صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

How happily is this passage touched! He does not felicitate Virgil on the honour of being intimate with the ruler of the world: but the ruler of the world for his good sense in descending to be intimate with Virgil. The breaks that follow, partake of the same delicacy and greatness of mind :

Thrice glorious days,
Auspicious to the muses !
But now

another age, alas! is ours -
Enough! the plaint disdain !

The poet, with admirable judgment, having left the ruins of the temple of Romulus and Re. mus, for his farewell notice, takes the hint from thence to present us with an epitome of the rise, progress, and declension of the Roman greatness, which will bear twenty readings, and every time with greater pleasure than the last.—The whole is too long to transcribe. But it would be unpardonable to pass over the following illustrious passage in silence:

The Roman arnis
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 glittring trophy to the wind.
VOL, I,

2 B

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 ev'ry pore To painful feeling: flow'ry bowers they seek (As æther prompts, as the sick sense approves), Or cool nymphean grots; or tepid baths (Taught by the soft Ionians) they, along The lawny vale, of ev'ry beauteous stone, Pile in the roseate air with fond expense : Through silver channels glide the fragrant 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; unnumbered 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 us’rer! * through the croud he mounts!
Beneath his feet the Roman eagle cow'rs,
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.

To conclude: if such superior, such commanding beauties cannot awake the curiosity or excite the gratitude of the age, let no man, for the future, put his trust in the Muses, or flatter himself that inerit is the road to reputation. The hints of acknowledgement, scattered up and down this paper, are a free-will offering; and owe their rise neither to friendship, flattery, nor interest. The Champion is an utter stranger even to the name of the author of « The Ruins of Rome,” and praises him merely because he deserves it: he is both the admirer and friend of genius, however discountenanced, or obscure; nor waits for the fashion to prompt his panegy. ric; and though not of the illustrious society for the encouragement of learning, would make it his highest glory to assist the endeavours of all

* Didius Julianus, who bought the empire.

who labour, as well as he, either to instruct, delight, or polish mankind.

CHAMPION, March 8, 1739-40. Vol. i. p. 340.

The “ Ruins of Rome," though a poem of great descriptive merit, must be classed among the numerous productions in verse, which have been neglected by caprice or bad taste. Notwithstanding the praise of the Champion, notwithstanding the felicity of the subject, this highly-finished piece, with the exception of a slight notice from Dr. Johnson, and from Hervey in his Meditations, was almost forgotten, when John Scott, in his Critical Essays, published in 1785, recalled the attention of the public to its beauties by a minute and well-executed critique.

No. XLIII.

The ways of heaven are dark and intricate,
Puzzled in mazes, and perplex'd with errors :
Our understanding traces them in vain,

ADDISON'S CATO,

It was the complaint of Alphonsus, that God might have ordered many things better in the creation of the world than he has done; but the answer of St. Augustin was as just as the censure was profane.--If we complain of defect in the works of the creation, it is because we do not understand them in their proper spheres and uses. Though this complaint of the philosopher, and the answer of the divine, were concerning the system of the creation, yet there are too many persons, who, concerning the accidents of life, shew the discontented temper of the first, and deserve the reproof of the latter. As nothing is more foolish, nothing can be more unjust han the dissatisfaction which is shewn at those distributions which Providence has made : for it is not in the power of human nature to know what would prove really beneficial or detrimental; what would produce them a sincere joy, or plunge them into the deepest misery.

« السابقةمتابعة »