1785
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Conclusion of the Squire's Tale.]

Cambuscan; or, the Squire's Tale of Chaucer. Modernized by Mr. Boyse; continued from Spenser's Fariy Queen, by Mr. Ogle; and concluded by Mr. Sterling.

Rev. Joseph Sterling


97 Prior stanzas: a conclusion added to George Ogle's version of Spenser's continuation of Chaucer, first published in 1741. The characters all reappear and the design is suitably improbable. Joseph Sterling's manner is plainly that of the later eighteenth century, substituting ethnographic details for the allegory developed in the first two parts. In his hands the Squire's Tale becomes an oriental tale written in the manner of the Arabian Nights, which had appeared in an English translation from the French, 1705-08. That Sterling was a close student of romance is very apparent.

Robert Burns owned a copy of Sterling's Poems (1789) and left some annotations in "The Squires Tale." The books is now in the Dumfries Museum.

Preface: "This Poem was continued by Spenser, and admired by Milton. It has been considerably improved by Mr. BOYSE, the Modernizer. The Concluder feels his poetic powers far inferior to those of CHAUCER and SPENSER; but as he endeavours to amuse, hope for the indulgence of the Public" p. 4.

Thomas Ogle: "Unfortunately, for so we must say, Chaucer left his poem unfinished; not, however, without having marked out the line which he intended to pursue. In this track, Spenser followed. The false taste which afterward extensively diffused itself, and with many of our poets expelled away ever thing which was natural or simple, to substitute quibble and conceit, had influence sufficient occasionally to mislead even Spenser. It possessed a kind of talismanic power; and like the 'melancholy rock,' it rendered the poet dull, whenever he came within the sphere of its activity: but Spenser's subject was not the most favourable; he was limited by his predecessor to the mere detail of a battle, which differs from similar contests only by the improbability of its events. He therefore appears inferior: — but inferior to whom? to Chaucer. To these succeeds Mr. Sterling; and when we consider the difficulty of the task, we must allow that he has acquitted himself with credit. The subjects of his description are generally feats of arms; and he has related them with animation and magnificence" Monthly Review NS 3 (November 1790) 272.

Critical Review: "From the counterpart of these lines the reader may conceive how much in general throughout this book the homely sketches of our old bard are embellished by the vivid colouring of Mr. Sterling. Our poetical patriarch appears indeed like a Jacob changing the garb of primitive simplicity for his son's coat of many colours. We mean no reflection on the plainness of the one, or the finery of the other. Both authors are doubtless entitled to approbation; but their merits are of a very different nature.... The second part is pretty closely copied from the second and third cantos of the fourth book of Spenser's Fairy Queen; on which in general it improves" 67 (May 1789) 360.

Earl R. Wasserman: "The Reverend Joseph Sterling was deeply steeped in the literature of the Italian Renaissance and the civilization of the Middle Ages, a point in which he took great pride" Elizabethan Poetry in the Eighteenth Century (1947) 137.

In Of Chaucer, Leigh Hunt discusses a proposal for completing the Squire's Tale and rejects the idea of using the Spenserian stanza for such a purpose: "We have an infinite regard for Spenser; but, in despite of our love for Italian romance, all stanzas, particularly those that are remarkable as such, appear to us to be as unfit for the ease and freedom of narrative poetry, as a horse which should have a trick of stopping at every twenty yards, whether you wanted him to or not. The couplet, we think, would be the best" The Round Table (1817) 1:132.



Algarsife questing after high emprize,
Impell'd, meanwhile, thro' air the brazen steed,
He shap'd his oblique road 'tween earth and skies,
From dull incumbrance of our planet freed:
The magic sabre pendant by his side,
For deeds of danger was his soul prepar'd;
He shook the heron's plume with martial pride:
Such uncouth guise the subject nations scar'd.
Thus the red comet shoots thro' aether's fields,
And to the sons of men dismay and terror yields.

Sarra's imperial towr's he left behind,
And the mild green of Sogd's delicious vale;
He pass'd those meads where Oxus' waters wind,
And Cachmire's interchange of hill and dale:
Then tow'rds the golden South he bent his course,
Where potent Indus Persia's border laves;
Now banks abrupt restrain his headlong force,
Now o'er the level plains he pours his waves:
Prolific Indus, like fam'd Egypt's Nile,
Diffuses plenty round, and meliorates the soil.

Ev'n on the utmost margin of the flood
Two mighty hosts advanc'd in long array;
Their serried spears uprose an iron wood;
Their splendid bucklers dimm'd the eye of day;
The gorgeous ensigns wanton'd in the wind,
Emblaz'd with costly pearl, and flaming gold:
Full in the van the haughty chieftains shin'd,
Of stature lofty, and demeanor bold.
This prospect touch'd with joy the truly brave,
And to the dastard heart a transient courage gave.

Hither the hardy Persian leads his bands,
To try the conflict of wide-wasting war;
Oppos'd to him the Indian monarch stands,
With all the legions of rich Malabar:
The beauteous Thedora is the cause of strife,
Fair as the diamond's or the full-moon's beam:
The Persian seeks the damsel for his wife;
For her he sighs, for her his sorrows stream.
Revenge, at length, inflames this angry lord;
Against her father's realms he draws the ruthless sword.

In combat fierce the thronging squadrons clos'd,
Loud was the clang of helms and clashing shields:
Hauberk to hauberk, sword to sword oppos'd,
Grim Mars in thunder echoed round the fields.
Algarsife hov'ring in mid-air beheld
The dubious contest with an eager eye:
The manly wish his beating bosom swell'd,
His knightly prowess in the fray to try:
Now on the battle's farthest edge he spied
A rich Pavilion, grac'd with gems and silken pride.

Beneath the shadow of a waving palm,
Which gently court'd ev'ry breeze that blew
(The air all fragrance, and the earth all balm),
The stately tent was rais'd of azure hue:
Here Thedora, the fatal maid, reclin'd,
Musing on each event of doubtful war;
The gorgeous majesty of either Ind
Must bow, perhaps, to Persia's luckier star:
Frequent she sigh'd, and shed the briny tear,
When the dull groan of death assail'd her list'ning ear.

