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And the strong smith Muræna gave Marcus such a blow, The caitiff reeled three paces back, and let the maiden go: Yet glared he fiercely round him, and growled, in harsh, fell tone,
"She's mine, and I will have her;-I seek but for mine own. She is my slave, born in my house, and stolen away and sold, The year of the sore sickness, ere she was twelve years old. I wait on Appius Claudius; I waited on his sire:
Let him who works the client wrong, beware the patron's ire!"
-But ere the varlet Marcus again might seize the maid, Who clung tight to Muræna's skirt and sobbed and shrieked
Forth through the throng of gazers the young Icilius pressed, And stamped his foot and rent his gown and smote upon
And beckoned to the people, and, in bold voice and clear, Poured thick and fast the burning words which tyrants quake to hear:
"Now by your children's cradles, now by your fathers' graves,
Be men to-day, Quirites, or be for ever slaves!
For this did Servius give us laws? For this did Lucrece
For this was the great vengeance wrought on Tarquin's evil
For this did those false sons make red the axes of their
For this did Scævola's right hand hiss in the Tuscan fire? Shall the vile fox-earth awe the race that stormed the lion's
Shall we, who could not brook one lord, crouch to the wicked Ten?
Oh, for that ancient spirit which curbed the Senate's will! Oh, for the tents which in old time whitened the Sacred Hill! In those brave days our fathers stood firmly side by side; They faced the Marcian fury, they tamed the Fabian pride: They drove the fiercest Quintius an outcast forth from Rome; They sent the haughtiest Claudius with shivered fasces home.
But what their care bequeathed us, our madness flung away: All the ripe fruit of three-score years is blighted in a day. Exult, ye proud Patricians! the hard-fought fight is o'er: We strove for honour-'twas in vain: for freedom-'tis no
Our very hearts, that were so high, sink down beneath your will:
Riches and lands and power and state,-ye have them— keep them still!
Still keep the holy fillets; still keep the purple gown,
The axes and the curule chair, the car and laurel crown; Still press us for your cohorts, and, when the fight is done, Still fill your garners from the soil which our good swords
Still like a spreading ulcer which leech-craft may not cure,
Heap heavier still the fetters, bar closer still the grate;
Who from their cars look down with scorn upon the wondering street
Who in Corinthian mirrors their own proud smiles behold, And breathe of Capuan odours, and shine with Spanish
Then leave the poor Plebeian his single tie to life
The sweet, sweet love of daughter, of sister, and of wife— The gentle speech, the balm for all that his vexed soul
The kiss, in which he half forgets even such a yoke as yours!
Spare us the inexpiable wrong, the unutterable shame,
Lest, when our latest hope is fled, ye taste of our despair, And learn, by proof, in some wild hour, how much the wretched dare!"
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 swell,
And in a hoarse, changed voice he spake, "Farewell, sweet child, farewell!
Oh! how I loved my darling! Though stern I sometimes be,
Now, all those things are over-yes, all thy pretty ways—
Or watch beside the old man's bed, or weep upon his urn:
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,
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 blowFoul 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
And hid his face some little space with the corner of his
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 Claudian line!" -So spake the slayer of his child, and turned and went his
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 right 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 head!"
He looked upon his clients; but none would work his will: He looked upon his lictors; but they trembled and stood
And as Virginius through the press his way in silence cleft,
And there ta'en horse to tell the Camp what deeds are done in Rome.
XXI. THE FATE OF MACGREGOR.
James Hogg, "The Ettrick Shepherd," was born in the Vale of Ettrick, Selkirkshire, about 1770. He died in 1835.
Macgregor, Macgregor, remember our foemen!
The moon rises broad from the brow of Ben-Lomond,
Stern scowled the Macgregor, then, silent and sullen,
Macgregor, Macgregor, our scouts have been flying
We must meet them at home, else they'll quickly be here."
Or blanched at the ire or the prowess of man;
"Last night in my chamber, all thoughtful and lone,