Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

Stranger (he said), amid this pealing rain, Benighted, lonesome, whither wouldst thou

stray? Does wealth or power thy weary step constrain ?

Reveal thy wish, and let me point the way. • For know, I trod the trophied paths of power,

Felt every joy that fair Ambition brings, And left the lonely roof of yonder bower

To stand beneath the canopies of kings. " I bade low hinds the towering ardour share,

Nor meanly rose to bless myself alone; I snatch'd the shepherd from his fleecy care, And bade his wholesome dictate guard the

throne. * Low at my feet the suppliant peer I saw ;

I saw proud empires my decision wait; My will was duty, and my word was law, My smile was transport, and my frown was

fate.' • Ah me! (said I) nor power I seek, nor gain ;

Nor urged by hope of fame these toils endure; A simple youth, that feels a lover's pain,

And from his friend's condolence hopes a cure. He, the dear youth! to whose abodes I roam,

Nor can mine honours nor my fields extend; Yet for his sake I leave my distant home,

Which oaks embosom and which hills defend. • Beneath that home I scorn the wintry wind;

The Spring, to shade me, robes her fairest tree; And if a friend my grass-grown threshold find,

O how my lonely cot resounds with glee!

'Yet, though averse to gold in heaps amass'd,

I wish to bless, I languish to bestow;
And though no friend to Fame's obstreperous

Still to her dulcet murmurs not a foe.

"Too proud with servile tone to deign address;

Too mean to think that honours are my due; Yet should some patron yield my stores to bless, I sure should deem my boundless thanks were

few. ' But tell me, thou! that like a meteor's fire

Shotst blazing forth, disdaining dull degrees ; Should I to wealth, to fame, to power aspire,

Must I not pass more rugged paths than these ? • Must I not groan beneath a guilty load,

Praise him I scorn, and him I love betray? Does not felonious Envy bar the road?

Or Falsehood's treacherous foot beset the way? Say, should I pass through Favour's crowded

gate, Must not fair Truth inglorious wait behind ? Whilst I approach the glittering scenes of state,

My best companion no admittance find ?
Nursed in the shades by Freedom's lenient care,

Shall I the rigid sway of Fortune own?
Taught by the voice of pious Truth, prepare

To spurn an altar and adore a throne ?
And when proud Fortune's ebbing tide recedes,

And when it leaves me no unshaken friend;
Shall I not weep that e'er I left the meads,

Which oaks embosom and which hills defend?

[ocr errors]


• Oh! if these ills the price of power advance,

Check not my speed where social joys invite !'The troubled vision cast a mournful glance,

And, sighing, vanished in the shades of night.




AGAIN the labouring hind inverts the soil;

Again the merchant ploughs the tumid wave; Another spring renews the soldier's toil,

And finds me vacant in the rural cave.

As the soft lyre display'd my wonted loves,

The pensive pleasure and the tender pain, The sordid Alpheus hurried through my groves,

Yet stopp'd to vent the dictates of disdain. He glanced contemptuous o'er my ruin'd fold;

He blamed the graces of my favourite bower; My breast, unsullied by the lust of gold;

My time, unlavish'd in pursuit of power. Yes, Alpheus! fly the purer paths of Fate;

Abjure these scenes, from venal passions free; Know in this grove I vow'd perpetual hate,

War, endless war, with lucre and with thee. Here, nobly zealous, in my youthful hours

I dress'd an altar to Thalia's name; Here, as I crown’d the verdant shrine with flowers,

Soft on my labours stole the smiling dame.


Damon (she cried), if, pleased with honest praise,

Thou court success by virtue or by song ; Fly the false dictates of the venal race,

Fly the gross accents of the venal tongue. Swear that no lucre shall thy zeal betray: Swerve not thy foot with Fortune's votaries more ;

[day'Brand thou their lives, and brand their lifeless

The winning phantom urged me, and I swore, Forth from the rustic altar swift I stray'd,

• Aid my firm purpose, ye celestial Powers! Aid me to quell the sordid breast,' I said; And threw my javelin towards their hostile

towers *. Think not regretful I survey the deed,

Or added years no more the zeal allow; Still, still observant, to the grove I speed,

The shrine embellish, and repeat the vow. Sworn from his cradle Rome's relentless foe,

Such generous hate the Punic champion + bore; Thy lake, O Thrasimene! beheld it glow,

And Canna's walls and Trebia's crimson shore. But let grave annals paint the warrior's fame;

Fair shine his arms in history enroll’d; Whilst humbler lyres his civil worth proclaim,

His nobler hate of avarice and gold. Now Punic pride its final eve survey'd,

Its hosts exhausted, and its fleets on fire; Patient the victor's lurid frown obey'd,

And saw the unwilling elephants retire.

* The Roman ceremony in declaring war.

+ Hannibal.

But when their gold depress’d the yielding scale,

Their gold in pyramidic plenty piled, He saw the' unutterable grief prevail;

He saw their tears, and in his fury smiled. * Think not (he cried) ye view the smiles of ease,

Or this firm breast disclaims a patriot's pain; I smile, but from a soul estranged to peace,

Frantic with grief, delirious with disdain. • But were it cordial, this detested smile,

Seems it less timely than the grief ye show? O sons of Carthage! grant me to revile

The sordid source of your indecent woe. • Why weep'ye now? ye saw with tearless eye

When your fleet perish'd on the Punic wave; Where lurk'd the coward tear, the lazy sigh,

When Tyre's imperial state commenced a slave ? " "Tis pass'd—0 Carthage! vanquish’d, honour'd

shade! Go, the mean sorrows of thy sons deplore; Had Freedom shared the vow to Fortune paid,

She ne'er like Fortune had forsook thy shore.' He ceased-Abash'd the conscious audience hear,

Their pallid cheeks a crimson blush unfold, Yet o'er that virtuous blush distreams a tear,

And, falling, moistens their abandon'd gold*.


* By the terms forced apon the Carthaginians by Scipio, they were to deliver up all their elephants, and to pay near two millions sterling.

« ZurückWeiter »