The Castle of Indolence/L

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    But far the greater Part, with Rage inflam'd,
    Dire-mutter'd Curſes, and blaſphem'd high Jove.
    "Ye Sons of Hate! (They bitterly exclaim'd)
    "What brought you to this Seat of Peace and Love?
    "While with kind Nature, here amid the Grove,
    "We paſs'd the harmleſs Sabbath of our Time,
    "What to diſturb it could, fell Men, emove
    "Your barbarous Hearts? Is Happineſs a Crime?
"Then do the Fiends of Hell rule in yon Heaven ſublime.


    "Ye impious Wretches! (quoth the Knight in Wrath)
    "Your Happineſs behold!"—Then ſtrait a Wand
    He wav'd, an anti-magic Power that hath,
    Truth from illuſive Falſhood to command.
    Sudden, the Landſkip ſinks on every Hand;
    The pure quick Streams are marſhy Puddles found;
    On baleful Heaths the Groves all blacken'd ſtand;
    And, o'er the weedy foul abhorred Ground,
Snakes, Adders, Toads, each loathly Creature crawls around.


    And here and there, on Trees by Lightning ſcath'd,
    Unhappy Wights who loathed Life yhung;
    Or, in freſh Gore and recent Murder bath'd,
    They weltering lay, or elſe, infuriate flung
    Into the gloomy Flood, while Ravens ſung
    The funeral Dirge, they down the Torrent rowl'd:
    Theſe, by diſtemper'd Blood to Madneſs ſtung,
    Had doom'd themſelves; whence oft, when Night controul'd
The World, returning hither their ſad Spirits howl'd.


    Meantime a moving Scene was open laid.
    That Lazar-Houſe, I whilom in my Lay
    Depeinten have, its Horrors deep-diſplay'd,
    And gave unnumber'd Wretches to the Day,
    Who toſſing there in ſqualid Miſery lay.
    Soon as of ſacred Light th' unwonted Smile
    Pour'd on theſe living Catacombs its Ray,
    Through the drear Caverns ſtretching many a Mile,
The Sick up-rais'd their Heads, and dropp'd their Woes awhile.


    "O Heaven! (they cry'd) and do we once more ſee
    "Yon bleſſed Sun, and this green Earth ſo fair?
    "Are we from noiſome Damps of Peſt-Houſe free?
    "And drink our Souls the ſweet ethereal Air?
    "O Thou! or Knight, or God! who holdeſt there
    "That Fiend, oh keep him in eternal Chains!
    "But what for us, the Children of Deſpair,
    "Brought to the Brink of Hell, what Hope remains?
"Repentance does itſelf but aggravate our Pains."


    The gentle Knight, who ſaw their rueful Caſe,
    Let fall adown his ſilver Beard ſome Tears.
    "Certes (quoth he) it is not even in Grace,
    "T' undo the Paſt, and eke your broken Years:
    "Nathleſs, to nobler World Repentance rears,
    "With humble Hope, her Eye; to Her is given
    "A Power the truly contrite Heart that chears;
    "She quells the brand by which the Rocks are riven;
"She more than mere ſoftens, ſhe rejoices Heaven.


    "Then patient bear the Suffering you have earn'd,
    "And by theſe Sufferings purify the Mind;
    "Let Wiſdom be by paſt Miſconduct learn'd:
    "Or pious die, with Penitence reſign'd;
    "And to a Life more happy and refin'd,
    "Doubt not, you ſhall, new Creatures, yet ariſe.
    "Till Then, you may expect in me to find
    "One who will wipe your Sorrow from your Eyes,
"One who will ſoothe your Pangs, and wing you to the Skies."


    They ſilent heard, and pour'd their Thanks in Tears.
    "For you (reſum'd the Knight with ſterner Tone)
    "Whoſe hard dry Hearts th' obdurate Demon ſears,
    "That Villain's Gifts will coſt you many a Groan;
    "In dolorous Manſion long you muſt bemoan
    "His fatal Charms, and weep your Stains away;
    "Till, ſoft and pure as Infant-Goodneſs grown,
    "You feel a perfect Change: then, who can ſay,
"What Grace may yet ſhine forth in Heaven's eternal Day?"