Thus the grey willow mourns beside the brook,
Stealing his brown wave under secret shade,
Mere ill-starr'd shepherds bang their useless crook,
Whence wreaths of sorrow for the love-lorn maid.
Her wondrous beauty dims the Tartar's sight,
He feels a wound from Cupid's golden dart;
Soon from his airy steed dismounts the Knight,
T' explain the feelings of his gentle heart.
The plumed helmet from his brow he takes;
Mild are his soothing words; the flow'rs thus Zephyr wakes.

"O fairer than our Prophet's favour'd green,
The rose of Shiraz on thy cheek prevails;
Like Leb'non's cedar is thy stately mien,
Thy breath is sweet as Tibet's musky gales.
Tho' shades of sorrow veil thy radiant eyes,
No dim suffusion can their glory shroud;
Thus Cynthia's bow shines out thro' dusky skies,
And virgin silver lines the sable cloud.
Say, charming Princess, whence thy troubles spring:
Behold thy servant here, the son of Sarra's king."

With scornful eye the Princess view'd the chief,
And, as rage prompted, haughtily reply'd,
"Go lend thy aid to those who need relief
Avaunt! all further converse is deny'd."
Algarsife hears indignant, yet he loves;
Resistless beauties thro' her anger shine;
Celestial graces speak while she reproves,
A thousand Cupids round her person twine;
Oh! had her face in heav'nly smiles been drest,
Above all earthly men Algarsife had been blest.

Now at the tent arriv'd a wounded knight,
His helm unplum'd, his buckler cleft in twain.
He cry'd, "O Princess, speedy be thy flight;
The Indians yield, thy royal father's slain."
What tongue can paint fair Thedora's distress?
Her pride, her passion the high dame forsook:
Around her tent the hostile squadrons press,
Now on the Tartar she vouchsafes to look:
"Forgive (she says)! thy semblance speaks thee brave;
O save an helpless maid, O Prince of Sarra, save!"

This lenient soon the warrior's wrath allay'd,
Love brac'd his arm, love made his courage strong;
In circles dire he wound the fatal blade,
And rush'd impetuous 'midst the Persian throng.
Thus the bold eagle pounces on his prey,
Which, with keen vision, he descries from far.
Algarsife, shone the hero of the day,
Like glitt'ring Sirius, or Orion's star;
The Mede and Persian fled, where'er he turn'd;
Around the gallant Knight the rage of battle burn'd.

The fierce Hyrcanian's strength's of no avail,
The Parthian's blunted arrows idly fall;
The jav'lins rattle on Algarsife's mail,
And quick rebound, as from a brazen wall.
The angry Sultan chafed with high disdain
To see his legions shrink beneath the sword;
Headlong he rush'd athwart th' ensanguin'd plain,
To measure faulchions with the Tartar lord.
Algarsife saw his haughty foe draw nigh;
Rage on his forehead flam'd, defiance in his eye.

As two tall gallies off Biserta's shore,
Fraught with the iron instruments of death,
Work'd thro' the billows by the dashing oar,
In fierce fight grapple for the victor's wreath;
Thus for fair Thedora clos'd each hardy knight.
Revenge and love inflam'd the Sultan's breast,
Love made Algarsife terrible in fight:
The keenest sword deserv'd the lady best.
A wondrous stroke the valiant Persian lent;
The Tartar bow'd his head, his helm of proof was bent.

Algarsife soon recover'd from the blow;
And, like a wounded serpent swell'd with ire,
He smote with so much fellness on his foe,
That from his eye-balls flash'd the living fire.
Where the broad shoulder to the neck is knit,
The brand descended with resistless sway:
In fatal spot the Persian king was hit.
The griding steel his sword-arm lopp'd away.
The sever'd limb now trembled on the ground;
The body follow'd soon, and fell with thund'ring sound.

Th' astonish'd Persians see their monarch die,
Revenge and grief by turns possess their soul;
All on the Usbeck chief their weapons try;
What single arm can such an host controul?
Algarsife finds to numbers he must yield:
To guard the Princess is his special care;
He screens the maid behind his ample shield,
Tho' arrows whiz around, tho' lances glare.
At length he gains the river's flow'ry side,
Where stands the brazen steed, by all men undescried.

He turns the pin, then speaks the secret charm,
And mounts aloft: the Princess sits behind:
Swift as the arrow from the Bactrian's arm,
He cuts the skies, and leaves the war behind.
From rich Sabaean shores to Egypt's fane
The phoenix flies: the feather'd tribes behold
Th unrivall'd glories of his sweeping train,
His plumes of purple, and his eye of gold.
Thus the scar'd Persians see Algarsife rise:
In vain their missles fly, in vain their rending cries.

Algarsife bent his flight tow'rds Caff's wild hills,
And saw the springs of Ganges and of Ind;
Those mighty rivers, swell'd by countless rills,
Thro' orient realms in pomp majestic wind.
Caff's horrent hills this solid globe surround;
Rocks pil'd on rocks sustain the starry skies:
The summit with eternal snow it crown'd,
To whose vast height no eagle's wing can rise:
Here dusky mists and exhalations form;
Here angry meteors glare, here broods the howling storm.

And here the potent Sultan of the East
The evil Genii in dark cells confin'd;
Wise Salomon, to whose sagacious breast
The Lord of Nature wondrous pow'rs assign'd:
In flinty caverns here the Demons rave,
Hurling forth clouds of smoke and floods of flame:
God and his Prophet impiously they brave,
And dare to violate high Allah's name.
The Usbeck heard the grating voice of pain,
The scorpion's sounding lash, the clank of iron chain.

Eblis, when brave Algarsife he descry'd,
Eblis, the leader of that murky crew,
Swoln with deep anguish, and malicious pride,
Against the faithful to the Prophet flew.
Like a thick vapour from the ground he rose,
And with his darkness overcast the day:
To an unwieldy bulk the monster grows,
From ev'ry side he shoots a livid ray.
Tow'rds heaven's blue vault he spreads his dusky wings;
He wields a burning mace, which fiery sparkles flings.

