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White as a white sail on a dusky sea,
They landed on a wild but narrow scene,
When Hope is gone, nor Glory's self remains
Again their own shore rises on the view,
And from that hour a new tradition gave
DIRGE OF ALARIC THE GOTH, Who stormed and spoiled the City of Rome, and was afterwards buried in the channel of the river Busentius, the water of which had been diverted from its course, that the body might be interred.
The sentiments expressed in the following dirge are eminently beautiful; but they derive not their beauty from any abstract merit they possess in themselves, but from their consistency with the character of the warrior by whom they are expressed. In the mouth of Julius Cæsar they would have neither consistency nor beauty. They breathe a severity and contempt for mankind totally foreign to the open and generous nature of Cæsar. Alaric despised the pageant charm.” But why did he so ? Because he despised those of whom it was composed ; because he had no sympathy with human nature; because he had no feeling to respond to the finer affections of the heart; in a word, because he could not say with Terence “ Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.” But though Alaric despised the “ marble bust” and “sculptured clay,” he could not endure that man should boast
That he has trod On him who was the scourge of God. If, therefore, he was insensible to the sympathies of mankind, and contemned their commiseration, he had
not, however, strength of mind to endure their mockery or insults after death. We do not know whether the learned professor was right in making Alaric fling back his gold and silver to the clods that gave them birth, for history reports that he had his immense treasures buried along with him. Poetry, it is true, has no original alliance with history, but when it makes history its subject, verisimilitude must be observed, because poetry must always be a picture of that which it professes to represent. When the poet makes Alaric say, that
Feeble Cæsars shrieked for help
In vain within their seven-hill’d towers, we do not dispute his right of putting this inflated boast into the mouth of Alaric, for we believe there is nothing unnatural in his holding this contemptible opinion of the Cæsars ; but, stern and gothic as he was, we cannot help believing that one of the Cæsars, at least, was a warrior superior to him in military science, equal to him in personal bravery, as wreckless of life when glory called upon him, and beyond all comparison superior to him, where he had an opportunity of displaying greatness, generosity, and magnanimity of character. These observations are not intended to intimate, that the author erred in putting this expression into the mouth of Alaric, for though it is false, it is still natural that a barbarian should think so. The heavy-limbed, heavy-paced, half-animated cart driver, who swells out his shoulders with patches of coarse cloth, imagines that he could upset all the well-dressed gentlemen whom he meets in the street, though many of them, (we shall not except even the dandies themselves,) could, to adopt his own language, pull the livers out of him, if, resigning all ideas of respect for themselves at the moment, they could assume his fierceness and abandonment of character. There is not, however, a sentiment in this dirge with which we find fault; for, as we have already observed, the beauty of the sentiments arise entirely from their consistency with the character by whom they are expressed.