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On, on the vessel flies, the land is gone,
And winds are rude in Biscay's sleepless bay.
Four days are sped, but with the fifth, anon,
New shores descried make every bosom gay;
And Cintra's mountain greets them on their way,
And Tagus dashing onward to the deep,
His fabled golden tribute bent to pay ;
And soon on board the Lusian pilots leap,
And steer 'twixt fertile shores where yet few rustics reap.
XV. Oh, Christ! it is a goodly sight to see What Heaven hath done for this delicious land! What fruits of fragrance blush on every tree! What goodly prospects o'er the hills expand ! But man would mar them with an impious hand : And when the Almighty lifts his fiercest scourge 'Gainst those who most transgress his high command,
With treble vengeance will his hot shafts urge Gaul's locust host, and earth from fellest foemen purge.
What beauties doth Lisboa first unfold!
Her image floating on that noble tide,
Which poets vainly pave with sands of gold,
But now whereon a thousand keels did ride
Of mighty strength, since Albion was allied,
And to the Lusians did her aid afford :
A nation swoln with ignorance and pride,
Who lick yet loathe the hand that waves the sword To save them from the wrath of Gaul's unsparing lord.
But whoso entereth within this town,
That, sheening far, celestial seems to be,
Disconsolate will wander up and down,
'Mid many things unsightly to strange ee;
For hut and palace show like filthily :
The dingy denizens are rear'd in dirt ;
Ne personage of high or mean degree
Doth care for cleanness of surtout or shirt, Though shent with Egypt's plague, unkempt, unwash'd ; unhurt.
XVIII. Poor, paltry slaves ! yet born ʼmidst noblest scenes Why, Nature, waste thy wonders on such men? Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes In variegated maze of mount and glen. Ah, me! what hand can pencil guide, or pen, To follow half on which the eye dilates Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken
Than those whereof such things the bard relates Who to the awe-struck world unlock'd Elysium's gates ?
The horrid crags, by toppling convent crown'd,
The cork-trees hoar that clothe the shaggy steep,
The mountain-moss by scorching skies imbrown'd,
The sunken glen, whose sunless shrubs must weep,
The tender azure of the unruffled deep,
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
The torrents that from cliff to valley leap,
The vine on high, the willow branch below,
Mix'd in one mighty scene, with varied beauty glow.
Then slowly climb the many-winding way,
And frequent turn to linger as you go,
From loftier rocks new loveliness survey,
And rest ye at “Our Lady's house of woe;"
Where frugal monks their little relics show,
And sundry legends to the stranger tell :
Here impious men have punish'd been, and lo!
Deep in yon cave Honorius long did dwell,
In hope to merit Heaven by making earth a Hell.
And here and there, as up the crags you spring,
Mark many rude-carved crosses near the path :
Yet deem not these devotion's offering-
These are memorials frail of murderous wrath :
For wheresoe'er the shrieking victim hath
Pourd forth his blood beneath the assassin's knife,
Some hand erects a cross of mouldering lath ;
And grove and glen with thousand such are rife Throughout this purple land, where law secures not life.
XXII. On sloping mounds, or in the vale beneath, Are domes where whilome kings did make repair ; But now the wild flowers round them only breathe ; Yet ruin'd splendour still is lingering there. And yonder towers the Prince's palace fair: There thou too, Vathek! England's wealthiest son, Once form’d thy Paradise, as not aware
When wanton Wealth her mightiest deeds hath done, Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
XXIII. Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan, Beneath yon mountain's ever beauteous brow: But now, as if a thing unblest by man, Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou! Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow To halls deserted, portals gaping wide: Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
Vain are the pleasaunces on earth supplied ; Swept into wrecks anon by Time's ungentle tide!
Behold the hall where chiefs were late convened !
Oh! dome displeasing unto British eye!
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
A little fiend that scoffs incessantly,
There sits in parchment robe array'd, and by
His side is hung a seal and sable scroll,
Where blazon'd glare names known to chivalry,
And sundry signatures adorn the roll,
Whereat the urchin points and laughs with all his soul.
Convention is the dwarfish demon styled
That foil'd the knights in Marialva's dome:
Of brains (if brains they had) he them beguiled,
And turn'd a nation's shallow joy to gloom.
Here Folly dash'd to earth the victor's plume,
And Policy regain'd what arms had lost :
For chiefs like ours in vain may laurels bloom!
Woe to the conquering, not the conquer'd host,
Since baffled Triumph droops on Lusitania's coast !
XXVI. And ever since that martial synod met, Britannia sickens, Cintra ! at thy name; And folks in office at the mention fret, And fain would blush, if blush they could, for shame. How will posterity the deed proclaim ! Will not our own and fellow-nations sneer, To view these champions cheated of their fame,
By foes in fight o'erthrown, yet victors here, Where Scorn her finger points through many a coming year?
So deem'd the Childe, as o'er the mountains he
Did take his way in solitary guise :
Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to flee,
More restless than the swallow in the skies :
Though here awhile he learn’d to moralize,
For Meditation fix'd at times on him;
And conscious Reason whisper'd to despise
His early youth, misspent in maddest whim;
But as he gazed on truth his aching eyes grew dim.
To horse! to horse! he quits, for ever quits
A scene of peace, though soothing to his soul:
Again he rouses from his moping fits,
But seeks not now the harlot and the bowl.
Onward he flies, nor fixʼd as yet the goal
Where he shall rest him on his pilgrimage;
And o'er him many changing scenes must roll
Ere toil his thirst for travel can assuage,
Or he shall calm his breast, or learn experience sage.