The Castle of Indolence/C

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    "But if a little Exerciſe you chuſe,
    "Some Zeſt for Eaſe, 'tis not forbidden here.
    "Amid the Groves you may indulge the Muſe,
    "Or tend the Blooms, and deck the vernal Year;
    "Or ſoftly ſtealing, with your watry Gear,
    "Along the Brooks, the crimſon-ſpotted Fry
    "You may delude: The whilſt, amus'd, you hear
    "Now the hoarſe Stream, and now the Zephir's Sigh,
"Attuned to the Birds, and woodland Melody.


    "O grievous Folly! to heap up Eſtate,
    "Loſing the Days you ſee beneath the Sun;
    "When, ſudden, comes blind unrelenting Fate,
    "And gives th' untaſted Portion you have won,
    "With ruthleſs Toil, and many a Wretch undone,
    "To Thoſe who mock you gone to Pluto's Reign,
    "There with ſad Ghoſts to pine, and Shadows dun:
    "But ſure it is of Vanities moſt vain,
"To toil for what you here untoiling may obtain."


    He ceas'd. But ſtill their trembling Ears retain'd
    The deep Vibrations of his witching Song;
    That, by a Kind of Magic Power, conſtrain'd
    To enter in, pell-mell, the liſtening Throng.
    Heaps pour'd on Heaps, and yet they ſlip'd along
    In ſilent Eaſe: as when beneath the Beam
    Of Summer-Moons, the diſtant Woods among,
    Or by ſome Flood all ſilver'd with the Gleam,
The ſoft-embodied Fays through airy Portal ſtream.


    By the ſmooth Demon ſo it order'd was,
    And here his baneful Bounty firſt began:
    Though ſome there were who would not further paſs,
    And his alluring Baits ſuſpected han.
    The Wiſe diſtruſt the too fair-ſpoken Man.
    Yet through the Gate they caſt a wiſhful Eye:
    Not to move on, perdie, is all they can;
    For do their very Beſt they cannot fly,
But often each Way look, and often ſorely ſigh.


    When this the watchful Wizard ſaw,
    With ſudden Spring he leap'd upon them ſtrait;
    And ſoon as touch'd by his unhallow'd Paw,
    They found themſelves within the curſed Gate;
    Full hard to be repaſs'd, like That of Fate.
    Not ſtronger were of old the Giant-Crew,
    Who fought to pull high Jove from regal State;
    Though feeble Wretch he ſeem'd, of ſallow Hue:
Certes, who bides his Graſp, will that Encounter rue.


    For whomſoe'er the Villain takes in Hand,
    Their Joints unknit, their Sinews melt apace;
    As lithe they grow as any Willow-Wand,
    And of their vaniſh'd Force remains no Trace:
    So when a Maiden fair, of modeſt Grace,
    In all her buxom blooming May of Charms,
    Is ſeized in ſome Loſel's hot Embrace,
    She waxeth very weakly as ſhe warms,
Then ſighing yields Her up to Love's delicious Harms.


    Wak'd by the Croud, ſlow from his Bench aroſe
    A comely full-ſpred Porter, ſwoln with Sleep:
    His calm, broad, thoughtleſs Aſpect breath'd Repoſe;
    And in ſweet Torpor he was plunged deep,
    Ne could himſelf from ceaſeleſs Yawning keep;
    While o'er his Eyes the drowſy Liquor ran,
    Through which his half-wak'd Soul would faintly peep.
    Then taking his black Staff he call'd his Man,
And rous'd himſelf as much as rouſe himſelf he can.


    The Lad leap'd lightly at his Maſter's Call.
    He was, to weet, a little roguiſh Page,
    Save Sleep and Play who minded nought at all,
    Like moſt the untaught Striplings of his Age.
    This Boy he kept each Band to diſengage,
    Garters and Buckles, Task for him unfit,
    But ill-becoming his grave Perſonage,
    And which his portly Paunch would not permit,
So this ſame limber Page to All performed It.


