THE JUDGMENT of MIDAS.
TIMOLUS, MELINOE and AGNO, two Wood-nymphs.
1 AGNO, To-day we wear our acron crown,
2 The parsley wreath be thine; it is most meet
3 We grace the presence of these rival gods
4 With all the honours of our woodland weeds.
5 Thine was the task, Melinoe, to prepare
6 The turf-built theatre, the boxen bow'r,
7 And all the sylvan scenery.
7 That task,
8 Sire of these shades, is done. On yester eve,
9 Assisted by a thousand friendly fays,
10 While fav'ring Dian held her glitt'ring lamp,[Page 224]
11 We ply'd our nightly toils, nor ply'd we long,
12 For Art was not the mistress of our revels,
13 'Twas gentle Nature, whom we jointly woo'd;
14 She heard, and yielded to the forms we taught her,
15 Yet still remain'd herself — Simplicity,
16 Fair Nature's genuine daughter, was there too,
17 So soft, yet so magnificent of mien,
18 She shone all ornament without a gem.
19 The blithsome Flora, ever sweet and young,
20 Offer'd her various store: We cull'd a few
21 To robe, and recommend our darksome verdure,
22 But shun'd to be luxuriant. —
22 It was well.
23 Agno, thy looks are pensive: What dejects
24 Thy pleasure-painted aspect? Sweetest nymph,
25 That ever trod the turf, or sought the shade,
26 Speak, nor conceal a thought.
26 King of the woods,
27 I tremble for the royal arbiter.
28 'Tis hard to judge, whene'er the great contend,
29 Sure to displease the vanquish'd: When such pow'rs
30 Contest the laurel with such ardent strife,
31 'Tis not the sentence of fair equity,
32 But 'tis their pleasure that is right or wrong.
33 'Tis well remark'd, and on experience founded.
34 I do remember that my sister Ida
35 (Whenas on her own shadowy mount we met,
36 To celebrate the birth-day of the Spring,
37 And th' orgies of the May) wou'd oft recount
38 The rage of the indignant goddesses,
39 When shepherd Paris to the Cyprian queen,
40 With hand obsequious gave the golden toy.
41 Heav'n's queen, the sister and the wife of Jove,
42 Rag'd like a feeble mortal; fall'n she seem'd,
43 Her deity in human passions lost:
44 Ev'n Wisdom's goddess, jealous of her form,
45 Deem'd her own attribute her second virtue.
46 Both vow'd and sought revenge.
46 If such the fate
47 Of him who judg'd aright, what must be his
48 Who shall mistake the cause? for much I doubt
49 The skill of Midas, since his fatal wish:
50 Which Bacchus heard, and curs'd him with the gift.
51 Yet grant him wise, to err is human still,
52 And mortal is the consequence.
52 Most true.
53 Besides, I fear him partial; for with Pan[Page 226]
54 He tends the sheep-walks all the live-long day,
55 And on the braky lawn to the shrill pipe
56 In aukward gambols he affects to dance,
57 Or tumbles to the tabor — 'tis not likely
58 That such an umpire shou'd be equitable,
59 Unless he guess at justice.
59 Soft — no more —
60 'Tis ours to wish for Pan, and fear from Phoebus,
61 Whose near approach I hear: Ye stately cedars
62 Forth from your summits bow your awful heads,
63 And reverence the gods. Let my whole mountain tremble,
64 Not with a fearful, but religious awe,
65 And holiness of horror. You, ye winds,
66 That make soft, solemn music 'mongst the leaves,
67 Be all to stillness hush'd; and thou their echo
68 Listen, and hold thy peace; for see they come.
SCENE opens, and discovers Apollo, attended by Clio and Melpomene, on the right hand of Midas, and Pan on the left, whom Timolus, with Agno and Melinoe, join.
69 Begin, celestial candidates for praise,
70 Begin the tuneful contest: I, mean while,[Page 227]
71 With heedful notice and attention meet,
72 Will weigh your merits, and decide your cause.
73 From Jove begin the rapturous song,
74 To him our earliest lays belong,
75 We are his offspring all;
76 'Twas he, whose looks supremely bright,
77 Smil'd darksome chaos into light,
78 And fram'd this glorious ball.
79 Sylvanus, in his shadowy grove,
80 The seat of rural peace and love,
81 Attends my Doric lays;
82 By th' altar on the myrtle mount,
83 Where plays the wood-nymph's favourite fount,
84 I'll celebrate his praise.
85 Parnassus, where's thy boasted height,
86 Where, Pegasus, thy fire and flight,
87 Where all your thoughts so bold and free,
88 Ye daughters of Mnemosyne?
89 If Pan o'er Phoebus can prevail,
90 And the great god of verse shou'd fail?
91 From nature's works, and nature's laws,
92 We find delight, and seek applause;[Page 228]
93 The prattling streams and zephyrs bland,
94 And fragrant flow'rs by zephyrs fann'd,
95 The level lawns and buxom bow'rs,
96 Speak Nature and her works are ours.
97 What were all your fragrant bow'rs,
98 Splendid days, and happy hours,
99 Spring's verdant robe, fair Flora's blush,
100 And all the poets of the bush?
101 What the paintings of the grove,
102 Rural music, mirth and love?
103 Life and ev'ry joy wou'd pall,
104 If Phoebus shone not on you all.
105 We chant to Phoebus, king of day,
106 The morning and the evening lay.
107 But Pan, each satyre, nymph and fawn,
108 Adore as laureat of the lawn;
109 From peevish March to joyous June
110 He keeps our restless souls in tune,
111 Without his oaten reed and song,
112 Phoebus, thy days wou'd seem too long.
113 Am I not he, who prescious from on high,
114 Sends a long look thro' all futurity?
115 Am I not he, to whom alone belong
116 The powers of Med'cine, Melody and Song? [Page 229]
117 Diffusely lib'ral, as divinely bright,
118 Eye of the universe and sire of light.
119 O'er cots and vales, and every shepherd swain,
120 Inpeaceable pre-eminence I reign;
121 With pipe on plain, and nymph in secret grove,
122 The day is music, and the night is love.
123 I blest with these, nor envy nor desire
124 Thy gaudy chariot, or thy golden lyre.
125 Soon as the dawn dispels the dark,
126 Illustrious Phoebus 'gins t' appear,
127 Proclaimed by the herald lark,
128 And ever-wakeful chanticleer,
129 The Persian pays his morning vow,
130 And all the turban'd easterns bow.
131 Soon as the evening shades advance,
132 And the gilt glow-worm glitters fair,
133 For rustic gambol, gibe and dance,
134 Fawns, nymphs and dryads all prepare,
135 Pan shall his swains from toil relieve,
136 And rule the revels of the eve.
137 In numbers as smooth as Callirhoe's stream,
138 Glide the silver-ton'd verse when Apollo's the theme;[Page 230]
139 While on his own mount Cyparissus is seen,
140 And Daphne preserves her immutable green.
141 We'll hail Hyperion with transport so long,
142 Th' inventor, the patron, and subject of song.
143 While on the calm ocean the Halcyon shall breed,
144 And Syrinx shall sigh with her musical reed,
145 While fairies, and satyres, and fawns shall approve
146 The music, the mirth, and the life of the grove,
147 So long shall our Pan be than thee more divine,
148 For he shall be rising when thou shalt decline.
149 No more — To Pan and to his beauteous nymphs
150 I do adjudge the prize, as is most due.
Enter two Satyres, and crown MIDAS with a pair of ass's ears
151 Such rural honours all the gods decree,
152 To those who sing like Pan, and judge like thee.