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Oh thou, whose chariot rolld on Fortune's wheel, (“)
Triumphant Sylla! Thou, who didst subdue
Thy country's foes ere thou wouldst pause to feel
The wrath of thy own wrongs, or reap the due
Of hoarded vengeance till thine eagles flew
O'er prostrate Asia ; thou, who with thy frown
Annihilated senates — Roman, too,
With all thy vices, for thou didst lay down
With an atoning smile a more than earthly crown
The dictatorial wreath, - couldst thou divine
To what would one day dwindle that which made
Thee more than mortal ? and that so supine
By aught than Romans Rome should thus be laid ?
She who was named Eternal, and array'd
Her warriors but to conquer - she who veild
Earth with her haughty shadow, and display'd,
Until the o'er-canopied horizon faild,
Her rushing wings - Oh! she who was Almighty hail'd !
Sylla was first of victors ; but our own
The sagest of usurpers, Cromwell; he
Too swept off senates while he hew'd the throne
Down to a block - immortal rebel! See
What crimes it costs to be a moment free
And famous through all ages! but beneath
His fate the moral lurks of destiny ;
His day of double victory and death
Beheld him win two realms, and, happier, yield his breath.
(1) Certainly were it not for these two trails in the life of Sylla, alluded to in this stanza, we should regard him as a monster unredeemed by any admirable quality. The alonement of his voluntary resignation of empire may perhaps be accepted by us, as it seems to have satisfied the Romans, who, if they had not respected, must have destroyed him. There could be no mean, no division of opinion; they must have all thought, like Eucrates, that what had appeared ambition was a love of glory and that what had been mistaken for pride was a real grandeur of soul. *
* " Seigneur, vous changez toutes mes idées de la façon dont je vous vois agir. Je croyois que vous aviez de l'ambition, mais aucune amour pour la gloire : jo voyols bien que votre âme ánit haute ; Inais ju ne soupçonnois pas qu'elle fut grande." Dialogues de Sylla et d’Eucrale.
The third of the same moon whose former course
Had all but crown'd him, on the self-same day
Deposed him gently from his throne of force,
And laid him with the earth's preceding clay. (*)
And show'd not Fortune thus how fame and sway
And all we deem delightful, and consume
Our souls to compass through each arduous way,
Are in her eyes less happy than the tomb ?
Where they but so in man's, how different were his doom!
And thou, dread statue ! yet existent in (*)
The austerest form of naked majesty,
Thou who beheldest, ’mid the assassins' din,
At thy bathed base the bloody Cæsar lie,
Folding his robe in dying dignity,
An offering to thine altar from the queen
Of gods and men, grent Nemesis ! did he die,
And thou, too, perish, Pompey? have ye been
Victors of countless kings, or puppets of a scene ?
And thou, the thunder-stricken nurse of Rome (*)
She-wolf! whose brazen-imaged dugs impart
The milk of conquest yet within the doine
Where, as a monument of antique art,
Thou standest: - Mother of the mighty heart,
Which the great founder suck'd from thy wild teat,
Scorch'd by the Roman Jove's etherial dart,
· And thy limbs black with lightning - dost thou yet.
Guard thine immortal cubs, nor thy fond charge forget ?
Thou dost; - but all thy foster-babes are dead -
The men of iron; and the world hath rear'd
Cities from out their sepulchres : men bled
In imitation of the things they fear’d,
And fought and conquer'd, and the same course steerd,
At apish distance ; but as yet none have,
Nor could, the same supremacy have neard,
Save one vain man, who is not in the grave, But, vanquish'd by himself, to his own slaves a slave (1) On the third of September, Cromwell gained the victory of Dunbar; a yoar afterwards he obtained " his crowning mercy" of Worcester; and a few years aftur on the same day, which he had ever esteemed the most fortunate for him, died.
(2, 3) Soe “ Historical Nolos," Nos. XXIV. XXV.
The fool of false dominion - and a kind
Of bastard Cæsar, following him of old
With steps unequal; for the Roman's mind
Was modell’d in a less terrestrial mould, (")
With passions fiercer, yet a judgment cold,
And an immortal instinct which redeem'd
The frailties of a heart so soft, yet bold,
Alcides with the distaff now he seem'd
At Cleopatra's feet, - and now himself be beam'd.
