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A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday.

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Man Who Mistook His Mistress For A Violin

The man who mistook his mistress for a violin
is the subject of a book by J. M. Coetzee.
Mistaking music for a mistress is a sin
more serious that to eat bread without saying motsi.

When sex becomes a contest in which you subject
erotic will to your opponent who’s a wench,
don’t treat her like a piece of bread and don’t object
if she declares she is not ready yet to bensch.

Motsi is the Hebrew name of a piece of bread a Jew may not eat before saying a blessing, hamotsi lehem min ha’arets, meaning “He who brings forth bread from the earth.” Bensch means “bless, ” and in the context of eating bread it refers to the blessing that in Hebrew is called birkat hamazon, meaning “the blessing for food.” Coetzee’s description of himself as “the man who mistook his mistress for a violin” is clearly an allusion to Oliver Sacks’s story of the man with visual agnosia who mistook his wife for a hat.

The poem was in part inspired by Tim Parks’s review of J. M. Coetzee’s “Summertime: A Fiction, ” a novel that may or may not be autobiographical (“The Education of ‘John Coetzee, ’” NYR (February 11,2010) :
Following Boyhood (1997) and Youth (2002) , Summertime concludes J.M. Coetzee's autobiographical trilogy. It is a teasing and surprisingly funny book, at once as elaborately elusive and determinedly confessional as ever autobiography could be. If Boyhood and Youth were remarkable for Coetzee's use of the third person (the author declining to identify with his younger self) and the present tense (a narrative device more commonly associated with fiction than memoir) , Summertime takes both distancing and novelizing a step further. Despite our seeing Coetzee's name on the cover and hence assuming the author alive and well, we are soon asked to believe that he is now dead, the book being made up of five interviews conducted by an anonymous biographer who is speaking to people he presumes were important to the writer during the years 1972–1975.
Coetzee writes about the affair he has, possibly fact, possibly fiction, with a psychotherapist called Julia:
John, she says, was actually “a minor character” in a drama played out between herself and her husband. While the latter was traveling, the lovers enjoyed an “erotic entanglement” in the marital bed. Yet John was peripheral to her life; at the one moment when she was ready to leave her husband and he could have become a major player, he “took fright” and snuck out of the hotel where she was sleeping….Certainly there’s comedy to be had in the description of this willfully unassertive man partnering a woman who sees sex “as a contest, a variety of wrestling in which you do you best to subject your opponent to your erotic will.” “He was not in my league, ” Julia complains. When John tries to persuade her to moderate her lovemaking to fir the slow movement of a Schubert string quintet, the better to “re-experience” the sexual feelings of a bygone age, Julia shows him the door. “The man who mistook his mistress for a violin, ” she comments.


1/30/10

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What should a husband do? ? ?

What should a husband do; if his wife indefatigably nagged him; tirelessly made him feel like a naked impoverished beggar; right in the center of the boisterously crowded street; and under the broadest of daylight?

What should a husband do; if his wife was more indifferent than the acrimoniously stabbing deserts; aimlessly staring towards the amorphously non-existent winds; whilst he inconsolably trembled in the most inexplicable of pain and disease?

What should a husband do; if his wife was the biggest blackmailer on the trajectory of planet divine; an entity who if once came to know of his weaknesses; would continue to backlash at him like the most venomous scorpion; at the tiniest of opportunity?

What should a husband do; if his wife preferred to talk more passionately than the Sun to every stranger and obliterated stone on the dusty street; remaining an emotionless ghost right infront of his earnest eyes?

What should a husband do; if his wife didn’t ask him even once of what he did and achieved the entire day; even though he’d catapulted to such dizzy heights of philanthropic success; that none could ever perceive in the wildest of their dreams?

What should a husband do; if his wife ghoulishly went of into the realms of unbreakable sleep; whilst he was undergoing the most volatile catharsis of his heart; sharing the most latent ingredients of his soul with her persona?

What should a husband do; if his wife vindictively abused him every unfurling instant of the day and night; when every other entity on the planet loved him for the astounding records that he’d achieved; for all the endless love that he was trying to perennially spread?

What should a husband do; if his wife mischievously flirted and philandered with every other man on the Universe; even though he endeavored his very best to quench even the most evanescent of her desire?

What should a husband do; if his wife sadistically ridiculed even the most sacred of his beliefs; nonchalantly dismissed every element of his devotion; to bond as one with the spirit of the Omnipotent God?

What should a husband do; if his wife devised an infinite ways to pull his leg and make him lick the most disdainful of dust; instead of inspiring him to unflinching face the world and rise to the most truthfully ultimate of skies?

What should a husband do; if his wife wholeheartedly supported the indiscriminate felling of trees just to impart more free space to their land; whilst he on the other hand shed a billion tears of sorrow at even the tiniest snapping of a leaf?

What should a husband do; if his wife wholesomely dictated her insane idiosyncrasies on their only child; threatening to leave him forever and go publicly to her parents house; if he dared to intervene with his suggestions for his very own heavenly offspring?

What should a husband do; if his wife guffawed like the greatest of marauding demons; at every ardently heart-rendering tear dropp that dribbled from his eye; for treacherously depraved humanity?

What should a husband do; if his wife interminably preferred to read every bit of delirious balderdash written on this earth; whilst countless lines of poetry that he’d immortally dedicated and written for her; lay fretfully rotting and obsolete on his writing shelves?

What should a husband do; if his wife unstoppably sermonized him to go to a flagrantly unceremonious mental asylum; whilst he all he ever attempted to do in his life; was to help her successfully accomplish every task of hers?

What should a husband do; if his wife was severely prejudiced and his worst critic; salaciously excoriating the most inimitably priceless of his art to feckless totters; in her fits of preposterously manipulative practicality?

What should a husband do; if his wife unsparingly teamed up with her parents; to demonstrate the epitome of cadaverous rudeness towards him; for every kind and humanitarian deed that he did?

What should a husband do; if his wife felt that bearing his child was the greatest sin on the soil of this fathomless Universe; as it would satanically disproportion her body; integrity; identity and unabashed entity?

What should a husband do; if his wife’s only mission was to squabble and thrash him with the mace of abhorrence; right from the first cry of dawn; for ostensibly not the slightest rhyme or reason?

Should he Kill Her? Or Should he Kill Himself? Or Should he kill both? Or Should be Divorce Her? Or Should he remarry? Or should he keep his second wife alongwith Her? Or should he abandon all worldly pleasures and go to the peak of Everest to perpetually meditate?

Well if I for one was in his shoes; then I wouldn’t do any of the above. Instead just accept all what was happening around me; as a part of my inevitably regretful destiny…..

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The man who lost his soul

The man who lost his soul had a hole for a heart,

And so, wherever he went, there was a draught


Until one day he met his 'better half'

And feeling complete

He could thaw his sad frozen feet, at last

At the fire of love

And all loss was a thing of the past!

yvette m smith jan 09

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Worship

I saw that
Old man
Offering
Prayers
To the
Mother
Goddess
Amidst
The chanting
Of the mantras
The observance
Of the religious
Rites, rituals…
And fragrance
Of the incense,
Not forgetting
Lighting of the
Holy fire.

In between
The yajna
Whenever
He got those
Little breaks,
When the purohit
Found himself
Busy with all and
Sundry…
The old man
Never missed
A chance to berate
His wife, before
The audience,
Pulling her on
Every little
Thing she might
Have done a-miss
While arranging for
The Puja.

He had forgotten
She was as old
As he seemed to be,
She was frail and feeble,
Her body ridden with
Arthritis.

He remembered
He was the
Man of the
House and so
Had every right
To pick on his wife,
Whose eyes brimmed
With tears, being sneered
By him before the
Onlookers.

Yet, as every
Subservient
Wife does,
She kept quiet.
Her silent tears
Didn't move
The old man.

He continued
Worshipping
The mother goddess
Unperturbed by his
Wife's state of
Unfolding misery.

I kept wondering
If the goddess
Would accept the
Prayers of this
Ardent devotee
Who's trying
So many ways
To appease her
From day long
Fasts to endless
Sacrifices of
Money, time
And animals…
All for this
Stone idol of a
Deity.

Yet, this devout
Hindu doesn't
Respect the
Living and
Breathing…
Grihalakshmi
Of his home and
Hearth.


(Theme: Hypocrisy)

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VIII. Dominus Hyacinthus de Archangelis, Pauperum Procurator

Ah, my Giacinto, he's no ruddy rogue,
Is not Cinone? What, to-day we're eight?
Seven and one's eight, I hope, old curly-pate!
—Branches me out his verb-tree on the slate,
Amo-as-avi-atum-are-ans,
Up to -aturus, person, tense, and mood,
Quies me cum subjunctivo (I could cry)
And chews Corderius with his morning crust!
Look eight years onward, and he's perched, he's perched
Dapper and deft on stool beside this chair,
Cinozzo, Cinoncello, who but he?
—Trying his milk-teeth on some crusty case
Like this, papa shall triturate full soon
To smooth Papinianian pulp!

It trots
Already through my head, though noon be now,
Does supper-time and what belongs to eve.
Dispose, O Don, o' the day, first work then play!
—The proverb bids. And "then" means, won't we hold
Our little yearly lovesome frolic feast,
Cinuolo's birth-night, Cinicello's own,
That makes gruff January grin perforce!
For too contagious grows the mirth, the warmth
Escaping from so many hearts at once—
When the good wife, buxom and bonny yet,
Jokes the hale grandsire,—such are just the sort
To go off suddenly,—he who hides the key
O' the box beneath his pillow every night,—
Which box may hold a parchment (someone thinks)
Will show a scribbled something like a name
"Cinino, Ciniccino," near the end,
"To whom I give and I bequeath my lands,
"Estates, tenements, hereditaments,
"When I decease as honest grandsire ought."
Wherefore—yet this one time again perhaps—
Shan't my Orvieto fuddle his old nose!
Then, uncles, one or the other, well i' the world,
May—drop in, merely?—trudge through rain and wind,
Rather! The smell-feasts rouse them at the hint
There's cookery in a certain dwelling-place!
Gossips, too, each with keepsake in his poke,
Will pick the way, thrid lane by lantern-light,
And so find door, put galligaskin off
At entry of a decent domicile
Cornered in snug Condotti,—all for love,
All to crush cup with Cinucciatolo!

Well,
Let others climb the heights o' the court, the camp!
How vain are chambering and wantonness,
Revel and rout and pleasures that make mad!
Commend me to home-joy, the family board,
Altar and hearth! These, with a brisk career,
A source of honest profit and good fame,
Just so much work as keeps the brain from rust,
Just so much play as lets the heart expand,
Honouring God and serving man,—I say,
These are reality, and all else,—fluff,
Nutshell and naught,—thank Flaccus for the phrase!
Suppose I had been Fisc, yet bachelor!

Why, work with a will, then! Wherefore lazy now?
Turn up the hour-glass, whence no sand-grain slips
But should have done its duty to the saint
O' the day, the son and heir that's eight years old!
Let law come dimple Cinoncino's cheek,
And Latin dumple Cinarello's chin,
The while we spread him fine and toss him flat
This pulp that makes the pancake, trim our mass
Of matter into Argument the First,
Prime Pleading in defence of our accused,
Which, once a-waft on paper wing, shall soar,
Shall signalize before applausive Rome
What study, and mayhap some mother-wit,
Can do toward making Master fop and Fisc
Old bachelor Bottinius bite his thumb.
Now, how good God is! How falls plumb to point
This murder, gives me Guido to defend
Now, of all days i' the year, just when the boy
Verges on Virgil, reaches the right age
For some such illustration from his sire,
Stimulus to himself! One might wait years
And never find the chance which now finds me!
The fact is, there's a blessing on the hearth,
A special providence for fatherhood!
Here's a man, and what's more, a noble, kills
—Not sneakingly but almost with parade—
Wife's father and wife's mother and wife's self
That's mother's self of son and heir (like mine!)
—And here stand I, the favoured advocate,
Who pluck this flower o' the field, no Solomon
Was ever clothed in glorious gold to match,
And set the same in Cinoncino's cap!
I defend Guido and his comrades—I!
Pray God, I keep me humble: not to me—
Non nobis, Domine, sed tibi laus!
How the fop chuckled when they made him Fisc!
We'll beat you, my Bottinius, all for love,
All for our tribute to Cinotto's day.
Why, 'sbuddikins, old Innocent himself
May rub his eyes at the bustle,—ask "What's this
"Rolling from out the rostrum, as a gust
"O' the Pro Milone had been prisoned there,
"And rattled Rome awake?" Awaken Rome,
How can the Pope doze on in decency?
He needs must wake up also, speak his word,
Have his opinion like the rest of Rome,
About this huge, this hurly-burly case:
He wants who can excogitate the truth,
Give the result in speech, plain black and white,
To mumble in the mouth and make his own
A little changed, good man, a little changed!
No matter, so his gratitude be moved,
By when my Giacintino gets of age,
Mindful of who thus helped him at a pinch,
Archangelus Procurator Pauperum—
And proved Hortensius Redivivus!

Whew!
To earn the Est-est, merit the minced herb
That mollifies the liver's leathery slice,
With here a goose-foot, there a cock's-comb stuck,
Cemented in an element of cheese!
I doubt if dainties do the grandsire good:
Last June he had a sort of strangling … bah!
He's his own master, and his will is made.
So, liver fizz, law flit and Latin fly
As we rub hands o'er dish by way of grace!
May I lose cause if I vent one word more
Except,—with fresh-cut quill we ink the white,—
P-r-o-pro Guidone et Sociis. There!

Count Guido married—or, in Latin due,
What? Duxit in uxorem?—commonplace!
Toedas jugales iniit, subiit,—ha!
He underwent the matrimonial torch?
Connubio stabili sibi junxit,—hum!
In stable bond of marriage bound his own?
That's clear of any modern taint: and yet …

Virgil is little help to who writes prose.
He shall attack me Terence with the dawn,
Shall Cinuccino! Mum, mind business, Sir!
Thus circumstantially evolve we facts,
Ita se habet ideo series facti:
He wedded,—ah, with owls for augury!
Nupserat, heu sinistris avibus,
One of the blood Arezzo boasts her best,
Dominus Guido, nobili genere ortus,
Pompilioe …

But the version afterward!
Curb we this ardour! Notes alone, to-day,
The speech to-morrow and the Latin last:
Such was the rule in Farinacci's time.
Indeed I hitched it into verse and good.
Unluckily, law quite absorbs a man,
Or else I think I too had poetized.
"Law is the pork substratum of the fry,
"Goose-foot and cock's-comb are Latinity,"—
And in this case, if circumstance assist,
We'll garnish law with idiom, never fear!
Out-of-the-way events extend our scope:
For instance, when Bottini brings his charge,
"That letter which you say Pompilia wrote,—
"To criminate her parents and herself
"And disengage her husband from the coil,—
"That, Guido Franceschini wrote, say we:
"Because Pompilia could nor read nor write,
"Therefore he pencilled her such letter first,
"Then made her trace in ink the same again."
—Ha, my Bottini, have I thee on hip?
How will he turn this and break Tully's pate?
"Existimandum" (don't I hear the dog!)
"Quod Guido designaverit elementa
"Dictoe epistoloe, quoe fuerint
"(Superinducto ab ea calamo)
"Notata atramento"—there's a style!—
"Quia ipsa scribere nesciebat" Boh!
Now, my turn! Either, Insulse! (I outburst)
Stupidly put! Inane is the response,
Inanis est responsio, or the like—
To-wit, that each of all those characters,
Quod singula elementa epistoloe,
Had first of all been traced for her by him,
Fuerant per eum prius designata,
And then, the ink applied a-top of that,
Et deinde, superinducto calamo,
The piece, she says, became her handiwork,
Per eam, efformata, ut ipsa asserit.
Inane were such response! (a second time:)
Her husband outlined her the whole, forsooth?
Vir ejus lineabat epistolam?
What, she confesses that she wrote the thing,
Fatetur eam scripsisse, (scorn that scathes!)
That she might pay obedience to her lord?
Ut viro obtemperaret, apices
(Here repeat charge with proper varied phrase)
Eo designante, ipsaque calamum
Super inducente? By such argument,
Ita pariter, she seeks to show the same,
(Ay, by Saint Joseph and what saints you please)
Epistolam ostendit, medius fidius,
No voluntary deed but fruit of force!
Non voluntarie sed coacte scriptam!
That's the way to write Latin, friend my Fisc!
Bottini is a beast, one barbarous:
Look out for him when he attempts to say
"Armed with a pistol, Guido followed her!"
Will not I be beforehand with my Fisc,
Cut away phrase by phrase from underfoot!
Guido Pompiliam—Guido thus his wife
Following with igneous engine, shall I have?
Armis munitus igneis persequens—
Arma sulphurea gestans, sulphury arms,
Or, might one style a pistol—popping-piece?
Armatus breviori sclopulo?
We'll let him have been armed so, though it make
Somewhat against us: I had thought to own—
Provided with a simple travelling-sword,
Ense solummodo viatorio
Instructus: but we'll grant the pistol here:
Better we lost the cause than lacked the gird
At the Fisc's Latin, lost the Judge's laugh!
It's Venturini that decides for style.
Tommati rather goes upon the law.
So, as to law,—

Ah, but with law ne'er hope
To level the fellow,—don't I know his trick!
How he draws up, ducks under, twists aside!
He's a lean-gutted hectic rascal, fine
As pale-haired red-eyed ferret which pretends
'T is ermine, pure soft snow from tail to snout.
He eludes law by piteous looks aloft,
Lets Latin glance off as he makes appeal
To saint that's somewhere in the ceiling-top:
Do you suppose I don't conceive the beast?
Plague of the ermine-vermin! For it takes,
It takes, and here's the fellow Fisc, you see,
And Judge, you'll not be long in seeing next!
Confound the fop—he's now at work like me:
Enter his study, as I seem to do,
Hear him read out his writing to himself!
I know he writes as if he spoke: I hear
The hoarse shrill throat, see shut eyes, neck shot-forth,
—I see him strain on tiptoe, soar and pour
Eloquence out, nor stay nor stint at all—
Perorate in the air, then quick to press
With the product! What abuse of type and sheet!
He'll keep clear of my cast, my logic-throw,
Let argument slide, and then deliver swift
Some bowl from quite an unguessed point of stand—
Having the luck o' the last word, the reply!
A plaguy cast, a mortifying stroke:
You face a fellow—cries "So, there you stand?
"But I discourteous jump clean o'er your head!
"You take ship-carpentry for pilotage,
"Stop rat-holes, while a sea sweeps through the breach,—
"Hammer and fortify at puny points?
"Do, clamp and tenon, make all tight and safe!
"'T is here and here and here you ship a sea,
"No good of your stopped leaks and littleness!"

Yet what do I name "little and a leak"?
The main defence o' the murder's used to death,
By this time, dry bare bones, no scrap we pick:
Safer I worked the new, the unforeseen,
The nice by-stroke, the fine and improvised
Point that can titillate the brain o' the Bench
Torpid with over-teaching, long ago!
As if Tommati (that has heard, reheard
And heard again, first this side and then that—
Guido and Pietro, Pietro and Guido, din
And deafen, full three years, at each long ear)
Don't want amusement for instruction now,
Won't rather feel a flea run o'er his ribs,
Than a daw settle heavily on his head!
Oh I was young and had the trick of fence,
Knew subtle pass and push with careless right—
My left arm ever quiet behind back,
With dagger ready: not both hands to blade!
Puff and blow, put the strength out, Blunderbore!
There's my subordinate, young Spreti, now,
Pedant and prig,—he'll pant away at proof,
That's his way!

Now for mine—to rub some life
Into one's choppy fingers this cold day!
I trust Cinuzzo ties on tippet, guards
The precious throat on which so much depends!
Guido must be all goose-flesh in his hole,
Despite the prison-straw: bad Carnival
For captives! no sliced fry for him, poor Count!

Carnival-time,—another providence!
The town a-swarm with strangers to amuse,
To edify, to give one's name and fame
In charge of, till they find, some future day,
Cintino come and claim it, his name too,
Pledge of the pleasantness they owe papa—
Who else was it cured Rome of her great qualms,
When she must needs have her own judgment?—ay,
When all her topping wits had set to work,
Pronounced already on the case: mere boys,
Twice Cineruggiolo's age with half his sense,
As good as tell me, when I cross the court,
"Master Arcangeli!" (plucking at my gown)
"We can predict, we comprehend your play,
"We'll help you save your client." Tra-la-la!
I've travelled ground, from childhood to this hour,
To have the town anticipate my track?
The old fox takes the plain and velvet path,
The young hound's predilection,—prints the dew,
Don't he, to suit their pulpy pads of paw?
No! Burying nose deep down i' the briery bush,
Thus I defend Count Guido.

Where are we weak?
First, which is foremost in advantage too,
Our murder,—we call, killing,—is a fact
Confessed, defended, made a boast of: good!
To think the Fisc claimed use of torture here,
And got thereby avowal plump and plain
That gives me just the chance I wanted,—scope
Not for brute-force but ingenuity,
Explaining matters, not denying them!
One may dispute,—as I am bound to do,
And shall,—validity of process here:
Inasmuch as a noble is exempt
From torture which plebeians undergo
In such a case: for law is lenient, lax,
Remits the torture to a nobleman
Unless suspicion be of twice the strength
Attaches to a man born vulgarly:
We don't card silk with comb that dresses wool.
Moreover 't was severity undue
In this case, even had the lord been lout.
What utters, on this head, our oracle,
Our Farinacci, my Gamaliel erst,
In those immortal "Questions"? This I quote:
"Of all the tools at Law's disposal, sure
"That named Vigiliarum is the best—
"That is, the worst—to whoso needs must bear:
"Lasting, as it may do, from some seven hours
"To ten; (beyond ten, we've no precedent;
"Certain have touched their ten, but, bah, they died!)
"It does so efficaciously convince,
"That,—speaking by much observation here,—
"Out of each hundred cases, by my count,
"Never I knew of patients beyond four
"Withstand its taste, or less than ninety-six
"End by succumbing: only martyrs four,
"Of obstinate silence, guilty or no,—against
"Ninety-six full confessors, innocent
"Or otherwise,—so shrewd a tool have we!"
No marvel either: in unwary hands,
Death on the spot is no rare consequence:
As indeed all but happened in this case
To one of ourselves, our young tough peasant-friend
The accomplice called Baldeschi: they were rough,
Dosed him with torture as you drench a horse,
Not modify your treatment to a man:
So, two successive days he fainted dead,
And only on the third essay, gave up,
Confessed like flesh and blood. We could reclaim,—
Blockhead Bottini giving cause enough!
But no,—we'll take it as spontaneously
Confessed: we'll have the murder beyond doubt.
Ah, fortunate (the poet's word reversed)
Inasmuch as we know our happiness!
Had the antagonist left dubiety,
Here were we proving murder a mere myth,
And Guido innocent, ignorant, absent,—ay,
Absent! He was—why, where should Christian be?—
Engaged in visiting his proper church,
The duty of us all at Christmas-time,
When Caponsacchi, the seducer, stung
To madness by his relegation, cast
About him and contrived a remedy
In murder: since opprobrium broke afresh,
By birth o' the babe, on him the imputed sire,
He it was quietly sought to smother up
His shame and theirs together,—killed the three,
And fled—(go seek him where you please to search)—
Just at the time when Guido, touched by grace,
Devotions ended, hastened to the spot,
Meaning to pardon his convicted wife,
"Neither do I condemn thee, go in peace!"—
And thus arrived i' the nick of time to catch
The charge o' the killing, though great-heartedly
He came but to forgive and bring to life.
Doubt ye the force of Christmas on the soul?
"Is thine eye evil because mine is good?"

So, doubtless, had I needed argue here
But for the full confession round and sound!
Thus might you wrong some kingly alchemist,—
Whose concern should not be with showing brass
Transmuted into gold, but triumphing,
Rather, about his gold changed out of brass,
Not vulgarly to the mere sight and touch,
But in the idea, the spiritual display,
The apparition buoyed by winged words
Hovering above its birth-place in the brain,—
Thus would you wrong this excellent personage
Forced, by the gross need, to gird apron round,
Plant forge, light fire, ply bellows,—in a word,
Demonstrate: when a faulty pipkin's crack
May disconcert you his presumptive truth!
Here were I hanging to the testimony
Of one of these poor rustics—four, ye gods!
Whom the first taste of friend the Fiscal's cord
May drive into undoing my whole speech,
Undoing, on his birthday,—what is worse,—
My son and heir!

I wonder, all the same,
Not so much at those peasants' lack of heart;
But—Guido Franceschini, nobleman,
Bear pain no better! Everybody knows
It used once, when my father was a boy,
To form a proper, nay, important point
I' the education of our well-born youth,
That they took torture handsomely at need,
Without confessing in this clownish guise.
Each noble had his rack for private use,
And would, for the diversion of a guest,
Bid it be set up in the yard of arms,
And take thereon his hour of exercise,—
Command the varletry stretch, strain their best,
While friends looked on, admired my lord could smile
'Mid tugging which had caused an ox to roar.
Men are no longer men!

—And advocates
No longer Farinacci, let us add,
If I one more time fly from point proposed!
So, Vindicatio,—here begins the speech!—
Honoris causa; thus we make our stand:
Honour in us had injury, we prove.
Or if we fail to prove such injury
More than misprision of the fact,—what then?
It is enough, authorities declare,
If the result, the deed in question now,
Be caused by confidence that injury
Is veritable and no figment: since,
What, though proved fancy afterward, seemed fact
At the time, they argue shall excuse result.
That which we do, persuaded of good cause
For what we do, hold justifiable!—
So casuists bid: man, bound to do his best,
They would not have him leave that best undone
And mean to do his worst,—though fuller light
Show best was worst and worst would have been best.
Act by the present light!—they ask of man.
Ultra quod hic non agitur, besides
It is not anyway our business here,
De probatione adulterii,
To prove what we thought crime was crime indeed,
Ad irrogandam poenam, and require
Its punishment: such nowise do we seek:
Sed ad effectum, but 't is our concern,
Excusandi, here to simply find excuse,
Occisorem, for who did the killing-work,
Et ad illius defensionem, (mark
The difference) and defend the man, just that!
Quo casu levior probatio
Exuberaret, to which end far lighter proof
Suffices than the prior case would claim:
It should be always harder to convict,
In short, than to establish innocence.
Therefore we shall demonstrate first of all
That Honour is a gift of God to man
Precious beyond compare: which natural sense
Of human rectitude and purity,—
Which white, man's soul is born with,—brooks no touch:
Therefore, the sensitivest spot of all,
Wounded by any wafture breathed from black,
Is,—honour within honour, like the eye
Centred i' the ball,—the honour of our wife.
Touch us o' the pupil of our honour, then,
Not actually,—since so you slay outright,—
But by a gesture simulating touch,
Presumable mere menace of such taint,—
This were our warrant for eruptive ire
"To whose dominion I impose no end."
(Virgil, now, should not be too difficult
To Cinoncino,—say, the early books.
Pen, truce to further gambols! Poscimur!)

Nor can revenge of injury done here
To the honour proved the life and soul of us,
Be too excessive, too extravagant:
Such wrong seeks and must have complete revenge.
Show we this, first, on the mere natural ground:
Begin at the beginning, and proceed
Incontrovertibly. Theodoric,
In an apt sentence Cassiodorus cites,
Propounds for basis of all household law—
I hardly recollect it, but it ends,
"Bird mates with bird, beast genders with his like,
"And brooks no interference." Bird and beast?
The very insects … if they wive or no,
How dare I say when Aristotle doubts?
But the presumption is they likewise wive,
At least the nobler sorts; for take the bee
As instance,—copying King Solomon,—
Why that displeasure of the bee to aught
Which savours of incontinency, makes
The unchaste a very horror to the hive?
Whence comes it bees obtain their epithet
Of castoe apes, notably "the chaste"?
Because, ingeniously saith Scaliger,
(The young sage,—see his book of Table-talk)
"Such is their hatred of immodest act,
"They fall upon the offender, sting to death."
I mind a passage much confirmative
I' the Idyllist (though I read him Latinized)
"Why" asks a shepherd, "is this bank unfit
"For celebration of our vernal loves?"
"Oh swain," returns the instructed shepherdess,
"Bees swarm here, and would quick resent our warmth!"
Only cold-blooded fish lack instinct here,
Nor gain nor guard connubiality:
But beasts, quadrupedal, mammiferous,
Do credit to their beasthood: witness him
That Ælian cites, the noble elephant,
(Or if not Ælian, somebody as sage)
Who seeing, much offence beneath his nose,
His master's friend exceed in courtesy
The due allowance to his master's wife,
Taught them good manners and killed both at once,
Making his master and the world admire.
Indubitably, then, that master's self,
Favoured by circumstance, had done the same
Or else stood clear rebuked by his own beast.
Adeo, ut qui honorem spernit, thus,
Who values his own honour not a straw,—
Et non recuperare curat, nor
Labours by might and main to salve its wound,
Se ulciscendo, by revenging him,
Nil differat a belluis, is a brute,
Quinimo irrationabilior
Ipsismet belluis, nay, contrariwise,
Much more irrational than brutes themselves,
Should be considered, reputetur! How?
If a poor animal feel honour smart,
Taught by blind instinct nature plants in him,
Shall man,—confessed creation's master-stroke,
Nay, intellectual glory, nay, a god,
Nay, of the nature of my Judges here,—
Shall man prove the insensible, the block,
The blot o' the earth he crawls on to disgrace?
(Come, that's both solid and poetic!) Man
Derogate, live for the low tastes alone,
Mean creeping cares about the animal life?
Absit such homage to vile flesh and blood!

(May Gigia have remembered, nothing stings
Fried liver out of its monotony
Of richness, like a root of fennel, chopped
Fine with the parsley: parsley-sprigs, I said—
Was there need I should say "and fennel too"?
But no, she cannot have been so obtuse!
To our argument! The fennel will be chopped.)

From beast to man next mount we—ay, but, mind,
Still mere man, not yet Christian,—that, in time!
Not too fast, mark you! 'T is on Heathen grounds
We next defend our act: then, fairly urge—
If this were done of old, in a green tree,
Allowed in the Spring rawness of our kind,
What may be licensed in the Autumn dry
And ripe, the latter harvest-tide of man?
If, with his poor and primitive half-lights,
The Pagan, whom our devils served for gods,
Could stigmatise the breach of marriage-vow
As that which blood, blood only might efface,—
Absolve the husband, outraged, whose revenge
Anticipated law, plied sword himself,—
How with the Christian in full blaze of noon?
Shall not he rather double penalty,
Multiply vengeance, than, degenerate,
Let privilege be minished, droop, decay?
Therefore set forth at large the ancient law!
Superabundant the examples be
To pick and choose from. The Athenian Code,
Solon's, the name is serviceable,—then,
The Laws of the Twelve Tables, that fifteenth,—
"Romulus" likewise rolls out round and large
The Julian; the Cornelian; Gracchus' Law:
So old a chime, the bells ring of themselves!
Spreti can set that going if he please,
I point you, for my part, the belfry plain,
Intent to rise from dusk, diluculum,
Into the Christian day shall broaden next.

First, the fit compliment to His Holiness
Happily reigning: then sustain the point—
All that was long ago declared as law
By the natural revelation, stands confirmed
By Apostle and Evangelist and Saint,—
To-wit—that Honour is man's supreme good.
Why should I baulk Saint Jerome of his phrase?
Ubi honor non est, where no honour is,
Ibi contemptus est; and where contempt,
Ibi injuria frequens; and where that,
The frequent injury, ibi et indignatio;
And where the indignation, ibi quies
Nulla: and where there is no quietude
Why, ibi, there, the mind is often cast
Down from the heights where it proposed to dwell,
Mens a proposito soepe dejicitur.
And naturally the mind is so cast down,
Since harder't is, quum difficilius sit,
Iram cohibere, to coerce one's wrath,
Quam miracula facere, than work miracles,—
So Gregory smiles in his First Dialogue.
Whence we infer, the ingenuous soul, the man
Who makes esteem of honour and repute,
Whenever honour and repute are touched,
Arrives at term of fury and despair,
Loses all guidance from the reason-check:
As in delirium or a frenzy-fit,
Nor fury nor despair he satiates,—no,
Not even if he attain the impossible,
O'erturn the hinges of the universe
To annihilate—not whoso caused the smart
Solely, the author simply of his pain,
But the place, the memory, vituperii,
O' the shame and scorn: quia,—says Solomon,
(The Holy Spirit speaking by his mouth
In Proverbs, the sixth chapter near the end)
—Because, the zeal and fury of a man,
Zelus et furor viri, will not spare,
Non parcet, in the day of his revenge,
In die vindictoe, nor will acquiesce,
Nec acquiescet, through a person's prayers,
Cujusdam precibus,—nec suscipiet,
Nor yet take, pro redemptione, for
Redemption, dona plurium, gifts of friends,
Mere money-payment to compound for ache.
Who recognizes not my client's case?
Whereto, as strangely consentaneous here,
Adduce Saint Bernard in the Epistle writ
To Robertulus, his nephew: "Too much grief,
"Dolor quippe nimius non deliberat,
"Does not excogitate propriety,
"Non verecundatur, nor knows shame at all,
"Non consulit rationem, nor consults
"Reason, non dignitatis metuit
"Damnum, nor dreads the loss of dignity;
"Modum et ordinem, order and the mode,
"Ignorat, it ignores:" why, trait for trait,
Was ever portrait limned so like the life?
(By Cavalier Maratta, shall I say?
I hear he's first in reputation now.)
Yes, that of Samson in the Sacred Text
That's not so much the portrait as the man!
Samson in Gaza was the antetype
Of Guido at Rome: observe the Nazarite!
Blinded he was,—an easy thing to bear:
Intrepidly he took imprisonment,
Gyves, stripes and daily labour at the mill:
But when he found himself, i' the public place,
Destined to make the common people sport,
Disdain burned up with such an impetus
I' the breast of him that, all the man one fire,
Moriatur, roared he, let my soul's self die,
Anima mea, with the Philistines!
So, pulled down pillar, roof, and death and all,
Multosque plures interfecit, ay,
And many more he killed thus, moriens,
Dying, quam vivus, than in his whole life,
Occiderat, he ever killed before.
Are these things writ for no example, Sirs?
One instance more, and let me see who doubts!
Our Lord Himself, made all of mansuetude,
Sealing the sum of sufferance up, received
Opprobrium, contumely and buffeting
Without complaint: but when He found Himself
Touched in His honour never so little for once,
Then outbroke indignation pent before—
"Honorem meum nemini dabo!" "No,
"My honour I to nobody will give!"
And certainly the example so hath wrought,
That whosoever, at the proper worth,
Apprises worldly honour and repute,
Esteems it nobler to die honoured man
Beneath Mannaia, than live centuries
Disgraced in the eye o' the world. We find Saint Paul
No recreant to this faith delivered once:
"Far worthier were it that I died," cries he,
Expedit mihi magis mori, "than
"That anyone should make my glory void,"
Quam ut gloriam meam quis evacuet!
See, ad Corinthienses: whereupon
Saint Ambrose makes a comment with much fruit,
Doubtless my Judges long since laid to heart,
So I desist from bringing forward here.
(I can't quite recollect it.)

Have I proved
Satis superque, both enough and to spare,
That Revelation old and new admits
The natural man may effervesce in ire,
O'erflood earth, o'erfroth heaven with foamy rage,
At the first puncture to his self-respect?
Then, Sirs, this Christian dogma, this law-bud
Full-blown now, soon to bask the absolute flower
Of Papal doctrine in our blaze of day,—
Bethink you, shall we miss one promise-streak,
One doubtful birth of dawn crepuscular,
One dew-drop comfort to humanity,
Now that the chalice teems with noonday wine?
Yea, argue Molinists who bar revenge—
Referring just to what makes out our case!
Under old dispensation, argue they,
The doom of the adulterous wife was death,
Stoning by Moses' law. "Nay, stone her not,
"Put her away!" next legislates our Lord;
And last of all, "Nor yet divorce a wife!"
Ordains the Church, "she typifies ourself,
The Bride no fault shall cause to fall from Christ."
Then, as no jot nor tittle of the Law
Has passed away—which who presumes to doubt?
As not one word of Christ is rendered vain—
Which, could it be though heaven and earth should pass?
—Where do I find my proper punishment
For my adulterous wife, I humbly ask
Of my infallible Pope,—who now remits
Even the divorce allowed by Christ in lieu
Of lapidation Moses licensed me?
The Gospel checks the Law which throws the stone,
The Church tears the divorce-bill Gospel grants:
Shall wives sin and enjoy impunity?
What profits me the fulness of the days,
The final dispensation, I demand,
Unless Law, Gospel and the Church subjoin
"But who hath barred thee primitive revenge,
"Which, like fire damped and dammed up, burns more fierce?
"Use thou thy natural privilege of man,
"Else wert thou found like those old ingrate Jews,
"Despite the manna-banquet on the board,
"A-longing after melons, cucumbers,
"And such like trash of Egypt left behind!"

(There was one melon had improved our soup:
But did not Cinoncino need the rind
To make a boat with? So I seem to think.)

Law, Gospel and the Church—from these we leap
To the very last revealment, easy rule
Befitting the well-born and thorough-bred
O' the happy day we live in, not the dark
O' the early rude and acorn-eating race.
"Behold," quoth James, "we bridle in a horse
"And turn his body as we would thereby!"
Yea, but we change the bit to suit the growth,
And rasp our colt's jaw with a rugged spike
We hasten to remit our managed steed
Who wheels round at persuasion of a touch.
Civilization bows to decency,
The acknowledged use and wont: 't is manners,—mild
But yet imperative law,—which make the man.
Thus do we pay the proper compliment
To rank, and that society of Rome,
Hath so obliged us by its interest,
Taken our client's part instinctively,
As unaware defending its own cause.
What dictum doth Society lay down
I' the case of one who hath a faithless wife?
Wherewithal should the husband cleanse his way?
Be patient and forgive? Oh, language fails,—
Shrinks from depicturing his turpitude!
For if wronged husband raise not hue and cry,
Quod si maritus de adulterio non
Conquereretur, he's presumed a—foh!
Presumitur leno: so, complain he must.
But how complain? At your tribunal, lords?
Far weightier challenge suits your sense, I wot!
You sit not to have gentlemen propose
Questions gentility can itself discuss.
Did not you prove that to our brother Paul?
The Abate, quum judicialiter
Prosequeretur, when he tried the law,
Guidonis causam, in Count Guido's case,
Accidit ipsi, this befell himself,
Quod risum moverit et cachinnos, that
He moved to mirth and cachinnation, all
Or nearly all, fere in omnibus
Etiam sensatis et cordatis, men
Strong-sensed, sound-hearted, nay, the very Court,
Ipsismet in judicibus, I might add,
Non tamen dicam. In a cause like this,
So multiplied were reasons pro and con,
Delicate, intertwisted and obscure,
That Law refused loan of a finger-tip
To unravel, re-adjust the hopeless twine,
Since, half-a-dozen steps outside Law's seat,
There stood a foolish trifler with a tool
A-dangle to no purpose by his side,
Had clearly cut the embroilment in a trice.
Asserunt enim unanimiter
Doctores, for the Doctors all assert,
That husbands, quod mariti, must be held
Viles, cornuti reputantur, vile,
Fronts branching forth a florid infamy,
Si propriis manibus, if with their own hands,
Non sumunt, they fail straight to take revenge,
Vindictam, but expect the deed be done
By the Court—expectant illam fieri
Per judices, qui summopere rident, which
Gives an enormous guffaw for reply,
Et cachinnantur. For he ran away,
Deliquit enim, just that he might 'scape
The censure of both counsellors and crowd,
Ut vulgi et doctorum evitaret
Censuram, and lest so he superadd
To loss of honour ignominy too,
Et sic ne istam quoque ignominiam
Amisso honori superadderet.
My lords, my lords, the inconsiderate step
Was—we referred ourselves to Law at all!
Twit me not with "Law else had punished you!"
Each punishment of the extra-legal step,
To which the high-born preferably revert,
Is ever for some oversight, some slip
I' the taking vengeance, not for vengeance' self.
A good thing, done unhandsomely, turns ill;
And never yet lacked ill the law's rebuke.
For pregnant instance, let us contemplate
The luck of Leonardus,—see at large
Of Sicily's Decisions sixty-first.
This Leonard finds his wife is false: what then?
He makes her own son snare her, and entice
Out of the town walls to a private walk
Wherein he slays her with commodity.
They find her body half-devoured by dogs:
Leonard is tried, convicted, punished, sent
To labour in the galleys seven years long:
Why? For the murder? Nay, but for the mode!
Malus modus occidendi, ruled the Court,
An ugly mode of killing, nothing more!
Another fructuous sample,—see "De Re
"Criminali," in Matthæus' divine piece.
Another husband, in no better plight,
Simulates absence, thereby tempts his wife;
On whom he falls, out of sly ambuscade,
Backed by a brother of his, and both of them
Armed to the teeth with arms that law had blamed.
Nimis dolose, overwilily,
Fuisse operatum, did they work,
Pronounced the law: had all been fairly done
Law had not found him worthy, as she did,
Of four years' exile. Why cite more? Enough
Is good as a feast—(unless a birthday-feast
For one's Cinuccio) so, we finish here.
My lords, we rather need defend ourselves
Inasmuch as, for a twinkling of an eye,
We hesitatingly appealed to law,—
Than need deny that, on mature advice,
We blushingly bethought us, bade revenge
Back to its simple proper private way
Of decent self-dealt gentlemanly death.
Judges, here is the law, and here beside,
The testimony! Look to it!

Pause and breathe!
So far is only too plain; we must watch:
Bottini will scarce hazard an attack
Here: best anticipate the fellow's play,
And guard the weaker places—warily ask,
What if considerations of a sort,
Reasons of a kind, arise from out the strange
Peculiar unforeseen new circumstance
Of this our (candour owns) abnormal act,
To bar the right of us revenging so?
"Impunity were otherwise your meed:
"Go slay your wife and welcome,"—may be urged,—
"But why the innocent old couple slay,
"Pietro, Violante? You may do enough,
"Not too much, not exceed the golden mean:
"Neither brute-beast nor Pagan, Gentile, Jew,
"Nor Christian, no nor votarist of the mode,
"Is justified to push revenge so far."

No, indeed? Why, thou very sciolist!
The actual wrong, Pompilia seemed to do,
Was virtual wrong done by the parents here—
Imposing her upon us as their child—
Themselves allow: then, her fault was their fault,
Her punishment be theirs accordingly!
But wait a little, sneak not off so soon!
Was this cheat solely harm to Guido, pray?
The precious couple you call innocent,—
Why, they were felons that Law failed to clutch,
Qui ut fraudarent, who that they might rob,
Legitime vocatos, folk law called,
Ad fidei commissum, true heirs to the Trust,
Partum supposuerunt, feigned this birth,
Immemores reos factos esse, blind
To the fact that, guilty, they incurred thereby,
Ultimi supplicii, hanging or what's worse.
Do you blame us that we turn Law's instruments,
Not mere self-seekers,—mind the public weal,
Nor make the private good our sole concern?
That having—shall I say—secured a thief,
Not simply we recover from his pouch
The stolen article our property,
But also pounce upon our neighbour's purse
We opportunely find reposing there,
And do him justice while we right ourselves?
He owes us, for our part, a drubbing say,
But owes our neighbour just a dance i' the air
Under the gallows: so, we throttle him.
That neighbour's Law, that couple are the Thief,
We are the over ready to help Law—
Zeal of her house hath eaten us up: for which,
Can it be, Law intends to eat up us,
Crudum Priamum, devour poor Priam raw,
('T was Jupiter's own joke) with babes to boot,
Priamique pisinnos, in Homeric phrase?
Shame!—and so ends my period prettily.

But even,—prove the pair not culpable,
Free as unborn babe from connivance at,
Participation in, their daughter's fault:
Ours the mistake. Is that a rare event?
Non semel, it is anything but rare,
In contingentia facti, that by chance,
Impunes evaserunt, go scot-free,
Qui, such well-meaning people as ourselves,
Justo dolore moti, who aggrieved
With cause, apposuerunt manus, lay
Rough hands, in innocentes, on wrong heads.
Cite we an illustrative case in point:
Mulier Smirnea quoedam, good my lords,
A gentlewoman lived in Smyrna once,
Virum et filium ex eo conceptum, who
Both husband and her son begot by him
Killed, interfecerat, ex quo, because,
Vir filium suum perdiderat, her spouse
Had been beforehand with her, killed her son,
Matrimonii primi, of a previous bed.
Deinde accusata, then accused,
Apud Dolabellam, before him that sat
Proconsul, nec duabus coedibus
Contaminatam liberare, nor
To liberate a woman doubly-dyed
With murder, voluit, made he up his mind,
Nec condeminare, nor to doom to death,
Justo dolore impulsam, one impelled
By just grief; sed remisit, but sent her up
Ad Areopagum, to the Hill of Mars,
Sapientissimorum judicum
Coetum, to that assembly of the sage
Paralleled only by my judges here;
Ubi, cognito de causa, where, the cause
Well weighed, responsum est, they gave reply,
Ut ipsa et accusator, that both sides
O' the suit, redirent, should come back again,
Post centum annos, after a hundred years,
For judgment; et sic, by which sage decree,
Duplici parricidio rea, one
Convicted of a double parricide,
Quamvis etiam innocentem, though in truth
Out of the pair, one innocent at least
She, occidisset, plainly had put to death,
Undequaque, yet she altogether 'scaped,
Evasit impunis. See the case at length
In Valerius, fittingly styled Maximus,
That eighth book of his Memorable Facts.
Nor Cyriacus cities beside the mark:
Similiter uxor quoe mandaverat,
Just so, a lady who had taken care,
Homicidium viri, that her lord be killed,
Ex denegatione debiti,
For denegation of a certain debt,
Matrimonialis, he was loth to pay,
Fuit pecuniaria mulcta, was
Amerced in a pecuniary mulct,
Punita, et ad poenam, and to pains,
Temporalem, for a certain space of time,
In monasterio, in a convent.

(Ay,
In monasterio! He mismanages
In with the ablative, the accusative!
I had hoped to have hitched the villain into verse
For a gift, this very day, a complete list
O' the prepositions each with proper case,
Telling a story, long was in my head.
"What prepositions take the accusative?
Ad to or at—who saw the cat?—down to
Ob, for, because of, keep her claws off!" Tush!
Law in a man takes the whole liberty:
The muse is fettered: just as Ovid found!)

And now, sea widens and the coast is clear.
What of the dubious act you bade excuse?
Surely things broaden, brighten, till at length
Remains—so far from act that needs defence—
Apology to make for act delayed
One minute, let alone eight mortal months
Of hesitation! "Why procrastinate?"
(Out with it my Bottinius, ease thyself!)
"Right, promptly done, is twice right: right delayed
"Turns wrong. We grant you should have killed your wife,
"But killed o' the moment, at the meeting her
"In company with the priest: then did the tongue
"O' the Brazen Head give license, 'Time is now!'
"Wait to make mind up? 'Time is past' it peals.
"Friend, you are competent to mastery
"O' the passions that confessedly explain
"An outbreak: you allow an interval,
"And then break out as if time's clock still clanged.
"You have forfeited your chance, and flat you fall
"Into the commonplace category
"Of men bound to go softly all their days,
"Obeying Law."

Now, which way make response?
What was the answer Guido gave, himself?
—That so to argue came of ignorance
How honour bears a wound. "For, wound," said he,
"My body, and the smart soon mends and ends:
"While, wound my soul where honour sits and rules,
"Longer the sufferance, stronger grows the pain,
"Being ex incontinenti, fresh as first."
But try another tack, urge common sense
By way of contrast: say—Too true, my lords!
We did demur, awhile did hesitate:
Since husband sure should let a scruple speak
Ere he slay wife,—for his own safety, lords!
Carpers abound in this misjudging world:
Moreover, there's a nicety in law
That seems to justify them should they carp.
Suppose the source of injury a son,—
Father may slay such son yet run no risk:
Why graced with such a privilege? Because
A father so incensed with his own child,
Or must have reason, or believe he has:
Quia semper, seeing that in such event,
Presumitur, the law is bound suppose,
Quod capiat pater, that the sire must take,
Bonum consilium pro filio,
The best course as to what befits his boy,
Through instinct, ex instinctu, of mere love,
Amoris, and, paterni, fatherhood;
Quam confidentiam, which confidence,
Non habet, law declines to entertain,
De viro, of the husband: where finds he
An instinct that compels him love his wife?
Rather is he presumably her foe.
So, let him ponder long in this bad world
Ere do the simplest act of justice.

But
Again—and here we brush Bottini's breast—
Object you, "See the danger of delay!
"Suppose a man murdered my friend last month:
"Had I come up and killed him for his pains
"In rage, I had done right, allows the law:
"I meet him now and kill him in cold blood,
"I do wrong, equally allows the law:
"Wherein do actions differ, yours and mine?"
In plenitudine intellectus es?
Hast thy wits, Fisc? To take such slayer's life,
Returns it life to thy slain friend at all?
Had he stolen ring instead of stabbing friend,—
To-day, to-morrow or next century,
Meeting the thief, thy ring upon his thumb,
Thou justifiably hadst wrung it thence:
So, couldst thou wrench thy friend's life back again,
Though prisoned in the bosom of his foe.
Why, law would look complacent on thy wrath.
Our case is, that the thing we lost, we found:
The honour, we were robbed of eight months since,
Being recoverable at any day
By death of the delinquent. Go thy ways!
Ere thou hast learned law, will be much to do,
As said the gaby while he shod the goose.
Nay, if you urge me, interval was none!
From the inn to the villa—blank or else a bar
Of adverse and contrarious incident
Solid between us and our just revenge!
What with the priest who flourishes his blade,
The wife who like a fury flings at us,
The crowd—and then the capture, the appeal
To Rome, the journey there, the jaunting thence
To shelter at the House of Convertites,
The visits to the Villa, and so forth,
Where was one minute left us all this while
To put in execution that revenge
We planned o' the instant?—as it were, plumped down
O' the spot, some eight months since, which round sound egg,
Rome, more propitious than our nest, should hatch!
Object not, "You reached Rome on Christmas-eve,
"And, despite liberty to act at once,
"Waited a whole and indecorous week!"
Hath so the Molinism, the canker, lords,
Eaten to our bone? Is no religion left?
No care for aught held holy by the Church?
What, would you have us skip and miss those Feasts
O' the Natal Time, must we go prosecute
Secular business on a sacred day?
Should not the merest charity expect,
Setting our poor concerns aside for once,
We hurried to the song matutinal
I' the Sistine, and pressed forward for the Mass
The Cardinal that's Camerlengo chaunts,
Then rushed on to the blessing of the Hat
And Rapier, which the Pope sends to what prince
Has done most detriment to the Infidel—
And thereby whetted courage if 't were blunt?
Meantime, allow we kept the house a week,
Suppose not we were idle in our mew!
Picture us raging here and raving there—
"'Money?' I need none. 'Friends?' The word is null.
"Restore the white was on that shield of mine
"Borne at" … wherever might be shield to bear.
"I see my grandsire, he who fought so well
"At" … here find out and put in time and place,
Or else invent the fight his grandsire fought:
"I see this! I see that!"

(See nothing else,
Or I shall scarce see lamb's fry in an hour!
What to the uncle, as I bid advance
The smoking dish? "Fry suits a tender tooth!
"Behoves we care a little for our kin—
"You, Sir,—who care so much for cousinship
"As come to your poor loving nephew's feast!"
He has the reversion of a long lease yet—
Land to bequeath! He loves lamb's fry, I know!)

Here fall to be considered those same six
Qualities; what Bottini needs must call
So many aggravations of our crime,
Parasite-growth upon mere murder's back.
We summarily might dispose of such
By some off-hand and jaunty fling, some skit—
"So, since there's proved no crime to aggravate,
"A fico for your aggravations, Fisc!"
No,—handle mischief rather,—play with spells
Were meant to raise a spirit, and laugh the while
We show that did he rise we stand his match!
Therefore, first aggravation: we made up—
Over and above our simple murderous selves—
A regular assemblage of armed men,
Coadunatio armatorum,—ay,
Unluckily it was the very judge
That sits in judgment on our cause to-day
Who passed the law as Governor of Rome:
"Four men armed,"—though for lawful purpose, mark!
Much more for an acknowledged crime,—"shall die."
We five were armed to the teeth, meant murder too?
Why, that's the very point that saves us, Fisc!
Let me instruct you. Crime nor done nor meant,—
You punish still who arm and congregate:
For wherefore use bad means to a good end?
Crime being meant not done,—you punish still
The means to crime, whereon you haply pounce,
Though accident have baulked them of effect.
But crime not only compassed but complete,
Meant and done too? Why, since you have the end,
Be that your sole concern, nor mind those means
No longer to the purpose! Murdered we?
(—Which, that our luck was in the present case,
Quod contigisse in prasenti casu,
Is palpable, manibus palpatum est—)
Make murder out against us, nothing else!
Of many crimes committed with a view
To one main crime, Law overlooks the less,
Intent upon the large. Suppose a man
Having in view commission of a theft,
Climbs the town-wall: 't is for the theft he hangs,
In case he stands convicted of such theft:
Law remits whipping, due to who clomb wall
Through bravery or wantonness alone,
Just to dislodge a daw's nest, plant a flag.
So I interpret you the manly mind
Of him about to judge both you and me,—
Our Governor, who, being no Fisc, my Fisc,
Cannot have blundered on ineptitude!
Next aggravation,—that the arms themselves
Were specially of such forbidden sort
Through shape or length or breadth, as, prompt, Law plucks
From single hand of solitary man,
Making him pay the carriage with his life:
Delatio armorum, arms against the rule,
Contra formam constitutionis, of
Pope Alexander's blessed memory.
Such are the poignards with the double prong,
Horn-like, when tines make bold the antlered buck,
Each prong of brittle glass—wherewith to stab
And break off short and so let fragment stick
Fast in the flesh to baffle surgery:
Such being the Genoese blade with hooked edge
That did us service at the villa here.
Sed parcat mihi tam eximius vir,
But,—let so rare a personage forgive,—
Fisc, thy objection is a foppery!
Thy charge runs that we killed three innocents:
Killed, dost see? Then, if killed, what matter how?
By stick or stone, by sword or dagger, tool
Long or tool short, round or triangular—
Poor slain folk find small comfort in the choice!
Means to an end, means to an end, my Fisc!
Nature cries out, "Take the first arms you find!"
Furor ministrat arma: where's a stone?
Unde mî lapidem, where darts for me?
Unde sagittas? But subdue the bard
And rationalize a little. Eight months since,
Had we, or had we not, incurred your blame
For letting 'scape unpunished this bad pair?
I think I proved that in last paragraph!
Why did we so? Because our courage failed.
Wherefore? Through lack of arms to fight the foe:
We had no arms or merely lawful ones,
An unimportant sword and blunderbuss,
Against a foe, pollent in potency,
The amasius, and our vixen of a wife.
Well then, how culpably do we gird loin
And once more undertake the high emprise,
Unless we load ourselves this second time
With handsome superfluity of arms,
Since better is "too much" than "not enough,"
And "plus non vitiat," too much does no harm,
Except in mathematics, sages say.
Gather instruction from the parable!
At first we are advised—"A lad hath here
"Seven barley loaves and two small fishes: what
"Is that among so many?" Aptly asked:
But put that question twice and, quite as apt,
The answer is "Fragments, twelve baskets full!"
And, while we speak of superabundance, fling
We word by the way to fools who cast their flout
On Guido—"Punishment were pardoned him,
"But here the punishment exceeds offence:
"He might be just, but he was cruel too!"
Why, grant there seems a kind of cruelty
In downright stabbing people he could maim,
(If so you stigmatize the stern and strict)
Still, Guido meant no cruelty—may plead
Transgression of his mandate, over-zeal
O' the part of his companions: all he craved
Was, they should fray the faces of the folk,
Merely disfigure, nowise make them die.
Solummodo fassus est, he owns no more,
Dedisse mandatum, than that he desired,
Ad sfrisiandum, dicam, that they hack
And hew, i' the customary phrase, his wife,
Uxorem tantum, and no harm beside.
If his instructions then be misconceived,
Nay, disobeyed, impute you blame to him?
Cite me no Panicollus to the point,
As adverse! Oh, I quite expect his case—
How certain noble youths of Sicily
Having good reason to mistrust their wives,
Killed them and were absolved in consequence:
While others who had gone beyond the need
By mutilation of each paramour—
As Galba in the Horatian satire grieved
—These were condemned to the galleys, cast for guilt
Exceeding simple murder of a wife.
But why? Because of ugliness, and not
Cruelty, in the said revenge, I trow!
Ex causa abscissionis partium;
Qui nempe id facientes reputantur
Naturoe inimici, man revolts
Against them as the natural enemy.
Pray, grant to one who meant to slit the nose
And slash the cheek and slur the mouth, at most,
A somewhat more humane award than these
Obtained, these natural enemies of man!
Objectum funditus corruit, flat you fall,
My Fisc! I waste no kick on you, but pass.

Third aggravation: that our act was done—
Not in the public street, where safety lies,
Not in the bye-place, caution may avoid,
Wood, cavern, desert, spots contrived for crime,—
But in the very house, home; nook and nest,
O' the victims, murdered in their dwelling-place,
In domo ac habitatione propria,
Where all presumably is peace and joy.
The spider, crime, pronounce we twice a pest
When, creeping from congenial cottage, she
Taketh hold with her hands, to horrify
His household more, i' the palace of the king.
All three were housed and safe and confident.
Moreover, the permission that our wife
Should have at length domum pro carcere,
Her own abode in place of prison—why,
We ourselves granted, by our other self
And proxy Paolo: did we make such grant,
Meaning a lure?—elude the vigilance
O' the jailor, lead her to commodious death,
While we ostensibly relented?

