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Great idol of mankind! we neither claim
The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame!
But safe in deserts from th'applause of men,
Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen.
'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from fight
Those acts of goodness, which themselves requite.
O let us ftill the secret joy partake,
To follow virtue e'en for virtue's sake. 365
And live there men, who flight immortal fame?
Who then with incense shall adore our name?
But, mortals ! know, 'tis still our greatest pride
To blaze those virtues, which the good would hide.
Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath, 370
These must not sleep in darkness and in death.
She said: in air the trembling mufic floats,
And on the winds triumphant swell the notes ;
So soft, tho' high, so loud, and yet so clear,
Ev’n liftning Angels lean from heav'n to hear : 375
To furthest shores th’Ambrosial spirit flies,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
(Quoth she) thou Eolus, I hote,
And ring these folkes workes by rote,
That all the world may of it heare !
And he can blow their loos so cleare,
In his golden clarioune,
Through the world went the soune,
All so kindly, and eke so soft,
That their fame was blown aloft.
Next these a youthful train their vows'exprefs’d, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroid'ry dress'd: Hither, they cry'd, direct your eyes, and see 380 The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry; Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays, Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days; Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care To
pay due visits, and address the fair: 385 In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, But still in fancy vanquish'd ev'ry maid; Of unknown Ducheffes lewd tales we tell, Yet, would the world believe us, all were well. The joy let others have, and we the name, 390 And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.
The Queen affents, the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a Lady's honour dies.
Pleas'd with the ftrange success, vast numbers prest Around the shrine, and made the same request: 395 What you (ihe cry'd) unlearn'd in arts to please, Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n fatigu'd with ease,
IMITATIONS. VER. 378. Next these a youthful train, etc.] The Reader night compare these twenty-eight lines following, which contain he same matter, with eighty-four of Chaucer, beginning thus ;
Tho came the fixth companye,
And gan fast to Fame cry, etc. seing too prolix to be here inserted. P.
Who lose a length of nndeserving days,
Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise?
To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall,
The people's fable, and the scorn of all.
Straight the black clarion sends a horrid found,
Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round,
Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud,
And scornful hisses run thro' all the croud. 405
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave their country, or usurp a throne ; Or who their glory’s dire foundation lay'd On sov'reigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd; Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix, Of crooked counsels and dark politics ;
411 Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne, And beg to make th’immortal treasons known. The trumpet roars, long Alaky flames expire, With sparks, that seem`d to set the world on fire.415 At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghaft, And startled nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, some pow'r unknown Strait chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from the throne.
Ver. 406. Last, those who boast of mighty, etc.]
Tho came another companye,
That had y-done the treachery, etc. P. Ver. 418. This baving beard and seen, etc.] The Scene here changes from the temple of Fame to that of Rumour, which is almost entirely Chaucer's. The particulars follow.
Before my view appear'd a structure fair, 420
Its fite uncertain, if in earth or air;
With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round;
With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound ;
Not less in number were the spacious doors,
Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores ; 425
Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day,
Pervious to winds, and open ev'ry way.
Tho saw I stonde in a valey,
Under the castle fast by
A house, that Domus Dedali
That Labyrinthus cleped is,
Nas made so wonderly, I wis,
Ne half so queintly y-wrought;
And evermo as swift as thought,
This queint house about went,
That never more it still stent
And eke this house hath of entrees
As many as leaves are on trees,
In summer, when they ben grene ;
And in the roof yet men may sene,
A thousand hoels and well mo
To letten the soune out go ;
And by day in every tide
Ben all the doors open wide,
And by night each one unshet;
No porter is there one to let,
No manner tydings in to pace:
Ne never rest is in that place. P.
As flames by nature to the skies ascend,
As weighty bodies to the centre tend,
As to the sea returning rivers roll,
And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole;
Hither, as to their proper place, arise
All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear ;
Nor ever silence, rest, or peace is here.
As on the smooth expanse of cryftal lakes
The sinking stone at first a circle makes ;
The trembling surface by the motion stirr'd,
Spreads in a second circle, then a third ;
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance, 440
Fill all the wat'ry plain, and to the margin dance:
Thus ev'ry voice and found, when first they break,
On neighb’ring air a soft impression make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above ; 445
Thro’undulating air the sounds are sent,
And spread o'er all the Auid element.
There various news I heard of love and strife, Of peace and war, health, sickness, death and life,
IMITATIONS. Ver. 428. As flames by nature to the, etc.] This thought is transferred hither out of the third book of Fame, where it takes up no less than one hundred and twenty verses, beginning thus,
Geffray, thou wottest well this, etc. P.
VER. 448. There various news I beard, etc.]
Of reft, of labour, of voyages,