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Which shade and shelter from the Hill derives, 225 While the kind river wealth and beauty gives, And in the mixture of all these
appears Variety, which all the rest endears, This scene had some bold Greek or British bard Beheld of old, what stories had we heard 230 Of Fairies, Satyrs, and the Nymphs their dames, Their feasts, their revels and theiram'rous flames! 'Tis still the same, altho' their airy shape All but a quick poetic sight escape, There Faunus and Sylvanus keep their courts, 235 And thither all the horned host resorts To
graze the ranker mead; that noble herd On whose sublime and shady fronts is rear'd Nature's great master-piece, to show how soon Great things are made, but sooner are undone, 240 Here have I seen the king, when great affairs Gave leave to slacken and unbend his
cares, Attended to the chase by all the flow'r Of youth, whose hopes a nobler prey devour; Pleasure with praise and danger they would buy, And wish a foe that would not only fly. 246 The stag now conscious of his fatal growth, At once indulgent to his fear and sloth, Io some dark covert his retreat had made, Where nor man's eye, nor heaven's, should invade His soft repose; when th' unexpected sound 251 Of dogs and men his wakeful ear does wound. Rouz’d with the noise, he scarce believes his ear, Willing to think th' illusions of his fear
Had givin this false alarm, but straight his view 255
Confirms that more than all he fears is true.
Betray'd in all his strengths, the wood beset,
All instruments, all arts of ruin met,
He calls to mind his strength, and then his speed,
His winged heels, and then his armed head; 260
With these t'avoid, with that his fate to meet,
But fear prevails, and bids him trust his feet.
So fast he flies, that his reviewing eye
Has lost the chasers, and his ear the cry;
Exulting, till he finds their nobler sense 265
Their disproportion'd speed doth recompence;
Then curses his conspiring feet, whose scent
Betrays that safety which their swiftness lent:
Then tries his friends; among the baser herd,
Where he so lately was obey'd and fear'd, 270
His safety seeks: the herd, unkindly wise,
Or chases him from thence, or from him flies,
Like a declining statesman, left forloru
To his friends' pity, and pursuers' scorn,
With shame remembers while himself was one 275
Of the same herd, himself the same had done.
Thence to the coverts and the conscious groves,
The scenes of his past triumphs and his loves,
Sadly surveying where he rang d alone,
Prince of the soil, and all the herd his own, 280
And like a bold knight-errant did proclaim
Combat to all, and bore away the dame,
And taught the woods to echo to the stream
His dreadful challenge and his clashing beam;
Yet faintly now declines the fatal strife,
So much his love was dearer than his life.
Now ev'ry leaf, and ev'ry moving breath
Presents a foe, and ev'ry foe a death.
Weary'd, forsaken, and pursu'd, at last
All safety in despair of safety plac'd, 290
Courage he thence resumes, resolvid to bear
All their assaults, since 'tis in vain to fear.
And now, too late, he wishes for the fight
That strength he wasted in ignoble flight:
But when he sees the eager chage renew'd, 295
Himself by dogs, the dogs by men pursu'd,
He straight revokes his bold resolve, and more
Repents his courage than his fear before;
Finds that uncertain ways unsafest are,
And doubt a greater mischief than despair. 300
Then to the stream, when neither friends, nor sorce,
Nor spced, nor art, avail, he shapes his course;
Thinkś not their rage so desp'rate to essay
An element more merciless than they.
But fearless they pursue, nor can the flood
Quench their dire thirst: alas! they thirst for blood,
Só 'twards a ship the oąr-finn'd gallies ply,
Which wanting sea to ride, or wind to fly,
Stands but to fall reveng’d on those that dare
Tempt the last fury of extreme despair. 310
So fares the stag; among th' enraged hounds
Repels their force, and wounds returns for wounds:
as a hero, whom his baser foes In troops surround, now these assails, now those,
Tha' prodigal of life, disdains to die
315. By common hands; but if he can descry Some nobler foe approach, to him he calls, And begs his fate, and then contented falls. So when the King a mortal shaft lets fly From his unerring hand, then glad to die, 320 Proud of the wound, to it resigns his blood, And stains the crystal with a purple flood. This a more innocent and happy chase Than when of old, but in the self-same place, Fair Liberty pursu'd *, and meant a prey 325 To lawless Power, here turn'd, and stood at bay; When in that remedy all hope was plac'd Which was, or should have been at least, the last. Here was that Charter seal'd wherein the crown All marks of arbitrary power lays down: 330 Tyrant and slave, those names of hate and fear, The happier style of king and subject bear: Happy when both to the same centre move, When kings give liberty and subjects love. Therefore not long in force this Charter stood; 335 Wanting that seal, it must be seal'd in blood. The subjects arm’d, the more their princes gave, Th' advantage only took the more to crave: Till kings, by giving, gave themselves away, And ev’n that power that should deny betray. 340
Who gives constrain'd, but his own fear reviles, “Not thank’d, but scorn'd; nor are they gifts, but
Runny Mead, where the Magna Charta was first sealed.
Thus kings, by grasping more than they could hold,
First made their subjects by oppression bold;
And popular sway, by forcing kings to give 345
More than was fit for subjects to receivę,
Ran to the same extremes; and one excess
Made both, by striving to be greater, less.
When a calm river, rais'd with sudden rains,
Or snows dissolv’d, o'erflows th' adjoining plains,
The husbandmen with high-rais'd banks secure 351
Their greedy hopes, and this he can endure;
But if with bays and dams they strive to force
His channel to a new or narrow course,
No longer then within his banks he dwells, 355
First to a torrent, then a deluge, swells;
Stronger and fiercer by restraint, he roars,
And knows no bound, but makes his pow'r his
ON THE EARL OF STRAFFORD'S
Great Strafford! worthy of that name, tho' all
Of thee could be forgotten but thy fall,
Crush'd by imaginary treason's weight,
Which too much morit did accumulate.
As chymists gold iron brass by fire would draw,
Pretexts are into treason forg'd by law.