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Rome's greatest wits, was loath'd, and all the world
Ransack'd for gold, which breeds the world decay;
And then large limits had their butting lands;
The ground which Curius and Camillus till'd,
Was stretch'd unto the fields of hinds unknown;
Again, this people could not brook calm peace;
Them freedoin without war might not suffice;
Quarrels were rife; greedy desire, still poor,
Did vile deeds; then 'twas worth the price of blood,
And deem'd renown to spoil their native town:
Force master'd right, the strongest govern'd all;
Hence came it that th' edicts were over-rul'd,
That laws were broke, tribunes with consuls strove,
Sale made of offices, and people's voices,
Bought by themselves and sold, and every year
Frauds and corruption in the field of Mars;
Hence interest and devouring usury sprang,
Faith's breach, and hence came war to most men
Now Caesar overpast the snowy Alps;
His mind was troubled, and he aim'd at war,
And coming to the ford of Rubicon,
At night in dreadful vision fearful Rome,
Mourning appear'd, whose hoary hairs were torn,
And on her turret-bearing head dispers'd,
And arms all naked, who with broken sighs,
And staring, thus bespoke, -“what meanst thou
Whither goes my standard? Romans if ye be,
And bear true hearts, stay! hear!” this spectacle
Struck Caesar's heart with fear, his hair stood up,
And faintness numm'd his steps there on the brink.
He thus cried out:—“Thou thunderer that guard's:
Rome's mighty walls, built on Tarpeian rock:
Ye gods of Phrygia and Július' line,
Quirinus' rites and Latian Jove advanc'd,
On Alba hill! O vestal flames! O Rome!
My thought's sole goddess, aid mine enterprise!
I hate thee not, to thee my conquests stoop,
Caesar is thine, so please it thee, thy soldier;
He, he afflicts Rome that made me Rome's foe."
This said, he laying aside all lets of war,
Approach'd the swelling stream with drum and en-
Like to a lion of scorch'd desert Afric, -
Who, seeing hunters, pauseth 'till fell wrath
And kingly rage increase, then having whisk'd
His tail athwart his back, and crest heav'd up,
With jaws wide open ghastly roaring out;
(Albeit the Moor's light javelin or his spear
Sticks in his side) yet runs upon the hunter.
In summer-time the purple Rubicon,
Which issues from a small spring, is but shallow,
And creeps along the vales, dividing just
The bounds of Italy from Cisalpine France:
But now the winter's wrath, and wat'ry moon
Being three days old, enforc'd the flood to swell.
And frozen Alps thaw'd with resolving winds.
The thunder-hoof'd horse, in a crooked line,
To 'scape the violence of the stream, first waded;
Which being broke, the foot had easy passage.
As soon as Caesar got unto the bank
And bounds of Italy; “Here! here!" saith he,
“An end of peace; here, end polluted laws :
Hence leagues and covenants! Fortune, thee I follow;
War and the destinies shall try my cause.”
This said, the restless general through the dark,
(Swifter than bullets thrown from Spanish slings,
Or darts which Parthians backward shoot) march'd on,
And then (when Lucifer did shine alone,
And some dim stars) he Ariminum enter'd.
Day rose and view'd these tumults of the war.
Whether the gods, or blust'ring south were cause
I know not, but the cloudy air did frown;
The soldiers having won the market-place,
There spread the colours, with confused noise
Of trumpet's clang, shrill cornets, whistling fifes;
The people started; young men left their beds,
And snatch'd arms near their household gods hung up,
Such as peace yields; worm-eaten leathern targets,
Through which the wood peer'd, headless darts, old
With ugly teeth of black rust foully scarr'd:
But sceing white eagles, and Rome's flags well
And lofty Caesar in the thickest throng,
They shook for fear, and cold benumm'd their limbs,
And muttering much, thus to themselves complain'd.
O walls unfortunate' too near to France,
Predestinate to ruin! all lands else
Have stable peace; here war's rage first begins;
We bide the first brunt, safer might we dwell,
Under the frosty bear, or parching east,
Waggons or tents, than in this frontier town.
We first sustain'd the uproars of the Gauls,
And furious Cymbrians and of Carthage Moors.
As oft as Rome was sack'd here 'gan the spoil.
Thus sighing whisper'd they, and none durst speak,
And shew their fear, or grief: but as the fields
When birds are silent thorough winter's rage,
Or sea far from the land, so all were wist.
Now light had quite dissolv'd the misty night,
And Caesar's mind unsettled musing stood:
But gods and fortune prick'd him to this war,
Infringing all excuse of modest shame,
And labouring to approve his quarrel good.
The angry senate urging Gracchus' deeds,
From doubtful Rome wrongly expell'd the tribunes
That crost them; both which now approach'd the
And with them Curio, sometime tribune too,
One that was fee'd for Caesar, and whose tongue
Could tune the people to the nobles' mind:
“Caesar” (said he) “while eloquence prevail'd,
And I might plead, and draw the commons' minds
To favour thee, against the senate's will,
Five years I lengthen'd thy command in France:
But law being put to silence by the wars,
We from our houses driven, most willingly
Suffered exile: let thy sword bring us home.
Now,while their part is weak and fears, march hence!
Where men are ready, lingering ever hurts:
In ten years won'st thou France; Rome may be won
With far less toil, and yet the honor's more;
Few battles fought with prosperous success
May bring her down, and with her all the world;
Nor shalt thou triumph when thou com'st to Rome;
Nor capital be adorn'd with sacred bays;
Envy denies ali; with thy blood must thou
Abide thy conquest past: the son decrees
T' expel the father; share the world thou can'st not;
Enjoy it all thou may'st.” Thus Curio spake
And therewith Caesar prone enough to war
Was so incensed as are Eleus' steeds
With clamors: who, though lock'dand chain'd installs,
Souse down the walls, and make a passage forth.
Straight summon'd he his several companies
Unto the standard: his grave look appeas'd
The wrestling tumult; and right hand made silence:
And thus he spake: “You that with me have borne
A thousand brunts, and tried me full ten years,
See how they quit our bloodshed in the north;
Our friend's death; and our wounds; our wintering
Under the Alps. Rome rageth now in arms
As if the Carthage Hannibal were near ;
Cornets of horse are muster'd for the field;
Woods turn'd to ships; both land and sea against us:
Had foreign wars ill-thriv'd, or wrathful France,
Pursu'd us hither, how were we bestead
When coming conqueror Rome afflicts me thus?