Algarsife now beheld the evil sprite,
And to great Allah and his Prophet pray'd;
New vigor strung the sinews of the Knight,
He fac'd fierce Eblis with his magic blade.
Full at the Demon's head he aim'd a blow,
Who, tho' of frame immortal, felt a wound.
Blood, such as spirits shed, began to slow,
And drops of purple ichor stain'd the ground.
Bellowing grim Eblis fled: the rocky shore,
And Caff's encircling hills, re-echoed to the roar.

Much was the gentle Theodora oppress'd,
Malicious Eblis hop'd to see her fall:
But lo! the bird of Isaac shone confess'd!
(His plumes are stretch'd at the believer's call)
Delicious bev'rage in his bill he brought,
Which still'd each nerve, and lull'd corrosive care;
Swift is his flight as poet's glancing thought,
No bird more beauteous wings his way thro' air.
Green is his breast, his wings of scarlet hue,
His crest of shining white, his neck of glossy blue.

What bright rewards await the chosen few
Who love Religion, and her laws revere!
Their meads are freshen'd with the morning dew,
Damasco's rose, Obollah's stream is there.
To them the dark-ey'd Howries shall belong,
And silver waves o'er agate beds shall roll;
Soft nightingales shall pour the melting song,
T' attune each harsh discordance of the soul.
Such is their lot who bow at Mecca's shrine,
And at Medina pray, where stands the tomb divine.

Algarsife still his devious road pursu'd,
And with the setting sun to earth declin'd;
Then with the blushing dawn his toil renew'd,
When golden radiance o'er the landscape shin'd.
Much did he wish to soothe the Indian maid,
And dry her sorrows for her father's death:
"Unwise the man who mourns the parted shade,
And hopes by sighs to renovate the breath.
Death, cruel caitiff! when he hurls his dart,
Aims an unerring stroke, and deeply wounds the heart.

"Yet death can ease us from a world of woe,
From pining anguish, and convulsive pain:
Why should our tears for noble spirits flow?
Their life was trouble, but their end is gain.
Ours is the loss, who thro' this dreary vale
Must walk our journey of dull heavy years,
While active Mem'ry in the passing gale
Hears the departed friend, or thinks she hears;
Sees the lov'd image by the moon's wan beam,
Or mournful converse holds, entranc'd in nightly dream."

To beauteous Thedora thus Algarsife spoke;
His words were such as wisdom must approve:
The damsel view'd him with a soften'd look,
His kind attentions won her soul to love.
Now over Tibet's musky realms they flew,
And Kasgar's tow'rs in distant prospect lay;
A mountain's dusky summit rose to view,
When in the glimm'ring West had sunk the day.
Beneath the spreading shade the Princess slept,
While faithful watch and ward the gallant Usbeck kept.

But broken were the slumbers of the night,
And fearful dreams appall'd the sleeping fair;
Her father's spectre swam before her sight,
Algarsife seem'd to vanish into air.
Now with some favour'd rival was he seen
On beds of dalliance, and in bow'rs of rest;
He now appear'd along the listed green,
In single combat by his foe oppress'd;
Now in the eddying pool he whirl'd around,
He strove to gain the shore, but in the surge was drown'd.

Like perturbation seiz'd the Tartar's mind,
And wayward visions floated round his head;
His troubled spirit no repose could find,
His strength, his courage, and his mem'ry fled:
Worthless to him his Thedora appears,
Her beauties wither'd in their summer prime;
He sighs and mourns, with unavailing tears,
The cruel havoc of devouring time.
Now with the sun the Knight and Lady rose;
Their mutual love was gone, their hearts oblivion froze.

They hasten towards the mountain dark and steep,
Where at its foot a lazy river rolls;
On the damp sedgy bank they wail and weep,
For direful magic all their pow'r controuls.
Black grow their tongues, and faded is their bloom;
Their skins are shrivell'd, dimm'd their radiant eyes;
Yon sapphire vault is charg'd with murky gloom,
Each beam of hope, each bright idea flies:
On dark and dismal objects now they muse,
And stray 'midst cypress groves, and sad funereal yews.

This rock the Melancholy Mountain's nam'd,
Possess'd of potent talismanic pow'r;
Of hardest adamant the sides are fram'd,
And on its summit stands a sable tow'r,
Whence baleful Demshack sheds his influence round,
And sends his sprites the virtuous to annoy.
Luckless the stranger in his circle found,
The cursed elves his wonted peace destroy;
To deep distress for ever he's consign'd,
To blank distrust and doubt, which chill the noble mind.

Here numbers crowd beneath the twilight shade,
Where moping owls and boding ravens dwell:
Some mourn a parent, some the first-lovd maid,
Some dire disasters from feign'd friendship tell:
Such strange delusions the old wizard makes,
To plunge these wretches in eternal woes;
Their varied troubles his delight he makes,
Their tears the spring from whence his river flows.
Here brave Algarsife and his love remain,
To melancholy doom'd, coerc'd by magic chain.

Meantime Cambuscan over Sarra reign'd,
Bless'd with the joys of undisturb'd repose;
Impartial truth and justice he maintain'd,
Belov'd by friends, and dreadful to his foes.
But fickle Fortune's ever on the change,
Ev'n mighty kings to her caprice must bend;
Cambuscan soon must feel her influence strange,
And from his throne to humble state descend.
But virtue still shall shield the god-like man;
His sun shall brightly set, as it to rise began.

