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Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
All nations now to Rome obedience pay.
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory." The reader who has been instructed in history, knows that this splendour has in the course of years passed away, and that though travellers still resort to Rome for the gratification of curiosity, yet the monuments of its greatness form the present attraction to it. Under the Emperors, such bloody civil wars raged at Rome, that it became an unsafe and unhappy residence; the arts of peace were neglected, and its population insensibly diminished. The Goths and other barbarians devastated the empire ; and in A. D. 476, Rome was abandoned by its last Emperor. Then Genseric and Alaric, two barbarian generals, with their infatuated armies, took and ravaged the city of the Cæsars. But they did not entirely demolish it—it has ever retained its name, and after its conquerors grew weary of destruction, civilization sprung up from its ashes.
In A. D. 800 Charlemagne, who included Italy in his dominions, yielded the city to the Pope, formerly the Bishop of Rome. From that time Rome became the capital of a new dominionthat of the Catholic religion ; and the fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, have attained to high perfection in modern Rome. Still Rome continually decays, and its present population little exceeds 100,000. Mr. Pope describes Rome thus :
“ See the wild waste of all-devouring years !
very toinbs now vanished like their dead!
Barbarian blindness, Christian zeal conspire,
And Papal piety, and Gothic fire.'These several causes contributed to the destruction of Rome. The Goths with undiscerning fury, burnt, battered down, and buried
many beautiful works of ancient art; and the Catholic Christians, finding among the buildings of Rome many heathen temples and many statues of ancient gods and heroes, thought it their duty to destroy those remains of Paganism.
Some buried marble half preserves a name. It has become desirable among the curious and the learned to recover as much as possible of the buried sculpture of ancient Rome. Much of this has been disinterred, and many disputes among connoisseurs have originated in the doubtful character of these marbles.
In describing the glories of the world, to disregard a place where the human mind had attained the highest perfection, and where the arts had flourished for ages, would have been an oversight not at all characteristic of the pervading intelligence which comprehended the various genius of them all. Therefore, before he descends from the mount of observation, the tempter stops awhile to point out the distinguishing genius of Athens. That city had then for two centuries been under the dominion of Rome, but her language, her monuments, her traditions, and many of her institutions still existed ; and thither the best educated of the Romans resorted to complete their course of study. Milton's verses represent Athens thus :
There flowery hill Hymeltus with the sound
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
To sage philosophy next lend thine ear,
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe. The poets, orators, and philosophical schools of Athens are only mentioned here. Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were the grave tragedians—teachers best Of moral prudence. The challenge of Phœbus means that Homer's poetry was declared by some to be that of Apollo himself. Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes, alludes to different measures and dialects of Greek poetry. He, who bred great Alexander, was the philosopher Aristotle. The chief of the thundering orators, was Demosthenes, who exhorted his countrymen by the most powerful eloquence to resist Philip of Macedon; and Socrates was so pure, humble, and powerful a moralist, that he has sometimes been compared with the founder of our religion.
Among the ancients, Comus was the god of low pleasuresof those noisy and foolish frolics which are suited to night rather than to day, and which some ignorant and intemperate people delight in. Milton's Masque of Comus is a beautiful poem : it is founded upon the supposed power which Comus possesses over the minds of the pure and wise, and over the weak and sensual.
Milton presumes that when men devote themselves to the rites of Comus, that is to excessive drinking, and, as the Gospel says, to "riotous living," they become in reality beasts, though they know not that they are thus degraded, but, that if the mind is firm in good principles it will resist every attraction of vice, and retain its innocence under the strongest temptations. Comus was written in the dramatic form, to be represented by the Earl of Bridgewater's family at Ludlow Castle.
The Fable of Comus is this—A beautiful lady, accompanied by her two brothers, is journeying through the perplexed paths of a drear wood. A spirit from heaven, charged with the care of the young travellers, secretly watches over them, but the brothers for a while are separated from their sister. The lady, in the absence of her brothers, is found by Comus, but she resists all his attractions, and though she is endangered, finally escapes from his
" Comus enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel glistening ; they come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands."
The lady hears this noise, but does not see the revellers. She is introduced listening and in doubt, but encouraging herself in her own innocence, and in the gracious protection of the “Su
The Lady enters.
This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
up among the loose unlettered hinds,