« PreviousContinue »
Shall I be paid with counters? An old square new vamped up! a fountain! an aqueduct! Are these acquisitions to brag of? Cast your eye upon the magistrate, under whose ministry you boast these precious improvements. Behold the despicable creature, raised, all at once, from dirt to opulence; from the lowest obscurity to the highest honours. Have not some of these upstarts built private houses and seats vieing with the most sumptuous of our public palaces? And how have their fortunes and their power increased, but as the commonwealth has been ruined and impoverished?
To what are we to impute these disorders; and to what cause assign the decay of a state so powerful and flourishing in past times?—The reason is plain.-The servant is now become the master. The magistrate was then subservient to the people; punishments and rewards were properties of the people; all honours, dignities, and preferments, were disposed by the voice and favour of the people but the magistrate, now, has usurped the right of the people, and exercises an arbitrary authority over his ancient and natural lord. You miserable people! (the meanwhile, without money, without friends) from being the ruler, are become the servant; from being the master, the dependent; happy that these governors, into whose hands you have thus resigned your own power, are so good and so gracious as to continue your poor allowance to see plays.
Believe me, Athenians, if, recovering from this lethargy, you would assume the ancient freedom and spirit of your fathers; if you would be your own soldiers and your own commanders, confiding no longer your affairs in foreign or mercenary hands; if you would charge yourselves with your own defence, employing abroad, for the public, what you waste in unprofitable pleasures at home; the world might, once more, behold you making a figure worthy of Athenians." You would have us then (you say) do service in our armies, in our own persons; and, for so doing, you would have the pensions we receive in time of peace accepted as pay in time of war. Is it thus we are to understand you?"Yes, Athenians, it is my plain meaning. I would make it a standing rule, that no person, great or little, should be the better for the public money, who should grudge to employ it for the public service. Are we in peace? the public is charged with your subsistence. Are we in war, or under a necessity, at this time, to enter into a war?
let your gratitude oblige you to accept, as pay, in defence of your benefactors, what you receive, in peace, as mere bounty. Thus, without any innovation; without altering or abolishing any thing, but pernicious novelties, introduced for the encouragement of sloth and idleness; by converting only, for the future, the same funds, for the use of the serviceable, which are spent, at present, upon the unprofitable; you may be well served in your armies; your troops regularly paid; justice duly administered; the public revenues reformed and increased; and every member of the commonwealth, rendered useful to his country, according to his age and ability, without any further burden to the state.
This, O men of Athens, is what my duty prompted me to represent to you upon this occasion.-May the gods inspire you to determine upon such measures, as may be most expedient for the particular and general good of our country!
XII.-Jupiter to the inferior Deities, forbidding them to take any part in the contention between the Greeks and Trojans.
AURORA, now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn;
When Jove conven'd the senate of the skies,
Where high Olympus' cloudy tops arise.
The sire of gods his awful silence broke ;
The heavens, attentive, trembled as he spoke :-
"Celestial states! Immortal gods! give ear;
Hear our decree; and rev'rence what ye hear:
The fix'd decree, which not all heaven can move :
Thou, fate fulfil it: and ye powers approve.
What god shall enter yon forbidden field,
Who yields assistance, or but wills to yield;
Back to the skies, with shame he shall be driv'n,
Gash'd with dishonest wounds, the scorn of heaven:
Or, from our sacred hill, with fury thrown,
Deep in the dark Tartarean gulf shall groan;
With burning chains fix'd to the brazen floors,
And lock'd by hell's inexorable doors:
As far beneath th' infernal centre hurl'd,
As from that centre to th' ethereal world.
Let each, submissive, dread those dire abodes,
Nor tempt the vengeance of the God of gods.
League all your forces, then, ye powers above;
Your strength unite against the might of Jove.
Let down our golden everlasting chain,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main.
Strive, all of mortal and immortal birth,
To drag, by this, the thund'rer down to earth.
Ye strive in vain. If I but stretch this hand,
I heave the gods, the ocean, and the land.
I fix the chain to great Olympus' height,
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight.
For such I reign unbounded and above:
And such are men, and gods, compar'd to Jove."
XIII.-Eneas to Queen Dido, giving an Account of the
Sack of Troy.
ALL were attentive to the godlike man,
When from his lofty couch, he thus began:-
Great Queen! What you command me to relate,
Renews the sad remembrance of our fate;
An empire from its old foundations rent,
And every wo the Trojans underwent ;
A pop'lous city made a desert place;
All that I saw and part of which I was,
Not e'en the hardest of our foes could hear,
Nor stern Ulysses tell without a tear.
'Twas now the dead of night, when sleep repairs
Our bodies worn with toils, our minds with cares,
When Hector's ghost before my sight appears:
Shrouded in blood he stood, and bath'd in tears:
Such as when, by the fierce Pelides slain,
Thessalian coursers dragg'd him o'er the plain.
Swoln were his feet, as when the thongs were thrust
Through the pierc'd limbs; his body black with dust.
Unlike that Hector, who return'd from toils
Of war triumphant, in Æacian spoils;
Or him, who made the fainting Greeks retire,
Hurling amidst their fleets the Phrygian fire.
His hair and beard were clotted stiff with gore:
The ghastly wounds he for his country bore,
Now stream'd afresh.
I wept to see the visionary man ;
And whilst my trance continu'd, thus began:
"O light of Trojans, and support of Troy,
Thy father's champion, and thy country's joy!
O long expected by thy friends! From whence
Art thou so late return'd to our defence?
Alas! what wounds are these? What new disgrace
Deforms the manly honours of thy face?"
The spectre, groaning from his inmost breast,
This warning, in these mournful words express'd.
"Haste, goddess born! Escape, by timely flight,
The flames and horrors of this fatal night;
Thy foes already have possess'd our wall;
Troy nods from high, and totters to her fall.
Enough is paid to Priam's royal name,
Enough to country, and to deathless fame.
If by a mortal arm my father's throne
Could have been sav'd-this arm the feat had done.
Troy now commends to thee her future state,
And gives her gods companions of thy fate;
Under their umbrage hope for happier walls,
And follow where thy various fortune calls."
He said, and brought from forth the sacred choir,
The gods and relics of th' immortal fire.
Now peals of shouts came thund'ring from afar,
Cries, threats, and loud lament, and mingled war.
The noise approaches, though our palace stood
Aloof from streets, embosom'd close with wood;
Louder and louder still I hear th' alarms
Of human cries distinct, and clashing arms.
Fear broke my slumbers.
I mount the terrace; thence the town survey,
And listen what the swelling sounds convey.
Then Hector's faith was manifestly clear'd;
And Grecian fraud in open light appear'd.
The palace of Deiphobus ascends
In smoky flames, and catches on his friends.
Ucalegon burns next; the seas are bright
With splendors not their own, and shine with sparkling light.
New clamors and new clangors now arise,
The trumpet's voice, with agonizing cries.
With frenzy seiz'd, I run to meet th' alarms,
Resolv'd on death, resolv'd to die in arms.
But first to gather friends, with whom t' oppose,
If fortune favour'd, and repel the foes,
By courage rous'd, by love of country fir'd,
With sense of honour and revenge inspir'd.
Pantheus, Apollo's priest, a sacred name,
Had 'scap'd the Grecian swords, and pass'd the flame
With relics loaded, to my doors he fled,
And by the hand his tender grandson led.
"What hope, O Pantheus? whither can we run?
Where make a stand? Or, what can yet be done?"
Scarce had I spoke, when Pantheus, with a groan,
"Troy is no more! Her glories now are gone.
The fatal day, th' appointed hour is come,
When wrathful Jove's irrevocable doom
Transfers the Trojan state to Grecian hands:
Our city's wrapt in flames; the foe commands.
To several posts their parties they divide;
Some block the narrow streets; some scour the wide.
The bold they kill; th' unwary they surprise;
Who fights meets death; and death finds him who flies."
XIV.-Moloch, the fallen Angel, to the infernal Powers, incit ing them to renew the War.
MY sentence is for open war. Of wiles
More unexpert, I boast not; then let those
Contrive who need; or when they need, not now.
For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
Millions that stand in arms, and longing wait
The signal to ascend, sit ling'ring here,
Heaven's fugitives, and for their dwelling-place
Accept this dark opprobrious den of shame,
The prison of his tyranny, who reigns
By our delay? No; let us rather choose,
Arm'd with hell flames and fury, all at once,
O'er heaven's high towers to force resistless way,
Turning our tortures into horrid arms,
Against the tort'rer; when, to meet the noise
Of his almighty engine, he shall hear
Infernal thunder; and for lightning, see
Black fire and horror shot with equal rage
Among his angels-and his throne itself,
Mix'd with Tartarean sulphur and strange fire,
His own invented torments. But perhaps,
The way seems difficult and steep to scale,
With upright wing, against a higher foe.
Let such bethink them, if the sleepy drench
Of that forgetful lake henumb not still,
That in our proper motion we ascend
Up to our native seat; descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late,
When the fierce foe hung upon our broken rear
Insulting, and pursued us through the deep,
With what compulsion and laborious flight,
We sunk thus low? Th' ascent is easy then,
Th' event is fear'd. Should we again provoke
Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find,
To our destruction; if there be in hell,
Fear to be worse destroy'd: What can be worse
Than to dwell here, driven out from bliss, condemn'd
In this abhorred deep to utter wo;
Where pain of unextinguishable fire,
Must exercise us without hope of end,
The vassals of his anger, when the scourge
Inexorable, and the tort'ring hour
Calls us to penance? More destroy'd than thus
We should be quite abolish'd and expire.
What fear we then? What doubt we to incense
His utmost ire? Which to the height enrag'd,
Will either quite consume us, and reduce
To nothing this essential, (happier far,
Than miserable, to have eternal being)
Or if our substance be indeed divine,
And cannot cease to be, we are at worst
On this side nothing; and by proof we feel
Our power sufficient to disturb this heaven,
And with perpetual inroads to alarm,
Though inaccessible, his fatal throne;
Which, if not victory, is yet revenge.