I T A L Y .


Rome, November 30th, 1792.

I'M lost in amaze on this classical ground,
'Midst the tombs of Antiquity scatter'd around ;
Association's dear charms with new beauties arise,
Enrapturing the heart, and delighting the eyes :
* Where sweet Tully harangu'd with most lofty decorum,
To the people assembled, and squeez'd in the forum ;
Here the Ox loudly bellows, re-echoes the Swine,
Yet he tickles our ears with his Speeches divine ;
And in the minds' eye, we still see him stand,
Declaiming, and joking, and waving his hand ;
As drunken Antonius, he sharply rebuk'd,
And told on the bench, how he hickup'd and puk'd :
Till Fulvia enrag'd by such cynical sneers,
Thrust her awl thro' his tongue, and cut off head and ears.
The next scenic spot did enchantingly suit us,
Where we saw Cæsar fall by his son Marcus-Brutus !
And You too my bastard he scornfully cry'd,
Tuck'd his robe round his rump, and most decently dy'd.
Now, thro' this delusion, we're led by a charm,
To pry, and to peep into — Horace's farm ;
We see his snug house, and his endive plants nigh,
Where now, smokes a dung-hill — next door to a stye.
With a Girl of the Town, there he waddled along,
And got drunk after dinner, and con'd a new song ;
In Winter, his Chloe heaped logs on the fire,
And sung wanton songs, while he thrum'd on the lyre ;
Here his Odes he indited, or penn'd his grave letters,
And still sup'd at home, if not ask'd by his betters ;
** But a card from Mecœnas — then frolic and gay.
He top'd like a Satyr, and laugh'd the whole day.

Now in Virgil's small hut, with due pathos we peep,
Where he tended his goats, cur'd the rot in his sheep,
Then commenc'd a Horse-Doctor, and as he grew bolder,
Sung Troy, Prince Æneas, and Dad on his shoulder ;
Augustus cry'd bravo! he sings well of quarrels,
I'll give him some cabbage to plant with his laurels ;
His ballad on Ploughing, no time will efface,
For he scatter's his dung with an air, and a grace.

There stands the Pantheon defying Jove's thunders,
†† The World is astonied ;—and Rome even wonders !
With its Doric's so stout, and Ionic's so thin,
And a hole in the top, just to the let light in :
At its dome pitch'd so high, with what rapture we stare,
Like a pot without cover-lid, glew'd to the air :
Here the Gods of the Earth, were as pris'ners detain'd,
And to check their desertion, were hand-cuff'd and chain'd ;
Yet they got a diploma, to soften their doom,
That as naturaliz'd Gods, they might practice at Rome.

Here Manlius the Hero, who crow'd like a cock,
When he drove off the Gauls, from his Tarpeian rock
Was encircled by honour, and high puff'd by fame,—
For the Sceptre of Tarquin, he then push'd his claim ;—
Tho' He ask'd for his brilliant exploits but a Crown,
Yet the knaves from the precipice tumbled him down !
So, the bravoes of France***, who assassin and rob,
Stout Orleans arrested, and smack'd off his nob ;
And Houchard††† bastil'd, till they rung his ding dong,
Still he play'd on the fiddle, and sung his death song.
But with anger indignant, the Muse strikes the lyre,
When she sees Virtue, Genius, with BAILLI expire ;
Where his noble career, BRISSOT gloriously ends,
Who died for his Country, and died with his friends ;
What higher eulogium to him, can I raise,
Than Loughborough's malice, and Lauderdale's praise !

Now for Statues, each cranny I curious explore,
Tho' at Florence§, the Harlot of Mars I adore ;
There wantons the chissel, in blushes and wishes,
And swells the red lip with the pout of kind kisses ;
How modest her glance, with her eye-lids up-lift,§§
While she seems as if looking about for her shift ;
She spreads forth her fingers, a screen to her breast,
And her smile just expresses—You see I'm not drest !
But I'm waiting for Mars, and I care not a jot,
I'm Venus, sans jupon, and he's sans-culotte :
You may look if you please—I'm not Pallas the prude,
Cupid stole off my zone, and you see I'm quite nude.

