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No luft enervates their heroick mind,
Nor waste their strength on wanton woman-kind,
But in their mouths refides their genial pow'rs,
They gather children from the leaves and flow'rs.
Thus make they kings to fill the regal feat:
And thus their little citizens create :
And waxen cities build, the palaces of state.
And oft on rocks their tender wings they tear,
And fink beneath the burdens which they bear,
Such rage of honey in their bofom beats :
And such a zeal they have for flow'ry sweets.
Thus thro' the race of life they quickly run; Which in the space of feven fhort years is done; Th' immortal line in fure fucceffion reigns, The fortune of the family remains And grandfires grandfons the long lift contains. Befides, not Egypt, India, Media more With fervile awe, their idol king adore : While he furvives, in concord and content The commons live, by no divifions rent; But the great monarch's death diffolves the government. All goes to ruin, they themselves contrive To rob the honey, and fubvert the hive. The king prefides, his fubjects toil furveys; The fervile rout their careful Cafar praise : Him they extol, they worship him alone. They crowd his levies, and fupport his throne: They raise him on their fhoulders with a fhout: And when their fov'reigns quarrel call 'em out, His foes to mortal combat they defy, And think it honour at his feet to die.
The comparison he has drawn between the labours of the bees and those of the Cyclops is truly poetical; and the defcription of the battle between the two fwarms at the beginning of this book is attended with as much noife, hurry and fury, as any engagement in the Æneid. The method of appeafing thefe warriors by throwing duft in the air is a circumftance beautiful in itself and finely introduced: And the speech of Proteus, and the inftructions given at the end of this fable for obtaining a new
ftock of Bees, with the defcription of their nature and generation, will be ever the fubject of admiration.
By the extracts and observations we have made, the reader will fee that the rules we have laid down to render this fort of poem delightful, are all to be found in Virgil; or rather, which indeed is the truth, he will perceive that we have drawn our rules from his great example. Virgil has omitted nothing that would contribute to make his precepts pleafing; and his fables, allegories, defcriptions, fimilies, reflections, remarks, digreffions, &c. feem all to fpring fpontaneously out of his fubject, and are so contrived that they naturally bring him to it again. Even the episode of Orpheus and Eurydice, tho' very long, is in the place Virgil has affign'd it, a beauty of the first magnitude, and is the more interefting for being pathetic.
We are now to speak of those poems which give precepts for the recreations and pleasures of a country life, and of thefe we have feveral in our own language that are justly admired. As the most confiderable of those diverfions, however, are finely treated by Mr. Gay in his Rural Sports, we shall draw fome examples from him; and firft of angling.
You must not ev'ry worm promifcuous ufe,
Judgment will tell the proper bait to chufe;
The worm that draws a long immodʼrate size
The trout abhors, and the rank morfel flies;
And if too small, the naked fraud's in fight,
And fear forbids, while hunger does invite.
Those baits will beft reward the fisher's pains,
Whofe polish'd tails a fhining yellow ftains:
Cleanfe them from filth, to give a tempting glofs,
Cherish the fully'd reptile race with mofs;
Amid the verdant bed they twine, they toil,
And from their bodies wipe their native foil.
But when the fun difplays his glorious beams,
And fhallow rivers flow with filver ftreams,
Then the deceit the fcaly breed furvey,
Bask in the fun, and look into the day.
You now a more delufive art must try,
And tempt their hunger with the curious fly.
To frame the little animal, provide
All the gay hues that wait on female pride,
Let nature guide thee; sometimes golden wire
The fhining bellies of the fly require ;
The peacock's plumes thy tackle muft not fail,
Nor the dear purchase of the fable's tail.
Each gaudy bird fome flender tribute brings,
And lends the growing infect proper wings :
Silks of all colours muft their aid impart,
And ev'ry far promote the fisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expenfive care,
Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air;
Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glitt'ring thing displays,
Dazles our eyes, and eafier hearts betrays.
Mark well the various feasons of the year,
How the fucceeding infect race appear;
In this revolving moon one colour reigns,
Which in the next the fickle trout difdains.
