The Castle of Indolence/H

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    He lik'd the Soil, he lik'd the clement Skies,
    He lik'd the verdant Hills and flowery Plains.
    Be This my great my choſen Iſle (he cries)
    This, whilſt my Labours Liberty ſuſtains,
    This Queen of Ocean all Aſſault diſdains.
    Not lik'd he leſs the Genius of the Land,
    To Freedom apt and perſevering Pains,
    Mild to obey, and generous to command,
Temper'd by the forming Heaven with kindeſt firmeſt Hand.


    Here, by Degrees, his Maſter-Work aroſe,
    Whatever Arts and Induſtry can frame:
    Whatever finiſh'd Agriculture knows,
    Fair Queen of Arts! from Heaven itſelf who came,
    When Eden flouriſh'd in unſpotted Fame:
    And ſtill with Her ſweet Innocence we find,
    And tender Peace, and Joys without a Name,
    That, while they rapture, tranquillize the Mind;
Nature and Art at once, Delight and Uſe combin'd.


    The Towns he quicken'd by mechanic Arts,
    And bade the fervant City glow with Toil;
    Bade ſocial Commerce raiſe renowned Marts,
    Join Land to Land, and marry Soil to Soil,
    Unite the Poles, and without bloody Spoil
    Bring home of either Ind the gorgeous Stores;
    Or, ſhould Deſpotic Rage the World embroil,
    Bade Tyrants tremble on remoteſt Shores,
While o'er th'encircling Deep Britannia's Thunder roars.


    The drooping Muſes then he weſtward call'd,
    From the fam'd City by Propontis Sea,
    What Time the Turk th'enfeebled Grecian thrall'd;
    Thence from their cloiſter'd Walks he ſet them free,
    And brought them to another Caſtalie:
    Where Iſis many a famous Nourſling breeds;
    Or where old Cam ſoft-paces o'er the Lea,
    In penſive Mood, and tunes his Doric Reeds,
The whilſt his Flocks at large the lonely Shepherd feeds.


    Yet the fine Arts were what he finiſh'd leaſt.
    For why? They are the Quinteſſence of All,
    The Growth of labouring Time, and ſlow increaſt;
    Unleſs, as seldom chances, it ſhould fall,
    That mighty Patrons the coy Siſters call
    Up to the Sun-ſhine of uncumber'd Eaſe,
    Where no rude Care the mounting Thought may thrall,
    And where they nothing have to do but pleaſe:
Ah, gracious God! thou know'ſt they aſk no other Fees.


    But now, alas! we live too late in Time:
    Our Patrons now even grudge that little Claim,
    Except to ſuch as ſleek the ſoothing Rhyme;
    And yet, forſooth, they wear Mæcenas' Name,
    Poor Sons of puft-up Vanity, not Fame!
    Unbroken Spirits, chear! ſtill, ſtill remains
    Th' Eternal Patron, Liberty; whoſe Flame,
    While ſhe protects, inſpired the nobleſt Strains.
The beſt, and ſweeteſt far, are Toil-created Gains.


    Whenas the Knight has fram'd, in Britain-Land,
    A matchleſs Form of glorious Government;
    In which the ſovereign Laws alone command,
    Laws ſtabliſh'd by the public free Conſent,
    Whoſe Majeſty is to the Sceptre lent:
    When this great Plan, with each dependent Art,
    Was ſettled firm, and to his Heart's Content,
    Then ſought he from the toilſome Scene to part,
And let Life's vacant Eve breathe Quiet through the Heart.


    For This he choſe a Farm in Deva Vale,
    Where his long Alleys peep'd upon the Main.
    In this calm Seat he drew the healthful Gale,
    Commix'd the Chief, the Patriot, and the Swain,
    The happy Monarch of his Sylvan Train!
    Here, ſided by the Guardians of the Fold,
    He walk'd his Rounds, and chear'd his bleſt Domain,
    His Days, the Days of unſtain'd Nature, roll'd
Replete with Peace and Joy, like Patriarch's of old.


    Witneſs, ye lowing Herds, who lent him Milk;
    Witneſs, ye Flocks, whoſe woolly Veſtments far
    Exceed ſoft India's Cotton, or her Silk;
    Witneſs, with Autumn charg'd, the nodding Car,
    That homeward came beneath ſweet Evening Star,
    Or of ſeptember-Moons the Radiance mild.
    O hide thy Head, abominable War!
    Of Crimes and ruffian Idleneſs the Child!
From Heaven this Life yſprung, from Hell thy Glories vild!


    Nor, from his deep Retirement, baniſh'd was
    Th' amuſing Cares of Rural Induſtry.
    Still, as with grateful Change the Seaſons paſs,
    New Scenes ariſe, new Landſkips ſtrike the Eye,
    And all th' enliven'd Country beautify:
    Gay Plains extend where Marſhes ſlept before;
    O'er recent Meads th' exulting Streamlets fly;
    Dark frowning Heaths grow bright with Ceres' ſtore,
    And Woods imbrown the Steep, or wave along the Shore.


    As nearer to his Farm you made Approach,
    He poliſh'd Nature with a finer Hand:
    Yet on her Beauties durſt not Art incroach;
    'Tis Art's alone theſe Beauties to expand.
    In graceful Dance immingled, o'er the Land,
    Pan, Pales, Flora, and Pomona play'd:
    Even here, ſometimes, the rude wild Common fand
    An happy Place; where free, and unafraid,
Amid the flowering Brakes each coyer Creature ſtray'd.


    But in prime Vigour what can laſt for ay?
    That foul-enfeebling Wizard Indolence,
    I whilom ſung, wrought in his Works decay:
    Spred far and wide was his curs'd Influence;
    Of Public Virtue much he dull'd the Senſe,
    Even much of Private; eat our Spirit out,
    And fed our rank luxurious Vices: whence
    The Land was overlaid with many a Lout;
Not, as old Fame reports, wiſe, generous, bold, and ſtout.


    A Rage of Pleaſure madden'd every Breaſt,
    Down to the loweſt Lees the Ferment ran:
    To his licentious Wiſh Each muſt be bleſt,
    With Joy be fever'd; ſnatch it as he can.
    Thus Vice the Standard rear'd; her Arrier-Ban
    Corruption call'd, and loud ſhe gave the Word.
    "Mind, mind yourſelves! Why ſhould the vulgar Man,
    "The Lacquey be more virtuous than his Lord?
"Enjoy this Span of Life! 'tis all the Gods afford."


    The Tidings reach'd to Where in quiet Hall,
    The good old Knight enjoy'd well-earn'd Repoſe.
    "Come, come, Sir Knight! thy Children on thee call;
    "Come, ſave us yet, ere Ruin round us cloſe!
    "The Demon Indolence thy Toils o'erthrows."
    On This the noble Colour ſtain'd his Cheeks,
    Indignant, glowing through the whitening Snows
    Of venerable Eld; his Eye full ſpeaks
His ardent Soul, and from his Couch at once he breaks.


    I will, (he cry'd) ſo help me, God! deſtroy
    That Villain Archimage!—His Page then ſtrait
    He to him call'd, a fiery-footed Boy,
    Benempt Diſpatch. "My Steed be at the gate;
    "My Bard attend; quick, bring the Net of Fate."
    This Net was twiſted by the Siſters Three;
    Which when once caſt o'er harden'd Wretch, too late
    Repentance comes: Replevy cannot be
From the ſtrong iron Graſp of vengeful Deſtiny.


    He came, the Bard, a little Druid-Wight,
    Of wither'd Aſpect; but his Eye was keen,
    With Sweetneſs mix'd. In Ruſſet brown bedight,
    As is his Siſter of the Copſes green,
    He crept along, unpromiſing of Mien.
    Groſs he who judges ſo. His Soul was fair,
    Bright as the Children of yon Azure ſheen.
    True Comelineſs, which nothing can impair,
Dwells in the Mind: all elſe is Vanity and Glare.