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He leads them through the hall, and, without stopping,
On through a farther range of goodly rooms, Splendid but silent, save in one, where, dropping, (')
A marble fountain echoes through the glooms Of night, which robe the chamber, or where popping
Some female head most curiously presumes To thrust its black eyes through the door or lattice, As wondering what the devil noise that is.
Some faint lamps gleaming from the lofty walls
Gave light enough to hint their farther way, But not enough to show the imperial halls
In all the flashing of their full array;
But saddens more by night as well as day,
Two or three seem so little, one seems nothing:
In deserts, forests, crowds, or by the shore, There solitude, we know, has her full growth in
The spots which were her realms for evermore;
(1) A common furniture. I recollect being received by Ali Pacha, in a large room, paved with marble, containing a marble basin, and fountain playing in the centre, &c. &c. [See antè, Vol. VIII. p. 92.
“ In marble-paved pavilion, where a spring
Of living water from the centre rose,
And soft voluptuous couches breathed repose,
But in a mighty hall or gallery, both in
More modern buildings and those built of yore, A kind of death comes o'er us all alone, Seeing what's meant for many with but one.
A book, friend, single lady, or a glass
Are things which make an English evening pass; Though certes by no means so grand a sight
As is a theatre lit up by gas.
Alas! man makes that great which makes him little:
I grant you in a church 'tis very well: What speaks of Heaven should by no means be brittle,
But strong and lasting, till no tongue can tell Their names who rear'd it; but huge houses fit ill
And huge tombsworse-mankind, since Adam fell: Methinks the story of the tower of Babel Might teach them this much better than I'm able.
Babel was Nimrod's hunting-box, and then
A town of gardens, walls, and wealth amazing, Where Nabuchadonosor, king of men,
Reign'd, till one summer's day he took to grazing,
(1) [MS._" A small, snug chamber on a winter's night,
Well furnish'd with a book, friend, girl, or glass," &c.] VOL. XVI.
And Daniel tamed the lions in their den,
The people's awe and admiration raising; 'Twas famous, too, for Thisbe and for Pyramus, (') And the calumniated queen Semiramis.—(2)
That injured Queen, by Chroniclers so coarse
Has been accused (I doubt not by conspiracy) Of an improper friendship for her horse
(Love, like religion, sometimes runs to heresy): This monstrous tale had probably its source
(For such exaggerations here and there I see) In writing “ Courser” by mistake for “ Courier :" I wish the case could come before a jury here. (3)
But to resume, — should there be (what may not
Be in these days ?) some infidels, who don't, Because they can't find out the very spot (4)
Of that same Babel, or because they won't
(1) [See Ovid's Metamorphoses, lib. iv.
“ In Babylon, where first her queen, for state,
Raised walls of brick magnificently great,
And she beyond the fairest nymph was fair." – GARTH.] (2) Babylon was enlarged by Nimrod, strengthened and beautified by Nabuchadonosor, and rebuilt by Semiramis.
(3) [At the time when Lord Byron was writing this Canto, the unfor. tunate affair of Queen Caroline, charged, among other offences, with admitting her chamberlain, Bergami, originally a courier, to her bed, was occupying much attention in Italy, as in England. The allusions to the domestic troubles of George IV. in the text, are frequent. — E.]
(4) [Excepting the ruins of some large and lofty turrets, like that of Babel or Belus, the cities of Babylon and Nineveh are so completely
(Though Claudius Rich, Esquire, some bricks has got,
And written lately two memoirs upon 't) (1)
Yet let them think that Horace has exprest
Shortly and sweetly the masonic folly
Who give themselves to architecture wholly; We know where things and men must end at best:
A moral (like all morals) melancholy, And “ Et sepulchri immemor struis domos”(2) Shows that we build when we should but entomb us.
crumbled into dust, as to be wholly undistinguishable but by a few in. equalities of the surface on which they once stood. The humble tent of the Arab now occupies the spot formerly adorned with the palaces of kings, and his flocks procure but a scanty pittance of food, amidst the fallen fragments of ancient magnificence. The banks of the Euphrates and Tigris, once so prolific, are 'now, for the most part, covered with impenetrable brushwood; and the interior of the province, which was traversed and fertilised with innumerable canals, is destitute of either inhabitants or vegetation. - MORIER]
(1) [" Two Memoirs on the Ruins of Babylon, by Claudius James Rich, Esq., Resident for the East India Company at the Court of the Pasha of Bagdat.”] (2)
[“ Tu secanda marmora
Immemor struis domos." - HOR,
At last they reach'd a quarter most retired,
Where echo woke as if from a long slumber; Though full of all things which could be desired,
One wonder'd what to do with such a number Of articles which nobody required;
Here wealth had done its utmost to encumber With furniture an exquisite apartment, Which puzzled Nature much to know what Art meant.
It seem'd, however, but to open on
A range or suite of further chambers, which Might lead to heaven knows where; but in this one
The moveables were prodigally rich:
The black, however, without hardly deigning
A glance at that which wrapt the slaves in wonder, Trampled what they scarce trod for fear of staining,
As if the milky way their feet was under With all its stars; and with a stretch attaining
A certain press or cupboard niched in yonder — In that remote recess which you may seeOr if you don't the fault is not in me,
(1) [MS. — " That you could but glide o'er them like a fish.”]