Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

CI.

Was she as those who love their lords, or they
Who love the lords of others ? such have been
Even in the olden time, Rome's annals say.
Was she a matron of Cornelia's mien,
Or the light air of Egypt's graceful queen,
Profuse of joy — or 'gainst it did she war,
Inveterate in virtue ? Did she lean

To the soft side of the heart, or wisely bar
Love from amongst her griefs ? - for such the affections are.

CII.

Perchance she died in youth : it may be, bow'd
With woes far heavier than the ponderous tomb
That weigh'd upon her gentle dust, a cloud
Might gather o'er her beauty, and a gloom
In her dark eye, prophetic of the doom
Heaven gives its favourites - early death ; yet shed (')
A sunset charm around her, and illume

With hectic light, the Hesperus of the dead,
Of her consuming check the autumnal leaf-like rod.

CIII.

Perchance she died in age — surviving all,
Charms, kindred, children

with the silver gray
On her long tresses, which might yet recal,
It may be, still a something of the day
When they were braided, and her proud array
And lovely form were envied, praised, and eyed

but whither would Conjecture stray ?
Thus much alone we know Metella died,
The wealthiest Roman's wife : Behold his love or pride!

By Rome

CIV.

I know not why .. but standing thus by thee
It seems as if I had thine inmate known,
Thou tomb ! and other days come back on me
With recollected music, though the tone
Is changed and solemn, like the cloudy groan
Of dying thunder on the distant wind;
Yet could I seat me by this ivied stone

Till I had bodied forth the heated mind
Forms from the floating wreck which Ruin leaves behind;

(1) Ον οι θεοί φιλoύσιν, αποθνήσκει νέος.
Το γαρ θανείν ουκ αισχρόν αλλ αισχρώς θανείν. .
Rich. Franc. Phil. Brunck. Pootw Gnomici, p. 231, odit. 1784.

.CV.

And from the planks, far shatter'd o'er the rocke, Built me a little bark of hope, once more To battle with the ocean and the shocks Of the loud breakers, and the ceaseless roar Which rushes on the solitary shore Where all lies founder'd that was ever dear: But could I gather from the wave-worn store Enough for my rude boat, where should I steer? There woos no home, nor hope, nor life, save what is here.

CVI.

Then let the winds howl on! their harmony
Shall henceforth be my music, and the night
The sound shall temper with the owlets' cry,
As I now hear them, in the fading light
Dim o'er the bird of darkness' native sito,
Answering each other on the Palatine,
With their large eyes, all glistening gray and bright,

And sailing pinions. — Upon such a shrine
What are our petty griefs ? — let me not number mine.

CVII.
Cypress and ivy, weed and wallflower grown
Matted and mass'd together, hillocks heap'd
On what were chambers, arch crush'd, column strown
In fragments, choked up vaults, and frescos steep'd
In subterranean damps, where the owl peep'd,
Deeming it midnight :- Temples, baths, or halls ?
Pronounce who can; for all that Learning reap'd

From her research hath been, that these are walls —
Behold the Imperial Mount ! 'tis thus the mighty falls. (*)

CVIII.

There is the moral of all human tales ; (*)
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past,
First Freedom and then Glory — when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption, - barbarism at last.
And History, with all her volumes vast,
Hath but one page,

-'tis better written here,
Where gorgeous Tyranny hath thus amass'd

All treasures, all delights, that eye or ear, Heart, soul could seek, tongue ask Away with words !

[ocr errors]

draw near,

(1) The Palatino is one mass of ruins, particularly on the side towards the Circus Maximus. The very soil is formed of crumbled brickwork. Nothing has been told, nothing can be told, to satisfy the belief of any but a Roman antiquary. See Historical Illustrations, page 206.

(2) T'ho author of the Life of Cicero, speaking of the opinion entertained of Brr

CIX.

[ocr errors]

Admire, exult-despise-laugh, weep,- for here
There is such matter for all feeling : Man!
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear,
Ages and realms are crowded in this span,
This mountain, whose obliterated plan
The pyramid of empires pinnacled,
Of Glory's gowgaws shinning in the van

Till the sun's rays with added flame were fillid !
Where are its golden roofs ? where those who dared to build ?

CX.

Tully was not so eloquent as thou,
Thou nameless column with the buried base !
What are the laurels of the Cæsar's brow ?
Crown me with ivy from his dwelling-place.
Whose arch or pillar meets me in the face,
Titus or Trajan's? No— 'tis that of Time :
Triumph, arch, pillar, all he doth displace

Scoffing; and apostolic statues climb
To crush the imperial urn, wh pse ashes slept sublime, (")

CXI.

Buried in air, the deep blue sky of Rome,
And looking to the stars : they had contain'd
A spirit which with these would find a home,
The last of those who o'er the whole earth reign’d,
The Roman globe, for after none sustain's,
But yielded back his conquests :- he was more
Than a mere Alexander, and, unstain'd

With household blood and wine, serenely wore
His sovereign virtues --- still we Trajan's name adore. (*)

tain by that orator and his cotemporary Romans, has the following eloquent passage : “ From their railleries of this kind, on the barbarity and misory of our island, ono cannot help reflecting on the surprising fute and revolutions of kingdoms; how Roma, once the mistress of the world, the seat of arts, empire, and glory, now lies sunk in sloth, ignorance, and poverty, enslaved to the most cruel as well as to tho most contemptible of tyrants, superstition and religious imposture : while this remote country, anciently the jest and contempt of the polite Romans, is become the happy seat of liberty, plenty, and letters; flourishing in all the arts and refinements of civil liso, yet running perhaps the same course which Rome itself had run before it, froin vir. iuous industry to wealth ; from wealth to luxury; from luxury to an impatience of discipline, and corruption of morals : till, by a total degeneracy and loss of virtue, being grown ripe for destruction, it fall a prey at last to sorne hardy oppressor, and, with the loss of liberty, losing every thing that is valuable, sinks gradually again into its original barbarism." *

(1) Tho column of Trajan is surmounted by St. Peter; that of Aurelius by St. Paul. See - Historical Illustrations of the I Vih Canto, &c.