Now Cosroes came, who dwell'd by Oxus' shore:
His hair was silvered by the hand of age,
Deep was he vers'd in ev'ry mystic lore,
And Sarra own'd him for her wisest sage.
These words to good Cambuscan he addrest:
"Thy love to Allah, gracious Prince, is known,
Thy prompt obedience to his high behest,
Thy prayer and praise before the heav'nly throne;
In me his Prophet's messenger revere;
Mine are the words of truth, illustrious Sultan, hear,

"Much have I read each aspect of the skies;
Disastrous planets on thy empire frown:
See! from the North what angry meteors rise,
The bloody faulchion, and inverted crown:
I hear destruction in the sullen storm,
Which sounds so hollow from the mutt'ring East:
I see the lightning the broad oak deform,
And pierce th' imperial eagle's dauntless breast.
Such omens dire mischance to thee declare:
On thee Mars frowns malign, and shakes his lance for war.

A golden circlet shines round Mecca's fane,
See! rays of comfort from the holy tomb,
Zohara beams on Hejaz' sandy plain;
Her glowing radiance dissipates the gloom.
Lead not thy armies to th' embattled fields
Thy steps direct tow'rds Mecca's sacred walls;
Brave not the blast, but to its fury yield.
The bending reed is safe, the cedar falls.
Thy gallant sons 'midst hostile camps shall shine:
Theirs be the crimson sword, the olive-branch be thine."

Now came the partner of Cambuscan's reign,
And in her hand the magic mirror bore;
What countless legions crowd the crystal plain,
From Jaic's stream, from Volga's frozen shore!
"Behold (said Cosroes) thy unnumber'd foes,
The fierce Circassian leads his bands to war;
From ev'ry side the wave of battle flows,
Podolia's prince, and Russia's haughty czar.
From icy Tanais pours a mighty host;
Like locusts thick they swarm, and desolate the coast."

Cambuscan wish'd to try his martial force,
And head his warriors in the fields of fame;
But prudent Cosroes stopp'd his rapid course,
With sage advice he check'd his gen'rous flame.
In pilgrim's weeds the monarch was attir'd,
Eltheta wore a gown of sober grey;
Unknown to all but Cosroes they retir'd,
And left the palace at the close of day:
Then to his rural cell the sage return'd,
And for his sov'reign's weal his anxious bosom burn'd.

Thro' the thick forest walk'd the royal pair,
The glitt'ring crown and sceptre laid aside;
They felt the chillness of the midnight air,
The moon's dim ray and twinkling stars their guide.
Cambuscan thus his faithful consort cheers:
"Praise to great Allah for his mercies sent!
What matchless blessings mark'd our tranquil years!
His hand afflicts us for some good intent.
By grief the soul of man is purify'd.
Thus in the searching flame the golden ingot's try'd.

"And what is man, the pageant of an hour,
With crowns adorn'd, in ermin'd purple drest?
Short is his date, like the deciduous flow'r,
His life a fleeting glory at the best.
Shall I presume to combat with my God,
And wage proud warfare 'gainst his high decree!
No — let me humbly bow, and kiss the rod:
I feel the distance 'tween my God and me.
Calm resignation is the child of heav'n,
Fair as the setting sun in summer's glowing ev'n."

The banks of Oxus now the wand'rers past,
And the wide plains of fertile Khorashan;
They toil'd along Noubendigan's brown waste,
And cross'd the flow'ry vale of green Bavan.
Shiraz, at length, the weary travellers gain,
Shiraz, renown'd for maids, and gen'rous wine;
Abundant roses vermeil o'er the plain,
And raptur'd poets sing the lay divine.
A caravan of pilgrims here they found,
For Mecca's sacred shrine and fam'd Medina bound.

With them Cambuscan trac'd the arid lands
Which spread beyond Euphrates' foaming wave,
Where deadly Samiel whirls the scorching sands,
And whelms the stranger in a fiery grave
Wide as the sea the level stretches round;
No deep'ning verdure may relieve the eye,
Save where the grove of branching palm is found,
To shade the pilgrim from the fervid sky;
And if he hear the sound of tinkling rills,
He rushes to the spring, his empty cruise he fills.

But sad deception oft torments the swain,
When the false lake its silver face displays,
The shining vapor of the desert plain
Reflects, like glassy waves, the solar blaze:
From the parch'd tongue the mimic stream recedes,
The wretch in anguish rolls his haggard eyes.
Thus when in spring soft show'rs refresh the meads,
The transient rainbow from the shepherd flies:
Slow mov'd the pilgrims thro' the torrid wild,
Faint was their weary step, but hope their pain beguil'd.

On Irak's confine, in a winding dale
Their tents they pitch'd, to pass the sultry hours:
Lo! war's harsh sound rush'd on the loaded gale,
The furious Bedouin came with all his pow'rs.
The trembling caravan affrighted stands:
Too weak to combat with a mighty host,
To heav'n, in agony, they rear their hands:
Despair has seiz'd them, and their spirit's lost.
His homely surcoat off, Cambuscan's seen
Alone in splendid mail, to guard his much-lov'd queen.

Mean time Camballo, with Cambina fair,
And Triamondo, with his lovely mate,
Had met adventures strange, and perils rare;
Such is the chequer'd lot of man's estate.
Those gallant lords contemn'd soft beds of down,
And silken dalliance with the courtly dame:
They sought the lonely wild, where dangers frown,
To win bright honour, and a deathless name.
In knightly castles, and in ladies' bowers,
Certes they might have staid, and spent the lazy hours.

Long was the gentle Canace distress'd
To see her fav'rite Falcon inly pine;
Dull grew the splendid plumage of her breast,
Her head she droop'd — her eye had ceas'd to shine.
Still for the faithless Tercelet much she mourn'd,
He was her earliest and her latest care:
For him with constant ardor still she burn'd,
For him she offer'd up her daily pray'r,
"O may my Tercelet spread his beauteous wing,
Safe from the fowler's shaft, and far-destroying sling!

"May no rude storm impede his airy flight,
Nor soaring eagle wound in cruel war!
Soft be his mossy nest to pass the night,
In some sequester'd grove from danger far!
And when my frame shall be dissolv'd by death,
O might he know how true an heart I bore!
How that I nam'd him with my latest breath;
Love reign'd triumphant, all resentment o'er!"
Those tender strains the beauteous Princess heard;
Her woes she pitied much, and for her Falcon fear'd.

She now resolv'd the vagrant bird to find,
And tell the sorrows of his faithful mate;
She hop'd compassion would subdue his mind,
Whene'er he knew the Falcon's languid date.
Her Triamondo she persuades to go,
With sage Camballo, and his lovely wife:
Their noble breasts with equal friendship glow
Thro' all the dark vicissitudes of life:
Sarra's unbounded forests first they tried;
The Tercelet hence had flown, nor was his flight descried.

All Persia's ample realm they travell'd o'er,
And search'd each province with a curious eye
And now they saw rich Ormus' tepid shore,
Where lucid pearls with India's diamonds vie:
Where the light galley wafts them o'er the main,
And boldly thro' the dang'rous streights they sail;
With ev'ry nerve the lab'ring oar they strain,
And with their swelling canvas catch the gale.
The ocean's vast domain themselves they found,
The azure sky above, the foaming billows round.

Hard is the confict in the angry deep,
With adverse tides, with howling winds and waves;
In vain his road the pilot strives to keep,
Wet Notus blows, and purple Eurus raves:
One day is cover'd with a veil of clouds,
No screaming sea-mew dares to spread her plume;
His feeble ray in mist each planet shrouds,
Red lightnings only break the horrid gloom.
Arabia's spicy shore at length they reach,
And rest their weary limbs along the shelving beach.

Bold was the man who first from forests bore
The advent'rous pine, the foaming sea to plough;
With beating heart he view'd the less'ning shore,
And to blue Neptune offer'd up his vow.
What toils will not the love of gain surmount!
From clime to clime see hoary Avarice runs!
Of greatest perils making light account,
Of deadly midnight damps, and sickly suns:
And when dire Febris shall consume his frame,
His wealth he leaves behind, no glory marks his name.

Not so the gen'rous Knights of ancient times,
Who sought Fame soon, and wore her laurel long:
They live immortal in the poet's rhymes,
The fav'rite subjects of heroic song;
The choicest wits Cambuscan's line have sung,
In Woodstock's green shades their exploits were told,
By gentle Chaucer; Mulla's shores have rung
With Triamondo and Camballo bold,
Who now advanc'd along th' Arabian strand:
Sore buffeted by storms, with joy they trod the land.

Two moons they wander'd thro' those wide domains
Where the fierce Saracen for plunder roams;
The patient camel bears him o'er the plains,
Indignant of the rein, his coarser foams.
The fickle Tercelet in those wilds they sought:
But vain their labour and incessant care:
One day deep musing, sage Camballo, thought
His sister's ring might find his flight thro' air:
Some Genius might this potent gem obey,
Whose wondrous force is felt thro' ev'ry land and sea.

The ring he took, and under secret shade
Invok'd the spirits that with Eblis fell:
An angry Demon shot athwart the glade;
Proud was his gait, his surly frown was hell.
"Slave to the pow'rful seal, I here attend,
From realms of woe, where luckless Genii weep,
At thy desire thro' heav'n's blue fields to wend,
Or bear thy message thro' the gloomy deep."
The spectre ceas'd — and thus Camballo said,
"Say, where the wand'ring bird, which we have sought, is fled."

"To Shedad's paradise (the fiend reply'd)
By wondrous chance the vagrant bird has flown;
To ev'ry Mortal entrance is deny'd,
Save to the owner of thy ring alone.
In boundless deserts is green Irem plac'd,
With joyous spring and smiling freshness crown'd;
Thus blooms the rose amidst the steril waste;
Thus in dark caverns is the em'rald found.
By thee the Orient's boast may be survey'd,
By Efar first beheld, who sought his camel stray'd.

Once in Arabia haughty Shedad reign'd,
And humbled Asia own'd his high command;
By magic lore his empire was maintain'd,
And deep-read wizards came from ev'ry land.
In robes of lucid glory some were drest,
Some had the shaggy spoils of Scythia's shore;
Some proudly glitter'd with the dragon's crest,
Some shook the woodland with the lion's roar.
To all th' imperial mandate straight was giv'n,
To build a stately dome, which might ascend to heav'n.

Of rich materials was the fabric rais'd,
Of costly metal, starr'd with many a gem;
The lovely garden envy must have prais'd,
Loaded with fruits and flow'rs of noble stem.
But Allah's vengeance tow'ring Shedad flew,
(Fierce was his lightning on that signal day!)
A veil of darkness o'er the scene he threw.
And clos'd its beauties from the visual ray."
Camballo by the hand the sprite now took,
They mounted from the earth, the knight, tho' valiant, shook.

With aching eye Camballo view'd the scene,
He saw the sky with starry circles bright;
He saw the earth array'd in lively green,
Till Irem's garden rush'd upon his sight:
No earthly paradise with this could boast;
Ev'n the grim spectre felt a gleam of joy!
With eager step they trod the fairy coast,
No wintry winds, no blasting heats annoy.
Soft zephyrs blew, the balmy air was mild,
The flow'rs perennial bloom'd, and spring eternal smil'd.

The palace dimm'd the rash beholder's eye,
Yet on the bright enchantment still he gaz'd:
The sapphire oped its clear cerulean dye,
The ruby glow'd, the sparkling diamond blaz'd:
There the brown forest stretch'd its deep'ning shade,
Here sunny lawns, and gently-swelling hills;
The stately flag now bounded o'er the glade,
Tow'rds osier-fringed lakes, and babbling rills.
And here the garden spread its florid pride,
Great nature reign'd o'er all, by art diversified.

On ev'ry bough the mellow bull-finch sung,
The melting red-breast caroll'd forth his strain;
Like strings of pearl the feather'd warblers hung,
Thick as, when Iris shines, the drops of rain.
Camballo soon the long-sought Tercelet spy'd;
He flew from tree to tree, from spray to spay;
He spread his shining wings with gallant pride,
And seem'd to revel in eternal May.
Now to some favour'd female he inclin'd,
Then wav'd his wanton plumes, and left the fair behind.

