Слике страница
[ocr errors]

But for the passing current's flow,

A gentler mien ; relations, friends,
And cleft waves, brawling round the prow, Glare on him now like angry fiends ;
They might have thought some magic spell And, as he moves, ah, wretched cheer!
Had bound them, weary fate! for ever there to Their mutter'd curses reach his ear:

But all undaunted, firm and sage,

He scorns their threats, yet thus he soothes their

rage : What did this trackless waste supply

“ I brought you from your native shore To soothe the mind or please the eye?

An unknown ocean to explore. The rising morn through dim mist breaking,

I brought you, partners, by my side, The ficker'd east with purple streaking ;

Want, toil, and danger, to abide. The midday cloud through thin air flying,

Yet weary stillness hath so soon subdued With deeper blue the blue sea dying ;

The buoyant soul, the heart of pride, Long ridgy waves their white mains rearing,

Men who in battle's brunt full oft have firmly stood. And in the broad gleam disappearing ;

That to some nearing coast we bear,
The broaden'd, blazing sun declining,
And western waves like fire flood shining;

How many cheering signs declare!

Wayfaring birds the blue air ranging, The sky's vast dome to darkness given,

Their shadowy line to blue air changing,
And all the glorious host of heaven.

Pass o'er our heads in frequent flocks ;

While seaweed from the parent rocks

With fibry roots, but newly torn Full oft upon the deck, while other's slept,

In tressy lengthen'd wreaths are on the clear wave To mark the bearing of each well-known star

borne. That shone aloft, or on th’horizon far,

Nay, has not e'en the drifting current brought The anxious Chief his lonely vigil kept ;

Things of rude art,—of human cunning wrought?
The mournful wind, the hoarse wave breaking near, Be yet two days your patience tried,
The breathing groans of sleep, the plunging lead, And if no shore is then descried,
The steersman's call, and his own stilly tread, E’en turn your dastard prows again,
Are all the sounds of night that reach his ear.

And cast your leader to the main."
His darker form stalk'd through the sable gloom
With gestures discomposed and features keen,

That might not in the face of day be seen,

And thus a while with steady hand Like some unblessed spirit from the tomb.

He kept in check a wayward band,
Night after night, and day succeeding day, Who but with half-express'd disdain
So pass’d their dull, unvaried time away ;

Their rebel spirit could restrain.
Till hope, the seaman's worshipp'd queen, had flown The veteran, rough as war-worn steel,
From every valiant heart but his alone;

Oft spurn'd the deck with grating heel;
Where still, by day, enthroned, she held her state The seaman, bending o'er the flood,
With sunny look and brow elate.

With stony gaze all listless stood ;

The sturdy bandit, wildly rude,

Sung, as he strode, some garbled strain,
But soon his dauntless soul, which naught could Expressive of each fitful mood,

Timed by his sabre's jangling chain Nor hope delay'd, nor adverse fate subdue,

The proud Castilian, boasted name!
With more redoubled danger must contend

Child of an ancient race
Than storm or wave-a fierce and angry crew. Which proudly prized its spotless same,
“ Dearly,” say they, “ may we those visions rue And deem's all fear disgrace,
Which lured us from our native land,

Felt quench'd within him honour's generous flame, A wretched, lost, devoted band,

And in his gather'd mantle wrapp'd his face.
Led on by hope's delusive gleam,

The victims of a madman's dream!
Nor gold shall e'er be ours, nor fame;

So pass'd the day, the night, the second day
Not e'en the remnant of a name,

With its red setting sun's extinguish'd ray. On some rude-letter'd stone to tell

Dark, solemn midnight coped the ocean wide, On what strange coast our wreck befell.

When from his watchful stand Columbus cried, For us no requiem shall be sung,

“A light, a light !”—blest sounds that rung Nor prayer be said, nor passing knell

In every ear.–At once they sprung In holy church be rung.”

With haste aloft, and, peering bright,

Descried afar the blessed sight.

“ It moves, it slowly moves like ray
To thoughts like these, all forms give way Of torch that guides some wanderer's way!
Of duty to a leader's sway;

And other lights more distant, seeming All habits of respect that bind

As if from town or hamlet streaming! With easy tie the human mind.

