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Which taught to check the pestilential fire,
And quell the deadly Python of the Nile.
O thou belov'd by all the graceful arts,
Thou long the fav’rite of the healing powers,
Indulge, o Mead! a well-desigu'd essay,
Howe'er imperfect : and permit that I
My little knowledge with my country share,
Till you the rich Asclepian stores unlock,
And with new graces dignify the theme.
YE who amid the feverish world would wear
A body free of pain, of cares a mind ;
Fly the rank city, shun its turbid air ;
Breathe not the chaos of eternal smoke
And volatile corruption, from the dead,
The dying, sick’ning, and the living world
Exhal'd, to sully heaven's transparent dome
With dim mortality. It is not air
That from a thousand lungs reeks back to thine,
Sated with exhalations rank and fell,
The spoils of dunghills, and the putrid thaw
Of nature, when from shape and textuie she
Relapses into fighting elements;
It is not air, but floats a nauseous mass
Of all obscene, corrupt, offensive things.
Much moisture hurts : but here a sordid bath,
With oily rancour fraught, relaxes more,
The solid frame tiran simple moisture can.
Besides, immur'd in many a sullen bay
That never felt the freshness of the breeze,
This slumbering Deep remains, and ranker grows
With sickly rest : and (tho' the lungs abhor
To drink the dun fuliginous abyss)
Did not the acid vigour of the mine,
Rollid from so many thund'ring chimneys, tame
The putrid streams that overswarm the sky ;
This caustic venom would perhaps corrode
Those tender cells that draw the vital air,
In vain with all their unctuous rills bedewed ;
Or by the drunken venous tubes, that yawn
In countless pores o'er all the previous skin,
Imbib'd would poison the Balsamic blood,
And rouse the heart to every fever's rage
While yet you breathe, away; the rural wilds
Invite ; the mountains call you, and the vales ;
The woods the streams, and each ambrosial breeze
That sans the ever undulating sky;
A kindly sky! whose fost’ring pow'r regales
Man, beast, and all the vegetable reign.
Find then some woodland scene where nature smiles
Benign, where all her honest children thrive.
To us their wants not many a happy seat ;
Look round the smiling land, such numbers rise
We hardly fix, bewildered in our choice.
See where enthron'd in adamantine state,
Proud of her bards, imperial Windsor sits;
There chuse thy seat in some aspiring grove
Fast by the slowly-winding Thames ; or where
Broader she leaves fair Richmond's green retreats,
(Richmond that sees and hundred villa's rise
Rural or gay.) O! from the summer's rage
0! wrap me in the friendly gloom that hides
Umbrageous Ham! But if the busy town
Attract thee still to toil for power or gold,
Sweetly thou mayest thy vacant hours possess
In Hamstead, courted by the western wind;
Or Greenwich, waving o'er the winding flood ;
Or loose the world among the sylvan wilds
Of Dulwich, yet by barbarous arts unspoil'd.
Green rise the Kentish hills in cheerful air ;
But on the marshy plains that Essex spreads
Build not, nor rest too long thy wandering feet.
For on a rustic throne of dewy turf,
With baneful fogs her aching temples bound,
Quartana there presides : a meagre fiend
Begot by Eurus, when his brutal force
Compress'd the slothful Naiad of the Fens.
From such a mixture, sprung this fitful
With fev'rish blasts subdues the sick’ning land :
Cold tremours come, with mighty love of rest,
Convulsive yawnings, lassitude and pains
That sting the burden'd brows, fatigue the loins,
And rack the joints and every torpid limb ;
Then parching heat succeeds, till copious sweats
O'erflow: a short relief from former ills.
Beneath repeated shocks the wretches pine ;
The vigour sinks, the habit melts away ;
The cheerful pure and animated bloom
Dies from the face, with squalid atrophy
Devour'd, in sallow melancholy clad.
And oft the Sorceress, in her sated wrath,
Resigns them to the furies of her train ;
The blotted Hydrops, and the yellow fiend
Ting'd with her own accumulated gall.
In quest of sites, avoid the mournful plain
Where osiers thirve, and trees that love the lake ;
Where many lazy muddy rivers flow :
Nor for the wealth that all the Indies roll
Fix near the marshy margin of the main.
For from the hunid soil and watry reign
Eternal vapours rise ; the spungy air
Forever weeps ; or turgid with the weight
Of waters, pours a sounding deluge down.
Skies such as these let ev'ry mortal shun
Who dreads the dropsy, palsy, or the gout,
Tertian, corrosive scurvy, or the moist catarrh ;
Or any other injury that grows
From raw.spun fibres idle and unstrung,
Skin ill-perspiring, and the purple flood
In languid eddies loitering into phlegm.
