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Himself appeared, and with terrific tread
Stalked through his drear domain. And yet, my friends,
(If shapes like his be but the fancy's coinage)
Surely there is a hidden power, that reigns
'Mid the lone majesty of untamed nature,
Controlling sober reason ; tell me else,
Why do these haunts of barb'rous superstition
O'ercome me thus ? I scorn them, yet they awe me. ·
Enter Vellinus and Elidurus.
Ye pledges dear of Cartismandua's faith,
Approach! and to mine uninstructed ear
Explain this scene of horror.
Know that thou stand'st on consecrated ground :
These mighty piles of magic-planted rock,
Thus ranged in mystic order, mark the place
Where but at times of holiest festival
The Druid leads his train.
Where dwells the seer?
Vel. In yonder shaggy cave; on which the moon
Now sheds a side-long gleam. His brotherhood
Possess the neighb'ring cliffs.
the hill Mine
descries a distant range of caves,
Delved in the ridges of the craggy steep;
And this way still another.
On the left
Beside the sages skilled in nature's lore:
The changeful universe, its numbers, powers,
Studious they measure, save when meditation
Gives place to holy rites : then in the grove
Each hath his rank and function. Yonder grots
Are tenanted by Bards, who nightly thence,
Robed in their flowing vests of innocent white,
Descend, with harps that glitter to the moon,
Hymning immortal strains. The Spirits of air,
Of earth, of water, nay of heav'n itself,
Do listen to their lay; and oft, 'tis said,
In visible shapes dance they a magic round
To the high minstrelsy.-- Now, if thine eye
Be sated with the view, haste to thy ships,
And ply thine oars; for, if the Druids learn
This bold intrusion, thou wilt find it hard
To foil their fury.
Prince, I did not moor
My light-armed shallops on this dangerous strand
To soothe a fruitless curiosity ;
1 come in quest of proud Caractacus ;
Who, when our veterans put his troops to flight,
Found refuge here.
If here the monarch rests,
Presumptuous chief! thou might'st as well essay
To pluck him from yon stars : Earth's ample range
Contains no surer refuge : underneath
The soil we tread, a hundred secret paths,
Scooped through the living rock in winding maze,
Lead to as many caverns, dark, and deep :
In which the hoary sages act their rites
Mysterious, rites of such strange potency,
As, done in open day, would dim the sun,
Though throned in noontide brightness. In such dens
He may for life lie hid.
CAPTURE OF CARACTACUS. Aulus Didius bursts into the sanctuary of the Druids, with Vel
linus, Elidurus, and soldiers.
Druid, Evelina, Bard, and Caractacus.
Ye bloody priests,
Behold we burst on your infernal rites,
And bid you pause. Instant restore our soldiers,
Nor hope that superstition's ruthless step
Shall wade in Roman gore. Ye savage men,
Did not our laws give license to all faiths,
We would o'erturn your altars, headlong heave
These shapeless symbols of your barbarous gods,
And let the golden sun into your caves.
Druid. Servant of Cæsar, has thine impious tongue
Spent the black venom of its blasphemy?
It has. Then take our curses on thine head,
Ev'n his fell curses who doth reign in Mona,
Vicegerent of those gods thy pride insults.
Aul. Did. Bold priest, I scorn thy curses, and thyself.
Soldiers, go search the caves, and free the prisoners.
Take heed, ye seize Caractacus alive.
Look to the beauteous maid,
'That tranced in grief, bends o'er yon bleeding corse-
Respect her sorrows.
Ye shall not take him weltering thus in blood,
To show at Rome what British virtue was.
Avaunt! the breathless body that ye touch
Was once Arviragus !
Fear us not, princess,
We reverence the dead.
Would too to Heaven,
Ye reverenced the gods but even enough
Not to debase with slavery's cruel chain
Whom they created free.
The Romans fight
Not to enslave, but humanize the world.
Druid. Go to, we will not parley with thee, Roman :
Instant pronounce our doom.
Hear it, and thank us.
This once our clemency shall spare your groves,
If at our call ye yield the British king :
Yet learn, when next ye aid the foes of Cæsar,
That each old oak, whose solemn gloom ye boast,
Shall bow beneath our axes.
Be they blasted,
Wherever their shade forgets to shelter virtue!
Bard- Mourn, Mona, mourn. Caractacus is captive!
And dost thou smile, false Roman? Do not think
He fell an easy prey. Know, ere he yielded,
Thy bravest veterans bled. He too, thy spy,
The base Brigantian prince, hath sealed his fraud
With death. Bursting thro' armed ranks, that hemmed
The caitiff round, the brave Caractacus
Seized his false throat ; and as he gave him death
Indignant thundered, " Thus is my last stroke
The stroke of justice." Numbers then opprest him.
I saw the slave, that cowardly behind
Pinioned his arms ; I saw the sacred sword
Writhed from his grasp—I saw, what now ye see,
Inglorious sight! those barbarious bonds upon him.
Car. Romans, methinks the malice of your tyrant
Might furnish heavier chains. Old as I am,
And withered as you see these war-worn limbs,
Trust me, they shall support the weightiest load
Injustice dares impose-
Proud crested soldier,
Who seem'st the master-mover in this business,
Say, dost thou read less terror on my brow,
Than when thou meet'st me in the fields of war
Heading my nations ? No, my free-born soul
Has scorn still left to sparkle through these eyes,
And frown defiance on thee- Is it thus !
[Seeing his son's body.
Then I'm indeed a captive. Mighty gods !
My soul, my soul submits : patient it bears
The ponderous load of grief ye heap upon it.
Yes, it will grovel in this shattered breast,
And be the sad tame thing it ought to be,
Cooped in a servile body.
Droop not, king.
When Claudius, the great master of the world,
Shall hear the noble story of thy valour,
Car. Can a Roman pity, soldier ?
And if he can, gods ! must a Briton bear it?
Arviragus, my bold, my breathless boy,
Thou hast escaped such pity ; thou art free.
Here in high Mona shall thy noble limbs
Rest in a noble grave; posterity
Shall to thy tomb with annual reverence bring
Sepulchral stones, and pile them to the clouds ;
Aul. Did. The morn doth hasten our departure.
Prepare thee, king, to go : a fav'ring gale
Now swells our sails.
Inhuman that thou art !
Dost thou deny a moment for a father
To shed a few warm tears o'er his dead son ?
I tell thee, chief, this act might claim a life,
To do it duly ; even a longer life,
Than sorrow ever suffered. Cruel man!
And thou deni'st me moments.
children ; Ye triumph o'er your tears, and think it valor; I triumph in my tears.
Arise, my daughter.Weep'st thou, my girl ? 'I prithee hoard thy tears For the sad meeting of thy captive mother:
For we have much to tell her, much to say
Of these good men who nurtured us in Mona ;
Much of the fraud and malice, that pursued us ;
Much of her son, who poured his precious blood
To save his sire and sister : think'st thou, maid,
Her gentleness can hear the tale, and live?
And yet she must.
But I'll be mute. Adieu ! ye holy men;
Yet one look more—Now lead us hence for ever.
Dr. Thomas Warton is best known as a poetical antiquary. He wrote a " History of English Poetry," and by his researches and criticisms turned the attention of English readers in his time from the mere perusal of contemporary poets to the neglected authors of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. Dr. Warton is not memorable for inventive talent, but he was well acquainted with the earlier British writers, he admired the ancient architecture of his country, and he loved the legends of old ro
“ His Crusade, and the Grave of Arthur," says Mr. Campbell, "have a genuine air of martial and minstrel enthusiasm. Those pieces exhibit, to the best advantage, the most striking feature of his poetical character, which was a fondness for the recollections of chivalry, and a minute intimacy of imagination with its gorgeous residences, and imposing spectacles. Dr. Warton may indeed be said to have revived the spirit of chivalry in the poetry of modern times." But a genius above the reach of Warton's, was destined, in a few years after him, to soar beyond the track in which he first essayed his flights. Those who read the Grave of Arthur, in order to enhance their estimation of it, must remember that it was written before the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and it is interesting as the precursor of a style of poetic composition, which, though somewhat ancient in its subjects, is altogether new in its present attractiveness and popularity.
About the beginning of the sixth century, the Romans, who had been masters of Britain during four hundred years, withdrew