The Voyage Of Columbus.

A poem by Samuel Rogers

CHI SE' TU, CHE VIENI----?
DA ME STESSO NON VEGNO.
DANTE.

I have seen the day,
That I have worn a visor, and could tell
A tale--------
SHAKSP.

PREFACE.

The following Poem (or, to speak more properly, what remains of it [1]) has here and there a lyrical turn of thought and expression. It is sudden in its transitions, and full of historical allusions; leaving much to be imagined by the reader.

The subject is a voyage the most memorable in the annals of mankind. Columbus was a person of extraordinary virtue and piety, acting under the sense of a divine impulse; and his achievement the discovery of a New World, the inhabitants of which were shut out from the light of Revelation, and given up, as they believed, to the dominion of malignant spirits.

Many of the incidents will now be thought extravagant; yet they were once perhaps received with something more than indulgence. It was an age of miracles; and who can say that among the venerable legends in the library of the Escurial, or the more authentic records which fill the great chamber in the Archivo of Simancas, and which relate entirely to the deep tragedy of America, there are no volumes that mention the marvellous things here described? Indeed the story, as already told throughout Europe, admits of no heightening. Such was the religious enthusiasm of the early writers, that the Author had only to transfuse it into his verse; and he appears to have done little more; though some of the circumstances, which he alludes to as well-known, have long ceased to be so. By using the language of that day, he has called up Columbus 'in his habit as he lived;' and the authorities, such as exist, are carefully given by the translator.

[1: The Original in the Castilian language, according to the Inscription that fellows, was found among other MSS. in an old religious house near Palos, situated on an island formed by the river Tinto, and dedicated to our Lady of Rábida. The Writer describes himself as having sailed with Columbus; but his style and manner are evidently of an after-time.]


INSCRIBED ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT.

Unclasp me, Stranger; and unfold,
With trembling care, my leaves of gold
Rich in gothic portraiture--
If yet, alas, a leaf endure.
In RABIDA'S monastic fane
I cannot ask, and ask in vain.
The language of CASTILE I speak;
Mid many an Arab, many a Greek,
Old in the days of CHARLEMAIN;
When minstrel-music wander' round,
And Science, waking, bless' the sound.
No earthly thought has here a place;
The cowl let down on every face.
Yet here, in consecrated dust,
Here would I sleep, if sleep I must.
From GENOA when COLUMBUS came,
(At once her glory and her shame)
'Was here he caught the holy flame.
'Twas here the generous vow he made;
His banners on the altar laid.--
One hallow'd morn, methought,
I felt As if a soul within me dwelt!
But who arose and gave to me
The sacred trust I keep for thee,
And in his cell at even-tide
Knelt before the cross and died--
Inquire not now. His name no more
Glimmers on the chancel-floor,
Near the lights that ever shine
Before ST. MARY'S blessed shrine.
To me one little hour devote,
And lay thy staff and scrip beside thee;
Read in the temper that he wrote,
And may his gentle spirit guide thee!
My leaves forsake me, one by one;
The book-worm thro' and thro' has gone.
Oh haste--unclasp me, and unfold;
The tale within was never told!


THE ARGUMENT.

Columbus, having wandered from kingdom to kingdom, at length obtains three ships and sets sail on the Atlantic. The compass alters from its antient direction; the wind becomes constant and unremitting; night and day he advances, till he is suddenly stopped in his course by a mass of vegetation, extending as far as the eye can reach, and assuming the appearance of a country overwhelmed by the sea. Alarm and despondence on board. He resigns himself to the care of Heaven, and proceeds on his voyage; while columns of water move along in his path before him.

Meanwhile the deities of America assemble in council; and one of the Zemi, the gods of the islanders, announces his approach. "In vain," says he, "have we guarded the Atlantic for ages. A mortal has baffled our power; nor will our votaries arm against him. Yours are a sterner race. Hence; and, while we have recourse to stratagem, do you array the nations round your altars, and prepare for an exterminating war." They disperse while he is yet speaking; and, in the shape of a condor, he directs his flight to the fleet. His journey described. He arrives there. A panic. A mutiny. Columbus restores order; continues on his voyage; and lands in a New World. Ceremonies of the first interview. Rites of hospitality. The ghost of Cazziva.

Two months pass away, and an Angel, appearing in a dream to Columbus, thus addresses him: "Return to Europe; though your Adversaries, such is the will of Heaven, shall let loose the hurricane against you. A little while shall they triumph; insinuating themselves into the hearts of your followers, and making the World, which you came to bless, a scene of blood and slaughter. Yet is there cause for rejoicing. Your work is done. The cross of Christ is planted here; and, in due time, all things shall be made perfect!"


CANTO I.
Night--Columbus on the Atlantic--the variation of the compass, &c.

