Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

These roads that yet the Roman hand affert,
Beyond the weak repair of modern toil ;
These fractur'd arches, that the chiding stream

235
No more delighted hear; these rich remains
Of marbles now unknown, where shines imbib'd
Each parent ray; these massy columns, hew'd
From Afric's farthest shore; one granite all,
These obelisks high-towering to the sky.

240 Mysterious mark'd with dark Egyptian lore; These endless wonders that this sacred way Illumine still, and consecrate to fame; These fountains, vases, urns, and statues, charg'd With the fine stores of art-compleating Greece.

245 Mine is, besides, thy every later boast : Thy Buonarotis, thy Palladios mine ; And mine the fair designs, which Raphael's soul O'er the live canvass, emanating, breath’d.

What would you say, ye conquerors of earth! 250
Ye Romans! could you raise the laurel'd head;
Could

you the country fee, by seas of blood,
And the dread toil of ages, won so dear;
Your pride, your triumph, and supreme delight!
For whofe defence oft, in the doubtful hour,

255
You rulh'd with raprure down the gulph of fate,
Of death ambitious ! till by aweful deeds,
Virtues, and courage, that amaze mankind,
The queen of nations rose; possest of all
Which nature, art, and glory could bestow: 260
What would you say, deep in the last abyss
Of Navery, vice, and unambitious want,

Thus

Thus to behold her funk? Your crowded plains,
Void of their cities; unadorn'd your hills ;
Ungrac'd your lakes; your ports to ships unknown;
Your lawless floods, and your abandon'd streams :
These could you know? these could you love again?
Thy Tibur, Horace, could it now inspire,
Content, poetic ease, and rural joy,
Soon bursting into fong; while through the groves 270
Of headlong Anio, dashing to the vale,
In many a tortur'd stream, you mus'd along?
Yon wild retreat, where superstition dreams,
Could, Tully, you your Tusculum believe?
And could

you
deem
yon

naked hills, that form, 255
Fam'd in old song, the ship-forsaken bay,
Your Formian shore ? Once the delight of earth,
Where art and nature, ever-finiling, join'd
On the gay land to lavish all their stores.
How chang’d, how vacant, Virgil, wide around, 280
Would now your Naples seem? Disaster'd less
By black Vesuvius thundering o’er the coast,
His midnight earthquakes, and his mining fires,
Than by defpotic rage : that inward gnaws,
A native foe: a foreign, tears without.

285 Firft from your flatter'd Cæsars this began; Till, doom'd to tyrants an eternal prey, Thin-peopled spreads, at last, the fyren plain, That the dire foul of Hannibal disarm’d; And wrapt in weeds the shore of Venus lies. 290 There Baiæ fees no more the joyous throng ;, Her bank all beaming with the pride of Rome :

No

No generous vines now bask along the hills,
Where sport the breezes of the Tyrrhene main :
With baths and temples mix'd, no villas rise; 293
Nor, art-sustain'd amid reluctant waves,
Draw the cool murmurs of the breathing deep:
No spreading ports their sacred arms extend :
No mighty moles the big intrusive storm,
From the calm station, roll resounding back. 300
An almost total desolation fits,
A dreary stillness, faddening o'er the coast ;
Where, when soft funs and tepid winters rose,
Rejoicing crowds inhal’d the balm of peace;
Where city'd hill to hill reflected blaze;

305
And where, with Ceres, Bacchus wont to hold
A genial strife. Her youthful form, robust,
Ev'n nature yields ; by fire and earthquake rent:
Whose stately cities in the dark abrupt
Swallow'd at once, or vile in rubbish laid,

3 TO
A nelt for serpents ; from the red abyss
New hills, explosive, thrown; the Lucrine lake
A reedy pool; and all to Cuma's point,
The sea recovering his ufurp'd domain,
And pour'd triumphant o'er the bury'd dome. 315

Hence, Britain, learn; my best-establish'd, last,
And more than Greece, or Rome, iny steady reign;
The land where, king and people equal bound
By guardian laws, my fullest blessings flow;
And where my jealous unsubmitting soul,
The dread of tyrants ! burns in every breast :
Learn hence, if such the miserable fate

OF

320

Of an heroic race, the masters once
Of human-kind; what, when deprivod of Me,
How grievous must be thine? In spite of climes, 325
Whose sun-enliven'd æther wakes the soul
To higher powers ; in spite of happy soils,
That, but by labour's slightest aid impellid,
With treasures teem to thy cold clime unknown;
If there desponding fail the common arts,

330
And sustenance of life: could life itself,
Far less a thoughtless tyrant's hollow pomp,
Subsist with thee? Against depressing skies,
Join’d to full-spread Oppreffion's cloudy brow,
How could thy spirits hold ? where vigour find, 335
Forc'd fruits to tear from their unnative soil ?
Or, storing every harvest in thy ports,
To plough the dreadful all-producing wave ?

Here paus’d the Goddess. By the pause affur'd, In trembling accents thus I mov’d my prayer. 340 “ Oh, first, and most benevolent of powers ! “ Come from eternal fplendors, here on earth,

Against despotic pride, and rage, and lust, “ To Thield mankind; to raise them to affert “ The native rights and honour of their race : 345 “ Teach me thy lowest subject, but in zeal

Yielding to none, the Progress of thy Reign, 66 And with a strain from Thee enrich the Muse. “ As Thee alone she serves, her patron, Thou, " And great inspirer be! then will she joy, 350 “ Through narrow life her lot, and private shade : * And when her venal voice the barters vile,

“ Or to thy open or thy secret foes :
May ne'er those facred raptures touch her more,
“ By slavish hearts unfelt! and may

her song 355 " Sink in oblivion with the nameless crew ! “ Vermin of state! to thy o'erflowing light “ That owe their being, yet betray thy cause.”

Then, condescending kind, the Heavenly Power Return'd." What here, suggested by the scene, 360 “ I slight unfold, record and sing at home, “ In that best isle, where (so we spirits move) “ With one quick effort of my will I am. There Truth, unlicens’d, walks ; and dares accost Ev'n kings themselves, the monarchs of the free ! “ Fix'd on my rock, there, an indulgent race “ O’er Britons wield the sceptre of their choice : “ And there, to finish what his fires began, " A Prince behold! for Me who burns fincere, “ Ey'n with a fubject's zeal. He my great work 370 “ Will parent-like sustain; and added give “ The touch, the Graces and the Muses owe. “ For Britain's glory swells his panting breast; “ And ancient arts he emulous revolves : “ His pride to let the smiling heart abroad; 375 “ Through clouds of pomp, that but conceal the man; “ To please his pleasure ; bounty his delight; “ And all the soul of Titus dwells in him.”

Hail, glorious theme ! but how, alas ! shall verse, From the crude stores of mortal language drawn, 380 Haw faint and tedious, fing, what, piercing deep, The Goddess falh'd at once upon my soul.

For,

« ForrigeFortsett »