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TIMOLUS, Melince and Agno, two Wood-nymphs,
GNO, To-day we wear our acron crown,
The parsley wreath be thine ; it is most meet
We grace the presence of these rival gods
With all the honours of our woodland weeds.
Thine was the talk, Melinoe, to prepare
The turf-built theatre, the boxen bow'r,
And all the fylvan scen’ry.
Sire of these shades, is done. On yester eve;
Assisted by a thousand friendly fays,
While fav’ring Dian held her glitt'ring lamp,
We ply'd our nightly toils, nor ply'd we long,
For Art was not the mistress of our revels,
'Twas gentle Nature, whom we jointly woo'd;
She heard, and yielded to the forms we taught her,
Yet still remain’d herself.-----Simplicity,
Fair Nature's genuine daughter, was there too,
So foft, yet so magnificent of mien,
She shone all ornament without a gem.
The blithsome Flora, ever sweet and young,
Offer'd her various store : We cull’d a few
To robe, and recommend our darksome verdure,
But shun'd to be luxuriant.----
It was well. Agno, thy looks are pensive: What dejects Thy pleafure-painted aspect ? Sweetest nymph, That ever trod the turf, or fought the shade, Speak, nor conceal a thought.
King of the woods, I tremble for the royal arbiter. 'Tis hard to judge, whene'er the great contend, Sure to displease the vanquish'd : When such pow'rs Contest the laurel with such ardent strife, 'Tis not the sentence of fair equity, But 'tis their pleasure that is right or wrong.
'Tis well remark’d, and on experience founded.
I do remember that my sister Ida
(Whenas on her own shadowy mount we met,
To celebrate the birth-day of the Spring,
And th' orgies of the May) wou'd oft recount
The rage of the indignant goddesses,
When shepherd Paris to the Cyprian queen,
With hand obsequious gave the golden toy.
Heav'n's queen, the fifter and the wife of Jove,
Rag'd like a feeble mortal; fall’n she seem'd,
Her deity in human passions lost :
Ev'n Wisdom's goddess, jealous of her form,
Deem'd her own attribute her second virtue.
Both vow'd and fought revenge.
If such the fate
Of him who judg'd aright, what must be his
Who shall mistake the cause ? for much I doubt
The skill of Midas, fince his fatal wish :
Which Bacchus heard, and curs'd him with the gift.
Yet grant him wise, to err is human still,
And mortal is the consequence.
Besides, I fear him partial; for with Pan
He tends the sheep-walks all the live-long day,
And on the braky lawn to the shrill pipe
In aukward gambols he affects to dance,
Or tumbles to the tabor---’tis not likely
That such an umpire shou'd be equitable,
Unlefs he guess at justice.
'Tis ours to wish for Pan, and fear from Phæbus,
Whose near approach I hear : Ye stately cedars
Forth from your
fummits bow your awful heads,
And reverence the gods. Let my whole mountain tremble,
Not with a fearful, but religious awe,
And holiness of horror. You, ye winds,
That make soft, solemn music’mongst the leaves,
Be all to stillness hush'd ; and thou their echo
Listen, and hold thy peace ; for see they come.
SCENE opens, and discovers Apollo, attended by
Clio and Melpomene, on the right hand of Midas, and Pan on the left, whom Timolus, with Agno and Melinoe, join.
Begin, celestial candidates for praise,
Begin the tuneful contest: I, mean while,
With heedful notice and attention meet,
Will weigh your merits, and decide your cause,
From Jove begin the rapturous fong,
To him our earliest lays belong,
We are his offspring all;
'Twas he, whose looks fupremely bright,
Smild darksome chaos into light,
And fram'd this glorious ball.
Sylvanus, in his shadowy grove,
The seat of rural peace and love,
Attends my Doric lays;
By th' altar on the myrtle mount,
Where plays the wood-nymph’s favourite fount,
I'll celebrate his praise.
Parnassus, where's thy boasted height,
Where, Pegasus, thy fire and Aight,
Where all your thoughts so bold and free,
Ye daughters of Mnemosyne ?
If Pan o'er Phæbus can prevail,
And the great god of verse shou'd fail?
From nature's works, and nature's laws,
We find delight, and seek applause;