Say who first pass'd the portals of the West,
And the great Secret of the Deep possess'd;
Who first the standard of his Faith unfurl'd
On the dread confines of an unknown World;
Sung ere his coming [a]--and by Heav'n design'd
To lift the veil that cover'd half mankind! [b]--
'Twas night. The Moon, o'er the wide wave, disclos'd
Her awful face; and Nature's self repos'd;
When, slowly rising in the azure sky,
Three white sails shone--but to no mortal eye.
Entering a boundless sea. In slumber cast,
The very ship-boy, on the dizzy mast,
Half breath'd his orisons! Alone unchang'd,
Calmly, beneath, the great Commander rang'd, [c]
Thoughtful not sad; and, as the planet grew,
His noble form, wrapt in his mantle blue,
Athwart the deck a solemn shadow threw.
"Thee hath it pleas'd--Thy will be done!" he said, [d]
Then sought his cabin; and, their capas [1] spread,
Around him lay the sleeping as the dead,
When, by his lamp, to that mysterious Guide,
On whose still counsels all his hopes relied,
That Oracle to man in mercy giv'n,
Whose voice is truth, whose wisdom is from heav'n, [e]
Who over sands and seas directs the stray,
And, as with God's own finger, points the way,
He turn'd; but what strange thoughts perplex'd his soul,
When, lo, no more attracted to the Pole,
The Compass, faithless as the circling vane,
Flutter'd and fix'd, flutter'd and fix'd again;
And still, as by some unseen Hand imprest,
Explor'd, with trembling energy, the West! [2]
"Ah no!" he cried, and calm'd his anxious brow.
"Ill, nor the signs of ill, 'tis thine to show.
Thine but to lead me where I wish'd to go!"
COLUMBUS err'd not. [f] In that awful hour,
Sent forth to save, and girt with God-like power,
And glorious as the regent of the sun, [3]
An Angel came! He spoke, and it was done!
He spoke, and, at his call, a mighty Wind, [g]
Not like the fitful blast, with fury blind,
But deep, majestic, in its destin'd course,
Rush'd with unerring, unrelenting force,
From the bright East. Tides duly ebb'd and flow'd;
Stars rose and set; and new horizons glow'd;
Yet still it blew! As with primeval sway,
Still did its ample spirit, night and day,
Move on the waters!--All, resign'd to Fate,
Folded their arms and sat; and seem'd to wait [h]
Some sudden change; and sought, in chill suspense,
New spheres of being, and new modes of sense;
As men departing, tho' not doom'd to die,
And midway on their passage to eternity.

[1: The capa is the Spanish cloak.]

[2: Herrera, dec. I. lib. i. c. 9.]

[3: Rev. xix. 17.]


CANTO II.
The Voyage continued.

"What vast foundations in the Abyss are there, [i]
As of a former world? [1] Is it not where
ATLANTIC kings their barbarous pomp display'd; [k]
Sunk into darkness with the realms they sway'd,
When towers and temples, thro' the closing wave, [l]
A glimmering ray of antient splendour gave--
And we shall rest with them. Arise, behold,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We stop to stir no more...nor will the tale be told."
The pilot smote his breast; the watch-man cried
"Land!" and his voice in faltering accents died. [m]
At once the fury of the prow was quell'd;
And (whence or why from many an age withheld) [2]
Shrieks, not of men, were mingling in the blast;
And armed shapes of god-like stature pass'd!
Slowly along the evening sky they went,
As on the edge of some vast battlement;
Helmet and shield, and spear and gonfalon
Streaming a baleful light that was not of the sun!

Long from the stern the great Adventurer gaz'd
With awe not fear; then high his hands he rais'd.
"Thou All-supreme---in goodness as in power,
Who, from his birth to this eventful hour,
Hast led thy servant [3] over land and sea,
Confessing Thee in all, and all in Thee,
Oh still"--He spoke, and lo, the charm accurst
Fled whence it came, and the broad barrier burst!
A vain illusion! (such as mocks the eyes
Of fearful men, when mountains round them rise
From less than nothing [4]) nothing now beheld,
But scatter'd sedge--repelling, and repell'd!
And once again that valiant company
Right onward came, ploughing the Unknown Sea.
Already borne beyond the range of thought,
With Light divine, with Truth immortal fraught,
From world to world their steady course they keep, [5]
Swift as the winds along the waters sweep,
Mid the mute nations of the purple deep.
--And now the sound of harpy-wings they hear;
Now less and less, as vanishing in fear!
And, see, the heav'ns bow down, the waters rise.
And, rising, shoot in columns to the skies, [6]
That stand--and still, when they proceed, retire,
As in the Desert burn'd the sacred fire; [7]
Moving in silent majesty, till Night
Descends, and shuts the vision from their sight.

[1: In like manner the companions of Ulysses utter their thoughts without reserve. Od. X.]

[2: The author seems to have anticipated his long slumber in the library of the Fathers.]

[3: 'They may give me what name they please. I am servant of Him, &c.' F. Columbus, c 2.]

[4: Isaiah xl. 17.]

[5: As St. Christopher carried Christ over the deep waters, so Columbus went over safe, himself and his company.--F. Col. c. 1.]

[6: Water-spouts. See Edwards's Hist. of the West Indies. I. 12. Note.]

[7: Exod. xiii. 21.]


CANTO III.
An Assembly of Evil Spirits.

Tho' chang'd my cloth of gold for amice grey-- [n]
In my spring-time, when every month was May,
With hawk and hound I cours'd away the hour,
Or sung my roundelay in lady's bower.
And tho' my world be now a narrow cell,
(Renounc'd for ever all I lov'd so well)
Tho' now my head be bald, my feet be bare,
And scarce my knees sustain my book of prayer,
Oh I was there, one of that gallant crew,
And saw--and wonder'd whence his Power He drew,
Yet little thought, tho' by his side I stood,
Of his great Foes in earth and air and flood,
Then uninstructed.--But my sand is run,
And the Night coming---and my Task not done!--
'Twas in the deep, immeasurable cave
Of ANDES, echoing to the Southern wave, [o]
Mid pillars of Basalt, the work of fire,
That, giant-like, to upper day aspire,
'Twas there that now, as wont in heav'n to shine,
Forms of angelic mould, and grace divine,
Assembled. All, exil'd the realms of rest,
In vain the sadness of their souls suppress'd;
Yet of their glory many a scatter'd ray
Shot thro' the gathering shadows of decay.
Each mov'd a God; and all, as Gods, possess'd
One half the globe; from pole to pole confess'd! [1]
These in dim shrines and barbarous symbols reign,
Where PLATA and MARAGNON meet the Main. [p]
Those the wild hunter worships as he roves,
In the green shade of CHILI'S fragrant groves;
Or warrior-tribes with rites of blood implore,
Whose night-fires gleam along the sullen shore
Of HURON or ONTARIO, inland seas, [q]
What time the song of death is in the breeze!
'Twas now in dismal pomp and order due,
While the vast concave flash'd with lightnings blue,
On shining pavements of metallic ore,
That many an age the fusing sulphur bore,
They held high council. All was silence round,
When, with a voice most sweet yet most profound,
A sovereign Spirit burst the gates of night,
And from his wings of gold shook drops of liquid light!
MERION, commission'd with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep!
Chief of the ZEMI, whom the Isles obey'd,
By Ocean sever'd from a world of shade. [2]

I.

