Thro’ various toils th’ adventurous Muse has past;
But half the toil, and more than half, remains.
Rude is her Theme, and hardly fit for Song;
Plain, and of little ornament; and I
But little practis’d in th’ Aonian arts.
Yet not in vain such labours have we tried,
If aught these lays the fickle health confirm.
To you, ye delicate, I write; for you
I tame my youth to philosophic cares,
And grow still paler by the midnight lamps.
Not to debilitate with timorous rules
A hardy frame; nor needlesly to brave
Unglorious dangers, proud of mortal strength;
Is all the lesson that in wholesome years
Concerns the strong. His care were ill bestow’d
Who would with warm effeminacy nurse
The thriving oak which on the mountain’s brow
Bears all the blasts that sweep the wintry heav’n.
Behold the labourer of the glebe, who toils
In dust, in rain, in cold and sultry skies;
Save but the grain from mildews and the flood,
Nought anxious he what sickly stars ascend.
He knows no laws by Esculapius given;
He studies none. Yet him nor midnight fogs
Infest, nor those envenom’d shafts that fly
When rabid Sirius fires th’ autumnal noon.
His habit pure with plain and temperate meals,
Robust with labour, and by custom steel’d
To every casualty of varied life;
Serene he bears the peevish Eastern blast,
And uninfected breathes the mortal South.
Such the reward of rude and sober life;
Of labour such. By health the peasant’s toil
Is well repaid; if exercise were pain
Indeed, and temperance pain. By arts like these
Laconia nurs’d of old her hardy sons;
And Rome’s unconquer’d legions urg’d their way,
Unhurt, thro’ every toil in every clime.
Toil, and be strong. By toil the flaccid nerves
Grow firm, and gain a more compacted tone;
The greener juices are by toil subdu’d,
Mellow’d, and subtiliz’d; the vapid old
Expell’d, and all the rancour of the blood.
Come, my companions, ye who feel the charms
Of nature and the year; come, let us stray
Where chance or fancy leads our roving walk:
Come, while the soft voluptuous breezes fan
The fleecy heavens, enwrap the limbs in balm,
And shed a charming languor o’er the soul.
Nor when bright Winter sows with prickly frost
The vigorous ether, in unmanly warmth
Indulge at home; nor even when Eurus’ blasts
This way and that convolve the lab’ring woods.
My liberal walks, save when the skies in rain
Or fogs relent, no season should confine
Or to the cloister’d gallery or arcade.
Go, climb the mountain; from th’ ethereal source
Imbibe the recent gale. The chearful morn
Beams o’er the hills; go, mount th’ exulting steed.
Already, see, the deep–mouth’d beagles catch
The tainted mazes; and, on eager sport
Intent, with emulous impatience try
Each doubtful trace. Or, if a nobler prey
Delight you more, go chase the desperate deer;
And thro’ its deepest solitudes awake
The vocal forest with the jovial horn.
But if the breathless chase o’er hill and dale
Exceed your strength; a sport of less fatigue,
Not less delightful, the prolific stream
Affords. The crystal rivulet, that o’er
A stony channel rolls its rapid maze,
Swarms with the silver fry. Such, thro’ the bounds
Of pastoral Stafford, runs the brawling Trent;
Such Eden, sprung from Cumbrian mountains; such
The Esk, o’erhung with woods; and such the stream
On whose Arcadian banks I first drew air,
Liddal; till now, except in Doric lays
Tun’d to her murmurs by her love–sick swains,
Unknown in song: Tho’ not a purer stream,
Thro’ meads more flowery or more romantic groves,
Rolls toward the western main. Hail, sacred flood!
May still thy hospitable swains be blest
In rural innocence; thy mountains still
Teem with the fleecy race; thy tuneful woods
For ever flourish; and thy vales look gay
With painted meadows, and the golden grain!
Oft, with thy blooming sons, when life was new,
Sportive and petulant, and charm’d with toys,
In thy transparent eddies have I lav’d:
Oft trac’d with patient steps thy fairy banks,
With the well–imitated fly to hook
The eager trout, and with the slender line
And yielding rod sollicite to the shore
The struggling panting prey; while vernal clouds
And tepid gales obscur’d the ruffled pool,
And from the deeps call’d forth the wanton swarms.
Form’d on the Samian school, or those of Ind,
There are who think these pastimes scarce humane.
Yet in my mind (and not relentless I)
His life is pure that wears no fouler stains.
