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Amidst the braidings of her flowing hair,
215 Her robe, her every part, her air, confess The power
of female skill exhausted in her dress. Fantastic madness of unthinking pride, To boast that wealth, which prudence strives to hide ! In Civil Wars such treasures to display,
220 And tempt a soldier with the hopes of prey ! Had Cæsar not been Cæsar, impions, bold, And ready to lay waste the world for gold, But just as all our frugal names of old; This wealth could Curius or Fabricius know, 225 Or ruder Cincinnatus from the plow, As Cæsar, they had seiz’d the mighty spoil, And to inrich their Tiber robb’d the Nile. Now, by a train of Naves, the various feast In mafly gold magnificent was plac'd : Whatever earth, or air, or seas afford, In vast profusion crowns the labouring board. For dainties, Ægypt every land explores, Nor spares those very gods her zeal adores. The Nile's sweet wave capacious crystals pour, 235 And gems of price the grapes delicious store ; No growth of Mareotis' marshy fields, But such as Meroë maturer yields;
Where the warm fun the racy juice refines,
Here Cæsar Pompey's poverty disdain'd, And learn'd to waste that world his arms had gain'd. He saw th' Ægyptian wealth with greedy eyes, And wilh'd some fair pretence to seize the prize. 250 Sated at length with the prodigious feast, Their weary appetites froin riot ceas'd; When Cæsar, curious of some new delight, In conversation sought to wear the night : Then gently thus addrest the good old priest, 255 Reclining decent in his linen vest. O wife Achoreus ! venerable seer! Whose age bespeaks thee heaven's peculiar care, Say from what origin thy nation sprung, What boundaries to Ægypt's land belong? 260 What are thy people's customs, and their modes, What rites they teach, what forms they give their gods? Each ancient sacred mystery explain, Which monumental sculptures yet retain. Divinity disdains to be confin'd,
265 Fain would be known, and reverenc'd by mankind. 'Tis faid, thy holy predeceffors thought Cecropian Plato worthy to be taught :
And sure the sages of your schools have known
285 This let me know, and all my toils shall cease, The fword be sheath'd, and earth be bleft with peace.
The warrior spoke; and thus the seer reply'd: Nor shalt thou, mighty Cæsar, be deny'd. Our fires forbad all, but themselves, to know, 290 And kept with care profaner laymen low : My soul, I own, more generously inclin’d, Would let in daylight to inform the blind. Nor would I truth in mysteries restrain, But make the gods, their power, and precepts, plain; 295 Would teach their miracles, would spread their praise, And well-taught minds to just devotion raise. Know then, to all those stars, by nature driven In opposition to revolving heaven, Some one peculiar influence was given.
The fun the seasons of the year supplies,
310 While every limpid spring, and falling fream, Submits to radiant Hermes' reigning beam. When in the Crab the humid ruler shines, And to the sultry Lion near inclines, There fix'd immediate o'er Nile's latent source,
315 He strikes the watery stores with ponderous force ; Nor can the flood bright Maia's son withstand, But heaves, like ocean at the moon's command; His waves ascend, obedient as the seas, And reach their destin'd height by just degrees.
320 Nor to its bank returns th' enormous tide, Till Libra's equal scales the days and nights divide. Antiquity, unknowing and deceiv'd, In dreams of Ethiopian snows believ'd: From hills they taught, how melting currents ran, 325 When the first swelling of the flood began. But, ah, how vain the thought! no Boreas there In icy bonds constrains the wintery year, But sultry southern winds eternal reign, And scorching suns the swarthy natives ftain. 330
Yet more, whatever flood the frost congeals,
345 And Cancer burns Syene's parching ground; Then, at the prayer of nations, comes the Nile, And kindly tempers up the mouldering soil. Nor from the plains the covering god retreats, Till the rude fervour of the skies abates ;
350 Till Phæbus into milder autumn fades, And Meroä projects her lengthening shades. Nor let inquiring scepticks ask the cause, 'Tis Jove's command, and these are Nature's laws.
Others of old, as vainly too, have thought By western winds the spreading deluge brought; While at fix'd times, for many a day, they last, Possess the skies, and drive a constant blast; Collected clouds united Zephyrs bring, And shed huge rains from many a dropping wing, To heave the flood, and swell th' abounding spring.