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Had gone, poor boy! in soldiership to shine,
Theodric praised him, and they wept for joy In yonder house,—when letters from the boy Thanked Heav'n for life, and more, to use his phrase, Than twenty lives—his own commander's praise Then followed glowing pages, blazoning forth The fancied image of his leader's worth, With such hyperboles of youthful style As made his parents dry their tears and smile:
But differently far his words impressed
Once, when with hasty charge of horse and man Our arriere guard had checked the Gallic van, Theodric, visiting the outposts, found His Udolph wounded, weltering on the ground: Sore crushed, -half-swooning, half-upraised he lay, And bent his brow, fair boy! and grasped the clay. His fate moved e'en the common soldier's ruthTheodric succoured him ; nor lest the youth To vulgar hands, but brought him to his tent, And lent what aid a brother would have lent.
Meanwhile, to save his kindred half the smart
Their answers, on whose pages you might note That tears had fallen, whilst trembling fingers wrote Gave boundless thanks for benefits conferred, Of which the boy, in secret, sent them word, Whose memory Time, they said, would never blot; But which the giver had himself forgot.
In time the stripling, vigorous and healed, Resumed his barb and banner in the field,
And bore himself right soldier-like, till now The third campaign had manlier bronzed his brow; When peace, though but a scanty pause for breath, A curtain-drop between the acts of death, A check in frantic war's unfinished game, Yet dearly bought, and direly welcome, came. 'The camp broke
up, and Udolph left his chief As with a son's or younger brother's grief: But journeying home, how rapt his spirits rose ! How light his footsteps crushed St. Gothard's snows! How dear seemed ev’n the waste and wild Shreckhorn, Though wrapt in clouds, and frowning as in scorn Upon a downward world of pastoral charms; Where, by the very smell of dairy-farms, And fragrance from the mountain-herbage blown, Blindfold his native hills he could have known !
His coming down yon lake,—his boat in view
Ere long, his bosom triumphed to unfold
Her women fair; her men robust for toil; Her vigorous souls, high-cultured as her soil; Her towns, where civic independence flings The gauntlet down to senates, courts, and kings ; Her works of art, resembling magic's powers ; Her mighty fleets, and learning's beauteous bowers, These he had visited, with wonder's smile, And scaroe endured to quit so fair an isle. But how our fates from unmomentous things May rise, like rivers out of little springs ! A trivial chance postponed his parting day, And public tidings caused, in that delay, An English jubilee. 'Twas a glorious sight; At eve stupendous London, clad in light, Poured out triumphant multitudes to gaze; Youth, age, wealth, penury, smiling in the blaze: Th'illumined atmosphere was warm and bland, And Beauty's groups, the fairest of the land, Conspicuous, as in some wide festive room, In open chariots passed with pearl and plume. Amidst them he remarked a lovelier mien Than e'er his thoughts had shaped, or eyes had seen : The throng detained her till he reined his steed, And, ere the beauty passed, had time to read The motto and the arms her carriage bore. Led by that clue, he left not England's shore Till he had known her: and to know her well Prolonged, exalted, bound enchantment's spell; For with affections warm, intense, refined, She mixed such calm and holy strength of mind, That, like Heav'n's image in the smiling brouk, Celestial peace was pictured in her look. Her's was the brow, in trials unperplexed, That cheered the sad and tranquillized the vexed :
She studied not the meanest to eclipse,
the wisest listened to her lips ;
Yet, ere they wedded, matters of concern
Thus, loth to wound their hospitable pride, A month he promised with them to abide; As blithe he trode the mountain-sward as they, And felt his joy make ev’n the young more gay. How jocund was their breakfast parlour fanned By yon blue water's breath,—their walks how bland ! Fair Julia seemed her brother's softened sprite A gem reflecting Nature's purest light,And with her graceful wit there was inwrought A wildly sweet unworldiness of thought, That almost childlike to his kindness drew, And twin with Udolph in his friendship grew. But did his thoughts to love one moment range?No! he who had loved Constance could not change! Besides, till grief betrayed her undesigned, The unlikely thought could scarcely reach his mind, That eyes so young on years like his should beam Unwooed devotion back for pure esteem.
True she sang to his very soul and brought Those trains before him of luxuriant thought,