But if thro’ genuine tenderness of heart,
Or secret want of relish for the game,
You shun the glories of the chace, nor care
To haunt the peopled stream; the Garden yields
A soft amusement, an humane delight.
To raise th’ insipid nature of the ground;
Or tame its savage genius to the grace
Of careless sweet rusticity, that seems
The amiable result of happy chance,
Is to create; and gives a god–like joy,
Which every year improves. Nor thou disdain
To check the lawless riot of the trees,
To plant the grove, or turn the barren mould.
O happy he! whom, when his years decline,
(His fortune and his fame by worthy means
Attain’d, and equal to his moderate mind;
His life approv’d by all the wise and good,
Even envied by the vain) the peaceful groves
Of Epicurus, from this stormy world,
Receive to rest; of all ungrateful cares
Absolv’d, and sacred from the selfish crowd.
Happiest of men! if the same soil invites
A chosen few, companions of his youth,
Once fellow–rakes perhaps, now rural friends;
With whom in easy commerce to pursue
Nature’s free charms, and vie for sylvan fame:
A fair ambition; void of strife or guile,
Or jealousy, or pain to be outdone.
Who plans th’ enchanted garden, who directs
The visto best, and best conducts the stream;
Whose groves the fastest thicken and ascend;
Whom first the welcome spring salutes; who shews
The earliest bloom, the sweetest proudest charms
Of Flora; who best gives Pomona’s juice
To match the sprightly genius of champain.
Thrice happy days! in rural business past:
Blest winter nights! when as the genial fire
Chears the wide hall, his cordial family
With soft domestic arts the hours beguile,
And pleasing talk that starts no timorous fame,
With witless wantonness to hunt it down:
Or thro’ the fairy–land of tale or song
Delighted wander, in fictitious fates
Engag’d, and all that strikes humanity:
Till lost in fable, they the stealing hour
Of timely rest forget. Sometimes, at eve
His neighbours lift the latch, and bless unbid
His festal roof; while, o’er the light repast,
And sprightly cups, they mix in social joy;
And, thro’ the maze of conversation, trace
Whate’er amuses or improves the mind.
Sometimes at eve (for I delight to taste
The native zest and flavour of the fruit,
Where sense grows wild and takes of no manure)
The decent, honest, chearful husbandman
Should drown his labours in my friendly bowl;
And at my table find himself at home.
Whate’er you study, in whate’er you sweat,
Indulge your taste. Some love the manly foils;
The tennis some; and some the graceful dance.
Others more hardy, range the purple heath,
Or naked stubble; where from field to field
The sounding coveys urge their labouring flight;
Eager amid the rising cloud to pour
The gun’s unerring thunder: And there are
Whom still the meed of the green archer charms.
He chuses best, whose labour entertains
His vacant fancy most: The toil you hate
Fatigues you soon, and scarce improves your limbs.
As beauty still has blemish; and the mind
The most accomplish’d its imperfect side;
Few bodies are there of that happy mould
But some one part is weaker than the rest:
The legs, perhaps, or arms refufe their load,
Or the chest labours. These assiduously,
But gently, in their proper arts employ’d,
Acquire a vigour and springy activity
To which they were not born. But weaker parts
Abhor fatigue and violent discipline.
Begin with gentle toils; and, as your nerves
Grow firm, to hardier by just steps aspire.
The prudent, even in every moderate walk,
At first but saunter; and by slow degrees
Increase their pace. This doctrine of the wise
Well knows the master of the flying steed.
First from the goal the manag’d coursers play
On bended reins: as yet the skilful youth
Repress their foamy pride; but every breath
The race grows warmer, and the tempest swells;
Till all the fiery mettle has its way,
And the thick thunder hurries o’er the plain.
When all at once from indolence to toil
You spring, the fibres by the hasty shock
Are tir’d and crack’d, before their unctuous coats,
Compress’d, can pour the lubricating balm.
Besides, collected in the passive veins,
The purple mass a sudden torrent rolls,
O’erpowers the heart and deluges the lungs
With dangerous inundation: Oft the source
Of fatal woes; a cough that foams with blood,
Asthma and feller Peripneumony,
Or the slow minings of the hectic fire.
Th’ athletic Fool, to whom what heav’n deny’d
Of soul is well compensated in limbs,
Oft from his rage, or brainless frolic, feels
His vegetation and brute force decay.
The men of better clay and finer mould
Know nature, feel the human dignity;
And scorn to vie with oxen or with apes.
