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A golden column next in rank appear'd,
On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd;
Finish'd the whole, and labour'd every part,
With patient touches of unwearied art.
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his looks sedate;
On Homer still he fix'd a reverend eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latian wars, and haughty Turnus dead;
Eliza stretch'd upon the funeral pyre;
Eneas bending with his aged sire:
Troy flam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne
'Arms and the man' in golden cyphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright,
With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flight:
Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode,
And seem'd to labour with the inspiring god.
Across the harp a careless hand he flings,
And boldly sinks into the sounding strings.
The figur'd games of Greece the column grace;
Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race:
The youths hang o'er their chariots as they run;
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone;
The champions in distorted postures threat;
And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd the' Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire;
Pleas'd with Alcæus' manly rage to' infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.
The polish'd pillar different sculptures grace,
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling loves and bacchanals appear,
The Julian star, and great Augustus here:
The doves, that round the infant poet spread
Myrtles and bays, hang hovering o'er his head.
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite;
His sacred head a radiant zodiac crown'd,
And various animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone ;
The Roman rostra deck'd the consul's throne:
Gathering his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand.
Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns,
And the great father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise,
O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies:
Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat
With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great;
The vivid emeralds there revive the eye,
The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye,
Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream,
And lucid amber casts a golden gleam.
With various-colour'd light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne;
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.--
When on the goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height;
But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd,
Till to the roof her towering front she rais'd.
With her, the temple every moment grew,
And ampler vistas open'd to my view:
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form, as ancient bards have told;
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold;
A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears,
A thousand open eyes, and thousand listening ears.
Beneath in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine;
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For fame they raise the voice, and tune the string;
With time's first birth began the heavenly lays,
And last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations summon'd at the call,
From different quarters fill the crowded hall,
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd:
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flowery toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or, settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old age.
Their pleas were different, their request the same;
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And, undiscerning, scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear,
And to the goddess thus prefer their prayer :-
"Long have we sought t'instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For fame is all we must expect below."
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal praise:-
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around;
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud,
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud;
By just degrees they every moment rise,
Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies.
At every breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter as they wider spread;
Less fragrant scents the' unfolding rose exhales, Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these the good and just, an awful train, Thus on their knees address'd the sacred fane: "Since living virtue is with envy curs'd,
And the best men are treated like the worst,
Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth,
And give each deed the' exact intrinsic worth."
"Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd,
(Said Fame) but high above desert renown'd:
Let fuller notes the applauding world amaze,
And the loud clarion labour in your praise."
This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd
Preferr'd the same request, and lowly bow'd;
The constant tenor of whose well-spent days
No less deserv'd a just return of praise.
But straight the direful trump of Slander sounds;
Through the big dome the doubling thunder bounds;
Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies,
The dire report through every region flies,
In every ear incessant rumours rung,
And gathering scandals grew on every tongue.
From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke
Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke:
The poisonous vapour blots the purple skies,
And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore,
And proud defiance in their looks they bore:
"For thee (they cried) amidst alarms and strife,
We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life;
For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood,
And swam to empire through the purple flood:
Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own;
What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone."
"Ambitious fools! (the queen replied, and frown'd)
Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd;
There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone,
Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!"
A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight,
And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien: "Great idol of mankind! we neither claim
The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame!
But safe in deserts from the' applause of men,
Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen;
'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight
Those acts of goodness which themselves requite.
O let us still the secret joy partake,
To follow virtue ev'n for virtue's sake."
"And live there men who slight immortal fame? Who then with incense shall adore our name? But, mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride To blaze those virtues which the good would hide. Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath, These must not sleep in darkness and in death." She said in air the trembling music floats,
And on the winds triumphant swell the notes;
So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear,
Ev'n listening angels lean'd from Heav'n to hear:
To farthest shores the' ambrosial spirit flies,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows express'd,
With feathers crown'd, with gay embroidery dress'd:
"Hither, (they cried), direct your eyes, and see
The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry;
Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays,
Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days;
Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
To pay due visits, and address the fair;
In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade,
But still in fancy vanquish'd every maid;
Of unknown duchesses lewd tales we tell,
Yet, would the world believe us, all were well;
The joy let others have, and we the name,
And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame."
The queen assents: the trumpet rends the skies,
And at each blast a lady's honour dies.
Pleas'd with the strange success, vast numbers prest Around the shrine, and made the same request: