He spoke, and speaking every bosom fired. From one to one the patriot ardour flows, As on the ruffled deep the watery circle grows.
First rose his generous son, Adolphus named, } For martial sports and manly courage famed, } A youth, who once in war the palm of honour claimed: } And thus express'd his mind: "To-morrow's dawn Will see assembled on our spreading lawn The chiefs of Dalecarlia's mountain-land, With all their following train, a countless band. To that vast crowd let some bold youth proclaim } Eternal war on Denmark's hated name, } And say, "From Mora's chiefs this martial challenge came." } Their valiant clans will gather at the sound, And squadrons people all the dales around. Oh! did one fearless heart, of those who died When reeking Stockholm pour'd a crimson tide, Did one, but one, remain, his country's shield, To lead our warriors to the deathful field; Then might the angry king his legions tire, Waste on these rocks his ineffectual ire, Scowl at his freeborn foes, and vainly try To plant his silken standards in our sky!"
Struck with the welcome thought, from man to man Mingled with praise, assenting murmurs ran Unequal—So in night's tempestuous roar The waves successive lash the stony shore. The bold advice, by inexperience moved, All seem'd applauding, yet not all approved; And old Adalfi thus: "Tho' hopes remain; } Tho' dauntless rashness may oft-times attain } What wisdom's wiliest arts had sought in vain; } He, whose wild counsels risk a nation's fate, For public fame, may meet with public hate. Perhaps, ev'n now, to the victorious Dane Dalarne has yielded half her rich domain: Shall we to Denmark's slaves our hopes disclose, And court with frantic haste Oppression's rushing woes?— Oft have our sires the work of war delay'd, 'Till signs aerial promised heavenly aid; Oft pitch'd their idle lances in the plain, While south-winds held their unpropitious reign. Remember too the word disclosed from high, The sacred word of ancient prophecy,— "When gather'd mists from Denmark's sky shall crowd, And blot the North with one continued cloud, Then shall a second sun to Sweden rise, And with unchanging glory gild her skies." Reflect on this, and let my words have way, Nor spurn the needful counsels of delay. Should all our province with united strength Assail the foe, the foe may yield at length, And backward shrink, while in the favouring hour All Sweden aids us with collective power. The hope that yet remains our care should guard, Nor blast by rashness, nor by fears retard. Ere yet the assembled chiefs our fate decide, Let chosen spies among the council glide, To every speech a listening ear incline, And sound each heart, and fathom each design. Let the skill'd augur Heaven's high will explore, And all with suppliant fear Heaven's Lord adore: So may success our fearless efforts guide, And Heaven auspicious fight on Sweden's side.— But see! the red-haired sun to ocean bends, And purple twilight on the heath descends. Haste to your homes—shake anxious care away, And, fresh with slumber, wait the long laborious day."
Adalfi spoke; and bade ere noon of night With sacred spells and many a mystic rite Invoke the Power Divine, and seek from high The dark events of dread futurity.
Thus they; while, stretch'd beneath the sheltering wood, The son of Eric thus his thoughts pursued.
"Yes—'tis decreed! in heaven's recording hall Her guardian Spirit wrote my country's fall. When first red faction burn'd thro' all her shore, And icy Meler blush'd with civil gore, Our ills began. As whirling Maelstrom sweeps The shrieking sailor to the boundless deeps, Wide and more wide the increasing ruin grew, And all our hopes into its vortex drew. In vain the statesman thro' laborious days Piled plan on plan, and maze involved in maze; In vain Sueante, and either Stenon, fought; In vain my arm a transient succour brought: Almighty Fate on all our labours frown'd, Athwart each scheme the thread of error wound, Our efforts with an unseen chain controll'd, Perplex'd the prudent, and dismay'd the bold. Fate urges on—Her adamantine shield Protects our destined Conqueror in the field; To his own seas by War and Famine driven, Furious he mounts, nor heeds the frowns of heaven: Fresh hosts appear, unnumber'd standards rise, From town to town his gather'd vengeance flies, His banner each ambitious prelate rears, In arms for him each factious Lord appears. Still, as around the blackening tempest grew, From cloud to cloud my ardent spirit flew, Watch'd every gleam of sunshine as it pass'd, And hoped the darkness would dissolve at last: But Time now hasten'd to the dread event!— In fruitless toil my days, my nights were spent; Our chiefs deputed felt the treacherous chain, And faith was lost, and victory was vain.
"Saved from the captive crowd for death designed, Many a dark month, in slavery's gloom I pined. To seek, with hopeless eyes, my native ground; To hear, in thought, the din of battle sound; To watch each passing beam, and think it falls On slaughter'd armies and unpeopled walls, Was all my life—Suspense still waved a dart Of death-like terror o'er my throbbing heart.— I was not there, when thou, my Stenon, fell, To cheer thee with a soldier's kind farewell, At once to lay thy base betrayer low, And pour full vengeance on the astonished foe! Thy spirit, from its earthly home released, Thy patriot spirit entered in my breast; That soul ev'n now my toil-worn bosom fires, Prompts every deed, and every wish inspires!— Stung with fresh hope, I burst the involving chain, } Sought the sad relics of my friends in vain, } And roam'd o'er Sweden's now subdued domain. } As the swift flame alike unquench'd remains In air's clear space, and earth's dark cavern'd veins, Thro' every change burn'd on my great design; The crowded trade-ship, and the starless mine, The forest now, and now the mountain-cave, From following foes alternate refuge gave. Now my bold purpose boldly I pursued, Call'd Sweden's sons to arms, and all my hopes renew'd; Now the thick storm of danger shunn'd, and fled To hide in darkness my devoted head: Now fierce to conquer, now content to live, A patriot now, and now a fugitive. Thro' province, town, and hamlet, on I pass'd, Where virtue, or where freedom, yet might last; With keen reproach the lagging spirit fired, The weak with hope, the bold with praise inspired. But all was changed! and Sweden but a name! Her rocks and mountains only were the same!
"In toil and danger nurs'd, the peasants cried— 'Hence, mighty victor! o'er the Baltic tide; To other realms thy noisy projects bear, Nor vex our humble state with hope and fear: Whoe'er is master, we are still forgot, And harmless poverty is still our lot.' They spoke, and shunn'd me, as a rebel hurl'd By Heaven's red vengeance from the starry world. Yet, as they turn'd, a deep, a long-drawn sigh Deplored their ruined joys and ravish'd liberty: They wept for blessings once bestow'd in vain, And mourn'd the good they hoped not to regain. The venal noble spurn'd me from his board, Or 'midst his smiles suborn'd the treacherous sword: While the proud prelate and his titled foe, } (As reconciled by fellowship in woe) } Alike resolved no patriot Swede to know. } All, all was Christiern's—and the haughtiest fear'd That voice, her peasants late with scorn had heard. Alone amidst my country's wreck I stood, A little bark surrounded by the flood, And hung suspended o'er the rolling wave, Whose every surge disclosed a gaping grave. 'Tis time to give superfluous toils a close, And seek the friendly haven of repose. To foreign realms I fly, a peaceful guest: Ev'n Denmark's friends will give Gustavus rest, An exiled youth with cheap protection shade, And glad with comfort him they dare not aid.
"What help, what hope to Sweden now remains? Imperial Charles with kindred power sustains Her fell oppressor: his o'erwhelming hosts Awe the wide North, and deluge Europe's coasts; Nor could our forces Pavia's victor brave, Tho' the fierce Dane were left without a slave. Still arm'd for battle, watchful Norbi sweeps With many a prow her subjugated deeps. Dark Trollio, deep in all the craft of hell, Who with one art a hundred hosts might quell, Conducts her foes: his active prudence schools The veteran leaders, and their courage rules. Unnumber'd legions swarm thro' all her coast, And scarce the land supports its conquering host. Experienced Otho o'er the troops presides, And parts their plunder, and their fury guides. Her trembling people, as when winds conspire To wrap some capital in clouds of fire, Now here, now there, for hopeless succour fly, Or, chill'd with dread, in pale submission lie. Ev'n Dalecarlia's fierce untutored train In arms a sullen slow defence maintain, Nor meet the foe; but from their summits dare His coming steps, and menace useless war. Soon will the hostile steel, wide-conquering, mow Their strength, and Sweden's last defence lie low. No more is left to fate: the fix'd decree Stands on the tablets of eternity: And many a towering empire may decay, } And many an age roll its slow years away, } Ere Freedom light again her once-extinguished ray. }
"Away with vain regrets, and useless tears! One labour more, one final task appears; From all my joys with calmness to depart, The last brave effort of a hero's heart: The smiles of partial Conscience to enjoy, Since erring Hope no longer can decoy, And, high on Resolution's pinions borne, Look down on fate, and all its evils scorn. Yes—o'er my head whatever sun may roll, Scorch'd at the line, or freezing at the pole, Still will I guard, untired, some righteous cause, Still shield some country's violated laws; And many a joy, that Christiern cannot taste, Shall cheer Gustavus thro' misfortune's waste. Enough for me, with honour to perform My destined course, and face the allotted storm; That done, who will may snatch the wreath of fame: Oblivion, close for ever on my name! The souls of heroes shall frequent my stone, In torrents buried, or with moss o'ergrown, And, while all else forget me, shall proclaim To kindred spirits their Gustavus' name.
"Ye faithful warriors, fearless hearts, farewell! Who fought with me, and for your country fell! O'er your cold dust I wept not; hurrying war Forbade all pause.—Yet, oh! whatever star, Sacred to patriot worth, and valour's crown, } Contain you now,—from heaven's bright noon look down, } Visit an exile's dreams, and blunt misfortune's frown! }
"Thou too, farewell! my country! since in vain I strove to snatch thee from the eternal chain; Thou, of whose glory future tongues shall tell, Mother of kings and heroes—fare thee well! What human thought and prudence could sustain, For thee I proved, and proved that all was vain; And could my single toils protection give, Armies might sleep, and Stenon yet might live. For thee I could refuse with fame to fall, } When glorious death stood ready at my call; } For thee I rush'd thro' ills, for thee despised them all. } Farewell!—thy rocks, thy skies, thy mountains blue, Where'er I turn, shall seem to meet my view; While Hope, unterrified by all the past, Shall pierce thro' future years, and view thee free at last!
"God of my sires! if studious to fulfill In every point thy uncontested will, I long have struggled, careless to escape, With ills of every size, of every shape; If still from Superstition's darkness free, My heart has breathed a purer prayer to thee, While erring millions with vain worship stained Thy holy altars, and thy praise profaned; If now, obeying thy implied command, I quit at length this long-disputed land: Assist me still!—and grant my native shore One hour of rest, one tranquil season more! Enough her ancient crimes have teem'd with woes; Let her long griefs be paid with short repose: Or, if I seek that kind reprieve in vain, Let future years, at least, dissolve her chain! Protect my honoured mother: and assuage The woes that wreck my sister's youthful age:— If yet on earth the beauteous flow'ret bloom, Or wither'd moulder in the silent tomb, I must not know—Enough—thy gracious will Divides, with equal measure, good and ill!— To them, if aught I merit, be it given; And grant them peace on earth, or bliss in heaven. I will not name them more—the mournful name Would damp with grief my soul's reviving flame. To safe retreats my fellow-patriots lead, Reward their labours, and their vows succeed; Nor let one soul repine he ever fought For virtuous praise, or deem it dearly bought!"
Scarce had he finish'd, when o'er rock and dell A sudden stream of yellow splendour fell, As if a star, with sunlike lustre crown'd, Dropp'd instantaneous thro' the blue profound. His heaving breast the joyful omen cheer'd, And now thro' parting clouds the moon appear'd.
Beneath her glimmering light the chief survey'd A stranger-youth advancing thro' the shade. His stately air, his gold-embroider'd vest, And towering step superior birth confess'd; But time, and mental storms, had changed a mien By godlike Vasa once with pleasure seen: Tho' recent hope and transport half effaced The lines, which sorrow had so lately traced.
Unaw'd by fear the courteous hero stood, And near the shady confines of the wood Now met the youth. "Whoe'er thou art," he cried, "Beneath our roof the tranquil morn abide: For see, the red stars rise, and all around The dew falls heavy on the silent ground."
"Hear, gallant guardian of an injured state!" (Replied the certain messenger of fate) "For well I know thee, once in battle seen: No length of years can change a hero's mien, Unalter'd as his soul; since in his lines The stamp of Heaven's own hand distinguish'd shines."—
On him, in speechless wonder, Vasa gazed: New feelings, by uncertain memory raised, Rose indistinct: now rage, he knew not why, Fired all his spirit; now the half-felt sigh Of ancient friendship in his breast renew'd, Urged its slow course, whilst thus the youth pursu'd:
"Ask not my name—lest rising wrath prevent My hurried speech, and hinder Heaven's intent.— Confined by Christiern's doom, I saw, with dread, The axe hang glaring o'er my fated head: Escaped, thro' nightly seas I held my way, 'Till starry midnight verged on purple day; When instant at my prow a form appear'd, Array'd in splendours, and the darkness cheer'd. Genius of Sweden (such his sacred name) From heaven's high arch the lucid herald came. He bade me instant cross the watery road, } And seek Gustavus in his dark abode, } Where swift Dal-Elbe thro' rocky mountains flow'd. } Then thus: "To him, Ernestus! is decreed To govern nations by his valour freed, Oppression's fiercest efforts to subdue, And at his feet contending factions view. Indignant Denmark mourns her laws o'erthrown, And spurns her monarch from his iron throne. Soon as Gustavus blows the loud alarms, Each town, each province will arise to arms; With Wermeland's tribes Westmania's shall unite, And Gothland's answering shouts provoke the fight. Bid him, who now in sluggish languor lies, Nor knows the favour of the indulgent skies, Rise and avenge! for him Heaven's laws ordain } The lengthen'd blessings of a peaceful reign, } And sons succeeding sons, his glory to maintain." } He spoke, and swifter than the falcon's flight The ship shot instant thro' the seas of night. The vision vanish'd from my earnest view, And o'er me sleep his drowsy mantle threw: 'Till, roused by morning's beam, my bark I steer'd Where full in sight your mountain-land appear'd, Cut thro' the bordering groves my rapid way, And reach'd your rural dome by close of day, Propitious Heaven my guide." While yet he spoke, In Vasa's breast the storm of fury woke: Each phrase accustomed, each familiar tone, Proclaim'd the wretch for daring treasons known. With giant grasp he seiz'd the youth, whose mind Nor hoped, nor sought to shun the death design'd; "And comest thou then, young veteran in deceit, To make thy work of perfidy complete, To earn by Vasa's death one title more, And revel in another patriot's gore?— And think'st thou still to flatter and deceive, By fables madness only can believe?— Thy wealth is useless now—this ruined state Has long in vain required her traitor's fate; She bids me, when I can, avenge her woes, And wreak her wrongs where'er I meet her foes! Brave Stenon quits the mansions of the dead, And calls down lightning on his murderer's head! Confirm my deed, ye all-attesting skies! Sweden! accept the grateful sacrifice That stains thy thirsty soil!" He spoke, and raised His long-tried sword; high o'er the youth it blazed— "Accept the sacrifice!" with voice serene The youth re-echoed, and unalter'd mien: When lo! that practised arm, which once could rear The ponderous mace, and couch the winged spear, That arm, by some superior force unsteel'd, Shook, and the sword dropp'd idly on the field. Again he raised the point; again essay'd To bury in his heart the reeking blade, When lo! a sudden whirlwind scour'd the sky, Seiz'd the descending falchion, and on high In whirling eddies bore it, while around Low thunders rattled thro' the heavens profound. Awhile in dumb suspense the hero stood; Then sought the falchion thro' the dusky wood, Resolved the seeming wonder to explore, And search the depths of fate's mysterious lore.
His changing mien the youth intent survey'd, And slowly follow'd thro' the winding shade.
[The Argument to the Fourth Book, of which this is only the commencement, will be found in the Notes.]
Observant of the deepening maze of fate, High on his throne of stars the Eternal sate: Whence his broad eyes the changeful earth survey'd, The rolling seas, the sun, the infernal shade, And all his worlds. In one collected beam Heaven's various rays around his temples gleam, Yet veil with dusky cloud the lustre pure, Whose fulness no archangel can endure. In bright obscurity he sits sublime, And tranquil looks thro' all the stream of time.
Around the throne a blue expanse of light Extended past the reach of angel sight; There heaven's superior spirits made abode, Foremost in power, and nearest to their God. Amidst the azure sea like stars they shone, And circled in an hundred orbs the throne. Those who o'er states preside, and those whose hand Sheds war, or peace, or famine o'er a land; Who guide the uncertain tempest in the pole, Watch the red comet, and the stars control.
Thro' the bless'd orders, as in ranks they rise, The Power on Earth's bright guardians turn'd his eyes. The attendant Spirit knew the mystic sign, For ever seated near the throne divine: He saw his sovereign's will by looks express'd, And Suecia's guardian angel thus address'd:
"Haste, faithful Spirit! to the nether skies, Where Dalecarlia's misty mountains rise: A Danish fort on the rude frontier stands, Pregnant with war, and all the land commands: With specious safety lull the band to rest, Unstring each nerve, and weaken every breast. The peasant-tribes with new-born strength inspire, Bid ev'n the fearful glow with martial fire, With sudden hope their cold despondence quell, And patriot grief with patriot ire dispel. Thence bend thy way to Denmark's stormy coast, Where princely Frederic heads his secret host. Let fears and jealousies each town alarm, And Denmark's boldest tribes for Frederic arm. That done, on Eric's hero-son attend, Each motion guide, and each design befriend; And to his sight in broader view unfold The bright events to young Ernestus told. Such be thy task: the rest in silence wait, 'Till changeful time shall work the will of fate."
Before the throne th' obedient Seraph bows, And veils the star that glitters on his brows; Then thro' the blue abyss impetuous flies Where starr'd with suns heaven's ample pathway lies, Its radiant limit: thro' that path he springs, And shoots smooth-gliding on refulgent wings.
Far in the void of heaven a secret way Leads from the mansions of empyreal day, That wanders devious from the road of light, And deepens gradual into central night: By this dim path he sought the dark profound Of utmost hell, Creation's flaming bound, Saw the far-distant gleam, and heard the roar Of dashing surges on the burning shore. With hasty steps he trod the deep descent, Thro' the gross air, that brighten'd as he went, And call'd a spirit from the gulphs below, Heaven's scourge, and minister of human woe. The summon'd fiend forsook the fiery wave, And Sweden's Genius thus his mandate gave:
"To Dalecarlia's tented fields repair, And seek the Danish host assembled there. With seeming safety and false hopes destroy Their watchful care, and melt them down to joy; And, while they sleep in the delusive charm, Unstring each nerve, and weaken every arm; So shall their fears, not Vasa, strike the blow, And ready Conquest meet the coming foe."
He spoke. Incumbent on the boundless night, To upper air they wing their echoing flight: Thence swift to earth their airy voyage bend, Where the cold North's unmeasured tracts extend: O'er pine-clad Norway's wilderness of snow, O'er the huge Dofrine's cloudy tops they go, Thro' many a fertile province urge their flight; And on Dal-Elbe's uncultured plains alight.
Thro' the majestic forest's leafy pride The murmurs of the recent tempest sigh'd, The shades of eve were closed, and pattering showers Shed added gloom o'er midnight's starless hours. Sleep in his downy car o'er Mora rode, And soft-winged Silence ruled the calm abode. Lull'd by the distant gale's unequal sound, The peasants press their beds, with rushes crown'd, From daily toil and fear a respite steal, And dream of joys the waking may not feel.
High blazing on the Danish castle's brow, The beacon redden'd all the fields below. From its tall battlements, o'er moat and dell, Chequering the light, uncertain shadows fell. On high, the warder tunes his martial song; The rocks, the dales, the cheerful notes prolong.
On a broad plain the rising structure stands, The work of Dalecarlia's mountain bands, In ancient years, ere Margaret ruled the clime, Majestic still it stands, and unimpair'd by time. The Western height primeval rocks inclose; Low-murmuring to the south a river flows: The rest with towers and tower-like works was crown'd, And cast a various shadow o'er the ground. Unnumber'd outworks, lessening by degrees, Sloped to the plain: wide quivering to the breeze The Danish standard, on the heights unrolled, Inflames the air with many a waving fold. Stupendous gates the massy fabric crown'd, That rough with iron studs impervious frown'd. Oft had the rocky cattle's rugged form From its steep sides roll'd off the martial storm: And whirlwinds, wasting all the neighbouring plain, Spent their loud anger on its walls in vain. Lofty it stood, impregnated with war, And seem'd a craggy mountain from afar.
Fast by a fire, whose half-extinguished rays Shot here and there a fluctuating blaze, The warriors' languid eyes in slumber closed; Their arms, beside them, gleam'd as they reposed. The guards alone, still cautious of surprise, } Watch'd at each gate, and gazing on the skies, } Repell'd unwilling slumber from their eyes. }
Five hundred Danish youths this post maintain'd, To fight alike, and hardy ravage train'd; Prepared the fiercest mountain-host to dare, And dash from many a battlement the war; Prepared to hurl the whizzing lance, to pour The missive flame, or dart the arrowy shower: Young Eric the selected squadron led, Count Bernheim's son, in camps and contests bred; A fiery spirit, never at a stay, With martial projects teeming night and day; Alike by terror, pity, and remorse Untouch'd, he held, thro' crimes, his fearless course; Proud, like his king, to conquer and oppress, In action rash, and haughty with success.
While thus deep slumber half the troop oppress'd, And ev'n the waking found a pause of rest, The joyful demon, with malignant look, O'er all the host his sable mantle shook. Instant before the slumbering soldier's eyes Dreams of past joy and sweet illusions rise: And he whose ardent spirit late engaged In airy wars, and bloodless battles waged, A mountain-chief in every vision slew, And on the yielding rear still foremost flew, Now, sudden, sees each fading phantom changed, Feels every care and thought from war estranged, Seeks the lost quiet of his native shore, And mourns the lengthen'd toils, he gloried in before: Burns with impetuous pleasure's feverish fire, Or trembles in the tumult of desire. The drowsy watch a sullen vigil keep, And scarce oppose the invading hand of sleep. Ev'n Eric, watchful still, and us'd to bear His destined weight of military care, Ev'n Eric feels his soul's wild tumult fled, And bows to softer sleep his restless head. Before him visionary glories roll, And fancied victories dilate his soul.
Here, to complete his task, low-hovering stay'd The fiend; while, mingling with the nightly shade, Intent his generous purpose to fulfil, } The radiant herald of th' eternal will } Thro' the wide province flies, and darts from hill to hill. }
SONG FOR THE FOURTH BOOK OF GUSTAVUS VASA:
SUPPOSED TO BE HEARD BY A DALECARLIAN HERMIT.
Circling ages swept away Sweden's kings of ancient sway, And hid their race from sight: Circling ages bring again To that race the long-lost reign, And Time revokes his flight. Their star shall rise with brighter beam From slumbering in the ocean-stream.
Dalecarlia, grasp the spear! Hail thy great Deliverer near, To alter Sweden's doom! Born to raise her darken'd name, Heir of all her former fame, And source of all to come, Past and future glories shine Centred in the youth divine.
Sweden, rise! I bid thee brave, Unappall'd, War's dubious wave, 'Till the doom'd period close! War in vain shall spend his rage, Prelude to a peaceful age That shall redress his woes. Sweden! rouse thy martial band; 'Tis thy Guardian Power's command!
When the slow-emerging sun First dispels the shadows dun, And his whole circle rears: When the north-wind's stormy breath Shakes the mountain, sweeps the heath, The clouded ether clears: Own the signal of the sky! Hail the great Deliverer nigh!
THE RIVER TICINUS:
FROM THE FOURTH BOOK OF SILIUS ITALICUS.
Coeruleas Ticinus aquas et stagna vadoso Perspicuus servat turbari nescia fundo, Ac nitidum viridi late trahit amne liquorem: Vix credas labi; ripis tam mitis opacis, Argutos inter volucrum certamina cantus, Somniferam ducit lucenti gurgite lympham.
* * * * *
Thro' these fair scenes the smooth Ticinus glides, And in soft murmurs rolls his slumbering tides: No mud disturbs the mirror calm and deep; The clouds upon its stilly bosom sleep: The varied beauties of the flowery scene Chequer the azure light, and paint the floods with green. Scarce seems the wave to roll, so sweetly flows The tranquil stream, inviting soft repose: While on its side, in tuneful contest gay, Their mellow notes the feather'd songsters play.
JUPITER THUNDERING IN DEFENCE OF ROME:
FROM THE TENTH BOOK.
Ipse refulgebat Tarpeiae culmine rupis, Elata quatiens flagrantia fulmina dextra, Jupiter, ac lati fumabant sulphure campi, Et gelidis Anio trepidabat coerulus undis: Et densi ante oculos iterumque iterumque tremendum Vibrabant ignes....
* * * * *
High on the rock, the God, with furious look, From side to side his burning thunder shook: Now here, now there, the scattering lightnings broke, And the wide vallies flamed, and glowed with sulphurous smoke: Contagious terror roll'd from plain to plain; Cold Anio trembled in his watery reign; And dazzled by the withering flames, o'eraw'd, The chief shrunk back, and own'd the present God.
FRAGMENT, IN IMITATION OF WALTER SCOTT.
Where are the kings of ancient sway? Where are the terrors of their day, The chiefs that with glory bled? Soon, soon their little sun was o'er; And, hurried to oblivion's shore, Their very names are fled! Yet can the Muse from fate redeem Her favourites here below; Can check Time's all-devouring stream In its eternal flow; Can catch the quickly-passing beam, And bid it for ever glow!
The darkly-gathering clouds of night Had quench'd the red remains of light; O'er the hill and o'er the plain She held her dim and shadowy reign, And the distant billows of the main In boundless darkness roll'd. O'er land and sea, it was silence all, No breezes waved the pine-wood tall, Or swept the lonely wold: The murmurs of the lake had died, The reeds upon its plashy side No rustling motion felt; But o'er the world, as life were fled, As Nature thro' her world were dead, Portentous stillness dwelt.
On a rock of the sea young Carthon stood, And his lamp shone faint on the ocean-flood, As with both his hands he toiled to raise The seaward beacon's ruddy blaze: And aye the warrior, far and near, Explored the dark profound, And aye the warrior's cautious ear Was watching every sound; But the air of night was mirk and dread, And all was silent around his head.
At length, uncertain murmurs rose Athwart the billows grey, Breaking the night-air's still repose, And deepening on their way: He beard the dashing of the oar, And the long surge whitening to the shore; And now the broad-sailed bark appear'd, And now to the silvery beach it steer'd, And anchored in the bay.
"What news, what news of Lochlin's king?" The Chief of Lona cried: "Tidings of war and death I bring," The ocean-scout replied. "A dreadful vow has King Haquin vow'd, To spread in Albin his banners proud, Disperse o'er forest, field, and fold, His hundred troops of warriors bold, 'Till every rock with gore shall smoke, And every castle own the yoke. The keen remains of recent hate Yet burn thro' all the Northern state, And many an age's gather'd ire With added fury fans the fire.
"'Twas under the shade of dark midnight They met at his hall, in armour dight, The king and his chieftains proud; Their lances at their sides were hung, And the oak-tree, blazing 'midst the throng, Across the hall, with flashes long, A broad uncertain lustre flung, Like a red and shifting cloud. 'Twas here, to all before concealed, The Monarch his design revealed.
"Their answering clamours shook the ground, And Gormul's mountain far around From all his rocks flung back the sound. Pierced by the monarch, with struggling yell A bull at Odin's altar fell; The priest in a bowl received the gore, And round the troop the chalice bore. Eager, as he the wine-cup quaffed, Each chief caroused the sable draught,— The pledge of martial faith; And not a word the stillness broke, As thus, in turn, each chieftain spoke, With slow and solemn breath:
"'When the fiery-mantled Sun Sees the glorious fight began, He shall see its stubborn course Burn with unabated force! Swords shall clatter, javelins sing, Arrows whistle from the string, Not a step be turned to flight, Not a warrior wish for night, 'Till the burning star of day Quenches his declining ray In the darkness of the main, And throughout the purple plain, Heaped with slaughter, piled with death, Not a foeman draws his breath. He who well performs his vow, Monarch Odin, shield him thou! He who shrinks from hostile blow, Hela! scourge the wretch below In thy ninefold house of woe!'"
"O'er hill and field the war-drum peal'd, High flamed the beacon-flame, And each noble peer, from far and near, To Haquin's standard came. I saw ten thousand lances gleam Beneath the winter's swart sun-beam! They hide old Gormul's snow-capt height, They hide the craggy dell; And I hastened thro' the waves of night, The tidings of war to tell."
—Superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est.
'Twas night: the stars denied one cheering ray, And wrapp'd in clouds the lunar splendours lay. No lightest zephyr brush'd the silent floods, Or swept the bosom of the lofty woods: Each human heart the general calm confess'd; The childless sire had hush'd his cares to rest: And he, the victim of his country's laws, The base deserter of her awful cause, Whose eyes no more in earthly sleep shall close, } Yet sunk oppress'd, and drank in calm repose } A short, a deep oblivion of his woes. }
Diffusing verdure o'er a lonely glade, A fountain with eternal murmurs play'd: Hard by, an ancient forest's leafy brow Cast a brown horror o'er the stream below, On the green margin of the quiet flood, With looks of woe, a time-worn Exile stood: On the dim wave he cast a gloomy look, Then thus in low and troubled accents spoke:
"Dear native stream! and thou, thrice happy lawn! Where once I roved, in youth's first joyous dawn, While every wind a holy silence kept, And peaceful on the flood the sunbeam slept: I now return, and ask of your kind wave The last unenvied gift, a quiet grave! From scene to scene of varied misery toss'd, Each hope, each joy, each cheerful prospect lost, With cares and labours many a year oppress'd, I hail the dawn of everlasting rest! Tho' worn with sufferings, my distracted soul Scarce bows to former reason's firm controul, Ere yet I sink to death's secure repose, Once more let me retrace my ancient woes, And count those various pangs, which now shall cease In the calm bosom of unchanging peace.
"Smooth roll'd my vernal years, while on my head Fate's early smiles a meteor-lustre shed. No painful fear, no troubles, then had power To break the current of one peaceful hour. Oft as I trod the meadow's verdant round, Or pierced the echoing forest's gloomy bound, Or traced the willowy margin of the stream, Lost in the wildering maze of Fancy's dream, Before me Life's long years in prospect rose, By fears unbroken, undisturb'd by woes. Yes! I remember well,—my dizzy brain Feels those bright hours not yet effaced by pain: Still on my soul they cast a distant light, And gild with transitory gleams the night!
"Yet then, ev'n then, the powers of fate below Prepared for me their gather'd stores of woe: The tempest watch'd to blot my peaceful day, And silent in their beds the thunders lay!
"Short was my date of joy: the yawning tomb Snatch'd my loved parents to eternal gloom. With fearful awe my shuddering soul survey'd The untried path of misery display'd, Gazed wild upon Misfortune's unknown form, And watch'd the coming terrors of the storm.
"Soon burst the cloud, and far away was borne The last faint gleam of Life's deceitful morn. For fancied crimes expell'd my native shore, And doom'd alone to measure ocean o'er, I left those scenes where joy for ever reigns, Secure to find her on no other plains.
"Dark rose the morn: the wind in every wood Howl'd, and the meteors glancing o'er the flood Flash'd a portentous light. Before the gale With streaming eyes I spread my little sail: Swift o'er the sounding waves the vessel flew, Cliff after cliff receding from my view: Chill ran my heart—the swelling sails I furl'd, While yet emerging from the watery world One headland rose—O'er all the boundless main. } I cast my shuddering view—I wept in vain— } I wrung my hands in agonizing pain: } O'er my dim eyes increasing darkness hung, No low, faint murmurs, trembled on my tongue, A deadly torpor every limb oppress'd, Weak were my sinews, and unmann'd my breast: When lo! a voice, that struck my inmost heart, Seem'd, thro' the wavering storm, to cry, 'Depart!' Trembling with awe, I turn'd my aching view, And spread the flying sail, and o'er the billows flew.
"On foreign shores, to poverty resign'd, An exile, friendless and alone, I pined. Hope and Content inspired my toils no more; Alas! I left them on my native shore! Stern Want around me pour'd her chilling woes, And no faint beam, to cheer my winter, rose.
"At length, when years, with slow-revolving round, Had half assuaged my soul's eternal wound, And rural peace my humble efforts bless'd With one short calm of momentary rest; Sudden, the demons of tyrannic war } Whirl thro' our peaceful haunts his rapid car, } And waving standards kindle all the air: } In crackling heaps the flaming forests rise, The smoking cities darken half the skies. Thro' burning woods and falling towers I sprung, While torches hiss'd, and darts around me sung, And, still expectant of some happier time, Sought distant refuge in another clime.
"My term of sorrows came not: black Despair, And lawless Force, and shrinking Fear, were there. Woes, yet unfelt, were nigh;—fell Slavery shed Her night of sorrows on my hapless head: Doom'd each imperious order to fulfil, And watch a ruthless master's various will. Five years, exposed to unremitted pain, I languish'd there—'till Friendship broke my chain.
"Now o'er my head full fifteen suns had burn'd, } Since from my native rocks my eyes I turn'd: } And practised now in woe, my soul no longer mourn'd. } I sought my patron, and (a bark supplied) His fortunes follow'd o'er the foamy tide.
"From these dire shores our rapid course we held; Auspicious gales the flying canvas swell'd; And joy's faint sunshine kindled in my eyes, As the last mountain mingled with the skies: When, by conflicting winds together driven, A night of clouds involved the starless heaven; Fierce and more fierce th' increasing tempest blew, The thunder rattled, and the lightning flew. Soon, borne at random o'er the watery way, The yawning rocks our guideless ship betray; My shrieking comrades sink.—Some power unseen Preserved me, trembling, thro' the deathful scene; I rode th' opposing waves, and from the steep Beheld the vessel plunge into the flashing deep.
"Beneath a sheltering wood all night I lay, 'Till morn had chased the flying stars away; Then sought the wave-worn strand.—The storm was dead; And Silence o'er the deep her pinions spread. All—all were gone!—I saw my doom severe; And, dull with suffering, scarcely dropp'd a tear!
"There, by the murmurs of the sea's hoarse wave, Scorch'd on the rock, or shivering in the cave, Long, long I stay'd: Fate yet prolong'd my day, And Grief and Famine spared their willing prey. A roving bark at length approach'd, and bore The suppliant stranger to fair India's shore.
"With wondering steps I traced the sunny strand, And mark'd each giant work of nature's hand; Saw towering oaks th' aerial tempest brave, And mighty rivers roll the sea-like wave. Amaze, unmix'd with joy, my soul possess'd; What beauteous scene can charm an Exile's breast? Sadly I saw primeval forests frown, And, in each foreign stream, still sought my own.
"No bright success my rising labours crown'd; The sunbeam wither'd, or the deluge drown'd, Each growing hope: my frame seem'd worn with care, And Death still hover'd in the feverish air. Stern Famine o'er my solitary gate Spread her cold wings, and watch'd in sullen state. Life yet was dear—Each visionary night Restored my ancient dwelling to my sight; And every gale, that swept the valley o'er, Appear'd to point me to my native shore.
"Soon as the morning waved her banner red, With bounding heart the winged sail I spread. Again the tempest roars, the meteors play, And struggling clouds repel the rising ray. Yet nought disturb'd my unprophetic soul; Resign'd to joy, impatient of control, I seem'd new-born: Creative Hope again Restored the sense of pleasure, and of pain; Tumultuous transport, now no more suppressed, Shone from my eyes, and wanton'd in my breast.
"Soon did the storm subside: before the breeze Smooth flew the boat, across the summer seas. The brightening sunbeam on the waters danced, From the blue clouds a stream of radiance glanced.
"As the fleet swallow, eager to attain Her well-known regions, scuds o'er land and main; So, wing'd with hope, I flew: my eager sail Stemm'd many a sea, and waved in many a gale, While, ardent still one object to pursue, I shunn'd the rock, and thro' the tempest flew: And still, with rapture's mingled tear and smile, Mark'd, as it pass'd, each dim receding isle. From each fair view my swimming eyes declined, And fairer views rose imaged in my mind.
"Swift o'er the waves I flew; and many a day On the smooth wings of joy had roll'd away, When, half-discover'd 'mid the clouds of night, My native cliffs rose beauteous to my sight. With beating heart I furl my sail, and sweep With rapid oar the smooth-dividing deep. The well-known bay a ready entrance gave, And safe return'd me from the stormy wave.
"Now Night, advancing up th'etherial plain, Drew slowly her broad veil o'er land and main. With falling tears I bathed the sacred ground, And thro' the viewless darkness gazed around: But air's blank waste deceived my ardent sight; The hills were dark, the rivers roll'd in night. Yet swift imagination, uncontroll'd, Ranged o'er the scene, and tinged it all with gold. 'And here,' I cried, 'amid this piny grove, In winter's morn my lonely steps shall rove; And there, beneath yon' poplar's silver shade, At summer noon my weary limbs be laid. Yon azure stream, that parts the fruitful scene, Shall see my cottage on its banks of green, Long-cherish'd friends shall charm each livelong day, And jocund children, more beloved than they: My sun thro' ambient clouds shall set more fair, And thirty years of grief be lost in air. Oh, happy long-lost land! once more receive Thy time-worn Exile, and his cares relieve!'
"The gathered mists roll'd slowly from the lawn, And fading stars announced the silent dawn: A hill, that tower'd above the bounded heath, I climb'd, and gazed upon the scene beneath. The beams of morning woke no living eye Amid this vast and cheerless vacancy: They only pour'd their ineffectual light On a bleak prospect, better hid in night! Where'er I look'd, outstretch'd in long survey, A huge unmeasured waste of ruins lay. War's fiery steps had mark'd the beauteous scene, And mingled ravage show'd where death had been, The fallen cottage, and the mouldering tower— A dreary monument of wrathful power! The stream that once, diffused in lucid pride, Saw towers, and woods, and hamlets, on its side, Now choked with weeds, in mossy fragments lost, Dragg'd a slow current o'er the mournful coast. My friends, my foes, were fled—not one of all Remain'd, to see his country's hapless fall! O'er the wild plain the useless zephyrs blow, And wasted suns unprofitably glow. This ancient forest now remain'd alone:— Beneath its shade I sat me down to moan; Resign'd to dumb despair, without a tear, } Prostrate I lay, or slowly wander'd, here, } And, wandering, thought upon the things that were: } 'Till crowding thoughts a sudden lustre flung, And my wild heart with desperate hope was strung.
"Hence, vain regrets! unmanly tears, away! 'Tis time to close my melancholy day. Smiling with peace, or brilliant with delight, Eternity lies open to my sight. I go, a fearless soul, unstain'd by crimes, To seek the rest denied in earthly climes.
"Ye righteous Powers, whoe'er ye are, who guide Earth's changeful tumult, and its cares divide; Who rule mankind with absolute decree, And grace the bless'd with good, unknown to me: To you I pray not: Your afflicting hand } Has given the sign to quit this earthly strand: } I bow with joy to your implied command! } Yes—in the bosom of eternal fate Some real joys, perhaps, my soul await: Some peace may yet be mine—some powerful rock, Unmoved by terror, or misfortune's shock; Some vale of calmness, some sequester'd shore, Where hope, and fear, and sorrow, are no more.
"My soul, thro' endless ages doom'd to live, A quenchless flame, must every sphere survive: Whence, then, these sorrows in her mortal times; Chain'd down to woe, ere yet involved in crimes? This cloud unpierced, that darkens all her way? Is this the dawn of an eternal day?— Death, death alone, can chase th' unfathom'd gloom, And light the mazes of my doubtful doom!"
He spoke; and gazing on the watery grave. Approach'd with tranquil step the fatal wave, Where the green verge with easy slope descends, And, rippling on the sand, the water ends. When lo! some power, with deep resistless force, Check'd his firm soul, and stopp'd his fearless course; He felt its languid influence thro' his breast, And, stretch'd in sleep, the grassy margin press'd; His weary soul to balmy rest resign'd, And fancy bore these visions to his mind.
On a broad bank, alone, he seem'd to stand, Whose flowery limit closed a spacious land. Around, the cultured plains appeared to glow With various hues: a river roll'd below: Unvex'd by storms, the tranquil waters ran: On heaven's blue verge calm shines the mounting sun. As waken'd from a dream of woe, amazed, On woods, and skies, and murmuring streams, he gazed: Calm, silent raptures flow'd thro' all his breast, And seem'd the foretaste of eternal rest.
His eye, now settled, mark'd a little boat, Which on the nearest waves appear'd to float: Its airy sail with snow-white radiance blazed; Its blue prow tinged the waters.—As he gazed, Lo! the clouds opened, and with sudden glare A dazzling form descended thro' the air. Swift as a sea-bird darting o'er the deep, Or meteor hovering with aerial sweep, He flew, and lighting radiant on the helm, Cast a bright shadow o'er the watery realm. He waved his hand; the Exile took the sign, Embark'd, and join'd the messenger divine.
Smooth o'er the liquid plain the vessel steers; A faint-reflected sun on every wave appears. Swift o'er the stream it steers: on either side, In murmurs low th' advancing waves divide. Thro' cloudless skies the radiant orb of day, Enthroned in light, held on his heavenly way; A line of light along the ocean streams, The white sails glisten in the golden beams. Still, as they roll, the river's waters lave With ceaseless flow the lily of the wave: The willow-forests on its verdant side Bathe their green tresses in the crystal tide: The bending alders paint the floods, and seem A waving curtain o'er the glassy stream. Thro' the wide clouds and thro' the watery way Calm Light and Silence held their boundless sway.
Now vanish'd from their eyes the lessening shore, And nearer grew the ocean's sullen roar: And when the sun-heaven's topmost dome had scaled, The green-tinged waters of the deep they sailed. The orb of day, faint-glittering from afar, Now veil'd in gradual gloom his beamy car: A hollow murmur thro' the blackening skies, Rolls dismal on, and loudens as it flies: The watery birds fly screaming from the steep, And darkness settles on the shivering deep. The wondering Exile, from the deck, beheld The tempest grow, and clouds on clouds impell'd: Far to the south their dusky legions bend, And thence o'er heaven a gloomy line extend. He heard th' approaching tempest's hollow sigh, And cold despondence trembled in his eye— And lo, it bursts! the boundless whirlwinds sweep, Toss the light clouds, and tear the staggering deep Sheer from its lowest caves—the smoking rain Bursts in white torrents o'er the echoing main: The fiery bolts uninterrupted roll From sky to sky, and shake the stedfast pole: Red volleying o'er the heavens with curving beam The fitful lightnings dart a quivering gleam, And, glancing thro' the raven plumes of night, Shed o'er the deep a pale sepulchral light.
Swift to the Power unknown his eyes he rear'd— No sign of comfort in the Power appear'd: Silent he stood—when lo! another blast Rends the strong sail, and shakes the tottering mast! Now, by the mounting billows upward swung, Trembling amid the darksome sky they hung; Now seem'd to touch the fountains of the deep, Where in eternal rest the waters sleep. And now beneath a milder tempest's sway Onward the rapid vessel bounds away; When, lo! again—as if with thundering fall Descended to the deep heaven's loosen'd wall, Yells the fierce storm: beneath the furious shock, Torn from its roots, the long-resisting rock Falls prone; the sands, driven by the whirling sweep, Boil up, and darken the discolour'd deep.
Still o'er the stormy waste they labour on, Thro' bowling deserts and thro' paths unknown— A long, long way! the lightnings flame around, And winds and billows mix their mournful sound. Still on they fare—'till thro' the ambient night Bursts a third whirlwind with redoubled might; The congregated clouds in one vast sweep It drives, and bares the bosom of the deep. The sail flies loose, the mast in fragments torn O'er the black surface of the waves is borne Louder, and longer, over heaven's wide field Thro' the rent clouds the bellowing thunders peal'd: In one blue sheet the streamy lightnings glare; A thousand demons ride the flaming air, O'er the dark waves a deeper horror cast, And howl between the pauses of the blast. And now 'twas silence all—a sulphurous smell Spread round: a cloud arose with sudden swell; Slow o'er the ocean's trembling waves it past, And from its bosom, indistinct and vast, A giant form advanced across the gloom Of air, and pointed to the watery tomb.
Shuddering with fear, he turn'd.—His guide was gone; A broad chaotic cloud appear'd alone. His limbs no more their chilly weight sustained, A deathlike torpor o'er his bosom reign'd, His stony eyeballs fix'd in silent trance Met the terrific Spectre's withering glance. And lo! the Phantom waves, with sudden glare, His burning sceptre thro' the starless air! High o'er the bark the booming billows spread, The deafening waves were closing o'er his head; When rushing clouds the towering form involved, And all the vision into air dissolved. Like mist that flits before the solar car, Or the wan splendours of a falling star, The scene dispers'd; and at his side, return'd, The heavenly Guide in all his radiance burn'd.
A smile, with love and calm affection fraught, The Seraph gave, as by the hand he caught Th' admiring Exile: then the earth forsook, And thro' dividing clouds his easy journey took.
Above the skies on silent wings upborne, They seek the quarter of the rising morn, And, wheeling thro' the stars their level flight, On a tall mountain's cloudless top alight.
Beneath, a boundless realm in prospect lay; Fair as the regions of perpetual day Wide stretch'd the peaceful vale. A brighter sun Thro' purer skies his azure course begun, And, uneclips'd, along th' etherial road A host of stars with rival splendours glow'd. Far to the west, with dewy spangles gay, Long tracts of meads reflect the orient ray; Collected fragrance breathes in every gale, And harvests nod on every yellow dale. The southern plain a lordly city crown'd: Its ample range with marble turrets frown'd. The golden spires with pointed radiance glow'd; From tower to tower the pure effulgence flow'd. The lofty gates for ever open stood, And o'er the region pour'd a living flood. Their dusky sides by piny groves conceal'd, A range of snow-capp'd hills the north reveal'd: Amidst the dark-brow'd woods with murmurs hoarse A thousand torrents took their foamy course. The eastern limit show'd a spacious bay; Blue Ocean redden'd in the morning ray: Reflected lustre crown'd the chalky steep, And stately navies darkened half the deep. From the tall hill, beneath the sunny beam, Three rivers, issuing, pour a various stream, Now thro' the lawns in parted currents glide, And now, uniting, spread an equal tide. Unnumber'd tints the forest-boughs unfold, And the bright waters seem to roll in gold.
Successive wonders on the Exile's breast A visionary strange amaze impress'd; New hopes, new fears, his trembling bosom throng, Doubt follows doubt, and thought drives thought along. When now the Angel, with that awful grace, That waits on spirits of celestial race, On the pale mortal lost in dark surprize, Fix'd the keen radiance of his sun-like eyes: Mild were his looks: yet, when his accents flow'd, It seem'd as thunder shook the bursting cloud.
"Beneath the weight of earthly evil bent, In varied toils and woes thy days were spent; 'Till cold Misfortune, with unceasing lower, Weigh'd down thy soul, and deaden'd every power, Reflection's lamp withdrew her guiding ray, And fail'd to point thee on thy darkling way, And thy wild soul prepared to launch alone From Night's dark bosom into worlds unknown: When, sent by Heaven thy earthly deeds to guide, And o'er thy term of varied life preside, I check'd thy course: and Providence by me Unfolds her secret train of destiny.
"Oh, ignorant! to deem thyself the first Of mortals with unmingled troubles curs'd! Thou hast not yet the height of woe attain'd, Nor every cup of human sorrow drain'd. Thy path of suffering has been trod alone; } No following friend, no consort, hast thou known, } To double all thy sorrows with their own: } No artful foe has doom'd thy humble name To public enmity, or public shame; And last, and worst of all, the pangs of woe Hell can inflict, or vengeful Heaven bestow, Relentless Conscience has not shed on thee Her poison'd darts,—her stings of misery! Thy virtue shone thro' the dim vale of earth, And toils and dangers proved thy blameless worth. For this, my hand its timely aid bestow'd To draw thee back from error's devious road.
"All, all are equal: Heaven's impartial mind One bliss, one woe allots to all mankind: And he whose morn seem'd wrapp'd in cloudy night, Shall see his evening glow with placid light. Thro' calm prosperity's serenest sky The approaching gales of adverse fortune sigh; And when Affliction whets her keenest dart, And hurls it, flaming, at the shrinking heart, Celestial Hope with golden wing attends, Heals every wound, and every toil befriends: The horrors vanish; gleams of light divine Illume the cloud, and thro' its openings shine; As the bow, herald of ethereal peace, Smiles thro' the storm, and makes the tempest please.
"To sway the whirlwind, gathering clouds control, Arrest the sun, or shake with storms the pole, Heaven gives to none:—nor have the mightiest power To stop the current of one changeful hour: Resistless Fate with even course proceeds, And o'er their levell'd pomp her thundering chariot leads. But all can solace their afflicted mind With temperate wishes, and a will resign'd, Can cheer the sad, improve the prosperous hour, With meek Humility, and Virtue's power: With these, terrestrial pleasures never cloy, And fear is lost in peace, and sorrow turns to joy.
"Yet oft' the brave resisting soul, like thee, At random borne across Life's wintery sea, When various tempests, with successive force, Still drive her devious from her destined course, With labour worn, at last the helm resigns, And in deep anguish at her lot repines; Despair throws round impenetrable gloom, And Death invites her to the ready tomb.
"Let faithful Memory tell (for Memory can) How thy first years in even current ran; How every pleasure, every good, combined To feast with countless sweets thy tranquil mind: Each passing joy a kindred joy pursued, Nor ask'd the aid of sad vicissitude. Swift flew thy boat, thro' isles with verdure crown'd, Heaven's smile above, and prosperous seas around: O'er the smooth waves Hope's cheering zephyr pass'd, And every wave seem'd smoother than the last.
"Soon fled those halcyon days. The storm began; From pole to pole the doubling thunder ran. Yet still with patient toil I saw thee urge Thy fearless passage o'er the gloomy surge; Still Faith discern'd the harbour of repose, And panting Hope look'd forward to the close.
"As vapours, slowly thickening, blot away, Beam after beam, the sacred orb of day; So woes on woes in long continuance blind The sense, and blunt the vigour of the mind; 'Till, by some sudden gust of misery cross'd, On the mad ocean of despondence toss'd, Reason herself, once bold, acute, and strong, No more discerns the bounds of right and wrong: Lost, in the mist of fear, her Heavenly Guide, She deems all efforts vain, and sinks beneath the tide.
"But shrink not thou from earth's malignant power! Hope builds on high an everlasting tower; And strength divine supports the suffering good, As lasting ramparts break the torrent-flood.
"Sustain'd by this, with resolute control The Mental Hero curbs his struggling soul, Bids with new fire his pure affections glow, And calls his lingering wishes from below. Refined by slow degrees, his passions rise, Soar from the earth, and gain upon the skies. A light, unbought by all the joys of Sin, Cheers his wide soul, and brightens all within: And, though mankind his pious peace molest, And mock the sigh that struggles half suppress'd; Tho', leagued with man, the hostile powers of hell Bid round his head the maddening tempest swell; For ever fix'd on worlds beyond the pole, Nought else can move his heaven-directed soul. 'Tis his with tearless fortitude to feel The bigot fury of a tyrant's steel; 'Tis his with cool untempted eye to gaze On Wealth's bright pomp, and Beauty's brighter blaze: And, as the stream its equal current leads Thro' dusky forests and thro' flowery meads, Serene he treads Misfortune's thorny soil, Nor on surrounding pleasures wastes a smile— Whate'er events the tide of time may swell, His only care, to act or suffer well. What tho' malignant foes innumerous scowl, Tho' mortals hiss, and fiends around him howl? Yet, higher powers, the guardians of his life, With sacred transport watch the godlike strife; Yet Heaven, with all her thousand eyes, looks down, And binds her martyr with a deathless crown.
"When the last pang the struggling spirit sends Far from the circle of his mourning friends, And, bathed with many a tear, the hallow'd bust Protects the mouldering body of the just; Oh! with what rapture, mounting, he descries Scenes of unutterable glory rise, With trembling hope bows to his heavenly Lord, And hears with awful joy th' absolving word! Oh! with what speed he flies, dismiss'd to stray Thro' the vast regions of eternal day; Creation's various wonders to explore, A radiant sea of light, without a shore! Then, too, that spark of intellectual fire Which burn'd thro' life, and never shall expire, Which, oft' on earth deplored its bounded view, And still from sphere to sphere excursive flew, The mind, upborne on intuition's wings, Thro' Truth's bright regions, momentary, springs, And, piercing at one view the maze of fate, Smiles at the darkness of her former state!
"The varied pleasures of yon' smiling plain Would feebly image Joy's eternal reign. As that bright prospect, still to beauty true, Presents new charms at every varied view, Here towns and waving forests rise reveal'd, There the blue deep, and here the golden field; Such and so boundless are the joys decreed To those, whom Truth from all their chains has freed. Nor time shall limit, nor dull space control The winged motions of th' immortal soul. From star to star to spread her restless wing, Learn each dread law, and trace each mighty spring; To mix with angels, and renew the hours Of earthly friendship in celestial bowers; The Source of All, undazzled, to survey, His triumphs join, and his commands obey:— To span Futurity with raptured sight, Age after age interminably bright, While with one tranquil all-enlightening beam, The past, the present, and the future gleam:— Still, as the joyful ages run their race, Progressive glories ripening as they pass, With new perfections, new desires, to shine, Her will reflected by the will divine:— To see new suns arise, and see their flame Lost and extinct in night, herself the same:— Such the soul's hopes; and such the blessings given To Virtue's sons,—the brightest stars of heaven!
"Oft, ev'n on earth, by Heaven's unfathom'd doom, She breaks thro' her dark fortune's circling gloom, And thro' the dim-dissolving cloud of woe Refulgent mounts, and gilds the world below. Pale Envy pines, and sickens in the dust, And gazing nations learn that Heaven is just.
"Such are the truths thy vision would relate, And such the secret of thy doubtful fate.
"Go, then—thy God has fix'd thy future doom, And light and transient are thy woes to come: Those sorrows past, ev'n Earth has joys in store; And Heaven expects thee on her happy shore. Go—and, by chilling grief no more oppress'd, Hold firm thy heart—to stand, is to be bless'd!"
Quick-glancing from his sight the Seraph sped, And all the dream in gay confusion fled. Soft o'er the wave the summer-breezes sigh'd, The moon play'd quivering on the restless tide. He rose, and now with new ideas fraught, Revolv'd the vision in his alter'd thought; An eye of meek contrition upward cast, And stretch'd in lonely prayer, bewail'd the past; Traced all his years, and with a tranquil eye Exulting scann'd his promised destiny; Then steer'd his bark, with Providence his guide, To realms unknown, and oceans yet untried.
TO THE COMET, 1811.
WRITTEN ON ITS APPEARANCE.
Be ye not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. JER. X. 2.
Comet! who from yon' dusky sky Dart'st o'er a shrinking world thy fiery eye, Scattering from thy burning train Diffusive terror o'er the earth and main; What high behest dost thou perform Of Heaven's Almighty Lord? what coming storm Of war or woe does thy etherial flame To thoughtless man proclaim? Dost thou commissioned shine The silent harbinger of wrath divine? Or does thy unprophetic fire Thro' the wide realms of solar day Mad Heat or purple Pestilence inspire? Thro' all her lands, Earth trembles at thy ray; And starts, as she beholds thee sweep With fiery wing Air's far-illumined deep.
The Eternal gave command, and from afar, From realms unbless'd with heat or light, The mournful kingdoms of perpetual Night, Unvisited but by thy glowing car,— Radiant and clear as when thy course begun, Swift as the flame that fires th'etherial blue, Thro' the wide system, like a sun, Thy moving glories flew. Thou shinest terrific to the guilty soul! But not to him, who calmly brave Spurns earthly terror's base control, And dares the yawning grave: To one superior Will resigned, He views with an unanxious mind Earth's passing wonders,—and can gaze With eye serene on thy innocuous blaze, As on the meteor-fires, that sweep O'er the smooth bosom of the deep, Or gild with lustre pale The humid surface of some midnight vale.
FROM THE ELEVENTH BOOK OF STATIUS' THEBAID.
Jamque in pulvereum, furiis hortantibus, aequor Prosiliunt, &c. 403—407, 409—423.
Soon as both armies from the field withdrew, Fierce to the fight the rival brothers flew: Each warrior his auxiliar fiend inspires, Directs his arm, and pours in all her fires: Round the bright reins their snaky locks they twine, And with each swelling mane their glittering folds combine. The horns were hush'd: the drums no longer peal'd: A death-like stillness brooded o'er the field: And thrice hell's monarch rock'd the ground below, And thrice his thunders shook the realms of woe.— No martial power was there: the God of War Whirl'd from the hated field his heavenly car: Indignant Pallas sought th'ethereal climes: And Furies learn'd to blush at human crimes. The thronging people, from the stately crown } Of each tall turret, look with horror down, } And general grief overwhelms th' unhappy town: } The old deplore their late remains of light; And mothers lead their infants from the sight. The ghosts of Cadmus' race, an impious crew, This prodigy of kindred guilt to view, Sent from the mansion of eternal hills, (A dark assembly) crowd Baeotia's hills; O'er day's fair face a gloomy twilight cast, And smile with joy to see their crimes surpass'd.
FROM THE NINTH BOOK OF KLOPSTOCK'S MESSIAH.
Where, in the midst of vast Infinitude, The arm creative stopp'd,—dread bound of space, Alien to God, and from his sight exil'd, Hell rolls her sulph'rous torrents. There, nor law Of motion, nor eternal Order reigns; But anarchy instead, and wild uproar, And ruinous tumult. Now with lightning speed Th' accursed sphere, with all its flames, flies up Into the void abrupt, and with its roar, With groans commixt, and shrieks, and boundless yells, Astounds the nearest stars: calm now and slow, With dreadful peace the universal waves Of sulphur roll, and pour a mightier flood On those tormented, their eternal crimes Avenging with fresh pain and sharper darts Of never-dying torture.—They meanwhile, The caitiff and his puissant guide, on wing Impetuous, skirt creation's flaming waste, And suns innumerable, and with prone flight Descending down, light sheer upon the coast Of outmost Night. The guard seraphic knows. That power ministrant, —— —— and with quick despatch Unfolds the Stygian doors, that jarring hoarse Slow on their adamantine hinges turn'd, And open'd to their ken the dread abyss, Unfathomably deep, mother of woes. Not mountains pil'd on mountains would close up Th' infernal entrance: they would but increase Its native ruggedness. No path leads down To those abhorred deeps. Close by the gate Impendent rocks with fiery whirlwinds cleft For ever fell into the deep abyss, Continuous ruin. —— —— On the hideous brink Of this great tomb, where Death nor sleeps, nor dies, In dreadful silence, with the wretch hell-doom'd, Stood the Death-angel. ——
BEGINNING OF THE THIRTEENTH ILIAD,
TRANSLATED IN IMITATION OF WALTER SCOTT.
[Greek: Zeus d' epei oun Troas te kai Hektora neusi pelasse], &c.
From Ida's peak high Jove beheld The tumults of the battle-field, The fortune of the fight— He marked, where by the ocean-flood Stout Hector with his Trojans stood, And mingled in the strife of blood Achaia's stalwart might: He saw—and turn'd his sunbright eyes Where Thracia's snow-capped mountains rise Above her pastures fair: Where Mysians feared in battle-fray, With far-famed Hippemolgians stray, A race remote from care, Unstained by fraud, unstained by blood, The milk of mares their simple food. Thither his sight the God inclines, Nor turns to view the shifting lines Commix'd in fight afar: He deemed not, he, that heavenly might Would swell the bands of either fight, When he forbade the war.
Not so the Monarch of the Deep: On Samothracia's topmast steep The great Earth-shaker stood, Whose cloudy summit viewed afar The crowded tents, the mingling war, The navy dancing on the tide, The leaguered town, the hills of Ide, And all the scene of blood. There stood he, and with grief surveyed His Greeks by adverse force outweighed: He bann'd the Thunderer's partial will, And hastened down the craggy hill.
Down the steep mountain-slope he sped, The mountain rocked beneath his tread, And trembling wood and echoing cave Sign of immortal presence gave. Three strides athwart the plain he took, Three times the plain beneath him shook; The fourth reached AEgae's watery strand, Where, far beneath the green sea-foam, Was built the monarch's palace-home, Distinct with golden spire and dome, And doom'd for aye to stand.
He enters: to the car he reins His brass-hoofed steeds, whose golden manes A stream of glory cast: His golden lash he forward bends, Arrayed in gold the car ascends; And swifter than the blast, Across th' expanse of ocean wide, Untouched by waves, it passed: The waters of the glassy tide Joyful before its course divide, Nor round the axle press: Around its wheels the dolphins play, Attend the chariot on its way, And their great Lord confess.
[Greek: Herpazon—ouk echontos po aischynen toutou tou ergou, pherontos de kai doxes mallon.] THUC. Lib. 1.
Quid nos immerita, turba improba, voce lacessis, Sanguineasque manus, agmina saeva vocas? Quidve carere domo, totumque errare per orbem Objicis, et fraudem caecaque bella sequi? Non nobis libros cura est trivisse Panaeti, Nec, quid sit rectum, discere, quidve malum; Haec quaerant alii: toto meliora Platone Argumenta manu, qui gerit arma, tenet. Et tamen, ut primi repetamus saecula mundi, Omnibus haec populis pristina vita fuit: Lege orbis caruit: leges ignavior aetas Excoluit, patrium descruitque decus. Ut culpent homines, Dis haec laudare necesse est; Nec pudet auctores fraudis habere Deos. AEtheriam bello rapuisti, Jupiter, arcem; Quam, dicat genitor si tibi, Redde; neges. Fertur Atlantiades, nobis venerabile numen, Surripuisse omni plusve minusve Deo. Legiferos alii celebrent justosque poetae; Maeonides nostri nominis auctor erit. Sisyphium canit ille ducem, canit inclyta Achillis Pectora: praedonum ductor uterque fuit. Lyrnessum AEacides, Ciconas vastavit Ulysses: Num facta est tali gloria clade minor? Tu quoque pro rapta pugnabas, Romule, turba, Et fur imperium furibus ipso dabas. Armiger ipse Jovis, qui praeda vivit et armis, Inter aves primum nomen habere solet. At vaga turba sumus. Vaga erat Tirynthia virtus; Quam tamen in coelum sacra Camaena vehit Anne viro, lucrum trans aequora longa secuto, Dedecori est tantas explicuisse vias? Si genus in toto quaeris felicius orbe, Falleris: est nobis aemula vita Deum. Nec fora, nec leges colimus; nec aratra subimus; Praedandi est solus militiaeque labor: Seu ruimus per aperta maris, seu cingimus igne Maenia, seu cultis exspatiamur agris. Oppida quum positis florent ingloria bellis, Fortia pax alta corda quiete tenet: At nobis medio Fama est quaesita periclo, Quoque magis durum est, hoc magis omne placet. Plurima quid referam? Si tu ista refellere nescis, Vicimus, inque auras crimen inane fugit.
[Greek: —— Antolas ego Astron edeixa, tas te dyskritous dyseis.] AESCH.
Densantur tenebrae: subsidunt ultima venti Murmura, tranquillumque silet mare: Somnus ab alto Advehitur gelidis, spargitque silentia pennis. Musarum intentus studiis, taciturna per arva Deferor, herbosamque premunt vestigia vallem Somnus babet pecudes: humili de cespite culmen Apparet rarum, et sparsae per pascua quercus. Fons sacer, irriguos ducens cum murmure flexus, Vicinum reddit fluvio nemus: aequore puro Vibrantes cerno stellas, atque ordine longo Lucida perspicuis simulacra natantia lymphis.
Fulgore assiduo et vario convexa colore Ardebant nuper: rapidi violentia coeli Torrebat pecudes, et languida rura premebat. Nunc sedata novos spirat Natura decores, Regalique magis forma nitet. AEthere toto Se stellae agglomerant: micat almo lumine campus Caerulus, et densis variantur nubila signis. Sic quondam ruptum subiti miracula mundi Effudit Chaos, et primi exsiluere planetae Cursibus, atque novum stupuerunt saecula Solem; Tunc radiis fulsere Arcti, secuitque profundas Orion tenebras: molli et formosior igne Luna per aequoreos radiavit pallida fluctus. Quacunque aspicio, tremulus per coerula crescit Ardor, et innumeros stupeo lucescere soles.
Talia miranti sacra formidine tota Mens rapitur: videor stellantia visere templa Numinis, argenteamque domum, lucisque recessus, Solus ubi in vacuo regnat Pater orbis, et, igne Cinctus inexhausto, devolvit stamina fati, AEquatoque regit varium discrimine mundum.
At tu corporeis anima haud retinenda catenis, Libera quae letho perrumpis claustra sepulchri, Sublimi spectes etiam nunc lumine mundum, Sideraque, et longo fulgentes limite soles: Haec tua sunt: toto hoc quondam versaberis orbe Devia, et in cunctis pandes regionibus alas. Erroris fugient nebulae; fatique licebit Explorare vias, unumque per omnia Numen. Barbarus evictis referat Sesostris ab Indis Signa; triumphanti se jactet in axe Philippus, Laeteturque suum spectans Octavius orbem: Te majora manent: nullis obnoxia curis Regna petis, domitaque nitet victoria morte.
DIVI PAULI CONVERSIO.
Humentes abiere umbrae, et jam lampada opaco Extulit Oceano Phoebus, noctemque fugavit; Jamque, brevem excutiens somnum, rapit arma Sauelus, Ingrediturque iter; hunc denso circum undique ferro Agmina funduntur, strictisque hastilibus horret Omne solum, et tremulus telorum it ad aethera fulgor. Corripuere viam celeres: jamque alta Damasci Maenia cernuntur, raraeque ex aequore turres. Laetatur spectans, immensaque pectore versat Funera, sanguineumque videt fluere undique rivum, Invisamque una gentem miscere ruina Posse putat: summa veluti de rupe leaena Sopitas prospectat oves, ubi plurima toto Incumbit nox campo, illunemque aethera condit. Haud aliter furit, et flammantia lumina torquens Talia voce refert: "Magni regnator Olympi, Ultricem firma dextram, justoque furori Annue, et ipse novam spira in mea pectora flammam. Robora da gladiis insueta, adde ignibus iras, Sic ego templa tua et sacros spernentia ritus Pectora confundam; fausto sic numine laetus Relliquias vincam sceleris: vastam ipse ruinam Aspicies, pater, et stellanti summus ab arce Accipies gemitus morientum, et fulmine justum Confirmabis opus: laetabitur aethere toto Sancta cohors, magnique ibunt longo ordine patres Visuri exitium, et pravorum fata nepotum!"
Dixerat; interea medium Sol attigit orbem, Et totum jubar explicuit: quum creber ad auras Auditur fragor, et volucres per inania coeli Hinc atque hinc fugiunt nubes: dant flumina murmur Insolitum, vastaeque tremunt sine flamine sylvae. Obstupuere omnes: subito quum lumine nimbus Signat iter coelo, et radiis totum aethera complet: Collesque fluviique micant, pulsisque tenebris Laetantur sylvae: veluti quum Luna coruscam Extendit per aperta facem. Sacer erubuit Sol, Agnovitque Deum, densisque recessit in umbris. Attoniti siluere viri, manibusque remissis Sponte cadunt tela: insolito ferus ipse timore Diriguit ductor, stravitque in pulvere corpus. Quum subito nova vox, mille haud superanda procellis, Excidit, et juveni trepidantia pectora complet:
"Quo gressus, vesane rapis? quaeve effera menti Impulit infandum dementia inire laborem, Et gentes vexare pias? Huc flecte superbos, Huc oculos; ego sum, quem vana fraude lacessis, Tartarei domitor regni, prolesque Tonantis. Flecte viam ventis, mota quate littora dextra, Siste maris cursum, aut medio rape sidera coelo; Non tamen hoc facies; neque enim gens concidet unquam Nostra, nec humani patietur damna tumultus. Caede Deo tandem, et caeptos compesce furores."
Tum vero ingenti pressus formidine mentem Intremuit juvenis, rupitque has pectore voces: "Cedo equidem, victusque abeo: tu, maxime rerum, Suffice consilia, atque errantes dirige gressus. Immanes fugere animi, et qua ducis eundum est. Sit modo fas te, Christe, sequi!" Nec plura locuto Intonuere poli, et mediam inter fulgura vocem Audiit: "Infaustos animis depone timores, Vicinamque urbem et celsae pete tecta Damasci. Ipse adero, rerumque oculis arcana recludam. Eia age, carpe viam, et permissis utere fatis."
Hoc Deus, et sese nubis caligine septum Claudit inaccessa; tellus tremit, et sonat aether, Terque per attonitos vibrantur fulmina campos. Jamque novae exierant flammae, et Sol redditus orbi: Assistunt Domino turmae, gelidamq. resurgens Linquit humum Saulus: sed non redit ossibus ardor, Non oculis lumen; subitis exterrita monstris Haud aliter juveni stupuerunt pectora, quam cum Fulmina si flammis straverunt forte bisulcis Coniferam pinum, aut surgentem in sidera quercum, Agricola exsurgit conterritus, et pede lustrat Exustum nemus, et pallentes sulphure campos. Explorat late noctem, caecosq. volutat Hinc atq. hinc oculos, et ab omni nube Tonantes Expectat vocem. Interea regione viarum Progreditur nota, et Syriam defertur ad urbem: Non, oriens qualem nuper Sol viderat, acri Non animo stragem intentans, non ense coruscus Fulmineo: supplex, oculosque ad sidera tendens, Demissa sine fine trahit suspiria mente, Immiscetq. preces. Tres illic septus opaca Nube dies peragit, tolidem sine sidere noctes. Interea nova paulatim sub pectore flamma Nascitur, aethereoq. viget nutrita calore: Erroris fugiunt nebulae; sacer ingruit ardor Coelestisque fides; dant corda immitia pacem, Mutanturq. animi: placido ceu murmure labens AEternos ducit per saxa rigentia cursus Fons sacer, et fluvio tacite mollescit opaco.
Quin etiam, ut perhibent, animam sine corpore raptam Flammifero alati curru avexere ministri, Ad superasq. domos, et magni tecta Parentis Fulmineae rapuere rotae: medio aethere vectus Miratur sonitum circumvolventis Olympi, Sideraq., et rutilo flagrantes igne Cometas; Inde cavi superans flammantia maenia mundi, Elysias spectat sedes, et casta piorum Regna, ubi caerulea vestitus luce superbit Late aether, aliis ubi fulgent ignibus astra, Atq. alii volvunt laetantia saecula Soles: Et puro cernit volitantes aere Manes, Quos rutila cingit jubar immortale corona, Oblitas terrarum animas, venerabile vulgus.
Tertia jamq. diem expulerat nox humida caelo, Et medios tenuit per vasta silentia cursus: Caesarie subito et vitta venerabilis alba Visus adesse senex, talesq. effundere voces: "Surge, age, nate: tibi nam vitae certa patescit Semita, teque Deus coelo miseratus ab alto est. Ipse ego, quae tristes hebetant caligine visus, Eripiam nubes, exoptatumq. revisent Solem oculi." Divina haec talia voce loquentem Involvere umbrae, tenuisq. refugit imago, Excutiturq. sopor. Nova dum portenta renarrat, Auditasq. refert voces; fugit aequora currus Solis, et ignotus tacitum subit advena limen, Compellatq. viros: eadem alta in fronte sedebat Majestas, isdemq. albebant crinibus ora. Agnovit vocem juvenis; nam caetera nigrae Eripuere oculis tenebrae. Tum talibus Annas Aggreditur senior: "Patriae te, Saule, petitum Linquo tuta domus, ac mille pericula ferri Invado, saevumque adeo imperterritus hostem. Nam, qui te medio errantem de tramite vertit, Imperat ipse Deus, perq. alta silentia noctis Ingeminat mandata monens. Nunc accipe lucem Amissam, munusq. Dei. Nec plura locutus Pallentes oculos dextra premit: atra fugit nox Coelestes tactus, aciemq. effusa per omnem Irruit alma dies: primi nova lumina Solis Haurit inexpletum, et fugientia sidera lustrat. Sed major puro accendit divina calore Lux animos, atq. exsultantia pectora complet. Ante oculos nova se rerum fert undique imago: Deletas veterum leges, renovataque cernit Jura homini, et pactum divino sanguine foedus; Edomitam mortem, raptique arcana sepulchri, Perpetuamq. diem, atq. aeterni vulnera leti. Explorat tacitus sese, et vix cernere credit, Quae mens alta videt; tanta formidine vasta Exterret rerum species, mixtoq. voluptas Ingruit alta metu: velut insuetum mare pastor Observans oculis, vastiq. silentia ponti, Horret, et ignoto perculsus corda timore Hinc atq. hinc oculos jacit, aeternumq. volutos Miratur fluctus, tantarum et murmur aquarum.
Exsurgit tandem, rumpitq. silentia voce: "AEterni salvete ignes! salve aurea nostris Reddita lux oculis! Tuq. O, qui primus inane Rupisti, et varia jussisti effervere flamma, Adsis nunc, pater, et placidus tua numina firmes. Da mihi vitai casus, saevosq. labores Perferre, et cunctis tua nomina pandere terris, Magne parens! et quum gelidis inamabilis alis Summa dies aderit, tardae praenuntia mortis, Cunctanti adspires animo, justosq. timores Imminuas, ducasq. animam in tua regna trementem!"
Vix ea fatus erat; per nubes ales apertas Devolat aetherio demissus ab axe satelles, Alloquiturq. virum, placidoq. haec incipit ore:
Macte nova, Isacide, virtute; opus excipe magnum; Afflatuq. Dei et praesenti; numine fortis Perge, viamq. rape invictam per littora mundi. Non tumidum mare, non saevi violentia belli, Nec populi rabies, circumq. volantia tela, Immotos quatient animos; sacrum omnia vincet Auxilium, et praesens favor omnipotentis Olympi. Graia tibi excussa cedet Sapientia crista, Ore tuo devicta; trement regna excita late Cecropis, et vario splendentia numine templa. Te maesti aeterno reboantia murmure ponti Agnoscent Melitae saxa, et quae pulcher Orontes Arva secat, fluvioq. vigens Tiberinus amaeno, Et vix Ausonium passura Britannia regnum. Audiet Ionii littus maris, atq. ubi fluctus AEgaei sonat, atq. ubi turbidus Hellespontus Saevit, et angusta populos interstrepit unda. O nimium dilecte Deo, cui concidit ingens Oceani fragor, et rabidae silet ira procellae, Pacatusq. cadit, infecto vulnere, serpens. Perge, atq. immensum laudes diffunde per orbem. Per freta, per flammas, per mille pericula, vade Impavidus; miseros refice, atq. petentibus almam Da requiem populis; animam pater ipse, laborum Defunctam, Christumq. pari jam morte secutam Excipiet, caeloq. novum decus inseret alto.
Coelestis Sapientia. HOR.
Qualem in profundi gurgitibus maris Undaeque, ventique, et scopuli graves Nautam lacessunt, et trisulca Quae volitat per inane flamma, Quum nulla amicis dat pharon ignibus Fortuna; dum Nox signa per horridas Diffundat auras, et benigna Luna face imminuat tenebras: Sic prima caecam gens hominum tulit Ignara vitam: regna nec Elysi Novere nec valles opacas Tartareae timuere sedis; Non spes futuri, non reverentia Coelestis aulae; culpa piaculis Vacavit, Eleique luci Fatidicae siluere frondes: Donec reclusa caelicolum domo, Jussu parentis, dicitur huc cohors Venisse Musarum, capillos Castalia redimita lauro, Sacramque qui Delum et Pataram regit, Cyrrhaeque turres: increpuit lyram Thalia, divinoque canta Tristia personuere regna; Quo bruta tellus, quo volucres vagae, et Dura improbarum pectora tigridum, Regesque, bellanterque turmae Insolita tacuere cura. Informe primum vox cecinit Chaos, Terrasque natas, Iaepeti et genus Infame, Phlegraeamque pugnam, Et triplici data jura mundo: Panduntur arcana, et Superum domus, Virtusque, legesque, et ratio boni, Oraeque Cocyti dolentis, Et placidae loca amoena Leuces. O, quae coruscam concutis aegida, Frangens tyrannorum arma minacium, Regina Pallas, dona nobis Caelicolum inviolata serva, Quam misit aeterni arbiter aetheris Terras in omnes, ut Sapientiae Accensa duraret per aevum Stella, nec in tenebras abiret! Te novit Argos, cultaque divitis Sedes Corinthi; Cecropias modo Turres et Ilissi colebas Pascua, floriferosque saltus; Nunc Martialis maenia Romuli, Et regna Tuscis subdita montibus; Nunc arva terrarum remota, et AEquorei scopulos Britanni. Tu, Diva, rerum detegis ordinem; Gaudesque primis nubila gentibus Obducta, nulli pervia astro, Et Stygia graviora nocte Rupisse. Frustra dissociabile Objecit atrox Oceani fretum Neptunus, insanique rauco Turbine confremuere fluctus: Vicit furentes, te duce, navita Ventosque, et undas, clanstraque saxea Perrupit, extremumque mundi Impavidus penetravit axem.
NOTES ON GUSTAVUS VASA.
I have prefixed to this fragment the title of Epic Poem, though epic poems are growing out of fashion; because, in the structure, plan, and metre, the heroic model is followed. My authorities for facts, dates, and characters, are Vertot and Puffendorff. The latter I have only read in an English translation, dated 1702: the former I quote from a small Amsterdam edition, printed for Stephen Roger, in 2 vols. 1722.
BOOK THE FIRST.
—— her papal rites efface.
Gustavus, by his prudent and vigorous measures, effectually abolished Popery in Sweden, and established the disciples and doctrine of Luther.
And at whose feet, when Heaven his toils repaid, His brightest wreaths the grateful Hero laid.
Many have attributed the efforts which Gustavus made use of to deliver his country, to ambition, and a desire of reigning. Yet, since his elevation produced much good to Sweden, and no evil, it is surely allowable, if not just, to attribute them to a purer motive: at any rate, a poet is at liberty to set his hero's character in the fairest light he can, consistently with history.
By Treachery's axe her slaughter'd senate bled.
Alluding to the celebrated massacre of Stockholm. For an account of it, see notes on the Third Book.
And her brave chief was numbered with the dead.
Steen Sture, Poetice Stenon, was the son of Suante Sture, administrator of Sweden, who reduced John the Second of Denmark to conclude a treaty with him, and who is greatly extolled by historians for the extraordinary spirit, skill, and moderation, with which he governed a turbulent kingdom for many years. Sture, though a young man, was admitted his successor, being duly elected on the 21st of July, 1513, after a violent struggle with his competitor, Eric Trolle, the senator, which laid the foundation of the enmity between him and Gustavus Trolle, the famous Primate of Sweden. On that prelate's arrival from Rome, however, he welcomed him to his see, and behaved to him in the most courteous manner. This behaviour was repaid by Trolle with almost open hostility; but the young administrator had spirit enough to resist his encroachments. Arcemboldi, the Pope's Legate, and merchant of indulgences, when passing through Sweden, in execution of his gainful office, was well received by Sture, who encouraged him in his exactions, from a political motive, and even exempted him from the duty which former venders of indulgences had been accustomed to pay to the Kings and Governors of Sweden. In the war commenced by Christiern the Second against Sweden, he signalized his courage and military talents on many occasions, and was killed in an engagement with Otho Crumpein's army, near Bogesund in East Gothland.
Inferior to his father as an Administrator, he appears to have equalled him only in courage and the art of war. He was one of those men who are born to adorn, though not defend, a declining state: and, in the words of the French writer, was "fitter to command a party, than govern an empire." His death happened in the beginning of 1519.
—— ruthless Christiern ——
Christiern the Second was perhaps the worst king that ever disgraced the Danish throne. It is difficult to find any thing estimable or admirable in his character; he had neither the moderation of a Pisistratus, the talents of a Caesar, nor the political prudence of an Augustus. He succeeded his father John in 1512, and declared war against Sweden, in which he was assisted by Trolle. Having made a descent on the coast, he was repulsed by Steen Sture, and reduced to extremities. Wishing to treat with Sture, he demanded hostages for his safety; some of the principal nobles were sent to him in that quality, and among them Gustavus Vasa. With these he immediately sailed away, and on his return, confined them in the castle of Copenhagen, excepting Gustavus, who was committed to the custody of Eric Banner. He made a second attack upon Sweden, and, after the death of Steen Sture, was crowned King of Sweden. Under false pretences, he put to death the whole Swedish senate, and exercised innumerable barbarities on the townsmen and peasants. (Puffendorff, passim.) Being afterwards expelled from Denmark by his uncle Prince Frederick, and from Sweden by Gustavus Vasa, after many fruitless attempts to regain possession of either kingdom, he was at last seized by Frederick, August 2, 1532, and confined in the Castle of Coldinger, where he died some years after.
'Twas morn, when Christiern, &c.
This poem begins in January, 1521, immediately before the introduction of Gustavus in the assembly of Mora.
—— Upsal's haughty Prelate ——
Gustavus Trolle, son of Eric the rival of Steen Sture, was sent when young to Rome (where it is supposed he learned the art of political finesse), and was there consecrated Archbishop of Upsal by Leo the Tenth. On his return to Sweden, he treated with great haughtiness Steen Sture, who came to congratulate him on his elevation. He joined in Christiern's attempts on Sweden, and, being convicted of treason by the assembled Swedish States, retired from his archiepiscopal throne to a monastery. On the successes of Christiern, however, he quitted his retirement, and, regardless of his oaths of abdication, resumed his former office. His forcible deposition was one of the pretexts for the massacre of Stockholm. He opposed Gustavus Vasa in his patriotic endeavours, and once circumvented the hero with a troop of Danes, so that he narrowly escaped with his life. Vasa, however, soon retorted the same stratagem on his enemy; and he was at last obliged to retire into Denmark, where he with difficulty escaped death from the resentment of his master. A wound, received in an engagement with the troops of Christiern the Third, terminated the existence of one of the most restless caballers, and most accomplished statesmen, of his time.
Otho Crumpein, one of the most celebrated generals of the North, was employed by Christiern in his war with Steen Sture, and gained many signal victories over the Danes; and afterwards, by his master's orders, invested Stockholm. He was at length removed to Denmark by the tyrant, who was jealous of his talents.
Ernestus and Harfagar are fictitious characters. Puffendorff, however, reports that Steen Sture was killed by the treachery of one of his confidential friends.—The hint of the vision, l. 281-311, is taken from Lucan.
Brask's proud genius.
Brask, Bishop of Lincoping, was secretly a partisan of Christiern's, and escaped the massacre of Stockholm by an artful contrivance. When the order for Trolle's arrest was signed by the Senate and Bishops, at the instigation of Steen Sture, he added his name to the rest, but secretly slipped under the seal a note, declaring his dissent: of this he informed Christiern, when under the edge of the axe. On Gustavus's insurrection, he at first remained neutral: afterwards, being besieged in his castle by Gustavus, he came over to him. But his invincible obstinacy and factious disposition were a great obstacle to Gustavus in the introduction of Lutheranism into his kingdom.
Bernheim is a fictitious character.
Theodore, Archbishop of Lunden, is thus characterized by Vertot:
"L'Archeveque de Lunden avoit beaucoup de part dans sa confiance. C'etoit un homme de basse naissance, sans erudition, et meme sans habilete; mais savant dans l'art d'inventer de nouveaux plaisirs, et qui en connoissoit egalement tous les secrets et les assaisonnemens. Il etoit redevable de sa faveur et de son elevation a Sigebritte (the well-known mistress of Christiern): elle l'avoit d'abord introduit a la cour pour lui servir d'espion: il passa ensuite tout d'un coup (here we must suspect some exaggeration), par le credit de cette femme, de la fonction de Barbier du Prince a la dignite d'Archeveque, et il se maintint dans sa faveur en presentant a Christierne des plaisirs qu'il savoit accommoder a son gout." P. 108, 109, Amst. ed.
Christiern, having first employed Theodore in an official commission, appointed him Administrator of Sweden in his absence. On the news of the Swedish rebellion, that prelate, fearful of losing the ample opportunities he now possessed of indulging his voluptuousness and rapacity, sent an immediate express to his master, who ordered him to assemble his army, and attack the insurgents. In conformity to these orders, he occupied an advantageous post on the banks of the river Brunebec: Gustavus was on the opposite side, and he intended to dispute the passage with him. But, through natural cowardice, or a sudden fit of alarm, he quitted his station, like Hector; and flying for safety from one fortress to another, was at last obliged, like Trolle, to take refuge in Denmark.
The factious souls, &c.
While Christiern was exercising his cruelty towards the Swedes, the Danish nobility, offended at his usurping absolute power, combined against him under the auspices of Prince Frederic, and finally succeeded in expelling him from Denmark. The rebellion began in Jutland.
Their strong and persevering bands explore, &c.
Such is the character usually given of the inhabitants of Daelarne or Dalecarlia.
BOOK THE SECOND.
So to the town, &c.
Klopstock, Book 3.
This passage may remind the reader of Burns's vest of Coila, in his "Vision, Duan First." The resemblance was unintentional.
Slanderers of Heaven, &c.
The character here given of the Romish Bishops of Sweden at the time of the grand revolution, is supported by the historical accounts of Trolle, Brask, and others.