Yet not alone from Humid skies we pine ;
For air may be too dry. The subtle heaven,
That winnows into dust the blasted downs,
Bare and extended wide without a stream,
Too fast imbibes th'attenuated lymph
Which, by the surface, from the blood exhales.
The lungs grow rigid, and with toil essay
Their flexible vibrations ; or inflam'd,
Their tender ever-moving structure thaws.
Spoil'd of its limpid vehicle, the blood
A mass of lees remains, a drossy tide
That slow as Lethe wanders thro' the veins ;
Unactive in the services of life,
Unfit to lead its pitchy current through
The secret mazy channels of the brain.
The melancolic Fiend (That worst despair
Of physic,) hence the rust complexion'd man
Pursues, whose blood is dry, whose abres gain
Too stretc'h a tone: and hence in climes adust
So sudden tumults seize the trembling nerves,
And burning fevers glow with double rage.
Fly, if you can, these violent extremes
Of Air ; the wholesome is normoist nor dry.
But as the power of chusing is deny'd
To half mankind, a farther task ensues ;
How best to mitigate these fell extremes,
How breath unhurt, the withering element,
Or hazy atmosphere: though Custom moulds
To ev'ry clime the soft Promothean clay ;
And he who first the fogs of Essex breath'd
(So kind is native air) may in the fens
Of Essex from the inveterate ills revive
pure Montpelier or Bermuda caught.
But if the raw and oozy heaven offend ;
Correct the soil, and dry the sources up
Of watery exhalations; wide and deep
Conduct your trenches through the quaking bog;
Solicitous, with all your winding arts.
Betray th' unwilling lake into the stream ;
And weed the forest, and invoke the winds
To break the toils where strangled vapours lie ;
Or through the thickets send the crackling flames.
Mean time at home with cheerful fire dispel
The humid air: and let your table smoke
With solid roast or bak'd ; or what the herds
Of tamer breed supply ; or what the wilds
Yield to the toilsome pleasures of the chace.
Generous your wine, the boast of ripening years,
Bu frugal be your cups ; the languid frame,
Vapid and sunk from yesterday's debauch,
Shrinks from the cold embrace of watery heaven.
But neither these nor all Apollo's arts,
Disarm the dangers of the dropping sky,
Unless with exercise and manly toil
You brace your nerves, and spur the lagging blood.
The fat’ning clime let all the sons of ease
Avoid ; if indolence would wish to live.
Go, yawn and loiter out the long slow year
In fairer skies. If droughty regions parch
The skin and lungs, and break the thickening blood ;
Deep in the waving forests chuse your seat
Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air ;
And wake the fountains from their secret beds,
And into lakes dilate the rapid stream
Here spread your gardens wide; and let the cool,
The moist relaxing vegetable store,
Prevail in each repast : Your food supplied
By bleeding life, be gently wasted down,
By soft decoction and a mellowing heat,
To liquid balm ; or, if the solid mass
You chuse, tormented in the boiling waye ;
That thro' the thirsty channels of the blood
A smooth diluted chyle may flow,
The fragrant dairy from its cool recess
Its nectar acid or benign will pour
To drown your thirst; or let the mantling bowl
Of keen Sherbert the fickle taste relieve.
For with the viscous blood the simple stream
Will hardly mingle ; and fermented cups
Oft dissipate more moisture than they give.
Yet when pale seasons rise, or winter rolls
His horrors o'er the world, thou may'st indulge
In feasts more genial, bud impatient broach
The mellow cask. Then too the scourging air
Provokes to keener toils than sultry droughts
Allow. But rarely we such skies blaspheme.
Steep'd in continual rains, or with raw fogs
Bedew'd, our seasons droop: incumbent still
A ponderous heaven o'erwhelms the sinking soul.
Lab'ring with storms in heapy mountains rise
Th' imbattled clouds, as if the Stygian shades
Had left the dungeon of eternal night,
Till black with thunder all the south descends.
Scarce is a showerless day the heavens indulge
Our melting clime; except the baleful East
Withers the tender spring, and sourly checks
The fancy of the year. Our fathers talk
Of summers, balmy airs, and skies serene.
Good heaven! for what unexpiated crimes
This dismal change! The brooding elements
Do they, your powerful ministers of wrath,
Prepare some fierce exterminating plague ?
Or is it fix'd in the Decrees above
That lofty Albion melt into the main ?
Indulgent nature ! O dissolve this gloon ?
Bind in eternal adamant the winds
That drown or wither : Give the genial West
To breathe, and in its turn the sprightly North :
And may once more the circling seasons rule
The year ; not mix in every monstrous day.
Meantime the moist malignity to shun
Of burthen'd skies; mark where the dry champain
Swells into cheerful hills ; where Marjoram
And Thyme, the love of bees prefume the air ;
And where the * Cynorrhodon with the rose
* The wild rose, or that which grows on the common briar.