Pursu’d prolixly, even the gentlest toil
Is waste of health: repose by small fatigue
Is earn’d; and (where your habit is not prone
To thaw) by the first moisture of the brows.
The fine and subtle spirits cost too much
To be profus’d, too much the roscid balm.
But when the hard varieties of life
You toil to learn; or try the dusty chace,
Or the warm deeds of some important day:
Hot from the field, indulge not yet your limbs
In wish’d repose; nor court the fanning gale,
Nor taste the spring. O! by the sacred tears
Of widows, orphans, mothers, sisters, sires,
Forbear! No other pestilence has driven
Such myriads o’er th’ irremeable deep.
Why this so fatal, the sagacious Muse
Thro’ nature’s cunning labyrinths could trace:
But there are secrets which who knows not now,
Must, ere he reach them, climb the heapy Alps
Of Science; and devote seven years to toil.
Besides, I would not stun your patient ears
With what it little boots you to attain.
He knows enough, the mariner, who knows
Where lurk the shelves, and where the whirlpools boil,
What signs portend the storm: To subtler minds
He leaves to scan, from what mysterious cause
Charybdis rages in th’ Ionian wave;
Whence those impetuous currents in the main
Which neither oar nor sail can stem; and why
The roughening deep expects the storm, as sure
As red Orion mounts the shrouded heaven.
In ancient times, when Rome with Athens vied
For polish’d luxury and useful arts;
All hot and reeking from th’ Olympic strife,
And warm Palestra, in the tepid bath
Th’ athletic youth relax’d their weary limbs.
Soft oils bedew’d them, with the grateful pow’rs
Of Nard and Cassia fraught, to sooth and heal
The cherish’d nerves. Our less voluptuous clime
Not much invites us to such arts as these.
‘Tis not for those, whom gelid skies embrace,
And chilling fogs; whose perspiration feels
Such frequent bars from Eurus and the North;
‘Tis not for those to cultivate a skin
Too soft; or teach the recremental fume
Too fast to crowd thro’ such precarious ways.
For thro’ the small arterial mouths, that pierce
In endless millions the close–woven skin,
The baser fluids in a constant stream
Escape, and viewless melt into the winds.
While this eternal, this most copious, waste
Of blood, degenerate into vapid brine,
Maintains its wonted measure, all the powers
Of health befriend you, all the wheels of life
With ease and pleasure move: But this restrain’d
Or more or less, so more or less you feel
The functions labour: From this fatal source
What woes descend is never to be sung.
To take their numbers were to count the sands
That ride in whirlwind the parch’d Libyan air;
Or waves that, when the blustering North embroils
The Baltic, thunder on the German shore.
Subject not then, by soft emollient arts,
This grand expence, on which your fates depend,
To every caprice of the sky; nor thwart
The genius of your clime: For from the blood
Least fickle rise the recremental steams,
And least obnoxious to the styptic air,
Which breathe thro’ straiter and more callous pores,
The temper’d Scythian hence, half–naked treads
His boundless snows, nor rues th’ inclement heaven;
And hence our painted ancestors defied
The East: nor curs’d, like us, their fickle sky.
The body, moulded by the clime, endures
Th’ Equator heats or Hyperborean frost:
Except by habits foreign to its turn,
Unwise you counteract its forming pow’r.
Rude at the first, the winter shocks you less
By long acquaintance: Study then your sky,
Form to its manners your obsequious frame,
And learn to suffer what you cannot shun.
Against the rigors of a damp cold heav’n
To fortify their bodies, some frequent
The gelid cistern; and, where nought forbids,
I praise their dauntless heart: A frame so steel’d
Dreads not the cough, nor those ungenial blasts
That breathe the Tertian or fell Rheumatism;
The nerves so temper’d never quit their tone,
No chronic languors haunt such hardy breasts.
But all things have their bounds: and he who makes
By daily use the kindest regimen
Essential to his health, should never mix
With human kind, nor art nor trade pursue.
He not the safe vicissitudes of life
Without some shock endures; ill–fitted he
To want the known, or bear unusual things,
Besides, the powerful remedies of pain
(Since pain in spite of all our care will come)
Should never with your prosperous days of health
Grow too familiar: For by frequent use
The strongest medicines lose their healing power,
And even the surest poisons theirs to kill.
Let those who from the frozen Arctos reach
Parch’d Mauritania, or the sultry West,
Or the wide flood that laves rich Indostan,
Plunge thrice a day, and in the tepid wave
Untwist their stubborn pores; that full and free
Th’ evaporation thro’ the soften’d skin
May bear proportion to the swelling blood.
