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With all the lodges that thereto pertained,
No living creature could be seen to stray;
While solitude and perfect silence reigned,
So that to think you dreamt you almost was constrained.
The doors, that knew no shrill alarming bell
Ne cursèd knocker plied by villain's hand,
Self-opened into halls, where who can tell
What elegance and grandeur wide expand,
The pride of Turkey and of Persia land ?-
Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread,
And couches stretch around in seemly band,
And endless pillows rise to prop the head;
So that each spacious room was one full-swelling bed.
And everywhere huge covered tables stood,
With wines high-flavoured and rich viands crowned; 200
Whatever sprightly juice or tasteful food
On the green bosom of this earth are found,
And all old ocean genders in his round:
Some hand unseen these silently displayed,
Even undemanded by a sign or sound;
205 You need but wish, and, instantly obeyed, Fair-ranged the dishes rose, and thick the glasses played.
Here freedom reigned, without the least alloy;
Nor gossip's tale, nor ancient maiden's gall,
Nor saintly spleen, durst murmur at our joy,
And with envenomed tongue our pleasures pall:
For why? there was but one great rule for all,
To wit, that each should work his own desire,
And eat, drink, study, sleep, as it may fall,
Or melt the time in love, or wake the lyre,
215 And carol what, unbid, the Muses might inspire.
The rooms with costly tapestry were hung,
Where was inwoven many a gentle tale,
Such as of old the rural poets sung
Or of Arcadian or Sicilian vale:
Reclining lovers, in the lonely dale,
Poured forth at large the sweetly tortured heart.
Or, looking tender passion, swelled the gale,
And taught charmed Echo to resound their smart, While flocks, woods, streams, around, repose and peace
Those pleased the most, where, by a cunning hand,
Depainted was the patriarchal age:
What time Dan Abraham left the Chaldee land,
And pastured on from verdant stage to stage,
Where fields and fountains fresh could best engage. 230
Toil was not then; of nothing took they heed
But with wild beasts the sylvan war to wage,
And o'er vast plains their herds and flocks to feed :
Blest sons of Nature they! true Golden Age indeed!
Sometimes the pencil, in cool airy halls,
Bade the gay bloom of vernal landskips rise,
Or autumn's varied shades imbrown the walls;
Now the black tempest strikes the astonished eyes;
Now down the steep the flashing torrent flies;
The trembling sun now plays o'er ocean blue,
And now rude mountains frown amid the skies :
Whate'er Lorraine light-touched with softening hue,
Or savage Rosa dashed, or learnèd Poussin drew.
Each sound, too, here to languishment inclined,
Lulled the weak bosom, and inducèd ease.
Aëreal music in the warbling wind,
At distance rising oft, by small degrees
Nearer and nearer came, till o'er the trees
It hung and breathed such soul-dissolving airs
As did, alas! with soft perdition please:
Intangled deep in its enchanting snares,
The listening heart forgot all duties and all cares.
A certain music, never known before,
Here lulled the pensive, melancholy mind;
Full easily obtained: behoves no more
But sidelong to the gently waving wind
To lay the well-tuned instrument reclined;
From which, with airy flying fingers light,
Beyond each mortal touch the most refined,
The gods of winds drew sounds of deep delight— 260 Whence, with just cause, the harp of Æolus it hight.
Ah me! what hand can touch the string so fine?
Who up the lofty diapason roll
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine,
Then let them down again into the soul?
Now rising love they fanned; now pleasing dole
They breathed, in tender musings, through the heart;
And now a graver sacred strain they stole,
As when seraphic hands an hymn impart:
Wild-warbling Nature all, above the reach of Art!
Such the gay splendour, the luxurious state,
Of Caliphs old, who on the Tigris' shore,
In mighty Bagdat populous and great,
Held their bright court, where was of ladies store,
And verse, love, music still the garland wore:
When sleep was coy, the bard in waiting there
Cheered the lone midnight with the Muse's lore;
Composing music bade his dreams be fair,
And music lent new gladness to the morning air.
Near the pavilions where we slept, still ran
Soft-tinkling streams, and dashing waters fell,
And sobbing breezes sighed, and oft began
(So worked the wizard) wintry storms to swell
As heaven and earth they would together mell;
At doors and windows, threatening, seemed to call
The demons of the tempest, growling fell,
Yet the least entrance found they none at all: Whence sweeter grew our sleep, secure in massy hall. 1736-48.
LOVE OF FAME, THE UNIVERSAL PASSION
Narcissus the Tartarian club disclaims,
Nay, a Freemason with some terror names;
Omits no duty, nor can envy say
He missed, these many years, the church or play.
He makes no noise in Parliament, 't is true,
But pays his debts and visit, when 't is due.
His character and gloves are ever clean,
And then he can out-bow the bowing dean.
A smile eternal on his lip he wears,
Which equally the wise and worthless shares.
In gay fatigues this most undaunted chief,
Patient of idleness beyond belief,
Most charitably lends the town his face,
For ornament, in ev'ry public place:
As sure as cards, he to th' assembly comes,
And is the furniture of drawing-rooms;
When ombre calls, his hand and heart are free,
And, joined to two, he fails not-to make three.
Narcissus is the glory of his race,
For who does nothing with a better grace?
Lavinia is polite, but not profane,
To church as constant as to Drury Lane.
She decently, in form, pays Heaven its due,
And makes a civil visit to her pew.
Her lifted fan, to give a solemn air,
Conceals her face, which passes for a prayer;
Curtsies to curtsies then, with grace, succeed-
Not one the fair omits but at the creed.
Or if she joins the service, 't is to speak :
Through dreadful silence the pent heart might break; 10
Untaught to bear it, women talk away
To God himself, and fondly think they pray;
But sweet their accent, and their air refined,
For they 're before their Maker-and mankind :
When ladies once are proud of praying well, 15
Satan himself will toll the parish bell.
NIGHT, SABLE GODDESS
Tired nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes,
Swift on his downy pinion flies from woe,
And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose,
I wake: how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous, where my wrecked, desponding thought
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost;
Though now restored, 't is only change of pain,
A bitter change! severer for severe.
The day too short for my distress; and Night,
Even in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden scepter o'er a slumbering world.
Silence how dead! and darkness how profound !
Nor eye nor list’ning ear an object finds :
Creation sleeps. 'T is as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause,
An awful pause, prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled !
Fate, drop the curtain! I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness, solemn sisters, twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought
To reason, and on reason build resolve
(That column of true majesty in man),
Assist me! I will thank you in the grave,
The grave your kingdom; there this frame shall fall
A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?-
Thou Who didst put to flight
Drimeval Silence, when the morning stars,