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Fresh feeres 1 will dry the bright blue eyes
For pleasures past I do not grieve,
Nor perils gathering near;
And now I'm in the world alone,
With thee, my bark, I'll swiftly go
Nor care what land thou bear'st me to,
Welcome, welcome, ye dark-blue waves!
On, on the vessel flies, the land is gone,
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.
1 Feeres.] Glossary.
2 Tagus. Spanish, Tajo; Portuguese, Tejo—the river of Lusitania-Portugal and Spain.
3 His fabled golden tribute.
According to ancient legend,
flowed over sands of gold and precious stones.
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?
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,
Doth care for cleanliness of surtout or shirt, Though shent with Egypt's plague, unkempt, unwashed, unhurt.
Poor, paltry slaves! yet born 'midst noblest scenesWhy, Nature, waste thy wonders on such men?
1 The ancient alliance between England and Portugal at this time against the French invasion under Napoleon. This alliance was the ostensible reason for the French invasion of Portugal, 1807. 2 Though shent.] Though struck' by the plague of Egypt, i.e. leprosy, still retained, in 1811, all their reputed uncleanliness. For Egyptian leprosy (elephantiasis), see Bibl. Dict. and Horace, Od. 1, 87, 10
Lo! Cintra's glorious Eden intervenes
Through views more dazzling unto mortal ken Than those whereof such things the bard relates, Who to the awe-struck world unlocked Elysium's gates ?1
The horrid crags, by toppling convent crowned,
The orange tints that gild the greenest bough,
Then slowly climb the many-winding way,
And here and there, as up the crags you spring,
1 Refers to Dante, to whom reference will be made in Canto iv. 2 The sunken glen. Compare with sunless as a case of alliteration. Notice also the recurrence of the initial 'The.'
3 Our Lady's house of woe.] A mistranslation of the words 'de la penha 'Our Lady's House of the Rock-which Byron at first took to be pena, punishment or woe. Though conscious of his mistake, he never corrected it.
For wheresoe'er the shrieking victim hath
And grove and glen with thousand such are rife Throughout this purple land, where law secures not life.
On sloping mounds, or in the vale beneath,
When wanton Wealth her mightiest deeds hath done, Meek Peace voluptuous lures was ever wont to shun.
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! 2
1 Vathek.] The Eastern Romance,' written in French, in 1784, by William Beckford, the son of Lord Chatham's friend, the Lord Mayor. Vathek is an Eastern caliph 'sullied with a thousand crimes.'
2 Allusion to the Convention of Cintra, 1808, which allowed too favourable terms to the French in their evacuation of Portugal. Sir Arthur Wellesley refers to it in a letter to Lord Castlereagh : Although my name is affixed to this instrument, I beg that you will not believe I negotiated it, that I approve of it, or that I had any hand in wording it.' The people of England were indignant that a defeated army of 26,000 French soldiers should, by the terms of the convention, have been landed on the French coast at the expense of the English.
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
There sits in parchment robe arrayed, and by
Where blazoned 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
For chiefs like ours in vain may laurels bloom!
And ever since that martial synod met,
And fain would blush, if blush they could, for shame.
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 deemed the Childe, as o'er the mountains he
Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to flee,
1 The convention was held in the house of the Marchese Marialva.
2 A court of general officers was directed to inquire into the conditions of the armistice, and as a result the king expressed his disapprobation to Sir Hew Dalrymple at those conditions which affected the Portuguese interests.