A POEM: IN TWO CANTOS.
Written in Imitation of the Style and Manner of SPENSER's FAIRY QUEEN.
Inscribed to Lady LANGHAM, Widow of Sir JOHN LANGHAM, Bart.
Unum studium vere liberale est, quod liberum facit. Hoc sapientiae studium est, sublime, forte, magnanimum: caetera pusilla & puerilia sunt. — Plus scire velle quàm sit satis intemperantiae genus est. Quid, quòd ista liberalium artium consectatio molestos, verbosos, intempestivos, sibi placentes facit, & ideo non dicentes necessaria, quia supervacua didicerunt. SEN. Ep. 88.
1 O Goodly DISCIPLINE! from heav'n y-sprong!
2 Parent of Science, queen of Arts refin'd!
3 To whom the Graces, and the Nine belong:
4 O! bid those Graces, in fair chorus join'd[Page 10]
5 With each bright Virtue that adorns the mind!
6 O bid the Muses, thine harmonious train,
7 Who by thy aid erst humaniz'd mankind,
8 Inspire, direct, and moralize the strain,
9 That doth essay to teach thy treasures how to gain!
10 And THOU, whose pious and maternal care,
11 The substitute of heavenly Providence,
12 With tenderest love my orphan life did rear,
13 And train me up to manly strength and sense;
14 With mildest awe, and virtuous influence,
15 Directing my unpractis'd wayward feet
16 To the smooth walks of Truth and Innocence;
17 Where Happiness heart-felt, Contentment sweet,
18 Philosophy divine aye hold their blest retreat.
19 THOU, most belov'd, most honour'd, most rever'd!
20 Accept this verse, to thy large merit due!
21 And blame me not, if by each tye endear'd,
22 Of nature, gratitude, and friendship true,
23 The whiles this moral thesis I pursue,
24 And trace the plan of goodlya
a Nurture, Education. Nurture o'er,
25 I bring thy modest virtues into view;
26 And proudly boast that from thy precious store,
27 Which erst enrich'd my heart, I drew this sacred lore,
28 And thus, I ween, thus shall I best repay
29 The valued gifts, thy careful love bestow'd;
30 If imitating THEE, well as I may,
31 I labour to diffuse th' important good,
32 'Till this great truth by all be understood;
33 "That all the pious duties which we owe,
34 "Our parents, friends, our country and our God;
35 "The seeds of every virtue here below,
36 "From Discipline alone, and early Culture grow.
The Knight, as tob
b Phaedîa is a Greek word, signifying Education. PAEDÎA's house
He his young Son conveys,
Is staid by CUSTOM; with him fights,
And his vain pride dismays.
1 A Gentle KNIGHT there was, whose noble deeds
2 O'er Fairy Land by Fame were blazon'd round:
3 For warlike enterprize, and sagec
c Areeds, counsels. areeds
4 Emong the chief alike was he renown'd;[Page 12]
5 Whence with the marks of highest honours crown'd
6 By GLORIANA, in domestick peace,
7 That port, to which the wise are ever bound,
8 He anchor'd was, and chang'd the tossing seas
9 Of bustling busy life, for calm sequester'd ease.
10 There in domestick virtue rich and great
11 As erst in publick, 'mid his wide domain,
12 Long in primaeval patriarchal state,
13 The lord, the judge, the father of the plain,
14 He dwelt; and with him, in the golden chain
15 Of wedded faith y-link'd, a matron sage
16 Aye dwelt; sweet partner of his joy and pain,
17 Sweet charmer of his youth, friend of his age,
18 Skill'd to improve his bliss, his sorrows to assuage.
19 From this fair union, not of sordid gain,
20 But merit similar and mutual love,
21 True source of lineal virtue, sprung a train
22 Of youths and virgins; like the beauteous grove,
23 Which round the temple of Olympick Jove,
24 Begirt with youthful bloom thed
d Parent tree, the sacred olive.] This tree grew in the Altis, or sacred grove of Olympick Jupiter at Olympia, having, as the Eleans pretended, been originally planted there by Hercules. It was esteemed sacred, and from that were taken the Olympick crowns. See Pausanias. Eliac. and the Dissertation on the Olympick Games. parent tree,
25 The sacred olive; whence old Elis wove[Page 13]
26 Her verdant crowns of peaceful victory,
e Guerdons, rewards. guerdons of bold strength, and swift activity.
28 So round their noble parents goodly rose
29 These generous scyons: they with watchful care
30 Still, as the swelling passions 'gan disclose
31 The buds of future virtues, did prepare
32 With prudent culture the young shoots to rear:
33 And aye in this endearing pious toil
34 They by af
f Palmer, pilgrim. The person here signified is Mr. Locke, characteriz'd by his works. Palmer sage instructed were,
