« ПретходнаНастави »
cold, odoriferous wind * 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 her charms was more than made up by that intellectual expression, that soul beaming forth from the eyes, which is worth all the rest of loveliness. When they had tinged her fingers with the Henna leaf, and placed upon her brow a small coronet of jewels, of the shape worn by the ancient Queens of Bucharia, they flung over her head the rose-coloured bridal veil, and she proceeded to the barge that was to convey her across the lake ;=first kissing, with a mournful look, the little amulet of carnelian which her father at parting had hung about her neck.
The morning was as fresh and fair as the maid on whose nuptials it rose, and the shining lake all covered with boats, the minstrels playing upon the shores of the islands, and the crowded summerhouses on the green hills around, with shawls and banners waving from their roofs, presented such a picture of animated rejoicing as only she who was the object of it all did not feel with transport. To Lalla Rookh alone it was a melancholy pageant; nor could she have even borne to look upon the scene, were it not for a hope that, among the crowds around, she might once more perhaps catch a glimpse of Feramorz. So much was her imagination haunted by this thought, that there was scarcely an islet or boat she passed on the way at which her heart did not flutter with the momentary fancy that he was there. Happy, in her eyes, the humblest slave upon whom the light of his dear looks fell - In the barge immediately after the Princess sat Fadladeen, with his silken curtains thrown widely apart, that all might have the benefit of his august presence, and with his head full of the speech he was to deliver to the King,
concerning Feramorz, and literature, and the Chabuk, as connected therewith.”
They now had entered the canal which leads from the Lake to the splendid domes and saloons of the Shalimar, and went gliding on through the gardens that ascended from each bank, full of flowering shrubs that made the air all perfume ; while from the middle of the canal rose jets of water, smooth and unbroken, to sach a dazzling height, that they stood like tall pillars of dtamond in the sunshine. After sailing under the arches of various saloons, they at length arrived at the last and most magnificent, where the monarch awaited the coming of his bride ; and such was the agitation of her heart and frame that it was with difficulty she could walk up the marble steps which were covered with cloth of gold for her ascent
* This wind, which is to blow from Syria Damascena, is, according to the Mahometans, one of the signs of the Last Day's approach.
from the barge. At the end of the hall stood two thrones, as precious as the Cerulean Throne of Coolburga,* on one of which sat Aliris, the youthful King of Bucharia, and on the other was, in a few minutes, to be placed the most beautiful Princess in the world. Immediately upon the entrance of Lalla Rookh into the saloon, the monarch decended from his throne to meet her ; but scarcely had he time to take her hand in his when she screamed with surprise, and fainted at his feet. It was Feramorz himself that stood before her !-Feramorz was, himself, the Sovereign of Bucharia, who in this disguise had accompanied his young bride from Delhi, and, having won her love as an humble minstrel, now amply deserved to enjoy it as a King
The consternation of Fadladeen at this discovery was, for the moment, almost pitiable. But change of opinion is a resource too convenient in courts for this experienced courtier not to have learned to avail himself of it. His criticisms were all, of course, recanted instantly: he was seized with an admiration of the King's verses, as unbounded as, he begged him to believe, it was disinterested; and the following week saw him in possession of an addi. tional place, swearing by all the Saints of Islam that never had there existed so great a poet as the Monarch Aliris, and, moreover, ready to prescribe his favourite regimen of the Chabuk for every man, woman, and child, that dared to think otherwise.
Of the happiness of the King and Queen of Bucharia, after such a beginning, there can be but little doubt; and, among the lesser symptoms, it is recorded of Lalla Rookh that, to the day of her death, in memory of their delightful journey, she never called the King by any other name than Feramorz.
* “On Mahommed Shaw's return to Koolburga (the capital of Dekkan), he made a great festival, and mounted this throne with much pomp and magnifi. cence, calling it Firozeh or Cerulean. I have heard some old persons, who saw the throne Firozeh in the reign of Sultan Mamood Bhamenee, describe it. They say that it was in length nine feet, and three in breadth; made of ebony, covered with plates of pure gold, and set with precious stones of immense value. Every prince of the house of Bhamenee, who possessed this throne, made a point of adding to it some rich stones ; so that when, in the reign of Sultan Mamood, it was taken to pieces, to remove some of the jewels to be set in vases and cups, the jewellers valued it at one corore of oons (nearly four millions sterling). I learned also that it was called Firozeh from being partly enamelled of a sky-blue colour, which was in time totally concealed by the number of jewels."-Ferishta.
STEPHEN WOOLRICHE, ESQ. MY DEAR WOOLRICHE,—It is now about seven years since I promised (and I grieve to think it is almost as long since we met) to dedicate to you the very first Book, of whatever size or kind, I should publish. Who could have thought that so many years would elapse, without my giving the least signs of life upon the subject of this important promise? Who could have imagined that a volume of doggerel, after all, would be the first offering that Gratitude would lay upon the shrine of Friendship?
If you continue, however, to be as much interested about me and my pursuits as formerly, you will be happy to hear that doggerel is not my only occupation ; but that I am preparing to throw my name to the Swans of the Temple of Immortality, leaving it, of course, to the said Swans to determine whether they ever will take the trouble of picking it from the stream.
