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TEXTS CHIEFLY ALLUDED TO IN THIS BOOK.
I said in mine heart, Go to now,
thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure.' Eccles. chap. ii. ver. 1.
I made me great works ; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards, ver, 4.
I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits, ver. 5.
I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees, ver. 6.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun, ver. 11.
I gat me men-singers, and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts, ver. 8.
I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, (yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom) and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was
TEXTS CHIEFLY ALLUDED TO IN THIS BOOK.
that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven, all the days of their life, ver. 3.
Then said I in my heart, 'As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me: and why was I then more wise ?' Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. Eccles. chap. ii. ver. 15.
Therefore I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me, chap. ii. ver. 17.
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour, chap. X. ver. 1.
The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot. Prov. chap. x. ver. 7.
ARGUMENT. Solomon, again seeking happiness, inquires if wealth and greatness
can produce it; begins with the magnificence of gardens and buildings; the luxury of music and feasting; and proceeds to the hopes and desires of love. In two episodes are shown the follies and troubles of that passion. Solomon, still disappointed, falls under the temptations of libertinism and idolatry; recovers his thought; reasons aright; and concludes that, as to the pursuit of pleasure and sensual delight, ALL IS VANITY AND VEXA. TION OF SPIRIT.
Try then, O man, the moments to deceive
That from the womb attend thee to the grave:
For wearied Nature find some apter scheme;
Health be thy hope, and pleasure be thy theme:
From the perplexing and unequal ways
Where study brings thee; from the endless maze
Which doubt persuades to run, forewarn’d, recede
To the gay field and flowery path, that lead
To jocund mirth, soft joy, and careless ease :
Forsake what may instruct, for what may please :
Essay amusing art and proud expense,
And make thy reason subject to thy sense.
I commun’d thus : the power of wealth I tried,
And all the various luxe of costly pride ;
Artists and plans reliev'd my solemn hours ;
I founded palaces and planted bow'rs.
Birds, fishes, beasts, of each exotic kind
I to the limits of my court confin'd.
To trees transfer'd I gave a second birth,
And bid a foreign shade grace Judah's earth.
Fish-ponds were made where former forests grew,
And hills were levell’d to extend the view.
Rivers, diverted from their native course,
And bound with chains of artificial force,
From large cascades in pleasing tumult roll'd,
Or rose through figur'd stone or breathing gold.
From furthest Africa's tormented womb
The marble brought, erects the spacious dome,
Or forms the pillars' long-extended rows, (grows.
On which the planted grove and pensile garden
The workmen here obey the master's call
To gild the turret, and to paint the wall;
To mark the pavement there with various stone,
And on the jasper steps to rear the throne:
The spreading cedar, that an age had stood,
Supreme of trees, and mistress of the wood,
Cut down and carv'd, my shining roof adorns,
And Lebanon his ruin'd honour mourns.
A thousand artists show their cunning pow'r
To raise the wonders of the ivory tow'r:
A thousand maidens ply the purple loom
To weave the bed, and deck the regal room ;
Till Tyre confesses her exhausted store,
That on her coast the murex* is no more;
Till from the Parian isle and Libya's coast
The mountains grieve their hopes of marble lost;
And India's woods return their just complaint,
Their brood decay'd, and want of elephant.
My full design, with vast expense achiev’d,
I came, beheld, admir'd-reflected, griev'd;
I chid the folly of my thoughtless haste,
For, the work perfected, the joy was past.
To my new courts sad Thought did still repair,
And round my gilded roofs hung hovering Care.
In vain on silken beds I sought repose,
And restless oft from purple couches rose;
Vexatious Thought still found my flying mind
Nor bound by limits, nor to place confin'd;
Haunted my nights, and terrified my days,
Stalk'd through my gardens and pursued my ways,
Nor shut from artful bower, nor lost in winding
Yet take thy bent, my soul; another sense
Indulge; add music to magnificence:
Essay if harmony may grief control,
Or power of sound prevail upon the soul.
Often our seers and poets have confess'd
That music's force can tame the furious beast;
Can make the wolf or foaming boar restrain
His rage, the lion drop his crested main,
Attentive to the song; the lynx forget
His wrath to man, and lick the minstrel's feet.
Are we, alas ! less savage yet than these?
Else music, sure, may human cares appease.
I spake my purpose, and the cheerful choir
Parted their shares of harmony: the lyre
Softend the timbrel's noise; the trumpet's sound
Provok'd the Dorian flute (both sweeter found