Abbildungen der Seite


LXXV. So much for nature:- by way of variety,

Their column, though the Turkish balleries thunderd Now back to thy great joys, civilization!

Upon them, ne'ertheless bad reachd the rampari, And the sweet consequence of large society,

And naturally thought they could have pluoder d War, pestilence, the despot's desolation,

The city, without being further hamperd; The kingly scourge, the lust of motoriety,

But, as it happens to brave men, they bluuder'dThe millions slain by soldiers for their ration, The Turks at first pretended to have scamper d The scenes like Catharine's boudoir at three-score, Only to draw them '.wixt (wo bastion corners, With Ismail's storm to soften it the more.

From whence they sallied on those Christian scorners. LXIX.

LXXVI, The town was enter'd : first one column made

Theu being taken by the tail-a taking Its sanguinary way good-then another;

Fatal to bishops as to soldiers-these
The recking bayonet and the flashing blade

Cossacks were all cut off as day was breaking,
Claslid gainst the scimitar, and babe and mother And found their lives were let at a short lease-
With distant shrieks were heard heaven to upbraid ; But perishid without shivering or shaking,
Still closer sulphury clouds began to smother

Leaving as ladders their heap'd carcasses,
The breath of morn and man, where, foot by foot, O'er which Lieutenant-Colonei Yesouskoi
The maddeu'd Turks their city still dispute.

March'd with the brave battalion of Polouzki

Koulousow, he who afterwards beat back

This valiant man kill'd all the Turks he met, (With some assistance from the frost and snow) But could not eat them, being in his turn Napoleon on his bold and bloody track,

Slain by some Mussulmans, who would pot yet, It happen'd was himself beat back just now.

Without resistance, see their city burn. He was a jolly fellow, and could crack

The walls were won, but I was an even bet His jest alike in face of friend or foe,

Which of the armies would have cause to mourn Though life, and death, and victory were at stake "T was blow for blow, disputing inch by inch, But liere il second his jokes had ceased to take. For one would not retreat, nor t' other flinch. LXXI.

LSSVIII. For, having thrown himself into a ditch,

Another column also suffer'd much: Follow'd in haste by various grenadiers,

And here we may remark with the historian, Whose blood the puddle greatly did enrich,

You should but give few cartridges to such He climb'd to where the parapet appears;

Troops as are meant to march with greatest glory op: But there his project reach'd its utmost pitch

When matters must be carried by the touch ('Mongst other deaths the General Ribaupierre's Of the bright bayonet, and they all should hurry ca, Was much regretted)--for the Moslem men

They sometimes, with a hapkering for existence,
Threw them all down into the ditch again :

Keep merely firing at a foolish distance.

And, had it not been for some stray troops, landing A junction of the General Meknop's men

They knew not where, - being carried by the stream (Without the General, who had fallen some time
To some spot, wliere they lost their understanding, Before, being badly seconded just then)
And wanderd

and down as in a dream,

Was made at length, with those who dared, to climb
Until they reachi'd as day-break w.1s expanding, The death-disgorging rampart once again;
That which a portal to their eyes did seem,-

And, though the Turk's resistance was sublime, The great and gay Koutousow might have lain

They took the bastion, which the Seraskier
Where three parts of his column yet remain.

Defended at a price extremely dear.

And, scrambling round the rampart, these same troops, Juan and Johnson, and some volunteers,
After the taking of the « cavalier,»

Among the foremost, offer'd him good quarter,
Just as Koulousow's most« forloru» of hopes»

word which little suits with Seraskiers, Took, like cameleons, some slight linge of fear, Or at least suited not this valiant Tartar.Open'd the gate call'd « hilia» to the


Ile died, deserving well his country's tears, Of baffled heroes who stood shyly pear,

A savage sort of military martyr. Sliding knee-deep in lately-frozen mud,

In Englisle naval officer, who wish'd
Now thawd into a marslı of liuman blood.

To make loin prisover, was also dish'd.

The Couaks, or if so you please, Cossacks-

For all the answer to his proposition (I don't much pique myself upon orthography, Was from a pistol-shot that laid him dead; So that I do not grossly ere in facts,

On which the rest, without more intermission, Statistics, tactics, politics, and ycography)

Began to lay about with steel and lead, Hlaving been used to serve on horses' backs,

The pious metals most in requisition Aud no great dilettanti in topography

On such occasions: not a single head Of fortresses, but fighting where it pleases

Was spared, --three thousand Moslems perish'd liere. Their chicfs 10 order, -- were all cut to pieces.

