Egerton Brydges.

Odo, count of Lingen. A poetical tale: in six cantos online

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University of California • Berkeley

Gift of
Mr. & Mrs. Norman H. Strouse







Sir EGEllTON BRYDGES , Bar.^ , B. C. de S. etc. etc.


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X HIS Poem is founded on two historical In-
cidents , which will be related in a Note. It is
written in rhymes irregularly disposed , like
those of Milton's Lycidas. The advantage pro-
posed by the adoption of this metre is the
freedom of blank verse , modified by some small
degree of the restraint formed by rhyme. The
most perfect specimen of English versification
in couplets is Dryden's Volume of Fables. But
even Dr) den cannot avoid monotony from this
measure , when it is applied to a long Narra-
tive : the monotony of Pope , with all his melli-
fluence , and all his merits, is admitted. Spenser,
following the Italians, has adopted the division
of Stanzas : — but there is one fundamental
defect in this division, when applied to Narrative
Poems ; — that it is too lyrical !

In the last Century, English Poetry had sunk
too much into the pursuit of mere technical


merits: in the present, it has gone too far into
the contrary extreme ; and set all rules and all
controul at defiance. The old principle is un-
doubtedly just :

« — Ubi plura nitent in carmine^ non ego paucis
OJfendar inaculis : »

Correctness can never make amends for dul-
ness: — but still there must be some polish;
some restraint ; some regard to propriety of
thought , and elegance of style.

Looking to the theories of secondary authors ,
of various ages and countries ; and to the ephe-
meral and perpetually-changing taste of the Mul-
tituae , at all times and places ; we might be led
to suppose that there are no fixed characteristics
of true poetry : but the mirror of true poetry is to
be found in the heart of Man; and in the quali-
ties of his intellectual existence. And of all Poe-
try 5 that which is ISarratwe is the most natural ;
unless it be Song , which shares with it this merit.

The most native and the noblest exercise of a
poetic imagination, is to invent characters, infuse
sentiment, associate imagery, and realize them


in action by a series of probable and interesting
incidents. Abstract sentiment may be beautiful
and just ; but it never can affect with the same
force, as when it is put into hfe in a well-wrought
fable. Didactic poetry therefore is always of a
lower class , and of inferior power.

The test of excellence in the execution lies
in combining originality grandeur pathos beauty
and truth of thought , with vigour of language.
If the highest degree of finish ; if terseness
of style , and perfect arrangement of words ,
can be added to these , it will still augment
the merit : but this mastery of the work-
manship must always be subordinate to the
value of the ore. A high degree of fiUagree-work,
employed on a material of little intrinsic worth ,
will only be preferred by feeble amateurs.

To excite a generous sympathy in the bosoms
of readers by pictures of exalted and eloquent
Virtue struggling gloriously with Injustice or
Misfortune, is to draw forth the seeds of the best
qualities of the human heart. There is indeed a
sort of impossible virtue , which impresses no be-


lief; and therefore awakens no emotion. Thus
when Imagination throws the reflection of its own
glowing colours on Reality , it must still follow
the tints of Nature. An unmingled picture
( — and how much worse an exaggerated pic-
ture — ) of the frailties of our human existence
hardens the heart ; and paralyses effort by despair.
And then — as to unmingled satire and raillery
• — and unmingled ridicule ; — if man be alv/a) s
wicked or ridiculous , what is there to laugh at ?
and if he be not, how can the malice be justified
which would make him appear so ?

1 3 Feb. 1824.

N. B. The Argument of the Poem , and the Note , to
which the Reader is requested to turn , will be found at
the End.


D ,



X ive hundred years , and more , have passed away ,
Since in yon low-fall'n city held his reign
A Prince , who well becomes the Muse*s strain.
A rude but \aliant people own'd his sway ;
Kor other Court , on that heroic day ,
Beauty could shew , so form'd the heart to gain.
Amid the tribes , the Prince around him drew ,
One friend above the rest his bosom knew:
A man of brilliant intellect and form;
One , whom ambition would to rashness warm : lo

Who gloried most to battle with the storm.
Odo, the Count of Lingen , was his name:
A lineage old , not wealthy , he could claim :
And now he hoped to gild an ancient race ;


a ODo.

