As well for profpect as repofe;
For mutual faith they long were fam'd,
And Temp'rance and Religion nam’d.
A num'rous progeny divine
Confefs'd the honors of their line;
But in a little daughter fair,
Was center'd more than half their care;
For Heav'n, to gratulate her birth,
Gave signs of future joy to earth;
White was the robe this infant wore, And Chastity the name the bore.
As now the maid in ftature grew
(A flow'r juft op'ning to the view)
Oft thro' her native lawns fhe ftray'd,
And, wrestling with the lambkins, play'd;
Her looks diffufive fweets bequeath'd;
The breeze grew purer as the breath'd;
The morn her radiant blush affum'd;
The fpring with earlier fragrance bloom'd,
And nature yearly took delight,
Like her, to dress the world in white.
But when her rifing form was feen
To reach the crisis of fifteen,
Her parents up the mountain's head,
With anxious ftep their darling led;
By turns they fnatch'd her to their breaft,
And thus the fears of age expreft:
O! joyful cause of many a care!
O! daughter too divinely fair!
Yon world, on this important day,
Demands thee to a dang'rous way;
A painful journey all must go,
Whofe doubted period none can know;
Whofe due direction who can find,
Where reafon's mute and fenfe is blind?
Ah, what unequal leaders thefe,
Thro' fuch a wide perplexing maze!
Then mark the warnings of the wife,
And learn what love and years advise.
Far to the right thy prospect bend,
Where yonder tow'ring hills afcend;
Lo, there the arduous paths in view
Which Virtue and her fons pursue;
With toil o'er lefs'ning earth they rise,
And gain, and gain upon the skies.
Narrow's the way her children tread,
No walk for pleasure smoothly fpread,
But rough, and difficult, and fteep;
Painful to climb, and hard to keep.
Fruits immature those lands difpenfe,
A food indelicate to sense,
Of taste unpleasant; yet from those
Pure health, with cheerful vigour flows,
And ftrength, unfeeling of decay,
Throughout the long laborious way.
Hence, as they fcale that heav'nly road,
Each limb is lighten'd of its load;
From earth refining still they go,
And leave the mortal weight below;
Then fpreads the ftrait, the doubtful clears,
And finooth the rugged path appears ;
For custom turns fatigue to eafe,
And, taught by virtue, pain can please.
At length, the toilfome journey o'er,
And near the bright celestial shore,
A gulph, black, fearful, and profound,
Appears, of either world the bound,
Thro' darknet's leading up to light;
Senfe backward thrinks, and fhuns the fight;
For there the tranfitory train
Of time, and form, and care, and pain,
And matter's grofs incumb❜ring mass,
Man's late affociates, cannot pals,
But finking, quit th'immortal charge,
And leave the wond'ring foul at large;
Lightly the wings her obvious way,
And mingles with eternal day.
Thither, O thither wing thy speed,
Tho' pleature charm, or pain impede;
To fuch th'all-bounteous Pow'r has giv'n,
For prefent earth, a future heav'n;
For trivial lofs, unmeafur'd gain;
And endless blifs for tranfient pain.
Then fear, ah! fear to turn thy fight
Where yonder flow'ry fields invite:
Wide on the left the path-way bends,
And with pernicious eafe defcends;
There, sweet to fenfe and fair to fhow,
New-planted Edens feem to blow,
Trees, that delicious poifon bear;
For death is vegetable there.
Hence is the frame of health unbrac'd,
Each finew flack'ning at the taste,
The foul to paffion yields her throne,
And fees with organs not her own;
While, like the flumb'rer in the night,
Pleas'd with the fhadowy dream of light,
Before her alienated eyes
The scenes of fairy-land arife;
The puppet world's amufing fhow,
Dipt in the gaily-colour'd bow,
Sceptres, and wreaths, and glitt'ring things,
The toys of infants and of kings,
That tempt, along the baneful plain,
The idly wife and lightly vain,
Till, verging on the gulphy shore,
Sudden they fink-and rife no more.
But lift to what thy fates declare :
Tho' thou art woman, frail as fair,
If once thy fliding foot fhould ftray,
Once quit yon heav'n-appointed way,
For thee, loft maid, for thee alone,
Nor pray'rs fhall plead, nor tears atone;
Reproach, fcorn, infamy, and hate,
On thy returning fteps fhall wait;
Thy form be loath'd by ev'ry eye,
And ev'ry foot thy prefence fly.
