Thrice looked he at the dead;
And thrice came on in fury,
And thrice turned back in dread:
HORATIUS. 8 1
And, white with fear and hatred,
Scowled at the narrow way
Where, wallowing in a pool of blood,
The bravest Tuscans lay.
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 all.
" Back, Lar.tius ! 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 the stream;
And a long shout of triumph
Rose from the walls of Rome,
As to thediighest turret-tops
Was splashed the yellow foam.
82 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
And, like a horse unbroken
When first he feels the rein,
The furious river struggled hard,
And tossed his tawny mane,
And burst the curb, and bounded,
Rejoicing to be free,
And whirling down, in fierce career
Battlement, and plank, and pier,
Rushed headlong to the sea.
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."
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.
" Oh, Tiber ! Father Tiber !
To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman'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 armour,
And spent with changing blows:
And oft they thought him sinking,
But still again he rose.
Never, I ween, did swimmer,
In such an evil case,
Struggle through such a raging flood
Safe to the landing-place:
But his limbs were borne up bravely
By the brave heart within, ,
And our good Father Tiber
Bare bravely up his chin.
84 THE CASKET OK POETICAL GEMS.
" Curse, on" him ! " quoth false Sextus:
" Will not the villain drown ?
But for this stay, ere close of day
We should have sacked the town ! "
" Heaven help him ! " quoth Lars Porsena,
"And bring him safe to shore;
For such a gallant feat of arms
Was never seen before."
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,
He enters through the River-Gate
Borne by the joyous crowd.
They gave him of the corn-land
That was of public right
As much as two strong oxen
Could plough from morn till night;
And they made a molten image,
And set it up on high,*
And there it stands unto this day
To witness if I lie.
It stands in the Comitium,
Plain for all folk to see;
Horatius in his harness,
Halting upon one knee:
And underneath is written,
In letters all of gold,
How valiantly he kept the bridge
In the brave days of old.
And still his name sounds stirring
Unto the men of Rome,
As the trumpet-blast that cries to them
To charge the Volscian home;
And wives still pray to Juno
For boys with hearts as bold
As his who kept the bridge so well
In the brave days of old.
And in the nights of winter,
When the cold north winds blow,
And the long howling of the wolves
Is heard amidst the snow;
When round the lonely cottage
Roars loud the tempest's din;
And the good logs of Algidus
Roar louder yet within;
When the oldest cask is opened,
And the largest lamp is lit;
When the chestnuts glow in the embers,
And the kid turns on the spit;
When young and old in circle
Around the firebrands close;
When the girls are weaving baskets,
And the lads are shaping bows;
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
When the goodman mends his armour,
And trims his helmet's plume;
When the goodwife's shuttle merrily
Goes flashing through the loom;
With weeping and with laughter
Still is the story told,
How well Horatius kept the bridge
In the brave days of old.
BY HON. MRS. CHARLES HOBART.
T was a time of sadness, and my heart,
Although it knew and loved the better part,
Felt wearied with the conflict and the strife,
v And all the needful discipline of life.
And while I thought on these, as given to me-
My trial tests of faith and love to be t
It seemed as if I never could be sure
That faithful to the end I should endure.
And thus, no longer trusting to His might
Who says, " We walk by faith, and not by sight,"
Doubting, and almost yielding to despair,
The thought arose My cross I cannot bear:
Far heavier its weight must surely be
Than those of others which I daily see.
Oh ! if I might another burden choose,
Methinks I should not fear my crown to lose.
_ (87) __
88 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
A solemn silence reigned on all around
E'en Nature's voices uttered not a sound;
The evening shadows seemed of peace to tell,
And sleep upon my weary spirit fell.
A moment's pause and then a heavenly light
Beamed full upon my wondering, raptured sight;
Angels on silvery wings seemed everywhere,
And angels' music thrilled the balmy air.
Then One, more fair than all the rest to see
One to whom all the others bowed the knee
Came gently to me as I trembling lay,
And " Follow me ! " He said; " I am the Way."
Then, speaking thus, He led me far above,
And there, beneath a canopy of love,
Crosses of divers shape and size were seen,
Larger and smaller than my own had been.
