THE TRIUMPH OF SUPERSTITION.
RAPHAEL AND IANTHE.
1 IN Gothic times, when feudal laws obtain'd,
2 And tyranny with superstition reign'd,
3 Mysterious rites with dazzling shews confin'd
4 To narrow bounds the darken'd human mind;
5 Enslaving forms excluded Truth's pure light,
6 And wrapt the world in shades of mental night;
7 Where genius dawn'd it shot forth sanguine gleams,
8 Its fires infus'd ambition's frantic dreams;
9 Scar'd by the sword, fair Freedom distant flew,
10 And men machines to guilty conquerors grew;
11 While gloomy ignorance the earth pervades,
12 And science flies to deep romantic shades:
13 Yet still the active mind retain'd some power,
14 The fruit was lost, but stronger bloom'd the flower;[Page 75]
15 Poetic thoughts and deeds the brave combin'd,
16 And strong imagination seiz'd the blind.
17 But when amid those superstitious days
18 Some potent mind shed truth's obtrusive rays,
19 Suspicious priestcraft trembled at the sight,
20 And strove by horid crimes t' eclipse the light.
21 The fair IANTHE, bright as rising day,
22 Or the wild blossoms which unfold in May,
23 A victim fell to those tyrannic times,
24 Accus'd by priests of supernat'ral crimes,
25 Because some rays, with native genius fir'd,
26 Shot through her graceful eyes, and love inspir'd;
27 While still she dar'd be innocent and free,
28 With wisdom arm'd, and saint-like chastity.
29 By virtuous precepts form'd, this lovely maid
30 Was on the cold Helvetian mountains bred;[Page 76]
31 But thither chas'd, fled with her aged sire
32 From civil feuds, and persecutions dire.
33 They sought some spot where they might freely live,
34 And undisturb'd fair Nature's gifts receive.
35 O, wanderers vain! to seek for certain good,
36 Though kings and priests had stain'd the earth with blood;
37 Whose pride-swoln hearts, of tinsel'd virtues vain,
38 No feeling for men's miseries retain;
39 Hunting for fame, they idly sport with life,
40 While clashing int'rests urge perpetual strife.
41 IANTHE'S mind, pure, subtle, and profound,
42 With genuine force through light on all around;
43 Through her clear eyes the fires of fancy glow,
44 While wisdom flourish'd beauteous on her brow:
45 Her nerves, with force and quick sensations strung,
46 Deepen'd her rosy lips, and fir'd her trembling tongue.
47 A glimpse of truth her native genius caught,
48 For all around woke analyzing thought;[Page 77]
49 She saw, abhorrent, persecution's rod,
50 And in her heart she sought the unknown GOD;
51 The GOD who lights the heavens, and rules the storm,
52 Mix'd the pure elements, and gave them form!
53 Europe was in destructive wars engag'd,
54 Th' Imperial Eagle and the Pontiff rag'd;
55 The sword vast desolation spread around,
56 And swains unheeded felt the fatal wound:
57 SELMO (such was IANTHE's father's name)
58 Felt his blood freeze through his enfeebled frame;
59 Prone to repine, with age fastidious grown,
60 He made the sorrows of mankind his own.
61 Seeking for peace, through various realms they sped,
62 Still hopes of bliss like airy visions fled;
63 IANTHE saw with grief her father's mind,
64 While shunning ills, to Nature's blessings blind:
65 Her youthful senses oft with pleasures glow,
66 She feels some good still mix'd with human woe. [Page 78]
67 On spring's sweet close, when fostering Nature strows
68 The earth with flowers, and all creation glows,
69 They rested in Italia's pleasant vales,
70 Till vernal showers were chas'd by warmer gales;
71 Then SELMO sought to rove, whom nought can charm,
72 Though placid peace here breath'd a transient calm;
73 For still he saw, with acrimonious eye,
74 The powers of priestcraft and of tyranny,
75 With indignation heard th' uplifted rod
76 Of vile oppressors term'd the hand of GOD.
77 His fix'd design when fair IANTHE found,
78 Invountary sighs her bosom wound;
79 Suffus'd with tears, her eyes the fields survey,
80 She press'd his hand, and warmly urg'd his stay.
81 "Look round," she cried; "here smiling plenty blooms,
82 " The ambient air breathes Nature's rich perfumes. [Page 79]
83 "Stay, O my father! at my urgent prayer,
84 " These vales obscure our Maker's bounties share;
85 "The bliss we seek the world may not contain,
86 " We rove romantic, and our toils are vain;
87 "In every spot we've various miseries found,
88 " Though transient joys are scatter'd all around. "
89 Ardent she spoke, while hope a ray diffus'd,
90 But, still resolv'd, the restless sire refus'd;
91 Long on life's troubled ocean he had tost,
92 And now his relish of the calm was lost:
93 IANTHE's eyes stream'd o'er the lov'd retreat,
94 Of all the world this spot alone seem'd sweet;
95 Her heaving breast unusual anguish wrung,
96 And never so persuasive was her tongue.
97 Whence in her bosom did those cares arise?
98 Say, was her genius fir'd by RAPHAEL's eyes?
99 Or did the heavenly music of his song
100 Infuse its warmth to urge her glowing tongue? [Page 80]
101 Frequent their bland society he sought,
102 His genuine converse woke expanding thought;
103 Oft mingling lays with such transcendent art
104 As fir'd her fancy while they reach'd her heart.
105 Tears he saw glisten in IANTHE's eye,
106 Her bosom heaving with the parting sigh;
107 With quickest sympathy he caught her smart,
108 While mix'd emotions vibrate in his heart:
109 IANTHE's fire, her form replete with grace,
110 The rosy blush which crimson'd o'er her face,
111 Pervade his soul; her graceful hand he press'd,
112 And, with consent, the feeble sire address'd,
113 Urging their stay: with fear he rapid speaks,
114 While anxious feelings ting'd his ardent cheeks;
115 Though fretful anger from old SELMO broke,
116 With ardour irresistible he spoke.
117 Both plead at once, strong arguments they pour,
118 With anxious tears, and each persuasive power;
119 His first resolves before their wishes melt,
120 For latent motives in their force he felt:[Page 81]
121 He yields; — young RAPHAEL points his piercing eyes,
122 Quick warm suffusions o'er IANTHE rise;
123 A sudden shower fell o'er her blushing cheeks,
124 And her delight too eloquently speaks.
125 Then SELMO chose a more obscure retreat,
126 To build a humble mansion, plainly neat,
127 Distant from where the feudal lords reside,
128 Amid a wood, and on a hill's warm side;
129 Her wild profusions Nature strow'd around,
130 And friendly rills refresh'd the shaggy ground;
131 RAPHAEL assistance yields; his skilful hand
132 Hew'd the rough trees, and plough'd th' unfurrow'd land;
133 To Nature true, by purest thought refin'd,
134 No idle scorn of toil debas'd his mind.
135 IANTHE with fine taste the flowers combines,
136 And round their mansion spreads the swelling vines. [Page 82]
137 Oft RAPHAEL works beside th' inspiring maid,
138 And tender passions all his powers invade;
139 Celestial was the music of her tongue,
140 He added force, and wrote th' extatic song;
141 His tuneful lays fair Nature's works disclose,
142 And latent truth drawn forth reflected glows;
143 Mute on his burning lips love trembling hung,
144 While strong expression mark'd each feeling song;
145 Her kindling cheeks with deeper blushess glow,
146 And tremulous her warbling measures flow.
147 The jealous SELMO views, with watchful eyes,
148 Their mutual passions as they strengthening rise;
149 A parent's care hung heavy at his breast,
150 Till freely they their artless loves confess'd;
151 Then late he felt fresh happiness to dawn,
152 And 'midst life's winter view'd one glowing morn.
153 The eyes of RAPHAEL, piercing as the light,
154 Spoke his whole soul, and sparkled with delight. [Page 83]
155 IANTHE strives her transports to conceal,
156 And 'midst her ringlets her deep blushes veil.
157 Old SELMO bless'd them, while a grateful tear
158 Flow'd from his eyes, and mingled with the prayer.
159 One eve the kindling heavens resplendent shone,
160 While sinking Phoebus girds his crimson zone,
161 Whose glorious beams through tracts immense were shed,
162 And not one cloud o'er heaven's vast arch was spread:
163 Amongst the woods IANTHE stray'd afar,
164 Marking the lustre of the evening star;
165 On her fair face the setting sun-beams glow,
166 To Nature's God her songs enraptur'd flow:
167 As on she wander'd, fearless of alarms,
168 ARNO from far beheld her graceless charms:
169 ARNO, the child of fortune and of fame,
170 Whose nervous manhood early deeds proclaim;[Page 84]
171 A noble strength of thought his soul inspires,
172 But foster'd passion fed vindictive fires;
173 In his large eyes strong sense and feeling glow,
174 But anger rose like thunder on his brow:
175 Vast his designs, with rising pride he strode,
176 And wild ambition taints his youthful blood;
177 Lawless he tramples o'er the peasant's corn,
178 O'erleaps the fence, and treads ther flowery lawn.
179 At night he walks the woods, stole hours from sleep,
180 To give his thoughts a large unbounded sweep;
181 Mus'd on the Bard * who godlike heroes sung,
182 And caught their fire from his inspired tongue;
183 Strong to endure, he nurs'd an ardent flame,
184 Mistaking virtue, call'd it thirst of fame;
185 Each generous thought his ample heart could move,
186 Though violent in hate, yet boundless in his love.
187 While o'er the fields his rolling eyes he threw,
188 IANTHE like a seraph met his view;[Page 85]
189 Almost a vision of his brain she seem'd
190 (Whose warmth indulg'd with thousand phantoms teem'd);
191 Uncertain what she was, her path he cross'd,
192 He stopp'd, he gaz'd, in admiration lost.
193 The fires of love seem'd glancing from her eyes,
194 Her glowing cheeks were ting'd with heavenly dies;
195 O'er her light frame bewitching graces stray'd,
196 And 'midst her smiles a thousand charms pourtray'd.
197 Entranc'd he gaz'd — at once her power confess'd,
198 And youthful transports fir'd his manly breast.
199 The blind restor'd scarce feel more strong delight,
200 When heaven's vast orb first strikes th' astonish'd sight.
201 He caught her hand, and breath'd impassion'd sighs,
202 While fear and anger flush'd her cheeks and eyes;
203 Quick from his grasp her hand she trembling drew,
204 And, wing'd with terror, swift as light she flew.
205 Aw'd by the virtue sacred on her brow,
206 Unusual feelings through his bosom glow;[Page 86]
207 He saw her shoot before him as a star
208 Which, meteor-like, darts through the hemisphere;
209 Her magic limbs he view'd, while on the wind
210 Her long luxuriant tresses stream'd behind:
211 Ardent he gaz'd, lost in romantic bliss,
212 And doom'd with strong resolve IANTHE his.
213 To boundless passion all his heart resign'd,
214 He shook each shackle from his haughty mind,
215 And following quick, stung at his own delay,
216 Bounds o'er each barrier which obstructs his way:
217 The woods awhile conceal the flying fair,
218 Tortur'd he flew, more rapid from despair;
219 One glance he caught — to sight her mansion rose;
220 He saw her enter, and the portal close.
221 Rash in resolve, and conscious of his power,
222 With mad tyrannic force he wrench'd the door;
223 In fiercely rush'd; — but started as he view'd
224 RAPHAEL, who by his lov'd IANTHE stood. [Page 87]
225 Spent with her flight, she on his arm reclin'd,
226 Smil'd in his eyes, and calm'd her fluttering mind.
227 The tyrant saw, but scarcely stopp'd to look,
228 His inmost soul with grief and anger shook:
229 RAPHAEL he lov'd, had patroniz'd his lays,
230 Rais'd him from want, and crown'd with living bays;
231 Dare he, th' admitted partner of his board,
232 Triumphant thwart th' affections of his lord?
233 His horror-shedding brow in curls arose,
234 A threatening vengeance in his eye-balls glows;
235 Flashing with its ungovernable sway,
236 He like an angry tempest burst away.
237 SELMO his eyes towards IANTHE rais'd —
238 IANTHE, conscious, trembled as he gaz'd;
239 Whate'er had pass'd with faultering lips declares,
240 Spent with fatigue, and shook with rising fears.
241 As RAPHAEL heard, a secret pang possess'd
242 His anxious mind, and agitates his breast;[Page 88]
243 But this repressing, her lov'd hand he took,
244 And from the ardour of his passion spoke;
245 Their nuptial day he urg'd, while inward smart
246 Ton'd each persuasive word, and fir'd her heart.
247 While yet he speaks loud tumults burst the door,
248 And soldiers entering, round young RAPHAEL pour;
249 From ARNO sent, his stern commands they brought,
250 Quick to convey him where his armies fought —
251 To distant regions, scenes to him unknown,
252 Where ARNO's power upheld a tyrant's throne:
253 Thus forced along, resistance were as vain
254 As if a pebble strove to stem the main.
255 RAPHAEL's pure breast, where Virtue made abode,
256 By early thought with fortitude endow'd,
257 Too deeply pierc'd, no longer could controul
258 The desperate sorrow which o'erwhelm'd his soul;
259 Those love-attractive orbs, his vivid eyes,
260 Convulsive roll'd, each thought confus'dly flies;[Page 89]
261 Scarcely the drowned words a passage broke,
262 While raving, thus with agony he spoke:
263 "Alas! each promis'd blessing torn away,
264 " IANTHE falls the mighty victor's prey!
265 "O! dire effect of arbitrary power!
266 " In vain their bitter tears the wretched pour!
267 "Vainly thou beat'st thy breast, in vain thy cries,
268 " Thy RAPHAEL only guesses at thy sighs! "
269 Her quick-presaging mind forsaw the stroke,
270 And all her frame with inward tremblings shook;
271 Yet, struggling with her pangs, she powerful strove
272 To calm his fears, and prove her stedfast love;
273 Infus'd fair hope, to snatch him from despair,
274 And claim'd protection of their Maker's care;
275 Vows of eternal constancy she paid,
276 And firmness 'midst her tenderest tears display'd. [Page 90]
277 He saw her virtue with such strength combin'd,
278 That, trusting in the God who arm'd her mind,
279 He strove sublime to meet his fate resign'd.
280 SELMO, by ARNO's lawless power dismay'd,
281 Far from his reach had borne th' unhappy maid;
282 But ruin threats him if he flies th' abode
283 Where all his little wealth was now bestow'd.
284 IANTHE's mind, with conscious worth elate,
285 Fearless decides her father's wavering state:
286 Secure within, tho' stung with deepest smart,
287 She feels resentment fire her daring heart;
288 She longs the tyrant's spirit to controul,
289 To probe his vice, and humble his high soul;
290 And SELMO, proud of virtues he had rear'd,
291 Secure in them, no more the despot fear'd.
292 Impassion'd ARNO, anxious to remove,
293 Unrival'd now, each barrier to his love,[Page 91]
294 Skill'd in the world, and each seducing art,
295 Studies to wind around her widow'd heart;
296 All means he tries — too well his ardent mind,
297 Fertile in thought, could varying pleasures find:
298 He forc'd a charm through ev'ry sense to steal,
299 And strove each baser motive to conceal;
300 Yet vain his powers, no passion they impart,
301 Her mind despises and pervades his art.
302 Till now his spirit ne'er had borne controul,
303 She curbs his fires, but captivates his soul;
304 Still from her rosy lips sweet music flies,
305 And radiant glances still escape her eyes.
306 Seeking revenge, she triumph'd in her power,
307 And taught the haughty tyrant to adore:
308 Wild satire vibrates from her scornful tongue,
309 And pointed truths each conscious passion stung;
310 The flash of wit, inspiring and severe,
311 Display'd her hate, and fill'd him with despair.
312 Baffled and anger'd now, he sues no more,
313 But asks advice of saintly THEODORE. [Page 92]
314 "Alas!" reply'd the priest, "why should my son
315 " Consult with me, since power is all his own?
316 "Nature t' adorn thy name with Fortune vies,
317 " At thy command the unyielding rebel dies;
318 "If such thy wishes, say what power restrains?
319 " O! force the bliss which ignorance disdains;
320 "For must thy youth be blasted 'midst its bloom,
321 " And all thy glories wither in the tomb? —
322 Thus spoke the priest; impetuous he complies,
323 And rushing joys burst from his large black eyes.
324 Vile THEODORE was early train'd in sin,
325 But outward meekness hid the fiend within;
326 Religion's cloak close veil'd an athiest breast,
327 Which lust and grossest appetites possess'd.
328 Soon a dire scheme his brain inventive laid,
329 And prompt to execute, he seeks the maid;
330 But soon as he beheld her glowing charms,
331 His own frail breast a guilty passion warms;[Page 93]
332 Her graceful eyes, which glow'd with innate fire,
333 Her mental powers his wondering soul inspire.
334 To ARNO soon he shew'd an alter'd mind,
335 And, pleading conscience, the base act resign'd.
336 Th' impassion'd Baron saw the vile intent,
337 Quick to perceive, and ardent to resent.
338 "And whence," with burning rage, aloud he cries,
339 "This new-born conscience? whence so lately wise?
340 " O, fool! to trust my secrets to a breast
341 "By falsehood, craft, and selfishness possess'd.
342 " Yet guard thy actions, lest my wrath be hurl'd,
343 "And all thy crimes blaze forth before the world."
344 He spoke abrupt, and from his presence broke,
345 But stung with deep remorse in secret shook;
346 He felt the other's baseness, while deep shame
347 Paints his own crimes, and glows througout his frame. [Page 94]
348 With purer thoughts again he seeks the maid,
349 Passion and grief his noble breast pervade,
350 Not more by beauty than her virtues fir'd,
351 And by her force and harmony inspir'd.
352 Sincerity and ardour fir'd his eyes,
353 His manly bosom heav'd with potent sighs;
354 Spite of herself, such force his flames impart,
355 That all her constancy scarce sav'd her heart.
356 Unknown of ARNO, THEODORE meanwhile
357 Oft visits SELMO, and with subtle guile
358 In vilest colours paints the Baron's mind,
359 And charges him with crimes himself design'd.
360 IANTHE caught th' alarm, with deepest smart
361 Trembling perceives his power pervade her heart;
362 Stung to the quick, repentance wrung her breast,
363 Humbled, her mind its impotence confess'd;
364 Blushing within, each though inflicts a wound,
365 And refuge oft near THEODORE she found;[Page 95]
366 To him she flies, as an instructive friend,
367 In whose sage converse all her powers extend.
368 ARNO repuls'd, with wounded pride retires,
369 And sought with nobler thoughts to quench his fires;
370 Too long to idle grief a willing prey,
371 With strength of soul he curb'd its powerful sway.
372 To THEODORE'S intent IANTHE blind,
373 Sought for instruction from his well stor'd mind:
374 Her heart, for pure affections finely fram'd,
375 Seem'd torpid when its tributes were unclaim'd;
376 Unconscious of the flame which burnt his heart,
377 With him she strays, her opening thoughts t' impart:
378 And as he hears, beneath his shadowy brow
379 His eyes drank love, and swelling features glow.
380 Once, in the bosom of a silent grove,
381 Th' unhallow'd priest profanely urg'd his love. —[Page 96]
382 Shock'd and astonish'd, while she calls for aid,
383 With lawless force he seiz'd the struggling maid;
384 But her loud shrieks transpierc'd the air around:
385 In vain he strove to suffocate the sound;
386 Advancing feet of men and horse he hears —
387 He starts confus'd, and flies, o'erwhelm'd with fears:
388 Scarcely she breathes, her cheeks with anger flush,
389 O'er her whole frame deep spreads the crimson blush;
390 From those who proffer'd aid, with flashing eyes,
391 Confus'd, enrag'd, the trembling virgin flies.
392 Her succourers advance, a noble train
393 Of royal hunters, bounding o'er the plain.
394 The prince commands to stop her as she flies,
395 And asks from whence arose those piercing cries?
396 Panting and spent, the wretched nymph they caught,
397 And fainting to the prince and nobles brought:
398 By men surrounded, pierc'd by curious eyes,
399 Her heart within her fluttering bosom dies;[Page 97]
400 The wretch she names, his vile intention speaks,
401 Her quick'ning pulses throb, shame dies her burning cheeks.
402 Each youthful bosom, by her beauty fir'd,
403 Touch'd by her wrongs, was with revenge inspir'd;
404 But most the prince, enrag'd, and threat'ning loud,
405 Destruction to the wretched miscreant vow'd;
406 Charm'd with her youth, he bade her not to fear;
407 Himself conducts her to her father's care:
408 Her eyes beam'd thanks, her cheeks spoke modesty;
409 He gaz'd, and left her with an ardent sigh.
410 By fair IANTHE into fury wrought,
411 The prince with eager haste the culprit sought;
412 The soldiers seize him, at their lord's commands;
413 Humbly before th' assembled court he stands.
414 The priests surrounding cast a lowering eye,
415 Aloud the youthful lords for justice cry;[Page 98]
416 The prince, inflam'd, a faithful witness bears,
417 And menacing, the vile attempt declares;
418 Dauntless he stood, as if to vice unknown,
419 (For well he knew the weakness of the throne.)
