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Merodach's royal widow hastes to cheer
Her trembling son. “O king, for ever live;
Why droops thy soul?" she cries, “ what though
Of sage magicians own their vanquish'd art,
Know'st thou not Daniel ? In his heart resides
The spirit of holy Gods; 'twas he who told
Thy father strange events, and terrible;
Nor did Nebassar honour one like him,
Through all his spacious kingdom. He shall soon
Dispel thy doubts, and all thy fears allay.”
She spake, and with obeisance low retir’d.
“ Then be it so; haste, Arioch, lead him here,” Belshazzar cries; “ if he interpret right, Even though my soul in just abhorrence holds His hated race, I will revoke their doom, And shower rich honours on their prophet's head."
Nor long he waited, when with graceful step, And awe-commanding eye, solemn and slow, As conscious of superior dignity, Daniel advanc’d. Time o'er his hoary hair Had shed his whitest snows. Behind him stream'd A mantle, ensign of prophetic powers, Like that, with which inspir’d Elisha smote The parting waters, what time on the bank Of Jordan from the clouds a fiery car Descended, and by flaming coursers drawn Bore the sage Tishbite to celestial climes, Maugre the gates of death. A wand he bore, That wand, by whose mysterious properties
The shepherd of Horeb call'd the refluent waves
O'er Pharaoh, and his host, with which he struck
The barren flint, when from the riven cliff
Gush'd streams, and water'd all the thirsty tribes
Of murmuring Israel. Through many an age
Within the temple's unapproached veil,
Fast by the rod, which bloom'd o'er Aaron's name,
Still did the holy relic rest secure.
At length, when Babylonia's arms prevail'd,
Seraiah sav'd it from the flaming shrine,
With all the sacred wardrobe of the priest,
And bore it safe to Riblah. Dying there,
The priest bequeath'd the sacred legacy
To Daniel. He, when summon'd to explain
As now, God's dark decrees, in his right hand
Brandish'd the mystic emblem. “ Art thou he,
Art thou that Daniel, whom Nebassar brought
From Salem, whom the vanquish'd tribes adore,
In wisdom excellent? Look there, look there;
Read but those lines," the affrighted monarch cries,
“ And cloth'd in scarlet wear this golden chain,
The third great ruler of my spacious realm.”
He spake, and thus the reverend seer replied. “ Thy promises, and threats, presumptuous king, My soul alike despises; yet, so wills That spirit, who darts his radiance on my mind, (Hear thou, and tremble,) will I speak the words Which he shall dictate. • Number'd is thy realm, · And finish'd: in the balance art thou weigh’d, • Where God hath found thee wanting: to the Medes
* And Persians thy divided realm is given.'
Thus saith the Lord; and thus those words import
Graven by his high behest. See'st thou this wand?
Ne'er has it born, since first it left the trunk,
Or bud, or blossom: all its shielding rind
The sharp steel stripp'd, and to dry winds expos'd
The vegetative sap; even so thy race
Shall perish: from thy barren stock shall rise
Nor prince, nor ruler; and that glittering crown,
Won by thy valiant fathers, whose long line
In thee, degenerate monarch, soon must end,
Shall dart its lustre round a stranger's brow.”
“ Prophet of evils ! dar'st thou pour on me
Thy threats ill-ominous, and judgments dark!"
Incens’d the monarch cries : “Hence to thy tribes ;
Teach them obedience to their sovereign's will,
Or I will break that wand, and rend in twain
The mantle of thy God.-Or if these marks
Thou wilt erase from that accursed wall,
realm.” He spake, and fix'd his eyes
Wild staring on the mystic characters :
His rage all sunk at once; his fear retúrn'd
Tenfold; when thus the man of God began.
“ Go to the shady vales of Palæstine,
Vain prince, or Syrian Lebanon, and tear
The palms and cedars from their native mould
Uprooted; then return, and break this rod.
Believe me, far more arduous were the task:
For it was harden'd in the streams of heaven;
And though not dedicate to sorcerer's arts
By magic incantation, and strange spells ;
Yet such a potent virtue doth reside
In every part, that not the united force
Of all thy kingdom can one line, one grain,
Of measure, or of solid weight impair.
Wilt thou that I revoke thy destin'd fate?
Devoted prince, I cannot. Hell beneath
Is moved to meet thee. See the mighty dead,
The kings, that sat on golden thrones, approach,
The chief ones of the earth. •O Lucifer,
• Son of the morning, thou that vaunting said'st,
“ I will ascend the heavens; I will exalt
My throne above the stars of God; the clouds “ Shall roll beneath my feet," art thou too weak « As we? art thou become like unto us? • Where now is all thy pomp? where the sweet sound
Of viol, and of harp?' with curious eye Tracing thy mangled corse, the rescued sons Of Solyma shall say, ' is this the man « That shook the pillars of the trembling earth, • That made the world a desert?' all the kings, Each in his house entomb’d, in glory rest, While unlamented lie thy naked limbs, The sport of dogs, and vultures. In that day Shall these imperial towers, this haughty queen, That in the midst of waters sits secure, Fall prostrate on the ground. Ill-ominous birds Shall o'er the unwholesome marshes scream for food; And hissing serpents by sulphureous pools Conceal their filthy brood. The traveller
In vain shall ask where stood Assyria's pride:
No trace shall guide his dubious steps; 'nor sage,
Vers'd in historic lore, shall mark the site
Of desolated Babylon.” Thus spake
The seer, and with majestic step retir'd.
The City of Babylon having been taken by the Army of Cyrus,
Belshazzar is found in his Pleasure Garden, and slain,
WITHIN the walls
Of Babylon was rais'd a lofty mound,
Where flowers and aromatic shrubs adorn'd
The pensile garden. For Nebassar's queen,
Fatigu'd with Babylonia's level plains,
Sigh'd for her Median home, where nature's hand
Had scoop'd the vale, and cloth'd the mountain's
With many a verdant wood; nor long she pin'd
Till that uxorious monarch call’d on art
To rival nature's sweet variety.
Forthwith two hundred thousand slaves upreard
This hill, egregious work; rich fruits o'erhang
The sloping walks, and odorous shrubs entwine
Their undulating branches. Thither flocks
A multitude unseen, and, 'mid the groves
And secret arbours all night long conceal'd,
Silent, and sad, escape the victor's sword.
Now the glad sound of loud triumphal notes,