Moyarra: An Australian Legend in Two Cantos/Canto II

Second edition


CANTO II.


I.

'Neath the fragile mimosa dark Mytah was laid,
Where the care of her lover a soft couch had made,
The leaves, in a delicate tracery woven,
Formed a bower by the sunlight that never was cloven.
Though, confessing his ardour, they glowed in his beam
Till the bright parroquet on the bough one might deem
An emerald blossom its branches that graced,
Were it not for the star-flower that nature had placed.
Fit bloom 'mid such verdure, to deck that bower
As the stars gild their blue dome in midnight hour.

'Twas there where hours of rapture past
Still o'er the spot their influence cast,
Where every herb that round her grew
Flourished familiar to her view,
Soothed by the thought of time gone by
That Mytah wished in peace to die;—
There, when her fast-receding breath
Might yield her to the tyrant Death,
In solitude she wished to lie.
She knew 'twas fancy; yet, 'twas sweet
To think the earth she oft had trod
And wandered o'er with careless feet
Would shield her with its sheltering sod.
If feeling yet pursued that state,1
That gloom which all must penetrate,
'Twould soothe her lonely heart to know
The accustomed trees around that grow;
The frail mimosa o'er her bending
Its feathery foliage of emerald green
Seemed sensitive of the aid 'twas lending
To shroud her closing scene;
And 'twas a pleasing melancholy
To think when soon the tree must die,2
O'er her lone grave 'twould seem to show

A sad companionship of woe.
A little, too, she strove to wean
Moyarra from his desperate mien;
And when, at times, from her was wrung
A sigh she could not all conceal,
She fain would say her tremor sprung
From thinking on the future weal
Of him she left behind to grieve.
Alas! what fraud can Love deceive?
Close to her dying couch he clung
And o'er her wan form hung,
While every pang her heart that rent
Seemed as electrically sent
To prey upon his heart.
As though of her he was a part
And the same life informed each frame;—
Yet, as the moth still courts the flame
Though each approach invite swift ruin,
So now, his eager gaze renewing.
Entranced Moyarra stood, as though
He loved such martyrdom of woe,
Feeding the canker in his breast
Which knew nor hope, nor rest.
His soul was centred in his eye,

Searching as if it would deny
The too appalling certainty.
Turn! turn! Moyarra! from the sight,
Thy glance is powerless as thy might.

Who hath not felt, when Death was near
And all he loved lay on the bier,
That icy chill, that deadly calm.
That calenture that gulls the sense,
Shedding disease, but feigning balm.
Like the stillness ere the storm
Bursts in its wild magnificence
And the lightning springs from its form?
Ganst thou tell where that lightning vanished,
Or where the spirit Death hath banished?
The sorcery of that hour, confessed,
Weighs heavily on the gazer's breast
As the miasma's deadly dews
O'er the languid frame their power diffuse;
Felt, though unseen, yet all-pervading
The soul, which recks not the invading
Till, sunk beneath the treacherous thrall
Flung o'er us by Death's gloomy pall,
With stupid stare we view

The clammy features' livid hue:
Is that the idol of our heart?—away!
'Tis but its mockery in clay,


II.

The priests of Death be Disease and Fear;
They attend his footsteps everywhere;
While gentle Hope, with dewy eyes
And dizzy search, would pierce the shade
Which, like a mist, doth all pervade
Around the temple of sacrifice.
Turn, frantic one! that filmy veil
Is but diaphanous of ill:
Fold after fold awhile withdrawn
As night-glooms at th' approach of dawn
The fitting time the priests await
Their impotent prey to immolate:—
'Tis done—the blow is sped—
Horror around is shed—
Hope, exiled from the heart of man,
Resigns her seat to Terror wan.

Out on thee, man! thy pomp, thy show.
But swell the triumph of thy foe:—

Thy funeral obsequies nothing are
But trains to grace his conquering car.
Go to thy chamber! wail the doom
That on thyself must one day come.
Gods! shall the Egyptian harlot shame the globe
Who nobly dared to die
Ere tricked in gorgeous robe
She'd grace a Cæsar's pageantry.


III.