35 Who from deep thought and studious search erewhile
36 Had learnt to mend the heart, and till the human soil.
37 For by coelestial Wisdom whilom led
38 Through all th' apartments of th' immortal mind,
39 He view'd the secret stores, and mark'd theg
g Sted, place, station, sted
40 To judgment, wit, and memory assign'd;
41 And how sensation and reflection join'd
42 To fill with images her darksome grotte,
43 Where variously disjointed or combin'd,
44 As reason, fancy, or opinion wrought,
45 Their various masks they play'd, and fed her pensive thought.
h Alse, also, further.Alse through the fields of Science had he stray'd
47 With eager search, and sent his piercing eye
48 Through each learn'd school, each philosophick shade,
49 Where Truth and Virtue erst were deem'd to lie;
50 If haply the fair vagrants hei
i Mote, might. mote spy,
51 Or hear the musick of their charming lore:
52 But all unable there to satisfy
53 His curious soul, he turn'd him to explore
54 The sacred writ of Faith; to learn, believe, adore.
55 Thence foe profess'd of Falshood and Deceit,
56 Those sly artificers of tyranny,
k Aye, ever. Aye holding up before uncertain feet
58 His faithful light, to Knowledge, Liberty,
59 Mankind he led, to Civil policy,
60 And mild Religion's charitable law;
61 That fram'd by Mercy and Benignity
62 The persecuting sword forbids to draw,
63 And free-created souls with penal terrours awe.
l Ne, nor.Ne with these glorious gifts elate and vain
65 Lock'd he his wisdom up in churlish pride;
66 But, stooping from his height, would even deign
67 The feeble steps of Infancy to guide.[Page 15]
68 Eternal glory Him therefore betide!
69 Let every generous youth his praise proclaim!
70 Who, wand'ring through the world's rude forest wide,
71 By him hath been y-taught his course to frame
72 To Virtue's sweet abodes, and heav'n-aspiring Fame!
73 For this the FAIRY KNIGHT with anxious thought,
74 And fond paternal care his counsel pray'd;
75 And him of gentlest courtesy besought
76 His guidance to vouchsafe and friendly aid;
77 The while his tender offspring he convey'd,
78 Through devious paths to that secure retreat;
79 Where sage PAEDÎA, with each tuneful maid,
80 On a wide mount had fix'd her rural seat,
81 'Mid flow'ry gardens plac'd, untrod by vulgar feet.
82 And now forth-pacing with his blooming heir,
83 And that same virtuous Palmer them to guide;
84 Arm'd all to point, and on a courser fair
85 Y-mounted high, in military pride,
86 His little train before he slow did ride.
87 Him eke behind a gentle squirem
m Ensues, follows, ensues,
88 With his young lord aye marching side by side,
89 His counsellour and guard, in goodlyn
n Thews, manners. thews,
90 Who well had been brought up, and nurs'd by every Muse.
91 Thus as their pleasing journey they pursued,
92 With chearful argument beguiling pain;
93 Ere long descending from an hill they view'd
94 Beneath their eyes out-stretch'd a spacious plain,
95 That fruitful shew'd, and apt for every grain,
96 For pastures, vines and flow'rs; while Nature fair
97 Sweet-smiling all around with count'nanceo
o Fain, earnest, eager. fain
98 Seem'd to demand the tiller's art and care,
99 Her wildness to correct, her lavish waste repair.
100 Right good, I ween, and bounteous was the soil,
101 Aye wont in happy season to repay
102 With tenfold usury the peasant's toil.
103 But now 'twas ruin all, and wild decay;
104 Untill'd the garden and the fallow lay,
105 The sheep-shorne down with barrenp
p Brakes, briars. brakes o'ergrown
106 The whiles the merry peasants sport and play,
107 All as the publick evil were unknown,
108 Or every publick care from every breast was flown.
109 Astonish'd at a scene at once so fair
110 And so deform'd; with wonder and delight
111 At man's neglect, and Nature's bounty rare,
112 In studious thought a-while the Fairy Knight,[Page 17]
113 Bent on that goodlya
a Lond, land. lond his eager sight:
114 Then forward rush'd, impatient to descry
115 What towns and castles there-in wereb
b Empight, placed. empight;
116 For towns him seem'd, and castles he did spy,
117 As to th' horizon round he stretch'd his roaming eye.
118 Nor long way had they travell'd, ere they came
119 To a wide stream, that with tumultuous roar
120 Emongst rude rocks its winding course did frame.
121 Black was the wave and sordid, cover'd o'er
122 With angry foam, and stain'd with infants' gore.
123 Thereto along th' unlovely margin stood
124 A birchen grove that waving from the shore,
125 Aye cast upon the tide its falling bud,
126 And with its bitter juice empoison'd all the flood.
127 Right in the centre of the vale empight,
128 Not distant far a forked mountain rose;
129 In outward form presenting to the sight
130 That fam'd Parnassian hill, on whose fair brows
131 The Nine Aonian Sisters wont repose;
132 List'ning to sweet Castalia's sounding stream,
133 Which through the plains of Cirrha murm'ring flows;
134 But This to That compar'd mote justly seem
135 Ne fitting haunt for gods, ne worthy man's esteem.
136 For this nor founded deep, nor spredden wide,
137 Nor high up-rais'd above the level plain,
138 By toiling art through tedious years applied,
139 From various parts compil'd with studious pain,
c Erst, formerly. erst up-thrown; if so it mote attain,
141 Like that poetick mountain, to bed
d Hight, called, named. hight
142 The noble seat of Learning's goodly train,
143 Thereto, the more to captivate the sight,
144 It like a garden fair most curiously wase
e Dight, drest. dight.
145 In figur'd plots with leafy walls inclos'd,
146 By measure and by rule it was out-lay'd;
147 With symmetry so regular dispos'd,
148 That plot to plot still answer'd, shade to shade;
149 Each correspondent twain alike array'd
150 With like embellishments of plants and flow'rs,
151 Of statues, vases, spouting founts, that play'd
152 Through shells of Tritons their ascending show'rs,
153 And labyrinths involv'd and trelice-woven bow'rs.
154 There likewise mote be seen on every side
155 The yew obedient to the planter's will,
156 And shapely box of all their branching pride
157 Ungently shorne, and with preposterous skill[Page 19]
158 To various beasts and birds of sundry quill
159 Transform'd, and human shapes of monstrous size;
160 Huge as that giant-race, who, hill on hill
161 High-heaping, sought with impious vainf
f Emprize, enterprize, attempt. emprize,
162 Despite of thund'ring Jove, to scale the steepy skies.
163 Alse other wonders of the sportive shears
164 Fair Nature mis-adorning there were found;
165 Globes, spiral columns, pyramids and piers
166 With sprouting urns and budding statues crown'd;
167 And horizontal dials on the ground
168 In living box by cunning artists trac'd;
169 And gallies trim, on no long voyage bound,
170 But by their roots there ever anchor'd fast,
g All, used frequently by the old English poets for all-though. All were their bellying sails out-spread to every blast.