"Prepare, again prepare,"
Thus o'er the soul the thrilling accents' came,
"Thrones to resign for lakes of living flame,
And triumph for despair.
He, on whose call afflicting thunders wait,
Has will'd it; and his will is fate!
In vain the legions, emulous to save,
Hung in the tempest o'er the troubled main; [r]
Turn'd each presumptuous prow that broke the wave,
And dash'd it on its shores again.
All is fulfill'd! Behold, in close array,
What mighty banners stream in the bright track of day!"

II.

"No voice, as erst, shall in the desert rise; [3]
Nor antient, dread solemnities
With scorn of death the trembling tribes inspire.
Wreaths for the Conqueror's brow the victims bind!
Yet, tho' we fled yon firmament of fire,
Still shall we fly, all hope of rule resign'd?"
* * * * *
* * * * *
He' spoke; and all was silence, all was night! [s]
Each had already wing'd his formidable flight.

[1: Gods, yet confess'd later.--Milton.----Ils ne laissent pas d'en être les esclaves, & de les honorer plus que le grand Esprit, qui de sa nature est bon.--Lafitau.]

[2: La plûpart de ces îsles ne sont en effet que des pointes de montagnes; et la mer, qui est au-delà, est une vraie mer Méditerranée. Buffon.]

[3: Alluding to the oracles of the Islanders, so soon to become silent: and particularly to a prophecy, delivered down from their ancestors, and sung with loud lamentations (Petr. Martyr, dec. 3. lib. 7) at their solemn festivals (Herrera. I. iii. 4) that the country would be laid waste on the arrival of strangers, completely clad, from a region near the rising of the sun. Ibid. II. S. 2. It is said that Cazziva, a great Cacique, after long fasting and many ablutions, had an interview with one of the Zemi, who announced to him this terrible event (F. Columbus, c. 62), as the oracle of Latona, according to Herodotus (II. 152) predicted the overthrow of eleven kings in Egypt, on the appearance of men of brass, risen out of the sea.
Nor did this prophecy exist among the Islanders alone. It influenced the councils of Montezuma, and extended almost universally over the forests of America. Cortes. Herrera. Gomara. 'The demons, whom they worshipped,' says Acosta, 'in this instance told them the truth.']


CANTO IV.
The Voyage continued.

"Ah, why look back, tho' all is left behind?
No sounds of life are stirring in the wind.--
And you, ye birds, winging your passage home,
How blest ye are!--We know not where we roam,
We go," they cried, "go to return no more;
Nor ours, alas, the transport to explore
A human footstep on a desert shore!"

Still, as beyond this mortal life impell'd
By some mysterious energy, He held
His everlasting course. Still self-possess'd,
High on the deck He stood, disdaining rest;
(His amber chain the only badge he bore, [1]
His mantle blue such as his fathers wore)
Fathom'd, with searching hand, the dark profound,
And scatter'd hope and glad assurance round.
At day-break might the Caravels [2] be seen,
Chasing their shadows o'er the deep serene;
Their burnish'd prows lash'd by the sparkling tide.
Their green-cross standards [3] waving far and wide.
And now once more to better thoughts inclin'd,
The sea-man, mounting, clamour'd in the wind.
The soldier told his tales of love and war; [t]
The courtier sung--sung to his gay guitar.
Round, at Primero, sate a whisker'd band;
So Fortune smil'd, careless of sea or land! [u]
LEON, MONTALVAN, (serving side by side;
Two with one soul--and, as they liv'd, they died)
VASCO the brave, thrice found among the slain,
Thrice, and how soon, up and in arms again,
As soon to wish he had been sought in vain,
Chain'd down in Fez, beneath the bitter thong,
To the hard bench and heavy oar so long!
ALBERT of FLORENCE, who, at twilight-time,
In my young ear pour'd DANTE'S tragic rhyme,
Screen'd by the sail as near the mast we lay,
Our night illumin'd by the ocean-spray;
LERMA "the generous", AVILA "the proud;" [4]
VELASQUEZ, GARCIA, thro' the echoing croud
Trac'd by their mirth--from EBRO'S classic shore,
From golden TAJO--to return no more!

[1: It was afterwards given to Guacanahari. See F. Col. c. 32.]

[2: Light vessels, formerly used by the Spaniards and Portuguese.]

[3: F. Columbus, c. 23.]

[4: Many such appellations occur in Bernal Diaz. c. 204.]


CANTO V.
The Voyage continued.

