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CHILDE HAROLD'S PILGRIMAGE.
CANTO THE SECOND.
COME, blue-eyed maid of heaven!-- but thou, alas !
that bade thy worship to expire :
Of men who never felt the sacred glow
(1) Part of the Acropolis was destroyed by the explosion of a magazine during the Venetian siege.
(2) We can all feel, or imagine, the regret with which the ruins of cities, once the capitals of empires, are beheld: the reflections suggested by such objects are too trite to require recapitulation. But never did the littleness of man, and the vanity of his very best virtues, of patriotism to exalt, and of valour to defend his country, appear more conspicuous than in the record of what Athens was, and the certainty of what she now is. This theatre of contention between mighty factions, of the struggles of orators, the exaltation and deposition of tyrants, the triumph and punishment of generals, is now become a scene of petty intrigue and perpetual disturbance, between the bickering agents of certain British nobility and gentry. “The wild foxes, the owls and serpents in the ruins of Babylon," were surely less degrading than such inhabitants. The Turks have the plea of conquest for their tyranny, and the Greeks have only suffered the fortune of war, incidental to the bravest ; but how are the mighty fallen, when two painters contest the privilege of plundering the Parthenon, and triumph in turn, according to the tenor of each succeeding firman! Sylla could but punish, Philip subdue, and Xerxes burn Athens; but it remained for the paltry antiquarian, and his despicable agents, to render her contemptible as himself and his pursuits. The Parthenon, before its destruction in part, by fire during the Venetian siege, had been a temple, a church, and a mosque. In each point of view it is an object of regard : it changed its worshippers; but still it was a piace of worship thrice sacred to devotion : its violation is a triple sacrilege. But
“ Man, vain man,
Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Are sought in vain, and o'er each mouldering tower,
Son of the morning, rise! approach you here !
Vainly his incense soars, his victim bleeds ;
Bound to the earth, he lifts his eye to heaven -
Regard and weigh yon dust before it flies :
Or burst the vanish'd Hero's lofty mound ;
(1) It was not always the custom of the Greeks to burn their dead; the greater Ajax, in particular, was interred entire. Almost all the chiefs became gods after their decease; and he was indeed neglected, who had not annual games near his tomb, or festivals in honour of his memory by his countrymen, as Achilles, Brasidas, &c. and at last even Antinous, whose death was as heroic as his life was infamous.
Where demi-gods appear'd, as records tell.
Look on its broken arch, its ruin'd wall,
Can all saint, sage, or sophist ever writ,
Well didst thou speak, Athena's wisest son!
There no forced banquet claims the sated guest,
Yet if, as holiest men have deem'd, there be
Behold each mighty shade reveald to sight,
There, thou! - whose love and life together fled,
And woo the vision to my vacant breast :
Be as it may Futurity's behest,
Here let me sit upon
not be: nor ev'n can Fancy's eye
Yet these proud pillars claim no passing sigh ; Unmoved the Moslem sits, the light Greek carols by.
But who, of all the plunderers of yon fane
Yet they could violate each saddening shrine,
But most the modern Pict's ignoble boast,
Yet felt some portion of their mother's pains, (*)
(1) 'The temple of Jupiter Olympius, of which sixteen columns, entirely of marble, yet survive : originally there were 150. These columns, however, are by many supposed to belong to the Pantheon.
(2) The ship was wrecked in the Archipelago. (3) See Appendix to this Canto [A], for a note too long to be placed here. (4) I cannot resist availing myself of the permission of my friend Dr. Clarke, whose name requires no comment with the public, but whose sanction will add tenfold weight to my testimony, to insert the following extract from a very obliging letter of his to me, as a note to the above lines. 4. When the last of the Metopes was taken from the Parthenon, and, in moving of it, great part of the superstructure with