Page:The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero) - Volume 2.djvu/533

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CANTO IV.]
489
CHILDE HAROLD’S PILGRIMAGE.

a seer foretold to Agilulf, duke of Turin, an event which came to pass, and gave him a queen and a crown.[1] There was, however, something equivocal in this sign, which the ancient inhabitants of Rome did not always consider propitious; and as the fears are likely to last longer than the consolations of superstition, it is not strange that the Romans of the age of Leo X. should have been so much terrified at some misinterpreted storms as to require the exhortations of a scholar, who arrayed all the learning on thunder and lightning to prove the omen favourable; beginning with the flash which struck the walls of Velitræ, and including that which played upon a gate at Florence, and foretold the pontificate of one of its citizens.[2]


14.

There, too, the Goddess loves in stone.

Stanza xlix. line 1.

The view of the Venus of Medicis instantly suggests the lines in the Seasons; and the comparison of the object with the description proves, not only the correctness of the portrait, but the peculiar turn of thought, and, if the term may be used, the sexual imagination of the descriptive poet. The same conclusion may be deduced from another hint in the same episode of Musidora; for Thomson's notion of the privileges of favoured love must have been either very primitive, or rather deficient in delicacy, when he made his grateful nymph inform her discreet Damon that in some happier moment he might perhaps be the companion of her bath:—

"The time may come you need not fly."

The reader will recollect the anecdote told in the Life of Dr. Johnson. We will not leave the Florentine gallery without a word on the Whetter. It seems strange that the character of that disputed statue should not be entirely decided, at least in the mind of any one who has seen a sarcophagus in the vestibule of the Basilica of St. Paul without the walls, at Rome, where the whole group of the fable of Marsyas is seen

  1. Pauli Warnefridi Diaconi De Gestis Langobard., lib. iii. cap. xxxi., apud La Bigne, Max. Bibl. Patr., 1677, xiii. 177.
  2. I. P. Valeriani De fulminum significationibus declamatio, apud J. G. Græv., Thes. Antiq. Rom., 1696, v. 604. The declamation is addressed to Julian of Medicis.