« PreviousContinue »
And groves, unvisited by bard or sage.
Amid the towery ruins, huge, supreme,
Th' enormous amphitheatre behold,
Mountainous pile! o'er whose capacious womb
Pours the broad firmament its varied light;
While from the central floor the seats ascend
Round above round, slow-widening to the verge
A circuit vast and high; nor less had held
Imperial Rome, and her attendant realms,
When drunk with rule she will'd the fierce delight,
And op'd the gloomy caverns, whence out-rush'd
Before th' innumerable shouting crowd
The fiery, madded, tyrants of the wilds,
Lions and tygers, wolves and elephants,
And desperate men, more fell. Abhorr'd intent!
By frequent converse with familiar death,
To kindle brutal daring apt for war;
To lock the breast, and steel th' obdurate heart
Amid the piercing cries of sore distress
Impenetrable. But away thine eye;
Behold yon steepy cliff; the modern pile
Perchance may now delight, while that *, rever'd
In ancient days, the page alone declares,
Or narrow coin through dim cerulean rust.
The fane was Jove's, its spacious golden roof,
O'er thick-surrounding temples beaming wide,
Appear'd, as when above the morning hills
Half the round Sun ascends; and tower'd aloft,
Sustain'd by columns huge, innumerous
As cedars proud on Canaan's verdant heights
Darkening their idols, when Astarte lur'd
Too-prosperous Israel from his living strength.
And next regard yon venerable dome,
Which virtuous Latium, with erroneous aim,
Rais'd to her various deities, and nam'd
Pantheon; plain and round; of this our world
Majestic emblem; with peculiar grace
Before its ample orb, projected stands
The many-pillar'd portal: noblest work
Of human skill: here, curious architect,
If thou essay'st, ambitious, to surpass
Palladius, Angelus, or British Jones,
On these fair walls extend the certain scale,
And turn th' instructive compass: careful mark
How far in hidden art, the noble plain
Extends, and where the lovely forms commence
Of flowing sculpture: nor neglect to note
How range the taper columns, and what weight
Their leafy brows sustain: fair Corinth first
Boasted their order, which Callimachus
(Reclining studious on Asopus' banks
Beneath an urn of some lamented nymph)
Haply compos'd; the urn with foliage curl'd
Thinly conceal'd, the chapiter inform'd.
See the tall obelisks from Memphis old,
One stone enormous each, or Thebes convey'd;
Like Albion's spires they rush into the skies.
And there the temple +, where the summon'd state
In deep of night conven'd: e'en yet methinks
The vehement orator in rent attire
Persuasion pours, Ambition sinks her crest;
And lo the villain, like a troubled sea,
That tosses up her mire! Ever disguis'd,
Shall Treason walk? Shall proud Oppression yoke
The neck of Virtue? Lo the wretch, abash'd,
Self-betray'd Catiline! O Liberty,
* The Capitol.
The Temple of Concord, where the senate met on Catiline's conspiracy.
Parent of Happiness, celestial-born;
When the first man became a living soul,
His sacred genius thou;-be Britain's care;
With her, secure, prolong thy lov'd retreat;
Thence bless mankind; while yet among her sons,
E'en yet there are, to shield thine equal laws,
Whose bosoms kindle at the sacred names
Of Cecil, Raleigh, Walsingham, and Drake.
May others more delight in tuneful airs;
In masque and dance excel; to sculptur'd stone
Give with superior skill the living look;
More pompous piles erect, or pencil soft
With warmer touch the visionary board:
But thou, thy nobler Britons teach to rule;
To check the ravage of tyrannic sway;
To quell the proud; to spread the joys of peace,
And various blessings of ingenious trade.
Be these our arts; and ever may we guard,
Ever defend thee with undaunted heart!
Inestimable good! who giv'st us Truth,
Whose hand upleads to light, divinest Truth,
Array'd in every charm: whose hand benign
Teaches unwearied Toil to clothe the fields,
And on his various fruits inscribes the name
Of Property: O nobly hail'd of old
By thy majestic daughters, Judah fair,
And Tyrus and Sidonia, lovely nymphs,
And Libya bright, and all-enchanting Greece,
Whose numerous towns and isles, and peopled seas,
Rejoic'd around her lyre; th' heroic note
(Smit with sublime delight) Ausonia caught,
And plann'd imperial Rome. Thy hand benign
Rear'd up her towery battlements in strength;
Bent her wide bridges o'er the swelling stream
Of Tuscan Tiber; thine those solemn domes
Devoted to the voice of humbler prayer!
