A TALE, FROM MARMONTEL’S INCAS OF PERU
WHEN o’er the western world IBERIA’S bands
With blood and rapine stain’d their guilty hands;
When frantic priests with zeal’s unhallow’d fire
Saw the pale victims of their rage expire;
And madly dream’d their love of heaven to show
By filling earth with misery, guilt and woe;
A gentle youth there was, whose generous mind
Felt for the wretchedness of all mankind.
Love in his bosom ever gave the law;
A brother in each Indian’s form he saw.
In vain he strove their fury to control,
And melt to soft humanity of soul:
Nor prayers, nor threats their savage hearts could move,
And all his tender cares successless prove.
Resolv’d no more to view a scene of woes,
With power alone to pity, not oppose;
With horrour fill’d, he left the guilty crew,
His fate in distant regions to pursue.
Far to the south a mighty empire lay;
A happy monarch there extends his sway;
His people blessing, by his people blest,
A filial homage every heart confess’d.
No SPANIARD yet had trod these happy climes,
Alike unknown their courage and their crimes.
Thro’ various toils the fearless youth explores,
With noblest views inspir’d, these peaceful shores;
To warn them of the neighbouring empire’s fate,
The direful tale of SPANISH guilt relate;
From chains, or death the harmless race to save,
Ensure their freedom, or partake their grave.
And now his toils and weary wanderings past,
He views the fair PERUVIAN plains at last.
These sweet abodes no adverse seasons fear,
Nor summer burns, nor winter freezes here.
Eternal spring unbounded fragrance show’rs;
Its ripen’d stores eternal harvest pours.
The labourer chooses when to sow his grain;
When of its golden load to ease the plain.
The boughs at once their fruit and blossoms show;
And, while they give, still promise to bestow.
Here from unclouded skies the lord of day
Pours on these favour’d climes his purest ray:
Here to his name a thousand altars rise,
And waft their curling incense to the skies.
In QUITO chief, their monarch’s bright abode,
They in distinguish’d state adore the God.
High o’er the subject town his temple stands,
And seems the work of more than mortal hands.
Here thick as stars the vivid diamonds blaze,
And golden suns emit their dazzling rays:
The splendid roof, with burnish’d silver bright,
Steams from afar, and strikes the wondering sight.
The holy priesthood, all of regal race,
On golden altars purest offerings place;
The fairest fruits and cakes of finest grain:
No bloody rites the spotless shrines profane.
Twelve beauteous virgins, of the royal line,
With pious awe attend the rites divine.
Their lucid robes in waves redundant flow,
Bright as the moon, and white as falling snow;
The ample folds a mystic zone confines;
With stars emblaz’d the radiant circle shines.
A dazzling sun on each fair bosom glows;
The brightest gems its mimic rays compose;
Their flowing tresses flowery chaplets bind,
And soft in graceful ringlets fall behind.
As near ALONZO to the city drew,
The stately fabric struck his wondering view:
Towers, temples, domes in gay confusion rise,
And raise their glittering summits to the skies.
His generous soul with tender pity glows,
While down his cheek a stream of sorrow flows.
O righteous heaven! he deeply sighing said,
Shall these fair dwellings in the dust be laid?
I hear the helpless matron’s dying groans;
I see their infants dash’d against the stones:
The wretched people midst the ruin fall;
And death and desolation cover all.
O God! these ills avert, my aims approve,
And guard this people with a parent’s love.
Now twilight spread her mantle o’er the skies,
And hid the stranger’s form from prying eyes.
Arriv’d, before the palace-gate he stands,
And free admittance to the king demands.
The generous prince, whose unsuspecting soul
No guilty fears, nor coward’s doubts control;
Who felt himself the friend of human kind,
And therefore fear’d in none a foe to find;
Whose virtues, like firm guards, defend his breast;
Admits with confidence the stranger-guest.
His kingly form the stranger-guest admir’d,
With reverend awe and filial love inspir’d.
The king with equal love the youth survey’d,
By nature’s hand in every grace array’d.
His form the towering cedar of the grove;
His eyes the radiance of the star of love:
His cheeks th’ unsullied rose of youth display;
Round his fair front his ebon tresses play:
Her finest polish culture’s hand bestow’d,
And the full piece with perfect beauty glow’d.
Mildly the king began: O youth unknown,
Of form and feature so unlike our own;
Say, what wide regions hast thou wander’d o’er?
What wonderous chance has brought thee to our shore?
ALONZO thus return’d: Great king, whose sway
The happy nations of the south obey,
Far, distant far, my native country lies,
And other stars beholds and other skies.
Tho’ nature’s choicest gifts enrich my home,
Yet curst ambition taught her sons to roam;
Myself, the associate of a desperate band,
In hour ill-fated left my natal land.
