Poems on several occasions: By Stephen Duck.
Duck, Stephen, 1705-1756.
TRUTH and FALSHOOD.
SOON as the Iron Age on Earth began,
And Vice found easy Entrance into Man;
Forth from her Cave infernal FALSHOOD came;
FALSHOOD, the Hate of Gods, of Men the Shame:
A silken Robe she wore, of various Hue,
Its Colour changing with each diff'rent View:
Studious to cheat, and eager to beguile,
She mimic'd TRUTH, and ap'd her heav'nly Smile;
But mimic'd TRUTH in vain; the varying Vest,
To ev'ry searching Eye, the Fiend confest.
AT length she saw celestial TRUTH appear:
Serene her Brow, and chearful was her Air;
Her silver Locks with shining Fillets bound,
With Laurel Wreaths her peaceful Temples crown'd:
A Lily Robe was girded round her Waist;
And, o'er her Arms, a radiant Mantle cast:
With decent Negligence, it hung behind;
And, loosely flowing, wanton'd in the Wind.
Thus TRUTH advanc'd, unknowing of Deceit;
And FALSHOOD, bowing low, began the Cheat:
HAIL, charming Maid, bright as the Morning Star,
Daughter of JOVE, and Heav'n's peculiar Care!
'Tis thine to weigh the World in equal Scales,
And chide the conscious Soul, when Vice prevails,
Dispensing Justice with impartial Hand,
The mightiest Pow'rs submit to thy Command:
Page 151 Ev'n Gods themselves, tho' in their Actions free,
Consult, resolve, and act, as you decree:
Great Sov'reign JOVE, the first Ethereal Name,
Advis'd with thee to form the heav'nly Frame:
As TRUTH approv'd, he bad the Fabric rise,
And spread the azure Mantle of the Skies;
Plac'd ev'ry Planet in its proper Sphere,
Nor rolls this Orb too wide, nor that too near—
But why thus walk we, mindless of our Ease,
Expos'd beneath the Sun's meridian Blaze?
Better retire, and shun the scorching Ray,
Till fanning Zephyrs cool our Ev'ning Way.
Hear how yon limpid Streams run murm'ring by,
And tuneful Birds their sylvan Notes apply;
See fragrant Shrubs along the Borders grow,
And waving Shades beneath the Poplar Bough;
All these invite us to the River's Side,
To bathe our Limbs, and sport within the Tide:
Page 152 So cool the Stream, the flow'ry Banks so sweet,
DIANA's Self might covet the Retreat:
Nor can a short Diversion check your Haste;
Fresh Strength will soon succeed such welcome Rest:
As rapid Currents, held a-while at Bay,
With swifter Force pursue their liquid Way.
So spake the Phantom; and, with friendly Look
Supporting what she said, approach'd the Brook:
TRUTH follow'd, artless, unsuspicious Maid!
And, in an evil Hour, the Voice obey'd.
Both, at the crystal Stream arriv'd, unbound
Their diff'rent Robes; both cast them to the Ground:
The Fiend, upon the Margin, ling'ring stood;
The naked Goddess leapt into the Flood:
Sporting, she swims the liquid Surface o'er,
Unmindful of the matchless Robe she wore.
Page 153 Not FALSHOOD so—She hasty seiz'd the Vest,
And with the beauteous Spoils herself she drest:
Then, wing'd with Joy, outflew the swiftest Wind,
Her own infernal Robe far left behind.
Straight she aspires above her former State,
And gains Admittance to the Rich and Great:
Nay, such her daring Pride, that some report,
When thus equipp'd, she boldly went to Court:
There spake and look'd with such a graceful Air,
Mistaken FAME pronounc'd her Wise and Fair.
She fill'd the Wanton's Tongue with specious Names,
To deal in Wounds, and Deaths, in Darts, and Flames;
He prefac'd all his leud Attempts with Love;
And Fraud prevail'd, where Reason could not move.
At length she mingled with the learned Throng,
And tun'd the Muse's mercenary Song.
In all the Labyrinths of Logic skill'd,
She taught the subtle Reas'ner not to yield;
Page 154 Instructed how to puzzle each Dispute,
And boldly baffle Men, tho' not confute.
Now, at the Bar, she play'd the Lawyer's Part;
And shap'd out Right and Wrong by Rules of Art:
Now, in the Senate, rais'd her pompous Tone;
Talk'd much of Public Good, but meant her Own.
Oft to th' Olympian Field she turn'd her Eyes,
And taught the Racers how to gain the Prize.
In Schools and Temples too she claim'd a Share,
While FALSHOOD's Self admir'd her Influence there.
DELUDED TRUTH observ'd the Fraud too late,
Nor knew she to repair a Loss so great:
In vain her heav'nly Robes she, sighing, seeks;
In vain the humid Pearls bedew her Cheeks;
In vain she tears the Laurel from her Hair,
While Nature seems to sympathize her Care:
Page 155 The glowing Flow'rs, that crown th'enamel'd Meads,
Weep fragrant Dews, and hang their drooping Heads;
The sylvan Choirs, as conscious of her Pains,
Deplore her Loss in melancholy Strains.
Thus, pensive and uncloath'd, upon the Shore
She stands; and sees the Robe, which FALSHOOD wore:
Detested Sight! Nor longer now she mourns;
But, Grief to Rage transform'd, with Anger burns:
Into the Stream, the hellish Robe she tost;
And scorn'd a Habit, so unlike the lost.
HENCE TRUTH now naked roves, as in Disgrace;
None, but the Wise and Virtuous, see her Face:
From Cities far she modestly retreats,
From busy Scenes of Life, to peaceful Seats;
Is chiefly found in lonely Fields and Cells,
Where Silence reigns, and Contemplation dwells.
Page 156 Hence FALSHOOD cheats us in the fair Disguise,
And seems TRUTH's Self to all unwary Eyes;
Triumphs and thrives, in Pow'r, and Wealth, and Fame;
And builds her Glory on her Rival's Name;
With Safety dares to flatter, fawn, and sooth;
For who knows FALSHOOD, when array'd like TRUTH?