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Spots against spots with rage improving glow;
Another pard his bristly whiskers curls,
Grins as he grins, fierce-menacing, and wide
Distends his opening paws; himself against
Himself opposed, and with dread vengeance arm'd.
The huntsman, now secure, with fatal aim
Directs the pointed spear, by which transfix'd
He dies, and with him dies the rival shade.
Thus man innumerous engines forms, t' assail
The savage kind; but most the docile horse,
Swift and confederate with man, annoys
His brethren of the plains; without whose aid
The hunter's arts are vain, unskill'd to wage
With the more active brutes an equal war.
But borne by him, without the well-train'd pack,
Man dares his foe, on wings of wind secure.
Him the fierce Arab mounts, and, with his troop
Of bold compeers, ranges the deserts wild;
Where, by the magnet's aid, the traveller
Steers his untrodden course; yet oft on land
Is wreck'd, in the high-rolling waves of sand
Immerst and lost. While these intrepid bands,
Safe in their horses' speed, outfly the storm, [prey,
And scouring round, make men and beasts their
The grisly boar is singled from his herd,
As large as that in Erimanthian woods,
A match for Hercules. Round him they fly
In circles wide; and each in passing sends
His feather'd death into his brawny sides.
But perilous th' attempt. For if the steed
Haply too near approach; or the loose earth
His footing fail, the watchful angry beast
Th' advantage spies; and at one sidelong glance
Rips up his groin. Wounded, he rears aloft,
And, plunging, from his back the rider hurls
Precipitant; then bleeding spurns the ground,
And drags his reeking entrails o'er the plain.
Meanwhile the surly monster trots along,
But with unequal speed; for still they wound,
Swift-wheeling in the spacious ring. A wood
Of darts upon his back he bears; adown
His tortur'd sides, the crimson torrents roll
From many a gaping font. And now at last
Staggering he falls, in blood and foam expires.
But whither roves my devious Muse, intent
On antique tales? while yet the royal stag
Unsung remains. Tread with respectful awe [bard,
Windsor's green glades; where Denham, tuneful
Charm'd once the listening Dryads, with his song
Sublimely sweet. O! grant me, sacred shade,
To glean submiss what thy full sickle leaves.
The morning Sun, that gilds with trembling rays
Windsor's high towers, beholds the courtly train
Mount for the chase, nor views in all his course
A scene so gay; heroic, noble youths,
In arts and arms renown'd, and lovely nymphs
The fairest of this isle, where Beauty dwells
Delighted, and deserts her Paphian grove
For our more favor'd shades: in proud parade
These shine magnificent, and press around
The royal happy pair. Great in themselves,
They smile superior; of external show
Regardless, while their inbred virtues give
A lustre to their power, and grace their court
With real splendors, far above the pomp
Of Eastern kings, in all their tinsel pride.
Like troops of Amazons, the female band
Prance round their cars, not in refulgent arms
As those of old; unskill'd to wield the sword,
Or bend the bow, these kill with surer aim.
The royal offspring, fairest of the fair,
Lead on the splendid train. Anna, more bright
Than summer suns, or as the lightning keen,
With irresistible effulgence arm'd,
Fires every heart. He must be more than man,
Who unconcern'd can bear the piercing ray.
Amelia, milder than the blushing dawn,
With sweet engaging air, but equal power,
Insensibly subdues, and in soft chains
Her willing captives leads. Illustrious maids,
Ever triumphant! whose victorious charms,
Without the needless aid of high descent,
Had aw'd mankind, and taught the world's great
To bow and sue for grace. But who is he
Fresh as a rose-bud newly blown, and fair
As opening lilies; on whom every eye
With joy and admiration dwells? See, see,
He reins his docile barb with manly grace.
Is it Adonis for the chase array'd?
Or Britain's second hope? Hail, blooming youth!
May all your virtues with your years improve,
Till in consummate worth, you shine the pride
Of these our days, and to succeeding times
A bright example. As his guard of mutes
On the great sultan wait, with eyes deject,
And fix'd on earth, no voice, no sound is heard
Within the wide serail, but all is hush'd,
And awful silence reigns; thus stand the pack
Mute and unmov'd, and cowering low to earth,
While pass the glittering court, and royal pair:
So disciplin'd those hounds, and so reserv'd,
Whose honor 'tis to glad the hearts of kings.