Immeasurable seas we travers’d o’er;
And reach’d at last devoted INDIA’S shore.
The helpless natives fell an easy prey,
And blood and ruin mark’d our dreadful way.
But, ah! my faltering tongue relates with pain
Their cruel wrongs, and our eternal stain:
The sacred temples of their Gods o’erturn’d;
Their virgins ravish’d, and their cities burn’d;
Their captive monarchs dragg’d in shameful chains,
Or slow expiring midst the torture’s pains.
Here let me draw oblivion’s darkest veil,
Nor wound thee further with so sad a tale.
Each art I tried their fury to oppose,
And strove to lessen wretched INDIA’S woes.
In vain, alas! unable to endure
The sight of miseries I could not cure,
With horrour fill’d I fled the guilty train,
While ties of blood and country pled in vain.
These dogs of war now hither bend their way,
And mark thee out already for their prey.
What wilds, what mountains have I wander’d o’er,
With painful steps to reach this distant shore;
The envenom’d serpent’s deadly haunts explor’d,
And plung’d in gulfs, where foaming cataracts roar’d;
To show what gathering storms around thee frown,
And threat thy people’s ruin and thine own.
If, as loud fame reports, I pleas’d shall find,
That every kingly virtue fills thy mind;
That in thy people’s good thou find’st thine own,
The sordid tyrant’s selfish views unknown
That mild benevolence hath fram’d thy laws,
And justice from thy throne oppression awes;
My heart and fortune I with thine unite.
Thy friend in council, and thy chief in fight.
For all thy threaten’d dangers well I know;
The arts, the courage of thy ruthless foe.
But if injustice marks thy guilty reign;
If injur’d innocence complains in vain;
Illegal robbers lord it o’er the land,
And force the hard-won bread from labour’s hand;
If bloody rites thy cruel Gods require,
And slaughter’d captives at their shrines expire;
Henceforth I fly the hated haunts of men,
And seek the desert and the lonely den;
In solitary wildness waste the day,
Or, join’d with tigers, rend my bloody prey.
O sacred truth! without the aid of art;
Thy voice resistless wins the human heart.
Tho’ strange the tale, the king its truth confess’d;
Clasp’d in his own, ALONZO’S hand he press’d:
Welcome, he cried, my warriour and my friend,
To guide in councils, and in camps defend.
Thy words confess, within thy youthful mind
The hero’s fire with temperate wisdom join’d:
But heaven, when great achievements are decreed,
Still forms the hero for the destin’d deed.
But now, releas’d from former toils and care,
Let strengthening food thy wasted powers repair
In balmy sleep awhile forget thy woes,
And taste secure the blessings of repose.
While sunk in sleep his couch ALONZO press’d,
A weight of woes o’erwhelms the monarch’s breast:
He fears his people’s ills, he fears his own;
Grief follows grief, and groan succeeds to groan.
At length religion to his view display’d
The cheering hope of heaven’s protective aid.
Pleas’d he resolves, when night’s pale lamps retire,
To seek the sacred temple of his sire,
And there his suppliant vows and offerings pay
To him, the glorious ruler of the day;
Implore him to avert the threaten’d fate,
And smile propitious on his once lov’d state.
Soon as the orient glow’d with early red,
The anxious king forsook his wakeful bed.
Instant the priests are summon’d to prepare
The holy rites of sacrifice and pray’r.
The pious monarch seeks the sacred fane;
His kindred Incas form a solemn train;
Whilst, with distinguish’d marks of honour grac’d,
ALONZO near the royal hand was plac’d.
With gold and gems the splendid temple blaz’d;
High rose the roof, on silver columns rais’d.
Full in the centre shone the lord of day;
Around him rolling on their devious way,
Thro’ many a winding maze the attendant planets stray.
First of the train is vivid Mercury seen,
And next the star of love’s celestial queen.
Then the fair Earth, with verdure crown’d, appears;
A middle course the happy planet steers;
Nor in too fierce a blaze intense she glows,
Nor distant freezes in eternal snows.
Still by her side, the radiant queen of night
Sheds o’er her darken’d hours a friendly light,
When in the blue expanse she glows serene,
And with a milder lustre gilds the scene.
His fiery beams wide darting from afar,
Shines the bright planet of the God of war.
Still further Jupiter’s huge form appears;
His varied sides the unceasing tempest tears:
Four silver moons their circuits round him run,
Whose fainter light supplies the absent sun.
Far wider still, immers’d in cold and night,
Pale Saturn sheds abroad a bluish light.
Five radiant moons around his orb are born,
Whose gloomy sides two shining zones adorn;
Their borrow’d beams a lambent light display,
And cheer his darkness with a feeble ray.
