Page images
PDF
EPUB

XXII.

Thus they beside the fountain sate, of food
And rest forgetful, when a messenger
Summoned Count Julian to the Leader's tent.
In council there at that late hour he found
The assembled Chiefs, on sudden tidings called
Of unexpected weight from Cordoba.
Jealous that Abdalazis had assumed
A regal state, affecting in his court
The forms of Gothic sovereignty, the Moors,
Whom artful spirits of ambitious mould
Stirred up, had risen against him in revolt :
And he who late had in the Caliph's name
Ruled from the Ocean to the Pyrenees,
A mutilate and headless carcase now,
From pitying hands received beside the road
A hasty grave scarce hidden there from dogs

[ocr errors]

And ravens, nor from wintry rains secure.
She, too, who in the wreck of Spain preserved
Her queenly rank, the wife of Roderick first,
Of Abdalazis after, and to both
Alike unhappy, shared the ruin now
Her counsels had brought on; for she had led
The infatuate Moor, in dangerous vauntery,
To these aspiring forms, ..so should he gain
Respect and honour from the Musselmen,
She said, and that the obedience of the Goths
Followed the sceptre. In an evil hour
She gave the counsel, and in evil hour
He lent a willing ear; the popular rage
Fell on them both; and they to whom her name
Had been a mark for mockery and reproach,
Shuddered with human horror at her fate.
Ayub was heading the wild anarchy;
But where the cement of authority
Is wanting, all things there are dislocate:
The mutinous soldiery, by every cry
Of rumour set in wild career, were driven
By every gust of passion, setting up
One hour, what in the impulse of the next,

Equally unreasoning, they destroyed: thus all
Was in misrule where uproar gave the law,
And ere from far Damascus they could learn
The Caliph's pleasure, many a moon must pass.
What should be done? should Abulcacem march
To Cordoba, and in the Caliph's name
Assume the power which to his rank in arms
Rightly devolved, restoring thus the reign
Of order? or pursue with quickened speed
The end of this great armament, and crush
Rebellion first, then to domestic ills
Apply his undivided mind and force
Victorious ? What in this emergency
Was Julian's counsel, Abulcacem asked,
Should they accomplish soon their enterprize?
Or would the insurgent infidels prolong
The contest, seeking by protracted war
To weary them, and trusting in the strength
Of these wild hills ?

Julian replied, The Chief
Of this revolt is wary, resolute,
Of approved worth in war: a desperate part
He for himself deliberately hath chosen,

Confiding in the hereditary love
Borne to him by these hardy mountaineers,
A love which his own noble qualities
Have strengthened so that every heart is his.
When ye can bring them to the open proof
Of battle, ye will find them in his cause
Lavish of life ; but well they know the strength
Of their own fastnesses, the mountain paths
Impervious to pursuit, the vantages
Of rock, and pass, and woodland, and ravine ;
And hardly will ye tempt them to forego
These natural aids wherein they put their trust
As in their stubborn spirit, each alike
Deemed by themselves invincible, and so
By Roman found and Goth,.. beneath whose sway
Slowly persuaded rather than subdued
They came, and still through every change retained
Their manners obstinate and barbarous speech.
My counsel, therefore, is, that we secure
With strong increase of force the adjacent posts,
And chiefly Gegio, leaving them so manned
As may abate the hope of enterprize
Their strength being told. Time in a strife like this

Becomes the ally of those who trust in him :
Make then with Time your covenant.

Old feuds
May disunite the chiefs : some may be gained
By fair entreaty, others by the stroke
Of nature, or of policy, cut off.
This was the counsel which in Cordoba
I offered Abdalazis : in ill hour
Rejecting it, he sent upon this war
His father's faithful friend! Dark are the ways
Of Destiny ! had I been at his side
Old Muza would not now have mourned his age
Left childless, nor had Ayub dared defy
The Caliph's represented power. The case
Calls for thy instant presence, with the weight
Of thy legitimate authority.

Julian, said Orpas, turning from beneath
His turban to the Count a crafty eye,
Thy daughter is returned : doth she not bring
Some tidings of the movements of the foe?
The Count replied, When child and parent meet
First reconciled from discontents which wrung
The hearts of both, ill should their converse be

« PreviousContinue »