Robert Southey (1774-1843)
Madoc... part 2
London: Longman Rees and Orme, 1805
(1812 third edition text used here)
006 6. The Festival of the Dead
019 7. The Snake-God
030 8. The Conversion of the Hoamen
037 9. Tlalala
047 10. The Arrival of the Gods
058 11. The Capture
066 12. Hoel
074 13. Coatel
080 14. The Stone of Sacrifice
094 15. The Battle
102 16. Goervyl
115 17. The Deliverance
125 18. The Victory
136 19. The Funeral
143 20. The Death of Coatel
149 21. The Sports
155 22. The Death of Lincoya
161 23. Caradoc
166 24. The Embassy
172 25. The Lake Fight
179 26. The Close of the Century
194 27. The Migration
215 Remainder of The Notes
[ 1 ]
King Owen's relics shall be laid to rest.
No bright emblazonries bedecked his bier,
No tapers blaz'd, no prelate sung the mass,
No choristers the funeral dirge inton'd,
No mitred abbots, and no tonsured train,
Lengthen'd the pomp of ceremonious woe.
His decent bier was with white linen spread
And canopied; two elks and bisons, yok'd,
Drew on the car; foremost Cadwallon bore
The Crucifix; with single voice distinct,
The good Priest Llorien chanted loud and deep
The solemn service; Madoc next the bier
Followe'd his father's corpse; bareheaded then
Came all the people, silently and slow.
V. - 2
The burial-place was in a grassy plat,
A little level glade of sunny green,
Between the river and a rocky bank,
Which, like a buttress, from the precipice
Of naked rock sloped out. On either side
'Twas skirted by the woodlands. A stone cross
Stood on Cynetha's grave, sole monument,
Beneath a single cocoa, whose straight trunk
Rose like an obelisk, and wav'd on high
Its palmy plumage, green and never sere.
Here, by Cynetha's side, with Christian prayers,
All wrongs forgotten now, was Owen laid.
Rest, King of Gwyneth, in a foreign grave!
From foul indignity of Romish pride
And bigot priesthood, from a falling land
Thus timely snatched, and from the impending yoke,
Rest in the. kingdom of thy noble son!
Ambassadors from Aztlan in the vale
Awaited their return, -- Yuhidthiton,
Chief of the Chiefs, and Helhua the Priest.
With these came Malinal. They met the Prince,
And with a sullen stateliness return'd
His salutation; then the Chief began:
Lord of the Strangers, hear me! by my voice
V. - 3
The People and the Pabas and the King
Of Aztlan speak. Our injured Gods have claim'd
Their wonted worship, and made manifest
Their wrath: we dare not impiously provoke
The Dreadful. Worship ye in your own way;
But we must keep the path our fathers kept.
We parted, O Yuhidthiton! as friends
And brethren, said the Christian Prince; alas,
That this should be our meeting! When we pledged,
In the broad daylight and the eye of Heaven,
Our hands in peace, ye heard and understood.
The will of God, and felt that it was good,
In reason and in heart. This calm assent
Ye would bely, by midnight miracles
Scar'd, and such signs of darkness as beseem
The daemons whom ye dread! or, likelier,
Dup'd by the craft of those accursed men
Whose trade is blood. Ask thou of thine own heart,
But Helhua broke his speech:
Our bidding is to tell thee, quoth the Priest,
That Aztlan hath restor'd, and will maintain,
Her ancient faith. If it offendeth thee,
Move thou thy dwelling place.
V. - 4
This day have I deposited in earth
My father's bones; and where his bones are laid,
There mine shall moulder.
Malinal at that
Advanced. -- Prince Madoc, said the youth, I come,
True to thy faith and thee, and to the weal
Of Aztlan true, and bearing, for that truth,
Reproach and shame and scorn and obloquy.
In sorrow come I here, a banish'd man;
Here take, in sorrow, my abiding place,
Cut off from all my kin, from all old ties
Divorced; all dear, familiar countenances
No longer to be present to my sight;
The very mother-language which I learnt,
A lisping baby on my mother's knees,
No more with its sweet sounds to comfort me.
So be it.! -- To his brother then he turn'd:
Yuhidthiton, said he, when thou shalt find --
As find thou wilt -- that those accursed men
Have played the juggler with thee, and deceiv'd
Thine honest heart; when Aztlan groans in blood, --
Bid her remember then, that Malinal
Is in the dwellings of her enemy.
Where all his hope in banishment hath been
V. - 5
To intercede for her, and heal her wounds,
And mitigate her righteous punishment.
Sternly and sullenly his brother heard;
Yet hearkened he as one whose heart perforce
Supprest its instinct; and there might be seen
A sorrow in his silent stubbornness.
And now his ministers on either hand
A water-vessel fill, and heap dry sedge
And straw before his face, and fire the pile.
He, looking upward, spread his arms, and cried,
Hear me, ye Gods of Aztlan, as we were,
And are, and will be yours! Behold your foes!
He stooped, and lifted up one ample urn, --
Thus let their blood be shed! -- And far away
He whirl'd the scattering water. Then again
Rais'd the full vase, -- Thus let their lives be quench'd!
And out he pour'd it on the flaming pile.
The steam-cloud, hissing from the extinguish'd heap,
Spread like a mist; and, ere it melted off,
Homeward the heralds of the war had turn'd.
[ 6 ]
To hold the Feast of Souls! seat above seat,
Ranged round the circling theatre they sit.
No light but from the central fire, whose smoke,
Slow passing through the over aperture,
Excludes the day, and fills the conic roof,
And hangs above them like a cloud. Around,
The ghastly bodies of their chiefs are hung,
Shrivell'd and parched by heat; the humbler dead
Lie on the floor; white bones, exposed to view,
On deer or elk skin laid, or softer fur,
Or web, the work of many a mournful hour;
The loathlier forms of flesh mortality
Swath'd, and in decent tenderness conceal'd.
Beside each body pious gifts are laid,
Mantle and belt and feathery coronal,
VI. - 7
The bow he used in war, his drinking-shell,
His arrows for the chase, the sarbacan,
Through whose long tube the slender shaft, breath-driven,
Might pierce the winged game. Husbands and wives,
Parents and children, there in death they lie;
The widow'd and the parent and the child
Look on in silence. Not a sound is heard
But of the crackling brand, or mouldering fire,
Or when, amid yon pendent string of shells,
The slow wind wakes a shrill and feeble sound, --
A sound of sorrow to the mind attun'd
By sights of woe.
Ayayaca at length
Came forward. -- Spirits, is it well with ye?
Is it well, Brethren? said the aged Priest;
Have ye receiv'd your mourning, and the rites
Of righteous grief? or round your dwelling-place
Still do your shadows roam dissatisfied,
And to the cries of wailing woe return
A voice of lamentation? Teach us now,
If we in aught have fail'd, that I, your Priest,
When I shall join ye soon, as soon I must,
May unimpeded pass the perilous floods,
And in the Country of the Dead be hail'd
By you, with song and dance and grateful joy.
VI. - 8
So saying, to the Oracle he turn'd,
Awaiting there the silence which implied
Peaceful assent. Against the eastern wall,
Fronting the narrow portal's winding way,
An Image stood: a cloak of fur disguis'd
The rude proportion of its uncouth limbs;
The skull of some old seer of days of old
Topp'd it, and with a visor this was mask'd,
Honouring the oracular Spirit, who at times
There took his resting place. Ayayaca
Repeated, Brethren, is it well with ye?
And rais'd the visor. But he started back,
Appall'd and shuddering; for a moony light
Lay in its eyeless sockets, and there came
From its immovable and bony jaws
A long, deep groan, thrice uttered, and thrice felt
In every heart of all the hearers round.
The good old Priest stood tottering, like a man
Stricken with palsy; and he gaz'd with eyes
Of asking horror round, as if he look'd
For counsel in that fear. But Neolin
Sprung boldly to the oracle, and cried,
Speak, Spirit! tell us of our sin, and teach
The atonement! A sepulchral voice replied,
Ye have for other Gods forsaken us,
VI. - 9
And we abandon you! -- and crash with that,
The Image fell.
A loud and hideous shriek,
As of a demon, Neolin set up;
So wild a yell, that, even in that hour,
Came with fresh terror to the startled ear.
While yet they sate, pale and irresolute,
Helhua the Azteca came in. He bore
A shield and arrow, tokens these of war,
Yet now beheld with hope, so great relief
They felt his human presence.
Hoamen, hear me!
The messenger began; Erillyab, thou,
Elders and Priests and People! but chiefly thou,
Prince Amalahta, as of these by birth,
So now of years mature, the rightful Lord --
Shall it be peace or war? -- thus Aztlan saith;
She, in her anger, from the land will root
The Children of the Sea; but, viewing ye
In mercy, to your former vassalage
Invites ye, and remits the tribute lives,
And for rebellion claimeth no revenge.
Oh, praise your Gods! cried Neolin, and hail
This day-spring of new hope! Aztlan remits
VI. - 10
The tribute lives, -- what more could Madoc give?
She claimeth no revenge, and, if she claim'd,
He could not save. O Hoamen, bless your Gods;
Appease them! Thou, Prince Amalahta, speak,
And seize the mercy.
In act of speech; but then Erillyab rose. --
Who gives thee, boy, this Elder's privilege?
The Queen exclaim'd; -- and thou, Priest Neolin,
Curb thou thy traitorous tongue! The reign is mine;
I hold it from my father, he from his;
Age before age, beyond the memory
Of man it hath been thus. My father fell
In battle for his people, and his sons
Fell by his side; they perish'd, but their names
Are with the names we love, -- their happy souls
Pursue in fields of bliss the shadowy deer;
The spirit of that noble blood which ran
From their death-wounds is in the ruddy clouds,
Which go before the Sun, when he comes forth
In glory. Last of that illustrious race
Was I, Erillyab. Ye remember well,
Elders, that day when I assembled here
The people, and demanded at their choice
The worthiest, to perpetuate our old line
VI. - 11
Of Kings and Warriors. -- To the wind he spread
His black and blood-red banner. Even now
I hear his war-drum's tripled sound, that call'd
The youth to battle; even now behold
The hope which lit his dark and fiery eye,
And kindled with a sunnier glow his cheek,
As he from yonder war-pole, in his pride,
Took the death-doers down. -- Lo, here the bones
Of King Tepollomi! -- my husband's bones! --
There should be some among ye who beheld,
When, all with arrows quilled, and cloth'd with blood
As with a purple garment, he sustain'd
The unequal conflict, till the Aztecas
Took him at vantage, and their monarch's club
Let loose his struggling soul. Look, Hoamen, here,
See through how wide a wound his spirit fled!
Twenty long years of mournful widowhood
Have passed away; so long have I maintain'd
The little empire left us, loving well
My people, and by them as well belov'd.
Say, Hoamen, am I still your Queen?
The whole assembly rose with one acclaim, --
Still, O Erillyab, O Beloved, rule
Thy own beloved people!
VI. - 12
But the Gods!
Cried Amalahta; -- but the Oracle!
The Oracle! quoth she; what hath it said
That forty years of suffering hath not taught
This wretched people? -- They abandon us?
So let them go! Where were they at that hour,
When, like a blasting night-wind in the spring,
The multitudes of Aztlan came upon us?
Where were they when my father went to war?
Where were they when thy father's stiffen'd corpse,
Even after death a slave, held up the lamp
To light his conqueror's revels? -- Think not, Boy,
To palter with me thus! A fire may tremble
Within the sockets of a skull, and groans
May issue from a dead man's fleshless jaws,
And images may fall, and yet no God
Be there! -- If it had walked abroad with life,
That had indeed been something!
Then she turned
Her voice toward the people. -- Ye have heard
This Priest of Aztlan, whose insidious tongue
Bids ye desert the Children of the Sea,
And vow again your former vassalage.
Speaks Aztlan of the former? O my people!
I too, could tell ye of the former days,
VI. - 13
When yonder plain was ours, with all its woods
And waters and savannas! -- of those days,
When, following where her husband's stronger arm
Had open'd the light glebe, the willing wife
Dropt in the yellow maize; ere long to bear
Its increase to the general store, and toss
Her flowing tresses in the dance of joy.
And I could tell ye how those summer stores
Were hoarded for the invader's winter feasts;
And how the widows clipped those flowing locks,
To strew them, not upon their husband's grave, --
Their husbands had no graves! -- but on the rocks
And mountains in their flight. And even these rocks
And mountains could not save us! year by year,
Our babes, like firstlings of the flock, were cull'd
To be the banquet of these Aztecas!
This very wretch, who tells us of the past,
Hath chosen them for the butchery. -- Oh, I thank you
For this brave anger! -- in your name I take
Gods of Aztlan! Helhua cried,
As to Erillyab's ready hand he gave
The deadly tokenl, in your name I give
The war-gift! Ye have thirsted over long;
Take now your fill of blood! -- He turned away;
VI. - 14
And Queen Erillyab bade the tribe fulfil
Their customary rites.
Bore its own dead, and to the general grave,
With melancholy song and sob of woe,
The slow procession moves. The general grave
Was delved within a deep and shady dell,
Fronting a cavern in the rock, -- the scene
Of many a bloody rite ere Madoc came, --
A temple, as they deem'd, by Nature made,
Where the Snake-Idol stood. On fur and cloth.
Of woven grass, they lay their burthens down,
Within the ample pit; their offerings range
Beside, and piously a portion take
Of that cold earth, to which for ever now
Consign'd they leave their fathers, dust to dust;
Sad relic that, and wise remembrancer.
But, as with bark and resinous boughs they pile
The sepulchre, suddenly Neolin
Sprung up aloft, and shrieked, as one who treads
Upon a viper in his heedless path.
The God! the very God! he cried, and howl'd
One long, shrill, piercing, modulated cry;
Whereat from that dark temple issu'd forth
A Serpent, huge and hideous. On he came,
VI. - 15
Strait to the sound, and curl'd around the Priest
His mighty folds innocuous, overtopping
His human height, and, arching down his head,
Sought in the hands of Neolin for food;
Then questing, rear'd and stretch'd and wav'd his neck,
And glanced his forky tongue. Who then had seen
The man, with what triumphant fearlessness,
Arms, thighs, and neck, and body, wreath'd and ring'd
In those tremendous folds, he stood secure,
Play'd with the reptile's jaws, and call'd for food,
Food for the present God! -- who then had seen
The fiendish joy which fir'd his countenance,
Might well have ween'd that he had summon'd up
The dreadful monster from its native Hell,
By devilish power, himself a fiend inflesh'd.
Blood for the God! he cried; Lincoya's blood!
Friend of the Serpent's foe! -- Lincoya's blood!
Cried Amalahta; and the people turn'd
Their eyes to seek the victim, as if each
Sought his own safety in that sacrifice.
Alone Erillyab raised her voice, confus'd,
But not confounded; she alone exclaim'd,
Madoc shall answer this! Unheard her voice
By the bewilder'd people, by the Priest
VI. - 16
Unheeded; and Lincoya sure had fallen
The victim of their terror n that hour
Had he been found; but, when his watchful eye
Beheld the monster from his den come forth,
He fled to bear the tidings. -- Neolin
Repeats the accursed call, Food for the God!
Ayayaca, his unbelieving Priest!
At once all eager eyes were fix'd on him;
But he came forward calmly at the call.
Lo! here am I! quoth he; and, from his head
Plucking the thin gray hairs, he dealt them round. --
Countrymen, kinsmen, brethren, children, take
These in remembrance of me! there will be
No relick of your aged Priest but this.
From manhood to old age, full threescore years,
Have I been your true servant: fit it is
That I, who witness'd Aztlan's first assault,
Should perish her last victim! -- And he mov'd
Towards the death; but then Erillyab
Seiz'd him, and by the garment drew him, back! --
By the Great Spirit, but he shall not die!
The Queen exclaim'd; nor shalt thou triumph thus,
Lyar and traitor! Hoamen, to your homes!
Madoc shall answer this!
VI. - 17
They heard, and inobedient; to obey
Fearing, yet fearful to remain. Anon
The Queen, repeats her bidding, To your homes,
My people! -- But when Neolin perceiv'd
The growing stir and motion of the crowd,
As from the outward ring they mov'd away,
He uttered a new cry, and, disentangling
The passive reptile's folds, rush'd out among them,
With outstretch'd hands, like one possess'd, to seize
His victim. Then they fled; for who could tell
On whom the madman, in that hellish fit,
Might cast the lot? An eight-years boy he seiz'd,
And held him by the leg, and, whirling him
In ritual dance, till breath and sense were gone,
Set up the death-song of the sacrifice.
Amalahta, and what others rooted love
Of evil leagued with. him, accomplices
In treason, join'd the death-song and the dance.
Some, too, there were, believing what they fear'd,
Who yielded to their old idolatry,
And mingled in the worship. Round and round
The accursed minister of murder whirl'd
His senseless victim; they, too, round and round
In maddening motion, and with maddening cries
VI. - 18
Revolving, whirled and wheeled. At length, when now,
According to old rites, he should have dash'd
On the stone Idol's head the wretch's brains,
Neolin stopt, and once again began
The long, shrill, piercing, modulated cry.
The Serpent knew the call, and, rolling on,
Wave above wave, his rising length, advanced
His open jaws; then, with the expected prey,
Glides to the dark recesses of his den.
[ 19 ]
His loins, and, like a roebuck, o'er the hills
He sped. He met Cadwallon and the Prince
In arms, so quickly Madoc had obey'd
Lincoya's call: at noon he heard the call,
And still the sun was riding high in heaven,
When up the valley where the Hoamen dwelt
He led his twenty spears. O welcome, friend
And brother! cried the Queen. Even as thou saidst,
So hath it proved; and those accursed schemes
Of treachery, which that wretched boy reveal'd
Under the influence of thy potent drink,
Have ripen'd to effect. From what a snare
The timely warning saved me! for, be sure,
What I had seen I else should have believed,
In utter fear confounded. The Great Spirit,
VII. - 20
Who taught thee to foresee the evil thing,
Will give thee power to quell it.
On they went
Toward the dell, where now the Idolaters
Had built their dedicated fire, and still
With feast, and fits of song, and violent dance,
Pursued their rites. When Neolin perceived
The Prince approach, fearlessly he came forth,
And raised his arm, and cried, Strangers, away!
Away, profane! hence to your mother-land!
Hence to your waters! for the God is here; --
He came for blood, and he shall have his fill!.
Seize him! exclaimed the Prince;
Nor had he time for motion nor for flight,
So instantly was that command obey'd.
Hoamen, said Madoc, hear me! -- I came here,
Stranger alike to Aztlan and to you;
I found ye an oppressed, wretched race,
Groaning beneath your chains; at your request,
For your deliverance I unsheath'd the sword,
Redeemed ye from your bondage, and preserv'd
Your children from the slaughter. With those foes,
Whose burden ye for forty years endur'd,
This traitor hath conspir'd, against yourselves,
VII. - 21
Your Queen, and me, your friend; the solemn faith
Which in the face of yonder sun we pledged,
Each to the other, this accursed man
Hath broken, and hath stained his hands this day
With innocent blood. Life must atone for life:
Ere I destroy the Serpent, whom his wiles
Have train'd so well, last victim, he shall glut
The monster's maw.
Strike, man! quoth Neolin:
This is my consummation, the reward
Of my true faith! the best that I could ask,
The best the God could give: -- to rest in him,
Body with body be incorporate,
Soul into soul absorb'd, and I and he
One life, inseparable, for ever more.
Strike! I am weary of this mortal part;
Unite me to the God!
He spake; the assembl'd people, at his words,
With rising awe gaz'd on the miscreant;
Madoc himself, when now he would have giv'n
The sign for death, in admiration paus'd;
Such power hath fortitude. And he perceiv'd
The auspicious moment, and set up his cry.
Forth, from the dark recesses of the cave,
VII. - 22
The Serpent came: the Hoamen at the sight
Shouted; and they who held the Priest, appall'd,
Relax'd their hold. On came the mighty Snake,
And twin'd, in many a wreath, round Neolin,
Darting aright, aleft, his sinuous neck,
With searching eye, and lifted jaw, and tongue
Quivering, and hiss as of a heavy shower
Upon the summer woods. The Britons stood
Astounded at the powerful reptile's bulk,
And that strange sight. His girth was as of man;
But easily could he have overtopp'd
Goliath's helm'd head, or that huge King
Of Basan, hugest of the Anakim.
What then was human strength, if once involv'd
Within those dreadful coils? -- The multitude
Fell prone, and worshipp'd; pale Erillyab grew,
And turn'd upon the Prince a doubtful eye; The
Britons too were pale, albeit they held
Their spears protended; and they also look'd
On Madoc, who the while stood silently,
Contemplating how wiseliest he might cope
With that surpassing strength.
Well hoping now success, when he had aw'd
The general feeling thus, exclaim'd aloud,
VII. - 23
Blood for the God! give him the Stranger's blood!
Avenge him on his foes! and then, perchance,
Terror had urged them to some desperate deed,
Had Madoc ponder'd more, or paus'd in act
One moment. From the sacrificial flames
He snatch'd a firebrand, and with fire and sword
Rush'd at the monster; back the monster drew
His head upraised recoiling, and the Prince
Smote Neolin; all circled as he was,
And clipped in his false Deity's embrace,
Smote he the accursed Priest; the avenging sword
Fell on his neck; through flesh and bone it drove
Deep in the chest: the wretched criminal
Tottered, and those huge rings a moment held
His bloody corpse upright, while Madoc struck
The Serpent: twice he struck him, and the sword
Glanced from the impenetrable scales; nor more
Availed its thrust, though driven by that strong arm;
For on the unyielding skin the temper'd blade
Bent. He sprung upward then, and in the eyes
Of the huge monster flash'd the fiery brand.
Impatient of the smoke and burning, back
The reptile wreath'd, and from his loosening clasp
Dropt the dead Neolin, and turn'd, and fled
To his dark den.
VII. - 24
The Hoamen, at that sight,
Rais'd a loud wonder-cry with one accord,
Great is the Son of Ocean, and his God
Is mightiest! But Erillyab silently
Approach'd the great Deliverer: her whole frame
Trembled with strong emotion; and she took
His hand, and gazed a moment earnestly,
Having no power of speech, till with a gush
Of tears her utterance came, and she exclaim'd,
Blessed art thou, my brother! for the power
Of God is in thee! and she would have kiss'd
His hand in adoration; but he cried,
God is indeed with us, and in his name
Will we complete the work! -- then to the cave
Advanced, and call'd for fire. Bring fire! quoth he;
By his own element this spawn of hell
Shall perish! and he entered to explore
The cavern depths. Cadwallon followed him,
Bearing in either hand a flaming brand;
For sword or spear avail'd not.
Far in the hill,
Cave within cave, the ample grotto pierced,
Three chambers in the rock. Fit vestibule
The first to that wild temple, long and low,
Shut out the outward day. The second vault
VII. - 25
Had its own daylight from a central chasm
High in the hollow; here the Image stood,
Their rude idolatry, -- a sculptured snake, --
If term of art may such misshapen form
Beseem, -- around a human figure coil'd,
And all begrimed with blood. The inmost cell
Dark; and far up, within its blackest depth,
They saw the Serpent's still small eye of fire.
Not if they thinn'd the forest for their pile,
Could they with flame or suffocating smoke
Destroy him there; for through the open roof
The clouds would pass away. They paus'd not long:
Drive him beneath the chasm, Cadwallon cried,
And hem him in with fire, and from above
We crush him.
Forth they went, and climbed the hill,
With all their people. Their united strength
Loosened the rocks, and ranged them round the brink,
Impending. With Cadwallon on the height
Ten Britons wait; ten with the Prince descend,
And, with a firebrand each in either hand,
Enter the outer cave. Madoc advanced;
And, at the entrance of the inner den,
He took his stand alone. A bow he bore,
And arrows round whose heads dry tow was twin'd,
VII. - 26
In pine-gum dipped; he kindled these, and shot
The fiery shafts. Upon the mailed skin,
As on a rock, the bone-tipt arrows fell;
But, at their bright and blazing light effray'd,
Out rush'd the reptile. Madoc from his path
Retir'd against the side, and called his men;
And in they came, and circled round the Snake,
And, shaking all their flames, as with a wheel
Of fire they ring'd him in. From side to side
The monster turns; -- where'er he turns, the flame
Flares in his nostrils and his blinking eyes;
Nor aught against the dreaded element
Did that brute force avail, which could have crush'd
Milo's young limbs, or Theban Hercules,
Or old Manoah's mightier son, ere yet
Shorn of his strength. They press him now, and now
Give back, here urging, and here yielding way,
Till right beneath the chasm they centre him.
At once the crags are loosed, and down they fall
Thundering. They fell like thunder; but the crash
Of scale and bone was heard. In agony
The Serpent writh'd beneath the blow; in vain
From under the incumbent load essay'd
To drag his mangled folds. One heavier stone
Fasten'd and flattened him; yet still, with tail
VII. - 27
Ten cubits long, he lash'd the air, and foin'd
From side to side, and rais'd his raging head
Above the height of man, though half his length
Lay mutilate. Who then had felt the force
Of that wild fury, little had to him
Buckler or corselet profited, or mail,
Or might of human arm. The Britons shrunk
Beyond its arc of motion; but the Prince
Took a long spear, and, springing on the stone
Which fix'd the monster down, provok'd his rage.
Uplifts the Snake his head retorted, high
He lifts it over Madoc, then darts down
To seize his prey. The Prince, with foot advanced,
Inclines his body back, and points the spear
With sure and certain aim, then drives it up
Into his open jaws; two cubits deep
It pierced, the monster forcing on the wound.
He clos'd his teeth for anguish, and bit short
The ashen hilt. But not the rage which now
Clangs all his scales can from its seat dislodge
The barbed shaft; nor those contortions wild,
Nor those convulsive shudderings, nor the throes
Which shake his inmost entrails, as with the air
In suffocating gulps the monster now
Inhales his own life-blood. The Prince descends;
VII. - 28
He lifts another lance; and now the Snake,
Gasping as if exhausted, on the ground
Reclines his head one moment. Madoc seiz'd
That moment, planted in his eye the spear;
Then, setting foot upon his neck, drove down
Through bone and brain and throat, and to the earth
Infix'd the mortal weapon. Yet once more
The Snake essayed to rise; his dying strength
Fail'd him, nor longer did those mighty folds
Obey the moving impulse, crush'd and scotch'd;
In every ring, through all his mangled length,
The shrinking muscles quivered, then collaps'd
Cadwallon and his comrades now
Enter the den; they roll away the crag
Which fix'd him down, pluck out the mortal spear,
Then drag him forth to day; the force conjoin'd
Of all the Britons difficulty drag
His lifeless bulk. But when the Hoamen saw
That form portentous trailing in its gore,
The jaws which in the morning they had seen
Purpled with: human blood, now in their own
Blackening, -- aknee they fell before the Prince,
And, in adoring admiration rais'd
Their hands with one accord, and all in fear
VII. - 29
Worshipped the mighty Deicide. But he,
Recoiling from those sinful honors, cried,
Drag out the Idol now, and heap the fire,
That all may be consum'd!
Forthwith they heaped
The sacrificial fire, and on the pile
The Serpent, and the Image and the corpse
Of Neolin were laid; with prompt supply
They feed the raging flames, hour after hour,
Till now the black and nauseous smoke is spent,
And, mingled with the ruins of the pile,
The undistinguishable ashes lay.
Go! cried Prince Madoc, cast them in the stream,
And scatter them upon the winds, that so
No relic of this foul idolatry
Pollute the land. To-morrow meet me here,
Hoamen, and I will purify yon den
Of your abominations. Come ye here
With humble hearts; for ye, too, in the sight.
Of the Great Spirit, the Beloved One,
Must be made pure, and cleans'd from your offence,
And take upon yourselves his holy law.
[ 30 ]
And on how fair a scene! Before the Cave
The Elders of the Hoamen wait the will
Of their Deliverer; ranged without their ring,
The tribe look on, thronging the narrow vale,
And what of gradual rise the shelving comb
Display'd, or steeper eminence of wood,
Broken with crags and sunny slope of green,
And grassy platform. With the Elders sate
The Queen and Prince, their rank's prerogative,
Excluded else for sex unfit, and youth
For counsel immature. Before the arch,
To that rude fane, rude portal, stands the Cross,
By Madoc's hand victorious planted there.
And, lo, Prince Madoc comes! no longer mail'd
VIII. - 31
In arms of mortal might; the spear and sword,
The hauberk and the helmet laid aside,
Gorget and gauntlet, greaves and shield, -- he comes
In peaceful tunic clad, and mantle long;
His hyacinthine locks now shadowing
That face, which late, with iron overbrow'd,
Struck from within the aventayle such awe
And terror to the heart. Bareheaded he,
Following the servant of the altar, leads
The reverential train. Before them, rais'd
On high, the sacred images are borne;
There, in faint semblance, holiest Mary bends
In virgin beauty o'er her babe divine, --
A sight which almost to idolatry
Might win the soul by love. But who can gaze
Upon that other. form, which on the rood
In agony is stretch'd? -- his hands transfix'd,
And lacerate with the body's pendent weight;
The black and deadly paleness of his face,
Streak'd with the blood which from that crown of scorn
Hath ceas'd to flow; the side-wound streaming still;
And open still those eyes, from which the look
Not yet hath passed away, that went to, Heaven,
When, in that hour, the Son of Man exclaim'd,
Forgive them, for they know not what they do!
VIII. - 32
And now, arrived before the cave, the train
Halt to the assembled elders, where they sate
Ranged in half-circle, Madoc then advanced,
And raised, as if in act to speak, his hand.
Thereat was every human sound suppress'd;
And every quickened ear and eager eye
Center'd on his lips.
The Prince began, --
Hoamen, friends, brethren, -- friends we have been long,
And brethren shall be, ere the day go down, --
I come not here propounding doubtful things,
For counsel, and deliberate resolve
Of searching thought; but with authority
From Heaven, to give the law, and to enforce
Obedience. Ye shall worship God alone,
The One Eternal. That Beloved One
Ye shall not serve with offer'd fruits, or smoke
Of sacrificial fire, or blood, or life;
Far other sacrifice he claims, -- a soul
Resign'd, a will subdued, a heart made clean
From all offence. Not for your lots on earth,
Menial or mighty, slave or highly-born,
For cunning in the chase, or strength in war,
Shall ye be judged hereafter; -- as ye keep
The law of love, as ye shall tame your wrath,
VIII. - 33
Forego revenge, forgive your enemies,
Do good to them that wrong ye, ye will find
Your bliss or bale. This law came down from Heaven.
Lo, ye behold Him there by whom it came;
The Spirit was in Him, and for the sins
Of man He suffer'd thus, and by His death
Must all mankind be blest. Not knowing Him,
Ye wandered on in error; knowing now,
And not obeying, what was error once
Is guilt and wilful wrong. If ever more
Ye bow to your false deities the knee,
If ever more ye worship them with feast,
Or sacrifice or dance, whoso offends
Shall from among the people be cut off
Like a corrupted member, lest he taint
The whole with death. With what appointed rites
Your homage must be paid, ye shall be taught;
Your children, in the way that they shall go,
Train'd from childhood up. Make ye, meantime,
Your prayer to that Beloved One who sees
The secrets of all hearts; and set ye up
This, the memorial of his chosen Son,
And Her who, blessed among women, fed
The Appointed at Her breast, and by His cross
Endur'd intenser anguish, therefore sharing
VIII. - 34
His glory now, with sunbeams rob'd, the Moon
Her footstool, and a wreath of stars her crown.
Hoamen, ye deem us children of a race
Mightier than ye, and wiser, and by heaven
Beloved and favour'd more. From this pure law
Hath all proceeded, -- wisdom, power, whate'er
Here elevates the soul, and makes it ripe
For higher powers and more exalted bliss.
Share then our law, and be with us, on earth,
Partakers of these blessings, and in Heaven
Co-heritors with us of endless joy.
Ere yet one breath or motion had disturb'd
The reverential hush, Erillyab rose.
My people, said the Queen, their God is best
And mightiest. Him to whom we offer'd up
Blood of our blood, and of our flesh the flesh,
Vainly we deemed divine; no spirit he
Of good or evil, by the conquering arm
Of Madoc mortal proved. What then remains,
But that the blessing proffer'd thus in love,
In love we take? -- Deliverer; Teacher, Friend,
First in the fellowship of faith I claim
The initiatory rite.
