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SONGS OF THE CRUSADES.
THE RECREANT EARL.
Stephen, Earl of Chartres and Blaii, deserted the Christian prince* before Antioch, in the first Crusade, and returned to France. His countess, Adcla, daughter of William the Conqueror, received him with bitter reproaches: shamed by her taunts, he returned to Palestine, and fell in a battle with a body of Ethiop cavalry, near Ramula.
'TiB the pleasant time of the vintage, In the sunny vales of France,
From the bending olive's loaded boughs There falleth an amber shower.
Lo I the ripened harvest stoops to earth,
But the reaper, where is he?
'Till the ruddy flood runs free;
In a land beyond the sea.
For the princely Hugh of Vermandois
His way to the East hath ta'en,
On the blood-dyedfields of Spain —
To ride in the baron's train.
The peasant maiden wends forth alone
To muse in the twilight dim;
And tears in her dark eyes swim —
'Neath the steel of a Paynim grim.
Within proud Earl Chartres' fortalice
Unheard is the shout of the busy thrall,
No faggots blaze in the banquet hall,
The untrodden soil of the tilting-ground
The red deer heareth no hunter's whoop,
And the heron fears not the falcon's stoop,
O'er the warderless walls no longer streams
The badge of a noble line,
Hath assumed the crimson sign,
O'er the deserts of Palestine.
The countess paces the rampart wall
With a quick step to and fro; Her proud eyes flash with unwonted light, And her blushes come and go: 'T was the palmer, who sought her bower last night, With his tidings moved her so.
What sound was that? 'T was the tramp of steeds
The dust by their hoofs up-ploughed,
Comes on like a flying cloud;
Spears flash o'er its curling shroud.
Onward it sweeps! — 't is dissolving—gone!
For each knight hath slacked his rein •,
Waits a mailed and bannered train;
Returned from the wars again.
The draw-bridge drops, and a knight sweeps o'er, As his palfrey's hoofs were wings;
And his rein to a vassal flings;But a moment more, and his armfd heel
On the step of the turret rings.
Lightly he leaps up the winding stair— He hath sprung to his lady's side:
Her red lip curls with imperial scorn,
1 Nay, Adela, blame not — the cause is lost;
'T is no human foe I dread,
O'er Famine's unburied dead:
Are the Christian warriors fed.
'The beleaguring lines round Antioch Are by human spectres trod —
'Be still, blasphemer! — e'en such as thou
Have kindled Jehovah's wrath;
Is weak as a sword of lath:
When a lion crossed thy pathT
'Thoulouse, and the gallant Bohemond,
And Bouillon's peerless lord—
At the groaning banquet-board?
'Nay, touch me not! The untempered blood
Of the iron Gothic race,
Rusheth boiling to my face;
Dishonor and foul disgrace!
'Recover thy fame in the Holy Land;
For I swear by St. Denys shrine,
Lies the only way to mine;
Ere a husband's rights are thine!'
Now shame in the breast of the baron stirs,
And he maketb brief reply:
I will cleave the way — or die!
Should my bones in the desert he.'
'Tis morn! The beams of the risen sun
In bewildering flashes play
Plumed helmet, and pennon gay,
The knights in their rich array.
Aloft on the crowning beacon tower, Stands Earl Chartres' haughty dame sNot e'en the thought of her husband's death _
Can her lion spirit tame: • Jk v'If he fall't is in heaven's cause,' she saith,'And 'tis better death than shame.'
A corse, 'neath the walls of Ramula,
Lieth festering in the sun:
There kneeleth a matron nun.
And the Church hath a daughter won.
Srevt-York, March, 1836. J- "
EFFECTS OF OPIUM.
The number of devotees to this drug of delicious delirium has of late very much diminished; not that there is less misfortune or wretchedness to be soothed or forgotten, but that wine, which ever maketh the heart of man glad, has been clandestinely substituted in its place. Whether the intellect, morality or health of the community has profited by the change, I leave to the decision of those who have had wider opportunities of witnessing the effects of both. My own conviction is, that if a man will take to stimulants, the juice of the poppy is as harmless as any other source of excitement; and then it has this strong recommendation, it never makes a man foolish, it never casts a man into a ditch, or under the table; it never deprives him of his wits or his legs. It allows a man to be a gentleman; it makes him visionary, but his visions create no noise, no riots; they deal no blows, blacken no one's eyes, and frighten no one's peace. It is the most quiet and unoffending relief to which the desponding and distressed, who have no higher resource, can appeal.