And thine those piles undeck'd, capacious, vast,
In days of dearth where tender Charity
Dispens'd her timely succours to the poor.
Thine too those musically falling founts,
To slake the clammy lip; adown they fall,
Musical ever; while from yon blue hills,
Dim in the clouds, the radiant aqueducts
Turn their innumerable arches o'er
The spacious desert, brightening in the Sun,
Proud and more proud in their august approach:
High o'er irriguous vales and woods and towns,
Glide the soft whispering waters in the wind,
And here united pour their silver streams
Among the figur'd rocks, in murmuring falls,
Musical ever. These thy beauteous works:
And what beside felicity could tell
Of human benefit: more late the rest;
At various times their turrets chanc'd to rise,
When impious Tyranny vouchsaf'd to smile.
Behold by Tiber's flood, where modern Rome§
Couches beneath the ruins: there of old
With arms and trophies gleam'd the field of Mars:
There to their daily sports the noble youth
Rush'd emulous; to fling the pointed lance;
To vault the steed; or with the kindling wheel
In dusty whirlwinds sweep the trembling goal;
Or, wrestling, cope with adverse swelling breasts,
Strong grappling arms, close heads, and distant feet;
Or clash the lifted gauntlets: there they form'd
Their ardent virtues: in the bossy piles,
The public granaries.
§ Modern Rome stands chiefly on the old Cam pus Martius,
The proud triumphal arches; all their wars,
Their conquests, honours, in the sculptures live.
And see from every gate those ancient roads,
With tombs high verg'd, the solemn paths of Fame:
Deserve they not regard? O'er whose broad flints
Such crowds have roll'd, so many storms of war;
So many pomps; so many wondering realms :
Yet still through mountains pierc'd, o'er valleys
In even state, to distant seas around, [Peace
They stretch their pavements. Lo, the fane of
Built by that prince, who to the trust of power
Was honest, the delight of human-kind.
Three nodding aisles remain; the rest a heap
Of sand and weeds; her shrines, her radiant roofs,
And columns proud, that from her spacious floor,
As from a shining sea, majestic rose
A hundred foot aloft, like stately beech
Around the brim of Dion's glassy lake,
Charming the mimic painter: on the walls
Hung Salem's sacred spoils; the golden board,
And golden trumpets, now conceal'd, entomb'd
By the sunk roof. — O'er which in distant view
Th' Etruscan mountains swell, with ruins crown'd
Of ancient towns; and blue Soracte spires,
Wrapping his sides in tempests. Eastward hence,
Nigh where the Cestian pyramid † divides
The mouldering wall, beyond yon fabric huge,
Whose dust the solemn antiquarian turns,
And thence, in broken sculptures cast abroad,
Like Sibyl's leaves, collects the builder's name
Rejoic'd, and the green medals frequent found
Doom Caracalla to perpetual fame :
The stately pines, that spread their branches wide
In the dun ruins of its ample halls,
Appear but tufts; as may whate'er is high
Sink in comparison, minute and vile.
These, and unnumber'd, yet their brows uplift,
Rent of their graces; as Britannia's oaks
On Merlin's mount, or Snowdon's rugged sides,
Stand in the clouds, their branches scatter'd round,
After the tempest; Mausoleums, Cirques,
Naumachios, Forums; Trajan's column tall,
From whose low base the sculptures wind aloft,
And lead through various toils, up the rough steep,
Its hero to the skies: and his dark tower §
Whose execrable hand the city fir'd,
And while the dreadful conflagration blaz'd,
Play'd to the flames; and Phabus' letter'd dome
And the rough reliques of Carinæ's street,
Where now the shepherd to his nibbling sheep
Sits piping with his oaten reed; as erst
There pip'd the shepherd to his nibbling sheep,
When th' humble roof Anchises' son explor'd
Of good Evander, wealth-despising king,
Amid the thickets: so revolves the scene;
So Time ordains, who rolls the things of pride
From dust again to dust. Behold that heap
Of mouldering urns (their ashes blown away,
Dust of the mighty) the same story tell;
And at its base, from whence the serpent glides
Down the green desert street, yon hoary monk
Laments the same, the vision as he views,
The solitary, silent, solemn scene,
Begun by Vespasian, and finished by Titus. The tomb of Cestius, partly within and partly without the walls.
The baths of Caracalla, a vast ruin. $ Nero's. The Palatin library.
Where Caesars, heroes, peasants, hermits lie,
Blended in dust together; where the slave
Rests from his labours; where th' insulting proud
Resigns his power; the miser drops his hoard;
Where human folly sleeps. — There is a mood,
(I sing not to the vacant and the young,)
There is a kindly mood of melancholy,
That wings the soul, and points her to the skies;
When tribulation clothes the child of man,
When age descends with sorrow to the grave,
'T is sweetly-soothing sympathy to pain,
A gently-wakening call to health and ease.
How musical! when all-devouring Time,
Here sitting on his throne of ruins hoar,
While winds and tempests sweep his various lyre,
How sweet thy diapason, Melancholy!
Cool evening comes; the setting Sun displays
His visible great round between yon towers,
As through two shady cliffs; away, my Muse,
Though yet the prospect pleases, ever new
In vast variety, and yet delight
The many-figur'd sculptures of the path
Half beauteous, half effac'd; the traveller
Such antique marbles to his native land
Oft hence conveys; and every realm and state
With Rome's august remains, heroes and gods,
Deck their long galleries and winding groves;
Yet miss we not th' innumerable thefts,
Yet still profuse of graces teems the waste.
Suffice it now th' Esquilian mount to reach
With weary wing, and seek the sacred rests
Of Maro's humble tenement; a low
Plain wall remains; a little sun-gilt heap,
Grotesque and wild; the gourd and olive brown
Weave the light roof: the gourd and olive fan
Their amorous foliage, mingling with the vine,
Who drops her purple clusters through the green.
Here let me lie, with pleasing fancy sooth'd:
Here flow'd his fountain; here his laurels grew;
Here oft the meek good man, the lofty bard
Fram'd the celestial song, or social walk'd
With Horace and the ruler of the world:
Happy Augustus! who, so well inspir'd,
Couldst throw thy pomps and royalties aside,
Attentive to the wise, the great of soul,
And dignify thy mind. Thrice glorious days,
Auspicious to the Muses! then rever'd,
Then hallow'd was the fount, or secret shade,
; Or open mountain, or whatever scene
The poet chose, to tune th' ennobling rhyme
Melodious; e'en the rugged sons of war,
E'en the rude hinds rever'd the poet's name:
But now another age, alas! is ours-
Yet will the Muse a little longer soar,
Unless the clouds of care weigh down her wing,
Since Nature's stores are shut with cruel hand,
And each aggrieves his brother; since in vain
The thirsty pilgrim at the fountain asks [dain..
Th' o'erflowing wave — Enough- the plaint dis-
See'st thou yon fane? e'en now incessant time
Sweeps her low mouldering marbles to the dust;
And Phœbus' temple, nodding with its woods,
Threatens huge ruin o'er the small rotund.
'T was there beneath a fig-tree's umbrage broad,
Th' astonish'd swains with reverend awe beheld
Thee, O Quirinus, and thy brother-twin,
Pressing the teat within a monster's grasp
The temple of Romulus and Remus under Mount Palatin.
Sportive; while oft the gaunt and rugged wolf Turn'd her stretch'd neck and form'd your tender limbs ;
So taught of Jove e'en the fell savage fed
Your sacred infancies, your virtues, toils,
The conquests, glories, of th' Ausonian state,
Wrapp'd in their secret seeds. Each kindred soul,
Robust and stout, ye grapple to your hearts,
And little Rome appears. Her cots arise,
Green twigs of osier weave the slender walls,
Green rushes spread the roofs; and here and there
Opens beneath the rock the gloomy cave.
Elate with joy Etruscan Tiber views
Her spreading scenes enamelling his waves,
Her huts and hollow dells, and flocks and herds,
And gathering swains; and rolls his yellow car
To Neptune's court with more majestic train.
Her speedy growth alarm'd the states around,
Jealous; yet soon, by wondrous virtue won,
They sink into her bosom. From the plough
Rose her dictators; fought, o'ercame, return'd,
Yes, to the plough return'd, and hail'd their peers;
For then no private pomp, no household state,
The public only swell'd the generous breast.
Who has not heard the Fabian heroes sung?
Dentatus' scars, or Mutius' flaming hand?
How Manlius sav'd the Capitol? the choice
Of steady Regulus? As yet they stood,
Simple of life; as yet seducing wealth
Was unexplor'd, and shame of poverty
Yet unimagin'd. Shine not all the fields
With various fruitage? murmur not the brooks
Along the flowery valleys? They, content,
Feasted at Nature's hand, indelicate,
Blithe, in their easy taste; and only sought
To know their duties; that their only strife,
Their generous strife, and greatly to perform.
They through all shapes of peril and of pain,
Intent on honour, dar'd in thickest death
To snatch the glorious deed. Nor Trebia quell'd,
Nor Thrasymene, nor Cannæ's bloody field,
Their dauntless courage; storming Hannibal
In vain the thunder of the battle roll'd,
The thunder of the battle they return'd
Back on his Punic shores; till Carthage fell,
And danger fled afar. The city gleam'd
With precious spoils : alas, prosperity!
Ah, baneful state! yet ebb'd not all their strength
In soft luxurious pleasures; proud desire
Of boundless sway, and feverish thirst of gold,
Rous'd them again to battle. Beauteous Greece,
Torn from her joys, in vain with languid arm
Half rais'd her rusty shield; nor could avail
The sword of Dacia, nor the Parthian dart;
Nor yet the car of that fam'd British chief,
Which seven brave years, beneath the doubtful wing
Of Victory, dreadful roll'd its griding wheels
Over the bloody war: the Roman arms
Triumph'd, till Fame was silent to their foes.
And now the world unrivall'd they enjoy'd
In proud security: the crested helm,
The plated greave and corslet hung unbrac'd ;
Nor clank'd their arms, the spear and sounding shield,
But on the glittering trophy to the wind.
Dissolv'd in ease and soft delights they lie, Till every sun annoys, and every wind Has chilling force, and every rain offends: For now the frame no more is girt with strength Masculine, nor in lustiness of heart Laughs at the winter storm, and summer-beam, Superior to their rage: enfeebling vice
Withers each nerve, and opens every pore
To painful feeling: flowery bowers they seek
(As ether prompts, as the sick sense approves)
Or cool Nymphean grots; or tepid baths
(Taught by the soft Ionians); they, along
The lawny vale, of every beauteous stone,
Pile in the roseat air with fond expense:
Through silver channels glide the vagrant waves,
And fall on silver beds crystalline down,
Melodious murmuring; while Luxury
Over their naked limbs with wanton hand
Sheds roses, odours, sheds unheeded bane.
Swift is the flight of wealth; unnumber'd wants,
Brood of voluptuousness, cry out aloud
Necessity, and seek the splendid bribe.
The citron board, the bowl emboss'd with gems,
And tender foliage wildly wreath'd around
Of seeming ivy, by that artful hand,
Corinthian Thericles; whate'er is known
Of rarest acquisition; Tyrian garbs,
Neptunian Albion's high testaceous food,
And flavour'd Chian wines with incense fum'd
To slake patrician thirst; for these, their rights
In the vile streets they prostitute to sale,
Their ancient rights, their dignities, their laws,
Their native glorious freedom. Is there none,
Is there no villain, that will bind the neck
Stretch'd to the yoke? they come; the market throngs
But who has most by fraud or force amass'd?
Who most can charm corruption with his doles?
He be the monarch of the state; and lo!
| Didius, vile usurer, through the crowd he mounts,
Beneath his feet the Roman eagle cowers,
And the red arrows fill his grasp uncouth.
O Britons, O my countrymen, beware;
Gird, gird your hearts; the Romans once were free,
Were brave, were virtuous. Tyranny, howe'er,
Deign'd to walk forth awhile in pageant state,
And with licentious pleasures fed the rout,
The thoughtless many: to the wanton sound
Of fifes and drums they danc'd, or in the shade
Sung Cæsar, great and terrible in war,
Immortal Cæsar! Lo, a god, a god,
He cleaves the yielding skies! Cæsar meanwhile
Gathers the ocean pebbles; or the gnat
Enrag'd pursues; or at his lonely meal
Starves a wide province; tastes, dislikes, and flings
To dogs and sycophants. A god, a god!
The flowery shades and shrines obscene return.
But see along the north the tempests swell O'er the rough Alps, and darken all their snows! Sudden the Goth and Vandal, dreaded names, Rush as the breach of waters, whelming all Their domes, their villas; down the festive piles, Down fall their Parian porches, gilded baths, And roll before the storm in clouds of dust.