VIII. - 35
I also, cried
The venerable Priest Ayayaca,
Old as I am, I also, like a child,
Would learn this wisdom yet before I die.
The Elders rose, and answered, We and all!
And from the congregated tribe burst forth
One universal shout: -- Great is the God
Of Madoc, -- worthy to be serv'd is He!
Then to the mountain rivulet, which roll'd
Like amber over its dark bed of rock,
Did Madoc lead Erillyab, in the name
Of Jesus, to his Christian family,
Accepted now. On her and on her son,
The Elders and the People, Llorien
Sprinkled the sanctifying waters. Day
Was scarcely two hours old when he began
His work, and when he ceas'd, the sun had past
The heights of noon. Ye saw that blessed work,
Sons of the Cymry, Cadog, Deiniol,
Padarn, and Teilo! ye whose sainted names
Your monumental temples still record;
Thou, David, still rever'd, who in the vale,
Where, by old Hatterill's wintry torrents swoln,
Rude Hodney rolls his raging stream, didst choose
VIII. - 36
Thy hermit home; and ye who by the sword
Of the fierce Saxon, when the bloodier Monk
Urged on the work of murder, for your faith
And freedom fell, -- Martyrs and Saints, ye saw
This triumph of the Cymry and the Cross,
And struck your golden harps to hymns of joy.
[ 37 ]
Came from the ships, leading an Azteca
Guarded and bound. Prince Madoc, said the Bard,
Lo! the first captive of our arms I bring.
Alone, beside the river I had stray'd,
When, from his lurking-place, the savage hurl'd
A javelin. At the rustle of the reeds,
From whence the blow was aim'd, I turn'd in time,
And heard it whizz beside me. Well it was,
That from the ships they saw and succour'd me;
For, subtle as a serpent in my grasp,
He seem'd all joint and flexure; nor had I
Armour to ward, nor weapon to offend,
To battle all unus'd and unprepar'd;
But I too, here upon this barbarous land,
IX. - 38
Like Elmur and like Arohan of old,
Must lift the ruddy spear.
This is no day
For vengeance, answered Madoc, else his deed
Had met no mercy. Freely let him go!
Perchance the tidings of our triumph here
May yet reclaim his country. -- Azteca,
Go, let your Pabas know that we have crush'd
Their complots here; beneath our righteous sword
The Priest and his false Deity have fallen;
The idols been consum'd, and, in their stead,
The emblems of our holy faith set up,
Whereof the Hoamen have this day been made
Partakers. Say to Aztlan, when she too,
Will make her temples clean, and put away
Her foul abominations, and accept
The Christian Cross, that Madoc then accords
Forgiveness for the past, and peace to come.
This better part let her, of her free will
And wisdom, choose in time.
Till Madoc spake,
The captive reckless of his peril stood,
Gazing with resolute and careless eye,
As one in whom the lot of life or death
Moved neither fear nor feeling; but that eye
IX. - 39
Now sparkling with defiance, -- Seek ye peace?
He cried; O weak and woman-hearted man!
Already wouldst thou lay the sword to rest?
Not with the burial of the sword this strife
Must end; for never doth the Tree of Peace
Strike root and flourish, till the strong man's hand
Upon his enemy's grave hath planted it.
Come ye to Aztlan then in quest of peace?
Ye feeble souls, if that be what ye seek
Fly hence! our Aztlan suffers on her soil
No living stranger.
Do thy bidding, Chief!
Calmly Cadwallon answered. To her choice
Let Aztlan look, lest what she now reject
In insolence of strength, she take upon her
In sorrow, and in suffering, and in shame,
By strong compulsion, penitent too late.
Thou hast beheld our ships with gallant men
Freighted, a numerous force; -- and for our arms, --
Surely thy nation hath acquir'd of them
Curse upon your arms!
Exclaimed the Savage. -- Is there one among you
Dare lay that cowardly advantage by,
And meet me, man to man, in honest strife?
IX. - 40
That I might grapple with him, weaponless,
On yonder rock, breast against breast, fair force
Of limb and breath and blood; -- till one or both,
Dashed down the shattering precipice, should feed
The mountain-eagle! -- Give me, I beseech you,
As wisely, said Cynetha's son,
Thy foe might challenge thee, and bid thee let
Thy strong right hand hang idle in the fray,
That so his weakness with thy strength might cope
In equal battle! -- Not in wrongful war,
The tyrants of our weaker brethren,
Wield we these dreadful arms; -- but when assail'd
By fraud and force, when called upon to aid
The feeble and oppressed, shall we not
Then put our terrors forth, and thunder-strike
Silently the Savage heard;
Joy brighten'd in his eyes, as they unloos'd
His bonds; he stretch'd his arms at length, to feel
His liberty; and, like a greyhound then
Slipt from the leash, he bounded o'er the hills.
What was from early morning till noon day
The steady travel of a well-girt man,
He, with fleet feet and unfatiguable,
IX. - 41
In three short hours hath traversed; in the lake
He dash'd, now shooting forth his pointed arms,
Arrow-like darting on; recumbent now,
Forces, with springing feet, his easier way;
Then with new speed, as freshen'd by repose,
Again he breasts the water. On the shore
Of Aztlan now he stands, and breathes at will,
And wrings his dripping locks; then through the gate
Pursued his way.
Green garlands deck the gate;
Gay are the temples with green boughs affix'd;
The door-posts and the lintels hung with wreaths;
The fire of sacrifice, with flames bedimm'd,
Burns in the sunlight, pale; the victims wait
Around, impatient of their death delay'd.
The Priest, before Tezcalipoca's shrine,
Watches the maize-strewn threshold, to announce
The footsteps of the God; for this the day,
When to his favour'd city he vouchsafes
His annual presence, and, with unseen feet,
Imprints the maize-strewn threshold; follow'd soon
By all whose altars with eternal fires
Aztlan illum'd, and fed with human blood; --
Mexitli, woman-born, who from the womb,
Child of no mortal sire, leaped terrible,
IX. - 42
The arm'd avenger of his mother's fame;
And he whose will the subject winds obey,
Quetzalcoatl, and Tlaloc, Water-God,
And all the host of Deities, whose power
Requites with bounty Aztlan's pious zeal,
Health and rich increase giving to her sons,
And withering in the war her enemies.
So taught the Priests; and therefore were the gates
Green-garlanded, the temples green with boughs,
The door-posts and the lintels hung with wreaths;
And yonder victims, ranged around the fire,
Are destined, with the steam of sacrifice,
To greet their dreadful coming.
With the train.
Of Warrior-Chiefs Coanacotzin stood,
That, when the Priest proclaim'd the enter'd God,
His lips before the present Deity
Might pour effectual prayer. The assembled Chiefs
Saw Tlalala approach, more welcome now,
As one whose absence from the appointed rites
Had waken'd fear and wonder. -- Think not ye,
The youth exclaimed, careless impiety
Could this day lead me wandering. I went forth
To dip my javelin in the Strangers' blood, --
A sacrifice, methought, our Gods had lov'd
IX. - 43
To scent, and sooner hastened to enjoy.
I fail'd, and fell a prisoner; but their fear
Released me, -- coward fear, or idiot hope,
That, like Yuhidthiton, I might become
Their friend, and merit chastisement from Heaven,
Pleading the Strangers' cause. They bade me go,
And proffer peace. -- Chiefs, were it possible
That tongue of mine could win you to that shame,
Out would I pluck the member, though my soul
Followed its bloody roots. The Stranger finds
No peace in Aztlan but the peace of death!
'Tis bravely said! Yuhidthiton replied,
And fairly may'st thou boast, young Tlalala;
For thou art brave in battle. Yet 'twere well
If that same fearless tongue were taught to check
Its boyish license now. No law forbade
Our friendship with the Stranger, when my voice
Pleaded for proffered peace; that fault I shar'd
In common with the King, and with the Chiefs,
The Pabas, and the People, none foreseeing
Danger or guilt: but, when at length the Gods
Made evident their wrath in prodigies,
I yielded to their manifested will
My prompt obedience. -- Bravely hast thou said,
IX. - 44
And brave thou art, young Tyger of the War!
But thou hast dealt with other enemies
Than these impenetrable men, -- with foes
Whose conquer'd Gods lie idle in their chains,
And with tame weakness brook captivity.
When thou hast met the strangers in the fight,
And in the doings of that fight outdone
Yuhidthiton, revile him then for one
Slow to defend his country and his faith;
Till then, with reverence, as beseems thy youth,
Respect thou his full fame!
I wrong it not!
I wrong it not! cried the young Azteca;
But truly, as I hope to equal it,
Honor thy well-earned glory. -- But this peace! --
Renounce it! -- say that it shall never be! --
Never, as long as there are Gods in Heaven,
Or men in Aztlan!
That, the King replied,
The Gods themselves have answer'd. Never yet
By holier ardour were our countrymen
Possess'd: peace-offerings of repentance fill
The temple courts; from every voice ascends
The contrite prayer; daily the victim's heart
Sends its propitiatory steam to Heaven;
IX. - 45
And, if the aid divine may be procur'd
By the most dread solemnities of faith,
And rigour of severest penitence,
Soon shall the present influence strengthen us,
And Aztlan be triumphant.
While they spake,
The ceaseless sound of song and instrument
Rung through the air, now rising like the voice
Of angry ocean, now subsiding soft
As when the breeze of evening dies away.
The horn, and shrill-ton'd pipe, and drum, that gave
Its music to the hand, and hollowe'd wood,
Drum-like, whose thunders, ever and anon
Commingling with the sea-shell's spiral roar,
Clos'd the full harmony. And now the eve
Past on, and, through the twilight visible,
The frequent fire-flies' brightening beauties shone.
Anxious and often now the Priest survey'd
The maize-strewn threshold; for the wonted hour
Was come, and yet no footstep of the God!
More radiant now the fire of sacrifice,
Fed to full fury, blaz'd; and its red smoke
Imparted to the darker atmosphere
Such obscure light, as, o'er Vesuvio seen,
Or pillar'd upon Etna's mountain head,
IX. - 46
Makes darkness dreadful. In the captives' cheeks
Then might a livid paleness have been seen,
And wilder terror in their ghastly eyes,
Expecting momently the pang of death.
Soon in the multitude a doubt arose,
Which none durst mention, lest his neighbour's fears,
Divulged, should strengthen his: - the hour was past,
And yet no foot had mark'd the sprinkled maize.
[ 47 ]
And every wondering eye disclos'd the fear
Which on the tongue was trembling, when to the King,
Emaciate like some bare anatomy,
And deadly pale, Tezozomoc was led
By two supporting Priests. Ten painful months,
Immured amid the forest had he dwelt,
In abstinence and solitary prayer
Passing his nights and days: thus did the Gods.
From their High Priest exact, when they enforced,
By danger or distress, the penance due
For public sins; and he had dwelt ten months,
Praying and fasting, and in solitude,
Till now might every bone of his lean limbs
Be told, and in his starv'd and bony face
The living eye appear'd unnatural, --
A ghostly sight.
X. - 48
In breathless eagerness
The multitude drew round as he began, --
O King, the Gods of Aztlan are not come;
They will not come before the Strangers' blood
Smoke on their altars: but they have beheld
My days of prayer, and nights of watchfulness,
And fasts austere, and bloody disciplines,
And have reveal'd their pleasure. Who is here
Who to the White King's dwelling-place dare go,
And execute their will?
Scarce had he said,
When Tlalala exclaimed, I am the man.
Hear then! Tezozomoc replied. -- Ye know
That self-denial and long penance purge
The film and foulness of mortality,
For more immediate intercourse with Heaven
Preparing the pure spirit; and all eyes
May witness that with no relaxing zeal
I have performed my duty. Much I fear'd
For Aztlan's sins, and oft, in bitterness,
Have groan'd and bled for her iniquity;
But chiefly for this solemn day the fear
Was strong upon me, lest her Deities,
Estrang'd, should turn away, and we be left
X. - 49
A spiritless and God-abandon'd race,
A warning to the earth. Ten weary months
Have the raw maize and running water been
My only food; but not a grain of maize
Hath stayed the gnawing appetite, nor drop
Of water cool'd my parch'd and painful tongue,
Since yester morn arose. Fasting I pray'd,
And, praying, gash'd myself; and all night long
I watched and wept, and supplicated Heaven,
Till the weak flesh, its life-blood almost drain'd,
Sunk with the long austerity: a dread
Of death came over me; a deathy chill
Ran through my veins, and loosen'd every limb;
Dim grew mine eyes; and I could feel my heart,
Dying away within me, intermit
Its slow and feeble throbs, then suddenly
Start, as it seemed exerting all its force
In one last effort. On the ground I fell,
I know not if entranced, or dead indeed,
But without motion, hearing, sight, or sense,
Feeling, or breath, or life. From that strange state,
Even in such blessed freedom from all pain
That sure I thought myself in very Heaven,
I woke, and raised my eyelids, and beheld
X. - 50
A light which seemed to penetrate my bones
With life and health. Before me, visible,
Stood Coatlantona; a wreath of flowers
Circled her hair, and from their odorous leaves
Arose a lambent flame; not fitfully,
Nor with faint flash or spark of earthly flowers:
From these, for ever flowing forth, there play'd,
In one perpetual dance of pointed light,
The azure radiance of innocuous fire.
She spake: -- Hear, Aztlan! and give ear, O King!
She said, Not yet the offended Gods relax
Their anger; they require the Strangers' blood
The foretaste of their banquet. Let their will
Be known to Aztlan, and the brave perform
Their bidding: I, meantime, will seek to soothe,
With all a mother's power, Mexitli's wrath.
So let the maidens daily with fresh flowers
Garland my temple! -- Daily with fresh flowers
Garland her temple, Aztlan! and revere
The gentle mother of thy guardian God!
And let the brave, exclaimed young Tlalala;
Perform her bidding! Servant of the Gods,
Declare their will -- Is it that I should seek
The Strangers, in the first who meets my way
X. - 51
To plunge the holy weapon? Say thou to me,
Do this; -- and I depart to do the deed,
Though my life-blood should mingle with the foe's.
O brave young Chief! Tezozomoc replied;
With better fortune may the grateful Gods
Reward thy valour! deed so hazardous
They ask not. Couldst thou from the mountain holds
Tempt one of these accursed to pursue
Thine artful flight, an ambush'd band might rise
Upon the unsuspecting enemy,
And intercept return; then hitherward
The captive should be led, and Aztlan's Gods
On their own altars see the sacrifice,
Well pleas'd, and Aztlan's sons, inspirited,
Behold the omen of assured success.
Thou know'st that Tlaloc's annual festival
Is close at hand. A Stranger's child would prove
A victim, whose rare value would deserve
His certain favour. More I need not say.
Chuse thou the force for ambush; and thyself
Alone, or with a chosen comrade, seek
The mountain dwellers.
Instant as he ceas'd,
Ocelopan exclaim'd, I go with thee,
X. - 52
O Tlalala! my friend! -- If one alone
Could have the honor of this enterprize,
My love might yield it thee; -- but thou wilt need
A comrade. -- Tlalala, I go with thee!
The Chief replied,Whom should my heart select,
Its tried companion else, but thee, so oft
My brother in the battle? We will go,
Shedder of blood! together will we go,
Now, ere the midnight!
Nay, the Priest replied,
A little while delay; and, ere ye go,
Devote yourselves to Heaven! Feebly he spake,
Like one exhausted; gathering then new force,
As with laborious effort, he pursued, --
Bedew Mexitli's altar with your blood,
And go beneath his guidage. I have yet
Strength to officiate, and to bless your zeal.
So saying, to the Temple of the God
He led the way. The warriors followed him;
And, with his chiefs, Coanocotzin went,
To grace with all solemnity the rite.
They pass the Wall of Serpents, and ascend
The massive fabric; four times they surround
Its ample square; the fifth, they reach the height.
X. - 53
There, on the level top, two temple-towers
Were rear'd: the one, Tezealipoca's fane,
Supreme of Heaven, where now the wily Priest
Stood, watchful for his. presence, and observ'd
The maize-strewn threshold. His the other pile,
By whose peculiar power and patronage
Aztlan was blest, Mexitli, woman-born.
Before the entrance, the eternal fire
Was burning; bare of foot they enter'd there.
On a blue throne, with four huge silver snakes,
As if the keepers of the sanctuary,
Circled, with stretching neck, and fangs display'd,
Mexitli sate; another graven snake
Belted with scales of gold his monster bulk.
Around the neck a loathsome collar hung,
Of human hearts; the face was mask'd with gold;
His specular eyes seem'd fire; one hand uprear'd
A club; the other, as in battle, held
The shield; and over all, suspended, hung
The banner of the nation. They beheld
In awe, and knelt before the Terrible God.
Guardian of Aztlan! cried Tezozomoc,
Who to thy mortal mother hast assign'd
X. - 54
The kingdom o'er all trees and arborets
And herbs and flowers, giving her endless life,
A Deity among the Deities;
While Coatlantona implores thy love
To thine own people, they in fear approach
Thy awful fane, who know no fear beside,
And offer up the worthiest sacrifice,
The blood of heroes!
To the ready Chiefs
He turn'd, and said, Now stretch your arms, and make
The offering to the God. They their bare arms
Stretch'd forth, and stabb'd them with the aloe-point.
Then, in a golden vase, Tezozomoc
Received the mingled streams, and held it up
Toward the giant Idol, and exclaim'd,
Terrible God! Protector of our realm!
Receive thine incense! Let the steam of blood
Ascend to thee, delightful! So mayst thou
Still to thy chosen people lend thine aid;
And these blaspheming strangers from the earth
Be swept away, as erst the monster race
Of Mammuth, Heaven's fierce ministers of wrath,
Who drain'd the lakes in thirst, and for their food
Exterminated nations. And as when,
Their dreadful ministry of death fulfill'd,
X. - 55
Ipalnemoani, by whom we live,
Bade thee go forth, and with thy lightnings fill
The vault of Heaven, and with thy thunders rock
The rooted earth, till of the monster race
Only their monumental bones remained;
So arm thy favour'd people with thy might,
Terrible God! and purify the land
From these blaspheming foes!
He said, and gave
Ocelopan the vase. -- Chiefs, ye have pour'd
Your strength and courage to the Terrible God,
Devoted to his service: take ye now
The beverage he hath hallow'd. In your youth.
Ye have quaff'd manly blood, that manly thoughts
Might ripen in your hearts; so now with this,
Which mingling from such noble veins hath flow'd,
Increase of valor drink, and added force.
Ocelopan received the bloody vase,
And drank, and gave in silence to his friend
The consecrated draught; then Tlalala
Drain'd off the offering. Braver blood than this
My lips can never taste! quoth he; but soon
Grant me, Mexitli, a more grateful cup, --
The stranger's life.
Are all the rites perform'd?
X. - 56
Ocelopan enquir'd. Yea, all is done,
Answered the Priest. Go! and the guardian God
of Aztlan be your guide!
They left the fane.
Lo! as Tezozomoc was passing by
The eternal fire, the eternal fire shot up
A long blue flame. He started; he exclaimed,
The God! the God! Tezcalipoca's Priest
Echoed the welcome cry, The God! the God!
For, lo! his footsteps mark the maize-strewn floor!
A mighty shout from all the multitudes
Of Aztlan rose; they cast into the fire
The victims, whose last shrieks of agony
Mingled unheeded with the cries of joy.
Then louder from the spiral sea-shell's depth
Swell'd the full roar, and from the hollow wood
Peal'd deeper thunders. Round the choral band,
The circling nobles, gay with gorgeous plumes,
And gems which sparkled to the midnight fire,
Mov'd in the solemn dance; each in his hand,
In measur'd movements lifts the feathery shield,
And shakes a rattling ball to measur'd sounds.
With quicker steps, the inferior chiefs without,
Equal in number, but in just array,
The spreading radii of the mystic wheel,
X. - 57
Revolve; and, outermost, the youths roll round,
In motions rapid as their quicken'd blood.
So thus with song and harmony, the night
Passed on in Aztlan, and all hearts rejoiced.
[ 58 ]
Shedder of Blood and Tiger of the War,
Ocelopan and Tlalala set forth.
With chosen followers, through the silent night,
Silent they travell'd on. After a way
Circuitous and far through lonely tracks,
They reach'd the mountains, and, amid the shade
Of thickets covering the uncultur'd slope,
Their patient ambush placed. The Chiefs alone
Held on, till, winding in ascent, they reach'd
The heights which o'er the Britons' mountain hold
Impended; there they stood, and by the moon,
Who yet, with undiminished lustre, shone
High in the dark blue firmament, from thence
Explor'd the steep descent. Precipitous
The rock beneath them lay, a sudden cliff
XI. - 59
Bare and unbroken; in its midway holes,
Where never hand could reach nor eye intrude,
The eagle built her eyry. Farther on,
Its interrupted crags and ancient woods
Offer'd a difficult way. From crag to crag,
By rocky shelf, by trunk or root or bough,
A painful toil and perilous, they past.
And now, stretch'd out amid the matted shrubs,
Which, at the entrance of the valley, cloth'd
The rugged bank, they crouch'd.
By this the stars
Grew dim; the glow-worm hath put out her lamp;
The owls have ceas'd their night-song. On the top
Of yon magnolia, the loud turkey's voice
Is heralding the dawn; from tree to tree
Extends the wakening watch-note, far and wide,
Till the whole woodlands echo with the cry.
Now breaks the morning; but as yet no foot
Hath mark'd the dews, nor sound of man is heard.
Then first Ocelopan beheld, where near,
Beneath the shelter of a half-roof'd hut,
A sleeping Stranger lay. He pointed him
To Tlalala. The Tiger look'd around:
None else was nigh. -- Shall I descend, he said,
And strike him? here is none to see the deed.
XI. - 60
We offered to the Gods our mingled blood
Last night; and now, I deem it, they present
An offering which shall more propitiate them,
And omen sure success. I will go down
He said, and, gliding like a snake,
Where Caradoc lay sleeping made his way.
Sweetly slept he, and pleasant were his dreams
Of Britain, and the blue-eyed maid he lov'd.
The Azteca stood over him; he knew
His victim, and the power of vengeance gave
Malignant joy. Once hast thou 'scap'd my arm;
But what shall save thee now? the Tyger thought,
Exulting; and he rais'd his spear to strike.
That instant, o'er the Briton's unseen harp
The gale of morning past, and swept its strings
Into so sweet a harmony, that sure
It seemed no earthly tone. The savage man
Suspends his stroke; he looks astonish'd round;
No human hand is near; -- and, hark! again
The aerial music swells and dies away.
Then first the heart of Tlalala felt fear:
He thought that some protecting spirit liv'd
Beside the stranger, and, abash'd, withdrew.
XI. - 61
A God protects him! to Ocelopan,
Whispering, he said. Didst thou not hear the sound
Which enter'd into me, and fix'd my arm
Powerless above him?
Was it not a voice
From thine own Gods, to strengthen thee, replied
His sterner comrade, and make evident
Their pleasure in the deed?
Rejoin'd; they speak in darkness and in storms:
The thunder is their voice, that peals through Heaven,
Or, rolling underneath us, makes earth rock
In tempest, and destroys the sons of men.
It was no sound of theirs, Ocelopan!
No voice to hearten; -- for I felt it pass
Unmanning every limb; -- yea, it relax'd
The sinews of my soul. Shedder of Blood,
I cannot lift my hand against the man.
Go, if thy heart be stronger!
But mean time
Young Caradoc arose, of his escape
Unconscious; and by this the stirring sounds
Of day began, increasing now, as all
Now to their toil betake them. Some go fell
The stately wood; some from the trunk low-laid
XI. - 62
Hew the huge boughs; here round the fire they char
The stake-points; here they level with a line
The ground-plot, and infix the ready piles,
Or, interknitting them with osiers, weave
The wicker wall; others along the lake,
From its shoal waters, gather reeds and canes, --
Light roofing, suited to the genial sky.
The woodman's measured stroke, the regular saw,
The wain slow-creaking, and the voice of man
Answering his fellow, or, in single toil,
Cheering his labour with a cheerful song,
Strange concert made to those fierce Aztecas,
Who, beast-like, in their silent lurking place
Couch'd close and still, observant for their prey.
All overseeing, and directing all,
From place to place mov'd Madoc, and beheld
The dwellings rise. Young Hoel at his side
Ran on, best pleased when at his uncle's side
Courting indulgent love. And now they came
Beside the half-roof'd hut of Caradoc;
Of all the mountain-dwellings that the last.
The little boy, in boyish wantonness,
Would quit his Uncle's hold, and haste away,
With childhood's frolic speed, then laugh aloud,
XI. - 63
To tempt pursuit; now running to the huts,
Now toward the entrance of the valley straits.
But, wheresoe'er he turn'd, Ocelopan,
With hunter's eye, pursued his heedless course,
In breath-suspending vigilance. Ah me!
The little wretch toward his lurking-place
Draws near, and calls on Madoc; and the Prince
Thinks of no danger nigh, and follows not
The childish lure! Nearer the covert now
Young Hoel runs, and stops, and calls again;
Then, like a lion, from his couching-place
Ocelopan leaped forth, and seiz'd his prey.
Loud shrieked the affrighted child, as in his arms
The savage grasped him; startled at the cry,
Madoc beheld him hastening through the pass.
Quick as instinctive love can urge his feet
He follows, and he now almost has reach'd
The incumber'd ravisher, and hope inspires
New speed; -- yet nearer now, and nearer still, --
And, lo! the child holds out his little arms!
That instant, as the Prince had almost laid
His hand upon the boy, young Tlalala
Leapt on his neck; and soon, though Madoc's strength
With frantic fury shook him from his hold,
XI. - 64
Far down the steep Ocelopan had fled.
Ah! what avails it now, that they, by whom
Madoc was standing to survey their toil,
Have missed their Chief, and spread the quick alarm?
What now avails it, that, with distant aid,
His gallant men come down? Regarding nought
But Hoel, but the wretched Llaian's grief,
He rushes on; and ever, as he draws
Near to the child, the Tiger Tlalala
Impedes his way. And now they reach the place
Of ambush, and the ambushed band arise,
And Madoc is their prisoner.
In vain thou leadest on the late pursuit!
In vain,Cadwallon, thy alarmed love
Caught the first sound of evil! They pour out
Tumultuous from the vale, a half-arm'd troop;
Each with such weapons as his hasty hand
Can seize, they rush to battle. Gallant men,
Your valor boots not! It avails not now,
With such fierce onset that ye charge the foe,
And drive with such full force the weapon home!
They, while ye slaughter them, impede pursuit;
And far away, meantime, their comrades bear
The prisoner Prince. In vain his noble heart
XI. - 65
Swells now with wild and suffocating rage;
In vain he struggles: -- they have bound his limbs
With the tough osier, and his struggles now
But bind more close and cuttingly the band.
They hasten on; and while they bear the prize,
Leaving their ill-doomed fellows in the fight
To check pursuit, foremost afar of all,
With unabating strength, by joy inspir'd,
Ocelopan to Aztlan bears the child.
[ 66 ]
He hastens on; he holds the child on high;
He shouts aloud. Through Aztlan spreads the news;
Each to his neighbour tells the happy tale, --
Joy, -- joy to Aztlan! the Blood-shedder comes!
Tlaloc has given his victim.
Ah, poor child!
They from the gate swarm out to welcome thee;
Warriors, and men grown gray, and youths and maids,
Exulting, forth they crowd. The mothers throng
To view thee, and, while thinking of thy doom,
They clasp their own dear infants to the breast
With deeper love, delighted think that thou
Shalt suffer for them. He, poor child, admires
The strange array; with wonder he beholds
Their olive limbs, half bare, their plumy crowns,
XII. - 67
And gazes round and round, where all was new,
Forgetful of his fears. But when the Priest
Approach'd to take him from the Warrior's arms,
Then Hoel scream'd; and, from that hideous man
Averting, to Ocelopan he turn'd,
And would have clung to him, so dreadful late,
Stern as he was, and terrible of eye,
Less dreadful than the Priest, whose dark aspect,
Which Nature with her harshest characters
Had featured, art made worse. His cowl was white;
His untrimm'd hair, a long and loathsome mass,
With cotton cords intwisted, clung with gum,
And matted with the blood, which, every morn,
He from his temples drew before the God,
In sacrifice; bare were his arms, and smear'd
Black: but his countenance a stronger dread
Than all the horrors of that outward garb,
Struck with quick instinct to young Hoel's heart:
It was a face whose settled sullenness
No gentle feeling ever had disturb'd;
Which, when he probed a victim's living breast,
Retain'd its hard composure.
Such was he
Who took the son of Llaian, heeding not
His cries and screams, and arms in suppliant guise,
XII. - 68
Stretch'd out to all around, and strugglings vain.
He to the Temple of the Water God
Conveyed his victim. By the threshold, there
The ministering Virgins stood, a comely band
Of high-born damsels, to the temple rites
By pious parents vow'd. Gladly to them
The little Hoel leaped; their gentle looks
No fear excited; and he gazed around,
Pleased and surprised, unconscious to what end
These things were tending. O'er the rush-strewn floor
They to the azure Idol led the boy,
Now not reluctant, and they rais'd the hymn.
God of the Waters! at whose will the streams
Flow in their wonted channel, and diffuse
Their plenty round, the blood and life of earth;
At whose command they swell, and o'er their banks
Burst with resistless ruin, making vain
The toils and hopes of man, -- behold this child!
O, strong to bless, and mighty to destroy,
Tlaloc! behold thy victim! so mayst thou
Restrain the peaceful streams within their banks,
And bless the labours of the husbandman.
God of the Mountains! at whose will the clouds
XII. - 69
Cluster around the heights; who sendest them
To shed their fertilizing showers, and raise
The drooping herb, and o'er the thirsty vale
Spread their green freshness; at whose voice the hills
Grow black with storms; whose wrath the thunder speaks;
Whose bow of anger shoots the lightning shafts,
To blast the works of man, -- behold this child!
O strong to bless, and mighty to destroy,
Tlaloc! behold thy victim! so may'st thou
Lay by the fiery arrows of thy rage,
And bid the genial rains and dews descend.
O thou, Companion of the powerful God!
Companion and Beloved! -- when he treads
The mountain-top, whose breath diffuses round
The sweets of summer; when he rides the waves,
Whose presence is the sunshine and the calm, --
Aiauh, O green-rob'd Goddess, see this child!
Behold thy victim! so mayst thou appease
The sterner mind of Tlaloc when he frowns,
And Aztlan flourish in thy fostering smile.
Young Spirits! ye whom Aztlan's piety
Hath given to Tlaloc, to enjoy with him,
For aye the cool delights of Tlalocan, --
XII. - 70
Young Spirits of the happy; who have left
Your Heaven to-day, unseen assistants here, --
Behold your comrade! see the chosen child,
Who through the lonely cave of death must pass,
Like you, to join you in eternal joy.
Now from the rush-strewn temple they depart.
They place their smiling victim in a car,
Upon whose sides of pearly shell there play'd,
Shading and shifting still, the rainbow light.
On virgin shoulders is he borne aloft,
With dance before, and song and music round;
And thus they seek, in festival array,
The water-side. There lies the sacred bark,
All gay with gold, and garlanded with flowers:
The virgins with the joyous boy embark;
Ten boatmen urge them on; the Priests behind
Follow, and all the long solemnity.
The lake is overspread with boats; the sun
Shines on the gilded prows, the feathery crowns,
The sparkling waves. Green islets float along,
Where high-born damsels, under jasmine bowers,
Raise the sweet voice, to which the echoing oars,
In modulated motion, rise and fall.
The moving multitude along the shore
XII. - 71
Flows like a stream; bright shines the unclouded sky;
Heaven, earth, and waters wear one face of joy.
Young Hoel with delight beholds the pomp;
His heart throbs joyfully; and if he thinks
Upon his mother now, 'tis but to think
How beautiful a tale for her glad ear
He hath when he returns. Meantime the maids
Weave garlands for his head, and raise the song:
Oh, happy thou, whom early from the world
The Gods require! not by the wasting worm
Of sorrow cankered, nor condemned to feel
The pang of sickness, nor the wound of war,
Nor the long miseries of protracted age;
But call'd in youth, the chosen of the God,
To share his joys. Soon shall thy rescu'd soul,
Child of the Stranger! in his blissful world,
Mix with the blessed spirits; for not thine,
Amid the central darkness of the earth,
To endure the eternal void, -- not thine to live,
Dead to all objects of eye, ear, or sense,
In the long horrors of one endless night,
With endless being curset. For thee the bowers
Of Tlalocan have blossomed with new sweets;
For thee have its immortal trees matur'd
XII. - 72
The fruits of Heaven; thy comrades even now
Wait thee, impatient, in their fields of bliss;
The God will welcome thee, his chosen child,
And Aiauh love thee with a mother's love.
Child of the Stranger! dreary is thy way!
Darkness and Famine through the cave of Death
Must guide thee. Happy thou, when on that night
The morning of the eternal day shall dawn.
So as they sung young Hoel's song of death,
With rapid strength the boatmen plied their oars,
And through the water swift they glided on;
And now to shore they drew. The stately bank
Rose with the majesty of woods o'erhung,
And rocks, or peering through the forest shade
Or rising from the lake, and with their bulk
Glassing its dark, deep waters. Half-way up,
A cavern pierced the rock; no human foot
Had trod its depths, nor ever sunbeam reached
Its long recesses and mysterious gloom:
To Tlaloc it was hallow'd; and the stone
Which closed its entrance never was remov'd,
Save when the yearly festival return'd,
And in its womb a child was sepulchred,
The living victim. Up the winding path,
XII. - 73
That to the entrance of the cavern led,
With many a painful step the train ascend;
But many a time, upon that long ascent,
Young Hoel would have paused, with weariness
Exhausted now. They urge him on, -- poor child!
They urge him on! -- Where is Cadwallon's aid?
Where is the sword of Ririd? where the arm
Of Madoc now? -- Oh! better had he liv'd,
Unknowing and unknown, on Arvon's plain,
And trod upon his noble father's grave,
With peasant feet, unconscious! -- They have reached
The cavern now, and from its mouth the Priests
Roll the huge portal. Thitherward they force
The son of Llaian. A cold air comes out; --
It chills him, and his feet recoil; -- in vain
His feet recoil; -- in vain he turns to fly,
Aftrighted at the sudden gloom that spreads
Around; -- the den is closed, and he is left
In solitude and darkness, -- left to die!
[ 74 ]
In search of flowers, amid the woods and crags,
To deck the shrine of Coatlantona;
Such flowers as, in the solitary wilds
Hiding their modest beauty, made their worth
More valued for its rareness. 'Twas to her
A grateful task; not only for she fled
Those cruel rites, to which nor reverent use
Nor frequent custom could familiarize
Her gentle heart, and teach it to put off
All womanly feeling, -- but that, from all eyes
Escap'd and all obtrusive fellowship,
She in that solitude might send her soul
To where Lincoya with the Strangers dwelt.
She from the summit of the woodland heights
Gaz'd on the lake below. The sound of song
And instrument, in soften'd harmony,
XIII. - 75
Had reached her where she stray'd; and she beheld
The pomp, and listened to the harmony,
A moment, with delight: but then a fear
Came on her, for she knew with what design
The Tyger and Ocelopan had sought
The dwellings of the Cymry. -- Now the boats
Drew nearer, and she knew the Stranger's child.
She watch'd them land below; she saw them wind
The ascent; -- and now from that abhorred cave
The stone is rolled away, -- and now the child
From light and life is cavern'd. Coatel
Thought of his mother then, of all the ills
Her fear would augur, and, how worse than all
Which even a mother's maddening fear could feign,
His actual fate. She thought of this, and bow'd
Her face upon her knees, and clos'd her eyes,
Shuddering. Suddenly in the brake beside,
A rustling startled her, and from the shrubs
A Vulture rose.
She mov'd toward the spot,
Led by an idle impulse, as it. seem'd,
To see from whence the carrion bird had fled.
The bushes overhung a narrow chasm
Which pierced the hill; upon its mossy sides
Shade-loving herbs and flowers luxuriant grew,
XIII. - 76
And jutting crags made easy the descent.
A little way descending, Coatel
Stoopt for the flowers, and heard, or thought she heard,
A feeble sound below. She rais;d her head,
And anxiously she listened for the sound,
Not without fear. -- Feebly again, and like
A distant cry, it came; and then she thought,
Perhaps it was the voice of that poor child,
By the slow pain of hunger doom'd to die.
She shuddered at the thought, and breath'd a groan
Of unavailing pity; -- but the sound
Came nearer, and her trembling heart conceiv'd
A dangerous hope. The Vulture from that chasm
Had fled, perchance accustom'd in the cave
To seek his banquet, and by living feet
Alarm'd: -- there was an entrance then below;
And were it possible that she could save
The Stranger's child, -- Oh, what a joy it were
To tell Lincoya that!
It was a thought
Which made her heart with terror and delight,
Throb audibly. From crag to crag she passed,
Descending, and beheld a narrow cave
Enter the hill. A little way the light
Fell; -- but its feeble glimmering she herself
XIII. - 77
Obstructed half, as, stooping, in she went.
The arch grew loftier, and the increasing gloom
Filled her with more affright, and now she paus'd,
For at a sudden and abrupt descent
She stood, and feared its unseen depth; her heart
Failed, and she back had hastened; but the cry
Reached her again, the near and certain cry
Of that most pitiable innocent.
Again adown the dark descent she look'd,
Straining her eyes: by this the strengthen'd sight
Had grown adapted to the gloom around,
And her dilated pupils now receiv'd
Dim sense of objects near. Something below,
White in the darkness, lay: it mark'd the depth.
Still Coatel stood dubious; but she heard
The wailing of the child, and his loud sobs; --
Then, clinging to the rock with fearful hands,
Her feet explored below, and twice she felt
Firm footing, ere her fearful hold relax'd.
The sound she made, along the hollow rock
Ran echoing. Hoel heard it, and he came
Groping along the side. A dim, dim light
Broke on the darkness of his sepulchre;
A human form drew near him: -- he sprang on,
Screaming with joy, and clung to Coatel,
XIII. - 78
And cried, O take me from this dismal place!
She answer'd not, she understood him not;
But clasped the little victim to her breast,
And shed delightful tears.
But from that den
Of darkness and of horror, Coatel
Durst not convey the child, though in her heart
There was a female tenderness, that yearn'd,
Even with maternal love, to cherish him.
She hushed his clamours, fearful lest the sound
Might reach some other ear; she kiss'd away
The tears that stream'd adown his little cheeks;
She gave him food, which in the morn she brought,
For her own wants, from Aztlan. Some few words
Of Britain's ancient language she had learnt
From her Lincoya, in those happy days
Of peace when Aztlan was the Stranger's friend;
Aptly she learnt, what willingly he taught,
Terms of endearment, and the parting words
Which promis'd quick return. She on the child
The endearing phrase bestow'd; and if it chanced
Imperfect knowledge or some difficult sound
Check'd her heart's utterance, then the gentle tone,
The fond caress, intelligibly spake
XIII. - 79
But when she arose,
And would have climb'd the ascent, thee affrighted boy
Fast held her, and his tears interpreted
The prayer to leave him not. Again she kiss'd
His tears away; again of soon return
Assur'd and sooth'd him; till reluctantly
And weeping, but in silence, he unloos'd
His grasp; and up the difficult ascent
Coatel climb'd, and, to the light of day
Returning, with her flowers she hasten'd home.
[ 80 ]
Along the plain? -- The herald of success;
For, lo! his locks are braided, and his loins
Cinctured with white; and, see! he lifts the shield,
And brandishes the sword. The populace
Flock round, impatient for the tale of joy,
And follow to the palace in his path.
Joy! joy! the Tiger hath achiev'd his quest!
They bring a captive home! -- Triumphantly
Coanocotzin and his Chiefs go forth
To greet the youth triumphant, and receive
The victim, whom the gracious Gods have given,
Sure omen and first-fruits of victory.
A woman leads the train, young, beautiful, --
More beautiful for that translucent joy
Flushing her cheek, and sparkling in her eye; --
Her hair is twin'd with festal flowers, her robe
XIV. - 81
With flowing wreaths adorned; she holds a child,
He, too, bedeck'd and garlanded with flowers,
And, lifting him, with agile force of arm,
In graceful action, to harmonious step
Accordant, leads the dance. It is the wife
Of Tlalala, who, with his child, goes forth
To meet her hero-husband.
The Tiger comes! and, ere the shouts and sounds
Of gratulation cease, his followers bear
The captive Prince. At that so welcome sight,
Loud rose the glad acclaim; nor knew they yet
That he who there lay patient in his bonds,
Expecting the inevitable lot,
Was Madoc. Patient in his bonds he lay,
Exhausted with vain efforts, desperate now,
And silently resign'd. But when the King
Approached the prisoner, and beheld his face,
And knew the Chief of Strangers, at that sound
Electric joy shot through the multitude,
And, like the raging of the hurricane,
Their thundering transports peal'd. A deeper joy,
A nobler triumph, kindled Tlalala,
As, limb by limb, his eye survey'd the Prince
With a calm fierceness. And, by this, the Priests
XIV. - 82
Approach'd their victim, clad in vestments white
Of sacrifice, which from the shoulders fell,
As from the breast, unbending, broad and straight,
Leaving their black arms bare. The blood-red robe,
The turkoise pendent from his down-drawn lip,
The crown of glossy plumage, whose green hue
Vied with his emerald ear drops, mark'd their Chief,
Tezozomoc: his thin and ghastly cheek,
Which, -- save the temple serpents, when he brought
Their human banquet -- never living eye
Rejoiced to see, became more ghastly now,
As, in Mexitli's name, upon the Prince
He laid his murtherous hand. But, as he spake,
Up darted Tlalala his eagle glance. --
Away! away! he shall not perish so!
The warrior cried; -- not tamely, by the knife,
Nor on the jasper-stone, his blood shall flow!
The Gods of Aztlan love a Warrior-Priest!
I am their Priest to-day!
Ran through the train; nor waited he to hear
Denial thence, but on the multitude
Aloud he called: When first our fathers seiz'd
This land, there was a savage chief who stopt
Their progress. He had gain'd the rank he bore,
XIV. - 83
By long probation: stripes, which laid his flesh
All bleeding bare, had forced not one complaint;
Not when the working bowels might be seen,
One movement; hand-bound, he had been confin'd
Where myriad insects on his nakedness
Infix'd their venomous anger, and no start,
No shudder, shook his frame; last, in a net
Suspended, he had felt the agony
Of fire, which to his bones and marrow pierced,
And breath'd the suffocating smoke which fill'd
His lungs with fire, without a groan, a breath,
A look, betokening sense; so gallantly
Had he subdued his nature. This brave man
Met Aztlan in the war, and put her Chiefs
To shame. Our Elders have not yet forgot
How from the slaughter'd brother of their King
He stript the skin, and form'd of it a drum,
Whose sound affrighted armies. With this man
My father cop'd in battle; here he led him,
An offering to the God; and, man to man,
He slew him here in fight. I was a child,
Just old, enough to lift my father's shield;
But I remember, on that glorious day,
When from the sacred combat he return'd,
His red hands reeking with the hot heart's-blood,
XIV. - 84
How in his arms he took me, and besought
The God whom he had serv'd, to bless his boy,
And make me like my father. Men of Aztlan!
Mexitli heard his prayer! -- here I have brought
The Stranger-Chief, the noblest sacrifice
That ever graced the altar of the God;
Let then, his death be noble! so my boy
Shall, in the day of battle, think of me,
And, as I followed my brave father's steps,
Pursue my path of glory.
Ere the Priest
Could frame denial, had the Monarch's look
Bespake assent. -- Refuse not this, he cried,
O servant of the Gods! He hath not here
His arms to save him; and the Tiger's strength
Yields to no mortal might. Then for his sword
He called, and bade Yuhidthiton address
The Gods of Aztlan triumph, and thy blood
Must wet their altars. Prince, thou shalt not die
The coward's death, but, sworded and in fight,
Fall as becomes the valiant. Should thine arms.
Subdue in battle six successive foes,
Life, liberty, and glory will repay
XIV. - 85
The noble conquest. Madoc, hope not this!
Strong are the brave of Aztlan!
Then they loosed
The Ocean Chieftain's bonds; they rent away
His garments; and, with songs and shouts of joy,
They led him to the Stone of Sacrifice.
Round was that Stone of blood; the half-rais'd arm
Of one of manly growth, who stood below,
Might rest upon its height; the circle small,
An active boy might almost bound across.
Nor needed for the combat ampler space;
For in the centre was the prisoner's foot
Fast fetter'd down. Thus fetter'd, Madoc stood.
He held a buckler, light and small, of cane,
O'erlaid with beaten gold; his sword, the King,
Honoring a noble enemy, had given,
A weapon tried in war, -- to Madoc's grasp
Strange and unwieldy 'twas a broad, strong staff,
Set thick with transverse stones, on either side
Keen-edged as Syrian steel. But, when he felt
The weapon, Madoc call'd to mind his deeds
Done on the Saxon in his father's land,
And hope arose within him. Nor, though now
Naked he stood, did fear for that, assail
His steady heart; for often had he seen
XIV. - 86
His gallant countrymen, with naked breasts,
Rush on their iron-coated enemy,
And win the conquest.
Now hath Tlalala
Arrayed himself for battle. First, he donn'd
A gipion, quilted close of gossampine;
O'er that a jointed mail of plates of gold,
Bespotted like the tiger's speckled pride,
To speak his rank; it clad his arms half-way,
Half-way his thighs; but cuishes had he none,
Nor gauntlets, nor feet-armour. On his helm
There yawned the semblance of a tyger's head,
The long, white teeth extended, as for prey;
Proud crest, to blazon his proud title forth.
And now toward the fatal stage, equipp'd
For fight, he went; when, from the press behind,
A warrior's voice was heard, and clad in arms,
And shaking in his angry grasp the sword,
Ocelopan rush'd on, and call'd aloud,
On Tlalala, and claim'd the holy fight.
The Tyger, heedless of his clamor, sprung
Upon the stone, and turned him to the war.
Fierce leaping forward came Ocelopan,
And bounded up the ascent, and seiz'd his arm: --
Why wouldst thou rob me of a deed like this?
XIV. - 87
Equal our peril in the enterprize,
Equal our merit: -- thou wouldst reap alone
The guerdon! Never shall my children lift
Their little hands at thee, and say, Lo! there
The Chief who slew the White King! -- Tlalala,
Trust to the lot, or turn on me, and prove,
By the best chance to which the brave appeal,
Who best deserves this glory!
Stung to wrath,
The Tyger answered not: he rais'd his sword,
And they had rush'd to battle; but the Priests
Came hastening up, and by their common Gods,
And by their common country, bade them cease
Their impious strife, and let the lot decide
From whom Mexitli should that day receive
His noble victim. Both unsatisfied,
But both obedient, heard. Two equal shafts,
As outwardly they seemed, the Paba brought;
His mantle hid their points; and Tlalala
Drew forth the broken stave. A bitter smile
Darken'd his cheek, as angrily he cast
To earth the hostile lot. -- Shedder of Blood,
Thine is the first adventure! he exclaimed;
But thou mayst perish here! -- and in his heart
The Tyger hop'd Ocelopan might fall,
XIV. - 88
As, sullenly retiring from the stage,
He mingled with the crowd.
And now oppos'd
This, clad in arms complete, free to advance
In quick assault or shun the threaten'd blow,
Wielding his wonted sword; the other, stript,
Save of that fragile shield, of all defence;
His weapon strange and cumbrous; and pinn'd down
Disabled from all onset, all retreat.
With looks of greedy joy, Ocelopan
Surveyed his foe, and wonder'd to behold
The breast so broad, the bare and brawny limbs
Of matchless strength. The eye of Madoc, too,
Dwelt on his foe; his countenance was calm,
Something more pale than wonted, like a man
Prepar'd to meet his death. The Azteca
Fiercely began the fight; now here, now there,
Aright, aleft, above, below, he wheel'd
The rapid sword: still Madoc's rapid eye
Pursued the motion, and his ready shield,
In prompt interposition, caught the blow,
Or turn'd its edge aside. Nor did the Prince
XIV. - 89
Yet aim the sword to wound, but held it forth,
Another shield, to save him, till his hand,
Familiar with its weight and shape uncouth,
Might wield it well to vengeance. Thus he stood,
Baffling the impatient enemy, who now
Wax'd wrathful, thus to waste in idle strokes,
Reiterate so oft, his bootless strength.
And now yet more exasperate he grew;
For from the eager multitude, was heard,
Amid the din of undistinguished sounds,
The Tyger's murmured name, as though they thought,
Had he been on the stone, ere this, besure,
The Gods had tasted of their sacrifice,
Now all too long delay'd. Then fiercelier,
And yet more rapidly, he drove the sword;
But still the wary Prince or met its fall,
And broke the force, or bent him from the blow;
And now retiring, and advancing now,
As one free foot permitted, still provok'd,
And baffled still, the savage; and sometimes
With cautious strength did Madoc aim attack,
Mastering each moment now with abler sway
The acquainted sword. But, though as yet unharm'd
In life or limb, more perilous the strife
Grew momently; for, with repeated strokes,
XIV. - 90
Battered and broken now, the shield hung loose;
And shouts of triumph from the multitude
Arose, as piecemeal they beheld it fall,
And saw the Prince expos'd.
That welcome sight,
Those welcome sounds, inspir'd Ocelopan;
He felt each limb new-strung. Impatient now
Of conquest long delay'd, with wilder rage
He drives the weapon. Madoc's lifted sword
Receiv'd its edge, and shiver'd with the blow.
A shriek of transport burst from all around;
For, lo! the White King, shieldless, weaponless,
Naked before his foe! That savage foe,
Dallying with the delight of victory,
Drew back a moment to enjoy the sight,
Then yell'd in triumph, and sprang on to give
The consummating blow. Madoc beheld
The coming death; he darted up his hand
Instinctively to save, and caught the wrist
In its mid fall, and drove with desperate force
The splinter'd truncheon of his broken sword
Full in the enemy's face. Beneath his eye
It broke its way, and, where the nasal nerves
Branch in fine fibrils o'er their mazy seat,
Burst through, and, slanting upward, in the brain
Buried its jagged point.
XIV. - 91
Stood at his fall astonish'd, at escape
Unhop'd, and strange success. The multitude
Beheld, and they were silent; and they stood
Gazing in terror. But far other thoughts
Rose in the Tyger's heart: it was a joy
To Tlalala; and forth he sprung, and up
The Stone of Sacrifice, and called aloud
To bring the Prince another sword and shield
For his last strife. Then, in that interval,
Upon Ocelopan he fix'd his eyes,
Contemplating the dead, as though thereby
To kindle in his heart a fiercer thirst
For vengeance. Nor to Madoc was the sting
Of anger wanting, when in Tlalala
He knew the captive whom his mercy freed,
The man whose ambush had that day destroy'd
Young Hoel and himself; -- for sure he deem'd
Young Hoel was with God, and he himself
At his death-day arriv'd. And now he grasped
A second sword, and held another shield;
And from the Stone of Blood Ocelopan
Was borne away; and fresh in arms, and fierce
With all that makes a savage thirst for war,
Hope, vengeance, courage, superstitious hate,
XIV. - 92
A second foe came on. By this, the Prince
Could wield his weapon well; and, dreading now
Lest, in protracted combat, he might stand
Again defenceless, he put forth his strength,
As oft assailing as assailed, and watch'd
So well the Tyger's-motions, and receiv'd
The Tyger's blows so warily, and aim'd
His own so fierce and fast, that in the crowd
Doubt and alarm prevail'd. Ilanquel grew
Pale at her husband's danger; and she clasp'd
The infant to her breast, whom late she held
On high to see his victory. The throng
Of the beholders silently look'd on;
And in their silence might at times be heard
An indrawn breath of terror; and the Priests
Angrily murmur'd, that, in evil hour,
Coanocotzin had indulged the pride
Of vaunting valour, and from certain death
Repriev'd the foe.
But now a murmur rose
Amid the multitude; and they who stood
So thickly throng'd, and with such eager eyes
Late watched the fight, hastily now broke up,
And, with disorder'd speed and sudden arms,
Ran to the city gates. More eager now,
XIV. - 93
Conscious of what had chanced, fought Tlalala:
And hope invigorated Madoc's heart;
For well he ween'd Cadwallon was at hand,
Leading his gallant friends. Aright he ween'd:
At hand Cadwallon was! His gallant friends
Came from the mountains with impetuous speed,
To save or to revenge. Nor long endur'd
The combat now: the Priests ascend the stone,
And bid the Tyger hasten to defend
His country and his Gods; and, hand and foot,
Binding the captive Prince, they bear him thence,
And lay him in the temple. Then his heart
Resigned itself to death, and Madoc thought
Of Llaian and Goervyl; and he felt
That death was dreadful. But not so the King
Permitted; but not so had Heaven decreed;
For noble was the King of Aztlan's heart,
And pure his tongue from falsehood: he had said,
That by the warrior's death should Madoc die;
Nor dar'd the Pabas violently break
The irrevocable word. There Madoc lay
In solitude; the distant battle reach'd
His ear; inactive and in bonds he lay,
Expecting the dread issue, and almost
Wishe'd for the perils of the fight again.
[ 94 ]
Of Aztlan, nor defenceless were her walls;
But, when the Britons' distant march was seen,
A ready army issued from her gates,
And dight themselves to battle: these the King
Coanocotzin had, with timely care,
And provident for danger, thus array'd.
Forth issuing from the gates, they met the foe;
And with the sound of sonorous instruments,
And with their shouts and screams and yells, drove back
The Britons' fainter war-cry, as the swell
Of ocean, flowing onward, up its course
Repels the river-stream. Their darts and stones
Fell like the raindrops of the summer-shower,
So fast, and on the helmet and the shield,
On the strong corselet and the netted mail,
So innocent they fell. But not in vain
XV. - 95
The bowmen of Deheubarth sent, that day,
Their iron bolts abroad: those violent deaths
Descended on the naked multitude;
And through the chieftain's quilted gossampine,
Through feathery breastplate and effulgent gold,
They reached the life.
But soon no interval
For archer's art was left, nor scope for flight
Of stone from whirling sling. Both hosts, alike
Impatient for the proof of war, press on:
The Aztecas, to shun the arrowy storm;
The Cymry, to release their Lord, or heap
Aztlan in ruins, for his monument.
Spear against spear, and shield to shield, and breast
To breast, they met; equal in force of limb
And strength of heart, in resolute resolve,
And stubborn effort of determin'd wrath:
The few, advantaged by their iron mail;
The weaklier, arm'd, of near retreat assur'd
And succor close at hand, in tenfold troops
Their foemen overnumbering. And of all
That mighty multitude, did every man
Of either host, alike inspir'd by all
That stings to will and strengthens to perform,
Then put forth all his power; for well they knew
XV. - 96
Aztlan that day must triumph or must fall.
Then sword and mace on helm and buckler rang,
And hurtling javelins whirr'd along the sky.
Nor, when they hurl'd the javelin, did the sons
Of Aztlan, prodigal of weapons, loose
The lance, to serve them for no second stroke:
A line of ample measure still retained
The missile shaft; and, when its blow was spent,
Swiftly the dexterous spearman coil'd the string,
And sped again the artificer of death.
Rattling, like summer hailstones, they descend,
But from the Britons' iron panoply,
Baffled and blunted, fell; nor more avail'd
The stony falchion there, whose broken edge
Inflicts no second wound; nor profited,
On the strong buckler or the crested helm,
The knotty club; though fast, in blinding showers,
Those javelins fly, those heavy weapons fall
With stunning weight. Meantime, with wonted strength,
The men of Gwyneth through their fenceless foes
Those lances thrust, whose terrors had so oft
Affray'd the Saxons, and whose home-driven points
So oft had pierced the Normen's knightly arms.
Little did then his pomp of plumes bestead
The Azteca, or glittering pride of gold,
XV. - 97
Against the tempered sword; little his casque,
Gay with its feathery coronal, or drest
In graven terrors, when the Briton's hand
Drove in through helm and head the spiked mace,
Or swung its iron weights with shattering sway,
Which, where they struck, destroy'd. Beneath those arms
The men of Aztlan fell; and whoso dropt,
Dead or disabled, him his comrades bore
Away, with instant caution, lest the sight
Of those whom they had slaughter'd might inspire
The foe with hope and courage. Fast they fell,
And fast were resupplied, man after man
Succeeding to the death. Nor in the town
Did how the sight of their slain countrymen,
Momentarily carried in and piled in heaps,
Awake one thought of fear. Hark! through the streets
Of Aztlan, how, from house to house and tower
To tower, reiterate, Paynalton's name
Calls all her sons to battle! at whose name
All must go forth, and follow to the field
The Leader of the Armies of the Gods,
Whom, in his unseen power, Mexitli now
Sends out to lead his people. They, in crowds,
Throng for their weapons to the House of Arms,
Beneath their guardian Deity preserv'd
XV. - 98
Through years of peace; and there the Pabas stood
Within the temple-court, and dealt around
The ablution of the Stone of Sacrifice,
Bidding them, with the holy beverage,
Imbibe diviner valor, strength of arm
Not to be wearied, hope of victory,
And certain faith of endless joy in Heaven,
Their sure reward. -- Oh, happy, cried the Priests,
Your brethren who have fallen! already they
Have joined the company of blessed souls;
Already they, with song and harmony,
And in the dance of beauty, are gone forth,
To follow down his western path of light,
Yon Sun, the Prince of Glory, from the world
Retiring to the Palace of his rest.
Oh, happy they who for their country's cause,
And for their Gods, shall die the brave man's death!
Them will their country consecrate with praise,
Them will the Gods reward! -- They heard the Priests
Intoxicate, and from the gate swarmed out
Tumultuous to the fight of martyrdom.
But when Cadwallon every moment saw
The enemies increase, and with what rage
Of drunken valor to the fight they rush'd,
XV. - 99
He, against that impetuous attack,
As best he could, providing, form'd the troops
Of Britain into one collected mass:
Three equal sides it offer'd to the foe,
Close and compact; no multitude could break
The condens'd strength; its narrow point prest on,
Entering the throng's resistance, like a wedge,
Still from behind impell'd. So, thought the Chief,
Likeliest the gates of Aztlan might be gain'd,
And Hoel and the Prince preserved, if yet
They were among mankind. Nor could the force
Of hostile thousands break that strength condens'd,
Against whose iron sides the stream of war
Rolled unavailing, as the ocean waves,
Which, idly round some insulated rock
Foam furious, warning with their silvery smoke
The mariner far off. Nor could the point
Of that compacted body, though it bore
Right on the foe, and with united force
Pressed on to enter, through the multitude
Win now its difficult way; as where the sea
Pours through some strait its violent waters, swoln
By inland fresh, vainly the oarmen there
With all their weight and strength essay to drive.
Their galley through the pass, the stress and strain
Availing scarce to stem the impetuous stream.
XV. - 100
And, hark! above the deafening din of fight
Another shout, heard like the thunder-peal,
Amid the war of winds! Lincoya comes,
Leading the mountain-dwellers. From the shock
Aztlan recoil'd. And now a second troop
Of Britons to the town advanced, for war
Impatient and revenge. Cadwallon these,
With tidings of their gallant Prince enthrall'd,
Had summoned from the ships. That dreadful tale
Roused them to fury. Not a man was left
To guard the fleet; for who could have endur'd
That idle duty? who could have endur'd
The long, inactive, miserable hours,
And hope and expectation, and the rage
Of maddening anguish? Ririd led them on;
In whom a brother's love had call'd not up
More spirit-stirring pain than trembled now
In every British heart, so dear to all
Was Madoc.On they came; and Aztlan then
Had fled appall'd; but in that dangerous hour
Her faith preserv'd her. From the gate, her Priests
Rushed desperate out, and to the foremost rank
Forced their wild way, and fought with martyr zeal.
Through all the host contagious fury spread;
Nor had the sight that hour enabled them
XV. - 101
To mightier efforts, bad Mexitli, clad
In all his imaged terrors, gone before
Their way, and driven upon his enemies
His giant club destroying. Then more fierce
The conflict grew; the din of arms, the yell
Of savage rage, the shriek of agony,
The groan of death, commingled in one sound
Of undistinguish'd horrors; while the Sun,
Retiring slow beneath the plain's far verge,
Shed o'er the quiet hills his fading light.
[ 102 ]
Caermadoc, and how melancholy now
That solitude and silence! Broad noonday,
And not a sound of human life is there!
The fisher's net, abandoned in his haste,
Sways idly in the waters; in the tree,
Which its last stroke had pierced, the hatchet hangs;
The birds, beside the mattock and the spade,
Hunt in the new-turned mould, and fearlessly
Fly through the cage-work of the imperfect wall,
Or through the vacant dwelling's open door
Pass and repass secure.
In Madoc's house,
And on his bed of reeds, Goervyl lies,
Her face toward the ground. She neither weeps
Nor sighs, nor groans; too strong her agony
XVI. - 103
For outward sign of anguish, and for prayer
Too hopeless was the ill; and though, at times,
The pious exclamation passed her lips,
Thy will be done! yet was that utterance
Rather the breathing of a broken heart
Than of a soul resign'd. Mervyn, beside,
Hangs over his dear mistress silently,
Having no hope or comfort to bestow,
Nor aught but sobs and unavailing tears.
The women of Caermadoc, like a flock
Collected in their panic, stand around
The house of their lost leader; and they, too,
Are mute in their despair. Llaian alone
Is absent; wildly hath she wander'd forth
To seek her child; and such the general woe,
That none kath mark'd her absence. Yet have they,
Though unprotected thus, no selfish fear:
The sudden evil had destroy'd all thought,
All sense, of present danger to themselves,
Yet new terrors! Malinal,
Panting with speed, bursts in, and takes the arms
Of Madoc down. Goervyl, at that sound,
Started in sudden hope; but, when she saw
The Azteca, she utter'd a faint scream
XVI. - 104
Of wrongful fear, remembering not the proofs
Of his tried truth, nor recognizing aught
In those known features save their hostile hue.
But he, by worser fear abating soon
Her vain alarm, exclaimed, I saw a band
Of Hoamen coming up the straits, for ill,
Besure, for Amalahta leads them on.
Buckle this harness on, that, being armed,
I may defend the entrance.
Scarce had she
Fastened the breastplate with her trembling hands,
When, flying from the sight of men in arms,
The women crowded in. Hastily he seiz'd
The shield and spear, and on the threshold took
His stand; but, wakened now to provident thought,
Goervyl, following, helmed him. There was now
No time to gird the baldric on: she held
Her brother's sword, and bade him look to her
For prompt supply of weapons; in herself
Being resolv'd not idly to abide,
Nor unprepared of hand or heart to meet,
The issue of the danger, nor to die
Rightly had they divin'd
The Hoaman's felon purpose. When he heard
XVI. - 105
The fate of Madoc, from his mother's eye
He mask'd his secret joy, and took his arms,
And to the rescue, with the foremost band,
Set forth. But soon, upon the way, he told
The associates of his crime, that now their hour
Of triumph was arriv'd; Caermadoc, left
Defenceless, would become, with all its wealth,
The spoilers' easy prey, -- raiment and arms
And iron; skins of that sweet beverage,
Which to a sense of its own life could stir
The joyful blood; the women, above all,
Whom to the forest they might bear away,
To be their slaves, if so their pleasure was;
Or, yielding them to Aztlan, for such prize
Receive a royal guerdon. Twelve there were,
Long leagued with him in guilt, who turn'd aside.
And they have reached Caermadoc now, and now
Rush onward where they see the women fly;
When, on the threshold, clad in Cimbric arms,
And with long lance protended, Malinal
Rebuffs them from the entrance. At that sight
Suddenly quail'd, they stood as midnight thieves
Who find the master waking; but ere long,
Gathering assured courage, as they saw
No other guard, press'd forward, and essay'd
XVI. - 106
To turn his spear aside. Its steady point,
True to the impelling strength, held on, and thrust
The foremost through the breast, and breath and blood
Follow'd the re-drawn shaft. Nor seem'd the strife
Unequal now, though with their numbers they
Beleagur'd in half-ring the door, where he,
The sole defender, stood. From side to side
So well and swiftly did he veer the lance,
That every enemy beheld its point
Aimed at himself direct. But chief on one
Had Malinal his deadly purpose fix'd,
On Armalahta; by his death to quell
The present danger, and cut off the root
Of many an evil, certain else to spring
From that accursed stock. On him his eye
Turne'd with more eager wilfulness, and dwelt
With keener ken; and now, with sudden step
Bending his body on, at him he drives
The meditated blow: but that ill Prince,
As chiefly sought, so chiefly fearing, swerv'd
Timely aside; and, ere the Azteca
Recover'd from the frustrate aim, the spear
Was seiz'd, and from his hold by stress and weight
Of numbers wrench'd. He, facing still the foe,
And holding at arm's length the target, put back
XVI. - 107
His hand, and call'd Goervyl, and from her
Received the sword; -- in time, for the enemy
Pressed on so near, that, having now no scope
To raise his arm, he drove the blade straight on.
It enter'd at the mouth of one who stood
With face aslant, and glanced along the teeth,
Through to the ear; then, slivering downward, left
The cheek-flap dangling. He, in that same point
Of time, as if a single impulse gave
Birth to the double action, dash'd his shield
Against another's head, with so fierce swing
And sway of strength, that this third enemy
Fell at his feet. Astounded by such proof
Of prowess, and by unexpected loss
Dismay'd, the foe gave back, beyond the reach
Of his strong arm; and there awhile they stood,
Beholding him at bay, and counselling
How best to work their vengeance upon him,
Their sole opponent. Soon did they behold
The vantage, overlooked by hasty hope,
How vulnerable he stood, his arms and thighs
Bare for their butt. At once they bent their bows;
At once ten arrows fled: seven, shot in vain,
Rung on his shield; but, with unhappier mark,
Two shafts hung quivering in his leg; a third
XVI. - 108
Below the shoulder pierced. Then Malinal
Groan'd, not for anguish of his wounds, but grief
And agony of spirit; yet resolv'd
To his last gasp to guard that precious post,
Nor longer able to endure afoot,
He, falling on his knees, receiv'd unharm'd
Upon his shield, now ample for defence,
Their second shower, and still defied the foe.
But they, now sure of conquest, hastened on
To thrust him down; and he, too, felt his strength
Ebbing away. Goervyl, in that hour
Of horror and despair, collected still,
Caught him, and by the shoulders drew him in,
And, calling on her comrades, with their help
Shut to the door in time, and with their weight
Secur'd it, not their strength; for she alone,
Found worthy of her noble ancestry,
In this emergence, felt her faculties
All present, and heroic strength of heart,
To cope with danger and contempt of death.
Shame on ye, British women! shame! exclaim'd
The daughter of King Owen, as she saw
The trembling hands and bloodless countenance
Pale as sepulchral marble; silent some;
Others with womanish cries lamenting now
XVI. - 109
That ever, in unhappy hour, they left
Their native land; -- a pardonable fear;
For, hark! the war-whoop! sound whereto the howl
Of tygers or hyenas, heard at night
By captive from barbarian foes escap'd,
And wandering in the pathless wilderness,
Were music. Shame on ye! Goervyl cried;
Think what your fathers were, your husbands what,
And what your sons should be! These savages
Seek not to wreak on ye immediate death;
So are ye safe, if safety such as this
Be worth a thought; and in the interval
We yet may gain, by keeping to the last
This entrance, easily to be maintained
By us, though women, against foes so few, --
Who knows what succor chance, or timely thought
Of our own friends, may send, or Providence,
Who slumbereth not? -- While thus she spake, a hand
In at the window came, of one who sought
That way to win the entrance. She drew out
The arrow through the arm of Malinal
With gentle care, -- the readiest weapon that, --
And held it short above the bony barb,
And, adding deeds to words, with all her might
She stabb'd it through the hand. The sudden pain
XVI. - 110
Provok'd a cry, and back the savage fell,
Loosening his hold, and maimed for further war.
Nay! leave that entrance open! she exclaim'd
To one who would have closed it; who comes next
Shall not go thence so cheaply! -- for she now
Had taken up a spear to guard that way,
Easily guarded, even by female might.
O heart of proof! what now avails thy worth
And excellent courage? for the savage foe,
With mattock and with spade, for other use
Design'd, hew now upon the door, and rend
The wattled sides; and they within shrink back,
For now it splinters through, -- and, lo, the way
Is open to the spoiler!
Then once more,
Collecting his last strength, did Malinal
Rise on his knees, and over him the maid
Stands with the ready spear, she guarding him
Who guarded her so well. Rous'd to new force
By that exampled valor, and with will
To achieve one service yet before he died, --
If death indeed, as sure he thought, were nigh, --
Malinal gathered up his fainting powers;
And reaching forward, with a blow that threw
His body on, upon the knee he smote
XVI. - 111
One Hoaman more, and brought him to the ground.
The foe fell over him; but he, prepar'd,
Threw him with sudden jerk aside, and rose
Upon one hand, and with the other plunged
Between his ribs the mortal blade. Meantime
Amalahta, rushing in blind eagerness
To seize Goervyl, set at nought the power
Of female hands, and, stooping as he came
Beneath her spear-point, thought with lifted arm
To turn the thrust aside. But she drew back,
And lowered at once the spear, with aim so sure,
That on the front it met him, and plough'd up
The whole scalp-length. He, blinded by the blood,
Staggered aside, escaping by that chance
A second push, else mortal. And by this,
The women, learning courage from despair,
And by Goervyl's bold example fir'd,
Took heart, and, rushing on with one accord,
Drove out the foe. Then took they hope; for then
They saw but seven remain in plight for war;
And, knowing their own number, in the pride
Of strength, caught up stones, staves, or axe, or spear,
To hostile use converting whatsoe'er
The hasty hand could seize. Such fierce attack
Confus'd the ruffian band; nor had they room
XVI. - 112
To aim the arrow, nor to speed the spear,
Each now beset by many. But their Prince,
Still mindful of his purport, call'd to them, --
Secure my passage while I bear away
The White King's Sister: having her, the law
Of peace is in our power. -- And on he went
Toward Goervyl, and with sudden turn,
While on another foe her eye was fix'd,
Ran in upon her, and stooped down, and claspt
The maid above the knees, and, throwing her
Over his shoulder, to the valley straits
Set off; -- ill seconded in ill attempt;
For now his comrades are too close beset
To aid their Chief, and Mervyn hath beheld
His lady's peril. At the sight, inspired
With force, as if indeed that manly garb
Had cloth'd a manly heart, the Page ran on,
And, with a bill-hook striking at his ham,
Cut the back sinews. Amalahta fell;
The maid fell with him; and she first hath risen,
While, grovelling on the earth, he gnash'd his teeth
For agony. Yet even in those pangs,
Remembering still revenge, he turned and seiz'd
Goervyl's skirt, and pluck'd her to the ground,
And roll'd himself upon her, and essay'd
XVI. - 113
To kneel upon her breast: but she clinch'd fast
His bloody locks, and drew him down aside,
Faint now with anguish and with loss of blood;
And Mervyn, coming to her help again,
As once again he rose, around the neck
Seized him, with throttling grasp, and held him down, --
Strange strife and horrible! -- till Malinal
Crawled to the spot, and thrust into his groin
The mortal sword of Madoc; he himself,
At the same moment, fainting, now no more
By his strong will upheld, the service done.
The few surviving traitors, at the sight
Of their fallen Prince and Leader, now too late
Believed that some diviner power had given
These female arms strength for their overthrow,
Themselves proved weak before them, as, of late,
Their God, by Madoc crush'd.
Away they fled
Toward the valley straits: but in the gorge
Erillyab met their flight; and then her heart,
Boding the evil, smote her, and she bade
Her people seize, and bring them on in bonds,
For judgment. She herself, with quickened pace,
Advanced to know the worst; and, o'er the dead
She cast a rapid glance, and knew her son.
XVI. - 114
She knew him by his garments, by the work
Of her own hands; for now his face, besmear'd
And black with gore, and stiffened in its pangs,
Bore of the life no semblance. -- God is good!
She cried, and closed her eyelids, and her lips
Shook, and her countenance changed. But in her heart
She quelled the natural feeling. -- Bear away
These wretches! -- to her followers she exclaim'd,
And root them from the earth! Then she approach'd
Goervyl, who was pale and trembling now,
Exhausted with past effort; and she took
Gently the maiden's tremulous hand, and said,
God comfort thee, my Sister! At that voice
Of consolation, from her dreamy state,
Goervyl, to a sense of all her woe
Awoke, and burst into a gush of tears.
God comfort thee, my Sister! cried the Queen,
Even as he strengthens me. I would not raise
Deceitful hope, -- but in his hand, even yet,
The issue hangs; and he is merciful.
Yea, daughter of Aberfraw, take thou hope!
For Madoc lives! - he lives, to wield the sword
Of righteous vengeance, and accomplish all.
[ 115 ]
Lay listening to the tumult. How his heart
Panted! how then, with fruitless strength, he strove
And struggled for enlargement, as the sound
Of battle from without the city came;
While all things near were still; nor foot of man,
Nor voice, in that deserted part, were heard.
At length one light and solitary step
Approach'd the place; a woman cross'd the door:
From Madoc's busy mind her image pass'd
Quick as the form that caus'd it; but not so
Did the remembrance fly from Coatel,
That Madoc lay in bonds. That thought possess'd
Her soul, and made her, as she garlanded
The fane of Coatlantona with flowers,
Tremble in strong emotion.
XVII. - 116
It was now
The hour of dusk; the Pabas all were gone,
Gone to the battle; -- none could see her steps;
The gate was nigh. A momentary thought
Shot through her: she delayed not to reflect,
But hasten'd to the Prince, and took the knife
Of sacrifice, which by the altar hung,
And cut his bonds, and with an eager eye,
Motioning haste and silence, to the gate
She led him. Fast along the forest way,
And fearfully, he follow'd to the chasm.
She beckon'd, and descended, and drew out,
From underneath her vest, a cage, or net
It rather might be called, so fine the twigs
Which knit it, where, confined, two fire-flies gave
Their lustre. By that light did Madoc first
Behold the features of his lovely guide;
And, through the entrance of the cavern gloom,
He follow'd in full trust.
Now have they reached
The abrupt descent; there Coatel held forth
Her living lamp, and, turning, with a smile
Sweet as good Angels wear when they present
Their mortal charge before the throne of Heaven,
She show'd where little Hoel slept below.
XVII. - 117
Poor child! he lay upon that very spot,
The last whereto his feet had follow'd her;
And, as he slept, his hand was on the bones
Of one who years agone had perish'd there,
There, on the place where last his wretched eyes
Could catch the gleam of day. But when the voice,
The well-known voice, of Madoc waken'd him, --
His uncle's voice, -- he started, with a scream
Which echo'd through the cavern's winding length,
And stretch'd his arms to reach him. Madoc hush'd
The dangerous transport, rais'd him up the ascent,
And follow'd Coatel again, whose face,
Though tears of pleasure still were coursing down,
Betoken'd fear and haste. Adown the wood
They went; and, coasting now the lake, her eye
First what they sought beheld, a light canoe,
Moored to the bank. Then in her arms she took
The child, and kiss'd him with maternal love,
And placed him in the boat; but when the Prince,
With looks and gestures, and imperfect words,
Such as the look, the gesture, well explain'd,
Urged her to follow, doubtfully she stood:
A dread of danger, for the thing she had done,
Came on her, and Lincoya rose to mind.
Almost she had resolv'd; but then she thought
XVII. - 118
Of her dear father, whom that flight would leave
Alone in age; how he would weep for her,
As one among the dead, and to the grave
Go sorrowing; or, if ever it were known
What she had dared, that on his head the weight
Of punishment would fall. That dreadful fear
Resolv'd her, and she wav'd her head, and rais'd
Her hand, to bid the Prince depart in haste,
With looks whose painful seriousness forbade
All further effort. Yet unwillingly,
And boding evil, Madoc from the shore
Push'd off his little boat. She on its way
Stood gazing for a moment, lost in thought,
Then struck into the woods.
Swift through the lake
Madoc's strong arm impell'd the light canoe.
Fainter and fainter to his distant ear
The sound of battle came; and now the Moon
Arose in heaven, and pour'd o'er lake and land
A soft and mellowing ray. Along the shore
Llaian was wandering with distracted steps,
And groaning for her child. She saw the boat
Approach; and as on Madoc's naked limbs,
And on his countenance, the moonbeam fell,
And as she saw the boy in that dim light,
XVII. - 119
It seemed as though the Spirits of the dead
Were moving on the waters; and she stood
With open lips that breath'd not, and fix'd eyes,
Watching the unreal shapes: but when the boat
Drew nigh, and Madoc landed, and she saw
His step substantial, and the child came near,
Unable then to move or speak or breathe,
Down on the sand she sunk.
But who can tell,
But who can feel, her agony of joy,
When, by the Prince's care restor'd to sense,
She recogniz'd her child, she heard the name
Of mother from that voice, which, sure, she thought
Had pour'd upon some Priest's remorseless ear
Its last vain prayer for life? No tear reliev'd
The insupportable feeling, that convuls'd
Her swelling breast. She look'd and look'd, and felt
The child, lest some delusion should have mock'd
Her soul to madness; then the gushing joy
Burst forth, and with caresses and with tears
She mingled broken prayers of thanks to Heaven.
And now the Prince, when joy had had its course,
Said to her, Knowest thou the mountain path?
For I would to the battle. But, at that,
XVII. - 120
A sudden damp of dread came over her, --
O leave us not! she cried; lest haply ill
Should have befallen! for I remember, now,
How in the woods I spied a savage band
Making towards Caermadoc. God forefend
The evil that I fear! -- What! Madoc cried,
Were ye, then, left defenceless? -- She replied,
All ran to arms: there was no time for thought
Nor counsel in that sudden ill; nor one
Of all thy people, who could in that hour
Have brook'd home-duty, when thy life or death
Hung on the chance.
Now God be merciful!
Cried he; -- for of Goervyl did he think,
And the cold sweat started at every pore.
Give me the boy! -- he travels all too slow.
Then in his arms he took him, and sped on,
Suffering more painful terrors, than, of late
His own near death provoked. They held their way
In silence up the heights; and when at length,
They reach'd the valley entrance, there the Prince
Bade her remain, while he went on to spy
The footsteps of the spoiler. Soon he saw
Men, in the moonlight, stretch'd upon the ground;
XVII. - 121
And quickening then his pace, in worst alarm,
Along the shade, with cautious step, he mov'd
Toward one to seize his weapons: 'twas a corpse;
Nor whether, at the sight, to hope or fear
Yet knew he. But anon, a steady light,
As of a taper, seen in his own home,
Comforted him; and, drawing nearer now,
He saw his sister on her knees, beside
The rushes, ministering to a wounded man.
Safe that the dear one liv'd, then back he sped
With joyful haste, and summon'd Llaian on,
And in loud talk advanced. Erillyab first
Came forward at the sound; for she had faith
To trust the voice. -- They live! they live! she cried;
God hath redeemed them! -- Nor the maiden yet
Believ'd the actual joy: like one astound,
Or as if struggling with a dream, she stood,
Till he came close, and spread his arms, and call'd,
Goervyl! -- and she fell in his embrace.
But Madoc linger'd not; his eager soul
Was in the war: in haste he donn'd his arms;
And, as he felt his own good sword again,
Exulting play'd his heart. -- Boy, he exclaim'd
To Mervyn, arm thyself, and follow me!
XVII. - 122
For in this battle we shall break the power
Of our blood-thirsty foe; and, in thine age,
Wouldst thou not wish, when young men crowd around
To hear thee chronicle their fathers' deeds,
Wouldst thou not wish to add, -- And I, too, fought
In that day's conflict?
Mervyn's cheek turn'd pale
A moment; then, with terror all suffus'd,
Grew fever-red. Nay, nay! Goervyl cried,
He is too young for battles! -- But the Prince,
With erring judgment, in that fear-flushed cheek
Beheld the glow of enterprizing hope
And youthful courage. I was such a boy,
Sister! he cried, at Counsyllt; and that day,
In my first field, with stripling arm, smote down
Many a tall Saxon. Saidst thou not but now,
How bravely, in the fight of yesterday,
He flesh'd his sword? -- and wouldst thou keep him here,
And rob him of his glory? See his cheek!
How it hath crimson'd at the unworthy thought!
Arm! arm! and to the battle!
How her heart
Then panted.! how, with late regret, and vain,
Senena wish'd Goervyl then had heard
The secret, trembling on her lips so oft,
XVII. - 123
So oft by shame withheld! She thought that now
She could have fallen upon her Lady's neck,
And told her all; but, when she saw the Prince,
Imperious shame forbade her, and she felt
It were an easier thing to die than speak.
Availed not now regret or female fear!
She mail'd her delicate limbs; beneath the plate
Compress'd her bosom; on her golden locks
The helmet's overheavy load she placed;
Hung from her neck the shield; and though the sword,
Which swung beside her, lightest she had chosen,
Though in her hand she held the slenderest spear,
Alike unwieldy for the maiden's grasp
The sword and ashen lance. But, as she touch'd
The murderous point, an icy shudder ran
Through every fibre of her trembling frame;
And, overcome by womanly terror then,
The damsel to Goervyl turn'd, and let
The breastplate fall, and on her bosom placed
The Lady's hand, and hid her face, and cried,
Save me! The warrior, who beheld the act,
And heard not the low voice, with angry eye
Glow'd on the seemly boy of feeble heart.
But, in Goervyl, joy had overpower'd
The wonder; joy to find the boy she lov'd
XVII. - 124
Was one to whom her heart with closer love
Might cling; and to her brother she exclaimed,
She must not go! We women in the war
Have done our parts.
A moment Madoc dwelt
On the false Mervyn, with an eye from whence
Displeasure did not wholly pass away.
Nor loitering to resolve Love's riddle now,
To Malinal he turn'd, where on his couch
The wounded youth was laid. -- True friend, said he,
And brother mine, -- for truly by that name
I trust to greet thee, -- if, in this near fight,
My hour should overtake me, -- as who knows
The lot of war? -- Goervyl hath my charge
To quite thee for thy service with herself;
That so thou mayest raise up seed to me
Of mine own blood, who may inherit here
The obedience of thy people and of mine. --
Malinal took his hand, and to his lips
Feebly he pressed it, saying, One boon more,
Father and friend, I ask! -- if thou shouldst meet
Yuhidthiton in battle, think of me.
[ 125 ]
Upon the plain of Aztlan! there the shout
Of battle, the barbarian yell, the bray
Of dissonant instruments, the clang of arms,
The shriek of agony, the groan of death,
In one wild uproar and continuous din,
Shake the still air; while, overhead, the Moon,
Regardless of the stir of this low world,
Holds on her heavenly way. Still unallay'd
By slaughter raged the battle, unrelax'd
By lengthened toil; anger supplying still
Strength undiminish'd for the desperate strife.
And, lo! where yonder, on the temple-top,
Blazing aloft, The sacrificial fire,
Scene more accurst and hideous than the war,
Displays to all the vale; for whosoe'er
That night the Aztecas could bear away,
XVIII. - 126
Hoaman or Briton, thither was he borne;
And, as they stretched him on the stone of blood,
Did the huge tambour of the God, with voice
Loud as the thunder-peal, and heard as far,
Proclaim the act of death, more visible
Than in broad daylight, by those midnight fires
Distinctlier seen. Sight that with horror fill'd
The Cymry, and to mightier efforts rous'd.
Howbeit, this abhorred idolatry
Worked for their safety; the deluded foes,
Obstinate in their faith, forbearing still
The mortal stroke, that they might to the God
Present the living victim, and to him
Let the life flow.
And now the orient sky
Glow'd with the ruddy morning, when the Prince
Came to the field. He lifted up his voice,
And shouted Madoc! Madoc! They who heard
The cry, astonish'd turned; and, when they saw
The countenance his open helm disclos'd,
They echo'd, Madoc! Madoc! Through the host
Spread the miraculous joy, -- He lives! he lives!
He comes himself in arms! -- Lincoya heard,
As he had rais'd his arm to strike a foe,
And stay'd the stroke, and thrust him off, and cried,
XVIII. - 127
Go, tell the tidings to thy countrymen,
Madoc is in the war! Tell them his God
Hath set the White King free! Astonishment
Seized on the Azteca; on all who heard,
Amazement and dismay; and Madoc now
Stood in the foremost battle, and his sword --
His own good sword, -- flashed like the sudden death
Of lightning in their eyes.
The King of Aztlan
Heard and beheld, and in his noble heart
Heroic hope arose. Forward he moved,
And in the shock of battle; front to front,
Encounter'd Madoc. A strong-statured man
Coanocotzin stood, one well who knew
The ways of war, and never yet in fight
Had found an equal foe. Adown his back
Hung the long robe of feather'd royalty;
Gold fenced his arms and legs; upon his helm
A sculptured snake protends the arrowy tongue;
Around a coronal of plumes arose,
Brighter than beam the rainbow hues of light,
Or than the evening glories which the sun
Slants o'er the moving, many-colour'd sea,
Such their surpassing beauty; bells of gold
Emboss'd his glittering helmet, and where'er
XVIII. - 128
Their sound was heard, there lay the press of war,
And Death was busiest there. Over the breast
And o'er the golden breastplate of the King,
A feathery cuirass, beautiful to eye,
Light as the robe of peace, yet strong to save;
For the sharp falchion's baffled edge would glide
From its smooth softness. On his arm he held
A buckler overlaid with beaten gold;
And so he stood, guarding his thighs and legs,
His breast and shoulders also, with the length
Of his broad shield.
Oppos'd, in mail complete,
Stood Madoc in his strength. The flexible chains
Gave play to his full muscles, and displayed
How broad his shoulders, and his ample breast.
Small was his shield, there broadest where it fenced.
The well of life, and gradual to a point
Lessening, steel-strong, and wieldy in his grasp.
It bore those blazon'd eaglets, at whose sight,
Along the Marches, or where holy Dee
Through Cestrian pastures rolls his tamer stream,
So oft the yoeman had, in days of yore,
Cursing his perilous tenure, wound the horn,
And warden, from the castle-tower, rung out
The loud alarum-bell, heard far and wide.
XVIII. - 129
Upon his helm no sculptur'd dragon sate,
Sate no fantastic terrors; a white plume
Nodded above, far-seen, floating like foam
On the war-tempest, always where
The tide ran strongest. Man to man they stood,
The King of Aztlan and the Ocean Chief.
Fast on the intervening buckler, fell
The Azteca's stone falchion. Who hath watch'd
The midnight lightnings of the summer storm,
That, with their awful blaze, irradiate heaven,
Then leave a blacker night? So quick, so fierce,
Flash'd Madoc's sword, which, like the serpent's tongue,
Seem'd double, in its rapid whirl of light.
Unequal arms! for on the British shield
Avail'd not the stone falchion's brittle edge;
And, in the golden buckler, Madoc's sword
Bit deep. Coanocotzin saw, and dropt
The unprofitable weapon, and receiv'd
His ponderous club, -- that club, beneath whose force,
Driven by his father's arm, Tepollomi
Had fallen subdu'd, -- and fast and fierce he drove
The massy weight on Madoc. From his shield,
The deadening force communicated, ran
Up his stunn'd arm; anon, upon his helm
Crashing, it came; -- his eyes shot fire, his brain
XVIII. - 130
Swam dizzy, -- he recoils, -- he reels; -- again
The club descends.
That danger to himself
Recall'd the Lord of Ocean. On he sprung,
Within the falling weapon's curve of death,
Shunning its frustrate aim, and breast to breast
He grappled with the King. The pliant mail
Bent to his straining limbs; while plates of gold,
The feathery robe, the buckler's amplitude,
Cumber'd the Azteca, and from his arm,
Clinch'd in the Briton's mighty grasp, at once
He dropt the impeding buckler, and let fall
The unfasten'd club; which when the Prince beheld,
He thrust him off, and, drawing back, resum'd
The sword that from his wrist suspended hung,
And twice he smote the King; twice from the quilt
Of plumes the iron glides; and, lo! the King --
So well his soldiers watch their monarch's need,
Shakes in his hand a spear.
But now a cry
Burst on the ear of Madoc; and he saw,
Through opening ranks, where Urien was convey'd
A captive, to his death. Grief then, and shame
And rage, inspir'd him. With a mighty blow
He cleft Coanocotzin's helm: expos'd
XVIII. - 131
The monarch stood. Again the thunder-stroke
Came on him, and he fell. -- The multitude,
Forgetful of their country and themselves,
Crowd round their dying King. Madoc, whose eye
Still follow'd Urien, call'd upon his men,
And, through the broken army of the foe,
Prestto his rescue.
But far off the old man
Was borne with furious speed. Ririd alone
Pursued his path; and through the thick of war,
Close on the captors, with avenging sword,
Followed right on, and through the multitude,
And through the gate of Aztlan, made his way,
And through the streets, till from the temple-mound
The press of Pabas and the populace
Repelled him, while the old man was hurried up.
Hark! that infernal tambour! o'er the lake
Its long, loud thunders roll, and through the hills,
Awakening all their echoes. Ye accurst,
Ye blow the fall too soon! Ye dogs of Hell,
The Hart is yet at bay! -- Thus long the old man,
As one exhaust'd or resign'd, had lain,
Resisting not; but, at that knell of death
Springing with unexpected force, he freed
His feet, and shook the Pabas from their hold,
XVIII. - 132
And, with his armed hand, between the eyes
Smote one so sternly that to earth he fell,
Bleeding, and all astound. A man of proof
Was Urien in his day, thought worthiest,
In martial thews and manly discipline,
To train the sons of Owen. He had lost
Youth's supple sleight; yet still the skill remained,
And in his stiffened limbs a strength which yet
Might put the young to shame. And now he set
His back against the altar, resolute
Not as a victim by the knife to die,
But in the act of battle, as became
A man grown gray in arms. And in his heart
There was a living hope; for now he knew
That Madoc lived, nor could the struggle long
Endure against that arm.
Soon was the way
Laid open by the sword; for side by side
The brethren of Aberfraw mowed their path,
And, following close, the Cymry drive along,
Till on the summit of the mound their cry
Of victory rings aloud. The temple floor,
So often which had reeked with innocent blood,
Reeks now with righteous slaughter. Frantically,
In the wild fury of their desperate zeal,
XVIII. - 133
The Priests crowd round the God, and with their knives
Hack at the foe, and call on him to save, --
At the Altar, at the Idol's feet they fall.
Nor with less frenzy did the multitude
Flock to defend their God. Fast as they fell,
New victims rushed upon the British sword;
And sure that day had rooted from the earth
The Aztecas, and on their conquerors drawn
Promiscuous ruin, had not Madoc now
Beheld from whence the fearless ardour sprang; --
They saw Mexitli; momently they hop'd
That he would rise in vengeance. Madoc seiz'd
A massy club, and from his azure throne
Shatter'd the giant idol.
At that sight
The men of Aztlan pause; so was their pause
Dreadful, as when a multitude expect
The Earthquake's second shock. But when they saw
Earth did not open, nor the temple fall,
To crush their impious enemies, dismay'd,
They felt themselves forsaken by their Gods:
Then from their temples and their homes they fled,
And, leaving Aztlan to the conqueror,
Sought the near city, whither they had sent
Their women, timely sav'd.
XVIII. - 134
With growing fury as the danger grew,
Raged in the battle; but Yuhidthiton
Still with calm courage, till no hope remain'd,
Fronted the rushing foe. When all was vain,
When back within the gate Cadwallon's force
Resistless had compell'd them, then the Chief
Called on the Tyger, -- Let us bear from hence
The dead Ocelopan, the slaughtered King;
Not to the Strangers should their bones be left,
O Tlalala! -- The Tyger wept with rage,
With generous anger. To the place of death,
Where side by side the noble dead were stretch'd,
They fought their way. Eight warriors join'd their shields:
On these, a bier which well beseem'd the dead --
The lifeless Chiefs were laid. Yuhidthiton
Call'd on the people, -- Men of Aztlan! yet
One effort more! I Bear hence Ocelopan;
Bear hence the body of your noble King!
Not to the Strangers should their bones be left!
That whoso heard, with wailing and loud cries,
Prest round the body-bearers; few indeed,
For few were they who in that fearful hour
Had ears to hear, -- but with a holy zeal,
A myrtyr courage, around the bier they ranged
XVIII. - 135
Their bulwark breasts. So toward the farther gate
They held their steady way, while outermost,
In unabated valor, Tlalala
Faced, with Yuhidthiton, the foe's pursuit.
Vain valor then, and fatal piety,
As the fierce conquerors bore on their retreat,
If Madoc had not seen their perilous strife:
Remembering Malinal, and in his heart
Honouring a gallant foe, he call'd aloud,
And bade his people cease the hot pursuit.
So, through the city gate, they bore away
The dead; and, last of all their countrymen,
Leaving their homes and temples to the foe,
Yuhidthiton and Tlalala retir'd.
[ 136 ]
A city of the Aztecas, by name
Patamba. Thither, from the first alarm,
The women and infirm old men were sent,
And children; thither they who from the fight,
And from the fall of Aztlan, had escaped,
In scatter'd bands repaired. Their City lost,
Their Monarch slain, their Idols overthrown, --
These tidings spread dismay; but to dismay
Succeeded horror soon, and kindling rage,
Horror by each new circumstance increas'd:
By numbers, rafe embolden'd. Lo! to the town,
Lamenting loud, a numerous train approach,
Like mountain torrents, swelling as they go.
Borne in the midst, upon the bier of shields?
The noble dead were seen. To tenfold grief
XVIII. - 137
That spectacle provok'd, to tenfold wrath
That anguish stung them. With their yells and groans
Curses are mix'd, and threats, and bitter vows
Of vengeance full and speedy. From the wreck
Of Aztlan who is sav'd? Tezozomoc,
Chief servant of the Gods, their favor'd Priest,
The voice by whom they speak; young Tlalala,
Whom even defeat with fresher glory crowns;
And full of fame, their country's rock of strength,
Yuhidthiton: him to their sovereign slain
Allied in blood, mature in wisdom him,
Of valour unsurpassable, by all
Belov'd and honour'd, him the general voice
Acclaims their King; him they demand to lead
Their gather'd force to battle, to revenge
Their Lord, their Gods, their kinsmen, to redeem
Their altars and their country.
But the dead
First from the nation's gratitude require
The rites of death. On mats of mountain palm,
Wrought of rare texture and of richest hues,
The slaughter'd warriors, side by side, were laid;
Their bodies wrapped in many-colour'd robes
Of gossampine, bedeck'd with gems and gold.
The livid paleness of the countenance
XVIII. - 138
A mask concealed, and hid their ghastly wounds.
The Pabas stood around, and, one by one,
Placed in their hands the sacred aloe leaves,
With mystic forms and characters inscrib'd;
And, as each leaf was given, Tezozomoc
Addressed the dead, -- So may ye safely pass
Between the mountains, which in endless war
Hurtle, with horrible uproar, and frush
Of rocks that meet in battle. Arm'd with this,
In safety shall ye walk along the road,
Where the Great Serpent from his lurid eyes
Shoots lightning, and across the guarded way
Vibrates his tongue of fire. Receive the third,
And cross the waters where the Crocodile
In vain expects his prey. Your passport this
Thro' the Eight Deserts; through the Eight Hills this;
And this be your defence against the Wind,
Whose fury sweeps like dust, the uprooted rocks,
Whose keenness cuts the soul. Ye noble dead,
Protected with these potent amulets,
Soon shall your Spirits reach triumphantly
The Palace of the Sun!
The funeral train
Mov'd to Mexitli's temple. First on high
The noble dead were borne; in loud lament
XIX. - 139
Then follow'd all by blood allied to them,
Or by affection's voluntary ties
Attached more closely, brethren, kinsmen, wives.
The Peers of Aztlan, all who from the sword
Of Britain had escap'd, honouring the rites,
Came clad in rich array, and bore the arms
And ensigns of the dead. The slaves went last,
And dwarfs, the pastime of the living chiefs,
In life their sport and mockery, and in death
Their victims. Wailing, and with funeral hymns,
The long procession moved. Mexitli's Priest,
With all his servants, from the temple-gate
Advanced to meet the train. Two piles were built
Within the sacred court, of odorous wood,
And rich with gums: on these, with all their robes,
Their ensigns, and their arms, they laid the dead;
Then lit the pile. The rapid light ran up,
Up flam'd the fire; and o'er the darken'd sky
Sweet clouds of incense curl'd.
The Pabas then
Perform'd their bloody office. First they slew
The women whom the slaughter'd most had lov'd,
Who most had lov'd the dead. Silent they went
Toward the fatal stone, resisting not,
Nor sorrowing nor dismay'd, but, as it seem'd,
XIX. - 140
Stunn'd, senseless. One alone there was, whose cheek
Was flush'd, whose eye was animate with fire:
Her most in life Coanocotzin priz'd,
By ten years' love endear'd, his counsellor,
His friend, the partner of his secret thoughts;
Such had she been, such merited to be.
She, as she bared her bosom to the knife,
Call'd on Yuhidthiton. -- Take heed, O King!
Aloud she cried, and pointed to the Priests;
Beware these wicked men! they to the war
Forced my dead Lord. -- Thou knowest, and I know,
He loved the Strangers; that his noble mind,
Enlightened by their lore, had willingly
Put down these cursed altars! -- As she spake.
They dragg'd her to the stone. Nay, nay! she cried,
There needs not force! I go to join my Lord!
His blood and mine be on you! Ere she ceas'd,
The knife was in her breast. Tezozomoc,
Trembling with wrath, held up toward the Sun
Her reeking heart.
The dwarfs and slaves died last.
That bloody office done, they gather'd up
The ashes of the dead, and coffer'd them
Apart; the teeth with them, which unconsum'd
Among the ashes lay, a single lock
XIX. - 141
Shorn from the corpse, and his lip-emerald,
Now held to be the Spirit's flawless heart
In better worlds. The Priest then held on high
The little ark which shrined his last remains,
And called upon the people: -- Lo! behold!
This was your King, the bountiful, the brave
Coanocotzin! Men of Aztlan, hold
His memory holy! learn from him to love
Your country and your Gods; for them to live
Like him, like him to die. So from yon Heaven,
Where in the Spring of Light his Spirit bathes,
Often shall he descend; hover above
On evening clouds; or, plumed with rainbow wings,
Sip honey from the flowers, and warble joy.
Honour his memory! emulate his worth!
So saying, in the temple-tower he laid
The relics of the King.
These duties done,
The living claim their care. His birth, his deeds,
The general love, the general voice, have mark'd.
Yuhidthiton for King. Bare-headed, bare
Of foot, of limb, scarfed only round the loins,
The Chieftain to Mexitli's temple mov'd,
And knelt before the God. Tezozomoc
King over Aztlan there anointed him,
XIX. - 142
And over him, from hallow'd cedar-branch,
Sprinkled the holy water. Then the Priest
In a black garment rob'd him, figur'd white
With skulls and bones, a garb to emblem war,
Slaughter, and ruin, his imperial tasks.
Next in his hand the Priest a censer placed;
And while he knelt, directing to the God
The steaming incense, thus addressed the King:
Chosen by the people, by the Gods approv'd,
Swear to protect thy subjects, to maintain
The worship of thy fathers, to observe
Their laws, to make the Sun pursue his course,
The clouds descend in rain, the rivers hold
Their wonted channels, and the fruits of earth
To ripen in their season. Swear, O King!
And prosper, as thou holdest good thine oath.
He rais'd his voice, and swore. Then on his brow
Tezozomoc the crown of Aztlan placed;
And in the robe of emblemed royalty,
Preceded by the golden wands of state,
Yuhidthiton went forth, anointed King.
[ 143 ]
In gratulations of reiterate joy
They shout his name, and bid him lead them on
To vengeance. But to answer that appeal
Tezozomoc advanced. -- Oh! go not forth,
Cried the Chief Paba, till the land be purged
From her offence! No God will lead ye on,
While there is guilt in Aztlan. Let the Priests
Who from the ruin'd city have escap'd,
And all who in her temples have perform'd
The ennobling service of her injur'd Gods,
Gather together now.
He spake: the train
Assembled, priests and matrons, youths and maids.
Servants of Heaven! aloud the Arch-Priest began,
The Gods had favor'd Aztlan; bound for death
XX. - 144
The White King lay: our countrymen were strong
In battle, and the conquest had been ours,
I speak not from myself, but as the Powers,
Whose voice on earth I am, impel the truth, --
The conquest had been ours; but treason lurk'd
In Aztlan, treason and foul sacrilege;
And therefore were her children in the hour
Of need abandon'd; therefore were her youth
Cut down, her altars therefore overthrown.
The White King, whom ye saw upon the Stone
Of Sacrifice, and whom ye held in bonds,
Stood in the foremost fight, and slew your Lord.
Not by a God, O Aztecas! enlarged
Broke he his bondage! By a mortal hand,
An impious, sacrilegious, traitorous hand,
Your city was betrayed, your King was slain,
Your shrines polluted. The insulted Power,
He who is terrible, beheld the deed;
And now he calls for vengeance.
Stern he spake,
And from Mexitli's altar bade the Priest
Bring forth the sacred water. In his hand
He took the vase, and held it up, and cried,
Accurst be he who did this deed! Accurs'd
The father who begat him, and the breast
XX. - 145
At which he fed! Death be his portion now,
Eternal infamy his lot on earth,
His doom eternal horrors! Let his name,
From sire to son, be in the people's mouth,
Through every generation! Let a curse
Of deep and pious and effectual hate
For ever follow the detested name,
And every curse inflict upon his soul
A stab of mortal anguish!
Then he gave
The vase. -- Drink one by one! the innocent
Boldly, -- on them the water hath no power;
But let the guilty tremble! it shall flow
A draught of agony and death to him,
A stream of fiery poison!
What were thy horrors when the fatal vase
Passed to thy trial, -- when Tezozomoc
Fix'd his keen eye on thee! A deathiness
Came over her; -- her blood ran back; -- her joints
Shook like the palsy; and the dreadful cup
Dropt from her conscious hold. The Priest exclaim'd,
The hand of God! the avenger manifest!
Drag her to the altar! -- At that sound of death,
The life forsook her limbs, and down she fell,
XX. - 146
Senseless. They dragg'd her to the Stone of Blood,
All senseless as she lay; -- in that dread hour
Nature was kind.
Tezozomoc then cried,
Bring forth the kindred of this wretch accurst,
That none pollute the earth. An aged Priest
Came forth, and answered, There is none but I,
The father of the dead.
To death with him!
Exclaim'd Tezozomoc; to death with him;
And purify the nation! But the King
Permitted not that crime. -- Chief of the Priests,
If he be guilty, let the guilty bleed,
Said he; but never, while I live and reign,
The innocent shall suffer. Hear him speak!
Hear me! the old man replied. That fatal day
I never saw my child. At morn she left
The city, seeking flowers to dress the shrine
Of Coatlantona; and that at eve
I stood among the Pabas in the gate,
Blessing our soldiers, as they issu'd out,
Let them who saw bear witness. -- Two came forth,
And testified Aculhua spake the words
XX. - 147
Full well I know, the old man pursued,
My daughter loved the Strangers, -- that her heart
Was not with Aztlan; but not I the cause!
Ye all remember how the Maid was given, --
She being, in truth, of all our Maids the flower --
In spousals to Lincoya, him who fled
From sacrifice. It was a misery
To me to see my only child condemn'd
In early widowhood to waste her youth, --
My only and my beautifullest girl!
Chief of the Priests, you order'd; I obey'd.
Not mine the fault, if, when Lincoya fled,
And fought among the enemies, her heart
Was with her husband.
He is innocent!
He shall not die! Yuhidthiton exclaim'd.
Nay, King Yuhidthiton! Aculhua cried,
I merit death. My country overthrown,
My daughter slain, alike demand on me
That justice. When her years of ministry,
Vow'd to the temple, had expir'd, my love,
My selfish love, still suffer'd her to give
Her youth to me, by filial piety
In widowhood detain'd. That selfish crime
Heavily, -- heavily, -- do I expiate!
XX. - 148
But I am old; and she was all to me.
O King Yuhidthiton! I ask for death;
In mercy, let me die! cruel it were
To bid me waste away alone in age,
By the slow pain of grief. -- Give me the knife
Which pierced my daughter's bosom!
The old man
Moved to the altar; none oppos'd his way:
With a firm hand he buried in his heart
The reeking flint, and fell upon his child.
[ 149 ]
Impress'd upon the assembled multitude;
But soon the brute and unreflecting crew
Turn'd to their sports. Some bare their olive limbs,
And in the race contend; with hopes and fears
Which rouse to rage, some urge the mimic war.
Here, one upon his ample shoulders bears
A comrade's weight, upon whose head a third
Stands pois'd, like Mercury in act to fly.
There, other twain upon their shoulders prop
A biforked beam; while on its height a third
To nimble cadence, shifts his glancing feet,
And shakes a plume aloft, and wheels around
A wreath of bells, with modulating sway.
Here round a lofty mast the dancers move
Quick, to quick music; from its top affix'd,
Each holds a colour'd cord, and, as they weave
XXI. - 150
The complex crossings of the mazy dance,
The checqer'd network twists around the tree
Its intertexture of harmonious hues.
But now a shout went forth; the Fliers mount,
And from all meaner sports the multitude
Flock to their favorite pastime. In the ground,
Branchless and bark'd, the trunk of some tall pine
Is planted; near its summit a square frame;
Four cords pass through the perforated square,
And fifty times and twice around the tree,
A mystic number, are entwin'd above.
Four Aztecas, equipp'd with wings, ascend,
And round them bind the ropes; anon they wave
Their pinions, and, upborne on spreading plumes,
Launch on the air, and wheel in circling flight,
The lengthen'd cords untwisting as they fly.
A fifth above, upon the perilous point
Dances, and shakes a flag; and on the frame,
Others the while maintain their giddy stand,
Till now, with many a round, the wheeling cords
Draw near their utmost length, and toward the ground
The aerial circlers speed; then down the ropes
They spring, and on their way from line to line
Leap, while the shouting multitude endure
A shuddering admiration.
XXI. - 151
On such sports,
Their feelings centr'd in the joy of sight,
The multitude stood gazing, when a man,
Breathless, and with broad eyes, came running on,
His pale lips trembling, and his bloodless cheek
Like one who meets a lion in his path.
The fire! the fire! the temple! he exclaim'd;
Mexitli! -- They, astonish'd at his words,
Hasten toward the wonder; -- and, behold,
The inner fane is sheeted white with fire!
Dumb with affright they stood; the enquiring King
Look'd to Tezozomoc; the Priest replied,
I go! the Gods protect me! -- and therewith
He entered boldly in the house of flame.
But instant, bounding with inebriate joy,
He issues forth. -- The God! the God! he cries;
Joy! -- joy! -- the God! -- the visible hand of Heaven!
Repressing then his transport, -- Ye all know
How that in Aztlan Madoc's impious hand
Destroy'd Mexitli's image: -- it is here,
Unbroken, and the same! -- Toward the gate
They press; they see the Giant Idol there,
The Serpent girding him, his neck with hearts
Beaded, and in his hand the club, -- even such
As oft in Aztlan, on his azure throne,
XXI. - 152
They had ador'd the God, they see him now,
Unbroken, and the same! -- Again the Priest
Enter'd; again a second joy inspir'd
To frenzy all around: -- for forth he came,
Shouting with new delight; -- for in his hand
The banner of the nation he upheld,
That banner to their fathers sent from Heaven,
By them abandon'd to the conqueror.
He motion'd silence, and the crowd were still.
People of Aztlan! he began, when first
Your fathers from their native land went forth
In search of better seats, this banner came
From Heaven. The Famine and the Pestilence
Had been among them; in their hearts the spring
Of courage was dried up: with midnight fires
Radiate, by midnight thunders heralded,
This banner came from Heaven; and with it came
Health, valour, victory. Aztecas! again
The God restores the blessing. To the God
Move now in solemn dance of grateful joy;
Exalt for him the song.
They form'd the dance,
They rais'd the hymn, and sung Mexitli's praise.
Glory to thee, the Great, the Terrible,
XXI. - 153
Mexitli, guardian God! -- From whence art thou,
O Son of Mystery? from whence art thou,
Whose sire thy Mother knew not? She at eve
Walked in the temple court, and saw from Heaven
A plume descend, as bright and beautiful
As if some spirit had embodied there
The rainbow hues, or dipt it in the light
Of setting suns. To her it floated down;
She placed it in her bosom, to bedeck
The altar of the God; she sought it there;
Amaz'd she found it not; amaz'd she felt
Another life infused. -- From whence art thou,
O Son of Mystery? from whence art thou,
Whose sire thy Mother knew not?
Grief was hers,
Wonder and grief; for life was in her womb,
And her stern children with revengeful eyes
Beheld their mother's shame. She saw their frowns,
She knew their plots of blood. Where shall she look
For succor, when her sons conspire her death;
Where hope for comfort, when her daughter whets
The impious knife of murder? -- From her womb
The voice of comfort came, tile timely aid;
Already at her breast the blow was aim'd,
When forth Mexitli leapt, and in his hand
XXI. - 154
The angry spear, to punish and to save.
Glory to thee, the Great, the Terrible,
Mexitli, guardian God!
Arise and save,
Mexitli, save thy people! Dreadful one,
Arise, redeem thy city, and revenge!
An impious, an impenetrable foe,
Hath blacken'd thine own altars with the blood
Of thine own priests; hath dash'd thine Image down.
In vain did valour's naked breast oppose
Their mighty arms; in vain the feeble sword
On their impenetrable mail was driven.
Not against thee, Avenger, shall those arms
Avail, nor that impenetrable mail
Resist the fiery arrows of thy wrath.
Arise, go forth in anger, and destroy!
[ 155 ]
Of slaughter. The hot sunbeam in her streets
Parch'd the blood pools; the slain were heaped in hills;
The victors, stretch'd in every little shade,
With unhelmed heads reclining on their shields,
Slept the deep sleep of weariness. Ere long,
To needful labour rising, from the gates
They drag the dead; and with united toil
They dig upon the plain the general grave,
The grave of thousands, deep and wide and long.
Ten such they delv'd; and o'er the multitudes,
Who levelled with the plain the deep-dug pits,
Ten monumental hills they heaped on high.
Next, horror heightening joy, they overthrew
The skull-built towers, the files of human heads,
XXII. - 156
And earth to earth consigned them. To the flames
They cast the idols, and upon the wind
Scattered their ashes; then the temples fell,
Whose black and putrid walls were scaled with blood,
And not one stone of those accursed piles
Was on another left.
In Aztlan, it behooved the Cymry now
There to collect their strength, and there await,
Or thence with centred numbers urge, the war.
For this was Ririd missioned to the ships;
For this Lincoya from the hills invites
Erillyab and her tribe. There did not breathe
On this wide world a happier man that day
Than young Lincoya, when from their retreat
He bade his countrymen come repossess
The land of their forefathers; proud at heart
To think how great a part himself had borne
In their revenge, and that beloved one,
The gentle saviour of the Prince, whom well
He knew his own dear love, and for the deed
Still dearer lov'd the dearest. Round the youth,
Women and children, the infirm and old,
Gather to hear his tale; and as they stood
With eyes of steady wonder, outstretch'd necks,
XXII. - 157
And open lips of listening eagerness,
Fast play'd the tide of triumph in his veins,
Flushed his brown cheek, and kindled his dark eye.
And now, reposing from his toil awhile,
Lincoya, on a crag above the straits,
Sate underneath a tree, whose twinkling leaves
Sung to the gale at noon. Ayayaca
Sate by him in the shade: the old man had lov'd
The youth beside him from his boyhood up,
And still would call him boy. They sate and watch'd
The laden bisons winding down the way,
The multitude who now with joy forsook
Their desolated dwellings; and their talk
Was of the days of sorrow, when they groan'd
Beneath the intolerable yoke, till, sent
By the Great Spirit o'er the pathless deep,
Prince Madoc the Deliverer, came to save.
As thus they commun'd, came a woman up,
Seeking Lincoya; 'twas Aculhua's slave,
The nurse of Coatel. Her wretched eye,
Her pale and livid countenance, foretold
Some tale of misery; and his life-blood ebb'd
In ominous fear. But, when he heard her words
Of death, he seiz'd the lance, and rais'd his arm
To strike the blow of comfort.
XXII. - 158
The old man
Caught his uplifted hand: -- O'er-hasty boy,
Quoth he, regain her yet, if she was dear!
Seek thy beloved in the Land of Souls,
And beg her from the Gods. The Gods will hear,
And, in just recompense of love so true,
Restore their charge.
The miserable youth
Turned at his words a hesitating eye.
I knew a prisoner, -- so the old man pursued,
Or hoping to beguile the youth's despair
With tales that suited the despair of youth,
Or credulous himself of what he told, --
I knew a prisoner once who welcomed death
With merriment and songs, and joy of heart,
Because, he said, the friends whom he lov'd best
Were gone before him to the Land of Souls;
Nor would they, to resume their mortal state,
Even when the Keeper of the Land allow'd,
Forsake its pleasures; therefore he rejoiced
To die, and join them there. I question'd him,
How of these hidden things unknowable
So certainly he spake. The man replied,
One of our nation lost the maid he lov'd;
Nor would he bear his sorrow, -- being one
XXII. - 159
Into whose heart feat never found a way, --
But to the Country of the Dead pursued
Her spirit. Many toils he underwent,
And many dangers gallantly surpass'd,
Till to the Country of the Dead he came.
Gently the Guardian of the Land receiv'd
The living suppliant, listen'd to his prayer,
And gave him back the Spirit of the Maid.
But from that happy country, from the songs
Of joyance, from the splendour-sparkling dance,
Unwillingly compell'd, the Maiden's Soul
Loath'd to return; and he was warn'd to guard
The subtle captive well and warily,
Till, in her mortal tenement relodged,
Mortal delights might win her to remain
A sojourner on earth. Such lessoning
The Ruler of the Souls departed gave;
And, mindful of his charge, the adventurer brought
His subtle captive home. There, underneath
The shelter of a hut, his friends had watch'd
The Maiden's corpse, secur'd it from the sun,
And fanned away the insect swarms of heaven.
A busy hand marr'd all the enterprize:
Curious to see the Spirit, he unloos'd
The knotted bag which held her, and she fled.
XXII. - 160
Lincoya, thou art brave; where man has gone,
Thou wouldst not fear to follow!
Lincoya listened, and with unmov'd eyes:
At length he answer'd, Is the journey long?
The old man replied, A way of many moons.
I know a shorter path! exclaimed the youth;
And up he sprung, and from the precipice
Darted: a moment, -- and Ayayaca heard
His body fall upon the rocks below.
[ 161 ]
May gentle Heaven assign thy happier love,
Blue-eyed Senena! -- She, though not as yet
Had she put off her boy-habiliments,
Had told Goervyl all the history
Of her sad flight, and easy pardon gain'd
From that sweet heart, for guile which meant no ill,
And secrecy, in shame too long maintain'd.
With her dear Lady now, at this still hour
Of evening is the seeming page gone forth,
Beside Caermadoc mere. They loitered on,
Along the windings of its grassy shore,
In such free interchange of inward thought
As the calm hour invited; or at times,
Willingly silent, listening to the bird
XXIII. - 162
Whose one repeated melancholy note,
By oft repeating melancholy made,
Solicited the ear; or gladlier now
Hearkening that cheerful one, who knoweth all
The songs of all the winged choristers,
And in one sequence of melodious sounds
Pours all their music. But a wilder strain
At fits came o'er the water; rising now,
Now with a dying fall, in sink and swell
More exquisitely sweet than ever art
Of man evok'd from instrument of touch,
Or beat, or breath. It was the evening gale,
Which, passing o'er the harp of Caradoc,
Swept all its chords at once, and blended all
Their music into one continuous flow.
The solitary Bard, beside his harp,
Leant underneath a tree, whose spreading boughs,
With broken shade that shifted to the breeze,
Played on the waving waters. Overhead,
There was the leafy murmur; at his foot,
The lake's perpetual ripple; and from far,
Borne on the modulating gale, was heard,
The roaring of the mountain cataract. --
A blind man would have love'd the lovely spot.
XXIII. - 163
Here was Senena by her Lady led,
Trembling, but not reluctant. They drew nigh,
Their steps unheard upon the elastic moss,
Till playfully Goervyl, with quick touch,
Ran o'er the harp-strings. At the sudden sound
He rose. -- Hath then thy hand, quoth she, O Bard,
Forgot its cunning, that the wind should be
Thine harper? -- Come! one strain for Britain's sake;
And let the theme be woman! -- He replied,
But if the strain offend, O Lady fair,
Blame thou the theme, not me! Then to the harp
He sung, -- Three things a wise man will not trust,
The Wind, the Sunshine of an April day,
And Woman's plighted faith. I have beheld
The Weathercock upon the steeple point
Steady from morn till eve; and I have seen
The bees go forth upon an April morn,
Secure the sunshine will not end in showers;
But when was Woman true?
False Bard! thereat,
With smile of playful anger, she exclaimed;
False Bard, and slanderous song! Were such thy thoughts
Of woman, when thy youthful lays were heard
In Heilyn's hall? -- But at that name his heart
Leap'd, and his cheek with sudden flush was fir'd,
XXIII. - 164
In Heilyn's hall, quoth he, I learn'd the song.
There was a Maid, who dwelt among the hills
Of Arvon, and to one of humbler birth
Had pledged her troth, not rashly, nor beguil'd; --
They had been playmates in their infancy,
And she in all his thoughts had borne a part,
And all his joys. The Moon and all the Stars
Witness'd their mutual vows; and for her sake
The song was fram'd; for, in the face of day,
She broke them. -- But her name? Goervyl asked.
Quoth he, The poet lov'd her still too well
To couple it with shame.
O fate unjust
Of womankind! she cried; our virtues bloom,
Like violets, in shade and solitude,
While evil eyes hunt all our failings out,
For evil tongues to bruit abroad in jest,
And song of obloquy! -- I knew a Maid,
And she, too, dwelt in Arvon; and she, too,
Lov'd one of lowly birth, who ill repaid
Her spotless faith: for he to ill reports,
And tales of falsehood cunningly devis'd,
Lent a light ear, and to his rival left
The loathing Maid. The wedding-day arriv'd;
The harpers and the gleemen, far and near,
XXIII. - 165
Came to the wedding-feast; the wedding guests
Were come, the altar dress'd, the bridemaids met;
The father, and the bridegroom, and the priest,
Wait for the-bride. But she the while did off
Her bridal robes, and clipped her golden locks,
And put on boy's attire, through wood and wild
To seek her own true love; and over sea,
Forsaking all for him, she followed him,
Nor hoping nor deserving fate so fair;
And at his side she stood, and heard him wrong
Her faith with slanderous tales; and his dull eye,
As it had learned his heart's forgetfulness,
Knows not the trembling one, who even now
Yearns to forgive him all!
He turn'd; he knew
The blue-eyed Maid, who fell upon his breast.
[ 166 ]
Of clamorous joy re-ring! the rocks and hills
Take up the joyful sound, and o'er the lake
Roll their slow echoes. -- Thou art beautiful,
Queen of the Valley! thou art beautiful!
Thy walls, like silver, sparkle to the sun;
Melodious wave thy groves; thy garden sweets
Enrich the pleasant air; upon the lake
Lie the long shadows of thy towers; and high
In heaven thy temple-pyramids arise,
Upon whose summit now, far visible
Against the clear blue sky, the Cross of Christ
Proclaims unto the nations round the news
Of thy redemption. Thou art beautiful,
Aztlan! O City of the Cymbric Prince!
Long may'st thou flourish in thy beauty, long
Prosper beneath the righteous conqueror,
XXIV. - 167
Who conquers to redeem! Long years of peace
And happiness await thy Lord and thee,
Queen of the Valley!
The Hoamen came to repossess the land
Of their forefathers. Joyfully the youth
Come shouting, with acclaim of grateful praise,
Their great Deliverer's name; the old, in talk
Of other days, which mingled with their joy
Memory of many a hard calamity,
And thoughts of time and change, and human life
How changeful and how brief. Prince Madoc met
Erillyab at the gate. -- Sister and Queen,
Said he, here let us hold united reign,
O'er our united people; by one faith,
One interest, bound, and closer to be link'd
By laws and language, and domestic ties,
Till both become one race, for evermore
O friend! she cried,
The last of all my family am I;
Yet sure, though last, the happiest, and by Heaven
Favoured abundantly above them all.
Dear friend, and brother dear! enough for me
Beneath the shadow of thy shield to dwell,
XXIV. - 168
And see my people, by thy fostering care,
Made worthy of their fortune. Graciously
Hath the Beloved One ordained all,
Educing good from ill, himself being good.
Then to the royal palace of the Kings
Of Aztlan, Madoc led Erillyab,
There where her sires had held their ruder reign,
To pass the happy remnant of her years,
Honoured and lov'd by all.
Now had the Prince
Provided for defence, disposing all
As though a ready enemy approach'd.
But from Patamba yet no arkiy mov'd:
Four Heralds only, by the King despatch'd,
Drew nigh the town. The Hoamen, as they came,
Knew the green mantle of their privilege,
The symbols which they bore, an arrow-point
Depressed, a shield, a net, which, from the arm
Suspended, held their food. They through the gate
Pass with permitted entrance, and demand
To see the Ocean Prince. The conqueror
Received them, and the elder thus began:
Thus to the White King, King Yuhidthiton
His bidding sends; such greeting as from foe
Foe may receive, where individual hate
XXIV. - 169
Is none, but honour and assur'd esteem,
And what were friendship, did the Gods permit,
The King of Aztlan sends. Oh, dream not thou
That Aztlan is subdued; nor in the pride
Of conquest tempt thy fortune! Unprepar'd
For battle, at an hour of festival,
Her children were surprised; and thou canst tell
How perilously they maintain'd the long
And doubtful strife. From yonder temple-mount
Look round the plain, and count her towns, and mark
Her countless villages, whose habitants
All are in arms against thee! Thinkest thou
To root them from the land? Or wouldst thou live,
Harass'd by night and day with endless war,
War at thy gates; and to thy children leave
That curse for their inheritance? -- The land
Is all before thee: go in peace, and chuse
Thy dwelling place, North, South, or East, or West;
Or mount again thy houses of the sea
And search the waters. Whatsoe'er thy wants
Demand, will Aztlan willingly supply,
Prepar'd with friendly succor, to assist
Thy soon departure. Thus Yuhidthiton,
Remembering his old friendship, counsels thee;
Thus, as the King of Aztlan, for himself
XXIV. - 170
And people, he commands. If obstinate,
If blind to your own welfare, ye persist,
Woe to ye, wretches! to the armed man,
Who in the fight must perish; to the wife,
Who vainly on her husband's aid will call;
Woe to the babe that hangs upon the breast!
For Aztlan comes in anger, and her Gods
The Conqueror calmly answer'd him: --
By force we won your city, Azteca;
By force we will maintain it: -- to the King
Repeat my saying. -- To this goodly land
Your fathers came for an abiding-place,
Strangers as we, but not, like us, in peace.
They conquered and destroyed. A tyrant race,
Bloody and faithless, to the hills they drove
The unoffending children of the vale,
And, day by day, in cruel sacrifice
Consumed them. God hath sent the Avengers here!
Powerful to save we come, and to destroy,
When Mercy on Destruction calls for aid.
Go, tell your nation that we know their force,
That they know ours; that their Patamba soon
Shall fall like Aztlan; and what other towns
They seek in flight, shall like Patamba fall;
XXIV. - 171
Till, broken in their strength, and spirit-crush'd,
They bow the knee, or leave the land to us,
Its worthier Lords.
If this be thy reply,
Son of the Ocean! said the messenger,
I bid thee, in the King of Aztlan's name,
Mortal defiance. In the field of blood,
Before our multitudes shall trample down
Thy mad and miserable countrymen,
Yuhidthiton invites thee to the strife
Of equal danger. So may he avenge
Coanocotzin, or, like him in death
Discharge his duty.
Madoc replied, that in the field of blood
I never shunn'd a foe. But say thou to him,
I will not seek him there, against his life
To raise the hand which hath been join'd with his
In peace. -- With that the Heralds went their way;
Nor to the right nor to the left they turn,
But to Patamba straight they journey back.
[ 172 ]
Unreeve the rigging, and the masts they strike;
And now ashore they haul the lighten'd hulks,
Tear up the deck, the sever'd planks bear off,
Disjoin the well-scarf'd timbers, and the keel
Loosen asunder; then to the lake-side
Bear the materials, where the Ocean Lord
Himself directs their work. Twelve vessels there,
Fitted alike to catch the wind, or sweep
With oars the moveless surface, they prepare;
Lay down the keel, the stern-post rear, and fix
The strong-curv'd timbers. Others from the wood
Bring the tall pines, and from their hissing trunks
Force, by the aid of fire, the needful gum;
Beneath the close-caulk'd planks, its odorous stream
They pour; then, last, the round-projecting prows
With iron arm, and launch, in uproar loud
XXV. - 173
Of joy, anticipating victory,
The gallies long and sharp. The masts are rear'd,
The sails are bent, and, lo! the ready barks
Lie on the lake.
It chanced, the Hoamen found
A spy of Aztlan, and before the Prince
They led him. But when Madoc bade him tell,
As his life-ransom, what his nation's force,
And what their plans, the savage answer'd him,
With dark and sullen eye and smile of wrath,
If aught the knowledge of my country's force
Could profit thee, be sure, ere I would let
My tongue play traitor, thou shouldst limb from limb
Hew me, and make each separate member feel
A separate agony of death. O Prince!
But I will tell ye of my nation's force,
That ye may know, and tremble at your doom;
That fear may half subdue ye to the sword
Of vengeance. -- Can ye count the stars of Heaven?
The waves which ruffle o'er the lake? the leaves
Swept from the autumnal forest? Can ye look
Upon the eternal snows of yonder height,
And number each particular flake that form'd
The mountain-mass? -- So numberless they come,
Whoe'er can wield the sword, or hurl the lance,
XXV. - 174
Or aim the arrow; from the growing boy,
Ambitious of the battle, to the old man,
Who to revenge his country and his Gods
Hastens, and then to die. By land they come;
And years must pass away ere on their path
The grass again will grow: they come by lake;
And ye shall see the shoals of their canoes
Darken the waters. Strangers! when our Gods
Have conquered, when ye lie upon the Stone
Of Sacrifice, extended one by one,
Half of our armies cannot taste your flesh,
Though given in equal shares, and every share
Minced like a nestling's food!
Azteca, we are few; but through the woods
The Lion walks alone. The lesser fowls
Flock multitudinous in heaven, and fly
Before the Eagle's coming. We are few;
And yet thy nation hath experienced us
Enough for conquest. Tell thy countrymen
We can maintain the city which we won.
So saying, he turned away, rejoiced at heart
To know himself alike by lake or land
Prepar'd to meet their power. The fateful day
XXV. - 175
Draws on; by night the Aztecas embark.
At daybreak from Patamba they set forth,
From every creek and inlet of the lake,
All moving towards Aztlan; safely thus
Weening to reach the plain before her walls,
And fresh for battle. Shine thou forth, O Sun!
Shine fairly forth upon a scene so fair!
Their thousand boats, and the ten thousand oars
From whose broad bowls the waters fall and flash,
And twice ten thousand feather'd helms, and shields,
Glittering with gold and scarlet plumery.
Onward they come with song and swelling horn;
While, louder than all voice and instrument,
The dash of their ten thousand oars, from shore
To shore, and hill to hill, re-echoing rolls,
In undistinguishable peals of sound
And endless echo. On the other side
Advance the British barks; the freshening breeze
Fills the broad sail; around the rushing keel
The waters sing; while proudly they sail on,
Lords of the water. Shine thou forth, O Sun!
Shine forth upon their hour of victory!
Onward the Cymry speed. The Aztecas,
Though wondering at that unexpected sight,
Bravely made on to meet them, seiz'd their bows,
XXV. - 176
And shower'd like rain upon the pavais'd barks
The rattling shafts. Strong blows the auspicious gale;
Madoc, the Lord of Ocean, leads the way;
He holds the helm; the galley where he guides
Flies on, and full upon the first canoe
Drives shattering; midway its long length it struck,
And o'er the wreck with unimpeded force
Dashes among the fleet. The astonish'd men
Gaze in inactive terror. They behold
Their splinter'd vessels floating all around,
Their warriors struggling in the lake, with arms
Experienced in the battle vainly now.
Dismay'd, they drop their bows, and cast away
Their unavailing spears, and take to flight,
Before the Masters of the Elements,
Who rode the waters, and who made the winds
Wing them to vengeance! Forward now they bend,
And backward then, with strenuous strain of arm,
Press the broad paddle. -- Hope of victory
Was none, nor of defence, nor of revenge,
To sweeten death. Toward the shore they speed;
Toward the shore they lift their longing eyes: --
O fools, to meet on their own element
The Sons of Ocean! -- Could they but aland
Set foot, the strife were equal, or to die
XXV. - 177
Less dreadful. But, as if with wings of wind,
On fly the British barks! -- the favoring breeze
Blows strong; far, far behind their roaring keels
Lies the long line of foam; the helm directs
Their force; they move as with the limbs of life,
Obedient to the will that governs them.
Where'er they pass, the crashing shock is heard,
The dash of broken waters, and the cry
Of sinking multitudes.. Here one plies fast
The practised limbs of youth, but o'er his head
The galley drives; one follows a canoe
With skill availing only to prolong
Suffering; another, as with wiser aim
He swims across to meet his coming friends,
Stunn'd by the hasty and unheeding oar,
Sinks senseless to the depths. Lo! yonder boat
Grasped by the thronging strugglers; its light length
Yields to the overbearing weight, and all
Share the same ruin. Here another shows
Crueler contest, where the crew hack off
The hands that hang for life upon its side,
Lest all together perish; then in vain
The voice of friend or kinsman prays for mercy;
Imperious self controls all other thoughts;
And still they deal around unnatural wounds,
XXV. - 178
When the strong bark of Britain over all
Sails in the path of death. -- God of the Lake,
Tlaloc I and thou, O Aiauh, green-robed Queen!
How many a wretch, in dying agonies,
Invoked ye in the misery of that day!
Long after, on the tainted lake, the dead
Weltered; there, perched upon his floating prey,
The vulture fed in daylight; and the wolves,
Assembled at their banquet round its banks,
Disturbed the midnight with their howl of joy.
[ 179 ]
Blew o'er the lake, and drifted to the shore
The floating wreck and bodies of the dead.
Then on the shore the mother might be seen
Seeking her child; the father to the tomb,
With limbs too weak for that unhappy weight,
Bearing the bloated body of his son;
The wife, who, in expectant agony,
Watch'd the black carcass on the coming wave.
On every brow terror was legible,
Anguish in every eye. There was not one
Who in the general ruin did not share
Peculiar grief, and in his country's loss
Lament some dear one dead. Along the lake,
The frequent funeral-piles, for many a day,
XXVI. - 180
With the noon-light their melancholy flames
Dimly commingled; while the mourners stood
Watching the pile, to feed the lingering fire,
As slowly it consumed the watry corpse.
Thou didst not fear, young Tlalala! thy soul,
Unconquer'd and unconquerable, rose
Superior to its fortune. When the Chiefs
Hung their dejected heads, as men subdued
In spirit, then didst thou, Yuhidthiton
Calm in the hour of evil, still maintain
Thy even courage. They from man to man
Go, with the mourners mourning, and by grief
Exciting rage, till, at the promis'd fight,
The hope of vengeance, a ferocious joy
Flash'd in the eye that still retain's the tear
Of tender memory. To the brave they spake
Of Aztlan's strength, -- for Aztlan still was strong; --
The late defeat, -- not there by manly might,
By honourable valour, by the force
Of arms subdued, shame aggravated loss;
The White Men from the waters came, perchance
Sons of the Ocean, by their parent Gods
Aided, and conquerors not by human skill.
When man met man, when in the field of fight
XXVI. - 181
The soldier on firm earth should plant his foot,
Then would the trial be, the struggle then,
The glory, the revenge.
Alike unbroken by defeat, endur'd
The evil day; but in his sullen mind
Work'd thoughts of other vengeance. He the King
Summon'd apart from all, with Tlalala,
And thus advised them: We have vainly tried
The war; these mighty Strangers will not yield
To mortal strength; yet shall they be cut off,
So ye will heed my counsel, and to force
Add wisdom's aid. Put on a friendly front;
Send to their Prince the messenger of peace:
He will believe our words; he will forgive
The past; -- the offender may. So days and months,
Yea, years, if needful, will we wear a face
Of friendliness, till some fit hour arrive,
When we may fire their dwellings in the night,
Or mingle poison in their cups of mirth.
The warrior, from whose force the Lion flies,
Falls by the Serpent's tooth.
Thou speakest well,
Tlalala answered; but my spirit ill
Can brook revenge delay'd.
XXVI. - 182
The Priest then turned
His small and glittering eye toward the King;
But on the Monarch's mild and manly brow
A meaning sate, which made that crafty eye
Bend, quickly abash'd. While yet I was a child,
Replied the King of Aztlan, on my heart
My father laid two precepts: Boy, be brave!
So in the midnight battle shalt thou meet,
Fearless, the sudden foe. Boy, let thy lips
Be clean from falsehood! in the mid-day sun,
So never shalt thou need from mortal man
To turn thy guilty face. Tezozomoc,
Holy I keep the lessons of my sire.
But if the enemy, with their dreadful arms,
Again, said Tlalala, -- If again the Gods
Will our defeat, Yuhidthiton replied,
Vain is it for the feeble power of man
To strive against their will. I augur not
Of ill, young Tiger! but, if ill betide,
The land is all before us. Let me hear
Of perfidy and serpent-wiles no more!
In the noon-day war, and in the face of
Heaven, I meet my foes. Let Aztlan follow me;
And if one man of all her multitudes
XXVI. - 183
Shall better play the warrior in that hour,
Be his the sceptre! But if the people fear
The perilous strife, and own themselves subdued,
Let us depart! The universal Sun
Confines not to one land his partial beams;
Nor is man rooted, like a tree, whose seed
The winds on some ungenial soil have cast,
There where he cannot prosper.
The dark Priest
Concealed revengeful anger, and replied,
Let the King's will be done! An awful day
Draws on; the Circle of the Years is full;
We tremble for the event. The times are strange;
There are portentous changes in the world;
Perchance its end is come.
Be it thy care,
Priest of the Gods, to see the needful rites
Duly perform'd, Yuhidthiton replied.
On the third day, if yonder God of Light
Begin the Circle of the Years anew,
Again we march to war.
One day is past;
Another day comes on. At earliest dawn
Then was there heard through all Patamba's streets
The warning voice, -- Woe! woe! the Sun hath reach'd
XXVI. - 184
The limits of his course; he hath fulfill'd
The appointed cycle! -- Fast and weep and pray, --
Four Suns have perished; -- fast and weep and pray,
Lest the fifth perish also. On the first
The floods arose; the waters of the heavens,
Bursting their everlasting boundaries,
Whelmed in one deluge earth and sea and sky,
And quench'd its orb of fire. The second Sun
Then had its birth, and ran its round of years;
Till, having reach'd its date, it fell from heaven,
And crush'd the race of men. Another life
The Gods assign'd to Nature: the third Sun
Form'd the celestial circle; then its flames
Burst forth, and overspread earth, sea, and sky,
Deluging the wide universe with fire,
Till all things were consum'd, and its own flames
Fed on itself, and spent themselves, and all
Was vacancy and darkness. Yet again
The World had being, and another Sun
Roll'd round the path of Heaven. That perish'd too:
The mighty Whirlwinds rose, and far away
Scattered its dying flames. The fifth was born;
The fifth to-day completes its destined course,
Perchance to rise no more. O Aztlan, fast
And pray! the Cycle of the Years is full!
XXVI. - 185
Thus through Patamba, did the ominous voice
Exhort the people. Fervent vows all day
Were made, with loud lament; in every fane,
In every dwelling-place of man, were prayers,
The supplications of the affrighted heart,
Earnestly offered up with tears and groans.
So pass'd the forenoon; and, when now the Sun
Sloped from his southern height the downward way
Of Heaven, again the ominous warner cried,
Woe! woe! the Cycle of the Years is full!
Quench every fire! extinguish every light!
And every fire was quenched, and every light
Extinguish'd, at the voice.
Meantime the Priests
Began the rites. They gashed themselves, and plunged
Into the sacred pond of Ezapan,
Till the clear water, on whose bed of sand
The sunbeams sparkled late, opake with blood,
On its black surface mirrored all things round.
The children of the temple, in long search,
Had gather'd for the service of this day
All venomous things that fly, or wind their path
With sinuous trail, or crawl on reptile feet.
These, in one cauldron, o'er the sacred fire
They scorch, till of the loathsome living tribes,
XXVI. - 186
Who, writhing in their burning agonies,
Fix on each other ill-directed wounds,
Ashes alone are left. In infants' blood
They mix the infernal unction, and the Priests
Anoint themselves therewith.
Lo! from the South
The Orb of Glory his regardless way
Holds on. Again Patamba's streets receive
The ominous voice, -- Woe! woe! the Sun pursues
His journey to the limits of his course!
Let every man in darkness veil his wife;
Veil every maiden's face; let every child
Be hid in darkness, there to weep and pray,
That they may see again the birth of light!
They heard, - and every husband veil'd his wife
In darkness; every maiden's face was veil'd;
The children were in darkness led to pray,
That they once more might see the birth of light.
Westward the sun proceeds; the tall tree casts
A longer shade; the night-ey'd insect tribes
Wake to their portion of the circling hours;
The water-fowl, retiring to the shore,
Sweep in long files the surface of the lake.
Then from Patamba to the sacred mount
XXVI. - 187
The Priests go forth; but not with songs of joy,
Nor cheerful instruments, they go, nor train
Of festive followers: silent and alone,
Leading one victim to his dreadful death,
They to the mountain-summit wend their way.
On the south shore, and level with the lake,
Patamba stood; westward were seen the walls
Of Aztlan, rising on a gentle slope;
Southward the plain extended far and wide;
To the east the mountain-boundary began,
And there the sacred mountain rear'd its head;
Above the neighboring heights, its lofty peak
Was visible far off. In the vale below,
Along the level borders of the lake,
The assembled Aztecas, with wistful eye,
Gaze on the sacred summit; hoping there
Soon to behold the fire of sacrifice
Arise, sure omen of continued light.
The Pabas to the sacred peak begin
Their way, and, as they go, with ancient songs
Hymn the departed Sun.
O Light of Life,
Yet once again arise! yet once again
Commence thy course of glory! Time hath seen
XXVI. - 188
Four generations of mankind destroyed,
When the four Suns expired: oh! let not thou,
Human thyself of yore, the human race
Languish, and die in darkness!
The fourth Sun
Had perished; for the mighty Whirlwinds rose,
And swept it, with the dust of the shatter'd world,
Into the great abyss. The eternal Gods
Built a new World, and to a Hero race
Assign'd it for their goodly dwelling-place;
And, shedding on the bones of the destroy'd
A quickening dew, from them, as from a seed,
Made a new race of humankind spring up,
The menials of the Heroes born of Heaven.
But in the firmament no orb of day
Perform'd its course; Nature was blind; the fount
Of light had ceas'd to flow; the eye of Heaven
Was quench'd in darkness. In the sad obscure,
The earth-possessors to their parent Gods
Prayed for another Sun, their bidding heard,
And, in obedience rais'd a flaming pile.
Hopeful they circled it, when from above
The voice of the Invisible proclaim'd,
That he, who bravely plunged amid the fire
Should live again in Heaven, and there shine forth
XXVI. - 189
The Sun of the young World. The Hero race
Grew pale, and from the fiery trial shrunk.
Thou, Nahuaztin, thou, O mortal born!
Heardest; thy heart was strong; the flames receiv'd
Their victim, and the humbled Heroes saw
The orient sky, with smiles of rosy joy,
Welcome the coming of the new-born God.
O, human once, now let not human-kind
Languish, and die in darkness!
In the East
Then didst thou pause to see the Hero race
Perish. In vain, with impious arms, they strove
Against thy will; in vain against thine orb
They shot their shafts; the arrows of their pride
Fell on themselves; they perish'd, to thy praise.
So perish still thine impious enemies,
O Lord of Day! But to the race devout,
Who offer up their morning sacrifice,
Honoring thy godhead, and with morning hymns,
And with the joy of music and of dance,
Welcome thy glad uprise, -- to them, O Sun,
Still let the fountain-streams of splendour flow!
Still smile on them propitious, thou whose smile
Is light and life and joyance! Once again,
Parent of Being, Prince of Glory, rise;
Begin thy course of beauty once again!
XXVI. - 190
Such was their ancient song, as up the height
Slowly they wound their way. The multitude
Beneath repeat the strain; with fearful eyes
They watch the spreading glories of the West!
And, when at length the hastening orb hath sunk
Below the plain, such sinking at the heart
They feel, as he who, hopeless of return,
From his dear home departs. Still on the light,
The last green light that lingers in the west,
Their looks are fasten'd, till the clouds of night
Roll on, and close in darkness the whole heaven.
Then ceas'd their songs; then o'er the crowded vale
No voice of man was heard. Silent and still
They stood, all turn'd toward the east, in hope
There on the holy mountain to behold
The sacred fire, and know that once again
The Sun begins his stated round of years.
The Moon arose; she shone upon the lake,
Which lay one smooth expanse of silver light;
She shone upon the hills and rocks, and cast
Upon their hollows and their hidden glens
A blacker depth of shade. Who then look'd round,
Beholding all that mighty multitude,
Felt yet severer awe, so solemnly still
The thronging thousands stood. The breeze was heard
XXVI. - 191
That rustled in the reeds; the little wave,
That rippled to the shore and left no foam,
Sent its low murmurs far.
Meantime the Priests
Have stretched their victim on the mountain-top:
A miserable man, his breast is bare,
Bare for the death that waits him; but no hand
May there inflict the blow of mercy. Pil'd
On his bare breast, the cedar boughs are laid;
On his bare breast, dry sedge and odorous gums
Laid ready to receive the sacred spark,
And blaze, to herald the ascending Sun,
Upon his living altar. Round the wretch
The inhuman ministers of rites accurst
Stand, and expect the signal when to strike
The seed of fire. Their Chief, Tezozomoc,
Apart from all, upon the pinnacle
Of that high mountain, eastward turns his eyes;
For now the hour draws nigh, and speedily
He looks to see the first faint dawn of day
Break through the orient sky.
The multitude await the happy sign.
Long hath the midnight past; and every hour,
Yea, every moment, to their torturing fears
XXVI. - 192
Seem'd lengthen'd out, insufferably long.
Silent they stood, and breathless in suspense.
The breeze had fallen; no stirring breath of wind
Rustled the reeds. Oppressive, motionless,
It was a labour and a pain to breathe
The close, hot, heavy air. -- Hark! from the woods
The howl of their wild tenants! and the birds, --
The day-birds, in blind darkness fluttering,
Fearful to rest, uttering portentous cries!
Anon, the sound of distant thunders came;
They peal beneath their feet. Earth shakes and yawns; --
And, lo! upon the sacred mountain's top,
The light, -- the mighty flame! A cataract
Of fire bursts upward from the mountain-head! --
High, -- high, -- it shoots! the liquid fire boils out;
It streams in torrents down! Tezozomoc
Beholds the judgment! wretched, -- wretched man,
On the upmost pinnacle he stands, and sees
The lava-floods beneath him; and his hour
Is come. The fiery shower, descending, heaps
Red ashes round; they fall like drifted snows,
And bury and consume the accursed Priest.
The Tempest is abroad. Fierce from the North
A wind uptears the lake, whose lowest depths
XXVI. - 193
Rock, while convulsions shake the solid earth.
Where is Patamba? where the multitudes
Who thronged her level shores? The mighty Lake
Hath burst its bounds, and yon wide valley roars,
A troubled sea, before the rolling storm.
[ 194 ]
Roll down the mountain-side in streams of fire;
Down to the lake they roll, and yet roll on,
All burning, through the waters. Heaven above
Glows round the burning mount, and fiery clouds
Scour through the black and starless firmament.
Far off, the Eagle, in her mountain-nest,
Lies watching in alarm, with steady eye,
The midnight radiance.
But the storm hath ceas'd;
The earth is still; and, lo! while yet the dawn
Is struggling through the eastern cloud, the barks
Of Madoc on the waters.
Who is he
On yonder crag, all dripping from the lake,
XXVII. - 195
Who hath escap'd its depths? He lies along,
Now near exhaust with self-preserving toil;
And still his eye dwells on the spreading waves,
Where late the multitudes of Aztlan stood,
Collected in their strength. It is the King
Of Aztlan, who, extended on the rock,
Looks vainly for his people. He beholds
The barks of Madoc plying to preserve
The strugglers; -- but how few! upon the crags
Which verge the northern shore, upon the heights
Eastward, how few have refuged! Then the King
Almost repented him of life preserv'd,
And wish'd the waves had whelm'd him, or the sword
Fallen on him, ere this ill, this wretchedness,
This desolation. Spirit-troubled thus,
He call'd to mind how from the first his heart
Inclin'd to peace, and how reluctantly,
Obedient to the Pabas and their Gods,
Had he to this unhappy war been driven.
All now was ended; it remain'd to yield,
To obey the inevitable will of heaven,
From Aztlan to depart. As thus he mus'd,
A bird, upon a bough which overhung
The rock, as though in echo to his thought,
Cried out, -- Depart! depart! for so the note,
XXVII. - 196
Articulately in his native tongue,
Spake to the Azteca. The King looked up;
The hour, the horrors round him, had impress'd
Feelings and fears well fitted to receive
All superstition; and the voice which cried,
Depart! depart! seem'd like the voice of fate.
He thought, perhaps Coanocotzin's soul,
Descending from his blissful halls in the hour
Of evil, thus to comfort and advise,
Hover'd above him.
Lo! toward the rock,
Oaring with feeble arms his difficult way,
A struggler hastens: he hath reach'd the rock,
Hath grasped it; but his strength, exhausted, fails
To lift him from the depth. The King descends
Timely in aid: he holds the feeble one
By his long locks, and on the safety-place
Lands him. He, panting, from his clotted hair
Shook the thick waters, from his forehead wiped
The blinding drops; on his preserver's face
Then look'd, and knew the King. Then Tlalala
Fell on his neck, and groan'd. They laid them down
In silence, for their hearts were full of woe.
The sun came forth; it shone upon the rock;
XXVII. - 197
They felt the kindly beams; their strengthen'd blood
Flowed with a freer action. They arose,
And looked around, if aught of hope might meet
Their prospect. On the lake the galleys plied
Their toil successfully, ever to the shore
Bearing their rescu'd charge: the eastern heights,
Rightward and leftward of the fiery mount,
Were throng'd with fugitives, whose growing crowds
Speckled the ascent. Then Tlalala took hope,
And his young heart, reviving, re-assum'd
Its wonted vigour. Let us to the heights
He cried; -- all is not lost, Yuhidthiton!
When they behold thy countenance, the sight
Will cheer them in their woe, and they will bless
The Gods of Aztlan.
To the heights they went;
And when the remnant of the people saw
Yuhidthiton preserv'd, such comfort then
They felt, as utter wretchedness can feel,
That only gives grief utterance, only speaks
In groans and recollections of the past.
He look'd around; a multitude was there, --
But where the strength of Aztlan? where her hosts?
Her marshall'd myriads where, whom yester Sun
Had seen in arms array'd, in spirit high,
XXVII. - 198
Mighty in youth and courage? -- What were these,
This remnant of the people? Women most,
Who from Patamba, when the shock began,
Ran with their infants; widow'd now, yet each
Among the few who from the lake escap'd,
Wandering, with eager eyes and wretched hope.
The King beheld, and groan'd; against a tree
He leaned, and bowed his head, subdued of soul.
Meantime, amid the crowd, doth Tlalala
Seek for his wife and boy. In vain he seeks
Ilanquel there; in vain for her he asks:
A troubled look, a melancholy eye,
A silent motion of the hopeless head,
These answer him. But Tlalala represt
His anguish, and he call'd upon the King, --
Yuhidthiton, thou seest thy people left;
Their fate must be determin'd; they are here
Houseless, and wanting food.
The King look'd up:
It is determined, Tlalala! the Gods
Have crush'd us. Who can stand against their wrath?
Have we not life and strength? the Tyger cried.
Disperse these women to the towns which stand
XXVII. - 199
Beyond the ruinous waters; against them
The White Men will not war. Ourselves are few,
Too few to root the invaders from our land,
Or meet them with the hope of equal fight;
Yet may we shelter in the woods, and share
The Lion's liberty; and man by man
Destroy them, till they shall not dare to walk
Beyond their city walls, to sow their fields,
Or bring the harvest in. We may steal forth
In the dark midnight, go and burn and kill,
Till all their dreams shall be of fire and death,
Their sleep be fear and misery.
Then the King
Stretch'd forth his hand, and pointed to the lake
Where Madoc's galleys still to those who clung
To the tree-tops for life, or faintly still
Were floating on the waters, gave their aid. --
Oh, think not, Tlalala, that, ever more
Will I against those noble enemies
Raise my right hand in war, lest righteous Heaven
Should blast the impious hand and thankless heart!
The Gods are leagued with them; the Elements
Banded against us! For our overthrow
Were yonder mountain-springs of fire ordain'd;
For our destruction the earth-thunders loos'd,
XXVII. - 200
And the everlasting boundaries of the lake
Gave way, that these destroying floods might roll
Over the brave of Aztlan! We must leave
The country which our fathers won in arms;
We must depart.
The word yet vibrated
Fresh on their hearing, when the Bird above,
Flapping his heavy wings, repeats the sound,
Depart! depart! -- Ye hear! the King exclaim'd;
It is an omen sent to me from Heaven;
I heard it late in solitude, the voice
Of Fate! --It is Coanocotzin's soul,
Who counsels our departure. And the Bird
Still flew around, and, in his wheeling flight,
Pronounced the articulate note. The people heard
In faith, and Tlalala made no reply;
But dark his brow, and gloomy was his frown.
Then spake the King, and call'd a messenger,
And bade him speed to Aztlan. -- Seek the Lord
Of Ocean; tell him that Yuhidthiton
Yields to the will of Heaven, and leaves the land
His fathers won in war. Only one boon,
In memory of our former friendship, ask,
The Ashes of my Fathers, -- if, indeed,
The conqueror have not cast them to the winds.
XXVII. - 201
The herald went his way, circuitous,
Along the mountains, -- for the flooded vale
Barr'd the near passage; but, before his feet
Could traverse half their track, the fugitives
Beheld canoes from Aztlan, to the foot
Of that protecting eminence, whereon
They had their stand, draw nigh. The doubtful sight
Disturb'd them, lest perchance with hostile strength
They came upon their weakness. Wrongful fear;
For now Cadwallon, from his bark, unarm'd,
Set foot ashore, and for Yuhidthiton
Inquired, if yet he lived. The King receives
His former friend. -- From Madoc come I here,
The Briton said: Raiment and food he sends,
And peace; so shall this visitation prove
A blessing, if it knit the bonds of peace,
And make us as one people!
Hearest thou him? Yuhidthiton exclaimed.
Do thou thy pleasure, King! the Tyger cried:
My path is plain. -- Thereat Yuhidthiton,
Answering, replied, Thus humbled, as thou seest,
Beneath the visitation of the Gods,
We bow before their will! To them we yield;
To you, their favorites, we resign the land
XXVII. - 202
Our fathers conquer'd. Never more may Fate,
In your days or your children's, to the end
Of Time, afflict it thus!
He said, and call'd
The Heralds of his pleasure. -- Go ye forth
Throughout the land: north, south, and east, and west,
Proclaim the ruin. Say to all who bear
The name of Azteca, Heaven hath crush'd
Their country: Say, the voice of Heaven was heard, --
Heard ye it not? -- bidding us leave the land,
Who shakes us from her bosom. Ye will find
Women, old men, and babes; the many, weak
Of body, and of spirit ill prepar'd,
With painful toil, through long and dangerous ways
To seek another country. Say to them,
The White Men will not lift the arm of power
Against the feeble; here they may remain
In peace, and to the grave in peace go down.
But they who would not have their children lose
The name their fathers bore, will join our march.
Ere ye set forth, behold the destin'd way.
He bade a pile be rais'd upon the top
Of that high eminence, to all the winds
Expos'd. They raised the pile, and left it free
XXVII. - 203
To all the winds of Heaven. Yuhidthiton
Alone approach'd it, and applied the torch.
The day was calm, and o'er the flaming pile
The wavy smoke hung lingering, like a mist
That in the morning tracks the valley-stream.
Swell over swell it rose, erect above,
On all sides spreading like a stately palm,
So moveless were the winds. Upward it roll'd,
Still upward, when a stream of upper air
Crossed it, and bent its top, and drove it on,
Straight over Aztlan. An acclaiming shout
Welcom'd the will of Heaven; for lo! the smoke
Fast travelling on, while not a breath of air
Is felt below. Ye see the appointed course!
Exclaim'd the King. Proclaim it where ye go!
On the third morning we begin our march.
Soon o'er the lake a winged galley sped,
Wafting the Ocean Prince. He bore, preserv'd
When Aztlan's bloody temples were cast down,
The Ashes of the Dead. The King receiv'd
The relics, and his heart was full; his eye
Dwelt on his father's urn. At length he said,
One more request, O Madoc! -- If the lake
Should ever to its ancient bounds return,
XXVII. - 204
Shrin'd in the highest of Patamba's towers
Coanocotzin rests. -- But wherefore this?
Thou wilt respect the ashes of the King.
Then said the Prince, Abide not here, O King,
Thus open to the changeful elements;
But, till the day of your departure come,
Sojourn with me. -- Madoc, that must not be!
Yuhidthiton replied. Shall I behold
A stranger dwelling in my father's house!
Shall I become a guest, where I was wont
To give the guest his welcome? -- He pursued,
After short pause of speech, -- For our old men,
And helpless babes, and women; for all those
Whom wisely fear and feebleness deter
To tempt strange paths, through swamp and wilderness
And hostile tribes, for these Yuhidthiton
Asks thy protection. Under thy mild sway,
They will remember me without regret,
Yet not without affection. -- They shall be
My people, Madoc answer'd. -- And the rites
Of holiness transmitted from their sires, --
Pursued the King, -- will these be suffered them? --
Blood must not flow, the Christian Prince replied;
No Priest must dwell among us; that hath been
The cause of all this misery. -- Enough,
XXVII. - 205
Yuhidthiton replied; I ask no more.
It is not for the conquer'd to impose
Their law upon the conqueror.
Then he turn'd,
And lifted up his voice, and called upon
The people: -- All whom fear or feebleness
Withhold from following my adventurous path,
Prince Madoc will receive. No blood must flow,
No Paba dwell among them. Take upon ye,
Ye who are weak of body or of heart,
The Strangers' easy yoke: beneath their sway
Ye will remember me without regret.
Soon take your choice, and speedily depart,
Lest ye impede the adventurers. As he spake,
Tears flowed, and groans were heard. The line was drawn,
Which whoso would accept the Strangers' yoke
Should pass. A multitude o'erpast the line;
But all the youth of Aztlan crowded round
Yuhidthiton, their own beloved King.
So two days long, with unremitting toil,
The barks of Britain to the adventurers
Bore due supply; and to new habitants
The city of the Cymry spread her gates;
And in the vale around, and on the heights,
XXVII. - 206
Their numerous tents were pitch'd. Meantime the tale
Of ruin went abroad, and how the Gods
Had driven her sons from Aztlan. To the King,
Companions of his venturous enterprize,
The bold repair'd; the timid and the weak,
All whom, averse from perilous wanderings,
A gentler nature had dispos'd to peace,
Beneath the Strangers' easy rule remain'd.
Now the third morning came. At break of day,
The mountain echoes to the busy sound
Of multitudes. Before the moving tribe,
The Pabas bear, enclos'd from public sight,
Mexitli; and the ashes of the Kings
Follow the Chair of God. Yuhidthiton
Then leads the marshall'd ranks, and by his side,
Silent and thoughtfully, went Tlalala.
At the north gate of Aztlan, Malinal,
Borne in a litter, waited their approach;
And now alighting, as the train drew nigh,
Propt by a friendly arm, with feeble step
Advanced to meet the King. Yuhidthiton,
With eye severe and darkening countenance,
Met his advance. I did not think, quoth he,
Thou wouldst have ventur'd this! and liefer far
XXVII. - 207
Should I have borne away with me the thought
That Malinal had shunn'd his brother's sight,
Because their common blood yet rais'd in him
A sense of his own shame! -- Comest thou to show
Those wounds, the marks of thine unnatural war
Against thy country? or to boast the meed.
Of thy dishonour, that thou tarriest here,
Sharing the bounty of the conqueror,
While with the remnant of his countrymen,
Saving the Gods of Aztlan and the name,
Thy brother and thy King goes forth to seek
Calm and low the youth replied,
Ill dost thou judge of me, Yuhidthiton!
And foully, O my brother, wrong the heart
Thou better should have known! Howbeit, I come
Prepar'd for grief. These honorable wounds
Were gain'd when, singly, at Caermadoc, I
Opposed the ruffian Hoamen; and even now,
Thus feeble as thou seest me, come I thence,
For this farewell. Brother, -- Yuhidthiton, --
By the true love which thou didst bear my youth,
Which ever, with a love as true, my heart
Hath answered, -- by the memory of that hour
XXVII. - 208
When at our mother's funeral pile we stood,
Go not away in wrath, but call to mind
What thou hast ever known me! Side by side
We fought against the Strangers, side by side
We fell; together in the counsel hall
We counsell'd peace, together in the field
Of the assembly pledged the word of peace.
When plots of secret slaughter were devis'd,
I rais'd my voice alone; alone I kept
My plighted faith; alone I prophesied
The judgment of just Heaven: for this I bore
Reproach and shame, and wrongful banishment,
In the action self-approved, and justified
By this unhappy issue!
As he spake,
Did natural feeling strive within the King,
And thoughts of other days, and brotherly love,
And inward consciousness, that had he, too
Stood forth, obedient to his better mind,
Nor weakly yielded to the wily priests,
Wilfully blind, perchance even now in peace
The kingdom of his fathers had preserv'd
Her name and empire. -- Malinal! he cried,
Thy brother's heart is sore: in better times
XXVII. - 209
I may with kindlier thoughts remember thee,
And honour thy true virtue. Now fare well!
So saying, to his heart he held the youth,
Then turn'd away. But then cried Tlalala,
Farewell, Yuhidthiton! the Tyger cried;
For I, too, will not leave my native land,
Thou who wert King of Aztlan! Go thy way;
And be it prosperous. Through the gate thou seest
Yon tree that overhangs my father's house;
My father lies beneath it. Call to mind
Sometimes that tree; for at its foot in peace
Shall Tlalala be laid, who will not live
Survivor of his country.
Thus he cried,
And through the gate, regardless of the King,
Turn'd to his native door. Yuhidthiton
Follow'd, and Madoc; but in vain their words
Essay'd to move the Tyger's steady heart;
When from the door a tottering boy came forth,
And clung around his knees with joyful cries,
And called him father. At the joyful sound,
Out ran Ilanquel; and the astonish'd man
Beheld his wife and boy, whom sure he deem'd
Whelm'd in the flood: but them the British barks,
XXVII. - 210
Returned homeward from their merciful quest,
Found floating on the waters. -- For a while,
Abandon'd by all desperate thoughts, he stood:
Soon he collected, and to Madoc turn'd,
And said, O Prince! this woman and her boy
I leave to thee. As thou hast ever found
In me a fearless, unrelenting foe,
Fighting with ceaseless zeal his. country's cause,
Respect them! -- Nay, Ilanquel! hast thou yet
To learn with what unshakable resolve
My soul maintains its purposes? I leave thee
To a brave foe's protection. -- Lay me, Madoc,
Here in my father's grave.
