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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY||1|
|THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY||7|
|NOTES ON THE FIRST PART.||15|
|NOTES ON THE SECOND PART.||18|
|AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND.||20|
|TO AN OLD OAK.||33|
|FRAGMENTS FROM EURIPIDES.||33|
|WRITTEN AT MIDNIGHT.||34|
|ON A TEAR.||34|
|FROM A GREEK EPIGRAM.||35|
|WRITTEN IN A SICK CHAMBER.||36|
|TO A FRIEND ON HIS MARRIAGE.||36|
|THE ALPS AT DAY-BREAK.||36|
|ON — — — — ASLEEP.||37|
|TO THE YOUNGEST DAUGHTER OF LADY **.||37|
|AN ITALIAN SONG.||38|
|TO THE GNAT.||38|
|TO THE BUTTERFLY.||40|
|THE VOYAGE OF COLUMBUS.||41|
|INSCRIBED ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT.||42|
IN TWO PARTS
Vivere bis, vita posse priore frui. Mart.
THE PLEASURES OF MEMORY PART I
Dolce sentier....... Colle, che mi piacesti,.... Ov’ ancor per usanza Amor mi mena; Ben riconosco in voi l’usate forme, Non, lasso, in me. Petrarch
ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST PART.
The Poem begins with the description of an obscure village, and of the pleasing melancholy which it excites on being revisited after a long absence. This mixed sensation is an effect of the Memory. From an effect we naturally ascend to the cause; and the subject proposed is then unfolded with an investigation of the nature and leading principles of this faculty.
It is evident that our ideas flow in continual succession, and introduce each other with a certain degree of regularity.
They are sometimes excited by sensible objects, and sometimes by an internal operation of the mind. Of the former species is most probably the memory of brutes; and its many sources of pleasure to them, as well as to us, are considered in the first part. The latter is the most perfect degree of memory, and forms the subject of the second.
When ideas have any relation whatever, they are attractive of each other in the mind; and the perception of any object naturally leads to the idea of another, which was connected with it either in time or place, or which can be compared or contrasted with it. Hence arises our attachment to inanimate objects; hence also, in some degree, the love of our country, and the emotion with which we contemplate the celebrated scenes of antiquity. Hence a picture directs our thoughts to the original: and, as cold and darkness suggest forcibly the ideas of heat and light, he, who feels the infirmities of age, dwells most on whatever reminds him of the vigour and vivacity of his youth.
The associating principle, as here employed, is no less conducive to virtue than to happiness; and, as such, it frequently discovers itself in the most tumultuous scenes of life. It addresses our finer feelings, and gives exercise to every mild and generous propensity.
Not confined to man, it extends through all animated nature; and its effects are peculiarly striking in the domestic tribes.
Twilight’s soft dews steal o’er the village-green,
With magic tints to harmonize the scene.
Still’d is the hum that thro’ the hamlet broke,
When round the ruins of their antient oak
The peasants flock’d to hear the minstrel play,
And games and carols clos’d the busy day.
Her wheel at rest, the matron thrills no more
With treasur’d tales, and legendary lore.
All, all are fled; nor mirth nor music flows
To chase the dreams of innocent repose.
All, all are fled; yet still I linger here!
Delle cose custode, e dispensiera.
Analysis of the second part.
The Memory has hitherto acted only in subservience to the senses, and so far man is not eminently distinguished from other animals: but, with respect to man, she has a higher province; and is often busily employed, when excited by no external cause whatever. She preserves, for his use, the treasures of art and science, history and philosophy. She colours all the prospects of life: for ’we can only anticipate the future, by concluding what is possible from what is past.’ On her agency depends every effusion of the Fancy, whose boldest effort can only compound or transpose, augment or diminish the materials which she has collected and retained.
When the first emotions of despair have subsided, and sorrow has softened into melancholy, she amuses with a retrospect of innocent pleasures, and inspires that noble confidence which results from the consciousness of having acted well. When sleep has suspended the organs of sense from their office, she not only supplies the mind with images, but assists in their combination. And even in madness itself, when the soul is resigned over to the tyranny of a distempered imagination, she revives past perceptions, and awakens the train of thought which was formerly most familiar.
Nor are we pleased only with a review of the brighter passages of life. Events, the most distressing in their immediate consequences, are often cherished in remembrance with a degree of enthusiasm.
But the world and its occupations give a mechanical impulse to the passions, which is not very favourable to the indulgence of this feeling. It is in a calm and well-regulated mind that the Memory is most perfect; and solitude is her best sphere of action. With this sentiment is introduced a Tale, illustrative of her influence in solitude, sickness, and, sorrow. And the subject having now been considered, so far as it relates to man and the animal world, the Poem concludes with a conjecture, that superior beings are blest with a nobler exercise of this faculty.
Sweet memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,
Oft up the stream of Time I turn my sail,
To view the fairy-haunts of long-lost hours.
Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.
Ages and climes remote to Thee impart
What charms in Genius, and refines in Art;
Thee, in whose hand the keys of Science dwell,
The pensive portress of her holy cell;
Whose constant vigils chase the chilling damp
Oblivion steals upon her vestal-lamp.
The friends of Reason, and the guides of Youth,
Whose language breath’d the eloquence of Truth;
Whose life, beyond preceptive wisdom, taught
The great in conduct, and the pure in thought;
These still exist, by Thee to Fame consign’d, [x]
Still speak and act, the models of mankind.
From Thee sweet Hope her airy colouring draws;
And Fancy’s flights are subject to thy laws.
From Thee that bosom-spring of rapture flows,
Which only Virtue, tranquil Virtue, knows.
When Joy’s bright sun has shed his evening ray,
And Hope’s delusive meteors cease to play;
When clouds on clouds the smiling prospect close,
Still thro’ the gloom thy star serenely glows;
Like yon fair orb, she gilds the brow of night
With the mild magic of reflected light.
The beauteous maid, that bids the world adieu,
Oft of that world will snatch a fond review;
Oft at the shrine neglect her beads,
to trace Some social scene, some dear, familiar face,
Forgot, when first a father’s stern controul
Chas’d the gay visions of her opening soul:
And ere, with iron tongue, the vesper-bell
Up springs at every step to claim a tear,
I came to the place of my birth, and cried, “The friends of my Youth, where are they?”—And an echo answered, “Where are they?” From an Arabic Ms.
Awake but one, and lo, what myriads rise!
When a traveller, who was surveying the ruins of Rome, expressed a desire to possess some relic of its antient grandeur, Poussin, who attended him, stooped down, and, gathering up a handful of earth shining with small grains of porphyry, “Take this home,” said he, “for your cabinet; and say boldly, Questa e Roma Antica.”
The church-yard yews round which his fathers sleep;
Every man, like Gulliver in Lilliput, is fastened to some spot of earth, by the thousand small threads which habit and association are continually stealing over him. Of these, perhaps, one of the strongest is here alluded to.
When the Canadian Indians were once solicited to emigrate, “What!” they replied, “shall we say to the bones of our fathers, Arise, and go with us into a foreign land?”—Hist. des Indes, par Raynal, vi. 21.
So, when he breath’d his firm yet fond adieu,
See cook’s first voyage, book i. chap. 16.
Another very affecting instance of local attachment is related of his fellow-countryman Potaveri, who came to Europe with M. de Bougainville.—See les JARDINS, chant, ii.
So Scotia’s Queen, &c.
Elle se leve sur son lict, et se met a contempler la France encore, et tant qu’elle peut. BRANTOME, i. 140.
Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire.
To an accidental association may be ascribed some of the noblest efforts of human genius. The Historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire first conceived his design among the ruins of the Capitol; and to the tones of a Welsh harp are we indebted for the Bard of Gray.—GIBBON’S Hist. xii. 432.—Mem. of Gray, sect. iv. let. 25.
Hence home-felt pleasure, &c.
Who can sufficiently admire the affectionate attachment of Plutarch, who thus concludes his enumeration of the advantages of a great city to men of letters; “As to myself, I live in a little town; and I choose to live there, lest it should become still less,”—Vit. Dem.
For this young FOSCARI, &c.
He was suspected of murder, and at Venice suspicion is good evidence. Neither the interest of the Doge, his father, nor the intrepidity of conscious innocence, which he exhibited in the dungeon and on the rack, could procure his acquittal. He was banished to the island of Candia for life.
But here his resolution failed him. At such a distance from home he could not live; and, as it was a criminal offence to solicit the intercession of any foreign prince, in a fit of despair he addressed a letter to the Duke of Milan, and intrusted it to a wretch whose perfidy, he knew, would occasion his being remanded a prisoner to Venice.
And watch and weep in ELOISA’S cell.
The Paraclete, founded by Abelard, in Champagne.
’Twas ever thus. As now at VIRGIL’S tomb
Vows and pilgrimages are not peculiar to the religious enthusiast. Silius Italicus performed annual ceremonies on the mountain of Posilippo; and it was there that Boccaccio, quasi da un divino estro inspirato, re-solved to dedicate his life to the muses.
So TULLY paus’d amid the wrecks of Time.
When Cicero was quaestor in Sicily, he discovered
the tomb of
Archimedes by its mathematical inscription.
Tusc. Quaest. v. 3.
Say why the pensive widow loves to weep.
The influence of the associating principle is finely exemplified in the faithful Penelope, when she sheds tears over the bow of Ulysses. Od. xxi. 55.
If chance he hears the song so sweetly wild
The celebrated Ranz des Vaches; cet air si cheri des Suisses qu’il fut defendu sous peine de mort de la jouer dans leurs troupes, parce qu’il faisoit fondre en larmes, deserter Ou mourir ceux qui l’entendoient, tant il excitoit en eux l’ardent desir de revoir leur pays. ROUSSEAU.
The maladie de pays is as old as the human heart. JUVENAL’S little cup-bearer,
longo non visam tempore matrem,
Et casulam, et notes tristis desiderat hoedos.
And the Argive, in the heat of battle,
Dulces moriens reminiscitur Argos.
Say why VESPASIAN lov’d his Saline farm.
This emperor, according to Suetonius, constantly passed the summer in a small villa near Reate, where he was born, and to which he would never add any embellishment; ne quid scilicet oculorum consuetudini deperiret. SUET. in Vit. Vesp. cap. ii.
A similar instance occurs in the life of the venerable Pertinax, as related by J. Capitolinus. Posteaquam in Liguriam venit, multis agris coemptis, tabernam pater-nam, manente forma priore, infinitis aedificiis circun-dedit. Hist. August. 54. And it is said of Cardinal Richelieu, that, when he built his magnificent palace on the site of the old family chateau at Richelieu, he sacrificed its symmetry to preserve the room in which he was born.
Mem. de Mlle, de Montpensier, i. 27. An attachment of this nature is generally the characteristic of a benevolent mind; and a long acquaintance with the world cannot always extinguish it.
“To a friend,” says John Duke of Buckingham, “I will expose my weakness: I am oftener missing a pretty gallery in the old house I pulled down, than pleased with a saloon which I built in its stead, though a thousand times better in all respects.” See his Letter to the D. of Sh.
Such were Diderot’s Regrets sur sa vieille Robe de Chambre. “Pourquoi ne avoir pas gardee? Elle etoit faite a moi; j’etois fait a elle.—Mes amis, gardez vos vieux amis.”
This is the language of the heart; and will remind the reader of that good-humoured remark in one of Pope’s letters—“I should hardly care to have an old post pulled up, that I remembered ever since I was a child.” POPE’S Works, viii. 151.
Nor did the Poet feel the charm more forcibly than his Editor. See HURD’S Life of Warburton, 51, 99.
The elegant author of Telemachus has illustrated this subject, with equal fancy and feeling, in the story of Alibee, Persan.
Why great NAVARRE, &c.
That amiable and accomplished monarch, Henry the Fourth of France, made an excursion from his camp, during the long siege of Laon, to dine at a house in the forest of Folambray; where he had often been regaled, when a boy, with fruit, milk, and new cheese; and in revisiting which he promised himself great pleasure. Mem. de SULLY, ii. 381.
When DIOCLETIAN’S self-corrected mind
Diocletian retired into his native province, and there amused himself with building, planting, and gardening. His answer to Maximian is deservedly celebrated. He was solicited by that restless old man to re-assume the reins of government, and the Imperial purple. He rejected the temptation with a smile of pity, calmly observing, “that if he could shew Maximian the cabbages which he had planted with his own hands at Salona, he should no longer be urged to relinquish the enjoyment of happiness for the pursuit of power.” GIBBON, ii. 175.
Say, when contentious CHARLES renounc’d a throne,
When the emperor Charles V. had executed his memorable resolution, and had set out for the monastery of St. Justus, he stopped a few days at Ghent, says his historian, to indulge that tender and pleasant melancholy, which arises in the mind of every man in the decline of life, on visiting the place of his nativity, and viewing the scenes and objects familiar to him in his early youth. ROBERTSON, iv. 256.
Then did his horse the homeward track descry.
The memory of the horse forms the ground-work of a pleasing little romance of the twelfth century, entitled, “Lai du Palefroi vair.” See Fabliaux du XII Siecle.
Ariosto likewise introduces it in a passage full of
truth and nature.
When Bayardo meets Angelica in the forest,
........Va mansueto a la Donzella,
Ch’in Albracca il servia gia di sua mano.
ORLANDO FURIOSO, canto i. 75.
Sweet bird! thy truth shall HARLEM’S walls attest.
During the siege of Harlem, when that city was reduced to the last extremity, and on the point of opening its gates to a base and barbarous enemy, a design was formed to relieve it; and the intelligence was conveyed to the citizens by a letter which was tied under the wing of a pigeon. THUANUS, lib. lv, c. 5.
The same messenger was employed at the siege of Mutina, as we are informed by the elder Pliny. Hist. Nat. x. 37.
Hark! the lee, &c.
This little animal, from the extreme convexity of her eye, cannot see many inches before her.
These still exist, &c.
There is a future Existence even in this world; an Existence in the hearts and minus of those who shall live after us. It is in reserve for every man, however obscure; and his portion, if he be diligent, must be equal to his desires. For in whose remembrance can we wish to hold a place, but such as know, and are known by us? These are within the sphere of our influence, and among these and their descendants we may live evermore.
It is a state of rewards and punishments; and, like that revealed to us in the Gospel, has the happiest influence on our lives. The latter excites us to gain the favour of GOD; the former to gain the love and esteem of wise and good men; and both lead to the same end; for, in framing our conceptions of the DEITY, we only ascribe to Him exalted degrees of Wisdom and Goodness.
Yet still how sweet the soothings of his art!
The astronomer chalking his figures on the wall, in Hogarth’s view of Bedlam, is an admirable exemplification of this idea. See the RAKE’S PROGRESS, plate 8.
Turns but to start, and gazes but to sigh! The following stanzas are said to have been written on a blank leaf of this Poem. They present so affecting a reverse of the picture, that I cannot resist the opportunity of introducing them here.
Pleasures of Memory!—oh
And justly proud beyond a Poet’s praise;
If the pure confines of thy tranquil breast
Contain, indeed, the subject of thy lays!
