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So we, brave friend, suppose that thy great skill;
Thy gentle mind, and fair example, will,
At thy return, reclaim our frantic isle,
Their spirits calm ; and peace again shall smile.
EDM. WALLER, Anglus.
Patavii, typis Pauli Frambotti.
-Tenues ignavo Pollio chordas
Pullo; Maroneique redens in margine templi
Suæ animum, & magni tumulis adcanto magifiri.
Came, great bard, to gaze upon thy shrine,
And o'er thy relicks wait th' inspiring Nine :-
For sure, I said, where Maro's alhes sleep,
The weeping Muses must their vigils keep:
Still o'er their fav’rite's monument they mourn,
And with poetic trophies grace his urn:
Have placed the shield and martial trumpet here ;
The shepherd's pipe, and rural honours there :
Fancy had deck'd the consecrated ground,
And scatter'd never-fading roses round.
And now my bold romantic thought aspires
To hear the echo of celestial lyres;
Then catch some found to bear delighted home,
And boast I learnt the verse at Virgil's tomb:
Or Gretch'd beneath thy myrtle's fragrant shade,
With dreams extatic hov'ring o'er my head,
See forms auguft, and laurel'd ghosts afcend,
And with thyself, perhaps, the long procession end.
I came-but foon the phantoms disappeard ;
Far other scenes, than wanton Hope had rear'd;
No faery rites, no funeral pomp I found;
No trophied walls with wreaths of laurel round:
A mean unhonour'd ruin faintly show'd
The spot where once thy mausoleum stood :
Hardly the form remain'd; a nodding dome
O'ergrown with mofs is now all Virgil's tomb.
'Twas such a scene as gave a kind relief
memory, in sweetly-pensive grief:
Gloomy, unpleasing images it wrought;
No musing, soft complacency of thought:
For Time had canker'd all, and worn away
Evin the laft, mournful graces of decay :
Oblivion, hateful goddess, fate before,
And cover'd with her dulky wings the door :
No filver harps I heard, no Muse's voice,
But birds obscene in horrid notes rejoice:
Fancy recoil'd, and with his tinsel train
Forsook the chearless scene; no more remain
The warm ambitious hopes of airy youth;
Severe Reflection came, and frowning Truth:
Away each glitt'ring gay idea fled,
And bade a melancholy train fucceed,
That form’d, or seem'd to form, a mournful call
In feeble echoes mutt'ring round the wall.
Seek not the Muses here! th' affrighted maids
Have fled Parthenope's polluted shades :
Her happy shores, the seats of joy and ease,
Their fav’rite mansions once, no longer please :
No longer, as of old, in transport loft,
The sisters rove along th' enchanted coaft;
They turn with horror from each much-lov'd stream;
And loath the fields that were their darling theme:
The tuneful names themselves once fondly gave
To ev'ry swelling hill, and mossy cave,
So pleasing then, are only heard with fighs ;
And each sad echo bids their sorrow rise.
Yet Nature smiles, as when their Virgil fung,
Nor’midst a fairer scene his lyre was strung :
Still bloom the sweets of his elysium here,
And the same charms in ev'ry grove appear.
But ah! in vain indulgent suns prevail;
Health and delight in ev'ry balmy gale
Are wafted now in vain : small comfort bring
To weeping eyes the beauties of the spring.
To groaning slaves those fragrant meads belong,
Where Tully dictated, and Maro sung.
Long since, alas ! those golden days are flown,
When here each Science wore its proper crown,
Pale Tyranny had laid their altars low,
And rent the laurel from the Muse's brow :
What wonder then 'midst such a scene to see
The Arts expire with bleeding Liberty?
Pensive and fad, each fair angelic form
Droops, like the wearied dove beneath a storm:
Far other views the poet's thought engage,
Than the warm glories of th' Auguftan age.
Can mis’ry bid th' imagination glow?
Or genius brighten 'midft domestic woe?
To see desponding wretches round him pine,
Horace had wept beneath the Alban vine.
Sad sits the bard amidit his country's tears,
And fighs, regardless of the wreath he wears.
Did ever Want and Famine sweetly fing?
The fetter'd hand uncouthly strikes the string,
Lo! ftern Oppreffion lifts her iron rod,
And Ruin waits th' imperious harpy's nod:
Black Desolation, and destructive War,
Rise at the signal, and attend her car.
From the dire pomp th' affrighted shepherd flies,
And leaves his flock the rav'nous soldier's prize.
Where now are all the nymphs that bleft the plains ?
Where, the full chords of contented swains ?
The songs of love, of liberty and peace,
Are heard no more; the dance and tabor cease :
To the soft oaten pipe, and past'ral reed,
The din of arms, and clarion's blaft succeed :
Dire shapes appear in ev'ry op’ning glade ;
And Furies bowl where once the Muses ftray'd ?
Is this the queen of realms, for arts renown'd ?
This captive maid, that weeps upon the ground!
Alas! how chang'd!_dejected and forlorn!
The mistress of the world become the scorn!
Around stand Rapine, Horror and Despair;
And Ign'rance, dark ally of barb'rous War:
She, at th' ufurping Vandal's dread command,
Displays her gloomy banner o'er the land:
Beneath its chilling fhade neglected lies
Each fifter Arts and unlamented dies.
Lo! Sculpture lets her useless chissel fall;
While on some ruind temple's broken wall
Sad Architecture fits; and fees with shame
Mif-shapen piles ufurp her injur'd name:
Music and Verse, unhappy twins! belong
To antique Masque, and weak unmanly Song:
The gath’ring delage swells on ev'ry fide,
And monkish Superftition swells the tide.
By the resifless torrent overborn
Floats ev'ry Virtue, from its basis torn:
Fair Learning droops, the fick’ning Arts decay;
And ev'ry laurel fades, and ev'ryabay.
All is confus'd, no traces now are seen
To Thew. what wretched Italy has been.
Thus once Velavius, crown'd with circling wood,
Parthenope, thy beauteous' neighbour stood :
Perpetual Spring cloath'd the fair mountain's fide ;
And what is now thy térror, 'was thy pride.
Sudden th' imprifon'd flames burft forth; and laid
On smoáky heaps each farieking: Dryad's fhade: