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Their wanton appetites not only feed
With delicates of leaves, and marshy weed,
But with thy fickle reap the rankest land,
And minister the blade, with bounteous hand.
Nor be with harmful parfimony won
To follow what our homely fires have done ;
Who fill'd the pail with beestings of the cow,
But all the udder to the calf allow.
If to the warlike fteed thy Audies bend,
Or for the prize in chariots to contend ;
Near Pisa's flood the rapid wheels to guide,
Or in Olympian groves aloft to ride,
The gen'rous labours of the courser first
Must be with fight of arms and sounds of trumpets nurst,
Inur’d the groaning axle tree to bear ;
And let him clashing whips in ftables hear.
Sooth him with praise, and make him understand
The loud applauses of his master's hand :
This from his weaning, let him well be taught ;
And then betimes in a soft sname wrought :
Before his tender joints with nerves are knit ;
Untry'd in arms, and trembling at the bit ;
But when to four full Springs his years advance,
Teach him to run the round, with pride to prance ;
And (rightly manag'd) equal time to beat,
To turn, to bound in measure, and curvet.
Let him, to this, with easy pains be brought:
And seem to labour when he labours not.
Thus, form'd to speed he challenges the wind :
And leaves the Scythian arrow far behind :
He fcours along the field, with loosen'd reins ;
And treads fo light, he scarcely prints the plains,
Like Boreas in his race, when rushing forth,
He sweeps the kies, and clears the cloudy north :
The waving harvest bends beneath his blaft;
The forest shakes, the groves their honours cast ;
He Aies aloft, and with impetuous roar
Pursues the foaming furges to the shore.
Thus o'er the Elean plains, thy well-breath'd horse
Impels the flying carr, and wins the course.
Or, bred to Belgian waggons, leads the way ;
Untir'd at night, and chearful all the day.
When once he's broken, feed him full and high,
Indulge his growth, and his gaunt fides supp!y.
Before his training, keep him poor and low ;
For his stout stomach with his food will grow ;
The pamper'd colt will discipline disdain,
Impatient of the lash, and reftiff to the rein.
The description which he has given us of a war-horse is (excepting that contained in the book of Job) the most animated and beautiful that ever was drawn.
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 promis'd fight. On his right shoulder his thick mane reclin'd, Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind. His horny hoofs are jetty black, and round; His chine is double, starting with a bound He turns the turff, and fhakes the solid ground. Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow : He bears his rider headlong on the foe.
The description he has given us of the distemper among the caitle, and the wonderful change it wrought in the disposition of animals, by making those who were of contrary natures, and obnoxious to each other grow familiar and herd together, is very finely, and very affectingly expressed; especially this part of it.
Lo! while he toils the galling yoke beneath,
Foaming black blood, the bullock sinks in death :
'The pensive hind the brother-steer relieves,
Who faithful for his loft companion grieves,
And the fix'd share amid the furrow leaves.
Mean time, nor graffy mead, nor lofty grove,
The mournful mate's afflicted mind can move :
from rocks delicious streams that roll
As amber clear, can footh his sorrowing soul;
His fanks flow loose, his eyes grow dim and dead;
And low to earth he hangs his heavy head.
Ah! what avails his ceaseless useful toil ?
What boots it to have turn'd the stubborn foil ?
Yet ne'er choice maffie wines debauch'd his talte,
Ne'er did he riot in the rich repast;
His food is leafy browze, and nature's grafs,
His draught fresh rills, that thro' the meadows pass,
Or torrent rushing from the rocky steep;
Nor care disturbs his falutary Neep.
Then cars were drawn, while fail'd th'accustom'd kine,
By ill-pair'd buffaloes, to Juno's fhrine.
And men with harrows toil'd to till the plain,
And with their nails dug in the golden grain ;
The rattling waggon's galling yoke fustain'd,
And up the rocky steep laborious strain'd.
The wily wolf, no more by hunger bold,
With secret step explores the nightly fold.
Deers herd with hounds, and leave their sylvan seat,
And seek with man to find a safe retreat.
Thick on the shores, like ship-wreck'd corses caft,
Appear the finny race of ocean valt;
Th’affrighted Phocae to the rivers haste.
His cave no more to shield the snake avails ;
Th'astonish'd hydra dies erecting all his scales.
Ev’n their own kies to birds unfaithful prove,
Headlong they fall, and leave their lives above.
Virgil lays down the rules of tillage and planting with wonderful art in his two.first books. He has, as the author of the essay on his Georgics observes, a sort of ruftic majesty about him, and seems like a Roman dictator at the plough tail. The second book has indeed most wit in it, and abounds with bolder metaphors than are found in any of the rest; for in this the poet attributes the passions of human life to the vegetable creation. The third book, however, seems more laboured and spirited, and the descriptions, in particular, are more animated and lively ; especially those of the murrain among the cattle, the Scythian winter, and the horse and chariot races. But he seems most delighted with the subject of his fourth book, where he is got among the bees. In this Georgic he points out the situation most proper for bees; tells us when they begin to gather honey, directs how to call them home when they swarm, and how to part'them
when they are engaged in battle. He then speaks of their different kinds ; and, after a beautiful excursion, returns again to the hive, gives us an account of their political adminiftration of affairs, and of the several diseases, that often rage among them, with the symptoms that attend each disease, and prescriptions for its cure. He then lays down a method for raising a new stock, when the whole breed is lost, and concludes with the history of its invention, which is fabulous and extravagant enough, but at the same time very poetical and pleasing. The nature and government of the bees he thus beautifully describes.
Describe we next the nature of the bees,
Bestow'd by Jove for secret services :
When by the tinkling sound of timbrels lat,
The king of heav'n in Cretan caves they fled,
Of all the race of animals, alone
The bees have common cities of their own,
And common fons, beneath one law they live,
And with one common stock their traffic drive.
Each has a certain home, a fev'ral stall :
All is the state's, the state provides for all.
Mindful of coming 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 home
Lay deep foundations for the labour'd comb,
With dew, Narcissus leaves, and clammy gum
To pitch the waxen flooring some contrive;
Some nurse the future nation of the hive :
Sweet honey some condense, fome purge
The rest, in cells a-part, the liquid nectar fhut.
All, with united force, combine to drive
The lazy drones from the laborious hive.
With envy Aung, they view each other's deeds :
With diligence the fragrant work proceeds.
As when the Cyclops, at th'almighty nod,
New thunder baften for their
Subdu'd in fire the stubborn metal lies,
One brawny smith the puffing bellows plies;
And draws and blows reciprocating air :
Others to quench the hisfing mass prepare :
With lifted arms they order ev'ry blow,
And chime their sounding hammers in a row;
With labour'd anvils Ætna groans below.
Strongly they strike, huge fakes of flames expire,
With tongs they turn the steel, and vex it in the fire..
If little things with great we may compare,
Such are the bees, and such their busy care:
Studious of honey, each in his degree,
The youthful swain, the grave experienc'd bee:
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,
the ruins, left 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 diftend his thighs :
He spoils the saffron flow'ss, he fips 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 peep;
Rush thro' the city gates without delay :
Nor ends their work, but with declining day:
Then having spent the laft remains of light,
They give their bodies due repose at night ;
When hollow murmurs of their ev'ning bells,
Dismiss the sleepy swains, and toll 'em to their cells.
When once in beds their weary limbs they steep,
No buzzing sounds disturb their golden sleep,
"Tis sacred filence 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 failors trim the boat;
So bees bear gravel ftones, whose poising weight
Steers thro' the whistling winds their steady flight.
But what's more strange, their modest appetites, Averse from Venus Ay the nuptial rites.