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Judge, O ye Gods, how dearly Cæsar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all !
For when the noble Cæsar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart!
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood! - great Cæsar fell!
0, what a fall was there, my countrymen !
Then I, and you, and all of us, fell down;
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us !
0, now you weep; and I perceive you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops !
Kind souls ! what! weep you when you but behold
Our Cæsar's vesture wounded ? - look
here! Here is himself, — marred, as you see, by traitors !
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of His tyranny who reigns
By our delay ? No, - let us rather choose,
Armed with hell-flames and fury, all at once
O’er Heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms
Against the Torturer ; when to meet the noise
Of His almighty engine He shall hear
Infernal thunder; and, for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among His angels; and His Throne itself
Mixed with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps
The way seems difficult and steep, to scale
With upright wing against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake benumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat: descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce Foe hung on our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight
We sank thus low? The ascent is
then : The event is feared : should we again provoke Our Stronger, some worse way His wrath may find To our destruction; if there be in hell Fear to be worse destroyed. — What can be worse Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemned, In this abhorréd deep, to utter woe, Where pain of unextinguishable fire Must exercise us without hope of end, The vassals of His
when the scourge
Inexorable and the torturing hour
Call us to penance ? More destroyed than thus,
We should be quite abolished, and expire.
What fear we, then ? What doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? which, to the height enraged,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential, — happier far,
Than miserable to have eternal being;
Or, if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are, at worst,
On this side nothing: and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb His Heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, His fatal Throne :
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.
28. BELIAL'S ADDRESS, OPPOSING WAR. - Milton.
I SHOULD be much for open war, 0 Peers, As not behind in hate, if what was urged, Main reason to persuade immediate war, Did not dissuade me and seem to cast Ominous conjecture on the whole success ; When he, who most excels in fact of arms, In what he counsels, and in what excels, Mistrustful, grounds his courage on despair And utter dissolution, as the scope Of all his aim, after some dire revenge! First, what revenge ? — The towers of Heaven are filled With arméd watch, that render all access Impregnable : oft on the bordering deep Encamp their legions : or, with obscure wing, Scout far and wide into the realm of night, Scorning surprise. - Or, could we break our way By force, and, at our heels, all hell should rise, With blackest insurrection, to confound Heaven's purest light; yet our great Enemy, All incorruptible, would, on His throne, Sit unpolluted; and the ethereal mould, Incapable of stain, would soon expel Her mischief, and purge off the baser fire, Victorious. Thus repulsed, our final hope Is flat despair : we must exasperate The Almighty Victor to spend all His rage, And that must end us; that must be our cure, To be no more. — Sad cure!—for who would lose, Though full of pain, this intellectual being; Those thoughts that wander through eternity, – To perish rather, swallowed up and lost In the wide womb of uncreated night, Devoid of sense and motion ? — And who knows, Let this be good, whether our angry Foe Can give it, or will ever ? How He can, Is doubtful; that He never will, is sure. Will He, so wise, let loose at once His ire, Belike through impotence, or unaware, To give His enemies their wish, and end Them in His anger, whom His anger saves To punish endless ? “Wherefore cease we, then ?” Say they, who counsel war : “we are decreed, Reserved, and destined to eternal woe: Whatever doing, what can we suffer more, What can we suffer worse?" Is this, then, worst, Thus sitting, thus consulting, thus in arms?
What! when we fled amain, pursued and struck
With Heaven's afflicting thunder, and besought
The deep to shelter us? this hell then seemed
A refuge from those wounds! or when we lay
Chained on the burning lake? that sure was worse.
What if the breath that kindled those grim fires,
Awaked, should blow them into seven-fold rage,
And plunge us in the flames ? or, from above,
Should intermitted vengeance arm again
His red right hand to plague us ? what, if all
Her stores were opened, and this firmament
Of hell should spout her cataracts of fire,
Impendent horrors, threatening hideous fall
One day upon our heads ? while we, perhaps
Designing or exhorting glorious war,
Caught in a fiery tempest, shall be hurled,
Each on his rock transfixed, the sport and prey
Of racking whirlwinds; or forever sunk
Under yon boiling ocean, wrapped in chains;
There to converse with everlasting groans,
Unrespited, unpitied, unreprieved,
Ages of hopeless end ? — this would be worse.
War, therefore, open or concealed, alike
My voice dissuades.
29. THE DEATH OF LEONIDAS. -- Rev. George Croly. It was the wild midnight, a storm was in the sky, The lightning gave its light, and the thunder echoed by; The torrent swept the glen, the ocean lashed the shore, Then rose the Spartan men, to make their bed in gore ! Swift from the deluged ground, three hundred took the shield; Then, silent, gathered round the leader of the field. He spoke no warrior-word, he bade no trumpet blow; But the signal thunder roared, and they rushed upon the foe. The fiery element, showed, with one mighty gleam, Rampart and flag and tent, like the spectres of a dream. All up the mountain side, all down the woody vale, All by the rolling tide, waved the Persian banners pale. And King Leonidas, among the slumbering band, Sprang foremost from the pass, like the lightning's living brand; Then double darkness fell, and the forest ceased to moan, But there came a clash of steel, and a distant dying groan. Anon, a trumpet blew, and a fiery sheet burst high, That o'er the midnight threw a blood-red canopy. A host glared on the hill; a host glared by the bay; But the Greeks rushed onward still, like leopards in their play.
The air was all a yell, and the earth was all a flame,
Where the Spartan’s bloody steel on the silken turbans came;
And still the Greek rushed on, beneath the fiery fold,
Till, like a rising sun, shone Xerxes' tent of gold.
They found a royal feast, his midnight banquet, there!
And the treasures of the East lay beneath the Doric spear :
Then sat to the repast the bravest of the brave !
That feast must be their last, that spot must be their grave.
They pledged old Sparta's name in cups of Syrian wine,
And the warrior's deathless fame was sung in strains divine.
They took the rose-wreathed lyres from eunuch and from slave,
And taught the languid wires the sounds that Freedom gave.
But now the morning star crowned Eta's twilight brow,
And the Persian horn of war from the hill began to blow;
Up rose the glorious rank, to Greece one cup poured high,
Then, hand in hand, they drank, — "To Immortality!”
Fear on King Xerxes fell, when, like spirits from the tomb,
With shout and trumpet-knell, he saw the warriors come ;
But down swept all his power, with chariot and with charge;
Down poured the arrowy shower, till sank the Dorian targe.
They marched within the tent, with all their strength unstrung;
To Greece one look they sent, then on high their torches flung;
To Heaven the blaze uprolled, like a mighty altar-fire;
And the Persians' gems and gold were the Grecians' funeral pyre.
Their King sat on his Throne, his Captains by his side,
While the flame rushed roaring on, and their pæan loud replied !
Thus fought the Greek of old! Thus will he fight again!
Shall not the self-same mould bring forth the self-same men?
CATILINE TO THE GALLIC CONSPIRATORS. - Original Adaptation from Croly.
MEN of Gaul !
What would you give for Freedom ? -
For Freedom, if it stood before your eyes ;
For Freedom, if it rushed to your
For Freedom, if its sword were ready drawn
To hew your chains off ?
Ye would give death or life! Then marvel not
That I am here — that Catiline would join you !
The great Patrician ? — Yes — an hour ago —
But now the rebel; Rome's eternal foe,
And your sworn friend! My desperate wrong's my pledge.
There 's not in Rome, no —
A man so wronged. The very ground I tread