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CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE

(SEE THE CHRONICLE OF GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH AND MILTON'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND)

          WHERE be the temples which, in Britain's Isle,
          For his paternal Gods, the Trojan raised?
          Gone like a morning dream, or like a pile
          Of clouds that in cerulean ether blazed!
          Ere Julius landed on her white-cliffed shore,
              They sank, delivered o'er
          To fatal dissolution; and, I ween,
          No vestige then was left that such had ever been.

          Nathless, a British record (long concealed
          In old Armorica, whose secret springs                       10
          No Gothic conqueror ever drank) revealed
          The marvellous current of forgotten things;
          How Brutus came, by oracles impelled,
              And Albion's giants quelled,
          A brood whom no civility could melt,
          "Who never tasted grace, and goodness ne'er had felt."

          By brave Corineus aided, he subdued,
          And rooted out the intolerable kind;
          And this too-long-polluted land imbued
          With goodly arts and usages refined;                        20
          Whence golden harvests, cities, warlike towers,
              And pleasure's sumptuous bowers;
          Whence all the fixed delights of house and home,
          Friendships that will not break, and love that cannot roam.

          O, happy Britain! region all too fair
          For self-delighting fancy to endure
          That silence only should inhabit there,
          Wild beasts, or uncouth savages impure!
          But, intermingled with the generous seed,
              Grew many a poisonous weed;                             30
          Thus fares it still with all that takes its birth
          From human care, or grows upon the breast of earth.

          Hence, and how soon! that war of vengeance waged
          By Guendolen against her faithless lord;
          Till she, in jealous fury unassuaged
          Had slain his paramour with ruthless sword:
          Then, into Severn hideously defiled,
              She flung her blameless child,
          Sabrina,--vowing that the stream should bear
          That name through every age, her hatred to declare.         40

          So speaks the Chronicle, and tells of Lear
          By his ungrateful daughters turned adrift.
          Ye lightnings, hear his voice!--they cannot hear,
          Nor can the winds restore his simple gift.
          But One there is, a Child of nature meek,
              Who comes her Sire to seek;
          And he, recovering sense, upon her breast
          Leans smilingly, and sinks into a perfect rest.

          There too we read of Spenser's fairy themes,
          And those that Milton loved in youthful years;              50
          The sage enchanter Merlin's subtle schemes;
          The feats of Arthur and his knightly peers;
          Of Arthur,--who, to upper light restored,
              With that terrific sword
          Which yet he brandishes for future war,
          Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star!

          What wonder, then, if in such ample field
          Of old tradition, one particular flower
          Doth seemingly in vain its fragrance yield,
          And bloom unnoticed even to this late hour?                 60
          Now, gentle Muses, your assistance grant,
              While I this flower transplant
          Into a garden stored with Poesy;
          Where flowers and herbs unite, and haply some weeds be,
          That, wanting not wild grace, are from all mischief free!

            A KING more worthy of respect and love
          Than wise Gorbonian ruled not in his day;
          And grateful Britain prospered far above
          All neighbouring countries through his righteous sway;
          He poured rewards and honours on the good;                  70
              The oppressor he withstood;
          And while he served the Gods with reverence due
          Fields smiled, and temples rose, and towns and cities grew.

          He died, whom Artegal succeeds--his son;
          But how unworthy of that sire was he!
          A hopeful reign, auspiciously begun,
          Was darkened soon by foul iniquity.
          From crime to crime he mounted, till at length
              The nobles leagued their strength
          With a vexed people, and the tyrant chased;                 80
          And, on the vacant throne, his worthier Brother placed.

          From realm to realm the humbled Exile went,
          Suppliant for aid his kingdom to regain;
          In many a court, and many a warrior's tent,
          He urged his persevering suit in vain.
          Him, in whose wretched heart ambition failed,
              Dire poverty assailed;
          And, tired with slights his pride no more could brook,
          He towards his native country cast a longing look.

          Fair blew the wished-for wind--the voyage sped;             90
          He landed; and, by many dangers scared,
          "Poorly provided, poorly followed,"
          To Calaterium's forest he repaired.
          How changed from him who, born to highest place,
              Had swayed the royal mace,
          Flattered and feared, despised yet deified,
          In Troynovant, his seat by silver Thames's side!

          From that wild region where the crownless King
          Lay in concealment with his scanty train,
          Supporting life by water from the spring,                  100
          And such chance food as outlaws can obtain,
          Unto the few whom he esteems his friends
              A messenger he sends;
          And from their secret loyalty requires
          Shelter and daily bread,--the sum of his desires.

          While he the issue waits, at early morn
          Wandering by stealth abroad, he chanced to hear
          A startling outcry made by hound and horn,
          From which the tusky wild boar flies in fear;
          And, scouring toward him o'er the grassy plain,            110
              Behold the hunter train!
          He bids his little company advance
          With seeming unconcern and steady countenance.

          The royal Elidure, who leads the chase,
          Hath checked his foaming courser:--can it be!
          Methinks that I should recognise that face,
          Though much disguised by long adversity!
          He gazed rejoicing, and again he gazed,
              Confounded and amazed--
          "It is the king, my brother!" and, by sound                120
          Of his own voice confirmed, he leaps upon the ground.

          Long, strict, and tender was the embrace he gave,
          Feebly returned by daunted Artegal;
          Whose natural affection doubts enslave,
          And apprehensions dark and criminal.
          Loth to restrain the moving interview,
              The attendant lords withdrew;
          And, while they stood upon the plain apart,
          Thus Elidure, by words, relieved his struggling heart.

          "By heavenly Powers conducted, we have met;                130
          --O Brother! to my knowledge lost so long,
          But neither lost to love, nor to regret,
          Nor to my wishes lost;--forgive the wrong,
          (Such it may seem) if I thy crown have borne,
              Thy royal mantle worn:
          I was their natural guardian; and 'tis just
          That now I should restore what hath been held in trust."

          A while the astonished Artegal stood mute,
          Then thus exclaimed: "To me, of titles shorn,
          And stripped of power! me, feeble, destitute,              140
          To me a kingdom! spare the bitter scorn:
          If justice ruled the breast of foreign kings,
              Then, on the wide-spread wings
          Of war, had I returned to claim my right;
          This will I here avow, not dreading thy despite."

          "I do not blame thee," Elidure replied;
          "But, if my looks did with my words agree,
          I should at once be trusted, not defied,
          And thou from all disquietude be free.
          May the unsullied Goddess of the chase,                    150
              Who to this blessed place
          At this blest moment led me, if I speak
          With insincere intent, on me her vengeance wreak!

          "Were this same spear, which in my hand I grasp.
          The British sceptre, here would I to thee
          The symbol yield; and would undo this clasp,
          If it confined the robe of sovereignty.
          Odious to me the pomp of regal court,
              And joyless sylvan sport,
          While thou art roving, wretched and forlorn,               160
          Thy couch the dewy earth, thy roof the forest thorn!"

          Then Artegal thus spake: "I only sought,
          Within this realm a place of safe retreat;
          Beware of rousing an ambitious thought;
          Beware of kindling hopes, for me unmeet!
          Thou art reputed wise, but in my mind
              Art pitiably blind:
          Full soon this generous purpose thou may'st rue,
          When that which has been done no wishes can undo.

          "Who, when a crown is fixed upon his head,                 170
          Would balance claim with claim, and right with right?
          But thou--I know not how inspired, how led--
          Wouldst change the course of things in all men's sight!
          And this for one who cannot imitate
              Thy virtue, who may hate:
          For, if, by such strange sacrifice restored,
          He reign, thou still must be his king, and sovereign lord;

          "Lifted in magnanimity above
          Aught that my feeble nature could perform,
          Or even conceive; surpassing me in love                    180
          Far as in power the eagle doth the worm.
          I, Brother! only should be king in name,
              And govern to my shame;
          A shadow in a hated land, while all
          Of glad or willing service to thy share would fall."

          "Believe it not," said Elidure; "respect
          Awaits on virtuous life, and ever most
          Attends on goodness with dominion decked,
          Which stands the universal empire's boast;
          This can thy own experience testify:                       190
              Nor shall thy foes deny
          That, in the gracious opening of thy reign,
          Our father's spirit seemed in thee to breathe again.

          "And what if o'er thy bright unbosoming
          Clouds of disgrace and envious fortune past!
          Have we not seen the glories of the spring
          By veil of noontide darkness overcast?
          The frith that glittered like a warrior's shield,
              The sky, the gay green field,
          Are vanished; gladness ceases in the groves,               200
          And trepidation strikes the blackened mountain-coves.

          "But is that gloom dissolved? how passing clear
          Seems the wide world, far brighter than before!
          Even so thy latent worth will re-appear,
          Gladdening the people's heart from shore to shore;
          For youthful faults ripe virtues shall atone;
              Re-seated on thy throne,
          Proof shalt thou furnish that misfortune, pain,
          And sorrow, have confirmed thy native right to reign.

          "But, not to overlook what thou may'st know,               210
          Thy enemies are neither weak nor few;
          And circumspect must be our course, and slow
          Or from my purpose ruin may ensue.
          Dismiss thy followers;--let them calmly wait
              Such change in thy estate
          As I already have in thought devised;
          And which, with caution due, may soon be realised."

          The Story tells what courses were pursued,
          Until king Elidure, with full consent
          Of all his peers, before the multitude,                    220
          Rose,--and, to consummate this just intent,
          Did place upon his brother's head the crown,
              Relinquished by his own;
          Then to his people cried, "Receive your lord,
          Gorbonian's first-born son, your rightful king restored!"

          The people answered with a loud acclaim:
          Yet more;--heart-smitten by the heroic deed,
          The reinstated Artegal became
          Earth's noblest penitent; from bondage freed
          Of vice--thenceforth unable to subvert                     230
              Or shake his high desert.
          Long did he reign; and, when he died, the tear
          Of universal grief bedewed his honoured bier.

          Thus was a Brother by a Brother saved;
          With whom a crown (temptation that hath set
          Discord in hearts of men till they have braved
          Their nearest kin with deadly purpose met)
          'Gainst duty weighed, and faithful love, did seem
              A thing of no esteem;
          And, from this triumph of affection pure,                  240
          He bore the lasting name of "pious Elidure."
                                                              1815.


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