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LUCIUS JUNIUS BRUTUS'S ORATION OVER
THE BODY OF LUCRETIA.
Brutus, BY J. H. PAYNE.
WOULD you know why I summoned you together ?
ye what brings me here? Behold this dagger,
Clotted with gore! Behold that frozen corse!
See where the lost Lucretia sleeps in death !
She was the mark and model of the time,
The mould in which each female face was formed,
The very shrine and sacristy of virtue !
Fairer than ever was a form created
By youthful fancy when the blood strays wild,
And never resting thought is all on fire !
The worthiest of the worthy! Not the nymph
Who met old Numa in his hallowed walks,
And whispered in his ear her strains divine,
Can I conceive beyond her ;-the young choir
Of vestal virgins bent to her. 'Tis wonderful
Amid the darnel, hemlock, and base weeds,
Which now spring rife from the luxurious compost
Spread o'er the realm, how this sweet lily rose,-
How from the shade of those ill-neighbouring plants
Her father sheltered her, that not a leaf
Was blighted, but, arrayed in purest grace,
She bloomed unsullied beauty. Such perfections
Might have called back the torpid breast of age
To long-forgotten rapture ; such a mind
Might have abashed the boldest libertine
And turned desire to reverential love,
And holiest affection! Oh, my countrymen !
You all can witness when that she went forth
It was a holiday in Rome; old age
Forgot its crutch, labour its task,—all ran,
And mothers, turning to their daughters, cried,
“There, there's Lucretia !” Now, look ye, where she lies !
That beauteous flower, that innocent sweet rose,
Torn up by ruthless violence-gone! gone! gone!
Say, would you seek instruction ? would ye
ye should do ? Ask ye yon conscious walls,
Which saw his poisoned brother,-
Ask yon deserted street, where Tullia drove
O'er her dead father's corse, 'twill cry, Revenge !
Ask yonder senate-house, whose stones are purple
With human blood, and it will cry, Revenge !
Go to the tomb where lies his murdered wife,
And the poor queen, who loved him as her son,
Their unappeased ghosts will shriek, Revenge !
The temples of the gods, the all-viewing heavens,
The gods themselves, shall justify the cry,
And swell the general sound, Revenge ! Revenge !
And we will be revenged, my countrymen !
Brutus shall lead you on ; Brutus, a name
Which will, when you're revenged, be dearer to him
Than all the noblest titles earth can boast.
Brutus your king !— No, fellow-citizens !
If mad ambition in this guilty frame
Had strung one kingly fibre,-yea, but one-
By all the gods, this dagger which I hold
Should rip it out, though it entwined my heart.
Now take the body up. Bear it before us
To Tarquin's palace ; there we'll light our torches,
And, in the blazing conflagration, rear
A pile for these chaste relics, that shall send
Her soul amongst the stars. On ! Brutus leads you !
CLAUDE MELNOTTE TO PAULINE.
The Lady of Lyons, BY BULWER-LYTTON.
PAULINE, by pride-
Angels have fallen ere thy time : by pride-
That sole alloy of thy most lovely mould —
The evil spirit of a bitter love,'
And a revengeful heart, had power upon thee.
From my first years my soul was filled with thee;
I saw thee ʼmidst the flowers the lowly boy
Tended, unmarked by thee- a spirit of bloom,
And joy, and freshness, as if Spring itself
Were made a living thing, and wore thy shape !
I saw thee, and the passionate heart of man
Entered the breast of the wild-dreaming boy.
And from that hour I grew-what to the last
I shall be — thine adorer! Well ; this love,
Vain, frantic, guilty, if thou wilt, became
A fountain of ambition and bright hope ;
I thought of tales that by the winter hearth
Old gossips tell—how maidens
Have stooped from their high sphere; how Love like Death,
Levels all ranks, and lays the shepherd's crook
Beside the sceptre. Thus I made my home
In the soft palace of a fairy Future !
My father died; and I, the peasant-born,
Was my own lord. Then did I seek to rise
Out of the prison of my mean estate ;
And, with such jewels as the exploring Mind
Brings from the caves of Knowledge, buy my ransom
From those twin-gaolers of the daring heart -
Low birth and iron fortune. Thy bright image,
Glassed in my soul, took all the hues of glory,
And lured me on to those inspiring toils
By which man masters men! For thee I grew
A midnight student o'er the dreams of sages !
For thee I sought to borrow from each Grace,
And every Muse, such attributes as lend
Ideal charms to Love. I thought of thee,
And Passion taught me poesy —of thee,
And on the painter's canvass grew the life
Of beauty !--- Art became the shadow
Of the dear starlight of thy haunting eyes !
Men called me vain-some mad—I heeded not ;
But still toiled on-hoped on—for it was sweet,
If not to win, to feel more worthy thee!
At last, in one mad hour, I dared to pour
The thoughts that burst their channels into song,
And sent them to thee—such a tribute, lady,
As beauty rarely scorns, even from the meanest,
The name - appended by the burning heart
That longed to show its idol what bright things
It had created — yea, the enthusiast's name,
That should have been thy triumph, was thy scorn !
That very hour-when passion, turned to wrath,
Resembled hatred most — when thy disdain
whole soul a chaos in that hour The tempters found me a revengeful tool For their revenge! Thou hadst trampled on the worm It turned and stung thee ! I will not tell thee of the throes—the struggles --The anguish—the remorse : No-let it pass ! And let me come to such most poor atonement Yet in my power. Pauline ! [Approaching her with great emotion, and about to take her hand. She shrinks from him.]
Do not fear me.
Thou dost not know me, Madam : at the altar
My vengeance ceased—my guilty oath expired !
Henceforth, no image of some marble saint,
Niched in cathedral aisles, is hallowed more
From the rude hand of sacrilegious wrong.
I am thy, husband —nay, thou need'st not shudder;
Here, at thy feet, I lay a husband's rights.
A marriage thus unholy-unfulfilled --
A bond of fraud-is, by the laws of France,
Made void and null. To-night sleep-sleep in peace ;
To-morrow, pure and virgin as this morn
I bore thee, bathed in blushes, from the shrine,
Thy father's arms shall take thee to thy home.
The law shall do thee justice, and restore
Thy right to bless another with thy love ;
And when thou art happy, and hast half forgot
Him who so loved —so wronged thee, think at least
Heaven left some remnant of the angel still
In that poor peasant's nature !
London :- Printed by G. BARCLAY, Castle St. Leicester Sq.