'Tis land, 'tis peopled land; man dwelleth there, E’en love and admiration throw

And thou, O God of heaven! hast heard thy serTheir nobler bands aside, nor show

vant's prayer!”

Some on the beach for shell-fish stooping,

Or on the smooth sand gayly trooping ;
Returning day gave to their view

Or in link'd circles featly dancing The distant shore and headlands blue

With golden braid and bracelet glancing. Of long-sought land. Then rose on air

By shelter'd door were infants creeping, Loud shouts of joy, mix'd wildly strange

Or on the shaded herbage sleeping ; With voice of weeping and of prayer,

Gay feather'd birds the air were winging, Expressive of their blessed change

And parrots on their high perch swinging,
From death to Kife, from fierce to kind,

While humming-birds, like sparks of light,
From all that sinks, to all that elevates the mind. Twinkled and vanish'd from the sight.
Those who, by faithless fear insnared,
Had their brave chief so rudely dared,

Now, with keen self-upbraiding stung,

They eyed the wondrous strangers o'er and o'er,With every manly feeling wrung,

Those beings of the ocean and the air, Repentant tears, looks that entreat,

With humble, timid reverence; all their store Are kneeling at his worshipp'd feet.

Of gather'd wealth inviting them to share ; “O pardon blinded, stubborn guilt!

To share whate'er their lowly cabins hold ; O henceforth make us what thou wilt!

Their feather'd crowns, their fruits, their arms, Our hands, our hearts, our lives, are thine,

their gold. Thou wondrous man ! led on by power divine !”

Their gold, that fatal gift !-O foul disgrace!

Repaid with cruel wreck of all their harmless race. XIV. Ah! would some magic could arrest

XVIII. The generous feelings of the breast,

There some short, pleasing days with them he Which thwart the common baser mass

dwelt, Of sordid thoughts, so fleetly pass,

And all their simple kindness dearly felt. A sun glimpse through the storm!

But they of other countries told, The rent cloud closes, tempests swell,

Not distant, where the sun declines, And its late path we cannot tell ;

Where reign Caziques o’er warriors bold, Lost is its trace and form.

Rich with the gold of countless mines. No; not on earth such fugitives are bound ;

And he to other islands sail'd,
In some veil'd future state will the bless'd charm and was by other natives hail'd.
be found.

Then on Hispaniola's shore,

Where bays and harbours to explore

Much time he spent; a simple tower Columbus led them to the shore,

Of wood he built, the seat to be, Which ship had never touch'd before ;

And shelter of Spain's infant power ; And there he knelt upon the strand

Hoping the nurseling fair to see, To thank the God of sea and land;

Amidst those harmless people shoot And there, with mien and look elate,

Its stately stem from slender root. Gave welcome to each toil-worn mate.

There nine and thirty chosen men he placed, And lured with courteous signs of cheer,

Gave parting words of counsel and of cheer; The dusky natives gathering near ;

One after one his nobler friends embraced, Who on them gazed with wandering eyes, And to the Indian chieftain, standing near, As mission'd spirits from the skies.

“ Befriend my friends, and give them aid, And there did he possession claim,

When I am gone,” he kindly said, In Isabella's royal name.

Blest them, and left them there his homeward

course to steer.

It was a land, unmarr'd by art,
To please the eye and cheer the heart :

His prayer to Heaven for them preferr'd
The natives' simple huts were seen

Was not, alas ! with favour heard. Peeping their palmy groves between,

Oft, as his ship the land forsook, Groves, where each dome of sweepy leaves

He landward turn'd his farewell look, In air of morning gently heaves,

And cheer'd his Spaniards cross the wave, And, as the deep vans fall and rise,

Who distant answer faintly gave; Changes its richly verdant dyes;

Distant but cheerful. On the strand A land whose simple sons till now

He saw their clothed figures stand Had scarcely seen a careful brow;

With naked forms link'd hand in hand They spent at will each passing day

Saw thus caress'd, assured, and bold, In lightsome toil or active play.

Those he should never more behold. Some their light canoes were guiding,

Some simple Indians, gently won, Along the shore's sweet margin gliding.