420 "Thy will, O GOD! be done," he cried aloud,
421 Then to the court with low submission bow'd;
422 "But hear, just powers, a guiltless wretch resign'd,
423 " And guard from witchcraft the king's sacred mind;
424 "Before her spells young ARNO'S bloom decays,
425 " And fierce on me th' infernal poison preys. "
426 He said no more, but firmly rais'd his eyes,
427 And with mock prayers insults the the awful skies.
428 Then 'mid the priests rose up a reverend sire,
429 Whose rolling eye-balls flash'd romantic fire,
430 The visionary ROBERT, friend of song,
431 Rapt in wild dreams, fanatic, rash, and strong;[Page 99]
432 Those powers which might have form'd him wise and good,
433 Lost in the bigot, made him thirst for blood;
434 His brother he commands to speak more plain,
435 And fully his mysterious words explain.
436 Then THEODORE his crafty bosom bar'd: —
437 "This heart," he cried, "by innocence prepar'd,
438 " Can firmly stand the test, or bravely bleed,
439 "Should the base arts of hell o'er truth succeed;
440 " Yet here I vow, by all my hopes in heav'n,
441 "That by her spells to desperation driv'n,
442 " I fled before her, scorch'd by mad desire,
443 "Burnt by the flames of an internal fire;
444 " Writh'd to the soul, I smart with secret pains,
445 "For still her magic arts infest my veins."
446 With trembling heart the bigot monarch hears,
447 Whose govern'd mind teem'd with religious fears;[Page 100]
448 In him the slave and tyrant were combin'd,
449 Impotent, cruel, and with priestcraft blind;
450 Through his own veins he felt unusual heat,
451 And, as possess'd, his nerves and pulses beat;
452 Fearful he sat, and dar'd not give command.
453 When ROBERT rose, to stretch a saving hand
454 O'er the vile priest, and bade him not to fear,
455 "Truth's sacred rays," he cried, "shall falsehood clear;"
456 Then urg'd with zeal the sorc'ress should be tried,
457 And the just ordeal on her crimes decide.
458 The prince assents; th' ill-fated maid they sought,
459 And quickly, with her aged father, brought;
460 His wrinkled visage, wash'd in briny tears,
461 Dawn'd not a ray to chase his daughter's fears;
462 O'er her fair breast, by many sorrows wrung,
463 Her long light hair in waving tresses hung;
464 The purest innocence illum'd her face,
465 And every action spoke superior grace. [Page 101]
466 An universal horror fills each breast,
467 All sue for her and criminate the priest;
468 Who claims the sacred ordeal to decide,
469 And chides their zeal with preistly art and pride:
470 "That pity which you feel her spells inspire,
471 " Her eyes will pierce you with their magic fire. "
472 Her voice was silenc'd when she strove to speak;
473 The guiltless blood ran warmly through her cheek;
474 Devout, on high she rais'd her lucid eyes,
475 Resign'd, on conscious innocence relies,
476 For well she knew the Author of her breath
477 With lengthen'd life might curse, or bless with death.
478 Vile THEODORE each crafty engine plies,
479 To prove her guilty false expedients tries.
480 Virtue no justice on this earth commands;
481 Convicted by each trial now she stands,
482 Past all dispute — though grief assails each eye,
483 The prince condemns her as a witch to die. [Page 102]
484 SELMO, whose restless mind and wavering breast
485 No strength from calm philosophy possess'd,
486 Nor from religion resignation drew,
487 Desponding, wild, with fierce distraction flew:
488 The hoary sire beheld her dragg'd along,
489 While direful horror froze his speechless tongue;
490 With trembling hands he smote his hopeless breast;
491 His rolling eyes departing sense express'd;
492 Aghast he stood, his feeble brain turn'd round,
493 High swell'd his heart, his thoughts no utterance found; —
494 Then sudden flew, like one possess'd and blind,
495 Or wither'd leaves of aspin driv'n by wind;
496 Felt not his age, with transient fury strong;
497 Loud cries broke forth, with which the mountains rung:
498 He climbs a clift, on his IANTHE calls,
499 And, starting backward, from its summit falls. [Page 103]
500 Confin'd, to solitude a lonely prey,
501 In dreary cells the saint-like sufferer lay,
502 By ardent prayer and deep reflection strove
503 From her warm heart to shake the ties of love,
504 (Which to the earth her sweet affections bind,)
