« EelmineJätka »
Of lofs and gain, of famine and of store,
Of ftorms at fea, and travels on the fhore,
Of prodigies, and portents feen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of Fortune, changes in the state,
The falls of fav'rites, projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new:
All neither wholly falfe, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around,
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
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 divers tranfmutations
Of eftates 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 fome 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 elfe he told it openly
Who pass, 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 lies, 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 west, and north and fouth,
News travel'd with increafe from mouth to mouth.
So from a fpark, that kindled first by chance,
With gath'ring force the quick'ning flames advance;
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And tow'rs and temples fink in floods of fire.
Right thus, and said, Knowft not thou
That is betide to night now?
No, quoth he, tell me what?
And then he told him this and 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.
When thus ripe lyes are to perfection fprung,
Full grown and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
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 some to perish soon;
Or wane and wax alternate like the moon.
Around, a thousand winged wonders fly,
Born by the trumpet's blaft, and scatter'd thro' the fky. There, at one paffage, oft you might survey
A lye and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which firft should iffue thro' the narrow vent:
At laft 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:
VER. 497. While thus I ftood, 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 anfwers " he came to fee the place;" and
VER. 489. There, at one paffage, etc.]
And fometime I faw there at once,
What could thus high thy rash ambition raise ?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise ?
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 be loft.
How vain that fecond life in others breath,
Th' eftate which wits inherit after death!
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unfure the tenure, but how vaft 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 fuccessful, jealous friends at beft.
Nor Fame I flight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd for, if she 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;
the book ends abruptly, with his being furprized at the fight of a Man of great Authority, and awaking in a fright. P.
A lefing and a fad footh faw
That gonnen at adventure drow
Out of a window forth to pace --.
be he ever fo wrothe,
Shall have one of these two, but bothe, etc. P.
Or if no bafis bear my rising name,
But the fall'n ruins of another's fame;
Then teach me, heav'n! to fcorn the guilty bays, Drive from my breast that wretched luft of praise, Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honeft fame, or grant me none !