To visit land, where sets the sun Some in the sunny sea were swimming,

In clouds of amber, and behold, The bright waves o'er their dark forms gleaming ; | The wonders oft by Spaniards told;

Stood silent by themselves apart,

How, pressing close, they stood ; With nature's yearnings at their heart,

Look'd on Columbus with amaze, And saw the coast of fading blue

“ Is he,” so spake their wondering gaze, Wear soft and sadly from their view.

“A man of flesh and blood ?But soon by their new comrades cheer'd,

While cannon far along the shore As o'er the waves the ship careerd,

His welcome gave with deafening roar. Their wandering eyes aloft were cast

On white swoln sails and stately mast,

And then with measured steps, sedate and
And checkering shrouds, depicted fair,
On azure sea and azure air ;

They to the Christian's sacred temple go.
And felt, as feels the truant boy,

Soon as the chief within the house of God

Upon the hallow'd pavement trod,
Who, having climb'd some crumbling mound
Or ruin'd tower, looks wildly round

He bowed with holy fear :

« The God of wisdom, mercy, might, A thrilling, fearful joy.

Creator of the day and night,

This sea-girt globe, and every star of light,
Then with his two small barks again

Is worshipp'd here.” The dauntless chief traversed the main;

Then on the altar's steps he knelt,

And what his inward spirit felt,
But not with fair and favouring gales

Was said unheard within that cell
That erst had fill'd his western sails :
Fierce winds with adverse winds contended;

Where saintly thoughts and feelings dwell ;

But as the choral chanters raise
Rose the dark deep,—dark heaven descended ;
And threatend, in the furious strife,

Through dome and aisle the hymn of praise
The ships to sink with all their freight of precious

To heaven his glistening eyes were turn'd,

With sacred love his bosom burn'd.

On all the motley crowd

The generous impulse seized ; high dons of pride In this dread case, well may be guess'd

Wept like the meekest beedsman by their side, What dismal thoughts his soul depressid:

And women sobb'd aloud. “ And must I in th' o'erwhelming deep, Our bold achievement all unknown,

With these my brave adventurers sleep,

Nor statesmen met in high debate
What we have done to dark oblivion thrown? Deciding on a country's fate,
Sink, body! to thy watery grave,

Nor saintly chiefs with fearless zeal
If so God will; but let me save

Contending for their churches' weal, This noble fruitage of my mind,

Nor warriors, midst the battle's roar, And leave my pame and deeds behind !"

Who fiercely guard their native shore ;

No power by earthly coil possest

To agitate the human breast,
Upon a scroll, with hasty pen,

Shows, from its native source diverted, His wondrous tale he traced,

Man's nature noble, though perverted, View'd it with tearful eyes, and then

So strongly as the transient power Within a casket placed.

Of link'd devotion's sympathetic hour. “ Perhaps," said he,“ by vessel bound

It clothes with soft unwonted grace On western cruise, thou wilt be found;

The traits of many a rugged face, Or make, sped by the current swift,

As bend the knees unused to kneel, To Christian shore they happy drift.

And glow the hearts unused to feel ; Thy story may by friendly eyes be read;

While every soul, with holy passion moved, O’er our untimely fate warm tears be shed;

Claims one Almighty Sire, fear'd, and adored, and Our deeds rehearsed by many an eager tongue,

loved. And requiems for our parted souls be sung.”

This casket to the sea he gave ;
Quick sunk and rose the freightage light, -

With western treasures, borne in fair display, Appear'd on many a booming wave,

To Barcelona's walls, in grand array, Then floated far away from his still gazing sight.

Columbus slowly held his inland way. Yet, after many a peril braved,

And still where'er he pass'd along, Of many an adverse wind the sport,

In eager crowds the people throng. He, by his great Preserver saved,

The wildest way o'er desert drear Anchor'd again in Palos' port.

Did like a city's mart appear.

The shepherd swain forsook his sheep;

The goatherd from his craggy steep 0, who can tell the acclamation loud

Shot like an arrow to the plain ; That, bursting, rose from the assembled crowd Mechanics, housewives, left amain To hail the hero and his gallant train,

Their broken tasks, and press'd beside
From such adventure bold return'd again

The truant youth they meant to chide :
The warm embrace, the oft-repeated cheer, The dull hidalgo left his tower,
And many a wistful smile and many a tear : The donna fair her latticed bower ;

Together press’d, fair and uncouth,

Proud was the don of high degree, All motley forms of age and youth.