Yet who but He undaunted could explore [x]
A world of waves--a sea without a shore,
Trackless and vast and wild as that reveal'd
When round the Ark the birds of tempest wheel'd;
When all was still in the destroying hour--
No sign of man! no vestige of his power!
One at the stern before the hour-glass stood,
As 'twere to count the sands; one o'er the flood
Gaz'd for St. Elmo; [1] while another cried
"Once more good morrow!" and sate down and sigh'd.
Day, when it came, came only with its light.
Tho' long invok'd, 'twas sadder than the night!
Look where He would, for ever as He turn'd,
He met the eye of one that inly mourn'd.
Then sunk his generous spirit, and He wept.
The friend, the father rose; the hero slept.
PALOS, thy port, with many a pang resign' d,
Fill'd with its busy scenes his lonely mind;
The solemn march, the vows in concert giv'n, [2]
The bended knees and lifted hands to heav'n,
The incens'd rites, and choral harmonies,
The Guardian's blessings mingling with his sighs;
While his dear boys--ah, on his neck they hung, [y]
And long at parting to his garments clung.
Oft in the silent night-watch doubt and fear
Broke in uncertain murmurs on his ear.
Oft the stern Catalan, at noon of day,
Mutter'd dark threats, and linger'd to obey;
Tho' that brave Youth--he, whom his courser bore
Right thro' the midst, when, fetlock deep in gore,
The great GONZALO [3] battled with the Moor,
(What time the ALHAMBRA shook--soon to unfold
Its sacred courts, and fountains yet untold,
Its holy texts and arabesques of gold)
Tho' ROLDAN, [4] sleep and death to him alike,
Grasp'd his good sword and half unsheath'd to strike.
"Oh born to wander with your flocks," he cried,
"And bask and dream along the mountain-side;
To urge your mules, tinkling from hill to hill;
Or at the vintage-feast to drink your fill,
And strike your castanets, with gipsy-maid
Dancing Fandangos in the chesnut shade--
Come on," he cried, and threw his glove in scorn,
"Not this your wonted pledge, the brimming horn.
Valiant in peace! Adventurous at home!
Oh, had ye vow'd with pilgrim-staff to roam;
Or with banditti sought the sheltering wood,
Where mouldering crosses mark the scene of blood!--"
He said, he drew; then, at his Master's frown,
Sullenly sheath'd, plunging the weapon down.

[1: A luminous appearance of good omen.]

[2: His public procession to the Convent of Rábida on the day before he set sail. It was there that his sons had received their education; and he himself appears to have passed some time there, the venerable Guardian, Juan Perez de Marchena, being his zealous and affectionate friend.--The ceremonies of his departure and return are represented in many of the fresco-paintings in the palaces of Genoa.]

[3: Gonzalo Fernandez, already known by the name of The great Captain. Granada surrendered on the 2nd of January, 1492. Columbus set sail on the, 3rd of August following.]

[4: Probably a soldier of fortune. There were more than one of the name on board.]


CANTO VI.
The flight of an Angel of Darkness.

War and the Great in War let others sing.
Havoc and spoil, and tears and triumphing;
The morning-march that flashes to the sun,
The feast of vultures when the day is done;
And the strange tale of many slain for one!
I sing a Man, amidst his sufferings here,
Who watch'd and serv'd in humbleness and fear;
Gentle to others, to himself severe.

Still unsubdued by Danger's varying form,
Still, as unconscious of the coming storm,
He look'd elate! His beard, his mien sublime,
Shadow'd by Age;--by Age before the time, [1]
From many a sorrow borne in many a clime,
Mov'd every heart. And now in opener skies
Stars yet unnam'd of purer radiance rise!
Stars, milder suns, that love a shade to cast,
And on the bright wave fling the trembling mast. [2]

'Twas the mid hour, when He, whose accents dread
Still wander'd thro' the regions of the dead,
(MERION, commission'd with his host to sweep
From age to age the melancholy deep)
To elude the seraph-guard that watch'd for man,
And mar, as erst, the Eternal's perfect plan,
Rose like the Condor, and, at towering height,
In pomp of plumage sail'd, deepening the shades of night.
Roc of the West! to him all empire giv'n! [z]
Who bears [3] Axalhua's dragon-folds to heav'n; [4]
His flight a whirlwind, and, when heard afar,
Like thunder, or the distant din of war!
Mountains and seas fled backward as he pass'd
O'er the great globe, by not a cloud o'ercast
From the ANTARCTICK, from the Land of Fire [5]
To where ALASKA'S [6] wintry wilds retire;
From mines [7] of gold, and giant-sons of earth,
To grotts of ice, and tribes of pigmy birth
Who freeze alive, nor, dead, in dust repose,
High-hung in forests to the casing snows.[a]
Now mid angelic multitudes he flies,
That hourly come with blessings from the skies;
Wings the blue element, and, borne sublime,
Eyes the set sun, gilding each distant clime;
Then, like a meteor, shooting to the main,
Melts into pure intelligence again.

[1: F. Col. c.3.]

[2: Splendour of the nights in a tropical climate.]

[3: Axalhua, or the Emperor. The name in the Mexican language for the great serpent of America.]

[4: As the Roc of the East is said to have carried off the Elephant. See Marco Polo.]

[5: Tierra del Fuego.]

[6: Northern extremity of the New World. See Cook's last Voyage.]

[7: Mines of Chili; which extend, says Ovalle, to the Strait of Magellan. I. 4.]


CANTO VII.
A mutiny excited.