Ay,
Just so did we, nor otherwise, my Fisc!
Is vengeance lawful? We demand our right,
But find it will be questioned or refused
By jailor, turnkey, hangdog,—what know we?
Pray, how is it we should conduct ourselves?
To gain our private right—break public peace,
Do you bid us?—trouble order with our broils?
Endanger . . shall I shrink to own . . ourselves?—
Who want no broken head nor bloody nose
(While busied slitting noses, breaking heads)
From the first tipstaff that may interfere!
Nam quicquid sit, for howsoever it be,
An de consensu nostro, if with leave
Or not, a monasterio, from the nuns,
Educta esset, she had been led forth,
Potuimus id dissimulare, we
May well have granted leave in pure pretence,
Ut aditum habere, that thereby
An entry we might compass, a free move
Potuissemus, to her easy death,
Ad eam occidendam. Privacy
O' the hearth, and sanctitude of home, say you?
Shall we give man's abode more privilege
That God's?—for in the churches where He dwells,
In quibus assistit Regum Rex, by means
Of His essence, per essentiam, all the same,
Et nihilominus, therein, in eis,
Ex justa via delinquens, whoso dares
To take a liberty on ground enough,
Is pardoned, excusatur: that's our case—
Delinquent through befitting cause. You hold,
To punish a false wife in her own house
Is graver than, what happens every day,
To hale a debtor from his hiding-place
In church protected by the Sacrament?
To this conclusion have I brought my Fisc?
Foxes have holes, and fowls o' the air their nests;
Praise you the impiety that follows, Fisc?
Shall false wife yet have where to lay her head?
"Contra Fiscum definitum est!" He's done!
"Surge et scribe," make a note of it!
—If I may dally with Aquinas' word.

Or in the death-throe does he mutter still,
Fourth aggravation, that we changed our garb,
And rusticized ourselves with uncouth hat,
Rough vest and goatskin wrappage; murdered thus
Mutatione vestium, in disguise,
Whereby mere murder got complexed with wile,
Turned homicidium ex insidiis? Fisc,
How often must I round the in the ears—
All means are lawful to a lawful end?
Concede he had the right to kill his wife:
The Count indulged in a travesty; why?
De illa ut vindictam sumeret,
That on her he might lawful vengeance take,
Commodius, with more ease, et tutius,
And safelier: wants he warrant for the step?
Read to thy profit how the Apostle once
For ease and safety, when Damascus raged,
Was let down in a basket by the wall
To 'scape the malice of the governor
(Another sort of Governor boasts Rome!)
—Many are of opinion,—covered close,
Concealed with—what except that very cloak
He left behind at Troas afterward?
I shall not add a syllable: Molinists may!
Well, have we more to manage? Ay, indeed!
Fifth aggravation, that our wife reposed
Sub potestate judicis, beneath
Protection of the judge,—her house was styled
A prison, and his power became its guard
In lieu of wall and gate and bolt and bar.
This is a tough point, shrewd, redoubtable:
Because we have to supplicate that judge
Shall overlook wrong done the judgment-seat.
Now, I might suffer my own nose be pulled,
As man: but then as father … if the Fisc
Touched one hair of my boy who held my hand
In confidence he could not come to harm
Crossing the Corso, at my own desire,
Going to see those bodies in the church—
What would you say to that, Don Hyacinth?
This is the sole and single knotty point:
For, bid Tommati blink his interest,
You laud his magnanimity the while:
But baulk Tommati's office,—he talks big!
"My predecessors in the place,—those sons
"O' the prophets that may hope succeed me here,—
"Shall I diminish their prerogative?
"Count Guido Franceschini's honour!—well,
"Has the Governor of Rome none?"

You perceive,
The cards are all against us. Make a push,
Kick over table, as shrewd gamesters do!
We, do you say, encroach upon the rights,
Deny the omnipotence o' the Judge forsooth?
We, who have only been from first to last
Intending that his purpose should prevail,
Nay more, at times, anticipating it
At risk of his rebuke?

But wait awhile!
Cannot we lump this with the sixth and last
Of the aggravations—that the Majesty
O' the Sovereign here received a wound? to-wit,
Loesa Majestas, since our violence
Was out of envy to the course of law,
In odium litis? We cut short thereby
Three pending suits, promoted by ourselves
I' the main,—which worsens crime, accedit ad
Exasperationem criminis!

Yes, here the eruptive wrath with full effect!
How, did not indignation chain my tongue,
Could I repel this last, worst charge of all!
(There is a porcupine to barbacue;
Gigia can jug a rabbit well enough,
With sour-sweet sauce and pine-pips; but, good Lord,
Suppose the devil instigate the wench
To stew, not roast him? Stew my porcupine?
If she does, I know where his quills shall stick!
Come, I must go myself and see to things:
I cannot stay much longer stewing here.)
Our stomach … I mean, our soul is stirred within,
And we want words. We wounded Majesty?
Fall under such a censure, we?—who yearned
So much that Majesty dispel the cloud
And shine on us with healing on her wings,
That we prayed Pope Majestas' very self
To anticipate a little the tardy pack,
Bell us forth deep the authoritative bay
Should start the beagles into sudden yelp
Unisonous,—and, Gospel leading Law,
Grant there assemble in our own behoof
A Congregation, a particular Court,
A few picked friends of quality and place,
To hear the several matters in dispute,—
Causes big, little and indifferent,
Bred of our marriage like a mushroom-growth,—
All at once (can one brush off such too soon?)
And so with laudable despatch decide
Whether we, in the main (to sink detail)
Were one the Pope should hold fast or let go.
"What, take the credit from the Law?" you ask?
Indeed, we did! Law ducks to Gospel here:
Why should Law gain the glory and pronounce
A judgment shall immortalize the Pope?
Yes: our self-abnegating policy
Was Joab's—we would rouse our David's sloth,
Bid him encamp against a city, sack
A place whereto ourselves had long laid siege,
Lest, taking it at last, it take our name
Nor be styled Innocentinopolis.
But no! The modesty was in alarm,
The temperance refused to interfere,
Returned us our petition with the word
"Ad judices suos," "Leave him to his Judge!"
As who should say "Why trouble my repose?
"Why consult Peter in a simple case,
"Peter's wife's sister in her fever-fit
"Might solve as readily as the Apostle's self?
"Are my Tribunals posed by aught so plain?
"Hath not my Court a conscience? It is of age,
"Ask it!"

We do ask,—but, inspire reply
To the Court thou bidst me ask, as I have asked—
Oh thou, who vigilantly dost attend
To even the few, the ineffectual words
Which rise from this our low and mundane sphere
Up to thy region out of smoke and noise,
Seeking corroboration from thy nod
Who art all justice—which means mercy too,
In a low noisy smoky world like ours
Where Adam's sin made peccable his seed!
We venerate the father of the flock,
Whose last faint sands of life, the frittered gold,
Fall noiselessly, yet all too fast, o' the cone
And tapering heap of those collected years:
Never have these been hurried in their flow,
Though justice fain would jog reluctant arm,
In eagerness to take the forfeiture
Of guilty life: much less shall mercy sue
In vain that thou let innocence survive,
Precipitate no minim of the mass
O' the all-so precious moments of thy life,
By pushing Guido into death and doom!

(Our Cardinal engages to go read
The Pope my speech, and point its beauties out.
They say, the Pope has one half-hour, in twelve,
Of something like a moderate return
Of the intellectuals,—never much to lose!
If I adroitly plant this passage there,
The Fisc will find himself forestalled, I think,
Though he stand, beat till the old ear-drum break!
—Ah, boy of my own bowels, Hyacinth,
Wilt ever catch the knack, requite the pains
Of poor papa, become proficient too
I' the how and why and when, the time to laugh,
The time to weep, the time, again, to pray,
And all the times prescribed by Holy Writ?
Well, well, we fathers can but care, but cast
Our bread upon the waters!)

In a word,
These secondary charges go to ground,
Since secondary, and superfluous,—motes
Quite from the main point: we did all and some,
Little and much, adjunct and principal,
Causa honoris. Is there such a cause
As the sake of honour? By that sole test try
Our action, nor demand if more or less,
Because of the action's mode, we merit blame
Or may-be deserve praise! The Court decides.
Is the end lawful? It allows the means:
What we may do, we may with safety do,
And what means "safety" we ourselves must judge.
Put case a person wrongs me past dispute:
If my legitimate vengeance be a blow,
Mistrusting my bare arm can deal that blow,
I claim co-operation of a stick;
Doubtful if stick be tough, I crave a sword;
Diffident of ability in fence,
I fee a friend, a swordsman to assist:
Take one—he may be coward, fool or knave:
Why not take fifty?—and if these exceed
I' the due degree of drubbing, whom accuse
But the first author of the aforesaid wrong
Who put poor me to such a world of pains?
Surgery would have just excised a wart;
The patient made such pother, struggled so
That the sharp instrument sliced nose and all.
Taunt us not that our friends performed for pay!
Ourselves had toiled for simple honour's sake:
But country clowns want dirt they comprehend,
The piece of gold! Our reasons, which suffice
Ourselves, be ours alone; our piece of gold
Be, to the rustic, reason he approves!
We must translate our motives like our speech,
Into the lower phrase that suits the sense
O' the limitedly apprehensive. Let
Each level have its language! Heaven speaks first
To the angel, then the angel tames the word
Down to the ear of Tobit: he, in turn,
Diminishes the message to his dog,
And finally that dog finds how the flea
(Which else, importunate, might check his speed)
Shall learn its hunger must have holiday,
By application of his tongue or paw:
So many varied sorts of language here,
Each following each with pace to match the step,
Haud passibus oequis!

Talking of which flea,
Reminds me I must put in special word
For the poor humble following,—the four friends,
Sicarii, our assassins caught and caged.
Ourselves are safe in your approval now:
Yet must we care for our companions, plead
The cause o' the poor, the friends (of old-world faith)
Who lie in tribulation for our sake.
Pauperum Procurator is my style:
I stand forth as the poor man's advocate:
And when we treat of what concerns the poor,
Et cum agatur de pauperibus,
In bondage, carceratis, for their sake,
In eorum causis, natural piety,
Pietas, ever ought to win the day,
Triumphare debet, quia ipsi sunt,
Because those very paupers constitute,
Thesaurus Christi, all the wealth of Christ.
Nevertheless I shall not hold you long
With multiplicity of proofs, nor burn
Candle at noon-tide, clarify the clear.
There beams a case refulgent from our books—
Castrensis, Butringarius, everywhere
I find it burn to dissipate the dark.
'T is this: a husband had a friend, which friend
Seemed to him over-friendly with his wife
In thought and purpose,—I pretend no more.
To justify suspicion or dispel,
He bids his wife make show of giving heed,
Semblance of sympathy—propose, in fine,
A secret meeting in a private place.
The friend, enticed thus, finds an ambuscade,
To-wit, the husband posted with a pack
Of other friends, who fall upon the first
And beat his love and life out both at once.
These friends were brought to question for their help;
Law ruled "The husband being in the right,
"Who helped him in the right can scarce be wrong"—
Opinio, an opinion every way,
Multum tenenda cordi, heart should hold!
When the inferiors follow as befits
The lead o' the principal, they change their name,
And, non dicuntur, are no longer called
His mandatories, mandatorii,
But helpmates, sed auxiliatores; since
To that degree does honour' sake lend aid,
Adeo honoris causa est efficax,
That not alone, non solum, does it pour
Itself out, se diffundat, on mere friends,
We bring to do our bidding of this sort,
In mandatorios simplices, but sucks
Along with it in wide and generous whirl,
Sed etiam assassinii qualitate
Qualificatos, people qualified
By the quality of assassination's self,
Dare I make use of such neologism,
Ut utar verbo.

Haste we to conclude.
Of the other points that favour, leave some few
For Spreti; such as the delinquents' youth.
One of them falls short, by some months, of age
Fit to be managed by the gallows; two
May plead exemption from our law's award,
Being foreigners, subjects of the Granduke—
I spare that bone to Spreti, and reserve
Myself the juicier breast of argument—
Flinging the breast-blade i' the face o' the Fisc,
Who furnished me the tid-bit: he must needs
Play off his privilege and rack the clowns,—
And they, at instance of the rack, confess
All four unanimously made resolve,—
The night o' the murder, in brief minute snatched
Behind the back of Guido as he fled,—
That, since he had not kept his promise, paid
The money for the murder on the spot,
So, reaching home again, might please ignore
The pact or pay them in improper coin,—
They one and all resolved, these hopeful friends,
'T were best inaugurate the morrow's light,
Nature recruited with her due repose,
By killing Guido as he lay asleep
Pillowed on wallet which contained their fee.

I thank the Fisc for knowledge of this fact:
What fact could hope to make more manifest
Their rectitude, Guido's integrity?
For who fails recognize the touching truth
That these poor rustics bore no envy, hate,
Malice nor yet uncharitableness
Against the people they had put to death?
In them, did such an act reward itself?
All done was to deserve the simple pay,
Obtain the bread clowns earn by sweat of brow,
And missing which, they missed of everything—
Hence claimed pay, even at expense of life
To their own lord, so little warped (admire!)
By prepossession, such the absolute
Instinct of equity in rustic souls!
Whereas our Count, the cultivated mind,
He, wholly rapt in his serene regard
Of honour, he contemplating the sun
Who hardly marks if taper blink below,—
He, dreaming of no argument for death
Except a vengeance worthy noble hearts,—
Dared not so desecrate the deed, forsooth,
Vulgarize vengeance, as defray its cost
By money dug from out the dirty earth,
Irritant mere, in Ovid's phrase, to ill.
What though he lured base hinds by lucre's hope,—
The only motive they could masticate,
Milk for babes, not strong meat which men require?
The deed done, those coarse hands were soiled enough,
He spared them the pollution of the pay.
So much for the allegement, thine, my Fisc,
Quo nil absurdius, than which nought more mad,
Excogitari potest, may be squeezed
From out the cogitative brain of thee!
And now, thou excellent the Governor!
(Push to the peroration) coeterum
Enixe supplico, I strive in prayer,
Ut dominis meis, that unto the Court,
Benigna fronte, with a gracious brow,
Et oculis serenis, and mild eyes,
Perpendere placeat, it may please them weigh,
Quod dominus Guido, that our noble Count,
Occidit, did the killing in dispute,
Ut ejus honor tumulatus, that
The honour of him buried fathom-deep
In infamy, in infamia, might arise,
Resurgeret, as ghost breaks sepulchre!
Occidit, for he killed, uxorem, wife,
Quia illi fuit, since she was to him,
Opprobrio, a disgrace and nothing more!
Et genitores, killed her parents too,
Qui, who, postposita verecundia,
Having thrown off all sort of decency,
Filiam repudiarunt, had renounced
Their daughter, atque declarare non
Erubuerunt, nor felt blush tinge cheek,
Declaring, meretricis genitam
Esse, she was the offspring of a drab,
Ut ipse dehonestaretur, just
That so himself might lose his social rank!
Cujus mentem, and which daughter's heart and soul,
They, perverterunt, turned from the right course,
Et ad illicitos amores non
Dumtaxat pellexerunt, and to love
Not simply did alluringly incite,
Sed vi obedientioe, but by force
O' the duty, filialis, daughters owe,
Coegerunt, forced and drove her to the deed:
Occidit, I repeat he killed the clan,
Ne scilicet amplius in dedecore,
Lest peradventure longer life might trail,
Viveret, link by link his turpitude,
Invisus consanguineis, hateful so
To kith and kindred, a nobilibus
Notatus, shunned by men of quality,
Relictus ab amicis, left i' the lurch
By friends, ab omnibus derisus, turned
A common hack-block to try edge of jokes.
Occidit, and he killed them here in Rome,
In Urbe, the Eternal City, Sirs,
Nempe quoe alias spectata est,
The appropriate theatre which witnessed once,
Matronam nobilem, Lucretia's self,
Abluere pudicitioe maculas,
Wash off the spots of her pudicity,
Sanguine proprio, with her own pure blood;
Quoe vidit, and which city also saw,
Patrem, Virginius, undequaque, quite,
Impunem, with no sort of punishment,
Nor, et non illaudatum, lacking praise,
Sed polluentem parricidio,
Imbrue his hands with butchery, filioe,
Of chaste Virginia, to avoid a rape,
Ne raperetur ad stupra; so to heart,
Tanti illi cordi fuit, did he take,
Suspicio, the mere fancy men might have,
Honoris amittendi, of fame's loss,
Ut potius voluerit filia
Orbari, he preferred to lose his child,
Quam illa incederet, rather than she walk
The ways an, inhonesta, child disgraced,
Licet non sponte, though against her will.
Occidit—killed them, I reiterate—
In propria domo, in their own abode,
Ut adultera et parentes, that each wretch,
Conscii agnoscerent, might both see and say,
Nullum locum, there's no place, nullumque esse
Asylum, nor yet refuge of escape,
Impenetrabilem, shall serve as bar,
Honori loeso, to the wounded one
In honour; neve ibi opprobria
Continuarentur, killed them on the spot,
Moreover, dreading lest within those walls
The opprobrium peradventure be prolonged,
Et domus quoe testis fuit turpium,
And that the domicile which witnessed crime,
Esset et poenoe, might watch punishment:
Occidit, killed, I round you in the ears,
Quia alio modo, since by other mode,
Non poterat ejus existimatio,
There was no possibility his fame,
Loesa, gashed griesly, tam enormiter,
Ducere cicatrices, might be healed:
Occidit ut exemplum proeberet
Uxoribus, killed her, so to lesson wives
Jura conjugii, that the marriage-oath,
Esse servanda, must be kept henceforth:
Occidit denique, killed her, in a word,
Ut pro posse honestus viveret,
That he, please God, might creditably live,
Sin minus, but if fate willed otherwise,
Proprii honoris, of his outraged fame,
Offensi, by Mannaia, if you please,
Commiseranda victima caderet,
The pitiable victim he should fall!

Done! I' the rough, i' the rough! But done! And, lo,
Landed and stranded lies my very speech,
My miracle, my monster of defence—
Leviathan into the nose whereof
I have put fish-hook, pierced his jaw with thorn,
And given him to my maidens for a play!
I' the rough: to-morrow I review my piece,
Tame here and there undue floridity.
It's hard: you have to plead before these priests
And poke at them with Scripture, or you pass
For heathen and, what's worse, for ignorant
O' the quality o' the Court and what it likes
By way of illustration of the law.
To-morrow stick in this, and throw out that,
And, having first ecclesiasticized,
Regularize the whole, next emphasize,
Then latinize, and lastly Cicero-ize,
Giving my Fisc his finish. There's my speech!
And where's my fry, and family and friends?
Where's that huge Hyacinth I mean to hug
Till he cries out, "Jam satis! Let me breathe!"
Now, what an evening have I earned to-day!
Hail, ye true pleasures, all the rest are false!
Oh the old mother, oh the fattish wife!
Rogue Hyacinth shall put on paper toque,
And wrap himself around with mamma's veil
Done up to imitate papa's black robe,
(I'm in the secret of the comedy,—
Part of the program leaked out long ago!)
And call himself the Advocate o' the Poor,
Mimic Don father that defends the Count:
And for reward shall have a small full glass
Of manly red rosolio to himself,
—Always provided that he conjugate
Bibo, I drink, correctly—nor be found
Make the perfectum, bipsi, as last year!
How the ambitious do so harden heart
As lightly hold by these home-sanctitudes,
To me is matter of bewilderment—
Bewilderment! Because ambition's range
Is nowise tethered by domestic tie.
Am I refused an outlet from my home
To the world's stage?—whereon a man should play
The man in public, vigilant for law,
Zealous for truth, a credit to his kind,
Nay,—since, employing talent so, I yield
The Lord His own again with usury,—
A satisfaction, yea, to God Himself!
Well, I have modelled me by Agur's wish,
"Remove far from me vanity and lies,
"Feed me with food convenient for me!" What
I' the world should a wise man require beyond?
Can I but coax the good fat little wife
To tell her fool of a father the mad prank
His scrapegrace nephew played this time last year
At Carnival! He could not choose, I think,
But modify that inconsiderate gift
O' the cup and cover (somewhere in the will
Under the pillow, someone seems to guess)
—Correct that clause in favour of a boy
The trifle ought to grace, with name engraved,
Would look so well, produced in future years
To pledge a memory, when poor papa
Latin and law are long since laid at rest—
Hyacintho dono dedit avus! Why,
The wife should get a necklace for her pains,
The very pearls that made Violante proud,
And Pietro pawned for half their value once,—
Redeemable by somebody, ne sit
Marita quoe rotundioribus
Onusta mammis … baccis ambulet:
Her bosom shall display the big round balls,
No braver proudly borne by wedded wife!
With which Horatian promise I conclude.

Into the pigeon-hole with thee, my speech!
Off and away, first work then play, play, play!
Bottini, burn thy books, thou blazing ass!
Sing "Tra-la-la, for, lambkins, we must live!"

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La Fontaine

The Magic Cup

THE worst of ills, with jealousy compared,
Are trifling torments ev'ry where declared.

IMAGINE, to yourself a silly fool,
To dark suspicion grown an easy tool;
No soft repose he finds, by night or day;
But rings his ear, he's wretched ev'ry way!
Continually he dreams his forehead sprouts;
The truth of reveries he never doubts.
But this I would not fully guaranty,
For he who dreams, 'tis said, asleep should be;
And those who've caught, from time to time, a peep,
Pretend to say--the jealous never sleep.

A MAN who has suspicions soon will rouse;
But buz a fly around his precious spouse,
At once he fancies cuckoldom is brought,
And nothing can eradicate the thought;
In spite of reason he must have a place,
And numbered be, among the horned race;
A cuckold to himself he freely owns,
Though otherwise perhaps in flesh and bones.

GOOD folks, of cuckoldom, pray what's the harm,
To give, from time to time, such dire alarm?
What injury 's received, and what 's the wrong,
At which so many sneer and loll their tongue?
While unacquainted with the fact, 'tis naught;
If known:--e'en then 'tis scarcely worth a thought.
You think, however, 'tis a serious grief;
Then try to doubt it, which may bring relief,
And don't resemble him who took a sup,
From out the celebrated magic cup.
Be warned by others' ills; the tale I'll tell;
Perhaps your irksomeness it may dispel.

BUT first, by reason let me prove, I pray,
That evil such as this, and which you say,
Oft weighs you down with soul-corroding care;
Is only in the mind:--mere spright of air:
Your hat upon your head for instance place,
Less gently rather than's your usual case;
Pray, don't it presently at ease remain?
And from it do you aught amiss retain?
Not e'en a spot; there's nothing half so clear;
The features, too, they as before appear?
No difference assuredly you see?
Then how can cuckoldom an evil be?
Such my conclusion, spite of fools or brutes,
With whose ideas reason never suits.

YES, yes, but honour has, you know, a claim:
Who e'er denied it?--never 'twas my aim.
But what of honour?--nothing else is heard;
At Rome a different conduct is preferred;
The cuckold there, who takes the thing to heart,
Is thought a fool, and acts a blockhead's part;
While he, who laughs, is always well received
And honest fellow through the town believed.
Were this misfortune viewed with proper eyes,
Such ills from cuckoldom would ne'er arise.

THAT advantageous 'tis, we now will prove:
Folks laugh; your wife a pliant glove shall move;
But, if you've twenty favourites around,
A single syllable will ne'er resound.
Whene'er you speak, each word has double force;
At table, you've precedency of course,
And oft will get the very nicest parts;
Well pleased who serves you!--all the household smarts
No means neglect your favour to obtain;
You've full command; resistance would be vain.
Whence this conclusion must directly spring:
To be a cuckold is a useful thing.

AT cards, should adverse fortune you pursue;
To take revenge is ever thought your due;
And your opponent often will revoke,
That you for better luck may have a cloak:
If you've a friend o'er head and ears in debt:
At once, to help him numbers you can get.
You fancy these your rind regales and cheers
She's better for it; more beautiful appears;
The Spartan king, in Helen found new charms,
When he'd recovered her from Paris' arms.

YOUR wife the same; to make her, in your eye,
More beautiful 's the aim you may rely;
For, if unkind, she would a hag be thought,
Incapable soft love scenes to be taught.
These reasons make me to my thesis cling,--
To be a cuckold is a useful thing.

IF much too long this introduction seem,
The obvious cause is clearly in the theme,
And should not certainly be hurried o'er,
But now for something from th' historick store.

A CERTAIN man, no matter for his name,
His country, rank, nor residence nor fame,
Through fear of accidents had firmly sworn,
The marriage chain should ne'er by him be worn;
No tie but friendship, from the sex he'd crave:
If wrong or right, the question we will wave.
Be this as 't will, since Hymen could not find
Our wight to bear the wedded knot inclined,
The god of love, to manage for him tried,
And what he wished, from time to time supplied;
A lively fair he got, who charms displayed,
And made him father to a little maid;
Then died, and left the spark dissolved in tears:
Not such as flow for wives, (as oft appears)
When mourning 's nothing more than change of dress:
His anguish spoke the soul in great distress.

THE daughter grew in years, improved in mien,
And soon the woman in her air was seen;
Time rolls apace, and once she's ridded of her bib,
Then alters daily, and her tongue gets glib,
Each year still taller, till she's found at length;
A perfect belle in look, in age, in strength.
His forward child, the father justly feared,
Would cheat the priest of fees so much revered;
The lawyer too, and god of marriage-joys;
Sad fault, that future prospects oft destroys:
To trust her virtue was not quite so sure;
He chose a convent, to be more secure,
Where this young charmer learned to pray and sew;
No wicked books, unfit for girls to know,
Corruption's page the senses to beguile
Dan Cupid never writes in convent style:

OF nothing would she talk but holy-writ;
On which she could herself so well acquit,
That oft the gravest teachers were confused;
To praise her beauty, scarcely was excused;
No flatt'ry pleasure gave, and she'd reply:
Good sister stay!--consider, we must die;
Each feature perishes:--'tis naught but clay;
And soon will worms upon our bodies prey:
Superior needle-work our fair could do;
The spindle turn at ease:--embroider too;
Minerva's skill, or Clotho's, could impart;
In tapestry she'd gained Arachne's art;
And other talents, too, the daughter showed;
Her sense, wealth, beauty, soon were spread abroad:
But most her wealth a marked attention drew;
The belle had been immured with prudent view,
To keep her safely till a spouse was found,
Who with sufficient riches should abound.
From convents, heiresses are often led
Directly to the altar to be wed.

SOME time the father had the girl declared
His lawful child, who all his fondness shared.
As soon as she was free from convent walls,
Her taste at once was changed from books to balls;
Around Calista (such was named our fair)
A host of lovers showed attentive care;
Cits, courtiers, officers, the beau, the sage,
Adventurers of ev'ry rank and age.

FROM these Calista presently made choice,
Of one for whom her father gave his voice;
A handsome lad, and thought good humoured too
Few otherwise appear when first they woo.
Her fortune ample was; the dow'r the same;
The belle an only child; the like her flame.
But better still, our couple's chief delight,
Was mutual love and pleasure to excite.

TWO years in paradise thus passed the pair,
When bliss was changed to Hell's worst cank'ring care;
A fit of jealousy the husband grieved,
And, strange to tell, he all at once believed,
A lover with success his wife addressed,
When, but for him, the suit had ne'er been pressed;
For though the spark, the charming fair to gain,
Would ev'ry wily method try, 'twas plain,
Yet had the husband never terrors shown,
The lover, in despair, had quickly flown.

WHAT should a husband do whose wife is sought,
With anxious fondness by another? Naught.
'Tis this that leads me ever to advise,
To sleep at ease whichever side he lies.
In case she lends the spark a willing ear,
'Twill not be better if you interfere:
She'll seek more opportunities you'll find;
But if to pay attention she's inclined,
You'll raise the inclination in her brain,
And then the danger will begin again.

WHERE'ER suspicion dwells you may be sure,
To cuckoldom 'twill prove a place secure.
But Damon (such the husband's name), 'tis clear,
Thought otherwise, as we shall make appear.
He merits pity, and should be excused,
Since he, by bad advice, was much abused;
When had he trusted to himself to guide,
He'd acted wisely,'--hear and you'll decide.

THE Enchantress Neria flourished in those days;
E'en Circe, she excelled in Satan's ways;
The storms she made obedient to her will,
And regulated with superior skill;
In chains the destinies she kept around;
The gentle zephyrs were her sages found;
The winds, her lacqueys, flew with rapid course;
Alert, but obstinate, with pow'rful force.

WITH all her art th' enchantress could not find,
A charm to guard her 'gainst the urchin blind;
Though she'd the pow'r to stop the star of day,
She burned to gain a being formed of clay.
If merely a salute her wish had been,
She might have had it, easily was seen;
But bliss unbounded clearly was her view,
And this with anxious ardour she'd pursue.
Though charms she had, still Damon would remain,
To her who had his heart a faithful swain:
In vain she sought the genial soft caress:
To Neria naught but friendship he'd express.
Like Damon, husbands nowhere now are found,
And I'm not certain, such were e'er on ground.
I rather fancy, hist'ry is not here,
What we would wish, since truth it don't revere,
I nothing in the hippogriff perceive,
Or lance enchanted, but we may believe;
Yet this I must confess has raised surprise,
Howe'er, to pass it will perhaps suffice;
I've many passed the same,--in ancient days;
Men different were from us: had other ways;
Unlike the present manners, we'll suppose;
Or history would other facts disclose.

THE am'rous Neria to obtain her end,
Made use of philters, and would e'en descend;
To ev'ry wily look and secret art,
That could to him she loved her flame impart.
Our swain his marriage vow to this opposed;
At which th' enchantress much surprise disclosed.
You doubtless fancy, she exclaimed one day,
That your fidelity must worth display;
But I should like to know if equal care,
Calista takes to act upon the square.
Suppose your wife had got a smart gallant,
Would you refuse as much a fair to grant?
And if Calista, careless of your fame,
Should carry to extremes a guilty flame,
Would you but half way go? I truly thought,
By sturdy hymen thus you'd not be caught.
Domestick joys should be to cits confined;
For none but such were scenes like those designed.

BUT as to you:--decline Love's choice pursuit!
No anxious wish to taste forbidden fruit?
Though such you banish from your thoughts I see,
A friend thereto I fain would have you be.
Come make the trial: you'll Calista find,
Quite new again when to her arms resigned.
But let me tell you, though your wife be chaste,
Erastus to your mansion oft is traced.

AND do you think, cried Damon with an air,
Erastus visits as a lover there?
Too much he seems, my friend, to act a part,
That proves the villain both in head and heart.

SAID Neria, mortified at this reply,
Though he's a friend on whom you may rely,
Calista beauty has; much worth the man,
With smart address to execute his plan;
And when we meet accomplishments so rare;
Few women but will tumble in the snare.

THIS conversation was by Damon felt,
A wife, brisk, young, and formed 'mid joys to melt;
A man well versed in Cupid's wily way;
No courtier bolder of the present day;
Well made and handsome, with attractive mind;
Wo what might happen was the husband blind?
Whoever trusts implicitly to friends,
Too oft will find, on shadows he depends.
Pray where's the devotee, who could withstand,
The tempting glimpse of charms that all command;
Which first invite by halves: then bolder grow,
Till fascination spreads, and bosoms glow?
Our Damon fancied this already done,
Or, at the best, might be too soon begun:
On these foundations gloomy views arose,
Chimeras dire, destructive of repose.

TH' enchantress presently a hint received,
That those suspicions much the husband grieved;
And better to succeed and make him fret,
She told him of a thing, 'mong witches met,
'Twas metamorphose-water (such the name)
With this could Damon take Erastus' frame;
His gait, his look, his carriage, air and voice
Thus changed, he easily could mark her choice,
Each step observe:--enough, he asked no more,
Erastus' shape the husband quickly bore;
His easy manner, and appearance caught:
With captivating smiles his wife he sought.
And thus addressed the fair with ev'ry grace:--
How blithe that look! enchanting is your face;
Your beauty's always great, I needs must say,
But never more delightful than to-day.

CALISTA saw the flatt'ring lover's scheme;
And turned to ridicule the wily theme.
His manner Damon changed, from gay to grave:
Now sighs, then tears; but nothing could enslave;
The lady, virtue firmly would maintain;
At length, the husband, seeing all was vain,
Proposed a bribe, and offered such a sum,
Her anger dropt: the belle was overcome.
The price was very large, it might excuse,
Though she at first was prompted to refuse;
At last, howe'er her chastity gave way:
To gold's allurements few will offer nay!
The cash, resistance had so fully laid,
Surrender would at any time be made.
The precious ore has universal charms,
Enchains the will, or sets the world in arms!

THOUGH elegant your form, and smart your dress,
Your air, your language, ev'ry warmth express
Yet, if a banker, or a financier,
With handsome presents happen to appear,
At once is blessed the wealthy paramour,
While you a year may languish at the door.

THIS heart, inflexible, it seems, gave ground,
To money's pow'rful, all-subduing sound;
The rock now disappeared--and, in its stead,
A lamb was found, quite easy to be led,
Who, as a proof, resistance she would wave,
A kiss, by way of earnest freely gave.
No further would the husband push the dame,
Nor be himself a witness of his shame,
But straight resumed his form, and to his wife,
Cried, O Calista! once my soul and life
Calista, whom I fondly cherished long;
Calista, whose affection was so strong;
Is gold more dear than hearts in union twined?
To wash thy guilt, thy blood should be assigned.
But still I love thee, spite of evil thought;
My death will pay the ills thou'st on me brought.

THE metamorphosis our dame surprised;
To give relief her tears but just sufficed;
She scarcely spoke; the husband, days remained,
Reflecting on the circumstance that pained.
Himself a cuckold could he ever make,
By mere design a liberty to take?
But, horned or not? the question seemed to be,
When Neria told him, if from doubts not free,
Drink from the cup:--with so much art 'tis made,
That, whose'er of cuckoldom 's afraid,
Let him but put it to his eager lips
If he's a cuckold, out the liquor slips;
He naught can swallow; and the whole is thrown
About his face or clothes, as oft 's been shown.
But should, from out his brow, no horns yet pop--
He drinks the whole, nor spills a single drop.

THE doubt to solve, our husband took a sup,
From this famed, formidably, magic cup;
Nor did he any of the liquor waste:--
Well, I am safe, said he, my wife is chaste,
Though on myself it wholly could depend;
But from it what have I to apprehend?
Make room, good folks, who leafless branches wear;
If you desire those honours I should share.
Thus Damon spoke, and to his precious wife
A curious sermon preached, it seems, on life.

IF cuckoldom, my friends, such torments give;
'Tis better far 'mong savages to live!

LEST worse should happen, Damon settled spies,
Who, o'er his lady watched with Argus' eyes.
She turned coquette; restraints the FAIR awake,
And only prompt more liberties to take.
The silly husband secrets tried to know,
And rather seemed to seek the wily foe,
Which fear has often rendered fatal round,
When otherwise the ill had ne'er been found.

FOUR times an hour his lips to sip he placed;
And clearly, for a week was not disgraced.
Howe'er, no further went his ease of mind;
Oh, fatal science! fatally designed!
With fury Damon threw the cup away,
And, in his rage, himself inclined to slay.

HIS wife he straight shut up within a tower,
Where, morn and night, he showed a husband's pow'r,
Reproach bestowed: while she bewailed her lot,
'Twere better far, if he'd concealed the blot;
For now, from mouth to mouth, and ear to ear,
It echoed, and re-echoed far and near.

MEANWHILE Calista led a wretched life;
No gold nor jewels Damon left his wife,
Which made the jailer faithful, since 'twere vain
To hope, unbribed, this Cerberus to gain.

AT length, the wife a lucky moment sought,
When Damon seemed by soft caresses caught.
Said she, I've guilty been, I freely own;
But though my crime is great, I'm not alone;
Alas! how few escape from like mishap;
'Mong Hymen's band so common is the trap;
And though at you the immaculate may smile,
What use to fret and all the sex revile?

WELL I'll console myself, and pardon you,
Cried Damon, when sufficient I can view,
Of ornamented foreheads, just like mine,
To form among themselves a royal line;
'Tis only to employ the magic cup,
From which I learned your secrets by a sup.

HIS plan to execute, the husband went,
And ev'ry passenger was thither sent,
Where Damon entertained, with sumptuous fare;
And, at the end, proposed the magic snare:
Said he, my wife played truant to my bed;
Wish you to know if your's be e'er misled?
'Tis right how things go on at home to trace,
And if upon the cup your lips you place,
In case your wife be chaste, there'll naught go wrong;
But, if to Vulcan's troop you should belong,
And prove an antlered brother, you will spill
The liquor ev'ry way, in spite of skill.

TO all the men, that Damon could collect,
The cup he offered, and they tried th' effect;
But few escaped, at which they laughed or cried,
As feelings led, or cuckoldom they spied,
Whose surly countenance the wags believed,
In many houses near, might be perceived.

ALREADY Damon had sufficient found,
To form a regiment and march around;
At times they threatened governors to hang,
Unless they would surrender to their gang;
But few they wanted to complete the force,
And soon a royal army made of course.
From day to day their numbers would augment,
Without the beat of drum, to great extent;
Their rank was always fixed by length of horn:
Foot soldiers those, whose branches short were borne;
Dragoons, lieutenants, captains, some became,
And even colonels, those of greater fame.
The portion spilled by each from out the vase
Was taken for the length, and fixed the place.
A wight, who in an instant spilled the whole,
Was made a gen'ral: not commander sole,
For many followed of the same degree,
And 'twas determined they should equals be.

THE rank and file now nearly found complete,
And full enough an enemy to beat,
Young Reynold, nephew of famed Charlemain,
By chance came by: the spark they tried to gain,
And, after treating him with sumptuous cheer,
At length the magic cup mas made appear;
But no way Reynold could be led to drink:
My wife, cried he, I truly faithful think,
And that's enough; the cup can nothing more;
Should I, who sleep with two eyes, sleep with four?
I feel at ease, thank heav'n, and have no dread,
Then why to seek new cares should I be led?
Perhaps, if I the cup should hold awry,
The liquor out might on a sudden fly;
I'm sometimes awkward, and in case the cup
Should fancy me another, who would sup,
The error, doubtless, might unpleasant be:
To any thing but this I will agree,
To give you pleasure, Damon, so adieu;
Then Reynold from the antlered corps withdrew.

SAID Damon, gentlemen, 'tis pretty clear,
So wise as Reynold, none of us appear;
But let's console ourselves;--'tis very plain,
The same are others:--to repine were vain.

AT length, such numbers on their rolls they bore;
Calista liberty obtained once more,
As promised formerly, and then her charms
Again were taken to her spouse's arms.

LET Reynold's conduct, husbands, be your line;
Who Damon's follows surely will repine.
Perhaps the first should have been made the chief;
Though, doubtless, that is matter of belief.
No mortal can from danger feel secure;
To be exempt from spilling, who is sure?
Nor Roland, Reynold, nor famed Charlemain,
But what had acted wrong to risk the stain.

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A Castaway

Poor little diary, with its simple thoughts,
its good resolves, its "Studied French an hour,"
"Read Modern History," "Trimmed up my grey hat,"
"Darned stockings," "Tatted," "Practised my new song,"
"Went to the daily service," "Took Bess soup,"
"Went out to tea." Poor simple diary!
and did I write it? Was I this good girl,
this budding colourless young rose of home?
did I so live content in such a life,
seeing no larger scope, nor asking it,
than this small constant round -- old clothes to mend,
new clothes to make, then go and say my prayers,
or carry soup, or take a little walk
and pick the ragged-robins in the hedge?
Then for ambition, (was there ever life
that could forego that?) to improve my mind
and know French better and sing harder songs;
for gaiety, to go, in my best white
well washed and starched and freshened with new bows,
and take tea out to meet the clergyman.
No wishes and no cares, almost no hopes,
only the young girl's hazed and golden dreams
that veil the Future from her.

So long since:
and now it seems a jest to talk of me
as if I could be one with her, of me
who am ...... me.

And what is that? My looking-glass
answers it passably; a woman sure,
no fiend, no slimy thing out of the pools,
a woman with a ripe and smiling lip
that has no venom in its touch I think,
with a white brow on which there is no brand;
a woman none dare call not beautiful,
not womanly in every woman's grace.

Aye let me feed upon my beauty thus,
be glad in it like painters when they see
at last the face they dreamed but could not find
look from their canvass on them, triumph in it,
the dearest thing I have. Why, 'tis my all,
let me make much of it: is it not this,
this beauty, my own curse at once and tool
to snare men's souls -- (I know what the good say
of beauty in such creatures) -- is it not this
that makes me feel myself a woman still,
some little pride, some little --

Here's a jest!
what word will fit the sense but modesty?
A wanton I but modest!

Modest, true;
I'm not drunk in the streets, ply not for hire
at infamous corners with my likenesses
of the humbler kind; yes, modesty's my word --
'twould shape my mouth well too, I think I'll try:
"Sir, Mr What-you-will, Lord Who-knows-what,
my present lover or my next to come,
value me at my worth, fill your purse full,
for I am modest; yes, and honour me
as though your schoolgirl sister or your wife
could let her skirts brush mine or talk of me;
for I am modest."

Well, I flout myself:
but yet, but yet --

Fie, poor fantastic fool,
why do I play the hypocrite alone,
who am no hypocrite with others by?
where should be my "But yet"? I am that thing
called half a dozen dainty names, and none
dainty enough to serve the turn and hide
the one coarse English worst that lurks beneath:
just that, no worse, no better.

And, for me,
I say let no one be above her trade;
I own my kindredship with any drab
who sells herself as I, although she crouch
in fetid garrets and I have a home
all velvet and marqueterie and pastilles,
although she hide her skeleton in rags
and I set fashions and wear cobweb lace:
the difference lies but in my choicer ware,
that I sell beauty and she ugliness;
our traffic's one -- I'm no sweet slaver-tongue
to gloze upon it and explain myself
a sort of fractious angel misconceived --
our traffic's one: I own it. And what then?
I know of worse that are called honourable.
Our lawyers, who, with noble eloquence
and virtuous outbursts, lie to hang a man,
or lie to save him, which way goes the fee:
our preachers, gloating on your future hell
for not believing what they doubt themselves:
our doctors, who sort poisons out by chance,
and wonder how they'll answer, and grow rich:
our journalists, whose business is to fib
and juggle truths and falsehoods to and fro:
our tradesmen, who must keep unspotted names
and cheat the least like stealing that they can:
our -- all of them, the virtuous worthy men
who feed on the world's follies, vices, wants,
and do their businesses of lies and shams
honestly, reputably, while the world
claps hands and cries "good luck," which of their trades,
their honourable trades, barefaced like mine,
all secrets brazened out, would shew more white?

And whom do I hurt more than they? as much?
The wives? Poor fools, what do I take from them
worth crying for or keeping? If they knew
what their fine husbands look like seen by eyes
that may perceive there are more men than one!
But, if they can, let them just take the pains
to keep them: 'tis not such a mighty task
to pin an idiot to your apron-string;
and wives have an advantage over us,
(the good and blind ones have), the smile or pout
leaves them no secret nausea at odd times.
Oh they could keep their husbands if they cared,
but 'tis an easier life to let them go,
and whimper at it for morality.

Oh! those shrill carping virtues, safely housed
from reach of even a smile that should put red
on a decorous cheek, who rail at us
with such a spiteful scorn and rancourousness,
(which maybe is half envy at the heart),
and boast themselves so measurelessly good
and us so measurelessly unlike them,
what is their wondrous merit that they stay
in comfortable homes whence not a soul
has ever thought of tempting them, and wear
no kisses but a husband's upon lips
there is no other man desires to kiss --
refrain in fact from sin impossible?
How dare they hate us so? what have they done,
what borne, to prove them other than we are?
What right have they to scorn us -- glass-case saints,
Dianas under lock and key -- what right
more than the well-fed helpless barn-door fowl
to scorn the larcenous wild-birds?

Pshaw, let be!
Scorn or no scorn, what matter for their scorn?
I have outfaced my own -- that's harder work.
Aye let their virtuous malice dribble on --
mock snowstorms on the stage -- I'm proof long since:
I have looked coolly on my what and why,
and I accept myself.

Oh I'll endorse
the shamefullest revilings mouthed at me,
cry "True! Oh perfect picture! Yes, that's I!"
and add a telling blackness here and there,
and then dare swear you, every nine of ten,
my judges and accusers, I'd not change
my conscience against yours, you who tread out
your devil's pilgrimage along the roads
that take in church and chapel, and arrange
a roundabout and decent way to hell.

Well, mine's a short way and a merry one:
so says my pious hash of ohs and ahs,
choice texts and choicer threats, appropriate names,
(Rahabs and Jezebels), some fierce Tartuffe
hurled at me through the post. We had rare fun
over that tract digested with champagne.
Where is it? where's my rich repertory
of insults biblical? 'I prey on souls' --
only my men have oftenest none I think:
'I snare the simple ones' -- but in these days
there seem to be none simple and none snared,
and most men have their favourite sinnings planned
to do them civilly and sensibly:
'I braid my hair' -- but braids are out of date:
'I paint my cheeks' -- I always wear them pale:
'I -- '

Pshaw! the trash is savourless to-day:
one cannot laugh alone. There, let it burn.
What, does the windy dullard think one needs
his wisdom dove-tailed on to Solomon's,
his threats out-threatening God's, to teach the news
that those who need not sin have safer souls?
We know it, but we've bodies to save too;
and so we earn our living.

Well lit, tract!
at least you've made me a good leaping blaze.
Up, up, how the flame shoots! and now 'tis dead.
Oh proper finish, preaching to the last --
no such bad omen either; sudden end,
and no sad withering horrible old age.
How one would clutch at youth to hold it tight!
and then to know it gone, to see it gone,
be taught its absence by harsh, careless looks,
to live forgotten, solitary, old --
the cruellest word that ever woman learns.
Old -- that's to be nothing, or to be at best
a blurred memorial that in better days
there was a woman once with such a name.
No, no, I could not bear it: death itself
shews kinder promise ...... even death itself,
since it must come one day --

Oh this grey gloom!
This rain, rain, rain, what wretched thoughts it brings!
Death: I'll not think of it.

Will no one come?
'Tis dreary work alone.

Why did I read
that silly diary? Now, sing song, ding dong,
come the old vexing echoes back again,
church bells and nursery good-books, back again
upon my shrinking ears that had forgotten --
I hate the useless memories: 'tis fools' work
singing the hacknied dirge of 'better days:'
best take Now kindly, give the past good-bye,
whether it were a better or a worse.

Yes, yes, I listened to the echoes once,
the echoes and the thoughts from the old days.
The worse for me: I lost my richest friend,
and that was all the difference. For the world
would not have that flight known. How they'd roar:
"What! Eulalie, when she refused us all,
'ill' and 'away,' was doing Magdalene,
tears, ashes, and her Bible, and then off
hide her in a Refuge ... for a week!"

A wild whim that, to fancy I could change
my new self for my old, because I wished!
since then, when in my languid days there comes
that craving, like homesickness, to go back
to the good days, the dear old stupid days,
to the quiet and the innocence, I know
'tis a sick fancy and try palliatives.

What is it? You go back to the old home,
and 'tis not your home, has no place for you,
and, if it had, you could not fit you in it.
And could I fit me to my former self?
If I had had the wit, like some of us,
to sow my wild-oats into three per cents,
could I not find me shelter in the peace
of some far nook where none of them would come,
nor whisper travel from this scurrilous world,
that gloats and moralizes through its leers,
to blast me with my fashionable shame?
There I might -- oh my castle in the clouds!
and where's its rent? -- but there, were there a there,
I might again live the grave blameless life
among such simple pleasures, simple cares:
but could they be my pleasures, be my cares?
The blameless life, but never the content --
never. How could I henceforth be content
in any life but one that sets the brain
in a hot merry fever with its stir?
what would there be in quiet rustic days,
each like the other, full of time to think,
to keep one bold enough to live at all?
Quiet is hell, I say -- as if a woman
could bear to sit alone, quiet all day,
and loathe herself, and sicken on her thoughts.

They tried it at the Refuge, and I failed:
I could not bear it. Dreary hideous room,
coarse pittance, prison rules, one might bear these
and keep one's purpose; but so much alone,
and then made faint and weak and fanciful
by change from pampering to half-famishing --
good God, what thoughts come! Only one week more
and 'twould have ended: but in one day more
I must have killed myself. And I loathe death,
the dreadful foul corruption, with who knows
what future after it.

Well, I came back,
Back to my slough. Who says I had my choice?
Could I stay there to die of some mad death?
and if I rambled out into the world,
sinless but penniless, what else were that
but slower death, slow pining shivering death
by misery and hunger? Choice! what choice
of living well or ill? could I have that?
and who would give it me? I think indeed
some kind hand, a woman's -- I hate men --
had stretched itself to help me to firm ground,
taken a chance and risked my falling back,
could have gone my way not falling back:
but, let her be all brave, all charitable,
how could she do it? Such a trifling boon,
little work to live by, 'tis not much,
and I might have found will enough to last:
but where's the work? More sempstresses than shirts;
and defter hands at white work than are mine
drop starved at last: dressmakers, milliners,
too many too they say; and then their trades
need skill, apprenticeship. And who so bold
as hire me for their humblest drudgery?
not even for scullery slut; not even, I think,
for governess, although they'd get me cheap.
And after all it would be something hard,
with the marts for decent women overfull,
if I could elbow in and snatch a chance
and oust some good girl so, who then perforce
must come and snatch her chance among our crowd.

Why, if the worthy men who think all's done
if we'll but come where we can hear them preach,
could bring us all, or any half of us,
into their fold, teach all us wandering sheep,
or only half of us, to stand in rows
and baa them hymns and moral songs, good lack,
what would they do with us? what could they do?
Just think! with were't but half of us on hand
to find work for ... or husbands. Would they try
to ship us to the colonies for wives?

Well, well; I know the wise ones talk and talk:
"Here's cause, here's cure:" "No, here it is and here:"
and find society to blame, or law,
the Church, the men, the women, too few schools,
too many schools, too much, too little taught:
somewhere or somehow someone is to blame:
but I say all the fault's with God himself
who puts too many women in the world.
We ought to die off reasonably and leave
as many as the men want, none to waste.
Here's cause; the woman's superfluity:
and for the cure, why, if it were the law,
say, every year, in due percentages,
balancing them with men as the times need,
to kill off female infants, 'twould make room;
and some of us would not have lost too much,
losing life ere we know what it can mean.

The other day I saw a woman weep
beside her dead child's bed: the little thing
lay smiling, and the mother wailed half mad,
shrieking to God to give it back again.
I could have laughed aloud: the little girl
living had but her mother's life to live;
there she lay smiling, and her mother wept
to know her gone!

My mother would have wept.

Oh mother, mother, did you ever dream,
you good grave simple mother, you pure soul
no evil could come nigh, did you once dream
in all your dying cares for your lone girl
left to fight out her fortune all alone
that there would be this danger? -- for your girl,
taught by you, lapped in a sweet ignorance,
scarcely more wise of what things sin could be
than some young child a summer six months old
where in the north the summer makes a day,
of what is darkness ... darkness that will come
to-morrow suddenly. Thank God at least
for this much of my life, that when you died,
that when you kissed me dying, not a thought
of this made sorrow for you, that I too
was pure of even fear.

Oh yes, I thought,
still new in my insipid treadmill life,
(my father so late dead), and hopeful still
here might be something pleasant somewhere in it,
some sudden fairy come, no doubt, to turn
any pumpkin to a chariot, I thought then
that I might plod, and plod, and drum the sounds
of useless facts into unwilling ears,
tease children with dull questions half the day,
then con dull answers in my room at night
ready for next day's questions, mend quill pens
and cut my fingers, add up sums done wrong
and never get them right; teach, teach, and teach --
what I half knew, or not at all -- teach, teach
for years, a lifetime -- I!

And yet, who knows?
it might have been, for I was patient once,
and willing, and meant well; it might have been
had I but still clung on in my first place --
a safe dull place, where mostly there were smiles
but never merry-makings; where all days
jogged on sedately busy, with no haste;
where all seemed measured out, but margins broad:
a dull home but a peaceful, where I felt
my pupils would be dear young sisters soon,
and felt their mother take me to her heart,
motherly to all lonely harmless things.
But I must have a conscience, must blurt out
my great discovery of my ignorance!
And who required it of me? And who gained?
What did it matter for a more or less
the girls learnt in their schoolbooks, to forget
in their first season? We did well together:
they loved me and I them: but I went off
to housemaid's pay, six crossgrained brats to teach,
wrangles and jangles, doubts, disgrace ... then this;
and they had a perfection found for them,
who has all ladies' learning in her head
abridged and scheduled, speaks five languages,
knows botany and conchology and globes,
draws, paints, plays, sings, embroiders, teaches all
on a patent method never known to fail:
and now they're finished and, I hear, poor things,
are the worst dancers and worst dressers out.
And where's their profit of those prison years
all gone to make them wise in lesson books?
who wants his wife to know weeds' Latin names?
who ever chose a girl for saying dates?
or asked if she had learned to trace a map?

Well, well, the silly rules this silly world
makes about women! This is one of them.
Why must there be pretence of teaching them
what no one ever cares that they should know,
what, grown out of the schoolroom, they cast off
like the schoolroom pinafore, no better fit
for any use of real grown-up life,
for any use to her who seeks or waits
the husband and the home, for any use,
for any shallowest pretence of use,
to her who has them? Do I not know this,
I like my betters, that a woman's life,
her natural life, her good life, her one life,
is in her husband, God on earth to her,
and what she knows and what she can and is
is only good as it brings good to him?

Oh God, do I not know it? I the thing
of shame and rottenness, the animal
that feed men's lusts and prey on them, I, I,
who should not dare to take the name of wife
on my polluted lips, who in the word
hear but my own reviling, I know that.
I could have lived by that rule, how content:
my pleasure to make him some pleasure, pride
to be as he would have me, duty, care,
to fit all to his taste, rule my small sphere
to his intention; then to lean on him,
be guided, tutored, loved -- no not that word,
that loved which between men and women means
all selfishness, all putrid talk, all lust,
all vanity, all idiocy -- not loved
but cared for. I've been loved myself, I think,
some once or twice since my poor mother died,
but cared for, never: -- that a word for homes,
kind homes, good homes, where simple children come
and ask their mother is this right or wrong,
because they know she's perfect, cannot err;
their father told them so, and he knows all,
being so wise and good and wonderful,
even enough to scold even her at times
and tell her everything she does not know.
Ah the sweet nursery logic!

Fool! thrice fool!
do I hanker after that too? Fancy me
infallible nursery saint, live code of law!
me preaching! teaching innocence to be good!
a mother!

Yet the baby thing that woke
and wailed an hour or two, and then was dead,
was mine, and had he lived ...... why then my name
would have been mother. But 'twas well he died:
I could have been no mother, I, lost then
beyond his saving. Had he come before
and lived, come to me in the doubtful days
when shame and boldness had not grown one sense,
for his sake, with the courage come of him,
I might have struggled back.

But how? But how?
His father would not then have let me go:
his time had not yet come to make an end
of my 'for ever' with a hireling's fee
and civil light dismissal. None but him
to claim a bit of bread of if I went,
child or no child: would he have given it me?
He! no; he had not done with me. No help,
no help, no help. Some ways can be trodden back,
but never our way, we who one wild day
have given goodbye to what in our deep hearts
the lowest woman still holds best in life,
good name -- good name though given by the world
that mouths and garbles with its decent prate,
and wraps it in respectable grave shams,
and patches conscience partly by the rule
of what one's neighbour thinks but something more
by what his eyes are sharp enough to see.
How I could scorn it with its Pharisees,
if it could not scorn me: but yet, but yet --
oh God, if I could look it in the face!

Oh I am wild, am ill, I think, to night:
will no one come and laugh with me? No feast,
no merriment to-night. So long alone!
Will no one come?

At least there's a new dress
to try, and grumble at -- they never fit
to one's ideal. Yes, a new rich dress,
with lace like this too, that's a soothing balm
for any fretting woman, cannot fail,
I've heard men say it ... and they know so well
what's in all women's hearts, especially
women like me.

No help! no help! no help!
How could it be? It was too late long since --
even at the first too late. Whose blame is that?
there are some kindly people in the world,
but what can they do? If one hurls oneself
into a quicksand, what can be the end,
but that one sinks and sinks? Cry out for help?
Ah yes, and, if it came, who is so strong
to strain from the firm ground and lift one out?
And how, so firmly clutching the stretched hand,
as death's pursuing terror bids, even so,
how can one reach firm land, having to foot
the treacherous crumbling soil that slides and gives
and sucks one in again? Impossible path!
No, why waste struggles, I or any one?
what is must be. What then? I, where I am,
sinking and sinking; let the wise pass by
and keep their wisdom for an apter use,
let me sink merrily as I best may.

Only, I think, my brother -- I forgot
he stopped his brotherhood some years ago --
but if he had been just so much less good
as to remember mercy. Did he think
how once I was his sister, prizing him
as sisters do, content to learn for him
the lesson girls with brothers all must learn,
to do without?

I have heard girls lament
that doing so without all things one would,
but I saw never aught to murmur at,
for men must be made ready for their work,
and women all have more or less their chance
of husbands to work for them, keep them safe
like summer roses in soft greenhouse air
that never guess 'tis winter out of doors:
no, I saw never aught to murmur at,
content with stinted fare and shabby clothes
and cloistered silent life to save expense,
teaching myself out of my borrowed books,
while he for some one pastime, (needful true
to keep him of his rank, 'twas not his fault),
spent in a month what could have given me
my teachers for a year.

'Twas no one's fault:
for could he be launched forth on the rude sea
of this contentious world and left to find
oars and the boatman's skill by some good chance?
'Twas no one's fault: yet still he might have thought
of our so different youths, and owned at least
'tis pitiful when a mere nerveless girl,
untutored, must put forth upon that sea,
not in the woman's true place, the wife's place,
to trust a husband and be borne along,
but impotent blind pilot to herself.

Merciless, merciless -- like the prudent world
that will not have the flawed soul prank itself
with a hoped second virtue, will not have
the woman fallen once lift up herself ......
lest she should fall again. Oh how his taunts,
his loathing fierce reproaches, scarred and seared,
like branding iron hissing in a wound!
And it was true -- that killed me: and I felt
a hideous hopeless shame kill out my heart,
and knew myself for ever that he said,
that which I was -- Oh it was true, true, true.

No, not true then. I was not all that then.
Oh, I have drifted on before mad winds
6 and made ignoble shipwreck, not to-day
could any breeze of heaven prosper me
into the track again, nor any hand
snatch me out of the whirlpool I have reached;
but then?

Nay he judged very well: he knew
repentance was too dear a luxury
for a beggar's buying, knew it earns no bread --
and knew me a too base and nerveless thing
to bear my first fault's sequel and just die.
And how could he have helped me? Held my hand,
owned me for his, fronted the angry world
clothed with my ignominy? Or maybe
taken me to his home to damn him worse?
What did I look for? for what less would serve
that he could do, a man without a purse?
He meant me well, he sent me that five pounds,
much to him then; and, if he bade me work
and never vex him more with news of me,
we both knew him too poor for pensioners.
I see he did his best; I could wish now
sending it back I had professed some thanks.

