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With shield and blade Horatius right deftly turned the blow.
The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;

It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
The Tuscans raised a joyful cry

To see the red blood flow.

He reeled, and on Herminius he leaned one breathing space, Then like a wild cat mad with wounds, sprang right at Astur's face.

Through teeth, and skull, and helmet, so fierce a thrust he sped,

The good sword stood a hand-breadth out behind the Tuscan's head.

And the great Lord of Luna fell at that deadly stroke,
As falls on Mount Alvernus a thunder-smitten oak.
Far o'er the crashing forest the giant arms lie spread;
And the pale augurs, muttering low, gaze on the blasted

But meanwhile axe and lever have manfully been plied;
And now the bridge hangs tottering above the boiling tide.
Come back, come back, Horatius!' loud cried the fathers

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'Back, Lartius! back, Herminius! back, ere the ruin fall!' Back darted Spurius Lartius; Herminius darted back; And, as they passed, beneath their feet they felt the timbers crack.

But, when they turned their faces, and on the further shore Saw brave Horatius stand alone, they would have crossed

once more.

But with a crash like thunder fell every loosened beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck lay right athwart the


And a long shout of triumph rose from the walls of Rome,
As to the highest turret-tops was splashed the yellow foam.

And, like a horse unbroken when first he feels the rein,
The furious river struggled hard, and tossed his tawny


And burst the curb, and bounded, rejoicing to be free;
And whirling down, in fierce career,
Battlement and plank and pier,
Rushed headlong to the sea.

'Oh Tiber father Tiber! to whom the Romans pray,

A Roman's life, a Roman's arms, take thou in charge this



So he spake, and speaking sheathed the good sword by his side, And with his harness on his back, plunged headlong in the But fiercely ran the current, swollen high by months of rain; And fast his blood was flowing, and he was sore in pain, And heavy was his armour, and spent with changing blows; And oft they thought him sinking, but still again he rose. 'Curse on him!' quoth false Sextus; 'will not the villain drown?

But for this stay, ere close of day we should have sacked the town!'

'Heaven help him!' quoth Lars Porsena, and bring him safe to shore ;

For such a gallant feat of arms was never seen before.’

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, and noise of weeping loud,

He enters through the river-gate, borne by the joyous crowd. Macaulay.

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Straightway Virginius led the maid a little space aside,
To where the reeking shambles stood, piled up with horn

and hide;

Close to yon low dark archway, where, in a crimson flood,
Leaps down to the great sewer the gurgling stream of blood.
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

And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake :-'Farewell, sweet child, farewell!

O, 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 footstep 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 house that was the happiest within the Roman walls, The house that envied not the wealth of Capua's marble halls, Now, for the brightness of thy smile, must have eternal gloom,

And, for the music of thy voice, the silence of the tomb. 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


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!

When Appius Claudius saw that deed, he shuddered and sank down,

And hid his face some little space with the corner of his gown, Till, with white lips and blood-shot eyes, Virginius tottered


And stood before the judgment-seat and held the knife on high:

'Oh! dwellers in the nether gloom, avengers of the slain, By this dear blood I cry to you, do right between us twain ; And even as Appius Claudius hath dealt by me and mine, Deal you by Appius Claudius and all the Člaudian line !' So spake the slayer of his child, and turned and went his way,

But first he cast one haggard glance to where the body lay, And writhed, and groaned a fearful groan, and then, with steadfast feet,

Strode across the market-place into the Sacred Street.
Then up sprang Appius Claudius

- -'Stop him, alive or dead; Ten thousand pounds of copper to the man who brings his


He looked upon his clients; but none would work his will : He looked upon his lictors; but they trembled and stood still:

And as Virginius through the press his way in silence cleft,
Ever the mighty multitude fell back to right and left :
And he hath passed in safety unto his woful home,

And there ta'en horse to tell the Camp what deeds are done in Rome. Macaulay.

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Urge me no more,—your prayers are vain,
And even the tears ye shed.
When I can lead to Rome again

The bands that once I led;
When I can raise your legions slain
On swarthy Lybia's fatal plain,
To vengeance from the dead;
Then will I seek once more a home,
And lift a freeman's voice in Rome!

Accursed moment! when I woke
From faintness all but death,
And felt the coward conqueror's yoke
Like venomed serpent's wreath
Round every limb: if lip and eye
Betrayed no sign of agony,

Inly I cursed my breath :
Wherefore of all that fought, was I
The only wretch that could not die ?
To darkness and to chains consigned,
The captive's fitting doom,

I recked not ;-could they chain the mind,
Or plunge the soul in gloom?
And there they left me, dark and lone,
Till darkness had familiar grown ;

Then from that living tomb

They led me forth-I thought-to die :

Oh! in that thought was ecstasy!

But no,-kind Heaven had yet in store
For me, a conquered slave,

A joy I thought to feel no more,

Or feel but in the grave.

They deemed, perchance, my haughtier mood
Was quelled by chains and solitude ;

That he who once was brave,—
Was I not brave?- had now become
Estranged from honour, as from Rome.

They bade me to my country bear

The offers these have borne ;

They would have trained my lips to swear,
Which never yet have sworn.

Silent their base commands I heard:
At length I pledged a Roman's word
Unshrinking to return.

I go,-prepared to meet the worst,
But I shall gall proud Carthage first.
They sue for peace,-I bid you spurn
The gilded bait they bear;

I bid you still, with aspect stern,
War, ceaseless war, declare.

Fools as they were, could not mine eye,
Through their dissembled calmness, spy
The struggles of despair?

Else had they sent this wasted frame
To bribe you to your country's shame?
Your land-(I must not call it mine;
No country has the slave;

His father's name he must resign,
And even his father's grave ;-
But this not now)-beneath her lies
Proud Carthage and her destinies :
Her empire o'er the wave

Is yours :-she knows it well,—and you
Shall know, and make her feel it too.

Ay, bend your brows, ye ministers
Óf coward hearts, on me;
Ye know her fleets are far and few,
Her bands a mercenary crew;

And Rome, the bold and free,

Shall trample on her prostrate towers,
Despite your weak and wasted powers.

One path alone remains for me;
My vows were heard on high.
Thy triumphs, Rome, I shall not see,
For I return to die.

Then tell me not of hope or life;
I have in Rome no chaste, fond wife,
No smiling progeny;

One word concentres for the slave,

Wife, children, country, all,-the Grave!


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