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Virgil has taken care to raise the subject of each Georgie. In the first, he has only dead matter on which to work. In the second, he just steps on the world of life, and describes that degree of it which is to be found in vegetables. In the third, he advances to animals : and, in the last, he singles out the Bee, which may be
reckoned the most sagacious of them, for his subject. In this Georgic, he shews us what station is most proper for the
bees, and when they begin to gather honey; how to call them home when they swarm; and how to part them when they are engaged in battle. From hence he takes occasion to discover their different kinds; and, after an excursion, relates their prudent and politic administration of affairs, and the several diseases that often rage in their hives, with the proper symptoms and remedies of euch disease. In the last place, he lays down a method of repairing their kind, supposing their whole breed lost; and gives at large the history of its invention,
He gifts of heaven my following song pursues, Aërial honey, and ambrosial dews. Mæcenas, read this other part, that sings Embattled squadrons, and adventurous kingsA mighty pomp, though made of little things.
Their arms, their arts, their manners, I disclose,
And how they war, and whence the people rose.
Slight is the subject, but the praise not small,
If heaven assist, and Phoebus hear my call.
First, for thy bees a quiet station find,
And lodge them under covert of the wind,
(For winds, when homeward they return, will drive
The loaded carriers from their evening hive,)
Far from the cows' and goats' insulting crew,
That trample down the flowers, and brush the dew.
The painted lizard, and the birds of prey,
Foes of the frugal kind, be far away-
The titmouse, and the pecker's hungry brood,
And Procne, with her bosom stained in blood :
These rob the trading citizens, and bear
The trembling captives through the liquid air,
And for their
callow young a cruel feast prepare. But near a living stream their mansion place, Edged round with moss, and tufts of matted grass : And plant (the winds’ impetuous rage to stop) Wild olive-trees, or palms, before the busy shop; That, when the youthful prince, * with proud alarm, Calls out the venturous colony to swarmWhen first their way through yielding air they wing, New to the pleasures of their native springThe banks of brooks may make a cool retreat For the raw soldiers from the scalding heat, And neighbouring trees with friendly shade invite The troops, unused to long laborious flight. Then o'er the running stream, or standing lake, A passage for thy weary people make; With osier floats the standing water strow; Of massy stones make bridges, if it flow; That basking in the sun thy bees may lie, And, resting there, their flaggy pinions dry, When, late returning home, the laden host By raging winds is wrecked upon the coast,
Wild thyme and savory set around their cell,
Sweet to the taste, and fragrant to the smell :
Set rows of rosemary with flowering stem,
And let the purple violets drink the stream.
Whether thou build the palace of thy bees
With twisted osiers, or with barks of trees,
Make but a narrow mouth : for, as the cold
Congeals into a lump the liquid gold,
So 'tis again dissolved by summer's heat
And the sweet labours both extremes defeat.
And therefore, not in vain, the industrious kind
With dauby wax and flowers the chinks have lined,
And, with their stores of gathered glue, contrive
To stop the vents and crannies of their hive.
Not birdlime, or Idæan pitch, produce
A moie tenacious mass of clammy juice.
Nor bees are lodged in hives alone, but found. In chambers of their own beneath the ground; Their vaulted roofs are hung in pumices, And in the rotten trunks of hollow trees.
But plaster thou the chinky hives with clay, And leafy branches o'er their lodgings lay: Nor place them where too deep a water flows, Or where the yew, their pois nous neighbour, grows; Nor roast red crabs, to offend the niceness of their
nose; Nor near the steaming stench of muddy ground; Nor hollow rocks that render back the sound, And doubled images of voice rebound.
For what remains, when golden suns appear, And under earth have driven the winter year, The winged nation wanders through the skies, And o'er the plains and shady forest flies; Then, stooping on the meads and leafy bowers, They skim the floods, and sip the purple flowers. Exalted hence, and drunk with secret joy, Their young succession all their cares employ:
They breed, they brood, instruct and educate,
And make provision for the future state ;
They work their waxen lodgings in their hives,
And labour honey to sustain their lives.
But when thou seest a swarming cloud arise,
That sweeps aloft, and darkens all the skies,
The motions of their hasty flight attend;
And know, to floods or woods, their airy march they
Then melfoil beat, and honey-suckles pound;
With these alluring savours strew the ground;
2 And mix with tinkling brass the cymbals droning
Straight to their ancient cells, recalled from air,
The reconciled deserters will repair.
But, if intestine broils alarm the hive,
(For two pretenders oft for empire strive,)
The vulgar in divided factions jar;
And murmuring sounds proclaim the civil war.
Inflamed with ire, and trembling with disdain,
Scarce can their limbs their mighty souls contain
With shouts, the coward's courage they excite,
And martial clangors call them out to fight;
With hoarse alarms the hollow camp rebounds,
That imitate the trumpet's angry sounds;
Then to their common standard they repair';
The nimble horsemen scour the fields of air;
In form of battle drawn, they issue forth,
And every knight is proud to prove his worth.
Prest for their country's honour, and their king's,
On their sharp beaks they whet their pointed stings,
And exercise their arms, and tremble with their
Full in the midst the haughty monarchs ride ;
The trusty guards come up, and close the side;
With shouts the daring foe to battle is defied.
Thus, in the season of unclouded spring,
To war they follow their undaunted king,
Crowd through their gates, and, in the fields of light,
The shocking squadrons meet in mortal fight.
Headlong they fall from high, and, wounded, wound,
And heaps of slaughtered soldiers bite the ground.
Hard hailstones lie not thicker on the plain,
Nor shaken oaks such showers of acorns rain.
With gorgeous wings, the marks of sovereign sway, ,
The two contending princes make their way;
Intrepid through the midst of danger go,
Their friends encourage and amaze the foe.
With mighty souls in narrow bodies prest,
They challenge, and encounter breast to breast;
So fixed on fame, unknowing how to fly,
And obstinately bent to win or die,
That long the doubtful combat they maintain,
Till one prevails--for one can only reign.
Yet all these dreadful deeds, this deadly fray,
A cast of scattered dust will soon allay,
And undecided leave the fortune of the day.
When both the chiefs are sundered from the fight,
Then to the lawful king restore his right;
And let the wasteful prodigal be slain,
That he, who best deserves, alone may reign.
With ease distinguished is the regal race:
One monarch wears an honest open face;
Shaped to his size, and godlike to behold,
His royal body shines with specks of gold,
And ruddy scales; for empire he designed,
Is better born, and of a nobler kind.
That other looks like nature in disgrace:
Gaunt are his sides, and sullen is his face ;
And like their grisly prince appear his gloomy race,
Grim, ghastly, rugged, like a thirsty train
That long have travelled through a desert plain,
And spit from their dry chaps the gathered dust