Зображення сторінки

Or the debating merchants-share the prey,
And various limbs to various marts convey?
Thro' his firm skull what steel its way can win?
What forceful engine can subdue his skin ?
Fly far, and live; tempt not his matchless might:
The bravest shrink to cowards in his fight;
* The rashest dare not rouse him up: Who then
Shall turn on Me, among the sons of men :

Am. I a debtor ? Hast thou ever heard
Whence come the gifts that are on Me conferr'da
My lavish fruit a thousand vallies fills,
And Mine the herds, that graze a thousand hills :
Earth, sea, and air, All nature is my own;
And stars and sun are duft beneath my throne.
And dar'ft Thou with the World's great Father vie,
Thou, who doft tremble at my creature's eye?

At full my huge Leviathan shall rise,
Boast all his strength, and spread his wond'rous size,
Who, great in arms, e'er stripp'd his shining mail,
Or crown'd his triumph with a single scale?
Whose heart sustains him to draw near ? + Behold,
Destruction yawns; his spacious jaws unfold,
And, marshal'd round the wide expanse, disclose
Teeth edg’d with death, and crowding rows on rows:
What hideous fangs on either side arise !
And what a deep abyss between them lies !

* This alludes to a custom of this creature, which is, when fated with fish, to come ashore and sleep among the reeds.

+ The crocodile's mouth is exceeding wide. When he gapes, says Pliny, fit totum os. Martial says to his old woman,

Cùm comparata riktibus tuis ora

Niliacus babet crocodilus angufta. So that the expression there is barely jufl.


Mete with thy lance, and with thy plummet sound,
The one how long, the other how profound.

His bulk is charg'd with such a furious soul,
That clouds of smoke from his spread noftrils roll,
As from a furnace; and, when rous'd his ire,
* Fate issues from his jaws in streams of fire.
The rage of tempefts, and the roar of seas,
Thy terror, this thy great Superior please;
Strength on his ample shoulder fits in state;
His well-join'd limbs are dreadfully complete ;
His flakes of solid flesh are flow to part;
As steel his nerves, as adamant his heart,

When, late awak'd, he rears him from the floods,
And, stretching forth his ftature to the clouds,
Writhes in the sun aloft his scaly height,
And strikes the distant hills with transient light,
Far round are fatal damps of terror spread,
The Mighty fear, nor blush to own their dread.
+ Large is his front; and, when his burnish'd

eyes Lift their broad: lids, the morning seems to rise.


* This too is nearer truth than at first view may be imagined. The crocodile, say the naturalists, lying long under water, and being there forced to hold its breath, when it emerges, the breath long represt is hot, and bursts out so violently, that it resembles fire and smoke. The horse suppresses not his breath by any means so long, neither is he fo fierce and animated ; yet the most correct of poets ventures to use the same metaphor concerning him.

Colle&tumque premens volvit fub naribus ignem. By this and the foregoing note I would caution against a false opinion of the eastern boldness, from passages in them ill understood.

+ His eyes are like the eye-lids of the morring. I think this gives us as great an image of the thing it would express, as can enter the

thought thought of man. It is not improbable that the Egyptians stole their hieroglyphic for the morning, which is the crocodile's eye, from this paisage, though no commentator, I have seen, mentions it. It is easy to conceive how the Egyptians should be both readers and admirers of the writings of Moses, whom I suppose the author of this poem.

In vain may death in various shapes invade,
The swift-wing'd arrow, the descending blade;
His naked breast their impotence defies :
The dart rebounds, the brittle fauchion flies,
Shut in himself, the war without he hears,
Safe in the tempest of their rattling spears;
The cumber'd strand their wasted vollies strow;
His sport, the rage and labour of the foe.

His pastimes like a cauldron boil the flood,
And blacken ocean with the rising mud;
The billows feel him, as he works his way ;
His hoary footsteps shine along the fea;
The foam high-wrought, with white divides the green, ,
And distant failors point where death has been,

I have observed already that three or four of the creatures here described are Egyptian ; the two last are notoriously so, they are the river-horse and the crocodile, those celebrated inhabitants of the Nile; and on these two it is that our author chiefly dwells. It would have been expected from an author more remote from that river than Moses, in a catalogue of creatures produced to magnify their Creator, to have dwelt on the two largest works of his hand, viz. the elephant and the whale. This is so natural an expectation, that some commentators have rendered behemoth and liviathan, the elephant and whale, though the descriptions in our author will not admit of it; but Mofes being, as we may well suppose, under an immediate terror of the bippopotamos and crocodile, from their daily mischiefs and ravages around him, it is very accountable why he Mould permit them to take place.

His like earth bears not on her spacious face:
Alone in nature stands his dauntless race,
For utter ignorance of fear renown'd,
In wrath he rolls his baleful


around : Makes ev'ry swoln, disdainful heart, subside, And holds dominion o'er the fons of pride.

Then the Chaldean eas'd his lab'ring breaft, With full conviction of his crime oppreft.

« Thou can't accomplish All things, Lord of Might: « And ev'ry thought is naked to Thy fight. “ But, oh! Thy ways are wonderful, and lie

Beyond the deepest reach of mortal eye.
« Oft have I heard of Thine Almighty Pow'r;
« But never saw Thee till this dreadful hour.
« O’erwhelm'd with shame, the Lord of life I see,
“ Abhor myself, and give my soul to Thee.
" Nor shall

tempt Thine

anger more : “ Man is not made to question, but adore.

[ocr errors]


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« НазадПродовжити »