Yes, weep Moyarra! not for thee
That face, now sealed in dim repose,
Shall wake to soothe thy misery
And wean thee from oppressing woes.
Wreathed in the cold embrace of Death
Thy bride from thy fond clasp is torn,
And yielding languidly her breath
She sinks forlorn:
The teeth of pearl, which did surround
The portals of that mine whence sprung
The spells by which thy soul was bound
When thy enchantress sung—
Arrayed in grim defiance, woo

No longer thy distempered view:
The ringlet curls which wont to stray
Adown those cheeks in wreathed play,
No longer weave their witching maze
Ensnaring thy rapt gaze,
But, like the bruised tendril, cling
Lifeless and withering:
Still, in their last act merciful.
They shroud from thee those orbs, now dull,
Whose twin-born beams with grateful ray
Once cheered, with added light, thy day.
Yet gazest thou? fond fool! desist:
Like thee have thousand thousands striven
The spectre in his course to arrest
Whose mystery is yet unriven:
And still, as to the rapid driven
The mighty river's ceaseless swell,
Of which no drop returns to tell
The thronging myriads where it fell,
But plunges to the drear abyss—
Thus much alone revealed "It is"
Or as of mist the floating stream
Which wavers in the morning beam,
Anon, its grossness laid aside

Ascending in a radiant tide,
In purest particles alone
Soaring to attain th' Almighty throne—
Impelled by power which tempers all,
Such is our doom—we rise or fall.
Yet are there hours (who has not known?)
When, of our rigid task abhorrent,
We fain would, like the sullen torrent,
Court the abyss before us thrown,
Rather than, on the wings of faith—
Our sordid part resigned to Death
As the mist-wreath to flee from earth
Freed from the taint that dimmed our birth.
And why? but that the past still flings
Its gloom o'er all the future brings:
Hope meted by our pleasures past
Deserves not that her shrine should last:
Fruition follows not her bloom:
Pining expectance droops her plume:
Whatever our pursuit, the part
Achieved sates not the longing heart
Restless, immortal, destined here to roam
Striving 'mid finite things to build itself a home.


IV.

Woe! woe! since the primæval fall
The dirge of bliss was ever sung,
In each reverberating tongue,
The pregnant theme of grief for all.
The ground is cursed for thy sake;
Thy bread in sorrow shalt thou take.
Earth shall deny each pleasant blossom,
Ill weeds and thorns deform her bosom:—
As, heretofore, the dews of heaven
Did gently on the plains descend,
Henceforth to thee the task be given
The rugged soil to tend:—
Toiling, in sweat and agony of frame,
Till dust return to dust from whence it came.


V.

Go, pluck from the blossoms the humming bird loves
The fairest that bloom amid Indian groves
Of odours so rare, and hues so bright.
That the senses faint with extreme delight:
Aye! add if you will of those that grace

The gardens of art, of every race:—
Is it not sweet? Then fling
But one small branch of some loathed thing
In the dank marsh whose stem is reared
(By man abhorred, by wild beasts feared)
The vapours of whose pestilent breath
Might antedate the sense of death;—
And thou shalt find that drug hath power
To corrupt the sense of each precious flower—
'Mid all their odours to infuse
The venom of its poisonous juice.

Thus, of our earth each varied joy
That ceaseless curse hath power to cloy:
Ever present, never weary;
Ready, with its bodings dreary,
Our most prized bliss to infect
Making it of none effect.
Crushed by such consciousness of doom
Is there no hope that, proudly flinging,
Like storm-drops from the eagle's plume.
The dross which, to our spirits clinging,
Obstructs our course—erect in conscious worth
We may arise, the demigods of earth?

Alas! as well the parent shape
Might hope its shadow to escape
Whose dull, untiring mockery,
Still haunts it wheresoe'er it fly.
Yet, if revealed in one wide glow
Light's glories from the heavens might flow
That shade, o'erwhelmed in the bright maze.
Would vanish from our baffled gaze.
E'en thus it soothes the soul to think
That, when disrobed of earthly stain.
And clay to kindred clay shall shrink,
The immortal spirit shall remain,
A pure and perfect emanation
Of the great source from whence it came,
Soaring in heavenly aspiration,
As a lambent flame,
To mingle with the quoir above
Who chant unending hymns of love;—
That there the soul may float in bliss,
Drinking in at every pore
Tides of celestial mysteries
Which fooled its keenest search before;
Filled with a joy for utterance too deep
And holy love which doth its being steep;

While round, in gleaming circles, soar
The great, the good, from every clime
Gathered triumphant over Time
The murmurs of whose ebbless sea,
Which bore them to Eternity,
Drowned in the music of the spheres
No more attract their hopes, their fears;
As, round and round, in mazy flight
They wheel, a galaxy of light.
Celestial gales ambrosial fragrance bring;
To harps celestial angel voices sing;
The hallowed concord of whose magic fills
The air with love, and on the sense instils
A holy joy, a trembling transport blended
With fear that aught so sweet must soon be ended:
But ever do those winds of heaven blow
Wafting that melody's richest, fullest flow;
And ever doth that train celestial float
In undulating union with each modulated note.
It is a faith that well might win
To virtue every child of sin,
To think that from such blest communion
With spirits made perfect, from that union

His soul alike might perfect grow,
Secure never again to know
Or pain, or sorrow, or that worst
Of ills with which the heart is curst,
A sense of thanklessness to Him
Who framed our being here, a dim
Yearning for nothingness again
To free us from the world's dull chain.