Thus arm'd with words of potent found,
Like guardian angels plac'd around,
A charm, by truth divinely cast,
Forward our young advent'rer pafs'd,
Forth from her facred eye-lids fent,
Like morn, fore-running radiance went,
While Honour, handmaid late allign'd,
Upheld her lucid train behind.
Awe-ftruck, the much-admiring crowd
Before the virgin vifion bow'd;
Gaz'd with an ever-new delight,
And caught fresh virtue at the fight;
For not of earth's unequal frame
They deem the heav'n-compounded Dame ;
If matter, fure the most refin'd,
High-wrought and temper'd into mind,
Some darling daughter of the day,
And body'd by her native ray.
Where'er the paffes, thousands bend,
And thousands where the moves attend ;
Her ways obfervant eyes confefs,
Her fteps pursuing praises blefs;
While to the elevated Maid
Oblations, as to Heav'n, are paid.
'Twas on an ever-blithefome day,
The jovial birth of rofy May,
When genial warmth, no more fuppreft,
New-melts the froft in ev'ry breast,
The cheek with fecret flushing dyes;
And looks kind things from chastest eyes,
The fun with healthier vifage glows,
Afide his clouded kerchief throws,
And dances up th'etherial plain,
Where late he us'd to climb with pain,
While nature, as from bonds fet free,
Springs out, and gives a loose to glee.
And now, for momentary rest,
The nymph her travell'd step repreft,
Juft turn'd to view the stage attain'd,
And glory'd in the height the gain'd.
Out-ftretch'd before her wide furvey
The realms of fweet perdition lay,
And pity touch'd her foul with woe,
To fee a world fo loft below;
When straight the breeze began to breathe
Airs, gently wafted from beneath,
That bore commiffion'd witchcraft thence,
And reach'd her fympathy of fense;
No founds of difcord, that disclofe
A people funk and loft in woes,
But as of prefent good poffefs'd,
The very triumph of the blefs'd.
The maid in rapt attention hung,
While thus approaching Sirens fung:
Hither, faireft, hither hafte,
Brightest beauty, come and tafte
What the pow'rs of blifs unfold,
Joys too mighty to be told;
Tafte what ecftafies they give;
Dying raptures, taste and live.
In thy lap, difdaining measure,
Nature empties all her treafure,
Soft defires, that fweetly languifh;
Fierce delights, that rife to anguish;
Faireft, doft thou yet delay ?
Brighteft beauty, come away.
Lift not when the froward chide,
Sons of pedantry and pride,
Snarlers, to whofe feeble fenfe
April's funfhine is offence;
Age and envy will advise
Ev'n against the joy they prize.
Come, in pleafure's balmy bowl
Slake the thirstings of thy foul,
Till thy raptur'd pow'rs are fainting
With enjoyinent, paft the painting,
Faireft, doft thou yet delay ?
Brightest beauty, come away.
So fung the Sirens, as of yore,
Upon the falle Aufonian fhore;
And O for that preventing chain
That bound Ulyffes on the main,
That fo our fair one might withstand
The covert ruin, now at hand.
The fong her charm'd attention drew,
When now the tempters stood in view;
Curiofity, with prying eyes,
And hand of bufy, bold emprize;
Like Hermes, feather'd were her feet,
And, like fore-running fancy, fleet;
By fearch untaught, by toil untir'd,
To novelty the still afpir'd,
Taftelefs of ev'ry good poffeft,
And but in expectation bleft.
With her, affociate, Pleasure came,
Gay Pleafure, frolic-loving dame,
Her mien, all swimming in delight,
Her beauties half reveal'd to fight;
Loose flow'd her garments from the ground,
And caught the killing winds around.
As erft Medufa's looks were known
To turn beholders into ftone,
A dire reverfion here they felt,
And in the eye of Pleasure melt.
Her glance with fweet perfuafion charm'd,
Unnerv'd the ftrong, the steel'd difarm'd;
No fafety ev'n the flying find,
Who, vent'rous, look but once behind
Thus was the much admiring Maid,
While diftant, more than half betray'd.
