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APPIUS CLAUDIUS, a leading decemvir in Rome, had formed the design of securing the person of the beautiful Virginia, daughter of Virginius; but finding her betrothed to another, he incited a base dependant to claim her as his slave. As had been concerted, Virginia was brought before the tribunal of Appius himself, who ordered her to be surrendered to the claimant. It was then that the distracted father, having no other means of saving his daughter, stabbed her to the heart in the presence of the court and the assembled people. The people arose in their might; the power of the decemvirs was overthrown, and Appius having been impeached, died in prison, probably by his own hand.
About eighty years after the death of Virginia, the plebeians succeeded, after a struggle of five years against every species of fraud and violence (especially on the part of Claudius Crassus, grandson of the infamous Appius Claudius), in obtaining a full acknowledgment of their rights, and all possible legal guarantees for their preservation. It is during this struggle that a popular poet (as Macaulay supposes), a zealous adherent of the tribunes, makes his appearance in the public market-place, and announces that he has a new song that will cut the Claudian family to the heart. He takes his stand on the spot where, according to tradition, Virginia, more than seventy years before, was seized by the base dependant of Appius, and thus relates the story :
Ye good men of the commons, with loving | Twelve axes waited on him, six marching hearts and true,
on a side; Who stand by the bold tribunes that still The townsmen shrank to right and left, and have stood by you,
eyed askance with fear Come, make a circle round me, and mark His lowering brow, his curling mouth, my tale with care
which always seemed to sneer: A tale of what Rome once hath borne, of That brow of hate, that mouth of scorn, what Rome yet may bear.
marks all the kindred still, This is no Grecian fable, of fountains run- For never was there Caudius yet but wished ning wine,
the commons ill. Of maids with snaky tresses, or sailors Nor lacks he fit attendance ; for close be
; turned to swine.
hind his heels, Here, in this very forum, under the noon- With outstretched chin and crouching day sun,
pace, the client Marcus steals, In sight of all the people, the bloody deed His loins girt up to run with speed, be the was done.
errand what it may, Old men still creep among us who saw that And the smile flickering on his cheek, for fearful day,
aught his lord may say. Just seventy years and seven ago, when the Where'er ye shed the honey, the buzzing wicked ten bare sway.
flies will crowd;
Where'er ye fling the carrion, the raven's Of all the wicked ten, still the names are croak is loud; held accursed;
Where'er down Tiber garbage floats, the And of all the wicked ten, Appius Claudius greedy pike ye see; was the worst.
And wheresoe'er such lord is found, such He stalked along the forum like King Tar- client still will be.
quin in his pride;
Macaulay then describes the seizing of Virginia by Marcus as she was passing through the market-place,—the commotion among the people,—and the spirited but vain appeal which young Icilius, the lover of Virginia, made to the people to rise and free themselves from the power of their oppressors.
After a mock investigation, held by Appius in the Roman forum a few days later, the tyrant was on the point of taking possession of the maiden, when her father, who had in the meantime come from the army to protect his child, begged permission to take leave of her, and speak a few words to her in private :
in his gown.
Straightway Virginius led the maid a little | Hard by, a flesher on a block had laid his space aside,
whittle down: To where the reeking shambles stood, piled Virginius caught the whittle up, and hid it
up with horn and hide, Close to yon low dark archway, where, in a And then his eyes grew very dim, and his crimson flood,
throat began to swell, Leaps down to the great sewer the gurgling And in a hoarse, changed voice, he spake, stream of blood.
Farewell, sweet child! farewell!
Oh, how I loved my darling! Though | With that he lifted high the steel, and stern I sometimes be,
smote her in the side, To thee, thou know'st, I was not so. Who And in her blood she sank to earth, and could be so to thee?
with one sob she died! And how my darling loved me! How glad she was to hear
Then, for a little moment, all people held My footstep on the threshold when I came their breath, back last year!
And through the crowded forum was stillAnd how she danced with pleasure to see ness as of death; my civic crown,
And in another moment brake forth from And took my sword, and hung it up, and one and all brought me forth my gown!
A cry as if the Volscians were coming o'er Now, all those things are over-yes, all the wall; thy pretty ways,
Till, with white lips and bloodshot eyes, Thy needle-work, thy prattle, thy snatches Virginius tottered nigh, of old lays;
And stood before the judgment-seat, and And none will grieve when I go forth, or held the knife on high. smile when I return,
'Oh, dwellers in the nether gloom, Or watch beside the old man's bed, or weep avengers of the slain, upon his urn.
By this dear blood I cry to you, do right
between us twain;
And even as Appius Claudius hath dealt The house that was the happiest within the by me and mine, Roman walls,
Deal you by Appius Claudius, and all the The house that envied not the wealth of Claudian line!” Capua's marble halls,
So spake the slayer of his child, and turned, Now, for the brightness of thy smile, must and went his way: have eternal gloom,
But first he cast one haggard glance to And for the music of thy voice, the silence where the body lay, of the tomb.
