« EelmineJätka »
Unpetrified by self, so naked lay,
And sensible to truth, that o'er the rage
Of giddy faction, by oppression swell'd,
Prevail'd a simple fable, and at once
To peace recover'd the divided state.
But if their often-cheated hopes refus'd
The soothing touch; still, in the love of Rome,
The dread dictator found a sure resource.
Was she assaulted? was her glory stain'd?
One common quarrel wide-inflam'd the whole.
Foes in the forum, in the field were friends,
By social danger bound; each fond for each,
And for their dearest country all, to die.
"Thus up the hill of empire slow they toil'd: Till, the bold summit gain'd, the thousand states Of proud Italia blended into one;
Then o'er the nations they resistless rush'd,
And touch'd the limits of the failing world.
"Let Fancy's eye the distant lines unite.
See that which borders wild the western main,
Where storms at large resound, and tides immense:
From Caledonia's dim cerulean coast,
And moist Hibernia, to where Atlas, lodg'd
Amid the restless clouds, and leaning Heaven,
Hangs o'er the deep that borrows thence its name.
Mark that oppos'd, where first the springing Morn
Her roses sheds, and shakes around her dews:
From the dire deserts by the Caspian lav'd,
To where the Tigris and Euphra es, join'd,
Impetuous tear the Babylonian plain;
And blest Arabia aromatic breathes.
See that dividing far the watery north,
Parent of floods! from the majestic Rhine,
Drunk by Batavian meads, to where, seven-mouth'd,
In Euxine waves the flashing Danube roars;
To where the frozen Tanais* scarcely stirs
The dead Meotic pool, or the long Rha,t
In the black Scythian sea his torrent throws.
Last, that beneath the burning zone behold:
See where it runs, from the deep-loaded plains
Of Mauritania to the Libyan sands,
Where Ammon lifts amid the torrid waste
A verdant isle, with shade and fountain fresh ;
And farther to the full Egyptian shore,
To where the Nile from Ethiopian clouds,
H3 never-drain'd ethereal urn, descends.
In this vast space what various tongues, and states!
What bounding rocks, and mountains, floods and
What purple tyrants quell'd, and nations freed!
"O'er Greece descended chief, with stealth divine, The Roman bounty in a flood of day: As at her Isthmian games, a fading pomp! Her full-assembled youth innumerous swarm'd. On a tribunal rais'd Flaminius sat; A victor he, from the deep phalanx pierc'd Of iron-coated Macedon, and back The Grecian tyrant to his bounds repell'd. In the high thoughtless gaiety of game, While sport alone their unambitious hearts Possess'd; the sudden trumpet, sounding hoarse, Bade silence o'er the bright assembly reign. Then thus a herald :- To the states of Greece The Roman people, unconfin'd, restore
*The ancient name of the Volga.
†The Caspian sea.
The king of Macedonia.
Their countries, cities, liberties, and laws: Taxes remit, and garrisons withdraw.'
The crowd, astonish'd half, and half-inform'd, Star'd dubious round; some question'd, some ex claim'd,
(Like one who, dreaming, between hope and fear, Is lost in anxious joy,) Be that again,
Be that again proclaim'd, distinct, and loud.'
Loud, and distinct, it was again proclaim'd;
And still as midnight in the rural shade,
When the gale slumbers, they the words devour'd.
Awhile severe amazement held them mute;
Then, bursting broad, the boundless shout to Heaven
From many a thousand hearts ecstatic sprung.
On every hand rebellow'd to their joy
The swelling sea, the rocks, and vocal hills:
Through all her turrets stately Corinth shook ;
And, from the void above of shatter'd air,
The flitting bird fell breathless to the ground.
What piercing bliss! how keen a sense of fame,
Did then, Flaminius, reach thy inmost soul!
And with what deep-felt glory didst thou then
Escape the fondness of transported Greece!