505 And raise in hope tow'rds Heav'n her pious mind
506 Yet her young breast oft pants with inward fears,
507 While love and nature force impassion'd tears.
508 Involv'd in science, ARNO's injur'd mind
509 All pleasures and the pomp of courts resign'd;
510 Strong disappointments noble lessons taught,
511 His heart he learn'd, and purify'd each thought:
512 To him when rumour those dire tidings bears,
513 His rage relapses while aghast he hears;
514 With passion fir'd, and wild resentment wrought,
515 His armed force with eager haste he sought;
516 Through his swoll'n veins the blood in torrents flies,
517 While fury blazes from his threatening eyes;[Page 104]
518 Convulsive passion half suppress'd his breath,
519 Burning he rushes on to snatch the maid from death.
520 Summon'd, his vassals all unite around,
521 And the earth trembles with the warlike sound;
522 His limbs he arm'd, and shook his well-tried spear,
523 Then flew impetuous, menacing from far.
524 RAPHAEL, compell'd, in ARNO's armies fought,
525 And 'mongst his troops promiscuously was brought;
526 IANTHE's fate was still to him unknown,
527 Deep-stung, the past absorbs his thoughts alone;
528 Such strong dejection long had bound his mind,
529 He seem'd struck off the chain of human kind;
530 Lost in a dreary retrospect of woes,
531 Of all unconscious, to the field he goes.
532 ARNO impatient rushes o'er the plain,
533 And fires with fierce revenge the hostile train. [Page 105]
534 This day was fair IANTHE doom'd to bleed;
535 The long processions to the pile proceed;
536 Already on the baneful fagots rear'd,
537 With elevated soul the maid appear'd;
538 Amid her fears one beam of extasy
539 Shot o'er her face, and lighten'd in her eye;
540 Fir'd by immortal hopes, each ardent thought
541 Aspir'd to heaven, and her Redeemer sought;
542 Her soul resign'd, trusts that each earthly tie
543 Will there unite in bless'd eternity.
544 The prince with terror heard loud shouts from far,
545 And the dire sounds of unexpected war;
546 Soon selfish fears his coward heart dismay'd,
547 With voice confus'd, unknowing what he said,
548 He bade the kindling flames to be allay'd.
549 ARNO rush'd on to snatch her from her fate,
550 And whelm in ruins the tyrannic state;[Page 106]
551 When THEODORE, with quickness all his own,
552 Apart to ROBERT cries, "To thee alone
553 " The prince can safety owe; — say, canst thou stand
554 "And see a sacrilegious foe command?"
555 "Short is his date," austere the priest reply'd;
556 "Soon shall the haughty rebel rue his pride."
557 A ponderous crucifix his right hand held,
558 The left a sacred pompous relick fill'd;
559 Reverend his form, mysterious his attire,
560 His haggard eyes teem'd with religious fire;
561 As one inspir'd he rushes on the plain,
562 And spreads his robes before the royal train;
563 Then rearing high the cross and holy band,
564 He hurl'd defiance with a fierce command.
565 "Foes to your mother church, ah! whither driv'n,
566 " Like fallen angels would ye war with Heav'n? [Page 107]
567 "Tis Satan leads ye on, thus proudly great;
568 " Death is your portion, hell your lasting fate,
569 "Unless ye timely bow to Heaven's commands,
570 " And seize yon ruffian with your hostile hands,
571 "Which impiously against your GOD you've rear'd,
572 " Nor his high laws, nor burning vengeance fear'd.
573 "Heavens! while I speak convulsive pants my breath,
574 " Lest GOD in wrath denounce some aweful death!
575 "Remember KORAH'S fate! and trembling know
576 " Judgments await each sacrilegious foe. "
577 He spoke; — amaz'd, they fling their arms away,
578 Some cross their breasts, whilst ardently they pray;
579 Some seize their chief, but, brooking no controul,
580 He felt despair's sharp sting inflict his soul.
581 "Before unconquer'd, now shall priests subdue?
582 " And shall IANTHE fall in ARNO'S view?
583 "Can he 'midst flames behold the maid expire,
584 " And want the power to quench the hellish fire? " [Page 108]
585 Wildly he rav'd; the priestly train advance
586 To lead him captive, and to seize his lance;
587 Sullen he turn'd, while rage and deadly smart
588 Swell'd his proud breast, and almost burst his heart;
589 His powers, his spirit, can no aid afford,
590 Sudden he rushes on his desperate sword.
591 " Hold his rash hand! "commanding ROBERT cries,
592 But vain, for as he spoke the hero dies.
593 A mingled murmur ran, some shout aloud,
594 The distant troops around their leader crowd;
595 RAPHAEL indignant, 'mongst the rest drew nigh,
596 And o'er the field threw an enquiring eye;
597 Far in the rear, unconscious he had been,
598 Till now too distant to survey the scene;
599 But as he look'd around with dumb surprize,
600 Confus'd, a distant spectre seem'd to rise,
601 IANTHE's form, in direful garbs array'd,
602 Appear'd on piles of kindling fagots laid —
603 Wildly he flew towards the horrid shade. —[Page 109]
604 By priests withheld, he rages like the wind
605 Within the hollow of a rock confin'd;
606 But strong as winds, with unremitting force
607 He breaks their hold, and wings his active course;
608 He ran, disarm'd and wounded in the fray,
609 And to the pile forc'd his intrepid way; —
610 No spectre mocks, no empty shade descends,
611 In horrid certainty the vision ends.
612 Bleeding and pale he gaz'd, with horror fill'd,
613 His soul was shook, and every nerve was thrill'd;
614 Ere he can speak they tear him from the maid,
615 While round the pile the crackling flames invade.
616 She caught his eyes; — her resignation shook: —
617 She struck her breast, but the volum'nous smoke
618 Wild rising to the winds obscur'd her view,
619 And kindling flames to vivid fierceness blew;
620 Blood-thirsty bigotry exulting glows,
621 And ROBERT shouted as the flames arose. [Page 110]
622 Wild rag'd the fires, the crackling pile gives way,
623 Th' involving smoke obscures the face of day,
624 And flames upon the crumbling ruins prey.
625 The priests triumphant hail the Heavenly King,
626 And e'en 'midst murder, songs of worship sing.
627 RAPHAEL, whom virtue snatch'd from rash despair,
628 Now seem'd the test of what the heart can bear:
629 As he beheld the barbarous flames ascend,
630 And o'er the pile the circling smoke extend,
631 Awhile, by each sublimer thought forsook,
632 All that was human in his bosom shook;
633 A frantic wish of death alone inspires
634 To mingle souls, and rush amid the fires;
635 Desp'rate he flew tow'rds where the fagots blaz'd,
636 But, ere he plung'd, from pious habit rais'd
637 His heart to GOD; that sacred name impress'd
638 The sense of duty on his rebel breast;
639 He felt a power divine his rage controul,
640 An inward voice restrain his daring soul;[Page 111]
641 Awful against self-murder conscience rose;
642 Trembling he stopp'd; his heart with horror froze:
643 "Can the rash suicide e'er hope to join
644 " IANTHE'S spirit in the realms divine? "
645 His heart he prostrates, though convuls'd with woe,
646 And as a Christian bore the deadly blow,
647 Mingles amid a dreary world again,
648 Suff'ring a life of labour and of pain;
649 From sorrow more sublime, more firm from thought,
650 Those truths he studied which the Saviour taught;
651 And from reflection and the Gospel drew
652 Strength, which on faith and hope's firm basis grew,
653 And virtues pure, unmix'd with bigotry,
654 Which breath'd forbearance, justice, charity!
655 Illum'd within, e'en in that bloody hour
656 When priestcraft reign'd with arbitrary power,
657 He saw their sway dissolve all human ties,
658 And darkness veil the laws, and Truth's fair eyes,[Page 112]
659 Yet could impart no ray of sacred light:
660 So thick the mists which clouded human sight.
661 Thus dark, in error wrapt, long groan'd mankind,
662 Pleas'd with vain shews, and to oppression blind;
663 Till Freedom, dawning o'er the injur'd earth,
664 Clear'd some rank weeds, and gave true knowledge birth.
665 O! may we ever sanctify her fane!
666 And ne'er her hallow'd paths with slaughter stain;
667 Love of mankind, not novelty, be ours;
668 For general good may man exert his powers! [Page 113]