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Pierced through the heart. Nor only rumour bears
The impious tale to these afflicted ears ;
But oft, when slumber binds my weary limbs,
Before mine eyes his mangled image swims ;
Startled I hear his ghost lament and weep,
And Helle's spirit rouse me from the deep.
This frame is stiff with age ; I else had stood
Ere now the avenger of our kinsman's blood;
But tardy creeps the current in my veins,
Nor yet my son his manly prime attains.
Go then, our champion : go, adventurous prince ;
Thy worth in counsel as in arms evince.
Be thine the Nephelæan fleece to bring
To Græcia home ; nor spare the caitiff king."
He ended thus ; and, though the words were bland,
Seem'd less to sue for succour than command.
Nor spake he of the dragon, that debarr'd
Approaches to the fleece with scaly guard ;
He, who obey'd the royal virgin's hest,
Rollid forth his burnish'd folds and flamy breast,
On her strange notes, suspense and quivering, hung,
And lapp'd her venom'd treat with many-forked tongue.
The deadly wiles the stripling soon discern'd ;
His inmost soul with proud impatience burn'd.
Oh ! for such wings as up th' aërial height
Led the young Perseus ; or a dragon flight,
Like his, who first the stubborn furrow broke,
And for the golden harvest changed the oak.
“ Thus,” he exclaim'd,“ might I to Colchis far
Speed my safe course, and end the fated war !"
What shall he do ? the multitude provoke,
Already grudging at the tyrant's yoke,
And pitying his father's helpless age,
At once to rise and in his cause engage ?
Or shall he face the perils, sure of aid
From favouring Juno and the blue-eyed maid
Thou, Glory, winn’st the day. He sees thee stand
Green in immortal youth on Phasis' strand,
And beckon to her shores with radiant hand.
The bright award Religion ratifies,
Stills every doubt, and points him to the skies.
Then stretching forth his arms,
“Great Queen of Heaven,” he cries, “ whom, when the cloud
Pour'd down from Jove a desolating storm,
Had from its basis swept thy hallow'd form,
Secure to land across Euripus' tide
I bore ; and dash'd the surging wave aside ;
Nor knew thee, goddess, till aloft thy frame
By thy great spouse was rapt in lightning-flame ;
Then, struck with shuddering horror, awed I stood
O, grant me now to reach the Scythian flood.
And thou, unblemish'd maid, thy succour lend ;
So on thy rafters shall these hands suspend
The fleecy spoils ; the gilded horns, my sire
Will drag along toward thy sacred pyre;
And, gay with fillets and with chaplets crown'd,
The snow-white herds shall low thine altars round.”
Each goddess hears; and by a different way,
Swift gliding downward, leaves the realms of day.
Minerva hastens to the Thespian walls ;
There on her favourite Argus straight she calls ;
Bids him the bark prepare, the forest fell ;
Herself his leader to the woody dell.
Through towers Macetian, to her loved abode
Of Argos, Juno speeds ; and spreads abroad
Great Æson's son, resolved with ready sail
To court as yet untried the southern gale;
The galley moor’d, and proudly from her stern
Shouting to haste aboard and deathless glory earn.
All, raptured, own the summons; all, who claim
By service past the just reward of fame,
Or hope by feats of arms in future days
Their youthful name above the herd to raise :
Nor those unmoved, whom rural labours hold,
Who break the furrow or who watch the fold ;
Them the glad Fauns invite, and Dryad powers
That curl the tendrils of the sylvan bowers :
“ The gallant ship,” they sing, “ in glory dight,
With all her colours streams before their sight.”
The jocund rivers, rushing to the main,
Lift high their horns, and echo back the strain.
First in her streets the Inachian city sees
With quicken'd step Tirynthian Hercules :
Him Hylas follows : easily he bore
The Hero's bow and shafts, a venom'd store,
Proud of the freight : the club he fain had grasp’d,
But scarce his hand the unwieldy weapon clasp'd.