So may they ‘scape the fever’s rapid flames;
So feel untainted the hot breath of hell.
With us, the man of no complaint demands
The warm ablution just enough to clear
The sluices of the skin, enough to keep
The body sacred from indecent soil.
Still to be pure, ev’n did it not conduce
(As much it does) to health, were greatly worth
Your daily pains. ‘Tis this adorns the rich;
The want of this is poverty’s worst woe;
With this external virtue Age maintains
A decent grace; without it youth and charms
Are loathsome. This the venal Graces know;
So doubtless do your wives: For married sires,
As well as lovers, still pretend to taste;
Nor is it less (all prudent wives can tell)
To lose a husband’s than a lover’s heart.
But now the hours and seasons when to toil
From foreign themes recall my wandering song.
Some labour fasting, or but slightly fed
To lull the grinding stomach’s hungry rage.
Where nature feeds too corpulent a frame
‘Tis wisely done: For while the thirsty veins,
Impatient of lean penury, devour
The treasur’d oil, then is the happiest time
To shake the lazy balsam from its cells.
Now while the stomach from the full repast
Subsides, but ere returning hunger gnaws,
Ye leaner habits, give an hour to toil:
And ye whom no luxuriancy of growth
Oppresses yet, or threatens to oppress.
But from the recent meal no labours please,
Of limbs or mind. For now the cordial powers
Claim all the wandering spirits to a work
Of strong and subtle toil, and great event:
A work of time: and you may rue the day
You hurried, with untimely exercise,
A half–concocted chyle into the blood.
The body overcharg’d with unctuous phlegm
Much toil demands: The lean elastic less.
While winter chills the blood and binds the veins,
No labours are too hard: By those you ‘scape
The slow diseases of the torpid year;
Endless to name; to one of which alone,
To that which tears the nerves, the toil of slaves
Is pleasure: Oh! from such inhuman pains
May all be free who merit not the wheel!
But from the burning Lion when the sun
Pours down his sultry wrath; now while the blood
Too much already maddens in the veins,
And all the finer fluids thro’ the skin
Explore their flight; me, near the cool cascade
Reclin’d, or sauntring in the lofty grove,
No needless slight occasion should engage
To pant and sweat beneath the fiery noon.
Now the fresh morn alone and mellow eve
To shady walks and active rural sports
Invite. But, while the chilling dews descend,
May nothing tempt you to the cold embrace
Of humid skies; tho’ ’tis no vulgar joy
To trace the horrors of the solemn wood
While the soft evening saddens into night:
Tho’ the sweet Poet of the vernal groves
Melts all the night in strains of am’rous woe.
The shades descend, and midnight o’er the world
Expands her sable wings. Great Nature droops
Thro’ all her works. Now happy he whose toil
Has o’er his languid powerless limbs diffus’d
A pleasing lassitude: He not in vain
Invokes the gentle Deity of dreams.
His powers the most voluptuously dissolve
In soft repose: On him the balmy dews
Of sleep with double nutriment descend.
But would you sweetly waste the blank of night
In deep oblivion; or on Fancy’s wings
Visit the paradise of happy Dreams,
And waken chearful as the lively morn;
Oppress not Nature sinking down to rest
With feasts too late, too solid, or too full:
But be the first concoction half–matur’d
Ere you to mighty indolence resign
Your passive faculties. He from the toils
And troubles of the day to heavier toil
Retires, whom trembling from the tower that rocks
Amid the clouds, or Calpe’s hideous height,
The busy daemons hurl; or in the main
O’erwhelm; or bury struggling under ground.
Not all a monarch’s luxury the woes
Can counterpoise of that most wretched man,
Whose nights are shaken with the frantic fits
Of wild Orestes; whose delirious brain,
Stung by the Furies, works with poison’d thought:
While pale and monstrous painting shocks the soul;
And mangled consciousness bemoans itself
For ever torn; and chaos floating round.
What dreams presage, what dangers these or those
Portend to sanity, tho’ prudent seers
Reveal’d of old and men of deathless fame,
We would not to the superstitious mind
Suggest new throbs, new vanities of fear.
‘Tis ours to teach you from the peaceful night
To banish omens and all restless woes.
In study some protract the silent hours,
Which others consecrate to mirth and wine;
And sleep till noon, and hardly live till night.
But surely this redeems not from the shades
One hour of life. Nor does it nought avail
What season you to drowsy Morpheus give
Of th’ ever–varying circle of the day;
Or whether, thro’ the tedious winter gloom,
You tempt the midnight or the morning damps.
