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But, recollecting with a sudden thought,
That flight in circles urg'd advanc'd them naught,
They gather'd close around the old pit's brink,
And thought again-but knew not what to think.
The man to solitude accustomed long
Perceives in ev'ry thing that lives a tongue;
Not animals alone, but shrubs and trees
Have speech for him, and understood with ease :
After long drought, when rains abundant fall,
He hears the herbs and flow'rs rejoicing all;
Knows what the freshness of their hue implies,
How glad they catch the largess of the skies;
But, with precision nicer still, the mind
He scans of ev'ry locomotive kind;
Birds of all feather, beasts of ev'ry name,
That serve mankind, or shun them, wild or tame;
The looks and gestures of their griefs and fears
Have all articulation in his ears;
He spells them true by intuition's light,
And needs no glossary to set him right.
This truth premis'd was needful as a text,
To win due credence to what follows next,
Awhile they mus'd; surveying ev'ry face,
Thou hadst suppos'd them of superior race;
Their periwigs of wool, and fears combin'd,
Stamp'd on each countenance such marks of mind,
That sage they seem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzle out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,
Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths ;
When thus a mutton, statelier than the rest,
A ram, that ewes and wethers sad address'd:-
"Friends! we have liv'd too long. I never heard
Sounds such as these, so worthy to be fear'd.
Could I believe, that winds for ages pent
In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent,
And from their prison-house below arise,
With all these hideous howlings to the skies,
I could be much compos'd, nor should appear,
For such a cause, to feel the slightest fear.
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders roll'd,
All night, me resting quiet in the fold.
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone,
I could expound the melancholy tone;
Should deem it by our old companion made,
The ass'; for he, we know has lately stray'd,
And being lost perhaps, and wand'ring wide,
Might be suppos'd to clamour for a guide.
But, ah! those dreadful yells what soul can hear
That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear?
Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-claw'd
And fang'd with brass the demons are abroad;
I hold it, therefore, wisest and most fit,
That, life to save, we leap into the pit."
Him answer'd then his loving mate and true,
But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe:-
"How? leap into the pit our life to save?
To save our life leap all into the grave?
For can we find it less? Contemplate first
The depth, how awful! falling there, we burst:
Or should the brambles, interpos'd, our fall
In part abate, that happiness were small;
For with a race like theirs no chance I see
Of peace or ease to creatures clad as we.
Meantime, noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray,
Or be it not, or be it whose it may,
And rush those other sounds, that seem by tongues
Of demons utter'd, from whatever lungs,
Sounds are but sounds; and, till the cause appear, We have at least commodious standing here. Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last." While thus she spake, I fainter heard the peals, For Reynard, close attended at his heels
By panting dog, tir'd man, and spatter'd horse, 'Through mere good fortune, took a diff'rent course.
The flock grew calm again; and I, the road
Foll'wing, that led me to my own abode,
Much wonder'd, that the silly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty sound,
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Beware of desp'rate steps. The darkest day, Live till to-morrow, will have pass'd away.
WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods.
Sage beneath the spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Ev'ry burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.
"Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
'Tis because resentment ties!
All the terrors of our tongues.
"Rome shall perish-write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
"Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground-
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!
"Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize,
Harmony the path to fame.
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway;
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow:
Rush'd to battle, fought and died;
Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.
Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heav'n awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestow'd,
Shame and ruin wait for you.
THERE was a time when Ætna's silent fire
Slept unperceiv'd, the mountain yet entire;
When, conscious of no danger from below,
She tower'd a cloud-capt pyramid of snow.
No thunders shook with deep intestine sound
'The blooming groves that girdled her around.
Her unctuous olives, and her purple vines,
(Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines)
The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assur'd,
In peace upon her sloping sides matur'd.
When on a day, like that of the last doom,
A conflagration lab'ring in her womb,
She teem'd and heav'd with an infernal birth,
That shook the circling seas and solid earth.
Dark and voluminous the vapours rise,
And hang their horrors in the neighb'ring skies,
While through the Stygian veil, that blots the day,
In dazzling streaks the vivid lightnings play,
But, oh! what muse, and in what pow'rs of song,
Can trace the torrent as it burns along?
Havoc and devastation in the van,
It marches o'er the prostrate works of man;
Vines, olives, herbage, forests disappear,
And all the charms of a Sicilian year.
Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass,
See it an uninform'd and idle mass;
Without a soil t' invite the tiller's care,
Or blade that might redeem it from despair.
Yet time at length (what will not time achieve?)
Clothes it with earth, and bids the produce live.
Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade,
And ruminating flocks enjoy the shade.
O bliss precarious, and unsafe retreats,
O charming Paradise of short-lived sweets!
The selfsame gale, that wafts the fragrance round,
Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound:
Again the mountain feels th' imprison'd foe,
Again pours ruin on the vale below.
Ten thousand swains the wasted scene deplore,
That only future ages can restore.
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws,
Who write in blood the merits of your cause,
Who strike the blow, then plead your own defence,
Glory your aim, but justice your pretence;
Behold in Ætna's emblematic fires,
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires!
Fast by the stream, that bounds your just domain, And tells you where ye have a right to reign, A nation dwells, not envious of your throne, Studious of peace, their neighbours' and their own.