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Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And tow'rs and temples sink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
Thro' 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,
Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd thro' the sky.
There, at one passage, oft you might survey
A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which first should issue thro' the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
Inseparable now, the truth and lie;'
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear1,
One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear:
What could thus high thy rash ambition raise?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise?
'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,
Th' 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 envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
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 fall'n ruin of another's fame;
Then teach me, heav'n! 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!
While thus I stood, &c.] The hint is taken from a passage in another part of the third book, but here more naturally made the conclusion, with the addition of a Moral to the whole. In
Chaucer he only answers "he came to see the place;" and the book ends abruptly, with his being surprized at the sight of a Man of great Authority, and awaking in a fright. P.
'It stood upon so high a rock,
Higher standeth none in Spayne-
What manner stone this rock was,
For it was like a lymed glass,
But that it shone full more clere;
But of what congeled matere
It was, I niste redily;
But at the last espied I,
And found that it was every dele,
A rock of ise, and not of stele.'
Ver. 31. Inscriptions here, etc.]
'Tho saw I all the hill y-grave
With famous folkes names fele,
That had been in much wele
And her fames wide y-blow;
But well unneth might I know,
Any letters for to rede
Ther names by, for out of drede
They weren almost off-thawen so,
That of the letters one or two
Were molte away of every name,
So unfamous was woxe her fame;
But men said, what may ever last.' P.
Ver. 41. Nor was the work impair'd, etc.]
'Tho gan I in myne harte cast,
That they were molte away for heate,
And not away with stormes beate.'
Ver. 45. Yet part no injuries, etc.].
'For on that other side I sey
Of that hill which northward ley,
How it was written full of names
Of folke, that had afore great fames,
Of old time, and yet they were
As fresh as men had written hem there
The self day, or that houre
That I on hem gan to poure:
But well I wiste what it made;
It was conserved with the shade
(All the writing that I sye)
Of the castle that stoode on high,
And stood eke in so cold a place,
That heate might it not deface.' P.
The wall in lustre, etc.] 'It shone lighter than a glass, And made well more than it was, As kind thing of Fame is.' Ver. 179. Six pompous columns, etc.] 'From the dees many a pillere,
Of metal that shone not full clere, etc.
Upon a pillere saw I stonde
That was of lede and iron fine,
Him of the sect Saturnine,
The Ebraicke Josephus the old, etc.
Upon an iron piller strong,
That painted was all endlong,
With tygers blood in every place,
The Tholosan that hight Stace,
That bare of Thebes up the name, etc.' P. Ver. 182]
'Full wonder hye on a pillere
Of iron, he the great Omer,
And with him Dares and Titus, etc.' P.
'There saw I stand on a pillere
That was of tinned iron cleere,
The Latin Poet Virgyle,
That hath bore up of a great while
The fame of pius Eneas:
And next him on a pillere was
Of copper, Venus clerke Ovide,
That hath sowen wondrous wide
The great God of Love's fame-
Tho saw I on a pillere by
Of iron wrought full sternly,
The great Poet Dan Lucan,
That on his shoulders bore up then
As hye as that I might see,
The fame of Julius and Pompee.
And next him on a pillere stode
Of sulphur, like as he were wode,
Dan Claudian, sothe for to tell,
That bare up all the fame of hell, etc,' P. Ver. 224. Pleas'd with Alcaus' manly rage t' infuse The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.] This expresses the mix'd character of the odes of Horace: the second of these verses alludes to that line of his,
'Spiritum Graiæ tenuem camœnæ.'
As another which follows, to
'Exegi monumentum ære perennius.' The action of the Doves hints at a passage in the fourth ode of his third book,
'Me fabulosæ Vulture in Appulo
Altricis extra limen Apuliæ,
Ludo fatigatumque somno,
Fronde nova puerum palumbes
Texêre; mirum quod foret omnibus-
Ut tuto ab atris corpore viperis
Dormirem et ursis; ut premerer sacro
Lauroque collataque myrto,
Non sine Diis animosus infans.'