172 O'er all appear'd the mountain's forked brows
173 With terrasses on terrasses up-thrown;
174 And all along arrang'd in order'd rows,
175 And visto's broad, the velvet slopes adown
176 The ever-verdant trees of Daphne shone.
177 But aliens to the clime, and brought of old
178 From Latian plains, and Grecian Helicon,
179 They shrunk and languish'd in a foreign mold,
180 By changeful summers starv'd, and pinch'd by winter's cold.
181 Amid this verdant grove with solemn state,
182 On golden thrones of antique form reclin'd,
183 In mimick majesty Nine Virgins sate,
184 In features various, as unlike in mind:
185 Alse boasted they themselves of heav'nly kind,
186 And to the sweet Parnassian Nymphs allied;
187 Thence round their brows the Delphick bay they twin'd,
188 And matching with high names their apish pride,
189 O'er every learned school aye claim'd they to preside.
190 In antique garbs, for modern they disdain'd,
191 By Greek and Roman artistsh
h Whilom, formerly. whilom made,
192 Of various woofs, and variously distain'd
193 With tints of ev'ry hue, were they array'd;
194 And here and there ambitiously display'd
195 A purple shred of some rich robe, prepared
196 Erst by the Muses or th' Aonian Maid,
197 To deck great Tullius or the Mantuan Bard;
198 Which o'er each motley vest with uncouth splendor glared.
199 And well their outward vesture did express
200 The bent and habit of their inward mind,
201 Affecting Wisdom's antiquated dress,
202 And usages by Time cast far behind.[Page 21]
203 Thence, to the charms of younger Science blind,
204 The customs, laws, the learning, arts and phrase
205 Of their own countries they with scorn declin'd;
206 Ne sacred Truth herself would they embrace,
207 Unwarranted, unknown in their fore-fathers' days.
208 Thus ever backward casting their survey;
209 To Rome's old ruins and the groves forlorn
210 Of elder Athens, which in prospect lay
211 Stretch'd out beneath the mountain, would they turn
212 Their busy search, and o'er the rubbish mourn.
213 Then gathering up with superstitious care,
214 Each little scrap, however foul or torn,
215 In grave harangues they boldly would declare,
216 This Ennius, Varro; This the Stagyrite did wear.
217 Yet, under names of venerable sound,
218 While o'er the world they stretch'd their aweful rod;
219 Through all the provinces of Learning own'd
220 For teachers of whate'er is wise and good.
221 Alse from each region to theiri
i Drad, dreadful. drad abode
222 Came youth unnumber'd, crowding all to taste
223 The streams of Science; which united flow'd
224 Adown the mount, from nine rich sources cast;
225 And to the vale below in one rude torrent pass'd.
226 O'er every source, protectress of the stream,
227 One of those Virgin Sisters did preside;
228 Who, dignifying with her noble name
229 Her proper flood, are pour'd into the tide
230 The heady vapours of scholastick pride
231 Despotical and abject, bold and blind,
232 Fierce in debate, and forward to decide;
233 Vain love of praise, with adulation join'd,
234 And disingenuous scorn, and impotence of mind.
235 Extending from the hill on every side,
236 In circuit vast a verdant valley spread;
237 Across whose uniform flat bosom glide
238 Ten thousand streams, in winding mazes led,
239 By various sluices from one common head;
240 A turbid mass of waters, vast, profound,
241 Hight of Philology the lake; and fed
242 By that rude torrent, which with roaring sound
243 Came tumbling from the hill, and flow'd the level round.
244 And every where this spacious valley o'er,
245 Fast by each stream was seen a numerous throng
246 Of beardless striplings to the birch-crown'd shore,
247 By nurses, guardians, fathers dragg'd along:[Page 23]
248 Who helpless, meek, and innocent of wrong,
249 Were torn reluctant from the tender side
250 Of their fond mothers, and byk
k Faitour, doer, from faire to do, and fait deed, commonly used by Spenser in a bad sense. faitours strong,
