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Came simp’ring on : to ascertain whose sex
Twelve sage impanelld matrons would perplex.
Nor male nor female, neither, and yet both;
Of neuter gender, though of Irish growth;
A six-foot suckling, mincing in its gait;
Affected, peevish, prim, and delicate ;
Fearful it seem'd, though of athletic make,
Lest brutal breezes should too roughly shake
Its tender form, and savage motion spread
O'er its pale cheeks the horrid manly red.
Much did it talk, in its own pretty phrase,
Of genius and of taste, of play’rs and plays;
Much too of writings which itself had wrote,
Of special merit, though of little note;
For Fate, in a strange humour, had decreed
That what it wrote none but itself should read;
Much too it chatter'd of dramatic laws,
Misjudging critics, and misplaced applause,
Then, with a self-complacent, jutting air,
It smiled, it smirk’d, it wriggled to the chair ;
And, with an awkward briskness not its own,
Looking around, and perking on the throne,
Triumphant seem'd, when that strange savage dame,
Known but to few, or only known by name,
Plain Common Sense appear’d, by Nature there
Appointed, with plain Truth, to guard the chair.
The pageant saw, and, blasted with her frown,
To its first state of nothing melted down.
Nor shall the Muse (for even there the pride of this vain nothing shall be mortified) Nor shall the Muse (should Fate ordain her rhymes, Fond, pleasing thought! to live in after-times) With such a trifler's name her pages blot ; Known be the character, the thing forgot ; Let it, to disappoint each future aim, Live without sex, and die without a name !
WILLIAM FALCONER. 1730–1769.
FROM "THE SHIPWRECK." The sun's bright orb, declining all serene, Now glanced obliquely o'er the woodland scene. Creation smiles around; on every spray The warbling birds exalt their evening lay.: Blithe skipping o'er yon hill, the fleecy train Join the deep chorus of the lowing plain : The golden lime and orange there were seen, On fragrant branches of perpetual green. The crystal streams, that velvet meadows lave, To the green ocean roll with chiding wave. The glassy ocean, hush'd, forgets to roar, But, trembling, murmurs on the sandy shore : And, lo! his surface, lovely to behold, Glows in the west, a sea of living gold ! While all above, a thousand liveries gay, The skies with pomp ineffable array: Arabian sweets perfume the happy plains : Above, beneath, around enchantment reigns ! While yet the shades, on Time's eternal scale, With long vibration deepen o'er the vale ; While yet the songsters of the vocal grove With dying numbers tune the soul of love, With joyful eyes th' attentive master sees Th’ auspicious omens of an eastern breeze. Now radiant Vesper leads the starry train, And night slow draws her veil o'er land and main: Round the charged bowl the sailors form a ring ; By turns recount the wond'rous tale, or sing ; As love or battle, hardships of the main, Or genial wine, awake their homely strain : Then some the watch of night alternate keep, The rest lie buried in oblivious sleep.
Deep midnight now involves the livid skies, While infant breezes from the shore arise.
The waning moon, behind a wat’ry shroud,
Pale-glimmerd o'er the long-protracted cloud.
A mighty ring around her silver throne,
With parting meteors cross'd, portentous shone.
This in the troubled sky full oft prevails ;
Oft deem'd a signal of tempestuous gales.
While young Arion sleeps, before his sight
Tumultuous swim the visions of the night.
Now blooming Anna, with her happy swain,
Approach'd the sacred hymeneal fane :
Anon, tremendous lightnings flash between;
And funeral pomp, and weeping loves are seen!
Now with Palemon up a rocky steep,
Whose summit trembles o'er the roaring deep,
With painful step he climb'd; while far above,
Sweet Anna charm'd them with the voice of love.
Then sudden from the slippery height they fell,
While dreadful yawn'd beneath the jaws of hell.
Amid this fearful trance a thundering sound
He hears—and thrice the hollow decks rebound.
Upstarting from his couch, on deck he sprung ;
Thrice with shrill note the boatswain's whistle rung.
“All hands unmoor!” proclaims a boisterous cry:
“ All hands unmoor!” the cavern rocks reply.
Roused from repose, aloft the sailors swarm,
And with their levers soon the windlass arm.
The order given, up-springing with a bound,
They lodge the bars, and wheel their engine round:
At every turn the clanging pauls resound.
Uptorn reluctant from its oozy cave,
The ponderous anchor rises o'er the wave.
Along their slippery masts the yards ascend,
And high in air the canvass wings extend :
Redoubling cords the lofty canvass guide,
And through inextricable mazes glide.
The lunar rays with long reflection gleam,
To light the vessel o'er the silver stream:
Along the glassy plain serene she glides,
While azure radiance trembles on her sides.
From east to north the transient breezes play,
And in the Egyptian quarter soon decay.
A calm ensues; they dread th' adjacent shores ;
The boats, with rowers arm'd, are sent before :
With cordage fasten'd to the lofty prow,
Aloof to sea the stately ship they tow.
The nervous crew their sweeping oars extend,
And pealing shouts the shore of Candia rend.
Success attends their skill; the danger's o'er :
The port is doubled, and beheld no more.
Now morn, her lamp pale glimmering on the sight,
Scatter'd before her van reluctant night.
She comes not in refulgent pomp array'd,
But sternly frowning, wrapp'd in sullen shade.
Above incumbent vapours, Ida's height,
Tremendous rock! emerges on the sight.
Northeast the guardian isle of Standia lies,
And westward Freschin's woody capes arise.
With winning postures now the wanton sails Spread all their snares to charm th’inconstant gales. The swelling stu’nsails now their wings extend, Then staysails sidelong to the breeze ascend : While all to court the wandering breeze are placed, With yards now thwarting, now obliquely braced.
The dim horizon lowering vapours shroud, And blot the sun, yet struggling in the cloud : Through the wide atmosphere, condensed with haze, His glaring orb emits a sanguine blaze. The pilots now their rules of art apply, The mystic needle's devious aim to try. The compass placed to catch the rising ray, The quadrant's shadows studious they survey ! Along the arch the gradual index slides, While Phæbus down the vertic circle glides. Now, seen on ocean's utmost verge to swim, He sweeps it vibrant with his nether limb. Their sage experience thus explores the height And polar distance of the source of light : Then through the chiliads triple maze they trace Th' analogy that proves the magnet's place.
The wayward steel, to truth thus reconciled,
No more the attentive pilot's eye beguiled.
And now, lash'd on by destiny severe,
With horror fraught, the dreadful scene drew near !
The ship hangs hovering on the verge of death,
Hell yawns, rocks rise, and breakers roar beneath!
In vain, alas! the sacred shades of yore
Would arm the mind with philosophic lore;
In vain they'd teach us at the latest breath,
To smile serene amid the pangs of death.
Even Zeno's self, and Epictetus old,
This fell abyss had shudder'd to behold.
Had Socrates, for godlike virtue famed,
And wisest of the sons of men proclaim’d,
Beheld this scene of phrensy and distress,
His soul had trembled to its last recess!
Oh yet confirm my heart, ye powers above,
'This last tremendous shock of fate to prove;
The tottering frame of reason yet sustain!
Nor let this total ruin whirl my brain !
In vain the chords and axes were prepared,
For now th' audacious seas insult the yard;
High o'er the ship they throw a horrid shade,
And o'er her burst in terrible cascade.
Uplifted on the surge, to heaven she flies,
Her shatter'd top half buried in the skies,
Then, headlong plunging, thunders on the ground.
Earth groans ! air trembles ! and the deeps resound!
Her giant bulk the dread concussion feels,
And, quivering with the wound, in torment reels.
So reels, convulsed with agonizing throes,
The bleeding bull beneath the murd'rer's blows.
Again she plunges! hark! a second shock
Tears her strong bottom on the marble rock!
Down on the vale of death, with dismal cries,
The fated victims, shuddering, roll their eyes
In wild despair, while yet another stroke,
With deep convulsion, rends the solid oak :