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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 administration 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 loft, 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 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 fons, 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 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, some purge the grout ;.
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 angry God :
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 Aakes 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 tbe 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, 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 distend 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 last 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 stones, whose poising weight
Steers thro' the whistling winds their steady fight.
But what's more strange, their modest appetites, Averse from Venus Ay the nuptial rites.
No lust enervates their heroick mind,
Nor waste their strength on wançon woman-kind,
But in their mouths resides their genial pow'rs,
They gather children from the leaves and Aow'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 link 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 life they quickly run;
Which in the space of seven Mort years is done ;
Th’immortal line in sure succession reigns,
The fortune of the family remains ;
And grandfires grandsons the long list 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 diffolves the goveri
All goes to ruin, they themselves contrive
To rob the honey, and subvert the hive.
The king presides, his subjects coil surveys;
The servile rout their careful Cæfar praise :
Him they extol, they worship him alone.
They crowd his levies, and support his throne :
They raise him on their shoulders with a thout :
And when their sov'reigns quarrel call 'em out,
His foes to mortal combat they defy,
And think it honour at his feet to die.
The comparison he has drawn between the labours of the bees and those of the Cyclops is truly poetical; and the description of the battle between the two swarms ac the beginning of this book is attended with as much noise, hurry and fury, as any engagement in the Æneid. The method of appeasing these warriors by throwing dust in the air is a circumstance beautiful in itself and finely iotroduced : 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 sort of poem delightful, are all to be found 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. feem 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 assign'd it, a beauty of the first 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 life, and of these we have several in our own language that are juftly admired. As the most considerable of those di. versions, however, are finely treated by Mr. Gay in his Rural Sports, we shall draw some examples from him ; and first 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 Aies;
And if too small, the naked fraud's in sight,
And fear forbids, while hunger does invite.
Those baits will best reward the filer's pains,
Whose polith’d.tails a shining yellow ftains :
Cleanse them from filth, to give a tempting gloss,
Cherish the fully'd reptile race with moss ;
Amid the verdant bed they twine, they toil,
And from their bodies wipe their native soil.
But when the sun displays his glorious beams,
And shallow rivers flow with silver streams,
Then the deceit the scaly breed survey,
Balk in the sun, and look into the day.
You now a more delusive art must try,
And tempt their hunger with the curious fiy.
To frame the little animal, provide
All the gay hues that wait on female pride,
Let nature guide thee ; sometimes golden wire
The lining 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 slender tribute brings,
And lends the growing insect proper wings:
Silks of all colours muft their aid impart,
And ev'ry far promote the fisher's art.
So the gay lady, with expensive care,
Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air ;
Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glitc'ring thing displays,
Dazles our eyes, and easier hearts betrays.
Mark well the various seasons of the year,
How the succeeding infect race appear ;
In this revolving moon one colour reigns,
Which in the next the fickle trout disdains.
Oft have I seen a kilful angler try
The various colours of the treach'rous Ay;
When he with fruitless pain hath skim'd the brook,
And the coy fish 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 veít, his wings, his horns and size,
Then round his hook the chosen fur he winds,
And on the back a speckled feather 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 fear
Behold their fellows tost in thinner air ;