And one there was, most beauteous to behold,
A little one, with jewels set in gold.
Ah ! this, methought, I can with comfort wear,
For it will be an easy one to bear:
And so the little cross I quickly took;
But, all at once, my frame beneath it shook.
The sparkling jewels fair were they to see,
But far too heavy was their weight for me.
" This may not be," I cried, and looked again,
To see if there was any here could ease my pain;
But, one by one, I passed them slowly by,
Till on a lovely one I cast my eye.
THE CHANGED CROSS.
Fair flowers around its sculptured form entwined,
And grace and beauty seemed in it combined,
Wondering, I gazed; and still I wondered more
To think so many should have passed it o'er.
But oh ! that form so beautiful to see
Soon made its hidden sorrows known to me;
Thorns lay beneath those flowers and colors fair !
Sorrowing, I said: "This cross I may not bear."
And so it was with each and all around
Not one to suit my need could there be found;
Weeping, I laid each heavy burden down,
As my Guide gently said: "No cross, no crown."
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
At length, to Him I raised my saddened heart:
He knew its sorrows, bid its doubts depart.
"Be not afraid," He said, "but trust in me
My perfect love shall now be shown to thee."
And then, with lightened eyes and willing feet,
Again I turned, my earthly cross to meet,
With forward footsteps, turning not aside,
For fear some hidden evil might betide;
And there in the prepared, appointed way,
Listening to hear, and ready to obey
A cross I quickly found of plainest form,
With only words of love inscribed thereon.
With thankfulness I raised it from the rest,
And joyfully acknowledged it the best
The only one of all the many there
That I could feel was good for me to bear.
And, while I thus my chosen one confess
I saw a heavenly brightness on it rest;
And, as I bent, my burden to sustain,
I recognized my own old cross again.
But oh ! how different did it seem to be
Now I had learned its preciousness to see !
No longer could I unbelieving say,
Perhaps another is a better way.
Ah no ! henceforth my own desire shall be,
That He who knows me best should choose for me,
And so, whate'er His love sees good to send,
I'll trust it's best, because He knows the end.
BY MRS. C. F. ALEXANDER.
Y Nebo's lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan's wave,
In a vale in the land of Moab,
There lies a lonely grave;
And no man dug that sepulchre,
And no man saw it e'er,
For the " Sons of God " upturned the sod,
And laid the dead man there.
That was the grandest funeral
That ever passed on earth;
But no man heard the trampling,
Or saw the train go forth.
Noiselessly as the day-light
Comes when the night is done,
And the crimson streak on ocean's cheek
Grows into the great sun
Noiselessly as the spring-time
Her crown of verdure weaves
And all the trees on all the hills
Open their thousand leaves;
So, without sound of music,
Or voice of them that wept,
Silently down from the mountain's crown
The great procession swept.
THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
Perchance the bald old eagle,
' On gray Beth-peor's height,
Out of his rocky eyry
Looked on the wondrous sight;
Perchance the lion striking
Still shuns that hallowed spot:
For beast and bird have seen and heard
That which man knoweth not.
But when the warrior dieth,
His comrades in the war,
With arms reversed, and muffled drum,
Follow the funeral car.
They show the banners taken,
They tell his battles won,
And after him lead his masterless steed,
While peals the minute-gun.
Amid the noblest of the land
Men lay the sage to rest,
And give the bard an honored place,
With costly marble drest
In the great minster transept,
Where lights like glories fall,
And the sweet choir sings, and the organ rings
Along the emblazoned wall.
This was the bravest warrior
That ever buckled sword;
This, the most gifted poet
That ever breathed a word;
THE BURIAL OF MOSES. 93
And never earth's philosopher
Traced with his golden pen,
On the deathless page, truths half so sage
As he wrote down for men.
And had he not high honor?
The hill-side for his pall,
To lie in state while angels wait,
With stars for tapers tall
And the dark rock-pines like tossing plumes
Over his bier to wave,
And God's own hand, in that lonely land,
To lay him in the grave !
In that deep grave without a name,
Whence his uncoffined clay
Shall break again most wondrous thought
Before the Judgment day,
And stand, with glory wrapped around,
On the hills he never trod,
And speak of the strife that won our life
With the Incarnate Son of God.
O lonely tomb in Moab's land !
O dark Beth-peor hill !
Speak to these curious hearts of ours,
And teach them to be still.
God hath His mysteries of grace,
Ways that we cannot tell;
And hides them deep, like the Secret sleep
Of him He loved so well.
BY SIR WALTER SCOTT.
HERE shall the lover rest,
Whom the Fates sever,
From his true maiden's breast
Parted for ever ?
Where, through groves deep and high
Sounds the far billow,
Where early violets die,
Under the willow.
There through the summer day,
Cool streams are laving;
There, while the tempests sway,
Scarce are boughs waving;
There, thy rest shalt thou take,
Parted for ever,
Never again to wake,
Never, O never.
Where shall the traitor rest,
He, the deceiver,
Who could win maiden's breast,
Ruin, and leave her ?
nere through the summer day,
Cool streams are laving. "
In the lost battle,
Borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war's rattles
With groans of the dying.
Her wing shall the eagle flap
O'er the false-hearted;
His warm blood the wolf shall lap,
Ere life be parted.
Shame and dishonor sit
By his grave ever;
Blessing shall hallow it,
' Never, O never.
Y goddess romped at school,
Fetched April's boldest violet;
Her crown was her brown hair
With diamonds of its own gloss set.
I envied not the Greek;
Callisto, lo, Proserpine,
From all their ills were saved
Had Reus and Dis her beauty seen.
Fine dames forgot their airs,
And when her step led through the mart
Traffic forebore its greed;
Yet slmpleness was all her art.
For beauty use her rule,
Her language, tone, and gentle ways;
Her grace showed best in tasks
She loved; and peace filled all the days.
A maid, when last we met,
A woman's form is now her earthly dress;
O Time and World, I pray,
Ye have not changed her simpleness !
BY CAROLINE E. NORTON.
HEN first thou earnest, gently, shy, and fond,
My eldest born, first hope, and dearest
My heart received thee with a joy beyond
All that it yet had felt of earthly pleasure;
Nor thought that any love again might be
So deep and strong as that I felt for thee.
Faithful and true, with sense beyond thy years,
And natural piety that leaned to heaven;
Wrung by a harsh word suddenly to tears,
Yet patient to rebuke when justly given;
Obedient, easy to be reconciled,
And meekly cheerful; such wert thou, my child !
Not willing to be left still by my side,
Haunting my walks,, while summer-day was dying;
Nor leaving in thy turn, but pleased to glide
Through the dark room where I was sadly lying;
Or by the couch of pain, a sitter meek,
Watch the dim eye, and kiss the fevered cheek.
9 3 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
O boy ! of such as thou are oftenest made
Earth's fragile idols; like a tender flower,
No strength in all thy freshness, prone to fade,
And bending weakly to the thunder-shower;
Still, round the loved, thy heart found force to bind,
And clung, like woodbine shaken in the wind !
Then THOU, my merry love, bold in thy glee,
Under the bough, or by the firelight dancing,
With thy sweet temper, and thy spirit free,
Didst come, as restless as a bird's wing glancing,
Full of a wild and irrepressible mirth,
Like a young sunbeam to the gladdened earth !
Thine was the shout, the song, the burst of joy,
Which sweet from childhood's rosy lip resoundeth;
Thine was the eager spirit naught could cloy,
And the glad heart from which all grief reboundeth;
And many a mirthful jest and mock reply
Lurked in the laughter of thy dark-blue eye.
And thine was many an art to win and bless,
The cold and stern to joy and fondness warming;
The coaxing smile, the frequent soft caress,
The earnest, tearful prayer all wrath disarming !
Again my heart a new affection found,
But thought that love with thee had reached its bound.
At length THOU earnest, thou, the last and least,
Nicknamed "the Emperor" by thy laughing brothers,
Because a haughty spirit swelled thy breast,
And thou didst seek to rule and sway the others,
Mingling with every playful infant wile
A mimic majesty that made us smile.
