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THE LEGEND OF SIR JUVENIS.
THE LEGEND OF SIR JUVENIS.
G-EORGi-E IHA LSE.
AUTHOR OF "SIR GUY DE GUY," ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY GORDON BROWNE.
LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS & CO.,
32, PATERNOSTER ROW.
BOYS OF ST. PAUL'S SCHOOL,
THE real power is there, when a man has
mastered himself, when he has trampled upon the
craven and the shameful in all their disguises, and is
ready on all fit occasions to bear himself worthily
among his fellows and 'give the world assurance of
THE LEGEND OF SIR JUVENIS.
SIR JUVENIS, a gallant knight
Accoutred in his armour bright,
Prepared him for the fray;
He knew not who his foes might be,
Their nature, number, or degree;
One thing alone he knew-that he
Had foes to fight that day.
Sir Juvenis had idly spent
Long hours in fruitless discontent,
And murmured through the night:-
" Ah me! inactive doomed to lie,
No adversary passing by
Whom I might call upon to try
The fortune of the fight!
" My weapons rust for want of use;
My stiffened limbs will soon refuse
Obedience to my will;
No knight defies me where I stand
To brave my spear or cross my brand;
Nor single foe nor leaguered band
Appears to prove my skill!
"Goddess of War! in vain mine eyes
Search for a fitting enterprise
To test my martial power!
Vouchsafe to grant a warrior's prayer!
Some hazardous emprise prepare,
And let him shew that he can dare
The issue of the hour!"
Minerva heard the youth's lament
And, ere it ceased, an answer sent
That stirred him into life:-
"Thou plead'st for battle ? Then prepare!
I well approve and grant thy prayer!
'Tis thine this day to do and dare
In more than mortal strife!
"Arise! unsheath thy trusty blade,
For deadly foes in arms arrayed
Lie waiting to assail!
In comely form or guise uncouth
They lurk around thee, noble youth
Be bold, be faithful, and, forsooth,
Thou surely shalt prevail!
"Oh, falter not! or thou may'st know
What 'tis to sound the depths of woe,
And be thenceforth a slave!
So, stir thee, son! a resolute will
Is better far than martial skill
Thy proper fealty to fulfil,
And prove thee true and brave "
Sir Juvenis, his heart a-flame,
Cast off his indolence with shame,
And donned his coat of steel:
"Come shield and sword, cuirass and crest
Too long laid by in idle rest!
Honour or death shall be my quest
Henceforth, for woe or weal!"
His steed partakes the rider's fire,
And rushes on with fierce desire
To meet the expected foe;
Each league is scoured, each forest scanned,
Each cave, each grove on either hand
Is searched to find the treacherous band
In ambush high or low.
At length Sir Knight another knight-
Like him in lustrous armour dight-
Meets sharply face to face;
In age, in station, rank and frame
The knights confronted look the same;
Alike their form, alike their aim-
The mastery of the chase.
Each knew the other stout and strong,
And that the battle would be long,
Till one of them should yield.
In virtue of an ancient feud,
Each felt the shock must needs be rude,
Each felt that one must be subdued,
And left upon the field.
-' ~, [ i "
I -- ,\
Deep in his flesh each courser feels
Buried his rider's iron heels,
And flies along the plain.
Each knight, with spear opposed to spear,
Presses his adversary near;
They close, they wrestle, sway and veer,
And no advantage gain.
The struggle seems uncertain still,
For vain the vigour and the skill
The gallant knights display;
The steel falls harmless upon steel;
This horse is true, the other leal;
And once again, come woe, come weal,
They plunge into the fray.
Sir Juvenis bethought him then
Of words which fell from Pallas when
She nerved him for the fight;
Inspired by her divine behest,
Again his gallant foe he prest,
And plunged the spearhead through the breast
Of the mysterious knight.
Pallas from her Olympian seat
Beheld the battle and defeat,
And sped a message down:-
"'Tis well, O youth, that thou hast striven,
And used the power bestowed by Heaven;
Good proof of manhood thou hast given,
For SELF thou hast o'erthrown!
"SELF sacrificed heroic deed!
A noble victory to succeed!
The master-evil slain!
Good omen this! The subtlest foe
That frail and erring man can know,
Too rarely vanquished here below,
Lies powerless on the plain!
"Still other contests thee await,
But banish fear! for, know, thy fate
Depends on each and all!
Trust more thy will than targe and casque,
For foes avowed and foes in mask
Are league together in the task
To triumph in thy fall!"
The knight advanced, and soon the sound
Of horse and footmen all around
Gave note of coming war;
Like phantoms rising from the earth
A brood of warriors spring to birth,
And full of menace sally forth
His fortune now to mar.
With visor down the knight, though lone,
Disdainful views the host as one,
And charges then and there.
But, ah! for every foeman slain
Another foeman stalks the plain!
They fall! but 'tis to rise again
Like creatures of the air!
'-I,, -- _
Sir Juvenis, undaunted still,
And mindful of Minerva's will,
Forth dashes with a shout!
As vapours scud before the breeze,
The foe gives way by slow degrees
Till, harassed by the knight, he flees
In ignominious rout.
The voice of Pallas from her throne,
In kindly and approving tone,
The knight enraptured hears:-
"Again 'tis well! Thou dost prevail
Against TEMPTATIONS that assail,
And still assail, though foiled, nor fail
To conquer him who fears!
" Unreal as the joys they bring,
Confront them and on airy wing
They fly before the brave;
But he who parleys yields his sword,
Succumbing to the thing abhorred;-
Henceforth Indulgence is his lord,
And he a fettered slave!
" No easy task, O son, was thine,
Thus to resist their fell design
And, scathless, quit the ground I
But other trials yet remain,
And other battles yet to gain
Ere thou, secure from toil and pain,
A victor can't be crowned!"
The young adventurer scours the field
For open foe, or foe concealed,
And scours the field in vain;
No crested helmet meets his sight,
No spear or buckler flashes light
To warn him that a hostile knight
Will challenge him again.
Albeit the steed, though strange to fear,
Instinctive scents a danger near,
And shakes his flowing mane:
A roar, a very thunder-sound,
Startles the air and shakes the ground,
And, lo! a lion with furious bound
Comes ramping o'er the plain!
Affrighted with the sudden view
The steed, albeit so tried and true,
Wavered and would have fled;
And ere the knight can draw the rein
The brute is on them all amain-
He springs! recoils and springs again,
And falls, transfixed and dead!
Spake Pallas thus :-" Again 'tis well,
O youth! a danger fierce and fell
Thou valiantly hast foiled!
'Tis PRIDE, imperious, heartless PRIDE,
Too often man's seductive guide,
That thou to-day hast cast aside,
And of his power despoiled!
7 -- ,-,
"'Tis well. And every victory gained
Shall be as newer strength attained
For battles yet to come!
Turn homeward, son for there concealed
Are deadlier foes than these a-field;
Stubborn and hateful, slow to yield-
The mortal banes of home!"
He turned, and, lo, his castle walls,
Sacred, hereditary halls,
Stood clear against the sky;
Sir Juvenis beheld the scene
And cried "Can refuge so serene
A single adversary screen
Who dares its lord defy?
" My home invaded! Powers divine,
Strengthen once more this arm of mine,
And let me find the foe!
I dedicate me to the task
The hidden danger to unmask I
Pallas, one thing alone I ask-
Thine aid to strike the blow!"
He ranged the height, the broad expanse
And woodland, deeming that, perchance,
The foe lay hidden there;
Descending then by devious pass,
He seeks the depths where dank morass
Of dead and putrefying grass
Infects the vital air.
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Up from the slime, on bat-like wings,.
A foul and sinuous reptile springs
And lours-a fearsome sight!
With flashing eyes and gnashing jaw
The monster of insatiate maw
Spreads wide each sanguinary claw
SAnd leaps upon the knight!
Benumbed and blinded by its breath
Fetid and fraught with shameful death
Sir Juvenis recoils;
His arm encumbered strives in vain
To draw the sword or hold the rein,
The beast confuses heart and brain
In its insidious toils.
A dread ordeal for mortal man
At once encountering bane and ban
In terrible surprise!
The rider spurs his reeling steed,
Lowers his lance with lightning speed,
One thrust! and man and horse are freed-
The loathsome creature dies!
Thus Pallas' voice :--" Juvenis!
Thou well hast borne thyself in this,
And done a noble deed!