251 By pow'r made insolent, and hard by pride,
252 Were driv'n with furious rage, and lash'd into the tide.
253 On the rude bank with trembling feet they stood,
254 And casting round their oft-reverted eyes,
255 If haply they mote 'scape the hated flood,
256 Fill'd all the plain with lamentable cries;
257 But far away th' unheeding father flies,
258 Constrain'd his strong compunctions to repress;
259 While close behind, assuming the disguise
260 Of nurturing care, and smiling tenderness,
261 With secret scourges arm'd those griefly faitours press.
262 As on the steepy margin of a brook,
263 When the young sun with flowery Maia rides,
264 With innocent dismay a bleating flock
265 Crowd back, affrighted at the rolling tides:
266 The shepherd-swain at first exhorting chides
l Seely, simple. seely fear; at length impatient grown,
268 With his rude crook he wounds their tender sides;
269 And all regardless of their piteous moan,
270 Into the dashing wave compels them furious down.
271 Thus urg'd by mast'ring Fear and dol'rousl
l Teen, pain, grief. Teen
272 Into the current plung'd that infant crowd.
273 Right piteous was the spectacle, I ween,
274 Of tender striplings stain'd with tears and blood,
275 Perforce conflicting with the bitter flood;
276 And labouring to attain the distant shore,
277 Where holding forth the gown of manhood stood
278 The siren Liberty, and ever-more
279 Sollicited their hearts with her inchanting lore.
280 Irksome and long the passage was, perplex'd
281 With rugged rocks on which the raving tide
282 By sudden bursts of angry tempests vex'd
283 Oft dash'd the youth, whose strength mote ill abide
284 With head up-lifted o'er the waves to ride.
285 Whence many wearied ere they had o'er-past
286 The middle stream (for they in vain have tried)
287 Again return'dm
m Astounded, astonish'd. astounded and aghast;
288 Ne one regardful look would ever backward cast.
289 Some, of a rugged, more enduring frame,
290 Their toilsome course with patient pain pursu'd;
291 And tho' with many a bruise andn
n Muchel, much. muchel blame,
292 Eft hanging on the rocks, and eft embru'd[Page 25]
293 Deep in the muddy stream, with hearts subdu'd
294 And quail'd by labour, gain'd the shore at last,
295 But in life's practicko
o Lear, learning lear unskill'd and rude,
296 Forth to that forked hill they silent pac'd;
297 Where hid in studious shades their fruitless hours they waste.
298 Others of rich and noble lineage bred,
299 Though with the crowd to pass the flood constrain'd,
300 Yet o'er the crags with fond indulgence led
301 By hireling guides and in all depths sustain'd,
302 Skimm'd lightly o'er the tide, undipt, unstain'd,
303 Save with the sprinkling of the wat'ry spray:
304 And aye their proud prerogative maintain'd,
305 Of ignorance and ease and wanton play,
306 Soft harbingers of vice, and praemature decay.
307 A few, alas, how few! by heav'n's high will
308 With subtile spirits endow'd and sinews strong,
p Albe, although. Albe soreq
q Mated, amaz'd, scared. mated by the tempests shrill,
310 That bellow'd fierce and rife the rocks among,
311 By their own native vigour borne along
312 Cut briskly through the waves; and forces new
313 Gathering from toil, and ardor from the throng
314 Of rival youths, outstript the labouring crew,
315 And to the truer
r Parnasse, Parnassus. Parnasse, and heav'n-thron'd glory flew.
316 Dire was the tumult, and from every shore
317 Discordant echoes struck the deafen'd ear,
318 Heart-thrilling cries, with sobs ands
s Singults, sighs. singults sore
319 Short-interrupted, the imploring tear,
320 And furious stripes, and angry threats severe,
321 Confus'dly mingled with the jarring sound
322 Of all the various speeches thatt
t While-ere, formerly. while-ere
323 On Shinar's wide-spread champain did astound
324 High Babel's builders vain, and their proud works confound.
325 Much was the KNIGHT empassion'd at the scene,
326 But more his blooming son, whose tender breast
327 Empierced deep with sympathizing teen
328 On his pale cheek the signs of dread impress'd,
329 And fill'd his eyes with tears, which sore distress'd
330 Up to his sire he rais'd in mournful wise;
331 Who with sweet smiles paternal soon redress'd
332 His troublous thoughts, and clear'd each sad surmise;
333 Then turns his ready steed, and on his journey hies.
334 But far he had not march'd ere he was stay'd
335 By a rude voice, that like th' united sound
336 Of shouting myriads, through the valley bray'd,
337 And shook the groves, the floods, and solid ground:[Page 27]
338 The distant hills rebellow'd all around.
339 "Arrest, Sir Knight, it cried, thy fond career,
340 "Nor with presumptuous disobedience wound
341 "That aweful majesty which all revere!
342 "In my commands, Sir Knight, the voice of nations hear!
343 Quick turn'd the KNIGHT, and saw upon the plain
344 Advancing tow'rds him with impetuous gate,
345 And visage all inflamed with fierce disdain,
346 A monstrous GIANT, on whose brow elate
347 Shone the bright ensign of imperial state;
348 Albeit lawful kingdom he had none;
349 But laws and kingdoms wont he oft create,
350 And oft' times over both erect his throne,
351 While senates, priests and kings hisu
u Sov'ran, for sovereign. sov'ran sceptre own.
352 CUSTOM he hight; and aye in every land
353 Usurp'd dominion with despotick sway
354 O'er all he holds; and to his high command.
355 Constrains even stubborn Nature to obey;
356 Whom dispossessing oft, he doth assay
357 To govern in her right: and with a pace
358 So soft and gentle doth he win his way,
359 That she unwares is caught in his embrace,
360 And tho' deflowr'd and thrall'd nought feels her foul disgrace.
361 For nurt'ring, even from their tend'rest age,
362 The docile sons of men withouten pain,
363 By disciplines and rules to every stage
364 Of life accommodate, he doth them train
365 Insensibly to wear and hug his chain.
366 Alse his behests or gentle or severe,
367 Or good or noxious, rational or vain,
368 He craftily persuades them to revere,
369 As institutions sage, and venerable lear.
370 Protector therefore of that forked hill,
371 And mighty patron of those Sisters Nine,
372 Who there enthron'd, with many a copious rill
373 Feed the full streams, that through the valley shine,
374 He deemed was; and aye with rites divine,
x The Lacedemonians in order to make their children hardy and endure pain with constancy and courage, were accustomed to cause them to be scourged very severely. And I myself (says Plutarch, in his life of Lycurgus) have seen several of them endure whipping to death, at the foot of the altar of Diana surnamed Orthia. Like those, which Sparta's hardy race of yore
376 Were wont perform at fell Diana's shrine,
377 He doth constrain his vassals to adore
378 Perforce their sacred names, and learn their sacred lore.
379 And to the FAIRY KNIGHT now drawing near,
380 With voice terrifick and imperious mien,
381 (All was he wont less dreadful to appear,
382 When known and practised than at distance seen)[Page 29]
383 And kingly stretching forth his sceptre sheen,
384 Him he commandeth, upon threat'ned pain
385 Of his displeasure high and vengeance keen,
386 From his rebellious purpose to refrain,
387 And all due honours pay to Learning's rev'rend train.
388 So saying and forestalling all reply,
389 His peremptory hand without delay,
390 As one who little car'd to justify
391 His princely will, long us'd to boundless sway,
392 Upon the Fairy Youth with great dismay
393 In every quaking limb convuls'd, he lay'd:
394 And proudly stalking o'er the verdanty
y Lay, mead. lay,
395 Him to those scientifick streams convey'd,
396 With many his young compeers therein to bez
z Embay'd, bathed, dipt. embay'd.
XLV.[Page 30] 397 The KNIGHT his tender son's distressfula
a Stour, trouble, misfortune, &c. stour
398 Perceiving, swift to his assistance flew:
399 Ne vainly stay'd to deprecate that pow'r,
400 Which from submission aye more haughty grew.
401 For that proud GIANT'S force he wisely knew,
402 Not to be meanly dreaded, nor defy'd
403 With rash presumption; and with courage true,
404 Rather than step from Virtue's paths aside,
405 Oft had he singly scorn'd his all-dismaying pride.
406 And now, disdaining parle, his courser hot
407 He fiercely prick'd, and couch'd his vengeful spear;
408 Where-with the GIANT he so rudely smot,
409 That him perforce constrain'd tob
b Wend arrear, move backwards. wend arrear.
410 Who, much abash'd at such rebuke severe,
411 Yet his accustom'd pride recov'ring soon,
412 Forth-with his massy sceptre 'gan up-rear;
413 For other warlike weapon he had none,
414 Ne other him behoved to quell his boldestc
c Fone, foes. fone.
415 With that enormous mace the FAIRY KNIGHT
416 So sore hed
d Bet, beat; bray'd, resounded, bet, that all his armourd
d Bet, beat; bray'd, resounded, bray'd,
417 To pieces well-nigh riven with the might
418 Of so tempestuous strokes; but He was stay'd,
419 And ever with deliberate valour weigh'd
420 The sudden changes of the doubtful fray;
421 From cautious prudence oft deriving aid,
422 When force unequal did him hard assay:
423 So lightly from his steed he leapt upon the lay.
424 Then swiftly drawing forth hise
e Trenchant, cutting. trenchant blade,
425 High o'er his head he held his fenceful shield;
426 And warily fore-casting to evade
427 The GIANT'S furious arm, about him wheel'd,[Page 31]
428 With restless steps aye traversing the field.
429 And ever as his foe's intemperate pride,
430 Through rage defenceless, mote advantage yield,
431 With his sharp sword so oft he did himf
f Gride, cut, hack. gride,
432 That his gold-sandal'd feet in crimson floods were dyed.
433 His baser parts he maim'd with many a wound;
434 But far above his utmost reach wereg
g Pight, placed. pight
435 The forts of life: ne never to confound
436 With utter ruin, and abolish quite
437 A power so puissant by his single might
438 Did he presume to hope: Himself alone
439 From lawless force to free, in bloody fight
440 He stood; content to bow to CUSTOM'S throne,
441 So REASON mote not blush his sov'ran rule to own.
442 So well he warded, and so fiercely press'd
443 His foe, that weary wex'd he of the fray;
h Nould be algates, would not by any means. nould he algates lower his haughty crest;
445 But masking in contempt his sore dismay,
446 Disdainfully releas'd the trembling prey,
447 As one unworthy of his princely care;
448 Then proudly casting on the warlikei
i Fay, fairy. fay
449 A smile of scorn and pity, through the air
450 'Gan blow his shrilling horn; the blast was heard afar.
451 Eftsoons astonish'd at th' alarming sound,
452 The signal of distress and hostile wrong,
453 Confusedly trooping from all quarters round,
454 Came pouring o'er the plain a numerous throng
455 Of every sex and order, old and young;
456 The vassals of great CUSTOM'S wide domain,
457 Who to his lore inur'd by usage long,
458 His every summons heard with pleasure fain,
459 And felt his every wound with sympathetick pain.
460 They, when their bleeding king they did behold,
461 And saw an armed KNIGHT him standing near,
462 Attended by that Palmer sage and bold;
463 Whose vent'rous search of devious Truth while-ere
464 Spread through the realms of Learning horrors drear,
465 Y-seized were at first with terrors great;
466 And in their boding hearts began to fear,
467 Dissention factious, controversial hate,
468 And innovations strange in CUSTOM'S peaceful state.
469 But when they saw the KNIGHT his fauchion sheathe
470 And climbing to his steed march thence away,
471 With all his hostile train, they 'gan to breathe
472 With freer spirit, and with aspect gay[Page 33]
473 Soon chaced the gathering clouds of black affray,
474 Alse their great monarch, cheared with the view
475 Of myriads, who confess his sov'ran sway,
476 His ruffled pride began to plume anew;
477 And on his bugle clear a strain of triumph blew.
478 There-at the multitude, that stood around,
479 Sent up at once a universal roar
480 Of boisterous joy: the sudden-bursting sound,
481 Like the explosion of a warlike store
482 Of nitrous grain, th' afflictedk
k Welkin, sky. welkin tore.