And writhed and groaned a fearful groan, The time is come. See how he points his and then, with steadfast feet, eager hand this way!
Strode right across the market-place unto See how his eyes gloat on thy grief, like a the Sacred Street.
kite's upon the prey! With all his wit, he little deems that, Then up sprang Appius Claudius: “Stop spurned, betrayed, bereft,
him, alive or dead! Thy father hath in his despair one fearful Ten thousand pounds of copper to the man refuge left.
who brings his head !” He little deems that in this hand I clutch He looked upon his clients, but none would what still can save
work his will ; Thy gentle youth from taunts and blows, He looked upon his lictors, but they tremthe portion of the slave;
bled and stood still. Yea, and from nameless evil, that passeth And as Virginius, through the press, his taunt and blow
way in silence cleft, Foul outrage which thou knowest not, Ever the mighty multitude fell back to which thou shalt never know.
right and left. Then clasp me round the neck once more, And he hath passed in safety unto his and give me one more kiss;
woful home, And now, my own dear little girl, there is And there ta’en horse to tell the camp no way but this."
what deeds are done in Rome.
The people gathered around the dead body; and when Claudius attempted to disperse them, a furious onset was made upon the lictors, who were driven back severely wounded, and with gar(13)
ments torn in shreds. A rush was then made at Appius himself ; but when the people could not reach him, owing to the crowd of his dependants who gathered around him, they resorted to other means of assault:
When stones began to fly, “Tribunes! we will have tribunes !” -rose He shook, and crouched, and wrung his with a louder swell:
hands, and smote upon his thigh : And the chair tossed as tosses a bark with Kind clients, honest lictors, stand by me tattered sail, in this fray!
When raves the Adriatic beneath an eastern Must I be torn to pieces? Home-home the nearest way!”
When the Calabrian sea-marks are lost in While yet he spake, and looked around
clouds of spume, with a bewildered air,
And the great Thunder-Cape has donned Four sturdy lictors put their necks beneath his veil of inky gloom.
the curule chair ; And fourscore clients on the left, and four-One stone hit Appius on the mouth, and score on the right,
one beneath the ear; Arrayed themselves with swords and staves, And ere he reached Mount Palatine, he and loins girt up for fight.
swooned with pain and fear. But though without staff or sword, so His cursed head, that he was wont to hold furious was the throng,
so high with pride, That scarce the train with might and Now, like a drunken man's, hung down, main could bring their lord along.
and swayed from side to side: And when his stout retainers had brought
him to his door, Twelve times the crowd made at him ; five His face and neck were all one cake of filth times they seized his gown ;
and clotted gore!Small chance was his to rise again, if once As Appius Claudius was that day, so may they got him down ;
his grandson be! And sharper came the pelting, and ever- God send Rome one such other sight, and more the yell
send me there to see.
THERE is a glorious city in the sea : So smoothly-silently—by many a dome, The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets, Mosque-like, and many a stately portico, Ebbing and flowing; and the salt sea-weed The statues ranged along an azure sky, Clings to the marble of her palaces! By many a pile in more than Eastern pride, No tread of men, no footsteps to and fro, Of old the residence of merchant-kings; Lead to her gates: the path lies o’er the The fronts of some, though Time had sea,
shattered them, Invincible; and from the land we went Still glowing with the richest hues of art, As to a floating city,—steering in
As though the wealth within them had And gliding up her streets as in a dream,
When Attila, King of the Huns, devastated Italy in the middle of the fifth century, the citizens of Aquileia, Padua, and other towns on the Adriatic, fled from the invader.
At the head of the gulf are about a hundred little islands, formed of mud and sand swept down by the rivers which drain the plains of Northern Italy. These islands are surrounded by shallow water, and protected from the waves by long bars of sand, between which by various narrow channels vessels pass out and in. Upon these islands the Veneti driven from the mainland established themselves, and founded a city in the midst of the waters.
In their new home they missed the vines and olives which clad their native slopes, the bees and cattle they used to tend. The waste of wild sea-moor on which they now dwelt offered only a few patches of soil fit for cultivation, and these yielded but a scanty crop of stunted vegetables. The only supplies which nature furnished were the fish which swarmed in the waters, and the salt which encrusted the beds of the lagoons. A more miserable, hopeless plight than that of the inhabitants of these little islands, it would be hard to conceive; and yet out of their slender resources they built
Venice ! The sand-banks which they contested with the sea-fowl became the site of a great and wealthy city; and their fish and salt formed the original basis of a world-wide commerce. Their progress, however, was slow and laborious. Seventy years after the settlement was formed they were still obliged to toil hard for a bare subsistence.
Some distinctions of rank—a tradition of their former condition were maintained amongst them, but all were reduced to an equality of poverty. Fish was the common, almost the only, food of all classes. None could boast a better dwelling than a rude hut of mud and osiers. Their only treasure consisted of salt, which they transported to the mainland, receiving in exchange