What tho' Despondence reign'd, and wild Affright;
Stretch'd in the midst, and, thro' that dismal night, [b]
By his white plume reveal'd and buskins white, [c]
Slept ROLDAN. When he clos'd his gay career,
Hope fled for ever, and with Hope fled Fear,
Blest with each gift indulgent Fortune sends,
Birth and its rights, wealth and its train of friends,
Star-like he shone! Now beggar'd, and alone,
Danger he woo'd, and claim'd her for his own.
O'er him a Vampire [1] his dark wings display'd.
'Twas MERION'S self, covering with dreadful shade. [d]
He came, and, couch'd on ROLDAN'S ample breast,
Each secret pore of breathing life possess'd,
Fanning the sleep that seem'd his final rest;
Then, inly gliding like a subtle flame, [e]
Subdued the man, and from his thrilling frame
Sent forth the voice! "We live, we breathe no more!
The fatal wind blows on the dreary shore!
On yonder cliffs, beckoning their fellow-prey,
The spectres stalk, and murmur at delay! [2]
--Yet if thou canst (not for myself I plead,
Mine but to follow where 'tis thine to lead)
Oh turn and save! To thee, with streaming eyes,
To thee each widow kneels, each orphan cries!
Who now, condemn'd the lingering hours to tell,
Think and but think of those they lov'd so well!"
All melt in tears! but what can tears avail?
These climb the mast, and shift the swelling sail.
These snatch the helm; and round me now I hear
Smiting of hands, out-cries of grief and fear,
(That In the aisles at midnight haunt me still,
Turning my lonely thoughts from good to ill)
"Were there no graves--none in our land," they cry,
"That thou hast brought us on the deep to die?"
Silent with sorrow, long within his cloak
His face He muffled--then the Hero spoke.
"Generous and brave! when God himself is' here,
Why shake at shadows in your mid career?
He can suspend the Jaws himself design'd,
He walks the waters, and the winged wind; [3]
Himself your guide! and yours the high behest
To lift your voice, and bid a world be blest!
And can you shrink? [4] to you, to you consign'd
The glorious privilege to serve mankind!
Oh had I perish'd, when my failing frame [5]
Clung to the shatter'd oar mid wrecks of flame!
--Was it for this I linger'd life away,
The scorn of Folly, and of Fraud the prey; [f]
Bow'd down my mind, the gift His bounty gave,
At courts a suitor, and to slaves a slave?
--Yet in His name whom only we should fear,
('Tis all, all I shall ask, or you shall hear)
Grant but three days"--He spoke not uninspir'd; [6]
And each in silence to his watch retir'd.
At length among us came an unknown Voice!
"Go, if ye will; and, if ye can, rejoice.
Go, with unbidden guests the banquet share.
In his own shape shall Death receive you there." [7]

[1: A species of bat in S. America; which refreshes by the gentle agitation of its wings, while it sucks the blood of the sleeper, turning his sleep into death. Ulloa.]

[2: Euripides in Alcest. v. 255.]

[3: Ps. civ. 3.]

[4: The same language had been addressed to Isabella. F..Cpl. c 15.]

[5: His miraculous escape, in early life, during a sea-fight off the coast of Portugal. Ibid. c. 5.]

[6: He used to affirm, that he stood in need of God's particular assistance; like Moses, when he led forth the people of Israel, who forbore to lay violent hands upon him, because of the miracles which God wrought by his means. 'So,' said the Admiral, 'did it happen to me on that voyage.' F. Columbus, c. 19.----' And so easily,' says a Commentator, 'are the workings of the Evil one overcome by the power of God!']

[7: This denunciation, fulfilled as it appears to be in the eleventh canto, may remind the reader of the Harpy's in Virgil. Æn. III v. 247.]


CANTO VIII.
Land discovered.

Twice in the zenith blaz'd the orb of light;
No shade, all sun, insufferably bright!
Then the long line found rest [1]--in coral groves
Silent and dark, where the sea-lion roves:--
And all on deck, kindling to life again,
Sent forth their anxious spirits o'er the main.
"Oh whence, as wafted from Elysium, whence
These perfumes, strangers to the raptur'd sense?
These boughs of gold, and fruits of heav'nly hue,
Tinging with vermeil light the billows blue?
And (thrice, thrice blessed is the eye that spied,
The hand that snatch'd it sparkling in the tide) [g]
Whose cunning carv'd this vegetable bowl,
Symbol of social rites, and intercourse of soul?"
Such to their grateful ear the gush of springs,
Who course the ostrich, as away she wings;
Sons of the desert! who delight to dwell
Mid kneeling camels round the sacred well.
The sails were furl'd: [2] with many a melting close,
Solemn and slow the evening anthem rose,
Rose to the Virgin. [h] 'Twas the hour of day,
When setting suns o'er summer-seas display
A path of glory, opening in the west
To golden climes, and islands of the blest;
And human voices, on the silent air,
Went o'er the waves in songs of gladness there!
Chosen of Men! [i] 'twas thine, at noon of night,
First from the prow to hail the glimmering light; [3]
(Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray
Enters the soul, and makes the darkness day!)
"PEDRO! RODRIGO! [4] there, methought, it shone!
There--in the west! and now, alas, 'tis gone!--
'Twas all a dream! we gaze and gaze in vain!
--But mark and speak not, there it comes again!
It moves!--what form unseen, what being there
With torch-like lustre fires the murky air?
His instincts, passions, say, how like our own?
Oh! when will day reveal a world unknown?"

[1: For thirty-five days they were advancing 'where fathom-line could never touch the ground.']

[2: On Thursday, the 11th of October, 1492.]

[3: A light in the midst of darkness, signifying the spiritual light that he came to spread there. F. Col. c. 22. Herrera, I i 12.]

[4: Pedro Gutierrez, a Page of the King's Chamber. Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, Comptroller of the Fleet.]


CANTO IX.
The New World.

Long on the wave the morning mists repos'd,
Then broke--and, melting into light, disclos'd
Half-circling hills, whose everlasting woods
Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods.
--And say, when all, to holy transport giv'n,
Embraced and wept as at the gates of Heav'nly,
When one and all of us, repentant, ran,
And, on our faces, bless' the wondrous Man;
Say, was I then deceiv'd, or from the skies
Burst on my ear seraphic harmonies?
"Glory to God!" unnumber'd voices sung,
"Glory to God!" the vales and mountains rung,
Voices that hail' Creation's primal morn,
And to the shepherds sung a Saviour born.
Slowly to land the sacred cross we bore, [k]
And, kneeling, kiss'd with pious lips the shore.
But how the scene pour tray? [l] Nymphs of romance,
[m] Youths graceful as the Faun, [n] with rapturous glance,
Spring from the glades, and down the green steeps run,
To greet their mighty guests, "The children of the Sun!"
Features so fair, in garments richly wrought,
From citadels, with Heav'n's own thunder fraught,
Check'd their light footsteps--statue-like they stood,
As worshipp'd forms, the Genii of the Wood!
But see, the regal plumes, the couch of state! [o]
Still, where it moves, the wise in council wait!
See now borne forth the monstrous mask of gold, [1]
And ebon chair [also 1] of many a serpent-fold;
These now exchang'd for gifts that thrice surpass
The wondrous ring, and lamp, and horse of brass. [p]
What long-drawn tube transports the gazer home, [2]
Kindling with stars at noon the ethereal dome?
'Tis here: and here circles of solid light [1 again]
Charm with another self the cheated sight;
As man to man another self disclose,
That now with terror starts, with triumph glows!