But soon the winding horn, and huntsman's voice,
Let loose the general chorus; far around
Joy spreads its wings, and the gay morning smiles
Unharbor'd now the royal stag forsakes
His wonted lair; he shakes his dappled sides,
And tosses high his beamy head; the copse
Beneath his antlers bends. What doubling shifts
He tries! not more the wily hare; in these
Would still persist, did not the full-mouth'd pack
With dreadful concert thunder in his rear.
The woods reply, the hunter's cheering shouts
Float through the glades, and the wide forest rings
How merrily they chant! their nostrils deep
Inhale the grateful steam.
Such is the cry,
And such the harmonious din, the soldier deems
The battle kindling, and the statesman grave
Forgets his weighty cares; each age, each sex,
In the wild transport joins; luxuriant joy,
And pleasure in excess, sparkling exult
On every brow, and revel unrestrain'd.
How happy art thou, man, when thou 'rt no more
Thyself! when all the pangs that grind thy soul,
In rapture and in sweet oblivion lost,
Yield a short interval and ease from pain!
See the swift courser strains, his shining hoofs
Securely beat the solid ground. Who now
The dangerous pitfall fears, with tangling heath
High-overgrown? or who the quivering bog
Soft-yielding to the step? All now is plain,
Plain as the strand sea-lav'd, that stretches far
Beneath the rocky shore. Glades crossing glades,
The forest opens to our wondering view:
Such was the king's command. Let tyrants fierce
Lay waste the world; his the more glorious part
To check their pride; and when the brazen voice
Of war is hush'd (as erst victorious Rome)
T employ his station'd legions in the work
Of peace; to smooth the rugged wilderness,
To drain the stagnate fen, to raise the slope
Depending road, and to make gay the face
Of Nature, with th' embellishments of Art.
How melts my beating heart! as I behold
Each lovely nymph, our island's boast and pride,
Push on the generous steed, that strokes along
O'er rough, o'er smooth, nor heeds the steepy hill,
Nor falters in th' extended vale below:
Their garments loosely waving in the wind,
And all the flush of beauty in their cheeks!
While at their sides their pensive lovers wait,
Direct their dubious course; now chill'd with fear
Solicitious, and now with love inflam'd.
O grant, indulgent Heaven, no rising storm
May darken with black wings this glorious scene!
Should some malignant power thus damp our joys,
Vain were the gloomy cave, such as of old
Betray'd to lawless love the Tyrian queen.
For Britain's virtuous nymphs are chaste as fair,
Spotless, unblam'd, with equal triumph reign
In the dun gloom, as in the blaze of day.
Now the blown stag, through woods, bogs, roads,
Has measur'd half the forest; but alas!
He flies in vain, he flies not from his fears.
Though far he cast the lingering pack behind,
His haggard fancy still with horror views
The fell destroyer; still the fatal cry
Insults his ears, and wounds his trembling heart.
So the poor fury-haunted wretch (his hands
In guiltless blood distain'd) still seems to hear
The dying shrieks; and the pale threatening ghost
Moves as he moves, and as he flies, pursues.
See here his slot; up yon green hill he climbs,
Pants on its brow awhile, sadly looks back
On his pursuers, covering all the plain;
But wrung with anguish, bears not long the sight,
Shoots down the steep, and sweats along the vale.
There mingles with the herd, where once he reign'd
Proud monarch of the groves, whose clashing beam
His rivals aw'd, and whose exalted power
Was still rewarded with successful love.
But the base herd have learn'd the ways of men,
Averse they fly, or with rebellious aim
Chase him from thence: needless their impious deed,
The huntsman knows him by a thousand marks,
Black, and imbost; nor are his hounds deceiv'd;
Too well distinguish these, and never leave
Their once devoted foe; familiar grows
His scent, and strong their appetite to kill.
