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Toward the kneeling troop he spread his arms,
As if the expanded soul diffused itself.
And carried to all spirits with the act
Its effluent inspiration. Silently
The people knelt, and when they rose, such awe
Held them in silence, that the eagle's cry,
Who far above them, at her highest flight
A speck scarce visible, wheeled round and round,
Was heard distinctly; and the mountain stream,
Which from the distant glen sent forth its sound
Wafted upon the wind, was audible
In that deep hush of feeling, like the voice
Of waters in the stillness of the night.
As in precipitate rout they fled before
The Asturian sword : the vales and hills and rocks
Received their blood, and where they fell the wolves
At evening found them.
From the fight apart
Two Africans had stood, who held in charge
Count Eudon. When they saw their countrymen
Falter, give way, and fly before the foe,
One turned toward him with malignant rage,
And saying, Intidel ! thou shalt not live
To join their triumph! aimed against his neck
The moony falchion's point. His comrade raised
A hasty hand and turned its edge aside,
Yet so that o'er the shoulder glancing down
It scarred him as it past. The murderous Moor,
Not tarrying to secure bis vengeance, fled;
While he of milder mood, at Eudon's feet
Fell and embraced his knees. The conqueror
Who found them thus, withheld at Eudon's voice
His wrathful hand, and led them to his Lord.
That awful silence still endured, when one,
Who to the northern entrance of the vale
Had turned his casual eye, exclaimed, The Moors! -
For from the forest verge a troop were seen
Hastening toward Pedro's hall. Their forward speed
Was checked when they beheld his banner spread,
And saw his ordered spears in prompt array
Marshalled to meet their coining. But the pride
Of power and insolence of long command
Pricked on their Chief presumptuous : We are come
Late for prevention, cried the haughty Moor,
But never time more fit for punishment!
These unbelieving slaves must feel and know
Their master's arm!-on, faithful Musselmen,
On-on-and hew down the rebellious dogs!-
Then as he spurred his steed, Allah is great!
Mahommed is his prophet! he exclaimed,
And led the charge.
Count Pedro met the Chief
In full career; he bore him from his horse
A full spear's length upon the lance transfixed;
Then leaving in his breast the mortal shaft,
Past on, and breaking through the curban'd files
Opened a path. Pelayo, who that day
Fought in the ranks afoot, for other war
Yet unequipped, pursued and smote the foe,
But ever on Alphonso at his side
Retained a watchful eye. The gallant boy
Gave his good sword that hour its earliest taste
Of Moorish blood, -that sword whose hungry edge,
Through the fair course of all his glorious life
From that auspicious day, was fed so well.
Cheap was the victory now for Spain achieved;
For the first fervour of their zeal inspired
The Mountaineers, the presence of their Chiefs,
The sight of all dear objects, all dear ties,
The air they breathed, the soil whereon they trod,
Duty, devotion, faith, and hope and joy.
And little had the misbelievers weened
In such impetuous onset to receive
A greeting deadly as their own intent;
Victims they thought to find, not men prepared
And eager for the fight; their confidence
gave way to wonder, and dismay
Effected what astonishment began.
Scattered before the impetuous Mountaineers,
Buckler and spear and scymitar they dropt,
Count Pedro and Alphonso and the Prince
Stood on a little rocky eminence
Which overlooked the vale.
Pedro had put
His helmet off, and with sonorous horn
Blew the recall; for well he knew what thoughts,
Calm as the Prince appeared and undisturbed,
Lay underneath his silent fortitude ;
And how at this eventful juncture speed
Imported more than vengeance.
Thricc he sent
The long-resounding signal forth, which rung
From hill to hill, re-echoing far and wide.
Slow and unwillingly his men obeyed
The swelling horn's reiterated call;
Repining that a single foe escaped
The retribution of that righteous hour.
With lingering step reluctant from the chase
They turned, -their veins full-swoln, their sinews strung
For battle still, their hearts unsatisfied;
| Their swords were dropping still with Mooriskı gore,
And where they wiped their reeking brows, the stain
Of Moorish blood was left. But when they came
Where Pedro, with Alphonso at his side,
Stood to behold their coming, then they prest,
All emulous, with gratulation round,
Extolling for his deeds that day displayed
The noble boy. Oh! when had Heaven, they said,
With such especial favour manifest
Illustrated a first essay in arms!
They blest the father from whose loins he sprung,
The mother at whose happy breast he fed;
And prayed that their young hero's fields might be
Many, and all like this.
Thus they indulged
The honest heart, exuberant of love,
When that loquacious joy at once was checked,
For Eudon and the Moor were led before
Count Pedro, Both came fearfully and pale,
But with a different fear: the African
Felt at this crisis of liis destiny
Such appreliension as without reproach
Might blanch a soldier's cheek, when life and death
Hang on another's will, and helplessly
He must abide the issue. But the thoughts
Which quailed Count Eudon's heart, and made his limbs
Quiver, were of his own unworthiness,
Old enmity, and that he stood in power
To gain such terms, such honourable terms— Of hated and hereditary foes.
Terms! cried Pelayo, cutting short at once I came not with them willingly! he cried,
That dastard speech, and checking, ere it grew Addressing Pedro and the Prince at once,
Too powerful for restraint, the incipient rage, Rolling from each to each his restless eyes
Which in indignant murmurs breathing round, Aghast,--the Moor can tell I had no choice;
Rose like a gathering storm. Learn thou what terms They forced me from my castle :—in the fight
Asturias, this day speaking by my voice, They would have slain me:--see I bleed! The Moor Doth constitute to be the law between Can witness that a Moorish scymitar
Thee and thy country. Our portentous age, loflicted this:-he saved me from worse hurt:
As with an earthquake's desolating force,
I did not come in arms:-he knows it all;-
Hath loosened and disjointed the whole frame
Speak, man, and let the truth be known to clear Of social order, and she calls not pow
For service with the voice of sovereign will.
Thus as he ceased, with fear
That which was common duty in old times,
And rapid utterance panting open-mouthed,
Becomes an arduous, glorious virtue now; Count Pedro half represt a mournful smile,
And every one, as between Hell and Heaven, Wherein compassion seemed to mitigate
In free election must be left to chuse. His deep contempt. Methinks, said he, the Moor Asturias asks vot of thee to partake Might with more reason look himself to find
The cup which we have pledged; she claims from none An intercessor, than be called upon
The dauntless fortitude, the mind resolved,
To play the pleader's part. Didst thou then save Which only God can give;—therefore such peace
The Baron from thy comrades?
As thou canst find where all around is war,
She leaves thee to enjoy. But think not, Count,
Show mercy to me, said the Musselman,
That because thou art weak, one valiant arm, As I am free from falsehood. We were left,
One generous spirit must be lost to Spain! I and another, holding him in charge;
The vassal owes no service to the Lord My fellow would have slain him when he saw
Who to his country doth acknowledge none. How the fight fared: I turned the scymitar
The summons which thou hast not heart to give, Aside, and trust that life will be the meed
I and Count Pedro over thy domains
For life by me preserved.
Will send abrord; the vassals who were thine
Nor shall thy trust,
Will fight beneath our banners, and our wants
Rejoined the Count, be vain. Say farther now, Shall from thy lands, as from a patrimony
From whence ye came,- your orders what:— what which hath reverted to the common stock,
Be fed: such tribute, too, as to the Moors In Gegio, and if others like yourselves
Thou renderest, we will take: It is the price
Are in the field!
Which in this land for weakness must be paid
The African replied,
While evil stars prevail. And mark me, Chief!
We came from Gegio, ordered to secure
Fear is a treacherous counsellor! I know This Baron on the way, and seek thee here
Thou thinkëst that beneath his horses' hoofs To bear thee hence in bonds. A messenger
The Moor will trample our poor numbers down. From Cordoba, whose speed denoted well
But join not, in contempt of us and Heaven, He came with urgent tidings, was the cause
His multitudes! for if thou shouldst be found Of this our sudden movement. We went forth
Against thy country, on the nearest tree Three hundred men; and equal force was sent Thy recreant bones shall rattle in the wind, For Cangas, on like errand as I ween.
When the crows have left them bare. Four hundred in the city then were left.
As thus he spake, If other force be moving from the south,
Count Eudon heard and trembled : every joint I know not, save that all appearances
Was loosened, every fibre of his flesh
Denote alarm and vigilance.
Thrilled, and from every pore effused, cold sweat
Clung on his quivering limbs. Shame forced it forth, Fixed upon Eudon then his eye severe;
Envy and inward consciousness, and fear Baron, he said, the die of war is cast;
l'redominant, which stifled in his heart What part art thou prepared to take ? against, Hatred and rage. Before his livid lips Or with the oppressor?
Could shape to utterance their essayed reply,
Not against my friends, Compassionately Pedro interpos d.
Not against you !-the irresolute wretch replied, Go, Baron, to the castle, said the Count;
Hasty, yet faltering in his fearful speech:
There let thy wound be looked to, and consult
Bul-have ye weighed it well ?— It is not yet
Thy better mind at leisure. Let this Moor
Too late,-their numbers,—their victorious force, Allend upon thee there, and, when thou wilt,
Which hath already trodden in the dust
Follow thy fortunes. — To Pelayo then
The sceptre of the Goths;—the throne destroyed, - He turned, and saying, All-too-long, O Prince,
Our towns subdued, -
,-our country overrun, -
Hath this unlooked-for conflict held thee here,-
The people to the yoke of their new Lords
He bade his gallant men begin their march.
Resigned in peace-Can I not mediate ?
Were it not better through my agency
Flushed with success, and in auspicious hour,
The Mountaineers set forth. Blessings and prayers
Pursued them at their parting, and the tears
Which fell were tears of fervour, not of grief.
The sun was verging to the western slope
Of Heaven, but they till midnight travelled ou;
Renewing then at carly dawn their way,
They held their unremitting course from morn
Till latest eve, such urgent cause impelled ;
And night had closed around, when to the vale
Where Sella in her ampler bed receives
Pionia's stream they came. Massive and black
Pelayo's castle there was seen; its lines
And battlements against the deep blue sky
Distinct in solid darkness visible.
No light is in the tower. Eager to know
The worst, and with that fatal certainty
To terminate intolerable dread,
He spurred his courser forward. All his fears
Too surely are fulfilled, for open stand
The doors, and mourofully at times a dog
Fills with his howling the deserted ball.
A moment overcome with wretchedness,
Silent Pelayo stood! recovering then,
Lord God, resigned he cried, thy will be done!
Count, said Pelayo, Nature hath assigned
Two sovereign remedies for human grief;
Religion, surest, firmest, first and best,
Strength to the weak and to the wounded balm;
And strenuous action next. Thiok not I came
With unprovided heart. My noble wife,
In the last solemn words, the last farewell
With which she charged her secret messenger,
Told me that whatsoe'er was my resolve,
She bore a mind prepared. And well I know
The evil, be it what it may, hath found
In her a courage equal to the hour.
Captivity, or death, or what worse pangs,
She in her children may be doomed to feel,
Will never make that steady soul repent
Its virtuous purpose. I too did not cast
My single life into the lot, but knew
These dearer pledges on the die were set;
And if the worst have fall'n, I shall but bear
That in my breast, which, with transfiguring power
Of piety, makes chastening sorrow take
The form of hope, and sees, in Death, the friend
And the restoring Angel. We must rest
Perforce, and wait what tidings night may bring,
Haply of comfort. Ho there! kiodle fires,
And see if aught of hospitality
Can yet within these mournful walls be found!
Cast broad and bright a transitory glare.
That sight inspired with strength the mountaineers ;
All sense of weariness; all wish for rest
At once were gone : impatient in desire
Of second victory alert they stood ;
And when the hostile symbols, which from far
Imagination to their wish had shaped,
Vanished in nearer vision, high-wrought hope
Deparring, left the spirit palled and blank.
No turban'd race, no sons of Africa
Were they who now came winding up the vale,
As waving wide before their horses' feet
The torch-light floated, with its hovering glare
Blackening the incumbent and surrounding night.
Helmet and breast-plate glittered as they came,
And spears erect; and nearer as they drew
Were the loose folds of female garments seen
On those who led the company.
Had stood beside Pelayo, might have heard
The beating of his heart.
But vainly there Sought he with wistful eye the well-known forms Beloved ; and plainly might it now be seen That from some bloody conflict they returned Victorious,-for at every saddle-bow A gory head was hung. 37 Anon they stopt, Levelling in quick alarm their ready spears. Hold! who goes there? cried one. A hundred tongues Sent forth with one accord the glad reply, Friends and Asturians. Onward moved the lights,The people knew their Lord.
Then what a shout Rung through the valley! From their clay-built nests, Beneath the overbrowing battlements, Now first disturbed, the affrighted martins flew, And uttering notes of terror short and shrill, Amid the yellow glare and lurid smoke Wheeled giddily. Then plainly was it shown How well the vassals loved their generous Lord, How like a father the Asturian Prince Was dear. They crowded round; they claspt his knees; They snatched his hand; they fell upon his neck,They wept ;-they blest Almighty Providence, Which had restored hjin thus from bondage free; God was with them and their good cause, they said ; His hand was here,- His shield was over them,His spirit was abroad, -His power displayed : And pointing to their bloody trophies then, They told Pelayo there be might bebold The first-fruits of the harvest they should soon Reap in the field of war! Benignantly, With voice and look and gesture, did the Prince To these warm greetings of tumultuous joy Respond ; and sure if at that moment aught Could for awhile have overpowered those fears Which from the inmost heart o'er all his frame Diffused their chilling influence, worthy pride, And sympathy of love and joy and hope, Had then possessed him wholly. Even now Mis spirit rose ; the sense of power, the sight Of his brave people, ready where he led To fight their country's battles, and the thought Of instant action, and deliverance,If Heaven, which thus far had protected him, Shuuld favour still, -revived his heart, and gave Fresh impulse to its spring. In vain he sought
Thus while he spake, lights were descried far off
Moving among the trees, and coming sounds
Were heard as of a distant multitude.
Anon a company of horse and foot,
Advancing in disorderly array,
Came up the vale: before them and beside
Their torches tlashed on Sella's rippling stream;
Now gleamed through chesnut groves, emerging now,
O'er their huge boughs and radiated leaves
Amid that turbulent greeting to inquire
Where Gaudiosa was, his children where,
Who called them to the field, who captained them;
And how these women, thus with arms and death
Environed, came amid their company;
For yet, amid the fluctuating light
And tumult of the crowd, he knew them not.
Respectful. The maternal smile which bore
Her greeting, from Pelayo's heart almost
Dispelled its boding. What he would have asked
She knew, and bending from her palfrey down,
Told him that they for whom he looked were safe,
And that in secret he should hear the rest.
Guisla was ope. The Moors had found in her
A willing and concerted prisoner.
Gladly to Gegio, to the renegade
On whom her loose and shameless love was bent,
Had she set forth; and in her heart she cursed
The busy spirit, who, with powerful call
Rousing Pelayo's people, led them on
In quick pursual, and victoriously
Achieved the rescue, to her mind perverse
Unwelcome as unlooked for. With dismay
She recognized her brother, dreaded now
More than he once was dear; her countenance
Was turned toward him,-not with cager joy
To court his sight, and meeting its first glance,
Exchange delightful welcome, soul with soul ;
Hers was the conscious eye,
that cannot chuse
But look to what it fears. She could not shun
His presence, and the rigid smile constrained,
With which she coldly drest her features, ill
Concealed her inward thoughts, and the despite
Of obstinate guilt and unrepentant shame.
Sullenly thus upon her mule she sale,
Waiting the greeting which she did not dare
Bring on. But who is she that at her side,
Upon a stately war-horse eminent,
Holds the loose rein with careless hand! A helm
Presses the clusters of her flaxen hair;
The shield is on her arm; her breast is mailed;
A sword-belt is her girdle, and right well
It may be seen that sword hath done its work
To-day, for upward from the wrist or sleeve
Is stiff with blood. An unregardant eye,
As one whose thoughts were not of earth, she cast
Upon the turmoil round. One countenance
So strongly marked, so passion-worn was there,
That it recalled her mind. Ha ! Maccabee !
Lifting her arm, exultingly she cried,
Did I not tell thec we should meet in joy?
Well, Brother, hast thou done thy part, -1 100
Have not been wanting! Now be His the praise,
From whom the impulse came!
That starting call, That voice so well remembered, touched the Goth With timely impulse now; for be had seen His mother's face,-and at her sight, the past And present mingled like a frightful dream, Which from some dread reality derives Its deepest horror. Adosinda's voice Dispersed the waking vision. Little deemed Rusilla at that moment that the child, For whom her supplications day and night Were offered, breathed the living air. Her heart Was calm ; her placid countenance, though grief Deeper than time had left its traces there, Retained its dignity serene ; yet when Siverian, pressing through the people, kissed Her reverend hand, some quiet tears ran down. As she approached the Prince, the crowd made way
RODERICK AT CANGAS. How calmly gliding through the dark-blue sky The midnight Moon ascends! Her placid beams Through thinly scattered leaves and boughs grotesque, Mottle with
shades the orchard slope ; Here, o'er the chesnut's fretted foliage grey And massy, motionless they spread ; here shine Upon the crags, deepening with blacker night Their chasms; and there the glittering argentry Ripples and glances on the confluent streams. A lovelier, purer light than that of day Rests on the hills; and oli low awfully Into that deep and tranquil firmament The summits of Auseva rise serene! The watchman on the battlements partakes The stillness of the solemn hour; he feels The silence of the earth, the endless sound Of flowing water soothes him, and the stars, Which in that brightest moon-light well-nigh quenched, Scarce visible, as in the utmost depth Of yonder sapphire infinite, are seen, Draw on with elevating influence Toward eternity the attempered mind. Musing on worlds beyond the grave he stands, And to the Virgin Mother silently Breathes forth her hymn of praise.
Before the castle, round their mouldering fires,
Lie on the hearth outstretched. Pelayo's hall
Is full, and he upon his careful couch
Hears all around the deep and long-drawn breath
Of sleep; for gentle night hath brought to these
Perfect and undisturbed repose, alike
Of corporal powers and inward faculty.
Wakeful the while be lay, yet more by hope
Than grief or anxious thoughts possessed, -though grief
For Guisla's guilt, which freshened in his heart
The memory of their wretched mother's crime,
Still made its presence felt, like the dull sense
Of some perpetual inward malady;
And the whole peril of the future lay
Before him clearly seen.
He had heard all :
How that unworthy sister, obstinate
In wrong and shameless, rather seemed to woo
The upstart renegado than to wait
His wooing; how, as guilt to guilt led on,
Spurning at gentle admonition first,
When Gaudiosa hopelessly forebore
From farther counsel, then in sullen mood
Resentful, Guisla soon began to hate
The virtuous presence before which she felt
Her nature how inferior, and her fault
How foul! Despiteful thus she grew, because
Humbled yet unrepentant. Who could say
To what excess bad passions might impel
A woman thus possessed? She could not fail
To mark Siverian's absence, for what end
Her conscience but too surely had divined;
And Gaudiosa, well aware that all
To the vile paramour was thus made known,
Had to safe hiding-place with timely fear
Removed her children. Well the event had proved
How necdful was that caution ; for at night
She sought the mountain solitudes, and morn
Bebeld Numacian's soldiers at the gate.
Yet did not sorrow io Pelayo's heart
For this domestic shame prevail that hour,
Nor gathering danger weigh his spirit down.
The anticipated meeting put to flight
These paiuful thoughts: to-morrow will restore
All whom his heart holds dear; his wife beloved,
No longer now remembered for regret,
Is present to his soul with hope and joy;
His ioward eye beholds Favila's form
In opening youth robust, and Hermesind,
His daughter, lovely as a budding rose:
Their images beguile the hours of night,
Till with the earliest morning he may
seek Their secret hold.
The nightingale not yet Had ceased her song, nor had the early lark Her dewy nest forsaken, when the Prince Upward beside Pionia took his way Toward Auseva. Heavily to him, Impatient for the morrow's happiness, Long night had Jingered, but it seemed more long To Roderick's aching heart. He too had watched For dawn, and seen the earliest break of day, And heard its earliest sounds; and when the Prince Went forth, tbe melancholy man was seen With pensive pace upon Pionia's side Wandering alone and slow. For he had left The wearying place of his unrest, that morn With its cold dews might bathe his throbbing brow, And with its breath allay the feverish heat That burnt within. Alas! the gales of morn Reach not the fever of a wounded heart! How shall he meet his Mother's eye, how make His secret koown, and from that voice revered Obtain forgiveness, -all that he has now To ask, ere on the lap of earth in peace He lay his head resigned! Io silent prayer He supplicated leaven to strengthen bim Against that trying hour, there seeking aid Where all who seek shall find; and thus his soul Received support, and gathered fortitude, Never than now more needful, for the hour Was nigh. He saw Siverian drawing near, And with a dim but quick foreboding met The good old man: yet when he heard bim say, My Lady sends to seek thee, like a knell To one expecting and prepared for death, But fearing the dread point that hastens on, It smote his heart. He followed silently, And knit his suffering spirit to the proof.
That painful resolution must await
A fitter season, when no eye but Heaven's
Might witness to their mutual agony.
Count Julian's daughter with Rusilla sate;
Both had been weeping, both were pale, but calm.
With head as for humility a based
Roderick approached, and bending, on his breast
He crossed his humble arms.
In reverence to the priestly character, 38
And with a mournful eye regarding him,
Thus she began. Good Father, I have heard
From my old faithful servant and true friend,
Thou didst reprove the inconsiderate tongue,
That in the anguish of its spirit poured
A curse upon my poor unhappy child.
O Father Maccabee, this is a hard world,
And hasty in its judgments! Time has been,
When not a tongue within the Pyrenees
Dared whisper in dispraise of Roderick's name,
Lest, if the conscious air had caught the sound,
The vengeance of the honest multitude
Should fall upon the traitrous head, or brand
For life-long infamy the lying lips.
Now if a voice be raised in his behalf,
'T is noted for a wonder, and the man
Who ulters the strange speech shall be admired
For such excess of Christian charity.
Thy Christian charity bath not been lost;-
Father, I feel its virtue:-il hath been
Balm to my heart:— with words and grateful tears,
All that is left me now for gratitude,-
I thank thee, and beseech thee in thy prayers
That thou wilt still remember Roderick's name.
Roderick so long had to this hour looked on,
That when the actual point of trial came,
Torpid and numbed it found him: cold he grew,
And as the vital spirits to the heart
Retreated, o'er bis withered countenance,
Deathy and damp, a whiter paleness spread.
Unmoved the while the inward feeling seemed,
Even in such dull insensibility
As gradual age brings on, or slow disease,
Beneath whose progress lingering life survives
power of suffering. Wondering at himself,
Yet gathering confidence, he raised his eyes,
Then slowly shaking as he bent his head,
O veverable Lady, he replied,
If aught may comfort that unhappy soul,
It must be thy compassion, and thy prayers.
She whom he most hath wronged, she who alone
On earth can grant forgiveness for his crime,
She hath forgiven him; and thy blessing now
Were all that he could ask, -all that could bring
Profit or consolation to his soul,
If he hath been, as sure we may believe,
A penitent sincere.
Oh had he lived,
Replied Rusilla, never penitence
Had equalled his! full well I know his heart,
Vehement in all things. He would on himself
Have wreaked such penance as had reached the height
Of fleshly suffering,-yea, which being told
With its portentous rigour should have made
The memory of his fault, o'erpowered and lost
In shuddering pity and astonishment,
Fade like a feebler horror. Otherwise
He went resolved to tell his Mother all,
Fall at her feet, and drinking the last dregs
Of billerness, receive the only good
Earth had in store for him. Resolved for this
He went; yet was it a relief to find