Man lives only to learn. And if he learns it is because it is the nature of his lot, for good or bad.
She will not sleep, for fear of dreams,
But, rising, quits her restless bed,
And walks where some beclouded beams
Of moonlight through the hall are shed.
Obedient to the goad of grief,
Her steps, now fast, now lingering slow,
In varying motion seek relief
From the Eumenides of woe.
Wringing her hands, at intervals--
But long as mute as phantom dim--
She glides along the dusky walls,
Under the black oak rafters grim.
The close air of the grated tower
Stifles a heart that scarce can beat,
And, though so late and lone the hour,
Forth pass her wandering, faltering feet;
And on the pavement spread before
The long front of the mansion grey,
Her steps imprint the night-frost hoar,
Which pale on grass and granite lay.
Not long she stayed where misty moon
And shimmering stars could on her look,
But through the garden archway soon
Her strange and gloomy path she took.
Some firs, coeval with the tower,
Their straight black boughs stretched o'er her head;
Unseen, beneath this sable bower,
Rustled her dress and rapid tread.
There was an alcove in that shade,
Screening a rustic seat and stand;
Weary she sat her down, and laid
Her hot brow on her burning hand.
To solitude and to the night,
Some words she now, in murmurs, said;
And trickling through her fingers white,
Some tears of misery she shed.
"God help me in my grievous need,
God help me in my inward pain;
Which cannot ask for pity's meed,
Which has no licence to complain,
"Which must be borne; yet who can bear,
Hours long, days long, a constant weight--
The yoke of absolute despair,
A suffering wholly desolate?
"Who can for ever crush the heart,
Restrain its throbbing, curb its life?
Dissemble truth with ceaseless art,
With outward calm mask inward strife?"
She waited--as for some reply;
The still and cloudy night gave none;
Ere long, with deep-drawn, trembling sigh,
Her heavy plaint again begun.
"Unloved--I love; unwept--I weep;
Grief I restrain--hope I repress:
Vain is this anguish--fixed and deep;
Vainer, desires and dreams of bliss.
"My love awakes no love again,
My tears collect, and fall unfelt;
My sorrow touches none with pain,
My humble hopes to nothing melt.
"For me the universe is dumb,
Stone-deaf, and blank, and wholly blind;
Life I must bound, existence sum
In the strait limits of one mind;
"That mind my own. Oh! narrow cell;
Dark--imageless--a living tomb!
There must I sleep, there wake and dwell
Content, with palsy, pain, and gloom."
Again she paused; a moan of pain,
A stifled sob, alone was heard;
Long silence followed--then again
Her voice the stagnant midnight stirred.
"Must it be so? Is this my fate?
Can I nor struggle, nor contend?
And am I doomed for years to wait,
Watching death's lingering axe descend?
"And when it falls, and when I die,
What follows? Vacant nothingness?
The blank of lost identity?
Erasure both of pain and bliss?
"I've heard of heaven--I would believe;
For if this earth indeed be all,
Who longest lives may deepest grieve;
Most blest, whom sorrows soonest call.
"Oh! leaving disappointment here,
Will man find hope on yonder coast?
Hope, which, on earth, shines never clear,
And oft in clouds is wholly lost.
"Will he hope's source of light behold,
Fruition's spring, where doubts expire,
And drink, in waves of living gold,
Contentment, full, for long desire?
"Will he find bliss, which here he dreamed?
Rest, which was weariness on earth?
Knowledge, which, if o'er life it beamed,
Served but to prove it void of worth?
"Will he find love without lust's leaven,
Love fearless, tearless, perfect, pure,
To all with equal bounty given;
In all, unfeigned, unfailing, sure?
"Will he, from penal sufferings free,
Released from shroud and wormy clod,
All calm and glorious, rise and see
Creation's Sire--Existence' God?
"Then, glancing back on Time's brief woes,
Will he behold them, fading, fly;
Swept from Eternity's repose,
Like sullying cloud from pure blue sky?
"If so, endure, my weary frame;
And when thy anguish strikes too deep,
And when all troubled burns life's flame,
Think of the quiet, final sleep;
"Think of the glorious waking-hour,
Which will not dawn on grief and tears,
But on a ransomed spirit's power,
Certain, and free from mortal fears.
"Seek now thy couch, and lie till morn,
Then from thy chamber, calm, descend,
With mind nor tossed, nor anguish-torn,
But tranquil, fixed, to wait the end.
"And when thy opening eyes shall see
Mementos, on the chamber wall,
Of one who has forgotten thee,
Shed not the tear of acrid gall.
"The tear which, welling from the heart,
Burns where its drop corrosive falls,
And makes each nerve, in torture, start,
At feelings it too well recalls:
"When the sweet hope of being loved
Threw Eden sunshine on life's way:
When every sense and feeling proved
Expectancy of brightest day.
"When the hand trembled to receive
A thrilling clasp, which seemed so near,
And the heart ventured to believe
Another heart esteemed it dear.
"When words, half love, all tenderness,
Were hourly heard, as hourly spoken,
When the long, sunny days of bliss
Only by moonlight nights were broken.
"Till, drop by drop, the cup of joy
Filled full, with purple light was glowing,
And Faith, which watched it, sparkling high
Still never dreamt the overflowing.
"It fell not with a sudden crashing,
It poured not out like open sluice;
No, sparkling still, and redly flashing,
Drained, drop by drop, the generous juice.
"I saw it sink, and strove to taste it,
My eager lips approached the brim;
The movement only seemed to waste it;
It sank to dregs, all harsh and dim.
"These I have drunk, and they for ever
Have poisoned life and love for me;
A draught from Sodom's lake could never
More fiery, salt, and bitter, be.
"Oh! Love was all a thin illusion
Joy, but the desert's flying stream;
And glancing back on long delusion,
My memory grasps a hollow dream.
"Yet whence that wondrous change of feeling,
I never knew, and cannot learn;
Nor why my lover's eye, congealing,
Grew cold and clouded, proud and stern.
"Nor wherefore, friendship's forms forgetting,
He careless left, and cool withdrew;
Nor spoke of grief, nor fond regretting,
Nor ev'n one glance of comfort threw.
"And neither word nor token sending,
Of kindness, since the parting day,
His course, for distant regions bending,
Went, self-contained and calm, away.
"Oh, bitter, blighting, keen sensation,
Which will not weaken, cannot die,
Hasten thy work of desolation,
And let my tortured spirit fly!
"Vain as the passing gale, my crying;
Though lightning-struck, I must live on;
I know, at heart, there is no dying
Of love, and ruined hope, alone.
"Still strong and young, and warm with vigour,
Though scathed, I long shall greenly grow;
And many a storm of wildest rigour
Shall yet break o'er my shivered bough.
"Rebellious now to blank inertion,
My unused strength demands a task;
Travel, and toil, and full exertion,
Are the last, only boon I ask.
"Whence, then, this vain and barren dreaming
Of death, and dubious life to come?
I see a nearer beacon gleaming
Over dejection's sea of gloom.
"The very wildness of my sorrow
Tells me I yet have innate force;
My track of life has been too narrow,
Effort shall trace a broader course.
"The world is not in yonder tower,
Earth is not prisoned in that room,
'Mid whose dark panels, hour by hour,
I've sat, the slave and prey of gloom.
"One feeling--turned to utter anguish,
Is not my being's only aim;
When, lorn and loveless, life will languish,
But courage can revive the flame.
"He, when he left me, went a roving
To sunny climes, beyond the sea;
And I, the weight of woe removing,
Am free and fetterless as he.
"New scenes, new language, skies less clouded,
May once more wake the wish to live;
Strange, foreign towns, astir, and crowded,
New pictures to the mind may give.
"New forms and faces, passing ever,
May hide the one I still retain,
Defined, and fixed, and fading never,
Stamped deep on vision, heart, and brain.
"And we might meet--time may have changed him;
Chance may reveal the mystery,
The secret influence which estranged him;
Love may restore him yet to me.
"False thought--false hope--in scorn be banished!
I am not loved--nor loved have been;
Recall not, then, the dreams scarce vanished;
Traitors! mislead me not again!
"To words like yours I bid defiance,
'Tis such my mental wreck have made;
Of God alone, and self-reliance,
I ask for solace--hope for aid.
"Morn comes--and ere meridian glory
O'er these, my natal woods, shall smile,
Both lonely wood and mansion hoary
I'll leave behind, full many a mile."
- quotes about independence
- quotes about walls
- quotes about tomb
- quotes about slavery
- quotes about intellect
- quotes about equality
- quotes about receiving
- quotes about purple
- quotes about language
Mother And Son
the son that mother has carried on her arms
has become a man
grown up by her milk and lullabies
she looks up to him
when he marries and brings her
grandsons to make her remember
how babies become boys
how her arms have become cradles
the man has become a soldier
and he goes to war by mandate
he fights the wars of his state as his own
his mind circles on mama, wife, children and friends
and patriotism to his country
his valor his word of honor
his choppy cell phone calls
marred by the heavy rain
and howling sounds of dogs
and thunderous sounds of explosions
choppy are his words
like what he is feeling
in the deep heart of the forest
where the war is being raged
meanwhile, in the office of these
state leaders, these politicians
they make the strategies
on a bottle of wine and slice of steak
sometimes laughter and some jokes
in the comfort of his wife and children and friends
in the warmth of his home
and in his garden where the flowers bloom
where the sunshine is warms his
face smooth, untouched by the hands
of the heavy rain in the forest
- quotes about patriotism
- quotes about sound
- quotes about cellphone
- quotes about honor
- quotes about telephone
- quotes about gardens
- quotes about wine
- quotes about countries
Doubt and Dismay
Confidence God shall give to you, through His Word, for He is true,
Feelings and emotions change, but, God’s Word remains the same,
A security from God shall come, to everyone who trusts in His Son,
Through His Spirit in your Heart, who once there, shall never depart.
When we believe, we are sealed, as by God we’re spiritually healed,
And when sealed, we belong to Him, this friend, despite all your sin.
Although we are men of but dust, in God’s Holy Word, we can trust,
In regards to His Eternal Promises, which The Lord has given to us.
With all the insecurity that we face, we can put trust in God’s Grace,
As Satan only wants to deceive; painting doubts on all you believe.
God’s truth is no one is secure, without the work of Christ our Lord,
Who finished the work on Calvary, gaining new life for you and me.
All Christ’s work on Calvary’s cross, covers our sins and our dross,
And friend, all of us God will refine, removing the dross in His time.
For all of the work has been done, for our salvation, by God’s Son,
All we must do is trust in Christ, and God then grants us eternal life.
Sowing doubt is just Satan’s ploy, only to rob us of God given joy,
And believers can never doubt away, all that Christ did on that day,
So do not listen to Satan at all, for next to Christ, he is quite small,
But focus solely on The Lord, and your confidence will be restored.
The Cock And The Fox: Or, The Tale Of The Nun's Priest
There lived, as authors tell, in days of yore,
A widow, somewhat old, and very poor;
Deep in a dale her cottage lonely stood,
Well thatched, and under covert of a wood.
This dowager, on whom my tale I found,
Since last she laid her husband in the ground,
A simple sober life, in patience led,
And had but just enough to buy her bread;
But huswifing the little Heaven had lent,
She duly paid a groat for quarter rent;
And pinched her belly, with her daughters two,
To bring the year about with much ado.
The cattle in her homestead were three sows,
An ewe called Mally, and three brinded cows.
Her parlour window stuck with herbs around,
Of savoury smell; and rushes strewed the ground.
A maple-dresser in her hall she had,
On which full many a slender meal she made,
For no delicious morsel passed her throat;
According to her cloth she cut her coat;
No poignant sauce she knew, nor costly treat,
Her hunger gave a relish to her meat.
A sparing diet did her health assure;
Or sick, a pepper posset was her cure.
Before the day was done, her work she sped,
And never went by candle light to bed.
With exercise she sweat ill humours out;
Her dancing was not hindered by the gout.
Her poverty was glad, her heart content,
Nor knew she what the spleen or vapours meant.
Of wine she never tasted through the year,
But white and black was all her homely cheer;
Brown bread and milk,(but first she skimmed her bowls)
And rashers of singed bacon on the coals.
On holy days an egg, or two at most;
But her ambition never reached to roast.
A yard she had with pales enclosed about,
Some high, some low, and a dry ditch without.
Within this homestead lived, without a peer,
For crowing loud, the noble Chanticleer;
So hight her cock, whose singing did surpass
The merry notes of organs at the mass.
More certain was the crowing of the cock
To number hours, than is an abbey-clock;
And sooner than the matin-bell was rung,
He clapped his wings upon his roost, and sung:
For when degrees fifteen ascended right,
By sure instinct he knew ’twas one at night.
High was his comb, and coral-red withal,
In dents embattled like a castle wall;
His bill was raven-black, and shone like jet;
Blue were his legs, and orient were his feet;
White were his nails, like silver to behold,
His body glittering like the burnished gold
This gentle cock, for solace of his life,
Six misses had, besides his lawful wife;
Scandal, that spares no king, though ne’er so good,
Says, they were all of his own flesh and blood,
His sisters both by sire and mother’s side;
And sure their likeness showed them near allied.
But make the worst, the monarch did no more,
Than all the Ptolemys had done before:
When incest is for interest of a nation,
’Tis made no sin by holy dispensation.
Some lines have been maintained by this alone,
Which by their common ugliness are known.
But passing this as from our tale apart,
Dame Partlet was the sovereign of his heart:
Ardent in love, outrageous in his play,
He feathered her a hundred times a day;
And she, that was not only passing fair,
But was withal discreet, and debonair,
Resolved the passive doctrine to fulfil,
Though loath, and let him work his wicked will:
At board and bed was affable and kind,
According as their marriage-vow did bind,
And as the Church’s precept had enjoined.
Even since she was a se’nnight old, they say,
Was chaste and humble to her dying day,
Nor chick nor hen was known to disobey.
By this her husband’s heart she did obtain;
What cannot beauty, joined with virtue, gain!
She was his only joy, and he her pride,
She, when he walked, went pecking by his side;
If, spurning up the ground, he sprung a corn,
The tribute in his bill to her was borne.
But oh! what joy it was to hear him sing
In summer, when the day began to spring,
Stretching his neck, and warbling in his throat,
Solus cum sola, then was all his note.
For in the days of yore, the birds of parts
Were bred to speak, and sing, and learn the liberal arts.
It happed that perching on the parlour-beam
Amidst his wives, he had a deadly dream,
Just at the dawn; and sighed and groaned so fast,
As every breath he drew would be his last.
Dame Partlet, ever nearest to his side,
Heard all his piteous moan, and how he cried
For help from gods and men; and sore aghast
She pecked and pulled, and wakened him at last.
‘Dear heart,’ said she, ‘for love of Heaven declare
Your pain, and make me partner in your care.
You groan, sir, ever since the morning light,
As something had disturbed your noble sprite.’
‘And, madam, well I might,’ said Chanticleer,
Never was shrovetide-cock in such a fear.
Even still I run all over in a sweat,
My princely senses not recovered yet.
For such a dream I had of dire portent,
That much I fear my body will be shent;
It bodes I shall have wars and woeful strife,
Or in a loathsome dungeon end my life.
Know, dame, I dreamt within my troubled breast,
That in our yard I saw a murderous beast,
That on my body would have made arrest.
With waking eyes I ne’er beheld his fellow;
His colour was betwixt a red and yellow:
Tipped was his tail, and both his pricking ears
Were black; and much unlike his other hairs:
The rest, in shape a beagle’s whelp throughout,
With broader forehead, and a sharper snout.
Deep in his front were sunk his glowing eyes,
That yet, methinks, I see him with surprise.
Reach out your hand, I drop with clammy sweat,
And lay it to my heart, and feel it beat.’
‘Now fie for shame,’ quoth she, ‘by Heaven above,
Thou hast for ever lost thy lady’s love.
No woman can endure a recreant knight;
He must be bold by day, and free by night:
Our sex desires a husband or a friend,
Who can our honour and his own defend;
Wise, hardy, secret, liberal of his purse;
A fool is nauseous, but a coward worse:
No bragging coxcomb, yet no baffled knight.
How darest thou talk of love, and darest not fight?
How darest thou tell thy dame thou art affeared;
Hast thou no manly heart, and hast a beard?
‘If aught from fearful dreams may be divined,
They signify a cock of dunghill kind.
All dreams, as in old Galen I have read,
Are from repletion and complexion bred;
From rising fumes of indigested food,
And noxious humours that infect the blood:
And sure, my lord, if I can read aright,
These foolish fancies, you have had to-night,
Are certain symptoms (in the canting style)
Of boiling choler, and abounding bile;
This yellow gall that in your stomach floats,
Engenders all these visionary thoughts.
When choler overflows, then dreams are bred
Of flames, and all the family of red;
Red dragons, and red beasts, in sleep we view,
For humours are distinguished by their hue.
From hence we dream of wars and warlike things,
And wasps and hornets with their double wings.
‘Choler adust congeals our blood with fear,
Then black bulls toss us, and black devils tear.
In sanguine airy dreams aloft we bound;
With rheums oppressed, we sink in rivers drowned.
‘More I could say, but thus conclude my theme,
The dominating humour makes the dream.
Cato was in his time accounted wise,
And he condemns them all for empty lies.
Take my advice, and when we fly to ground,
With laxatives preserve your body sound,
And purge the peccant humours that abound.
I should be loath to lay you on a bier;
And though there lives no ’pothecary near,
I dare for once prescribe for your disease,
And save long bills, and a damned doctor’s fees.
‘Two sovereign herbs, which I by practice know,
And both at hand, (for in our yard they grow,)
On peril of my soul shall rid you wholly
Of yellow choler, and of melancholy:
You must both purge and vomit; but obey,
And for the love of Heaven make no delay.
Since hot and dry in your complexion join,
Beware the sun when in a vernal sign;
For when he mounts exalted in the Ram,
If then he finds your body in a flame,
Replete with choler, I dare lay a groat,
A tertian ague is at least your lot.
Perhaps a fever (which the gods forfend)
May bring your youth to some untimely end:
And therefore, sir, as you desire to live,
A day or two before your laxative,
Take just three worms, nor under nor above,
Because the gods unequal numbers love,
These digestives prepare you for your purge;
Of fumetery, centaury, and spurge,
And of ground-ivy add a leaf, or two,
All which within our yard or garden grow.
Eat these, and be, my lord, of better cheer;
Your father’s son was never born to fear.’
‘Madam,’ quoth he, ‘gramercy for your care,
But Cato, whom you quoted, you may spare;
’Tis true, a wise and worthy man he seems,
And (as you say) gave no belief to dreams;
But other men of more authority,
And, by the immortal powers, as wise as he,
Maintain, with sounder sense, that dreams forbode;
For Homer plainly says they come from God.
Nor Cato said it; but some modern fool
Imposed in Cato’s name on boys at school.
‘Believe me, madam, morning dreams foreshow
The events of things, and future weal or woe:
Some truths are not by reason to be tried,
But we have sure experience for our guide.
An ancient author, equal with the best,
Relates this tale of dreams among the rest.
‘Two friends or brothers, with devout intent,
On some far pilgrimage together went.
It happened so, that, when the sun was down,
They just arrived by twilight at a town;
That day had been the baiting of a bull,
’Twas at a feast, and every inn so full,
That at void room in chamber, or on ground,
And but one sorry bed was to be found;
And that so little it would hold but one,
Though till this hour they never lay alone.
‘So were they forced to part; one stayed behind,
His fellow sought what lodging he could find;
At last he found a stall where oxen stood,
And that he rather choose than lie abroad.
’Twas in a farther yard without a door;
But, for his ease, well littered was the floor.
‘His fellow, who the narrow bed had kept,
Was weary, and without a rocker slept:
Supine he snored; but in the dead of night,
He dreamt his friend appeared before his sight,
Who, with a ghastly look and doleful cry,
Said, ‘Help me, brother, or this night I die:
Arise, and help, before all help be vain,
Or in an ox’s stall I shall be slain.’
‘Roused from his rest, he wakened in a start,
Shivering with horror, and with aching heart;
At length to cure himself by reason tries;
’Tis but a dream, and what are dreams but lies?
So thinking changed his side, and closed his eyes.
His dream returns; his friend appears again:
‘The murderers come, now help, or I am slain:’
’Twas but a vision still, and visions are but vain.
‘He dreamt the third: but now his friend appeared
Pale, naked, pierced with wounds, with blood besmeared:
‘Thrice warned, awake,’ said he; ‘relief is late,
The deed is done; but thou revenge my fate:
Tardy of aid, unseal thy heavy eyes,
Awake, and with the dawning day arise:
Take to the western gate thy ready way,
For by that passage they my corpse convey
My corpse is in a tumbril laid, among
The filth, and ordure, and inclosed with dung.
That cart arrest, and raise a common cry;
For sacred hunger of my gold, I die:’
Then showed his grisly wounds; and last he drew
A piteous sigh; and took a long adieu.
‘The frighted friend arose by break of day,
And found the stall where late his fellow lay.
Then of his impious host inquiring more,
Was answered that his guest was gone before:
‘Muttering he went,’ said he, ‘by morning light,
And much complained of his ill rest by night.’
This raised suspicion in the pilgrim’s mind;
Because all hosts are of an evil kind,
And oft to share the spoil with robbers joined.
‘His dream confirmed his thought: with troubled look
Straight to the western gate his way he took;
There, as his dream foretold, a cart he found,
That carried composs forth to dung the ground.
This when the pilgrim saw, he stretched his throat,
And cried out ‘Murder’ with a yelling note.
‘My murdered fellow in this cart lies dead;
Vengeance and justice on the villain’s head!
You, magistrates, who sacred laws dispense,
On you I call to punish this offence.’
‘The word thus given, within a little space,
The mob came roaring out, and thronged the place.
All in a trice they cast the cart to ground,
And in the dung the murdered body found;
Though breathless, warm, and reeking from the wound.
Good Heaven, whose darling attribute we find,
Is boundless grace, and mercy to mankind,
Abhors the cruel; and the deeds of night
By wondrous ways reveals in open light:
Murder may pass unpunished for a time,
But tardy justice will o’ertake the crime.
And oft a speedier pain the guilty feels,
The hue and cry of Heaven pursues him at the heels,
Fresh from the fact; as in the present case,
The criminals are seized upon the place:
Carter and host confronted face to face.
Stiff in denial, as the law appoints,
On engines they distend their tortured joints:
So was confession forced, the offence was known.
And public justice on the offenders done.
‘Here may you see that visions are to dread;
And in the page that follows this, I read
Of two young merchants, whom the hope of gain
Induced in partnership to cross the main;
Waiting till willing winds their sails supplied,
Within a trading town they long abide,
Full fairly situate on a haven’s side.
‘One evening it befel, that looking out,
The wind they long had wished was come about;
Well pleased they went to rest; and if the gale
Till morn continued, both resolved to sail.
But as together in a bed they lay,
The younger had a dream at break of day.
A man, he thought, stood frowning at his side,
Who warned him for his safety to provide,
Nor put to sea, but safe on shore abide.
‘I come, thy genius, to command thy stay;
Trust not the winds, for fatal is the day,
And death unhoped attends the watery way.'
‘The vision said: and vanished from his sight;
The dreamer wakened in a mortal fright;
Then pulled his drowsy neighbour, and declared
What in his slumber he had seen and heard.
His friend smiled scornful, and, with proud contempt,
Rejects as idle what his fellow dreamt.
‘Stay, who will stay; for me no fears restrain,
Who follow Mercury, the god of gain;
Let each man do as to his fancy seems,
I wait not, I, till you have better dreams.
Dreams are but interludes, which fancy makes;
When monarch reason sleeps, this mimic wakes;
Compounds a medley of disjointed things,
A mob of cobblers, and a court of kings:
Light fumes are merry, grosser fumes are sad;
Both are the reasonable soul run mad;
And many monstrous forms in sleep we see,
That neither were, nor are, nor e’er can be.
Sometimes, forgotten things long cast behind
Rush forward in the brain, and come to mind.
The nurse’s legends are for truths received,
And the man dreams but what the boy believed.
Sometimes we but rehearse a former play,
The night restores our actions done by day,
As hounds in sleep will open for their prey.
In short the farce of dreams is of a piece,
Chimeras all; and more absurd, or less.
You, who believe in tales, abide’ alone;
Whate’er I get this voyage is my own.’
‘Thus while he spoke, he heard the shouting crew
That called aboard, and took his last adieu.
The vessel went before a merry gale,
And for quick passage put on every sail:
But when least feared, and even in open day,
The mischief overtook her in the way:
Whether she sprung a leak, I cannot find,
Or whether she was overset with wind,
Or that some rock below her bottom rent;
But down at once with all her crew she went.
Her fellow-ships from far her loss descried;
But only she was sunk, and all were safe beside.
‘By this example you are taught again,
That dreams and visions are not always vain:
But if, dear Partlet, you are still in doubt,
Another tale shall make the former out.
‘Kenelm, the son of Kenulph, Mercia’s king,
Whose holy life the legends loudly sing,
Warned in a dream, his murder did foretel
From point to point as after it befel;
All circumstances to his nurse he told,
(A wonder from a child of seven years old);
The dream with horror heard, the good old wife
From treason counselled him to guard his life;
But close to keep the secret in his mind,
For a boy’s vision small belief would find.
The pious child, by promise bound, obeyed,
Nor was the fatal murder long delayed:
By Quenda slain, he fell before his time,
Made a young martyr by his sister’s crime.
The tale is told by venerable Bede,
Which, at your better leisure, you may read.
‘Macrobius too relates the vision sent
To the great Scipio, with the famed, event;
Objections makes, but after makes replies,
And adds, that dreams are often prophesies.
‘Of Daniel you may read in holy writ,
Who, when the king his vision did forget,
Could word for word the wondrous dream repeat.
Nor less of patriarch Joseph understand,
Who by a dream, enslaved, the Egyptian land,
The years of plenty and of dearth foretold,
When, for their bread, their liberty they sold.
Nor must the exalted butler be forgot,
Nor he whose dream presaged his hanging lot.
‘And did not Crœsus the same death foresee,
Raised in his vision on a lofty tree?
The wife of Hector, in his utmost pride,
Dreamt of his death the night before he died;
Well was he warned from battle to refrain,
But men to death decreed are warned in vain;
He dared the dream, and by his fatal foe was slain.
‘Much more I know, which I forbear to speak,
For see the ruddy day begins to break:
Let this suffice, that plainly I foresee
My dream was bad, and bodes adversity,
But neither pills nor laxatives I like,
They only serve to make the well-man sick:
Of these his gain the sharp physician makes,
And often gives a purge, but seldom takes;
They not correct, but poison all the blood,
And ne’er did any but the doctors good.
Their tribe, trade, trinkets, I defy them all,
With every work of ’pothecary’s hall.
‘These melancholy matters I forbear;
But let me tell thee, Partlet mine, and swear,
That when I view the beauties of thy face,
I fear not death, nor dangers, nor disgrace;
So may my soul have bliss, as when I spy
The scarlet red about thy partridge eye,
While thou art constant to thy own true knight,
While thou art mine, and I am thy delight,
All sorrows at thy presence take their flight.
For true it is, as in principio,
Mulier est hominis confusio.
Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.
For when by night I feel your tender side,
Though for the narrow perch I cannot ride,
Yet I have such a solace in my mind,
That all my boding cares are cast behind,
And even already I forget my dream.’
He said, and downward flew from off the beam.
For daylight now began apace to spring,
The thrush to whistle, and the lark to sing.
Then crowing clapped his wings, the appointed call,
To chuck his wives together in the hall.
By this the widow had unbarred the door,
And Chanticleer went strutting out before,
With royal courage, and with heart so light,
As showed he scorned the visions of the night.
Now roaming in the yard, he spurned the ground,
And gave to Partlet the first grain found.
Then often feathered her with wanton play,
And trod her twenty times ere prime of day;
And took by turns and gave so much delight,
Her sisters pined with envy at the sight.
He chucked again, when other corns he found,
And scarcely deigned to set a foot to ground,
But swaggered like a lord about his hall,
And his seven wives came running at his call.
’Twas now the month in which the world began,
(If March beheld the first created man
And since the vernal equinox, the sun,
In Aries twelve degrees, or more had run;
When casting up his eyes against the light,
Both month, and day, and hour, he measured right,
And told more truly than the Ephemeris:
For art may err, but nature cannot miss.
Thus numbering times and seasons in his breast,
His second crowing the third hour confessed.
Then turning, said to Partlet,—‘See, my dear,
How lavish nature has adorned the year;
How the pale primrose and blue violet spring,
And birds essay their throats diffused to sing:
All these are ours; and I with pleasure see
Man strutting on two legs, and aping me:
An unfledged creature of a lumpish frame,
Endowed with fewer particles of flame:
Our dame sits cowering o’er a kitchen fire,
I draw fresh air, and nature’s works admire;
And even this day in more delight abound,
Than, since I was an egg, I ever found.’—
The time shall come when Chanticleer shall wish
His words unsaid, and hate his boasted bliss;
The crested bird shall by experience knew,
Jove made not him his masterpiece below;
And learn the latter end of joy is woe.
The vessel of his bliss to dregs is run,
And Heaven will have him taste his other tun.
Ye wise, draw near, and hearken to my tale,
Which proves that oft the proud by flattery fall;
The legend is as true I undertake
As Tristran is, and Lancelot of the Lake:
Which all our ladies in such reverence hold,
As if in Book of Martyrs it were told.
A Fox full fraught with seeming sanctity,
That feared an oath, but, like the devil, would lie;
Who looked like Lent, and had the holy leer,
And durst not sin before he said his prayer;
This pious cheat, that never sucked the blood,
Nor chewed the flesh of lambs, but when he could;
Had passed three summers in the neighbouring wood:
And musing long, whom next to cirumvent,
On Chanticleer his wicked fancy bent;
And in his high imagination cast,
By stratagem to gratify his taste.
The plot contrived, before the break of day,
Saint Reynard through the hedge had made his way;
The pale was next, but, proudly, with a bound
He leapt the fence of the forbidden ground:
Yet fearing to be seen, within a bed
Of coleworts he concealed his wily head;
Then skulked till afternoon, and watched his time,
(As murderers use) to perpetrate his crime.
O hypocrite, ingenious to destroy!
O traitor, worse than Simon was to Troy!
O vile subverter of the Gallic reign,
More false than Gano was to Charlemagne!
O Chanticleer, in an unhappy hour
Didst thou forsake the safety of thy bower;
Better for thee thou hadst believed thy dream,
And not that day descended from the beam!
But here the doctors eagerly dispute;
Some hold predestination absolute;
Some clerks maintain, that Heaven at first foresees,
And in the virtue of foresight decrees.
If this be so, then prescience binds the will,
And mortals are not free to good or ill;
For what he first foresaw, he must ordain,
Or its enternal prescience may be vain;
As bad for us as prescience had not been;
For first, or last, he’s author of the sin.
And who says that, let the blaspheming man
Say worse even of the devil, if he can.
For how can that Eternal Power be just
To punish man, who sins because he must?
Or, how can He reward a virtuous deed,
Which is not done by us, but first decreed?
I cannot bolt this matter to the bran,
As Bradwardin and holy Austin can:
If prescience can determine actions so,
That we must do, because he did foreknow,
Or that foreknowing, yet our choice is free,
Not forced to sin by strict necessity;
This strict necessity they simple call,
Another sort there is conditional.
The first so binds the will, that things foreknown
By spontaneity, not choice, are done.
Thus galley-slaves tug willing at their oar,
Content to work, in prospect of the shore;
But would not work at all, if not constrained before.
That other does not liberty constrain,
But man may either act, or my refrain.
Heaven made us agents free to good or ill,
And forced it not, though he foresaw the will.
Freedom was first bestowed on human race,
And prescience only held the second place.
If he could make such agents wholly free,
I not dispute; the point’s too high for me:
For Heaven’s unfathomed power what man can sound,
Or pout to his omnipotence a bound?
He made us to his image, all agree;
That image is the soul, and that must be,
Or not the Maker’s image, or be free.
But whether it were better man had been
By nature bound to good, not free to sin,
I waive, for fear of splitting on a rock.
The tale I tell is only of a cock;
Who had not run the hazard of his life,
Had he believed his dream, and not his wife:
For women, which a mischief to their kind,
Pervert, with bad advice, our better mind.
A woman’s counsel brought us first to woe,
And made her man his paradise forego,
Where at heart’s ease he lived; and might have been
As free from sorrow as he was from sin.
For what the devil had their sex to do,
That, born to folly, they presumed to know;
And could not see the serpent in the grass?
But I myself presume, and let it pass.
Silence in times of suffering is the best,
‘Tis dangerous to disturb a hornets’ nest.
In other authors you may find enough,
But all they way of dames is idle stuff.
Legends of lying wits together bound,
The wife of Bath would throw them to the ground;
These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine,
I honour dames, and think their sex divine.
Now to continue what my tale begun;
Lay madam Partlet basking in the sun,
Breast high in sand; her sisters, in a row,
Enjoyed the beams above, the warmth below.
The cock, that of his flesh was ever free,
Sung merrier than the mermaid in the sea;
And so befel, that as he cast his eye
Among the coleworts, on a butterfly,
He saw false Reynard where he lay full low;
I need not swear he had no list to crow;
But cried, cock, cock, and gave a sudden start,
As sore dismayed and frighted at his heart.
For birds and beasts, informed by nature know
Kinds opposite to theirs, and fly their foe.
So Chanticleer, who never was a fox,
Yet shunned him as a sailor shuns the rocks.
But the false loon, who could not work his will
By open force, employed his flattering skill:
‘I hope, my lord,’ said he, ‘I not offend;
Are you afraid of me that am your friend?
I were a beast indeed to do you wrong,
I, who have loved and honoured you so long:
Stay, gentle sir, nor take a false alarm,
For, on my soul, I never meant you harm!
I come no spy, nor as a traitor press,
To learn the secrets of your soft recess:
Far be from Reynard so profane a thought,
But by the sweetness of your voice was brought:
For, as I bid my beads, by chance I heard
The song that would have charmed the infernal gods,
And banished horror from the dark abodes:
Had Orpheus sung it in the nether sphere,
So much the hymn had pleased the tyrant’s ear,
The wife had been detained, to keep the husband there.
‘My lord, your sire familiarly I knew,
A peer deserving such a son as you:
He, with your lady-mother, (whom Heaven rest)
Has often graced my house, and been my guest:
To view his living features does me good,
For I am your poor neighbour in the wood;
And in my cottage should be proud to see
The worthy heir of my friend’s family.
‘But since I speak of signing let me say,
As with un upright heart I safely may,
That, save yourself, there breathes not on the ground
One like your father for a silver-sound.
So sweetly would he wake the winter-day,
That matrons to the church mistook their way,
And thought they heard the merry organ play.