Again he flies, and with redoubled speed
Skims o'er the lawn; still the tenacious crew
Hang on the track, aloud demand their prey,
And push him many a league. If haply then
Too far escap'd, and the gay courtly train
Behind are cast, the huntsman's clanging whip
Stops full their bold career; passive they stand,
Unmov'd, an humble, an obsequious crowd,
As if by stern Medusa gaz'd to stones.
So at their general's voice whole armies halt
In full pursuit, and check their thirst of blood.
Soon at the king's command, like hasty streams
Damm'd up awhile, they foam, and pour along
With fresh recruited might. The stag, who hop'd
His foes were lost, now once more hears astunn'd
The dreadful din; he shivers every limb,
He starts, he bounds, each bush presents a foe.
Press'd by the fresh relay, no pause allow'd,
Breathless, and faint, he falters in his pace,
And lifts his weary limbs with pain, that scarce
Sustain their load: he pants, he sobs appall'd!
Drops down his heavy head to earth, beneath
His cumbrous beams oppress'd. But if perchance
Some prying eye surprise him; soon he rears
Erect his towering front, bounds o'er the lawn
With ill-dissembled vigor, to amuse
The knowing forester; who inly smiles
At his weak shifts and unavailing frauds.
So midnight tapers waste their last remains,
Shine forth awhile, and as they blaze expire.
From wood to wood redoubling thunders roll,
And bellow through the vales; the moving storm
Thickens amain, and loud triumphant shouts,
And horns shrill-warbling in each glade, prelude
To his approaching fate. And now in view
With hobbling gait, and high, exerts amaz'd
What strength is left: to the last dregs of life
Reduc'd, his spirits fail, on every side
Hemm'd in, besieg'd; not the least opening left
To gleaming hope, th' unhappy's last reserve.
Where shall he turn? or whither fly? Despair
Gives courage to the weak. Resolv'd to die,
He fears no more, but rushes on his foes,
And deals his deaths around; beneath his feet
These grovelling lie, those by his antlers gor'd
Defile th' ensanguin'd plain. Ah! see distress'd
He stands at bay against yon knotty trunk,
That covers well his rear, his front presents
An host of foes. O! shun, ye noble train,
The rude encounter, and believe your lives
Your country's due alone. As now aloof
They wing around, he finds his soul uprais'd,
To dare some great exploit; he charges home
Upon the broken pack, that on each side
Fly diverse; then as o'er the turf he strains,
He vents the cooling stream, and up the breeze
Urges his course with equal violence :
Then takes the soil, and plunges in the flood
Precipitant; down the mid-stream he wafts
Along, till (like a ship distress'd, that runs
Into some winding creek) close to the verge
Of a small island, for his weary feet
Sure anchorage he finds, there skulks immers'd.
His nose alone above the wave draws in
The vital air; all else beneath the flood
Conceal'd, and lost, deceives each prying eye
Of man or brute. In vain the crowding pack
Draw on the margin of the stream, or cut
The liquid wave with oary feet, that move
In equal time. The gliding waters leave
No trace behind, and his contracted pores
But sparingly perspire: the huntsman strains
His laboring lungs, and puffs his cheeks in vain :
At length a blood-hound bold, studious to kill,
And exquisite of sense, winds him from far;
Headlong he leaps into the flood, his mouth
Loud opening spends amain, and his wide throat
Swells every note with joy; then fearless dives
Beneath the wave, hangs on his haunch, and wounds
Th' unhappy brute, that flounders in the stream
Sorely distress'd, and struggling strives to mount
The steepy shore. Haply once more escap'd,
Again he stands at bay, amid the groves
Of willows, bending low their downy heads.
Outrageous transport fires the greedy pack;
These swim the deep, and those crawl up with pain
The slippery bank, while others on firm land
Engage; the stag repels each bold assault,
Maintains his post, and wounds for wounds returns
As when some wily corsair boards a ship
Full-freighted, or from Afric's golden coasts,
Or India's wealthy strand, his bloody crew
Upon her deck he slings; these in the deep
Drop short, and swim to reach her steepy sides,
And clinging climb aloft; while those on board
Urge on the work of Fate; the master bold,
Press'd to his last retreat, bravely resolves
To sink his wealth beneath the whelming wave,
His wealth, his foes, nor unreveng'd to die.
