« 上一頁繼續 »
with horror; and when the warriors crowded upon him, he severed their skulls." "In horror and fear of me," says Sudam, " even the wild beasts of the waste shrink into the obscurity of caverns; and were Death a substance, I would steep his right hand in the blood of his left."
It were needless to remind the romantic writer that he must be provided with "Store of ladies, whose bright eyes rain influence;" they are the very spice of romance. Nor need he be embarrassed as to the manner and place of their introduction. A hero meets them at every turn; by sea, by land, on the tops of mountains, in subterraneous caverns, in the lairs of wild beasts.
Che nei valloni,
Nelle scure spelonche e boschi fieri,
-Indian princesses, of course; wandering in various climes, without the slightest imputation on their fair fame. Of kings also he may have as many as will serve his purpose, without even the aid of poetic licence; as is testified by the authentic chronicles of Ireland. Dr. Hanmer informs us, that at the battle of Garrestown, four Irish kings, and twenty-five sons of kings, were slain; and as the Irish were the victors, it is to be presumed, that this number bore but a small proportion to the royal brood that appeared in the field.
A romance without a battle, would be a stranger monster than any that was ever concocted in the busy brain of romancier.
The battles of the epic poets are, notwithstanding the cunning dissection of bodies, the rattling of armour, and the talking as well as neighing of horses, but tame proceedings.-The only description that can be borrowed from them is the single line in Homer, which has been thus diluted by Pope :
Through the black horrors of th' ensanguin'd plain,
But what can exceed the boldness and inspiring energy of the following imagery from "Antar?"
"Every horseman roared in terrors, and the King of death dispatched his messengers to grasp lives. Every sharp sword continued its blows, till the heart and mind were bewildered, and the earth rocked under the weight of the armies."......" The armies were thronged together, and the flame of war blazed. Necks were cleft by the sword;-armour was clotted with gore-hope itself became despair. Chests were pierced with the spear; and souls fled from bodies; hands and arms were torn asunder, heads flew off like balls, and hands like leaves of trees. The blades and lances played a tune, and the dancers moved to the clash of the edged sword. The cups of death passed round with wine of the liquor of perils."......" They bellowed like the roar of lions, and their feet pounded the stones and the rocks whilst they wrestled and struggled; Nov. 1826.
and the sweat poured down their bodies like the froth of cauldrons, and their feet stamped up furrows like graves. Their deeds would have turned infants grey.' "The dust arose and thickened-the horses' feet played with the skulls as if with balls-and all that were present that day, wished they had never been born, had never stirred, and had never moved on the earth. A combat took place, that sickened the eyeballs, and amazed the stoutest hearts. The sea of death waved and rolled its stormy surge. The complexions and constitutions of all were convulsed: shame fell upon the coward, and the brave were painted with crimson gore. Lords became slaves, and the desert and rocks were agitated." The rest of the machinery of the romance will consist of hurricanes,-"la solita tempesta,"❞—of "forests and enchantments drear; "-fastidious sea-monsters, glutting their appetites with the delicate limbs of beauteous virgins; dragons, from the wounds of which will issue
"A gushing river of black gory blood,
The streame of which would drive a water mill;"
Fatte le arene son si sanguinose.
Che una barchetta sopra vi può ire ;
whales, compared with which those of the north seas would shrink into minnows-which may readily be mistaken for islands
Basti di div, che spesso là riesce
Equivocar tra un'isola ed un pesce.
Then there will be palaces of steel, of rock-crystal, of touchstone, of silver and of gold; splendid robes:-tourneys, marriages, and pomp, and feast, and revelry. At Antar's wedding banquet there were slaughtered twenty thousand he camels; twenty thousand she camels; twenty thousand sheep; and twenty thousand goats, and a thousand lions. And such was the dazzling brilliancy of the scene, that "the sun shone with reflected rays." The whole will be seasoned with the requisite number of heart-rending scenes; of melting meetings, and agonizing adieus; of dire discoveries and unlooked for recognitions. A few words with respect to the latter. The family eclaircissement in the "Critic," concluding with "these are all thy near relations," has been justly considered a masterpiece in its kind.
There is indeed in it an unadorned simplicity; a plain natural energy, the very soul of pathos, which is altogether captivating. But high as are its merits, it cannot compete with a scene in the Arabian Nights, the beauty of which has never been justly appreciated, and which we strongly recommend to the study of the romantic poet.
It is the scene where the widow of the Vizier Noureddin Ali discovers her son by the affecting incident of a cheese-cake: "She broke off a piece to taste it, but it had scarcely touched her lips, when she uttered a loud cry and fainted away.-As soon as she was recovered from her fainting, 'Oh God!' cried she, it must have been my son, my dear son Bedreddin, who made this cake.""
The violence of our emotion must be an apology for so abrupt a conclusion.
I WAS sitting upon a bench in the side alley of Kensington-gardens, digesting the ungracious answer of his lordship, when two ladies approached the cypress alcove, in the height of wordy contention. "You shall go back," said one, with emphasis. "I will not," answered the other convulsively. They started on finding the small recess tenanted, and hesitated to advance or retreat; but the weak state of the younger of them rendered it absolutely necessary that she should repose herself. Struck with her face and form, for an instant I forgot what politeness required of me, and did nothing but gaze upon the beautiful creature. While I was yet absorbed, she made a motion to gain the seat, apparently unable to utter her wish, or to struggle against the efforts of her companion to force her onwards. I now rose, and glancing at the countenance of the elder lady, which seemed the vehicle of bad passions, was about to retire, when a look-of entreaty, I thought-from her lovely companion, detained me. It immediately struck me that instinct had directed that look, and that this was some poor sufferer, who dreaded being left alone with her oppressor, in moments when nature was about to withdraw her support. "Madam," exclaimed I, "the young lady is fainting." No, sir," answered she, gruffly, "it is nothing but gammon-forward, you hussy!" "She must not go," resolutely cried I," in that weak state." As I said this, she reeled, and fell into my arms. I placed her on the seat, and looked at her conductor, to ascertain whether she meant to do any thing for the relief of her charge, being utterly inexperienced myself, and shackled by that degree of conscious awkwardness which a stranger to women naturally feels in the like predicament. I was afraid that I had gone too far already; for never before, since my mother clasped me in her embrace, had the form of woman pressed mine, a rude outcast as I had been from female society!
She whom my look appealed to, seemed as much overcome by terror and surprise as myself. She contrived, however, to undo the lady's bonnet, and to fan her with it, ejaculating all the while, "Who'd have thought it? What's to be done?" and directing me to fan the reclining beauty, while she undid her dress, a task which she set about as unconcernedly as if no male person were by. But whatever unfavourable notions it excited of her delicacy, compassion for the object of our cares made me heedless of other considerations. Though all that either of us suggested in the way of chafing and loosening had been done, she seemed as distant as ever from recovery. At length we thought of water as the sole resource, and I was entreated to fetch some from the pond. I hastened thither, not sorry to be discharged from an office, in which I would have been shocked at being detected by the patient on her revival. As I neared the recess, with a hat half full of water, I heard the voices of two persons, and hesitated whether it was right to approach. During a moment or two of
reflection, I distinctly caught the words, "You have brought me to this, you wretch! Go and tell him I will die rather than see him again. I hate him and you; leave me. Oh! that I had any one to fly to!" and then followed a burst of crying. "Hush! hush!” returned the other voice, soothingly, "the gentleman will hear you.” "What do I care?" exclaimed the first speaker; "I'll tell him all— I'll tell the whole world." Urged on by various feelings, I now advanced hastily to the bower. The beautiful girl sat dishevelled and disarranged, tears streaming down her bosom. My own blushes first recalled her to a sense of its exposure, and she hastened to veil it from my eyes, pettishly rejecting the officiousness of the elder female. This last now turned round to me with a load of thanks, and hints that my services were no longer desired; all of which I made light of, telling her that I would wait to see if I could be of any use, "But your hat will get spoiled," said she. "By no means; it is water-proof." "But you'll catch cold!" "By no means; I am amphibious." "Well then, sir," murmured she," my niece is ashamed while you are by; be so good as to leave us alone." "If my presence is disagreeable to the young lady," said I, aloud, "I shall immediately retire." I could not comprehend the effort that she made to answer, it was so indistinct with sobs, and began to think that what I had overheard had been used as a mere childish threat to her guardian. As a last expedient, I pushed before the old woman, and addressed the young one directly," You seem very unhappy, madam; can I be of service in seeing you home, or at least to your carriage?" She raised her eye, glistening with a film, and scrutinized me an instant-"That is, if you have a carriage waiting-or a home "-added I, hesitatingly. "I have neither," sobbed she, bitterly. "Come, miss," interrupted the old woman authoritatively. "It is time, sir, for my niece to return home; there are coaches enough at the gate." "I am no niece of yours, you detestable creature," answered the young woman with spirit," and will never return back again with you." "I will let you know that you shall," replied the ancient spit-fire. "Up! this moment, or I'll-" "You shall do nothing violent while I am present" pretty well assured, by this time, of the quality of her matronhood. "Sha'n't I?" vociferated she; you shall see. Out of my way! or I'll have your eyes out." Softly, good dame!" rejoined I, "I am no such simpleton as you take me for. If you have a rightful claim to this young lady, I am not going to interfere with it: all I said was, and I repeat it, you shall do no violence to her in my presence. If your intentions are just, you need not speak so harshly; I dare say the young lady will be amenable to persuasion." "To be sure, she ought," answered she, softened; " and you seems to be a gentleman, that knows the world. I shall be glad to have your company home with us. We keeps a very genteel house near hand. Mayhap you'll join me in persuading miss to return, and you shall—" "I see," said I, reddening at her offer; "but would I not have a better chance of prevailing, if you removed to a little distance? Leave me but ten minutes alone with her, and we'll see what can be done."
She demurred a little; but at length, after many injunctions, and vile propositions, she retreated. "I have but ten minutes," said I to
my still weeping companion, " to converse with you.
woman has explained your situation to me; and I can believe you are the vicra of her tyranny. Speak what can be done to relieve you from ity" Her sobs seemed to choak her utterance. time wears away," continued I: " your oppressor will be back immediately. Can you devise nothing to render your situation less wretched? Can I inform your friends-intercede with them?" “I have none," said she. "Will this purse, with its poor contents, be of service to you? Be not afraid to take it; I ask no requital. I would not buy your love, with all your charms. Come, accept it, and deal freely with me; my advice may avail you. Who is he to whom you dread to return?" She shuddered. "Your seducer?" She assented. "Has he sold you to this wretch?"-another assent. "She has given me the option of going home with you; do you give me leave?" "No!" said she, releasing the purse that I had pressed into her hand, and darting a fierce look at me. "You need not join in teazing me to return." "Far from being in league with your enemy," said I, "'twas but to sound your inclination that I asked. Refuse not this trifle, as it may enable you to escape from the villanous hag."
"Will it so?" demanded the fury, who had crept softly within hearing, and now burst upon us blue with rage-" Will it so, you traitor? Begone! or I'll punish you, for seducing away my girl." "Yours? infamous wretch!-and by what title yours?' 99 66 By the best of titles; I bought her, fed her, have clothed her, and every stitch on her is mine. Let me see who dare touch my property?" "Polluted creature! do not you dread the law?
"Tut, tut, let them indict me; I have lawyers enough to defend me; and if you don't be off, I'll get them to serve you out."
"I defy you and them; and in spite of both, will get this young woman out of your clutches," retorted I, in proper knight-errant style. "Oh! will you indeed?" exclaimed the object of this vaunt; be your servant-your slave-your creature till death."
This animation excited my sympathy, while I was sensible of all the rashness of my declaration, which, in truth, was rather meant to daunt the old villain, than to hold out a protection that it was not in my power to afford.
"You would, but you dare not," sneered old purple-face; " you dare not offend Lord Champetre and Colonel Standfire, to whom she is engaged."
"They! the puny libertines! I'd eat up a dozen such. them here; I'll make them resign her to your face."
"I have noblemen and gentlemen enough to protect me; and if you don't be gone, I'll have you trounced," spoke my opponent.
"Bring them here! Let me see the man of them that will prevent my carrying off this lady, if she wish it.".
Indeed, I do," cried she; "and shall ever be grateful to you, sir." "Decamp then, thou old bawd!" exclaimed I, elevated to the proper pitch, by the cling of this distressed damsel to my arm"Decamp, or I'll do thee a mischief."
But the greater inclination to do mischief seemed to be on her side; she ran at me furiously, and with a grasp, intended for my nose, tore my collar clean off. In return, I caught her arm, and gave it a