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His sacred head a radiant zodiac crowned,
And various animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
The Roman Rostra decked the Consul's throne:
Gathering his flowing robe, he seemed to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretched his hand.
Behind, Rome's genius waits with civic crowns,
And the great Father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise,
O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies:
Scarce to the top I stretched my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swelled to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat,
With jewels blazed, magnificently great;
The vivid emeralds there revive the eye,
The flaming rubies show their sanguine dye,
Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream,
And lucid amber casts a golden gleam.
With various-colored light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appeared the glowing throne;
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.
When on the goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seemed her stature of a cubit's height;
But swelled to larger size, the more I gazed,
Till to the roof her tow'ring front she raised.
With her, the temple every moment grew,
And ampler vistas opened to my view:
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form as ancient bards have told,
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold ;
A thousand busy tongues the goddess bears,
And thousand open eyes, and thousand list’ning ears
Beneath, in order ranged, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine:
With eyes on Fame for ever fixed, they sing;
For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string ;
With time's first birth began the heav'nly lays,
Azd last, eternal, through the length of days.
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The greatet of Roman orators,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shook,
And all the nations, summoned at the call,
From diff'rent quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard ;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appeared ·
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flow'ry toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the winged colonies first tempt the sky,
O’er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant, and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old age.
Their pleas were diff'rent, their request the same:
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgraced, and some with honours crowned;
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And, undiscerning, scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the learned world appear,
And to the goddess thus prefer their pray’r.
“Long have we sought t’instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thanked by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For fame is all we must expect below.”
The goddess heard, and bade the muses raise
The golden trumpet of eternal praise:
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around;
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they ev'ry moment rise,
Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies.
At ev'ry breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter as they wider spread ;
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these the good and just, an awful train,
Thus on their knees address the sacred fane.
“Since living virtue is with envy cursed,
And the best men are treated like the worst, Do thou, just goddess, call our merits forth, And give each deed the exact intrinsic worth.” “Not with bare justice shall your act be crowned.” (Said Fame), “but high above desert renowned: Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze, And the loud clarion labour in your praise."
This band dismissed, behold another crowd Preferred the same request, and lowly bowed ; The constant tenor of whose well-spent days No less deserved a just return of praise. But straight the direful trump of slander sounds; Through the big dome the doubling thunder bounds; Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies, The dire report through ev'ry region flies, In ev'ry ear incessant rumours rung, And gath'ring scandals grew on ev'ry tongue. From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke: The pois’nous vapour blots the purple skies, And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defianc in their looks they bore: “For thee” (they cried) “amidst alarms and strife, We sailed in tempests down the Cream of life ; F r thee whole nations. hled wit'i flames and blood, And swam to empire through 'e purple flood. Those ills we dar d, thy ins iracion own, What virtue seemed, was done f - thee alone.” “ Ambitious fools! (the Queen rep ed, and frowned) “Be all your acts in dark oblivion drownel; There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone, Your statues mouldered, and your ..ames nknown!” A sudden cloud straight snatched them from my
sight, And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen; Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien. “Great idol c. mankind: we neither claim The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame! But safe in deserts from the applause of men, Wouid die unheard of, as we lived unseen, 'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight Those acts of goodness, which themselves requite.
O let us still the secret joy partake,
To follow virtue even for virtue's sake.”
“And live there men, who slight immortal fame?
Who then with incense shall adore our name?
But mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride
To blaze those virtues, which the good would hide.
Rise! Muses, rise! add all your tuneful breath,
These must not sleep in darkness and in death.”
She said: in air the trembling music floats,
And « : the winds triumphant swell the notes ;
So soft, though high, so loud, and yet so clear,
Ev'n list’ning angels leaned from heav'n to hear:
To farthest shores th' ambrosial spirit flies,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows expressed, With feathers crowned, and gay embroid'ry dressed: “Hither," they cried, “ direct your eyes, and see The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry; . Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays, Sprightly our nights, polite are all our d ;s; Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care To pay due visits, and address the fair: In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade, But still in fancy vanquished ev': maid ; Of unknown duchesses lewd tales v; tell,.. Yet, would the world believe us, all were well. The joy let others have, and we the name, And what we want in pleasure, crant in fame."
The Queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies, And at each blast a lady's honour dies. (prest
Pleased with the strange success, vast numbers Around the shrine, and made the same request: “What? you,” (she cried) “unlearned in arts to
please, Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n fatigued with ease, Who lose a length of undeserving days, Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise ? To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall, The people's fable, and the scorn of all.” Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound, Loud jaughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round, Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud, And scornful hisses rura through all the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs doue,
Enslave their country, or usurp a throne;
Or who their glory's dire foundation laid
On sovereigns ruined, or on friends betrayed;
Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix;
Of crooked counsels and dark politics;
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make th' immortal treasons known,
The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire,
With sparks that seemed to set the world on fire.
At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast,
And startled nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, some pow'r unknown
Straight changed the scene,and snatched me from the
Before my view appeared a structure fair, [throne.
Its site uncertain, if in earth or air;
With rapid motion turned the mansion round;
With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound;
Not less in number were the spacious doors,
Than leaves on trees, or sands upon the shores;
Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day,
Pervious to winds, and open ev'ry way.
As flames by nature to the skies ascend,
As weighty bodies to the centre tend,
As to the sea returning rivers roll,
And the touched needle trembles to the pole;
Hither, as to their proper place, arise
All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whispered in the ear;
Nor even silence, rest, or peace, is here.
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes
The sinking stone at first a circle makes;
The trembling surface by the motion stirred,
Spreads in a second circle, then a third;
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance,
Fill all the wat’ry plain, and to the margin dance;
Thus every voice and sound, when first they break,
On neighb'ring air a soft impression make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above;
Through undulating air the sounds are sent,
And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and strife, Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life, Of loss and gain, of famine and of store,