Of Earth and Air I sing, of Sea and Fire,
And various wonders that to each belong,
And while to stubborn themes I tune the lyre,
“Fierce wars and faithful loves shall moralize my song.”
The Right Honourable
Is Respectfully Inscribed
By Her Ladyship’s Obedient Servant,
[Eleanor Anne Porden]
A young lady, one of the members of a small society which meets periodically for literary amusement, lost her Veil (by a gust of wind) as she was gathering shells on the coast of Norfolk. This incident gave rise to the following Poem, which was originally written in short cantos, and afterwards extended and modelled into the form in which it is now respectfully submitted to the public. The author, who considers herself a pupil of the Royal Institution, being at that time attending the Lectures given in Albemarle-Street, on Chemistry, Geology, Natural History, and Botany, by Sir Humphry Davy, Mr. Brand, Dr. Roget, Sir James Edward Smith, and other eminent men, she was induced to combine these subjects with her story; and though her knowledge of them was in a great measure orally acquired, and therefore cannot pretend to be extensive or profound, yet, as it was derived from the best teachers, she hopes it will seldom be found incorrect.
The machinery is founded on the Rosicrusian doctrine, which peoples each of the four elements with a peculiar class of spirits, a system introduced into poetry by Pope, and since used by Darwin, in the Botanic Garden; but the author believes that the ideal beings of these two distinguished writers will not be found to differ more from each other, than from those called into action in the ensuing Poem. She has there endeavoured to shew them as representing the different energies of nature, exerted in producing the various changes that take place in the physical world; but the plan of her Poem did not permit her to exhibit them to any considerable extent. On the Rosicrusian mythology, a system of poetical machinery might be constructed of the highest character; but the person who directs its operations should possess the scientific knowledge of Sir Humphry Davy, and the energy and imagination of Lord Byron and Mr. Scott.
In personifying the metals and minerals, and the agency of fire, the author has generally taken her names from the Greek language; but as it was impossible to avoid the nomenclature of modern chemistry, she requests, on the plea of necessity, the indulgence of her readers for what she fears will be felt as a barbarous mixture.
The summer sun its setting radiance shed,
And tinged the eastern clouds with rosy red;
While from the west, a flood of amber light
Stream’d thro’ the foliage on the dazzled sight:
As in a forest’s wildering mazes straytd
A youthful warrior and a blooming maid.
The Maid was fair, as Poets bent on praise
Have often painted in their flattering lays,
When they from Fancy, not from Nature, drew
Their finished forms, yet still to Nature true.
Erewhile her eyes’ soft lustre did outshine
The brightest diamonds of Golconda’s mine;
But grief had now their native fire deprest;
And frequent sighs burst from her anguished breast.
No guardian veil concealed her charms, but round
Her jetty locks, a wreath of flowers was bound;
Her vesture rivalled the unsullied snow,
A sable scarf declared her inward woe.
The Knight, in prime of youthful vigour, joined
Undaunted courage, and a courteous mind;
Black were his arms — the painting on his shield
The strange occasion of their grief revealed:
Lo! on the foamy ocean’s shingly sands,
Reft of her Veil, a weeping damsel stands,
Beside a yawning gulf a Gnome appears,
Who waves the ravished veil and mocks her tears;
While forms ethereal lightly float in air,
And weep in pity o’er the injured fair.
An azure marge the pictured forms enroll’d,
Where shine these haughty words embost in gold:
*Proud Gnome, the veil to me, thy rival, yield,
Or dare my vengeance in the listed field.
Warned by approaching night, with slackened rein
They urge their steeds some friendly roof to gain,
At length they reached the confines of the wood
Where, on a hill, an ancient Castle stood;
With high embattled towers, and turrets crown’d,
By massy walls enclosed, and moated round.
Cheered at the sight, they checked each weary horse,
And to the drawbridge bent their joyful course,
When as the warder from the walls espied
The pair advancing, to the Knight he cried,
“A friend or foe?” — “A friend!” the Knight replied:
“We crave a shelter till returning day
Shall lend its light to speed us on our way.”
“Then welcome,” he rejoined; “but, Warrior, pause,
And, ere you enter, learn the Castle’s laws,
And swear obedience — nor misdeem we claim
A pledge injurious to your knightly fame:
With Royal Edward, from their country far,
Through France our warriors spread the flames of war,
And few remain, though many a danger calls
For all our care, to guard our threatened walls;
Hence we require, that when, with strength restored
By food and wine, you quit the festive board,
That from the bridge descending to the plain,
You, till the morn, in arms our watch maintain;
While we retire, with lengthened toil opprest,
Meanwhile the damsel in our walls shall find
From foes protection, and a welcome kind.
In arms like yours, with each a beauteous dame,
Two knights this evening to the Castle came.
The knights with thee till morn the watch will share,
The maids with thine partake the Baron’s care.”
Brave Henry to the proffered terms agreed,
Then o’er the drawbridge guides Maria’s steed;
The warder there admits the Knight and Maid,
And through a court of Gothic grandeur led;
His Lord received them in a spacious hall,
Where martial trophies decked the storied wall,
And many a pictured pannel seemed to trace
The ancient glories of a noble race.
On couches there two wearied maids repose,
Who now to meet the lovely stranger rose,
While with that courtesy which marks the brave,
Two youths to Henry cordial greeting gave.
Fair was each damsel, but the fairest far
Maria seemed, like evening’s dewy star,
When all the rival fires that grace the night
By their own splendour prove her richer light:
As far in speech, in mien, and courteous mind,
Brave Henry left his young compeers behind.
Soon to a banquet, where, with costly pride,
Carinthia’s1 ores the massy bowl supplied,
Where Gallia’s grapes their richest nectar poured,
And tropic dainties piled the groaning board,
The Baron leads, and tries, with social arts,
To soothe the anguish of their aching hearts;
Cheats the dull hour with many a sportive jest,
And gaily urges the neglected feast,
Till sorrow slept, and joy from every eye
Beamed like the sunshine through a wat’ry sky.
With food refresh’d, his helm with sable plumes,
His lance and shield, each warrior now resumes,
And by the warder summoned took his way,
Before the bridge to watch till dawn of day.
Meanwhile the Baron with surprize surveyed,
In garb resembling, every knight and maid,
Save that, amid her glossy ringlets twined,
A wreath of flowers Maria’s locks confined.
“And why,” he said, “fair ladies, do you shew
By dress a seeming fellowship in woe?—
What wrongs have forced you from your peaceful home,
And why, unveiled, to distant lands you roam,
Why comes each knight, in sable arms arrayed,
Why on each helm are sable plumes displayed,
Fain would I learn: — tho’ memory oft may bring
The cup of sorrow bitterest from the spring,
Yet pitying friendship to the woe worn heart
Repays the pangs remembered griefs impart:
And if your cause should martial aid require,
Though stiff my limbs, and quenched my youthful fire,
This arm, which erst in many a well-fought day
Through Paynim hosts to victory led the way,
May yet have strength the sword and lance to wield,
And aid your chosen champions in the field.”
To all he spoke, but most Maria prest,
Who sighing, thus the listening group addrest.
“Oh that the tale I tell had power to charm
Your grief, and anguish of its stings disarm,
To speed the hours on pinions of delight,
Till day should rise, unlooked for, on the night!
But one rash promise that has sealed my doom
Will o’er my story cast a mournful gloom.
Erewhile two youths of differing tempers strove
With rival ardour to obtain my love,
One, dark and gloomy, as the bursting storm,
When lowering clouds autumnal skies deform;
The other, as the vernal morning gay,
When rosy Phoebus woos the sprightly May.
“This on his boundless riches loved to dwell,
Which might Arabia’s fabled hoards excell;
Strove to allure my heart with splendid tales
Of diamond palaces, and emerald vales,
Of amber streams o’er sapphire beds that rolled,
And silver seas, and lakes of liquid gold;
Described his destined consort’s regal state,
What slaves in gorgeous robes should round her wait
In halls where luxury all her pomp displays,
And fragrant gums in golden censers blaze;
From harps unseen while heavenly music flows
To cheer the feast, or soothe to soft repose;
And every lure to fix my fancy tried
That flatters female vanity and pride;
But still his gloomy scowl, his eye of fire,
Was on his rival bent with jealous ire,
His proud demeanour chilled my soul with dread,
And mystery enveloped all he said.
“The other, nor on wealth nor state relied,
But love alone his eloquence supplied,
His manly mind disdained insidious art,
And scorned by flattery to ensnare my heart.
Not long in vain my gentle suitor strove,
But still my breast concealed its infant love:
Tho’ skill’d and proved in every manly art,
He struck the ring or hurl’d the unerring dart,
Beyond his peers the ponderous bar he threw,
And bent with surer aim the stubborn yew;
I seem’d to scorn the tourney’s harmless wreath,
And bad him seek the nobler fields of death;
To bear the Cross in Salem’s hallow’d laud,
Or join our sable Edward’s conquering band;
Hence with that hero he resolved to sail,
Whose freighted ships then watched a favouring gale.
“To me one morn, one fatal morn, he came,
But nor in manner, speech, or look the same;
Gone was that cheerful smile, that graceful ease,
That gentle warmth that marks the wish to please,
The sportive wit, the fire of hope and joy,
That still with me illumed my Henry’s eye;
A sullen sorrow now his looks declare,
And his hoarse voice rang strangely in mine ear;
I started — ‘Does Maria then,’ he said,
‘Grieve at the change her cruelty has made?
Thou bidst me leave thy presence, bidst me shine
In glory’s favour, ere I hope for thine;
Farewell — I sail to Gallia’s hostile shore,
Return victorious, or return no more;
But oh, from thee removed, whose sight inspired
My breast with love, with virtue, valour fired,
What to my arms, can like thy smile supply
Art to repel, or vigour to annoy?
Yet grant some pledge, no happier youth shall gain
That envied hand, so long desired in vain;
This in the fight shall steel thy warrior’s breast,
And soothe his slumbers in the hour of rest.’
“’Tis said that ‘often in the parting hour’
Victorious love asserts superior power,
I proved it true, when by his prayers subdued,
These words I spoke, — yet half in jesting mood—
‘Go, Henry, go! be Heaven in fight your shield,
Your guide to glory thro’ the ensanguined field,
And unperceived if you this Veil obtain,
When with the year the hour returns again,
I plight my faith, with honour’s laurel twined,
Love’s myrtle crown my warrior’s brows shall bind.’
“The youth I marked, and while I gaily spoke,
On his pale face the glow of triumph broke,
But not my Henry’s sunny smile; it shew’d
Like lightning gleaming on a lurid cloud,
And o’er my darkened mind appeared to throw
The sad presentiment of future woe,—
Then fancy trac’d the battle’s bloody plain,
The shock of arms, the dying and the slain,
Pale on the ground my wounded lover laid,
The fatal sword uplifted o’er his head
Shuddering I bade him stay — the youth was fled.
“But Henry soon returned. He bore a wreath,
From whose rich flowers no common odours breathe;
Their wonted fire again his eyes illumed,
And on his cheeks their native roses bloomed;
‘This wreath,’ he said, ‘while constant I remain,
By time uninjured, shall its hues retain;
But should I fall by fate’s severe decree,
Or prove unfaithful to my vows and thee,
Those vows that here repeated make me thine,
These flowers their bloom and fragrance shall resign:’
He placed it on my head — he sigh’d adieu,
Just prest my trembling hand, and then withdrew.
The precious wreath, preserved with faithful care,
I since have worn, and still uninjured wear.
“Some months elapsed. At length the tidings came
Of Poictiers glorious field, and Edward’s fame;2
Can nobler deeds the daring bard engage?
Or brighter virtues grace a future age?
There prudence aim’d, and mercy staid the sword,
While vanquished Gallia mourn’d her captive lord,
Who now received the honours long denied
To all his pomp of power and regal pride;3
The veterans that his Sire to victory led,
At the glad tidings rais’d the hoary head,
Blest their brave Prince, and half in envy told
Their sons had fought — as they had fought of old —
Where all were heroes, where impatient fame
Could scarce prefer, and scarce reject a name,
Where acts, which else in her bright page had shone,
Past in the blaze of light, unmark’d, unknown;
Elate I heard of deeds by Henry wrought;
How with his Prince the hottest fight he sought,
Once saved the youthful chief and still victorious fought;
I long’d from Henry’s lips his deeds to hear,
Nor thought how soon my joy would melt in air.
“One vernal morn, (’twas in the month of May,)
As on the ocean’s side I chanced to stray,
My wondering eyes a thousand stones behold,
A thousand shells that shone like gems and gold,
Not with more colours glow’d the pretious shore
To whose bright sand submissive ocean bore
The riches of the shipwreck’d seamen’s store,
When Nereus, urged by dark-browed Cymöent, gave
To Marinell the treasures of the wave.4
“No snare suspecting, by their beauty caught,
With eager eye the stones and shells I sought,
When lo! an earthquake seemed to rock the ground,
I started back, and trembling look’d around;
Beneath my feet a hollow noise I heard,
And high the waves their foamy summits reared.
My flying steps some magic influence staid,
And opening earth a hideous gulf displayed;
Mid clouds of smoke, and flames of livid blue,
A giant form rose slowly to my view.
The fatal veil which late my locks confined,
That veil so closely with my fate combined,
He with insulting transport wav’d in air;
His gloomy looks my Henry’s foe declare,
Though now in robes of regal state he shone,-
And his dark forehead bore a sparkling crown.
“‘In me,’ he said, ‘behold the King, whose sway
Thro’ earth’s unnumber’d caves the Gnomes obey;
Lord of the mine, I own its secret stores,
Its gems, its marbles, and its mineral ores.
Long in a human shape concealed, to gain
Thy love I sought, but only met disdain,
At length my rival’s form I bore, and found,
Beyond my warmest hope my wishes crown’d:
The veil behold — no more I seek to move
Thy stubborn heart; I claim thy promised love.
“‘I wonder not those tears of anguish flow,
That o’er my transports cast a shade of woe,
’Tis woman’s pride, if we her boast believe,
Ne’er to be duped, but ever to deceive;
Yet sages say, tho’ keen a woman’s eyes
To read the heart and pierce the deep disguise,
If Flattery spread her viewless veil between,
Full in her pathway yawns the gulf unseen,
And here she triumphs, where the prayers of love,
And wealth and power have vainly tried to move.
“‘Yet why afflicted thus, why thus disdain
The hand a thousand beauties seek in vain?
In vain each lovely Gnome with studious care
Folds her rich robe, or braids her scented hair,
Or, rifling; all the secrets of the mine,
Makes her dark eye with softer lustre shine,5
I fly their sight and live alone in thine;
Thy form more lovely in its plain attire,
Thine eyes more brilliant in their native fire;
My heart is thine, fair ingrate, thine alone;
O! dry those tears and share a monarch’s throne.
What though thou quit the sun’s enlivening ray,
And “the warm precincts of the cheerful day,”
The feathered songsters, fruits and fragrant flowers,
And dear companions of thy social hours,
Yet deem not my extended realms below,
The constant haunt of horror, gloom, and woe,
The light of Heaven our quenchless lamps supply,
Our vaults re-echo to the sounds of joy,
To festive songs my Gnomes attune the lyre,
And captive Sylphs the dulcet flute inspire;
To grace my court assembled thousands shine,
Approved in valour, or of charms divine;
Those fading flowers no more shall bind thy brow,
But in their stead a diamond circlet glow;
Art’s magic-hand, at thy command shall spread,
With gems in flowery guise, the emerald mead,
Bid vales descend, or lofty hills arise,
And mimic suns adorn the sapphire skies.
Farewell — the cares of empire bid me flee,
Those cares neglected in pursuit of thee,
Fain would I stay, those streaming tears to dry,
And gaze enraptur’d on that speaking eye,
But duty calls — yet till the tedious sun
His lingering course thro’ twelve long signs shall run,
And shine propitious on our nuptial hour,
For thee my Gnomes shall deck the regal bower.’
“He spoke and vanished. Still in mute amaze
On vacant air I fixed my earnest gaze,
Still in my ear his hated accents rung,
Fear fixed me to the spot, and chained my tongue;
Above his head the yawning earth had closed,
Sunk was the wind, the waves in peace reposed;
Surpassing Nature’s law, the past might seem
But the vain horrors of a dreadful dream,
Yet my stol’n veil a proof too certain bore;
Grief clog’d the hours that hope had wing’d before,
And murmur’d still of fairy visions crost,
And love and happiness and freedom lost;
How oft I watch’d, impatient for the light,
Then loath’d the morn, and wish’d again for night;
Or wept to find those hours had passed away,
And nearer brought the inevitable day!
’Till once, as Phoebus ting’d the eastern skies,
Soft slumber stole upon mine aching eyes,
When on my view a form ethereal broke,
That hovering o’er me, thus melodious spoke:
‘No more, sweet maid, let grief your peace destroy,
But cherish hope, for hope shall lead to joy;
That Power Eternal, whose creative mind
This orb, and all yon wandering spheres design’d;
From nothing call’d yon source of life and light,
And all the starry splendours of the night;
To numerous spirits, in that awful hour,
Their portions gave of delegated power:
Four tribes who rule this orb with equal sway,
The Earth, the Fire, the Winds, and Waves obey;
In fire the Salamanders hold their reign,
The bold Hydidae curb the azure main,
The Gnomes are guardians of the solid land,
And Sylphs the impassive realms of air command;
These jarring tribes in endless strife engage,
Foil and are foiled, with ineffectual rage;
Their mutual war their balanced reign secures,
And endless order ceaseless strife ensures.
‘In that sad morn thou soughtst on ocean’s strand
The gems the Gnome had strew’d with treacherous hand,
O’er the green wave unnumber’d Sylphids play’d,
That all thy motions with delight survey’d,
And fill’d with warm desire to view unveil’d
The charms thy maiden modesty conceal’d,
They flutter’ d round in many a lucid ring,
Stretch’d the light hand, and waved the filmy wing,
And strove, with gentle violence, to raise
The silken screen, that mock’d their eager gaze;
When lo! a viewless hand the veil unbound,
And rudely plung’d it in the deep profound,
Then shook the earth, and in a yawning void,
Albruno rose, in all his kingly pride:
The rest thou know’st — the Sylphs thy lot deplore,
Dissolve in tears, and quit the fatal shore.
‘Incens’d, the Gnome by fraud and theft should dare
Pollute my realms, I roused the powers of air,
In hope by prompt exertion to regain
The ravish’d pledge; but all our toils were vain:
For base Albruno had his prize immur’d
In deepest caverns, and with spells secur’d:
But now the day approaches; gentle maid,
Arouse thee from thy trance of grief, and aid
Our high emprize, to free thee from thy vow,
The sole resource thy stubborn fates allow.
‘Long had a war, with rancorous hatred waged,
The sullen Gnomes and Sprites of Fire engaged,
’Till wearied all, a transient peace confined
Each martial hand, but fettered not the mind,
The Sprites, of rest impatient, every one
Loth to begin, yet wished the war begun;
The flame to kindle, to the Prince of Fire
A Sylph I sent, who roused the monarch’s ire;
Against the Gnomes he leads his hostile line,
And soon with him will Ocean’s sovereign join;
These powers at once their double war shall wage,
And from his bride Albruno’s thoughts engage;
’Tis thine to aid us — seek the gloomy mine,
There urge thy suit, and tears and prayers combine;
For there alone must fraud or force assail,
Tho’ vain were force, such spells secure the Veil,
And tho’ our strength should burst the powerful chains,
A stronger tye, thy plighted faith, remains.
His hand alone, his breast should mercy warm,
Thy pledge resigning, can dissolve the charm,
But if, observant of the stated hour,
He come to bear thee to his bridal bower,
We can but mourn, — to save exceeds our power.
Where’er thou art, his mightier charms compel
Their weeping slave to earth’s remotest cell;
But should he fail, by fraud or force delayed,
’Till night descending wrap this land in shade;
Vain are his hopes, for in an adverse course
His spells rebounding with elastic force
Unlock the casket they secur’d before,
And the lost Veil compel him to restore;
Then cling to Hope, best solace of our pain,
Herself a blessing, if her dreams be vain;
Nor dread the perils of the lonely road,
Or the dark horrors of his drear abode,
My watchful care thy safety shall provide,
Thy guard in danger, as in doubt thy guide.’
“He vanished: but that voice so sweet, so clear,
Yet thrilled with transport my delighted ear,
I rose, and still a cloud of rich perfume,
Shook from his wings, was floating in the room,
And at my gate, a milk white palfry stood,
With costly trappings harnessed for the road;
I mounted, and discarding female fear,
Placed my firm confidence in Ariel’s care.
All day I journey’d, but as evening fell,
Trembling I wander’d thro’ a woody dell;
No sound of life reliev’d my anxious ear,
I look’d in vain, no sheltering roof was near,
When lo! amid a blaze of golden light,
A rich pavilion rose upon my sight,
I enter’d, by some unknown influence led,
By hands unseen the plenteous board was spread,
Prepared by hands unseen the downy bed.
“With speed untir’d, thro’ many a lengthen’d day,
My horse instinctive still pursu’d his way;
And still as round the shades of evening close,
In lonely wilds the rich pavilion rose,
Or in some rural cot I found repose;
’Till on this morn, in sable arms I view’d
An unknown warrior, who my steps pursu’d,
’Twas Henry, late from conquer’d Gallia come,
By Ariel warn’d, to guide me to the Gnome;
Together thro’ the wood our course we steer,
And bless the fate that stay’d our wanderings here,
Where generous welcome cheers the weary guest,
And kindness soothes the aching heart to rest;
We hope, ere sinks to-morrow’s sun, to gain
The rocky margin of the northern main;
For Sweden thence we sail, where mountains round
Stretch their long chains, with snows eternal crown’d,
As massy barriers placed to guard the road,
Long, dark and dreary, to the Gnome’s abode.”
Imprudent maid! thy heedless lips exposed
The secret plans to thee alone disclosed,
Thy councils known, the host, whose cheerful smile
Veil’d the dark agent of Albruno’s guile,
Rejoic’d in secret, while his feign’d surprize,
And falser pity, blind thy heedless eyes;
Yet scarce his art the latent joy represt,
Scarce on thy woes forbore the bitter jest,
As oft he urged Miranda to unfold,
Why o’er her vest the scarf of sable roll’d,
And head unveil’d, some inward sorrow told.
Fair was the maid, her eyes of softest blue,
Her floating tresses bore an amber hue,
Of height majestic, dignity and grace
Spoke in her actions, mingled in her face,
All present view’d her with attentive look,
By soft attraction bound, while thus she spoke:
“Lost in amazement, if mine eyes betray’d
No common pity for yon injur’d maid,
At once I mourned her sufferings and my own,
Nor grieved nor wonder’d at her fate alone,
Like her’s my vesture, and like her’s my tale —
A royal suitor, and a ravish’d Veil.
“O’er the blue regions of the restless main,
Fresh lakes and streams, extends Marino’s reign;
This prince, by martial force, and manly grace,
More than by rank distinguish’d o’er his race;
To Love’s high sway an early homage paid,
And bow’d the vassal of an ocean maid;
Fair as the fairest forms of Grecian art,
Her beauteous frame conceal’d a canker’d heart;
In vain he loved, by turns the artful dame
Fed with false hopes, or check’d the rising flame,
And when he urg’d to fix the nuptial morn,
Now smil’d, now blush’d, now frown’d in seeming scorn;
And now, desponding, feign’d to doubt her power,
That love should last beyond her bridal hour,
Yet said, if time his changeless faith should prove,
She might relent, might yield her soul to love.
“In vain Marino, to this heartless maid,
Would prove the flame his every act display’d,
Whene’er he fought, the monarch’s loaded car
Bore to Lymnoria’s feet the spoils of war;
Of rich or rare, that flatters pomp or pride,
Whate’er she wish’d, his liberal hand supplied;
’Till many a year in fruitless homage past,
From his long dream Marino waked at last;
Of all her acts he saw the secret spring,
Who ruled the kingdom while she ruled the king,
And vow’d, in sudden anger and disdain,
No sea-born maid should o’er the Ocean reign,
Then bade his slaves, of mortal lineage, find
A maid in person faultless and in mind.
His slaves, obedient, watch on every shore,
Dart up the streams, and various lands explore,
Commissioned, when the maid they view, to steal
Her scarf, her girdle, or pellucid veil,
Which by his hand, with secret rites imbrued,
In streams that flow beneath the briny flood,
Twelve moons expired, would act with magic power,
And draw the virgin to his coral bower.
“Once, in sweet converse with a knight, I stray’d
Thro’ the close windings of a woody glade,
Our hearts by tenderest friendship were allied,
And some few weeks had made me Alfred’s bride:
At length with novel charms expands the scene,
The wood retiring left a narrow green;
On either side, with various verdure crowned,
Nor yet by summer’s sultry suns embrowned,
Tall hills arise, and thro’ the dell below
A crystal river’s winding waters flow,
Its banks with flowers adorn’d, and o’er it flung
Its graceful boughs the pendant willow hung.
Charm’d with the scene, beneath the grateful shade,
To cheat the noontide hour, awhile we staid;
The youth was skill’d in vegetable lore,
I ask’d the history of a little flower,
Graceful its form, and bright its lilac hue,
And like the crane’s long beak its ripening pistil grew;6
The study pleas’d, and from the river’s side,
Innumerous flowers our various theme supplied,
The white ranunculus, and iris gay,
The yellow caltha, on the morn of May
That to their homes the cheerful peasants bring,
And strew around, in honour of the spring;
The hyacinth, the violet’s purple dye,
Aud myosotis blue, with golden eye,
Which oft the German youth, in graceful knot,
Bears to his love, and sighs ‘Forget me not.’7
At length diverging, Nature’s course we trace,
From the first embryo, till the plant decays;
How from the germ the leafy stems ascend,
And deep in earth the fibrous roots extend;
How leaves would issue from the inverted root,
And the green stems in rigid fibres shoot;8
How from pure water, given the powers to share,
Of vivifying heat, and light, and air,
The leaves their vivid green, the flowers assume
Their balmy fragrance, and their various bloom;
Its precious gum mimosa plenteous pours,
The camphor tree secretes its spicy stores;9
How the same soils, in equal luxury, feed
The plant medicinal, and poisonous weed;
How he, though cast upon some unknown shore,
Could tell the noxious and nutritious flower;10
How in the tulip’s bulb the flower is found,
And future leaves their embryo charge surround;11
How, grafted on its stock, the crab will bear
The sweeter apple or the juicy pear,
But gradual as the parent grafts decay,
The sympathetic offspring fades away.12
“The paths of science while I thus pursued,
A strange event disturbed the peaceful flood;
No more like liquid glass the waters seem,
But dire commotions vex the troubled stream;
On rushed the impetuous tide, with thundering roar,
And wave o’er wave the foaming waters pour,
Drive back the refluent stream, which widely spread,
And rising high, o’erflowed its oozy bed;
The fishers, who the coming ill descried,
With speed for safety sought the middle tide,13
When in the stream a monster rose, whose sight
Had filled the boldest bosom with affright;
His hideous form was rough with many a scale,
Green was his hair, his hand displayed my Veil;
His hoarse rough voice was like the deaf’ning roar
Of billows breaking on the rocky shore,
While with rude homage, and uncourtly mien,
He told Marino’s tale, and hail’d me as his queen.
“My fate to shun, I ponder’d long in vain,
My frustrate projects but increas’d my pain;
For counsel then I sought an hermit’s cave,
The prescient sage this strange injunction gave.
‘With Alfred to the ocean’s side repair,
To aid your wish, a pearl shall meet you there,
Dear to the King, and save you from despair.’
“Oh! words obscure! whence hope can scarcely spring,
Yet still to these, our last resource we cling,
In dubious faith the dark behest obey,
And seek the Ocean with returning day;
While on my Alfred’s shield our quest is shewn,
And round the Veil inscribed ‘For this alone.’”
Miranda ceas’d; each maid attentive heard,
And felt surprize increase at every word,
And while the Baron cheer’d his lovely guest,
He feign’d no more the wonder he exprest;
To Leonora turned, and sought to know
If from a kindred source her sorrows flow.
As either maid was Leonora fair —
A silken net confin’d her sable hair;
Tho’ less her stature, yet her form so light,
That in the dance she seem’d some airy sprite,
Or of that choir that met in bright array,
“To do observance to the Morn of May,”14
Tript in gay circles round their virgin queen,
And hymn’d the praises of the laurel green.
A warmer sun had tinged her lovely face,
Yet animation lent a sprightly grace;
Nor could Affliction’s briny tear destroy
The speaking lustre of her hazel eye;
As with a smile the damsel thus began,
Through all her speech her cheerful temper ran:
“I fear my story of another Veil
Will prove the tedium of a thrice told tale;
Well might Maria, or Miranda, move
Their hearers pity’s genuine power to prove,
But when such rivals in the lists appear,
How can I hope a sympathetic tear,
Who, at my onset, must perforce confess
My sorrows lighter, as my beauty less?
“A Spaniard I — my father lov’d to trace,
Thro’ many a warlike chief, his noble race
To heroes, who on Ronscesvalles plain
Fought for the freedom of invaded Spain,
And check’d the arms of conquering Charlemagne:
In youth he came to Albion’s happy land,
There woo’d my mother, and obtain’d her hand,
With her to Spain he plough’d the watry way,
Where first mine infant eyes beheld the day.
Oft had the palm of victory graced his arms,
Yet now he shun’d the battle’s loud alarms,
And fled the crowded scenes of courtly strife
For the calm pleasures of domestic life.
“From old Cordova’s Roman walls expelled,15
Brave Ferdinand the haughty Moors had quelled;
But still from Afric poured the ambitious foes,16
And the new kingdom of Granada rose,
Where luxury held in Hamet’s court her reign,
And arts and splendour triumph’d in her train.
Fame, in Castille, Granada’s pomp had told;17
Her proud Alhambra with its walls of gold,
Her nobles’ wealth and state, their skill in arms,
The matchless lustre of their ladies’ charms;
Her hills, where dark the olive woods extend,
And the green boughs with fruits Hesperian bend;
Where the sweet rose, and starry jasmine spring,
And frequent founts their liquid crystal fling;
Her mulberry groves, in whose propitious gloom
The worm industrious winds its silken tomb;
Her fertile vale where two fair rivers flow,
And lofty mountains ever topt with snow.18
“Roused at the sound, with martial ardour fired,
Or by religion’s fervent zeal inspired,
Alfonzo rose; while burning for the fight,
Round Sant’ Iago’s cross, the youth of Spain unite;
To gain renown, or grasp so rich a prize,
Or win fresh favour in their ladies’ eyes,
They rush to arms, and, of success secure,
Rear their proud banners, and defy the Moor.
“From warfare long estranged, again my sire
Felt in his veins the glow of youthful fire;
Again his limbs in shining arms are drest,
And the broad cuirass guards his manly breast.
Little I thought of war’s destructive rage,
Who knew it only in the tuneful page;
My fancy still in brightest hues pourtray’d
The splendid scene of hosts for fight array’d:
The martial trumpet echoing from afar,
And prancing steeds that love the notes of war;
Aloft in air the pennon’s silken fold,
The plumage nodding o’er the casques of gold,
The emblazon’d shields, the armour’s burnish’d blaze,
And lances glittering in the morning rays:
Seldom I turn’d to trace the alter’d scene,
When evening closes on the empurpled green;
When dim with dust and blood their bright array,
And cold the hearts that panted for the fray;
Yet when my weeping mother urged her lord
To quit his purpose, or as lost deplored,
I join’d her prayers, I shrunk with kindred fears,
And mix’d with her’s my unavailing tears;
Fix’d was his mind, with brave Alfonzo’s band
At dawn of day to seek Granada’s land. —
“’Twas night, and all around in silence slept,
But rest my pillow shunn’d; I rose and crept
To my thin lattice, and in silence wept:
I blest the evening gale’s refreshing power,
As on my cheek it dried the bitter shower:
When from the shaded walk my bower beneath,
I heard soft strains of mournful music breathe.
While with a pleasing voice, and faltering tongue,
An amorous youth his plaintive ditty sung.
My conscious memory well the youth betray’d,
Who waked the echoes with this serenade;
His arm was valiant, noble was his birth,
Castile resounded with Alonzo’s worth;
Few knights could tilt, or throw the cane so well,19
Few at the ring the gallant youth excell;
Oft had he pierced the bull with fatal wound,
Or held the roaring savage to the ground,
And still whene’er the youthful hero fought,
The fairest maids the glittering barriers sought,
Who view’d with jealous ire, but seeming scorn,
My favourite colours by the warrior worn,20
While knots of flowers, in mystic guise dispos’d,
His secret passion to my sight disclos’d,
And tuned beneath my vine-clad window, long
The light guitar had join’d his nightly song:
But on his flowers I cast a careless eye,
Nor ‘blest the youth who bade my slumbers fly.’
And twice the moon had rilled her silver round
Since last mine ear had listen’d to the sound.
“Now sunk the strain, and softly I withdrew
The latticed casement that obscured my view,
Clear shone the moon, the convent’s spires were seen
Above its spreading groves of dusky green,
While round the terrac’d walk, with every gale,
Unnumber’d flowers their spicy sweets exhale.
Before me, wrapt in sable cloak and hood,
With folded arms, the brave Alonzo stood;
He rais’d his kindling eye, the mantle fell,
And brightly beam’d his mail of burnished steel.
“‘Oh! bliss unhoped! does Leonora deign
A favouring ear to sad Alonzo’s strain!’
The youth exclaim’d; ‘this unexpected grace
Can all thy scorn and all my woes efface;
And, like the setting sun, whose piercing ray
Bursts the thick clouds that veil’d him thro’ the day,
Thou com’st to cheer me with a parting view,
Ere to those charms I bid a long adieu:
Nay, turn not thus, nor thus the prayer disdain
Of him who ne’er may vex thy sight again,
For with the earliest dawn Alfonzo’s band
Will march to combat in Granada’s land;
Ev’n now his standard floats, his chargers neigh,
Ev’n now my ready vassals chide my stay;
Oh should I fall, would one repentant sigh
Lament my fate — one tear bedew thine eye?
Farewel, relentless maid; yet, ere we part,
Say, does some happier youth possess thy heart,
Or may I hope my truth at length may move
Thy mind to pity for Alonzo’s love?’
“‘If this,’ I said, ‘can give thy bosom rest,
No love has enter’d Leonora’s breast;
But wouldst thou hope to light the ardent flame,
This test of truth, and faith unchanged, I claim —
My father seeks those scenes of deadly strife,
Oh! guard with filial care his sacred life;
Shield his brave bosom from the threatening blade,
And turn the javelin from his hoary head.
So may my mother, to his arms restored,
Bless the kind hand that sav’d her honour’d lord,
So may a daughter’s heart thy deeds approve,
And gratitude illume the torch of love.’
I ceas’d: for on the solemn stillness fell,
Awful and deep, the convent’s matin bell:
I wav’d my hand, Alonzo sigh’d ‘Farewell.’
“Swift I retired; my father joined the train,
Where with Alfonzo march’d the flower of Spain,
To distant times shall Spanish records tell21
How to their conquering arms Alziras fell,
And how, his pride at Gades rock o’erthrown,
Granada’s monarch wore a vassal crown.
But here, with patriot joy, the loyal tear
Shall join to dew Alfonzo’s royal bier.
And mine may mingle well, for by his side,
My sire, with many a proud hidalgo, died,
And near him was the brave Alonzo found,
His manly bosom pierced with many a wound.
“Oppression soon, in Pedro’s iron reign,
Check’d the sweet transports of reviving Spain.