Vain end of human strength, of human skill, Conquest, and triumph, and domain, and pomp, And ease, and luxury! O Luxury, Bane of elated life, of affluent states, What dreary change, what ruin is not thine? How doth thy bowl intoxicate the mind! To the soft entrance of thy rosy cave How dost thou lure the fortunate and great! Dreadful attraction! while behind thee gapes Th' unfathomable gulph where Asber lies O'erwhelm'd, forgotten; and high-boasting Cham; And Elam's haughty pomp; and beauteous Greece; And the great queen of Earth, imperial Rome.
* Didius Julianus, who bought the empire.
WILLIAM SHENSTONE, a popular and agreeable the life which he invariably pursued, and which
consisted in improving the picturesque beauties of
the Leasowes, exercising his pen in casual effusions
of verse and prose, and cultivating such society as
lay within his reach. The fame of the Leasowes
was widely spread by an elaborate description of
Dodsley's, which drew multitudes of visitors to the
place; and the house being originally only a farm,
became inadequate to his grounds, and required en-
largement. Hence he lay continually under the
pressure of narrow circumstances, which preyed
upon his spirits, and rendered him by no means a
happy inhabitant of the little Eden he had created.
Gray, from the perusal of his letters, deduces the
following, perhaps too satirical, account.
man! he was always wishing for money, for fame,
and other distinctions; and his whole philosophy
consisted in living against his will in retirement,
and in a place which his taste had adorned, but
which he only enjoyed when people of note came to
see and commend it."
poet, was born at Hales-Owen, Shropshire, in 1714.
His father was an uneducated gentleman farmer,
who cultivated an estate of his own, called the Lea-
sowes. William, after passing through other in-
struction, was removed to that of a clergyman at
Solihull, from whom he acquired a fund of classical
literature, together with a taste for the best English
In 1732 he was entered of Pembroke
College, Oxford, where he formed one of a set of
young men who met in the evenings at one another's
chambers, and read English works in polite litera-
ture. He also began to exercise his poetical talent
upon some light topics; but coming to the posses-
sion of his paternal property, with some augment-
ation, he indulged himself in rural retirement, and
forgetting his calls to college residence, he took up
his abode at a house of his own, and commenced
gentleman. In 1737 he printed anonymously a
small volume of juvenile poems, which was little
noticed. His first visit to London, in 1740, intro-
duced him to the acquaintance of Dodsley, who
printed his "Judgment of Hercules," dedicated to
his Hagley neighbour, Mr. (afterwards Lord) Little-
ton. It was followed by a work written before it,
"The School-mistress,' a piece in Spenser's style
and stanza, the heroine of which was a village
dame, supposed to have given him his first instruc-
tion. The vein of benevolence and good sense, and
the touches of the pathetic, by which this perform-
ance is characterised, render it extrembly pleasing,
and perhaps place it at the head of his compositions.
After amusing himself with a few rambles to
places of public resort, Shenstone now sat down to
IN IMITATION OF SPENSER.
Auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens, Infantumque animæ flentes in limine primo. VIRG.
What particulars in Spenser were imagined most proper for the author's imitation on this occasion, are his language, his simplicity, his manner of description, and a peculiar tenderness of sentiment remarkable throughout his works.
AH me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,
To think how modest Worth neglected lies
While partial Fame doth with her blasts adorn
Such deeds alone, as pride and pomp disguise;
Deeds of ill sort, and mischievous emprise:
Shenstone died of a fever in February, 1763, in his fiftieth year, and was interred in the churchyard of Hales-Owen. Monuments to his memory were erected by several persons who loved the man, and esteemed his poetry. Of the latter, the general opinion is now nearly uniform. It is regarded as commonly correct, elegant, melodious, and tender in sentiment, and often pleasing and natural in description, but verging to the languid and feeble. His prose writings, published in a separate volume, display good sense and cultivated taste, and sometimes contain new and acute observations on mankind.
Lend me thy clarion, goddess! let me try
To sound the praise of Merit, ere it dies,
Such as I oft have chaunced to espy,
Lost in the dreary shades of dull Obscurity.
In every village inark'd with little spire,
Embower'd in trees, and hardly known to Fame,
There dwells in lowly shed, and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we School-mistress name;
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame;
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent,
Aw'd by the power of this relentless dame;
And oft-times, on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or task unconn'd, are sorely shent.
And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
Which Learning near her little dome did stowe ;
Whilom a twig of small regard to see,
Though now so wide its waving branches flow;