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Then all was stern collectedness and art,
W. They raised the bleeding Otho, and the Leech Forbade all present question, sign, and speech; The others met within a neighbouring hall, And he, incensed, and heedless of them all, The cause and conqueror in this sudden fray, In haughty silence slowly strode away; He back'd his steed, his homeward path he took, Nor cast on Otho's towers a single look.
VI. But where was he 7 that meteor of a night, Who menaced but to disappear with light. Where was this Ezzelin 2 who came and went To leave no other trace of his intent. He left the dome of Otho long ere morn, In darkness, yet so well the path was worn He could not miss it: near his dwelling lay : But there he was not, and with coming day Came fast inquiry, which unfolded nought Except the absence of the chief it sought. A chamber tenantless, a steed at rest, His host alarm’d, his murmuring squires distress'd : Their search extends along, around the path, In dread to meet the marks of prowlers’ wrath : But none are there, and not a brake hath borne Nor gout of blood, nor shred of mantle torn; Nor fall nor struggle hath defaced the grass, Which still retains a mark where murder was; Nor dabbling fingers left to tell the tale, The bitter print of each convulsive nail, When agonised hands that cease to guard, Wound in that pang the smoothness of the sward. Sorne such had been, if here a life was reft, But these were not; and doubting hope is left; And strange suspicion, whispering Lara's name, Now daily mutters o'er his blacken'd fame; Then sudden silent when his form appear'd, Awaits the absence of the thing it fear'd Arain its wonted wondering to renew, And dye conjecture with a darker hue.
VII. Days roll along, and Otho's wounds are heal’d, But not his pride; and hate no more conceal'd : He was a man of power, and Lara's foe, The friend of all who sought to work him woe, And from his country's justice now demands Account of Ezzelin at Lara's hands. Who else than Lara could have cause to fear His presence who had made him disappear, If not the man on whom his menaced charge Had sate too deeply were he left at large 2 The general rumour ignorantly loud, The mystery dearest to the curious crowd;
The seeming friendlessness of him who strove
VIII. Within that land was many a malcontent, Who cursed the tyranny to which he bent; That soil full many a wringing despot saw, Who work'd his wantonness in form of law; Long war without and frequent broil within Had made a path for blood and giant sin, That waited but a signal to begin New havoc, such as civil discord blends, Which knows no neuter, owns but foes or friends; Fix'd in his feudal fortress each was lord, In word and deed obey'd, in soul abhorr'd. Thus Lara had inherited his lands, And with them pining hearts and sluggish hands; But that long absence from his native clime Had left him stainless of oppression's crime, And now, diverted by his milder sway, All dread by slow degrees had worn away. The menials felt their usual awe alone, But more for him than them that fear was grown; They deem'd him now unhappy, though at first Their evil judgment augurd of the worst, And each long restless night, and silent mood, Was traced to sickness, fed by solitude: And though his lonely habits threw of late Gloom o'er his chamber, cheerful was his gate; For thence the wretched ne'er unsoothed withdrew, For them, at least, his soul compassion knew. Cold to the great, contemptuous to the high, The humble pass'd not his unheeding eye; Much he would speak not, but beneath his roof They found asylum ost, and ne'er reproof. And they who watch'd might mark that, day by day Some new retainers gather'd to his sway; But most of late, since Ezzelin was lost, He play'd the courteous lord and bounteous host: Perchance his strife with Otho made him dread Some snare prepared for his obnoxious head; Whate'er his view, his favour more obtains With these, the people, than his fellow thanes. If this were policy, so far 'twas sound, The million judged but of him as they found; From him by sterner chiefs to exile driven They but required a shelter, and 'twas given. By him no peasant mourn'd his rifled cot, And scarce the Serf could murmur o'er his lot; With him old avarice found its hoard secure, With him contempt forbore to mock the poor;
Youth present cheer and promised recompence
IX. Throughout that clime the feudal chiefs had gain'd Such sway, their infant monarch hardly reign'd; Now was the hour for faction's rebel growth, The Serfs contemn'd the one, and hated both : They waited but a leader, and they found One to their cause inseparably bound; By circumstance compell'd to plunge again, In self-defence, amidst the strife of men. Cut off by some mysterious fate from those Whom birth and nature meant not for his foes, Had Lara from that night, to him accurst, Prepared to meet, but not alone, the worst : Some reason urged, whate'er it was, to shun Inquiry into deeds at distance done; By mingling with his own the cause of all, E'en if he fail'd, he still delay'd his fall. The sullen calm that long his bosom kept, The storm that once had spent itself and slept, Roused by events that seem'd foredoom'd to urge His gloomy fortunes to their utmost verge, Burst forth, and made him all he once had been, And is again; he only changed the scene. Light care had he for life, and less for fame, But not less fitted for the desperate game: He deem'd himself mark'd out for others' hate, And mock'd at ruin so they shared his fate. What cared he for the freedom of the crowd 7 He raised the humble but to bend the proud. He had hoped quiet in his sullen lair, But man and destiny beset him there: Inured to hunters, he was found at bay; And they must kill, they cannot snare the prey. Stern, unambitious, silent, he had been Henceforth a calm spectator of life's scene; But dragg'd again upon the arena, stood A leader not unequal to the feud ; In voice—mien — gesture — savage nature spoke, And from his eye the gladiator broke.
X. What boots the oft-repeated tale of strife, The feast of vultures, and the waste of life 2 The varying fortune of each separate field, The fierce that vanquish, and the faint that yield 2
The smoking ruin, and the crumbled wall?
XI. Fresh with the nerve the new-born impulse strung, The first success to Lara's numbers clung: But that vain victory hath ruin’d all; They form no longer to their leader's call : In blind confusion on the foe they press, And think to snatch is to secure success. The lust of booty, and the thirst of hate, Lure on the broken brigands to their fate: In vain he doth whate'er a chief may do, To check the headlong fury of that crew; In vain their stubborn ardour he would tame, The hand that kindles cannot quench the flanne; The wary foe alone hath turn'd their mood, And shown their rashness to that erring brood: The feign'd retreat, the nightly ambuscade, The daily harass, and the fight delay'd, The long privation of the hoped supply, The tentless rest beneath the humid sky, The stubborn wall that mocks the leaguer's art, And palls the patience of his baffled heart, Of these they had not deem'd : the battle-day They could encounter as a veteran may : But more preferr'd the fury of the strife, And present death, to hourly suffering life: And famine wrings, and fever sweeps away His numbers melting fast from their array ; Intemperate triumph fades to discontent, And Lara's soul alone seems still unbent: But few remain to aid his voice and hand, And thousands dwindled to a scanty band: Desperate, though few, the last and best remain'd To mourn the discipline they late disdain'd. One hope survives, the frontier is not far, And thence they may escape from native war; And bear within them to the neighbouring state An exile's sorrows, or an outlaw's hate: Hard is the task their father-land to quit, But harder still to perish or submit.
cAN to II.
xiii. A moment's pause – 'tis but to breathe their band, Or shall they onward press, or here withstand 2 It matters little – if they charge the foes who by their border-stream their march oppose, Some few, perchance, may break and pass the line, However link'd to baffle such design. “The charge be ours : to wait for their assault Were fate well worthy of a coward's halt.” Forth flies each sabre, rcin'd is every steed, And the next word shall scarce outstrip the deed : In the next tone of Lara's gathering breath How many shall but hear the voice of death !
XIV. His blade is bared, -in him there is an air As deep, but far too tranquil for despair; A something of indifference more than then Becomes the bravest, if they feel for men. He turn'd his cye on Kaled, ever near, And still too faithful to betray one fear; Perchance 'twas but the moon's dim twilight threw Along his aspect an unwonted hue Of mournful paleness, whose deep tint express'd The truth, and not the terror of his breast. This Lara mark'd, and laid his hand on his : It trembled not in such an hour as this; His lip was silent, scarcely beat his heart, His eye alone proclaim’d, “We will not part : Thy band may perish, or thy friends may flee, Farewell to life, but not adieu to thee . "
The word hath pass'd his lips, and onward driven,
XV. Commanding, aiding, animating all, Where foe appear'd to press, or friend to fall, Cheers Lara's voice, and waves or strikes his steel, Inspiring hope himself had ceased to feel. None fled, for well they knew that flight were vain; But those that waver turn to smite again, While yet they find the firmest of the foe Recoil before their leader's look and blow: Now girt with numbers, now almost alone, He folls their ranks, or re-unites his own ; Himself he spared not— once they seem'd to fly — Now was the time, he waved his hand on high, And shook— Why sudden droops that plumed crest? The shaft is sped – the arrow's in his breast ! That fatal gesture left the unguarded side, And Death hath stricken down yon arm of pride. The word of triumph fainted from his tongue; That hand, so raised, how droopingly it hung : But yet the sword instinctively retains, Though from its fellow shrink the falling reins; These Kaled snatches: dizzy with the blow, And senseless bending o'er his saddle-bow, Perceives not Lara that his anxious page Beguiles his charger from the combat's rage: Meantime his followers charge, and charge again; Too mix'd the slayers now to heed the slain :
XVI. Day glimmers on the dying and the dead, The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head; The war-horse masterless is on the earth, And that last gasp hath burst his bloody girth; And near, yet quivering with what life remain'd, The heel that urged him and the hand that rein'd; And some too near that rolling torrent lie, Whose waters mock the lip of those that die; That panting thirst which scorches in the breath Of those that die the soldier's fiery death, In vain impels the burning mouth to crave One drop —the last—to cool it for the grave; With feeble and convulsive effort swept, Their limbs along the crimson'd turf have crept; The faint remains of life such struggles waste, But yet they reach the stream, and bend to taste: They feel its freshness, and almost partake — Why pause 7 No further thirst have they to slake – It is unquench'd, and yet they feel it not; It was an agony—but now forgot
XVII. Beneath a lime, remoter from the scene, Where but for him that strife had never been, A breathing but devoted warrior lay: "Twas Lara bleeding fast from life away. His follower once, and now his only guide, Kneels Kaled watchful o'er his welling side, And with his scarf would stanch the tides that rush, With each convulsion, in a blacker gush; And then, as his faint breathing waxes low, In feebler, not less fatal tricklings flow: He scarce can speak, but motions him 'tis vain, And merely adds another throb to pain. He clasps the hand that pang which would assuage, And sadly smiles his thanks to that dark page, Who nothing fears, nor feels, nor heeds, nor sees, Save that damp brow which rests upon his knees; Save that pale aspect, where the eye, though dim, Held all the light that shone on earth for him.
XVIII. The foe arrives, who long had search'd the field, Their triumph nought till Lara too should yield; They would remove him, but they see 't were vain, And he regards them with a calm disdain, That rose to reconcile him with his fate, And that escape to death from living hate: And Otho comes, and leaping from his steed, Looks on the bleeding foe that made him bleed, And questions of his state; he answers not, Scarce glances on him as on one forgot, And turns to Kaled : — each remaining word They understood not, if distinctly heard; His dying tones are in that other tongue, To which some strange remembrance wildly clung. They spake of other scenes, but what—is known To Kaled, whom their meaning reach'd alone; And he replied, though faintly, to their sound, While gazed the rest in dumb amazement round : They seem'd even then — that twain unto – the last To half forget the present in the past; To share between themselves some separate fate. Whose darkness nonc beside should penetrate. I 3
Their words though faint were many—from the tone Their import those who heard could judge alone; From this, you might have deem'd young Kaled's
death More near than Lara's by his voice and breath, So sad, so deep, and hesitating broke The accents his scarce-moving pale lips spokc ; But Lara's voice, though low, at first was clear And calm, till murmuring death gasp'd hoarsely near: But from his visage little could we guess, So unrepentant, dark, and passionless, Save that when struggling nearer to his last, Upon that page his eye was kindly cast; And once, as Kaled's answering accents ceased, Rose Lara's hand, and pointed to the East: Whether (as then the breaking sun from high Roll'd back the clouds) the morrow caught his eye, Or that 't was chance, or some remember'd scene, That raised his arm to point where such had been, Scarce Kaled seem'd to know, but turn'd away, As if his heart abhorr'd that coming day, And shrunk his glance before that morning light, To look on Lara's brow—where all grew night. Yet sense seem'd left, though better were its loss; For when one near display'd the absolving cross, And proffer'd to his touch the holy bead, Of which his parting soul might own the need, He look'd upon it with an eye profane, And smiled — Heaven pardon : if 't were with disdain: And Kaled, though he spoke not, nor withdrew From Lara's face his fix’d despairing view, With brow repulsive, and with gesture swift, Flung back the hand which held the sacred gift, As if such but disturb’d the expiring man, Nor secm'd to know his life but then began, That life of Immortality, secure To none, save them whose faith in Christ is sure.
XX. But gasping heaved the breath that Lara drew, And dull the film along his dim eye grew ; His limbs stretch'd fluttering, and his head droop'd o'er The weak yet still untiring knee that bore ; He press'd the hand he held upon his heart— It beats no more, but Kaled will not part With the cold grasp, but feels, and feels in vain, For that faint throb which answers not again. “It beats : ”— Away, thou dreamer he is gone — It once was Lara which thou look'st upon. "
XXI. He gazed, as if not yet had pass'd away The haughty spirit of that humble clay; And those around have roused him from his trance, But cannot tear from thence his fixed glance;
* [The death of Lara is, by far, the finest passage in the poem, and is fully equal to any thing else which the author ever wrote. The physical horror of the event, though described with a terrible force and fidelity, is both relieved and enhanced by the beautiful pictures of mental energy and affection with which it is combined. The whole sequel of the o is written with equal vigour and feelinz, and may be put n competition with any thing that poetry has produced, in point either of pathos or energy. — JEFF REY.]
2 The event in this section was suggested by the description of the death, or rather burial, of the Duke of Gandia. The most interesting and particular account of it is given by Burchard, and is in substance as follows:– “On the eighth day of June, the Cardinal of Valenza and the Duke of Gandia, sons of the Pope, supped with their mother, Vanozza, near
And when, in raising him from where he bore
XXII. And Lara sleeps not where his fathers sleep, But where he died his grave was dug as deep; Nor is his mortal slumber less profound,
Though priest nor bless'd, nor marble deck'd the
mound; And he was mourn’d by one whose quiet grief, Less loud, outlasts a people's for their chief. Vain was all question ask'd her of the past, And vain e'en menace — silent to the last; She told nor whence, nor why she left behind Her all for one who seem'd but little kind. Why did she love him 2 Curious fool : — be still— Is human love the growth of human will 2 To her he might be gentleness; the stern Have deeper thoughts than your duil eyes discern, And when they love, your smilers guess not how Beats the strong heart, though less the lips avow. They were not common links, that form'd the chain That bound to Lara Kaled's heart and brain; But that wild tale she brook'd not to unfold, And seal’d is now each lip that could have told.
XXIII. They laid him in the earth, and on his breast, Besides the wound that sent his soul to rest, They found the scatter'd dints of many a scar, Which were not planted there in recent war; Where'er had pass'd his summer years of life, It seems they vanish'd in a land of strife; But all unknown his glory or his guilt, These only told that somewhere blood was spilt, And Ezzelin, who might have spoke the past, Return'd no more—that night appear'd his last.
XXIV. Upon that night (a peasant's is the tale) A Serf that cross'd the intervening vale, 2
the church of S. Pietro ad pincula; several other persons being present at the entertainment. A late hour approaching, and the cardinal having reminded his brother, that it was time to return to the apostolic palace, they mounted their horses or mules, with only a few attendants, and proceeded together as far as the palace of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, when the duke informed the cardinal that, before he returned home. he had to pay a visit of pleasure. Dismissing therefore all his attendants, excepting his staffero, or footman, and a person in a mask, who had paid him a visit whilst at supper, and who, during the space of a month or thereabouts, previous to this time, had called upon him almost daily, at the apostolic palace, he took this person behind him on his mule, and proceeded to the street of the Jews, where he quitted his servant, directing him to remain there until a certain hour;
When Cynthia's light almost gave way to morn, And nearly veil'd in mist her waning horn; ' A Serf, that rose betimes to thread the wood, And hew the bough that bought his children's food, Pass'd by the river that divides the plain Of Otho's lands and Lara's broad domain : He heard a tramp — a horse and horseman broke From out the wood — before him was a cloak Wrapt round some burthen at his saddle-bow, Bent was his head, and hidden was his brow. Roused by the sudden sight at such a time, And some foreboding that it might be crime, Himself unheeded watch'd the stranger's course, Who reach'd the river, bounded from his horse, And lifting thence the burthen which he bore, Heaved up the bank, and dash'd it from the shore, Then paused, and look'd, and turn'd, and seem'd to watch, And still another hurried glance would snatch, And follow with his step the stream that slow'd, As if even yet too much its surface show'd : At once he started, stoop'd, around him strown The winter floods had scatter'd heaps of stone; Of these the heaviest thence he gather'd there, And slung them with a more than common care. Meantime the Serf had crept to where unseen Himself might safely mark what this might mean ; He caught a glimpse, as of a floating breast, And something glitter'd starlike on the vest; But ere he well could mark the buoyant trunk, A massy fragment smote it, and it sunk: It rose again, but indistinct to view, And left the waters of a purple hue, Then deeply disappear'd : the horseman gazed Till ebb'd the latest eddy it had raised ; Then turning, vaulted on his pawing steed, And instant spurr'd him into panting speed. His face was mask'd — the features of the dead, If dead it were, escaped the observer's dread;