[1: F. Columbus, c. 28 34. & 69.]

[2: For the effects of the telescope, and the mirror, on an uncultivated mind, see Wallis's Voyage round the World, c. 2 & 6.]


CANTO X.
Cora--luxuriant vegetation--the Humming-bird--the Fountain of Youth.

--Then CORA came, the youngest of her race,
And in her hands she hid her lovely face;
Yet oft by stealth a timid glance she cast,
And now with playful step the Mirror pass'd,
Each bright reflection brighter than the last!
And oft behind it flew, and oft before;
The more she search'd, pleas'd and perplex'd the more!
And look'd and laugh'd, and blush'd with quick surprize;
Her lips all mirth, all ecstasy her eyes!
But soon the telescope attracts her view;
And lo, her lover in his light canoe
Rocking, at noon-tide, on the silent sea,
Before her lies! It cannot, cannot be.
Late as he left the shore, she linger'd there,
Till, less and less, he melted into air!--
Sigh after sigh steals from her gentle frame,
And say--that murmur--was it not his name?
She turns, and thinks; and, lost in wild amaze,
Gazes again, and could for ever gaze!
Nor can thy flute, ALONSO, now excite,
As in VALENCIA, when, with fond delight,
FRANCISCA, waking, to the lattice flew,
So soon to love and to be wretched too!
Hers thro' a convent-grate to send her last adieu.
--Yet who now comes uncall'd; and round and round,
And near and nearer flutters to its sound;
Then stirs not, breathes not--on enchanted ground?
Who now lets fall the flowers she cull'd to wear
When he, who promis'd, should at eve be there;
And faintly smiles, and hangs her head aside
The tear that glistens on her cheek to hide?
Ah, who but CORA?--till inspir'd, possess'd,
At once she springs, and clasps it to her breast!

Soon from the bay the mingling croud ascends,
Kindred first met! by sacred instinct Friends!
Thro' citron groves, and fields of yellow maize, [1]
Thro' plantain-walks where not a sun-beam plays.
Here blue savannas fade into the sky.
There forests frown in midnight majesty;
Ceiba, [q] and Indian fig, and plane sublime,
Nature's first-born, and reverenc'd by Time!
There sits the bird that speaks! [2] there, quivering, rise
Wings that reflect the glow of evening skies!
Half bird, half fly, [r] the fairy king of flowers [3]
Reigns there, and revels thro' the fragrant hours; [s]
Gem full of life, and joy, and song divine,
Soon in the virgin's graceful ear to shine. [4]
'Twas he that sung, if antient Fame speaks truth,
"Come! follow, follow to the Fount of Youth!
I quaff the ambrosial mists that round it rise,
Dissolv'd and lost in dreams of Paradise!"
For there call'd forth, to bless a happier hour,
It met the sun in many a rainbow-shower!
Murmuring delight, its living waters roll'd
'Mid branching palms and amaranths of gold! [5]

[1: Ætas est illis aurea. Apertis vivunt hortis. P. Martyr, dec. I. 3.]

[2: The Parrot, as described by Aristotle. Hist. Animal, viii. 12.]

[3: The Humming-bird. Kakopit (florum regulus) is the name of an Indian bird, referred to this class by Seba.]

[4: Il sert après sa mort àparer les jeunes Indiennes, qui portent en pendans d'oreilles deux de ces charmans oiseaux. Buffon.]

[5: According to an antient tradition. See Oviedo, Vega, Herrera, &c. Not many years afterwards a Spaniard of distinction wandered every where in search of it; and no wonder, as Robertson observes, when Columbus himself could imagine that he had found the seat of Paradise,]


CANTO XI.
Evening--a banquet--the ghost of Cazziva.

Her leaves at length the conscious tamarind clos'd,
And from wild sport the marmoset repos'd;
Fresh from the lake the breeze of twilight blew,
And vast and deep the mountain-shadows grew;
When many a fire-fly, shooting thro' the glade,
Spangled the locks of many a lovely maid,
Who now danc'd forth to strew His path with flowers.
And hymn His welcome to celestial bowers. [1]
There od'rous lamps adorn'd the festal rite,
And guavas blush'd as in the vales of light, [2]
--There silent sat many an unbidden Guest, [3]
Whose stedfast looks a secret dread impress'd;
Not there forgot the sacred fruit that fed
At nightly feasts the Spirits of the Dead,
Mingling in scenes that mirth to mortals give,
Tho' by their sadness known from those that live.
There met, as erst, within the wonted grove,
Unmarried girls and youths that died for love!
Sons now beheld their antient sires again;
And sires, alas, their sons in battle slain!
But whence that sigh? 'Twas from a heart that broke!
And whence that voice? As from the grave it spoke!
And who, as unresolv'd the feast to share,
Sits half-withdrawn in faded splendour there?
'Tis he of yore, the warrior and the sage,
Whose lips have mov'd in prayer from age to age;
Whose eyes, that wander'd as in search before,
Now on COLUMBUS fix'd--to search no more!
CAZZIVA, [4] gifted in his day to know
The gathering signs of a long night of woe;
Gifted by Those who give but to enslave;
No rest in death! no refuge in the grave!
--With sudden spring as at the shout of war,
He flies! and, turning in his flight, from far
Glares thro' the gloom like some portentous star!
Unseen, unheard!--Hence, Minister of Ill! [5]
Hence, 'tis not yet the hour; tho' come it will!
They that foretold--too soon shall they fulfil; [6]
When forth they rush as with the torrent's sweep, [7]
And deeds are done that make the Angels weep!--