VI.

Around by dusky chiefs arrayed
Now low in earth is Mytah laid:—
While o'er her early bier they hung
Her closing requiem, thus they sung:

Thou art gone from us, Mytah! the salt tears of woe
Are our portion on earth, now thou art laid low:
One sun beheld thee with breath as light
As the soft summer wind at morn that weaves
Its melody 'mid the silvery leaves
Of the pendulous acacia's boughs;
Another viewed thee far and faint
Sighing like the mournful plaint

Of the river oak, when storms at night3
The gloomy mountain's echoes rouse:
And now thou art gone, loved Mytah.

Though the rites of our country forbid that thy name4
From the lips of thy kindred meet homage may claim,
Yet, more deep than the glozing of language may tell,
Enshrined in our memories thy image shall dwell,
Though now thou art gone from us, Mytah.

Yes! if aught our affection for thee may outgo
It shall be of our hate the untameable glow
That burns to consume thy destroyer, w4th rage
Which the blood of its victim alone can assuage
Because thou art gone, loved Mytah.

Destruction shall couch in his path, as the snake
Ere, darting its venom, it springs from the brake.
Till the hand of thy foe from his vile carcase torn5
Thy shade shall appease, and our triumph adorn
Because thou art gone, loved Mytah.

May the earth which enwraps thee be clothed with flowers
The sweetest that bloom amid Spring's first showers;
May the fresh dews of heaven its bosom bedew
With a fragrance for ever undying, yet new,
And rest thee in peace, loved Mytah.


VII.

"Nay, nay, Koreungat; say not so;
Thou shar'st alike my weal, my woe.
But vainly now I strive to shield
My heart from ills by time unhealed.
Still, o'er my fancy, one by one,
Flit memories of joys bygone:
From commune with myself I shrink
Stung with the agony to think.
What marvel if such lot be mine
I seek not solace though 'twere thine?
By heaven, when clouds deform the sky
Each gloomy scene offends mine eye.
Seeming to arrogate a share
In sorrow mine alone to bear.
Fond fool! a brighter hour succeeds.

And inly, then, my sick heart bleeds,
Reflecting that from me alone
The weight of anguish hath not flown;
And I could crush each tender plant
In the sun's light which seems to pant
With rapture of delight, while I
Must watch its smiling apathy
And recklessness of my distress;
Till, like the hunted prey, whose foe
Drinks its hot sobs with fell delight
No refuge from despair I know.
No ray adorns my night.
And not the least of pangs that wring
Is, that while thus remembering
The priceless debt to thy affection due
Though still to thee, I am as ever, true,
A listless apathy of voice denies
To shape the thought which gratitude supplies.
And I, repugnant to my crime, remain
Enervate in its galling chain."

Not to upbraid thee, did I speak,
Moyarra, but with hope to prove
(Howe'er against despairing love

I feel my language faint and weak)
That this engrossing apathy
In which you strive, and vainly strive,
To bury thought of time gone by
Is but the spring which keeps alive
The source which feeds your constant grief
And bars the access of relief.
'Tis weak opposing ills to fly.
Nor effort make their force to try;
But wise to prove each avenue
That hope can tint with prospects new.
Look! when the face of heaven is drear
And clouds obscure the light of day
The glad earth drinks each genial tear,
The sun resumes his golden sway.
What bird or beast, by adverse fate
Bereaved, finds not another mate?
One fountain of their joy is dried:
Another pours its willing tide.
No sorrows that we see endure.
Shall ours alone reject a cure?
But, Moya, tell me not again
Of gratitude won by my love:
Thou dost but grieve a heart which fain

In silence would its fondness prove.
Enough, I know were mine thy pain
Thou wouldst have been the friend to me
That I have striven to be to thee.
But let us choose another theme;
Two days we now have traced this stream;
And though as deep its bed, and wide,
As when we first beheld its tide,
The mountains hang around our way
Repelling the broad light of day,
Beetling as if their craggy sides
Frowned vengeance on the foaming tides
Which sap with ceaseless flow their feet.
Escape is none for those who meet
Within this chasm the foe they fear.
If rightly we have judged, we near
That awful precipice whose crest
Groans with the weight of raging waves
Which plunging down with perilous haste
Are shattered in its yawning caves;
Where echo-waking cataracts come
Rushing with hoary crests of foam."


VIII.

Truly the warrior spoke; for round
Each jutting precipice as they wound
Nearer and nearer swelled the sound,
While dark and gloomier o'er them grew
The shade th' impending mountains threw.
Aloof the eagle swooped in air;
No little warbler flitted there,
Nor herb was there its weight to bear;
Nought but the huge rock's columned side
Rearing aloft its crest of pride.
Now louder grew the sound, and more
Magnificently rude the steeps
Re-echoing its terrible roar—
And lo ! revealed to sight, where leaps
Thy turbulent stream, Tiara, prone6
To the black gulf before it thrown.
The artillery of storms! the flash.
Electric, where thy waters dash!
The ambient clouds of mist that rise
Like spirits pure freed from the ties
Of earthly shocks and agonies!
Oh! who shall hear and gaze upon

Nor bend in spirit at the Almighty throne?
Temple of Nature! where the eye
O'ergazing to satiety
Redls on its liquid throne,
Each mortal feeling quenched and dead
Save passionate ecstasy thy dread
Magnificence to own—
As if the heart in one fond gush
Forth on the wings of sight did rush!

Here, high precipitously piled,
Rude, beetling crags, and columns wild,
Hung vast, as threat'ning to o'erwhelm
The intruders on their rugged realm:
And there, as doth the war-horse bound
Rejoicing at the trumpet's sound.
From rock to rock, with frenzied wrath.
The chafed flood clove its hoary path.
Exulting to have found a foe;
Then, plunging in the gulf below,
Foamed o'er the horrid rocks, and hurled,
In wreaths fantastically curled.
The scattered spray which floating there
Now hovered like a mist, in air;

Now caught the lustre shed in streams
By the fierce sun's meridian beams,
And weaving hues of every dye
Blended with magic harmony,
Glowed in celestial mockery.
And when, at times, a heedless zephyr
The bow which trembled there did sever
Each broken arch would, wavering, woo
Its gentle image to renew
Their love—now in the sunbeams waving,
Now in the ambient spray-dew laving
Their charms—then close in fond embrace
Leaving no tinge of parting's trace.
Oh! ever thus should friends remain
Aye linked in friendship's golden chain ;
Seizing the sunshine of bright hours,
Plucking the rosy-blossomed flowers;
And if the world's unwelcome breath
Taint with its blight one roseate wreath
Unheeded let it find a grave
When not our skill its sweets can save.
If from our grasp the rose is torn
Why should our bosoms nurse the thorn.
In amity's pure cup we'll find

A balm to soothe the wounded mind;
Wealth's votaries never can possess
The joy we'll find in one caress,
Nor empire like the mutual union
Of soul with soul in full communion.
But here I cannot pause. Farewell
Torrent! whose thunder-mocking throne
Of ever-during power doth tell;
Whose glories, silent I have gazed upon
Till from my mind earth's joys and sorrows fell.


IX.

 
From crag to crag the friends have gained,
With difficult labour, the ascent,
And now upon the summit stand
With eager gaze around them bent.
Short time they tarried, ere with spring
As silent as the far bird's wing
They bounded on, yet cautiously.
Leaving no trace to mark their way.
On printless rocks alone they tread
Nor bend the humble floweret's head.

Now sunk the sun, whose fiery rays
Revealed in all their energies
Paled the rich azure of the skies,
Quenching their bloom in one wide-scorching blaze:
Sullenly plunging to his rest
In lurid glare he robed the west;
His red, round orb glowing in rayless wrath
Denounced the terrors of his morning path;
An ashen gloom as of a thunder-cloud
The horizon girt with dusky shroud:
Seemed it as if the fires of day
On the parched earth but smouldering lay,
Till lit by morn's electric ray
Again in one bright gush all nature to display.
The warriors paused; and, having found
A hollow by green mounds hemmed round,
Prepared for food their simple fare:
This quickly done, they quenched with care
The glowing embers, and in low
And earnest tones then communed
How, in the morning, to proceed;
And how, themselves unseen, to know
The present station of the foe.


X.

When fell the chill that tells of day,7
Darkling, the warriors took their way.
Leaving the river's rocky bed
Silent and swift, Moyarra led.
Nor long they journeyed, ere a star
Eclipsed in station high, while near
Beamed brightly many a rival sphere,
Served to their practised eyes to show
Where frowned a neighbouring mountain's brow;
Nearing it with unslackened pace
They bounded up its rocky base:
With joy beheld that winter's chill
Had bared the summit of the hill.
Save where in dreary order stood
Some hardier scions of the wood
Which, having bloomed their little hour
Remained, types of their tyrant's power,
Lifeless, yet in bleak array
Memorials eloquent of decay.

Now, lo! each moment brighter than the last

Proclaimed the coming glories of the East:
Red and more red in deepening circles grew
Rays which revealed the waking world to view
(Like some fair vision of enchanted land
Where mysteries flee before the magic wand)
Till, leaping from his roseate couch, the sun
Rejoicing his bright course to run,
Like his great Author, looked—and all was light.


XI.

"Moyarra! fate befriends the bold;
Caution had found no surer hold
Than this, your ardour hath bequeathed."
From the near forest's bosom wreathed
In welcome eddies many a spire
Evolvent of the latent fire:
Beyond, far-stretching plains were seen
Adorned but by their lawny green,
Save where at intervals, afar
Rose a few eminences, bare
Or crowned in mockery with a leafless wood
Like that on which the chieftains stood

Firm, and of fear unconscious, glancing
With all the ardour of the deer
Who knows his agile playmate near;
Hope, fixed yet eager, was entrancing
With high and earnest thoughts the pair:
One passion ruled them both—to attain
Full vengeance for dark Mytah slain.

Soon as the sun, with ardent ray
Asserting from high heaven the day,
Glowed on the forest's waving crests
The warriors marked with throbbing breasts
Each movement of th' unwary prey.
As bees, that with the morning light
Disperse their troops in banded flight,
Winging at will their odorous way
From honeyed flower to flower; so they.
For various chase prepared, depart;
Some to ascend with perilous art
The gaunt stem of the tree, whose womb
The squirrel makes his daily home;
Some, with the flying spear arrayed,
To rove at will the forest glade,
And, ambushed,8 pierce the kangaroo

Or the far-striding, swift emu.
To thee, Muntookan, fate decreed
The former choice, when most thy need
Demands the safeguard of thy spear.
Thou, blind to fate! might'st thou not fear
From thine own inroad's vile success
That fortune might thy rival bless?
Yes ! he e'en now, from that near height
Marks with a proud and fierce delight
The course thy comrades with thee take
Though tending to his recent track;
Though, of thy five companions, two
Armed with the quivering javelin go.


XII.

Now, while with careless step and eye
From tree to tree at ease thou'rt turning
(Like some fond bird, that joyously
Carols in the light of morning)
Thine enemy notes thee ; so the snake,
Extended latent in the brake.
With glance fire-darting marks its prey
Which flutters on the o'erhanging spray:

His polished scales with livid lustre glow
As varied lights the mutable colours show,
His lambent tongue protruded licks the air,
With ardour vibrating—he keeps his lair
But till arrives the fitting time to spring
And crush the victim with its futile wing.
"Koreungat! now our track they near
That seen, for us is no regress:
My life I value not, nor fear
But for our enterprise' success:—
And see! Muntookan swerves; do thou
Retreat—I lay the spoiler low."
He spoke, and heedless of his friend's appeal,
Unerring as a beam of light, departed;
His soul was but one passion strung to feel,
With eagerness of Hope his lips were parted:
Muntookan, startled, turned, and shrunk to see
The rapid death approaching: time was none
His swift assailant to repel or flee:
A fearful commune shook his breast alone
Whose craven judgment owned his race was run.
One effort yet is prompted by despair;
The fatal axe which laid dark Mytah low

Now cleaves, but cleaves in vain, the parted air:—
The uplifted club diverts the forceful blow,
Then, whirled on high, descends and, crashing, rends
The cowering front which, ere its coming bends.
The recreant falls, with blood and brains defiled,
While o'er him hangs his foe unreconciled.
Yet fell he not unmarked: his scattered friends
To the fierce victor throng, with bearing wild,
Who heeded not their coming; nor, when flew
Th' unerring javelins which his life-blood drew.
Did once retract his gaze from his slain foe,
But glared upon him when himself laid low.


