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The demon Indolence thy toil o'erthrows."
On this the noble color stain’d his cheeks,
Indignant, glowing thro' the whitening snows
Of venerable eld; his eye full-speaks
His ardent soul, and from his couch at once he breaks.
I will (he cried) so help me, God ! destroy
That villain Archimage.—His page then strait
He to him called, a fiery-footed boy,
Benempt Dispatch. “My steed be at the gate ;
My bard attend ; quick, bring the net of Fate.”
This net was twisted by the Sisters three,
Which when once cast o'er hardened wretch, too late
Repentance comes; replevy cannot be
From the strong iron grasp of vengeful Destiny.
He came, the bard, a little Druid-wight,
Of wither'd aspect; but his eye was keen,
With sweetness mix'd. In russet gown bedight,
As is his sister of the copses green,
He crept along, unpromising of mien.
Gross he who judges so. His soul was fair,
Bright as the children of yon azure sheen.
True comeliness, which nothing can impair,
Dwells in the mind; all else is vanity and glare.
"Come" (quoth the knight)," a voice has reach'd mine ear;
The demon Indolence threats overthrow
To all that to mankind is good and dear :
Come, Philomelus ! let us instant go,
O'erturn his bowers, and lay his Castle low.
men, those wretched men! who will be slaves, Must drink a bitter wrathful cup of woe;
But some there be thy song, as from their graves, $hall raise. Thrice happy he ! who without rigor saves."
Thus holding high discourse, they came to where
The cursed carle was at his wonted trade,
Still tempting heedless men into his snare,
In witching wise, as I before have said ;
But when he saw, in goodly gear array'd,
The grave majestic knight approaching nigh,
And by his side the bard so sage and staid,
His countenance fell; yet oft his anxious eye
Mark'd them, like wily fox who roosted cock doth spy.
Nathless, with feign'd respect he bade give back
The rabble rout, and welcom'd them full kind;
Struck with the noble twain, they were not slack
His orders to obey, and fall behind.
Then he resum'd his song, and, unconfin'd,
Pour'd all his music, ran thro' all his strings ;
With magic dust their eyne he tries to blind,
And virtue's tender airs o'er weakness flings.
What pity base his song, who so divinely sings !
Elate in thought he counted them his own,
They listend so intent with fix'd delight;
But they, instead, as if transmew'd to stone,
Marvell’d he could with such sweet art unite
The lights and shades of manners wrong and right.
Meantime the silly crowd the charm devour,
Wide pressing to the gate. Swift on the knight
He darted fierce to drag him to his bower,
Who back’ning shunn'd his touch, for well he knew his power.
As in throng'd amphitheatre, of old,
The wary Retiarius trapp'd his foe,
E'en so the knight, returning on him bold,
At once involv'd him in the net of woe,
Whereof I mention made not long ago.
Enrag'd at first, he scorn'd so weak a jail,
And leapt, and flew, and flouncèd to and fro;
But when he found that nothing could avail,
He sat him felly down, and gnaw'd his bitter nail.
Alarm'd, th' inferior demons of the place
Rais'd rueful shrieks and hideous yells around;
Black stormy clouds deform’d the welkin’s face,
And from beneath was heard a wailing sound,
As of infernal sprights in cavern bound;
A solemn sadness every creature strook
And lightnings flash'd, and horror rock'd the ground;
Huge crowds on crowds outpour'd with blemish'd look, As if on time's last verge this frame of things had shook.
Soon as the short-liv'd tempest was yspent,
Steam'd from the jaws of vext Avernus' hole,
And hush'd the hubbub of the rabblement,
Sir Industry the first calm moment stole.
66 There must" (he cried), “ amid so vast a shoal,
Be some who are not tainted at the heart,
Not poison'd quite by this same villain's bowl ;
Come then, my Bard ! thy heavenly fire impart;
Touch soul with soul, till forth the latent spirit start.”
The bard obey'd ; and taking from his side,
Where it in seemly sort depending hung,
His British harp, its speaking strings he try'd,
The which with skilful touch he deftly strung,
Till tinkling in clear symphony they rung:
Then, as he felt the Muses come along,
Light o'er the chords. his raptured hand he flung,
And play'd a prelude to his rising song;
The whilst, like midnight mute, ten thousands round him throng.
Thus ardent burst his strain—" Ye hapless race !
Dire-laboring here to smother Reason's ray,
That lights our Maker's image in our face,
And gives us wide o'er earth unquestion'd sway,
What is th' ador'd Supreme Perfection, say?
What, but eternal never-resting soul,
Almighty power, and all-directing day,
By whom each atom stirs, the planets roll;
Who fills, surrounds, informs, and agitates the whole.
“Is not the field, with lively culture green,
A sight more joyous than the dead morass ?
Do not the skies with active ether clean
And fann'd by sprightly Zephyrs, far surpass
The foul November fogs, and slumb’rous mass
With which sad Nature veils her drooping face?
Does not the mountain-stream, as clear as glass,
Gay-dancing on, the putrid pool disgrace?
The same in all holds true, but chief in human race.
“Had unambitious mortals minded naught
But in loose joy their time to wear away,
Had they alone the lap of Dalliance sought,
Pleas’d on their pillow their dull heads to lay,
Rude Nature's state had been our state to-day;
No cities e'er their towery fronts had rais’d,
No arts had made us opulent and gay;
With brother-brutes the human race had graz’d;
None e'er had soard to fame, none honor'd been, none prais'd.
“Great Homer's song had never fir'd the breast,
To thirst of glory and heroic deeds ;
Sweet Maro's muse, sunk in inglorious rest,
Had silent slept amid the Mincian reeds :
The wits of modern time had told their beads,
And monkish legends been their only strains;
Our Milton's Eden had lain wrapped in weeds,
Our Shakspeare strolld and laugh'd with Warwick swains,
Ne had my master Spenser charm'd his Mulla's plains.
“But should to fame your hearts unfeeling be,
If right I read, you pleasure all require;
Then hear how best may be obtain'd this fee,
How best enjoy'd this Nature's wide desire.
Toil, and be glad; let industry inspire
Into your quicken'd limbs her buoyant breath;
Who does not act, is dead: absorpt entire
In miry sloth, no pride, no joy he hath ;
O leaden-hearted Men, to be in love with death!
“ O who can speak the vigorous joys of health;
Unclogg'd the body, unobscur'd the mind;
The morning rises gay, with pleasing stealth,
The temperate evening falls serene and kind;
In health the wiser brutes true gladness find;
See ! how the younglings frisk along the meads,
As May comes on, and wakes the balmy wind;
Rampant with life, their joy all joy exceeds;
Yet what but high-strung health this dancing pleasaunce
who listen to my lay,
Who wretched sigh for virtue, but despair.
All may be done, (methinks I hear them say,)
E'en death despis'd, by generous actions fair;
All but for those who to these bowers repair;
Their every power dissolv'd in luxury,
To quit of torpid Sluggishness the lair,