And he to raise his voice with artful care,
(What will not beaux attempt to please the fair?)
On tiptoe stood do sing with greater strength,
And stretched his comely neck at all the length;
And while he strained his voice to pierce the skies,
As saints in raptures, use, would shut his eyes,
That the sound striving through the narrow throat,
His winking might avail to mend the note.
By this, in song, he never had his peer,
From sweet Cecilia down to Chanticleer;
Not Maro’s muse, who sung the mighty man,
Nor Pindar’s heavenly lyre, nor Horace when a swan.
Your ancestors proceed from race divine:
From Brennus and Belinus is your line;
Who gave to sovereign Rome such loud alarms,
That even the priests were not excused from arms,
‘Besides, a famous monk of modern times
Has left of cocks recorded in his rhymes,
That of a parish priest the son and heir,
(When sons of priests were from the proverb clear,)
Affronted once a cock of noble kind,
And either lamed his legs, or strucks him blind;
For which the clerk his father was disgraced,
And in his benefice another placed.
Now sing, my lord, if not for love of me,
Yet for the sake of sweet Saint Charity;
Make hills and dales, and earth and heaven, rejoice,
And emulate your father’s angel-voice.’
The cock was pleased to hear him speak so fair,
And proud beside, as solar people are;
Nor could the treason from the truth descry,
So was he ravished with this flattery:
So much the more, as from a little elf,
He had a high opinion of himself;
Though sickly, slender, and not large of limb,
Concluding all the world was made for him.
Ye princes, raised by poets to the gods,
And Alexandered up in lying odes,
Believe not every flattering knave’s report,
There’s many a Reynard lurking in the court;
And he shall be received with more regard,
And listened to, than modest truth is heard.
This Chanticleer, of whom the story sings,
Stood high upon his toes, and clapped his wings;
Then stretched his neck, and winked with both his eyes,
Ambitious, as he sought the Olympic prize.
But while he pained himself to raise his note,
False Reynard rushed, and caught him by the throat.
Then on his back he laid the precious load,
And sought his wonted shelter of the wood;
Swiftly he made his way, the mischief done,
Of all unheeded, and pursued by none.
Alas! what stay is there in human state,
Or who can shun inevitable fate?
The doom was written, the decree was past,
Ere the foundations of the world were cast!
In Aries though the sun exalted stood,
His patron-planet to procure his good;
Yet Saturn was his mortal foe, and he,
In Libra raised, opposed the same degree:
The rays both good and bad, of equal power,
Each thwarting other, made a mingled hour.
On Friday-morn he dreamt this direful dream,
Cross to the worthy native, in his scheme.
Ah blissful Venus! Goddess of delight!
How couldst thou suffer thy devoted knight,
On thy own day, to fall by foe oppressed,
The wight of all the world who served thee best?
Who true to love, was all for recreation,
And minded not the work of propagation.
Ganfride, who couldst so well in rhyme complain
The death of Richard with an arrow slain,
Why had not I thy muse, or thou my heart,
To sing this heavy dirge with equal art!
That I like thee on Friday might complain;
For on that day was Coeur de Lion slain.
Not louder cries, when Ilium was in flames,
Were sent to Heaven by woeful Trojan dames,
When Pyrrhus tossed on high his burnished blade,
And offered Priam to his father’s shade,
Than for the cock the widowed poultry made.
Fair Partlet first, when he was borne from sight,
With sovereign shrieks bewailed her captive knight:
Far louder than the Carthaginian wife,
When Asdrubal her husband lost his life,
When she beheld the smould’ring flames ascend,
And all the Punic glories at an end:
Willing into the fires she plunged her head,
With greater ease than others seek their bed.
Not more aghast the matrons of renown,
When tyrant Nero burned the imperial town,
Shrieked for the downfal in a doleful cry,
For which their guiltless lords were doomed to die.
Now to my story I return again:
The trembling widow, and her daughters twain,
This woeful cackling cry with horror heard,
Of those distracted damsels in the yard;
And starting up, beheld the heavy sight,
How Reynard to the forest took his flight,
And cross his back, as in triumphant scorn,
The hope and pillar of the house was borne.
‘The fox, the wicked fox,’ was all the cry;
Out from his house ran every neighbour nigh:
The vicar first, and after him the crew,
With forks and staves the felon to pursue.
Ran Coll our dog, and Talbot with the band,
And Malkin, with her distaff in her hand:
Ran cow and calf, and family of hogs,
In panic horror of pursuing dogs;
With many a deadly grunt and doleful squeak,
Poor swine, as if their pretty hearts would break.
The shouts of men, the women in dismay,
With shrieks augment the terror of the day.
The ducks, that heard the proclamation cried,
And feared a persecution might betide,
Full twenty mile from town their voyage take,
Obscure in rushes of the liquid lake.
The geese fly o’er the barn; the bees in arms,
Drive headlong from their waxen cells in swarms.
Jack Straw at London-stone, with all his rout,
Struck not the city with so loud a shout;
Not when with English hate they did pursue
A Frenchman, or an unbelieving Jew;
Not when the welkin rung with ‘one and all;’
And echoes bounded back from Fox’s hall;
Earth seemed to sink beneath, and heaven above to fall.
With might and main they chased the murderous fox,
With brazen trumpets, and inflated box,
To kindle Mars with military sounds,
Nor wanted horns to inspire sagacious hounds.
But see how Fortune can confound the wise,
And when they least expect it, turn the dice.
The captive-cock, who scarce could draw his breath,
And lay within the very jaws of death;
Yet in this agony his fancy wrought,
And fear supplied him with this happy thought:
‘Yours is the prize, victorious prince,’ said he,
‘The vicar my defeat, and all the village see.
Enjoy your friendly fortune while you may,
And bid the churls that envy you the prey
Call back the mongrel curs, and cease their cry:
See, fools, the shelter of the wood is nigh,
And Chanticleer in your despite shall die;
He shall be plucked and eaten to the bone.’
‘Tis well advised, in faith it shall be done;’
This Reynard said: but as the word he spoke,
The prisoner with a spring from prison broke;
Then stretched his feathered fans with all his might,
And to the neighbouring maple winged his flight.
Whom, when the traitor safe on tree beheld,
He cursed the gods, with shame and sorrow filled;
Shame for his folly; sorrow out of time,
For plotting an unprofitable crime:
Yet, mastering both, the artificer of lies
Renews the assault, and his last battery tries.
‘Though I,’ said he, ‘did ne’er in thought offend,
How justly may my lord suspect his friend!
The appearance is against me, I confess,
Who seemingly have put you in distress;
You, if your goodness does not plead my cause,
May think I broke all hospitable laws,
To bear you from your palace-yard by might,
And put your noble person in a fright;
This, since you take it ill, I must repent,
Though Heaven can witness with no bad intent
I practised it, to make you taste your cheer
With double pleasure, first prepared by fear.
So loyal subjects often seize their prince,
Forced (for his good) to seeming violence,
Yet mean his sacred person not the least offence.
Descend; so help me Jove, as you shall find,
That Reynard comes of no dissembling kind.’
‘Nay,’ quoth the cock; ‘but I beshrew us both,
If I believe a saint upon his oath:
An honest man may take a knave’s advice,
But idiots only may be cozened twice:
Once warned is well bewared; not flattering lies
Shall soothe me more to sing with winking eyes,
And open mouth, for fear of catching flies.
Who blindfold walks upon a river’s brim,
When he should see, has he deserved to swim!’
‘Better, sir Cock, let all contention cease,
Come down,’ said Reynard, ‘let us treat of peace.’
‘A peace with all my soul,’ said Chanticleer,
‘But, with your favour, I will treat it here:
And lest the truce with treason should be mixed,
’Tis my concern to have the tree betwixt.'
In this plain fable you the effect may see
Of negligence, and fond credulity:
And learn besides of flatterers to beware,
Then most pernicious when they speak too fair.
The cock and fox, the fool and knave imply;
The truth is moral, though the tale a lie.
Who spoke in parables, I dare not say;
But sure he knew it was a pleasing way,
Sound sense, by plain example, to convey.
And in a heathen author we may find,
That pleasure with instruction should be joined;
So take the corn, and leave the chaff behind.
Merlin And Vivien
A storm was coming, but the winds were still,
And in the wild woods of Broceliande,
Before an oak, so hollow, huge and old
It looked a tower of ivied masonwork,
At Merlin's feet the wily Vivien lay.
For he that always bare in bitter grudge
The slights of Arthur and his Table, Mark
The Cornish King, had heard a wandering voice,
A minstrel of Caerlon by strong storm
Blown into shelter at Tintagil, say
That out of naked knightlike purity
Sir Lancelot worshipt no unmarried girl
But the great Queen herself, fought in her name,
Sware by her--vows like theirs, that high in heaven
Love most, but neither marry, nor are given
In marriage, angels of our Lord's report.
He ceased, and then--for Vivien sweetly said
(She sat beside the banquet nearest Mark),
'And is the fair example followed, Sir,
In Arthur's household?'--answered innocently:
'Ay, by some few--ay, truly--youths that hold
It more beseems the perfect virgin knight
To worship woman as true wife beyond
All hopes of gaining, than as maiden girl.
They place their pride in Lancelot and the Queen.
So passionate for an utter purity
Beyond the limit of their bond, are these,
For Arthur bound them not to singleness.
Brave hearts and clean! and yet--God guide them--young.'
Then Mark was half in heart to hurl his cup
Straight at the speaker, but forbore: he rose
To leave the hall, and, Vivien following him,
Turned to her: 'Here are snakes within the grass;
And you methinks, O Vivien, save ye fear
The monkish manhood, and the mask of pure
Worn by this court, can stir them till they sting.'
And Vivien answered, smiling scornfully,
'Why fear? because that fostered at THY court
I savour of thy--virtues? fear them? no.
As Love, if Love is perfect, casts out fear,
So Hate, if Hate is perfect, casts out fear.
My father died in battle against the King,
My mother on his corpse in open field;
She bore me there, for born from death was I
Among the dead and sown upon the wind--
And then on thee! and shown the truth betimes,
That old true filth, and bottom of the well
Where Truth is hidden. Gracious lessons thine
And maxims of the mud! "This Arthur pure!
Great Nature through the flesh herself hath made
Gives him the lie! There is no being pure,
My cherub; saith not Holy Writ the same?"--
If I were Arthur, I would have thy blood.
Thy blessing, stainless King! I bring thee back,
When I have ferreted out their burrowings,
The hearts of all this Order in mine hand--
Ay--so that fate and craft and folly close,
Perchance, one curl of Arthur's golden beard.
To me this narrow grizzled fork of thine
Is cleaner-fashioned--Well, I loved thee first,
That warps the wit.'
Loud laughed the graceless Mark,
But Vivien, into Camelot stealing, lodged
Low in the city, and on a festal day
When Guinevere was crossing the great hall
Cast herself down, knelt to the Queen, and wailed.
'Why kneel ye there? What evil hath ye wrought?
Rise!' and the damsel bidden rise arose
And stood with folded hands and downward eyes
Of glancing corner, and all meekly said,
'None wrought, but suffered much, an orphan maid!
My father died in battle for thy King,
My mother on his corpse--in open field,
The sad sea-sounding wastes of Lyonnesse--
Poor wretch--no friend!--and now by Mark the King
For that small charm of feature mine, pursued--
If any such be mine--I fly to thee.
Save, save me thou--Woman of women--thine
The wreath of beauty, thine the crown of power,
Be thine the balm of pity, O Heaven's own white
Earth-angel, stainless bride of stainless King--
Help, for he follows! take me to thyself!
O yield me shelter for mine innocency
Among thy maidens!
Here her slow sweet eyes
Fear-tremulous, but humbly hopeful, rose
Fixt on her hearer's, while the Queen who stood
All glittering like May sunshine on May leaves
In green and gold, and plumed with green replied,
'Peace, child! of overpraise and overblame
We choose the last. Our noble Arthur, him
Ye scarce can overpraise, will hear and know.
Nay--we believe all evil of thy Mark--
Well, we shall test thee farther; but this hour
We ride a-hawking with Sir Lancelot.
He hath given us a fair falcon which he trained;
We go to prove it. Bide ye here the while.'
She past; and Vivien murmured after 'Go!
I bide the while.' Then through the portal-arch
Peering askance, and muttering broken-wise,
As one that labours with an evil dream,
Beheld the Queen and Lancelot get to horse.
'Is that the Lancelot? goodly--ay, but gaunt:
Courteous--amends for gauntness--takes her hand--
That glance of theirs, but for the street, had been
A clinging kiss--how hand lingers in hand!
Let go at last!--they ride away--to hawk
For waterfowl. Royaller game is mine.
For such a supersensual sensual bond
As that gray cricket chirpt of at our hearth--
Touch flax with flame--a glance will serve--the liars!
Ah little rat that borest in the dyke
Thy hole by night to let the boundless deep
Down upon far-off cities while they dance--
Or dream--of thee they dreamed not--nor of me
These--ay, but each of either: ride, and dream
The mortal dream that never yet was mine--
Ride, ride and dream until ye wake--to me!
Then, narrow court and lubber King, farewell!
For Lancelot will be gracious to the rat,
And our wise Queen, if knowing that I know,
Will hate, loathe, fear--but honour me the more.'
Yet while they rode together down the plain,
Their talk was all of training, terms of art,
Diet and seeling, jesses, leash and lure.
'She is too noble' he said 'to check at pies,
Nor will she rake: there is no baseness in her.'
Here when the Queen demanded as by chance
'Know ye the stranger woman?' 'Let her be,'
Said Lancelot and unhooded casting off
The goodly falcon free; she towered; her bells,
Tone under tone, shrilled; and they lifted up
Their eager faces, wondering at the strength,
Boldness and royal knighthood of the bird
Who pounced her quarry and slew it. Many a time
As once--of old--among the flowers--they rode.
But Vivien half-forgotten of the Queen
Among her damsels broidering sat, heard, watched
And whispered: through the peaceful court she crept
And whispered: then as Arthur in the highest
Leavened the world, so Vivien in the lowest,
Arriving at a time of golden rest,
And sowing one ill hint from ear to ear,
While all the heathen lay at Arthur's feet,
And no quest came, but all was joust and play,
Leavened his hall. They heard and let her be.
Thereafter as an enemy that has left
Death in the living waters, and withdrawn,
The wily Vivien stole from Arthur's court.
She hated all the knights, and heard in thought
Their lavish comment when her name was named.
For once, when Arthur walking all alone,
Vext at a rumour issued from herself
Of some corruption crept among his knights,
Had met her, Vivien, being greeted fair,
Would fain have wrought upon his cloudy mood
With reverent eyes mock-loyal, shaken voice,
And fluttered adoration, and at last
With dark sweet hints of some who prized him more
Than who should prize him most; at which the King
Had gazed upon her blankly and gone by:
But one had watched, and had not held his peace:
It made the laughter of an afternoon
That Vivien should attempt the blameless King.
And after that, she set herself to gain
Him, the most famous man of all those times,
Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts,
Had built the King his havens, ships, and halls,
Was also Bard, and knew the starry heavens;
The people called him Wizard; whom at first
She played about with slight and sprightly talk,
And vivid smiles, and faintly-venomed points
Of slander, glancing here and grazing there;
And yielding to his kindlier moods, the Seer
Would watch her at her petulance, and play,
Even when they seemed unloveable, and laugh
As those that watch a kitten; thus he grew
Tolerant of what he half disdained, and she,
Perceiving that she was but half disdained,
Began to break her sports with graver fits,
Turn red or pale, would often when they met
Sigh fully, or all-silent gaze upon him
With such a fixt devotion, that the old man,
Though doubtful, felt the flattery, and at times
Would flatter his own wish in age for love,
And half believe her true: for thus at times
He wavered; but that other clung to him,
Fixt in her will, and so the seasons went.
Then fell on Merlin a great melancholy;
He walked with dreams and darkness, and he found
A doom that ever poised itself to fall,
An ever-moaning battle in the mist,
World-war of dying flesh against the life,
Death in all life and lying in all love,
The meanest having power upon the highest,
And the high purpose broken by the worm.
So leaving Arthur's court he gained the beach;
There found a little boat, and stept into it;
And Vivien followed, but he marked her not.
She took the helm and he the sail; the boat
Drave with a sudden wind across the deeps,
And touching Breton sands, they disembarked.
And then she followed Merlin all the way,
Even to the wild woods of Broceliande.
For Merlin once had told her of a charm,
The which if any wrought on anyone
With woven paces and with waving arms,
The man so wrought on ever seemed to lie
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower,
From which was no escape for evermore;
And none could find that man for evermore,
Nor could he see but him who wrought the charm
Coming and going, and he lay as dead
And lost to life and use and name and fame.
And Vivien ever sought to work the charm
Upon the great Enchanter of the Time,
As fancying that her glory would be great
According to his greatness whom she quenched.
There lay she all her length and kissed his feet,
As if in deepest reverence and in love.
A twist of gold was round her hair; a robe
Of samite without price, that more exprest
Than hid her, clung about her lissome limbs,
In colour like the satin-shining palm
On sallows in the windy gleams of March:
And while she kissed them, crying, 'Trample me,
Dear feet, that I have followed through the world,
And I will pay you worship; tread me down
And I will kiss you for it;' he was mute:
So dark a forethought rolled about his brain,
As on a dull day in an Ocean cave
The blind wave feeling round his long sea-hall
In silence: wherefore, when she lifted up
A face of sad appeal, and spake and said,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and again,
'O Merlin, do ye love me?' and once more,
'Great Master, do ye love me?' he was mute.
And lissome Vivien, holding by his heel,
Writhed toward him, slided up his knee and sat,
Behind his ankle twined her hollow feet
Together, curved an arm about his neck,
Clung like a snake; and letting her left hand
Droop from his mighty shoulder, as a leaf,
Made with her right a comb of pearl to part
The lists of such a board as youth gone out
Had left in ashes: then he spoke and said,
Not looking at her, 'Who are wise in love
Love most, say least,' and Vivien answered quick,
'I saw the little elf-god eyeless once
In Arthur's arras hall at Camelot:
But neither eyes nor tongue--O stupid child!
Yet you are wise who say it; let me think
Silence is wisdom: I am silent then,
And ask no kiss;' then adding all at once,
'And lo, I clothe myself with wisdom,' drew
The vast and shaggy mantle of his beard
Across her neck and bosom to her knee,
And called herself a gilded summer fly
Caught in a great old tyrant spider's web,
Who meant to eat her up in that wild wood
Without one word. So Vivien called herself,
But rather seemed a lovely baleful star
Veiled in gray vapour; till he sadly smiled:
'To what request for what strange boon,' he said,
'Are these your pretty tricks and fooleries,
O Vivien, the preamble? yet my thanks,
For these have broken up my melancholy.'
And Vivien answered smiling saucily,
'What, O my Master, have ye found your voice?
I bid the stranger welcome. Thanks at last!
But yesterday you never opened lip,
Except indeed to drink: no cup had we:
In mine own lady palms I culled the spring
That gathered trickling dropwise from the cleft,
And made a pretty cup of both my hands
And offered you it kneeling: then you drank
And knew no more, nor gave me one poor word;
O no more thanks than might a goat have given
With no more sign of reverence than a beard.
And when we halted at that other well,
And I was faint to swooning, and you lay
Foot-gilt with all the blossom-dust of those
Deep meadows we had traversed, did you know
That Vivien bathed your feet before her own?
And yet no thanks: and all through this wild wood
And all this morning when I fondled you:
Boon, ay, there was a boon, one not so strange--
How had I wronged you? surely ye are wise,
But such a silence is more wise than kind.'
And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said:
'O did ye never lie upon the shore,
And watch the curled white of the coming wave
Glassed in the slippery sand before it breaks?
Even such a wave, but not so pleasurable,
Dark in the glass of some presageful mood,
Had I for three days seen, ready to fall.
And then I rose and fled from Arthur's court
To break the mood. You followed me unasked;
And when I looked, and saw you following me still,
My mind involved yourself the nearest thing
In that mind-mist: for shall I tell you truth?
You seemed that wave about to break upon me
And sweep me from my hold upon the world,
My use and name and fame. Your pardon, child.
Your pretty sports have brightened all again.
And ask your boon, for boon I owe you thrice,
Once for wrong done you by confusion, next
For thanks it seems till now neglected, last
For these your dainty gambols: wherefore ask;
And take this boon so strange and not so strange.'
And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O not so strange as my long asking it,
Not yet so strange as you yourself are strange,
Nor half so strange as that dark mood of yours.
I ever feared ye were not wholly mine;
And see, yourself have owned ye did me wrong.
The people call you prophet: let it be:
But not of those that can expound themselves.
Take Vivien for expounder; she will call
That three-days-long presageful gloom of yours
No presage, but the same mistrustful mood
That makes you seem less noble than yourself,
Whenever I have asked this very boon,
Now asked again: for see you not, dear love,
That such a mood as that, which lately gloomed
Your fancy when ye saw me following you,
Must make me fear still more you are not mine,
Must make me yearn still more to prove you mine,
And make me wish still more to learn this charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
As proof of trust. O Merlin, teach it me.
The charm so taught will charm us both to rest.
For, grant me some slight power upon your fate,
I, feeling that you felt me worthy trust,
Should rest and let you rest, knowing you mine.
And therefore be as great as ye are named,
Not muffled round with selfish reticence.
How hard you look and how denyingly!
O, if you think this wickedness in me,
That I should prove it on you unawares,
That makes me passing wrathful; then our bond
Had best be loosed for ever: but think or not,
By Heaven that hears I tell you the clean truth,
As clean as blood of babes, as white as milk:
O Merlin, may this earth, if ever I,
If these unwitty wandering wits of mine,
Even in the jumbled rubbish of a dream,
Have tript on such conjectural treachery--
May this hard earth cleave to the Nadir hell
Down, down, and close again, and nip me flat,
If I be such a traitress. Yield my boon,
Till which I scarce can yield you all I am;
And grant my re-reiterated wish,
The great proof of your love: because I think,
However wise, ye hardly know me yet.'
And Merlin loosed his hand from hers and said,
'I never was less wise, however wise,
Too curious Vivien, though you talk of trust,
Than when I told you first of such a charm.
Yea, if ye talk of trust I tell you this,
Too much I trusted when I told you that,
And stirred this vice in you which ruined man
Through woman the first hour; for howsoe'er
In children a great curiousness be well,
Who have to learn themselves and all the world,
In you, that are no child, for still I find
Your face is practised when I spell the lines,
I call it,--well, I will not call it vice:
But since you name yourself the summer fly,
I well could wish a cobweb for the gnat,
That settles, beaten back, and beaten back
Settles, till one could yield for weariness:
But since I will not yield to give you power
Upon my life and use and name and fame,
Why will ye never ask some other boon?
Yea, by God's rood, I trusted you too much.'
And Vivien, like the tenderest-hearted maid
That ever bided tryst at village stile,
Made answer, either eyelid wet with tears:
'Nay, Master, be not wrathful with your maid;
Caress her: let her feel herself forgiven
Who feels no heart to ask another boon.
I think ye hardly know the tender rhyme
Of "trust me not at all or all in all."
I heard the great Sir Lancelot sing it once,
And it shall answer for me. Listen to it.
"In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne'er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.
"It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.
"The little rift within the lover's lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.
"It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all."
O Master, do ye love my tender rhyme?'
And Merlin looked and half believed her true,
So tender was her voice, so fair her face,
So sweetly gleamed her eyes behind her tears
Like sunlight on the plain behind a shower:
And yet he answered half indignantly:
'Far other was the song that once I heard
By this huge oak, sung nearly where we sit:
For here we met, some ten or twelve of us,
To chase a creature that was current then
In these wild woods, the hart with golden horns.
It was the time when first the question rose
About the founding of a Table Round,
That was to be, for love of God and men
And noble deeds, the flower of all the world.
And each incited each to noble deeds.
And while we waited, one, the youngest of us,
We could not keep him silent, out he flashed,
And into such a song, such fire for fame,
Such trumpet-glowings in it, coming down
To such a stern and iron-clashing close,
That when he stopt we longed to hurl together,
And should have done it; but the beauteous beast
Scared by the noise upstarted at our feet,
And like a silver shadow slipt away
Through the dim land; and all day long we rode
Through the dim land against a rushing wind,
That glorious roundel echoing in our ears,
And chased the flashes of his golden horns
Till they vanished by the fairy well
That laughs at iron--as our warriors did--
Where children cast their pins and nails, and cry,
"Laugh, little well!" but touch it with a sword,
It buzzes fiercely round the point; and there
We lost him: such a noble song was that.
But, Vivien, when you sang me that sweet rhyme,
I felt as though you knew this cursd charm,
Were proving it on me, and that I lay
And felt them slowly ebbing, name and fame.'
And Vivien answered smiling mournfully:
'O mine have ebbed away for evermore,
And all through following you to this wild wood,
Because I saw you sad, to comfort you.
Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mount
As high as woman in her selfless mood.
And touching fame, howe'er ye scorn my song,
Take one verse more--the lady speaks it--this:
'"My name, once mine, now thine, is closelier mine,
For fame, could fame be mine, that fame were thine,
And shame, could shame be thine, that shame were mine.
So trust me not at all or all in all."
'Says she not well? and there is more--this rhyme
Is like the fair pearl-necklace of the Queen,
That burst in dancing, and the pearls were spilt;
Some lost, some stolen, some as relics kept.
But nevermore the same two sister pearls
Ran down the silken thread to kiss each other
On her white neck--so is it with this rhyme:
It lives dispersedly in many hands,
And every minstrel sings it differently;
Yet is there one true line, the pearl of pearls:
"Man dreams of Fame while woman wakes to love."
Yea! Love, though Love were of the grossest, carves
A portion from the solid present, eats
And uses, careless of the rest; but Fame,
The Fame that follows death is nothing to us;
And what is Fame in life but half-disfame,
And counterchanged with darkness? ye yourself
Know well that Envy calls you Devil's son,
And since ye seem the Master of all Art,
They fain would make you Master of all vice.'
And Merlin locked his hand in hers and said,
'I once was looking for a magic weed,
And found a fair young squire who sat alone,
Had carved himself a knightly shield of wood,
And then was painting on it fancied arms,
Azure, an Eagle rising or, the Sun
In dexter chief; the scroll "I follow fame."
And speaking not, but leaning over him
I took his brush and blotted out the bird,
And made a Gardener putting in a graff,
With this for motto, "Rather use than fame."
You should have seen him blush; but afterwards
He made a stalwart knight. O Vivien,
For you, methinks you think you love me well;
For me, I love you somewhat; rest: and Love
Should have some rest and pleasure in himself,
Not ever be too curious for a boon,
Too prurient for a proof against the grain
Of him ye say ye love: but Fame with men,
Being but ampler means to serve mankind,
Should have small rest or pleasure in herself,
But work as vassal to the larger love,
That dwarfs the petty love of one to one.
Use gave me Fame at first, and Fame again
Increasing gave me use. Lo, there my boon!
What other? for men sought to prove me vile,
Because I fain had given them greater wits:
And then did Envy call me Devil's son:
The sick weak beast seeking to help herself
By striking at her better, missed, and brought
Her own claw back, and wounded her own heart.
Sweet were the days when I was all unknown,
But when my name was lifted up, the storm
Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it.
Right well know I that Fame is half-disfame,
Yet needs must work my work. That other fame,
To one at least, who hath not children, vague,
The cackle of the unborn about the grave,
I cared not for it: a single misty star,
Which is the second in a line of stars
That seem a sword beneath a belt of three,
I never gazed upon it but I dreamt
Of some vast charm concluded in that star
To make fame nothing. Wherefore, if I fear,
Giving you power upon me through this charm,
That you might play me falsely, having power,
However well ye think ye love me now
(As sons of kings loving in pupilage
Have turned to tyrants when they came to power)
I rather dread the loss of use than fame;
If you--and not so much from wickedness,
As some wild turn of anger, or a mood
Of overstrained affection, it may be,
To keep me all to your own self,--or else
A sudden spurt of woman's jealousy,--
Should try this charm on whom ye say ye love.'
And Vivien answered smiling as in wrath:
'Have I not sworn? I am not trusted. Good!
Well, hide it, hide it; I shall find it out;
And being found take heed of Vivien.
A woman and not trusted, doubtless I
Might feel some sudden turn of anger born
Of your misfaith; and your fine epithet
Is accurate too, for this full love of mine
Without the full heart back may merit well
Your term of overstrained. So used as I,
My daily wonder is, I love at all.
And as to woman's jealousy, O why not?
O to what end, except a jealous one,
And one to make me jealous if I love,
Was this fair charm invented by yourself?
I well believe that all about this world
Ye cage a buxom captive here and there,
Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower
From which is no escape for evermore.'
Then the great Master merrily answered her:
'Full many a love in loving youth was mine;
I needed then no charm to keep them mine
But youth and love; and that full heart of yours
Whereof ye prattle, may now assure you mine;
So live uncharmed. For those who wrought it first,
The wrist is parted from the hand that waved,
The feet unmortised from their ankle-bones
Who paced it, ages back: but will ye hear
The legend as in guerdon for your rhyme?
'There lived a king in the most Eastern East,
Less old than I, yet older, for my blood
Hath earnest in it of far springs to be.
A tawny pirate anchored in his port,
Whose bark had plundered twenty nameless isles;
And passing one, at the high peep of dawn,
He saw two cities in a thousand boats
All fighting for a woman on the sea.
And pushing his black craft among them all,
He lightly scattered theirs and brought her off,
With loss of half his people arrow-slain;
A maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful,
They said a light came from her when she moved:
And since the pirate would not yield her up,
The King impaled him for his piracy;
Then made her Queen: but those isle-nurtured eyes
Waged such unwilling though successful war
On all the youth, they sickened; councils thinned,
And armies waned, for magnet-like she drew
The rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts;
And beasts themselves would worship; camels knelt
Unbidden, and the brutes of mountain back
That carry kings in castles, bowed black knees
Of homage, ringing with their serpent hands,
To make her smile, her golden ankle-bells.
What wonder, being jealous, that he sent
His horns of proclamation out through all
The hundred under-kingdoms that he swayed
To find a wizard who might teach the King
Some charm, which being wrought upon the Queen
Might keep her all his own: to such a one
He promised more than ever king has given,
A league of mountain full of golden mines,
A province with a hundred miles of coast,
A palace and a princess, all for him:
But on all those who tried and failed, the King
Pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning by it
To keep the list low and pretenders back,
Or like a king, not to be trifled with--
Their heads should moulder on the city gates.
And many tried and failed, because the charm
Of nature in her overbore their own:
And many a wizard brow bleached on the walls:
And many weeks a troop of carrion crows
Hung like a cloud above the gateway towers.'
And Vivien breaking in upon him, said:
'I sit and gather honey; yet, methinks,
Thy tongue has tript a little: ask thyself.
The lady never made UNWILLING war
With those fine eyes: she had her pleasure in it,
And made her good man jealous with good cause.
And lived there neither dame nor damsel then
Wroth at a lover's loss? were all as tame,
I mean, as noble, as the Queen was fair?
Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,
Or pinch a murderous dust into her drink,
Or make her paler with a poisoned rose?
Well, those were not our days: but did they find
A wizard? Tell me, was he like to thee?
She ceased, and made her lithe arm round his neck
Tighten, and then drew back, and let her eyes
Speak for her, glowing on him, like a bride's
On her new lord, her own, the first of men.
He answered laughing, 'Nay, not like to me.
At last they found--his foragers for charms--
A little glassy-headed hairless man,
Who lived alone in a great wild on grass;
Read but one book, and ever reading grew
So grated down and filed away with thought,
So lean his eyes were monstrous; while the skin
Clung but to crate and basket, ribs and spine.
And since he kept his mind on one sole aim,
Nor ever touched fierce wine, nor tasted flesh,
Nor owned a sensual wish, to him the wall
That sunders ghosts and shadow-casting men
Became a crystal, and he saw them through it,
And heard their voices talk behind the wall,
And learnt their elemental secrets, powers
And forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye
Drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud,
And lashed it at the base with slanting storm;
Or in the noon of mist and driving rain,
When the lake whitened and the pinewood roared,
And the cairned mountain was a shadow, sunned
The world to peace again: here was the man.
And so by force they dragged him to the King.
And then he taught the King to charm the Queen
In such-wise, that no man could see her more,
Nor saw she save the King, who wrought the charm,
Coming and going, and she lay as dead,
And lost all use of life: but when the King
Made proffer of the league of golden mines,
The province with a hundred miles of coast,
The palace and the princess, that old man
Went back to his old wild, and lived on grass,
And vanished, and his book came down to me.'
And Vivien answered smiling saucily:
'Ye have the book: the charm is written in it:
Good: take my counsel: let me know it at once:
For keep it like a puzzle chest in chest,
With each chest locked and padlocked thirty-fold,
And whelm all this beneath as vast a mound
As after furious battle turfs the slain
On some wild down above the windy deep,
I yet should strike upon a sudden means
To dig, pick, open, find and read the charm:
Then, if I tried it, who should blame me then?'
And smiling as a master smiles at one
That is not of his school, nor any school
But that where blind and naked Ignorance
Delivers brawling judgments, unashamed,
On all things all day long, he answered her:
'Thou read the book, my pretty Vivien!
O ay, it is but twenty pages long,
But every page having an ample marge,
And every marge enclosing in the midst
A square of text that looks a little blot,
The text no larger than the limbs of fleas;
And every square of text an awful charm,
Writ in a language that has long gone by.
So long, that mountains have arisen since
With cities on their flanks--thou read the book!
And ever margin scribbled, crost, and crammed
With comment, densest condensation, hard
To mind and eye; but the long sleepless nights
Of my long life have made it easy to me.
And none can read the text, not even I;
And none can read the comment but myself;
And in the comment did I find the charm.
O, the results are simple; a mere child
Might use it to the harm of anyone,
And never could undo it: ask no more:
For though you should not prove it upon me,
But keep that oath ye sware, ye might, perchance,
Assay it on some one of the Table Round,
And all because ye dream they babble of you.'
And Vivien, frowning in true anger, said:
'What dare the full-fed liars say of me?
THEY ride abroad redressing human wrongs!
They sit with knife in meat and wine in horn!
THEY bound to holy vows of chastity!
Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.
But you are man, you well can understand
The shame that cannot be explained for shame.
Not one of all the drove should touch me: swine!'
Then answered Merlin careless of her words:
'You breathe but accusation vast and vague,
Spleen-born, I think, and proofless. If ye know,
Set up the charge ye know, to stand or fall!'
And Vivien answered frowning wrathfully:
'O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him
Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his wife
And two fair babes, and went to distant lands;
Was one year gone, and on returning found
Not two but three? there lay the reckling, one
But one hour old! What said the happy sire?'
A seven-months' babe had been a truer gift.
Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.'
