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A scabber tetter on their pelts will stick,
When the raw rain has pierc'd them to the
Or searching frosts have eaten through the skin,
Or burning icicles are lodg'd within:
Or, when the fleece is shorn, if sweat remains
Unwash'd, and soaks into their empty veins;
When their defenceless limbs the brambles tear,
Short of their wool, and naked from the shear.
Good shepherds, after shearing, drench their
And their flock's father (forc'd from high to leap) Swims down the stream, and plunges in the deep.
Receipts abound; but, searching all thy store,
The best is still at hand, to lance the sore,
And cut the head; for, till the core be found,
The secret vice is fed, and gathers ground,
While, making fruitless moan, the shepherd
And, when the lancing knife requires his hands,
Vain help, with idle prayr's, from heav'n de-
Deep in their bones when fevers fix their seat,
And rack their limbs, and lick the vital heat.
The ready cure to cool the raging pain
Is underneath the foot to breathe a vein.
This remedy the Scythian shepherds found:
Th' inhabitants of Thracia's hilly ground,
And Gelons, use it, when for drink and food
They mix their curdled milk with horses' blood.
But, where thou seest a single sheep remain
In shades aloof, or couch'd upon the plain,
Or listlessly to crop the tender grass,
Or late to lag behind with truant pace;
Revenge the crime, and take the traitor's head,
Ere in the faultless flock the dire contagion
On winter seas we fewer storms behold,
Than foul diseases that infect the fold.
Nor do those ills on single bodies prey,
But oft'ner bring the nation to decay,
And sweep the present stock and future hope
A dire example of this truth appears,
When, after such a length of rolling years,
We see the naked Alps, and thin remains
Of scatter'd cots, and yet unpeopled plains,
Once fill'd with grazing flocks, the shepherds'
They oint their naked limbs with mother'd oil;
Or, from the founts where living sulphurs boil;
They mix a med'cine to foment their limbs,
With scum that on the molten silver swims;
Fat pitch, and black bitumen, add to these,
Besides the waxen labour of the bees,
And hellebore, and squills deep rooted in the Th' inspected entrails could no fates foretell:
Sunk of himself, without the gods' command,
Preventing the slow sacrificer's hand.
Or, by the holy butcher if he fell,
Nor, laid on altars, did pure flames arise;
But clouds of smould'ring smoke forbade the
Scarcely the knife was redden'd with his gore,
Or the black poison stain'd the sandy floor.
The thriven calves in meads their food forsake,
And render their sweet souls before the plen-
mad; the wheezing
With coughs is chok'd, and labours from the chine :
Here, from the vicious air and sickly skies, A plague did on the dumb creation rise:
During th' autumnal heats th' infection grew,
Tame cattle and the beasts of nature slew,
Pois'ning the standing lakes, and pools im-
Nor was the foodful grass in fields secure.
Strange death! for, when the thirsty fire had
Their vital blood, and the dry nerves were shrunk,
When the contracted limbs were cramp'd, e'en then
A wat'rish humour swell'd and ooz'd again.
Converting into bane the kindly juice,
Ordain'd by Nature for a better use.
The victim ox, that was for altars prest,
Trimm'd with white ribbons, and with garlands
The fawning dog runs
The victor horse, forgetful of his food,
The palm renounces, and abhors the flood.
He paws the ground; and on his hanging ears
A doubtful sweat in clammy drops appears:
Parch'd is his hide, and rugged are his hairs.
Such are the symptoms of the young disease;
But, in time's process, when his pains increase,
He rolls his mournful eyes: he deeply groans
With patient sobbing, and with manly moans.
He heaves for breath; which, from his lungs
And fetch'd from far, distends his lab'ring side.
To his rough palate his dry tongue succeeds:
And ropy gore he from his nostrils bleeds.
A drench of wine has with success been us'd,
And through a horn the gen'rous juice infus'd,
Which, timely taken, op'd his closing jaws,
But, if too late, the patient's death did cause:
For the too vig'rous dose too fiercely wrought,
And added fury to the strength it brought.
Recruited into rage, he grinds his teeth
In his own flesh, and feels approaching death.