Mix'd in a tempest of superior joy,
They left the sports; like Bacchanals they flew,
Each other straining in a strict embrace,
Nor strain'd a slave; and loud acclaims till night
Round the proconsul's tent repeated rung.
Then, crown'd with garlands, came the festive Hours,
And music, sparkling wine, and converse warm,
Their raptures wak'd anew.-Ye gods! they
Ye guardian gods of Greece! And are we free?
Was it not madness deem'd the very thought?
And is it true? How did we purchase chains?
At what a dire expense of kindred blood?
And are they now dissolv'd? And scarce one drop
For the fair first of blessings have we paid?
Courage, and conduct, in the doubtful field,
When rages wide the storm of mingling war,
Are rare indeed; but how to generous ends
To turn success and conquest, rarer still:
That the great gods and Romans only know.
Lives there on Earth, almost to Greece unknown,
A people so magnanimous, to quit
Their native soil, traverse the stormy deep,
And by their blood and treasure, spent for us,
Redeem our states, our liberties, and laws!
There does! there does! oh, savior Titus! Rome!'
Thus through the happy night they pour'd their
And in my last reflected beams rejoic'd.
As when the shepherd, on the mountain brow,
Sits piping to his flocks, and gamesome kids;
Meantime the Sun, beneath the green Earth sunk,
Slants upward o'er the scene a parting gleam:
Short is the glory that the mountain gilds,
Plays on the glittering flocks, and glads the swain
To western worlds irrevocable roll'd,
Rapid, the source of light recalls his ray."
Here interposing I :-"Oh, queen of men!
Beneath whose sceptre in essential rights
Equal they live; though plac'd, for common good,
Various, or in subjection, or command;
And that by common choice: alas! the scene,
With virtue, freedom, and with glory bright,
§ The Isthmian games were celebrated at Corinth.
Streams into blood, and darkens into woe."
Thus she pursued :
:-"Near this great era, Rome
Began to feel the swift approach of fate,
That now her vitals gain'd; still more and more
Her deep divisions kindling into rage,
And war with chains and desolation charg'd.
From an unequal balance of her sons
These fierce contentions sprung; and, as increas'd
This hated inequality, more fierce
They flam'd to tumult. Independence fail'd ;
Here by luxurious wants, by real there;
And with this virtue every virtue sunk,
As, with the sliding rock, the pile sustain'd.
A last attempt, too late, the Gracchi made,
To fix the flying scale, and poise the state.
On one side swell'd aristocratic pride;
With Usury, the villain! whose fell gripe
Bends by degrees to baseness the free soul;
And Luxury, rapacious, cruel, mean,
Mother of Vice! while on the other crept
A populace in want, with pleasure fir'd;
Fit for proscriptions, for the darkest deeds,
As the proud feeder bade; inconstant, blind,
Deserting friends at need, and dup'd by foes;
Loud and seditious, when a chief inspir'd
Their headlong fury, but, of him depriv'd,
Already slaves, that lick'd the scourging hand.
"This firm republic, that against the blast
Of opposition rose; that (like an oak,
Nurs'd on feracious Algidum, whose boughs
Still stronger shoot beneath the rigid ax)
By loss, by slaughter, from the steel itself,
Ev'n force and spirit drew; smit with the calm,
The dead serene of prosperous fortune, pin'd.
Nought now her weighty legions could oppose;
Her terror once on Afric's tawny shore,*
Now smok'd in dust, a stabling now for wolves;
And every dreaded power receiv'd the yoke.
Besides, destructive, from the conquer'd East,
In the soft plunder came that worst of plagues,
That pestilence of mind, a fever'd thirst
For the false joys which luxury prepares.
Unworthy joys! that wasteful leave behind
No mark of honor, in reflecting hour,
No secret ray to glad the conscious soul;
At once involving in one ruin wealth,
And wealth-acquiring powers: while stupid self,
Of narrow gust, and hebetating sense
Devour the nobler faculties of bliss.
