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Imperial wonders rais'd on Nations spoild,
Ambition sigh'd : She found it vain to trust
Ver. 6. Where mir’d with Slaves the groaning Martyr toild:] Palladio, speaking of the Baths of Dioclesian, says, “ Nell'edificazione delle quali, Dioclesiano tenne molti anni 140 mila Christiani a edificarle." W.
Ver. 6. groaning Martyr] Dodwell, in his Dissertationes Cyprianicæ, has undertaken to prove that the number of Martyrs was far less than hath been usually imagined. His opinion is combated by Mosheim in the 5th chapter of his excellent History of the Church.
Ver. 7. Huge Theatres,] Is this equal or superior to what Addison says on the same subject?
“ That on its public shows unpeopled Rome,
And held uncrowded nations in its womb.” Ver. 18. And give to Titus old Vespasian's due.] A fine insinuation of the want both of taste and learning in Antiquarians ; whose ignorance of characters misleads them (supported only by a name) against reason and history,
Ver. 19. Ambition sigh’d:] Such short personifications have a great effect. “ Silence was pleas'd,” says Milton ; which personHuge 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, 25 Beneath her Palm here sad Judea weeps. Now scantier limits the proud Arch confine, And scarce are seen the prostrate Nile or Rhine; A small Euphrates through the piece is roll’d, And little Eagles wave their wings in gold.
30 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,
35 Th’ inscription value, but the rust adore.
ification is taken, though it happens not to have been observed by any of his commentators, from the Hero and Leander of Musæus, v. 280.
Ver. 25. A narrow ORB each crowded Conquest keeps,] A ridicule on the pompous title of Orbis Romanus, which the Romans gave to their Empire. W.--No ridicule was nor could be here intended.
Ver. 27. the proud Arch] i. e. The triumphal Arch, which was generally an enormous mass of building.
Ver. 29. A small Euphrates] The two first-mentioned rivers, the Nile and Rhine, having been personified, the Euphrates should not have been spoken of a mere river. The circumstance in line 30, is very puerile and little.
Ver. 35. With sharpen'd sight pale Antiquaries pore,] Microscopic glasses, invented by Philosophers to discover the beauties in the minuter works of Nature, ridiculously applied by Antiquaries to detect the cheats of counterfeit medals. W.
This the blue varnish, that the green endears,
Ver. 37. This the blue varnish, that the green endears,] i. e. This a collecter of silver; that, of brass coins. W.
Ver. 39. To gain Pescennius) The lively and ingenious Young says, in his 4th Satire,
“How his eyes languish! how his thoughts adore
That touch'd the ruff that touch'd Queen Bess's chin.” How much wit has been wasted and misplaced in endeavouring to ridicule antiquarians, whose studies are not only pleasing to the imagination, but attended with many advantages to society, especially since they have been improved, as they lately have been, with singular taste and propriety, in elucidating what, after all, is the most interesting and important part of all history~the history of manners!
Ver. 41. Poor Vadius,] See his history, and that of his Shield, in the Memoirs of Scriblerus. W.
Ver. 43. And Curio, restless, &c.] The Historian Dio has given us a very extraordinary instance of this Virtuoso-taste. He tells us, that one Vibius Rufus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, was the fourth husband to Cicero's widow, Terentia, then upwards of a hundred years old, used to value himself on his being possessed of the two noblest pieces of Antiquity in the world, TULLY'S Widow and CÆSAR's Chair, that Chair in whfch he was assassinated in full Senate. W.
Ver. 44. Sighs for an Otho,] Charles Patin was banished from the Court because he sold Louis XIV. an Otho that was not gea nuine. Patin's Treatise on Medals is a good one. Ficorini, the
Theirs is the Vanity, the Learning thine : 45 Touch'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 ; 50
celebrated virtuoso at Florence, said to Mr. Spence, “ Addison did not go any great depth in the study of medals; all the knowledge he had of that kind, I believe, he received of me; and I did not give him above twenty lessons on that subject."
Ver. 48. her faded] In Winkelman’s History of Art among the Ancients, is to be found perhaps the best account of the gradual decay of painting, architecture, and medals, that can be read; abounding with many instances of the fate that has befallen many exquisite pieces of art. Among the rest he says, that when the Austrians took Madrid, Lord Galloway searched for a very celebrated Busto of Caligula, that he knew Cardinal G. Colonna had conveyed to Spain; which fine Busto he at last found in the Escurial, where it served for a weight of the church-clock. What Winkelman says of the Laocoon, vol. ii. sect. 3, is a capital piece of criticism and just taste; which he finishes by mentioning a matchless absurdity, worthy of the country where it is to be found, that in the Castle of St. Ildephonso in Spain there is a Relief of this group of Laocoon and his sons, with a figure of Cupid fluttering over their heads, as if flying to their assistance. As to the revival of arts in Italy, we have lately been gratified with a curious account of this important event, in the elegant History of the Life of Lorenzo de Medici, their chief restorer and protector. See particularly, chapter ix. p. 196.
Ver. 49. Nor blush, these studies thy regard engage ;] A senseless affectation, which some Authors of eminence have betrayed; who, when fortune or their talents have raised them to a condition to do without those arts, for which only they gained our esteem, have pretended to think letters below their character. This false shame M. Voltaire has very well, and with proper indignation, exposed in his account of Mr. Congreve: “ He had one defect, which was, his entertaining too mean an idea of his first profession (that of a Writer), though it was to this he owed his fame and fortune. He
The verse and sculpture bore as equal part,
Oh when shall Britain, conscious of her claim,
65 And round the orb in lasting notes be read,
spoke of his works as of trifles that were beneath him; and hinted to me, in our first conversation, that I should visit him upon no other foot than that of a gentleman, who led a life of plainness and simplicity. I answered, that had he been so unfortunate as to be à mere gentleman, I should never have come to see him; and I was very much disgusted at so unseasonable à piece of vanity." Letters concerning the English Nation, xix. W.
Ver. 53. Oh when shall Britain, &c.] A compliment to one of Mr. Addison's papers, in the Spectator, on this subject. W.
Ver. 62. A Virgil there,] Copied evidently from Tickell to Addison on his Rosamond;
“Which gain'd a Virgil and an Addison." This elegant copy of Verses was so acceptable to Addison, that it was the foundation of a lasting friendship betwixt them. Tickell deserves a higher place among poets than is usually allotted to him.