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" A sigb . . . « Broke from her heart, these accents from her lips. “ The full of days and honours through the gate “ Of painless slumber is retir'd. His tomb • Shall stand among his fathers, in the shade “ Of his own trophies. Placid were his days, “ Which flow'd through blessings. As a river pure; • Whose sides are flow'ry, and whose meadows fair, “ Meets in his course a subterranean void; “There dips his silver head, again to rise, “ And, rising, glide through flow'rs' and meadows . new; “ So shall Oïleus in those happier fields, 66 Where never gloom of trouble shades the mind.".
The undeniable fault of the entire poem is, that it wants impetuosity of progress, and that its characters are without warm and interesting individuality. What a great genius might have made of the subject, it may be difficult to pronounce by supposition ; for it is the very character of genius to produce effects which cannot be calculated. But imposing as the names of Leonidas and Thermopylæ may appear, the subject which they formed for an epic poem was such, that we cannot wonder at its baffling the powers of Glover. A poet, with such a theme, was furnished indeed with a grand outline of actions and sentiments; but how difficult was it, after all that books could teach him, to give the close and veracious
appearance of life to characters and manners beheld so remotely on the verge of the horizon of history ! What difficulty to avoid coldness and generality, on the one hand, if he delineated his human beings only with the manners which history could authenticate; and to shun grotesqueness and inconsistency on the other, if he filled up the vague outline of the antique with the particular and familiar traits of modern life! Neither Fenelon, with all his genius, nor Barthelemy, with all his learning, have kept entirely free of this latter fault of incongruity, in modernizing the aspect of ancient manners. The characters of Barthelemy, in particular, often remind us of statues in modern clothes. Glover has not fallen into this impurity; but his purity is cold: his heroes are like outlines of Grecian faces, with no distinct or minute physiognomy. They are not so much poetical characters, as historical recollections. There are, indeed, some touches of spirit in Artemisia's character, and of pathos in the episode of Teribazus ; but Leonidas is too good a Spartan, and Xerxes too bad a Persian, to be pitied; and most of the subordinate agents, that fall or triumph in battle, only load our memories with their names. The local descriptions of “ Leonidas,” however, its pure sentiments, and the classical images which it recals, render it interesting, as the monument of an accomplished and amiable mind,
OPENING OF THE POEM-OFFER OF LEONIDAS TO
DEVOTE HIMSELF FOR HIS COUNTRY.
in arms with ord! The The dread
THE virtuous Spartan, who resign'd his life
To save his country at th' (Etæan straits,
Thermopyle, when all the peopled east
In arms with Xerxes fill'd the Grecian plains,
O Muse, record! The Hellespont they pass’d,
O’erpow’ring Thrace. The dreadful tidings swift
To Corinth few. Her Isthmus was the seat
Of Grecian council. Alpheus thence returns
To Lacedemon. In assembly full
He finds the Spartan people with their kings;
Their kings, who boast an origin divine,
From Hercules descended. They the sons
Of Lacedemon had conven'd, to learn
The sacred mandates of th' immortal gods,
That morn expected from the Delphian dome.
But Alpheus sudden their attention drew,
And thus address'd them: For immediate war,
My countrymen, prepare. Barbarian tents
Already fill the trembling bounds of Thrace.
The Isthmian council hath decreed to guard
Thermopylæ, the Locrian gate of Greece.
• Here Alpheus paus’d. Leutychides, who shar'd
With great Leonidas the-sway, uprose .
And spake. Ye citizens of Sparta, hear.
Why from her bosom should Laconia send
Her valiant race to wage'a distant war .
Beyond the Isthmus? There the gods have plac'd
Our native barrier. In this favour'd land,
Which Pelops govern'd, us of Doric blood
That Isthmus inaccessible secures.
There let our standards rest. Your solid strength,
If once you scatter in defence of states
Remote and feeble, you betray your own,
And merit Jove's derision. With assent
The Spartans heard. Leonidas replied:
O most ungen'rous counsel ! Most unwise !
Shall we, confining to that Isthmian fence
Our efforts, leave beyond it ev'ry state
Disown'd, expos’d? Shall Athens, while her fleets
Unceasing watch th' innumerable foes,
And trust th' impending dangers of the field
To Sparta's well-known valour, shall she hear,
That to barbarian violence we leave
Her unprotected walls? Her hoary sires,
Her helpless matrons, and their infant race,
To servitude and shame? Her guardian gods
Will yet preserve them. Neptune o'er his main,
With Pallas, pow'r of wisdom, at their helms,
Will soon transport them to a happier clime,
Safe from insulting foes, from false allies,
And Eleutherian Jove will bless their flight.
Then shall we feel the unresisted force
Of Persia's navy, deluging our plains i s.
With inexhausted numbers. Half the Greeks,
By us betray'd to bondage, will support
A Persian lord, and lift th' avenging spear
For our destruction. But, my friends, reject
Such mcan, such dang’rous counsels, which would
Your long-establish'd honours, and assist
The proud invader. O eternal king
Of gods and mortals, elevate our minds !
Each low and partial passion thence expel !
Greece is our gen’ral mother. All must join
In her defence, or, sep’rate, each must fall.
This said, authority and shame control'd
The mute assembly. Agis too appear’d.
He from the Delphian cavern was return'd,
Where, taught by Phæbus on Parnassian cliffs,
The Pythian maid unfolded Heav'n's decrees. ·
He came; but discontent and grief o'ercast
His anxious brow. Reluctant was his tongue,
Yet seem'd full charg'd to speak. Religious dread
Each heart relax’d. On ev'ry visage hung
Sad expectation. Not a whisper told
The silent fear. Intensely all were fix?d,
All still as death, to hear the solemn tale.
As o'er the western waves, when ev'ry storm
Is hush'd within its cavern, and a breeze,
Soft-breathing, lightly with its wings along
The slacken'd cordage glides, the sailor's ear
Perceives no sound throughout the vast expanse;
None, but the murmurs of the sliding prow,
Which slowly parts the smooth and yielding main :
So through the wide and listening crowd no sound,