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power by the presence of a gallant company of the boldest spirits of Palmyra, she hunts the tiger or the panther. The southern view, and which my apartments overlook, presents a wide expanse of level ground, or gently undulating, offering a various prospect of cultivated fields, unbroken lawns, dense groves, of standing or flowing waters, of light bridges spanning them, of pavilions, arbors, statues, standing out in full view, or just visible through the rich foliage or brilliant flowering plants of these sunny regions. The scene is closed by the low, waving outline of the country, through which we passed on the morning of our ride from Palmyra, over which there is spread a thin veil of purple haze, adding a new charm to whatever objects are dimly discerned through it. At one point only can we, when this vapor is by any cause diminished, catch a glimpse of the loftier buildings of the distant city. But the palace itself
, though it be the work of man, and not of gods, is not less beautiful than all these aspects of
It is wholly built after the light and almost fantastic forms of the Persian architecture, which seem more suited to a residence of this kind than the heavier fashions of the Greek or Roman taste. Hadrian's villa is alone to be compared with it for vastness and magnificence, and that, compared with this, seems a huge prison, so gay and pleasing are the thoughts and sensations which this dream-like combination of arch upon arch-of pinnacle, dome, and tower all enriched with the most minute and costly work—inspires the mind. Nothing has pleased me more than at times, when the sultry heats of the day forbid alike study and recreation, to choose for myself some remote and shaded spot, and lying along upon the flowery turf, soothed by the drowsy hum of the summer insects, gaze upon this gorgeous pile of oriental grandeur, and lazily drink in the draughts of a beauty (as I believe) no where else to be enjoyed. When at such hours Julia or Fausta is my companion, I need not say in how great degree the pleasure is heightened, nor what hues of a more rosy tint wrap all the objects of the scene. Fountains here, as every where in the Eastern world, are frequent, and of such size as to exert a sensible influence upon the heated atmosphere. Huge columns of the coldest water, drawn from the recesses of the mountains, are thrown into the air, and then falling and foaming over rocks rudely piled, to resemble some natural cascade, disappear, and are led by subterranean conduits to distant and lower parts of the ground. These fountains take many and fantastic forms. In the centre of the principal court of the palace, it is an enormous elephant of stone, who disgorges from his uplifted trunk a vast but graceful shower, sometimes charged with the most exquisite perfumes
, and which are diffused by the air through every part of the palace. Around this fountain, reclining upon seats constructed to allow the most easy attitudes, or else in some of the apartments immediately opening upon it, it is our custom to pass the evening hours, either conversing with each other, or listening to some tale which he who thinks he can entertain the company is at liberty to relate, or gathering at once instruction and delight, as Longinus, either from his memory or a volume, imparts to us the choicest parts of the literature of Athens or of Rome. So have I heard the Edipus Tyrannus, and the Promethus, as I never have heard them before. · At such times, it is beautiful to see the group of listeners gathering nearer and nearer, as the philosopher reads or
recites, and catching every word and accent of that divine tongue, as it falls from his lips. Zenobia, alone, of all who listen, ever presumes to interrupt the reader with either question or comment. To her voice, Longinus instantly becomes a willing listener; and well may he: for never does she speak, at such moments, without adding a new charm to whatever theme she touches. Her mind, surprisingly clear, and deeply imbued with the best spirit of ancient learning, and poetically cast, becomes of right our teacher; and commands always the profound respect, if not always the assent, of the accomplished Greek. Not unfrequently, on such casual remark of the queen, the reading is thereupon suspended, and discussion between her and the philosopher, or conversation upon topics suggested, in which we all take part, ensues. But, however this may be, all moves on in a spirit the most liberal, frank, and free. No restraint is upon us but that which reverence for superior learning, or goodness, or beauty, imposes. I must add, that on these occasions the great Zabdas is always seen to compose himself to his slumbers, from which he occasionally starts, uttering loud shouts, as if at the head of his troops. Our bursts of laughter wake him not, but by the strange power of sleep seem to be heard by him as if they were responsive cries of the enemy, and often cause him to send forth louder shouts than ever, •Down with the Egyptian dogs!' • Let the Nile choak with their carcasses !' — The queen for – and then his voice dies away in inarticulate sounds.
But I should weary you, indeed, were I to go on to tell you of half the beauties and delights of this chosen spot, and cause you, perhaps, to be discontented with that quiet, modest house, upon the banks of the Tiber. I leave you, therefore, to fill up with your own colors the outline which I have now set before you, as I best could, and pass to other things.
Every day has seen its peculiar games and entertainments. Sometimes the queen's slaves, trained to their respective feats, have wrestled, or fought, or run, for our amusement. At other times, we ourselves have been the performers. Upon the race-course, fleet Arabians have contended for the prize, or those who have esteemed themselves skilful, have tried for the mastery in two or four horse chariots. Elephants have been put to their strength, and dromedaries to their speed. But our chief pleasure has been derived from trials of skill and of strength with the lance and the arrow, and from the chase.
It was in using the lance, that Antiochus a kinsman of the queen, whom I believe I have not before mentioned, although I have many times met him — chiefly signalized himself. This person, half Syrian and half Roman, possessing the bad qualities of both, and the good ones of neither, was made one of this party, rather, I suppose, because he could not be left out, than because he was wanted. He has few friends in Palmyra, but among wild and dissolute spirits like himself. He is famed for no quality either great or good. Violent passions and intemperate lusts are what he is chiefly noted for. But, except that pride and arrogance are writ upon the lines of his countenance, you would hardly guess that his light-tinted skin and beardless cheeks, and soft blue eyes, belonged to one of so dark and foul a soul. His frame and his strength are those of a giant; yet is he wholly destitute of grace. His limbs seem sometimes as if they were scarcely a part of
him, such difficulty does he discover in marshalling them aright. Consciousness of this embarrasses him, and sends him for refuge to his pride, which darts looks of anger and bitter revenge upon all who offend or make light of him. His ambition is, and his hope, to succeed Zenobia. You may think this strange, considering the family of the queen. But as for the sons of Zenobia, he calculates much, so it is reported, upon their weakness both of mind and body, as rendering them distasteful to the Palmyrenes, even if they should live; and as for Julia and her sisters, he has so high conceptions of his own superior merit, that he doubts not in case of the queen's demise, that the people would by acclamation select him, in preference to them, as her successor; or in the last emergency, that it would be but to marry Julia, in order to secure the throne beyond any peradventure. These are the schemes which
many do not scruple to impute to him. Whether credited or not, by Zenobia, I cannot tell. But were they, I believe she would but smile at the poor lack-brain who entertains them. Intrenched as she is. in the impregnable fortress of her people's heart, she might well despise the intrigues of a bolder and worthier spirit than Antiochus. For him she can spare neither words nor thoughts.
It was Fausta, who, a few days ago, as we rose from the tables, proposed that we should try our strength and skill in throwing the lance. I promised you, Lucius, said she, that when here, you should be permitted to judge of my abilities in that art. Are all ready for the
All sprang from their seats, like persons weary of one occupation, and grateful for the proffer of another.
Zenobia led the way to the grounds, not far from the palace, appropriated to games of this kind, and to the various athletic sports. Not all the company entered the lists, but many seated themselves, or stood around, spectators of the strife. Slaves now appeared, bearing the lances, and preparing the ground for our exercise. The feat to be performed seemed to me not difficult so much as impossible. It was to throw the lance with such unerring aim, and such force, as to pass through an aperture in a shield of four-fold ox-hide, of a size but slightly larger than the beam of the lance, so as not so much as to graze the sides of the perforated place. The distance, too, of the point from which the lance was to be thrown, from the shield, was such as to require great strength of arm to overcome it.
The young Cæsars advanced first to the trial. “Now,' whispered Fausta, · behold the vigor of the royal arm. Were such alone our defence, well might Palmyra tremble.'
Herennicanus, daintily handling and brandishing his lance, in the manner prescribed at the schools, where skill in all warlike arts is taught, and having drawn all eyes upon him, at length let it fly, when, notwithstanding so much preparatory flourish, it fell short of the staff upon which the shield was reared.
• Just from the tables,' said the prince, as he withdrew, angry at his so conspicuous failure; "and how can one reach what he can scarcely
Our arm has not yet recovered from its late injury,' said Timolaus, as he selected his weapon ; yet will we venture a throw. His lance reached the mast, but dropped feebly at its foot. Vabalathus, saying
nothing, and putting all his strength in requisition, drove his weapon into the staff, where it stood quivering a moment, and fell to the ground.
Carias, Seleucus, Otho, Gabrayas, noblemen of Palmyra, now successively tried their fortune, and all showed themselves well trained to the use of the weapon, by each fixing his lance in the body of the shield, and in the near neighborhood of the central hole.
Zabdas now suddenly springing from his seat, which he had taken among those who apparently declined to join in the sport, seized a lance from the hands of the slave who bore them, and hurling it with the force of a tempest, the weapon, hissing along the air, struck the butt near the centre; but the wood of which it was made, unused to such violence, shivered and crumbled under the blow. Without a word, and without an emotion, so far as the face was its index, the Egyptian returned to his seat. It seemed as if he had done the whole in his sleep. It is actual war alone that can rouse the energies of Zabdas.
Zenobia, who had stood leaning upon her lance, next advanced to the trial. Knowing her admirable skill at all manly exercises, I looked with certainty to see her surpass those who had already essayed their powers. Nor was I disappointed. With a wonderful grace she quickly threw herself into the appointed position, and with but a moment's preparation, and as if it cost her but a slight effort, sent her lance, with unerring aim and incredible swiftness, through the hole in the centre of the shield. Yet was not the feat a perfect one. For, in passing through the aperture, the weapon not having been driven with quite sufficient force, did not preserve its level, so that the end grazed the shield, and the lance then consequently taking an oblique direction, plunged downward, and buried its head in the turf.
• Now, Fausta,' said the queen, 'must you finish what I have but begun. Let us now see your weapon sweep on till its force shall be evenly spent.'
• When Zenobia fails,' said Fausta, there must be some evil influence abroad that shall cripple the powers of others yet more. However, let me try; for I have promised to prove to our Roman friend that the women of Palmyra know the use of arms pot less than the men.'
So saying, she chose her lance, and with little ceremony, and almost before our eyes could trace her movements, the weapon had flown, and passing through, as it seemed, the very centre of the perforated space, swept on till its force died away in the distance, and it fell gracefully to the ground.
A burst of applause rose from the surrounding groups. • I knew,' said Zenobia,' that I could trust the fame of the women of Palmyra to you. At the harp, the needle, or the lance, our Fausta has no equal; unless,' turning herself round, ‘in my own Julia. Now we will see what your arm can do.'
Standing near the lances, I selected one eminent for its smoothness and polish, and placed it in her hand.
With a form of so much less apparent vigor than either Zenobia or Fausta, so truly Syrian in a certain soft laguor that spread itself over her, whether at rest or in motion, it was amazing to see with what easy strength she held and balanced the heavy weapon. Every movement showed that there lay concealed within her ample power for this and every manly exercise, should she please to put it forth.
* At the schools,' said the princess, "Fausta and I went on erer with equal steps. Her advantage lies in being at all times mistress of her power. My arm is often treacherous, through failure of the beart.'
It was not difficult to see the truth of what she said, in her varying color, and the slightly agitated lance.
But addressing herself to the sport, and with but one instant's pause, the lance flew toward the shield, and entering the opening, but not with a perfect direction, it passed not through, but hung there by the head.
• Princess,' said Zabdas, springing from his repose with more than wonted energy, 'that lance was chosen, as I saw, by a Roman. Try once more with one that I shall choose, and see what the issue will be.
* Truly,' said Julia, 'I am ready to seize any plea under which to redeem my fame. But first give me yourself a lesson, will you not?'
The Egyptian was not deaf to the invitation, and once more essaying the feat, and with his whole soul bent to the work, the lance, quicker than sight, darted from his hand, and following in the wake of Fausta's, lighted farther than her's — being driven with more force upon the lawn.
The princess now, with more of confidence in her air, again balanced and threw the lance which Zabdas had chosen - this time with success; for, passing through the shield, it fell side by side with Fausta's.
• Fortune still unites us,' said Julia; “if for a time she leaves me a little in the rear, yet she soon repents of the wrong, and brings me up.? Saying which, she placed herself at Fausta's side.
. But come, our worthy cousin,' said the queen, now turning and addressing Antiochas, who stood with folded arms, dully surveying the scene, 'will you not try a lance ?'
•’T is hardly worth our wbile,' said he, for the gods seem to have delivered all the honor and power of the East into the hands of women.',
• Yet it may not be past redemption,' said Julia, “and who more likely than Hercules to achieve so great a work? Pray begin.'
That mass of a man, hardly knowing whether the princess were jesting or in earnest — for to the usual cloud that rested upon his intellect, there was now added the stupidity arising from free indulgence at the tables — slowly moved toward the lances, and selecting the longest and heaviest, took his station at the proper place. Raising then his arm, which was like a weaver's beam, and throwing his enormous body into attitudes which showed that no child's play was going on, he let drive the lance, which, shooting with more force than exactness of aim, struck upon the outer rim of the shield, and then glancing laterally was near spearing a poor slave, whose pleasure it was, with others, to stand in the neighborhood of the butt, to pick up and return the weapons thrown, or withdraw them from the shield, where they might have fastened themselves.
Involuntary laughter broke forth upon this unwonted performance of the lance; upon which it was easy to see, by the mounting color of Antiochus, that his passions were inflamed. Especially - did we afterward suppose — was he enraged at the exclamation of one of the slaves near the shield, who was heard to say to one of his fellows: .Now is the