« PreviousContinue »
soul with his own lofty knowledge, and loftier aspirings. When I brought home the Sphinx he alone rejoiced not, but with a sorrowful countenance warned me against its counsels, and urged me to expel it from the city. Instead of surrendering himself to the pleasures that occupied all beside, he wandered from town to town, and from land to land, though a prince, foretelling woe, and calling upon the apostate race to return to the God of their fathers. None listened—I least of all — the power of that Godhead upon this earth I trusted to destroy for ever!
“In the Sphinx was my confidence: he knew the secrets of the world from its creation; our fathers had died, but he had lived through all. I sought him in his hall— by night, alone; and with a heart that trembled for the response, I asked --Shall not the power of the unseen God come to an end on the earth ?' It replied. “It may. “But when?' I eagerly rejoined—but when?' “When there ceases to be a believer.' 'Oh! I exclaimed — what do I hear?_When there ceases to be a believer!'—“There are two!''Yes'—said the terrible monster, “and they are in thy power!'
“Let oblivion cover the days of my spirit's torment that succeeded! Let the sound of those horrible words “they are two -- they are in thy power,' which rung through my soul, and tossed it on the billows of perdition, some time cease, oh God! Let those struggles with the virtue, the sublime faith, the fathomless energies of a female mind, swayed and smitten by the deeper energies
of a female's love, be held in sacred silence;— thus much only be there now revealed :
“In the secret of our pavilion, Thua reclined before me, gazing forth upon those fountains and groves which are now destroyed. Her resplendent mind was in full play, throwing into her countenance most marvellous beauty; ex patiating on our youth, - our loves, our glory; on the charms of that scene where her eyes were now wandering—the scene of our youthful felicity; and, at times, turning back into the treasures of antiquity, for lays, and traditions, and sentences, that accorded with her feelings at the moment. The darkness which I had of late cast upon her spirit seemed totally to have vanished ;— the misery with which my projects and persuasions had wrung it, seemed forgotten; but while I gazed with wonder and admiration on her charms, and gloried in the wealth of her intellect, pouring forth thoughts like a river--my heart throbbed with the desperate emotions of the consciousness of my destiny. Starting from the momentary reverie into which she had beguiled me, I exclaimed—“Thua! knowest thou that this night decides our fate for ever! Knowest thou that this night the earth is free, or its people are no more ?' Like a palm-tree suddenly shrivelled by the burning blast, Thua sank at once, as struck with instant death; but as suddenly starting up, she grasped my arm with a fearful energy, and, with a look of awful meaning, said faintly -Arzalan! what sayest thou? Where learnedst thou this?
"' From the Sphinx.'
“ "Oh, that dreadful Sphinx! Would to God it had never been brought hither! Once, once more only Oh, Arzalan! let me be heard !-abandon the counsels of the cruel Sphinx,--shun, distrust him!'
“ Thua! listen! Can the Sphinx err? Is not his wisdom well known? Has he not for ages protected his city against the whole world ?'
“'Has he protected it now? Oh, Arzalan! Arzalan! Fear him-shun him! And my father! ---shall the Sphinx prevail against my father?'
“ Thua! thy father shall partake our felicity. He shall drink of the cup of peace which the Sphinx has taught me to mingle :-a momentary sleep, and he shall rise to immortality. Will not all power be ours ?- to restore — 10 create—to re-create ?'
«Oh, Arzalan! Oh, my beloved ! by all that the ancients taught, of pure, holy, and eternal-by all that we have loved and rejoiced in— by the certainty of ages of bliss here—by our hope of eternal peace, trust not the dark speeches of this cruel creature. Spare ! oh, spare my father!'
«« « Thua! what askest thou ! my life? and our immortality? I have sworn the irrevocable oath! This night, the Sphinx has said, this night I am a god, or nothing. Even thou believest the Sphinx when he foretells evil; this night yield me thy consent, or I cease for ever!'
“ Perish, then! if I cannot save thee, I can perish with thee!'
“At these words, Affod himself entered. His eyes sought Thua with a look of unspeakable anguish; he stood and gazed upon her for a space, in the silence of misery, and exclaimed, “ Alas! my child !!
"• Affod,” I said, 'why troublest thou my reign ? Take the cup of peace, and let it unite us for ever!! He took it from my hand ;-I saw it in his face, that he knew its nature ; but he was calm as in his hour of meditations; he drank it up. A shriek from Thua-I turned, and beheld her in that attitude of woe which has continued through ten thousand years—she had ceased to be!
"In the agony of despair, I gazed upon her father ; but instead of that change which I anticipated — the change of death — a sudden glory had wrapped him. His mortal frame appeared to have melted away; and his spirit, glowing like the liquid mirror of the sun, stood before me; and, lifting aloft his radiant arm, — Arzalan!' he pronounced, in a tone that has found an everlasting echo- thou hast brought all life to an end!' At that word the shudder of an earthquake passed through the palace ;-dreadful thunders broke above, and one wild wail of ineffable woe rang through the air. I looked, but Affod had disappeared. I felt the freezing pang which severed my spirit from the body, and I departed to my doom. As I passed through the palace, through the city, through the whole land, I beheld that all life had ceased. Not a creature, great or small, breathed; the very frames of the primæval race were annihilated; and nothing remained but the scattered statues of our ancient heroes.
“Once in a thousand years, an angel of Power passes before me through the desert, and lays open this scene of my glory and my crime, that I may behold the ruin I have produced ; that I may gaze on that form of inextinguishable woe; and revive in my spirit all the strength of hell. Depart! it is for no living eye, much less for a nature frail as thine, to behold the terrors of my trial.”
TO MORGAN LE FAY.
BY J. F. HOLLINGS.
Nymph of undying Song! thy stainless brow,