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But his limbs were borne up bravely
By the brave heart within, And our good father Tiber
Bare bravely up his chin. (1)
"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;
And now with shouts and clapping,
They gave him of the corn-land,
As much as two strong oxen
Could plough from morn till night;
And they made a molten image,
And set it up on high,
And there it stands unto this day
It stands in the Comitium,
In letters all of gold,
How valiantly he kept the bridge
And still his name sounds stirring
As the trumpet blast that cries to them
And wives still pray to Juno
And in the nights of winter,
When the cold north winds blow,
And the good logs of Algidus
Roar louder yet within;
When the oldest cask is opened,
And the largest lamp is lit,
When the chesnuts glow in the embers,
And the kid turns on the spit;
When young and old in circle
When the goodman mends his armour,
How well Horatius kept the bridge
(1) "Our ladye bare upp her chinne."
Ballad of Childe Waters.
"Never heavier man and horse
Stemmed a midnight torrent's force;
Yet, through good heart and our Lady's grace,
At length be gained the landing place."
Lay of the Last Minstrel, I.
BATTLE OF THE LAKE REGILLUS.
THE following poem is supposed to have been produced ninety years after the lay of Horatius. Some persons mentioned in the lay of Horatius make their appearance again, and some appellations and epithets used in the lay of Horatius have been purposely repeated: for, in an age of ballad-poetry, it scarcely ever fails to happen, that certain phrases come to be appropriated to certain men and things, and are regularly applied to those men and things by every minstrel. Thus we find, both in the Homeric poems and in Hesiod, βίη Ηρακληείη, περικλυτος Αμφιγυήεις, διάκτορος Αργειφόντης, ἑπτάπυλος Θήβη, Ελένης ἕνεκ üxóμoco. Thus, too, in our own national songs, Douglas is almost always the doughty Douglas: England is merry England: all the gold is red; and all the ladies are gay.
The principal distinction between the lay of Horatius and the lay of the Lake Regillus is, that the former is meant to be purely Roman, while the latter, though national in its general spirit, has a slight tincture of Greek learning and of Greek superstition. The story of the Tarquins, as it has come down to us, appears to have been compiled from the works of several popular poets; and one, at least, of those poets appears to have visited the Greek colonies in Italy, if not Greece itself, and to have had some acquaintance with the works of Homer and Herodotus.
Many of the most striking adventures of the house of Tarquin, till Lucretia makes her appearance, have a Greek character. The Tarquins themselves are represented as Corinthian nobles of the great house of the Bacchiada, driven from their country by the tyranny of that Cypselus, the tale of whose strange escape Herodotus has related with incomparable simplicity and liveliness. Livy and Dionysius tell us that, when Tarquin the Proud was asked what was the best mode of governing a conquered city, he replied only by beating down with his staff all the tallest poppies in his garden.† This is exactly what Herodotus, in the passage to which reference has already been made, relates of the counsel given to Periander, the son of Cypselus. The stratagem by which the town of Gabii is brought under the power of the Tarquins is, again, obviously copied from Herodotus. The embassy of the young Tarquins to the oracle at Delphi is just such a story as would be told by a poet whose head was full of the Greek mythology; and the ambiguous answer returned by Apollo is in the exact style of the prophecies which, according to Herodotus, lured Croesus to destruction. Then the character of the narrative changes. From the first mention of Lucretia to the retreat of Porsena nothing seems to be borrowed from foreign sources. The villany of Sextus, the suicide of his victim, the revolution, the death of the sons of Brutus, the defence of the bridge, Mucius burning his hand,§ Clelia swimming through Tiber, seem to be all strictly Roman. But when we have done with the Tuscan war,
* Herodotus, v. 92. Livy, i. 34. Dionysius, iii. 46. + Livy, i. 54. Dionysius, iv. 56.
Herodotus, iii. 154. Livy, i. 53.
M. de Pouilly attempted, a hundred and twenty years ago, to prove that the story of Mucius was of Greek origin; but he was signally confuted by the Abbé Sallier. See the Mémoires de l' Académie des Inscriptions, vi. 27. 66.