So fares it with the stag: so he resolves
To plunge at once into the flood below,
Himself, his foes, in one deep gulf immers'd.
Ere yet he executes this dire intent,
In wild disorder once more views the light;
Beneath a weight of woe he groans distress'd,
The tears run trickling down his hairy cheeks;
He weeps, nor weeps in vain. The king beholds
His wretched plight, and tenderness innate
Moves his great soul. Soon at his high command
Rebuk'd, the disappointed, hungry pack
Retire submiss, and grumbling quit their prey.
Great Prince! from thee what may thy subjects
So kind, and so beneficent to brutes!
O Mercy, heavenly born! sweet attribute!
Thou great, thou best prerogative of power!
Justice may guard the throne, but, join'd with thee,
On rocks of adamant it stands secure,
And braves the storm beneath: soon as thy smiles
Gild the rough deep, the foaming waves subside,
And all the noisy tumult sinks in peace.
Should he not kill, as erst the Samian sage
Taught unadvis'd, and Indian brachmans now
As vainly preach; the teeming ravenous brutes
Might fill the scanty space of this terrene,
Encumbering all the globe: should not his care
Improve his growing stock, their kinds might fail;
Man might once more on roots and acorns feed,
And through the deserts range, shivering, forlorn,
Quite destitute of every solace dear,
And every smiling gaiety of life.
The prudent huntsman therefore will supply
With annual large recruits his broken pack,
And propagate their kind; as from the root
Fresh scions still spring forth and daily yield
New blooming honors to the parent-tree.
Far shall his pack be fam'd, far sought his breed
And princes at their tables feast those hounds
His hand presents, an acceptable boon.
Ere yet the Sun through the bright Ram has urg'd
His steepy course, or mother Earth unbound
Her frozen bosom to the Western gale;
When feather'd troops, their social leagues dissolv'd,
Select their mates, and on the leafless elm
The noisy rook builds high her wicker nest,
Mark well the wanton females of thy pack,
That curl their taper tales, and frisking court
Their piebald mates enamour'd; their red eyes
Flash fires impure; nor rest nor food they take,
Goaded by furious love. In separate cells
Confine them now, lest bloody civil wars
Annoy thy peaceful state. If left at large,
The growling rivals in dread battle join,
And rude encounter; on Scamander's streams
Heroes of old with far less fury fought
For the bright Spartan dame, their valor's prize.
Mangled and torn thy favorite hounds shall lie,
Stretch'd on the ground; thy kennel shall appear
A field of blood: like some unhappy town
In civil broils confus'd, while Discord shakes
Her bloody scourge aloft, fierce parties rage,
Staining their impious hands in mutual death;
And still the best belov'd, and bravest fall:
Such are the dire effects of lawless love.
Huntsman! these ills by timely prudent care
Of the necessity of destroying some beasts, and preserving others for the use of man. Of breeding of hounds; the season for this business. The choice of the dog, of great moment. Of the litter of whelps. Of the number to be reared. Of setting them out to their several walks. Care Prevent: for every longing dame select to be taken to prevent their hunting too soon. Some happy paramour; to him alone Of entering the whelps. Of breaking them from In leagues connubial join. Consider well running at sheep. Of the diseases of hounds. His lineage; what his fathers did of old, Of their age. Of madness; two sorts of it de- Chiefs of the pack, and first to climb the rock, scribed, the dumb and outrageous madness: its Or plunge into the deep, or thread the brake dreadful effects. Burning of the wound recom- With thorn sharp-pointed, plash'd, and briers inmended as preventing all ill consequences. The infectious hounds to be separated, and fed apart. Observe with care his shape, sort, color, size. The vanity of trusting to the many infallible Nor will sagacious huntsmen less regard cures for this malady. The dismal effects of the His inward habits: the vain babbler shun, biting of a mad dog, upon man, described. De- Ever loquacious, ever in the wrong. scription of the otter hunting. The conclusion. His foolish offspring shall offend thy ears With false alarms, and loud impertinence. Nor less the shifting cur avoid, that breaks Illusive from the pack; to the next hedge Devious he strays, there every muse he tries: If haply then he cross the steaming scent, Away he flies vain-glorious; and exults As of the pack supreme, and in his speed And strength unrivall❜d. Lo! cast far behind, His vex'd associates pant, and laboring strain To climb the steep ascent. Soon as they reach Th' insulting boaster, his false courage fails, Behind he lags, doom'd to the fatal noose, His master's hate, and soorn of all the field.
