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An Orpheus ! an Orpheus !-he works on the crowd,
them with harmony merry and loud;
He fills with his power all their hearts to the brim-
Was aught ever heard like his fiddle and him ?
What an eager assembly! what an empire is this !
weary have life, and the hungry have bliss ;
The mourner is cheered, and the anxious have rest ;
And the guilt-burthened soul is no longer opprest.
That errand-bound 'prentice was passing in haste-
What matter! he's caught-and his time runs to waste-
The newsman is stopped, though he stops on the fret,
And the half-breathless lamplighter-he's in the net !
The porter sits down on the weight which he bore;
The lass with her barrow wheels hither her store ;
If a thief could be here, he might pilfer at ease;
She sees the musician, 'tis all that she sees !
That tall man, a giant in bulk and in height,
Not an inch of his body is free from delight;
Can he keep himself still, if he would ? oh, not he!
The music stirs in him like wind through a tree.
Mark that cripple,—but little would tempt him to try
To dance to the strain and to fling his crutch by!
That mother, whose spirit in fetters is bound,
While she dandles the babe in her arms to the sound.
Now, coaches and chariots roar on like a stream;
Here are twenty souls happy as souls in a dream:
They are deaf to your murmurs—they care not for you,
Nor what ye are flying, nor what ye pursue !
9.-THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB.
THE Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he past;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still !
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride:
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord !
10.-AN EPISTLÉ TO JOSEPH HILL.
DEAR Joseph-five and twenty years ago
Alas how time escapes |—'tis even som
With frequent intercourse, and always sweet,
And always friendly, we were wont to cheat
A tedious hour—and now we never meet !
As some grave gentleman in Terence says
('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days),
Good lack, we know not what to-morrow brings
Strange fluctuation of all human things!
True. Changes will befall, and friends may part,
But distance only cannot change the heart :
And, were I called to prove the assertion true,
One proof should serve—a reference to you.
Whence comes it, then, that in the wane of life,
Though nothing have occurred to kindle strife,
We find the friends we fancied we had won,
Though numerous once, reduced to few or none ?
Can gold grow worthless, that has stood the touch ?
No; gold they seemed, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe,
Swinging the parlour-door upon its hinge,
Dreading a negative, and overawed
Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.
Go, fellow 1-whither?-turning short about-
Nay. Stay at home—you're always going out.
'Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.-
For what?—An please you, sir, to see a friend.-
A friend ! Horatio cried, and seemed to start-
Yea marry shalt thou, and with all
heart.And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw, I'll see him too
the first I ever saw.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
And was his plaything often when a child;
But somewhat at that moment pinched him close,
Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betrayed,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made;
Perhaps 'twas mere good humour gave it birth,
The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth.
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil, of which all complain
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun),
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time an emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
O happy Britain! we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measure here;
Else, could a law, like that which I relate,
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few, that I have known in days of old,
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold;
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man, close-buttoned to the chin,
Broadcloth without, and a warm heart within.
11.-SCENE AFTER THE SIEGE OF CORINTH. ALP wandered on, along the beach, Till within the range of a carbine's reach Of the leaguered wall; but they saw him not, Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot ? Did traitors lurk in the Christians' hold? Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts waxed cold? I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall There flashed no fire, and there hissed no ball, Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown, That flanked the seaward gate of the town; Though he heard the sound and could almost tell The sullen words of the sentinel, As his measured step on the stone below Clanked, as he paced it to and fro; And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall Hold o'er the dead their carnival, Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb; They were too busy to bark at him! From a Tartar's skull they had stripped the flesh, As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh; And their white tusks crunched o'er the whiter skull, As it slipped through their jaws when their edge grew dull, As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead, When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed; So well had they broken a lingering fast With those who had fallen for that night's repast. And Alp knew, by the turbans that rolled on the sand, The foremost of these were the best of his band. The scalps were in the wild dog's maw, The hair was tangled round his jaw. But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf, There sat a vulture flapping a wolf,
That had stolen from the hills, but kept away,
Scared by the dogs, from the human prey;
But he seized on his share of a steed that lay,
Picked by the birds on the sands of the bay!
Alp turned him from the sickening sight:
Never had shaken his nerves in fight;
But he better could brook to behold the dying,
Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying,
Scorched with the death-thirst, and writhing in vain,
Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour,
Whate'er be the shape in which death may lower ;
For Fame is there to say who bleeds,
And Honour's eye on daring deeds!
But when all is past, it is humbling to tread
O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead,
And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air,
Beasts of the forest, all gathering there;
All regarding man as their prey,
All rejoicing in his decay!
Ye Mariners of England !
Who guard our native seas,
Whose flag has braved a thousand years
The battle and the breeze,
Your glorious standard launch again,
To match another foe,
sweep through the deep
While the stormy tempests blow;
While the battle rages long and loud,
And the stormy tempests blow.
The spirits of your fathers
Shall start from every wave!
For the deck it was their field of fame,
And Ocean was their grave;
Where Blake and mighty Nelson fell,
Your manly hearts shall glow,
As ye sweep through the deep,
While the storiny tempests blow;