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And nigh an ancient obelisk
Was rais’d by him, found out by Fisk,
On which was written not in words,
But hieroglyphic mute of birds,
Many rare pithy saws, concerning
The worth of astrologic learning :
From top of this there hung a rope,
To which he fasten'd telescope ;
The spectacles with which the stars
He reads in smallest characters.
It happen'd as a boy, one night,
Did fly his tarsel of a kite,
The strangest long-wing’d hawk that flies, 415
That, like a bird of Paradise,
Or herald's martlet, has no legs,
Nor hatches young ones, nor lays eggs ;
His train was six yards long, milk white,
At th' end of which there hung a light, 420
Enclos'd in lantern made of paper,
That far off like a star did appear :
This Sidrophel by chance espy'd,
And with amazement staring wide :
Bless us, quoth he, what dreadful wonder
Is that appears in heaven yonder ?
A comet, and without a beard !
Or star, that ne'er before appear’d!
I'm certain 'tis not in the scrowl
Of all those beasts, and fish, and fowl,
With which, like Indian plantations,
The learned stock the constellations ;
Nor those that, drawn for signs, have been
To th' houses where the planets inn.
It must be supernatural,
Unless it be that cannon-ball
That, shot i' th' air, point-blank upright,
Was borne to that prodigious height,
That, learn'd philosophers maintain,
It ne'er came backwards down again,
But in the airy regions yet
Hangs, like the body o' Mahomet:
For if it be above the shade,
That by the earth's round bulk is made,
'Tis probable it may from far,
Appear no bullet, but a star.
This faid, he to his engine flew,
Plac'd near at hand, in open view,
And rais'd it, till it levell'd right
Against the glow-worm tail of kite;
Then peeping thro', bless us ! quoth he,
It is a planet now I see ;
And, if I err not, by his proper
Figure, that 's like tobacco-stopper,
It should be Saturn: yes, 'tis clear
'Tis Saturn; but what makes him there?
He's got behind the dragon's tail,
And farther leg behind o'th' whale ;
Pray heav'n divert the fatal omen,
For ’tis a prodigy not common,
And can no less than the world's end,
Or nature's funeral, portend.
With that, he fell again to pry
Thro' perspective more wistfully,
When, by mischance, the fatal string, 465
That kept the tow'ring fowl on wing,
Breaking, down fell the star. Well shot,
Quoth Whachum, who right wisely thought
He 'ad levellid at a star, and hit it;
But Sidrophel, more subtle-witted,
Cry'd out, what horrible and fearful
Event is this, to see a star fall!
It threatens nature, and the doom
Will not be long before it come!
When stars do fall, 'tis plain enough
The day of judgment 's not far off ;
As lately 'twas reveald to Sedgwick,
And some of us find out by magick:
Then, since the time we have to live
In this world's shorten'd, let us strive
To make our best advantage of it,
And pay our losses with our profit.
This feat fell out not long before
The knight, upon the forenam'd score,
In quest of Sidrophel advancing,
Was now in prospect of the mansion;
Whom he discov'ring, turn’d his glass,
And found far off 'twas Hudibras.
Whachum, quoth he, look yonder, some
To try or use our art are come :
The one's the learned knight; seek out,
And pump 'em what they come about.