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Is grudged me. Chieftains! ere the moon be down,
My land will be the Senate's spoil; my life,
The mark of the first villain that will stab
But there's a time at hand!— Gaze on! If I had thought you cowards, I might have come And told you lies. But you have now the thing I am; Rome's enemy, To you and yours forever! The State is weak as dust.
- and fixed as fate
Rome 's broken, helpless, heart-sick. Vengeance sits Above her, like a vulture o'er a corpse,
Soon to be tasted. Time, and dull decay,
Have let the waters round her pillar's foot;
And it must fall. Her boasted strength 's a ghost,
Fearful to dastards; — yet, to trenchant swords,
Thin as the passing air! A single blow,
In this diseased and crumbling state of Rome,
Would break your chains like stubble.
But "ye 've no swords"!
Have you no ploughshares, scythes?
When men are brave, the sickle is a spear!
Must Freedom pine till the slow armorer
Gilds her caparison, and sends her out
To glitter and play antics in the sun?
Let hearts be what they ought, - the naked earth
Will be their magazine; the rocks the trees
Nay, there's no idle and unnoted thing,
But, in the hand of Valor, will out-thrust
The spear, and make the mail a mockery!
31. CATILINE'S LAST HARANGUE TO HIS ARMY.- Id.
BRAVE comrades! all is ruined! I disdain
To hide the truth from you. The die is thrown!
And now, let each that wishes for long life
Put up his sword, and kneel for peace to Rome.
Ye are all free to go. What! no man stirs !
Not one! - a soldier's spirit in all?
Give me your hands! (This moisture in my eyes
Is womanish—'t will pass.) My noble hearts!
Well have you chosen to die! For, in my mind,
The grave is better than o'erburthened life;
Better the quick release of glorious wounds,
Than the eternal taunts of galling tongues;
Better the spear-head quivering in the heart,
Than daily struggle against Fortune's curse;
Better, in manhood's muscle and high blood,
To leap the gulf, than totter to its edge
In poverty, dull pain, and base decay.-
Once more, I
say, are ye resolved?
Then, each man to his tent, and take the arms
That he would love to die in, -
We storm the Consul's camp. - A last farewell!
When next we meet, we 'll have no time to look,
How parting clouds a soldier's countenance:
for, this hour,
Few as we are, we 'll rouse them with a peal
That shall shake Rome!
Now to your cohorts' heads; - the word 's-Revenge!
32. THE BARD'S SUMMONS TO WAR. -Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.
LEANING against a broken parapet,
Alone with Thought, mused Caradoc the Bard,
When a voice smote him, and he turned and met
A gaze, prophetic in its sad regard.
Beside him, solemn with his hundred years,
Spoke the arch hierarch of the Cymrian seers:
"In vain through yon dull stupor of despair
Sound Geraint's trump and Owaine's battle-cry;
In vain where yon rude clamor storms the air,
The Council Chiefs stem maddening mutiny;
From Trystan's mail the lion heart is gone,
And on the breach stands Lancelot alone!
Drivelling the wise, and impotent the strong!
Fast into night the life of Freedom dies;
Awake, Light-Bringer, wake, bright soul of song!
Kindler, reviver, re-creator, rise!
Crown thy great mission with thy parting breath,
And teach to hosts the Bard's disdain of death!"
"So be it, O voice from Heaven," the Bard replied:
"Some grateful tears may yet embalm my name:
Ever for human love my youth hath sighed,
And human love's divinest form is fame.
Is the dream erring? shall the song remain?
Say, can one Poet ever live in vain ?"
Then rose the Bard, and smilingly unstrung
His harp of ivory sheen, from shoulders broad;
Kissing the hand that doomed his life, he sprung
Light from the shattered wall, - and swiftly strode
Where, herdlike huddled in the central space,
Drooped, in dull pause, the cowering populace.
Slow, pitying, soft it glides, the liquid lay,—
Sad with the burthen of the Singer's soul;
Into the heart it coiled its lulling way;
Wave upon wave the golden river stole ;
Hushed to his feet forgetful Famine crept,
And Woe, reviving, veiled the eyes that wept.
Then stern, and harsh, clashed the ascending strain,
Telling of ills more dismal yet in store;
Rough with the iron of the grinding chain,
Dire with the curse of slavery evermore;
Wild shrieks from lips beloved pale warriors hear,
Her child's last death-groan rends the mother's ear!
Then trembling hands instinctive griped the swords ;
And men unquiet sought each other's eyes;
Loud into pomp sonorous swell the chords!
Like linked legions march the melodies!
Till the full rapture swept the Bard along,
And o'er the listeners rushed the storm of song!
And the Dead spoke! From cairns and kingly graves,
The Heroes called; and Saints from earliest shrines.
And the Land spoke!
Dim forests awful with the roar of pines;
Mysterious caves, from legend-haunted deeps;
And torrents flashing from untrodden steeps;
The Land of Freedom called upon the Free!
