Imágenes de páginas


But at his haughty challenge a sullen murmur ran,
Mingled of wrath, and shame, and dread, along that glittering van.
There lacked not men of prowess, nor men of lordly race;
For all Etruria's noblest were round the fatal place.

20. But all Etruria's noblest felt their hearts sink to see On the earth the bloody corses, in the path the dauntless Three :

And, from the ghastly entrance where those bold Romans stood, All shrank, like boys who, unaware, ranging the woods to start a hare, Come to the mouth of the dark lair, where, growling low, a fierce

old bear
Lies amidst bones and blood.

21. But meanwhile axe and lever have manfully been plied, And now the bridge hangs tottering above the boiling tide. “Come back, come back, Horatius !” loud cried the Fathers 11 all. “ Back, Lartius! back, Herminius! back ere the ruin fall !"


Back darted Spurius Lartius; Herminius darted back :
And, as they passed, beneath their feet they felt the timbers crack.
But when they turned their faces, and on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone, they would have crossed once more.


But with a crash like thunder fell every loosened beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck lay right athwart 1? the stream:
And a long shout of triumph rose from the walls of Rome,
As to the highest turret-tops was splashed the yellow foam.


Alone stood brave Horatius, but constant still in mind; Thrice thirty thousand foes before, and the broad flood behind. “ Down with him!” cried false Sextus, with a smile on his pale face “ Now yield thee,” cried Lars Porsena, “now yield thee to our grace.”

25. Round turned he, as not deigning those craven ranks to see ; Naught spake he to Lars Porsena, to Sextus naught spake he,

But he saw on Palatinus * the white porch of his home;
And he spake to the noble river that rolls by the towers of Rome.

26. O) Tiber! father Tiber! to whom the Romans pray, A Poman's life, a Roman's arms, take thou in charge this day!” So he spake, and speaking, sheathed the good sword by his side, And, with his harness on his back, plunged headlong in the tide.


No sound of joy or sorrow was heard from either bank;

But friends and foes, in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,

Stood gazing where he sank;
And when above the surges they saw his crest appear,

All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany

Could scarce forbear to cheer.

But fiercely ran the current, swollen high by months of rain ;
And fast his blood was flowing; and he was sore in pain,
And heavy with his armor, and spent with changing blows:
And oft they thought him sinking, but still again he rose.

29. And now he feels the bottom ; now on dry earth he stands, Now round him throng the Fathers to press his gory hands; And now with shouts and clapping, and noise of weeping loud, Ile enters through the River-gate, borne by the joyous crowd.

1 CÔN'syl. One of the two chief mag- 1 6 HIND. A countryman ; a rustic;

istrates of the ancient Roman re I also, the female of the red deer. public.

7 BĀy. The state of being obliged to 2 QUOTII. Said.

face one's enemies, through im 8 D'AUNT'LESS. Incapable of being possibility of escape intimidated ; fearless.

8 DĚFT'L¥. Dexterously. 4 VXIGVÄRD. That part of an army | 9 ÂU GỤR. A soothsayer.

which goes before the main body 10 A-MĀIN'. Violently ; with might. on a march, to guard against a sur- | 11 FÄTH'ERŞ. Members of the Roman prise.

senate. 6 FELL, Cruel ; inhuman.

| 12 A-THWÂRT'. Across ; transverse to

PXL-A-TI'NYS. Palatino, one of the seven hills of Rome,



[Peter the First, Czar of Russia, commonly called Peter the Great, was born m 1672, and died in 1725. He was a man of remarkable ability, both as a states. man and a warrior. Through his efforts for the civilization of his people, his internal improvements, and his conquests in war, Russia emerged from a posi. tion of comparative obscurity to one in the first rank among the nations of the world.

Peter the Great visited London in 1698, in the reign of William 111.]

1. On the 10th of January a vessel from Holland anchored off Greenwich,* and was welcomed with great respect. Peter the First, Czar of Muscovy,t was on board. He took boat with a few attendants, and was rowed up the Thames † to Norfolk Street, where a house overlooking the river had been prepared for his reception. His journey is an epoch' in the history not only of his own country, but of ours, and of the world. To the polished nations of Western Europe, the empire which he governed had till then been what Bokhara ş or Siam || is to us. That empire, indeed, though less extensive than at present, was the most extensive that had ever obeyed a single chief.

2. On the Baltic, Russia had not then a single port. Her maritime? trade with the other nations of Christendom was entirely carried on at Archangel, 1 a place which had been created and was supported by adventurers from our island. In the days of the Tudors, ** a ship from England, seeking a north-east passage to the land of silk and spice, had discovered the White Sea. The barbarians who dwelt on the shores of that dreary gulf had never before

* Pronounced GRĒNIJ. † Mos'CQ-Vụ. A name sometimes applied to Russia. I Pronounced TEMZ. & BÕK-HÄ RÄ. A state of Central Asia, | SI-XM'. An extensive kingdom in the south-east of Asia. T ÄRCH-ĀN'GEL. A seaport town in the northern part of Russia. ** The Tudor dynasty of English sovereigns began with Henry VII. (proclaimed king in 1485), the son of Edmund Tudor, and ended with Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1603,

seen such a portent as a vessel of a hundred and sixty tons burden. They fled in terror; and, when they were pursued and overtaken, prostrated themselves before the chief of the strangers, and kissed his feet. He succeeded in opening a friendly communication with them, and from that time there had been a regular commercial intercourse between our country and the subjects of the Czar.

3. The commercial intercourse between England and Russia made some diplomatico intercourse necessary. The diplomatic intercourse, however, was only occasional. Three or four times in a century extraordinary embassies 6 were sent from Whitehall * to the Kremlin, † and from the Kremlin to Whitehall. The English embassies had historians, whose narratives may still be read with interest. Those historians described vividly, and sometimes bitterly, the savage ignorance and the squalid® poverty of the barbarous country in which they had sojourned?. In that country, they said, there was neither literature nor science, neither school nor college. The best educated men could barely read and write. The arithmetic was the arithmetic of the Dark Ages. Even in the imperial treasury the computations were made by the help of balls strung on wires.

4. Round the person of the sovereign there was a blaze of gold and jewels; but even in his most splendid palaces were to be found the filth and misery of an Irish cabin. So late as the year 1663 the gentlemen of the retinue 8 of the Earl of Carlisle were, in the city of Moscow, thrust into a single bed-room, and were told that, if they did not remain together, they would be in danger of being devoured by rats.

* WHĪTEHÂLL' was a celebrated palace in London, for a long time the principal residence of English sovereigns.

+ THE KREM'LỊN is the central part and most elevated site of the city of Moscow (formerly the capital of Russia), of which it formed the original nucleus. It is separated from the rest of the city by a high wall, and contains the most important public edifices.

5. Our ancestors, therefore, were not a little surprised to learn that a young barbarian, who had, at seventeen years of age, become the autocrat of the immense region stretching from the confines of Sweden to those of China, and whose education had been inferior to that of an English farmer or shopman, had planned gigantic improvements, had learned enough of some languages of Western Europe to enable him to communicate with civilized men, had begun to surround himself with able adventurers from various parts of the world, had sent many of his young subjects to study languages, arts, and sciences in foreign cities, and, finally, had determined to travel as a private man, and to discover, by personal observation, the secret of the immense prosperity and power enjoyed by some communities whose whole territory was far less than the hundredth part of his dominions.

6. His empire was of all en pires the least capable of being made a great naval power. On the ocean he had only a single port — Archangel; and the whole shipping of Archangel was foreign. There did not exist a Russian vessel larger than a fishing-boat. Yet, from some cause, which cannot now be traced, he had a taste for maritime pursuits which amounted to a passion, indeed almost to a monomania'. His imagination was full of sails, yard-arms, and rudders. That large. mind, equal to the highest duties of the general and the statesman, contracted itself to the most minute details of naval architecture and naval discipline. The chief ambition of the great conqueror and legislator was to be a good boatswain and a good ship's carpenter.

7. He repaired to Amsterdam, took a lodging in the dockyard, assumed the garb of a pilot, put down his name on the list of workmen, wielded with his own hand the calking-iron and the mallet, fixed the pumps, and twisted the ropes. Ambassadors, who came to pay their respects

dockyar list of way the ma

« AnteriorContinuar »