Imágenes de páginas

teller in the world out of spirits. But, as we before observed, Danishmende was not so easily discomposed.

All that I intreat of your majesty is, said he, to have the grace not to give me the promised three hundred strokes till I have made an end of my story; for indeed it is not so bad as one might be apt to suppose from the commence


ing, with such a strange. mixture of pride and humility, that he would probably have been refused it, if the laws of hopitality had been held less sacred and inviolable by the inhabitants of these regions. The emir was shewn, with a friendly countenance, into a little hall, where he was asked to sit down on a plain but softcushioned sopha. In a few moments two handsome young slaves appeared, to conduct him to a bath, where, with their assistance, he bathed, was perfumed, and dressed in a simple but neat habit of fine cotton stuff, brocaded with silk flowers. That the time might not pass heavily with him, a neat female slave now entered, of as delicate a form as any he ever had in his harem, having a theorbo in her hand, seated herself over against him, and sung him a song, from the subject of which he could comprehend that the people were glad at the arrival of so agreeable a guest. The emir was more and more at a loss to know what to think of the matter; but the form and the voice of the fair slave (though he was more inclined to take her for a peri, or even for one of the howris of Paradise) left him no leisure for reflection; they, together with the friendly reception he had met with, operated so strongly on his senses, that he imperceptibly forgot all his causes of grief, and all the troubles he had gone through; and, impelled by a gentle

"From all these considerations of the emir (which were too disagreeable and perplexing for its being adviseable to lay them before your majesty), he was at last obliged to take up the resolution to do what, from want of use, appeared to him very hard, namely, to put his legs in motion, and to try whether he could not find a way out of these desert mountains. The sun was descending fast to the horizon when, with a fatigue that is not to be described, he at length reached a place where an avenue presented itself between the hills, and afforded him the view of a valley more charming than even his imagina-violence, resigned himself to the impressions that

were designed to be made on him.

tion could have conceived. The sight of some well-built habitations which protruded between trees of the finest verdure, encouraged him, faint as he was, to summon up his remaining powers, in order to reach them before the setting of the sun. Indeed the whole of the way which he had passed, and that which still lay before him, was not more than a young rustic would run every day, morning and evening, without reJuctance, only to give his sweetheart a kiss, but for the relaxed sinews and marrowless bones of the emir this was a prodigious labour. He was forced to sit down so often to rest and recover his breath, that it was night before he reached the gate of the nearest dwelling, which had the look of a country seat, but only constructed of timber. A delightful murmuring sound of distant music, mingled with vocal airs, and other indications of festive joy which now struck his ear as he approached these dwellings, increased the surprize he felt at finding all this amidst desert mountains. As he had never read any thing but tales of ghosts and fairies, his first thought was, whether all that he saw and heard might not be the work of enchantment. Though this idea at first raised his apprehension, yet all other considerations were soon overpowered by the sentiment of his distress. He knocked; and one of the servants coming to the door, he asked for a night's lodgNo. XIV. Vol. II.

Well, said the Sultan, laughing, tell it then in thy own way; I promise thee that I will not interrupt thee again.

Danishmende arose, threw himself prostrate on the ground before the Sultan, kissed the hem of his bed-coverlet, in testimony of his gratitude for this gracious promise; and then proceeded in his narrative.

"Though this was the wisest resolution, in his circumstances, he could adopt, it must likewise be confessed, that he found himself much at his ease. Scarcely was he dressed, but the person again appeared who had at first admitted him, and without speaking a word, beckoned him to follow. The emir was led into a spacious saloon, illuminated with numerous wax-lights, from whence, as the door opened, there issued the most agreeable edour of sweet giliflowers, violets, pinks, jasmines, and orange blossoms. Here he saw a number of low tables, covered with fine snow-white linen, with borders of elegant needle-work; and round them were placed magnificent sofas, with cushions of the softest down. The middle of the hall swarmed with persons, young and old, of both sexes, who received him with frank and open countenances,. and at the same time filled him with the most agreeable surprise by the majestic beauty of their form and gait, and by an expression of kindness and festivity diffused throughout their whole deportment. In one corner was a placid fountain, where a nymph, who reclined on a piece of rock overgrown with jasmine and moss, poured from her urn a crystal stream into a bason of black marble. The whole saloon was decorated with large festoons and wreaths of flowers which, from


time to time were sprinkled with fresh water by several young females. The whole together formed a delightful scene; but it was not the finest that presented itself to his eyes in this enchanted spot. A venerable old man, with locks of silver white, lay in the attitude of one enjoying a sound and genial repose after labour, on the upper end of the sofa; an old man the like of whom the emir had never before beheld, nor could have thought it possible for such an one to be; serenity and cheerfulness beamed from his still sparkling eyes; eighty years of a happy life had imprinted only some faint furrows on his broad and open front; and the complexion of health, like a late autumnal rose, still bloomed on his friendly checks. This is our father, said some young persons who were near the emir, as they led him up by the hand to the seat of the old man.

"The old man neither rose up nor made any motion significant of that design, but reached out his hand, pressed that of the emir with a force that amazed the latter, and very civilly bade him welcome to his house Yet, says my author, there was in the first look which the old man cast upon the emir, with the civil expression of hospitable philanthropy, a mixture of somewhat that awed the stranger, though he could not well explain to himself how he felt at the time. The old man bade him take his place beside him.-"

I promised not to interrupt thee, Danishmende, said Shah Gebal; but I would be glad to know what could be mingled in the looks of the old man to produce such an effect on the emir?

Gracious sovereign, returned Danishmende, I must confess to your majesty, that I have taken this history from a modern Greek poet, who probably, according to the practice of his tribe, may have added something of his own to the truth, In order to render his picture more interesting. It was a friendly look, said he, but with a little addition of something that was neither contempt nor pity, but a gentle mixture of both; it was, continued he, the look with which a friend of the art regards the mutilated statue of a Praxiteles, mixed with something of the angry scorn with which this amateur would regard the Goth who had mutilated it.

The image is delicate, and gives much scope for reflection, said Nurmahal. Proceed, Danishmende, said the Sultan.

figure in this history, though in fact it is only the person of a spectator. He had been from his youth what is called a decided voluptuary, a man who knew no other end of his existence than to eat, to drink, to amuse himself with his women, and solace himself after such toilsome labour by a repose which consumed about half of the day and night, to awake again to a repo tition of the same employment. To this gross sensuality he united a certain pride which was highly adapted to accelerate the pernicious effects of it; he founded it on the possession of the handsomest women, the best wines, and the most expert cooks of all Asia; but, not content with this, he aimed at being the greatest eater, the greatest drinker, and the greatest hero in another kind of bodily exercise, in which, to his great regret, he was obliged to confess the spar row and the mole to be his masters. When & man has the misfortune to possess, with this perverse species of ambition, all the means for indulging it, he will soon see himself reduced to the necessity of having recourse to pastils of opium and beteroot, to inflammatory liquors and other provocatives. Nature never fails to revenge herself for the affronts that are put upon her, and she is commonly the more cruel in her vengeance the less pretence she has left by her bounty for the justification of our excesses. Accordingly, the emir found himself, with the purest Arabian blood, and the most robust constitution, in his thirtieth year, reduced to the wretched condition which is the middle state between living and dying, tormented by the recollections which might have elevated his pleasures, and condemned to impotent attempts to appease the wrath of nature by the secrets of art to which he was beholden for the prolongation of his exist The skilful cooks, of whom he was so proud, had faithfully contributed all that was in their power at once to destroy his health and to debilitate the organs of sense; in proportion as the difficulty of exciting his palled appetite increased, they redoubled their destructive zeal to conquer it by the efficacy of their art. But their inventions had seldom any better effect than to make him pay by tedious hours of pain for some moments of artificial irritation.


"Our emir was astonished at finding again at the table of his aged host, that appetite which for years he had been seeking in vain. Two

"In the mean time the supper was served up, equally unusual circumstances, a temperance of at which the emir experienced a new circum-four-and-twenty hours, and the violent efforts he stance, which, little as he was disposed to think had been forced to make, doubtless contributed on any thing, appeared to him the most incom-principally to make him imagine that he was in prehensible matter in the world. But, before I Paradise, sitting at table with the favourites of can come to an explanation on this head, I find the Prophet. Not that the number and costlimyself obliged to make a small digression on the ness of the dishes, or a very nice preparation Character of this emir, who forms a principal had the least share in producing this effect; for,

[ocr errors]

to be as sprightly as the old man himself.

there was no greater profusion than the satis-guish whether he felt, or only imagined himself fying of hunger and thirst required, with the care of leaving some choice to the taste; and in the dressing, art had no more concern than was necessary for gratifying an unspoiled palate without detriment to health. It is true, certain delicate artifices were observed, which either from their simplicity were unknown to the learned cooks of the emir, or perhaps required an attention which these important personages had never taken the pains to employ; but it was chiefly the native goodness of the viands, and a preparation to which Avicenna himself could have found nothing to object, which distinguished this repast from the magnificent and expensive poisonous compounds served up at princely tables. The emir was forced to confess that the wine, which perhaps was as old as the landlord, and the fruits which elosed the entertainment, were as excellent as nature could produce in the hap-shades, composed a sort of twilight which invited

piest climate of the earth.

"Is all this enchantment, said the emir to himself at every instant, and what sort of an old inan is this, who, with his snow-white beard, is of so ruddy a complexion, and who eats and drinks with as great a relief as if he was now just beginning to live? It was with the utmost difficulty he could restrain his astonishment; but the agreeable conversation in which all the company around him joined, with the unaffected and engaging manner in which he was addressed, made it impossible for him to reduce into any order the ideas that were floating in his brain,

the eyes to gentle slumber; the walls were hung with painted canvas, the work of a master, repres senting Grecian images of sublime repose: here the beautiful Endymion, enlightened by the silver lustres of the moon's descending rays, there, concealed by a solitary rose-bush, the goddess of love, about whose gently glowing cheeks a ravishing dream appeared to float; or Cupids sleeping on the bosom of a Grace. The old man lay already reclined on a couch of violetcoloured taffety, and three very agreeable ladies seemed employed in advancing his repose. One, resembling the finest autumnal day that can be seen, was seated at his head, and gently agitated the air with a fan of myrtles and roses; the other two sat lower down on either side his couch, this with a lute, and that with another instrument serving only to accompany the voice. Both played and sung in mildly modulated notes, sometimes alternately, and then together, strains breathing satisfaction and calm delight, and the life and voices of the songstresses were worthy of such airs. The amazement of the emir was now at its highest pitch; un perceived, the old man was fallen asleep on the bosom of the autumnal fair one, and the rest of the company, after having kissed one of his gently falling hands, softly stole away in reverenti..I silence.

"What strange sort of people these are! the emir incessantly repeated to himself.

"Taste this pine-apple, said the old man to him, as he offered him one of the finest of the kind he had ever beheld. The emir tasted it, and was at a loss for words to praise its exquisite taste and flavour. I reared it with my own hands, said the old man; since I am grown too old to accompany my sons and grandsons in the labours of the field, I employ myself in gardening; it affords me that degree of motion and exercise which I find necessary for keeping me in that good state of health in which you see me; and the fresh air, rendered balsamic by the pure fragrance of the flowers and blossoms, probably contributes not a little to that end. The emir had nothing to reply to this; but I should like much to have seen the pair of large eyes that he made at the old man. The old man's ordinary drink was cold water, and after meals he took three small glasses of wine; the first, said he smiling, helps my old stomach to digest, the second enlivens my spirits, and the third lowers them again. The emir, (who could drink no water, even though it were drawn from the fountain of youth) did honour to the landlord's wine. He went on so briskly, one glass after another, that he soon lost the ability to distin

"After supper the man with the silver locks withdrew unperceived; and a short while after, one of his sons said :-it is the custom in our house every evening before we retire to rest, to pass half an hour in the bed-chamber of our father. A guest is never accounted a stranger here; will you accompany us? The emir acquiesced with the proposal, and to shew his politeness, desired the eldest of the ladies to do him the honour to accept of his feeble arm to lean upon.

"An apartment opened which seemed to be the temple of voluptuous sleep. A multitude of large flower-pots of ornamental forms, wafted through the whole apartment their perfumes of the most grateful odours; and a quantity of tapers concealed behind green and rose-coloured

"On entering the bed-chamber that was allotted to him, he found the two boys who attended him in the bath. The sight of them reminded him of the beautiful female slave who had so charmingly chanted him a welcome to the house; and he could not come to any agreement with himself, whether he ought to be glad or sorry at her absence. He was undressed, and laid upon as soft, as elastic, as voluptuous a sofa as ever was

pressed by an emir. But no sooner had the boys slipped away than the fair female slave came in with her theorbo in her hand, a wreath of twined. rose-twigs about her loosely flowing hair, which reached to the ground, and a bunch of roses on a bosom, the whiteness whereof dazzled his eyes. With silent smiles she bowed profoundly to him, seated herself in an armed-chair beside his couch, tuned her theorbo, and sang him such an enchanting air, with so melodious a voice, that the good emir, transported with her shape, with her voice, and the eighty year old wine of his aged host, forgot what he ought reasonably to have remembered, the circumstance of being wise. The beautiful songstress had probably no commission to make one person wretched, in a house where all were happy. But, alas, indolence and luxury had banished sleep from his eyes; she had not the art of lulling the emir to rest.

A look from the Sultan, which perhaps had a quite different meaning from what Danishmende imagined, made him start. Sir, continued


PHARAMOND reigned in France, his valour had subjected all the kings of that country. The beauteous Rosamunda shared his throne, and was even dearer to him than all his glory. The French monarch, after forty years of triumph, perceived that true happiness did not consist in vanquishing nations; and in Tournay, his capital, he devoted himself solely to the comfort of his people, his wife, and children.

Prince Clodion, his son, who had scarcely attained his sixteenth year, already had signalized himself upon several occasions. Accustomed to bear arms from his infancy, he had learned the art of war by the side of the valiant Pharamond. The name of his celebrated father, the extensive empire to which he was heir, his courage, his fine form, and particularly the courtier's welltimed flattery, had all combined to render this otherwise amiable prince extremely vain. As successful in love, as Pharamond was in battle, Clodion had acquired as many hearts as his sire had taken cities; proud of his figure, his glory, and his birth, the French prince was the handsomest, the most confident, and the most volatile knight of his time.

he, after a short pause, to avoid falling into the error of the vizier Moslem, it shall suffice to say, that the emir had reason to think himself persecuted by all the magicians and fairies in the world. Compose yourself, said the lovely slave, with a smile which had a greater mixture of pity than of scorn or displeasure; I will play you an an dante, on which you will sleep as well as the happiest of shepherds. But her andante performed not the promised miracle. The emir could get no rest, till at length the female slave, finding all her address ineffectual, thought proper to withdraw, wishing him to sleep as sound as he could."

Danishmende, I am satisfied with thy story, said the Sultan; to-morrow we will hear the continuation of it, and my treasurer shall have orders to pay thee three hundred baham-d'ors. The philosopher and the young Mirza now retired, and the gate of the sacred bed-chamber was fastened after them.

[To be continued.]

His sister, the lovely Felicia, had just attained her fifteenth year, and already surpassed her mother in personal beauty. This, however, was her smallest attraction; she appeared to disdain

the gifts of nature, and to value only the talents which her own exertions could obtain; she cultivated her understanding for her own pleasure, and not from the desire of appearing wiser than others. Mild and diffident, she never thought of her rank but when it enabled her to confer happiness. Felicia, scarcely out of her childhood, was the comforter of the unfortunate, the idel of her parents, and adored and respected by all the knights of her father's court.

Brittany was tributary to Pharamond, and divided into several kingdoms; that of Gannes was governed by the king Boort, or rather by his courtiers. Weak princes are always cruel; Boort had proved the truth of this, by making his daughter Arlinde perish, for having given birth to Bliomberis. This princess had not been able to resist the love of Palamede, one of the most celebrated knights of that time. Her weakness cost her her life; the barbarous Boort allowed the child to live, but caused its miserable mother to be precipitated into a well, where she terminated her existence.

Bliomberis, deprived of his mother, not known to his father, was brought up in the court of Boort. His education was much neglected; the country of Gannes was half uncivilized; in all the kingdom there were few wise men who knew how to read. Bliomberis had attained the

age of seventeen, and knew little more than how to bend a bow, the exercise he excelled in, because he had learned it of himself, Bliomberis was finely formed, his face was rather mild than handsome; his air noble and ingenuous; his heart open to affection; he was the offspring of love, and his understanding was naturally good, for no one had sought to render it so.