By me how envied!—for to me,
The herald still of misery,
Memory makes her influence known
By sighs, and tears, and grief alone:
I greet her as the fiend, to whom belong
The vulture’s ravening beak, the raven’s funeral song.
She tells of time mispent, of comfort
Of fair occasions gone for ever by;
Of hopes too fondly nurs’d, too rudely cross’d,
Of many a cause to wish, yet fear to die;
For what, except th’ instinctive fear
Lest she survive, detains me here,
When “all the life of life” is fled?—
What, but the deep inherent dread,
Lest she beyond the grave resume her reign,
And realize the hell that priests and beldams feign?
Hast thou thru Eden’s wild-wood vales pursued
On the road-side between Penrith and Appelby there stands a small pillar with this inscription:
“This pillar was erected in the year 1656, by Ann Countess Dowager of Pembroke, &c. for a memorial of her last parting, in this place, with her good and pious mother, Margaret, Countess Dowager of Cumberland, on the 2nd of April, 1616; in memory whereof she hath left an annuity of 4_l_. to be distributed to the poor of the parish of Brougham, every 2nd day of April for ever, upon the stone-table placed hard by. Laus Deo!”
The Eden is the principal river of Cumberland, and rises in the wildest part of Westmoreland.
O’er his dead son the gallant ORMOND sigh’d. Ormond bore the loss with patience and dignity: though he ever retained a pleasing, however melancholy, sense of the signal merit of Ossory. “I would not exchange my dead son,” said he, “for any living son in Christendom.” HUME, vi. 340. The same sentiment is inscribed on Miss Dolman’s urn at the Leasowes.
Heu, quanto minus est cum reliquis versari, quam tui meminisse!
High on exulting wing the heath-cock rose.
This bird is remarkable for his exultation during
Brit, Zoology, 266.
Derwent’s clear mirror
Keswick Lake in Cumberland.
Down by St Herbert’s consecrated grove.
A small island covered with trees, among which were formerly the ruins of a religious house.
When lo! a sudden blast the vessel blew.
In a lake surrounded with mountains, the agitations are often violent and momentary. The winds blow in gusts and eddies; and the water no sooner swells, than it subsides. See BOURN’S Hist, of Westmorland.
To what pure beings, in a nobler sphere,
The several degrees of angels may probably have larger views, and some of them he endowed with capacities able to retain together, and constantly set before them, as in one picture, all their past knowledge at once. LOCKE on Human Understanding, b. ii, c. x. g.
Villula,..........et pauper agelle, Me tibi, et hos una mecum, et quos semper amavi, Commendo.
Every reader turns with pleasure to those passages of Horace, and Pope, and Boileau, which describe how they lived and where they dwelt; and which, being interspersed among their satirical writings, derive a secret and irresistible grace from the contrast, and are admirable examples of what in Painting is termed repose.
We have admittance to Horace at all hours. We enjoy the company and conversation at his table; and his suppers, like Plato’s, ’non solum in praesentia, sed etiam postero die jucundae sunt.’ But when we look round as we sit there, we find ourselves in a Sabine farm, and not in a Roman villa. His windows have every charm of prospect; but his furniture might have descended from Cincin-natus; and gems, and pictures, and old marbles, are mentioned by him more than once with a seeming indifference.
His English Imitator thought and felt, perhaps, more correctly on the subject; and embellished his garden and grotto with great industry and success. But to these alone he solicits our notice. On the ornaments of his house he is silent; and he appears to have reserved all the minuter touches of his pencil for the library, the chapel, and the banquetting-room of Timon. ‘Le savoir de notre siecle,’ says Rousseau, ’tend beaucoup plus a detruire qu’a edifier. On censure d’un ton de maitre; pour proposer, il en faut prendre un autre.’
It is the design of this Epistle to illustrate the virtue of True Taste; and to shew how little she requires to secure, not only the comforts, but even the elegancies of life. True Taste is an excellent Economist. She confines her choice to few objects, and delights in producing great effects by small means: while False Taste is for ever sighing after the new and the rare; and reminds us, in her works, of the Scholar of Apelles, who, not being able to paint his Helen beautiful, determined to make her fine.
An Invitation, v. 1. The approach to a Villa described, v. 5. Its situation, v. 17. Its few apartments, v. 57. Furnished with casts from the Antique, &c. v. 63. The dining-room, v. 83. The library, v. 89. A cold-bath, v. 101. A winter-walk, v. 151. A summer-walk, v. l63. The invitation renewed, v. 197. Conclusion, v. 205.
When, with a REAUMUR’S skill, thy curious mind
Has class’d the insect-tribes of human-kind,
Each with its busy hum, or gilded wing,
Its subtle, web-work, or its venom’d sting;
Let me, to claim a few unvalued hours,
Point the green lane that leads thro’ fern and flowers;
The shelter’d gate that opens to my field,
And the white front thro’ mingling elms reveal’d.
In vain, alas, a village-friend invites
To simple comforts, and domestic rites,
When the gay months of Carnival resume
Their annual round of glitter and perfume;
When London hails thee to its splendid mart,
Its hives of sweets, and cabinets of art;
And, lo, majestic as thy manly song,
Flows the full tide of human life along.
Still must my partial pencil love to dwell
On the home-prospects of my hermit cell;
The mossy pales that skirt the orchard-green,
Here hid by shrub-wood, there by glimpses seen;
And the brown pathway, that, with careless flow,
Sinks, and is lost among the trees below.
Still must it trace (the flattering tints forgive)
Each fleeting charm that bids the landscape live.
Oft o’er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass [a]
Browsing the hedge by fits the pannier’d ass;
The idling shepherd-boy, with rude delight,
Whistling his dog to mark the pebble’s flight;
And in her kerchief blue the cottage-maid,
With brimming pitcher from the shadowy glade.
Far to the south a mountain-vale retires,
Rich in its groves, and glens, and village-spires;
Its upland lawns, and cliffs with foliage hung,
Its wizard-stream, nor nameless nor unsung:
And thro’ the various year, the various day, [b]
What scenes of glory burst, and melt away!
When April-verdure springs in Grosvenor-square,
And the furr’d Beauty comes to winter there,
She bids old Nature mar the plan no more;
Yet still the seasons circle as before.
Ah, still as soon the young Aurora plays,
Tho’ moons and flambeaux trail their broadest
[Footnote 1: —apis Matinae
Grata carpentis thyma—— HOR.]
[Footnote 2: Postea vero quam Tyrannio mihi libros disposuit, mens addita videtur meis aedibus. CIC.]
[Footnote 3: Ingenium, sibi quod vacuas desumsit Athenas, Et studiis annos septem dedit, insenuitque Libris et curis, statua taciturnius exit Plerumque—— HOR.]
[Footnote 4: Fallacem circum, vespertinumque pererro Saepe forum. HOR.]
[Footnote 5: Tantot, un livre en main, errantdans les preries— BOILEAU.]
[Footnote 6: ——dapes inemtas. HOR.]
[Footnote 7: Innocuas amo delicias doctamque quietem.]
Oft o’er the mead, at pleasing distance, pass
Cosmo of Medicis took most pleasure in his Apennine villa, because all that he commanded from its windows was exclusively his own. How unlike the wise Athenian, who, when he had a farm to sell, directed the cryer to proclaim, as its best recommendation, that it had a good neighbourhood. PLUT. in Vit. Themist.
And, thro’ the various year, the various day,
Horace commends the house, ‘longos quae prospicit agros.’ Distant views contain the greatest variety, both in themselves, and in their accidental variations. GILPIN.
Small change of scene, small space his home requires,
Many a great man, in passing through the apartments of his palace, has made the melancholy reflection of the venerable Cosmo: “Questa e troppo gran casa a si poco famiglia.” MACH. Ist. Fior. lib. vii.
“Parva, sed apta mihi,” was Ariosto’s inscription over his door in Ferrara; and who can wish to say more?
“I confess,” says Cowley, “I love littleness almost in all things. A little convenient estate, a little cheerful house, a little company, and a very little feast.” Essay vi.
When Socrates was asked why he had built for himself so small a house, “Small as it is,” he replied, “I wish I could fill it with friends.” PHAEDRUS, 1. iii. 9.
These indeed are all that a wise man would desire to assemble; “for a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.” BACON’S Essays, xxvii.
From every point a ray of genius flows!
By this means, when all nature wears a lowering countenance, I withdraw myself into the visionary worlds of art; where I meet with shining landscapes, gilded triumphs, beautiful faces, and all those other objects that fill the mind with gay ideas, &c. ADDISON.
It is remarkable that Antony, in his adversity, passed some time in a small but splendid retreat, which he called his Timonium, and from which might originate the idea of the Parisian Boudoir, that favourite apartment, ou I’on se retire pour etre seul, mais ou l’on ne boude point. STRABO, 1. xvii. PLUT, in Vit. Anton.
At GUIDO’S call, &c.
Alluding to his celebrated fresco in the Rospigliosi Palace at Rome.
And still the Few best lov’d and most rever’d
The dining-room is dedicated to Conviviality; or, as Cicero somewhere expresses it, “Communitati vitae atque victus.” There we wish most for the society of our friends; and, perhaps, in their absence, most require their portraits.
The moral advantages of this furniture may be illustrated by the pretty story of an Athenian courtezan, “who, in the midst of a riotous banquet with her lovers, accidentally cast her eye on the portrait of a philosopher, that hung opposite to her seat: the happy character of temperance and virtue struck her with so lively an image of her own unworthiness, that she instantly quitted the room; and, retiring home, became ever after an example of temperance, as she had been before of debauchery.”
Read antient looks, or woo inspiring dreams;
The reader will here remember that passage of Horace, Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, &c which was inscribed by Lord Chesterfield on the frieze of his library.
And, when a sage’s lust arrests then there,
Siquidem non solum ex auro argentove, aut certe ex aere in bibliothecis dicantur illi, quorum immortales animae in iisdem locis ibi loquuntur: quinimo etiam quae non sunt, finguntur, pariuntque desideria non traditi vultus, sicut in Homero evenit. Quo majus (ut equidem arbitror) nullum est felicitatis specimen, quam semper omnes scire cupere, qualis fuerit aliquis. PLIN. Nat. Hist.
Cicero speaks with pleasure of a little seat under Aristotle in the library of Atticus. “Literis sustentor et recreor; maloque in illa tua sedecula, quam habes sub imagine Aristotelis, sedere, quam in istorum sella curuli!” Ep. ad Att. iv. 10.
Nor should we forget that Dryden drew inspiration from the “majestic face” of Shakespeare; and that a portrait of Newton was the only ornament of the closet of Buffon. Ep. to Kneller. Voyage a Montbart.
In the chamber of a man of genius we
Write all down:
Such and such pictures;—there the window;
.....the arras, figures,
Why, such and such. CYMBELINE.
Which gathers round the Wise of every Tongue,
Quis tantis non gaudeat et glorietur hospitibus, exclaims Petrarch. —Spectare, etsi nihil aliud, certe juvat.—Homerus apud me mutus, imo vero ego apud illum surdus sum. Gaudeo tamen vel aspectu solo, et saepe ilium amplexus ac suspirans dico: O magne vir, &c.
Epist. Var. Lib. 20.
Like those blest Youths,
See the Legend of the Seven Sleepers. GIBBON, c. 33.
Catch the blest accents of the wise and great.
Mr. Pope delights in enumerating his illustrious guests. Nor is this an exclusive privilege of the poet. The Medici Palace at Florence exhibits a long and imposing catalogue. “Semper hi parietes columnaeque eruditis vocibus resonuerunt.”
Another is also preserved at Chanteloup, the seat
of the Duke of
Sheds, like an evening-star, its ray serene,
At a Roman supper statues were sometimes employed to hold the lamps.
—Aurea sunt juvenum simulacra per aedeis,
Lampadas igniferas manibus retinentia dextris.
LUCR. ii. 24.
A fashion as old as Homer! Odyss. vii. 100.
On the proper degree and distribution of light we may consult a great master of effect. Il lume grande, ed alto, e non troppo potente, sara quello, che rendera le particole de’ corpi molto grate. Tratt. della Pittura di LIONARDO DA VINCI, c. xli.
Hence every artist requires a broad and high light. Hence also, in a banquet-scene, the most picturesque of all poets has thrown his light from the ceiling. AEn. i. 726.
And hence the “starry lamps” of Milton,
....from the arched roof
Pendent by subtle magic,....
As from a sky. Paradise Lost, i. 726.
Beyond the triumphs of a Loriot’s art.
At the petits soupes of Choisy were first introduced those admirable pieces of mechanism, afterwards carried to perfection by Loriot, the Confidente and the Servante; a table and a side-board, which descended, and rose again covered with viands and wines. And thus the most luxurious Court in Europe, after all its boasted refinements, was glad to return at last, by this singular contrivance, to the quiet and privacy of humble life. Vie privee de Louis XV. tom. ii. p. 43.
So thro’ the vales of Loire the bee-hives glide,
An allusion to the floating bee-house, or barge laden with bee-hives, which is seen in some parts of France and Piedmont.
And, with the swallow, wings the year away!
It was the boast of Lucullus that he changed his climate with the birds of passage. PLUT. in Vit. Lucull.
How often must he have felt the truth here inculcated, that the master of many houses has no home!
ODE TO SUPERSTITION. [Footnote 1]
Hence, to the realms of Night, dire Demon, hence!
Thy chain of adamant can bind
That little world, the human mind,
And sink its noblest powers to impotence.
Wake the lion’s loudest roar,
Clot his shaggy mane with gore,
With flashing fury bid his eye-balls shine;
Meek is his savage, sullen soul, to thine!
Thy touch, thy deadening touch has steel’d the breast, [Footnote 2]
Whence, thro’ her April-shower, soft Pity smil’d;
Has clos’d the heart each godlike virtue bless’d,
To all the silent pleadings of his child.
At thy command he plants the dagger deep,
At thy command exults, tho’ Nature bids him weep!
When, with a frown that froze the peopled earth, [Footnote
Thou dartedst thy huge head from high,
Night wav’d her banners o’er the sky,
And, brooding, gave her shapeless shadows birth.
Rocking on the billowy air,
Ha! what withering phantoms glare!
As blows the blast with many a sudden swell,
At each dead pause, what shrill-ton’d voices yell!
The sheeted spectre, rising from the tomb,
Points at the murderer’s stab, and shudders by;
In every grove is felt a heavier gloom,
That veils its genius from the vulgar eye:
The spirit of the water rides the storm,
And, thro’ the mist, reveals the terrors of his form.
O’er solid seas, where Winter reigns,
And holds each mountain-wave in chains,
The fur-clad savage, ere he guides his deer [Footnote 4]
By glistering star-light thro’ the snow,
Breathes softly in her wondering ear
Each potent spell thou bad’st him know.
By thee inspir’d, on India’s sands, [Footnote 5]
Full in the sun the Bramin stands;
And, while the panting tigress hies
To quench her fever in the stream,
His spirit laughs in agonies, [Footnote 6]
Smit by the scorchings of the noontide beam.
