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Gleams through the ridges of a purple cloud:
At length, when midnight holds her silent reign,
Chang'd to a silver white, she holds her lamp
O'er the belated traveller; so thy face, lo.
Belshazzar, from the crimson glow of rage, '.
Shifting through all the various hues between, .
Settles into a wan and bloodless pale. 'n weet
Thine eye-balls glare with fire. “Now by great Bel,"
Incens'd, exclaims the monarch, " soon as morn
Again shall dawn, my vengeance shall be pour'd
On every head of their detested race."..
He spake, and left the fane with hasty step, .
Indignant. : Him a thousand lords attend, ".
The minions of his court. And now they reach.
The stately palace. In a spacious hall, -10
From whose high roof seven sparkling lustres hang,
Round the perpetual board high sophas rang'd
Receive the gallant chiefs. The floor is spread
With carpets, work'd in Babylonia's looms,
Exquisite art; rich vessels carv?d in gold, ..
In silver, and in ivory, beam with gems is my
'Midst these is plac'd whate'er of massy plate,
Or holy ornament, Nebassar brought . -
From Sion's ransack?d temple; lamps, and cups,
And bowls, now sparkling with the richest growth
Of Eastern vineyards. On the table smokes
All that can rouse the languid appetite, ::
Barbaric luxury. Sqft minstrels round"....
Chant songs of triumph to symphonious harps.
Propt on a golden couch Belshazzar lies, na
While on each side fair slaves of Syrian race
By turns solicit with some amorous tale
The monarch's melting heart. “Fill me," he cries,
“ That largest bowl, with which the Jewish slaves
Once deck'd the altar of their vanquish'd God.
Never again shall this capacious gold
Receive their victim's blood : Henceforth the kings
Of Babylon, oft as this feast returns,
Shall crown it with rich wine, nectareous draught.
Fill high the foaming goblet; rise, my friends ;
And as I quaff the cup, with loud acclaim
Thrice hail to Bel.” They rose; when all at once
Such sound was heard, as when the roaring winds
Burst from their cave, and with impetuous rage
Sweep o'er the Caspian, or the Chronian deep.
O'er the devoted walls the gate of heaven
Thunder'd, an hideous peal; and lo! a cloud
Came darkening all the banquet, whence appear'd
A hand, (if hand it were, or airy form,
Compound of light and shade,) on the adverse wall :
Tracing strange characters. Belshazzar saw,
And trembled: from his lips the goblet fell:
He look'd again ; perhaps it was a dream;
Thrice, four times did he look; and every time
Still plainer did the mystic lines appear,
Indelible. Forthwith he summons all
The wise Chaldæans, who by night consult
The starry signs, and in each planet read.
The dark decrees of fate. Silent they stand;
Vain are their boasted charms. With eager step
Merodach's royal widow hastes to cheer
Her trembling son. “O king, for ever live;
Why droops thy soul?" she cries, “ what though
Of sage magicians own their vanquish'd art,
Know'st thou not Daniel? In his heart resides
The spirit of holy Gods; 'twas he who told
Thy father strange events, and terrible;
Nor did Nebassar honour one like him
Through all his spacious kingdom. He shall soon
Dispel thy doubts, and all thy fears allay.”
She spake, and with obeisance low retir'd.
“ Then be it so; haste, Arioch, lead him here,” Belshazzar cries; “ if he interpret right, Even though my soul in just abhorrence holds His hated race, I will revoke their doom, And shower rich honours on their prophet's head.”
Nor long he waited, when with graceful step, And awe-commanding eye, solemn and slow, As conscious of superior dignity, Daniel advanc'd. Time o'er his hoary hair Had shed his whitest snows. Behind him stream'd A mantle, ensign of prophetic powers, Like that, with which inspir’d Elisha smote The parting waters, what time on the bank Of Jordan from the clouds a fiery car . Descended, and by flaming coursers drawn Bore the sage Tishbite to celestial climes, Maugre the gates of death. A wand he bore, That wand, by whose mysterious properties VOL. VI.
The shepherd of Horeb call’d the refluent waves O'er Pharaoh, and his host, with which he struck The barren flint, when from the riven cliff Gush'd streams, and water'd all the thirsty tribes Of murmuring Israel. Through many an age Within the temple's unapproached veil, Fast by the rod, which bloom'd o’er Aaron's name, Still did the holy relic rest secure. At length, when Babylonia's arms prevaild, Seraiah sav'd it from the flaming shrine, With all the sacred wardrobe of the priest, And bore it safe to Riblah. Dying there, The priest bequeath'd the sacred legacy To Daniel. He, when summon’d to explain As now, God's dark decrees, in his right hand Brandish'd the mystic emblem. “ Art thou he, Art thou that Daniel, whom Nebassar brought From Salem, whom the vanquish'd tribes adore, In wisdom excellent? Look there, look there; Read but those lines,” the affrighted monarch cries, “ And cloth’d in scarlet wear this golden chain, The third great ruler of my spacious realm.”
He spake, and thus the reverend seer replied. “ Thy promises, and threats, presumptuous king, My soul alike despises; yet, so wills That spirit, who darts his radiance on my mind, (Hear thou, and tremble,) will I speak the words Which he shall dictate. Number'd is thy realm, • And finish’d: in the balance art thou weigh’d, • Where God hath found thee wanting: to the Medes
• And Persians thy divided realm is given.
Thus saith the Lord; and thus those words import
Graven by his high behest. See'st thou this wand?
Ne'er has it born, since first it left the trunk,
Or bud, or blossom: all its shielding rind
The sharp steel stripp'd, and to dry winds expos'd
The vegetative sap; even so thy race
Shall perish: from thy barren stock shall rise
Nor prince, nor ruler; and that glittering crown,
Won by thy valiant fathers, whose long line
In thee, degenerate monarch, soon must end,
Shall dart its lustre round a stranger's brow."
« Prophet of evils ! dar’st thou pour on me
Thy threats ill-ominous, and judgments dark !"
Incens'd the monarch cries : “Hence to thy tribes ;
Teach them obedience to their sovereign's will,
Or I will break that wand, and rend in twain
The mantle of thy God. Or if these marks
Thou wilt erase from that accursed wall,
Take half my realm.” He spake, and fix'd his eyes
Wild staring on the mystic characters :
His rage all sunk at once; his fear retúrn'd
Tenfold; when thus the man of God began.
“ Go to the shady vales of Palæstine,
Vain prince, or Syrian Lebanon, and tear
The palms and cedars from their native mould
Uprooted; then return, and break this rod.
Believe me, far more arduous were the task:
For it was harden'd in the streams of heaven;
And though not dedicate to sorcerer's arts