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The garb, the arts, the creed, the tongue, the same

As when to Tarquin Cuma's sybil came.

* The Etrurian language perished between the age of A ugustus and that of Julian.
— Lkitch's Mailer on Ancient Art.
\ r<aith, the Egyptian goddesa.



The soil's first fathers, with elaborate hands,
Had closed the rocky portals of the place ;

No egress opens to unhappier lands :
As tree on tree so race succeeds to race,

From sleep the passions no temptations draw.

And strife bows childlike to the patriarch's law ;


Ambition wri^ not ; each soft lot was cast ;

Gold had no use ; with war expired renown ;
From priest to priest mysterious reverence past ;

From king to king the mild Saturnian crown :
Like dews, the rest came harmless into birth;
Like dews exhaling — after gladdening earth.


Not wholly dead indeed, the love of praise —

When can that warmth from heaven forsake the heart ?

The Hister's* lyre still thrill'd with Camsee's lays,
Still urn and statue caught the Arretian art.

And hands, least skill'd, found leisure still to cull

Some flowers, in offering to the Beautiful.


Hence, the whole vale one garden of delight
Hence every home a temple for the Grace ;

Who worships Nature finds in Arts the rite ;
And Beauty grows the Genius of the Place.

Enough this record of the happy land ;

Whom watch, whom wait ye for, lovely band ?

* HisTEK, the Etfuscan minstrel. — Camsee, Camese, or Cam(ese, the mytho-
logical sister of Janus (a national diety of the Etrurians) whose art of song is sup-
posed to identify her with the Caraoena or music of the latin poets — Akbetium
celebrated for the material of the Etruscan vases.



Listen awhile ! — The strength of that soft state,
The arch's kej^-stones, are the priest and king ;

To guard all power inviolate from debate.
To curb all impulse, or direct its wing,

In antique forms to mould from childhood all ; —

This guards more strongly than the Alpine wall.


The regal chief might wed as choice inclined,
Not so the daughters sprung from his embrace,

Law, strong as caste, their nuptial rite confined
To the pure circle of the Lartian race j

Hence with more awe the kingly house was viewed,

Hence nipp'd ambition bore no rival feud.


But now, as on some eldest oak, decay

In the proud topmost boughs is serely shown ;

While life yet shoots from every humbler spray —
So, of the royal tribe, one branch alone

Remains ; and all the honours of the race

Lend their last bloom to smile in Ogle's face.(®)


The great arch-priest (to whom the laAvs assign
The charge of this sweet blossom from the bud).

Consults the annals archived in the shrine.

And, twice before, Avhen fail'd the Lartian blood,

And no male heir ^vas found, the guiding page

Records the expedient of the elder age.


Rather than yield to rival tribes the hope

That wakes aspiring thought and tempts to strife,
And (lowering awful reverence) rashly ope

The pales that mark the set degrees of life,
The priest (to whom the secret only known)
Unlock'd the artful portals of the stone ;

And watch'd and lured some wanderer, o'er the steep,

Into the vale, return for ever o'er ;
The gate, like Death's, reclosed upon the keep —

Earth left its ghost upon the Elysian shore.
And what more envied lot could earth provide —
The Hesperian gardens and the royal bride ?


A priestly tale the simple flock deceived :

The gods had care of their Tagetian child ! (^)

The nuptial garland for a god they weaved ;
A god himself U23on the maid had smiled ;

A god himself renewed the race divine.

And gave new monarchs to the Lartian line.


Yet short, alas, the incense of delight

That lull'd the new-found Ammon of the Hour ;

Like love's own star, upon the verge of night.
Trembled the torch that lit the bridal bower ;

Soon as a son was born — his mission o'er —

The stranger vanish'd to his gods once more.



Two temples closed the boundaries of the place,
One (vow'd to Tina) in its walls conceal'd

The granite-portals, by the former race
So deftly fashion'd, — not a chink reveal'd

Where (twice unbarr d in all the ages flown)

The stonj^ donjon mask'd the door of stone.

The fane of Mantu* form'd the opposing bound

Of the long valley ; where the surplus wave
Of the main stream a gloomy outlet found,

Split on sharp rocks beneath a night of cave,
And there, in torrents, down some lost ravine
Where Alps took root — fell heard but never seen.


Right o'er this cave the Death-Power's temple rose ;

The cave's dark vault was curtain' by the shrine ;
Here by the priest (the sacred scrolls depose)

Was led the bridegroom when renewed the line ;
At night, that shrine his steps unprescient trod —
And morning came, and earth had lost her god !


Nine days had now the Augur to the flock

Announced the coming of the heavenly spouse ;

Nine days his steps had wandered through the rock,
And his eye watched through unfamiliar boughs,

And not a foot-fall in those rugged ways !

The lone Alps wearied on his lonely gaze —

* Mantu, or Mandu, the Etrurian God of the Shades. Fane is a purely Etrus-
can word.



But now this day (the tenth"''') the signal torch
Streams from the temple ; the mysterious swell

Of long-drawn music peals from aisle to porch : —
He leaves the bright hall where the j:Esarsf dwell.

He comes, o'er flowers and fountains to preside,

He comes, the god-spouse to the mortal bride —


He comes, for whom ye watch'd, lovely band,
Scatter your flowers before his welcome feet !

Lo, where the temple's holy gates expand.

Haste, ye nymphs, the bright'ning steps to meet !

Why start ye back ? — What though the blaze of steel

The form of Mars, the expanding gates reveal —


The face, no helmet crowns with war, displays
Not that fierce god from whom Etruria fled ;

Cull from far softer legends while ye gaze,

Not there the aspect mortal maid should dread !

Have ye no songs from kindred Castaly

Of that bright wanderer from the OlympianJ sky,


When in Arcadian dells his silver lute

Hush'd in delight the nymph and breathless fawn ?
Or are your cold Etrurian minstrels mute

Of him whom Syria worshipp'd as the Dawn
And Greece as fair Adonis ? Hail, hail !
Scatter your flowers, and welcome to the vale !

* Ten was a sacred number of the Etrurians, so also was twelve,
•j- ^SARS, the name given culkdively to the deities.

Suet. Aug. 97. Diu. Cass, xxvi. p. 589.
^ Apollo.



Wondering the stranger moves ! That fairy land,
Those forms of dark yet lustrous loveliness, (^^)

That solemn seer, who leads him by the hand ;
The tongue unknown, the joy he cannot guess,

Blend in one marvel every sound and sight ;

And in the strangeness doubles the delight.


Young ^gle sits within her palace bower,

She hears the cymbals clashing from afar —

So Ormuzd's music welcomed in the hour
When the sun hastened to his morning-star.

Smile, Star of Morn — he cometh from above !

And twilight melteth round the steps of Love.


Save the gray Augur (since the unconscious child
Sprang to the last kiss of her dying sire)

Those eyes by man's rude presence undefiled.
Had deepened into woman's. As a lyre

Hung on unwitnessed boughs, amidst the shade,

And but to air her soul its music made.


Fair was her prison, walled with woven flowers,
In a soft isle embraced by softest waters.

Linnet and lark the sentries to the towers.
And for the guard Etruria's infant daughters ;

But stronger far than walls, the antique law,

And more than hosts, religion's shadowy awe.



Thus lone, thus reverenced, the young virgin grew
Into the age, when on the heart's calm wave

The light winds tremble, and emotions new
Steal to the peace departing childhood gave;

When for the vague Beyond the captive pines,

And the soul misses — what it scarce divines,


Lo where she sits — (and blossoms arch the dome)
Girt by young handmaids ! — Near and nearer swelling

The cymbals sound before the steps that come
O'er rose and hayacinth to the bridal dwelling ;

And clear and loud the summer air along

From virgin voices floats the choral song.


Lo where the sacred talismans diffuse (")

Their fragrant charms against the Evil Powers ;

Lo where young hands the consecrated dews

From cusped vervain sprinkle round the flowers,

And o'er the robe(^^) with broidered palm-leaves sown.

That decks the daughter of the peaceful throne !


Lo, on those locks of night the myrtle crown !

Lo where the heart beats quick beneath the veil ;
Lo where the lids, cast tremulously down.

Cloud stars which Eros as his own might hail ;
Oh lovelier than Endymion's loveliest dream,
Joy to the heart on which those eyes shall beam !



The bark comes bounding to the islet shore,
The trelKced gates fly back ; the footsteps fall

Through jasmined galleries on the threshold floor;
And in the Heart-Enchainer's golden thrall,

There, spell-bound halt ; — So, first since youth began

Her eyes meet youth in the charm'd eyes of man !


And there Art's two opposed Ideals rest ;

There the twin flowers of the old world bloom forth
The classic symbol of the gentle West,

And the bold type of the chivalric North.
What trial waits thee, Cymrian, sharper here
Than the wolfs death-fang or the Saxon's spear ?


But would ye learn how he we left afar.
Girt by the stormy people of the wild.

Came to the confines of the Hesperus Star,
And the soft gardens of the Etrurian child ?

Would ye yet lingering in the wondrous vale,

Learn what time spares if sorrow can assail?


