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The growing towers like exhalations rise,
The eastern front was glorious to behold,
95 And the great founder of the Persian name: There in long robes the royal magi stand ; Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand; The sage Chaldeans, robed in white, appear'd; And Brachmans, deep in desert woods revered. These stopp'd the moon, and call'd the unbodied shades
101 To midnight banquets in the glimmering glades; Made visionary fabrics round them rise, And airy spectres skim before their eyes; Of talismans and sigils knew the power, 105 And careful watch'd the planetary hour. Superior, and alone, Confucius stood, Who taught that useful science, to be good.
96 And the great founder of the Persian name. Cyrus was the beginning of the Persian, as Ninus was of the Assyrian monarchy. The Magi and Chaldeans, the chief of whom was Zoroaster, employed their studies on magic and astrology, which was, in a manner, almost all the learning of the ancient Asian people. We have scarce any account of a moral philosopher except Confucius, the great law giver of the Chinese, who lived about 2000 years ago.--Pope.
107 Confucius stood. Congfutzee (for that was his name) florisbed about 2300 years ago, just before Pythagoras : he taught justice, obedience to parents, humility, and universal benevolence; and he practised these virtues when he was a first minister, and when he was reduced to poverty and exile. His family still exists in China, and is highly honored and respected.--Warton.
But on the south, a long majestic race Of Egypt's priests the gilded niches grace, 110 Who measured earth, described the starry spheres, And traced the long records of lunar years. High on his car, Sesostris struck my view, Whom sceptred slaves in golden harness drew : His hands a bow and pointed javelin hold; 115 His giant limbs are arm’d in scales of gold. Between the statues obelisks were placed, And the learn'd walls with hieroglyphics graced.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side, 119 O'erwrought with ornaments of barbarous pride : There huge colosses rose, with trophies crown'd; And Runic characters were graved around. There sat Zamolxis with erected eyes, And Odin here in mimic trances dies. There on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood, The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood, 126 Druids and bards, their once loud harps unstrung; And youths that died to be by poets sung.
110 Egypt's priests, 8c. The learning of the old Egyptian priests consisted for the most part in geometry and astronomy : they also preserved the history of their nation. The greatest hero on record is Sesostris, whose actions and conquests may be seen at large in Diodorus, &c. He is said to have caused the kings he vanquished to draw him in his chariot. The posture of his statue, in these verses, is correspondent to the description which Herodotus gives of one of them remaining in his own time.-Pope.
Of Gothic structure was the northern side. The architecture is agreeable to that part of the world : the learning of the northern nations lay more obscure than that of the rest. Zamolxis was the disciple of Pythagoras, who taught the immortality of the soul to the Scythians : Odin, or Woden, was the great legislator and hero of the Goths.-Pope.
127 Druids and bards, 8c. These were the priests and poets
These, and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
The temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold, Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold; Raised on a thousand pillars, wreathed around With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd : 140 Of bright transparent beryl were the walls, The friezes gold, and gold the capitals : As heaven with stars, the roof with jewels glows, And ever-living lamps depend in rows. Full in the passage of each spacious gate, 145 The sage historians in white garments wait; Graved o’er their seats the form of Time was found, His scythe reversed, and both his pinions bound. Within stood heroes, who through loud alarms In bloody fields pursued renown in arms. 150 High on a throne with trophies charged, I view'd The youth that all things but himself subdued; of those people, so celebrated for their savage virtue. Those heroic barbarians accounted it a dishonor to die in their beds, and rushed on to certain death in the prospect of an after-life, and for the glory of a song from their bards in praise of their actions.-Pope.
152 The youth that all things but himself subdued. Alexander the Great: the tiara was the crown peculiar to the Asian princes : his desire to be thought the son of Jupiter Ammon caused him to wear the horns of that god, and to represent the same on his coins ; which was continued by several of his successors.-Pope.
His feet on sceptres and tiaras trod,
; Bold Scipio, savior of the Roman state ; Great in his triumphs, in retirement great; 164 And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind, With boundless power, unbounded virtue join'd, His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suffering heroes next their honors claim, Those of less noisy and less guilty fame, Fair Virtue's silent train : supreme of these 170 Here ever shines the godlike Socrates : He whom ungrateful Athens could expel, At all times just, but when he sign'd the shell:
162 Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood. Timoleon had saved the life of his brother Timophanes in the battle between the Argives and Corinthians; but afterwards killed him when he affected the tyranny, preferring his duty to bis country to all the obligations of blood.-Pope.
172 He whom ungrateful Athens, &c. Aristides, who for his great integrity was distinguished by the appellation of the Just.' When his countrymen would have banished him by the ostracism, where it was the custom for every man to sign the name of the person he voted to exile in an oyster-shell, a peasant, who could not write, came to Aristides to do it for him, who readily signed his own naine.-Pope.
Here his abode the martyrd Phocion claims,
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
wall : Motion and life did every part inspire; Bold was the work, and proved the master's fire; A strong expression most he seem'd to affect, And here and there disclosed a brave neglect. 195
174 Martyr'd Phocion. Who, when he was about to drink the herlock, charged his son to forgive his enemies, and not to revenge his death on those Athenians who had decreed it.Warton.
178 But in the centre of the hallow'd choir, &c. In the midst of the temple, nearest the throne of Fame, are placed the greatest names in learning of all antiquity : these are described in such attitudes as express their different characters: the columns on which they are raised are adorned with sculptures, taken from the most striking subjects of their works ; which sculpture bears a resemblance, in its manner and cha. racter, to the manner and character of their writings.-Pope.