Apollo, here raptures the keen glancing fair,
Who worship his Godship y'clip'd Belvidere !
He strikes the sublime thro' the liver and marrow,
As he throws back his bow, and dispatches an arrow ;
O see how the Python, a Deity trims,
How jolly his chops, and what strength in his limbs !
If Daphne had seen him engag'd in this quarrel,
She ne'er would have bilk'd him, in shape of a laurel,
Or had he been in Eden, I firmly believe,
He'd have pierc'd the snake Satan, and sav'd mother Eve.
Now he shines in the sky, without rival or Peer,
A lamp to his sister, and light's Charioteer.
But mark how his Godship encircl'd with bays,
And dress'd like a butcher, that reprobate slays ;
For Marsyas was drunk, and presum'd out of whim
To play on his pipe, and to warble like him ;
Now he handles his knife with a flourishing grace,
And laughs, as the Satyr distorts his wry face ;
Tho' he bellows, and whines, and looks like a Turk,
Dan Phœbus with coolness goes on with his work :
Thus Aub'ry§§§ remarks, (tho' some Critics may smile),
How Shakespeare could skin a fat calf in high style ;
And hence Commentators exultingly hollo,
"Our Shakespeare's a God, as well as Apollo !"

Yet some think Coreggio, by one single piece,
Has exalted his brush, o'er the Artists of Greece ;
Where Mary and Joseph rest under a palmm,
Mary suckles the babe, while she's chanting a psalm ;
So chopping a boy, at a nipple ne'er seen,
Tho' scarce a year old, he appears as thirteen ;
Luscious dates from the tree, as the kind Joseph flings,
Mary dips in her jug, where the cool water springs ;
A group of Celestials, express their amaze,
While one holds the Ass, and invites him to graze ;
Else he in a frolic might wantonly stray,
If this sky-livery'd groom hadn't been in the way.

But the sons of the chissel would swear they surpass us,
If once they saw Raphael's display of Parnassusn ;
The Muses sing ballads, the God in the middle,
Scrapes out of all tune, for he scrapes on the fiddle ;
Homer swears that his Godship has lost all his fire,
And Virgil crys, zounds ! what's become of his lyre.
Ariosto and Danté are lavish of jeers ;
And Tasso runs off, with his thumbs in his ears.
To expiate his crime, how can Raphael ere hope
Who befiddles Apollo, to please an old Pope ?
But to pictures and statues, I now bid adieu,
Tho' you see with what taste I can write on Virtu !

To Letter 4


N O T E S.

* The Forum, which is now the Smithfield of Rome.

Cicero's Philippics.

** ——— Si nusquam es forte Vocatus
Ad Cœnam ———
    ——— Jusserit ad se
Mæcenas serum sub lumina prima venire
    Convivam, &c.

Lib. 2 Sat. 7. [29 ff.]

†† The World's just wonder, and even thine O Rome !

POPE. [Essay on Criticism, Part 2; not necessarily of the Pantheon]

*** The reader will excuse a few anachronisms, as some additions have been made to the original letters.

††† Mourir n'est rien—Air in the Deserter, which Houchard constantly sung to the fiddle, during his confinement.

§ The Venus of Medicis.

§§ For Uplifted—Milton.

§§§ "William Shakespear's father was a butcher ; while he was a boy, he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed a calf, he would do it in high style."

m The Madonna della Scodella, Correggio's most celebrated picture. — The Holy Family are represented in their flight to Egypt, resting under some palm-trees. Joseph is employed in twisting the branches together to form a shade for the mother and child. — A group of Angels are painted in a circle of glory, with looks full of admiration and respect. The child appears to be four or five years old, and one of the Angels is represented holding the Ass.

n Rafaelle's famous celebrated picture of Mount Parnassus. Homer, Pindar, &c. are placed near the summit, listening to the Muses and Apollo. Tasso, &c. are seated at the bottom of the Mount—Apollo plays the fiddle, instead of the lyre. This breach of Costume was designed as a compliment to one of the Pope's favourite Musicians, who is painted as Apollo.

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