in Two Cantos;
Printed for James Ridgway, No. 170, opposite Old
Bond Street, Piccadilly,
To the Honorable Esme Steuart Erskine, these poems are most affectionately inscribed by the author.
The Author considers it necessary to state that the following Poems were composed (a few months since) at the age of nineteen: she trusts, therefore, that they will meet with the indulgence due to juvenile productions.
To thee, etherial Maid! I bend,
To thee, my vows, my prayers ascend!
Oh! list to thy fond Votress’ sigh,
Spread thy light wing, and hither fly,
Soft-eyed, tender Melancholy!
Here, never shall wild Mirth intrude,
Here dwells thy sister Solitude!
The world shut out, its joy, its care,
Its ’venom’d sting, and semblance fair,B 2 B1v 4
Have ceased alike to move—and now,
With airy step, yet pensive brow,
Imagination grasps the sway,
And sports around in magic play;
And lures me, with soft, silver tone,
To tempt her regions, erst unknown;
Where, oft with moonlight fays I sing,
And dance within the elfin ring;
Or, in old courts, with ladies fair,
I mark the Maid, of beauty rare,
Yielding, with pleased, but downcast eyes,
To her brave Knight, the tourney prize—
But hold!—for as the trifler strays,
A fancied scene before me plays;—3 B2r 5
Dark are the tints, and deep the shade,
Yet will I catch them, ere they fade!
Now had soft Eve, with purple dye,
Tinged deep the glowing western sky;
Her rich, luxuriant mantle spread,
Her balmy tears, profusely shed;
The setting sun, (whose lingering beam
Yet lighted, with a vivid gleam,
The rocks on gay Venetia’s shore,)
Veiling his head, is seen no more.—
A pensive silence reigned around,
Save, when at intervals, the soundB3B2 4 B2v 6
Of Ocean’s regulated beat,
Or the winged songsters carol sweet;
Or when, from rustic labor freed,
The Peasant tuned his lively reed;
So mild, so still, these scenes appear,
You would not guess, that laughing near,
Venice, her sea-girt form, should rear.
It was at this enchanting hour,
A Lady, in her favorite bower,
(Retired from folly’s noisy glee,
And all its cheerless revelry,)
Hung o’er her harp, whose thrilling sound,
Drawn by the breeze, that played around,5 B3r 7
In melancholy tone, and slow,
Appeared to mourn the fair-one’s woe.—
Now o’er the chords, her hand she threw,
The strain attempting to renew;
But ’wildered soon her fingers stray,
And gushing tear-drops force their way.—
Pity, alas! so fair a flower
Should fade ’neath sorrow’s icy shower!
That rising blush, of rosy red,
Recalls the tinge, that once was shed
O’er the lone Maiden’s cheek, now pale,
Mantling but with the summer gale;
The meekness of that lifted eye,
Whose darkling glance marks energy;B2B3 6 B3v 8
The graceful form, the flowing hair,
Speak Isabel di Rosiniere!
Why did the Lady mourn, and sigh?
Why did the tear-drop bathe her eye?
For sure, Misfortune ne’er had prest
So gentle, and so young a breast!—
Ah! woe is me! and must I tell
The ills that lovely Maid befell!
Yet bend thine ear, her woes I’ll sing,
However wild the rude notes ring.—
Of noble race the Maiden came,
Bearing Rosiniere’s powerful name—7 B4r 9
High Roman virtue marked her Sire,
Stern justice—unrelenting ire;
His arm opposed his country’s fate,
His counsel propt a falling state;
By nature bold, in art refin’d,
He led the Doge’s wavering mind,
And Venice ruled—by few revered,
By many hated, envied, feared;
The proud competitor of Kings,
He seemed to scorn all humbler things;
Avarice, and love alike unknown,
Ambition marked him for her own—
It was this Noble’s earnest care,
To match his Daughter with the Heir8 B4v 10
Of rich Udino; since vain schemes,
Uncertain, enterprising dreams,
Never ending, following fast,
Had laid his patrimony waste.—
And vainly did his suppliant child,
In unchecked fear, and terror wild,
Implore her Sire, with streaming eyes,
To avert the threatened sacrifice;
Fixed to his purpose, firm he stood,
Till, (as the pure and maiden blood
Crimsoned her cheek,) she owned with fear,
Another to her soul most dear.
Softening then his look of pride,
My Isabel, the Father cried,9 B5r 11 If of a not ignoble name, Possessed of wealth, unblemished fame, Some Youth of Venice seeks thy hand, Fear not, that any harsh command From me, his passion shall reprove, Or check your honorable love.
A deeper melancholy now,
Shaded his Daughter’s pensive brow:
(For Love, with purest power had prest,
In wayward mood, that guileless breast,
And bade its fondest feelings glow
For one, avowed her Father’s foe:
Indignant at whose bearing high,
Unbending, stern severity;10 B5v 12
Dreading too, that his country’s weal,
From power unauthorized, should feel
A lasting wound—Venetia’s pride,
Her boldest Son, that power defied;
Renowned in arms,—Montalva rose,
The haughty Noble to oppose;
Hence, were they sworn and mortal foes:
When, to arrest his threatening arm,
In innocence, and youth’s first charm,
A fair, angelic form was seen,
With fond, and filial love to skreen
Rosiniere, from the bitter smart,
Aimed at his proud, aspiring heart;11 B6r 13
It was enough—friends, country fell,
Before one look of Isabel.)
The transient blush, the starting tear,
Betrayed the alternate hope, and fear,
Which soothed, then tore her anxious mind,
In duty firm, to woe resigned.
That moment she resolved to seize,
Prostrate she sank—embraced his knees—
Lifted her mild, beseeching eyes,
Essays to speak, yet vainly tries—
Then, breathing low, her pale lips move:
It is Montalva that I love!—12 B6v 14
In angry scorn, Rosiniere turned,
His clinging Daughter rudely spurned;
In answer, not a word he spoke,
And from her sight, like light’ning broke.—
Sworn rivals now, confessed they stand,
Udino, and young Ferdinand;
Full ill, could either spirit brook
The other’s high, and taunting look;
Each sought to end the deadly strife,
Or by his own, or rival’s life:
They sought not long, for urged by hate,
They both rushed madly on their fate.13 B7r 15
Montalva, heated, and enraged,
Ere his fell sword the combat waged,
Spoke with rash boldness, and contempt,
Of senate, doge, and government;
Such words, as might, in such debate,
Be construed treason ’gainst the state,
Then rushing on, with many a wound,
He stretched his rival on the ground—
Bereft of sense the Knight was laid,
Till timely, persevering aid
Recalled him to the pangs of shame,
His sufferings, and his blighted fame.14 B7v 16
Whilst from his lips dire curses flowed,
With keen revenge, his bosom glowed;
He swore, that Isabel he’d wed,
To wreak his vengeance on her head,
On her, the source of all his shame,
In cherishing Montalva’s flame.
And now, he hastes to fix his fate,
Of those rash words informs the state,
Which, strained from what they truly meant,
He was, on their supposed intent,
Condemned to lasting banishment.
Cold as an icy bolt it sped,
To bow the noble victim’s head;15 B8r 17
From Mother, friends, and country torn,
Montalva yet disdained to mourn;
In conscious rectitude he stood;
The blow had pained, but not subdued.
Now slowly from his native home,
Destined, he knows not where, to roam,
The wanderer turns, with anguished mind;
And many a look he cast behind,
As o’er a height, he bends his way,
On Venice, that beneath him lay,
Proudly disputing Ocean’s right,—
He melts before the well-known sight:16 B8v 18
Venice, my country, fare thee well;
No mortal man, alas! dare spell
—Dark fate’s unknown, mysterious page;
Yet do my boding thoughts presage
A judgment speedy, dire, and dread,
Will fall on thy devoted head!—
Rise up! shake off thy drowsy sloth;—
Crush, (ere the ill attains its growth)
Those, who pretending to thy good,
Suck secretly thy vital blood!
False is the vigor of thy State,
And big with its approaching fate:
E’en like the vigor of a man
Ending his life’s contracted span,17 C1r 19
In agony convulsed—whose force,
Strained beyond Nature’s common course,
Bursts with a dread, resistless sway,
Then sinks, and ever dies away!
And raising, with clasped hands, on high,
A look of pious energy:
Thou guardian Power! whose mighty hand
Is stretched o’er every righteous land,
Avert the evils that I dread,
Impending o’er my country’s head!
In mercy blot away her crimes,
Restore her free and virtuous times!
And though Montalva ne’er may hope,
Again in her defence to cope,C 18 C1v 20
Raise warriors who will fight her cause,
And guard her liberty and laws!—
Venice farewell!—fond Mother too,
And Friends, a lasting, long adieu!
He paused, and sighed, a trickling tear,
The first, the only one, that e’er
Had stained his manly cheek, now fell;
That tear—it was for Isabel!
Then, turning quick his mettled steed,
He downwards plunged, and with such speed,
His Followers vainly plied their force,
To trace his headlong rapid course.19 C2r 21
But, who, alas, can paint the woes,
That Isabella’s bosom knows!
Silent, yet deep—no time can cure,
No offered pleasure can allure
The secret, hidden depths of grief,
Or bring a moment’s hoped relief.
The witching smiles, that once had played,
The thousand brilliant charms that strayed,
Decking that face, and form so fair,
Can now no longer dazzle there;
With downcast eyes, and folded hands,
Like marble, pale, and cold, she stands;
Yet firm, and calmly dignified,
Rejects, with high and modest pride,C2 20 C2v 22
The scorned Udino’s proffered hand;
Nor could her Father’s stern command,
Nor his own transports, e’er beguile
One look, or hope-inspiring smile.
Her Sire’s consent at length she drew,
Awhile to weep, retired from view;
Where, frowning high in rocky pride,
O’erlooking Ocean’s angry tide,
The castle of her Fathers stood,
In majesty sublime, and rude;
Beneath was spread its fair domain,
A rich, and cultivated plain,
Sloping its verdant banks to lave,
In Adriatic’s silver wave.21 C3r 23
’Twas hither then at that soft hour,
When silence spreads her soothing power,
When Nature, veiled in twilight grey,
Slumbers the swift—winged time away;
That hour to Melancholy dear,
When Fancy, ever hovering near,
Darkens each shade of brooding grief,
A pleasing, painful, strange relief.
That, lovelier far than Fancy’s Queen,
Isabel leaves her bower of green,
Whose sportive branches intervene
To beg her stay; yet vain disclose
The richness of the perfumed rose:C3 22 C3v 24
The tulip’s gay, and varied hue,
The towering lily, bathed in dew;
The freshness of the eglantine,
And wreaths of snowy jessamine;
Such once indeed had charmed her soul,
And pure, unsullied pleasure stole;
But now, with pensive step, and slow,
Unmindful of their beauty’s glow,
The Maiden wanders by the shore,
Tracing her sorrows o’er, and o’er,
Where, as she stood by Ocean’s side,
To mark the rising of the tide,
Or paced its banks, ’neath greenwood shade,
Or climbed the rocks, the lonely Maid23 C4r 25
Might well, to Fancy’s eye have been
Some wandering sylph, of angel mien,
Gliding the paths and rocks between.
To shroud her form, a veil she threw,
Which, half-blown back, revealed to view
The jetty ringlets of her hair,
That clustered o’er her forehead fair,
Or sheltered, with officious care,
The graceful-bended neck of snow,
Lest the sea-breeze too roughly blow;
Suspended from her waist before,
Her beads and jewelled cross she wore;
And often, do her dark eyes rest,
And often, to her rose lip’s prest,24 C4v 26
The semblance of a Warrior high,
In all the pride of chivalry.
At length she reached a grassy mound,
O’erhung by tufted trees around;
Reclining where, awhile she sate,
Unconscious of impending fate;
When, sudden footsteps strike her ear,
Advancing close, they soon appear—
While listening, through the foliage green,
Two martial forms are clearly seen:
Strange! who, this hour, in such array,
Can hither bend their slow-paced way!25 C5r 27
Whoe’er it be, she thought to wait,
Till they had passed the outer gate;
But to the mound their steps they bent,
And ’gainst a tree beside it, leant
In close debate—the uncertain light
Shewed one a war-like noble Knight;
The other, by his plain attire,
And ready bow, she deemed his Squire.
While meditating how she may
’Scape quick, and unperceived away,
Her Father’s name (and in a tone
Of anger, not to her unknown,
Marking a noble friend,) retains,
And for an instant she remains;26 C5v 28
But as she lists cold flowed her blood,
And rooted to the spot she stood:
Rosiniere! fool! I say he must,
As well as others, bite the dust,
And shall—though Doge, and all o’erthrown,
He is himself a host in one.
Rosiniere live! then wherefore framed,
’Gainst whom, these machinations aimed?
Methinks our Chieftain hardly knows
Or foes from friends, or friends from foes;
With public justice, private hate
Bids me at once pronounce his fate;27 C6r 29
For I have flattered, bowed, and smiled,
Yet nought but words have ere beguiled;
Ambition thwarted, this way turns,
And vengeance in my bosom burns—
Pedro, thy fortune’s made, I swear,
If the Count’s death thou’lt bravely dare!
We’ll tell our Chief, by chance he fell,
—And smile to hear his dying knell.
Enough, my lord, grim Pedro said,
To-morrow, di Rosiniere’s dead!
Bravo!—he cried, and with a look
Of savage joy his hand he shook.
Though calm, collected she remain
Yet could not Isabel refrain28 C6v 30
From shuddering at the bargain dire,
Which doomed to death her noble Sire;
The green leaves rustled, at the sound
Sidona darts his eye around,
Old Pedro smiled;—What is’t you hear?—
—Tis said that guilt will oft cause fear;—
If but the wind doth near us blow,
Think you some demon lurks below?
ForshameFor shame, my lord—I pray thee tell
The plans thy Chief has laid so well.
Then thus they are, Sidona cried,
Repressing his offended pride:
Soon will repair, where yon caves lie,
The heads of the confederacy;29 C7r 31
Well guarded by a trusty band
Of armed menials, who will stand
As watch and spies—and there they meet
As usual, to deliberate.—
The blow that hangs o’er Venice’ head,
And strikes her lofty Chieftains dead,
Changes her government and laws,
And fixes freedom’s noble cause,
Shall fall, ere morrow’s moon shall rise—
Venice is free!—her tyrant dies!—
Our plans are ripe, and full half gained,
The guards are in our pay retained;
Carousing in their festival,
The unsuspecting Rulers fall;30 C7v 32
So closely knit, our schemes are laid,
Tis not in mortal power or aid
To baffle their high aim.—our mind
To conquest, or to death resigned,
Is one—our Leader, young and high,
Joins prudence, with his energy;
And had he not this silly thought,
(We all know how it has been caught)
Of sparing di Rosiniere’s life,
He’s worthy to conduct the strife.
Success attend him!—Pedro cried,
And you, and all—whate’er betide
I’ll faithful prove in heart, and word,
And well I’ll try my trusty sword:31 C8r 33
But where’s the cave?—In yonder steep,That towers above the foaming deep; An inlet, in its shaggy side, Leads to a cavern dark and wide. But now the hour is late, and I Must back with speed, to Venice hie; And you, mean time, in arms will stand, Within the cave, amidst the band.
So saying from the tree they drew,
When o’er his form Sidona threw
An ample cloak, the steel to hide;
And hastening from the green-mound side,
Together for a space pursued
Their converse deep, in anxious mood,32 C8v 34
Then each, as it diversely lay,
Strode fast along his gloomy way.
Now Isabel, with straining eyes,
Watched, till the trees, or rocky rise,
Had hid them from her aching view;
Then on her bended knees she threw
A look of gratitude, and love,
To that all-gracious Being above,
Who, by his interfering aid,
Had yielded to a feeble Maid
The power, to save from traiterons ire,
Her country, and devoted Sire.33 D1r 35
When having thus obeyed her heart,
Its first, warm impulse, to impart,
With hasty step, she homeward drew,
Unmindful, up the rocks, she flew,
And reached the gate—assembled there,
With looks of honest, anxious care,
Her servants wait their Lady fair.
Kindly she smiled, and quickly past,
Reaching the hall with trembling haste,
And, in impatient tone, desired
A menial who had not retired,
To fly, and Hubert instant send,
His Lady’s orders to attend;D 34 D1v 36
And, as she spoke, she glanced her eye
On Marco’s features harsh, and dry;
But startled, sees suspicion there,
With scowling brow, and watchful care;
Obeying slow, he reached the door,
Then turned, and fixed his eyes once more
On Isabel, and with a look,
Her rising spirit ill could brook;
She waved her hand—a sneering smile
Seemed to distend his lip the while;
And e’en when gone, she trembled still,
Foreboding more approaching ill.
Her trusty Steward soon appeared,
Who, bowing said, he much had feared35 D2r 37
Some ill his Lady dear had fell,
And glad he was to see her well.—
My aged friend, draw near, she said,Thy Master’s Daughter needs thy aid; To us, long years of service prove Thy firm fidelity, and love; And mark thee worthy of a trust, Which to thine ear confiding first, The danger may be speedier known, And its dread, secret power o’erthrown.
Then, in few words, unfolded all;
Treason matured—her Father’s fall—
Her country’s shame—the good old man
Shook, as the diabolic planD2 36 D2v 38
Met his thrilled ear—with eyes upraised,
Which fright, and deadly horror glazed:
Live I, to see the day, he cried,
When Venice bends her crested pride,
Nurses within her powerful arm,
Such as this hellish, viper swarm!
My noble Master too, he said,
And sighed, and shook his silvery head
Oh! not a moment’s to be lost,
Tis long since I a steed have crost,
But young again, bereft of fear,
I’ll mount the fleetest courser here:
Right, my good friend, to Venice haste,
I follow ere an hour is past;37 D3r 39
Wait not when there, but with all speed,
Inform your Master of the deed;
Fly, my good Hubert, haste away,
God speed thee, as his mercy may.
Soon o’er the draw-bridge Hubert sprung,
As he again were light and young;
Soon did the active grooms prepare
Guard, and conveyance, meet to bear
Their Lady to her Sire—mean while,
The servants wonder, guess, and smile.—
But where is Marco? none can tell
What their dark, gloomy comrade’s fell!D3 38 D3v 40
Twas said that when the Steward came,
With hurried step, and looks of flame,
From out the hall, he staid his way,
And, Hubert, he was heard to say,
Why all this haste, what’s happened here,
Some wondrous sudden thing I fear?
As strange, as sudden, friend, indeed;
We hurry off this night, with speed,
For Venice—and our Lady there,
Doth also, in all haste, repair.
Since then they vainly seek around,
Marco is nowhere to be found.
Dismayed their Lady hears the tale,
Her mind misgives, her footsteps fail,39 D4r 41
But gathering courage, she proceeds,
And to her waiting escort leads.
The moon in silver lustre shone,
And o’er the rippling waves had thrown
A light, and dancing beam; the trees
Scarce trembled to the whispering breeze;
Night seemed as if she feared to spread
Her mantle o’er Venetia’s head,
Lest she should lend her helping aid
To deeds, more dark, than midnight shade.
All was so silent, mild, serene,
That the soft beauty of the scene,40 D4v 42
On Isabel its charm imprest,
And hushed each troubled thought to rest.
Her train, now swiftly flying o’er,
Skims fast along the pebbly shore,
Then moves beneath the darkling shade,
In which a softer carpet’s laid;
And, sometimes does the hilly rise
Give to her watchful, eager eyes,
Venetia, through the gloom of night,
Brilliant in gaiety, and light.
A peaceful calm o’erspread her breast
(To her, a new and stranger guest,)
Heaven I thank thee!—oft she said,
And meekly grateful, bowed her head;41 D5r 43
And breathed an inward prayer for those,
Whom her unwilling hand o’erthrows.
Pray on, sweet Maid! for treachery near,
Threatens a blood-stained crest to rear.
As up a hillock’s shaded way,
Admitting scarce the moonlight ray,
They on advanced, in cautious haste,
A Horseman sudden darted past;
With muffled cloak, and nodding plume,
And disappeared amidst the gloom.
Ere he had gone, a whistle shrill,
Thrice echoed round the lonely hill:42 D5v 44
Be on your guard!—a follower cries,
Methinks some danger near us lies
Scarce had he spoke, when thronging round,
As they had started from the ground,
Half shaded by the hanging wood,
A band of armed ruffians stood:
The vassals draw, the murderers fire,
And rushing on, with savage ire,
Close the fierce fight—one instant more,
Disarmed, or weltering in their gore,
The brave domestics fall around,
Disputing well the hard fought ground.43 D6r 45
Their bodies pave the assassins way,
Who trampling o’er them seize their prey,
As lost to thought and sense, she lay.
The motion rude, the breeze’s blow,
Recalled her bosom’s anguished throe,
And waked, once more, suspended woe.
She gazed with wild, uncertain stare,
As the red torch’s wavering glare,
Allowed her, by its flash, to mark
Their features, horrid, stern, and dark;
Save me, almighty God!—she cried,
And, with convulsive struggle, tried44 D6v 46
To free her from the Ruffian’s clasp,
Who held her in his iron grasp.
Lady, ’tis vain, forbear, he said;
There is no present cause for dread—
Thou’rt safe—no base banditti we,
From whom thou vainly seek’st to flee—
I say thou’rt safe—mount comrades, ho!—
Hither your help, my good Marco!
His words impart a sudden light,
The truth unveils her doubting sight,
And with it brings a courage high,
A mild, yet fearless dignity.45 D7r 47
Leading a palfrey, Marco came,
And bent his brows for very shame,
As Isabella’s look he met,
When on the prancing palfrey set.
Part of the Horsemen guard her round,
Part stay to clear the battle-ground;
All is prepared—and swiftly now,
They leave the hillock’s blood-stained brow;
And stretching on with speed, soon gain
The centre of her Sire’s domain.
So swift they bend their course direct,
Scarce could her scattered thoughts collect:
Her trusty Steward, well she knew,
Must have exposed, ere this, to view,46 D7v 48
The danger awful, sure, and dread,
Threatening to fall on Venice’ head:
My Father’s saved! my country too!
Then anguish, fear, suspense, adieu!
Thrice welcome Death! I list thy call,
In thy cold arms, resigned I fall;
Oh! thou wilt bid each sorrow cease,
And give my wearied soul release,
’Twill spring to yonder blest abode,
And sue for mercy from its God!—
And yet—there is a mortal here—
Pardon, O God, the rising fear!
Alas! I cannot now prepare,
In holy, heavenly joys to share;—47 D8r 49
Tis Love that binds me down to earth,
And strangles the immortal birth!
Angels protect him! till we meet,
For ever, in yon blissful seat.
A radiant blush her cheek o’erspread,
A smile of purest joy was shed,
As Faith, and Hope, divinely fair,
Whispering said, He’ll meet thee there!—
Her Father’s castle, now in view,
Her suffering bosom rends anew;
Gasping in death, before her eyes,
The faithful, bleeding vassals rise;48 D8v 50
Shrinking with horror, pity’s woe
Teaches the tear suppressed to flow;
’Twas their misfortunes drew that tear,
Which for herself, nor pain, nor fear,
Nor sufferings long, would now have brought,
So firmly were her feelings wrought.
And soon, the craggy rock she spies,
In which, the fatal cavern lies;
Down to the lonely shore they wend,
And to it strait their course they bend.
As near they came, a light-oared boat,
On the green wave is seen to float;49 E1r 51
Beneath the rock it gains the strand,
And safely moors upon the land;
It is our Chief!—a Horseman cried,
God bless him?—the whole band replied:
That prayer, thought Isabel, is vain;
God will reject those words profane!
From out the boat a Warrior sprung,
Whose form seemed graceful, light, and young;
He leapt upon a beetling brow,
And disappeared, she knew not how.
Her heart beat quick, as ’neath the shade
Off the huge steep, their horses staid;E 50 E1v 52
The troop dismount—their armor’s clang,
To her, a death-like signal rang;
O’er her pale cheek the veil she drew,
To heaven, a look of meekness threw;
And following, as the Leader bore
Her trembling steps, they left the shore;
And mounted up the rough rock’s side,
Impending o’er the swelling tide;
A ponderous stone being rolled away,
A passage dark before them lay:
The guardsmen gave a loud halloo,
Ringing from rock, to rock it flew;
And soon were answered from within,
By a far, distant mingled din,51 E2r 53
Twas followed by a faint torch light
That glimmered ’thwart the shade of night,
Striving, with smoky, darkened flare,
Against the frequent rush of air;
Nearer it came, and as it glowed,
By parts, the horrid entrance showed.
Sidona’s voice, she plainly hears,
And near the torch, his form appears;
Approaching fast, with rapid stride,
An instant brought him to her side;
She turned indignant from his look,
His scornful smile could hardly brook;
The Lady Isabel I meet,
With every due respect, to greetE2 52 E2v 54
Her entrance to our rocky hold,
Whose portals grim, and warriors bold
Suit not, I own, a Lady fair,
And least, the great Rosiniere’s Heir:
But, Lady, may I not offend,
Whilst saying, that e’en thou must bend
To harsh Necessity’s decree,
A strongly overpowering plea—
Yet calm, I pray, each anxious fear;
No present danger waits thee here.
Then in a deep, low tone, he said:
Be candid, and there’s nought to dread;
Tell all thou knowst, speak but the truth,
And by my sword I swear, in sooth,53 E3r 55
That thou may’st rest from all alarms,
As safe as in thy Father’s arms;
But if thou thinkest to deceive—
I say no more—the rest I leave—
None dare to list, or tell the woes,
This dark, and gloomy cavern knows.
Thinkst thou, said Isabel, to seize,And fright me, with such tales as these?— Innocence can know no fear, Providence can watch e’en here, Can pierce the cavern’s deadly night, And drag the secret deed to light.— I’ll shew thee what a Maiden dare, I’ll shew thee di Rosiniere’s Heir E3 54 E3v 56 Honors her noble Father’s fame, And will not dim his lustrous name, Or tinge his aged cheek with shame!— Vile ingrate! who beneath his frown, Hast shrunk abashed, and fearful down!
—Lead on!—she spoke, and waved her hand,
With the proud gesture of command.—
Enraged he turned, and stamped the ground,
Half drew his steel, and half looked round,
Then plunged it back, and muttering swore,
As the rough path he measured o’er.
Canto the Second.56 E4v 57 E5r
Is there a woe so deep, so great,
Is there on earth that dreadful state,
When Hope, enchanting Hope, can ne’er
Smooth the dark brow of rugged Care?
Lives there a wretch so void of soul,
Who proud, could spurn her mantling bowl,
Nor venture, with his trembling lip.
The Circe’s tempting cup to sip?58 E5v 60
No! mortals still must cling to thee,
E’en in their last extremity;
Implanted in our natures here,
Thou lead’st us on through pain and fear.—
Soft, kindest Vision! still, oh! still,
Mould me to thy fantastic will!
That form etherial, heavenly bright,
Glittering through dark, and dismal night,
Has pointed oft to prospects fair,
While glowing rich on flimsiest air;
And oft has soothed with fancies wild,
Dark Sorrow’s marked, and stubborn child.
Then ’trance within thy mystic spell
E’en the lost, lovely Isabel!—59 E6r 61
Through many a steep, and fearful way,
That in these nether regions lay,
The ruffian-like, and silent throng,
Proceed with cautious step along;
Now mournful howled the pent-up blast,
Now rushed with sudden keenness past;
And as their torch uncertain played,
With partial light, amidst the shade,
From the cut rock, forms wild, and strange,
Appeared to spring in frightful range.
A secret horror oft would dart,
Thrilling to Isabel’s heart;
But, to her inmost self retired,
Religion, hope once more inspired.60 E6v 62
When near, a sudden light there broke,
Emerging from the parted rock;
And mingled sounds of mirthful cheer
And contest warm, alarm her ear;
Quick to the gaping cleft they drew,
Presenting to her dizzy view,
A cavern spacious, wide, and steep,
That far below projected deep;
In jutting points, its rude walls sprung,
The shelving rock unequal hung;
A lamp suspended, shewed around,
Scattered in groupes upon the ground,
Warriors armed, at ease reclining,
Their cares to mirth, and glee resigning;61 E7r 63
An arched recess its dark front reared,
Within a secret cave appeared;
In which, the assembled Chieftains sate,
Engaged in deep, and close debate;
From whence they stood, steps winding led,
Hewed from their adamantine bed.
The laughter ceased—dead silence reigned,
Fixed, and intent the band remained,
As, part preceded by their guides,
The veiled form descending glides.
Warned by the sudden stillness round,
Scarce had she touched the cavern ground,62 E7v 64
When, issuing from the dark arcade,
The rebel Chiefs their entrance made;
And many a noble Knight she knew,
Esteemed faithful, just, and true.
With slight obeisance they bend,
And to her Father’s treacherous friend,
For a short space, apart they spoke;
Some words, at intervals, that broke,
Reached her attentive ear—one cried,
Sidona, by his word he’s tried;
And faith attends our Chieftain’s word,
As victory his mighty sword—
You know it well—you ought to trust—
Tis more than generous—’tis just.
I yield, he said, against my sense;
But mark, I pray, for my defence,
The end of all your confidence.
Led by two Knights, the trembling Maid
Passed through the deep recess’s shade;
Their Chief within, her entrance waits;—
It seemed to her, death’s very gates,
Where opening to her wearied view;
She entered—and the Knights withdrew.
The cave was small, a dropping well,
In the far end had forced its cell;
One gloomy lamp, with feeble spark,
Broke through the thick, surrounding dark;64 E8v 66
And on the ridge’s rocky side,
By which the cave, and well divide,
A martial form stood half revealed,
Whose clasped hands his face concealed.
Surprised, awhile in deep suspense,
She waits with agony intense;
A feeling, strange, and dreadful, prest,
Foreboding, on her tortured breast;
Back, with chilled start, her life-blood flew,
As, from the ridge, the Chieftain drew;
Slow he advanced—he seized her hand—
Knelt at her feet—’twas Ferdinand!—65 F1r 67
Bereft of sense, pale, cold as clay,
Prest in his arms, the Maiden lay;
That well-known voice, so fond, so dear,
Drew the unconscious, struggling tear,
Thrilled to her heart, and bade it glow,
With sense confused of joy, and woe.
In trembling sighs her bosom rose,
Slowly her tearful eyes unclose,
And wildly gaze, as busy thought,
Her failing recollection brought.
O’er the loved Maid, Montalva hung,
Anguish his softened feelings wrung;
He watched, with eager look, to mark
Reason’s yet slow-reviving spark:F 66 F1v 68
Guard her!— he cried, ye Powers above!My Isabel! my life! my love! Great God, tis vain!—those fiends accurst— Speak to me, or my heart will burst!— Oh! tell me why that falling tear, Why, Isabel, that look of fear, Is not thine own Montalva near?
Then it is true;—she softly said,
The pang is left—the dream is fled!—
From his encircling arms she drew,
With downcast eye, and crimsoned hue;
And strove her yielding heart to steel,
And just, and proud resentment feel;67 F2r 69
’Gainst him, a thousand thoughts combined
Darted across her wavering mind;
Her Father,—country—and his fame
Marked, branded with a traitor’s name;
Yes, from her bleeding heart, she’ll tear
The guilty form, that’s cherished there!
But as she raised her eyes to speak,
His altered mien, his pallid cheek,
His manly brow, deep marked by care,
And bent on her with fixed despair,
O’erturn her thoughts, disarm her pride,
And force the tears, she fain would hide;
At length the quivering accents broke,
And gathered firmness as she spoke.F2 68 F2v 70
My Ferdinand, I ask thee not,
Why honor, fame, and friends forgot;
Severing those sacred ties that bind
E’en the untutored, savage mind;
The Chieftain of a rebel band,
Thou aim’st, with sacrilegious hand,
The steel against thy parent land;
That bred thee, loved, approved, admired,
By hopes of growing worth inspired;
Blinded at length perhaps—twas vain—
She would have called thee home again,
And joyed to see thee come—if not,
Howe’er unjust, and hard, thy lot,69 F3r 71
Tis but the fate too often proved,
By Patriots worshipped, praised, beloved;
Such stain is suffered by the good,
Not washed away in tears, and blood—
I say no more—tis past, tis done,
And with it every hope has flown—
Thy safety now’s my only car;
Stay, stay! Montalva cried, forbear!—Reproaches from that angel tongue, Till now, so fond, so kind, have wrung Each fibre of this stubborn heart— For Isabel inflicts the smart!— Talk not of safety—I have lost A prize beyond Venetia’s cost; F3 70 F3v 72 Unworthy her, indeed I prove, For I have lost thy dearer love!— Thou weepst—those tears, what would they say? Oh! would they drive despair away, And bid me live?—they do—they will— My Isabella loves me still!
Upon her hand a kiss he prest,
And snatched it to his throbbing breast:
Yet hear me, for I fain would try
To clear away this mystery.
I’ve sought my country’s real good,
Not vengeance in her tears, and blood.71 F4r 73
The ills, that on Venetia dwell,
This is no place or time to tell;
Suffice to say, that they are great,
Threatening to seal her speedy fate.
A secret plot had long been laid,
With many a Noble at its head,
To avenge their country’s glory bent,
From the polluted Government
To seize the reins—the Doge o’erthrow,
And, with fair Freedom’s noble glow,
To ’stablish power, from whence to form
A shield against the coming storm.—
Scarce had I passed, with many a sigh,
My country’s loved, last boundary,72 F4v 74
When near a menial groom, I spied,
With eager haste, approaching ride;
The dress disguised a much loved Friend,
Who sought, with many a prayer, to bend
My startled mind, and reasoning bland,
To join me with the leagued band.
And back with him I sped my way,
To where this secret cavern lay.
They hailed me as their Chief, and sware,
Before I yielded to their prayer,
As Nobles valiant, true, and good,
That not one drop of guiltless blood
Should stain the justice of their cause,
—They fought to guard, not crush the laws,—73 F5r 75
And judged by them, and them alone,
Venetia should be free to own
Whether, the Doge to his great trust,
Had Faithful proved, upright, and just.
From hence withdrawn, thy noble Sire
Had nought to fear from vengeful ire;
His lands secured—the time would come,
His Heir might claim her native home.—
“Still noble, e’en in error proved
Most worthy to be esteemed, and loved!
The heaviest fear I had is flown,
Montalva’s honor is his own!74 F5v 76
The time’s too precious now, to name
How to my ears the story came;
But thou’rt deceived, for many here
Are faithless to their oath, I fear.
Shake off the yoke, ere ’tis too late,
Warn them, and leave them to their fate!
One proof I’ll give—thy generous care,
For di Rosiniere’s wretched Heir,
Was vain—when chance revealed to me
This deeply hid conspiracy,
I learnt a hired assassin’s brand,
Directed by Sidona’s hand,
Was, midst to-morrow night’s affray,
My Father in the grave to lay.
Traitor!—Montalva loud exclaimed,
His looks with sudden anger flamed;
He would have darted from the cell,
The wretch, beneath his sword to fell,
And, but she never spoke in vain,
Scarcely could Isabel restrain,
His bursting rage—Montalva, stay!—Ah! wherefore would’st thou haste away! Down from deStruction’s awful brink, A moment hence, thyself may sink!— Oh! list to me, my Ferdinand! E’en now, methinks, I see the brand Raised ’gainst thy life—in pity spare The pangs that Isabel must share! 76 F6v 78
His darkened brow, with pleasure glowed,
Back, through the cave, the Warrior strode:
Ah! lovely Maid! thou knowst too well
The influence of thy witching spell!
Speak but the word, the wish, and I
To earth’s remotest end would fly;
Would stem the torrent, danger brave
In all its shapes, by fire and glave;
Or more, with care this breast would guard,
To meet that fond, that dear reward,
One smile from thee—nay, gaze not so,
I cannot bear that look of woe;77 F7r 79
Cease, my Beloved, thine every fear,
We’re safe, there is no danger near!
There is! there is!—she wildly cried,
Marco’s deceived, his art defied!
—Alas! that brow!—that kindling eye,
Bid every cherished vision fly!
Say on—the utmost horror tell!—
—Thou hast betrayed me—Isabel!
Stern, dreadful, was the pause—within
Was sudden heard a murmuring din;
Higher it rose—a thundering crash,
Followed by armor’s fatal clash,78 F8v 80
And cries confused of deep alarm:
We are surprised!—Our Chief!
Told Ferdinand that all was gone,
For ever ruined, and undone!
Give me my sword!—for me, they cry!—
I come, I come, to fight—to die!
With but one leap the arch he gained,
An angel there his way restrained;
He started back, and breathless gazed,
As Isabel, with eyes upraised,
On bended knees, one lily hand
Stretched as to guard her Ferdinand,79 F8r 81
The other to her forehead strained,
In his wild fiery path remained;
She spoke not, moved not, fragile, fair,
It seemed a form of upper air;
Oh! stay me not! dear Maid, ’tis vain!
I cannot, will not here remain;
Hark! hark! again those shouts! that groan!
One moment more, my honor’s gone!
He raised her to his glowing breast,
Her pallid cheek he gently prest:
Farewell! again we’ll meet!—he cried:
Never!—she awfully replied,
But he was gone—helpless, alone,
She sunk upon the cold, hard stone.80 F8v 82
My young, untutored lays may breathe,
Fancy may twine a simple wreathe,
Of fickle love, of Lady’s sigh,
Of youths that flatter, maids that die;
But dare I hope to tune the string
To fiercer themes?—and trembling sing
Of blood, death, horror!—dismal throng!—
Assist me all ye powers of song!
Assist to tell the dreadful fight,
Which sealed with blood that fatal night!—
Montalva, now, with sword in hand,
And eye of fire, inspires his band;81 G1r 83
Cheered by his voice they rally round,
And once more gain the yielded ground:
On! on!—with waving brands they cry,
For Venice, and for liberty!—
Then headlong plunged, with deadly force,
O’erpowering all that stayed their course:
The blood in torrents flowed amain,
And gluts with death the rude rock fane;
The caverns ring with shouts, and groans,
Victorious cries, heart-rending moans;
Desperate, the rebels fought for life,
All, all, depended on the strife!
Their foes astonished, and subdued,
Yielded to the impetuous flood;G 82 G1v 84
And ’neath its force must soon have bent,
And on the Victor’s mercy leant,
When rushing down, in time to save
Their comrades from the yawning grave,
Fresh numbers pour, with many a Knight,
And noble youth, who sought the fight.
Montalva felt that all was o’er,
Yet, more tremendous than before,
Was seen wherever danger led,
Where’er her bloodiest mantle spread;
With more than mortal strength he fought,
And mowed his way, and set at nought
The numbers still increasing fast,
That must o’erpower his force at last.83 G2r 85
His heart throbbed high, with scornful pride,
As ’mongst the numerous Knights he spied
His haughty foe—Udino too,
Enraged at the indignant view,
Strained every nerve to reach the ground,
Where Ferdinand dealt death around:
Rebel, come on!—he madly cried,
Thou and thy vengeance are defied!
Udino! ’bove my hopes, by heaven!
Again to meet the vengeance given!
Come on, then, Slave! and bid farewell,
To honor, life—and Isabel!
They met, and furious clashed each brand,
Foot strained to foot, and hand to hand;G2 84 G2v 86
The arts of death they tried in vain,
They struggled, stooped, and rose again;
Then springing back, with force renewed
They close, once more, in contact rude.
At last by strength, and skill opprest,
Montalva pierced Udino’s breast:
The blow was sure, he reeled, and fell,
And shrieked, from pain, a death-like yell;
His life gushed with the purple tide;
He cursed his rival, groaned, and died:
Montalva turned—now was no time,
To moralize on death, and crime;
He shuddered at the awful sight,
And plunged into the hottest fight.85 G3r 87
The Chieftains with Montalva, found
They dared not hope to keep the ground;
Rather, must they attempt the way
To unknown caves, that round them lay,
Where lost in darkness, chance might save
Some wretches from the dreaded grave.
Retreating firm, and close, they reach,
With wondrous skill, the hidden breach;
And backwards force, with crashing sound,
The loosened stones that fall around.
They fight, they fly, and still pursued,
The victors’ vengeance still elude;
Or draw them on, where death awaits,
With lurking hand to seal their fates.G3 86 G3v 88
O scene of horror! night of woe!
That bade the Maiden’s tear to flow;
And marked with grief the infant’s eye,
That wept its Mother’s misery.
Oft Pity will their fate bewail,
While listening to the mournful tale.
Darkness, despair, confusion reign,
Friends unperceived, by friends are slain;
Victor, and vanquished seek to fly
From this wild scene of anarchy:
Here and there would a glimmering light,
With sudden flash deceive the sight;87 G4r 89
And sometimes nought but groans are heard,
Sometimes the trembling rebel’s cheered,
By a well known inspiring sound,
His Chieftain’s voice re-echoing round.
Montalva’s bosom thrills with pain,
His cause o’erthrown, his warriors slain,
His memory darkened by a stain,
Which if successful he had proved,
Had worshipped been, revered, and loved;
Then Isabel rushed on his mind,
Pale, lovely, suffering, and resigned;
The image fires his maddening brain;
Death he implores, yet seeks in vain,88 G4v 90
Striking his brow, with clenched hand,
He gazes on his blood-stained brand:
Wouldst thou but do for me, he cried,
The deed with which thy blade is dyed!—
Alas! it must not, dare not, be,
Death I will find—but not from thee!—
Scarce had he spoke, when treading near,
A heavy footstep strikes his ear;
A light, emerging from the gloom,
Glares on a Warrior’s crested plume;
Slowly, with naked sword, he goes—
That stately form, Montalva knows;
The high, stern mien, the brow of care,
Bespeak the great Rosiniere!89 G5r 91
Reflected back, the beam declined
On an uplifted arm behind;
With noiseless step, a form pursued,
As the unconscious Warrior strode;
It was Sidona’s dastard hand,
That raised the vile assassin’s brand;
And marked by murder’s dire intent,
His eye-balls strained, his dark brows bent,
His threatening sword, too plainly show,
He aims the secret fatal blow.
Montalva marked, and watchful gazed—
His arm, at length, Sidona raised,
The nervous blow descending fell,
But missed the Sire of Isabel—90 G5v 92
A generous guardian’s breast it found,
—Twas Ferdinand received the wound!—
Base wretch! assassin vile!—he cried,
For knightly word, and faith belied,
Take this—and this!—in instant death,
The murderer yields his guilty breath.
Rosiniere stood in fixed amaze,
As his eyes met Montalva’s gaze;
Scarce credit to his sight could give,
That Ferdinand should bid him live!
A firm-sworn friend had sought his blood,
An enemy his guardian stood!91 G6r 93
Tis strange!—at length, he said, thy swordShould e’er unsheath this breast to guard!— And yet, tis sure, howe’er it be, Rosiniere owes his life to thee; And thou wilt find, that he can ne’er Ungrateful prove—by heaven I swear, The life, I now, from thee, call mine, I’d freely spend in saving thine.
Montalva sheathed his bloody brand,
And strained Rosiniere’s proffered hand:
Few words are best—my Child is stayed
A captive here—yield up the Maid,92 G6v 94
Then, safe beneath my power’s defence,
Without delay, they’ll lead thee hence—
Rely on me, my word is sure,
I’ve said it—and thy life’s secure.
Though gratitude Rosiniere swayed,
Policy lurked beneath its shade.
By honor, fame, and virtue led,
The poor man’s friend—the oppressor’s dread,
Young Ferdinand in exile, still,
He saw could mould the public will;
His death, though once so much desired,
Would blaze the spark his touch had fired;93 G7r 95
But, could he win him to his side,
Work on his feelings, bend his pride,
By yielding up his Daughter’s hand,
Then, as a rock, his power would stand;
Strengthened by him, his friend, his son,
Glorious, undimmed, his race would run.
With instant force, Rosiniere’s mind
Seized on the thought, the plan designed:
He dreamt not, that by power unmoved,
His country, for herself, was loved;
That neither awed by fear, nor shame,
The Patriot well deserved the name;
That not his Daughter’s matchless charms
Could lure him from his country’s arms.94 G7v 96
With candid brow, and open mien,
In which mistrust was rarely seen:
Generous, great Man!—Montalva cried,
How has Report thy worth belied!
Pardon me, if with pride I glow,
While boasting such a noble foe!—
Yet urge me not, all hope is vain,
Condemned the life thou wouldst retain;
Vainly may love, power, safety call,
For honor I resign them all,
And by my sword will rise or fall.
Now, follow me, that I may place
Thy Daughter in her Sire’s embrace;95 G8r 97
Consign her to paternal care,—
Breathe for her happiness a prayer,—
One last farewell, then—all is o’er,
My wretched fate can do no more!
Strong anguish choked the faltering sound,
And as it faintly echoed round,
He seized the torch, and hurrying on,
Darted the dangerous paths along;
But as he went, his trembling hand,
Prest to his side the cuirass band,
To staunch the blood, that faster flowed,
As the young daring Warrior strode:
Now first Rosiniere marked the wound,
The red drops trickling to the ground;96 G8v 98
But vainly to Montalva cried,
Tis nought, tis nought,—the Chief replied.
No sound assailed them as they past,
Except the chill, and howling blast;
Worse than the battle’s horrid roar,
The shrieks of pain were heard no more;
The still, dead calm, struck cold, and drear,
Death flapped his wings, and feasted near.
With secret awe was each opprest,
It touched Rosiniere’s hardened breast;
And pierced, with sorrow’s mingled smart,
Montalva’s proud, yet feeling heart.97 H1r 99
They reached the cave—assembling where,
The troops their wounded comrades bear;
Around the shout of triumph flew,
As entering, near Montalva drew.
On the insulting crowd, his eye
Flashed with proud scorn and agony;
But softened almost to a tear,
When he beheld the captives near:
Bound hand, and foot, his bandsmen brave,
In silence, cursed the pitying grave,
And stretched the chains to their loved Chief,
As if he still could bring relief;
Montalva turned him from the view,
Rosiniere spoke, the crowd withdrew,H 98 H1v 100
Passing the deep recess, they gained
The inner cell, that yet retained
That peerless Fair, to both so dear,
A prey to horror, anguish, fear.
The lamp had long resigned its light,
And all was wrapt in thickest night;
Montalva, shuddering, gazed around,
And raised the torch, when on the ground,
Prostrate before her Maker laid,
He saw the lovely, suppliant Maid,
Her cheek, with hope celestial, glowed;
Her head in meek submission bowed;99 H2r 101
Even on earth she seemed to claim
Her native skies—the tender frame,
Scarce, with its flimsy veil, enshrined
The saint-like, heaven-aspiring mind,
Scarce hid the soul, from mortal eye,
Struggling for immortality.
As they approached, she rose, when near,
Her Father’s voice chased every fear:
Forward she sprang, in fond surprise:
He’s safe! my Father’s safe!—she cries.
He kissed her cherub cheek, with more
Of love, than e’er he felt before:
Hush every care, and all is well,
My Child! my injured Isabel!H2 100 H2v 102
A Hero’s hand was sent to save
Thy Father, from the assassin’s glave;
A generous foe received the wound,
And felled the murderer to the ground;
And thou wilt thank, nay love the hand,
That raised for me the guardian brand:
Yes, thou must love him—dost say no?
Then look around and tell him so.
Her heart, with sudden hope, beat high,
She turned, and met Montalva’s eye:
A transient glow o’erspread his face,
He claspt her in a wild embrace:101 H3r 103
Thou’rt mine! thou’rt mine! he sternly cried,
And fate itself shall not divide
Montalva, from his lovely bride!
Heaven, and our Father’s honored hand,
Have tied the holy nuptial band!—
Thy love, thy prayer, in death’s cold hour,
Will plead for me, arrest his power!—
Ah! no!—tis vain!—tis past!—tis o’er—
My Isabel—we meet no more!
Then with a deep, and lengthened groan,
He sunk exhausted, fainting, down;
His pallid cheek, his closing eye,
His quivering, and convulsive sigh,H3 102 H3v 104
Struck cold to Isabel, who stood,
With horror, gazing on the blood;
Oh! can it, can it be!—she cried,
And trembling sought her Father’s side;
But as she spoke, her mind strong, high,
Resumed its wonted energy.
To him she flew, beside him knelt,
Loosed the oppressive iron belt,
Her firm, yet gentle hand applied,
To staunch the gushing dark-red tide;
And tore her veil, and tightly bound,
And closely prest the gaping wound;
To the clear well, Rosiniere flew,
And water in his helmet drew;103 H4r 105
She bathed his brow—his throbbing head
Upon her snowy bosom laid.
The cup of hope, though from her lip,
Dashed as she trembling bent to sip,
No word, no sigh; no sorrowing plaint,
Escaped the mild, the suffering Saint,
Soon to her Sire a look she cast,
And waved her hand—in instant haste,
He left the cell, some Monk to find,
Who, haply had remained behind,
The last sad office to prepare,
For those, who claimed, his pious care.
Meanwhile the Maid, with sorrow bent,
O’er the expiring Warrior leant:
Her soul, collected, firmly stood,
Midst scenes of horror, guilt, and blood,
Spurning the earth, it sought the abode
Where Mercy dwells, and rests on God.
Almighty Power! on thee, I trust!
Whate’er thy will—tis right!—tis just!—
Oh! if it seal the awful doom,
That calls him to his last, long home,
By the blest Cross, his sins forgiven,
May angels waft him up to Heaven!—
Montalva, as she softly prayed,
Signs of returning life betrayed,—105 H5r 107
His eyes unclose—hope fondly clings,
And round her heart, its magic flings:
He paused awhile—then spoke, and prest
The Cross suspended from her waist;
A Seraph pleads!—tis not in vain—
At rest is every earthly pain—
Each stormy passion hushed—the world
Seems but a speck, by billows hurled—
Ambition, power, those paltry things!
The bane of men, the toy of kings,
Receding from my closing view,
Like bubbles burst, as empty too!—
But love, from all its dross refined,
Pure as thine own, still sways my mind;106 H5v 108
That love has smoothed my dying bed;
My wandering steps to Heaven has led:
Thither I go, for thee to wait,
Till Time shall cut thy thread of fate;
Till thy soft spirit takes it flight,
And leaves these shades of dreary night,
To mix with mine in joy, and light!
He ceased, and languor, once again,
Gave place to still increasing pain;
Round him her lovely arms she threw,
And prest the cheek of ashen hue;
To soothe his mind she anxious strove,
With accents mild, of peace, and love;107 H6r 109
But oft, as pain forgot, he hung,
Enraptured on her angel tongue,
Down her pale cheek the tears would course,
And rising sobs their passage force.
Her Sire returned, and with him came
A holy Friar, of pious fame,
In medicine skilled, renowned for lore,
For worth, and real goodness more.
Too late!—Montalva cried, too late!All aid is vain, and fixed my fate— Grieve not Rosiniere, rather know That, for my country’s sake, thy foe 108 H6v 110 I ever must have been—nor e’er Could join with thee, from love or fear— Soon will these lips be closed in death, Yet to the last, my quivering breath Shall spend itself, in suing thee To set that dear-loved country free— Tis in thy hand—Rosiniere, well Thou knowest all, that I could tell; And I implore thee by the Power, That watches o’er my dying hour; By this guardian steel of mine; By the blood I’ve shed for thine; By thy Daughter’s virtuous love; By pains below, and joys above, 109 H7r 111 To change ambition’s selfish flame, For the pure light of honest fame; To prove the friend of Virtue’s cry, Of justice, truth, and liberty!
Rosiniere bent his haughty brow,
Montalva smiled: I ask not nowThat to my warning thou shouldst bend, And kneeling by a dying friend, Should swear to yield thy every will, His sacred mandate to fulfil.— I ask thee, but to probe thy heart, Its secret springs, its hidden part— All then is safe—for thou wilt spare The deep disgrace, thyself must share— 110 H7v 112
We part as friends?—to his mailed breast,
The proffered hand, Rosiniere prest,
And o’er his brow his mantle drew,
To shade the starting tear from view.
And now, the solemn rites began,
With prayers for the expiring man.
The taper gleamed with sickly ray,
As its light glimmered slow away,
And scarcely served to shew between
The mournful, awe-inspiring scene.
Stretched on the hard, and rugged rock,
That jutting round, in rude points broke,111 H8r 113
The wounded Warrior lay—that cheek,
And bloodless lip, near death bespeak;
That form so manly, graceful, brave,
Is bending o’er the opening grave;
But not e’en death approaching nigh,
Can tame the ardor of that eye,
Glowing with love, by anguish fired,
Or by high hopes of heaven inspired;
While all around, the crimson flood,
Dyes deep his flinty bed in blood.
Supporting his reclining head,
And kneeling, bends the pale, sad Maid;112 H8v 114
So cold, so fixed, so very fair,
But that her lips oft move in prayer,
It seems a Grecian statue there—
Yet, ah! no chisel e’er could trace
The expression of that heavenly face!
And at his feet, with pitying look,
The Father opes his clasped book;
In meek devotion lifts his eyes,
His prayers in solemn softness rise,
And move to awe, almost to fear,
A martial figure standing near:
Obscured yet deeper in the gloom,
His glittering steel, his waving plume,113 I1r 115
But scarce perceived—Rosiniere stood
In stern, and melancholy mood;
With folded arms, and eyes cast down,
And brows contracted to a frown.
But ere the Monk, with pious dread,
The dying ceremonial read,
With sudden start Montalva sprung,
And anguish, from its victim, wrung
One lowly moan—the trembling Priest
Upraised the Cross, the prayers he ceased;
The sufferer signed, and bowed his head,
And to the holy Father said:I 114 I1v 116
I die in peace with all mankind,
In faith, repentant, and resigned!
His closing eyes were raised again,
Although with agonizing pain,
To gaze on her he loved so well:
Mourn not for me, dear Isabel,
For I am happy—yet once more—
And every earthly struggle’s o’er—
Ah! cheer my Mother’s age—remove
Her sorrows with—a Daughter’s love!—
One last embrace—one look—farewell!—
May God protect thee—Isabel!
Twas o’er—by waiting cherubs led,
Montalva’s noble spirit fled!—115 I2r 117
Yet still the Maid, on her chilled breast,
The lifeless hero fondly prest,
Gazed in despair, yet softly said:
I may not weep—he is not dead!—
Then with a shriek, so loud, so shrill,
It pierced the caverns drear, and still,
She dashed upon the fatal spot,
With every care, and pain forgot.
Sad is the tale, and deep the woe,
And oft has taught the tear to flow;
And can there be a gem more dear
Than soft-eyed Pity’s trembling tear?I2 116 I2v 118
It vies with dimpled charms that play,
If adown Childhood’s cheek it stray;
And lovelier tis in Beauty’s eye,
Than all her matchless brilliancy!—
However rude the untaught strain,
That tells of Isabella’s pain,
Yet cold the heart, that will not share
The woes of Maid, so young, so fair.
But hark! methinks a convent bell
Strikes on the ear with solemn knell!
What may there be? some Virgin sure,
(Whom worldly joys in vain allure,117 I3r 119
Whose guarded bosom, pleasure, love,
And youthful hope, have failed to move,)
The consecrated veil assumes,
And seeks the cloister’s living tombs.
Observe the ceremonial dread,
That marks her with the buried dead.
Assembling now, in solemn state,
The Doge, and all his Nobles sate;
To honor, by their presence there,
A Maiden noble, virtuous, fair,
The great Rosiniere’s beauteous Heir!
Ah! hope for her, has ceased to glow,
Sacred then be the Virgin’s woe!I3 118 I3v 120
Montalva’s aged Parent dead,
She seeks to lay her weary head
On mild Devotion’s lap—where free,
She may, with bright-robed Charity,
And holy, pure Communion find,
Balm to her torn and suffering mind.
Seraphic music floats around,
And virgins strew, with flowers, the ground;
Hundreds of chaunting voices raise
The inspiring note, of heavenly praise;
While dazzling tapers mock the day;
And all around, in proud array,119 I4r 121
Nobles, brave Knights, and Ladies fair,
Blaze forth in costly jewels rare.
Soft dies the strain—with trembling pace,
Adorned by every youthful grace,
By Virtue crowned, in beauty’s glow,
—Isabel advances slow!—
On either side, a Novice fair,
The self-devoted victim bear;
Within her jetty tresses twined,
Her brow the mystic roses bind;
The cloister veil, with snowy fold,
Circles her form’s aerial mould.
And now she kneels—her vows are said—
The blessing poured upon her head—120 I4v 122
The Virgins raise the veil of white,
Revealing to the eager sight,
That face, so lovely, mild, and meek,
Though dim the eye, though pale the cheek,
A glowing blush, with transient ray,
Past o’er, and quickly died away;
A murmur rose, a mournful cry,
Tears, trembling stood in every eye;
One look, one single look, she cast
On that fair world—it was her last!—
The cloistered cell, her calm abode,
She dedicates her life to God.
Mr. Repton having shewn me his beautiful designs for laying out the Gardens at Ashridge, gave rise to the two following poems.
The Monk’s Garden. Lord Bridgewater’s house at Ashridge is built on the site of an old Monastery, of which no trace remains, excepting a well three hundred feet deep, and as extensive wine vault—this serves to explain several allusions in these two poems.
Now stay we here—this shady seat
Invites us to a cool retreat;
Here, while in ease we rest reclined,
And Zephyr wantons in the wind,124 I6v 126
And flowers their richest bloom disclose,
And genial Summer o’er us throws
Her varied charms, and soft repose,
Here, let us meditate awhile,
And the day’s sultry hours beguile.
I rhyme not to that senseless soul,
From whom fair Nature never stole
A fond approving smile—nor e’er
More than a thousand smiles, one tear!
Who treads alike on classic ground,
Or o’er the grave’s uplifted mound,
With careless step, and vacant eye,
And hard insensibility.—125 I7r 127
For here on classic ground we tread,
Here, o’er the dwelling of the dead,
Our footsteps rove—this smiling scene
These flowery beds, and tufts of green,
Mimic the bowers of monkish pleasure,
When Friars spent here their hours of leisure.
The close-clipt box, the embroidered bed,
In rows, and formal order laid,
And shaped like graves, (for mindful still
Of their last end, the Church doth will,
E’en in their joys, her Sons should be,
Pensive in very gaiety.)
The narrow path that lay between,
Had led to shades of emerald green;126 I7v 128
While all around, the mournful yew,
Through clipped arcades, had given to view,
The holy Cross, and many a Saint
In sculpture rude, and verses quaint.
And as I rest, the convent bell,
Methinks I hear, with solemn knell,
Summon the Monks to even prayer;
When by the torch’s reddening glare,
Through lengthened cloisters, treading slow,
With measured step, they silent go:
Methinks I hear the mournful sound
Of saddest Requiem, murmuring round,
And ushering to its final goal,
Some dear departed Brother’s soul!—127 I8r 129
Yet deem not from this sombre scene,
Pleasure unknown to holy Men;
For oft did hypocritic show
Hide laughing Mirth’s convivial glow;
And oft was license vile, and free,
Masked by hard, stern severity.
However the monastic plan
Clashed with the perfect good of Man,
Yet happiness it oft conferred;
For here the Suppliant’s prayer was heard;
And here the Church her mantle spread
To shield the helpless Orphan’s head;128 I8v 130
The young and unprotected Maid
Was safe beneath its holy shade;
Here had the way-worn traveller rest;
Here, those whom keen Misfortune prest
Protection found, that hushed each fear,
While Pity staid the falling tear.
But, who could wish that Rome again,
(With Pride, and Folly in her train,)
Should mount her triple-mitred throne;
Again make crouching Europe groan;
Spread Ignorance’s thickening cloud,
And Superstition’s deadly shroud;129 K1r 131
Exalt to heaven the holy See,
Trampling insulted Majesty?
Phantom, avaunt! thy partial good,
Is bought with tears, and stained with blood!
Oh! mayst thou never more intrude
On this mild, happy Solitude!
Thy Benedictine rules severe,
Are now at length, forgotten here;
Ashridge’s mansion rears its head
And all, save peace, and joy, are fled!—
The Broad Sanctuary.
Let no unhallowed footstep here intrude!
Sacred this shade, and awful solitude!—
Now twilight sheds her pensive gloom around,
And all is still—save when the solemn sound
Of deep-toned organ, swelling on the air,
Softens, and elevates the soul to prayer.
Now—with Religion’s hope, and holy sigh,
With Contemplation’s meek and lifted eye
Adore the Presence here—for God is nigh!—131 K2r 133
Thou great first Cause! most wondrous are thy ways!
An unconfused, inextricable maze!
We see one grand, sublime, and simple plan,
Distinct through all:—yet Man! presuming Man,
Grasping at knowledge, with rash hand profane,
Would rend the Temple’s sacred veil in twain—
Would Time, and Nature’s secret depths explore,
And gaze on vast Eternity’s dread shore!
Forbear the wish! nor vainly seek to know,
When tasting might be death, and knowledge woe;
Man’s reason, nurtured in the shades of night,
Would sink o’erwhelmed beneath such blaze of light;K2 132 K2v 134
His powers are suited to that middle state,
That link of being fixed, ordained by Fate;
Resembling still their transitory frame,
In each they vary, though in all the same:
Hence, differing manners, tastes, pursuits arise,
Prompting mankind to various enterprise.
Look but around—this stately pile he rears
A lasting monument to future years,
And with masonic art his taste displays
The chaste, and lofty style of other days:
Mark yon pellucid fountains as they play,
And murmuring gently force their prisoned way;133 K3r 135
Late hid by Earth’s impenetrable shield,
Now forced by human industry, they yield
Their life reviving streams—by human toil,
The flowery tribe spring from the ungenial soil,
Here spread their fragrant balm, unfold their hues,
Varied and rich, luxuriantly profuse.
From him, who sits in high imperial state,
To him, who bears a peasant’s humbler fate,
Each in his sphere may variously excel,
All have, at least, the power of doing well:
But few there are whose energies of mind
Increase the general welfare of mankind;
Thus, savage War rolls down her streams of blood,
And, (swept away by the impetuous flood)K3 134 K3v 136
Art, Science, Agriculture disappear,
While Tyranny, and hard Oppression rear
Their iron front!—yet tis not ’gainst Heaven’s plan,
But part of it, that Man should prey on Man.
Here, free from prejudice, and bigot rage,
Still may we bless this country and this age.
Religion here in decent garb is seen,
Unstained, and pure, her mild, seraphic mien:
Far from proud Superstition’s gaudy glare,
Her secret horrors and her grim despair;
Far from dark, furious, puritanic rant,
Its narrow doctrine, and familiar cant;135 K4r 137
And farther still, may boast that we are free
From impious, atheistic liberty.
Oh! may our hallowed domes to heaven ascend!
And o’er a lost, and guilty world suspend,
Longer, the Almighty wrath!—for mercy plead,
And by the bright example, nations lead
To bend before the Power Supreme—and bind
In one Broad Sanctuary all Mankind!
Ode to Spring.
Genial Goddess! kind, and free!
Nature’s first born! I twine for thee,
A simple wreath of poesy,
Thou Maiden young, and fair!137 K5r 139
Come in thy loosely-flowing vest,
Blushing with health, by mirth carest,
In every varied charm confest,
Propitious to my prayer!
Now hoary Winter hides his head.
And rising beauties round are spread,
Unfolding to the view;
The cowslip, and the primrose pale,
The violet that scents the gale,
And snowdrop’s virgin hue.138 K5v 140
These, for thy feet a carpet lay,
Oh! haste thee Nymph! no longer stay!
For Zephyr laughs in wanton play,
Yet sighs alas! for thee!
And Philomel, in every grove,
Tunes the soft note of fondest love;
And gently moans the turtle dove,
In sweetest reverie.
Oh! come, and with thy magic power.
Adorn the Poet’s verdant bower,
Smile on the Peasant’s strain!
Even in courts thy influence show,
Teach them with Nature’s charms to glow,
Nor let them bloom in vain!—139 K6r 141
Touch the celestial Muse with fire,
And as she sweeps the soft-toned lyre,
Every breathing note inspire;
E’en thus did Milton sing:
Warmed with thy glowing, fervid ray,
Imagination seized the sway,
And with thy charms it died away,
And all was flown with Spring;
Summer’s radiant, burning sky,
Autumn’s rich, luxuriant dye,
And Winter’s cheerful blaze,
Yield to thy simple vest of green,
Thy rosy smile, where joy is seen,
And Hope for ever plays!
From La Vue D’Anet.
Quittons les bois, et les montagnes,
Je vois conler la Broye a travers les roseaux,
Son onde, partagie en differens canaux,
S’egare avec plaisir dans les vertes campagnes,
Et forme dans la plaine, un labyrinthe d’eaux,
Riviere tranquille et cherie;
J’aime à suivre tes détours!
Sou eau silencieuse en son paisible cours,
Presente à mon esprit l’image de la vie:
Il semble immobile, et s’éconle tojours.
Let us quit the woods and mountain,
For see—Broye’s glittering fountain
Behind the foliage plays!
A watery labyrinth it flows,
And loves its beauties to disclose,
As wantonly it strays.
For ever dear, and silent stream;
Emblem of life’s swift fleeting dream
I love to trace thy course;
Like thee, life motionless appears,
And like thee, runs with endless tears,
And deep, and rapid force.
From the French.
With wary step the icy field we tread,
Where yawning gulphs, their deep, dark graves display—
So learn false Pleasure’s glistening path to dread,
The surface skim, but rest not on the way.—
Ode to Fancy.
Ever brilliant, fair, and young,
Hither spread thy witching spell!
Dear, deceiving Fancy come,
And wake the soft harmonious shell!
Hark! the trembling sound,
Murmuring floats around!
Renew the plaintive, dying strain,
And steep each sense in pleasing pain!—
Ah! Fancy’s fairy form I see;
And now—her thrilling touch I feel!
Now—lost is stern reality,
And fixed her magic seal!
Free as the air I rove,
The bowers of peace and love;
Enchanting Cupid round them throws,
His dear delights, and mimic woes!
Or by the moonlight’s trembling shade,
Sprites gibber, shriek, and fly:
Or Knights release some captive Maid,
Or cloistered Virgins sigh—
In the field of gay Romance,
In tournament, and dance,
Their constant love, their polished courtesy,
Mark the bold Sons of ancient Chivalry—
Varying the ever-moving scene,
A softer, purer glow is thrown;
Love’s fond transports, horror’s dream,
Touched by the Fairy’s wand, are flown—
She holds for me
The wreath of poesy!—
Yet soft recedes!—fly not for pity!—stay! de-
Tis vain!—the glittering vision smiles, and gently—fades away!