Then answered Merlin, 'Nay, I know the tale.
Sir Valence wedded with an outland dame:
Some cause had kept him sundered from his wife:
One child they had: it lived with her: she died:
His kinsman travelling on his own affair
Was charged by Valence to bring home the child.
He brought, not found it therefore: take the truth.'
'O ay,' said Vivien, 'overtrue a tale.
What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore,
That ardent man? "to pluck the flower in season,"
So says the song, "I trow it is no treason."
O Master, shall we call him overquick
To crop his own sweet rose before the hour?'
And Merlin answered, 'Overquick art thou
To catch a loathly plume fallen from the wing
Of that foul bird of rapine whose whole prey
Is man's good name: he never wronged his bride.
I know the tale. An angry gust of wind
Puffed out his torch among the myriad-roomed
And many-corridored complexities
Of Arthur's palace: then he found a door,
And darkling felt the sculptured ornament
That wreathen round it made it seem his own;
And wearied out made for the couch and slept,
A stainless man beside a stainless maid;
And either slept, nor knew of other there;
Till the high dawn piercing the royal rose
In Arthur's casement glimmered chastely down,
Blushing upon them blushing, and at once
He rose without a word and parted from her:
But when the thing was blazed about the court,
The brute world howling forced them into bonds,
And as it chanced they are happy, being pure.'
'O ay,' said Vivien, 'that were likely too.
What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale
And of the horrid foulness that he wrought,
The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of Christ,
Or some black wether of St Satan's fold.
What, in the precincts of the chapel-yard,
Among the knightly brasses of the graves,
And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead!'
And Merlin answered careless of her charge,
'A sober man is Percivale and pure;
But once in life was flustered with new wine,
Then paced for coolness in the chapel-yard;
Where one of Satan's shepherdesses caught
And meant to stamp him with her master's mark;
And that he sinned is not believable;
For, look upon his face!--but if he sinned,
The sin that practice burns into the blood,
And not the one dark hour which brings remorse,
Will brand us, after, of whose fold we be:
Or else were he, the holy king, whose hymns
Are chanted in the minster, worse than all.
But is your spleen frothed out, or have ye more?'
And Vivien answered frowning yet in wrath:
'O ay; what say ye to Sir Lancelot, friend
Traitor or true? that commerce with the Queen,
I ask you, is it clamoured by the child,
Or whispered in the corner? do ye know it?'
To which he answered sadly, 'Yea, I know it.
Sir Lancelot went ambassador, at first,
To fetch her, and she watched him from her walls.
A rumour runs, she took him for the King,
So fixt her fancy on him: let them be.
But have ye no one word of loyal praise
For Arthur, blameless King and stainless man?'
She answered with a low and chuckling laugh:
'Man! is he man at all, who knows and winks?
Sees what his fair bride is and does, and winks?
By which the good King means to blind himself,
And blinds himself and all the Table Round
To all the foulness that they work. Myself
Could call him (were it not for womanhood)
The pretty, popular cause such manhood earns,
Could call him the main cause of all their crime;
Yea, were he not crowned King, coward, and fool.'
Then Merlin to his own heart, loathing, said:
'O true and tender! O my liege and King!
O selfless man and stainless gentleman,
Who wouldst against thine own eye-witness fain
Have all men true and leal, all women pure;
How, in the mouths of base interpreters,
From over-fineness not intelligible
To things with every sense as false and foul
As the poached filth that floods the middle street,
Is thy white blamelessness accounted blame!'
But Vivien, deeming Merlin overborne
By instance, recommenced, and let her tongue
Rage like a fire among the noblest names,
Polluting, and imputing her whole self,
Defaming and defacing, till she left
Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad clean.
Her words had issue other than she willed.
He dragged his eyebrow bushes down, and made
A snowy penthouse for his hollow eyes,
And muttered in himself, 'Tell HER the charm!
So, if she had it, would she rail on me
To snare the next, and if she have it not
So will she rail. What did the wanton say?
"Not mount as high;" we scarce can sink as low:
For men at most differ as Heaven and earth,
But women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell.
I know the Table Round, my friends of old;
All brave, and many generous, and some chaste.
She cloaks the scar of some repulse with lies;
I well believe she tempted them and failed,
Being so bitter: for fine plots may fail,
Though harlots paint their talk as well as face
With colours of the heart that are not theirs.
I will not let her know: nine tithes of times
Face-flatterer and backbiter are the same.
And they, sweet soul, that most impute a crime
Are pronest to it, and impute themselves,
Wanting the mental range; or low desire
Not to feel lowest makes them level all;
Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,
To leave an equal baseness; and in this
Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find
Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
And judge all nature from her feet of clay,
Without the will to lift their eyes, and see
Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,
And touching other worlds. I am weary of her.'
He spoke in words part heard, in whispers part,
Half-suffocated in the hoary fell
And many-wintered fleece of throat and chin.
But Vivien, gathering somewhat of his mood,
And hearing 'harlot' muttered twice or thrice,
Leapt from her session on his lap, and stood
Stiff as a viper frozen; loathsome sight,
How from the rosy lips of life and love,
Flashed the bare-grinning skeleton of death!
White was her cheek; sharp breaths of anger puffed
Her fairy nostril out; her hand half-clenched
Went faltering sideways downward to her belt,
And feeling; had she found a dagger there
(For in a wink the false love turns to hate)
She would have stabbed him; but she found it not:
His eye was calm, and suddenly she took
To bitter weeping like a beaten child,
A long, long weeping, not consolable.
Then her false voice made way, broken with sobs:
'O crueller than was ever told in tale,
Or sung in song! O vainly lavished love!
O cruel, there was nothing wild or strange,
Or seeming shameful--for what shame in love,
So love be true, and not as yours is--nothing
Poor Vivien had not done to win his trust
Who called her what he called her--all her crime,
All--all--the wish to prove him wholly hers.'
She mused a little, and then clapt her hands
Together with a wailing shriek, and said:
'Stabbed through the heart's affections to the heart!
Seethed like the kid in its own mother's milk!
Killed with a word worse than a life of blows!
I thought that he was gentle, being great:
O God, that I had loved a smaller man!
I should have found in him a greater heart.
O, I, that flattering my true passion, saw
The knights, the court, the King, dark in your light,
Who loved to make men darker than they are,
Because of that high pleasure which I had
To seat you sole upon my pedestal
Of worship--I am answered, and henceforth
The course of life that seemed so flowery to me
With you for guide and master, only you,
Becomes the sea-cliff pathway broken short,
And ending in a ruin--nothing left,
But into some low cave to crawl, and there,
If the wolf spare me, weep my life away,
Killed with inutterable unkindliness.'
She paused, she turned away, she hung her head,
The snake of gold slid from her hair, the braid
Slipt and uncoiled itself, she wept afresh,
And the dark wood grew darker toward the storm
In silence, while his anger slowly died
Within him, till he let his wisdom go
For ease of heart, and half believed her true:
Called her to shelter in the hollow oak,
'Come from the storm,' and having no reply,
Gazed at the heaving shoulder, and the face
Hand-hidden, as for utmost grief or shame;
Then thrice essayed, by tenderest-touching terms,
To sleek her ruffled peace of mind, in vain.
At last she let herself be conquered by him,
And as the cageling newly flown returns,
The seeming-injured simple-hearted thing
Came to her old perch back, and settled there.
There while she sat, half-falling from his knees,
Half-nestled at his heart, and since he saw
The slow tear creep from her closed eyelid yet,
About her, more in kindness than in love,
The gentle wizard cast a shielding arm.
But she dislinked herself at once and rose,
Her arms upon her breast across, and stood,
A virtuous gentlewoman deeply wronged,
Upright and flushed before him: then she said:
'There must now be no passages of love
Betwixt us twain henceforward evermore;
Since, if I be what I am grossly called,
What should be granted which your own gross heart
Would reckon worth the taking? I will go.
In truth, but one thing now--better have died
Thrice than have asked it once--could make me stay--
That proof of trust--so often asked in vain!
How justly, after that vile term of yours,
I find with grief! I might believe you then,
Who knows? once more. Lo! what was once to me
Mere matter of the fancy, now hath grown
The vast necessity of heart and life.
Farewell; think gently of me, for I fear
My fate or folly, passing gayer youth
For one so old, must be to love thee still.
But ere I leave thee let me swear once more
That if I schemed against thy peace in this,
May yon just heaven, that darkens o'er me, send
One flash, that, missing all things else, may make
My scheming brain a cinder, if I lie.'
Scarce had she ceased, when out of heaven a bolt
(For now the storm was close above them) struck,
Furrowing a giant oak, and javelining
With darted spikes and splinters of the wood
The dark earth round. He raised his eyes and saw
The tree that shone white-listed through the gloom.
But Vivien, fearing heaven had heard her oath,
And dazzled by the livid-flickering fork,
And deafened with the stammering cracks and claps
That followed, flying back and crying out,
'O Merlin, though you do not love me, save,
Yet save me!' clung to him and hugged him close;
And called him dear protector in her fright,
Nor yet forgot her practice in her fright,
But wrought upon his mood and hugged him close.
The pale blood of the wizard at her touch
Took gayer colours, like an opal warmed.
She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales:
She shook from fear, and for her fault she wept
Of petulancy; she called him lord and liege,
Her seer, her bard, her silver star of eve,
Her God, her Merlin, the one passionate love
Of her whole life; and ever overhead
Bellowed the tempest, and the rotten branch
Snapt in the rushing of the river-rain
Above them; and in change of glare and gloom
Her eyes and neck glittering went and came;
Till now the storm, its burst of passion spent,
Moaning and calling out of other lands,
Had left the ravaged woodland yet once more
To peace; and what should not have been had been,
For Merlin, overtalked and overworn,
Had yielded, told her all the charm, and slept.
Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm
Of woven paces and of waving hands,
And in the hollow oak he lay as dead,
And lost to life and use and name and fame.
Then crying 'I have made his glory mine,'
And shrieking out 'O fool!' the harlot leapt
Adown the forest, and the thicket closed
Behind her, and the forest echoed 'fool.'
To Witness, Learn And Grow
I need not mention,
Those amongst the feeble...
Growing increasingly irritated,
By the light that shines...
Upon their decreasing...
Places of darkness.
I need not mention,
To emphasis with wider eyes...
Freed from the limitation of manipulation,
How clear the horizon...
Appears in cloudless skies.
I am only obligated,
To witness, learn and grow.
And all that I know,
From my own experiences...
Needs less to be mentioned.
But more to become aware,
Of those blessings I have been given.
With a learning to express gratitude.
That's all I need to do.
Sonnet- Man lives in sin
I see most men's, women's hearts steep'd in sin;
At the devil's mercy, lives spend they all;
By hook or crook; by all bad means, they win,
A game by dice than by playing the ball.
'Tis hard to see a single person true;
The best of minds like iron too gets rust;
Let me not blame man but life's changing hue,
Engulf'd his heart lies in a sinful crust.
If men look bad much to my human eyes,
How much worse off they would be in God's look?
In utter chaos, their life and work lies;
Men do not live as per the Sacred Book.
O God, wilt Thou bring back Deluge again?
Or destroy earth by locusts, sulfur-Rain?
I Learn And Study English
- Let’s start from the very beginning!
- Ok, I know, it’s a very good place to start.
- If you want to know how to read
you have to learn the alphabet.
As far as we are not in a race
you can face 26 letters in one phrase.
“The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”.
Now we’ll have some dialogue.
You’ll see how new words appear,
I hope everything will be clear.
For example: to admire – admiration,
to inspire – inspiration. Now you, please!
And pray be at your ease!
- To desire – desiration.
- Oops! My voice whoops!
Well, when you study English
you have to distinguish:
one goose but many geese.
-What about a moose?
Are they meese?
- A lone mouse can transform into…
a whole set of mice,
but… it’s impossible for a single house
to become a whole block of hice.
- Ok, a house – houses.
Why not a mouse – mouses?
- A tooth but teeth, a foot but feet.
If I speak of a foot
and you show me your feet.
- And if I give you a boot
would a pair be called beet?
Can I say a root
and in plural form reet?
- Let’s make this question complete!
There are a lot of exceptions
in the language of British nations.
Anyway, the rules are the tools
for learning the language,
and together with the exceptions
it is something like a sandwich.
Let’s go on! - said my teacher with a yawn.
A lot of time has already gone,
I am not going to stay here until the dawn.
Do you like to read?
- Of course! The books are the source of information,
to learn the language formation.
- Ok, then you are a reader.
- If I like to write I am a writer, am I not?
- Oh, yes! Something I forgot.
Let’s take an easy word “ball”.
- Yes, I like to play football.
- Good! Now open the ball!
- What do you mean by that?
I am not a rat so that to cut the ball.
It’s not funny at all.
- You are kidding!
- Oh, no! I am not a kid!
I would like to know where the meaning of that “ball” lead.
- Ok, in that phrase “ball” has the meaning of a party,
but… a bit more arty.
- There are a lot of other English words I can’t understand.
Why do they call all men gentlemen?
Are they all gentle?
This word looks so fundamental.
If a man is rude can I say a rudeman?
I wouldn’t like to look like a clown
That’s why I ask you again:
Will the difference remain
If I say: shut up or shut down?
I would also like to know:
If we say a teacher taught
why can’t we say: a preacher praught?
If people from Poland are called “Poles”
Why aren’t people from Holland called “Holes”
- Ok, I think our time has gone
and the whole picture of English was not yet drawn.
But at the end of our lesson I would like say:
You were lying all day.
- Oh, no! That’s not true!
I lay on the sofa just several times.
You had better tell me:
With just what “lie” rhymes?
Larisa R (Odessa, Ukraine)
Book V - Part 05 - Origins Of Vegetable And Animal Life
And now to what remains!- Since I've resolved
By what arrangements all things come to pass
Through the blue regions of the mighty world,-
How we can know what energy and cause
Started the various courses of the sun
And the moon's goings, and by what far means
They can succumb, the while with thwarted light,
And veil with shade the unsuspecting lands,
When, as it were, they blink, and then again
With open eye survey all regions wide,
Resplendent with white radiance- I do now
Return unto the world's primeval age
And tell what first the soft young fields of earth
With earliest parturition had decreed
To raise in air unto the shores of light
And to entrust unto the wayward winds.
In the beginning, earth gave forth, around
The hills and over all the length of plains,
The race of grasses and the shining green;
The flowery meadows sparkled all aglow
With greening colour, and thereafter, lo,
Unto the divers kinds of trees was given
An emulous impulse mightily to shoot,
With a free rein, aloft into the air.
As feathers and hairs and bristles are begot
The first on members of the four-foot breeds
And on the bodies of the strong-y-winged,
Thus then the new Earth first of all put forth
Grasses and shrubs, and afterward begat
The mortal generations, there upsprung-
Innumerable in modes innumerable-
After diverging fashions. For from sky
These breathing-creatures never can have dropped,
Nor the land-dwellers ever have come up
Out of sea-pools of salt. How true remains,
How merited is that adopted name
Of earth- "The Mother!"- since from out the earth
Are all begotten. And even now arise
From out the loams how many living things-
Concreted by the rains and heat of the sun.
Wherefore 'tis less a marvel, if they sprang
In Long Ago more many, and more big,
Matured of those days in the fresh young years
Of earth and ether. First of all, the race
Of the winged ones and parti-coloured birds,
Hatched out in spring-time, left their eggs behind;
As now-a-days in summer tree-crickets
Do leave their shiny husks of own accord,
Seeking their food and living. Then it was
This earth of thine first gave unto the day
The mortal generations; for prevailed
Among the fields abounding hot and wet.
And hence, where any fitting spot was given,
There 'gan to grow womb-cavities, by roots
Affixed to earth. And when in ripened time
The age of the young within (that sought the air
And fled earth's damps) had burst these wombs, O then
Would Nature thither turn the pores of earth
And make her spurt from open veins a juice
Like unto milk; even as a woman now
Is filled, at child-bearing, with the sweet milk,
Because all that swift stream of aliment
Is thither turned unto the mother-breasts.
There earth would furnish to the children food;
Warmth was their swaddling cloth, the grass their bed
Abounding in soft down. Earth's newness then
Would rouse no dour spells of the bitter cold,
Nor extreme heats nor winds of mighty powers-
For all things grow and gather strength through time
In like proportions; and then earth was young.
Wherefore, again, again, how merited
Is that adopted name of Earth- The Mother!-
Since she herself begat the human race,
And at one well-nigh fixed time brought forth
Each breast that ranges raving round about
Upon the mighty mountains and all birds
Aerial with many a varied shape.
But, lo, because her bearing years must end,
She ceased, like to a woman worn by eld.
For lapsing aeons change the nature of
The whole wide world, and all things needs must take
One status after other, nor aught persists
Forever like itself. All things depart;
Nature she changeth all, compelleth all
To transformation. Lo, this moulders down,
A-slack with weary eld, and that, again,
Prospers in glory, issuing from contempt.
In suchwise, then, the lapsing aeons change
The nature of the whole wide world, and earth
Taketh one status after other. And what
She bore of old, she now can bear no longer,
And what she never bore, she can to-day.
In those days also the telluric world
Strove to beget the monsters that upsprung
With their astounding visages and limbs-
The Man-woman- a thing betwixt the twain,
Yet neither, and from either sex remote-
Some gruesome Boggles orphaned of the feet,
Some widowed of the hands, dumb Horrors too
Without a mouth, or blind Ones of no eye,
Or Bulks all shackled by their legs and arms
Cleaving unto the body fore and aft,
Thuswise, that never could they do or go,
Nor shun disaster, nor take the good they would.
And other prodigies and monsters earth
Was then begetting of this sort- in vain,
Since Nature banned with horror their increase,
And powerless were they to reach unto
The coveted flower of fair maturity,
Or to find aliment, or to intertwine
In works of Venus. For we see there must
Concur in life conditions manifold,
If life is ever by begetting life
To forge the generations one by one:
First, foods must be; and, next, a path whereby
The seeds of impregnation in the frame
May ooze, released from the members all;
Last, the possession of those instruments
Whereby the male with female can unite,
The one with other in mutual ravishments.
And in the ages after monsters died,
Perforce there perished many a stock, unable
By propagation to forge a progeny.
For whatsoever creatures thou beholdest
Breathing the breath of life, the same have been
Even from their earliest age preserved alive
By cunning, or by valour, or at least
By speed of foot or wing. And many a stock
Remaineth yet, because of use to man,
And so committed to man's guardianship.
Valour hath saved alive fierce lion-breeds
And many another terrorizing race,
Cunning the foxes, flight the antlered stags.
Light-sleeping dogs with faithful heart in breast,
However, and every kind begot from seed
Of beasts of draft, as, too, the woolly flocks
And horned cattle, all, my Memmius,
Have been committed to guardianship of men.
For anxiously they fled the savage beasts,
And peace they sought and their abundant foods,
Obtained with never labours of their own,
Which we secure to them as fit rewards
For their good service. But those beasts to whom
Nature has granted naught of these same things-
Beasts quite unfit by own free will to thrive
And vain for any service unto us
In thanks for which we should permit their kind
To feed and be in our protection safe-
Those, of a truth, were wont to be exposed,
Enshackled in the gruesome bonds of doom,
As prey and booty for the rest, until
Nature reduced that stock to utter death.
But Centaurs ne'er have been, nor can there be
Creatures of twofold stock and double frame,
Compact of members alien in kind,
Yet formed with equal function, equal force
In every bodily part- a fact thou mayst,
However dull thy wits, well learn from this:
The horse, when his three years have rolled away,
Flowers in his prime of vigour; but the boy
Not so, for oft even then he gropes in sleep
After the milky nipples of the breasts,
An infant still. And later, when at last
The lusty powers of horses and stout limbs,
Now weak through lapsing life, do fail with age,
Lo, only then doth youth with flowering years
Begin for boys, and clothe their ruddy cheeks
With the soft down. So never deem, percase,
That from a man and from the seed of horse,
The beast of draft, can Centaurs be composed
Or e'er exist alive, nor Scyllas be-
The half-fish bodies girdled with mad dogs-
Nor others of this sort, in whom we mark
Members discordant each with each; for ne'er
At one same time they reach their flower of age
Or gain and lose full vigour of their frame,
And never burn with one same lust of love,
And never in their habits they agree,
Nor find the same foods equally delightsome-
Sooth, as one oft may see the bearded goats
Batten upon the hemlock which to man
Is violent poison. Once again, since flame
Is wont to scorch and burn the tawny bulks
Of the great lions as much as other kinds
Of flesh and blood existing in the lands,
How could it be that she, Chimaera lone,
With triple body- fore, a lion she;
And aft, a dragon; and betwixt, a goat-
Might at the mouth from out the body belch
Infuriate flame? Wherefore, the man who feigns
Such beings could have been engendered
When earth was new and the young sky was fresh
(Basing his empty argument on new)
May babble with like reason many whims
Into our ears: he'll say, perhaps, that then
Rivers of gold through every landscape flowed,
That trees were wont with precious stones to flower,
Or that in those far aeons man was born
With such gigantic length and lift of limbs
As to be able, based upon his feet,
Deep oceans to bestride; or with his hands
To whirl the firmament around his head.
For though in earth were many seeds of things
In the old time when this telluric world
First poured the breeds of animals abroad,
Still that is nothing of a sign that then
Such hybrid creatures could have been begot
And limbs of all beasts heterogeneous
Have been together knit; because, indeed,
The divers kinds of grasses and the grains
And the delightsome trees- which even now
Spring up abounding from within the earth-
Can still ne'er be begotten with their stems
Begrafted into one; but each sole thing
Proceeds according to its proper wont
And all conserve their own distinctions based
In Nature's fixed decree.
The Old Man's Calendar
OFT have I seen in wedlock with surprise,
That most forgot from which true bliss would rise
When marriage for a daughter is designed,
The parents solely riches seem to mind;
All other boons are left to heav'n above,
And sweet SIXTEEN must SIXTY learn to love!
Yet still in other things they nicer seem,
Their chariot-horses and their oxen-team
Are truly matched;--in height exact are these,
While those each shade alike must have to please;
Without the choice 'twere wonderful to find,
Or coach or wagon travel to their mind.
The marriage journey full of cares appears,
When couples match in neither souls nor years!
An instance of the kind I'll now detail:
The feeling bosom will such lots bewail!
QUINZICA, (Richard), as the story goes,
Indulged his wife at balls, and feasts, and shows,
Expecting other duties she'd forget,
In which howe'er he disappointment met.
A judge in Pisa, Richard was, it seems,
In law most learned: wily in his schemes;
But silver beard and locks too clearly told,
He ought to have a wife of diff'rent mould;
Though he had taken one of noble birth,
Quite young, most beautiful, and formed for mirth,
Bartholomea Galandi her name;
The lady's parents were of rank and fame;
Our JUDGE herein had little wisdom shown,
And sneering friends around were often known
To say, his children ne'er could fathers lack:
At giving counsel some have got a knack,
Who, were they but at home to turn their eyes,
Might find, perhaps, they're not so over-wise.
QUINZICA, then perceiving that his pow'rs
Fell short of what a bird like his devours,
T'excuse himself and satisfy his dear,
Pretended that, no day within the year,
To Hymen, as a saint, was e'er assigned,
In calendar, or book of any kind,
When full ATTENTION to the god was paid:--
To aged sires a nice convenient aid;
But this the sex by no means fancy right;
Few days to PLEASURE could his heart invite
At times, the week entire he'd have a fast;
At others, say the day 'mong saints was classed,
Though no one ever heard its holy name;--
FAST ev'ry Friday--Saturday the same,
Since Sunday followed, consecrated day;
Then Monday came:--still he'd abstain from play;
Each morning find excuse, but solemn feasts
Were days most sacred held by all the priests;
On abstinence, then, Richard lectures read,
And long before the time, was always led
By sense of right, from dainties to refrain:
A period afterward would also gain;
The like observed before and after Lent;
And ev'ry feast had got the same extent;
These times were gracious for our aged man;
And never pass them was his constant plan.
OF patron saints he always had a list;
Th' evangelists, apostles, none he miss'd;
And that his scruples might have constant food;
Some days malign, he said, were understood;
Then foggy weather;--dog-days' fervent heat:
To seek excuses he was most complete,
And ne'er asham'd but manag'd things so well,
Four times a year, by special grace, they tell,
Our sage regal'd his youthful blooming wife,
A little with the sweets of marriage life.
WITH this exception he was truly kind,
Fine dresses, jewels, all to please her mind;
But these are bawbles which alone controul
Those belles, like dolls, mere bodies void of soul.
Bartholomea was of diff'rent clay;
Her only pleasure (as our hist'ries say),
To go in summer to the neighb'ring coast,
Where her good spouse a charming house could boast,
In which they took their lodging once a week;
At times they pleasure on the waves would seek,
As fishing with the lady would agree,
And she was wond'rous partial to the sea,
Though far to sail they always would refuse.
One day it happened better to amuse,
Our couple diff'rent fishing vessels took,
And skimm'd the wave to try who most could hook,
Of fish and pleasure; and they laid a bet,
The greatest number which of them should get.
On board they had a man or two at most.
And each the best adventure hop'd to boast.
A CERTAIN pirate soon observ'd the ship,
In which this charming lady made the trip,
And presently attack'd and seiz'd the same;
But Richard's bark to shore in safety came;
So near the land, or else he would not brave,
To any great extent, the stormy wave,
Or that the robber thought if both he took,
He could not decently for favours look,
And he preferr'd those joys the FAIR bestow,
To all the riches which to mortals flow.
ALTHOUGH a pirate, he had always shown
Much honour in his acts, as well was known;
But Cupid's frolicks were his heart's delight:
None truly brave can ever beauty slight;
A sailor's always bold and kind and free,
Good lib'ral fellows, such they'll ever be;
'Mong saints indeed 'twere vain their names to seek!
The man was good howe'er of whom we speak;
His usual name was Pagamin Montegue;
For hours the lady's screams were heard a league,
While he each minute anxiously would seize,
To cheer her spirits and her heart to please;
T'attain his wish he ev'ry art combined;
At length the lovely captive all resigned.
'Twas Cupid conquer'd, Cupid with his dart;
A thousand times more pirate in his art,
Than Pagamin; on bleeding hearts he preys,
But little quarter gives, nor grace displays:
To pay her ransom she'd enough of gold;
For this her spouse was truly never cold;
No fast nor festival therein appear'd,
And her captivity he greatly fear'd.
THIS calendar o'erspread with rubrick days;
She soon forgot and learn'd the pirate's ways;
The matrimonial zone aside was thrown,
And only mentioned where the fact was known:
OUR lawyer would his fingers sooner burn;
Than have his wife but virtuous home return;
By means of gold he entertain'd no doubt,
Her restoration might be brought about.
A passport from the pirate he obtain'd,
Then waited on him and his wish explain'd;
To pay he offer'd what soe'er he'd ask;
His terms accept, though hard perhaps the task;
THE robber answer'd, if my name around,
Be not for honourable acts renown'd,
'Tis quite unjust:--your partner I'll restore
In health, without a ransom:--would you more?
A friendship so respect'd, heav'n forefend!
Should ever, by my conduct, have an end.
The fair, whom you so ardently admire,
Shall to your arms return as you desire,
Such pleasure to a friend I would not sell;
Convince me that she's your's, and all is well;
For if another I to you should give,
(And many that I've taken with me live,)
I surely should incur a heavy blame;
I lately captur'd one, a charming dame,
With auburn locks, a little fat, tall, young;
If she declare she does to you belong,
When you she's seen, I will the belle concede;
You'll take her instantly; I'll not impede.
THE sage replied, your conduct's truly wise;
Such wond'rous kindness fills me with surprise;
But since 'tis said that every trade must live,
The sum just mention:--I'll the ransom give;
No compliment I wish, my purse behold
You know the money presently is told;
Consider me a stranger now I pray;
With you I'd equal probity display,
And so will act, I swear, as you shall see;
There 's not a doubt the fair will go with me;
My word for this I would not have you take:--
You'll see how happy 'twill the lady make
To find me here; to my embrace she'll fly;
My only fears--that she of joy will die.
To them the charmer now was instant brought,
Who eyed her husband as beneath a thought;
Received him coldly, just as if he'd been
A stranger from Peru, she ne'er had seen.
LOOK, said Quinzica, she's ashamed 'tis plain
So many lookers on her love restrain;
But be assured, if we were left alone,
Around my neck her arms would soon be thrown.
IF this, replied the pirate, you believe,
Attend her toilet:--naught can then deceive.
Away they went, and closely shut the door;
When Richard said, thou darling of my store,
How can'st thou thus behave? my pretty dove,
'Tis thy Quinzica, come to seek his love,
In all the same, except about his wife;
Dost in this face a change observe my life?
'Tis grieving for thy loss that makes me ill;
Did ever I in aught deny thy will?
In dress or play could any thee exceed?
And had'st thou not whatever thou might'st need?
To please thee, oft I made myself a slave;
Such thou art now; but thee again I crave.
Then what dost think about thy honour, dear?--
Said she, with ire, I neither know nor fear;
Is this a time to guard it, do you say?
What pain was shown by any one, I pray;
When I was forc'd to wed a man like you,
Old, impotent, and hateful to the view,
While I was young and blooming as the morn,
Deserving truly, something less forlorn,
And seemingly intended to possess
What Hymen best in store has got to bless;
For I was thought by all the world around,
Most worthy ev'ry bliss in wedlock found.
YET things took quite another turn with me
In tune my husband never proved to be,
Except a feast or two throughout the year;
From Pagamin I met a diff'rent cheer;
Another lesson presently he taught;
The life's sweet pleasures more the pirate brought,
In two short days, than e'er I had from you
In those four years that only you I knew.
PRAY leave me husband:--let me have my will
Insist not on my living with you still;
No calendars with Pagamin are seen--
Far better treated with the man I've been.
My other friends and you much worse deserved:
The spouse, for taking me when quite unnerved,
And they, for giving preference base to gold,
To those pure joys--far better thought than told.
But Pagamin in ev'ry way can please;
And though no code he owns, yet all is ease;
Himself will tell you what has passed this morn,
His actions would a sov'reign prince adorn.
Such information may excite surprise,
But now the truth, 'twere useless to disguise,
Nothing will gain belief, we've no one near
To witness our discourse:--adieu, my dear,
To all your festivals--I'm flesh and blood:--
Gems, dresses, ornaments, do little good;
You know full well, betwixt the head and heel,
Though little's said, yet much we often feel.
On this she stopt, and Richard dropt his chin,
Rejoiced to 'scape from such unwelcome din.
BARTHOLOMEA, pleased with what had passed;
No disposition showed to hold him fast;
The downcast husband felt such poignant grief,
With ills where age can scarcely hope relief,
That soon he left this busy stage of life,
And Pagamin the widow took to wife.
The deed was just, for neither of the two
E'er felt what oft in Richard rose to view;
From feeling proof arose their mutual choice;
And 'tween them ne'er was heard the jarring voice.
BEHOLD a lesson for the aged man;
Who thinks, when old, to act as he began;
But, if the sage a yielding dotard seems,
His work is done by those the wife esteems;
Complaints are never heard; no thrilling fears;
And ev'ry one around at ease appears.
Vaudracour And Julia
O HAPPY time of youthful lovers (thus
My story may begin) O balmy time,
In which a love-knot on a lady's brow
Is fairer than the fairest star in heaven!
To such inheritance of blessed fancy
(Fancy that sports more desperately with minds
Than ever fortune hath been known to do)
The high-born Vaudracour was brought, by years
Whose progress had a little overstepped
His stripling prime. A town of small repute,
Among the vine-clad mountains of Auvergne,
Was the Youth's birth-place. There he wooed a Maid
Who heard the heart-felt music of his suit
With answering vows. Plebeian was the stock,
Plebeian, though ingenuous, the stock,
From which her graces and her honours sprung:
And hence the father of the enamoured Youth,
With haughty indignation, spurned the thought
Of such alliance.--From their cradles up,
With but a step between their several homes,
Twins had they been in pleasure; after strife
And petty quarrels, had grown fond again;
Each other's advocate, each other's stay;
And, in their happiest moments, not content,
If more divided than a sportive pair
Of sea-fowl, conscious both that they are hovering
Within the eddy of a common blast,
Or hidden only by the concave depth
Of neighbouring billows from each other's sight.
Thus, not without concurrence of an age
Unknown to memory, was an earnest given
By ready nature for a life of love,
For endless constancy, and placid truth;
But whatsoe'er of such rare treasure lay
Reserved, had fate permitted, for support
Of their maturer years, his present mind
Was under fascination;--he beheld
A vision, and adored the thing he saw.
Arabian fiction never filled the world
With half the wonders that were wrought for him.
Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring;
Life turned the meanest of her implements,
Before his eyes, to price above all gold;
The house she dwelt in was a sainted shrine;
Her chamber-window did surpass in glory
The portals of the dawn; all paradise
Could, by the simple opening of a door,
Let itself in upon him:--pathways, walks,
Swarmed with enchantment, till his spirit sank,
Surcharged, within him, overblest to move
Beneath a sun that wakes a weary world
To its dull round of ordinary cares;
A man too happy for mortality!
So passed the time, till whether through effect
Of some unguarded moment that dissolved
Virtuous restraint--ah, speak it, think it, not!
Deem rather that the fervent Youth, who saw
So many bars between his present state
And the dear haven where he wished to be
In honourable wedlock with his Love,
Was in his judgment tempted to decline
To perilous weakness, and entrust his cause
To nature for a happy end of all;
Deem that by such fond hope the Youth was swayed,
And bear with their transgression, when I add
That Julia, wanting yet the name of wife,
Carried about her for a secret grief
The promise of a mother.
The threatened shame, the parents of the Maid
Found means to hurry her away by night,
And unforewarned, that in some distant spot
She might remain shrouded in privacy,
Until the babe was born. When morning came
The Lover, thus bereft, stung with his loss,
And all uncertain whither he should turn,
Chafed like a wild beast in the toils; but soon
Discovering traces of the fugitives,
Their steps he followed to the Maid's retreat.
Easily may the sequel be divined--
Walks to and fro--watchings at every hour;
And the fair Captive, who, whene'er she may,
Is busy at her casement as the swallow
Fluttering its pinions, almost within reach,
About the pendent nest, did thus espy
Her Lover!--thence a stolen interview,
Accomplished under friendly shade of night.
I pass the raptures of the pair;--such theme
Is, by innumerable poets, touched
In more delightful verse than skill of mine
Could fashion; chiefly by that darling bard
Who told of Juliet and her Romeo,
And of the lark's note heard before its time,
And of the streaks that laced the severing clouds
In the unrelenting east.--Through all her courts
The vacant city slept; the busy winds,
That keep no certain intervals of rest,
Moved not; meanwhile the galaxy displayed
Her fires, that like mysterious pulses beat
Aloft;--momentous but uneasy bliss!
To their full hearts the universe seemed hung
On that brief meeting's slender filament!
They parted; and the generous Vaudracour
Reached speedily the native threshold, bent
On making (so the Lovers had agreed)
A sacrifice of birthright to attain
A final portion from his father's hand;
Which granted, Bride and Bridegroom then would flee
To some remote and solitary place,
Shady as night, and beautiful as heaven,
Where they may live, with no one to behold
Their happiness, or to disturb their love.
But 'now' of this no whisper; not the less,
If ever an obtrusive word were dropped
Touching the matter of his passion, still,
In his stern father's hearing, Vaudracour
Persisted openly that death alone
Should abrogate his human privilege
Divine, of swearing everlasting truth,
Upon the altar, to the Maid he loved.
'You shall be baffled in your mad intent
If there be justice in the court of France,'
Muttered the Father.--From these words the Youth
Conceived a terror; and, by night or day,
Stirred nowhere without weapons, that full soon
Found dreadful provocation: for at night
When to his chamber he retired, attempt
Was made to seize him by three armed men,
Acting, in furtherance of the father's will,
Under a private signet of the State.
One the rash Youth's ungovernable hand
Slew, and as quickly to a second gave
A perilous wound--he shuddered to behold
The breathless corse; then peacefully resigned
His person to the law, was lodged in prison,
And wore the fetters of a criminal.
Have you observed a tuft of winged seed
That, from the dandelion's naked stalk,
Mounted aloft, is suffered not to use
Its natural gifts for purposes of rest,
Driven by the autumnal whirlwind to and fro
Through the wide element? or have you marked
The heavier substance of a leaf-clad bough,
Within the vortex of a foaming flood,
Tormented? by such aid you may conceive
The perturbation that ensued;--ah, no!
Desperate the Maid--the Youth is stained with blood;
Unmatchable on earth is their disquiet!
Yet as the troubled seed and tortured bough
Is Man, subjected to despotic sway.
For him, by private influence with the Court,
Was pardon gained, and liberty procured;
But not without exaction of a pledge,
Which liberty and love dispersed in air.
He flew to her from whom they would divide him--
He clove to her who could not give him peace--
Yea, his first word of greeting was,--'All right
Is gone from me; my lately-towering hopes,
To the least fibre of their lowest root,
Are withered; thou no longer canst be mine,
I thine--the conscience-stricken must not woo
The unruffled Innocent,--I see thy face,
Behold thee, and my misery is complete!'
'One, are we not?' exclaimed the Maiden--'One,
For innocence and youth, for weal and woe?'
Then with the father's name she coupled words
Of vehement indignation; but the Youth
Checked her with filial meekness; for no thought
Uncharitable crossed his mind, no sense
Of hasty anger rising in the eclipse
Of true domestic loyalty, did e'er
Find place within his bosom.--Once again
The persevering wedge of tyranny
Achieved their separation: and once more
Were they united,--to be yet again
Disparted, pitiable lot! But here
A portion of the tale may well be left
In silence, though my memory could add
Much how the Youth, in scanty space of time,
Was traversed from without; much, too, of thoughts
That occupied his days in solitude
Under privation and restraint; and what,
Through dark and shapeless fear of things to come,
And what, through strong compunction for the past,
He suffered--breaking down in heart and mind!
Doomed to a third and last captivity,
His freedom he recovered on the eve
Of Julia's travail. When the babe was born,
Its presence tempted him to cherish schemes
Of future happiness. 'You shall return,
Julia,' said he, 'and to your father's house
Go with the child.--You have been wretched; yet
The silver shower, whose reckless burthen weighs
Too heavily upon the lily's head,
Oft leaves a saving moisture at its root.
Malice, beholding you, will melt away.
Go!--'tis a town where both of us were born;
None will reproach you, for our truth is known;
And if, amid those once-bright bowers, our fate
Remain unpitied, pity is not in man.
With ornaments--the prettiest, nature yields
Or art can fashion, shall you deck our boy,
And feed his countenance with your own sweet looks
Till no one can resist him.--Now, even now,
I see him sporting on the sunny lawn;
My father from the window sees him too;
Startled, as if some new-created thing
Enriched the earth, or Faery of the woods
Bounded before him;--but the unweeting Child
Shall by his beauty win his grandsire's heart
So that it shall be softened, and our loves
End happily, as they began!'
Appeared but seldom; oftener was he seen
Propping a pale and melancholy face
Upon the Mother's bosom; resting thus
His head upon one breast, while from the other
The Babe was drawing in its quiet food.
--That pillow is no longer to be thine,
Fond Youth! that mournful solace now must pass
Into the list of things that cannot be!
Unwedded Julia, terror-smitten, hears
The sentence, by her mother's lip pronounced,
That dooms her to a convent.--Who shall tell,
Who dares report, the tidings to the lord
Of her affections? so they blindly asked
Who knew not to what quiet depths a weight
Of agony had pressed the Sufferer down:
The word, by others dreaded, he can hear
Composed and silent, without visible sign
Of even the least emotion. Noting this,
When the impatient object of his love
Upbraided him with slackness, he returned
No answer, only took the mother's hand
And kissed it; seemingly devoid of pain,
Or care, that what so tenderly he pressed,
Was a dependant on the obdurate heart
Of one who came to disunite their lives
For ever--sad alternative! preferred,
By the unbending Parents of the Maid,
To secret 'spousals meanly disavowed.
--So be it!
In the city he remained
A season after Julia had withdrawn
To those religious walls. He, too, departs--
Who with him?--even the senseless Little-one.
With that sole charge he passed the city-gates,
For the last time, attendant by the side
Of a close chair, a litter, or sedan,
In which the Babe was carried. To a hill,
That rose a brief league distant from the town,
The dwellers in that house where he had lodged
Accompanied his steps, by anxious love
Impelled;--they parted from him there, and stood
Watching below till he had disappeared
On the hill top. His eyes he scarcely took,
Throughout that journey, from the vehicle
(Slow-moving ark of all his hopes!) that veiled
The tender infant: and, at every inn,
And under every hospitable tree
At which the bearers halted or reposed,
Laid him with timid care upon his knees,
And looked, as mothers ne'er were known to look,
Upon the nursling which his arms embraced.
This was the manner in which Vaudracour
Departed with his infant; and thus reached
His father's house, where to the innocent child
Admittance was denied. The young man spake
No word of indignation or reproof,
But of his father begged, a last request,
That a retreat might be assigned to him
Where in forgotten quiet he might dwell,
With such allowance as his wants required;
For wishes he had none. To a lodge that stood
Deep in a forest, with leave given, at the age
Of four-and-twenty summers he withdrew;
And thither took with him his motherless Babe,
And one domestic for their common needs,
An aged woman. It consoled him here
To attend upon the orphan, and perform
Obsequious service to the precious child,
Which, after a short time, by some mistake
Or indiscretion of the Father, died.--
The Tale I follow to its last recess
Of suffering or of peace, I know not which:
Theirs be the blame who caused the woe, not mine!
From this time forth he never shared a smile
With mortal creature. An Inhabitant
Of that same town, in which the pair had left
So lively a remembrance of their griefs,
By chance of business, coming within reach
Of his retirement, to the forest lodge
Repaired, but only found the matron there,
Who told him that his pains were thrown away,
For that her Master never uttered word
To living thing--not even to her.--Behold!
While they were speaking, Vaudracour approached;
But, seeing some one near, as on the latch
Of the garden-gate his hand was laid, he shrunk--
And, like a shadow, glided out of view.
Shocked at his savage aspect, from the place
The visitor retired.
Thus lived the Youth
Cut off from all intelligence with man,
And shunning even the light of common day;
Nor could the voice of Freedom, which through France
Full speedily resounded, public hope,
Or personal memory of his own deep wrongs,
Rouse him: but in those solitary shades
His days he wasted, an imbecile mind!
Counter and Clubb were men in trade, whose pains,
Credit, and prudence, brought them constant gains;
Partners and punctual, every friend agreed
Counter and Clubb were men who must succeed.
When they had fix'd some little time in life,
Each thought of taking to himself a wife:
As men in trade alike, as men in love,
They seem'd with no according views to move;
As certain ores in outward view the same,
They show'd their difference when the magnet came.
Counter was vain: with spirit strong and high,
'Twas not in him like suppliant swain to sigh:
'His wife might o'er his men and maids preside,
And in her province be a judge and guide;
But what he thought, or did, or wish'd to do,
She must not know, or censure if she knew;
At home, abroad, by day, by night, if he
On aught determined, so it was to be:
How is a man,' he ask'd, 'for business fit,
Who to a female can his will submit?
Absent a while, let no inquiring eye
Or plainer speech presume to question why:
But all be silent; and, when seen again,
Let all be cheerful--shall a wife complain?
Friends I invite, and who shall dare t'object,
Or look on them with coolness or neglect?
No! I must ever of my house be head,
And, thus obey'd, I condescend to wed.'
Clubb heard the speech--'My friend is nice, said
A wife with less respect will do for me:
How is he certain such a prize to gain?
What he approves, a lass may learn to feign,
And so affect t'obey till she begins to reign;
A while complying, she may vary then,
And be as wives of more unwary men;
Beside, to him who plays such lordly part,
How shall a tender creature yield her heart;
Should he the promised confidence refuse,
She may another more confiding choose;
May show her anger, yet her purpose hide,
And wake his jealousy, and wound his pride.
In one so humbled, who can trace the friend?
I on an equal, not a slave, depend;
If true, my confidence is wisely placed,
And being false, she only is disgraced.'
Clubb, with these notions, cast his eye around;
And one so easy soon a partner found.
The lady chosen was of good repute;
Meekness she had not, and was seldom mute;
Though quick to anger, still she loved to smile,
And would be calm if men would wait a while:
She knew her duty, and she loved her way,
More pleased in truth to govern than obey;
She heard her priest with reverence, and her spouse
As one who felt the pressure of her vows;
Useful and civil, all her friends confess'd -
Give her her way, and she would choose the best;
Though some indeed a sly remark would make -
Give it her not, and she would choose to take.
All this, when Clubb some cheerful months had
He saw, confess'd, and said he was content.
Counter meantime selected, doubted, weigh'd,
And then brought home a young complying maid;
A tender creature, full of fears as charms,
A beauteous nursling from its mother's arms;
A soft, sweet blossom, such as men must love,
But to preserve must keep it in the stove:
She had a mild, subdued, expiring look -
Raise but the voice, and this fair creature shook;
Leave her alone, she felt a thousand fears -
Chide, and she melted into floods of tears;
Fondly she pleaded, and would gently sigh,
For very pity, or she knew not why;
One whom to govern none could be afraid -
Hold up the finger, this meek thing obey'd;
Her happy husband had the easiest task -
Say but his will, no question would she ask;
She sought no reasons, no affairs she knew,
Of business spoke not, and had nought to do.
Oft he exclaim'd, 'How meek! how mild! how kind!
With her 'twere cruel but to seem unkind;
Though ever silent when I take my leave,
It pains my heart to think how hers will grieve;
'Tis heaven on earth with such a wife to dwell,
I am in raptures to have sped so well;
But let me not, my friend, your envy raise,
No! on my life, your patience has my praise.'
His Friend, though silent, felt the scorn
'What need of patience?' to himself he cried:
'Better a woman o'er her house to rule,
Than a poor child just hurried from her school;
Who has no care, yet never lives at ease;
Unfit to rule, and indisposed to please.
What if he govern, there his boast should end;
No husband's power can make a slave his friend.'
It was the custom of these Friends to meet
With a few neighbours in a neighbouring street;
Where Counter ofttimes would occasion seize
To move his silent Friend by words like these:
'A man,' said he, 'if govern'd by his wife,
Gives up his rank and dignity in life;
Now, better fate befalls my Friend and me.' -
He spoke, and look'd th' approving smile to see.
The quiet partner, when he chose to speak,
Desired his friend 'another theme to seek;
When thus they met, he judged that state-affairs
And such important subjects should be theirs:'
But still the partner, in his lighter vein,
Would cause in Clubb affliction or disdain;
It made him anxious to detect the cause
Of all that boasting: --'Wants my friend applause?
This plainly proves him not at perfect ease,
For, felt he pleasure, he would wish to please.
These triumphs here for some regrets atone -
Men who are bless'd let other men alone.'
Thus made suspicious, he observed and saw
His friend each night at early hour withdraw;
He sometimes mention'd Juliet's tender nerves,
And what attention such a wife deserves:
'In this,' thought Clubb, 'full sure some mystery
He laughs at me, yet he with much complies,
And all his vaunts of bliss are proud apologies.'
With such ideas treasured in his breast,
He grew composed, and let his anger rest;
Till Counter once (when wine so long went round,
That friendship and discretion both were drown'd)
Began, in teasing and triumphant mood,
His evening banter: --'Of all earthly good,
The best,' he said, 'was an obedient spouse,
Such as my friend's--that every one allows:
What if she wishes his designs to know?
It is because she would her praise bestow;
What if she wills that he remain at home?
She knows that mischief may from travel come.
I, who am free to venture where I please,
Have no such kind preventing checks as these;
But mine is double duty, first to guide
Myself aright, then rule a house beside;
While this our friend, more happy than the free,
Resigns all power, and laughs at liberty.'
'By heaven!' said Clubb, 'excuse me if I swear,
I'll bet a hundred guineas, if he dare,
That uncontroll'd I will such freedoms take
That he will fear to equal--there's my stake.'
'A match!' said Counter, much by wine inflamed;
'But we are friends--let smaller stake be named:
Wine for our future meeting, that will I
Take and no more--what peril shall we try?'
'Let's to Newmarket,' Clubb replied; 'or choose
Yourself the place, and what you like to lose:
And he who first returns, or fears to go,
Forfeits his cash.'--Said Counter, 'Be it so.'
The friends around them saw with much delight
The social war, and hail'd the pleasant night;
Nor would they further hear the cause discuss'd,
Afraid the recreant heart of Clubb to trust.
Now sober thoughts return'd as each withdrew,
And of the subject took a serious view:
''Twas wrong,' thought Counter, 'and will grieve my
''Twas wrong,' thought Clubb, 'my wife will not
But friends were present; I must try the thing,
Or with my folly half the town will ring.'
He sought his lady--'Madam, I'm to blame,
But was reproach'd, and could not bear the shame;
Here in my folly--for 'tis best to say
The very truth--I've sworn to have my way;
To that Newmarket--(though I hate the place,
And have no taste or talents for a race,
Yet so it is--well, now prepare to chide) -
I laid a wager that I dared to ride:
And I must go: by heaven, if you resist
I shall be scorn'd, and ridiculed, and hiss'd;
Let me with grace before my friends appear,
You know the truth, and must not be severe:
He too must go, but that he will of course:
Do you consent?--I never think of force.'
'You never need,' the worthy Dame replied;
'The husband's honour is the woman's pride:
If I in trifles be the wilful wife,
Still for your credit I would lose my life.
Go! and when fix'd the day of your return,
Stay longer yet, and let the blockheads learn
That though a wife may sometimes wish to rule,
She would not make th' indulgent man a fool;
I would at times advise--but idle they
Who think th' assenting husband must obey.'
The happy man, who thought his lady right
In other cases, was assured to-night;
Then for the day with proud delight prepared,
To show his doubting friends how much he dared.
Counter--who grieving sought his bed, his rest
Broken by pictures of his love distress'd -
With soft and winning speech the fair prepared:
'She all his councils, comforts, pleasures shared:
She was assured he loved her from his soul,
She never knew and need not fear control;
But so it happen'd--he was grieved at heart
It happen'd so, that they awhile must part
A little time--the distance was but short,
And business called him--he despised the sport;
But to Newmarket he engaged to ride
With his friend Clubb:' and there he stopp'd and
Awhile the tender creature look'd dismay'd,
Then floods of tears the call of grief obeyed: -
'She an objection! No!' she sobb'd, 'not one:
Her work was finish'd, and her race was run;
For die she must--indeed she would not live
A week alone, for all the world could give;
He too must die in that same wicked place;
It always happen'd--was a common case;
Among those horrid horses, jockeys, crowds,
'Twas certain death--they might bespeak their
He would attempt a race, be sure to fall -
And she expire with terror--that was all;
With love like hers she was indeed unfit
To bear such horrors, but she must submit.'
'But for three days, my love! three days at most,'
'Enough for me; I then shall be a ghost.'
'My honour's pledged!'--'Oh! yes, my dearest life,
I know your honour must outweigh your wife;
But ere this absence have you sought a friend?
I shall be dead--on whom can you depend?
Let me one favour of your kindness crave,
Grant me the stone I mention'd for my grave.'
'Nay, love, attend--why, bless my soul! I say
I will return--there, weep no longer, nay!'
'Well! I obey, and to the last am true,
But spirits fail me; I must die; adieu!'
'What, Madam! must?--'tis wrong--I'm angry--
Can I remain and lose a thousand pounds?'
'Go then, my love! it is a monstrous sum,
Worth twenty wives--go, love! and I am dumb;
Nor be displeased--had I the power to live,
You might be angry, now you must forgive:
Alas! I faint--ah! cruel--there's no need
Of wounds or fevers--this has done the deed.'
The lady fainted, and the husband sent
For every aid--for every comfort went;
Strong terror seized him: 'Oh! she loved so well,
And who th' effect of tenderness could tell?'
She now recover'd, and again began
With accent querulous--'Ah! cruel man!'
Till the sad husband, conscience-struck, confess'd,
'Twas very wicked with his friend to jest;
For now he saw that those who were obey'd,
Could like the most subservient feel afraid:
And though a wife might not dispute the will
Of her liege lord, she could prevent it still.
The morning came, and Clubb prepared to ride
With a smart boy, his servant, and his guide;
When, ere he mounted on his ready steed,
Arrived a letter, and he stopped to read.
'My friend,' he read, 'our journey I decline,
A heart too tender for such strife is mine;
Yours is the triumph, be you so inclined;
But you are too considerate and kind:
In tender pity to my Juliet's fears
I thus relent, o'ercome by love and tears;
She knows your kindness; I have heard her say,
A man like you 'tis pleasure to obey:
Each faithful wife, like ours, must disapprove
Such dangerous trifling with connubial love;
What has the idle world, my friend, to do
With our affairs? they envy me and you:
What if I could my gentle spouse command -
Is that a cause I should her tears withstand?
And what if you, a friend of peace, submit
To one you love--is that a theme for wit?
'Twas wrong, and I shall henceforth judge it weak
Both of submission and control to speak:
Be it agreed that all contention cease,
And no such follies vex our future peace;
Let each keep guard against domestic strife,
And find nor slave nor tyrant in his wife.'
'Agreed,' said Clubb, 'with all my soul agreed;'
And to the boy, delighted, gave his steed.
'I think my friend has well his mind express'd,
And I assent; such things are not a jest.'
'True,' said the Wife, 'no longer he can hide
The truth that pains him by his wounded pride:
Your friend has found it not an easy thing,
Beneath his yoke this yielding soul to bring:
These weeping willows, though they seem inclined
By every breeze, yet not the strongest wind
Can from their bent divert this weak but stubborn
Drooping they seek your pity to excite,
But 'tis at once their nature and delight;
Such women feel not; while they sigh and weep,
'Tis but their habit--their affections sleep;
They are like ice that in the hand we hold,
So very melting, yet so very cold;
On such affection let not man rely,
The husbands suffer, and the ladies sigh:
But your friend's offer let us kindly take,
And spare his pride for his vexation's sake;
For he has found, and through his life will find,
'Tis easiest dealing with the firmest mind -
More just when it resists, and, when it yields,
The Borough. Letter XIII: The Alms-House And Trustees
LEAVE now our streets, and in yon plain behold
Those pleasant Seats for the reduced and old;
A merchant's gift, whose wife and children died,
When he to saving all his powers applied;
He wore his coat till bare was every thread,
And with the meanest fare his body fed.
He had a female cousin, who with care
Walk'd in his steps, and learn'd of him to spare;
With emulation and success they strove,
Improving still, still seeking to improve,
As if that useful knowledge they would gain -
How little food would human life sustain:
No pauper came their table's crumbs to crave;
Scraping they lived, but not a scrap they gave:
When beggars saw the frugal Merchant pass,
It moved their pity, and they said, 'Alas!
Hard is thy fate my brother,' and they felt
A beggar's pride as they that pity dealt.
The dogs, who learn of man to scorn the poor,
Bark'd him away from every decent door;
While they who saw him bare, but thought him rich,
To show respect or scorn, they knew not which.
But while our Merchant seemed so base and mean,
He had his wanderings, sometimes 'not unseen;'
To give in secret was a favourite act,
Yet more than once they took him in the fact
To scenes of various woe he nightly went,
And serious sums in healing misery spent;
Oft has he cheer'd the wretched at a rate
For which he daily might have dined on plate;
He has been seen--his hair all silver-white,
Shaking and shining--as he stole by night,
To feed unenvied on his still delight.
A twofold taste he had; to give and spare,
Both were his duties, and had equal care;
It was his joy to sit alone and fast,
Then send a widow and her boys repast:
Tears in his eyes would spite of him appear,
But he from other eyes has kept the tear:
All in a wint'ry night from far he came,
To soothe the sorrows of a suffering dame;
Whose husband robb'd him, and to whom he meant
A ling'ring, but reforming punishment:
Home then he walked, and found his anger rise
When fire and rushlight met his troubled eyes;
But these extinguish'd, and his prayer address'd
To Heaven in hope, he calmly sank to rest.
His seventieth year was pass'd and then was seen
A building rising on the northern green;
There was no blinding all his neighbours' eyes,
Or surely no one would have seen it rise:
Twelve rooms contiguous stood, and six were near,
There men were placed, and sober matrons here:
There were behind small useful gardens made,
Benches before, and trees to give them shade;
In the first room were seen above, below,
Some marks of taste, a few attempts at show.
The founder's picture and his arms were there
(Not till he left us), and an elbow'd chair;
There, 'mid these signs of his superior place,
Sat the mild ruler of this humble race.
Within the row are men who strove in vain,
Through years of trouble, wealth and ease to gain;
Less must they have than an appointed sum,
And freemen been, or hither must not come;
They should be decent, and command respect,
(Though needing fortune), whom these doors protect,
And should for thirty dismal years have tried
For peace unfelt and competence denied.
Strange! that o'er men thus train'd in sorrow's
Power must be held, and they must live by rule;
Infirm, corrected by misfortunes, old,
Their habits settled and their passions cold;
Of health, wealth, power, and worldly cares bereft,
Still must they not at liberty be left;
There must be one to rule them, to restrain
And guide the movements of his erring train.
If then control imperious, check severe,
Be needed where such reverend men appear;
To what would youth, without such checks, aspire,
Free the wild wish, uncurb'd the strong desire?
And where (in college or in camp) they found
The heart ungovern'd and the hand unbound?
His house endow'd, the generous man resign'd
All power to rule, nay power of choice declined;
He and the female saint survived to view
Their work complete, and bade the world adieu!
Six are the Guardians of this happy seat,
And one presides when they on business meet;
As each expires, the five a brother choose;
Nor would Sir Denys Brand the charge refuse;
True, 'twas beneath him, 'but to do men good
Was motive never by his heart withstood:'
He too is gone, and they again must strive
To find a man in whom his gifts survive.
Now, in the various records of the dead,
Thy worth, Sir Denys, shall be weigh'd and read;
There we the glory of thy house shall trace,
With each alliance of thy noble race.
Yes! here we have him!--'Came in William's
The Norman Brand; the blood without a stain;
From the fierce Dane and ruder Saxon clear,
Pict, Irish, Scot, or Cambrian mountaineer:
But the pure Norman was the sacred spring,
And he, Sir Denys, was in heart a king:
Erect in person and so firm in soul,
Fortune he seem'd to govern and control:
Generous as he who gives his all away,
Prudent as one who toils for weekly pay;
In him all merits were decreed to meet,
Sincere though cautious, frank and yet discreet,
Just all his dealings, faithful every word,
His passions' master, and his temper's lord.'
Yet more, kind dealers in decaying fame?
His magnanimity you next proclaim;
You give him learning, join'd with sound good
And match his wealth with his benevolence;
What hides the multitude of sins, you add,
Yet seem to doubt if sins he ever had.
Poor honest Truth! thou writ'st of living men,
And art a railer and detractor then;
They die, again to be described, and now
A foe to merit and mankind art thou!
Why banish Truth? It injures not the dead,
It aids not them with flattery to be fed;
And when mankind such perfect pictures view,
They copy less, the more they think them true.
Let us a mortal as he was behold,
And see the dross adhering to the gold;
When we the errors of the virtuous state,
Then erring men their worth may emulate.
View then this picture of a noble mind,
Let him be wise, magnanimous, and kind;
What was the wisdom? Was it not the frown
That keeps all question, all inquiry down?
His words were powerful and decisive all,
But his slow reasons came for no man's call.
''Tis thus,' he cried, no doubt with kind intent,
To give results and spare all argument: -
'Let it be spared--all men at least agree
Sir Denys Brand had magnanimity:
His were no vulgar charities; none saw
Him like the Merchant to the hut withdraw;
He left to meaner minds the simple deed,
By which the houseless rest, the hungry feed
His was a public bounty vast and grand,
'Twas not in him to work with viewless hand;
He raised the Room that towers above the street,
A public room where grateful parties meet;
He first the Life-boat plann'd; to him the place
Is deep in debt--'twas he revived the Race;
To every public act this hearty friend
Would give with freedom or with frankness lend;
His money built the Jail, nor prisoner yet
Sits at his ease, but he must feel the debt;
To these let candour add his vast display;
Around his mansion all is grand and gay,
And this is bounty with the name of pay.'
I grant the whole, nor from one deed retract,
But wish recorded too the private act:
All these were great, but still our hearts approve
Those simpler tokens of the Christian love;
'Twould give me joy some gracious deed to meet
That has not call'd for glory through the street:
Who felt for many, could not always shun,
In some soft moment, to be kind to one;
And yet they tell us, when Sir Denys died,
That not a widow in the Borough sigh'd;
Great were his gifts, his mighty heart I own,
But why describe what all the world has known?
The rest is petty pride, the useless art
Of a vain mind to hide a swelling heart:
Small was his private room: men found him there
By a plain table, on a paltry chair;
A wretched floor-cloth, and some prints around,
The easy purchase of a single pound:
These humble trifles and that study small
Make a strong contrast with the servants' hall;
There barely comfort, here a proud excess,
The pompous seat of pamper'd idleness,
Where the sleek rogues with one consent declare,
They would not live upon his honour's fare;
He daily took but one half hour to dine,
On one poor dish and some three sips of wine;
Then he'd abuse them for their sumptuous feasts,
And say, 'My friends! you make yourselves like
One dish suffices any man to dine,
But you are greedy as a herd of swine;
Learn to be temperate.'--Had they dared t'obey,
He would have praised and turn'd them all away.
Friends met Sir Denys riding in his ground,
And there the meekness of his spirit found:
For that gray coat, not new for many a year,
Hides all that would like decent dress appear;
An old brown pony 'twas his will to ride,
Who shuffled onward, and from side to side;
A five-pound purchase, but so fat and sleek,
His very plenty made the creature weak.
'Sir Denys Brand! and on so poor a steed!'
'Poor! it may be--such things I never heed:'
And who that youth behind, of pleasant mien,
Equipped as one who wishes to be seen,
Upon a horse, twice victor for a plate,
A noble hunter, bought at dearest rate? -
Him the lad fearing yet resolved to guide,
He curbs his spirit while he strokes his pride.
'A handsome youth, Sir Denys; and a horse
Of finer figure never trod the course, -
Yours, without question?'--'Yes! I think a groom
Bought me the beast; I cannot say the sum
I ride him not; it is a foolish pride
Men have in cattle--but my people ride;
The boy is--hark ye, sirrah! what's your name?
Ay, Jacob, yes! I recollect--the same;
As I bethink me now, a tenant's son -
I think a tenant,--is your father one?'
There was an idle boy who ran about,
And found his master's humble spirit out;
He would at awful distance snatch a look,
Then run away and hide him in some nook;
'For oh!' quoth he, 'I dare not fix my sight
On him, his grandeur puts me in a fright;
Oh! Mister Jacob, when you wait on him,
Do you not quake and tremble every limb?'
The Steward soon had orders--'Summers, see
That Sam be clothed, and let him wait on me.'
Sir Denys died, bequeathing all affairs
In trust to Laughton's long-experienced cares;
Before a Guardian, and Sir Denys dead,
All rule and power devolved upon his head,
Numbers are call'd to govern, but in fact
Only the powerful and assuming act.
Laughton, too wise to be a dupe to fame,
Cared not a whit of what descent he came,
Till he was rich; he then conceived the thought
To fish for pedigree, but never caught:
All his desire, when he was young and poor,
Was to advance; he never cared for more:
'Let me buy, sell, be factor, take a wife,
Take any road, to get along in life.'
Was he a miser then? a robber? foe
To those who trusted? a deceiver?--No!
He was ambitious; all his powers of mind
Were to one end controll'd, improved, combined;
Wit, learning, judgment, were, by his account,
Steps for the ladder he design'd to mount;
Such step was money: wealth was but his slave,
For power he gain'd it, and for power he gave:
Full well the Borough knows that he'd the art
Of bringing money to the surest mart;
Friends too were aids,--they led to certain ends,
Increase of power and claim on other friends.
A favourite step was marriage: then he gain'd
Seat in our Hall, and o'er his party reign'd;
Houses and land he bought, and long'd to buy,
But never drew the springs of purchase dry,
And thus at last they answer'd every call,
The failing found him ready for their fall:
He walks along the street, the mart, the quay,
And looks and mutters, 'This belongs to me.'
His passions all partook the general bent;
Interest inform'd him when he should resent,
How long resist, and on what terms relent:
In points where he determined to succeed,
In vain might reason or compassion plead;
But gain'd his point, he was the best of men,
'Twas loss of time to be vexatious then:
Hence he was mild to all men whom he led,
Of all who dared resist, the scourge and dread.
Falsehood in him was not the useless lie
Of boasting pride or laughing vanity:
It was the gainful, the persuading art,
That made its way and won the doubting heart,
Which argued, soften'd, humbled, and prevail'd,
Nor was it tried till ev'ry truth had fail'd;
No sage on earth could more than he despise
Degrading, poor, unprofitable lies.
Though fond of gain, and grieved by wanton
To social parties he had no distaste;
With one presiding purpose in his view,
He sometimes could descend to trifle too!
Yet, in these moments, he had still the art
To ope the looks and close the guarded heart;
And, like the public host, has sometimes made
A grand repast, for which the guests have paid.
At length, with power endued and wealthy grown,
Frailties and passions, long suppress'd, were
Then to provoke him was a dangerous thing,
His pride would punish, and his temper sting;
His powerful hatred sought th' avenging hour,
And his proud vengeance struck with all his power,
Save when th' offender took a prudent way
The rising storm of fury to allay:
This might he do, and so in safety sleep,
By largely casting to the angry deep;
Or, better yet (its swelling force t'assuage),
By pouring oil of flattery on its rage.
And now, of all the heart approved, possess'd,
Fear'd, favour'd, follow'd, dreaded, and caress'd,
He gently yields to one mellifluous joy,
The only sweet that is not found to cloy,
Bland adulation!--other pleasures pall
On the sick taste, and transient are they all;
But this one sweet has such enchanting power,
The more we take, the faster we devour:
Nauseous to those who must the dose apply,
And most disgusting to the standers-by;
Yet in all companies will Laughton feed,
Nor care how grossly men perform the deed.
As gapes the nursling, or, what comes more near,
Some Friendly-Island chief, for hourly cheer;
When wives and slaves, attending round his seat,
Prepare by turns the masticated meat;
So for this master, husband, parent, friend,
His ready slaves their various efforts blend,
And, to their lord still eagerly inclined,
Pour the crude trash of a dependent mind.
But let the Muse assign the man his due,
Worth he possess'd, nor were his virtues few: -
He sometimes help'd the injured in their cause;
His power and purse have back'd the failing laws;
He for religion has a due respect,
And all his serious notions, are correct;
Although he pray'd and languish'd for a son,
He grew resign'd when Heaven denied him one;
He never to this quiet mansion sends
Subject unfit, in compliment to friends;
Not so Sir Denys, who would yet protest
He always chose the worthiest and the best:
Not men in trade by various loss brought down,
But those whose glory once amazed the town,
Who their last guinea in their pleasures spent,
Yet never fell so low as to repent:
To these his pity he could largely deal,
Wealth they had known, and therefore want could
Three seats were vacant while Sir Denys reign'd,
And three such favourites their admission gain'd;
These let us view, still more to understand
The moral feelings of Sir Denys Brand.
One Sabbath day my friend and I
After the meeting, quietly
Passed from the crowded village lanes,
White with dry dust for lack of rains,
And climbed the neighboring slope, with feet
Slackened and heavy from the heat,
Although the day was wellnigh done,
And the low angle of the sun
Along the naked hillside cast
Our shadows as of giants vast.
We reached, at length, the topmost swell,
Whence, either way, the green turf fell
In terraces of nature down
To fruit-hung orchards, and the town
With white, pretenceless houses, tall
Church-steeples, and, o'ershadowing all,
Huge mills whose windows had the look
Of eager eyes that ill could brook
The Sabbath rest. We traced the track
Of the sea-seeking river back,
Glistening for miles above its mouth,
Through the long valley to the south,
And, looking eastward, cool to view,
Stretched the illimitable blue
Of ocean, from its curved coast-line;
Sombred and still, the warm sunshine
Filled with pale gold-dust all the reach
Of slumberous woods from hill to beach,-
Slanted on walls of thronged retreats
From city toil and dusty streets,
On grassy bluff, and dune of sand,
And rocky islands miles from land;
Touched the far-glancing sails, and showed
White lines of foam where long waves flowed
Dumb in the distance. In the north,
Dim through their misty hair, looked forth
The space-dwarfed mountains to the sea,
From mystery to mystery!
So, sitting on that green hill-slope,
We talked of human life, its hope
And fear, and unsolved doubts, and what
It might have been, and yet was not.
And, when at last the evening air
Grew sweeter for the bells of prayer
Ringing in steeples far below,
We watched the people churchward go,
Each to his place, as if thereon
The true shekinah only shone;
And my friend queried how it came
To pass that they who owned the same
Great Master still could not agree
To worship Him in company.
Then, broadening in his thought, he ran
Over the whole vast field of man,-
The varying forms of faith and creed
That somehow served the holders' need;
In which, unquestioned, undenied,
Uncounted millions lived and died;
The bibles of the ancient folk,
Through which the heart of nations spoke;
The old moralities which lent
To home its sweetness and content,
And rendered possible to bear
The life of peoples everywhere
And asked if we, who boast of light,
Claim not a too exclusive right
To truths which must for all be meant,
Like rain and sunshine freely sent.
In bondage to the letter still,
We give it power to cramp and kill,-
To tax God's fulness with a scheme
Narrower than Peter's house-top dream,
His wisdom and his love with plans
Poor and inadequate as man's.
It must be that He witnesses
Somehow to all men that He is
That something of His saving grace
Reaches the lowest of the race,
Who, through strange creed and rite, may draw
The hints of a diviner law.
We walk in clearer light;-but then,
Is He not God?-are they not men?
Are His responsibilities
For us alone and not for these?
And I made answer: 'Truth is one;
And, in all lands beneath the sun,
Whoso hath eyes to see may see
The tokens of its unity.
No scroll of creed its fulness wraps,
We trace it not by school-boy maps,
Free as the sun and air it is
Of latitudes and boundaries.
In Vedic verse, in dull Koran,
Are messages of good to man;
The angels to our Aryan sires
Talked by the earliest household fires;
The prophets of the elder day,
The slant-eyed sages of Cathay,
Read not the riddle all amiss
Of higher life evolved from this.
'Nor doth it lessen what He taught,
Or make the gospel Jesus brought
Less precious, that His lips retold
Some portion of that truth of old;
Denying not the proven seers,
The tested wisdom of the years;
Confirming with his own impress
The common law of righteousness.
We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
From all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read,
And all our treasure of old thought
In His harmonious fulness wrought
Who gathers in one sheaf complete
The scattered blades of God's sown wheat,
The common growth that maketh good
His all-embracing Fatherhood.
'Wherever through the ages rise
The altars of self-sacrifice,
Where love its arms has opened wide,
Or man for man has calmly died,
I see the same white wings outspread
That hovered o'er the Master's head!
Up from undated time they come,
The martyr souls of heathendom,
And to His cross and passion bring
Their fellowship of suffering.
I trace His presence in the blind
Pathetic gropings of my kind,-
In prayers from sin and sorrow wrung,
In cradle-hymns of life they sung,
Each, in its measure, but a part
Of the unmeasured Over-Heart;
And with a stronger faith confess
The greater that it owns the less.
Good cause it is for thankfulness
That the world-blessing of His life
With the long past is not at strife;
That the great marvel of His death
To the one order witnesseth,
No doubt of changeless goodness wakes,
No link of cause and sequence breaks,
But, one with nature, rooted is
In the eternal verities;
Whereby, while differing in degree
As finite from infinity,
The pain and loss for others borne,
Love's crown of suffering meekly worn,
The life man giveth for his friend
Become vicarious in the end;
Their healing place in nature take,
And make life sweeter for their sake.
'So welcome I from every source
The tokens of that primal Force,
Older than heaven itself, yet new
As the young heart it reaches to,
Beneath whose steady impulse rolls
The tidal wave of human souls;
Guide, comforter, and inward word,
The eternal spirit of the Lord
Nor fear I aught that science brings
From searching through material things;
Content to let its glasses prove,
Not by the letter's oldness move,
The myriad worlds on worlds that course
The spaces of the universe;
Since everywhere the Spirit walks
The garden of the heart, and talks
With man, as under Eden's trees,
In all his varied languages.
Why mourn above some hopeless flaw
In the stone tables of the law,
When scripture every day afresh
Is traced on tablets of the flesh?
By inward sense, by outward signs,
God's presence still the heart divines;
Through deepest joy of Him we learn,
In sorest grief to Him we turn,
And reason stoops its pride to share
The child-like instinct of a prayer.'
And then, as is my wont, I told
A story of the days of old,
Not found in printed books,-in sooth,
A fancy, with slight hint of truth,
Showing how differing faiths agree
In one sweet law of charity.
Meanwhile the sky had golden grown,
Our faces in its glory shone;
But shadows down the valley swept,
And gray below the ocean slept,
As time and space I wandered o'er
To tread the Mogul's marble floor,
And see a fairer sunset fall
On Jumna's wave and Agra's wall.
The good Shah Akbar (peace be his alway!)
Came forth from the Divan at close of day
Bowed with the burden of his many cares,
Worn with the hearing of unnumbered prayers,-
Wild cries for justice, the importunate
Appeals of greed and jealousy and hate,
And all the strife of sect and creed and rite,
Santon and Gouroo waging holy fight
For the wise monarch, claiming not to be
Allah's avenger, left his people free,
With a faint hope, his Book scarce justified,
That all the paths of faith, though severed wide,
O'er which the feet of prayerful reverence passed,
Met at the gate of Paradise at last.
He sought an alcove of his cool hareem,
Where, far beneath, he heard the Jumna's stream
Lapse soft and low along his palace wall,
And all about the cool sound of the fall
Of fountains, and of water circling free
Through marble ducts along the balcony;
The voice of women in the distance sweet,
And, sweeter still, of one who, at his feet,
Soothed his tired ear with songs of a far land
Where Tagus shatters on the salt sea-sand
The mirror of its cork-grown hills of drouth
And vales of vine, at Lisbon's harbor-mouth.
The date-palms rustled not; the peepul laid
Its topmost boughs against the balustrade,
Motionless as the mimic leaves and vines
That, light and graceful as the shawl-designs
Of Delhi or Umritsir, twined in stone;
And the tired monarch, who aside had thrown
The day's hard burden, sat from care apart,
And let the quiet steal into his heart
From the still hour. Below him Agra slept,
By the long light of sunset overswept
The river flowing through a level land,
By mango-groves and banks of yellow sand,
Skirted with lime and orange, gay kiosks,
Fountains at play, tall minarets of mosques,
Fair pleasure-gardens, with their flowering trees
Relieved against the mournful cypresses;
And, air-poised lightly as the blown sea-foam,
The marble wonder of some holy dome
Hung a white moonrise over the still wood,
Glassing its beauty in a stiller flood.
Silent the monarch gazed, until the night
Swift-falling hid the city from his sight;
Then to the woman at his feet he said
'Tell me, O Miriam, something thou hast read
In childhood of the Master of thy faith,
Whom Islam also owns. Our Prophet saith
'He was a true apostle, yea, a Word
And Spirit sent before me from the Lord.'
Thus the Book witnesseth; and well I know
By what thou art, O dearest, it is so.
As the lute's tone the maker's hand betrays,
The sweet disciple speaks her Master's praise.'
Then Miriam, glad of heart, (for in some sort
She cherished in the Moslem's liberal court
The sweet traditions of a Christian child;
And, through her life of sense, the undefiled
And chaste ideal of the sinless One
Gazed on her with an eye she might not shun,-
The sad, reproachful look of pity, born
Of love that hath no part in wrath or scorn,)
Began, with low voice and moist eyes, to tell
Of the all-loving Christ, and what befell
When the fierce zealots, thirsting for her blood,
Dragged to his feet a shame of womanhood.
How, when his searching answer pierced within
Each heart, and touched the secret of its sin,
And her accusers fled his face before,
He bade the poor one go and sin no more.
And Akbar said, after a moment's thought,
'Wise is the lesson by thy prophet taught;
Woe unto him who judges and forgets
What hidden evil his own heart besets!
Something of this large charity I find
In all the sects that sever human kind;
I would to Allah that their lives agreed
More nearly with the lesson of their creed!
Those yellow Lamas who at Meerut pray
By wind and water power, and love to say
'He who forgiveth not shall, unforgiven,
Fail of the rest of Buddha,' and who even
Spare the black gnat that stings them, vex my ears
With the poor hates and jealousies and fears
Nursed in their human hives. That lean, fierce priest
Of thy own people, (be his heart increased
By Allah's love!) his black robes smelling yet
Of Goa's roasted Jews, have I not met
Meek-faced, barefooted, crying in the street
The saying of his prophet true and sweet,-
'He who is merciful shall mercy meet!''
But, next day, so it chanced, as night began
To fall, a murmur through the hareem ran
That one, recalling in her dusky face
The full-lipped, mild-eyed beauty of a race
Known as the blameless Ethiops of Greek song,
Plotting to do her royal master wrong,
Watching, reproachful of the lingering light,
The evening shadows deepen for her flight,
Love-guided, to her home in a far land,
Now waited death at the great Shah's command.
Shapely as that dark princess for whose smile
A world was bartered, daughter of the Nile
Herself, and veiling in her large, soft eyes
The passion and the languor of her skies,
The Abyssinian knelt low at the feet
Of her stern lord: 'O king, if it be meet,
And for thy honor's sake,' she said, 'that I,
Who am the humblest of thy slaves, should die,
I will not tax thy mercy to forgive.
Easier it is to die than to outlive
All that life gave me,-him whose wrong of thee
Was but the outcome of his love for me,
Cherished from childhood, when, beneath the shade
Of templed Axum, side by side we played.
Stolen from his arms, my lover followed me
Through weary seasons over land and sea;
And two days since, sitting disconsolate
Within the shadow of the hareem gate,
Suddenly, as if dropping from the sky,
Down from the lattice of the balcony
Fell the sweet song by Tigre's cowherds sung
In the old music of his native tongue.
He knew my voice, for love is quick of ear,
Answering in song.
This night he waited near
To fly with me. The fault was mine alone
He knew thee not, he did but seek his own;
Who, in the very shadow of thy throne,
Sharing thy bounty, knowing all thou art,
Greatest and best of men, and in her heart
Grateful to tears for favor undeserved,
Turned ever homeward, nor one moment swerved
From her young love. He looked into my eyes,
He heard my voice, and could not otherwise
Than he hath done; yet, save one wild embrace
When first we stood together face to face,
And all that fate had done since last we met
Seemed but a dream that left us children yet,
He hath not wronged thee nor thy royal bed;
Spare him, O king! and slay me in his stead!'
But over Akbar's brows the frown hung black,
And, turning to the eunuch at his back,
'Take them,' he said, 'and let the Jumna's waves
Hide both my shame and these accursed slaves!'
His loathly length the unsexed bondman bowed
'On my head be it!'
Straightway from a cloud
Of dainty shawls and veils of woven mist
The Christian Miriam rose, and, stooping, kissed
The monarch's hand. Loose down her shoulders bare
Swept all the rippled darkness of her hair,
Veiling the bosom that, with high, quick swell
Of fear and pity, through it rose and fell.
'Alas!' she cried, 'hast thou forgotten quite
The words of Him we spake of yesternight?
Or thy own prophet's, 'Whoso doth endure
And pardon, of eternal life is sure'?
O great and good! be thy revenge alone
Felt in thy mercy to the erring shown;
Let thwarted love and youth their pardon plead,
Who sinned but in intent, and not in deed!'
One moment the strong frame of Akbar shook
With the great storm of passion. Then his look
Softened to her uplifted face, that still
Pleaded more strongly than all words, until
Its pride and anger seemed like overblown,
Spent clouds of thunder left to tell alone
Of strife and overcoming. With bowed head,
And smiting on his bosom: 'God,' he said,
'Alone is great, and let His holy name
Be honored, even to His servant's shame!
Well spake thy prophet, Miriam,-he alone
Who hath not sinned is meet to cast a stone
At such as these, who here their doom await,
Held like myself in the strong grasp of fate.
They sinned through love, as I through love forgive;
Take them beyond my realm, but let them live!'
And, like a chorus to the words of grace,
The ancient Fakir, sitting in his place,
Motionless as an idol and as grim,
In the pavilion Akbar built for him
Under the court-yard trees, (for he was wise,
Knew Menu's laws, and through his close-shut eyes
Saw things far off, and as an open book
Into the thoughts of other men could look,)
Began, half chant, half howling, to rehearse
The fragment of a holy Vedic verse;
And thus it ran: 'He who all things forgives
Conquers himself and all things else, and lives
Above the reach of wrong or hate or fear,
Calm as the gods, to whom he is most dear.'
Two leagues from Agra still the traveller sees
The tomb of Akbar through its cypress-trees;
And, near at hand, the marble walls that hide
The Christian Begum sleeping at his side.
And o'er her vault of burial (who shall tell
If it be chance alone or miracle?)
The Mission press with tireless hand unrolls
The words of Jesus on its lettered scrolls,-
Tells, in all tongues, the tale of mercy o'er,
And bids the guilty, 'Go and sin no more!'
It now was dew-fall; very still
The night lay on the lonely hill,
Down which our homeward steps we bent,
And, silent, through great silence went,
Save that the tireless crickets played
Their long, monotonous serenade.
A young moon, at its narrowest,
Curved sharp against the darkening west;
And, momently, the beacon's star,
Slow wheeling o'er its rock afar,
From out the level darkness shot
One instant and again was not.
And then my friend spake quietly
The thought of both: 'Yon crescent see!
Like Islam's symbol-moon it gives
Hints of the light whereby it lives
Somewhat of goodness, something true
From sun and spirit shining through
All faiths, all worlds, as through the dark
Of ocean shines the lighthouse spark,
Attests the presence everywhere
Of love and providential care.
The faith the old Norse heart confessed
In one dear name,-the hopefulest
And tenderest heard from mortal lips
In pangs of birth or death, from ships
Ice-bitten in the winter sea,
Or lisped beside a mother's knee,-
The wiser world hath not outgrown,
And the All-Father is our own!'
Hermann And Dorothea - VI. Klio
WHEN the pastor ask'd the foreign magistrate questions,
What the people had suffer'd, how long from their homes they had wander'd,
Then the man replied:--'By no means short are our sorrows,
For we have drunk the bitters of many a long year together,
All the more dreadful, because our fairest hopes have been blighted.
Who can deny that his heart beat wildly and high in his bosom
And that with purer pulses his breast more freely was throbbing,
When the newborn sun first rose in the whole of its glory,
When we heard of the right of man, to have all things in common,
Heard of noble Equality, and of inspiriting Freedom!
Each man then hoped to attain new life for himself, and the fetters
Which had encircled many a land appear'd to be broken,
Fetters held by the hands of sloth and selfish indulgence.
Did not all nations turn their gaze, in those days of emotion,
Tow'rds the world's capital, which so many a long year had been so,
And then more than ever deserved a name so distinguish'd?
Were not the men, who first proclaim'd so noble a message,
Names that are worthy to rank with the highest the sun ever shone on,
Did not each give to mankind his courage and genius and language?
'And we also, as neighbours, at first were warmly excited.
Presently after began the war, and the train of arm'd Frenchmen
Nearer approach'd; at first they appear'd to bring with them friendship,
And they brought it in fact; for all their souls were exalted.
And the gay trees of liberty ev'rywhere gladly they planted,
Promising unto each his own, and the government long'd for.
Greatly at this was youth, and greatly old age was delighted,
And the joyous dance began round the newly-raised standards.
In this manner the overpowering Frenchmen soon conquer'd
First the minds of the men, with their fiery lively proceedings,
Then the hearts of the women, with irresistible graces.
Even the strain of the war, with its many demands, seem'd but trifling,
For before our eyes the distance by hope was illumined,
Luring our gaze far ahead into paths now first open'd before us.
'O how joyful the time, when with his bride the glad bridegroom
Whirls in the dance, awaiting the day that will join them for ever
But more glorious far was the time when the Highest of all things
Which man's mind can conceive, close by and attainable seemed.
Then were the tongues of all loosen'd, and words of wisdom and feeling
Not by greybeards alone, but by men and by striplings were utter'd.
'But the heavens soon clouded became. For the sake of the mast'ry
Strove a contemptible crew, unfit to accomplish good actions.
Then they murder'd each other, and took to oppressing their new-found
Neighbours and brothers, and sent on missions whole herds of selfÄseekers
And the superiors took to carousing and robbing by wholesale,
And the inferiors down to the lowest caroused and robb'd also.
Nobody thought of aught else than having enough for tomorrow.
Terrible was the distress, and daily increased the oppression.
None the cry understood, that they of the day were the masters.
Then even temperate minds were attack'd by sorrow and fury;
Each one reflected, and swore to avenge all the injuries suffer'd,
And to atone for the hitter loss of hopes twice defrauded.
Presently Fortune declared herself on the side of the Germans,
And the French were compell'd to retreat by forced marches before them.
Ah! the sad fate of the war we then for the first time experienced.
For the victor is kind and humane, at least he appears so,
And he spares the man he has vanquish'd, as if he his own were,
When he employs him daily, and with his property helps him.
But the fugitive knows no law; he wards off death only,
And both quickly and recklessly all that he meets with, consumes he.
Then his mind becomes heated apace; and soon desperation
Fills his heart, and impels him to all kinds of criminal actions.
Nothing then holds he respected, he steals It. With furious longing
On the woman he rushes; his lust becomes awful to think of.
Death all around him he sees, his last minutes in cruelty spends he,
Wildly exulting in blood, and exulting in howls and in anguish.
'Then in the minds of our men arose a terrible yearning
That which was lost to avenge, and that which remain'd to defend still.
All of them seized upon arms, lured on by the fugitives' hurry,
By their pale faces, and by their shy, uncertain demeanour.
There was heard the sound of alarm-bells unceasingly ringing,
And the approach of danger restrain'd not their violent fury.
Soon into weapons were turn'd the implements peaceful of tillage,
And with dripping blood the scythe and the pitchfork were cover'd.
Every foeman without distinction was ruthlessly slaughter'd,
Fury was ev'rywhere raging, and artful, cowardly weakness.
May I never again see men in such wretched confusion!
Even the raging wild beast is a better object to gaze on.
Ne'er let them speak of freedom, as if themselves they could govern!
All the evil which Law has driven farback in the corner
Seems to escape, as soon as the fetters which bound it are loosen'd.'
'Excellent man,' replied the pastor, with emphasis speaking
'If you're mistaken in man, 'tis not for me to reprove you.
Evil enough have you suffer'd indeed from his cruel proceedings!
Would you but look back, however, on days so laden with sorrow,
You would yourself confess how much that is good you have witness'd,
Much that is excellent, which remains conceald in the bossom
Till by danger 'tis stirr'd, and till necessity makes man
Show himself as an angel, a tutelar God unto others.'
Then with a smile replied the worthy old magistrate, saying
'Your reminder is wise, like that which they give to the suff'rer
Who has had his dwelling burnt down, that under the ruins,
Gold and silver are lying, though melted and cover'd with ashes.
Little, indeed, it may be, and yet that little is precious,
And the poor man digs it up, and rejoices at finding the treasure.
Gladly, therefore, I turn my thoughts to those few worthy actions
Which my memory still is able to dwell on with pleasure.
Yes, I will not deny it, I saw late foemen uniting
So as to save the town from harm; I saw with devotion
Parents, children and friends impossible actions attempting,
Saw how the youth of a sudden became a man, how the greybeard
Once more was young, how the child as a stripling appear'd in a moment.
Aye, and the weaker sex, as people commonly call it,
Show'd itself brave and daring, with presence of mind all-unwonted.
Let me now, in the first place, describe a deed of rare merit
By a high-spirited girl accomplish'd, an excellent maiden,
Who in the great farmhouse remain'd behind with the servants,
When the whole of the men had departed, to fight with the strangers.
Well, there fell on the court a troop of vagabond scoundrels,
Plund'ring and forcing their way inside the rooms of the women.
Soon they cast their eyes on the forms of the grown-up fair maiden
And of the other dear girls, in age little more than mere children.
Hurried away by raging desire, unfeelingly rush'd they
On the trembling band, and on the high-spirited maiden.
But she instantly seized the sword from the side of a ruffian,
Hew'd him down to the ground; at her feet straight fell he, all bleeding,
Then with doughty strokes the maidens she bravely deliver'd.
Wounded four more of the robbers; with life, however, escaped they.
Then she lock'd up the court, and, arm'd still, waited for succour.
When the pastor heard the praise of the maiden thus utter'd
Feelings of hope for his friend forthwith arose in his bosom,
And he prepared to ask what had been the fate of the damsel,
Whether she, in the sorrowful flight, form'd one of the people?
At this moment, however, the druggist nimbly approach'd them,
Pull'd the sleeve of the pastor, and whisper'd to him as follows
'I have at last pick'd out the maiden from many a hundred
By her description! Pray come and judge for yourself with your own eyes;
Bring the magistrate with you, that we may learn the whole story.'
So they turn'd themselves round; but the magistrate found himself summon'd
By his own followers, who had need of his presence and counsel.
But the pastor forthwith the druggist accompanied, till they
Came to a gap in the hedge, when the latter pointed with slyness,
'See you,' exclaim'd he, 'the maiden? The child's clothes she has been changing.
And I recognise well the old calico--also the cushion--
Cover of blue, which Hermann took in the bundle and gave her.
Quickly and well, of a truth, she has used the presents left with her.
These are evident proofs; and all the rest coincide too;
For a bodice red her well-arch'd bosom upraises,
Prettily tied, while black are the stays fitting close around her.
Then the seams of the ruff she has carefully plaited and folded,
Which, with modest grace, her chin so round is encircling;
Free and joyously rises her head, with its elegant oval,
Strongly round bodkins of silver her back-hair is many times twisted.
When she is sitting, we plainly see her noble proportions,
And the blue well-plaited gown which begins from close to her bosom,
And in rich folds descending, her well-turn'd ankles envelops.
'Tis she, beyond all doubt. So come, that we may examine
Whether she be both a good and a frugal and virtuous maiden.'
Then the pastor rejoin'd, the sitting damsel inspecting
'That she enchanted the youth, I confess is no matter of wonder,
For she stands the test of the gaze of a man of experience.
Happy the person to whom Mother Nature the right face has given!
She recommends him at all times, he never appears as a stranger,
Each one gladly approaches, and each one beside him would linger,
If with his face is combined a pleasant and courteous demeanour.
Yes, I assure you the youth has indeed discover'd a maiden
Who the whole of the days of his life will enliven with gladness,
And with her womanly strength assist him at all times and truly.
Thus a perfect body preserves the soul also in pureness,
And a vigorous youth of a happy old age gives assurance.
After reflecting a little, the druggist made answer as follows:--
'Yet appearances oft are deceitful. I trust not the outside.
Often, indeed, have I found the truth of the proverb which tells us
Ere you share a bushel of salt with a new-found acquaintance,
Do not trust him too readily; time will make you more certain
How you and he will get on, and whether your friendship is lasting.
Let us then, in the first place, inquire amongst the good people
Unto whom the maiden is known, who can tell us about her.'
'Well, of a truth I commend your prudence,' the pastor continued
'Not for ourselves are we wooing! To woo for others is serious.'
So they started to meet the worthy magistrate seeing
How in the course of his business he was ascending the main street.
And the wise pastor straightway address'd him with foresight as follows
'We, by-the-bye, have just seen a girl in the neighbouring garden
Under an apple-tree sitting, and clothes for the children preparing,
Made of worn calico, which for the purpose was doubtless presented.
We were pleased by her face; she appears to be one of the right sort.
Tell us, what know you about her? We ask from a laudable motive.'
When the magistrate came to the garden and peep'd in, exclaimed he
'Well do I know her, in truth; for when I told you the story
Of that noble deed which was done by the maiden I spoke of,
How she seized on the sword, and defended herself, and the servants,
She the heroine was! You can see how active her nature.
But she's as good as she's strong; for her aged kinsman she tended
Until the time of his death, for he died overwhelm'd by affliction
At the distress of his town, and the danger his goods were exposed to.
Also with mute resignation she bore the grievous affliction
Of her betroth'd's sad death, a noble young man who, incited
By the first fire of noble thoughts to struggle for freedom,
Went himself to Paris, and soon found a terrible death there.
For, as at home, so there, he fought 'gainst intrigue and oppression.'
Thus the magistrate spoke. The others departed and thanked him,
And the pastor produced a gold piece (the silver his purse held
He some hours before had with genuine kindness expended
When he saw the fugitives passing in sorrowful masses).
And to the magistrate handed it, saying:--' Divide it, I pray you,
'Mongst those who need it the most. May God give it prosperous increase.'
But the man refused to accept it, and said:--'I assure you,
Many a dollar we've saved, and plenty of clothing and such things,
And I trust we may reach our homes before they are finish'd.'
Then continued the pastor, the gold in his hand once more placing
'None should delay to give in days like the present, and no one
Ought to refuse to receive what is offer'd with liberal kindness.
No one can tell how long he will keep what in peace he possesses,
No one, how long he is doom'd in foreign countries to wander,
While he's deprived of the field and the garden by which he is nurtured.'
'Bravo!' added in turn the druggist, with eagerness speaking
'Had I but money to spare in my pocket, you surely should have it,
Silver and gold alike; for your followers certainly need it.
Yet I'll not leave you without a present, if only to show you
My good will, and I hope you will take the will for the action.'
Thus he spoke, and pull'd out by the strings the leather embroider'd
Pouch, in which he was wont his stock of tobacco to carry,
Daintily open'd and shared its contents--some two or three pipes' full.
'Small in truth is the gift,' he added. The magistrate answered:
'Good tobacco is always a welcome present to trav'llers.'
Then the druggist began his canister to praise very highly.
But the pastor drew him away, and the magistrate left them.
'Come, let us hasten!' exclaimed the sensible man, 'for our young friend
Anxiously waits; without further delay let him hear the good tidings.'
So they hasten'd and came, and found that the youngster was leaning
'Gainst his carriage under the lime-trees. The horses were pawing
Wildly the turf; he held them in check and stood there all pensive,
Silently gazing in front, and saw not his friends coming near him,
Till, as they came, they called him and gave him signals of triumph.
Some way off the druggist already began to address him,
But they approach'd the youth still nearer, and then the good pastor
Seized his hand and spoke and took the word from his comrade
'Friend, I wish you joy! Your eye so true and your true heart
Rightly have chosen! May you and the wife of your young days be happy!
She is full worthy of you; so come and turn around the carriage,
That we may reach without delay the end of the village,
So as to woo her, and shortly escort the dear creature home with us.'
But the youth stood still, and without any token of pleasure
Heard the words of the envoy, though sounding consoling and heav'nly,
Deeply sigh'd and said:--'We came full speed in the carriage
And shall probably go back home ashamed and but slowly;
For, since I have been waiting care has fallen upon me,
Doubt and suspicion and all that a heart full of love is exposed to.
Do you suppose we have only to come, for the maiden to follow,
Just because we are rich, and she poor and wandering in exile?
Poverty, when undeserved, itself makes proud. The fair maiden
Seems to be active and frugal; the world she may claim as her portion.
Do you suppose that a woman of such great beauty and manners
Can have grown up without exciting love in man's bosom?
Do you suppose that her heart until now has to love been fast closed?
Do not drive thither in haste, for perchance to our shame and confusion
We shall have slowly to turn towards home the heads of our horses.
Yes, some youth, I fear me, possesses her heart, and already
She has doubtless promised her hand and her solemn troth plighted,
And I shall stand all ashamed before her, When making my offer.'
Then the pastor proceeded to cheer him with words of good comfort,
But his companion broke in, in his usual talkative manner
'As things used to be, this embarrassment would not have happened,
When each matter was brought to a close in an orthodox fashion.
Then for their son themselves the bride the parents selected,
And a friend of the house was secretly call'd in the first place.
He was then quietly sent as a suitor to visit the parents
Of the selected bride; and, dress'd in his gayest apparel,
Went after dinner some Sunday to visit the excellent burgher,
And began by exchanging polite remarks on all subjects,
Cleverly turning and bending the talk in the proper direction.
After long beating about the bush, he flatter'd the daughter,
And spoke well of the man and the house that gave his commission.
Sensible people soon saw his drift, and the sensible envoy
Watch'd how the notion was taken, and then could explain himself farther.
If they declined the proposal, why then the refusal cost nothing,
But if all prosper'd, why then the suitor for ever thereafter
Play'd the first fiddle at every family feast and rejoicing.
For the married couple remember'd the whole of their lifetime
Whose was the skilful hand by which the marriage knot tied was.
All this now is chang'd, and with many an excellent custom
Has gone quite out of fashion. Each person woos for himself now.
Everyone now must bear the weight of a maiden's refusal
On his own shoulders, and stand all ashamed before her, if needs be.'
'Let that be as it may,' then answered the young man who scarcely
Heard what was said, and his mind had made up already in silence
'I will go myself, and out of the mouth of the maiden
Learn my own fate, for towards her I cherish the most trustful feelings
That any man ever cherish'd towards any woman whatever.
That which she says will be good and sensible,--this I am sure of.
If I am never to see her again, I must once more behold her,
And the ingenuous gaze of her black eyes must meet for the last time.
If to my heart I may clasp her never, her bosom and shoulders
I would once more see, which my arm so longs to encircle:
Once more the mouth I would see, from which one kiss and a Yes will
Make me happy for ever, a No for ever undo me.
But now leave me alone! Wait here no longer. Return you
Straight to my father and mother, in order to tell them in person
That their son was right, and that the maiden is worthy.
And so leave me alone! I myself shall return by the footpath
Over the hill by the pear-tree and then descend through the vineyard,
Which is the shortest way back. Oh may I soon with rejoicing
Take the beloved one home! But perchance all alone I must slink back
By that path to our house and tread it no more with a light heart.'
Thus he spoke, and then placed the reins in the hands of the pastor,
Who, in a knowing way both the foaming horses restraining,
Nimbly mounted the carriage, and took the seat of the driver.
But you still delay'd, good cautious neighbour, and spoke thus
Friend, I will gladly entrust to you soul, and spirit, and mind too,
But my body and bones are not preserved in the best way
When the hand of a parson such worldly matters as reins grasps!'
But you smiled in return, you sensible pastor, replying
'Pray jump in, nor fear with both body and spirit to trust me,
For this hand to hold the reins has long been accustom'd,
And these eyes are train'd to turn the corner with prudence.
For we were wont to drive the carriage, when living at Strasburg,
At the time when with the young baron I went there, for daily,
Driven by me, through the echoing gateway thunder'd the carriage
By the dusty roads to distant meadows and lindens,
Through the crowds of the people who spend their lifetime in walking.'
Partially comforted, then his neighbour mounted the carriage,
Sitting like one prepared to make a wise jump, if needs be,
And the stallions, eager to reach their stables, coursed homewards,
While beneath their powerful hoofs the dust rose in thick clouds.
Long there stood the youth, and saw the dust rise before him,
Saw the dust disperse; but still he stood there, unthinking.
THE GENTLEMAN FARMER.
Gwyn was a farmer, whom the farmers all,
Who dwelt around, 'the Gentleman' would call;
Whether in pure humility or pride,
They only knew, and they would not decide.
Far different he from that dull plodding tribe
Whom it was his amusement to describe;
Creatures no more enliven'd than a clod,
But treading still as their dull fathers trod;
Who lived in times when not a man had seen
Corn sown by drill, or thresh'd by a machine!
He was of those whose skill assigns the prize
For creatures fed in pens, and stalls, and sties;
And who, in places where improvers meet,
To fill the land with fatness, had a seat;
Who in large mansions live like petty kings,
And speak of farms but as amusing things;
Who plans encourage, and who journals keep,
And talk with lords about a breed of sheep.
Two are the species in this genus known;
One, who is rich in his profession grown,
Who yearly finds his ample stores increase,
From fortune's favours and a favouring lease;
Who rides his hunter, who his house adorns;
Who drinks his wine, and his disbursements scorns;
Who freely lives, and loves to show he can, -
This is the Farmer made the Gentleman.
The second species from the world is sent,
Tired with its strife, or with his wealth content;
In books and men beyond the former read
To farming solely by a passion led,
Or by a fashion; curious in his land;
Now planning much, now changing what he plann'd;
Pleased by each trial, not by failures vex'd,
And ever certain to succeed the next;
Quick to resolve, and easy to persuade, -
This is the Gentleman, a farmer made.
Gwyn was of these; he from the world withdrew
Early in life, his reasons known to few;
Some disappointments said, some pure good sense,
The love of land, the press of indolence;
His fortune known, and coming to retire,
If not a Farmer, men had call'd him 'Squire.
Forty and five his years, no child or wife
Cross'd the still tenour of his chosen life;
Much land he purchased, planted far around,
And let some portions of superfluous ground
To farmers near him, not displeased to say
'My tenants,' nor 'our worthy landlord,' they.
Fix'd in his farm, he soon display'd his skill
In small-boned lambs, the horse-hoe, and the drill;
From these he rose to themes of nobler kind,
And show'd the riches of a fertile mind;
To all around their visits he repaid
And thus his mansion and himself display'd.
His rooms were stately, rather fine than neat,
And guests politely call'd his house a Seat;
At much expense was each apartment graced,
His taste was gorgeous, but it still was taste;
In full festoons the crimson curtains fell,
The sofas rose in bold elastic swell;
Mirrors in gilded frames display'd the tints
Of glowing carpets and of colour'd prints:
The weary eye saw every object shine,
And all was costly, fanciful, and fine.
As with his friends he pass'd the social hours,
His generous spirit scorn'd to hide its powers;
Powers unexpected, for his eye and air
Gave no sure signs that eloquence was there;
Oft he began with sudden fire and force,
As loth to lose occasion for discourse;
Some, 'tis observed, who feel a wish to speak,
Will a due place for introduction seek;
On to their purpose step by step they steal,
And all their way, by certain signals, feel;
Others plunge in at once, and never heed
Whose turn they take, whose purpose they impede;
Resolved to shine, they hasten to begin,
Of ending thoughtless--and of these was Gwyn.
And thus he spake: -
'It grieves me to the soul,
To see how man submits to man's control;
How overpower'd and shackled minds are led
In vulgar tracks, and to submission bred;
The coward never on himself relies,
But to an equal for assistance flies;
Man yields to custom, as he bows to fate,
In all things ruled--mind, body, and estate;
In pain, in sickness, we for cure apply
To them we know not, and we know not why;
But that the creature has some jargon read,
And got some Scotchman's system in his head;
Some grave impostor, who will health ensure,
Long as your patience or your wealth endure,
But mark them well, the pale and sickly crew,
They have not health, and can they give it you?
These solemn cheats their various methods choose,
A system fires them, as a bard his muse:
Hence wordy wars arise; the learn'd divide,
And groaning patients curse each erring guide.
'Next, our affairs are govern'd, buy or sell,
Upon the deed the law must fix its spell;
Whether we hire or let, we must have still
The dubious aid of an attorney's skill;
They take a part in every man's affairs,
And in all business some concern is theirs;
Because mankind in ways prescribed are found
Like flocks that follow on a beaten ground.
Each abject nature in the way proceeds,
That now to shearing, now to slaughter leads.
Should you offend, though meaning no offence,
You have no safety in your innocence;
The statute broken then is placed in view,
And men must pay for crimes they never knew;
Who would by law regain his plunder'd store,
Would pick up fallen merc'ry from the floor;
If he pursue it, here and there it slides,
He would collect it, but it more divides;
This part and this he stops, but still in vain,
It slips aside, and breaks in parts again;
Till, after time and pains, and care and cost,
He finds his labour and his object lost.