483 Then turning towards the KNIGHT, with scoffings lewd,
484 Heart-piercing insults, and revilings sore,
485 Loud bursts of laughter vain, and hisses rude,
486 As through the throng he pass'd, his parting steps pursued.
487 Alse from that forked hill the boasted seat
488 Of studious Peace and mild Philosophy,
489 Indignant murmurs mote be heard to threat,
490 Mustering their rage; eke baleful Infamy,
491 Rouz'd from her den of base obscurity
492 By those same Maidens Nine, began to sound
493 Her brazen trump of black'ning obloquy:
494 While Satire, with dark clouds encompast round,
495 Sharp, secret arrows shot, and aim'd his back to wound.
496 But the brave FAIRY KNIGHT no whit dismay'd
497 Held on his peaceful journey o'er the plain;
498 With curious eye observing, as he stray'd
499 Through the wide provinces of CUSTOM'S reign,
500 What mote afresh admonish him remain
501 Fast by his virtuous purpose; all around
502 So many objects mov'd his just disdain;
503 Him seem'd that nothing serious, nothing sound
504 In city, village, bow'r, or castle mote be found.
505 In village, city, castle, bow'r and hall,
506 Each sex, each age, each order and degree,
507 To vice and idle sport abandon'd all,
508 Kept one perpetual general jubilee.
509 Ne suffer'd ought disturb their merry glee;
510 Ne sense of private loss, ne publick woes,
511 Restraint of law, Religion's drad decree,
512 Intestine desolation, foreign foes,
513 Nor heav'n's tempestuous threats, nor earth's convulsive throws.
514 But chiefly they whom Heav'n's disposing hand
515 Had seated high on Fortune's upper stage;
516 And plac'd within their call the sacred band
517 That waits on Nature and Instruction sage,[Page 35]
518 If happy their wifel
l Hests, behests, precepts, commands. hests mote them engage
519 To climb through knowledge to more noble praise;
520 And as they mount, enlighten every age
521 With the bright influence of fair Virtue's rays;
522 Which from the aweful heights of Grandeur brighter blaze.
523 They, O perverse and base ingratitude!
524 Despising the great ends of Providence,
525 For which above their mates they were endued
526 With health, authority, and eminence,
527 To the low services of brutal sense
528 Abused the means of pleasures more refin'd,
529 Of knowledge, virtue, and beneficence;
530 And fettering on her throne th' immortal mind,
531 The guidance of her realm to passions wild resign'd.
532 Hence thoughtless, shameless, reckless, spiritless,
533 Nought worthy of their kind did they assay;
534 But or benumb'd with palsied Idleness
535 In meerly living loiter'd life away.
536 Or by false taste of pleasure led astray,
537 For-ever wand'ring in the sensual bow'rs
538 Of feverish Debauch, and lustful Play,
539 Spent on ignoble toils their active pow'rs,
540 And with untimely blasts diseas'd their vernal hours.
541 Ev'n they to whom kind Nature did accord
542 A frame more delicate, and purer mind,
543 Through the foul brothel and the wine-stain'd board
544 Of beastly Comus loathing they declin'd,
545 Yet their soft hearts to idle joys resign'd;
546 Like painted insects, through the summer-air
547 With random flight aye ranging unconfin'd;
548 And tasting every flower and blossom fair,
549 Withouten any choice, withouten any care.
550 For choice them needed none, who only sought
551 With vain amusements to beguile the day;
552 And wherefore should they take or care or thought,
553 Whom Nature prompts, and Fortune calls to play?
554 "Lords of the earth, be happy as ye may!"
555 So learn'd, so taught the leaders of mankind;
556 Th' unreasoning vulgar willingly obey,
557 And leaving toil and poverty behind,
558 Ran forth by different ways the blissful boon to find.
559 Nor tedious was the search; for every where,
560 As nigh great CUSTOM'S royal tow'rs the KNIGHT
561 Pass'd through th' adjoining hamlets, mote he hear
562 The merry voice of festival Delight[Page 37]
563 Saluting the return of morning bright
564 With matin-revels, by the mid-day hours
565 Scarce ended; and again with dewy night,
566 In cover'd theatres, or leafy bow'rs
567 Offering her evening-vows to Pleasure's joyous pow'rs.
568 And ever on the way mote he espy
569 Men, women, children, a promiscuous throng
570 Of rich, poor, wise and simple, low and high,
571 By land, by water, passing aye along
572 With mummers, anticks, musick, dance and song,
573 To Pleasure's numerous temples, that beside
574 The glistening streams, or tufted groves among,
575 To every idle foot stood open wide,
576 And every gay desire with various joys supplied.
577 For there each heart with diverse charms to move,
578 The sly inchantress summoned all her train:
579 Alluring Venus, queen of fragrant love,
580 The boon companion Bacchus loud and vain,
581 And tricking Hermes, god of fraudful gain,
582 Who, when blind Fortune throws, directs the die,
583 And Phoebus tuning his soft Lydian strain
584 To wanton motions, and the lover's sigh,
585 And thought-beguiling shew, and masking revelry.
586 Unmeet associates there for noble youth,
587 Who to true honour meaneth to aspire;
588 And for the works of virtue, faith, and truth
589 Would keep his manly faculties entire.
590 The which avizing well, the cautious fire
591 From that soft siren land of Pleasaunce vain,
592 With timely haste was minded to retire,
m Or ere, before. Or ere the sweet contagion mote attain
594 His son's unpractic'd heart, yet free from vicious stain.
595 So turning from that beaten road aside,
596 Through many a devious path at length he paced,
597 As that experienc'd Palmer did him guide,
598 'Till to a mountain hoare they come at last;
599 Whose high-rais'd brows with silvan honours graced,
600 Majestically frown'd upon the plain,
601 And over all an aweful horrour cast.
602 Seem'd as those villas gay it did disdain,
603 Which spangled all the vale like Flora's painted train.
604 The hill ascended strait, ere-while they came
605 To a tall grove, whose thick-embow'ring shade,
606 Impervious to the sun's meridian flame
607 Ev'n at mid-noon a dubious twilight made;[Page 39]
608 Like to that sober light, which disarray'd
609 Of all its gorgeous robe, with blunted beams,
610 Through windows dim with holy acts pourtray'd,
611 Along some cloister'd abby faintly gleams,
612 Abstracting the rapt thought from vain earth-musing themes.
613 Beneath this high o'er-arching canopy
614 Of clust'ring oaks, a silvan colonnade,
615 Aye list'ning to the native melody
616 Of birds sweet-echoing through the lonely shade,
617 On to the centre of the grove they stray'd;
618 Which, in a spacious circle opening round,
619 Within it's shelt'ring arms securely laid,
620 Disclos'd to sudden view a vale profound,
621 With Nature's artless smiles and tranquil beauties crown'd.
622 There, on the basis of an ancient pile,
623 Whose cross surmounted spire o'erlook'd the wood,
624 A venerable MATRON they ere-while
625 Discover'd have, beside a murm'ring flood
626 Reclining in right sad and pensive mood.
627 Retir'd within her own abstracted breast
628 She seem'd o'er various woes by turns to brood;
629 The which her changing chear by turns exprest,
630 Now glowing with disdain, with grief nown
n Over-kest, for over-cast. over-kest.