* The History of the lifu of M. Tullius Cicero, sect. vi. vol. ii. p. 102. The con

1

CXII.
Where is the rock of Triumph, the high place
Where Rome embraced her heroes ? where the steep
Tarpeian ? fittest goal of Treason's race,
The promontory whence the Traitor's Leap
Cured all ambition. Did the conquerors heap
Their spoils here ? Yes; and in yon field below,
A thousand years of silenced factions sleep –

The Forum, where the immortal accents glow,
And still the eloquent air breathes – burns with Cicero!

CXIII.

The field of freedom, faction, fame, and blood :
Ilere a proud people's passions were exhaled,
From the first hour of empire in the bud
To that when further worlds to conquer fail'd ;
But long before had Freedom's face been veild,
And Anarchy assumed her attributes ;
Till every lawless soldier who assail'd

Trod on the trembling senate's slavish mutes,
Or raised the venal voice of baser prostitutes.

(2) Trajan was proverbially the best of the Roman princes ;* and it would bo casier to find a sovereign uniting exactly the opposito characteristics, than one posBessed of all the happy qualities ascribed to this emperor. “When he mounted the throne,” says the historian Dion," he was strong in body, he was vigorous in mind ; age had impaired none of his faculties ; he was altogether free from envy and from detraction; he honoured all the good, and he advanced them; and on this account they could not bo the objects of his fear, or of his hate ; he never listened to informers: he gave not way to his anger; he abstained equally from unfair exactions and unjust punishments; he had rather be loved as a man than honoured as a sovereign ; he was affable with his people, respectful to the senato, and universally beloved by both; he inspired none with dread but the enemies of his country.

trast has been reversed in a lato extraordinary instance. A gentleman was thrown into prison at Paris ; efforts were made for his release. Tho French minister continued to detain him, under the pretext that he was not an Englishman, but only a Roman. See “ Interesting Facts relating to Joachim Murat," pag. 139.

" Hujus tantum memoriæ delatum est, ut, usque ad nostram ætatem non aliter in Senatu principibus acclamatur, nisi, FELICIOR . AVGVSTO. MELIOR. TRAJANO.” 'Eutrop. Brev. Hist. Rom. lib. viii. cap. v.

+ Το τε γαρ σωματι ερρωτο. .... και τη ψυχη ήκμαζεν, ως μηθ' υπό γηρως αμΌλίνεσθαι και ουτ' εφθονει ουτε καθηρει τινά, αλλά και πάνυ πάντας τους αγαθούς ιτίμα και έμεγάλυνε» και διά τούτο ουτε εφοβείτο τινα αυτών, ουτε εμίσει .. διαβολαίς τε ηκιστα έπιστεύε, και οργή ηκιστα έδoυλούτο των τε χρημάτων των άλλωτρίων ίσα και φόνων των αδίκων απείχετο .. φιλούμενος τε ούν επ' αυτούς μάλλον η τιμωμενος έχαιρε, και των τε δημη μετ' επιείκειας συνεγίνετο, και τη γηρουσία σεμνπορεπώς ωμίλει: αγαπητός μεν πάσι φοβερός δε μηδενί, πλην πολεμίοις ων. Ηist. Rom. lib. Liviii. cap. vi. et vii. tom. ii. p. 1123, 1124, cdit. Hamb. 1760.

CXIV.

Then turn we to her latest tribune's namo,
From her ten thousand tyrants turn to thee,
Redeemer of dark centuries of shame
The friend of Petrarch -- hope of Italy -
Riepzi! last of Romans! While the tree (')
Of freedom's wither'd trunk puts forth a leaf,
Even for thy tomb a garland let it be-

The forum's champion, and the people's chief
Her new-born Numa thou — with reign, alas! too brief.

CXV.

[ocr errors]

Egeria! sweet creation of some heart (*)
Which found no mortal resting-place so fair
As thine ideal breast; whate'er thou art
Or wert,

a young Aurora of the air,
The nympholepsy of some fond despair ;
Or, it might be, a beauty of the earth,
Who found a more than common votary there
Too much adoring; whatsoe'er thy birth,
Thou wert a beautiful thought, and softly bodied forth.

CXVI.

The mosses of thy fountain still are sprinkled
With thine Elysian water-drops; the face
Of thy cave-guarded. spring, with years unwrinkled,
Reflects the meek-eyed genius of the place,
Whose

green, wild margin now no more erase
Art's works ; nor must the delicate waters sleep,
Prison'd in marble, bubbling from the base
Of the cleft statue, with a gentle leap
The rill runs o'er, and round, fern, flowers, and ivy, creep

CXVII.

Fantastically tangled; the green hills
Are clothed with early blossoms, through the grass
The quick-eyed lizard rustles, and the bills
Of summer-birds sing welcome as ye pass;
Flowers fresh in hue, and many in their class,
Implore the pausing step, and with their dyes
Dance in the soft breeze in a fairy mass ;

The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes,
Kiss'd by the breath of heaven, seems coloạr'd by its skies.

(1) The name and exploits of Rienzi must be familiar to the reader of Gibbon. Some details and inedited manuscripts relativo to this unhappy hero will be seen in the Illustrations of the IVth Canto.

(2) Soe“ Historical Noros," at the end of this canto, No. XXVII.

« ForrigeFortsett »