Page images
PDF
EPUB

Hub. Come, boy, prepare yourself.
Arth. Is there no remedy?
Hub. None, but to lose your eyes.
Arth. O heaven ! — that there were but a mote in

yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense !
Then, feeling what small things are boistrous there,
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.

Hub. Is this your promise ? go to hold your tongue.

Arth. Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes; Let me not hold my tongue; let me not, Hubert ! Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue, So I may keep mine eyes : 0, spare mine eyes ; Though to no use but still to look on you ! Lo, by my troth, the instrument is cold, And would not harm me.

Hub. I can heat it, boy.

Arth. No, in good sooth, the fire is dead with grief, Being create for comfort, to be used In undeserved extremes : see else yourself; There is no malice in this burning coal; The breath of heaven hath blown his spirit out, And strewed repentant ashes on his head.

Hub. But with my breath I can revive it, boy.

Arth. And if you do, you will but make it blush,
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert:
Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle in your eyes ;
And, like a dog that is compelled to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things that you should use to do me wrong
Deny their office; only you do lack
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.

Hub. Well, see to live: I will not touch thine eyes,

For all the treasure that thine uncle owes : *
Yet am I sworn, and I did purpose, boy,
With this same very iron to burn them out.

Arth. O, now you look like Hubert! all this while You were disguised.

Hub. Peace! no more. Adieu !
Your uncle must not know but you are dead :
I 'll fill these dogged spies with false reports.
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless, and secure,
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
Will not offend thee.

Arth. O heaven! I thank you, Hubert.

Hub. Silence; no more. Go closely in with me. Much danger do I undergo for thee.

SHAKSPERE.

HORATIUS.

Lars PORSENA of Clusium

By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin

Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,

And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East ånd west and south and north,

To summon his array.
East and west and south and north

The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage

Have heard the trumpet's blast.

* Owns.

Shame on the false Etruscan

Who lingers in his home, When Porsena of Clusium

Is on the march for Rome.
The horsemen and the footmen

Are pouring in amain
From many a stately market-place;

From many a fruitful plain ;
From many a lonely hamlet,

Which, hid by beech and pine, Like an eagle's nest, hangs on the crest Of purple Apennine.

* * * * * Tall are the oaks whose acorns

Drop in dark Auser's rill; Fat are the stags that champ the boughs

Of the Ciminian hill ;
Beyond all streams Clitumnus

Is to the herdsman dear;
Best of all pools the fowler loves

The great Volsinian mere.
But now no stroke of woodman

Is heard by Auser's rill; No hunter tracks the stag's green path

Up the Ciminian hill; Unwatched along Clitumnus

Grazes the milk-white steer; Unharmed the water-fowl may dip

In the Volsinian mere. The harvests of Arretium,

This year, old men shall reap; This year, young boys in Umbro

Shall plunge the struggling sheep ;

And in the vats of Luna,

This year the must shall foam Round the white feet of laughing girls,

Whose sires have marched to Rome.

[blocks in formation]

To eastward and to westward

Have spread the Tuscan bands ; Nor house, nor fence, nor dovecote,

In Crustumerium stands. Verbenna down to Ostia

Hath wasted all the plain ; Astur hath stormed Janiculum,

And the stout guards are slain. I wis, in all the Senate,

There was no heart so bold, But sore it ached, and fast it beat,

When that ill news was told.
Forthwith up rose the Consul,

Up rose the Fathers all;
In haste they girded up their gowns,

And hied them to the wall.
They held a council standing

Before the River-gate;
Short time was there, ye well may guess,

For musing or debate.
Out spoke the Consul roundly :

“The bridge must straight go down ; For, since Janiculum is lost,

Nought else can save the town.” Just then a scout came flying,

All wild with haste and fear: “To arms! to arms! Sir Consul !

Lars Porsena is here.”

On the low hills to westward

The Consul fixed his eye,
And saw the swarthy storm of dust

Rise fast along the sky.

And nearer fast and nearer

Doth the red whirlwind come;
And louder still and still more loud,
From underneath that rolling cloud,
Is heard the trumpet's war-note proud,

The trampling and the hum.
And plainly and more plainly

Now through the gloom appears,
Far to left and far to right,
In broken gleams of dark-blue light,
The long array of helmets bright,

The long array of spears.

[blocks in formation]

[Here Horatius, Lartius, and Herminius undertake to keep back the enemy from passing the bridge till it can be hewn down.]

Meanwhile the Tuscan army,

Right glorious to behold,
Came flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright

Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded

A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,

Where stood the dauntless Three.

The Three stood calm and silent,

And looked upon the foes,

« PreviousContinue »