Mark who mounts the sacred pyre,
Blooming in her bridal vest:
She hurls the torch! she fans the fire!
To die is to be blest: [Footnote 7]
She clasps her lord to part no more,
And, sighing, sinks! but sinks to soar.
O’ershadowing Scotia’s desert coast,
The Sisters sail in dusky state, [Footnote 8]
And, wrapt in clouds, in tempests tost,
Weave the airy web of fate;
While the lone shepherd, near the shipless main, [Footnote 9]
Sees o’er her hills advance the long-drawn funeral train,
Thou spak’st, and lo! a new creation
Each unhewn mass of living stone
Was clad in horrors not its own,
And at its base the trembling nations bow’d.
Giant Error, darkly grand,
Grasp’d the globe with iron hand.
Circled with seats of bliss, the Lord of Light
Saw prostrate worlds adore his golden height.
The statue, waking with immortal powers, [Footnote 10]
Springs from its parent earth, and shakes the spheres;
The indignant pyramid sublimely towers,
And braves the efforts of a host of years.
Sweet Music breathes her soul into the wind;
And bright-ey’d Painting stamps the image of the mind.
Round their rude ark old Egypt’s
A timbrell’d anthem swells the gale,
And bids the God of Thunders hail; [Footnote 11]
With lowings loud the captive God replies.
Clouds of incense woo thy smile,
Scaly monarch of the Nile! [Footnote 12]
But ah! what myriads claim the bended knee? [Footnote 13]
On yon hoar
summit, mildly bright [Footnote 16]
With purple ether’s liquid light,
High o’er the world, the white-rob’d Magi gaze
On dazzling bursts of heavenly fire;
Start at each blue, portentous blaze,
Each flame that flits with adverse spire.
But say, what sounds my ear invade [Footnote 17]
From Delphi’s venerable shade?
The temple rocks, the laurel waves!
“The God! the God!” the Sybil cries.
Her figure swells! she foams, she raves!
Her figure swells to more than mortal size!
Streams of rapture roll along,
Silver notes ascend the skies:
Wake, Echo, wake and catch the song,
Oh catch it, ere it dies!
The Sybil speaks, the dream is o’er,
The holy harpings charm no more.
In vain she checks the God’s controul;
His madding spirit fills her frame,
And moulds the features of her soul,
Breathing a prophetic flame.
The cavern frowns; its hundred mouths unclose!
And, In the thunder’s voice, the fate of empire flows.
Mona, thy Druid-rites awake the dead!
Rites thy brown oaks would never dare
Ev’n whisper to the idle air;
Rites that have chain’d old Ocean on his bed.
Shiver’d by thy piercing glance,
Pointless falls the hero’s lance.
Thy magic bids the imperial eagle fly, [Footnote 18]
And blasts the laureate wreath of victory.
Hark, the bard’s soul inspires the vocal string!
At every pause dread Silence hovers o’er:
While murky Night sails round on raven-wing,
Deepening the tempest’s howl, the torrent’s roar;
Chas’d by the morn from Snowdon’s awful brow,
Where late she sate and scowl’d on the black wave below.
Lo, steel-clad War his gorgeous standard
The red-cross squadrons madly rage, [Footnote 19]
And mow thro’ infancy and age:
Then kiss the sacred dust and melt in tears.
Veiling from the eye of day,
Penance dreams her life away;
In cloister’d solitude she sits and sighs,
While from each shrine still, small responses rise.
Hear, with what heart-felt beat, the midnight bell
Swings its slow summons thro’ the hollow pile!
The weak, wan votarist leaves her twilight cell,
To walk, with taper dim, the winding isle;
With choral chantings vainly to aspire,
Beyond this nether sphere, on Rapture’s wing of fire.
Lord of each pang the nerves can feel,
Hence, with the rack and reeking wheel.
Faith lifts the soul above this little ball!
While gleams of glory open round,
And circling choirs of angels call,
Can’st thou, with all thy terrors crown’d,
Hope to obscure that latent spark,
Destin’d to shine when suns are dark?
Thy triumphs cease! thro’ every land,
Hark! Truth proclaims, thy triumphs cease:
Her heavenly form, with glowing hand,
Benignly points to piety and peace.
Flush’d with youth her looks impart
Each fine feeling as it flows;
Her voice the echo of her heart,
Pure as the mountain-snows:
Celestial transports round her play,
And softly, sweetly die away.
She smiles! and where is now the cloud
That blacken’d o’er thy baleful reign?
Grim darkness furls his leaden shroud,
Shrinking from her glance in vain.
Her touch unlocks the day-spring from above,
And lo! it visits man with beams of light and love.
[Footnote 1: Written in the year 1784.]
[Footnote 2: An allusion to the sacrifice of Iphigenia.]
[Footnote 3: Lucretius, I. 63.]
[Footnote 4: When we were ready to set out, our host muttered some words in the ears of our cattle. See a Voyage to the North of Europe in 1653.]
[Footnote 5: The Bramins expose their bodies to the intense heat of the sun.]
[Footnote 6: Ridens moriar. The conclusion of an old Runic ode.]
[Footnote 7: In the Bedas, or sacred writings of the Hindoos, it is written: “She, who dies with her husband, shall live for ever with him in heaven.”]
[Footnote 8: The Fates of the Northern Mythology. See MALLET’S Antiquities.]
[Footnote 9: An allusion to the Second Sight.]
[Footnote 10: See that fine description of the sudden animation of the Palladium in the second book of the AEneid.]
[Footnote 11: The bull, Apis.]
[Footnote 12: The Crocodile.]
[Footnote 13: So numerous were the Deities of Egypt, that, according to an antient proverb, it was in that country less difficult to find a god than a man.]
[Footnote 14: The Hieroglyphics].
[Footnote 15: The Catacombs, in which the bodies of the earliest generations yet remain without corruption, by virtue of the gums that embalmed them.]
[Footnote 16: “The Persians,” says Herodotus, “reject the use of temples, altars, and statues. The tops of the highest mountains are the places chosen for sacrifices.” I. 131. The elements, and more particularly Fire, were the objects of their religious reverence.]
[Footnote 17: An imitation of some wonderful lines in the sixth AEneid.]
[Footnote 18: See Tacitus, 1. xiv. c. 29.]
[Footnote 19: This remarkable event happened at the siege and sack of Jerusalem, in the last year of the eleventh century. Hume, I.221.]
WRITTEN TO BE SPOKEN BY
MRS. SIDDONS. [Footnote]
Yes, ’tis the pulse of life! my fears were vain!
I wake, I breathe, and am myself again.
Still in this nether world; no seraph yet!
Nor walks my spirit, when the sun is set,
With troubled step to haunt the fatal board,
Where I died last—by poison or the sword;
Blanching each honest cheek with deeds of night,
Done here so oft by dim and doubtful light.
—To drop all metaphor, that little bell
Call’d back reality, and broke the spell.
No heroine claims your tears with tragic tone;
A very woman—scarce restrains her own!
Can she, with fiction, charm the cheated mind,
When to be grateful is the part assign’d?
Ah, No! she scorns the trappings of her Art;
No theme but truth, no prompter but the heart!
But, Ladies, say, must I alone unmask?
Is here no other actress? let me ask.
Believe me, those, who best the heart dissect,
Know every Woman studies stage-effect.
She moulds her manners to the part she, fills,
As Instinct teaches, or as Humour wills;
And, as the grave or gay her talent calls,
Acts in the drama, till the curtain falls.
First, how her little breast with triumph swells,
When the red coral rings its golden bells!
To play in pantomime is then the rage,
Along the carpet’s many-colour’d stage;
Or lisp her merry thoughts with loud endeavour,
Now here, now there—in noise and mischief ever!
A school-girl next, she curls her hair in papers,
And mimics father’s gout, and mother’s vapours;
Discards her doll, bribes Betty for romances;
Playful at church, and serious when she dances;
Tramples alike on customs and on toes,
And whispers all she hears to all she knows;
Terror of caps, and wigs, and sober notions!
A romp! that longest of perpetual motions!
—Till tam’d and tortur’d into foreign graces,
She sports her lovely face at public places;
And with blue, laughing eyes, behind her fan,
First acts her part with that great actor, MAN.
Too soon a flirt, approach her and she flies!
Frowns when pursued, and, when entreated, sighs!
Plays with unhappy men as cats with mice;
Till fading beauty hints the late advice.
Her prudence dictates what her pride disdain’d,
And now she sues to slaves herself had chain’d!
Then comes that good old character, a Wife,
With all the dear, distracting cares of life;
A thousand cards a day at doors to leave,
And, in return, a thousand cards receive;
Rouge high, play deep, to lead the ton aspire,
With nightly blaze set PORTLAND-PLACE on fire;
Snatch half a glimpse at Concert, Opera, Ball,
A Meteor, trac’d by none, tho’ seen by all;
And, when her shatter’d nerves forbid to roam,
In very spleen—rehearse the girls at home.
Last the grey Dowager, in antient flounces,
With snuff and spectacles the age denounces;
[Footnote: After a Tragedy, performed for her benefit, at the Theatre Royal in Drury-lane, April 27, 1795.]
To — — — — —
Go—you may call it madness, folly;
You shall not chase my gloom away.
There’s such a charm in melancholy,
I would not, if I could, be gay.
Oh, if you knew the pensive pleasure
That fills my bosom when I sigh,
You would not rob me of a treasure
Monarchs are too poor to buy.
The Sailor sighs as sinks his native shore,
As all its lessening turrets bluely fade;
He climbs the mast to feast his eye once more,
And busy Fancy fondly lends her aid.
Ah! now, each dear, domestic scene he knew,
Recall’d and cherish’d in a foreign clime,
Charms with the magic of a moonlight-view;
Its colours mellow’d, not impair’d, by time,
True as the needle, homeward points his heart,
Thro’ all the horrors of the stormy main;
This, the last wish that would with life depart,
To meet the smile of her he loves again.
When Morn first faintly draws her silver line,
Or Eve’s grey cloud descends to drink the wave;
When sea and sky in midnight darkness join,
Still, still he views the parting look she gave.
Her gentle spirit, lightly hovering o’er,
Attends his little bark from pole to pole;
And, when the beating billows round him roar,
Whispers sweet hope to sooth his troubled soul.
Carv’d is her name in many a spicy grove,
In many a plaintain-forest, waving wide;
Where dusky youths in painted plumage rove,
And giant palms o’er-arch the golden tide.
But lo, at last he comes with crowded sail!
Lo, o’er the cliff what eager figures bend!
And hark, what mingled murmurs swell the gale!
In each he hears the welcome of a friend.
—’Tis she, ’tis she herself!
she waves her hand!
Soon is the anchor cast, the canvass furl’d;
Soon thro’ the whitening surge he springs to land,
And clasps the maid he singled from the world.
Immota manet; multosque nepotes,
Multa virum volvens durando saecula, vincit. VIRG.
Round thee, alas, no shadows move!
From thee no sacred murmurs breathe!
Yet within thee, thyself a grove,
Once did the eagle scream above,
And the wolf howl beneath.
There once the steel-clad knight reclin’d,
His sable plumage tempest-toss’d;
And, as the death-bell smote the wind,
From towers long fled by human kind,
His brow the hero cross’d!
Then Culture came, and days serene,
And village-sports, and garlands gay.
Full many a pathway cross’d the green;
And maids and shepherd-youths were seen,
To celebrate the May.
Father of many a forest deep,
(Whence many a navy thunder-fraught)
Erst in their acorn-cells asleep,
Soon destin’d o’er the world to sweep,
Opening new spheres of thought!
Wont in the night of woods to dwell,
The holy druid saw thee rise;
And, planting there the guardian-spell,
Sung forth, the dreadful pomp to swell
Of human sacrifice!
Thy singed top and branches bare
Now straggle in the evening sky;
And the wan moon wheels round to glare
On the long corse that shivers there
Of him who came to die!
Dear is that valley to the murmuring bees.
The small birds build there; and, at summer-noon,
Oft have I heard a child, gay among flowers,
As in the shining grass she sate conceal’d,
Sing to herself.
* * * * *
There is a streamlet issuing from a rock.
The village-girls, singing wild madrigals,
Dip their white vestments in its waters clear,
And hang them to the sun. There first I saw her.
Her dark and eloquent eyes, mild, full of fire,
’Twas heav’n to look upon; and her sweet voice,
As tuneable as harp of many strings,
At once spoke joy and sadness to my soul!
TWO SISTERS. [Footnote]
Well may you sit within, and, fond of grief,
Look in each other’s face, and melt in tears.
Well may you shun all counsel, all relief.
Oh she was great in mind, tho’ young in years!
Chang’d is that lovely countenance, which shed
Light when she spoke; and kindled sweet surprise,
As o’er her frame each warm emotion spread,
Play’d round her lips, and sparkled in her eyes.
Those lips so pure, that mov’d but to persuade,
Still to the last enliven’d and endear’d.
Those eyes at once her secret soul convey’d,
And ever beam’d delight when you appear’d.
Yet has she fled the life of bliss below,
That youthful Hope in bright perspective drew?
False were the tints! false as the feverish glow
That o’er her burning cheek Distemper threw!
And now in joy she dwells, in glory moves!
(Glory and joy reserv’d for you to share.)
Far, far more blest in blessing those she loves,
Than they, alas! unconscious of her care.
[Footnote: On the death of a younger sister.]
While thro’ the broken pane the tempest sighs,
And my step falters on the faithless floor,
Shades of departed joys around me rise,
With many a face that smiles on me no more;
With many a voice that thrills of transport gave,
Now silent as the grass that tufts their grave!
Oh! that the Chemist’s magic art
Could crystallize this sacred treasure!
Long should it glitter near my heart,
A secret source of pensive pleasure.
The little brilliant, ere it fell,
Its lustre caught from CHLOE’S eye;
Then, trembling, left its coral cell—
The spring of Sensibility!
Sweet drop of pure and pearly light!
In thee the rays of Virtue shine;
More calmly clear, more mildly bright,
Than any gem that gilds the mine.
Benign restorer of the soul!
Who ever fly’st to bring relief,
When first we feel the rude controul
Of Love or Pity, Joy or Grief.
The sage’s and the poet’s theme,
In every clime, in every age;
Thou charm’st in Fancy’s idle dream,
In Reason’s philosophic page.
That very law [Footnote] which moulds a tear,
And bids it trickle from its source,
That law preserves the earth a sphere,
And guides the planets in their course.
[Footnote: The law of Gravitation.]
TO A VOICE THAT HAD BEEN LOST. [Footnote 1]
Vane, quid affectas faciem
mihi ponere, pictor?
Aeris et lingua sum filia;
Et, si vis similem pingere, pinge sonum. AUSONIUS.
Once more, Enchantress of the soul,
Once more we hail thy soft controul.
—Yet whither, whither did’st thou fly?
To what bright region of the sky?
Say, in what distant star to dwell?
(Of other worlds thou seemst to tell)
Or trembling, fluttering here below,
Resolv’d and unresolv’d to go,
In secret didst thou still impart
Thy raptures to the Pure in heart?
