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Awhile they mused; surveying every face, Thou hadst supposed them of superior race; Their periwigs of wool and fears combined, Stamp'd on each countenance such marks of mind,
That sage they seem'd, as lawyers o'er a doubt,
Which, puzzling long, at last they puzzled out;
Or academic tutors, teaching youths,
Sure ne'er to want them, mathematic truths;
When thus a mutton statelier than the rest,
A ram, the ewes and wethers sad address'd.
Friends! we have lived too long. I never
Sounds such as these, so worthy to be fear'd.
Could I believe, that winds for ages pent
In earth's dark womb have found at last a vent,
And from their prison-house below arise,
With all these hideous howlings to the skies,
I could be much composed, nor should appear,
For such a cause to feel the slightest fear. [roll'd
Yourselves have seen, what time the thunders
All night, me resting quiet in the fold.
Or heard we that tremendous bray alone,
I could expound the melancholy tone;
Should deem it by our old companion made,
The ass; for he, we know, has lately stray'd,
And, being lost, perhaps, and wandering wide,
Might be supposed to clamor for a guide.
But ah! those dreadful yells, what soul can hear,
That owns a carcass, and not quake for fear?
Demons produce them doubtless, brazen-claw'd
And fang'd with brass the demons are abroad;
I hold it therefore wisest and most fit
That, life to save, we leap into the pit.
Him answer'd then his loving mate and true, But more discreet than he, a Cambrian ewe.
How! leap into the pit our life to save ? To save our life leap all into the grave ? For can we find it less? Contemplate first The depth how awful! falling there, we burst: Or should the brambles, interposed, our fall In part abate, that happiness were small; For with a race like theirs, no chance I see Of peace or ease to creatures clad as we. Meantime noise kills not. Be it Dapple's bray, Or be it not, or be it whose it may, [tongues And rush those other sounds, that seem by Of demons utter'd, from whatever lungs, Sounds are but sounds, and, till the cause appear, We have at least commodious standing here. Come fiend, come fury, giant, monster, blast From earth or hell, we can but plunge at last.
While thus she spake, I fainter heard the For Reynard, close attended at his heels [peals, By panting dog, tired man, and spatter'd horse, Through mere good fortune, took a different
The flock grew calm again, and I, the road
Following, that led me to my own abode,
Much wonder'd that the silly sheep had found
Such cause of terror in an empty sound,
So sweet to huntsman, gentleman, and hound.
Beware of desperate steps. The darkest day, Live till to-morrow, will have pass'd away.
When the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought with an indignant mein,
Counsel of her country's gods,
Sage beneath the spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief; Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief. Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs, "Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.
Rome shall perish-write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorr'd,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.
Rome, for empire far renown'd,
Tramples on a thousand states; Soon her pride shall kiss the ground Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!
Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name; Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize, Harmony the path to fame.
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway; Where his eagles never flew, None invincible as they.
Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.
She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow:
Rush'd to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurl'd them at the foe.
Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heaven awards the vengeance due;
Empire is on us bestowed,
Shame and ruin wait for you.
THERE was a time when Etna's silent fire
Slept unperceiv'd, the mountain yet entire;
When, conscious of no danger from below,
She tower'd a cloud-capt pyramid of snow.
No thunders shook with deep intestine sound
The blooming groves that girdled her around.
Her unctuous olives, and her purple vines
(Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines)
The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assured,
In peace upon her sloping sides matured.
When on a day, like that of the last doom,
A conflagration laboring in her womb,
She teem'd and heaved with an infernal birth,
That shook the circling seas and solid earth.
Dark and voluminous the vapors rise,
And hang their horrors in the neighboring skies,
While through the Stygian veil, that blots the day,
In dazzling streaks the vivid lightnings play.
But oh! what muse, and in what powers of song,
Can trace the torrent as it burns along?
Havoc and devastation in the van,
It marches o'er the prostrate works of man;
Vines, olives, herbage, forests disappear,
And all the charms of a Sicilian year.
Revolving seasons, fruitless as they pass,
See it an uninform'd and idle mass;
Without a soil to invite the tiller's care,
Or blade that might redeem it from despair.
Yet time at length (what will not time achieve?)
Clothes it with earth, and bids the produce live.
Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade,
And ruminating flocks enjoy the shade.
O bliss precarious, and unsafe retreats,
O charming Paradise of short-lived sweets!
The self-same gale that wafts the fragrance
Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound:
Again the mountain feels the imprison'd foe,
Again pours ruin on the vale below.
Ten thousand swains the wasted scene deplore,
That only future ages can restore.
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honor draws, Who write in blood the merits of your cause, Who strike the blow, then plead your own defence,
Glory your aim, but justice your pretence;
Behold in Ætna's emblematic fires
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires! Fast by the stream that bounds your just domain,
And tells you where you have a right to reign,
A nation dwells, not envious of your throne,
Studious of peace, their neighbor's and their own.
Ill-fated race! how deeply must they rue
Their only crime, vicinity to you!
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad, Through the ripe harvest lies their destined road;