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Have been transparent as the crystal waters,
Believes me (else, why urge this tedious jest ?)
Enamoured of a hind, my father's vassal !
Flor. O, spare me ! frown not on my harmless muse.
I did but sport : forgive me, Elinor.
Yet, would I knew what preys upon your cheek,
Shrouds you in gloom, and locks me from your bosom.
When Raby's towers from morn till midnight rang
With dance, masque, pageant, minstrelsy, and song,
Our lives seemed sweetest pastime. Not a lark
Rose from her nest more gayly to the skies
Than we from slumber ; joy was all our theme.
Silence and melancholy now usurp –
El. What need to search my heart ? Thou know'st it
thine. Flor. Does Elinor unkindly cast me out From sympathy in sorrow, like a stranger ?
El. Cease, Florence, cease ; I have not yet complained,
Nor ever will, while bounteous Heaven showers down
Blessings unnumbered on my worthless head.
Complain! By what prerogative am I
The darling offspring of a noble house?
Born in this land of heroes ? Graced in all things ?
Who gave those tender parents, and preserves ?
Who stretched a canopy above my bed,
And steeps my eyelids in the dew of slumber,
While many an one no worse than I — No, no,
If, spite of me, my thankless heart repine
Because some fancied good swells not the store,
Ne'er will I utter such rebellious murmurs.
Flor. Seems it rebellion to thee, Elinor,
To bathe the wounds which Providence inflicts
In friendship’s tears ?
El. As for that youth few words
Will sum his story. Three months since, surprised
By a wild night, while journeying near these walls,
He begged a shelter. Voice, or face, or mien,
Fate willed it, touched my sire, who questioned him.
Fortune, he said, smiled fairly at his birth;
But fatal feuds, mischances long to tell,
Robbed him of friends and substance while a child,
And, ever since, his adverse fate had frowned.
Cheered by kind looks and courtesy, he asked
Among the hunting-train some humble post.
Rare talents in the art so cherished here
Had won him rank and favor, ere his arm,
Blessed be Heaven, preserved my life and honor.
Flor. Thy life
El. Have I not told thee? Strange neglect !
0, Florence, hear. -- A balmy eventide
Allured me, with a damsel, down the vale.
Beguiled with talk, and roving heedless, night
O'ertook us. Hurrying through the wood, just where
That ancient ash o'erspreads the way, a band
Of prowling Scots, moss-troopers from the wild,
Rushed from a covert, captive seized us —
Flor. Jesu !
El. Bound us upon their horses, and amain
Spurred for the Border. Long our dangerous course
O'er bills and moors, by lonely robber paths,
We held in darkness, guided by the stars
And fitful lustre of the northern light.
At last, (the moon now broad above the fells,)
Crossing a glen, they halted in a brook,
Full in the beam, to counsel, and to breathe
Their o'erspent steeds. Four huntsmen, 'midst the parle,
Reined up beside us. Judge what trembling seized me,
When on their coats my father's crest I saw !
Think - in that wild, untrodden solitude
To find brave Arthur by my side! Speech, breath
Forsook me. Agnes shrieked. Then, Florence, then
But my brain reeled ; his desperate charge I saw not.
I found myself upon the inoonlight bank
Sustained by Agnes ; felt upon my cheek
The night breeze freshened by the gushing rill
Which Arthur from his basnet sprinkled o'er me.
No hostile sound disturbed us ; tranquil, pale,
And sweet all seemed, till on the runnel's brink,
Close at my feet, I spied two grim marauders
Mixing their life-blood with the bubbling stream.
That night he gave me to my mother's arms;
And such a night !- such agonies of joy
I hope no more to see. - To this poor youth,
Whose blood redeemed me, ingrate shall I prove?
Flor. Forbid it gratitude
El. But if a lighter thought — remember, Florence,
Mine is the stock of Lancaster, the blood
Whose pure, proud current feeds the hearts of Princes.
(E.cit.) Flor. Four days!- and not a whisper of this tale, That should have flown to meet me on the way,
Leaped from her eyes, mixed with the welcome-kiss,
And dwelt the favored theme
her tongue ! Her mother's silence, too ! — ay, that!
But why –
What doth he here ? haunting about her steps,
And practising upon her noble nature ?
Alas! if Elinor, — the gentle, high-souled, -
This claims my care, and nicest observation."
Vol. 1. pp. 227 – 231. The following passage, at the beginning of the second act, has the same finished and quiet beauty. It is a soliloquy of Arthur, who turns out in due time to be the son of Hotspur, and heir of Northumberland. He had been educated at the court of the Scottish regent, from which he had lately withdrawn clandestinely, in order to watch opportunities for the recovery
of his ancestral honors and estates.
