THE MAID OF ARRAGON; A TALE.

By MRS. COWLEY.

PART I.

LONDON: Printed by T. SPILSBURY, For L. DAVIS, T. LONGMAN, J. DODSLEY, T. CADELL, W. OWEN, S. CROWDER, T. DAVIES, T. BECKET, G. KEARSLEY, C. DILLY, T. EVANS, RICHARDSON and URQUHART, and R. FAULDER. M,DCC,LXXX.

TO MR. PARKHOUSE, Of TIVERTON, DEVON.

ACCEPT, dear Parent! from a filial pen,
The humble off'ring of my pensive Muse:
She painted on my mind a Daughter's woes,
Nor could my heart the tender theme refuse.
The rightful Patron of th'eventful tale,
To you I dedicate the scenes she drew;
My soul she search'd to find OSMIDA's thoughts,
And colour'd her from what I feel for you.
Yours then the meed—if meed kind Fame will grant,
The tale to you—to you the bayes belong;
You gave my youthful fancy wings to soar;
From your indulgence flows my wild-note song.
Its music in your ear will sweetly sound;
Its page, with fond delight, you'll traverse o'er:
With half your pleasure may the world peruse!
My muse, my vanity can ask no more.
Dear other Parent! guiltless hold my heart,
Though unadorn'd my numbers with your name;
Your worth, your goodness, in its centre lives,
And there shall perish only with my frame.
H. COWLEY.

☞ It is near three years since the above lines were written, and the First Part of THE MAID OF ARRAGON finished; though other avocations have prevented the publication till now. This circumstance is mentioned, to shew that they were prompted by the heart, and not by the desire of imitating the Author of an admirable Novel, which was addressed to a Father since that period.

DEPRECATION.

I ENTREAT the Reviewers to have compassion on me. From the beginning of my literary warfare, these un­merciful Wits have pursued me with the sharpest arrows of Criticism; and I have had nothing to console me, alas!—but the approbation of the Public. How shall I escape now, when to all my other faults are added, so many out­rages in Geography? With what triumph of critical saga­city will they say, (after the necessary strictures on the story, thoughts, and verses) ‘"If our Author was determined to send her Pegasus into Spain, in quest of adventures, she ought to have consulted Salmon about the situation of its provinces. She would there have found that Ar­ragon is fifty miles from the sea; and that the Moors could not possibly have debarked on its confines, unless, like fish to the London markets, their fleet had arrived by land-carriage. With equal facility, the troops of the King of Leon are brought across Old Castile to Saragossa in about thirty hours—another miracle; which was doubtless accomplished by the interposition of a friendly necromancer, who furnished the army with wings, in exchange for some chaste damsel, or beautifull princess. Had this Lady-Writer's reading extended to a translation of the Iliad, she would have found no examples of such liberties there. Homer gives an exact map of the coun­tries he carries us through; and from Ithaca to Troy, not a village or river is misplaced."’

[Page] True: but Homer (I name him as a modern Painter mentions a Correggio, and a Raphael) Homer united the Historian with the Poet—I deal entirely in fiction. It was enough for me, that Spain, through a succession of ages, had been subject to the ravages of Africa; and that during this period, sovereigns had been robbed of their crowns, and been obliged to resign their sceptres to their swarthy conquerors. The relation of the particular events of these remote times, the Historic Muse has generally left to her creative Sister, who never fails to profit by their obscu­rity, in relating them to the world in her own manner; the geography of the heart, and the history of the passions, are the only realities to which she attends. If, in describing these, I shall be found deviating from the laws of Truth, and Nature, I shall have failed in my intention; but I pro­test, if the cacoethes scribendi should continue on me, or if I should ever wander again into the regions of Romance, I shall treat oceans and provinces with as little ceremony as rivulets and meadows: I will avail myself of the established privileges, and raise mountains, seas, or kingdoms, in any part of the habitable globe that hits my fancy; or, if it strikes me, build a temple to Dullness—in the chamber of a Reviewer.

THE MAID OF ARRAGON.

OH, ye! whose sympathetic hearts are form'd
To woe responsive, and whose trem'lous nerves
Vibrate to Sorrow's mournful airs—attend!
Not you, ye gay! not you, ye vacant crouds!
Who labour through the pleasures of the world,
Nor feel existence when they cease t'impel;
I call not you!—for, oh, your callous bosoms
Fell Dissipation steels, and robs your minds
Of the sweet energies bestow'd by Heaven:
But, come, ye few! who love the lonely hour;
Who know the sense refin'd, the charming agony,
Which Pity gives the hallow'd hearts she fills;
To you I call! oh, come, and trace with me
(Whilst glitt'ring Hesperus holds high his torch)
The mazy windings of yon solemn wood.
Behold the lawn, which opens on the left,
With crocus border'd, aromatic thyme,
[Page 2] And ev'ry fragrant shrub that tempts the bee
Down from the liquid air, to bathe in sweets.
The op'ning wicket of that humble cot,
By slow degrees, moves gently on its hinge:
And now, with cautious tread, the soft OSMIDA,
Looking a blessing on her slumb'ring Sire,
The threshold quits; when, from his short repose,
Aged ALMANZOR starts:—Where art thou, Child?
Where is my darling? Oh! return, OSMIDA!
Why wilt thou wander in Night's chilly air,
And trust thy bosom to its piercing dews?
Return, my Child! th' unpitying winds will shake
Thy tender frame.—
The night is calm, my Father!
Scarcely a zephyr moves the restless aspin;
And the clear moon, with soft inviting beam,
Looks through the foliage of the lofty pines.
A moment let me breathe the balmy air!
Confin'd beneath the cottage roof by fear,
And more confin'd by duteous cares for thee,
All day I live immur'd. Then let me now
Taste Nature's blessings—exercise and air.
Heaven guard my Child! But soon return, OSMIDA;
And downy sleep shake slumbers on thy pillow!
OSMIDA quits the cot, and bends her steps
Towards the margin of a neighb'ring lake:
But not its lucid bosom tempts her steps,
Nor moon inviting through the lofty pines,
Nor balmy air, nor healthful exercise;
Ah, no!—it is to breathe her bosom'd anguish,
Where Grief, though audible, wastes her sad voice
In ambient air—not torturing the ear
Of the rever'd ALMANZOR, Sire belov'd!
Bending to earth, with eyes that penetrate
The glowing canopy of heaven; in sounds
More mournful than the widow'd stock-dove's plaints
—Tender as youthful mother's lulling song,
She thus address'd Omnipotence divine:
Oh, Thou! in whose eternal, boundless sight,
The woes, or happiness, that overpower
The mind of finite man, seem but as drops,
That in the vast abyss unite their littleness,
To form one mighty whole—to Thee I pray!
Not for myself I pray, but for my Father;
For him whose care-worn heart, drooping, oppress'd,
And torn with barbed griefs, seems torn from thee.
His soul her wonted confidence forsakes;
He falls from thee; he leans not on the rock,
The sacred rock, by which alone he stands
—And quitting, sinks to measureless despair.
Oh, Thou, accept my humble heart for his!
Hear, hear ALMANZOR, in OSMIDA's voice!
'Tis he implores. Bless, comfort, heal his griefs;
And to thyself attach his sorrow-tempted heart!
Next for my Country, Heav'n, oh, hear my pray'r!
Behold her struggles with a pitying eye!
Drive from thy temple-gates the mocking infidel!
Restore thy altars! Send—
The pious Virgin's voice, with terror choak'd,
Unfinish'd left her pray'r. Forth, from the shade
Of the surrounding thicket, rush'd a Knight,
In shining armour clad, borne on a steed
Who seem'd to scorn the earth, his light heel pass'd,
As though his element had been the air:
Swift, as the breath of fierce Euroclydon
He bore his master to the spangled lake,
[Page 4] Whose borders, by OSMIDA's knee still press'd,
In thousand glowing colours bloom'd around her,
In thousand scents perfum'd the tranquil air.
Light vaulting on the ground, the Knight approach'd,
And in such courteous phrase address'd the Maid,
That half her terrors ended with his words.
Leave me, Sir Knight! with firmness she reply'd;
And as she spoke, her voice, though sweet, express'd
A custom to command. Leave me, Sir Knight!
This solitude is to Misfortune sacred;
None ever tread these unfrequented wilds,
But those to whom the door of sweet Society,
And Friendship's holy gate, are shut forever.
And can the social door, and Friendship's gate,
To thee oppose their brazen locks? O Heaven!
The peopled world thy angels have sorsook,
And here in deserts dwell—in human form,
But in celestial beauty! Tell me, Virgin!
—For sure the awe, with which thy eye inspires,
Bespeaks thy vestal state—tell me, fair Maid!
What ills, what sore affliction, thee have driven
To seek, in these sequester'd shades, felicity
By man refus'd?
My sorrows, gentle Knight!
I dare not whisper to the speechless air
—Still less intrust them to a stranger's ear:
Yet, from your courtesy, I must demand
My solitude again; and, as you hope
For blessing from the Pow'r who hears my voice,
Swear never to divulge, that in these glades
A Maid you found—by outward beauty grac'd,
But whose sad heart, Sorrow hath call'd her own,
And stern Affliction long enroll'd a sister!
The Stranger paus'd: and then, as if to win
Her confidence, and woo her from reserve
By frank example, thus the Nymph address'd:
To whom should I reveal this bless'd abode?
Whose feet conduct to violate your haunts?
I, who, like you, by keen misfortunes press'd,
Seek shelter from the world; and even now
Forsake my native skies; quit Gallia's shores,
Her purple vineyards leave, her fertile meads,
Her ever blooming fields—all these I quit—
For these, to wretched hearts, bloom, swell, and fertilise, in vain.
Unhappy Youth! breath'd forth the sad OSMIDA;
And is Affliction's appetite so vast,
That daily victims can't allay her rage?
But, gentle Knight! where will your journey end?
What Porter waits to hear your bugle sound,
And ope the gates, with welcome in his face
To greet his honour'd Lord's expected guest?
Alas! sweet Maid! no hospitable gate
DE COURCI seeks; no welcome waits his steps:
To Eastern climes I bend my weary course;
Jerusalem the home which ends my progress.
There let me bear your woes. Instruct me, Lady!
That at the Holy Sepulchre your name
May animate my pray'rs; that there your griefs
May, sanctify'd, ascend the porch of heav'n,
And, in their stead, soft peace, and blooming joy,
Return into your breast. That duty pass'd,
My sword shall lend its vigour to the cause
—The sacred cause, which arms our Christian legions,
And drains our cities of their val'rous Knights.
OSMIDA's eye, beaming with new-born hope,
And gratitude awak'd, shot forth her thoughts,
[Page 6] Ere from her vermeil lips these accents stole
—In breath more fragrant than an Eastern morn:
Wilt thou remember me at Zion's gate?
And shall my sorrows from the holy cave,
In which the Saviour drew his second breath,
Ascend to the Almighty's throne?—Again
She stopp'd, and check'd her growing frankness.
The Stranger saw instinctive prudence rise,
And fear'd to give the virtue time to act.
Yes, he rejoin'd, with zeal more pure and ardent
Than converts feel, who, at the holy altar,
Bewail a life of curst idolatry,
Will I your sorrows pour, in that bless'd spot
Where Sorrow surely cannot plead in vain.
Struck with the piety which deck'd his words,
Yet doubting still, the timid, trusting Virgin,
In silence, with herself thus cogitates:
A Christian Knight he is, and with his life
Now hast'ning to support the Christian cause.
Oceans and continents will soon divide us:
Why then the knowledge of my woes with-hold,
When bless'd Benevolence demands the tale?
Then, turning to the Stranger, meekly said
—Such kind persuasion confidence demands;
Yet patience will you need, whilst I relate
Events so strong, they fitter would become
A manly tongue. Of battles I must speak,
Of falling kingdoms, and victorious arms.
These strains accord not with a female voice;
Yet will I strive to nerve my thoughts and language,
And raise my fancy to the lofty theme.
But not alone of war shall I discourse,
Of meeting armies, or contending states.
[Page 7] —Here on this sloping bank, Sir Knight, repose;
And I a tale—for Pity—will unfold,
Were Pity's tears innum'rous as the sands.
The Knight, with token of respect, obey'd.
OSMIDA, with the grace of sweet reserve,
At gentle distance, near the moss-grown roots
Of an expanding beech, a Wood-nymph seem'd
—A woodland goddess! and her grassy seat
Chaste Dian's rural throne. Grave Recollection
On her sweet features spread an air compos'd;
Whilst in Night's zenith—'midst her radiant court,
The crystal Moon seem'd fix'd in still attention:
The silent waters of the lake more silent flow'd:
The Zephyrs, drawing close their silken wings,
In soft subjection held the rustling branches:
The wheeling bat far off her circles draws;
Whilst the Night's sweet musician still'd her song,
To learn a sadder note—from fair OSMIDA.
All thus in silence wrapt, the thoughtful Maid,
With tone sedate, begins the promis'd tale.
This happy clime—this Arragonian realm,
Had late a Monarch, whom her Sons rever'd;
—As King rever'd him, as a Father lov'd:
He lov'd his People, knew no care but theirs;
And the fond blessings, which they gave his name,
Blunted the thorns a diadem conceals.
Peace, in this happy reign, her throne establish'd,
And brought her proper blessings in her train;
Fair Commerce wav'd her pennons in our ports;
The fertile plough subdu'd our sterile fields;
Our granaries, like those of Egypt, drew
From neighb'ring countries, riches and renown.
[Page 8] The cottage Peasant, round his well-fill'd board,
Saw thankful faces and contented hearts:
No iron taxes grip'd his pallid frame,
Nor tore the morsel from his children's mouths:
Blithe as the morn he rose to healthful labour,
And hail'd, with joy, th'approach of festive eve.
Such once the favour'd lot of envied Arragon.
Her fame, her riches, spreading to the East,
Entic'd the Moors from their polluted home:
Sudden their prows invade our peaceful seas;
—Sudden the bold Barbarians croud our shores;
Defenceless hamlets turn unnatural beacons,
And blaze the woe-fraught tidings through the land.
Like a night-torrent, fierce, uncheck'd, they come
With devastation at their coursers heels;
Death, rapine, ruin, mark their dreadful progress,
And reach the bulwarks of the royal city.
Deep consternation spreads through ev'ry street;
Th'affrighted virgins to the temples run;
The mother grasps her child, and shrieking flies;
Whilst husbands, fathers, brothers, all in arms,
Chide the dear mourners who retard their speed,
Snatch last adieus, and rush upon the walls.
But from the walls, what image strikes the view!
A turban'd phalanx on the hill appear'd,
Rapid descending to the plain below.
Upon the right advanc'd a mighty column,
Of armed chariots form'd—so thickly set
With scythes, and swords, and barbed spears, each seem'd
A steely porcupine; whose burnish'd quills,
Catching the rays of the meridian sun,
Gleam'd back upon the town refulgent horror.
[Page 9] Upon the left hand mov'd the tawny marksmen,
Whose ebon bows, and quivers richly stor'd,
They sung, were given by Death—unerring archer!
The dreadful pomp descended to the plain,
Fix'd their bold standards, and entrenchments form'd,
—Whilst our scar'd citizens observ'd their works,
Like trembling birds, who, looking from their nests
Upon the charming cockatrice, behold
Inevitable fate. But black despair,
That first enerv'd, next lent their courage fury:
Lead us! they cry'd—lead to the Moorish camp!
What are their numbers, single as they come?
With us, our parents, children, lovers, laws,
Religion, liberty—all join the battle,
—Brace our firm arms, and give ten thousand points,
Ten thousand deaths, to ev'ry Christian sword.
This holy rage, like sparks electric, flew
From man to man. Each urg'd his valiant friend,
To save their city, matrons, daughters, wives,
—As if on each their preservation hung.
Scarce could the pious King restrain their ardor,
So sure they seem'd of conquest and revenge.
But he, who knew that from th'almighty arm
Their foes' destruction only could proceed,
The gates of every temple open threw,
And, with humiliation deep, repair'd
Before the sacred altar of our God.
The soldiers, citizens, the nobles croud,
And ev'ry holy roof grew instant vocal.
Prostrate and weeping, they implor'd the High
For Gideon's sword, and mighty Joshua's arm.
"Shield us!" they cry'd—"Oh, save thy faithful people!
Nor give us to the mockers, for a scorn!
[Page 10] Omnipotence! preserve us from the yoke
The foe prepares for our devoted necks!
Humble the boasters, who repose their strength,
Not on thy arm, but in their own frail numbers!
To Thee! O God of Battles! we appeal.
Hear, hear our voice!"—When lo! from Heaven's bright concave,
In gracious intimation, that their prayers,
Wafted by guardian spirits, reach'd the throne,
A mighty peal of thunder rapt their ears,
And purple lightnings quiver in the sky.
The Arragons, with hopes thus sanctified,
Rush'd from the temples, like impetuous flames;
—Or like fierce tigers, who their destin'd prey
At distance see; and pant, and foam, and rage,
With pride of certain conquest. But their prince
Strove this incautious ardor to restrain.
—All-bounteous Heav'n, he cry'd, by means, not miracles,
Decides the fate of armies, and of kings.
Let prudent foresight, then, direct your aims,
Lest rashness blights the harvest of your courage!
The haughty Moors, contemptuous of our strength,
Doubtless expect to see our opening gates
Receive them, masters, at the trumpet's signal:
To aid their blindness, we will offers make,
Of terms too humble for a state in freedom,
And yet too high for Conqu'rors to accept.
Then, in the night's meridian, when no star,
With tell-tale beams upon our polish'd mail,
Shall shew us to the watchful centinel,
—Then will we rouse the lion from his den,
And prove our courage worthy of our cause.
The humming notes of growing apprchation,
Like distant thunder, gaining on the ear,
[Page 11] Broke forth at once into applausive shouts.
Live! live the King! re-echoed ev'ry mouth;
O guard my People! said the heart-touch'd King.
The heralds sent, and their misleading terms,
To blind, with fears unfelt, the Moorish camp,
All now prepare, for the wish'd hour of onset.
The sounding anvils beat their clanging music;
Peace-rusted swords regain their edge and polish;
The nervous archer tries his idle bow,
And gives new plumage to his missile darts.
The matrons, virgins, catch the martial fire:
These songs prepare, these rosy garlands twine,
To greet, on their return, the conqu'ring heroes.
Yet, 'mongst the virgins, one sad heart was found;
'Twas in the bosom of the royal Princess.
Her vows, her plighted troth, had long been given
To young MONTENOS, Duke Medina's Heir.
He, only he, could melt her icy breast;
—None could so well deserve an untouch'd heart.
His mind, more noble than his princely birth,
Lent glory to his name: matchless his form!
As poets feign celestial Virtue wears,
When visible to man. Oh! wonder not,
The Princess lov'd with strength no common flame
Could have inspir'd! Her soul was full of love:
She liv'd, she breath'd, she thought, but for MONTENOS.
Ten thousand terrors now besieg'd her soul;
Ten thousand nothings, which her fancy drest
In colour, substance, circumstance, and form.
Yet, from her lover, 'twas her care to hide
The tender weakness which her heart confest.
Shall I, she cry'd, a mighty kingdom's heir,
Shew terrors that the humbler maids despise?
[Page 12] My Country rocks upon a precipice.
—Go then, MONTENOS! prop her falling state!
Repel th'invader! tread on Slav'ry's neck!
And 'mongst her dear preservers be thou Chief!
The shades of eve advance, and from the camp
The subtle messengers return—return
With insult loaded, and contemptuous threats.
No less the Moors demand than general vassalage;
That conquer'd Arragon—so proud their style!
Should yield them homage, and perpetual tribute.
A day they grant us to resolve on slavery,
—To turn apostates, and revolt from Heaven,
Or see our towers extended in the dust.
No terms or messengers they will receive;
But open'd gates, and crescents on our spires,
The answer they expect. This lofty menace
Less with surprise than anger was receiv'd;
—It spoke the spirit of the fierce invaders.
Some hours—tremendous pause! were yet to pass
Between this period, and that meant for action:
Gloomy suspence sat brooding o'er the army,
And hid, not damp'd, the ardor of their courage.
All, self-collected, seem'd retir'd within,
And the full mind had render'd language mute.
At this grand moment, when no thought of aid,
—Of human aid, had glanc'd across the soul,
In from the Western gate—like bees returning
From their diurnal circuit—rush'd amain
Ten thousand sons of war. At this bless'd sight,
Such transport seiz'd the citizens, and troops,
It seem'd triumphant holiday, and joy
Would even in frolic sport—so sudden the effect.
To Leon's King we ow'd this grateful succour:
[Page 13] He heard the Moors were hov'ring on our coasts,
And, as a Christian king, the cause adopted.
But now the streets, choak'd up with armed men,
Pour back their warriors through the Western portal:
There, in the marshy vale, that to the North
Extends its rich campaign, the army grew
In form. Pardon if I, a simple Maid,
Cannot relate, Sir Knight! in artful terms,
How, in what order grew. I have not skill
To use the phrases chance hath giv'n mine ear▪
Were I to speak of flank, and rear, and van,
You'd find my tongue to wild confusion lead.
—Learn then but this: the King the centre kept;
MONTENOS, stately pine! led on the front.
The Stranger bow'd reply, in mute respect.
OSMIDA, gently pausing, thus resum'd:
The tender Twilight, which till now had look'd
With timid eye upon the martial plain,
Withdrew her beam, to follow distant day:
Night, oft invok'd, advanc'd her ebon standard,
To which all Nature yields well-pleas'd obeisance:
But iron War, scornful of Nature's laws,
Makes Rest his captive, and the ear of Silence
Frequent invades, whilst from the throne of Night,
Coëval pow'r! she rules the drowsy world.
So now through Arragonia's streets, his march
—Unmeasur'd by the drum's imperious notes,
In aweful pomp he takes. Balconies crouded
Show'r down their blessings as the soldiers pass,
Whilst thousand voices spend themselves in pray'r,
And thousand ardent eyes appeal to Heaven.
At length arriv'd towards the Eastern towers,
The army made a momentary halt.
[Page 14] When, lo! the holy Prelate, with a train
Of cloister'd saints, barefooted, rob'd in white,
And holding each a crucifix, advanc'd.
Ye more than warriors, said the Man of God,
Ye Christian soldiers, think whose sword you bear!
The barb'rous nations of the earth, whose ears
Were never blest with sounds of Gospel Truths,
Have yet atchiev'd such wondrous deeds in arms,
As will convey their names, with glory deck'd,
To the remotest age in Time's dark womb.
A thousand nations have for freedom fought,
A thousand others for revenge have arm'd,
And giv'n destruction to th'offending foe:
To save their matrons from the brutal rape,
Their daughters from Pollution's arms, have sent
Victorious myriads to th'imbattled field.
All these you fight for; but you fight for MORE—
—You fight for CHRIST. See here! behold your Saviour!
Torn on the racking cross! These wounds for you
Were given. This blood—this sacred blood! for you
Gush'd forth, and mingled with corruption. Go then!
Bleed, agonize, and die for Him! Rapt Seraphims
Are now preparing your celestial crowns:
—Go and atchieve them! Choirs of holy angels
Now tune their golden harps, and hymns prepare
To greet ye conqu'rors in the gates of Heaven:
—Go! blessed soldiers—Go!
The Father ceas'd.
From ev'ry mouth burst forth—as if one soul,
One voice, through all the army reign'd—"We go!"
Inspir'd thus by the Priest's heroic charge,
Each seem'd to press to be the earliest victim;
Their souls on fire, were eager to depart
[Page 15] The earthly sphere, and seise on their immortal crowns.
Thus rapt, the soldiers pass; and through the gates,
Like mists exhaling from the earth's moist bosom,
Spread on the surface of the hostile plain.
The gates shut close their wide-extended jaws,
—Shut close for ever, on the valiant youths,
Whose feet now leave them—to return no more:
But they, by other hopes than life inspir'd,
March on; whilst Night her curtain closer draws
To hide their progress from the watchful foe.
In vain the night her sable curtain draws,
And bids the stars keep hoodwink'd in their course;
For faithless Echo to the Moorish guard
Betray'd the distant sound of pacing steps.
From guard to guard the hasty signals fly,
And shoot like meteors through the dark expanse.
The Infidels, alarm'd, seem all in motion,
Whilst the faint quiv'ring lights, that lately serv'd
To guide the hunters in their dang'rous chace,
Now blaze and multiply, till all the camp
A vast illumination seems, that gilds
With dreadful splendor the surrounding gloom.
Our troops, undaunted, quicken as they tread,
And hasty marching grows to eager speed.
To arms! to arms! the scar'd besiegers cry.
Your arms are here! th'advancing foe replies,
—Thirsting to drench their swords in Moorish blood!
Silence, no longer useful, now gives way
To all the dreadful din that battle loves.
The haughty trumpet, and the vig'rous drum,
With the shrill fife's acuter voice, accord
To summon valour in the fearfull'st heart.
The Moors rush forth, impetuous and confus'd.
[Page 16] No orders thought on, and no orders heard:
Some to the trench, some to the chariots fly
To buckle to the shafts the frighted horses:
—The restive steeds reject th'accustom'd yoke,
Dash their fierce leaders wildly to the earth,
Then, plunging, bound along the beamy plain.
Our troops had gain'd the ditch, and to the beards
Of the besiegers—now besieg'd, advanc'd,
Ere the first panic left their courage calm
—The battlo's fury in an instant spreads,
And all its horrors rage mature at once.
The bows are useless; throat to throat they fight;
—Foes mix with foes, ranks press on hostile ranks,
Till each are lost, and form one dreadful whole.
Death never triumph'd as he triumph'd now;
—With hasty victims never was so gorg'd:
He who is killing, by another's slain;
And he, in finishing his blow, partakes
The fate he gives. Scarce had the armies join'd
Ere thousand souls had pass'd th'eternal bourn:
On ev'ry side bulwarks of dead appear
—Torrents of reeking gore. The blood of Moors
And Christians forms one common flood, and rolls
Its heavy tide in stagnant streams along.
Say, Stranger, hast thou seen the warlike sports.
Yearly presented in our vast Steccado?
Superior to the rest, the Bull-fight claims
Glorious pre-eminence. Forth from their dens
The bellowing monsters rush, and the earth rings
Beneath their haughty hooss. The ireful foam
Runs from their churning jaws; their burnish'd horns
Now rase the earth, now proudly tost in air,
Challenge the waiting warriors to the combat:
[Page 17] The waiting warriors, ardent for the sign,
Dart on their foes: the lordly beasts evade
The well-aim'd spear, and, clad in native might,
Scorn the bright corslet and the nodding helm:
Onward they rush—whilst deathful fury bursts
In livid sparkles from their blood-red eyes;
They gore the gen'rous steeds, their riders crush,
Or send them clashing through the dusty air.
Throughout the concave, sound the eager plaudits,
And boist'rous admiration speaks the joy:
At length the fav'rite bull—he whom the keepers,
For fire and strength, superior to the rest,
Had long mark'd out, is loos'd upon the plain:
All marvels cease the instant he appears;
And what seem'd wondrous but a moment since,
Has now no tongue to speak the mighty act
—So much beyond all thought his deeds excell
The glorious devastation of his peers.
Just so MONTENOS shone among the heroes
Whose bitter chastisement the Moors endured.
Where'er he mov'd, destruction mark'd his progress,
And death seem'd couchant on his pond'rous axe.
The Night, so dreadful! lengthen'd out her hours,
As though she staid to view the battle's conflict,
Or hide its horrors from the springing day.
At length the glowing portals of the East
Disclos'd the Morn—in splendor she arose;
But, as if grief-struck at the murd'rous scene,
Her face in humid clouds she instant wrapt,
And seem'd to weep in drops of sacred pity.
Yet Conquest ceas'd not, with her vig'rous arm,
To plant her banners o'er the reeking field:
[Page 18] —For us her banners wav'd—for us she triumph'd,
And Vict'ry sung loud Iö's for the Christians.
The Moor, now seeing that his scatter'd host
Had their chief leaders lost—their numbers wasted,
Like sifted corn before the driving tempest,
For quarter calls. His troops, upon their knees,
Yield up their arms, and Mahomet invoke,
To screen his worshipers from dreaded vengeance;
But Christian soldiers war not for revenge,
Nor know to trample on a vanquish'd foe.
Their homage is accepted, and their chiefs,
With low'ring fronts, and hearts by malice gnaw'd,
Follow the victors in their march triumphant.
Strait to the city-gates they bend their course,
Where from the walls the holy priests had watch'd
The issue of the fight. There too, the Princess
—In horrors exquisite! had pass'd the night.
Judge then her rapture, her exalted joy,
When she beheld, on their victorious march,
Betroth'd MONTENOS, and her royal Sire!
Forth to the plain—heedless of form, she rush'd:
Her Virgins follow'd, and the rev'rend Priests,
Led by the holy Bishop, form'd her train.
The day—as if she bore an active part
In all th'events her teeming hours brought forth—
Chac'd the dark clouds, unveil'd her radiant face,
And gave new glories to the scene she view'd.
The King approach'd—the Princess, at his feet,
Ador'd the mighty arm which thus restor'd him,
Loaded with laurels, from the deathful field:
Her valiant Lover, leading in his hand
The Moorish Prince, with eager pace advanc'd,
[Page 19] To claim his share of her enraptur'd welcome.
Receive, he cry'd, a conquest which your eyes,
And not my sword, atchiev'd. Inspir'd by you,
Who could resist my arm? This princely foe,
Who wonders acted, and whose arm deserv'd
A righteous cause; by you, bright maid, subdu'd,
Your victim I present. The sullen Prince
Scarce deign'd to lift his eye; when, with a grace
No fancy can pourtray, the gallant youth
Made to his mistress this heroic gift.
Oh fatal present! gift replete with woes!
Why did not heaven in its mercy send
Its winged shafts, and at that instant strike
The royal Maid, where, fix'd with joy, she stood!
Then had her breast, untorn with throbbing anguish,
Sunk peacefully—alas! where roves my tongue!
Let me, in order, lead you to the sequel.
It needless were my story to prolong
In painting scenes your fancy will supply:
The joyful entry, and triumphant feasts,
Devout processions, and heroic sports,
All these are fruitful themes, and would demand
A time the waning night denies. In brief,
The captive Prince a mighty ransom offer'd,
With league of amity and lasting peace.
The terms accepted, gallies were dispatch'd
To bring the barter'd price of his redemption.
Mean while he join'd the games, and seem'd to lose
His barb'rous roughness in the toils of pleasure.
Alas! in other toils his mind was caught;
The Princess seem'd too lovely to ZORADOR,
Whose sensual soul she touch'd with fiercest passion.
[Page 20] He dared to speak of love, and to herself
Vaunt his bold hopes; whilst he beheld approach
The day, which was to join in nuptial bands
The Royal Maiden and her lov'd MONTENOS:
The marriage sports already were prepar'd,
And yet the Moor, audacious! talk'd of love.
—Repuls'd with just disdain, he to the King
His love-sick tale, with sullen port, address'd:
I am not used, he cried, to offer crowns,
And have them spurn'd, like vulgar lovers' toys.
Give me your Daughter! I'll give her a throne:
Dominions she shall have, to which your Arragon,
With all its boasted fields, and blushing vineyards,
Seems but a fertile spot; so vast the country
Whose sceptre I command! The King's firm answer
Shew'd the proud Infidel, his suit was vain;
And, that a Christian Princess, to a subject
More fitly would be match'd, than with the Monarch
Of wide-stretch'd continents—whose wretched Sons
Were taught to scorn the doctrines of a CHRIST.
ZORADOR's fury to such transports grew
At this destruction of his hopes, he seem'd
No longer man—His eye-balls glar'd with madness;
His foamy rage—like a tempestuous sea
Lashing her shores in vain—spar'd not himself:
His beard in frightful fragments strew'd the floor;
Whilst his inflated bosom rack'd within,
Without resounded from his barb'rous blows.
He curs'd, blasphem'd, and wept: his strength exhausted
Left him at length, as though a wakeful sleep
Had seis'd his faculties, and numb'd the fire
Which fill'd his torrid veins. His slaves, who oft
[Page 21] Beheld their lord a victim to himself,
Bore to his couch the prostrate harmless tyrant;
And there, with trem'lous lutes and vocal harmony,
In sweet enchantment woke him from his trance.
His haughty soul, that scorns all other laws,
Will yield to music all her boist'rous passions
—Hang on each strain, melt at each magic note,
And transient virtues catch from trilling airs.
Compos'd, at length, or masking what he felt,
Again ZORADOR sought the pensive King;
Pardon, he cry'd, Oh Prince! a wretch undone!
Forgive the frenzy of a heart unsteel'd
By disappointment's shocks. Nurs'd by prosperity,
By fortune follow'd, I had learnt—fond man!
That fate, that earth, that heaven, for me combin'd,
And from misfortune hallow'd my encircled head.
Your powerful arms, O King of Arragon!
First taught ZORADOR that he was a man;
And now your Daughter's still more powerful eyes
Have taught ZORADOR, that he is a slave.
Master and tyrant of a thousand beauties,
Who court my passions, live for my delight,
I breath'd, unknowing that I had a heart,
Till cruel love, wrapt in Despair's wild torments,
Gave all its nerves a sense of curst existence!
I love—with agony—with madness, love!
Oh, spare me then the horror of a sight
My fiery brain splits but to think on! Save,
—Father of her whose charms thus abject make me,
Save from the tortures of her marriage rites,
The heart which burns and wastes with hopeless ardors!
The ling'ring moon has number'd all the hours
[Page 22] That I allotted for my fleet's return:
Soon as the eastern wind invades their canvass,
The bellying sails will whiten all your channel,
And their red streamers blush along your shores.
My ransom paid, I quit these hostile walls,
—Where my lost peace will stay enchain'd for ever.
Then, whilst I bear my woes to distant seas,
Then may the spousals be triumphant sung,
And not one wretch remain to curse the sound.
Here ceas'd ZORADOR; whilst the melting King,
Unable to withstand a claim so urg'd,
Granted his royal suitor all he ask'd.
The Moor, impress'd with thankfulness, retir'd,
And the good Monarch gave Medina's Heir
Command to curb his warm, impetuous wishes,
Until his rival sought his native skies.
The shifting winds soon wafted to our ports
The Moorish squadron. To the capital
The fleeter camels bore the various treasures
Meant for redemption of their captive Prince.
Stuffs, ingots, ivory, form'd their precious burden;
Carpets of Persia, hangings wrought with gold,
Muscovian sables, scarves enrich'd with pearl;
Silk robes, by Grecian damsels taught to glow
In flowers of vivid tints, and buds so prompt,
They seem'd to blow beneath the gazer's eye;
Sabres with glitt'ring hilts of curious art,
And scymeters whose sheaths di'monds illum'd,
And sanguine rubies dy'd; all these were borne
In pompous march, through Saragossa's streets;
Whilst haughty coursers, from Arabia's hills,
Champing gold bits, adorn'd with sumptuous housings,
[Page 23] —Or bearing Turkish tents of gaudy drapery,
Shut, from the wonder-loving croud, the long procession.
And now approach'd the joyful, wish'd-for morn,
Whose breath upon our happy plains the Moors
Were doom'd to leave. ZORADOR, with such port
As disappointment gives to tumid spirits,
Made to the King and Princess his adieus.
He left the city with a train of slaves,
Shedding profusely, as they pass'd along,
Rich showers of gold upon the gaping rabble,
—Whose venal voice pierc'd Heaven with "Live ZORADOR!
Soon as the tidings of the Moors' departure
Our speedy couriers brought, the word was given
To make all ready for the royal marriage.
Raptur'd MONTENOS, madd'ning with his bliss,
Could scarce support the intermediate hours
That led, with lagging steps, the nuptial morn.
The nuptial Morn arriv'd—rous'd from her slumbers
By the shrill voice of silver clarions, join'd
By the soft hautboy, the seducive lute,
And sweeter pipe of choral maids, symphonious.
Forth from the palace to the church, through streets
With carpets laid, and myrtle garlands hung,
The glad procession led its length'ning train.
The King, beneath his canopy of state,
Preceded by his guards, first object mov'd:
Next to his suite the Princess, blushing, follow'd;
Her train upheld by twenty noble maids,
Whose beauty, in their snowy robes, seem'd chastity
Incarnate. Next, at distance—as of rank
That yet allow'd not of a royal state,
MONTENOS walk'd, succeeded by the court.
The King had almost reach'd the holy portals,
When from the croud a youth advanc'd, who caught
Each wond'ring eye. His face, a mask—design'd
For youthful beauty, hid. His airy form
Seem'd worthy such a face. His habit tissue,
Emboss'd with purple studs. His flowing hair
With knots of pearl was ty'd, and on his head
A garland bloom'd. An iv'ry flute he held,
Through which he breath'd such melting, touching, strains,
That Harmony herself had staid to listen.
As he approach'd, the soldiers clear'd his way,
Till in the front before the guards he stood.
The Princess came, whilst he, with rev'rence low,
And softer breathings, seem'd to great her presence.
She pass'd; the Bridegroom came—in quicker notes
He bad his music flow; and, forward stepping,
Offer'd, with courteous air, the tuneful pipe.
MONTENOS, smiling, stretch'd his hand, when—horror!
His breast receiv'd the flute, which hid a poniard—
—A second blow, ere thought could be recall'd;
The third, the murd'rer on himself bestow'd,
And welt'ring dropt into the arms of Death.
Astonishment usurp'd each vital faculty,
And rooted all who saw the bloody deed.
The Bridegroom, sinking on th'assassin's corps,
Rous'd from their trance his horror-struck attendants;
Whilst the chill sounds of Death! Montenos! Murder!
Fled to the wretched Maid—almost a wife.
Not daring to demand the cause; her pulse,
Stopt by congealing fear, forbore its office,
And a kind stupor hid her from her woes.
Back to the palace, now, the dying Bridegroom,
By Knights in hymeneal robes was borne,
Whilst others dragg'd his murd'rer's mangled corps,
To search for motives to the cruel deed.
His mask unclasp'd, disclos'd a well-known face
—A mute he was, and in ZORADOR's train.
A fiend-like scroll, conceal'd within his vest,
Develop'd all the murd'rous hell-born project.
These were its words: "'Tis not the slave, but I,
Who give the blow. Vengeance, if not my love,
Shall be appeas'd. Learn, King of Arragon!
Learn both to know and dread the scorn'd ZORADOR!"
Such were the lines which bore the stamp of fate.
The lovely victim of the Moor's revenge,
Breath'd not a word, but strain'd his beamless eye
To find the object that his heart's last pulse
Ador'd—not seeing her, they seem'd to shut
All others out—and Death, with hasty seal,
Clos'd their dim lids in everlasting sleep.
Here paus'd the Virgin, as immers'd in thought;
The story, fraught with woe, had cast a shade
Of deeper sorrow o'er her pensive brow:
Her lab'ring bosom sent forth heavy sighs,
And her sad mind seem'd lost in one idea.
The Knight, who eager grew to know the tale
She promis'd of herself, presum'd at length
To bring her recollection to the point;
At which her rosy lips their portal clos'd,
And ceas'd to charm him with their touching accents.
I will not, Stranger! said the fair narrator,
Tax your attention with events unneedful,
[Page 26] The Court's distress, the sorrow of the King,
The Bride's, th'unwedded Bride's, forlorn distraction.
Long tedious months led round their joyless suns,
Ere comfort beam'd upon her widow'd heart;
Nor then, till, at the tomb of her lost Lord,
Her solemn vows she made, never to hear
A lover's soothing tale; but, in virginity
Perpetual, wait the hour that should unite
Her faithful spirit with her murder'd Lord's.
This duty paid, a dawn, like that of peace,
By soft degrees illum'd the mourner's mind.
The Court, prompt in expedients to divest
Misfortune of her stings, ransack'd all pleasures,
Invented fresh delights, new joys invok'd,
For their sweet antidotes to pois'nous grief.
Thus had two years their slow-revolving hours
Brought to the great account; when from the east
A dark portentous cloud, lab'ring with ills,
Pregnant with thousand woes, obscur'd th'horizon.
ZORADOR—he whose soul from inmost hell
Was sent to scourge the earth—not glutted yet
With all the horrid joys that wait on vengeance,
Not yet forgiving our triumphant arms,
Which shear'd the laurels his whole life had reap'd,
—Again came pouring, like a mighty deluge,
To overwhelm the land in lasting ruin.
He came.—Why should I lengthen out my tale?
Our nation's force, oppos'd to the Moor's army,
Was kindling torches to obscure the sun.
Again we saw them hover on the hill:
Again we saw—like famine-bringing locusts,
[Page 27] Their hosts descend, and spread upon the plain.
No parly, as at first, they would allow:
Their batt'ring-rams the messengers they us'd;
—Arrows and catapults, their killing words.
A dreadful day our troops sustain'd the siege,
And fill'd the breaches with their slaughter'd foes.
At length, a billet on a javelin's point
The ramparts pass'd, denouncing rape and sackage,
If stubbornly our citizens delay'd
To own ZORADOR conqueror and king.
The threat effected all the Moor had hop'd,
And Arragon's grey Monarch was abandon'd
By those whose rights he'd guarded with his blood,
—By those his smiles had cherish'd, and his honours grac'd.
The throneless Sov'reign, when he saw his gates
Open their faithless jaws t'admit the foe,
Rush'd, in distraction, to his Daughter's chamber:
Fly! let us instant fly! he gasping said;
The Moors have vanquish'd, and my Child's a slave.
Their standards now insult our conquer'd streets,
And curst ZORADOR will not long delay,
Within my palace walls t'assert his rights.
Come then, my Daughter! lest dishonour find thee,
And kill they parent with a thousand deaths!
The Princess, whom affliction had subdu'd,
And taught a firmness stranger to her years,
Grasp'd her lov'd Father's hand—Lead me, she cry'd,
Where Providence ordains! my duteous steps
Shall ever follow yours, soften your path,
And chear, to life's last sigh, your rugged journey.
A golden casket, as she spoke, she seiz'd,
That held, till now, a hoarded useless treasure;
[Page 28] And through the galleries, with breathless haste,
And step precipitate, follow'd the King,
—Unknowing to what corner of the earth
To point their feet, or whom they should intrust
With their advent'rous flight. A faithful Lord,
In this sad exigence, with cordial words,
The royal fugitives thus met and cheer'd.
"O Sire! from Arlos take the only duty
That stormy fate now suffers him to pay:
My horses wait, close to the garden walls,
With trusty knights to guide you to my castle.
Dreading the worst, I had prepar'd this refuge,
When the fell Moor began his fierce assault.
For me, I'll stay and greet, with smiles deceitful,
ZORADOR, whom I hate, to ward, if possible,
What further ills his malice may devise."
The King embrac'd, with servent gratitude,
The noble youth—and follow'd where he led.
There a close chariot, harness'd and attended,
Waited to bear them from the dang'rous spot.
The flying steeds seem'd conscious of their office,
And instant cleft the air with eagle swiftness.
Mean while the Moorish troops rush'd through the gates,
And on our bulwarks fix'd their haughty standards.
No terms the citizens obtain'd, but those
Of vassalage and uncondition'd slavery;
Whilst their chief officers were instant sworn
To be allegiant to the swarthy Infidel.
Mean time, with speed, towards the royal palace,
As to his home, ZORADOR bent his course;
Vaunting, that now the Christian King should, kneeling,
[Page 29] Ask him to wed the Daughter whom he woo'd
With offer'd thrones, and was, with scorn, rejected.
But, when he found no Sov'reign to insult,
No Princess to affront with odious passion,
His furious transports made a thousand victims.
The Nobles' houses were with strictness search'd:
The churches, monast'ries, were all defil'd
By the unhallow'd infidels, in vain.
Three days the search continu'd, when the Moor,
Foaming with disappointed pride, made oath,
That, if the Princess in eight days appear'd not,
The convents-walls should to the ground be ras'd,
And their pure vestals sate his savage soldiers.
These dreadful tidings to the King and Princess
The faithful ARLOS sent. "My castle walls,"
He said, "no longer will protect my Sov'reign.
The church itself will aid the keen pursuit,
—Deeming it better that one royal Maid
Should feed the lust of a detested tyrant,
Than that their holy virgins should become
The prey of the licentious soldiery.
Fly then, my Prince! The loyal Knight, whose hand
Presents this testimony of my faith,
Will to a secret spot (where he himself
Asylum found) attend your wand'ring steps;
—Not wand'ring long! for surely Heav'n, that tries
The virtue which it loves, will reconduct you
To your lost people's arms, and rightful throne."
The darkest robe of night o'erspread the hemisphere,
When at the castle GONZALES arriv'd.
The royal pair, in humble weeds disguis'd,
Instant forsook the hospitable roof,
And sought untravell'd wilds, and gloomy deserts.
[Page 30] The spirits of the King, weigh'd down with sorrow,
Had sunk beneath accumulated ills,
Had not wise Heav'n endu'd his Daughter's mind
With strength to bear her griefs, and chear her Father's.
With tender talk the tedious way she shorten'd;
And, when exhausted Nature ask'd recruit,
Hymn'd him to sleep beneath umbrageous trees.
A whole day's sun beheld her duteous cares:
The moon arose, and still they journey'd on;
But the succeeding sun, with earliest beam,
Guided the travellers to a forest's verge.
Here GONZALES the steeds unrein'd, and drove,
In envied freedom, to a neighb'ring mountain,
Lest their betraying hoofs should guide pursuers
To the asylum of the hunted King.
In the wood's centre they a cottage found,
Form'd, by Misfortune's hand, of humble clay:
Two rooms it had, in each a rustic bed;
For stately chairs, a bench; a rough-hewn table,
That ne'er with other dainties had been fill'd,
Than labour cull'd from the surrounding herbs;
Or from the vines—that in the desert air,
With their delicious burdens long had swell'd,
Nor found one tempted hand to ease the load.
Such the retreat the fugitives had found.
Adieu to gilded roofs, and chorded minstrelsy!
Adieu to greatness, and unhealthful pomp!
The winds now rustle through their straw-crown'd cot,
And birds, with wild-note sweet, compose their concert!
Full seven slow moons have turn'd their monthly orbs,
Since GONZALES the cottage left, and since
No human sound, but their own pensive tones,
Have reach'd the Princess and her Father's ears.
[Page 31] What can I more? If my eventful tale
Hath touch'd the chords of pity in your heart,
And swell'd the sympathetic tear—soft tribute!
By gentle minds, to sorrow ever paid,
—Know, 'tis no stranger's woes I have related;
I am the object of my own sad story—
It is the Princess speaks—
Enough! exclaim'd
The Knight, springing with ardor from the bank,
Enough! our prize is found! and wealth and rank,
And bright ZULEDA's smiles, are now DE COURCI's!
Thus speaking, to his lips he fix'd a bugle,
Whose piercing sounds ten thousand echoes bore
On airy wings, through the surrounding woods.
The signal heard, six Moors obey'd its voice,
And spurr'd their horses headlong through the glades.
For these OSMIDA stay'd not. The false Knight
No sooner spoke his joy, than, like a fawn
Who from the neighb'ring thicket hears the voice.
Of the fierce wolf—she bounding left her seat,
And fled to safer shades. A starting star
Less rapid cleaves the air, when Ethiop Night
Shews on her wanton breast his lucid trail.
Meanwhile, the royal cottager, whom Sleep,
Spight of his cares, had woo'd to her embrace,
Broke from her tempting arms. He call'd OSMIDA.
List'ning in vain, to hear her cheering voice,
He started from his couch, and, rob'd in haste,
Rush'd forth to seek her in her fav'rite haunts:
Darting his fearful eye across the lawn
On which their cottage stood, close on its edge,
—Panting and breathless he beheld his darling.
With all the little strength that age had left,
[Page 32] He hasten'd to receive her. What his dread!
When at his feet he saw the Princess drop,
Exclaiming, as she fell, in fainting voice,
Father! ALMANZOR! King!—The fear-struck Monarch,
Unable from the mossy grass to raise
Its lovely burden, sinking by her side,
Strove by his tears, and fond paternal voice,
To rouse her torpid sense, and wake her soul.
Not guessing at th'extremity of woe,
Which soon must burst upon his hoary head,
He thought some frightful reptile had surpris'd,
And chill'd, with female fears, her tim'rous mind.
But, oh! how short a while his fate allow'd
This soft delusion! Through the night's still air
The sound of human voices, and the clank
Of iron hoofs, reveal'd a scene at once,
That almost shook his soul from her frail tenement.
The Gallic leader of the Moorish band,
(And sure no soil but Gallia's could produce
A Knight thus treach'rous, thus completely form'd
To guide a project hatch'd in nether hell!)
Mark'd with his eye OSMIDA's flying course.
Courage! he cry'd—as the base slaves advanc'd:
All our past trouble, and our long fatigues,
This happy hour repays. OSMIDA's found!
Found at the instant that my famish'd hopes
Scarce lent a ray to guide me in the chace.
When, through the tissu'd thicket, to my eye
The friendly moon reveal'd her, hope prophetic
Call'd her OSMIDA—yet my eager tongue
I dar'd not with that hope intrust, lest Fear
Should draw her veil upon the dangerous truth.
In prayer she was employ'd; which instant taught me
[Page 33] That piety must be the bait to snare her,
—So won her confidence, and read her heart.
Allah be prais'd! rejoin'd a bearded Infidel,
Freedom is ours—ZORADOR's favour thine!
But, Christian, art thou sure thou hast beheld
ALMANZOR's Daughter? One fair maid, alas!
We have already to our master borne
For her he sought, and scarce with life escap'd,
So fierce and rageful was ZORADOR's anger!
The Princess, self-acknowledg'd, said the Knight,
Fled from this spot, scar'd at my bugle's sound.
A cottage, somewhere in the sombrous forest,
Conceals the trembler, and her aged Sire.
I mark'd the road she took, and now will guide you
To those who will not hail us—welcome guests.
Thus speaking, he push'd onwards through the wood,
And soon espy'd the little peaceful dwelling,
In which, for seven long months, the exil'd King
Had sigh'd his anguish to the passing winds.
Upon the earth they saw the hoary Monarch,
Supporting on his knee the drooping head
Of his unhappy child: his hands were clasp'd,
And rais'd towards that Heav'n which now allow'd
Sorrow to drain her vial on his brow.
This moving picture, e'en DE COURCI's eye
Could scarcely see, with pity unsuffus'd.
Skill'd in deceit, and hiding a bad heart
With all the polish learnt in faithless courts,
He, with an air so meek, approach'd ALMANZOR,
As though he sought him only to bewail
The sad events that shut him from the world.
The King, perhaps, had yielded for a moment
[Page 34] To the delusive hope his look inspir'd,
Had not the group of Moors—who yet approach'd not,
Explain'd the dreadful purport of the visit.
Unhappy Monarch! said the soft-tongued Knight,
Much it afflicts me that my barb'rous fortune,
From all ZORADOR's court, DE COURCI chose
T'explore the sacred spot of your retirement.
Had not the tyrant at his hateful nod
Devoted Moors enough, and callous slaves,
Us'd to the work of infamy and guilt,
But I, a Christian knight, must be selected,
To guide an enterprise so curst?—Oh Fate!
Thou never loadedst me with ills till now!
The King, experienc'd in mankind, saw through
The thin disguise of this most florid speech:
He saw the serpent in the spicy shrub;
—He saw the villain in the gentle eye.
Not deigning a reply, he bent his head
O'er the reviving Princess. Oh, OSMIDA!
Exclaim'd th'afflicted Prince, thy beating pulse,
Thy dear returning breath is now unwelcome.
Rather I'd see those eyes for ever clos'd,
This flutt'ring heart fixt by Death's potent voice,
Than thus receive thee back again to life.
The royal Virgin's scarce-recover'd faculties
Announc'd themselves in fears: "Oh! let us fly,
My Father!—let us fly!" she murmur'd forth:
"We are pursu'd—the Knight! the wiley Knight!"
Pursued, indeed! replied the weeping King;
Pursued and caught. O! my heart's dear OSMIDA!
They have us in their toils—we're lost! we're lost!
Rous'd at this dreadful sound, the waken'd Princess,
[Page 35] Starting, threw round her eyes—they met DE COURCI's!
A grave-sent spectre, in the deep of night,
Scarce gives such horror to the shrinking sinner,
As did DE COURCI's form, to shock'd OSMIDA.
Speechless, she hid her face, and clasp'd her father;
Who strove t'inspire a calm his heart disown'd.
The polish'd villain, who the blackest crimes
With impoliteness could not stain, withdrew,
That the bewailing mourners, unrestrain'd,
Might pour their anguish in each other's breast.
—Vain were the task, to paint th'impassion'd scene
Which grief, and fear, and thousand racking thoughts,
With glowing horrors, all conspir'd to fill.
The courteous Knight, observing where he stood,
That the first torrent of their grief was spent,
Ventur'd again t'approach the wretched pair.
Pardon, illustrious Prince! he cried, the slave,
Whom harsh necessity, alas! compels
To stop your converse with your beauteous Daughter.
ZORADOR—he, who knows no law but will,
The smallest breach of whose commands, the rack,
Or more inevitable death awaits—
—Ordain'd, that soon as your retreat was found,
A moment to delay should not be giv'n;
But instant! maugre circumstance, or tears,
That we should bear to their forsaken home
Th'unwilling Princess, and her royal Sire.
Now, if it please you, we must leave this desert,
For haunts more fitted to your royal rank.
This mock'ry of respect, return'd the King,
To those whom you command, adds points to insult.
Our masters you; then treat us as your slaves!
[Page 36] The only boon I can descend to ask,
Is, that my Daughter, in this fatal journey,
May not be torn from me. From thee! ah, no,
Precipitant exclaim'd the royal Maid.
Together let us go, whate'er our fate!
Still let my filial voice my Father cheer,
And pierce the night of his collected sorrows!
DE COURCI seem'd to pause, when strait a Moor,
Of port superior to the rest, thus answer'd—
It is our Sovereign's will, that you, fair Lady!
Should hold no converse with your princely Sire,
'Till your arrival in your native city.
Doubt not, but then, each boon you ask, and all
Your fruitful fancy can devise, our master,
Gracious to charms like yours, will grant with rapture.
When Beauty sues, he knows not to deny.
What then will be your Beauty's pow'r? You—
The King, impatient and enrag'd, broke in
Upon the Moor. Cease, Saracen! he cried,
Nor dare thus violate my Daughter's ears!
Or thou shalt find, that in a desert, old,
—Unarm'd, ALMANZOR is a King. Lead on!
And since high Heav'n ordains, thy impious Master
Should hold the balance of our fate, obey
His harsh command! tear us asunder! yes!
Drag from the old man's heart, the last sole joy
His woes had left to save him from despair.
Plunge me at once in horror's deep abyss.
Not long—not long, my friends, will you afflict me.
A show'r of tears, that down his furrow'd cheeks
Upon the bosom of OSMIDA fell,
Ended a speech—which men steel'd by long use
[Page 37] Against the touching voice of heav'n-born pity,
Could not unsoften'd hear; but strove to palliate
To their own hearts, in coarse-spun sophistry,
The baseness of their voluntary task.
Sprightly Aurora looking through the clouds,
Which blush'd with pleasure at her near approach,
Chas'd from the hemisphere the pale-ey'd moon,
—Who had so sweetly shone, she seem'd 'till now
The morning's counterfeit. But Oh! to mis'ry
Whether the pale-ey'd Moon, or sprightly Morn,
Or Sun refulgent leads the passing hours;
All, all alike, they undistinguish'd roll,
One cheerless chaos, one impervious gloom.
If to DE COURCI, and the wond'ring Moors,
OSMIDA lovely seem'd—how lovely now!
When bright'ning day disclos'd her to their view,
One blaze of charms—charms of that tender cast,
Which sorrow did not sully, but become!
Her polish'd form was graceful as the antelope's;
Her air majestic, as the sailing eagle's—
When 'mongst the fleecy clouds he gently waves,
And views high Skiddaw, like a shrub below.
Her face a Raphael would have caught, to form
A young Madonna, bending o'er her Child
With brow serene, and love-distilling eyes.
Her locks—such locks as Nature only gives
Once in an age, to perfect some rare beauty,
Seem'd like a golden veil—part hung before,
Shading a polish'd neck; which look'd, between
The burnish'd threads, like purest ivory
Through gilded net-work: part the Zephyrs snatch'd,
Playing enamour'd in the beauteous toils:
[Page 38] The rest in dropping ringlets fell behind,
And kiss'd the foldings of her flowing robe.
Such was the Princess; whom a Moor now seiz'd,
And on DE COURCI's steed securely fix'd.
A silken sash, held by the treach'rous Knight,
Pass'd through OSMIDA's girdle, and enchain'd
The mourning Virgin, and her deadliest foe.
Upon another steed was plac'd ALMANZOR,
Behind a guiding Moor. This was the state
The kingdom's Monarch, and the kingdom's Heir,
Were now constrain'd to use. No pompous guards,
No blessing populace, no proud grandees,
Their steps attend;—but oh! how small that grief,
Weigh'd with the horrid fears, the tort'ring doubts,
Which fill their bosoms, and absorb their thoughts!
The leafy desert—which so long had seem'd
A cheerless prison to th' illustrious pair
—They quit, with aching hearts, and heavy sighs.
Its solitary shades—how welcome, now!
Its humble turf-form'd cot, its devious glades,
Its choral groves, they would with rapture greet,
And hail them, as the dear abodes of Peace.
But these they have for ever—ever left;
And soon the forest's verdant roof grows dun
Upon the distant eye. The eager Moors,
With spur and slacken'd reins, kept pouring on,
Leaving whole leagues obscur'd with floating dust.
The royal Prisoners, scarcely with a glance,
Can speak a thought, much less converse, and share,
With kind participance, each other's woe.
Thus they continued through untrodden wilds,
Whose savage echoes never yet had learnt
To imitate the cordial voice of man:
[Page 39] —The churning boar, and howling midnight wolves,
Had taught them all the language that they knew.
At length the Sun, behind the western mountains,
Hid his pervading eye: the humid Eve
Led on her deep'ning shades, to quench the thirst,
The fev'rish orb had left, on plants and flow'rs.
The Moors now strain their wistful eyes,
To meet some woodland, or some shelt'ring cave,
In which to court their strength-restoring sleep.
The last they found—it seem'd t'have been the haunt
Of fierce banditti—or more peaceful home
Of some sequester'd hermit; for its floor
The chissel's edge had smooth'd, and its low roof
Was rudely fashion'd to a semi-dome.
Here the sad trav'lers were allow'd the rest
Which through the fervid day they'd ask'd in vain.
The Princess, whose soft limbs were not inur'd
To such extreme fatigue, sunk lifeless down,
Soon as her feet had touch'd the solid earth.
The aged King, with scarce more strength, approach'd
To catch his falling Child—The flinty floor
Receiv'd them both—OSMIDA and her Sire.
With care officious, the attending slaves
The duties of humanity perform'd.
The Princess they recover'd; and a spot,
With their own garments, spread, to form a seat
Less rig'rous than the rock, for its high inmates.
Parch'd corn, sun-candied grapes, and racy wine,
They plac'd, respectfully, before the King:
Exhausted Nature crav'd the cordial draught;
Whilst to her Sire's request OSMIDA yielded,
And of the patriarchal feast partook.
DE COURCI and the Moors dar'd not resign
Their heavy lids to sleep, but in rotation.
Two, the cave's entrance guarded; and the third,
Plac'd near ALMANZOR, interruption gave,
Whene'er the royal Parent and his Child
Strove to beguile the melancholy hours
With such sad converse as their griefs allow'd.
This had ZORADOR order'd, lest OSMIDA
Should from her Father catch more fortitude
T'oppose his furious passion, than he thought
A female could possess. Celestial chastity
He held a phantom bred from Custom's laws,
And that the magic of licentious love
Could melt its airy form—for now he meant
T'assert a conqu'ror's rights, and place the Princess
—Not on a Throne, but 'mongst his fav'rite slaves,
And make her Sov'reign of his loose seraglio.
Constrain'd to silence; Sorrow's blest physician
Stole by degrees upon their aching eyes.
O soft enchanter, Sleep! why did Idolaters
Ne'er build thee temples? Thee, whose sweet dominion
Boundless extends, wherever Nature breathes!
Thee, in whose arms Anguish forgets her throbs;
Chill Want, the nipping blast; and wild Despair
Finds gleams of comfort—I sing Paeans to thee, Sleep!
Scarce had the mettled coursers of the Morn
Brought her gay chariot to th'horizon's edge,
And coif'd the mountains with her ruddy gold,
—Ere prompt DE COURCI, and the watching Moors,
Flew to caparison their grazing steeds.
Returning quick, they rous'd their torpid fellows,
[Page 41] And last awak'd OSMIDA and the King.
What an awakening! Touch not, O my pen!
Upon the catching theme! Of woe enamour'd,
Thou'lt hang too long upon the tears, the sighs,
The grief-fraught words, with which they hail'd the day.
—Events more active ask thy little skill.
Some hours they had pursu'd their steady course,
When, from a coppice bord'ring on the road,
An armed troop rush'd forth. So quick their motion,
DE COURCI's band, ere they beheld their danger,
Were in a circle drawn—more dreadfully portentous,
Than wand of witch or wizard ever form'd.
The gallant Knight, who at his girdle wore
Unwilling beauty, seem'd at once the object.
Three vizor'd warriors at his stirrups stood;
Two held their lances to his throat; the third
Destroy'd the magic zone which held the Princess,
And snatch'd her instant from DE COURCI's side.
With such dispatch was this atchievement made,
The Knight had scarcely drawn to save his prize,
Ere he beheld her ravish'd from his arms
—And at a distance from th'astonish'd troop.
Turning, with fury, on his foes—who thus
Had all his splendid hopes reft from his heart,
He rais'd his arm, and aim'd a pond'rous sword,
Where guiltless it could not have fall'n; when instant
His unpois'd body, with Herculean force,
Was to the earth propell'd: breathless he lay,
And trampling steeds soon fix'd him to the spot,
From whence th'unhappy youth ne'er rose again.
The Moors, undaunted at their leader's fate,
Sustain'd th'assailant's shock, as if resolv'd
Their pris'ners and their lives should both be lost,
[Page 42] Or undivided kept. Two forc'd their way
Towards the spot where, guarded by her Knight,
The Princess stood; three of the foe pursu'd,
And made the path which led to her, the road
To death inglorious. The remaining Saracens
Fought as those fight, who, knowing they must die,
Resolve the victors shall buy conquest dearly.
But he who at his crupper held the King,
More fiercely than the rest—more madly fought.
His fellows too hemm'd in the struggling Monarch;
And, turning to the Prince their horses haunches,
Form'd with their spears a threat'ning glory round him.
When he who held him—watching for the moment,
Broke from the rest, and on the distant winds
Seem'd borne away. The demon who presides
O'er evil acts, and aids the deeds that most
Partake of Hell—surely his steed impell'd,
And brac'd his sinews with unnatural vigor.
His fiery eye, darting o'er hills and plains,
Scarcely outstripp'd his hoofs; the vales, the woods,
His glance devour'd, were in an instant left
Behind his feath'ry heels, that onward prest—
Whilst the pursuing, stretching, mad'ning foe,
Beheld new hills, new plains, new woods, arise
Between their coursers and their ravish'd Prince.
Meanwhile OSMIDA, in amazement lost,
Beheld herself unchain'd, and yet not free.
Those who had held her pris'ne [...], she saw slain;
But who are these, who risk, thus gallantly,
Their lives for her and the dethroned King?
Perchance new masters; perhaps again they're slaves.
Scarce had this question, in her whirl of thought,
Had time to firm itself, ere at her side
[Page 43] She saw the noble ARLOS.—Hence! vain fears.
The magic touch of hope her bosom swell'd,
And confidence chac'd ev'ry doubt away.
Raising the snowy veil which hid her face,
She beam'd a smile upon the loyal Knight,
That in his mind o'erpaid ten thousand dangers.
Fly, my best ARLOS! said the charming maid,
(As at her feet he knelt) and save the King!
See where he sits, unarm'd, amidst his foes!
Were he in safety, all my thoughts were peace.
The Knight up-springing, staid not to reply,
But instant hors'd, spurr'd onward to his troop:
His troop he join'd, but not till the rich prize
He flew to save, was ravish'd from his hopes.
Three of the band he instantly dispatch'd,
To stop the progress of the flying Saracen.
The few remaining Moors, urg'd by despair,
Still madly fought, preferring present death
To the slow tortures, which they knew their Tyrant
Would fail not to inflict, on those who lost
The beauteous object of his brutal love.
Their wish they soon receiv'd, and their freed spirits
Sought the eternal shores. The Princess now
Remain'd sole object of the cares of ARLOS.
With eager speed he sought the trembling maid,
Who saw her Parent borne o'er distant wilds,
And in that sight lost ev'ry new-born comfort.
Her tears bedew'd the senseless earth; her cries
Rent Heaven, and her unconscious feet mov'd quick
Towards the course, in which she saw her Father.
ARLOS, in soothing terms, implor'd the fair-one
To moderate her grief. Doubtless, he cried,
The gallant youths, who now pursue the Moor,
[Page 44] Will not pursue the flying slave in vain.
They know the mazy roads—each devious path,
Each secret turning—and will meet the villain
When least he can suspect his danger. Now,
Sweet Princess! to my castle let me lead you.
There, if not happier, yet at least securely
Your tears you may indulge, and feed your sorrows.
Scarce sensible to what was urg'd, OSMIDA
Allow'd herself once more upon a steed
To be replac'd: her horseman, noble ARLOS;
Who through morasses, underwoods, and roads
Almost impervious, brought his royal ward
In safety to his mansion. Oh! how blest
This moment had appear'd, had the same roof
That shelter'd her, been shelter to her Father!
That solace wanting, others lost their taste.
Her sorrows to suspend, ARLOS related
Events that yet could not have reach'd her ear.
The faithful GONZALES, he told the Princess,
Suspected by ZORADOR, bore the rack
With undiminish'd courage, nor confest,
—Though life was promis'd, and immense rewards,
The place of her retreat: that he, Lord ARLOS,
By wiles and arts, the jealous Tyrant blinded,
Who held him truest servant of the Christians.
Thus, unsuspected, he had watch'd the roads
Which led towards her forest; with his life
To rescue from the Moors the royal [...]gitives,
If fate malevolent should e'er betray them.
Another tale in pity he with-held:
That the curst Moor, insatiate in revenge,
Had caus'd MONTENOS' Father, Duke Medina,
[Page 45] To die upon the block—on stale pretence,
That he had form'd a plot to wrest the crown.
His family he banish'd, their rich lands
Confiscate made—and yet the Tyrant liv'd!
As the sad Princess heard, with growing horror,
Repeated acts of cruelty scarce human;
The Knights return'd who had pursued her Father.
It was enough: she saw them pass the gates,
Without the King; no circumstance was needful;
None could her anguish lessen—none her woe increase.
Their tale scarce won attention. Much they talk'd
Of hot pursuit, and of the villain's speed;
—That once his flagging courser rais'd their hopes,
When sudden on a neighb'ring plain appear'd
A troop of Spahies in a mock engagement:
The Saracen gain'd vigor at the sight;
Whilst those who follow'd, measur'd back their road,
Knowing the ruin of their Lord inevitable,
Should they, his faithful vassals, be discover'd.
Vain were th'attempts of ARLOS, to dispel
The deep distress which seiz'd OSMIDA's heart.
The sweetest words, e'er fram'd by consolation,
Were spent upon the air. The young ELVERA,
Sister to ARLOS, lent her infant aid
To chear the royal guest; and with soft prattle,
—Kissing the drowning roses on her cheek,
Strove to divide her sorrow-fixt attention.
But, oh! her Father was a wretched captive:
What could abate the anguish of that thought?
In vain surrounding slaves watch'd ev'ry motion;
In vain the cielings rose on stately columns,
[Page 46] Forcing their grandeur on the awe-struck eye;
In vain the downy beds invited rest,
Beneath rich canopies imboss'd with gold.
Dearer the russet pillars of the forest,
Whose meeting branches canopied the earth
Where stood her lonely cot. Oh! dearer far
The humble couch on which her Father's head
Securely rested; where her ready hand
His pillow smooth'd, and filial cares excited
Sweeter slumbers! Who, now, will watch his sleep,
Or sooth his griefs to rest? Who waits his waking,
To cheer, with tender voice, the lengthen'd day?
So spoke the heart of the unhappy Princess.—
Now to the hospitable cares, her fate affords,
We leave the Mourner, and pursue the King.
END OF PART I.

LINES IN IMITATION OF COWLEY.

TOUCH'D by thy wit, my soul's on fire,
My bosom throbs with young desire.
What! though thy form I never saw,
Is there to man divulg'd a law
That only what he sees must touch his heart?
The vulgar rule I disallow,
And in my passion feel e'en now,
That wit, like beauty, gives the tender smart.
Methinks thy form I would not know,
Nor to thy face the pleasure owe
Of these delicious melting pains,
Which when a mortal once attains,
He knows the greatest bliss for man design'd.
No, to my fancy I'll apply,
There find thy form, thy air, thy eye,
And feast my frenzy with a zest refin'd.
When in a pensive mood I sit,
And Melancholy takes her fit,
Mild, tender, soft, thou shalt appear,
Like the first blossoms of the year:
But when in brisker tides my spirits run,
L'Allegro shall the pencil take,
Describe thy look, thy step, thy make,
And shew thee lively as bright MAIA's son.

A MONOLOGUE.

OCHATTERTON! for thee the pensive song I raise,
Thou object of my wonder, pity, envy, praise!
Bright Star of Genius!—torn from life and fame,
My tears, my verse, shall consecrate thy name!
Ye Muses! who around his natal bed
Triumphant sung, and all your influence shed;
APOLLO! thou who rapt his infant breast,
And, in his daedal numbers, shone confest,
Ah! why, in vain, such mighty gifts bestow
—Why give fresh tortures to the Child of Woe?
Why thus, with barb'rous care, illume his mind,
Adding new sense to all the ills behind?
Thou haggard! Poverty! whose cheerless eye
Transforms young rapture to the pond'rous sigh;
In whose drear cave no Muse e'er struck the lyre,
Nor Bard e'er madden'd with poetic fire;
Why all thy spells for CHATTERTON combine?
His thought creative, why must thou confine?
Subdu'd by thee, his pen no more obeys,
No longer gives the song of ancient days;
Nor paints in glowing tints from distant skies,
Nor bids wild scen'ry rush upon our eyes—
Check'd in her flight, his rapid genius cowers,
Drops her sad plumes, and yields to thee her powers.
Behold him, Muses! see your fav'rite son
The prey of WANT, ere manhood is begun!
The bosom ye have fill'd, with anguish torn—
The mind you cherish'd, drooping and forlorn!
And now Despair her sable form extends,
Creeps to his couch, and o'er his pillow bends.
Ah, see! a deadly bowl the fiend conceal'd,
Which to his eye with caution is reveal'd—
Seize it, APOLLO!—seize the liquid snare!
Dash it to earth, or dissipate in air!
Stay, hapless Youth! refrain—abhor the draught,
With pangs, with racks, with deep repentance fraught!
Oh, hold! the cup with woe ETERNAL flows,
More—more than Death the pois'nous juice bestows!
In vain!—he drinks—and now the searching fires
Rush through his veins, and writhing he expires!
No sorrowing friend, no sister, parent, nigh,
To sooth his pangs, or catch his parting sigh;
Alone, unknown, the Muses' darling dies,
And with the vulgar dead unnoted lies!
Bright Star of Genius!—torn from life and fame,
My tears, my verse, shall consecrate thy name!

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