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[From Leonidas, Book IX.]
'I too, like them, from Lacedæmon spring,
Like them instructed once to poise the spear,
To lift the ponderous shield. Ill destined wretch !
Thy arm is grown enervate, and would sink
Beneath a buckler's weight. Malignant fates,
Who have compelled my free-born hand to change
The warrior's arms for ignominious bonds ;
Would you compensate for my chains, my shame,
My ten years anguish, and the fell despair,
Which on my youth have preyed ; relenting once,
Grant I may bear my buckler to the field,
And, known a Spartan, seek the shades below!'
"Why to be known a Spartan must thou seek
The shades below ?' Impatient Maron spake.
‘Live, and be known a Spartan by thy deeds ;
Live, and enjoy thy dignity of birth ;
Live, and perform the duties which become
A citizen of Sparta. Still thy brow
Frowns gloomy, still unyielding. He who leads
Our band, all fathers of a noble race,
'Will ne'er permit thy barren day to close
Without an offspring to uphold the state.'
‘He will,' replies the brother in a glow,
Prevailing o'er the paleness of his cheek,
'He will permit me to complete by death
The 'measure of my duty ; will permit
Me to achieve a service, which no hand
But mine can render, to adorn his fall
With double lustre, strike the barbarous foe
With endless terror, and avenge the shame
Of an enslaved Laconian.' Closing here
His words mysterious, quick he turned away
To find the tent of Agis. There his hand
In grateful sorrow ministered her aid ;
While the humane, the hospitable care
Of Agis, gently by her lover's corse
On one sad bier the pallid beauties laid
Of Ariena. He from bondage freed
Four eastern captives, whom his generous arm
That day had spared in battle ; then began
This solemn charge. "You, Persians, whom my sword
Acquired in war, unransomed, shall depart.
To you I render freedom which you sought
To wrest from me. One recompense I ask,
And one alonę. Transport to Asia's camp
This bleeding princess. Bid the Persian king
Weep o'er this flow'r, untimely cut in bloom.
Then say, th' all-judging pow'rs have thuş ordained.
Thou, whose ambition o'er the groaning earth
Leads desolation ; o’er the nations spreads
Calamity and tears; thou first shalt mourn,
And through thy house destruction first shalt range.'
BALLAD OF ADMIRAL HOSIER'S GHOST.
As near Porto-Bello lying
On the gently-swelling flood,
At midnight with streamers flying
Our triumphant navy rode ;
There while Vernon sat all-glorious
From the Spaniards' late defeat ;
And his crews, with shouts victorious,
Drank success to England's fleet;
On a sudden, shrilly sounding,
Hideous yells and shrieks were heard ;
Then each heart with fear confounding,
A sad troop of ghosts appeared ;
All in dreary hammocks shrouded,
Which for winding sheets they wore,
And with looks by sorrow clouded
Frowning on that hostile shore.
On them gleamed the moon's wan lustre,
When the shade of Hosier brave
His pale bands was seen to muster,
Rising from their watery grave :
O’er the glimmering wave he hied him,
Where the Burford reared her sail,
With three thousand ghosts beside him,
And in groans did Vernon hail.
'Heed, 0 heed, our fatal story,
I am Hosier's injured ghost,
You, who now have purchased glory
At this place where I was lost ;
Though in Porto-Bello's ruin
You now triumph free from fears,
When you think on our undoing,
You will mix your joy with tears.
"See these mournful spectres sweeping
Ghastly o’er this hated wave,
Whose wan cheeks are stained with weeping;
These were English captains brave :
Mark those numbers pale and horrid,
Those were once my sailors bold,
Lo, each hangs his drooping forehead,
While his dismal tale is told.
'I, by twenty sail attended,
Did this Spanish town affright;
Nothing then its wealth defended
But my orders not to fight :
O! that in this rolling ocean
I had cast them with disdain,
And obeyed my heart's warm motion,
To have quelled the pride of Spain ;
For resistance I could fear none,
But with twenty ships had done
What thou, brave and happy Vernon,
Hast achieved with six alone.
Then the Bastimentos never
Had our foul dishonour seen,
Nor the sea the sad receiver
Of this gallant train had been.
'Thus, like thee, proud Spain dismaying,
And her galleons leading home,
Though condemned for disobeying,
I had met a traitor's doom.
To have fallen, my country crying
“ He has played an English part,
Had been better far than dying
Of a grieved and broken heart.
Unrepining at thy glory,
Thy successful arms we hail ;
But remember our sad story,
And let Hosier's wrongs prevail.
Sent in this foul clime to languish,
Think what thousands fell in vain,
Wasted with disease and anguish,
Not in glorious battle slain.
'Hence with all my train attending,
From their oozy tombs below,
Through the hoary foam ascending,
Here I feed my constant woe ;
Here the Bastimentos viewing,
We recall our shameful doom,
And, our plaintive cries renewing,
Wander through the midnight gloom.
O’er these waves for ever mourning
Shall we roam deprived of rest,
If to Britain's shores returning
You neglect my just request ;
After this proud foe subduing,
When your patriot friends you see,
Think on vengeance for my ruin,
And for England shamed in me!'
[SAMUEL JOHNSON was born at Lichfield on the 18th of Sept. 1709. The first of his noteworthy poems, London, was published in 1738, at a period of his life when he was in great poverty, and for the copyright of the poem he only obtained ten guineas. It appeared on the same morning as Pope's Satire. “ 1738,' and surpassed the latter in popularity. In 1747 he wrote his celebrated Prologue for the opening of Drury Lane Theatre. At this theatre was exhibited in 1749 his tragedy of Irene, which, though acted for thirteen nights, failed to secure the public favour. The Vanity of Human Wishes was published earlier in the same year with a view to excite an interest in the author of the play. These were his last important poetical works. He wrote however three Prologues: one to Comus in 1750, when that play was acted for the benefit of Milton's granddaughter; another to Goldsmith's Good-natured Man in 1769; and a third to the revived Word to the Wise in 1777. He died on the 13th of Dec. 1784.]
Johnson may be said to occupy the central place in that highly characteristic school of didactic poetry which was originated by Pope and completed by Goldsmith. The essence of Pope's didactic compositions is personal satire. It is true that he specially prides himself on being the champion of virtue and the great promoter of moral truth. But the virtue which he had invariably before his imagination was his own, and throughout his Imitations of Horace morality is always exalted in the person of the poet, and always seems to be endangered by the wicked virulence of his private enemies. In consequence of their intense personality, Pope's didactic poems fail in point of poetical design. In the Essay on Man the subject matter is Bolingbroke's rather than Pope's, and the conduct of the argument is extraordinarily confused ; while in the Moral Essays and Satires, what really pleases is the beauty of detail, the terse epigrams, the brilliant images, and above all the matchless portraiture of particular characters. The great beauty of Goldsmith's poems, on the other