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And, as firm rock, or castle roof,
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, invulnerable still,
Foil'd his wild rage by steady skill ;
Till, at advantage ta’en, his brand
Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,
And backward borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud Chieftain to his knee.
“Now, yield thee, or by Him who made
The world, thy heart's blood dyes my blade!'-
'Thy threats, thy mercy, I defy !
Let recreant yield who fears to die.'
-Like adder darting from his coil,
Like wolf that dashes through the toil,
Like mountain-cat who guards her young,
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung;
Receiv'd, but recked not of a wound,
And lock'd his arms his foeman round. -
Now, gallant Saxon, hold thine own!
No maiden's band is round thee thrown !
That desperate grasp thy frame might feel
Through bars of brass and triple steel! -
They tug, they strain! Down, down they go,
The Gael above, Fitz-James below.
The Chieftain's gripe his throat compressid,
His knee was planted on his breast;
His clotted locks he backward threw,
Across his brow his hand he drew,
From blood and mist to clear his sight,
Then gleam'd aloft his dagger bright !-
- But hate and fury ill supplied
The stream of life's exhausted tide,
And all too late the advantage came,
To turn the odds of deadly game;
For, while the dagger gleam'd on high,
Reel'd soul and sense, reeld brain and eye.
Down came the blow ! but in the heath
The erring blade found bloodless sheath.
The struggling foe may now unclasp
The fainting Chief's relaxing grasp ;
Unwounded from the dreadful close,
But breathless all, Fitz-James arose.
HENRY VIII., ACT III., PART OF SCENE II.
Wolsey alone. So farewell to the little good you bear me.
Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness !
This is the state of man: To-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope ; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him :
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost ;
And, -when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening, --nips his root;
And then he falls, as I do. I have ventur'd,
Like little wanton boys, that swim on bladders,
This many summers in a sea of glory,
But far beyond my depth ; my high blown pride
At length broke under me; and now has left me,
Weary, and old with service, to the mercy
Of a rude stream, that must for ever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye;
I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched
Is that poor man, that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.-
Enter Cromwell, amazedly.
Crom. I have no power to speak, sir.
At my misfortunes ? can thy spirit wonder,
A great man should decline? Nay, an you weep,
I am fallen indeed.
How does your grace ?
Why, well; Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell. I know myself now; and I feel within me A peace above all earthly dignities, A still and quiet conscience. The king has cur'd me. I humbly thank his grace; and from these shoulders, These ruin'd pillars, out of pity, taken
A load would sink a navy--too much honour :
0, 'tis a burden, Cromwell, 'tis a burden,
Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven.
Crom. I am glad your grace has made that right use
Wol. I hope I have ; I am able now, methinks,
(Out of a fortitude of soul I feel)
To endure more miseries, and greater far,
Than my weak-hearted enemies dare offer.
What news abroad?
The heaviest, and the worst,
Is your displeasure with the king.
God bless him!
Crom. The next is, that Sir Thomas More is chosen
Lord chancellor in your place,
That's somewhat sudden;
But he's a learned man. May he continue
Long in his highness' favour, and do justice
For truth's sake and his conscience ; that his bones,
When he has run his course, and sleeps in blessings,
May have a tomb of orphans' tears wept on them!
Crom. That Cranmer is return'd with welcome,
Installed lord archbishop of Canterbury.
Wol. That's news indeed.
Last, that the lady Anne,
Whom the king hath in secrecy long married,
This day was view'd in open as his queen,
Going to chapel ; and the voice is now
Only about her coronation.
Wol. There was the weight that pull'd me down. O
The king has gone beyond me;
In that one woman I have lost for ever.
No sun shall ever usher forth my honours,
Or gild again the noble troops that waited
Upon my smiles. Go, get thee from me, Cromwell ;
I am a poor fallen man, unworthy now
To be thy lord and master : Seek the king.
pray, may never set ; I have told him What, and how true thou art ; he will advance thee; Some little memory of me will stir him,
(I know his noble nature,) not to let
Thy hopeful service perish too : Good Cromwell,
Neglect him not ; make use now, and provide
For thine own future safety.
O, my Lord,
Must I then leave you ? must I needs forego
So good, so noble, and so true a master?
Bear witness, all that have not hearts of iron,
With what a sorrow Cromwell leaves his lord.
The king shall have my service; but my prayers
For ever, and for ever, shall be yours.
Wol. Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forc'd me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes; and thus far hear me, Cromwell ;
And, when I am forgotten, as I shall be ;
And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention
Of me must more be heard of,--say, I taught thee;
Say, Wolsey,—that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour,-
Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in ;
A sure and safe one, though thy master miss'd it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruin'd me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition :
By that sin fell the angels; how can man then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by it?
Love thyself last : cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just and fear not :
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then, if thou fall'st, o Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr. Serve the King ;
And-Pr’ythee, lead me in ;
There take an inventory of all I have,
To the last penny ; 'tis the king's : my robe,
And my integrity to Heaven, is all
I dare now call mine own. O Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but serv'd my God with half the zeal
I serv'd my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.
Crom. Good sir, have patience.
So I have. Farewell. The hopes of court; my hopes in heaven do dwell.
THE GOOD LIFE-LONG LIFE.- Ben Jonson
It is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make men better be ;
Or standing long an oak three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere;
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night,
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see,
And in short measures life may perfect be.
THE LOSS OF THE BIRKENHEAD.
Sir F. H. Doyle. Supposed to be narrated by a soldier who survived. (The Birkenhead was lost off the coast of Africa by striking on a hidden rock. The soldiers on board sacrificed themselves, in order that the boats might be left free for the women and children. These verses are put into the mouth of one of the few who eventually escaped.) Right on our flank the crimson sun went down,
The deep sea rolled around in dark repose, When, like the wild shriek from some captured town, A cry
of women rose. The stout ship Birkenhead lay hard and fast,
Caught, without hope, upon a hidden rock;
Her timbers thrilled as nerves, when thro' them passed
The spirit of that shock.
And ever like base cowards, who leave their ranks
In danger's hour, before the rush of steel,
Drifted away, disorderly, the planks,
From underneath her keel. Confusion spread, for, though the coast seemed ncar,
Sharks hovered thick along that white sea-brink. The boats could hold ?- not all--and it was clear
She was about to sink.