And came — and saw - and conquer'd! But the man
Who would have tamed his eagles down to flee,
Like a train'd falcon, in the Gallic van,
Which he, in sooth, lung led to victory,
With a deaf heart which never seem'd to be
A listener to itself, was strangly framed ;
With but one weakest weakness — vanity,
Coquettish in ambition — still he aim'd
At what ? can he avouch- or answer what he claim'd ?
And would be all or nothing - nor could wait
For the sure grave to level him
; few years
Had fix'd him with the Cæsars in his fate,
On whom we tread : For this the conqueror rears
The arch of triumph! and for this the tears
And blood of earth flow on as they have flow'd,
An universal deluge, which appears
Without an ark for wretched man's abode,
And ebbs but to reflow! — Renew thy rainbow, God !
What from this barren being do we reap ?
Our senses narrow, and our reason frail, (*)
Life short, and truth a gem which loves the deep,
And all things weigh'd in custom's faises scale;
Opinion an omnipotence, — whose vet.
Mantles the earth with darkness, until right
And wrong are accidents, and men grow pale
Lest their own judgments should become too bright,
And their free thoughts be crimes, and earth have too much
light. (1) See“ Historical Notes," at the end of this Canto, No. XXVI.
(2)" omnes pene veteres ; qui nihil cognosci, nihil percepi, nihil sciri posso dixerunt ; angustos sensus ; imbecillos animos, brevia curricula vitæ ; in profundo ve
And thus they plod in sluggish misery,
Rotting from sire to son, and
Proud of their trampled nature, and so die,
Bequeathing their hereditary rage
To the new race of inborn slaves, who wage
War for their chains, and rather than be free,
Bleed gladiator-like, and still engage
Within the same arena where they see
Their fellows fall before, like leaves of the same tree.
I speak not of men's creeds — they rest between
Man and his Maker - but of things allow'd,
Averr'd, and known, — and daily, hourly seen
The yoke that is upon us doubly bow'd,
And the intent of tyranny avow'd,
The edict of Earth's rulers, who are grown
The apes of him who humbled once the proud,
And shook them froin their slurnbers on the throne; Too glorious, were this all his mighty arm had done.
Can tyrants but by tyrants conquer'd be,
And Freedom find no champion and no child
Such as Colunbia saw arise when she
Sprung forth a Pallas, arın'd and undefiled ?
Or must such minds be nourish'd in the wild,
Deep in the unpruned forest, ʼmidst the roar
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington ? Has Earth no more
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore ?
But France got drunk with blood to vomit crime,
And fatal have her Saturnalia been
To Freedom's cause, in every age and clime ;
Because the deadly days which we have seen,
And vile Ambition, that built up between
Man and his hopes an adamantine wall,
And the base pageant last upon the scene,
pretext for the eternal thrall Which nips life’s tree, and dooms man's worst — his second
Yet, Freedom ! yet thy banner, torn, but flying,
Streams like the thunder-storm against the wind ;
Thy trumpet voice, though broken now and dying,
The loudest still the tempest leaves behind ;
T'hy tree hath lost its blossoms, and the rind,
Chopp'd by the axe, looks rough and little worth,
But the sap lasts, and still the seed we find
Sown deep, even in the bosom of the North ;
So shall a better spring less bitter fruit bring forth.
There is a stern round tower of other days, (")
Firm as a fortress, with its fence of stone,
Such as an army's baffled strength delays,
Standing with half its battlements alone,
And with two thousand years of ivy grown,
The garland of eternity, where wave
The green leaves over all by time o'erthrown ;
What was this tower of strength ? within its cave
What treasure lay so lock’d, so hid ?
A woman's grave.
But who was she, the lady of the dead,
Tomb'd in a palace ? Was she chaste and fair ?
Worthy a king's -- or more -a Roman's bed?
What race of chiefs and heroes did she bear?
What daughter of her beauties was the heir ?
How lived how loved - how died she? Was she not
So honour'd — and conspicuously there,
Where meaner relics must not dare to rot,
Placed to commemorate a more than mortal lot?
!!! Alluling to the tomb of Cecilia Metella, called Capo di Bove, in the Appian way. Sce-Historical Illustrations of tho IV th Canto of Childe Harold,