« PreviousContinue »
Now, I gain the mountain's brow, What a landscape lies below! No clouds, no vapors intervene ; But the gay, the open scene Does the face of Nature show, In all the hues of Heaven's bow! And, swelling to embrace the light, Spreads around beneath the sight.
Old castles on the cliffs arise, Proudly towering in the skies! Rushing from the woods, the spires Seem from hence ascending fires! Half his beams Apollo sheds On the yellow mountain-heads! Gilds the fleeces of the flocks, And glitters on the broken rocks!
Below me trees unnumber'd rise, Beautiful in various dyes: The gloomy pine, the poplar blue, The yellow beach, the sable yew, The slender fir that taper grows, The sturdy oak with broad-spread boughs. And beyond the purple grove, Haunt of Phyllis, queen of love! Gaudy as the opening dawn, Lies a long and level lawn,
On which a dark hill, steep and high,
Holds and charms the wandering eye!
Deep are his feet in Towy's flood,
His sides are cloth'd with waving wood,
And ancient towers crown his brow,
That cast an awful look below;
Whose ragged walls the ivy creeps,
And with her arms from falling keeps;
So both a safety from the wind
On mutual dependence find.
"Tis now the raven's bleak abode;
'Tis now th' apartment of the toad;
And there the fox securely feeds;
And there the poisonous adder breeds,
Conceal'd in ruins, moss, and weeds;
While, ever and anon, there falls
Huge heaps of hoary moulder'd walls.
Yet Time has seen, that lifts the low,
And level lays the lofty brow,
Has seen this broken pile complete,
Big with the vanity of state;
But transient is the smile of Fate!
A little rule, a little sway,
A sunbeam in a winter's day,
Is all the proud and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave.
And see the rivers how they run,
Through woods and meads, in shade and sun,
Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,
Wave succeeding wave, they go
A various journey to the deep,
Like human life, to endless sleep!
Thus is Nature's vesture wrought,
To instruct our wandering thought;
Thus she dresses green and gay,
To disperse our cares away.
Ever charming, ever new,
When will the landscape tire the view!
The fountain's fall, the river's flow,
The woody valleys, warm and low;
The windy summit, wild and high,
Roughly rushing on the sky!
The pleasant seat, the ruin'd tower,
The naked rock, the shady bower;
The town and village, dome and farm,
Each give each a double charm,
As pearls upon an Ethiop's arm.
See on the mountain's southern side,
Where the prospect opens wide,
Where the evening gilds the tide;
How close and small the hedges lie!
What streaks of meadows cross the eye!
A step methinks may pass the stream,
So little distant dangers seem;
So we mistake the Future's face,
Ey'd through Hope's deluding glass;
As yon summit soft and fair,
Clad in colors of the air,
Which to those who journey near,
Barren, brown, and rough appear;
Still we tread the same coarse way
The present's still a cloudy day.
O may I with myself agree,
And never covet what I see;
Content me with an humble shade,
My passions tam'd, my wishes laid;
For, while our wishes wildly roll,
We banish quiet from the soul:
'Tis thus the busy beat the air,
And misers gather wealth and care.
Now, ev'n now, my joys run high,
As on the mountain-turf I lie;
While the wanton Zephyr sings,
And in the vale perfumes his wings;
While the waters murmur deep;
While the shepherd charms his sheep;
While the birds unbounded fly,
And with music fill the sky,
Now, ev'n now, my joys run high.
Be full, ye courts; be great who will;
Search for Peace with all your skill:
Open wide the lofty door,
Seek her on the marble floor.
In vain you search, she is not there; In vain you search the domes of Care! 'Grass and flowers Quiet treads, On the meads, and mountain-heads, Along with Pleasure, close allied, Ever by each other's side; And often, by the murmuring rill, Hears the thrush, while all is still, Within the groves of Grongar Hill.
THE RUINS OF ROME.
Aspice murorum moles, præruptaque saxa,
Obrutaque horrenti vesta theatra situ:
Hæc sunt Roma. Viden' velut ipsa cadavera tantæ
Urbis adhuc spirent imperiosa minas?