Oft have I feen a skilful angler try
The various colours of the treach'rous fly;
When he with fruitless pain hath skim'd the brook,
And the coy fish rejects the skipping hook,
He shakes the boughs that on the margin grow,
Which o'er the stream a waving forest throw;
When if an infect fall, (his certain guide)
He gently takes him from the whirling tide;
Examines well his form with curious eyes,
His gaudy veft, his wings, his horns and fize,
Then round his hook the chofen fur he winds,
And on the back a fpeckled feather binds,
So just the colours fhine through ev'ry part,
That nature seems to live again in art.
Let not thy wary step advance too near,
While all thy hope hangs on a fingle hair ;
The new-form'd infect on the water moves,
The speckled trout the curious fnare approves ;
Upon the curling furface let it glide,
With natural motion from thy hand fupply'd,
Against the stream now gently let it play,
Now in the rapid eddy roll away.
The fcaly fhoals float by, and feiz'd with fear
Behold their fellows toft in thinner air ;
But foon they leap, and catch the swimming bait,
Plunge on the hook, and share an equal fate.
When a brisk gale against the current blows,
And all the watry plain in wrinkles flows,
Then let the fisherman his art repeat,
Where bubbling eddies favour the deceit.
If an enormous falmon chance to spy
The wanton errors of the floating Ay,
He lifts his filver gills above the flood,
And greedily fucks in th' unfaithful food;
Then downward plunges with the fraudful prey,
And bears with joy the little fpoil away.
Soon in fmart pain he feels the dire mistake,
Lashes the wave and beats the foamy lake:
With fudden rage he now aloft appears,
And in his eye convulfive anguish bears;
And now again, impatient of the wound,
He rolls and wreaths his fhining body round;
Then headlong fhoots beneath the dashing tide,
The trembling fins the boiling wave divide.
Now hope exalts the fifher's beating heart,
Now he turns pale, and fears his dubious art;
He views the tumbling fish with longing eyes,
While the line ftretches with th' unwieldy prize;
Each motion humours with his fteady hands,
And one flight hair the mighty bulk commands:
"Till tir'd at laft, defpoil'd of all his ftrength,
The game athwart the stream unfolds his length.
He now, with pleasure, views the gafping prize
Gnash his fharp teeth, and roll his blood-fhot eyes;
Then draws him to the fhore with artful care,
And lifts his noftrils in the fickning air :
Upon the burden'd ftream he floating lies,
Stretching his quivering fins, and gasping dies.
What he has given us on the other rural diverfions is altogether as natural, and beautiful as the preceding..
Nor less the spaniel skilful to betray,
Rewards the fowler with the feather'd prey.
Soon as the labouring horse with swelling veins,
Hath fafely hous'd the farmer's doubtful gains,.
To fweet repaft th' unwary partridge flies,
With joy amid the fcatter'd harveft lies;
Wandring in plenty, danger he forgets,
Nor dreads the flav'ry of entangling nets.
The subtle dog fcours with fagacious nofe
Along the field, and fnuffs each breeze that blows;
Against the wind he takes his prudent way,
While the ftrong gale directs him to the prey;
Now the warm fcent affures the covey near,
He treads with caution, and he points with fear,
Then (left fome centry fowl the fraud defcry,
And bid his fellows from the danger fly)
Clofe to the ground in expectation lies,
Till in the fnare the flutt'ring covey rise.
Soon as the blufhing light begins to spread,
And glancing Phebus gilds the mountain's head,
His early flight th' ill fated partridge takes,
And quits the friendly fhelter of the brakes:
Or when the fun cafts a declining ray,
And drives his chariot down the western way,
Let your obfequious ranger fearch around,
Where yellow ftubble withers on the ground:
Nor will the roving spy direct in vain,
But numerous covies gratify the pain.
When the meredian fun contracts the fhade,
And frifking heifers feek the cooling glade,
Or when the country floats with fudden rains,
Or driving mifts deface the moiften'd plains,
In vain his toils th' unfkilful fowler tries,
While in thick woods the feeding partridge lies.
Nor must the sporting verfe the gun forbear, But what's the fowler's be the mufe's care. See how the well-taught pointer leads the way: The fcent grows warm ; he ftops; he fprings the prey; The flutt ring coveys from the fubble rife, And on swift wing divide the founding skies; The scattering lead purfues the certain fight. And death in thunder overtakes their flight. Cool breathes the morning air, and winter's hand Spreads wide her hoary mantle o'er the land; Now to the copfe thy leffer spaniel take, Teach him to range the ditch and force the brake