Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/150

This page needs to be proofread.


that had been given him. Arminius mocked at these as badges of slavery; and then each began to try to win the other over, Flavius boasting the power of Rome, and her generosity to the submissive; Arminius appealing to him in the name of their country's gods, of the mother that had borne them, and by the holy names of fatherland and freedom, not to prefer being the betrayer to being the champion of his country. They soon proceeded to mutual taunts and menaces, and Flavius called aloud for his horse and his arms, that he might dash across the river and attack his brother; nor would he have been checked from doing so, had not the Roman general Stertinius run up to him and forcibly detained him. Arminius stood on the other bank, threatening the renegade, and defying him to battle.

I shall not be thought to need apology for quoting here the stanzas in which Praed has described this scene—a scene among the most affecting, as well as the most striking, that history supplies. It makes us reflect on the desolate position of Arminius, with his wife and child captives in the enemy's hands, and with his brother a renegade in arms against him. The great liberator of our German race was there, with every source of human happiness denied him except the consciousness of doing his duty to his country.

Back, back! he fears not foaming flood Who fears not steel-clad line: No warrior thou of German blood, No brother thou of mine. Go, earn Rome's chain to load thy neck, Her gems to deck thy hilt; And blazon honor's hapless wreck With all the gauds of guilt.

But wouldst thou have me share the prey! By all that I have done, The Varian bones that day by day Lie whitening in the sun, The legion's trampled panoply, The eagle's shatter'd wing— I would not be for earth or sky So scorn'd and mean a thing.

Ho, call me here the wizard, boy, Of dark and subtle skill, To agonize but not destroy, To torture, not to kill.