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wrote them a letter to that effect, and received the following answer: "We shall be most happy in the pleasure of seeing you in February. We agree with you, indeed, that the times are most inauspicious for 'poetry and thousands;' but we believe that your poetry would do more than that of any other living poet at the present moment.” *

The length of time I employed in writing the few stories strung together in Lalla Rookh will appear, to some persons, much more than was necessary for the production of such easy and "light o' love" fictions. But, besides that I have been, at all times, a far more slow and painstaking workman than would ever be guessed, I fear, from the result, I felt that, in this instance, I had taken upon myself a more than ordinary responsibility, from the immense stake risked by others on my chance of success. For a long

time, therefore, after the agreement had been

* November 9. 1816.

concluded, though generally at work with a view to this task, I made but very little real progress in it; and I have still by me the beginnings of several stories, continued, some of them, to the length of three or four hundred lines, which, after in vain endeavouring to mould them into shape, I threw aside, like the tale of Cambuscan, "left half-told." One of these stories, entitled The Peri's Daughter, was meant to relate the loves of a nymph of this aërial extraction with a youth of mortal race, the rightful Prince of Ormuz, who had been, from his infancy, brought up, in seclusion, on the banks of the river Amou, by an aged guardian named Mohassan. The story opens with the first meeting of these destined lovers, then in their childhood; the Peri having wafted her daughter to this holy retreat, in a bright, enchanted boat, whose first appearance is thus described:

For, down the silvery tide afar,

There came a boat, as swift and bright

As shines, in heav'n, some pilgrim-star,
That leaves its own high home, at night,
To shoot to distant shrines of light.

"It comes, it comes," young Orian cries,
And panting to Mohassan flies.
Then, down upon the flowery grass
Reclines to see the vision pass;
With partly joy and partly fear,
To find its wondrous light so near,
And hiding oft his dazzled eyes
Among the flowers on which he lies.


Within the boat a baby slept,

Like a young pearl within its shell;
While one, who seem'd of riper years,
But not of earth, or earth-like spheres,
Her watch beside the slumberer kept;
Gracefully waving, in her hand,

The feathers of some holy bird,

With which, from time to time, she stirr'd

The fragrant air, and coolly fann'd

The baby's brow, or brush'd away

The butterflies that, bright and blue

As on the mountains of Malay,

Around the sleeping infant flew.

And now the fairy boat hath stopp'd

Beside the bank,—the nymph has dropp'd

Her golden anchor in the stream;

A song is sung by the Peri in approaching,

of which the following forms a part:

My child she is but half divine,

Her father sleeps in the Caspian water;
Sea-weeds twine

His funeral shrine,

But he lives again in the Peri's daughter.
Fain would I fly from mortal sight

To my own sweet bowers of Peristan ;
But, there, the flowers are all too bright
For the eyes of a baby born of man.

On flowers of earth her feet must tread;

So hither my light-wing'd bark hath brought her;

Stranger, spread

Thy leafiest bed,

To rest the wandering Peri's daughter.

In another of these inchoate fragments, a proud female saint, named Banou, plays a principal part; and her progress through the streets of Cufa, on the night of a great illuminated festival, I find thus described:

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It was a scene of mirth that drew
A smile from ev'n the Saint Banou,
As, through the hush'd, admiring throng,
She went with stately steps along,
And counted o'er, that all might see,
The rubies of her rosary.

But none might see the worldly smile

That lurk'd beneath her veil, the while:


Alla forbid for, who would wait

Her blessing at the temple's gate,

What holy man would ever run
To kiss the ground she knelt upon,
If once, by luckless chance, he knew
She look'd and smil'd as others do.

Her hands were join'd, and from each wrist
By threads of pearl and golden twist
Hung relics of the saints of yore,

And scraps of talismanic lore,

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Charms for the old, the sick, the frail,
Some made for use, and all for sale.
On either side, the crowd withdrew,
To let the Saint pass proudly through;
While turban'd heads, of every hue,
Green, white, and crimson, bow'd around,
And gay tiaras touch'd the ground, —
As tulip-bells, when o'er their beds
The musk-wind passes, bend their heads.
Nay, some there were, among the crowd
Of Moslem heads that round her bow'd,
So fill'd with zeal, by many a draught
Of Shiraz wine profanely quaff'd,
That, sinking low in reverence then,
They never rose till morn again.

There are yet two more of these unfinished sketches, one of which extends to a much greater length than I was aware of; and, as far as I can judge from a hasty renewal of my acquaintance with it, is not incapable of being yet turned to account.

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