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Behold the hall where chiefs were late convened !
Oh! dome displeasing unto British eye!
With diadem hight foolscap, lo! a fiend,
A little fiend that scoffs incessantly,
There sits in parchment robe array’d, and by
His side is hung a seal and sable scroll,
Where blazon'd 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
That foild the knights in Marialva's dome:
Of brains (if brains they had) he them beguiled,
And turn'd a nation's shallow joy to gloom.
Here Folly dash'd to earth the victor's plume,
And Policy regain’d what arms had lost :
For chiefs like ours in vain
laurels bloom ! Woe to the conquering, not the conquer'd host, Since baffled Triumph droops on Lusitania's coast !
And ever since that martial synod met,
Britannia sickens, Cintra ! at thy name ;
And folks in office at the mention fret,
And fain would blush, if blush they could, for shame.
How will posterity the deed proclaim !
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 deem'd the Childe, as o'er the mountains he
Did take his way in solitary guise :
Sweet was the scene, yet soon he thought to flee,
More restless than the swallow in the skies :
Though here awhile he learn’d to moralise,
For Meditation fix'd at times on him ;
And conscious Reason whisper'd to despise
His early youth, misspent in maddest whim ;
But as he gazed on Truth his aching eyes grew dim.
To horse! to horse! he quits, for ever quits
A scene of peace, though soothing to his soul :
Again he rouses from his moping fits,
But seeks not now the harlot and the bowl.
Onward he flies, nor fix'd as yet the goal
Where he shall rest him on his pilgrimage ;
And o'er him many changing scenes must roll
Ere toil his thirst for travel can assuage,
Or he shall calm his breast, or learn experience sage.
Yet Mafra shall one moment claim.delay,
Where dwelt of yore the Lusian's luckless queen;
And church and court did mingle their array,
And mass and revel were alternate seen;
Lordlings and freres-ill-sorted fry I ween!
But here the Babylonian whore hath built
A dome, where flaunts she in such glorious sheen,
That men forget the blood which she hath spilt,
And bow the knee to Pomp that loves to varnish Guilt.
O'er vales that teem with fruits, romantic hills,
(Oh, that such hills upheld a freeborn race!)
Whereon to gaze the eye with joyaunce fills,
Childe Harold wends through many a pleasant place.
Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chace,
And marvel men should quit their easy chair,
The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace,
Oh! there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And life, that bloated Ease can never hope to share.
More bleak to view the hills at length recede,
And, less luxuriant, smoother vales extend:
Immense horizon-bounded plains succeed !
Far as the eye discerns, withouten end,
Spain's realms appear whereon her shepherds tend
Flocks, whose rich fleece right well the trader knows--
Now must the pastor's arm his lambs defend :
For Spain is compass’d by unyielding foes,
And all must shield their all, or share Subjection's woes.
Where Lusitania and her sister meet,
Deem ye what bounds the rival realms divide?
Or ere the jealous queens of nations greet,
Doth Tayo interpose his mighty tide ?
Or dark Sierras rise in craggy pride?
Or fence of art, like China's vasty wall?—
Ne barrier wall, ne river deep and wide,
Ne horrid crags, nor mountains dark and tall,
Rise like the rocks that part Hispania's land from Gaul :
But these between a silver streamlet glides,
And scarce a name distinguisheth the brook,
Though rival kingdoms press its verdant sides.
Here leans the idle shepherd on his crook,
And vacant on the rippling waves doth look,
That peaceful still ’twixt bitterest foemen flow;
For proud each peasant as the noblest duke:
Well doth the Spanish hind the difference know
'Twixt him and Lusian slave, the lowest of the low.
But ere the mingling bounds have far been pass’d,
Dark Guadiana rolls his power along
In sullen billows, murmuring and vast,
So noted ancient roundelays among.
Whilome upon his banks did legions throng
Of Moor and knight, in mailed splendour drest:
Here ceased the swift their race, here sunk the strong ;
The Paynim turban and the Christian crest
Mix'd on the bleeding stream, by floating hosts opprest.
Oh, lovely Spain! renown'd, romantic land !
Where is that standard which Pelagio bore,
When Cava's traitor-sire first call'd the band
That dyed thy mountain streams with Gothic gore?
Where are those bloody banners which of yore
Waved o’er thy sons, victorious to the gale,
And drove at last the spoilers to their shore?
Red gleam'd the cross, and waned the crescent pale, While Afric's echoes thrill'd with Moorish matrons' wail.
Teems not each ditty with the glorious tale?
Ah! such, alas ! the hero's amplest fate !
When granite moulders and when records fail,
A peasant's plaint prolongs his dubious date.
Pride! bend thine eye from heaven to thine estate,
See how the Mighty shrink into a song!
Can Volume, Pillar, Pile preserve thee great?
Or must thou trust Tradition's simple tongue,
When Flattery sleeps with thee, and History does thee