Page images
PDF
EPUB

For triumph. Nor there wanting a led train
Of steeds in rich caparison, for show
Of solemn entry. Round about the king,
Warriors, his watch and ward, from every tribe
Drawn out. Of these a thousand each selects,
Of size and comeliness above their peers,
Pride of their race. Radiant their armour: some
In silver cased, scale over scale, that play'd
All pliant to the litheness of the limb;
Some mail'd in twisted gold, link within link
Flexibly ring'd and fitted, that the eye
Beneath the yielding panoply pursued,
When act of war the strength of man provoked,
The motion of the muscles, as they work'd
In rise and fall. On each left thigh a sword
Swung in the broider'd baldric: each right hand
Grasp'd a long shadowing spear. Like them, their chiefs
Array'd ; save on their shields of solid ore,
And on their helm, the graver's toil had wrought
Its subtlety in rich device of war :
And o’er their mail, a robe, Punicean dye,
Gracefully play'd; where the wing'd shuttle, shot
By cunning of Sidonian virgins, wove
Broidure of many-coloured figures rare.

Bright glow'd the sun, and bright the burnish'd mail
Of thousands ranged, whose pace to song kept time;
And bright the glare of spears, and gleam of crests,
And flaunt of banners flashing to and fro
The noon-day beam. Beneath their coming, earth
Wide glitter'd. Seen afar, amidst the pomp,
Gorgeously mail’d, but more by pride of port
Known, and superior stature, than rich trim
Of war and regal ornament, the king,
Throned in triumphal car, with trophies graced,
Stood eminent. The lifting of his lance
Shone like a sunbeam. O'er his armour flow'd

A robe, imperial mantle, thickly starr'd
With blaze of orient gems; the clasp, that bound
Its gather'd folds his ample chest athwart,
Sapphire; and o'er his casque, where rubies burnt,
A cherub flamed, and waved his wings in gold.”

" The song of the virgins is also written with spirit and elegance.”

Daughters of Israel ! praise the Lord of Hosts !
Break into song! with harp and tabret lift
Your voices up, and weave with joy the dance:
And to your twinkling footsteps toss aloft
Your arms; and from the flash of cymbals shake
Sweet clangor, measuring the giddy maze.

Shout ye! and ye! make answer, Saul hath slain
His thousands; David his ten thousands slain.

Sing a new song. I saw them in their rage, I saw the gleam of spears, the flash of swords, That rang against our gates. The warder's watch Ceased not. Tower answer'd tower: a warning voice Was heard without; the cry of wo within ! The shriek of virgins, and the wail of her, The mother, in her anguish, who fore-wept, Wept at the breast her babe, as now no more.

Shout ye! and ye! make answer, Saul hath slain His thousands; David his ten thousands slain.

Sing a new song. Spake not th' insulting foe? I will pursue, o’ertake, divide the spoil. My hand shall dash their infants on the stones : The ploughshare of my vengeance shall draw out The furrow, where the tower and fortress rose. Before my chariot Israel's chiefs shall clank Their chains. Each side, their virgin daughters groan; Erewhile to weave my conquest on their looms.

Shout ye! and ye! make answer, Saul hath slain His thousands; David his ten thousands slain.

Thou heard'st, O God of battle! Thou, whose look Knappeth the spear in sunder. In thy strength A youth, thy chosen, laid their champion low. Saul, Saul pursues, o'ertakes, divides the spoil ; Wreaths round our necks these chains of gold, and robes Our limbs with floating crimson. Then rejoice, Daughters of Israel! from your cymbals shake Sweet clangor, hymning God, the Lord of Hosts !

Ye! shout! and ye! make answer, Saul hath slain His thousands ; David his ten thousands slain.

Such the hymn'd harmony, from voices breath'd
Of virgin-minstrels, of each tribe the prime
For beauty, and fine form, and artful touch
Of instrument, and skill in dance and song;
Choir answering choir, that on to Gibeah led
The victors back in triumph. On each neck
Play'd chains of gold; and, shadowing their charms
With colour like the blushes of the morn,
Robes, gift of Saul, round their light limbs, in toss
Of cymbals, and the many-mazed dance,
Floated like roseate clouds. Thus these came on
In dance and song : then multitudes that swellid
The pomp of triumph, and in circles ranged
Around the altar of Jehovah, brought
Freely their offerings; and with one accord
Sang, “ Glory, and praise, and worship, unto God.'

Loud rang the exultation. 'Twas the voice
Of a free people, from impending chains
Redeem'd: a people proud, whose bosom beat
With fire of glory and renown in arms,
Triumphant. Loud the exultation rang.

There, many a wife, whose ardent gaze from far
Singled the warrior, whose glad eye gave back
Her look of love. There, many a grandsire held
A blooming boy aloft, and midst th' array

In triumph, pointing with his staff, exclaim'd,
'Lo, my brave son! I now may die in peace.'

There, many a beauteous virgin, blushing deep,
Flung back her veil, and, as the warrior came,
Hail'd her betroth’d. But chiefly on one alone
All dwelt.”

CHAP. XVII.

AFRICAN SKETCHES.

“ I wish,” said Egeria, one evening after Benedict had come home to their chambers in the Paper Buildings, from his nightly potched egg and pint of Burton at Offley's, “ that some judicious editor would compile a volume of striking passages from the different numerous publications which we have recently had respecting Africa. It is impossible to read them all ;-indeed it would be a task like that of crossing the deserts to attempt it, so many pages are filled with arid and uninteresting details ; and yet I am not aware of any class of books which contain more new and curious matter concerning man, than the works of the African travellers. This evening I have been looking over Burckhardt's Travels in Nubia, which, though far from being an entertaining performance, would, nevertheless, furnish several agreeable and impressive sketches.Take, for example, his account of the distress of thirst in a caravan,”

“After five days march in the mountains, their stock of water was exhausted, nor did they know where they were. They resolved, therefore, to direct their course towards the setting sun, hoping thus to reach the Nile. After two days thirst, fifteen slaves and one of the merchants died. Another of them, an Ababde, who had ten camels with him, thinking that the camels might know better than their masters where water was to be found, desired his comrades to tie him fast upon the saddle of his strongest camel, that he might not fall down from weakness; and thus he parted from them, permitting his camels to take their own way ; but neither the man nor his camels were ever heard of afterwards. On the eighth day after leaving Owareyk, the survivors came in sight of the mountains of Shigre, which they immediately recognized, but their strength was quite exhausted, and neither men nor beasts were able to move any farther. Lying down under a rock, they sent two of their servants, with the two strongest remaining camels, in search of water. Before these two men could reach the mountain, one of them dropped off his camel deprived of speech, and able only to wave his hands to his comrade as a signal that he desired to be left to his fate. The survivor then continued his route, but such was the effect of thirst upon him, that his eyes grew dim, and he lost the road, though he had often travelled over it before, and had been perfectly acquainted with it. Having wandered about for a long time, he alighted under the shade of a tree, and tied the camel to one of its branches; the beast, however, smelt the water, (as the Arabs express it,) and, wearied as it was, broke its halter, and set off galloping furiously in the direction of the spring, which, as it afterwards appeared, was at half an hour's distance. The man, well understanding the camel's action, endeavoured to follow its footsteps, but could only move a few yards ;

« PreviousContinue »