But most it grieves me (friends alone are round),
To see a man in priestly fetters bound;
Guides to the soul, these friends of Heaven
Long as man lives, to keep his fears alive:
Soon as an infant breathes, their rites begin;
Who knows not sinning, must be freed from sin;
Who needs no bond, must yet engage in vows;
Who has no judgment, must a creed espouse:
Advanced in life, our boys are bound by rules,
Are catechised in churches, cloisters, schools,
And train'd in thraldom to be fit for tools:
The youth grown up, he now a partner needs,
And lo! a priest, as soon as he succeeds.
What man of sense can marriage-rites approve?
What man of spirit can be bound to love?
Forced to be kind! compell'd to be sincere!
Do chains and fetters make companions dear?
Pris'ners indeed we bind; but though the bond
May keep them safe, it does not make them fond:
The ring, the vow, the witness, licence, prayers,
All parties known! made public all affairs!
Such forms men suffer, and from these they date
A deed of love begun with all they hate:
Absurd! that none the beaten road should shun,
But love to do what other dupes have done.
'Well, now your priest has made you one of
Look you for rest? Alas! you look in vain.
If sick, he comes; you cannot die in peace,
Till he attends to witness your release;
To vex your soul, and urge you to confess
The sins you feel, remember, or can guess;
Nay, when departed, to your grave he goes -
But there indeed he hurts not your repose.
'Such are our burthens; part we must sustain,
But need not link new grievance to the chain:
Yet men like idiots will their frames surround
With these vile shackles, nor confess they're
In all that most confines them they confide,
Their slavery boast, and make their bonds their
E'en as the pressure galls them, they declare
(Good souls!) how happy and how free they are!
As madmen, pointing round their wretched cells,
Cry, 'Lo! the palace where our honour dwells.'
'Such is our state: but I resolve to live
By rules my reason and my feelings give;
No legal guards shall keep enthrall'd my mind,
No Slaves command me, and no teachers blind.
Tempted by sins, let me their strength defy,
But have no second in a surplice by;
No bottle-holder, with officious aid,
To comfort conscience, weaken'd and afraid:
Then if I yield, my frailty is not known;
And, if I stand, the glory is my own.
'When Truth and Reason are our friends, we seem
Alive! awake!--the superstitious dream.
Oh! then, fair truth, for thee alone I seek,
Friend to the wise, supporter of the weak;
From thee we learn whate'er is right and just:
Forms to despise, professions to distrust;
Creeds to reject, pretensions to deride,
And, following thee, to follow none beside.'
Such was the speech: it struck upon the ear
Like sudden thunder none expect to hear.
He saw men's wonder with a manly pride,
And gravely smiled at guest electrified.
'A farmer this!' they said, 'Oh! let him seek
That place where he may for his country speak;
On some great question to harangue for hours,
While speakers, hearing, envy nobler powers!'
Wisdom like this, as all things rich and rare,
Must be acquired with pains, and kept with care;
In books he sought it, which his friends might
When their kind host the guarding curtain drew.
There were historic works for graver hours,
And lighter verse to spur the languid powers;
There metaphysics, logic there had place;
But of devotion not a single trace -
Save what is taught in Gibbon's florid page,
And other guides of this inquiring age.
There Hume appear'd, and near a splendid book
Composed by Gay's 'good lord of Bolingbroke:'
With these were mix'd the light, the free, the
And from a corner peep'd the sage Tom Paine;
Here four neat volumes Chesterfield were named,
For manners much and easy morals famed;
With chaste Memoirs of females, to be read
When deeper studies had confused the head.
Such his resources, treasures where he sought
For daily knowledge till his mind was fraught:
Then, when his friends were present, for their use
He would the riches he had stored produce;
He found his lamp burn clearer when each day
He drew for all he purposed to display;
For these occasions forth his knowledge sprung,
As mustard quickens on a bed of dung:
All was prepared, and guests allow'd the praise
For what they saw he could so quickly raise.
Such this new friend; and when the year came
The same impressive, reasoning sage was found:
Then, too, was seen the pleasant mansion graced
With a fair damsel--his no vulgar taste;
The neat Rebecca--sly, observant, still,
Watching his eye, and waiting on his will;
Simple yet smart her dress, her manners meek,
Her smiles spoke for her, she would seldom speak:
But watch'd each look, each meaning to detect,
And (pleased with notice) felt for all neglect.
With her lived Gwyn a sweet harmonious life,
Who, forms excepted, was a charming wife:
The wives indeed, so made by vulgar law,
Affected scorn, and censured what they saw,
And what they saw not, fancied; said 'twas sin,
And took no notice of the wife of Gwyn:
But he despised their rudeness, and would prove
Theirs was compulsion and distrust, not love;
'Fools as they were! could they conceive that rings
And parsons' blessings were substantial things?'
They answer'd 'Yes;' while he contemptuous spoke
Of the low notions held by simple folk;
Yet, strange that anger in a man so wise
Should from the notions of these fools arise;
Can they so vex us, whom we so despise?
Brave as he was, our hero felt a dread
Lest those who saw him kind should think him led;
If to his bosom fear a visit paid,
It was, lest he should be supposed afraid:
Hence sprang his orders; not that he desired
The things when done: obedience he required;
And thus, to prove his absolute command,
Ruled every heart, and moved each subject hand;
Assent he ask'd for every word and whim,
To prove that he alone was king of him.
The still Rebecca, who her station knew,
With ease resign'd the honours not her due:
Well pleased she saw that men her board would
And wish'd not there to see a female face;
When by her lover she his spouse was styled,
Polite she thought it, and demurely smiled;
But when he wanted wives and maidens round
So to regard her, she grew grave and frown'd;
And sometimes whisper'd--'Why should you respect
These people's notions, yet their forms reject?'
Gwyn, though from marriage bond and fetter free,
Still felt abridgment in his liberty;
Something of hesitation he betray'd,
And in her presence thought of what he said.
Thus fair Rebecca, though she walk'd astray,
His creed rejecting, judged it right to pray,
To be at church, to sit with serious looks,
To read her Bible and her Sunday-books:
She hated all those new and daring themes,
And call'd his free conjectures 'devil's dreams:'
She honour'd still the priesthood in her fall,
And claim'd respect and reverence for them all;
Call'd them 'of sin's destructive power the foes,
And not such blockheads as he might suppose.'
Gwyn to his friends would smile, and sometimes say,
''Tis a kind fool; why vex her in her way?'
Her way she took, and still had more in view,
For she contrived that he should take it too.
The daring freedom of his soul, 'twas plain,
In part was lost in a divided reign;
A king and queen, who yet in prudence sway'd
Their peaceful state, and were in turn obey'd.
Yet such our fate, that when we plan the best,
Something arises to disturb our rest:
For though in spirits high, in body strong,
Gwyn something felt--he knew not what--was wrong,
He wish'd to know, for he believed the thing,
If unremoved, would other evil bring:
'She must perceive, of late he could not eat,
And when he walk'd he trembled on his feet:
He had forebodings, and he seem'd as one
Stopp'd on the road, or threaten'd by a dun;
He could not live, and yet, should he apply
To those physicians--he must sooner die.'
The mild Rebecca heard with some disdain,
And some distress, her friend and lord complain:
His death she fear'd not, but had painful doubt
What his distemper'd nerves might bring about;
With power like hers she dreaded an ally,
And yet there was a person in her eye; -
She thought, debated, fix'd--'Alas!' she said,
'A case like yours must be no more delay'd;
You hate these doctors; well! but were a friend
And doctor one, your fears would have an end:
My cousin Mollet--Scotland holds him now -
Is above all men skilful, all allow;
Of late a Doctor, and within a while
He means to settle in this favoured isle:
Should he attend you, with his skill profound,
You must be safe, and shortly would be sound.'
When men in health against Physicians rail,
They should consider that their nerves may fail;
Who calls a Lawyer rogue, may find, too late,
On one of these depends his whole estate;
Nay, when the world can nothing more produce,
The Priest, th' insulted priest, may have his use;
Ease, health, and comfort lift a man so high,
These powers are dwarfs that he can scarcely spy;
Pain, sickness, langour, keep a man so low,
That these neglected dwarfs to giants grow:
Happy is he who through the medium sees
Of clear good sense--but Gwyn was not of these.
He heard and he rejoiced: 'Ah! let him come,
And till he fixes, make my house his home.'
Home came the Doctor--he was much admired;
He told the patient what his case required;
His hours for sleep, his time to eat and drink,
When he should ride, read, rest, compose, or think.
Thus join'd peculiar skill and art profound,
To make the fancy-sick no more than fancy-sound.
With such attention, who could long be ill?
Returning health proclaim'd the Doctor's skill.
Presents and praises from a grateful heart
Were freely offer'd on the patient's part;
In high repute the Doctor seem'd to stand,
But still had got no footing in the land;
And, as he saw the seat was rich and fair,
He felt disposed to fix his station there:
To gain his purpose he perform'd the part
Of a good actor, and prepared to start;
Not like a traveller in a day serene,
When the sun shone and when the roads were clean;
Not like the pilgrim, when the morning gray,
The ruddy eve succeeding, sends his way;
But in a season when the sharp east wind
Had all its influence on a nervous mind;
When past the parlour's front it fiercely blew,
And Gwyn sat pitying every bird that flew,
This strange physician said--'Adieu! Adieu!
Farewell!--Heaven bless you!--if you should--but
You need not fear--farewell! 'tis time to go.'
The Doctor spoke; and as the patient heard,
His old disorders (dreadful train!) appear'd;
'He felt the tingling tremor, and the stress
Upon his nerves that he could not express;
Should his good friend forsake him, he perhaps
Might meet his death, and surely a relapse.'
So, as the Doctor seem'd intent to part,
He cried in terror--'Oh! be where thou art:
Come, thou art young, and unengaged; oh! come,
Make me thy friend, give comfort to mine home;
I have now symptoms that require thine aid,
Do, Doctor, stay:'--th' obliging Doctor stay'd.
Thus Gwyn was happy; he had now a friend,
And a meek spouse on whom he could depend:
But now possess'd of male and female guide,
Divided power he thus must subdivide:
In earlier days he rode, or sat at ease
Reclined, and having but himself to please;
Now if he would a fav'rite nag bestride,
He sought permission--'Doctor, may I ride?'
(Rebecca's eye her sovereign pleasure told) -
'I think you may, but guarded from the cold,
Ride forty minutes.'--Free and happy soul,
He scorn'd submission, and a man's control;
But where such friends in every care unite
All for his good, obedience is delight.
Now Gwyn a sultan bade affairs adieu,
Led and assisted by the faithful two;
The favourite fair, Rebecca, near him sat,
And whisper'd whom to love, assist, or hate;
While the chief vizier eased his lord of cares,
And bore himself the burden of affairs:
No dangers could from such alliance flow,
But from that law that changes all below.
When wintry winds with leaves bestrew'd the
And men were coughing all the village round;
When public papers of invasion told,
Diseases, famines, perils new and old;
When philosophic writers fail'd to clear
The mind of gloom, and lighter works to cheer;
Then came fresh terrors on our hero's mind -
Fears unforeseen, and feelings undefined.
'In outward ills,' he cried, 'I rest assured
Of my friend's aid; they will in time be cured;
But can his art subdue, resist, control
These inward griefs and troubles of the soul?
Oh! my Rebecca! my disorder'd mind
No help in study, none in thought can find;
What must I do, Rebecca?' She proposed
The Parish-guide; but what could be disclosed
To a proud priest?--'No! him have I defied,
Insulted, slighted--shall he be my guide?
But one there is, and if report be just,
A wise good man, whom I may safely trust;
Who goes from house to house, from ear to ear,
To make his truths, his Gospel-truths, appear;
True if indeed they be, 'tis time that I should
Send for that man; and if report be just,
I, like Cornelius, will the teacher trust;
But if deceiver, I the vile deceit
Shall soon discover, and discharge the cheat.'
To Doctor Mollet was the grief confess'd,
While Gwyn the freedom of his mind expressed;
Yet own'd it was to ills and errors prone,
And he for guilt and frailty must atone.
'My books, perhaps,' the wav'ring mortal cried,
'Like men deceive; I would be satisfied; -
And to my soul the pious man may bring
Comfort and light: --do let me try the thing.'
The cousins met, what pass'd with Gwyn was told:
'Alas!' the Doctor said, 'how hard to hold
These easy minds, where all impressions made
At first sink deeply, and then quickly fade;
For while so strong these new-born fancies reign,
We must divert them, to oppose is vain:
You see him valiant now, he scorns to heed
The bigot's threat'nings or the zealot's creed;
Shook by a dream, he next for truth receives
What frenzy teaches, and what fear believes;
And this will place him in the power of one
Whom we must seek, because we cannot shun.'
Wisp had been ostler at a busy inn,
Where he beheld and grew in dread of sin;
Then to a Baptists' meeting found his way,
Became a convert, and was taught to pray;
Then preach'd; and, being earnest and sincere,
Brought other sinners to religious fear:
Together grew his influence and his fame,
Till our dejected hero heard his name:
His little failings were a grain of pride,
Raised by the numbers he presumed to guide;
A love of presents, and of lofty praise
For his meek spirit and his humble ways;
But though this spirit would on flattery feed,
No praise could blind him and no arts mislead: -
To him the Doctor made the wishes known
Of his good patron, but conceal'd his own;
He of all teachers had distrust and doubt,
And was reserved in what he came about;
Though on a plain and simple message sent,
He had a secret and a bold intent:
Their minds at first were deeply veil'd; disguise
Form'd the slow speech, and oped the eager eyes;
Till by degrees sufficient light was thrown
On every view, and all the business shown.
Wisp, as a skilful guide who led the blind,
Had powers to rule and awe the vapourish mind;
But not the changeful will, the wavering fear to
And should his conscience give him leave to dwell
With Gwyn, and every rival power expel
(A dubious point), yet he, with every care,
Might soon the lot of the rejected share;
And other Wisps he found like him to reign,
And then be thrown upon the world again:
He thought it prudent then, and felt it just,
The present guides of his new friend to trust:
True, he conceived, to touch the harder heart
Of the cool Doctor, was beyond his art;
But mild Rebecca he could surely sway,
While Gwyn would follow where she led the way:
So to do good, (and why a duty shun,
Because rewarded for the good when done?)
He with his friends would join in all they plann'd,
Save when his faith or feelings should withstand;
There he must rest sole judge of his affairs,
While they might rule exclusively in theirs.
When Gwyn his message to the teacher sent,
He fear'd his friends would show their discontent;
And prudent seem'd it to th' attendant pair,
Not all at once to show an aspect fair:
On Wisp they seem'd to look with jealous eye,
And fair Rebecca was demure and shy;
But by degrees the teacher's worth they knew,
And were so kind, they seem'd converted too.
Wisp took occasion to the nymph to say,
'You must be married: will you name the day?'
She smiled,--''Tis well: but should he not comply,
Is it quite safe th' experiment to try?' -
'My child,' the teacher said, 'who feels remorse,
(And feels not he?) must wish relief of course:
And can he find it, while he fears the crime! -
You must be married; will you name the time?'
Glad was the patron as a man could be,
Yet marvell'd too, to find his guides agree;
'But what the cause?' he cried; ''tis genuine love
Each found his part, and let one act describe
The powers and honours of th' accordant tribe: -
A man for favour to the mansion speeds,
And cons his threefold task as he proceeds;
To teacher Wisp he bows with humble air,
And begs his interest for a barn's repair:
Then for the Doctor he inquires, who loves
To hear applause for what his skill improves,
And gives for praise, assent--and to the Fair
He brings of pullets a delicious pair;
Thus sees a peasant, with discernment nice,
A love of power, conceit, and avarice.
Lo! now the change complete: the convert Gwyn
Has sold his books, and has renounced his sin;
Mollet his body orders, Wisp his soul,
And o'er his purse the Lady takes control;
No friends beside he needs, and none attend -
Soul, body, and estate, has each a friend;
And fair Rebecca leads a virtuous life -
She rules a mistress, and she reigns a wife.
The Wife Of Bath Her Tale
In days of old, when Arthur filled the throne,
Whose acts and fame to foreign lands were blown,
The king of elves, and little fairy queen,
Gambolled on heaths, and danced on every green;
And where the jolly troop had led the round,
The grass unbidden rose, and marked the ground.
Nor darkling did they dance, the silver light
Of Phœbe served to guide their steps aright,
And, with their tripping pleased, prolong the night.
Her beams they followed, where at full she played,
Nor longer than she shed her horns they staid,
From thence with airy flight to foreign lands conveyed.
Above the rest our Britain held they dear,
More solemnly they kept their sabbaths here,
And made more spacious rings, and revelled half the year.
I speak of ancient times; for now the swain
Returning late may pass the woods in vain,
And never hope to see the nightly train;
In vain the dairy now with mints is dressed,
The dairy-maid expects no fairy guest
To skim the bowls, and after pay the feast.
She sighs, and shakes her empty shoes in vain,
No silver penny to reward her pain;1
For priests with prayers, and other godly gear,
Have made the merry goblins disappear;
And where they played their merry pranks before,
Have sprinkled holy water on the floor;
And friars that through the wealthy regions run,
Thick as the motes that twinkle in the sun,
Resort to farmers rich, and bless their halls,
And exorcise the beds, and cross the walls:
This makes the fairy quires forsake the place,
When once ‘tis hallowed with the rites of grace:
But in the walks, where wicked elves have been,
The learning of the parish now is seen;
The midnight parson, posting o’er the green,
With gown tucked up, to wakes; for Sunday next,
With humming ale encouraging his text;
Nor wants the holy leer to country-girl betwixt.
From fiends and imps he sets the village free,
There haunts not any incubus but he.
The maids and women need no danger fear
To walk by night, and sanctity so near;
For by some haycock, or some shady thorn,
He bids his beads both even-song and morn.
It so befel in this king Arthur’s reign,
A lusty knight was pricking o’er the plain;
A bachelor he was, and of the courtly train.
It happened as he rode, a damsel gay
In russet robes to market took her way;
Soon on the girl he cast an amorous eye,
So straight she walked, and on her pasterns high:
If seeing her behind he liked her pace,
Now turning short, he better likes her face.
He lights in haste, and, full of youthful fire,
By force accomplished his obscene desire.
This done, away he rode, not unespied,
For swarming at his back, the country cried:
And once in view they never lost the sight,
But seized, and pinioned brought to court the knight.
Then courts of kings were held in high renown,
Ere made the common brothels of the town;
There, virgins honourable vows received,
But chaste as maids in monasteries lived:
The king himself, to nuptial ties a slave,
No bad example to his poets gave;
And they, not bad, but in a vicious age,
Had not, to please the prince, debauched the stage.2
Now what should Arthur do? He loved the knight,
But sovereign monarchs are the source of right:
Moved by the damsel’s tears and common cry,
He doomed the brutal ravisher to die.
But fair Geneura rose in his defence,
And prayed so hard for mercy from the prince,
That to his queen the king the offender gave,
And left it in her power to kill or save.
This gracious act the ladies all approve,
Who thought it much a man should die for love;
And with their mistress joined in close debate,
(Covering their kindness with dissembled hate,)
If not to free him, to prolong his fate.
At last agreed, they call him by consent
Before the queen and female parliament;
And the fair speaker rising from the chair,
Did thus the judgment of the house declare.
‘Sir knight, though I have asked thy life, yet still
Thy destiny depends upon my will:
Nor hast thou other surety, than the grace
Not due to thee from our offended race.
But as our kind is of a softer mould,
And cannot blood without a sigh behold,
I grant thee life; reserving still the power
To take the forfeit when I see my hour;
Unless thy answer to my next demand
Shall set thee free from our avenging hand.
The question, whose solution I require,
Is, What the sex of women most desire?
In this dispute thy judges are at strife;
Beware; for on thy wit depends thy life.
Yet (lest, surprised, unknowing what to say,
Thou damn thyself) we give thee farther day;
A year is thine to wander at thy will;
And learn from others, if thou want’st the skill.
But, not to hold our proffer turned to scorn,
Good sureties will we have for thy return,
That at the time prefixed thou shalt obey,
And at thy pledge’s peril keep thy day.’
Woe was the knight at this severe command,
But well he knew ’twas bootless to withstand.
The terms accepted, as the fair ordain,
He put in bail for his return again;
And promised answer at the day assigned,
The best, with Heaven’s assistance, he could find.
His leave thus taken, on his way he went
With heavy heart, and full of discontent,
Misdoubting much, and fearful of the event.
’Twas hard the truth of such a point to find,
As was not yet agreed among the kind.
Thus on he went; still anxious more and more,
Asked all he met, and knocked at every door;
Inquired of men; but made his chief request
To learn from women what they loved the best.
They answered each according to her mind,
To please herself, not all the female kind.
One was for wealth, another was for place;
Crones, old and ugly, wished a better face;
The widow’s wish was oftentimes to wed;
The wanton maids were all for sport a-bed;
Some said the sex were pleased with handsome lies,
And some gross flattery loved without disguise.
‘Truth is,’ says one, ‘he seldom fails to win
Who flatters well; for that’s our darling sin.
But long attendance, and a duteous mind,
Will work even with the wisest of the kind.’
One thought the sex’s prime felicity
Was from the bonds of wedlock to be free;
Their pleasures, hours, and actions all their own,
And uncontrolled to give account to none.
Some wish a husband-fool; but such are curst,
For fools perverse of husbands are the worst:
All women would be counted chaste and wise,
Nor should our spouses see but with our eyes;
For fools will prate; and though they want the wit
To find close faults, yet open blots will hit;
Though better for their ease to hold their tongue,
For woman-kind was never in the wrong.
So noise ensues, and quarrels last for life;
The wife abhors the fool, the fool the wife.
And some men say, that great delight have we
To be for truth extolled, and secresy:
And constant in one purpose still to dwell,
And not our husband’s counsels to reveal.
But that’s a fable: for our sex is frail,
Inventing rather than not tell a tale.
Like leaky sieves no secrets we can hold;
Witness the famous tale that Ovid told.
Midas, the king, as in his book appears,
By Phœbus was endowed with ass’s ears,
Which under his long locks he well concealed,
(As monarch’s vices must not be revealed)
For fear the people have them in the wind,
Who long ago were neither dumb nor blind;
Nor apt to think from Heaven their title springs,
Since Jove and Mars left off begetting kings.
This Midas knew; and durst communicate
To none but to his wife his ears of state;
One must be trusted, and he thought her fit,
As passing prudent, and a parlous wit.
To this sagacious confessor he went,
And told her what a gift the gods had sent;
But told it under matrimonial seal,
With strict injunction never to reveal.
The secret heard, she plighted him her troth,
(And sacred sure is every woman’s oath,)
The royal malady should rest unknown,
Both for her husband’s honour and her own:
But ne’ertheless she pined with discontent;
The counsel rumbled till it found a vent.
The thing she knew she was obliged to hide;
By interest and by oath the wife was tied,
But if she told it not, the woman died.
Loath to betray a husband and a prince,
But she must burst, or blab, and no pretence
Of honour tied her tongue from self-defence.
A marshy ground commodiously was near,
Thither she ran, and held her breath for fear,
Lest if a word she spoke of any thing,
That word might be the secret of the king.
Thus full of counsel to the fen she went,
Griped all the way, and longing for a vent;
Arrived, by pure necessity compelled,
On her majestic marrow bones she kneeled;
Then to the water’s brink she laid her head,
And as a bittour bumps within a reed,3
‘To thee alone, O lake,’ she said, ‘I tell,
(And, as thy queen, command thee to conceal,)
Beneath his locks, the king my husband wears
A goodly royal pair of ass’s ears:
Now I have eased my bosom of the pain,
Till the next longing fit return again.’
Thus through a woman was the secret known;
Tell us, and in effect you tell the town.
But to my tale. The knight with heavy cheer,
Wandering in vain, had now consumed the year;
One day was only left to solve the doubt,
Yet knew no more than when he first set out.
But home he must, and as the award had been,
Yield up his body captive to the queen.
In this despairing state he happed to ride,
As fortune led him, by a forest side;
Lonely the vale, and full of horror stood,
Brown with the shade of a religious wood;
When full before him at the noon of night,
(The moon was up, and shot a gleamy light,)
He saw a quire of ladies in a round
That featly footing seemed to skim the ground;
Thus dancing hand in hand, so light they were,
He knew not where they trod, on earth or air.
At speed he drove, and came a sudden guest,
In hope where many women were, at least
Some one by chance might answer his request.
But faster than his horse the ladies flew,
And in a trice were vanished out of view.
One only hag remained: but fouler far
Than grandame apes in Indian forests are:
Against a withered oak she leaned her weight,
Propped on her trusty staff, not half upright,
And dropped an awkward courtesy to the knight.
Then said, ‘What makes you, sir, so late abroad
Without a guide, and this no beaten road?
Or want you aught that here you hope to find,
Or travel for some trouble in your mind?
The last I guess; and if I read aright,
Those of our sex are bound to serve a knight.
Perhaps good counsel may your grief assuage,
Then tell your pain, for wisdom is in age.’
To this the knight: ‘Good mother, would you know
The secret cause and spring of all my woe?
My life must with to-morrow’s light expire,
Unless I tell what women most desire.
Now could you help me at this hard essay,
Or for your inborn goodness, or for pay,
Yours is my life, redeemed by your advice,
Ask what you please, and I will pay the price:
The proudest kerchief of the court shall rest
Well satisfied of what they love the best.’
‘Plight me thy faith,’ quoth she, ‘that what I ask,
Thy danger over, and performed thy task,
That thou shalt give for hire of thy demand;
Here take thy oath, and seal it on my hand;
I warrant thee, on peril of my life,
Thy words shall please both widow, maid, and wife.’
More words there needed not to move the knight,
To take her offer, and his truth to plight.
With that she spread a mantle on the ground,
And, first inquiring whither he was bound,
Bade him not fear, though long and rough the way,
At court he should arrive ere break of day:
His horse should find the way without a guide.
She said: with fury they began to ride,
He on the midst, the beldam at his side.
The horse, what devil drove I cannot tell,
But only this, they sped their journey well;
And all the way the crone informed the knight,
How he should answer the demand aright.
To court they came; the news was quickly spread
Of his returning to redeem his head.
The female senate was assembled soon,
With all the mob of women of the town:
The queen sat lord chief justice of the hall,
And bade the crier cite the criminal.
The knight appeared; and silence they proclaim:
Then first the culprit answered to his name;
And, after forms of law, was last required
To name the thing that women most desired.
The offender, taught his lesson by the way,
And by his counsel ordered what to say,
Thus bold began:—‘My lady liege,’ said he,
‘What all your sex desire is—SOVEREIGNTY.
The wife affects her husband to command;
All must be hers, both money, house, and land:
The maids are mistresses even in their name,
And of their servants full dominion claim.
This, at the peril of my head, I say,
A blunt plain truth, the sex aspires to sway,
You to rule all, while we, like slaves, obey.’
There was not one, or widow, maid, or wife,
But said the knight had well deserved his life.
Even fair Geneura, with a blush, confessed
The man had found what women love the best.
Up starts the beldam, who was there unseen,
And, reverence made, accosted thus the queen:—
‘My liege,’ said she, ‘before the court arise,
May I, poor wretch, find favour in your eyes,
To grant my just request: ’twas I who taught
The knight this answer, and inspired his thought.
None but a woman could a man direct
To tell us women what we most affect.
But first I swore him on his knightly troth,
(And here demand performance of his oath,)
To grant the boon that next I should desire;
He gave his faith, and I expect my hire:
My promise is fulfilled: I saved his life,
And claim his debt, to take me for his wife.’
The knight was asked, nor could his oath deny,
But hoped they would not force him to comply.
The women, who would rather wrest the laws,
Than let a sister-plaintiff lose the cause,
(As judges on the bench more gracious are,
And more attent to brothers of the bar,)
Cried, one and all, the suppliant should have right,
And to the grandame hag adjudged the knight.
In vain he sighed, and oft with tears desired
Some reasonable suit might be required.
But still the crone was constant to her note;
The more he spoke, the more she stretched her throat.
In vain he proffered all his goods, to save
His body destined to that living grave.
The liquorish hag rejects the pelf with scorn,
And nothing but the man would serve her turn.
‘Not all the wealth of eastern kings,’ said she,
‘Have power to part my plighted love and me;
And, old and ugly as I am, and poor,
Yet never will I break the faith I swore;
For mine thou art by promise, during life,
And I thy loving and obedient wife.’
‘My love! nay, rather my damnation thou,’
Said he: ‘nor am I bound to keep my vow;
The fiend, thy sire, hath sent thee from below,
Else how couldst thou my secret sorrows know?
Avaunt, old witch! for I renounce thy bed:
The queen may take the forfeit of my head,
Ere any of my race so foul a crone shall wed.’
Both heard, the judge pronounced against the knight;
So was he married in his own despite:
And all day after hid him as an owl,
Not able to sustain a sight so foul.
Perhaps the reader thinks I do him wrong,
To pass the marriage feast, and nuptial song:
Mirth there was none, the man was à-la-mort,
And little courage had to make his court.
To bed they went, the bridegroom and the bride:
Was never such an ill-paired couple tied:
Restless he tossed, and tumbled to and fro,
And rolled, and wriggled further off for woe.
The good old wife lay smiling by his side,
And caught him in her quivering arms, and cried,
‘When you my ravished predecessor saw,
You were not then become this man of straw;
Had you been such you might have ’scaped the law.
Is this the custom of King Arthur’s court?
Are all round-table knights of such a sort?
Remember I am she who saved your life,
Your loving, lawful, and complying wife:
Not thus you swore in your unhappy hour,
Nor I for this return employed my power.
In time of need I was your faithful friend;
Nor did I since, nor ever will offend.
Believe me, my loved lord, ’tis much unkind;
What fury has possessed your altered mind?
Thus on my wedding night,—without pretence,—
Come, turn this way—or tell me my offence.
If not your wife, let reason’s rule persuade,
Name but my fault, amends shall soon be made.’
‘Amends! nay, that’s impossible,’ said he,
‘What change of age, or ugliness, can be?
Or could Medea’s magic mend thy face,
Thou art descended from so mean a race,
That never knight was matched with such disgrace.
What wonder, madam, if I move my side,
When, if I turn, I turn to such a bride?’
‘And is this all that troubles you so sore?
‘And what the devil couldst thou wish me more?’
‘Ah, Benedicite!’ replied the crone:
‘Then cause of just complaining have you none.
The remedy to this were soon applied,
Would you be like the bridegroom to the bride:
But, for you say a long descended race,
And wealth, and dignity, and power, and place,
Make gentlemen, and that your high degree
Is much disparaged to be matched with me;
Know this, my lord, nobility of blood
Is but a glittering and fallacious good:
The nobleman is he whose noble mind
Is filled with inborn worth, unborrowed from his kind.
The King of Heaven was in a manger laid,
And took his earth but from an humble Maid:
Then what can birth, or mortal men, bestow,
Since floods no higher than their fountains flow?
We, who for name and empty honour strive,
Our true nobility from him derive.
Your ancestors, who puff your mind with pride,
And vast estates to mighty titles tied,
Did not your honour, but their own, advance;
For virtue comes not by inheritance.
If you tralineate from your father’s mind,
What are you else but of a bastard kind?
Do as your great progenitors have done,
And by their virtues prove yourself their son.
No father can infuse or wit, or grace;
A mother comes across, and mars the race.
A grandsire or a grandame taints the blood;
And seldom three descents continue good.
Were virtue by descent, a noble name
Could never villanize his father’s fame:
But, as the first, the last of all the line,
Would, like the sun, even in descending shine.
Take fire, and bear it to the darkest house
Betwixt king Arthur’s court and Caucasus;
If you depart, the flame shall still remain,
And the bright blaze enlighten all the plain;
Nor, till the fuel perish, can decay,
By nature formed on things combustible to prey.
Such is not man, who, mixing better seed
With worse, begets a base degenerate breed:
The bad corrupts the good, and leaves behind
No trace of all the great begetter’s mind.
The father sinks within his son, we see,
And often rises in the third degree;
If better luck a better mother give,
Chance gave us being, and by chance we live.
Such as our atoms were, even such are we,
Or call it chance, or strong necessity:
Thus loaded with dead weight, the will is free.
And thus it needs must be: for seed conjoined
Lets into nature’s work the imperfect kind;
But fire, the enlivener of the general frame,
Is one, its operation still the same.
Its principle is in itself: while ours
Works, as confederates war, with mingled powers;
Or man or woman, which soever fails;
And oft the vigour of the worse prevails.
æther with sulphur blended alters hue,
And casts a dusky gleam of Sodom blue.
Thus, in a brute, their ancient honour ends,
And the fair mermaid in a fish descends:
The line is gone; no longer duke or earl;
But, by himself degraded, turns a churl.
Nobility of blood is but renown
Of thy great fathers by their virtue known,
And a long trail of light, to thee descending down.
If in thy smoke it ends, their glories shine;
But infamy and villanage are thine.
Then what I said before is plainly showed,
The true nobility proceeds from God:
Nor left us by inheritance, but given
By bounty of our stars, and grace of Heaven.
Thus from a captive Servius Tullius rose,
Whom for his virtues the first Romans chose:
Fabricius from their walls repelled the foe,
Whose noble hands had exercised the plough.
From hence, my lord, and love, I thus conclude,
That though my homely ancestors were rude,
Mean as I am, yet I may have the grace
To make you father of a generous race:
And noble then am I, when I begin,
In virtue clothed, to cast the rags of sin.
If poverty be my upbraided crime,
And you believe in Heaven, there was a time
When He, the great controller of our fate,
Deigned to be man, and lived in low estate;
Which He who had the world at his dispose,
If poverty were vice, would never choose.
Philosophers have said, and poets sing,
That a glad poverty’s an honest thing.
Content is wealth, the riches of the mind,
And happy he who can that treasure find;
But the base miser starves amidst his store,
Broods on his gold, and griping still at more,
Sits sadly pining, and believes he’s poor.
The ragged beggar, though he want relief,
Has nought to lose, and sings before the thief.
Want is a bitter and a hateful good,
Because its virtues are not understood.
Yet many things, impossible to thought,
Have been by need to full perfection brought:
The daring of the soul proceeds from thence,
Sharpness of wit, and active diligence;
Prudence at once and fortitude it gives,
And if in patience taken, mends our lives;
For even that indigence that brings me low,
Makes me myself and Him above to know;
A good which none would challenge, few would choose;
A fair possession, which mankind refuse.
If we from wealth to poverty descend,
Want gives to know the flatterer from the friend.
If I am old and ugly, well for you,
No lewd adulterer will my love pursue;
Nor jealousy, the bane of married life,
Shall haunt you for a withered homely wife;
For age and ugliness, as all agree,
Are the best guards of female chastity.
‘Yet since I see your mind is worldly bent,
I’ll do my best to further your content.
