Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

}

Now falling crouds at once resign their breath,
And doubly taint the noxious air with death.
Careless their putrid carcases are spread ;
And on the earth, their dank unwholsome bed,
The living reft in common with the dead.
Here none the last funereal rites receive ;
To be cast forth the camp, is all their friends can give.
At length kind heaven their forrows bade to cease,
And staid the peftilential foe's increase ;
Fresh breezes from the sea begin to rise,
While Boreas through the lazy vapour flies,
And sweeps, with healthy wings, the rank polluted

lies.
Arriving veilels now their freight unload,
And furnish plenteous harvests from abroad:
Now sprightly strength, now chearful health returns, 175
And life's fair lamp, rekindled, brightly burns.

But Cæsar, unconfin’d, and camp'd on high, Feels not the mischief of the sluggish sky : On hills sublime he breathes the purer air, And drinks no damps, nor poisonous vapours, there, 189 Yet hunger keen an equal plague is found; Famine and meagre want besiege him round: The fields, as yet, no hopes of harvest wear, Nor yellow stems disclose the bearded ear. The scatter'd vulgar search around the fields, 185 And pluck whate'er the doubtful herbage yields; Some strip the trees in every neighbouring wood, And with the cattle share their grasly food. Whate'er the softening flame can pliant make, Whate'er the teeth, or labouring jaws, can break; 190

What

200

What flesh, what roots, what herbs foe'er they get,
Though new, and strange to human taste as yet,
At once the greedy soldiers seize and eat.
What want, what pain foe'er they undergo,
Still they persist in arms, and close beset the foe. 195

At length, impatient longer to be held
Within the bounds of one appointed field,
O'er every bar which might his passage stay,
Pompey resolves to force his warlike way;
Wide o’er the world the ranging war to lead,
And give his loosen'd legions room to spread.
Nor takes he mean advantage from the night,
Nor steals a passage, nor declines the fight;
But bravely dares, disdainful of the foe,
Through the proud towers and ramparts breach to go.205
Where shining spears, and crested helms are seen,
Embattled thick to guard the walls within ;
Where all things death, where ruin all afford,
There Pompey marks a passage for his sword.
Near to the camp a woody thicket lay,
Close was the fade, nor did the greensward way,
With smoky clouds of duft, the march betray.
Hence, sudden they appear in dread array,
Sudden their wide-extended ranks display ;
At once the foe beholds with wondering eyes,
Where on broad wings Pompeian eagles rise ;
At once the warriors shouts and trumpet-sounds

surprise.
Scarce was the sword's destruction needful here,
So swiftly ran before preventing foar ;

Some

}

[ocr errors]

220

Some fled amaz’d, while vainly valiant some
Stood, but to meet in arms a nobler doom.
Where-e'er they stood, now scatter'd lie the slain,
Scarce yet a few for coming deaths remain,
And clouds of flying javelins fall in vain.
Here swift consuming flames the victors throw, 225
And here the ram impetuous aims a blow;
Aloft the nodding turrets feel the stroke,
And the vast rampart groans beneath the shock.
And now propitious fortune seem'd to doom
Freedom and peace, to Pompey, and to Rome; 230
High o'er the vanquish'd works his eagles tower,
And vindicate the world from Cæsar's power.

But (what nor Cxsar, nor his fortune cou'd)
What not ten thousand warlike hands withstood,
Scæva resists alone; repels the force,

235 And stops the rapid victor in his course. Scæva! a name erewhile to fame unknown, And first distinguish'd on the Gallic Rhone; There seen in hardy deeds of arms to fine, He reach'd the honours of the Latian vine. Daring and bold, and ever prone to ill, Inur'd to blood, and active to fulfil The dictates of a lawless tyrant's will; Nor virtue's love, nor reason's laws he knew, But, careless of the right, for hire his sword he drew. 245 Thus courage by an impious cause is curst, And he that is the bravest, is the worst. Soon as he saw his fellows fhun the fight, And seek their safety in ignoble flight,

Whence

340

[ocr errors]

Can you, ye

Whence does, he said, this coward's terror grow, 250 This shame, unknown to Cæsar's arms till now?

flavith herd, thus tamely yield ? Thus fly, unwounded, from the bloody field ? Behold, where pild in flaughter'd beaps on high, Firm to the last, your brave companions lie ; 255 Then blush to think what wretched lives you save, From what renown you fly, from what a glorious grave. Though sacred fame, though virtue yield to fear, Let rage, let indignation, keep you here. We! we the weakest, from the rest are chose, 260 To yield a passage to our scornful foes! Yet, Pompey, yet, thou shalt be yet withstood, And stain thy victor's laurel deep in blood. With pride, 'tis true, with joy I should have dy'd, If haply. I had fall’n by Cæsar's side ; But fortune has the noble death deny'd. Then Pompey, thou, thou on my fame shalt wait, Do thou be witness, and applaud my fate. Now push we on, disdain we now to fear, A thousand wounds let every bosom bear, Till the keen sword be blunt, be broke the pointed

spear. And see the clouds of dusty battle rise ! Hark how the shout runs rattling through the skies! The distant legions catch the sounds from far, And Cæsar listens to the thundering war, 275 He comes, he comes, yet ere his foldier dies, Like lightning swift the winged warrior flies : Haste then to death, to conquest haste away ; Well do we fall, for Cæfar wins the day.

He

}

He spoke, and straight, as at the trumpet's found, 286 Rekindled warmth in every breast was found; Recall'd from flight, the youth admiring wait, To mark their daring fellow-foldier's fate, To see if haply virtue might prevail, And, ev’n beyond their hopes, do more than greatly fail.

High on the tottering wall he rears his head, 286 With slaughter'd carcases around him fpread; With nervous arms uplifting these he throws, These rolls oppreffive, on ascending foes. Each where materials for his fury lie,

29• And all the ready ruins arms supply : Even his fierce self he seems to aim below, Headlong to shoot, and dying dart a blow. Now his tough staff repels the fierce attack, And tumbling, drives the bold assailants back :

295 Now heads, now hands he lops, the carcase falls, Whilst the clench'd fingers gripe the topmost walls : Here stones he heaves ; the mass descending full, Crushes the brain, and shivers the frail scull. 299 Here burning pitchy brands he whirls around

j Infix’d, the flames hiss in the liquid wound, Deep drench'd in death, in flowing crimson drown'd.

And now the swelling heaps of flaughter'd foes, Sublime and equal to the fortress rose; Whence, forward, with a leap, at once he sprung, 305 And shot himself amidst the hostile throng. So daring, fierce with rage, so void of fear, Bounds forth the spotted pard, and scorns the hunter's spear, .

The

« ПредишнаНапред »