Bound by affection’s golden tie no more,
My mother wished to seek her native shore,
But as Venasquez’ rocky chain we crost,
Mid evening’s shades, our guide, our way were lost,
And wandering on, as ebbing light decayed,
Farther and farther from the path we strayed;
Our frames, long soften’d in a southern vale,
Shrunk from the keenness of the mountain gale;
The night grew dark; with weary steps and slow
We wandered o’er the treacherous field of snow,
And heard the torrent roar unseen below,22
And from the wood beneath, the frequent howl
Of bears and wolves, that fierce with hunger prowl:
The struggling ray the moon at times bestow’d,
Served but to shew the horrors of the road,
The avalanch impending from on high,
The gulph below, the terrors of the sky;
Shone but on pointed peaks, and ample brows
White with eternal, undissolving snows:
Or, on the glacier’s polish’d surface, threw
A fairy tint of evanescent blue:
And now the storm began, and long and loud
Roar’d the deep thunder from the bursting cloud,
In sheets of crimson flame the lightnings play’d,
And torrents fell on each defenceless head;
In azure light the fires electric sweep
O’er the swift streams that ran down every steep;
Yet scarce this awful scene a thought could claim,
And scarcely terror rouse our torpid frame;
Careless, we now the raging storm behold,
Each sense was dull, our souls benumb’d with cold;
To sleep were death; yet on that rugged crest,
We long’d (such weight our heavy eyes opprest)
Amid the snow, the storm, to sink to rest;
When from a cottage, unobserved before,
A light stream’d brightly thro’ the opening door:
New feeling ran thro’ every frozen vein,
And life and hope appear’d to wake again.
There, o’er a blazing fire, a youth was seen,
Of pleasing aspect, and of sprightly mien,
Our humid robes his care attentive dried,
His ready hand a plenteous meal supplied;
But when the morn her orient blush displayed,
The altered youth our parting steps delayed,
With crimson blaze his floating garments shone,
A purple radiance formed his flamy crown.
“‘Oh stay,’ he cried, ‘behold the Prince of Flame,
Earth, air, and ocean start at Pyros’ name;
Prompt at my call, to nourish or annoy,
Being to give, or being to destroy,
The salamandrine tribes obey my word,
And wait in radiant phalanx round their lord;
An hundred blazing mouths, this frozen realm,
If I command, with floods of flame o’erwhelm,
Those icy cliffs in clouds of steam aspire,
Those rocks of granite sink in liquid fire;
Such my tremendous power — but fear not thou:
To beauty’s sway a willing slave I bow,
Nor shall one sprite his arm in fury wave
To harm that life my care so lately gave:
Then let thy grateful heart my wishes crown,
And be my meed to raise thee to my throne.’
“My heart the boon of life preserv’d confest,
Nor dared I spurn the mighty king’s request;
My Veil, a solemn pledge, he asked and won,
Which binds my faith to him, and him alone;
But to my earnest prayers one year was given,
Ere for his flaming realms I quit the light of heaven.
“To Albion soon we came; and thither brought
By love, our lone retreat Alonzo sought,
Whom lying fame had number’d with the dead,
When wounded by my father’s side he laid;
And hard to say, if now his manly breast
More swell’d with open joy, or grief supprest;
With joy to meet his long-lost love again,
Or grief to find his cherish’d hopes were vain:
Nor less my heart with mingled feelings strove,
When honour struggled with awakening love,
That each new day with deeper grief deplored
My hand affianced to the fiery lord,
And, to Alonzo pledged, my broken word.
At length I heard (the monarch’s happy bride)
A nymph of fire my destin’d place supply’d;
Yet he my pledge refuses to restore,
And free the hand that he can claim no more.
“One eve, when all was still, I strove in vain
To bid the fading embers glow again,
When in the midst arose a sudden flame,
And to mine ear these sounds low murmuring came.
“‘Our gracious queen, Spinthera, bids me bear
This message straight to Leonora’s ear;
My heart, she says, is partner in thy pain,
And oft has urg’d thy suit, but urg’d in vain;
In Stromboli my Pyros holds his court,
And there must all who seek the king resort;
Then hither come, and if thy prayers or mine
Have power to move, the Veil again is thine;
Nor fear; my voice shall check the rage of heat,
And guide thee safely to his flaming seat.’
“We move obedient. — My Alonzo’s shield
Our quest divulges on its argent field;
Before the monarch’s throne a maid appears,
Who seems to sue with ineffectual tears;
And near her stands a knight in sable mail,
With brandish’d falchion — ‘Justice and the Veil.’
“Strange is my story — strange the links that join
My fate with yours, sweet maids, and yours with mine;
Strange thus to meet, where each to each unknown,
Found each sad tale an echo of her own;
Then cheer your hearts, let each derive relief
From that sure source, community of grief,
And trust that Pow’r, which safe thro’ every ill
’Till now has guided, and shall guide us still;
Yet it is wondrous we should weep, when more
Our lot would envy, than our woes deplore;
Think of the joy to range through realms unknown,
The robes of regal state — the sparkling crown,
And powers superior trembling at our frown;
Can love’s bright star, or friendship’s milder ray,
Vie with the splendour wealth and power display?
Come, mourn no more — we lift our heads on high,
Examples great of female constancy,
Resolved in danger’s sternest hour to prove
Our dauntless courage and unchanging love.”
She ceas’d; the Baron heard with careful ear,
And deeply pondering, still he seem’d to hear:
At length arous’d, he join’d the tribute paid
Of thanks and wonder to the lovely maid;
And oft a sympathetic hope exprest,
To veil the mischief brooding at his breast.
Each maiden half her grief resigns, and blends
In cheerful converse with her new found friends;
While still their young affection warmer grew,
Till late to rest the weary group withdrew.
Meanwhile the warriors, in the open field,
Their guard maintained, and each to each revealed
The mystic meaning of his pictured shield,
When from the earth upsprung a stranger knight,
And dar’d Maria’s champion to the fight;
His ruby armour shone with fiery blaze,
His emerald helmet cast resplendent rays;
Of one vast diamond formed, his massy shield
Shone like the moon, and lightened all the field;
Less brilliant, though more fatal, those of yore
That valiant Arthur and Ruggiero bore.23
The knight on Henry cast a threat’ning look,
High o’er his head his beamy sword he shook,
Then stampt infuriate on the ground, and spoke:
“Rash youth, to me Maria’s charms resign,
Or meet in arms the Monarch of the Mine;
The bold defiance on thy shield displayed,
I rise to answer — fight, or yield the maid;
Fool, to believe thy mortal frame can stand
A weapon wielded by Albruno’s hand!
Advance, if still thou dar’st the unequal strife,
And lose at once thy mistress and thy life.”
“Cease thy proud vaunt!” indignant Henry said,
“And from my vengeance guard thy treacherous head.”
They met — alike by love and hate impelled,
And one in skill, and one in strength excelled.
Long Henry strove to wound the Gnome in vain,
His ruby arms unhurt the strokes sustain;
As long Albruno with amazement found
The valiant youth still fought without a wound;
Fierce was the fight, till from the donjon tower
The Castle bell announced the midnight hour.
And warned him that the vassals of the state,
By him convened, in solemn council wait;
Mad with delay, and hopeless now to quell
By arms alone a knight who fought so well,
The wily Gnome seemed half compelled to yield,
Next faint, enfeebled, dropt his ponderous shield,
Then feigned a wound, and sunk upon the field.
Bent o’er the king, victorious Henry tried
To draw the weapon from his bleeding side,
When lo! two sinewy arms enwreathed him round,
And bore him, struggling, thro’ a gulph profound,
Down to a central cave, and there in fetters bound.
In this black vault, no ray of cheerful light
Pierced the thick gloom of everlasting night,
Save when the Gnomes, on hasty errand, past,
Their jewelled wreaths a transient brightness cast;
Then so quick flashed the red or azure beam,
It seemed to Henry but the lightning’s gleam,
And they (so far from human shape their forms)
Fiends that delight in hurricanes and storms.
Meanwhile, unarmed, the Monarch of the Mines
In all the pride of regal splendour shines:
Those jewels sought by men as rich, and rare,
To deck the vain, the stately, or the fair,
With thousands yet to solar light unknown,
Blazed on his gorgeous vesture and his crown.
He takes his amethystine throne, in state,
Round which a thousand vassal sovereigns wait,
And thus he opens the august debate:
“Ye chiefs, that o’er this nether realm preside,
Its powers direct, its various changes guide,
Discordant elements in peace combine,
Their forms, proportions, properties define,
And curb, by rules as fixed, attraction’s force,
As hold the struggling planets in their course,24
Attend; and prove that not in fight alone
To you descend the wreaths your fathers won,
But in your counsels be their wisdom shewn;
For wisdom is the eye our hands obey,
Valour achieves, but wisdom points the way.
“A few short hours will view the truce expire
So late concluded with the Prince of Fire;
The furious Pyros scorns ail thoughts of peace,
On every side our ills, our foes increase;
The aquatic tribes, insidious race, complain
Of feigned encroachments on their watry reign,
Their King Marino leads their crowded line,
And seeks his own with Pyros’ arms to join;
And while these mighty foes our thoughts divide,
The Sylphs would rob me of my plighted bride.
But thanks to favouring fate, your monarch’s care
For once has foiled the restless tribes of air,
And sage Kassiteros detains the fair,
While my proud rival waits from me his doom
In chains of adamant and deepest gloom.
“But let my faithful subjects now disclose
How best we may obstruct our watry foes;
Say, shall we Oros place, with half our force,
To stop the invaders in their headlong course,
While, with a chosen band, we here remain,
Pyros to check, or Oros to sustain?
Or shall we let them join the powers of fire,
And wait their onset with our force entire?
Weigh well these projects; then let each suggest
The genuine dictates of his faithful breast.”
Albruno ceased — and Chrysos next arose;
A golden circle wreath’d his reverend brows;
In finest robes of beaten gold he shone
The splendid “Monarch of Peruvia’s throne;”
His various talents, and his worth long tried,
His faithful mind and virtue unalloyed,
Had made him long Albruno’s friendship share,
Dear to the sovereign, to the nation dear;
Tho’ Oreichalcon now, with flattering art,
Had from the sage estranged the monarch’s heart.
In the first ages of man’s fleeting race,
When all was social amity and peace,25
Her richest fruits when earth spontaneous gave,
And bade unsown the yellow harvests wave,
Ere wintry storms defaced the lovely land,
Or sunk the streams in summer’s arid sand,
When mild the gales, and soft the genial showers,
And spring perpetual led the laughing hours,
He graced the earth; then virtue reign’d alone,
And vice, not even in her name was known;
And oft, while kindling with his theme, the sage
Has sung enraptured, of “the Golden Age.”
On Chrysos’ accents hung the attentive crowd,
While from his lips the words of wisdom flow’d:
“At this dire crisis, when on every hand
Unnumber’d foes our vigilance demand,
When one rash act, or one short moment lost,
May give our kingdom to a conquering host,
Hard is the task the helm of state to guide,
To pause destructive, dangerous to decide;
Yet let us rather shun the storm of fate,
Than meet, unguarded, its collected weight.
Across the path, by which the watry line
Along our confines march, their friends to join,
Let Oros, of primeval rock, oppose
A massy rampart to these furious foes;
This powerful barrier shall for many an age
Resist unmov’d Marino’s utmost rage;
And should the chances of the war require,
Will long repel the fierce attacks of fire;
A band of chosen warriors station’d there,
May every pass defend, and every breach repair.
Asbestos may the fiery war maintain,
And here our king his greatest force retain,
To guard the threat’ned Veil, and either chief sustain,
Such is the counsel, to my faithful breast
That long experience dictates as the best.”
He spoke: and Oreichalcon then replied,
Whose pleasing arts his inward treachery hide;
Like radiant Chrysos in his garb and face,
But differing far in merit, and in race,
His spirit proud would regal honours claim,
As tho’ of Chrysos’ ancient line he came;
His air of candour, and his specious gloze,
Could e’en on Chrysos’ reverend age impose.
His own, and monarch’s praise, while thus he sung,
With plaudits oft the vaulted chamber rung,
Which echoing thro’ the gloomy caverns round,
To anxious Henry seem’d the thunder’s sound.
“It grieves me much, my honour’d lord, to find
That when our danger needs our soundest mind,
The reverend Chrysos, who so long has shone
In council still the bulwark of our throne,
On whom all eyes in doubt and danger rest,
As their first hope, their latest, and their best,
As tho’ o’erwhelm’d by this last blow of fate,
Now gives advice destructive to the state.
“Tho’ thus to differ from so great a sage
May seem presumption in my greener age,
Yet say, does niggard heaven alone bestow
Her richest gift on time’s declining brow?
Does wisdom only then our acts advise,
When ebbing strength to work her will denies?
Then would her sacred light in vain be given,
And vain the best, the noblest boon of heaven;
But oft we see, tho’ strong in life’s full day,
As fails the frame, the mental powers decay,
And in our king a shining proof we find
Of youth and strength, with early wisdom join’d.
Think not, my liege, that I presume to vie
With one thus singled by a nation’s eye;
When age has ponder’d on a doubtful road,
Folly or youth the rightful path has show’d.
But if experience weight can give, your ear
I boldly claim, as more expert in war.
In youth, the path of valour Chrysos tried,
But fate, to him, the victor’s meed denied,
(So justly nature deals with all her train,
Each has his share, but none can all attain.)
Dejected then, he shunn’d the scenes of strife,
In courts and temples past his peaceful life;
While I, in every chance of warfare tried,
Have fought, unwearied, by my monarch’s side,
And oft my buckler, from his threatened head
Has turn’d the dart, and foil’d the trenchant blade.
What! shall a monarch, by his troops ador’d,
Who burn for glory, and but wait his word
From countless sheaths to draw th’ impatient sword,
Within his leaguered bulwarks tamely stay,
Content to keep the threat’ning hosts at bay,
And mar that junction which, if rightly shown,
Is less his foes’ advantage than his own,
Till wearied, each shall quit our guarded plain,
But watch the moment for a fresh campaign?
Long is the war our realms must yet endure,
The peace but short, inglorious, insecure.
But let them meet, where nature’s interests jar,
A short alliance leads to deadlier war,
And mutual rage, distrust, and discontent,
Their force shall weaken, and their plans prevent:
If they delay the fight, our cause is won,
If they provoke it, need we wish to shun?
“’Tis for the coward, treacherous, cold, or weak,
Of caution, danger, doubt, defence, to speak;
Lord of a thousand hosts, a thousand lands,
This bolder plan our martial prince demands,
This, while his prudence gives it strength and weight,
Shall add new glories to our prosperous state.”
He ceased: in evil hour the listening throng
Their praises of this artful speech prolong;
In evil hour, this plan the monarch chose,
And bade his warriors snatch a short repose.
Sleep o’er the Gnomes her gentle influence shed,
Who to her bondage bow’d the willing head,
E’en mournful Henry own’d her balmy power;
Save Oreichalcon, all enjoy’d the hour.
But, can a traitor taste unbroken rest?
Is peace an inmate of the canker’d breast?
His father Calchos lov’d in early youth26
Fair Calamina with unshaken truth;
The king their union long forbade, and plann’d
To bless his favourite with Solfara’s hand.27
At length his anger rose, to find, that still
Their constancy opposed his royal will:
They shunn’d the gathering storm, to Pyros fled;
He blest their loves; and in his court they staid
Till jealous Chalcos deem’d the monarch ey’d,
With more than pity’s gaze, his gentle bride;
(For o’er the lovely exile’s form and face,
Her soft dejection shed a dangerous grace;)
And soon as she, with all a mother’s joy,
Gave to his father’s arms her smiling boy,
He bore her thence, Albruno’s grace they crave,
Who rais’d the suppliants, and their flight forgave.
Young Oreichalcon, with insidious art,
Soon work’d his passage to Albruno’s heart:
Envious of Chrysos’ well earn’d fame, his mind
To rise upon his rival’s fall design’d,
And wishes, almost to himself unknown,
In secret pointed to Albruno’s throne.
For this, he Pyros sought, with offers fair,
T’ ensure his conquest in the approaching war,
For this, so late, the fatal counsel gave,
That brought destruction, while it seem’d to save;
And from the king, Albruno’s power o’erthrown,
He, as his price, demanded Chrysos’ throne.
But Pyros, thro’ the flimsy veil descried
All that ambition lurking strove to hide,
And plann’d (distrustful of a traitor’s aid)
To crush him with the monarch he betray’d.
Meanwhile Marino, with unwearied haste,
Along the Gnome’s neglected frontier past;
Deep in a vale his weary troops retire,
Himself advanced to meet the Prince of Fire;
And strange it seem’d to see those hands, that late
Had grasp’d the quivering spear in mortal hate,
Now joined in friendship, while the kings debate
Their plan of war: — Should they their bands unite?
Or lead their armies separate to the fight?
But Fire’s brave prince, who saw, with eagle eye,
How ill his subjects brook’d their new ally,
Lest secret discord, lurking in their heart,
Should rouse a flame, would keep the hosts apart:
“Soon as the fleeting hours of truce expire,
Myself,” he said, “will lead the bands of fire.
While on the Gnomes we pour our utmost force,
Do thou, Marino, with a circling course,
Fall on their rear, with thine unbroken powers
Oppress their line, and victory is ours.”
He spoke, and parted; swift the hosts prepare
To quit their camps, and urge the deadly war;
But higher thoughts, though to his breast confin’d,
Ambition wakened in Marino’s mind.
And now, with speed, the martial bands arose,
The trumpet roused them from their brief repose,
For no sweet interchange of cheerful light,
In these dark realms, divides the day from night.
Not theirs ambrosial morning’s roseate ray,”
Or the mild lustre of departing day.
Now every chieftain, in a spacious plain,
In martial order rang’d his vassal train,
The king appointed there his bands to join,
Thence watch the motions of the adverse line,
Till spent and weakened by internal broils,
The prey should fall in Oreichalcon’s toils.
And lo! Albruno comes; on either side,
Before their king, the subject bands divide;
He darts his eye o’er each extended line,
And sees, with pride, such squadrons round him shine.
Six giants here, the patriarchs of the state,28
His chosen guards, in barbarous grandeur wait;
Unbent with age, the vast Granites bears29
The gather’d weight of twice three thousand years;
Those varied hues his stubborn corslet deck,
That grace the stately crane’s o’erarching neck.
In purple armour Porphyrites came,30
Tho’ less in stature, yet in strength the same.
Brave Marmaros, in vest of spotless white,
Hence draws his title of the stainless knight;31
Ophites’ garb fair Steatite bestow’d,32
With changing hues the varying texture glow’d;
A silvery lustre play’d o’er Schisto’s vest,
In crimson arms was Sienitos drest.33
Next, rang’d in order, the metallic line
Around their leader, honour’d Chrysos, shine.
By Oreichalcon’s harsh aspersions stung,
His peaceful robes aside the monarch flung,
And sought the fight, though still he feared to find
This seeming safety veil some ill behind,
As the smooth surface and luxuriant grass
Float o’er the horrors of the deep morass.
And now in arms of purest gold array’d,
More tall his stature seem’d, more firm his tread;
While Oreichalcon, sickening at the view,
His jaundic’d visage wore a greener hue,
And much he fear’d the sage’s piercing eye
The inward treach’ry of his thoughts should spy.
Chalcos beside him stood, his reverend sire,
Like him engag’d to aid the powers of fire,
Array’d in arms of every varying dye
That paints the rainbow of an April sky.34
Near these, his dauntless band Magnetes drew,
True to their leader, to their sovereign true;
Train’d to the fight, and nurs’d in war’s alarms,
Their field of pleasure is the field of arms:
There stood Sideros bold, and by his side
Chalyps, in many a fiery combat tried.
The sage Argyros with Molybdos near,
And brave Plumbago’s brother bands appear;
And with these veterans, many a youthful name
Yet unrecorded on the rolls of fame,
Each thirsts for glory, and impatient draws
His maiden falchion in Albruno’s cause.
The brave Stypterion leads his filial band,35
The pride and boast of many an eastern land;
Of hardest texture fram’d, their armour bright
Shone through the gloom in lines of dazzling light:
In former combats with the powers of fire,
Immortal glory did these troops acquire;
Nor less their argillaceous brethren claim
The hard-earn’d wreath of never-fading fame.
Tho’ not “in glittering arms and glory drest,”
With equal ardour glow’d each generous breast,
Practis’d their flexile forms to turn, to bend,
To close with speed, with speed their lines extend,
To shrink compacted, at the charge of fire,
Or broad expand, when aqueous foes require;
In every kind of warfare train’d and skill’d,
No foe appall’d, no force could make them yield,
Fresh fields to dare, to win, elate they ran,
And claim’d their right to combat in the van.
Next was Titanos; his white arms diffuse36
No changeful lustre, boast no varied hues;
Numerous his train, and like their leader drest,
But courage glow’d beneath the humble vest.
Near these Silexis’ hardy veterans stand,37
Unbent, untam’d, a firm determin’d band;
Yet with their savage strength, and haughty mien,
The pride of splendour and of dress was seen;
Bright were their polish’d shields, their corslets beam’d,
And from their helms the living lustre stream’d,
And now display’d the opal’s various hue,
The garnet’s crimson, or the sapphire’s blue.
Not with more splendour Uion’s sons could shine,
Or greater courage warm the Achaian line.
With them was Adamas, unconquer’d knight!38
His shield, his mail, insufferably bright;
In him, in action, as in form divine,
Achilles’ strength and manly beauty join. A leader’s place to him, in arms, they yield,
And gladly follow thro’ the embattled field.
Tho’ prized and honour’d for himself alone,
Alike his lineage and his birth unknown;
But some (how far unlike his sire!) declare
Him Carbon’s offspring, by a nymph of air.
Nor plain, nor rich, Magnesios’ band was seen,
Each, like his chief, attir’d in glossy green39
With them, Asbestos came, himself an host,
His foemen’s terror, and his kindred’s boast.
Strontia, Barytes, brother chiefs, were near:40
Next Ittria, Zircon, and Glucine appear,41
Gay was their armour, verdant, red, or blue,
Their hearts were valiant, but their troops were few,
Of various lineage, what a countless throng,
In warlike order ranged, demand the song!
But who now hither bends his hasty flight,
His face and armour of resplendent white?
’Tis Hydrargyras, — thro’ the gloom he springs,
His feet and head, like Hermes, arm’d with wings:
“My liege,” he cried, “the powers of fire are near,
A few short moments see their vanguard here;
Rang’d in a distant vale, the wat’ry line
Remain inactive, and the fight decline.”
He spoke: Albruno bids his squadrons form,
And still and silent wait the approaching storm.
“The moment comes, so long our warm desire,
The hour of conflict with the hosts of fire”—
Aloud he cried: the impetuous lines advance,
“Draw the bright sword, and grasp the beaming lance.
Be ye but firm, and each his post maintain,
These light arm’d foes shall waste their strength in vain,
As rocks the wave shall you their force withstand,
And crush at last the faint and weary band;
Vengeance and glory! be our signal cry,
Our firm resolve, to conquer or to die.
Be but yourselves, my sons, I wish no more,
And emulate your fathers’ deeds of yore;
So may their spirits, hovering o’er the place,
Your valour view, and glory in their race,
So may proud Pyros rue this fatal day,
And my glad bounty all your toils repay.”
Albruno ceas’d, meanwhile, with loyal love,
A snow-white scarf had Amiantha wove,42
Tho’ thin and flexile, yet, with wondrous art,
’Twas form’d impervious to the fiery dart.
Thro’ the close ranks, with eager haste, she prest,
And twin’d its folds around the monarch’s breast,
His grateful smiles and thanks her toil repaid,
And fill’d with trembling joy the blushing maid;
A sister’s glance she at Asbestos threw,
And then with swift, but timid, steps withdrew.
Now in the distance seen, a dim red light
Told where the foes rush’d onward to the fight:
First Kapnos, Spintheros, Aleinos, came,
Dalos, and Phlogos in his robe of flame;
Empreesmos, Anthrachis, Thermotes there,
With Spodos, Phlegon, Causimos appear,
And bright Ignicomus with blazing hair.
There Marmarygos, Chliarotes glow’d,
There his bright face the swift Lampedon show’d;
Beyond, of armed sprites a radiant train
With hasty footsteps shake the echoing plain;
High in the midst, the haughty Pyros shone,
By his bright arms and giant stature known,
His fiery mail with crimson lustre glow’d,
Like redd’ning Phoebus thro’ a misty cloud;
While his vast helmet shone with brighter blaze.
And mock’d the splendour of his noontide rays:
Of lambent flame wide wav’d his nodding plume,
And far dispell’d the subterranean gloom.
Like Jove’s own Ægis, his resplendent shield
With inward fear the rash beholder fill’d,
Round a bright orb of silver radiance, roll’d
The volum’d smoke in many a snaky fold.
Meanwhile the argillaceous bands oppose
A serried phalanx to their fiery foes,
Who, swift as glancing arrows, scour the plain,
Their lines unbroke, the fierce assault sustain,
Till to the charge the impetuous Pyros came,
On his fierce courser, born of wind and flame,
Of old, by poets sung, and Rabican his name.43
With all his force his flaming lance he cast,
The troops divide, the weapon harmless past.
The monarch rush’d between, in vain they close,
His rapid steed the astonish’d ranks o’erthrows:
His lance regain’d, alone, mid countless foes,
Speeds the victorious chieftain; in alarm,
The Gnomes affrighted, fly his potent arm;
His spear resistless spreads destruction round,
And vanquished heroes strew the smoking ground.
When brave Stypterion cheer’d his generous band,
Who pale with shame and rage inactive stand:
“All is not lost, my comrades, turn and face
Your foes — redeem the glory of your race!
’Twas not for this we claim’d this honour’d post,
Awhile let Pyros triumph, while his host
Shall feel our vengeance, and redeem our boast;
Our boast, the longest to contest the field,
The first to conquer, but the last to yield.”
So spake the indignant chief, and as he spoke,
At Pericautheis aim’d a mortal stroke;
Again, in firmer lines, his squadrons close,
And brave the impetuous onset of their foes.
But fate still guided Pyros’ conquering spear,
And death behind him stalk’d, before him fear.
First Theion fell, in arms of yellow hue,
And snowy Nitron next his fury knew,
At the first stroke, his arms in fragments fell,
And with an angry shout he bade the world farewell.44
Next, in his sable hauberk, Carbon came,
And stopt awhile the impatient Lord of Flame,
Without a wound, his fiercest blows withstood,
And then retired, repulsed, but unsubdued.45
Titanos next he quell’d; his fiery dart
The chieftain’s corslet pierc’d, and reach’d his heart,
Their leader’s fall his troops with terror fill’d,
In flight dispers’d, an easy prey they yield
To Pyros’ slaught’ring arm, who chas’d them o’er the field.
The trembling Gnomes with fearful wonder view’d
Whole squadrons by a single arm subdued.
To check the king, advanc’d two chiefs of fame,
Of races different, tho’ alike in name,
Their shields, their surcoats, and their arms the same;
In eastern climes one holds extensive sway,
And one Iberia’s noblest Gnomes obey.
The foes of Bacchus, they in times of old
By secret bonds the insidious god control’d,
Onward they prest, by shame and rage impell’d,
And broke their lances on his lifted shield.
The king unshaken, with fresh fury burns,
And each his blow with mightier force returns,
When, wondrous change! beneath his potent spear,
In different garb, the rival chiefs appear;
Late in Aurora’s purple glory drest,
Now Amethystos wears a silvery vest;
Unhurt he stands; a pure effulgence plays
Around his form, that mock’d the diamond’s blaze:
The Carthaginian by the blow was laid
A milk white corse, and all his lustre fled.46
Doubtful this change if fear or spells had wrought;
The monarch turn’d, and fresh opponents sought.
When now Asbestos, trusting in his might,
Provok’d the conquering chieftain to the fight.
So long his arm the powers of fire had brav’d,
So oft his monarch and his army sav’d,
Each adverse warrior lied his arm appalled,
And he th’ Invincible was justly call’d.
Yet slender was his frame; no plated vest,
No temper’d arms secur’d his manly breast,
Loose to his feet his Persian garments roll’d,
His head envelop’d in the turban’s fold;47
Yet nor the diamond’s strength, nor harden’d steel,
Could like those flowing robes the dart repel.
They met; and long unmov’d Asbestos bore
The utmost efforts of the fiery power,
Long seem’d almost the victor, till at length
So fierce a contest wasted all his strength:
He fell; a deadly pale his features wore,
White as the stones on Santorina’s shore.48
For Conquest from her sapphire throne on high,
Long wont on him to cast a partial eye,
In love still fickle as a mortal maid,
In all her glory Pyros now array’d.
Delusive flatterer! didst thou only come
To dress a lovelier victim for the tomb?
Didst thou Abestos’ fame and prowess raise,
To add new glories to his rival’s praise?
Ah! think how deep will be his sovereign’s sighs,
What tears will burst from Amiantha’s eyes,
What grief will sadden all his kindred train,
Who ne’er shall look upon his like again!”
While Pyros thus the conquer’d legions slew,
The rival king his bravest bands o’erthrew,
And many a sprite of fire in death deplor’d
Albruno’s prowess, and his absent lord.
Brave Dalos first; for vanquish’d in the strife,
His stiffening breast resign’d the flame of life.
Next Spodos, but no better fate he found,
His mangled limbs were scatter’d on the ground.
Their lot next Causimos and Anthrax share;
And now to meet him march the valiant pair,
Phlegon and Thermos, of illustrious race,
Cut with Pyrodes share their friends’ disgrace.
Now with Ignicomus in fight he stood,
His arm at length the fainting sprite subdued.
Swift was Pyrenemos, but swift in vain,
Albruno’s lance transfix’d him to the plain;
As vain Pyrigenes, thy strength, thy pride,
And vaunted lineage to thy king allied.
Next came Micante, bold but lovely maid,
Her graceful form in glittering arms array’d;
By proud Albruno’s sword her father died,
She dropt no tender tear, nor shriek’d, nor sigh’d,
But from her limbs she tore the flowing vest,
And seized his plated mail, and nodding crest,
“Be mine,” she cried, “the warrior’s stern attire,
Until I perish, or avenge my sire!”
Albruno’s mightier arm her lance defies,
Soon at his feet the lovely victim lies,
And death in darkness clos’d her radiant eyes.
Pyraustes flew to save, but flew too late,
He fell, and shared his loved Micante’s fate.
But now a straggler from the routed band
Reveal’d the deeds of Pyros’ slaught’ring hand;
Much mourn’d the king Abestos’, Calcios’ doom,
And hastes to save the living from the tomb.
Alike Albruno’s glories Pyros knew,
To aid his troops with equal haste he flew;
On fierce Albruno came — to meet the sprite
The fiery monarch rushes to the fight;
On either side their hosts the war suspend,
And eyes and ears in breathless silence bend.
First the proud Gnome his shining lance impell’d,
Which pierced, resistless, Pyros’ blazing shield,
Drove thro’ his crimson corslet and his vest,
But melted ere it reached the monarch’s breast.
Next Fire’s brave king; but, guiltless of a wound,
The spear at distance quiver’d in the ground:
He Pyraphlectos drew, his wondrous blade,49
In earth’s most secret cells by magic made,
By fire intense, unquenchable, illum’d,
For ever burning, ever unconsum’d.
Full on Albruno’s head the blow descends,
And from his helm the glittering crest it rends;
While faint, and staggering o’er the plain, he felt
The mighty prowess which the blow had dealt;
Loose on his nerveless arm his shield was slung,
And o’er his eyes the mists of darkness hung.
Against his breast now Pyros aims his sword,
His faithful Gnomes stood trembling for their lord.
Nought now can save him — Yes! the gift of love,
“The snow-white scarf by Amiantha wove,”
Unpierc’d repels the thrice repeated blow,
And foils the vengeance of his furious foe.
Recovering now, again Albruno sway’d
With firmer grasp his adamantine blade.
With equal strength, and fir’d with equal rage,
In fiercer fight the rival chiefs engage,
The blows to shun, alike they turn, they bend,
And swifter now the weighty strokes descend:
Loud clash’d their arms, and from their falchions bright,
Shields, helms, and corslets, stream’d the dazzling light.
But Oreichalcon chose this moment dire,
To lead his troops to join the powers of fire;
Sublime, upon his burnish’d steed he rode,
That steed which erst the Tartar King50 bestrode:
Which, at his master’s bidding, soars on high,
And treads the trackless azure of the sky,
Skims the bright surface of the emerald wave,
Or sinks from sight to earth’s most secret cave.
In regal pomp the Gnome his band precedes,
Behind, his troops the recreant Chalcos leads.
Wondring they find, to check their swift advance,
The expected friends extend the hostile lance,
Surprized, they scarcely raise the guardian shield,
And vanquish’d numbers spread th’ ensanguin’d field;
But on his flying steed the Gnome arose,
And floating o’er the fight, with ceaseless blows,
Now here, now there, assails the unwary foes;
First fell Pyrauges, in his brilliant course
Crush’d by the fury of the magic horse;
Pierc’d by his spear, the brave Perustos died,
His brazen falchion cleft Aleinos’ side,
But vain his valour; to his crimes decreed,
Justice meanwhile prepared the traitor’s meed,
Pyrobios gave the wound; his arms no more
Their golden glow and soft effulgence wore,
Or vied with Chrysos — like his dusky sire,
They shew the dark red hue of fading fire;51
In vain on high he turn’d his brazen steed,
In vain he urged “enchantment’s arrowy speed,”
As swiftly Phlogos, with dilated size,
And lifted lance, pursues his trembling prize,
Arrests his flight, and, with resistless force,
Destroys at once the rider and the horse.
Now Chalcos came; contending passions swell’d
His labouring bosom, and his arm impell’d:
Now on his shuddering view his treason broke,
And conscience, with her thousand stings, awoke:
He felt his hopes for ever laid in dust;
His honour blighted by his broken trust;
He mourn’d his son, but own’d his doom was just.
His fiery eyes with rage and vengeance glare,
He fights with all the fury of despair,
On Phlogos flies, his breast unguarded leaves,
And in his heart the fatal wound receives.
Their leader slain, dismay’d and spent his line,
In hasty course, their kindred Gnomes rejoin,
The fiery train the flying foe pursue,
The armies join, and all the fight renew.
Now Spintheros on stern Sideros flies,
Beneath his arm the Gnome expiring lies;
An equal fate Cobalto, Nickel, knew,
And on Tellurio next the warrior flew.
At Calaminos, Phlogos aim’d his dart,
And Kapnos plung’d his falchion to his heart.
But still distinguish’d from the vulgar dead;
In fleecy clouds the gentle spirit fled.52
To stop the tide of fate now Chrysos stood;
And first the bold Pyrophoros subdued,
And next Pyrosthenes, tho’ great in fight,
And brave Thermanticos confest his might;
His arm Chliaros and Thermotes felt,
On Phlogos next a mighty stroke he dealt,
But in the Sprite he found an equal foe,
Who fought untir’d, and echo’d blow for blow.
Their monarch’s darling, with the powers of flame.
His first essay in arms, Pyrides came,
Where brave Silexis’ hardy bands appear,
In hostile blood he dyed his maiden spear;
And Pyros, while the war allow’d, had eyed
His gallant offspring with a parent’s pride.
Amid the band a martial form was seen,
A Gallic prince, the bold Aventurine;53
Thick stars of gold adorn’d his crimson vest,
His crimson helmet bore a golden crest;
But from Pyrides’ arm a single stroke
Thro’ crest and helm, and spangled corslet broke;
His soul exhaling at the ghastly wound,
His members sunk, divided on the ground,
When Adamas, impell’d by shame aud ire,
Provok’d to fight the youthful Prince of Fire.
Surprized, he found, beneath a stripling’s form,
The skill and firmness of a veteran’s arm;
Yet long he bore the light; but faint at length,
As he relax’d his rival gather’d strength;
By slow degrees his force, his limbs decay,
His earthly form, exhausted, wears away,
The Sylph alone remains; his mother’s charms
Uniting with his former strength in arms,
On airy wings he floats above the war,
Shakes his thin vest, and wields his slender spear,
Turns on his foe, and grasps his crested head —
Prone at his feet the expiring prince is laid.
On victor still, thro’ crowded ranks he goes;
A single stroke annihilates his foes;
In vain they raise the shield, or strike, or fly,
He does but breathe, they fade, they sink, they die.
