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Nor shall in many years the least decline
From the same ground, and the same winding line :
Then may in various roads the orbs above,
Without a guide, in perfect concord move;
Then beauty, order, and harmonious laws,
May not require a wise Directing Cause.
See how the indulgent father of the day
At such due distance does his beams display,
That he his heat may give to sea and land,
In just degrees, as all their wants demand !
But had he, in the unmeasurable space
Of ether, chosen a remoter place; .
For instance, pleas'd with that superior seat,
Where Saturn, or where Jove, their course repeat;
Or had he happen'd further yet to lie,
In the more distant quarters of the sky;
How sad, how wild, how exquisite a scene
Of desolation, had this planet been!
A wasteful, cold, untrodden wilderness,
The gloomy haunts of horror and distress :
Instead of woods, which crown the mountain's head,
And the gay honours of the verdant mead;
Instead of golden fruits, the garden's pride,
By genial showers and solar heat supplied ;
Icelandian cold, and Hyperborean snows,
Eternal frost, with ice that never flows,
Unsufferable winter had defac'd
Earth's blooming charms, and made a barren waste :
No mild indulgent gales would gently bear,
On their soft wings, sweet vapours through the air
The balmy spoils of plants and fragrant flowers,
Of aromatic groves, and myrtle bowers,
Whose odoriferous exhalations fan
The flame of life, and recreate beast and man;
But storms, ev'n worse than vex Norwegian waves, That breed in Scythia's hills, or Lapland caves, Would through this bleak terrestrial desert blow, Glaze it with ice, or whelm it o'er with snow.
Or had the sun, by like unhappy fate, Elected to the earth a nearer seat, His beams had cleft the hill, the valley dried, Exhal'd the lake, and drain’d the briny tide : A heat superior far to that which broils Bornéo, or Sumatra, Indian isles; Than that which ripens Guinea's golden ore, Or burns the Lybian hind, or tans the Moor; Had laid all nature waste, and turn'd the land To hills of cinders, and to vales of sand; No beasts could then have rang'd the leafless wood, Nor finny nations cut the boiling flood : Birds had not beat the airy road, the swains No flocks had tended on the russet plains. Thus, had the sun's bright orb been more remote, The cold had kill'd; and, if more near, the drought.
Next see, Lucretian sages, see the sun His course diurnal and his annual run. How in his glorious race he moves along, Gay as a bridegroom, as a giant strong: How his unvaried labour he repeats, Returns at morning, and at eve retreats; And by the distribution of his light, Now gives to man the day, and now the night; Night, when the drowsy swain and traveller cease Their daily toil, and soothe their limbs with ease; When all the weary sons of woe restrain ) Their yielding cares with slumber's silken chain, Solace sad grief, and lull reluctant pain.
And while the skin, ne'er covetous of rest, Flies with such rapid speed from east to west, In tracks oblique he through the zodiac rolls, Between the northern and the southern poles: From which revolving progress through the skies, The needful seasons of the year arise. And as he now advances, now retreats, Whence winter-colds proceed, and summer-heats, He qualifies and cheers the air by turns, Which winter freezes, and which summer burns. Thus his kind rays the two extremes reduce, And keep a temper fit for nature's use. The frost and drought, by this alternate power, The earth's prolific energy restore. The lives of man and beast demand the change; Hence fowls the air, and fish the ocean range. Of heat and cold this just successive reign, Which does the balance of the year maintain, The gardener's hope and farmer's patience props, Gives vernal verdure and autumnal crops.
Should but the sun his duty once forget,
Nor from the north, nor from the south retreat:
Should not the beams revive, and soothe the soil,
Mellow the furrow for the ploughman's toil;
A teeming vigour should they not diffuse,
Ferment the glebe, and genial spirits loose,
Which lay imprison’d in the stiffen'd ground,
Congcald with cold, in frosty fetters bound;
Unfruitful earth her wretched fate would mourn,
No grass would clothe the plains, no fruit the trees
But did the lingering orb much longer stay,
Unmindful of his course, and crooked way:
The earth, of dews defrauded, would detest
The fatal favour of the effulgent guest;
To distant worlds implore him to repair,
And free from noxious beams the sultry air;
His rays, productive now of wealth and joy,
Would then the pasture and the hills annoy,
And with too great indulgence would destroy:
In vain the labouring hind would till the land,
Turn up the glebe, and sow his seed in sand;
The meads would crack, in want of binding dews,
The channels would the exhaling river lose :
While in their haunts wild beasts expiring lie,
The panting herds would on the pasture die.
But now the sun at neither tropic stays
A longer time than his alternate rays
In such proportion heat and lustre give,
As do not ruin nature, but revive.
When the bright orb, to solace southern seats,
Inverts his course, and from the north retreats;
As he advances, his indulgent beam
Makes the glad earth with fresh conceptions teem;
Restores their leafy honours to the woods,
Flowers to the banks, and freedom to the floods;
Unbinds the turf, exhilarates the plain,
Brings back his labour, and recruits the swain;
Through all the soil a genial ferment spreads,
Regenerates the plants, and new adorns the meads.
The birds on branches perch'd, or on the wing, )
At nature's verdant restoration sing,
And with melodious lay salute the spring.
The heats of summer benefits produce Of equal number, and of equal use : The sprouting births, and beauteous vernal bloom, By warmer rays to ripe perfection come; The' austere and ponderous juices they sublime, Make them ascend the porous soil, and climb The orange.free, the citron, and the lime;
Which, drunk in plenty by the thirsty root,
Break forth in painted flowers, and golden fruit:
They explicate the leaves, and ripen food
For the silk-labourers of the mulberry wood;
And the sweet liquor on the cane bestow,
From which prepar'd the luscious sugars flow;
With generous juice enrich the spreading vine,
And in the grape digest the sprightly wine.
The fragrant trees, which grow by Indian floods,
And in Arabia's aromatic woods,
Owe all their spices to the summer's heat,
Their gummy tears, and odoriferous sweat.
Now the bright sun compacts the precious stone,
Imparting radiant lustre, like his own:
He tinctures rubies with their rosy hue,
And on the sapphire spreads a heavenly blue;
For the proud monarch's dazzling crown prepares
Rich orient pearl, and adamantine stars.
Next autumn, when the sun's withdrawing ray
The night enlarges, and contracts the day,
To crown his labour to the farmer, yields
The yellow treasures of his fruitful fields :
Ripens the harvest for the crooked steel,
(While bending stalks the rural weapon feel)
The fragrant fruit for the nice palate fits,
And to the press the swelling grape submits.
At length, forsaken by the solar rays, See, drooping nature sickens and decays; While winter all his snowy stores displays, In hoary triumph unmolested reigns O’er barren hills, and bleak untrodden plains ; Hardens the glebe, the shady grove deforms, Fetters the floods, and shakes the air with storms. Now active spirits are restrain’d with cold, [hold. And prisons, cramp'd with ice, the genial captives Vol. XV.