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The ancient Oak of Guernica, says Laborde in his account of Biscay, is a most venerable natural Monument. Ferdinand and Isabella, in the year 1476, after hearing mass in the Church of Santa Maria de la Antigua, repaired to this tree, under which they swore to the Biscayans to maintain their fueros (privileges). What other interest belongs to it in the minds of this people will appear from the following
SUPPOSED ADDRESS OF THE SAME.
Oak of Guernica! Tree of holier power
Than that which in Dodona did enshrine
(So faith too fondly deemed) a voice divine
Heard from the depths of its aerial bower,
How canst thou flourish at this blighting hour?
What hope, what joy can sunshine bring to thee,
Or the soft breezes from the Atlantic sea,
The dews of morn, or April's tender shower ?
- Stroke merciful and welcome would that be
Which would extend thy branches on the ground,
If never more within their shady round
Those lofty-minded Lawgivers shall meet,
Peasant and Lord, in their appointed seat,
Guardians of Biscay's ancient liberty.
We can endure that He should waste our lands,
Despoil our temples,--and by sword and flame
Return us to the dust from which we came;
Such food a Tyrant's appetite demands:
And we can brook the thought that by his hands
Spain may be overpowered, and he possess,
For his delight, a solemn wilderness,
Where all the Brave lie dead. But when of bands,
Which he will break for us, he dares to speak,
Of benefits, and of a future day
When our enlightened minds shall bless his sway,
Then, the strained heart of fortitude proves weak:
Our groans, our blushes, our pale cheeks declare
That he has power to inflict what we lack strength to bear.
AVAUNT all specious pliancy of mind
In men of low degree, all smooth pretence !
I better like a blunt indifference
And self-respecting slowness, disinclined
To win me at first sight:-and be there joined
Patience and temperance with this high reserve,–
Honour that knows the path and will not swerve;
Affections, which, if put to proof, are kind;
And pịety tow'rds God. Such Men of old
Were England's native growth; and, throughout Spain,
Forests of such do at this day remain;
Then for that Country let our hopes be bold;
For matched with these shall Policy prove vain,
Her arts, her strength, her iron, and her gold.
O’ERWEENING Statesmen have full long relied
On fleets and armies, and external wealth :
But from within proceeds a Nation's health;
Which shall not fail, thongh poor men cleave with pride
To the paternal floor; or turn aside,
In the thronged City, from the walks of gain,
As being all unworthy to detain
A Soul by contemplation sanctified.
There are who cannot languish in this strife,
Spaniards of every rank, by whom the good
Of such high course was felt and understood;
Who to their country's cause have bound a life,
Ere while by solemn consecration given
To labour, and to prayer, to nature, and to heaven.*
* See Laborde's Character of the Spanish People ; from him the sentiment of these two last lines is taken.
HUNGER, and sultry heat, and nipping blast
From bleak hill-top, and length of march by night
Through heavy swamp, or over snow-clad height,
These hardships ill sustained, these dangers past,
The roving Spanish Bands are reached at last, · Charged, and dispersed like foam :-but as a flight
Of scattered quails by signs do reunite
So these,-and, heard of once again, are chased
With combinations of long practised art
And newly-kindled hope;- but they are fled,
Gone are they, viewless as the buried dead;
Where now ?-Their sword is at the Foeman's heart!
And thus from year to year his walk they thwart,
And hang like dreams around his guilty bed.