With fimiles, and adulation bland,
They join'd her fide, and feiz'd her hand;
Their touch envenom'd fwects diftill'd,
Her frame with new pulfations thrill'd;
While half confenting, half denying,
Reluctant now, and now complying,
Amidst a war of hopes and fears,
Of trembling wifhes, fimiling tears,
Still down and down, the winning pair
Compell'd the ftruggling, yielding Fair.
As when fome ftately veffel, bound
To bleft Arabia's diftant ground,
Borne from her courfes, haply lights
Where Barca's flow'ry clime invites,
Conceal'd around whofe treach'rous land
Lurk the dire rock and dang'rous fand;
The pilot warns, with fail and oar,
To thun the much-fufpected thore,
In vain the tide, too fubtly ftrong,
Still bears the wrestling bark along,
Till found'ring, the refigns to fate,
And finks, o'erwhelm'd, with all her freight.
So, baffling ev'ry bar to fin,
And Heav'n's own pilot, plac'd within,
Along the devious, smooth defcent,
With pow'rs increafing as they went,
The dames, accuftom'd to fubdue,
As with a rapid current drew,
And o'er the fatal bounds convev'd
The loft, the long reluctant Maid.
Here ftop, ye fair ones, and beware,
Nor fend your fond affections there;
Yet, yet your darling, now deplor'd,
May turn, to you and heav'n reftor'd!
Till then, with weeping Honor, wait
The fervant of her better fate;
With Honor, left upon the shore,
Her friend and handmaid now no more;
Nor, with the guilty world, upbraid
The fortunes of a wretch betray'd;
But o'er her failing caft a veil,
Rememb'ring, you yourselves are frail.
And now, from all inquiring light,
Faft fled the confcious fhades of night;
The Damfel, from a fhort repose,
Confounded at her plight, arose.
As when, with flumb'rous weight oppreft,
Some wealthy mifer finks to reft,
Where felons eye the glitt'ring prey,
And fteat his hoard of joys away;
He, borne where golden Indus ftreams,
Of pearl, and quarry'd di'mond dreams,
Like Midas, turns the glebe to ore,
And ftands all wrapt amidst his ftore;
But wakens, naked, and defpoil'd
Of that for which his years had toil'd.
So far'd the nymph, her treasure flown,
And turn'd, like Niobe, to ftone;
Within, without, obfcure and void,
She felt all ravag'd, all destroy'd.
And, O thou curft, infidious coaft!
Are thefe the bleffings thou canft boast?
Thefe, Virtue! thefe the joys they find,
Who leave thy heav'n-top'd hills behind?
Shade me, ye pines, ye caverns, hide,
Ye mountains, cover me, the cry'd!
Her trumpet Slander rais'd on high,
And told the tidings to the fky;
Contempt difcharg'd a living dart,
A fide-long viper to her heart;
Reproach breath'd poifons o'er her face,
And foil'd and blafted ev'ry grace;
Officious fhame, her handmaid new,
Still turn'd the mirror to her view,
While thofe in crimes the deepest dy'd,
Approach'd to whiten at her fide.
And ev'ry lewd infulting dame
Upon her folly rofe to fame.
What fhould the do? Attempt once more
To gain the late-deferted fhore?
So trusting, back the inourner flew,
As faft the train of fiends purfue.
Again the farther fhore's attain'd,
Again the land of Virtue gain'd;
But echo gathers in the wind,
And theys her inftant foes behind.
Amaz'd, with headlong speed the tends,
Where late the left an hoft of friends;
Alas! thofe fhrinking friends decline,
Nor longer own that form divine:
With fear they mark the following cry,
And from the lonely trembler fly,
Or backward drive her on the coaft,
Where peace was wreck'd, and honour loft.
From earth, thus hoping aid in vain,
To Heav'n, not daring to complain;
No truce by hoftile clamour giv'n,
And from the face of friendship driv'n,
The Nymph funk proftrate on the ground,
With all her weight of woes around.
Enthron'd within a circling sky,
Upon a mount o'er mountains high,
All radiant fat, as in a fhrine,
Virtue, first effluence divine;
Far, far above the fcenes of woe,
That shut this cloud-wrapt world below;
Superior goddess, effence bright,
Beauty of uncreated light,
Whom should mortality furvey,
As doom'd upon a certain day,
The breath of frailty must expire,
The world diffolve in living fire,
The gems of heav'n, and folar flame,
Be quench'd by her eternal beam,
And nature, quick'ning in her eye,
To rife a new-born phoenix, die.
