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As to the fea returning rivers roll,
And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole ;
Hither, as to their proper place, arife
All various founds from earth, and feas, and fkies,
Or fpoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear;
Nor ever filence, reft, or peace is here.
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes
The finking stone at first a circle makes;
The trembling furface by the motion stir'd,
Spreads in a fecond circle, then a third;.
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance, 440
Fill all the watʼry plain, and to the margin dance:
Thus ev'ry voice and found, when first they break,
On neighb'ring air a foft impreffion make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above;
Thro' undulating air the founds are sent,
And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and ftrife,
Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life,
VER. 448. There various news I heard etc.]
Of werres, of peace, of marriages,
Of reft, of labour, of voyages,
Of abode, of dethe, and of life,
Of love and hate, accord and ftrife,
Of lofs, of lore, and of winnings,
Of hele, of fickness, and leffings,
Of lofs and gain, of famine and of store,
Of ftorms at fea, 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 ftate,
The falls of fav'rites, projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new:
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around,
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
Of divers tranfmutations
Of estates and eke of regions,
Of truft, of drede, of jealoufy,
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, etc.]
But fuch a grete Congregation
Of folke as I faw roame about,
Some within, and some without,
Was never feen, ne shall be eft
And every wight that I faw there
Rowned everich in others ear
A new tyding privily,
Or elfe he told it openly
Right thus, and faid, Knowft not thou
That is betide to night now?
No, quoth he, tell me what?
And then he told him this ynd that, etc,
Thus north and fouth
Went every tiding fro mouth to mouth,
And that encreafing evermo,
As fire is wont to quicken and go
From a fparkle fprong amifs,
Till all the citee brent up is. P.
Who pafs, repafs, advance, and glide away;
Hofts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day:
Aftrologers, that future fates foreshew,
Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party-zealots, num'rous bands
With home-born lyes, or tales from foreign lands;
Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place,
And wild impatience star'd in ev'ry face.
The flying rumours gather'd as they roll'd,
Scarce any tale was fooner heard than told;
And all who told it added fomething new,
And all who heard it, made enlargements too,
In ev'ry ear it spread, on ev'ry tongue it grew.
Thus flying eaft and weft, and north and south,
News travel'd with increase from mouth to mouth.
So from a spark, that kindled first by chance, 475
With gath'ring force the quick'ning flames advance;
Till to the clouds their curling heads afpire,
And tow'rs and temples fink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lyes are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue, 480
Thro' thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow,
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 fome to perish foon;
Or wane and wax alternate like the moon.
Around, a thoufand winged wonders fly,
Born by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd thro' the sky.
There, at one paffage, oft you might furvey
A lye and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which firft fhould iffue thro' the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
Infeparable now, the truth and lye;
The ftrict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er fhall find.
While thus I ftood, intent to fee 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?..
VER. 497. While thus I food, etc.] The hint is taken from a paffage in another part of the third book, but here more naturally made the conclufion, with the addition of a Moral to the whole. In Chaucer he only answers" he came to fee the place;" and the book ends abruptly, with his being furprized at the fight of a Man of great Authority, and awaking in a fright. P.
VER. 489. There, at one paffage, etc.]
And fometime I faw there at once,
A lefing and a fad 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, etc. P.
But few, alas! the cafual bleffing boast,
So hard to gain, so eafy to be loft.
How vain that fecond life in others breath,
Th'eftate which wits inherit after death !
Eafe, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unfure the tenure, but how vast the fine !)
The great man's curfe, without the gains, endure,
Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profeft,
And all fuccefsful, jealous friends at beft.
Nor Fame I flight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd for, if fhe comes at all.
But if the purchase costs fo dear a price,
As foothing Folly, or exalting Vice:
Oh! if the Mufe muft flatter lawless fway,
And follow ftill where fortune leads the way;
Or if no bafis bear my rifing name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then teach me, heav'n! to fcorn the guilty bays, i
Drive from my breast that wretched luft of praife,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honest fame, or grant me none !