Camballo sage the sportive bird addrest,
"White is thy wing, O Tercelet, as the snow,
Soft is the glossy down, which shades thy breast,
Thy melting eyes with tenderness o'erflow.
But does thy soul with such fair shew accord?
Has love's unsully'd flame sublim'd thy heart?
Hast thou ne'er prov'd a fickle, faithless lord?
Nor to thy fair one caus'd unceasing smart?
Hast thou ne'er left thy gentle mate to pine,
While constancy was hers, and cold indifff'rence thine?

"Celestial constancy's a jewel rare,
Admir'd by mortals, and by gods approv'd;
Worthless the heart which many objects share,
Tho' fair the objects by that heart belov'd.
Wide let our friendship and our bounty stream,
The dews of evening moisten ev'ry field;
But let one fav'rite mistress be our theme;
No second picture decks the champion's shield.
O Tercelet, thou hast left thy love to mourn,
For thee her beauty fades; now to thy love return."

Thus spoke the Prince, a portrait forth he drew,
Which shew'd the Falcon with disorder'd plume;
Sore was the Tercelet troubled at the view,
Repentance came, and sorrow's raven gloom:
Sir Knight (he cry'd), my error has been great,
Much have I injur'd love's immortal laws;
It wounds my soul to learn my Falcon's fate,
And my unkindness the destructive cause:
With speed the pleasing mandate I obey,
And to my mistress fly — O point the shortest way."

The Tercelet pitch'd on good Camballo's hand,
The Genius wafts th' advent'rous chief thro' air,
He soon regains the solitary strand,
Where the companions of his travel were:
Scarce could the golden cage the bird confine,
When she beheld her much lov'd Tercelet nigh;
Again her silver wings began to shine,
And love's soft liquid trembled in her eye.
The Tercelet own'd his crime — his mate forgave;
Pleas'd were the-gentle dames, and pleas'd the champions brave.

What greater blessing than to see content
And warm benevolence diffus'd around!
To find the heart replete with good intent,
Unblemish'd honour, friendship frank and sound!
To see resentment into love subside;
Distrust remov'd, and rancour cease to burn!
To see the virtuous stem affliction's tide,
And all their sorrows into gladness turn!
Such the first pleasure of the gen'rous mind,
That wishes well to all, and cherishes mankind.

The Tercelet found, tow'rds Sarra's walls they bend,
Thro' deserts skirted by Euphrates' flood;
As down the mountain's side the chiefs descend,
They view a scene of horror, and of blood;
A single knight, encompass'd by his foes,
Perform'd high feats of chivalry most rare.
The youthful band the lion thus o'erthrows,
His flank he lashes, and his eye-balls glare;
The brown Numidian darts his pointed spear,
The lordly savage roars — the hunter's pale with fear.

Some in confusion o'er the valley fled,
And the grim Arab chas'd his trembling prey
Here bales of precious merchandize were spread,
And welt'ring in their gore the owners lay.
With grief Camballo the sad scene beheld,
He spurr'd his courser to th' ensanguin'd field;
Bold emulation Triamondo swell'd,
He drew his sword, and grasp'd his shining shield.
Thus from the clouds two thunderbolts are driv'n,
The solid rock is struck, the tow'ring pine is riv'n!

Great was their succour to the lonely knight,
The swarthy Bedouin shrunk beneath their arm.
The Arab chieftain blew the horn of fight,
And thronging squadrons came at the alarm:
The gallant worthies now were sore beset,
Tho' high their courage, tho' their swords were good;
In feats of war three braver never met
At fam'd Albracca, or Ardenna's wood.
Fierce is their rage, like show'rs of wint'ry hail;
But numbers hem them round, and numbers must prevail.

Help unexpected gracious Allah gave,
And rescued honour from the lawless foe;
Various the means of Providence to save
The faithful Mussulman from death and woe.
Now thro' mid-air a warrior shot along,
Bright were his arms, his steed of burnish'd brass;
Dismay and wonder seiz'd the hostile throng,
Their strength was wither'd like the blighted grass.
The bold Algarsife was this hardy knight;
He reach'd the bloody plain, and mingled in the fight.

Now unavailing was the Arabs' force,
No temper'd mail withstood th' enchanted blade;
Their barb'rous captain lay an headless corse,
To realms of darkness fled his guilty shade.
O'er prostrate heaps Algarsife proudly rode,
With trembling lips the wretches pray'd for life;
His breast with courage and with pity glow'd;
Those godlike passions seldom are at strife.
The noble spirit greatly can forgive;
It sheathes the reeking sword, and bids the foeman live.

The rescued warriors tow'rds Algarsife flew,
The brazen courser made the champion known;
Cambuscan shed the fond paternal dew,
And each bold brother claim'd the chief his own.
Camballo marvell'd much to see his sire
A wand'ring pilgrim in the lonely wild;
Musing he view'd Eltheta's strange attire,
Who now approach'd — the royal parents smil'd.
Fair Canace with meek Cambina came,
And Cosroes now appear'd, with India's lovely dame.

To paint the pleasures of this friendly band,
The flowing soul, and ev'ry feeling fine;
Would claim the pencil of some chosen hand,
And mighty pow'rs, by far surpassing mine:
A lighter task to court th' Heroic Muse,
To sing the portance and the guise of war;
To steep our temples in Maeonian dews,
And draw the iron Godhead on his car;
Than to untwine each fibre of the heart,
To give the thrill of joy, or wound with sorrow's dart.

Now in a narrow vale the flow'r is met
Of knightly valour, and of beauty, rare;
Those radiant suns and stars shall never set,
Their worthy deeds, are Fame's peculiar care
The royal Sultan, and his much-lov'd Queen,
Beheld the charming Thedora with delight
They now survey'd Cambina's graceful mien,
And now on Canace they fix'd their fight.
At length sage Cosroes spoke, benign his look,
Sweet were the words he said, befitting wisdom's book.

