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Again th' alarm was given, and now they seem'd
Preparing to engage, when once again
They hung their drooping heads, and inward mourn'd;
Then nearer drew, and at the third alarm,
Casting their swords and useless shields aside,
Rush d to each other's arms.
Horatius. 'Twas so, just so,
(Tho' I was then a child, yet I have heard
My mother weeping oft relate the story)
Sort pity touch'd the breasts of mighty chiefs,
Romans and Sabines, when the matrons rush'd
Between their meeting armies, and oppos'd
Their helpless infants, and their heaving breasts
To their advancing swords, and bade them there
Sheath all their vengeance.-But I interrupt you
Proceed, Valerius, they would hear th'event.
- And yet, methinks, the Albans--pray go on.
Valerius. Our King Hostilius from a rising mound
Beheld the tender interview, and join'd
His friendly tears with theirs; then swift advanc'd,
Ev'n to the thickest press, and cried, My friends,
If thus we love, why are we enemies ?
Shall stern ambition, rivalship of power,
Subdue the soft humanity within us?
Are we not join'd by every tie of kindred?
And can we find no method to compose
These jars of honour, these nice principles
Of virtue, which infest the noblest mind?
Horatius. There spoke his country's father! this
The flight of earth-born kings, whose low ambition
But tends to lay the face of nature waste,
And blast creation! - How was it receiv'd?
Valerius. As he himself could wish, with eager
In short, the Roman and the Alban chiefs
In council have determind, that since glory
Must have her victims, and each rival state,
Aspiring to dominion, scorns to yield,
From either army shall be chose three champions
To fight the cause alone, and whate'er state
Shall prove superior, there acknowledg’d power
Shall fix th' imperial seat, and both unite
Beneath one common head.
Horatia. Kind Heaven, I thank thee! Bless'd be the friendly grief that touch'd their souls ! « Bless'd be Hustilius for the generous counsel! • Bless'd be the meeting chiefs!"and bless'd the tongue, Which brings the gentle tidings !
Valeria. Now, Horatia,
Your idle fears are o'er.
Horatia. Yet one remains.
Who are the champions? Are they yet elected ?
Valerius. The Roman chiefs now meet in council,
And ask the presence of the sage Horatius.
Horatius. [ After having seemed some time in thought.]
But still, methinks, I like not this, to trust The Roman cause to such a slender hazard Three combatants!’is dangerous
Horatia. [In a fright.] My father!
Horatius. I might, perhaps, prevent
Horatia. Do not, sir,
Oppose the kind decree.
Valerius. Rest satisfied Sweet lady, 'tis so solemnly agreed to, Not even Horatius's advice can shake it. Horatius. And yet 'twere well to end these civil
broils : The neighb’ring states might take advantage of them. -Would I were young again! How glorious Were death in such a causel-And yet, who knows Some of my boys may be selected for itPerhaps may conquer
-Grant me that, kind godis, And close my eyes in transport |--Come, Valerius, I'll but dispatch some necessary orders, And strait attend thee.Daughter, if thou lov'st Thy brothers, let thy prayers be pour'd to Heav'n, That one at least may share the glorious task. [Exito Valerius. Rome cannot trust her cause to worthier
hands. They bade me greet you, Lady.
[To Horatia. “ Well, Valeria, " This is your home, I find: your lovely friend, “ And you, I doubt not, have indulg'd strange fears, " And run o'er all the horrid scenes of war. " Valeria. Though we are women, brother, we are
Romans, “ Not to be scar'd with shadows, though not proof "'Gainst all alarnis, when real danger threatens.”
Horatia. [With some hesitation.] My brothers, gen.
tle sir, you said were well. Saw you
their noble friends, the Curiatii? The truce, perhaps, permitted it.
Valerius. Yes, Lady,
I left them jocund in your brothers' tent,
Like friends, whom envious storms awhile had parted,
Joying to meet again.
Horatia. Sent they no message ?
Valerius. None, fair-one, but such general saluta.
As friends would bring unbid.
Horatia. Said Caius nothing ?
Horatia. Ay, Caius; did he mention me?
Valerius. 'Twas slightly, if he did, and 'scapes
O yes, I do remember, when your brother Ask'd him, in jest, if he had ought to send, “ A sigh's soft waftage, or the tender token “ Of tresses breeding to fantastic forms,” To south a love-sick maid (your pardon, lady) He smil'd, and cry'd, Glory's the soldier's mistress. Horatia. Sir, you'll excuse me-something of im
portanceMy father may have business- Oh, Valeria!
[ Aside to Valeria. Talk to thy brother, know the fatal truth I dread to hear, and let me learn to die, If Curiatius has indeed forgot me.
Valerius. She seems disorder'd!
Valeria. Has she not cause? Can you
administer the baneful potion, And wonder at th' effect?
Valerius. You talk in riddles !
Valeria. They're riddles, brother, which your
Though you affect surprise. Was Curiatius
Indeed so cold? Poor shallow artifice,
The trick of hopeless love! I saw it plainly.
Yet what could you propose ? An hour's uneasiness
To poor Horatia; for be sure by that time
She sees him, and your deep-wrought schemes are air,
Valerius. What could I do? this peace has ruin'd
While war continued, I had gleams of hope;
Some lucky chance might rid me of my rival,
And time efface his image in her breast.
Valeria. Yes, now you must resolve to follow
Th' advice I gave you first, and root this passion
Entirely from your heart; for know, she dotes,
Ev'n to distraction dotes on Curiatius;
And every fear she felt, while danger threaten'd,
Will now endear him more.
Valerius. Cruel Valeria,
You triumph in my pain I
Valeria. By Heaven, I do not;
I only would extirpate every thought
Which gives you pain, nor leave one foolish wislı