Page images

No sound of joy or sorrow was heard from either bank :

But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,

Stood gazing where he sank:
And when above the surges they saw his crest appear,

All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany

Could scarce forbear to cheer.
Never, I ween, did swimmer, in such an evil case,
Struggle through such a raging flood safe to the landing place ;
But his limbs were borne up bravely by the brave heart within,
And our good father Tiber bare bravely up his chin.
And now he feels the bottom ; now on dry earth he stands ;
Now round him throng the Fathers to press his gory hands;
And now, with shouts and clapping, aud noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the River-Gate, borne by the joyous crowd.
When the goodman mends his armour, and trims his helmet's plume ;
When the goodwife's shuttle merrily goes flashing through the loom ;-
With weeping and with laughter still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old.

By kind permission of Messrs. Longmans, Green, & Co.
OVER the Alban mountains, the light of morning broke;
From all the roofs of the Seven Hills curled the thin wreaths of smoke:
The city gates were open ; the Forum all alive
With buyers and with sellers, was humming like a hive :
Blithely on brass and timber the craftsman's stroke was ringing,
And blithely o’er her panniers the market-girl was singing ;
And blithely young Virginia came smiling from her home-
Ah! woe for young Virginia, the sweetest maid in Rome.
With her small tablets in her hand, and her satchel on her arm,
Forth she went bounding to the school, nor dreamed of shame or harm.
She crossed the Forum shining with the stalls in alleys gay,
And just had reached the very spot whereon I stand this day,
When up the varlet Marcus came ; not such as when, ere while,
He crouched behind his patron's heels, with the true client smile :
He came with lowering forehead, swollen features, and clenched fist,
And strode across Virginia's path, and caught her by the wrist :
Hard strove the frighted maiden, and screamed with look aghast-
And at her scream from right and left the folk came running fast ;
And the strong smith, Muræna, gave Marcus such a blow,
The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go :
Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled, in harsh fell tone,
She's mine, and I will have her : I seek but for mine own.
She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold,
The year of the sore sickness, ere she was twelve hours old.

[ocr errors]

I wait on Appius Claudius ; I waited on his sire :
Let him who works the client wrong beware the patron's ire!”
-But ere the varlet Marcus again might seize the maid,
Who clung tight to Muræna's skirt, and sobbed, and shrieked for aid,
Forth through the throng of gazers the young Icilius pressed,
And stamped his foot, and rent his gown, and smote upon his breast,
And beckoned to the people, and, in bold voice and clear,
Poured thick and fast the burning words which tyrants quake to hear.

Straightway Virginius led the maid a little space aside,
To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with horn and hide ;
Hard by, a flesher on a block had laid his whittle down-
Virginius caught the whittle up and hid it in his gown;
And then his eyes grew very dim, and his throat began to swell,
And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, “ Farewell, sweet child,

farewell !”
Oh! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be,
To thee, thou know'st, I was not so. Who could be so to thee ?
And how my darling loved me! How glad she was to hear
My footsteps on the threshold, when I came back last year !
And how she danced with pleasure to see my civic crown,
And took my sword, and hung it up, and brought me forth my gown:
Now, all those things are over-yes, all thy pretty ways-
Thy needlework, thy prattle, thy snatches of old lays ;
And none will grieve when I go forth, or smile when I return,
Or watch beside the old man's bed, or weep upon his urn.

The time is come; see how he points his eager hand this way! See, how his eyes gloat on thy grief, like a kite's upon the prey. With all his wit he little deems, that, spurned, betrayed, bereft, Thy father hath, in his despair, one fearful refuge left. He little deems, that in this hand I clutch what still can save Thy gentle youth from taunts and blows, the portion of the slave ; Yea, and from nameless evil, that passeth taunt and blow-. Foul outrage, which thou knowest not, which thou shalt never know ! Then clasp me round the neck once more, and give me one more kiss ; And now, mine own dear little girl, there is no way—BUT THIS!”

- With that he lifted high the steel, and smote her in the side, And in her blood she sank to earth, and with one sob she died !

THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.Hood.) With fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, plying her needle and thread : Stitch ! stitch ! stitch ! in poverty, hunger, and dirt : And still, with a voice of dolorous pitch, she sang the “ Song of the


[ocr errors]

“Work! work ! work! while the cock is crowing aloof!'
And work ! work! work! till the stars shine thro' the roof.
It's oh ! to be a slave along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save, if this is Christian work !
“ Work! work ! work! till the brain begins to swim ;
Work! work! work! till the eyes are heavy and dim !
Seam, and gusset, and band-band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep, and sew them on in a dream !
“O men, with sisters dear !-0 men, with mothers and wives !
It is not linen you're wearing out, but human creatures' lives!
Stitch ! stitch ! stitch ! in poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread, a shroud as well as a shirt.
“ But wł, do I talk of death--that phantom of grisly bone ?
I hardly ii. · terrible shape, it seems so like my own
It seems so like my own, because of the fasts I keep :
Alas! that bread should be so dear, and flesh and blood so cheap !
Work! work ! work! my labour never flags :
And what are its wages ? A bed of straw-a crust of bread -and rags ;
That shattered roof - this naked floor-a table-a broken chair –
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank for sometimes falling there !
“ Work ! work! work! from weary chime to chime ;
Work ! work ! work ! as prisoners work for crime !
Band, and gusset, and seam-seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed, as well as the weary

hand. “Work! work! work ! in the dull December light, And work ! work ! work ! when the weather is warm and bright; While underneath the eaves the brooding swallows cling, As if to show me their sunny backs, and twit me with the Spring. “Oh, but to breathe the breath of the cowslip and primrose sweetWith the sky above my head, and the grass beneath my feet ; For only one short hour to feel as I used to feel, Before I knew the woes of want, and the walk that costs a meal ! “Oh, but for one short hour ! a respite however brief ! No blessed leisure for love or hope, but only time for grief ! A little weeping would ease my heart ; but in their briny bed My tears must stop, for every drop hinders needle and thread.” With fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red, A woman sat, in unwomanly rags, plying her needle and thread. Stitch ! stitch ! stitch ! in poverty, hunger, and dirt ; And still with a voice of dolorous pitch. (Would that its tone could reach the rich !) She sang this “ Song of the Shirt ”.

SOLITUDE.—(H. K. White.) It is not that my lot is low, that bids the silent tear to flow ; it is not grief that bids me moan,-it is, that I am all alone. In woods and glens I love to roam, when the tired hedger hies him home, or by the woodland pool to rest, when the pale star looks on its breast. Yet, when the silent evening sighs, with hallowed airs and symphonies, my spirit takes another tone, and sighs that it is all alone. The autumn leaf is sear and dead, it floats upon the water's bed; I would not be a leaf, to die without recording sorrow's sigh! The woods and winds, with sullen wail, tell all the same unvaried tale; I've none to smile when I am free, and when I sigh, to sigh with me! Yet in my dreams a form I view, that thinks on me, and loves me too : I start, and when the vision's flown, I weep that I am all alone.


[ocr errors]

And is there care in heaven? And is there love

In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move ?

There is :-else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts : but O! th' exceeding grace

Of highest God, that loves His creatures so,
And all His works with mercy doth embrace,

That blessed angels He sends to and fro,

To serve to wicked man, to serve His foe!
How oft do they their silver bowers leave

To come to succour us that succour want!
How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The finty skies, like flying pursuivant,
Against foul fiends to aid us militant !

They for us tight, they watch aud duly ward,
And their bright squadrons round about us plant;

And all for love and nothing for reward :
O, why should heavenly God to men have such regard.

PATRIOTISM.—(Cowper.) He is the freeman whom the truth makes free And all are slaves besides. There's not a chain That bellish foes confederate for his harm Can wind around him, but he casts it off With as much ease as Sampson his green withes; He looks abroad unto the varied field Of Nature, and, though poor perhaps compared With those whose mansions glitter in his sight, Calls the delightful scenery all his own. His are the mountains, and the valleys his, And the resplendent rivers : his to enjoy With a propriety that none can feel, But who, with filial confidence inspired, Can lift to Heaven an unpresumptuous eye, And smiling say, My Father made them all! Are they not his by a peculiar right, And by an emphasis of interest his, Whose eye they fill with tears of holy joy, Whose heart with praise, and whose exalted mind With worthy thoughts of that unwearied love That planned, and built, and still upholds a world So clothed with beauty, for rebellious man? Yes—ye may fill your garners, ye that reap The loaded soil, and ye may waste much good In senseless riot ; but ye will not find In feast or in the chase, in song or dance, A liberty like his, who, unimpeached Of usurpation, and to no man's wrong, Appropriates nature as his Father's work, And has a richer use of yours, than you. He is indeed a freeman. Free by birth Of no mean city planned or ere the hills Were built, the fountains opened, or the sea With all his roaring multitude of waves. His freedom is the same in every state; And no condition of this changeful life So manifold in cares, whose every day Brings its own evil with it, makes it less. For he has wings that neither sickness, pain, Nor penury, can cripple or confine. No nouk so narrow but he spreads them there With ease, and is at large. The oppressor holds His body bound, but knows not what a range His spirit takes, unconscious of a chain ; And that to bind him is a vain attempt, Whom God delights in, and in whom He dwells.

« PreviousContinue »