Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

Those execute with speed, and punctual care,
In all the strictest discipline of war:
As if some watchful foe, with bold insult,
Hung lowering o'er their camp. The high resolve, i
That Alies on wings through all th' encircling line,
Each motion steers, and animates the whole.
So by the Sun's attractive power controllid,
The planets in their spheres roll round his orb :
On all he shines, and rules the great machine.

Ere yet the morn dispels the fleeting mists,
The signal given by the loud trumpet's voice,
Now high in air th' imperial standard waves,
Emblazon'd rich with gold, and glittering gems,
And like a sheet of fire, through the dun gloom
Streaming meteorous. The soldiers' shouts,
And all the brazen instruments of war,
With mutual clamour, and united din,
Fill the large concave. While from camp to camp
They catch the varied sounds, floating in air,
Round all the wide circumference, tigers fell
Shrink at the noise, deep in his gloomy den
The lion starts, and morsels yet unchew'd
Drop from his trembling jaws. Now all at once
Onward they march embattled, to the sound
Of martial harmony; fifes, cornets, drums,
That rouze the sleepy soul to arms, and bold
Heroic deeds. In parties here and there
Detach'd o'er hill and dale, the hunters range
Inquisitive; strong dogs, that match in fight
The boldest brute, around their masters wait,
A faithful guard. No haunt unsearch’d, they drive
From every covert, and from every den,

The lurking savages. Incessant shouts
Re-echo through the woods, and kindling fires
Gleam from the mountain tops; the forest seems
One mingling blaze: like flocks of sheep they fly
Before the flaming brand : fierce lions, pards,
Boars, tigers, bears and wolves; a dreadful crew
Of grim blood-thirsty foes ; growling along,
They stalk indignant; but fierce vengeance still
Hangs pealing on their rear, and pointed spears
Present immediate death. Soon as the Night
Wrapt in her sable veil forbids the chase,
They pitch their tents, in even ranks, around
The circling camp. The guards are plac'd, and fires
At proper distances ascending rise,
And paint th' horizon with their ruddy light.
So round some island's shore of large extent,
Amid the gloomy horrours of the night,
The billows breaking on the pointed rocks,
Seem all one flame, and the bright circuit wide
Appears a bulwark of surrounding fire.
What dreadful howlings, and what hideous roar,
Disturb those peaceful shades ! where erst the bird
That glads the night had cheer'd the listening groves
With sweet complainings. Through the silent gloom
Oft they the guards assail ; as oft repellid
They fly reluctant, with hot boiling rage
Stung to the quick, and mad with wild despair.
Thus day by day they still the chase renew,
At night encamp; till now in streighter bounds
The circle lessens, and the beasts perceive
The wall that hems them in on every side.
And now their fury bursts, and knows no mean;

From man they turn, and point their ill-judg'd rage
Against their fellow-brutes. With teeth and claws
The civil war begins; grappling they tear.
Lions on tigers prey, and bears on wolves :
Horrible discord! till the crowd behind
Shouting pursue, and part the bloody fray.
At once their wrath subsides ; tame as the lamb
The lion hangs his head, the furious pard,
Cowd and subdu'd, flies from the face of man,
Nor bears one glance of his commanding eye.
So abject is a tyrant in distress!

At last, within the narrow plain confin'd,
A listed field, mark'd out for bloody deeds,
An amphitheatre more glorious far
Than ancient Rome could boast, they crowd in heaps,
Dismay'd, and quite appall'd. In meet array,
Sheath'd in refulgent arms, a noble band
Advance; great lords of high imperial blood,
Early resolv'd t' assert their royal race,
And prove by glorious deeds their valour's growth
Mature, ere yet the callow down has spread
Its curling shade. On bold Arabian steeds
With decent pride they sit, that fearless hear
The lion's dreadful roar; and down the rock
Swift shooting plunge, or o'er the mountain's ridge
Stretching along, the greedy tiger leave
Panting behind. On foot their faithful slaves
With javelins arm'd attend ; each watchful eye
Fix'd on his youthful care, for him alone
He fears, and, to redeem his life, unmov'd
Would lose his own. The mighty Aurengzebe,
From his high-elevated throne beholds

His blooming race ; revolving in his mind
What once he was, in his gay spring of life,
When vigour strung his nerves. Parental joy
Melts in his eye, and flushes in his cheek.
Now the loud trumpet sounds a charge. The shouts
Of eager hosts, through all the circling line,
And the wild howlings of the beasts within,
Rend wide the welkin ; flights of arrows, wing'd
With death, and javelins launch'd from every arm,
Gall sore the brutal bands, with many a wound
Gor'd through and through. Despair at last prevails,
When fainting Nature shrinks, and rouses all
Their drooping courage. Swell'd with furious rage,
Their eyes dart fire; and on the youthful band
They rush implacable. They their broad shields
Quick interpose ; on each devoted head
Their flaming falchions, as the bolts of Jove,
Descend unerring. Prostrate on the ground
The grinning monsters lie, and their foul gore
Defiles the verdant plain. Nor idle stand
The trusty slaves; with pointed spears they pierce
Through their tough hides; or at their gaping mouths
An easier passage find. The king of brutes
In broken roarings breathes his last; the bear
Grumbles in death ; nor can his spotted skin,
Though sleek it shine, with varied beauties gay,
Save the proud pard from unrelenting fate.
The battle bleeds, grim Slaughter strides along,
Glutting her greedy jaws, grins o'er her prey :
Men, horses, dogs, fierce beasts of every kind,
A strange promiscuous carnage, drench'd in blood,
And heaps on heaps amass'd. What yet remain

Alive, with vain assault contend to break
Th' impenetrable line. Others, whom fear
Inspires with self-preserving wiles, beneath
The bodies of the slain for shelter creep.
Aghast they fly, or hide their heads dispers’d. [work
And now perchance (had Heaven but pleas’d) the
Of death had been complete ; and Aurengzebe
By one dread frown extinguish'd half their race.
When lo! the bright sultanas of his court
Appear, and to his ravish'd eyes display
Those charms but rarely to the day reveal’d.

Lowly they bend, and humbly sue, to save
The vanquish'd host. What mortal can deny
When suppliant Beauty begs ? At his command,
Opening to right and left, the well-train'd troops
Leave a large void for their retreating foes.
Away they fly, on wings of fear upborn,
To seek on distant hills their late abodes.

Ye proud oppressors, whose vain hearts exult In wantonness of power 'gainst the brute race, Fierce robbers like yourselves, a guiltless war Wage uncontrollid: here quench your thirst of

blood : But learn from Aurengzebe to spare mankind.

Book III.

Argument. Of king Edgar, and his imposing a tribute of

wolves' heads upon the kings of Wales : from hence a transition to fox-hunting, which is described in all its parts. Cansure of an over

« ZurückWeiter »