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Poor Palamede might wish, fo void of aid
Rather to have been left, than so to death betray’d.
The coward bore the man immortal spite,
Who sham'd him out of madness into fight:
Nor daring otherwise to vent his hate,
Accus'd him first of treason to the state ;
And then for proof produc'd the golden store
Himself had hidden in his tent before:
Thus of two champions he depriv'd our host,
By exile one, and one by treason lost.
Thus fights Ulyffes, thus his fame extends,
A formidable man, but to his friends :
Great, for what greatness is in words and found:
Ev'n faithful Nestor less in both is found :
But that he might without a rival reign,
He left his faithful Nestor on the plain ;
Forsook his friend ev’n at his utmost need,
Who tir'd and tardy, with his wounded steed,
Cry'd out for aid, and call’d him by his name;
But cowardise has neither ears nor shame :
Thus fled the good old man, bereft of aid,
And, for as much as lay in him, betray’d.
That this is not a fable forg’d by me,
Like one of his, an Ulyssean lye,
I vouch ev'n Diomede, who, tho' his friend,
Cannot that act excufe, much less defend :
He call'd him back aloud, and tax'd his fear;
And fure enough he heard, but durst not hear.
The Gods with equal eyes on mortals look ;
He justly was forsaken, who forfook:
Wanted that succour he refus'd to lend,
fellow such another friend :
No wonder, if he roar'd that all might hear,
His elocution was increas'd by fear :
I heard, I ran, I found him out of breath,
Pale, trembling, and half dead with fear of death.
Though he had judg’d himself by his own laws,
And stood condemn'd, I help'd the common
cause: With my broad buckler hid him from the foe; (Ev’n the shield trembled as he lay below ;) And from impending fate the coward freed: Good heav'n forgive me for so bad a deed ! If still he will persist, and urge
the strife, First let him give me back his forfeit life: Let him return to that opprobrious field; Again creep
my protecting shield: Let him lie wounded, let the foe be near, And let his quiv'ring heart confess his fear;
There put him in the very jaws of fate ;
And let him plead his cause in that estate:
And yet when snatch'd from death, when from
below My lifted shield I loos’d and let him go, Good heav'ns, how light he rose, with what a
bound He sprung from earth, forgetful of his wound: How fresh, how eager then his feet to ply ; Who had not strength to stand, had speed to fly!
Hector came on, and brought the Gods along; Fear seiz'd alike the feeble and the strong: Each Greek was an Ulysses ; such a dread Th’approach, and ev’n the found of Hector bred: Him, Aesh'd with laughter, and with conquest
: crown'd, I met; and over-turn'd him to the ground. When after, matchless as he deem'd in might, He challeng’d all our host to single fight, All eyes were fix'd on me: the lots were thrown; But for your champion I was with'd alone: Your vows were heard, we fought and neither yield; Yet I return'd unvanquish'd from the field. With Jove to friend th' infulting Trojan came, And menac'd us with force, our fleet with flame:
Was it the strength of this tongue-valiant lord,
In that black hour, that sav'd you from the sword;
Or was my breast expos'd alone, to brave
A thousand swords, a thousand ships to save ?
The hopes of your return! and can you yield,
For a fav'd fleet, less than a single shield ?
Think it no boast, O Grecians, if I deem
These arms want Ajax, more than Ajax them;
Or, I with them an equal honor share ;
They honor'd to be worn, and I to wear.
Will he compare my courage with his Dight?
As well he may compare the day with night.
Night is indeed the province of his reign:
Yet all his dark exploits no more contain
Than a spy taken, and a sleeper slain ;
A priest made pris’ner, Pallas made a prey:
But none of all these actions done by day :
Nor ought of these was done, and Diomede away.
If on such petty
confer Şo vast a prize, let each his portion share; Make a just dividend; and if not all, The greater part to Diomede will fall. But why for Ithacus such arms as those, Who naked and by night invades his foes ? The glittring helm by moonlight will proclaim The latent robber, and prevent his game:
Nor could he hold his tott'ring head upright
Beneath that motion, or sustain the weight;
Nor that right arm could toss the beamy lance;
Much less the left that ampler shield advance ;
Pond'rous with precious weight, and rough with
Of the round world in rising gold emboss’d.
That orb would ill become his hand to wield,
And look as for the gold he stole the shield;
Which should your error on the wretch bestow,
It would not frighten, but allure the foe:
Why asks he, what avails him not in fight,
And would but cumber and retard his flight,
In which his only excellence is plac'd ?
You give him death, that intercept his bafte.
Add, that his own is yet a maiden-Thield,
Nor the least dint has suffer'd in the field,
Guiltless of fight: mine batter'd, hew'd, and bord,
Worn out of service, must forsake his lord.
What farther need of words our right to scan ?
My arguments are deeds, let action speak the man.
Since from a champion's arms the strife arose,
So çast the glorious prize amid the foes ;
Then send us to redeem both arms and shield,
And let him wear who wins 'em in the field,