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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



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 aërial 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 should 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 piety towards 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.

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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, though 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,
Erewhile by solemn consecration given

To labour, and to prayer, to nature, and to heaven.*

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,

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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.

* See Laborde's Character of the Spanish People: from him the sen timent of these last two lines is taken.


THEY seek, are sought; to daily battle led,
Shrink not, though far outnumbered by their Foes,
For they have learnt to open and to close
The ridges of grim War; and at their head
Are Captains such as erst their Country bred
Or fostered, self-supported Chiefs,

like those
Whom hardy Rome was fearful to oppose,
Whose desperate shock the Carthaginian fled.
In one who lived unknown a Shepherd's life
Redoubted Viriatus breathes again;

And Mina, nourished in the studious shade,
With that great Leader* vies, who, sick of strife
And bloodshed, longed in quiet to be laid
In some green Island of the western main,


THE power of Armies is a visible thing,
Formal, and circumscribed in time and space;
But who the limits of that power shall trace
Which a brave People into light can bring
Or hide, at will, for Freedom combating
By just revenge inflamed? No foot may chase,
No eye can follow, to a fatal place

That power, that spirit, whether on the wing
Like the strong wind, or sleeping like the wind
Within its awful caves. From year to year
Springs this indigenous produce far and near;
No craft this subtle element can bind,
Rising like water from the soil, to find
In every nook a lip that it may cheer.

* Sertorius.


HERE pause: the poet claims at least this praise,
That virtuous Liberty hath been the scope

Of his pure song, which did not shrink from hope
In the worst moment of these evil days;

From hope, the paramount duty that Heaven lays,
For its own honour, on man's suffering heart.
Never may from our souls one truth depart,
That an accursed thing it is to gaze

On prosperous Tyrants with a dazzled eye;
Nor, touched with due abhorrence of their guilt
For whose dire ends tears flow, and blood is spilt,
And justice labours in extremity,

Forget thy weakness, upon which is built,
O wretched Man, the throne of Tyranny!

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Propped on a staff — and, through the sullen day,
In hooded mantle, limping o'er the Plain,

As though his weakness were disturbed by pain:
Or, if a juster fancy should allow

An undisputed symbol of command,

The chosen sceptre is a withered bough,
Infirmly grasped within a palsied hand.
These emblems suit the helpless and forlorn,
But mighty Winter the device shall scorn.

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