While round him, as a guard in awful state,
The inferior priests and holy virgins wait,
High in the midst the sovereign pontiff stands,
And thus his God adores with lifted hands:
Thou! round whose throne eternal splendours shine,
The boundless empire of the skies is thine.
Thou! pride of heaven, from whose bright presence flow
Life, beauty, warmth, and every bliss below;
Where now are fled those twinkling orbs of light,
That spangled-o’er the gloomy veil of night?
When from the vast expanse thy beams retire,
Thou bad’st them light their ineffectual fire:
In the full blaze of thy effulgence drown’d,
No more their place in yon bright arch is found.
As now they sink beneath thy potent eye,
So may thy people’s foes confounded fly:
Our prayers accept, all threaten’d ills remove,
And guard our sovereign with a parent’s love.
The sacred virgins next their voices raise,
And thus the God in songs of rapture praise:
Soul of the world! didst thou thine aid deny,
Eternal shades would hide yon azure sky;
The fertile earth become a barren waste,
Amidst a gloomy void of darkness plac’d;
Thy genial warmth the face of nature cheers;
Thro’ all her various bounds delight appears.
The yielding deep in liquid silver flows;
The moistened air with balmy sweetness glows;
The melting clouds descend in kindly show’rs;
Prolific earth unbounded plenty pours.
Oh! may thy smiles propitious round us shine,
And still a grateful people’s praise be thine;
Those dreaded ills avert, that round us threat,
And save us from the frowns of angry fate.
The virgins ceas’d; yet still ALONZO’S ear,
With fond delight enraptur’d, seem’d to hear;
Beauty and harmony their charms unite,
His soul to ravish, and his eyes delight.
But one, divinely fair above the rest,
With rapturous tumults fir’d his youthful breast.
With equal love and equal charms inspir’d,
The beauteous nymph the stranger’s form admir’d.
Low to the ground her timid eyes she throws,
An ashy paleness now her cheeks disclose,
And now the blushes of the crimson rose.
While yet her feeble limbs their powers retain,
She seeks to hide her midst the virgin-train.
O God of light! she softly sighing said,
What wondrous transports all my soul invade!
Say, of what magic powers art thou possess’d,
Too lovely youth, whose image fills my breast?
Now from the finish’d rites, in solemn state,
The attending Incas on their monarch wait;
And slow retiring from the sacred fane,
The virgins seek their calm recess again;
Where gentle CORA , so was nam’d the fair,
Had pass’d a life devoid of joy or care.
The listless evening scarcely brought repose;
On the dull morn the day unwish’d-for rose.
No golden dreams of pleasure sooth’d her rest;
No hope now flutter’d o’er her languid breast;
Cold as the fleeces of the ALPINE snow,
And smooth as lakes, whose waters never flow.
But, ah! no longer is her still retreat
Of calm indifference the peaceful seat.
It seems a dreadful prison, that surrounds
A wretch reluctant in its hated bounds.
To the dear absent youth in melting strains
She tells her fond desires and tender pains;
Deep in her memory imprints each grace,
The form majestic, and the beauteous face.
And must, she cries, must all these dreams of love
Like shadows flit, and still delusive prove?
Why did I view those charms I must adore,
If now condemn’d to bless my sight no more?
Yet, Oh! ere death for ever close these eyes,
Come, my beloved, and hear my latest sighs;
View the dire ravage of thy fatal charms,
And let me breathe my last within thine arms.
Tho’ here confin’d my wretched form remains,
My soul indignant all restraint disdains:
Still, still to thee it flies with fond delight;
Nor bolts, nor walls our hearts can disunite.
Thy form alone creative fancy sees,
And hears thy voice in every passing breeze.
Oh! could my fond ideas real prove,
And one blest moment grant me all thy love;
I for that moment life would freely give,
And when you ceas’d to love, would cease to live.
All-gracious power, canst thou enjoy my pain,
And hear well pleas’d a hapless wretch complain?
Thou know’st the fatal vow, by which I’m tied;
My lips confess’d it, but my tongue denied;
Forc’d to obey, too fearful to oppose,
Tho’ nature’s voice against compulsion rose.
Oh! break the fatal band, and leave me free;
Unwilling votaries are unworthy thee.
Too fond, too frail my feelings to subdue,
One glance, alas! my weak resolves o’erthrew:
Nor vows, nor dread of death my soul restrain,
And reason lifts her feeble voice in vain.
Now pale, extended on the ground she lay,
And clos’d her weeping eyes to shun the day:
Asham’d to view the God she had betray’d,
She wish’d in darkest night her guilt to shade.
But soon ALONZO to her thought returns;
Anew the flame with force resistless burns;
Anew the swelling tide of sorrow flows,
While thus in wild complaints she breathes her woes:
What fatal rashness, barbarous sire, was thine?
What equal rashness, wretched maid, was mine?
Why didst thou force me from thine aged side?
Why in a prison’s gloom thy daughter hide?
I would have watch’d thy wishes as they rose,
Thy toils divided, and have sooth’d thy woes;
Blended with mine an husband’s cares and fears,
And propp’d with tenderness thy drooping years.
As the young scions lift their verdant head,
And round the aged trunk their freshness spread;
So, blooming round thee, had thy joyful eyes
Beheld from us a youthful race arise.
Ah! vain delusion! never shall mine ear
The fond, the sacred name of mother hear:
No child of mine these eyes shall ever see,
Hang on thine arm, or twine around thy knee.
For me in vain the stream of pleasure flows,
Lost to the sweetest joys that nature knows
Beauty and youth, her choicest gifts, are vain,
And life itself is one continu’d pain.
That rapid lightning, whose pervading fires
In youthful bosoms kindle fond desires,
With force resistless lanc’d its keenest dart
At once thro’ CORA’S and ALONZO’S heart.
Struck with a thousand nameless charms, he gaz’d,
Till thro’ his soul the flame triumphant blaz’d;
Her flowery age, her sweet bewitching face,
Her rapture-moving voice, her modest grace.
The sacred rites reluctant he surveys,
And envies ev’n the power to whom she prays.
Long as the beauteous vision bless’d his sight,
His eyes insatiate rov’d with fond delight:
When seen no more, the pensive youth retires,
And carries in his breast the hopeless fires;
Impatient, restless, nought has power to please,
Nor friends, nor solitude his anguish ease:
Those objects, once so dear, seem tasteless all,
And scarce his bosom beats at glory’s call.
Resolv’d at last, his reason’s aid he claims,
Abjures his passion, and his madness blames.
But weak is reason, weak are efforts found;
He tugs the dart, but deeper makes the wound.
One tender glance had fatally inspir’d
Delusive hopes, that all his wishes fir’d.
Her solemn vow, the cloister’s lofty wall,
A watchful guard, in vain his heart appal.
He view’d them all, and all their power confess’d;
But when doth hope desert the lover’s breast?
Yes; ’tis denied me to possess her charms;
A dreadful vow excludes me from her arms;
Yet to explore her wishes in her eyes,
Nor priest, nor vow that harmless bliss denies.
If, as she knows I love, she love imparts,
What mutual joys will then unite our hearts!
But time at length his wandering sense restor’d;
He saw his guilty passion and abhorr’d.
What! midst a pious, hospitable race,
Shall he religion’s sacred laws disgrace?
A virtuous monarch, and his dearest friend,
Shall he with sacrilegious rage offend?
But, ah! far more than all, shall he expose
The dear-lov’d object to the worst of woes?
Shall he behold in infamy expire
The wretched victim of his rash desire?
Love at the dread idea trembling fled;
And hope dejected hung her pensive head:
Virtue anew resum’d her rightful sway,
And taught reluctant passion to obey.
One evening, to assuage his tender woes,
And sooth the love-sick pangs that yet arose,
By chance directed, or by love betray’d,
The youth approach’d the consecrated shade,
That hid from view his lost lamented maid.
The sun was set, and o’er the dazzling blue
Her shadowy mantle gentle twilight threw.
Thick rows of trees, whose summits sought the skies,
Struck with a reverend awe the gazer’s eyes:
The arching boughs, that shunn’d the noontide glare,
On all around diffus’d a solemn air.
This scene the youth with kindling transport view’d,
And felt his fond desires at once renew’d.
And art thou there, for ever dear, he cries?
O envious shades! that hide thee from mine eyes.
Ye happy gales, that round my fair one play,
Soft to her ear her lover’s sighs convey;
Tell her, while peace to her each morning brings,
And gentle slumbers wait on evening’s wings;
Of her bereft, he solitary strays,
And wastes in hopeless wretchedness his days.
But, ah! perhaps she too like me complains;
Nor love, nor pity dare to break her chains.
High are these hated walls, severe her spies;
But love like mine these feeble bars defies.
‘Twere brave, ’twere generous sure, in such a cause,
To burst these gates, and scorn a tyrant’s laws.
But, trembling at the deed, which love inspir’d,
To reason’s voice he listen’d, and retir’d.
Just heaven! he cries, is this the glorious aim,
For which to these far distant climes I came?
Profess’d a hero, pious, just and brave;
Now a vile ravisher, his passion’s slave?
Thus struggling virtue yet her rights maintain’d,
And soon triumphant o’er his soul had reign’d,
But envious fate a snare too powerful laid,
And brought to dying love compassion’s aid.
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Based on Keywords: compulsion, ineffectual, erthrew, pled, admittance, erwhelms, envenom, ravisher, explor, rashness, horrour