Near this my Muse, what most delights her, sees
A living gallery of aged trees;
Bold sons of earth, that thrust their arms so high,
As if once more they would invade the sky. 70
In such green palaces the first kings reign’d,
Slept in their shades, and angels entertain’d;
With such old counsellors they did advise,
And, by frequenting sacred groves, grew wise.
Free from th’impediments of light and noise,
Man, thus retired, his nobler thoughts employs.
Here Charles contrives th’ordering of his states,
Here he resolves his neighb’ring princes’ fates;
What nation shall have peace, where war be made,
Determined is in this oraculous shade; 80
The world, from India to the frozen north,
Concern’d in what this solitude brings forth.
His fancy objects from his view receives;
The prospect thought and contemplation gives.
That seat of empire here salutes his eye,
To which three kingdoms do themselves apply;
The structure by a prelate raised, Whitehall,
Built with the fortune of Rome’s capitol;
Both, disproportion’d to the present state
Of their proud founders, were approved by Fate. 90
From hence he does that antique pile behold,
Where royal heads receive the sacred gold;
It gives them crowns, and does their ashes keep;
There made like gods, like mortals there they sleep;
Making the circle of their reign complete,
Those suns of empire! where they rise, they set.
When others fell, this, standing, did presage
The crown should triumph over popular rage;
Hard by that House, where all our ills were shaped,
Th’ auspicious temple stood, and yet escaped. 100
So snow on Aetna does unmelted lie,
Whence rolling flames and scatter’d cinders fly;
The distant country in the ruin shares;
What falls from heaven the burning mountain spares.
Next, that capacious Hall he sees, the room
Where the whole nation does for justice come;
Under whose large roof flourishes the gown,
And judges grave, on high tribunals, frown.
Here, like the people’s pastor he does go,
His flock subjected to his view below; 110
On which reflecting in his mighty mind,
No private passion does indulgence find;
The pleasures of his youth suspended are,
And made a sacrifice to public care.
Here, free from court compliances, he walks,
And with himself, his best adviser, talks;
How peaceful olives may his temples shade,
For mending laws, and for restoring trade;
Or, how his brows may be with laurel charged,
For nations conquer’d and our bounds enlarged. 120
Of ancient prudence here he ruminates,
Of rising kingdoms, and of falling states;
What ruling arts gave great Augustus fame,
And how Alcides purchased such a name.