O warie wisedome of the man* that would
That Carthage towres from spoile should be forborne,
To th’end that his victorious people should
With cancring laisure not be overworne!
He well foresaw how that the Romane courage,
Impatient of pleasures faint desires,
Through idlenes would turne to civill rage,
And be her selfe the matter of her fires.
For in a people given all to ease,
Ambition is engendred easily;
As, in a vicious bodie, grose disease
Soone growes through humours superfluitie.
That came to passe, when, swolne with plenties pride,
Nor prince, nor peere, nor kin, they would abide.
[* I.e. Scipio Nasica.]
If the blinde Furie which warres breedeth oft
Wonts not t’enrage the hearts of equall beasts,
Whether they fare on foote, or flie aloft,
Or armed be with clawes, or scalie creasts,
What fell Erynnis, with hot burning tongs,
Did grype your hearts with noysome rage imbew’d,
That, each to other working cruell wrongs,
Your blades in your owne bowels you embrew’d?
Was this, ye Romanes, your hard destinie?
Or some old sinne, whose unappeased guilt
Powr’d vengeance forth on you eternallie?
Or brothers blood, the which at first was spilt
Upon your walls, that God might not endure
Upon the same to set foundation sure?
O that I had the Thracian poets harpe,
For to awake out of th’infernall shade
Those antique Caesars, sleeping long in darke,
The which this auncient citie whilome made!
Or that I had Amphions instrument,
To quicken with his vitall notes accord
The stonie ioynts of these old walls now rent,
By which th’Ausonian light might be restor’d!
Or that at least I could with pencill fine
Fashion the pourtraicts of these palacis,
By paterne of great Virgils spirit divine!
I would assay with that which in me is
To builde, with levell of my loftie style,
That which no hands can evermore compyle.
Who list the Romane greatnes forth to figure,
Him needeth not to seeke for usage right
Of line, or lead, or rule, or squaire, to measure
Her length, her breadth, her deepnes, or her hight;
But him behooves to vew in compasse round
All that the ocean graspes in his long armes;
Be it where the yerely starre doth scortch the ground,
Or where colde Boreas blowes his bitter stormes.
Rome was th’whole world, and al the world was Rome;
And if things nam’d their names doo equalize,
When land and sea ye name, then name ye Rome,
And, naming Rome, ye land and sea comprize:
For th’auncient plot of Rome, displayed plaine,
The map of all the wide world doth containe.