Hence, unreveal'd to mortal view,
A veil around her form the threw,
Which three fad fifters of the shade,
Pain, Care, and Melancholy made.
Thro' this her all-enquiring eye,
Attentive from her station high,
Beheld, abandon'd to despair,
The ruins of her fav'rite fair;
And with a voice, whofe awful found
Appal'd the guilty world around,
Bid the tumultuous winds be ftill,
To numbers bow'd each lift'ning hill,
Uncurl'd the furging of the main,
And smooth'd the thorny bed of pain;
The golden harp of heav'n fhe ftrung,
And thus the tuneful goddess fung:
Lovely Penitent, arife,
Come, and claim thy kindred skies;
Come, thy fifter-angels fay
Thou haft wept thy stains away.
Let experience now decide
'Twixt the good and evil try'd.
In the finooth, enchanted ground,
Say, unfold the treasures found.
Structures, rais'd by morning dreams;
Sands, that trip the flitting ftreams;
Down, that anchors on the air;
Clouds, that paint their changes there.
Seas, that fmoothly dimpling lie,
While the ftorm impends on high,
Shewing, in an obvious glafs,
Joys that in poffeffion pafs;
Tranfient, fickle, light, and gay,
Flatt'ring, only to betray;
What, alas, can life contain !
Life, like all its circles-vain.
Will the ftork, intending reft,
On the billow build her neft?
Will the bee demand his store
From the bleak and bladelefs fhore ?
Man alone, intent to ftray,
Ever turns from wisdom's way;
Lays up wealth in foreign land,
Sows the fea, and plows the fand.
Soon this elemental mass,
Soon th'incumb'ring world shall pass;
Form be wrapt in wafting fire,
Time be spent, and life expire.
Then, ye boafted works of men,
Where is your afylum then?
Sons of pleasure, fons of care,
Tell me, mortals, tell me where?
Gone, like traces on the deep,
Like a fceptre grafp'd in fleep,
Dews, exhal'd from morning glades,
Melting fnows, and gliding shades.
Pafs the world, and what's behind?
Virtue's gold, by fire refin'd;
From an univerfe deprav'd,
From the wreck of nature fav'd.
Like the life-fupporting grain,
Fruit of patience and of pain,
On the fwain's autumnal day,
Winnow'd from the chaff away.
Little trembler, fear no more,
Thou haft plenteous crops in ftore;
Seed, by genial forrows fown,
More than all thy fcorners own.
What tho' hoftile earth defpife, Heav'n beholds with gentler eyes; Heav'n thy friendless steps fhall guide, Cheer thy hours, and guard thy fide.
When the fatal trump fhall found,
When th'immortals pour around,
Heav'n fhall thy return atteft,
Hail'd by myriads of the bleft.
Little native of the skies,
Lovely penitent, arise;
Calm thy bofom, clear thy brow,
Virtue is thy fifter now.
More delightful are my woes
Than the rapture pleafure knows :
Richer far the weeds I bring
Than the robes that grace a king.
On my wars, of shortest date,
Crowns of endlefs triumph wait;
On my cares a period bleft;
On my toils eternal reft,
Come, with virtue at thy fide;
Come, be ev'ry bar defy'd,
Till we gain our native shore :
Sifter, come, and turn no more.
§201. Fable XVI. Love and Vanity. THE breezy morning breath'd perfume, The wak'ning flow'rs unveil'd their bloom, Up with the fun, from short repose, Gay health and lufty labour rofe; The milkmaid carol'd at her pail,
And fhepherds whiftled o'er the dale:
When Love, who led a rural life,
Remote from buftle, ftate, and ftrife,
Forth from his thatch'd roof'd cottage stray'd,
And stroll'd along the dewy glade.
A nymph, who lightly tripp'd it by, To quick attention turn'd his eye,
He mark'd the gefture of the Fair,
Her felf-fufficient grace and air,
Her fteps, that mincing meant to please,
Her ftudy'd negligence and cafe,
And curious to enquire what meant
This thing of prettinefs and paint,
Approaching poke, and bow'd obfervant;
The Lady, lightly-Sir, your fervant.
Such beauty in fo rude a place!
Fair one, you do the country grace;
At court no doubt the public care;
But Love has Imall acquaintance there.