"Great Prince, the cloud of thy affliction's past,
And brightness covers thy horizon round;
Virtue surmounts the ills of life at last,
And leaves her vot'ry with fair triumph crown'd:
Tow'rds Mecca's temple cease thy step to bend,
For God himself thy Piety has prais'd;
His holy Prophet calls thee son and friend,
And from thy tablet each dark spot is raz'd:
Imperial Sarra soon shalt thou behold;
Loud is the battle's din, in blood are helmets roll'd.

"Soon as my Sultan left his princely state,
His foes unfurl'd the crimson flag of war,
Dire Mavors struck at Sarra's strongest gate,
The fierce Circassian storm'd, and Moscow's Czar:
Now in my rustic hermitage retir'd,
I view'd the mirror to my care consign'd
By fair Eltheta's hand, and much admir'd
The wondrous cunning of the artist's mind:
There great Cambuscan's dangers I descry'd,
And eke his gallant souls, and what did them betide.

"Sore was I troubled at Algarsife's lot,
Enslav'd by ruthless Demshack's baneful power;
His friends, his love, his martial fame forgot,
He languish'd out the melancholy hour:
O'er a black marble fountain still he hung,
And swell'd the current with perpetual tears;
Slow were the fault'ring accents of his tongue,
And lost the vigor of his youthful years:
His beauteous mistress wither'd by his side:
Thus fades the violet's hue, when nipp'd in vernal pride.

"Great was my wish to aid the luckless knight,
But hard the task, tho' glorious the emprize:
A willing spirit makes each labour light;
I left my cell, when morn illum'd the skies;
In pilgrim's garb thy realm I travell'd o'er,
And cross'd the loud Jaxartes' angry wave,
When the wild Tartar roams the Caspian shore,
Where dashing billows beat, and tempests rave.
No influence of the moon the Caspian knows,
Impell'd by winds alone, it neither ebbs nor flows.

"O'er many a sandy desert now I pass'd,
While thirst and hunger close besieged me round;
Beneath a palm at length my limbs I cast,
Where a tall grove the lawns of Yulduz crown'd:
Lo! to my eye a beauteous nymph appear'd,
Like a bright Hourie's was her purple bloom;
Her heav'nly speech my drooping spirits cheer'd;
Her voice wag music, and her breath perfume.
'Cosroes (said she) Alzobah's words attend,
The Fairy of this grove, the Prophet's faithful friend.

"'Beloved of Mahomet, to me is known
Thy wish, fell Demshack's magic to destroy;
One Talisman supports his power alone,
With that he wounds and blasts celestial joy.
What toil the mountain's glassy side to climb,
And its high adamantine top to gain,
Where stands the castle built by mystic rhyme,
Where hideous goblins drag the galling chain!
The fatal Talisman is guarded there;
If broken by thy hand, the whole dissolves in air.

"'This apple take, more fragrant than the rose,
Its smell thy thirst and hunger will allay;
Thy anger shall its further use disclose.'
Thus said, she melted like thin mist away.
Bright was the apple as the golden ore:
Its sides display'd the scarlet's blushing die;
The rich perfumes of Ternate and Tidore
Could not with its ambrosial fragrance vie.fragrance vie.
No more the wants of mortal flesh I knew;
Pale Famine, with her train, had vanish'd from my view.

"At length I trod on Demshack's wizard ground,
And in the mirror all his arts beheld;
In swarms the meagre spectres flitted round,
And weeping wretches his black river swell'd.
Now on the Melancholy Hill I gaz'd,
And for a moment felt its baleful gloom;
Like slipp'ry ice the lofty sides were glaz'd,
Or like the polish'd marble of the tomb!
From morn till eve I labour'd to ascend;
But vain was all my toil, and seem'd in nought to end.

"Still as I strove to mount, my footing fail'd;
With rage and disappointment I was stung;
Again the arduous journey I assail'd,
And from my hand the golden apple flung:
Soon as it touch'd the ground, it burst in twain;
I then perceiv'd of silk a lengthen'd clew;
Shap'd like a ladder's step was every skein;
And strait Alzobah's latent words I knew.
This to the slipp'ry mountain I apply'd,
And now I climb'd with ease its adamantine side.

"The summit gain'd, I sought the sable tow'r,
And unawares the dire enchanter found;
His Talisman I broke, dissolv'd his pow'r,
And with strong fetters the vile felon bound.
From its deep basis was the mountain rent,
And the fork'd lightning shot a dismal glare!
The hellish spirits, long in prison pent,
Snatch'd the magician thro' the troubled air;
The wretched caitiff joint by joint they tore,
And left his lifeless trunk to parch upon the shore.

"No vestige of th' enchantment now remains;.
Brown is the mountain, and the groves are green;
Thus Wintry snows, which whiten'd o'er the plains,
Thaw'd by the vernal sun, no more are seen.
The knights and gentle dames, by woe consum'd,
Now dried their tears and wore the smile of joy;
Again the warriors shone, the maidens bloom'd,
They tasted pleasure void of sad alloy.
Fair Thedora once more Algarsife knew,
And to his charming queen the gallant Tartar flew.

"Thy danger in the mirror next we trac'd,
And then th' enchanted courser we bestrode:
Swift as the falcon by the eagle chas'd,
He shot thro' air — the fervid metal glow'd.
Now to great Allah thanks and praise return;
Lo! from thy lips his bounteous hand removes
The vase of woe, and opes the golden urn,
Thence streams abundance o'er the land he loves."
Here Cosroes ceas'd — declin'd the western sun,
The star of twilight rose — Night spread her mantle dun.

Now shone Aurora rob'd in beaming gold,
And with her blushes ting'd the orient skies;
Down the slope mountain's side the mist was roll'd,
And early hunters saw the goddess rise:
Forth came Cambuscan with his princely train,
They cross'd Euphrates where proud Babel stood;
They journey'd thro' fam'd Irak's boundless plain,
Stem'd the swift Tigris, brav'd his angry flood;
The Parthian provinces they travers'd o'er,
And now in safety reach'd dark Oxus' mazy shore.

