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Of dying for his country.--Come, my son,
Her softness will infect thee; proythee, leave her.
Horatia. [Looking first on her father, and then tenderly
on her brother. ] Not 'till my soul has pour'd
its wishes for him. Hear me, dread god of war, protect and save him!
[Kneeling. For thee, and thy immortal Rome, he fights i Dash the proud spear from every hostile hand That dare oppose him; may each Alban chief Fly from his presence, or his vengeance feel! And when in triumph he returns to Rome, [Rising Hail him, ye maids, with grateful songs of praise, And scatter all the blooming spring before him ; Curs'd be the envious brow that smiles not then, Curs'd be the wretch that wears one mark of sorrow, Or flies not thus with open arms to greet him.
Enter TULLUS HOSTILIUS, VALERIUS, and Guards.
Valerius. The king, my lord, approaches.
Horatius. Gracious sir,
Whence comes this condescension?
Tullus. Good old inan;
Could I have found a nobler messenger,
I would have spar'd myself th’ungrateful task
Of this day's embassy, for much I fear
My news will want a welcome.
Horatius. Mighty king!
Forgive an old man's warmth- - They have not sure
Made choice of other combatants !--My sons,
Must they not fight for Rome?
Tullus. Too sure they must.
Horatius. Then I am blest !
Tullus. But that they must engage
Will hurt thee most, when thou shalt know with
whom. Horatius. I are not whom.
Tullus. Suppose your nearest friends, The Curiatii, were the Alban choice, Could you bear that? Could you, young man, support A conflict there?
Pub. I could perform my duty, Great sir, though even a brother should oppose me, Tullus. Thou art a Roman! Let thy king embrace
thee. Horatius. And let thy father catch thee from his
Tullus. [To Publius.] Know then, that trial must
be thine. The Albans With envy saw one family produce Three chiefs, to whom their country dared entrust The Roman cause, and scorn'd to be outdone.
Horatia. Then I am lost indeed; was it for this, For this, I pray'd !
[Swoons. Pub. My sister! Valeria. My Horatia! Oh, support her!
Horatius. On, foolish girl, to share thy father thus ! Here, bear her in.
[Horatia is carried in, Valerius and Valeria follow.
I am concern'd, my sovereign,
That even the meanest part of me should blast
With impious grief a cause of so much glory.
But let the virtue of my boy excuse it.
Tullus. It does most amply. She has cause for
The shock was sudden, and might well alarm A firmer bosom. 66 The weak sex demand “ Our pity, not our anger; their soft breasts “ Are nearer touch’d, and more expos’d to sorrows " Than man's experter sense.
Nor let us blame “ That tenderness which smooths our rougher na
" And softens all the joys of social life.”
We leave her to her tears. For you, young soldier,
You must prepare for combat. Some few hours
Are all that are allow'd you. But I charge you
Try well your heart, and strengthen every thought
Of patriot in you. Think how dreadful 'is
To plant a dagger in the breast you love ;
To spurn the ties of nature, and forget
In one short hour whole years of virtuous friendship.
Think well on that.
Pub, I do, my gracious sovereign;
And think the more I dare subdue affection,
The more my glory.
Tullus. True; but yet consider,
Is it an easy task to change affections?
In the dread onset can your meeting eyes
Forget their usual intercourse, and wear
At once the frown of war, and stern defiance ?
Will not each look recall the fond remembrance
Of childhood past, when the whole open soul
Breath'd cordial love, and plighted many a vow
Of tend'rest iniport? Think on that, young soldier,
And tell me if thy breast be still unmov'd ?
Pub. Think not, oh, king, howe'er resolv'd on
I sit so loosely to the bonds of nature,
As not to feel their force. I feel it strongly.
I love the Curiatii, and would serve them
At life's expence : but here a nobler cause
Demands my sword : for all connections else,
All private duties are subordinate
To what we owe the public. Partial ties
Of son and father, husband, friend or brother,
Owe their enjoyments to the public safety,
And without that were vain.--Nor need we, sir,
Cast off humanity, and to be heroes
Cease to be men. As in our earliest days,
While yet we learn'd the exercise of war,
We strove together, not as enemies,
Yet conscious each of his peculiar worth,
And scorning each to yield; so will we now
Engage with ardent, not with hostile minds,
Not fir'd with rage, but emulous of fame.
Tullus. Now I dare trust thee; go and teach thy
brothers To think like thee, and conquest is your own. This is true courage, not the brutal force
Of vulgar heroes, but the firm resolve
Of virtue and of reason. He who thinks
Without their aid to shine in deeds of arms,
Builds on a sandy basis his renown;
A dream, a vapour, or an ague fit
May make a coward of him.-Come, Horatius,
Thy other sons shall meet thee at the camp,
For now I do bethink me, 'tis not fit
They should behold their sister thus alarm’d.
Haste, soldier, and detain them. [To cne of the guards.
Horatius. Gracious sir,
We'll follow on the instant.
Tullus. Then farewell.
When next we meet, 'tis Rome and liberty!
[Exit with guards. Horatius. Come, let me arm thee for the glorious
toil. I have a sword, whose lightning oft has blaz'd Dreadfully fatal to my country's foes ; Whose temper'd edge has cleft their haughty crests, And stain'd with life-blood many a reeking plain. This shalt thou bear; myself will gird it on, And lead thee forth to death or victory. [Going.
And yet, my Publius, shall I own my weakness;
Though I detest the cause from whence they spring,
I feel thy sister's sorrows like a father.
She was my soul's delight.
Pub. And may remain so.
This sudden shock has but alarm’d her virtue,
Not quite subdued its force. At least, my father,