MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN ITALY
Sight is at first a sad enemy to imagination and to those
pleasures belonging to old times with which some exertions of that
power will always mingle: nothing perhaps brings this truth home
to the feelings more than the city of Rome; not so much in respect
to the impression made at the moment when it is first seen and
looked at as a whole, for then the imagination may be invigorated
and the mind eye's quickened; but when particular spots or objects
are sought out, disappointment is I believe invariably felt.
Ability to recover from this disappointment will exist in
proportion to knowledge, and the power of the mind to reconstruct
out of fragments and parts, and to make details in the present
subservient to more adequate comprehension of the past.
IS this, ye Gods, the Capitolian Hill?
Yon petty Steep in truth the fearful Rock,
Tarpeian named of yore, and keeping still
That name, a local Phantom proud to mock
The Traveller's expectation?--Could our Will
Destroy the ideal Power within, 'twere done
Thro' what men see and touch,--slaves wandering on,
Impelled by thirst of all but Heaven-taught skill.
Full oft, our wish obtained, deeply we sigh;
Yet not unrecompensed are they who learn,
From that depression raised, to mount on high
With stronger wing, more clearly to discern
Eternal things; and, if need be, defy
Change, with a brow not insolent, though stern.