"A high-wood walk in a park. The towers of the Castle seen
over the trees.
Ar. Here let me pause, and breathe awhile, and wipe
These servile drops from off my burning brow.
Amidst these venerable trees, the air
Seems hallowed by the breath of other times.-
Companions of my Fathers ! ye have marked
Their generations pass.
Your giant arms
Shadowed their youth, and proudly canopied
Their silver hairs, when, ripe in years and glory,
These walks they trod to meditate on Heaven.
What warlike pageants have ye seen ! what trains
Of captives, and what heaps of spoil ! what pomp,
When the victorious Chief, war's tempest o'er,
In Warkworth’s bowers unbound his panoply!
What floods of splendor, bursts of jocund din,
Startled the slumbering tenants of these shades,
When night awoke the tumult of the feast,
The song of damsels, and the sweet-toned lyre !
Then, princely Percy reigned amidst his halls,
Champion, and Judge, and Father of the North.
0, days of ancient grandeur ! are ye gone ?
For ever gone? Do these same scenes behold
His offspring here the hireling of a foe?
O, that I knew my fate! that I could read
The destiny which Heaven has marked for me !"
But we must not indulge ourselves in further extracts from this charming piece. Percy is discovered, and joined in the service of Earl Neville, by his friend Douglas, who has come in search of him, attended by two hundred vassals of his house, whom he has disposed where their services can be commanded when the time shall arrive. Percy informs him that, without betraying himself, he has revived the interest of his clansmen in the family of their hereditary chief, and that they stand ready for a movement, whenever fortune shall favor. At this juncture the king, with a party of two hundred knights, arrives at the castle, and Percy accepts the omen, and collects and makes himself known to his friends. He proposes to Lord Westmoreland to entertain the king with a Masque, and thus obtains admission to the armoury of the castle. Thence he equips his confederates, and, after the evening banquet, is conducted with a party of them into the royal presence. He reveals himself, and reclaims his patrimony. The king, having already been led to entertain relenting thoughts, grants his suit, and adds the better favor of interesting himself to obtain for the young Earl the hand of the fair heiress of Westmoreland.
Our impressions, derived from the reading of “ Percy's Masque” and “Hadad” on their first appearance, were in favor of the former, as the superior poem. are of a different mind; nor are we induced to change it simply by the important improvements which “ Hadad” has undergone, in the course of revision.
The two works are, perhaps, equally graceful, but “Hadad ” now strikes us as a composition of decidedly more power. Its fable, also, is more faultless, at the same time that it is much more bold. In the plot of “Percy's Masque,” there are two weak points, which, though managed with as much address as the case admitted, cannot be so disguised as not to detract from the effect of the performance. The chivalrous hero is represented as introducing himself to bis enemy's house by a fraud, and acting a treacherous part there, in ihe character of a menial; and, notwithstanding the king's protestations to the contrary, his pardon of Percy, which brings about the catastrophe of the piece, is accorded too much under circumstances of coercion to be sufficiently consistent, poetically speaking, with manliness and royaliy. In the
scheme of "Hadad,” particularly since the improvements made in this last edition, in the manner of preparing the reader's mind for the announcement of the hero's real character, we see absolutely nothing to amend. We formerly gave a sketch of the story, * and will now content ourselves with a single extract. It is the second scene of the first act. Hadad, son of the king of Damascus, has come to Jerusalem, as a hostage for his father. He is secretly slain by robbers, and the fallen spirit Asmodai has taken possession of his body, and personates him at the court of David. “ The King's private apartment. King David alone.
Nathan. God save the Anointed !
King David. Seer, we would thy counsel.
Damascus asks a consort for his heir,
Our hostage, here, and names the flower of Israel,
Absalom's daughter. What shall we reply?
Nath. Should Israel graft upon a heathen stock ?
K. Dav. But 't is a noble youth, and near of kin ;
And sure the gentle maiden favors him,
For Absalom himself preferred the suit,
Who lives in Tamar.
Nath. Hearken not, O King.
K. Dav. But if the youth conform to Moses, sure,
His blood and fortunes may aspire so high.
What nobler line than Hadad's, or what throne
Of older splendor than Damascus'?
Nath. Old, and idolatrous.
K. Dav. Her idols fall
If she be linked with us, and Israel's crown
Secures a warlike power as her ally.
Nath. Rather betroth her to the poorest hind
Th toils Judah.
K. Dav. Prophet of the Lord,
Seest thou aught more in him than we discern,
A young prince modelled in the rarest mould
of mind and features ? — Ne'er have I beheld,
Save my son Absalom's, a goodlier form,
Or mind of brighter lustre.
Nath. I have felt
Strange agitations in his presence, — throes,
And horrid workings, - like the inward strife