THE MOTHER'S HEART. 99
And O, most like a regal child wert thou !
An eye of resolute and successful scheming !
Fair shoulders, curling lips, and dauntless brow,
Fit for the world's strife, not for poet's dreaming;
And proud the lifting of thy stately head,
And the firm bearing of thy conscious tread.
Different from both ! yet each succeeding claim
I, that all other love had been forswearing,
Forthwith admitted, equal and the same;
Nor injured either by this love's comparing,
Nor stole a fraction for the newer call,
But in the mother's heart found room for all !
BY WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY.
INHERE were three sailors of Bristol City
Who took a boat and went to sea,
But first with beef and captain's biscuits
And pickled pork they loaded she.
There was gorging Jack, and guzzling Jimmy,
And the youngest he was little Billee;
Now when they 'd got as far as the Equator
They 'd nothing left but one split pea.
Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
" I am extremely hungaree."
To gorging Jack says guzzling Jimmy,
" We 've nothing left, us must eat we."
Says gorging Jack to guzzling Jimmy,
"With one another we should n't -agree !
There 's little Bill, he 's young and tender,
We 're old and tough, so let 's eat he."
"O Billy ! we 're going to kill and eat you,
So undo the button of your chemie."
When Bill received this information,
He used his pocket-handkerchie.
LITTLE BILLEE. IOI
" First let me say my catechism
Which my poor mother taught to me."
" Make haste ! make haste ! " says guzzling Jimmy,
While Jack pulled out his snickersnee.
Billy went up the main-top-gallant mast,
And down he fell on his bended knee,
He scarce had come to the Twelfth Commandment
When he jumps up "There 's land I see ! "
" Jerusalem and Madagascar
And North and South Amerikee,
There 's the 'British flag a-riding at anchor,
With Admiral Napier, K. C. B."
So when they got aboard of the Admiral's,
He hanged fat Jack and flogged Jimmee,
But as for little Bill he made him
The Captain of a Seventy-three.
BY J. T. TROWBRIDGE.
E are two travelers, Roger and I.
Roger's my dog: come here, you scamp !
Jump for the gentlemen, mind your eye !
Over the table, look out for the lamp ! -
The rogue is growing a little old;
Five years we've tramped through wind and
And slept out-doors when nights were cold,
And ate and drank and starved together.
We've learned what comfort is, I tell you !
A bed on the floor, a bit of rosin,
A fire to thaw our thumbs, (poor fellow !
The paw he holds up there's been frozen,)
Plenty of catgut for my fiddle,
(This out-door business is bad for strings,)
Then a few nice buckwheats hot from the griddle,
And Roger and I set up for kings !
No, thank ye, sir, I never drink;
Roger and I are exceedingly moral,
Aren't we, Roger ? see him wink !
Well, something hot, then, we won't quarrel.
He's thirsty, too, see him nod his head ?
What a pity, sir, that dogs can't talk !
He understands every word that's said,
And he knows good milk from water-and-chalk.
THE VAGABONDS. IO3
The truth is, sir, now I reflect,
I've been so sadly given to grog,
I wonder I've not lost the respect
(Here's to you, sir!) even of my dog.
But he sticks by, through thick and thin;
And this old coat, with its empty pockets,
And rags that smell of tobacco and gin,
He'll follow while he has eyes in his sockets.
There isn't another creature living
Would do it, and prove, through every disaster,
So fond, so faithful, and so forgiving,
To such a miserable, thankless master !
No, sir! see him wag his tail and grin !
By George ! it makes my old eyes water !
That is, there's something in this gin
That chokes a fellow. But no matter !
We'll have some music, if you're willing,
And Roger (hem! what a plague a cough is, sir!)
Shall march a little. Start, you villain !
Stand straight ! 'Bout face ! Salute your officer !
Put up that paw ! Dress ! Take your rifle !
(Some dogs have arms, you see!) Now hold your
Cap while the gentlemen give a trifle,
To aid a poor old patriot soldier !
March ! Halt ! Now show how the rebel shakes,
When he stands up to hear his sentence.
Now tell us how many drams it takes
To honor a jolly new acquaintance.
Five yelps, that's five; he's mighty knowing !
The night'f before us, fill the glasses !
Quick, sir ! I'm ill, my brain is going !
Some brandy ! thank you ! there ! it passes !
I0 4 THE CASKET OF POETICAL GEMS.
Why not reform ? That's easily said;
But I've gone through such wretched treatment,
Sometimes forgetting the taste of bread,
And scarce remembering what meat meant,
That my poor stomach's past reform;
And there are times when, mad with thinking,
I'd sell out heaven for something warm
To prop a horrible inward sinking.
Is there a way to forget to think ?
At your age, sir, home, fortune, friends,
A dear girl's love, but I took to drink;
The same old story; you know how it ends.
If you could have seen these classic features,
You needn't laugh, sir; they were not then
Such a burning libel on God's creatures:
I was one of your handsome men !
If you had seen her, so fair and young,
Whose head was happy on this breast !
If you could have heard the songs I sung
When the wine went round, you wouldn't have guessed
That ever I, sir, should be straying
From door to door, with fiddle and dog,
Ragged and penniless, and playing
To you to-night for a glass of grog !
She's married since, a parson's wife :
'Twas better for her that we should part,
Better the soberest, prosiest life
Than a blasted home and a broken heart.
I have seen her ? Once : I was weak and spent
On the dusty road, a carriage stopped :
But little she dreamed, as on she went,
Who kissed the coin that her fingers dropped !
THE VAGABONDS. 105
You've set me talking, sir ; I'm sorry ;
It makes me wild to think of the change !
What do you care for a beggar's story ?
Is it amusing ? you find it strange.
I had a mother so proud of me !
'Twas well she died before Do you know
If the happy spirits in heaven can see
The ruin and wretchedness here below ?
Another glass, and strong, to deaden
This pain; then Roger and I will start
I wonder, has he such a lumpish, leaden,
Aching thing, in place of a heart?
He is sad sometimes, and would weep, if he could,
No doubt, remembering things that were,
A virtuous kennel, with plenty of food,
And himself a sober, respectable cur.
I'm better now; that glass was warming,
You rascal ! limber your lazy feet !
We must be fiddling and performing
For supper and bed, or starve in the street.
Not a very gay life to lead, you think ?
But soon we shall go where lodgings are free,
And the sleepers need neither victuals nor drink;
The sooner, the better for Roger and me !
BY EDWARD POLLOCK.
[The following exquisite poem was written by the late Edward Pollock,
the gifted Californian poet, on the 6th January, 1857, and has never been
published. It was given by the poet to a friend who was about to depart
on a steamer for Oregon, Pollock saying, "Take this; you may perhaps
read and appreciate the sentiment long after I have ceased to be among
HERE'S something in the "parting hour"
Will chill the warmest heart
Yet kindred, comrades, lovers, friends,
Are fated all to part;
But this I've seen and many a page
Has pressed it on my mind
The one who goes is happier
Than those he leaves behind.
No matter what the journey be,
Adventurous, dangerous, far,
To the wild deep or black frontier,
To solitude or war
Still something cheers the heart that dares
In all of human kind,
And they who go are happier
Than those they leave behind.
THE PARTING HOUR. 107
The bride goes to the bridegroom's home
With doublings and with tears.
But does not hope her rainbow spread
Across her cloudy fears ?
Alas ! the mother who remains,
What comfort can she find,
But this the gone is happier
Than one she leaves behind.
Have you a friend a comrade dear
An old and valued friend ?
Be sure your term of sweet concourse
At length will have an end.
And when you part as part you will
O take it not unkind
If he who goes is happier
Than you he leaves behind!
God wills it so and so it is;
The pilgrims on their way,
Though weak and worn, more cheerful are
Than all the rest who stay;
And when, at last, poor man, subdued,
Lies down to death resigned,
May he not still be happier far
Than those he leaves behind ?
FROM THE "BRIDE OF ABYDOS.
NOW ye the land where the cypress and myrtle
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their
Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the
Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime?
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine:
Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppressed with perfume,
Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gul in her bloom !
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute,