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Less fragrant scents the unfolding rose exhales, Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these the good and just, ab awful train, Thus on their knees address'd the sacred fane : “ Since living virtue is with envy curs'd, And the best men are treated like the worst, Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth, And give each deed the exact intrinsic worth." “ Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd, (Said Fame) but high above desert renown'd: Let fuller notes the applauding world amaze, And the loud clarion labour in your praise."
This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd Preferr'd the same request, and lowly bow'd; The coustant tenor of whose well-spent days No less deserv'd a just return of praise. But straight the direful trump of Slander sounds; Through the big dome the doubling thunder bounds; Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies, The dire report through every region flies, In every ear incessant rumours rung, And gathering scandals grew on every tongue. From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke Sulphureous flaines, and clouds of rolling smoke: The poisonous vapour blots the purple skies, And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defiance in their looks they bore : “ For thee (they cried) amidst alarms and strife, We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life ; For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood, And swam to empire through the purple flood : Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own; What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone." “ Ambitious fools ! (the queen replied, and frown'd) Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd; There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone, Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown !" A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight, And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien: “ Great idol of mankind! we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame! But safe in deserts from the applause of men, Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen; 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite. O let us still the secret joy partake, To follow virtue ev'n for virtue's sake."
“ And live there men who slight immortal fame? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But, mortals ! know, 'tis still our greatest pride To blaze those virtues which the good would hide. Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath, These must not sleep in darkvess and in death." She said: in air the trembling music floats, And on the winds triumphant swell the notes; So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear, Ev'n listening angels lean'd from Heav'n to hear : To farthest shores the' ambrosial spirit flies, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows express'd, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd: “ Hither, (they cried), direct your eyes, and see The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry; Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays, Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days; Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care To pay due visits, and address the fair; In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid; Of unknowo duchesses lewd tales we tell, Yet, would the world believe us, all were well j The joy let others have, and we the name, And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.”
The queen assents : the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
Pleas'd with the strange success, vast numbers prest Around the shrine, and made the same request :
“What, you (she cried), unlearn'd in arts to please,
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done,
This having heard and seen, some pow'r unknown Straight chang'd the scene, and snatch'd me from
the throne, Before my view appear'd a structure fair, Its site uncertain, if in earth or air; With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round; With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound : Not less in number were the spacious doors Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores; Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day, Pervious to winds, and open every way. As flames by nature to the skies ascend, As weighty bodies to the centre tend, As to the sea returning rivers roll, And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole; Hither as to their proper place, arise All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear;
spread o'er all the fluid element.
Above, below, without, within, around, Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away, Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day : Astrologers, that future fates foreshew, Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few; And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands, With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands; Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place, And wild impatience star'd in every face. The flying rumours gather'd as they rolld, Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told; And all who told it added something new, And all who heard it made enlargements too; In every car it spread, on every tongue it grew.
Thus fiying east and west, and north and south,
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear, One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear : " What could thus high thy rash ambition raise? Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise ?"
“ 'Tis true, said I, not void of hopes I came, For who so fond as youthful bards of fame? But few, alas ! the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in others' breath, The estate which wits inherit after death ! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine !) The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Be envied, wretched; and be flatter'd, poor; All luckless wits their euemies profest, And all successful, jealous friends at best.