Page images
PDF
EPUB

By the way-side, or stalking in the path,
Lean penfioners upon the traveller's track,
Pick up their nauseous dole, though sweet to them,
Of voided pulse or half digefted grain.
The ftreams are loft amid the splendid blank,
O'erwhelming all diftinction. On the flood,
Indurated and fixt, the snowy weight
Lies undiffolved; while filently beneath,
And unperceived, the current steals away.
Not so where, scornful of a check, it leaps
The mill-dam, dashes on the restless wheel,
And wantons in the pebbly gulph below :
No frost can bind it there; its utmost force
Can but arreft the light and smoky mist,
That in its fall the liquid Meet throws wide.
And fee where it has hung the embroidered banks
With forms so various, that no powers of art,
The pencil or the pen, may trace the scene!
Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high
(Fantastic misarrangement !) on the roof
Large growth of what may seem the sparkling trees
And Mrubs of fairy land. The crystal drops,
That trickle down the branches, faft congealed,
Shoot into pillars of pellucid length,
And prop the pile they but adorned before.
Here grotto within grotto safe defies

The sun-beam; there, embossed and fretted wild,
The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes
Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain
The likeness of some object seen before.
Thus nature works as if to mock at art,
And in defiance of her rival powers;
By these fortuitous and random strokes
Performing such inimitable feats,
As she with all her rules can never reach.
Less worthy of applause, though more admired,
Because a novelty, the work of man,
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ!
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak,
The wonder of the North. No foreft fell
When thou wouldst build; no quarry sent its ftores
To enrich thy walls: but thou didft hew the floods,
And make thy marble of the glaffy wave.
In such a palace Ariftæus found
Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale
Of his loft bees to her maternal ear:
In such a palace poetry might place
The armory of winter; where his troops,
The gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy feet,
Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail,
And snow, that often blinds the traveller's course,
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb.

Silently as a dream the fabric rose;
No found of hammer or of law was there :
Ice upon ice, the well-adjusted parts
Were foon conjoined, nor other cement asked
Than water interfused to make them one.
Lamps gracefully difpofed, and of all hues,
Illumined every side : a watery light
Gleamed through the clear transparency, that seemed
Another moon new risen, or meteor fallen
From heaven to earth, of lambent flame serene.
So ftood the brittle prudigy ; though I'mooth
And Nippery the materials, yet frost-bound
Firm as a rock. Nor wanted aught within,
That royal residence might well befit,
For grandeur or for use. Long wavy wreaths
Of flowers, that feared no enemy but warmth,
Blushed on the pannels. Mirror needed none
Where all was vitreous; but in order due
Convivial table and commodious seat
(What seemed at least commodious feat) were there;
Sofa, and couch, and high-built throne auguft.
The same lubricity was found in all,
And all was moist to the warm touch ; a scene
Of evanescent glory, once a stream,
And soon to slide into a stream again.
Alas! 'twas but a mortifying ftroke

Of undefigned severity, that glanced
(Made by a monarch) on her own estate,
On human grandeur and the courts of kings.
'Twas transient in its nature, as in show
'Twas durable; as worthless, as it seemed
Intrinsically precious; to the foot
'Treacherous and falfe; it smiled, and it was cold.

Great princes have great playthings. Some have played At hewing mountains into men, and some At building human wonders mountain-high. Some have amused the dull, fad years of life, (Life spenrin indolence, and therefore fad) With schemes of monumental fame; and sought By pyramids and mausolean pomp, Short-lived themselves, to immortalize their bones, Some seek diversion in the tented field, And make the sorrows of mankind their sport. But war's a game, which, were their fubjeéts wife, Kings would not play at. Nations would do well To extort their truncheons from the puny hands Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds Are gratified with mischief; and who spoil, Because men suffer it, their toy the world.

When Babel was confounded, and the great

Confederacy of projectors wild and vain
Was fplit into diversity of tongues,
Then, as a thepherd separates his flock,
These to the upland, to the valley those,
God drave asunder, and assigned their lot
To all the nations. Ample was the boon
He gave them, in its distribution fair
And equal, and he bade them well in peace.
Peace was awhile their care: they ploughed, and lowed,
And reaped their plenty without grudge or ftrife.
But violence can never longer sleep
Than human passions please. In every heart
Are sown the sparks, that kindle fiery war ;
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze.
Cain had already shed a brother's blood:
The deluge washed it out; but left unquenched
The seeds of murder in the breast of man.
Soon by a righteous judgment in the line
Of his defcending progeny was found
The first artificer of death; the shrewd
Contriver, who first sweated at the forge,
And forced the blunt and yet unbloodied steel
To a keen edge, and made it bright for war.
Him, Tubal named, the Vulcan of old times,
The sword and falchion their inventor claim;,

« PreviousContinue »