    Mean time the Maſter-Porter wide diſplay'd
    Great Store of Caps, of Slippers, and of Gowns;
    Wherewith he Thoſe who enter'd in, array'd;
    Looſe, as the Breeze that plays along the Downs,
    And waves the Summer-Woods when Evening frowns.
    O fair Undreſs, beſt Dreſs! it checks no Vein,
    But every flowing Limb in Pleaſure drowns.
    And heightens Eaſe with Grace. This done, right fain,
Sir Porter ſat him down, and turn'd to Sleep again.


    Thus eaſy-rob'd, they to the Fountain ſped,
    That in the Middle of the Court up-threw
    A Stream, high-ſpouting from its liquid Bed,
    And falling back again in drizzly Dew:
    There Each deep Draughts, as deep he thirſted, drew.
    It was a Fountain of Nepenthe rare:
    Whence, as Dan Homer ſings, huge Pleaſaunce grew,
    And ſweet Oblivion of vile earthly Care;
Fair gladſome waking Thoughts, and joyous Dreams more fair.


    This Rite perform'd, All inly pleas'd and ſtill,
    Withouten Tromp, was Proclamation made.
    "Ye Sons of Indolence, do what you will;
    "And wander where you liſt, through Hall or Glade:
    "Be no Man's Pleaſure for another's ſtaid;
    "Let Each as likes him beſt his Hours employ,
    "And curs'd be he who minds his Neighbour's Trade!
    "Here dwells kind Eaſe and unreproving Joy:
"He little merits Bliſs who Others can annoy."


    Strait of theſe endleſs Numbers, ſwarming round,
    As thick as idle Motes in ſunny Ray,
    Not one eftſoons in View was to be found,
    But every Man ſtroll'd off his own glad Way.
    Wide o'er this ample Court's blank Area,
    With all the Lodges that thereto pertain'd,
    No living Creature could be ſeen to ſtray;
    While Solitude, and perfect Silence reign'd:
So that to think you dreamt you almoſt was conſtrain'd.


    As when a Shepherd of the Hebrid-Iſles,
    Plac'd far amid the melancholy Main,
    (Whether it be lone Fancy him beguiles;
    Or that aerial Beings ſometimes deign
    To ſtand, embodied, to our Senſes plain)
    Sees on the naked Hill, or Valley low,
    The whilſt in Ocean Phœbus dips his Wain,
    A vaſt Aſſembly moving to and fro:
Then all at once in Air diſſolves the wondrous Show.


    Ye Gods of Quiet, and of Sleep profound!
    Whoſe ſoft Dominion o'er the Caſtle ſways,
    And all the widely-ſilent Places round,
    Forgive me, if my trembling Pen diſplays
    What never yet was ſung in mortal Lays.
    But how ſhall I attempt ſuch arduous String?
    I who have ſpent my Nights and nightly Days,
    In this Soul-deadening Place, looſe-loitering?
Ah! how ſhall I for this uprear my moulted Wing?


    Come on, my Muſe, nor ſtoop to low Deſpair,
    Thou Imp of Jove, touch'd by celeſtial Fire!
    Thou yet ſhalt ſing of War, and Actions fair,
    Which the bold Sons of Britain will inſpire;
    Of ancient Bards thou yet ſhalt ſweep the Lyre;
    Thou yet ſhalt tread in Tragic Pall the Stage,
    Paint Love's enchanting Woes, the Heroe's Ire,
    The Sage's Calm, the Patriot's noble Rage,
Daſhing Corruption down through every worthleſs Age.


    The Doors, that knew no ſhrill alarming Bell,
    Ne curſed Knocker ply'd by Villain's Hand,
    Self-open'd into Halls, where, who can tell
    What Elegance and Grandeur wide expand
    The Pride of Turkey and of Perſia Land?
    Soft Quilts on Quilts, on Carpets Carpets ſpread,
    And Couches ſtretch around in ſeemly Band;
    And endleſs Pillows riſe to prop the Head;
So that each ſpacious Room was one full-ſwelling Bed.