Accustom'd fury kindles in the breast
Of Juno, when she spies the unwelcome guest :
“ Oh that this novel labour did not ask
The flower of Græcia's youth : were this a task
Set by Eurystheus, then mine eager hand
Had snatch'd the unwilling thunderer's levin-brand ;
With storm and darkness and sequacious fire,
Already had I wreak’d my vengeful ire.
Ill can I brook this partner of our way ;
Or owe to him our glory on the sea.
Such shame be spared me.
Never be it said
That to Alcides Juno stoop'd for aid."
She spoke; and on Hæmonia turn'd her view.
There swarm'd along the coast th' impatient crew. The forest strews the shore : the woods resound, Smit by the glittering axe, and, crashing, nod around. The oars are shaped. The Thespian artist frames The yielding rafters in the tardy flames. With polished adze the pine another splits ; One, plank to plank, with art ingenious, fits. Minerva, from the main-mast bends the bow, Whence bellying ere long the snowy sail shall flow.
Soon as the subtle wax has closed the sides
Of the tall bark impervious to the tides,
Sweet picture's toil its pleasing aid bestows;
Swells the bold line ; the magic colour glows.
A dolphin rides with Thetis on the waves ;
Her ivory foot the salt-green billow laves ;
Reluctantly to Peleus' chambers led,
She sits ; the veil drawn low before her head ;
Seeming as if she scorn’d a mortal's love,
Nor patient of a son less great than Jove.
Doto and Panope; the sister-train
Of Nereids ; and delighting in the main,
Fair Galathea follows : on a steep
The Cyclops stands and calls her from the deep.
Next in a coral cave of ocean, spread
With verd’rous leaf, appears the nuptial bed ;
Reclining midst the sovereigns of the seas
By his throned bride the great Æacides ;
With wines and banquet the full table prest ;
And Chiron's mellow harp to crown the feast.
Elsewhere the dread dissension might'st thou see
Betwixt the two-fold race and Lapithæ.
The guests the shining altars overthrew ;
Poised in mid air the board and goblets flew.
Here Pholoe stood : there Rhætus mad with wine :
Here Æson's sword and Peleus' javelin shine.
To August 24. Began Pindar in Greek, accompanying it with an Italian translation in verse by different hands, and read to the end of Olymp. ix. The Phænissæ and Medea of Euripides in Porson's edition; and the Supplices, and the two Iphigenias in Markland's, re-edited by Gaisford. Roderic, a tragic poem by Southey, excellent (as that writer often is) in the descriptions of natural objects.
30. Finished the Heraclidæ of Euripides in Elmsley's Edition. The economy of this play is no better than the rest by this poet. After Macaria's noble resolution we hear no more of her except in
two lines, 821 and 822. The fidelity of old Iolaus is very striking. The choruses have less of poetry than we usually meet with in Euripides. In treating a subject somewhat similar in the Suppliants, Æschylus has exhibited a specimen of the severity and dryness of his manner as contrasted with the luxuriant workmanship of the younger tragedian.
To September 26. Read the Hercules Furens of Euripides, one of the finest plays of this poet. Indeed I think he has nothing finer than the last scene between Theseus and Hercules. Began the Sermons of Bishop Bull, 8vo. edit., 1713. In the second he says on the text in St. Peter concerning the Spirits in Prison*, “How and when Christ preached to those spirits in prison, is not my business at present to inquire; but the text plainly enough affirms, that the spirits of those wicked men that were destroyed by the flood, were then in being and in prison too, that is, in the sad place of Judas, in the place and state of miserable souls, reserved as in a jail or dungeon to the future judgment and execution." Vol.i., p. 56. Towards the conclusion is this passage: "It is here, if anywhere, certain,” he has been proving that the soul of men subsists after death, “ that vox populi (or rather populorum) est vox Dei, the voice of all people and nations, howsoever distant in place, however otherwise differing in religion from each other, yet all here singing the same song, must needs