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Had their low fawning juftl; been design'd,
If truth could locige in an Ægyptian mind,
Their king himself with all his fleet had come,
To lead, in pomp, his benefactor home.
But thus Fate willid; and Pompey chose to bear 775
A certain death, before uncertain fear.
While, now, aboard the hostile boat he goes,
To follow him, the frantic matron vows,
And claims her partnership in all his woes.
But, oh! forbear (he cries) my love, forbear;
Thou and my son remain in safety here.
Let this old head the danger first explore,
And prove the faith of yon' suspected shore.
He spoke ; but she, unmov'd at his commands,
Thus loud exclaiming, stretch'd her eager hands : 785
Whither, inhuman! whither art thou gone ?
Still must I weep our common griefs alone ?
Joy still, with thee, forsakes my boding heart ;
And fatal is the hour whene'er we part.
Why did thy vessel to iny Lesbos turn?
790 Why was Í from the faithful island borne ? Mult I all lands, all shores, alike, forbear, And only on the seas thy forrows share ? Thus, to the winds, loud plain’d her fruitless tongue, While eager
from the deck on high she hung; 795 Trembling with wild astonishment and fear, She dares not, while her parting lord they bear, Turn her eyes from him once, or fix them there. On him his anxious navy all are bent, And wait, solicitous, the dire event.
800 A a 2
No danger aim'd against his life they doubt;
Care for his glory only, fills their thought :
They with he may not stain his name renown'd,
By mean submission to the boy he crown'd.
Just as he enter'd o'er the vessel's side,
Hail, general ! the curs'd Septimius cry'd,
A Roman once in generous warfare bred,
And oft in arms by mighty Pompey led ;
But now (what vile dishonour must it bring)
The ruffian Nave of an Ægyptian king.
Fierce was he, horrible, inur’d to blood,
And ruthless as the savage of the wood,
Oh, Fortune ! who but would have call'd thee kind,
And thought thee mercifully now inclin'd,
When thy o'er-ruling providence withheld
This hand of mischief from Pharfalia's field ?
But, thus, thou scatter'st thy destroying swords,
land thy victims thus affords.
Shall Pompey at a tyrant's bidding bleed!
Can Roman hands be to the task decreed !
Ev'n Cæsar, and his gods, abhor the deed.
Say you! who with the stain of murder brand
Immortal Brutus's avenging hand,
What monstrous title, yet to speech unknown,
To latest times shall mark Septimius down!
Now in the boat defenceless Pompey fate,
Surrounded and abandon'd to his fate.
Nor long they hold him in their power, aboard,
villain drew his ruthless fword : The chief perceiv'd their purpose foon, and spread 830 His Roman gown with patience, o'er his head :
And when the curs'd Achillas pierc'd his breast,
His rising indignation close repress’d.
No fighs, no groans, his dignity profan’d,
Nor tears his still unsully'd glory stain's :
Unmoy'd and firm he fix'd him on his seat,
And dy'd, as when he liv'd and conquer’d, great.
Meanwhile, within his equal parting soul,
These latest pleasing thoughts revolving roll.
In this my strongest trial, and my last,
As in some theatre I here am plac'd :
The faith of Ægypt, and my fate, shall be
A theme for present times, and late pofterity.
Much of my former life was crown’d with praise,
And honours waited on my early days :
Then, fearless, let me this dread period meet,
And force the world to own the scene complete.
Nor grieve, my heart! by such base hands to bleed ;
Whoever strikes the blow, 'tis Cæsar's deed.
What, though this mangled carcafe shall be torn, 850
These limbs be tost about for public scorn ;
My long prosperity has found its end,
And death comes opportunely, like a friend :
It comes, to set me free from fortune's power,
And gives, what she can rob me of no more.
My wife and son behold me now, 'tis true ;
Oh! may no tears, no groans, my fate pursue !
My virtue rather let their praise approve,
Let them admire my death, and my remembrance love.
Such constancy in that dread hour remain'd, 860 And, to the last, the struggling foul sustain'd. A a 3
Not so the matron's feebler powers repress'd
The wild impatience of her frantic breaft:
stab her bleeding heart was torn, With wounds much harder to be seen, than borne. 865 'Tis I, 'tis I have murder'd him! (she cries) My love the sword and ruthless hand supplies. 'Twas I allur'd him to my fatal ille, That cruel Cæsar first might reach the Nile ; For Cæfar sure is there ; no hand but his
870 Has right to such a parricide as this. But whether Cæsar, or whoe'er thou art, Thou hast mistook the way to Pompey's heart : That facred pledge in my sad bosom lies, There plunge thy dagger, and he more than dies. - 875 Me too, most worthy of thy fury know, The partner of his arms, and sworn your foe. Of all our Roman wives, I fingly bore The camp's fatigue, the sea's tempestuous roar : No dangers, not the victor's wrath, I fear'd;
880 What mighty monarchs durft not do, I dar'd. These guilty arms did their glad refuge yield, And clasp'd him, flying from Pharfalia's field. Ah, Pompey! dost thou thus thy faith reward ? Shalt thou be doom'd to die, and I be spar'd ? But Fate shall many means of death afford, Nor want th' assistance of a tyrant's sword. And you, my friends, in pity, let me leap Hence headlong, down amidst the tumbling deep : Or to my neck the strangling cordage tie; if their be any friend of Pompey nigb, Transfix me, stab me, do but let me die.
My lord! my husband !-Yet thou art not dead;
And fte! Cornelia is a captive led :
From thee their cruel hands thy wife detain, 895
Reserv'd to wear th' insulting victor's chain.
She spoke ; and stiffening sunk in cold despair ;
Her weeping maids the lifeless burden bear;
While the pale mariners the bark unmoor,
Spread every fail, and fly the faithless shore.
Nor agonies, nor livid death, disgrace
The sacred features of the hero's face;
In the cold visage, mournfully serene;
The same indignant majesty was seen ;
There virtue still unchangeable abode,
905 And scorn'd the spite of every partial god.
The bloody business now complete and done,
New Furies urge the fierce Septimius on.
He rends the robe that veil'd the hero's head,
And to full view expos’d the recent dead ;
Hard in his horrid gripe the face he press’d,
the quivering muscles life confess’d :
He drew the dragging body down with haste,
Then cross a rower's seat the neck he plac'd;
There, aukward, haggling, he divides the bone
915 (The headíman's art was then but rudely known). Straight on the spoil his Pharian partner flies, And robs the heartless villain of his prize. The head, his trophy, proud Achillas bears ; Septimius an inferior drudge appears, And in the meaner mischief poorly shares. Caught by the venerable locks, which grow, In hoary ringlets, on his generous brove,