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And can celestial tempers rage?
Quoth Virgil, in a later age?
As thus they wrangled, Time came by;
(There's none that paint him such as I,
For what the fabling ancients sung
Makes Saturn old, when Time was young).
As yet his winters had not shed
Their silver honours on his head;
He just had got his pinions free,
From his old sire, Eternity.
A serpent girdled round he wore,
The tail within the mouth, before;
By which our almanacs are clear
That learned Egypt meant the year.
A staff he carry'd, where on high
A glass was fix'd to measure by,
As amber boxes made a show
For heads of canes an age ago.
His vest, for day and night, was py'd;
A bending sickle arm'd his side;
And Spring's new months his train adorn!
The other seasons were unborn.
Known by the gods, as near he draws,
They make him umpire of the cause.
O'er a low trunk his arm he laid,
Where since his hours a dial made;
Then leaning heard the nice debate,
And thus pronounc'd the words of Fate :
• Since body from the parent Earth,
And soul from Jove receiv'd a birth,
Return they where they first began;
But since their union makes the man,
Till Jove and Earth shall part these two, To Care who join'd them, man is due.”
He said, and sprung with swift career To trace a circle for the year ; Where ever since the seasons wheel, And tread on one another's heel.
“ 'Tis well,” said Jove, and for consent Thundering he shook the firmament. “ Our umpire Time shall have his way, With Care I let the creature stay: Let business vex him, avarice blind, Let doubt and knowledge rack his mind, Let errour act, opinion speak, And want afflict, and sickness break, And anger burn, dejection chill, And joy distract, and sorrow kill, Till, arm'd by Care, and taught to mow, Time draws the long destructive blow; And wasted man, whose quick decay Comes hurrying on before his day, Shall only find by this decree, The soul flies sooner back to me.*'.
Come hither, boy, we'll hunt to-day,
The book-worm, ravening beast of prey,
Produc'd by parent Earth, at odds,
As Fame reports it, with the gods.
Him frantic hunger wildly drives
Against a thousand authors' lives :
Through all the fields of wit he flies;
Dreadful his head with clustering eyes,
With horns without, and tusks within,
And scales to serve him for a skin,
Observe him nearly, lest he climb
To wound the bards of ancient time,
Or down the vale of fancy go
To tear some modern wretch below.
On every corner fix thine eye,
Or ten to one he slips thee by.
See where his teeth a passage eat :
We'll rouse him from the deep retreat.
But who the shelter's forc'd to give ?
'Tis sacred Virgil, as I live!
From leaf to leaf, from song to song,
He draws the tadpole form along,
He mounts the gilded edge before,
He's up, he scuds the cover o'er,
He turns, he doubles, there he past,
And here we have him, caught at last.
Insatiate brute, whose teeth abuse
The sweetest servants of the Muse
(Nay never offer to deny,
I took thee in the fact to fly).
His roses nipt in every page,
My poor Anacreon mourns thy rage;
By thee my Ovid wounded lies;
Thy rabid teeth have half destroy'd
The work of love in Biddy Floyd,
They rent Belinda's locks away,
And spoil'd the Blouzelind of Gay.
For all, for every single deed,
Relentless Justice bids thee bleed.
Then fall a victim to the Nine,
Myself the priest, my desk the shrine.
Bring Homer, Virgil, Tasso near,
To pile a sacred altar here ;
Hold, boy, thy hand out-runs thy wit,
You reach'd the plays that Dennis writ;
You reach'd me Philips' rustic strain ;
Pray take your mortal bards again.
Come, bind the victim, there he lies,
And here between his numerous eyes
This venerable dust I lay
From manuscripts just swept away.
The goblet in my hand I take,
(For the libation's yet to make,)
A health to poets ! all their days
May they have bread, as well as praise;
Sense may they seek, and less engage
In papers fill'd with party-rage.
But if their riches spoil their vein,
Ye Muses, make them poor again.
Now bring the weapon, yonder blade,
With which my tuneful pens are made.
I strike the scales that arm thee round,
And twice and thrice I print the wound;
The sacred altar floats with red,
And now he dies, and now he's dead.
How like the son of Jove I stand, This Hydra stretch'd beneath my hand !
Lay bare the monster's entrails here,
To see what dangers threat the year :
Ye gods ! what sonnets on a wench !
What lean translations out of French !
'Tis plain, this lobe is so unsound,
Sprints, before the months go round.
But hold, before I close the scene,
The sacred altar should be clean.
Oh had I Shadwell's second bays,
Or, Tate! thy pert and humble lays !
(Ye pair, forgive ine, when I vow
I never miss'd your works till now,)
I'd tear the leaves to wipe the shrine,
(That only way you please the Nine,)
But since I chance to want these two,
I'll make the songs of Durfey do.
Rent from the corps, on yonder pin,
I hang the scales that brac'd it in;
I hang my studious morning-gown,
'And write my own inscription down.
“ This trophy from the Pithon won,
This robe, in which the deed was done,
These, Parnell, glorying in the feat,
Hung on these shelves, the Muses' seat.
Here Ignorance and Hunger found
Large realms of Wit to ravage round:
Here Ignorance and Hunger fell ?
Two foes in one I sent to Hell.
Ye poets, who my labours
Come share the triumph all with me!
Ye critics ! born to vex the Muse,
Go mourn the grand ally you lose.“