And therefore of two gifts in my dispose,—
Think ere you speak, —I grant you leave to choose:
Would you I should be still deformed and old,
Nauseous to touch, and loathsome to behold;
On this condition to remain for life
A careful, tender, and obedient wife,
In all I can contribute to your ease,
And not in deed, or word, or thought displease:
Or would you rather have me young and fair,
And take the chance that happens to your share?
Temptations are in beauty, and in youth,
And how can you depend upon my truth?
Now weigh the danger with the doubtful bliss,
And thank yourself, if aught should fall amiss.’
Sore sighed the knight, who this long sermon heard;
At length considering all, his heart he cheered,
And thus replied: —‘My lady, and my wife,
To your wise conduct I resign my life:
Choose you for me, for well you understand
The future good and ill, on either hand:
But if an humble husband may request,
Provide and order all things for the best;
Yours be the care to profit and to please:
And let your subject servant take his ease.’
‘Then thus in peace,’ quoth she, ‘concludes the strife,
Since I am turned the husband, you the wife:
The matrimonial victory is mine,
Which, having fairly gained, I will resign;
Forgive if I have said or done amiss,
And seal the bargain with a friendly kiss:
I promised you but one content to share,
But now I will become both good and fair.
No nuptial quarrel shall disturb your ease;
The business of my life shall be to please;
And for my beauty, that, as time shall try,
But draw the curtain first, and cast your eye.’
He looked, and saw a creature heavenly fair,
In bloom of youth, and of a charming air.
With joy he turned, and seized her ivory arm;
And, like Pygmalion, found the statue warm.
Small arguments there needed to prevail,
A storm of kisses poured as thick as hail.
Thus long in mutual bliss they lay embraced,
And their first love continued to the last:
One sunshine was their life, no cloud between,
Nor ever was a kinder couple seen.
And so may all our lives like theirs be led;
Heaven send the maids young husbands fresh in bed:
May widows wed as often as they can,
And ever for the better change their man.
And some devouring plague pursue their lives,
Who will not well be governed by their wives.
A Voice From The Factories
WHEN fallen man from Paradise was driven,
Forth to a world of labour, death, and care;
Still, of his native Eden, bounteous Heaven
Resolved one brief memorial to spare,
And gave his offspring an imperfect share
Of that lost happiness, amid decay;
Making their first approach to life seem fair,
And giving, for the Eden past away,
CHILDHOOD, the weary life's long happy holyday.
Sacred to heavenly peace, those years remain!
And when with clouds their dawn is overcast,
Unnatural seem the sorrow and the pain
(Which rosy joy flies forth to banish fast,
Because that season's sadness may not last).
Light is their grief! a word of fondness cheers
The unhaunted heart; the shadow glideth past;
Unknown to them the weight of boding fears,
And soft as dew on flowers their bright, ungrieving tears.
See the Stage-Wonder (taught to earn its bread
By the exertion of an infant skill),
Forsake the wholesome slumbers of its bed,
And mime, obedient to the public will.
Where is the heart so cold that does not thrill
With a vexatious sympathy, to see
That child prepare to play its part, and still
With simulated airs of gaiety
Rise to the dangerous rope, and bend the supple knee?
Painted and spangled, trembling there it stands,
Glances below for friend or father's face,
Then lifts its small round arms and feeble hands
With the taught movements of an artist's grace:
Leaves its uncertain gilded resting-place--
Springs lightly as the elastic cord gives way--
And runs along with scarce perceptible pace--
Like a bright bird upon a waving spray,
Fluttering and sinking still, whene'er the branches play.
Now watch! a joyless and distorted smile
Its innocent lips assume; (the dancer's leer!)
Conquering its terror for a little while:
Then lets the TRUTH OF INFANCY appear,
And with a stare of numbed and childish fear
Looks sadly towards the audience come to gaze
On the unwonted skill which costs so dear,
While still the applauding crowd, with pleased amaze,
Ring through its dizzy ears unwelcome shouts of praise.
What is it makes us feel relieved to see
That hapless little dancer reach the ground;
With its whole spirit's elasticity
Thrown into one glad, safe, triumphant bound?
Why are we sad, when, as it gazes round
At that wide sea of paint, and gauze, and plumes,
(Once more awake to sense, and sight, and sound,)
The nature of its age it re-assumes,
And one spontaneous smile at length its face illumes?
Because we feel, for Childhood's years and strength,
Unnatural and hard the task hath been;--
Because our sickened souls revolt at length,
And ask what infant-innocence may mean,
Thus toiling through the artificial scene;--
Because at that word, CHILDHOOD, start to birth
All dreams of hope and happiness serene--
All thoughts of innocent joy that visit earth--
Prayer--slumber--fondness--smiles--and hours of rosy mirth.
And therefore when we hear the shrill faint cries
Which mark the wanderings of the little sweep;
Or when, with glittering teeth and sunny eyes,
The boy-Italian's voice, so soft and deep,
Asks alms for his poor marmoset asleep;
They fill our hearts with pitying regret,
Those little vagrants doomed so soon to weep--
As though a term of joy for all was set,
And that their share of Life's long suffering was not yet.
Ever a toiling child doth make us sad:
'T is an unnatural and mournful sight,
Because we feel their smiles should be so glad,
Because we know their eyes should be so bright.
What is it, then, when, tasked beyond their might,
They labour all day long for others' gain,--
Nay, trespass on the still and pleasant night,
While uncompleted hours of toil remain?
Poor little FACTORY SLAVES--for You these lines complain!
Beyond all sorrow which the wanderer knows,
Is that these little pent-up wretches feel;
Where the air thick and close and stagnant grows,
And the low whirring of the incessant wheel
Dizzies the head, and makes the senses reel:
There, shut for ever from the gladdening sky,
Vice premature and Care's corroding seal
Stamp on each sallow cheek their hateful die,
Line the smooth open brow, and sink the saddened eye.
For them the fervid summer only brings
A double curse of stifling withering heat;
For them no flowers spring up, no wild bird sings,
No moss-grown walks refresh their weary feet;--
No river's murmuring sound;--no wood-walk, sweet
With many a flower the learned slight and pass;--
Nor meadow, with pale cowslips thickly set
Amid the soft leaves of its tufted grass,--
Lure them a childish stock of treasures to amass.
Have we forgotten our own infancy,
That joys so simple are to them denied?--
Our boyhood's hopes--our wanderings far and free,
Where yellow gorse-bush left the common wide
And open to the breeze?--The active pride
Which made each obstacle a pleasure seem;
When, rashly glad, all danger we defied,
Dashed through the brook by twilight's fading gleam,
Or scorned the tottering plank, and leapt the narrow stream?
In lieu of this,--from short and bitter night,
Sullen and sad the infant labourer creeps;
He joys not in the glow of morning's light,
But with an idle yearning stands and weeps,
Envying the babe that in its cradle sleeps:
And ever as he slowly journeys on,
His listless tongue unbidden silence keeps;
His fellow-labourers (playmates hath he none)
Walk by, as sad as he, nor hail the morning sun.
Mark the result. Unnaturally debarred
All nature's fresh and innocent delights,
While yet each germing energy strives hard,
And pristine good with pristine evil fights;
When every passing dream the heart excites,
And makes even guarded virtue insecure;
Untaught, unchecked, they yield as vice invites:
With all around them cramped, confined, impure,
Fast spreads the moral plague which nothing new shall cure.
Yes, this reproach is added; (infamous
In realms which own a Christian monarch's sway!)
Not suffering only is their portion, thus
Compelled to toil their youthful lives away:
Excessive labour works the SOUL'S decay--
Quenches the intellectual light within--
Crushes with iron weight the mind's free play--
Steals from us LEISURE purer thoughts to win--
And leaves us sunk and lost in dull and native sin.
Yet in the British Senate men rise up,
(The freeborn and the fathers of our land!)
And while these drink the dregs of Sorrow's cup,
Deny the sufferings of the pining band.
With nice-drawn calculations at command,
They prove--rebut--explain--and reason long;
Proud of each shallow argument they stand,
And prostitute their utmost powers of tongue
Feebly to justify this great and glaring wrong.
So rose, with such a plausible defence
Of the unalienable RIGHT OF GAIN,
Those who against Truth's brightest eloquence
Upheld the cause of torture and of pain:
And fear of Property's Decrease made vain,
For years, the hope of Christian Charity
To lift the curse from SLAVERY'S dark domain,
And send across the wide Atlantic sea
The watchword of brave men--the thrilling shout, 'BE FREE!'
What is to be a slave? Is't not to spend
A life bowed down beneath a grinding ill?--
To labour on to serve another's end,--
To give up leisure, health, and strength, and skill--
And give up each of these against your will?
Hark to the angry answer:--'Theirs is not
A life of slavery; if they labour,--still
We pay their toil. Free service is their lot;
And what their labour yields, by us is fairly got.'
Oh, Men! blaspheme not Freedom! Are they free
Who toil until the body's strength gives way?
Who may not set a term for Liberty,
Who have no time for food, or rest, or play,
But struggle through the long unwelcome day
Without the leisure to be good or glad?
Such is their service--call it what you may.
Poor little creatures, overtasked and sad,
Your Slavery hath no name,--yet is its Curse as bad!
Again an answer. ''T is their parents' choice.
By some employ the poor man's child must earn
Its daily bread; and infants have no voice
In what the allotted task shall be: they learn
What answers best, or suits the parents' turn.'
Mournful reply! Do not your hearts inquire
Who tempts the parents' penury? They yearn
Toward their offspring with a strong desire,
But those who starve will sell, even what they most require.
We grant their class must labour--young and old;
We grant the child the needy parents' tool:
But still our hearts a better plan behold;
No bright Utopia of some dreaming fool,
But rationally just, and good by rule.
Not against TOIL, but TOIL'S EXCESS we pray,
(Else were we nursed in Folly's simplest school);
That so our country's hardy children may
Learn not to loathe, but bless, the well apportioned day.
One more reply! The last reply--the great
Answer to all that sense or feeling shows,
To which all others are subordinate:--
'The Masters of the Factories must lose
By the abridgement of these infant woes.
Show us the remedy which shall combine
Our equal gain with their increased repose--
Which shall not make our trading class repine,
But to the proffered boon its strong effects confine.'
Oh! shall it then be said that TYRANT acts
Are those which cause our country's looms to thrive?
That Merchant England's prosperous trade exacts
This bitter sacrifice, e'er she derive
That profit due, for which the feeble strive?
Is her commercial avarice so keen,
That in her busy multitudinous hive
Hundreds must die like insects, scarcely seen,
While the thick-thronged survivors work where they have been?
Forbid it, Spirit of the glorious Past
Which gained our Isle the surname of 'The Free,'
And made our shores a refuge at the last
To all who would not bend the servile knee,
The vainly-vanquished sons of Liberty!
Here ever came the injured, the opprest,
Compelled from the Oppressor's face to flee--
And found a home of shelter and of rest
In the warm generous heart that beat in England's breast.
Here came the Slave, who straightway burst his chain,
And knew that none could ever bind him more;
Here came the melancholy sons of Spain;
And here, more buoyant Gaul's illustrious poor
Waited the same bright day that shone before.
Here rests the Enthusiast Pole! and views afar
With dreaming hope, from this protecting shore,
The trembling rays of Liberty's pale star
Shine forth in vain to light the too-unequal war!
And shall REPROACH cling darkly to the name
Which every memory so much endears?
Shall we, too, tyrannise,--and tardy Fame
Revoke the glory of our former years,
And stain Britannia's flag with children's tears?
So shall the mercy of the English throne
Become a by-word in the Nation's ears,
As one who pitying heard the stranger's groan,
But to these nearer woes was cold and deaf as stone.
Are there not changes made which grind the Poor?
Are there not losses every day sustained,--
Deep grievances, which make the spirit sore?
And what the answer, when these have complained?
'For crying evils there hath been ordained
The REMEDY OF CHANGE; to obey its call
Some individual loss must be disdained,
And pass as unavoidable and small,
Weighed with the broad result of general good to all.'
Oh! such an evil now doth cry aloud!
And CHANGE should be by generous hearts begun,
Though slower gain attend the prosperous crowd;
Lessening the fortunes for their children won.
Why should it grieve a father, that his son
Plain competence must moderately bless?
That he must trade, even as his sire has done,
Not born to independent idleness,
Though honestly above all probable distress?
Rejoice! Thou hast not left enough of gold
From the lined heavy ledger, to entice
His drunken hand, irresolutely bold,
To squander it in haggard haunts of vice:--
The hollow rattling of the uncertain dice
Eats not the portion which thy love bestowed;--
Unable to afford that PLEASURE'S price,
Far off he slumbers in his calm abode,
And leaves the Idle Rich to follow Ruin's road.
Happy his lot! For him there shall not be
The cold temptation given by vacant time;
Leaving his young and uncurbed spirit free
To wander thro' the feverish paths of crime!
For him the Sabbath bell's returning chime
Not vainly ushers in God's day of rest;
No night of riot clouds the morning's prime:
Alert and glad, not languid and opprest,
He wakes, and with calm soul is the Creator blest.
Ye save for children! Fathers, is there not
A plaintive magic in the name of child,
Which makes you feel compassion for their lot
On whom Prosperity hath never smiled?
When with your OWN an hour hath been beguiled
(For whom you hoard the still increasing store),
Surely, against the face of Pity mild,
Heart-hardening Custom vainly bars the door,
For that less favoured race--THE CHILDREN OF THE POOR.
'The happy homes of England!'--they have been
A source of triumph, and a theme for song;
And surely if there be a hope serene
And beautiful, which may to Earth belong,
'T is when (shut out the world's associate throng,
And closed the busy day's fatiguing hum),
Still waited for with expectation strong,
Welcomed with joy, and overjoyed to come,
The good man goes to seek the twilight rest of home.
There sits his gentle Wife, who with him knelt
Long years ago at God's pure altar-place;
Still beautiful,--though all that she hath felt
Hath calmed the glory of her radiant face,
And given her brow a holier, softer grace.
Mother of SOULS IMMORTAL, she doth feel
A glow from Heaven her earthly love replace;
Prayer to her lip more often now doth steal,
And meditative hope her serious eyes reveal.
Fondly familiar is the look she gives
As he returns, who forth so lately went,--
For they together pass their happy lives;
And many a tranquil evening have they spent
Since, blushing, ignorantly innocent,
She vowed, with downcast eyes and changeful hue,
To love Him only. Love fulfilled, hath lent
Its deep repose; and when he meets her view,
Her soft look only says,--'I trust--and I am true.'
Scattered like flowers, the rosy children play--
Or round her chair a busy crowd they press;
But, at the FATHER'S coming, start away,
With playful struggle for his loved caress,
And jealous of the one he first may bless.
To each, a welcoming word is fondly said;
He bends and kisses some; lifts up the less;
Admires the little cheek, so round and red,
Or smooths with tender hand the curled and shining head.
Oh! let us pause, and gaze upon them now.
Is there not one--beloved and lovely boy!
With Mirth's bright seal upon his open brow,
And sweet fond eyes, brimful of love and joy?
He, whom no measure of delight can cloy,
The daring and the darling of the set;
He who, though pleased with every passing toy,
Thoughtless and buoyant to excess, could yet
Never a gentle word or kindly deed forget?
And one, more fragile than the rest, for whom--
As for the weak bird in a crowded nest--
Are needed all the fostering care of home
And the soft comfort of the brooding breast:
One, who hath oft the couch of sickness prest!
On whom the Mother looks, as it goes by,
With tenderness intense, and fear supprest,
While the soft patience of her anxious eye
Blends with 'God's will be done,'--'God grant thou may'st not die!'
And is there not the elder of the band?
She with the gentle smile and smooth bright hair,
Waiting, some paces back,--content to stand
Till these of Love's caresses have their share;
Knowing how soon his fond paternal care
Shall seek his violet in her shady nook,--
Patient she stands--demure, and brightly fair--
Copying the meekness of her Mother's look,
And clasping in her hand the favourite story-book.
Wake, dreamer!--Choose;--to labour Life away,
Which of these little precious ones shall go
(Debarred of summer-light and cheerful play)
To that receptacle for dreary woe,
The Factory Mill?--Shall He, in whom the glow
Of Life shines bright, whose free limbs' vigorous tread
Warns us how much of beauty that we know
Would fade, when he became dispirited,
And pined with sickened heart, and bowed his fainting head?
Or shall the little quiet one, whose voice
So rarely mingles in their sounds of glee,
Whose life can bid no living thing rejoice,
But rather is a long anxiety;--
Shall he go forth to toil? and keep the free
Frank boy, whose merry shouts and restless grace
Would leave all eyes that used his face to see,
Wistfully gazing towards that vacant space
Which makes their fireside seem a lone and dreary place?
Or, sparing these, send Her whose simplest words
Have power to charm,--whose warbled, childish song,
Fluent and clear and bird-like, strikes the chords
Of sympathy among the listening throng,--
Whose spirits light, and steps that dance along,
Instinctive modesty and grace restrain:
The fair young innocent who knows no wrong,--
Whose slender wrists scarce hold the silken skein
Which the glad Mother winds;--shall She endure this pain?
Away! The thought--the thought alone brings tears!
THEY labour--they, the darlings of our lives!
The flowers and the sunbeams of our fleeting years;
From whom alone our happiness derives
A lasting strength, which every shock survives;
The green young trees beneath whose arching boughs
(When failing Energy no longer strives,)
Our wearied age shall find a cool repose;--
THEY toil in torture!--No--the painful picture close.
Ye shudder,--nor behold the vision more!
Oh, Fathers! is there then one law for these,
And one for the pale children of the Poor,--
That to their agony your hearts can freeze;
Deny their pain, their toil, their slow disease;
And deem with false complaining they encroach
Upon your time and thought? Is yours the Ease
Which misery vainly struggles to approach,
Whirling unthinking by, in Luxury's gilded coach?
Examine and decide. Watch through his day
One of these little ones. The sun hath shone
An hour, and by the ruddy morning's ray,
The last and least, he saunters on alone.
See where, still pausing on the threshold stone,
He stands, as loth to lose the bracing wind;
With wistful wandering glances backward thrown
On all the light and glory left behind,
And sighs to think that HE must darkly be confined!
Enter with him. The stranger who surveys
The little natives of that dreary place
(Where squalid suffering meets his shrinking gaze),
Used to the glory of a young child's face,
Its changeful light, its coloured sparkling grace,
(Gleams of Heaven's sunshine on our shadowed earth!)
Starts at each visage wan, and bold, and base,
Whose smiles have neither innocence nor mirth,--
And comprehends the Sin original from birth.
There the pale Orphan, whose unequal strength
Loathes the incessant toil it must pursue,
Pines for the cool sweet evening's twilight length,
The sunny play-hour, and the morning's dew:
Worn with its cheerless life's monotonous hue,
Bowed down, and faint, and stupefied it stands;
Each half-seen object reeling in its view--
While its hot, trembling, languid little hands
Mechanically heed the Task-master's commands.
There, sounds of wailing grief and painful blows
Offend the ear, and startle it from rest;
(While the lungs gasp what air the place bestows
Or misery's joyless vice, the ribald jest,
Breaks the sick silence: staring at the guest
Who comes to view their labour, they beguile
The unwatched moment; whispers half supprest
And mutterings low, their faded lips defile,--
While gleams from face to face a strange and sullen smile.
These then are his Companions: he, too young
To share their base and saddening merriment,
Sits by: his little head in silence hung;
His limbs cramped up; his body weakly bent;
Toiling obedient, till long hours so spent
Produce Exhaustion's slumber, dull and deep.
The Watcher's stroke,--bold--sudden--violent,--
Urges him from that lethargy of sleep,
And bids him wake to Life,--to labour and to weep!
But the day hath its End. Forth then he hies
With jaded, faltering step, and brow of pain;
Creeps to that shed,--his HOME,--where happy lies
The sleeping babe that cannot toil for Gain;
Where his remorseful Mother tempts in vain
With the best portion of their frugal fare:
Too sick to eat--too weary to complain--
He turns him idly from the untasted share,
Slumbering sinks down unfed, and mocks her useless care.
Weeping she lifts, and lays his heavy head
(With a woman's grieving tenderness)
On the hard surface of his narrow bed;
Bends down to give a sad unfelt caress,
And turns away;--willing her God to bless,
That, weary as he is, he need not fight
Against that long-enduring bitterness,
The VOLUNTARY LABOUR of the Night,
But sweetly slumber on till day's returning light.
Vain hope! Alas! unable to forget
The anxious task's long, heavy agonies,
In broken sleep the victim labours yet!
Waiting the boding stroke that bids him rise,
He marks in restless fear each hour that flies--
Anticipates the unwelcome morning prime--
And murmuring feebly, with unwakened eyes,
'Mother! Oh Mother! is it yet THE TIME?'--
Starts at the moon's pale ray--or clock's far distant chime.
Such is his day and night! Now then return
Where your OWN slumber in protected ease;
They whom no blast may pierce, no sun may burn;
The lovely, on whose cheeks the wandering breeze
Hath left the rose's hue. Ah! not like these
Does the pale infant-labourer ask to be:
He craves no tempting food--no toys to please--
Not Idleness,--but less of agony;
Not Wealth,--but comfort, rest, CONTENTED POVERTY.
There is, among all men, in every clime,
A difference instinctive and unschooled:
God made the MIND unequal. From all time
By fierceness conquered, or by cunning fooled,
The World hath had its Rulers and its Ruled:--
Yea--uncompelled--men abdicate free choice,
Fear their own rashness, and, by thinking cooled,
Follow the counsel of some trusted voice;--
A self-elected sway, wherein their souls rejoice.
Thus, for the most part, willing to obey,
Men rarely set Authority at naught:
Albeit a weaker or a worse than they
May hold the rule with such importance fraught:
And thus the peasant, from his cradle taught
That some must own, while some must till the land,
Rebels not--murmurs not--even in his thought.
Born to his lot, he bows to high command,
And guides the furrowing plough with a contented hand.
But, if the weight which habit renders light
Is made to gall the Serf who bends below--
The dog that watched and fawned, prepares to bite!
Too rashly strained, the cord snaps from the bow--
Too tightly curbed, the steeds their riders throw--
And so, (at first contented his fair state
Of customary servitude to know,)
Too harshly ruled, the poor man learns to hate
And curse the oppressive law that bids him serve the Great.
THEN first he asks his gloomy soul the CAUSE
Of his discomfort; suddenly compares--
Reflects--and with an angry Spirit draws
The envious line between his lot and theirs,
Questioning the JUSTICE of the unequal shares.
And from the gathering of this discontent,
Where there is strength, REVOLT his standard rears;
Where there is weakness, evermore finds vent
The sharp annoying cry of sorrowful complaint.
Therefore should Mercy, gentle and serene,
Sit by the Ruler's side, and share his Throne:--
Watch with unerring eye the passing scene,
And bend her ear to mark the feeblest groan;
Lest due Authority be overthrown,
And they that ruled perceive (too late confest!)
Permitted Power might still have been their own,
Had they but watched that none should be opprest--
No just complaint despised--no WRONG left unredrest.
Nor should we, Christians in a Christian land,
Forget who smiled on helpless infancy,
And blest them with divinely gentle hand.--
'Suffer that little children come to me:'
Such were His words to whom we bow the knee!
These to our care the Saviour did commend;
And shall we His bequest treat carelessly,
Who yet our full protection would extend
To the lone Orphan child left by an Earthly Friend?
No! rather what the Inspired Law imparts
To guide our ways, and make our path more sure;
Blending with Pity (native to our hearts),
Let us to these, who patiently endure
Neglect, and penury, and toil, secure
The innocent hopes that to their age belong:
So, honouring Him, the Merciful and Pure,
Who watches when the Oppressor's arm grows strong,--
And helpeth them to right--the Weak--who suffer wrong!
War And Peace—A Poem
THOU, bright Futurity! whose prospect beams,
In dawning radiance on our day-light dreams;
Whose lambent meteors and ethereal forms
Gild the dark clouds, and glitter thro' the storms;
On thy broad canvas fancy loves to trace,
Her brilliant Iris, drest in vivid grace;
Paints fair creations in celestial dyes,
Tints of the morn and blushes of the skies;
And bids her scenes perfection's robe assume,
The mingling flush of light, and life, and bloom.
Thou bright Futurity! whose morning-star
Still beams unveil'd, unclouded, from afar;
Whose lovely vista smiling Hope surveys,
Thro' the dim twilight of the silvery haze;
Oh! let the muse expand her wing on high,
Thy shadowy realms, thy worlds unknown descry;
Let her clear eye-beam, flashing lucid light,
Chase from thy forms th' involving shades of night;
Pierce the dark clouds that veil thy noontide rays,
And soar, exulting, in meridian blaze!
In bliss, in grief, thy radiant scenes bestow,
The zest of rapture, or the balm of woe!
For, as the sun-flower to her idol turns,
Glows in his noon, and kindles as he burns;
Expands her bosom to th' exalting fire,
Lives but to gaze, and gazes to admire;
E'en so to thee, the mind incessant flies,
From thy pure source the fount of joy supplies;
And steals from thee the sunny light that throws
A brighter blush on pleasure's living rose!
To thee pale sorrow turns her eye of tears,
Lifts the dim curtain of unmeasur'd years;
And hails thy promis'd land, th' Elysian shore,
Where weeping virtue shall bewail no more!
Now, while the sounds of martial wrath assail,
While the red banner floats upon the gale;
While dark destruction, with his legion-bands,
Waves the bright sabre o'er devoted lands;
While war's dread comet flashes thro' the air,
And fainting nations tremble at the glare;
To thee, Futurity! from scenes like these,
Pale fancy turns, for heav'n-imparted ease;
Turns to behold, in thy unclouded skies,
The orb of peace in bright perspective rise;
And pour around, with joy-diffusing ray,
Life, light, and glory, in a flood of day!
Thou, whose lov'd presence and benignant smile
Has beam'd effulgence on this favour'd isle;
Thou! the fair seraph, in immortal state,
Thron'd on the rainbow, heaven's emblazon'd gate;
Thou! whose mild whispers in the summer-breeze
Control the storm, and undulate the seas;
Spirit of mercy! oh! return, to bring
Palm in thy wreath, and 'healing on thy wing!'
Compose each passion to th' eternal will,
Say to the hurricane of war,— 'Be still!'
'Vengeance, expire! thy reign, ambition, cease!
Beam, light of heaven! triumphant star of peace!'
Is this the muse's wild, illusive dream,
An airy picture, an ideal theme?
Shall death still ride victorious o'er the slain,
And his 'pale charges' desolate the plain?
Ne'er shall revenge her vulture-pinion fold,
Close her dark eye, her lightning-arm withhold?'
Still must oppression cause th' eternal strife,
And breathe dire mildew o'er the blooms of life?
Must war still ravage with his car of fire,
And victim myriads in the blaze expire?
Supernal Pow'r! on suffering earth look down,
Tyrannic might shall perish in thy frown!
Oh! deign to speed that blest, appointed time,
When peace and faith shall smile on ev'ry clime!
But first in clouds, the dark, eventful day
Of wrath, avenging wrath! must roll away!
Thy sword, oh, Justice! o'er the world must wave,
Ere mercy dawn, to triumph and to save!
Shades of the prophet-bards! majestic train,
Who seiz'd the harp from Inspiration's fane,
And, fir'd, and guided by divine control,
Woke ev'ry chord to rapture and to soul!
Shades of the prophet-bards! in days of old,
Whose gifted hands the leaf of fate unroll'd;
Whose prescient eyes, undimm'd by age or tears,
Explor'd the avenue of distant years;
Did those blest eyes th' enchanted scene survey,
Of smiling concord's universal sway?
And did your hearts with joy exulting burn,
To see her Paradise on earth return?
Yes! hallow'd seers! to you the bliss was given,
To read, unveil'd, the dread decrees of heaven!
You saw th' oppressor's might in judgment hurl'd,
A storm of vengeance on the guilty world!
Beheld his throne revers'd, his empire past,
And peace and joy descend, serene, at last!
So when impetuous winds forget to rave,
And sun-set radiance trembles o'er the wave;
Sweet Eve, advancing o'er the summer-deep,
Charms every billow, ev'ry breeze, to sleep!
Dawn, age of bliss! but e'er thy morn shall rise,
And waft a train of cherubs from the skies;
The foes of man, who mark their deathful way,
With tears of blood, and earthquakes of dismay;
These, these must fall, a desolating band,
Fall by the darts in Retribution's hand;
And tyrants vanquish'd, humbled in the dust,
Kneel at her shrine, and own the sentence just!
Then wave, oh, Albion! wave thy sword again,
Call thy brave champions to the battle-plain!
Rise, might of nations! ardent to oppose
The rushing torrent of unpitying foes!
Soon shall they own that freedom's cause inspires,
Undaunted spirit and resistless fires!
Rise! all combin'd, 'in arms, in heart, the same,'
The arms of honor and the heart of flame!
Nor check th' avenging sword, the patriot-spear;
Till stern Ambition falls, in mid career!
Then let the falchion sleep, the combat cease,
The sun of conquest light the path of peace!
Let the green laurel with the palm entwine,
And rear on trophies bright, her firm, eternal shrine!
Dawn, age of bliss! the wounds of discord close,
Furl the red standard, bid the sword repose!
Then o'er the globe let worshipp'd freedom smile,
Bright as in Albion's truth-illumin'd isle!
Her Grecian temple rear on every shore,
Where every knee shall bend and heart adore!
Queen of the valiant arm, the warrior-breast,
Light of the ocean! day-star of the west!
Oh! Albion! Liberty's immortal fane,
Empress of isles! palladium of the main!
Tho' thy loud thunders thro' the world resound,
Tho' thy red lightnings flash victorious round;
Tho' nations own, in many a distant clime,
Thy arm triumphant, as thy name sublime;
Rock of the waves! tho' proud, from zone to zone,
Extend the pillars of thy naval throne;
Around thy coast tho' wild destruction roars,
Yet calm and fertile smile thy favor'd shores;
In emerald verdure blooms thy sunny plain,
And the dark war-blast rolls without—in vain!
Tho' flames of valor, kindling in thine eye,
Brave every storm, and every foe defy;
Yet soft, beneath its milder beam, serene,
Luxuriance blossoms o'er the glowing scene;
Fair laugh thy vales! no deathful sounds assail,
Mirth warbles free, and music swells the gale;
While firm in might, thy victor-arm extends,
Death to thy foes, and succour to thy friends!
Thus potent Prospero's creative spell
Bade the wild surge in mountain-fury swell;
Call'd up the spirits of the raging deep,
Arous'd the whirlwind, o'er the waves to sweep;
But on th' enchanted isle, his fair domain,
Rais'd the bright vision of the sylphid train;
And bade soft notes, and fairy-warbled airs,
Melt o'er the sense, and lull corroding cares!
Yet, Queen of Isles! tho' peace, with angel-form,
Smile on thy cliffs, regardless of the storm;
Favor'd of heaven! e'en thou, tho' distant far,
Hast wept the horrors of relentless war;
E'en thou hast mourn'd o'er many a hero's bier,
Grac'd with thy laurels, hallow'd with thy tear!
For those whose arms, whose blood preserv'd thee free,
(Who would not bleed, O peerless isle! for thee?)
For those who, falling on their subject-wave,
Made the dark billow glory's proudest grave;
How oft has anguish taught thy tears to flow,
Thy sighs, despondence, and thine accents, woe!
Yes! thou hast mourn'd the brave, illustrious dead,
Martyrs for thee, by faith and valor led!
When he, the warrior of the patriot-glow,
Whose ebbing life-blood stain'd Canadian snow;
When thy own Wolfe, by all thy spirit fir'd,
Triumphant fought, exulted, and expir'd;
Gave to thy fame the last, the lingering breath,
The joy in agony, the smile in death,
How swell'd thy heart with blended feeling's tide,
How sorrow paled the kindling cheek of pride!
And the bright garland, purchas'd by his doom,
Seem'd half despoil'd, and withering in its bloom!
Yes! when thy Nelson, matchless in the fight,
Bade nations own thee of resistless might;
And pouring on their heads destruction's flame,
Clos'd in its dreadful blaze a life of fame;
When the red star of conquest and of pow'r
Beam'd in full zenith on his parting hour;
Dispers'd the shadows of surrounding gloom,
And shed meridian lustre—on his tomb;
Then the sad tears which mourn'd thy gallant son,
Dimm'd the fair trophies by his prowess won;
Then patriot-sighs and consecrated grief,
Embalm'd the memory of th' undaunted chief;
Pale, weeping victory tore her laurel-crown,
And tun'd to sorrow's dirge the clarion of renown!
And thou, firm leader of th' intrepid host,
Which brav'd each peril on Iberia's coast,
Thy name, oh, Moore! thro' long, succeeding years,
Shall claim the tribute of thy country's tears!
Oh! firm in faith, in countless dangers prov'd,
In spirit lofty, and by death unmov'd!
Thine was the towering soul, disdaining fear,
And fatal valor, clos'd thy bright career!
Illustrious Leader! in that hour of fate,
When hope and terror near the suff'rer wait;
When the pale cheek and fading eye proclaim
The last, long struggle of the trembling frame;
When the fierce death-pang vibrates every sense,
And fainting nature shudders in suspense;
E'en then thy bosom felt the patriot-flame,
Still beat the quivering pulse at Albion's name!
In that dread hour thy thoughts to Albion flew,
Thy parting thrill of life, thy latest throb was true!
Illustrious Leader! on that awful day,
When war and horror frown'd, in dark array;
When vengeance wav'd her fire-flag o'er the slain,
And carnage hover'd o'er Corunna's plain;
Faint with fatigue and streaming with their blood,
How nobly firm thy band of heroes stood!
'Twas their's unmov'd, unconquer'd, to oppose
Pain, famine, danger, and unnumber'd foes!
Nor toil, nor want, nor sickness then subdu'd,
The 'Lion-heart' of British fortitude!
E'en then those humbled foes their might deplor'd,
And own'd that conquest wav'd Britannia's sword!
E'en then they fought, intrepid, undismay'd,
Death in their charge and lightning on their blade!
Yes! warrior-band! by noblest ardor led,
True to the last, ye triumph'd while ye bled!
Serene in pain, exulting 'midst alarms,
Bold, firm, invincible, your matchless arms!
Then Freedom rear'd her victor-flag on high,
Glow'd in each heart and flash'd from every eye;
England! thy glory every bosom swell'd,
England! thy spirit every arm impell'd!
MOORE! thy bright sun in fame, in victory set,
Tho' dimm'd with tears, tho' clouded with regret!
Yet shall thy trophies rear, to distant time,
High on thy native shore a Cenotaph sublime.
But, ah! bold Victory! can thy festal train,
Thy purple streamers, or thy choral strain;
Can thy proud spear, in wreaths immortal drest,
Thy radiant panoply, thy wavy crest;
Can these one grief, one bosom-pang beguile,
Or teach despair one heart-reviving smile?
