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Their wanton appetites not only feed
With delicates of leaves, and marshy weed,
But with thy fickle reap the rankest land,
And minifter the blade, with bounteous hand.
Nor be with harmful parfimony won
To follow what our homely fires have done
Who fill'd the pail with beeftings of the cow,
But all the udder to the calf allow.
If to the warlike fteed thy ftudies bend, Or for the prize in chariots to contend ; Near Pifa's flood the rapid wheels to guide, Or in Olympian groves aloft to ride,
The gen'rous labours of the courser first
Must be with fight of arms and founds of trumpets nurft,
Inur'd the groaning axle-tree to bear ;
And let him clashing whips in ftables hear.
Sooth him with praife, and make him understand
The loud applauses of his master's hand :
This from his weaning, let him well be taught ;
And then betimes in a foft fnaffle wrought:
Before his tender joints with nerves are knit ;
Untry'd in arms, and trembling at the bit;
But when to four full Springs his years advance,
Teach him to run the round, with pride to prance;
And (rightly manag'd) equal time to beat,.
To turn, to bound in measure, and curvet.
Let him, to this, with eafy pains be brought:
And feem to labour when he labours not.
Thus, form'd to fpeed he challenges the wind:
And leaves the Scythian arrow far behind :
He fcours along the field, with loofen'd reins;
And treads fo light, he fcarcely prints the plains,
Like Boreas in his race, when rushing forth,
He sweeps the skies, and clears the cloudy north :
The waving harvest bends beneath his blaft;
The forest shakes, the groves their honours caft;
He flies aloft, and with impetuous roar
Purfues the foaming furges to the fhore.
Thus o'er the Elean plains, thy well-breath'd horse
Impels the flying carr, and wins the course.
Or, bred to Belgian waggons, leads the way;
Untir'd at night, and chearful all the day.
When once he's broken, feed him full and high,
Indulge his growth, and his gaunt fides supply.
Before his training, keep him poor and low;
For his ftout ftomach with his food will grow;
The pamper'd colt will difcipline difdain,
Impatient of the lash, and restiff to the rein.
The description which he has given us of a war-horse is (excepting that contained in the book of Job) the most animated and beautiful that ever was drawn.
The fiery courfer, when he hears from far, The fprightly trumpets and the shouts of war, Pricks up his ears, and trembling with delight, Shifts place, and paws, and hopes the promis'd fight. On his right fhoulder his thick mane reclin'd, Ruffles at fpeed, and dances in the wind. His horny hoofs are jetty black, and round; His chine is double, starting with a bound He turns the turff, and shakes the solid ground. Fire from his eyes, clouds from his noftrils flow: He bears his rider headlong on the foe.
The defcription he has given us of the diftemper among the cattle, and the wonderful change it wrought in the difpofition of animals, by making those who were of contrary natures, and obnoxious to each other grow familiar and herd together, is very finely, and very affectingly expreffed; efpecially this part of it.
Lo! while he toils the galling yoke beneath,
Foaming black blood, the bullock finks in death:
The penfive hind the brother-steer relieves,
Who faithful for his loft companion grieves,
And the fix'd fhare amid the furrow leaves.
Mean time, nor graffy mead, nor lofty grove,
The mournful mate's afflicted mind can move :
Nor yet from rocks delicious ftreams that roll
As amber clear, can footh his forrowing foul;
His flanks flow loofe, his eyes grow dim and dead;
And low to earth he hangs his heavy head.
Ah! what avails his ceafelefs useful toil?
What boots it to have turn'd the ftubborn foil?
Yet ne'er choice maffie wines debauch'd his tafte,
Ne'er did he riot in the rich repast ;
His food is leafy browze, and nature's grafs,
His draught fresh rills, that thro' the meadows pass,
Or torrent rushing from the rocky steep;
Nor care difturbs his falutary fleep.
Then cars were drawn, while fail'd th'accuftom'd kine,
By ill-pair'd buffaloes, to Juno's fhrine.
And men with harrows toil'd to till the plain,
And with their nails dug in the golden grain;
The rattling waggon's galling yoke fuftain'd,
And up the rocky steep laborious strain'd.
The wily wolf, no more by hunger bold,
With fecret ftep explores the nightly fold.
Deers herd with hounds, and leave their fylvan feat,
And feek with man to find a safe retreat.
Thick on the shores, like fhip-wreck'd corses caft,
Appear the finny race of ocean vast;
Th' affrighted Phocae to the rivers haste.
His cave no more to shield the snake avails ;
Th'aftonish'd hydra dies erecting all his scales.
Ev'n their own fkies to birds unfaithful prove,
Headlong they fall, and leave their lives above.
Virgil lays down the rules of tillage and planting with wonderful art in his two.first books. He has, as the author of the effay on his Georgics obferves, a fort of ruftic majesty about him, and feems like a Roman dictator at the plough tail. The fecond book has indeed moft wit in it, and abounds with bolder metaphors than are found in any of the reft; for in this the poet attributes the paffions of human life to the vegetable creation. The third book, however, feems more laboured and fpirited, and the defcriptions, in particular, are more animated and lively; especially thofe of the murrain among the cattle, the Scythian winter, and the horse and chariot races. But he feems most delighted with the fubject of his fourth book, where he is got among the bees. In this Georgic he points out the fituation moft proper for bees; tells us when they begin to gather honey, directs how to call them home when they fwarm, and how to part them
when they are engaged in battle. He then fpeaks of their different kinds; and, after a beautiful excurfion, returns again to the hive, gives us an account of their political adminiftration of affairs, and of the several difeases, that often rage among them, with the symptoms that attend each disease, and prescriptions for its cure. He then lays down a method for raifing a new stock, when the whole breed is loft, and concludes with the history of its invention, which is fabulous and extravagant enough, but at the fame time very poetical and pleafing. The nature and government of the bees he thus beautifully describes.
Describe we next the nature of the bees,
Beftow'd by Jove for fecret fervices :
When by the tinkling found of timbrels led,
The king of heav'n in Cretan caves they fled,
Of all the race of animals, alone
The bees have common cities of their own,
And common fons, beneath one law they live,
And with one common stock their traffic drive.
Each has a certain home, a sevʼral stall :
All is the ftate's, the state provides for all.
Mindful of coming cold, they share the pain:
And hoard for winter's ufe, the fummer's gain.
Some o'er the public magazines prefide,
And fome are fent new forage to provide :
These drudge in fields abroad, and those at home
Lay deep foundations for the labour'd comb,
With dew, Narciffus leaves, and clammy gum
To pitch the waxen flooring some contrive;
Some nurse the future nation of the hive:
Sweet honey fome condenfe, fome purge the grout;
The reft, in cells a-part, the liquid nectar fhut.
All, with united force, combine to drive
The lazy drones from the laborious hive.
With envy tung, they view each other's deeds:
With diligence the fragrant work proceeds.
As when the Cyclops, at th' almighty nod,
New thunder haften for their angry God :
Subdu'd in fire the ftubborn metal lies,
One brawny fmith the puffing bellows plies;
And draws and blows reciprocating air:
Others to quench the hiffing mafs prepare:
With lifted arms they order ev'ry blow,
And chime their founding hammers in a row;
With labour'd anvils Ætna groans below.
Strongly they strike, huge flakes of flames expire,
With tongs they turn the fteel, and vex it in the fire.
If little things with great we may compare,
Such are the bees, and fuch their busy care:
Studious of honey, each in his degree,
The youthful fwain, the grave experienc'd bee:
That in the field; this in affairs of ftate,
Employ'd at home, abides within the gate;
To fortify the combs, to build the wall,
prop the ruins, left the fabric fall:
But late at night, with weary pinions come
The lab'ring youth, and heavy laden home.
Plains, meads, and orchards all the day he plies;
The gleans of yellow thyme diftend his thighs :
He fpoils the faffron flow'rs, he fips the blues
Of vi'lets, wilding blooms, and willow dews.
Their toil is common, common is their sleep;
They shake their wings when morn begins to peep;
Rush thro' the city gates without delay:
Nor ends their work, but with declining day:
Then having spent the laft remains of light,
They give their bodies due repose at night;
When hollow murmurs of their ev'ning bells,
Difmifs the fleepy fwains, and toll 'em to their cells.
When once in beds their weary limbs they steep,
No buzzing founds difturb their golden fleep,
Tis facred filence all. Nor dare they stray,
When rain is promis'd, or a ftormy day:
But near the city walls their wat❜ring take,
Nor forage far, but fhort excurfions make.
And as when empty barks on billows float,
With fandy ballast failors trim the boat;
So bees bear gravel stones, whose poifing weight
Steers thro' the whiftling winds their steady flight.
But what's more ftrange, their modest appetites, Averse from Venus fly the nuptial rites.