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Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien: · Great idol of mankind! we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame! But safe in deserts from the applause of men, Would die unheard of, as we lived unseen; 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness which themselves requite. O let us still the secret joy partake, To follow virtue e'en for virtue's sake.'
• And live there men who slight immortal Fame? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But, mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride To blaze those virtues which the good would hide. Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath, These must not sleep in darkness and in death.' She said: in air the trembling music floats, And on the winds triumphant swell the notes; So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear, E’en listening angels lean’d from Heaven to hear: To furthest shores the' ambrosial spirit flies, Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Nextthese a youthful train their vows express'd, With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery
dress'd : · Hither (they cried) direct your eyes and see The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry; Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays ; Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days; Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care To pay
due visits and address the fair: In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid ; Of unknown duchesses lewd tales we tell, Yet, would the world believe us, all were well ;
The joy let others have, and we the name,
The queen assents: the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a lady's honour dies. (press'd
Pleased with the strange success, vast numbers Around the shrine, and made the same request: • What, you, (she cried) unlearn'd in arts to please, Slaves to yourselves, and e'en fatigued with ease, Who lose a length of undeserving days, Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise? To just contempt, ye vain pretenders ! fall, The people's fable, and the scorn of all.' Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound, Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round, Whispers are beard, with taunts reviling loud, And scorntul hisses run through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done, Enslave a country, or usurp a throne; Or who their glory's dive foundation laid On sovereigns ruin'd,
or on friends betray'd ; Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix, Of crooked counsels and dark politics; Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne, And beg to make the’immortal treasons known. The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire, With sparks that seem'd to set the world on fire. At the dread sound pale mortals stood aghast, And startled Nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen,some power unknown Straight changed the scene,and snatch'd me fromthe Before my view appear'd a structure fair, [throne. Its site uncertain, if in earth or air; With rapid motion turn’d the mansion round; With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound:
Not less in number were the spacious doors
There various news I heard of love and strife,
every ear it
Above, below, without, within, around, Confused, unnumber'd multitudes are found, Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away, Hosts raised by fear, and phantoms of a day: Astrologers, that future fates foreshow, Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few; And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands, With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands ; Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place, And wild impatience stared in every face. The flying rumours gather'd as they rolld, Scarce
tale was sooner heard than told ; And all who told it added something new, And all who heard it made enlargements too; In
spread, on every tongue it grew. Thus flying east and west, and north and south, Ne travell’d with increase from mouth to mouth. So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, With gathering force the quickening flames ad
vance; Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire, And towers and temples sink in tloods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung, Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow, And rush in millions on the world below: Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course, Their date determines, and prescribes their force; Some to remain, and some to perish soon, Or wane and wax alternate like the moon. Around a thousand winged wonders fly, (the sky. Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through There, at one passage, oft you might survey A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
« 'Tis true, (said I) not void of hopes I came, For who so fond as youthful bards of fame? But few, alas! the casual blessing boast, So hard to gain, so easy to be lost. How vain that second life in others' breath, The' estate which wits inherit after death! Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign, (Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine !) The great man's curse, without the gains, endure, Be envied, wretched; and be flatter'd, poor; All luckless wits their enemies professid, And all successful, jealous friends at best. Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call; She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all. But if the purchase costs so dear a price, As soothing folly, or exalting vice; Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway, And follow still where Fortune leads the way; Or if no basis bear my rising name, But the fallen ruins of another's fame; Then teach me, Heaven! to scorn the guilty bays, Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise; Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown: Oh, grant an honest fame, or grant me none !