Imágenes de páginas

They through all shapes of peril and of pain,
Intent on honour, dar'd in thickest death
To snatch the glorious deed. Nor Trebia quell'd,
Nor Thrasymene, nor Canna's bloody field,
Their dauntless courage; storming Hannibal
In vain the thunder of the battle roll'd,
The thunder of the battle they return'd
Back on his Punic shores; till Carthage fell,
And danger fled afar. The city gleam'd
With precious spoils : alas, prosperity!
Ah, baneful state! yet ebb'd not all their strength
In soft luxurious pleasures; proud desire

Of boundless sway, and feverish thirst of gold,
Rous'd them again to battle. Beauteous Greece,
Torn from her joys, in vain with languid arm
Half rais'd her rusty shield; nor could avail
The sword of Dacia, nor the Parthian dart;
Nor yet the car of that fam'd British chief,
Which seven brave years, beneath the doubtful wing
Of Victory, dreadful roll❜d its griding wheels
Over the bloody war: the Roman arms
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 glittering trophy to the wind.

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 storin, and summer-beam,
Superior to their rage: enfeebling vice
Withers each nerve, and opens every pore
To painful feeling: flowery bowers they seek
(As ether prompts, as the sick sense approves)
Or cool Nymphean grots; or tepid baths
(Taught by the soft Ionians); they, along
The lawny vale, of every beauteous stone,
Pile in the roseat air with fond expense:
Through silver channels glide the vagrant 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; unnumber'd 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,
Is there none,
Their native glorious freedom.
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 usurer, through the crowd he mounts,
Beneath his feet the Roman eagle cowers,

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. Tyranny, howe'er,
Deign'd to walk forth awhile in pageant state,
And with licentious pleasures fed the rout,
The thoughtless many: to the wanton sound
Of fifes and drums they danc'd, or in the shade
Sung Cæsar, great and terrible in war,
Immortal Cæsar! Lo, a god, a god,

He cleaves the yielding skies! Cæsar meanwhile
Gathers the ocean pebbles; or the gnat
Enrag'd pursues; or at his lonely meal
Starves a wide province; tastes, dislikes, and flings
To dogs and sycophants. A god, a god!
The flowery shades and shrines obscene return,

But see along the north the tempests swell
O'er the rough Alps, and darken all their snows!
Sudden the Goth and Vandal, dreaded names,
Rush as the breach of waters, whelming all
Their domes, their villas; down the festive piles,
Down fall their Parian porches, gilded baths,
And roll before the storm in clouds of dust.

Vain end of human strength, of human skill,
Conquest, and triumph, and domain, and pomp,
And ease, and luxury! O Luxury,
Bane of elated life, of affluent states,

• Didius Julianus, who bought the empire.

What dreary change, what ruin is not thine?
How doth thy bowl intoxicate the mind!
To the soft entrance of thy rosy cave
How dost thou lure the fortunate and great!
Dreadful attraction! while behind thee gapes
Th' unfathomable gulph where Asher lies
O'erwhelm'd, forgotten; and high-boasting Cham;
And Elam's haughty pomp; and beauteous Greece;
And the great queen of Earth, imperial Rome.


WILLIAM SHENSTONE, a popular and agreeable

poet, was born at Hales-Owen, Shropshire, in 1714. His father was an uneducated gentleman farmer, who cultivated an estate of his own, called the Leasowes. William, after passing through other instruction, was removed to that of a clergyman at Solihull, from whom he acquired a fund of classical literature, together with a taste for the best English writers. In 1732 he was entered of Pembroke College, Oxford, where he formed one of a set of young men who met in the evenings at one another's chambers, and read English works in polite literature. He also began to exercise his poetical talent upon some light topics; but coming to the possession of his paternal property, with some augmentation, he indulged himself in rural retirement, and forgetting his calls to college residence, he took up his abode at a house of his own, and commenced gentleman. In 1737 he printed anonymously a small volume of juvenile poems, which was little noticed. His first visit to London, in 1740, introduced him to the acquaintance of Dodsley, who printed his "Judgment of Hercules," dedicated to

« AnteriorContinuar »