Hence Roman virtue slacken'd into sloth;
Security relax'd the softening state;
And the broad eye of government lay clos'd;
No more the laws inviolable reign'd,
And public weal no nore: but party rag'd,
And partial power, and license unrestrain'd,t
Let discord through the deathful city loose.
First, mild Tiberius, on thy sacred head
The fury's vengeance fell; the first, whose blood
Had since the consuls stain'd contending Rome.
Of precedent pernicious! with thee bled
Three hundred Romans; with thy brother, next,
Three thousand more; till, into battles turn'd
Debates of peace, and forc'd the trembling laws,
The forum and comitia horrid grew,
A scene of barter'd power, or reeking gore.
When, half-asham'd, Corruption's thievish arts
And ruffian force began to sap the mounds
And majesty of laws; if not in time
Repress'd severe, for human aid too strong
The torrent turns, and overbears the whole.
"Thus luxury, dissension, a mix'd rage
Of boundless pleasure and of boundless wealth,
Want wishing change, and waste repairing war,
Rapine for ever lost to peaceful toil,
Guilt unaton'd, profuse of blood revenge,
Corruption all avow'd, and lawless force,
Each heightening each, alternate shook the state
Meantime ambition, at the dazzling head
Of hardy legions, with the laurels heap'd
And spoil of nations, in one circling blast
Combin'd in various storm, and from its base
The broad republic tore. By virtue built,
It touch'd the skies, and spread o'er shelter'd Earth
An ample roof: by virtue too sustain'd,
And balanc'd steady, every tempest sung
Innoxious by, or bade it firmer stand.
But when, with sudden and enormous change,
The first of mankind sunk into the last,
As once in virtue, so in vice extreme,
This universal fabric yielded loose,
Before ambition still; and thundering down,
At last, beneath its ruins crush'd a world.
A conquering people, to themselves a prey,
Must ever fall; when their victorious troops,
In blood and rapine savage grown, can find
No land to sack and pillage but their own.
By brutal Marius, and keen Sylla, first
Effus'd the deluge dire of civil blood,
Unceasing woes began, and this, or that,
(Deep-drenching their revenge) nor virtue spar'd,
Nor sex, nor age, nor quality, nor name,
Till Rome, into an human shambles turn'd,
Made deserts lovely.-Oh, to well-earn'd chains
Devoted race!-If no true Roman then,
No Scævola there was, to raise for me
A vengeful hand: was there no father, robb'd
Of blooming youth to prop his wither'd age?
No son, a witness to his hoary sire
In dust and gore defil'd? no friend, forlorn?
No wretch that doubtful trembled for himself?
None brave, or wild, to pierce a monster's heart,
Who, heaping horror round, no more deserv'd
The sacred shelter of the laws he spurn'd?
No. Sad o'er all profound dejection sat,
And nerveless fear. The slave's asylum theirs.
Or flight, ill-judging, that the timid back
Turns weak to slaughter; or partaken guilt.
In vain from Sylla's vanity I drew
An anexampled deed. The power resign'd,
And all unhop'd the commonwealth restor'd,
Amaz'd the public, and effac'd his crimes.
Through streets yet streaming from his murderous
Unarm'd he stray'd, unguarded, unassail'd,
And on the bed of peace his ashes laid:
A grace, which I to his demission gave.
But with him died not the despotic soul.
Ambition saw that stooping Rome could bear
A master, nor had virtue to be free.
Hence, for succeeding years, my troubled reign
No certain peace, no spreading prospect, knew.
Destruction gather'd round. Still the black soul,
Or of a Catiline, or Rullus, swell'd
Pub. Servilius Rullus, tribune of the people, proposed an Agrarian law, in appearance very advantageous for the people, but destructive of their liberty; and which was defeated by the eloquence of Cicero, in his speech against Rullus.
With fell designs; and all the watchful art
Of Cicero demanded, all the force,
All the state-wielding magic of his tongue;
And all the thunder of my Cato's zeal.
With these I linger'd; till the flame anew
Burst out in blaze immense, and wrapt the world.
The shameful contest sprung, to whom mankind
Should yield the neck: to Pompey, who conceal'd
A rage impatient of an equal name;
Or to the nobler Cæsar, on whose brow
O'er daring vice deluding virtue smil'd,
And who no less a vain superior scorn'd.
Both bled, but bled in vain. New traitors rose,
The venal WILL be bought, the base have lords.
To these wild wars I left ambitious slaves;
And from Philippi's field, from where in dust
The last of Romans, matchless Brutus! lay,
Spread to the north untam'd a rapid wing.
"What though the first smooth Caesar's
And, piercing farthest Scythia, westward swept
Sarmatia,|| travers'd by a thousand streams.
A sullen land of lakes, and fens immense,
Of rocks, resounding torrents, gloomy heaths,
And cruel deserts black with sounding pine;
Where Nature frowns: though sometimes into
She softens; and immediate, at the touch
Of southern gales, throws from the sudden glebe
Luxuriant pasture, and a waste of flowers.
But, cold-comprest, when the whole loaded heaven
Descends in snow, lost in one white abrupt,
Lies undistinguish'd earth; and, seiz'd by frost,
Lakes, headlong streams, and floods, and oceans
Yet there life glows; the furry millions there,
Deep-dig their dens beneath the sheltering snows:
And there a race of men prolific swarms,
arts To various pain, to little pleasure us'd;
Merit and virtue, simulating me?
Severely tender! cruelly humane!
The chain to clinch, and make it softer sit
On the new-broken still ferocious state.
From the dark third,* succeeding, I beheld
Th' imperial monsters all. A race on Earth
Vindictive, sent the scourge of human-kind!
Whose blind profusion drain'd a bankrupt world;
Whose lust to forming Nature seems disgrace;
And whose infernal rage bade every drop
Of ancient blood, that yet retain'd my flame,
To that of Pætus,† in the peaceful bath,
Or Rome's affrighted streets, inglorious flow.
But almost just the meanly-patient death,
That waits a tyrant's unprevented stroke.
Titus indeed gave one short evening gleam;
More cordial felt, as in the midst it spread
Of storm, and horror. The delight of men;
He who the day, when his o'erflowing hand
Had made no happy heart, concluded lost;
Trajan and he, with the mild sire and son,‡
His son of virtue! eas'd awhile mankind;
And arts reviv'd beneath their gentle beam.
Then was their last effort: what sculpture rais'd
To Trajan's glory, following triumphs stole;
And mix'd with Gothic forms (the chisel's shame,)
On that triumphal arch, the forms of Greece.
"Meantime o'er rocky Thrace, and the
Of gelid Hemus, I pursued my flight;
↑ Thrasea Pætus, put to death by Nero. Tacitus introduces the account he gives of his death thus: "After having inhumanly slaughtered so many illustrious men, ae (Nero) burned at last with a desire of cutting off virtue itself in the person of Thrasea," &c.
On whom, keen-parching beat Riphæan winds;
Hard like their soil, and like their climate fierce,
The nursery of nations!-These I rous'd,
Drove land on land, on people people pour'd;
Till from almost perpetual night they broke,
As if in search of day; and o'er the banks
Of yielding empire, only slave-sustain'd,
Resistless rag'd, in vengeance urg'd by me.
"Long in the barbarous heart the buried seeds
Of freedom lay, for many a wintry age;
And though my spirit work'd by slow degrees,
Nought but its pride and fierceness yet appear'd
Then was the night of time, that parted worlds.
I quitted Earth the while. As when the tribes
Aerial, warn'd of rising winter, ride
Autumnal winds, to warmer climates borne;
So, arts and each good genius in my train,
I cut the closing gloom, and soar'd to Heaven
"In the bright regions there of purest day,
Far other scenes, and palaces, arise,
Adorn'd profise with other arts divine.
All beauty here below, to them compar'd,
Would, like a rose before the mid-day Sun,
Shrink up its blossom; like a bubble, break
The passing poor magnificence of kings.
For there the King of Nature, in full blaze,
Calls every splendor forth; and there his court,
Amid ethereal powers, and virtues, holds:
Angel, archangel, tutelary gods,
Of cities, nations, empires, and of worlds.
But sacred be the veil, that kindly clouds
A light too keen for mortals: wraps a view
Too softening fair, for those that here in dust
Must cheerful toil out their appointed years
A sense of higher life would only damp
The school-boy's task, and spoil his playful hours.
Nor could the child of reason, feeble man,
With vigor through this infant being drudge;
Did brighter worlds, their unimagin'd bliss
↑ Antoninus Pius, and his adopted son Marcus Aurelius, Disclosing, dazzle and dissolve his mind."
afterwards called Antoninus Philosophus.
Constantine's arch, to build which, that of Trajan, was destroyed, sculpture having been then almost entire ly lost.
The Ancient Sarmatia contained a vast tract of country running all along the north of Europe, and Asia
Difference betwixt the ancients and moderns slightly touched upon. Description of the dark ages. The goddess of Liberty, who during these is supposed to have left Earth, returns, attended
with Arts and Science. She first descends on
Exalted rise, with other honors crown'd;
And, where my Spirit wakes the finer powers,
Athenian laurels still afresh shall bloom.
"Oblivious ages pass'd; while Earth, forsook By her best genii, lay to demons foul, And unchain'd furies, an abandon'd prey. Contention led the van; first small of size, But soon dilating to the skies she towers: Then, wide as air, the livid fury spread, And high her head above the stormy clouds, She blaz'd in omens, swell'd the groaning winds From land to land the maddening trumpet blew, With wild surmises, battlings, sounds of war: And pour'd her venom through the heart of man. Shook to the Pole, the north obey'd her call. Forth rush'd the bloody power of Gothic war, Millions of raging robbers in his train : War against human-kind: Rapine, that led Unlistening, barbarous Force, to whom the sword Is reason, honor, law: the foe of arts By monsters follow'd, hideous to behold, That claim'd their place. Outrageous mix'd with these Another species of tyrannic rule,* Unknown before, whose cancerous shackles seiz'd Th' envenom'd soul: a wilder fury, she Ev'n o'er her elder sistert tyranniz'd; thor's exclamation of joy, upon seeing the British Dire was her train, and loud; the sable band, Or, if perchance agreed, inflam'd her rage. seas and coasts rise in the vision, which painted Thundering, Submit, ye laity! ye profane! whatever the goddess of Liberty said. She re- Earth is the Lord's, and therefore ours; let kings sumes her narration. The Genius of the deep Allow the common claim, and half be theirs ; appears, and, addressing Liberty, associates Great If not, behold! the sacred lightning flies:' Britain into his dominion. Liberty received and congratulated by Britannia, and the native Genii
Italy. Sculpture, Painting, and Architecture fix at Rome, to revive their several arts by the great models of antiquity there, which many barbarous invasions had not been able to destroy. The revival of these arts marked out. That sometimes arts may flourish for a while under despotic governments, though never the natural and genuine production of them. Learning begins to dawn. The Muse and Science attend Liberty, who in her progress towards Great Britain raises several free states and cities. These enumerated. Au
or Virtues of the island. These described. Ani
mated by the presence of Liberty, they begin their operations. Their beneficent influence contrasted with the works and delusions of opposing
demons. Concludes with an abstract of the English history, marking the several advances of Liberty, down to her complete establishment at
STRUCK with the rising scene, thus I, amaz'd:
Ah, goddess, what a change! Is earth the same?
Of the same kind the ruthless race she feeds?
And does the same fair Sun and ether spread
Round this vile spot their all-enlivening soul?
Lo! beauty fails; lost in unlovely forms
Of little pomp, magnificence no more
Exalts the mind, and bids the public smile:
While to rapacious interest glory leaves
Mankind, and every grace of life is gone."
To this the power, whose vital radiance calls
From the brute mass of man an order'd world:
For science uttering jangling words obscure,
Scholastic Discord, with an hundred tongues,
Where frighted Reason never yet could dwell:
of peremptory feature, Cleric Pride,
Whose reddening cheek no contradiction bears;
And Holy Slander, his associate firm,
On whom the lying spirit still descends:
Mother of tortures! Persecuting Zeal,
High-flashing in her hand the ready torch,
Or poniard bath'd in unbelieving blood;
Hell's fiercest fiend! of saintly brow demure,
Assuming a celestial seraph's name,
While she, beneath the blasphemous pretence
Of pleasing Parent Heaven, the source of love!
Has wrought more horrors, more detested deeds
Than all the rest combin'd. Led on by her,
And wild of head to work her fell designs,
Came idiot Superstition; round with ears
Innumerous strow'd, ten thousand monkish forms
With legends plied them, and with tenets, meant
To charm or scare the simple into slaves,
And poison reason; gross, she swallows all,
The most absurd believing ever most.
"Wait till the morning shines, and from the Broad o'er the whole her universal night,
Of Gothic darkness springs another day.
True genius droops; the tender ancient taste
Of beauty, then fresh-blooming in her prime,
But faintly trembles through the callous soul,
And grandeur, or of morals, or of life,
Sinks into safe pursuits, and creeping cares.
Ev n cautious Virtue seems to stoop her flight,
And aged life to deem the generous deeds
Of youth romantic. Yet in cooler thought
Well-reason'd, in researches piercing deep
Through Nature's works, in profitable arts,
And all that calm experience can disclose,
(Slow guide, but sure,) behold the world anew
The gloom still doubling, Ignorance diffus'd.
Nought to be seen, but visionary monks
To councils strolling, and embroiling creeds;
Banditti saints, disturbing distant lands;
And unknown nations, wandering for a home.
All lay revers'd: the sacred arts of rule
Turn'd to flagitious leagues against mankind,
And arts of plunder more and more avow'd;
Pure plain devotion to a solemn farce; §
To holy dotage virtue, ev'n to guile,
To murder, and a mockery of oaths;
Brave ancient freedom to the rage of slaves,*
Proud of their state, and fighting for their chains;
Dishonor'd courage to the bravo's trade,t
To civil broil; and glory to romance.
Thus human life, unhing'd, to ruin reel'd,
And giddy Reason totter'd on her throne.
"At last Heaven's best inexplicable scheme,
Disclosing, bade new brightening eras smile.
The high command gone forth, Arts in my train,
And azure-mantled Science, swift we spread
A sounding pinion. Eager pity, mixt
With indignation, urg'd her downward flight.
On Latium first we stoop'd, for doubtful life
That panted, sunk beneath unnumber'd woes.
Ah, poor Italia! what a bitter cup
And each keen sinew brac'd, the storm of war,
Ruffling, o'er all his nervous body frowns.
The dying Otho* from the gloom she drew.
Supported on his shorten'd arm he leans,
Prone agonizing; with incumbent fate,
Heavy declines his head; yet dark beneath
The suffering feature sullen vengeance lowers,
Shame, indignation, unaccomplish'd rage,
And still the cheated eye expects his fall.
All conquest-flush'd, from prostrate Python, came
The Quiver'd God. In graceful act he stands,
His arm extended with the slacken'd bow.
Light flows his easy robe, and fair displays
A manly-soften'd form. The bloom of gods
Seems youthful o'er the beardless cheek to wave.
His features yet heroic ardor warms;
And sweet subsiding to a native smile,
Of vengeance hast thou drain'd! Goths, Vandals, Mixt with the joy elating conquest gives,
Lombards, barbarians broke from every land,
How many a ruffian form hast thou beheld!
