BLTC Press Titles


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The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


Palmerin of England

by Francisco de Morais

Excerpt:

them; but in the cloud, though he saw him not, Palmerin seized him in bis arms, and the other thrust his sword into his breast up to the hilt, he feeling such pain as if he had indeed received so deadly a thrust; and though against such a fear no courage could suffice, yet was his such that it never forsook him, and he grappled with that phantom, till by fine force at length he overthrew; then meaning to cut off his head, at the instant when he drew the sword out of his own body, the cloud dispersed, and he found himself with it in his baud, and his armour under the tree, but the knight was gone.

Amazed at these things, but seeing that what was at first so fearful proved at last to be fantastic and vain, he began to recover confidence, and donned his armour, w.herewith he felt his strength increased, and a lively hope of more wonders, being now disposed to be delighted with them. Presently the day cleared, and he could see every thing as far as the eye could reach, and then on the other side beyond the island, in the midst of a green field and among goodly trees, he saw the edifices which he had seen from the hill; but there was no way of crossing to them, because of that great water which hath been spoken of, except by swimming; and this lie feared to attempt, having no skill therein. Moreover, the bank on both sides was so sleep that its height appeared immeasurable. Now seeing that he had this precipice to descend, and neither knowing how he could getup on the opposite side, nor how he could get to it, for the weight of his armour would drown him, he was so confounded, that neither was his courage sufficient to induce him to attempt it, nor his understanding to console him. There seemed to be no remedy, and for his more dismay, on the other side of the water he espied a company of monstrous and mishapen beasts, who seemed to be waiting there to devour him; and as if they were quarrelling who should be the first to fall on him, they began a furious battle, some helping others, so that it looked like a challenge and pitched battle, party against party. This Palmerin judged to be one of the most notable things that ever he had seen: for while the battle contiVol.iii. c

siued many of tlicm spoiled and killed one another, howling die while so loudly, that it w as heard in /the city as though they were in the midst of it, so that the fear there was greatly increased, for they thought that Palmerin was surely in some great danger. He who resented the most fear was Selviam, grieving that he was not present with his lord, to go through the same dangers, with that true love of a faithful servant, which masters for the most part understand so well, and so ill requite. The fury of this battle was so great, that at last all who were engaged in it lay dead upon the field.

Their grievous fight being thus ended, Palmerin w ent about the island, to see where he might have passage to the other side. At last, in one part where the waters made a resting-place, he espied a boat, having four oars in it, which were handled and governed by four beasts of marvellous bigness, each one tied with a mighty chain, and at the poop sate a mighty lion, all imbrued in blood, as though he were master of the passage, who fed himself with nothing else but the flesh of his passengers.

While Palmerin was beholding this fearful boat, he espied a man on the farther side, crying to the beasts to carry him over with them; whereat he was much amazed, as thinking no man to be so foolish as to hazard himself in so perilous a river with such boatmen, and under such a pilot. The boat put off to take him in, and the man was no sooner entered, but the lion seized him in his paws, and with his mighty claws straightWay rent him in pieces, and devoured him, giving part to his companions, the rowers; for this was their ordinary food. Any one may conceive in what state was Palmerin's heart, when he beheld all this, for he saw no way to pass but the terror of death was both before and behind him ; but seeing there was no remedy, for if he remained in the islet he must needs die for want of food, so as a last resolution, he concluded to put himself to the rigour of the beasts, and shift with them by strength of arms; for he saw himself wholly destitute of any other hope. Hereupon he looked how he might descend, but there was no other way except by a rock which reached down to the water side, and which 'was so slippery and steep, that there was nothing on which he could lay hold, or stay himself; and he thought that he must needs be dashed to pieces before he could reach the bottom. This made him demur a little; and as this extreme danger was so greatly to be dreaded, he addressed himself to the remedy which he alway reserved for the worst perils, that is, to the remembrance of his lady, with which he was accustomed to surmount all, how great and terrible soever they might be. And having invoked her, he felt his fear gone, and without farther dread or delay let himself slide down the rock; but as all those dangerswerein truth no otherwise dangerous than in appearance, he attained the river-side without any harm: the lion and his fellow's pushed off from the opposite shore to receive him into the boat; and he perceiving this, drew his sword, and with shield advanced, made ready for the adventure. But for this adventure such readiness, which is elsewhere so profitable, was nothing needed, for all were but phantasms and unreal shapes; and so soon as the prow was run ashore, and he had leapt in, he saw none to attack, for forthwith that strange pilot and his boatmen . were gone, he knew not how, and he found himself alone in the boat: then taking the oars, he rowed himself to the farther side; but when he had crost the river, the opposite bank was so steep and overhanging, that he could by no possible means climb up; so that he was again utterly at a loss how to proceed. Being thus confounded, presently he saw an old and broken basket lowered down to him from the top of the rock, by a rope which was so weak and slender, that he thought the mere weight of the basket would have broken it. When Palmerin perceived that there was no other means of ascending that great height, once more trusting in the remembrance of her whom he served, he thought to lay aside his arms, that he mightbe less heavy ; and disarming himself he was about to get into the basket with nothing but his sword. But as many times the heart feels within itself foreboding doubts of what is to come, a fear came upon him which made him put them on again, thinking they might still be necessary. Then, trusting to fortune and abiding the chance, he got into the basket, and without seeing any one to hoist him, was raised into the air, but with so slow and swaying a motion, that the delay doubled his fear. And now when he was at a great height, he saw that the basket began to break, and the cord give way with the weight, and untwist itself, so that at last nothing but a single thread was left, which was almost invisibly small. Certes, though he had already suffered many fears, this was the worst of all, for he saw himself in the last extremity, being suspended in heaven by a single hair. This made him again betake himself to his lady for help, as the ouly one in whom he trusted in such need; and as it is by faith alone that we must stand or fall, so this faith which he had in his lady was of such avail, that overcoming the slowness of the enchantment, in one moment it brought him up, and landed him above in the field where the battle of the beasts had been, of which he could now see no sign, neither of the water below. The disappeaiRnce of these things which had caused him such fear, giving him now a new joy, which dissipated all his sorrows, as joy when it is tmexpected is ever wont to do.

CHAPTER 97.

The day was now spent, and the moon, which was then full and in her strength, having no clouds to oppose or obscure her, began to rise in the East with a splendour which seemed almost unnaturally bright. The nightingales and other birds with which that land abounded began to welcome the night with such variety of songs and rejoicing, that Palmerin forgot all his past troubles. And laying himself down under a tree, intending to listen to them, fatigue so overpowered him, that he fell asleep, not having eaten all that day, food indeed being little needed by him: for though without it nature cannot be sustained, yet, when the spirits are roused by difficulties, the very occasion administers strength to the limbs, provided it be not over long; for of long want nature is incapable, and thereby in course becomes weak and broken down, and finally perishes. Palmerin past as peaceful a night as he had painful a day. When the dawn appeared, the birds awoke him with a song so joyous to hear, and so delightful to muse upon, that he wished the day had tarried longer, to have let him longer enjoy so sweet contentment. But as these follow their appointed order, it was not long before they forsook him, bright day.light, and their custom of seeking food, making them disperse. Palmerin rose, and looking round the field, well pleased at its beauty, beheld towards the East the towers and edifices which he had seen from the hill yesterday, surrounded with the same goodly trees; and though in this there was no show of danger, what he had already witnessed taught him still to apprehend it; on the other hand, the same experience taught him to have little fear. He had not advanced far towards them, before he espied his horse tied to a tree, saddled and bridled, and in such ca.se as when he left him j at which he


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