The Sisyphus is he, whom Noise and Strife
Seduce from all the soft Retreats of Life:
To vex the Government, disturb the Laws
Drunk with the Fumes of popular Applause,
He courts the giddy Crowd to make him great,
And sweats, and toils in vain to mount the Sov’reign Seat.
For still to aim at Pow’r, and still to fail,
Ever to strive, and never to prevail,
What is it, but, in Reason’s true Account,
To heave the Stone against the rising Mount:
Which, urg’d, and labour’d, and forc’d up with Pain,
Recoils, and rolls impetuous down, and smokes along the Plain.–
But write him down a Slave, who humbly proud,
With Presents begs Preferment from the Crowd:
That early Suppliant, who salutes the Tribes,
And sets the Mob to scramble for his Bribes:
That some old Dotard, sitting in the Sun,
On Holidays may tell, that such a Feat was done.–
This Man delights, with haughty Pride,
In publick at the Monarch’s Side,
In solemn State to pass along,
Envy’d by all the gaping Throng:
Vain Wretch! Ambition fires his Breast,
Impetuous, dire, tormenting Guest!–
The Spoils of War, brought to Feretrian Jove;
An empty Coat of Armour hung above
The Conqueror’s Chariot, and in Triumph born;
A Streamer, from a boarded Galley torn;
A Chap fall’n Beaver loosely hanging by
The cloven Helm: an Arch of Victory,
On whose high Convex sits a captive Foe,
And sighing casts a mournful Look below:
Of ev’ry Nation, each illustrious Name,
Such Toys as these have cheated into Fame:
Exchanging solid Quiet, to obtain
The windy Satisfaction of the Brain.–
One World suffic’d not Alexander’s Mind,
Coop’d up, he seem’d, in Earth and Seas confin’d:
And, struggling, stretch’d his restless Limbs about
The narrow Globe, to find a Passage out.
Till enter’d the fam’d Brick–built Town, he try’d
The Tomb, and found it’s strait Dimensions wide.–
Pow’r and high Titles Men were fond to gain,
As They could bring Content, or make a Chain
To fix inconstant Fortune:–but in vain!
For often those who climb’d the dang’rous Way,
And reach’d the Pinnacle where Honours lay,
Envy, like Lightning, tumbled headlong down,
And in the Grave they sunk who wore the Crown:
So that ’tis better safely to obey,
Than sit on Thrones, and bear Imperial Sway.–
Some ask for envy’d Pow’r, which publick Hate
Pursues, and hurries headlong to their Fate:
Down go the Titles: and the Statue crown’d
Is by base Hands in the next River drown’d.
The guiltless Horses, and the Chariot–wheel
The same Effects of vulgar Fury feel.
The Smith prepares his Hammer for the Stroke,
While the lung’d Bellows hissing Fire provoke.
Sejanus almost first of Roman Names,
The great Sejanus crackles in the Flames.
Form’d in the Forge, the pliant Brass is laid
On Anvils, and of Head and Limbs are made
Pans, Cans, and Piss–Pots, a whole Kitchen Trade.
Adorn your Doors with Laurels, and a Bull,
Milk white, and large, lead to the Capitol:
Sejanus with a Rope is dragg’d along,
The Sport and Laughter of the giddy Throng!
Good Lord! they cry, what Ethiop Lips he has!
How foul a Snout, and what a hanging Face!
By Heav’n, I never could endure his Sight:
But say, how came his monstrous Crimes to Light?
What is the Charge, and who the Evidence?–
Nothing at all of this; but Caesar sent
A blust’ring Letter to his Parliament.
Nay, Sirs, if Caesar writ, I ask no more,
He’s guilty: and the Question’s out o’ Door.–
Now, with Sejanus would’st Thou change thy Fate,
To be, like him, first Minister of State?
To have thy Levees crowded with Resort
Of a depending, gaping, servile Court:
Dispose all Honours of the Sword and Gown,
Raise with a Nod, and ruin with a Frown:
To hold thy Prince in Pupilage, and sway
That Monarch whom the master’d World obey?–
Yes, I believe Thou would’st be Great as He:
For ev’ry Man’s a Fool to that Degree,
All wish the dire Prerogative to kill:
Ev’n they would have the Pow’r who want the Will.
But would’st Thou have thy Wishes understood,
To take the Bad together with the Good?
Would’st Thou not rather chuse the small Renown,
To be the Mayor of some poor paltry Town,
Bigly to look, and barb’rously to speak,
To pound false Weights, and scanty Measures break,
Than be Sejanus?–
Great Hannibal within the Ballance lay,
And tell how many Pounds his Ashes weigh:
Him Africk was not able to contain;
Whose Length runs level with th’ Atlantic Main,
And weakens fruitful Nilus, to convey
His Sun–beat Waters by so long a Way.
Spain first he won, the Pyrenoeans past,
And frozen Alps, the Mounds that Nature cast:
And with corroding Juices, as he went,
A Passage thro’ the living Rocks he rent.
Tho’ Italy was conquer’d, and o’er–run:
Uneasy still, he cry’d, There’s nothing done,
Till, level with the Ground their Gates are laid,
And Punic Flags on Roman Tow’rs display’d.
But, what’s his End, O charming Glory! say
What rare fifth Act to crown this huffing Play?
In one deciding Battle overcome,
He flies, is banish’d from his native Home,
Begs Refuge in a foreign Court, and there
Attends, his mean Petition to prefer:
The Man who was so wonderful, so great,
Does the Bythinean Tyrant’s Rising wait.
What Death, at last, distinguish’d from Mankind,
For so untam’d, so turbulent a Mind!
Nor Swords at Hand, nor hissing Darts from far,
Do Canna’s Field avenge, and all the Rage of War:
This Justice by a little Ring is done.–
Go, climb the rugged Alps, ambitious Fool!
To please the Boys, and be a Theme at School.–
Sabbura, great in the Numidian Race,
And second to their swarthy King in Place,
First with a chosen slender Band proceeds,
And, seemingly, the Force of Juba leads:
While hidden He, the Prince Himself, remains,
And in a secret Vale his num’rous Troops restrains.
Thus oft th’ Ichneumon, on the Banks of Nile,
Invades the deadly Aspick by a Wile:
While artfully his slender Tail is play’d,
The Serpent darts upon the dancing Shade:
Then turning on the Foe with swift Surprize,
Full at his Throat the nimble Seizer flies.
The gasping Snake expires beneath the Wound,
His gushing Jaws with pois’nous Floods abound,
And shed the fruitless Mischief on the Ground.–
With seeming Fear Retreat and Flight they feign,
To draw th’ unwary Leader to the Plain:
He, bold, and unsuspicious of their Wiles,
Now thinking Conquest sure, and Fortune’s smiles,
Wide o’er the naked Champion spreads his Files:
When, sudden, all the circling Mountains round,
With numberless Numidians thick are crown’d.
At once the rising Ambush stands confess’d;
Dread strikes the Chief, and ev’ry Soldier’s Breast:
Helpless they view th’ impending Danger nigh,
Nor can the Valiant fight, nor Coward fly.–
Deep in a winding Track a Valley lies,
Well form’d for Ambush, and the Frauds of War,
On ev’ry Side with gloomy Boughs inclos’d:
To which a slender Path, thro’ narrow Sides,
(A difficult malignant Passage) leads.
High on the Mountain’s Top a secret Plain,
And safe Retreat there lies: Or to the Right,
Or to the Left, from thence you may engage,
Obvious in Fight: or standing on the Ridge,
Roll Stones and rocky Fragments on the Foe.
Hither the youthful Hero march’d his Force,
Thro’ the known Ways: with Expedition seiz’d
The Post, and in th’ uneven Thickets lay.–
Nor Cybele, nor Phoebus, Pythian God,
Nor even Bacchus with such Fury shakes
The Bosoms of his Priests: not half so mad
The Corybantes, when with frequent Blows
On the shrill Brass they strike, as is the Mind
Where direful Anger reigns; Anger, which Swords,
The Tempests of the deep, relentless Fire,
Nor Jove himself can stop, tho’ from an high,
He comes, tremendous, thund’ring down the Sky.–
The Man whose Reason can’t his Wrath asswage,
Prevents, himself, the Mischiefs of his Rage:
Striking too soon does his own Blow defeat,
And smarts a–new, for Vengeance uncompleat.
Anger’s short Madness: then command thy Soul,
And check thy Rage, which if not rul’d will rule;
With Bit and Rein it’s headlong Course controul.–
Thy Blood with Passion boils, with Anger glow
Thy sparkling Eyes, and Thou dost say, and do,
What, should the mad Orestes hear and see,
He’d swear that Thou art madder much than He.–
Fair gentle Peace becomes the human Mind,
Rage is for Brutes of the most savage Kind:
It swells the Lips, and blackens all the Veins,
Whilst in the Eyes a more than Gorgon Horror reigns.–
–Fierce Anger by Delay
Will soon be gone, as Ice dissolves away.–
Who conquer all, conquer your Anger too.–
So fond of all that’s antient are we grown,
Nothing, forsooth, of modern Date will down.
O’er the Decemvir’s Laws, devout, we pore,
And ancient Leagues, with Sabines made, adore:
The Augur’s Leaves, transported we admire:
And Bards, grown obsolete, can never tire.
These flow’d not sure from any human Skill!
The Muses gave them from the Aonian Hill.–
If Verse, like Wine, improves, mature by Age,
What Length of Years gives Value of the Page?–
Say, shall the Bard, whom certainly we know
To ‘ave dy’d but just an hundred Years agoe,
Stand with the Ancients, or the Moderns, plac’d?
With Those admir’d, or with These disgrac’d?–
Why! if an hundred Years agoe he writ,
Sure he’s an Ancient, and a Classic Wit!–
What Rank is his, an Age who cannot boast,
More Modern by a Month, or Year at most:
With Bards of old, or Those, whom, later born,
The present, and succeeding Times shall scorn?
Who wants a Month, or ev’n a Year, may be
Allow’d the Credit of Antiquity.
This frank Concession will my Cause avail:
By single Hairs I bare the Horse’s Tail:
For thus I’ll argue on, and bate one more,
And so, by one, and one, waste all the Store:
Confuting him, who values Wit by Years,
Nor living Bards, because alive, reveres.–
When Numa’s Song above our Verse you raise,
And what you understand not dare to praise,
‘Tis not, that fond of ancient Bards, you’re grown,
But Envy bids you not applaud our own.–
Appeal to the Gods.
But, if the Gods above have Pow’r to know,
And judge those Actions that are done below:
Unless the dreaded Thunders of the Sky,
Like me, subdu’d, and violated lye:
Hear me, O Heav’n! and if a God be there,
Let him regard me, and accept my Pray’r.–
Almighty Jove! to whom our Moorish Line
In large Libations pour the gen’rous Wine,
And feast on painted Beds: Say, Father! say,
If yet thy Eyes those flagrant Crimes survey.
Or do we vainly tremble and adore,
When thro’ the Skies the pealing Thunders roar?
Thine are the Bolts?–or idly do they fall,
And rattle thro’ the dark a
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Based on Keywords: orestes, nilus, rously, cybele, blust, weakens, sisyphus, er-run, unsuspicious, pythian, untam