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Even while he spake, out gushed a stream of gore;
And, forward sliding, in the car he sank,-
And, as the swoon came o'er him, inly said,
“ Never again to battle shalt thou go!
The hand of death bath touched thee! Rise oh God!
Confound the rebel, and the city save !"
• Him, deathlike as be lay, Meshullam raised;
And from him wiped the gore; and on his breast
The corslet slackened. By a streamlet now
Arrived, -and underneath a spreading oak,
The steeds Meshullam and his charioteer
Secured; and on the earth, with gentle hands,
The wounded warrior laid. The armour soon
From his lax limbs they took ; and oft his face
With the cool water sprinkled. He with sighs
Deep, and convulsive quiverings far between,
To sense at length returned; and, his dim eye3
Unclosing, saw above the fresh green light,
And ether's deep blue through the restless boughs
Fitfully gleaming : but the gentle voice
Of wind-stirred leaves, or the swift streamlet's rush,
Heard not ; for, like a tempest far away,
The conflict roared, and to all softer sound
The ear made deaf. Upon his elbow now
Slowly uprising, toward the field he looked ;
Then, groaning, bowed his head, for in his back
He felt the rankling shaft,--and to the fight
Knew that return was hopeless.' Imitation though it be in almost every idea, nevertheless the passage is a pretty one; and we must say, that upon coming to it after our eyes were dimmed and our brains almost knocked fairly out by the eternal clashing of swords, and shields, and barbarous names, we beheld something of that 'fresh green light,' of which our poet speaks. Not that he has omitted to intersperse the vicissitudes of the bloody field with similes after the fashion of the Iliad. If the expression were not vulgar, we should say, that tropes of this class were as “ plenty as blackberries,” in the 'Fall of Nineveh.' Clouds and waves, thunder and lightning, wolves, dogs, lions, rhinoceroses, and earthquakes; every thing grand in heaven, or fierce on earth, is brought in by way of figure to relieve the clamour of the fray. Passing over the engagements of the minor gods, we shall confine ourselves to that which took place between the two leaders, and which, as will be seen, concludes in a very puerile way.
• Even to the monarch's car
Now reached he,-and Assyria's doom to seal
That moment hoped,—for, him in fight to shun
Longer disdaining ---- from his chariot leap'd
The furious king,—and arm to arm opposed,
The battle dared. Then,—had not Heaven forbid, -
To the proud monarch brief had been the date ;
For, ere his foot descending touched the earth,
Upon him at a bound on-springing fierce
His terrible enemy flew,-and, in one blow
His strength collecting, drove the hissing steel.
As when the thunder-bolt descending strikes
Some lofty tower,—then, earth-ward glancing, sinks,
And is beheld no more, -in silent awe
Breathless and fixed, the multitude look on,-
And, if, from fate preserved, upon its base
The mighty wall shall stand, or if to earth
In pond'rous ruiu crumble,-a brief space
In anxious doubt await,-even so, that stroke
Terrific seeing -in mute horror stood
The Assyrian host, and direst issue feared.
Like lightning fell the sword,—from off the shield
Like lightning glanced,-flat on the brazen wheel
Clashed, --in a cloud of sparkling shivers flew,-
And, like spent lightning, saok, and disappeared.
• The awe-struck Mede,- Heaven's own immediate hand
Believing manifest,-against the king,
Protected thus, his arm no more would lift;
But,-on him for an instant gazing stern, -
Thus spake : “Not yet thy hour, proud king, is come,-
Nor to this band, percbance, thy fate is given.
As little unto thine my destiny,-
Nor this my day to fall.” So be; then turned, -
And through the astonished host, with fearless look,
His backward path 'gan take. Nor they awhile,
His course opposed, but to the monarch looked,
Command awaiting. He, surprised and awed,
As at his feet the earth had opened wide
And harmed him not,--an instant speechless stood.'--pp.126--128. The fact was, it would have been inconvenient for Mr. Atherstone's purposes to terminate this encounter by any thing short of a miracle. Accordingly, the two warriors, after being hotly engaged, gape at each other, one stands stock still while his adversary walks quietly away. At length Sardanapalus, who after all, was in truth a very different sort of a king from the effeminate, cowardly, being he is very commonly supposed to have been, bethinks himself that this easy escape of the Mede is rather too bad, and he orders him to be pursued. Arbaces, as might have been foreseen, though desperately wounded, hops into a chariot, and runs away helter skelter. The rumour spread that he was killed, and it went rather hard with the Medes, when one of their own body, practising a little stratagem, introduced himself and a few followers among the Assyrian combatants, and shouting that the Bactrians were approaching at the other side to take possession of Nineveh, induced the king to order his forces thither for its protection. The Medes took
very good care not to pursue the enemy, and retreated quietly to their mountains. The Assyrians soon found out the deception, but the darkness of night forbade their return to the field.
We cannot resist the temptation that is upon us to transcribe the description which Mr. Atherstone gives of the march of the Medes after they overtook their wounded chieftain. The pictures of the wounded warrior in the cave, and the distant tents and city are beautiful and soothing after the turmoil of the battle.
*All night, in silent, slow, and gloomy march,
The sorrowing Medes their weary way pursued.
Upon a litter borne, their mighty chief,
Weak as an infant now, unto the heavens
His clear and bloodless eye for ever turned,
His parched and tremulous lip, as with the Gods
In vision communing, and of their ways,
Dark and mysterious, with a troubled mind,
Awfully questioning: nor from hiin came
Token whatever of that agony
Which on him preyed, nor any word he spake.
Dumah, his loved physician, by his side
Unwearied walked ; and, ever and anon,
His fevered lips, with juice expressed of fruits,
Cooling and grateful, inoistened. All the night,
The wearied, silent foot, slow winding on,-
The patient camels toiling 'neath their loads,
The jaded steeds, low hanging their dull heads,-
The drooping rider and the charioteer, --
In mournful silence all, like pageant dark
Of dreary dream, o'er the dusk plain moved on.
• But, when upon the dull and leaden sky
The cheerful sun his liquid gold 'gan Aling,
Then,-customed worship offering first, with food,
And drink, and respite brief from toil,—their limbs
They strengthened, and their drooping hearts revived.
Their journey then renewed ; and, ere the morn
One half was wasted, to their mountain holds,
With gladdened spirits, reached. The dells among,
And pleasant valleys, of the middle heights,-
Their tents then pitched they: but the caverns some
Of living rock chose rather, — where, disturbed,
Lion, or tiger, or hyena grim,
From his ancestral den of ages past,
At their approach withdrew. Here, now secure,
With food themselves and wearied steeds they cheered ;
Each, as he listed then, for sweet repose
His jaded limbs outstretched,-and, while the sun
From heaven's height his loud summons o'er half earth
To life and labour sent, throughout the camp
Sleep reigned, and silence,-as the solitude
In its long trance of ages rested still.
• Within a dark, and cool, and spacious cave,
The wounded leader his sick chamber found.
Far in its depths, a gently flowing stream,-
Cold, diamond-bright,-with dreamy whisperings,
Morn, noon, and night, the echoing cavern filled.
Before its mouth, a cedar broad and high
Stood sentry,-and, with giant arms outspread,
The fierce sun kept aloof,-nor, save at hour
Of dewy morn, while yet his face with smiles
Was radiant only, and a youthful joy,
His fiery foot admitted. All the day,
With the unresting breeze a soft discourse
Mysterious the slow waving branches held, --
And many a deep sigh breathed, and many a sound
Harmonious, as of voices far away.
The song of leaves and waters to the chief
Visions of youth and joyous infancy
In long day dreamings brought, that o'er his soul
A healing balm diffused, and the mad throbs
Of his vexed heart to gentler rage subdued.
Grievous, and many, were his wounds;—the arm
Strong erewhile as the bar of tempered steel,
Now, like that steel beneath the furnace blast,
Strengthless and soft became. Beside his couch
Dumah, with friendly care that slumbered not,
Still day and night his watch unwearied kept;
Nor of th' event could judge, nor dared predict.
• His wounded friend first tended, and with words
Of hope and high expectance still consoled, -
Belesis to the mountain's summit now,
Apart unto his gods to pray, went up.
Then, having prayed, arose ; and, looking forth,
Bright in the sun the towering city saw,-
The plain beneath with white tents nuinberless,–
The restless Aash of chariots, and of arms,
And, as he looked, his heart within him burned,--
And, toward the walls his arms uplifting high,
With voice prophetic her approaching fate,
Suspended, not revoked,-he still denounced,
And in the promise given confided still.:—pp. 135–138. This highly poetical passage forms the cominencement of the tenth book. The remainder of that book, as well as the three books which follow it, fill up in various ways the time which was necessary to restore Arbaces to health after the exhaustion which he suffers from his wounds.
The mission of two spies, secundum artem, to the camp of the king,-an attempt to assassinate him,-a night attack by the Medes which is defeated “ utterly,”—and the introduction of the Bactrian auxiliaries upon the scene, serve, with numerous debates, to afford materials for a good deal of prosing narrative, mingled, however, now and then with nervous and brilliant strains of poesy, some of
them not inferior to that which we have just quoted. The following picture, for instance, taken from the night battle, would, we think, be a magnificent work, if it were realized to the eye by the genius of Martin.
• So Salamenes ; and to him the king,-
Breathless awhile, and leaning on his sword,
Patient attention gave: then cried, “ away!
Haste ! get thee gone! and with what force soe'er
Thou canst: but not from battle now, be sure,
Will I withdraw the soldiers,—for their hearts
Are fire,-and every nerve is strong as steel.
If we fight darkling,-doth not even as we
The enemy?-But, by the mighty Bel!
We will a watch-fire kindle, that the field
Shall light,—and burn not like a reed away!
The wind is from the north,—the flame and smoke
Will pass-Ho!-fire the forest on the right,-
The cedar and the pine! Take every man
His flaming torch, -and we ere long will make
A new sun rise,-a night-sun of our own."
• With shouts of gladness, when the monarch ceased,
Rushed thousands to the work. Then hastily,
His task to accomplish, Salamenes went. -
Nor more to sway the headlong monarch strove.
But, as he walked, a freqnent glance behind
On that strange battle cast he,-rock and dell
In lurid splendour,-and the raging hosts,
Like fiery foam on a dark sea of hell,
Tossing and working. From the plain anon,
Shaking their torches,-shouting franticly,-
Toward the cedar forest, and the pine,
Thousands rush onward. A thin vapour mounts,
A low flame gathers,-rises,- smoke, like clouds
· That bring the tempest, all the forest top
In darkness wraps :-a moaning sound is heard,-
A crackling and a hiss :-bursts here and there
A sheet of Alame,—and sinks,—and bursts anew.
• With roar incessant as of storm-vexed deeps, -
In mighty volumes streaming to the clouds,-.
Goes up at length the universal blaze.
The sky, like to a fiery ocean, Alames :
Mountain and plain, far as the eye can reach,
The camps,--the battle,-as beneath the sun,
Shine out distinct. Terrific is the din :-
The thunder-roaring of the flames,—the crash
Of branch and giant trunk,—the roll and jar
Of rocks descending,—and the ceaseless clang
Of armour, and the shoutings of the hosts,
Horribly mingling to the heavens go up.
• The watchmen on the distant city walls
That uproar hear,-and in the sky amazed