What there, forgetful of the vanish'd dove,
(Lost at those portals) did the King befall ;

Pause till the hand has tuned the harp to love.
And notes that bring young listeners to the hall ;

And he whose sires in Cymri reign'd, shall sing

How Tusca's daughter loved the Cymrian King.


The Saxon Thane

Led three tall ships, and loosed them on the Dane."

Page 103, stanza xxv.

Harold is called both Earl and Thane ; in fact, though the
names imply different degrees of rank ; an Earl was a Thane
(thegn) though a Thane was not necessarily an Earl. The word
" Thane," appears applied by Saxon poets indiscriminately to
those possessed of superior dignity. Thus, Csedmon calls the
angels Thanes —

" The glory-fast Thegns
Praised the King.''

Shauon Tuuner's Tran&lation from Csedmon, ^ng.
iSaxo?is, vol. i. p. 386;

and in the two MSS. of Layamon's Brut, (copies of which Sir
F. Madden has annexed to a translation that, for the first time,
makes the public acquainted with a poem that has much higher
claims to our admiration than mere antiquity,) knight and Thane
seem to have borne much the same general signification, knight
(or cniht) in the one being often Thegn in the other.*

* These thanes were also known as knights." (PAXcnAVE's Commonwealth,
part i. p. 578); this, however, refers to a later period than that of Arthur: originally
cniht meant a youth, and is used in that sense by Caedmon. See Sharon Turner's
Anglo-Sa.xons, vol. iii. p. 126.


2 "And pleased, beheld spur midway up the hill,
His knights and squires."

Page 106, stanza xxxviii.

It need scarcely be observed, that the title of knight,* as it is
now understood, is very incorrectly given to the followers of the
Heathen Harold (or, indeed, in an age so early, to the Christian
Arthur himself.) It may be remarked, however, that when
Harold speaks in his own person, he does not lay claim to the
title. Nor were heralds (so freely introduced in the poem) yet
known. They do not appear in England, under that name at
least, till the reign of Edward III. But those accustomed to
the delightful anachronisms of a similar kind, both in the ro-
mantic lays and the heroic poems of chivalry, will require no
apology for what, while most departing from the costume of
Arthur's historical day, does in truth adhere strictly to the man-
ners of the time in which Arthur took his poetical existence, and
was re-created by knightly minstrels as the type of knighthood.

I assume, throughout the poem, that Arthur understands the
language of the Saxons, and that any conversation between them
is carried on in that tongue. For the evidence that a dialect
closely allied to the Anglo-Saxon was spoken in Britain long
before the invasion of Hengist, see Palgrave's English Com-
monwealth (vol. i. c. i. p. 27), a work that combines English
discretion with German learning. I assume, also, that Arthur,
as sovereign over tributary kings in Gaul, and as intimately allied
with Teutonic and Scandinavian potentates, is acquainted with
the chief dialects of the north, and is thus enabled to communi-
cate with the idolatrous Aleman priest, and other Northern per-
sonages, whom the progress of the story may introduce.

* Even the word Earl, though not unknown to the earlier Anglo-Saxons, was
employed by them in a dilTerent sense from that which it afterwards borrowed from
the Danish jarl. At first, it meant merely a person of noble race, of Earl kind, —
but the Danes applied it originally to a leader ; it then became the name given to
the rulers of the provinces under the king, and at length wholly supplanted the old
English title of Alderman, as applied to such high dignitaries." See Palgrave's
History of England, p. 2G7, and Palgrave's Commonwealth, part I. c. iii. p. 118.



3 "And cried 'Alfader! but for the respect/'' &c.

Page 107, stanza xli.

Alfader — Universal Father — a name given by the Teuton
and Scandinavian nations to the supreme Deity, often applied
to Odin, (and indeed, in the Prose Edda, never applied to any
other god), but, according to some learned authorities, apper-
taining only, in strict mythological truth, to a more serene and
supreme chief in the Northern Pantheon. It should here be re-
membered that the Saxons (though not yet converted to Christi-
anity) are represented as having attained to a much greater de-
gree of civilization than the wandering Aleman tribe,* whose
priest Arthur saves from the wolf: and so (somewhat too flat-
teringly) their superstition is supposed to have lost much of its
elder and more sanguinary barbarism.

4 " The bird which Harold bore

As was the Saxon wont, whate'er his way."

Page 111, stanza Ivi.

The haw^k, or falcon, was also the usual companion of the
Cymrian chiefs. But there may be a peculiar reason for the
special favour it enjoyed with the Saxons. The hawk w^as
sacred to Odin, or, as the Saxons (fond of the w) wrote the
name, Woden, and almost inseparably borne by the high-born
warriors of the nation by whom Odin was worshipped, w^hether
Teutonic or Scandinavian. Those wdio have only glanced over
the picturesque passages of our Saxon history will remember
that the Bayeux tapestry represents Harold, the last Saxon king,
with his faithful falcon on his wrist. Hounds were also invari-
able attendants of the Saxon chiefs, and I may here remark that
the gre-hound of Wales and Saxon England could scarcely be
the present greyhound, who tracks his quarry by the eye, not
scent, since Ethelstan sent to North Walesf (famous for that de-

* The heathen priest and his wild troop are not represented as a fair specimert
in that day, of the great Aleman family, but as a primitive and barbarous offshoot
from the main stem.

f Malmsb. lib. ii p. 60.



scription of dog) for such as had " s cent-tracking noses^'^'' to
find the deer in their coverts. Whatever the precise species of
the hunting dogs, so esteemed and promoted (which I have called
*^ blood-hounds or ban-dogs,")* they were capable of coping
with the wolf and the wild boar, which then abounded in Great
Britain. t The reader will notice that, though Harold unscrupu-
lously uses his dogs to find his foe, he does not employ them to
seize it — a delicate distinction which later Anglo-Saxons, in
their colonial settlements, have not always observed.

5 " AVlien Caesar arch'd with moving steel the Rhine."

Page 112, stanza Ix

See in Plutarch (vit. Cses.) and in Caesar's Commentaries (lib.
iv.) the description of this renowned passage. Cassar w^as the
first Roman who ever crossed the Rhine as an enemy. To do
so in vessels he deemed it not only unsafe, but unworthy of his
own and the Roman dignity. Ten days were consumed in the
construction of this bridge and the transport of his legions.

6 "A wise Etrurian Lar, forewarned ('t was said)
By his dark Ctere, from the danger fled."

Page 116, stanza Ixxv.

Csere, one of the twelve cities in the Etrurian league (though
not originally an Etrurian population), imparted to the Romans
their sacred mysteries : hence the word Casremonia. This holy

* Ban-dogs, more properly barid-dogs, (a race not very satisfactorily defined in
Johnson's Dictionary,) were hounds trained to bait the boar and the bull. Cam-
den (see Middlesex in his Britannia) says that "three of them could manage a
bear." The name is apparently derived from their being banded against their
quarry. In later times they were much used as watch-dogs. The Saxon name
for blood-hound was statth-hound.

t In the curious Anglo-Saxon Calendar, published by Strutt (Horda, 1. 24,) Sep-
tember is the month appropriated to " Hunting the Wild Boar," Edward the Con-
fessor gave a wood and a hyde of land, with the custody of Bernwood Forest, in
Bucks, to the huntsman, Nigel, (and his heirs) for having slain a wild boar which
had much infested the said forest of Bernwood. See Archa^ol. vol. iii. p. 15. Even
so late as the time of Fitstephen, wild boars abounded in the large forest " that lieth
very near London."


city was in close connexion with Delphi. An interesting account
of it, under its earlier name *' Agylla," will be found in Sir W.
Cell's *' Topography of Rome and its vicinity." The obscure
passage in Plutarch's Life of Sylla, which intimates that the
Etrurian soothsayers had a forewarning of the declining fates of
their country, is well known to scholars ; who have made more
of it than it deserves.

The word lar is here used in its most reserved sense — that of
" Lord." It occurs too frequently in monumental inscriptions
to designate any regal, or, perhaps, any lofty title ; but those an-
tiquaries who have proceeded to strip its -signification of any
rank at all (see Micali, v. ii. c. xxi. page 70, note), and consider
it merely a prenomen, argue on very insufficent grounds ; they
presume too much on the frequency of the word in inscriptions
— a good argument against its identification with princely rank,
none against its identification with noble. It would rarely hap-
pen that any not noble would have had mortuary inscriptions at
all. I may as well observe here that the adjective larian
would be derived from the lar, or household god ; the adjective
lartian, from the lars, or lord : But for the sake of euphony,
the word lar (as applied to a chief) has been used in this poem
instead of lars.

7 " His rod the Augur waves above the ground,
And cries ' In Tina's name I bless the soil !' "

Page 117, stanza Ixxxi.

Tina was the Jove of the Etrurians. The mode in which
this people (whose mysterious civilization so tasks our fancy
and so escapes from our researches) appropriated a colony is
briefly described in the text. The Augur made lines in the air
due north, south, east, and west, marked where the lines crossed
upon the earth ; then he and the chiefs associated with him sat
down, covered their heads, and waited some approving omen
from the gods. The Etrurian Augurs were celebrated for
their power over the electric fluid. The vulture was a popular


bird of omen in the founding of colonies. See Niebuhr,
MuUer, &c.