And sixteen bayonets pierced the Seraskier.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The city's taken-only part by part-

And death is drunk with gore: there's not a street Where fights not to the last some desperate heart

For those for whom it soon shall cease to beat. llere War forgot his own destructive art

In more destroying nature; and the heat
Of carnage, like the Nile's sun-sodden slime,
Engender'd monstrous shapes of every crime.

A Russian officer, in martial tread

Over a heap of bodies, felt his heel
Seized fast, as if 't were by the Serpent's head,

Whose fangs Eve taught her human seed to feel. In vain he kick'd, and swore, and writhed, and bled,

And howld for help as wolves do for a meal-
The teeth still kept their gratifying hold,
As do the subtle snakes described of old.

A dying Moslem, who had felt the foot

Of a foe o'er him, snatch'd at it, and bit
The very tendon which is most acute-

(That which some ancient muse or modern wit Named after thee, Achilles) and quite through 't

He made the teeth meet; nor relinquish'd it Even with his life-for (but they lie) 't is said To the live leg still clung the sever'd head.

However this may be, 't is pretty sure

The Russian officer for life was lamed,
For the Turk's teeth stuck faster than a skewer,

And left him 'midst the invalid and maim'd:
The regimental surgeou could not cure

His patient, and perhaps was to be blamed
More than the head of the inveterate foe,
Which was cut off, and scarce even then let go.

But then the fact 's a fact-and 't is the part

Of a true poet to escape from fiction
Whene'er he can; for there is little art

In leaving verse more free from the restriction
Of truth than prose, unless to suit the mart

For what is sometimes call'd poetic diction,
And that outrageous appetite for lies
Which Satan angles with for souls like flies.

The city's taken, but not render'd !-No!

There's not a Moslem that hath yielded sword: The blood may gush out, as the Danube's tlow

Rolls by the city wall; but deed nor word Acknowledge aught of dread of death or foe:

In vain the yell of victory is roar'd By the advancing Muscovite—the groan of the last foe is echoed by his own.

The bayonet pierces and the sabre cleaves,

And human lives are lavish'd every where,
As the year closing whirls the scarlet leaves

When the stripp'd forest bows to the bleak air, And groans; and thus the peopled city grieves,

Sborn of its best and loveliest, and left bare; But still it falls with vast and awful splioters, As oaks blown down with all their thousand winters.

LXXXIX. It is an awful topic—but 't is not

My cue for any time to be terrific: For chequer'd as is seen our human lot

With good, and bad, and worse, alike prolific Of melancholy merriment, to quote

Too much of one sort would be soporific;--
Without, or with, offence to friends or foes,
| sketch your world exactly as it goes.

And one good action in the midst of crimes

Is « quite refreshing »-in the affected phrase
Of these ambrosial, Pbarisaic times,

With all their pretty milk-and-water ways, And may serve therefore to bedew these rhymes,

A little scorch'd at present with the blaze
Of conquest and its consequences, which
Make epic poesy so rare and rich.

Upon a taken bastion, where there lay

Thousands of slaughter'd men, a yet warm group
Of murder'd women, who had found their way

To this vain refuge, made the good heart droop
And shudder;—while, as beautiful as May,

A female child of ten years tried to stoop
And hide her little palpitating breast
Amidst the bodies Jull'd in bloody rest.

Two villanous Cossacks pursued the child

With flashing eyes and weapons: match'd with them, The rudest brute chat roams Siberia's wild

Has feelings pure and polish'd as a gem,The bear is civilized, the wolf is mild ;

And whom for this at last must we condemn?
Their natures, or their sovereigns, who employ
All arts to teach their subjects to destroy?

Their sabres glitter'd o'er her little head,

Whence her fair hair rose twining with affright, ller hidden face was plunged amidst the dead :

When Juan caught a glimpse of this sad sight,
I shall not exactly say what he said,

Because it might not solace « ears polite;»
I ut what he did, was to lay on their backs,-
The readiest way of reasoning witla Cossacks.

One's hip he slashd, and split the other's shoulder,

And drove them with their brutal yells to seek If there might be chirurgeons who could solder

The wounds they richly merited, and shriek
Their baffled rage and pain; while waxing colder

As he turn'd o'er each pale and gory cheek,
Don Juan raised his little captive from
The heap a moment more had made her tomb.

And she was chill as they, and on her face

A slender streak of blood announced how pear
Ter fate had been to that of all her race;

For the same blow which laid her mother here Had scarr'd her brow, and left its crimson trace

As the last link with all she had held dear; But else unhurt, she open'd her large eyes, And gazed on Juan with a wild surprise.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


Jest at this instant, while their eyes were fix'd

l'pon cach other, with dilated glance,
in Juan's look, pain, pleasure, liope, fear, mix'd

With joy to save, and dread of some mischance l'nto his protégée ; while hers, trausfix'd

With infant terrors, clared as from a trance,

pure, transparent, pale, yet radiant face, i Like to a lighted alabaster vase;

Op came John Jobnson-(I will not say « Jack, »

For that were vulgar, cold, and coinmon-place
On great occasions, such as an attack

On cities, as hath been the present case) l'p Jolinson came, with hundreds at his back,

Exclaiming Juan! Juan! Ou, boy! brace
Your arm, and I'll bet Moscow to a dollar,
That you and I will win Saint George's collar.8

« The Seraskier is knocked upon the head,

But the stone bastion still remains, wherein | The old pacha sits among some hundreds dead,

Smoking his pipe quite calmly 'midst the din 1 Of our artillery and his own : 't is said

Our kill'd, already piled up to the clin,
Lie round the battery; but still it batters,
And grapein volleys, like a vineyard, scatters.



with me!»—But Juan answerd, « Look l'pon this child-saved her-must not leave Her life to chance; but point me out some nook

Of safety, where she less may shriok and grieve, And I am with you.»- Whereon Johnsou took A glance around-and hirmgeil- and twitchid bis

sleeve sud black sok nechcloth-and replied, " You're right; Poor thing' whats to be done? I'm purtled quite',»

Said Juan-Whatsoever is to be

Done, I'll not quit lier till she seeins secure air present life a good deal more than we..-

Quoth Johnson --« Veither will I quite ensure; but at the least you may die gloriously,»

Juan roplied--« At least I will endure
Whateer is to be borne - but not resign
This child, who is parentless, and therefore mine

And all allowances besides of plunder

In fair proportion with their comrades ;-thien
Juan consented to march on through thunder,

Wbidi chinu'd at every step their ranks of men
And yet the rest rushi'd eagerly-no wonder,

For they were heated by the hope of gain,
A thing which happens every where each day-
No hero trusteth wholly to half-pay.

And such is victory, and such is man!

At least nine-tenths of what we call so;-God
May have another name for half we scan

As human beings, or his ways are odd. But to our subject, a brave Tartar Khan,

Or « sultan,» as the author (to whose nod lo prose I bend my humble verse) doth call This chieftain-somehow would not yield at all.

CV. But, flavk'd by five brave sons (such is polygamy,

That she spawus warriors by the score, where none Are prosecuted for that false crime bigamy)

He never would believe the city won "T:ile courage clung but to a single twig. --Am I

Describing Priam's, Peleus', or Jove's son?
Seither, --but a good, plain, old, temperate man,
Who fought with his five children in the van,

To take him was the point. The truly brave,

When they behold the brave oppressd with odů, Are touchd with a desire to shield and save;

A mixture of wild beasts and demi-gods
Are they-now furious as the sweeping wave,

Now moved with pity: even as sometimes nods
The rugged tree unto the summer wind,
Compassion breathe: along the savage miod.

But he would not be tahen, and replied

To all the propositions of surrender
By mowing Christians down on every side,

As obstinate as Swedil Charles at Bender. ilis five brave boys no less the foe defied :

Whereon the Russian pathos grew less tender,
1. being a virtue, like terrestrial patience,
Apt to wear out on trilling provocaciens.

Ind spite of Jolinson and of Juan, who

Expended all their eastern phraseology
In being him, for God's sake, just to show

so much less fight its might form an apology For them in saving such a desperate foe

lle wil swav, like doctors of theology When try alispute with scepries; and with curses Struck at liis friends, as babies be it their nunes.

Nay, lie bad wounded, though but slightly, both

Juan and Johnsou, whereupon they fell-
The first with sighs, the second with an oath-


angry sultanship, pell-mell,
And all around were growu exceeding wruth

Atuella pertinacious infidel,
And pour'd upon lun and his sons like rain,
Which they resisted like a sandy plain,-

Jolidson said-« Juan, we've no time to lose,

The child's a pretty chile-a very pretty
I never saw such eges-bullerk! now chuse

Between your fume and fuelings, pride and piny: Turk! how the roar increases--110 rause

Will serve when there is plunder in a city ;

bould be both to inarch without you, but, liy Gou! well be too late for the first cut.»

But Juw won immovable; until

Joluson, who really loved him in his wuy. lichid out amongst his followers with some shill

Suchen be thought the lead given up to prey: And wearing of the infant came to ill

That they should all be shot on the next day, But if she wirr deliverid safe and sound, Thucy Jould it bene duse lifly roulles round,



That drinks and still is dry. At last they perish'd : The soldiers, who beheld him drop his point,
His second son was levell'd by a shot;

Stopp'd as if once more willing to concede llis third was sabred; and the fourth, most cherish'd Quarter, in case he bade them not « aroint !» Of all the five, on bayonets met his lot;

As he before had done. He did not heed
The fifth, who, by a Christian mother nourishid, Their pause nor signs : his heart was out of joint,
Had been neglected, ill-used, and what not,

And shook (till now unshaken) like a reed,
Because deformd, yet died all game and bottom, As he look'd down upon his children gone,
To save a sire who blush'd that he begot him.

And felt--though done with life-he was alone.

CXVIII. The eldest was a true and tameless Tartar,

But 't was a transient tremor :-with a spring As great a scorner of the Nazarene

Upon the Russian steel his breast he flung, As ever Mahomet pick d out for a martyr,

As carelessly as hurls the moth her wing Who only saw the black-eyed girls in green,

Agaiost the light wherein she dies : he clung Who make the beds of those who won't take quarter Closer, that all the deadlier they might wring, On earth, in Paradise; and, when once seen,

Unto the bayonets which bad pierced his young; Those houris, like all other pretty creatures,

And, throwing back a dim look on his sons, Do just whate'er they please, by dint of features. In one wide wound pour'd forth his soul at once. CXII.

CXIX. And what they pleased to do with the young Khan *T is strange enough--the rough, tough soldiers, who In heaven, I know not, por pretend to guess;

Spared neither sex nor age in their career But doubtless they prefer a fine young man

Of carnage, when this old man was pierced through, To tough old heroes, and can do no less;

And lay before them with his children pear, And that's the cause, no doubt, why, if we scan Touch'd by the heroism of him they slew, A field of battle's ghastly wilderness,

Were melted for a moment; though no tear For one rough, weather-beaten, veteran body,

Flow'd from their blood-shot eyes, all red with strife, You 'll find ten thousand handsome coxcombs bloody. They honour'd such determined scorn of life. CXIII.


. Your houris also have a natural pleasure

But the stone bastion still kept up its fire, In lopping off your lately married men

Where the chief Pacha calmly held his post : Before the bridal hours have danced their measure, Some twenty times he made the Russ retire, And the sad second moon grows dim again,

And baftled the assaults of all their host ; Or dull Repentance hath had dreary leisure

At length he condescended to inquire To wish him back a bachelor now and then.

If yet the city's rest were won or lost ; And thus your houri (it may be) disputes

And, being told the latter, sent a Bey
Of these brief blossoms the immediate fruits.

To answer Riba's summons to give way.

Thus the young Khan, with houris in his sight, In the mean time, cross-lege'd, with great sang-froid,

Thought not upon we charms of four young brides, Among the scorching ruins he sat smoking
But bravely rush'd on his first heavenly night. Tobacco on a little carpet;— Troy
In short, howe'er our better faith derides,

Saw nothing like the scene around;- yet, looking These black-eyed virgins make the Moslems fight, With martial stoicism, nought seem'd to annoy

As though there were one licaven and none besides, - His stern philosophy: but gently stroking Whereas, if all be true we hear of heaven

llis beard, he puffd his pipe's ambrosial gales, And hell, there must at Icast be six or seven.

As if he had three lives as well as tails.

So fully fash'd the phantom on his eyes,

The town was taken-whether he might yield That when the very lance was in his heart,

Himself or bastion, little matter'd now; Ile shouted « Allah!» and saw Paradise

Bis stubborn valour was no future shield. With all its veil of mystery drawn apart,

Ismail is no more! The crescent's silver bow And bright eternity without disguise

Suok, and the crimson cross glared o'er the field, On bis soul, like a ceaseless sunrise, dart, -

But red with no redeeming gore : the glow With prophets, houris, angels, saints, descried

Of burning streets, like moonlight on the water, To one voluptuous blaze,-and then he died :

Was imaged back in blood, the sea of slaughter. CXVI.

CXXIII But, with a heavenly rapture on his face,

All that the mind would shrink from of excesses; The good old Khan-who long had ceased to see All that the body perpetrates of bad; Hlouris, or aught except his florid race,

All that we read, lear, dream, of man's distresses; Who grew like ccdars round him gloriously

All that the devil would do if run stark mad; When he beheld his latest hero grace

All that deties the worst which pen expresses; The earth, which he became like a fell'd tree,

All by which hell is peopled, or as sad Paused for a moment from the fight, and cast As hell-mere mortals who their power abuse,A glance on tbat slain son, his first and last.

Was here (as heretofore and since) let loose.

