« AnteriorContinuar »
when they are engaged in battle. He then speaks of their difserent kinds; and, aster a beautisul excursion, returns again to the hive, gives us an account of their political administration of asfairs, 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 fame time very poetical and pleasing. The nature and government of the bees he thus beautisully describes.
Describe we next the nature of the bees,
Bestow'd by Jove for secret services:
When by the tinkling sound of timbrels lnl,
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 sons, beneath one law they live,
And with one common stock their trassic drive-
Each has a certain home, a sev'ral stall:
All is the state's, the state provides for all.
Mindsul 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 sields 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 suture nation of the hive:
Sweet honey some condense, some purge the grout;.
The rest, in cells a-part, the liquid netlar shut.
All, with united force, combine to drive
The lazy drones from the laborious hive.
With envy stung, they view each other's deeds:
With diligence the fragrant work proceeds.
As when the Cyclops, at th'almighty nod,
New thunder hasten for their angry God:
Subdu'd in sire the stubborn metal lies,
One brawny smith the pussing bellows plies;
And draws and blows reciprocating air:
Others to quench the hissing 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 slakes of flames expire,
With tongs they turn the steel, and vex it in the sire.
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 youthsul swain, the grave experiene'd bee:
That in the sield; this in asfairs 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 pjies;
The gleans of yellow thyme distend his thighs:
He spoils the saffron flow'rs, he sips the blues
Of vi'lets, wilding blooms, and willow dews.
Their toil is common, common is their fleep;
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 last remains of light,
They give their bodies due repose at night;
When hollow murmurs of their ev'ning bells,
Dismiss the fleepy swains, and toll 'em to their cells.
When once in beds their weary limbs they steep,
No buzzing sounds disturb their golden steep,
Tis facred 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 sloat,
With sandy ballast sailors trim the boat;
So bees bear gravel stones, whose poising weight
Steers thro' 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 heroick mind,
Nor waste their strength on wanton woman-kind,
But in their mouths resides their genial pow'rs,
They gather children from the leaves and flow'rs.
Thus make they kings to sill 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 thro' the race of lise they quickly run;
Which in the space of seven short years is done;
Th' immortal line in sure succession reigns,
The fortune of the family remains;
And grand sires grandsons the long lift contains.
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 government.
All goes to ruin, they themselves contrive
To rob the honey, and subvert the hive.
The king presides, his subjects toil surveys;
The servile rout their careful Cæsar praise:
Him they extol, they worship him alone.
They crowd his levies, and support his throne:
They raise him on their shoulders with a shout:
And when their sov'reigns quarrel call 'em out,
His foes to mortal combat they defy,
And think it honour at his seet to die.
The comparison he has drawn between the labours of the bees and those of the Cyclop! is truly poetical; and the description of the banle between the two swarms at the beginning of this book is attended with as much noise, hurry and sury, as any engagement in the Æneid. The method of appeasing these warriors by throwing dust in the air is a circumstance beautisul in itself and sinely introduced: And the speech of Proteus, and the instructions given at the end of this fable for obtaining a new
stock of Bees, with the description of their nature and generation, will be ever the subject of admiration.
By the extracts and observations we have made, the reader will see that the rules we have laid down to" render this fort of poem delightsul, are allto be sound in Virgil'; or rather, which indeed is the truth, he will perceive that we have drawn our rules- from his great example. Virgil has omitted nothing that would contribute to make his precepts pleasing; and his fables, allegories, descriptions, similies, reflections, remarks, digressions, &c. seem all to spring spontaneously out of his subject, and are so contrived that they naturally bring him to it again. Even the episode of Orpheus and Eurydice, tho' very long, is in the place Virgil has aslign'd it, a beauty of the sirst magnitude, and is the more interesting for being pathetic.
We are now to speak of those poems which give precepts for the recreations and pleasures of a country lise, and of these we have several in our own language that are justly admired. As the most considerable of those diversions, however, are sinely treated by Mr. Gay in his Rural Spurts, we shall draw fome examples from him t and sirst of angling.
You must not ev'ry worm promiscuous use,
Judgment will tell the proper bait to chuse;
The worm that draws a long immod'rate size
The trout abhors, and the rank morsel slies;
And if too small, the naked fraud's in sight,
And sear forbids, while hunger does invite.
Those baits will best reward the sisher's pains,
Whose polish'dtails a shining yellow stains:
Cleanse them from silth, to give a tempting gloss,
Cherish the sully'd reptile race with moss;
Amid the verdant bed they twine, they toil,
And from their bodies wipe their native foil.
But when the sun displays his glorious beams,
And shallow rivers flow with silver streams,
Then the deceit the scaly breed survey,
Bask in the sun, and look into the day.
You now a more delusive art must try,
And tempt their hunger with the curious fly.
To frame tbe little animal, provide
All the gay hues that wait on semale pride,
Let nature guide thee; sometimes golden wire
The mining bellies of the fly require;
The peacock's plumes thy tackle must not fail,
Nor the dear purchase of the fable's tail.
Each gaudy bird some flender tribute brings,
And lends the growing insect proper wings:
Silks of all colours must their aid impart,
And ev'ry far promote the sisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expensive care,
Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air;
Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glitt'ring thing displays,
Dazles our eyes, and easier hearts betrays.
Mark well the various seasons of the year,
How the succeeding insect race appear;
In this revolving moon one colour reigns,
Which in the next the sickle trout disdains.
Oft have I seen a skilsul angler try
The various colours of the treach rons sly;
When he with fruitless pain hath skim'd the brook,
And the coy sish rejects the skipping hook,
He shakes the boughs that on the margin grow,
Which o'er the stream a waving forest throw;
When if an insect fall, (his certain guide)
He gently takes him from the whirling tide;
Examines well his form with curious eyes,
His gaudy vest, his wings, his horns and size,
Then round his hook the chosen sur he winds,
And on the back a speckled seather binds,
So just the colours shine through ev'ry part,
That nature seems to live again in art.
Let not thy wary step advance too near,
While all thy hope hangs on a single hair;
The new-form'd insect on the water moves,
The speckled trout the curious snare approves;
Upon the curling surface let it glide,
With natural motion from thy hand supply'd,
Against the stream now gently let it play,
Now in the rapid eddy roll away.
The scaly shoals float by, and seiz'd with sear
Behold their fellows tost in thinner air;