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The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold, Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold : Raised on a thousand pillars wreathed around With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd: Of bright transparent beryl were the walls, The friezes gold, and gold the capitals : As heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows, And ever-living lamps depend in rows. Full in the passage of each spacious gate, The sage historians in white garments wait; Graved o’er their seats the form of Time was
found, His scythe reversed, and both his pinions bound. Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms In bloody fields pursued renown in arms. High on a throne with trophies charged, I view'd The youth that all things but himself subdued ; His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod, And his born'd head belied the Libyan god. There Cæsar, graced with both Minervas, shone; Cæsar, the world's great master, and his own; Unmoved, superior still in every state, And scarce detested in his country's fate. But chief were those, who not for empire fought, But with their toils their people's safety bought: High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood ; Timoleon, glorious in his bruther's blood; Bold Scipio, saviour of the Roman state; Great in his triumphs, in retirement great ; And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind With boundless power unbounded virtue join'd, His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honours claim, Those of less noisy, and less guilty fame, Fair virtue's silent train : supreme of these Here ever shines the god-like Socrates; He whom ungrateful Athens could expel, At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell: Here his abode the martyr'd Phocian claims, With Agis, not the last of Spartan names : Unconquer'd Cato shews the wound he tore, And Brutus his ill genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
pompous columns o'er the rest aspire ;
A golden column next in rank appear'd,
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright,
The champions in distorted postures threat;
Here happy Horace tuned th’ Ausonian lyre
Here, in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
These massy columns in a circle rise, O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies : Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight, So large it spread, and swell'd 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 shew their sanguine dye, Bright azure rays from lively sapphires stream; And lucid amber casts a golden gleam. With various-colour'd light the pavement shone, And all on fire appear'd 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 seem'd her stature of a cubit's height; But swell’d to larger size the more I gazed, Till to the roof her towering front she raised.
With her the temple every moment grew,
Around these wonders as I cast a look,
the rich, the valiant, and the sage, And boasting youth, and narrative old age. Their pleas were different, their request the same; For good and bad alike are fond of Fame. Some she disgraced, and some with honours crown'd; 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 prayer:
Long have we sought t' instruct and please mankind, With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind; But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none, We here appeal to thy superior throne :
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
The goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
Next these the good and just, an awful train,
Since liying 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 th' exact intrinsic worth." • Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd,' Said Fame, “but high above desert renown'd: Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze, And the loud clarion labour in your praise.'
This band dismiss'd, behold another crowd Preferr'd the same request, and lowly bow'd: The constant tenour 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 every region flies, In every ear incessant rumours rung, And gathering scandals grew on every tongue. From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke; The poisonous vapour blots the purple skies, And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore, And proud defiance in their looks they bore : • For thee,' they cried, amidst alarms and strife, We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life ;'