Page images

His sword was temper'd in the Ebro cold,
Morena's eagle-plume adorn'd his crest,
The spoils of Afric's lion bound his breast.
Fierce he stepp'd forward and flung down his
As if of mortal kind to brave the best.

[gage, Him follow'd his Companion, dark and sage, As he, my Master, sung the dangerous Archimage.


Haughty of heart and brow the Warrior came,
In look and language proud as proud might be,
Vaunting his lordship, lineage, fights and fame,
Yet was that bare-foot Monk more proud than
And as the ivy climbs the tallest tree,

So round the loftiest soul his toils he wound. And with his spells subdued the fierce and free, Till ermined Age, and Youth in arms renown'd, Honouring his scourge and hair-cloth, meekly kiss'd the ground.


And thus it chanced that VALOUR, peerless Knight, Who ne'er to King or Kaisar veil'd his crest, Victorious still in bull-feast, or in fight,

Since first his limbs with mail he did invest, Stoop'd ever to that Anchoret's behest;

Nor reason'd of the right nor of the wrong,

But at his bidding laid the lance in rest,

And wrought fell deeds the troubled world along, For he was fierce as brave, and pitiless as strong.


Oft his proud galleys sought some new found world,
That latest sees the sun, or first the morn;
Still at that Wizard's feet their spoils he hurl'd,-
Ingots of ore from rich Potosi borne,
Crowns by Caciques, aigrettes by Omrahs worn,
Wrought of rare gems, but broken, rent, and
Idols of gold from heathen temples torn,


Bedabbled all with blood.-With grisly scowl The Hermit mark'd the stains, and smiled beneath

his cowl.


Then did he bless the offering, and bade make
Tribute to heaven of gratitude and praise;
And at his word the choral hymns awake,

And many a hand the silver censer sways.
But with the incense-breath these censers raise,
Mix steams from corpses smouldering in the fire;
The groans of prison'd victims mar the lays,
And shrieks of agony confound the quire,

While, 'mid the mingled sounds, the darken'd scenes expire.


Preluding light, were strains of music heard,
As once again revolved that measured sand;
Such sounds as when, for sylvan dance prepared,
Gay Xeres summons forth her vintage band;
When for the light Bolero ready stand

The Mozo blithe, with gay Muchacha met,
He conscious of his broider d cap and band,

She of her netted locks and light corsette, Each tiptoe perch'd to spring, and shake the castanet.


And well such strains the opening scene became; For VALOUR had relaxed his ardent look,

And at a lady's feet, like lion tame,

Lay stretch'd, full loth the weight of arms to


And soften'd BIGOTRY, upon his book,

Patter'd a task of little good or ill:

But the blithe peasant plied his pruning-hook,
Whistled the muleteer o er vale and hill,
And rung from village-green the merry Seguidille.

[ocr errors]

Grey Royalty, grown impotent of toil,
Let the grave sceptre slip his lazy hold,
And careless saw his rule become the spoil
Of a loose Female and her Minion bold;

• The Bolero is a very light and active dance, much practised by the Spaniards, in which castanets are always used. More and Muchacha are equivalent to our phrase of lad and lass.

But peace was on the cottage and the fold,

From court intrigue, from bickering faction far, Beneath the chesnut tree Love's tale was told; And to the tinkling of the light guitar,

Sweet stoop d the western sun, sweet rose the evening star.


As that sea-cloud, in size like human hand When first from Carmel by the Tishbite seen, Came slowly overshadowing Israel's land,

Awhile, perchance, bedeck'd with colours sheen, While yet the sunbeams on its skirts had been, Limning with purple and with gold its shroud, Till darker folds obscured the blue serene,

And blotted heaven with one broad sable cloudThen sheeted rain burst down, and whirlwinds howl'd aloud;


Even so upon that peaceful scene was pour'd,
Like gathering clouds, full many a foreign band,
And HE, their Leader, wore in sheath his sword,
And offer'd peaceful front and open hand;
Veiling the perjured treachery he plann'd,

By friendship's zeal and honour's specious guise, Until he won the passes of the land;

Then, burst were honour's oath, and friendship's ties!

He clutch'd his vulture-grasp, and call'd fair Spain his prize.


An Iron Crown his anxious forehead bore; And well such diadem his heart became, Who ne'er his purpose for remorse gave o'er, Or check'd his course for piety or shame; Who, train'd a soldier, deem'd a soldier's fame Might flourish in the wreath of battles won, Though neither truth nor honour deck'd his name; Who, placed by fortune on a Monarch's throne, Reck'd not of Monarch's faith, or Mercy's kingly tone.


From a rude isle his ruder lineage came:
The spark, that, from a suburb hovel's hearth
Ascending, wraps some capital in flame,

Hath not a meaner or more sordid birth.
And for the soul that bade him waste the earth-
The sable land-flood from some swamp obscure,
That poisons the glad husband-field with dearth,
And by destruction bids its fame endure,

Hath not a source more sullen, stagnant, and impure.


Before that Leader strode a shadowy Form:

Her limbs like mist, her torch like meteor show'd, With which she beckon'd him through fight and storm,

And all he crush'd that cross'd his desperate road, Nor thought, nor fear'd, nor look'd on what he trode;

Realms could not glut his pride, blood could not slake,

So oft as e'er she shook her torch abroad

It was AMBITION bade his terrors wake,
Nor deign'd she, as of yore, a milder form to take.


No longer now she spurn'd at mean revenge,
Or stay'd her hand for conquer'd foeman's moan,
As when, the fates of aged Rome to change,
By Cæsar's side she cross'd the Rubicon;
Nor joy d she to bestow the spoils she won,
As when the banded powers of Greece were task'd
To war beneath the Youth of Macedon:

No seemly veil her modern minion ask'd,

He saw her hideous face, and loved the fiend unmask'd.


That Prelate mark'd his march-On banners blazed With battles won in many a distant land,

On eagle-standards and on arms he gaz'd; "And hop'st thou, then," he said, "thy power

shall stand?

O thou hast builded on the shifting sand,

And thou hast temper'd it with slaughter's flood; And know, fell scourge in the Almighty's hand! Gore-moisten'd trees shall perish in the bud, And, by a bloody death, shall die the Man of Blood!"


The ruthless Leader beckon'd from his train
A wan fraternal Shade, and bade him kneel,
And paled his temples with the crown of Spain,
While trumpets rang, and heralds cried, "Cas
tile '*

Not that he loved him-No!-in no man's weal, Scarce in his own, e'er joy'd that sullen heart; Yet round that throne he bade his warriors wheel, That the poor puppet might perform his part, And be a sceptred slave, at his stern beck to start. XLIV.

But on the Natives of that Land misused, Not long the silence of amazement hung, Nor brook'd they long their friendly faith abused; For, with a common shriek, the general tongue Exclaim'd, "To arms!" and fast to arms they sprung. And VALOUR woke, that Genius of the land! Pleasure, and ease, and sloth, aside he flung, As burst the awakening Nazarite his band, When 'gainst his treacherous foes he clench'd his dreadful hand.


That mimic Monarch now cast anxious eye
Upon the Satraps that begirt him round,

Now doff d his royal robe in act to fly,

And from his brow the diadem unbound

So oft, so near, the Patriot bugle wound,

From Tarik's walls to Bilboa's mountains blown These martial satellites hard labour found, To guard awhile his substituted throne

Light recking of his cause, but battling for their own.

The heralds at the coronation of a Spanish monarch proclaim his name three times, and repeat three times the word Castilla, Castilla, Castilla !

« PreviousContinue »