Perhaps to many a desert shore,
Thee, in his rage, the Tempest bore;
Thy broken murmurs swept along,
Mid Echoes yet untun’d by song;
Arrested in the realms of Frost,
[Footnote 1: In the winter of 1805.]
[Footnote 2: The late Mrs. Sheridan’s.]
While on the cliff with calm delight she kneels,
And the blue vales a thousand joys recall,
See, to the last, last verge her infant steals!
O fly—yet stir not, speak not, lest it fall.
Far better taught, she lays her bosom bare,
And the fond boy springs back to nestle there.
TO THE FRAGMENT OF
A STATUE OF HERCULES,
And dost thou still, thou mass of breathing stone,
(Thy giant limbs to night and chaos hurl’d)
Still sit as on the fragment of a world;
Surviving all, majestic and alone?
What tho’ the Spirits of the North, that swept
Rome from the earth, when in her pomp she slept,
Smote thee with fury, and thy headless trunk
Deep in the dust mid tower and temple sunk;
Soon to subdue mankind ’twas thine to rise.
Still, still unquell’d thy glorious energies!
Aspiring minds, with thee conversing, caught [Footnote 1]
Bright revelations of the Good they sought;
By thee that long-lost spell [Footnote 2] in secret given,
To draw down Gods, and lift the soul to Heav’n!
[Footnote 1: In the gardens of the Vatican, where it was placed by Julius II, it was long the favourite study of those great men, to whom we owe the revival of the arts, Michael Angelo, Raphael, and the Caracci.]
[Footnote 2: Once in the possession of Praxiteles, if we may believe an antient epigram on the Gnidian Venus. Analecta Vet. Poetarum, III. 200.]
TO ----- [Footnote]
Ah! little thought she, when, with wild delight,
By many a torrent’s shining track she flew,
When mountain-glens and caverns full of night
O’er her young mind divine enchantment threw,
That in her veins a secret horror slept,
That her light footsteps should be heard no more,
That she should die—nor watch’d, alas, nor wept
By thee, unconscious of the pangs she bore.
Yet round her couch indulgent Fancy drew
The kindred, forms her closing eye requir’d.
There didst thou stand—there, with the smile she knew.
She mov’d her lips to bless thee, and expir’d.
And now to thee she comes; still, still the same
As in the hours gone unregarded by!
To thee, how chang’d, comes as she ever came;
Health on her cheek, and pleasure in her eye!
Nor less, less oft, as on that day, appears,
When lingering, as prophetic of the truth,
By the way-side she shed her parting tears—
For ever lovely in the light of Youth?
[Footnote: On the death of her sister.]
There, in that bed so closely curtain’d round,
Worn to a shade, and wan with slow decay,
A father sleeps! Oh hush’d be every sound!
Soft may we breathe the midnight hours away!
He stirs—yet still he sleeps. May
Long o’er his smooth and settled pillow rise;
Till thro’ the shutter’d pane the morning streams,
And on the hearth the glimmering rush-light dies.
On thee, blest youth, a father’s hand confers
The maid thy earliest, fondest wishes knew.
Each soft enchantment of the soul is hers;
Thine be the joys to firm attachment due.
As on she moves with hesitating grace,
She wins assurance from his soothing voice;
And, with a look the pencil could not trace,
Smiles thro’ her blushes, and confirms the choice.
Spare the fine tremors of her feeling frame!
To thee she turns—forgive a virgin’s fears!
To thee she turns with surest, tenderest claim;
Weakness that charms, reluctance that endears!
At each response the sacred rite requires,
From her full bosom bursts the unbidden sigh.
A strange mysterious awe the scene inspires;
And on her lips the trembling accents die.
O’er her fair face what wild emotions play!
What lights and shades in sweet confusion blend!
Soon shall they fly, glad harbingers of day,
And settled sunshine on her soul descend!
Ah soon, thine own confest, ecstatic thought!
That hand shall strew thy summer-path with flowers;
And those blue eyes, with mildest lustre fraught,
Gild the calm current of domestic hours!
The sun-beams streak the azure skies,
And line with light the mountain’s brow:
With hounds and horns the hunters rise,
And chase the roebuck thro’ the snow.
From rock to rock, with giant-bound,
High on their iron poles they pass;
Mute, lest the air, convuls’d by sound,
Rend from above a frozen mass. [Footnote]
The goats wind slow their wonted way,
Up craggy steeps and ridges rude;
Mark’d by the wild wolf for his prey,
From desert cave or hanging wood.
And while the torrent thunders loud,
And as the echoing cliffs reply,
The huts peep o’er the morning-cloud,
Perch’d, like an eagle’s nest, on high.
[Footnote: There are passes in the Alps, where the guides tell you to move on with speed, and say nothing, lest the agitation of the air should loosen the snows above. GRAY’S MEM. sect. v. lett.4.]
IMITATION OF AN ITALIAN SONNET [Footnote]
Love, under Friendship’s vesture white,
Laughs, his little limbs concealing;
And oft in sport, and oft in spite,
Like Pity meets the dazzled sight,
Smiles thro’ his tears revealing.
But now as Rage the God appears!
He frowns, and tempests shake his frame!—
Frowning, or smiling, or in tears,
’Tis Love; and Love is still the same.
[Footnote: See Gray’s Mem. sect. II. lett. 30.]
Sleep on, and dream of Heav’n awhile.
Tho’ shut so close thy laughing eyes,
Thy rosy lips still seem to smile,
And move, and breathe delicious sighs!—
Ah, now soft blushes tinge her cheeks,
And mantle o’er her neck of snow.
Ah, now she murmurs, now she speaks
What most I wish—and fear to know.
She starts, she trembles, and she weeps!
Her fair hands folded on her breast.
—And now, how like a saint she sleeps!
A seraph in the realms of rest!
Sleep on secure! Above controul,
Thy thoughts belong to Heav’n and thee!
And may the secret of thy soul
Repose within its sanctuary!
Ah! why with tell-tale tongue reveal [Footnote]
What most her blushes would conceal?
Why lift that modest veil to trace
The seraph-sweetness of her face?
Some fairer, better sport prefer;
And feel for us, if not for her.
For this presumption, soon or late,
Know thine shall be a kindred fate.
Another shall in vengeance rise—
Sing Harriet’s cheeks, and Harriet’s eyes;
And, echoing back her wood-notes wild,
—Trace all the mother in the child!
[Footnote: Alluding to some verses which she had written on an elder sister.]
ON A ROBIN REDBREAST.
Tread lightly here, for here, ’tis said,
When piping winds are hush’d around,
A small note wakes from underground,
Where now his tiny bones are laid.
No more in lone and leafless groves,
With ruffled wing and faded breast,
His friendless, homeless spirit roves;
—Gone to the world where birds are blest!
Where never cat glides o’er the green,
Or school-boy’s giant form is seen;
But Love, and Joy, and smiling Spring
Inspire their little souls to sing!
[Footnote: Inscribed on an urn in the flower-garden at Hafod.]
Mine be a cot beside the hill,
A bee-hive’s hum shall sooth my ear;
A willowy brook, that turns a mill,
With many a fall shall linger near.
The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch,
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivy’d porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.
The village-church, among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were giv’n,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze,
And point with taper spire to heav’n.
Dear is my little native vale,
The ring-dove builds and murmurs there;
Close by my cot she tells her tale
To every passing villager.
The squirrel leaps from tree to tree,
And shells his nuts at liberty.
In orange-groves and myrtle-bowers,
That breathe a gale of fragrance round,
I charm the fairy-footed hours
With my lov’d lute’s romantic sound;
Or crowns of living laurel weave,
For those that win the race at eve.
The shepherd’s horn at break of day,
The ballet danc’d in twilight glade,
The canzonet and roundelay
Sung in the silent green-wood shade;
These simple joys, that never fail,
Shall bind me to my native vale.
When by the green-wood side, at summer eve,
Poetic visions charm my closing eye;
And fairy-scenes, that Fancy loves to weave,
Shift to wild notes of sweetest Minstrelsy;
’Tis thine to range in busy quest of prey,
Thy feathery antlers quivering with delight,
Brush from my lids the hues of heav’n away,
And all is Solitude, and all is Night!
—Ah now thy barbed shaft, relentless fly,
Unsheaths its terrors in the sultry air!
No guardian sylph, in golden panoply,
Lifts the broad shield, and points the glittering spear.
Now near and nearer rush thy whirring wings,
Thy dragon-scales still wet with human gore.
Hark, thy shrill horn its fearful laram flings!
—I wake in horror, and ‘dare sleep no more!’
Shepherd, or Huntsman, or worn Mariner,
Whate’er thou art, who wouldst allay thy thirst,
Drink and be glad. This cistern of white stone,
Arch’d, and o’erwrought with many a sacred verse,
This iron cup chain’d for the general use,
And these rude seats of earth within the grove,
Were giv’n by FATIMA. Borne hence a bride,
’Twas here she turn’d from her beloved sire,
To see his face no more. [Footnote 1] Oh, if thou canst,
(’Tis not far off) visit his tomb with flowers;
And may some pious hand with water fill
The two small cells scoop’d in the marble there,
That birds may come and drink upon his grave,
Making it holy! [Footnote 2] ---------
[Footnote 1: See an anecdote related by Pausanias. iii. 20.]
[Footnote 2: A Turkish superstition. See Clarke’s Travels, I. 546.]
Caged in old woods, whose reverend echoes wake
When the hern screams along the distant lake,
Her little heart oft flutters to be free,
Oft sighs to turn the unrelenting key.
In vain! the nurse that rusted relic wears,
Nor mov’d by gold—nor to be mov’d by tears;
And terraced walls their black reflection throw
On the green-mantled moat that sleeps below.
As thro’ the hedge-row shade the violet steals,
And the sweet air its modest leaf reveals;
Her softer charms, but by their influence known,
Surprise all hearts, and mould them to her own.
WRITTEN IN THE HIGHLANDS OF SCOTLAND, SEPTEMBER 1, 1812.
Blue was the loch, [Footnote 1] the clouds were gone,
Ben-Lomond in his glory shone,
When, Luss, I left thee; when the breeze
Bore me from thy silver sands,
Thy kirk-yard wall among the trees,
Where, grey with age, the dial stands;
That dial so well-known to me!
—Tho’ many a shadow it had shed,
Beloved Sister, since with thee
The legend on the stone was read.
The fairy-isles fled far away;
That with its woods and uplands green,
Where shepherd-huts are dimly seen,
And songs are heard at close of day;
That too, the deer’s wild covert, fled,
And that, the Asylum of the Dead:
While, as the boat went merrily,
Much of ROB ROY [Footnote 2] the boat-man told;
His arm that fell below his knee,
His cattle-ford and mountain-hold.
Tarbet, [Footnote 3] thy shore I climb’d at last,
And, thy shady region pass’d,
Upon another shore I stood,
And look’d upon another flood; [Footnote 4]
Great Ocean’s self! (’Tis He, who fills
That vast and awful depth of hills;)
Where many an elf was playing round,
Who treads unshod his classic ground;
And speaks, his native rocks among,
As FINGAL spoke, and OSSIAN sung.
Night fell; and dark and darker grew
That narrow sea, that narrow sky,
As o’er the glimmering waves we flew.
The sea-bird rustling, wailing by.
And now the grampus, half descried,
Black and huge above the tide;
The cliffs and promontories there,
Front to front, and broad and bare,
Each beyond each, with giant-feet
Advancing as in haste to meet;
The shatter’d fortress, whence the Dane
Blew his shrill blast, nor rush’d in vain,
Tyrant of the drear domain;
All into midnight-shadow sweep—
When day springs upward from the deep! [Footnote 5]
Kindling the waters in its flight,
The prow wakes splendour; and the oar,
That rose and fell unseen before,
Flashes in a sea of light!
Glad sign, and sure! for now we hail
Thy flowers, Glenfinart, in the gale;
And bright indeed the path should be,
That leads to Friendship and to Thee!
Oh blest retreat, and sacred too!
[Footnote 1: Loch-Lomond.]
[Footnote 2: A famous out-law.]
[Footnote 3: Signifying in the Erse language an Isthmus.]
[Footnote 4: Loch-Long.]
[Footnote 5: A phenomenon described by many navigators.]
Once more, enchanting girl, adieu!
I must be gone while yet I may,
Oft shall I weep to think of you;
But here I will not, cannot stay.
The sweet expression of that face.
For ever changing, yet the same,
Ah no, I dare not turn to trace.
It melts my soul, it fires my frame!
Yet give me, give me, ere I go,
One little lock of those so blest,
That lend your cheek a warmer glow,
And on your white neck love to rest.
—Say, when to kindle soft delight,
That hand has chanc’d with mine to meet,
How could its thrilling touch excite
A sigh so short, and yet so sweet?
O say—but no, it must not be.
Adieu! A long, a long adieu!
—Yet still, methinks, you frown on me;
Or never could I fly from you.
Child of the sun! pursue thy rapturous flight,
Mingling with her thou lov’st in fields of light;
And, where the flowers of paradise unfold,
Quaff fragrant nectar from their cups of gold.
There shall thy wings, rich as an evening-sky,
Expand and shut with silent ecstasy!
—Yet wert thou once a worm, a thing that crept
On the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept!
And such is man; soon from his cell of clay
To burst a seraph in the blaze of day!
VERSES WRITTEN IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY. [Footnote 1]
Whoe’er thou art, approach, and, with a sigh,
Mark where the small remains of Greatness lie.[Footnote 2]
There sleeps the dust of Him for ever gone;
How near the Scene where once his Glory shone!
And, tho’ no more ascends the voice of Prayer,
Tho’ the last footsteps cease to linger there,
Still, like an awful Dream that comes again,
Alas, at best, as transient and as vain,
Still do I see (while thro’ the vaults of night
The funeral-song once more proclaims the rite)
The moving Pomp along the shadowy Isle,
That, like a Darkness, fill’d the solemn Pile;
The illustrious line, that in long order led,
Of those that lov’d Him living, mourn’d Him dead;
Of those, the Few, that for their Country stood
Round Him who dar’d be singularly good;
All, of all ranks, that claim’d Him for their own;
And nothing wanting—but Himself alone!
[Footnote 1: After the Funeral of the Right Hon. CHARLES JAMES FOX on Friday, October 10,1806.]
[Footnote 2: Venez voir le peu qui nous reste de tant de grandeur, &c. Bossuet. Oraison funebre de Louis de Bourbon.]
[Footnote 3: Et rien enfin ne manque dans tons ces honneurs, que celui a qui on les rend.—Ibid.]
[Footnote 4: Alluding particularly to his speech on moving a new writ for the borough of Tavistock, March 16,1802.]
CHI SE’ TU, CHE
DA ME STESSO NON VEGNO.
I have seen the day,
The following Poem (or, to speak more properly, what remains of it [Footnote]) has here and there a lyrical turn of thought and expression. It is sudden in its transitions, and full of historical allusions; leaving much to be imagined by the reader.
The subject is a voyage the most memorable in the annals of mankind. Columbus was a person of extraordinary virtue and piety, acting under the sense of a divine impulse; and his achievement the discovery of a New World, the inhabitants of which were shut out from the light of Revelation, and given up, as they believed, to the dominion of malignant spirits.
Many of the incidents will now be thought extravagant; yet they were once perhaps received with something more than indulgence. It was an age of miracles; and who can say that among the venerable legends in the library of the Escurial, or the more authentic records which fill the great chamber in the Archivo of Simancas, and which relate entirely to the deep tragedy of America, there are no volumes that mention the marvellous things here described? Indeed the story, as already told throughout Europe, admits of no heightening. Such was the religious enthusiasm of the early writers, that the Author had only to transfuse it into his verse; and he appears to have done little more; though some of the circumstances, which he alludes to as well-known, have long ceased to be so. By using the language of that day, he has called up Columbus ‘in his habit as he lived;’ and the authorities, such as exist, are carefully given by the translator.
[Footnote: The Original in the Castilian language, according to the Inscription that fellows, was found among other MSS. in an old religious house near Palos, situated on an island formed by the river Tinto, and dedicated to our Lady of Rabida. The Writer describes himself as having sailed with Columbus; but his style and manner are evidently of an after-time.]
Unclasp me, Stranger; and unfold,
With trembling care, my leaves of gold
Rich in gothic portraiture—
If yet, alas, a leaf endure.
In RABIDA’S monastic fane
I cannot ask, and ask in vain.
The language of CASTILE I speak;
Mid many an Arab, many a Greek,
Old in the days of CHARLEMAIN;
When minstrel-music wander’ round,
And Science, waking, bless’ the sound.
No earthly thought has here a place;
The cowl let down on every face.
Yet here, in consecrated dust,
Here would I sleep, if sleep I must.
From GENOA when COLUMBUS came,
(At once her glory and her shame)
’Was here he caught the holy flame.
’Twas here the generous vow he made;
His banners on the altar laid.—
One hallow’d morn, methought,
I felt As if a soul within me dwelt!
But who arose and gave to me
The sacred trust I keep for thee,
And in his cell at even-tide
Knelt before the cross and died—
Inquire not now. His name no more
Glimmers on the chancel-floor,
Near the lights that ever shine
Before ST. MARY’S blessed shrine.
To me one little hour devote,
And lay thy staff and scrip beside thee;
Read in the temper that he wrote,
And may his gentle spirit guide thee!
My leaves forsake me, one by one;
The book-worm thro’ and thro’ has gone.
Oh haste—unclasp me, and unfold;
The tale within was never told!
Columbus, having wandered from kingdom to kingdom, at length obtains three ships and sets sail on the Atlantic. The compass alters from its antient direction; the wind becomes constant and unremitting; night and day he advances, till he is suddenly stopped in his course by a mass of vegetation, extending as far as the eye can reach, and assuming the appearance of a country overwhelmed by the sea. Alarm and despondence on board. He resigns himself to the care of Heaven, and proceeds on his voyage; while columns of water move along in his path before him.
Meanwhile the deities of America assemble in council; and one of the Zemi, the gods of the islanders, announces his approach. “In vain,” says he, “have we guarded the Atlantic for ages. A mortal has baffled our power; nor will our votaries arm against him. Yours are a sterner race. Hence; and, while we have recourse to stratagem, do you array the nations round your altars, and prepare for an exterminating war.” They disperse while he is yet speaking; and, in the shape of a condor, he directs his flight to the fleet. His journey described. He arrives there. A panic. A mutiny. Columbus restores order; continues on his voyage; and lands in a New World. Ceremonies of the first interview. Rites of hospitality. The ghost of Cazziva.
Two months pass away, and an Angel, appearing in a dream to Columbus, thus addresses him: “Return to Europe; though your Adversaries, such is the will of Heaven, shall let loose the hurricane against you. A little while shall they triumph; insinuating themselves into the hearts of your followers, and making the World, which you came to bless, a scene of blood and slaughter. Yet is there cause for rejoicing. Your work is done. The cross of Christ is planted here; and, in due time, all things shall be made perfect!"_
Night—Columbus on the Atlantic—the variation of the compass, &c.
Say who first pass’d the portals of the West,
And the great Secret of the Deep possess’d;
Who first the standard of his Faith unfurl’d
On the dread confines of an unknown World;
Sung ere his coming [a]—and by Heav’n design’d
To lift the veil that cover’d half mankind! [b]—
’Twas night. The Moon, o’er the wide wave, disclos’d
Her awful face; and Nature’s self repos’d;
When, slowly rising in the azure sky,
Three white sails shone—but to no mortal eye.
Entering a boundless sea. In slumber cast,
The very ship-boy, on the dizzy mast,
Half breath’d his orisons! Alone unchang’d,
Calmly, beneath, the great Commander rang’d, [c]
Thoughtful not sad; and, as the planet grew,
His noble form, wrapt in his mantle blue,
Athwart the deck a solemn shadow threw.
“Thee hath it pleas’d—Thy will be done!” he said, [d]
Then sought his cabin; and, their capas [Footnote 1] spread,
Around him lay the sleeping as the dead,
When, by his lamp, to that mysterious Guide,
[Footnote 1: The capa is the Spanish cloak.]
[Footnote 2: Herrera, dec. I. lib. i. c. 9.]
[Footnote 3: Rev. xix. 17.]
The Voyage continued.
“What vast foundations in the Abyss are there,
As of a former world? [Footnote 1] Is it not where
ATLANTIC kings their barbarous pomp display’d; [k]
Sunk into darkness with the realms they sway’d,
When towers and temples, thro’ the closing wave, [l]
A glimmering ray of antient splendour gave—
And we shall rest with them. Arise, behold,
- — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
We stop to stir no more...nor will the tale be told.”
The pilot smote his breast; the watch-man cried
“Land!” and his voice in faltering accents died. [m]
At once the fury of the prow was quell’d;
And (whence or why from many an age withheld) [Footnote 2]
Shrieks, not of men, were mingling in the blast;
And armed shapes of god-like stature pass’d!
Slowly along the evening sky they went,
As on the edge of some vast battlement;
Helmet and shield, and spear and gonfalon
Streaming a baleful light that was not of the sun!
Long from the stern the great Adventurer gaz’d
With awe not fear; then high his hands he rais’d.
“Thou All-supreme—–in goodness as in power,
Who, from his birth to this eventful hour,
Hast led thy servant [Footnote 3] over land and sea,
Confessing Thee in all, and all in Thee,
Oh still”—He spoke, and lo, the charm accurst
Fled whence it came, and the broad barrier burst!
A vain illusion! (such as mocks the eyes
Of fearful men, when mountains round them rise
From less than nothing [Footnote 4]) nothing now beheld,
But scatter’d sedge—repelling, and repell’d!
And once again that valiant company
Right onward came, ploughing the Unknown Sea.
Already borne beyond the range of thought,
With Light divine, with Truth immortal fraught,
From world to world their steady course they keep, [Footnote 5]
Swift as the winds along the waters sweep,
Mid the mute nations of the purple deep.
—And now the sound of harpy-wings they hear;
Now less and less, as vanishing in fear!
And, see, the heav’ns bow down, the waters rise.
And, rising, shoot in columns to the skies, [Footnote 6]
That stand—and still, when they proceed, retire,
As in the Desert burn’d the sacred fire; [Footnote 7]
Moving in silent majesty, till Night
Descends, and shuts the vision from their sight.
[Footnote 1: In like manner the companions of Ulysses utter their thoughts without reserve. Od. X.]
[Footnote 2: The author seems to have anticipated his long slumber in the library of the Fathers.]
[Footnote 3: ’They may give me what name they please. I am servant of Him, &c.’ F. Columbus, c 2.]
[Footnote 4: Isaiah xl. 17.]
[Footnote 5: As St. Christopher carried Christ over the deep waters, so Columbus went over safe, himself and his company.—F. Col. c. 1.]
[Footnote 6: Water-spouts. See Edwards’s Hist. of the West Indies. I. 12. Note.]
[Footnote 7: Exod. xiii. 21.]
An Assembly of Evil Spirits.
Tho’ chang’d my cloth of gold for amice
In my spring-time, when every month was May,
With hawk and hound I cours’d away the hour,
Or sung my roundelay in lady’s bower.
And tho’ my world be now a narrow cell,
(Renounc’d for ever all I lov’d so well)
Tho’ now my head be bald, my feet be bare,
And scarce my knees sustain my book of prayer,
Oh I was there, one of that gallant crew,
And saw—and wonder’d whence his Power He drew,
Yet little thought, tho’ by his side I stood,
Of his great Foes in earth and air and flood,
Then uninstructed.—But my sand is run,
And the Night coming—–and my Task not done!—
’Twas in the deep, immeasurable cave
Of ANDES, echoing to the Southern wave, [o]
Mid pillars of Basalt, the work of fire,
That, giant-like, to upper day aspire,
’Twas there that now, as wont in heav’n
“Prepare, again prepare,”
Thus o’er the soul the thrilling accents’ came,
“Thrones to resign for lakes of living flame,
And triumph for despair.
He, on whose call afflicting thunders wait,
Has will’d it; and his will is fate!
In vain the legions, emulous to save,
Hung in the tempest o’er the troubled main; [r]
Turn’d each presumptuous prow that broke the wave,
And dash’d it on its shores again.
All is fulfill’d! Behold, in close array,
What mighty banners stream in the bright track of day!”
“No voice, as erst, shall in the desert rise;
Nor antient, dread solemnities
With scorn of death the trembling tribes inspire.
Wreaths for the Conqueror’s brow the victims bind!
Yet, tho’ we fled yon firmament of fire,
Still shall we fly, all hope of rule resign’d?”
* * * * *
* * * * *
He’ spoke; and all was silence, all was night! [s]
Each had already wing’d his formidable flight.
[Footnote 1: Gods, yet confess’d later.—Milton.——Ils ne laissent pas d’en etre les esclaves, & de les honorer plus que le grand Esprit, qui de sa nature est bon.—Lafitau.]
[Footnote 2: La plupart de ces isles ne sont en effet que des pointes de montagnes; et la mer, qui est au-dela, est une vraie mer Mediterranee. Buffon.]
[Footnote 3: Alluding to the oracles of the Islanders, so soon to become silent: and particularly to a prophecy, delivered down from their ancestors, and sung with loud lamentations (Petr. Martyr, dec. 3. lib. 7) at their solemn festivals (Herrera. I. iii. 4) that the country would be laid waste on the arrival of strangers, completely clad, from a region near the rising of the sun. Ibid. II. S. 2. It is said that Cazziva, a great Cacique, after long fasting and many ablutions, had an interview with one of the Zemi, who announced to him this terrible event (F. Columbus, c. 62), as the oracle of Latona, according to Herodotus (II. 152) predicted the overthrow of eleven kings in Egypt, on the appearance of men of brass, risen out of the sea. Nor did this prophecy exist among the Islanders alone. It influenced the councils of Montezuma, and extended almost universally over the forests of America. Cortes. Herrera. Gomara. ’The demons, whom they worshipped,’ says Acosta, ‘in this instance told them the truth.’]
The Voyage continued.
“Ah, why look back, tho’ all is left behind?
No sounds of life are stirring in the wind.—
And you, ye birds, winging your passage home,
How blest ye are!—We know not where we roam,
We go,” they cried, “go to return no more;
Nor ours, alas, the transport to explore
A human footstep on a desert shore!”
Still, as beyond this mortal life impell’d
By some mysterious energy, He held
His everlasting course. Still self-possess’d,
High on the deck He stood, disdaining rest;
(His amber chain the only badge he bore, [Footnote 1]
His mantle blue such as his fathers wore)
Fathom’d, with searching hand, the dark profound,
And scatter’d hope and glad assurance round.
At day-break might the Caravels [Footnote 2] be seen,
Chasing their shadows o’er the deep serene;
Their burnish’d prows lash’d by the sparkling tide.
Their green-cross standards [Footnote 3] waving far and wide.
And now once more to better thoughts inclin’d,
The sea-man, mounting, clamour’d in the wind.
The soldier told his tales of love and war; [t]
The courtier sung—sung to his gay guitar.
Round, at Primero, sate a whisker’d band;
So Fortune smil’d, careless of sea or land! [u]
LEON, MONTALVAN, (serving side by side;
Two with one soul—and, as they liv’d, they died)
VASCO the brave, thrice found among the slain,
Thrice, and how soon, up and in arms again,
As soon to wish he had been sought in vain,
Chain’d down in Fez, beneath the bitter thong,
To the hard bench and heavy oar so long!
ALBERT of FLORENCE, who, at twilight-time,
In my young ear pour’d DANTE’S tragic rhyme,
Screen’d by the sail as near the mast we lay,
Our night illumin’d by the ocean-spray;
LERMA “the generous”, AVILA “the proud;” [Footnote 4]
VELASQUEZ, GARCIA, thro’ the echoing croud
Trac’d by their mirth—from EBRO’S classic shore,
From golden TAJO—to return no more!
[Footnote 1: It was afterwards given to Guacanahari. See F. Col. c. 32.]
[Footnote 2: Light vessels, formerly used by the Spaniards and Portuguese.]
[Footnote 3: F. Columbus, c. 23.]
[Footnote 4: Many such appellations occur in Bernal Diaz. c. 204.]
The Voyage continued.
Yet who but He undaunted could explore [x]
A world of waves—a sea without a shore,
Trackless and vast and wild as that reveal’d
When round the Ark the birds of tempest wheel’d;
When all was still in the destroying hour—
No sign of man! no vestige of his power!
One at the stern before the hour-glass stood,
As ’twere to count the sands; one o’er the flood
Gaz’d for St. Elmo; [Footnote 1] while another cried
“Once more good morrow!” and sate down and sigh’d.
Day, when it came, came only with its light.
Tho’ long invok’d, ’twas sadder than the night!
Look where He would, for ever as He turn’d,
He met the eye of one that inly mourn’d.
Then sunk his generous spirit, and He wept.
The friend, the father rose; the hero slept.
PALOS, thy port, with many a pang resign’ d,
Fill’d with its busy scenes his lonely mind;
The solemn march, the vows in concert giv’n, [Footnote 2]
The bended knees and lifted hands to heav’n,
The incens’d rites, and choral harmonies,
The Guardian’s blessings mingling with his sighs;
While his dear boys—ah, on his neck they hung, [y]
And long at parting to his garments clung.
Oft in the silent night-watch doubt and fear
Broke in uncertain murmurs on his ear.
Oft the stern Catalan, at noon of day,
Mutter’d dark threats, and linger’d to obey;
Tho’ that brave Youth—he, whom his courser bore
Right thro’ the midst, when, fetlock deep in gore,
The great GONZALO [Footnote 3] battled with the Moor,
(What time the ALHAMBRA shook—soon to unfold
Its sacred courts, and fountains yet untold,
Its holy texts and arabesques of gold)
Tho’ ROLDAN, [Footnote 4] sleep and death to him alike,
Grasp’d his good sword and half unsheath’d to strike.
“Oh born to wander with your flocks,” he cried,
“And bask and dream along the mountain-side;
To urge your mules, tinkling from hill to hill;
Or at the vintage-feast to drink your fill,
And strike your castanets, with gipsy-maid
Dancing Fandangos in the chesnut shade—
Come on,” he cried, and threw his glove in scorn,
“Not this your wonted pledge, the brimming horn.
Valiant in peace! Adventurous at home!
Oh, had ye vow’d with pilgrim-staff to roam;
Or with banditti sought the sheltering wood,
Where mouldering crosses mark the scene of blood!—”
He said, he drew; then, at his Master’s frown,
Sullenly sheath’d, plunging the weapon down.
[Footnote 1: A luminous appearance of good omen.]
[Footnote 2: His public procession to the Convent of Rabida on the day before he set sail. It was there that his sons had received their education; and he himself appears to have passed some time there, the venerable Guardian, Juan Perez de Marchena, being his zealous and affectionate friend.—The ceremonies of his departure and return are represented in many of the fresco-paintings in the palaces of Genoa.]
[Footnote 3: Gonzalo Fernandez, already known by the name of The great Captain. Granada surrendered on the 2nd of January, 1492. Columbus set sail on the, 3rd of August following.]
[Footnote 4: Probably a soldier of fortune. There were more than one of the name on board.]
The flight of an Angel of Darkness.
War and the Great in War let others sing.
Havoc and spoil, and tears and triumphing;
The morning-march that flashes to the sun,
The feast of vultures when the day is done;
And the strange tale of many slain for one!
I sing a Man, amidst his sufferings here,
Who watch’d and serv’d in humbleness and fear;
Gentle to others, to himself severe.
Still unsubdued by Danger’s varying form,
Still, as unconscious of the coming storm,
He look’d elate! His beard, his mien sublime,
Shadow’d by Age;—by Age before the time, [Footnote 1]
From many a sorrow borne in many a clime,
Mov’d every heart. And now in opener skies
Stars yet unnam’d of purer radiance rise!
Stars, milder suns, that love a shade to cast,
And on the bright wave fling the trembling mast. [Footnote 2]
’Twas the mid hour, when He, whose accents dread
Still wander’d thro’ the regions of the dead,
(MERION, commission’d with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep)
To elude the seraph-guard that watch’d for man,
And mar, as erst, the Eternal’s perfect plan,
Rose like the Condor, and, at towering height,
In pomp of plumage sail’d, deepening the shades of night.
Roc of the West! to him all empire giv’n! [z]
Who bears [Footnote 3] Axalhua’s dragon-folds to heav’n; [Footnote 4]
His flight a whirlwind, and, when heard afar,
Like thunder, or the distant din of war!
Mountains and seas fled backward as he pass’d
O’er the great globe, by not a cloud o’ercast
From the ANTARCTICK, from the Land of Fire [Footnote 5]
To where ALASKA’S [Footnote 6] wintry wilds retire;
From mines [Footnote 7] of gold, and giant-sons of earth,
To grotts of ice, and tribes of pigmy birth
Who freeze alive, nor, dead, in dust repose,
High-hung in forests to the casing snows.[a]
Now mid angelic multitudes he flies,
That hourly come with blessings from the skies;
Wings the blue element, and, borne sublime,
Eyes the set sun, gilding each distant clime;
Then, like a meteor, shooting to the main,
Melts into pure intelligence again.
[Footnote 1: F. Col. c.3.]
[Footnote 2: Splendour of the nights in a tropical climate.]
[Footnote 3: Axalhua, or the Emperor. The name in the Mexican language for the great serpent of America.]
[Footnote 4: As the Roc of the East is said to have carried off the Elephant. See Marco Polo.]
[Footnote 5: Tierra del Fuego.]
[Footnote 6: Northern extremity of the New World. See Cook’s last Voyage.]
[Footnote 7: Mines of Chili; which extend, says Ovalle, to the Strait of Magellan. I. 4.]
A mutiny excited.
What tho’ Despondence reign’d, and wild
Stretch’d in the midst, and, thro’ that dismal night, [b]
By his white plume reveal’d and buskins white, [c]
Slept ROLDAN. When he clos’d his gay career,
Hope fled for ever, and with Hope fled Fear,
Blest with each gift indulgent Fortune sends,
Birth and its rights, wealth and its train of friends,
Star-like he shone! Now beggar’d, and alone,
Danger he woo’d, and claim’d her for his own.
O’er him a Vampire [Footnote 1] his dark wings display’d.
’Twas MERION’S self, covering with dreadful shade. [d]
He came, and, couch’d on ROLDAN’S ample breast,
Each secret pore of breathing life possess’d,
Fanning the sleep that seem’d his final rest;
Then, inly gliding like a subtle flame, [e]
Subdued the man, and from his thrilling frame
Sent forth the voice! “We live, we breathe no more!
The fatal wind blows on the dreary shore!
On yonder cliffs, beckoning their fellow-prey,
The spectres stalk, and murmur at delay! [Footnote 2]
—Yet if thou canst (not for myself I plead,
Mine but to follow where ’tis thine to lead)
Oh turn and save! To thee, with streaming eyes,
To thee each widow kneels, each orphan cries!
Who now, condemn’d the lingering hours to tell,
Think and but think of those they lov’d so well!”
All melt in tears! but what can tears avail?
These climb the mast, and shift the swelling sail.
These snatch the helm; and round me now I hear
Smiting of hands, out-cries of grief and fear,
(That In the aisles at midnight haunt me still,
Turning my lonely thoughts from good to ill)
“Were there no graves—none in our land,” they cry,
“That thou hast brought us on the deep to die?”
Silent with sorrow, long within his cloak
His face He muffled—then the Hero spoke.
“Generous and brave! when God himself is’ here,
Why shake at shadows in your mid career?
He can suspend the Jaws himself design’d,
He walks the waters, and the winged wind; [Footnote 3]
Himself your guide! and yours the high behest
To lift your voice, and bid a world be blest!
And can you shrink? [Footnote 4] to you, to you consign’d
The glorious privilege to serve mankind!
Oh had I perish’d, when my failing frame [Footnote 5]
Clung to the shatter’d oar mid wrecks of flame!
—Was it for this I linger’d life away,
The scorn of Folly, and of Fraud the prey; [f]
Bow’d down my mind, the gift His bounty gave,
At courts a suitor, and to slaves a slave?
—Yet in His name whom only we should fear,
(’Tis all, all I shall ask, or you shall hear)
Grant but three days”—He spoke not uninspir’d; [Footnote 6]
And each in silence to his watch retir’d.
At length among us came an unknown Voice!
“Go, if ye will; and, if ye can, rejoice.
Go, with unbidden guests the banquet share.
In his own shape shall Death receive you there.” [Footnote 7]
[Footnote 1: A species of bat in S. America; which refreshes by the gentle agitation of its wings, while it sucks the blood of the sleeper, turning his sleep into death. Ulloa.]
[Footnote 2: Euripides in Alcest. v. 255.]
[Footnote 3: Ps. civ. 3.]
[Footnote 4: The same language had been addressed to Isabella. F..Cpl. c 15.]
[Footnote 5: His miraculous escape, in early life, during a sea-fight off the coast of Portugal. Ibid. c. 5.]
[Footnote 6: He used to affirm, that he stood in need of God’s particular assistance; like Moses, when he led forth the people of Israel, who forbore to lay violent hands upon him, because of the miracles which God wrought by his means. ‘So,’ said the Admiral, ’did it happen to me on that voyage.’ F. Columbus, c. 19.——’ And so easily,’ says a Commentator, ’are the workings of the Evil one overcome by the power of God!’]
[Footnote 7: This denunciation, fulfilled as it appears to be in the eleventh canto, may remind the reader of the Harpy’s in Virgil. AEn. III v. 247.]
Twice in the zenith blaz’d the orb of light;
No shade, all sun, insufferably bright!
Then the long line found rest [Footnote 1]—in coral groves
Silent and dark, where the sea-lion roves:—
And all on deck, kindling to life again,
Sent forth their anxious spirits o’er the main.
“Oh whence, as wafted from Elysium, whence
These perfumes, strangers to the raptur’d sense?
These boughs of gold, and fruits of heav’nly hue,
Tinging with vermeil light the billows blue?
And (thrice, thrice blessed is the eye that spied,
The hand that snatch’d it sparkling in the tide) [g]
Whose cunning carv’d this vegetable bowl,
Symbol of social rites, and intercourse of soul?”
Such to their grateful ear the gush of springs,
Who course the ostrich, as away she wings;
Sons of the desert! who delight to dwell
Mid kneeling camels round the sacred well.
The sails were furl’d: [Footnote 2] with many a melting close,
Solemn and slow the evening anthem rose,
Rose to the Virgin. [h] ’Twas the hour of day,
When setting suns o’er summer-seas display
A path of glory, opening in the west
To golden climes, and islands of the blest;
And human voices, on the silent air,
Went o’er the waves in songs of gladness there!
Chosen of Men! [i] ’twas thine, at noon of night,
First from the prow to hail the glimmering light; [Footnote 3]
(Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray
Enters the soul, and makes the darkness day!)
“PEDRO! RODRIGO! [Footnote 4] there, methought, it shone!
There—in the west! and now, alas, ’tis gone!—
’Twas all a dream! we gaze and gaze in vain!
—But mark and speak not, there it comes again!
It moves!—what form unseen, what being there
With torch-like lustre fires the murky air?
His instincts, passions, say, how like our own?
Oh! when will day reveal a world unknown?”
[Footnote 1: For thirty-five days they were advancing ’where fathom-line could never touch the ground.’]
[Footnote 2: On Thursday, the 11th of October, 1492.]
[Footnote 3: A light in the midst of darkness, signifying the spiritual light that he came to spread there. F. Col. c. 22. Herrera, I i 12.]
[Footnote 4: Pedro Gutierrez, a Page of the King’s Chamber. Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, Comptroller of the Fleet.]
The New World.
Long on the wave the morning mists repos’d,
Then broke—and, melting into light, disclos’d
Half-circling hills, whose everlasting woods
Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods.
—And say, when all, to holy transport giv’n,
Embraced and wept as at the gates of Heav’nly,
When one and all of us, repentant, ran,
And, on our faces, bless’ the wondrous Man;
Say, was I then deceiv’d, or from the skies
Burst on my ear seraphic harmonies?
“Glory to God!” unnumber’d voices sung,
“Glory to God!” the vales and mountains rung,
Voices that hail’ Creation’s primal morn,
And to the shepherds sung a Saviour born.
Slowly to land the sacred cross we bore, [k]
And, kneeling, kiss’d with pious lips the shore.
But how the scene pour tray? [l] Nymphs of romance,
[m] Youths graceful as the Faun, [n] with rapturous glance,
Spring from the glades, and down the green steeps run,
To greet their mighty guests, “The children of the Sun!”
Features so fair, in garments richly wrought,
From citadels, with Heav’n’s own thunder fraught,
Check’d their light footsteps—statue-like they stood,
As worshipp’d forms, the Genii of the Wood!
But see, the regal plumes, the couch of state! [o]
Still, where it moves, the wise in council wait!
See now borne forth the monstrous mask of gold, [Footnote 1]
And ebon chair [also Footnote 1] of many a serpent-fold;
These now exchang’d for gifts that thrice surpass
The wondrous ring, and lamp, and horse of brass. [p]
What long-drawn tube transports the gazer home, [Footnote 2]
Kindling with stars at noon the ethereal dome?
’Tis here: and here circles of solid light [Footnote 1 again]
Charm with another self the cheated sight;
As man to man another self disclose,
That now with terror starts, with triumph glows!
[Footnote 1: F. Columbus, c. 28 34. & 69.]
[Footnote 2: For the effects of the telescope, and the mirror, on an uncultivated mind, see Wallis’s Voyage round the World, c. 2 & 6.]
Cora—luxuriant vegetation—the Humming-bird—the Fountain of Youth.
—Then CORA came, the youngest of her race,
And in her hands she hid her lovely face;
Yet oft by stealth a timid glance she cast,
And now with playful step the Mirror pass’d,
Each bright reflection brighter than the last!
And oft behind it flew, and oft before;
The more she search’d, pleas’d and perplex’d the more!
And look’d and laugh’d, and blush’d with quick surprize;
Her lips all mirth, all ecstasy her eyes!
But soon the telescope attracts her view;
And lo, her lover in his light canoe
Rocking, at noon-tide, on the silent sea,
Before her lies! It cannot, cannot be.
Late as he left the shore, she linger’d there,
Till, less and less, he melted into air!—
Sigh after sigh steals from her gentle frame,
And say—that murmur—was it not his name?
She turns, and thinks; and, lost in wild amaze,
Gazes again, and could for ever gaze!
Nor can thy flute, ALONSO, now excite,
As in VALENCIA, when, with fond delight,
FRANCISCA, waking, to the lattice flew,
So soon to love and to be wretched too!
Hers thro’ a convent-grate to send her last adieu.
—Yet who now comes uncall’d; and round and round,
And near and nearer flutters to its sound;
Then stirs not, breathes not—on enchanted ground?
Who now lets fall the flowers she cull’d to wear
When he, who promis’d, should at eve be there;
And faintly smiles, and hangs her head aside
The tear that glistens on her cheek to hide?
Ah, who but CORA?—till inspir’d, possess’d,
At once she springs, and clasps it to her breast!
Soon from the bay the mingling croud ascends,
Kindred first met! by sacred instinct Friends!
Thro’ citron groves, and fields of yellow maize, [Footnote 1]
Thro’ plantain-walks where not a sun-beam plays.
Here blue savannas fade into the sky.
There forests frown in midnight majesty;
Ceiba, [q] and Indian fig, and plane sublime,
Nature’s first-born, and reverenc’d by Time!
There sits the bird that speaks! [Footnote 2] there, quivering, rise
Wings that reflect the glow of evening skies!
Half bird, half fly, [r] the fairy king of flowers [Footnote 3]
Reigns there, and revels thro’ the fragrant hours; [s]
Gem full of life, and joy, and song divine,
Soon in the virgin’s graceful ear to shine. [Footnote 4]
’Twas he that sung, if antient Fame speaks truth,
“Come! follow, follow to the Fount of Youth!
I quaff the ambrosial mists that round it rise,
Dissolv’d and lost in dreams of Paradise!”
For there call’d forth, to bless a happier hour,
It met the sun in many a rainbow-shower!
Murmuring delight, its living waters roll’d
’Mid branching palms and amaranths of gold! [Footnote 5]
[Footnote 1: AEtas est illis aurea. Apertis vivunt hortis. P. Martyr, dec. I. 3.]
[Footnote 2: The Parrot, as described by Aristotle. Hist. Animal, viii. 12.]
[Footnote 3: The Humming-bird. Kakopit (florum regulus) is the name of an Indian bird, referred to this class by Seba.]
[Footnote 4: Il sert apres sa mort aparer les jeunes Indiennes, qui portent en pendans d’oreilles deux de ces charmans oiseaux. Buffon.]
