Page images
PDF
EPUB

Though Naples, Florence, on his banks he names,
And to him Tyber pours, from Rome, its streams.
When o'er the Continent fell slavery flew,
Hither, the goddess, Liberty, withdrew;
Here, plac'd her cap, her staff, her armour here,
And, as her own fierce Sparta, held it dear.
Each art and science this their dwelling own,
As guardians to their goddess Freedom's throne;
And, as her hand-maid, busy Commerce toils,
Her sister-goddess, Plenty, cheerful smiles.

Here glad Cornaro fix'd-and hop'd to find
All that might please a knowledge-loving mind.
Where the tall columns rose in beauteous wreath,
Or sculpture seem'd to speak, or paint to breathe.

And, ah! he little thought--the hour was nigh,
When all the pleasure of his mind should die ;
The beams of science from bis soul retire,
And fade,-extinguish'd by a nobler fire.
As kindled wood, howe'er its flames might rise,
When the bright sun appears, in embers dies.
Soon as his breast perceiv'd the pow'rful ray,
Whate'er before possess'd it, instantly gave way.
As, in the wood, beneath the lightning's beam,
Perish the leaves, and the whole tree is flame :
Minerva, sudden, from his soul was fled,
And Venus reign'd, exclusive, in her stead.

A thousand fair ones in Love's frolic train,
Long at the youth had bent their shafts in vain ;
Launch'd from the wanton eye, they sought his heart,
But Virtue's buckler still repuls'd the dart.
Nor all their force, or poison, need he fear,
Virtue must tip the shaft that enters there.
As diamonds scorn the keenest pow’rs of steel,
And touch'd alone, by fellow-gems, can feel.

One glance, at last, an easy passage found,
And, undirected, made the deeper wound;
From modesty's bright quiver it was sent,
Nor knew its beauteous owner where it went.
From chaste Delphina's powerful eye it came,
Malta to Venice lent the charming dame.
Malta,—bless'd Isle !-whose daughters all are fair,
Whose sons to manly fortitude are dear.

[ocr errors]

So properly do love and glory meet,
And beauty, still, with valour, holds its seat.
To Venice, by a noble fathér sent,
Some pleasing moons the fair one there had spent ;
Beneath a tender uncle's careful eye.
To whom, but him, should then Cornaro fly?
To him his cause of anxious grief unfold?
His country, name, and parentage, he told ;
At once, confess'd his honourable flame,
And begg'd permission to address the dame.

To the sweet maid Cornaro urgent su’d,
And fair Delphina to his hopes subdu'd ;
Nor modesty, herself, a blush put on,
To be by such a lover quickly won.

Smoothly, thus far, to happiness, he went,
Nothing was wanting, but the sire's consent;
Which one, endow'd as he, was sure to gain,
And when, once seen, would certainly obtain.
Th' observing uncle mark’d the wonc'rous youth,
Fathom'd his love, his constancy, and truth :
Said,—to her father, pleas’d, he would them speed.
He said, and soon, th' enamour'd youth agreed.
Lo! with its precious freight the vessel sior'd,
Cornaro, and his happiness, on board.
Bless'd with chaste beauty, he such trifles scorn'd
As Jason stole, or Menelaus mourn'd.
Can gold, the heart, like conquering beauty move?
Or what is lust, compar'd to sacred love?

And now, for Malta, with full sails they stand,
Came, saw, and all but touch'd, the promis'd land.
When, O sad scene of Fortune's altering brow,
False, as the skies above, or seas below;
A Turkish galley mark’d them from afar,
Pursu'd their vessel, unprepar'd for war;
Resistance vain, by numbers over-borne,
To Symrna were they carried slaves forlorn.

Can words-what thought can scarce conceive-express
The uncle's, virgin's, lover's deep distress?
Compar'd with which the mangling knife would please,
And the fierce rack's severest pangs be ease.

And now, expos'd to public sale they stood, Amidst the bartering Turk's insulting crowd:

Immortal souls the property decreed
Of the best bidder, like the ox, or steed.
E'en this the lovers bore, each other near,
And, yet unparted, felt no full despair,

But, see, at length, accomplish'd wo arrive !
To deal the last, sad wound, she had to give :
Her sable store she cull'd, the dart to finid,
Nor left one half so venomed shaft behind.
Among the dealers of this cruel fair,
Traffic accurs'd—that makes mankind its ware ;
A youthful Turk pass’d young Cornaro by,
Health flush'd his cheek, and lust inflam'd his eye.
And to the female slaves his way he bent,
Twas there his gold must have its wanton vent,

How should Delphina, then, escape his sight,
Too fatally, in midst of sorrow, bright?
Her breast took beauty from the heaving sigh;
Nor could the tear that drown'd eclipse her eye ;
But falling on her damask cheek, it stood,
Like the pearl dew-drop on the morning bud.

He quickly saw the too distinguish'd fair,
And thought his prophet's paradise was there.
Her price, at once, unquestioning he paid,
The fatal veil around her beauties spread,
And dragg'd exulting off, the swooning maid.

'Twas then Cornaro felt distress complete,
And knew the worst extreme of torturing fate.
Furies to plague him, now, had striven in vain,
Nor gnawing vultures could increase his pain,
Too fierce for human nature to sustain.
He sunk beneath his sorrow's dreadful load,
And, senseless, from excess of anguish stood.
When, lo!-one graver

Turk
among

the rest,
And more distinguished by his costlier vest,
A nicer curiosity express'd.
Each slave examin'd, as he pass'd along,
And on each circumstance attentive hung.
He ask'd their country, parentage, and name,
And how each drooping wretch a slave became.
Behold him to Cornaro now apply;
Full on his face he fix'd a stedfast eye;
Then, ask'd his soul, if what he saw was true,

}

}

And, that it was some sure reflection knew.
His nerves, all trembling with the glad surprize,
To heaven he stretch'd his hands, and rais'd his eyes.

And then,– I thank thee, Mahomet :-he said,
Hither, by thy divine direction led.
Sounds struck Cornaro's ear he ought to know,
And wak'd him from his dismal trance of wo.
He saw the Turk prepar’d for his embrace,
Mark'd the warm transport gleaming in his face.
Cornaro saw the slave he once set free,
And cry'd aloud-Great God of Hosts !-'tis He!

Then, folded in each other's arms they stood,
And words were lost in joy's o’erwhelming flood.
The Turk, at length, recovering, rear'd his head,
And now,--he said,-my mighty debt is paid ;
Which, wert thou not the slave I now survey,
Peruvian mines were much too poor to pay.

To the man-merchant, then, he stretch'd his hand, And take,--he said..whate'er thy wants demand ; Quick, set my friend, and his companion free ; Name thou the price, unbartering, I agree. The ransom'd home he led, in bounteous state, His swelling soul with god-like joy elate, Resembling that which fillid El-Shaddai's breast When Adam in his paradise he plac'd.

His lofty hall, with richest sofas grac'd, His wives, his children, in due order plac'd, Such was his will though hidden his intent, Sate with mute wonder, waiting the event. Among them all he, then, Cornaro led, And wip'd away a tear of joy ;-then said, Ye of my licens'd bed, ye partners fair, Who

my divided love, yet equal, share ; And ye,

the issue of our honest joys, If aught my words avail, ye generous boys; My children, and my wives, to whom I ne'er, But, by my dismal exile, caus'd a tear; If, in my absence, ye not falsely mourn'd, If your vast joy was true when I return’d ; If Allah saw you, without guile, rejoice, And our dread prophet heard your real voice ; Now, more adore Him, prostrate praise His pow?r,

Admire his bounty's unexhausted store ;
But now, from chains I freed the captive's hands,
And here, Cornaro, my deliverer stands.

All prostrate at that sacred name they fell,
How touch'd, true Gratitude, alone, can tell ;
True Gratitude, that dictated their joy,
Smild in each cheek, and spoke in every eye.
The Moslem saw, with joy, the pleasing scene,
The heart-felt throb thrill'd warm through every vein ;
Their gratitude his inmost soul approv'd,
Which loudly told how much himself was lov’d.

Now haste, he said,—the sumptuous feast prepare,
My wives, to deck the banquet be your care,
As if great Ottoman, himself, were there !
For know, th' imperial Crescent's sacred flame,
Cannot more homage, than Cornaro, claim.
And you, my sons, whate'er my ward-robes boast,
Whate'er of crimson, gold, or gems, I have of cost;
Bring forth ! But oh! however rich the dress,
How poorly will it his soul's worth express !
Come, then, my friend !-But, why that down-cast eye ?
That cheek yet pale, and that still heaving sigh?
Freedom thou hast ;--and whate'er wealth can give,
Is my blest task ;-thine only, to receive.

Cornaro blusii'd and sigh'd, and would have spoke,
But as he strove, sobs still his accents broke;
The uncle saw, yet silent, his distress,
And, what Cornaro could not-ventur’d to express.
He told the tale of love,—the fair pourtray'd,
Pencil'd the semblance of the blue-ey'd maid,
Ere this, perhaps, some Turk's abandon'd prey,
Torn, ever torn, from her lov'd lord away ;
Her liege lord doom'd no other bliss to prove,
Than life, and horror,-if bereft of love.

The Moslem, sorrowing, beard the fatal tale,
Fearing his utmost bounty, here, must fail ;
Fearing, he never could the maid restore,
Victim, ere this, of some 'rude tyrant's power;
Ere this conceal'd in some embowering grove,
Where lust usurps the sacred name of love.
Some close Seraglio's gloom, from whose dark bourne,
No maid did e'er inviolate return.

« PreviousContinue »