« PreviousContinue »
Perchance may heed 'em: Tell him too, that one
Who had such liberal power to give, may still
With equal power resume that gift, and raise
A tempest that shall shake her own creation
To its original atoms—tell me! say,
This mighty Emperor, this dreaded Hero,
Has he beheld the glittering front of war?
Knows his soft ear the trumpet's thrilling voice,
And outcry of the battle? Have his limbs
Sweat under iron harness? Is he not
The silken son of dalliance, nurs'd in Ease
And Pleasure's flowery lap?—Rubellius lives,
And Sylla has his friends, tho' school'd by fear
To bow the supple knee, and court the times
With shows of fair obeisance; and a call,
Like mine, might serve belike to wake pretensions
Drowsier than their's, who boast the genuine blood
Of our imperial house.
Did I not wish to check this dangerous passion, I might remind my mistress that her nod
Can rouse eight hardy legions, wont to stem
With stubborn nerves the tide, and face the rigour
Of bleak Germania's snows. Four, not less brave,
That in Armenia quell the Parthian force
Under the warlike Corbulo, by you
Mark'd for their leader: These, by ties confirm'd,
Of old respect and gratitude, are yours.
Surely the Masians too, and those of Egypt,
Have not forgot your sire: The eye of Rome
And the Prætorian camp have long rever’d,
With custom'd awe, the daughter, sister, wife,
And mother of their Cæsars.
Ha! by Juno, It bears a noble semblance. On this base My great revenge shall rise; or say we sound The trump of liberty ; there will not want, Even in the servile senate, ears to own Her spirit-stirring voice; Soranus there, And Cassius; Vetus too, and Thrasea, Minds of the antique cast, rough, stubborn souls,
That struggle with the yoke. How shall the spark
Unquenchable, that glows within their breasts,
Blaze into freedom, when the idle herd
(Slaves from the womb, created but to stare,
And bellow in the Circus) yet will start,
And shake 'em at the name of liberty,
Stung by a senseless word, a vain tradition,
As there were magic in it? Wrinkled beldams
Teach it their grandchildren, as somewhat rare
That anciently appear'd, but when, extends
Beyond their chronicle-oh! 'tis a cause
To arm the hand of childhood, and rebrace
The slacken'd sinews of time-wearied age.
Yes, we may meet, ungrateful boy, we may !
Again the buried genius of old Rome
Shall from the dust uprear his reverend head,
Rous'd by the shout of millions: There before
His high tribunal thou and I appear.
Let majesty sit on thy awful brow,
And lighten from thy eye: Around thee call
The gilded swarm that wantons in the sunshine
Of thy full favour; Seneca be there
In gorgeous phrase of laboured eloquence
To dress thy plea, and Burrhus strengthen it
With his plain soldier's oath, and honest seeming.
Against thee, liberty and Agrippina:
The world the prize ; and fair befal the victors.
But soft! why do I waste the fruitless hours
In threats unexecuted? Haste thee, fly
These hated walls that seem to mock
shame, And cast me forth in duty to their lord.
"Tis time we go, the sun is high advanc'd, And, ere mid-day, Nero will come to Baiæ.
My thought aches at him; not the basilisk
More deadly to the sight, than is to me
The cool injurious eye of frozen kindness.
I will not meet its poison. Let him feel
Before he sees me.
ACERONIA. Why then stays my sovereign, Where he soon may
Yes, I will be gone, But not to Antium-all shall be confessid, Whate'er the frivolous tongue of giddy fame Has spread among the crowd ; things that but
Have arch'd the hearer's brow, and rivetted
His eyes in fearful ecstasy: No matter
What; so't be strange, and dreadful,-Sorceries,
Assassinations, poisonings—the deeper
My guilt, the blacker his ingratitude.
And you, ye manes of Ambition's victims,
Enshrined Claudius, with the pitied ghosts
Of the Syllani, doom'd to early death,
(Ye unavailing horrors, fruitless crimes !)
If from the realms of night my voice ye hear,
In lieu of penitence, and vain remorse,
Accept my vengeance. Tho' by me ye bled,