631 Her thus immers'd in anxious thought profound
632 When-as the Knight perceiv'd, he nearer drew;
633 To weet what bitter bale did her astound,
634 And whence th' occasion of her anguish grew.
635 For that right noble MATRON well he knew;
636 And many perils huge, and labours sore
637 Had for her sake endured; her vassal true,
638 Train'd in her love, and practiced evermore
639 Her honour to respect, and reverence her lore.
640 O dearest drad! he cried, fair island queen!
641 Mother of heroes! empress of the main!
642 What means that stormy brow of troublous teen?
o Sith, since.Sith heav'n-born Peace, with all her smiling train
644 Of sciences and arts, adorns thy reign
645 With wealth and knowledge, splendour and renown?
646 Each port how throng'd! how fruitful every plain!
647 How blithe the country! and how gay the town!
648 While Liberty secures and heightens every boon!
649 Awaken'd from her trance of pensive woe
650 By these fair flattering words, she rais'd her head;
651 And bending on the KNIGHT her frowning brow,
652 Mock'st thou my sorrows, Fairy Son? she said.[Page 41]
653 Or is thy judgment by thy heart misled
654 To deem that certain, which thy hopes suggest?
655 To deem them full of life andp
p Lustihead, strong health, vigour. lustihead,
656 Whose cheeks in Hebe's vivid tints are drest,
657 And with Joy's careless mien, and dimpled smiles imprest?
658 Thy unsuspecting heart how nobly good
659 I know, how sanguine in thy country's cause!
660 And mark'd thy virtue, singly how it stood
661 Th' assaults of mighty CUSTOM, which o'er-awes
662 The faint and timorous mind, and oft withdraws
663 From Reason's lore th' ambitious and the vain
664 By the sweet lure of popular applause,
665 Against their better knowledge, to maintain
666 The lawless throne of Vice, or Folly's childish reign.
667 How vast his influence! how wide his sway!
668 Thy self ere-while by proof didst understand:
669 And saw'st, as through his realms thou took'st thy way,
670 How Vice and Folly had o'er-spread the land.
671 And can'st thou then, O Fairy's Son, demand
672 The reason of my woe? or hope to ease
673 The throbbings of my heart with speeches bland,
674 And words more apt my sorrows to increase,
675 The once-dear names of Wealth, and Liberty, and Peace?
676 Peace, Wealth, and Liberty, that noblest boon,
677 Are blessings only to the wise and good.
678 To weak and vicious minds their worth unknown,
679 And thence abused but serve to furnish food
680 For riot and debauch, and fire the blood
681 With high-spiced luxury; whence strife, debate,
682 Ambition, envy, Faction's vip'rous brood,
683 Contempt of order, manners profligate;
684 The symptoms of a foul, diseased and bloated state.
685 Ev'n Wit and Genius, with their learned train
686 Of Arts and Muses, though from heav'n above
687 Descended, when their talents they prophane
688 To varnish folly, kindle wanton love,
689 And aid excentrick sceptic Pride to rove
690 Beyond coelestial Truth's attractive sphere,
691 This moral system's central sun, aye prove
692 To their fond votaries a curse severe,
693 And only make mankind more obstinately err.
694 And stand my sons herein from censure clear?
695 Have They consider'd well, and understood
696 The use and import of those blessings dear,
697 Which the great Lord of Nature hath bestow'd[Page 43]
698 As well to prove, as to reward the good?
699 Whence are these torrents then, these billowy seas
700 Of vice, in which, as in his proper flood,
701 The fell leviathan licentious plays,
702 And upon ship-wreck'd faith, and sinking virtue preys?
703 To you, ye Noble, Opulent and Great!
704 With friendly voice I call, and honest zeal!
705 Upon your vital influences wait
706 The health and sickness of the common-weal;
707 The maladies you cause, yourselves must heal.
708 In vain to the unthinking harden'd crowd
709 Will Truth and Reason make their just appeal;
710 In vain will sacred Wisdom cry aloud;
711 And Justice drench in vain her vengeful sword in blood.
712 With You must reformation first take place:
713 You are the head, the intellectual mind
714 Of this vast body politick; whose base,
715 And vulgar limbs, to drudgery consign'd,
716 All the rich stores of Science have resign'd
717 To You, that by the craftsman's various toil,
718 The sea-worn mariner, and sweating hind,
719 In peace and affluence maintain'd, the while
720 You, for yourselves and them, may dress the mental soil.
721 Bethink you then, my children, of the trust
722 In you repos'd: ne let your heav'n-born mind
723 Consume in pleasure, or unactive rust;
724 But nobly rouse you to the task assign'd,
725 The godlike task to teach and mend mankind:
726 Learn that ye may instruct: to virtue lead
727 Yourselves the way: the herd will crowd behind,
728 And gather precepts from each worthy deed:
729 "Example is a lesson, that all men can read.
