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While the same sunbeam shines
“Joy, joy forever! my task is done
To thee, sweet Eden! how dark and sad
And the fragrant bowers of AMBERABAD !
In my fairy wreath, so bright and brief;-
“And this,” said the Great Chamberlain, “is poetry! this flimsy manufacture of the brain, which, in comparison with the lofty and durable monuments of genius, is as the gold filigree-work of Zamara beside the eternal architecture of Egypt!” After this gorgeous sentence, which, with a few more of the same kind, FADLADEEN kept by him for rare and important occasions, he proceeded to the anatomy of the short poem just recited. The lax and easy kind of metre in which it was written ought to be denounced, he said, as one of the leading causes of the alarming growth of poetry in our times. If some check were not given to this lawless facility, we should soon be overrun by a race of bards as numerous and as shallow as the hundred and twenty thousand Streams of Basra.198 They who succeeded in this style deserved chastisement for their very success; riors have been punished, even after gaining a victory, because they had taken the liberty of gaining it in an irregular or unestablished manner. What, then, was to be said to those who failed ? to those who presumed, as in the present lamentable instance, to imitate the license and ease of the bolder sons of song, without any of that grace or vigor which gave a dignity even to negligence;
– who, like them, flung the jereed 199 carelessly, but not, like them, to the mark; — "and who," said he, raising his voice, to excite a proper degree of wakefulness in his hearers, “contrive to appear heavy and constrained in the midst of all the latitude they allow themselves, like one of those young pagans that dance before the Princess, who is ingenious enough to move as if her limbs were fettered, in a pair of the lightest and loosest drawers of Masulipatam !”
It was but little suitable, he continued, to the grave march of criticism to follow this fantastical Peri, of whom they had just heard, through all her flights and adventures between earth and heaven; but he could not help adverting to the puerile conceitedness of the Three Gifts which she is supposed to carry to the skies, -a drop of blood, forsooth, a sigh, and a tear! How the first of these articles was delivered into the Angel's “radiant hand” he professed himself at a loss to discover; and as to the safe carriage of the sigh and the tear, such Peris and such poets were beings by far too incomprehensible for him even to guess how they managed such matters. “But, in short,” said he, “it is a waste of time and patience to dwell longer upon a thing so incurably frivolous, puny even among its own puny race, and such as only the Banyan Hospital 200 for Sick Insects should undertake.”
In vain did LALLA Rookh try to soften this inexorable critic; in vain did she resort to her most eloquent common-places, -- reminding him that poets were a timid and sensitive race, whose sweetness was not to be drawn forth, like that of the fragrant grass near the Ganges, by crushing and trampling upon them; 201 — that severity often extinguished every chance of the perfection which it demanded ; and that, after all, perfection was like the Mountain of the Talisman, one had ever yet reached its summit.202 Neither these gentle axioms, nor the still gentler looks with which they were inculcated, could lower for one instant the elevation of FADLADEEN'S eyebrows, or charm him into anything like encouragement, or even toleration of her poet. Toleration, indeed, was not among the weaknesses of FADLADEEN :- he carried the same spirit into matters of poetry and of religion, and, though little versed in the beauties or sub
limities of either, was a perfect master of the art of persecution in both. His zeal was the same, too, in either pursuit; whether the game before him was pagans or poetasters, — worshippers of cows, or writers of epics.
They had now arrived at the splendid city of Lahore, whose mausoleums and shrines, magnificent and numberless, where Death appeared to share equal honors with Heaven, would have powerfully affected the heart and imagination of LALLA Rookh, if feelings inore of this earth had not taken entire possession of her already. She was here met by messengers, despatched from Cashmere, who informed her that the King had arrived in the Valley, and was himself superintending the sumptuous preparations that were then making in the Saloons of the Shalimar for her reception. The chill she felt on receiving this intelligence, - which to a bride whose heart was free and light would have brought only images of affection and pleasure, - convinced her that her peace was gone forever, and that she was in love, irretrievably in lo with
FERAMORZ. The veil had fallen off in which this passion at first disguises itself, and to know that she loved was now as painful as to love without knowing it had been delicious. FERAMORZ, too, - what misery would be his, if the sweet hours of intercourse so imprudently allowed them should have stolen into his heart the same fatal fascination as into hers; — if, notwithstanding her rank, and the modest homage he always paid to it, even he should have yielded to the influence of those long and happy interviews, where music, poetry, the delightful scenes of nature, - all had tended to bring their hearts close together, and to waken by every means that too ready passion, which often, like the young of the desert-bird, is warmed into life by the eyes alone ! 203 She saw but one way to preserve herself from being culpable as well as unhappy, and this, however painful, she was resolved to adopt. FERAMORZ must no more be admitted to her presence. To have strayed so far into the dangerous labyrinth was wrong, but to linger in it, while the clew was yet in her hand, would be criminal. Though the heart she had to offer to the King of Bucharia might be cold and broken, it should at least be pure; and she must only endeavor to forget the short dream of happiness she had enjoyed, like that Arabian shepherd, who, in wandering into the wilderness, caught a glimpse of the Gardens of Irem, and then lost them again forever ! 204
The arrival of the young Bride at Lahore was celebrated in the most enthusiastic manner. The Rajas and Om ras in her train, who had kept at a certain distance during the journey, and never encamped nearer to the Princess than was strictly necessary for her safeguard, here rode in splendid cavalcade through the city, and distributed the most costly presents to the crowd. Engines were erected in all the squares, which cast forth showers of confectionery among the people; while the artisans, in chariots 205 adorned with tinsel and flying streamers, exhibited the badges of their respective trades through the streets. Such brilliant displays of life and pageantry among the palaces, and domes, and gilded minarets of Lahore, made the city altogether like a place of enchantinent; - particularly on the day when LALLA Rookh set out again upon her journey, when she was accompanied to the gate by all the fairest and richest of the nobility, and rode along between ranks of beautiful boys and girls, who kept waving over their heads plates of gold and silver flowers,206 and then threw them around to be gathered by the populace.