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Here glittering turrets rise, upbearing high
And prop the pile they but adorned before.
Here grotto within grotto safe defies
The growing wonder takes a thousand shapes
The sun-beam. There emboss'd and fretted wild
Capricious, in which fancy seeks in vain
The likeness of some object seen before.
As she with all her rules can never reach.
Less worthy of applause though more admired,
Because a novelty, the work of man,
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ!
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak,
✦ 'Twas nature's will; who sometimes undertakes, For the reproof of human vanity,
Art to outstrip in her peculiar walk.
The pillar'd vestibule,
Expanding yet precise, the roof
Excursion, p. 263.
Might seem design'd to humble man, when proud
Of his best workmanship by plan and tool.
Wordsworth. Second Sonn. on Staffa.
The sport of nature, aided by blind chance
Excursion, p. 101.
The wonder of the north. No forest fell
When thou would'st build; no quarry sent its stores
To enrich thy walls: but thou didst hew the floods,
The gloomy clouds find weapons, arrowy sleet3
Silently as a dream the fabric rose.
No sound of hammer or of saw was there.
Were soon conjoined, nor other cement ask'd
Gleamed through the clear transparency, that seemed
5 Sharp sleet of arrowy showers. Par. Reg. iii. 324. Iron sleet of arrowy shower.
6 There was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building. 1 Kings, vi. 7.
7 As when the sun new risen. Par. Lost, i. 594.
That royal residence might well befit,
For grandeur or for use.
Of flowers that feared no
Long wavy wreaths enemy but warmth,
Blushed on the pannels.
Mirror needed none
Where all was vitreous, but in order due
Convivial table and commodious seat
(What seemed at least commodious seat,) were there, Sofa and couch and high-built throne august.
The same lubricity was found in all,
And all was moist to the warm touch, a scene
Of evanescent glory, once a stream,
And soon to slide into a stream again.
Alas! 'twas but a mortifying stroke
On human grandeur and the courts of kings.
Intrinsically precious: to the foot
Treacherous and false, it smiled and it was cold.
Great princes have great playthings. Some have played
At hewing mountains into men, and some
See Kircher's description of the Grotto of Antiparos, in Goldsmith's Nat. vol. i. c. 8.
In several places magnificent columns, thrones, altars, and other objects appeared, as if nature had designed to mock the curiosities of art. &c.
By pyramids and mausolean pomp,
Short-lived themselves, to immortalize their bones.
And make the sorrows of mankind their sport.
When Babel was confounded, and the great
And equal, and he bade them dwell in peace.
Peace was awhile their care. They plough'd and sow'd
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests.
Par. Lost, iv. 601.
Of his descending progeny was found
And those in self-defence.
These fought for spoil, Savage at first
The onset, and irregular. At length
One eminent above the rest, for strength,
Was chosen leader. Him they served in war,
And him in peace for
Reverenced no less.
sake of warlike deeds
Who could with him compare?
Or who so worthy to controul themselves
As he whose prowess had subdued their foes?
Thus war affording field for the display
Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peace 10,
No less renowned than war. Milton. Sonnet xvi.