« EelmineJätka »
leave to say to you, O best of men, that I cannot figure to myself a greater happiness than in such an employment. To be present at all the adventures to which human life is exposed, to administer slumber to thy eye-lids in the agonies of a fever, to cover thy beloved face in the day of battle, to be with thee a guardian angel, incapable of wound or pain, where I have longed to attend thee when a weak a fearful woman. These, my dear, are the thoughts with which I warm my poor languid heart; but indeed, I am not capable under my present weakness of bearing the strong agonies of mind I fall into, when I form to myself the grief you will be in upon your first hearing of my departure. I will not dwell upon this ; because your kind and generous heart will but be more afflicted, the more the person for whom you lament offers you consolation. My last breath will, if I am inyself, expire in a prayer for you. I shall never see thy face again. Farewell, for
From the Spectator.
ROME SAVED BY THE VIRTUE OF ITS FEMALE
INHABITANTS. CORIOLANUS was a distinguished Roman senator and general, who had rendered eminent services to the republic. He was at length treated with great severity and ingratitude, by the senate and people of Rome; and obliged to leave his country to preserve his life. Of a haughty and indignant spirit, he resolved to avenge himself; and, with this view, applied to the Volscians, the enemies of Rome, and tendered them his services against his native country. The offer was cordially embraced, and Coriolanus was made general of the Volscian army. He recovered from the Romans all the towns they had taken from the Volsci ; carried by assault several cities in Latium; and led his troops within five miles of the city of Rome. After several unsuccessful embassies from the senate, all hope of pacifying the injured exile appeared to be extinguished; and the sole business at Rome was to prepare, with the utmost diligence, for sustain. ing a siege. The young and able-bodied men had instantly the guard of the gates and trenches assigned to them ; while those of the veterans, who, though exempt by their age from bearing arms, were yet capable of service, undertook the des fence of the ramparts. The women, in the mean while, terrified by these movements, and the impending danger, into a neglect of their wonted decorum, ran tumultuously from their houses to the temples. Every sanctuary, and especially the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, resounded with the wailings and loud supplications of women, prostrate before the statues of their divinities. In this general consternation and distress, Valeria, (sister of the famous Valerius Poplicola,) as if moved by a divine impulse, suddenly took her stand upon the top of the steps of the temple of Jupiter, assembled the women about her, and having first exhorted them not to be terrified by the greatness of the present danger, confidently declared, " That there was yet hope for the re
public; that its preservation depended upon them, and upon their performance of the duty they owed their country.'— Alas !' cried out one of the company, 'what resource can there be in the weakness of wretched women, when our bravest men, our ablest warriors themselves despair ?• It is not by the sword, nor by strength of arm, replied Valeria,' that we are to prevail; these belong not to our sex. Soft moving words must be our weapons and our force. Let us all, in our mourning attire, and accompanied by our chil. dren, go and intreat Veturia, the mother of Coriolanus, to intercede with her son for our common country. Veturia's prayers will bend his soul to pity. Haughty and implacable as he has hitherto appeared, he has not a heart so cruel and obdurate, as not to relent, when he shall see his mother, bis revered, his beloved mother, a weeping suppliant at his feet.''
This motion being universally applauded, the whole train of women took their way to Veturia's house. Her son's wife, Volumnia, who was sitting with her when they arrived, and greatly surprised at their coming, hastily asked them the meaning of so extraordinary an appearance. "What is it,' said she; "what can be the motive, that has brought such a numerous company of visitors to this house of sorrow?
Valeria then addressed herself to the mother : It is to you, Veturia, that these women have recourse in the extreme peril with which they and their children are threatened. They intreat, implore, conjure you to compassionate their distress,
and the distress of our common country. Suffer not Rome to become a prey to the Volsci, and our enemies to triumph over our liberty. Go to the camp of Coriolanus : take with you Volumnia and her two sons : let that excellent wife join her intercession to yours. Permit these women, with their children, to accompany you: they will all cast themselves at his feet. O Veturia, conjure him to grant peace to his fellow-citizens. Cease not to beg till you have obtained. So good a man can never withstand your tears : our only hope is in you. Come then, Veturia ; the danger presses ; you have no time for deliberation; the enterprise is worthy of your virtue; Heaven will crown it with success; Rome shall once more owe its preservation to our sex. You will justly acquire to yourself an immortal fame, and have the pleasure to make every one of us a sharer in your glory.'
Veturia, after a short silence, with tears in her eyes, answered : ' Weak indeed is the foundation of your hope, Valeria, when you place it in the aid of two miserable women. We are not wanting in affection to our country, nor need we any remonstrance or intreaties to excite our zeal for its preservation. It is the power only of being serviceable that fails us. Ever since that unfortunate hour, when the people in their madness so unjustly banished Coriolanus, his heart has been no less estranged from his family than from his country. You will be convinced of this sad truth by his own words to us at parting. When he returned home from the assembly, where he had been condemned, be found us in the depth of affliction,
bewailing the miseries that were sure to follow our being deprived of so dear a son, and so excellent a husband. We had his children upon our knees. He kept himself at a distance from us; and, when he had a while stood silent, motionless as a rock, his eyes fixed, and without shedding a tear;" It is done,” he said.—“O mother, and thou Volumnia, the best of wives, to you Marcius is no
I am banished hence for my affection to my country, and the services I have done it. I go this instant; and I leave for ever a city, where all good men are proscribed. Support this blow of fortune with the magnanimity that becomes women of your rank and virtue. I commend my children to your care. Educate them in a manner worthy of you, and of the race from which they come. Heaven grant, they may be more fortunate than their father, and never fall short of him in virtue ; and may you in them find your consolation !-Farewell."
• We started up at the sound of this word, and with loud cries of lamention ran to him to receive his last embraces. I led his elder son by the hand, Volumnia had the younger in her arms. He turned his eyes from us, and putting us back with his hand, “Mother,” said he, “ from this moment you have no son: our country has taken from you the stay of your old age.-Nor to you, Volumnia, will Marcius be henceforth a husband; mayest thou be happy with another, more fortunate! My dear children, you have lost your father."
He said no more, but instantly broke away from us. He departed from Rome without set