These valorous knights the Queen and ladies left,
And fled to summon Usbeck's scatter'd pow'rs;
The troops in Sarra were of hope bereft,
War echo'd round them, blood distain'd their tow'rs:
The mighty ram advanc'd with martial pride,
Dire was its pressure on the yielding walls;
But hardy warriors fill'd the breaches wide,
Huge rocks they hurl'd, and hot sulphureous balls;
Apall'd the Russian view'd with fear-fraught eye
Th' enormous mass rush down, and saw whole squadrons die!

Now twice ten thousand horse Cambuscan rais'd,
And with as many foot Algarsife came;
Full in the front the dauntless champion blaz'd,
The brazen courser seem'd a moving flame!
In radiant armour good Camballo shin'd,
Close by his side was Triamondo seen;
Cambuscan's banner floated in the wind,
A golden crescent in a field of green.
That day the regal crimson was supprest,
And in the prophet's green the noble Prince was drest.

A splendid Koran, rich with gems and gold,
Was borne thro' all the host by Mollahs sage;
Mohammed's miracles were here enroll'd,
And holy Imams read the sacred page;
The loud-ton'd trumpet gave its angry jar;
In four divisions hold the Tartars rush'd,
Algarsife thunder'd o'er the ranks of war;
His magic courser horse and rider crush'd.
Now sally the besieged from Sarra's walls,
And on the hostile rear Cambuscan ruthless falls.

A sudden panic seiz'd the Russian host,
By wasting fires on ev'ry side inclos'd:
The leaders strove to rouse their courage lost;
The haughty Czar Cambuscan's sword oppos'd.
Great was his strength, his courage high and bold,
And manly battle with the King he made;
His arms were burnish'd steel inlaid with gold,
And of the finest temper was his blade:
Fell was the warfare, pond'rous was the stroke,
Might cleave the mountain rock, might rive the forest oak.

The stern Circassion with Camballo join'd,
His trusty sabre each bold champion drew
But to Camballo victory soon inclin'd,
Brave Triamondo Albumazar slew:
By Sencla's stream was Albumazar bred,
Where spacious Seray rears her tow'ring walls;
In verdant lawns his lowing beeves he fed,
Where silver Sencla into Volga falls.
No more he'll drive his herds to Sencla's wave,
Nor in deep Volga's flood his wearied members lave.

How hard to paint Algarsife's valor well,
And sing the prowess of his nervous arm!
Let Bucifer and fierce Narmaran tell:
Vain were their helmets forg'd by magic charm.
As the keen otter hunts the finny brood,
And makes the tenants of the brook his prey,
The amber wave he stains with purple blood,
Black death and rapine mark the tyrant's way;
So bold Algarsife spread destruction round,
And like the torrent rag'd, which sweeps off ev'ry mound.

Amrou with grief the recreant battle views;
From swift Araxes gallant Amrou came;
Mogan's vast plain Araxes' wave bedews,
Renown'd for coursers of immortal fame.
He woo'd the Muse, and sung the lofty strain;
He lov'd meek solitude and soften'd gloom
He caught each link of Fancy's finest chain,
And wove the tissue of her airy loom.
This dauntless bard Algarsife now withstood,
And drew his trenchant blade against that man of blood.

The weighty faulchion Amrou lifted high,
It fell with fury on Algarsife's crest;
The wary Usbeck Prince, all heart, all eye,
Aim'd the keen weapon at his foeman's breast:
The breast-plate yielded to the magic sword,
Wide was the wound the ruthless iron made!
Then kind compassion touch'd the Tartar lord;
The weeping Muses for their vot'ry pray'd:
Oft had Algarsife heard the poet's song,
When erst his troops he led the Caspian hills along.

He to the wound the turquoise hilt apply'd,
And in a moment staunch'd the sable gore;
Half-pleas'd the Bard retir'd, with blushing pride,
Resolv'd to meet his noble foe no more.
Araxes' nymphs shall hail thy lov'd return,
For thee their vows, for thee their streams shall flow;
And when reclin'd beside their silver urn,
Thou wak'st the lyre, or tun'st the harp to woe;
Let not Time's hand Algarsife's mem'ry blot;
A gen'rous deed should live, should never be forgot.

Cambuscan still contends with Moscow's Czar;
Fierce is the conflict of the royal foes!
Each chief is skill'd in ev'ry flight of war,
The bold attack and sure defence he knows.
On high Cambuscan seem'd to aim the wound,
On high the Czar deceiv'd would ward the blow;
He in his heart the deadly weapon found,
It laid the pride of all the Russias low:
The haughty spirit from her mansion flew,
And from this life of cares to other worlds withdrew.

Thus falls the stately tow'r, which long had stood
The shock of armies, and the waste of time;
Thus falls the oak, the monarch of the woods,
By lightning blasted in his fullest prime.
Of what avail are pomp and titles now?
See! the proud Czar, defil'd with dust and gore!
The regal diadem adorn'd his brow,
He heard the Caspian and the Baltic roar.
Long did he blaze unrivall'd in the field:
But to the stronger arm, the weaker, war must yield.

Pale fear and terror o'er the Ruffians reign'd,
On ev'ry side their broken squadrons fled;
Decisive conquest now the Tartars gain'd,
They chas'd till Phoebus streak'd the west with red.
Cambuscan then his royal palace sought;
His subjects saw their honour'd prince return:
On fortune's mazes much the monarch thought,
Much on those gorgeous things, which sages spurn.
Virtue he found to be the truest friend.
She guards the hero's fame, with glory gilds his end.

Algarsife's nuptials with his Indian maid,
The feasts and pastimes of the joyous court,
Some future Bard, who haunts the Muses shade,
From Fame's bright chronicle may well report:
Cambuscan saw his noble offspring shine,
Rever'd by princes, by the people lov'd;
Unsully'd was the radiance of his line,
Brave were the youths, the maidens unreprov'd.
At last the long and splendid scene was clos'd,
And in the calm of death the godlike man repos'd.

[(1789) 79-111]