That no readers of the following work may entertain expectations respecting it which it would ill satisfy, it is necessary to acquaint them, that the author has not had the presumption even to attempt a full, historical narration of the fall of the Peruvian empire. To describe that important event with accuracy, and to display with clearness and force the various causes which combined to produce it, would require all the energy of genius, and the most glowing colours of imagination. Conscious of her utter inability to execute such a design, she has only aimed at a simple detail of some few incidents that make a part of that romantic story; where the unparalleled sufferings of an innocent and amiable people, form the most affecting subjects of true pathos, while their climate, totally unlike our own, furnishes new and ample materials for poetic description.


General description of the country of Peru, and of its animal, and vegetable productions - the virtues of the people - character of Ataliba, their Monarch - his love for Alzira - their nuptials celebrated - character of Zorai, her father - descent of the genius of Peru - prediction of the fate of that empire.

Where the pacific deep in silence laves
The western shore, with slow and languid waves,
There, lost Peruvia, rose thy cultur'd scene,
The wave an emblem of thy joy serene:
There nature ever in luxuriant showers
Pours from her treasures, the perennial flowers;
In its dark foliage plum'd, the tow'ring pine
Ascends the mountain, at her call divine;
The palm's wide leaf its brighter verdure spreads,
And the proud cedars bow their lofty heads;
The citron, and the glowing orange spring,
And on the gale a thousand odours fling;
The guava, and the soft ananas bloom,
The balsam ever drops a rich perfume:
The bark, reviving shrub! Oh not in vain
Thy rosy blossoms tinge Peruvia's plain;
Ye fost'ring gales, around those blossoms blow,
Ye balmy dew-drops, o'er the tendrils flow.
Lo, as the health-diffusing plant aspires,
Disease, and pain, and hov'ring death retires;
Affection sees new lustre light the eye,
And feels her vanish'd joys again are nigh.
The Pacos[A], and Vicunnas[B] sport around,
And the meek Lamas[C], burden'd, press the ground.
Amid the vocal groves, the feather'd throng
Pour to the list'ning breeze their native song;
The mocking-bird her varying note essays,
The vain macaw his glitt'ring plume displays.
While spring's warm ray the mild suffusion sheds,
The plaintive humming-bird his pinion spreads;
His wings their colours to the sun unfold,
The vivid scarlet, and the blazing gold;
He sees the flower which morning tears bedew,
Sinks on its breast, and drinks th' ambrosial dew:
Then seeks with fond delight the social nest
Parental care has rear'd, and love has blest:
The drops that on the blossom's light leaf hung,
He bears exulting to his tender young;
The grateful joy his happy accents prove,
Is nature, smiling on her works of love.

Nor less, Peruvia, for thy favour'd clime
The virtues rose, unsullied, and sublime:
There melting charity, with ardor warm,
Spread her wide mantle o'er th' unshelter'd form;
Cheer'd with the festal song, her lib'ral toils,
While in the lap of age[D] she pour'd the spoils.
Simplicity in every vale was found,
The meek nymph smil'd, with reeds, and rushes crown'd;
And innocence in light, transparent vest,
Mild visitant! the gentle region blest:
As from her lip enchanting accents part,
They thrill with pleasure the reponsive heart;
And o'er the ever-blooming vales around,
Soft echoes waft each undulating sound.

This happy region Ataliba sway'd,
Whose mild behest the willing heart obey'd;
Descendant of a scepter'd, sacred race,
Whose origin from glowing suns they trace;
And as o'er nature's form, the solar light
Diffuses beauty, and inspires delight;
So, o'er Peruvia flow'd the lib'ral ray
Of mercy, lovelier than the smile of day!
In Ataliba's pure and gen'rous heart
The virtues bloom'd without the aid of art.
His gentle spirit, love's soft power possest,
And stamp'd Alzira's image on his breast;
Alzira, form'd each tenderness to prove,
That sooths in friendship, and that charms in love.
But, ah! in vain the drooping muse would paint
(Her accents languid, and her colours faint,)
How dear the joys love's early wishes sought,
How mild his spirit, and how pure his thought,
Ere wealth in sullen pomp was seen to rise,
And break the artless bosom's holy ties;
Blast with his touch affection's op'ning flower,
And chill the hand that rear'd her blissful bower.
Fortune, light nymph! still bless the sordid heart,
Still to thy venal slave thy gifts impart;
Bright in his view may all thy meteors shine,
And lost Peruvia open every mine;
For him the robe of eastern pomp display,
The gems that ripen in the torrid ray;
Collected may their guilty lustre stream
Full on the eye that courts the partial beam:
But Love, oh Love! should haply this late hour,
One softer mind avow thy genuine power;
Breathe at thy altar nature's simple strain,
And strew the heart's pure incense on thy fane;
Give to that bosom scorning fortune's toys,
Thy sweet enchantments, and thy virtuous joys;
Bid pleasure bloom thro' many a circling year,
Which love shall wing, and constancy endear;
Far from this happy clime avert the woes,
The heart from alienated fondness knows;
And from that agony the spirit save,
When unrelenting yawns the op'ning grave;
When death dissolves the ties for ever dear;
When frantic passion pours her parting tear;
With all the cherish'd pains affection feels,
Hangs on the quiv'ring lip, that silence seals;
Views fondness struggling in the closing eye,
And marks it mingling in the falt'ring sigh;
As the lov'd form, while folded to her breast,
On earth's cold bosom seeks more lasting rest!
Leave her fond soul in hopeless griefs to mourn,
Clasp the pale corse, and bathe th' unconscious urn; -
Mild, to the wounds that pierce her bleeding heart,
Nature's expiring pang, and death's keen dart.

