Page images


Would too to heaven Ye reverenc'd the gods but e'en enough Not to debase with slavery's cruel chain What they created free.


The Romans fight Not to enslave but humanize the world.


Go to, we will not parley with thee, Roman.
Instant pronounce our doom.


Hear it and thank us. This once our clemency shall spare your groves, If at our call ye yield the British king: Yet learn, when next ye aid the foes of Cæsar That each old oak, whose solemn gloom ye value, Shall bow beneath our axes.


Be they blasted Whene'er their shade forgets to shelter virtue.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Mourn, mourn, Caractacus is captive!
And dost thou smile, false Roman? Do not think
He fell an easy prey. Know, ere he yielded,
The bravest veterans bled. He too, thy spy,
The base Brigantian prince, hath sealed his fate
With death. Bursting through armed ranks that

The caitiff round, the brave Caractacus
Seized his false throat, and as he gave him death
Indignant thundered, “This is my last stroke,
The stroke of justice.” Numbers then oppressed

I saw the slave that cowardly behind
Pinioned his arms; I saw the sacred sword
Writhed from his grasp; I saw what now ye see-
Inglorious sight—these barbarous bonds upon him.

Enter CARACTACUS (guarded). Romans, methinks the malice of your tyrant Might furnish heavier chains. Old as I am, And wither'd as you see these war-worn limbs, Trust me they shall support the weightiest load Injustice does impose.

Proud-crested soldier, Who seem'st the master mover in this business,

[ocr errors]


Say, dost thou read less terror on my brow
Than when thou met'st me in the fields of war
Heading my nations ? No! my freeborn soul
Has scorn still left to sparkle in mine eyes,
And frown defiance on thee.

(He sees his son's body.)

Is it thus?
Then I'm indeed a captive. Mighty gods!
My soul, my will, submits! Patient it bears
The ponderous load of grief ye heap upon it;
Yes, it will grovel in this shattered breast,
And be the sad tame thing it ought to be,
Cooped in a servile body.


Droop not, king;
When Claudius, the great master of the world,
Shall hear the noble story of thy valour
His pity-


Can a Roman pity, soldier? And if he can, gods! must a Briton bear it? Arviragus, my bold, my breathless boy, Thou hast escaped such pity ; thou art free! Here in high Mona shall thy noble limbs Rest in a noble grave; posterity Shall to thy tomb with annual reverence bring Sepulchral stones, and pile them to the clouds, While mine

| Am I less terrible in my countenance.


The morn doth hasten our departure.
Prepare thee, king, to go, a fav’ring gale
Now swells our sails.


Be it so,

[ocr errors]

I know you Romans weep not for your children;
Ye triumph o'er your tears and think it valour.
I triumph in my tears. Yes, best-lov'd boy,
Yes, I can weep, can fall upon thy corse,
And I can tear my hairs, these few grey hairs,
The only honours war and age have left me.


But thou wast still implacable to Rome
And scorn'd her friendship.

[ocr errors]


Soldier, I had arms,
Had neighing steeds to whirl my iron cars,
Had wealth, dominion. Dost thou wonder, Roman,
I fought to save them? What if Cæsar aims
To lord it universal o'er the world,
Shall the world tamely crouch at Cæsar's footstool ?



(Alfred the Great, 849–901 ; Geoffrey Chaucer, 1328-1400.)

HERE in a little rustic hermitage
Alfred the Saxon king, Alfred the Great,
Postponed the cares of kingcraft to translate
The Consolations of the Roman sage."
Here Geoffrey Chaucer in his ripe old age
Wrote the unrivalled Tales which, soon or late,
The venturous hand that strives to imitate
Vanquished must fall on the unfinished page.
Two kings were they, who ruled by right divine,
And both supreme: one in the realm of Truth,
One in the realm of Fiction and of Song.
What prince hereditary of their line,
Uprising in the strength and flush of youth,
Their glory shall inherit and prolong?


· Alfred the Great translated into English the celebrated work entitled “ The Consolation of Philosophy," written by the Roman Boethius.

« PreviousContinue »