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Alas! the change! from scenes of joy and rest, To this dark den, where Sickness toss'd alway. Here Lethargy, with deadly sleep opprest, Stretch'd on his back, a mighty lubbard, lay, Heaving his sides, and snored night and day; To stir him from his traunce it was not eath, And his half-open'd eyne he shut straightway: He led, I wot, the softest way to death,
I care not, Fortune, what you me deny :
And taught withouten pain and strife to yield the Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave. breath.
Sometimes, with early morn, he mounted gay The hunter-steed, exulting o'er the dale, And drew the roseate breath of orient day; Sometimes, retiring to the secret vale, Yclad in steel, and bright with burnish'd mail, He strain'd the bow, or toss'd the sounding spear, Or darting on the goal outstripp'd the gale, Or wheel'd the chariot in its mid career, Or strenuous wrestled hard with many a tough com
At other times he pry'd through Nature's store,
Or else he scann'd the globe, those small domains,
Those moral seeds whence we heroic actions reap.
Nor would he scorn to stoop from high pursuits Of heavenly Truth, and practise what she taught. Vain is the tree of knowledge without fruits. Sometimes in hand the spade or plow he caught, Forth-calling all with which boon Earth is fraught; Sometimes he ply'd the strong mechanic tool, Or rear'd the fabric from the finest draught; And oft he put himself to Neptune's school, Fighting with winds and waves on the vext ocean pool.
To solace then these rougher toils, he try'd
Or verses fram'd that well might wake Apollo's lyre.
Accomplish'd thus he from the woods issued, Full of great aims, and bent on bold emprize; The work, which long he in his breast had brew'd, Now to perform he ardent did devise; To wit, a barbarous world to civilize. Earth was till then a boundless forest wild; Nought to be seen but savage wood, and skies; No cities nourish'd arts, no culture smil'd, No government, no laws, no gentle manners mild.
A rugged wight, the worst of brutes, was man;
It would exceed the purport of my song,
He pranc'd along, disdaining gate or bar. Meantime, the bard on milk-white palfrey rode; An honest sober beast, that did not mar His meditations, but full softly trode ; And much they moraliz'd as thus yfere they yode
They talk'd of virtue, and of human bliss. What else so fit for man to settle well? And still their long researches met in this, This truth of truths, which nothing can refel : "From virtue's fount the purest joys out-well, Sweet rills of thought that cheer the conscious soul;
While vice pours forth the troubled streams of Hell, The which, howe'er disguis'd, at last with dole Will, through the tortur'd breast, their fiery torrent roll."
At length it dawn'd, that fatal valley gay,
On the cool height awhile our palmers stay, And spite ev'n of themselves their senses cheer; Then to the wizard's wonne their steps they steer. Like a green isle, it broad beneath them spread, With gardens round, and wandering currents clear, And tufted groves to shade the meadow bed, Sweet airs and song; and without hurry all seem'd glad.
"As God shall judge me, knight, we must forgive"
Ah! nought is pure. It cannot be denied,
Come, let us those we can to real bliss entice."
Life rising still on life, in higher tone,
Nor needeth proof; to prove it were, I wis, To prove the beauteous world excels the brute abyss.
"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 slumberous 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
"It was not by vile loitering in ease
That Greece obtain'd the brighter palm of art, That soft yet ardent Athens learnt to please, To keen the wit, and to sublime the heart, In all supreme! complete in every part! It was not thence majestic Rome arose, And o'er the nations shook her conquering dart: For sluggard's brow the laurel never grows; Renown is not the child of indolent repose.
"Had unambitious mortals minded nought, But in loose joy their time to wear away; Had they alone the lap of dalliance sought, Pleas'd on her 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 soar'd to fame, none honor'd been, none prais'd.
"Great Homer's song had never fir'd the breast
Ne had my master Spenser charm'd his Mulla's plains.
"Dumb too had been the sage historic Muse, And perish'd all the sons of ancient fame; Those starry lights of virtue, that diffuse Through the dark depth of time their vivid flame, Had all been lost with such as have no name. Who then had scorn'd his ease for others' good? Who then had toil'd rapacious men to tame? Who in the public breach devoted stood, And for his country's cause been prodigal of blood?
"But should your hearts to fame unfeeling be,
O leaden-hearted men to be in love with death!
"Ah! what avail the largest gifts of Heaven, When drooping health and spirits go amiss? How tasteless then whatever can be given! Health is the vital principle of bliss, And exercise of health. In proof of this, Behold the wretch, who slugs his life away, Soon swallow'd in disease's sad abyss; While he whom toil has brac'd, or manly play, Has light as air each limb, each thought as clear as day.
"O, who can speak the vigorous joy 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 pleas. aunce breeds?
"But here, instead, is foster'd every ill,
Where pleasure's roses, void of serpents, grow, Sincere as sweet; come, follow this good knight, And you will bless the day that brought him to your sight.
"Some he will lead to courts, and some to camps; To senates some, and public sage debates, Where, by the solemn gleam of midnight-lamps, The world is pois'd, and manag'd mighty states; To high discovery some, that new-creates The face of Earth; some to the thriving mart; Some to the rural reign, and softer fates; To the sweet Muses some, who raise the heart; All glory shall be yours, all nature, and all art.
"There are, I see, who listen to my lay, Who wretched sigh for virtue, but despair. All may be done,' methinks I hear them say, 'Ev'n 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, And from the powerful arms of sloth get free. "Tis rising from the dead :—Alas!—it cannot be !'
"Would you then learn to dissipate the band
Here to mankind indulg'd: control desire :
"Heavens! can you then thus waste, in shameful wise,
Your few important days of trial here?
Through endless states of being, still more near