Hark, o'er the busy mead the shell [8] proclaim
Triumphs, and masques, and high heroic games.
And now the old sit round; and now the young
Climb the green boughs, the murmuring doves among.
Who claims the prize, when winged feet contend;
When twanging bows the flaming arrows [9] send?
Who stands self-centred in the field of fame,
And, grappling, flings to earth a giant's frame?
Whilst all, with anxious hearts and eager eyes,
Bend as he bends, and, as he rises, rise!
And CORA'S self, in pride of beauty here,
Trembles with grief and joy, and hope and fear!
(She who, the fairest, ever flew the first,
With cup of balm to quench his burning thirst;
Knelt at his head, her fan-leaf in her hand,
And humm'd the air that pleas'd him, while she fann'd)
How blest his lot!--tho', by the Muse unsung,
His name shall perish, when his knell is rung.

That night, transported, with a sigh I said
"'Tis all a dream!"--Now, like a dream, 'tis fled;
And many and many a year has pass'd away,
And I alone remain to watch and pray!
Yet oft in darkness, on my bed of straw,
Oft I awake and think on what I saw!
The groves, the birds, the youths, the nymphs recall,
And CORA, loveliest, sweetest of them all!

[1: P. Martyr, dec. i. 5.]

[2: They believed that the souls of good men were conveyed to a pleasant valley, abounding in guavas and other delicious fruits. Herrera, I. iii. 3. F Columbus, c. 62.]

[3: "The dead walk abroad in the night, and feast with the living;" (F. Columbus, c. 62) and "eat of the fruit called Guannàba." P. Martyr, dec. I. 9.]

[4: An antient Cacique, in his life-time and after his death, employed by the Zemi to alarm his people. See F. Columbus, c. 62.]

[5: The Author is speaking in his inspired character. Hidden things arc revealed to him, and placed before his mind as if they were present.]

[6: Nor could they (the Powers of Darkness) have more effectually prevented the progress of the Faith, than by desolating the New World; by burying nations alive in mines, or consigning them in all their errors to the sword. Relacion de B. de las Casas.]

[7: Not man alone, but many other animals became extinct there.]

[8: P. Martyr, dec. iii. c. 7.]

[9: Rochefort. c. xx. p. 559.]


CANTO XII.
A Vision.

Still would I speak of Him before I went,
Who among us a life of sorrow spent, [u]
And, dying, left a world his monument;
Still, if the time allow'd! My Hour draws near;
But He will prompt me when I faint with fear.
---Alas, He hears me not! He cannot hear!

* * * * *

Twice the Moon fill'd her silver urn with light.
Then from the Throne an Angel wing'd his flight;
He, who unfix'd the compass, and assign'd
O'er the wild waves a pathway to the wind;
Who, while approach'd by none but Spirits pure,
Wrought, in his progress thro' the dread obscure,
Signs like the ethereal bow--that shall endure! [1]
Before the great Discoverer, laid to rest,
He stood, and thus his secret soul address'd. [2]
"The wind recalls thee; its still voice obey.
Millions await thy coming; hence, away.
To thee blest tidings of great joy consign'd,
Another Nature, and a new Mankind!
The vain to dream, the wise to doubt shall cense;
Young men be glad, and old depart in peace! [3]
Hence! tho' assembling in the fields of air,
Now, in a night of clouds, thy Foes prepare
To rock the globe with elemental wars,
And dash the floods of ocean to the stars; [4]
To bid the meek repine, the valiant weep,
And Thee restore thy Secret to the Deep! [5]
Not then to leave Thee! to their vengeance cast,
Thy heart their aliment, their dire repast! [6]
To other eyes shall MEXICO unfold
Her feather'd tapestries, [7] and roofs of gold.
To other eyes, from distant cliff descried, [x]
Shall the PACIFIC roll his ample tide.
Chains thy reward! beyond the ATLANTIC wave
Hung in thy chamber, buried in thy grave! [y]
Thy reverend form [z] to time and grief a prey,
A phantom wandering in the light of day!
What tho' thy grey hairs to the dust descend,
Their scent shall track thee, track thee to the end; [8]
Thy sons reproach'd with their great father's fame,
And on his world inscrib'd another's name!
That world a prison-house, full of sights of woe,
Where groans burst forth, and tears in torrents flow!
These gardens of the sun, sacred to song,
By dogs of carnage, howling loud and long, [9]
Swept--till the voyager, in the desert air, [a]
Starts back to hear his alter'd accents there! [10]
Not thine the olive, but the sword to bring,
Not peace, but war! Yet from these shores shall spring
Peace without end; [11] from these, with blood defil'd,
Spread the pure spirit of thy Master mild!
Here, in His train, shall arts and arms attend, [b]
Arts to adorn, and arms but to defend.
Assembling here, all nations shall be blest; [c]
The sad be comforted; the weary rest:
Untouch'd shall drop the fetters from the slave; [d]
And He shall rule the world he died to save!
Hence, and rejoice. The glorious work is done.
A spark is thrown that shall eclipse the sun!
And, tho' bad men shall long thy course pursue,
As erst the ravening brood o'er chaos flew, [12]
He, whom I serve, shall vindicate his reign;
The spoiler spoil'd of all; [e] the slayer slain; [13]
The tyrant's self, oppressing and opprest,
Mid gems and gold unenvied and unblest: [14]
While to the starry sphere thy name shall rise,
(Not there unsung thy generous enterprise!)
Thine in all hearts to dwell--by Fame enshrin'd,
With those, the Few, that live but for Mankind."

[1: It is remarkable that these phenomena still remain among the mysteries of nature.]

[2: Te tua fata docebo. Virg.----Saprai di tua vita il viaggio. Dante.]

[3: P. Martyr. Epist, 133. 152.]