But there! I was too wretched to be meek:
it seemed to me as if he, every one,
the whole great world, were guilty of my guilt,
abettors and avengers: in my heart
I gibed them back their gibings; I was wild.

I see clear now and know one has one's life
in hand at first to spend or spare or give
like any other coin; spend it or give
or drop it in the mire, can the world see
you get your value for it, or bar back
the hurrying of its marts to grope it up
and give it back to you for better use?
And if you spend or give that is your choice;
and if you let it slip that's your choice too,
you should have held it firmer. Yours the blame,
and not another's, not the indifferent world's
which goes on steadily, statistically,
and count by censuses not separate souls --
and if it somehow needs to its worst use
so many lives of women, useless else,
it buys us of ourselves, we could hold back,
free all of us to starve, and some of us,
(those who have done no ill and are in luck),
to slave their lives out and have food and clothes
until they grow unserviceably old.

Oh I blame no one -- scarcely even myself.
It was to be: the very good in me
has always turned to hurt; all I thought right
at the hot moment, judged of afterwards,
shows reckless.

Why, look at it, had I taken
the pay my dead child's father offered me
for having been its mother, I could then
have kept life in me, (many have to do it,
that swarm in the back alleys, on no more,
cold sometimes, mostly hungry, but they live);
I could have gained a respite trying it,
and maybe found at last some humble work
to eke the pittance out. Not I, forsooth,
I must have spirit, must have womanly pride,
must dash back his contemptuous wages, I,
who had not scorned to earn them, dash them back
the fiercer that he dared to count our boy
in my appraising: and yet now I think
I might have taken it for my dead boy's sake;
it would have been his gift.

But I went forth
with my fine scorn, and whither did it lead?
Money's the root of evil do they say?
money is virtue, strength: money to me
would then have been repentance: could I live
upon my idiot's pride?

Well, it fell soon.
I had prayed Edward might believe me dead,
and yet I begged of him -- That's like me too,
beg of him and then send him back his alms!
What if he gave as to a whining wretch
that holds her hand and lies? I am less to him
than such a one; her rags do him no wrong,
but I, I, wrong him merely that I live,
being his sister. Could I not at least
have still let him forget me? But 'tis past:
and naturally he may hope I am long dead.

Good God! to think that we were what we were
one to the other ... and now!

He has done well;
married a sort of heiress, I have heard,
a dapper little madam, dimple cheeked
and dimple brained, who makes him a good wife --
No doubt she'd never own but just to him,
and in a whisper, she can even suspect
that we exist, we other women things:
what would she say if she could learn one day
she has a sister-in-law! So he and I
must stand apart till doomsday.

But the jest,
to think how she would look! -- Her fright, poor thing!
The notion! -- I could laugh outright ...... or else,
for I feel near it, roll on the ground and sob.

Well, after all, there's not much difference
between the two sometimes.

Was that the bell?
Some one at last, thank goodness. There's a voice,
and that's a pleasure. Whose though? Ah I know.
Why did she come alone, the cackling goose?
why not have brought her sister? -- she tells more
and titters less. No matter; half a loaf
is better than no bread.

Oh, is it you?
Most welcome, dear: one gets so moped alone.

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Byron

Beppo, A Venetian Story

I.
'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout
All countries of the Catholic persuasion,
Some weeks before Shrove Tuesday comes about,
The People take their fill of recreation,
And buy repentance, ere they grow devout,
However high their rank, or low their station,
With fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking,
And other things which may be had for asking.

II.
The moment Night with dusky mantle covers
The skies (and the more duskily the better),
The Time--less liked by husbands than by lovers--
Begins, and Prudery flings aside her fetter,
And Gaiety on restless tiptoe hovers,
Giggling with all the Gallants who beset her;
And there are Songs and quavers, roaring, humming,
Guitars, and every other sort of strumming.

III.
And there are dresses, splendid but fantastical,
Masks of all times and nations, Turks and Jews,
And Harlequins and Clowns, with feats gymnastical,
Greeks, Romans, Yankee-doodles, and Hindoos;
All kinds of dress, except the ecclesiastical,
All people, as their fancies hit, may choose,
But no one in these parts may quiz the Clergy,--
Therefore take heed, ye Freethinkers! I charge ye.

IV.
You'd better walk about begirt with briars,
Instead of Coat and smallclothes, than put on
A single stitch reflecting upon Friars,
Although you swore it only was in fun;
They'd haul you o'er the coals, and stir the fires
Of Phlegethon with every mother's son,
Nor say one Mass to cool the Caldron's bubble
That boil'd your bones--unless you paid them double.

V.
But saving this, you may put on whate'er
You like by way of doublet, cape, or cloak,
Such as in Monmouth Street, or in Rag Fair,
Would rig you out in Seriousness or Joke;
And even in Italy such places are
With prettier name in softer accents spoke,
For, bating Covent Garden, I can hit on
No place that's called 'Piazza' in Great Britain.

VI.
This feast is named the Carnival, which being
Interpreted implies 'Farewell to Flesh':
So call'd, because the name and thing agreeing,
Through Lent they live on fish, both salt and fresh.
But why they usher Lent with so much glee in
Is more than I can tell, although I guess
'Tis as we take a glass with friends at parting
In the Stage-Coach or Packet, just at starting.

VII.
And thus they bid farewell to Carnal dishes,
And solid meats, and highly spiced ragouts,
To live for forty days on ill-dress’d fishes,
Because they have no sauces to their stews--
A thing which causes many 'poohs' and 'pishes,'
And several oaths (which would not suit the Muse)
From travellers accustom'd from a boy
To eat their Salmon, at the least, with Soy;

VIII.
And therefore humbly I would recommend
'The Curious in Fish-Sauce,' before they cross
The Sea, to bid their Cook, or wife, or friend,
Walk or ride to the Strand, and buy in gross
(Or if set out beforehand these may send
By any means least liable to loss)
Ketchup, Soy, Chili-Vinegar, and Harvey,
Or, by the Lord! a Lent will well nigh starve ye.

IX.
That is to say, if your Religion's Roman,
And you at Rome would do as Romans do,
According to the proverb,--although No man
If foreign is obliged to fast, and you--
If Protestant, or sickly--or a woman--
Would rather dine in sin on a ragout--
Dine and be d____d! I don't mean to be coarse,
But that's the penalty, to say no worse.

X.
Of all the places where the Carnival
Was most facetious in the days of yore,
For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
And Masque, and Mime, and Mystery, and more
Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
Venice the bell from every city bore,
And at the moment when I fix my story,
That Sea-born City was in all her Glory.

XI.
They've pretty faces yet, those same Venetians,
Black eyes, arch'd brows, and sweet expressions still,
Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
In ancient Arts by Moderns mimick'd ill;
And like so many Venuses of Titian's
(The best's at Florence--see it, if ye will),
They look when leaning over the Balcony;
Or stepp'd from out a picture by Giorgione,--

XII.
Whose tints are Truth and Beauty at their best;
And when you to Manfrini's palace go,
That Picture (howsoever fine the rest)
Is loveliest to my mind of all the show;
It may perhaps be also to your Zest,
And that's the cause I rhyme upon it so:
'Tis but a portrait of his Son and Wife
And Self; but such a Woman! Love in life!

XIII.
Love in full life and length, not Love ideal,
No, nor ideal Beauty, that fine name,
But something better still, so very real,
That the sweet Model must have been the same;
A thing that you would purchase, beg, or steal,
Were't not impossible, besides a shame;
The face recalls some face, as 'twere with pain,
You once have seen, but ne'er will see again.

XIV.
One of those forms which flit by us, when we
Are young, and fix our eyes on every face;
And, oh! the Loveliness at times we see
In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
The Youth, the Bloom, the Beauty which agree
In many a nameless being we retrace,
Whose course and home we knew not, nor shall know,
Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below.

XV.
I said that like a picture by Giorgione
Venetian women were, and so they are,
Particularly seen from a balcony
(For Beauty's sometimes best set off afar)
And there, just like a heroine of Goldoni,
They peep from out the blind, or o'er the bar;
And truth to say they're mostly very pretty,
And rather like to show it, more's the Pity!

XVI.
For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs,
Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter,
Which flies on wings of light-heel'd Mercuries,
Who do such things because they know no better;
And then, God knows! what Mischief may arise,
When Love links two young people in one fetter:
Vile assignations, and adulterous beds,
Elopements, broken vows, and hearts, and heads.

XVII.
Shakespeare described the Sex in Desdemona
As very fair, but yet suspect in fame,
And to this day from Venice to Verona
Such matters may be probably the same,
Except that since those times was never known a
Husband whom mere Suspicion could inflame
To suffocate a wife no more than twenty,
Because she had a 'Cavalier Servente.'

XVIII.
Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous)
Is of a fair complexion altogether,
Not like that sooty devil of Othello's,
Which smothers women in a bed of feather,
But worthier of these much more jolly fellows,
When weary of the matrimonial tether
His head for such a wife no mortal bothers,
But takes at once another, or another's.

XIX.
Didst ever see a Gondola? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly:
'Tis a long cover'd boat that's common here,
Carved at the prow, built lightly, but compactly,
Row'd by two rowers, each call'd 'Gondolier,'
It glides along the water looking blackly,
Just like a Coffin clapt in a Canoe,
Where none can make out what you say or do.

XX.
And up and down the long Canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
They wait in their dusk livery of woe,--
But not to them do woeful things belong,
For sometimes they contain a deal of fun,
Like Mourning Coaches when the funeral’s done.

XXI.
But to my story.--'Twas some years ago,
It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
The Carnival was at its height, and so
Were all kinds of Buffoonery and dress;
A Certain Lady went to see the show,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
And so we'll call her Laura, if you please,
Because it slips into my verse with ease.

XXII.
She was not old, nor young, nor at the years
Which certain people call a 'certain Age,'
Which yet the most uncertain age appears,
Because I never heard, nor could engage
A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
To name, define by speech, or write on page,
The period meant precisely by that word,--
Which surely is exceedingly absurd.

XXIII.
Laura was blooming still, had made the best
Of Time, and Time return'd the compliment,
And treated her genteelly, so that, 'drest,
She look'd extremely well where'er she went;
A pretty woman is a welcome guest,
And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent;
Indeed, she shone all Smiles, and seem'd to flatter
Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her.

XXIV.
She was a married woman; 'tis convenient,
Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
To view their little slips with eyes more lenient;
Whereas if single ladies play the fool
(Unless within the period intervenient
A well-timed wedding makes the scandal cool),
I don't know how they ever can get over it,
Except they manage never to discover it.

XXV.
Her husband sail'd upon the Adriatic,
And made some voyages, too, in other seas,
And when he lay in Quarantine for Pratique
(A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease),
His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease;
He was a Merchant trading to Aleppo,
His name Giuseppe--call'd more briefly, Beppo.

XXVI.
He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,
Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure;
Though colour'd, as it were, within a tan-yard,
He was a person both of sense and vigour--
A better Seaman never yet did man yard;
And She, although her manners show'd no rigour,
Was deem'd a woman of the strictest principle,
So much as to be thought almost invincible.

XXVII.
But several years elapsed since they had met;
Some people thought the ship was lost, and some
That he had somehow blunder'd into debt,
And did not like the thought of steering home;
And there were several offer'd any bet,
Or that he would, or that he would not come,
For Most Men (till by losing render'd sager)
Will back their own opinions with a wager.

XXVIII.
'Tis said that their last parting was pathetic,
As partings often are, or ought to be,
And their presentiment was quite prophetic,
That they should never more each other see,
(A sort of morbid feeling, half poetic,
Which I have known occur in two or three)
When kneeling on the shore upon her sad knee
He left this Adriatic Ariadne.

XXIX.
And Laura waited long, and wept a little,
And thought of wearing weeds, as well she might;
She almost lost all appetite for victual,
And could not sleep with ease along at night;
She deem'd the window-frames and shutters brittle
Against a daring House-breaker or Sprite,
And so She thought it prudent to connect her.
With a Vice-husband, chiefly to protect her.

XXX.
She chose, (and what is there they will not choose,
If only you will but oppose their choice?)
Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,
And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice,
A Man some women like, and yet abuse--
A Coxcomb was he by the public voice;
A Count of wealth, they said, as well as quality,
And (in his pleasures) of great liberality.

XXXI.
And then he was A Count, and then he knew
Music, and dancing, fiddling, French and Tuscan;
The last not easy, be it known to you.
For few Italians speak the right Etruscan.
He was a Critic upon Operas, too,
And knew all niceties of the sock and buskin;
And no Venetian audience could endure a
Song, scene, or air, when he cried 'Seccatura!'

XXXII.
His 'Bravo' was decisive—for that sound
Hush'd 'Academie' sigh'd in silent awe;
The fiddlers trembled as he look'd around,
For fear of some false note's detected flaw;
The 'Prima Donna's' tuneful heart would bound,
Dreading the deep damnation of his 'Bah!'
Soprano, Basso, even the Contra-Alto,
Wish'd him five fathom under the Rialto.

XXXIII.
He patronised the Improvisatori,
Nay, could himself extemporise some stanzas;
Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story,
Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as
Italians can be--though in this their glory
Must surely yield the palm to that which France has;
In short, he was a perfect Cavaliero,
And to his very Valet seem'd a Hero.

XXXIV.
Then he was faithful too, as well as amorous;
So that no sort of female could complain--
Although they're now and then a little clamourous,
He never put the pretty souls in pain;
His heart was one of those which most enamour us,
Wax to receive, and Marble to retain:
He was a lover of the good old School,
Who still become more constant as they cool.

XXXV.
No wonder such accomplishments should turn
A female head, however sage and steady--
With scarce a hope that Beppo could return,
In law he was almost as good as dead, he
Nor sent, nor wrote, nor show'd the least concern,
And she had waited several years already;
And really if a Man won't let us know
That he's alive, he's dead, or should be so.

XXXVI.
Besides, within the Alps, to every woman,
(Although, God knows! it is a grievous sin)
'Tis, I may say, permitted to have two men;
I can't tell who first brought the custom in,
But 'Cavalier Serventes' are quite common,
And no one notices nor cares a pin;
And we may call this (not to say the worst)
A Second Marriage which corrupts the First.

XXXVII.
The word was formerly a 'Cicisbeo,'
But that is now grown vulgar and indecent;
The Spaniards call the person a 'Cortejo,'
For the same Mode subsists in Spain, though recent;
In short, it reaches from the Po to Teio,
And may perhaps at last be o'er the Sea sent;
But Heaven preserve Old England from such courses!
Or what becomes of damage and divorces?

XXXVIII.
However, I still think, with all due deference
To the fair single part of the Creation,
That married ladies should preserve the preference
In tête-à-tête or general conversation--
And this I say without peculiar reference
To England, France, or any other nation--
Because they know the world, and are at ease,
And being natural, naturally please.

XXXIX.
'Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
But shy and awkward at first coming out,
So much alarm'd, that she is quite alarming,
All Giggle, Blush--half Pertness, and half-Pout--
And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in
What you, she, it, or they, may be about;
The nursery still lisps out in all they utter--
Besides, they always smell of Bread and Butter.

XL.
But 'Cavalier Servente' is the phrase
Used in politest circles to express
This supernumary slave, who stays
Close to the lady as a part of dress--
Her word the only law which he obeys.
His is no Sinecure, as you may guess;
Coach, Servants, Gondola, he goes to call,
And carries fan and tippet, gloves and shawl.

XLI.
With all its sinful doings, I must say,
That Italy's a pleasant place to me,
Who love to see the Sun shine every day,
And vines (not nail’d to walls) from tree to tree
Festoon'd, much like the back Scene of a play,
Or Melodrame, which people flock to see
When the first act is ended by a dance
In Vineyards copied from the South of France.

XLII.
I like on Autumn evenings to ride out,
Without being forced to bid my Groom be sure
My Cloak is round his middle strapp'd about,
Because the skies are not the most secure;
I know too that, if stopp'd upon my route
Where the green alleys windingly allure,
Reeling with grapes red waggons choke the way--
In England 'twould be dung, dust, or a dray.

XLIII.
I also like to dine on Becaficas,
To see the Sun set, sure he'll rise tomorrow,
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow,
But with all Heaven t' himself; the Day will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers
Where reeking London's smoky Caldron simmers.

XLIV.
I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,
And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in
That not a single accent seems uncouth--
Like our harsh Northern whistling, grunting guttural,
Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.

XLV.
I like the women too (Forgive my folly!)
From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy bronze,
And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
To the high Dama's brow, more melancholy,
But clear, and with a wild and liquid Glance,
Heart on her lips, and Soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and Sunny as her skies.

XLVI.
Eve of the land which still is Paradise!
Italian Beauty! didst thou not inspire
Raphael, who died in thy embrace, and vies
With all we know of Heaven, or can desire
In what he hath bequeath'd us?--in what guise,
Though flashing from the fervour of the Lyre,
Would Words describe thy past and present Glow,
While yet Canova can create below?

XLVII.
'England! with all thy faults I love thee still!'
I said at Calais, and have not forgot it;
I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;
I like the Government (but that is not it);
I like the freedom of the press and quill;
I like the Hapeas Corpus (when we've got it);
I like a parliamentary debate,
Particularly when 'tis not too late;

XLVIII.
I like the taxes, when they're not too many;
I like a sea-coal fire, when not too dear;
I like a beef-steak, too, as well as any;
Have no objection to a pot of beer;
I like the weather--when it is not rainy--
That is, I like two months of every Year;
And so God save the Regent, Church, and King!
Which means that I like all and every thing.

XLIX.
Our standing Army, and disbanded Seamen,
Poor's rate, Reform, my own, the nation's debt,
Our little Riots just to show we're free men,
Our trifling Bankruptcies in the Gazette,
Our cloudy Climate, and our chilly Women;
All these I can forgive, and those forget,
And greatly venerate our recent glories,
And wish they were not owing to the Tories.

L.
But to my tale of Laura--for I find
Digression is a sin, that by degrees
Becomes exceeding tedious to my mind,
And, therefore, may the reader too displease--
The gentle reader--who may wax unkind,
And caring little for the Author’s ease,
Insist on knowing what he means, a hard
And hapless situation for a Bard.

LI.
Oh that I had the art of easy writing
What should be easy reading! could I scale
Parnassus, where the Muses sit inditing
Those pretty poems never known to fail!
How quickly would I print (the world delighting)
A Grecian, Syrian, or Assyrian tale;
And sell you, mix'd with Western sentimentalism,
Some samples of the finest Orientalism.

LII.
But I am but a nameless sort of person
(A broken Dandy lately on my travels)
And take for Rhyme, to hook my rambling Verse on,
The first that Walker's Lexicon unravels,
And when I can't find that, I put a worse on,
Not caring as I ought for Critics' cavils;
I've half a mind to tumble down to prose,
But Verse is more in fashion--so here goes!

LIII.
The Count and Laura made their new arrangement,
Which lasted, as Arrangements sometimes do,
For half a dozen years without estrangement;
They had their little differences, too;
Those jealous whiffs, which never any change meant;
In such affairs there probably are few
Who have not had this pouting sort of squabble,
From Sinners of high station to the Rabble.

LIV.
But, on the whole, they were a happy pair,
As happy as unlawful love could make them;
The Gentleman was fond, the Lady fair,
Their chains so slight 'twas not worth while to break them;
The World beheld them with indulgent air;
The Pious only wish'd 'the Devil take them!'
He took them not; he very often waits,
And leaves old Sinners to be young ones’ baits.

LV.
But they were young; Oh! what without our youth
Would Love be! What would youth be without love!
Youth lends it joy, and sweetness, vigour, truth,
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above;
But, languishing with years, it grows uncouth--
One of few things Experience don't improve,
Which is perhaps the reason why old fellows
Are always so preposterously jealous.

LVI.
It was the Carnival, as I have said
Some six and thirty stanzas back, and so
Laura the usual preparations made,
Which you do when your mind's made up to go
To-night to Mrs. Boehm's Masquerade,
Spectator, or Partaker in the show;
The only difference known between the cases
Is here, we have six weeks of 'varnish'd faces.'

LVII.
Laura, when dress'd, was (as I sang before)
A pretty woman as was ever seen,
Fresh as the Angel o'er a new Inn door,
Or frontispiece of a new Magazine,
With all the Fashions which the last month wore,
Colour'd, and silver paper leaved between
That and the title-page, for fear the Press
Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress.

LVIII.
They went to the Ridotto;--'tis a hall
Where people dance, and sup, and dance again--
Its proper name perhaps were a masqued Ball,
But that’s of no importance to my strain;
'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by Rain;
The company is 'mix'd' (the phrase I quote is
As much as saying they're below your Notice).

LIX.
For a 'mix'd company' implies that, save
Yourself and friends and half a hundred more
Whom you may bow to without looking grave,
The rest are but a vulgar set--the Bore
Of public places, where they basely brave
The fashionable stare of twenty score
Of well-bred persons call'd 'The World'--but I,
Although I know them, really don't know why.

LX.
This is the case in England, at least was
During the dynasty of Dandies, now
Perchance succeeded by some other class
Of imitated Imitators :-- how
Irreparably soon decline, alas!
The Demagogues of fashion; all below
Is frail; how easily the World is lost
By Love, or War, and now and then by Frost!

LXI.
Crush'd was Napoleon by the northern Thor,
Who knock’d his army down with icy hammer,
Stopp'd by the Elements, like a Whaler, or
A blundering Novice in his new French grammar;
Good cause had he to doubt the chance of War,
And as for Fortune--but I dare not d___n her,
Because, were I to ponder to Infinity,
The more I should believe in her Divinity.

LXII.
She rules the present, past, and all to be yet;
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage;
I cannot say that she’s done much for me yet,
Not that I mean her bounties to disparage--
We've not yet closed accounts--and we shall see yet
How much she'll make amends for past miscarriage.
Meantime the Goddess I'll no more importune,
Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune.

LXIII.
To turn--and to return, the Devil take it!
This Story slips for ever through my fingers,
Because, just as the Stanza likes to make it,
It needs must be, and so it rather lingers:
This form of verse began, I can't well break it,
But must keep time and tune like public Singers;
But if I once get through my present measure,
I'll take another when I'm at leisure.

LXIV.
They went to the Ridotto ('tis a place
To which I mean to go myself to-morrow,
Just to divert my thoughts a little space,
Because I’m rather hippish, and may borrow
Some spirits, guessing at what kind of face
May lurk beneath each mask; and as my sorrow
Slackens its pace sometimes, I'll make or find
Something shall leave it half an hour behind).

LXV.
Now Laura moves along the joyous crowd--
Smiles in her eyes, and simpers on her lips--
To some she whispers, others speaks aloud;
To some she curtsies, and to some she dips,
Complains of warmth and, this complaint avow'd,
Her lover brings the Lemonade she sips;
She then surveys, condemns, but pities still
Her dearest friends for being dress'd so ill.

LXVI.
One has false curls, another too much paint,
A third--where did She buy that frightful turban?
A fourth's so pale she fears she's going to faint,
A fifth's look's vulgar, dowdyish, and suburban,
A sixth's white silk has got a yellow taint,
A seventh's thin Muslin surely will be her bane,
And lo! an eighth appears--'I'll see no more!'
For fear, like Banquo's kings, they reach a score.

LXVII.
Meantime, while she was thus at others gazing,
Others were leveling their looks at her;
She heard the Men's half-whisper'd mode of praising,
And, till ’twas done, determined not to stir;
The women only thought it quite amazing
That, at her time of Life, so many were
Admirers still--but Men are so debased,
Those brazen creatures always suit their taste.

LXVIII.
For my part now, I ne'er could understand
Why naughty Women--but I won’t discuss
A thing which is a Scandal to the land;
I only don't see why it should be thus;
And if I were but in a gown and band--
Just to entitle me to make a fuss--
I'd preach on this till Wilberforce and Romilly
Should quote in their next speeches from my homily.

LXIX.
While Laura thus was seen, and seeing, smiling,
Talking, she knew not why, and cared not what,
So that her female friends, with envy broiling,
Beheld her airs and triumph, and all that,
And well-dress'd males still kept before her filing,
And passing bow'd and mingled with her chat;
More than the rest, one person seem'd to stare
With pertinacity that's rather rare.

LXX.
He was a Turk, the colour of mahogany;
And Laura saw him, and at first was glad,
Because the Turks so much admire Phylogyny,
Although their usage of their wives is sad;
'Tis said they use no better than a dog any
Poor woman, whom they purchase like a pad;
They have a number, though they ne'er exhibit 'em,
Four Wives by law, and Concubines 'ad libitum.'

LXXI.
They lock them up, and veil and guard them daily;
They scarcely can behold their male relations,
So that their moments do not pass so gaily
As is supposed the case with Northern nations;
Confinement, too, must make them look quite palely;
And as the Turks abhor long conversations,
Their days are either pass'd in doing nothing,
Or bathing, nursing, making love, and clothing.

LXXII.
They cannot read--and so don't lisp in Criticism;
Nor write--and so they don't affect the Muse;
Were never caught in epigram or witticism,
Have no romances, sermons, plays, reviews--
In harams Learning soon would make a pretty schism!
But luckily these beauties are no 'Blues;'
No bustling Botherbys have they to show 'em
'That charming passage in the last new poem!'

LXXIII.
No solemn Antique gentleman of rhyme,
Who, having angled all his life for Fame
And getting but a nibble at a time,
Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same
Small 'Triton of the Minnows,' the sublime
Of mediocrity, the furious tame,
The echo’s Echo, usher of the School
Of female Wits, boy bards--in short, a fool!

LXXIV.
A stalking Oracle of awful phrase,
The approving 'Good!' (By no means GOOD in law)
Humming like flies around the newest blaze,
The bluest of Bluebottles you e'er saw,
Teasing with blame, excruciating with praise,
Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,
Translating tongues he knows not even by letter,
And sweating plays so middling, bad were better.

LXXV.
One hates an Author that's all Author, fellows
In foolscap uniforms turn'd up with ink,
So very anxious, clever, fine, and jealous,
One don't know what to say to them, or think,
Unless to puff them with a pair of Bellows;
Of Coxcombry's worst Coxcombs e'en the pink
Are preferable to these shreds of paper,
These unquench'd snufflings of the midnight taper.

LXXVI.
Of these same we see several, and of others,
Men of the World, who know the world like men,
Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers
Who think of something else besides the pen;
But for the Children of the 'Mighty Mother's'--
The would-be Wits, and can’t-be Gentlemen--
I leave them to their daily 'Tea is ready,'
Smug Coterie, and Literary Lady.

LXXVII.
The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention
Have none of these instructive, pleasant people,
And One would seem to them a new Invention,
Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple;
I think 'twould almost be worth while to pension
(Though best-sown projects very often reap ill)
A Missionary Author, just to preach
Our Christian usage of the parts of Speech.

LXXVIII.
No Chemistry for them unfolds her gases,
No Metaphysics are let loose in lectures,
No Circulating Library amasses
Religious novels, moral tales, and strictures
Upon the living manners, as they pass us;
No Exhibition glares with annual pictures;
They stare not on the Stars from out their Attics,
Nor deal (thank God for that!) in Mathematics.

LXXIX.
Why I thank God for that is no great matter;
I have my reasons, you no doubt suppose,
And as perhaps they would not highly flatter,
I'll keep them for my life (to come) in prose;
I fear I have a little turn for Satire,
And yet, methinks, the older that one grows
Inclines us more to laugh than scold, though Laughter
Leaves us no doubly serious shortly after.

LXXX.
Oh, mirth and innocence! Oh, milk and water!
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days!
In these sad centuries of sin and slaughter,
Abominable Man no more allays
His thirst with such pure beverage. No matter,
I love you both, and both shall have my praise;
Oh, for old Saturn's reign of sugar-candy!
Meantime I drink to your return in Brandy.

LXXXI.
Our Laura's Turk still kept his eyes upon her,
Less in the Mussulman than Christian way,
Which seems to say, 'Madam, I do you honour,
And while I please to stare, you'll please to stay!'
Could staring win a woman, this had won her,
But Laura could not thus be led astray;
She had stood fire too long and well, is boggle
Even at this Stranger's most outlandish Ogle.

LXXXII.
The Morning now was on the point of breaking,
A turn of time at which I would advise
Ladies who have been dancing, or partaking
In any other kind of Exercise,
To make their preparations for forsaking
The Ball-room ere the Sun begins to rise,
Because when once the lamps and candles fail,
His Blushes make them look a little pale.

LXXXIII.
I've seen some balls and revels in my time,
And stay'd them over for some silly reason;
And then I look'd (I hope it was no crime)
To see what lady best stood out the Season;
And though I've seen some thousands in their prime,
Lovely and pleasing, and who still may please on,
I never saw but One (the stars withdrawn)
Whose bloom could, after dancing, dare the dawn.

LXXXIV.
The name of this Aurora I'll not mention,
Although I might, for She was nought to me
More than that patent work of God's invention,
A charming woman, whom we like to see;
But writing names would merit reprehension,
Yet if you like to find out this fair She,
At the next London or Parisian ball
You still may mark her cheek, out-blooming all.

LXXXV.
Laura, who knew it would not do at all
To meet the daylight after seven hours' sitting
Among three thousand people at a ball,
To make her curtsy thought it right and fitting;
The Count was at her elbow with her shawl,
And they the room were on the point of quitting,
When lo! those cursed gondoliers had got
Just in the very place where they should not.

LXXXVI.
In this they're like our Coachmen, and the cause
Is much the same--the Crowd, and pulling, hauling--
With blasphemies enough to break their jaws--
They make a never-intermitted bawling.
At home, our Bow Street Gem'men keep the laws,
And here a Sentry stands within your calling;
But for all that, there is a deal of swearing,
And nauseous words past mentioning or bearing.

LXXXVII.
The Count and Laura found their boat at last,
And homeward floated o'er the silent tied,
Discussing all the dances gone and past;
The Dancers and their dresses, too, beside.
Some little Scandals eke; but all aghast
(As to their palace-stairs the rowers glide)
Sate Laura by the side of her Adorer,
When lo! the Mussulman was there before her!

LXXXVIII.
'Sir!' said the Count, with brow exceeding grave,
'Your unexpected presence here will make
It necessary for myself to crave
Its import--but perhaps 'tis a mistake.
I hope it is so, and at once to waive
All compliment--I hope so for your sake;
You understand my meaning, or you shall.'
'Sir' (quoth the Turk), ''tis no mistake at all:

LXXXIX.
'That Lady is my Wife!' Much wonder paints
The Lady's changing cheek, as well it might,
But where an Englishwoman sometimes faints,
Italian females don't do so outright;
They only call a little on their Saints,
And then come to themselves, almost or quite,
Which saves much hartshorn, salts, and sprinkling faces,
And cutting stays, as usual in such cases.

XC.
She said—what could she say? why, not a word:
But the Count courteously invited in
The Stranger, much appeased by what he heard;
'Such things perhaps we'd best discuss within,'
Said he, 'don't let us make ourselves absurd
In public, by a Scene, nor raise a din,
For then the chief and only satisfaction
Will be much quizzing on the whole transaction.'

XCI.
They enter'd, and for coffee call'd; it came,
A beverage for Turks and Christians both,
Although the way they make it's not the same.
Now Laura, much recover'd, or less loth
To speak, cries 'Beppo! what's your Pagan name?
Bless me! your beard is of amazing growth!
And how came you to keep away so long?
Are you not sensible 'twas very wrong?

XCII.
'And are you really, truly, now a Turk?
With any other women did you wive?
Is't true they use their fingers for a fork?
Well, that's the prettiest Shawl--as I'm alive!
You'll give it me? They say you eat no pork.
And how so many years did you contrive
To--Bless me! did I ever? No, I never
Saw a man grown so yellow! How’s your liver?

XCIII.
'Beppo! that beard of yours becomes you not;
It shall be shaved before you're a day older;
Why do you wear it? Oh! I had forgot--
Pray don't you think the weather here is colder?
How do I look? You shan't stir from this spot
In that queer dress, for fear that some beholder
Should find you out, and make the story known.
How short your hair is! Lord! how grey it’s grown!'

XCIV.
What answer Beppo made to these demands
Is more than I know. He was cast away
About where Troy stood once, and Nothing stands;
Became a Slave of course, and for his pay
Had bread and bastinadoes, till some bands
Of pirates landing in a neighbouring bay,
He join'd the rogues and prosper’d, and became
A Renegado of indifferent fame.

XCV.
But he grew rich, and with his riches grew so
Keen the desire to see his home again,
He thought himself in duty bound to do so,
And not be always thieving on the Main;
Lonely he felt at times as Robin Crusoe,
And so he hired a vessel come from Spain,
Bound for Corfu: she was a fine polacca,
Mann'd with twelve hands, and laden with tobacco.

XCVI.
Himself, and much (Heaven knows how gotten!) Cash,
He then embark'd, with risk of life and limb,
And got clear off, although the attempt was rash.
He said that Providence protected him;
For my part, I say nothing--lest we clash
In our opinions--well, the Ship was trim,
Set sail, and kept her reckoning fairly on,
Except three days of calm when off Cape Bonn.

XCVII.
They reach'd the Island, he transferr'd his lading
And self and live stock to another bottom,
And pass'd for a true Turkey-Merchant, trading
With goods of various names--but I've forgot 'em.
However, he got off by this evading,
Or else the people would perhaps have shot him;
And thus at Venice landed to reclaim
His wife, religion, house, and Christian name.

XCVIII.
His Wife received, the Patriarch re-baptised him
(He made the Church a present, by the way);
He then threw off the Garments which disguised him
And borrow'd the Count's small clothes for a day:
His friends the more for his long absence prized him,
Finding he'd wherewithal to make them gay,
With dinners--where he oft became the laugh of them;
For stories--but I don’t believe the half of them.

XCIX.
Whate'er his Youth had suffer'd, his old Age
With wealth and talking made him some amends;
Though Laura sometimes put him in a rage,
I've heard the Count and He were always friends.
My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which being finish'd, here the story ends;
'Tis to be wish'd it had been sooner done,
But Stories somehow lengthen when begun.

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Beppo

I.
'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout
All countries of the Catholic persuasion,
Some weeks before Shrove Tuesday comes about,
The people take their fill of recreation,
And buy repentance, ere they grow devout,
However high their rank, or low their station,
With fiddling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking,
And other things which may be had for asking.

II.
The moment night with dusky mantle covers
The skies (and the more duskily the better),
The time less liked by husbands than by lovers
Begins, and prudery flings aside her fetter;
And gaiety on restless tiptoe hovers,
Giggling with all the gallants who beset her;
And there are songs and quavers, roaring, humming,
Guitars, and every other sort of strumming.

III.
And there are dresses splendid, but fantastical,
Masks of all times and nations, Turks and Jews,
And harlequins and clowns, with feats gymnastical,
Greeks, Romans, Yankee-doodles, and Hindoos;
All kinds of dress, except the ecclesiastical,
All people, as their fancies hit, may choose,
But no one in these parts may quiz the clergy, —
Therefore take heed, ye Freethinkers! I charge ye.

IV.
You'd better walk about begirt with briars,
Instead of coat and smallclothes, than put on
A single stitch reflecting upon friars,
Although you swore it only was in fun;
They'd haul you o'er the coals, and stir the fires
Of Phlegethon with every mother's son,
Nor say one mass to cool the caldron's bubble
That boil'd your bones, unless you paid them double.

V.
But saving this, you may put on whate'er
You like by way of doublet, cape, or cloak.
Such as in Monmouth-street, or in Rag Fair,
Would rig you out in seriousness or joke;
And even in Italy such places are,
With prettier name in softer accents spoke,
For, bating Covent Garden, I can hit on
No place that's called "Piazza" in Great Britain.

VI.
This feast is named the Carnival, which being
Interpreted, implies "farewell to flesh:"
So call'd, because the name and thing agreeing,
Through Lent they live on fish, both salt and fresh.
But why they usher Lent with so much glee in,
Is more than I can tell, although I guess
'Tis as we take a glass with friends at parting,
In the stage-coach or packet, just at starting,

VII.
And thus they bid farewell to carnal dishes,
And solid meats, and highly spiced ragouts,
To live for forty days on ill-dress'd fishes,
Because they have no sauces to their stews;
A thing which causes many "poohs" and "pishes,"
And several oaths (which would not suit the Muse),
From travellers accustom'd from a boy
To eat their salmon, at the least, with soy;

VIII.
And therefore humbly I would recommend
"The curious in fish-sauce," before they cross
The sea, to bid their cook, or wife, or friend,
Walk or ride to the Strand, and buy in gross
(Or if set out beforehand, these may send
By any means least liable to loss)
Ketchup, Soy, Chili-vinegar, and Harvey,
Or by the Lord! a Lent will well nigh starve ye;

IX.
That is to say, if your religion's Roman,
And you at Rome would do as Romans do,
According to the proverb, — although no man
If foreign, is obliged to fast; and you
If Protestant, or sickly, or a woman,
Would rather dine in sin on a ragout —
Dine and be d—d! I don't mean to be coarse,
But that's the penalty, to say no worse.

X.
Of all the places where the Carnival
Was most facetious in the days of yore,
For dance, and song, and serenade, and ball,
And masque, and mime, and mystery, and more
Than I have time to tell now, or at all,
Venice the bell from every city bore, —
And at the moment when I fix my story,
That sea-born city was in all her glory.

XI.
They've pretty faces yet, those same Venetians,
Black-eyes, arch'd brows, and sweet expressions still;
Such as of old were copied from the Grecians,
In ancient arts by moderns mimick'd ill;
And like so many Venuses of Titian's
(The best's at Florence — see it, if ye will),
They look when leaning over the balcony,
Or stepp'd from out a picture by Giorgione,

XII.
Whose tints are truth and beauty at their best;
And when you to Manfrini's palace go,
That picture (howsoever fine the rest)
Is loveliest to my mind of all the show;
It may perhaps be also to your zest,
And that's the cause I rhyme upon it so:
'Tis but a portrait of his son, and wife,
And self; but such a woman! love in life!

XIII.
Love in full life and length, not love ideal,
No, nor ideal beauty, that fine name,
But something better still, so very real,
That the sweet model must have been the same;
A thing that you would purchase, beg, or steal,
Were 't not impossible, besides a shame:
The face recalls some face, as't were with pain,
You once have seen, but ne'er will see again.

XIV.
One of those forms which flit by us, when we
Are young, and fix our eyes on every face;
And, oh! the loveliness at times we see
In momentary gliding, the soft grace,
The youth, the bloom, the beauty which agree,
In many a nameless being we retrace,
whose course, and home we knew not, nor shall know,
Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below.

XV.
I said that like a picture by Giorgione
Venetian women were, and so they are,
Particularly seen from a balcony
(For beauty's sometimes best set off afar),
And there, just like a heroine of Goldoni,
They peep from out the blind, or o'er the bar;
And truth to say, they're mostly very pretty,
And rather like to show it, more's the pity!

XVI.
For glances beget ogles, ogles sighs,
Sighs wishes, wishes words, and words a letter,
Which flies on wings of light-heel'd Mercuries,
Who do such things because they know no better;
And then, God knows what mischief may arise,
When love links two young people in one fetter,
Vile assignations, and adulterous beds,
Elopements, broken vows, and hearts, and heads.

XVII.
Shakespeare described the sex in Desdemona
As very fair, but yet suspect in fame,
And to this day from Venice to Verona
Such matters may be probably the same,
Except that since those times was never known a
Husband whom mere suspicion could inflame
To suffocate a wife no more than twenty,
Because she had a "cavalier servente."

XVIII.
Their jealousy (if they are ever jealous)
Is of a fair complexion altogether,
Not like that sooty devil of Othello's,
Which smothers women in a bed of feather,
But worthier of these much more jolly fellows,
When weary of the matrimonial tether
His head for such a wife no mortal bothers,
But takes at once another, or another's.

XIX.
Didst ever see a Gondola? For fear
You should not, I'll describe it you exactly:
"Tis a long cover'd boat that's common here,
Carved at the prow, build lightly, but compactly,
Row'd by two rowers, each call'd "Gondolier,"
It glides along the water looking blackly,
Just like a coffin clapt in a canoe,
Where none can make out what you say or do.

XX.
And up and down the long canals they go,
And under the Rialto shoot along,
By night and day, all paces, swift or slow,
And round the theatres, a sable throng,
They wait in their dusk livery of woe, —
But not to them do woeful things belong,
For sometimes they contain a deal of fun,
Like mourning coaches when the funeral's done.

XXI.
But to my story. — 'Twas some years ago,
It may be thirty, forty, more or less,
The Carnival was at its height, and so
Were all kinds of buffoonery and dress;
A certain lady went to see the show,
Her real name I know not, nor can guess,
And so we'll call her Laura, if you please,
Because it slips into my verse with ease.

XXII.
She was not old, nor young, nor at the years
Which certain people call a "certain age,"
Which yet the most uncertain age appears,
Because I never heard, nor could engage
A person yet by prayers, or bribes, or tears,
To name, define by speech, or write on page,
The period meant precisely by that word, —
Which surely is exceedingly absurd.

XXIII.
Laura was blooming still, had made the best
Of time, and time return'd the compliment,
She look'd extremely well where'er she went;
A pretty woman is a welcome guest,
And Laura's brow a frown had rarely bent;
Indeed, she shone all smiles, and seem'd to flatter
Mankind with her black eyes for looking at her.

XXIV.
She was a married woman; 'tis convenient,
Because in Christian countries 'tis a rule
To view their little slips with eyes more lenient;
Whereas if single ladies play the fool
(Unless within the period intervenient
A well-times wedding makes the scandal cool),
I don't know how they ever can get over it,
Except they manage never to discover it.

XXV.
Her husband sail'd upon the Adriatic,
And made some voyages, too, in other seas,
And when he lay in quarantine for pratique
(A forty days' precaution 'gainst disease),
His wife would mount, at times, her highest attic,
For thence she could discern the ship with ease;
He was a merchant trading to Aleppo,
His name Giuseppe, call'd more briefly, Beppo.

XXVI.
He was a man as dusky as a Spaniard,
Sunburnt with travel, yet a portly figure;
Though colour'd, as it were, within a tan-yard,
He was a person both of sense and vigour —
A better seaman never yet did man yard;
And she, although her manners show'd no rigour,
Was deem'd a woman of the strictest principle,
So much as to be thought almost invincible.

XXVII.
But several years elapsed since they had met;
Some people thought the ship was lost, and some
That he had somehow blunder'd into debt,
And did not like the thought of steering home;
And there were several offer'd any bet,
Or that he would, or that he would not come;
For most men (till by losing render'd sager)
Will back their own opinions with a wager.

XXVIII.
'Tis said that their last parting was pathetic,
As partings often are, or ought to be,
And their presentiment was quite prophetic,
That they should never more each other see,
(A sort of morbid feeling, half poetic,
Which I have known occur in two or three,)
When kneeling on the shore upon her sad knee
He left this Adriatic Ariadne.

XXIX.
And Laura waited long, and wept a little,
And thought of wearing weeds, as well she might;
She almost lost all appetite for victual,
And could not sleep with ease along at night;
She deem'd the window-frames and shutters brittle
Against a daring housebreaker or sprite,
And so she thought it prudent to connect her.
With a vice-husband, chiefly to protect her.

XXX.
She chose, (and what is there they will not choose,
If only you will but oppose their choice?)
Till Beppo should return from his long cruise,
And bid once more her faithful heart rejoice,
A man some women like, and yet abuse —
A coxcomb was he by the public voice;
A Count of wealth, they said, as well as quality,
And in his pleasures of great liberality.

XXXI.
And then he was A Count, and then he knew
Music, and dancing, fiddling, French and Tuscan;
The last not easy, be it known to you.
For few Italians speak the right Etruscan.
He was a critic upon operas, too,
And knew all niceties of the sock and buskin;
And no Venetian audience could endure a
Song, scene, or air, when he cried "seccatura!"

XXXII.
His "bravo" was decisive, for that sound
Hush'd "Academie" sigh'd in silent awe;
The fiddlers trembled as he look'd around,
For fear of some false note's detected flaw;
The "prima donna's" tuneful heart would bound,
Dreading the deep damnation of his "bah!"
Soprano, basso, even the contra-alto,
Wish'd him five fathom under the Rialto.

XXXIII.
He patronised the Improvisatori,
Nay, could himself extemporise some stanzas,
Wrote rhymes, sang songs, could also tell a story,
Sold pictures, and was skilful in the dance as
Italians can be, though in this their glory
Must surely yield the palm to that which France has;
In short, he was a perfect cavaliero,
And to his very valet seem'd a hero.

XXIV.
Then he was faithful too, as well as amorous;
So that no sort of female could complain,
Although they're now and then a little clamourous,
He never put the pretty souls in pain;
His heart was one of those which most enamour us,
Wax to receive, and marble to retain:
He was a lover of the good old school,
Who still become more constant as they cool.

XXXV.
No wonder such accomplishments should turn
A female head, however sage and steady —
With scarce a hope that Beppo could return,
In law he was almost as good as dead, he
Nor sent, nor wrote, nor show'd the least concern,
And she had waited several years already;
And really if a man won't let us know
That he's alive, he's dead, or should be so.

XXXVI.
Besides, within the Alps, to every woman,
(Although, God knows, it is a grievous sin,)
'Tis, I may say, permitted to have two men;
I can't tell who first brought the custom in,
But "Cavalier Serventes" are quite common,
And no one notices nor cares a pin;
And we may call this (not to say the worst)
A second marriage which corrupts the first.

XXXVII.
The word was formerly a "Cicisbeo,"
But that is now grown vulgar and indecent;
The Spaniards call the person a "Cortejo,"
For the same mode subsists in Spain, though recent;
In short, it reaches from the Po to Teio,
And may perhaps at last be o'er the sea sent:
But Heaven preserve Old England from such courses!
Or what becomes of damage and divorces?

XXXVIII.
However, I still think, with all due deference
To the fair single part of the creation,
That married ladies should preserve the preference
In tête-à-tête or general conversation —
And this I say without peculiar reference
To England, France, or any other nation —
Because they know the world, and are at ease,
And being natural, naturally please.

XXXIX.
"Tis true, your budding Miss is very charming,
But shy and awkward at first coming out,
So much alarm'd, that she is quite alarming,
All Giggle, Blush; half Pertness, and half-Pout;
And glancing at Mamma, for fear there's harm in
What you, she, it, or they, may be about,
The nursery still lisps out in all they utter —
Besides, they always smell of bread and butter.

XL.
But "Cavalier Servente" is the phrase
Used in politest circles to express
This supernumerary slave, who stays
Close to the lady as a part of dress,
Her word the only law which he obeys.
His is no sinecure, as you may guess;
Coach, servants, gondola, he goes to call,
And carries fan and tippet, gloves and shawl.

XLI.
With all its sinful doings, I must say,
That Italy's a pleasant place to me,
Who love to see the Sun shine every day,
And vines (not nail'd to walls) from tree to tree
Festoon'd, much like the back scene of a play,
Or melodrame, which people flock to see,
When the first act is ended by a dance
In vineyards copied from the south of France.

XLII.
I like on Autumn evenings to ride out,
Without being forced to bid my groom be sure
My cloak is round his middle strapp'd about,
Because the skies are not the most secure;
I know too that, if stopp'd upon my route,
Where the green alleys windingly allure,
Reeling with grapes red waggons choke the way, —
In England 't would be dung, dust, or a dray.

XLIII.
I also like to dine on becaficas,
To see the Sun set, sure he'll rise tomorrow,
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as
A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow,
But with all Heaven t'himself; the day will break as
Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers
Where reeking London's smoky caldron simmers.

XLIV.
I love the language, that soft bastard Latin,
Which melts like kisses from a female mouth,
And sounds as if it should be writ on satin,
With syllables which breathe of the sweet South,
And gentle liquids gliding all so pat in,
That not a single accent seems uncouth,
Like our harsh northern whistling, grunting guttural,
Which we're obliged to hiss, and spit, and sputter all.

XLV.
I like the women too (forgive my folly),
From the rich peasant cheek of ruddy bronze,
And large black eyes that flash on you a volley
Of rays that say a thousand things at once,
To the high dama's brow, more melancholy,
But clear, and with a wild and liquid glance,
Heart on her lips, and soul within her eyes,
Soft as her clime, and sunny as her skies.

XLVI.
Eve of the land which still is Paradise!
Italian beauty! didst thou not inspire
Raphael, who died in thy embrace, and vies
With all we know of Heaven, or can desire,
In what he hath bequeath'd us? — in what guise,
Though flashing from the fervour of the lyre,
Would words describe thy past and present glow,
While yet Canova can create below?

XLVII.
"England! with all thy faults I love thee still,"
I said at Calais, and have not forgot it;
I like to speak and lucubrate my fill;
I like the government (but that is not it);
I like the freedom of the press and quill;
I like the Hapeas Corpus (when we've got it);
I like a parliamentary debate,
Particularly when 'tis not too late;

XLVIII.
I like the taxes, when they're not too many;
I like a seacoal fire, when not too dear;
I like a beef-steak, too, as well as any;
Have no objection to a pot of beer;
I like the weather, when it is not rainy,
That is, I like two months of every year,
And so God save the Regent, Church, and King!
Which means that I like all and everything.

XLIX.
Our standing army, and disbanded seamen,
Poor's rate, Reform, my own, the nation's debt,
Our little riots just to show we are free men,
Our trifling bankruptcies in the Gazette,
Our cloudy climate, and our chilly women,
All these I can forgive, and those forget,
And greatly venerate our recent glories,
And wish they were not owing to the Tories.

L.
But to my tale of Laura, — for I find
Digression is a sin, that by degrees
Becomes exceeding tedious to my mind,
And, therefore, may the reader too displease —
The gentle reader, who may wax unkind,
And caring little for the author's ease,
Insist on knowing what he means, a hard
And hapless situation for a bard.

LI.
Oh that I had the art of easy writing
What should be easy reading! could I scale
Parnassus, where the Muses sit inditing
Those pretty poems never known to fail,
How quickly would I print (the world delighting)
A Grecian, Syrian, or Assyrian tale;
And sell you, mix'd with western sentimentalism,
Some samples of the finest Orientalism!

LII.
But I am but a nameless sort of person,
(A broken Dandy lately on my travels)
And take for rhyme, to hook my rambling verse on,
The first that Walker's Lexicon unravels,
And when I can't find that, I put a worse on,
Not caring as I ought for critics' cavils;
I've half a mind to tumble down to prose,
But verse is more in fashion — so here goes.

LIII.
The Count and Laura made their new arrangement,
Which lasted, as arrangements sometimes do,
For half a dozen years without estrangement;
They had their little differences, too;
Those jealous whiffs, which never any change meant;
In such affairs there probably are few
Who have not had this pouting sort of squabble,
From sinners of high station to the rabble.

LIV.
But on the whole, they were a happy pair,
As happy as unlawful love could make them;
The gentleman was fond, the lady fair,
Their chains so slight, 'twas not worth while to break them;
The world beheld them with indulgent air;
The pious only wish'd "the devil take them!"
He took them not; he very often waits,
And leaves old sinners to be young ones' baits.

LV.
But they were young: Oh! what without our youth
Would love be! What would youth be without love!
Youth lends it joy, and sweetness, vigour, truth,
Heart, soul, and all that seems as from above;
But, languishing with years, it grows uncouth —
One of few things experience don't improve,
Which is, perhaps, the reason why old fellows
Are always so preposterously jealous.

LVI.
It was the Carnival, as I have said
Some six and thirty stanzas back, and so
Laura the usual preparations made,
Which you do when your mind's made up to go
To-night to Mrs. Boehm's masquerade,
Spectator, or partaker in the show;
The only difference known between the cases
Is — here, we have six weeks of "varnish'd faces."

LVII.
Laura, when dress'd, was (as I sang before)
A pretty woman as was ever seen,
Fresh as the Angel o'er a new inn door,
Or frontispiece of a new Magazine,
With all the fashions which the last month wore,
Colour'd, and silver paper leaved between
That and the title-page, for fear the press
Should soil with parts of speech the parts of dress.

LVIII.
They went to the Ridotto; — 'tis a hall
Where people dance, and sup, and dance again;
Its proper name, perhaps, were a masqued ball,
But that's of no importance to my strain;
'Tis (on a smaller scale) like our Vauxhall,
Excepting that it can't be spoilt by rain;
The company is "mix'd" (the phrase I quote is
As much as saying they're below your notice);

LIX.
For a "mix'd company" implies that, save
Yourself and friends, and half a hundred more,
Whom you may bow to without looking grave,
The rest are but a vulgar set, the bore
Of public places, where they basely brave
The fashionable stare of twenty score
Of well-bred persons, call'd "The World;" but I,
Although I know them, really don't know why.

LX.
This is the case in England; at least was
During the dynasty of Dandies, now
Perchance succeeded by some other class
Of imitated imitators: — how
Irreparably soon decline, alas!
The demagogues of fashion: all below
Is frail; how easily the world is lost
By love, or war, and now and then by frost!

LXI.
Crush'd was Napoleon by the northern Thor,
Who knock'd his army down with icy hammer,
Stopp'd by the elements, like a whaler, or
A blundering novice in his new French grammar;
Good cause had he to doubt the chance of war,
And as for Fortune — but I dare not d—n her,
Because, were I to ponder to infinity,
The more I should believe in her divinity.

LXII.
She rules the present, past, and all to be yet,
She gives us luck in lotteries, love, and marriage;
I cannot say that she's done much for me yet;
Not that I mean her bounties to disparage,
We've not yet closed accounts, and we shall see yet;
How much she'll make amends for past miscarriage.
Meantime the Goddess I'll no more importune,
Unless to thank her when she's made my fortune.

LXIII.
To turn, — and return; — the devil take it!
This story slips for ever through my fingers,
Because, just as the stanza likes to make it,
It needs must be, and so it rather lingers:
This form of verse began, I can't well break it,
But must keep time and tune like public singers;
But if I once get through my present measure,
I'll take another when I'm at leisure.

LXIV.
They went to the Ridotto ('tis a place
To which I mean to go myself to-morrow,
Just to divert my thoughts a little space,
Because I'm rather hippish, and may borrow,
Some spirits, guessing at what kind of face
May lurk beneath each mask; and as my sorrow
Slackens its pace sometimes, I'll make, or find,
Something shall leave it half an hour behind).

LXV.
Now Laura moves along the joyous crowd,
Smiles in her eyes, and simpers on her lips;
To some she whispers, others speaks aloud;
To some she curtsies, and to some she dips,
Complains of warmth, and this complaint avow'd,
Her lover brings the lemonade, she sips;
She then surveys, condemns, but pities still
Her dearest friends for being dress'd so ill.

LXVI.
One has false curls, another too much paint,
A third — where did she buy that frightful turban?
A fourth's so pale she fears she's going to faint,
A fifth's look's vulgar, dowdyish, and suburban,
A sixth's white silk has got a yellow taint,
A seventh's thin muslin surely will be her bane,
And lo! an eighth appears, — "I'll see no more!"
For fear, like Banquo's kings, they reach a score.

LXVII.
Meantime, while she was thus at others gazing,
Others were leveling their looks at her;
She heard the men's half-whisper'd mode of praising,
And, till 'twas done, determined not to stir;
The women only thought it quite amazing
That, at her time of life, so many were
Admirers still, — but men are so debased,
Those brazen creatures always suit their taste.

LXVIII.
For my part, now, I ne'er could understand
Why naughty women — but I won't discuss
A thing which is a scandal to the land,
I only don't see why it should be thus;
And if I were but in a gown and band,
Just to entitle me to make a fuss,
I'd preach on this till Wilberforce and Romilly
Should quote in their next speeches from my homily.

LXIX.
While Laura thus was seen, and seeing, smiling,
Talking, she knew not why, and cared not what,
So that her female friends, with envy broiling,
Beheld her airs and triumph, and all that;
And well-dress'd males still kept before her filing,
And passing bow'd and mingled with her chat;
More than the rest one person seem'd to stare
With pertinacity that's rather rare.

LXX.
He was a Turk, the colour of mahogany;
And Laura saw him, and at first was glad,
Because the Turks so much admire phylogyny,
Although their usage of their wives is sad;
'Tis said they use no better than a dog any
Poor woman, whom they purchase like a pad;
They have a number, though the ne'er exhibit 'em,
Four wives by law, and concubines: ad libitum."

LXXI.
They lock them up, and veil, and guard them daily,
They scarcely can behold their male relations,
So that their moments do not pass so gaily
As is supposed the case with northern nations;
Confinement, too, must make them look quite palely;
And as the Turks abhor long conversations,
Their days are either pass'd in doing nothing,
Or bathing, nursing, making love, and clothing.

LXXII.
They cannot read, and so don't lisp in criticism;
Nor write, and so they don't affect the muse;
Were never caught in epigram or witticism,
Have no romances, sermons, plays, reviews, —
In harams learning soon would make a pretty schism,
But luckily these beauties are no "Blues;"
No bustling Botherbys have they to show 'em
"That charming passage in the last new poem;"

LXXIII.
No solemn, antique gentleman of rhyme,
Who having angled all his life for fame,
And getting but a nibble at a time,
Still fussily keeps fishing on, the same
Small "Triton of the minnows," the sublime
Of mediocrity, the furious tame,
The echo's echo, usher of the school
Of female wits, boy bards — in short, a fool!

LXXIV.
A stalking oracle of awful phrase
The approving "Good!" (By no means good in law,)
Humming like flies around the newest blaze,
The bluest of bluebottles you e'er saw,
Teasing with blame, excruciating with praise,
Gorging the little fame he gets all raw,
Translating tongues he knows not even by letter,
And sweating plays so middling, bad were better.

LXXV.
One hates an author that's all author, fellows
In foolscap uniforms turn'd up with ink,
So very anxious, clever, fine, and jealous,
One do'nt know what to say to them, or think,
Unless to puff them with a pair of bellows;
Of coxcombry's worst coxcombs e'en the pink
Are preferable to these shreds of paper,
These unquench'd snufflings of the midnight taper.

LXXVI.
Of these same we see several, and of others,
Men of the world, who know the world like men,
Scott, Rogers, Moore, and all the better brothers,
Who think of something else besides the pen;
But for the children of the "mighty mother's,"
The would-be wits, and can't-be gentlemen,
I leave them to their daily "tea is ready,"
Smug coterie, and literary lady.

