Page images

Never, renegado, never ! “ Though the life of thy gift would last for ever.”

« Nor weep

“Francesca !_Oh my promised bride !
“Must she too perish by thy pride ?”
“She is safe.”_" Where? where?"_“ In heaven;
“ From whence thy traitor soul is driven-
“ Far from thee, and undefiled.”
Grimly then Minotti smiled,
As he saw Alp staggering bow
Before his words, as with a blow.
“Oh God! when died she ?"_“ Yesternight-

I for her spirit's flight:
“ None of my pure race shall be
“ Slaves to Mahomet and thee-
“ Come on!”—That challenge is in vain
Alp's already with the slain !
While Minotti's words were wreaking
More revenge in bitter speaking
Than his falchion's point had found,
Had the time allow'd to wound,
From within the neighbouring porch
Of a long defended church,
Where the last and desperate few
Would the failing fight renew,
The sharp shot dashed Alp to the ground ;
Ere an eye could view the wound
That crash'd through the brain of the infidel,
Round he spun, and down he fell ;
A flash like fire within his eyes
Blazed, as he bent no more to rise,

And then eternal darkness sunk
Through all the palpitating trunk;
Nought of life left, save a quivering
Where his limbs were slightly shivering:
They turn'd him on his back; his breast
And brow were stain'd with gore and dust,
And through his lips the life-blood oozed,
From its deep veins lately loosed ;
But in his pulse there was no throb,
Nor on his lips one dying sob;
Sigh, nor word, nor struggling breath
Heralded his way to death :
Ere his very thought could pray,
Unanel'd he pass’d away,
Without a hope from mercy's aid,
To the last a renegade.

Fearfully the yell arose
Of his followers, and his foes ;
These in joy, in fury those :
Then again in conflict mixing,
Clashing swords, and spears transfixing,
Interchanged the blow and thrust,
Hurling warriors in the dust.
Street by street, and foot by foot,
Still Minotti dares dispute
The latest portion of the land
Left beneath his high command;
With him, aiding heart and hand,
The remnant of his gallant band.

Still the church is tenable,

Whence issued late the fated bal}

That half avenged the city's fall,
When Alp, her fierce assailant, fell:
Thither bending sternly back,
They leave before a bloody track;
And, with their faces to the foe,
Dealing wounds with every blow,
The chief, and his retreating train,
Join to those within the fane;
There they yet may breathe awhile,
Shelter'd by the massy pile.


Brief breathing-time! the turban'd host, With added ranks and raging boast, Press onwards with such strength and heat, Their numbers balk their own retreat; For narrow the way that led to the spot Where still the Christians yielded not; And the foremost, if fearful, may vainly try Through the massy column to turn and fly; They perforce must do or die. They die; but ere their eyes could close, Avengers o'er their bodies rose; Fresh and furious, fast they fill The ranks unthinn'd, though slaughter'd still ; And faint the weary Christians wax Before the still renew'd attacks: And now the Othmans gain the gate ; Still resists its iron weight,


с с

And still, all deadly aim'd and hot,
From every crevice comes the shot;
From every shatter'd window pour
The volleys of the sulphurous shower:
But the portal wavering grows and weak-
The iron yields, the hinges creak-
It bends it falls and all is o'er;
Lost Corinth may resist no more!


Darkly, sternly, and all alone,
Minotti stood o'er the altar stone:
Madonna's face upon him shone,
Painted in heavenly hues above,
With eyes of light and looks of love;
And placed upon that holy shrine
To fix our thoughts on things divine,
When pictured there, we kneeling see
Her, and the boy-God on her knee,
Smiling sweetly on each prayer
To heaven, as if to waft it there.
Still she smiled; even now she smiles,
Though slaughter streams along her aisles :
Minotti lifted his aged eye,
And made the sign of a cross with a sigh,
Then seized a torch which blazed thereby ;
And still he stood, while, with steel and flame,
Inward and onward the Mussulman came.

The vaults beneath the mosaic stone
Contain'd the dead of ages gone ;

Their names were on the graven floor, But now illegible with gore; The carved crests, and curious hues The varied marble's veins diffuse, Were smear'd, and slippery-stain'd, and strown With broken swords, and helms o'erthrown: There were dead above, and the dead below Lay cold in many a coffin'd row; You might see them piled in sable state, By a pale light through a gloomy grate; But War had enter'd their dark caves, And stored along the vaulted graves Her sulphurous treasures, thickly spread In masses by the fleshless dead : Here, throughout the siege, had been The Christians' chiefest magazine; To these a late form'd train now led, Minotti's last and stern resource Against the foe's o'erwhelming force.


The foe came on, and few remain
To strive, and those must strive in vain:
For lack of further lives, to slake
Thé thirst of vengeance now awake,
With barbarous blows they gash the dead,
And lop the already lifeless head,
And fell the statues from their niche,
And spoil the shrines of offerings rich,
And from each other's rude hands wrest
The silver vessels saints had bless'd.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »