Want entered into Luxury’s palace asking for help. Getting none, Want declared that the gods had decreed Luxury’s palace her new home.
Where there is luxury, there is also want.
Aloft on proud Corinthian columns rear’d,
A sumptuous dome in ruin’d pomp appear’d;
A baseltllls pillar here, with moss o’ergrown,
Press’d earth’s green bosom with a length of stone:
There a tall portal, sculptur’d once so gay,
Records no story hut its own decay.
Here enter’d crowds, who blush’d to be descried,
With famish’d looks, thro’ mould’ring arches glide;
And ‘midst the piteous sights that gleam’d around,
One wretched hag lay stretch’d along the ground,
Round either arm a tatter’d rug she drew;
Her shame conceal’d with rags of various hue,
A cloth her forehead bound, her legs were bare,
And foul and clotted was her grizzled hair.
‘What! none to pity, is all help denied?
‘Want is my name!’ in agony she cried,
‘The work of Luxury, this lofty dome,
‘So righteous Jove ordains, is now my home.
‘Time was, this roof return’d the dulcet voice
‘Of music, blended with a critic’s choice:
‘Dependent thence a thousand tapers glow’d,
‘The vine’s rich juice from silver fountains flow’d,
‘An hundred dainties o’er the board were spread,
‘And all Arabia spicy fragrance shed.
‘The velvet couches and the cushion’d chair
‘Swell’d high with down, as soft as summer’s air;
‘And female beauty, smiling o’er the scene,
‘Spread joy around, of ev’ry joy the queen!
‘Then at the doors, by hunger and by grief
‘Oppress’d, with suppliant voice I sought relief;
‘Relief I sought, alas! but sought in vain,
‘With poignant taunt rebuk’d, and sour disdain.
‘The batt’ning priest, with supercilious face,
‘Inferr’d from indigence the want of grace;
‘The lawyer, in quaint terms, with look demure,
‘Gave hints of statutes against vagrant poor:
‘Unmov’d and cool the garter’d statesman cried,
‘For me fit refuge colonies supplied.
‘I sigh’d in secret, and to heav’n my heart
‘Ascending, heav’n in pity took my part;
‘Loud thunder roll’d—the fabric from its base
‘Shook; and proud Luxury vanish’d from the place:
‘Th’ astonish’d crowd their patron’s fall deplore,
‘And pale and trembling issue from the door.
‘I enter’d, prompted by a voice divine,
‘Which thrice repeated.’—’Want, this pile is thine;
‘For know, by Jove and fate it stands decreed,
‘Where Lux’ry riots thou shall still succeed.
‘Here unmolested from that hour I reign,
‘And all the court of Lux’ry forms my train;
‘Here still receiv’d by me, as hither driv’n,
‘By keen necessity the scourge of heav’n:
‘Such are the wretches which around me throng,
‘Vot’ries to Luxury to me belong.
‘If Luxury’s wiles thy frailty can persuade,
‘Know want will follow and thy steps invade.’
She ceas’d, her words such strong emotions bred,
They wak’d me trembling, and the vision fled;
Save me from Lux’ry, gracious heav’n! I pray’d,
That Want’s dire haunts my steps may ne’er invade.