The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.
and were telling the story of the place, Baucis saw Philemon begin to put forth leaves, and old Philemon saw Baucis changing in like manner.  And now a leafy crown had grown over their heads, while exchanging parting words, as long as they could speak.  “Farewell, dear spouse,” they said, together, and at the same moment the bark closed over their mouths.  The Tyanean shepherd still shows the two trees, standing side by side, made out of the two good old people.

The story of Baucis and Philemon has been imitated by Swift, in a burlesque style, the actors in the change being two wandering saints, and the house being changed into a church, of which Philemon is made the parson.  The following may serve as a specimen: 

    “They scarce had spoke, when, fair and soft,
     The roof began to mount aloft;
     Aloft rose every beam and rafter;
     The heavy wall climbed slowly after. 
     The chimney widened and grew higher,
     Became a steeple with a spire. 
     The kettle to the top was hoist. 
     And there stood fastened to a joist,
     But with the upside down, to show
     Its inclination for below;
     In vain, for a superior force,
     Applied at bottom, stops its course;
     Doomed ever in suspense to dwell,
     ’Tis now no kettle, but a bell. 
     A wooden jack, which had almost
     Lost by disuse the art to roast,
     A sudden alteration feels
     Increased by new intestine wheels;
     And, what exalts the wonder more. 
     The number made the motion slower;
     The flier, though’t had leaden feet,
     Turned round so quick you scarce could see’t;
     But slackened by some secret power,
     Now hardly moves an inch an hour. 
     The jack and chimney, near allied,
     Had never left each other’s side: 
     The chimney to a steeple grown,
     The jack would not be left alone;
     But up against the steeple reared,
     Became a clock, and still adhered;
     And still its love to household cares
     By a shrill voice at noon declares,
     Warning the cook-maid not to burn
     That roast meat which it cannot turn;
     The groaning chair began to crawl,
     Like a huge snail, along the wall;
     There stuck aloft in public view,
     And with small change, a pulpit grew. 
     A bedstead of the antique mode,
     Compact of timber many a load,
     Such as our ancestors did use,
     Was metamorphosed into pews,
     Which still their ancient nature keep
     By lodging folks disposed to sleep.”

CHAPTER VII

PROSERPINE—­GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA

When Jupiter and his brothers had defeated the Titans and banished them to Tartarus, a new enemy rose up against the gods.  They were the giants Typhon, Briareus, Enceladus, and others.  Some of them had a hundred arms, others breathed out fire.  They were finally subdued and buried alive under Mount Aetna, where they still sometimes struggle to get loose, and shake the whole island with earthquakes.  Their breath comes up through the mountain, and is what men call the eruption of the volcano.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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