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And Sylla has bis friends, though 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 theirs, 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 bave long revered,
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 them 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,
Roused 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 labour'd 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 befall the victors.
But soft! why do I waste the fruitless hours
In threats unexecuted ? Haste thee, fly
These hated walls that seem to mock my shame,
And cast me forth in duty to their lord.
'Tis time to go, the sun is high advanced,
And, ere midday, 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.
Why then stays my sovereign, Where he so soon may
Yes, I will be gone,
But not to Antium-all shall be confess'd,
Whate'er the frivolous tongue of giddy fame
Has spread among the crowd ; things that but whis
Have arch'd the hearer's brow, and riveted
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
In lieu of penitence, and vain remorse,
Accept my vengeance. Though by me ye bled,
He was the cause. My love, my fears for him,
Dried the soft springs of pity in my heart,
And froze them up with deadly cruelty.
Yet if your injured shades demand my fate,
If murder cries for murder, blood for blood,
Let me not fall alone; but crush his pride,
And sink the traitor in his mother's ruin. [Exeunt.
Thus far we're safe. Thanks to the rosy queen
Of amorous thefts: and had her wanton son
Lent us his wings, we could not have beguiled
With more elusive speed the dazzled sight
Of wakeful jealousy. Be gay securely ;
Dispel, my fair, with smiles the timorous cloud
That hangs on thy clear brow. So Helen look'd,
So her white neck reclined, so was she borne
By the young Trojan to his gilded bark
With fond reluctance, yielding modesty,
And oft reverted eye, as if she knew not
Whether she fear'd, or wish'd to be pursued.
Supposed to have been written about 1742, when the Author
returned to Cambridge.
Hail, horrors, hail! ye ever gloomy bowers,
Ye gothic fanes, and antiquated towers,
Where rushy Camus' slowly winding flood
Perpetual draws his humid train of mud:
Glad I revisit thy neglected reign,
Oh, take me to thy peaceful shade again.
But chiefly thee, whose influence breathed from high
Augments the native darkness of the sky;
Ah, Ignorance! soft salutary power!
Prostrate with filial reverence I adore.
Thrice hath Hyperion rolld his annual race,
Since weeping I forsook thy fond embrace.
Oh, say, successful dost thou still oppose
Thy leaden ægis 'gainst our ancient foes?
Still stretch, tenacious of thy right divine,
The massy sceptre o'er the slumbering line?
And dews Lethean through the land dispense
To steep in slumbers each benighted sense?