The Castle of Indolence/E
Of Vanity the Mirror This was call'd.
Here you a Muckworm of the Town might ſee,
At his dull Deſk, amid his Legers ſtall'd,
Eat up with carking Care and Penurie;
Moſt like to Carcaſe parch'd on Gallow-Tree.
A Penny ſaved is a Penny got:
Firm to this ſcoundrel Maxim keepeth he,
Ne of its Rigour will he bate a Jot,
Till it has quench'd his Fire, and baniſhed his Pot.
Strait from the Filth of this low Grub, behold!
Comes fluttering forth a gaudy ſpendthrift Heir,
All gloſſy gay, enamel'd all with Gold,
The ſilly Tenant of the Summer-Air.
In Folly loſt, of Nothing takes he Care;
Pimps, Lawyers, Stewards, Harlots, Flatterers vile,
And thieving Tradeſmen him among them ſhare:
His Father's Ghoſt from Limbo-Lake, the while,
Sees This, which more Damnation does upon him pile.
This Globe pourtray'd the Race of learned Men,
Still at their Books, and turning o'er the Page,
Backwards and forwards: oft they ſnatch the Pen,
As if inſpir'd, and in a Theſpian Rage;
Then write, and blot, as would your Ruth engage.
Why, Authors, all this Scrawl and Scribbling ſore?
To loſe the preſent, gain the future Age,
Praiſed to be when you can hear no more,
And much enrich'd with fame when uſeleſs worldly Store.
Then would a ſplendid City riſe to View,
With Carts, and Cars, and Coaches roaring all:
Wide-pour'd abroad behold the prowling Crew;
See! how they daſh along from Wall to Wall;
At every Door, hark! how they thundering call.
Good Lord! what can this giddy Rout excite?
Why? On each other with fell Tooth to fall;
A Neighbour's Fortune, Fame, or Peace, to blight,
And make new tireſome Parties for the coming Night.
The puzzling Sons of Party next appear'd,
In dark Cabals and nightly Juntos met;
And now they whiſper'd cloſe, new ſhrugging rear'd
Th' important Shoulder; then, as if to get
New Light, their twinkling Eyes were inward ſet.
No ſooner Lucifer recalls Affairs,
Than forth they various ruſh in mighty Fret;
When lo! puſh'd up to Power, and crown'd their Cares,
In comes another Set, and kicketh them down Stairs.
But what moſt ſhew'd the Vanity of Life,
Was to behold the Nations all on Fire,
In cruel Broils engag'd, and deadly Strife;
Moſt Chriſtian Kings, inflam'd by Black Deſire,
With Honourable Ruffians in their Hire,
Cauſe War to rage, and Blood around to pour:
Of this ſad Work when Each begins to tire,
They ſit them down juſt where they were before,
Till for new Scenes of Woe Peace ſhall their Force reſtore.
To number up the Thouſands dwelling here,
An uſeleſs were, and eke an endleſs Taſk:
From Kings, and Thoſe who at the Helm appear,
To Gipſies brown in Summer-Glades who baſk.
Yea many a Man perdie I could unmask,
Whoſe Deſk and Table make a ſolemn Show,
With Tape-ty'd Traſh, and Suits of Fools that aſk
For Place or Penſion, laid in decent Row;
But Theſe I paſſen by, with nameleſs Numbers mo'e.
Of all the gentle Tenants of the Place,
There was a Man of ſpecial grave Remark:
A certain tender Gloom o'erſpread his Face,
Penſive not ſad, in Thought involv'd not dark,
As ſoot this Man could ſing as Morning-Lark,
And teach the nobleſt Morals of the Heart:
But Theſe his Talents were ybury'd ſtark;
Of the fine Stores he Nothing would impart,
Which or boon Nature gave, or Nature-painting Art.
To Noontide Shades incontinent he ran,
Where purls the Brook with Sleep-inviting Sound;
Or when Dan Sol to ſlope his Wheels began,
Amid the Broom he baſk'd him on the Ground,
Where the wild Thyme and Camomil are found:
There would he linger, till the lateſt Ray
Of Light ſat trembling on the Welkin's Bound:
Then homeward through the twilight Shadows ſtray,
Sauntring and ſlow. So had he paſſed many a Day.
Yet not in thoughtleſs Slumber were they paſt:
For oft the heavenly Fire, that lay conceal'd
Beneath the ſleeping Embers, mounted faſt,
And all its native Light anew reveal'd;
Oft as he travers'd the Cerulean Field,
And mark'd the Clouds that drove before the Wind,
Ten thouſand glorious Syſtems would he build,
Ten thouſand great Ideas fill'd his Mind;
But with the Clouds they fled, and left no Tract behind.
With him was ſometimes join'd, in ſilent Walk,
(Profoundly ſilent, for they never ſpoke)
One ſhyer ſtill, who quite deteſted Talk:
Oft, ſtung by Spleen, at once away he broke,
To Groves of Pine, and broad o'erſhadowing Oak;
There, inly thrill'd, he wander'd all alone.
And on himſelf his penſive Fury wroke,
Ne ever utter'd Word, ſave when firſt ſhone
The glittering Star of Eve—"Thank Heaven! the Day is done."
Here lurk'd a Wretch, who had not crept abroad
For forty Years, ne Face of Mortal ſeen;
In Chamber brooding like a loathly Toad,
And ſure his Linnen was not very clean;
Through ſecret Loop-Hole, that had practis'd been
Near to his Bed, his Dinner vile he took;
Unkempt, and rough, of ſqualid Face and Mein,
Our Caſtle's ſhame! whence, from his filthy Nook,
We drove the Villain out for fitter Lair to look.
One Day there chaunc'd into theſe Halls to rove
A joyous Youth, who took you at firſt Sight;
Him the wild Wave of Pleaſure hither drove,
Before the ſprightly Tempeſt toſſing light:
Certes, he was a moſt engaging Wight,
Of ſocial Glee, and Wit humane though keen,
Turning the Night to Day and Day to Night;
For him the merry Bell had rung, I ween,
If in this Nook of Quiet Bells had ever been.
But not even Pleaſure to Exceſs is good,
What moſt elates then ſinks the Soul so low;
When Spring-Tide Joy pours in with copious Flood,
The higher ſtill th' exulting Billows flow,
The farther back again they flagging go,
And leave us groveling on the dreary Shore:
Taught by this Son of Joy, we found it ſo;
Who, whilſt he ſtaid, kept in a gay Uproar
Our madden'd Caſtle all, th' Abode of Sleep no more.
As when in Prime of June a burniſh'd Fly,
Sprung from the Meads, o'er which he ſweeps along,
Chear'd by the breathing Bloom and vital Sky,
Tunes up amid theſe airy Halls his Song,
Soothing at firſt the gay repoſing Throng:
And oft he ſips their Bowl; or nearly drown'd,
He thence recovering, drives their Beds among,
And ſcares their tender Sleep, with Trump profound;
Then out again he flies, to wing his mazy Round.
Another Gueſt there was, of Senſe refin'd,
Who felt each Worth, for every Worth he had;
Serene yet warm, humane yet firm his Mind,
As little touch'd as any Man's with Bad:
Him through their inmoſt Walks the Muſes lad,
To him the ſacred Love of Nature lent,
And ſometimes would he make our Valley glad;
Whenas we found he would not here be pent,
To him the better Sort this friendly Meſſage ſent.