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Forgive these tears, which utter, as they flow,
A son's, a husband's,—and a father's wo;
To swell each sigh these different feelings join;
For all these dear relations once were mine.
Nor did the hopes of adding to my store
By lawless plunder, send me from my shore;
To gain in bloody fields a hero's name,
And reach o'er slaughter'd heaps a warrior's fame.
'Twas duty bade me catch the coming gale,
And filial love that hoisted every sail;
'Twas to a father's fond embrace I went,
E'er yet his lamp of life was wholly spent;
To give my sire once more his long lost boy,
And fill his heart with all a parent's joy.
"For Cyprus, then, I sail'd;-what since befel,
Let these vile chains,-this abject habit tell;
Which with for ever growing grief I bear,
And, now, the fourth drear winter sees me wear;
And years may roil on years, unstopp'd my grief,
Till welcome death shall bring his last relief.
And long, ere this sad hour, my friends forlorn
May, drooping o'er my death untimely, mourn;
My fond, old sire, perhaps, my fate unknown,
Wailing my ravish'd life, consume his own;
And what dire pangs my orphan children feel,
If thous't a tender parent, thou may'st tell."
He ceas'd;-tears stopp'd his accents;-and the rest A silence, far beyond all words, express'd.
Nor spoke Cornaro more,-he, too, was mute,
Nor language found his fellow grief to suit;
But struggling with a tender, bursting sigh,
Scarcely sobb'd forth,-Friend, take this small supply,
'Twill yield thee some relief;-and were it mine
To give,-bliss and liberty should be thine!
He took the gold, and bow'd,-then, slow return'd,
And, as was wont, in silent sorrow mourn'd.
Cornaro see in other guise appear;
Sudden he stopp'd the unavailing tear:
And be, said he, my soul, thy joy express'd;
'Tis in thy power to make the wretched bless'd:
Now am I bless'd indeed, since on my wealth
Depends another's being,-freedom,-health.
'Tis I can bid the sun of mercy shine;
His health, bis liberty, his life, are mine:
Whate'er he has of joy, or might receive,
His country, children, wives, are mine to give:
Now, India's lord amid his boundless store
And endless mines, compar'd with me is poor.
Quick, then, Cornaro, to his ransom flee,
And let this morning's sun behold him free!
Straight to the governor Cornaro went,
His name, his rank, his cause of coming sent;
Nor needed long to wait:-his errand told,
Bringing that ne'er refus'd credential,-gold;
The price requir'd for liberty he gave;
And quick return'd to find the now but fancy'd slave,
And said-Be free!-His transports who can tell?
Which only his who caus'd it could excel;
Prostrate, before him, in wild joy he fell;
Gladness and wonder in his bosom wrought,
With lab'ring gratitude his soul was fraught;
Nor had he power to utter half he thought.
Yet,-O, my great deliverer!-he cried,
Can such transcendent worth in man reside?
Or can it be,-that Christian doctrines teach
Virtues beyond our sacred prophet's reach?
Yet oh!-whate'er the wondrous cause,--receive
As much of gratitude as words can give!
Nor let these bursting tears its force destroy,
Slaves late of grief, soft offspring now of joy.
And how my deeds shall with my words agree,
Let me once reach my country, thou shalt see,
And know thy generous bounty was not lost;
I scorn to ask thee what my freedom cost:
That, to my gratitude has no regard—
Up to thy worth I'll measure thy reward.
But can that be?-Stop, there, Cornaro said,
If you are happy, I am more than paid.
And lest your happiness should meet delay,
Here's gold, wherewith to speed thee on thy way;
If grateful thou wilt be,-at thy return,
Amidst those slaves, who there in bondage mourn,
Search out some Christian, from the wretched band,
Who best may merit freedom from thy hand;
Then, think, 'tis in thy power to pay my debt
By shewing him the mercy thou hast met!
He said, and to his lodgings back return'd,
Honour's bright lamp within him gently burn'd;
Felt and enjoy'd the riot of his breast,
While conscience furnish'd out the noble feast.
As free as air, from prison just broke out,
The Moslem, instantly the harbour sought;
There found a ship, all trim with swelling sails,
And just prepar❜d to catch the fav'ring gales.
Smyrna her port;-with prosperous winds she flies,
And gives him to his home, and former joys.
Livonia, now, as his Ferrara, known,
Where, next, for knowledge, is Cornaro flown?
For a soul's banquet far he need not fly,
Venice, old Ocean's fairest child so nigh,
O'er the fam'd Adriatic, where she stood,
That swells, unenvious of the Tuscan flood;
Though Naples, Florence, on his banks he names,
And to him Tyber pours, from Rome, its streams.
When o'er the Continent fell slavery flew,
Hither, the goddess, Liberty, withdrew;
Here, plac'd her cap, her staff, her armour here,
And as her own fierce Sparta, held it dear.
Each art and science this their dwelling own,
As guardians to their goddess Freedom's throne;
And, as her handmaid, busy Commerce toils,
Her sister-goddess, Plenty, cheerful smiles.
Here glad Cornaro fix'd,—and hop'd to find
All that might please a knowledge-loving mind.