Whose honour'd guest he deign'd to be. And, still along the dark-ranged pile

Whate'er his purposed service wanted, Of clustering life, was heard the while

With ready courtesy was granted: Mix'd brawling joy, and shouts that rung

No envious foe durst cross his will. From many a loud and deafening tongue.

While eager shipwrights ply their skill, Ah! little thought the gazing throng,

To busy dockyard, quay, or port, As pass'd that pageant show along,

Priests, lords, and citizens resort: How Spain should rue, in future times,

Their wains the heavy planks are bringing, With desert plains and fields untill’d,

And hammers on the anvil ringing ; And towns with listless loiterers fill'd,

The far-toss'd boards on boards are falling, The withering spoil received from foreign climes ! And brawny mate to work-mate calling: Columbus gave thee, thankless Spain !

The cable strong on windlass winding; A new-found world o'er which to reign ;

On wheel of stone the edge tool grinding ; But could not with the gift impart

Red fire beneath the caldron gleaming, A portion of his liberal heart

And pitchy fumes from caldron steaming. And manly mind, to bid thee soar

To sea and land's men too, I ween, Above a robber's lust of ore,

It was a gay, attractive scene; Which hath a curse entail'd on all thy countless Beheld, enjoyed, day after day, store.

Till all his ships, in fair array,

Were bounden for their course at last,

And amply stored and bravely mann'd,
To Barcelona come, with honours meet

Bore far from blue, receding land.
Such glorious deeds to grace, his sovereigns greet Thus soon again, th’ Atlantic yast
Their mariner's return. Or hall,

With gallant fleet he past.
Or room of state was deem'd too small
For such reception. Pageant rare !

Beneath heaven's dome, in open square,

By peaceful natives hail'd with kindly smiles, Their gorgeous thrones were placed ;

He shortly touch'd at various pleasant isles ; And near them on an humbler seat,

And when at length her well-known shore appear'd, While on each hand the titled great,

And he to fair Hispaniola near’d, Standing in dizend rows, were seen,

Upon the deck, with eager eyes Priests, guards, and crowds, a living screen, - Some friendly signal to descry, Columbus sat, with noble mien,

He stood; then fired his signal shot, With princely honours graced.

But answering fire received not. There to the royal pair his tale he told:

“ What may this dismal silence mean? A wondrous tale, that did not want

No floating flag in air is seen, Or studied words or braggart's vaunt;

Nor e'en the Tower itself, though well When at their royal feet were laid

Its lofty site those landmarks tell. Gems, pearls, and plumes of many a shade, Ha! have they so regardless proved And stores of virgin gold,

Of my command ?-their station moved !” Whilst, in their feathered guise arrayed,

As closer to the shore they drew, The Indians low obeisance paid.

To hail them came no light canoe ; And at that wondrous story's close

The beach was silent and forsaken: The royal pair with reverence rose,

Nor clothed nor naked forms appear'd, And kneeling on the ground, aloud

Nor sound of human voice was heard ; Gave thanks to Heaven. Then all the crowd, Naught but the sea birds from the rock, Joining, from impulse of the heart,

With busy stir that fluttering broke; The banded priest's ecstatic art,

Sad signs,which in his mind portentous fears awaken. With mingled voice Te Deum sang ;

XXXI. With the grand choral burst, walls, towers, and

Then eagerly on shore he went,

His scouts abroad for tidings sent;

But to his own loud echo'd cry
This was his brightest hour, too bright

An Indian came with fearful eye,
For human weal;-a glaring light,

Who guess'd his questions' hurried sound,
Like sunbeam through the rent cloud pouring And pointed to a little mound,
On the broad lake, when storms are roaring;

Not distant far. With eager haste
Bright centre of a wild and sombre scene;

The loosend mould aside was cast.
More keenly bright than summer's settled sheen. Bodies, alas ! within that grave were found,

Which had not long been laid to rest,

Though so by changeful death defaced,
With kingly favour brighten'd, all

Nor form nor visage could be traced.His favour court, obey his call.

In Spanish garments dress'd. At princely boards, above the rest,

Back from each living Spaniard's cheek the blood He took his place, admired, caress'd :

Ran chill, as round their noble chief they stood,

welkin rang.

