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And, happier now for all her sighs,
As on his arm her head reposes, She whispers him with laughing eyes,
“Remember, love, the Feast of Roses !"
FADLADEEN, at the conclusion of this light rhapsody, took occasion to sum up his opinion of the young Cashmerian's poetry, -of which, he trusted, they had that evening heard the last. Having recapitulated the epithets “frivolous ”— “inharmonious ”—“nonsensical,” he proceeded to say that, viewing it in the most favourable light, it resembled one of those Maldivian boats to which the Princess had alluded in the relation of her dream,378—a slight, gilded thing, sent adrift without rudder or ballast, and with nothing but vapid sweets and faded flowers on board. The profusion, indeed, of flowers and birds which this poet had ready on all occasions,—not to mention dews, gems, &c.—was a most oppressive kind of opulence to his hearers; and had the unlucky effect of giving to his style all the glitter of the flower-garden without its method, and all the flutter of the aviary without its song. In addition to this, he chose his subjects badly, and was always most inspired by the worst parts of them. The charms of paganism, the merits of rebellion,--these were the themes honoured with his particular enthusiasm ; and, in the poem just recited, one of his most palatable passages was in praise of that beverage of the Unfaithful, wine ;—"being, perhaps," said he, relaxing into a smile, as conscious of his own character in the Haram on this point,
one of those bards whose fancy owes all its illumination to the grape, like that painted porcelain,379 so curious and so rare, whose images are only visible when liquor is poured into it.” Upon the whole, it was his opinion, from the specimens which they had heard, and which, he begged to say, were the most tiresome part of the journey, that-whatever other merits this well-dressed young gentleman might possess-poetry was by no means his proper avocation : “and indeed,” continued the critic, "from his fondness for flowers and for birds, I would venture to suggest that a florist or a bird-catcher is a much more suitable calling for him than a poet."
They had now begun to ascend those barren mountains which separate Cashmere from the rest of India ; and as the heats were intolerable, and the time of their encampments limited to the few hours necessary for refreshment and repose, there was an end to all their delightful evenings, and LALLA Rookh saw no more of FERAMORZ. She now felt that her short dream of happiness was over, and that she had nothing but the recollection of its few blissful hours, like the one draught of sweet water that serves the camel across the wilderness, to be her heart's refreshment during the dreary waste of life that was before her. The blight that had fallen upon her spirits soon found its way to her cheek, and her ladies saw with regret-though not without some suspicion of the cause—that the beauty of their mistress, of which they were almost as proud as of their own, was fast vanishing away at the very moment of all when she had most need of it. What must the King of Bucharia feel, when, instead
of the lively and beautiful Lalla Rookh, whom the poets of Delhi had described as more perfect than the divinest images in the house of Azor, 380 he should receive a pale and inanimate victim, upon whose cheek neither health nor pleasure bloomed, and from whose eyes Love had fled,—to hide himself in her heart?
If anything could have charmed away the melancholy of her spirits, it would have been the fresh airs and enchanting scenery of that Valley which the Persians so justly called the Unequalled. 38. But neither the coolness of its atmosphere, , so luxurious after toiling up those bare and burning mountains,-neither the splendour of the minarets and pagodas that shone out from the depth of its woods, nor the grottoes, hermitages, and miraculous fountains 382 which make every spot of that region holy ground, --neither the countless waterfalls, that rush into the Valley from all those high and romantic mountains that encircle it, nor the fair city on the Lake, whose houses, roofed with flowers, 383 appeared at a distance like one vast and variegated parterre ;—not all these wonders and glories of the most lovely country under the sun could steal her heart for a minute from those sad thoughts, which but darkened and grew bitterer every step she advanced.
The gay pomps and processions that met her upon her entrance into the Valley, and the magnificence with which the roads all along were decorated, did honour to the taste and gallantry of the young King. It was night when they approached the city, and, for the last two miles, they had passed under arches, thrown from hedge to hedge, festooned with only those rarest roses from which the Attar Gul, more precious than gold, is distilled, and illuminated in rich and fanciful forms with lanterns of the triple-coloured tortoiseshell of Pegu.384 Sometimes, from a dark wood by the side of the road, a display of fireworks would break out, so sudden and so brilliant, that a Brahmin might fancy he beheld that grove in whose purple shade the God of Battles was born, bursting into a flame at the moment of his birth ;-while, at other times, a quick and playful irradiation continued to brighten all the fields and gardens by which they passed, forming a line of dancing lights along the horizon ; like the meteors of the north, as they are seen by those hunters 385 who pursue the white and blue foxes on the confines of the Icy Sea.
These arches and fireworks delighted the Ladies of the Princess exceedingly; and with their usual good logic, they deduced from his taste for illuminations, that the King of Bucharia would make the most exemplary husband imaginable. Nor, indeed, could Lalla Rookh herself help feeling the kindness and splendour with which the young bridegroom welcomed her; but she also felt how painful is the gratitude which kindness from those we cannot love excites; and that their best blandishments come over the heart with all that chilling and deadly sweetness which we can fancy in the cold, odoriferous wind 386 that is to blow over this earth in the last days.
The marriage was fixed for the morning after her arrival, when she was, for the first time, to be presented to the monarch in that Imperial Palace beyond the lake called the Shalimar. Though never before had a night of more wakeful and anxious thought been passed in the Happy Valley, yet, when she rose in the morning, and her Ladies came around her, to assist in the adjustment of the bridal ornaments, they thought they had never seen her look half so beautiful. What she had lost of the bloom and radiancy of