With that he took
His mantle off, and veiled Ilanquel's face; --
Woman, thou mayst not look upon the Sun,
Who sets to rise no more! -- That done, he placed
His javelin-hilt against the ground; the point
He fitted to his heart; and, holding firm
The shaft, fell forward, still with steady hand
Guiding the death-blow on.
So in the land
Madoc was left sole Lord; and far away
Yuhidthiton led forth the Aztecas,
To spread in other lands Mexitli's name,
XXVII. - 211
And rear a mightier empire, and set up
Again their foul idolatry; till Heaven,
Making blind Zeal and bloody Avarice
Its ministers of vengeance, sent among them
The heroic Spaniard's unrelenting sword.
[ 215 ]
Thus let their blood be shed. -- V. p. 5.This ceremony of declaring war with firse and water is represented, by De Bry, in the eleventh print of the description of Florida, by Le Mouyne de Morgues.
The Feast of the Departed. -- VI. p. 6.Lafitau. Charlevoix.
The Council Hall. -- VI. p. 6."The town house, in which are transacted all public business and diversions, is raised with wood and covered over with earth, and has all the appearance of a small mountain at a little distance. It is built in the form of a sugar loaf, and large enough to contain 500 persons, but extremely dark, having (besides the door, which is so narrow that bit one at a time can pass, and after much winding and turning) but one small aperture to let smoke out, which is so ill contrived that most of it settles in the roog of the house. Within
it has the appearance of an ancient amphitheater, the seats being raised one above another, leaving an area in the middle, in the centre of which stands the fire: the seats of the head warriors are nearest it." -- Memoirs of Lieut. Henry Timberlake, who accompanied the Cherokee Indians to England in 1762.
The Sarbacan. - VI. p. 7.The children, at eight or ten years old, are very expert at killing birds and smaller game with a sarbacan, or hollow cane, through which they blow a small dart, whose weakness obliges them to shoot at the eye of the larger sort of prey, which they seldom miss." -- Timberlake.
The pendent string of shells. -- VI. p. 7."The doors of their houses and chambers were full of diverse kindes of shells, hanging loose by small cordes, that being shaken by the wind they make a certaine ratteling, and also a whisteling noise, by gathering their wind in their hollowe places; for herein they have great delight, and impute this for a goodly ornament." -- Pietro Martire.
Still do your Shadows roam dissatisfied,
executed, they immediately get ease and power to fly away." -- Adair. "
"The answering voices heard from caves and hollow holes, which the Latines call Echo, they suppose to be the Soules wandering through those places." -- Pietro Martire. This superstition prevailed in Cumuna -- they believed the Echo to be the voice of the Soul, thus answering when it was called. -- Herrera, 3. 4. 11.
The word by which they express the funeral wailing in one of the Indian languages is very characteristic, -- Mauo; which bewailing, says Roger Williams, is very solemn amongst them; morning and evening, and sometimes in the night, they bewail their lost-husbands, wives, children, &c.; sometimes a quarter, half, yea, a whole year and longer, if it be for a great Prince.
The skull of some old Seer. -- VI. p. 8.On the coast of Paria, oracles were thus delivered. -- Torquemada, L. 6, c. 26.
Their happy souls
"Whilst I remained among them, a couple, whose tent was adjacent to mine, lost a son of about four years of age. The parents were so much affected at the death of their favorite child, that they pursued the usual testimonies of grief with such uncommon rigour, as through the weight of sorrow and loss of blood to occasion the death of the father. The woman,
who had hitherto been inconsolable, no sooner saw her husband expire than she dried up her tears, and appeared cheerful and resigned. As I knew not how to account for so extraordinary a transition, I took an opportunity to ask her the reason of it; telling her, at the same time, that I should have imagined the loss of her husband would rather have occasioned an increase of grief than such a sudden diminution of it.
"She informed me, that, as the child was so young when it died, and unable to support itself in the country of spirits, both she and her husband had been apprehensive that its situation would be far from being happy; but no sooner did she behold its father depart for the same place, who not only loved the child with the tenderest affection, but was a good hunter, and would be able to provide plentifully for its support, than she ceased to mourn. She added, that she now saw no reason to continue her tears, as the child, on whom she doted, was under the care and protection of a fond father; and she had only one wish that remained ungratified, which was that of being herself with them.
"Expression so replete with unaffected tenderness, and sentiments that would have done honor to a Roman matron, made an impression on my mind greatly in favour of the people to whom she belonged, and tended not a little to counteract the prejudices I had hitherto entertained, in common with every other traveller, of Indian insensibility and want of parental tenderness. Her subsequent conduct confirmed the favorable opinion I had just imbibed, and convinced me, that, notwithstanding the apparent suspension of her grief, some particles of that reluctance to be separated from a
beloved relation, which is implanted by nature or custom in every human heart, still lurked in hers. I observed that she went almost every evening to the foot of the tree, on a branch of which the bodies of her husband and child were laid, and, after cutting off a lock -of her hair and throwing it on the ground, in a plaintive melancholy song bemoaned its fate. A recapitulation of the actions he might have performed, had his life been spared, appeared to be her favorite theme; and, whilst she foretold the fame that would have attended an imitation of his father's virtues, her grief seemed to be suspended. 'If thou hadst continued with us, my dear son,' would she cry, 'how well would the bow have become thy hand, and how fatal would thy arrows have proved to the enemies of our bands! Thou wouldst often have drunk their blood, and eaten their flesh; and numerous slaves would have rewarded thy toils. With a nervous arm wouldst thou have seized the wounded buffalo, or have combated the fury of the enraged bear; thou wouldst have overtaken the flying elk, and have kept pace on the mountain's brow with the fleetest deer. What feats mightst thou not have performed, hadst thou staid among us till age had given thee strength, and thy father had instructed thee in every Indian accomplishment!' In terms like these did this untutored savage bewail the loss of her son; and frequently would she pass the greatest part of the night in the affectionate employ."
The spirit of that noble blood which ran
Among the last comers, one Avila, a cacique, had great authority, who, understanding that Valdivia affirmed the God of the Christians was the only Creator of all things, in a great rage cried out, lie would never allow Pillan, the God of the Chilenians, to be denied the power of creating. Valdivia inquired of him concerning this imaginary deity. Avila told him that his God did, after death, translate the chief men of the nation and soldiers of known bravery to places where there was dancing and drinking, there to live happy for ever; that the blood of noble men slain in battle was placed about the sun, and changed into red clouds, which sometimes adorn his rising." -- Hist. of Paraguay, &c., by F. A. del Techo.
O my people!
The Snake-Idol. -- VI. p. 15.Snake-worship was common in America. -- Bernal Diaz, pp. 3, 7, 125. The idol described VII. p. 25, somewhat resembles what the Spaniards found at Campeche, which is thus described by the oldest historian of the Discoveries: "Our men were conducted to a broade crosse-way standing on the side of the towne. Here they shew them a square stage or pulpit foure steppes high, partly of clammy bitumen. and
partly of small stones, whereto the image of a man cut in marble was joyned, two foure-footed unknown beastes fastening upon him, which, like madde dogges, seemed they would tear the marble man's guts out of his belly. And by the image stood a serpent, besmeared all with goare bloud, devouring a marble lion; which Serpent, compacted of bitumen and small stones incorporated together, was seven and fortie feet in length, and as thicke as a great oxe. Next unto it were three rafters, or stakes, fastened to the grounde, which three others crossed, underpropped with stones; in which place they punish malefactors condemned; for proof whereof they saw innumerable broken arrows, all bloudie, scattered on the grounde, and the bones of the dead cast into an inclosed courte neere unto it." -- Pietro Martire.
It can scarcely be necessary to say, that I have attributed to the Hoamen such manners and superstitions as, really existing among the savage tribes of America, were best suited to the plan of the poem.
-- piously a portion take
-- from his head
"Our guide called aloud to the fugitives, and entreated them to stay, but without effect: the old man, however, did not hesitate to approach us, and represented himself as too far advanced in life, and too indifferent about the short time he had to remain in the world, to be very anxious about escaping from any danger that threatened him. At the same time, he pulled the gray hairs from his head by handfuls to distribute among us, and implored our favor for himself and his relations.
"As we were ready to embark, our new recruit was desired to prepare himself for his departure, which he would have declined; but, as none of his friends would take his place, we may be said, after the delay of an hour, to have compelled him to embark. Previous to his departure, a ceremony took place, of which I could not learn the meaning. He cut off a lock of his hair; and, having divided it into three parts, he fastened one of them to the hair on the upper part of his wife's head, blowing on it three times with all the violence in his power, and uttering certain words. The other two he fastened with the same formalities on the heads of his two children." -- Mackenzie.
Forth from the dark recesses of the Cave
"An Indian belonging to the Menomonie, having taken a rattlesnake, found means to tame it, and, when he had done this, treated it as a Deity; calling it his great Father, and carrying it with him in a box wherever he went. This he
had done for several summers, when Mons. Pinnisance accidentally met with him at this carrying-place, just as he was setting off for a winter's hunt. The French gentleman was surprised one day to see the Indian place the box which contained his God on the ground, and, opening the door, give him his liberty; telling him, whilst he did it, to be sure and return by the time he himself should come back, which was to be in the month of May following. As this was but October, Monsieur told the Indian, whose simplicity astonished him, that he fancied he might wait long enough, when Maay arrived, for the arrival of his great Father. The Indian was so confident of his creature's obedience, that he offered to lay the Frenchman a wager of two gallons of rum, that, at the time appointed, he would come and crawl into his box. This was agreed on, and the second week in May following fixed for the determination of the wager. At that period they both met there again; when the Indian set down his box, and called for his great Father. The snake heard him not; and, the time being now expired, he acknowledged that he had lost. However, without seeming to be discouraged, he offered to double the bet if his Father came not within two days more. This was further agreed on; when, behold! on the second day, about one o'clock, the snake arrived, and of his own accord crawled into the box, which was placed ready for him. The French gentleman vouched for the truth of this story; and, from the accounts I have often received of the docility of those creatures, I see no reason to doubt its veracity." -- Carver's Travels.
We have not taken animals enough into alliance with us. In one of the most interesting families which it was ever my
good fortune to visit, I saw a child suckled by a goat. The gull should be taught to catch fish for us in the sea, the otter in fresh water. The more spiders there were in the stable, the less would the horses suffer from the flies. The great American fire-fly should be imported into Spain to catch mosquitoes. Snakes would make good mousers; but one favorite mouse should be kept to rid the house of cockroaches. The toad is an excellent fly-catcher; and, in hot countries, a reward should be offered to the man who could discover what insect feeds upon fleas; for, say the Spaniards, no ay criatura tan libre, a quien falta su Alguacil.
-- that huge King
God!' And when the water covered the highest mountains of the earth, it did not reach to Og's knees. Og lived three thousand years, and then God destroyed him by the hand of Moses: for, when the army of Moses covered a space of nine miles, Og came and looked at it, and reached out his hand to a mountain, and cut from it a stone so wide that it could have covered the whole army; and he put it upon his head, that he might throw it upon them. But God sent a lapwing, who made a hole through the stone with his bill, so that it slipt over his head, and hung round his neck like a necklace, and he was borne down to the ground by its weight. Then Moses ran to him (Moses was himself ten cubits in stature); and he took a spear ten cubits long, and threw it up ten cubits high, and yet it only reached the heel of Og, who was lying prostrate; and thus he slew him., And then came a great multitude with scythes, and cut off his head; and, when lie was dead, his body lay for a whole year, reaching as far as the river Nile in Egypt. His mother's name was Enac, one of the daughters of Adam; and she was the first harlot. Her fingers were two cubits long; and upon every finger she had two sharp nails, like two sickles. But, because she was a harlot, God sent against her lions as big as elephants, and wolves as big as camels, and eagles as big as asses, and they killed her and eat her.
When Og met the spies who were sent by Moses, he took them all twelve in his hand, and put them in his wallet, and carried them to his wife, and said to her,' Look, I beseech you, at these men who want to fight with us!' And he emptied them out before her, and asked her if he should tread upon them; but she said,' Let them go and tell their people what they have
seen.' When they were got out, they said to each other 'If we should tell these things to the children of Israel, they would forsake Moses; let us therefore relate what we have seen only to Moses and Aaron.' And they took with them one grape-stone from the grapes of that country, and it was as much as a camel could carry. And they began to advise the people that they should not go to war, saying what they had seen; but two of them -- namely, Caleb the son of Jepho, and Joshua the son of Nun - concealed it. -- Maracci.
Even if the grapes had not been proportioned to Og's capacious mouth, the rabbis would not have let him starve. There were behemoths for him to roast whole; and Bar-Chana saw a fish to which whales are but sprats, and Leviathan but a herring. "We saw a fish," says he, "into whose nostrils the worm called Tinna had got and killed it; and it was cast upon the shore with such force by the sea, that it overthrew sixty maritime cities: sixty other cities fed upon its flesh; and what they left was salted for the food of sixty cities more."
From one of the pupils of his eyes they filled thirty barrels of oil. A year or two afterwards, as we passed by the same place, we saw men cutting up his bones, with which the same cities were built up again." -- Maracci.
Arrows round whose heads dry tow was twined,
The Medes poisoned their arrows with a bituminous liquor
called naphtha, whereof there was great plenty in Media, Persia, and Assyria. The arrow, being steeped in it, and shot from a slack bow (for swift and violent motion took off from its virtue), burnt the flesh with such violence, that water rather increased than extinguished the malignant flame: dust alone could put a stop to it, and, in some degree, allay the unspeakable pain it occasioned." -- Universal History.
His hands transfixed
Mambruni, Constantinus, sive Idololatria, Debellata.
Not for your lots on earth,
When I was upon the Sierras of Guaturo, says. Oviedo, and had taken prisoner the Cacique of the Province who had rebelled, I asked him whose graves were those which were in a house of his; and he told me, of some Indians who had killed themselves when the Cacique his father died. But, because they often used to bury a quantity of wrought gold with them, I had two of the graves opened, and found in them a small quantity of maize, and a small instrument. When I inquired the reason of this, the cacique and his Indians replied, that they who were buried there were laborers, who had been well skilled in sowing corn and in gathering it in, and were his and his father's servants, who, that their souls might not die with their bodies, had slain themselves upon his father's death; and that maize with the tools was laid there with them that they might sow it in heaven. In reply to this, I bade them see how the Tuyra had deceived them, and that all he had told them was a lie; for, though they had long been dead, they had never fetched the maize, which was now rotten, and good for nothing, so that they had sown nothing in heaven. But the cacique answered, that was because they. found plenty there, and did not want it. -- Relacion sumaria de la Historia Natural de las lndias, por el Capitian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo.
The Tlascallans believed that the souls of chiefs and princes became clouds, or beautiful birds, or precious stones; whereas those of the common people would pass into beetles, rats, mice, weasels, and all vile and stinking animals. Torquemada, L. 6, c. 47.
Teilo, or Teliau, as he is called by David Williams, took an active part against the heresy of Pelagius, the great Welshman. "Such was the lustre of his zeal, that, by something like a pun on his name, he was compared to the sun, and called Helios,
and, when slain at the altar, devotees contended with so much virulence for the reputation of possessing his body, that the priests, to avoid scandalous divisions, found three miraculous bodies of the saint, as similar, according to the phrase used on the occasion, as one egg to another; and miracles were equally performed at the tombs of all the three." -- D. Williams's Hist. of Monmouthshire.
This Miracle is claimed by some Agiologists for St. Baldred, Confessour, "whose memory in ancient tymes hath byn very famous in the kingdome of Scotland. For that he having sometymes preached to the people of three villages neere adjoyning one to the other in Scotland, called Aldhalm, Tiningham: and Preston, was so holy a man of life, that, when he was dead, the people of each village contended one with another which of them should have his body; in so much, that, at last, they, not agreeing thereabout, took armes, and each of them sought by force to enjoy the same. And, when the matter came to issue, the said sacred body was found all whole in three distinct places of the house where he died; so as the people of each village coming thither, and carrying the same away, placed it in their churches, and kept it with great honour and veneration for the miracles that at each place it pleased God to worke." -- English Martyrologe.
The story may be as true of the one Saint as of the other, a solution in which Catholicks and Protestants will agree. Godwin (in Catal. Ep. Landao) says that the Churches which contended for the Welsh Saint, were Pennalum, he burial place of his family, Llandeilo Vaur, where he died, and Llandaff, where he had been Bishop; and he adds, in honour of his own church, that by frequent miracles at his
tomb it was certain Llandaff possessed the true body. -- Yet in such a case as this the fac-similie might have been not unreasonablt deemed more curious than the original.
The polypus's power of producing as many heads, legs, and arms as were wanted, has been possessed by all the great Saints. This miracle of triplification would have been more appropriate had it been worked upon some zealous Homoousian.
St. Teilo left his own country for a time because it was infested by an infectious disorder, called the Yellow Plague, which attacked both men and beasts. -- Capgrave, quoted in Cressy's Church History of Brittany
David. -- VIII. p. 35.Mongst Hatterill's lofty hills, that with the clouds are crown'd,
The valley Ewias lies, immur'd so deep and round,
As they below who see the mountains rise so high,
Might think the straggling herds were grazing in the sky;
Which in it such a shape of solitude doth bear,
As Nature at the first appointed it for prayer.
Where in an aged cell, with moss and ivy grown,
In which not to this day the Sun hath ever shone,
That reverend British Saint, in zealous ages past,
To contemplation lived; and did so truly fast,
As he did only drink what crystal Hodney yields,
And fed upon the leeks he gathered in the fields;
In memory of whom, in each revolving year,
The Welshman on his day that sacred herb do wear.
* * * * * * * *
Of all the holy men whose fame so fresh remains,
To whom the Britons built so many sumptuous fanes,
This Saint before the rest their patron still they hold,
Whose birth their ancient Bards to Cambria long foretold;
And seated here a see, his bishopric of yore,
Upon the farthest point of this unfruitful shore,
Selected by himself, that, far from all resort,
With contemplation seemed most fitly to comport;
That, void of all delight, cold, barren, bleak, and dry,
No pleasure might allure, nor steal the wandering eye.
"A.D. 462. It happened on a day, as Gildas was in a sermon (Reader, whether smiling or frowning, forgive the digression), a nunne big with child came into the congregation; whereat the preacher presently was struck dumb, (would not a maid's child amaze any man?) and could proceed no farther. Afterwards he gave this reason for his silence, because that virgin bare in her body an infant of such signal sanctity as far transcended him. Thus, as lesser loadstones are reported to lose their virtue in the presence of those that are bigger, so Gildas was silenced at the approach of the Welsh St. David (being then but Hanse in Kelder); though afterwards, like Zachary, he recovered his speech again." -- Fuller's Church History of Great Britain.
"David one day was preaching in an open field to the multitude, and could not be well seen because of the concourse (though they make him four cubits high, a man and a half in stature), when behold the earth whereon he stood, officiously heaving itself up, mounted him up to a competent
visibility above all his audience. Whereas our Saviour himself, when he taught the people, was pleased to choose a mountain, making use of the advantage of nature without improving his miraculous power." -- Fuller.
David is indebted to the romancers for his fame as a champion of Christendom: how he came by his leek is a question which the antiquarians have not determined. I am bound to make grateful mention of St. David, having in my younger days been benefited by his merits at Westminster, where the 1st of March is an early play.
But I too here upon this barbarous land,
-- for this the day,
God, after his journey. And I, says the Franciscan provincial, -- who, if he had been a philosopher, would perhaps have not written a book at all, or certainly not so interesting a one, -- I say that this is a great mistake; and the truth is, that they washed their own stripes, and filled them with liquor, which made them merry; and the fumes got up into their heads, and overset them with which fall it is not to be wondered at that they fell into such errors and foolishness.
It was thought that this God often visited the Mexicans; but, except on this occasion, he always came incognito. A stone seat was placed at every crossing, or division, of a street, called Momoztli or Ichialoca, where he is expected; and this was continually hung with fresh garlands and green boughs, that he might rest there. Torquemada, L. 6, c. 20.
Mexitli, woman-born. -- IX. p. 41.The history of Mexitli's birth is related in the Poem, Part 2. Sect. XXI. Though the Mexicans took their name from him, he is more usually called Huitzilupuchtli; or, corruptly, Vitzliputzli. In consequence of the vengeance which he exercised as soon as born, he was styled Tetzahuitl, Terror, and Tetzauhteotl, the Terrible God. -- Clavigero. Torquemada, L. 6, c. 21.
Quetzalcoatl. -- IX. p. 42.God of the Winds. His temple was circular; "for even as the ayre goeth rounde about the heavens, even for that consideration they made his temple round. The entrance of that temple had a dore made lyke unto the mouth of a serpent, and was paynted with foule and divilish gestures, with great
teeth and gummes wrought; which was a thing to feare those that should enter thereat, and especially the Christians, unto whom it represented very hell with that ougly face and monsterous teeth." -- Gomara.
Some history is blended with fable in the legend of Quetzalcoatl; for such is the uglyography of his name. He was chief of a band of strangers who landed at Panuco, coming from the North. Their dress was black, long, and loose, like the Turkish dress, or the cassock, says Torquemada, open before, without hood or cape; the sleeves full, but not reaching quite to the elbow: such dresses were, even in his time, used by the natives, in some of their dances, in memory of this event. Their leader was a white man, florid, and having a large beard. At first he settled in Tullan, but left that province in consequence of the vices of its lords, Huemac and Tezcalipoca, and removed to Cholullan. He taught the natives to cut the green stones called chalchihuites, which were so. highly valued, and to work silver and gold. Every thing flourished in his reign: the head of maize was a man's load, and the cotton grew of all colors. He had one palace of emeralds, another of silver, another of shells, one of all kinds of wood, one of turkoises, and one of feathers. His commands were proclaimed by a crier from the Sierra of Tzatzitepec, near the city of Tulla. and were heard as far as the sea-coast, and for more than a hundred leagues round. Fr. Bernardino de Sahagun heard such a voice once in the dead of the night, far exceeding the: power of any human voice. He was told that it was to summon the laborer to the maizes-fields; but both he and Torquemada believed it was the Devil's doing. Notwithstanding his power, Quetzalcoatl was driven
out by Tezcalipoca and Huemac. Before he departed, he burnt or buried all his treasures, converted the cocoa-trees into others of less worth, and sent off all the sweet singing-birds, who had before abounded, to go before him to Tlapallan, the Land of the Sun, whither he himself had been summoned. The Indians always thought he would return, and, when first they saw the Spanish ships, thought he was come in these moving temples. They worshipped him for the useful arts which he had taught, for the tranquillity they had enjoyed under his government, and because he never suffered blood to be shed in sacrifice, but ordered bread and flowers and incense to be offered up instead. -- Torquemada, L. 3, c. 7; L. 6, c. 24.
Some authors have supposed that these strangers came from Ireland, because they scarred their faces, and eat human flesh (this is no compliment to the Irish, and certainly does not accord with the legend); others, that they were Carthaginians, because New Spain was called Anahuace, and the Phoenicians were children of Anak. That the Carthaginians peopled America is the more likely, say they, because they bored their ears, and so did the Incas of Peru. One of these princes, in process of time," says Garcilasso, "being willing to enlarge the privileges of his people, gave them permission to bore their ears also, but not so wide as the Incas.
This much may legitimately be deduced from the legend, that New Spain, as well as Peru, was civilized by a foreign adventurer, who, it seems, attempted to destroy the sanguinary superstition of the country, but was himself driven out by the Priests.
Tlaloc. -- IX. p. 42.God of the Waters: he is mentioned more particularly in Section XII. Tlalocatecuhtli, the Lord of Paradise, as lie is also called, was the oldest of the country gods. His image was that of a man sitting on a square seat, with a vessel before him, in which a specimen of all the different grains and fruitseeds in the country was to be offered: it was a sort of pumicestone, and, according to tradition, had been found upon the mountains.' One of the kings of Tetzcuco ordered a better idol to be made, which was destroyed by lightning, and the original one, in consequence, replaced with fear and trembling. Ah one of the arms had been broken in removing, it was fastened with three large golden nails; but, in the time of the first Bishop Zumarraga, the golden nails were taken away, and the idol destroyed.
Tlaloc dwelt among the mountains, where he collected the vapours, and dispensed them in rain and dew. A number of inferior deities were under his command.
Tlalala. - IX. p. 42.Some of my readers will stumble at this name; but, to those who would accuse me of designing to Hottentotify the language by introducing one of the barbarous clacks, I must reply, that the sound is Grecian. The writers who have supposed that America was peopled from Plato's Island, observe that the tl, a combination so remarkably frequent in the Mexican tongue, has probably a reference to Atlantis and the Atlantic, Atl being the Mexican word for water, and Tlaloc the God of the waters. An argument quite worthy of the hypothesis. -- Fr. Gregorio Garcia. Origen de los Indios, Lib. 4, c. 8, sec. 2.
The quaintest opinion ever started upon this obscure subject is that of Fr. Pedro Simon, who argued that the Indians were of the tribe of Issachar, because he was "a strong ass in a pleasant land, who bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute." If the Hebrew word, which is rendered tribute, may mean taxes as well, I humbly submit it to consideration, whether Issachar doth not typify John Bull.
Tiger of the War. -- IX. p. 44.This was one of the four most honourable titles among the Mexicans: the others were, Shedder of Blood, Destroyer of Men, and Lord of the Dark House. Great Slayer of Men was also a title among the Natchez; but, to obtain this, it was necessary that the warrior should have made ten prisoners, or brought home twenty scalps.
The Chinese have certain soldiers whom they call Tygers of war. On their large round shields of basket-work are painted monstrous faces of some imaginary animal, intended to frighten the enemy. Barrow's Travels in China.
Whose conquered Gods lie idle in their chains,
-- peace-offerings of repentance, fill
Ten painful months,
The most painful penance to which any of these priests were subjected was that which the Chololtecas performed, every four years, in honor of Quetzalcoatl. All the priests sat round the walls in the temple, holding a censer in their hands. From this posture they were not permitted to move, except when they went out for the necessary calls of nature: two hours they might sleep at the beginning of the night, and one after sunrise; at midnight, they bathed, smeared themselves with a black unction, and pricked their ears to offer the blood. The twenty-one remaining hours they sat in the same posture, incensing the idol, and in that same posture took the little sleep permitted them: this continued sixty days. If any one
slept out of his time, his companions pricked him. The ceremony continued twenty days longer; but they were then permitted more rest. Torquemada, L. 10, c. 32.
Folly and madness have had as much to do as knavery in priestcraft. The knaves, in general, have made the fools their instruments; but they not unfrequently have suffered in their turn.
Coatlantona. -- X. p. 50.The mother of Mexitli, who, being a mortal woman, was made immortal for her son's sake, and appointed goddess of all herbs, flowers, and trees. Clavigero.
Mammuth. -- X. p. 54.Mr. Jefferson informs us, that a late governor of Virginia, having asked some delegates of the Delawares what they knew or had heard respecting this animal; the chief speaker immediately put himself into an oratorical attitude, and, with a pomp suited to the elevation of his subject, informed him, that it was a tradition handed down from their fathers, that in ancient times a herd of them came to the Big-bone-licks, and began an universal destruction of the bear, deer, elks, buffaloes, and other animals which had been created for the use of the Indians: that the Great Man above, looking down and seeing this, was so enraged, that he seized his lightning, descended to the earth, and seated himself upon a neighbouring mountain of rock, on which his seat and the print of his feet are still to be seen, and hurled his bolts among them till the whole were slaughtered, except the Big Bull, who, presenting his forehead to the shafts, shook them off as
they fell; but at length, missing one, it wounded him on the side, whereon, springing round, he bounded over the Ohio, the Wabash, the Illinois, and, finally, over the great lakes, where he is living at this day.
Colonel G. Morgan, in a note to Mr. Moore, says, "these bones are found only at the Salt Licks in Ohio; some few scattered grinders have, indeed, been found in other places; but it has bee supposed these have been brought from the above mentioned deposit, by Indian warriors and others who have passed it, as we know many have been spread in this manner. When I first visited the salt licks," says the Colonel, "in 1766, I met here a large party of the Iroquois and Wyandot Indians, who were then on a war expedition against the Chicasaw tribe. The head chief was a very old man to be engaged in war; he told me he was eighty-four years old; he was probably as much as eighty. I fixed on this venerable Chief, as a person from whom some knowledge might be obtained. After making some acceptable presents of tobacco, paint, ammunition, &c. and complimenting him on the wisdom of his nation, their prowess in war, and prudence in peace, I intimated my ignorance respecting the great bones before us, which nothing but his superior knowledge could remove, and accordingly requested him to inform me what he knew concerning them. Agreeably to the customs of his nation he informed me in substance as follows:
"Whilst I was yet a boy, I passed this road several times to war against the Catawbas; and the wise old chiefs, among whom was my grandfather, then gave me the tradition, handed down to us respecting these bones, the like to which are found in no other part of the country; it is as follows: After
the Great Spirit first formed the world, he made the various birds and beasts which now inhabit it. He also made man; but having formed him white, and very imperfect and ill-tempered, he placed him on one side of it, where he now inhabits, and from whence he has lately found a passage across the great water, to be a plague to us. As the Great Spirit was not pleased with this his work, he took of black clay, and made what you call a negro, with a woolly head. This black man was much better than the white man; but still he did not answer the wish of the Great Spirit: that is, he was imperfect. At last the Great Spirit having procured a piece of pure, fine red clay, formed from it the red man, perfectly to his mind; and he was so well pleased with him, that he placed him on this great island, separate from the white and black man, and gave him rules for his conduct, promising happiness in proportion as they should observed. He increased exceedingly, and was perfectly happy for ages; but the foolish young people, at length forgetting his rules, became exceedingly ill-tempered and wicked. In consequence of this, the Great Spirit created the great buffalo, the bones of which you now see before us; these made war upon the human species alone, and destroyed all but a few, who repented, and promised the Great Spirit to live according to his laws, if he would restrain the devouring enemy: whereupon he sent lightning and thunder, and destroyed the whole race, in this spot, two excepted, a male and female, which he shut up in yonder mountain, ready to let loose again should occasion require."
The following tradition, existing among the natives, we give in the very terms of a Shawanee Indian, to shew that the
impression made on their minds by it must have been forcible. "Ten thousand moons ago, when nought but gloomy forests covered this land of the sleeping sun, long before the pale men, with thunder and fire at their command, rushed on the wings of the wind to ruin this garden of nature; when nought but the untamed wanderers of the woods, and men as unrestrained as they, were the lords of the soil; a race of animals were in being, huge as the frowning precipice, cruel as the bloody panther, swift as the descending eagle, and terrible as the angel of night. The pines crashed beneath their feet, and the lake shrunk when they slaked their thirst; the forceful javelin in vain was hurled, and the barbed arrow fell harmless from their side. Forests were laid waste at a meal; the groans of expiring animals were every where heard; and whole villages inhabited by men were destroyed in a moment. The cry of universal distress extended even to the region of peace in the west, and the Good Spirit interposed to save the unhappy. The forked lightnings gleamed all around, and loudest thunder rocked the globe. The bolts of heaven were hurled upon the cruel destroyers alone, and the mountains echoed with the bellowings of death. All were killed except one male, the fiercest of the race, and him even the artillery of the skies assailed in vain. He ascended the bluest summit which shades the source of the Monongahela, and, roaring aloud, bid defiance to every vengeance. The red lightning scorched the lofty firs, and rived the knotty oaks, but only glanced upon the enraged monster. At length, maddened with fury, he leaped over the waves of the west at a bound, and this moment reigns the uncontrolled monarch of the wilderness, in despite of even Omnipotence itself." -- Winterbotham.
The tradition probably is Indian, but certainly not the bombast.
In your youth
There is a more remarkable tale of kindred barbarity in Irish history. The royal family had been all cut off, except one girl; and the wise men of the country fed her upon children's flesh to make her the sooner marriageable. I have not the book to refer to, and cannot therefore give the names; but the story is in Keating's history.
The spreading radii of the mystic wheel. -- X. p. 56.This dance is described from Clavigero; from whom also the account of their musical instruments is taken.