XIII

But thou, Koreungat! who thy grief can tell
When thus, so near to thee, thy comrade fell?
Not ineffectual was thy rage: thy spear
A victim adds to grace the warrior's bier,
Ere rushing from the covert of the shade,

Scorning the weapons in thy path arrayed,
And dashing down one foe while others gave
The wounds which grant thee no unwelcome grave,
To thy loved friend thou held'st, unchecked, thy flight.
"Moyarra! could'st thou doubt my truth?" A light
Like the faint lightning of a quiet night
Played o'er the victor's features fierce, and fired
With momentary joy ere he expired.
Then fled the vital spirit, free from care.
The hope fulfilled which, only, made life dear.
Not unattended did he sink in death,
Koreungat, glad, resigned his equal breath;
Worthy to wear th' imperishable wreath
That blooms and decks immortal Nisus' faith;
Would that his praise were hymned by worthier tongue
To raise his name the deathless great among.
Nor, as to harp of mine, thus humbly sung.
His place was vacant in the tribe; who knew
When came not back the warriors to their view

That they had fallen by the stranger's hand;
And there was mourning deep throughout the land.


XIV

Thus far have I essayed to trace
The lives, the loves, of that dark race
(Chequered the tale, and fraught with ill
For frail is bliss, life human still),
Heirs of the land where I must pine
Reflecting that it is not mine.
My tale is done: and I would fain
Believe, though humble be my strain,
A pitying tear may dim some tender eye,
Some breast may heave a sympathetic sigh.
But yet it matters not—to me
It hath fulfilled kind ministry;
To purest fancies it hath won me
From sorrowing thoughts that crowded on me;
Affection, homeward prone to veer
It hath compelled with magic wand;
Beguiling the sad truth that here
I am a stranger in the land.
Thou mild moon! pouring down each night

Thy trembling showers of silver light;
I love thee,—but I love thee more
That thou revisits't England's shore;
Th&t though I view not, thou dost shine
On sacred haunts which once were mine,
And still, by Memory's aid, are shrined
In holiest precincts of the mind.

Aye ! thou returns't to gaze thy fill
On scenes by thee made holier still:
If shadows o'er the landscape fleet
They render thy next smile more sweet;
But fruitless is my fond endeavour
To pierce the gloom which shrouds me ever:
My steps no more shall pace the grove
Endeared by childhood's earliest love.
Yet, when thou climb'st thine azure throne,
Encircled by thy starry zone
Thou bring'st remembrance of each night
I sported in thy gentle light;
Or conned the legendary rhyme
Beneath the oak, long spared by time,
Which reared its venerable head
Relic of many a century fled;

Or, fearful, tempted the stern shade
By the old moss-grown parapet made,
Doubting to leave thy light which wont
To quiver o'er the embattled front,
A lustre seeming to impart
Hallowing the remains of art.
As o'er those ruins thou could'st shed
A recompense for glory fled,
A holier grandeur granting them
Than was their boast in day's broad gleam
So, o'er the wreck of feeling crushed
Thy midnight hour, when all is hushed
A balm doth fling which can awhile
Of all its woes the heart beguile,
Prompting, since joy may never last,
A grateful memory of the past.
Yes! those were happy times, when youth
Imagined, and received for truth
Its halcyon dreams; in every dell
A fairy spirit feigned to dwell,
And fancied in the wind's low sigh
Tones of aerial minstrelsy.
But why enumerate the thousand ties
Subtilely woven with love's sympathies

Which bound me to that hallowed spot
My home? enough, I view it not;
Those ties are riven, and callous were the heart
To view without a pang such joys depart;
For which the world could soothe such sadly pleasing smart.

Shades of my fathers! haunting yet
"Each object of my fond regret;
The memory of whose fame is twined
With tendril clasp around my meeting mind;
Ye tutelar deities! whose presiding love
Sighed in the gale, and whispered in the grove;
Say, can your spells pervade this distant clime,
Alike victorious over space and time?
Once I conjured ye—"Be your airy forms
Bright harbingers of fate in life's dark storms!
Still hover o'er, your pinions weary never,
Beckoning to realms where bliss endures for ever!
Vain invocation! rests with me alone9
A dim remembrance of fair visions flown;
A lonely sense I yearn to lose—the ghost
Lingering, memorial sad, of pleasure lost.

Yet though the boon ye not accord to me,
Oh! in the councils of my father-land10
Instil the wisdom which may keep it free,
Great, glorious, wonder of the nations : so shall be
Your benison wafted o'er the circling sea
To hearts which, faithful still, revere your sacred
band.




THE END




NOTES TO CANTO II


1(p. 55). "If feeling jet pursued that state."

Though, as previously stated, the Australians had no definite creed prevalent throughout the tribes, they had legends of the supernatural, and frequently discoursed about them.


2(p. 55). "To think when soon the tree must die."

The mimosa, which bears leaves shaped like those of the sensitive plant, is short-lived.


3(p. 67). "Of the river oak, when storms at night
The gloomy mountain's echoes rouse."

