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Her left leant on a staff, in her right hand
Her cell was hewn out of the marble rock,
At the world's birth, so star-like bright they shone.
His credulous sense; the walls were gilt, and set
Their rich attire so diff'ring; yet so well
And circle in the stranger in a ring.
That he was not himself: nor did he know
Next unto his view
She represents a banquet, usher'd in
By his still working thoughts; so fix'd upon
Even with her shadow, to express his love."
The virtues of the herb, however, resist all the enchantments of Orandra, and he leaves the cave in safety, taking Pandevius with him.
They came into the plain, where a small brook
And by it, here and there, a shepherd's cot
They are received with hospitable welcome in this retreat by Eubolus, a man
- courtly educated, wise, and sage,
Able to teach, yet willing to enrich
His knowledge with discourses, smooth in speech
Alexis, having secured possession of the throne, sinks into a lethargy of grief, from which he is at length roused by the increasing danger which threatened Arcadia, from the piratical incursions of some of the desperate adherents of the late king, who had established themselves in a small island near the Arcadian coast. Alexis collects his forces, and, by his conduct and valour, speedily overcomes and exterminates the rebels. Returning in triumph to his capital, he is struck by the beauty of Florimel, who, among others, attends to strew his way with flowers in honour of his victory; but his advances are coldly repulsed by "Diana's votaress."
"That night perforce
They all were glad within the open plain
To pitch their tents, where many a shepherd swain
In various accents, emulous of praise.
It was a dainty pleasure for to hear
How the sweet nightingales their throats did tear,
As I think rather, that the still-born night
Afforded such co-partners of their woes.
And at a close from the pure stream that flows
Echo replied aloud, and seem'd to scoff
The king rises next morning with heavy cheer to renew his march. In his way he meets Memnon, and recognizing him as the father of Florimel, receives him graciously, and orders him to attend him at court. Memnon, haunted with the idea that Alexis was his long-lost son, determines to accept his invitation, and orders his daughter, much against her inclination, to prepare to accompany him. Anaxus, meanwhile, obtaining from Eubolus an account of Florimel and Memnon, suspects that they are his mistress and her father, "the banished Codrus,"
whom he had been long seeking. He sets out to visit a sort of convent, where Florimel resided along with Diana's nymphs, and, after some difficulty, obtains access to her.
Clarinda came at last
With all her train, who, as along she pass'd
And fring'd about with gold: white buskins hide
And at her back there hung a quiver fill'd
After an interview of hesitation and doubt, they are satisfied of each other's identity, and give a loose to joy. They are soon obliged, by the rules of the convent, to separate, and Anaxus returns to the house of his friend Eubolus, to deliberate on the means of escaping with Clarinda. Cleon and Rhotus arriving at court, find the king conferring with Sylvanus, whom he had sent for to expound a strange dream which troubled his fancy.
"One might perceive such changes in the king,
Puts out the sun, and in a sable shroud
The day seems buried; when the clouds are o'er,
Alexis receives Rhotus with grateful warmth, and recognizes Cleon as a Lemnian friend. Rhotus, perceiving the king greatly oppressed by the painful recollections which their presence conjured up, after sounding him for a time, to ascertain the truth of his conjectures, informs Clearchus, that she whom he wept as drowned was preserved, and that
"And here the Author died, and I hope the reader will be sorry,”
adds old Izaak, and sorry we are to take our leave of thee, Chalkhill or Walton, or "whatever title please thine ear."
It is no very easy task, nor is it altogether fair, to criticise the merits of an unfinished tale; but no conclusion could have rendered the story of Thealma and Clearchus either very clear or very interesting, though revision might probably have removed many incongruities and unnecessary entanglements. In its present state, it is so interrupted and involved as to defy the patience and attention of the mere reader. The chronological succession of events is continually lost sight of, and an episode is not unfrequently introduced by one character, continued by another, and concluded by a third, at different times, and under different circumstances. The unfinished state of the poem assuredly adds to its perplexity, from our ignorance of the object to which these several details tend, but we cannot conceive that any winding-up could have extricated the reader satisfactorily from its labyrinth of stories. The characters in Thealma and Clearchus are drawn without much force or distinctness of outline. Alexis and Anaxus, Thealma and Clarinda, Memnon and Rhotus, differ from each other only in name. Chalkhill's heroes are brave and amorous; his ladies chaste and beautiful; his old men wise and virtuous; his tyrants haughty and licentious but the finer traits of individuality are wanting, and his characters are rather unsubstantial abstractions of good or evil, than living and breathing forms, with their own peculiar feelings and impulses. Nor are the incidents of the poem conceived with much felicity, or brought about with much attention to probability. The nearest relatives and the fondest lovers jostle against one another at every turn, without the slightest suspicion of each other's identity.
The versification of Thealma and Clearchus, as our readers must have remarked, is extremely sweet and equable. Occasionally harsh lines and unlicensed rhymes occur, but they are only exceptions to the general style of the poem, the errors of haste or negligence. The author had evidently a fine ear for metrical harmony, and his "pastoral historie" will bear an advantageous comparison with the works of any of his contempo