The Castle of Indolence/I
Come! (quoth the Knight) a Voice has reach'd mine Ear,
The Demon Indolence threats Overthrow
To all that to Mankind is good and dear:
Come, Philomelus! let us inſtant go,
O'erturn his Bowers, and lay his Caſtle low!
Thoſe Men, thoſe wretched Men! who will be Slaves,
Muſt drink a bitter wrathful Cup of Woe:
But ſome there be, thy Song, as from their Graves,
Shall raiſe. Thrice happy he! who without Rigour ſaves.
Iſſuing forth, the Knight beſtrode his Steed,
Of ardent Bay, and on whoſe Front a Star
Shone blazing bright: Sprung from the generous Breed
That whirl of active Day the rapid Car,
He pranc'd along, diſdaining Gate or Bar.
Meantime, the Bard on milk-white Palfrey rode;
An honeſt ſober Beaſt, that did not mar
His Meditations, but full ſoftly trode:
And much they moraliz'd as thus yfere they yode.
They talk'd of Virtue, and of Human Bliſs.
What elſe ſo fit for Man to ſettle well?
And ſtill their long Reſearches met in This,
This Truth of Truths, which nothing can refel:
"From Virtue's Fount the pureſt Joys out-well,
"Sweet Rills of Thought that chear the conſcious Soul;
"While Vice pours forth the troubled Streams of Hell,
"The which, howe'er diſguis'd, at laſt with Dole
"Will through the tortur'd Breaſt their fiery Torrent roll."
At length it dawn'd, that fatal Valley gay,
O'er which high wood-crown'd Hills their Summits rear.
On the cool height awhile out Palmers ſtay,
And ſpite even of themſelves their Senſes chear;
Then to the Wizard's Wonne their Steps they ſteer.
Like a green Iſle, it broad beneath them ſpred,
With Gardens round, and wandering Currents clear,
And tufted Groves to ſhade the Meadow-Bed,
Sweet Airs and Song; and without Hurry all ſeem'd glad.
"As God ſhall judge me, Knight, we muſt forgive
(The half-enraptur'd Philomelus cry'd)
"The frail good Man deluded here to live,
"And in theſe Groves his muſing Fancy hide.
"Ah, Nought is pure! It cannot be deny'd,
"That Virtue ſtill ſome Tincture has of Vice,
"And Vice of Virtue. What ſhould then betide,
"But that our Charity be not too nice?
"Come, let us Thoſe we can to real Bliſs entice.
"Ay, ſicker, (quoth the Knight) all Fleſh is frail,
"To pleaſant Sin and joyous Dalliance bent;
"But let not brutiſh Vice of This avail,
"And think to ſcape deſerved Puniſhment.
Justice were cruel weakly to relent;
"From Mercy's Self ſhe got her ſacred Glaive:
"Grace be to Thoſe who can, and will, repent;
"But Penance long, and dreary, to the Slave,
"Who muſt in Floods of Fire his groſs foul Spirit lave.
Thus, holding high Diſcourſe, they came to Where
The curſed Carle was at his wonted Trade;
Still tempting heedleſs Men into his Snare,
In witching Wiſe, as I before have ſaid.
But when he ſaw, in goodly Geer array'd,
The grave majeſtic Knight approaching nigh,
And by his Side the Bard ſo ſage and ſtaid,
His Countenance fell; yet oft his anxious Eye
Mark'd them, like wily Fox who rooſted Cock doth ſpy.
Nathleſs, with feign'd Reſpect, he bade give back
The Rabble-Rout, and welcom'd them full kind;
Struck with the noble Twain, they were not ſlack
His Orders to obey, and fall behind.
Then he reſum'd his Song, and, unconfin'd,
Pour'd all his Muſic, ran through all his Strings:
With magic Duſt their Eyne he tries to blind,
And Virtue's tender Airs o'er Weakneſs flings.
What Pity baſe his Song who ſo divinely ſings!
Elate in Thought, he counted them his own,
They liſten'd ſo intent with fix'd Delight:
But they inſtead, as if tranſmew'd to Stone,
Marvel'd he could, with ſuch ſweet Art, unite
The Lights and Shades of Manners, Wrong and Right.
Mean time, the ſilly Croud the Charm devour,
Wide-preſſing to the Gate. Swift, on the Knight
He darted fierce, to drag him to his Bower,
Who backning ſhun'd his Touch, for well he knew its Power.
As in throng'd Amphitheatre, of old,
The wary Retiarius trap'd his Foe;
Even ſo the Knight, returning on him bold,
At once involv'd him in the Net of Woe,
Whereof I Mention made not long ago.
Inrag'd at firſt, he ſcorn'd ſo weak a Jail,
And leap'd, and flew, and flounced to and fro;
But when he found that nothing could avail,
He ſat him felly down and gnaw'd his bitter Nail.
Alarm'd, th' inferior Demons of the Place
Rais'd rueful Shrieks and hideous Yells around;
Black ruptur'd Clouds deform'd the Welkin's Face,
And from beneath was heard a wailing Sound,
As of Infernal Sprights in Cavern bound;
A ſolemn Sadneſs every Creature ſtrook,
And Lightnings flaſh'd, and Horror rock'd the Ground:
Huge Crouds on Crouds out-pour'd, with blemiſh'd Look,
As if on Time's laſt Verge this Frame of Things has ſhook.
Soon as the ſhort-liv'd Tempeſt was yſpent,
Steam'd from the Jaws of vext Avernus' Hole,
And huſh'd the Hubbub of the Rabblement,
Sir Industry the firſt calm Moment ſtole.
"There muſt, (he cry'd) amid ſo vaſt a Shoal,
"Be Some who are not tainted at the Heart,
"Not poiſon'd quite by this ſame Villain's Bowl:
"Come then, my Bard, thy heavenly Fire impart;
"Touch Soul with Soul, till forth the latent Spirit ſtart."
The Bard obey'd; and taking from his Side,
Where it in ſeemly Sort depending hung,
His British Harp, its ſpeaking Strings he try'd,
The which with ſkilful Touch he deffly ſtrung,
Till tinkling in clear Symphony they rung.
Then, as he felt the Muſes come along,
Light o'er the Chords his raptur'd Hand he flung,
And play'd a Prelude to his riſing Song:
The whilſt, like Midnight mute, then Thouſands round him throng.
Thus, ardent, burſt his Strain.
"Ye hapleſs Race,
"Dire-labouring here to ſmother Reaſon's Ray,
"That lights our Maker's Image in our Face,
"And gives us wide o'er Earth unqueſtion'd Sway;
"What is th' ador'd supreme Perfection, ſay?
"What, but eternal never-reſting Soul,
"Almighty Power, and all-directing Day;
"By whom each Atom ſtirs, the Planets roll;
"Who fills, ſurrounds, informs, and agitates the Whole?
"Come, to the beaming God your Hearts unfold!
"Draw from its Fountain Life! 'Tis thence, alone,
"We can excel. Up from unfeeling Mold,
"To Seraphs burning round th'Almighty's Throne,
"Life riſing ſtill on Life, in higher Tone,
"Perfection forms, and with Perfection Bliſs.
"In Univerſal Nature This clear ſhewn,
"Not needeth Proof: To prove it were, I wis,
"To prove the beauteous World excels the brute Abyſs.
"Is not the Field, with lively Culture green,
"A Sight more joyous than the dead Moraſs?
"Do not the Skies, with active Ether clean,
"And fan'd by ſprightly Zephirs, far ſurpaſs
"The foul November-Fogs, and ſlumbrous Maſs,
"With which ſad Nature veils her drooping Face?
"Does not the Mountain-Stream, as clear as Glaſs,
"Gay-dancing on, the putrid Pool diſgrace?
"The ſame in All holds true, but chief in Human Race.