Pure was the lustre of the orient ray,
That joyful wak'd Alzira's nuptial day:
Her auburn hair, spread loosely to the wind,
The virgin train, with rosy chaplets bind;
The scented flowers that form her bridal wreathe,
A deeper hue, a richer fragrance breathe.
The gentle tribe now sought the hallow'd fane,
Where warbling vestals pour'd the choral strain:
There aged Zorai, his Alzira prest
With love parental, to his anxious breast:
Priest of the sun, within the sacred shrine
His fervent spirit breath'd the strain divine;
With glowing hand, the guiltless off'ring spread,
With pious zeal the pure libation shed;
Nor vain the incense of erroneous praise
When meek devotion's soul the tribute pays;
On wings of purity behold it rise,
While bending mercy wafts it to the skies!

Peruvia! oh delightful land; in vain
The virtues flourish'd on thy beauteous plain;
In vain sweet pleasure there was seen to move,
And wore the smile of peace, the bloom of love;
For soon shall burst the unrelenting storm,
Rend her soft robe, and crush her tender form:
Peruvia! soon the fatal hour shall rise,
The hour despair shall waste in tears and sighs;
Fame shall record the horrors of thy fate,
And distant ages weep for ills so great.

Now o'er the deep chill night her mantle flung,
Dim on the wave the moon's faint crescent hung;
Peruvia's Genius sought the liquid plain,
Sooth'd by the languid murmurs of the main;
When sudden clamour the illusion broke,
Wild on the surface of the deep it spoke;
A rising breeze expands her flowing veil,
Aghast with fear, she spy'd a flying sail -
The lofty mast impends, the banner waves,
The ruffled surge th' incumbent vessel laves;
With eager eye he views her destin'd foe
Lead to her peaceful shores th' advent'rous prow;
Trembling she knelt, with wild disorder'd air,
And pour'd with frantic energy her pray'r -
"Oh, ye avenging spirits of the deep!
"Mount the blue lightning's wing, o'er ocean sweep;
"Loud from your central caves the shell resound,
"That summons death to your abyss profound;
"Call the pale spectre from his dark abode,
"To print the billow, swell the black'ning flood,
"Rush o'er the waves, the rough'ning deep deform,
"Howl in the blast, and animate the storm -
"Relentless powers! for not one quiv'ring breeze
"Has ruffled yet the surface of the seas -
"Swift from your rocky steeps, ye condors[E] stray,
"Wave your black plumes, and cleave th' aƫ rial way;
"Proud in terrific force, your wings expand,
"Press the firm earth, and darken all the strand;
"Bid the stern foe retire with wild affright, [F]
"And shun the region veil'd in partial night.
"Vain hope, devoted land! I read thy doom,
"My sad prophetic soul can pierce the gloom;
"I see, I see my lov'd, my favour'd clime,
"Consum'd, and fading in its early prime.
"But not in vain the beauteous realm shall bleed,
"Too late shall Europe's race deplore the deed.
"Region abhorr'd! be gold the tempting bane,
"The curse that desolates thy hostile plain;
"May pleasure tinge with venom'd drops the bowl,
"And luxury unnerve the sick'ning soul." -
Ah, not in vain she pour'd th' impassion'd tear!
Ah, not in vain she call'd the powers to hear!
When borne from lost Peruvia's bleeding land,
The guilty treasures beam'd on Europe's strand;
Each sweet affection fled the tainted shore,
And virtue wander'd, to return no more.

[A] The pacos is a domestic animal of Peru. Its wool resembles the colour of dried roses.
[B] The vicunnas are a species of wild pacos.
[C] The lamas are employed as mules, in carrying burdens.
[D] The people cheerfully assisted in reaping those fields, whose produce was given to old persons, past their labour.
[E] The condor is an inhabitant of the Andes. Its wings, when expanded, are said to be eighteen feet wide.
[F Transcriber's note: Misnumbered in original.]