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Then rose his band to duty — not from sleep Equipp'd for deeds alike on land or deep; While lean’d their leader o'er the fretting flood, And calmly talk'd --und yet he talk'd of blood !
“ Conosceste i dubiosi desiri?”
In Coron's bay floats many a galley light,
Through Coron's lattices the lamps are bright,
For Seyd, the Pacha, makes a feast to-night :
A feast for promised triumph yet to come,
When he shall drag the fetter'd Rovers home ;
This hath he sworn by Alla and his sword,
And faithful to his firman and his word,
His summon'd prows collect along the coast,
And great the gathering crews, and loud the boast,
Already shared the captives and the prize,
Though far the distant foe they thus despise ;
'Tis but to sail no doubt to-morrow's Sun
Will see the Pirates bound - their haven won!
Meantime the watch may slumber, if they will,
Nor only wake to war, but dreaming kill.
Though all, who can, disperse on shore and seek
To flesh their glowing valour on the Greek ;
How well such deed becomes the turban'd brave
To bare the sabre's edge before a slave!
Infest bis dwelling -- but forbear to slay,
Their arms are strong, yet merciful to-day,
And do not deign to smite because they may !
Unless some gay caprice suggests the blow,
To keep in practice for the coming foe.
Revel and rout the evening hours beguile,
And they who wish to wear a head must smile;
For Moslem mouths produce their choicest cheer,
And hoard their curses, till the coast is clear.
High in his hall reclines the turban’d Seyd ;
Around — the bearded chiefs he came to lead.
Removed the banquet, and the last pilaff -
Forbidden draughts, 't is said, he dared to quaff,
Though to the rest the sober berry's juice (1)
The slaves bear round for rigid Moslems' use;
The long chibouque's (*) dissolving cloud supply,
While dance the Almas (3) to wild minstrelsy.
The rising morn will view the chiefs embark ;
But waves are somewhat treacherous in the dark :
And revellers may more securely sleep
On silken couch than o'er the rugged deep ;
Feast there who can — nor combat till they must,
And less to conquest than to Korans trust;
And yet the numbers crowded in his host
Might warrant more than even the Pacha's boast. (*)
With cautious reverence from the outer gate
Slow stalks the slave, whose office there to wait,
Bows his bent head his hand salutes the fioor,
Ere yet his tongue the trusted tidings bore :
“ A captive Dervise, from the pirate's nest
Escaped, is here himself would tell the rest."
(2) Pipe. (3) Dancing girls. (4) It has been objected that Conrad's entering disguised as a spy is out of nature. Perhaps so. I find something not unlike it in history.
“ Anxious to explore with his own eyes the state of the Vandals, Majorian ventured, after disguising the colour of his hair, to visit Carthage in the character of his own ambassador ; and Genseric was afterwards mortified by the discovery, that he had entertained and dismissed the Emperor of the Romans. Such an anecdote may be rejected as an improbable fiction; but it is a fiction which would not have been imagined unless in the life of a hero." Gibbon, D. and F. vol. vi. p. 180.
That Conrad is a character not altogether out of nature, I shall attempt to prove by some historical coincidences which I have met with since writting "The Corsair." “ Eccelin prisonnier," dit Rolandini,
s enfermoit dans un silence menaçani, il fixoit sur la terre son visage féroce, et ne donnoit point d'essor à sa profonde indigna
De toutes partes cependant les soldats et les peuples accouroient; ils vouloient voir cet homme, jadis si puissant, et la joie universelle éclatoit de toutes partes.
He took the sign from Seyd's assenting eye,
And led the holy man in silence nigh.
His arms were folded on his dark-green vest,
His step was feeble, and his look deprest;
Yet worn he seem'd of hardship more than years,
And pale his cheek with penance, not from fears.
Vow'd to his God - his sable locks he wore,
And these his lofty cap rose proudly o’er:
Around his form his loose long robe was throwny,
And wrapt a breast bestow'd on heaven alone;
Submissive, yet with self-possession mann'd,
He calmly met the curious eyes that scann'd;
And question of his coming fain would seek,
Before the Pacha’s will allow'd to speak.
66 Whence com'st thou, Dervise?
6. From the outlaw's den, A fugitive -"
Thy capture where and when ? "
“ From Scalanovo's port to Scio's isle,
The Saick was bound; but Alla did not smile
Upon our course - the Moslem merchant's gains
The Rovers won : our limbs have worn their chains.
I had no death to fear, nor wealth to boast,
Beyond the wandering freedom which I lost;
At length a fisher's humble boat by night
Afforded hope, and offerd chance of flight;
I seized the hour, and find my safety here-
With thee — most mighty Pacha! who can fear ?"
“ How speed the outlaws? stand they well prepared,
Their plunder'd wealth, and robber's rock, to guard?
Dream they of this our preparation, doom'd
To view with fire their scorpion nest consumed ?”
• Pacha! the fetter'd captive's mourning eye,
weeps for flight, but ill can play the spy ;
I only heard the reckless waters roar,
Those waves that would not bear me from the shore ;
I only mark'd the glorious sun and sky,
for my captivity ;
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers,
Must break my chain before it dried my tears.
This may'st thou judge, at least, from my escape,
They little deem of aught in peril's shape ;
Else vainly had I pray'd or sought the chance
That leads me here if eyed with vigilance :
The careless guard that did not see me fly,
May watch as idly when thy power is nigh :
Pacha! my limbs are faint - and tiature craves
Food for my hunger, rest from tossing waves :
absence peace be with thee! Peace With all around! now grant repose — release.”
Stay, Dervise! I have more to question — stay,
I do command thee sit - dost hear? obey !
More I must ask, and food the slaves shall bring ;
Thou shalt not pine where all are banqueting :
thee to reply, Clearly and full — I love not mystery.”
'T were vain to guess what shook the pious man,
Who look'd not lovingly on that Divan;
Nor show'd high relish for the banquet prest,
And less respect
'T was but a moment's peevish hectic past
Along his cheek, and tranquillised as fast:
He sate him down in silence, and his look
Resumed the calmness which before forsook :
The feast was usherd in but sumptuous fare
He shunn'd as if some poison mingled there.
For one so long condemn'd to toil and fast,
Methinks he strangely spares the rich repast.
What ails thee, Dervise ? eat -
dost thou suppose
This icast a Christian's ? or my friends thy foes?
Why dost thou shun the salt ? that sacred pledge,
Which, once partaken, blunts the sabre's edge,
Makes even contending tribes in peace unite,
And hated hosts seem brethren to the sight!”
" Salt seasons dainties and
food is still
The humblest root, my drink the simplest rill ;
And my stern vow and order's (1) laws oppose
To break or mingle bread with friends or foes ;
It may seem strange — if there be aught to dread,
That peril rests upon my single head;
But for thy sway
thy Sultan's throne,
I taste nor bread nor banquet save alone;
Infringed our order's rule, the Prophet's rage
To Mecca's dome might bar my pilgrimage.”
(1) The dervises are in colleges, and of different orders, as the monks.