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LXXI. Here languid Beauty kept her pale-faced court: Bevies of dainty dames, of high degree, From every quarter hither made resort; Where, from gross mortal care and business free, They lay, pour’d out in ease and luxury. Or should they a vain show of work assume, Alas! and well-a-day! what can it be? To knot, to twist, or range the vernal bloom; But far is cast the distaff, spinning-wheel, and loom.
LXXII. Their only labour was to kill the time; And labour dire it is, and weary woe. They sit, they loll, turn o'er some idle rhyme; Then, rising sudden, to the glass they go, Or saunter forth, with tottering step and slow: This soon too rude an exercise they find; Straight on the couch their limbs again they throw,
Where hours on hours they sighing lie reclin'd, And court the vapoury god soft-breathing in the wind.
LXXIII. Now must I mark the villany we found, But ah! too late, as shall eftsoons be shown. A place here was, deep, dreary, under ground; Where still our inmates, when unpleasing grown, Diseas'd, and loathsome, privily were thrown. Far from the light of heaven, they languish'd there, Unpity'd uttering many a bitter groan;
For of these wretches taken was no care: Fierce fiends, and hags of hell, their only nurses were.
He led, I wot, the softest way to death,
Who vexed was full oft with ugly fit;
For sometimes she would laugh, and sometimes cry, Then sudden waxed wroth, and all she knew not why.
LXXVII. Fast by her side a listless maiden pined, With aching head, and squeamish heart-burnings; Pale, bloated, cold, she seem'd to hate mankind, Yet loved in secret all forbidden things. And here the Tertian shakes his chilling wings; The sleepless Gout here counts the crowing cocks, A wolf now knaws him, now a serpent stings;
Whilst Apoplexy cramm'd Intemperance knocks Down to the ground at once, as butcher felleth ox.
The knight of arts and industry,
And his achievements fair;
Secur'd, and crowned were.
ESCAPED the castle of the sire of sin,
I now must sing of pleasure turn’d to pain,
II. Is there no patron to protect the Muse, And fence for her Parnassus' barren soil? To every labour its reward accrues, , And they are sure of bread who swink and moil; But a fell tribe th’ Aönian hive despoil, As ruthless wasps oft rob the painful bee: Thus while the laws not guard that noblest toil,
Ne for the Muses other meed decree, They praised are alone, and starve right merrily.
And I their toys to the great children leave:
To sweep away this human lumber came,
In fairy-land there lived a knight of old,
Now pinch’d by biting January sore,