Ye gods, to better fate good men dispose,
And turn that impious error on our foes!
The steer, who to the yoke was bred to bow, (Studious of tillage, and the crooked plough)
Falls down and dies; and, dying, spews a flood
Of foamy madness, mix'd with clotted blood.
The clown, who, cursing Providence, repines,
His mournful fellow from the team disjoins;
With many a groan forsakes his fruitless care,
And in th' unfinish'd furrow leaves the share.
The pining steer no shades of lofty woods,
Nor flow'ry meads, can ease, nor crystal floods
Roll'd from the rock: his flabby flanks decrease;
His eyes are settled in a stupid peace;
His bulk too weighty for his thighs is grown;
And his unwieldly neck hangs drooping down.
Now what avails his well-deserving toil
To turn the glebe, or smooth the rugged soil?
And yet he never supt in solemn state,
(Nor undigested feasts did urge his fate)
Nor day to night luxuriously did join,
Nor surfeited on rich Campanian wine.
Simple his bev'rage, homely was his food,
The wholesome herbage, and the running flood:
No dreadful dreams awak'd him with affright:
His pains by day secur'd his rest at night.
'Twas then that buffaloes, ill pair'd, were seen To draw the car of Jove's imperial queen, For want of oxen; and the lab'ring swain Scratch'd, with a rake, a furrow for his grain, And cover'd with his hand, the shallow seed again.
He yokes himself, and up the hilly height With his own shoulders, draws the wagon's weight. [prowl'd The nightly wolf, that round th' inclosure To leap the fence, now plots not on the fold, Tam'd with a sharper pain. The fearful doe, And flying stag, amidst the greyhounds go, And round the dwellings roam of man, their fiercer foe.
The scaly nations of the sea profound,
Like shipwreck'd carcasses, are driv'n aground,
And mighty phocæ, never seen before
In shallow streams, are stranded on the shore.
The viper dead within her hole is found:
Defenceless was the shelter of the ground.
The water-snake, whom fish and paddocks fed,
With staring scales lies poison'd in his bed:
To birds their native heav'ns contagious prove:
From clouds they fall, and leave their souls
Besides, to change their pasture 't is in vain, Or trust to physic: physic is their bane. The learned leeches in despair depart, And shake their heads, desponding of their art.
Tisiphone let loose from under ground, Majestically pale, now treads the round, Before her drives Diseases and Affright, And ev'ry moment rises to the sight, Aspiring to the skies, encroaching on the light. The rivers, and their banks, and hills around, With lowings and with dying bleats resound.
At length, she strikes a universal blow:
To death at once whole herds of cattle go:
Sheep, oxen, horses, fall: and, heap'd on high,
The diff'ring species in confusion lie,
Till, warn'd by frequent ills, the way they found
To lodge their loathsome carrion under ground;
For useless to the currier were their hides;
Nor could their tainted flesh with ocean-tides
Be freed from filth; nor could Vulcanian flame
The stench abolish, or the savour tame.
Nor safely could they shear their fleecy store,
(Made drunk with pois'nous juice, and stiff with
Or touch the web: but, if the vest they wear
Red blisters rising on their paps appear
And flaming carbuncles, and noisome sweat,
And clammy dews, that loathsome lice beget;
'Till the slow-creeping evil eats his way,
Consumes the parching limbs, and makes the life
Virgil has taken care to raise the subject of each Georgic. In the first, he has only dead matter on which to work. In the second, he just steps on the world of life, and describes that degree of it which is to be found in vegetables. In the third, he advances to animals: and, in the last, he singles out the bee, which may be reckoned the most sagacious of them, for his subject.
In this Georgic, he shows us what station is most proper for the bees, and when they begin to gather honey: how to call them home when they swarm; and how to part them when they are engaged in battle. From hence he takes occasion to discover their different kinds: and, after an excursion, relates their prudent and politic administration of affairs, and the general diseases that often rage in their hives, with the proper symptoms and remedies of each disease. In the last place he lays down a method of repairing their kind, supposing their whole breed lost; and gives at large the history of its invention.
THE gifts of heav'n my following song pursues,
Aerial honey, and ambrosial dews.
