The Castle of Indolence/G
Is there no Patron to protect the Muſe,
And fence for Her Parnaſſus' barren Soil?
To every Labour its Reward accrues,
And they are ſure of Bread who ſwink and Moil;
But a fell Tribe th' Aonian Hive deſpoil,
As ruthleſs Waſps oft rob the painful Bee:
Thus while the Laws not guard that nobleſt Toil,
Ne for the Muſes other Meed decree,
They praiſed are alone, and ſtarve right merrily.
I care not, Fortune, what you me deny:
You cannot rob me of free Nature's Grace;
You cannot ſhut the Windows of the Sky,
Through which Aurora ſhews her brightening Face;
You cannot bar my conſtant Feet to trace
The Woods and Lawns, by living stream, by Eve:
Let Health my Nerves and finer Fibres brace,
And I their Toys to the great Children leave;
Of Fancy, Reaſon, Virtue, nought can me bereave.
Come then, my Muſe, and raiſe a bolder Song;
Come, lig no more upon the Bed of Sloth,
Dragging the lazy languid Line along,
Fond to begin but ſtill to finiſh loth,
Thy half-writ Scrolls all eaten by the Moth:
Ariſe, and ſing that generous Imp of Fame,
Who with the Sons of Softneſs nobly wroth,
To ſweep away this Human Lumber came,
Or in a choſen Few to rouſe the ſlumbering Flame.
In Fairy-Land there liv'd a Knight of old,
Of Feature ſtern, Selvaggio well yclep'd,
A rough unpoliſh'd Man, robuſt and bold,
But wondrous poor: he neither ſow'd nor reap'd,
Ne Stores in Summer for cold Winter heap'd;
In Hunting all his Days away he wore;
Now ſcorch'd by June, now in November ſteep'd,
Now pinch'd by biting January ſore,
He ſtill in Woods purſu'd the Libbard and the Boar.
As he one Morning, long before the Dawn,
Prick'd through the Foreſt to diſlodge his Prey,
Deep in the winding Boſom of a Lawn,
With Wood wild-fring'd, he marked a Taper's Ray,
That from the beating Rain, and wintry Fray,
Did to a lonely Cott his steps decoy;
There, up to earn the Needments of the Day,
He found Dame Poverty, nor fair nor coy:
Her he compreſs'd, and fill'd Her with a luſty Boy.
Amid the green-wood Shade this Boy was bred,
And grew at laſt a Knight of muchel Fame,
Of active Mind and vigorous Luſtyhed,
The Knight of Arts and Industry by Name.
Earth was his Bed, the Boughs his Roof did frame;
He knew no Beverage but the flowing Stream;
His taſteful well-earn'd Food the ſilvan Game,
Or the brown Fruit with which the Wood-Lands teem:
The ſame to him glad Summer or the Winter breme.
So paſs'd his youthly Morning, void of Care,
Wild as the Colts that through the Commons run:
For him no tender Parents troubled were,
He of the Foreſt ſeem'd to be the Son,
And certes had been utterly undone;
But that Minerva Pity of him took,
With all the Gods that love the Rural Wonne,
That teach to tame the Soil and rule the Crook;
Ne did the ſacred Nine diſdain a gentle Look.
Of fertile Genius him they nurtur'd well,
In every Science and in every Art,
By which Mankind the thoughtleſs Brutes excel,
That can or Uſe, or Joy, or Grace impart,
Diſcloſing all the Powers of Head and Heart.
Ne were the goodly Exerciſes ſpar'd,
That brace the Nerves, or make the Limbs alert,
And mix elaſtic Force with Firmneſs hard:
Was never Knight on Ground mote be with him compar'd.
Sometimes, with early Morn, he mounted gay
The Hunter-ſteed, exulting o'er the Dale,
And drew the roſeat Breath of orient Day;
Sometimes, retiring to the ſecret Vale,
Yclad in Steel and bright with burniſh'd Mail,
He ſtrain'd the Bow, or toſs'd the ſounding Spear,
Or darting on the Goal outſtripped the Gale,
Or wheel'd the Chariot in its Mid-Career,
Or ſtrenuous wreſtled hard with many a tough Compeer.
At other Times he pry'd through Nature's Store,
Whate'er ſhe in th' Etherial Round contains,
Whate'er ſhe hides beneath her verdant Floor,
The vegetable and the mineral Reigns;
Or elſe he ſcann'd the Globe, thoſe ſmall Domains,
Where reſtleſs Mortals ſuch a Turmoil keep,
Its Seas, its Floods, its Mountains, and its Plains;
But more he ſearch'd the Mind, and rous'd from Sleep
Thoſe moral Seeds whence we heroic Actions reap.
Nor would he ſcorn to ſtoop from high Purſuits
Of heavenly Truth, and practiſe what ſhe taught.
Vain is the Tree of Knowledge without Fruits.
Sometimes in Hand the Spade or Plough he caught,
Forth-calling all with which boon Earth is fraught;
Sometimes he ply'd the ſtrong mechanic Tool,
Or rear'd the Fabrick from the fineſt Draught;
And oft he put himſelf to Neptune's School,
Fighting with Winds and Waves on the vext Ocean Pool.
To ſolace then theſe rougher Toils, he try'd
To touch the kindling Canvaſs into Life;
With Nature his creating Pencil vy'd,
With Nature joyous at the mimic Strife:
Or, to ſuch Shapes as grac'd Pygmalion's Wife,
He hew'd the Marble; or, with vary'd Fire,
He rous'd the Trumpet and the martial Fife,
Or bad the Lute ſweet Tenderneſs inſpire,
Or Verſes fram'd that well might wake Apollo's Lyre.
Accompliſh'd thus he from the Woods iſſu'd,
Full of great Aims, and bent on bold Emprize;
The Work, which long he in his Breaſt had brew'd,
Now to perform he ardent did deviſe;
To-wit, a barbarous World to civilize.
Earth was till Then a boundleſs Foreſt wild;
Nought to be ſeen but ſavage Wood, and Skies;
No Cities nouriſh'd Arts, no Culture smil'd,
No Government, no Laws, no gentle Manners mild.
A rugged Wight, the Worſt of Brutes, was Man:
On his own wretched Kind he, ruthleſs, prey'd;
The Strongeſt ſtill the Weakeſt over-ran;
In every Country mighty Robbers ſway'd.
And Guile and ruffian Force were all their Trade.
Life was not Life, but Rapine, Want, and Woe;
Which this brave Knight, in noble Anger, made
To ſwear, he would the raſcal Rout o'erthrow,
For, by the Powers Divine, it ſhould no more be ſo!
It would exceed the Purport of my Song,
To ſay how this beſt Sun, from orient Climes,
Came beaming Life and Beauty all along,
Before him chaſing Indolence and Crimes.
Still as he paſs'd, the Nations he ſublimes,
And calls forth Arts and Virtue with his Ray:
Then Egypt, Greece and Rome their Golden Times,
Successive, had; but now in Ruins grey
They lie, to ſlaviſh Sloth and Tyranny a Prey.
To crown his Toils, Sir Industry then ſpred
The ſwelling Sail, and made for Britain's Coaſt.
A Sylvan Life till Then the Natives led,
In the brown Shades and green-wood Foreſt loſt,
All careleſs rambling where it lik'd them moſt:
Their Wealth the Wild-Deer bouncing through the Glade;
They lodg'd at large, and liv'd at Nature's Coſt;
Save Spear, and Bow, withouten other aid,
Yet not the Roman Steel their naked Breaſt diſmay'd.