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CAIUS MARIUS TO THE ROMANS.

95

But, besides the disadvantages which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard ; that, whereas a commander of patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect or breach of duty, has his great connexions, the antiquity of his family, the important services of his ancestors, and the multitudes he has, by, power, engaged in his interest, to screen him from condign punishment, my whole safety depends upon myself; which renders it the more indispensably necessary for me to take care that my conduct be clear and unexceptionable. Besides, I am well aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me ; and that, though the impartial, who prefer the real advantage of the commonwealth to all other considerations, favour my pretensions, the patricians want nothing so much as an occasion against me. It is, therefore, my fixed resolution to use my best endeavours that you be not disappointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated.

I have, from my youth, been familiar with toils and with dangers. I was faithful to your interest, my countrymen, when I served you for no reward but that of honour. It is not my design to betray you, now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit. You have committed to my conduct the war against Jugurtha. The patricians are offended at this. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honourable body ?a person of illustrious birth, of an ancient family, of innumerable statues, but of no experience! What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitudes of motionless statues, do his country in the day of battle? What would such a general do, but, in his trepidation and inexperience, have recourse to some inferior commander for direction in difficulties to which he was not himself equal ? Thus your patrician general would, in fact, have a general over him ; so that the acting commander would still be a plebeian. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have, myself, known those who have been chosen consuls begin then to read the history of their own country, of which, till that time, they were totally ignorant-that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the discharge of it.

96

CAIUS MARIUS TO THE ROMANS. I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between patrician haughtiness and plebeian experience. The very actions, which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading I know by action. They are pleased to slight my mean birth ; I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me; want of personal worth against them. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another but the endowments of the mind ? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man.

Suppose it were inquired of the fathers of such patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether, if they had their choice, they would desire sons of their character, or of mine, what would they answer, but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons? If the patricians have reason to despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed upon me? Let them envy, likewise, my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country, by which I have acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can bestow, whilst they aspire to honours as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They lay claim to the rewards of activity, for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury; yet none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors; and they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers; whereas they do the very contrary, for, as much as their ancestors were distinguished for

their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity ; but it only serves to show what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers; but I hope I may answer the cavils of the patricians by standing up in defence of what I have myself done.

Observe, now, my countrymen, the injustice of the patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on account of the exploits done by their forefathers; whilst they will not allow me the due praise for performing the

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very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family; he can trace no venerable line of ancestors. What, then? Is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors than to become illustrious by one's own good behaviour ? What if I can show no statues of my family? I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished. I can show the scars of those wounds which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of. Not left me by inheritance, as theirs, but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour ; amidst clouds of dust, and seas of blood-scenes of action where those effeminate patricians, who endeavour by indirect means to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to show their faces.

Sallust.

EXCELSIOR.

The shades of night were falling fast,
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner with the strange device-

Excelsior !
His brow was sad ; his eye beneath,
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath ;
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue-

Excelsior!
In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan-

Excelsior!
"Try not the Pass !” the old man said ;
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide !”
And loud that clarion voice replied-

Excelsior !

98

THE CROOKED STICK.

"O stay,” the maiden said, “and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast :"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh-

Excelsior!
"Beware the pine tree's withered branch :
Beware the awful avalanche !"
This was the peasant's last good-night.
A voice replied, far up the height-

Excelsior!
At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of St. Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air

Excelsior!
A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device-

Excelsior.
There in the twilight, cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell like a falling star-
Excelsior !

Longfeiiow.

THE CROOKED STICK.

JULIA was lovely and winning;

And Julia had lovers in plenty,
They outnumber'd her years
More than twice it appears-
She killed fifty before she was twenty.

Young Harry
Had asked her to marry ;
But Julia could never decide,
Thus early, on being a bride ;
With such ample choice,
She would not give her voices
In wedlock so soon to be tied.

THE CROOKED STICK.

93

And though she liked Hal, thought it better to wait,
Before she would finally fix on her fate ;
For though “Harry was every way worthy” to get her,
Perhaps she might see some one else she liked better.

Hal, discarded by Venus, went over to Mars,
And set off to the war in a troop of hussars.
To sabres and bullets exposing a life
Made wretched to him by the want of a wife ;
But death would not take what fair Julia refused,
And, in fact, Harry thought himself very ill-used
By “Death and the Lady"_till Time's precious ointment

Cured the wound Julia made,

And the soldier's bold blade
Soon won him a colonel's appointment ;
And then he went home, by hard service made sager,
And found Julia had married a yellow old major.

For the sake of old times, Harry called on the lady,
Who was now on that side of this life they call “shady ;
Which, though pleasant in streets, in the summer's bright

sun,
On life's path is not pleasant, when summor’s all done.
He took her hand kindly, and hoped she was well,
And looked with a tender regret on his belle !
“Ah ! Julia ! how's this ? I would not give you pain,
But I think I may ask, without being thought vain,
How the girl who refused to let Harry encage her,
Could consent to be trapped by a yellow old major ? ”
“Come dine here,” said she, “and at evening we'll take
On horseback a ride through the hazelwood brake ;
And as I've lost my whip, you must go to the wood,
And cut me a riding-switch handsome and good,
Something nice-such a one as I'll keep for your sako,
As a token of friendship ; but pray do not make
Your absence too long, for we dine, sharp, at six ;
But you'll see, before then, many beautiful sticks."

Harry went on this mission, to rifle the riches
Of the hazelwood brake, and saw such lovely switches,
But none good enough to present, as a token,
To her who, “lang syne," had his burning heart broken.

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