Who sternly spoke to check the rising tear.
“ Eight of my valiant men are buried here;
Where are the rest ?” the timid Indian shook
In every limb, and slow and faintly spoke.
“ Some are dead, some sick, some flown;
The rest are up the country gone,
Far, far away." A heavy groan
Utters the chief; his blanch'd lips quiver ;
He knows that they are gone for ever.


But here 'twere tedious and unmeet
A dismal story to repeat,
Which was from mild Cazique received,
Their former friend, and half believed.
Him, in his cabin far apart,
Wounded they found, by Carib dart;
Received, said he, from savage foe
Spaniards defending. Then with accents low
He spoke, and ruefully began to tell,
What to those hapless mariners befell.
How that from lust of pleasure and of gold,
And mutual strife and war on Caribs made,
Their strength divided was, and burnt their hold,
And their unhappy heads beneath the still earth

Yet, spite of adverse fate, he in those climes
Spain's infant power establish'd; after-times
Have seen it flourish, and her sway maintain
In either world, o'er many a fair domain.
But wayward was his irksome lot the while,
Striving with malice, mutiny, and guile;
Yet vainly striving: that which most
His generous bosom sought to shun,
Each wise and liberal purpose crost,
Must now at Mammon's ruthless call be done.
Upon their native soil,
They who were wont in harmless play
To frolic out the passing day,
Must pine with hateful toil.

this he did against his better will ;
For who may stern ambition serve, and still
His nobler nature trust?
May on unshaken strength rely,
Cast fortune as she will her dye,
And say “I will be just?”

That continent, whose mighty reach
From th' utmost frozen north doth stretch
E’en to the frozen south; a land
Of surface fair and structure grand.

There, through vast regions rivers pour,
Whose midway skiff scarce sees the shore;
Which, rolling on in lordly pride,
Give to the main their ample tide ;
And dauntless then, with current strong,
Impetuous, roaring, bear along,
And still their separate honours keep,
In bold contention with the mighty deep.

There broad-based mountains from the sight
Conceal in clouds their vasty height,
Whose frozen peaks, a vision rare,
Above the girdling clouds rear'd far in upper air
At times appear, and soothly seem
To the far distant, up-cast eye,
Like snowy watch-towers of the sky,-
Like passing visions of a dream.

There forests grand of olien birth,
O’er-canopy the darken'd earth,
Whose trees, growth of unreckon'd time,
Rear o'er whole regions far and wide
A checker'd dome of lofty pride
Silent, solemn, and sublime.-
A pillar'd labyrinth, in whose trackless gloom,
Unguided feet might stray till close of mortal


Yea ;

There grassy plains of verdant green
Spread far beyond man's ken are seen,
Whose darker bushy spots that lie
Strew o'er the level vast, descry
Admiring strangers, from the brow
Of hill or upland steep, and show,
Like a calm ocean's peaceful isles,
When morning light through rising vapours smiles.

O'er this, his last-his proudest fame,
He did assert his mission'd claim.
Yet dark, ambitious envy, more
Incensed and violent than before,
With crafty machinations gain'd
His royal master's ear, who stain's
His princely faith, and gave it power
To triumph, in a shameful hour.
A mission'd gownsman o'er the sea
Was sent his rights to supersede,
And all his noble schemes impede, -
His tyrant, spy, and judge to be.
With parchment scrolls and deeds he came
To kindle fierce and wasteful flame.
Columbus' firm and dauntless soul
Submitted not to base control.
For who that hath high deeds achieved,
Whose mind hath mighty plans conceived,
Can of learn'd ignorance and pride
The petty vexing rule abide ??

Envy mean, that in the dark
Strikes surely at its noble mark,
Against him rose with hatred fell,
Which he could brave, but could not quell.
Then he to Spain indignant went,
And to his sovereigns made complaint,
With manly freedom, of their trust,
Put, to his cost, in men unjust,
And turbulent. They graciously
His plaint and plea received; and hoisting high
His famed and gallant flag upon the main,
He to his western world return'd again.
Where he, the sea's unwearied, dauntless rover,
Through many a gulf and strait, did first discover

« ПретходнаНастави »