ENOUGH of Grongar and the shady dales
Of winding Towy: Merlin's fabled haunt
I sing inglorious. Now the love of arts,
And what in metal or in stone remains
Of proud antiquity, through various realms
And various languages and ages fam'd,
Bears me remote, o'er Gallia's woody bounds,
O'er the cloud-piercing Alps remote; beyond
The vale of Arno purpled with the vine,
Beyond the Umbrian and Etruscan hills,
To Latium's wide champain, forlorn and waste,
Where yellow Tiber his neglected wave
Mournfully rolls. Yet once again, my Muse,
Yet once again, and soar a loftier flight;
Lo, the resistless theme, imperial Rome.
Fall'n, fall'n, a silent heap; her heroes all
Sunk in their urns; behold the pride of pomp,
The throne of nations fall'n; obscur'd in dust;
E'en yet majestical: the solemn scene
Elates the soul, while now the rising Sun
Flames on the ruins in the purer air
Towering aloft, upon the glittering plain,
Like broken rocks, a vast circumference:
Rent palaces, crush'd columns, rifled moles,
Fanes roll'd on fanes, and tombs on buried tombs.
Deep lies in dust the Theban obelisk Immense along the waste; minuter art, Gliconian forms, or Phidian subtly fair, O'erwhelming; as th' immense Leviathan The finny brood, when near Ierne's shore Outstretch'd, unwieldy, his island-length appears Above the foamy flood. Globose and huge, Grey mouldering temples swell, and wide o'ercast The solitary landscape, hills and woods, And boundless wilds; while the vine-mantled brows The pendent goats unveil, regardless they Of hourly peril, though the clefted domes Tremble to every wind. The pilgrim oft At dead of night, 'mid his orison hears Aghast the voice of Time, disparting towers, Tumbling all precipitate down-dash'd, Rattling around, loud-thundering to the Moon; While murmurs soothe each awful interval Of ever-falling waters; shrouded Nile, Eridanus, and Tiber with his twins, And palmy Euphrates;* they with drooping locks Hang o'er their urns, and mournfully among The plaintive-echoing ruins pour their streams. Yet here, adventurous in the sacred search Of ancient arts, the delicate of mind, Curious and modest, from all climes resort. Grateful society! with these I raise The toilsome step up the proud Palatin, Through spiry cypress groves, and towering pine, Waving aloft o'er the big ruin's brows, On numerous arches rear'd: and frequent stopp'd, The sunk ground startles me with dreadful chasm, Breathing forth darkness from the vast profound Of aisles and halls, within the mountain's womb. Nor these the nether works; all these beneath, And all beneath the vales and hills around, Extend the cavern'd sewers, massy, firm, As the Sibylline grot beside the dead Lake of Avernus; such the sewers huge, Whither the great Tarquinian genius dooms Each wave impure; and proud with added rains, Hark how the mighty billows lash their vaults, And thunder; how they heave their rocks in vain! Though now incessant time has roll'd around A thousand winters o'er the changeful world, And yet a thousand since, th' indignant floods Roar loud in their firm bounds, and dash and swell, In vain; convey'd to Tiber's lowest wave.
Hence over airy plains, by crystal founts, That weave their glittering waves with tuneful lapse, Among the sleeky pebbles, agate clear, Cerulean ophite, and the flowery vein Of orient jasper, pleas'd I move along. And vases boss'd, and huge inscriptive stones,
And intermingling vines; and figur'd nymphs,
Floras and Chloes of delicious mould,
Cheering the darkness; and deep empty tombs,
And dells, and mouldering shrines, with old decay
Rustic and green, and wide-embowering shades,
Shot from the crooked clefts of nodding towers.
A solemn wilderness! with error sweet,
I wind the lingering step, where'er the path
Mazy conducts me, which the vulgar foot
O'er sculptures maim'd has made; Anubis, Sphinx
Idols of antique guise, and horned Pan,
Terrific, monstrous shapes! preposterous gods
Of Fear and Ignorance, by the sculptor's hand
Hewn into form, and worshipp'd; as e'en now
Blindly they worship at their breathless mouthst
In varied appellations: men to these
(From depth to depth in darkening error fall'n)
At length ascrib'd th' inapplicable name.
How doth it please and fill the memory
With deeds of brave renown, while on each hand
Historic urns and breathing statues rise,
And speaking busts! Sweet Scipio, Marius stern,
Pompey superb, the spirit-stirring form
Of Cæsar raptur'd with the charm of rule
And boundless fame; impatient for exploits,
His eager eyes upcast, he soars in thought
Above all height: and his own Brutus see,
Desponding Brutus, dubious of the right,
In evil days, of faith, of public weal,
Solicitous and sad. Thy next regard
Be Tully's graceful attitude; uprais'd,
His outstretch'd arm he waves, in act to speak
Before the silent masters of the world,
And Eloquence arrays him. There behold,
Prepar'd for combat in the front of war,
The pious brothers; jealous Alba stands
In fearful expectation of the strife,
And youthful Rome intent: the kindred foes
Fall on each other's neck in silent tears;
In sorrowful benevolence embrace-
Howe'er, they soon unsheath the flashing sword,
Their country calls to arms;—now all in vain
The mother clasps the knee, and e'en the fair
Now weeps in vain; their country calls to arms.
Such virtue Clelia, Cocles, Manlius, rous'd:
Such were the Fabii, Decii; so inspir'd,
The Scipios battled, and the Gracchi spoke :
So rose the Roman state. Me now, of these
Deep musing, high ambitious thoughts inflame
Greatly to serve my country, distant land,
And build me virtuous fame; nor shall the dust
Of these fall'n piles with show of sad decay
Avert the good resolve, mean argument,
The fate alone of matter.-Now the brow
We gain enraptur'd; beauteously distinct
The numerous porticoes and domes upswell,
With obelisks and columns interpos'd,
And pine, and fir, and oak: so fair a scene
Sees not the dervise from the spiral tomb
Of ancient Chammos, while his eye beholds
Proud Memphis' relics o'er th' Egyptian plain :
Nor hoary hermit from Hymettus' brow,
Though graceful Athens in the vale beneath.
Along the windings of the Muse's stream,
Lucid Ilyssus weeps her silent schools,
† Several statues of the Pagan gods have been convert ed into images of saints.
1 From the Palatin hill one sees most of the remarkable antiquities.
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 tigers, 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,
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 pilest undeck'd, capacious, vast,
In days of dearth where tender Charity
Dispens'd her timely succors 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 Capitol.
†The Temple of Concord, where the senate met on Catiline's conspiracy.
The public granaries.
§ Modern Rome stands chiefly on the old Campus Martius.
The proud triumphal arches; all their wars,
Their conquests, honors, 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 rais'd,
In even state, to distant seas around,
And the rough relics of Carina'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,
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
They stretch their pavements. Lo, the fane of When age descends with sorrow to the grave,
"Tis 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
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 Grotesque and wild; the gourd and olive brown
In the dun ruins of its ample halls,
Appear but tufts; as may whate'er is high
Sink in comparison, minute and vile.
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,
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 towers
Whose execrable hand the city fir'd,
And while the dreadful conflagration blaz'd,
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,
Play'd to the flames; and Phoebus' letter'd dome ;|| 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,
Where Cæsars, heroes, peasants, hermits, lie,
Blended in dust together; where the slave
Rests from his labors; 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,
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
Th' o'erflowing wave-Enough-the plaint disdain
See'st thou yon fane ?* e'en now incessant time
Sweeps her low mouldering marbles to the dust;
And Phoebus' temple, nodding with its woods,
Threatens huge ruin o'er the small rotund.
'Twas there beneath a fig-tree's umbrage broad,
Th' astonish'd swains with reverend awe beheld
Thee, O Quirinus, and thy brother-twin,
* Begun by Vespasian, and finished by Titus.
†The tomb of Cestius, partly within and partly with- Pressing the teat within a monster's grasp
out the walls.
The baths of Caracalla, a vast ruin. § Nero's.
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 plow Rose her dictators; fought, o'ercame, return'd Yes, to the plow 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 honor, dar'd in thickest death To snatch the glorious deed. Nor Trebia quell'd, Nor Thrasymene, nor Canna'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 ear 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 unrival'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 roseate 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, odors, 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 flavor'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 gulf where Asher 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.