LXXVII.
The poor dear Mussulwomen whom I mention
Have none of these instructive pleasant people,
And one would seem to them a new invention,
Unknown as bells within a Turkish steeple;
I think 't would almost be worth while to pension
(though best-sown projects ver often reap ill)
A missionary author, just to preach
Our Christian usage of the parts of speech.

LXXVIII.
No chemistry for them unfolds her gases,
No metaphysics are let loose in lectures,
No circulating library amasses
Religious novels, moral tales, and strictures
Upon the living manners, as they pass us;
No exhibition glares with annual pictures;
They stare not on the stars from out their attics,
Nor deal (thank God for that!) in mathematics.

LXXIX.
Why I thank God for that is no great matter,
I have my reasons, you no doubt suppose,
And as, perhaps, they would not highly flatter,
I'll keep them for my life (to come) in prose;
I fear I have a little turn for satire,
And yet methinks the older that one grows
Inclines us more to laugh than scold, though laughter
Leaves us no doubly serious shortly after.

LXXX.
Oh, mirth and innocence! Oh, milk and water!
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days!
In these sad centuries of sin and slaughter,
Abominable Man no more allays
His thirst with such pure beverage. No matter,
I love you both, and both shall have my praise;
Oh, for old Saturn's reign of sugar-candy! —
Meantime I drink to your return in brandy.

LXXXI.
Our Laura's Turk still kept his eyes upon her,
Less in the Mussulman than Christian way,
Which seems to say, "Madam, I do you honour,
And while I please to stare, you'll please to stay!"
Could staring win a woman, this had won her,
But Laura could not thus be led astray;
She had stood fire too long and well, is boggle
Even at this stranger's most outlandish ogle.

LXXXII.
The morning now was on the point of breaking
A turn of time at which I would advise
Ladies who have been dancing, or partaking
In any other kind of exercise,
To make their preparations for forsaking
The ball-room ere the sun begins to rise,
Because when once the lamps and candles fail,
His blushes make them look a little pale.

LXXXIII.
I've seen some balls and revels in my time,
And stay'd them over for some silly reason,
And then I look'd (I hope it was no crime)
To see what lady best stood out the season,
And though I've seen some thousands in their prime,
Lovely and pleasing, and who still may please on,
I never saw but one (the stars withdrawn)
Whose bloom could after dancing dare the dawn.

LXXXIV.
The name of this Aurora I'll not mention,
Although I might, for she was nought to me
More than that patent work of God's invention,
A charming woman, whom we like to see;
But writing names would merit reprehension,
Yet if you like to find out this fair she,
At the next London or Parisian ball
You still may mark her cheek out-blooming all.

LXXXV.
Laura, who knew it would not do at all
To meet the daylight after seven hours' sitting
Among three thousand people at a ball,
To make her curtsy thought it right and fitting;
The Count was at her elbow with her shawl,
And they the room were on the point of quitting,
When lo! those cursed gondoliers had got
Just in the very place where they should not.

LXXXVI.
In this they're like our coachmen, and the cause
Is much the same — the crowd, and pulling, hauling,
With blasphemies enough to break their jaws,
They make a never intermitted bawling.
At home, our Bow-street gemmen keep the laws,
And here a sentry stands within your calling;
But for all that, there is a deal of swearing,
And nauseous words past mentioning or bearing.

LXXXVII.
The Count and Laura found their boat at last,
And homeward floated o'er the silent tied,
Discussing all the dances gone and past;
The dancers and their dresses, too, beside;
Some little scandals eke; but all aghast
(As to their palace-stairs the rowers glide)
Sate Laura by the side of her Adorer,
When lo! the Mussulman was there before her.

LXXXVIII.
"Sir," said the Count, with brow exceeding grave,
"Your unexpected presence here will make
It necessary for myself to crave
Its import? But perhaps 'tis a mistake;
I hope it is so; and, at once to waive
All compliment, I hope so for your sake;
You understand my meaning, or you shall,"
"Sir" (quoth the Turk), "'tis no mistake at all:

LXXXIX.
"That lady is my wife!" Much wonder paints
The lady's changing cheek, as well it might;
But where an Englishwoman sometimes faints,
Italian females don't do so outright;
They only call a little on their saints,
And then come to themselves, almost or quite;
Which saves much hartshorn, salts, and sprinkling faces,
And cutting stays, as usual in such cases.

XC.
She said, — what could she say? Why, not a word:
But the Count courteously invited in
The stranger, much appeased by what he heard:
"Such things, perhaps, we'd best discuss within,"
Said he; "don't let us make ourselves absurd
In public, by a scene, nor raise a din,
For then the chief and only satisfaction
Will be much quizzing on the whole transaction."

XCI.
They enter'd, and for coffee call'd — it came,
A beverage for Turks and Christians both,
Although the way they make it's not the same.
Now Laura, much recover'd, or less loth
To speak, cries "Beppo! what's your pagan name?
Bless me! your beard is of amazing growth!
And how came you to keep away so long?
Are you not sensible 't was very wrong?

XCII.
"And are you really, truly, now a Turk?
With any other women did you wive?
Is 't true they use their fingers for a fork?
Well, that's the prettiest shawl — as I'm alive!
You'll give it me? They say you eat no pork.
And how so many years did you contrive
To — Bless me! did I ever? No, I never
Saw a man grown so yellow! How's your liver?

XCIII.
"Beppo! that beard of yours becomes you not;
It shall be shaved before you're a day older:
Why do you wear it? Oh! I had forgot —
Pray don't you think the weather here is colder?
How do I look? You shan't stir from this spot
In that queer dress, for fear that some beholder
Should find you out, and make the story known.
How short your hair is! Lord! how grey it's grown!"

XCIV.
What answer Beppo made to these demands
Is more than I know. He was cast away
About where Troy stood once, and nothing stands;
Became a slave of course, and for his pay
Had bread and bastinadoes, till some bands
Of pirates landing in a neighbouring bay,
He join'd the rogues and prosper'd, and became
A renegado of indifferent fame.

XCV.
But he grew rich, and with his riches grew so
Keen the desire to see his home again,
He thought himself in duty bound to do so,
And not be always thieving on the main;
Lonely he felt, at times, as Robin Crusoe,
And so he hired a vessel come from Spain,
Bound for Corfu: she was a fine polacca,
Mann'd with twelve hands, and laden with tobacco.

XCVI.
Himself, and much (Heaven knows how gotten!) cash,
He then embark'd, with risk of life and limb
And got clear off, although the attempt was rash;
He said that Providence protected him —
For my part, I say nothing — lest we clash
In our opinions: — well, the ship was trim,
Set sail, and kept her reckoning fairly on,
Except three days of calm when off Cape Bonn.

XCVII.
They reach'd the island, he transferr'd his lading
And self and live stock to another bottom,
And pass'd for a true Turkey-merchant, trading
With goods of various names, but I've forgot'em.
However, he got off by this evading,
Or else the people would perhaps have shot him;
And thus at Venice landed to reclaim
His wife, religion, house, and Christian name.

XCVIII.
His wife received, the patriarch re-baptised him
(He made the church a present, by the way);
He then threw off the garments which disguised him,
And borrow'd the Count's small clothes for a day:
His friends the more for his long absence prized him,
Finding he'd wherewithal to make them gay,
With dinners, where he oft became the laugh of them,
For stories — but I don't believe the half of them.

XCIX.
Whate'er his youth had suffer'd, his old age
With wealth and talking made him some amends;
Though Laura sometimes put him in a rage,
I've heard the Count and he were always friends.
My pen is at the bottom of a page,
Which being finish'd, here the story ends;
'Tis to be wish'd it had been sooner done,
But stories somehow lengthen when begun.

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The Victories Of Love. Book I

I
From Frederick Graham

Mother, I smile at your alarms!
I own, indeed, my Cousin's charms,
But, like all nursery maladies,
Love is not badly taken twice.
Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes,
My playmate in the pleasant days
At Knatchley, and her sister, Anne,
The twins, so made on the same plan,
That one wore blue, the other white,
To mark them to their father's sight;
And how, at Knatchley harvesting,
You bade me kiss her in the ring,
Like Anne and all the others? You,
That never of my sickness knew,
Will laugh, yet had I the disease,
And gravely, if the signs are these:

As, ere the Spring has any power,
The almond branch all turns to flower,
Though not a leaf is out, so she
The bloom of life provoked in me;
And, hard till then and selfish, I
Was thenceforth nought but sanctity
And service: life was mere delight
In being wholly good and right,
As she was; just, without a slur;
Honouring myself no less than her;
Obeying, in the loneliest place,
Ev'n to the slightest gesture, grace
Assured that one so fair, so true,
He only served that was so too.
For me, hence weak towards the weak,
No more the unnested blackbird's shriek
Startled the light-leaved wood; on high
Wander'd the gadding butterfly,
Unscared by my flung cap; the bee,
Rifling the hollyhock in glee,
Was no more trapp'd with his own flower,
And for his honey slain. Her power,
From great things even to the grass
Through which the unfenced footways pass,
Was law, and that which keeps the law,
Cherubic gaiety and awe;
Day was her doing, and the lark
Had reason for his song; the dark
In anagram innumerous spelt
Her name with stars that throbb'd and felt;
'Twas the sad summit of delight
To wake and weep for her at night;
She turn'd to triumph or to shame
The strife of every childish game;
The heart would come into my throat
At rosebuds; howsoe'er remote,
In opposition or consent,
Each thing, or person, or event,
Or seeming neutral howsoe'er,
All, in the live, electric air,
Awoke, took aspect, and confess'd
In her a centre of unrest,
Yea, stocks and stones within me bred
Anxieties of joy and dread.

O, bright apocalyptic sky
O'erarching childhood! Far and nigh
Mystery and obscuration none,
Yet nowhere any moon or sun!
What reason for these sighs? What hope,
Daunting with its audacious scope
The disconcerted heart, affects
These ceremonies and respects?
Why stratagems in everything?
Why, why not kiss her in the ring?
'Tis nothing strange that warriors bold,
Whose fierce, forecasting eyes behold
The city they desire to sack,
Humbly begin their proud attack
By delving ditches two miles off,
Aware how the fair place would scoff
At hasty wooing; but, O child,
Why thus approach thy playmate mild?

One morning, when it flush'd my thought
That, what in me such wonder wrought
Was call'd, in men and women, love,
And, sick with vanity thereof,
I, saying loud, ‘I love her,’ told
My secret to myself, behold
A crisis in my mystery!
For, suddenly, I seem'd to be
Whirl'd round, and bound with showers of threads
As when the furious spider sheds
Captivity upon the fly
To still his buzzing till he die;
Only, with me, the bonds that flew,
Enfolding, thrill'd me through and through
With bliss beyond aught heaven can have
And pride to dream myself her slave.

A long, green slip of wilder'd land,
With Knatchley Wood on either hand,
Sunder'd our home from hers. This day
Glad was I as I went her way.
I stretch'd my arms to the sky, and sprang
O'er the elastic sod, and sang
‘I love her, love her!’ to an air
Which with the words came then and there;
And even now, when I would know
All was not always dull and low,
I mind me awhile of the sweet strain
Love taught me in that lonely lane.

Such glories fade, with no more mark
Than when the sunset dies to dark.
They pass, the rapture and the grace
Ineffable, their only trace
A heart which, having felt no less
Than pure and perfect happiness,
Is duly dainty of delight;
A patient, poignant appetite
For pleasures that exceed so much
The poor things which the world calls such,
That, when these lure it, then you may
The lion with a wisp of hay.

That Charlotte, whom we scarcely knew
From Anne but by her ribbons blue,
Was loved, Anne less than look'd at, shows
That liking still by favour goes!
This Love is a Divinity,
And holds his high election free
Of human merit; or let's say,
A child by ladies call'd to play,
But careless of their becks and wiles,
Till, seeing one who sits and smiles
Like any else, yet only charms,
He cries to come into her arms.
Then, for my Cousins, fear me not!
None ever loved because he ought.
Fatal were else this graceful house,
So full of light from ladies' brows.
There's Mary; Heaven in her appears
Like sunshine through the shower's bright tears;
Mildred's of Earth, yet happier far
Than most men's thoughts of Heaven are;
But, for Honoria, Heaven and Earth
Seal'd amity in her sweet birth.
The noble Girl! With whom she talks
She knights first with her smile; she walks,
Stands, dances, to such sweet effect,
Alone she seems to move erect.
The brightest and the chastest brow
Rules o'er a cheek which seems to show
That love, as a mere vague suspense
Of apprehensive innocence,
Perturbs her heart; love without aim
Or object, like the sunlit flame
That in the Vestals' Temple glow'd,
Without the image of a god.
And this simplicity most pure
She sets off with no less allure
Of culture, subtly skill'd to raise
The power, the pride, and mutual praise
Of human personality
Above the common sort so high,
It makes such homely souls as mine
Marvel how brightly life may shine.
How you would love her! Even in dress
She makes the common mode express
New knowledge of what's fit so well
'Tis virtue gaily visible!
Nay, but her silken sash to me
Were more than all morality,
Had not the old, sweet, feverous ill
Left me the master of my will!

So, Mother, feel at rest, and please
To send my books on board. With these,
When I go hence, all idle hours
Shall help my pleasures and my powers.
I've time, you know, to fill my post,
And yet make up for schooling lost
Through young sea-service. They all speak
German with ease; and this, with Greek,
(Which Dr. Churchill thought I knew,)
And history, which I fail'd in too,
Will stop a gap I somewhat dread,
After the happy life I've led
With these my friends; and sweet 'twill be
To abridge the space from them to me.


II
From Mrs. Graham

My Child, Honoria Churchill sways
A double power through Charlotte Hayes.
In minds to first-love's memory pledged
The second Cupid's born full-fledged.
I saw, and trembled for the day
When you should see her beauty, gay
And pure as apple-blooms, that show
Outside a blush and inside snow,
Her high and touching elegance
Of order'd life as free as chance.
Ah, haste from her bewitching side,
No friend for you, far less a bride!
But, warning from a hope so wild,
I wrong you. Yet this know, my Child:
He that but once too nearly hears
The music of forefended spheres,
Is thenceforth lonely, and for all
His days like one who treads the Wall
Of China, and, on this hand, sees
Cities and their civilities,
And, on the other, lions. Well,
(Your rash reply I thus foretell,)
Good is the knowledge of what's fair,
Though bought with temporal despair!
Yes, good for one, but not for two.
Will it content a wife that you
Should pine for love, in love's embrace,
Through having known a happier grace;
And break with inward sighs your rest,
Because, though good, she's not the best?
You would, you think, be just and kind,
And keep your counsel! You will find
You cannot such a secret keep;
'Twill out, like murder, in your sleep;
A touch will tell it, though, for pride,
She may her bitter knowledge hide;
And, while she accepts love's make-believe,
You'll twice despise what you'd deceive.

I send the books. Dear Child, adieu!
Tell me of all you are and do.
I know, thank God, whate'er it be,
'Twill need no veil 'twixt you and me.


III
From Frederick

The multitude of voices blythe
Of early day, the hissing scythe
Across the dew drawn and withdrawn,
The noisy peacock on the lawn,
These, and the sun's eye-gladding gleam,
This morning, chased the sweetest dream
That e'er shed penitential grace
On life's forgetful commonplace;
Yet 'twas no sweeter than the spell
To which I woke to say farewell.

Noon finds me many a mile removed
From her who must not be beloved;
And us the waste sea soon shall part,
Heaving for aye, without a heart!
Mother, what need to warn me so?
I love Miss Churchill? Ah, no, no.
I view, enchanted, from afar,
And love her as I love a star,
For, not to speak of colder fear,
Which keeps my fancy calm, I hear,
Under her life's gay progress hurl'd,
The wheels of the preponderant world,
Set sharp with swords that fool to slay
Who blunders from a poor byway,
To covet beauty with a crown
Of earthly blessing added on;
And she's so much, it seems to me,
Beyond all women womanly,
I dread to think how he should fare
Who came so near as to despair.


IV
From Frederick

Yonder the sombre vessel rides
Where my obscure condition hides.
Waves scud to shore against the wind
That flings the sprinkling surf behind;
In port the bickering pennons show
Which way the ships would gladly go;
Through Edgecumb Park the rooted trees
Are tossing, reckless, in the breeze;
On top of Edgecumb's firm-set tower,
As foils, not foibles, of its power,
The light vanes do themselves adjust
To every veering of the gust:
By me alone may nought be given
To guidance of the airs of heaven?
In battle or peace, in calm or storm,
Should I my daily task perform,
Better a thousand times for love,
Who should my secret soul reprove?

Beholding one like her, a man
Longs to lay down his life! How can
Aught to itself seem thus enough,
When I have so much need thereof?
Blest in her place, blissful is she;
And I, departing, seem to be
Like the strange waif that comes to run
A few days flaming near the sun,
And carries back, through boundless night,
Its lessening memory of light.

Oh, my dear Mother, I confess
To a deep grief of homelessness,
Unfelt, save once, before. 'Tis years
Since such a shower of girlish tears
Disgraced me? But this wretched Inn,
At Plymouth, is so full of din,
Talkings and trampings to and fro.
And then my ship, to which I go
To-night, is no more home. I dread,
As strange, the life I long have led;
And as, when first I went to school,
And found the horror of a rule
Which only ask'd to be obey'd,
I lay and wept, of dawn afraid,
And thought, with bursting heart, of one
Who, from her little, wayward son,
Required obedience, but above
Obedience still regarded love,
So change I that enchanting place,
The abode of innocence and grace
And gaiety without reproof,
For the black gun-deck's louring roof,
Blind and inevitable law
Which makes light duties burdens, awe
Which is not reverence, laughters gain'd
At cost of purities profaned,
And whatsoever most may stir
Remorseful passion towards her,
Whom to behold is to depart
From all defect of life and heart.

But, Mother, I shall go on shore,
And see my Cousin yet once more!
'Twere wild to hope for her, you say.
l've torn and cast those words away.
Surely there's hope! For life 'tis well
Love without hope's impossible;
So, if I love, it is that hope
Is not outside the outer scope
Of fancy. You speak truth: this hour
I must resist, or lose the power.
What! and, when some short months are o'er,
Be not much other than before?
Drop from the bright and virtuous sphere
In which I'm held but while she's dear?
For daily life's dull, senseless mood,
Slay the fine nerves of gratitude
And sweet allegiance, which I owe
Whether the debt be weal or woe?
Nay, Mother, I, forewarn'd, prefer
To want for all in wanting her.

For all? Love's best is not bereft
Ever from him to whom is left
The trust that God will not deceive
His creature, fashion'd to believe
The prophecies of pure desire.
Not loss, not death, my love shall tire.
A mystery does my heart foretell;
Nor do I press the oracle
For explanations. Leave me alone,
And let in me love's will be done.


V
From Frederick

Fashion'd by Heaven and by art
So is she, that she makes the heart
Ache and o'erflow with tears, that grace
So lovely fair should have for place,
(Deeming itself at home the while,)
The unworthy earth! To see her smile
Amid this waste of pain and sin,
As only knowing the heaven within,
Is sweet, and does for pity stir
Passion to be her minister:
Wherefore last night I lay awake,
And said, ‘Ah, Lord, for Thy love's sake,
Give not this darling child of Thine
To care less reverent than mine!’
And, as true faith was in my word,
I trust, I trust that I was heard.

The waves, this morning, sped to land,
And shouted hoarse to touch the strand,
Where Spring, that goes not out to sea,
Lay laughing in her lovely glee;
And, so, my life was sunlit spray
And tumult, as, once more to-day,
For long farewell did I draw near
My Cousin, desperately dear.
Faint, fierce, the truth that hope was none
Gleam'd like the lightning in the sun;
Yet hope I had, and joy thereof.
The father of love is hope, (though love
Lives orphan'd on, when hope is dead,)
And, out of my immediate dread
And crisis of the coming hour,
Did hope itself draw sudden power.
So the still brooding storm, in Spring,
Makes all the birds begin to sing.

Mother, your foresight did not err:
I've lost the world, and not won her.
And yet, ah, laugh not, when you think
What cup of life I sought to drink!
The bold, said I, have climb'd to bliss
Absurd, impossible, as this,
With nought to help them but so great
A heart it fascinates their fate.
If ever Heaven heard man's desire,
Mine, being made of altar-fire,
Must come to pass, and it will be
That she will wait, when she shall see,
This evening, how I go to get,
By means unknown, I know not yet
Quite what, but ground whereon to stand,
And plead more plainly for her hand!

And so I raved, and cast in hope
A superstitious horoscope!
And still, though something in her face
Portended ‘No!’ with such a grace
It burthen'd me with thankfulness,
Nothing was credible but ‘Yes.’
Therefore, through time's close pressure bold,
I praised myself, and boastful told
My deeds at Acre; strain'd the chance
I had of honour and advance
In war to come; and would not see
Sad silence meant, ‘What's this to me.’

When half my precious hour was gone,
She rose to greet a Mr. Vaughan;
And, as the image of the moon
Breaks up, within some still lagoon
That feels the soft wind suddenly,
Or tide fresh flowing from the sea,
And turns to giddy flames that go
Over the water to and fro,
Thus, when he took her hand to-night,
Her lovely gravity of light
Was scatter'd into many smiles
And flattering weakness. Hope beguiles
No more my heart, dear Mother. He,
By jealous looks, o'erhonour'd me.

With nought to do, and fondly fain
To hear her singing once again,
I stay'd, and turn'd her music o'er;
Then came she with me to the door.
‘Dearest Honoria,’ I said,
(By my despair familiar made,)
‘Heaven bless you!’ Oh, to have back then stepp'd
And fallen upon her neck, and wept,
And said, ‘My friend, I owe you all
‘I am, and have, and hope for. Call
For some poor service; let me prove
‘To you, or him here whom you love,
‘My duty. Any solemn task,
For life's whole course, is all I ask!’
Then she must surely have wept too,
And said, ‘My friend, what can you do!’
And I should have replied, ‘I'll pray
For you and him three times a-day,
‘And, all day, morning, noon, and night,
‘My life shall be so high and right
‘That never Saint yet scaled the stairs
‘Of heaven with more availing prayers!’
But this (and, as good God shall bless
Somehow my end, I'll do no less,)
I had no right to speak. Oh, shame,
So rich a love, so poor a claim!

My Mother, now my only friend,
Farewell. The school-books which you send
I shall not want, and so return.
Give them away, or sell, or burn.
I'll write from Malta. Would I might
But be your little Child to-night,
And feel your arms about me fold,
Against this loneliness and cold!


VI
From Mrs. Graham

The folly of young girls! They doff
Their pride to smooth success, and scoff
At far more noble fire and might
That woo them from the dust of fight!

But, Frederick, now the storm is past,
Your sky should not remain o'ercast.
A sea-life's dull, and, oh, beware
Of nourishing, for zest, despair.
My Child, remember, you have twice
Heartily loved; then why not thrice,
Or ten times? But a wise man shuns
To cry ‘All's over,’ more than once.
I'll not say that a young man's soul
Is scarcely measure of the whole
Earthly and heavenly universe,
To which he inveterately prefers
The one beloved woman. Best
Speak to the senses' interest,
Which brooks no mystery nor delay:
Frankly reflect, my Son, and say,
Was there no secret hour, of those
Pass'd at her side in Sarum Close,
When, to your spirit's sick alarm,
It seem'd that all her marvellous charm
Was marvellously fled? Her grace
Of voice, adornment, movement, face
Was what already heart and eye
Had ponder'd to satiety;
And so the good of life was o'er,
Until some laugh not heard before,
Some novel fashion in her hair,
Or style of putting back her chair,
Restored the heavens. Gather thence
The loss-consoling inference.

Yet blame not beauty, which beguiles,
With lovely motions and sweet smiles,
Which while they please us pass away,
The spirit to lofty thoughts that stay
And lift the whole of after-life,
Unless you take the vision to wife,
Which then seems lost, or serves to slake
Desire, as when a lovely lake
Far off scarce fills the exulting eye
Of one athirst, who comes thereby,
And inappreciably sips
The deep, with disappointed lips.
To fail is sorrow, yet confess
That love pays dearly for success!
No blame to beauty! Let's complain
Of the heart, which can so ill sustain
Delight. Our griefs declare our fall,
But how much more our joys! They pall
With plucking, and celestial mirth
Can find no footing on the earth,
More than the bird of paradise,
Which only lives the while it flies.

Think, also, how 'twould suit your pride
To have this woman for a bride.
Whate'er her faults, she's one of those
To whom the world's last polish owes
A novel grace, which all who aspire
To courtliest custom must acquire.
The world's the sphere she's made to charm,
Which you have shunn'd as if 'twere harm.
Oh, law perverse, that loneliness
Breeds love, society success!
Though young, 'twere now o'er late in life
To train yourself for such a wife;
So she would suit herself to you,
As women, when they marry, do.
For, since 'tis for our dignity
Our lords should sit like lords on high,
We willingly deteriorate
To a step below our rulers' state;
And 'tis the commonest of things
To see an angel, gay with wings,
Lean weakly on a mortal's arm!
Honoria would put off the charm
Of lofty grace that caught your love,
For fear you should not seem above
Herself in fashion and degree,
As in true merit. Thus, you see,
'Twere little kindness, wisdom none,
To light your cot with such a sun.


VII
From Frederick

Write not, my Mother, her dear name
With the least word or hint of blame.
Who else shall discommend her choice,
I giving it my hearty voice?
Wed me? Ah, never near her come
The knowledge of the narrow home!
Far fly from her dear face, that shows
The sunshine lovelier than the rose,
The sordid gravity they wear
Who poverty's base burthen bear!
(And all are poor who come to miss
Their custom, though a crown be this.)
My hope was, that the wheels of fate,
For my exceeding need, might wait,
And she, unseen amidst all eyes,
Move sightless, till I sought the prize,
With honour, in an equal field.
But then came Vaughan, to whom I yield
With grace as much as any man,
In such cause, to another can.
Had she been mine, it seems to me
That I had that integrity
And only joy in her delight—
But each is his own favourite
In love! The thought to bring me rest
Is that of us she takes the best.

'Twas but to see him to be sure
That choice for her remain'd no more!
His brow, so gaily clear of craft;
His wit, the timely truth that laugh'd
To find itself so well express'd;
His words, abundant yet the best;
His spirit, of such handsome show
You mark'd not that his looks were so;
His bearing, prospects, birth, all these
Might well, with small suit, greatly please;
How greatly, when she saw arise
The reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and every breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her;
Whilst power and kindness of command,
Which women can no more withstand
Than we their grace, were still unquell'd,
And force and flattery both compell'd
Her softness! Say I'm worthy. I
Grew, in her presence, cold and shy.
It awed me, as an angel's might
In raiment of reproachful light.
Her gay looks told my sombre mood
That what's not happy is not good;
And, just because 'twas life to please,
Death to repel her, truth and ease
Deserted me; I strove to talk,
And stammer'd foolishness; my walk
Was like a drunkard's; if she took
My arm, it stiffen'd, ached, and shook:
A likely wooer! Blame her not;
Nor ever say, dear Mother, aught
Against that perfectness which is
My strength, as once it was my bliss.

And do not chafe at social rules.
Leave that to charlatans and fools.
Clay graffs and clods conceive the rose,
So base still fathers best. Life owes
Itself to bread; enough thereof
And easy days condition love;
And, kindly train'd, love's roses thrive,
No more pale, scentless petals five,
Which moisten the considerate eye
To see what haste they make to die,
But heavens of colour and perfume,
Which, month by month, renew the bloom
Of art-born graces, when the year
In all the natural grove is sere.

Blame nought then! Bright let be the air
About my lonely cloud of care.


VIII
From Frederick

Religion, duty, books, work, friends,—
'Tis good advice, but there it ends.
I'm sick for what these have not got.
Send no more books: they help me not;
I do my work: the void's there still
Which carefullest duty cannot fill.
What though the inaugural hour of right
Comes ever with a keen delight?
Little relieves the labour's heat;
Disgust oft crowns it when complete;
And life, in fact, is not less dull
For being very dutiful.
‘The stately homes of England,’ lo,
‘How beautiful they stand!’ They owe
How much to nameless things like me
Their beauty of security!
But who can long a low toil mend
By looking to a lofty end?
And let me, since 'tis truth, confess
The void's not fill'd by godliness.
God is a tower without a stair,
And His perfection, love's despair.
'Tis He shall judge me when I die;
He suckles with the hissing fly
The spider; gazes calmly down,
Whilst rapine grips the helpless town.
His vast love holds all this and more.
In consternation I adore.
Nor can I ease this aching gulf
With friends, the pictures of myself.

Then marvel not that I recur
From each and all of these to her.
For more of heaven than her have I
No sensitive capacity.
Had I but her, ah, what the gain
Of owning aught but that domain!
Nay, heaven's extent, however much,
Cannot be more than many such;
And, she being mine, should God to me
Say ‘Lo! my Child, I give to thee
All heaven besides,’ what could I then,
But, as a child, to Him complain
That whereas my dear Father gave
A little space for me to have
In His great garden, now, o'erblest,
I've that, indeed, but all the rest,
Which, somehow, makes it seem I've got
All but my only cared-for plot.
Enough was that for my weak hand
To tend, my heart to understand.

Oh, the sick fact, 'twixt her and me
There's naught, and half a world of sea.


IX
From Frederick

In two, in less than two hours more
I set my foot on English shore,
Two years untrod, and, strange to tell,
Nigh miss'd through last night's storm! There fell
A man from the shrouds, that roar'd to quench
Even the billows' blast and drench.
Besides me none was near to mark
His loud cry in the louder dark,
Dark, save when lightning show'd the deeps
Standing about in stony heaps.
No time for choice! A rope; a flash
That flamed as he rose; a dizzy splash;
A strange, inopportune delight
Of mounting with the billowy might,
And falling, with a thrill again
Of pleasure shot from feet to brain;
And both paced deck, ere any knew
Our peril. Round us press'd the crew,
With wonder in the eyes of most.
As if the man who had loved and lost
Honoria dared no more than that!

My days have else been stale and flat.
This life's at best, if justly scann'd,
A tedious walk by the other's strand,
With, here and there cast up, a piece
Of coral or of ambergris,
Which, boasted of abroad, we ignore
The burden of the barren shore.
I seldom write, for 'twould be still
Of how the nerves refuse to thrill;
How, throughout doubly-darken'd days,
I cannot recollect her face;
How to my heart her name to tell
Is beating on a broken bell;
And, to fill up the abhorrent gulf,
Scarce loving her, I hate myself.

Yet, latterly, with strange delight,
Rich tides have risen in the night,
And sweet dreams chased the fancies dense
Of waking life's dull somnolence.
I see her as I knew her, grace
Already glory in her face;
I move about, I cannot rest,
For the proud brain and joyful breast
I have of her. Or else I float,
The pilot of an idle boat,
Alone, alone with sky and sea,
And her, the third simplicity.
Or Mildred, to some question, cries,
(Her merry meaning in her eyes,)
‘The Ball, oh, Frederick will go;
‘Honoria will be there!’ and, lo,
As moisture sweet my seeing blurs
To hear my name so link'd with hers,
A mirror joins, by guilty chance,
Either's averted, watchful glance!
Or with me, in the Ball-Room's blaze,
Her brilliant mildness thrids the maze;
Our thoughts are lovely, and each word
Is music in the music heard,
And all things seem but parts to be
Of one persistent harmony.
By which I'm made divinely bold;
The secret, which she knows, is told;
And, laughing with a lofty bliss
Of innocent accord, we kiss;
About her neck my pleasure weeps;
Against my lip the silk vein leaps;
Then says an Angel, ‘Day or night,
‘If yours you seek, not her delight,
‘Although by some strange witchery
‘It seems you kiss her, 'tis not she;
‘But, whilst you languish at the side
‘Of a fair-foul phantasmal bride,
‘Surely a dragon and strong tower
‘Guard the true lady in her bower.’
And I say, ‘Dear my Lord, Amen!’
And the true lady kiss again.
Or else some wasteful malady
Devours her shape and dims her eye;
No charms are left, where all were rife,
Except her voice, which is her life,
Wherewith she, for her foolish fear,
Says trembling, ‘Do you love me, Dear?’
And I reply, ‘Sweetest, I vow
‘I never loved but half till now.’
She turns her face to the wall at this,
And says, ‘Go, Love, 'tis too much bliss.’
And then a sudden pulse is sent
About the sounding firmament
In smitings as of silver bars;
The bright disorder of the stars
Is solved by music; far and near,
Through infinite distinctions clear,
Their twofold voices' deeper tone
Utters the Name which all things own,
And each ecstatic treble dwells
On one whereof none other tells;
And we, sublimed to song and fire,
Take order in the wheeling quire,
Till from the throbbing sphere I start,
Waked by the heaving of my heart.

Such dreams as these come night by night,
Disturbing day with their delight.
Portend they nothing? Who can tell!
God yet may do some miracle.
'Tis nigh two years, and she's not wed,
Or you would know! He may be dead,
Or mad, and loving some one else,
And she, much moved that nothing quells
My constancy, or, simply wroth
With such a wretch, accept my troth
To spite him; or her beauty's gone,
(And that's my dream!) and this man Vaughan
Takes her release: or tongues malign,
Confusing every ear but mine,
Have smirch'd her: ah, 'twould move her, sure,
To find I loved her all the more!
Nay, now I think, haply amiss
I read her words and looks, and his,
That night! Did not his jealousy
Show—Good my God, and can it be
That I, a modest fool, all blest,
Nothing of such a heaven guess'd?
Oh, chance too frail, yet frantic sweet,
To-morrow sees me at her feet!

Yonder, at last, the glad sea roars
Along the sacred English shores!
There lies the lovely land I know,
Where men and women lordliest grow;
There peep the roofs where more than kings
Postpone state cares to country things,
And many a gay queen simply tends
The babes on whom the world depends;
There curls the wanton cottage smoke
Of him that drives but bears no yoke;
There laughs the realm where low and high
Are lieges to society.
And life has all too wide a scope,
Too free a prospect for its hope,
For any private good or ill,
Except dishonour, quite to fill!
—Mother, since this was penn'd, I've read
That ‘Mr. Vaughan, on Tuesday, wed
‘The beautiful Miss Churchill.’ So
That's over; and to-morrow I go
To take up my new post on board
The ‘Wolf,’ my peace at last restored;
My lonely faith, like heart-of-oak,
Shock-season'd. Grief is now the cloak
I clasp about me to prevent
The deadly chill of a content
With any near or distant good,
Except the exact beatitude
Which love has shown to my desire.
Talk not of ‘other joys and higher,’
I hate and disavow all bliss
As none for me which is not this.
Think not I blasphemously cope
With God's decrees, and cast off hope.
How, when, and where can mine succeed?
I'll trust He knows who made my need.

Baseness of men! Pursuit being o'er,
Doubtless her Husband feels no more
The heaven of heavens of such a Bride,
But, lounging, lets her please his pride
With fondness, guerdons her caress
With little names, and turns a tress
Round idle fingers. If 'tis so,
Why then I'm happier of the two!
Better, for lofty loss, high pain,
Than low content with lofty gain.
Poor, foolish Dove, to trust from me
Her happiness and dignity!


X
From Frederick

I thought the worst had brought me balm:
'Twas but the tempest's central calm.
Vague sinkings of the heart aver
That dreadful wrong is come to her,
And o'er this dream I brood and dote,
And learn its agonies by rote.
As if I loved it, early and late
I make familiar with my fate,
And feed, with fascinated will,
On very dregs of finish'd ill.
I think, she's near him now, alone,
With wardship and protection none;
Alone, perhaps, in the hindering stress
Of airs that clasp him with her dress,
They wander whispering by the wave;
And haply now, in some sea-cave,
Where the ribb'd sand is rarely trod,
They laugh, they kiss. Oh, God! oh, God!
There comes a smile acutely sweet
Out of the picturing dark; I meet
The ancient frankness of her gaze,
That soft and heart-surprising blaze
Of great goodwill and innocence,
And perfect joy proceeding thence!
Ah! made for earth's delight, yet such
The mid-sea air's too gross to touch.
At thought of which, the soul in me
Is as the bird that bites a bee,
And darts abroad on frantic wing,
Tasting the honey and the sting;
And, moaning where all round me sleep
Amidst the moaning of the deep,
I start at midnight from my bed—
And have no right to strike him dead.

What world is this that I am in,
Where chance turns sanctity to sin!
'Tis crime henceforward to desire
The only good; the sacred fire
That sunn'd the universe is hell!
I hear a Voice which argues well:
‘The Heaven hard has scorn'd your cry;
‘Fall down and worship me, and I
‘Will give you peace; go and profane
‘This pangful love, so pure, so vain,
‘And thereby win forgetfulness
‘And pardon of the spirit's excess,
‘Which soar'd too nigh that jealous Heaven
‘Ever, save thus, to be forgiven.
‘No Gospel has come down that cures
‘With better gain a loss like yours.
‘Be pious! Give the beggar pelf,
‘And love your neighbour as yourself!
‘You, who yet love, though all is o'er,
‘And she'll ne'er be your neighbour more,
‘With soul which can in pity smile
‘That aught with such a measure vile
‘As self should be at all named 'love!'
‘Your sanctity the priests reprove;
‘Your case of grief they wholly miss;
‘The Man of Sorrows names not this.
‘The years, they say, graff love divine
‘On the lopp'd stock of love like thine;
‘The wild tree dies not, but converts.
‘So be it; but the lopping hurts,
‘The graff takes tardily! Men stanch
‘Meantime with earth the bleeding branch,
‘There's nothing heals one woman's loss,
‘And lighten's life's eternal cross
‘With intermission of sound rest,
‘Like lying in another's breast.
‘The cure is, to your thinking, low!
‘Is not life all, henceforward, so?’

Ill Voice, at least thou calm'st my mood.
I'll sleep! But, as I thus conclude,
The intrusions of her grace dispel
The comfortable glooms of hell.

A wonder! Ere these lines were dried,
Vaughan and my Love, his three-days' Bride,
Became my guests. I look'd, and, lo,
In beauty soft as is the snow
And powerful as the avalanche,
She lit the deck. The Heav'n-sent chance!
She smiled, surprised. They came to see
The ship, not thinking to meet me.

At infinite distance she's my day:
What then to him? Howbeit they say
'Tis not so sunny in the sun
But men might live cool lives thereon!

All's well; for I have seen arise
That reflex sweetness of her eyes
In his, and watch'd his breath defer
Humbly its bated life to her,
His wife. My Love, she's safe in his
Devotion! What ask'd I but this?

They bade adieu; I saw them go
Across the sea; and now I know
The ultimate hope I rested on,
The hope beyond the grave, is gone,
The hope that, in the heavens high,
At last it should appear that I
Loved most, and so, by claim divine,
Should have her, in the heavens, for mine,
According to such nuptial sort
As may subsist in the holy court,
Where, if there are all kinds of joys
To exhaust the multitude of choice
In many mansions, then there are
Loves personal and particular,
Conspicuous in the glorious sky
Of universal charity,
As Phosphor in the sunrise. Now
I've seen them, I believe their vow
Immortal; and the dreadful thought,
That he less honour'd than he ought
Her sanctity, is laid to rest,
And, blessing them, I too am blest.
My goodwill, as a springing air,
Unclouds a beauty in despair;
I stand beneath the sky's pure cope
Unburthen'd even by a hope;
And peace unspeakable, a joy
Which hope would deaden and destroy,
Like sunshine fills the airy gulf
Left by the vanishing of self.
That I have known her; that she moves
Somewhere all-graceful; that she loves,
And is belov'd, and that she's so
Most happy, and to heaven will go,
Where I may meet with her, (yet this
I count but accidental bliss,)
And that the full, celestial weal
Of all shall sensitively feel
The partnership and work of each,
And thus my love and labour reach
Her region, there the more to bless
Her last, consummate happiness,
Is guerdon up to the degree
Of that alone true loyalty
Which, sacrificing, is not nice
About the terms of sacrifice,
But offers all, with smiles that say,
'Tis little, but it is for aye!


XI
From Mrs. Graham

You wanted her, my Son, for wife,
With the fierce need of life in life.
That nobler passion of an hour
Was rather prophecy than power;
And nature, from such stress unbent,
Recurs to deep discouragement.
Trust not such peace yet; easy breath,
In hot diseases, argues death;
And tastelessness within the mouth
Worse fever shows than heat or drouth.
Wherefore take, Frederick, timely fear
Against a different danger near:
Wed not one woman, oh, my Child,
Because another has not smiled!
Oft, with a disappointed man,
The first who cares to win him can;
For, after love's heroic strain,
Which tired the heart and brought no gain,
He feels consoled, relieved, and eased
To meet with her who can be pleased
To proffer kindness, and compute
His acquiescence for pursuit;
Who troubles not his lonely mood;
And asks for love mere gratitude.
Ah, desperate folly! Yet, we know,
Who wed through love wed mostly so.

At least, my Son, when wed you do,
See that the woman equals you,
Nor rush, from having loved too high,
Into a worse humility.
A poor estate's a foolish plea
For marrying to a base degree.
A woman grown cannot be train'd,
Or, if she could, no love were gain'd;
For, never was a man's heart caught
By graces he himself had taught.
And fancy not 'tis in the might
Of man to do without delight;
For, should you in her nothing find
To exhilarate the higher mind,
Your soul would deaden useless wings
With wickedness of lawful things,
And vampire pleasure swift destroy
Even the memory of joy.
So let no man, in desperate mood,
Wed a dull girl because she's good.
All virtues in his wife soon dim,
Except the power of pleasing him,
Which may small virtue be, or none!

I know my just and tender Son,
To whom the dangerous grace is given
That scorns a good which is not heaven;
My Child, who used to sit and sigh
Under the bright, ideal sky,
And pass, to spare the farmer's wheat,
The poppy and the meadow-sweet!
He would not let his wife's heart ache
For what was mainly his mistake;
But, having err'd so, all his force
Would fix upon the hard, right course.

She's graceless, say, yet good and true,
And therefore inly fair, and, through
The veils which inward beauty fold,
Faith can her loveliness behold.
Ah, that's soon tired; faith falls away
Without the ceremonial stay
Of outward loveliness and awe.
The weightier matters of the law
She pays: mere mint and cumin not;
And, in the road that she was taught,
She treads, and takes for granted still
Nature's immedicable ill;
So never wears within her eyes
A false report of paradise,
Nor ever modulates her mirth
With vain compassion of the earth,
Which made a certain happier face
Affecting, and a gayer grace
With pathos delicately edged!
Yet, though she be not privileged
To unlock for you your heart's delight,
(Her keys being gold, but not the right,)
On lower levels she may do!
Her joy is more in loving you
Than being loved, and she commands
All tenderness she understands.
It is but when you proffer more
The yoke weighs heavy and chafes sore.
It's weary work enforcing love
On one who has enough thereof,
And honour on the lowlihead
Of ignorance! Besides, you dread,
In Leah's arms, to meet the eyes
Of Rachel, somewhere in the skies,
And both return, alike relieved,
To life less loftily conceived.
Alas, alas!

Then wait the mood
In which a woman may be woo'd
Whose thoughts and habits are too high
For honour to be flattery,
And who would surely not allow
The suit that you could proffer now.
Her equal yoke would sit with ease;
It might, with wearing, even please,
(Not with a better word to move
The loyal wrath of present love);
She would not mope when you were gay,
For want of knowing aught to say;
Nor vex you with unhandsome waste
Of thoughts ill-timed and words ill-placed;
Nor reckon small things duties small,
And your fine sense fantastical;
Nor would she bring you up a brood
Of strangers bound to you by blood,
Boys of a meaner moral race,
Girls with their mother's evil grace,
But not her chance to sometimes find
Her critic past his judgment kind;
Nor, unaccustom'd to respect,
Which men, where 'tis not claim'd, neglect,
Confirm you selfish and morose,
And slowly, by contagion, gross;
But, glad and able to receive
The honour you would long to give,
Would hasten on to justify
Expectancy, however high,
Whilst you would happily incur
Compulsion to keep up with her.


XII
From Frederick

Your letter, Mother, bears the date
Of six months back, and comes too late.
My Love, past all conceiving lost,
A change seem'd good, at any cost,
From lonely, stupid, silent grief,
Vain, objectless, beyond relief,
And, like a sea-fog, settled dense
On fancy, feeling, thought, and sense.
I grew so idle, so despised
Myself, my powers, by Her unprized,
Honouring my post, but nothing more,
And lying, when I lived on shore,
So late of mornings: weak tears stream'd
For such slight cause,—if only gleam'd,
Remotely, beautifully bright,
On clouded eves at sea, the light
Of English headlands in the sun,—
That soon I deem'd 'twere better done
To lay this poor, complaining wraith
Of unreciprocated faith:
And so, with heart still bleeding quick,
But strengthen'd by the comfort sick
Of knowing that She could not care,
I turn'd away from my despair,
And told our chaplain's daughter, Jane,—
A dear, good girl, who saw my pain,
And look'd as if she pitied me,—
How glad and thankful I should be
If some kind woman, not above
Myself in rank, would give her love
To one that knew not how to woo.
Whereat she, without more ado,
Blush'd, spoke of love return'd, and closed
With what she thought I had proposed.

And, trust me, Mother, I and Jane,
We suit each other well. My gain
Is very great in this good Wife,
To whom I'm bound, for natural life,
By hearty faith, yet crossing not
My faith towards—I know not what!
As to the ether is the air,
Is her good to Honoria's fair;
One place is full of both, yet each
Lies quite beyond the other's reach
And recognition.

If you say,
Am I contented? Yea and nay!
For what's base but content to grow
With less good than the best we know?
But think me not from life withdrawn,
By passion for a hope that's gone,
So far as to forget how much
A woman is, as merely such,
To man's affection. What is best,
In each, belongs to all the rest;
And though, in marriage, quite to kiss
And half to love the custom is,
'Tis such dishonour, ruin bare,
The soul's interior despair,
And life between two troubles toss'd,
To me, who think not with the most;
Whatever 'twould have been, before
My Cousin's time, 'tis now so sore
A treason to the abiding throne
Of that sweet love which I have known,
I cannot live so, and I bend
My mind perforce to comprehend
That He who gives command to love
Does not require a thing above
The strength He gives. The highest degree
Of the hardest grace, humility;
The step t'ward heaven the latest trod,
And that which makes us most like God,
And us much more than God behoves,
Is, to be humble in our loves.
Henceforth for ever therefore I
Renounce all partiality
Of passion. Subject to control
Of that perspective of the soul
Which God Himself pronounces good,
Confirming claims of neighbourhood,
And giving man, for earthly life,
The closest neighbour in a wife,
I'll serve all. Jane be much more dear
Than all as she is much more near!
I'll love her! Yea, and love's joy comes
Ever from self-love's martyrdoms!

Yet, not to lie for God, 'tis true
That 'twas another joy I knew
When freighted was my heart with fire
Of fond, irrational desire
For fascinating, female charms,
And hopeless heaven in Her mild arms.
Nor wrong I any, if I profess
That care for heaven with me were less
But that I'm utterly imbued
With faith of all Earth's hope renew'd
In realms where no short-coming pains
Expectance, and dear love disdains
Time's treason, and the gathering dross,
And lasts for ever in the gloss
Of newness.

All the bright past seems,
Now, but a splendour in my dreams,
Which shows, albeit the dreamer wakes,
The standard of right life. Life aches
To be therewith conform'd; but, oh,
The world's so stolid, dark, and low!
That and the mortal element
Forbid the beautiful intent,
And, like the unborn butterfly,
It feels the wings, and wants the sky.

But perilous is the lofty mood
Which cannot yoke with lowly good.
Right life, for me, is life that wends
By lowly ways to lofty ends.
I well perceive, at length, that haste
T'ward heaven itself is only waste;
And thus I dread the impatient spur
Of aught that speaks too plain of Her.
There's little here that story tells;
But music talks of nothing else.
Therefore, when music breathes, I say,
(And urge my task,) Away, away!
Thou art the voice of one I knew,
But what thou say'st is not yet true;
Thou art the voice of her I loved,
And I would not be vainly moved.

So that which did from death set free
All things, now dons death's mockery,
And takes its place with things that are
But little noted. Do not mar
For me your peace! My health is high.
The proud possession of mine eye
Departed, I am much like one
Who had by haughty custom grown
To think gilt rooms, and spacious grounds,
Horses, and carriages, and hounds,
Fine linen, and an eider bed
As much his need as daily bread,
And honour of men as much or more.
Till, strange misfortune smiting sore,
His pride all goes to pay his debts,
A lodging anywhere he gets,
And takes his family thereto
Weeping, and other relics few,
Allow'd, by them that seize his pelf,
As precious only to himself.
Yet the sun shines; the country green
Has many riches, poorly seen
From blazon'd coaches; grace at meat
Goes well with thrift in what they eat;
And there's amends for much bereft
In better thanks for much that's left!

Jane is not fair, yet pleases well
The eye in which no others dwell;
And features somewhat plainly set,
And homely manners leave her yet
The crowning boon and most express
Of Heaven's inventive tenderness,
A woman. But I do her wrong,
Letting the world's eyes guide my tongue!
She has a handsomeness that pays
No homage to the hourly gaze,
And dwells not on the arch'd brow's height
And lids which softly lodge the light,
Nor in the pure field of the cheek
Flow'rs, though the soul be still to seek;
But shows as fits that solemn place
Whereof the window is the face:
Blankness and leaden outlines mark
What time the Church within is dark;
Yet view it on a Festal night,
Or some occasion else for light,
And each ungainly line is seen
A special character to mean
Of Saint or Prophet, and the whole
Blank window is a living scroll.

For hours, the clock upon the shelf,
Has all the talking to itself;
But to and fro her needle runs
Twice, while the clock is ticking once;
And, when a wife is well in reach,
Not silence separates, but speech;
And I, contented, read, or smoke,
And idly think, or idly stroke
The winking cat, or watch the fire,
In social peace that does not tire;
Until, at easeful end of day,
She moves, and puts her work away,
And, saying ‘How cold 'tis,’ or ‘How warm,’
Or something else as little harm,
Comes, used to finding, kindly press'd,
A woman's welcome to my breast,
With all the great advantage clear
Of none else having been so near.

But sometimes, (how shall I deny!)
There falls, with her thus fondly by,
Dejection, and a chilling shade.
Remember'd pleasures, as they fade,
Salute me, and colossal grow,
Like foot-prints in the thawing snow.
I feel oppress'd beyond my force
With foolish envy and remorse.
I love this woman, but I might
Have loved some else with more delight;
And strange it seems of God that He
Should make a vain capacity.

Such times of ignorant relapse,
'Tis well she does not talk, perhaps.
The dream, the discontent, the doubt,
To some injustice flaming out,
Were't else, might leave us both to moan
A kind tradition overthrown,
And dawning promise once more dead
In the pernicious lowlihead
Of not aspiring to be fair.
And what am I, that I should dare
Dispute with God, who moulds one clay
To honour and shame, and wills to pay
With equal wages them that delve
About His vines one hour or twelve!


XIII
From Lady Clitheroe To Mary Churchill

I've dreadful news, my Sister dear!
Frederick has married, as we hear,
Oh, such a girl! This fact we get
From Mr. Barton, whom we met
At Abury once. He used to know,
At Race and Hunt, Lord Clitheroe,
And writes that he ‘has seen Fred Graham,
‘Commander of the 'Wolf,'—the same
‘The Mess call'd Joseph,—with his Wife
‘Under his arm.’ He ‘lays his life,
‘The fellow married her for love,
For there was nothing else to move.
‘H. is her Shibboleth. 'Tis said
Her Mother was a Kitchen-Maid.’

Poor Fred! What will Honoria say?
She thought so highly of him. Pray
Tell it her gently. I've no right,
I know you hold, to trust my sight;
But Frederick's state could not be hid!
And Felix, coming when he did,
Was lucky; for Honoria, too,
Was half in love. How warm she grew
On ‘worldliness,’ when once I said
I fancied that, in ladies, Fred
Had tastes much better than his means!
His hand was worthy of a Queen's,
Said she, and actually shed tears
The night he left us for two years,
And sobb'd, when ask'd the cause to tell,
That ‘Frederick look'd so miserable.’
He did look very dull, no doubt,
But such things girls don't cry about.

What weathercocks men always prove!
You're quite right not to fall in love.
I never did, and, truth to tell,
I don't think it respectable.
The man can't understand it, too.
He likes to be in love with you,
But scarce knows how, if you love him,
Poor fellow. When 'tis woman's whim
To serve her husband night and day,
The kind soul lets her have her way!
So, if you wed, as soon you should,
Be selfish for your husband's good.
Happy the men who relegate
Their pleasures, vanities, and state
To us. Their nature seems to be
To enjoy themselves by deputy,
For, seeking their own benefit,
Dear, what a mess they make of it!
A man will work his bones away,
If but his wife will only play;
He does not mind how much he's teased,
So that his plague looks always pleased;
And never thanks her, while he lives,
For anything, but what he gives!
'Tis hard to manage men, we hear!
Believe me, nothing's easier, Dear.
The most important step by far
Is finding what their colours are.
The next is, not to let them know
The reason why they love us so.
The indolent droop of a blue shawl,
Or gray silk's fluctuating fall,
Covers the multitude of sins
In me. Your husband, Love, might wince
At azure, and be wild at slate,
And yet do well with chocolate.
Of course you'd let him fancy he
Adored you for your piety.


XIV
From Jane To Her Mother

Dear Mother, as you write, I see
How glad and thankful I should be
For such a husband. Yet to tell
The truth, I am so miserable!
How could he—I remember, though,
He never said he loved me! No,
He is so right that all seems wrong
I've done and thought my whole life long!
I'm grown so dull and dead with fear
That Yes and No, when he is near,
Is all I have to say. He's quite
Unlike what most would call polite,
And yet, when first I saw him come
To tea in Aunt's fine drawing-room,
He made me feel so common! Oh,
How dreadful if he thinks me so!
It's no use trying to behave
To him. His eye, so kind and grave,
Sees through and through me! Could not you,
Without his knowing that I knew,
Ask him to scold me now and then?
Mother, it's such a weary strain
The way he has of treating me
As if 'twas something fine to be
A woman; and appearing not
To notice any faults I've got!
I know he knows I'm plain, and small,
Stupid, and ignorant, and all
Awkward and mean; and, by degrees,
I see a beauty which he sees,
When often he looks strange awhile,
Then recollects me with a smile.

I wish he had that fancied Wife,
With me for Maid, now! all my life
To dress her out for him, and make
Her looks the lovelier for his sake;
To have her rate me till I cried;
Then see her seated by his side,
And driven off proudly to the Ball;
Then to stay up for her, whilst all
The servants were asleep; and hear
At dawn the carriage rolling near,
And let them in; and hear her laugh,
And boast, he said that none was half
So beautiful, and that the Queen,
Who danced with him the first, had seen
And noticed her, and ask'd who was
That lady in the golden gauze?
And then to go to bed, and lie
In a sort of heavenly jealousy,
Until 'twas broad day, and I guess'd
She slept, nor knew how she was bless'd.

Pray burn this letter. I would not
Complain, but for the fear I've got
Of going wild, as we hear tell
Of people shut up in a cell,
With no one there to talk to. He
Must never know he is loved by me
The most; he'd think himself to blame;
And I should almost die for shame.

If being good would serve instead
Of being graceful, ah, then, Fred—
But I, myself, I never could
See what's in women's being good;
For all their goodness is to do
Just what their nature tells them to.
Now, when a man would do what's right,
He has to try with all his might.

Though true and kind in deed and word,
Fred's not a vessel of the Lord.
But I have hopes of him; for, oh,
How can we ever surely know
But that the very darkest place
May be the scene of saving grace!


XV
From Frederick

‘How did I feel?’ The little wight
Fill'd me, unfatherly, with fright!
So grim it gazed, and, out of the sky,
There came, minute, remote, the cry,
Piercing, of original pain.
I put the wonder back to Jane,
And her delight seem'd dash'd, that I,
Of strangers still by nature shy,
Was not familiar quite so soon
With her small friend of many a moon.
But, when the new-made Mother smiled,
She seem'd herself a little child,
Dwelling at large beyond the law
By which, till then, I judged and saw;
And that fond glow which she felt stir
For it, suffused my heart for her;
To whom, from the weak babe, and thence
To me, an influent innocence,
Happy, reparative of life,
Came, and she was indeed my wife,
As there, lovely with love she lay,
Brightly contented all the day
To hug her sleepy little boy,
In the reciprocated joy
Of touch, the childish sense of love,
Ever inquisitive to prove
Its strange possession, and to know
If the eye's report be really so.


XVI
From Jane To Mrs. Graham

Dear Mother,—such if you'll allow,
In love, not law, I'll call you now,—
I hope you're well. I write to say
Frederick has got, besides his pay,
A good appointment in the Docks;
Also to thank you for the frocks
And shoes for Baby. I, (D.V.,)
Shall soon be strong. Fred goes to sea
No more. I am so glad; because,
Though kinder husband never was,
He seems still kinder to become
The more he stays with me at home.
When we are parted, I see plain
He's dull till he gets used again
To marriage. Do not tell him, though;
I would not have him know I know,
For all the world.

I try to mind
All your advice; but sometimes find
I do not well see how. I thought
To take it about dress; so bought
A gay new bonnet, gown, and shawl;
But Frederick was not pleased at all;
For, though he smiled, and said, ‘How smart!’
I feel, you know, what's in his heart.
But I shall learn! I fancied long
That care in dress was very wrong,
Till Frederick, in his startling way,
When I began to blame, one day,
The Admiral's Wife, because we hear
She spends two hours, or something near,
In dressing, took her part, and said
How all things deck themselves that wed;
How birds and plants grow fine to please
Each other in their marriages;
And how (which certainly is true—
It never struck me—did it you?)
Dress was, at first, Heaven's ordinance,
And has much Scripture countenance.
For Eliezer, we are told,
Adorn'd with jewels and with gold
Rebecca. In the Psalms, again,
How the King's Daughter dress'd! And, then,
The Good Wife in the Proverbs, she
Made herself clothes of tapestry,
Purple and silk: and there's much more
I had not thought about before!
But Fred's so clever! Do you know,
Since Baby came, he loves me so!
I'm really useful, now, to Fred;
And none could do so well instead.
It's nice to fancy, if I died,
He'd miss me from the Darling's side!
Also, there's something now, you see,
On which we talk, and quite agree;
On which, without pride too, I can
Hope I'm as wise as any man.
I should be happy now, if quite
Sure that in one thing Fred was right.
But, though I trust his prayers are said,
Because he goes so late to bed,
I doubt his Calling. Glad to find
A text adapted to his mind,—
That where St. Paul, in Man and Wife,
Allows a little worldly life,—
He smiled, and said that he knew all
Such things as that without St. Paul!
And once he said, when I with pain
Had got him just to read Romaine,
‘Men's creeds should not their hopes condemn.
Who wait for heaven to come to them
‘Are little like to go to heaven,
‘If logic's not the devil's leaven!’
I cried at such a wicked joke,
And he, surprised, went out to smoke.

But to judge him is not for me,
Who myself sin so dreadfully
As half to doubt if I should care
To go to heaven, and he not there.
He must be right; and I dare say
I shall soon understand his way.
To other things, once strange, I've grown
Accustom'd, nay, to like. I own
'Twas long before I got well used
To sit, while Frederick read or mused
For hours, and scarcely spoke. When he
For all that, held the door to me,
Pick'd up my handkerchief, and rose
To set my chair, with other shows
Of honour, such as men, 'tis true,
To sweethearts and fine ladies do,
It almost seem'd an unkind jest;
But now I like these ways the best.
They somehow make me gentle and good;
And I don't mind his quiet mood.
If Frederick does seem dull awhile,
There's Baby. You should see him smile!
I'm pretty and nice to him, sweet Pet,
And he will learn no better yet:
Indeed, now little Johnny makes
A busier time of it, and takes
Our thoughts off one another more,
I'm happy as need be, I'm sure!


XVII
From Felix To Honoria

Let me, Beloved, while gratitude
Is garrulous with coming good,
Or ere the tongue of happiness
Be silenced by your soft caress,
Relate how, musing here of you,
The cl

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The Third Monarchy, being the Grecian, beginning under Alexander the Great in the 112. Olympiad.

Great Alexander was wise Philips son,
He to Amyntas, Kings of Macedon;
The cruel proud Olympias was his Mother,
She to Epirus warlike King was daughter.
This Prince (his father by Pausanias slain)
The twenty first of's age began to reign.
Great were the Gifts of nature which he had,
His education much to those did adde:
By art and nature both he was made fit,
To 'complish that which long before was writ.
The very day of his Nativity
To ground was burnt Dianaes Temple high:
An Omen to their near approaching woe,
Whose glory to the earth this king did throw.
His Rule to Greece he scorn'd should be confin'd,
The Universe scarce bound his proud vast mind.
This is the He-Goat which from Grecia came,
That ran in Choler on the Persian Ram,
That brake his horns, that threw him on the ground
To save him from his might no man was found:
Philip on this great Conquest had an eye,
But death did terminate those thoughts so high.
The Greeks had chose him Captain General,
Which honour to his Son did now befall.
(For as Worlds Monarch now we speak not on,
But as the King of little Macedon)
Restless both day and night his heart then was,
His high resolves which way to bring to pass;
Yet for a while in Greece is forc'd to stay,
Which makes each moment seem more then a day.
Thebes and stiff Athens both 'gainst him rebel,
Their mutinies by valour doth he quell.
This done against both right and natures Laws,
His kinsmen put to death, who gave no cause;
That no rebellion in in his absence be,
Nor making Title unto Sovereignty.
And all whom he suspects or fears will climbe,
Now taste of death least they deserv'd in time,
Nor wonder is t if he in blood begin,
For Cruelty was his parental sin,
Thus eased now of troubles and of fears,
Next spring his course to Asia he steers;
Leavs Sage Antipater, at home to sway,
And through the Hellispont his Ships made way.
Coming to Land, his dart on shore he throws,
Then with alacrity he after goes;
And with a bount'ous heart and courage brave,
His little wealth among his Souldiers gave.
And being ask'd what for himself was left,
Reply'd, enough, sith only hope he kept.
Thirty two thousand made up his Foot force,
To which were joyn'd five thousand goodly horse.
Then on he marcht, in's way he view'd old Troy,
And on Achilles tomb with wondrous joy
He offer'd, and for good success did pray
To him, his Mothers Ancestors, (men say)
When news of Alexander came to Court,
To scorn at him Darius had good sport;
Sends him a frothy and contemptuous Letter,
Stiles him disloyal servant, and no better;
Reproves him for his proud audacity
To lift his hand 'gainst such a Monarchy.
Then to's Lieftenant he in Asia sends
That he be ta'ne alive, for he intends
To whip him well with rods, and so to bring
That boy so mallipert before the King.
Ah! fond vain man, whose pen ere while
In lower terms was taught a higher stile.
To River Granick Alexander hyes
Which in Phrygia near Propontike lyes.
The Persians ready for encounter stand,
And strive to keep his men from off the land;
Those banks so steep the Greeks yet scramble up,
And beat the coward Persians from the top,
And twenty thousand of their lives bereave,
Who in their backs did all their wounds receive.
This victory did Alexander gain,
With loss of thirty four of his there slain;
Then Sardis he, and Ephesus did gain,
VVhere stood of late, Diana's wondrous Phane,
And by Parmenio (of renowned Fame,)
Miletus and Pamphilia overcame.
Hallicarnassus and Pisidia
He for his Master takes with Lycia.
Next Alexander marcht towards the black Sea,
And easily takes old Gordium in his way;
Of Ass ear'd Midas, once the Regal Seat,
VVhose touch turn'd all to gold, yea even his meat
VVhere the Prophetick knot he cuts in twain,
VVhich who so doth, must Lord of all remain.
Now news of Memnon's death (the Kings Viceroy)
To Alexanders heart's no little joy,
For in that Peer, more valour did abide,
Then in Darius multitude beside:
In's stead, was Arses plac'd, but durst not stay,
Yet set one in his room, and ran away;
His substitute as fearfull as his master,
Runs after two, and leaves all to Disaster.
Then Alexander all Cilicia takes,
No stroke for it he struck, their hearts so quakes.
To Greece he thirty thousand talents sends,
To raise more Force to further his intends:
Then o're he goes Darius now to meet,
Who came with thousand thousands at his feet.
Though some there be (perhaps) more likely write
He but four hundred thousand had to fight,
The rest Attendants, which made up no less,
Both Sexes there was almost numberless.
For this wise King had brought to see the sport,
With him the greatest Ladyes of the Court,
His mother, his beauteous Queen and daughters,
It seems to see the Macedonian slaughters.
Its much beyond my time and little art,
To shew how great Darius plaid his part;
The splendor and the pomp he marched in,
For since the world was no such Pageant seen.
Sure 'twas a goodly sight there to behold,
The Persians clad in silk, and glistering gold,
The stately horses trapt, the lances gilt,
As if addrest now all to run a tilt.
The holy fire was borne before the host,
(For Sun and Fire the Persians worship most)
The Priests in their strange habit follow after,
An object, not so much of fear as laughter.
The King sate in a chariot made of gold,
With crown and Robes most glorious to behold,
And o're his head his golden Gods on high,
Support a party coloured Canopy.
A number of spare horses next were led,
Lest he should need them in his Chariots stead;
But those that saw him in this state to lye,
Suppos'd he neither meant to fight nor flye.
He fifteen hundred had like women drest;
For thus to fright the Greeks he judg'd was best.
Their golden ornaments how to set forth,
Would ask more time then was their bodies worth
Great Sysigambis she brought up the Reer,
Then such a world of waggons did appear,
Like several houses moving upon wheels,
As if she'd drawn whole Shushan at her heels:
This brave Virago to the King was mother,
And as much good she did as any other.
Now lest this gold, and all this goodly stuff
Had not been spoyle and booty rich enough
A thousand mules and Camels ready wait
Loaden with gold, with jewels and with plate:
For sure Darius thought at the first sight,
The Greeks would all adore, but none would fight
But when both Armies met, he might behold
That valour was more worth then pearls or gold,
And that his wealth serv'd but for baits to 'lure
To make his overthrow more fierce and sure.
The Greeks came on and with a gallant grace
Let fly their arrows in the Persians face.
The cowards feeling this sharp stinging charge
Most basely ran, and left their king at large:
Who from his golden coach is glad to 'light,
And cast away his crown for swifter flight:
Of late like some immoveable he lay,
Now finds both legs and horse to run away.
Two hundred thousand men that day were slain,
And forty thousand prisoners also tane,
Besides the Queens and Ladies of the court,
If Curtius be true in his report.
The Regal Ornaments were lost, the treasure
Divided at the Macedonians pleasure;
Yet all this grief, this loss, this overthrow,
Was but beginning of his future woe.
The royal Captives brought to Alexander
T'ward them demean'd himself like a Commander
For though their beauties were unparaled,
Conquer'd himself now he had conquered,
Preserv'd their honour, us'd them bounteously,
Commands no man should doe them injury:
And this to Alexander is more fame
Then that the Persian King he overcame.
Two hundred eighty Greeks he lost in fight,
By too much heat, not wounds (as authors write)
No sooner had this Victor won the field,
But all Phenicia to his pleasure yield,
Of which the Goverment he doth commit
Unto Parmenio of all most fit.
Darius now less lofty then before,
To Alexander writes he would restore
Those mournfull Ladies from Captivity,
For whom he offers him a ransome high:
But down his haughty stomach could not bring,
To give this Conquerour the Stile of King.
This Letter Alexander doth disdain,
And in short terms sends this reply again,
A King he was, and that not only so,
But of Darius King, as he should know.
Next Alexander unto Tyre doth goe,
His valour and his victoryes they know:
To gain his love the Tyrians intend,
Therefore a crown and great Provision send,
Their present he receives with thankfullness,
Desires to offer unto Hercules,
Protector of their town, by whom defended,
And from whom he lineally descended.
But they accept not this in any wise,
Lest he intend more fraud then sacrifice,
Sent word that Hercules his temple stood
In the old town, (which then lay like a wood)
With this reply he was so deep enrag'd,
To win the town, his honour he ingag'd:
And now as Babels King did once before,
He leaves not till he made the sea firm shore,
But far less time and cost he did expend,
The former Ruines forwarded his end:
Moreover had a Navy at command,
The other by his men fetcht all by land.
In seven months time he took that wealthy town,
Whose glory now a second time's brought down.
Two thousand of the chief he crucifi'd,
Eight thousand by the sword then also di'd,
And thirteen thousand Gally slaves he made,
And thus the Tyrians for mistrust were paid.
The rule of this he to Philotas gave
Who was the son of that Parmenio brave.
Cilicia to Socrates doth give,
For now's the time Captains like Kings may live.
Zidon he on Ephestion bestowes;
(For that which freely comes, as freely goes)
He scorns to have one worse then had the other,
So gives his little Lordship to another.
Ephestion having chief command of th'Fleet,
At Gaza now must Alexander meet.
Darius finding troubles still increase,
By his Ambassadors now sues for peace,
And layes before great Alexanders eyes
The dangers difficultyes like to rise,
First at Euphrates what he's like to 'bide,
And then at Tygris and Araxis side,
These he may scape, and if he so desire,
A league of friendship make firm and entire.
His eldest daughter he in mariage profers,
And a most princely dowry with her offers.
All those rich Kingdomes large that do abide
Betwixt the Hellespont and Halys side.
But he with scorn his courtesie rejects,
And the distressed King no whit respects,
Tells him, these proffers great, in truth were none
For all he offers now was but his own.
But quoth Parmenio that brave Commander,
Was I as great, as is great Alexander,
Darius offers I would not reject,
But th'kingdomes and the Lady soon accept.
To which proud Alexander made reply,
And so if I Parmenio was, would I.
He now to Gaza goes, and there doth meet,
His Favorite Ephestion with his Fleet,
Where valiant Betis stoutly keeps the town,
(A loyal Subject to Darius Crown)
For more repulse the Grecians here abide
Then in the Persian Monarchy beside;
And by these walls so many men were slain,
That Greece was forc'd to yield supply again.
But yet this well defended Town was taken,
For 'twas decree'd, that Empire should be shaken;
Thus Betis ta'en had holes bor'd through his feet,
And by command was drawn through every street
To imitate Achilles in his shame,
Who did the like to Hector (of more fame)
What hast thou lost thy magnimity,
Can Alexander deal thus cruelly?
Sith valour with Heroicks is renown'd,
Though in an Enemy it should be found;
If of thy future fame thou hadst regard,
Why didst not heap up honours and reward?
From Gaza to Jerusalem he goes,
But in no hostile way, (as I suppose)
Him in his Priestly Robes high Jaddus meets,
Whom with great reverence Alexander greets;
The Priest shews him good Daniel's Prophesy,
How he should overthrow this Monarchy,
By which he was so much encouraged,
No future dangers he did ever dread.
From thence to fruitful Egypt marcht with speed,
Where happily in's wars he did succeed;
To see how fast he gain'd was no small wonder,
For in few dayes he brought that Kingdome under.
Then to the Phane of Jupiter he went,
To be install'd a God, was his intent.
The Pagan Priest through hire, or else mistake,
The Son of Jupiter did streight him make:
He Diobolical must needs remain,
That his humanity will not retain.
Thence back to Egypt goes, and in few dayes;
Fair Alexandria from the ground doth raise;
Then setling all things in less Asia;
In Syria, Egypt, and Phenicia,
Unto Euphrates marcht and overgoes,
For no man's there his Army to oppose;
Had Betis now been there but with his band,
Great Alexander had been kept from Land.
But as the King, so is the multitude,
And now of valour both are destitute.
Yet he (poor prince) another Host doth muster,
Of Persians, Scythians, Indians in a cluster;
Men but in shape and name, of valour none
Most fit, to blunt the Swords of Macedon.
Two hundred fifty thousand by account,
Of Horse and Foot his Army did amount;
For in his multitudes his trust still lay,
But on their fortitude he had small stay;
Yet had some hope that on the spacious plain,
His numbers might the victory obtain.
About this time Darius beautious Queen,
Who had sore travail and much sorrow seen,
Now bids the world adue, with pain being spent,
Whose death her Lord full sadly did lament.
Great Alexander mourns as well as he,
The more because not set at liberty;
When this sad news (at first Darius hears,
Some injury was offered he fears:
But when inform'd how royally the King,
Had used her, and hers, in every thing,
He prays the immortal Gods they would reward
Great Alexander for this good regard;
And if they down his Monarchy will throw,
Let them on him this dignity bestow.
And now for peace he sues as once before,
And offers all he did and Kingdomes more;
His eldest daughter for his princely bride,
(Nor was such match in all the world beside)
And all those Countryes which (betwixt) did lye
Phanisian Sea, and great Euphrates high:
With fertile Egypt and rich Syria,
And all those Kingdomes in less Asia.
With thirty thousand Talents to be paid,
For the Queen Mother, and the royal maid;
And till all this be well perform'd, and sure,
Ochus his Son for Hostage should endure.
To this stout Alexander gives no ear,
No though Parmenio plead, yet will not hear;
Which had he done. (perhaps) his fame he'd kept,
Nor Infamy had wak'd, when he had slept,
For his unlimited prosperity
Him boundless made in vice and Cruelty.
Thus to Darius he writes back again,
The Firmament, two Suns cannot contain.
Two Monarchyes on Earth cannot abide,
Nor yet two Monarchs in one world reside;
The afflicted King finding him set to jar,
Prepares against to morrow, for the war,
Parmenio, Alexander, wisht that night,
To force his Camp, so vanquish them by flight.
For tumult in the night doth cause most dread,
And weakness of a Foe is covered,
But he disdain'd to steal a victory:
The Sun should witness of his valour be,
And careless in his bed, next morne he lyes,
By Captains twice is call'd before hee'l rise,
The Armyes joyn'd a while, the Persians fight,
And spilt the Greeks some bloud before their flight
But long they stood not e're they're forc'd to run,
So made an end, As soon as well begun.
Forty five thousand Alexander had,
But is not known what slaughter here was made,
Some write th'other had a million, some more,
But Quintus Curtius as before.
At Arbela this victory was gain'd,
Together with the Town also obtain'd;
Darius stript of all to Media came,
Accompan'ed with sorrow, fear, and shame,
At Arbela left his Ornaments and Treasure,
Which Alexander deals as suits his pleasure.
This conqueror to Babylon then goes,
Is entertain'd with joy and pompous showes,
With showrs of flours the streets along are strown,
And incense burnt the silver Altars on.
The glory of the Castle he admires,
The strong Foundation and the lofty Spires,
In this, a world of gold and Treasure lay,
Which in few hours was carried all away.
With greedy eyes he views this City round,
Whose fame throughout the world was so renownd
And to possess he counts no little bliss
The towres and bowres of proud Semiramis,
Though worne by time, and rac'd by foes full sore,
Yet old foundations shew'd and somewhat more.
With all the pleasures that on earth are found,
This city did abundantly abound,
Where four and thirty dayes he now did stay,
And gave himself to banqueting and play:
He and his souldiers wax effeminate,
And former discipline begin to hate.
Whilst revelling at Babylon he lyes,
Antipater from Greece sends fresh supplyes.
He then to Shushan goes with his new bands,
But needs no force, tis rendred to his hands.
He likewise here a world of treasure found;
For 'twas the seat of Persian Kings renownd.
Here stood the royal Houses of delight,
Where Kings have shown their glory wealth and might
The sumptuous palace of Queen Esther here,
And of good Mordicai, her kinsman dear,
Those purple hangings, mixt with green and white
Those beds of gold, and couches of delight.
And furniture the richest in all lands,
Now fall into the Macedonians hands.
From Shushan to Persipolis he goes,
Which news doth still augment Darius woes.
In his approach the governour sends word,
For his receipt with joy they all accord,
With open gates the wealthy town did stand,
And all in it was at his high command.
Of all the Cities that on earth was found,
None like to this in riches did abound:
Though Babylon was rich and Shushan too
Yet to compare with this they might not doe:
Here lay the bulk of all those precious things
That did pertain unto the Persian Kings:
For when the souldiers rifled had their pleasure,
And taken money plate and golden treasure,
Statues some gold, and silver numberless,
Yet after all, as storyes do express
The share of Alexander did amount
To an hundred thousand talents by account.
Here of his own he sets a Garison,
(As first at Shushan and at Babylon)
On their old Governours titles he laid,
But on their faithfulness he never staid,
Their place gave to his Captains (as was just)
For such revolters false, what King can trust?
The riches and the pleasures of this town
Now makes this King his virtues all to drown,
That wallowing in all licentiousness,
In pride and cruelty to high excess.
Being inflam'd with wine upon a season,
Filled with madness, and quite void of reason,
He at a bold proud strumpets leud desire,
Commands to set this goodly town on fire.
Parmenio wise intreats him to desist
And layes before his eyes if he persist
His fames dishonour, loss unto his state,
And just procuring of the Persians hate:
But deaf to reason, bent to have his will,
Those stately streets with raging flame did fill.
Then to Darius he directs his way,
Who was retir'd as far as Media,
And there with sorrows, fears & cares surrounded
Had now his army fourth and last compounded.
Which forty thousand made, but his intent
Was these in Bactria soon to augment:
But hearing Alexander was so near,
Thought now this once to try his fortunes here,
And rather chose an honourable death,
Then still with infamy to draw his breath:
But Bessus false, who was his chief Commander
Perswades him not to fight with Alexander.
With sage advice he sets before his eyes
The little hope of profit like to rise:
If when he'd multitudes the day he lost,
Then with so few, how likely to be crost.
This counsel for his safety he pretended,
But to deliver him to's foe intended.
Next day this treason to Darius known
Transported sore with grief and passion,
Grinding his teeth, and plucking off his hair,
Sate overwhelm'd with sorrow and dispair:
Then bids his servant Artabasus true,
Look to himself, and leave him to that crew,
Who was of hopes and comforts quite bereft,
And by his guard and Servitors all left.
Straight Bessus comes, & with his trait'rous hands
Layes hold on's Lord, and binding him with bands
Throws him into a Cart, covered with hides,
Who wanting means t'resist these wrongs abides,
Then draws the cart along with chains of gold,
In more despight the thraled prince to hold,
And thus t'ward Alexander on he goes,
Great recompence for this, he did propose:
But some detesting this his wicked fact,
To Alexander flyes and tells this act,
Who doubling of his march, posts on amain,
Darius from that traitors hands to gain.
Bessus gets knowledg his disloyalty
Had Alexanders wrath incensed high,
Whose army now was almost within sight,
His hopes being dasht prepares himself for flight:
Unto Darius first he brings a horse,
And bids him save himself by speedy course:
The wofull King his courtesie refuses,
Whom thus the execrable wretch abuses,
By throwing darts gave him his mortal wound,
Then slew his Servants that were faithfull found,
Yea wounds the beasts that drew him unto death,
And leaves him thus to gasp out his last breath.
Bessus his partner in this tragedy,
Was the false Governour of Media.
This done, they with their host soon speed away,
To hide themselves remote in Bactria.
Darius bath'd in blood, sends out his groans,
Invokes the heav'ns and earth to hear his moans:
His lost felicity did grieve him sore,
But this unheard of treachery much more:
But above all, that neither Ear nor Eye
Should hear nor see his dying misery;
As thus he lay, Polistrates a Greek,
Wearied with his long march, did water seek,
So chanc'd these bloudy Horses to espy,
Whose wounds had made their skins of purple dye
To them repairs then looking in the Cart,
Finds poor Darius pierced to the heart,
Who not a little chear'd to have some eye,
The witness of this horrid Tragedy;
Prays him to Alexander to commend
The just revenge of this his woful end:
And not to pardon such disloyalty,
Of Treason, Murther, and base Cruelty.
If not, because Darius thus did pray,
Yet that succeeding Kings in safety may
Their lives enjoy, their Crowns and dignity,
And not by Traitors hands untimely dye.
He also sends his humble thankfulness,
For all the Kingly grace he did express;
To's Mother, Children dear, and wife now gone.
Which made their long restraint seem to be none:
Praying the immortal Gods, that Sea and Land
Might be subjected to his royal hand,
And that his Rule as far extended be,
As men the rising, setting Sun shall see,
This said, the Greek for water doth intreat,
To quench his thirst, and to allay his heat:
Of all good things (quoth he) once in my power,
I've nothing left, at this my dying hour;
Thy service and compassion to reward,
But Alexander will, for this regard.
This said, his fainting breath did fleet away,
And though a Monarch late, now lyes like clay;
And thus must every Son of Adam lye,
Though Gods on Earth like Sons of men they dye.
Now to the East, great Alexander goes,
To see if any dare his might oppose,
For scarce the world or any bounds thereon,
Could bound his boundless fond Ambition;
Such as submits again he doth restore
Their riches, and their honours he makes more,
On Artabaces more then all bestow'd,
For his fidelity to's Master show'd.
Thalestris Queen of th'Amazons now brought
Her Train to Alexander, (as 'tis thought.)
Though most of reading best and soundest mind,
Such Country there, nor yet such people find.
Then tell her errand, we had better spare
To th'ignorant, her title will declare:
As Alexander in his greatness grows,
So dayly of his virtues doth he lose.
He baseness counts, his former Clemency,
And not beseeming such a dignity;
His past sobriety doth also bate,
As most incompatible to his State;
His temperance is but a sordid thing,
No wayes becoming such a mighty King;
His greatness now he takes to represent
His fancy'd Gods above the Firmament.
And such as shew'd but reverence before,
Now are commanded strictly to adore;
With Persian Robes himself doth dignifie,
Charging the same on his nobility,
His manners habit, gestures, all did fashion
After that conquer'd and luxurious Nation.
His Captains that were virtuously inclin'd,
Griev'd at this change of manners and of mind.
The ruder sort did openly deride,
His feigned Diety and foolish pride;
The certainty of both comes to his Ears,
But yet no notice takes of what he hears:
With those of worth he still desires esteem,
So heaps up gifts his credit to redeem
And for the rest new wars and travails finds,
That other matters might take up their minds,
And hearing Bessus, makes himself a King,
Intends that Traitor to his end to bring.
Now that his Host from luggage might be free,
And with his burthen no man burthened be;
Commands forthwith each man his fardle bring,
Into the market place before the King;
VVhich done, sets fire upon those goodly spoyles,
The recompence of travails wars and toyles.
And thus unwisely in a mading fume,
The wealth of many Kingdomes did consume,
But marvell 'tis that without mutiny,
The Souldiers should let pass this injury;
Nor wonder less to Readers may it bring,
Here to observe the rashness of the King.
Now with his Army doth he post away
False Bessus to find out in Bactria:
But much distrest for water in their march,
The drought and heat their bodies sore did parch.
At length they came to th'river Oxus brink,
Where so immoderately these thirsty drink,
Which more mortality to them did bring,
Then all their warrs against the Persian King.
Here Alexander's almost at a stand,
To pass the River to the other land.
For boats here's none, nor near it any wood,
To make them Rafts to waft them o're the flood:
But he that was resolved in his mind,
Would without means some transportation find.
Then from the Carriages the hides he takes,
And stuffing them with straw, he bundles makes.
On these together ti'd, in six dayes space,
They all pass over to the other place.
Had Bessus had but valour to his will,
With little pain there might have kept them still:
But Coward durst not fight, nor could he fly,
Hated of all for's former treachery,
Is by his own now bound in iron chains,
A Coller of the same, his neck contains.
And in this sort they rather drag then bring
This Malefactor vile before the King,
Who to Darius brother gives the wretch,
With racks and tortures every limb to stretch.
Here was of Greeks a town in Bactria,
Whom Xerxes from their Country led away,
These not a little joy'd, this day to see,
Wherein their own had got the sov'raignty
And now reviv'd, with hopes held up their head
From bondage long to be Enfranchised.
But Alexander puts them to the sword
Without least cause from them in deed or word;
Nor Sex, nor age, nor one, nor other spar'd,
But in his cruelty alike they shar'd:
Nor reason could he give for this great wrong,
But that they had forgot their mother tongue.
While thus some time he spent in Bactria,
And in his camp strong and securely lay,
Down from the mountains twenty thousand came
And there most fiercely set upon the same:
Repelling these, two marks of honour got
Imprinted in his leg, by arrows shot.
The Bactrians against him now rebel;
But he their stubborness in time doth quell.
From hence he to Jaxartis River goes,
Where Scythians rude his army doth oppose,
And with their outcryes in an hideous sort
Beset his camp, or military court,
Of darts and arrows, made so little spare,
They flew so thick, they seem'd to dark the air:
But soon his souldiers forc'd them to a flight,
Their nakedness could not endure their might.
Upon this rivers bank in seventeen dayes
A goodly City doth compleatly raise,
Which Alexandria he doth likewise name,
And sixty furlongs could but round the same.
A third Supply Antipater now sent,
Which did his former forces much augment;
And being one hundred twenty thousand strong;
He enters then the Indian Kings among:
Those that submit, he gives them rule again,
Such as do not, both them and theirs are slain.
His warrs with sundry nations I'le omit,
And also of the Mallians what is writ.
His Fights, his dangers, and the hurts he had,
How to submit their necks at last they're glad.
To Nisa goes by Bacchus built long since,
Whose feasts are celebrated by this prince;
Nor had that drunken god one who would take
His Liquors more devoutly for his sake.
When thus ten days his brain with wine he'd soakt,
And with delicious meats his palate choakt:
To th'River Indus next his course he bends,
Boats to prepare, Ephestion first he sends,
Who coming thither long before his Lord,
Had to his mind made all things to accord,
The vessels ready were at his command,
And Omphis King of that part of the land,
Through his perswasion Alexander meets,
And as his Sov'raign Lord him humbly greets
Fifty six Elephants he brings to's hand,
And tenders him the strength of all his land;
Presents himself first with a golden crown,
Then eighty talents to his captains down:
But Alexander made him to behold
He glory sought, no silver nor no gold;
His presents all with thanks he did restore,
And of his own a thousand talents more.
Thus all the Indian Kings to him submit,
But Porus stout, who will not yeild as yet:
To him doth Alexander thus declare,
His pleasure is that forthwith he repair
Unto his Kingdomes borders, and as due,
His homage to himself as Soveraign doe:
But kingly Porus this brave answer sent,
That to attend him there was his intent,
And come as well provided as he could,
But for the rest, his sword advise him should.
Great Alexander vext at this reply,
Did more his valour then his crown envy,
Is now resolv'd to pass Hydaspes flood,
And there by force his soveraignty make good.
Stout Porus on the banks doth ready stand
To give him welcome when he comes to land.
A potent army with him like a King,
And ninety Elephants for warr did bring:
Had Alexander such resistance seen
On Tygris side, here now he had not been.
Within this spacious River deep and wide
Did here and there Isles full of trees abide.
His army Alexander doth divide
With Ptolemy sends part to th'other side;
Porus encounters them and thinks all's there,
When covertly the rest get o're else where,
And whilst the first he valiantly assail'd,
The last set on his back, and so prevail'd.
Yet work enough here Alexander found,
For to the last stout Porus kept his ground:
Nor was't dishonour at the length to yield,
When Alexander strives to win the field.
The kingly Captive 'fore the Victor's brought,
In looks or gesture not abased ought,
But him a Prince of an undaunted mind
Did Alexander by his answers find:
His fortitude his royal foe commends,
Restores him and his bounds farther extends.
Now eastward Alexander would goe still,
But so to doe his souldiers had no will,
Long with excessive travails wearied,
Could by no means be farther drawn or led,
Yet that his fame might to posterity
Be had in everlasting memory,
Doth for his Camp a greater circuit take,
And for his souldiers larger Cabbins make.
His mangers he erected up so high
As never horse his Provender could eye.
Huge bridles made, which here and there he left,
Which might be found, and for great wonders kept
Twelve altars then for monuments he rears,
Whereon his acts and travels long appears.
But doubting wearing time might these decay,
And so his memory would fade away,
He on the fair Hydaspes pleasant side,
Two Cities built, his name might there abide,
First Nicea, the next Bucephalon,
Where he entomb'd his stately Stalion.
His fourth and last supply was hither sent,
Then down Hydaspes with his Fleet he went;
Some time he after spent upon that shore,
Whether Ambassadors, ninety or more,
Came with submission from the Indian Kings,
Bringing their presents rare, and precious things,
These all he feasts in state on beds of gold,
His Furniture most sumptuous to behold;
His meat & drink, attendants, every thing,
To th'utmost shew'd the glory of a King.
With rich rewards he sent them home again,
Acknowledged their Masters sovereign;
Then sailing South, and coming to that shore,
Those obscure Nations yielded as before:
A City here he built, call'd by his Name,
Which could not sound too oft with too much fame
Then sailing by the mouth of Indus floud,
His Gallyes stuck upon the flats and mud;
Which the stout Macedonians amazed sore,
Depriv'd at once the use of Sail and Oar:
Observing well the nature of the Tide,
In those their fears they did not long abide.
Passing fair Indus mouth his course he steer'd
To th'coast which by Euphrates mouth appear'd;
Whose inlets near unto, he winter spent,
Unto his starved Souldiers small content,
By hunger and by cold so many slain,
That of them all the fourth did scarce remain.
Thus winter, Souldiers, and provisions spent,
From hence he then unto Gedrosia went.
And thence he marcht into Carmania,
And so at length drew near to Persia,
Now through these goodly Countryes as he past,
Much time in feasts and ryoting did waste;
Then visits Cyrus Sepulchre in's way,
Who now obscure at Passagardis lay:
Upon his Monument his Robe he spread,
And set his Crown on his supposed head.
From hence to Babylon, some time there spent,
He at the last to royal Shushan went;
A wedding Feast to's Nobles then he makes,
And Statyra, Darius daughter takes,
Her Sister gives to his Ephestian dear,
That by this match he might be yet more near;
He fourscore Persian Ladies also gave,
At this same time unto his Captains brave:
Six thousand guests unto this Feast invites,
Whose Sences all were glutted with delights.
It far exceeds my mean abilities
To shadow forth these short felicities,
Spectators here could scarce relate the story,
They were so rapt with this external glory:
If an Ideal Paradise a man would frame,
He might this Feast imagine by the same;
To every guess a cup of gold he sends,
So after many dayes the Banquet ends.
Now Alexanders conquests all are done,
And his long Travails past and overgone;
His virtues dead, buried, and quite forgot,
But vice remains to his Eternal blot.
'Mongst those that of his cruelty did tast,
Philotus was not least, nor yet the last,
Accus'd because he did not certifie
The King of treason and conspiracy:
Upon suspition being apprehended,
Nothing was prov'd wherein he had offended
But silence, which was of such consequence,
He was judg'd guilty of the same offence,
But for his fathers great deserts the King
His royal pardon gave for this foul thing.
Yet is Phylotas unto judgment brought,
Must suffer, not for what is prov'd, but thought.
His master is accuser, judge and King,
Who to the height doth aggravate each thing,
Inveighs against his father now absent,
And's brethren who for him their lives had spent.
But Philotas his unpardonable crime,
No merit could obliterate, or time:
He did the Oracle of Jove deride,
By which his Majesty was diefi'd.
Philotas thus o'recharg'd with wrong and grief
Sunk in despair without hope of Relief,
Fain would have spoke and made his own defence,
The King would give no ear, but went from thence
To his malicious Foes delivers him,
To wreak their spight and hate on every limb.
Philotas after him sends out this cry,
O Alexander, thy free clemency
My foes exceeds in malice, and their hate
Thy kingly word can easily terminate.
Such torments great as wit could worst invent,
Or flesh and life could bear, till both were spent
Were now inflicted on Parmenio's son
He might accuse himself, as they had done,
At last he did, so they were justifi'd,
And told the world, that for his guilt he di'd.
But how these Captains should, or yet their master
Look on Parmenio, after this disaster
They knew not, wherefore best now to be done,
Was to dispatch the father as the son.
This sound advice at heart pleas'd Alexander,
Who was so much ingag'd to this Commander,
As he would ne're confess, nor yet reward,
Nor could his Captains bear so great regard:
Wherefore at once, all these to satisfie,
It was decreed Parmenio should dye:
Polidamus, who seem'd Parmenio's friend
To do this deed they into Media send:
He walking in his garden to and fro,
Fearing no harm, because he none did doe,
Most wickedly was slain without least crime,
(The most renowned captain of his time)
This is Parmenio who so much had done
For Philip dead, and his surviving son,
Who from a petty King of Macedon
By him was set upon the Persian throne,
This that Parmenio who still overcame,
Yet gave his Master the immortal fame,
Who for his prudence, valour, care and trust
Had this reward, most cruel and unjust.
The next, who in untimely death had part,
Was one of more esteem, but less desert;
Clitus belov'd next to Ephestian,
And in his cups his chief companion;
When both were drunk, Clitus was wont to jeer,
Alexander to rage, to kill, and swear;
Nothing more pleasing to mad Clitus tongue,
Then's Masters Godhead to defie and wrong;
Nothing toucht Alexander to the quick,
Like this against his Diety to kick:
Both at a Feast when they had tippled well,
Upon this dangerous Theam fond Clitus fell;
From jest to earnest, and at last so bold,
That of Parmenio's death him plainly told.
Which Alexanders wrath incens'd so high,
Nought but his life for this could satisfie;
From one stood by he snatcht a partizan,
And in a rage him through the body ran,
Next day he tore his face for what he'd done,
And would have slain himself for Clitus gone:
This pot Companion he did more bemoan,
Then all the wrongs to brave Parmenio done.
The next of worth that suffered after these,
Was learned, virtuous, wise Calisthenes,
VVho lov'd his Master more then did the rest,
As did appear, in flattering him the least;
In his esteem a God he could not be,
Nor would adore him for a Diety:
For this alone and for no other cause,
Against his Sovereign, or against his Laws,
He on the Rack his Limbs in pieces rent,
Thus was he tortur'd till his life was spent.
Of this unkingly act doth Seneca
This censure pass, and not unwisely say,
Of Alexander this th'eternal crime,
VVhich shall not be obliterate by time.
VVhich virtues fame can ne're redeem by far,
Nor all felicity of his in war.
VVhen e're 'tis said he thousand thousands slew,
Yea, and Calisthenes to death he drew.
The mighty Persian King he overcame,
Yea, and he kill'd Calistthenes of fame.
All Countryes, Kingdomes, Provinces, he wan
From Hellispont, to th'farthest Ocean.
All this he did, who knows' not to be true?
But yet withal, Catisthenes he slew.
From Macedon, his Empire did extend
Unto the utmost bounds o' th'orient:
All this he did, yea, and much more, 'tis true,
But yet withal, Catisthenes he slew.
Now Alexander goes to Media,
Finds there the want of wise Parmenio;
Here his chief favourite Ephestian dies,
He celebrates his mournful obsequies:
Hangs his Physitian, the Reason why
He suffered, his friend Ephestian dye.
This act (me-thinks) his Godhead should a shame,
To punish where himself deserved blame;
Or of necessity he must imply,
The other was the greatest Diety.
The Mules and Horses are for sorrow shorne,
The battlements from off the walls are torne.
Of stately Ecbatane who now must shew,
A rueful face in this so general woe;
Twelve thousand Talents also did intend,
Upon a sumptuous monument to spend:
What e're he did, or thought not so content,
His messenger to Jupiter he sent,
That by his leave his friend Ephestion,
Among the Demy Gods they might inthrone.
From Media to Babylon he went,
To meet him there t'Antipater he'd sent,
That he might act also upon the Stage,
And in a Tragedy there end his age.
The Queen Olimpias bears him deadly hate,
Not suffering her to meddle with the State,
And by her Letters did her Son incite,
This great indignity he should requite;
His doing so, no whit displeas'd the King,
Though to his Mother he disprov'd the thing.
But now Antipater had liv'd so long,
He might well dye though he had done no wrong;
His service great is suddenly forgot,
Or if remembred, yet regarded not:
The King doth intimate 'twas his intent,
His honours and his riches to augment;
Of larger Provinces the rule to give,
And for his Counsel near the King to live.
So to be caught, Antipater's too wise,
Parmenio's death's too fresh before his eyes;
He was too subtil for his crafty foe.
Nor by his baits could be insnared so:
But his excuse with humble thanks he sends,
His Age and journy long he then pretends;
And pardon craves for his unwilling stay,
He shews his grief, he's forc'd to disobey.
Before his Answer came to Babylon,
The thread of Alexanders life was spun;
Poyson had put an end to's dayes ('twas thought)
By Philip and Cassander to him brought,
Sons to Antipater, and bearers of his Cup,
Lest of such like their Father chance to sup;
By others thought, and that more generally,
That through excessive drinking he did dye:
The thirty third of's Age do all agree,
This Conquerour did yield to destiny.
When this sad news came to Darius Mother,
She laid it more to heart, then any other,
Nor meat, nor drink, nor comfort would she take,
But pin'd in grief till life did her forsake;
All friends she shuns, yea, banished the light,
Till death inwrapt her in perpetual night.
This Monarchs fame must last whilst world doth stand,
And Conquests be talkt of whilest there is land;
His Princely qualities had he retain'd,
Unparalled for ever had remain'd.
But with the world his virtues overcame,
And so with black beclouded, all his fame;
Wise Aristotle Tutor to his youth.
Had so instructed him in moral Truth:
The principles of what he then had learn'd
Might to the last (when sober) be discern'd.
Learning and learned men he much regarded,
And curious Artist evermore rewarded:
The Illiads of Homer he still kept.
And under's pillow laid them when he slept.
Achilles happiness he did envy,
'Cause Homer kept his acts to memory.
Profusely bountifull without desert,
For such as pleas'd him had both wealth and heart
Cruel by nature and by custome too,
As oft his acts throughout his reign doth shew:
Ambitious so, that nought could satisfie,
Vain, thirsting after immortality,
Still fearing that his name might hap to dye,
And fame not last unto eternity.
This Conqueror did oft lament (tis said)
There were no more worlds to be conquered.
This folly great Augustus did deride,
For had he had but wisdome to his pride,
He would had found enough there to be done,
To govern that he had already won.
His thoughts are perisht, he aspires no more,
Nor can he kill or save as heretofore.
A God alive, him all must Idolize,
Now like a mortal helpless man he lyes.
Of all those Kingdomes large which he had got,
To his Posterity remain'd no jot;
For by that hand which still revengeth bloud,
None of his kindred, nor his race long stood:
But as he took delight much bloud to spill,
So the same cup to his, did others fill.
Four of his Captains now do all divide,
As Daniel before had prophysi'd.
The Leopard down, the four wings 'gan to rise,
The great horn broke, the less did tyranize.
What troubles and contentions did ensue
We may hereafter shew in season due.
Aridæus.
Great Alexander dead, his Armyes left,
Like to that Giant of his Eye bereft;
When of his monstrous bulk it was the guide,
His matchless force no creature could abide.
But by Ulisses having lost his sight,
All men began streight to contemn his might;
For aiming still amiss, his dreadful blows
Did harm himself, but never reacht his Foes.
Now Court and Camp all in confusion be,
A King they'l have, but who, none can agree;
Each Captain wisht this prize to bear away,
But none so hardy found as so durst say:
Great Alexander did leave Issue none,
Except by Artabasus daughter one;
And Roxane fair whom late he married,
Was near her time to be delivered.
By natures right these had enough to claim,
But meaness of their mothers bar'd the same,
Alledg'd by those who by their subtile Plea
Had hope themselves to bear the Crown away.
A Sister Alexander had, but she
Claim'd not, perhaps, her Sex might hindrance be.
After much tumult they at last proclaim'd
His base born brother Aridæus nam'd,
That so under his feeble wit and reign,
Their ends they might the better still attain.
This choice Perdiccas vehemently disclaim'd,
And Babe unborn of Roxane he proclaim'd;
Some wished him to take the style of King,
Because his Master gave to him his Ring,
And had to him still since Ephestion di'd
More then to th'rest his favour testifi'd.
But he refus'd, with feigned modesty,
Hoping to be elect more generally.
He hold on this occasion should have laid,
For second offer there was never made.
'Mongst these contentions, tumults, jealousies,
Seven dayes the corps of their great master lies
Untoucht, uncovered slighted and neglected,
So much these princes their own ends respected:
A Contemplation to astonish Kings,
That he who late possest all earthly things,
And yet not so content unless that he
Might be esteemed for a Diety;
Now lay a Spectacle to testifie,
The wretchedness of mans mortality.
After some time, when stirs began to calm,
His body did the Egyptians embalme;
His countenance so lively did appear,
That for a while they durst not come so near:
No sign of poyson in his intrails sound,
But all his bowels coloured, well and sound.
Perdiccas seeing Arideus must be King,
Under his name began to rule each thing.
His chief Opponent who Control'd his sway,
Was Meleager whom he would take away,
And by a wile he got him in his power,
So took his life unworthily that hour.
Using the name, and the command of th'King
To authorize his acts in every thing.
The princes seeing Perdiccas power and pride,
For their security did now provide.
Antigonus for his share Asia takes,
And Ptolemy next sure of Egypt makes:
Seleucus afterward held Babylon,
Antipater had long rul'd Macedon.
These now to govern for the king pretends,
But nothing less each one himself intends.
Perdiccas took no province like the rest,
But held command of th'Army (which was best)
And had a higher project in his head,
His Masters sister secretly to wed:
So to the Lady, covertly he sent,
(That none might know, to frustrate his intent)
But Cleopatra this Suitor did deny,
For Leonatus more lovely in her eye,
To whom she sent a message of her mind,
That if he came good welcome he should find.
In these tumultuous dayes the thralled Greeks,
Their Ancient Liberty afresh now seeks.
And gladly would the yoke shake off, laid on
Sometimes by Philip and his conquering son.
The Athenians force Antipater to fly
To Lamia where he shut up doth lye.
To brave Craterus then he sends with speed
For succours to relieve him in his need.
The like of Leonatus he requires,
(Which at this time well suited his desires)
For to Antipater he now might goe,
His Lady take in th'way, and no man know.
Antiphilus the Athenian General
With speed his Army doth together call;
And Leonatus seeks to stop, that so
He joyne not with Antipater their foe.
The Athenian Army was the greater far,
(Which did his Match with Cleopatra mar)
For fighting still, while there did hope remain
The valiant Chief amidst his foes was slain.
'Mongst all the princes of great Alexander
For personage, none like to this Commander.
Now to Antipater Craterus goes,
Blockt up in Lamia still by his foes,
Long marches through Cilicia he makes,
And the remains of Leonatus takes:
With them and his he into Grecia went,
Antipater releas'd from prisonment:
After which time the Greeks did never more
Act any thing of worth, as heretofore:
But under servitude their necks remain'd,
Nor former liberty or glory gain'd.
Now di'd about the end of th'Lamian war
Demosthenes, that sweet-tongue'd Orator,
Who fear'd Antipater would take his life
For animating the Athenian strife:
To end his dayes by poison rather chose
Then fall into the hands of mortal foes.
Craterus and Antipater now joyne,
In love and in affinity combine,
Craterus doth his daughter Phila wed
Their friendship might the more be strengthened.
Whilst they in Macedon do thus agree,
In Asia they all asunder be.
Perdiccas griev'd to see the princes bold
So many Kingdomes in their power to hold,
Yet to regain them, how he did not know,
His souldiers 'gainst those captains would not goe
To suffer them go on as they begun,
Was to give way himself might be undone.
With Antipater to joyne he sometimes thought,
That by his help, the rest might low be brought,
But this again dislikes; he would remain,
If not in stile, in deed a soveraign;
(For all the princes of great Alexander
Acknowledged for Chief that old Commander)
Desires the King to goe to Macedon,
Which once was of his Ancestors the throne,
And by his presence there to nullifie
The acts of his Vice-Roy now grown so high.
Antigonus of treason first attaints,
And summons him to answer his complaints.
This he avoids, and ships himself and son,
goes to Antipater and tells what's done.
He and Craterus, both with him do joyne,
And 'gainst Perdiccas all their strength combine.
Brave Ptolemy, to make a fourth then sent
To save himself from danger imminent.
In midst of these garboyles, with wondrous state
His masters funeral doth celebrate:
In Alexandria his tomb he plac'd,
Which eating time hath scarcely yet defac'd.
Two years and more, since natures debt he paid,
And yet till now at quiet was not laid.
Great love did Ptolemy by this act gain,
And made the souldiers on his side remain.
Perdiccas hears his foes are all combin'd,
'Gainst which to goe, is not resolv'd in mind.
But first 'gainst Ptolemy he judg'd was best,
Neer'st unto him, and farthest from the rest,
Leaves Eumenes the Asian Coast to free
From the invasions of the other three,
And with his army unto Egypt goes
Brave Ptolemy to th'utmost to oppose.
Perdiccas surly cariage, and his pride
Did alinate the souldiers from his side.
But Ptolemy by affability
His sweet demeanour and his courtesie,
Did make his own, firm to his cause remain,
And from the other side did dayly gain.
Perdiccas in his pride did ill intreat
Python of haughty mind, and courage great.
Who could not brook so great indignity,
But of his wrongs his friends doth certifie;
The souldiers 'gainst Perdiccas they incense,
Who vow to make this captain recompence,
And in a rage they rush into his tent,
Knock out his brains: to Ptolemy then went
And offer him his honours, and his place,
With stile of the Protector, him to grace.
Next day into the camp came Ptolemy,
And is receiv'd of all most joyfully.
Their proffers he refus'd with modesty,
Yields them to Python for his courtesie.
With what he held he was now more content,
Then by more trouble to grow eminent.
Now comes there news of a great victory
That Eumenes got of the other three.
Had it but in Perdiccas life ariv'd,
With greater joy it would have been receiv'd.
Thus Ptolemy rich Egypt did retain,
And Python turn'd to Asia again.
Whilst Perdiccas encamp'd in Affrica,
Antigonus did enter Asia,
And fain would Eumenes draw to their side,
But he alone most faithfull did abide:
The other all had Kingdomes in their eye,
But he was true to's masters family,
Nor could Craterus, whom he much did love.
From his fidelity once make him move:
Two Battles fought, and had of both the best,
And brave Craterus slew among the rest:
For this sad strife he poures out his complaints,
And his beloved foe full sore laments.
I should but snip a story into bits
And his great Acts and glory much eclipse,
To shew the dangers Eumenes befel,
His stratagems wherein he did excel:
His Policies, how he did extricate
Himself from out of Lab'rinths intricate:
He that at large would satisfie his mind,
In Plutarchs Lives his history may find.
For all that should be said, let this suffice,
He was both valiant, faithfull, patient, wise.
Python now chose Protector of the state,
His rule Queen Euridice begins to hate,
Sees Arrideus must not King it long,
If once young Alexander grow more strong,
But that her husband serve for supplement,
To warm his seat, was never her intent.
She knew her birth-right gave her Macedon,
Grand-child to him who once sat on that throne
Who was Perdiccas, Philips eldest brother,
She daughter to his son, who had no other.
Pythons commands, as oft she countermands;
What he appoints, she purposely withstands.
He wearied out at last would needs be gone,
Resign'd his place, and so let all alone:
In's room the souldiers chose Antipater,
Who vext the Queen more then the other far.
From Macedon to Asia he came,
That he might settle matters in the same.
He plac'd, displac'd, control'd rul'd as he list,
And this no man durst question or resist;
For all the nobles of King Alexander
Their bonnets vail'd to him as chief Commander.
When to his pleasure all things they had done,
The King and Queen he takes to Macedon,
Two sons of Alexander, and the rest,
All to be order'd there as he thought best.
The Army to Antigonus doth leave,
And Government of Asia to him gave.
And thus Antipater the ground-work layes,
On which Antigonus his height doth raise,
Who in few years, the rest so overtops,
For universal Monarchy he hopes.
With Eumenes he diverse Battels fought,
And by his slights to circumvent him sought:
But vain it was to use his policy,
'Gainst him that all deceits could scan and try.
In this Epitome too long to tell
How finely Eumenes did here excell,
And by the self same Traps the other laid,
He to his cost was righteously repaid.
But while these Chieftains doe in Asia fight,
To Greece and Macedon lets turn our sight.
When great Antipater the world must leave,
His place to Polisperchon did bequeath,
Fearing his son Cassander was unstaid,
Too rash to bear that charge, if on him laid.
Antigonus hearing of his decease
On most part of Assyria doth seize.
And Ptolemy next to incroach begins,
All Syria and Phenicia he wins,
Then Polisperchon 'gins to act in's place,
Recalls Olimpias the Court to grace.
Antipater had banish'd her from thence
Into Epire for her great turbulence;
This new Protector's of another mind,
Thinks by her Majesty much help to find.
Cassander like his Father could not see,
This Polisperchons great ability,
Slights his Commands, his actions he disclaims,
And to be chief himself now bends his aims;
Such as his Father had advanc'd to place,
Or by his favours any way had grac'd
Are now at the devotion of the Son,
Prest to accomplish what he would have done;
Besides he was the young Queens favourite,
On whom (t'was thought) she set her chief delight:
Unto these helps at home he seeks out more,
Goes to Antigonus and doth implore,
By all the Bonds 'twixt him and's Father past,
And for that great gift which he gave him last.
By these and all to grant him some supply,
To take down Polisperchon grown so high;
For this Antigonus did need no spurs,
Hoping to gain yet more by these new stirs,
Streight furnish'd him with a sufficient aid,
And so he quick returns thus well appaid,
With Ships at Sea, an Army for the Land,
His proud opponent hopes soon to withstand.
But in his absence Polisperchon takes
Such friends away as for his Interest makes
By death, by prison, or by banishment,
That no supply by these here might be lent,
Cassander with his Host to Grecia goes,
Whom Polisperchon labours to oppose;
But beaten was at Sea, and foil'd at Land,
Cassanders forces had the upper hand,
Athens with many Towns in Greece beside,
Firm (for his Fathers sake) to him abide.
Whil'st hot in wars these two in Greece remain,
Antigonus doth all in Asia gain;
Still labours Eumenes, would with him side,
But all in vain, he faithful did abide:
Nor Mother could, nor Sons of Alexander,
Put trust in any but in this Commander.
The great ones now began to shew their mind,
And act as opportunity they find.
Aridæus the scorn'd and simple King,
More then he bidden was could act no thing.
Polisperchon for office hoping long,
Thinks to inthrone the Prince when riper grown;
Euridice this injury disdains,
And to Cassandar of this wrong complains.
Hateful the name and house of Alexander,
Was to this proud vindicative Cassander;
He still kept lockt within his memory,
His Fathers danger, with his Family;
Nor thought he that indignity was small,
When Alexander knockt his head to th'wall.
These with his love unto the amorous Queen,
Did make him vow her servant to be seen.
Olimpias, Aridæus deadly hates,
As all her Husbands, Children by his mates,
She gave him poyson formerly ('tis thought)
Which damage both to mind and body brought;
She now with Polisperchon doth combine,
To make the King by force his Seat resigne:
And her young grand-child in his State inthrone,
That under him, she might rule, all alone.
For aid she goes t'Epire among her friends,
The better to accomplish these her ends;
Euridice hearing what she intends,
In haste unto her friend Cassander sends,
To leave his siege at Tegea, and with speed,
To save the King and her in this their need:
Then by intreaties, promises and Coyne,
Some forces did procure with her to joyn.
Olimpias soon enters Macedon,
The Queen to meet her bravely marches on,
But when her Souldiers saw their ancient Queen,
Calling to mind what sometime she had been;
The wife and Mother of their famous Kings,
Nor darts, nor arrows, now none shoots or flings.
The King and Queen seeing their destiny,
To save their lives t'Amphipolis do fly;
But the old Queen pursues them with her hate,
And needs will have their lives as well as State:
The King by extream torments had his end,
And to the Queen these presents she did send;
A Halter, cup of poyson, and a Sword,
Bids chuse her death, such kindness she'l afford.
The Queen with many a curse, and bitter check,
At length yields to the Halter her fair neck;
Praying that fatal day might quickly haste,
On which Olimpias of the like might taste.
This done the cruel Queen rests not content,
'Gainst all that lov'd Cassander she was bent;
His Brethren, Kinsfolk and his chiefest friends,
That fell within her reach came to their ends:
Dig'd up his brother dead, 'gainst natures right,
And threw his bones about to shew her spight:
The Courtiers wondring at her furious mind,
Wisht in Epire she had been still confin'd.
In Peloponesus then Cassander lay,
Where hearing of this news he speeds away,
With rage, and with revenge he's hurried on,
To find this cruel Queen in Macedon;
But being stopt, at streight Thermopoly,
Sea passage gets, and lands in Thessaly:
His Army he divides, sends post away,
Polisperchon to hold a while in play;
And with the rest Olimpias pursues,
For all her cruelty, to give her dues.
She with the chief o' th'Court to Pydna flyes,
Well fortifi'd, (and on the Sea it lyes)
There by Cassander she's blockt up so long,
Untill the Famine grows exceeding strong,
Her Couzen of Epire did what he might,
To raise the Siege, and put her Foes to flight.
Cassander is resolved there to remain,
So succours and endeavours proves but vain;
Fain would this wretched Queen capitulate,
Her foe would give no Ear, (such is his hate)
The Souldiers pinched with this scarcity,
By stealth unto Cassander dayly fly;
Olimpias means to hold out to the last,
Expecting nothing but of death to tast:
But his occasions calling him away,
Gives promise for her life, so wins the day.
No sooner had he got her in his hand,
But made in judgement her accusers stand;
And plead the blood of friends and kindreds spilt,
Desiring justice might be done for guilt;
And so was he acquitted of his word,
For justice sake she being

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II. Half-Rome

What, you, Sir, come too? (Just the man I'd meet.)
Be ruled by me and have a care o' the crowd:
This way, while fresh folk go and get their gaze:
I'll tell you like a book and save your shins.
Fie, what a roaring day we've had! Whose fault?
Lorenzo in Lucina,—here's a church
To hold a crowd at need, accommodate
All comers from the Corso! If this crush
Make not its priests ashamed of what they show
For temple-room, don't prick them to draw purse
And down with bricks and mortar, eke us out
The beggarly transept with its bit of apse
Into a decent space for Christian ease,
Why, to-day's lucky pearl is cast to swine.
Listen and estimate the luck they've had!
(The right man, and I hold him.)

Sir, do you see,
They laid both bodies in the church, this morn
The first thing, on the chancel two steps up,
Behind the little marble balustrade;
Disposed them, Pietro the old murdered fool
To the right of the altar, and his wretched wife
On the other side. In trying to count stabs,
People supposed Violante showed the most,
Till somebody explained us that mistake;
His wounds had been dealt out indifferent where,
But she took all her stabbings in the face,
Since punished thus solely for honour's sake,
Honoris causâ, that's the proper term.
A delicacy there is, our gallants hold,
When you avenge your honour and only then,
That you disfigure the subject, fray the face,
Not just take life and end, in clownish guise.
It was Violante gave the first offence,
Got therefore the conspicuous punishment:
While Pietro, who helped merely, his mere death
Answered the purpose, so his face went free.
We fancied even, free as you please, that face
Showed itself still intolerably wronged;
Was wrinkled over with resentment yet,
Nor calm at all, as murdered faces use,
Once the worst ended: an indignant air
O' the head there was—'t is said the body turned
Round and away, rolled from Violante's side
Where they had laid it loving-husband-like.
If so, if corpses can be sensitive,
Why did not he roll right down altar-step,
Roll on through nave, roll fairly out of church,
Deprive Lorenzo of the spectacle,
Pay back thus the succession of affronts
Whereto this church had served as theatre?
For see: at that same altar where he lies,
To that same inch of step, was brought the babe
For blessing after baptism, and there styled
Pompilia, and a string of names beside,
By his bad wife, some seventeen years ago,
Who purchased her simply to palm on him,
Flatter his dotage and defraud the heirs.
Wait awhile! Also to this very step
Did this Violante, twelve years afterward,
Bring, the mock-mother, that child-cheat full-grown,
Pompilia, in pursuance of her plot,
And there brave God and man a second time
By linking a new victim to the lie.
There, having made a match unknown to him,
She, still unknown to Pietro, tied the knot
Which nothing cuts except this kind of knife;
Yes, made her daughter, as the girl was held,
Marry a man, and honest man beside,
And man of birth to boot,—clandestinely
Because of this, because of that, because
O' the devil's will to work his worst for once,—
Confident she could top her part at need
And, when her husband must be told in turn,
Ply the wife's trade, play off the sex's trick
And, alternating worry with quiet qualms,
Bravado with submissiveness, prettily fool
Her Pietro into patience: so it proved.
Ay, 't is four years since man and wife they grew,
This Guido Franceschini and this same
Pompilia, foolishly thought, falsely declared
A Comparini and the couple's child:
Just at this altar where, beneath the piece
Of Master Guido Reni, Christ on cross,
Second to nought observable in Rome,
That couple lie now, murdered yestereve.
Even the blind can see a providence here.

