She [the Roman Catholic Church] may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Pauls.1
On Rankes History of the Popes. 1840.
Note 1. The same image was employed by Macaulay in 1824 in the concluding paragraph of a review of Mitfords Greece, and he repeated it in his review of Mills Essay on Government in 1829. What cities, as great as this, have promised themselves immortality! Posterity can hardly trace the situation of some. The sorrowful traveller wanders over the awful ruins of others . Here stood their citadel, but now grown over with weeds; there their senate-house, but now the haunt of every noxious reptile; temples and theatres stood here, now only an undistinguished heap of ruins.Goldsmith: The Bee, No. iv. (1759.) A City Night-Piece. Who knows but that hereafter some traveller like myself will sit down upon the banks of the Seine, the Thames, or the Zuyder Zee, where now, in the tumult of enjoyment, the heart and the eyes are too slow to take in the multitude of sensations? Who knows but he will sit down solitary amid silent ruins, and weep a people inurned and their greatness changed into an empty name?Volney: Ruins, chap. ii. The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York, in time a Virgil at Mexico, and a Newton at Peru. At last some curious traveller from Lima will visit England, and give a description of the ruins of St. Pauls, like the editions of Balbec and Palmyra.Horace Walpole: Letter to Mason, Nov. 24, 1774. Where now is Britain? . . . . Even as the savage sits upon the stone That marks where stood her capitols, and hears The bittern booming in the weeds, he shrinks From the dismaying solitude. Henry Kirke White: Time. In the firm expectation that when London shall be a habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul and Westminster Abbey shall stand shapeless and nameless ruins in the midst of an unpeopled marsh, when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some Transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges and their historians.Shelley: Dedication to Peter Bell the Third. [back]