Imágenes de páginas

That instant rush'd between, and rear'd his shieldi
And met the broken blow, and thrust his lance
Fierce thro' the gorget of the English Knight.
A gallant man, of no ignoble line,
Was Gladdisdale. His fires had lived in peace,
They heap'd the hospitable hearth, they spread
The feast, their vassals loved them, and afar
The traveller told their fame. In peace they died;
For them the venerable fathers pour'd
A requiem when they slept, and o'er them rais'd
The sculptured monument. Now far away
Their offspring falls, the last of all his race,
Slain in a foreign land, and doom'd to share
The common grave.

Then terror seized the host
Their Chieftain dead. And lo! where on the wall,
Bulwark'd of late by Gladdisdale so well,
The son of Orleans stood, and swayed around
His falchion, keeping thus at bay the foc,
Till on the battlements his comrades sprang

And rais'd the shout of conquest. Then appallid
The English Aed : nor fled they unpursued,
For mingling with the foremost fugitives,
The gallant Conrade rush'd ; and with the throng,
The Knights of France together o'er the bridge
Fast speeded. Nor the garrison within
Durst let the ponderous portcullis fall,
For in the entrance of the fort the fight
Raged fiercely, and together thro' the gate
The vanquish'd English and their eager foes
Pass'd in the flying conflict.

Well I deem
And wisely did that daring Spaniard act
At Vera-Cruz, when he his yet sound ships
Dismantling, left no spot where treacherous Fear
Might still with wild and wistful eye look back.
For knowing no retreat, his desperate troops
In conquest sought their safety. Victors hence
At Tlascala, and o'er the Cholulans,
And by Otompan, on that bloody field

When Mexico her patriot thousands pour'd;
Fierce in vain valour on their ruffian foes.
There was a portal to the English fort
That opened on the * wall; a speedier path
In the hour of safety, whence the charmed eye-
Might linger down the river's pleasant course.
Fierce in the gate-way raged the deadly war ;.

* Vitruvius observes, in treating upon fortified walls, that: near the towers the wall should be cut within-side the breadth of the tower, and that the ways broke in this manner should only be joined and continued. by beams laid upon the two. extremities, without being made fast with iron; that in case the enemy should make himself master of any part of the wall, the besieged might remove this wooden bridge, and thereby prevent his passage to the other parts of the wall and into the towers.


The precaution recommended by Vitruvius had not been ob.. served in the construction of the English walls. On each side. of every tower, a small door opened upon the wall; and the garrison of one tower are represented in the poem as flying by this way from one to shelter themselves in the other. With the enterprizing spirit and the defensive arms of chivalry, the subsequent events will not be found to exceed probability,

For there the Maiden strove, and Conrade there,
And he of lowly line, bravelier than whom
Fought not in that day's battle. Of success
Desperate, for from above, the garrison
Could wield no arms, so certain to bestow
Equal destruction, of the portal's aid
The foe bethought them : then with lesser force
Their weapons fell ; abandoned was the gate;
And soon from Orleans the glad citizens
Beheld the hallowed banner on the tower
Triumphant. Swift along the lofty wall
The English haste to St. John's neighbouring fort,
Flying with fearful speed. Nor from pursuit
The victors ceased, but with the fugitives
Mingled and waged the war : the combatants,
Lock'd in the hostile grasp, together fall

. But foremost of the French, Dealing destruction, Coprade rush'd along : Heedless of danger, he to the near fort

Pass'd in the fight; nor did not then the Chief What most might serve bethink him : firm he stood In the portal, and one moment looking back Lifted his loud voice : thrice the warrior cried, Then to the war addrest him, now assail'd By numerous foes, who arrogant of power Threatened his single valour. He the while Stood firm, not vainly confident, or rash, But of his own strength conscious, and the post Friendly; for narrow was the portal way To one alone fit passage, from above O'erbrow'd by no out-jutting * parapet, Whence death might crush him. He in double mail Was arm'd; a massy burgonet, well tried

* The nachicolation : a projection over the gate-way of a town or castle, contrived for letting fall great weights, scalding water &c. on the heads of any assailants who might have got clo;: to i he gate. “ Machecollare, or machecoulare, says Coke, is to make a warlike device over a gate or other passage like to a grate, through which scalding water, or ponderous 01 offensive things may be cast upon the assaylants.”

« AnteriorContinuar »