[Footnote 5: According to an antient tradition. See Oviedo, Vega, Herrera, &c. Not many years afterwards a Spaniard of distinction wandered every where in search of it; and no wonder, as Robertson observes, when Columbus himself could imagine that he had found the seat of Paradise,]
Evening—a banquet—the ghost of Cazziva.
Her leaves at length the conscious tamarind clos’d,
And from wild sport the marmoset repos’d;
Fresh from the lake the breeze of twilight blew,
And vast and deep the mountain-shadows grew;
When many a fire-fly, shooting thro’ the glade,
Spangled the locks of many a lovely maid,
Who now danc’d forth to strew His path with flowers.
And hymn His welcome to celestial bowers. [Footnote 1]
There od’rous lamps adorn’d the festal rite,
And guavas blush’d as in the vales of light, [Footnote 2]
—There silent sat many an unbidden Guest, [Footnote 3]
Whose stedfast looks a secret dread impress’d;
Not there forgot the sacred fruit that fed
At nightly feasts the Spirits of the Dead,
Mingling in scenes that mirth to mortals give,
Tho’ by their sadness known from those that live.
There met, as erst, within the wonted grove,
Unmarried girls and youths that died for love!
Sons now beheld their antient sires again;
And sires, alas, their sons in battle slain!
But whence that sigh? ’Twas from a heart that broke!
And whence that voice? As from the grave it spoke!
And who, as unresolv’d the feast to share,
Sits half-withdrawn in faded splendour there?
’Tis he of yore, the warrior and the sage,
Whose lips have mov’d in prayer from age to age;
Whose eyes, that wander’d as in search before,
Now on COLUMBUS fix’d—to search no more!
CAZZIVA, [Footnote 4] gifted in his day to know
The gathering signs of a long night of woe;
Gifted by Those who give but to enslave;
No rest in death! no refuge in the grave!
—With sudden spring as at the shout of war,
He flies! and, turning in his flight, from far
Glares thro’ the gloom like some portentous star!
Unseen, unheard!—Hence, Minister of Ill! [Footnote 5]
Hence, ‘tis not yet the hour; tho’ come it will!
They that foretold—too soon shall they fulfil; [Footnote 6]
When forth they rush as with the torrent’s sweep, [Footnote 7]
And deeds are done that make the Angels weep!—
Hark, o’er the busy mead the shell [Footnote
Triumphs, and masques, and high heroic games.
And now the old sit round; and now the young
Climb the green boughs, the murmuring doves among.
Who claims the prize, when winged feet contend;
When twanging bows the flaming arrows [Footnote 9] send?
Who stands self-centred in the field of fame,
And, grappling, flings to earth a giant’s frame?
Whilst all, with anxious hearts and eager eyes,
Bend as he bends, and, as he rises, rise!
And CORA’S self, in pride of beauty here,
Trembles with grief and joy, and hope and fear!
(She who, the fairest, ever flew the first,
With cup of balm to quench his burning thirst;
Knelt at his head, her fan-leaf in her hand,
And humm’d the air that pleas’d him, while she fann’d)
How blest his lot!—tho’, by the Muse unsung,
His name shall perish, when his knell is rung.
That night, transported, with a sigh I said
“’Tis all a dream!”—Now, like a dream, ’tis fled;
And many and many a year has pass’d away,
And I alone remain to watch and pray!
Yet oft in darkness, on my bed of straw,
Oft I awake and think on what I saw!
The groves, the birds, the youths, the nymphs recall,
And CORA, loveliest, sweetest of them all!
[Footnote 1: P. Martyr, dec. i. 5.]
[Footnote 2: They believed that the souls of good men were conveyed to a pleasant valley, abounding in guavas and other delicious fruits. Herrera, I. iii. 3. F Columbus, c. 62.]
[Footnote 3: “The dead walk abroad in the night, and feast with the living;” (F. Columbus, c. 62) and “eat of the fruit called Guannaba.” P. Martyr, dec. I. 9.]
[Footnote 4: An antient Cacique, in his life-time and after his death, employed by the Zemi to alarm his people. See F. Columbus, c. 62.]
[Footnote 5: The Author is speaking in his inspired character. Hidden things arc revealed to him, and placed before his mind as if they were present.]
[Footnote 6: Nor could they (the Powers of Darkness) have more effectually prevented the progress of the Faith, than by desolating the New World; by burying nations alive in mines, or consigning them in all their errors to the sword. Relacion de B. de las Casas.]
[Footnote 7: Not man alone, but many other animals became extinct there.]
[Footnote 8: P. Martyr, dec. iii. c. 7.]
[Footnote 9: Rochefort. c. xx. p. 559.]
Still would I speak of Him before I went,
Who among us a life of sorrow spent, [u]
And, dying, left a world his monument;
Still, if the time allow’d! My Hour draws near;
But He will prompt me when I faint with fear.
—–Alas, He hears me not! He cannot hear!
* * * * *
Twice the Moon fill’d her silver urn with light.
Then from the Throne an Angel wing’d his flight;
He, who unfix’d the compass, and assign’d
O’er the wild waves a pathway to the wind;
Who, while approach’d by none but Spirits pure,
Wrought, in his progress thro’ the dread obscure,
Signs like the ethereal bow—that shall endure! [Footnote 1]
Before the great Discoverer, laid to rest,
He stood, and thus his secret soul address’d. [Footnote 2]
“The wind recalls thee; its still voice obey.
Millions await thy coming; hence, away.
To thee blest tidings of great joy consign’d,
Another Nature, and a new Mankind!
The vain to dream, the wise to doubt shall cense;
Young men be glad, and old depart in peace! [Footnote 3]
Hence! tho’ assembling in the fields of air,
Now, in a night of clouds, thy Foes prepare
To rock the globe with elemental wars,
And dash the floods of ocean to the stars; [Footnote 4]
To bid the meek repine, the valiant weep,
And Thee restore thy Secret to the Deep! [Footnote 5]
Not then to leave Thee! to their vengeance cast,
Thy heart their aliment, their dire repast! [Footnote 6]
To other eyes shall MEXICO unfold
Her feather’d tapestries, [Footnote 7] and roofs of gold.
To other eyes, from distant cliff descried, [x]
Shall the PACIFIC roll his ample tide.
Chains thy reward! beyond the ATLANTIC wave
Hung in thy chamber, buried in thy grave! [y]
Thy reverend form [z] to time and grief a prey,
A phantom wandering in the light of day!
What tho’ thy grey hairs to the dust descend,
Their scent shall track thee, track thee to the end; [Footnote 8]
Thy sons reproach’d with their great father’s fame,
And on his world inscrib’d another’s name!
That world a prison-house, full of sights of woe,
Where groans burst forth, and tears in torrents flow!
These gardens of the sun, sacred to song,
By dogs of carnage, howling loud and long, [Footnote 9]
Swept—till the voyager, in the desert air, [a]
Starts back to hear his alter’d accents there! [Footnote 10]
Not thine the olive, but the sword to bring,
Not peace, but war! Yet from these shores shall spring
Peace without end; [Footnote 11] from these, with blood defil’d,
Spread the pure spirit of thy Master mild!
Here, in His train, shall arts and arms attend, [b]
Arts to adorn, and arms but to defend.
Assembling here, all nations shall be blest; [c]
The sad be comforted; the weary rest:
Untouch’d shall drop the fetters from the slave; [d]
And He shall rule the world he died to save!
Hence, and rejoice. The glorious work is done.
A spark is thrown that shall eclipse the sun!
And, tho’ bad men shall long thy course pursue,
As erst the ravening brood o’er chaos flew, [Footnote 12]
He, whom I serve, shall vindicate his reign;
The spoiler spoil’d of all; [e] the slayer slain; [Footnote 13]
The tyrant’s self, oppressing and opprest,
Mid gems and gold unenvied and unblest: [Footnote 14]
While to the starry sphere thy name shall rise,
(Not there unsung thy generous enterprise!)
Thine in all hearts to dwell—by Fame enshrin’d,
With those, the Few, that live but for Mankind.”
[Footnote 1: It is remarkable that these phenomena still remain among the mysteries of nature.]
[Footnote 2: Te tua fata docebo. Virg.——Saprai di tua vita il viaggio. Dante.]
[Footnote 3: P. Martyr. Epist, 133. 152.]
[Footnote 4: When he entered the Tagus, all the seamen ran from all parts to behold, as it were some wonder, a ship that had escaped so terrible a storm. F. Columbus, c. 40.]
[Footnote 5: I wrote on a parchment that I had discovered what I had promised! —and, having put it into a cask, I threw it into the sea. Ibid. c. 37.]
[Footnote 6: See the Eumenides of AEschylus, v. 305, &c.]
[Footnote 7: Clavigero. VII. 52.]
[Footnote 8: See the Eumenides. v. 246.]
[Footnote 9: One of these, on account of his extraordinary sagacity and fierceness, received the full allowance of a soldier. His name was Bezerillo.]
[Footnote 10: No unusual effect of an exuberant vegetation. ’The air was so vitiated,’ says an African traveller, ’that our torches burnt dim, and seemed ready to be extinguished; and even the human voice lost its natural tone.’]
[Footnote 11: See Washington’s farewell address to his fellow-citizens.]
[Footnote 12: See Paradise Lost. X.]
[Footnote 13: Cortes, Pizarro.—’Almost all,’ says Las Casas, ’have perished. The innocent blood, which they had shed, cried aloud for vengeance; the sighs, the tears of so many victims went up before God.’]
[Footnote 14: L’Espagne a fait comme ce roi insense qui demanda que tout ce qu’il toucheroit se convertit en or, et qui fut oblige de revenir aux dieux pour les prier de finir sa misere. Montesquieu.]
On the two last leaves, and written in another hand, are some stanzas in the romance or ballad measure of the Spaniards. The subject is an adventure soon related.
Thy lonely watch-tower, Larenille,
Had lost the western sun;
And loud and long from hill to hill
Echoed the evening-gun,
When Hernan, rising on his oar,
Shot like an arrow from the shore.
—“Those lights are on St. Mary’s Isle;
They glimmer from the sacred pile.” [Footnote 1]
The waves were rough; the hour was late.
But soon across the Tinto borne,
Thrice he blew the signal-horn,
He blew and would not wait.
Home by his dangerous path he went;
Leaving, in rich habiliment,
Two Strangers at the Convent-gate.
They ascended by steps hewn out in the rock; and, having asked for admittance, were lodged there,
Brothers in arms the Guests appear’d;
The Youngest with a Princely grace!
Short and sable was his beard,
Thoughtful and wan his face.
His velvet cap a medal bore,
And ermine fring’d his broider’d vest;
And, ever sparkling on his breast,
An image of St. John he wore. [Footnote 2]
The Eldest had a rougher aspect, and there was craft in his eye. He stood a little behind in a long black mantle, his hand resting upon the hilt of his sword; and his white hat and white shoes glittered in the moon-shine. [Footnote 3]
“Not here unwelcome, tho’ unknown.
Enter and rest!” the Friar said.
The moon, that thro’ the portal shone,
Shone on his reverend head.
Thro’ many a court and gallery dim
Slowly he led, the burial-hymn
Swelling from the distant choir.
But now the holy men retire;
The arched cloisters issuing thro’
In long long order, two and two.
* * * * *
When other sounds had died away,
And the waves were heard alone,
They enter’d, tho’ unus’d to pray,
Where God was worshipp’d, night and day,
And the dead knelt round in stone;
They enter’d, and from aisle to aisle
Wander’d with folded arms awhile,
Where on his altar-tomb reclin’d [f]
The crosier’d Abbot; and the Knight
In harness for the Christian fight,
His hands in supplication join’d;—
Then said as in a solemn mood,
“Now stand we where COLUMBUS stood!”
* * * * *
“PEREZ, [Footnote 4] thou good old man,” they cried,
“And art thou in thy place of rest?—
Tho’ in the western world His grave, [Footnote 5] [g]
That other world, the gift He gave, [Footnote 6]
Would ye were sleeping side by side!
Of all his friends He lov’d thee best.”
* * * * *
The supper in the chamber done,
Much of a Southern Sea they spake,
And of that glorious City [Footnote 7] won
Near the setting of the Sun,
Thron’d in a silver lake;
Of seven kings in chains of gold [Footnote 8]—
And deeds of death by tongue untold,
Deeds such as breath’d in secret there
Had shaken the Confession-chair!
The Eldest swore by our Lady, [Footnote 9] the Youngest by his conscience; [Footnote 10] while the Franciscan, sitting by in his grey habit, turned away and crossed himself again and again. “Here is a little book,” said he at last, “the work of one in his shroud below. It tells of things you have mentioned; and, were Cortes and Pizarro here, it might perhaps make them reflect for a moment.” The Youngest smiled as he took it into his hand. He read it aloud to his companion with an unfaltering voice; but, when he laid it down, a silence ensued; nor was he seen to smile again that night. [Footnote 11] “The curse is heavy,” said he at parting, “but Cortes may live to disappoint it.”—“Aye, and Pizarro too!”
[Footnote 1: The Convent of Rabida.]
[Footnote 2: See Bernal Diaz, c. 203; and also a well-known portrait of Cortes, ascribed to Titian. Cortes was now in the 43d, Pizarro in the 60th year of his age.]
[Footnote 3: Augustin Zarate, lib. iv. c. 9.]
[Footnote 4: Late Superior of the House.]
[Footnote 5: In the chancel of the cathedral of St. Domingo.]
[Footnote 6: The words of the epitaph. “A Castilia y a Leon nuevo Mundo dio Colon.”]
[Footnote 7: Mexico.]
[Footnote 8: Afterwards the arms of Cortes and his descendants.]
[Footnote 9: Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 63.]
[Footnote 10: B. Diaz, c. 203.]
[Footnote 11: ‘After the death of Guatimotzin,’ says B. Diaz, ’he became gloomy and restless; rising continually from his bed, and wandering about in the dark.’.—’Nothing prospered with him; and it was ascribed to the curses he was loaded with.’]
A circumstance, recorded by Herrera, renders this visit not improbable. ’In May, 1528, Cortes arrived unexpectedly at Palos; and, soon after he had landed, he and Pizarro met and rejoiced; and it was remarkable that they should meet, as they were two of the most renowned men in the world.’ B. Diaz makes no mention of the interview; but, relating an occurrence that took place at this time in Palos, says, ’that Cortes was now absent at Nuestra Senora de la Rabida.’ The Convent is within half a league of the town.
Sung ere his coming—
In him was fulfilled the antient prophecy,
- — — — — venient annis
Secula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, &c.
SENECA in Medea, v. 374.
Which Tasso has imitated in his Giemsalemme Liberata.
Tempo verra, chie fian d’Ercole i segui
Favola vile, &c.
c. xv. 30.
To lift the veil that cover’d half mankind!
An introductory couplet is here omitted.
Dying, to-night I would fulfill my vow.
Praise cannot wound his generous spirit now.
The Poem opens on Friday, the 14th of September, 1402.