And add lo all the shadowy rights, that trace

Their source to founts no common eyes can find,

The gold and rank -which win a vulgar mind.

He loyed , alas , the coarse applause assign'd

To vulgar greatness by the noisy crowd

Of flattering multitudes ; and when the loud 20

Shout rent the skies , and round about his car ,

Before , behind , the clamourous numbers pressed ,

His big heart swell'd « And thusw he cried, » my star!

»Thus shine for ever ! Fortune at my feet

)>Crouches her potent wand ! » — And then he bless'd

His fate , and murmur'd : « my ambition's sweet !

»It has no falls ; it has no clouds ; and round

My temples an unfading wreath is bound ! »

The Prince with gladness saw his favourite's fame
And wealth increase ; while still affairs of state 3o

Own'd his relieving hand j and drew the weight
On shoulders not his own ; ' — For who can blame
The love of ease , that fondly flies the thorns
Of wily politics ; and loves to sport
On perfumed beds- of flowers, and gently scorns
The moil of man's conflicting wants ? In Courts
Tis still the same : The Minister must bear
The price of honours ; — labour , danger , care !

In truth the Prince had reason good to fly
All vulgar joys ; and in oblivion sweet 4o

All vulgar cares to lose : his raptured eye


A form before it saw , whose beauteous mien

Could make the heart of Anchorite to beat ;

The loveliest Dame , in halls of Princes seen ;

Charm of all gazers , of each heart the Queen !

And him this Star of brightness bless'd ; his hand ,

To her betroth'd , the faithful pledge of love

On her white finger had imposed ; and She

Bow'd with soft chearfulne#s to his command;

With downcast looks her duty sought to prove; 5o

Breathed out her soul in every tender sigh ;

And hail'd the day , that tied the band , with extasy !

Odo , well pleased to see his master's mind ,
Caught in the net of love , cast off the rein
Of State to him with trust unchecked and blind ,
Sought not the wildering rapture to restrain ;
But yielded up with spirit unreprest
To her , who ruled it , his fond Sovereign's breast.

Bertha, in turn with gracious eyes beheld
The Servant , by whose toils her Lord possess'd 60

Leisure , content and freedom ! She repell'd
With gentle disbelief the tale , that dress'd
In hues of dark design his active zeal :
«Tis for himself , w the busy whispers said ,
«Tis for himself his ceaseless labours steal
ySlumber from night ; and waste his vigorous frame.
»The glory will be his : for him will spread
»The feast ! for him the shouts of mobs exclaim !

4 ODO. ^

»And wlien his power is link'd , and when the hold

»Of his dominion has its fixture due , 70

»0 then will that dissembling eye be bold

wWith unveil'd insolence; and the mean crew

»0f mercenary multitudes , that cling

»To his proud heels , their caps in air will fling ;

»And hail with brawls Count Odo for their King ! »

Sweet Bertha heard with disbelief; but deep
And long she pondered , what her heart forbade
To entertain with credence : in her sleep
Oft would the thought return , and make her sad :
But yet , as reason ruled , her generous breast 80

Suspicion of a guilt so base represt.
Count Odo, dress'd in smiles, with lofty air,
Self-confident , and happy , as the course
Of courtly forms required , from day to day
Still met the lovely Princess : nor would spare
Th'obeisance that became his rank to pay :
To his proud spirit it was still no force;
He look'd upon her lovely face ; and there
He saw a charm that monarchs might obey.
But while he worship'd, thoughts would sometimes stray; 90
And from his trembling eye there shot a beam ,
That guileless Bertha knew not how to deem ;
If it were doubt or awe, or th 'insult it would seem!