Those who have heard the solemn, sighing sound produced among the boughs—one cannot say the leaves—of the casuarina will appreciate the mournful feeling which in some circumstances must arise in the mind when the melancholy sound seems to be an echo of the sense.


4(p. 67). "Though the rites of our country forbid that thy name."

The Australians scrupulously abstained from mentioning the names of their deceased friends, and were aggrieved when they heard their names referred to by strangers unacquainted with their customs. This custom produced one curious result. It sometimes happened that the name of a chief was taken from some place, or borrowed from a tree or flower. Another name was then given to the place, or to the tree, and the old word disappeared.


5(p. 67). "Till the hand of thy foe from his vile carcase torn."

It was the custom in some tribes to cut off the hands of their slain enemies, and carry them as trophies of prowess. This custom led to curious misconceptions when colonists saw the trophies, and imagined that all the tribes were cannibals, although most of them were not. Some of them were. Those who were not recoiled with disgust from those who were. In Taplin's Folk-Lore of South Australia are recorded instances in which a few tribes were bound by their superstition to a repulsive ceremony. They were not bound to devour a dead relative, but certain close relations were compelled to take a prescribed morsel, however minute, of the deceased, as a token of duty.


6(p. 72). "Thy turbulent stream. Tiara, prone."

The chasms or gorges which are found on the east of the mountain range which separates the waters of the Macleay and other rivers from the waters which form the tributaries of the Darling, and which were known among the early colonists as "The Falls," were thus described by their discoverer, Surveyor-General Oxley, in 1818.

"We had seen many fine and magnificent falls, each of which had excited our admiration in no small degree, but the present one so far surpassed anything which we had previously conceived even to be possible that we were lost in astonishment at the sight of this wonderful natural sublimity, which perhaps is scarcely to be exceeded in any part of the Eastern world."


7(p. 77). "When fell the chill that tells of day,
Darkling, the warriors took their way."

The sudden chill which precedes the dawn is well known to all who have spent night after night in the unhoused bush.

This expedition of the friends may appear Quixotic, but as a daring exploit in war I have known something similar.

I knew three active warriors who made an expedition into their enemy's country to wreak vengeance for the killing of one of their tribe.

The expedition lasted several weeks, and the three friends returned with trophies of the withered hands of three enemies.


8(p. 79). "And, ambushed, pierce the kangaroo."

No more expert sportsman than the Australian has been known. He could carry an ambush with him.

Watching intently his game, never moving a muscle while the creature looked towards him, carrying a bough so adroitly that it seemed a growing bush, he stealthily advanced while the animal's eyes were not turned towards him. When near enough he resorted to his spear, or when hunting on behalf of an European, his gun.


9(p. 87). "Vain invocation! rests with me alone
A dim remembrance of fair visions flown. . ."

This may appear exaggerated language for an exile in his teens who only accompanied his family to an English colony: and it seems now somewhat overstrained in the eyes of the writer; but it sprung from fervent feelings at the time, and as it is idle for old age to prune the exuberance of youth, the original words are in this case, as indeed throughout the legend, left untouched.


10(p. 88). "Oh! in the councils of my father-land
Instil the wisdom which may keep it free."

This was indeed a "vain invocation!" I have lived long enough to see the principles of the English Constitution violated by men solemnly pledged to defend them; to see the House of Commons comport itself like Caliban in the garden of Prospero; to see the very principle on which representation was founded by our forefathers trampled in the dust; to observe the gathered voices from all parts of the realm dominated by the will of numerous delegates from towns so few in number that they may almost be counted on the fingers—the result being that decisions, which under the ancient constitution represented a composition of many forces gathered from various places, have been degraded until they represent little more than one force, that one being dependent upon clamour in the streets prompted and controlled by self-seeking wire-pullers behind the scenes.

The once time-honoured principle of representation of the tax-payers has been so grotesquely inverted that they who contribute the bulk of the taxation have but a nominal voice in its expenditure.

It is even demanded that the formula—one man, one vote—shall supersede all claims for representation of intelligence and industry.

The conduct of foreign affairs, and of all momentous problems in government, must be thrown into crucibles controlled by ignorance and passion. In the very heart of the Empire intelligence is to be stifled. If none but those who lodge within the electoral district of the City of London can vote for a Member for the City, the caretakers of property will wield the power heretofore possessed by proprietors deemed worthy to represent the wealth, the intelligence, the industry, and the enterprise of the metropolis.

Nay, more; it is contended that if a majority told by heads, demand what is injurious to their country and to themselves, their fatal demand should be conceded.