What horrid jargons heard, where rage alone
Was all thy frighted ear could comprehend!
How frequent by the red inhuman hand,
Yet warm with brother's, husband's, father's blood,
Hast thou thy matrons and thy virgins seen
To violation dragg'd, and mingled death!
What conflagrations, earthquakes, ravage, floods,
Have turn'd thy cities into stony wilds;
And succorless, and bare, the poor remains
Of wretches forth to nature's common cast!
Added to these, the still continued waste
Of inbred foes, that on thy vitals prey,
And, double tyrants, seize the very soul.
Where hadst thou treasures for this rapine all?
These hungry myriads, that thy bowels tore,
Heap'd sack on sack, and buried in their rage
Wonders of art; whence this grey scene a mine
Of more than gold becomes, and orient gems,
Where Egypt, Greece, and Rome, united glow.
"Here Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, bent From ancient models to restore their arts, Remain'd. A little trace we how they rose.
"Amid the hoary ruins Sculpture first,
Deep-digging, from the cavern dark and damp,
Their grave for ages, bid her marble race
Spring to new light. Joy sparkled in her eyes,
And old remembrance thrill'd in every thought,
As she the pleasing resurrection saw.
In leaning site, respiring from his toils,
The well-known hero, who deliver'd Greece,
His ample chest, all tempested with force,
Unconquerable rear'd. She saw the head,
Breathing the hero, small, of Grecian size,
Scarce more extensive than the sinewy neck;
The spreading shoulders, muscular, and broad;
The whole a mass of swelling sinews, touch'd
Into harmonious shape; she saw, and joy'd.
The yellow hunter, Meleager, rais'd
His beauteous front, and through the finish'd whole
Shows what ideas smil'd of old in Greece.
Of raging aspect, rush'd impetuous forth
The gladiator. Pitiless his look,
A scatter'd frown exalts his matchless air.
On Flora mov'd; her full-proportion'd limbs
Rise through the mantle fluttering in the breeze.
The queen of Love‡ arose, as from the deep
She sprung in all the melting pomp of charms.
Bashful she bends, her well-taught look aside
Turns in enchanting guise, where dubious mix
Vain conscious beauty, a dissembled sense
Of modest shame, and slippery looks of love.
The gazer grows enamour'd, and the stone,
As if exulting in its conquest, smiles.
So turn'd each limb, so swell'd with softening art,
That the deluded eye the marble doubts.
At last her utmost masterpieces she found,
That Maro fir'd; the miserable sire,
Wrapt with his sons in fate's severest grasp.
The serpents, twisting round, their stringent folds
Inextricable tie. Such passion here,
Such agonies, such bitterness of pain,
Seem so to tremble through the tortur'd stone,
That the touch'd heart engrosses all the view.
Almost unmark'd the best proportions pass,
That ever Greece beheld; and, seen alone,
On the rapt eye th' imperious passions seize:
The father's double pangs, both for himself
And sons convuls'd: to Heaven his rueful look,
Imploring aid, and half-accusing, cast;
His fell despair with indignation mixt,
As the strong-curling monsters from his side
His full-extended fury cannot tear.
More tender touch'd, with varied art, his sons
All the soft rage of younger passions show.
In a boy's helpless fate one sinks oppress'd!
While, yet unpierc'd, the frighted other tries
His foot to steal out of the horrid twine.
"She bore no more, but straight from Gothic rust
Her chisel clear'd,¶ and dust and fragments drove
Impetuous round. Successive as it went,
From son to son, with more enlivening touch,
From the brute rock it call'd the breathing form;
*The dying gladiator. †The Apollo of Belvidere.
The Venus of Medici.
§ The group of Laocoon and his two sons, destroyed by two serpents.
See Eneid, ii. ver 199-227.
It is reported of Michael Angelo Buonaroti, the most celebrated master of modern sculpture, that he wrought with a kind of inspiration, or enthusiastical fury, which produced the effect here mentioned.