Swift as a pest advanced the sudden ill,
Such numbers fell, that few reniain’d to kill;
Tir’d with the work of death, he left the fight,
And soar’d to air to claim a Sylphid’s right;
Yet still, as mindful of his former birth,
He shuns the heights, and lingers near the earth,
In caves secluded flies the face of day,
Nor sports and flutters in the noontide ray;
And near his cell if stray the sprites of fire,
Beneath his arm their smother’d hosts expire.54
But whence proceeds this sullen murmuring roar.
Like billows breaking on a rocky shore?
And whence this coolness, this refreshing breeze,
Like Zephyrs breathing o’er the tranquil seas?
So late deprest, now rose the fiery line,
Their arms with renovated lustre shine,
Yet scarce the sprites the dubious fight renew,
Scarce could the mingled hosts their danger view,
Ere on their ranks the fierce Hydidae flew.
On friends and foes with equal rage they fall,
And undistinguished ruin whelms them all.
Pyridae, Gnomes, alike their hate forego,
And fly together from the common foe.
The kings, who still maintain’d the doubtful fight,
Beheld their forces mix’d in mutual flight,
And vainly strove to raise their vengeful hands
O’erpower’d and sever’d by the flying bands.
On rolls the impetuous host, where Chrysos stood
Amid his veterans, firm and unsubdu’d:
Phlogos with Chrysos yet the fight maintain’d,
Platina there Thermasion’s strength sustain’d;
There in bright arms around their honour’d sire,
Four gallant youths repel the powers of fire.
Iridion now, and Empyros engage,
And now Palladion braves Scintillus’ rage,
Now with the brave Lampedon Osmion fought,
With Spintheros the combat Rhodios sought.
Vain of his kindred, who had long withstood
All hostile arts, uninjured, unsubdued,55
Potassion came, in arms of dazzling white,
To prove his valour in the maiden fight;
E’en with the aquatic king he dares engage,
And falls the hapless victim of his rage;
The great Marino tost him o’er his head,
Where the poor youth a moment quivering laid,
At length in flames his failing limbs expire,
And water seem’d to wield the arms of fire.
His doom brave Sodion and Ammonias share,
His kinsman one, one half a child of air;
Next Calcion, Magnios, flew, but vainly brave,
Nor Barion, Strontias, more avail’d to save
Their kindred races and illustrious birth,
In flames they mingle with their parent earth.
Now passing on, that spot the victor sought
Where Marmarygos and Molybdos fought.
Touch’d by his weapon high in air they flew,56
The plain their mangled limbs descending strew.
What grief in reverend Chrysos rose, to find
Fulfilled the bodings of his prescient mind!
He call’d on Phlogos to suspend the fray;
Their leaders’ voices both the hosts obey.
“While we,” he said, “our partial fight maintain,
Behold what slaughter’d squadrons strew the plain;
Ah! what avails it if to thee I yield,
Or thou, o’ercome, shouldst press the empurpled field,
Short were our glory; while yon foes are nigh,
We fight to fall, and triumph but to die.
Then let us now our mutual hate resign,
And join our arms to meet yon hostile line.”
He ceas’d; the chief agreed — Each leader wound
His horn, to call the scatter’d Sprites around,
And many heard, but more, dispersed afar,
Lost its shrill note amid the din of war;
Or mix’d in combat, or o’ercome by fear,
Turn’d to its warning voice a careless ear.
And those who hastened at the bugle’s sound
Were faint with toil, and gor’d with many a wound.
When Phlogos spoke: “Tho’ lasting shame repay
The dastard wretch who flies in danger’s day,
Not more that chief deserves, when hope is lost,
Who madly rash, maintains an useless post,
And vainly falls amid his falling host.
Our troops are spent and few, an easy spoil
To foes more numerous, and unbroke by toil,
Then let us snatch them from this fatal fray,
And lead to combat on some happier day.”
Wise are thy words; alike should courage know,”
The Gnome replied, “to aim or stay the blow,
And none who fear or glory in thy might,
Dare call thee coward — our retreat a flight.”
Soon Phlogos form’d his squadron. — Soon his host
In distance and the increasing gloom was lost,
Yet, Parthian like, their vengeful arrows flew,
And turning, oft the combat they renew,
Till tir’d, their aqueous foes no more pursue.
With speed the reverend Chrysos rang’d his throng
In a square phalanx, close, compact, and strong;
Those six gigantic kings, who claim their birth
Ere man was form’d, coeval with the earth,
His rear-guard form’d — retreating, still oppose
Their front undaunted to the threat’ning foes.
Plemmyra, Cumos, Clydon, rage in vain,
Retreating still, they yet the fight maintain.
And now they came where, slain by Pyros hand,
A heap of dead o’erspread the burden’d laud;
There young Asbestos lay, depriv’d of breath,
Tho’ pale and cold, yet lovely e’en in death.
With grief the Gnomes so sad an object view’d,
In Chrysos’ eye the tear unbidden stood,
When thus he cried: “And art thou too a prey
To the dire rage of this ill-omen’d day?
Oh! who so brave in war’s destructive scene,
In peace so mild, so gentle, so serene!
Still on thy path propitious fortune smil’d,
And glory claim’d thee as her favourite child.
But now” — he paus’d — “thou shalt not lie,” he said,
“Dishonoured thus among the vulgar dead.
Not all our tears, alas! can bid thee live,
But yet my care a hero’s grave shall give.”
He spoke; and on a bier of lances made,
Four trusty Gnomes his lifeless form convey’d,
While still the giant chiefs the fight sustain,
Till safely shelter’d in their own domain.
Meanwhile, imprison’d in Cimmerian gloom,
Young Henry sate, expectant of his doom;
’Twas now the time when from the cavern far
Albruno’s chiefs their squadrons led to war;
No lightning flash’d, no thunder shook the ground,
Unbroken shade and silence reign’d around.
He sigh’d — “How long must I in darkness dwell,
The lonely tenant of this silent cell,
While to this dreary realm, through ways unknown,
Maria strays, unaided and alone!
Oh! who shall now her erring steps direct,
In fear sustain her, and from foes protect!
Or who, and soon the fatal time must come,
Oh! who shall guard her from the treacherous Gnome!
Yet still unshaken faith in Ariel’s power
Shall brace my mind to wait the eventful hour;
And here, tho’ night her thickest veil display,
Seraphic Hope shall beam a mimic day:
E’en now her radiance seems to pierce the gloom,
A sudden splendour fills the vaulted room,
Again she calls me to the realms above,
Restor’d to light, to liberty, and love.”
Not hope or fancy’s power supplied alone
The dawning light that thro’ the cavern shone,
Gave to the languid air a sudden spring,
Or shook sweet odours from the zephyr’s wing,
But clad in all the majesty of light,
Great Ariel’s self dispell’d primeval night.
“What madness fill’d thy mind, rash youth!” he cried,
“The fort to enter, in its lord confide?
His craft in courteous phrase but half conceal’d
Too well the unaccustom’d law reveal’d.
But let not vain regret the hours consume;
Haste! quit these realms of heart-appalling gloom.
While now the Gnomes a distant war maintain,
Hence to the regions of the roaring main,
Miranda there and noble Alfred aid,
Then seek at Pyros’ court the Spanish maid;
So in Maria’s cause, their spears with thine
May grateful Alfred and Alonzo join.”
He spoke; and at his touch from Henry’s hands,
Self loosen’d, dropt the adamantine bands.
As Gnomes disguis’d, unmark’d they swiftly tread
The caves that seem’d interminably spread;
At length they reach’d a spacious plain; on high
A ruby sun illum’d a sapphire sky,
Shed on the distant hills a crimson beam,
And shone reflected in a silver stream.
On emerald stalks, and bright with crystal dew,
Earth’s richest gems in flowery semblance grew;
The tulips there their agate leaves unfold,
And spartium blooms in imitative gold;
The hyacinth of amethystine hue
Shines near the paler gentian’s sapphire blue;
And on its slender stem of glittering green,
Aloft Hesperia’s golden fruit was seen.
Thus rich Peruvia’s patient sons, of old,
Wrought in a thousand forms the ductile gold,
Bade flowers expand, and yellow harvests spread,
And mimic woods the shining fields o’ershade.57
Thus in Arabian fancy’s sweetest theme,
Wove in the sunshine of her brightest dream,
She paints the garden whence Aladdin bore
The wondrous lamp, the talisman of power.
Albruno’s palace o’er the plain appear’d
A splendid pile, of Parian marble rear’d;
Four long arcades a spacious square enclose,
On every side a high pavilion rose;
Light pointed battlements the walls surround,
An open dome each corner turret crown’d.
Within the court, in grand array behold
Tall minarets and cupolas of gold;
Such are the piles the wanderer’s eye that feast,
Where fancy revels in her favourite east,
O’er Scythia’s plains to roving Tartars shine,
Or Moslems bound to Mecca’s holy shrine;
Or such the Indian temples, vast and grand,
By Delhi’s monarchs raised on Jumna’s strand.
Yet, oh! how small, this giant fabric near,
Proud man! would all thy loftiest works appear;
The Egyptian piles, Sophia’s vaunted dome!
Or the famed structures of majestic Rome!
One moment paused the adventurers, then in haste
The lofty portal’s ample arch they past,
Tread the rich pavement of the vaulted ile,
And mount by jasper steps the central pile;
They reach the council-hall; at Ariel’s hand
The valves that radiate golden light expand.
The pavement gay with various marbles shone;
High rose the monarch’s amethystine throne;
An azure dome the splendid chamber crown’d,
Where mimic stars the silver moon surround.
There giant Draco’s snaky volumes roll,
The northern team, the bear that guards the pole;
There bright Andromeda and Perseus shone,
And Cassiopeia on her glittering throne,
Bootes stern, and Ariadne’s crown.
Their forms so well the skilful painter drew,
So nicely mock’d the heaven’s ethereal blue,
That Henry paus’d, as hoping to inhale
The cooling freshness of the evening gale.
The ancient annals of the Gnomian race
The golden walls in pictur’d beauty grace;
Here to Albruno’s might the Hydidæ yield,
There fire’s exhausted legions quit the field;
The victor Gnomes their vanquish’d foes pursue,
And dying forms the smoking ground bestrew.
Here in a cave conceal’d from mortal sight,
A lamp diffused its everlasting light;
His ponderous mace a brazen statue rear’d
As the last step the bold adventurer dar’d,
Prepar’d, with one remorseless blow, to shroud
The invalued secret in perpetual cloud;58
In Egypt’s tombs thus burn the quenchless fires.
Thus with admitted air the light expires.
The painter’s skill next bade the scene appear
Where mourns Belinda for her ravish’d hair;
Malignant Umbriel’s baleful hand unties
The fatal bag of passions, sobs, and sighs,
“Full o’er their heads the swelling sack he rent,
And all the furies issued at the vent.”59
There Juliana quits the realms above,
In Idria’s mine to tend her banish’d love,
And braves the baleful fogs and noisome air,
Resolved his toil, his lingering death, to share,
With anguish pines his fading form to see,
And weeps Theresa’s harsh but just decree,
Till mov’d to mercy by their guardian sprite,
The queen restores the pair to upper light.60
These, as he slowly left the council-hall,
His own sad fate to Henry’s mind recall.
Through many a spacious gallery Ariel led;
Their steps a small secluded chamber staid.
Before a throne of ruby hue behold
An emerald tripod grac’d with sculptur’d gold,
Where firmly bound by adamantine chains,
A crystal vase the fatal Veil contains.
Beyond, its beams a wondrous mirror gave,
That both illumines and reflects the cave,
Like that strange gem instinct with life and light,
That self suspended shines and chases night.61
Unconsciously as Henry near it stood,
Himself restor’d to native form he view’d.
“That glass,” said Ariel, “framed by magic charms,
Reflects substantial and ethereal forms;
No nice disguise the real shape conceals,
Its power the bosom's inmost thoughts reveals.
And when, absorb'd in rays of solar light,
Their lucid forms too fine for mortal sight,
The sylphids revel in the noontide blaze,
Its polish'd face their airy band betrays.
“Form’d by Dyr Zoro in deep Komri’s cave,
To Canace this mirror Acban gave;
Here first the nymph her destin’d spouse survey’d,
Its power the treacherous Acban’s fraud betray’d,
Timourshah’s truth and Erbol’s guilt display’d.
This, when Cambuscan, whose proud mind disdain’d
To share with magic, wreaths by valour gain’d,
True to his vow, his brazen courser rode
To Kaf’s vast height, by mortal erst untrod,
Above the clouds, upon its peak to fling
The virtuous glass, the sabre, and the ring,
From its huge adamantine spire, the Gnome
Triumphant bore to this majestic dome.62
But from its influence haste, nor rashly dare
Thy sure detection, should a Gnome appear.”
The youth meanwhile scarce heeded Ariel’s tale,
But fixt his eyes upon the fatal Veil;
Yet, at his call, he rais’d his thoughtful head,
And while his face hope’s liveliest glow o’erspread,
Mov’d from the spot, and thus impassion’d said.
“Why pause we thus, while none the deed oppose,
To snatch this prize from our unheeding foes?
Foiled in his art, if we the pledge regain,
The baffled Gnome may rage and storm in vain.”
While thus he speaks, his eager arms he strains
To reach the casket that the Veil contains,
But Ariel seiz’d his arm, and flung him far:
“Desist, mad youth, nor thus destruction dare!
Fixt by Albruno’s power, this casket stands,
Nor moves, nor opens at another’s hands;
While touch’d by hidden springs, his snares surprize
The unconscious wretch who seeks the fatal prize.
Yet had its loss fulfill’d our bold design,
Or fraud, or force, had borne it from the mine;
But know, the casket, from his reach convey’d,
Frees not the promise of the hapless maid,
Himself alone, tho’ gain’d by fraud his power,
Must yield Maria, and the Veil restore.
“But hark! what means this sudden noise without?
That mournful cry, and that exulting shout?
Those varied sounds the finished fight declare,
Haste, quit the palace, ere the Gnomes appear.”
Soon they beheld where Chrysos’ faithful train
In solemn silence bore Asbestos slain;
With eager looks, as slow they mov’d along,
Around the chief the anxious numbers throng,
To mourn Asbestos, of the fight inquire,
And learn the doom of brother, friend, or sire:
As various fates attend them, beauty’s eye
The soft effulgence beam’d of hope and joy,
Or shone more keenly thro’ her streaming tears,
As brighter light thro’ polish’d glass appears.
By contrast heighten’d, there delight and fear,
Despair and joy, and love and hate appear,
As the sun’s radiance on the mountain’s brow
In double darkness shews the glen below.
Than all more fair, now Amiantha came,
While strange forebodings agitate her frame.
Scarce could the chief the trembling accents hear,
That told at once her wishes and her fear;
But while she waits his slow reply, the maid,
With looks aghast, her brother’s corse survey’d:
She shriek’d, — then o’er him bent in silent woe,
While grief too great forbade her tears to flow.
On her his glistening eye brave Chrysos turn’d,
The maid he pitied, and the brother mourn’d;
But gathering numbers force him to declare
The changeful fortunes of the fatal war:
How Pyros rag’d, how Adamas had fought,
What mighty deeds Albruno’s prowess wrought;
And here the nymph half rais’d her from the bier,
And half forgot her brother’s loss, to hear
The glorious trophies of Albruno’s spear.
But when, while fortune crown’d their first desire,
And from the fight their fainting foes retire,
He told how false Marino’s squadrons came,
And whelm’d at once the hosts of earth and flame, —
Then Ariel from the croud young Henry led,
“The war recalls me from these realms, he said;
For rash Marino, either chief o’erthrown,
May quit these kingdoms and assail mine own.
But here thy guide, this faithful magnet, view,
Still to the north thy steady course pursue,
And soon shalt thou the rocky frontier gain,
Where Oros guards the passage to the main.
This wand in slumber shall his senses steep,
And shield thee from the monsters of the deep.
But then no more the Gnome’s dark semblance wear,
’Tis here thy safety, but thy danger there.
Last, take this casket; dark its surface seems,
Yet it, condens’d, contains ethereal beams;
This slender spring unlocks the hidden rays,
Pure and exhaustless as the solar blaze:
This lights thy progress: swift thy course pursue,
Maria’s welfare is my care — adieu.”
So swift the monarch vanish’d from his sight,
That Henry’s eye could scarcely mark his flight.
The lamp he took — thro’ many a cavern vast,
Whose scatter’d crystals glimmer’d as he past,
Thro’ clefts which freezing floods in rocks had made,
Or air confm’d, or struggling fires, he stray’d,
And many a vein of mineral wealth explores,
Where the rich metals slumber in their ores;
There gold’s rich purple was luxuriant seen,
And iron’s red, and copper’s brilliant green.
Oft on the earth the issuing flame reveals
The treasur’d hoard the barren soil conceals.63
And now he past a mass of shining ore,
Whose polish’d face a silvery lustre wore,
But as, by chance, the guiding lamp he rais’d,
His lifted arm the glittering surface grazed;
Slight was the touch; and, patient of the stroke,
No fragments shiver’d from the stricken rock;
But when another night had past away,
And all the Gnomes in peaceful slumber lay,
A loud explosion shook the caves around,
The Gnomes, astonish’d, hasten’d at the sound;
Vast was the chasm, and like untempered glass,
In thousand atoms laid the broken mass.64
Now chang’d the scene — no more in solid blocks.
Of size immense, ascend the lofty rocks;
Disjointed, broken, every cleft contains
Alluvial earth, and organiz’d remains.
The strata now proclaim their watry birth,
And grasp the harder nucleus of the earth;
The fragments here in mouldering ruin hurl’d,
Of many a race that fill’d the early world,
Where watry relics earthborn tribes surround,
And tropic fruits in polar climes are found;
Where bodies chang’d, a mineral lustre give,
And buried forests still in coal survive;
The strata now erected, now deprest,
Now disappearing, now again confest,
The events of unrecorded time declare,
Sad monuments of elemental war.
Here in calcareous rocks, vast torrents force
The snowy bed of their impetuous course;
Or from the fires that burn unquench’d beneath,
Thro’ narrow clefts sulphureous odours breathe.
A city next he reach’d: — as crystal clear,
The ramparts high, and domes of salt appear.
Such was the pile where lovely Bertha dwelt,
While Ufo’s form the strange enchantment felt,
Until the seventh revolving moon restor’d
Again to human shape her dolphin lord.65
Here lamps dependent mock the blaze of day,
And all within the faithless walls betray.
Sprightly, and high in bold Marino’s grace,
His subjects once, here dwelt an active race.
Now conquer’d by Albruno’s arms, his sway,
With vain regret, the vanquish’d tribe obey.66
Soon Henry past them, soon he hears the roar
Of billows breaking on a distant shore.
A rock of granite insulated rose
Where mighty Oros' giant limbs repose,
While stretch'd around the shore, a faithful band,
The bold Basaltes, giant warriors, stand,
A hardy race, and garrison the land.67
To guard the opposing frontiers of the main,
Undaunted Cumos leads a countless train;
A valiant chief, but swiftly rous’d to ire,
Seldom he slept, no toil his limbs could tire.
Yet either chief a sudden slumber found,
As Henry, passing, wav’d his wand around.
Who now, to human form again restor’d,
The vast recesses of the deep explor’d.
Meanwhile, the armies, still in fight engaged,
A triple war with fiercer fury wag’d,
Such numbers fled, such numbers strew’d the plain,
Wondrous it were to view what hosts remain.
In countless throngs the aquatic legions pour,
And ranks succeeding urge the ranks before,
While, as their routed foes promiscuous fly,
Or sink in death, fresh troops their place supply.
It seemed, (as in creation’s primal hour,)
That earth resum’d her vivifying power;
While the same stroke, that laid the fiery train
Prone in the dust, revived their strength again:
As breathing on her lamp, some careful dame
At once destroys and renovates the flame.
Still unsubdued, Silexis’ bands appear,
And bold Stypterion’s lines provoke the war.
On great Marino rush’d, with glory fir’d,
The dread of all, and yet by all admir’d;
A thousand weighty strokes he dealt around,
None dealt in vain, and death in every wound,
While still his myriads, rank by rank impell’d,
Rush headlong on, and throng the narrow field,
Till pent and crush’d amid the countless train,
Fear strove to fly, and valour raged in vain,
Still as they fight, they seem in height to grow,
And whelm with deadlier weight the prostrate foe;
Their forms dilated to gigantic size,
High o’er the field the bold Hydidæ rise,
Bear in their arms their mangled foes aloof,
And hurl with fury at the vaulted roof;
Confused and prest, they fight and struggle there,
So near, their shouts disturb’d the powers of air:
In vain the concave with their force expands,
Their growing bulk a wider field demands.
At length the ribs of solid rock give way!
They force a passage to the realms of day:
The Sylphs retire, and trembling with affright,
The Gnomes malignant eye the unusual light.68
’Twas night’s meridian; on the tranquil scene
Pale Cynthia shed her silver ray serene,
And scarce a zephyr breath’d their sweets to bear
From countless flowers that scent the Alpine air;
Still were the hamlets in the glens below,
The flocks slept peaceful on the mountain’s brow,
When starting from the turf, in panic fear,
They clustering ran, as warn’d of danger near;69
Their shaggy guards howl’d hideous at the sound
Of low deep thunder in the hollow ground.
Appall’d, the shepherd sees a mount arise —
It swells — it bursts — dense vapours veil the skies,
While from the volum’d rings of smoke and flame,
The noise of arms — the cries of combat came.
Strange tumult rent the vault of heaven — and earth,
Affrighted, trembled at her monstrous birth!
As borne impetuous by their aqueous foes,
Of earth and fire the mingled armies rose.
The sudden flash illum’d the scene, and spread
The lurid concave with a fearful red,
While, by the Hydidae hurl’d, they soar on high,
A thousand blazing meteors to the sky,
That burn a moment, then descend and die.
Still from the new-form’d gulf the legions throng,
And pour a flood of living fire along:
Its headlong course no mounds, no barriers stay,
It rolls resistless down the rapid way,
Crush’d is the promise of the vernal year,
The grain scarce budding in the tender ear,
The prostrate vines before their fury yield,
And groves of olives blaze along the field;
The oaks mature, like tender saplings, fall,
They melt the rock, and burst the massy wall;
From slumber rous’d, the city’s peaceful train
Behold the falling tower, the blazing fane,
Fly from their menac’d dwellings in despair,
And weep, and raise their clasped hands in prayer.
In vain their holiest relics are display’d!
In vain a thousand saints invok’d to aid!
Still with fierce rage the Sprites maintain the war,
Still louder swells the battle’s deafening roar,
Still to the skies the fiery stream ascends,
Still deepest darkness o’er the earth extends,
Save the quick darting flame, that frequent broke
Thro’ the thick volumes of sulphureous smoke,
Or the red light that glow’d along the plain,
From gleaming arms, and fire’s expiring train.
But Ariel now from rescued Henry flew,
And pierced the distant heaven’s ethereal blue:
Above the clouds, he reach’d his throne of light,
Whence half the globe expands beneath his sight;
(That wondrous throne, where Scandinavia’s race
Their fabled god, their barbarous Odin place;)70
He mark’d those clouds of rising smoke, that shone
In silvery light beneath the placid moon,
And pierced with eagle eye their sable womb,
Where flames terrific light the fearful gloom;
And mid the clash of arms, the ceaseless din,
A second chaos seem’d to rage within.
As thro’ the gulf the mingled legions pour,
Tumultuous still! an inexhausted store,
In vain the Sylphs impede them as they rise,
Or headlong hurl them from the invaded skies;
To share their fate unnumber’d troops succeed,
And friends and foes in strife promiscuous bleed.
But mighty Ariel, who with grief survey ‘d
The dreadful havoc by the Hydidæ made,
Resolved to end the war — A glance lie cast
Where near his throne a minor planet past,
There oft these orbs their burning faces shew,
Their names are meteors with the world below.71
He seized the wanderer, reckless of its weight,
And swift thro’ ether wing’d his radiant flight;
Soon o’er the gulf he hung — the orb he cast,
The Sylphids flying as it whistled past;
Down in its course the issuing Sprites it bore,
And closed the cavern’s mouth for evermore:
Fixt to the spot, till time’s remotest hour
That stone shall rest the mark of Ariel’s power.
Back by his arm the clouds of smoke were driven,
Again the moon illumes the azure heaven;
Yet still the cries of warriors maim’d in fight
Disturb the sacred silence of the night,
The dreary scene thick dust and ashes spread,
And broken arms, and bodies of the dead.
From conflict by their flying squadrons borne,
Again to fight the rival kings return.
Albruno, Pyros, view’d with equal pain,
How few of all their gallant bands remain;
Alike Marino mourn’d his valiant host,
Dishearten’d, weak, his bravest warriors lost;
Too late repentant of the havoc done,
Where all were weaken’d, yet victorious none:
In triple truce the rival kings agreed,
And from the field their shatter’d forces lead.
The Muse now quits the drear abode of night,
The clash of arms, the tumult of the fight,
For Ether’s gladsome realms, and cheerful light,
Where, in the fort, the mournful maids remain,
And Alfred and Alonzo guard the plain.
Behind the eastern trees the moon was seen
In silver lustre thro’ their deep’ning green;
Now on the fort her placid radiance falls,
And gives new grandeur to the massy walls.
Bright on the view the lofty turrets rose,
While the deep shades in lengthen’d gloom repose.
His loss discover’d by the expanding light,
Now anxious Alfred seeks Maria’s knight;
For when Albruno dar’d him to the field,
A sable cloud the combatants conceal’d.
Vainly he sought, and unmolested past,
Where’er the moon her soft effulgence cast:
But where the building wrapt the ground in shade,
Forth from the gloom emerged a lovely maid.
Miranda’s seem’d the form, as veil’d in white,
She, like a phantom, burst upon his sight.
“Thus unattended, at this awful hour,
Why does Miranda quit the sheltering tower?
Front this chill air, these midnight dews, retire,
Your wearied frame must rest and sleep require.”
“Nor rest nor sleep are mine,” the maid replies,
“While still in doubt my future prospect lies.
Mov'd by my prayers, unnotic'd by the guard,
A page for me a secret door unbarr'd;
Long is our journey, and the morning ray
Must find us far upon our toilsome way,
Our harness'd steeds now wait beneath yon tree,
So waste not time in words, but follow me."
Thro' the thick covert of a lofty wood,
The travellers long their rapid way pursued;
At length less thick arose the leafy screen,
And moonbeams trembled thro' the waving green.
More thinly scatter'd, now the trees display'd
Less towering height, and less majestic shade;
Now short thin grass and purple heath alone
Clothe the bleak summits of the chalky down;
And when the ocean burst upon their sight,
Its waves just trembled in the dawning light.
“Oh, haste,” the maiden cried, “our lingering course;
My vessel waits.” She urged her foaming horse,
And Alfred followed. Soon the glowing skies
Cast o’er the deep Aurora’s purple dyes;
And, as they reach’d the strand, Hyperion gave
A golden tincture to the sparkling wave.
But now the cock was heard, and at the sound
The wanderers, hurl’d astonish’d to the ground,
Sought for their vanish’d steeds. A gentle breeze
Swept the bright surface of the tranquil seas,
And raised the silken scarf that screen’d with care
The damsel’s features from the morning air,
While Alfred gazed in hope once more to prove
The sweet enchantment of her looks of love;
But, tho’ as fair as ever painter drew,
’Twas not Miranda’s face — her eye of blue
Ne’er shew’d the ungovern’d anger and despair
That mark’d the features of the stranger fair.
Sudden her voice assum’d its softest tone, -
Her looks were mournful, but their rage was gone;
Her bosom seem’d to struggle with a sigh,
A tear to tremble in her downcast eye.
“Alas! yon rising sun — too soon betray’d,
My sweetest hopes are fled!” exclaim’d the maid.
“Yet stay, dear youth! and let thine heart approve,
At least my fraud forgive, the fraud of love!
And hear my prayer — yet, ah! too well I see
The cause that turns thy face in scorn from me.
Thy heart has felt the pangs that torture mine,
And all the griefs of hopeless love are thine;
For well thou know’st no force can burst the band
That with Marino’s links Miranda’s hand:
And when yon sun again begins his course,
On her the spell exerts resistless force. —
I do not speak to wound thy feeling heart,
For in each pang I bear an equal part.
Yet since thyself must own thy passion vain,
By one blest effort break the fatal chain,
And turn from her whom fate denies, to one
Who lives, and feels, and breathes for thee alone,
In me behold a daughter of the wave,
Now let me waft thee to my coral cave.
Oh! lovelier far those regions of the main
Than bards can paint, or eastern fancy feign;
Our wealth and pomp might tire a miser’s eyes;
But Alfred’s heart can wealth and pomp despise!
In those blest realms we neither feel nor fear
The seasons varying with the changing year.
With you, when summer smiles or winter lours,
Unfading spring and equal warmth are ours;
And when the moon deserts your dreary night,
Our living lamps supply a softer light. — 72
I speak in vain — thy thoughts for ever stray
To her in silence slumbering far away. —
Yet come with me; this form, which you despise,
These locks dishevell’d, and these weeping eyes,
Shall bid an hundred knights their lances rear,
Knights not unworthy of my Alfred’s spear!
If thou command, my words their fury rouse
To tear the garland from Marino’s brows,
And force the conquer’d monarch to resign
The envied Veil, and make Miranda thine,
While I retire and shun the face of day,
And, far from thee, in tears dissolve away. —
Still dost thou doubt my truth, or scorn my aid?
Know that the ocean cannot boast a maid
Whose birth or rank surpasses mine; and fame
May e’en to thee have borne Lymnoria’s name.”
“Lymnoria! false, perfidious wretch!” he said,
And turn’d indignant from the astonish’d maid.
“Yes! well Lymnoria’s name and arts I know,
Those arts, the source of all our toils and woe.
Hence! boast my faith betrayed, and tell how long
I madly listen’d to thy treacherous tongue.”
He spoke: — her curses followed as he flew.
“Hence, hateful wretch! may ill thy steps pursue!
Hence to Miranda! — nay, thou need’st not fear;
It was not love, but hate that brought me here.
I knew Marino’s mood, his jealousy
I wish’d to rouse, and ruin her and thee.
Tho’ scorned and foiled, if wonted skill be mine,
She ne’er shall be Marino’s bride — nor thine.
To frame a deeper snare I seek my cave.”
She spoke, and plunged indignant in the wave.
Alfred scarce gone, Alonzo hears the alarms
Of earnest fight, and sees the gleam of arms;
Advancing to the spot, he viewed his friend
With two strong knights on noble steeds contend;
And now the first his manly arm has slain,
Who still in dying grasp’d his courser’s rein,
While, faint with wounds, the victor prest the plain;
Yet begs Alonzo, with his latest breath,
To guard Miranda, and avenge his death.
He mounts the vacant steed — The stranger knight
Turns his swift courser and declines the fight.
He flies — Alonzo follows. — As he flew,
His spear the Spaniard at the caitiff threw,
When, lo! in flames he vanish’d from his view;
He leaves his steed, and seeks his spear — in vain.
Nor spear, nor steed, Alonzo finds again.
Bewilder’d in the gloom, no path to guide
Thro’ shades that spread alike on every side,
He strays, and mourns his hopes by magic crost,
His post deserted, and the fortress lost;
And when the morning broke, the feeble ray
No path discovered to direct his way.
Whene’er his steps pursue some seeming track,
It sinks in wood, or circling leads him back.
At length he thought, — “When first my eyes survey’d
This fort, whose fatal law my steps betray’d,
In western skies the setting orb of day
Tipt its high turrets with a lingering ray;
Dark rose its walls embattled on the sight,
And grimly frown’d amid the crimson light,
Hence westward lies the fort — that course pursu’d,
Ere long must lead me from this fatal wood.”
Fresh hope and strength the welcome thought bestow’d,
Less thick the wood, less toilsome seem’d the road.
And soon the Castle’s rising towers he sees
O’er the high summits of the waving trees.
Arriv’d, for entrance long in vain he calls. —
The surly warder answer’d from the walls:
“No second entrance here our laws allow
To recreant warriors who forget their vow,
And leave their posts unguarded in the night; —
The maids departed with the dawning light.”
He spoke: suspicion fill’d Alonzo’s breast,
Tho’ all unwont to harbour such a guest:
His brave companions vanish’d from his sight;
Himself deluded by the magic knight;
The law unusual, which had thus remov’d
From his protecting arm the maid he loved;
All from one common source appear’d to spring, —
The jealous hatred of the fiery king.
“’Tis false!” he cried; “the maids are here, and I
Will win a passage to their sight, or die.”
Now to the walls the wily Baron came;
“Sir knight,” he said, “your own base conduct blame;
In vain with rage an entrance you demand,
We scorn the prowess of a single hand.
But come and prove, the maids no longer here,
Alike unjust your anger and your fear.”
He ceased: — the drawbridge falls — Alonzo’s mind
Already half its late distrust resign’d.
He past, and turning, wild with anguish, found
The bridge again uprais’d, himself on hostile ground;
The vassals, at their fraudful lord’s commands,
Prepar’d to bind him in ignoble bands;
Lost was his spear, but swift his sword he drew,
The first he wounded and the next he slew,
And on their chief with double fury flew.
But vain his strength, the villain fought secure,
In skill, but more in temper’d armour, sure.
Alonzo’s sword, unfaithful to his hand,
In shining fragments glitter’d on the sand.
Yet still his art eludes the coming blow,
And grasps with sinewy arms his hardy foe.
Long was the strife, as o’er the narrow plain
Struggling they fight — retreat — advance again.
The Baron’s limbs to time and labour yield,
Prest by his foe, he sinks upon the field;
At this, long peals of thunder shook the sky,
The fallen chieftain fled Alonzo’s eye:
The walls, the towers that caught the morning beam,
The moat, the drawbridge, vanish’d like a dream!
He mark’d the change; then sunk in trance profound,
And woke, where Genoa stretch’d her bay around:
’Twas on a vessel’s deck, prepar’d to sail,
The joyful crew observe the rising gale;
The swelling canvass spread, the ship unmoor,
And seek (with him) the Liparean shore.
Meanwhile the maids, who, in a dungeon’s gloom,
All night imprison’d, had bewailed their doom,
Now saw the walls in air dissolve away,
And hail’d the sudden flash of purple day.
Amaz’d, upon the vacant plain they stood,
Where their freed palfreys cropt their verdant food;
When thus a voice was heard — “Dismiss your fear,
Pursue your way, and trust to Ariel’s care.”
Cheer’d by the friendly voice, the nymphs obey;
Their steeds, spontaneous, take the destin’d way;
And, when a secret fear their looks betray’d,
Thus Leonora cheers each drooping maid.
“Though now our champions fled, their fate unknown,
Through dreary ways we wander, and alone,
Rely on Ariel’s word. The prince of air
Shall make our warriors, like ourselves, his care.
And should he fail, although on Albion’s shore,
’Gainst lawless force, no generous lions roar,
The guards of virtue, as in days of yore,
Ours are the arms no warrior dares defy, —
The lightnings beaming from a lady’s eye;
Nor shield, nor plated mail, repels the dart,
Through all it glides, and pierces to the heart.
So bards have sung; — and where shall eyes be found,
That like Maria’s, or Miranda’s, wound?
E’en mine, tho’ dim, shall flash with virtuous ire,
And beam in your defence their keenest fire.”
Her words their hearts revive; and now they found
A spear implanted firmly in the ground;
The same that, ere he vanish’d from his view,
The bold Alonzo at the phantom threw.
“Behold,” the maid pursu’d, “propitious heaven,
Your eyes to aid, this wondrous lance has given;
Here planted by some sage magician’s hands,
To grace a favour’d warrior’s arm it stands;
That arm is mine — try one, try all, to free
Its buried barb, and prove, by fate’s decree,
This mighty weapon is reserved for me.”
Misfortune oft in mirthful guise appears,
And woe, at times, will frolic, tho’ in tears.
Maria strives and yields, as sorely griev’d
To leave this great adventure unachiev’d.
Like her, Miranda, yet but feebly, tries,
And, with affected sorrow, quits the prize.
But Leonora conies with all her strength,
And tugs, and tears it from the ground at length,
And as elate she shakes it high in air,
Darts looks of triumph on each vanquish’d fair.
But, lo! a maid advances o’er the plain,
Whose garb proclaims a daughter of the main.
Fair was her form; with pearls embroider’d round,
Her robe of snowy coral swept the ground.
Pearl was her zone — of pearl the wand she bore,
And pearl the splendid coronet she wore;
Loose flow’d her lucid veil of softest blue,
That shone by turns with every varying hue,
Like dew drops to its filmy texture clung,
The scatter’d pearls around its border hung;
O’er the whole figure of the ocean maid,
Like Cynthia’s light, a silvery lustre play’d.
“Fair wanderers hail!” she said, “from ocean’s caves
A hapless nymph your kind attention craves;
I quit my native realm, to guide and aid,
At great Marino’s court, a suppliant maid;
Those sparkling eyes declare success is near —
And hope already greets Miranda here.” —
The maid replied, “May every joy be thine,
Who, tho’ unknown, an interest takest in mine!
A sage, whose eye events to come descried,
Bade me with speed repair to ocean’s side,
A pearl should meet me — to Marino’s court
My steps direct, and there my suit support;
Then if my woes have touch’d your gentle mind,
Assist my search this precious gem to find.”
Smiling, the nymph rejoin’d, “Behold, reveal’d
The truth the sage in mystic words conceal’d,
A pearl implied in Marguerita’s name;
With bolder hope I now shall aid thy claim,
Foretold thy guide — no thanks are justly mine,
For fate has link’d my happiness with thine.
“Two different races mingle in my birth,
A nymph my mother, but my sire of earth,
And hence from them the double power I bear,
To breathe the crystal tide, or lighter air.
“Twelve changing moons had scarcely past away,
Since we had seen Lymnoria’s power decay,
When flush’d with conquest o’er the haughty Gnome,
Our king return’d in solemn triumph home,
And all the ocean chiefs with costly care,
To greet their lord a festival prepare;
The morn a splendid tournament display’d,
Where shone the knights in martial pomp array’d,
Each warrior’s lance a broider’d pendant bears,
Grac’d with the name of her whose chains he wears,
And they whose champions vanquish’d press the field,
The prize of beauty to their rivals yield;
Aloft each nymph beholds with joyful eye
For her the chance of war her knight defy,
And oft, when courage fails, and hope expires,
New strength, new zeal, her cheering glance inspires.
“At first from all Lymnoria’s valiant knight
Their favours bore, the trophies of the fight,
While rais’d upon a coral throne she sate,
And watch’d his glorious course with heart elate;
Her gorgeous robe with regal splendour shone,
The scarlet coral form’d a mimic crown,
Her clustering locks rich chains of pearl confine,
Her whiter arms the clasping pearls outshine;
It seem’d alike that art and nature vied
To deck that lovely form, their mutual pride.
Perhaps she hop’d that hour again might wind
Her fatal fetters round Marino’s mind.
Ah! less seductive were Armida’s smiles,
And less pernicious her delusive wiles;
Tho’ known her fraud, Lymnoria’s charms detain
Unnumber’d knights in love’s delightful chain,
To all her smiles deceitful hopes impart,
Pleas’d to be dup’d, tho’ conscious of her art,
Or if against her beauty’s sway they strive,
Her looks their love and fading hope revive.
But lo! Marino comes; his noble steed
Active and strong, the pride of ocean’s breed;
The treasures of the deep his mail compos’d,
Corals and shells in bright array dispos’d,
A pearly Nautilus his helmet made,
The green Confervæ nodded o’er his head,
The Walrus gave the ivory horn he wore,73
A Chama form’d the massy shield he bore,74
The Xiphias horn his polish’d lance supplied,
And the bright sword that glitter’d at his side.75
Soon to his might all rival warriors yield,
And last Lymnoria’s champion prest the field,
But then her cheek’s vermilion hue betray’d
The secret rage that stung the wily maid,
While (pledge of conquest) from the lance he bore,
Her blazon’d name the royal victor tore,
Her hand that purple pennon wrought with care,
The name embroider’d in her golden hair.
“Marino now, all rival knights subdu’d,
The prize to claim before the judges stood;
The victor’s meed a sparkling helmet shines,
Won from the mighty monarch of the mines,
And a bright zone, of pearl and coral rare,
The victor’s tribute to his chosen fair.
But on that morn, Marino to the fight
Came not acknowledg’d as a lady’s knight;
Around the ring awhile in doubt he rode,
To view where best the prize might be bestow’d;
While hop’d Lymnoria to receive once more
That envied honour oft bestow’d before;
But no! the monarch, with a careless eye,
Just glanc’d upon the maid, and pass’d her by;
Meanwhile his martial mien, and known desert,
Had wak’d a strange sensation in my heart,
And as he in the circle rode, I found
My eyes unconsciously had watch’d him round;
At length before my seat behold him stand,
The radiant girdle waving in his hand.
“‘To thee, the loveliest of the lovely throng,’
He said, ‘this girdle can alone belong.’
“With trembling hand the precious belt I took,
My tott’ring frame with strange emotion shook,
In vain I tried the lively thanks to speak
That shone in crimson on my glowing cheek;
When lo! in happy hour, a piercing scream
Thrill’d thro’ my frame, and rous’d me from my dream.
Around Lymnoria’s fainting form, I view’d
Where all the sisters of the ocean stood,
And hid my feelings in the throng that led
Back to her pearly grot the senseless maid.
Thus past the morning! in his regal hall
That night the monarch gave a splendid ball;
Fate, and the magic of the scene conspire
Still in my breast to feed the growing fire,
Grac’d with the envied honours of the fight,
I led the dance with my victorious knight.
Sure not so graceful could Sir Gawaine be!76
That gem of arms, and ‘Flower of Courtesie!’
Not half so sweet his honied accents flow’d!
Tho’ in his speech the fire of rhetoric glow’d.
He said, ‘Since bright-hair’d Florimel was there,
The ocean caves could boast no maid so fair,
And well the radiant zone that bound my vest
Might seem the magic girdle she possest.’77
“Think me not vain, sweet maids, for lingering here
On words like these, the speaker made them dear!
Too swift the moments wing’d their airy flight,
And put a period to that festive night;
Ne’er with such pleasure have I hail’d the morn,
And watch’d its earliest beams the sky adorn,
As now with grief I saw the lamps decay
In the bright lustre of the orient day.
Too soon the weary train retir’d to rest,
No gentle sleep my wakeful eyelids blest;
On my soft couch in pensive mood reclin’d,
I scann’d the new sensations in my mind,
While, with officious truih, fond memory dwelt
On all that I had seen, and heard, and felt;
Each word, each look recall’d, that might impart
A gleam of hope to my afflicted heart.
Tho’ with delight I view’d my mingled birth,
Deriv’d not more from ocean than from earth,
Yet oft the dreadful vow would cross my brain,
No ‘daughter of the Sea shall o’er the Ocean reign;’
And well I knew that in the realms of air
Marino’s envoys sought the fated fair,
Who should with all Lymnoria’s beauties shine,
And all the beauties of the soul combine.
I knew, that day, a fatal rumour came,
His faithful Sprites had found the destin’d dame:
Too well the following morn confirm’d the tale,
Its truth establish’d, by Miranda’s Veil,
Yet to my mind this gleam of comfort brought,
That she to shun the hateful union sought;
I hop’d Lymnoria’s jealousy would aid,
And in her suit support the unhappy maid.
But no! as stars by Phoebus’ light opprest,
A keener fire her rising rage supprest;
And pondering still the tourney’s hapless hour,
On me she seeks her heaviest wrath to pour,
To check thy course, new perils threat the road,
Thro’ the deep Maelstrom to the king’s abode.78
But fear not; were its dangers greater far,
Secure I’d waft thee in my pearly car.”
She ceas’d; for on the margin of the flood,
Beneath a city’s ancient walls they stood,
While the faint splendours of the fading west
Proclaim’d the hour of silence and of rest.
While on the waves the earliest sunbeam play’d,
Miranda rose, and by their margin stray’d,
Impatient of her friend’s expected aid,
When on the tide she view’d a bark that bore
A graceful damsel lightly to the shore;
But ere it touch’d the strand, a mist profound
Cloth’d in a fleecy veil the scene around;
So thick, it scarce allow’d her eye to trace
The lovely features of the Sea-nymph’s face,
Who from the boat began — Miranda, haste!
Let no vain fear the precious moments waste,
Tho’ dense around the morning mists extend,
Trust the sure guidance of thy faithful friend;
My bark ne’er courts the breeze’s varying force,
No oars impel, no rudder guides its course,
I do but bid, at noon or night the same,
It moves unerring to its destin’d aim:
O come! our cause admits no vain delay.”—
She enter’d; swift the vessel glides away.
In silence pondering on her doubtful fate,
Beside her friend, Miranda mournful sate;
Slowly the mists disperse, and all around
The heavens alone the wide horizon bound,
While o’er the tide her eyes explore in vain,
For Albion’s vanish’d cliffs, the dazzling main.
But now the vessel stops, the waves divide,
And seem a glassy wall on every side;
Down to the bosom of the deep it goes,
And o’er their heads the crystal arches close;
At length they reach a realm of purest air,
Where, far above, the waves like clouds appear;
And thro’ their lucid veil with soften’d ray,
The emerald sun diffused a milder day.
Here, as on earth, tall woods and hills ascend;
Here cities rise, and fruitful vales extend;
Each flower that loves the limpid rill to drink,
Or bend in beauty o’er its verdant brink,
Grac’d a clear stream, whose murmuring current wound,
Meandering, thro’ a garden’s ample bound.
Of azure hue, or deck’d in golden pride,
The bright Nympheas graced the sparkling tide,
Numerous the tribe! a modest blush was seen
O’er the fair face of Nilus’ sacred queen,79
Her rival, bright Nelunbia, grac’d her side,
Her glowing charms in deeper crimson dyed;
She blest the Samian sage, whose wise command
Her embryo offspring saved from luxury’s hand.80
At love’s fond call, here Valisneria fair,81
Her spiral stem uncurls, and floats to air;
Here Sagittaria points her dart of green,82
While far above her graceful flowers are seen.
Along a winding path the nymph proceeds,
And fair Miranda follows where she leads.
Rais'd at the garden's verge, a grotto stands,
The beauteous labour of her artful hands,
Here all the unnumber'd treasures of the wave,
In rich profusion, deck'd the spacious cave;
Mid coral sprays, on beds of fuci green,
The Mytilis and Cardium white were seen;
Here Amnion's horn appear'd in all its pride,83
(Loveliest of shells! to mortal view denied,
Save when embosom'd in the depths of mines,
The joy of wondering Neptunists it shines.)
But in these regions, through its pearly throat,
Marino's minstrels breathe the dulcet note;
And here its kindred Nautilus outshone84
The mountain-snow, or cygnet's spotless down;
An unknown inmate forms the beauteous frame,
Rais'd by its bitterest foe to light and fame,
His stronger arms the peaceful lord expell,
He mounts triumphant to the conquered shell;
Far o'er the seas the foreign pilot sails,
Spreads his slight web, and courts the favouring gales,
And hence, with imitative art, mankind
Unfurl the swelling canvass to the wind:
The subject seas Britannia's navies ride,
And every wind, that sweeps the foaming tide,
Wafts a rich tribute to her island throne,
And makes the wealth of distant worlds her own.
Here was that shell where Cytherea rode85
In splendid triumph o’er her native flood;
And here the gaudy Murex shone, that drest,
In Tyrian hue, imperial Caesar’s vest:86
And numbers here unnam’d, dispos’d with art,
Beam’d their collected charms from every part.
Of finest sand the grotto’s floor was seen,
Snow-white, and smoother than the shaven green;
Rich seats of scarlet coral grac’d the pile,
Where countless myriads ply their ceaseless toil.
In pleasing wonder lost, her woes forgot,
Miranda view’d the garden and the grot;
When turning, now her artful guide display’d,
Not Marguerita, but a stranger maid!
“Ah! now accuse,” the damsel taunting cries,
“Thine ears deceitful, or thy careless eyes;
Or weep once more Lymnoria’s fatal smiles,
Her heart obdurate and successful wiles.
Too late! — my voice your life or death declares:
Escape is hopeless! fruitless are your prayers!
Think not, vain girl! to share Marino’s throne,
And claim those honours which are mine alone:
In vain shall Alfred his lost love bewail,
In vain Marino boast thy ravish’d Veil;
The charm that binds in ocean realms to dwell,
Will aid my arts to fix thee in this cell,
While I regain the heart thy wiles have won,
And mount the throne thou dost but feign to shun.”
She spoke: at her command the waves that spread
A mass of fleecy clouds above their head,
In many a pendant column, forming slow,
Sinks towards the ground — the river boils below.
To meet the lowering skies its waters rose,
And walls of seeming glass the grot enclose.
She joins her sportive sisters of the main,
The sea re-echoes her triumphant strain,
The distant sound lies mournful captive hears,
Those notes of joy augment her fruitless tears.
Tormenting state! her steps no massy chain,
No brazen doors, no lofty walls detain:
She views the scene around, serene and clear,
She breathes a light ethereal atmosphere,
Yet by that lucid barrier more secured,
Than if by circling adamant immured.87
Thus, (like a diver in his crystal bell,)
Aranea lives within her airy cell,
Rears her young offspring in this secret cave,
And insulated breathes amid the wave.88
But now impatient, to her pearly car
Fair Marguerita calls the lingering fair,
But calls in vain, — her friends in wonder stand,
Then seek their vanish’d partner on the strand. —
A rock abrupt and insulated stood,
Its rugged head impending o’er the flood;
There sat a warrior — Soon his pictur’d shield
And sable arms Miranda’s knight reveal’d;
Yet false the hopes that now their breasts inspire,
In vain their lips Miranda’s fate inquire.
“Oh! ask not me! by magic arts betrayed,
I left the fort and that transcendant maid;
And had not chance Lymnoria’s face reveal’d,
She now had borne me o’er yon azure field,
In ocean’s darkest caves to watch and weep,
Or glut some savage monster of the deep!
Reviled and scorned, too late I knew the dame,
Who mock’d Miranda’s voice, Miranda’s name;
In vain my weary steps my love pursue,
Nor know I where to seek, if not with you.”
Thus Alfred spoke: with grief the damsels hear.
While Leonora’s voice augments their fear:
“Oh, Alfred, haste; perchance, like thee, betrayed,
The caves of ocean hide the hapless maid;
Haste, Marguerita, haste, ere yet too late,
Perhaps a moment lost decides her fate.”
The nymph young Alfred follows; o’er the seas
Speeds their light bark, nor heeds the adverse breeze;
Tho’ slight its frame, its strength the waves defied,
And swift as lightning skimm’d the sparkling tide,
No brilliant hues its dark-brown surface shows,
Within the opal’s changeful lustre glows,
And o’er their heads a graceful awning rose.
Soon to the warrior’s eager eyes were lost
The snowy cliffs that mark’d the distant coast,
Whence long their anxious friends their course pursue,
And gazing, wave them many a kind adieu.
By Albion’s shore their rapid way they steer’d,
And Caledonia’s ruder cliffs appear’d;
Then by the rocky Orcades they past,
And view’d, at distance, Norway’s forests vast;
And soon they shiver’d in the icy breeze
That swept the surface of the Arctic seas.
Those seas alike where truth and fancy reign,
And with unnumber’d monsters fill the main;
Where their long course the months in darkness roll,
And fogs eternal shroud the frozen pole;
Those seas where endless wastes of snow appear.
And alps of ice increase with every year.
Where the red lights that quiver in the sky,
For half his course, the absent sun supply,
Till, from Antarctic climes, he turns again,
And smiling summer takes his rapid reign;
As touch’d by magic hand, the realms around
Burst into bloom, and flowers conceal the ground.
Where late the Lapland boor in caves reclin’d,
Fled the stern rigour of the winter wind,
Or to his sledge, with thongs securely bound,
Urg’d his fleet rein-deer o’er the frozen ground,
Which scarce of moss its scanty pittance gave,
Now fruits expand, and yellow harvests wave.
In countless boats the busy seamen sail,
Entrap the seal, or wound the unwieldy whale.
Not, like our isle, with soft transition blest,
Where gradual beauties gain a higher zest,
Where with delight, we watch the opening flowers,
And the soft influence of the vernal showers;
The expanding fruits in size and flavour grow,
Till their bright rinds with ripening lustre glow;
Or when the trees in richer livery clad,
Of gold and crimson spread their mingled shade,
Their charms increasing in their slow decay —
There, soon matnr’d, as soon they fade away:
Like the bright rainbow in a summer sky,
They rise, they bloom, they ripen, fade, and die!
On sail’d the bark secure, but soon, uprear’d
Above the waves, a hideous form appear’d;
His head was like a steed’s, in many a fold
Round his long neck the thick tough skin was roll’d;
Six flatten’d feet his mighty bulk sustain,
And bristled on his back his yellow mane;
The boa, largest of the serpent brood,
Were weak and small, if near this hydra view’d;
Ten fathom long his snaky form was seen,
And high he rear’d his head of dusky green.89
Lymnoria’s envoy, at her will he came
To crush the knight, and more detested dame.
The bark he follow’d o’er the wat’ry plain,
And hiss’d aloud, — and lash’d the foaming main,
And strove to wreathe it in his spiral train.
But forth, attentive, Marguerita drew
A small brown ball, and at the hydra threw;
Its potent scent the offended monster fled,90
And on its course the little vessel sped.
New dangers now impend; thro’ mountains vast
Of gather’d ice, a narrow streight they past.
Oh! should the sun’s meridian fervour launch
From yon dread height the threat’ning avalanch;
Or should the waves impel some floating rock,
They sink or perish in the dreadful shock!
And lo! impatient of the expected prey,
O’er the firm ice a bear pursues their way;
Vast as the monsters of Hircynia’s wood,
His snowy hairs with rage erected stood;
He snuffs the scented gale, and longs to clasp91
The unhappy victims in his fatal grasp!
But as his feet prepare to tempt the tide,
Behold! the waves the icy rock divide;
To shun the double death, a narrow cave,
In its clear side, the opposing glacier gave;
The vessel here preserv’d, the sever’d mass
Impetuous rushes thro’ the narrow pass.
Borne by the furious tide, and driving gales,
Far out to sea the floating island sails;
While prescient of his death of lingering pain,
The bear, with dreadful howls laments in vain;
Which, first transmitted from the ice around,
The echoing air returns with fainter sound.92
But now the sea in larger waves was seen,
And snowy foam emboss’d their dusky green;
And soon the vessel hasten’d in its course,
Felt of that current the attractive force,
Where ’twixt Hefleggen’s mount, and Ver’s wild shore
Round Moscöe’s isle, the eddying waters roar:
That current dread, which borne by adverse winds,
With chilling fear the wretched seaman finds,
Laments his danger, now too late descried,
And vainly struggles with the increasing tide,
Then sinks unable with its force to cope,
And cries in vain for aid he cannot hope;
Or marks its course the fatal vortex near,
In all the dreadful calmness of despair.93
By turns the vessel sunk, by turns it rose,
On waves that threaten o’er their heads to close:
A crystal vase fair Marguerita held,
Aud o’er the seas a liquid balm distill’d,94
Sudden the foaming breakers cease to rave,
Calm is the sea, and sunk the furrowed wave;
The mountain billows rise on either side,
Between, the vessel skims the tranquil tide,
And fearless to the current’s force resign’d,
Leaves a smooth track of silver light behind.
Within the dreadful vortex now they came,
Whirl’d in swift circles by the rapid stream;
At once the angry waves forget to roar,
Their calm as wondrous as their rage before:
“Now speed thy course, my bark,” the damsel cried,
“And snatch the moment of the turning tide.”
She spoke: but scarce the central point they gain,
Ere, with redoubled fury, boil’d the main,
And whirl’d, with giddy motion, round and round,
The bark absorb’d descends the abyss profound.
But first a ring, where words mysterious shone,
Like those that mark’d the seal of Solomon,95
The sea-nymph to the earth-born warrior gave,
And, as in air, he breathes amid the wave.
Dark clos’d the foaming waters o’er their head,
And scarce a beam of straggling light was shed,
While, chafed by rugged rocks, the waters flow
Thro’ narrow channels to the realm below.
And scarce their utmost care the vessel guides,
From sure destruction on the rocky sides.
At length, the widening track admits a ray
Of pallid light, to cheer their dreary way;
The angry waves retire, and safe they land,
Tho’ faint with toil, on the subaqueous strand.
Onward, thro’ shady grots and sunny meads,
Her wondering guest fair Marguerita leads,
Who, in amazement, finds this realm unknown,
Reflect as clear an image of his own,
As the pure stream whose waters gently flow,
Gives of the flowers that round its margin grow.
But whence that song, tho’ distant, sweet and clear,
That falls so soft on Alfred’s wondering ear?
Well may he hasten, well his heart rejoice,
He hears, and knows Miranda’s plaintive voice.
“Far from his home, how sad the captive’s doom,
The loathsome dungeon’s solitary gloom;
His lamp expiring casts a feeble ray;
u No sound of man, no beam of cheerful day
Breaks the dead calm, he meets no friendly eye,
Alone the echoes to his moans reply.
“But sadder is my lot, condemn’d to see
The bliss forbade, and mock’d with liberty.
On yonder hills that catch the morning ray,
How sad at evening sunk the waning day,
Sad was the calm the evening twilight shed,
Grief seem’d to sleep, and hope itself was dead.
“How coldly fair, this green effulgence falls
On yon majestic hills and stately halls,
Faint as my fading hopes the feeble gleam,
Oh! how unlike that glowing golden beam
That cheer’d my path, while youthful fancy wove
Her fairy dreams of happiness and love:
“When, with the cheerful confidence of youth,
I listen’d, Alfred! to thy vows of truth,
And thought thy love so sure a source of joy,
The storms of life might pass unheeded by.
Oh! whither art thou fled, what bonds restrain,
What spells delude thee, or what walls detain:”
The captive ceased; for who is yonder knight,
And who yon nymph? So sudden was the sight,
It almost seemed that fancy but defined
Those forms so strongly imaged in her mind;
The grottoes with her shrieks of joy rebound;
Far off, Lymnoria started at the sound.
Alas! in vain those cherish’d friends are seen,
The wall of waters fills the space between.
In vain fair Marguerita lifts her hand,
The stubborn barrier spurns the nymph’s command;
But Alfred’s mind recall’d the ring that gave
Its wearer power to breathe amid the wave.
He passed the glassy frontier, and in haste
The golden circlet on her finger placed:
She leaves the cave rejoicing; but in vain
Thro’ the clear wall would Alfred plunge again,
In denser mass the angry waters rose,
And rolling back, a narrower space enclose.
“Oh, fly,” he cried, “ere yet some stronger spell
To this sad grot again thy steps compell.
If thine the Veil, Marino’s arm shall lend
Its powerful succour to release thy friend;
If he reject thy suit, bereft of thee,
This grot, or Albion’s isle, alike to me.”
Her captive scarcely fled, Lymnoria came,
Amazement, anger, seized her trembling frame.
“Fly, artful wretch,” she cried, “yet dare not hope
Thy strength, thy power, thine arts, with mine can cope.
For thee, mad youth, thou ne’er shalt boast again,
Lymnoria’s love rejected with disdain,
That heart, which braver warriors seek in vain.
What, tho’ I feign’d, yet had I truly strove,
As much thy pride had scorn’d the proferr’d love!
This thought, should mercy seek to quench the fire,
To deadlier hate shall rouse my slumbering ire.
Soon shall a stronger fence thy love secure;
A trusty guard shall make thy prison sure.
I will not rest till her my spells enchain,
Till envying nymphs shall follow in my train,
And hail Lymnoria empress of the main.”
Thus spoke the nymph: the knight his steady eye
Fix’d on Lymnoria, but disdained reply.
She left the grot: in anxious thought he sate,
That hour decides his loved Miranda’s fate.
Henry, meanwhile, pursued his way; amaz’d,
On all the wonders of the deep he gaz’d.
Here the smooth sands in shining plains extend,
And lofty rocks in rugged points ascend;
On their rude sides the weeds of ocean wave,
The nurturing seas their floating foliage lave.
And here the gay Zoanthæ emulate96
Flora’s bright train and transitory state.
Mid scatter’d shells, and tufts of herbage green,
The sad remains of human toil are seen.
On wrecks of ships, that proudly bore afar
Britannia’s wealth, or hurl’d her bolts of war,
Unnumber’d myriads ply their ceaseless toil,
And frame the basis of a future isle;
Tho’ small as sands that shun the inquiring eye,
Their solid works the waves and winds defy;
Still on the ruins of their race renew’d:
They share alike their labour and their food.
Where now a mimic garden mocks the view,
And nature sports in every form and hue,
Where scarlet flowers mid verdant foliage glow,
And dusky fibres seem to twine below;
Mid azure tufts and blossoms silvery white,
Where purple fruits the wondring eye invite;
Soon shall soft moss, and grass, and herbs extend,
On coral rocks the lofty trees ascend;
The beasts shall roam, the birds their nests shall frame,
And man at last his new dominion claim:
Perchance his hand may turn the shallow soil,
And wondring pause, and tremble for the isle,
Alarm’d to see the crystal waters flow,
And play and sparkle mid the sprays below.97
As, through the trackless air, the feather’d race,
With speed untir’d, pursue their rapid chace,
Or sportive wheel in many a mazy ring,
Now soar on high, now sink on idle wing;
Thus o’er his head the finny nations glide,
And lash with strenuous tail the sparkling tide.
Like swallows marshall’d for their annual flight,
The smaller tribes in countless shoals unite,
Still as they roam, inhale the briny flood,
At once their liquid atmosphere and food.98
Behind, the tyrants of the deep pursue,
Their savage hunger kindling at the view,
Their opening jaws the gates of death reveal,
And shoals are crush’d at one rapacious meal.
Here countless tribes their different kinds renew,
Fixt to the spot where late their parents grew,99
Their tender frames the shining shells defend,
Form as they form, and with their growth extend;
Not theirs the power to urge their rapid way,
And gain each moment on the flying prey,
Yet little arts minuter tribes allure,
Their closing shells the floating food secure;
Firm on their native spot, they brave the storm,
And still increasing, grace the rock they form.
At distance thro’ the waves, on Henry’s eyes,
Of ocean’s chiefs the splendid mansions rise,
Of motherpearl and shells united fram’d,
With burnish’d gold and glittering gems they flam’d;
Sudden, as breathing from some flowery land,
The wanderer’s cheek a fragrant zephyr fann’d:
Surprized, he felt its breath, and turning found
His steps unknown had past a viewless bound,
Behind his track the distant waves appear,
Before, a light subaqueous atmosphere.
By gorgeous palaces, and stately groves,
O’er verdant hills, and cultur’d plains, he roves;
Beholding, as he past, with wondering view,
The ocean nymphs their various toils pursue;
Some seek the cooling rills or leafy bowers,
Prune the green shrubs, or tend their opening flowers;
Some for their grots, gay shells and minerals sought,
Some their thin webs of fine-spun coral wrought,
Wound thro’ the snowy pearl the golden thread,
Or the light dance iu sportive mazes led,
Their tuneful part in songs harmonious bear,
Or draw thro’ combs of pearl their yellow hair.
But now a well-known voice to Henry’s ears,
Miranda’s loss, and Alfred’s grief declares.
Beyond the garden’s flowery maze was seen
The grotto, glittering thro’ the foliage green,
Where Alfred sate, the aqueous wall behind,
Like some unhappy insect, amber-shrin’d.
A monster guards the gate — his bulk was roll’d
Voluminous, in many a scaly fold;
He rears his sparkling crest — but what avails
His breath of fire, his adamantine scales,
His venom’d fangs, or fascinating glance,
That chills its victim, ere the foe advance!100
Great Ariel’s spells the intended bound arrest;
A sudden sleep his glowing eyes opprest;
Senseless he fell, the warrior past the gate,
And reach’d the spot where mournful Alfred sate.
He wav’d his wand, the waters glide away,
As evening frosts before the morning ray;
The astonish’d youth a joyful greeting gave,
And sprang exulting from Lymnoria’s cave.
But now the ocean peers in council sate,
Not oft accustom’d for their king to wait,
Tir’d with the labours of the march and fight,
Vain was the summons of the morning light;
At length he comes, assumes his shelly throne,
And makes the business of the morning known.
“My friends,” he said, “in toil and danger prov’d,
Still faithful found, respected and belov’d,
Time urges on; attend your king’s request,
And by your actions be your zeal exprest.
When next the morning sun illumes the tide,
Here will the spell conduct our destin’d bride.
Great were the shame, if we, in war’s alarms,
Forgot the homage due to beauty’s charms;
Then be our court in all its pomp array’d,
Let tilts and tourneys greet the chosen maid;
Such splendour in your arms and dress be seen,
As fits the welcome of your future queen;
And let our nymphs with care and homage sweet,
The lovely wanderer as a sister greet,
By every kind attention smooth the change
To realms unknown, and modes and manners strange.
Nor unattended must the damsel come
To this subaqueous clime, her future home;
Let Cuma, and Lymnocharis the fair,
With speed to Albion’s chalky strand repair,
There Potamos, Plemura, Clydon wait,
To guide her passage to her subject state.”
He ceas’d; yet still the parting chiefs delay’d,
For still in musing mood Marino staid;
Perchance fond fancy trac’d the form and mien,
And all the beauties of his bride unseen.
When lo! two damsels to the presence came.
Whose graceful forms might colder hearts inflame:
The one a veil’s depending folds conceal’d,
The other shone in all her charms reveal’d,
And all unbound her flowing locks appear,
Those golden locks that every heart ensnare.
Amaz’d, the enraptur’d king her charms survey’d,
And hop’d before him stood the appointed maid,
For well her roseate bloom betray’d her birth,
No ocean nymph, the lovely child of earth.
Meanwhile, Miranda view’d his gentle eye,
And gracious smile, with mingled hope and joy;
Yet paus’d the bashful maid, and fear’d to find
Those gentle looks bely a sterner mind.
“Blest be the events unknown,” exclaim’d the king,
“That to these realms so fair a stranger bring!
If ours to grant, we grant thy boon unheard.
Or as a favour be thy suit declar’d,
If wealth can aid, our treasur’d stores command,
If arms, ourself, and all our subject band!”
Before his throne she fell; the monarch tried
In vain to raise her, while she thus replied:
“Thanks, generous king! but till thine answer seals
My future fortune, here thy suppliant kneels;
Nor arms, nor wealth can aid; for tho’ unknown,
The boon I crave depends on thee alone.
Soon will the charm’s resistless force compel
A weeping victim to thy regal cell,
Unless thy soul relenting, shall resign
The Veil that joins Miranda’s fate with thine;
Vain were thy love, thy splendour, to impart
One throb of pleasure to her bleeding heart,
For tho’ thy graces might her favour claim,
The heart once pledged, admits no second flame;
O’er her young mind a valiant warrior reigns,
Whom captive here a cruel nymph detains,
His freedom grant — let my entreaties move,
And wed a nymph who gives thee all her love;
Before thee now she waits, in hope and fear —
Oh! crown those hopes, and grant my earnest prayer!”
Miranda ceas’d — delighted and amaz’d,
The amorous monarch on his suppliant gaz’d;
He deem’d the maid who spoke the enamour’d fair,
And little thought Miranda’s self was there.
And when, as she of Alfred dar’d to speak,
The rose bloom’d deeper on her bashful cheek,
With joy he mark’d the radiant tint that glow’d,
But to himself transferr’d the love it shew’d;
For we, ourselves still anxious to deceive,
Hope what we wish, and what we hope believe.
With eager voice — by sudden love inflam’d,
“I yield the Veil!’ the fickle king exclaim’d,
“On charms unseen my fancy feeds no more!
Haste! Clydon, haste! Miranda’s pledge restore,
Yet! ere you part, be here your homage shewn,
Here, to the destin’d partner of my throne!
And thou, bright fair, in happy moment seen,
Receive the vows that hail thee as my queen.”
The monarch mark’d with transport, as he spoke,
The glow of joy that o’er her features broke,
But wondering, saw that glow as soon decay.
As sudden clouds obscure the April day.
“Alas! my generous lord!” she cried, “I claim,
The sport of wayward fate, Miranda’s name!
Yet if this form have rais’d one thought of love,
Oh! let that thought thy mind to mercy move,
Still let thy generous hand my pledge restore,
And leave me not more wretched than before.”
As in their course the advancing hosts were staid,
When Jove’s brave son the Gorgon’s head display’d,
E’en thus, by grief transfix’d, Marino stood,
And the fair maid with looks of anguish view’d.
“Tho’ from my breast its sweetest hope is riven,
Love must not triumph o’er a promise given.”
At length he said — “My adverse fates prevail,
Blest be thy future hours, and thine the Veil!
Yet ere a gift so valued I resign,
Find me some maid whose form may equal thine;
Nor let her outward charms alone allure,
Her eyes an index to a mind as pure:
If such the maid, whose flattering portrait shewn
My eager hopes too fondly deem’d thine own,
Her name, her fortunes, and her race declare,
And while my sprites the nuptial feast prepare,
Lead me, Miranda! to this unknown fair.”
Fixt on Miranda, scarce the king had view’d
That near the maid another damsel stood,
Till Marguerita dropt her veil, and shone
Bright as from clouds emerged, the silver moon,
As on the evening of the jousts array’d
Her slender waist Marino’s gift displayed.
“Alas!” he said, “my heart condemn’d to roam,
Still wanders on, nor ever finds a home;
My fatal vow to thee my love denied,
Or never had I sought an earthly bride.”
“Hear me! great king,” the sweet Miranda said;
“Should’st thou some nymph of mortal lineage wed,
Torn from the scenes to youthful memory dear,
Not pomp and power her lonely heart could cheer:
Soon inward grief would dim the radiant charms
That wak’d thy love, and tear her from thine arms.
A nymph to wed, thy solemn vow denies,
But favouring fate a middle course supplies;
Fair Marguerita, whom in years of yore
To brave Titanos young Ostrea bore,
Alike from ocean and from earth her race,
And blest with every charm a throne to grace.”
’Twere needless now to tell the king’s reply,
Or paint in every breast the rising joy,
The assembled peers, who view’d the happy scene,
On bended knees salute their future queen;
When thro’ the crowd the rescued Alfred sprung,
And thanks and greetings trembled on his tongue;
While youthful Henry follow’d, to require
A guide to lead them to the realms of fire.
But till the morn the king commands their stay;
The knights, tho’ loth, the monarch’s will obey.
The lute’s soft sound, the trump, and mellow horn,
And songs of pleasure rous’d the lingering morn;
What splendid scenes unfolded to the sight
The soft effulgence of its emerald light!
The monarch’s hall, of shells and coral rais’d,
With pearl and gold and gems unnumber’d blaz’d.
The waves in lofty columns rose, and round
Their shining shafts were wreaths of sea-flowers bound;
Beneath, of lords and dames a splendid throng,
To grace their sovereign’s marriage, mov’d along.
The rites perform’d, the trumpet’s warlike sound
Cali’d to the tournament each knight renown’d.
To grace the barriers, on a lofty throne
Marino sate; his queen beside him shone,
A snow-white lotus form’d her simple crown.
Near her was fair Miranda placed; no more
Her looks or garb the stain of sorrow bore,
But rob’d in white, all smiling and serene,
She sate conspicuous in the splendid scene;
The Veil, the fatal cause of fear and pain,
So long remov’d, so oft deplor’d in vain,
Flow’d from her head in many a graceful fold,
And gave new beauty to her locks of gold.
Around were ocean’s fairest nymphs; but there
Could none with her, or with their queen compare.
Yet many a youth that to the tourney came,
With eager looks had sought one absent dame,
And marvelled why Lymnoria, fair and gay,
Still prompt to haste where pleasure led the way,
Who lov’d the ocean’s fairest maids among
To shine distinguished in the glittering throng,
To mark each jealous damsel’s smother’d sighs
Burst as they watch’d their lover’s wandering eyes,
When, like an empress, mid her slaves she shone,
And deem’d each eye should fix on her alone;
Why only she now shunn’d the festive scene,
Where all were met in honour of their queen.
Yet many a nymph the secret reason guest,
In looks, and signs, and whispers half exprest,
And marvelled much how envy found a place
In that fair breast, and love-inspiring face
And some, whose minds a kindred thought conceal’d,
In specious guise their lurking envy veil’d:
“’Twas true their queen was gracious, good and fair,
Yet other nymphs might with her charms compare;
And it was hard, must be by all confest,
To see one nymph thus rais’d o’er all the rest,
And more for her, once destin’d for the throne,
Who deem’d this damsel but usurp’d her crown.”
While some their queen’s superior charms allow,
But mutter something of a broken vow,
Yet most their sovereign’s act and choice approv’d,
For Marguerita, wheresoe’er she mov’d,
Was still by all esteem’d, admir’d and lov’d.
The gallant pair, who sought the realms of fire,
Now from the king again a guide require,
Who oft, with graceful earnestness, deplor’d
The cause that forc’d them from his bridal board.
Yet well he knew it could not brook delay,
And tho’ he wish’d, he would not urge their stay.
But his fair bride her suit unyielding prest,
On fair Miranda to remain their guest:
“Ill fitting your soft sex and tender frame
Are earth’s dark caverns, or the land of flame;
Tir’d with the labours of our dangerous way,
Not I, but prudence, now command your stay;
Yet small would be my bridal joys, unshar’d
By her whose prayers the way to bliss prepar’d;
And ere their fmish’d quests the knights restore,
My bark shall waft you back to Albion’s shore.”
Miranda yielded to the queen’s request,
Their grateful thanks the parting knights exprest;
On either youth the king bestows a steed
For swiftness fam’d o’er all of ocean breed,
To both his hand with princely grace extends,
And as their guide the noble Clydon sends.
To each the queen a scarf pellucid gave,
That stole its azure tincture from the wave,
So bright it shone, its soft and silky fold
Was like a wave around their armour roll’d;
“This scarf,” she said, “shall bid the flames retire,
And guard you safe amid surrounding fire;
Oh! may success on all your steps attend,
And your long labours find a happy end!
And when his richest blessings Fortune showers,
And Love and Glory brighten all your hours,
Still let this gift, if chance it meet your view,
The memory of an absent friend renew.”
The knights already mounted for their way;
T’ announce the jousts the warning clarions play;
When in the lists a stranger knight was seen
Of towering stature, and of noble mien,
Unknown to all his arms or steed: his shield
A dolphin bore upon an azure field,
To ocean’s knights and dames he seem’d, as one
By none remember’d, yet unknown to none.
Surpriz’d, awhile the parting knights attend,
The heralds now their martial call suspend.
Swiftly he rode around the silent ring
And paid his graceful homage to the king;
“My liege,” he said, “ere yet the jousts commence,
Or these brave knights begin their journey hence,
Hear me! within this circle stands a knight,
Whom I have sworn to meet in deadly fight,
Before my prince, and all his peers, to prove
False to his honour and his lady’s love;
Forlorn, deserted, in her lonely bower,
Her weeping eyes the faithless youth deplore;
He flies, the champion of another dame
Who wins your favour in a borrow’d name;
Him I defy, and in your royal sight,
Will prove unworthy of the name of knight!
The monarch’s cheek, where deeper crimson glow’d
As spoke the stranger knight, his anger shew’d:
“Long have our ocean-peers the praise obtained
Of dauntless valour, and of faith unstained,
And much we grieve a warrior should disgrace
Himself, his knighthood, and his noble race.
Knight of the Dolphin, here his name declare!
Tho’ high his rank, and as a brother dear,
That name this instant from our heart we tear;
And tho’ to mirth we vow’d this festive hour,
Nor wish’d that blood should stain our nuptial bower,
He whom thy voice announces I command
Here in the lists to meet thee hand to hand.”
Incens’d, the monarch spoke; the knight unknown
“Alfred!” proclaim’d, and flung his gauntlet down.
Amazement chill’d the youth accus’d; the maid
In changing hues surprize and fear betray’d;
In wondering silence sate the bride and king,
While “Alfred!” echo’d from the astonish’d ring;
At length Marino spoke: “The tale you bear
Is strange, and most unwelcome to our ear;
Still let me hope some mystery clouds your sight,
And while you combat, heaven defend the right!”
The queen meanwhile the sad Miranda cheers,
“Alfred is true, then why these causeless fears?
His heart is brave, then in his valour trust!
Just is his cause, and heaven protects the just!”
Impatient Henry mourns the impending fray,
Griev’d such a charge should thus their course delay,
While Alfred snatch’d the gauntlet from the ground,
And rode in haste the listed circle round,
“Come on,” he cried; “’tis false! my sword shall shame
Thy recreant heart, and vindicate my fame.”
The signal given, they ran, but stood the stroke,
And in their hands the faithless lances broke;
They seize their swords, but ward the blows so well,
That guiltless yet is either gleaming steel;
At length the Dolphin knight directs a blow
Which pierc’d the steed, but miss’d his wary foe:
It fell, though slight the wound! — The warrior stands
Recover’d, and on foot the fight demands.
While struggling on the ground, the horse betray’d
The fatal poison of the envenom’d blade;
The knights alone pursu’d the fight, nor heed
The clamorous circle, or expiring steed.
“The conflict cease!” exclaim’d the king; “the fight
Enough has clear’d the fame of Albion’s knight;
And on yon stain to knighthood’s noble name
Has fix’d the mark of infamy and shame,
Just guerdon of the coward, who in strife
Assails with poison’d arms his foeman’s life!”
The Dolphin warrior in amazement stood,
And now the steed, and now the falchion view’d;
The crowd pour on, ungovern’d in their rage,
And as a dog with pelting stones engage;
He rais’d his burnish’d helm — a face appears
By all remember’d, tho’ unseen for years!
Fresh wonder staid the throng, disgrace and shame
Could never mingle with Delphino’s name.
“Hear me, oh king! and by that honour gain’d
In many a dangerous field, and yet unstain’d,
My fame shall from this ordeal rise more bright,
Or hence I fly self-banish’d from your sight!
“Thrice have the seasons chang’d, and thrice renew’d,
Since at your royal side in fight I stood;
The Gnomes before us fled — their artful flight
Too far I follow’d in the heat of fight.
Thro’ ways unknown escaped the dastard foe,
I sunk into a pit that yawn’d below;
By walls of firm basalt, secur’d and chain’d,
For three long years in darkness I remain’d.
A salamander heard rny moan; his aid
Thro’ the firm rock at length my passage made.
This morn my native realm, and light of day,
Again I view’d rejoicing; on my way
I met a nymph: with many a streaming tear,
Her lips the tale of wrongs and woe declare,
And ask’d my aid. To day, she said, the king
Graced with his bride the tourney’s crowded ring.
Her faithless knight alone, whose artful dame
The court amus’d beneath a borrow’d name,
Bound on a feign’d adventure, shunn’d the fray —
My sword avenging must compel his stay,
On this disloyal wretch her wrongs requite,
And shame the dastard heart that fled the fight.
She told his name and arms, and bade me speed;
Unarm’d I stood; she gave these arms and steed,
I staid not till I reach’d this fatal place,
And thought to meet with honour, not disgrace.”
“Disgrace,” the king exclaim’d, “on her alone!
Come to my arms, thou bulwark of my throne.
O! lost so long, so long as dead deplor’d!
And now, upon this happy day restor’d —
But say, what sister of the briny wave
To thee those arms and poison’d weapon gave?”
“Three weary years,” Delphino said, “have past
“Since, in your court, I saw Lymnoria last,
The stranger damsel veil’d her face with care,
But seem’d Lymnoria in her form and air.”
“Seek her! be swift!” the indignant monarch said,
Who not till then had miss’d the once lov’d maid.
Meanwhile a nymph, who breathless long had hung
On every accent of Delphino’s tongue,
When now she found his honour freed from stain,
Love’s fervent impulse could no more restrain,
She ran, — and, clasp’d with transport to his breast,
Her tears of joy bedew’d his silken vest.
Three years in sable weeds she mourn’d the knight,
And the same robes of pure and spotless white
Her queen that welcomed, greet the youth restor’d,
And grace her own, and sovereign’s bridal board.
But now Lymnoria came! her guilt was known;
Scornful she stood, nor would the crime disown.
“Great is our sorrow,” said the king, “to find
That lovely form bely so foul a mind:
Thy arts our gentle suppliants to delay,
The rocks and monsters that oppos’d their way,
This maid by fraud deluded to thy cave —
Unnotic’d all, our clemency forgave;
But this rash act, which menac’d with disgrace,
Not one brave knight alone, but all our race;
Which, had not heaven forbade the hateful deed,
And sav’d brave Alfred by his dying steed,
Had lost a champion to his country dear,
And drawn from beauty’s eyes the bitter tear, —
This wakes our sleeping wrath, our mercy shown
Rebukes, and calls our deepest vengeance down.
“While countless years their course unvaried roll
In those drear seas that bathe the Antarctic pole,
On sheets of ice where powerless sunbeams play,
And fogs eternal mock the frustrate ray;
Where man has never yet presum’d, nor dare
The spirits of the deep to venture there:
That is thy home! in frozen solitude,
There cleanse thy heart in deepest guilt embued.”
With tears and prayers, and every suppliant art,
The nymph too late assails Marino’s heart;
Miranda, Marguerita, knelt in vain;
The doom pronounced, unalter’d must remain.
Perhaps Lymnoria hoped her tears might move
In him some feeling of forgotten love,
Or if condemned, the magic of her eyes
In her defence would bid his warriors rise.
But, no! — if love rebellion dared suggest,
Reason subdued the thought, or shame supprest;
While those who late her lightest word obeyed,
Now turn’d indignant from the guilty maid:
And what of pity in his alter’d tone
Marino shew’d, appear’d in that alone.
Yet long and keenly smarts the rankling wound,
When those admir’d and lov’d are worthless found,
And truth’s broad mirror, with a thousand flaws,
Obscures the spotless image memory draws.
As if indignant aught had power to bind
To transient homage her unyielding mind,
Lymnoria rose, and proudly moved along;
Two aged warriors led her thro’ the throng:
No late repentance in her eye was seen,
Her doom she reck’d not, strode with haughty mien,
And her last look glanc’d scorn upon her queen.
The emerald sun now verging to the west,
The impatient warriors hastened on their quest;
Past were the hours design’d for martial sport,
A spacious hall receiv’d the glittering court,
And with their peers, the sovereigns laid aside
The cold restraints of state and regal pride;
Mirth at the table sate, a welcome guest,
And darkness clos’d unmark’d upon the feast.
When lo! on every side, a sudden light
From lamps unnumber’d burst upon the sight,
While echoing from a thousand fairy bowers,
The merry dance prolong’d the evening hours.
The ships above that skimm’d the sparkling tide
The unwonted sight with sudden fear descried,
Yet the soft beams and twinkling rays admire,
And deem the bosom of the deep on fire:
And as the stately notes of triumph swell,
Or sprightlier tones inspire the sounding shell,
While the clear waves the dulcet strains prolong,
They muse what syrens wake the midnight song.
The Nymphs, meanwhile, upon the ocean side,
Still watch’d the lessening vessel o’er the tide;
When, wafted by a thousand Sylphs that fling
Arabian perfumes from each filmy wing,
Behold, in all his glory, Ariel come,
To guide Maria to the haughty Gnome.
Concentred sunbeams form’d his radiant throne,
His car refulgent as a meteor shone
Along the ethereal way; but brighter far
Was he who sat in that celestial car.
Unfading flowers his golden ringlets bound,
His regal brow a starry circlet crown’d;
Bright glow’d his wings with every varying hue,
His waving mantle caught the ethereal blue;
And never rose, in opening bloom array’d,
Such tints as Ariel’s glowing cheeks display’d;
Nor could the sapphire’s azure lustre vie
With the soft light of his benignant eye.
His sterner warriors round, in martial sport,
Mix with the lighter spirits of his court:
The brisk Electron grasps his lightning spear,
Keraunos moves the thunderbolt of war;
And mighty Bronte, whose tremendous roar
Fills the vast caves of Erie’s rocky shore,
While loud contending o’er his foaming flood
With spirits of the mountain and the wood;101
There in mid ether, o’er the monarch’s head,
His cloudy veil gigantic Nephos spread;
Whence on the gladden’d earth kind Ombra pours
The grateful moisture of descending showers.
Bright Actin lends his ray, and Iris flies,
And with her arch of beauty spans the skies.
Thence dread Thuella pours her raging flood,
Sweeps o’er the earth, and rends the lofty wood;
Her form transparent, half dissolv’d in air,
Here gentle Drosa sheds the glistening tear.
Here moves in blameless freedom every wind,
That fabling Greece to bags and caves confin’d.
Some to the earth rude blasts and tempests bring,
Some shake refreshing moisture from their wing,
Some genial warmth and fragrant incense bear,
And aid the progress of the ripening year.
But now the ethereal fabric touch’d the ground,
While strains of heavenly sweetness breath’d around;
Such strains as floating o’er the Eolian lyre,
The zephyrs bland at evening’s close respire.
Soft on her ear the dulcet accents fall,
That to the radiant car Maria call,
That car which thro’ the trackless wilds of air
To Sweden’s distant strand the Nymph shall bear.
But ere she mounts, she craves the monarch’s aid
Upon her course to speed the Iberian maid.
The king consents; the Sylphs his mandate hear,
And at his bidding frame a concave sphere.
Clear and pellucid was its texture rare,
And scarce distinguish’d from the ambient air,
Save by the hues of light that rise and fade,
And ever varying on its surface play’d,
And made it now like floating sapphire seem,
And now betray the topaz’ golden gleam;
Now sparkle with the ruby’s fiery red,
And now the emerald’s cooler lustre shed.
Like clouds in Phœbus’ setting rays that glow,
Appear’d the airy car that hung below.
It open’d, and a crystal throne display’d —
She mounts: the closing clouds conceal the maid.
Yet thro’ the lucid skreen her eyes survey
All the long wonders of the various way,
As high it floats, o’er many a sea and land,
To flaming Stromboli’s volcanic strand;
While wondering mortals mus’d what partial blast
Could make that little speck proceed so fast,
When all the clouds with easy motion sail,
On the smooth bosom of the vernal gale.
Saint George’s Channel past, tho’ distant, clear,
Fair Gallia’s realms in prospect wide appear;
Her vineyards rich with fruit, her mountains high,
Where clouds extend, and snows eternal lie;
Her splendid cities, and her winding streams,
In lines of light that caught the solar beams;
Her waving harvests, woods for ever green,
And fertile vales and castled hills between,
Shew’d the rich gifts of nature’s bounteous hand,
But war and havoc marr’d the lovely land.
No freighted vessels now securely ride,
The grace and glory of the sparkling tide,
But all that hover’d o’er the affrighted coast
Came fraught with war, and Albion’s adverse host.
Deserted cities, towns, and towers appear,
Each feudal chief his vassals led to war:
The fertile fields remain uncultur’d how,
Or widow’d females guide the lingering plough.
Such are the woes that mad ambition brings,
When the dire fury rules the breasts of king.
Now o’er the sea the aerial concave flies,
Now Cirnos’ woody isle beneath it lies,
And Elba near — from whose exhaustless mines
In dazzling light the sun reflected shines:102
Fraternal isles, which future years shall doom,
Ambition’s cradle one, and one its tomb.103
Now o’er the waves the damsel floats once more,
And sails above Ausonia’s fertile shore,
And Rome’s imperial town, whose temples shone
In the red splendour of the setting sun.
As slowly now descend the shades of night,
What glories burst on Leonora’s sight!
Far to the left, the flame in flashes broke
Thro’ the thick volumes of incumbent smoke
That shroud Vesuvio’s head; before them far,
The stronger flames of Stromboli appear,
Vulcano’s sulphurous fumes, and Etna’s brow,104
Where crimson vapours tinge the eternal snow,
And all the heavens with awful beauty glow.
On lofty Stromboli the sky was bright,
As when it sparkles with the northern light,
And ever as the mountain hurl’d on high
Its mass of molten lava to the sky,
O’er all the isle the vivid lustre spread,
And brighten’d ocean with a glow of red;
Like distant thunder, burst a hollow sound,
Disturb’d the quivering air, and shook the shores around.105
Now on the coast the chariot sinks to land,
Where mingled lavas form’d the rugged strand,
And o’er the ground deep spread the sable sand106
And oft some broken rock or cavern show’d
Where o’er the first the later streams had flow’d.
As Leonora left her cloud-like car,
The beauteous fabric melted into air.
O’er the rude soil with timid steps she went,
A dim and fitful light the mountain lent,
That shew’d a hamlet, where the vineyards green
In narrow patches stud the rugged scene.
One cottage still a feeble light display’d,
And gladly open’d to the Iberian maid;
Here dwelt an aged peasant and his wife,
Who calmly journev’d down the vale of life,
Nor mourn’d departed youth. He from his birth
Still fondly cherish’d his paternal earth,
Tho’ near was many a fair and fertile spot,
Though each explosion shook the trembling cot;
And oft the scorize dark or fiery balls
Pour like a hail-storm on the shattered walls,
Or in his little vineyard, and consume
The expected produce of the year to come;
Yet here his sires first drew the vital air,
And memory made the humble dwelling dear.
More sweet to him the bread his toils command,
His hut of lava and his barren strand,
Than soft repose, or wealth’s alluring smiles,
Sicilia’s flowery vales, or fortune’s emerald isles107
His children round with all their offspring dwelt,
(A numerous race,) in cots themselves had built,
That morn, the seventieth annal of his birth,
The hamlet hail’d with sports and rustic mirth,
Around the dear paternal board they prest,
The light laugh follow’d on the frequent jest;
He, pleas’d to see the infant race aspire,
They, proud to hear and emulate their sire,
And the glad hours had past in such delight,
That far the day had trespass’d on the night.
The aged huswife now, with busy care,
For Leonora spreads her simple fare,
And humble couch, where soon the maid forgot
The cloud impending o’er her future lot,
The explosions long and loud, and trembling cot.
At morn, attended by a trusty guide,
The fearless nymph ascends the mountain’s side,
Which tower’d above the vast volcanic pile,
The giant parent of the rocky isle.
Long was the steep ascent; the path was strew’d
With stony fragments, ponderous, loose, and rude;
And as she toil’d along the rugged way,
The faithless sands her sinking steps betray.
The eastern summit gain’d, her eye survey’d
A plain with sable sand and scoria spread.
The Sylphs had mov’d the dense sulphureous cloud
That shrouds in fatal gloom the dangerous road,
Yet from the ground thro’ numerous openings came
Thick fumes of sulphur in continued stream,
Hot was the humid soil, and all around
Her steps re-echoed from the hollow ground.
Within the ancient crater now she stood,
Whence the long streams of liquid fire had flow’d
That form’d the solid isle, but many an age
Its fires had slept, exhausted with their rage;
Its falling sides the dire abyss o’erspread,
And recent scoria form’d a sable bed.
Yet thro’ the crust sulphureous odours breathe,
And fumes ascend in many a snowy wreath,
And, like a lion, awful in repose,
A moment might the dreadful gulf disclose,
And Leonora hastes, and fears to view
Its slumbering fury wake and rage anew.
Westward her course the bold adventurer bends,
And now the mountain’s loftiest peak ascends;
Beneath, unseen, the dread volcano glows,
Yet o’er the crest the smoky volumes rose;
She hears the louder roar, and sees with dread
The flaming masses rise above her head,
And sand and ashes scatter’d all around,
The marks of former fury, strew the ground.
Descending now, she reach’d a rocky height,
Whence the whole scene unfolded to her sight;
Saw from the gulf the orbs of lava rise,
And clouds of dusky vapour veil the skies,
And shuddering thought how soon the hour might came.
When that red void should be her hated home;
That was her road, and from that sad sojourn,
Pyros or Fate might bar the hoped return,
Yet livelier thoughts her ardent bosom swell’d,
And love and hope her rapid steps impell’d;
Above the gulf she mark’d a narrow cave,108
A hanging rock the needful shelter gave;
She seized a favouring moment, then in haste
Dismiss’d her wondering guide, and safely past;
Above her head the balls ignited pour;
But safely shelter’d from the dreadful shower,
Within the pit she view’d the burning mass,
Of dark red hue, it gleam’d like melted brass,109
Now sunk, now rose; now gaseous floods impel
The fluid balls that harden’d ere they fell,
And down the cliff rush’d rattling to the main,
Dash’d on the rocks, or sought the abyss again.
Awhile she paus’d: “Oh thou! resplendent queen,
Chief of the powers that rule this awful scene,
Hear, from thy throne of fire, a suppliant maid,
Propitious hear, and grant thy promis’d aid.
Thy arm, Spinthera, thine alone can guide
My steps in safety thro’ yon boiling tide,
Mid waves of liquid fire my frame can shield,
Where stubborn earths and shining metals yield;
Oh! by some gracious sign thy favour shew,
And guide me thro’ yon gulf that boils below.”
She spoke, and deep the roaring flood retires
Within the crater, nor again aspires;
But from the numerous caves that yawn’d around,
The smoke rush’d furious with a deafening sound,
And round the edge their vivid flames that play’d,
Had scar’d all other but this love-fraught maid;110
Thro’ the vast gulf, in mild and mellow light,
The gentle Chliarotes rose to sight.
He spoke: “Commissioned by my queen, I come
To guide your steps to Pyros’ regal dome;
This robe she sends, to guard your tender frame
From the wild fury of encircling flame
Soft threads of mountain flax its folds compose,
Wov’n by a sea-nymph’s hand, and bleach’d on Alpine snows:
Then in my sovereign’s care and mine confide,
Plunge boldly in, nor dread the fiery tide.”
The fearless nymph obey’d — her tender feet
The lava press, yet scarcely feel its heat;
O’er solid fire proceeds the undaunted dame,
And breathes amid an atmosphere of flame,
Which round her form, by frequent currents driven,
Fann’d her dark tresses like the gales of heaven.
Yet oft, at first, she screen’d her dazzled sight
From the full spehdour of that crimson light,
And shrunk from flames that round innocuous fly,
Soft as the evening zephyr’s vernal sigh.
How vast the fiery realm! around her stood
Unnumber’d Sprites, that various tasks pursu’d;
Surpris’d she saw, where some of gentler birth
Warm with benignant heat the incumbent earth,
Arous’d the slumbering seed, and bid it shoot
Deep in the fostering soil its vigorous root,
While high in air the leafy stems ascend,
And clustering fruits in vermil pride depend;
Some bid beneath the exhaustless sulphur boil,
Whose fumes condensing in Vulcano’s soil,
Fill the hot ground, or roaring force their way
Thro’ the thin roof that parts them from the day,111
The solid lava decompound again,
And with white crust conceal its sable grain.
Some in close caves, far from access of air,112
Bid chalk the marble’s sparry texture wear;
Some the fall’n woods, by earth long cover’d o’er,
With fumes sulphureous fill at every pore,
Bid dark bitumen now pervade the whole,
And change the forest’s leafy pride to coal,113
While some with empyrean air combine,
And bid the crystal mass a diamond shine,
Or dark plumbago frown in sable pride,
Of different nature, tho’ in birth allied.
And some the elemental war sustain,
Where frost and fire contend for Thule’s reign,
Where her vast geysers’ boiling fountains flow,
And Hecla burns amid eternal snow.
But now, emerg’d from Genoa’s ample bay,
The light felucca cuts its rapid way;
Twice on the tide the setting crimson stream’d,
And twice the morning’s purple lustre gleam’d,
While still, as day, retiring, yields to night,
The ocean sparkles with phosphoric light,
And like a torch the bright medusae glide,
With oscillating motion, o’er the tide.
Long had Alonzo watch’d them on the main,
Now wearied sink, now rise to light again;
Sudden in many a form their troops combine,
That varied oft in circle, square, or trine;
At length these words their lucid lines declare:
“Hasten to Stromboli, thy love is there.”
The floating lamps their wondrous mandate gave,
Then sunk, and darkness clos’d upon the wave.114
And now arrived at Lipari’s isle, they moor
Their galley in its shelter’d port secure.
The harbour, with the town and castle crown’d,
Stretch’d like an amphitheatre around.
The Castle on a rock enormous stood,
Which rose abruptly from the roaring flood;
Of herbage bare, save where the opuntia green
Had forc’d its stem the solid rocks between,
Careless of soil, with equal strength it grows
In the moist valley, or on mountain brows,
Where scarce the lichen hides the lava bare,
And seems to draw its sustenance from air;115
Its trunk of aggregated leaves was made,
Its verdant head a leafy crown display’d:
Broad spread the leaves, and on their pulpy green
The embryo plants in bristled knobs were seen;
The large and numerous fruits, on either side,
(A massy fringe,) depend in golden pride,
And there, uninjur’d by the inclement year,
The wintry board with Autumn’s dainties cheer.
The extended town volcanic mountains crown’d,
Two lofty hills the shelter’d harbour bound;
Here Capiscello, Monte Rosa there,
Whose sides their porphyritic birth declare.
While Campo Bianco’s silvery pumice shone,
Like drifted snow beneath the morning sun,
And numbers scoop’d its shining side, and bore
Their burthens light, tho’ large, and piled upon the shore.
High in the air, a dark but shining mass,
Castagna reared its head of solid glass,
As when some mighty river, swell’d with rain,
Bursts its strong mounds, and foams along the plain,
Uproots the trees, o’envhelms the verdant land,
And stains its sparkling waves with mud and sand;
The waters now in numerous streams divide,
O’er some steep rock now pour their mingled tide,
Then could some ice-bolt, in its hurried fall,
With sudden cold congeal the lucid wall,
The crystal mass in clefts and fissures rent,
Would like Castagna’s mount a scene present.116
Stupendous sight! at Pyros’ might amaz’d,
Alonzo on those giant trophies gazed.
Then turn’d to view St. Angelo’s vast height,117
Which rose in rugged grandeur on the sight,
While in the clefts some fruitful spot was seen,
The barren rocks and steepy heights between,
Where labour, and a length of ages fled,
Had turn’d to earth the lava’s solid bed
Near these proud Guardia rears its rival head;
On whose rich side the cluster’d vines behold,
That pour the Malmsey from their fruit of gold,118
When ruddy autumn rules the mellow year;
The busy natives make their dwelling here,
(A simple active race; content and health,
The noblest gifts of heaven, their only wealth,
Yet questions shrewd an active mind display,
And beauty lends a bright but transient ray.)
And here, while pleasure cheats the toilsome hours,
They strip the vineyard of its golden stores;
And oft at sea, amid the shades of night,
The wondering seaman views the unusual light
From each illumin’d cot that brightly glows,
And crowns with starry wreaths the mountain’s brows.
The sails swell’d briskly in the favouring breeze,
As launched the bark upon the Eolian seas,
Those seas, so oft to sudden storms a prey,
While calms, delusive, flatter to betray;
For oft when peaceful seem the summer skies,
Without a wind the troubled waters rise,
And by the waves on rocks volcanic tost,
The unsuspecting bark is wreck’d, and lost.119
Now as the vessel lightly bounds away,
In sportive troops around the dolphins play,
With arrowy speed they cut the waters blue,
Now disappear, now rise again to view,
Now o’er the foaming waves their heads they rear,
And spout their crystal fountains high in air;
Now from the prow dart swiftly to the helm,
A playful escort thro’ the watry realm.120
Panaria’s isle a milder aspect wore,
And vines and olives cloth’d the fertile shore;
But Lisca’s rock in native grandeur stood,
And three small islands break the foaming flood;
When here, in number great, and great in size,
The Xiphias’ shoals the admiring knight surprize,
Their pointed horns a pearly lustre gave,
And shone like silver thro’ the sparkling wave;
Emerging from Messina’s straits they steer,
In Genoa’s seas to pass the vernal year.121
When thrice the glass had chang’d its shifting sand,
On Stromboli Alonzo springs to land.
Yet how, if here, the Spanish maid to find,
A thousand doubts distract his labouring mind;
Of all he ask’d, in vain — no ship was here
From Albion’s isle, and all the sea was clear.
At length he heard, as on the shore he stray’d,
Some peasants talking of a stranger maid,
While every face surprize and fear betray’d.
“Alone, at midnight’s silent hour, she came,
The shelter of my humble roof to claim,
No guardian veil conceal’d her lovely face
From evening blasts, or man’s intrusive gaze.
At morn she left me; Ubald for her guide;
Eager she climb’d the mountain’s rugged side:
And when she reach’d yon gulf of liquid fire,
In haste she bade the wondering youth retire.
He went: yet linger’d nigh, and thought to hear
His swift recall. At length he ventur’d near,
But not a vestige of the nymph was there;
Nor know we how she vanish’d, when, or where.
Her garb proclaim’d her from a foreign land,
Yet has no vessel touch’d this sable strand:
So bright her charms, her form so light and fair,
But for her eyes of jet, and sable hair,
I else had deem’d that Fay, whose magic pow’r
Paints on the distant waves our mimic shore,
Had left her rainbow dome and airy bower.”122
“Nay, rather deem her some deluded nun,”
Another said, “who seeks her vows to shun;
Heaven’s vengeance has destroy’d the guilty fair,
And let our voices rise in earnest prayer,
Lest we the horrors of her doom should share.”
“No!” said a youth, “be prayers and praises given
As to a saint that leaves her throne in heaven!
Last night, when all around was still and mute,
As at Lavinia’s bower I wak’d my lute,
In the dark sky I saw a floating cloud,
Where still the evening’s crimson lustre glow’d,
It sunk to earth, and seem’d to melt in air,
When in its place I saw a damsel fair;
Round her dark locks a silver glory play’d,
As thro’ the night’s increasing gloom she stray’d:
Perchance St. Catharine left her spouse, to tame123
The demon sprites that vex this land of flame.”
Each listener’s looks increasing dread display;
“Enough,” Alonzo thought, and turn’d away,
Nor heeds the strife of vestal, saint, or fay.
And now, as chance a rugged pathway shew’d,
The knight pursu’d the long laborious road.
High o’er the mountain spread a lofty cloud,
And wrapt the summit in its sable shroud;
In vain he sought to pierce its dangerous womb,
Sulphureous odours fill the fatal gloom,
For mighty Kapnos, a gigantic guard,
Waving his “arms of mist,” his progress barr’d;
And leagued with hot Scirocco’s baleful breath,
Had spread around this atmosphere of death.124
Rebellious Sylph! in vain thine arts essay
To stop the knight; thy monarch guards his way. —
“Propitious power! till now my friend and guide,
Oh! aid my progress here!” Alonzo cried.
He spoke; a sudden gale refresh’d the air,
And mighty Boreas hasten’d at his pray’r;
Not as to Albion Arctic blasts he brings,
And second winter on his icy wings;
Here the mild breezes own his gentle reign,
And waft Apulian fragrance o’er the main,
At distance fell Scirocco seem’d to know,
And with instinctive terror shuns his foe;
He spreads his tawny wings — he scours the plain,
And seeks Sahara’s boundless wilds again.
Kapnos awhile delay’d, then rising high,
Spread his gigantic form and vanish’d in the sky;
Again the sun his orb unclouded shew’d,
Alonzo hasten’d on his dangerous road,
And reach’d the fiery gulf: a numerous band
Of sprites around in hostile phalanx stand;
In vain he states what wondrous causes bring
A mortal knight a suppliant to their king,
And prays their courtesy to guide him right —
With levell’d spears the train provoke the fight;
While Spintheros his arrows showers from far,
The gallant Phlogos hastes to closer war.
Short was the strife — what mortal could withstand
The fierce attack of his unconquer’d hand!
The knight invokes celestial aid in vain;
His weary arms the faulchion scarce sustain;
When Phlogos now, who saw his strength decay,
Seized in his arms his unresisting prey;
Faint with the heat, exhausted with the fight,
He hung a lifeless burthen on the sprite,
Who, while his comrade follow’d, swiftly bore
His victim to the inhospitable shore.
“But whence,” he cried, “and who this knightly pair
That treads these nether realms with dauntless air?
At their approach the sprites in haste retire,
And safe they move amid encircling fire!
Stand knights! in death your trespass you atone,
Or win your dangerous passage with my own.”
The summons soon obey’d, in deadly fight
The dauntless warriors clos’d with either sprite.
But Spintheros, in missile warfare skill’d,
(His arrows useless in the narrow field,)
Soon yields to Alfred’s arm; his eye of fire,
And roseate bloom, in pallid death expire.
As turns the victor knight, amaz’d he found
Alonzo pale and senseless on the ground;
He rais’d his head — on Alfred’s scarf-clad breast
His lifeless arms and throbbing temples rest.
The wondrous scarf exerts its cooling power,
Refreshing as at summer’s sultry hour
To sunburnt pastures the reviving shower,
Or by the faint and weary traveller seen,
Mid Afric’s sands her springs and isles of green.
Meanwhile, with Phlogos hand to hand engaged,
A long and doubtful conflict Henry waged;
While every blow the salamander dealt
On Henry’s magic cincture dropt unfelt;
And every stroke of Henry’s vengeful blade
Deep in his rival’s mail a passage made.
The wounded Phlogos writh’d with rage and pain,
But soon the ethereal essence clos’d again:”
Thus slightest shocks the limpid stream divide,
And o’er the wound thus flows the closing tide.
Vex’d at his fruitless toil, the knight unroll’d
His emerald scarf, and flung its silken fold
Full on the sprite — as bubbles on the wind
Burst as they sail, nor leave a trace behind,
He sunk, and where his arm the fight maintained,
No sign, no vestige, of the chief remained.
Alonzo now restor’d, uncheck’d they past,
And Pyros’ regal palace reach’d at last.
Bright walls of fire the ample space enclose,
Here domes of smoke on flamy columns rose,
There smoky pillars wreaths resplendent bound,
And cornices of fire the roof surround.
While, like the vault of heaven, in dazzling light,
The scattered lamps adorn its fleecy white,
Light forms of fire the hall majestic fill,
And move obedient to their monarch’s will;
Who by his beauteous bride, in awful state,
Rais’d on a throne of fiery splendour sate,
And round his graceful form such lustre plays,
That e’en the sprites are dazzled as they gaze.
Before them Leonora stood; her air
And mournful eye a fruitless suit declare,
In vain she strove by prayers her Veil to gain,
And mild Spinthera urg’d her lord in vain,
Sternly he frown’d, but when the knights he saw,
His alter’d looks betray’d surprize and awe;
His glowing form and glaring eyes exprest
The increasing storm that struggled in his breast.
What means this sight, that mortal knights and strange
Thus through our kingdom unmolested range?
E’en to our presence force their desperate way!
At their approach why shrink the sprites away?
Slaves! ye that oft in victory’s dangerous field
The Gnomes o’erthrew, or bade the Hydidæ yield,
Fear ye a mortal’s arm? advance, and shew
That none unpunish’d tread this realm below.
Promptly avenge your lord’s insulted throne,
And let their lives their rash attempt atone!”
The monarch spoke; while, chafed with inward ire,
His nostrils breath’d, his eyeballs flash’d with fire;
Brave Henry rais’d the visor from his brow,
And thus replied, in words sedate and slow:
“There was a time, in Salem’s hallow’d land,
That Pyros join’d Mohammed’s impious band,
There led the host that worship at his shrine,
And powerful spells and magic fenc’d their line.
The Sylphs and Europe’s host their force defied,
Triumphant fought, for heaven was on their side.
Ill would it fit a warrior’s tongue to tell
Of vanquish’d foes that by his valour fell;
And ill it fits a Christian knight to boast
Of ruth and mercy to a conquer’d host;
But when beneath a Christian warrior’s sword,
His vanquished votary call’d his distant lord,
Then Pyros knows the arts he used to save,
The prayers he urg’d, the royal word he gave,
And Henry comes the promis’d boon to crave.
He spoke: at once the monarch’s anger gone,
With milder mien he left his lofty throne,
Each wondering warrior hail’d with courteous grace,
And welcom’d Henry with a friend’s embrace.
“Forgive, brave knight,” he said, “thy name unknown,
Our angry mien and strange reception shewn,
Hail to these nether regions! and receive
Such welcome as a grateful prince should give,
And be thy boon of worth at once to prove
Our friend’s confiding mind, and Pyros’ love.”
“Such shall it be!” the generous knight rejoin’d,
Not for myself I tax thy noble mind;
Here stands a maid, a suppliant at thy throne,
Whose tearful eyes her suit successless own;
And here a youth, in combat tried and prov’d,
Her love deserving, and by her beloved:
Then why, since fair Spinthera at thy side
Now shares thy throne and heart, a beauteous bride,
Why not her Veil, a useless gift, resign,
Which checks her bliss, yet cannot add to thine,
And claim the joy to noble natures dear,
When smiles contend with beauty’s grateful tear?”
“What! yield the Veil, that late I deeply swore
To her I never, never would restore! —
I sought her love, and pleas’d she heard my tale,
Pledge of her faith, she freely gave the Veil
She now with tears would claim, — but far away
War with the Gnomes from her prolong’d my stay;
And when return’d, elate I sought the fair,
To tell my triumphs to her joyful ear,
Fearful to burst too rudely on her sight,
I lurk’d unseen behind a beam of light,
That thro’ the waving foliage found its way,
Where on a bank the damsel pensive lay.
But while, with love’s fond gaze, I watch’d the dame
She with a sigh pronounc’d Alonzo’s name.
‘Alas!’ she said, ‘these groves already wear
The joyous livery of the vernal year,
And ere these buds shall ripen into bloom,
A haughty despot bears me to his home.
Farewell! dear scenes, where oft Alonzo tells
Of hope and love, and still his image dwells,
Soon must I tear that image from my heart!
And soon to fire’s terrific realms depart!
Doom’d, by the rashness of one fatal hour,
The consort of a strange mysterious power,
Of different race, and one who still must prove
An object more of terror, than of love.’
“With jealous fury stung, I darted through
The quivering foliage, muttering as I flew,
‘No more shalt thou of Pyros’ love complain,
He scorns to combat or to sue in vain;
On this ungrateful earth no more I range,
And trust a race for ever prone to change.
I quit this upper realm — to wound thy pride,
This night shall hail Spinthera as my bride.
Yet think not thy inconstancy, thy scorn,
Ungrateful maid! by me are tamely borne;
Or that thine hours in calm delight shall flee
With him thy folly now prefers to me,
For while I hold the mystic pledge, thy hand,
Affianced thus, no other dares demand.
And by yon sun that rules this subject earth,
That radiant orb whence I derive my birth,
Tho’ thou with tears and ceaseless prayers implore,
To thee thy Veil I never will restore.’
Too late repentant of my vow, I heard
The constant prayers Spinthera’s love preferr’d,
Forc’d, while my brows in borrow’d frowns were dress’d,
To hide the pity that my heart confest;
Then drop, my friend, a suit by fate repell’d,
And claim some boon that I may freely yield.
For I, if told, had scrupled to believe
That thou could’st ask what I should pause to give.”
“If but thy vow resist,” the youth replied,
“Still shalt thou yield, nor claim I ought beside,
Then by some other hand from thine transfer
The fatal pledge thou canst not yield to her.”
“I will!” the king in eager transport said,
And o’er his form a milder lustre play’d:
“Well pleased I yield, nor deem caprice or pride,
Sweet maid! to thee so long the gift denied;
O’er my rash vow propitious fates prevail,
I pause no more, Alonzo, thine the Veil!
Restore it to those lovely locks, and may
Your future bliss your sorrows past repay.”
Wrapt in her rescu’d pledge, the Spanish maid
And joyful knight their grateful homage paid
To fair Spinthera, to the royal sprite,
To Alfred, and to Albion’s generous knight.
Then as he twin’d it in her sable hair,
Alonzo recogniz’d, and claim’d his spear,
(That spear had prov’d a faithful staff, to guide
Her failing footsteps on the mountain side.)
The Veil restor’d, not long the knights delay’d,
Nor linger’d long the fair Iberian maid.
She bids farewell — in Chliarotes’ care,
Thro’ the deep gulf again she mounts to air.
And oh! how lovely to her wearied eye,
The moon’s soft light, the azure of the sky,
The still and placid grandeur of the scene,
The haunts of man, the tufts of sober green,
And that red cloud, that in the blue expanse,
With rapid motion sailing, met her glance;
Is that her airy car? — with what delight
She watch’d it sinking from the ethereal height!
How softly seem’d the evening gale to breathe,
How calm the waves of ocean slept beneath!
While its fair freight the aerial vessel bore,
And safely lands on Albion’s happy shore.
Meanwhile, great Ariel in his beamy car
Speeds with Maria thro’ the pathless air,
While mortal crowds, with wild admiring eyes,
Pursue the seeming meteor as it flies,
By some believed portending wars and woe,
And plagues and tempests to the world below;
But nobler minds in sager wonder gaze,
Lost in conjecture whence the wanderer strays;
From lunar mountains if it take its rise,
Or fumes condensing in superior skies;
Or from some comet’s train ignited hurl’d,
Feels the attraction of our greater world;
Or as a minor planet swiftly moves
Thro’ various systems, kindling as it roves.125
Thro’ the light air, and fann’d by fragrant gales,
As o’er the clouds the ethereal chariot sails,
The maiden marks the Sylphs their tasks pursue
With toil unceasing, zeal for ever new.
Some from the sun, with speed unmatch’d, convey
To heaven’s remotest bounds the lucid ray,
Hence countless suns to distant worlds appear,
And beaming planets gild each other’s sphere,126
Some o’er the viewless rays of heat preside,
And thro’ ethereal realms their progress guide;127
While borne diffuse on every side around
The quick vibrations of concentric sound.128
Some bid the lightning flash, the thunder roll,
And, as they dart around each glowing pole,
Their quivering lights the bright Auroras spread,
Till all the wondering welkin flames with red.129
Some paint in liveliest hues each various flower,
Fan the slow flame of being, and restore
In tenfold light, the torch’s fading ray,
Or bar the bold Electron’s rapid way.130 While some, with these in union, close combine,
And bid the leaves with pearly dew-drops shine;131
Or where above, the sun less warmly glows,
In glittering stars congeal the feathery snows.132
Now speed the Sylphs o’er Cambria’s frozen shore,
Now o’er the Baltic’s tideless waves they soar,133
Now hovering o’er Salseberist hangs the car,134
And now descending thro’ the impassive air,
They reach a dreary plain, where all around
With sable pines or snows eternal crown’d,
Their narrow view stupendous mountains bound.
Here Ariel leaves his train, the car, on high
Ascending swiftly, vanish’d in the sky:
Around no cheerful sound of life was heard,
Nor haunt of man, nor cave of beast appear’d,
Thro’ the thick mist the sunbeams faintly glow,
And darkness hover’d o’er the pit below;
That pit whose depth would mock the keenest sight,
If lamps beneath had shed a noontide light.
Now o’er the black abyss the monarch bends,
And thro’ the unmeasured depth his voice descends,
A guide!the king demands; his heavenly breath
Appear’d to burst the dreadful calm of death,
While echoing from the gulf and rocks around,
An hundred voices seem’d to join the sound.
And now, tho’ faint and wan, a ray of light
Appears below, and breaks the dreary night.
It brightens, and a hideous Gnome appears,
Who thro’ the gulf a bark ascending steers.
Less black was Vulcan, at his ceaseless toil
When Thetis found him in the Lemnian isle;
Less gloomy Charon seem’d when he convey‘d,
In his craz’d bark, the manes of the dead;
His wrinkled brow with soot was cover’d o’er,
His haggard cheeks a smile malignant wore;
His eyes, unus’d to meet the light of day,
Star’d wildly round, and seem’d to loath the ray;
Through his dark robes his naked arms appear’d,
One held a torch, and one the vessel steer’d.
The bark rose slowly to the pit’s dark side,
At two small seats in silence points the guide,
The Sylph supports and cheers the entering maid;
“Descend!” the Gnome in voice of thunder said.
Sad on her ear those hollow accents came,
And thrill’d with horror all her shrinking frame.
From his dark form she turn’d her glistening eyes,
And fix’d them wildly on the azure skies;
Still less and less the lucid circle grew,
Shrunk to a point, and vanish’d from her view.
While fainter as it shone, her eager sight
More keenly strain’d to catch the latest light,
And when it fled, with grief and fear opprest,
She droop’d, and hope forsook her aching breast.
“Alas!” she thought, “in that bright point, the skies
And cheerful day for ever fled mine eyes;
I go a living victim to the tomb,
Where shapes terrific haunt congenial gloom;
Far from those scenes which memory turns to trace,
Each well known spot, each ‘dear familiar face,’
From love, from Henry,” — then with look askance
She casts upon the guide an anxious glance,
Then on the aërial monarch, to descry,
And draw fresh hope from that which lit his eye;
Yet still her heart is chill’d by boding fears,
And o’er her breast descend her streaming tears.
But now, with sudden cold, a dreadful sound
Of rushing streams and torrents roaring round,
Arous’d the maid, yet nought her eyes survey,135
The heavy air obscur’d the torch’s ray
That faintly glimmer’d through the dashing spray.
But as the vessel sinks, the torrent’s roar
Dies in the distance, and is heard no more,
While down the sad abyss, long, deep, and dark,
With added swiftness still descends the bark;
At length they reach the ground, Maria springs
From her frail seat, yet still to Ariel clings,
While through the narrow path of damp and gloom
Their steps are lighted by the sullen Gnome.
But now, what cheerful sounds and sudden light
Burst in full splendour on her dazzled sight!
A vast saloon the astonished travellers gain,
Where silver columns the bright dome sustain;
Four spacious galleries stretch the chamber round,
Each with its roof of solid silver crown’d.
Innumerous lamps illume the splendid halls,
In tenfold light reflected from the walls,
Or on a crystal stream their lustre shed,
That gaily tript along its shining bed.136
Amid his court, upon a lofty throne,
In regal state, the sage Argyros shone,
An aged chief; an ample realm he swayed,
Revered for wisdom, and with joy obey’d;
Yet more he wish’d his loaded wains to bear
The gifts of commerce, than the spoils of war,
And better liked his temper’d fires to yield
The sculptur’d chalice, than the bossy shield;
Thro’ crowded streets to urge his sumptuous cars,
Than ride triumphant o’er the field of Mars:
His word was truth, his wisdom high was deem’d,
And next to Chrysos was his worth esteem’d,
And many a doubtful cause, to him referr’d,
He judged impartial, as he calmly heard:
To his award e’en Chrysos bow’d, and he,
Their lord Albruno, sanctioned his decree.137
Thro’ the vast throng that crowd this ample hall,
The adventurers past, invisible to all;
They reach’d the portal, where, with Attic taste,
The frieze and valves with sculptured forms were grac’d:
Thence her astonish’d eyes Maria bends,
Where far beyond a spacious town extends;
In silver glow the towers and spires appear,
The lofty walls their glittering turrets rear,
All, all was light, the dazzled eye with pain
Endures the glare, and seeks repose in vain.
Now pass the pair thro’ many a shining street,
And busy Gnomes and wains unnumber’d meet,138
And view, where turn’d by subterranean gales,
The restless mills expand their whirling sails.
But watchful Ariel shudder’d here to view
Each yellow flame decay in livid hue,
And heard the thrilling shriek of woe and fear,
That told the mine’s malignant demon near.139
Those fading flames attest his baleful breath,
Down sink the Gnomes, or fly the impending death,
Or stand prepared again in native night
To shroud the realm, and mock the demon’s sight.
The evil Spirit came — o’er Ariel’s head,
A snowy film, his floating form, was spread;
The watchful Sylph his powerful arms expands,
Seiz’d the foul Sprite, and crush’d him in his hands;
Or, withering at his touch, unhappy fair!
Thy fears and hopes at once had ended there! —
Bright beam the lamps, the Gnomes recovered rise,
And all again is bustle, life, and noise.
The wanderers quit these busy realms of light,
And plunge once more in silence aud in night;
Yet still from Ariel’s crown the unfading ray
Supplied the absence of ethereal day.
Thro’ many a cave and arched way they pass,
Hewn in primeval granite’s solid mass,
In speckled porphyry, or in marble white,
Or glittering schist, or darker sienite,
And now directly in the adventurers’ way,
Deep, wide, and swift a milky river lay;140
Awhile in thought the aerial monarch stood,
Prepar’d to bear the maiden o’er the flood,
But as the Sylph approach’d, the waters fled,
And dry they journey’d o’er its silver bed,
Then paus’d upon the bank, surpriz’d to view
The intermittive waters flow anew.141
Just as they reach’d Albruno’s stately dome,
To meet his council mov’d the lordly Gnome;
With loud acclaims the spacious galleries rang,
The vaulted roofs reflect the trumpets’ clang:
Here paus’d the Sylph, and turning to the maid,
“Now fate propitious speed thy suit!” he said;
“Why is that eye deprest with sudden fear?
My presence will but mar thy fortunes here;
Thy welfare calls me hence, yet still my power
Shall shield and guide thee in this awful hour,
And when this form next bursts upon thine eye,
I come the harbinger of love and joy.”
He spoke, Maria answered with a sigh.
Where round his throne the vassal monarchs wait,
Albruno like an eastern despot sate,
The bravest warriors quail’d beneath his eye,
And scarcely dar’d to lift their looks so high.
Those veteran chiefs who oft had brav’d in fight
The hosts of fire, or bold Hydidæ’s might,
With slavish fear obey their tyrant lord,
Haste at his nod, and tremble at his word.
Chrysos alone, a keen reproachful glance
Darts on the king, more sharp than foeman’s lance,
Heeds not his angry look, and dares to frown
On the pale Sprite that stands before the throne;
Kassiteros, whose servile tongue display’d
The wiles that lur’d the unsuspecting maid,
And faltering told the unexpected aid;
Which (while his towers immur’d, not her alone,
Whom to decoy those towers delusive shone,
But two fair maids, by spells congenial tied,)
His triumph mock’d, and made his labour void,
Releas’d the damsels, and the fort destroy’d.
Pleas’d with their counsels known, the king forgave
The fruitless toil, and smil’d upon his slave.
When first this nether realm Albruno sway’d,
His just commands a cheerful laud obey’d;
By Chrysos guided, every happy hour,
With blessings wing’d, bore record of his power,
His prosperous realm was free from war’s alarms,
Or led by wisdom, glory crown’d his arms;
Hope gaz’d with transport on his dawning sway,
And blazon’d brighter still his noontide ray.
But ah! too soon the monarch’s heart around
His serpent folds false Oreichalcon wound,
Rous’d by his breath, his heart alternate strove
With mad ambition and insensate love:
One bred protracted wars and countless foes,
One taught the fraud that caus’d Maria’s woes;
While flattery clouded truth’s serener rays,
And urged him to pursue their meteor blaze;
And tho’, his favourite dead, again his ear
To Chrysos turn’d, with penitence sincere,
Returning virtue vainly fought with pride,
And love yet linger’d where ambition died.
Nor could the sage’s prudent voice persuade
The stubborn monarch to release the maid;
“Tho’ time yet lingers, soon the appointed hour
Will place the beauteous virgin in my power,
Then haste, ye Gnomes, and trim the bridal bower;
Let all that yields delight to eye or ear,
Each pleasing tint, each soothing sound be there;
All that on earth the female heart can charm,
All that on earth can female fancy warm;
So shall my zeal the grateful damsel move,
And wealth and splendour light the fires of love.”
Thus spoke Albruno, when the entering maid
Among his peers her fairy form display’d;
A lovelier nymph these regions ne’er had seen,
Of form more graceful, or more princely mien,
Tho’ from her cheeks their wonted bloom was fled,
And chilling fear restrained her airy tread.
The chiefs around in silent rapture pause,
Or join the whisper’d murmur of applause.
Not so the king! for tho’ in mute delight
On her lov’d form he fed his ravish’d sight,
When he beheld how dim, how sunk her eye,
How pale her cheek, and heard her long-drawn sigh,
His conscience woke, and to his tortur’d heart
Her scorpion stings their fiercest fury dart;
He trembled lest the assembled Gnomes should know
That he had caus’d such aggravated woe,
And at her bidding rise in rebel arms,
The prompt avengers of her injured charms,
For all were taught that mutual vows allied
Their amorous monarch and his mortal bride,
Though jealous Ariel would their loves divide.
While thus he mused, before his throne she fell,
And strongly urged him to restore the Veil:
By reason’s force, or soft persuasive art,
She tried to move his unrelenting heart.
“Alas!” she said, “what hate thy bosom bears,
Thus to rejoice and triumph in my tears,
Destroy each vision youthful hope has wove,
And wound thus deeply in the mask of love!
Can this be love? — No; love is ever prone
To prize its object’s weal before its own;
Ah, yet relent! ere, worn by lengthen’d grief,
My frame decays, and death shall yield relief;
And oh! if e’er thy bosom thrill’d with joy
When tears of rapture fill’d the glistening eye,
And virtue long opprest, by thee restor’d,
A thousand blessings on thy name implor’d,
Oh! let my voice, my woes, my tears prevail,
My sufferings pity, and restore the Veil!”
Albruno gaz’d upon the maid and sigh’d;
Awhile he musing stood, and then replied,
“Unhappy me! whom adverse fates compel
To cause the woe of one I love so well;
Oh! why that love with hate requite? and why
Still ask a boon which love must still deny?
Claim ought but this, and if to grant be mine,
My power, my crown, my sceptre, all are thine!
Thine are my treasures, all my secret store,
By Gnome or mortal never view’d before;
Thine Ophir’s vaunted gold, the wealth that shines
In proud Hispania’s or Carinthia’s mines;
Or where Siberia’s frozen plains expand,
Or vast Sahara spreads her boundless sand;
Golconda shall her glittering hoard resign,
And Ethiopia’s gems and gold be thine;
Earth too has mines revealed to me alone,
And wealth that slumbers in a world unknown,142
u Yet if thou bid’st, for thee my Gnomes unfold
Potosi’s silver, and Peruvia’s gold,
From Anahuac143 bring the various ores,
And choicest diamonds from Brazilian shores.
“Doubtst thou my love! look round this realm and see
What endless labours vex my slaves for thee!
See, where yon hills rise towering on the sight,
The landscape emulates the fields of light,
Yon ruby sun now darts his mimic rays,
This lofty dome the evening sky displays!
Let these prevail, a favouring ear incline,
And oh! by choice, and not by force be mine.
Bid my glad spirits dress the nuptial bower,
For know, the Veil I never can restore.”
He ceas’d; the lingering ray of hope was fled,
Which, while he spoke, sustain’d the anxious maid;
Senseless she fell, but Chrysos rais’d the dame,
And, at his bidding, Amiantha came,
Long o’er the nymph employ’d her care in vain,
Before she woke to life and woe again.
Meanwhile, Albruno mark’d the feeling strong
That broke in murmurs from his vassal throng;
Fix’d not to yield, yet griev’d those sounds to hear,
Where indignation triumph’d over fear,
He pondered how to quench the rising flame,
To sooth her grief, yet not resign the dame;
When, long in craft, and wiles insidious tried,
The artful plan Kassiteros supplied,
And, as the damsel weeping left the hall,
Her faltering steps the monarch’s words recall.
“Stay, lov’d Maria, stay! my anxious heart
In all thy sufferings bears an equal part,
I mourn each shade of grief that clouds thine eye,
Feel every tear, and echo every sigh.
Oh could I dry those tears — that this might be
At any price but that of yielding thee!
“Too well I know why all my prayers are vain,
As lunar beams to melt the frozen main;
Shunn’d as a foe, and odious in thy sight,
Why scorn and hate my proffer’d crown requite.
What tho’ my rival boast the careless mirth,
The sportive gaiety of upper earth;
For thee a love as warm, as pure, I bear,
And call thee here a monarch’s throne to share.
Yet if with me in fight he dare to stand,
Here let proud Henry combat for thy hand.
To-morrow is the day, should heaven incline,
The happy day that links thy fate with mine,
Then let him meet me, then my force assail,
Till sinks the sun, and win or lose the Veil.
Nay more, let him two champions bring to fight,
With me two Gnomes shall vindicate my right,
And should my warriors vanquish’d press the field,
Victor myself, I yet the pledge will yield;
(Oh, may the fates a happier doom decree!)
Who wins the battle, wins the Veil and thee.
And while my busy sprites the lists prepare,
On earth my heralds shall the fight declare
To Europe’s farthest bounds, and whosoe’er
Accepts the challenge, lead in safety here.
Meanwhile, in this our realm, thy guide and friend,
Shall Amiantha on thy steps attend,
Her gentle cares, her tender watchful love,
Shall charm thine anxious fears to rest, and prove
That not to day’s ethereal realms alone
The softer virtues of the soul are known:
Though here the sun refuse his beam, we claim
Alike a portion of that heavenly flame,
That flows at once thro’ earth, and air, and sky,
One boundless flood of life, and love, and joy.”
Fraudful he spoke, who deem’d securely chain’d,
His deepest cell the captive youth detain’d,
Nor thought, for one unknown, the bravest knight
Thro’ Europe’s realms would dare the unequal tight;
Or rashly should some chief the held demand,
What could Albruno fear from mortal hand?
He only sought, by seeming good betray’d,
From upper light to keep the hapless maid,
And hold her, when expir’d the fatal day,
Within his power an unresisting prey.
Maria, weeping, with her friend withdrew,
Nor found the prospect brighten on her view;
Fate seemed to draw a darker circle round,
Her Henry lost, herself more firmly bound —
While Amiantha vainly strives to cheer
Her drooping heart, and dry the frequent tear;
Yet ever as the injur’d maid inclin’d
In harsher hues to paint Albruno’s mind,
She on the portrait milder colouring laid,
And gave it brighter tints and softer shade.
Where Albion lifts her chalky cliffs on high,
The first faint crimson streak’d the eastern sky,
When thro’ the nether realms the sounding gong
Call’d to the lists Albruno’s vassal throng.
A brilliant ring! yet many a blooming maid,
And aged matron, mourning robes array’d,
And oft the anxious eye look’d round in vain
For warriors sleeping on the battle plain.
Her hands to heaven uprais’d, in earnest prayer
Maria sate, and seem’d a statue fair;
Or, by her wreath of flowers and suppliant eyes,
Some victim drest for ancient sacrifice.
The hour-glass told the fatal moment near,
Its last sands ran, yet was not Henry there.
“Ah!” thought Maria, “whither dost thou rove,
While instant danger threats thy distant love,
While I the moments count in torturing fear,
The day may pass, nor thou the summons hear;
To reach the spot thy distance may deny,
Or if thou com’st, thou only com’st to die;
u Ariel might aid me now, but thron’d in air,
He sits sublime, nor heeds a wretch’s prayer.”
Prepared for fight, now proud Albruno came,
His diamond shield and ruby armour flame:
With him Kassiteros, in white array’d,
His stately step vain confidence betray’d;
Chrysos was last, and seem’d to loath the cause
That from its sheath his golden falchion draws.
The martial trio past the barriers bright,
Where lamps depend in many an arch of light,
And thus the herald’s voice announc’d the fight:
“Our lord, Albruno, of a race divine,
Chief of the Gnomes, and Monarch of the Mine,
Whom earth thro’ all her realms obeys, and pours,
At his command, her never-failing stores,
Maria’s suitor, cloth’d in temper’d mail,
Now seeks her hand, affianc’d by the Veil,
And comes prepared, before the beauteous dame,
To fight with all who dare dispute his claim,
With him Kassiteros and Chrysos stand,
To prove his title to the maiden’s hand;
If any doubt his right, or dare deny,
Now let them come, and here his arm defy;
Before the maiden be their quarrel tried,
Who wins the battle, wins the Veil and Bride,”
Twice was the summons given, no answer came,
And a chill faintness seiz’d the maiden’s frame;
Again in louder tone the herald cried,
“Prepare — we come!” a hollow voice replied.
Yet vainly search’d the anxious eye around,
No warrior entering, answered to the sound,
But like the troubled waters of the main,
The heaving earth now rose, now sunk again,
Now yawn’d a cavern, whence with hissing noise,
Sulphureous steams and azure flames arise,
Upsprung three knights — thus Cadmus saw the field,
His labour plough’d, an armed harvest yield.144
First Henry came, and on Maria threw
A cheerful glance, that wak’d her hopes anew,
And as the throng stand speechless with surprize,
To instant fight the astonish’d king defies.
While Alfred and Alonzo, gallant pair!
Firm on the closing ground the conflict dare.
All pause in wonder, but the most amaz’d,
Albruno stood, and mutter’d as he gaz’d.
How comes he here?— by whom releas’d? — and how? —
His treacherous guards — but ’tis no matter now,
Success is sure, and when I end the fight,
No common pangs their treason shall requite.”
He turn’d — “Rash youth, and dost thou madly run
To brave that arm which prudence bids thee shun?”
Aloud he cried — “then on, proud mortal, come,
And from Albruno’s sword receive thy doom,
That fatal doom all rash intruders prove,
Who vie with me in combat or in love.”
No answer Henry deign’d — the trumpets blew,
And from their hands their beamy lances flew;
Guiltless they fell — in nearer fight oppos’d
They met — and now with Alfred Chrysos clos’d,
While mindful of his recent fall, with fear
Kassiteros beheld Alonzo near,
And fled — but as he ran the barriers round,
The spear, pursuing, pinn’d him to the ground.
He fell unpity’d, not a warrior there,
Or maid or matron, grac’d him with a tear:
But anger glow’d on many a veteran’s face,
Griev’d for the wounded honour of their race;
And inly blamed their monarch’s tardy blade,
And marvell’d at his vengeance thus delay’d.
Fierce was the fight; by love and hate inspir’d,
Warm’d by her presence whom they both desir’d;
Swift rush’d the tide of life thro’ every vein,
They turn, they bend, and every sinew strain;
Their shiver’d spears bestrew’d the glittering sand,
Their threat’ning falchions beam’d in either hand;
Albruno’s sword, the toil of many a year,
Hewn from the axis of this mundane sphere,
That adamantine prism, whose branches shoot
In all directions from their parent root,
And when he bids its smallest fibre shake,
The city falls, the solid mountains quake;145
Keen was its edge, embued in many a charm,
A weapon worthy of Albruno’s arm.
By Ariel’s hand was Henry’s sword bestow’d,
The wondrous blade with fiery lustre glow’d;
Form’d of concentred lightning, at its stroke
The harden’d steel divides, and knotted oak,
Yet now in vain repeated blows assail,
A stronger charm secured Albruno’s mail,146
Each with unwearied strength attacks his foe,
Each stroke eludes, and blow returns for blow;
Fast from their batter’d mail the flashes fly,
The echoing caverns to the strokes reply.
Yet neither yields — and Chrysos unsubdued,
In dubious contest still with Alfred stood;
Now on the champion’s head his sword descends,
The temper’d helm his threat’ned life defends,
Yet glancing down, the falchion pierc’d his side,
His burnish’d arms the crimson torrent dy’d:
Sunk on his knee, and senseless from the blow,
He seem’d an easy victim to his foe,
But brave Alonzo came, his massy shield
Received the stroke at Alfred’s breast impell’d;
With vigour unimpair’d he wag’d the fight,
And with redoubled blows assails the Sprite.
Meanwhile recovered, gallant Alfred sought
The spot where Henry and Albruno fought,
A mighty blow the king at Henry sped,
Palsied his arm, his hand resign’d the blade,
But Alfred’s ready sword the loss supplied,
Again the knight the angry Gnome defied:
Thus foil’d, when victory seem’d secure, and cries
Of joy and triumph fill’d the nether skies,
Furious he turn’d, and shunn’d the former strife,
To glut his vengeful soul with Alfred’s life.
Broke was the hero’s spear — his faithful brand,
His only weapon, shone in Henry’s hand;
Yet on his breast he held his massy shield,
And slow retreated o’er the ensanguin’d field;
He came where, writhing with a mortal wound,
Kassiteros lay struggling on the ground;
Tho’ lingering still, the spear forbade to rise,
And on the fight he turn’d his dying eyes,
Strain’d every nerve, and seiz’d with either hand
Brave Alfred’s foot, and stretch’d him on the sand.
His crafty spirit at the effort fled —
Beneath the monarch’s arm the champion laid,
His sword was lifted for the stroke of fate,
When Henry’s falchion fell with deadly weight;
His broken mail his wounded shoulder shew’d,
But from the wound no crimson torrent flow’d.
“Turn, if thou dar’st,” cried Henry, “coward Sprite!
Or dar’st thou but with foes unarm’d the fight?”
Stung with the taunt, Albruno turn’d — his foe
Shunn’d with an agile bound the impending blow;
With strength unwearied, and increasing rage,
In closer fight the valiant pair engage,
Now this, now that, retiring seems to yield;
Maria, trembling, eyed the doubtful field:
Thrice Henry’s falchion pierc’d the monarch’s side,
Albruno’s twice in Henry’s blood was dy’d;
In silent agony the Gnomes survey’d
The blow now hanging o’er their monarch’s head,
And had his own good weapon arm’d the knight,
No more were needful to decide the fight.
The monarch bent beneath the mighty stroke;
In Henry’s hand the faithless weapon broke;
Who, swift as eagles seize their prey, threw down
The borrow’d falchion, and regain’d his own.
Prepar’d to meet the monarch’s arm he stood,
Again they clos’d, again their fight renew’d.
Chrysos meanwhile still braved his angry foe,
And parries oft, but seldom aims a blow,
Still as he fought, increasing strength he gains,
The exhausted Spaniard scarce the fight sustains.
When now, where Albion shines amid the main,
The last faint sunbeam ting’d the watry plain,
By turns Maria watch’d the doubtful fight,
Or on the hour-glass fix’d her aching sight,
And saw, as flow’d the shallow sands away,
The jaws of ruin opening on their prey.
Now proud Albruno, mad that mortal knight
So long with him sustained a doubtful light,
Infuriate spoke: “Too long thy arts evade
The fate impending on thy guilty head!
What spells secure thy mail? what powerful charm
Eludes the vengeance of Albruno’s arm?
No mortal strength, unaided, could withstand
The deadly weight of this immortal hand!
Yet now receive thy due,” — and as he spoke,
Full at his head he aim’d the dreadful stroke,
The wary youth the threat’ning blow repell’d,
Which spent its fury on his lifted shield;
From his stunn’d arm the orb divided flew —
Maria, trembling, sicken’d at the view,
Sad on her ear the shouts of triumph fell,
As to the orphan sounds her parent’s knell,
She saw her last faint hopes of conquest fail,
Her love defenceless, lost the fatal Veil,
While Amiantha’s sympathizing heart
Her sorrows wept, and bore herself a part;
Then first did maiden wish, in battle field,
To see her love before his rival yield.
Meanwhile the dauntless youth collects his might,
By one decisive blow to end the fight,
To win or die; and while the king addrest
A mortal stroke at his defenceless breast,
He lurn’d the sword aside, and onward prest;
Then where thick plates of well-wrought brass unite
His ruby arms and sapphire cuirass bright,
He pierc’d Albruno’s chest — no more avail
His vaunted valour, or impassive mail,
Swift to his heart the burning blade was thrust,
The haughty monarch sunk upon the dust;
For tho’ immortal, yet of sense bereft,
His heart forgot to beat, his cheek the colour left.
Griev’d at the sad reverse, the astonish’d throng
In silence stood, when struck the mighty gong:
That solemn sound, which on Maria’s ear,
That morning fell, in anguish and despair,
Which seem’d the knell of happiness to toll,
Slave to a haughty tyrant’s loath’d controul,
Now told the setting sun, the finish’d fight,
The Veil redeem’d, and safe her victor knight.
With such sweet force the tide of rapture came,
Its sudden weight o’erwhelm’d her weary frame;
She sunk; but pleasure soon her eye relumed,
And her wan face a livelier hue assumed.
Albruno too revived — the languid tide
Again more briskly swell’d his veins, and dyed
His sallow cheek, but as he slowly rose,
A sullen shame his gloomy looks disclose.
“Come!” to the champions and the maid he cries,
With stifled anger, “take the Veil, your prize!
Retire, ye Gnomes; no sprite of Gnomian race
Shall view his monarch in this dire disgrace!”
They reach’d the fatal spot; the chains that bound
The crystal vase and emerald tripod round,
The gloomy monarch seiz’d — and as he broke,
Deep thunders roll’d, and all the fabric shook;
Earth felt the shock in her remotest cave,
Thro’ air, thro’ fire, and thro’ the sapphire wave
Each structure trembled; high the billows rear’d
Their foaming crests, the bold Hydidæ feared.
The yawning ground admits the unusual day,
And new volcanos burst their furious way,
The gathering clouds deform the azure heaven,
The mountains fall, by frequent lightning riven,
Their prayers and tears affrighted mortals pour’d,
And anxious Ariel knew the Veil restor’d!
He blest the sign, and from his throne on high,
Shot like a falling meteor thro’ the sky.
The king meanwhile, with sad yet haughty look,
To Henry gave the fatal Veil, and spoke:
“Fate crowns thy arms, proud mortal; I resign
The precious pledge that makes perfection thine;
Fool that I was, to risk the chance of arms,
My dear bought right, and those unequall’d charms!
Hence, daring warrior, to thy native land —
There boast the triumphs of a mortal hand,
By thee subdu’d, a chief the lord of flame,
And ocean’s king have vainly fought to tame!
For thee! sweet maid, no language can impart
The agony that rends Albruno’s heart.
Oh! that my will, reversing nature’s plan,
My life could shorten to a mortal span,
To him resign my wealth, my pomp, my power,
So thy bright smile might gild the transient hour!
Mayst thou be blest! yet hence thy joy remove,
Nor swell the tortures of despairing love.”
He ceas’d; impatient to restore the Veil,
At fair Maria’s feet her hero fell,
Before the magic glass unconscious kneels —
A wondrous truth the magic glass reveals!
Dropp’d from his youthful limbs his radiant arms,
A grace ethereal heigh ten’d all his charms;
Dyed in the rainbow’s hues, his wings unfold
Their forms pellucid, starr’d with living gold,
His roseate mantle flutter’d in the wind,
His locks of waving amber flow’d behind;
In heavenly beauty shines the Sylph confest,
And thus his lips the astonish’d maid addrest.
“Fear not, Maria! — Since by chance reveal’d
The truth from thee which yet I wish’d conceal’d;
A wondrous tale Aurelio shall declare,
And why constrain’d a human form to bear.
Not ours alone to float on painted wing,
And drink the fragrant incense of the spring;
Nor yet our sole employ to guide on high
The radiant orbs that gem the evening sky,
In vacant air the mimic suns to form,
Ride the bright sun-beam, or the rapid storm.
Our gentler ministry, with soft controul,
In virtue’s path directs the female soul;
Unseen, we whisper in the ear of youth,
The golden rules of honour, wisdom, truth —
Thus softly steals at eve the dewy shower,
tl The sunburnt fields reveal its balmy power
In many a glistening herb, and fragrant flower.
“Two lovely infants drew a kindred birth —
With me a Sylph descended to the earth;
In opening youth each shew’d a form divine,
His charge Elvira, Evelina mine.
Ceruleo long had striven, with fruitless art,
In virtue’s paths to lead his pupil’s heart,
For ever varying, her inconstant mind
Nor friendship fix’d, nor promises could bind;
With every charm that wins the heart to love,
A youth had woo’d the maid, nor vainly strove;
In evil hour a wealthier rival came,
He sought, he won — forgot her former flame —
The Sylph incens’d, withdrew his guardian power,
Nor shed his blessing on their nuptial hour.
“‘How long,’ he cried, ‘shall this capricious race
Our labour baffle, and our care disgrace?
Vainly we strive their wanderings to restrain,
The sex is all inconstant, false, and vain.’
“‘Oh pause,’ I cried; ‘though one thy bosom vex,
Waste not thy fury on the guiltless sex!
How many a female name, from age to age,
Has history blazon’d on her brightest page,
For virtues Sylphs can scarcely hope to gain,
And constancy we emulate in vain!’
“‘Fruitless my toil’ — the angry Sylph replied
In harsher terms, and storied truth denied,
He challeng’d me a mortal maid to shew,
Despising wealth and power, to love and merit true.
His word I took in Evelina’s name,
And pledg’d her to redeem her sex’s fame,
For she was all that claims our fondest care,
Like thee was virtuous, and almost as fair!
And should she fail, I vow’d no more to view
Yon starry regions of ethereal blue,
A mortal form to bear, till came the time,
When three fair nymphs, in youth and beauty’s prime,
Should scorn a monarch and despise his throne,
And death and fate defy, for love alone.
“I will not tell, to slow disease a prey,
How long I watch’d my pupil’s charms decay,
And as she lay upon her early bier,
In human semblance dropp’d the frequent tear;
For the stern Sylph, when Evelina died,
Still claim’d the proof her early fate denied:
How often hope revived her fading fire,
Which glow’d awhile, yet blaz’d but to expire;
As wandering in the gloom, a flash of light
Gives tenfold darkness to surrounding night.
At length I knew thee — could I fail to prove
The fondest transports of a mortal’s love,
With all that deeper tenderness refined,
That fits the nature of the ethereal mind?
But when I found thy love was sought in vain,
By him whose mandate awes this vast domain,
I hail’d with rapture pleasure’s dawning ray,
The happy prelude to her cloudless day.
The rest thou know’st — no longer fate denies,
I soar triumphant to my native skies.”
“And wilt thou leave me,” sigh’d the weeping fair,
“In this dark realm of anguish and despair?”
“Leave thee!” Aurelio cried, “bereft of thee,
The realms of light would boast no charms for me!
I call thee hence, a Sylph’s pure joys to share
In those bright fields of empyrean air.”
“Stay!” said the king, in whom Aurelio’s tale
Wak’d a faint hope again to claim the Veil,
“Dar’st thou, a Sylph, and hence my mortal foe,
Thus venture thro’ the hostile realms below,
E’en in my presence dare to own the offence,
And hope to pass unmark’d, unpunish’d hence?
Ho! seize him guards!” — he stampt upon the ground:
The ready vassals enter’d at the sound,
While his brave comrades hasten’d to defend
The weeping damsel and their injur’d friend;
When o’er their heads a dreadful crash was heard,
A sudden fissure in the dome appear’d,
The blazing lamps grew dim, an azure ray
Shot thro’ the dreary realm unwonted day,
While down the steep descent, with rapid flight,
His Sylphs great Ariel bore, enthron’d in light;
And at his side was seen a lovely maid,
Bright Amiantha, as a bride array’d.
“Is this a monarch’s faith? these abject chains,”
He cried, “are these the meed a victor gains?
Here at thy call he came, a mortal knight,
With thee to prove the equal chance of fight.
With mortal strength thy mightier arm he dar’d,
And as a mortal claims his due reward;
Claims for himself, these knights, and damsel fair,
Free passage to the realms of light and air.
What frenzy rules thee? why does passion blind
The light of reason in thy noble mind?
Has not experience taught thy soul to know
From purer sources purer pleasures flow?
Shake off thy bonds; or since a monarch’s throne
Wants half its lustre while he rules alone,
This maid behold! — nor can these regions find
A nymph more fair in person or in mind;
How long with smother’d fires she vainly lov’d
I need not say, this every act has prov’d!
And many a Gnome remembers yet the days
Thine ear was pleas’d with Amiantha’s praise.
And more, thy life preserv’d from Pyros’ hand,
Who stretch’d her dying brother on the sand,
Claims this just tribute from a generous chief.
And calls on thee to sooth a sister’s grief.”
He ceas’d; with downcast eyes the monarch stands.
Nor moves, nor speaks, in anguish clasp’d his hands;
At length remorse and reason vanquish’d pride,
And he with new affection hail’d his bride.
“I yield — forgive my errors past,” he said,
“Ye valiant knights, and each afflicted maid;
Oh! here may all Maria’s sufferings close!
Be this the last of Amiantha’s woes!
For me! the memory of this painful hour
Shall curb my passions, quench the thirst of power,
And teach henceforth my sterner soul to find
A gentle guide in Amiantha’s mind;
Between the Gnomes and Sylphs might discord cease,
And mighty Ariel’s voice confirm the peace.”
“’Tis done,” the Sylph replied: “the Veil restor’d,
I wage no war with earth’s imperial lord;
Peace in our realms shall rest, and stretch her chain
O’er fire’s bright regions, and the azure main.
I lit the torch of war, the furious fire
I fan no longer, and the flames expire!”
The monarch spoke, and call’d Maria fair,
With each brave knight, to mount the radiant chair;
The Sylphs ascending cleave the heavy air.
Now to Albruno’s hall his subjects prest
In happy crowds to grace his nuptial feast.
Again by Chrysos rul’d, in paths of truth,
O’er his glad people reign’d the immortal youth;
And still, with gentle though unseen controul,
Mild Amiantha curb’d his fiery soul,
And oft the grateful Gnomes, in loud acclaim,
Join’d peace and love with Amiantha’s name.
Meanwhile, where Albion’s fertile vales extend,
Their chosen brides the three brave youths attend,
The friendly Gnomes a sumptuous palace rais’d,
Each marble hall with gems unnumber’d blaz’d;
The sportive sisters of the deep, around
The stately columns wreaths of coral bound,
And all the shining treasures of the wave
To frame a grot of ample size they gave.
Innumerous seeds, the spoils of distant lands,
The Sylphids scatter’d from their airy hands,
The fiery spirits gently warm the earth,
And push each gay exotic into birth;
There, breathing fragrance, the Magnolias vied
“In snow-white innocence and purple pride;”
While drest in roseate buds and leaves of green,
The Kalmia rivals her delightful queen;
Proud of her form, in classic grace array’d,
Tall Agapantha rears her purple head,147
In varying dyes each gay Protea springs,
And Passiflora spreads her scarlet wings;
O’er all superior, tall Agave tow’rs,
And the bright Aloe glows with crimson flowers.
The Sylphids caught, and rang’d in lines of light,
The stars that shoot athwart the gloom of night.
To sight reveal’d, in various forms they move,
One Hymen seems, and one the God of Love,
High in their hands their flaming torches bear,
And crown with roseate wreaths each happy pair.
Great Ariel now appeared — his gentle look
Glanced on each lovely maid, as thus he spoke:
Hail! blooming nymphs, whose constancy restor’d
My lov’d Aurelio to his happy lord.
Your woes — a Sylph from human bondage freed —
Claim from his grateful king an ample meed,
For thee, Maria! now his chosen bride,
Nor less in virtue to our race allied:
Ne’er shall thy lips resign the vital breath,
Thy roses fade, or close thine eyes in death.
Not like Tithonus, doom’d to bear the strife
Of mortal weakness with immortal life,
Each circling year to that fair form and face
Shall add fresh lustre, more ethereal grace,
Till thy pure spirit shall spontaneous rise,
And seek its destin’d station in the skies;
As Alighieri, with his heavenly love,
Soar’d to yon round of silver light above,
A partner in thy joys, thy hopes, thy cares,
Till then his human form Aurelio wears.
“Miranda, Leonora, lovely pair!
And ye, brave knights, their mortal lot who share,
Yours be each joy that cheers the child of earth,
A blooming race shall deck your social hearth;
And when, as all of human lineage must,
Your breath expires, and dust returns to dust,
No widow’s eye shall weep her spouse’s doom;
One be your dying hour, and one your tomb.
Your spirits rising in a train of light,
Shall with new splendours grace yon vaulted height.148
In that vast space, ’twixt Jove’s imperial sphere
And fiery Mars, four smaller orbs appear,
Yours be the task to rule their course on high,
And guide the kindred worlds along the sky.
Join’d in your fates below, and joined above
In mystic intercourse of holy love,
To circle yon pure source of day, and bound
In one bright sphere your planetary round.”
He spoke. No words their gratitude express’d,
But Ariel read it in each joyful breast.
End of the Poem
Carinthia, a duchy of Austria, formerly celebrated for its mines of gold and silver, &c. ↩
From the commencement of English history, there is no prince, except Alfred, on whose character and exploits the memory dwells with so much fondness, as on those of the sable Edward. The valour and prudence which won the battles of Crecy and Poictiers, two of the most celebrated in our annals, lose their praise in admiration of the moderation and humanity of the youthful hero, even in the moment of victory. ↩
“Edward ordered a repast to be prepared in his tent for the prisoner, (King John,) and lie himself served at the royal captive’s table, as if he had been one of his retinue. He stood at the King’s back during the meal, constantly refused to take a place at table, and declared that, being a subject, he was too well acquainted with the distance between his own rank and that of majesty to assume such freedom. All his father’s pretensions to the crown of France were now buried in oblivion: John, in captivity, received the honours of a king, which were refused him when seated ou the throne: his misfortunes not his title were respected.” — Hume. ↩
Spenser’s Faery Queene, Book III. Canto IV. ↩
A variety of metallic preparations have been used by the ladies of different countries for this purpose, particularly the oxyds of bismuth and antimony. Among the Medes it was not confined to the fair sex; at least Xenophon, in his Cyroptedia, describes Astyages as having his eyes painted. The custom still prevails in the Levant. ↩
The geranium pratense, or blue geranium, which grows in meadows, and by the banks of streams; a very beautiful and elegant plant. ↩
The myosotis, or scorpion grass, is a beautiful plant which grows abundantly by the side of running waters. It has a small blue flower, with agolden eye in the centre, and is a great favourite with the Germans, who call it “Forget me not.” These flowers, or their enamelled resemblance, are frequently interchanged as tokens of regard. The “Forget me not” of the Germans is by some believed to be the veronica chamaedrys, which is also a beautiful blue flower. ↩
If a plant be taken out of the ground and inverted, its parts also invert their functions. What was formerly the root becomes green, and leaves and flowers shoot out in the place of fibres. The inverted stem on the contrary grows rigid, and soon assumes the appearance and the functions of the root. — Lectures delivered at the Royal Institution, by Dr. now Sir James Edward Smith. ↩
The principal, if not the only food of plants, appears to be water, from which, when exposed to the action of the solar light, all their various secretions are produced. The beautiful green of the leaves, the vivid tints of the flower, their fragrance, the flavour of the fruit, with their endless variety in the different species, all seem to be derived from one source; and plants, whose properties and secretions are the most different, grow in equal luxuriance side by side. — Smith’s Lectures. ↩
The tetradynamia, or plants with cruciform flowers, are all, when boiled, wholesome and nutritious. There is also a more extended criterion. The fruits of flowers having the stamina inserted into the calyx may be eaten with safety, and are generally agreeable, but flowers having the stamina inserted into the receptacle are always to be suspected. — Smith’s Lectures. ↩
If the bulb of the tulip be opened, the rudiments of the future leaves and even the embryo of the flower may be seen. — Smith’s Lectures. ↩
The decay of our apples has excited much apprehension. Some of the finest kinds are nearly extinct, and others have evidently degenerated. Many attempts have been made to supply this loss by grafting favourite apples upon young stocks, but in vain. This has proved to be only the extension of an individual, not the production of a new one, and as the parent tree decayed, the grafts decayed also. To prevent the loss of so valuable a fruit, Mr. Knight sowed a quantity of the seeds of our best apples, in hope that, although a great majority would be merely crabs, out of many thousands he might procure a few valuable apples. His efforts have not been unsuccessful, and many of the new varieties promise to vie, in size and flavour, with the finest of the old ones. — Smith’s Lectures. ↩
This passage is intended as a slight description of the phenomenon called the Bore or Agar, occasioned by the sudden influx of the tide into a river. Those rivers which have a wide embouchure, that becomes suddenly contracted, are most subject to it. The tide rushing up the stream, drives back the descending water, and the vessels upon it find themselves instantly raised many feet above their former level. In England the Severn is particularly subject to the Bore; but it is most remarkable in the Indian rivers, the principal branches of the Ganges, the Megna, and the Hoogly. ↩
See “The Flower and the Leaf.” ↩
Cordova, or Corduba as it was anciently called, was founded by the Romans. It was afterwards in possession of the Goths, and then of the Moors, who were expelled in 1236 by Ferdinand the Third, who first united the crowns of Castille and Leon. From this time Cordova, hitherto the seat of learning, declined, and that star, which had shone amidst darkness and barbarism, sunk ere the dawn returned to Europe. ↩
Granada was early in the possession of the Moors, but the kingdom was dissolved in 1221. In 1236, fresh bands pouring over from Africa, Granada became the seat of opulence and splendour, and the Moorish capital of Spain. In speaking of Granada, historians and geographers become poetical, and describe in glowing terms its fertile valley, bounded by mountains, and watered by the Genil and the Guadalquivir; its hills covered with groves of orange, of mulberry, and of olive; the magnificence of its palaces, and the splendour of its court, where the manners of chivalry received a peculiar colouring from the luxury of Africa. At the time mentioned in the poem, the sceptre of Granada was held by Jusef Hacen Hamet, the seventh king of Granada. Those who are fond of romantic history will be gratified by the translation of the Civil Wars of Granada, by Mr. Rodd. ↩
This is an anachronism. The apartment here alluded to was not added to the Alhambra till the reign of Muley Hascem, the father of Boabdelin, who lost his crown to Ferdinand and Isabella. The walls had the appearance of gold, and are supposed to have been a composition of the yolks of eggs, Muley Hascem also built the celebrated court of Lions. ↩
The Sierra Nevada, or snowy mountain. ↩
This was a martial game, in which the young nobles fought in squadrons, and canes supplied the place of lances. Tilting was usually performed with canes, but at the tournament lances were used. ↩
It was the custom for the Moorish or Spanish youth to denote their affection by wearing the favourite colours of their ladies. The language of flowers is still so well understood by the ladies of Spain, that it might be dangerous for the uninitiated to present a nosegay. ↩
Alfonzo XI obtained a signal victory over the Moors in 1340, at which time Alziras was taken, and the kingdom of Granada made tributary. He was killed in the siege of Gibraltar, which he had lost before, and succeeded by his son, Peter the Cruel. — Puffendorf. ↩
“Là, j’entendois rouler sous mes pieds un torrent qui se frayoit, à travers les glaces et les neiges, une route invisible, dont il ne sortoit que cinquante toises plus bas, pour se précipiter du haut d’un escarpement de rocliers, dans le grand vallon de neige. La position pouvoit devenir dangereuse, à la longue; je la quittai bientôt.” — Ramond’s Observations faites dans les Pyrenees. ↩
See Spenser and Ariosto. ↩
These lines allude to the law of definite proportions, as started by Mr. Dalton, and farther developed by Professor Davy, and also to the rules of crystallization as lately defined. The French chemists have asserted that bodies do not combine in fixed proportions, but in proportion to their relative quantities; for instance, that carbonate of lime would, according to the relative quantities of its elements at its formation, contain a greater or less proportion of carbonic acid, or of lime. But the experiments of Davy and others appear completely to disprove this assertion, and establish Mr. Dalton’s theory. Carbonate of lime is uniformly found to consist of 44 parts of carbonic acid and 56 of lime. Nor does a body capriciously combine in different proportions with different substances. Whatever may be the definite proportion of the body with which it enters into combination, its own remains the same; or should it be augmented, the portion added is always either a multiple or a divisor of the original quantity. Thus oxygen, in all its various unions, with hydrogen, with nitrogen, or with the metals, preserves its fixed proportion of 15 parts by weight, and where more is added, the extra portion is always equal either to 7½ or to 15. Thus nitrous oxyde consists of one proportion or 26 grains of nitrogen united to one proportion, or 15 grains of oxygen, making together 41, which is the proportion in which nitrous oxyde again combines with other bodies to make a tertiary compound. Nitric oxyde consists of 26 grains of nitrogen, united to two proportions, or 30 grains of oxygen, making together 56. Nitrous acid consists of 26 grains of nitrogen, united with four proportions, or 60 grains of oxygen, making together 86. And nitric acid consists of 26 grains of nitrogen united with five proportions, or 75 grains of oxygen, making together 101. Thus in all these combinations the same law is observed.
Nor are the laws of crystallization less denned. A body unexamined may be known by the form of its crystals, and even where the general shape, as in different rhomboids, appears the same, the angles are found to differ. Thus in calcareous spar, from whatever quarter procured, however small or however large the crystals, whether whole, as taken from the mine, or broke: into a number of smaller ones, the form procured is always the rhomboic and that rhomboid has always the same angle, 105 degrees. Other bodies have a rhomboidal crystal, but no other rhomboid has the same angle. — Davy and Brande’s Lectures. ↩
Gold was in all probability the first metal discovered, as it is much more frequently found native than any of the others, and if so, the age of gold, the age of silver, &c. have probably derived their names not so much from any supposed alteration in the state or character of man, as from the discovery of the metals whose name they bear. Davy’s Lectures. ↩
Brass is an artificial metal, formed by the union of copper and zinc, which is an operation of some nicety; for if the fire, that is necessary to unite them, be too long continued, the zinc flies off, and leaves the copper again pure. This is attempted to be allegorically expressed in the poem. ↩
Copper is more frequently found united with sulphur than with any other substance. ↩
The six primitive rocks; granite, porphyry, marble, serpentine, schist, and sienite. ↩
The word Γεϱανιτς, geranites, granite, has sometimes been derived from Γεϱανος, geranos, a crane, as its colours are supposed to resemble those of the stork’s neck; but its name is more commonly supposed to have originated in its granular structure. ↩
Porphyry is usually found in smaller blocks than granite, and porphyrytic mountains do not attain so great a height. ↩
Pure primitive marble is distinguished by its sparkling, or sparry fracture, and unblemished whiteness. ↩
The various and beautiful tints frequently observed in ophites, or serpentine, are owing to the admixture of steatite, or soap rock. ↩
Schist is said to derive its name from its bright and shining appearance. Sienite, not differing greally in its composition from granite, is frequently of a dull crimson. ↩
The ores of copper are remarkable for the variety and brilliancy of their hues. ↩
Stypterion, from Στυπτηρια, alumine or clay, pure argillaceous earth, one of the most indestructible substances in nature, and parent of all the gems known by the name of oriental, and included in the barbarous term Corundum: the oriental topaz, emerald, and sapphire, &c. &c.
Nothing can be more different than the characters which alumine imparts to the gems and to the earths; in the first, hard, brittle, brilliant, and pellucid; in the second, opaque, devoid of lustre, and exhibiting, when broken, an earthy fracture. The argillaceous earths are soft to the touch, but harden by fire, absorb water greedily, retain it obstinately, and form, when moistened, a ductile and tenacious mass. When exposed to the action of heat they become, first of a bluish black, then white; they contract and exhibit variou? cracks and fissures, but fire has no farther action upon them, except in increasing the contraction. On this account pyrometers have been constructed of clay, with the hope of being able to measure very high degrees of temperature; but they are uncertain, as the clay does not contract uniformly in the same heat, and is almost as much affected by the duration, as the increase of temperature. ↩
Titanos, chalk. There is a general similarity in the appearance of all the calcareous stones. They are usually nearly white, opaque, and devoid of lustre, and are not sufficiently hard to scratch glass. ↩
Silex is one of the hardest substances in nature, and the bodies in which it abounds are abundantly diffused. It enters into the composition of the primitive rocks> but is not generally soluble in water, though the Geysers of Iceland, and some springs near Bath, prove that peculiar circumstances may render it so. Siliceous stones are more or less transparent,,nave a fine polish, and scratch glass. To this order belong all those gems which the lapidaries distinguish by the term occidental, in opposition to the oriental, or aluminous gems: also the carnelian, sardonyx, agate, opal, mocha, jasper, chalcedony, garnet, &c. &c. ↩
Adamas, the diamond, which, though usually placed at the head of the gems, is very different in its composition. No bodies can differ more in external appearance, than charcoal, plumbago or black lead, and the diamond, yet their chemical analysis affords similar results. The diamond burns, like plumbago and charcoal, into pure carbonic acid, and the difference in their aspect probably arises, either from a slight excess or deficiency in the oxygen combined with the carbon, or perhaps only from the different form and arrangement of the particles in crystallization. In coal mines, the stratum of coal is occasionally seen passing, by sensible gradations, into plumbago. Some have supposed plumbago to be charcoal united with iron. Charcoal and plumbago are excellent conductors of electricity, but the diamond is a perfect non-conductor, which strengthens the idea that it contains a portion of oxygen combined with its carbonaceous basis, as this gas, however small in quantity, always destroys conducting power in the body with which it is combined. ↩
The magnesian stones have almost all a green colour, and a shining, or silky appearance. They are soft and may be cut with a knife, and are seldom more than semi-transparent. They do not contract or harden on exposure to heat. ↩
Barytes and strontia have not long been added to the catalogue of earths, and the stones in which they are predominant are not numerous. The barytic stones are particularly distinguished for their weight, which long before the discovery of the metal barium, by Professor Davy, gave rise to the suspicion that they must contain a metallic basis. They have a spongy appearance; when exposed to heat they emit a phosphorescent light, and they may be scratched with a knife.
The colour of strontia is generally whitish or light green. Its surface is a little shining in parts, it is brittle, has a slight transparency, and may be scratched with a knife. ↩
The earth called ittria is only found in gadolinite; zircon only in the stone which bears its name, and in the hyacinth; glucine is found in the beryl, in the Peruvian emerald, or smaragd, and in the euclase.
It is to be wished, that it were practicable to avoid the mixture of the barbarous nomenclature of modern mineralogy with the more sonorous names of the Greek. ↩
The amianthus is more flexible than the asbestos. The ancients possessed the art of weaving its fibres into a kind of cloth which, when cleansed by fire, was of a dazzling whiteness, and, from its incombustibility, was purchased, in the days of Roman luxury, at an exorbitant price, to wrap the bodies of persons of superior rank on the funeral pyre. Their ashes were thus prevented from mingling with those of the wood. The art of weaving amianthine cloth is now lost, or at least neglected. The Tarantaise amianthus is most celebrated; but it is found in many countries: in Cornwall and Anglesea; in the islands of Corsica and Elba; in Saxony and in Sweden, &c. &c. &c. ↩
See Ariosto. ↩
Nitre detonates with a slight heat. ↩
No artificial heat has hitherto been sufficient to fuse charcoal, but under the action of the immense Voltaic apparatus at the Royal Institution, directed by Professor Davy, it became much hardened, and a small portion assumed the gaseous form. Were it possible to fuse charcoal, it is probable that, by the addition of a minute portion of oxygen, and suffering it to cool very slowly, artificial diamonds might be formed. ↩
The oriental amethyst is a variety of corundum, differing only in colour from the oriental sapphire, topaz, and ruby. When exposed to heat it loses its colour, and is of such dazzling brilliancy as to be frequently mistaken for the diamond. The occidental or common amethyst is merely quartz, tinged naturally of a deep violet hue, by iron or manganese. It likewise loses its colour in the fire, but at the same time is deprived of its lustre, becomes opaque, and of a milky white, owing to an infinity of small cracks which are discoverable by the microscope. It is chiefly found in the neighbourhood of Carthagena in Spain. The Greeks and Arabians wore the amethyst as an amulet to prevent drunkenness, whence its name ἅμεθυστος. ↩
Advantage is here taken of the flexibility of the asbestos to give a little variety to the costume. ↩
The pumices of the island of Santorine and others appear from analysis to have originated in the combustion of asbestos, and the refractory nature of that mineral proves the great potency of the volcanic fire which has produced them. ↩
Πυραφλεκτος, pyraphlectos, burning, but not consumed by fire. ↩
The zinc, which gives to brass its yellow colour, flies off at a much lower temperature than the copper. ↩
When acted upon by fire, iron, cobalt, nickel, tellurium, and most of the metals, fly off in sparks, but zinc burns with a beautiful green flame, and its gaseous oxyde rises in clouds of white smoke. ↩
The aventurine is a beautiful stone, consisting of brown, green, or red quartz or felspar, interspersed with small laminae of mica, which give it a spangled appearance: it is very brittle. It comes from France and from Siberia. ↩
The diamond, when exposed to the action of fire, burns (as already stated) into pure carbonic acid. This gas possesses the property of extinguishing flame, and is equally destructive to the slow combustion of animal respiration. It is heavier than common air, in the proportion of 47 to 31, and this density in some degree opposes the tendency of gaseous bodies to universal diffusion, so that an accumulation of carbonic acid gas is frequently found near the floors of caverns, (as in the celebrated Grotto del Cane, at Naples,) at the bottom of deep wells, and of large beer vats; also in mines, where it passes by the name of the Choak Damp, and is often productive of the most fatal effects, as persons who inhale this poisonous air have no power to withdraw themselves from its influence, but fall instantly senseless, and those who hasten to their assistance arrive but to share their fate. In descending to such places, it is always prudent first to lower a candle, as a test of the atmosphere, as wherever that will burn, man may breathe. ↩
The fixed alcalies, potash and soda, were known to the chemists of Bagdad as early as the reign of the Caliph Haroun Alraschid, and the word alcali is of Arabian origin. The alcalies are possessed of the highest degree of negative electricity. As oxygen, even in minute quantities, destroys conducting power, and as the alcalies are perfect non-conductors, it was supposed that they consisted of oxygen united with a basis, but of what nature was unknown, since they successfully resisted every effort that was made to decompose them, and had hence obtained the name of fixed alcalies. Professor Davy happily thought of applying to them the energies of voltaic electricity, and triumphing by his ingenuity over the difficulties presented by their want of conducting power, he obtained the most glorious and unexpected results in the discovery of their metallic bases, which he denominated sodium and potassium. The discovery of the alcaline metals quickly led to that of four others, which he named from their parent earths, calcium, magnium, barium, and strontium. These metals have all a high metallic lustre, but on exposure to the air they immediately begin to tarnish, in a few minutes they are covered with a white crust, and by combining with the oxygen in the atmosphere return to their original earth or alcali. When thrown into water, the avidity with which they enter into combination with oxygen is so great that they take fire and burn in the fluid. Potassium alone, which is lighter than water in the proportion of six to ten, floats and burns on the surface. From this eagerness of combination in these metals, and from their lightness, it is necessary to keep them in naphtha, the lightest fluid known. Silex, alumine, zircon, and glucine, have, like the other earths, given indications of metallic bases, but as these have not been obtained pure, Professor Davy does not think himself authorized to call them metals.
In addition to the six metals that owe their birth to Professor Davy, M. Berzelius, the Swedish chemist, has obtained a seventh more unlooked for than any, in the metallic basis of ammonia, the volatile alcali. If a few drops of solution of ammonia be poured on a large globule of mercury, or if the mercury be placed in a cup of carbonate or muriate of ammonia, it immediately expands to six times its former bulk, and is converted into a soft solid, which is an amalgam of ammonium. As yet this metal has not been obtained pure, and its proportion in the amalgam is so small, that the least contact with the air is sufficient to regenerate the ammonia.
The metallization of ammonia has opened new views in chemistry, and appears to prove that neither the gases nor the metals are simple substances. Ammonia consists of hydrogen and nitrogen; these gases therefore are capable of becoming metallic, and as in so doing they must suffer decomposition, they cannot be simple substances, neither can the metal which is formed by their union. Hydrogen, which, from its extreme levity, has been assumed as unity in the scale of definite proportions, is probably simple, while nitrogen, which bears the higher number of 26, must be supposed a compound.
Professor Davy thinks there is probably one basis for all the metals, and one for the gases. Some time since he said that he thought he had found a path which would lead to the discovery. It is much to be wished he would pursue it. ↩
If a drop of water be thrown into a crucible containing melted lead or tin, the metal is immediately thrown out with great violence to a distance, of many feet. This is peculiar to these two metals. ↩
The Peruvians are said to have imitated in gold the productions of their soil, and to have formed artificial gardens with trees and flowers of gold, fields of maize, and granaries filled with grains of this metal. ↩
Vide the Spectator, No. 379. ↩
Vide Pope’s Rape of the Lock. ↩
Vide Serjent’s “Mine.” ↩
These lines allude to a superstition of the Arabs respecting the carbuncle, which is fully detailed in a note on Thalaba. ↩
The story of Cambuscan, the brazen steed, the virtuous sabre, ring, and glass, as begun by Chaucer, are well known; but this passage alludes more particularly to its continuation and conclusion by Mr. Wharton.
Cambuscan, released, by the assistance of the falcon, from his aerial pilgrimage, having by these enchanted gifts discovered the treachery of Acban and Erbol, and conquered the invading array commanded by Aulum, the sovereign of Ophir, becomes touched by religious scruples respecting the use of magic, and resolves not to be indebted to it for his future safety or glory. He therefore vows, as soon as the nuptials of Algarsife and Theodora, of Ca- nace and Al Kabal, (the gentle heir of Ophir’s throne,) and of Cambal with Zelica, (formerly the falcon,) have been solemnized, that he will bestride, for the last time, the brazen steed, and ascend the highest summit of Caucasus, there to leave, beyond the reach of mortal hands, the sabre, glass, and ring. Hence Albruno redeemed the glass. ↩
Lambent flames on the surface often indicate metallic veins, particu- larly of gold, even at a considerable depth. They are supposed to arise from the evolution of hydrogen, or other inflammable gases, in consequence of the decomposition of the ore. Saussure and others mention this phenomenon. ↩
This peculiar character is the property of a species of leaden ore, with a smooth and shining face. The slightest scratch on the surface spreads gradually through the mass, and, after some hours, it bursts with a violent explosion, and its fragments are dispersed in all directions. In one of our mines in Derbyshire, the ore is of this description. The miners scratch it slightly, in various directions, and then leave the mine, and await the explosion, which, perhaps, does not take place till two days after, and usually makes a great chasm. ↩
See “The Three Sisters,” a tale, translated from the German. Bertha, the third daughter of the Baron,is the wife of Ufo; who, for six months, is enchanted in the form of an immense dolphin, violent and implacable, and retaining no vestige of humanity but his speech. During this time, his only amusement is in swimming round a little island, on which is built a small habitation of the clearest crystal, where his lady resides, and boils her solitary cup of coffee. The seventh month, however, restores the enchanted Ufo to his shape; he becomes a gay and powerful prince, a kind complacent husband. The lake spreads, the isle expands, Bertha’s ceil grows a splendid palace; the trout and other fishes jump out of the water, and become courtiers, and all is splendour and hilarity till the expiration of the month again condemns them to the waves. One pleasant circumstance attending this mode of life is, that Bertha, though married one-and-twenty years, and not undergoing any transformation, has, in that time, like her husband, grown only three years older. ↩
Darwin has given a description of the salt mines at Cracow, in Poland: but our own at Northwich, near Chester, though, perhaps, not so beautiful, appear to be of greater importance, and their produce of finer quality, as it is exported even to the neighbourhood of Cracow. Mr. Holland has published a long and very interesting account of the rock-salt of Cheshire, in the first volume of the Geological Transactions. The salt is confined to the southern or central part of the Cheshire plain, and chiefly to the valley of the Weaver and its tributary streams, and is generally indicated by salt springs. At Lawton there are three beds, separated by strata of indurated clay. The first bed, at the depth of 42 yards, four feet thick; a second, 10 yards lower, 12 feet; a third, 15 yards lower, has been sunk into 24 yards, but its depth has not been ascertained. In every part of the rock are found separate crystalline concretions of muriate of soda, sometimes cubical, and sometimes in large irregular masses, usually of a greyish or milk-white colour; and possessing greater or less transparency: the salt no where appears stratified. The great body of the rock presents only a confused red mass, varied here and there by the crystalline portions. No marine exuviæ, or organic remains, or impressions, are found either in the salt, or in the argillaceous strata. In some parts where pillars, six or eight yards square, form the supports of the mine, the effect, when lighted up, is so splendid as to realize the magic palaces of Arabian fiction. Eleven or twelve mines are now worked, and from 50,000 to 60,000 tons raised annually. The greatest part is exported to Ireland, the Baltic, and Prussia; the remainder is manufactured in Cheshire.
There are many other salt mines, in Spain and Portugal, in Transylvania, and in Austria, and also in Africa. The mountains and beds of salt, between Tripoli and the Pillars of Hercules, have been noticed by Herodotus, but they are not so regularly situated as he has described. He also mentions, that the inhabitants built their houses of salt, a custom they still retain. “It never rains,” he observes, “otherwise such structures could not be durable.” A sudden shower would in that country injure the houses of the inhabitants more than the wear and tear of many years. This salt, like that of Portugal, is usually of a purple colour, but that which is washed down by the dews from the mountains becomes white when it crystallizes, and loses the bitterness which usually characterizes fossil salt.
Mr. Bruce speaks of salt as very abundant in Abyssinia; mines are worked near Azab and at Dancali. The salt, cut into solid bricks of eight or ten inches long, supplies the place of our small money. A very portable currency! perhaps rather more so than the iron money of Lycurgus. ↩
Even a slight attempt to discuss the long contested theory of the formation of basaltic pillars, would far exceed the compass of a note. Perhaps both the Neptunists and Plutonists might spare their labours and renounce their alternate triumphs. The most commonly received opinion is, that the basalt, rolled in a semifluid stream from the mouth of a volcano, and coming in contact with the sea, contracts in its sudden refrigeration into the prismatic form: but unfortunately, prismatic basalt is found in many parts of the world, and even in our own island, in situations where there appear not the slightest traces of volcanic fire, and again where it would be as difficult to account for the presence of water at its formation. But perhaps these columns, though similar in appearance, may not always be alike in origin: and fire and water, separately, or in conjunction, may equally have been concerned in their production. The basalt, rendered fluid either by the agency of water or volcanic fire, and suffered slowly either to evaporate or to cool, would, by the laws of crystallization, naturally assume a regular form, and the perfection of the columns would depend on the length of time allowed in their formation.
Saussure, in his Travels in the Alps, speaks of many sandstone rocks having a tendency to split into rhomboids. In the “Passage du Bon Homme,” he says:
“Vers le bas de la descente on trouve des châlets que je m’étonnai de voir construits en pierres de taille, d’une forme très régulière; je demandai la raison de cette recherche, peu commune dans les montagnes, et j’appris que c’étoit la nature qui avoit fait tous les frais de cette taille. Effectivement, je trouvai un peu plus bas une profonde ravine, creusée par les eaux dans des couches d’un beau grès, qui se divise de lui-même, et que Ton voit dans sa position originelle, actuellement divisé en grands parallélépipèdes rectangles.”
Is not this the effect of crystallization? and may it not throw some light on the formation of basaltic columns? for no one would think of referring the production of sandstone to volcanic fires. ↩
Volcanic eruptions are known to be connected with the flowing of water into subterranean caverns, and therefore probably owe their origin to the contention of fire and water, and the expansive force of steam. This conjecture appears to derive strength from the Geysers, or boiling fountains of Iceland, which throw up immense columns of steam to the height of 100 feet, with such force as to sustain bodies of considerable weight, and which undoubtedly arise from an immense reservoir of water continually boiling beneath that wonderful island; that strange mixture of frost and flame, where the inhabitants of the pole and of the equator might find their accustomed temperatures without losing sight of each other. The Geysers, with the ex- ception of some springs near Bath, are the only known waters which contain silcx in solution. Sir George Mackenzie, in the account of his Travels in Iceland, has given a very interesting description of these intermittent fountains of steam, and a probable theory of their origin.
Professor, now Sir H. Davy, has imagined volcanic eruptions to arise from the metals of the earth, which existing in a pure state, beyond the contact of air and oxygen, are suddenly inflamed at the influx of water. The conflagration thus kindled might afterwards be extended and supported by other substances. ↩
Animals are usually observed to anticipate thunder and other such phenomena. It is probable that they are warned by some peculiarity in the atmosphere, or by some sign that escapes the notice of man. ↩
The famous throne of Hlidskialfa is in the palace, not of Valhalla, but of Valaskialf. This throne was so situated, that any one sitting upon it might behold all the regions of the world. It properly belonged to Odin and Frigga. — Cottle’s Edda. ↩
Sir John Pringle has imagined meteors to be a sort of minor planets rolling through various systems, and kindling on their entrance into our atmosphere. During their inflammation, they throw off those bodies called meteoric stones. That these bodies actually fall from the clouds appears now scarcely to admit a doubt, both from their peculiar composition, and the number of evidences that attest the fact. Meteoric stones have been frequently found hot, immediately after the passage of a meteor. Their elements invariably consist of iron, silex, magnesia, and nickel. The three latter ingredients are sometimes in such small quantities, as to leave the iron almost pure, and constituting what is called native iron. This iron is very different from that procured from the ore, which seems to arise from the mixture of nickel: it is harder, takes a fine polish, resists tarnishing, and is always magnetic. There is a large mass of this iron in Siberia, weighing 650 pounds; in Peru there is another of the enormous weight of 15 tons, and there is one similar at the Cape.
Professor Davy has imagined, that meteors, whether planets or otherwise, may have consisted originally of the pure metals of silex and magnesia, united with iron and nickel. The two former would necessarily ignite on meeting with the oxygen of our atmosphere, and the meteors passing off to other systems, leave a part of their substance as a compensation for the weight of oxygen acquired. ↩
The inhabitants of the sea are usually depicted by poets as far exceeding in wealth and splendour the denizens of earth.
Water is a very bad conductor of heat, whence the beams of the sun must play upon its surface long before their influence penetrates to the interior; and, from its peculiar law of density, it must be equally long before the influence of cold can be severely felt at any great depth. The bottom of the sea must therefore be much more equal in its temperature than the surface of the earth. Its temperature is probably nearly as low as 42° of Fahrenheit, that at which water acquires its greatest density. The specific gravity of all other bodies, fluid or solid, increases in regular progression with the abstraction of heat, but water, which contracts in bulk down to 42°, afterwards again expands, and is, at 32°, the point of congelation, specifically lighter. A cold breeze blowing over the ocean soon cools the upper stratum of water to 42°, and renders it heavier than those below. It sinks, and another warmer and lighter usurps its place; this becoming cool, in its turn again descends, and the process continues till the whole body of water becomes cooled to 42°, and congelation commences at the surface. From this peculiar law, that no part of a body of water can freeze until the whole mass be cooled down to 42°, many tracts of ocean, that would otherwise be impassable half the year, are hardly ever frozen, and the congealed surface itself serves as a protection to the interior.
Many of the smaller tribes of marine animals are luminous in the night, and their light may be useful at depths which the sun’s rays hardly penetrate. ↩
The walrus, a large sea animal, by some called the sea-cow, by others the old man of the sea, on account of its white or hoary appearance. Its hind legs are united together like those of the seal, and one species is supposed to have been the poetical dolphin of the ancients. The walrus has two tusks, which are reckoned the finest ivory in the world, much superior to that of the elephant. — Dr. Smith’s Lectures. ↩
The shells of the chama gigas, farther mentioned in a note on the next book, would have made no contemptible shield, even for the gigantic Ajax. ↩
The horns of the xiphias, or sword-fish, are exceedingly beautiful, and so strong that they often do great injury to vessels by piercing their sides. ↩
Sir Gawaine's name is familiar to all the lovers of romance. He was the nephew of King Arthur, and the model of courtesy and eloquence to all the knights of the Round Table. He still lives in fairy-land, and perhaps his instructions in the art of politeness may have taught the fairies not to molest poor wayworn travellers so frequently of late, as when every son of song beheld their midnight revels, and every unwary wanderer was in danger of suffering from their pranks. The existence of these playful spirits is so dear to the imagination, that one can hardly bear to part with them, and during a moonlight ramble, it is difficult not to hope, and almost to fancy, their presence. ↩
The magic girdle of Fiorimel must be well remembered by all the readers of Spenser. ↩
Unlike the dangers of Charybdis, those of the Maelstrom are said to have increased very much of late years. ↩
The lotus of Egypt, sacred as the emblem of fertility, and honoured with the title of the Spouse of the Nile, is a large aquatic plant of the genus nyraphea. The. seed is made into a kind of bread and baked, and the root, which is round, and about the size of an apple, is also eaten.
The Egyptian lotus is a very different plant from the lotus of Lybia, whence the lotophagi derived their name. The latter is a shrub, (a species of rhamnus, the rhamnus lotus of Linnæus,) and is disseminated over the borders of the Great Desert, from Cyrene, round by Tripoli and Africa Proper, to the borders of the Atlantic, the Senegal, and the Niger. Its fruit is about the size of an olive, has a purple hue, and is sweet like a date. It is a principal article of food with the tribes bordering on the Desert; and the lotophagi appear to have received that name from the circumstance of living chiefly upon it. A kind of wine is also made from this fruit. ↩
The nelunbium, or sacred Indian bean, the nymphea of Linnæus, and cyamus of Dr. Smith, is a magnificent plant, and its flowers, from their size and colour, are compared by Herodotus to the rose. This plant has, like the lotus, been the theme of much controversy. Herodotus has described it as growing in the Nile, and Dioscorides has said that it abounds in Egypt, but no modern traveller has been able to find it there. In speaking of the root of this plant, which, he says, is eaten, Herodotus has probably confounded it with the colocasia, a plant that grows abundantly in the inundated places near the Nile, and produces at all seasons broad green leaves, not much unlike those of the nymphea lotus, but its flowers are little noticed, as the roots are eaten previous to the period of flowering. The nelunbium is at present common in India, and writers have conjectured that it may have been transplanted thence into Egypt, and not being indigenous in the soil, has subsequently perished. Its fruit, which Herodotus compares to a wasp’s nest, contains numerous esculent seeds, about the size of an olive stone, and somewhat like a bean. These, he says, are eaten, both raw and roasted. Dr. Smith has imagined this plant to be the real mystical bean of Pythagoras, the use of which that philosopher prohibited to his disciples; and supposes that he imbibed this notion of it in India, if ever he travelled thither, or in Egypt, whither it had been transplanted. This plant is held sacred by the Bramins, but the kernels are almost universally eaten by the Hindoos, and are said to be of a pleasanter flavour than almonds. ↩
The valisneria has perhaps little right to a place with the large and spe- cious flowers already mentioned, but the wonderful mechanism it displays will always render it dear to the botanist. Valisneria is of the class dioecia, or two houses, having the male and female flowers on separate plants. It is an aquatic plant, and grows at the bottom of rivers and ponds in Norway, in France, in parts of Italy, and in the East Indies. The female, or fertile flower, has a spiral stalk which remains coiled up at the bottom of the water, till the flower is perfected. It then uncurls, and the flower rising floats on the surface. The male flowers, on the contrary, have a very short stalk, which breaks off close to the stem previous to their expansion, and they spring up to the surface. Their petals are there unfolded, and the pollen of the anthers is wafted on the stigma of the female flower, which being fertilized, its stalk coils up, and it descends again to the bottom of the water, where the seeds are ripened. Dr. Smith is of opinion, that if the flower be not rendered fertile, its stem loses its irritability, and neglects to coil itself up again. The male flowers, though small, are so numerous as often to cover the surface of the water for a considerable distance. ↩
The flowering rush or sagittaria, so called from the dart-like shape of its leaves, is a plant very different from the common rush, and its flowers are often a great ornament to our shallow waters. ↩
The cornua Ammonis or horn of Jove, is a very beautiful shell, of the nautilus genus. The living animal is no where found, but the shell is very common in a fossil state. It has a pearly lustre on the outside, and the section exhibits a beautiful camerated structure. ↩
There is no shell that has acquired more celebrity than the paper nautilus, which is supposed to have given to man the first hint of the art of sailing. The tenant of this shell expanding a thin membrane to the influence of the wind, and at the same time moving its tentaculæ, sails with rapidity over the ocean. I have said the tenant of this shell, for the animal usually found in it, does not appear to have been its builder, and neither in form nor structure corresponds with the mansion it inhabits, or with the inhabitants of the other nautili. It is a species of cuttle fish, which probably, like the soldier crab, and some others, seizes the discarded shell of the nautilus, and converts it to its own uses. The different cameras of the shell are perfectly useless to this animal, and could never have been formed or inhabited by it: it resides only in the outer chamber. — Roget and Shaw’s Lectures. ↩
Chama gigas, the largest of testaceous productions, the pair of these shells often weighing from 120 to 140 pounds. The force of the shell in closing is sufficient to separate a cable, or lop off a limb, and the water spouts up to three or four feet distance. The chama gigas is a native of the Pacific Ocean, and is very frequent in museums. ↩
The murex was employed by the Romans in dyeing their Tyrian purple. ↩
This thought is borrowed from Spenser. It has also been used to advantage in Jamieson's “Mermaid, or Maid of Colonsay."
Florimel is imprisoned by Proteus.
“Deepe in the bottome of an huge great rocke
The dongeon was, in which her bound he left.
That neither yron barres, nor brasen locke
Did neede to gard from force or secret theft,
Of all her lovers which would her have reft;
For wall’d it was with waves, which rag’d and ror’d
As they the cliffe in peeces would have cleft.
Besides ten thousand monsters foule abhor’d
Did waite about it, gaping, griesly, all begor’d.” ↩
In the water-spider, which forms its nest at the bottom of water, we find a very curious contrivance to supply it with air in this situation. This animal has the power of swimming. It ascends to the surface of the water, and returns laden with a large bubble of air, which it preserves unbroken amid the pressure of surrounding waves. This operation is frequently repeated, till a considerable reservoir of air is collected around the nest, in which the spider lives and rears its little family, surrounded by their own peculiar atmosphere, and literally “insulated amid the waves.” The spider has the power occasionally of dividing this reservoir into two or three cells. — Roget’s Lectures. ↩
This description is exactly copied from an account accompanied by a sketch, given by Mr. Este in his Lectures at the Royal Institution in 1809, of the sea-snake that was stranded on one of the Orkneys in 1808. Its length was fifty-five feet; but as part of the tail was wanting, the animal had probably measured at least sixty, when perfect. The head resembled that of a horse. The neck was ten feet long, but only two feet in circumference. It had six flat feet. The colour was a dusky green, and a thick yellow mane stood up on its back. ↩
The castoreum, or castor, may be called an animal gum resin. It is a peculiar secretion of the beaver. It usually comes to England in small balls of a reddish brown colour, and covered with a tough membrane; it has a bitter unpleasant taste, and a very peculiar and strongly disagreeable odour. The best castor comes from Russia, and the ordinary sort from Canada. The pilots of the north are said to provide themselves with this drug, to preserve them from the attacks of the sea-snakes, infesting the Arctic Ocean, to whom its smell is particularly offensive. ↩
The Hircynian forest, formerly celebrated as the haunt of large ferocious beasts, contains stupendous monuments of their existence. For two hundred leagues extend an immense number of caverns lined with stalactitious concretions, and their floors covered with bones. Two thirds of these belong to two species of bear which no longer exist. These animals must have lived and died in the caverns where their remains are found; and as carnivorous animals are solitary, each cavern must have contained only one, or perhaps a pair. What a long succession of generations does this render necessary, to produce the accumulation of bones which has long supplied the apothecaries of Germany with phosphate of lime, and still remains to excite the wonder of the naturalist! Cuvier, &c. ↩
The power of water and of ice, as conductors of sound, is much superior to that of air. The noise of cannon has often been transmitted by the waves to an incredible distance, and vessels sailing among the islands of ice, in high latitudes, often hear a double report, first and loudest from the ice, and afterwards, much more faintly, from the air. Davy. ↩
Even whales and other animals, coming within the influence of the Mäelstrom, appear instantly sensible of their danger, struggling and making a frightful noise but in vain. They are borne along with increasing rapidity, by the resistless force of the vortex. ↩
The power of oil, in stilling troubled waters, is well known; though without the assistance of a sea-nymph, it might not be advisable to try its efficacy in the Mäelstrom. At the turn of the tide, it is said, that the waters are for a few minutes nearly calm, and that fragments of shivered timber are then “refunded on the refluent wave.” ↩
In the Arabian Nights Entertainments, Saleh, a king of the sea, previous to plunging with his nephew, Prince Beder, into the water, places on his finger a ring, engraved with the same words as those on Solomon’s seal, by virtue of which he is endowed with the power of breathing in the water. ↩
The actiniæ or sea anemones, and sea marigolds, have received the name of zoanthæ or animal flowers. They are of an oblong form, and when closed, resemble a truncated cone. They are fixed by the base, and the upper part is surrounded with many tentacula?, in the centre of which is the mouth. Many of them are of very brilliant colours, and when their tentaculæ are expanded, they have the appearance of full blown flowers. They feed on small shell-fish and other marine animals, which coming within reach of the expanded tentaculæ, are immediately seized and drawn into the mouth, which closes over them. The shells, and other indigestible parts, are afterwards returned through the mouth. ↩
The coral islands are formed with a rapidity that is astonishing, whether we consider the great depth from which they rise, or the extreme minuteness of the animals that produce them. It is chiefly in the Pacific Ocean that this growth of coral takes place, where many large islands are continually forming, and rise up, from immense depths almost perpendicularly, to the surface of the water. The sea then gradually filling up the interstices of the coral with mud and sand, a soil is formed, and by degrees the islands become the rich and fertile abodes of man and animals.
Captain Flinders seems to have been particularly struck with the variety of form and colour presented by the corallines on the reefs of New Holland, or Australasia, “equalling in beauty, and excelling in grandeur, the most favourite parterre of the curious florist.”
Some of the animals that form the coral, seem to live in a kind of commonwealth, their bodies being connected by a network of nerves. It should appear, that the food received by one affords benefit to the whole community, so that if one of them be indisposed to eat, he may subsist on the nutriment communicated by others.
The growth of coral is much less observable in European seas, or in the Atlantic, except near the West Indies and in the Red Sea. There is coral in the Straits of Messina, and Spallanzani has given a long account of ths fishery there. — Roget’s Lectures. ↩
Many of the larger tribes of fishes feed on the smaller kinds, and are exceedingly voracious, but most fishes appear to derive their subsistence from the element which surrounds them. Perhaps the medusæ and other minute animals which inhabit the water, may contribute to their nutrition. Among birds which assemble for periodical migrations, those which fly first of the troop, eat up the country, and are strong and fat, while their unfortunate followers, unable to find sufficient provision, are weak and emaciated, and fall an easy prey to the tigers and hyenas that prowl behind. But in fish, where the shoals are infinitely more numerous, this is never the case, and the last of a shoal of herrings or of mackerel, is in as good condition as its predecessors. Did the majority of fishes require any other food than what is afforded by the water which surrounds them, where would the immense multitudes which inhabit the ocean find provision? It would be greedily devoured by the larger tribes, and they would be left to perish by famine. — Roget’s Lectures. ↩
This is not precisely true with all the bivalve shells; some of them possess a slight power of locomotion. The oyster, for instance, by rapidly opening and closing its shell, is able to effect a slow and laborious motion from place to place, the reflux of the tide impelling it slightly at every action. ↩
A great deal has been said respecting the power of fascination supposed to be exerted by serpents over small animals: Dr. Lichtenstein, in his Travels in Southern Africa, has recorded an instance of it. On the brink of a ditch, he saw a large snake in pursuit of a field-mouse. “The poor animal was just at its hole, when it seemed in an instant to stop, as if unable to proceed, and without being touched by the snake, to be palsied with terror.” The head of the snake was raised over him, the mouth open, and the eyes stedfastly fixed on him. Both remained some time in this position, but as soon as the mouse made a motion to fly, the snake followed it immediately, as if he would stop him. After some minutes, the noise made by Dr. Lichtenstein’s approach alarmed the snake, who snapped up his prey instantly, and glided away into a bush. The Doctor appears rather to ascribe this phenomenon to the poisonous breath of the snake, which he thinks might really paralyse the limbs of the mouse, than to any influence of its fixed eye, or the dread of inevitable death. ↩
Lake Erie, in North America, is said to be particularly troubled with storms of thunder and lightning. One of its bays is called Thunder Bay. ↩
The iron of Elba, like the copper of Paris Mountain in Cornwall, is on the surface. ↩
Alluding to Corsica as the birth-place of Buonaparte, and Elba as the place of his exile. ↩
The eruptions of Vulcano according to Thucydides, Strabo, Diodorus, and others, were formerly strong and frequent: it is now only remarkable for a great column of sulphureous vapour rising from the crater. Sulphureous vapours also abound in every part of the island, and the soil is hot and filled with clods of sulphur. The fumes were much greater in quantity in former times. ↩
In the description of Stromboli, and of the descents of Leonora and Alonzo, the account of Spallanzani is chiefly followed. Stromboli is perhaps the most extraordinary of volcanoes. The island is entirely composed of streams of lava, that, from their direction, have evidently flowed from a crater at the top of the mountain, which is still remaining, but the time of its extinction is unknown. The present crater is about half way up the mountain. Stromboli does not, like other volcanoes, rage only at intervals, but appears, from the earliest times, to have been in unremitted action, yet no lava has ever flowed from the present crater. Strabo and others speak of the brightness of the eruptions, and Diodorus notices their constancy. ↩
The coast of Stromboli is covered to the east and north-east with a black shining sand, which extends to some distance into the sea. It arises from the scoriaceous lava ejected by the mountain, which is very friable and soon be- comes pulverized. — Spallanzani. ↩
Spallanzani notices the attachment of the natives of Stromboli to their rugged shore, and miserable huts, formed of pieces of lava rudely piled together, even in situations where their little vineyards frequently suffered from the sulphureous vapours and explosions of the mountain. ↩
This cave is described by Spallanzani as having sheltered him from the ejections of the mountain, during his observations on the interior of the crater. ↩
This is the appearance of the interior of the crater, as described by Spallanzani; but succeeding travellers have doubted whether, from his situation in the cave, he could possibly have seen the boiling lava. They imagine, that his sight must have been deceived by the vapours in the crater. ↩
This phenomenon is mentioned by Spallanzani, as having occurred during one of his visits to Stromboli, and at first alarmed him considerably. The natives described it as being very rare, and never of long continuance. ↩
Vulcano has in all ages been remarkable for the immense volumes of sulphureous vapour arising in various parts of the island, and in particular from the crater. The soil is in many places so impregnated with them, that on turning it slightly over, large clods of sulphur are found, These were formerly a great article of traffic, but in consequence of the heat of the ground the search is now abandoned, though the sulphur continues as plentiful as formerly. Sulphur is a great agent in the decomposition of lava, which, when exposed to its vapours, becomes soft, is covered by a white crust, and gradually crumbles away. ↩
Sir James Hall made many experiments to ascertain the effect of heat on bodies secured from the access of air, and under considerable pressure. In these circumstances, he found that chalk assumed the crystallized appearance of white marble, and that several of the earths were converted into lava. ↩
However extraordinary it may appear, recent observations seem completely to establish the vegetable origin of coal. That immense forests should suddenly have been overwhelmed, and, by the action of sulphureous and bituminous vapours permeating their centre, have become completely mineralized, is less wonderful than that succeeding and again succeeding forests should have sprung and flourished on the site of their buried ancestors, and at last have shared their fate. Yet such is the scene exhibited by the numerous subjacent strata of our coalmines. ↩
These medusæ are found in great numbers in the Straits of Messina and occasionally in the seas which surround the Eolian Isles. The Abbé Spallanzani has given a very long account of them in the fourth volume of his Travels in the Two Sicilies. He says that they shine like a torch, and that their light is visfble to the distance of some hundred paces. It is also visible when they are thirty-five feet below the water. The light is variable, and appears to depend on the motion of the animal. Sometimes it continues for a quarter of an hour or longer, at others it becomes suddenly extinct, and re-appears after a considerable interval.
Many species of medusæ possess this power of phosphorescence, particularly the medusa scintillans of Mr. Macartney, and they seem to be the most frequent cause of the luminous appearance of the sea during the night, in our own as well as in other latitudes. The largest and most splendid of these animals is the medusa pellucens, discovered by Sir Joseph Banks in the passage from Madeira to Rio de Janeiro, in the first voyage of Captain Cook. It was taken from the sea at the same time with a minute species of crab (the cancer fulgens), also luminous. This medusa measures six inches across the crown, or umbella, which is marked by a number of opaque lines that pass off from the centre to the circumference. It throws out flashes of light during its contractions, which are so vivid as to affect the sight of the beholders. Ten or twelve of these flashes were generally visible at a time. When the water containing these animals, and some of the cancer fulgens, was emptied out of the bucket, it appeared like a stream of fire or melted gold. The light of the medusae always decays and vanishes on the rising of the moon. ↩
The cactus opuntia, or cactus indicus, the Indian fig, is a very curious plant. It appears perfectly indifferent as to soil, if the climate be but sufficiently warm. The stem is formed of a number of articulated divisions growing upon one another, and commonly separated by so deep a contraction, as to have the appearance rather of distinct individuals than of parts of the same plant. Hence these plants are called proliferous. In the species of opuntia described in the poem, the joints swell in the older plants, and acquire an equal thickness with the rest of the stem. The divisions are about a foot long, eight inches broad, green, pulpy, rounded at the edges, and narrow at the stem, and have so much the appearance of leaves, as to be commonly, though not properly, so called. On these, when young, are found a number of little knobs, which afterwards swell and become covered with bristles. They contain the rudiments of future divisions. At the edges of the divisions grow the flowers, which in some species are scarlet, but in this yellow, and produce a fruit nearly of their own colour, of delicious flavour, and a principal article of food with the natives of Stromboli and the other Vulcanian isles. ↩
Campo Bianco, or the White Field, is one of the principal mountains of Lipari. It is an aggregate of pumice-balls, and has all the appearance of snow; whence its name. The pumices of Campo Bianco are a principal article of commerce with the Liparese. They cut them in large oblong blocks, which are piled on the shore to await the arrival of vessels that convey them to various parts of Europe.
Monte Castagna is a mountain composed entirely of volcanic glass or obsidian, and has the appearance of a vast river suddenly congealed. These two mountains are perhaps the most wonderful trophies of the power of volcanic fire in the world. In some parts of Iceland, portions of obsidian are found, but no where is there any thing that can be compared with Castagna. The activity of the fire that formed the island of Lipari must have been very great. There are no traces of either pumice or glass in any other of the Vulcanian isles, or among the lavas of Etna and Vesuvius. Perhaps Santori, in the archipelago, is the only island that vies with Lipari in its pumices. — Spallanzani. ↩
St. Angelo is the highest mountain in Lipari, and its dark and rugged steeps, only interspersed by a few cultivated spots, form a striking contrast to its neighbour and rival Monte Guardia, whose sides are covered with vines and verdure. This difference in the two mountains arises from the difference of the lavas which compose them. Those of Monte Guardia have been de-compounded and rendered fertile by the action of the atmosphere and the labour of man, while those of St. Angelo have hitherto resisted both. — Spallanzani. ↩
The grape producing the celebrated malmsey of Lipari is large, and of a bright amber hue. It is chiefly grown in Lipari, particularly on the side of Monte Guardia, but a few vines are reared in Vulcano, and some other of the Lipari isles. The vintage is to the natives a season of festivity. They leave their dwellings on the shore and repair to cottages on the mountain, and the lights from them have an unexpected and very pleasing appearance to the voyager during the night. Malmsey and pumice are the only exports of Lipari. — Spallanzani. ↩
The seas surrounding the Eolian isles are peculiarly liable to storms, and often without any apparent cause. It is probably from this circumstance, and from the violence and fluctuation of the winds, that they derived their name, and that the ancients there fixed the dwelling of Eolus. There is a celebrated cavern in Vulcano, called the cave of the winds, whence a considerable blast still issues. ↩
What particular species of cttaceous fish Spallanzani has here mentioned by the name of dolphin, I know not, but he particularly notices the swiftness and apparent playfulness of their motions, as they sported round the felucca which conveyed him from Lipari to Stromboli. ↩
The sword-fish, xiphias ensis of Linnæus, pass in large shoals twice a year through the Straits of Messina, where there is a considerable fishery for them. From the beginning of April to the middle of June they pass to the Genoese seas, where they propagate. From July to September they return by the Sicilian side of the Straits of Messina, where the fishery is then carried on. ↩
The Fata, or Fairy, Morgana, supposed by the inhabitants to be the cause of a singular and beautiful phenomenon sometimes seen in the Faro of Messina. It occurs at the time when the sun surmounts the eastern hills behind Reggio, and rises high enough to form an angle of forty-five degrees on the water before the city, which at these times is smooth and glassy. The spectator standing with his back to the sun, on a sudden beholds in the water numberless series of pilasters, arches, castles, towers, magnificent palaces, groves of trees, plains covered with herds and flocks, armies of men, on foot and on horseback, &c. &c. in their natural colours, passing rapidly in succession along the surface of the sea.
Sometimes, if the air be slightly hazy, these objects are surrounded with prismatic fringes; and sometimes, when the atmosphere is highly impregnated with vapour, the objects observed on the water are repeated, though more faintly, at a considerable height in the air.
These images appear to be merely the multiplied reflexions of objects on shore. They probably, like the rainbow, owe their origin to the adverse sun, aided by very peculiar circumstances in the atmosphere; and like it, are precisely the same to no two spectators. A curious appearance is sometimes observable on Alpine heights. A company of adventurers ascending the brow of a mountain, with their backs to the rising sun, each person perceives, on a frozen cloud before him, his own shadow, but not that of any of his companions; its head crowned with a glory, and surrounded by various concentric rainbows. During the dense fogs which obumbrated London in January, 1814, many persons walking in the streets, and unable to distinguish their neighbours, were thus surprised by the company of their own shadows which started up at their sides as they past the lamps. All these phenomena appear to have a similar origin, but they are not sufficiently frequent for much investigation. ↩
St. Catharine is a favourite saint with the Italians, and her marriage has afforded a subject to many of their best painters. ↩
When the scirocco, or south-east wind prevails, Stromboli is covered by a great cloud of lurid smoke, impervious to the sun, except at the very edges, which are white. This cloud, composed of hot sulphureous vapours, often extends half way down the mountain, and a mile above it, and renders the ascent impracticable. During the north, or north-west wind, this cloud vanishes almost entirely, and the mountain may be ascended with safety. — Spallanzani. ↩
The rapidity with which light is transmitted is surpassed by nothing but electricity, which in its passage along a very extended chain, always appears to be in every part at the same instant. Whether light be a substance or an action, has been often debated, yet never decided; but its extreme swiftness cannot be better illustrated than by the simple fact, that the time in which it passes from the sun to the earth, a distance of nearly one hundred millions of miles, does not exceed eight minutes and a half. ↩
Light and heat though usually, are not inseparably, connected, which is proved by the analysis of the ray by the prism. At the violet end of the spectrum, scarcely any heat is perceptible; but it increases gradually towards the red rays, and is strongest in certain invisible rays which extend beyond them. In a similar way, the chemical effects produced by the beams of the sun appear not to depend either on light or heat, but on a peculiar set of rays, different though connected with them. Horn, silver, or any other body, whose colour is changed or blackened by exposure to the sun, is scarcely affected by the red rays, but changes more rapidly when it approaches the violet end of the spectrum, and in certain invisible rays beyond them the effect is much the strongest.
The nature of heat, whether it be a substance or an action, a peculiar subtle fluid that insinuates itself between the particles of bodies, and incites them to repel each other, or merely a series of pulsations or undulations, received arid transmitted by them, appears to be as little ascertained as the nature of light, and the French and English chemists have, as usual, embraced opposite sides of the question. — Davy and Brande. ↩
The nature of sound cannot be better illustrated than by throwing a pebble into the water, and observing the concentric circles that immediately begin to spread, and becoming wider and fainter, cease at a considerable distance. Sound consists of a number of vibrations transmitted by the particles of air in concentric circles around the body which impels them. Denser bodies convey sound better and more rapidly than air, for instance, water, ice, the metals, &c. ↩
The spirits presiding over electricity are here intended. The phenomena of the Auroras Borealis and Australis are generally believed to be owing to the passage of electricity through the rare atmosphere of the poles. ↩
It has been supposed that oxygen is the chief agent in producing the vivid hues of flowers, particularly the red tints. Its presence is necessary to combustion and to respiration, which appear to be of the same nature, carbonic acid being the result of both. It was formerly believed that oxygen entered into combination with the blood during respiration, and that it was absorbed; but experiment has proved this opinion to be incorrect, and that the whole of the oxygen, consumed in respiration, is employed in the formation of the carbonic acid evolved. It has been stated in a former note, that oxygen, on entering into combination with a body, destroys its conducting power; it is, therefore, said in the poem to obstruct the progress of electricity. Davy, Brande,and Roget’s Lectures. ↩
This alludes to the formation of water by the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, or inflammable air. It is a curious circumstance, that water, the greatest enemy to combustion, should be formed by the union of the greatest, and till lately believed, the sole supporter of combustion, with a gas itself inflammable. ↩
The snow which fell last January, 1814, contained many beautiful little flat feathery stars, having usually six points. The largest were about a quarter of an inch in diameter, but the size varied. Dr. Clarke in the first volume of his travels states that, while he was at St. Petersburgh, the thermometer of Celsius, being at 5° below the freezing point, with little or no wind, snow fell for three hours in the most beautiful and regular crystals, each being about the size of a split pea, and consisting of a star with six points. During this time no other snow fell.
A similar phenomenon occurred at Cambridge on the 16th January, 1810, under precisely similar circumstances, and is recorded in the Cambridge Chronicle. The stars were, if possible, more perfect than at Petersburgh.
Dr. Clarke has given a theory to account for this appearance, but he seems not to have been aware that the crystallization of snow was not a new phenomenon, but had been observed by Descartes and Kepler. The first probable theory of it was given by M. de Mairan, and is neatly illustrated by Dr. Hutton in his Mathematical Recreations. The small needles of ice, which are formed in the progress of congelation, are implanted one into the other in regular and determinate angles which are always 60°. Hence one particle of ice meeting another, unites with it in an angle of 60°; four more are gradually added, and the simple star of six points is formed. If new needles of ice be added, they must place themselves on the first radii, either by making an obtuse or an acute angle towards the centre. In the first case, the result will be a star, the radii of which have a kind of barbs like a feather, or a star having six salient and six re-entering angles. There are also some figures still more complex, but these are rare. ↩
The Baltic is liable to various agitations, but has no regular tides. ↩
The silver mines of Salseberist, and the descent to them, have often been described, and the accounts given of them have been here followed as correctly as possible. The greater part has been drawn from M. Bomare, as quoted by Madam Genlis. ↩
About half way down a tremendous noise is heard of torrents roaring on every side, but they are not visible. ↩
A spacious hall surrounded by galleries is supported by columns of mine silver, which reflect in every direction the lamps that illume this subterranean region. A river passes along the centre of the hall; and the contrast of this scene of light, with the preceding descent, is very striking. — M. de Bomare. ↩
These lines allude to silver, as being the usual standard of value among civilized nations, and determining the price even of gold. ↩
In the mine of Salseberist there is a windmill turned by a subterranean current of air, and employed to raise the water, which might otherwise incommode the miners. ↩
An attempt is here made to give an idea of the phenomenon called by the miners Fire Damp. This is an explosion of hydrogen gas, which not unfrequently takes place in mines where ventilation is not properly attended to, and sometimes produces very fatal consequences. The hydrogen exhaling from some neglected part of the mine, takes fire at the lamps of the workmen, and produces a violent explosion, the effects of which are however less dreadful than those of the air rushing in to supply its place. If the miners have sufficient time, they endeavour to prevent the explosion by extinguishing their lights, or fall on their faces to avoid the return of the blast. Sometimes they observe a white film floating over their heads, which they instantly seize, and crush in their hands, to prevent its explosion. In mines which are much troubled with hydrogen gas, the men are not allowed lamps, but work by the light of a flint-mill, or of sparks struck from a wheel surrounded with blades of iron, like that of a razor-grinder, and turned rapidly round. ↩
Rivers, where the soil is much impregnated with silver, have generally a milky hue. ↩
Intermittent springs are not very frequent, but there are three or four in England; the principal of which are those of Lay well, near Torbay, and of Buxton, in Derbyshire. In the former the water rises and falls twenty times in succession, and afterwards flows uniformly for two hours. In that of Buxton it intermits every quarter of an hour. But the most celebrated of intermittent springs are in the lake of Tschirnitz, in Carniola. This lake is about fourteen miles in length, and five in breadth. It is full of water during the greater part of the year, but about the beginning of July the water runs off by eighteen subterranean conduits; the fish either escape with it, or are destroyed, and cattle soon come to feed on the grass which rises quickly with great luxuriance in the bed of the lake. Three or four months after the water returns suddenly through the holes by which it was absorbed, with such violence that it spouts up to the height of several feet, and the lake is filled in less than twenty-four hours. For a farther account of intermittent fountains, and of the peculiar form of pipe which is necessary to produce them, see the fourth volume of Dr. Hutton’s Mathematical Recreations. ↩
America was not discovered in the time of Edward the Third; it would however be known to the Gnomes. ↩
Anahuac, the great tract extending from Mexico northwards, and nearly the same with New Spain, is rich in ores of every kind, and in precious stones. ↩
Crescitque seges clypeata virorum. — Ovid. Metam. Lib. III. ↩
The Oriental nations believe that the centre, or axis of the earth, is an immense stone, which they call Saxhrat. All the mountains of the earth (among them the celebrated Caucasus) are ramifications of this stone, and it has others within the surface. When God is displeased with any city or nation, he commands this stone to give motion to one of its fibres, and an earthquake instantly takes place. ↩
All the gems are perfect non-conductors, and hence impervious to the electrical sword of Henry. ↩
The agapanthus umbellatus, is a Cape plant, and remarkable for the graceful form of its leaves and flowers. The leaves fall in a curve on each side of the stem, which, rising to the height of two feet, bears on its summit a cluster of blue flowers, that before they expand have a great similarity to the Grecian honey-suckle. ↩
Previous to the discovery of the four new planets, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta, Mr. Maclaurin and others, from the general analogy of our system, entertained the idea of the existence of a planet between Mars and Jupiter, and the attention of astronomers was directed to that part of the heavens. In January, 1801, Mr. Piazzi discovered a planet in the expected situation, but not larger than our moon. This planet he named Ceres: but it was so small, that after it was lost in the beams of the sun, there was great difficulty in finding it again; and it was not till 1807 that it was recognized by Dr. Ollbers, of Bremen. In the meantime, Dr. Ollbers and Mr. Harding, in their search for this planet, discovered two others, (Juno and Pallas,) which, upon calculation, appeared to have orbits precisely the same as that of Ceres, in their distance from the sun, and only differing in obliquity. From this singular circumstauce, Dr. Ollbers conceived the idea that these three planets might have been originally combined in one larger orb, which had been divided by some violent commotion. Were this the case, the fragments, from the regulated attraction of the sun and the other planets, would continue to revolve at the same distance from the sun, but the obliquity of their orbits would be determined by the direction in which they were thrown off. These orbits would however possess two common points of intersection, or nodes, namely, the point in which the parent planet was, at the time when it was rent by the convulsion, and the point opposite to it. The orbits of the three new planets being calculated, appeared to have these points of intersection; and Dr. Ollbers, confirmed in his theory, and thinking there might be more planets, continued his observations, which, in September, 1808, were rewarded by the discovery of the planet Vesta. The orbit of Vesta intersects that of Pallas, but not in the place where it is cut by that of Ceres. — Pond’s Lectures.
In the poem the new planets are made use of, but not on the system of Dr. Ollbers. I have supposed them not to be the fragments of one unhappy planet, but coeval in their birth, to have revolved from the beginning in the same sphere. We may presume that any convulsion sufficient to rend a planet would have produced a sensible effect on all parts of the solar system. The reciprocal attractions of the planets must have been altered, they must have been accelerated or retarded in their course, and such an extraordinary event, had it happened since the creation of man, could hardly have been unrecorded, if not in the writings of the learned, at least in the traditions of the vulgar. ↩