From dawn till now that it is growing dusk,
A multitude has flocked and filled the church,
Coming and going, coming back again,
Till to count crazed one. Rome was at the show.
People climbed up the columns, fought for spikes
O' the chapel-rail to perch themselves upon,
Jumped over and so broke the wooden work
Painted like porphyry to deceive the eye;
Serve the priests right! The organ-loft was crammed,
Women were fainting, no few fights ensued,
In short, it was a show repaid your pains:
For, though their room was scant undoubtedly,
Yet they did manage matters, to be just,
A little at this Lorenzo. Body o' me!
I saw a body exposed once … never mind!
Enough that here the bodies had their due.
No stinginess in wax, a row all round,
And one big taper at each head and foot.

So, people pushed their way, and took their turn,
Saw, threw their eyes up, crossed themselves, gave place
To pressure from behind, since all the world
Knew the old pair, could talk the tragedy
Over from first to last: Pompilia too,
Those who had known her—what 't was worth to them!
Guido's acquaintance was in less request;
The Count had lounged somewhat too long in Rome,
Made himself cheap; with him were hand and glove
Barbers and blear-eyed, as the ancient sings.
Also he is alive and like to be:
Had he considerately died,—aha!
I jostled Luca Cini on his staff,
Mute in the midst, the whole man one amaze,
Staring amain and crossing brow and breast.
"How now?" asked I. "'T is seventy years," quoth he,
"Since I first saw, holding my father's hand,
"Bodies set forth: a many have I seen,
"Yet all was poor to this I live and see.
"Here the world's wickedness seals up the sum:
"What with Molinos' doctrine and this deed,
"Antichrist surely comes and doomsday's near.
"May I depart in peace, I have seen my see."
"Depart then," I advised, "nor block the road
"For youngsters still behindhand with such sights!"
"Why no," rejoins the venerable sire,
"I know it's horrid, hideous past belief,
"Burdensome far beyond what eye can bear;
"But they do promise, when Pompilia dies
"I' the course o' the day,—and she can't outlive night,—
"They'll bring her body also to expose
"Beside the parents, one, two, three a-breast;
"That were indeed a sight, which might I see,
"I trust I should not last to see the like!"
Whereat I bade the senior spare his shanks,
Since doctors give her till to-night to live,
And tell us how the butchery happened. "Ah,
"But you can't know!" sighs he, "I'll not despair:
"Beside I'm useful at explaining things—
"As, how the dagger laid there at the feet,
"Caused the peculiar cuts; I mind its make,
"Triangular i' the blade, a Genoese,
"Armed with those little hook-teeth on the edge
"To open in the flesh nor shut again:
"I like to teach a novice: I shall stay!"
And stay he did, and stay be sure he will.

A personage came by the private door
At noon to have his look: I name no names:
Well then, His Eminence the Cardinal,
Whose servitor in honourable sort
Guido was once, the same who made the match,
(Will you have the truth?) whereof we see effect.
No sooner whisper ran he was arrived
Than up pops Curate Carlo, a brisk lad,
Who never lets a good occasion slip,
And volunteers improving the event.
We looked he'd give the history's self some help,
Treat us to how the wife's confession went
(This morning she confessed her crime, we know)
And, may-be, throw in something of the Priest—
If he's not ordered back, punished anew,
The gallant, Caponsacchi, Lucifer
I' the garden where Pompilia, Eve-like, lured
Her Adam Guido to his fault and fall.
Think you we got a sprig of speech akin
To this from Carlo, with the Cardinal there?
Too wary he was, too widely awake, I trow.
He did the murder in a dozen words;
Then said that all such outrages crop forth
I' the course of nature when Molinos' tares
Are sown for wheat, flourish and choke the Church:
So slid on to the abominable sect
And the philosophic sin—we've heard all that,
And the Cardinal too, (who book-made on the same)
But, for the murder, left it where he found.
Oh but he's quick, the Curate, minds his game!
And, after all, we have the main o' the fact:
Case could not well be simpler,—mapped, as it were,
We follow the murder's maze from source to sea,
By the red line, past mistake: one sees indeed
Not only how all was and must have been,
But cannot other than be to the end of time.
Turn out here by the Ruspoli! Do you hold
Guido was so prodigiously to blame?
A certain cousin of yours has told you so?
Exactly! Here's a friend shall set you right,
Let him but have the handsel of your ear.

These wretched Comparini were once gay
And galliard, of the modest middle class:
Born in this quarter seventy years ago
And married young, they lived the accustomed life,
Citizens as they were of good repute:
And, childless, naturally took their ease
With only their two selves to care about
And use the wealth for: wealthy is the word,
Since Pietro was possessed of house and land—
And specially one house, when good days smiled,
In Via Vittoria, the aspectable street
Where he lived mainly; but another house
Of less pretension did he buy betimes,
The villa, meant for jaunts and jollity,
I' the Pauline district, to be private there—
Just what puts murder in an enemy's head.
Moreover,—here's the worm i' the core, the germ
O' the rottenness and ruin which arrived,—
He owned some usufruct, had moneys' use
Lifelong, but to determine with his life
In heirs' default: so, Pietro craved an heir,
(The story always old and always new)
Shut his fool's-eyes fast on the visible good
And wealth for certain, opened them owl-wide
On fortune's sole piece of forgetfulness,
The child that should have been and would not be.

Hence, seventeen years ago, conceive his glee
When first Violante, 'twixt a smile and blush,
With touch of agitation proper too,
Announced that, spite of her unpromising age,
The miracle would in time be manifest,
An heir's birth was to happen: and it did.
Somehow or other,—how, all in good time!
By a trick, a sleight of hand you are to hear,—
A child was born, Pompilia, for his joy,
Plaything at once and prop, a fairy-gift,
A saints' grace or, say, grant of the good God,—
A fiddle-pin's end! What imbeciles are we!
Look now: if some one could have prophesied,
"For love of you, for liking to your wife,
"I undertake to crush a snake I spy
"Settling itself i' the soft of both your breasts.
"Give me yon babe to strangle painlessly!
"She'll soar to the safe: you'll have your crying out,
"Then sleep, then wake, then sleep, then end your days
"In peace and plenty, mixed with mild regret,
"Thirty years hence when Christmas takes old folk"—
How had old Pietro sprung up, crossed himself,
And kicked the conjuror! Whereas you and I,
Being wise with after-wit, had clapped our hands;
Nay, added, in the old fool's interest,
"Strangle the black-eyed babe, so far so good,
"But on condition you relieve the man
"O' the wife and throttle him Violante too—
"She is the mischief!"

We had hit the mark.
She, whose trick brought the babe into the world,
She it was, when the babe was grown a girl,
Judged a new trick should reinforce the old,
Send vigour to the lie now somewhat spent
By twelve years' service; lest Eve's rule decline
Over this Adam of hers, whose cabbage-plot
Throve dubiously since turned fools' paradise,
Spite of a nightingale on every stump.
Pietro's estate was dwindling day by day,
While he, rapt far above such mundane care,
Crawled all-fours with his baby pick-a-back,
Sat at serene cats'-cradle with his child,
Or took the measured tallness, top to toe,
Of what was grown a great girl twelve years old:
Till sudden at the door a tap discreet,
A visitor's premonitory cough,
And poverty had reached him in her rounds.

This came when he was past the working-time,
Had learned to dandle and forgot to dig,
And who must but Violante cast about,
Contrive and task that head of hers again?
She who had caught one fish, could make that catch
A bigger still, in angler's policy:
So, with an angler's mercy for the bait,
Her minnow was set wriggling on its barb
And tossed to mid-stream; which means, this grown girl
With the great eyes and bounty of black hair
And first crisp youth that tempts a jaded taste,
Was whisked i' the way of a certain man, who snapped.

Count Guido Franceschini the Aretine
Was head of an old noble house enough,
Not over-rich, you can't have everything,
But such a man as riches rub against,
Readily stick to,—one with a right to them
Born in the blood: 't was in his very brow
Always to knit itself against the world,
Beforehand so, when that world stinted due
Service and suit: the world ducks and defers.
As such folks do, he had come up to Rome
To better his fortune, and, since many years,
Was friend and follower of a cardinal;
Waiting the rather thus on providence
That a shrewd younger poorer brother yet,
The Abate Paolo, a regular priest,
Had long since tried his powers and found he swam
With the deftest on the Galilean pool:
But then he was a web-foot, free o' the wave,
And no ambiguous dab-chick hatched to strut,
Humbled by any fond attempt to swim
When fiercer fowl usurped his dunghill top—
A whole priest, Paolo, no mere piece of one
Like Guido tacked thus to the Church's tail!
Guido moreover, as the head o' the house,
Claiming the main prize, not the lesser luck,
The centre lily, no mere chickweed fringe.

He waited and learned waiting, thirty years;
Got promise, missed performance—what would you have?
No petty post rewards a nobleman
For spending youth in splendid lackey-work,
And there's concurrence for each rarer prize;
When that falls, rougher hand and readier foot
Push aside Guido spite of his black looks.
The end was, Guido, when the warning showed,
The first white hair i' the glass, gave up the game,
Determined on returning to his town,
Making the best of bad incurable,
Patching the old palace up and lingering there
The customary life out with his kin,
Where honour helps to spice the scanty bread.

Just as he trimmed his lamp and girt his loins
To go his journey and be wise at home,
In the right mood of disappointed worth,
Who but Violante sudden spied her prey
(Where was I with that angler-simile?)
And threw her bait, Pompilia, where he sulked—
A gleam i' the gloom!

What if he gained thus much,
Wrung out this sweet drop from the bitter Past,
Bore off this rose-bud from the prickly brake
To justify such torn clothes and scratched hands,
And, after all, brought something back from Rome?
Would not a wife serve at Arezzo well
To light the dark house, lend a look of youth
To the mother's face grown meagre, left alone
And famished with the emptiness of hope,
Old Donna Beatrice? Wife you want
Would you play family-representative,
Carry you elder-brotherly, high and right
O'er what may prove the natural petulance
Of the third brother, younger, greedier still,
Girolamo, also a fledgeling priest,
Beginning life in turn with callow beak
Agape for luck, no luck had stopped and stilled.
Such were the pinks and greys about the bait
Persuaded Guido gulp down hook and all.
What constituted him so choice a catch,
You question? Past his prime and poor beside!
Ask that of any she who knows the trade.
Why first, here was a nobleman with friends,
A palace one might run to and be safe
When presently the threatened fate should fall,
A big-browed master to block door-way up,
Parley with people bent on pushing by
And praying the mild Pietro quick clear scores:
Is birth a privilege and power or no?
Also,—but judge of the result desired,
By the price paid and manner of the sale.
The Count was made woo, win and wed at once:
Asked, and was haled for answer, lest the heat
Should cool, to San Lorenzo, one blind eve,
And had Pompilia put into his arms
O' the sly there, by a hasty candle-blink,
With sanction of some priest-confederate
Properly paid to make short work and sure.

So did old Pietro's daughter change her style
For Guido Franceschini's lady-wife
Ere Guido knew it well; and why this haste
And scramble and indecent secrecy?
"Lest Pietro, all the while in ignorance,
"Should get to learn, gainsay and break the match:
"His peevishness had promptly put aside
"Such honour and refused the proffered boon,
"Pleased to become authoritative once.
"She remedied the wilful man's mistake—"
Did our discreet Violante. Rather say,
Thus did she, lest the object of her game,
Guido the gulled one, give him but a chance,
A moment's respite, time for thinking twice,
Might count the cost before he sold himself,
And try the clink of coin they paid him with.

But coin paid, bargain struck and business done,
Once the clandestine marriage over thus,
All parties made perforce the best o' the fact;
Pietro could play vast indignation off,
Be ignorant and astounded, dupe, poor soul,
Please you, of daughter, wife and son-in-law,
While Guido found himself in flagrant fault,
Must e'en do suit and service, soothe, subdue
A father not unreasonably chafed,
Bring him to terms by paying son's devoir.
Pleasant initiation!

The end, this:
Guido's broad back was saddled to bear all—
Pietro, Violante, and Pompilia too,—
Three lots cast confidently in one lap,
Three dead-weights with one arm to lift the three
Out of their limbo up to life again.
The Roman household was to strike fresh root
In a new soil, graced with a novel name,
Gilt with an alien glory, Aretine
Henceforth and never Roman any more,
By treaty and engagement; thus it ran:
Pompilia's dowry for Pompilia's self
As a thing of course,—she paid her own expense;
No loss nor gain there: but the couple, you see,
They, for their part, turned over first of all
Their fortune in its rags and rottenness
To Guido, fusion and confusion, he
And his with them and theirs,—whatever rag
With coin residuary fell on floor
When Brother Paolo's energetic shake
Should do the relics justice: since 't was thought,
Once vulnerable Pietro out of reach,
That, left at Rome as representative,
The Abate, backed by a potent patron here,
And otherwise with purple flushing him,
Might play a good game with the creditor,
Make up a moiety which, great or small,
Should go to the common stock—if anything,
Guido's, so far repayment of the cost
About to be,—and if, as looked more like,
Nothing,—why, all the nobler cost were his
Who guaranteed, for better or for worse,
To Pietro and Violante, house and home,
Kith and kin, with the pick of company
And life o' the fat o' the land while life should last.
How say you to the bargain at first blush?
Why did a middle-aged not-silly man
Show himself thus besotted all at once?
Quoth Solomon, one black eye does it all.

They went to Arezzo,—Pietro and his spouse,
With just the dusk o' the day of life to spend,
Eager to use the twilight, taste a treat,
Enjoy for once with neither stay nor stint
The luxury of lord-and-lady-ship,
And realize the stuff and nonsense long
A-simmer in their noddles; vent the fume
Born there and bred, the citizen's conceit
How fares nobility while crossing earth,
What rampart or invisible body-guard
Keeps off the taint of common life from such.
They had not fed for nothing on the tales
Of grandees who give banquets worthy Jove,
Spending gold as if Plutus paid a whim,
Served with obeisances as when … what God?
I'm at the end of my tether; 't is enough
You understand what they came primed to see:
While Guido who should minister the sight,
Stay all this qualmish greediness of soul
With apples and with flagons—for his part,
Was set on life diverse as pole from pole:
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye,—what else
Was he just now awake from, sick and sage,
After the very debauch they would begin?—
Suppose such stuff and nonsense really were.
That bubble, they were bent on blowing big,
He had blown already till he burst his cheeks,
And hence found soapsuds bitter to the tongue.
He hoped now to walk softly all his days
In soberness of spirit, if haply so,
Pinching and paring he might furnish forth
A frugal board, bare sustenance, no more,
Till times, that could not well grow worse, should mend.

Thus minded then, two parties mean to meet
And make each other happy. The first week,
And fancy strikes fact and explodes in full.
"This," shrieked the Comparini, "this the Count,
"The palace, the signorial privilege,
"The pomp and pageantry were promised us?
"For this have we exchanged our liberty,
"Our competence, our darling of a child?
"To house as spectres in a sepulchre
"Under this black stone-heap, the street's disgrace,
"Grimmest as that is of the gruesome town,
"And here pick garbage on a pewter plate
"Or cough at verjuice dripped from earthenware?
"Oh Via Vittoria, oh the other place
"I' the Pauline, did we give you up for this?
"Where's the foregone housekeeping good and gay,
"The neighbourliness, the companionship,
"The treat and feast when holidays came round,
"The daily feast that seemed no treat at all,
"Called common by the uncommon fools we were!
"Even the sun that used to shine at Rome,
"Where is it? Robbed and starved and frozen too,
"We will have justice, justice if there be!"
Did not they shout, did not the town resound!
Guido's old lady-mother Beatrice,
Who since her husband, Count Tommaso's death,
Had held sole sway i' the house,—the doited crone
Slow to acknowledge, curtsey and abdicate,—
Was recognized of true novercal type,
Dragon and devil. His brother Girolamo
Came next in order: priest was he? The worse!
No way of winning him to leave his mumps
And help the laugh against old ancestry
And formal habits long since out of date,
Letting his youth be patterned on the mode
Approved of where Violante laid down law.
Or did he brighten up by way of change,
Dispose himself for affability?
The malapert, too complaisant by half
To the alarmed young novice of a bride!
Let him go buzz, betake himself elsewhere
Nor singe his fly-wings in the candle-flame!

Four months' probation of this purgatory,
Dog-snap and cat-claw, curse and counterblast,
The devil's self were sick of his own din;
And Pietro, after trumpeting huge wrongs
At church and market-place, pillar and post,
Square's corner, street's end, now the palace-step
And now the wine-house bench—while, on her side,
Violante up and down was voluble
In whatsoever pair of ears would perk
From goody, gossip, cater-cousin and sib,
Curious to peep at the inside of things
And catch in the act pretentious poverty
At its wits' end to keep appearance up,
Make both ends meet,—nothing the vulgar loves
Like what this couple pitched them right and left.
Then, their worst done that way, both struck tent, marched:
—Renounced their share o' the bargain, flung what dues
Guido was bound to pay, in Guido's face,
Left their hearts'-darling, treasure of the twain
And so forth, the poor inexperienced bride,
To her own devices, bade Arezzo rot,
Cursed life signorial, and sought Rome once more.

I see the comment ready on your lip,
"The better fortune, Guido's—free at least
"By this defection of the foolish pair,
"He could begin make profit in some sort
"Of the young bride and the new quietness,
"Lead his own life now, henceforth breathe unplagued."
Could he? You know the sex like Guido's self.
Learn the Violante-nature!

Once in Rome,
By way of helping Guido lead such life,
Her first act to inaugurate return
Was, she got pricked in conscience: Jubilee
Gave her the hint. Our Pope, as kind as just,
Attained his eighty years, announced a boon
Should make us bless the fact, held Jubilee—
Short shrift, prompt pardon for the light offence
And no rough dealing with the regular crime
So this occasion were not suffered slip—
Otherwise, sins commuted as before,
Without the least abatement in the price.
Now, who had thought it? All this while, it seems,
Our sage Violante had a sin of a sort
She must compound for now or not at all.
Now be the ready riddance! She confessed
Pompilia was a fable not a fact:
She never bore a child in her whole life.
Had this child been a changeling, that were grace
In some degree, exchange is hardly theft,
You take your stand on truth ere leap your lie:
Here was all lie, no touch of truth at all,
All the lie hers—not even Pietro guessed
He was as childless still as twelve years since.
The babe had been a find i' the filth-heap, Sir,
Catch from the kennel! There was found at Rome,
Down in the deepest of our social dregs,
A woman who professed the wanton's trade
Under the requisite thin coverture,
Communis meretrix and washer-wife:
The creature thus conditioned found by chance
Motherhood like a jewel in the muck,
And straightway either trafficked with her prize
Or listened to the tempter and let be,—
Made pact abolishing her place and part
In womankind, beast-fellowship indeed.
She sold this babe eight months before its birth
To our Violante, Pietro's honest spouse,
Well-famed and widely-instanced as that crown
To the husband, virtue in a woman's shape.
She it was, bought, paid for, passed off the thing
As very flesh and blood and child of her
Despite the flagrant fifty years,—and why?
Partly to please old Pietro, fill his cup
With wine at the late hour when lees are left,
And send him from life's feast rejoicingly,—
Partly to cheat the rightful heirs, agape,
Each uncle's cousin's brother's son of him,
For that same principal of the usufruct
It vext him he must die and leave behind.

Such was the sin had come to be confessed.
Which of the tales, the first or last, was true?
Did she so sin once, or, confessing now,
Sin for the first time? Either way you will.
One sees a reason for the cheat: one sees
A reason for a cheat in owning cheat
Where no cheat had been. What of the revenge?
What prompted the contrition all at once,
Made the avowal easy, the shame slight?
Why, prove they but Pompilia not their child,
No child, no dowry! this, supposed their child,
Had claimed what this, shown alien to their blood,
Claimed nowise: Guido's claim was through his wife,
Null then and void with hers. The biter bit,
Do you see! For such repayment of the past,
One might conceive the penitential pair
Ready to bring their case before the courts,
Publish their infamy to all the world
And, arm in arm, go chuckling thence content.

Is this your view? 'T was Guido's anyhow
And colourable: he came forward then,
Protested in his very bride's behalf
Against this lie and all it led to, least
Of all the loss o' the dowry; no! From her
And him alike he would expunge the blot,
Erase the brand of such a bestial birth,
Participate in no hideous heritage
Gathered from the gutter to be garnered up
And glorified in a palace. Peter and Paul!
But that who likes may look upon the pair
Exposed in yonder church, and show his skill
By saying which is eye and which is mouth
Thro' those stabs thick and threefold,—but for that—
A strong word on the liars and their lie
Might crave expression and obtain it, Sir!
—Though prematurely, since there's more to come,
More that will shake your confidence in things
Your cousin tells you,—may I be so bold?

This makes the first act of the farce,—anon
The sombre element comes stealing in
Till all is black or blood-red in the piece.
Guido, thus made a laughing-stock abroad,
A proverb for the market-place at home,
Left alone with Pompilia now, this graft
So reputable on his ancient stock,
This plague-seed set to fester his sound flesh,
What does the Count? Revenge him on his wife?
Unfasten at all risks to rid himself
The noisome lazar-badge, fall foul of fate,
And, careless whether the poor rag was ware
O' the part it played, or helped unwittingly,
Bid it go burn and leave his frayed flesh free?
Plainly, did Guido open both doors wide,
Spurn thence the cur-cast creature and clear scores
As man might, tempted in extreme like this?
No, birth and breeding, and compassion too
Saved her such scandal. She was young, he thought,
Not privy to the treason, punished most
I' the proclamation of it; why make her
A party to the crime she suffered by?
Then the black eyes were now her very own,
Not any more Violante's: let her live,
Lose in a new air, under a new sun,
The taint of the imputed parentage
Truly or falsely, take no more the touch
Of Pietro and his partner anyhow!
All might go well yet.

So she thought, herself,
It seems, since what was her first act and deed
When news came how these kindly ones at Rome
Had stripped her naked to amuse the world
With spots here, spots there and spots everywhere?
For I should tell you that they noised abroad
Not merely the main scandal of her birth,
But slanders written, printed, published wide,
Pamphlets which set forth all the pleasantry
Of how the promised glory was a dream,
The power a bubble, and the wealth—why, dust.
There was a picture, painted to the life,
Of those rare doings, that superlative
Initiation in magnificence
Conferred on a poor Roman family
By favour of Arezzo and her first
And famousest, the Franceschini there.
You had the Countship holding head aloft
Bravely although bespattered, shifts and straits
In keeping out o' the way o' the wheels o' the world,
The comic of those home-contrivances
When the old lady-mother's with was taxed
To find six clamorous mouths in food more real
Than fruit plucked off the cobwebbed family-tree,
Or acorns shed from its gilt mouldered frame—
Cold glories served up with stale fame for sauce.
What, I ask,—when the drunkenness of hate
Hiccuped return for hospitality,
Befouled the table they had feasted on,
Or say,—God knows I'll not prejudge the case,—
Grievances thus distorted, magnified,
Coloured by quarrel into calumny,—
What side did our Pompilia first espouse?
Her first deliberate measure was—she wrote,
Pricked by some loyal impulse, straight to Rome
And her husband's brother the Abate there,
Who, having managed to effect the match,
Might take men's censure for its ill success.
She made a clean breast also in her turn,
And qualified the couple properly,
Since whose departure, hell, she said, was heaven,
And the house, late distracted by their peals,
Quiet as Carmel where the lilies live.
Herself had oftentimes complained: but why?
All her complaints had been their prompting, tales
Trumped up, devices to this very end.
Their game had been to thwart her husband's love
And cross his will, malign his words and ways,
To reach this issue, furnish this pretence
For impudent withdrawal from their bond,—
Theft, indeed murder, since they meant no less
Whose last injunction to her simple self
Had been—what parents'-precept do you think?
That she should follow after with all speed,
Fly from her husband's house clandestinely,
Join them at Rome again, but first of all
Pick up a fresh companion in her flight,
So putting youth and beauty to fit use,—
Some gay dare-devil cloak-and-rapier spark
Capable of adventure,—helped by whom
She, some fine eve when lutes were in the air,
Having put poison in the posset-cup,
Laid hands on money, jewels and the like,
And, to conceal the thing with more effect,
By way of parting benediction too,
Fired the house,—one would finish famously
I' the tumult, slip out, scurry off and away
And turn up merrily at home once more.
Fact this, and not a dream o' the devil, Sir!
And more than this, a fact none dare dispute,
Word for word, such a letter did she write,
And such the Abate read, nor simply read
But gave all Rome to ruminate upon,
In answer to such charges as, I say,
The couple sought to be beforehand with.

The cause thus carried to the courts at Rome,
Guido away, the Abate had no choice
But stand forth, take his absent brother's part,
Defend the honour of himself beside.
He made what head he might against the pair,
Maintained Pompilia's birth legitimate
And all her rights intact—hers, Guido's now:
And so far by his policy turned their flank,
(The enemy being beforehand in the place)
That,—though the courts allowed the cheat for fact,
Suffered Violante to parade her shame,
Publish her infamy to heart's content,
And let the tale o' the feigned birth pass for proved,—
Yet they stopped there, refused to intervene
And dispossess the innocents, befooled
By gifts o' the guilty, at guilt's new caprice.
They would not take away the dowry now
Wrongfully given at first, nor bar at all
Succession to the aforesaid usufruct,
Established on a fraud, nor play the game
Of Pietro's child and now not Pietro's child
As it might suit the gamester's purpose. Thus
Was justice ever ridiculed in Rome:
Such be the double verdicts favoured here
Which send away both parties to a suit
Nor puffed up nor cast down,—for each a crumb
Of right, for neither of them the whole loaf.
Whence, on the Comparini's part, appeal—
Counter-appeal on Guido's,—that's the game:
And so the matter stands, even to this hour,
Bandied as balls are in a tennis-court,
And so might stand, unless some heart broke first,
Till doomsday.

Leave it thus, and now revert
To the old Arezzo whence we moved to Rome.
We've had enough o' the parents, false or true,
Now for a touch o' the daughter's quality.
The start's fair henceforth, every obstacle
Out of the young wife's footpath, she's alone,
Left to walk warily now: how does she walk?
Why, once a dwelling's threshold marked and crossed
In rubric by the enemy on his rounds
As eligible, as fit place of prey,
Baffle him henceforth, keep him out who can!
Stop up the door at the first hint of hoof,
Presently at the window taps a horn,
And Satan's by your fireside, never fear!
Pompilia, left alone now, found herself;
Found herself young too, sprightly, fair enough,
Matched with a husband old beyond his age
(Though that was something like four times her own)
Because of cares past, present and to come:
Found too the house dull and its inmates dead,
So, looked outside for light and life.

And love
Did in a trice turn up with life and light,—
The man with the aureole, sympathy made flesh,
The all-consoling Caponsacchi, Sir!
A priest—what else should the consoler be?
With goodly shoulderblade and proper leg,
A portly make and a symmetric shape,
And curls that clustered to the tonsure quite.
This was a bishop in the bud, and now
A canon full-blown so far: priest, and priest
Nowise exorbitantly overworked,
The courtly Christian, not so much Saint Paul
As a saint of Cæsar's household: there posed he
Sending his god-glance after his shot shaft,
Apollos turned Apollo, while the snake
Pompilia writhed transfixed through all her spires.
He, not a visitor at Guido's house,
Scarce an acquaintance, but in prime request
With the magnates of Arezzo, was seen here,
Heard there, felt everywhere in Guido's path
If Guido's wife's path be her husband's too.
Now he threw comfits at the theatre
Into her lap,—what harm in Carnival?
Now he pressed close till his foot touched her gown,
His hand brushed hers,—how help on promenade?
And, ever on weighty business, found his steps
Incline to a certain haunt of doubtful fame
Which fronted Guido's palace by mere chance;
While—how do accidents sometimes combine!—
Pompilia chose to cloister up her charms
Just in a chamber that o'erlooked the street,
Sat there to pray, or peep thence at mankind.

This passage of arms and wits amused the town.
At last the husband lifted eyebrow,—bent
On day-book and the study how to wring
Half the due vintage from the worn-out vines
At the villa, tease a quarter the old rent
From the farmstead, tenants swore would tumble soon,—
Pricked up his ear a-singing day and night
With "ruin, ruin;"—and so surprised at last—
Why, what else but a titter? Up he jumps.
Back to mind come those scratchings at the grange,
Prints of the paw about the outhouse; rife
In his head at once again are word and wink,
Mum here and budget there, the smell o' the fox,
The must o' the gallant. "Friends, there's falseness here!"

The proper help of friends in such a strait
Is waggery, the world over. Laugh him free
O' the regular jealous-fit that's incident
To all old husbands that wed brisk young wives,
And he'll go duly docile all his days.
"Somebody courts your wife, Count? Where and when?
"How and why? Mere horn-madness: have a care!
"Your lady loves her own room, sticks to it,
"Locks herself in for hours, you say yourself.
"And—what, it's Caponsacchi means you harm?
"The Canon? We caress him, he's the world's,
"A man of such acceptance—never dream,
"Though he were fifty times the fox you fear,
"He'd risk his brush for your particular chick,
"When the wide town's his hen-roost! Fie o' the fool!"
So they dispensed their comfort of a kind.
Guido at last cried "Something is in the air,
"Under the earth, some plot against my peace.
"The trouble of eclipse hangs overheard;
"How it should come of that officious orb
"Your Canon in my system, you must say:
"I say—that from the pressure of this spring
"Began the chime and interchange of bells,
"Ever one whisper, and one whisper more,
"And just one whisper for the silvery last,
"Till all at once a-row the bronze-throats burst
"Into a larum both significant
"And sinister: stop it I must and will.
"Let Caponsacchi take his hand away
"From the wire!—disport himself in other paths
"Than lead precisely to my palace-gate,—
"Look where he likes except one window's way
"Where, cheek on hand, and elbow set on sill,
"Happens to lean and say her litanies
"Every day and all day long, just my wife
"Or wife and Caponsacchi may fare the worse!"

Admire the man's simplicity, "I'll do this,
"I'll not have that, I'll punish and prevent!"—
'T is easy saying. But to a fray, you see,
Two parties go. The badger shows his teeth:
The fox nor lies down sheep-like nor dares fight.
Oh, the wife knew the appropriate warfare well,
The way to put suspicion to the blush!
At first hint of remonstrance, up and out
I' the face of the world, you found her: she could speak,
State her case,—Franceschini was a name,
Guido had his full share of foes and friends—
Why should not she call these to arbitrate?
She bade the Governor do governance,
Cried out on the Archbishop,—why, there now,
Take him for sample! Three successive times,
Had he to reconduct her by main-force
From where she took her station opposite
His shut door,—on the public steps thereto,
Wringing her hands, when he came out to see,
And shrieking all her wrongs forth at his foot,—
Back to the husband and the house she fled:
Judge if that husband warmed him in the face
Of friends or frowned on foes as heretofore!
Judge if he missed the natural grin of folk,
Or lacked the customary compliment
Of cap and bells, the luckless husband's fit!

So it went on and on till—who was right?
One merry April morning, Guido woke
After the cuckoo, so late, near noonday,
With an inordinate yawning of the jaws,
Ears plugged, eyes gummed together, palate, tongue
And teeth one mud-paste made of poppy-milk;
And found his wife flown, his scritoire the worse
For a rummage,—jewelry that was, was not,
Some money there had made itself wings too,—
The door lay wide and yet the servants slept
Sound as the dead, or dosed which does as well.
In short, Pompilia, she who, candid soul,
Had not so much as spoken all her life
To the Canon, nay, so much as peeped at him
Between her fingers while she prayed in church,—
This lamb-like innocent of fifteen years
(Such she was grown to by this time of day)
Had simply put an opiate in the drink
Of the whole household overnight, and then
Got up and gone about her work secure,
Laid hand on this waif and the other stray,
Spoiled the Philistine and marched out of doors
In company of the Canon who, Lord's love,
What with his daily duty at the church,
Nightly devoir where ladies congregate,
Had something else to mind, assure yourself,
Beside Pompilia, paragon though she be,
Or notice if her nose were sharp or blunt!
Well, anyhow, albeit impossible,
Both of them were together jollily
Jaunting it Rome-ward, half-way there by this,
While Guido was left go and get undrugged,
Gather his wits up, groaningly give thanks
When neighbours crowded round him to condole.
"Ah," quoth a gossip, "well I mind me now,
"The Count did always say he thought he felt
"He feared as if this very chance might fall!
"And when a man of fifty finds his corns
"Ache and his joints throb, and foresees a storm,
"Though neighbours laugh and say the sky is clear,
"Let us henceforth believe him weatherwise!"
Then was the story told, I'll cut you short:
All neighbours knew: no mystery in the world.
The lovers left at nightfall—over night
Had Caponsacchi come to carry off
Pompilia,—not alone, a friend of his,
One Guillichini, the more conversant
With Guido's housekeeping that he was just
A cousin of Guido's and might play a prank—
(Have not you too a cousin that's a wag?)
—Lord and a Canon also,—what would you have?
Such are the red-clothed milk-swollen poppy-heads
That stand and stiffen 'mid the wheat o' the Church!—
This worthy came to aid, abet his best.
And so the house was ransacked, booty bagged,
The lady led downstairs and out of doors
Guided and guarded till, the city passed,
A carriage lay convenient at the gate.
Good-bye to the friendly Canon; the loving one
Could peradventure do the rest himself.
In jumps Pompilia, after her the priest,
"Whip, driver! Money makes the mare to go,
"And we've a bagful. Take the Roman road!"
So said the neighbours. This was eight hours since.

Guido heard all, swore the befitting oaths,
Shook off the relics of his poison-drench,
Got horse, was fairly started in pursuit
With never a friend to follow, found the track
Fast enough, 't was the straight Perugia way,
Trod soon upon their very heels, too late
By a minute only at Camoscia, reached
Chiusi, Foligno, ever the fugitives
Just ahead, just out as he galloped in,
Getting the good news ever fresh and fresh,
Till, lo, at the last stage of all, last post
Before Rome,—as we say, in sight of Rome
And safety (there's impunity at Rome
For priests, you know) at—what's the little place?—
What some call Castelnuovo, some just call
The Osteria, because o' the post-house inn,
There, at the journey's all but end, it seems,
Triumph deceived them and undid them both,
Secure they might foretaste felicity
Nor fear surprisal: so, they were surprised.
There did they halt at early evening, there
Did Guido overtake them: 't was day-break;
He came in time enough, not time too much,
Since in the courtyard stood the Canon's self
Urging the drowsy stable-grooms to haste
Harness the horses, have the journey end,
The trifling four-hours'-running, so reach Rome.
And the other runaway, the wife? Upstairs,
Still on the couch where she had spent the night,
One couch in one room, and one room for both.
So gained they six hours, so were lost thereby.

Sir, what's the sequel? Lover and beloved
Fall on their knees? No impudence serves here?
They beat their breasts and beg for easy death,
Confess this, that and the other?—anyhow
Confess there wanted not some likelihood
To the supposition so preposterous,
That, O Pompilia, thy sequestered eyes
Had noticed, straying o'er the prayerbook's edge,
More of the Canon than that black his coat,
Buckled his shoes were, broad his hat of brim:
And that, O Canon, thy religious care
Had breathed too soft a benedicite
To banish trouble from a lady's breast
So lonely and so lovely, nor so lean!
This you expect? Indeed, then, much you err.
Not to such ordinary end as this
Had Caponsacchi flung the cassock far,
Doffed the priest, donned the perfect cavalier.
The die was cast: over shoes over boots:
And just as she, I presently shall show,
Pompilia, soon looked Helen to the life,
Recumbent upstairs in her pink and white,
So, in the inn-yard, bold as 't were Troy-town,
There strutted Paris in correct costume,
Cloak, cap and feather, no appointment missed,
Even to a wicked-looking sword at side,
He seemed to find and feel familiar at.
Nor wanted words as ready and as big
As the part he played, the bold abashless one.
"I interposed to save your wife from death,
"Yourself from shame, the true and only shame:
"Ask your own conscience else!—or, failing that,
"What I have done I answer, anywhere,
"Here, if you will; you see I have a sword:
"Or, since I have a tonsure as you taunt,
"At Rome, by all means,—priests to try a priest.
"Only, speak where your wife's voice can reply!"
And then he fingered at the sword again.
So, Guido called, in aid and witness both,
The Public Force. The Commissary came,
Officers also; they secured the priest;
Then, for his more confusion, mounted up
With him, a guard on either side, the stair
To the bed-room where still slept or feigned a sleep
His paramour and Guido's wife: in burst
The company and bade her wake and rise.

Her defence? This. She woke, saw, sprang upright
I' the midst and stood as terrible as truth,
Sprang to her husband's side, caught at the sword
That hung there useless,—since they held each hand
O' the lover, had disarmed him properly,—
And in a moment out flew the bright thing
Full in the face of Guido: but for help
O' the guards who held her back and pinioned her
With pains enough, she had finished you my tale
With a flourish of red all round it, pinked her man
Prettily; but she fought them one to six.
They stopped that,—but her tongue continued free:
She spat forth such invective at her spouse,
O'erfrothed him with such foam of murderer,
Thief, pandar—that the popular tide soon turned,
The favour of the very sbirri, straight
Ebbed from the husband, set toward his wife,
People cried "Hands off, pay a priest respect!"
And "persecuting fiend" and "martyred saint"
Began to lead a measure from lip to lip.

But facts are facts and flinch not; stubborn things,
And the question "Prithee, friend, how comes my purse
"I' the poke of you?"—admits of no reply.
Here was a priest found out in masquerade,
A wife caught playing truant if no more;
While the Count, mortified in mien enough,
And, nose to face, an added palm in length,
Was plain writ "husband" every piece of him:
Capture once made, release could hardly be.
Beside, the prisoners both made appeal,
"Take us to Rome!"

Taken to Rome they were;
The husband trooping after, piteously,
Tail between legs, no talk of triumph now—
No honour set firm on its feet once more
On two dead bodies of the guilty,—nay,
No dubious salve to honour's broken pate
From chance that, after all, the hurt might seem
A skin-deep matter, scratch that leaves no scar:
For Guido's first search,—ferreting, poor soul,
Here, there and everywhere in the vile place
Abandoned to him when their backs were turned,
Found,—furnishing a last and best regale,—
All the love-letters bandied 'twixt the pair
Since the first timid trembling into life
O' the love-star till its stand at fiery full.
Mad prose, mad verse, fears, hopes, triumph, despair,
Avowal, disclaimer, plans, dates, names,—was nought
Wanting to prove, if proof consoles at all,
That this had been but the fifth act o' the piece
Whereof the due proemium, months ago
These playwrights had put forth, and ever since
Matured the middle, added 'neath his nose.
He might go cross himself: the case was clear.

Therefore to Rome with the clear case; there plead
Each party its best, and leave law do each right,
Let law shine forth and show, as God in heaven,
Vice prostrate, virtue pedestalled at last,
The triumph of truth! What else shall glad our gaze
When once authority has knit the brow
And set the brain behind it to decide
Between the wolf and sheep turned litigants?
"This is indeed a business!" law shook head:
"A husband charges hard things on a wife,
"The wife as hard o' the husband: whose fault here?
"A wife that flies her husband's house, does wrong:
"The male friend's interference looks amiss,
"Lends a suspicion: but suppose the wife,
"On the other hand, be jeopardized at home—
"Nay, that she simply hold, ill-groundedly,
"An apprehension she is jeopardized,—
"And further, if the friend partake the fear,
"And, in a commendable charity
"Which trusteth all, trust her that she mistrusts,—
"What do they but obey law—natural law?
"Pretence may this be and a cloak for sin,
"And circumstances that concur i' the close
"Hint as much, loudly—yet scarce loud enough
"To drown the answer 'strange may yet be true:'
"Innocence often looks like guiltiness.
"The accused declare that in thought, word and deed,
"Innocent were they both from first to last
"As male-babe haply laid by female-babe
"At church on edge of the baptismal font
"Together for a minute, perfect-pure.
"Difficult to believe, yet possible,
"As witness Joseph, the friend's patron-saint.
"The night at the inn—there charity nigh chokes
"Ere swallow what they both asseverate;
"Though down the gullet faith may feel it go,
"When mindful of what flight fatigued the flesh
"Out of its faculty and fleshliness,
"Subdued it to the soul, as saints assure:
"So long a flight necessitates a fall
"On the first bed, though in a lion's den,
"And the first pillow, though the lion's back:
"Difficult to believe, yet possible.
"Last come the letters' bundled beastliness—
"Authority repugns give glance to—nay,
"Turns head, and almost lets her whip-lash fall;
"Yet here a voice cries 'Respite!' from the clouds—
"the accused, both in a tale, protest, disclaim,
"Abominate the horror: 'Not my hand'
"Asserts the friend—'Nor mine' chimes in the wife,
"'Seeing I have no hand, nor write at all.'
"Illiterate—for she goes on to ask,
"What if the friend did pen now verse now prose,
"Commend it to her notice now and then?
"'T was pearls to swine: she read no more than wrote,
"And kept no more than read, for as they fell
"She ever brushed the burr-like things away,
"Or, better, burned them, quenched the fire in smoke.
"As for this fardel, filth and foolishness,
"She sees it now the first time: burn it too!
"While for his part the friend vows ignorance
"Alike of what bears his name and bears here:
"'T is forgery, a felon's masterpiece,
"And, as 't is said the fox still finds the stench,
"Home-manufacture and the husband's work.
"Though he confesses, the ingenuous friend,
"That certain missives, letters of a sort,
"Flighty and feeble, which assigned themselves
"To the wife, no less have fallen, far too oft,
"In his path: wherefrom he understood just this—
"That were they verily the lady's own.
"Why, she who penned them, since he never saw
"Save for one minute the mere face of her,
"Since never had there been the interchange
"Of word with word between them all their life,
"Why, she must be the fondest of the frail,
"And fit, she for the 'apage' he flung,
"Her letters for the flame they went to feed!
"But, now he sees her face and hears her speech,
"Much he repents him if, in fancy-freak
"For a moment the minutest measurable,
"He coupled her with the first flimsy word
"O' the self-spun fabric some mean spider-soul
"Furnished forth: stop his films and stamp on him!
"Never was such a tangled knottiness,
"But thus authority cuts the Gordian through,
"And mark how her decision suits the need!
"Here's troublesomeness, scandal on both sides,
"Plenty of fault to find, no absolute crime:
"Let each side own its fault and make amends!
"What does a priest in cavalier's attire
"Consorting publicly with vagrant wives
"In quarters close as the confessional,
"Though innocent of harm? 'T is harm enough:
"Let him pay it,—say, be relegate a good
"Three years, to spend in some place not too far
"Nor yet too near, midway 'twixt near and far,
"Rome and Arezzo,—Civita we choose,
"Where he may lounge away time, live at large,
"Find out the proper function of a priest,
"Nowise an exile,—that were punishment,—
"But one our love thus keeps out of harm's way
"Not more from the husband's anger than, mayhap
"His own … say, indiscretion, waywardness,
"And wanderings when Easter eves grow warm.
"For the wife,—well, our best step to take with her,
"On her own showing, were to shift her root
"From the old cold shade and unhappy soil
"Into a generous ground that fronts the south
"Where, since her callow soul, a-shiver late,
"Craved simply warmth and called mere passers-by
"To the rescue, she should have her fill of shine.
"Do house and husband hinder and not help?
"Why then, forget both and stay here at peace,
"Come into our community, enroll
"Herself along with those good Convertites,
"Those sinners saved, those Magdalens re-made,
"Accept their ministration, well bestow
"Her body and patiently possess her soul,
"Until we see what better can be done.
"Last for the husband: if his tale prove true,
"Well is he rid of two domestic plagues—
"Both wife that ailed, do whatsoever he would,
"And friend of hers that undertook the cure.
"See, what a double load we lift from breast!
"Off he may go, return, resume old life,
"Laugh at the priest here and Pompilia there
"In limbo each and punished for their pains,
"And grateful tell the inquiring neighbourhood—
"In Rome, no wrong but has its remedy."
The case was closed. Now, am I fair or no
In what I utter? Do I state the facts,
Having forechosen a side? I promised you!

The Canon Caponsacchi, then, was sent
To change his garb, re-trim his tonsure, tie
The clerkly silk round, every plait correct,
Make the impressive entry on his place
Of relegation, thrill his Civita,
As Ovid, a like sufferer in the cause,
Planted a primrose-patch by Pontus: where,—
What with much culture of the sonnet-stave
And converse with the aborigines,
Soft savagery of eyes unused to roll
And hearts that all awry went pit-a-pat
And wanted setting right in charity,—
What were a couple of years to while away?
Pompilia, as enjoined, betook herself
To the aforesaid Convertites, soft sisterhood
In Via Lungara, where the light ones live,
Spin, pray, then sing like linnets o'er the flax.
"Anywhere, anyhow, out of my husband's house
"Is heaven," cried she,—was therefore suited so.
But for Count Guido Franceschini, he-
The injured man thus righted—found no heaven
I' the house when he returned there, I engage,
Was welcomed by the city turned upside down
In a chorus of inquiry. "What, back—you?
"And no wife? Left her with the Penitents?
"Ah, being young and pretty, 't were a shame
"To have her whipped in public: leave the job
"To the priests who understand! Such priests as yours—
"(Pontifex Maximus whipped Vestals once)
"Our madcap Caponsacchi: think of him!
"So, he fired up, showed fight and skill of fence?
"Ay, you drew also, but you did not fight!
"The wiser, 't is a word and a blow with him,
"True Caponsacchi, of old Head-i'-the-Sack
"That fought at Fiesole ere Florence was:
"He had done enough, to firk you were too much.
"And did the little lady menace you,
"Make at your breast with your own harmless sword?
"The spitfire! Well, thank God you're safe and sound,
"Have kept the sixth commandment whether or no
"The lady broke the seventh: I only wish
"I were as saint-like, could contain me so.
"I, the poor sinner, fear I should have left
"Sir Priest no nose-tip to turn up at me!"
You, Sir, who listen but interpose no word,
Ask yourself, had you borne a baiting thus?
Was it enough to make a wise man mad?
Oh, but I'll have your verdict at the end!

Well, not enough, it seems: such mere hurt falls,
Frets awhile, aches long, then grows less and less,
And so gets done with. Such was not the scheme
O' the pleasant Comparini: on Guido's wound
Ever in due succession, drop by drop,
Came slow distilment from the alembic here
Set on to simmer by Canidian hate,
Corrosives keeping the man's misery raw.
First fire-drop,—when he thought to make the best
O' the bad, to wring from out the sentence passed,
Poor, pitiful, absurd although it were,
Yet what might eke him out result enough
And make it worth while to have had the right
And not the wrong i' the matter judged at Rome.
Inadequate her punishment, no less
Punished in some slight sort his wife had been;
Then, punished for adultery, what else?
On such admitted crime he thought to seize,
And institute procedure in the courts
Which cut corruption of this kind from man,
Cast loose a wife proved loose and castaway:
He claimed in due form a divorce at least.

This claim was met now by a counterclaim:
Pompilia sought divorce from bed and board
Of Guido, whose outrageous cruelty,
Whose mother's malice and whose brother's hate
Were just the white o' the charge, such dreadful depths
Blackened its centre,—hints of worse than hate,
Love from that brother, by that Guido's guile,
That mother's prompting. Such reply was made,
So was the engine loaded, wound up, sprung
On Guido, who received bolt full in breast;
But no less bore up, giddily perhaps.
He had the Abate Paolo still in Rome,
Brother and friend and fighter on his side:
They rallied in a measure, met the foe
Manlike, joined battle in the public courts,
As if to shame supine law from her sloth:
And waiting her award, let beat the while
Arezzo's banter, Rome's buffoonery,
On this ear and on that ear, deaf alike,
Safe from worse outrage. Let a scorpion nip,
And never mind till he contorts his tail!
But there was sting i' the creature; thus it struck.
Guido had thought in his simplicity—
That lying declaration of remorse,
That story of the child which was no child
And motherhood no motherhood at all,
—That even this sin might have its sort of good
Inasmuch as no question more could be,—
Call it false, call the story true,—no claim
Of further parentage pretended now:
The parents had abjured all right, at least,
I' the woman owned his wife: to plead right still
Were to declare the abjuration false:
He was relieved from any fear henceforth
Their hands might touch, their breath defile again
Pompilia with his name upon her yet.
Well, no: the next news was, Pompilia's health
Demanded change after full three long weeks
Spent in devotion with the Sisterhood,—
Which rendered sojourn,—so the court opined,—
Too irksome, since the convent's walls were high
And windows narrow, now was air enough
Nor light enough, but all looked prison-like,
The last thing which had come in the court's head.
Propose a new expedient therefore,—this!
She had demanded—had obtained indeed,
By intervention of her pitying friends
Or perhaps lovers—(beauty in distress,
Beauty whose tale is the town-talk beside,
Never lacks friendship's arm about her neck)—
Obtained remission of the penalty,
Permitted transfer to some private place
Where better air, more light, new food might soothe—
Incarcerated (call it, all the same)
At some sure friend's house she must keep inside,
Be found in at requirement fast enough,—
Domus pro carcere, in Roman style.
You keep the house i' the main, as most men do
And all good women: but free otherwise,
Should friends arrive, to lodge them and what not?
And such a domum, such a dwelling-place,
Having all Rome to choose from, where chose she?
What house obtained Pompilia's preference?
Why, just the Comparini's—just, do you mark,
Theirs who renounced all part and lot in her
So long as Guido could be robbed thereby,
And only fell back on relationship
And found their daughter safe and sound again
When that might surelier stab him: yes, the pair
Who, as I told you, first had baited hook
With this poor gilded fly Pompilia-thing,
Then caught the fish, pulled Guido to the shore
And gutted him,—not found a further use
For the bait, would trail the gauze wings yet again
I' the way of what new swimmer passed their stand.
They took Pompilia to their hiding-place—
Not in the heart of Rome as formerly,
Under observance, subject to control—
But out o' the way,—or in the way, who knows?
That blind mute villa lurking by the gate
At Via Paulina, not so hard to miss
By the honest eye, easy enough to find
In twilight by marauders: where perchance
Some muffled Caponsacchi might repair,
Employ odd moments when he too tried change,
Found that a friend's abode was pleasanter
Than relegation, penance and the rest.

Come, here's the last drop does its worst to wound
Here's Guido poisoned to the bone, you say
Your boasted still's full strain and strength: not so!
One master-squeeze from screw shall bring to birth
The hoard i' the heart o' the toad, hell's quintessence.
He learned the true convenience of the change,
And why a convent lacks the cheerful hearts
And helpful hands which female straits require,
When, in the blind mute villa by the gate,
Pompilia—what? sang, danced, saw company?
—Gave birth, Sir, to a child, his son and heir,
Or Guido's heir and Caponsacchi's son.
I want your word now: what do you say to this?
What would say little Arezzo and great Rome,
And what did God say and the devil say
One at each ear o' the man, the husband, now
The father? Why, the overburdened mind
Broke down, what was a brain became a blaze.
In fury of the moment—(that first news
Fell on the Count among his vines, it seems,
Doing his farm-work,)—why, he summoned steward,
Called in the first four hard hands and stout hearts
From field and furrow, poured forth his appeal,
Not to Rome's law and gospel any more,
But this clown with a mother or a wife,
That clodpole with a sister or a son:
And, whereas law and gospel held their peace,
What wonder if the sticks and stones cried out?

All five soon somehow found themselves at Rome,
At the villa door: there was the warmth and light—
The sense of life so just an inch inside—
Some angel must have whispered "One more chance!"


Knocked at the door,—"Who is it knocks?" cried one.
"I will make," surely Guido's angel urged,
"One final essay, last experiment,
"Speak the word, name the name from out all names
"Which, if,—as doubtless strong illusions are,
"And strange disguisings whereby truth seems false,
"And, since I am but man, I dare not do
"God's work until assured I see with God,—
"If I should bring my lips to breathe that name
"And they be innocent,—nay, by one mere touch
"Of innocence redeemed from utter guilt,-
"That name will bar the door and bid fate pass.
"I will not say 'It is a messenger,
"'A neighbour, even a belated man,
"'Much less your husband's friend, your husband's self:'
"At such appeal the door is bound to ope.
"But I will say"—here's rhetoric and to spare!
Why, Sir, the stumbling-block is cursed and kicked,
Block though it be; the name that brought offence
Will bring offence: the burnt child dreads the fire
Although that fire feed on some taper-wick
Which never left the altar nor singed a fly:
And had a harmless man tripped you by chance,
How would you wait him, stand or step aside,
When next you heard he rolled your way? Enough.


"Giuseppe Caponsacchi!" Guido cried;
And open flew the door: enough again.
Vengeance, you know, burst, like a mountain-wave
That holds a monster in it, over the house,
And wiped its filthy four walls free at last
With a wash of hell-fire,—father, mother, wife,
Killed them all, bathed his name clean in their blood,
And, reeking so, was caught, his friends and he,
Haled hither and imprisoned yesternight
O' the day all this was.

Now, Sir, tale is told,
Of how the old couple come to lie in state
Though hacked to pieces,—never, the expert say,
So thorough a study of stabbing—while the wife
(Viper-like, very difficult to slay)
Writhes still through every ring of her, poor wretch,
At the Hospital hard by—survives, we'll hope,
To somewhat purify her putrid soul
By full confession, make so much amends
While time lasts; since at day's end die she must.

For Caponsacchi,—why, they'll have him here,
As hero of the adventure, who so fit
To figure in the coming Carnival?
'T will make the fortune of whate'er saloon
Hears him recount, with helpful cheek, and eye
Hotly indignant now, now dewy-dimmed,
The incidents of flight, pursuit, surprise,
Capture, with hints of kisses all between—
While Guido, wholly unromantic spouse,
No longer fit to laugh at since the blood
Gave the broad farce an all too brutal air,
Why, he and those four luckless friends of his
May tumble in the straw this bitter day—
Laid by the heels i' the New Prison, I hear,
To bide their trial, since trial, and for the life,
Follows if but for form's sake: yes, indeed!

But with a certain issue: no dispute,
"Try him," bids law: formalities oblige:
But as to the issue,—look me in the face!—
If the law thinks to find them guilty, Sir,
Master or men—touch one hair of the five,
Then I say in the name of all that's left
Of honour in Rome, civility i' the world
Whereof Rome boasts herself the central source,—
There's an end to all hope of justice more.
Astræa's gone indeed, let hope go too!
Who is it dares impugn the natural law,
Deny God's word "the faithless wife shall die"?
What, are we blind? How can we fail to learn
This crowd of miseries make the man a mark,
Accumulate on one devoted head
For our example?—yours and mine who read
Its lesson thus—"Henceforward let none dare
"Stand, like a natural in the public way,
"Letting the very urchins twitch his beard
"And tweak his nose, to earn a nickname so,
"Be styled male-Grissel or else modern Job!"
Had Guido, in the twinkling of an eye,
Summed up the reckoning, promptly paid himself,
That morning when he came up with the pair
At the wayside inn,—exacted his just debt
By aid of what first mattock, pitchfork, axe
Came to hand in the helpful stable-yard,
And with that axe, if providence so pleased,
Cloven each head, by some Rolando-stroke,
In one clean cut from crown to clavicle,
—Slain the priest-gallant, the wife-paramour,
Sticking, for all defence, in each skull's cleft
The rhyme and reason of the stroke thus dealt,
To-wit, those letters and last evidence
Of shame, each package in its proper place,—
Bidding, who pitied, undistend the skulls,—
I say, the world had praised the man. But no!
That were too plain, too straight; too simply just!
He hesitates, calls law forsooth to help.
And law, distasteful to who calls in law
When honour is beforehand and would serve,
What wonder if law hesitate in turn,
Plead her disuse to calls o' the kind, reply
(Smiling a little) "'T is yourself assess
"The worth of what's lost, sum of damage done.
"What you touched with so light a finger-tip,
"You whose concern it was to grasp the thing,
"Why must law gird herself and grapple with?
"Law, alien to the actor whose warm blood
"Asks heat from law whose veins run lukewarm milk,—
"What you dealt lightly with, shall law make out
"Heinous forsooth?"

Sir, what's the good of law
In a case o'the kind? None, as she all but says.
Call in law when a neighbour breaks your fence,
Cribs from your field, tampers with rent or lease,
Touches the purse or pocket,—but wooes your wife?
No: take the old way trod when men were men!
Guido preferred the new path,—for his pains,
Stuck in a quagmire, floundered worse and worse
Until he managed somehow scramble back
Into the safe sure rutted road once more,
Revenged his own wrong like a gentleman.
Once back 'mid the familiar prints, no doubt
He made too rash amends for his first fault,
Vaulted too loftily over what barred him late,
And lit i' the mire again,—the common chance,
The natural over-energy: the deed
Maladroit yields three deaths instead of one,
And one life left: for where's the Canon's corpse?
All which is the worse for Guido, but, be frank—
The better for you and me and all the world,
Husbands of wives, especially in Rome.
The thing is put right, in the old place,—ay,
The rod hangs on its nail behind the door,
Fresh from the brine: a matter I commend
To the notice, during Carnival that's near,
Of a certain what's-his-name and jackanapes
Somewhat too civil of eves with lute and song
About a house here, where I keep a wife.
(You, being his cousin, may go tell him so.)