WHATE'ER of earth is form'd, to earth returns
Dissolv'd the various objects we behold,
Plants, animals, this whole material mass,
Are ever changing, ever new. The soul
Of man alone, that particle divine,
Escapes the wreck of worlds, when all things fail.
Hence great the distance 'twixt the beasts that perish,
And God's bright image, man's immortal race.
The brute creation are his property,
Subservient to his will, and for him made.
As hurtful these he kills, as useful those
Preserves; their sole and arbitrary king.
What can from such be hop'd, but a base brood
Of coward curs, a frantic, vagrant race?
When now the third revolving Moon appears, With sharpen'd horns, above th' horizon's brink, Without Lucina's aid, expect thy hopes
Are amply crown'd; short pangs produce to light The smoking litter; crawling, helpless, blind, Nature their guide, they seek the pouting teat That plenteous streams. Soon as the tender dam Has form'd them with her tongue, with pleasure view
The marks of their renown'd progenitors,
Sure pledge of triumphs yet to come.
Select with joy; but to the merciless flood
Expose the dwindling refuse, nor o'erload
Th' indulgent mother. If thy heart relent,
Unwilling to destroy, a nurse provide,
And to the foster-parent give the care
Of thy superfluous brood; she'll cherish kind
The alien offspring; pleas'd thou shalt behold
Her tenderness, and hospitable love.
If frolic now and playful they desert
Their gloomy cell, and on the verdant turf,
With nerves improv'd, pursue the mimic chase,
Coursing around; unto the choicest friends
Commit thy valued prize: the rustic dames
Shall at thy kennel wait, and in their laps
Receive thy growing hopes, with many a kiss
Caress, and dignify their little charge
With some great title, and resounding name
Of high import. But cautious here observe
To check their youthful ardor, nor permit
The unexperienc'd younker, immature,
Alone to range the woods, or haunt the brakes
Where dodging conies sport; his nerves unstrung,
And strength unequal; the laborious chase
Shall stint his growth, and his rash forward youth
Contract such vicious habits, as thy care
And late correction never shall reclaim.
When to full strength arriv'd, mature and bold, Conduct them to the field; not all at once, But as thy cooler prudence shall direct, Select a few, and form them by degrees To stricter discipline. With these consort The staunch and steady sages of thy pack, By long experience vers'd in all the wiles And subtle doublings of the various Chase. Easy the lesson of the youthful train When instinct prompts, and when example guides. If the too forward younker at the head Press boldly on in wanton sportive mood, Correct his haste, and let him feel abash'd The ruling whip. But if he stoop behind In wary modest guise, to his own nose Confiding sure; give him full scope to work His winding way, and with thy voice applaud His patience, and his care: soon shalt thou view The hopeful pupil leader of his tribe, And all the listening pack attend his call.
Oft lead them forth where wanton lambkins play, And bleating dams with jealous eyes observe Their tender care. If at the crowding flock He bay presumptuous, or with eager haste Pursue them scatter'd o'er the verdant plain, In the foul fact attach'd, to the strong ram Tie fast the rash offender. See! at first His horn'd companion, fearful and amaz'd, Shall drag him trembling o'er the rugged ground; Then, with his load fatigu'd, shall turn ahead, And with his curl'd hard front incessant peal
The panting wretch; till, breathless and astunn'd
Stretch'd on the turf he lie. Then spare not thou
The twining whip, but ply his bleeding sides
Lash after lash, and with thy threatening voice,
Harsh-echoing from the hills, inculcate loud
His vile offence. Sooner shall trembling doves
Escap'd the hawk's sharp talons, in mid air,
Assail their dangerous foe, than he once more
Disturb the peaceful flocks. In tender age
Thus youth is train'd; as curious artists bend
The taper pliant twig, or potters form
Their soft and ductile clay to various shapes.
Nor is 't enough to breed; but to preserve,
Must be the huntsman's care. The staunch old
Guides of thy pack, though but in number few,
Are yet of great account; shall oft untie
The Gordian knot, when reason at a stand
Puzzling is lost, and all thy art is vain.
O'er clogging fallows, o'er dry plaster'd roads,
O'er floated meads, o'er plains with flocks distain'd
Rank-scenting, these must lead the dubious,
As party-chiefs in senates who preside,
With pleaded reason and with well-turn'd speech,
Conduct the staring multitude; so these
Direct the pack, who with joint cry approve,
And loudly boast discoveries not their own.
Unnumber'd accidents, and various ills,
Attend thy pack, hang hovering o'er their heads,
And point the way that leads to Death's dark
Short is their span; few at the date arrive
Of ancient Argus, in old Homer's song
So highly honor'd: kind, sagacious brute!
Not ev'n Minerva's wisdom could conceal
Thy much-lov'd master from thy nicer sense.
Dying his lord he own'd, view'd him all o'er
With eager eyes, then clos'd those eyes, well pleas'd.
Of lesser ills the Muse declines to sing,
Nor stoops so low; of these each groom can tell
The proper remedy. But O! what care,
What prudence, can prevent madness, the worst
Of maladies? Terrific pest! that blasts
The huntsman's hopes, and desolation spreads
Through all th' unpeopled kennel unrestrain'd,
More fatal than th' envenom'd viper's bite;
Or that Apulian spider's poisonous sting,
Heal'd by the pleasing antidote of sounds.
When Sirius reigns, and the Sun's parching beams
Bake the dry gaping surface, visit thou
Each ev'n and morn, with quick observant eye,
Thy panting pack. If, in dark sullen mood,
The glouting hound refuse his wonted meal,
Retiring to some close, obscure retreat,
Gloomy, disconsolate; with speed remove
The poor infectious wretch, and in strong chains
Bind him suspected. Thus that dire disease
Which art can't cure, wise caution may prevent.
But, this neglected, soon expect a change, A dismal change, confusion, frenzy, death. Or in some dark recess the senseless brute Sits sadly pining; deep melancholy, And black despair, upon his clouded brow Hang lowering; from his half-opening jaws The clammy venom, and infectious froth, Distilling fall; and from his lungs inflam'd, Malignant vapors taint the ambient air, Breathing perdition; his dim eyes are glaz'd, He droops his pensive head, his trembling limbs No more support his weight; abject he lies,
Dumb, spiritless, benumb'd; till Death at last
Gracious attends, and kindly brings relief.
Or, if outrageous grown, behold, alas!
A yet more dreadful scene; his glaring eyes
Redden with fury, like some angry boar
Churning he foams; and on his back erect
His pointed bristles rise; his tail incurv'd
He drops, and with harsh broken howlings rends
The poison-tainted air; with rough hoarse voice
Incessant bays, and snuffs the infectious breeze;
This way and that he stares aghast, and starts
At his own shade: jealous, as if he deem'd
The world his foes. If haply towards the stream
He cast his roving eye, cold horror chills
His soul; averse he flies, trembling, appall'd.
Now frantic to the kennel's utmost verge
Raving he runs, and deals destruction round.
The pack fly diverse; for whate'er he meets
Vengeful he bites, and every bite is death.
If now perchance through the weak fence escap'd
Far up the wind he roves, with open mouth
Inhales the cooling breeze; nor man, nor beast,
He spares implacable. The hunter-horse,
Once kind associate of his sylvan toils,
(Who haply now without the kennel's mound
Crops the rank mead, and listening hears with joy
The cheering cry, that morn and eve salutes
His raptur'd sense,) a wretched victim falls.
Unhappy quadruped! no more, alas!
Shall thy fond master with his voice applaud
Thy gentleness, thy speed; or with
Stroke thy soft dappled sides, as he each day
Visits thy stall, well pleas'd; no more shalt thou
With sprightly neighings, to the winding horn,
And the loud opening pack in concert join'd,
Glad his proud heart. For oh! the secret wound
Rankling inflames, he bites the ground, and dies!
