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That no void room in chamber, or on ground,
And but one sorry bed was to be found;
And that so little, it would hold but one,
Though till this hour they never lay alone.
So they were forced to part: one stay'd behind,
His fellow sought what lodging he could find.
At last he found a stall where oxen stood,
And that he rather chose than lie abroad.
'Twas in a farther yard without a door:
But for his ease, well litter'd was the floor.
His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept,
Was weary, and without a rocker slept :
Supine he snor'd; but in the dead of night
He dreamt his friend appear'd before his sight,
Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry,
Said, "Help me, brother, or this night I die:
Arise and help, before all help be vain,
Or in an ox's stall I shall be slain."
Roused from his rest, he waken'd in a start, Shivering with horror, and with aching heart; At length to cure himself by reason tries; 'Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies? So thinking, changed his side, and closed his eyes. His dream returns: his friend appears again: "The murderers come; now help, or I am slain." 'Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain. He dreamt the third but now his friend appear'd Pale, naked, pierced with wounds, with blood besmear'd "Thrice warn'd, awake," said he, "relief is late, The deed is done: but thou revenge my fate:
Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes,
Awake, and with the dawning day arise;
Take to the western gate thy ready way,
For by that passage they my corpse convey:
My corpse is in a tumbril laid, among
The filth and ordure, and enclosed with dung:
That cart arrest, and raise a common cry;
For sacred hunger of my gold I die;"
Then show'd his grisly wound: and last he drew
A pitcous sigh, and took a long adieu.
The frighted friend arose by break of day,
And found the stall where late his fellow lay.
Then of his impious host inquiring more,
Was answer'd that his guest was gone before:
Muttering, "He went," said he, "by morning light,
And much complain'd of his ill rest by night."
This raised suspicion in the pilgrim's mind,
Because all hosts are of an evil kind,
And oft to share the spoils with robbers join'd.
His dream confirm'd his thought; with troubled look,
Straight to the western gate his way he took :
There, as his dream foretold, a cart he found,
That carried compost forth to dung the ground.
This when the pilgrim saw, he stretch'd his throat,
And cried out "Murder!" with a yelling note.
"My murder'd fellow in this cart lies dead,
Vengeance and justice on the villain's head
Ye magistrates, who sacred law dispense,
On you I call to punish this offence."
The word thus given, within a little space,
The mob came roaring out, and throng'd the place.
All in a trice they cast the cart to ground,
And in the dung the murder'd body found:
Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the wound.
Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find
Is boundless grace, and mercy to mankind,
Abhors the cruel: and the deeds of night
By wondrous ways reveals in open light ;
Murder may pass unpunish'd for a time,
But tardy justice will o'ertake the crime.
And oft a speedier pain the guilty feels;
The hue and cry of heaven pursues him at the heels,
Fresh from the fact, as in the present case,
The criminals are seized upon the place;
Carter and host confronted face to face.
Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,
On engines they distend their tortured joints;
So was confession forced, the offence was known,.
And public justice on the offenders done,
A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one but all mankind's epitome.
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was every thing by starts, and nothing long;
But, in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
Blest madman, who could every hour employ
With something new to wish or to enjoy.
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes.
So over-violent or over-civil,
That every man with him was god or devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art,
Nothing went unrewarded but desert;
Beggared by fools whom still he found too late:
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laughed himself from court, then sought relief,
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief:
For, spite of him, the weight of business fell
On Absalom and wise Achitophel.
5. CLEOPATRA ON THE CYDNUS.
Her galley down the silver Cydnus rowed, The tackling silk, the streamers waved with gold; The gentle winds were lodged in purple sails: Her nymphs like Nereids round her couch were placed, Where she, another sea-born Venus, lay.
She lay and leant her cheek upon her hand,
And cast a look so languishingly sweet,
As if, secure of all beholders' hearts,
Neglecting, she could take them: boys, like cupids,
Stood fanning, with their painted wings, the winds,
That played about her face; but if she smiled,
A darting glory seemed to blaze abroad,
That men's desiring eyes were never wearied,
But hung upon the object. To soft flutes
The silver oars kept time; and while they played,
The hearing gave new pleasure to the sight;
And both to thought. 'Twas heaven, or somewhat moro:
For she so charmed all hearts, that gazing crowds
Stood panting on the shore, and wanted breath
To give their welcome voice.
Three poets in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed:
The next in majesty; in both the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she joined the former two.
Empire o'er the earth and main
Heav'n that gave can take again:
But a mind that's truly brave
And can ne'er be made a slave.
Within a homestead lived, without a peer
For crowing loud, the noble chanticleer,
More certain was the crowing of this cock
To number hours than is an abbey-clock;
And sooner than the morning bell was rung,
He clapped his wings upon his roost and sung.
High was his comb, and coral-red withal,
In dents embattled like a castle-wall:
His bill was raven-black, and shone like jet;
Blue were his legs, and orient were his feet;
White were his nails, like silver to behold;
His body glittered like the burnished gold.
The fiery courser, when he hears from far
The sprightly trumpets and the shouts of war,
Pricks up his ears, and trembling with delight,
Shifts place, and paws, and hopes the promised fight;
On his right shoulder his thick mane reclined
Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind.
Eager he stands,--then, starting with a bound. He turns the turf, and wakes the solid ground: Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow; He bears his rider headlong on the foe.
One world sufficed not Alexander's mind,
Cooped up he seemed, in earth and seas confined;
And, struggling, stretched his restless limbs about
The narrow globe, to find a passage out:
Yet, entered in the brick-built town, he tried
The tomb, and found the strait dimensions wide
Death only this mysterious truth unfolds,
The mighty soul how small a body holds.
11. THE COUNTRY-BUMPKIN.
A clownish mien, a voice with rustic sound,
And stupid eyes that ever lov'd the ground.
The ruling rod, the father's forming care,
Were exercis'd in vain, on wit's despair;
The more inform'd, the less he understood,
And deeper sunk by flound'ring in the mud.
His corn and cattle were his only care,
And his supreme delight a country fair :
His quarter-staff, which he could ne'er forsake,
Hung half before, and half behind his back;
He trudg'd along, unknowing what he sought,
And whistled as he went for want of thought.
12. THE INFERNAL SACRIFICE,
Let the dark mysteries of hell begin.
Chuse the darkest part o'th' grove,
Such as ghosts at noon-day love;
Dig a trench, and dig it nigh
Where the bones of Laius lie:
Altars rais'd of turf or stone
Will th' infernal powers have none.
Is the sacrifice made fit ?
Draw her backward to the pit :
Draw the barren heifer back:
Barren let her be and black.