Days pass'd ; and months as quick ; and twice the race
Of the revolving Sun with rapid pace


Had ended : yet the rays of Bertha glowed

With warmth increasing in her Monarch's sight ;

Goodness had lustre on her charms bestowed;

And as her form was fair , her soul was bright.

From her loved lips wisdom and sweetness flow'd ;

And the Prince listen'd as to one divine.

Led by her counsel ; by her eloquence

Enraptured ; *twas his glory to resign

His thoughts to hers ; and as a fountain pure

Of virtue and of wisdom blended, thence

Love as of inspiration to dispense.

Odo , halfcharm'd, half wondering , sometimes caught

The tones that with such high dominion rul'd

His master's soul ; they seem'd so sweetly fraught

With unassuming peace; so little school'd

In the world's turmoils ; so in love with calm

Of trees , and murmuring rills , and song of birds ,

And all of nature's incense ; lowing herds ;

And bleat of flocks , and echo from the woods ,

And groan of winds , and fall of roaring floods ;

And utter'd such persuasion of the balm

Of joys like these, for whom the' assaults of life

Have wounded in its rude relentless strife ,

That he was safe , while from a draught so pure

His Master drew delirium, for it taught

That bold Ambition ills and curses wrought;

And if she held her dreaming Lord in lure

6 ODO.

Twas but to make his love of quiet sure.

But with Count Odo , e'en as v^ith the Queen,
The gossip Fame her meddling schemes ^w ould plot :
The fiend declared, it ne'er was woman's lot
To hold the potent wand her charms had gain'd ;
Yet spare to let it to the w orld be seen ! »

« The day will come » with many a nod and smile
And sly grimace, the medler said , « iho' slow, i3q

«The day will come , however deep the guile ,
wWhen all the wanted swing of rule attain/d ,
«Odo the force of Bertha's hand shall know. »

The Count attenti\^e heard the sad presage ;
And oft he turn'd it in his thought profound :
Well did he con the tale of every age;
And all he con'd mature reflection crown'd.
«I must not lightly list this gossip's tongue :
wWhat wisdom thinks , the gossip oft has sung.
wDivided empire women will not bear: i4o

»When Pleasure tires , they take the task of Care. »
Thus to himself the Count in sorrow spoke :
Oft on his lips the quivering murmur moved ;
And oft tlie deep sigh from his bosom broke :
The heaving mask , upon his face he bore ,
The storm that beat beneath it often proved :
But smiles at court and gladsome gests he wore ;
And still to Bertha dress'd his looks in awe ,
And admiration by respect subdued ;

CA]>rro I. 7

And seem'd , as if he in her beauty saw i5o

One whom from love Ambition could not draw :
One who believed the paths of Peace were strew'd
Alone with flowers of happiness and good!

Bertha beheld beneath the painful guise
Some secret movements lurking in his eye :
Cross its bright beam a passing vapour flies ;
Under its laugh of joy is treachery!

The Prince with looks of favour still survey *d
The friend , whose zealous labours left him free
To live with Bertha in retirement's shade; i6o

The tangles of her lovely hair to braid ;
Calmly to sleep beneath th'umbragious tree ;
And taste from nature's charms the true felicity.

« Bertha , » he cried , « was ever Prince so blest ,
wAs is the lot thy grateful husband shares ?
))Thy tender eyes , thy tuneful voice attest ,
»My happy look no false appearance wears!
»Lock'd in thine arms , I lose all anxious cares ;
»While Odo takes the task my taste foregoes ;
»And friendship crowns the joys, that love bestows !» i-^o

«My gracious Lord ! » said Bertha , « I can ill
»Repay the goodness , that must ever fill
»My mind with gratitude, respect , and love J
wExults my bosom , if my Lord approve
»My humble form : and if the Httle worth ,
»)And slender gifts that Nature on my birth

8 ODO.

))Has lotted , can content thy generous heart ;

wWhat T. armtli of language can my joy impart?

)>But , O my Lord and Sovereign , do not deem

wThy Bertha too presumptuous , if she seem i8o

j^For once to touch on ground beyond her sphere :

«I would not damp the happiness , whose rays

vWith light unclouded to thine eyes appear ;

»Nor chill with mean ungenerous fears the praise

))That unsuspecting Virtue burns to raise

)>To deeds of fair import : but , O my Sire ,

wTho' Bertha's love be true; (for, if the fire,

»That beams in yonder stars , be true , the flame

wThat burns in Bertha's bosom is the same , )

»Yet Odo's friendship calls the searching eye. IQ**

»Is my Lord sure , that in his zeal there glows

»No selfish ardor ? in his cares and toils

v'No schemes of treacherous grandeur interpose ?

«]N[o dark plot broods beneath his glosing smiles ? »

A deathlike chill arrests the Prince's heart ;
Through all his veins wild trembling horrors dart.
«My Bertha , is it thus ? Hast thou a cause ,
wFrom w hence thy thought this sad suspicion draws ? »
At length he cried with mournful tone : « My Lord »
She answer'd mildly, « it uould ill accord ^^^

«With the strict duty that I owe , to say ,
»I have a cause for thoughts I thus betray!
»I have no proper cause : they are the shades j


»The Avild surmises that distress my brain :

wl would dismiss them ; but each dream upbraids

»My long-kept silence : they return again ;

»And bring grief ^ ^vailings , murder in their train ! »

She ceased ; but drop'd a tear : and as her voice
Died on her lips , the Prince with soft caress
Chear'd her despondent spirit. « Raise thy soul, 210

j^Bertha , beyond these Phantoms , that rejoice
»Fiend-like to trouble human happiness ;
»And when the tides of rapture highest roll ,
wThen most with their infernal fangs to press ! »
Her eye look'd gently thro' the vapoury cloud,
That veil'd its brightness ; and she strove to raise
The Hope, that beamily through darkness plays.
But yet terrific visions would enshroud
The struggling rays of chearfulness , — « O hear !
j)Bertha ; the voice of Nature cries ! thine ear 220

»Is tuned to joy: come, listen to the grove,
»Where all is peace , and purity , and love.
))Dream no more dreams of sadness ! Virtue dwells
»Safe from th' assaults of mad Ambition's wiles :
)>Around her sacred haunts she casts her spells ;
))Nor fears Intrigue's designs , or Treason's smiles. »

« If prayers , my Lord ; » said Bertha : « if the glow
»0f heart devote and grateful can bestow
^Security , my Sovereign is secure !
»Long as his virtuous wishes , shall endure 280


»The happiness he merits : but beware 1
»My Sovereign , O beware : with piercing eye
»The secrets of thine Odo's bosom try :
» Virtue, that never asks the test to spare,
v)The mirror to its inmost thoughts can claim ;
»Arid come forth purer from the searching flame ! »

She spake: and then with downcast eyes withdrew j
But first ask'd pardon for her frank discourse ;
The Prince in sadness to his closet flew ;
There strove each word and accent to renew ; 3l4o

And give to each dark hint its native force.
uWhat means this stain on Odo's faith ? » «he cried:
<(Have baseless dreams alone the thought supplied ?
»Ah no! my Bertha ! thy sagacious mind
)>Was ne'er to faith of baseless dreams inclined !
»Illumined soul ! Effluence of all that's wise !
«No phantoms false delude thy searching eyes —
»There must be truth in what thy lips proclaim !
^Delusion never from that bosom came !
»Yet pause my fear ! if most I owe to Love , aSo

»Still Friendship also must my firmness p. ove.
»Odo, the friend of years , my youth's compeer,
»True in the field , when death was raging round ,
»And ever faithful mid the faithless found ,
^Shield of my fife against the rebel spear ,
DClad by my favours , lifted by my hand ,
wAll power he asks, and more at his command —


»Is Odo faithless ? he , by whom I'm woo'd

i>With seeming tears of boundless gratitude ?

»Then life's a lying dream : and Virtue's boast 260

uA phantom , soon in baseless "visions lost ! w


1 2 ODO.