Which may be thus englished:
'While yet a child, I chanc'd to stray,
And in a desert sleeping lay;
The savage race withdrew, nor dar'd
To touch the Muses future bard;
But Cytherea's gentle dove
Myrtles and Bays around me spread,
And crown'd your infant Poet's head,
Sacred to Music and to Love. P.
Ver. 259. Scarce seem'd her stature, etc.]
'Methought that she was so lite,
That the length of a cubite
Was longer than she seemed be;
But thus soone in a while she,
Her selfe tho wonderly straight,
That with her feet she the earth reight,
And with head she touchyd heaven-' P.
Ver. 270. Beneath, in order rang'd, etc.]
'I heard about her throne y-sung
That all the palays walls rung,
So sung the mighty Muse, she
That cleped is Calliope,
And her seven sisters eke-' P.
Ver. 276. Around these wonders, etc.]
'I heard a noise approchen blive,
That far'd as bees done in a hive,
Against her time of out flying;
Right such a manere murmuring,
For all the world it seemed me.
Tho gan I look about and see
That there came entring into th' hall,
A right great company withal;
And that of sundry regions,
Of all kind of conditions,-etc.' P. Ver. 294. Some she disgrac'd, etc.] 'And some of them she granted sone, And some she warned well and fair, And some she granted the contrairRight as her sister dame Fortune Is wont to serve in commune.' P. Ver. 318. the good and just, etc.] 'Tho came the third companye, And gan up to the dees to hye, And down on knees they fell anone, And saiden: We ben everichone Folke that han full truely Deserved Fame right-fully, And prayen you it might be knowe Right as it is, and forth blowe.
I grant, quoth she, for now me list
That your good works shall be wist.
And yet ye shall have better loos,
Right in despite of all your foos,
Than worthy is, and that anone.
Let now (quoth she) thy trump gone-
And certes all the breath that went
Out of his trump's mouth smel'd
As men a pot of baume held
Among a basket full of roses-' P.
Ver. 328, 338. ...behold another croud, etc.-
From the black trumpet's rusty, etc.]
'Therewithal there came anone
Another huge companye,
Of good folke
What did this Eolus, but he
Tooke out his trump of brass,
That fouler than the devil was:
And gan this trump for to blowe,
As all the world should overthrowe.
Throughout every regione
Went this foul trumpet's soune,
Swift as a pellet out of a gunne,
When fire is in the powder runne.
And such a smoke gan out wende,
Out of the foul trumpet's ende-etc.' P.
Ver. 356. Then came the smallest, etc.]
'I saw anone the fifth route,
That to this lady gan loute,
And downe on knees anone to fall,
And to her they besoughten all,
To hiden their good works eke?
And said, they yeve not a leke
For no fame ne such renowne;
For they for contemplacyoune,
And Goddes love had it wrought,
Ne of fame would they ought.
What, quoth she, and be ye wood?
And ween ye for to do good,
And for to have it of no fame?
Have ye despite to have my name?
Nay ye shall lien everichone:
Blowe thy trump, and that anone
(Quoth she) thou Eolus, I hote,
And ring these folkes workes by rote,
That all the world may of it heare;
And he gan blow their loos so cleare,
In his golden clarioune,
Through the World went the soune,
All so kindly, and eke so soft,
That their fame was blown aloft.' P.
Ver. 378. Next these a youthful train, etc.] The Reader might compare these twenty-eight lines following, which contain the same matter, with eighty-four of Chaucer, beginning thus:
'Tho came the sixth companye,
And gan faste to Fame cry, etc.' being too prolix to be here inserted. P.
Ver. 406. Last, those who boast of mighty, etc.]
'Tho came another companye,
That had y-done the treachery, etc.' P. Ver. 418. This having heard and seen, etc.] The Scene here changes from the temple of Fame to that of Rumour, which is almost entirely Chaucer's. The particulars follow.
