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Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies.
From fuch rude principles our form began,
And earth was metamorphos'd into man.
THE GOLDEN AGE.
The golden age was firft; when man, yet new,
No rule but uncorrupted reafon knew;
And, with a native bent, did good pursue.
Unforc'd by punishment, unaw'd by fear,
His words were fimple, and his foul fincere :
Needlefs was written-law, where none oppreft;
The law of man was written in his breaft:
No fuppliant crowds before the judge appear'd;
No court erected yet, nor caufe was heard;
But all was fafe, for confcience was their guard.
The mountain-trees in diftant profpect please,
Ere yet the pine defcended to the seas;
Ere fails were fpread, new oceans to explore;
And happy mortals, unconcern'd for more,
Confin'd their wishes to their native fhore.
No walls were yet, nor fence, nor mote, nor mound;
Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet's angry found:
Nor fwords were forg'd; but, void of care and crime
The foft creation flept away their time.
The teeming earth, yet guiltlefs of the plough,,
And unprovok'd, did fruitful stores allow :
Content with food, which nature freely bred,
On wildings and on strawberries they fed ;
Cornels and bramble-berries gave the reft,
And falling acorns furnish'd out a feast.
The flowers unfown in fields and meadows reign'd;
And western winds immortal Spring maintain'd.
In following years the bearded corn enfued
From earth unafk'd, nor was that earth renew`d,
From veins of vallies milk and nectar broke;
And honey fweating through the pores of oak.
But when good Saturn, banish'd from above,
Was driven to hell, the world was under Jove.
Succeeding times a filver age behold,
Excelling brafs, but more excell'd by gold.
Then Summer, Autumn, Winter, did appear;
And Spring was but a feafon of the year.
The fun his annual courie obliquely made,
Good days contracted, and enlarg'd the bad.
Then air with fultry heats began to glow,
The wings of winds were clog'd with ice and fnow;
And shivering mortals, into houses driven,
Sought shelter from th' inclemency of heaven.
Thofe houses, then, were caves, or homely fheds,
With twining oziers fenc'd, and mofs their beds.
Then ploughs, for feed, the fruitful furrows broke,
And oxen labour'd first beneath the yoke. ·
THE BRAZEN AGE.
To this next came in courfe the brazen age, A warlike offspring, prompt to bloody rage, Not impious yet
THE IRON AGE.
-Hard fteel fucceeded then;
And ftubborn as the metal were the men.
Truth, Modefty, and Shame, the world forfook:
Fraud, Avarice, and Force, their places took.
Then fails were spread to every wind that blew;
Raw were the failors, and the depths were new :
Trees rudely hollow'd, did the waves fustain :
Ere fhips in triumph plough'd the watery plain.
Then land-marks limited to each his right:
For all before was common as the light.
Nor was the ground alone requir'd to bear
Her annual income to the crooked share;
But greedy mortals, rummaging her store,
Digg'd from her entrails first the precious ore;
Which next to hell the prudent Gods had laid;
And that alluring ill to fight difplay`d;
Thus cursed steel, and more accursed gold,
Gave mifchief birth, and made that mifchief bold:
And double death did wretched man invade,
By fteel affaulted, and by gold betray'd.
Now (brandish'd weapons glittering in their hands)
Mankind is broken loofe from moral bands;
No rights of hofpitality remain :
The guest, by him who harbour'd him, is flain:
The fon-in-law purfues the father's life:
The wife her husband murders, he the wife.
The ftep-dame poifon for the fon prepares,
The fon inquires into his father's years.
Faith flies, and Piety in exile mourns ;
And Justice, here oppreft, to heaven returns.
THE GIANTS WAR.
Nor were the Gods themselves more safe above;
Against beleaguer'd heaven the giants move.
Hills pil'd on hills, on mountains mountains lie,
To make their mad approaches to the sky.
Till Jove, no longer patient, took his time
T'avenge with thunder their audacious crime :
Red lightning play'd along the firmament,
And their demolish'd works to pieces rent.
Sing'd with the flames, and with the bolts transfix'd,
With native earth their blood the monsters mix'd;
The blood, indued with animating heat,
Did in th' impregnate earth new sons beget:
They, like the feed from which they fprung, accurft,
Against the Gods immortal hatred nurst :
An impious, arrogant, and cruel brood;
Expreffing their original from blood.
Which when the king of Gods beheld from high
(Withal revolving in his memory,
What he himself had found on earth of late,
Lycaon's guilt, and his inhuman treat)
He figh'd, nor longer with his pity strove;
But kindled to a wrath becoming Jove;
Then call'd a general council of the Gods;
Who, fummon'd, iffue from their bleft abodes,
And fill th' affembly with a fhining train,
A way there is, in heaven's expanded plain,
Which, when the skies are clear, is feen below,
And mortals by the name of milky know.
The ground-work is of stars; through which the road
Lies open to the thunderer's abode.
The Gods of greater nations dwell around,
And, on the right and left the palace bound;
The commons where they can; the nobler fort,
With winding-doors wide open, front the court.
This place, as far as earth with heaven may vie,
I dare to call the Louvre of the sky.
When all were plac'd, in feats diftinctly known,
And he their father had affum'd the throne,
Upon his ivory fceptre firft he leant,
Then fhook his head that fhook the firmament:
Air, earth, and feas, obey'd th' almighty nod;
And, with a general fear, confefs'd the God.
At length with indignation, thus he broke
His awful filence, and the powers bespoke :
I was not more concern'd in that debate
Of empire, when our universal state
Was put to hazard, and the giant race
Our captive skies were ready to embrace :
For, though the foe was fierce, the feeds of all
Rebellion fprung from one original;
Now wherefoever ambient waters glide,
All are corrupt, and all must be destroy'd.
Let me this holy protestation make :
By hell and hell's inviolable lake,
I try'd whatever in the God-head lay,
But gangren'd members must be lopt away,
Before the nobler parts are tainted to decay.