But on the whole their continence was great ;

So that some disappointment there ensued
To those who had felt the inconvenient state

Of « single blessedness,» and thought it good (Since it was not their fault, but only fate,

To bear these crosses) for each waning prude
To make a Roman sort of Sabine wedding,
Without the expense and the suspense of bedding.

Some voices of the buxom middle-aged

Were also heard to wonder in the din
(Widows of forty were these birds long caged)

« Wherefore ihe ravishing did not begin!
But, while the thirst for gore and plunder raged,

There was small leisure for superfluous sid ;
But whether they escaped or no, lies hid
In darkness—I can only hope they did.

Suwarrow now was conqueror-a match

For Timor or for Zinghis in his trade, While mosques and streets, beneath his eyes, like that

Blazed, and the cannon's roar was scarce allay'd, With bloody hands he wrote his first dispatch ;

And here exactly follows what he said

Glory to God and to the Empress !» (Powers Eternal! such names mingled !) « Ismail's ours '$

Methinks these are the most tremendous words,

Since Menė, Menė, Tekel,» avd « Upharsia,
Which lands or p'ns have ever traced of swords.

Heaven help me! I'm but little of a parson : What Daniel read was short-hand of the Lord's,

Severe, sublime; the prophet wrote no sarce on
The fate of nations ;- but this Russ, so witty,
Could rhyme, like Nero, o'er a burning city.

He wrote this polar melody, and set it,

Duly accompanied by slirieks and groans,
Which few will sing, I trust, but none forget il-

For I will teach, if possible, the stones To rise a gainst earth's tyrants.

Never let it
Be said, that we still truckle unto thrones:--
But ye-our children's children! think how we
Show'd what things were before the world was frie'

That hour is not for us, but 't is for you;

And in the great joy of your millenniom.
You hardly will believe such things were true

As now occur, I thought that I would pen you emn, But may their very memory perish too!-

Yet, if perchance remember'd, still disdain you ea, More than you scorn the savages


If here and there some transient trait of pity,

Was shown, and some more nobleheart broke through
Jis bloody bond, and saved perhaps some pretty

Child, or an aged helpless man or two-
What's this in one annihilated city,
Where thousand loves, and ties, and duties


Cockneys of London! Muscadios of Paris!
Just ponder what a pious pastime war is.

Think how the joys of reading a gazette

Are purchased by all agonies and crimes :
Or, if these do not move you, don't forget

Such doom may be your own in after times. Meantime the taxes, Castlereagh, and debt,

Are hints as good as serious, or as rhymes.
Read your own hearts and Ireland's present story,
Then feed hier famine fat with Wellesley's glory.

But still there is unto a patriot nation,

Which loves so well its country and its king,
I subject of sublimest exultation-

Bear it, ye Muses, on your brightest wing! Howe'er the mighty locust, Desolation,

Strip your green fields, and to your harvests cling, Gaunt Famine never shall approach the throneThough Ireland starve, creat George weighs twenty stone.

CXXVII. But let me put an end unto my

theme: There was an end of Ismail-hapless town! Far flash'd lier burning towers o'er Danube's stream,

And redly ran his blushing waters down.
The horrid war-whoop and the shriller scream

Rose still; but fainter were the thunders grown:
Of forty thousand who had mano'd the wall,
Some hundreds breathed the rest were silent all!

In one thing ne'ertheless 't is fit to praise

The Russian army upon this occasion,
A virtue much in fashion now-a-days,

And therefore worthy of commemoration :
The topic 's tender, so shall be my phrase--

Perhaps the season's chill, and their long station
In winter's depth, or want of rest and victual,
Had made them chaste;- they ravishid very little.

Much did they slay, more plunder, and no less

Might here and there occur some violation
In the other line;-but not to such excess

As when the French, that dissipated nation, Take towns by storm : no causes can I guess,

Except cold weather and commiseration;
But all the ladies, save some twenty score,
Were almost as much virgins as before.

Some odd mistakes too happen'd in the dark,

Which showd a want of lanthorns, or of taste-
Indeed the smoke was such they scarce could mark
Their frieuds from foes, besides such things from

haste Occur, though rarely, when there is a spark

Of light to save the venerably chuste:But six old damsels, each of seventy years, Were all dellower'd by different grenadiers.

Who painted their bare limbs, but not with fore.

And when you hear historians talk of thrones,

And those that sate upon them, let it be
As we now gaze upon the Mammoth's bones,

And wonder what old world such things could see.
Or hieroglyphies on Egyptian stones,

The pleasant riddles of futurity-
Guessing at what shall happily be bid
As the real purpose of a pyramid.

« ZurückWeiter »