The body, fresh and vigorous from repose,
Defies the early fogs: but, by the toils
Of wakeful day, exhausted and unstrung,
Weakly resists the night’s unwholesome breath.
The grand discharge, th’ effusion of the skin,
Slowly impair’d, the languid maladies
Creep on, and thro’ the sickning functions steal.
As, when the chilling East invades the spring,
The delicate Narcissus pines away
In hectic languor; and a slow disease
Taints all the family of flowers, condemn’d
To cruel heav’ns. But why, already prone
To fade, should beauty cherish its own bane?
O shame! O pity! nipt with pale Quadrille,
And midnight cares, the bloom of Albion dies!
By toil subdu’d, the Warrior and the Hind
Sleep fast and deep: their active functions soon
With generous streams the subtle tubes supply;
And soon the tonic irritable nerves
Feel the fresh impulse and awake the soul.
The sons of indolence with long repose,
Grow torpid; and with slowest Lethe drunk,
Feebly and lingringly return to life,
Blunt every sense and pow’rless every limb.
Ye, prone to sleep (whom sleeping most annoys)
On the hard matrass or elastic couch
Extend your limbs, and wean yourselves from sloth;
Nor grudge the lean projector, of dry brain
And springy nerves, the blandishments of down:
Nor envy while the buried Bacchanal
Exhales his surfeit in prolixer dreams.
He without riot, in the balmy feast
Of life, the wants of nature has supply’d
Who rises, cool, serene, and full of soul.
But pliant nature more or less demands,
As custom forms her; and all sudden change
She hates of habit, even from bad to good.
If faults in life, or new emergencies,
From habits urge you by long time confirm’d,
Slow may the change arrive, and stage by stage;
Slow as the shadow o’er the dial moves,
Slow as the stealing progress of the year.
Observe the circling year. How unperceiv’d
Her seasons change! Behold! by slow degrees,
Stern Winter tam’d into a ruder Spring;
The ripen’d Spring a milder Summer glows;
Departing Summer sheds Pomona’s store;
And aged Autumn brews the winter–storm.
Slow as they come, these changes come not void
Of mortal shocks: The cold and torrid reigns,
The two great periods of th’ important year,
Are in their first approaches seldom safe:
Funereal Autumn all the sickly dread,
And the black fates deform the lovely Spring.
He well advis’d who taught our wiser sires
Early to borrow Muscovy’s warm spoils,
Ere the first frost has touch’d the tender blade;
And late resign them, tho’ the wanton Spring
Should deck her charms with all her sister’s rays.
For while the effluence of the skin maintains
Its native measure, the pleuritic Spring
Glides harmless by; and Autumn, sick to death
With sallow Quartans, no contagion breathes.
I in prophetic numbers could unfold
The omens of the year: what seasons teem
With what diseases; what the humid South
Prepares, and what the Demon of the East:
But you perhaps refuse the tedious song.
Besides, whatever plagues in heat, or cold,
Or drought, or moisture dwell, they hurt not you.
Skill’d to correct the vices of the sky,
And taught already how to each extream
To bend your life. but should the public bane
Infect you; or some trespass of your own,
Or flaw of nature, hint mortality:
Soon as a not unpleasing horror glides
Along the spine, thro’ all your torpid limbs;
When first the head throbs, or the stomach feels
A sickly load, a weary pain the loins;
Be Celsus call’d: The Fates come rushing on;
The rapid Fates admit of no delay.
While wilful you, and fatally secure,
Expect to–morrow’s more auspicious sun,
The growing pest, whose infancy was weak
And easy vanquish’d, with triumphant sway
O’erpow’rs your life. For want of timely care,
Millions have died of medicable wounds.
Ah! in what perils is vain life engag’d!
What slight neglects, what trivial faults destroy
The hardiest frame! of indolence, of toil,
We die; of want, of superfluity:
The all–surrounding heaven, the vital air,
Is big with death. And, tho’ the putrid South
Be shut; tho’ no convulsive agony
Shake, from the deep foundations of the world,
Th’ imprisoned plagues; a secret venom oft
Corrupts the air, the water, and the land.
What livid deaths has sad Byzantium seen!
How oft has Cairo, with a mother’s woe,
Wept o’er her slaughter’d sons and lonely streets!
Even Albion, girt with less malignant skies,
Albion the poison of the Gods has drank,
And felt the sting of monsters all her own.
