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on the evening when the comet commenced its fourth grand career through the heavens, he discovered at the entrance of a grotto, an
enchanting creature, hailing with enthusiastic ardour, the glorious re-appearance of the splendid aërial voyager. With feelings of indescribable delight, he knelt by the fair worshipper, and in language the most impassioned, poured out the tenderness of his soul, and told her, that the planet which she had addressed as her Natal Star, presided over the destinies of both. In the heart of the beautiful enthusiast arose a devout belief that the words of a youth so engaging in manners and in mien, must be indisputably true; nor did she scruple, ere the termination of the first interview, to listen to the language of love, and breathe it sweetly in return. Frequent were their meetings beneath the boughs of Kirklees; and at each,
the affection so romantically begun, grew stronger and stronger.
“But the bliss which they enjoyed did not last long.
The voice of the sovereign summoned the youth of Britain to avenge the insults of the proud King of Spain, and to carry the thunder-bolt of war into the land of the insolent aggressor. To Harold of Oswald the appeal was imperative ; he tore himself from love and his studies, and joined the ranks of the brave warriors who had rallied round the standard of loyalty and patriotism. What can surpass the affection of woman? What obstacles impede? What dangers intimidate ? In the disguise of a soldier, Editha of Kirklees quitted xii.
the abode of her ancestors, of which she was the lonely possessor,
and followed her lover to the wars. By his side in the thickest of the battle she stood; and when, oppressed by a multitude of foes, he sunk, as she thought, to rise no more, she protected him with her shield, till she was borne away in a state of insensibility from the body. On removing her helmet and cuirass, her sex was discovered ; and the British commander ordered her to be immediately taken on board a ship, which was about to sail for England, accompanied by a Spanish youth, named Francisco, who had been taken prisoner, and who, having heard her story, had requested and obtained permission to attend her as page. After encountering many perils, she landed on her native shore, and sought the ball of her ancestors. There, in solitude she mourned the fate of her beloved Harold; but at length, the comet made its fifth appearance in the heavens ; and being desirous to ascertain, if possible, the precise spot in which the remains of her lover were deposited, she one evening, attended by her page, set out on a pilgrimage to Mount Oswald, where, she had been credibly informed, a noted Star-Seer who bore the name of Anselmo, had recently taken up his abode, in order that from him she might obtain the requisite information,
“On her arrival, she was surprised to hear the sounds of revelry and mirth; and when ushered into the presence of the Star-Seer, who spoke to her from behind a magic curtain, she was informed, in answer to her request, that her lover was not dead, but that she should that very night, not only see him, but be united to him in the bonds of wedlock. This, he assured her, was the will of fate. The sudden and unexpected information threw her into a swoon. On her recovery, she was conducted into a festal hall, where, in the person
of the Star-Seer, she immediately recognised the youth whose death she had so long lamented.
“ The nuptials were solemnized with great joy and splendour, though not unattended by strange signs and sounds in the heavens. While the comet sped serenely on its journey, the youthful pair spent their time in recounting the various vicissitudes that had befallen them during their long separation, and in contributing to the happiness of all around them; but when, with dreadful aspect, the ominous planet began to sink behind the hills of the west, the Star-Seer learned by the fatal knowledge which he had acquired, that the doom of his loved one was sealed. By an irresistible power he was drawn, armed with a mysterious weapon, into the chamber where his wife was laid asleep; and just when the comet disappeared from view, he fell in a state of insensibility upon the bed, nor knew, until he awoke to consciousness, that he had pierced her bosom with the fatal instrument of death, and that life was fled
“What became of him none could tell; but on the night of the murder, a dreadful tempest arose, accompanied with violent convul
sions of the earth, and Oswald Tower, with all it contained, fell from its rocky height into a yawning chasm, which immediately closed over the engulphed ruins !”
Such is the story from which I have collected the materials of
my Poem. The use I have made of them will not, I trust, be con
sidered beyond the license of poetry; and it will be perceived that I have, in no respect, departed from the tenour of the old man's narrative, except in a few instances where his silence left room for the imagination to expatiate.
Of the style of the poetry I presume not to speak; but I hope it will not be esteemed pedantic in me to say that “the well of English undefiled,” as we find it in the days of a Spenser, a Dunbar, and a Carew, has long been the fountain whose waters I have relished the most; and the abandonment of which by many modern sons of song “for broken cisterns that contain no water,” is deeply to be lamented. This predilection will account for the use of many words in the sense in which they were anciently employed,--words which, though still retained in our language, have, at the present day, either a totally different, or a more extensive signification. I will mention the word ruth as an instance: wherever it occurs, it will be seen that I have used it, like Spenser and Carew, to signify sorrow or misery; a sense in which now it is rarely understood.
If, therefore, in the following Poem, a somewhat different strain of versification from that generally in vogue, and, occasionally, modes of expression not altogether consonant to present usage, are employed, the reader must impute their adoption to a feeling which
I cannot overcome,-namely a love of the beauties and excellencies,
as well as the virtues and wisdom, that adorned a better and a purer
Huddersfield, December 29th, 1836.