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But when the hostile chiefs at length bow down,
When great Æneas wears Hesperia's crown,
The casque, the buckler, and the fiery steed
Which Turnus guides with more than mortal speed,
Are thine ; no envious lot shall then be cast,
I pledge my word, irrevocably past :
Nay, more, twelve slaves, and twice six captive dames,
To soothe thy softer hours with amorous flames,
And all the realms which now the Latins sway,
The labours of to-night shall well repay.
But thou, my generous youth, whose tender years
Are near my own, whose worth my heart reveres,
Henceforth affection sweetly thus begun,
Shall join our bosoms and our souls in one;
Without thy aid, no glory shall be mine;
Without thy dear advice, no great design ;
Alike through life esteem'd, thou godlike boy,
In war my bulwark, and in peace my joy."
To him Euryalus :-"No day shall shame
The rising glories which from this I claim.
Fortune may favour, or the skies may frown,
But valour, spite of fate, obtains renown.
Yet, ere from hence our eager steps depart,
One boon I beg, the nearest to my heart :
My mother, sprung from Priam's royal line,
Line thine ennobled, hardly less divine,
Nor Troy nor King Acestes' realms restrain
Her feeble age from dangers of the main ;
Alone she came, all selfish fears above,
A bright example of maternal love.
Unknown the secret enterprise I brave,
Lest grief should bend my parent to the grave;
From this alone no fond adieus I seek,
No fainting mother's lips have press'd my cheek;
By gloomy night and thy right hand I vow
Her parting tears would shake my purpose now:
Do thou, my prince, her failing age sustain,
In thee her much-loved child may live again ;
Her dying hours with pious conduct bless,
Assist her wants, relieve her fond distress :
So dear a hope must all my soul inflame,
To rise in glory, or to fall in fame.”
Struck with a filial care so deeply felt,
In tears at once the Trojan warriors melt:
Faster than all, Iulus' eyes o'erflow;
Such love was his, and such bad been his woe.
“All thou hast ask'd, receive," the prince repliel;
"Nor this alone, but many a gift beside.
To cheer thy mother's years, shall be my aim,
Creusa's style but wanting to the dame.*
The mother, of Iulus, lost on the night when Troy was taken.
Fortune an adverse wayward course may run,
But bless'd thy mother in so dear a son.
Now, by my life !—my sire's most sacred oath-
To thee I pledge my full, my firmest troth,
All the rewards which once to thee were vow'd,
If thou shouldst fall, on her shall be bestow'd.”
Thus spoke the weeping prince, then forth to view
A gleaming falchion from the sheath he drew;
Lycaon's utmost skill had graced the steel,
For friends to envy and for foes to feel :
A tawny hide, the Moorish lion's spoil,
Slain 'midst the forest, in the hunter's toil,
Mnestheus to guard the elder youth bestows,
And old Alethes' casque defends his brows.
Arm'd, thence they go, while all th' assembled train,
To aid their cause, implore the gods in vain.
More than a boy, in wisdom and in grace,
Iulus holds amidst the chiefs his place:
His prayer he sends ; but what can prayers avail,
Lost in the murmurs of the sighing gale !
The trench is pass’d, and, favour'd by the night,
Through sleeping foes they wheel their wary flight.
When shall the sleep of many a foe be o'er?
Alas! some slumber who shall wake no more!
Chariots and bridles, mix'd with arms, are seen ;
And flowing flasks, and scatter'd troops between ;
Bacchus and Mars to rule the camp combine;
A mingled chaos this of war and wine.
“Now,” cries the first, “ for deeds of blood prepare,
With me the conquest and the labour share:
Here lies our path ; lest any hand arise,
Watch thou, while many a dreaming chieftain dies :
I'll carve our passage through the heedless foe,
And clear thy road with many a deadly blow.”
His whispering accents then the youth repress'd,
And pierced proud Rhamnes through his panting breast :
Stretch'd at his ease, th' incautious king reposed ;
Debauch, and not fatigue, his eyes had closed :
To Turnus dear, a prophet and a prince,
His omens more than augur's skill evince;
But he, who thus foretold the fate of all,
not avert his own untimely fall.
Next Remus' armourbearer, hapless, fell,
And three unhappy slaves the carnage swell;
The charioteer along his courser's sides
Expires, the steel his sever'd neck divides ;
And, last, his lord is number'd with the dead :
Bounding convulsive, flies the gasping head;
From the swoll'n veins the blickening torrents pour ;
Stain'd is the couch and earth with clotting gore.
Young Lamyrus and Lamus next expire,
And gay Seranus, fill'd with youthful fire ;
Half the long night in childish games was pass'd,
Lulld by the potent grape, he slept at last :
Ah! happier far had he the morn survey'd,
And till Aurora's dawn his skill display'd.
In slaughter'd fold, the keepers lost in sleep,
His hungry fangs a lion thus may steep;
'Mid the sad flock, at dead of night he prowls,
With murder glutted, and in carnage rolls :
Insatiate still, through teeming herds he roams ;
In seas of gore the lordly tyrant foams.
Nor less the other's deadly vengeance came,
But falls on feeble crowds without a name;
His wound unconscious Fadus scarce can feel,
Yet wakeful Rhæsus sees the threatening steel;
His coward breast behind a jar he hides,
And vainly in the weak defence confides ;
Full in his heart, the falchion search'd his veins,
The reeking weapon bears alternate stains ;
Through wine and blood, commingling as they flow,
One feeble spirit seeks the shades below.
Now where Messapus dwelt they bend their way,
Whose fires emit a faint and trembling ray ;
There, unconfined, behold each grazing steed,
Unwatch'd, unheeded, on the herbage feed :
Brave Nisus here arrests his comrade's arm,
Too flush'd with carnage, and with conquest warm:
“Hence let us haste, the dangerous path is pass'd ;
Full foes enough to-night have breathed their last:
Soon will the day those eastern clouds adorn ;,
Now let us speed, nor tempt the rising morn.
With silver arms, with various art emboss'd, What bowls and mantles in confusion toss'd, They leave regardless ! yet one glittering prize Attracts the younger hero's wandering eyes ; The gilded harness Rhamnes' coursers felt, The gems which stud the monarch's golden belt: This from the pallid corse was quickly torn, Once by a line of former chieftains worn. Th' exulting boy the studded girdle wears, Messapus' helm his head in triumph bears ; Then from the tents their cautious steps they bend, To seek the vale where safer paths extend.
Just at this hour, a band of Latian horse To Turnus' camp pursue their destined course : While the slow foot their tardy march delay, The knights, impatient, spur along the way: Three hundred mail-clad men, by Volscens led, To Turnus with their master's promise sped ; Now they approach the trench, and view the walls, When, on the left, a light reflection falls ;
The plunder'd helmet, through the waning night,
Sheds forth a silver radiance, glancing bright.
Volscens with question loud the pair alarms :-
“Stand, stragglers! stand! why early thus in arms?
From whence, to whom ?”—He meets with no reply!
Trusting the covert of the night, they fly :
The thicket's depth with hurried pace they tread,
While round the wood the hostile squadron spread.
With brakes entangled, scarce a path between,
Dreary and dark appears the sylvan scene :
Euryalus his heavy spoils impede,
The boughs aud winding turns his steps mislead;
But Nisus scours along the forest's maze
To where Latinus' steeds in safety graze,
Then backward o'er the plain his eyes extend,
On every side they seek his absent friend.
“O God! my boy," he cries, “ of me bereft,
In what impending perils art thou left !”
Listening he runs-above the waving trees,
Tumultuous voices swell the passing breeze;
The war-cry rises, thundering hoofs around
Wake the dark echoes of the trembling ground.
Again he turns, of footsteps hears the noise ;
The sound elates, the sight his hope destroys:
The hapless boy a ruffian train surround,
While lengthening shades his weary way confound ;
Him with loud shouts the furious knights pursue,
Struggling in vain, a captive to the crew.
What can his friend 'gainst thronging numbers dare?
Ah ! must be rush his comrade's fate to share?
What force, what aid, what stratagem essay,
Back to redeem the Latian spoiler's prey ?
His life a votive ransom nobly give,
Or die with him for whom he wish'd to live ?
Poising with strength his lifted lance on high,
On Luna's orb he cast his frenzied eye :-
“Goddess serene, transcending every star!
Queen of the sky, whose beams are seen afar !
By night heaven owns thy sway, by day the grove,
When, as chaste Dian, here thou deign'st to rove :
If e'er myself, or sire, have sought to grace
Thine altars with the produce of the chase,
Speed, speed my dart to pierce yon vaunting crowd,
To free my friend, and scatter far the proud.”
Thus having said, the hissing dart he flung ;
Through parted shades the hurtling weapon sung ;
The thirsty point in Sulmo's entrails lay,
Transfix'd his heart, and stretch'd him on the clay :
He sobs, he dies,-the troop in wild amaze,
Unconscious whence the death, with horror gaze.
While pale they stare, through Tagus' temples riven,
A second shaft with equal force is driven.
Fierce Volscens rolls aronnd his lowering eyes :
Veild by the night, secure the Trojan lies.
Burning with wrath, he view'd his soldiers fall :
“ Thou youth accurst, thy life shall pay for all!”
Quick from the sheath his flaming glaive he drew,
And, raging, on the boy defenceless flew.
Nisus no more the blackening shape conceals,
Forth, forth he starts, and all his love reveals ;
Aghast, confused, his fears to madness rise,
And pour these accents, shrieking as he flies;
“Me, me,-your vengeance hurl on me alone;
Here sheathe the steel, my blood is all your own.
Ye starry spheres ! thou conscious Heaven! attest !
He could not—durst not-lo! the guile confest !
All, all was mine,-his early fate suspend ;
He only loved too well his hapless friend :
Spare, spare, ye chiefs ! from him your rage remore;
His fault was friendship, all his crime was love."
He pray'd in vain; the dark assassin's sword
Pierced the fair side, the snowy bosom gored ;
Lowly to earth inclines his plume-clad crest,
And sanguine torrents mantle o'er his breast :
As some young rose, whose blossom scents the air,
Languid in death, expires beneath the share;
Or crimson poppy, sinking with the shower,
Declining gently, falls a fading flower;
Thus, sweetly drooping, bends his lovely head,
And lingering beauty hovers round the dead.
But fiery Nisus stems the battle's tide,
Revenge his leader and despair his guide :
Volscens he seeks amidst the gathering host,
Volscens must soon appease his comrade's ghost :
Steel, flashing, pours on steel, foe crowds on foe;
Rage nerves his arm, fate gleams in every blow;
In vain beneath unnumber'd wounds he bleeds,
Nor wounds, nor death, distracted Nisus heeds;
In viewless circles wheeld, his falchion flies,
Nor quits the hero's grasp till Volscens dies ;
Deep in his throat its end the weapon found,
The tyrant's soul fled groaning through the wound.
Thus Nisus all his fond affection proved-
Dying, revenged the fate of him he loved ;
Then on his bosom sought his wonted place,
And death was heavenly in his friend's embrace.
Celestial pair ! if aught my verse can claim, Wafted on Î'ime's broad pinion, yours is fame! Ages on ages shall your fate admire, No future day shall see your names expire, While stands the Capitol, immortal dome! And vanquish'd millions hail their empress, Rome !