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Whom do they scourge, whom crown with thorns,
Yet hold barbarians-snatch me from the sight
Ye whirlwinds ! crush me mountains-dreadful !
Horrid ! upon the cross, they strain, they nail
The Lord of Life! they rear it! hark he prays
“ Father forgive, they know not what they do!"
Stupendous ! what is language? what is thought?
Astonish'd nature trembles ! from the
And smoaking now, his desk with books o'erspread,
Thick clouds of incence roll around his head;
His head, which save a quarter's growth of hair,
His woollen cap long since scratch'd off, was bare ;-
His beard three days had grown, of golden hue :
Black was his shirt, uncomely to the view;
Cross-legg'd be sat, and his ungarter'd hose
Of each lean limb half hide, and half expose :
His cheek he lean’d upon his hand, below
His nut-brown slipper hung upon his toe.
Now with abstracted flight he climbs apace,
High and more high, through pure unbounded space ;
Now mere privation fails the wings of thought,
He drops down headlong through the vast of pought !
A friendly vapour Mathesis supplies,
Borne on the surging smoke he joys to rise;
Matter through modes and qualities pursues,
Now caught, entranc'd its naked essence views :
Now wakes; the vision fading from his sight
Leaves doubts behind, the mists of mental night;
Existing not, but possible alone,
He deems all substance, and suspects his own;
Like wave by wave impelled, now questions roll :-
Does soul in aught subsist, or all in soul ?
Is space, extension, nothing but a name,
And mere idea nature's mighty frame?
All pow'r, all forms, to intellect confin'd,
Place, agent, subject, instrument combin'd?
Is spirit diverse, yet from number free,
Conjoin'd by harmony in unity ?-
Truth's spotless white what piercing eye descries,
When the ray broken takes opinion's dyes !
In vain now Philo seeks the sacred light,
In chaos plung'd, where embrio systems fight.
In this dark hour, unnotic'd Cloe came,
His study door admits the shining dame;
With nature's charms she join'd the charms of art;
Wife of his choice ; and mistress of his heart:
What on her head she wore erect and high,
Unnam'd above, is called on earth a fly;
In wanton ringlets her fair tresses fell,
Her breasts beneath transparent muslin swell;
Studded with flaming gems a buckle bound
Th’ embroider'd zone her slender waist around;
Thence to her feet a vast rotund display'd
The mingling colours of the rich brocade ;
This, aiding fancy, blending shame and pride,
Inflames with beauties it was meant to hide:
With careless ease the nymph first snapp'd her fan,
Roll'd round her radiant eyes, and thus began :
“ How cans't thou, Philo, here delight to sit,
Immers’d in learning, nastiness, and wit?
Clean from the chest, where various odours breathe,
And dying roses their last sweets bequeath,
A shirt for thee, by my command, the maid
Three hours ago before the fire display'd ;
The barber waiting to renew thy face,
Holds thy wig powder'd in the pasteboard case;
Thy silken breeches, and thy hose of thread,
Coat, waistcoat, all, lie ready on the bed.
Renounce that odious pipe, this filthy cell,
Where silence, dust, and pagan authors dwell :
Come! shall the ladies wait in vain for thee?
Come taste with us the charms of mirth and tea."
As Pbilo heard confus'd the silver sound, His soul emerges from the dark profound; On the bright vision full he turn’d his eyes, Touch'd, as he gazd, with pleasure and surprize; The first faint dawnings of a smile appear’d, And now, in act to speak, he strok'd his beard;} When from a shelf just o'er the fair one's head, Down dropp'd Arachne by the viscous thread. Back starts the nymph, with terror and dismay; “ The spider! Oh!”_was all that she could say,
At this the sage resum'd the look severe;"Renounce, with woman's folly, woman's fear!" He said, -and careful to the shelf convey'd The hapless rival of the blue ey'd maid.
Th' enormous deed astonish'd Cloe view'd, And rage
the crimson on her cheek renew'd. "“ Must then,” said she, -66 such hideous vermiu crawl Indulg'd, protected, o'er the cobweb'd wall ? Destroy her quickly-here her life. I claim : If not for love or decency, for shame.” ~ Shame be to guilt," replies the man of thought, * To slaves of custom, ne'er by reason taught, Who spare no life that touches not their own, By fear their cruelty restrain'd alone.; No blameless insect lives its destin'd hour, Caught in the murd'ring vortex of their pow'r; For me,- the virtues of the mind I learn From sage Arachne, for whose life you burn: From her, when busy all the summer's day, She weaves the curious woof that snares her prey, I learn fair industry and art to prize, Admiring nature, providently wise;
Who, though her bounty unexhausted flows,
Not daily bread on idleness bestows :
Arachne, still superior to despair,
Restores with art what accidents impair ;
The thousandth time the broken thread renews,
And one great end with fortitude pursues ;
To me her toil is ne'er renew'd in vain,
Taught what the wise by perseverance gain ;
Warm'd by example to the glorious strife,
And taught to conquer in the fight of life.
When now with rest amidst her labours crown'd,
She watchful, patient, eyes the circle round,
I learn, when toil has well desery'd success,
Hope's placid, calm, expectance to possess ;
With care to watch, with patience still to wait
The golden moment, though delay'd by fate."
Impatient Cloe thus again reply'd;-
“ How soon is error thro' each veil descry'd !
Still boasting reason's pow'r, how weak are we!
How blind, alas ! to all we would not see !
Else how could Pbilo, in a spider’s cause,
Talk thus of mercy with deserv'd applause ?
Or call aught virtuous industry and skill,
Exerted only to surprise and kill?
The blameless insect, whom no murder feeds,
For her, the victim of her cunning, bleeds;
Cunning! which when to wisdom we compare,
Is but to her, to men what monkies are."
“ Hold!” Philo cries, “ and know, the same decree
Gave her the fly, which gives the lamb to thee;
Or why those wings adapted to the snare,
Why interceptive hangs the net in air ?