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IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS
AND POEMS: A SELECTION

By
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR




CONTENTS


IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS

Marcellus and Hannibal

Queen Elizabeth and Cecil

Epictetus and Seneca

Peter the Great and Alexis

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

Joseph Scaliger and Montaigne

Boccaccio and Petrarca

Bossuet and the Duchess de Fontanges

John of Gaunt and Joanna of Kent

Leofric and Godiva

Essex and Spenser

Lord Bacon and Richard Hooker

Oliver Cromwell and Walter Noble

Lord Brooke and Sir Philip Sidney

Southey and Porson

The Abbé Delille and Walter Landor

Diogenes and Plato

Alfieri and Salomon the Florentine Jew

Rousseau and Malesherbes

Lucullus and Caesar

Epicurus, Leontion, and Ternissa

Dante and Beatrice

Fra Filippo Lippi and Pope Eugenius the Fourth

Tasso and Cornelia

La Fontaine and de La Rochefoucault

Lucian and Timotheus

Bishop Shipley and Benjamin Franklin

Southey and Landor

The Emperor of China and Tsing-Ti

Louis XVIII and Talleyrand

Oliver Cromwell and Sir Oliver Cromwell

The Count Gleichem: the Countess: their Children, and Zaida


THE PENTAMERON

First Day's Interview

Third Day's Interview

Fourth Day's Interview

Fifth Day's Interview


POEMS

I. She I love (alas in vain!)

II. Pleasure! why thus desert the heart

III. Past ruin'd Ilion Helen lives

IV. Ianthe! you are call'd to cross the sea!

V. The gates of fame and of the grave

VI. Twenty years hence my eyes may grow

VII. Here, ever since you went abroad

VIII. Tell me not things past all belief

IX. Proud word you never spoke, but you will speak

X. Fiesole Idyl

XI. Ah what avails the sceptred race

XII. With rosy hand a little girl prest down

VIII. Ternissa! you are fled!

XIV. Various the roads of life; in one

XV. Yes; I write verses now and then

XVI. On seeing a hair of Lucretia Borgia

XVII. Once, and once only, have I seen thy face

XVIII. To Wordsworth

XIX. To Charles Dickens

XX. To Barry Cornwall

XXI. To Robert Browning

XXII. Age

XXIII. Leaf after leaf drops off, flower after flower

XXIV. Well I remember how you smiled

XXV. I strove with none, for none was worth my strife

XXVI. Death stands above me, whispering low

XXVII. A Pastoral

XXVIII. The Lover

XXIX. The Poet who Sleeps

XXX. Daniel Defoe

XXXI. Idle Words

XXXII. To the River Avon




IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS




MARCELLUS AND HANNIBAL


_Hannibal._ Could a Numidian horseman ride no faster? Marcellus! oh!
Marcellus! He moves not--he is dead. Did he not stir his fingers?
Stand wide, soldiers--wide, forty paces; give him air; bring water;
halt! Gather those broad leaves, and all the rest, growing under the
brushwood; unbrace his armour. Loose the helmet first--his breast
rises. I fancied his eyes were fixed on me--they have rolled back
again. Who presumed to touch my shoulder? This horse? It was surely
the horse of Marcellus! Let no man mount him. Ha! ha! the Romans, too,
sink into luxury: here is gold about the charger.

_Gaulish Chieftain._ Execrable thief! The golden chain of our king
under a beast's grinders! The vengeance of the gods hath overtaken the
impure----

_Hannibal._ We will talk about vengeance when we have entered Rome,
and about purity among the priests, if they will hear us. Sound for
the surgeon. That arrow may be extracted from the side, deep as it is.
The conqueror of Syracuse lies before me. Send a vessel off to
Carthage. Say Hannibal is at the gates of Rome. Marcellus, who stood
alone between us, fallen. Brave man! I would rejoice and cannot. How
awfully serene a countenance! Such as we hear are in the islands of
the Blessed. And how glorious a form and stature! Such too was theirs!
They also once lay thus upon the earth wet with their blood--few other
enter there. And what plain armour!

_Gaulish Chieftain._ My party slew him; indeed, I think I slew him
myself. I claim the chain: it belongs to my king; the glory of Gaul
requires it. Never will she endure to see another take it.

_Hannibal._ My friend, the glory of Marcellus did not require him to
wear it. When he suspended the arms of your brave king in the temple,
he thought such a trinket unworthy of himself and of Jupiter. The
shield he battered down, the breast-plate he pierced with his
sword--these he showed to the people and to the gods; hardly his wife
and little children saw this, ere his horse wore it.

_Gaulish Chieftain._ Hear me; O Hannibal!

