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Of loss and gain, of famine and of store,
Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents seen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of Fortune, changes in the state,
The falls of favorites, projects of the great, 455
Of old mismanagements, taxations new :
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around,
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away ; 460
Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day:
Of good, or bad government,
Of fire, and of divers accident.
Ver. 458. Above, below, withouț, within, &c.]
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, &c.
Thus north and south
Went every tyding from 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.
Astrologers, that future fates foreshew,
Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party zealots, numerous bands
With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands; 465
Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place,
And wild impatience star'd in every
face. The flying rumors gather'd as they rollid, Scarce
any tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new, 470
And all who heard it made enlargements too,
In every ear it spread, on every tongue it grew.
Thus flying east and west, and north and south,
News travel'd with increase from mouth to mouth.
So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, 475
With gathering force the quickening flames ad-
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And towers and temples fink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
and fit to grace a mortal tongue, Through thousand vents, impatient, forth they
And rush in millions on the world below,'
Fame fits aloft, and points them out their course,
Their date determines, and prescribes their force :
Some to remain, and some to perish soon j
485 Or wane and wax alternate like the moon. Around, a thousand winged wonders fly, Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd through the lky,
There, at one passage, oft you might survey
A lie and truth contending for the way ;
And long 'twas doubtful, both fo closely pent,
Which first should issue through the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
the truth and lye;
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
495 And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
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, faid I, not void of hopes I came,
For who fo fond as youthful bards of Fame ?
But few, alas! the casual blessing boast,
So hard to gain, so easy to loft
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 ; 510
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Ver. 489. There, at one passage, &c.]
And sometime I saw there at once,
A leising and a sad footh faw
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, &c.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd-for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase cofts 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 bafis bear my rising name,
But the fall’n ruins of another's fame;
Then, teach me, heaven! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wietched luft of praise,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honest fame, or grant me none !
THERE livd in Lombardy, as Authors write, ,
In days of old, a wise and worthy Knight; Of gentle manners, as of generous race, Bleft with much sense, more riches, and some grace; Yet, led aftray by Venus' soft delights,
He scarce could rule fome 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 fixty 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 heavenly powers his constant prayer,
Once ere he dy'd, 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.) Q_2