Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]





See the wild waste of all-devouring years!
How Rome her own sad sepulchre appears:
With nodding arches, broken temples spread!
The very tombs now vanish'd like their dead!
Some felt the silent stroke of mould’ring age;
Some, hostile fury; some, religious rage:
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.
Perhaps by its own ruins sav'd from flame,
Some bury'd marble half preserves a name;
That name, the learn’d with fierce disputes pursue,
And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.

Ambition sigh’d. She found it vain to trust
The faithless column, and the crumbling bust;
Huge moles whose shadow stretch'd from shore to shore,
Their ruins perish'd, and their place no more!
Convinc'd, she now contracts her vast design;
And all her triumphs shrink into a coin.
A narrow orb each crowded conquest keeps;
Beneath her palm here sad Judea weeps;.
Now scantier limits the proud arch confine,
And scarce are seen the prostrate Nile and Rhine:
A small Euphrates through the piece is rollid;
And little eagles wave their wings in gold.

The medal, faithful to its charge of fame, Through climes and ages bears each form and name: In one short view, subjected to our eye, Gods, emp’rors, heroes, sages, beauties lie. With sharpen'd sight pale antiquaries pore, Th'inscription value, but the rust adore : Vol. V.


This, the blue varnish, that, the green endears,
The sacred rust of twice ten hundred years.
To gain Pescennius one employs his schemes;
One grasps a Cecrops in ecstatic dreams :
Poor Vadius, long with learned spleen devour'd,
Can taste no pleasure since his shield was scour'd;
And Curio, restless by the fair one's side,
Sighs for an Otho, and neglects his bride.

Theirs is the vanity, the learning thine.
Toucli’d by thy hand, again Rome's glories shine:
Her gods, and godlike heroes rise to view,
And all her faded garlands bloom anew.
Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage;
These pleas'd the fathers of poetic rage;
The verse and sculpture bore an equal part,
And art reflected images to art.

O when shall Britain, conscious of her claim,
Stand emulous of Greek and Roman fame?
In living medals see her wars enroll’d,
And vanquish'd realms supply recording gold?
Here, rising bold, the patriot's honest face;
There, warriors frowning in historic brass.
Then future ages with delight shall see,
How Plato's, Bacon's, Newton's looks agree :
Or in fair series laureld bards be shown,
A Virgil there, and here an Addison,
Then shall thy Craggs (and let me call him mine)
On the cast ore, another Pollio, shine;
With aspect open shall erect his head,
And round the orb in lasting notes be read.
“ Statesman, yet friend to truth! in soul sincere,
In action faithful, and in honour clear;
Who broke no promise, serv'd no private end,
Who gain'd no title, and who lost no friend;
Ennobled by himself, by all approv'd,
And prais'd, unenvy'd, by the muse he lov’d.”

[ocr errors]







CYNTHIO, Eugenius, and Philander had retired together from the town to a country village, that lies upon the Thames. Their design was to pass away the heats of the summer among the fresh breezes that rise from the river, and the agreeable mixture of shades and fountains, in which the whole country naturally abounds. They were all three very well versed in the politer parts of learning, and had travelled into the most refined nations of Europe: so that they were capable of entertaining themselves on a thousand different subjects, without running into the common topics of defaming public parties, or particular persons. As they were intimate friends, they took the freedom to dissent from one another in discourse, or, upon occasion, to speak a Latin sentence without fearing the imputation of pedantry or ill-breeding.

They were one evening taking a walk together in the fields, when their discourse accidentally fell upon several unprofitable parts of learning. It was Cynthio's humour to run down every thing that was rather for ostentation than use. He was still preferring good sense to arts and sciences, and often took a pleasure to appear ignorant, that he might the better turn to ridicule those that valued themselves on their books and studies, though at the same time one might very well see that he could not have attacked many parts of learning so successfully, had not he borrowed his assistances from them. After having rallied a set or two of virtuosos, he fell upon the medallists.

These gentlemen, says he, value themselves upon being critics in rust, and will undertake to tell


the different ages of it, by its colour. They are possessed with a kind of learned avarice, and are for getting together hoards of such money only as was current among the Greeks and Latins. There are several of them that are better acquainted with the faces of the Antonines than of the Stuarts, and would rather chuse to.count out a sum in sesterces than in pounds sterling. I have heard of one in Italy that used to swear by the head of Otho. Nothing can be pleasanter than to see a circle of these virtuosos about a cabinet of medals, descanting upon the value, rarity, and authenticalness of the several pieces that lie before them. One takes up a coin of gold, and, after having well weighed the figures and inscription, tells you very gravely, if it were brass, it would be invaluable. Another falls a ringing a Pescennius Niger, and judiciously distinguishes the sound of it to be modern. A third desires you to observe well the Toga on such a reverse, and asks you whether you can in conscience believe the sleeve of it to be of the true Roman cut.

I must confess, says Philander, the knowledge of medals has most of those disadvantages that can render a science ridiculous, to such as are not well versed in it. Nothing is more easy than to represent as impertinences any parts of learning that have no immediate relation to the happiness or convenience of mankind. When a man spends his whole life among the stars and planets, or lays out a twelvemonth on the spots in the sun, however noble his speculations may be, they are very apt to fall into burlesque. But it is still more natural to laugh at such studies as are employed on low and vulgar objects. What curious

« ForrigeFortsæt »