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-I cannot speak; my joy's too great for utterance. -Oh, I could weep!--my sons, my sons are chosen Their country's combatants; not one, but all!
Horatia. My brothers, said you, sir?
Horatius. All three, my child,
All three are champions in the cause of Rome.
Oh, happy state of fathers ! thus to feel
New warmth revive, and springing life renew'd
Even on the margin of the gravel
Valeria. The time
Of combat, is it fix'd?
Horatius. This day, this hour Perhaps decides our doom.
Valeria. And is it known With whom they must engage ?
Horatius. Not yet, Valeria ;
But with impatience we expect each moment
The resolutions of the Alban senate.
And soon may they arrive, that ere we quit
Yon hostile field, the chiefs who dar'd oppose
Rome's rising glories, may with shame confess
The gods protect the empire they have rais’d.
Where are thy smiles, Horatia? Whence proceeds
This sullen silence, when my thronging joys
Want words to speak them? Pr’ythee, talk of empire,
Talk of those darlings of my soul, thy brothers.
Cail them whate'er wild fancy can suggest,
Their country's pride, the boast of future times,
The dear defence, the guardian gods of Romel
By Heaven, thou stand'st unmov'd, nor feels thy
The charms of glory, the extatic warmth
Which beams new life, and lifts us nearer Heaven!
Horatia. My gracious father, with surprise and
I heard the tidings, as becomes your daughter,
And like your daughter, were our sex allow'd
The noble privilege which man usurps,
Could die with pleasure in my country's cause.
But yet, permit a sister's weakness, sir,
To feel the pangs of nature, and to dread
The fate of those she loves, however glorious,
And sure they cannot all survive a conflict
So desperate as this.
Horatius. Survive! By Heaven,
I could not hope that they should all survive. .
No; let them fall. If from their glorious deaths
Rome's freedom spring, I shall be nobly paid
For every sharpest pang the parent feels.
Had I a thousand sons, in such a cause
I could behold them bleeding at my feet,
And thank the gods with tears!
Enter PubliUS HORATIUS. Pub. My father!
[Offering to kneel. Horatius. Hence! Kneel not to me--stand off; and let me view At distance, and with reverential awe, The champion of my country l-Oh, my boy!
That I should live to this my soul's too full; Let this and this speak for me.-Bless thee, bless thee
[Embracing him. But wherefore art thou absent from the camp? Where are thy brothers ? Has the Alban state Determin'd? is the time of conibat fix'd?
Pub. Think not, my lord, that filial reverence, However due, had drawn me from the field, Where nobler duty calls; a patriot's soul Can feel no humbler ties, nor knows the voice Of kindred, when his country claims his aid. It was the king's command I should attend you, Else had I staid 'till wreaths immortal grac'd My brows, and made thee proud indeed to see Beneath thy roof, and bending for thy blessing, Not thine, Horatius, but the son of Rome ! Horatius. Oh, virtuous pride ! -'tis bliss 100 ex
quisite For human sense !-thus, let me answer thee.
[Embracing him again. Where are my other boys?
Pub. They only wait
'Till Alba's loitring chiefs declare her champions,
Our future victims, sir, and with the news
Will greet their father's ear.
Horatius. It shall not need,
Myself will to the field. Come, let us haste,
My old blood boils, and my tumultuous spirits
Pant for the onset. O, for one short hour
Of vigorous youth, that I might share the toil
Now with my boys, and be the next my last /
Horatia. My brother!
Pub. My Horatia l ere the dews
Of evening fall, thou shalt with transport own me;
Shalt hold thy country's saviour iu thy arms,
Or bathe his honest bier with tears of joy.
Thy lover greets thee, and complains of absence
With many a sigh, and many a longing look
Sent tow'rd the towers of Rome.
Horatia. Methinks, a lover
Might take th' advantage of the truce, and bear
His kind complaints himself, not trust his vows
To other tongues, or be oblig'd to tell
The passing winds his passion,
Pub. Dearest sister,
He with impatience waits the lucky moment
That may with honour bear him to your arms,
Didst thou but hear how tenderly he talks,
How blames the dull delay of Alban councils,
And chides the ling’ring minutes as they pass,
'Till fate determines, and the tedious chiefs
Permit his absence, thou wouldst pity him.
But soon, my sister, soon shall every bar
Which thwarts thy happiness be far away.
We are no longer enemies to Alba,
This day unites us, and tomorrow's sun
May hear thy vows, and make my friend my brother.
Horatius. [Having talked apart with Valeria. ['Tis
truly Roman... Here's a maid, Horatia, Laments her brother lost the glorious proof
Of dying for his country.--Come, my son,
Her softness will infect thee; proythee, leave her.
Horatia. [Looking first on her father, and then tenderly
on her brother.] Not 'till ny soul has pour'd
its wishes for him. Hear me, dread god of war, protect and save him!
[Knecling. For thee, and thy immortal Rome, he fights 1 Dash the proud spear from every hostile hand That dare oppose him; may each Alban chief Fly from his presence, or his vengeance feel! And when in triumph he returns to Rome, [Rising. Hail him, ye maids, with grateful songs of praise, And scatter all the blooming spring before him ; Curs'd be the envious brow that smiles not then, Curs'd be the wretch that wears one mark of sorrow, Or flies not thus with open arms to greet him.
Enter Tullus HOSTILIUS, VALERIUS, and Guards.
Valerius. The king, my lord, approaches.
Horatius. Gracious sir,
Whence comes this condescensioni
Tullus. Good old nan;
Could I have found a nobler messenger,
I would have spar'd myself th' ungrateful task
Of tbis day's embassy, for much I fear
My news will want a welcome.
Horatius. Mighty king!
Forgive an old man's warmth--They have not sure