Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Headlong he leapt—to him the swimmer's skill
Was native, and now all his hope from ill;
But how or where? He dived, and rose no more;
The boat's crew looked amazed o'er shore and shore.
There was no landing on that precipice,
Steep, harsh, and slippery as a berg of ice.
They watched awhile to see him float again,
But not a trace rebubbled froin the main :
The wave rolled on, no ripple on its face,
Since their first plunge recalled a single trace;
The little whirl which eddied, and slight foam,
That whitened o'er what seemed their latest home,
White as a sepulchre above the pair
Who lest no marble (mournful as an heir);
The quiet proa wavering o'er the tide
Was all that told of Torquil and his bride;
And but for this alone the whole might seem
The vanished phantom of a seaman's dream.
They paused and searched in vain, then pulled away,
Even Superstition now forbade their stay.
Some said he had not plunged into the wave,
But vanished like a corpse-light from a grave;
Others, that something supernatural
Glared in his figure, more than mortal tall;
While all agreed that in his cheek and eye
There was the dead hue of eternity.
Still as their oars receded from the crag,
Round every weed a moment would they lag,
Expectant of some token of their prey;

-he bad melted from them like the spray. . Within this rock was a cavern, the existence of which was a secret to all but Neuha. After diving for a short time, she and her lover, who followed her, rose on the other side, and found a fafe and convenient asylum in the rocky cavern,

Christian was, in the mean time, followed by the sailors, who had been baffled in their hope of taking Torquil. The mutineers land on a rugged rock, and sell their lives dearly: they are all killed, but not before many of their assailants have fallen. The manner of Christian's death is a vigorous picture :

But now

Christian died last-twice wounded; and once more
Mercy was offered when they saw his gore;
Too late for life, but not too late to die,
With though a hostile hand to close his eye.
A limb was broken, and he dropped along
The crag, as doth a falcon reft of young.
The sound revived him, or appeared to wake
Some passion which a weakly gesture spake;
He beckoned to the foremost who drew nigh,
But, as they neared, he reared his weapon high-
His last ball had been aimed, but from his breast
He tore the topmost button of his vest.
Dowu the tube dashed it, levelled, fired, and smiled
As his foe fell; then, like a serpent, coiled
His wounded, weary form, to where the steep
Looked desperate as himself along the deep;
Cast one glance back, and clenched his hand, and shook
His last rage 'gainst the earth which he forsook;
Then plunged ; the rock below received like glass
His body crushed into one gory mass,
With scarce a shred to tell of human form,
Or fragment for the sea-bird or the worm;
A fair-haired scalp, besmeared with blood and weeds,
Yet reeked, the rempant of himself and deeds;
Some splinters of his weapons (to the last,
As long as band could hold, he held them fast)
Yet glittered, but at distance-hurled away
To rast beneath the dew and dashing spray.
The rest was nothing-save a life mispent,
And soul-but who shall answer where it went ?

'Tis ours to bear, not judge the dead. Neuha keeps her lover in safety in the cavern until the ship has left the shore; when she returns him to her wondering countrymen, who, to honour her courage and devotion, call the cavern · Neuha's Cave' to this day.

The general character of this poem is, that it is more tame-That it contains more of a quiet beauty, but not perhaps, therefore, less of beauty-than most of his previous publications. It was certainly a subject which pleased himself; and, although there is not great care

[ocr errors]

evident in its construction, or elaborateness in its finish, it is full of interest and delightful excitement.

In the early part of 1824 a drama was produced, called • The Deformed Transformed.' It had long been talked of as having engaged Lord Byron's labours. It is founded upon a very horrible romance, called the “Three Brothers;' the author of which is not certainly known, but who is supposed to have been the late M. G. Lewis. In the first scene Amold, the hero of the drama, who is the youngest of seven sons, is driven from his paternal hovel by his mother, who loads him with abuse and reproach for no other than the very unnatural reason that he is deformed. The grief and despair which the youth feels at this crucl treatment impel him to get rid of a life which has become hateful to him : he is about to destroy himself, when he sees a cloud issue from the neighbouring fountain. A tall black man comes from it, and approaches him. This, to be brief, is the devil himself, who offers to give Arnold, in exchange for the misshapen figure which he bears at present, his choice of the brightest forms that the world ever held. Arnold, startled at the offer, asks upon what terms. The devil replies:

We will talk of that hereafter.
But I'll be moderate with you, for I see
Great things within you. You shall have no bond

But your own will, no contract save your deeds. The demon then conjures up the shapes of Julius Cæsar, of Alcibiades, of Socrates, of Anthony, of the Macedonian Demetrius, and of Achilles, upon the last of which Arnold fixes his choice. The following speech of Arnold's will display that character of mind which the poet has meant to convey in his person

Had no Power presented me
The possibility of change, I would
Have done the best which Spirit may, to make
Its way, with all Deformity's dull, deadly,
Discouraging weight upon me, like a mountain,
In feeling, on my heart as on my shoulders-
A hateful and unsightly molehill to
The eyes of happier man. I would have looked
On beanty in that sex which is the type
Of all we know or dream of beautiful

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

Published by J. Robins and Co. London, September 3, 1824.

« VorigeDoorgaan »