Where the tall columns rose in beauteous wreath,
Or sculpture seem'd to speak, or paint to breathe.
And, ah! he little thought,-the hour was nigh,
When all the pleasures of his mind should die;
The beams of science from his soul retire,
And fade, extinguish'd by a nobler fire.
As kindled wood, howe'er its flames might rise,
When the bright sun appears, in embers dies.
Soon as his breast perceiv'd the pow'rful ray,
Whate'er before possess'd it, instantly gave way.
As, in the wood, beneath the lightning's beam,
Perish the leaves, and the whole tree is flame:
Minerva, sudden, from his soul was fled,
And Venus reign'd, exclusive, in her stead.
A thousand fair ones in Love's frolic train,
Long at the youth had bent their shafts in vain;
Launch'd from the wanton eye they sought his heart,
But Virtue's buckler still repuls'd the dart.
Nor all their force, or poison, need he fear,
Virtue must tip the shaft that enters there.
As diamonds scorn the keenest pow'rs of steel,
And touch'd alone, by fellow-gems, can feel.
One glance at last, an easy passage found,
And, undirected, made the deeper wound;
From Modesty's bright quiver it was sent,
Nor knew its beauteous owner where it went.
From chaste Delphina's powerful eye it came,
Malta to Venice lent the charming dame.
Malta,-bless'd Isle!-whose daughters all are fair,
Whose sons to manly fortitude are dear.
So properly do love and glory meet,
And beauty, still, with valour, holds its seat.
To Venice, by a noble father sent,
Some pleasing moons the fair one there had spent;
Beneath a tender uncle's careful eye;
To whom, but him, shou'd then Cornaro fly?
To him his cause of anxious grief unfold?
His country, name, and parentage, he told;
At once, confess'd his honourable flame,
And begg'd permission to address the dame.
To the sweet maid Cornaro urgent su❜d,
And fair Delphina to his hopes subdu'd;
Nor, modesty, herself, a blush put on,
To be by such a lover quickly won.
Smoothly, thus far, to happiness, he went,
Nothing was wanting, but the sire's consent;
Which one, endow'd as he, was sure to gain,
And when, once seen, would certainly obtain.
Th' observing uncle mark'd the wond'rous youth,
Fathom'd his love, his constancy, and truth:
Said, to her father, pleas'd, he would them speed.
He said, and soon the enamour'd youth agreed.
Lo! with its precious freight the vessel stor'd,
Cornaro, and his happiness, on board.
Bless'd with chaste beauty, he such trifles scorn'd
As Jason stole, or Menelaus mourn'd.
Can gold, the heart, like conquering beauty move?
Or what is lust compar'd to sacred love?
And now, for Malta, with full sails they stand,
Came, saw, and all but touch'd the promis'd land.
When, O sad scene of Fortune's altering brow,
False, as the skies above, or seas below;
A Turkish galley mark'd them from afar,
Pursu'd their vessel, unprepar'd for war;
Resistance vain, by numbers overborne,
To Smyrna were they carried slaves forlorn.
Can words-what thought can scarce conceive-express
The uncle's, virgin's, lover's deep distress?
Compar'd with which the mangling knife would please, And the fierce rack's severest pangs be ease.
And now, expos'd to public sale they stood,
Amidst the bartering Turk's insulting crowd:
Immortal souls the property decreed
Of the best bidder,-like the ox, or steed.
E'n this the lovers bore, each other near,
And, yet unparted, felt no full despair.
But, see, at length, accomplish'd wo arrive!
To deal the last, sad wound, she had to give:
Her sable store she cull'd, the dart to find,
Nor left one half so venomed shaft behind.
Among the dealers of this cruel fair,
Traffic accurs'd-that makes mankind its ware;
A youthful Turk pass'd young Cornaro by,
Health flush'd his cheek, and lust inflam'd his eye.
And to the female slaves his way he bent,
'Twas there his gold must have its wanton vent.
How should Delphina, then, escape his sight,
Too fatally, in midst of sorrow, bright?
Her breast took beauty from the heaving sigh;
Nor could the tear that drown'd eclipse her eye;
But falling on her damask cheek, it stood,
Like the pearl dew-drop on the morning bud.
He quickly saw the too distinguish'd fair,
And thought his prophet's paradise was there.
Her price, at once, unquestioning he paid,
The fatal veil around her beauties spread,
And dragg'd exulting off, the swooning maid.
'Twas then Cornaro felt distress complete,
And knew the worst extreme of torturing fate.
Furies to plague him, now, had striven in vain,
Nor gnawing vultures could increase his pain,
Too fierce for human nature to sustain.
He sunk beneath his sorrow's dreadful load,
And, senseless, from excess of anguish stood.
When, lo!-one graver Turk among the rest,
And more distinguished by his costlier vest,
A nicer curiosity express'd.
Each slave examin'd, as he pass'd along,
And on each circumstance attentive hung.
He ask'd their country, parentage, and name,
And how each drooping wretch a slave became.
Behold him to Cornaro now apply;
Full on his face he fix'd a stedfast eye;
Then, ask'd his soul, if what he saw was true.
And, that it was some sure reflection knew.