VV HEN next the Count before the Prince appear'd ,
The Sovereign bent his searching eye ; and saw
The hght smile twinkle still ; and yet he heard
The soft tone of a mind that murmur'd joy.
«My gracious King » he said , « whose wish is law ,
»Whose happiness is my unlired employ ;
5>Is aught of pleasure wanting to the day ?
»Can aught be wanting to the Lord , whose bliss
»Berlha , in virtue as in form supreme , 270

^Guards by her care, and crowns by her caress?
»Wide through all Europe let the Enquirer stray;
»Bertha's angelic graces are the theme ! »

«Yes — Odo — yes — in Bertha's beauty reigns
wEach fascinating charm the Poet feigns.
» — But beauty, — Odo ! » — and he look'd with brow
Somewhat intent, as if to search his soul: '^
«Beauty is fading ; ^tis the mind's controul ,
)>To which the hearts and heads of Princes bow ! »
»In Bertha's wisdom lies tlie wondrous spell , 280

wThat holds dominion o'er thy Sovereign's love. » —

He ceased ; and Odo smiled ; but in the cell
Of his dark bosom vapours seem'd to move.


My Sovereign , in whom all my hopes are bound ;

»0f my affections , as my duty , Lord !

»It glads my soul that thy desert is crown'd

»With gift of female virtues , that accord

«With those that in my vSovereign*s bosom shine :

»And faith and love , as Bertha's lot , be thine !

»There is in -woman > when her beauteous form 290

wThe rays of an angelic spirit warm ,

»A charm of goodness. Evil dare not try !

»They flash ; and Fiends of Darkness trembling fly !

»When the flame's false alone ; w^hen beams of light

»Raised by lewd love are mischievously bright,

»Those Fiends beneath the frigtful lustre play,

»And bask luxuriant in delusive day I » —

« Wisdom » the Prince replied , « is ever rife
))0n Odo's lips : and eloquence distills
wFrom his persuasive tongue ; my soul it fills 3oo

»With glow ineffable , ^\hen she , my life ,
»My joy, the spring-tide of my earthly bliss,
)>Is Odo's praise : ^^ hat praise can be like his ? »

Thus Princes list the soothing tones, that melt
Upon their ears ; and thus the Mage supplies
The grateful sounds his cunning art has spelt
Play best upon their heart-strings ! Who denies
That Courtiers are magicians , and can wield
Wands that make Monarchs to their magic yield.
And where is Bertha? Lo ! the Prince's eyes 3io

l4 ODO*

Demand the radiant beauty of her inien :

With graceful step let lovely Bertha now,

The smile of tenderness upon her brow,

In all the glory of her charms be seen!

She comes. « Supreme in beauty, goodness, soul,

»And heart, v\hat fiery tides of rapture roll

)>Their torrents thro' my bosom , as I view

»My Bertha's angel form approach my sight !

»Immingled like the rainbow's changing hue,

wAll charms play round thee in successive light ! » 3 20

' — « My Lord , my Sovereign ! » in a tender voice

Cried Bertha : « spare my blushes : I rejoice

wBeyond what words can tell , that it is mine

))To have the bliss of love so pure as thine !

)>But we are mortals , and we must submit

«To the decree that human kind is born

»]Vot to unmixed bliss on earth : I mourn

wTo cast a transient shadow that may flit

wAcross this radiant vision of my fate : —

))But I am conscious of my earthly stale ; 33 o

)>And Sovereigns , like your virtuous self, must know ;

»For man , as there is joy , there must be woe ! »

Quick changed the Monarch's face : the look that beam'd
With raptiii e , turn'd to sable thoughtfulness :
In such rejection of his joy there seem'd
A secret , that the boldest might oppress !
Bertha, whose watchful cares incessant strove


The wishes of her honour'd Lord to learn,

Trembled , when she beheld the aspect stern

Of him , whose eyes an instant past beam'd love : 34o

«My Lord , » in tears she murmur'd , « if in aught

»Thy Bertha has offended , O forgive

»Her weakness ; for thy Bertha not in thought

»Has err'd : nor can her faithful bosom live

^Beneath thy frowns : it was the fear to lose

»A bhss too high for earth, that cast its hues

»0f black upon the vision, where the blaze

»Had beam'd to other eyes unblemish*d rays. »

«Enough , my Bertha ; or in joy of heart,
»Or in the tender notes of thoughtful care, 35o

»Thy looks and words a charm to me impart,
«Bertha's angelic face alone can wear;
»And only Bertha's tuneful lips can breathe :
)>Go ; from the meads a verdant chaplet wreathe ;
»And we will live unfading flowers beneath ! »

Bertha was calm'd : « I go , my Lord » she cried :
«How sweet the task , in midst of nature's pride ,
»To crop the treasures , that her bounty throws
wFrom the green earth — the violet, and the rose ;
))A11 the young spring's first birth, whose fragrance sends^ 350
wBorne upward floating on the wings of air,
«Sweet streams of incense , that their offering bear
))To their Creator: while my heart attends
»Tbe mute devotion; and its accents lends
»To hymn the note of gratitude and prayer I »

l6 ODO*

All in the Court went smoothly ; Odo's hand
Guided affairs of State uncheck'd : within
The palace-bowers Beauty and Sweetness fann'd
The flame of Love ; while yet Ambition's din
No schemes to trouble Odo's empire plann'd. ^70

But Power is ever jealous : in the breast
Deep lie the gnawing fears; there is no rest,
When the eye frowns ; or when the passing cloud
Seems for a moment favour to enshroud.
Sly malice; green-eyed Envy, ply their trade;
And boil the cauldron, of all mischief made:
«Is Bertha then thy friend ? » the glosing tongue ,
As if the words of friendship on it hung,
Exclaims, «I heard a whisper, Odo , say,
MHirn , we most praise , we most devote to fall; 3 80

Hi And him, we vow to death , a friend we call I
))If Bertha smiles then, is it to betray?))
«It cannot be ! )) cried Odo , as in ire ;
But to his heart deep sunk the subtle fire.

A year of tranquil happiness had past :
Bertha was superstitious; in her joy
Many a lone hour was given to fearful thought :
Her bosom whisper'd , « O that I could cast
«Far to the winds forebodings, that employ
»This mind , of woe and melancholy wrought ! 890

»There is a calm , that comes before the storm ;
»When all is stillest , then I dream , the last


wOf this unequal'd bliss I feel , is near. »
So came cold tremors o'er her melting form ;
And down her cheek descended the big tear,
And paled the roses of her beauteous face ;
And left the hue of sorrow in their place.

If Bertha's Lord was great in birth, and power,
Not less renown'd was Bertha's natal hour.
Her brother from his Sires a realm possest , l^oo

"Whose strength and splendor Glory's rolls attest.
Rumour soon brought the tidings to his ear,
That Bertha's cheek betray'd the frequent tear.
He wonder'd what a heart so good could ail.
"With all besides that could to bliss avail ;
And grieved by fits ; by fits repell'd the tale.
Odo , no less , at Bertha's alter'd eye
Look'd with suspicious wondering treachery.
Why gathering in that bosom's inmost shrine
Lies the deep sigh? Why with deep musings pine 410
Those eyes once beaming with unmlngled love ?
Does the skill'd mariner neglect the sign ,
That gathers in the sky ? He looks above ;
And in a speck the brooding tempest sees ;
Shall I , less skill'd , refuse the mark to seize ;
And when I safe may sail before the breeze
Into the port , blindly remain behind ;
And perish , for my folly , in the wind ?
«Those looks of sadness do but ill accord


l8 OBO*

«Wilh Bertha's wonted love ! » exclalm'd her Lord. 1^20

«Has aught of discord touch'd those tender strings

))0f harmony ? or from what sources springs

wThat cloud , thy smiles can break by fits alone ?

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Online LibraryEgerton BrydgesOdo, count of Lingen. A poetical tale: in six cantos → online text (page 1 of 5)