8 " And all the honours of the race

Lend their last bloom to smile on ^]<2;lo\s face.'^

Page 120, stanza xciii.

The Etrurinns paid more respect to women than most of the
classical nations, and admitted females to the throne. The
Augur (a purely Etruscan name and office) was the highest
power in the state. In the earlier Etruscan history the Augur
and the king were unquestionably united in one person. Lat-
terly, this does not appear to have been necessarily (nor perhaps
generally) the case. The King (whether we call him lar or
lucumo), as well as the Augur, was elected out of a certain
tribe, or clan; but in the strange colony described in the poem,
it is supposed that the rank has become hereditary in the
family of the chief who headed it, as would probably ha^e been
the case even in more common-place settlements in another
soil. Thus, the first Etrurian colonist, Tarchun, no doubt had
his successors in his own lineage.

I cannot assert that ^^gle is a purely Etruscan name ; it is one
common both with the Greeks and Latins. In Apollodorus
(ii. 5) it is given to one of the Hesperides, and in Virgil (Eclog.
vi. 1. 20) to the fairest of the Naiads, the daughter of the Sun ;
but it is not contrary to the conformation of the Etruscan lan-
guage, as, by the way, many of the most popular Latinized
Etruscan words are, such as Lucumo^ for Lauchme ; and even
Porsena, or, as Virgil (contrary to other authorities) spells and
pronounces it, Porse;?na (a name which has revivecl to fresh
fame in Mr. Macaulay's noble " Lays"") is a sad corruption ;
for, as both Niebuhr and Sir William Gell remark, the Etruscans
had no o in their language. Pliny informs us that they supplied
its place by the v. \ apprehend that an Etrurian would have
spelt Porsena Pwrsna.*

* Drydcn, with an accurate tlelicacy of erudition for which one might scarcely
give him credit, does not in his translation follow Virgil's quantity I'orscnna, but
makes the word short, Porsena.


9 " The gods had care of their Tagetian child."

Page 121, stanza xcvii.

Tages — the tutelary genius of the Etrurians. They had a
noble legend that Tages appeared to Tarchun, rising from a
furrow beneath his plough, with a man's head and a child's
body ; sung the laws destined to regulate the Etrurian colonist,
then sunk, and expired. In Ovid's Metamorphoses (xvi. 533)
Tages is said to have first taught the Etrurians to foresee the future.

10 " Those forms of dark yet lustrous loveliness."

Page 124, stanza cvii.

Whatever the original cradle of the mysterious Etrurians,
scholars, with one or two illustrious exceptions, are pretty well
agreed that it must have been somewhere in the East ; and the
more familiar we become with the remains of their art, the
stronger appears the evidence of their early and intimate con-
nexion with the ^Egyptians, though in themselves a race de-
cidedly not ^Egyptian. See Micali, Stor. (S.^^. Antich. Pop.
But in referring to this delightful and learned writer, to whom
I am under many obligations, in this part of my poem, 1 must
own, with such frankness as respect for so great an authority
will permit, that I think many of his assumptions are to be
taken with great qualification and reserve.

11 "Lo ! where the sacred talismans diffuse

Their fragrant charms against the Evil Powers.
Lo ! where vouno- hands the consecrated dews
From cusped vervain sprinkle round the flowers."

Page 125, stanza cxiii.

The Etrurians had talismans against the evil eye, wiiich were
impregnated with spices. The vervain was as holy with the
Etrurians as with our Druid ancestors. A crown of vervain
was, on solemn occasions, worn by the Augur.

12 "And o'er the robe with broidered palm-leaves sown."

Page 125, stanza cxiii.

The purple gown, or toga, broidered with palm-leaves and
stars, is supposed to have been the distinguishing robe of the
princely families. It was semicircular, as Micali observes in a
note, vol. i. 97.




Invocation to Love ; Arthur, iEgle, and the Augur ; Dialogue between the
Cymrian and the Etrurian ; Meanwhile Lancelot gains the sea-shore,
where he meets with the Aleman-priest and his sons, and hears tidings
of Arthur ; He tells them the tale of his own infancy ; Crosses the sea ;
Lands on the coast of Brcttanuie ; And is guided by the crystal ring
in quest of Arthur towards the Alps ; He finds the King's charger,
which Arthur had left without the vaulted passage into the Hap}>y Val-
ley ; But the rock-gate being closed, he cannot discover the King, and,

Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonKing Arthur → online text (page 7 of 25)