All Nature spoke; the clarions of the wind;
The organ swell of the majestic sea;
The choral stars; the Universal Mind
Spoke, like the voice from which the world began,
"No chain for Nature and the Soul of Man!"
As leaps the war-fire on the beacon hills,
Leapt in each heart the lofty flame divine;
As into sunlight flash the molten rills,
Flashed the glad claymores, lightening line on line;
From cloud to cloud as thunder speeds along,
From rank to rank rushed forth the choral song.
Woman and child—all caught the fire of men;
To its own Heaven that Alleluia rang;
Life to the spectres had returned again;
And from the grave an arméd Nation sprang!
33. CARADOC, THE BARD, TO THE CYMRIANS. — Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.
No Cymrian bard, by the primitive law, could bear weapons.
HARK to the measured march! - The Saxons come!
The sound earth quails beneath the hollow tread!
Your fathers rushed upon the swords of Rome,
And climbed her war-ships, when the Cæsar fled!
The Saxons come! why wait within the wall?
They scale the mountain: let its torrents fall!
Mark, ye have swords, and shields, and armor, YE!
No mail defends the Cymrian Child of Song;
But where the warrior, there the Bard shall be !
All fields of glory to the bard belong!
His realm extends wherever godlike strife
Spurns the base death, and wins immortal life.
Unarmed he goes his guard the shield of all,
Where he bounds foremost on the Saxon spear
Unarmed he goes, that, falling, even his fall
Shall bring no shame, and shall bequeath no fear!
Does the song cease? avenge it by the deed,
And make the sepulchre — a Nation freed!
34. ALFRED THE GREAT TO HIS MEN. - Original Adaptation from Knowles
My friends, our country must be free! The land
Is never lost that has a son to right her, -
And here are troops of sons, and loyal ones!
Strong in her children should a mother be:
Shall ours be helpless, that has sons like us?
God save our native land, whoever pays
The ransom that redeems her! Now, what wait we?
For Alfred's word to move upon the foe?
Upon him, then! Now think ye on the things
You most do love! Husbands and fathers, on
Their wives and children; lovers, on their beloved;
And all, upon their COUNTRY! When you use
Your weapons, think on the beseeching eyes,
To whet them, could have lent you tears for water!
O, now be men, or never! From your hearths
Thrust the unbidden feet, that from their nooks
Drove forth your agéd sires your wives and babes!
The couches, your fair-handed daughters used
To spread, let not the vaunting stranger press,
Weary from spoiling you! Your roofs, that hear
The wanton riot of the intruding guest,
That mocks their masters, - clear them for the sake
Of the manhood to which all that 's precious clings
Else perishes. The land that bore you 0!
Do honor to her! Let her glory in
Your breeding! Rescue her! Revenge her,-
Ne'er call her mother more! Come on, my friends'
And, where you take your stand upon the field,
However you advance, resolve on this,
That you will ne'er recede, while from the tongues
Of age, and womanhood, and infancy,
The helplessness, whose safety in you lies,
Invokes you to be strong! Come on! Come on!
I'll bring you to the foe! And when you meet him,
Strike hard! Strike home! Strike while a dying blow
Is in an arm! Strike till you 're free, or fall!
35. RIENZI TO THE ROMANS.-Mary Russell Mitford.
I come not here to talk. Ye know too well
The story of our thraldom. We are slaves!
The bright sun rises to his course, and lights
A race of slaves! He sets, and his last beam
Falls on a slave: not such as, swept along
By the full tide of power, the conqueror leads
To crimson glory and undying fame,-
But base, ignoble slaves! slaves to a horde
Of petty tyrants, feudal despots; lords,
Rich in some dozen paltry villages;
Strong in some hundred spearmen; only great
In that strange spell a name! Each hour, dark fraud,
Or open rapine, or protected murder,
Cry out against them. But this very day,
An honest man, my neighbor, -there he stands,
Was struck struck like a dog, by one who wore
The badge of Ursini! because, forsooth,
He tossed not high his ready cap in air,
Nor lifted up his voice in servile shouts,
At sight of that great ruffian! Be we men,
And suffer such dishonor? Men, and wash not
The stain away in blood? Such shames are common.
I have known deeper wrongs. I, that speak to ye, -
I had a brother once, a gracious boy,
Full of all gentleness, of calmest hope,
Of sweet and quiet joy; there was the look
Of Heaven upon his face, which limners give
To the beloved disciple. How I loved
That gracious boy! Younger by fifteen years,
Brother at once and son! He left my side,
A summer bloom on his fair cheeks- a smile
Parting his innocent lips. In one short hour,
The pretty, harmless boy was slain! I saw
The corse, the mangled corse, and then I cried
For vengeance! Rouse, ye Romans! Rouse, ye slaves!
Have ye brave sons? Look in the next fierce brawl
To see them die! Have ye fair daughters? Look