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STANDARD CLASSIC READER

Book Four

PART I LITERATURE

HORATIUS AT THE BRIDGE

THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY

Thomas Babington Macaulay, writer and statesman, was born in Rothley Temple, Leicestershire, England, October 25, 1800. His parents were well-to-do, and on his father's side he came of good, vigorous Scotch stock. He could read before he was three years old, and wrote poetry at the age of eight. He had a wonderful memory, and he once said that if by some accident every copy of the New Testament, “The Pilgrim's Progress,” and “Paradise Lost,” were destroyed, he could reproduce all three from memory. At Trinity College, Cambridge, he gained distinction both as a scholar and debater. After leaving college he turned to writing as a means of income, several of his ballads being published in Knight's Quarterly Magazine. In 1825, his famous essay on Milton appeared in the Edinburgh Review. He was sent to Parliament, where he achieved success as an orator, and rose to a place in the cabinet. In 1857, he was raised to the peerage of Great Britain under the title of Baron Macaulay of Rothley. He died in London, December 28, 1859.

“Horatius” is one of the “Lays of Ancient Rome.” Tarquin the Proud, seventh king of Rome, was a cruel and wicked tyrant. The Romans, weary of his tryanny, rose under Brutus, and drove the Tarquins into exile, electing two consuls as heads of the state. Tarquin retired to Etruria, where he succeeded in enlisting the arms of the Etruscan confederation in his behalf. Their defeat is told in the following ballad, which “is supposed to have been made about a hundred and twenty years after the war which it celebrates, and just before the taking of Rome by the Gauls.”

Lars Porsena of Clusium

By the Nine Gods he swore

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From the proud mart of Pisæ,

Queen of the western waves,
Where ride Massilia's triremes

Heavy with fair-haired slaves;
From where sweet Clanis wanders

Through corn and vines and flowers;
From where Cortona lifts to heaven

Her diadem of towers.

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Tall are the oaks whose acorns

Drop in dark Auser's rill;
Fat are the stags that champ the boughs

Of the Ciminian hill;
Beyond all streams Clitumnus

Is to the herdsman dear;
Best of all pools the fowler loves

The great Volsinian mere.

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But now no stroke of woodman

Is heard by Auser's rill;
No hunter tracks the stag's green path

Up the Ciminian hill;
Unwatched along Clitumnus

Grazes the milk-white steer;
Unharmed the water fowl may dip

In the Volsinian mere.

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The harvests of Arretium,

This year, old men shall reap,
This year, young boys in Umbro

Shall plunge the struggling sheep;
And in the vats of Luna,

This year, the must shall foam
Round the white feet of laughing girls

Whose sires have marched to Rome.

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