730 But if (to All or Most I do not speak)
731 In vain and sensual habits now grown old,
732 The strong Circaean charm you cannot break,
733 Nor re-assume at will your nativeq
q Mould, shape, form. mould,
734 Yet envy not the state, you could not hold;
735 And take compassion on the rising age:
736 In them redeem your errours manifold;
737 And by due discipline and nurture sage,
738 In Virtue's lore betimes your docile sons engage.
739 You chiefly, who like me in secret mourn
740 The prevalence of CUSTOM lewd and vain;
741 And you, who, though by the rude torrent borne
742 Unwillingly along you yield with pain[Page 45]
743 To his behests, and act what you disdain,
744 Yet nourish in your hearts the gen'rous love
745 Of piety and truth, no more restrain
746 The manly zeal; but all your sinews move
747 The present to reclaim, the future race improve!
748 Eftsoons by your joint efforts shall be quell'd
749 Yon haughty GIANT, who so proudly sways
750 A sceptre by repute alone upheld;
751 Who where he cannot dictate strait obeys.
752 Accustom'd to conform his flattering phrase
753 To numbers and high-plac'd authority,
754 Your party he will join, your maxims praise,
755 And drawing after all his menial fry,
756 Soon teach the general voice your act to ratify.
757 Ne for th' atchievement of this great emprize
758 The want of means or counsel may ye dread.
759 From my TWIN-DAUGHTERS' fruitful wombs shall rise
760 A race of letter'd sages, deeply read
761 In Learning's various writ: by whom y-led
762 Through each well cultur'd plot, each beauteous grove,
763 Where antique Wisdom whilom wont to tread,
764 With mingled glee and profit may ye rove,
765 And cull each virtuous plant, each tree of knowledge prove.
766 Yourselves with virtue thus and knowledge fraught
767 Of what, in ancient days of good or great
768 Historians, bards, philosophers have taught;
769 Join'd with whatever else of modern date
770 Maturer judgment, search more accurate
771 Discover'd have of Nature, Man, and God,
772 May by new laws reform the time-worn state
773 Of cell-bred discipline, and smoothe the road
774 That leads through Learning's vale to Wisdom's bright abode.
775 By you invited to her secret bow'rs
776 Then shall PAEDÎA reascend her throne
777 With vivid laurels girt and fragrant flow'rs;
778 While from their forked mount descending down
779 Yon supercilious pedant train shall own
780 Her empire paramount, ere long by Her
781 Y-taught a lesson in their schools unknown,
782 "To Learning's richest treasures to prefer
783 "The knowledge of the world, and man's great business there.
784 On this prime science, as the final end
785 Of all her discipline, and nurturing care,
786 Her eye PAEDÎA fixing aye shall bend
787 Her every thought and effort to prepare[Page 47]
788 Her tender pupils for the various war,
789 Which Vice and Folly shall upon them wage,
790 As on the perilous march of life they fare
791 With prudent lore fore-arming every age
792 Gain'st Pleasure's treacherous joys, and Pain's embattled rage.
793 Then shall my youthful sons, to Wisdom led
794 By fair example and ingenuous praise,
795 With willing feet the paths of Duty tread;
796 Through the world's intricate or rugged ways
797 Conducted by Religion's sacred rays;
798 Whose soul-invigorating influence
799 Shall purge their minds from all impure allays
800 Of sordid selfishness and brutal sense,
801 And swell th' ennobled heart with blest benevolence.
802 Then also shall this emblematick pile,
803 By magick whilom fram'd to sympathize
804 With all the fortunes of this changeful isle,
805 Still, as my sons in fame and virtue rise,
806 Grow with their growth, and to th' applauding skies
807 It's radiant cross up-lift; the while, to grace
808 The multiplying niches, fresh supplies
809 Of worthies shall succeed, with equal pace
810 Aye following their sires in virtue's glorious race.
811 Fir'd with th' idea of her future fame
812 She rose majestick from her lowly sted;
813 While from her vivid eyes a sparkling flame
814 Out-beaming, with unwonted light o'erspread
815 That monumental pile; and as her head
816 To every front she turn'd, discover'd round
817 The venerable forms of heroes dead;
818 Who for their various merit erst renown'd,
819 In this bright fane of glory shrines of honour found.
820 On these that royal dame her ravish'd eyes
821 Would often feast; and ever as she spy'd
822 Forth from the ground the length'ning structure rise
823 With new-plac'd statues deck'd on every side,
824 Her parent-breast would swell with gen'rous pride.
825 And now with her in that sequester'd plain,
826 The Knight awhile constraining to abide,
827 She to the Fairy Youth with pleasure fain
828 Those sculptur'd chiefs did shew, and their great lives explainr
r Great lives explain.] I cannot forbear taking occasion from these words to make my acknowledgements to the writers of Biographia Britannica, for the pleasure and profit I have lately received from perusing the two first volumes of that useful and entertaining work, of which the monumental structure above-mentioned, decorated with the statues of great and good men, is no improper emblem. This work, which contains the lives of the most eminent persons, who have flourished in Great Britain and Ireland, from the earliest ages, down to the present time, appears to me, as far as it has hitherto gone, to be executed with great spirit, accuracy, and judgment; and deserves, in my opinion, to be encouraged by all, who have at heart the honour of their country, and that of their particular families and friends; and who can any ways assist the ingenious and laborious authors, to render as perfect as possible, a design so apparently calculated to serve the publick, by setting in the truest and fullest light the characters of persons already generally, though perhaps too indistinctly known; and retrieving from obscurity and oblivion, examples of private and retired merit, which, though less glaring and ostentatious than the former, are not, however, of a less extensive or less beneficial influence. To those, who may happen not to have seen this repository of British glory, I cannot give a better idea of it, than in the following lines of Virgil:.
Hic manus ob patriam pugnando vulnera passi;
Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat;
Quique pii vates & Phoebo digna locuti;
Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes;
Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo.
Virg. Aen. L. 6.
The End of the FIRST CANTO.