Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/484

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440
[CANTO IV.
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

Colossal copyist of deformity—
Whose travelled phantasy from the far Nile's
Enormous model, doomed the artist's toils
To build for Giants, and for his vain earth,
His shrunken ashes, raise this Dome: How smiles
The gazer's eye with philosophic mirth,[1]
To view the huge design which sprung from such a birth!


CLIII.[2]

But lo! the Dome—the vast and wondrous Dome,[3][4]

To which Diana's marvel was a cell—

    Angelo, is situated on the banks of the Tiber, on the site of the "Horti Neronis." "It is composed of a square basement, each side of which measures 247 feet.... A grand circular mole, nearly 1000 feet in circumference, stands on the square basement," and, originally, "supported in its turn a cone of earth covered with evergreens, like the mausoleum of Augustus." A spiral way led to a central chamber in the interior of the mole, which contained, presumably, the porphyry sarcophagus in which Antoninus Pius deposited the ashes of Hadrian, and the tomb of the Antonines. Honorius (A.D. 428) was probably the first to convert the mausoleum into a fortress. The bronze statue of the Destroying Angel, which is placed on the summit, dates from 1740, and is the successor to five earlier statues, of which the first was erected in 1453. The conception and execution of the Moles Hadriana are entirely Roman, and, except in size and solidity, it is in no sense a mimic pyramid.—Ruins and Excavations, etc., by R. Lanciani, 1897, p. 554, sq.]

  1. The now spectator with a sanctioned mirth
    To view the vast design
    ——.—[MS. M.]

  2. This and the next six stanzas have a reference to the Church of St. Peter's. (For a measurement of the comparative length of this basilica and the other great churches of Europe, see the pavement of St. Peter's, and the Classical Tour through Italy, ii. 125, et seq., chap, iv.)
  3. Look to the dome——.—[MS. M.]
  4. [Compare The Prophecy of Dante, iv. 49-53—

    "While still stands
    The austere Pantheon, into heaven shall soar
    A dome, its image, while the base expands
    Into a fane surpassing all before,
    Such as all flesh shall flock to kneel in——"

    Compare, too, Browning's Christmas Eve, sect. x.—

    "Is it really on the earth,
    This miraculous dome of God?
    Has the angel's measuring-rod
    Which numbered cubits, gem from gem,
    'Twixt the gates of the new Jerusalem,
    Meted it out,—and what he meted,
    Have the sons of men completed?
    —Binding ever as he bade.
    Columns in the colonnade,
    With arms wide open to embrace
    The entry of the human race?"]