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28. BELIAL'S ADDRESS, OPPOSING WAR.- Milton.
I SHOULD be much for open war, O Peers, As not behind in hate, if what was urged, Main reason to persuade immediate war, Did not dissuade me most, 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.
Ir 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
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?
30. CATILINE TO THE GALLIC CONSPIRATORS.—Original Adaptation from Croty. MEN of Gaul!
What would you give for Freedom?
For Freedom, if it stood before your eyes;
For Freedom, if it rushed to your embrace;
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-a 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- not upon the earth,
A man so wronged. The very ground I tread
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
For lucre. 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,
and fixed as fate
Το you and yours forever!
The State is weak as dust.
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
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!
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 you 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,
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,- for, this hour,
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:
Few as we are, we 'll rouse them with a peal
That shall shake Rome!.
Now to your cohorts' heads; the word 's
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;