On the top
of April. The high forests ring with the noise, like the crowing of the domestic cock, of these social sentinels, the watchword being caught and repeated, from one to another, for hundreds of miles around; insomuch that the whole country is, for an hour or more, in an universal shout. A little after sun-rise, their crowing gradually ceases; they quit their high lodging places, and alight on the earth; where, expanding their silver-bordered train, they strut and dance round about the coy female, while the deep forests seem to tremble with their shrill noise." -- Bartram.
His cowl was white. -- XII. p. 67."They wore large garments like surplices, which were white, and had hoods such as the canons wearl; their hair long and matted, so that it could not be parted, and now full of fresh blood from their ears, which they had that day sacrificed; and their nails very long." -- B. Diaz.
Such is the description of the Mexican priests by one who had seen them.
Tlalocan. -- XII. p. 69.The Paradise of Tlaloc.
"They distinguished three places for the souls when separated from the body: Those of soldiers who died in battle or in captivity among their enemies, and those of women who died in labor, went to the House of the Sun, whom they considered as the Prince of Glory, where they led a life of endless delight; where, every day, at the first appearance of the sun's rays, they hailed his birth with rejoicings; and with dancing, and the music of instruments and of voices, attended him to his meridian: there they met the souls of the women, and with the same festivity accompanied him to his setting.
They next supposed, that these spirits, after four years of that glorious life, went to animate clouds, and birds of beautiful feathers and of sweet song, but always at liberty to rise again to heaven, or to descend upon the earth to warble, and suck the flowers. .. The souls of those that were drowned, or struck by lightning, of those who died of dropsy, tumors, wounds, and other such diseases, went along with the souls of children, at least of those which were sacrificed to Tlaloc, the God of Water, to a cool and delightful place called Tlalocan, where that god resided, and where. they were to enjoy the most delicious repasts, with every other kind of pleasure. - Lastly, the third place allotted to the souls of those who suffered any other kind of death was Mictlan, or Hell, which they conceived to be a place of utter darkness, in which reigned a god called Mictlanteuctli, Lord of Hell, and a goddess named Miclancihuatl. I am of opinion that they believed hell to be a place in the centre of the earth; but they did not imagine that the souls underwent any other punishment there than what they suffered by the darkness of their abode. Siguenza thought the Mexicans placed hell in the northern part of the earth, as the word Mictlampa signifies towards both." -- Clavigero.
When any person whose manner of death entitled him to a place in Tlalocan was buried (for they were never burnt), a rod or bough was laid in the grave with him,. that it might bud out again and flourish in that paradise. -- Torquemada, L. 13, c. 48.
The souls of all the children who had been offered to Tlaloc were believed to be present at all after-sacrifices, under the care of a large and beautiful serpent called Xiuhcoatl. -- Torquemada, L. 8, c. 14.
Green islets foat along. -- XII. p. 700.Artificial islands are common in China as well as in Mexico.
"The Chinese fishermen, having no houses on shore nor stationary abode, but moving about in their vessels upon the extensive lakes and rivers, have no inducement to cultivate patches of ground, which the pursuits of their profession plant their onions on rafts of bamboo, well interwoven with reeds and long grass, and covered with earth; and these floating gardens are towed after their boats." -- Barrow's China.
To Tlaloc it was hallow'd; and the stone
in a cavern, and left to die with hunger. The cavern was not opened again till the next year's sacrifice. .. The third continued. during the three rainy months, during all which time children were offered up on the mountains. These also were bought; the heart and blood were given in sacrifice; the bodies were feasted on by the chiefs and priests." Torquemada, L. 7, c. 21.
"In the country of the Mistecas was a cave sacred to the water god. Its entrance was concealed; for, though this idol was generally reverenced, this his temple was known to few. It was necessary to crawl the length of a musquet-shot; and then the way, sometimes open and sometimes narrow, extended for a mile before it reached the great dome, a place seventy feet long and forty wide, where were the idol and the altar. The idol was a rude column of stalactites, or incrustations, formed by a spring of petrifying water; and other fantastic figures had thus grown around it. The ways of the cave were so intricate, that sometimes those who had unwarily bewildered themselves there perished. The friar who discovered this idol destroyed it, and filled up the entrance." -- Padilla, p. 643.
The Temple Serpents. -- XIV. p. 82."The head of a sacrificed person was strung up; the limbs eaten at the feast; the body given to the wild beasts which' were kept within the temple circuits. Moreover, in that accursed house they kept vipers and venomous snakes, who had something at their tails which sounded like morris-bells; and they are the worst of all vipers. These were kept, in cradles and barrels and earthen vessels, upon feathers; and there they
laid their eggs, and nursed up their snakelings; and they were fed with the bodies of the sacrificed, and with dogs' flesh. We learnt for certain, that, after they had driven us from Mexico, and slain above eight hundred and fifty of our soldiers and of the men of Narvaez, these beasts and snakes, who had been offered to their cruel idol to be in his company, were supported upon their flesh for many days. When these lions and tigers roared, and the jackals and foxes howled, and the snakes hissed, it was a grim thing to hear them; and it seemed like hell." -- Bernal Diaz.
He had been confin'd
"All having been chosen by Nasser for Emir,-or general of his army, against Makan, being one day before this prince, whose orders he was receiving, made a convulsive motion with his whole body on feeling an acute bite. Nasser perceived it not. After receiving his orders, the Emir returned home, and, taking off his clothes to examine the bite, found the scorpion that had bitten him. Nasser, learning this adventure, when next he saw the Emir. reproved him for having sustained the evil without complaining at the moment, that it might have been remedied. 'How, sir,' replied the Emir, 'should I be capable of braving the arrow's point, and the
sabre's edge, at the head of your armies, and far from you, if in your presence I could not bear the bite of a scorpion!'"
Rank in war, among savages, can only be procured by superior skill or strength.
Y desade ninez al egercicio
los apremian por fuerza y incitan,
y en el belico extudio y duro oficio
entrado en mas edad las egercitan;
si alguno de flaqueza da un indicio
del uso militar lo inhabilitan,
y el que sale en las armas senalado
conforme a su valor le dan el grado.
Los cargos de la guerra y preeminencia
no son por flacos medios proveidos,
ni van por calidad, ni por herencia,
ni por hacienda, y ser mejor nacidos;
mas la virtud del brazo y la excelencia,
esta hace los hombres perferidos,
esta ilustra, habilita, perficiona,
y quilata el valor de la persona. Araucana, I.
From the slaughter'd brother of their King
sound of them to affright their enemies; for their opinion was, that, when the kindred of the slain heard the sound of these drums, they would immediately be seized with fear, and put to flight. Garcilaso de la Vega.
"In the Palazzo Caprea, at Bologna, are several Turkish bucklers lined with human skin, dressed like leather: they told us it was that of the backs of Christian prisoners taken in battle; and the Turks esteem a buckler lined with it to be a particular security against the impression of an arrow or the stroke of a sabre." -- Lady Miller's Letters from Italy.
Should thine arm
Often had he seen
Fra the gret battaill held hys way,
With a great rout off Walis men;
Quahareuir thai yeid men mycht them ken,
For thai wele ner all nakyt war,
Or lynnyn clayths had but mar.
The Bruce, B. 13, p. 147.
And with the sound of sdnorous instruments,
alto estruenudo, alaridos desdeniosos,
salen los fieros barbaros sangrientos
contra los Espalioles valerosos. Araucana, C. 4.
"James Reid, who had acted as piper to a rebel regiment in the Rebellion, suffered death at York, on Nov. 15, 1746, as a rebel. On his trial, it was alleged in his defence, that he had not carried arms. But the court observed, that a Highland regiment never marched without a piper; and therefore his bagpipe, in the eye of the law, was an instrument of war." -- Walker's Irish Bards.
The construction was too much in the spirit of military law. Esop's trumpeter should not have served as a precedent. Croxall's fables have been made of much practical consequence: this poor piper was hung for not remembering one, and Gilbert Wakefield imprisoned for quoting another.
A line of ample measure still retained
At nonus pugnie Helmnod successit, et ipse
Incertum triplici gestabat fune tridentem,
Quem post terga quidem stantes socii tenuerunt;
Consiliumque fuit, dum cuspes missa sederet
In clypeo, cuncti pariter traxisse studerent,
Ut vel sic hominem dejecissent furibundum,
Atque sub hac certum sibi spe posuere triumphum.
Nec mora; Dux, totes fundens in brachia vires,
Misit in adversum magna cum voce triclentem,
Et dicens, finis ferro tibi, calve, sub isto.
Qui, ventos penetrans, jaculorum more coruscat;
Quod genus aspidis, ex alta sese arbore, tanto
Turbine demittit, quo cuncta obstantia vincat.
Quid moror? umbonem scindit, peltaque resultat.
Clamorem Franci tollunt, saltusque resultant.
Obnixique trahunt restim simul atque vicissim;
Nec dubitat princeps tali se aptare labori;
Manarunt cunctis sudoris flumina membris:
Sed tamen hic intra velut esculus astitit heros,
Qui non plus petit astra comis, quam tartara fibris,
Contemnens omnes ventorum, immota, fragores.
in; Gallias, ac de Rebus Gestis Waltharii
Aqitanorum Preicipis. Carmen epicum.
This weapon, which is described by Suidas, Eustatius, and Agathias, was called Augo, and was a barbed trident. If it entered the body, it could not be extracted without certain death; and, if it only pierced the shield, the shield became unmanageable, and the enemy was left exposed.
The Cataia, which Virgil mentions as a Teutonic weapon, was also retractile. This was a club of about a yard long, with a heavy end worked into four sharp points. To the thin end, or handle, a cord was fixed, which enabled a person, well trained, to throw it with great force and exactness, and then, by a jerk, to bring it back to his hand, either to renew his throw, or to use it in close combat. This weapon was called Cat and Catai. -- Cambrian, Register.
The Irish horsemen were attended by servants on foot, commonly called Deltini, armed only with darts or javelins, to which thongs of leather were fastened, wherewith to draw them back after they were cast. Sir James Ware's Antiquities of Ireland.
Paynalton. -- XV. p. 97.When this name was pronounced, it was equivalent to a proclamation for rising in mass. Torquemada, L. 6, c. 22.
The House of Arms. -- XV. p. 97.The name of this Arsenal is a tolerable specimen of Mexican sesquipedalianism: Tlacochcalcoatlyacapan. Torquemada, L. 8, c. 13.
Cortes consumed all the weapons of the arsenal in the infamous execution of Qualpopoca and his companions. -- Herrera, 2, 8. 9.
The ablution of the Stone of Sacrifice. -- XV. p. 98.An old priest of the Tlatelucas, when they were at war with the Mexicans, advised them to drink the holy beverage before they went to battle: this was made by washing the Stone of Sacrifice. The king drank first, and then all his Chiefs and soldiers in order: it made them eager and impatient for the fight. Torquemada, L. 2, c. 58.
To physic soldiers before a campaign seems an odd way of raising their courage; yet this was done by one of the fiercest American tribes.
"When the warriors among the Natchez had assembled in sufficient numbers for their expedition, the medicine of war was prepared in the chief's cabin. This was an emetic, composed of a root boiled in water. The warriors, sometimes to the number of three hundred, seated themselves round the kettles or caldrons. About a gallon was served to each. The ceremony was to swallow it at one draught, and then discharge it again with such loud eructations and efforts as might be heard at a great distance." -- Heriot's History of Canada.
Odd as this method of administering medicine may appear, some tribes have a still more extraordinary mode of dispensing it.
"As I was informed there was to be a physic-dance at night, curiosity led me to the town-house to see the preparation. A vessel of their own make, that might contain twenty gallons (there being a great many to take the medicine), was set on the fire, round which stood several gourds filled with river-water, which was poured into the pot. This done, there arose one of the beloved women, who, opening a deer-skin
filled with various roots and herbs, took out a small handful of something like fine salt, part of which she threw on the head man's seat, and part on the fire close to the pot; she then took out the wing of a swan, and, after flourishing it over the pot, stood fixed for near a minute, muttering something to herself; then taking a shrub like laurel, which I supposed was the physic, she threw it into the pot, and returned to her seat. As no more ceremony seemed to be going on, I took a walk till the Indians assembled to take it. At my return, I found the house quite full. They danced near an hour round the pot, till one of them, with a small gourd that might hold about a gill, took some of the physic, and drank it; after which, all the rest took in turn. One of their head men presented me with some, and, in a manner, compelled me to drink, though I would willingly have declined. It was, however, much more palatable than I expected, having a strong taste of sassafras. The Indian who presented it told me it was taken to wash away their sins; so that this is a spiritual medicine, and might be ranked among their religious ceremonies. They are very solicitous about its success: the conjurer, for several mornings before it is drank, makes a dreadful howling, yelling, and hollowing, from the top of the town-house, to frighten away apparitions and evil spirits." -- Timberlake.
-- two fire-flies gave
"In Hispaniola and the rest of the Ocean Islands, there are plashy and marshy places, very fitt for the feeding of
heardes of cattel. Gnattes of diverse kindes, ingendered of that moyste heate, greviously afflict the colonies seated on the brinke thereof, and that not only in the night, as in other countries: therefore the inhabitants build low houses, and make little doores therein, scarce able to receive the master, and without holes, that the gnats may have no entrance. And for that cause also, they forebeare to light torches or candels, for the gnatts by natural instinct follow the light; yet neverthelesse they often finde a way in. Nature hath given that pestilent mischiefe, and hath also given a remedy; as she hath given us cattes to destroy the filthy progeny of mise, so hath she given them pretty and commodious hunters which they call Cucuij. These be harmless winged worms, somewhat lesse than battes or reere mise, I should rather call them a kinde of beetles, because they have other wings after the same order under their hard winged sheath, which they close within the sheath when they leave flying. To this living creature (as we see flyes shine by night, and certaine sluggish worms lying in thick hedges) provident nature hath given some very cleere looking glasses: two in the seate of the eyes, and two lying hid in the flank, under the sheath, which he then sheweth, when, after the manner of the beetle, unsheathing his thin wings, he taketh his flight into the ayre; whereupon every Cucuius bringeth foure lights or candels with him. But how they are a remedy for so great a mischiefe, as is the stinging of these gnatts, which in some places are little less than bees, it is a pleasant thing to hear. He, who either understandeth he hath those troublesome guestes (the gnattes) at home, or feareth least they may get in, dilligently hunteth after the Cucuij, which he deceiveth by this means and industry
which necessity (effecting wonders) hath sought out: whoso wanteth Cucuij, goeth out of the house in the first twilight of the night, carrying a burning fire-brande in his hande, and ascendeth the next hillock, that the Cucuij may see it, and hee swinging the fire-brande about, calling Cucuius aloud, and beateth the ayre with often calling and crying out Cucuie, Cucuie. Many simple people suppose that the Cucuij, delighted with the noise, come flying and flocking together to the bellowing sound of him that calleth them, for they come with a speedy and headlong course: but I rather thinke the Cucuij make haste to the brightness of the fire-brande, because swarmes of gnatts fly unto every light, which Cucuij eate in the very ayre, as the martlets and swallowes doe. Behold the desired number of Cucuij, at what time the hunter casteth the fire-brande out of his hand. Some Cucuius sometimes followeth the fire-brande, and lighteth on the grounde; then is he easily taken, as travellers may take a beetle if they have need thereof, walking with his wings shutt. Others denie that the Cucuij are woont to bee taken after this manner, but say, that the hunters especially have boughs full of leaves ready prepared, or broad linnen cloathes wherewith they smite the Cucuius flying about on high, and strike him to the ground, where he lyeth as it were astonished, and suffereth himself to bee taken; or as they say, following the fall of the fly, they take the preye, by casting the same bushie bough, or linnen cloath upon him: howsoever it bee, the hunter havinge the hunting Cucuij, returneth home, and shutting the doore of the house, letteth the preye goe. The Cucuij loosed, swiftly flyeth about the whole house seeking gnattes, under their hanging bedds, and about
the faces of those that sleepe, whiche the gnatts use to assayle; they seem to execute the office of watchman, that such as are shut in may quietly rest. Another pleasant and profitable commodity proceedeth from the Cucuij. As many eyes as every Cucuius openeth, the hoste enjoyeth the light of so many candels: so that the Inhabitants spinne, swew, weave, and dance by the light of the flying Cucuij. The Inhabitants thinke that the Cucuius is delighted with the harmony and welody of their singing, and that hee also exerciseth his motion in the ayre according to the action of their dancing; but hee, by reason of the divers circuit of the gnatts, of necessity swiftly flyeth about divers wayes to seek his food. Our men also reade and write by that light, which always continueth untill he have gotten enough whereby he may be well and fedd. The gnats being cleansed, or driven out of doores, the Cucuius beginning to famish, the light beginneth to faile; therefore when they see his light to waxe dim, opening the little doore, they set him at linertie, that he may seeke his foode.
"In sport and merriment, or to the intent to terrifie such as are afrayd of every shadow, they say that many wanton fellowes sometimes rubbed their faces by night with the fleshe of a Cucuius, being killed, with the purpose to meet their neighbours with a flaming countenance, as with us sometimes wanton young men, putting a gaping toothed vissard over their face, endeavour to terrifie children, or women, who are easily frighted: for the face being anointed with the lump or fleshy part of the Cucuius, shineth like a flame of fire; yet in a short space that fiery virtue waxeth feeble and is extinguished, seeing it is a certayne bright humour received in a thin substance. There is also another wonderful commodity proceeding
from the Cucuius: the Islanders appoynted by our menn, goe with their good will by night, with two Cucuij tied to the great toes of their feet; for the travailer goeth better by direction of these lights, than if he brought so many candels with him as their open eyes; he also carryeth another in his hand to seek the Utia by night, a certain kind of cony, a little exceeding a mouse in bignesse and bulke of bodie: which four-footed beast they onely knowe before our coming thither, and did eate the same. They also go a fishing by the light of the Cucuij." -- Pietro Martire.
Bells of gold
A white plume
Floated on the tempestuous stream of fight,
Shewed where he swept the field.
[Rocks that meet in battle.] -- XIX. p. 138.Clavigero. Torquemada, L. 13, c. 47. The fighting mountains of the Mexicans are less absurd than the moving rocks of the Greeks, as they are placed, not in this world, but in the road to the next.
"L. Martio et Sex. Julio consulibus, in agro Mutinensi duo montes inter se concurrerunt, crepitu maxirno assultantes et recedentes, et inter eos fiammn fumoque exeunte. Quo concursu villa omnes elisen sunt; animalia permulta qume intra fuerant, exanimata sunt." -- J. Ravisii Textoris Offcina, f. 210.
A fiery mountain is a bad neighbor; but a quarrelsome one must be infinitely worse, and a dancing one would not be much better. It is a happy thing for us, who live among the mountains, that they are now-a-days very peaceable, and have left off "skipping like rams."
Funeral and Coronation. -- XIX. pp. 139, 142.Clavigero. Torquemada.
This coronation oath resembles in absurdity the language of the Chinese, who, in speaking of a propitious event occurring, either in their own or any other country, generally attribute it to the joint will of Heaven and the Emperor of China." Barrow.
I once heard a Methodist street-preacher exhort his auditors to praise God as the first cause of all good things, and the king as the second.
Let the guilty tremble! it shall flow
"A chief of Dsjedda," says Neibuhr, "informed me that two hundred ducats had been stolen from him, and wanted me to discover the thief. I excused myself, saying that I left that sublime science to the Mahommedan sages; and very soon afterwards a celebrated sheik showed, indeed, that he knew more: than I did. He placed all the servants in a row, made a long prayer, then put into the mouth of each a bit of paper, and ordered them all to swallow it, after having assured them that it would not harm the innocent, but that the punishment of Heaven would fall on the guilty; after which, he examined the mouth of every one; and one of them, who had not swallowed the paper, confessed that he had stolen the money."
A similar anecdote occurs in the old legend of Pierre Faifeu.
Comment la Dame de une grosse Maison ou il hautoit, perdit ung Dyamant eu so maison, qu'il luy fist subtillement recouvere. Chap. 22. p. 58.
Eut ung ennuy, le quel pour vray fut tel,
Car elle avoit en sa main gauche ou dextre
Ung Dyamant, que l'on renommoit de estre
Or, pour soubdain vous advertir du cas,
Ou en dormant, ou en faisant la veille,
Du doy luy cheut, dont cres font s'esmerveille,
Qu'el ne le treuve est son cueur tres mary,
Et n'ose aussi le dire a son mary;
Mais a Faifeu allee est s'en complaindre,
Qui respondit, sans grandement la plaindre,
Que bien failloit que Seigneur le sceust,
Et qu'elle luy dist ains qu'i; s'en appweceust.
En ce faisant le vaillant Pierre Maistre
La recouvere luy est alle promettre,
Ce moyennant qu'il eust cinquante escuz,
Qu'elle luy promist, sans en faire refuz,
Pareillement qu'auchun de la maison
L'eust point trouve, il en rendoit raison.
Leurs propos tins, s'en alla seure et ferme
La dicte Dame, et au Seigneur afferme
Du Dyamant le susdict interest,
Dont il ne fas grant conte ou arrest,
Ce nonobstant que fust le don de nopces,
Qu'avoit donne 'par sur autres negoces;
Car courroucer sa femme assez en veoit
L'avoit perdu, mais grand dueil en avoit:
Or toutes fois a Faifeu it ordonne
Faire son vucil, et puissance il luy donne
A son plaisir faire ainsi qu'il entend.
Incontinent Faifeu fist tout content
Tost assembler serviteurs et servantes,
Grans et petitz, et les portes-fermantes,
Ou de grand peur chascun d'culz avoit part.
Quant il cust fait appella Sicur et Dame,
Desquelz ame estoit de corps et ame,
Et devant eulx au servans fist sermon
Du Dyamant, leur disant; nous chermon,
Et scavons bien par l'art de nicromance
Celuy qui le a et tout en evidance
Feignoit chermer la chambre en tous endroitz,
Se pourmenant devant boytteu ou droitz.
Il apperceut parmy une verriere,
Emmy la court, ung garsonnet arricre,
Qui n'estoit point o les autres venu,
Dont vous orrez qu'il eu est advenu.
Ce nonobstant qu'il y en eust grant nombre,
Cinquante ou plus, soubdain faignit soube umbre
De deviner, que tout n'y estoit point.
Les serviteurs ne congnoissans le point
Dirent que nul ne restoit de la bende
Fors le berger; donc, dist-il, qu'on le mande,
Bien le scavoys et autres choses scay,
Qu'il vienne tost, et vous verrez l'essay.
Quant fut venu, demande une arballeste
Que bender fist o grant peine et moleste,
Car forte estoit des meilleures qui soient.
Les assistens tresfort s'estabyscient
Que faire il veult, cas dessus il fait mettre
Ung font raillon, puis ainsi la remettre
Dessus la table, et couchee a travers
Tout droit tendue, et atournee envers,
Tout ce cas fait, comme resolu et stable,
Dist a la Dame, et aussi au Seigneur,
Que nul d'eulx ne heut tant fiance en son heur,
De demander la bague dessus dicte,
Par nul brart ou cautelle maudicte;
Car il convient, sans faire nul destour,
Que chascun d'eulx posse et face son tour
Devant le trect, arc, arballeste, ou flesches,
Sans que le cueur d'aucun se plye ou flesche;
Et puis apres les servans passeront,
Mais bien croyer que ne repasseront,
Ceulx ou celuy qui la baque retiennent,
Mais estre mortz tous asseurez se tiennent.
Son dit finy, chascun y a passe,
Sans que nul fust ne blece ne casse;
Mais quant ce fut a cil qui a la baque,
A ce ne veult user de mine ou braque,
Car pour s'excuser ne sceut est vaincquer;
Mais tout souddain son espirit se tendit
Cryer mercy, et la baque rendit,
Et effermant qu'il eu l'avoit robee,
Mais sans Faifeu eust este absorbee.
Auquel on quis s'il estoit bien certain
Du larronneau, mais jura que incertain
Il en estoit, et sans science telle
Qu'on estimoit, avoit quis la cantelle
Espoventer par subtille Lecon
Ceulx qui la bague avoient, en la facon
Tel se dit bon, qui meschant on approuve.
I remember an anecdote of John Henderson, which is characteristic of that remarkable man. The maid-servant, one evening, at a house where he was visiting, begged that she might be excused from bringing in the tea; for he was a conjurer, she said. When this was told him, he desired the mistress would insist upon her coming in: this was done. He fixed his eye upon her, and, after she had left the room, said, take care of her; she is not honest. It was soon found that he had rightly understood the cause of her alarm.
Their Sports. -- XXI. p. 149.These are described from Clavigero, who gives a print of: the Fliers: the tradition of the banner is from the same author; the legend of Mexitli, from Torquemada, L. 6, c. 21.
Then the temples fell,
One of our nation lost the Maid he loved. -- XXII. p. 158.There was a young man in despair for the death of his sister, whom he loved with extreme affection. The idea of the departed recurred to him incessantly. He resolved to seek her in the Land of Souls, and flattered himself with the hope of bringing her back with him. His voyage was long and laborious; but he surmounted all the obstacles, and overcame every difficulty. At length he found a solitary old man, or rather genius, who, having questioned him concerning his enterprise, encouraged him to pursue it, and taught him the means of success. He gave him a little empty calabash to contain the soul of his sister, and promised on his return to give him the brain, which he had in his possession; being placed there, by virtue of his office, to keep the brains of the dead. The young man profited by his instructions, finished his course successfully, and arrived in the Land of Souls, the inhabitants of which were much astonished to see him, and fled at his presence. Tharonhiaouagon received him well, and protected him by his counsel from the old woman his grandmother, who, under the appearance of a feigned regard, wished to destroy him by making him eat the flesh of serpents and vipers, which were to her delicacies. The Souls being assembled to dance, as was their custom, he recognized that of his sister. Tharonhiaouagon assisted him to take it by surprise, without which help he never would have succeeded; for, when he advanced to seize it, it vanished like a dream of the night, and left him as confounded as was Aeneas when he attempted to embrace the shade of his father Anchises. Nevertheless he took it, confined it; and in spite of the attempts and stratagems of this captive soul, which sought but to deliver
itself from its prison, he brought it back the same road by which he came to his own village. I know not if he recollected to take the brain, or judged it unnecessary; but, as soon as he arrived, he dug up the body. and prepared it according to the instructions lie had received, to render it fit for the reception of the soul, which was to re-animate it. Every thing was ready for this resurrection, when the impertinent curiosity of one of those who were present prevented its success. The captive soul, finding itself free, fled away, and the whole journey was rendered useless. The young man derived no other advantage than that of having been at the Land of Souls, and the power of giving certain tidings of it, which were transmitted to posterity. -- Lifitau sur les moeurs de Sauvages Ameriquains, Tom. i. p. 401.
"One, I remember, affirmed to me that himself had been dead four days; that most of his friends in that time were gathered together to his funeral; and that he should have been buried, but that some of his relations at a great distance, who were sent for upon that occasion, were not arrived; before whose coming he came to life again. In this time, he says, he went to the place where the sun rises (imagining the earth to be a plain), and directly over that place, at a great height in the air, he was admitted, he says, into a great house, which he supposes was several miles in length, and saw many wonderful things, too tedious as well as ridiculous to mention. Another person, a woman, whom I have not seen, but been credibly informed of by the Indians, declares she was dead several days; that her soul went southward, and feasted and danced with the happy spirits; and that she found all things exactly agreeable to the Indian notions of a future state." -- Brainerd.
-- that cheerful one, who knoweth all
A good old Protestant missionary mentions another of the American singing-birds very technically.
"Of black birds there be millions, which are great devourers of the Indian corn as soon as it appears out of the ground. Unto this sort of birds, especially, may the mystical fowls, the Divells, be well resembled (and so it pleaseth the Lord Jesus himself to observe. Matt. xiii.); which mystical fowl follow the sowing of the word, pick it up from loose and careless hearers, as these blackbirds follow the material seed. Against these they are very careful, both to set their corn deep enough, that it may have a strong root, not so apt to be pluckt up, as also they put up little watch-houses in the middle of their fields, in which they or their biggest children lodge." -- Roger Williams.
But of all the songsters in America who warble their wood-notes wild, the frogs are the most extraordinary.
"Prepared as I was," says a traveller, "to hear something extraordinary from these animals, I confess the first frog concert I herd in America was so much beyond any thing I could conceive of the powers of these musicians, that I was truly astonished. This performance was al fresco, and took place on the 18th (April) instant, in a large swamp, where there were at least ten thousand performers, and, I really believe, not two exactly in the same pitch, if the octave can possibly admit of so many divisions, or shakes of semitones. An Hibernian musician, who, like myself, was present for the first time at this concert of anti-music, exclaimed, 'By Jesus, but they stop out of tune to a nicety!'
"I have been since informed by an amateur who resided many years in this country, and made this species of music his peculiar study, that on these occasions the treble is performed by the Tree-Frogs, the smallest and most beautiful species: they are always of the same color as the bark of the tree they inhabit, and their note is not unlike the chirp of a cricket., The next in size are our countertenors: they have a; note resembling the setting of a saw. A still larger species sing tenor; and the under part is supported by the bull-frogs, which are as large as a man's foot, and bellow out the bass in A tone as loud and sonorous as that of the animal from which they take: their name." -- Travels in America, by W. Priest, Musician.
"I have often thought," says this lively traveller, "if an enthusiastic cockney of weak nerves, who had never been out of the sound of Bow Bell, could suddenly be conveyed from his bed ii the middle of the night, and laid fast asleep
in an Americain swamp, he would, on waking, fancy himself in the infernal regions. His first sensations would be from the stings of a myriad of mosquitoes; waking with the smart, his ears would be assailed with the horrid noises of the frogs; on lifting up his eyes, he would have a faint view of the nighthawks, flapping their ominous wings over his devoted head, visible only from the glimmering light of the fire-flies, which he would naturally conclude were sparks from the bottomless pit. Nothing would be wanting at this moment to complete the illusion but one of those dreadful explosions of thunder and lightning so extravagantly described by Lee in Oedipus. "Call you these peals of thunder but the yawn of bellowing clouds? By Jove, they seem to me the world's last groans, and those large sheets of flame its last blaze!'"
In sink and swell
-- the old, in talk
"And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
"But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud with joy:
"So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off." -- Ezra, iii. 10-13.
For Aztlan comes in anger, and her Gods
The Circle of the Years is full. -- XXVI. p. 183.Torquemada, L. 10, c. 33. The tradition of the Five Suns is related by Clavigero; the origin of the present by the same author, and by Torquemada, L. 6, c. 42: the whole of the ceremonies is accurately stated.
Depart! depart!" for so the note,
be thought, must be, that the fact itself is historically true: by means of this omen, the Aztecas were induced to quit their country, after a series of calamities. The leader who had address enough to influence them was Huitziton, a name which I have altered to Yuhidthiton for the sake of euphony. The note of the bird is expressed in Spanish and Italian thus, tihui: the cry of the peewit cannot be better expressed. Torquemada, L. 2, c. 1. Clavigero.
The Chair of God. -- XXVII. p. 206.Mexitli, they said, appeared to them during their emigration, and ordered them to carry him before them in a chair: Teoycpalli it was called. Torquemada, L. 2, c. 1.
The hideous figures of their idols are easily accounted for by the historian of the Dominicans in Mexico.
"As often as the Devil appeared to the Iexicans, they made immediately an idol of the figure in which they had seen him; sometimes as a lion, other times as a dog, other times as a serpent; and, as the ambitious Devil took advantage of this weakness, he assumed a new form every time to gain a new image in which he might be worshipped.. The natural timidity of the Indians aided the design of the Devil; and he appeared to them in horrible and affrighting figures, that he might have them the more submissive to his will: for this reason it is that the idols which we still see in Mexico, placed in the corners of the streets as spoils of the gospel, are so deformed and ugly." -- Augustin Davila Padilla.
To spread in other lands Mexitli's name. -- XXVII. p. 210.It will scarcely be believed that the resemblance between
Mexico and Messiah should have been adduced as a proof that America was peopled by the Ten Tribes. Fr. Estavan de Salazar discovered this wise argument, which is noticed in Gregorio Garciat's very credulous and very learned work on the Origin of the Indians, L. 3, c. 7, sec. 2.