[ 4: When he entered the Tagus, all the seamen ran from all parts to behold, as it were some wonder, a ship that had escaped so terrible a storm. F. Columbus, c. 40.]

[5: I wrote on a parchment that I had discovered what I had promised! --and, having put it into a cask, I threw it into the sea. Ibid. c. 37.]

[6: See the Eumenides of Æschylus, v. 305, &c.]

[7: Clavigero. VII. 52.]

[8: See the Eumenides. v. 246.]

[9: One of these, on account of his extraordinary sagacity and fierceness, received the full allowance of a soldier. His name was Bezerillo.]

[10: No unusual effect of an exuberant vegetation. 'The air was so vitiated,' says an African traveller, 'that our torches burnt dim, and seemed ready to be extinguished; and even the human voice lost its natural tone.']

[11: See Washington's farewell address to his fellow-citizens.]

[12: See Paradise Lost. X.]

[13: Cortes, Pizarro.--'Almost all,' says Las Casas, 'have perished. The innocent blood, which they had shed, cried aloud for vengeance; the sighs, the tears of so many victims went up before God.']

[14: L'Espagne a fâit comme ce roi insensé qui demanda que tout ce qu'il toucheroit se convertit en or, et qui fut obligé de revenir aux dieux pour les prier de finir sa misère. Montesquieu.]



On the two last leaves, and written in another hand, are some stanzas in the romance or ballad measure of the Spaniards. The subject is an adventure soon related.

Thy lonely watch-tower, Larenille,
Had lost the western sun;
And loud and long from hill to hill
Echoed the evening-gun,
When Hernan, rising on his oar,
Shot like an arrow from the shore.
--"Those lights are on St. Mary's Isle;
They glimmer from the sacred pile." [1]
The waves were rough; the hour was late.
But soon across the Tinto borne,
Thrice he blew the signal-horn,
He blew and would not wait.
Home by his dangerous path he went;
Leaving, in rich habiliment,
Two Strangers at the Convent-gate.

They ascended by steps hewn out in the rock; and, having asked for admittance, were lodged there,

Brothers in arms the Guests appear'd;
The Youngest with a Princely grace!
Short and sable was his beard,
Thoughtful and wan his face.
His velvet cap a medal bore,
And ermine fring'd his broider'd vest;
And, ever sparkling on his breast,
An image of St. John he wore. [2]

The Eldest had a rougher aspect, and there was craft in his eye. He stood a little behind in a long black mantle, his hand resting upon the hilt of his sword; and his white hat and white shoes glittered in the moon-shine. [3]

"Not here unwelcome, tho' unknown.
Enter and rest!" the Friar said.
The moon, that thro' the portal shone,
Shone on his reverend head.
Thro' many a court and gallery dim
Slowly he led, the burial-hymn
Swelling from the distant choir.
But now the holy men retire;
The arched cloisters issuing thro'
In long long order, two and two.
* * * * *
When other sounds had died away,
And the waves were heard alone,
They enter'd, tho' unus'd to pray,
Where God was worshipp'd, night and day,
And the dead knelt round in stone;
They enter'd, and from aisle to aisle
Wander'd with folded arms awhile,
Where on his altar-tomb reclin'd [f]
The crosier'd Abbot; and the Knight
In harness for the Christian fight,
His hands in supplication join'd;--
Then said as in a solemn mood,
"Now stand we where COLUMBUS stood!"
* * * * *
"PEREZ, [4] thou good old man," they cried,
"And art thou in thy place of rest?--
Tho' in the western world His grave, [5] [g]
That other world, the gift He gave, [6]
Would ye were sleeping side by side!
Of all his friends He lov'd thee best."
* * * * *
The supper in the chamber done,
Much of a Southern Sea they spake,
And of that glorious City [7] won
Near the setting of the Sun,
Thron'd in a silver lake;
Of seven kings in chains of gold [8]--
And deeds of death by tongue untold,
Deeds such as breath'd in secret there
Had shaken the Confession-chair!

The Eldest swore by our Lady, [9] the Youngest by his conscience; [10] while the Franciscan, sitting by in his grey habit, turned away and crossed himself again and again. "Here is a little book," said he at last, "the work of one in his shroud below. It tells of things you have mentioned; and, were Cortes and Pizarro here, it might perhaps make them reflect for a moment." The Youngest smiled as he took it into his hand. He read it aloud to his companion with an unfaltering voice; but, when he laid it down, a silence ensued; nor was he seen to smile again that night. [11] "The curse is heavy," said he at parting, "but Cortes may live to disappoint it."--"Aye, and Pizarro too!"

[1: The Convent of Rábida.]

[2: See Bernal Diaz, c. 203; and also a well-known portrait of Cortes, ascribed to Titian. Cortes was now in the 43d, Pizarro in the 60th year of his age.]

[3: Augustin Zaratè, lib. iv. c. 9.]

[4: Late Superior of the House.]

[5: In the chancel of the cathedral of St. Domingo.]

[6: The words of the epitaph. "A Castilia y a Leon nuevo Mundo dio Colon."]

[7: Mexico.]

[8: Afterwards the arms of Cortes and his descendants.]

[9: Fernandez, lib. ii. c. 63.]

[10: B. Diaz, c. 203.]

[11: 'After the death of Guatimotzin,' says B. Diaz, 'he became gloomy and restless; rising continually from his bed, and wandering about in the dark.'.--'Nothing prospered with him; and it was ascribed to the curses he was loaded with.']


A circumstance, recorded by Herrera, renders this visit not improbable. 'In May, 1528, Cortes arrived unexpectedly at Palos; and, soon after he had landed, he and Pizarro met and rejoiced; and it was remarkable that they should meet, as they were two of the most renowned men in the world.' B. Diaz makes no mention of the interview; but, relating an occurrence that took place at this time in Palos, says, 'that Cortes was now absent at Nuestra Senora de la Rábida.' The Convent is within half a league of the town.

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