    This ſaid, his powerful Wand he wav'd anew:
    Inſtant, a glorious Angel-Train deſcends,
    The Charities, to-wit, of roſy Hue;
    Sweet Love their Looks a gentle Radiance lends,
    And with ſeraphic Flame Compaſſion blends.
    At once, delighted, to their Charge they fly:
    When lo! a goodly Hoſpital aſcends;
    In which they bade each human Aid be nigh,
That could the Sick-Bed ſmoothe of that unhappy Fry.


    It was a worthy edifying Sight,
    And gives to Human-Kind peculiar Grace,
    To ſee kind Hands attending Day and Night,
    With tender Miniſtry, from Place to Place.
    Some prop the Head; ſome, from the pallid Face,
    Wipe off the faint cold Dews weak Nature ſheds;
    Some reach the healing Draught; the whilſt, to chaſe
    The Fear ſupreme, around their ſoften'd Beds,
Some holy Man by Prayer all opening Heaven diſpreds.


    Attended by a glad acclaiming Train,
    Of thoſe he reſcu'd had from gaping Hell,
    Then turn'd the Knight; and, to his Hall again
    Soft-pacing, ſought of Peace the moſſy Cell:
    Yet down his Cheeks the Gems of Pity fell,
    To ſee the helpleſs Wretches that remain'd.
    There left through Delves and Deſerts dire to yell;
    Amaz'd, their Looks with pale Diſmay were ſtain'd,
And ſpreading wide their Hands they meek Repentance feign'd.


    But ah! their ſcorned Day of Grace was paſt:
    For (Horrible to tell!) a Deſert wild
    Before them ſtretch'd, bare, comfortleſs, and vaſt;
    With Gibbets, Bones, and Carcaſes defil'd.
    There nor trim Field, nor lively Culture ſmil'd;
    Nor waving Shade was ſeen, nor Fountain fair;
    But Sands abrupt on Sands lay looſely pil'd,
    Through which they floundering toil'd with painful Care,
Whilſt Phœbus ſmote them ſore, and fir'd the cloudleſs Air.


    Then, varying to a joyleſs Land of Bogs,
    The ſadden'd Country a grey Waſte appear'd;
    Where Nought but putrid Steams and noiſome Fogs
    For ever hung on drizzly Auſter's Beard;
    Or elſe the Ground by piercing Caurus ſear'd,
    Was jagg'd with Froſt, or heap'd with glazed Snow:
    Through theſe Extremes a ceaſeleſs Round they ſteer'd,
    By cruel Fiends ſtill hurry'd to and fro,
Gaunt Beggary, and Scorn, with many Hell-Hounds moe.


    The Firſt was with baſe dunghill Rags yclad,
    Tainting the Gale, in which they flutter'd light;
    Of morbid Hue his Features, ſunk, and ſad;
    His hollow Eyne ſhook forth a ſickly Light;
    And o'er his lank Jaw-Bone, in piteous Plight,
    His black rough Beard was matted rank and vile;
    Direful to ſee! an Heart-appalling Sight!
    Meantime foul Scurf and Blotches him defile;
And Dogs, where-e'er he went, ſtill barked all the While.


    The other was a fell deſpightful Fiend:
    Hell holds none worſe in baleful Bower below;
    By Pride, and Wit, and Rage, and Rancour, keen'd;
    Of Man alike, if good or bad, the Foe:
    With Noſe up-turn'd, he always made a Shew
    As if he ſmelt ſome nauſeous Scent; his Eye
    Was cold, and keen, like Blaſt from boreal Snow;
    And Taunts he caſten forth moſt bitterly.
Such were the Twain that off drove this ungodly Fry.


    Even ſo through Brentford Town, a Town of Mud,
    An Herd of briſly Swine is prick'd along;
    The filthy Beaſts, that never chew the Cud,[1]
    Still grunt, and ſqueak, and ſing their troublous Song,
    And oft they plunge themſelves the Mire among:
    But ay the ruthleſs Driver goads them on,
    And ay of barking Dogs the bitter Throng
    Makes them renew their unmelodious Moan;
Ne ever find they Reſt from their unreſting Fone.

F I N I S.


  1. This is an allusion to the Jewish dietary law, Kashrut. Reference to swine is specifically found in Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8.