Nor is this enthronement of disorder, this proscription of common sense, confined to the hoarse unreason of the streets. Right and wrong, in the words of the greatest of Englishmen, are to lose their names.

Then everything includes itself in power;
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf.
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey.
And, last, eat up himself.

Then everything includes itself in power; Power into will, will into appetite; And appetite, an universal wolf. So doubly seconded with will and power, Must make perforce an universal prey. And, last, eat up himself.

We see a party leader, a man of marvellous culture and powers, enslaved to this degrading heresy, abetting what he has denounced as hurtful, and pleading that a leader is wise in his own generation to keep "always a little in advance of each popular movement"—a rule of action which (as a great orator declared) "if the distinguished author of it had been living in Jerusalem on the first Good Friday in the history of Christendom must have made him the first to cry— 'Not this man, but Barabbas.'"

Prophetic voices have been heard from time to time, but have been unheeded.

The betrayal of England by an exotic partisan in 1867 aroused the wrath of Carlyle, who saw the gulf across the path so unscrupulously chosen and so wildly followed.

Another of England's sages, Sir Henry Maine, pointed out in burning words, which will ere long be recognized as prophetic, the inevitable consequence of the follies of 1867 and 1884.

"The effect" (he wrote) "of the virtually English discovery of government by Representation was to diminish the difficulties of popular government in exact proportion to the diminution in the number of persons who had to decide public questions. But this famous system is evidently in decay through the ascendency over it which is being gradually obtained by the vulgar assumption that great masses of men can directly decide all necessary questions for themselves." ..."The delusion that democracy, when it has once had all things put under its feet, is a progressive form of government, lies deep in the convictions of a particular political school. But there can be no delusion grosser. It receives no countenance from experience or from probability."

. . . "We may say generally that the gradual establishment of the masses in power is of the blackest omen for all legislation founded on scientific opinion, which requires tension of mind to understand it, or self-denial to submit to it." . . . "Perhaps we are not at liberty to forget that there are two kinds of bribery. It can be carried on by patronising or giving to expectant partisans places paid out of the taxes, or it may consist in the directer process of legislating away the property of one class and transferring it to another. It is this last which is likely to be the corruption of these latter days. . . ."We are drifting towards a type of government associated with terrible events—a single Assembly, armed with full powers over the Constitution, which it may exercise at pleasure."

The warnings of the wise, the experience of Greece, of Rome, of mediæval Italy and modern France, are thrown away upon those who lust only for the spoils of the present.

The halls which once resounded to the voices of the great are defiled by the intrigues of the little, and England staggers in disordered course along the road, and driven by the same causes which have conducted ancient communities to ruin.

The sagacious Hamilton, and his coadjutors who provided safeguards in the Constitution of the United States, bore in mind the warnings of Montesquieu, who insisted on the necessity of an essential separation of the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial functions.

In some respects Hamilton's care has been rewarded; but degradation of the suffrage and dictations of a "caucus" have so far perverted the order of the last century as to present to us an organized State which prefers committing murders to amending its jury-law, or purifying its electorates.

But in the land "set in the silver sea," from which the French philosopher drew many of his arguments, the virtue he commended seems doomed.

Members of a body degraded in its own composition may be seen one day wallowing in the mire of criminal details, and on another revelling in aspersions against the judiciary.

When earthly things which deserve respect are traduced, "Reverence, that angel of the world," can hardly remain to hallow it, and debased generations may pollute the homes of God-fearing ancestors.

Already the sanction of an oath has been barred from one branch of Parliament in deference to insolence and intrigue; and if the same low arts succeed in banishing religion from schools, and in uprooting the national Church, a decay of the moral fibre of the nation must ensue.

But this end is not yet. The train is indeed laid for the miseries foretold by Sir Henry Maine, but they will be evolved in England, with more or less precipitance, as they have been evolved in other lands.

The preponderance of voting power lodged below that centre of stability in which reside the intelligence, enterprise, and industry of a nation cannot fail to be abused by inheritors of the low arts of a Cleon or a Clodius. The wheel must "come full circle" in England as elsewhere. Successive generations repeat the follies of the past.

It is the most pity-moving characteristic in the history of man, that the self-earned miseries of one country are powerless to guard against their repetition in another.

Each seems to crave to work out, not its own salvation, but its own—destruction.

"There is a history in all men's lives
  Figuring the nature of the times deceased;
  The which observed, a man may prophesy
  With a near aim of the main chance of things
  As yet not come to life; which in their seeds
  And weak beginnings lie intreasured.
  Such things become the hatch and brood of time."