Mæcenas, read this other part, that sings
Embattl'd squadrons and advent'rous kings-
A mighty pomp, though made of little things.
Their arms, their arts, their manners, I dis-
And how they war, and whence the people rose. Slight is the subject, but the praise not small, If heav'n assist, and Phœbus hear my call.
First, for thy bees a quiet station find, And lodge them under covert of the wind ;[drive (For winds, when homeward they return, will The loaded carriers from their evening hive,) Far from the cows' and goats' insulting crew, That trample down the flow'rs, and brush the dew.
The painted lizard, and the birds of prey, Foes of the frugal kind, be far away
The titmouse, and the pecker's hungry brood,
And Procne, with her bosom stain'd in blood:
These rob the trading citizens, and bear
The trembling captives through the liquid air,
And for their ca low young a cruel feast prepare.
But near a living stream their mansion place,
Edg'd round with moss, and tufts of matted
And plant, (the wind's impetuous rage to stop) Wild olive trees, or palms, before the busy shop; That when the youthful prince, with proud alarm,
Calls out the venturous colony to swarmWhen first their way through yielding air they wing,
New to the pleasures of their native spring-
The banks of brooks may make a cold retreat
For the raw soldiers from the scalding heat,
And neighb'ring trees with friendly shade invite
The troops, unus'd to long laborious flight.
Then o'er the running stream or standing lake,
A passage for thy weary people make;
With osier floats the standing water strew;
Of massy stones make bridges, if it flow;
That basking in the sun thy bees may lie,
And, resting there their flaggy pinions dry,
When, late returning home, the laden host
By raging winds is wreck'd upon the coast.
Wild thyme and sav'ry set around their cell,
Sweet to the taste, and fragrant to the smell:
Set rows of rosemary with flow'ring stein,
And let the purple vi'lets drink the stream.
Whether thou build the palace of thy bees
With twisted osiers, or with barks of trees,
Make but a narrow mouth; for as the cold
Congeals into a lump the liquid gold,
So 'tis again dissolv'd by summer's heat;
And the sweet labours by extremes defeat.
And therefore not in vain, th' industrous kind
With dauby wax and flow'rs the chinks have
And with their stores of gather'd glue, contrive
To stop the vents and crannies of their hive.
Not birdlime, or Idæan pitch, produce
A more tenacious mass of clammy juice.
Nor bees are lodg'd in hives alone, but found
In chambers of their own beneath the ground:
Their vaulted roofs are hung in pumices,
And in the rotten trunks of hollow trees.
For what remains, when golden suns appear, And under earth have driv'n the winter year, The winged nation wanders through the skies, And o'er the plains and shady forests flies: Then, stooping on the meads and leafy bow'rs, They skim the floods, and sip the purple flow'rs.
But plaster thou the chinky hives with clay, And leafy branches o'er their lodgings lay: Nor place them where too deep a water flows, Or where the yew, their pois'nous neighbour,
Nor roast red crabs, t' offend the niceness of their nose; (ground; Nor near the streaming stench of muddy Nor hollow rocks that render back the sound, And double images of voice rebound
Exalted hence, and drunk with secret joy,
Their young succession all their cares employ:
They breed, they brood, instruct, and educate,
And make provision for the future state:
They work their waxen lodgings in their hives,
They labour honey to sustain their lives.
But when thou seest a swarming cloud arise,
That sweeps aloft, and darkens all the skies,
The motions of their hasty flight attend;
And know, to floods or woods, their airy march
Then melfoil beat, and honey-suckles pound;
With these alluring savours strew the ground:
And mix with tinkling brass the cymbal's dron-
Straight to their ancient cells, recall'd from air,
The reconcil'd deserter's will repair.
But, if intestine broils alarm the hive,
(For two pretenders oft for empire strive)
The vulgar in divided factions jar;
And murm'ring sounds proclaim the civil war.
Inflam'd with ire, and trembling with disdain,
Scarce can their limbs their mighty souls con-
With shouts, the coward's courage they excite,
And martial clangors call them out to fight:
With hoarse alarms the hollow camp rebounds,
That imitate the trumpets angry sounds:
Then to their common standards they repair;
The nimble horsemen scour the fields of air;
In form of battle drawn, they issue forth,
And ev'ry knight is proud to prove his worth.