Hence to the village with pernicious haste
Baleful he bends his course: the village flies
Alarm'd; the tender mother in her arms
Hugs close the trembling babe; the doors are barr'd,
And flying curs, by native instinct taught,
Shun the contagious bane; the rustic bands
Hurry to arms, the rude militia seize
Whate'er at hand they find; clubs, forks, or guns,
From every quarter charge the furious foe,
In wild disorder, and uncouth array:
The wound; spare not thy flesh, nor dread th' event:
Vulcan shall save when Esculapius fails.
Here should the knowing Muse recount the means
To stop this growing plague. And here, alas!
Each hand presents a sovereign cure, and boasts
Infallibility, but boasts in vain.
On this depend, each to his separate seat
Confine, in fetters bound; give each his mess
Apart, his range in open air; and then
If deadly symptoms to thy grief appear,
Devote the wretch, and let him greatly fall,
A generous victim for the public weal.
Sing, philosophic Muse, the dire effects
Of this contagious bite on hapless man.
The rustic swains, by long tradition taught
Of leeches old, as soon as they perceive
The bite impress'd, to the sea-coasts repair.
Plung'd in the briny flood, th' unhappy youth
Now journeys home secure; but soon shall wish
The seas as yet had cover'd him beneath
The foaming surge, full many a fathom deep.
A fate more dismal, and superior ills,
Hang o'er his head devoted. When the Moon,
Closing her monthly round, returns again
To glad the night; or when full-orb'd she shines
High in the vault of Heaven; the lurking pest
Begins the dire assault. The poisonous foam
Through the deep wound instill'd with hostile rage,
And all its fiery particles saline,
Invades th' arterial fluid: whose red waves
Tempestuous heave, and their cohesion broke,
Fermenting boil; intestine war ensues,
And order to confusion turns embroil'd.
Now the distended vessels scarce contain
The wild uproar, but press each weaker part
Unable to resist: the tender brain
And stomach suffer most; convulsions shake
His trembling nerves, and wandering pungent pains
Pinch sore the sleepless wretch; his fluttering pulse
Oft intermits; pensive, and sad, he mourns
His cruel fate, and to his weeping friends
Laments in vain; to hasty anger prone,
Resents each slight offence, walks with quick step,
And wildly stares; at last with boundless sway
The tyrant frenzy reigns: for as the dog
(Whose fatal bite convey'd th' infectious bane)
Raving he foams, and howls, and barks, and bites;
Till, now with wounds on wounds oppress'd and Like agitations in his boiling blood
At one short poisonous gasp he breathes his last.
Hence to the kennel, Muse, return, and view
With heavy heart that hospital of woe;
Where Horror stalks at large! insatiate Death
Sits growling o'er his prey: each hour presents
A different scene of ruin and distress.
How busy art thou, Fate! and how severe
Thy pointed wrath! the dying and the dead
Promiscuous lie; o'er these the living fight
In one eternal broil; not conscious why
Nor yet with whom. So drunkards, in their cups,
Spare not their friends, while senseless squabble
Huntsman! it much behoves thee to avoid
The perilous debate! Ah! rouse up all
Thy vigilance, and tread the treacherous ground
With careful step. Thy fires unquench'd preserve,
As erst the vestal flames; the pointed steel
In the hot embers hide; and if surpris'd
Thou feel'st the deadly bite, quick urge it home
Into the recent sore, and cauterize
Present like species to his troubled mind;
His nature and his actions all canine.
So (as old Homer sung) th' associates wild
Of wandering Ithacus, by Circe's charms [groves,
To swine transform'd, ran grunting through the
Dreadful example to a wicked world!
See there distress'd he lies! parch'd up with thirst,
But dares not drink. Till now at last his soul
Trembling escapes, her noisome dungeon leaves,
And to some purer region wings away.
One labor yet remains, celestial Maid!
Another element demands thy song.
No more o'er craggy steep, through coverts thick
With pointed thorn, and briers intricate,
Urge on with horn and voice the painful pack:
But skim with wanton wing the irriguous vale,
Where winding streams amid the flowery meads
Perpetual glide along; and undermine
The cavern'd banks, by the tenacious roots
Of hoary willows arch'd; gloomy retreat
Of the bright scaly kind; where they at will
On the green watery reed their pasture graze,