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Heav'n awards the vengeance due •
Shame and ruin wait for you.
THERE was a time when Ætna's silent fire Slept unperceiv'd, the mountain yet entire ; When, conscious of no danger from below, She tower'd a cloudcapt pyramid of snow. No thunders shook with deep intestine sound The blooming groves that girdled her around. Her unctuous olives, and her purple vines, (Unfelt the fury of those bursting mines,) The peasant's hopes, and not in vain, assur’d, In peace upon her sloping sides matur’d. When on a day, like that of the last doom, A conflagration lab’ring in her womb, She teem'd and heav'd with an infernal birth, That shook the circling seas and solid earth. Dark and voluminous the vapours rise, And hang their horrours in the neighb'ring skies, While through the stygian veil that blots the day, In dazzling streaks the vivid lightnings play. But O! what muse, and in what pow'rs of song, Can trace the torrent as it burns along ? Havock and devastation in the van, It marches o'er the prostrate works of man, Vines, olives, herbage, forests, disappear, And all the charms of a Sicilian year.
Revolving seasons fruitless as they pass, See it an uninform’d and idle mass; Without a soil t'invite the tiller's care, Or blade that might redeem it from despair. Yet time, at length, (what will not time achieve ?) Clothes it with earth, and bids the produce live. Once more the spiry myrtle crowns the glade, And ruminating flocks enjoy the shade. O bliss precarious and unsafe retreats, O charming Paradise of short-liv'd sweets! The self-same gale that wafts the fragrance round, Brings to the distant ear a sullen sound : Again the mountain feels the imprison’d foe, Again pours ruin on the vale below. Ten thousand swains the wasted scene deplore, That only future ages can restore.
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws, Who write in blood the merits of your cause, Who strike the blow, then plead your own defenco, Glory your aim, but justice your pretence ; Behold in Ætna's emblematick fires The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires.
Fast by the stream that bounds your just domain, And tells you where ye have a right to reign, A nation dwells, not envious of your throne, Studious of peace, their neighbours' and their own. Ill-fated race ! how deeply must they rue Their only crime, vicinity to you ! The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad, Through the ripe harvest lies their destin'd road; At ev'ry step bencath their feot they tread The life of multitudes, a nation's bread ! Earth seems a garden in its loveliest dress Before them, and behind a wilderness. Famine, and Pestilence, her first-born son, Attend to finish what the sword begun.
And echoing praises, such as fiends might earn,
Yet man, laborious man, by slow degrees,
Increasing commerce and reviving art Renew the quarrel on the conqu’ror's part ; And the sad lesson must be learn'd once more, That wealth within is ruin at the door. What are ye, monarchs, laurell’d heroes, say, But Ætnas of the sufføring world ye sway? Sweet Nature, stripp'd of her embroider'd robe, Deplores the wasted regions of her globe ; And stands a witness at Truth's awful bar, To prove you there destroyers as ye are.
O place me in some Heav'n-protected isle, Where Peace, and Equity, and Freedom smile: Where no volcano pours his fiery flood, No crested warriour dips his plume in blood ; Where Pow'r secures what Industry has won ; Where to succeed is not to be undone; A land, that distant tyrants hate in vain, In Britain's isle, beneath a George's reign?
ON A MISCHIEVOUS BULL, WHICH THE OWNER OF HIM
SOLD AT THE AUTHOR'S INSTANCE,
GO—thou art all unfit to share
The pleasures of this place
Creatures of gentler race.
The squirrel here his hoard provides
Aware of wintry storms,
Of rugged oaks for worms.
The sheep here smooths the knotted thorn
With frictions of her fleece;
Like her, a friend to peace.
Ah!- I could pity thée exil'd
From this secure retreat-
The happiest of the great.
But thou canst taste no calm delight ;
Thy pleasure is to show
Thy prowess—therefore goo
I care not whether east or north,
So I no more may find thee;
And claps the gate behind thee.
ANNUS MEMORABILIS, 1789.
WRITTEN IN COMMEMORATION OF HIS MAJESTY'S
I RANSACK'D for a theme of song,
To modern times, with Truth to guide
Thus, as the bee, from bank to bow'r,