Tho saw I stonde in a valey,
Under the castle fast by
A house, that Domus Dedali
That Labyrinthus cleped is,
Nas made so wonderly, I wis,
Ne half so queintly y-wrought;
And evermo as swift as thought,
This queint house about went,
That never more it still stent-
And eke this house hath of entrees
As many as leaves are on trees,
In summer, when they ben grene;
And in the roof yet men may sene
A thousand hoels and well mo,
To letten the soune out go;
And by day in every tide
Ben all the doors open wide,
And by night each one unshet;
No porter is there one to let,
No manner tydings in to pace:
Ne never rest is in that place.' P.
Ver. 428. As flames by nature to the, etc.] This thought is transferred hither out of the third book of Fame, where it takes up no less than one hundred and twenty verses, beginning thus,
'Geffray, thou wottest well this, etc.' P.
Ver. 448. There various news I heard, etc.]
'Of werres, of peace, of marriages,
Of rest, of labour, of voyages,
Of abode, of dethe, and of life,
Of love and hate, accord and strife,
Of loss, of lore, and of winnings,
Of hele, of sickness, and lessings,
Of divers transmutations
Of estates and eke of regions,
Of truste, of drede, of jealousy,
Of wit, of winning, and of folly,
Of good, or bad government,
Of fire, and of divers accident.' P.
Ver. 458. Above, below, without, within,
'But such a grete Congregation
Of folke as I saw roame about,
Some within, and some without,
Was never seen, ne shall be eft-
And every wight that I saw there
Rowned everich in others ear
A new tyding privily,
Or else he told it openly
Right thus, and said, Knowst not thou
That is betide to night now?
No, quoth he, tell me what?
And then he told him this and that, etc.]
Thus north and south
Went every tyding fro mouth to mouth,
And that encreasing evermo,
As fire is wont to quicken and go
From a sparkle sprong amiss,
Till all the citee brent up is.' P.
Ver. 489. There, at one passage, etc.]
'And sometime I saw there at once,
A lesing and a sad sooth saw
That gonnen at adventure draw
Out of a window forth to pace-
And no man, be he ever so wrothe,
Shall have one of these two, but bothe, etc.'
THIS Translation was done at sixteen or seventeen years of Age. P. [It appeared, with the Pastorals, in Tonson's Miscellany in 1709. Tyrwhitt doubts whether the source of the story, although its scene is laid in Italy, is Italian; and traces the adventure of the Pear-tree to Adolphus' Latin Fables (1315). The machinery of the Fairies, he thinks, was probably added by Chaucer himself. It is not impossible that it may have suggested that of the Sylphs in the Rape of the Lock.]
HERE liv'd in Lombardy, as authors write,
In days of old, a wise and worthy knight;
Of gentle manners, as of gen'rous race,
Blest with much sense, more riches, and some grace.
Yet led astray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule some idle appetites:
For long ago, let Priests say what they cou'd,
Weak sinful laymen were but flesh and blood.
But in due time, when sixty years were o'er,
He vow'd to lead this vicious life no more;
Whether pure holiness inspir'd his mind,
Or dotage turn'd his brain, is hard to find;
But his high courage prick'd him forth to wed,
And try the pleasures of a lawful bed.
This was his nightly dream, his daily care,
And to the heav'nly pow'rs his constant pray'r,
Once, ere he died, to taste the blissful life
Of a kind husband, and a loving wife.
These thoughts he fortify'd with reasons still,
(For none want reasons to confirm their will.)
Grave authors say, and witty poets sing,
That honest wedlock is a glorious thing:
But depth of judgment most in him appears,
Who wisely weds in his maturer years.
Then let him choose a damsel young and fair,
To bless his age, and bring a worthy heir;
To sooth his cares, and, free from noise and strife,
Conduct him gently to the verge of life.
Let sinful batchelors their woes deplore,
Full well they merit all they feel, and more:
Unaw'd by precepts, human or divine,
Like birds and beasts, promiscuously they join: