Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

For here, whate'er his life's degree,
The Muslim loves to rest at last,
Loves to recross the band of sea

That parts him from his people's past. 'Tis well to live and lord o'er those

2

By whom his sires were most renown'd,
But his fierce heart finds best repose
In this traditionary ground.

From this funereal forest's edge
I gave my sight full range below,
Reclining on a grassy ledge,
Itself a grave, or seeming so:
And that huge city flaunting bright,
That crowded port and busy shore,
With roofs and minarets steep'd in light,
Seem'd but a gaudy tomb the more.

I thought of what one might have hop'd
From Greek and Roman power combin❜d,
From strength, that with a world had cop'd,
Match'd to the queen of human mind;
From all the wisdom, might, and grace,
That fancy's gods to man had given,
Blent in one empire and one race,

By the true faith in Christ and Heaven.

The finest webs of earthly fate

Are soonest and most harshly torn;
The wise could scarce discriminate

That evening splendour from the morn;
Though we, sad students of the past,
Can trace the lurid twilight line
That lies between the first and last
That bore the name of Constantine.

1 Or Moslem (Mahometan): signifies "resigned to God." The glories of the Khalifate.

Such were my thoughts and such the scene,
When I perceiv'd that by me stood
A Grecian youth, of earnest mien,
Well suiting my reflective mood:
And when he spoke, his words were tun'd
Harmonious to my present mind,

As if his spirit had commun'd

With mine, while I had there reclin❜d.

"Stranger! whose soul has strength to soar
Beyond the compass of the eye,
And on a spot like this can more
Than charms of form and hue descry,
Take off this mask of beauty,

scan

The face of things with truth severe,
Think, as becomes a Christian man,
Of us thy Christian brethren here!

"Think of that age's awful birth,

When Europe echo'd, terror-riven, That a new foot was on the earth,

And a new name come down from heaven: When over Calpe's straits and steeps

The Moor had bridg'd his royal road, And Othman's sons from Asia's deeps The conquests of the Cross o'erflow'd.

"Think, if the arm of Charles Martel
Had fail'd upon the plain of Tours,
The fate, whose course you know so well,
This foul subjection had been yours:
Where then had been the long renown
France can from sire to son deliver?
Where English freedom, rolling down,
One widening, one continuous river?

"Think with what passionate delight
The tale was told in Christian halls,
How Sobieski turn'd to flight

The Muslim from Vienna's walls:
How, when his horse triumphant trod
The burghers' richest robes upon,
The ancient words rose loud-From God1
A man was sent, whose name was John!'

"Think not that time can ever give
Prescription to such doom as ours,
That Grecian hearts can ever live
Contented serfs of barbarous powers:
More than six hundred years had past
Since Moorish hosts could Spain o'erwhelm,
Yet Boabdil was thrust at last,
Lamenting 2, from Granada's realm.

"And if to his old Asian seat,
From this usurp'd, unnatural throne,
The Turk is driven, 'tis surely meet
That we again should hold our own:

1 Historical.

2 With the melancholy caprice of a broken spirit, he requested that no one afterwards might be permitted to pass through the gate of the Alhambra by which he departed when about to surrender his capital. His prayer was complied with, it is said, through the sympathy of Isabella, and the gate walled up. The spot is still shown where Boabdil surrendered the keys of Granada to the Castilian sovereign, and a rock is still denominated "The last Sigh of the Moor" where Boabdil took his farewell gaze of Granada, and where his affliction was embittered by the reproachful speech of his mother. "You do well," said she, "to weep as a woman over what you could not defend as a man ;"-words that savour more of the pride of the princess than the tenderness of the parent. See Washington Irving's Alhambra.

Be but Byzantium's native sign
Of cross on crescent once unfurl'd,
And Greece shall guard by right divine
The portals of the Eastern world.

"Before the small Athenian band
The Persian myriads stood at bay,
The spacious East lay down unmann'd
Beneath the Macedonian's sway:
Alas! that Greek could turn on Greek
Fountain of all our woes and shame -
Till man knew scarcely where to seek
The fragments of the Grecian name.

[ocr errors]

"Know ye the Romans of the North?
The fearful race whose infant strength
Stretches its arms of conquest forth,

To grasp the world in breadth and length? They cry, that ye and we are old,

And worn with luxuries and cares,

And they alone are fresh and bold,

Time's latest and most honour'd heirs!

"Alas for you! alas for us!

Alas for men that think and feel,
If once beside this Bosphorus

Shall stamp Sclavonia's frozen heel!

Oh! place us boldly in the van,
And ere we yield this narrow sea,
The past shall hold within its span
At least one more Thermopyla."

MILNES.

1 The Turks adopted the sign of the crescent from Byzantium after their conquest of that city. The cross above the crescent is found at Constantinople on many ruins of the Grecian city, among others, in the Genoese castle on the Bosphorus. The Virgin standing on the crescent is another common sign.

G G

TO THE CORAL INSECT. 1

TOIL on! toil on! ye ephemeral train,
Who build in the tossing and treacherous main ;
for the wisdom of man ye mock,

[ocr errors]

Toil on,
With your sand-bas'd structures and domes of rock
Your columns the fathomless fountains lave,
And your arches spring up to the crested wave ;
Ye're a puny race, thus to boldly rear

A fabric so vast in a realm so drear.

The

The Friendly, Navigators', and Society Islands are encircled by coral reefs. It was supposed that these islands owed their origin entirely to marine animals, who raised these coral rocks perpendicularly like a wall from great depths, and died when they found themselves above the level of the sea. sand, mussels, and other substances brought by the waves next added to the formation: the coral rock became covered with different lichens, which, as they died and decayed, gave rise to a new race, higher in the scale of vegetation: grass, herbaceous plants and shrubs followed in succession, until vegetable mould was formed, and the island fitted for the reception of the cocoanut palm, which was carried thither by the waves. Such was the theory of Forster and Flinders, but subsequent naturalists find that the reefs do not consist of coral above a few fathoms deep, and that the polypiaria by which they are formed, are not found where the water is more than 30 feet deep. They therefore suppose that these animals executed their work only in those parts of the sea where the bottom had been raised by volcanic or some natural cause nearly to the surface of the water: but so extensive are the works of these animals in the Pacific, that independently of the above islands, there is one part of the Pacific called the Coral Sea. It extends along the eastern coast of Australia to Sandy Point, assigning Papua and Luisiade as its northern boundary; and on the south, from Sandy Point to the Island of Pines near the southern coast of New Caledonia; on the east, it terminates at some distance from the New Hebrides. It extends more than 1000 miles in length and about 600 in width; the whole space is covered with innumerable coral reefs and banks, which have only a few feet of water over them, and are very dangerous to the navigator.

« VorigeDoorgaan »