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XI. Guido

You are the Cardinal Acciaiuoli, and you,
Abate Panciatichi—two good Tuscan names:
Acciaiuoli—ah, your ancestor it was
Built the huge battlemented convent-block
Over the little forky flashing Greve
That takes the quick turn at the foot o' the hill
Just as one first sees Florence: oh those days!
'T is Ema, though, the other rivulet,
The one-arched brown brick bridge yawns over,—yes,
Gallop and go five minutes, and you gain
The Roman Gate from where the Ema's bridged:
Kingfishers fly there: how I see the bend
O'erturreted by Certosa which he built,
That Senescal (we styled him) of your House!
I do adjure you, help me, Sirs! My blood
Comes from as far a source: ought it to end
This way, by leakage through their scaffold-planks
Into Rome's sink where her red refuse runs?
Sirs, I beseech you by blood-sympathy,
If there be any vile experiment
In the air,—if this your visit simply prove,
When all's done, just a well-intentioned trick,
That tries for truth truer than truth itself,
By startling up a man, ere break of day,
To tell him he must die at sunset,—pshaw!
That man's a Franceschini; feel his pulse,
Laugh at your folly, and let's all go sleep!
You have my last word,—innocent am I
As Innocent my Pope and murderer,
Innocent as a babe, as Mary's own,
As Mary's self,—I said, say and repeat,—
And why, then, should I die twelve hours hence? I—
Whom, not twelve hours ago, the gaoler bade
Turn to my straw-truss, settle and sleep sound
That I might wake the sooner, promptlier pay
His due of meat-and-drink-indulgence, cross
His palm with fee of the good-hand, beside,
As gallants use who go at large again!
For why? All honest Rome approved my part;
Whoever owned wife, sister, daughter,—nay,
Mistress,—had any shadow of any right
That looks like right, and, all the more resolved,
Held it with tooth and nail,—these manly men
Approved! I being for Rome, Rome was for me.
Then, there's the point reserved, the subterfuge
My lawyers held by, kept for last resource,
Firm should all else,—the impossible fancy!—fail,
And sneaking burgess-spirit win the day.
The knaves! One plea at least would hold,—they laughed,—
One grappling-iron scratch the bottom-rock
Even should the middle mud let anchor go!
I hooked my cause on to the Clergy's,—plea
Which, even if law tipped off my hat and plume,
Revealed my priestly tonsure, saved me so.
The Pope moreover, this old Innocent,
Being so meek and mild and merciful,
So fond o' the poor and so fatigued of earth,
So … fifty thousand devils in deepest hell!
Why must he cure us of our strange conceit
Of the angel in man's likeness, that we loved
And looked should help us at a pinch? He help?
He pardon? Here's his mind and message—death!
Thank the good Pope! Now, is he good in this,
Never mind, Christian,—no such stuff's extant,—
But will my death do credit to his reign,
Show he both lived and let live, so was good?
Cannot I live if he but like? "The law!"
Why, just the law gives him the very chance,
The precise leave to let my life alone,
Which the archangelic soul of him (he says)
Yearns after! Here they drop it in his palm,
My lawyers, capital o' the cursed kind,—
Drop life to take and hold and keep: but no!
He sighs, shakes head, refuses to shut hand,
Motions away the gift they bid him grasp,
And of the coyness comes—that off I run
And down I go, he best knows whither! mind,
He knows, who sets me rolling all the same!
Disinterested Vicar of our Lord,
This way he abrogates and disallows,
Nullifies and ignores,—reverts in fine
To the good and right, in detriment of me!
Talk away! Will you have the naked truth?
He's sick of his life's supper,—swallowed lies:
So, hobbling bedward, needs must ease his maw
Just where I sit o' the door-sill. Sir Abate,
Can you do nothing? Friends, we used to frisk:
What of this sudden slash in a friend's face,
This cut across our good companionship
That showed its front so gay when both were young?
Were not we put into a beaten path,
Bid pace the world, we nobles born and bred,
We body of friends with each his scutcheon full
Of old achievement and impunity,—
Taking the laugh of morn and Sol's salute
As forth we fared, pricked on to breathe our steeds
And take equestrian sport over the green
Under the blue, across the crop,—what care?
If we went prancing up hill and down dale,
In and out of the level and the straight,
By the bit of pleasant byeway, where was harm?
Still Sol salutes me and the morning laughs:
I see my grandsire's hoof-prints,—point the spot
Where he drew rein, slipped saddle, and stabbed knave
For daring throw gibe—much less, stone—from pale:
Then back, and on, and up with the cavalcade.
Just so wend we, now canter, now converse,
Till, 'mid the jauncing pride and jaunty port,
Something of a sudden jerks at somebody—
A dagger is out, a flashing cut and thrust,
Because I play some prank my grandsire played,
And here I sprawl: where is the company? Gone!
A trot and a trample! only I lie trapped,
Writhe in a certain novel springe just set
By the good old Pope: I'm first prize. Warn me? Why?
Apprise me that the law o' the game is changed?
Enough that I'm a warning, as I writhe,
To all and each my fellows of the file,
And make law plain henceforward past mistake,
"For such a prank, death is the penalty!"
Pope the Five Hundredth (what do I know or care?)
Deputes your Eminency and Abateship
To announce that, twelve hours from this time, he needs
I just essay upon my body and soul
The virtue of his brand-new engine, prove
Represser of the pranksome! I'm the first!
Thanks. Do you know what teeth you mean to try
The sharpness of, on this soft neck and throat?
I know it,—I have seen and hate it,—ay,
As you shall, while I tell you! Let me talk,
Or leave me, at your pleasure! talk I must:
What is your visit but my lure to talk?
Nay, you have something to disclose?—a smile,
At end of the forced sternness, means to mock
The heart-beats here? I call your two hearts stone!
Is your charge to stay with me till I die?
Be tacit as your bench, then! Use your ears,
I use my tongue: how glibly yours will run
At pleasant supper-time … God's curse! … to-night
When all the guests jump up, begin so brisk
"Welcome, his Eminence who shrived the wretch!
"Now we shall have the Abate's story!"

Life!
How I could spill this overplus of mine
Among those hoar-haired, shrunk-shanked odds and ends
Of body and soul old age is chewing dry!
Those windlestraws that stare while purblind death
Mows here, mows there, makes hay of juicy me,
And misses just the bunch of withered weed
Would brighten hell and streak its smoke with flame!
How the life I could shed yet never shrink,
Would drench their stalks with sap like grass in May!
Is it not terrible, I entreat you, Sirs?—
With manifold and plenitudinous life,
Prompt at death's menace to give blow for threat,
Answer his "Be thou not!" by "Thus I am!"—
Terrible so to be alive yet die?

How I live, how I see! so,—how I speak!
Lucidity of soul unlocks the lips:
I never had the words at will before.
How I see all my folly at a glance!
"A man requires a woman and a wife:"
There was my folly; I believed the saw.
I knew that just myself concerned myself,
Yet needs must look for what I seemed to lack,
In a woman,—why, the woman's in the man!
Fools we are, how we learn things when too late!
Overmuch life turns round my woman-side:
The male and female in me, mixed before,
Settle of a sudden: I'm my wife outright
In this unmanly appetite for truth,
This careless courage as to consequence,
This instantaneous sight through things and through,
This voluble rhetoric, if you please,—'t is she!
Here you have that Pompilia whom I slew,
Also the folly for which I slew her!

Fool!
And, fool-like, what is it I wander from?
What did I say of your sharp iron tooth?
Ah,—that I know the hateful thing! this way.
I chanced to stroll forth, many a good year gone,
One warm Spring eve in Rome, and unaware
Looking, mayhap, to count what stars were out,
Came on your fine axe in a frame, that fails
And so cuts off a man's head underneath,
Mannaia,—thus we made acquaintance first:
Out of the way, in a by-part o' the town,
At the Mouth-of-Truth o' the river-side, you know:
One goes by the Capitol: and wherefore coy,
Retiring out of crowded noisy Rome?
Because a very little time ago
It had done service, chopped off head from trunk
Belonging to a fellow whose poor house
The thing must make a point to stand before—
Felice Whatsoever-was-the-name
Who stabled buffaloes and so gained bread,
(Our clowns unyoke them in the ground hard by)
And, after use of much improper speech,
Had struck at Duke Some-title-or-other's face,
Because he kidnapped, carried away and kept
Felice's sister who would sit and sing
I' the filthy doorway while she plaited fringe
To deck the brutes with,—on their gear it goes,—
The good girl with the velvet in her voice.
So did the Duke, so did Felice, so
Did Justice, intervening with her axe.
There the man-mutilating engine stood
At ease, both gay and grim, like a Swiss guard
Off duty,—purified itself as well,
Getting dry, sweet and proper for next week,—
And doing incidental good, 't was hoped
To the rough lesson-lacking populace
Who now and then, forsooth, must right their wrongs!
There stood the twelve-foot-square of scaffold, railed
Considerately round to elbow-height,
For fear an officer should tumble thence
And sprain his ankle and be lame a month,
Through starting when the axe fell and head too!
Railed likewise were the steps whereby 't was reached.
All of it painted red: red, in the midst,
Ran up two narrow tall beams barred across,
Since from the summit, some twelve feet to reach,
The iron plate with the sharp shearing edge
Had slammed, jerked, shot, slid,—I shall soon find which!—
And so lay quiet, fast in its fit place,
The wooden half-moon collar, now eclipsed
By the blade which blocked its curvature: apart,
The other half,—the under half-moon board
Which, helped by this, completes a neck's embrace,—
Joined to a sort of desk that wheels aside
Out of the way when done with,—down you kneel,
In you're pushed, over you the other drops,
Tight you're clipped, whiz, there's the blade cleaves its best,
Out trundles body, down flops head on floor,
And where's your soul gone? That, too, I shall find!
This kneeling place was red, red, never fear!
But only slimy-like with paint, not blood,
For why? a decent pitcher stood at hand,
A broad dish to hold sawdust, and a broom
By some unnamed utensil,—scraper-rake,—
Each with a conscious air of duty done.
Underneath, loungers,—boys and some few men,—
Discoursed this platter, named the other tool,
Just as, when grooms tie up and dress a steed,
Boys lounge and look on, and elucubrate
What the round brush is used for, what the square,—
So was explained—to me the skill-less then—
The manner of the grooming for next world
Undergone by Felice What's-his-name.
There's no such lovely month in Rome as May—
May's crescent is no half-moon of red plank,
And came now tilting o'er the wave i' the west,
One greenish-golden sea, right 'twixt those bars
Of the engine—I began acquaintance with,
Understood, hated, hurried from before,
To have it out of sight and cleanse my soul!
Here it is all again, conserved for use:
Twelve hours hence, I may know more, not hate worse.

That young May-moon-month! Devils of the deep!
Was not a Pope then Pope as much as now?
Used not he chirrup o'er the Merry Tales,
Chuckle,—his nephew so exact the wag
To play a jealous cullion such a trick
As wins the wife i' the pleasant story! Well?
Why do things change? Wherefore is Rome un-Romed?
I tell you, ere Felice's corpse was cold,
The Duke, that night, threw wide his palace-doors,
Received the compliments o' the quality
For justice done him,—bowed and smirked his best,
And in return passed round a pretty thing,
A portrait of Felice's sister's self,
Florid old rogue Albano's masterpiece,
As—better than virginity in rags—
Bouncing Europa on the back o' the bull:
They laughed and took their road the safelier home.
Ah, but times change, there's quite another Pope,
I do the Duke's deed, take Felice's place,
And, being no Felice, lout and clout,
Stomach but ill the phrase "I lost my head!"
How euphemistic! Lose what? Lose your ring,
Your snuff-box, tablets, kerchief!—but, your head?
I learnt the process at an early age;
'T was useful knowledge, in those same old days,
To know the way a head is set on neck.
My fencing-master urged "Would you excel?
"Rest not content with mere bold give-and-guard,
"Nor pink the antagonist somehow-anyhow!
"See me dissect a little, and know your game!
"Only anatomy makes a thrust the thing."
Oh Cardinal, those lithe live necks of ours!
Here go the vertebræ, here's Atlas, here
Axis, and here the symphyses stop short,
So wisely and well,—as, o'er a corpse, we cant,—
And here's the silver cord which … what's our word?
Depends from the gold bowl, which loosed (not "lost")
Lets us from heaven to hell,—one chop, we're loose!
"And not much pain i' the process," quoth a sage:
Who told him? Not Felice's ghost, I think!
Such "losing" is scarce Mother Nature's mode.
She fain would have cord ease itself away,
Worn to a thread by threescore years and ten,
Snap while we slumber: that seems bearable.
I'm told one clot of blood extravasate
Ends one as certainly as Roland's sword,—
One drop of lymph suffused proves Oliver's mace,—
Intruding, either of the pleasant pair,
On the arachnoid tunic of my brain.
That's Nature's way of loosing cord!—but Art,
How of Art's process with the engine here,
When bowl and cord alike are crushed across,
Bored between, bruised through? Why, if Fagon's self,
The French Court's pride, that famed practitioner,
Would pass his cold pale lightning of a knife,
Pistoja-ware, adroit 'twixt joint and joint,
With just a "See how facile, gentlefolk!"—
The thing were not so bad to bear! Brute force
Cuts as he comes, breaks in, breaks on, breaks out
O' the hard and soft of you: is that the same?
A lithe snake thrids the hedge, makes throb no leaf:
A heavy ox sets chest to brier and branch,
Bursts somehow through, and leaves one hideous hole
Behind him!

And why, why must this needs be?
Oh, if men were but good! They are not good,
Nowise like Peter: people called him rough,
But if, as I left Rome, I spoke the Saint,
—"Petrus, quo vadis?"—doubtless, I should hear,
"To free the prisoner and forgive his fault!
"I plucked the absolute dead from God's own bar,
"And raised up Dorcas,—why not rescue thee?"
What would cost one such nullifying word?
If Innocent succeeds to Peter's place,
Let him think Peter's thought, speak Peter's speech!
I say, he is bound to it: friends, how say you?
Concede I be all one bloodguiltiness
And mystery of murder in the flesh,
Why should that fact keep the Pope's mouth shut fast?
He execrates my crime,—good!—sees hell yawn
One inch from the red plank's end which I press,—
Nothing is better! What's the consequence?
How should a Pope proceed that knows his cue?
Why, leave me linger out my minute here,
Since close on death comes judgment and comes doom,
Not crib at dawn its pittance from a sheep
Destined ere dewfall to be butcher's-meat!
Think, Sirs, if I have done you any harm,
And you require the natural revenge,
Suppose, and so intend to poison me,
—Just as you take and slip into my draught
The paperful of powder that clears scores,
You notice on my brow a certain blue:
How you both overset the wine at once!
How you both smile! "Our enemy has the plague!
"Twelve hours hence he'll be scraping his bones bare
"Of that intolerable flesh, and die,
"Frenzied with pain: no need for poison here!
"Step aside and enjoy the spectacle!"
Tender for souls are you, Pope Innocent!
Christ's maxim is—one soul outweighs the world:
Respite me, save a soul, then, curse the world!
"No," venerable sire, I hear you smirk,
"No: for Christ's gospel changes names, not things,
"Renews the obsolete, does nothing more!
"Our fire-new gospel is re-tinkered law,
"Our mercy, justice,—Jove's rechristened God,—
"Nay, whereas, in the popular conceit,
"'T is pity that old harsh Law somehow limps,
"Lingers on earth, although Law's day be done,
"Else would benignant Gospel interpose,
"Not furtively as now, but bold and frank
"O'erflutter us with healing in her wings,
"Law being harshness, Gospel only love—
"We tell the people, on the contrary,
"Gospel takes up the rod which Law lets fall;
"Mercy is vigilant when justice sleeps!
"Does Law permit a taste of Gospel-grace?
"The secular arm allow the spiritual power
"To act for once?—no compliment so fine
"As that our Gospel handsomely turn harsh,
"Thrust victim back on Law the nice and coy!"
Yes, you do say so, else you would forgive
Me whom Law does not touch but tosses you!
Don't think to put on the professional face!
You know what I know: casuists as you are,
Each nerve must creep, each hair start, sting and stand,
At such illogical inconsequence!
Dear my friends, do but see! A murder's tried,
There are two parties to the cause: I'm one,
—Defend myself, as somebody must do:
I have the best o' the battle: that's a fact,
Simple fact,—fancies find no place just now.
What though half Rome condemned me? Half approved:
And, none disputes, the luck is mine at last,
All Rome, i' the main, acquitting me: whereon,
What has the Pope to ask but "How finds Law?"
"I find," replies Law, "I have erred this while:
"Guilty or guiltless, Guido proves a priest,
"No layman: he is therefore yours, not mine:
"I bound him: loose him, you whose will is Christ's!"
And now what does this Vicar of our Lord,
Shepherd o' the flock,—one of whose charge bleats sore
For crook's help from the quag wherein it drowns?
Law suffers him employ the crumpled end:
His pleasure is to turn staff, use the point,
And thrust the shuddering sheep, he calls a wolf,
Back and back, down and down to where hell gapes!
"Guiltless," cries Law—"Guilty" corrects the Pope!
"Guilty," for the whim's sake! "Guilty," he somehow thinks,
And anyhow says: 't is truth; he dares not lie!

Others should do the lying. That's the cause
Brings you both here: I ought in decency
Confess to you that I deserve my fate,
Am guilty, as the Pope thinks,—ay, to the end,
Keep up the jest, lie on, lie ever, lie
I' the latest gasp of me! What reason, Sirs?
Because to-morrow will succeed to-day
For you, though not for me: and if I stick
Still to the truth, declare with my last breath,
I die an innocent and murdered man,—
Why, there's the tongue of Rome will wag apace
This time to-morrow: don't I hear the talk!
"So, to the last he proved impenitent?
"Pagans have said as much of martyred saints!
"Law demurred, washed her hands of the whole case.
"Prince Somebody said this, Duke Something, that,
"Doubtless the man's dead, dead enough, don't fear!
"But, hang it, what if there have been a spice,
"A touch of … eh? You see, the Pope's so old,
"Some of us add, obtuse: age never slips
"The chance of shoving youth to face death first!"
And so on. Therefore to suppress such talk
You two come here, entreat I tell you lies,
And end, the edifying way. I end,
Telling the truth! Your self-styled shepherd thieves!
A thief—and how thieves hate the wolves we know:
Damage to theft, damage to thrift, all's one!
The red hand is sworn foe of the black jaw.
That's only natural, that's right enough:
But why the wolf should compliment the thief
With shepherd's title, bark out life in thanks,
And, spiteless, lick the prong that spits him,—eh,
Cardinal? My Abate, scarcely thus!
There, let my sheepskin-garb, a curse on't, go—
Leave my teeth free if I must show my shag!
Repent? What good shall follow? If I pass
Twelve hours repenting, will that fact hold fast
The thirteenth at the horrid dozen's end?
If I fall forthwith at your feet, gnash, tear,
Foam, rave, to give your story the due grace,
Will that assist the engine half-way back
Into its hiding-house?—boards, shaking now,
Bone against bone, like some old skeleton bat
That wants, at winter's end, to wake and prey!
Will howling put the spectre back to sleep?
Ah, but I misconceive your object, Sirs!
Since I want new life like the creature,—life
Being done with here, begins i' the world away:
I shall next have "Come, mortals, and be judged!"
There's but a minute betwixt this and then:
So, quick, be sorry since it saves my soul!
Sirs, truth shall save it, since no lies assist!
Hear the truth, you, whatever you style yourselves,
Civilization and society!
Come, one good grapple, I with all the world!
Dying in cold blood is the desperate thing;
The angry heart explodes, bears off in blaze
The indignant soul, and I'm combustion-ripe.
Why, you intend to do your worst with me!
That's in your eyes! You dare no more than death,
And mean no less. I must make up my mind.
So Pietro,—when I chased him here and there,
Morsel by morsel cut away the life
I loathed,—cried for just respite to confess
And save his soul: much respite did I grant!
Why grant me respite who deserve my doom?
Me—who engaged to play a prize, fight you,
Knowing your arms, and foil you, trick for trick,
At rapier-fence, your match and, maybe, more.
I knew that if I chose sin certain sins,
Solace my lusts out of the regular way
Prescribed me, I should find you in the path,
Have to try skill with a redoubted foe;
You would lunge, I would parry, and make end.
At last, occasion of a murder comes:
We cross blades, I, for all my brag, break guard,
And in goes the cold iron at my breast,
Out at my back, and end is made of me.
You stand confessed the adroiter swordsman,—ay,
But on your triumph you increase, it seems,
Want more of me than lying flat on face:
I ought to raise my ruined head, allege
Not simply I pushed worse blade o' the pair,
But my antagonist dispensed with steel!
There was no passage of arms, you looked me low,
With brow and eye abolished cut and thrust
Nor used the vulgar weapon! This chance scratch,
This incidental hurt, this sort of hole
I' the heart of me? I stumbled, got it so!
Fell on my own sword as a bungler may!
Yourself proscribe such heathen tools, and trust
To the naked virtue: it was virtue stood
Unarmed and awed me,—on my brow there burned
Crime out so plainly intolerably red,
That I was fain to cry—"Down to the dust
"With me, and bury there brow, brand and all!"
Law had essayed the adventure,—but what's Law?
Morality exposed the Gorgon shield!
Morality and Religion conquer me.
If Law sufficed would you come here, entreat
I supplement law, and confess forsooth?
Did not the Trial show things plain enough?
"Ah, but a word of the man's very self
"Would somehow put the keystone in its place
"And crown the arch!" Then take the word you want!

I say that, long ago, when things began,
All the world made agreement, such and such
Were pleasure-giving profit-bearing acts,
But henceforth extra-legal, nor to be:
You must not kill the man whose death would please
And profit you, unless his life stop yours
Plainly, and need so be put aside:
Get the thing by a public course, by law,
Only no private bloodshed as of old!
All of us, for the good of every one,
Renounced such licence and conformed to law:
Who breaks law, breaks pact therefore, helps himself
To pleasure and profit over and above the due,
And must pay forfeit,—pain beyond his share:
For, pleasure being the sole good in the world,
Anyone's pleasure turns to someone's pain,
So, law must watch for everyone,—say we,
Who call things wicked that give too much joy,
And nickname mere reprisal, envy makes,
Punishment: quite right! thus the world goes round.
I, being well aware such pact there was,
I, in my time who found advantage come
Of law's observance and crime's penalty,—
Who, but for wholesome fear law bred in friends,
Had doubtless given example long ago,
Furnished forth some friend's pleasure with my pain,
And, by my death, pieced out his scanty life,—
I could not, for that foolish life of me,
Help risking law's infringement,—I broke bond,
And needs must pay price,—wherefore, here's my head,
Flung with a flourish! But, repentance too?
But pure and simple sorrow for law's breach
Rather than blunderer's-ineptitude?
Cardinal, no! Abate, scarcely thus!
'T is the fault, not that I dared try a fall
With Law and straightway am found undermost,
But that I failed to see, above man's law,
God's precept you, the Christians, recognize?
Colly my cow! Don't fidget, Cardinal!
Abate, cross your breast and count your beads
And exorcize the devil, for here he stands
And stiffens in the bristly nape of neck,
Daring you drive him hence! You, Christians both?
I say, if ever was such faith at all
Born in the world, by your community
Suffered to live its little tick of time,
'T is dead of age, now, ludicrously dead;
Honour its ashes, if you be discreet,
In epitaph only! For, concede its death,
Allow extinction, you may boast unchecked
What feats the thing did in a crazy land
At a fabulous epoch,—treat your faith, that way,
Just as you treat your relics: "Here's a shred
"Of saintly flesh, a scrap of blessed bone,
"Raised King Cophetua, who was dead, to life
"In Mesopotamy twelve centuries since,
"Such was its virtue!"—twangs the Sacristan,
Holding the shrine-box up, with hands like feet
Because of gout in every finger joint:
Does he bethink him to reduce one knob,
Allay one twinge by touching what he vaunts?
I think he half uncrooks fist to catch fee,
But, for the grace, the quality of cure,—
Cophetua was the man put that to proof!
Not otherwise, your faith is shrined and shown
And shamed at once: you banter while you bow!
Do you dispute this? Come, a monster-laugh,
A madman's laugh, allowed his Carnival
Later ten days than when all Rome, but he,
Laughed at the candle-contest: mine's alight,
'T is just it sputter till the puff o' the Pope
End it to-morrow and the world turn Ash.
Come, thus I wave a wand and bring to pass
In a moment, in the twinkle of an eye,
What but that—feigning everywhere grows fact,
Professors turn possessors, realize
The faith they play with as a fancy now,
And bid it operate, have full effect
On every circumstance of life, to-day,
In Rome,—faith's flow set free at fountain-head!
Now, you'll own, at this present, when I speak,
Before I work the wonder, there's no man
Woman or child in Rome, faith's fountain-head,
But might, if each were minded, realize
Conversely unbelief, faith's opposite—
Set it to work on life unflinchingly,
Yet give no symptom of an outward change:
Why should things change because men disbelieve
What's incompatible, in the whited tomb,
With bones and rottenness one inch below?
What saintly act is done in Rome to-day
But might be prompted by the devil,—"is"
I say not,—"has been, and again may be,—"
I do say, full i' the face o' the crucifix
You try to stop my mouth with! Off with it!
Look in your own heart, if your soul have eyes!
You shall see reason why, though faith were fled,
Unbelief still might work the wires and move
Man, the machine, to play a faithful part.
Preside your college, Cardinal, in your cape,
Or,—having got above his head, grown Pope,—
Abate, gird your loins and wash my feet!
Do you suppose I am at loss at all
Why you crook, why you cringe, why fast or feast?
Praise, blame, sit, stand, lie or go!—all of it,
In each of you, purest unbelief may prompt,
And wit explain to who has eyes to see.
But, lo, I wave wand, made the false the true!
Here's Rome believes in Christianity!
What an explosion, how the fragments fly
Of what was surface, mask and make-believe!
Begin now,—look at this Pope's-halberdier
In wasp-like black and yellow foolery!
He, doing duty at the corridor,
Wakes from a muse and stands convinced of sin!
Down he flings halbert, leaps the passage-length,
Pushes into the presence, pantingly
Submits the extreme peril of the case
To the Pope's self,—whom in the world beside?—
And the Pope breaks talk with ambassador,
Bids aside bishop, wills the whole world wait
Till he secure that prize, outweighs the world,
A soul, relieve the sentry of his qualm!
His Altitude the Referendary,—
Robed right, and ready for the usher's word
To pay devoir,—is, of all times, just then
'Ware of a master-stroke of argument
Will cut the spinal cord … ugh, ugh! … I mean,
Paralyse Molinism for evermore!
Straight he leaves lobby, trundles, two and two,
Down steps to reach home, write, if but a word
Shall end the impudence: he leaves who likes
Go pacify the Pope: there's Christ to serve!
How otherwise would men display their zeal?
If the same sentry had the least surmise
A powder-barrel 'neath the pavement lay
In neighbourhood with what might prove a match,
Meant to blow sky-high Pope and presence both—
Would he not break through courtiers, rank and file,
Bundle up, bear off and save body so,
The Pope, no matter for his priceless soul?
There's no fool's-freak here, nought to soundly swinge,
Only a man in earnest, you'll so praise
And pay and prate about, that earth shall ring!
Had thought possessed the Referendary
His jewel-case at home was left ajar,
What would be wrong in running, robes awry,
To be beforehand with the pilferer?
What talk then of indecent haste? Which means,
That both these, each in his degree, would do
Just that,—for a comparative nothing's sake,
And thereby gain approval and reward,—
Which, done for what Christ says is worth the world,
Procures the doer curses, cuffs and kicks.
I call such difference 'twixt act and act,
Sheer lunacy unless your truth on lip
Be recognized a lie in heart of you!
How do you all act, promptly or in doubt,
When there's a guest poisoned at supper-time
And he sits chatting on with spot on cheek?
"Pluck him by the skirt, and round him in the ears,
"Have at him by the beard, warn anyhow!"
Good, and this other friend that's cheat and thief
And dissolute,—go stop the devil's feast,
Withdraw him from the imminent hell-fire!
Why, for your life, you dare not tell your friend
"You lie, and I admonish you for Christ!"
Who yet dare seek that same man at the Mass
To warn him—on his knees, and tinkle near,—
He left a cask a-tilt, a tap unturned,
The Trebbian running: what a grateful jump
Out of the Church rewards your vigilance!
Perform that self-same service just a thought
More maladroitly,—since a bishop sits
At function!—and he budges not, bites lip,—
"You see my case: how can I quit my post?
"He has an eye to any such default.
"See to it, neighbour, I beseech your love!"
He and you know the relative worth of things,
What is permissible or inopportune.
Contort your brows! You know I speak the truth:
Gold is called gold, and dross called dross, i' the Book:
Gold you let lie and dross pick up and prize!
—Despite your muster of some fifty monks
And nuns a-maundering here and mumping there,
Who could, and on occasion would, spurn dross,
Clutch gold, and prove their faith a fact so far,—
I grant you! Fifty times the number squeak
And gibber in the madhouse—firm of faith,
This fellow, that his nose supports the moon;
The other, that his straw hat crowns him Pope:
Does that prove all the world outside insane?
Do fifty miracle-mongers match the mob
That acts on the frank faithless principle,
Born-baptized-and-bred Christian-atheists, each
With just as much a right to judge as you,—
As many senses in his soul, and nerves
I' neck of him as I,—whom, soul and sense,
Neck and nerve, you abolish presently,—
I being the unit in creation now
Who pay the Maker, in this speech of mine,
A creature's duty, spend my last of breath
In bearing witness, even by my worst fault,
To the creature's obligation, absolute,
Perpetual: my worst fault protests, "The faith
"Claims all of me: I would give all she claims,
"But for a spice of doubt: the risk's too rash:
"Double or quits, I play, but, all or nought,
"Exceeds my courage: therefore, I descend
"To the next faith with no dubiety—
"Faith in the present life, made last as long
"And prove as full of pleasure as may hap,
"Whatever pain it cause the world." I'm wrong?
I've had my life, whate'er I lose: I'm right?
I've got the single good there was to gain.
Entire faith, or else complete unbelief!
Aught between has my loathing and contempt,
Mine and God's also, doubtless: ask yourself,
Cardinal, where and how you like a man!
Why, either with your feet upon his head,
Confessed your caudatory, or, at large,
The stranger in the crowd who caps to you
But keeps his distance,—why should he presume?
You want no hanger-on and dropper-off,
Now yours, and now not yours but quite his own,
According as the sky looks black or bright.
Just so I capped to and kept off from faith—
You promised trudge behind through fair and foul,
Yet leave i' the lurch at the first spit of rain.
Who holds to faith whenever rain begins?
What does the father when his son lies dead,
The merchant when his money-bags take wing,
The politician whom a rival ousts?
No case but has its conduct, faith prescribes:
Where's the obedience that shall edify?
Why, they laugh frankly in the face of faith
And take the natural course,—this rends his hair
Because his child is taken to God's breast.
That gnashes teeth and raves at loss of trash
Which rust corrupts and thieves break through and steal,
And this, enabled to inherit earth
Through meekness, curses till your blood runs cold!
Down they all drop to my low level, rest
Heart upon dungy earth that's warm and soft,
And let who please attempt the altitudes.
Each playing prodigal son of heavenly sire,
Turning his nose up at the fatted calf,
Fain to fill belly with the husks, we swine
Did eat by born depravity of taste!

Enough of the hypocrites. But you, Sirs, you—
Who never budged from litter where I lay,
And buried snout i' the draff-box while I fed,
Cried amen to my creed's one article—
"Get pleasure, 'scape pain,—give your preference
"To the immediate good, for time is brief,
"And death ends good and ill and everything!
"What's got is gained, what's gained soon is gained twice,
"And,—inasmuch as faith gains most,—feign faith!"
So did we brother-like pass word about:
—You, now,—like bloody drunkards but half-drunk,
Who fool men yet perceive men find them fools,—
Vexed that a titter gains the gravest mouth,—
O' the sudden you must needs re-introduce
Solemnity, straight sober undue mirth
By a blow dealt me your boon companion here
Who, using the old licence, dreamed of harm
No more than snow in harvest: yet it falls!
You check the merriment effectually
By pushing your abrupt machine i' the midst,
Making me Rome's example: blood for wine!
The general good needs that you chop and change!
I may dislike the hocus-pocus,—Rome,
The laughter-loving people, won't they stare
Chap-fallen!—while serious natures sermonize
"The magistrate, he beareth not the sword
"In vain; who sins may taste its edge, we see!"
Why my sin, drunkards? Where have I abused
Liberty, scandalized you all so much?
Who called me, who crooked finger till I came,
Fool that I was, to join companionship?
I knew my own mind, meant to live my life,
Elude your envy, or else make a stand,
Take my own part and sell you my life dear.
But it was "Fie! No prejudice in the world
"To the proper manly instinct! Cast your lot
"Into our lap, one genius ruled our births,
"We'll compass joy by concert; take with us
"The regular irregular way i' the wood;
"You'll miss no game through riding breast by breast,
"In this preserve, the Church's park and pale,
"Rather than outside where the world lies waste!"
Come, if you said not that, did you say this?
Give plain and terrible warning, "Live, enjoy?
"Such life begins in death and ends in hell!
"Dare you bid us assist your sins, us priests
"Who hurry sin and sinners from the earth?
"No such delight for us, why then for you?
"Leave earth, seek heaven or find its opposite!"
Had you so warned me, not in lying words
But veritable deeds with tongues of flame,
That had been fair, that might have struck a man,
Silenced the squabble between soul and sense,
Compelled him to make mind up, take one course
Or the other, peradventure!—wrong or right,
Foolish or wise, you would have been at least
Sincere, no question,—forced me choose, indulge
Or else renounce my instincts, still play wolf
Or find my way submissive to your fold,
Be red-crossed on my fleece, one sheep the more.
But you as good as bade me wear sheep's wool
Over wolf's skin, suck blood and hide the noise
By mimicry of something like a bleat,—
Whence it comes that because, despite my care,
Because I smack my tongue too loud for once,
Drop baaing, here's the village up in arms!
Have at the wolfs throat, you who hate the breed!
Oh, were it only open yet to choose—
One little time more—whether I'd be free
Your foe, or subsidized your friend forsooth!
Should not you get a growl through the white fangs
In answer to your beckoning! Cardinal,
Abate, managers o' the multitude,
I'd turn your gloved hands to account, be sure!
You should manipulate the coarse rough mob:
'T is you I'd deal directly with, not them,—
Using your fears: why touch the thing myself
When I could see you hunt, and then cry "Shares!
"Quarter the carcase or we quarrel; come,
"Here's the world ready to see justice done!"
Oh, it had been a desperate game, but game
Wherein the winner's chance were worth the pains!
We'd try conclusions!—at the worst, what worse
Than this Mannaia-machine, each minute's talk
Helps push an inch the nearer me? Fool, fool!

You understand me and forgive, sweet Sirs?
I blame you, tear my hair and tell my woe—
All's but a flourish, figure of rhetoric!
One must try each expedient to save life.
One makes fools look foolisher fifty-fold
By putting in their place men wise like you,
To take the full force of an argument
Would buffet their stolidity in vain.
If you should feel aggrieved by the mere wind
O' the blow that means to miss you and maul them,
That's my success! Is it not folly, now,
To say with folk, "A plausible defence—
"We see through notwithstanding, and reject?"
Reject the plausible they do, these fools,
Who never even make pretence to show
One point beyond its plausibility
In favour of the best belief they hold!
"Saint Somebody-or-other raised the dead:"
Did he? How do you come to know as much?
"Know it, what need? The story's plausible,
"Avouched for by a martyrologist,
"And why should good men sup on cheese and leeks
"On such a saint's day, if there were no saint?"
I praise the wisdom of these fools, and straight
Tell them my story—"plausible, but false!"
False, to be sure! What else can story be
That runs—a young wife tired of an old spouse,
Found a priest whom she fled away with,—both
Took their full pleasure in the two-days' flight,
Which a grey-headed greyer-hearted pair,
(Whose best boast was, their life had been a lie)
Helped for the love they bore all liars. Oh,
Here incredulity begins! Indeed?
Allow then, were no one point strictly true,
There's that i' the tale might seem like truth at least
To the unlucky husband,—jaundiced patch—
Jealousy maddens people, why not him?
Say, he was maddened, so forgivable!
Humanity pleads that though the wife were true,
The priest true, and the pair of liars true,
They might seem false to one man in the world!
A thousand gnats make up a serpent's sting,
And many sly soft stimulants to wrath
Compose a formidable wrong at last
That gets called easily by some one name
Not applicable to the single parts,
And so draws down a general revenge,
Excessive if you take crime, fault by fault.
Jealousy! I have known a score of plays,
Were listened to and laughed at in my time
As like the everyday-life on all sides,
Wherein the husband, mad as a March hare,
Suspected all the world contrived his shame.
What did the wife? The wife kissed both eyes blind,
Explained away ambiguous circumstance,
And while she held him captive by the hand,
Crowned his head,—you know what's the mockery,—
By half her body behind the curtain. That's
Nature now! That's the subject of a piece
I saw in Vallombrosa Convent, made
Expressly to teach men what marriage was!
But say "Just so did I misapprehend,
"Imagine she deceived me to my face,"
And that's pretence too easily seen through!
All those eyes of all husbands in all plays,
At stare like one expanded peacock-tail,
Are laughed at for pretending to be keen
While horn-blind: but the moment I step forth—
Oh, I must needs o' the sudden prove a lynx
And look the heart, that stone-wall, through and through!
Such an eye, God's may be,—not yours nor mine.

Yes, presently . . what hour is fleeting now?
When you cut earth away from under me,
I shall be left alone with, pushed beneath
Some such an apparitional dread orb
As the eye of God, since such an eye there glares:
I fancy it go filling up the void
Above my mote-self it devours, or what
Proves—wrath, immensity wreaks on nothingness.
Just how I felt once, couching through the dark,
Hard by Vittiano; young I was, and gay,
And wanting to trap fieldfares: first a spark
Tipped a bent, as a mere dew-globule might
Any stiff grass-stalk on the meadow,—this
Grew fiercer, flamed out full, and proved the sun.
What do I want with proverbs, precepts here?
Away with man! What shall I say to God?
This, if I find the tongue and keep the mind—
"Do Thou wipe out the being of me, and smear
"This soul from off Thy white of things, I blot!
"I am one huge and sheer mistake,—whose fault?
"Not mine at least, who did not make myself!"
Someone declares my wife excused me so!
Perhaps she knew what argument to use.
Grind your teeth, Cardinal: Abate, writhe!
What else am I to cry out in my rage,
Unable to repent one particle
O' the past? Oh, how I wish some cold wise man
Would dig beneath the surface which you scrape,
Deal with the depths, pronounce on my desert
Groundedly! I want simple sober sense,
That asks, before it finishes with a dog,
Who taught the dog that trick you hang him for?
You both persist to call that act a crime,
Which sense would call ... yes, I maintain it, Sirs,...
A blunder! At the worst, I stood in doubt
On cross-road, took one path of many paths:
It leads to the red thing, we all see now,
But nobody saw at first: one primrose-patch
In bank, one singing-bird in bush, the less,
Had warned me from such wayfare: let me prove!
Put me back to the cross-road, start afresh!
Advise me when I take the first false step!
Give me my wife: how should I use my wife,
Love her or hate her? Prompt my action now!
There she is, there she stands alive and pale,
The thirteen-years' old child, with milk for blood,
Pompilia Comparini, as at first,
Which first is only four brief years ago!
I stand too in the little ground-floor room
O' the father's house at Via Vittoria: see!
Her so-called mother,—one arm round the waist
O' the child to keep her from the toys, let fall
At wonder I can live yet look so grim,—
Ushers her in, with deprecating wave
Of the other,—and she fronts me loose at last,
Held only by the mother's finger-tip.
Struck dumb,—for she was white enough before!—
She eyes me with those frightened balls of black,
As heifer—the old simile comes pat—
Eyes tremblingly the altar and the priest.
The amazed look, all one insuppressive prayer,—
Might she but breathe, set free as heretofore,
Have this cup leave her lips unblistered, bear
Any cross anywhither anyhow,
So but alone, so but apart from me!
You are touched? So am I, quite otherwise,
If 't is with pity. I resent my wrong,
Being a man: I only show man's soul
Through man's flesh: she sees mine, it strikes her thus!
Is that attractive? To a youth perhaps—
Calf-creature, one-part boy to three-parts girl,
To whom it is a flattering novelty
That he, men use to motion from their path,
Can thus impose, thus terrify in turn
A chit whose terror shall be changed apace
To bliss unbearable when grace and glow,
Prowess and pride descend the throne and touch
Esther in all that pretty tremble, cured
By the dove o' the sceptre! But myself am old,
O' the wane at least, in all things: what do you say
To her who frankly thus confirms my doubt?
I am past the prime, I scare the woman-world,
Done-with that way: you like this piece of news?
A little saucy rose-bud minx can strike
Death-damp into the breast of doughty king
Though 't were French Louis,—soul I understand,—
Saying, by gesture of repugnance, just
"Sire, you are regal, puissant and so forth,
"But—young you have been, are not, nor will be!"
In vain the mother nods, winks, bustles up,
"Count, girls incline to mature worth like you!
"As for Pompilia, what's flesh, fish, or fowl
"To one who apprehends no difference,
"And would accept you even were you old
"As you are … youngish by her father's side?
"Trim but your beard a little, thin your bush
"Of eyebrow; and for presence, portliness,
"And decent gravity, you beat a boy!"
Deceive yourself one minute, if you may,
In presence of the child that so loves age,
Whose neck writhes, cords itself against your kiss,
Whose hand you wring stark, rigid with despair!
Well, I resent this; I am young in soul,
Nor old in body,—thews and sinews here,—
Though the vile surface be not smooth as once,—
Far beyond that first wheelwork which went wrong
Through the untempered iron ere 't was proof:
I am the wrought man worth ten times the crude,
Would woman see what this declines to see,
Declines to say "I see,"—the officious word
That makes the thing, pricks on the soul to shoot
New fire into the half-used cinder, flesh!
Therefore 't is she begins with wronging me,
Who cannot but begin with hating her.
Our marriage follows: there she stands again!
Why do I laugh? Why, in the very gripe
O' the jaws of death's gigantic skull, do I
Grin back his grin, make sport of my own pangs?
Why from each clashing of his molars, ground
To make the devil bread from out my grist,
Leaps out a spark of mirth, a hellish toy?
Take notice we are lovers in a church,
Waiting the sacrament to make us one
And happy! Just as bid, she bears herself,
Comes and kneels, rises, speaks, is silent,—goes:
So have I brought my horse, by word and blow,
To stand stock-still and front the fire he dreads.
How can I other than remember this,
Resent the very obedience? Gain thereby?
Yes, I do gain my end and have my will,—
Thanks to whom? When the mother speaks the word,
She obeys it—even to enduring me!
There had been compensation in revolt—
Revolt's to quell: but martyrdom rehearsed,
But predetermined saintship for the sake
O' the mother?—"Go!" thought I, "we meet again!"
Pass the next weeks of dumb contented death,
She lives,—wakes up, installed in house and home,
Is mine, mine all day-long, all night-long mine.
Good folk begin at me with open mouth
"Now, at least, reconcile the child to life!
"Study and make her love … that is, endure
"The … hem! the … all of you though somewhat old,
"Till it amount to something, in her eye,
"As good as love, better a thousand times,—
"Since nature helps the woman in such strait,
"Makes passiveness her pleasure: failing which,
"What if you give up boy-and-girl-fools'-play
"And go on to wise friendship all at once?
"Those boys and girls kiss themselves cold, you know,
"Toy themselves tired and slink aside full soon
"To friendship, as they name satiety:
"Thither go you and wait their coming!" Thanks,
Considerate advisers,—but, fair play!
Had you and I, friends, started fair at first
We, keeping fair, might reach it, neck by neck,
This blessed goal, whenever fate so please:
But why am I to miss the daisied mile
The course begins with, why obtain the dust
Of the end precisely at the starting-point?
Why quaff life's cup blown free of all the beads,
The bright red froth wherein our beard should steep
Before our mouth essay the black o' the wine?
Foolish, the love-fit? Let me prove it such
Like you, before like you I puff things clear!
"The best's to come, no rapture but content!
"Not love's first glory but a sober glow,
"Not a spontaneous outburst in pure boon,
"So much as, gained by patience, care and toil,
"Proper appreciation and esteem!"
Go preach that to your nephews, not to me
Who, tired i' the midway of my life, would stop
And take my first refreshment, pluck a rose:
What's this coarse woolly hip, worn smooth of leaf,
You counsel I go plant in garden-plot,
Water with tears, manure with sweat and blood,
In confidence the seed shall germinate
And, for its very best, some far-off day,
Grow big, and blow me out a dog-rose bell?
Why must your nephews begin breathing spice
O' the hundred-petalled Provence prodigy?
Nay, more and worse,—would such my root bear rose—
Prove really flower and favourite, not the kind
That's queen, but those three leaves that make one cup
And hold the hedge-bird's breakfast,—then indeed
The prize though poor would pay the care and toil!
Respect we Nature that makes least as most,
Marvellous in the minim! But this bud,
Bit through and burned black by the tempter's tooth,
This bloom whose best grace was the slug outside
And the wasp inside its bosom,—call you "rose"?
Claim no immunity from a weed's fate
For the horrible present! What you call my wife
I call a nullity in female shape,
Vapid disgust, soon to be pungent plague,
When mixed with, made confusion and a curse
By two abominable nondescripts,
That father and that mother: think you see
The dreadful bronze our boast, we Aretines,
The Etruscan monster, the three-headed thing,
Bellerophon's foe! How name you the whole beast?
You choose to name the body from one head,
That of the simple kid which droops the eye,
Hangs the neck and dies tenderly enough:
I rather see the griesly lion belch
Flame out i' the midst, the serpent writhe her rings,
Grafted into the common stock for tail,
And name the brute, Chimæra which I slew!
How was there ever more to be—(concede
My wife's insipid harmless nullity)—
Dissociation from that pair of plagues—
That mother with her cunning and her cant—
The eyes with first their twinkle of conceit,
Then, dropped to earth in mock-demureness,—now,
The smile self-satisfied from ear to ear,
Now, the prim pursed-up mouth's protruded lips,
With deferential duck, slow swing of head,
Tempting the sudden fist of man too much,—
That owl-like screw of lid and rock of ruff!
As for the father,—Cardinal, you know,
The kind of idiot!—such are rife in Rome,
But they wear velvet commonly; good fools,
At the end of life, to furnish forth young folk
Who grin and bear with imbecility:
Since the stalled ass, the joker, sheds from jaw
Corn, in the joke, for those who laugh or starve.
But what say we to the same solemn beast
Wagging his ears and wishful of our pat,
When turned, with holes in hide and bones laid bare,
To forage for himself i' the waste o' the world,
Sir Dignity i' the dumps? Pat him? We drub
Self-knowledge, rather, into frowzy pate,
Teach Pietro to get trappings or go hang!
Fancy this quondam oracle in vogue
At Via Vittoria, this personified
Authority when time was,—Pantaloon
Flaunting his tom-fool tawdry just the same
As if Ash-Wednesday were mid-Carnival!
That's the extreme and unforgiveable
Of sins, as I account such. Have you stooped
For your own ends to bestialize yourself
By flattery of a fellow of this stamp?
The ends obtained or else shown out of reach,
He goes on, takes the flattery for pure truth,—
"You love, and honour me, of course: what next?"
What, but the trifle of the stabbing, friend?—
Which taught you how one worships when the shrine
Has lost the relic that we bent before.
Angry! And how could I be otherwise?
'T is plain: this pair of old pretentious fools
Meant to fool me: it happens, I fooled them.
Why could not these who sought to buy and sell
Me,—when they found themselves were bought and sold,
Make up their mind to the proved rule of right,
Be chattel and not chapman any more?
Miscalculation has its consequence;
But when the shepherd crooks a sheep-like thing
And meaning to get wool, dislodges fleece
And finds the veritable wolf beneath,
(How that staunch image serves at every turn!)
Does he, by way of being politic,
Pluck the first whisker grimly visible?
Or rather grow in a trice all gratitude,
Protest this sort-of-what-one-might-name sheep
Beats the old other curly-coated kind,
And shall share board and bed, if so it deign,
With its discoverer, like a royal ram?
Ay, thus, with chattering teeth and knocking knees,
Would wisdom treat the adventure! these, forsooth,
Tried whisker-plucking, and so found what trap
The whisker kept perdue, two rows of teeth—
Sharp, as too late the prying fingers felt.
What would you have? The fools transgress, the fools
Forthwith receive appropriate punishment:
They first insult me, I return the blow,
There follows noise enough: four hubbub months,
Now hue and cry, now whimpering and wail—
A perfect goose-yard cackle of complaint
Because I do not gild the geese their oats,—
I have enough of noise, ope wicket wide,
Sweep out the couple to go whine elsewhere,
Frightened a little, hurt in no respect,
And am just taking thought to breathe again,
Taste the sweet sudden silence all about,
When, there they raise it, the old noise I know,
At Rome i' the distance! "What, begun once more?
"Whine on, wail ever, 't is the loser's right!"
But eh, what sort of voice grows on the wind?
Triumph it sounds and no complaint at all!
And triumph it is. My boast was premature:
The creatures, I turned forth, clapped wing and crew
Fighting-cock-fashion,—they had filched a pearl
From dung-heap, and might boast with cause enough!
I was defrauded of all bargained for:
You know, the Pope knows, not a soul but knows
My dowry was derision, my gain—muck,
My wife, (the Church declared my flesh and blood)
The nameless bastard of a common whore:
My old name turned henceforth to … shall I say
"He that received the ordure in his face?"
And they who planned this wrong, performed this wrong,
And then revealed this wrong to the wide world,
Rounded myself in the ears with my own wrong,—
Why, these were (note hell's lucky malice, now!)
These were just they who, they alone, could act
And publish and proclaim their infamy,
Secure that men would in a breath believe
Compassionate and pardon them,—for why?
They plainly were too stupid to invent,
Too simple to distinguish wrong from right,—
Inconscious agents they, the silly-sooth,
Of heaven's retributive justice on the strong
Proud cunning violent oppressor—me!
Follow them to their fate and help your best,
You Rome, Arezzo, foes called friends of me,
They gave the good long laugh to, at my cost!
Defray your share o' the cost, since you partook
The entertainment! Do!—assured the while,
That not one stab, I dealt to right and left,
But went the deeper for a fancy—this—
That each might do me two-fold service, find
A friend's face at the bottom of each wound,
And scratch its smirk a little!

Panciatichi!
There's a report at Florence,—is it true?—
That when your relative the Cardinal
Built, only the other day, that barrack-bulk,
The palace in Via Larga, someone picked
From out the street a saucy quip enough
That fell there from its day's flight through the town,
About the flat front and the windows wide
And bulging heap of cornice,—hitched the joke
Into a sonnet, signed his name thereto,
And forthwith pinned on post the pleasantry:
For which he's at the galleys, rowing now
Up to his waist in water,—just because
Panciatic and lymphatic rhymed so pat!
I hope, Sir, those who passed this joke on me
Were not unduly punished? What say you,
Prince of the Church, my patron? Nay, indeed,
I shall not dare insult your wits so much
As think this problem difficult to solve.
This Pietro and Violante then, I say,
These two ambiguous insects, changing name
And nature with the season's warmth or chill,—
Now, grovelled, grubbing toiling moiling ants,
A very synonym of thrift and peace,—
Anon, with lusty June to prick their heart,
Soared i' the air, winged flies for more offence,
Circled me, buzzed me deaf and stung me blind,
And stunk me dead with fetor in the face
Until I stopped the nuisance: there's my crime!
Pity I did not suffer them subside
Into some further shape and final form
Of execrable life? My masters, no!
I, by one blow, wisely cut short at once
Them and their transformations of disgust,
In the snug little Villa out of hand.
"Grant me confession, give bare time for that!"—
Shouted the sinner till his mouth was stopped.
His life confessed!—that was enough for me,
Who came to see that he did penance. 'S death!
Here's a coil raised, a pother and for what?
Because strength, being provoked by weakness, fought
And conquered,—the world never heard the like!
Pah, how I spend my breath on them, as if
'T was their fate troubled me, too hard to range
Among the right and fit and proper things!

Ay, but Pompilia,—I await your word,—
She, unimpeached of crime, unimplicate
In folly, one of alien blood to these
I punish, why extend my claim, exact
Her portion of the penalty? Yes, friends,
I go too fast: the orator's at fault:
Yes, ere I lay her, with your leave, by them
As she was laid at San Lorenzo late,
I ought to step back, lead you by degrees,
Recounting at each step some fresh offence,
Up to the red bed,—never fear, I will!
Gaze at her, where I place her, to begin,
Confound me with her gentleness and worth!
The horrible pair have fled and left her now,
She has her husband for her sole concern:
His wife, the woman fashioned for his help,
Flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone, the bride
To groom as is the Church and Spouse to Christ:
There she stands in his presence: "Thy desire
"Shall be to the husband, o'er thee shall he rule!"
—"Pompilia, who declare that you love God,
"You know who said that: then, desire my love,
"Yield me contentment and be ruled aright!"
She sits up, she lies down, she comes and goes,
Kneels at the couch-side, overleans the sill
O' the window, cold and pale and mute as stone,
Strong as stone also. "Well, are they not fled?
"Am I not left, am I not one for all?
"Speak a word, drop a tear, detach a glance,
"Bless me or curse me of your own accord!
"Is it the ceiling only wants your soul,
"Is worth your eyes?" And then the eyes descend,
And do look at me. Is it at the meal?
"Speak!" she obeys, "Be silent!" she obeys,
Counting the minutes till I cry "Depart,"
As brood-bird when you saunter past her eggs.
Departs she? just the same through door and wall
I see the same stone strength of white despair.
And all this will be never otherwise!
Before, the parents' presence lent her life:
She could play off her sex's armoury,
Entreat, reproach, be female to my male,
Try all the shrieking doubles of the hare,
Go clamour to the Commissary, bid
The Archbishop hold my hands and stop my tongue,
And yield fair sport so: but the tactics change,
The hare stands stock-still to enrage the hound!
Since that day when she learned she was no child
Of those she thought her parents,—that their trick
Had tricked me whom she thought sole trickster late,—
Why, I suppose she said within herself
"Then, no more struggle for my parents' sake!
"And, for my own sake, why needs struggle be?"
But is there no third party to the pact?
What of her husband's relish or dislike
For this new game of giving up the game,
This worst offence of not offending more?
I'll not believe but instinct wrought in this,
Set her on to conceive and execute
The preferable plague: how sure they probe—
These jades, the sensitivest soft of man!
The long black hair was wound now in a wisp,
Crowned sorrow better than the wild web late:
No more soiled dress, 't is trimness triumphs now,
For how should malice go with negligence?
The frayed silk looked the fresher for her spite!
There was an end to springing out of bed,
Praying me, with face buried on my feet,
Be hindered of my pastime,—so an end
To my rejoinder, "What, on the ground at last?
'Vanquished in fight, a supplicant for life?
"What if I raise you? 'Ware the casting down
"When next you fight me!" Then, she lay there, mine:
Now, mine she is if I please wring her neck,—
A moment of disquiet, working eyes,
Protruding tongue, a long sigh, then no more,—
As if one killed the horse one could not ride!
Had I enjoined "Cut off the hair!"—why, snap
The scissors, and at once a yard or so
Had fluttered in black serpents to the floor:
But till I did enjoin it, how she combs,
Uncurls and draws out to the complete length,
Plaits, places the insulting rope on head
To be an eyesore past dishevelment!
Is all done? Then sit still again and stare!
I advise—no one think to bear that look
Of steady wrong, endured as steadily
—Through what sustainment of deluding hope?
Who is the friend i' the background that notes all?
Who may come presently and close accounts?
This self-possession to the uttermost,
How does it differ in aught, save degree,
From the terrible patience of God?

"All which just means,
"She did not love you!" Again the word is launched
And the fact fronts me! What, you try the wards
With the true key and the dead lock flies ope?
No, it sticks fast and leaves you fumbling still!
You have some fifty servants, Cardinal,—
Which of them loves you? Which subordinate
But makes parade of such officiousness
That,—if there's no love prompts it,—love, the sham,
Does twice the service done by love, the true.
God bless us liars, where's one touch of truth
In what we tell the world, or world tells us,
Of how we love each other? All the same,
We calculate on word and deed, nor err,—
Bid such a man do such a loving act,
Sure of effect and negligent of cause,
Just as we bid a horse, with cluck of tongue,
Stretch his legs arch-wise, crouch his saddled back
To foot-reach of the stirrup—all for love,
And some for memory of the smart of switch
On the inside of the foreleg—what care we?
Yet where's the bond obliges horse to man
Like that which binds fast wife to husband? God
Laid down the law: gave man the brawny arm
And ball of fist—woman the beardless cheek
And proper place to suffer in the side:
Since it is he can strike, let her obey!
Can she feel no love? Let her show the more,
Sham the worse, damn herself praiseworthily!
Who's that soprano, Rome went mad about
Last week while I lay rotting in my straw?
The very jailer gossiped in his praise—
How,—dressed up like Armida, though a man;
And painted to look pretty, though a fright,—
He still made love so that the ladies swooned,
Being an eunuch. "Ah, Rinaldo mine!
"But to breathe by thee while Jove slays us both!
All the poor bloodless creature never felt,
Si, do, re, mi, fa, squeak and squall—for what?
Two gold zecchines the evening. Here's my slave,
Whose body and soul depend upon my nod,
Can't falter out the first note in the scale
For her life! Why blame me if I take the life?
All women cannot give men love, forsooth!
No, nor all pullets lay the henwife eggs—
Whereat she bids them remedy the fault,
Brood on a chalk-ball: soon the nest is stocked—
Otherwise, to the plucking and the spit!
This wife of mine was of another mood—
Would not begin the lie that ends with truth,
Nor feign the love that brings real love about:
Wherefore I judged, sentenced and punished her
But why particularize, defend the deed?
Say that I hated her for no one cause
Beyond my pleasure so to do,—what then?
Just on as much incitement acts the world,
All of you! Look and like! You favour one
Browbeat another, leave alone a third,—
Why should you master natural caprice?
Pure nature Try: plant elm by ash in file;
Both unexceptionable trees enough,
They ought to overlean each other, pair
At top, and arch across the avenue
The whole path to the pleasaunce: do they so—
Or loathe, lie off abhorrent each from each?
Lay the fault elsewhere: since we must have faults,
Mine shall have been,—seeing there's ill in the end
Come of my course,—that I fare somehow worse
For the way I took: my fault … as God's my judge,
I see not where my fault lies, that's the truth!
I ought … oh, ought in my own interest
Have let the whole adventure go untried,
This chance by marriage: or else, trying it,
Ought to have turned it to account, some one
O' the hundred otherwises? Ay, my friend,
Easy to say, easy to do: step right
Now you've stepped left and stumbled on the thing,
—The red thing! Doubt I any more than you
That practice makes man perfect? Give again
The chance,—same marriage and no other wife,
Be sure I'll edify you! That's because
I'm practised, grown fit guide for Guido's self.
You proffered guidance,—I know, none so well,—
You laid down law and rolled decorum out,
From pulpit-corner on the gospel-side,—
Wanted to make your great experience mine,
Save me the personal search and pains so: thanks!
Take your word on life's use? When I take his
The muzzled ox that treadeth out the corn,
Gone blind in padding round and round one path,—
As to the taste of green grass in the field!
What do you know o' the world that's trodden flat
And salted sterile with your daily dung,
Leavened into a lump of loathsomeness?
Take your opinion of the modes of life,
The aims of life, life's triumph or defeat,
How to feel, how to scheme, and how to do
Or else leave undone? You preached long and loud
On high-days, "Take our doctrine upon trust!
"Into the mill-house with you! Grind our corn,
"Relish our chaff, and let the green grass grow!"
I tried chaff, found I famished on such fare,
So made this mad rush at the mill-house-door,
Buried my head up to the ears in dew,
Browsed on the best: for which you brain me, Sirs!
Be it so. I conceived of life that way,
And still declare—life, without absolute use
Of the actual sweet therein, is death, not life.
Give me,—pay down,—not promise, which is air,—
Something that's out of life and better still,
Make sure reward, make certain punishment,
Entice me, scare me,—I'll forgo this life;
Otherwise, no!—the less that words, mere wind,
Would cheat me of some minutes while they plague,
Baulk fulness of revenge here,—blame yourselves
For this eruption of the pent-up soul
You prisoned first and played with afterward
"Deny myself" meant simply pleasure you,
The sacred and superior, save the mark!
You,—whose stupidity and insolence
I must defer to, soothe at every turn,—
Whose swine-like snuffling greed and grunting lust
I had to wink at or help gratify,—
While the same passions,—dared they perk in me,
Me, the immeasurably marked, by God,
Master of the whole world of such as you,—
I, boast such passions? 'T was "Suppress them straight!
"Or stay, we'll pick and choose before destroy.
"Here's wrath in you, a serviceable sword,—
"Beat it into a ploughshare! What's this long
"Lance-like ambition? Forge a pruning-hook,
"May be of service when our vines grow tall!
"But—sword use swordwise, spear thrust out as spear?
"Anathema! Suppression is the word!"
My nature, when the outrage was too gross,
Widened itself an outlet over-wide
By way of answer, sought its own relief
With more of fire and brimstone than you wished.
All your own doing: preachers, blame yourselves!

'T is I preach while the hour-glass runs and runs!
God keep me patient! All I say just means—
My wife proved, whether by her fault or mine,—
That's immaterial,—a true stumbling-block
I' the way of me her husband. I but plied
The hatchet yourselves use to clear a path,
Was politic, played the game you warrant wins,
Plucked at law's robe a-rustle through the courts,
Bowed down to kiss divinity's buckled shoe
Cushioned i' the church: efforts all wide the aim!
Procedures to no purpose! Then flashed truth.
The letter kills, the spirit keeps alive
In law and gospel: there be nods and winks
Instruct a wise man to assist himself
In certain matters, nor seek aid at all.
"Ask money of me,"—quoth the clownish saw,—
"And take my purse! But,—speaking with respect,—
"Need you a solace for the troubled nose?
"Let everybody wipe his own himself!"
Sirs, tell me free and fair! Had things gone well
At the wayside inn: had I surprised asleep
The runaways, as was so probable,
And pinned them each to other partridge-wise,
Through back and breast to breast and back, then bade
Bystanders witness if the spit, my sword,
Were loaded with unlawful game for once—
Would you have interposed to damp the glow
Applauding me on every husband's cheek?
Would you have checked the cry "A judgment, see!
"A warning, note! Be henceforth chaste, ye wives,
"Nor stray beyond your proper precinct, priests!"
If you had, then your house against itself
Divides, nor stands your kingdom any more.
Oh why, why was it not ordained just so?
Why fell not things out so nor otherwise?
Ask that particular devil whose task it is
To trip the all-but-at perfection,—slur
The line o' the painter just where paint leaves off
And life begins,—put ice into the ode
O' the poet while he cries "Next stanza—fire!"
Inscribe all human effort with one word,
Artistry's haunting curse, the Incomplete!
Being incomplete, my act escaped success.
Easy to blame now! Every fool can swear
To hole in net that held and slipped the fish.
But, treat my act with fair unjaundiced eye,
What was there wanting to a masterpiece
Except the luck that lies beyond a man?
My way with the woman, now proved grossly wrong,
Just missed of being gravely grandly right
And making mouths laugh on the other side.
Do, for the poor obstructed artist's sake,
Go with him over that spoiled work once more!
Take only its first flower, the ended act
Now in the dusty pod, dry and defunct!
I march to the Villa, and my men with me,
That evening, and we reach the door and stand.
I say … no, it shoots through me lightning-like
While I pause, breathe, my hand upon the latch,
"Let me forebode! Thus far, too much success:
"I want the natural failure—find it where?
"Which thread will have to break and leave a loop
"I' the meshy combination, my brain's loom
"Wove this long while, and now next minute tests?
"Of three that are to catch, two should go free,
"One must: all three surprised,—impossible!
"Beside, I seek three and may chance on six,—
"This neighbour, t' other gossip,—the babe's birth
"Brings such to fireside, and folks give them wine,—
"'T is late: but when I break in presently
"One will be found outlingering the rest
"For promise of a posset,—one whose shout
"Would raise the dead down in the catacombs,
"Much more the city-watch that goes its round.
"When did I ever turn adroitly up
"To sun some brick embedded in the soil,
"And with one blow crush all three scorpions there?
"Or Pietro or Violante shambles off—
"It cannot be but I surprise my wife
"If only she is stopped and stamped on, good!
"That shall suffice: more is improbable.
"Now I may knock!" And this once for my sake
The impossible was effected: I called king,
Queen and knave in a sequence, and cards came,
All three, three only! So, I had my way,
Did my deed: so, unbrokenly lay bare
Each tænia that had sucked me dry of juice,
At last outside me, not an inch of ring
Left now to writhe about and root itself
I' the heart all powerless for revenge! Henceforth
I might thrive: these were drawn and dead and damned
Oh Cardinal, the deep long sigh you heave
When the load's off you, ringing as it runs
All the way down the serpent-stair to hell!
No doubt the fine delirium flustered me,
Turned my brain with the influx of success
As if the sole need now were to wave wand
And find doors fly wide,—wish and have my will,—
The rest o' the scheme would care for itself: escape
Easy enough were that, and poor beside!
It all but proved so,—ought to quite have proved,
Since, half the chances had sufficed, set free
Anyone, with his senses at command,
From thrice the danger of my flight. But, drunk,
Redundantly triumphant,—some reverse
Was sure to follow! There's no other way
Accounts for such prompt perfect failure then
And there on the instant. Any day o' the week,
A ducat slid discreetly into palm
O' the mute post-master, while you whisper him—
How you the Count and certain four your knaves,
Have just been mauling who was malapert,
Suspect the kindred may prove troublesome,
Therefore, want horses in a hurry,—that
And nothing more secures you any day
The pick o' the stable! Yet I try the trick,
Double the bribe, call myself Duke for Count,
And say the dead man only was a Jew,
And for my pains find I am dealing just
With the one scrupulous fellow in all Rome—
Just this immaculate official stares,
Sees I want hat on head and sword in sheath,
Am splashed with other sort of wet than wine,
Shrugs shoulder, puts my hand by, gold and all,
Stands on the strictness of the rule o' the road!
"Where's the Permission?" Where's the wretched rag
With the due seal and sign of Rome's Police,
To be had for asking, half-an-hour ago?
"Gone? Get another, or no horses hence!"
He dares not stop me, we five glare too grim,
But hinders,—hacks and hamstrings sure enough,
Gives me some twenty miles of miry road
More to march in the middle of that night
Whereof the rough beginning taxed the strength
O' the youngsters, much more mine, both soul and flesh,
Who had to think as well as act: dead-beat,
We gave in ere we reached the boundary
And safe spot out of this irrational Rome,—
Where, on dismounting from our steeds next day,
We had snapped our fingers at you, safe and sound,
Tuscans once more in blessed Tuscany,
Where laws make wise allowance, understand
Civilized life and do its champions right!
Witness the sentence of the Rota there,
Arezzo uttered, the Granduke confirmed,
One week before I acted on its hint,—
Giving friend Guillichini, for his love,
The galleys, and my wife your saint, Rome's saint,—
Rome manufactures saints enough to know,—
Seclusion at the Stinche for her life.
All this, that all but was, might all have been,
Yet was not! baulked by just a scrupulous knave
Whose palm was horn through handling horses' hoofs
And could not close upon my proffered gold!
What say you to the spite of fortune? Well,
The worst's in store: thus hindered, haled this way
To Rome again by hangdogs, whom find I
Here, still to fight with, but my pale frail wife?
—Riddled with wounds by one not like to waste
The blows he dealt,—knowing anatomy,—
(I think I told you) bound to pick and choose
The vital parts! 'T was learning all in vain!
She too must shimmer through the gloom o' the grave,
Come and confront me—not at judgment-seat
Where I could twist her soul, as erst her flesh,
And turn her truth into a lie,—but there,
O' the death-bed, with God's hand between us both,
Striking me dumb, and helping her to speak,
Tell her own story her own way, and turn
My plausibility to nothingness!
Four whole days did Pompilia keep alive,
With the best surgery of Rome agape
At the miracle,—this cut, the other slash,
And yet the life refusing to dislodge,
Four whole extravagant impossible days,
Till she had time to finish and persuade
Every man, every woman, every child
In Rome, of what she would: the selfsame she
Who, but a year ago, had wrung her hands,
Reddened her eyes and beat her breasts, rehearsed
The whole game at Arezzo, nor availed
Thereby to move one heart or raise one hand!
When destiny intends you cards like these,
What good of skill and preconcerted play?
Had she been found dead, as I left her dead,
I should have told a tale brooked no reply:
You scarcely will suppose me found at fault
With that advantage! "What brings me to Rome?
"Necessity to claim and take my wife:
"Better, to claim and take my new born babe,—
"Strong in paternity a fortnight old,
"When't is at strongest: warily I work,
"Knowing the machinations of my foe;
"I have companionship and use the night:
"I seek my wife and child,—I find—no child
"But wife, in the embraces of that priest
"Who caused her to elope from me. These two,
"Backed by the pander-pair who watch the while,
"Spring on me like so many tiger-cats,
"Glad of the chance to end the intruder. I—
"What should I do but stand on my defence,
"Strike right, strike left, strike thick and threefold, slay,
"Not all-because the coward priest escapes.
"Last, I escape, in fear of evil tongues,
"And having had my taste of Roman law."
What's disputable, refutable here?—
Save by just this one ghost-thing half on earth,
Half out of it,—as if she held God's hand
While she leant back and looked her last at me,
Forgiving me (here monks begin to weep)
Oh, from her very soul, commending mine
To heavenly mercies which are infinite,—
While fixing fast my head beneath your knife!
'T is fate not fortune. All is of a piece!
When was it chance informed me of my youths?
My rustic four o' the family, soft swains,
What sweet surprise had they in store for me,
Those of my very household,—what did Law
Twist with her rack-and-cord-contrivance late
From out their bones and marrow? What but this—
Had no one of these several stumbling-blocks
Stopped me, they yet were cherishing a scheme,
All of their honest country homespun wit,
To quietly next day at crow of cock
Cut my own throat too, for their own behoof,
Seeing I had forgot to clear accounts
O' the instant, nowise slackened speed for that,—
And somehow never might find memory,
Once safe back in Arezzo, where things change,
And a court-lord needs mind no country lout.
Well, being the arch-offender, I die last,—
May, ere my head falls, have my eyesight free,
Nor miss them dangling high on either hand,
Like scarecrows in a hemp-field, for their pains!

And then my Trial,—'t is my Trial that bites
Like a corrosive, so the cards are packed,
Dice loaded, and my life-stake tricked away!
Look at my lawyers, lacked they grace of law,
Latin or logic? Were not they fools to the height,
Fools to the depth, fools to the level between,
O' the foolishness set to decide the case?
They feign, they flatter; nowise does it skill,
Everything goes against me: deal each judge
His dole of flattery and feigning,—why,
He turns and tries and snuffs and savours it,
As some old fly the sugar-grain, your gift;
Then eyes your thumb and finger, brushes clean
The absurd old head of him, and whisks away,
Leaving your thumb and finger dirty. Faugh!

And finally, after this long-drawn range
Of affront and failure, failure and affront,—
This path, 'twixt crosses leading to a skull,
Paced by me barefoot, bloodied by my palms
From the entry to the end,—there's light at length,
A cranny of escape: appeal may be
To the old man, to the father, to the Pope,
For a little life—from one whose life is spent,
A little pity—from pity's source and seat,
A little indulgence to rank, privilege,
From one who is the thing personified,
Rank, privilege, indulgence, grown beyond
Earth's bearing, even, ask Jansenius else!
Still the same answer, still no other tune
From the cicala perched at the tree-top
Than crickets noisy round the root: 't is "Die!"
Bids Law—"Be damned!" adds Gospel,—nay,
No word so frank,—'t is rather, "Save yourself!"
The Pope subjoins—"Confess and be absolved!
"So shall my credit countervail your shame,
"And the world see I have not lost the knack
"Of trying all the spirits: yours, my son,
"Wants but a fiery washing to emerge
"In clarity! Come, cleanse you, ease the ache
"Of these old bones, refresh our bowels, boy!"
Do I mistake your mission from the Pope?
Then, bear his Holiness the mind of me!
I do get strength from being thrust to wall,
Successively wrenched from pillar and from post
By this tenacious hate of fortune, hate
Of all things in, under, and above earth.
Warfare, begun this mean unmanly mode,
Does best to end so,—gives earth spectacle
Of a brave fighter who succumbs to odds
That turn defeat to victory. Stab, I fold
My mantle round me! Rome approves my act:
Applauds the blow which costs me life but keeps
My honour spotless: Rome would praise no more
Had I fallen, say, some fifteen years ago,
Helping Vienna when our Aretines
Flocked to Duke Charles and fought Turk Mustafa;
Nor would you two be trembling o'er my corpse
With all this exquisite solicitude.
Why is it that I make such suit to live?
The popular sympathy that's round me now
Would break like bubble that o'er-domes a fly:
Solid enough while he lies quiet there,
But let him want the air and ply the wing,
Why, it breaks and bespatters him, what else?
Cardinal, if the Pope had pardoned me,
And I walked out of prison through the crowd,
It would not be your arm I should dare press!
Then, if I got safe to my place again,
How sad and sapless were the years to come!
I go my old ways and find things grown grey;
You priests leer at me, old friends look askance
The mob's in love, I'll wager, to a man,
With my poor young good beauteous murdered wife:
For hearts require instruction how to beat,
And eyes, on warrant of the story, wax
Wanton at portraiture in white and black
Of dead Pompilia gracing ballad-sheet,
Which eyes, lived she unmurdered and unsung,
Would never turn though she paced street as bare
As the mad penitent ladies do in France.
My brothers quietly would edge me out
Of use and management of things called mine;
Do I command? "You stretched command before!
Show anger? "Anger little helped you once!"
Advise? "How managed you affairs of old?"
My very mother, all the while they gird,
Turns eye up, gives confirmatory groan;
For unsuccess, explain it how you will,
Disqualifies you, makes you doubt yourself,
—Much more, is found decisive by your friends.
Beside, am I not fifty years of age?
What new leap would a life take, checked like mine
I' the spring at outset? Where's my second chance?
Ay, but the babe … I had forgot my son,
My heir! Now for a burst of gratitude!
There's some appropriate service to intone,
Some gaudeamus and thanksgiving psalm!
Old, I renew my youth in him, and poor
Possess a treasure,—is not that the phrase?
Only I must wait patient twenty years—
Nourishing all the while, as father ought,
The excrescence with my daily blood of life.
Does it respond to hope, such sacrifice,—
Grows the wen plump while I myself grow lean?
Why, here's my son and heir in evidence,
Who stronger, wiser, handsomer than I
By fifty years, relieves me of each load,—
Tames my hot horse, carries my heavy gun,
Courts my coy mistress,—has his apt advice
On house-economy, expenditure,
And what not? All which good gifts and great growth
Because of my decline, he brings to bear
On Guido, but half apprehensive how
He cumbers earth, crosses the brisk young Count,
Who civilly would thrust him from the scene.
Contrariwise, does the blood-offering fail?
There's an ineptitude, one blank the more
Added to earth in semblance of my child?
Then, this has been a costly piece of work,
My life exchanged for his!—why he, not I,
Enjoy the world, if no more grace accrue?
Dwarf me, what giant have you made of him?
I do not dread the disobedient son:
I know how to suppress rebellion there,
Being not quite the fool my father was.
But grant the medium measure of a man,
The usual compromise 'twixt fool and sage,
—You know—the tolerably-obstinate,
The not-so-much-perverse but you may train,
The true son-servant that, when parent bids
"Go work, son, in my vineyard!" makes reply
"I go, Sir!"—Why, what profit in your son
Beyond the drudges you might subsidize,
Have the same work from, at a paul the head?
Look at those four young precious olive-plants
Reared at Vittiano,—not on flesh and blood,
These twenty years, but black bread and sour wine!
I bade them put forth tender branch, hook, hold,
And hurt three enemies I had in Rome:
They did my hest as unreluctantly,
At promise of a dollar, as a son
Adjured by mumping memories of the past.
No, nothing repays youth expended so—
Youth, I say, who am young still: grant but leave
To live my life out, to the last I'd live
And die conceding age no right of youth!
It is the will runs the renewing nerve
Through flaccid flesh that faints before the time.
Therefore no sort of use for son have I—
Sick, not of life's feast but of steps to climb
To the house where life prepares her feast,—of means
To the end: for make the end attainable
Without the means,—my relish were like yours.
A man may have an appetite enough
For a whole dish of robins ready cooked,
And yet lack courage to face sleet, pad snow,
And snare sufficiently for supper.

Thus
The time's arrived when, ancient Roman-like,
I am bound to fall on my own sword: why not
Say—Tuscan-like, more ancient, better still?
Will you hear truth can do no harm nor good?
I think I never was at any time
A Christian, as you nickname all the world,
Me among others: truce to nonsense now!
Name me, a primitive religionist—
As should the aboriginary be
I boast myself, Etruscan, Aretine,
One sprung,—your frigid Virgil's fieriest word,—
From fauns and nymphs, trunks and the heart of oak,
With,—for a visible divinity,—
The portent of a Jove Ægiochus
Descried 'mid clouds, lightning and thunder, couched
On topmost crag of your Capitoline:
'T is in the Seventh Æneid,—what, the Eighth?
Right,—thanks, Abate,—though the Christian's dumb,
The Latinist's vivacious in you yet!
I know my grandsire had our tapestry
Marked with the motto, 'neath a certain shield,
Whereto his grandson presently will give gules
To vary azure. First we fight for faiths,
But get to shake hands at the last of all:
Mine's your faith too,—in Jove Ægiochus!
Nor do Greek gods, that serve as supplement,
Jar with the simpler scheme, if understood.
We want such intermediary race
To make communication possible;
The real thing were too lofty, we too low,
Midway hang these: we feel their use so plain
In linking height to depth, that we doff hat
And put no question nor pry narrowly
Into the nature hid behind the names.
We grudge no rite the fancy may demand;
But never, more than needs, invent, refine,
Improve upon requirement, idly wise
Beyond the letter, teaching gods their trade,
Which is to teach us: we'll obey when taught.
Why should we do our duty past the need?
When the sky darkens, Jove is wroth,—say prayer!
When the sun shines and Jove is glad,—sing psalm!
But wherefore pass prescription and devise
Blood-offering for sweat-service, lend the rod
A pungency through pickle of our own?
Learned Abate,—no one teaches you
What Venus means and who's Apollo here!
I spare you, Cardinal,—but, though you wince,
You know me, I know you, and both know that!
So, if Apollo bids us fast, we fast:
But where does Venus order we stop sense
When Master Pietro rhymes a pleasantry?
Give alms prescribed on Friday: but, hold hand
Because your foe lies prostrate,—where's the word
Explicit in the book debars revenge?
The rationale of your scheme is just
"Pay toll here, there pursue your pleasure free!"
So do you turn to use the medium-powers,
Mars and Minerva, Bacchus and the rest,
And so are saved propitiating—whom?
What all-good, all-wise and all-potent Jove
Vexed by the very sins in man, himself
Made life's necessity when man he made?
Irrational bunglers! So, the living truth
Revealed to strike Pan dead, ducks low at last,
Prays leave to hold its own and live good days
Provided it go masque grotesquely, called
Christian not Pagan. Oh, you purged the sky
Of all gods save the One, the great and good,
Clapped hands and triumphed! But the change came fast:
The inexorable need in man for life—
(Life, you may mulct and minish to a grain
Out of the lump, so that the grain but live)
Laughed at your substituting death for life,
And bade you do your worst: which worst was done
In just that age styled primitive and pure
When Saint this, Saint that, dutifully starved,
Froze, fought with beasts, was beaten and abused
And finally ridded of his flesh by fire:
He kept life-long unspotted from the world!
Next age, how goes the game, what mortal gives
His life and emulates Saint that, Saint this?
Men mutter, make excuse or mutiny,
In fine are minded all to leave the new,
Stick to the old,—enjoy old liberty,
No prejudice in enjoyment, if you please,
To the new profession: sin o' the sly, henceforth!
The law stands though the letter kills: what then?
The spirit saves as unmistakeably.
Omniscience sees, Omnipotence could stop,
Omnibenevolence pardons: it must be,
Frown law its fiercest, there's a wink somewhere!

Such was the logic in this head of mine:
I, like the rest, wrote "poison" on my bread,
But broke and ate:—said "Those that use the sword
"Shall perish by the same;" then stabbed my foe.
I stand on solid earth, not empty air:
Dislodge me, let your Pope's crook hale me hence!
Not he, nor you! And I so pity both,
I'll make the true charge you want wit to make:
"Count Guido, who reveal our mystery,
"And trace all issues to the love of life.
"We having life to love and guard, like you,
"Why did you put us upon self-defence?
"You well knew what prompt pass-word would appease
"The sentry's ire when folk infringed his bounds,
"And yet kept mouth shut: do you wonder then
"If, in mere decency, he shot you dead?
"He can't have people play such pranks as yours
"Beneath his nose at noonday: you disdained
"To give him an excuse before the world
"By crying 'I break rule to save our camp!'
"Under the old rule, such offence were death;
"And you had heard the Pontifex pronounce
"'Since you slay foe and violate the form,
"'Slaying turns murder, which were sacrifice
"'Had you, while, say, law-suiting foe to death,
"'But raised an altar to the Unknown God
"'Or else the Genius of the Vatican.'
"Why then this pother?—all because the Pope,
"Doing his duty, cried 'A foreigner,
"'You scandalize the natives: here at Rome
"'Romano vivitur more: wise men, here,
"'Put the Church forward and efface themselves.
"'The fit defence had been,—you stamped on wheat,
"'Intending all the time to trample tares,—
"'Were fain extirpate, then, the heretic,
"'You now find, in your haste was slain a fool:
"'Nor Pietro, nor Violante, nor your wife
"'Meant to breed up your babe a Molinist!
"'Whence you are duly contrite. Not one word
"'Of all this wisdom did you urge: which slip
"'Death must atone for.'"

So, let death atone!
So ends mistake, so end mistakers!—end
Perhaps to recommence,—how should I know?
Only, be sure, no punishment, no pain
Childish, preposterous, impossible,
But some such fate as Ovid could foresee,—
Byblis in fluvium, let the weak soul end
In water, sed Lycaon in lupum, but
The strong become a wolf for evermore!
Change that Pompilia to a puny stream
Fit to reflect the daisies on its bank!
Let me turn wolf, be whole, and sate, for once,—
Wallow in what is now a wolfishness
Coerced too much by the humanity
That's half of me as well! Grow out of man,
Glut the wolf-nature,—what remains but grow
Into the man again, be man indeed
And all man? Do I ring the changes right?
Deformed, transformed, reformed, informed, conformed!
The honest instinct, pent and crossed through life,
Let surge by death into a visible flow
Of rapture: as the strangled thread of flame
Painfully winds, annoying and annoyed,
Malignant and maligned, thro' stone and ore,
Till earth exclude the stranger: vented once,
It finds full play, is recognized a-top
Some mountain as no such abnormal birth
Fire for the mount, the streamlet for the vale!
Ay, of the water was that wife of mine—
Be it for good, be it for ill, no run
O' the red thread through that insignificance!
Again, how she is at me with those eyes!
Away with the empty stare! Be holy still,
And stupid ever! Occupy your patch
Of private snow that's somewhere in what world
May now be growing icy round your head,
And aguish at your foot-print,—freeze not me,
Dare follow not another step I take,
Not with so much as those detested eyes,
No, though they follow but to pray me pause
On the incline, earth's edge that's next to hell!
None of your abnegation of revenge!
Fly at me frank, tug while I tear again!
There's God, go tell Him, testify your worst!
Not she! There was no touch in her of hate:
And it would prove her hell, if I reached mine!
To know I suffered, would still sadden her,
Do what the angels might to make amends!
Therefore there's either no such place as hell,
Or thence shall I be thrust forth, for her sake,
And thereby undergo three hells, not one—
I who, with outlet for escape to heaven,
Would tarry if such flight allowed my foe
To raise his head, relieved of that firm foot
Had pinned him to the fiery pavement else!
So am I made, "who did not make myself:"
(How dared she rob my own lip of the word?)
Beware me in what other world may be!—
Pompilia, who have brought me to this pass!
All I know here, will I say there, and go
Beyond the saying with the deed. Some use
There cannot but be for a mood like mine,
Implacable, persistent in revenge.
She maundered "All is over and at end:
"I go my own road, go you where God will!
"Forgive you? I forget you!" There's the saint
That takes your taste, you other kind of men!
How you had loved her! Guido wanted skill
To value such a woman at her worth!
Properly the instructed criticize
"What's here, you simpleton have tossed to take
"Its chance i' the gutter? This a daub, indeed?
"Why, 't is a Rafael that you kicked to rags!"
Perhaps so: some prefer the pure design:
Give me my gorge of colour, glut of gold
In a glory round the Virgin made for me!
Titian 's the man, not Monk Angelico
Who traces you some timid chalky ghost
That turns the church into a charnel: ay,
Just such a pencil might depict my wife!
She,—since she, also, would not change herself,—
Why could not she come in some heart-shaped cloud,
Rainbowed about with riches, royalty
Rimming her round, as round the tintless lawn
Guardingly runs the selvage cloth of gold?
I would have left the faint fine gauze untouched,
Needle-worked over with its lily and rose,
Let her bleach unmolested in the midst
Chill that selected solitary spot
Of quietude she pleased to think was life.
Purity, pallor grace the lawn no doubt
When there's the costly bordure to unthread
And make again an ingot: but what's grace
When you want meat and drink and clothes and fire?
A tale comes to my mind that's apposite—
Possibly true, probably false, a truth
Such as all truths we live by, Cardinal!
'T is said, a certain ancestor of mine
Followed—whoever was the potentate,
To Paynimrie, and in some battle, broke
Through more than due allowance of the foe,
And, risking much his own life, saved the lord's.
Battered and bruised, the Emperor scrambles up,
Rubs his eyes and looks round and sees my sire,
Picks a furze-sprig from out his hauberk-joint,
(Token how near the ground went majesty)
And says "Take this, and if thou get safe home,
"Plant the same in thy garden-ground to grow:
"Run thence an hour in a straight line, and stop:
"Describe a circle round (for central point)
"The furze aforesaid, reaching every way
"The length of that hour's run: I give it thee,—
"The central point, to build a castle there,
"The space circumjacent, for fit demesne,
"The whole to be thy children's heritage,—
"Whom, for thy sake, bid thou wear furze on cap!"
Those are my arms: we turned the furze a tree
To show more, and the greyhound tied thereto,
Straining to start, means swift and greedy both;
He stands upon a triple mount of gold—
By Jove, then, he's escaping from true gold
And trying to arrive at empty air!
Aha! the fancy never crossed my mind!
My father used to tell me, and subjoin
"As for the castle, that took wings and flew:
"The broad lands,—why, to traverse them to day
"Scarce tasks my gouty feet, and in my prime
"I doubt not I could stand and spit so far:
"But for the furze, boy, fear no lack of that,
"So long as fortune leaves one field to grub!
"Wherefore, hurra for furze and loyalty!"
What may I mean, where may the lesson lurk?
"Do not bestow on man, by way of gift,
"Furze without land for framework,—vaunt no grace
"Of purity, no furze-sprig of a wife,
"To me, i' the thick of battle for my bread,
"Without some better dowry,—gold will do!"
No better gift than sordid muck? Yes, Sirs!
Many more gifts much better. Give them me!
O those Olimpias bold, those Biancas brave,
That brought a husband power worth Ormuz' wealth!
Cried "Thou being mine, why, what but thine am I?
"Be thou to me law, right, wrong, heaven and hell!
"Let us blend souls, blent, thou in me, to bid
"Two bodies work one pleasure! What are these
"Called king, priest, father, mother, stranger, friend?
"They fret thee or they frustrate? Give the word—
"Be certain they shall frustrate nothing more!
"And who is this young florid foolishness
"That holds thy ortune in his pigmy clutch,
"—Being a prince and potency, forsooth!—
"He hesitates to let the trifle go?
"Let me but seal up eye, sing ear to sleep
"Sounder than Samson,—pounce thou on the prize
"Shall slip from off my breast, and down couchside,
"And on to floor, and far as my lord's feet—
"Where he stands in the shadow with the knife,
"Waiting to see what Delilah dares do!
"Is the youth fair? What is a man to me
"Who am thy call-bird? Twist his neck—my dupe's,—
"Then take the breast shall turn a breast indeed!"
Such women are there; and they marry whom?
Why, when a man has gone and hanged himself
Because of what he calls a wicked wife,—
See, if the very turpitude bemoaned
Prove not mere excellence the fool ignores!
His monster is perfection,—Circe, sent
Straight from the sun, with wand the idiot blames
As not an honest distaff to spin wool!
O thou Lucrezia, is it long to wait
Yonder where all the gloom is in a glow
With thy suspected presence?—virgin yet,
Virtuous again, in face of what's to teach—
Sin unimagined, unimaginable,—
I come to claim my bride,—thy Borgia's self
Not half the burning bridegroom I shall be!
Cardinal, take away your crucifix!
Abate, leave my lips alone,—they bite!
Vainly you try to change what should not change,
And shall not. I have bared, you bathe my heart—
It grows the stonier for your saving dew!
You steep the substance, you would lubricate,
In waters that but touch to petrify!

You too are petrifactions of a kind:
Move not a muscle that shows mercy. Rave
Another twelve hours, every word were waste!
I thought you would not slay impenitence,
But teased, from men you slew, contrition first,—
I thought you had a conscience. Cardinal,
You know I am wronged!—wronged, say, and wronged, maintain.
Was this strict inquisition made for blood
When first you showed us scarlet on your back,
Called to the College? Your straightforward way
To your legitimate end,—I think it passed
Over a scantling of heads brained, hearts broke,
Lives trodden into dust! How otherwise?
Such was the way o' the world, and so you walked.
Does memory haunt your pillow? Not a whit.
God wills you never pace your garden-path,
One appetizing hour ere dinner-time,
But your intrusion there treads out of life
A universe of happy innocent things:
Feel you remorse about that damsel-fly
Which buzzed so near your mouth and flapped your face?
You blotted it from being at a blow:
It was a fly, you were a man, and more,
Lord of created things, so took your course.
Manliness, mind,—these are things fit to save,
Fit to brush fly from: why, because I take
My course, must needs the Pope kill me?—kill you!
You! for this instrument, he throws away,
Is strong to serve a master, and were yours
To have and hold and get much good from out!
The Pope who dooms me needs must die next year;
I'll tell you how the chances are supposed
For his successor: first the Chamberlain,
Old San Cesario,—Colloredo, next,—
Then, one, two, three, four, I refuse to name;
After these, comes Altieri; then come you—
Seventh on the list you come, unless … ha, ha,
How can a dead hand give a friend a lift?
Are you the person to despise the help
O' the head shall drop in pannier presently?
So a child seesaws on or kicks away
The fulcrum-stone that's all the sage requires
To fit his lever to and move the world.
Cardinal, I adjure you in God's name,
Save my life, fall at the Pope's feet, set forth
Things your own fashion, not in words like these
Made for a sense like yours who apprehend!
Translate into the Court-conventional
Count Guido must not die, is innocent!
"Fair, be assured! But what an he were foul,
"Blood-drenched and murder-crusted head to foot?
"Spare one whose death insults the Emperor,
"Nay, outrages the Louis you so love!
"He has friends who will avenge him; enemies
"Who will hate God now with impunity,
"Missing the old coercive: would you send
"A soul straight to perdition, dying frank
"An atheist?" Go and say this, for God's sake!
—Why, you don't think I hope you'll say one word?
Neither shall I persuade you from your stand
Nor you persuade me from my station: take
Your crucifix away, I tell you twice!

Come, I am tired of silence! Pause enough!
You have prayed: I have gone inside my soul
And shut its door behind me: 't is your torch
Makes the place dark: the darkness let alone
Grows tolerable twilight: one may grope
And get to guess at length and breadth and depth.
What is this fact I feel persuaded of—
This something like a foothold in the sea,
Although Saint Peter's bark scuds, billow-borne,
Leaves me to founder where it flung me first?
Spite of your splashing, I am high and dry!
God takes his own part in each thing He made;
Made for a reason, He conserves his work,
Gives each its proper instinct of defence.
My lamblike wife could neither bark nor bite,
She bleated, bleated, till for pity pure
The village roused up, ran with pole and prong
To the rescue, and behold the wolf's at bay!
Shall he try bleating?—or take turn or two,
Since the wolf owns some kinship with the fox,
And, failing to escape the foe by craft,
Give up attempt, die fighting quietly?
The last bad blow that strikes fire in at eye
And on to brain, and so out, life and all,
How can it but be cheated of a pang
If, fighting quietly, the jaws enjoy
One re-embrace in mid back-bone they break,
After their weary work thro' the foe's flesh?
That's the wolf-nature. Don't mistake my trope!
A Cardinal so qualmish? Eminence,
My fight is figurative, blows i' the air,
Brain-war with powers and principalities,
Spirit-bravado, no real fisticuffs!
I shall not presently, when the knock comes,
Cling to this bench nor claw the hangman's face,
No, trust me! I conceive worse lots than mine.
Whether it be, the old contagious fit
And plague o' the prison have surprised me too,
The appropriate drunkenness of the death-hour
Crept on my sense, kind work o' the wine and myrrh,—
I know not,—I begin to taste my strength,
Careless, gay even. What's the worth of life?
The Pope's dead now, my murderous old man,
For Tozzi told me so: and you, forsooth—
Why, you don't think, Abate, do your best,
You'll live a year more with that hacking cough
And blotch of crimson where the cheek's a pit?
Tozzi has got you also down in book!
Cardinal, only seventh of seventy near,
Is not one called Albano in the lot?
Go eat your heart, you'll never be a Pope!
Inform me, is it true you left your love,
A Pucci, for promotion in the church?
She's more than in the church,—in the churchyard!
Plautilla Pucci, your affianced bride,
Has dust now in the eyes that held the love,—
And Martinez, suppose they make you Pope,
Stops that with veto,—so, enjoy yourself!
I see you all reel to the rock, you waves—
Some forthright, some describe a sinuous track,
Some, crested brilliantly, with heads above,
Some in a strangled swirl sunk who knows how,
But all bound whither the main-current sets,
Rockward, an end in foam for all of you!
What if I be o'ertaken, pushed to the front
By all you crowding smoother souls behind,
And reach, a minute sooner than was meant,
The boundary whereon I break to mist?
Go to! the smoothest safest of you all,
Most perfect and compact wave in my train,
Spite of the blue tranquillity above,
Spite of the breadth before of lapsing peace,
Where broods the halcyon and the fish leaps free,
Will presently begin to feel the prick
At lazy heart, the push at torpid brain,
Will rock vertiginously in turn, and reel,
And, emulative, rush to death like me.
Later or sooner by a minute then,
So much for the untimeliness of death!
And, as regards the manner that offends,
The rude and rough, I count the same for gain.
Be the act harsh and quick! Undoubtedly
The soul's condensed and, twice itself, expands
To burst thro' life, by alternation due,
Into the other state whate'er it prove.
You never know what life means till you die:
Even throughout life, 't is death that makes life live,
Gives it whatever the significance.
For see, on your own ground and argument,
Suppose life had no death to fear, how find
A possibility of nobleness
In man, prevented daring any more?
What's love, what's faith without a worst to dread?
Lack-lustre jewelry! but faith and love
With death behind them bidding do or die—
Put such a foil at back, the sparkle's born!
From out myself how the strange colours come!
Is there a new rule in another world?
Be sure I shall resign myself: as here
I recognized no law I could not see,
There, what I see, I shall acknowledge too:
On earth I never took the Pope for God,
In heaven I shall scarce take God for the Pope.
Unmanned, remanned: I hold it probable—
With something changeless at the heart of me
To know me by, some nucleus that's myself:
Accretions did it wrong? Away with them—
You soon shall see the use of fire!

Till when,
All that was, is; and must forever be.
Nor is it in me to unhate my hates,—
I use up my last strength to strike once more
Old Pietro in the wine-house-gossip-face,
To trample underfoot the whine and wile
Of beast Violante,—and I grow one gorge
To loathingly reject Pompilia's pale
Poison my hasty hunger took for food.
A strong tree wants no wreaths about its trunk,
No cloying cups, no sickly sweet of scent,
But sustenance at root, a bucketful.
How else lived that Athenian who died so,
Drinking hot bull's blood, fit for men like me?
I lived and died a man, and take man's chance,
Honest and bold: right will be done to such.

Who are these you have let descend my stair?
Ha, their accursed psalm! Lights at the sill!
Is it "Open" they dare bid you? Treachery!
Sirs, have I spoken one word all this while
Out of the world of words I had to say?
Not one word! All was folly—I laughed and mocked!
Sirs, my first true word, all truth and no lie,
Is—save me notwithstanding! Life is all!
I was just stark mad,—let the madman live
Pressed by as many chains as you please pile!
Don't open! Hold me from them! I am yours,
I am the Granduke's—no, I am the Pope's!
Abate,—Cardinal,—Christ,—Maria,—God, …
Pompilia, will you let them murder me?

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Who Gets To Play Artist?

who gets
to play artist
for a few years
for a life time
as life artist?

for a life time
mostly full time
or part time
art time
is fool time?

or real time
sacred time?

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The Man Who Gets Back On His Horse

A man who gets on the horse just to fall off is a great man indeed.
Not ashamed of what he yet does not know.
Ignorance can be overcome if we stop using such words as dumb.
For to belittle someone does very little for their self esteem.
You can speak the truth and tact still may be redeemed.
The proper approach is everything.
A way to explain without in some way offending their name.
Teachers know the technique all to well.
We must not dwell on those who still get angry.
Some no matter what you do can not be reached.
The child becomes the man.
And sometimes the environment damns them from the very beginning.

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A lyric poem for London Aunt's newly Compact Disc

My friend wrote me that his spinster Aunt who lives in London wants some lyrics for her new CD and it should be mostly radical as she likes if it bans then she gets her fame further on.

I row my dinghy in River Thames
And my tiny oars happy with gentle waves.
The British once they boasted;
'The Empire on which the Sun never sets.'
Let it be and we are colonial friends.
The weary Sun drowns in an Ocean corner
Resembles Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill's face in War times
And a far away person who swims upstream
When I see through my Binoculars.
I recognized him certainly he's Mr.Tony Blair
And his butterfly stroke both arms lifted like Election days.
Sorry, I forgot to bring my transparent bikini
Otherwise I could have jumped into the water
And swim together for a better World.

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Who Gets Your Love

(dennis lambert / brian potter)
In your sleep youve been talkin
Callin every other name but mine
And thats not a very encouraging sign
In my arms, youve been restless
Thinkin bout somebody else while holdin me
Well, if you want me to set you free
You dont have to ask for my permission
I dont wanna live in a broken home
I can do without an explanation
You dont have to spend tonight alone
Oh, tell me
Who gets your love when Im gone?
Will she kiss you with her eyes
Choose your ties, keep your pillow warm?
Baby, baby, who gets your love when Im gone?
When I move into the house
Down the street where I started from?
Oh, who gets your love?
Oh, people talk, I hear rumours
My imagination, it runs away with me
Gonna lose you eventually
So Ill go, Ill make it easy
Give you back the need that I dont satisfy
Maybe she will better than i
You gotta tell me
Who gets your love when Im gone?
Will she let you stay in bed
Rub your head, take the pain away?
Baby, baby, who gets your love when I leave?
When Ive said my last goodbye
Youll know why I just couldnt stay
I just couldnt stay
Tell me who gets your love when Im gone?
Will she love you, love you, love you
And will she keep your pillow so warm
Tell me who, when I go, when I leave?
When Im walking down the street where I am
cause you treated me so badly
And you lost what you had baby

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To Damian Who Buried His Dog 'Miss

He buried poor old 'miss' in the backyard
And on her shovelled earth he swallowed hard
And struggled just to keep the tears at bay
And this for him perhaps his saddest day.

She was his friend and canine friends are true
And your dog up to the end will stick by you
Your dog will always be your faithful mate
And wag her tail and greet you at the gate.

And 'Miss' to damian was a faithful friend
She stuck by him up to the very end
Her balance poor her eyes with age grown dim
But to the very end she stuck by him.

A drive in car, fetch stick or chase a ball
Some of the things she enjoyed most of all
Till age came too soon and wore each bodily part
Still miss was always a young dog at heart.

I like 'blue heelers' they are good enough
And they don't mind it when the going gets tough
And Miss the heeler to her breed was true
And she was faithful to her master too.

To save her further suffering he had her put to rest
And he only did for his dog what was best
And he buried her in her old stomping ground
Where as a pup she barked and played around.

A dog is just a dog some people say
Whilst others see things in a different way
And some even treat their dog as family
'You kick my dog you may as well kick me'.

Today poor Damian buried an old friend
And she was faithful to him till the end
It's hard so very hard to say goodbye
But memories live on memories never die.

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La Fontaine

The Gascon Punished

A GASCON (being heard one day to swear,
That he'd possess'd a certain lovely fair,)
Was played a wily trick, and nicely served;
'Twas clear, from truth he shamefully had swerved:
But those who scandal propagate below,
Are prophets thought, and ev'ry action know;
While good, if spoken, scarcely is believed,
And must be viewed, or not for truth received.

THE dame, indeed, the Gascon only jeered,
And e'er denied herself when he appeared;
But when she met the wight, who sought to shine;
And called her angel, beauteous and divine,
She fled and hastened to a female friend,
Where she could laugh, and at her ease unbend.

NEAR Phillis, (our fair fugitive) there dwelled
One Eurilas, his nearest neighbour held;
His wife was Cloris; 'twas with her our dove
Took shelter from the Gascon's forward love,
Whose name was Dorilas; and Damon young,
(The Gascon's friend) on whom gay Cloris hung.

SWEET Phillis, by her manner, you might see,
From sly amours and dark intrigues was free;
The value to possess her no one knew,
Though all admired the lovely belle at view.
Just twenty years she counted at the time,
And now a widow was, though in her prime,
(Her spouse, an aged dotard, worth a plum:--
Of those whose loss to mourn no tears e'er come.)

OUR seraph fair, such loveliness possessed,
In num'rous ways a Gascon could have blessed;
Above, below, appeared angelic charms;
'Twas Paradise, 'twas Heav'n, within her arms!

THE Gascon was--a Gascon;--would you more?
Who knows a Gascon knows at least a score.
I need not say what solemn vows he made;
Alike with Normans Gascons are portrayed;
Their oaths, indeed, won't pass for Gospel truth;
But we believe that Dorilas (the youth)
Loved Phillis to his soul, our lady fair,
Yet he would fain be thought successful there.

ONE day, said Phillis, with unusual glee,
Pretending with the Gascon to be free:--
A favour do me:--nothing very great;
Assist to dupe one jealous of his mate;
You'll find it very easy to be done,
And doubtless 'twill produce a deal of fun.
'Tis our request (the plot you'll say is deep,)
That you this night with Cloris's husband sleep
Some disagreement with her gay gallant
Requires, that she a night at least should grant,
To settle diff'rences; now we desire,
That you'll to bed with Eurilas retire,
There's not a doubt he'll think his Cloris near;
He never touches her:--so nothing fear;
For whether jealousy, or other pains,
He constantly from intercourse abstains,
Snores through the night, and, if a cap he sees,
Believes his wife in bed, and feels at ease.
We'll properly equip you as a belle,
And I will certainly reward you well.

TO gain but Phillis's smiles, the Gascon said,
He'd with the very devil go to bed.

THE night arrived, our wight the chamber traced;
The lights extinguished; Eurilas, too, placed;
The Gascon 'gan to tremble in a trice,
And soon with terror grew as cold as ice;
Durst neither spit nor cough; still less encroach;
And seemed to shrink, least t'other should approach;
Crept near the edge; would scarcely room afford,
And could have passed the scabbard of a sword.

OFT in the night his bed-fellow turned round;
At length a finger on his nose he found,
Which Dorilas exceedingly distressed;
But more inquietude was in his breast,
For fear the husband amorous should grow,
From which incalculable ills might flow.

OUR Gascon ev'ry minute knew alarm;
'Twas now a leg stretched out, and then an arm;
He even thought he felt the husband's beard;
But presently arrived what more he feared.

A BELL, conveniently, was near the bed,
Which Eurilas to ring was often led;
At this the Gascon swooned, so great his fear,
And swore, for ever he'd renounce his dear.
But no one coming, Eurilas, once more,
Resumed his place, and 'gan again to snore.

AT length, before the sun his head had reared;
The door was opened, and a torch appeared.
Misfortune then he fancied full in sight;
More pleased he'd been to rise without a light,
And clearly thought 'twas over with him now;
The flame approached;--the drops ran o'er his brow;
With terror he for pardon humbly prayed:--
You have it, cried a fair: be not dismayed;
'Twas Phillis spoke, who Eurilas's place
Had filled, throughout the night, with wily grace,
And now to Damon and his Cloris flew,
With ridicule the Gascon to pursue;
Recounted all the terrors and affright,
Which Dorilas had felt throughout the night.
To mortify still more the silly swain,
And fill his soul with ev'ry poignant pain,
She gave a glimpse of beauties to his view,
And from his presence instantly withdrew.

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The Clergyman’s Second Tale

Edward and Jane a married couple were,
And fonder she of him or he of her
Was hard to say; their wedlock had begun
When in one year they both were twenty-one;
And friends, who would not sanction, left them free.
He gentle-born, nor his inferior she,
And neither rich; to the newly-wedded boy,
A great Insurance Office found employ.
Strong in their loves and hopes, with joy they took
This narrow lot and the world’s altered look;
Beyond their home they nothing sought or craved,
And even from the narrow income saved;
Their busy days for no ennui had place,
Neither grew weary of the other’s face.
Nine happy years had crowned their married state
With children, one a little girl of eight;
With nine industrious years his income grew,
With his employers rose his favour too;
Nine years complete had passed when something ailed,
Friends and the doctors said his health had failed,
He must recruit, or worse would come to pass;
And though to rest was hard for him, alas!
Three months of leave he found he could obtain,
And go, they said, get well and work again.
Just at this juncture of their married life,
Her mother, sickening, begged to have his wife.
Her house among the hills in Surrey stood,
And to be there, said Jane, would do the children good.
They let their house, and with the children she
Went to her mother, he beyond the sea;
Far to the south his orders were to go.
A watering-place, whose name we need not know,
For climate and for change of scene was best:
There he was bid, laborious task, to rest.
A dismal thing in foreign lands to roam
To one accustomed to an English home,
Dismal yet more, in health if feeble grown,
To live a boarder, helpless and alone
In foreign town, and worse yet worse is made,
If ’tis a town of pleasure and parade.
Dispiriting the public walks and seats,
The alien faces that an alien meets;
Drearily every day this old routine repeats.
Yet here this alien prospered, change of air
Or change of scene did more than tenderest care:
Three weeks were scarce completed, to his home,
He wrote to say, he thought he now could come,
His usual work was sure he could resume,
And something said about the place’s gloom,
And how he loathed idling his time away.
O, but they wrote, his wife and all, to say
He must not think of it, ’twas quite too quick;
Let was their house, her mother still was sick,
Three months were given, and three he ought to take;
For his and her’s and for his children’s sake.
He wrote again, ’twas weariness to wait,
This doing nothing was a thing to hate;
He’d cast his nine laborious years away,
And was as fresh as on his wedding-day;
At last he yielded, feared he must obey.
And now, his health repaired, his spirits grown
Less feeble, less he cared to live alone.
’Twas easier now to face the crowded shore,
And table d’hôte less tedious than before;
His ancient silence sometimes he would break,
And the mute Englishman was heard to speak.
His youthful colour soon, his youthful air
Came back; amongst the crowd of idlers there,
With whom good looks entitle to good name,
For his good looks he gained a sort of fame,
People would watch him as he went and came.
Explain the tragic mystery who can,
Something there is, we know not what, in man,
With all established happiness at strife,
And bent on revolution in his life.
Explain the plan of Providence who dare,
And tell us wherefore in this world there are
Beings who seem for this alone to live,
Temptation to another soul to give.
A beauteous woman at the table d’hôte,
To try this English heart, at least to note
This English countenance, conceived the whim.
She sat exactly opposite to him.
Ere long he noticed with a vague surprise
How every day on him she bent her eyes;
Soft and inquiring now they looked, and then
Wholly withdrawn, unnoticed came again;
His shrunk aside: and yet there came a day,
Alas! they did not wholly turn away.
So beautiful her beauty was, so strange,
And to his northern feeling such a change;
Her throat and neck Junonian in their grace;
The blood just mantled in her southern face:
Dark hair, dark eyes; and all the arts she had
With which some dreadful power adorns the bad,
Bad women in their youth, and young was she,
Twenty perhaps, at the utmost twenty-three,
And timid seemed, and innocent of ill,;
Her feelings went and came without her will.
You will not wish minutely to know all
His efforts in the prospect of the fall.
He oscillated to and fro, he took
High courage oft, temptation from him shook,
Compelled himself to virtuous thoughts and just,
And as it were in ashes and in dust
Abhorred his thought. But living thus alone,
Of solitary tedium weary grown;
From sweet society so long debarred,
And fearing in his judgment to be hard
On her that he was sometimes off his guard
What wonder? She relentless still pursued
Unmarked, and tracked him in his solitude.
And not in vain, alas!
The days went by and found him in the snare.
But soon a letter full of tenderest care
Came from his wife, the little daughter too
In a large hand the exercise was new
To her papa her love and kisses sent.
Into his very heart and soul it went.
Forth on the high and dusty road he sought
Some issue for the vortex of his thought,
Returned, packed up his things, and ere the day
Descended, was a hundred miles away.
There are, I know of course, who lightly treat
Such slips; we stumble, we regain our feet;
What can we do, they say, but hasten on
And disregard it as a thing that’s gone?
Many there are who in a case like this
Would calm re-seek their sweet domestic bliss;
Accept unshamed the wifely tender kiss,
And lift their little children on their knees,
And take their kisses too; with hearts at ease
Will read the household prayers, to church will go,
And sacrament, nor care if people know.
Such men so minded do exist, God knows,
And, God be thanked, this was not one of those.
Late in the night, at a provincial town
In France, a passing traveller was put down;
Haggard he looked, his hair was turning grey,
His hair, his clothes, were much in disarray:
In a bedchamber here one day he stayed,
Wrote letters, posted them, his reckoning paid
And went. ’Twas Edward rushing from his fall;
Here to his wife he wrote and told her all.
Forgiveness yes, perhaps she might forgive
For her, and for the children, he must live
At any rate; but their old home to share
As yet was something that he could not bear.
She with her mother still her home should make,
A lodging-near the office he should take
And once a quarter he would bring his pay,
And he would see her on the quarter-day,
But her alone; e’en this would dreadful be,
The children ’twas not possible to see.
Back to the office at this early day
To see him come, old-looking thus and grey,
His comrades wondered, wondered too to see,
How dire a passion for his work had he,
How in a garret too he lived alone;
So cold a husband, cold a father grown.
In a green lane beside her mother’s home,
Where in old days they had been used to roam,
His wife had met him on the appointed day,
Fell on his neck, said all that love could say,
And wept; he put the loving arms away.
At dusk they met, for so was his desire;
She felt his cheeks and forehead all on fire;
The kisses which she gave he could not brook;
Once in her face he gave a sidelong look,
Said, but for them he wished that he were dead,
And put the money in her hand and fled.
Sometimes in easy and familiar tone,
Of sins resembling more or less his own
He heard his comrades in the office speak,
And felt the colour tingling in his cheek;
Lightly they spoke as of a thing of nought;
He of their judgment ne’er so much as thought.
I know not, in his solitary pains,
Whether he seemed to feel as in his veins
The moral mischief circulating still,
Racked with the torture of the double will;
And like some frontier-land where armies wage
The mighty wars, engage and yet engage
All through the summer in the fierce campaign;
March, counter-march, gain, lose, and yet regain;
With battle reeks the desolated plain;
So felt his nature yielded to the strife
Of the contending good and ill of life.
But a whole year this penance he endured,
Nor even then would think that he was cured.
Once in a quarter, in the country lane,
He met his wife and paid his quarter’s gain;
To bring the children she besought in vain.
He has a life small happiness that gives,
Who friendless in a London lodging lives,
Dines in a dingy chop-house, and returns
To a lone room while all within him yearns
For sympathy, and his whole nature burns
With a fierce thirst for some one, is there none?
To expend his human tenderness upon.
So blank, and hard, and stony is the way
To walk, I wonder not men go astray.
Edward, whom still a sense that never slept
On the strict path undeviating kept,
One winter-evening found himself pursued
Amidst the dusky thronging multitude.
Quickly he walked, but strangely swift was she,
And pertinacious, and would make him see.
He saw at last, and recognising slow,
Discovered in this hapless thing of woe
The occasion of his shame twelve wretched months ago.
She gaily laughed, she cried, and sought his hand,
And spoke sweet phrases of her native land;
Exiled, she said, her lovely home had left,
Not to forsake a friend of all but her bereft;
Exiled, she cried, for liberty, for love,
She was; still limpid eyes she turned above.
So beauteous once, and now such misery in,
Pity had all but softened him to sin;
But while she talked, and wildly laughed, and cried,
And plucked the hand which sadly he denied,
A stranger came and swept her from his side.
He watched them in the gas-lit darkness go,
And a voice said within him, Even so,
So midst the gloomy mansions where they dwell
The lost souls walk the flaming streets of hell!
The lamps appeared to fling a baleful glare,
A brazen heat was heavy in the air;
And it was hell, and he some unblest wanderer there.
For a long hour he stayed the streets to roam,
Late gathering sense, he gained his garret home;
There found a telegraph that bade him come
Straight to the country, where his daughter, still
His darling child, lay dangerously ill.
The doctor would he bring? Away he went
And found the doctor; to the office sent
A letter, asking leave, and went again,
And with a wild confusion in his brain,
Joining the doctor caught the latest train.
The train swift whirled them from the city light
Into the shadows of the natural night.
’Twas silent starry midnight on the down,
Silent and chill, when they, straight come from town,
Leaving the station, walked a mile to gain
The lonely house amid the hills where Jane,
Her mother, and her children should be found.
Waked by their entrance, but of sleep unsound,
The child not yet her altered father knew;
Yet talked of her papa in her delirium too.
Danger there was, yet hope there was; and he,
To attend the crisis, and the changes see,
And take the steps, at hand should surely be.
Said Jane the following day, ‘Edward, you know,
Over and over I have told you so,
As in a better world I seek to live,
As I desire forgiveness, I forgive.
Forgiveness does not feel the word to say,
As I believe in One who takes away
Our sin and gives us righteousness instead,
You to this sin, I do believe, are dead.
’Twas I, you know, who let you leave your home
And bade you stay when you so wished to come;
My fault was that: I’ve told you so before,
And vainly told; but now ’tis something more.
Say, is it right, without a single friend,
Without advice, to leave me to attend
Children and mother both? Indeed, I’ve thought
Through want of you the child her fever caught.
Chances of mischief come with every hour.
It is not in a single woman’s power
Alone, and ever haunted more or less
With anxious thoughts of you and your distress,
’Tis not indeed, I’m sure of it, in me,
All things with perfect judgment to foresee.
This weight has grown too heavy to endure;
And you, I tell you now, and I am sure,
Neglect your duty both to God and man
Persisting thus in your unnatural plan.
This feeling you must conquer, for you can.
And after all, you know we are but dust,
What are we, in ourselves that we should trust?’
He scarcely answered her; but he obtained
A longer leave, and quietly remained.
Slowly the child recovered, long was ill,
Long delicate, and he must watch her still
To give up seeing her he could not near,
To leave her less attended, did not dare.
The child recovered slowly, slowly too
Recovered he, and more familiar drew
Home’s happy breath; and apprehension o’er,
Their former life he yielded to restore,
And to his mournful garret went no more.

Midnight was dim and hazy overhead.
When the tale ended and we turned to bed.
On the companion-way, descending slow,
The artillery captain, as we went below,
Said to the lawyer, life could not be meant
To be so altogether innocent.
What did the atonement show? he, for the rest,
Could not, he thought, have written and confessed.
Weakness it was, and adding crime to crime
To leave his family that length of time,
The lawyer said; the American was sure
Each nature knows instinctively its cure.

Midnight was in the cabin still and dead,
Our fellow-passengers were all in bed,
We followed them, and nothing further spoke.
Out of the sweetest of my sleep I woke
At two, and felt we stopped; amid a dream
Of England knew the letting-off of steam
And rose. ’Twas fog, and were we off Cape Race?
The captain would be certain of his place.
Wild in white vapour flew away the force,
And self-arrested was the eager course
That had not ceased before. But shortly now
Cape Race was made to starboard on the bow.
The paddles plied. I slept. The following night
In the mid seas we saw a quay and light,
And peered through mist into an unseen town,
And on scarce-seeming land set one companion down,
And went. With morning and a shining sun,
Under the bright New Brunswick coast we run,
And visible discern to every eye
Rocks, pines, and little ports, and passing by
The boats and coasting craft. When sunk the night,
Early now sunk, the northern streamers bright
Floated and flashed, the cliffs and clouds behind,
With phosphorus the billows all were lined.

That evening, while the arctic streamers bright
Rolled from the clouds in waves of airy light,
The lawyer said, ‘I laid by for to night
A story that I would not tell before;
For the last time, a confidential four,
We meet. Receive in your elected ears
A tale of human suffering and tears.’

poem by from Mari Magno or Tales on BoardReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Veronica Serbanoiu
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