when, if he did not return, he might repair to the palace. The duke then seated the person in the mask behind him, and rode, I know not whither; but in that night he was assassinated, and thrown into the river. The servant, after having been dismissed, was also assaulted and mortally wounded ; and although he was attended with great care, yet ..such was his situation, that he could give no intelligible account of what had befallen his master. In the morning, the duke not having returned to the palace, his servants began to be alarmed : and one of them informed the pontiff of the evening excursion of his sons, and that the duke had not yet made his appearance. This gave the pope no small anxiety; but he conjectured that the duke had been attracted by some courtesan to pass the night with her, and, not choosing to quit the house in open day, had waited till the following evening to return home. When, however, the evening arrived, and be found himself disappointed in his expectations, he became deeply afflicted, and began to make inquiries from different persons, whom he ordered to attend him for that purpose. Amon:st these was a man named Giorgio Schiavoni, who,
having discharged some timber from a bark in the river, had remained on board the vessel to watch it; and being interrogated whether he had seen any one thrown into the river on the night preceding, he replied, that he saw two men on foot, who came down the street, and looked diligently arout, to observe whether any person was passing. That seeing no one, they returned, and a short time afterwards two others came, and looked around in the same manner as the former : no person still appearing, they gave a sign to their companions, when a man came, mounted on a white horse, having behind him a dead body, the head and arms of which hung on one side, and the feet on the other side of the horse ; the two persons on foot supporting the body, to prevent its failing. They thus proceeded towards that part, where the filth of the city is usually discharged into the river, and turning the horse, with his tail towards the water, the two persons took the dead body by the arms and feet, and with all
But if in sooth a star its bosom bore,
XXV. And Kaled — Lara — Ezzelin, are gone, Alike without their monumental stone The first, all efforts vainly strove to wean From lingering where her chieftain's blood had been; Grief had so tamed a spirit once too proud, Her tears were few, her wailing never loud; But furious would you tear her from the spot Where yet she scarce believed that he was not, Her eye shot forth with all the living fire That haunts the tigress in her whelpless ire; But left to waste her weary moments there, She talk’d all idly unto shapes of air, Such as the busy brain of Sorrow paints, And woos to listen to her fond complaints: And she would sit beneath the very tree Where lay his drooping head upon her knee; And in that posture where she saw him fall, His words, his looks, his dying grasp recall ; And she had shorn, but saved her raven hair, And oft would snatch it from her bosom there, And fold, and press it gently to the ground, As if she stanch'd anew some phantom's wound. Herself would question, and for him reply ; Then rising, start, and beckon him to fly From some imagined spectre in pursuit; Then seat her down upon some linden's root, And hide her visage with her meagre hand, Or trace strange characters along the sand— This could not last—she lies by him she loved ; Her tale untold—her truth too dearly proved. 1
their strength flung it into the river. The person on horseback then asked if they had thrown it in ; to which they replied Signor, si (yes, Sir). He then looked towards the river, and seeing a mantle floating on the stream, he inquired what it was that appeared black, to which they answered, it was a mantle ; and one of them threw stones upon it, in consequence of which it sunk. The attendants of the pontiff then inquired from Giorgio, why he had not revealed this to the governor of the city; to which he replied, that he had seen in his time a hundred dead bodies thrown into the river at the same place, without any inquiry being made respecting them ; and that he had not, therefore, considered it as a matter of any importance. The fishermen and seamen were then collected, and ordered to search the river, where, on the following evening, they found the lody of the duke, with his habit entire, and thirty ducats in his purse. He was pierced with nine wounds, one of which was in his throat, the others in his head, body, and limbs. No sooner was the pontiff informed of the death of his son, and that he had been thrown, like filth, into the river, than, giving way to his grief, he shut himself up in a chamber, and wept bitterly. The Cardinal of Segovia, and other attendants on the pope, went to the door, and after many hours spent in persuasions and exhortations, W. upon him to admit them. From the evening of Wednesday till the following, Saturday the pope took no food; nor did he sleep from Thursday morning till the same hour on the ensuing day. At length, however, giving way to the entreaties of his attendants, he began to restrain his sorrow, and to consider the injury which his own health might sustain, by the further indulgence of his grief.” – Roscoe's Leo the Tenth, vol. i. p. 265.
* [Lara, though it has many good passages, is a further proof of the melancholy fact, which is true of all sequels, from the continuation of the AEmeid, by one of the famous Italian $. of the middle ages, down to “ l'olly, a sequel to the eggar's Opera,” that “more last words” may generally be