Prest for their country's honour, and their
On their sharp beaks they wet their pointed stings,
And exercise their arms, and tremble with their wings.
Full in the midst the haughty monarchs ride; The trusty guards come up, and close the side;
With shouts the daring foe to battle is defied.
Thus, in the season of unclouded spring,
To war they follow their undaunted king,
Crowd through their gates; and, in the fields of
The shocking squadrons meet in mortal fight. Headlong they fall from high, and wounded wound;
And heaps of slaughter'd soldiers bite the ground.
Hard hailstones lie not thicker on the plain, Nor shaken oaks such show'rs of acorns rain. With gorgeous wings, the marks of sovereign sway,
The two contending princes make their way;
Intrepid through the midst of danger go,
Their friends encourage and amaze the foe.
With mighty souls in narrow bodies prest,
They challenge, and encounter breast to breast;
So fix'd on fame, unknowing how to fly,
And obstinately bent to win or die,
That long the doubtful combat they maintain,
Till one prevails-for one can only reign.
Yet all these dreadful deeds, this deadly fray,
A cast of scatter'd dust will soon allay,
And undecided leave the fortune of the day.
When both the chiefs are sunder'd from the
Then to the lawful king restore his right;
And let the wasteful prodigal be slain,
That he, who best deserves, alone may reign.
With ease distinguish'd is the regal race:
One monarch wears an honest open face:
Shap'd to his size, and godlike to behold,
His royal body shines with specks of gold,
And ruddy scales; for empire he design'd,
Is better born, and of a nobler kind.
That other looks like nature in disgrace:
Gaunt are his sides, and sullen is his face,
And like their grizzly prince appear his gloomy
Grim, ghastly, rugged, like a thirsty train [race.
That long have travell'd through a desert plain,
And spit from their dry chaps the gather'd dust
The better brood, unlike the bastard crew,
Are mark'd with royal streaks of shining hue;
Glitt'ring and ardent though in body less:
From these at pointed seasons, hope to press
Huge heavy honeycombs, of golden juice
Not only sweet, but pure, and fit for use,
T'allay the strength and hardness of the wine,
And with old Bacchus, new metheglin join.
But, when the swarms are eager of their
And loathe their empty hives, and idly stray,
Restrain the wanton fugitives, and take
A timely care to bring the truants back.
The task is easy-but to clip the wings
Of their high-flying arbitrary kings.
At their command, the people swarm away :
Confine the tyrant, and the slaves will stay.
Sweet gardens, full of saffron flowers, invite
The wand'ring gluttons, and retard their flight
Besides the god obscene, who frights away.
With his lath sword, the thieves and birds of
With his own hand, the guardian of the bees,
For slips of pine may search the mountain
And with wild thyme and sav'ry plant the plain,
Till his hard horny fingers ache with pain;
And deck with frutiful trees the fields around,
And with refreshing waters drench the ground.
Now, did I not so near my labours end,
Strike sail, and hast'ning to the harbour tend,
My song to flow'ry gardens might extend-
To teach the vegetable arts to sing,
The Pæstan roses, and their double spring;
How succ'ry drinks the running streams, and
Green beds of parsley near the river grow;
How cucumbers along the surface creep,
With crooked bodies, and with bellies deep-
The late narcissus, and the winding trail
Of bear's foot, myrtles green, and ivy pale:
For, where with stately tow'rs Tarentum
And deep Galæsus soaks the yellow sands,
I chanc'd an old Corycian swain to know,
Lord of few acres, and those barren too,
Unfit for sheep or vines, and more unfit to sow:
Yet, lab'ring well his little spot of ground,
Some scatt'ring pot-herbs here and there he
Which, cultivated with his daily care,
And bruis'd with vervain, were his frugal fare.
Sometimes white lilies did their leaves afford
With wholesome poppy flow'rs, to mend his
For, late returning home, he supp'd at ease,
And wisely deem'd the wealth of monarchs
The little of his own, because his own did please.
To quit his care, he gather'd first of all,
In spring the roses, apples in the fall:
And, when cold winter split the rocks in twain,
And ice the running rivers did restrain,
He stripp'd the bear's-foot of its leafy growth,
And, calling western winds, accus'd the spring
He therefore first among the swains was found To read the product of his labour'd ground, And squeeze the comb, with golden liquor crown'd.
His limes were first in flow'rs; his lofty pines,
With friendly shade, secur'd his tender vines.
For ev'ry bloom his trees in spring afford,
An autumn apple was by tale restor❜d.
He knew to rank his elms in even rows,
For fruit the grafted pear-tree to dispose,
And tame to plums the sourness of the sloes.
With spreading planes he made a cool retreat,
To shade good fellows from the summer's heat,
But, straiten'd in my space, I must forsake
This task, for others afterwards to take.
Describe we next the nature of the bees, Bestow'd by Jove for secret services,
When, by the tinkling sound of timbrels led,
The king of heav'n in Cretan caves they fed.
Of all the race of animals, alone
The bees have common cities of their own,
And common sons: beneath one law they live,
And with one common stock their traffic drive.
Each has a certain home, a sev'ral stall:
All is the state's; the state provides for all.
Mindful of coining cold, they share the pain,
And hoard, for winter's use, the summer's gain.
Some o'er the public magazines preside;
And some are sent new forage to provide.
These drudge in fields abroad; and those at
If little things with great we may compare,
Such are the bees, and such their busy care;
Studious of honey, each in his degree, [bee-
The youthful swain, the grave experienc'd
That in the field; this, in affairs of state
Employ'd at home, abides within the gate,
To fortify the combs, to build the wall,
To prop the ruins, lest the fabric fall:
But, late at night, with weary pinions come
The lab'ring youth, and heavy laden, home.
Plains, meads, and orchards, all the day he plies;
The gleans of yellow thyme distend his thighs:
He spoils the saff'ron flow'rs: he sips the blues
Of vi'lets, wilding blooms, and willow dews.
Their toil is common; common is their sleep;
They shake their wings when morn begins to
Rush through the city gates without delay;
Nor ends their work but with declining day.
Then, having spent the last remains of light,
They give their bodies due repose at night,
When hollow murmurs of their evering bells Dismiss the sleepy swains, and toll them to their cells.
When once in beds their weary limbs they steep,
No buzzing sounds disturb their golden sleep
'Tis sacred silence all. Nor dare they stray,
When rain is promis'd, or a stormy day;
But near the city walls their wat❜ring take,
Nor forage far, but short excursions make.
And as when empty barks on billows float,
With sandy ballast sailors trim the boat;
So bees bear gravel stones, whose poising
Steers through the whistling winds their steady flight.
But (what's more strange) their modest appetites,
Averse from Venus, fly the nuptial rites.
No lust enervates their heroic mind,
Nor wastes their strength on wanton womankind;
But in their mouths reside their genial pow'rs: They gather children from the leaves and flow'rs.
Thus make they kings to fill the regal seat, And thus their little citizens create,
And waxen cities build, the palaces of state.
And oft on rocks their tender wings they tear,
And sink beneath the burdens which they bear:
Such rage of honey in their bosom beats,
And such a zeal they have for flow'ry sweets.
Thus, though the race of life they quickly run,
Which in the space of sev'n short years is done :
Th' immortal line in sure succession reigns;
The fortune of the family remains;
And grandsires' grandsires the long list con-
Besides, not Egypt, India, Media, more
With servile awe their idol king adore:
While he survives, in concord and content
The commons live, by no divisions rent:
But the great monarch's death dissolves the
All goes to ruin; they themselves contrive
To rob the honey, and subvert the hive.
The king presides, his subjects' toil surveys,
The servile route their careful Cæsar praise:
Him they extol; they worship him alone;
They crowd his levees, and support his throne:
They raise him on their shoulders with a shout;
And, when their sov'reign's quarrel calls them
His foes to mortal combat they defy, And think it honour at his feet to die.
Induc'd by such examples some have taught That bees have portion of etherial thought Endu'd with particles of heavenly fires; For God the whole created mass inspires.