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All-beauteous Nature fears to be outdone. 1045
And there, O Pitt! thy country's early boast,
There let me sit beneath the shelter'd slopes,
Or in that Temple where, in future times,
Thou well shalt merit a distinguish'd name;
And, with thy converse blest, catch the last smiles 1050
Of Autumn beaming o'er the yellow woods.
While there with thee th' enchanted round I walk,
The regulated wild; gay Fancy then
Will tread in thought the groves of Attic Land;
Will from thy standard taste refine her own, 1055
Correct her pencil to the purest truth
Of Nature, or, the unimpassion'd shades
Forsaking, raise it to the human mind.
Or if hereafter she, with juster hand,
Shall draw the tragic scene, instruct her thou, 1060
To mark the varied movements of the heart,
decent character requires,
And every passion speaks: 0 through her strain
Breathe thy pathetic eloquence! that moulds
Th' attentive senate, charms, persuades, exalts; 1065
Of honest zeal th' indignant lightning throws,
And shakes corruption on her venal throne.
While thus we talk, and through Elysian Vales Delighted rove, perhaps a sigh escapes: What pity, COBHAM, thou thy verdant files 1070 Of ordered trees should'st here inglorious range, Instead of squadrons flaming o'er the field, And long embattled hosts; when the proud foe, The faithless vain disturber of mankind, Insulting Gaul, has rous'd the world to war; 1075 When keen, once more, within their bounds to press Those polish'd robbers, those ambitious slaves, The British Youth would hail thy wise command, Thy temper'd ardour and thy vet'ran skill.
The western sun withdraws the shortened day; 1080 And humid evening, gliding o'er the sky, In her chill progress, to the ground condens'd The vapours throws. Where creeping waters ooze, Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind, Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along 1085 The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon Full-orb’d, and breaking through the scatter'd clouds, Shows her broad visage in the crimson'd east; Turn'd to the sun direct, her spotted disk, Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend,
And caverns deep, as optic tube descries,
A smaller earth, gives us his blaze again,
Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day.
Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop,
Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime. 1095
Wide the pale deluge floats; and streaming mild
O'er the sky'd mountain to the shadowy vale,
While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam,
The whole air whitens with a boundless tide
Of silver radiance, trembling round the world. 1100
But when half-blotted from the sky her light,
Fainting, permits the starry fires to burn
With keener lustre through the depth of heaven;
Or near extinct her deadened orb appears,
And scarce appears, of sickly beamless white; 1105
Oft in this season, silent from the north
A blaze of meteors shoots: ensweeping first
The lower skies, they all at once converge
High to the crown of heaven, and all at once
Relapsing quick, as quickly reascend,
1110 And mix, and thwart, extinguish, and renew, All ether coursing in a maze of light.
From look to look, contagious through the crowd,
The panic runs, and into wondrous shapes
Th' appearance throws: armies in meet array, 1115
Throng'd with aërial spears, and steeds of fire;
Till the long lines of full-extended war
In bleeding fight commixt, the sanguine flood
Rolls a broad slaughter o'er the plains of heaven.
As thus they scan the visionary scene,
On all sides swells the superstitious din,
Incontinent; and busy frenzy talks
Of blood and battle; cities overturn'd;
And late at night in swallowing earthquake sunk,
Or hideous wrapt in fierce ascending flame; 1125
Of sallow famine, inundation, storm;'
Of pestilence, and every great distress;
Empires subvers’d, when ruling fate has struck
Th' unalterable hour: ev'n Nature's self
Is deem'd to totter on the brink of time.
1130 Not so the Man of philosophic eye, And inspect sage; the waving brightness he Curious surveys, inquisitive to know The causes and materials, yet unfix’d, Of this appearance beautiful and new.
1135 Now black, and deep, the night begins to fall,
A shade immense! Sunk in the quenching gloom,
Magnificent and vast, are heaven and earth.
Order confounded lies; all beauty void;
Distinction lost; and gay variety
One universal blot: such the fair power
Of light, to kindle and create the whole.
Drear is the state of the benighted wretch,
Who then, bewilder'd, wanders through the dark,
Full of pale fancies, and chimeras huge; 1145
Nor visited by one directive ray,
From cottage streaming, or from airy hall.
Perhaps impatient as he stumbles on,
Struck from the rout of slimy rushes, blue,
The wild-fire scatters round; or gathered trails 1150
A length of flame deceitful o'er the moss:
Whither decoy'd by the fantastic blaze,
Now lost and now renew'd, he sinks absorpt,
Rider and horse, amid the miry gulph;
While still, from day to day, his pining wife, 1155
And plaintive children, his return await,
In wild conjecture lost. At other times,
Sent by the better Genius of the night,
Innoxious, gleaming on the horse's mane,