« PreviousContinue »
Yet once it shone, and veterans, when they show
Our fields of battle twenty years ago,
Will tell you feats his small brigade performed,
In charges nobly faced and trenches stormed.
Time was, when songs were chanted to his fame,
And soldiers loved the march that bore his name;
The zeal of martial hearts was at his call,
And that Helvetian, UDOLPH's, most of all.
'Twas touching, when the storm of war blew wild,
To see a blooming boy,-almost a child,-
Spur fearless at his leader's words and signs,
Brave death in reconnoitring hostile lines,
And speed each task, and tell each message clear,
In scenes where war-train'd men were stunn'd with fear.”
Theodric, is Udolph's leader, and, in his praise, all the letters of Udolph to his parents are eloquent. The extra
vagant hyperboles of youthful style, by which this correspondence was characterized,
A wond'ring sister's well-believing breast ;
She caught th' illusion, blest THEODRIC'S name,
And wildly magnified his worth and fame;
Rejoicing life's reality contain'd
One, heretofore, her fancy had but feign'd,
Whose love could make her proud; and time and chance
To passion rais'd that day-dream of Romance."
"Once, when with hasty charge of horse and man,
Our arrière-guard had check'd the Gallic van."
Theodric visiting the outpost, finds his younger brother in arms, weltering on the ground, and succours him; and Udolph is soon enabled to write home,
"Of pains assuaged, and symptoms auguring well."
Vigorous and healed, the stripling resumed his barb and banner, until "the third campaign had manlier bronzed his brow," when the temporary peace "a curtain drop between the acts of death," occasioned the breaking up of the camp,
"And UDOLPH left his chief
As with a son's or younger brother's grief;
But journeying home, how rapt his spirits rose!
How light his footsteps crush'd St. Gothard's snows!
How dear seem'd ev'n the waste and wild Shreckhorn,
Though wrapt in clouds, and frowning as in scorn
Upon a downward world of pastoral charms;
Where, by the very smell of dairy-farms,
And fragrance from the mountain-herbage blown,
Blindfold his native hills he could have known!"
He displays "the picture of his friend in warlike dress," e which he intended to adorn their gayest room. Julia guess who it was :
"Yes,' she replied, 'twas he methought in sleep,
When you were wounded, told me not to weep.'
"Meanwhile THEODRIC, who had years before
Learnt England's tongue, and lov'd her classic lore,
A glad enthusiast now explor'd the land,
Where Nature, Freedom, Art, smile hand in hand:
Her women fair; her men robust for toil;
Her vigorous souls, high-cultured as her soil;
Her towns, where civic independence flings
The gauntlet down to senates, courts, and kings;
Her works of art resembling magic's powers!
Her mighty fleets, and learning's beauteous bowers,-
These he had visited, with wonder's smile,
And scarce endur'd to quit so fair an isle.
But how our fates from unmomentous things
May rise, like rivers out of little springs!
A trivial chance postpon'd his parting day,
And public tidings caus'd, in that delay,
An English jubilee. 'Twas a glorious sight;
At eve, stupendous London, clad in light,
Pour'd out triumphant multitudes to gaze;
Youth, age, wealth, penury, smiling in the blaze;
Th' illumin'd atmosphere was warm and bland,
And Beauty's groupes, the fairest of the land;
Conspicuous, as in some wide festive room,
In open chariots pass'd with pearl and plume.
Amidst them he remark'd a lovelier mien
Than e'er his thoughts had shap'd, or eyes had seen;
The throng detain'd her till he rein'd his steed,
And, ere the beauty pass'd, had time to read
The motto and the arms her carriage bore,
Led by that clue, he left not England's shore
Till he had known her: and, to know her well,
Prolong'd, exalted, bound, enchantment's spell;
For with affections warm, intense, refin'd,
She mix'd such calm and holy strength of mind,
That, like Heav'n's image in the smiling brook,
Celestial peace was pictur'd in her look.
Hers was the brow, in trials unperplex'd,
That cheer'd the sad, and tranquillized the vex'd;
She studied not the meanest to eclipse,
And yet the wisest listen'd to her lips;
She sang not, knew not Music's magic skill,
But yet her voice had tones that sway'd the will.
He sought-he won her-and resolv'd to make
His future home in England for her sake."
Matters of concern recalled him "to Cæsar's court a season's space," and he is welcomed by the Helvetian family, in which so great an interest had been excited on his account. They will not hear him speak of speedy parting, and he promises to abide with them for one month:
"As, blithe he trode the mountain-sward as they,
And felt his joy make ev'n the young more gay.
How jocund was their breakfast-parlour fann'd
By yon blue water's breath,—their walks how bland!
Fair JULIA seem'd her brother's soften'd sprite-
A gem reflecting Nature's purest light,—
And with her graceful wit there was inwrought
A wildly sweet unworldliness of thought,
That almost child-like to his kindness drew,
And twin with UDOLPH in his friendship grew.
But did his thoughts to love one moment range ?
No! he who had lov'd CONSTANCE could not change!
Besides, till grief betray'd her undesign'd,
Th' unlikely thought could scarcely reach his mind,
eyes so young on years like his should beam
Unwoo'd devotion back for
"True she sang to his very soul, and brought
Those trains before him of luxuriant thought,
Which only Music's Heav'n-born art can bring,
To sweep across the mind with angel wing.
Once, as he smil'd amidst that waking trance,
She paus'd o'ercome: he thought it might be chance,
And, when his first suspicions dimly stole,
Rebuk'd them back like phantoms from his soul.
But when he saw his caution gave her pain,
And kindness brought suspense's rack again,
Faith, honour, friendship, bound him to unmask
Truths which her timid fondness fear'd to ask.
"And yet with gracefully ingenious power
Her spirit met th' explanatory hour;-
Ev'n conscious beauty brighten'd in her eyes,
That told she knew their love no vulgar prize;
And pride, like that of one more woman-grown,
Enlarg❜d her mien, enrich'd her voice's tone.
"Twas then she struck the keys, and music made
That mock'd all skill her hand had e'er display'd:
Inspir'd and warbling, rapt from things around,
She look'd the very Muse of magic sound,
Painting in sound the forms of joy and woe,
Until the mind's eye saw them melt and glow.
Her closing strain compos'd and calm she play'd,
And sang no words to give its pathos aid ;
But grief seem'd lingering in its lengthen'd swell,
And like so many tears the trickling touches fell.
Of CONSTANCE then she heard THEODRIC speak,
And steadfast smoothness still possess'd her cheek;
But when he told her how he oft had plann'd
Of old a journey to their mountain-land,
That might have brought him hither years before,
'Ah! then,' she cried, you knew not England's shore;
And, had you come,-and wherefore did you not?"
'Yes,' he replied, it would have chang'd our lot!'
Then burst her tears thro' pride's restraining bands,
And, with her handkerchief, and both her hands,
She hid her face and wept.-Contrition stung
THEODRIC, for the tears his words had wrung.
'But no,' she cried, 'unsay not what you've said,
Nor grudge one prop on which my pride is stay'd:
To think I could have merited your faith,
Shall be my solace even unto death!'
'JULIA,' THEODRIC said, with purpos'd look
Of firmness, my reply deserv'd rebuke:
But, by your pure and sacred peace of mind,
And by the dignity of womankind,
Swear that, when I am gone, you'll do your best
To chase this dream of fondness from your breast.'
"Th' abrupt appeal electrified her thought; -
She look'd to Heav'n, as if its aid she sought,
Dried hastily the tear-drops from her cheek,
And signified the vow she could not speak.”
He communes with her mother on the subject. She had warned her child from the first, but found it hard to chide an overgrateful mind." However, she confesses, that in her child's illusion, Theodric had been blameless.
At night he parted with the aged pair;
At early morn rose JULIA to prepare
The last repast her hands for him should make;
And UDOLPH to convoy him o'er the lake.
The parting was to her such bitter grief,
That of her own accord she made it brief;
But, ling'ring at her window, long survey'd
His boat's last glimpses melting into shade."
Theodric "achieved his journey's object" at Austria, and was much relieved by Udolph's letters, assuring him that Julia had borne his loss resignedly. He took the Rhenish route to England, and solemnized his marriage with Constance. Constance is a being calculated to make the mind feel
"That mighty truth-how happy are the good."
But her kindred were not so good as herself:
"Save one congenial sister, they were all
Such foils to her bright intellect and grace,
As if she had engross'd the virtue of her race.
Her nature strove th' unnatural feuds to heal,
Her wisdom made the weak to her appeal;
And though the wounds she cured were soon unclosed,
Unwearied still her kindness interposed.
"Oft on those errands though she went, in vain,
And home, a blank without her, gave him pain,
He bore her absence for its pious end.-
But public grief his spirit came to bend;
For war laid waste his native land once more,
And German honour bled at ev'ry pore.
Oh! were he there, he thought, to rally back
One broken band, or perish in the wrack!"
Constance is too noble to seek to << move or melt his pur-
pose."-She is willing to share all hazards with him-but
In England he conjured her to remain,
And she expressed assent, although her heart
In secret had resolved they should not part."
Here the narrative becomes unintelligible. There is an indication of a "little fault, a fraud of love's romance, a plan's concealment ;"-but of the fault, the fraud, or the plan, we confess we can form no distinct idea. But it seems, instead of staying at home with him till he departed for his voyage, she makes
Again to kindred, worthless of her care,
And left him in his hc e a lonely man."
He is in consequence "damped in thoughts, and muses on the past," and thinks of Udolph, and indulges in misgivings. "Least looked for then of human kind, his Udolph, with mournful joy, that morn surprised his sight." He is charged with the worst tidings.—Julia is dying, and
"All for which she now, poor sufferer sighs,
Is once to see Theodric ere she dies."
Their converse is broken in upon abruptly by "visitants, to Constance near akin," who come to inform him "that Constance will a fortnight yet remain."
"Vex'd by their tidings, and the haughty view
They cast on UDOLPH as the youth withdrew,
THEODRIC blamed his CONSTANCE's intent.
The demons went, and left him as they went,
To read, when they were gone beyond recall,
A note from her lov'd hand, explaining all.