_Hannibal._ What! when Marcellus lies before me? when his life may
perhaps be recalled? when I may lead him in triumph to Carthage? when
Italy, Sicily, Greece, Asia, wait to obey me? Content thee! I will
give thee mine own bridle, worth ten such.

_Gaulish Chieftain._ For myself?

_Hannibal._ For thyself.

_Gaulish Chieftain._ And these rubies and emeralds, and that
scarlet----?

_Hannibal._ Yes, yes.

_Gaulish Chieftain._ O glorious Hannibal! unconquerable hero! O my
happy country! to have such an ally and defender. I swear eternal
gratitude--yes, gratitude, love, devotion, beyond eternity.

_Hannibal._ In all treaties we fix the time: I could hardly ask a
longer. Go back to thy station. I would see what the surgeon is about,
and hear what he thinks. The life of Marcellus! the triumph of
Hannibal! what else has the world in it? Only Rome and Carthage: these
follow.

_Marcellus._ I must die then? The gods be praised! The commander of a
Roman army is no captive.

_Hannibal._ [_To the Surgeon._] Could not he bear a sea voyage?
Extract the arrow.

_Surgeon._ He expires that moment.

_Marcellus._ It pains me: extract it.

_Hannibal._ Marcellus, I see no expression of pain on your
countenance, and never will I consent to hasten the death of an enemy
in my power. Since your recovery is hopeless, you say truly you are no
captive.

[_To the Surgeon._] Is there nothing, man, that can assuage the mortal
pain? for, suppress the signs of it as he may, he must feel it. Is
there nothing to alleviate and allay it?

_Marcellus._ Hannibal, give me thy hand--thou hast found it and
brought it me, compassion.

[_To the Surgeon._] Go, friend; others want thy aid; several fell
around me.

_Hannibal._ Recommend to your country, O Marcellus, while time permits
it, reconciliation and peace with me, informing the Senate of my
superiority in force, and the impossibility of resistance. The tablet
is ready: let me take off this ring--try to write, to sign it, at
least. Oh, what satisfaction I feel at seeing you able to rest upon
the elbow, and even to smile!

_Marcellus._ Within an hour or less, with how severe a brow would
Minos say to me, 'Marcellus, is this thy writing?'

Rome loses one man: she hath lost many such, and she still hath many
left.

_Hannibal._ Afraid as you are of falsehood, say you this? I confess in
shame the ferocity of my countrymen. Unfortunately, too, the nearer
posts are occupied by Gauls, infinitely more cruel. The Numidians are
so in revenge: the Gauls both in revenge and in sport. My presence is
required at a distance, and I apprehend the barbarity of one or other,
learning, as they must do, your refusal to execute my wishes for the
common good, and feeling that by this refusal you deprive them of
their country, after so long an absence.

_Marcellus._ Hannibal, thou art not dying.

_Hannibal._ What then? What mean you?

_Marcellus._ That thou mayest, and very justly, have many things yet
to apprehend: I can have none. The barbarity of thy soldiers is
nothing to me: mine would not dare be cruel. Hannibal is forced to be
absent; and his authority goes away with his horse. On this turf lies
defaced the semblance of a general; but Marcellus is yet the regulator
of his army. Dost thou abdicate a power conferred on thee by thy
nation? Or wouldst thou acknowledge it to have become, by thy own sole
fault, less plenary than thy adversary's?

I have spoken too much: let me rest; this mantle oppresses me.

_Hannibal._ I placed my mantle on your head when the helmet was first
removed, and while you were lying in the sun. Let me fold it under,
and then replace the ring.

_Marcellus._ Take it, Hannibal. It was given me by a poor woman who
flew to me at Syracuse, and who covered it with her hair, torn off in
desperation that she had no other gift to offer. Little thought I that
her gift and her words should be mine. How suddenly may the most
powerful be in the situation of the most helpless! Let that ring and
the mantle under my head be the exchange of guests at parting. The
time may come, Hannibal, when thou (and the gods alone know whether as
conqueror or conquered) mayest sit under the roof of my children, and
in either case it shall serve thee. In thy adverse fortune, they will
remember on whose pillow their father breathed his last; in thy
prosperity (Heaven grant it may shine upon thee in some other
country!) it will rejoice thee to protect them. We feel ourselves the
most exempt from affliction when we relieve it, although we are then
the most conscious that it may befall us.

There is one thing here which is not at the disposal of either.

_Hannibal._ What?

_Marcellus._ This body.

_Hannibal._ Whither would you be lifted? Men are ready.

_Marcellus._ I meant not so. My strength is failing. I seem to hear
rather what is within than what is without. My sight and my other
senses are in confusion. I would have said--this body, when a few
bubbles of air shall have left it, is no more worthy of thy notice
than of mine; but thy glory will not let thee refuse it to the piety
of my family.

_Hannibal._ You would ask something else.



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