I should want no stronger evidence of this, than the immediate effects onthose whom I once sawusing it at Constantinople. The change which diffused itself through the countenance, limbs, and gait, was like the resuscitation of the dying to the energies and happiness of a fresh life. You could hardly persuade yourself that the man who now moved before you with a light elastic tread, and an eye kindling with secret rapture, was the same who a short time since approached with a faltering, feeble* ^ step, scarcely able to sustain himself upon his cane, and the arm of a lessr ?£»• withered friend, while every feature seemed settled in that unrelieved despair which might make a word of hope sound like a mockery, -v Such was the change, such the total renovation produced, that one ignorant of the depression and despondency into which this dreaming, delicious excitement, if unrenewed, must ultimately sink, might have supposed that the tree of life had been discovered, and the immortal ambrosia of its fruits enjoyed. But as weariness will the sooner overtake the forced wing of the eagle, so depression will only the deeper weigh down the heart that has thus been too elated. The even stream pursues its way in cheerfulness and light, through smiling valleys to the deeper wave of the ocean and the lake, while the mountain torrent that foams from the cliff, though there it may have worn all the hues of heaven, only plunges, perhaps, into some wild and sunless glen, whose solitude is never cheered by the tints of breaking day, or the song of early birds.
Few men, however, pass through life without testing some source of promised health and happiness beyond the quiet motion of the heart. My imagination was once so kindled, by the perusal of a little book called the 'Opium-Eater,' that I resolved to put its pleasing assurances to a practical test. So, sending to an apothecary's shop, I procured two enormous doses of the precious drug. One was taken by my young companion, who had become equally interested in making the experiment, the other by myself.
Vol. Vh. 54
My comrade began immediately to feel extremely particular about the stomach, and soon in a retching agony parted with all his anodynical expectations. My portion stuck fast as original sin; and I shortly lapsed into a disturbed slumber, in which it appeared to me that I retained my consciousness entire, while visions passed before me which no language can convey, and no symbols of happiness or terror represent. At one time I was soaring on the pinions of an angel among the splendors of the highest heaven, beholding at a glance the beauty of their unveiled mysteries, and listening to harps and choral symphonies over which, time, sorrow, and death have no power; and then my presumption was checked, my cleaving wings, like the waxen plumes of Icarus, were melted away, and I fell down, down, till caught in the bosom of a thunder cloud, from which I was again hurled, linked to its fiercest bolt upon the plunging verge of a cataract, that carried me down, frantic with horror, into the lowest depth of its howling gulf
Thence again I emerged, with the placidity and power of Neptune over his troubled realm, and driving my watery team over the excited bosom of the ocean, harmonized its elements into the deep bass it sustained in the bursting anthem of the infant world. And then with the fleetness of a disembodied spirit, I seemed to float around just between the incumbent circle of the blue heaven and the sea, discerning within upon the surging plain the motion of innumerable ships skimming the wave with the lightness of the swallow, while without the circle I beheld far down in the twilight and lurid gloom of an immeasurable gulf, the wrecks of worn-out worlds.
Still I floated on upon the frightful verge of the circle, till coming around near the north pole I saw its steadfast star fixed in the darkened change of death; other planets were bending over it; and when they had sung its funeral hymn, they lowered it into a grave so dark, so fathomless and still, that the agonies and convulsions of expiring nature could not disturb its sepulchral sleep. While thinking of the dismayed mariner, rolling his eyes in vain to find his undeviating star, an iceberg with its mountain mass of frozen torrents came rolling on, and catching me in one of its dripping shelves, bore me through seas lashed by the hurricane, convulsed with the war of the whale and sword fish, and where the serpent, struck by lightning, lay troughed between two waves like a huge pine prostrate among the hills.
Being benumbed and paralyzed by the stiffening ice, I fell from my tumbling lodgment, and descending through the sea, was carried by the wave of a submarine current quite within a little grotto, reared of coral and lined with pearls, where a mermaid was gently kindling a fire, beneath whose reviving ray I soon felt each frozen vein and limb slowly tingling back to life — when, as if to reclaim my bewildered thoughts, and soothe their delirious excitement, this daughter of the deep, raising her harp, struck one of those soft strains whose liquid flow melts into the heart like fragrant dew into the bosom of the folding rose.
But scarce had the last note of this sweet minstrel died away into the listening stillness of peace, when a call, loud as the summoning trump of the archangel, sent its rending thunder through the hollow caverns of the astounded ocean, and the rent tombs of the shaking earth, starting even death itself from his sleep. The sheeted dead went up from their watery graves to stand on the sea, while the earth, from precipice to plain,