The hateful creature thou hast slain
Spawns sorrow, cruelty and pain,
Perverting human heart and brain-
'Tis GREED, remorseless GREED 1
" I marked thy courser, snowy white,
A moment falter at the sight,
Revolting againstt the rein;
But when he felt thy plunging heel,
Thy will, unbending as thy steel,
He stood immovable and leal,
And aided thee again!
"Thus far 'tis well! But there remain
Momentous issues yet to gain!
Look near thee and beware"
The warrior swept the scene around
The miry, pestilential ground,
And saw, within a pit profound,
A loathsome monster's lair!
His clarion roused the sluggish beast,
Still ravening o'er a fleshly feast
In sateless lust prolonged;
Hissing, the bloated thing upreared
Vast head with bloodshot eyes and bleared,
Scaly and tiger-toothed and seared,
Wrinkled and serpent-tongued.
Summoned from out the noisome stew,
The beast would fain have slunk from view,
Shunning the light of day;
But, no, the knight with fierce attack
Pierces his hide and turns him back,
And ere he can regain his track
Assails as best he may.
WY a 3
No trivial task to wound a beast
Hardened, in triple hide encased,
Insensate, fell and foul!
The knight his utmost power essayed,
And to the very hilt his blade
Thrust home, and yet again, nor stayed
Till vanquished was the ghoul.
Thus Pallas spake :-" Relieved from thrall
The hatefullest and worst of all,
O youth, thou standest freed!
This hideous thing in dying throe
Is SENSUALITY, the foe
Of happiness, and source of woe,
In human thought and deed I
"Vital as noxious. Hard to kill
In youth for lack of resolute will;
Invincible in age!
'Twas nobly, bravely, wisely done,
The best of manhood's victories won,
When thou of thy free will, my son,
Did'st quell his fiery rage!
One task remains. Thou art beset
With hindrance that may foil thee yet-
A legion bars the way!
But see! a champion at thy side
Will aid thee, whatsoe'er betide;
'Tis his to act, 'tis thine to guide,
And jointly win the day!"
In sooth a giant stood prepared
With ponderous club and bosom bared
To brave the ambuscade;
A hundred helots sprang to life
With jealousy and hatred rife,
All armed and ready for the strife,
In hostile force arrayed!
Sir Juvenis his snow-white steed
Urged onward swiftly with the speed
Of arrow from the bow;
Impatient of the giant's aid,
Trusting too well his single blade,
He hoped by fierce, impetuous raid
Alone to foil the foe!
Vain hope! Not more the solid rock
Repels the waves' assaulting shock
And hurls it back confused,
Than did the embattled host withstand
The horseman's charge, and turn the brand
Harmless and futile in the hand
Till now to conquest used
Discomfited, the horseman lay
Beneath the weapons raised to slay-
His life and labour lost!
When, like a bolt from out the sky,
The giant, answering to his cry,
And urged by mandate from on high,
Burst sudden on the host!
ii -L_-_ id
Timely the rescue! Far and wide
Swings the gnarled baton, and aside
Sweeps the astonished foe!
The giant shatters sword and shield;
The youth pursues the flying field;
Scattered and lost the rabble yield,
And swift their overthrow!
Thus Pallas once again: "O son,
Hard was the contest thou hast won
With stubborn IGNORANCE fought!
The giant who, at my behest,
Was there to share the battle-test
Is KNOWLEDGE, champion, noblest, best,
With power resistless fraught.
"Right loyally thy snow-white steed-
CONSCIENCE, availed thee in thy need
In many a peril past!
Thy courage proves thy pith and nerve
To keep thy forward course, nor swerve;
To dare, to do, and to deserve
The victor's crown at last!
"Albeit, these adversaries slain
May rise and cross thy path again,
For passions never die!
But thou, untouched in either fray,
Clad, as in steel, from day to day
Shalt harmless, fearless tread thy way,
And all assaults defy!"
d &- .*
Years pass away. The faithful knight,
Grown grey and scarred in many a fight,
To nobler rank succeeds;
SENECTUS now, of lordly grade,
He waits the summons none evade,
And dying calmly, undismayed,
Is deathless in his deeds!
PRINTED BY EDMUND EVANS,
RACQUET-CT., FLEI.E-ST., E.C.
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