Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

A tear; I am thine whatever intervenes!” “Right,” quoth Ben, “ that will do for the marines."

* “ That will do for the marines, but the sailors won't believe it,” is an old saying; and one of the few fragments of former jealousies which still survive (in jest only) between these gallant services.

END OY CANTO II.

THE ISLAND.

CANTO III.

I. The fight was o'er; the flashing through the gloom, Wbich robes the cannon as he wings a tomb, Had ceased; and sulphury vapours upward driven Had left the earth, and but polluted heaven: The rattling roar which rung in every volley Had left the echoes to their melancholy; No more they shrieked their horror, boom for boom; The strife was done, the vanquished had their doom; The mutineers were crushed, dispersed, or ta'en, Or lived to deem the happiest were the slain. Few, few escaped, and these were hunted o'er The isle they loved beyond their native shore. No further bome was their's, it seemed, on earth, Once renegades to that which gave them birth; Traced like wild beasts, like them they sought the wild, As to a mother's bosom flies the child; But vainly wolves and lions seek their den, And still more vaioly, men escape from men.

II,

Beneath a rock whose jutting base protrudes
Far over ocean in bis fiercest moods,
When scaling his enormous crag, the wave
Is hurled down headlong like the foremost brave,

And falls back on the foaming crowd bebind,
Which fight beneath the banners of the wind,
But now at rest, a little rempant drew
Together, bleeding, thirsty, faint and few;
But still their weapons in their hands, and still
With something of the pride of former will,
As men not all upused to meditate,
And strive much more than wonder at their fate.
Their present lot was what they had foreseen,
And dared as what was likely to have been;
Yet still the lingering bope, which deemed their lot
Not pardoned, but unsought for or forgot,
Or trusted that, if sought, their distant caves
Might still be missed amidst the world of waves,
Had weaped their thoughts in part from what they saw
And felt the vengeance of their country's law.
Their sea-green isle, their guilt-won paradise,
No more could shield their virtue or their vice:
Their better feelings, if such were, were thrown
Back on themselves, their sins remained alone.
Proscribed even in their second country, they
Were lost; in vain the world before them lay;
All outlets seemed secured. Their new allies
Had fought and bled in mutual sacrifice;
But what availed the club and spear and arm
Of Hercules, against the sulphury charm,
The magic of the thunder, wbich destroyed
The warrior ere bis strength could be employed?
Dug, like a spreading pestilence, the grave
No less of human bravery than the brave!*

* Archidamus, King of Sparta, and son of Agesilaus, when he saw a machine invented for the casting of stones and darts, exclaimed that it was the “Grave of Valour.” The same story has been told of some knights on the first application of gunpowder; but the original anecdote is in Pla tarch.

Their own scant numbers acted all the few
Against the many oft will dare and do;
But though the choice seems native to die free,
Even Greece can boast but one Thermopylæ,
Till now when she has forged her broken chain
Back to a sword, and dies and lives again!

III. Beside the jutting rock the few appeared, Like the last remnant of the red-deer's herd; Their eyes were feverish, and their aspect worn, But still the hunter's blood was on their born. A little stream came tumbling from the height, And straggling into ocean as it might, Its bounding chrystal frolicked in the ray, And gushed from cleft to crag with saltless spray; Close on the wild, wide ocean, yet as pure And fresh as innocence and more secure, Its silver torrent glittered o'er the deep, As the shy chamois' eye o'erlooks the steep, While far below the vast and sullen swell Of ocean's Alpine azure rose and fell. To this young spring they rushed, -all feelings first Absorbed in Passion's and in Nature's thirst, Dranks as they do who drink their last, and threw Their arms aside to revel in its dew; Cooled their scorched throats, and washed the gory stains From wounds whose only bandage might be chains; Then, when their drought was quenched looked sadly As wondering bow so many still were found (round, Alive and fetterless:--but silent all, Each sought his fellow's eyes as if to call On him for language, which his lips denied, As though their voices with their cause had died.

IV. Stero, and aloof a little from the rest, Stood Christian, with his arms across his chest. The ruddy, reckless, dauntless bue once spread Along his cheek was livid now as lead; His light brown locks so graceful in their flow Now rose like startled vipers o'er his brow. Still as a statue, with his lips comprest To stifle even the breath within his breast, Fast by the rock, all menacing but mute, He stood; and save a slight beat of his foot, Which deepened now and then the sandy dint Beneath his feel, his form seemed turned to flint. Some paces further Torquil leaned his head Against a bank, and spoke not, but he bled, Not mortally--his worst wound was within : His brow was pale, his blue eyes sunken in, And blood drops sprinkled o'er his yellow hair Showed that his faintness came not from despair, But pature's ebb. Beside him was another, Rough as a bear, but willing as a brother,Ben Bunting, who essayed to wash, and wipe, And bind his wound-theo calmly lit bis pipe, A trophy which survived an bundred fights, A beacon which had cheered ten thousand nights. The fourth and last of this deserted group Walked up and down at times would stand, then stoop To pick a pebble up-then let it dropThen burry as in haste-then quickly stop Then cast bis eyes on his companions--then Half whistle half a tune, and pause again And then bis former movements would redouble, With something between carelessness and trouble.

VOL. VI.H

« ForrigeFortsæt »