Yes, Sir, reply'd the flutt'ring dame,
This form confeffes whence it came;
But dear variety, you know,
Can make us pride and pomp forego.
My name is Vanity. I fway
The utmost islands of the fea;
Within my court all honor centres;
I raise the meaneft foul that enters;
Endow with latent gifts and graces,
And model fools for pofts and places.
As Vanity appoints at pleasure,
The world receives its weight and pleasure;
Hence all the grand concerns of life;
Joys, cares, plagues, paffions, peace and strife.
Reflect how far my pow'r prevails,
When I ftep in where nature fails,
And, ev'ry breach of sense repairing,
Am bounteous ftill where Heav'n is fparing.
But chief in all their arts and airs,
Their playing, painting, pouts and pray'rs,
Their various habits and complexions,
Fits, frolics, foibles, and perfections,
Their robing, curling, and adorning,
From noon to night, from night to morning;
From fix to fixty, fick or found,
I rule the female world around.
Hold there a moment, Cupid cry'd,
Nor boaft dominion quite fo wide.
Was there no province to invade,
But that by Love and meeknefs fway'd?
All other empire I refign;
But be the fphere of beauty mine.
For in the downy lawn of reft,
That opens on a woman's breast,
Attended by my peaceful train,
I chufe to live, and chafe to reign.
Far-fighted Faith I bring along,
And Truth, above an army ftrong;
And Chaftity, of icy mould,
Within the burning tropics cold;
And Lowlinefs, to whofe mild brow
The pow'r and pride of nations bow;
And Modefty, with downcat eye,
That lends the morn her virgin dye;
And Innocence, array'd in light;
And Honor, as a tow'r upright;
With fwectly winning graces, more
Than poets ever dreamt of yore,
In unaffected conduct free,
All fmiling fifters, three times three;
And rof Peace, the cherub bleft,
That nightly fings us all to reit.
Hence, from the bud of nature's prime,
From the first step of infant time,
Woman, the world's appointed light,
Has fkirted ev'ry fhade with white;
Has ftood for imitation high,
To ev'ry heart and ev'ry eye;
From ancient deeds of fair renown,
Has brought her bright memorials down;
To time affix'd perpetual youth,
And form'd each tale of love and truth.
Upon a new Promethean plan,
She moulds the effence of a inan;
Tempers his mafs, his genius fires,
And, as a better foul, infpires.
The rude the foftens, warms the cold,
Exalts the meek, and checks the bold;
Calls Sloth from his fupine repofe;
Within the coward's bofom glows;
Of pride, unplumes the lofty creft,
Bids bafhful merit ftand confeft,
And, like coarfe metal from the mines,
Collects, irradiates, and refines.
The gentle fcience the imparts,
All manners fmooths, informs all hearts;
From her fweet influence are felt.
Paffions that please, and thoughts that melt;
To ftormy rage the bids controul,
And finks ferenely on the foul;
Softens Deucalion's flinty race,
And tunes the warring world to peace.
Thus arm'd to all that's light and vain,
And freed from thy fantastic chain,
She fills the fphere by Heav'n allign'd,
And, rul'd by me, o'er-rules mankind.
He fpoke. The nymph impatient stood,
And, laughing, thus her fpeech renew'd:
And pray, Sir, may I be fo hold
To hope your pretty tale is told:
And next demand, without a cavil,
What new Utopia do you travel!
Upon my word, thefe high-flown fancies
Shew depth of learning-in romances.
Why, what unfashion'd stuff you tell us Of buckram dames, and tiptoe fellows! Go, child; and when you're grown maturer, You'll fhoot your next opinion furer.
O fuch a pretty knack at painting! And all for foft'ning, and for fainting! Gucfs now, who can, a fingle feature Thro' the whole piece of female nature, Then mark! my loofer hand may fit The lines, too coarfe for Love to hit.
'Tis faid that woman, prone to changing, Thro' all the rounds of folly ranging, On life's uncertain ocean riding, No reafon, rule, nor rudder guiding, Is like the comet's wand'ring light, Eccentric, ominous, and bright; Tracklefs, and shifting as the wind; A fea, whofe fathom none can find; A moon, ftill changing and revolving; A riddle, paft all human folving; A blits, à plague, a heav'n, a hell; A-fomething that no man can tell.