Sidor som bilder

Was it the strength of this tongue-valiant lord,
In that black hour, that sav'd you from the tword;
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 flight?
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 Nain;
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



confer So 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 glitt'ring 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 baste.
Add, that his own is yet a maiden-Thield,
Nor the least dint has suffer'd in the field,
Guildless of fight: mine batter’d, hew'd, and bor'd,
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 cast 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.

He said: a murmur from the multitude, Or somewhat like a ftifi'd shout, ensu'd : Till from his seat arose Laertes' son, Look'd down a while, and paus'd ere he begun; Then to th’expecting audience rais’d his look, And not without prepar'd attention spoke : Soft was his tone, and sober was his face ; Action his words, and words his action

grace. If heav'n, my lords, had heard our common

pray’r, These arms had caus'd no quarrel for an heir ; Still great Achilles had his own possess’d, And we with great Achilles had been bless’d. But fince hard fate, and heav'n's severe decree, Have ravish'd him away from you and me, (At this he figh’d, and wip'd his eyes,

and drew, Or seem'd to draw, some drops of kindly dew) Who better can succeed Achilles lost, Than he who gave Achilles to your host? This only I request, that neither he May gain, by being what he seems to be, A stupid thing, nor I may lose the prize, By having sense, which heav'n to him denies : Since, great or small, the talent I enjoy’d Was ever in the common cause employ'd:

Nor let my wit, and wonted eloquence,
Which often has been us'd in


defence And in my own, this only time be brought To bear against myself, and deem'd a fault. Make not a crime, where nature made it none; For ev'ry man may freely use his own, The feeds of long descended ancestors Are Hut by grace of imputation ours, Theirs in effect : but Gince he draws his line From Jove, and seems to plead a right divine; From Jove, like him, I claim my pedigree, And am descended in the same degree: My fire Laertes was Arcesius' heir, Arcesius was the son of Jupiter : No paricide, no banish'd man, is known


line: let him excuse his own. Hermes ennobles too my mother's side, By both my parents to the Gods ally'd ; But not because that on the female part My blood is better, dare I claim desert,


fire from paricide is free;
But judge by merit betwixt him and me:
The prize be to the best; provided yet,
That Ajax for a while his kin forget,
And his great fire, and greater


name, To fortify by them his feeble claim:

In all

Or that

Be kindred and relation laid aside,
And honor's cause by laws of honor try'd:
For if he plead proximity of blood,
That empty title is with ease withstood.
Peleus, the hero's fire, more nigh than he,
And Pyrrhus his undoubted progeny,
Inherit first these trophies of the field;
To Scyros, or to Phthia, send the shield:
And Teucer has an uncle's right; yet he
Waves his pretensions, nor contends with me.

Then, since the cause on pure desert is plac'd, Whence mall I take my rise, what reckon

I not presume on every act to dwell,
But take these few, in order as they fell.
Thetis, who knew the fates, apply'd hei

To keep Achilles in disguise from war;
And till the threatning influence were past,
A woman's habit on the hero cast:
All eyes were cozen'd by the borrow'd vest,
And Ajax (never wiser than the reft)
Found no Pelides there : at length I came
With proffer'd wares to this pretended dame;
She, not discover'd by her mien or voice,
Betray'd her manhood by her manly choice;

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