In the meantime, my dear Woolriche, like an orthodox Lutheran, you must judge of me rather by my faith than my works; and however trifling the tribute which I here offer, never doubt the fidelity with which I am, and always shall be, Your sincere and attached Friend,
THE AUTHOR. March 4, 1813
PREFACE. THE Bag, from which the following Letters are selected, was dropped by a Twopenny Postman about two months since, and picked up by an emissary of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, who, supposing it "might materially assist the private re
searches of that Institution, immediately took it to his employers, and was rewarded handsomely for his trouble. Such a treasury of secrets was worth a whole host of informers; and accordingly, like the Cupids of the poet (if I may use so profane a simile) who "fell at odds about the sweet-bag of a bee," * those venerable Suppressors almost fought with each other for the honour and delight of first ransacking the Post-Bag.. Unluckily, however, it turned out, upon examination, that the discoveries of profligacy which it enabled them to make lay chiefly in those upper regions of society which their well-bred regulations forbid them to molest or meddle with. - In consequence, they gained but very few victims by their prize, and, after lying for a week or two under Mr. Hatchard's counter, the Bag, with its violated contents, was sold for a trifle to a friend of mine.
It happened that I had been just then seized with an ambition (having never tried the strength of my wing but in a Newspaper) to publish something or other in the shape of a Book ; and it occurred to me that, the present being such a letter-writing era, a few of these Twopenny-Post Epistles, turned into easy verse, would be as light and popular a task as I could possibly select for a com
I did not, however, think it prudent to give too many Letters at first, and accordingly have been obliged (in order to eke out à sufticient number of pages) to reprint some of those trifles which had already appeared in the public journals. As, in the battles of ancient times, the shades of the departed were sometimes seen among the combatants, so I thought I might manage to remedy the thinness of my ranks by conjuring up a few dead and forgotten ephemerons to fill them.
Such are the motives and accidents that led to the present publication; and as this is the first time my Muse has ever ventured out of the go-cart of a Newspaper, though I feel all a parent's de. light at seeing little Miss go alone, I am also not without a parent's anxiety lest an unlucky fall should be the consequence of the experiment; and I need not point out how many living instances might be found of Muses that have suffered very severely in their heads from taking rather too early and rashly to their feet. Besides, a Book is so very different a thing from a Newspaper !-in the former, your doggerel, without either company or shelter, must stand shivering in the middle of a bleak page by itself; whereas, in the latter, it is comfortably backed by advertisements, and has sometimes even a Speech of Mr. Stephen's, or something equally warm, for a chauffe-pié-so that, in general, the very reverse of “ laudatur et alget” is its destiny.
Ambition, however, must run some risks, and I shall be very well satisfied if the reception of these few Letters should have the effect of sending me to the Post-Bag for more.
BY A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR.
In the absence of Mr. Brown, who is at present on a tour through
-, I feel myself called upon, as his friend, to notice certain misconceptions and misrepresentations to which this little volume of Trifles has given rise.
In the first place, it is not true that Mr. Brown has had any accomplices in the work. A note, indeed, which has hitherto accompanied his Preface, may very naturally have been the origin of such a supposition ; but that note, which was merely the coquetry of an author, I have, in the present edition, taken upon myself to remove, and Mr. Brown must therefore be considered (like the mother of that unique production, the Centaur, uova Kal Movov *) as alone responsible for the whole contents of the volume.
In the next place it has been said that, in consequence of this graceless little book, a certain distinguished Personage prevailed upon another distinguished Personage to withdraw from the author that notice and kindness with which he had so long and so liberally honoured him. In this story there is not one syllable of truth. For the magnanimity of the former of these persons I would, indeed, in no case answer too rashly: but of the conduct of the latter towards my friend, I have a proud gratification in declaring that it has never ceased to be such as he must remember with indelible gratitude ;-a gratitude the more cheerfully and warmly paid from its not being a debt incurred solely on his own account, but for kindness shared with those nearest and dearest to him.
To the charge of being an Irishman, poor Mr. Brown pleads guilty; and I believe it must also be acknowledged that he comes of a Roman Catholic family: an avowal which I am aware is decisive of his utter reprobation, in the eyes of those exclusive patentees of Christianity, so worthy to have been the followers of a certain enlightened Bishop, Donatus,+ who held “ that God is in Africa and not elsewhere." But from all this it does not necessarily follow that Mr. Brown is a Papist; and, indeed, I have the strongest reasons for suspecting that they who say so are somewhat mistaken. Not that I presume to have ascertained his opinions upon such subjects. All I profess to know of his orthodoxy is that he has a Protestant wife and two or three little Protestant children, and that he has been seen at church every Sunday, for a whole year together, listening to the sermons of his truly reverend and amiable friend, Dr. and behaving there as well and as orderly as most people.
There are yet a few other mistakes and falsehoods about Mr. Brown, to which I had intended, with all becoming gravity, to advert; but I begin to think the task is quite as useless as it is tiresome. Misrepresentations and calumnies of this sort' are, like
* Pindar, Pyth. 2.-My friend certainly cannot add o'r' &v åvdpaou γερασφορον. .
| Bishop of Casa Nigræ, in the fourth century.