_——the great Commander_
In the original,’ El Almirante.’ In Spanish America, says M. de Humboldt, when El Almirante is pronounced without the addition of a name, that of Columbus is understood; as, from the lips of a Mexican, El Marchese signifies Cortes.
"Thee hath it pleas’d—Thy will be done!” he said,
’It has pleased our Lord to grant me faith and assurance for this enterprize—He has opened my understanding, and made me most willing to go.’ See his Life by his son, Ferd. Columbus, entitled, Hist. del Almirante Don Christoval. Colon, c. 4 & 37.
Whose voice is truth, whose wisdom is from heav’n,
The compass might well be an object of superstition. A belief is said to prevail even at this day, that it will refuse to traverse when there is a dead body on board. Hist. des Navig. aux Terres Australes.
COLUMBUS err’d not.
When these regions were to be illuminated, says Acosta, cum divino consilio decretum esset, prospectum etiam divinitus est, ut tarn longi itineris dux certus hominibus praeberetur. De Natura Novi Orbis.
A romantic circumstance is related of some early navigator in the Histoire Gen. des Voyages, I. i. 2. “On trouva dans l’isle de Cuervo une statue equestre, couverte d’un manteau, mais la tete nue, qui tenoit de la main gauche la bride du cheval, et qui montroit l’occident de la main droite. Il y avoit sur le bas d’un roc quelques lettres gravees, qui ne furent point entendues; mais il parut clairement que le signe de la main regardoit l’Amerique.”
He spoke, and, at his call, a mighty Wind,
The more Christian opinion is, that God, at the length, with eyes of compassion as it were looking downe from heaven, intended even then to rayse those windes of mercy, whereby.......this newe worlde receyved the hope of salvation.—Certaine Preambles to the Decades of the Ocean.
Folded their arms and sat;
To return was deemed impossible, as it blew always
F. Columbus, c. 19. Nos pavidi—at pater Anchises—laetus.
What vast foundations in the Abyss are there,
Tasso employs preternatural agents on a similar occasion,
Trappassa, et ecco in quel silvestre loco
Sorge improvisa la citta del foco.
Gier. Lib, c. xiii. 33.
Gli incanti d’Ismeno, che ingannano con delusioni, altro non significano, che la falsita delle ragioni, et delle persuasioni, la qual si genera nella moltitudine, et varieta de’ pareri, et de’ discorsi humani.
ATLANTIC kings their barbarous pomp display’d;
See Plato’s Timaeus; where mention is made of mighty kingdoms, which, in a day and a night, had disappeared in the Atlantic, rendering its waters unnavigable.
When towers and temples, thro’ the closing wave,
Si quaeras Helicen et Burin, Achaidas urbes,
Invenies sub aquis.
At the destruction of Callao, in 1747, no more than one of all the inhabitants escaped; and he, by a providence the most extraordinary. This man was on the fort that overlooked the harbour, going to strike the flag, when he perceived the sea to retire to a considerable distance; and then, swelling mountain high, it returned with great violence. The people ran from their houses in terror and confusion; he heard a cry of Miserere rise from all parts of the city; and immediately all was silent; the sea had entirely overwhelmed it, and buried it for ever in its bosom: but the same wave that destroyed it, drove a little boat by the place where he stood, into which he threw himself and was saved. Europ. Settlements.
"Land!” and his voice in faltering accents died.
Historians are not silent on the subject. The sailors, according to Herrera, saw the signs of an inundated country (tierras anegadas); and it was the general expectation that they should end their lives there, as others had done in the frozen sea, ’where St. Amaro suffers no ship to stir backwards or forwards.’ F. Columbus, c. 19.
Tho’ chang’d my cloth of gold for amice grey—
Many of the first discoverers, if we may believe B. Diaz and other contemporary writers, ended their days in a hermitage, or a cloister.
’Twas in the deep, immeasurable cave Of ANDES,
Vast indeed must be those dismal regions, if it be true, as conjectured (Kircher. Mund. Subt. I. 202), that Etna, in her eruptions, has discharged twenty times her original bulk. Well might she be called by Euripides (Troades, v. 222) the Mother of Mountains; yet Etna herself is but ’a mere firework, when compared to the burning summits of the Andes.’
Where PLATA and MARAGNON meet the Main.
Rivers of South America. Their collision with the tide has the effect of a tempest.
Of HURON or ONTARIO, inland seas,
Lakes of North America. Huron is above a thousand miles in circumference. Ontario receives the waters of the Niagara, so famous for its falls; and discharges itself into the Atlantic by the river St. Lawrence.
Hung in the tempest o’er the troubled main;
The dominion of a bad angel over an unknown sea, infestandole con sus torbellinos y tempestades, and his flight before a Christian hero, are described in glowing language by Ovalle. Hist, de Chile. IV. 8.
He spoke; and all was silence, all was night!
These scattered fragments may be compared to shreds of old arras, or reflections from a river broken and confused by the oar; and now and then perhaps the imagination of the reader may supply more than is lost. Si qua latent, meliora putat.
Illud vero perquam rarum ac memoria dignum, etiam suprema opera artificum imperfectasque tabulas, sicut Irin Aristidis, Tyndaridas Nicomachi, Medeam Timomachi, et quam diximus Venerem Apellis, in majori admiratione esse, quam perfecta.
The soldier, &c.
In the Lusiad, to beguile the heavy hours at sea, Veloso relates to his companions of the second watch the story of the Twelve Knights. L. vi.
So Fortune smil’d, careless of sea or land!
Among those, who went with Columbus, were many adventurers, and gentlemen of the court. Primero was the game then in fashion. See Vega, p. 2, lib. iii. c. 9.
Yet who but He undaunted could explore
Many sighed and wept; and every hour seemed a year,
I. i. 9 and 10.
While his dear boys—ah, on his neck they hung,
’But I was most afflicted, when I thought of my two sons, whom I had left behind me in a strange country....before I had done, or at least could be known to have done, any thing which might incline your highnesses to remember them. And though I comforted myself with the reflection that our Lord would not suffer so earnest an endeavour for the exaltation of his church to come to nothing, yet I considered that, on account of my unworthiness,’ &c.—F. Columbus, c. 37.
Roc of the West! to him all empire giv’n!
Le Condor est le meme oiseau que le Roc des Orientaux. Buffon. ’By the Peruvians,’ says Vega, ’he was antiently worshipped; and there were those who claimed their descent from him.’ In these degenerate days he still ranks above the Eagle.
High-hung in forests to the casing snows.
A custom not peculiar to the Western Hemisphere. The Tunguses of Siberia hang their dead on trees; ’parceque la terre ne se laisse point ouvrir.’ Recherches Philos. sur les Americ. I. 140.
_——and, thro’ that dismal night,_
‘Aquella noche triste.’ The night, on which Cortes made his famous retreat from Mexico through the street of Tlacopan, still goes by the name of LA NOCHE TRISTE. HUMBOLDT.
By his white plume reveal’d and buskins white,
It is said that Pizarro used to dress in this fashion; after Gonzalo, whom he had served under in Italy.
’Twas MERION’S self, covering with dreadful shade.
Now other, as their shape serv’d best his end.
Undoubtedly, says Herrera, the Infernal Spirit assumed various shapes in that region of the world.
Then, inly gliding, &c.
The original passage is here translated at full length.
Then, inly gliding like a subtle
Thrice, with a cry that thrill’d the mortal frame,
Call’d on the Spirit within. Disdaining flight,
Calmly she rose, collecting all her might. [Footnote]
Dire was the dark encounter! Long unquell’d,
Her sacred seat, sovereign and pure, she held.
At length the great Foe binds her for his prize,
And awful, as in death, the body lies!
Not long to slumber! In an evil hour
Inform’d and lifted by the unknown Power,
It starts, it speaks’. “We live, we breathe no more!” &c.
Many a modern reader will exclaim in the language of Pococurante, ‘Quelle triste extravagance!’ Let a great theologian of that day, a monk of the Augustine order, be consulted on the subject. ’Corpus ille perimere vel jugulare potest; nec id modo, verum et animam ita urgere, et in angustum coarctare novit, ut in momento quoque illi excedendum sit.’
[Footnote: —magnum si pectore possit
The scum of Folly, and of Fraud the prey;
Nudo nocchier, promettitor di regni!
By the Genoese and the Spaniards he was regarded as a man resolved on ‘a wild dedication of himself to unpath’d waters, undream’d shores;’ and the court of Portugal endeavoured to rob him of the glory of his enterprise, by secretly dispatching a vessel in the course which he had pointed out. ‘Lorsqu’il avail promis un nouvel hemisphere,’ says Voltaire, ’on lui avait soutenu que cet hemisphere ne pouvait exister; et quand il l’eut decouvert, on pretendit qu’il avait ete connu depuis long-temps.’
The hand that snatch’d it sparkling in the tide,
The drinking cups of the Islanders, if we may believe a contemporary of Columbus, were ex lignu...lucido confecta, el arte mira lalorata. P. Martyr, dec. i. 5.
Rose to the Virgin.
Salve, regina. Herrera, I. i. 12.—It was the usual service, and always sung with great solemnity. ‘I remember one evening,’ says Oviedo, ’when the ship was in full sail, and all the men were on their knees, singing Salve, regina, &c. Relacion Sommaria.—The hymn, O Sanctissima, is still to be heard after sunset along the shores of Sicily, and its effect may be better conceived than described. See Brydone, I. 330.
Chosen of men!
I believe that he was chosen for this great service; and that, because he was to be so truly an apostle, as in effect be proved to be, therefore was his origin obscure; that therein he might resemble those who were called to make known the name of the Lord from seas and rivers, and not from courts and palaces. And I believe also, that, as in most of his doings he was guarded by some special providence, his very name was not without some mystery: for in it is expressed the wonder he performed; inasmuch as he conveyed to a new world the grace of the Holy Ghost, &c. F. COL. c. 1.
Slowly to land the sacred cross we bore,
Signifying to the Infernal Powers (all’ infierno todo) the will of the Most High, that they should renounce a world over which they had tyrannised for so many ages. OVALLE, iv. 5.
But how the scene pourtray?
’This country excels all others, as far as the day surpasses the night in splendour.—Nor is there a better people in the world. They love their neighbour as themselves; their conversation is the sweetest imaginable, their faces always smiling; and so gentle, so affectionate are they, that I swear to your highnesses,’ &c. F. COL. c. 30, 33.
Nymphs of romance,
Dryades formosissimas, aut nativas fontium nymphas, de quibus fabulatur antiquitas, se vidisse arbitrati sunt. P. MARTYR, dec. i. lib. 5.
Youths graceful as the Faun,
An eminent Painter, when he first saw the Apollo of the Belvidere, was struck with its resemblance to an American warrior. West’s discourse in the Royal Academy, 1794.
But see, the regal plumes, the couch of state!
’The Cacique came down to the shore in a sort of palanquin—attended by his antient men.—The gifts, which he received from me, were afterwards carried before him.’ F. COLUMBUS, c. 32.
The wondrous ring, and lamp, and horse of brass.
The ring of Gyges, the lamp of Aladdin, and the horse of the Tartar king.
The wild cotton tree, often mentioned in History. ‘Cortes,’ says Bernal Diaz, ’took possession of the Country in the following manner. Drawing his sword, he gave three cuts with it into a great Ceiba and said------’
Half bird, half fly,
Here are birds so small, says Herrera, that, though they are birds, they are taken for bees or butterflies.
Reigns there, and revels, &c.
There also was heard the wild cry of the Flamingo.
clarion winds along the yellow sands?
Far in the deep the giant-fisher stand,
Folding his wings of flame.
Who now danc’d forth, &c.
Their dances, which continued from evening to the dawn, were accompanied with singing. P. MARTYR, dec. iii. 7.
Who among us a life of sorrow spoil,
For a summary of his life and character see ’An
Account of the
European Colonies.’ P. I. c. 8.
To other eyes, from distant cliff descried,
Balboa immediately concluded it to be the ocean for which Columbus had searched in vain; and when, at length, after a toilsome march among the mountains, his guides pointed out to him the summit from which it might be seen, he commanded his men to halt, and went up alone. HERRERA, I.x. 1.
Hung in thy chamber, buried in thy grave!
I always saw them in his room, and he ordered them to be buried with his body. F. COL. c. 86.
Thy reverend form
His person, says Herrera, had an air of grandeur. His hair, from many hardships, had long been grey. In him you saw a man of an unconquerable courage, and high thoughts; patient of wrongs, calm in adversity, ever trusting in God:—and, had he lived in antient times, statues and temples would have been erected to him without number, and his name would have been placed among the stars.
Swept—till the voyager, in the desert air,
With my own eyes I saw kingdoms as full of people, as hives are full of bees; and now where are they? LAS CASAS.
Here, in His train, shall arts and arms attend,
‘There are those alive,’ said an illustrious orator, ’whose memory might touch the two extremities. Lord Bathurst, in 1704, was of an age to comprehend such things—and, if his angel had then drawn up the curtain, and, whilst he was gazing with admiration, had pointed out to him a speck, and had told him, “Young man, there is America—which, at this day, serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death,"’ &c. BURKE in 1775.
Assembling here, &c.
How simple were the manners of the early colonists! The first ripening of any European fruit was distinguished by a family-festival. Garcilasso de la Vega relates how his dear father, the valorous Andres, collected together in his chamber seven or eight gentlemen to share with him three asparaguses, the first that ever grew on the table-land of Cusco. When the operation of dressing them was over (and it is minutely described) he distributed the two largest among his friends; begging that the company would not take it ill, if he reserved the third for himself, as it was a thing from Spain.
North America became instantly an asylum for the oppressed; huguenots, and catholics, and sects of every name and country. Such were the first settlers in Carolina and Maryland, Pennsylvania and New England. Nor is South America altogether without a claim to the title. Even now, while I am writing, the antient house of Braganza is on its passage across the Atlantic,
Cum sociis, natoque, Penatibus, et magnis dis.
Untouch’d shall drop the fetters from the slave ,
Je me transporte quelquefois au dela d’un siecle. J’y vois le bonheur a cote de l’industrie, la douce tolerance remplacant la farouche inquisition; j’y vois un jour de fete; Peruvians, Mexicains, Americains libres, Francois, s’embrassant comme des freres, et benissant le regne de la liberte, qui doit amener partout une harmonic universelle.—Mais les mines, les esclaves, que deviendront-ils? Les mines se fermerout; les esclaves seront les freres de leurs maitres. Nouv. Voy. dans l’Amerique.
The spoiler spoil’d of all;
Cortes. A peine put-il obtenir audience de Charles-Quint. un jour il fendit la presse qui entourait le coche de l’empereur, et monta sur l’etrier de la portiere. Charles demanda quel etait cet homme: ‘C’est,’ repondit Cortez, ’celui qui vous a donne plus d’etats que vos peres ne vous ont laisse de villes.’ VOLTAIRE.
Where on his altar-tomb, &c.
Tho’ in the western world His grave,
An Anachronism. The body of Columbus was not
yet removed from
It is almost unnecessary to point out another in the Ninth Canto. The telescope was not then in use; though described long before with great accuracy by Roger Bacon.