Ere yet the fell Plantagenets had spent
Their ancient rage, at Bosworth’s purple field;
While, for which tyrant England should receive,
Her legions in incestuous murders mix’d,
And daily horrors; till the Fates were drunk
With kindred blood by kindred hands profus’d:
Another plague of more gigantic arm
Arose, a monster never known before,
Rear’d from Cocytus its portentous head.
This rapid Fury not, like other pests,
Pursu’d a gradual course, but in a day
Rush’d as a storm o’er half th’ astonish’d isle,
And strew’d with sudden carcases the land.
First thro’ the shoulders, or whatever part
Was seiz’d the first, a fervid vapour sprung.
With rash combustion thence, the quivering spark
Shot to the heart, and kindled all within;
And soon the surface caught the spreading fires.
Thro’ all the yielding pores, the melted blood
Gush’d out in smoaky sweats; but nought assuag’d
The torrid heat within, nor aught reliev’d
The stomach’s anguish. With incessant toil,
Desperate of ease, impatient of their pain,
They toss’d from side to side. In vain the stream
Ran full and clear, they burnt and thirsted still.
The restless arteries with rapid blood
Beat strong and frequent. Thick and pantingly
The breath was fetch’d, and with huge lab’rings heav’d.
At last a heavy pain oppress’d the head,
A wild delirium came; their weeping friends
Were strangers now, and this no home of theirs.
Harrass’d with toil on toil, the sinking powers
Lay prostrate and o’erthrown; a ponderous sleep
Wrapt all the senses up: they slept and died.
In some a gentle horror crept at first
O’er all the limbs; the sluices of the skin
Withheld their moisture, till by art provok’d
The sweats o’erflow’d; but in a clammy tide:
Now free and copious, now restrain’d and slow;
Of tinctures various, as the temperature
Had mix’d the blood; and rank with fetid steams:
As if the pent–up humours by delay
Were grown more fell, more putrid, and malign.
Here lay their hopes (tho’ little hope remain’d)
With full effusion of perpetual sweats
To drive the venom out. And here the fates
Were kind, that long they linger’d not in pain.
For who surviv’d the sun’s diurnal race
Rose from the dreary gates of hell redeem’d:
Some the sixth hour oppress’d, and some the third.
Of many thousands few untainted ‘scap’d;
Of those infected fewer ‘scap’d alive;
Of those who liv’d some felt a second blow;
And whom the second spar’d a third destroy’d.
Frantic with fear, they sought by flight to shun
The fierce contagion. O’er the mournful land
Th’ infected city pour’d her hurrying swarms:
Rous’d by the flames that fir’d her seats around,
Th’ infected country rush’d into the town.
Some, sad at home, and in the desart some,
Abjur’d the fatal commerce of mankind;
In vain: where’er they fled, the Fates pursu’d.
Others, with hopes more specious, cross’d the main,
To seek protection in far distant skies;
But none they found. It seem’d the general air,
From pole to pole, from Atlas to the East,
Was then at enmity with English blood.
For, but the race of England, all were safe
In foreign climes; nor did this Fury taste
The foreign blood which England then contain’d.
Where should they fly? The circumambient heaven
Involv’d them still; and every breeze was bane.
Where find relief? The salutary art
Was mute; and, startled at the new disease,
In fearful whispers hopeless omens gave.
To Heaven with suppliant rites they sent their pray’rs;
Heav’n heard them not. Of every hope depriv’d;
Fatigu’d with vain resources; and subdued
With woes resistless and enfeebling fear;
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow.
Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard,
Nor aught was seen but ghastly views of death.
Infectious horror ran from face to face,
And pale despair. ‘Twas all the business then
To tend the sick, and in their turns to die.
In heaps they fell: and oft one bed, they say,
The sick’ning, dying, and the dead contain’d.
Ye guardian Gods, on whom the Fates depend
Of tottering Albion! ye eternal Fires
That lead thro’ heav’n the wandering year! ye powers
That o’er th’ incircling elements preside!
May nothing worse than what this age has seen
Arrive! Enough abroad, enough at home
Has Albion bled. Here a distemper’d heaven
Has thin’d her cities; from those lofty cliffs
That awe proud Gaul, to Thule’s wintry reign;
While in the West, beyond th’ Atlantic foam,
Her bravest sons, keen for the fight, have dy’d
The death of cowards and of common men:
Sunk void of wounds, and fall’n without renown.
But from these views the weeping Muses turn,
And other themes invite my wandering song.
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