Bliomberis had heard of the unhappy fate of his mother, and the name of his father. The renown of this celebrated hero made all the king of Gannes's courtiers tremble, and the fear of his return was the only cause of their paying any attention to his son; but these attentions impor-space uncovered; the old warrior fell, his troops tuned Bliomberis, the society of these ignorant stopped and surrounded him. More swift than barons, who did not even know the use of arms, lightning Bliomberis flew to his battalions; and fatigued him; as a relief he courted solitude, in his turn rushed on the French, broke, their and became an inhabitant of the woods, he exranks, and dispersed them, and soon the field of ercised his skill on the deer and birds. Solitude battle was covered with slain. made him a misanthrope, misanthropy taught him wisdom. Bliomberis was only eighteen, but his reflections, and the good of never having been flattered, were equal to thirty years of experience.

The king of Boort had a son, who did not at all resemble his father; he was called Lionel, and had merited by his exploits to be admitted to the second table. On his return from England he was indignant at the large tribute which Pharamond had exacted; and, consulting his valour more than his prudence, persuaded the listless Boort to declare war against the French monarch.

Pharamond did not think his presence necessary to reduce a people so often conquered into subjection, and wishing to give his youthful son the pleasure of terminating this war, named him his general.

Clodion, transported with joy, embraced his father, and vowed that before a month he would make his entry into Tournay, in a car drawn by Boort and his son; he already shared the king. dom he was going to conquer among his favourites, reviewed his army five or six times, set out, and after fifteen days march, arrived on the frontiers of Gannes.

Lionel awaited them: the battle was long and bloody. Clodion wrought miracles of valour, but his impetuosity made him commit faults. Bliomberis did not quit the brave Lionel; it was the first time he witnessed a battle, and the young warrior did not for a moment lose the presence of mind which characterizes a truly brave man ; but his efforts, and those of Lionel would have proved insufficient to wrest the victory from the troops of Pharamond. Already the impetuous Clodion had broken into the centre of their army, when Lionel ran to oppose the prince, and began with him a single combat, which left the Gannois without a commander. Clodion's Lieute

nant, an old warrior, whose hair had become white in battle, profited by this moment to assemble his different corps, gave signal for a general attack, and confident in the success of his manœuvre, advanced with a victorious air. Lionel was engaged with Clodion; the Gannois were nearly lost, no chief commanded them, their ranks were in disorder, when Bliomberis, the young Bliomberis, saw and prevented the danger; he threw away his sword, and took his bow, this weapon, which in his hand had always proved mortal; he chose his best arrow, eyed the French chief, and struck him where the cuirasse left a

Clodion, forsaken, trembling with shame and rage, dealt a dreadful blow at Lionel, and forcing his way through the victorious army, fled, but hero like, in a different direction from that which his army had taken.

Bliomberis did not allow himself to be carried on in pursuit of the vanquished, but was oecupied in keeping his troops in order; on this day he displayed the valour of a soldier, joined with the talents of an experienced general. Soon Lionel appeared, and completed the defeat of the French. Our young hero now made the carnage cease, caused the prisoners to be shewn respect, and treated them in a mild and noble manner; and as the whistling of arrows, and the noise of arms during the combat, had given him no emotions, so the laurels he had just gathered, the shouts of victory, and the soldiers' acclamation, did not make him for a moment lose that tranquillity he felt at being satisfied with his own conduct. Bliomberis was only sensible to the joy of having served his country. Meanwhile the impetuous Clodion, in despair at having been beaten the first time he had commanded, fled through the plains, almost insensible with rage; his vanity had received a most poignant outrage, he dared not appear at Tournay, after having shared the enemy's country among his favourites, and having ordered the car of triumph on which he had promised to appear, drawn by Boort and his son; he resolved never to return to his father's court, until by some glorious deed he had effaced the stain his honour had received; in these sentiments he embarked for England, in search of adventures and laurels.

While he was going to display his giddy valour at the court of king Arthur, Pharamond heard of his defeat. This monarch, unaccus tomed to such news, flew to avenge it; armed with that sword which had given death to se

« AnteriorContinuar »