Tint the pale cheek with pleasure's mantling hue,
Light the dim eye with joy and lustre new?
Or check one sigh, one sad, yet fruitless tear,
Fond love devotes to martyr'd valor's bier?
Lo! where, with pallid look and suppliant hands,
Near the cold urn th' imploring mother stands!
Fix'd is her eye, her anguish cannot weep!
There all her hopes with youthful virtue sleep!
There sleeps the son, whose op'ning years display'd
Each flatt'ring promise, doom'd so soon to fade.
Too brave, too ardent, on the field he fell,
Fame hover'd near, and Conquest rung his knell.
But could their pomp console her wounded breast,
Dispel one sigh, or lull one care to rest?
Ah! suff'ring Parent! fated still to mourn,
Ah! wounded heart!—he never shall return.
He fell!—that eye of soft and varying ray,
Where warm expression kindled into day;
Where ardor sparkled, where affection beam'd,
And youth and hope in living lustre stream'd;
That voice belov'd, whose bliss-imparting-tone,
Bade her fond heart its thrilling magic own;
That mantling cheek, where animation glow'd,
Spread the rich bloom, the vivid flush bestow'd;
That brilliant eye is clos'd in shades of night,
That voice is hush'd, that cheek no longer bright!
'Twas her's, when hope one meteor-beam had giv'n,
(Fair form of light! sweet fugitive of heav'n!)
To see dark clouds obscure the rainbow-dream,
Watch its pale sun-set, and its closing gleam!
To see the last, the lingering bliss depart,
The lonely Day-star of her widow'd heart!
He fell!—her woe, her soul-consuming grief,
Mourns in no language, seeks for no relief;
Forbids the mind in sympathy to glow,
The voice to murmur, and the tear to flow;
But deep within, enshrin'd in silent sway,
Dwells on each nerve—and withers life away!
Or see you Orphan-maid, in beauty's bloom,
Fair lovely mourner o'er a Father's tomb!
For him, far distant on the battle-plain,
She pray'd, and wish'd, and wept—alas!—in vain!
No tender friend receiv'd his parting breath,
No filial sweetness cheer'd the hour of death—
For, ah! when nature most demands to share
The smile of tenderness, the hand of care;
E'en then, deserted on the field, he bled,
Unknown, unmark'd, his gallant spirit fled!
Lo! where she weeps forlorn, in anguish lost,
A frail Mimosa, blighted by the frost!
Who now shall guard the blossom of her youth,
The gem of innocence, the flower of truth?
Sweet hapless Maid! thy only friend is gone,
Hope lingering smiles, and points to heav'n alone!
Ah! who can tell the thousands doom'd to moan,
Condemn'd by war, to hopeless grief unknown!
Thou, laureate Victor! when thy blazon'd shield,
Wears the proud emblems of the conquer'd field;
When trophies glitter on thy radiant car,
And thronging myriads hail thee from afar;
When praise attunes her spirit-breathing lyre,
Swells every tone, wakes every chord of fire;
Then could thine eyes each drooping mourner see,
Behold each hopeless anguish, caus'd by thee;
Hear, for each measure of the votive strain,
The rending sigh that murmurs o'er the slain;
See, for each banner fame and victory wave,
Some sufferer bending o'er a soldier's grave;
How would that scene, with grief and horror fraught,
Chill the warm glow, and check th' exulting thought!
E'en in that hour, that gay, triumphal hour,
'Midst the bright pageants of applause and pow'r;
When at thy name th' adoring Pæans rise,
And waft thy deeds in incense to the skies;
Fame in thine eyes, would veil her towering plume,
And victory's laurels lose their fairest bloom!
Power of the ruthless arm, the deathful spear,
Unmov'd, unpitying, in thy dread career;
Whom no sad cries, no mournful scenes impede,
Melt thy proud heart, or curb thy lightning-speed;
Around whose throne malignant spirits wait,
Whose path is ruin, and whose arm is fate!
Stern, dark Ambition! Typhon of the world!
Thine are the darts, o'er man in vengeance hurl'd!
'Tis thine, where nature smiles with young delight,
With fiery wing, to spread Oppression's blight;
To blast the realms with rich profusion crown'd,
Like the dire Upas, tainting all around!
Thus o'er the southern climes, luxuriant lands,
Where spreads the olive, where the vine expands;
The dread volcano bids the torrent sweep,
Rolls the fierce lava burning down the steep;
Life, beauty, verdure, fated to destroy,
Blast every bloom, and wither every joy!
Sweet orange-groves, with fruits and blossoms fair,
Which breath'd the soul of fragrance on the air;
Vineyards that blush'd, with mantling clusters grac'd,
Gay domes, erected by the hand of taste;
These mingled all in one resistless fire,
Flame to the skies, fair nature's funeral pyre!
Ambition! vainly wouldst thou gild thy name,
With specious rays of conquest and of fame;
Truth waves her wand! from her all-piercing eye,
From her Ithuriel-spear, thy glories fly!
In vain to thee may suppliant mercy kneel,
Plead with soft voice, and deprecate the steel!
Look up, with seraph-eye, in tears benign,
Smile thro' each tear, with eloquence divine;
In vain implore thee to relent and spare,
With cherub-mien and soul-dissolving pray'r:
Lost are those accents of melodious charms,
'Midst the loud clangor of surrounding arms;
Thy heart of adamant repels the strain,
Mercy! thy pray'r, thy tear, thy hope, is vain!
But can remorse, despotic pow'r! prevail,
And wound thy bosom thro' the 'twisted mail?'
Say, can his frown, by shudd'ring conscience felt,
Pierce the dark soul which mercy cannot melt?
No, tyrant! no, when conquest points thy way,
And lights thy track—the blood-path of dismay;
E'en then his darts, tho' barb'd with fiery pain,
Fall from thy woundless heart, averted by disdain!
Pow'r of the ruthless arm! we see thy form,
Tow'r 'midst the darkness of the gath'ring storm;
We see thy sabre with portentous blaze,
Flash o'er the nations, trembling as they gaze;
And lo! we hear thine awful voice resound,
While fear and wonder faint, thro' empires round:
'Realms of the globe, submit! adore my pow'r!
Mine the red falchion, practis'd to devour!
Mine, dark destruction's torch of lucid light,
Mine, her keen scymitar's resistless might!
Chiefs! patriots! heroes! kneeling at my shrine,
Your arms, your laurels, and your fame, resign!
Bend, ye proud isles! my dread behest obey!
Yield, prostrate nations! and confess my sway!
Lo! the bright ensigns of supreme command,
Flame on my brow, and glitter in my hand!
Lo! at my throne what vanquish'd myriads wait,
My look, decision! and my sceptre, fate!
Ye lands, ye monarchs! bow the vassal-knee!
World, thou art mine! and I alone am free;
For who shall dare, with dauntless heart advance,
Rouse my dread arm, and brave my potent lance?'
Relentless pow'r! thy deeds from age to age,
Stain the fair annals of th' impartial page!
O'er the mild beam of order, silvery bright,
Long have thy votaries pour'd the clouds of night,
And chang'd the loveliest realms, where plenty smil'd,
To the lone desert and abandon'd wild!
Ye western regions of a brighter zone,
Ye lands that bow'd at Montezuma's throne;
Where vivid nature wears the richest dyes,
Matur'd to glory by exalting skies;
Scenes of luxuriance! o'er your blooming pride,
How ruin swept the desolating tide!
When the fierce Cortes pour'd his faithless train,
O'er the gay treasures of your fervid reign;
Taught the pure streams with crimson stains to flow,
Made the rich vales a wilderness of woe!
And swell'd each breeze of soft, ambrosial air,
With cries of death and murmurs of despair!
Peruvian realms! where wealth resplendent shines,
Thron'd in full glory, 'midst your diamond mines;
Where vegetation spreads her brightest hues,
Nurs'd by soft airs, and balm-descending dews;
Where all his beams, the worshipp'd sun bestows,
And Flora's empire to perfection glows;
O'er your gay plains, ambition spread alarms,
When stern Pizarro rush'd with conquering arms,
Despoil'd your wealth, and ravag'd all your charms!
Ferocious leader! his aspiring soul,
Nor fear could tame, nor social ties control!
Ardent and firm, in countless dangers bold,
Dark—savage—fierce—to faith, to mercy—cold!
Then was the sword to dire oppression giv'n,
Her vulture-wing obscur'd the light of heav'n!
Thro' many a plantain-shade, and cedar-grove,
Where the blest Indian caroll'd joy and love;
The war-note swell'd upon the zephyr's calm,
The wood-nymph, Peace, forsook her bow'rs of palm!
And Freedom fled, to Andes' heights unknown,
Majestic Solitude's primæval throne!
Where Echo sleeps, in loneliness profound,
Hears not a step, nor quivers at a sound!
Yet there the genius of eternal snows,
Mark'd far beneath, a scene of death disclose!
Saw the red combat raging on the plain,
Heard the deep dirge that murmur'd o'er the slain!
While stern Ambition wak'd th' exulting cry,
And wav'd his blazing torch, and meteor-flag, on high!
Yet, ah! not there, vindictive pow'r! alone,
Has lawless carnage rear'd thy towering throne;
For Europe's polish'd realms, thro' every age,
Have mourn'd thy triumphs and bewail'd thy rage!
Tho' soft refinement there, o'er ev'ry land,
Spread the mild empire of her silver wand;
Erect supreme, her light Corinthian fane,
Tune the sweet lyre, and modulate the strain;
Tho' Genius there, on Rapture's pinions soar,
And worlds of ether and of fire, explore;
There, tho' Religion smile with seraph-eye,
And shed her gifts, like manna, from the sky;
While Faith and Hope, exulting in her sight,
Pour the full noon of glory's living light;
There still Ambition bids his victims bleed,
Still rolls his whirlwind, with destructive speed!
Still in his flame, devoted realms consume,
Fled is their smile and wither'd is their bloom!
With every charm has Nature's lavish hand
Adorn'd, sweet Italy! thy favor'd land!
There Summer laughs, with glowing aspect fair,
Unfolds her tints, and 'waves her golden hair;'
Bids her light sylphs delicious airs convey,
On their soft pinions, waving as they play;
O'er cluster'd grapes, the lucid mantle throw,
And spread gay life in one empurpling glow?
Paint all the rainbow on perennial flow'rs,
And shed exuberance o'er thy myrtle-bow'rs!
Verdure in ev'ry shade thy woods display,
Where soft gradations melt in light away!
And vernal sweets, in rich profusion blow,
E'en 'midst the reign of solitude and snow!
Yet what avail the bright ambrosial stores,
Which gay redundance o'er thy region pours?
Devoted land! from long-departed time,
The chosen theatre of war and crime!
What tho' for thee transcendent suns arise,
The myrtle blossoms, and the zephyr sighs;
What tho' for thee again Arcadia blooms,
And cloudless radiance all thy realm illumes;
There still has Rapine seiz'd her yielding prey,
There still Oppression spreads th' unbounded sway;
There oft has War each blooming charm effac'd,
And left the glowing vale, a bleak, deserted waste!
Is there a land, where halcyon peace has reign'd,
From age to age, in glory unprofan'd?
Has dwelt serenely in perpetual rest,
'Heav'n in her eye,' and mercy in her breast?
Ah, no! from clime to clime, with ruthless train,
Has war still ravag'd o'er the blasted plain!
His lofty banner to the winds unfurl'd,
And swept the storm of vengeance o'er the world!
Yet, oh! stern GOD! if ever conscious right,
If ever justice arm'd thee for the fight;
If e'er fair truth approv'd thy dread career,
Smil'd on thy track and curb'd thy deathful spear;
Now may the generous heart exulting see,
Those righteous powers in amity with thee!
For never, never, in a holier cause,
Nor sanction'd e'er by purer, nobler laws;
Has Albion seiz'd the sabre and the shield,
Or rush'd impetuous to th' ensanguin'd field!
Oh! when that cause triumphant shall prevail,
And Freedom's foes her ark no more assail;
Then might thy smile, sweet Peace! thy angel-form,
Beam thro' the clouds, and tranquillize the storm!
Lo! to the Muse's bright, prophetic eyes,
What scenes unfold! what radiant visions rise!
See hand in hand, and wafted from above,
Celestial Mercy, and angelic love!
Lo! from the regions of the morning-star,
Descending seraphs bear their sun-bright car!
'High the peaceful streamers wave!
'Lo!’ they sing, 'we come to save!
'Come to smile on ev'ry shore,
'Truth and Eden to restore!
'Come, the balm of joy to bring,
'Borne on softest gales of spring!
'Rapture! swell the choral voice,
'Favor'd earth! rejoice, rejoice!
'Now the work of death is o'er,
'Sleep, thou sword! to wake no more!
'Never more Ambition's hand
'Shall wave thee o'er a trembling land!
'Never more, in hopeless anguish,
'Caus'd by thee, shall virtue languish!
'Rapture! swell the choral voice,
'Favor'd earth, rejoice, rejoice!
'Cease to flow, thou purple flood,
'Cease to fall, ye tears of blood!
'Swell no more the clarion's breath,
'Wake no more the song of death!
'Rise, ye hymns of concord, rise,
'Incense, worthy of the skies!
'Wake the Pæan, tune the voice,
'Favor'd earth, rejoice, rejoice!
'Nature, smile! thy vivid grace,
'Now no more shall war deface;
'Airs of spring, oh! sweetly breathe,
'Summer! twine thy fairest wreath!
'Not the warrior's bier to spread,
'Not to crown the victor's head;
'But with flowers of every hue,
'Love and mercy's path to strew!
'Swell to heaven the choral voice,
'Favor'd earth! rejoice, rejoice!
'Sleep, Ambition! rage, expire!
'Vengeance! fold thy wing of fire!
'Close thy dark and lurid eye,
'Bid thy torch, forsaken, die!
'Furl thy banner, waving proud,
'Dreadful as the thunder-cloud!
'Shall destruction blast the plain?
'Shall the falchion rage again?
'Shall the sword thy bands dissever?
'Never, sweet Affection! never!
'As the halcyon o'er the ocean,
'Lulls the billow's wild commotion,
'So we bid dissension cease.
'Bloom, O Amaranth of peace!
'Twine the spear with vernal roses!
'Now the reign of discord closes!
'Goddess of th' unconquer'd isles,
'Freedom! triumph in our smiles!
'Blooming youth, and wisdom hoary,
'Bards of fame, and sons of glory;
'Albion! pillar of the main!
'Monarchs! nations! join the strain!
'Swell to heav'n th' exulting voice;
'Mortals, triumph! earth, rejoice!'
Oh! blissful song! and shall thy notes resound,
While joy and wonder bend entranc'd around?
And shall thy music float on every breeze,
Melt on the shores and warble o'er the seas?
Oh! mercy! love! ambassadors of heav'n!
And shall your sunshine to mankind be giv'n?
Hope! is thy tale a visionary theme?
Oh! smile, supernal pow'r! and realize the dream!
And thou, the radiant messenger of truth,
Deck'd with perennial charms, unfading youth!
Oh! thou, whose pinions as they wave, diffuse
All Hybla's fragrance and all Hermon's dews;
Thou! in whose cause have martyrs died serene,
In soul triumphant, and august in mien!
Oh! bright Religion! spread thy spotless robe,
Salvation's mantle, o'er a guilty globe!
Oh! let thine ark, where'er the billows roll,
Borne on their bosom, float from pole to pole!
Each distant isle and lonely coast explore,
And bear the olive-branch to ev'ry shore!
Come, Seraph! come: fair pity in thy train,
Shall sweetly breathe her soul-dissolving strain;
While her blue eyes thro' tears benignly beam,
Soft as the moon-light, quivering on the stream!
Come, Seraph! come, around thy form shall play,
Diffusive glories of celestial day!
Oh! let each clime thy noon of lustre share,
And rapture hail the perfect and the fair!
Let peace on earth resound from heav'n once more,
And angel-harps th' exulting anthems pour;
While faith, and truth, and holy wisdom bind,
One hallow'd zone—to circle all mankind!
The Iliad: Book 6
The fight between Trojans and Achaeans was now left to rage as it
would, and the tide of war surged hither and thither over the plain as
they aimed their bronze-shod spears at one another between the streams
of Simois and Xanthus.
First, Ajax son of Telamon, tower of strength to the Achaeans, broke
a phalanx of the Trojans, and came to the assistance of his comrades
by killing Acamas son of Eussorus, the best man among the Thracians,
being both brave and of great stature. The spear struck the projecting
peak of his helmet: its bronze point then went through his forehead
into the brain, and darkness veiled his eyes.
Then Diomed killed Axylus son of Teuthranus, a rich man who lived in
the strong city of Arisbe, and was beloved by all men; for he had a
house by the roadside, and entertained every one who passed; howbeit
not one of his guests stood before him to save his life, and Diomed
killed both him and his squire Calesius, who was then his
charioteer- so the pair passed beneath the earth.
Euryalus killed Dresus and Opheltius, and then went in pursuit of
Aesepus and Pedasus, whom the naiad nymph Abarbarea had borne to noble
Bucolion. Bucolion was eldest son to Laomedon, but he was a bastard.
While tending his sheep he had converse with the nymph, and she
conceived twin sons; these the son of Mecisteus now slew, and he
stripped the armour from their shoulders. Polypoetes then killed
Astyalus, Ulysses Pidytes of Percote, and Teucer Aretaon. Ablerus fell
by the spear of Nestor's son Antilochus, and Agamemnon, king of men,
killed Elatus who dwelt in Pedasus by the banks of the river
Satnioeis. Leitus killed Phylacus as he was flying, and Eurypylus slew
Then Menelaus of the loud war-cry took Adrestus alive, for his
horses ran into a tamarisk bush, as they were flying wildly over the
plain, and broke the pole from the car; they went on towards the
city along with the others in full flight, but Adrestus rolled out,
and fell in the dust flat on his face by the wheel of his chariot;
Menelaus came up to him spear in hand, but Adrestus caught him by
the knees begging for his life. "Take me alive," he cried, "son of
Atreus, and you shall have a full ransom for me: my father is rich and
has much treasure of gold, bronze, and wrought iron laid by in his
house. From this store he will give you a large ransom should he
hear of my being alive and at the ships of the Achaeans."
Thus did he plead, and Menelaus was for yielding and giving him to a
squire to take to the ships of the Achaeans, but Agamemnon came
running up to him and rebuked him. "My good Menelaus," said he,
"this is no time for giving quarter. Has, then, your house fared so
well at the hands of the Trojans? Let us not spare a single one of
them- not even the child unborn and in its mother's womb; let not a
man of them be left alive, but let all in Ilius perish, unheeded and
Thus did he speak, and his brother was persuaded by him, for his
words were just. Menelaus, therefore, thrust Adrestus from him,
whereon King Agamemnon struck him in the flank, and he fell: then
the son of Atreus planted his foot upon his breast to draw his spear
from the body.
Meanwhile Nestor shouted to the Argives, saying, "My friends, Danaan
warriors, servants of Mars, let no man lag that he may spoil the dead,
and bring back much booty to the ships. Let us kill as many as we can;
the bodies will lie upon the plain, and you can despoil them later
at your leisure."
With these words he put heart and soul into them all. And now the
Trojans would have been routed and driven back into Ilius, had not
Priam's son Helenus, wisest of augurs, said to Hector and Aeneas,
"Hector and Aeneas, you two are the mainstays of the Trojans and
Lycians, for you are foremost at all times, alike in fight and
counsel; hold your ground here, and go about among the host to rally
them in front of the gates, or they will fling themselves into the
arms of their wives, to the great joy of our foes. Then, when you have
put heart into all our companies, we will stand firm here and fight
the Danaans however hard they press us, for there is nothing else to
be done. Meanwhile do you, Hector, go to the city and tell our
mother what is happening. Tell her to bid the matrons gather at the
temple of Minerva in the acropolis; let her then take her key and open
the doors of the sacred building; there, upon the knees of Minerva,
let her lay the largest, fairest robe she has in her house- the one
she sets most store by; let her, moreover, promise to sacrifice twelve
yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad, in the temple of
the goddess, if she will take pity on the town, with the wives and
little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus from falling on
the goodly city of Ilius; for he fights with fury and fills men's
souls with panic. I hold him mightiest of them all; we did not fear
even their great champion Achilles, son of a goddess though he be,
as we do this man: his rage is beyond all bounds, and there is none
can vie with him in prowess"
Hector did as his brother bade him. He sprang from his chariot,
and went about everywhere among the host, brandishing his spears,
urging the men on to fight, and raising the dread cry of battle.
Thereon they rallied and again faced the Achaeans, who gave ground and
ceased their murderous onset, for they deemed that some one of the
immortals had come down from starry heaven to help the Trojans, so
strangely had they rallied. And Hector shouted to the Trojans,
"Trojans and allies, be men, my friends, and fight with might and
main, while I go to Ilius and tell the old men of our council and
our wives to pray to the gods and vow hecatombs in their honour."
With this he went his way, and the black rim of hide that went round
his shield beat against his neck and his ancles.
Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus went into the
open space between the hosts to fight in single combat. When they were
close up to one another Diomed of the loud war-cry was the first to
speak. "Who, my good sir," said he, "who are you among men? I have
never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all
others if you abide my onset. Woe to those fathers whose sons face
my might. If, however, you are one of the immortals and have come down
from heaven, I will not fight you; for even valiant Lycurgus, son of
Dryas, did not live long when he took to fighting with the gods. He it
was that drove the nursing women who were in charge of frenzied
Bacchus through the land of Nysa, and they flung their thyrsi on the
ground as murderous Lycurgus beat them with his oxgoad. Bacchus
himself plunged terror-stricken into the sea, and Thetis took him to
her bosom to comfort him, for he was scared by the fury with which the
man reviled him. Thereon the gods who live at ease were angry with
Lycurgus and the son of Saturn struck him blind, nor did he live
much longer after he had become hateful to the immortals. Therefore
I will not fight with the blessed gods; but if you are of them that
eat the fruit of the ground, draw near and meet your doom."
And the son of Hippolochus answered, son of Tydeus, why ask me of my
lineage? Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees.
Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring
returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the
generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away.
If, then, you would learn my descent, it is one that is well known
to many. There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of
horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest
of all mankind. He was the son of Aeolus, and had a son named Glaucus,
who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most
surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and
being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over
which Jove had made him ruler. For Antea, wife of Proetus, lusted
after him, and would have had him lie with her in secret; but
Bellerophon was an honourable man and would not, so she told lies
about him to Proteus. 'Proetus,' said she, 'kill Bellerophon or die,
for he would have had converse with me against my will.' The king
was angered, but shrank from killing Bellerophon, so he sent him to
Lycia with lying letters of introduction, written on a folded
tablet, and containing much ill against the bearer. He bade
Bellerophon show these letters to his father-in-law, to the end that
he might thus perish; Bellerophon therefore went to Lycia, and the
gods convoyed him safely.
"When he reached the river Xanthus, which is in Lycia, the king
received him with all goodwill, feasted him nine days, and killed nine
heifers in his honour, but when rosy-fingered morning appeared upon
the tenth day, he questioned him and desired to see the letter from
his son-in-law Proetus. When he had received the wicked letter he
first commanded Bellerophon to kill that savage monster, the Chimaera,
who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a
lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and
she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he
was guided by signs from heaven. He next fought the far-famed
Solymi, and this, he said, was the hardest of all his battles.
Thirdly, he killed the Amazons, women who were the peers of men, and
as he was returning thence the king devised yet another plan for his
destruction; he picked the bravest warriors in all Lycia, and placed
them in ambuscade, but not a man ever came back, for Bellerophon
killed every one of them. Then the king knew that he must be the
valiant offspring of a god, so he kept him in Lycia, gave him his
daughter in marriage, and made him of equal honour in the kingdom with
himself; and the Lycians gave him a piece of land, the best in all the
country, fair with vineyards and tilled fields, to have and to hold.
"The king's daughter bore Bellerophon three children, Isander,
Hippolochus, and Laodameia. Jove, the lord of counsel, lay with
Laodameia, and she bore him noble Sarpedon; but when Bellerophon
came to be hated by all the gods, he wandered all desolate and
dismayed upon the Alean plain, gnawing at his own heart, and
shunning the path of man. Mars, insatiate of battle, killed his son
Isander while he was fighting the Solymi; his daughter was killed by
Diana of the golden reins, for she was angered with her; but
Hippolochus was father to myself, and when he sent me to Troy he urged
me again and again to fight ever among the foremost and outvie my
peers, so as not to shame the blood of my fathers who were the noblest
in Ephyra and in all Lycia. This, then, is the descent I claim."
Thus did he speak, and the heart of Diomed was glad. He planted
his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. "Then,"
he said, you are an old friend of my father's house. Great Oeneus once
entertained Bellerophon for twenty days, and the two exchanged
presents. Oeneus gave a belt rich with purple, and Bellerophon a
double cup, which I left at home when I set out for Troy. I do not
remember Tydeus, for he was taken from us while I was yet a child,
when the army of the Achaeans was cut to pieces before Thebes.
Henceforth, however, I must be your host in middle Argos, and you mine
in Lycia, if I should ever go there; let us avoid one another's spears
even during a general engagement; there are many noble Trojans and
allies whom I can kill, if I overtake them and heaven delivers them
into my hand; so again with yourself, there are many Achaeans whose
lives you may take if you can; we two, then, will exchange armour,
that all present may know of the old ties that subsist between us."
With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one
another's hands, and plighted friendship. But the son of Saturn made
Glaucus take leave of his wits, for he exchanged golden armour for
bronze, the worth of a hundred head of cattle for the worth of nine.
Now when Hector reached the Scaean gates and the oak tree, the wives
and daughters of the Trojans came running towards him to ask after
their sons, brothers, kinsmen, and husbands: he told them to set about
praying to the gods, and many were made sorrowful as they heard him.
Presently he reached the splendid palace of King Priam, adorned with
colonnades of hewn stone. In it there were fifty bedchambers- all of
hewn stone- built near one another, where the sons of Priam slept,
each with his wedded wife. Opposite these, on the other side the
courtyard, there were twelve upper rooms also of hewn stone for
Priam's daughters, built near one another, where his sons-in-law slept
with their wives. When Hector got there, his fond mother came up to
him with Laodice the fairest of her daughters. She took his hand
within her own and said, "My son, why have you left the battle to come
hither? Are the Achaeans, woe betide them, pressing you hard about the
city that you have thought fit to come and uplift your hands to Jove
from the citadel? Wait till I can bring you wine that you may make
offering to Jove and to the other immortals, and may then drink and be
refreshed. Wine gives a man fresh strength when he is wearied, as
you now are with fighting on behalf of your kinsmen."
And Hector answered, "Honoured mother, bring no wine, lest you unman
me and I forget my strength. I dare not make a drink-offering to
Jove with unwashed hands; one who is bespattered with blood and
filth may not pray to the son of Saturn. Get the matrons together, and
go with offerings to the temple of Minerva driver of the spoil; there,
upon the knees of Minerva, lay the largest and fairest robe you have
in your house- the one you set most store by; promise, moreover, to
sacrifice twelve yearling heifers that have never yet felt the goad,
in the temple of the goddess if she will take pity on the town, with
the wives and little ones of the Trojans, and keep the son of Tydeus
from off the goodly city of Ilius, for he fights with fury, and
fills men's souls with panic. Go, then, to the temple of Minerva,
while I seek Paris and exhort him, if he will hear my words. Would
that the earth might open her jaws and swallow him, for Jove bred
him to be the bane of the Trojans, and of Priam and Priam's sons.
Could I but see him go down into the house of Hades, my heart would
forget its heaviness."
His mother went into the house and called her waiting-women who
gathered the matrons throughout the city. She then went down into
her fragrant store-room, where her embroidered robes were kept, the
work of Sidonian women, whom Alexandrus had brought over from Sidon
when he sailed the seas upon that voyage during which he carried off
Helen. Hecuba took out the largest robe, and the one that was most
beautifully enriched with embroidery, as an offering to Minerva: it
glittered like a star, and lay at the very bottom of the chest. With
this she went on her way and many matrons with her.
When they reached the temple of Minerva, lovely Theano, daughter
of Cisseus and wife of Antenor, opened the doors, for the Trojans
had made her priestess of Minerva. The women lifted up their hands
to the goddess with a loud cry, and Theano took the robe to lay it
upon the knees of Minerva, praying the while to the daughter of
great Jove. "Holy Minerva," she cried, "protectress of our city,
mighty goddess, break the spear of Diomed and lay him low before the
Scaean gates. Do this, and we will sacrifice twelve heifers that
have never yet known the goad, in your temple, if you will have pity
upon the town, with the wives and little ones If the Trojans." Thus
she prayed, but Pallas Minerva granted not her prayer.
While they were thus praying to the daughter of great Jove, Hector
went to the fair house of Alexandrus, which he had built for him by
the foremost builders in the land. They had built him his house,
storehouse, and courtyard near those of Priam and Hector on the
acropolis. Here Hector entered, with a spear eleven cubits long in his
hand; the bronze point gleamed in front of him, and was fastened to
the shaft of the spear by a ring of gold. He found Alexandrus within
the house, busied about his armour, his shield and cuirass, and
handling his curved bow; there, too, sat Argive Helen with her
women, setting them their several tasks; and as Hector saw him he
rebuked him with words of scorn. "Sir," said he, "you do ill to
nurse this rancour; the people perish fighting round this our town;
you would yourself chide one whom you saw shirking his part in the
combat. Up then, or ere long the city will be in a blaze."
And Alexandrus answered, "Hector, your rebuke is just; listen
therefore, and believe me when I tell you that I am not here so much
through rancour or ill-will towards the Trojans, as from a desire to
indulge my grief. My wife was even now gently urging me to battle, and
I hold it better that I should go, for victory is ever fickle. Wait,
then, while I put on my armour, or go first and I will follow. I shall
be sure to overtake you."
Hector made no answer, but Helen tried to soothe him. "Brother,"
said she, "to my abhorred and sinful self, would that a whirlwind
had caught me up on the day my mother brought me forth, and had
borne me to some mountain or to the waves of the roaring sea that
should have swept me away ere this mischief had come about. But, since
the gods have devised these evils, would, at any rate, that I had been
wife to a better man- to one who could smart under dishonour and men's
evil speeches. This fellow was never yet to be depended upon, nor
never will be, and he will surely reap what he has sown. Still,
brother, come in and rest upon this seat, for it is you who bear the
brunt of that toil that has been caused by my hateful self and by
the sin of Alexandrus- both of whom Jove has doomed to be a theme of
song among those that shall be born hereafter."
And Hector answered, "Bid me not be seated, Helen, for all the
goodwill you bear me. I cannot stay. I am in haste to help the
Trojans, who miss me greatly when I am not among them; but urge your
husband, and of his own self also let him make haste to overtake me
before I am out of the city. I must go home to see my household, my
wife and my little son, for I know not whether I shall ever again
return to them, or whether the gods will cause me to fill by the hands
of the Achaeans."
Then Hector left her, and forthwith was at his own house. He did not
find Andromache, for she was on the wall with her child and one of her
maids, weeping bitterly. Seeing, then, that she was not within, he
stood on the threshold of the women's rooms and said, "Women, tell me,
and tell me true, where did Andromache go when she left the house? Was
it to my sisters, or to my brothers' wives? or is she at the temple of
Minerva where the other women are propitiating the awful goddess?"
His good housekeeper answered, "Hector, since you bid me tell you
truly, she did not go to your sisters nor to your brothers' wives, nor
yet to the temple of Minerva, where the other women are propitiating
the awful goddess, but she is on the high wall of Ilius, for she had
heard the Trojans were being hard pressed, and that the Achaeans
were in great force: she went to the wall in frenzied haste, and the
nurse went with her carrying the child."
Hector hurried from the house when she had done speaking, and went
down the streets by the same way that he had come. When he had gone
through the city and had reached the Scaean gates through which he
would go out on to the plain, his wife came running towards him,
Andromache, daughter of great Eetion who ruled in Thebe under the
wooded slopes of Mt. Placus, and was king of the Cilicians. His
daughter had married Hector, and now came to meet him with a nurse who
carried his little child in her bosom- a mere babe. Hector's darling
son, and lovely as a star. Hector had named him Scamandrius, but the
people called him Astyanax, for his father stood alone as chief
guardian of Ilius. Hector smiled as he looked upon the boy, but he did
not speak, and Andromache stood by him weeping and taking his hand
in her own. "Dear husband," said she, "your valour will bring you to
destruction; think on your infant son, and on my hapless self who
ere long shall be your widow- for the Achaeans will set upon you in
a body and kill you. It would be better for me, should I lose you,
to lie dead and buried, for I shall have nothing left to comfort me
when you are gone, save only sorrow. I have neither father nor
mother now. Achilles slew my father when he sacked Thebe the goodly
city of the Cilicians. He slew him, but did not for very shame despoil
him; when he had burned him in his wondrous armour, he raised a barrow
over his ashes and the mountain nymphs, daughters of aegis-bearing
Jove, planted a grove of elms about his tomb. I had seven brothers
in my father's house, but on the same day they all went within the
house of Hades. Achilles killed them as they were with their sheep and
cattle. My mother- her who had been queen of all the land under Mt.
Placus- he brought hither with the spoil, and freed her for a great
sum, but the archer- queen Diana took her in the house of your father.
Nay- Hector- you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear
husband- have mercy upon me; stay here upon this wall; make not your
child fatherless, and your wife a widow; as for the host, place them
near the fig-tree, where the city can be best scaled, and the wall
is weakest. Thrice have the bravest of them come thither and
assailed it, under the two Ajaxes, Idomeneus, the sons of Atreus,
and the brave son of Tydeus, either of their own bidding, or because
some soothsayer had told them."
And Hector answered, "Wife, I too have thought upon all this, but
with what face should I look upon the Trojans, men or women, if I
shirked battle like a coward? I cannot do so: I know nothing save to
fight bravely in the forefront of the Trojan host and win renown alike
for my father and myself. Well do I know that the day will surely come
when mighty Ilius shall be destroyed with Priam and Priam's people,
but I grieve for none of these- not even for Hecuba, nor King Priam,
nor for my brothers many and brave who may fall in the dust before
their foes- for none of these do I grieve as for yourself when the day
shall come on which some one of the Achaeans shall rob you for ever of
your freedom, and bear you weeping away. It may be that you will
have to ply the loom in Argos at the bidding of a mistress, or to
fetch water from the springs Messeis or Hypereia, treated brutally
by some cruel task-master; then will one say who sees you weeping,
'She was wife to Hector, the bravest warrior among the Trojans
during the war before Ilius.' On this your tears will break forth anew
for him who would have put away the day of captivity from you. May I
lie dead under the barrow that is heaped over my body ere I hear
your cry as they carry you into bondage."
He stretched his arms towards his child, but the boy cried and
nestled in his nurse's bosom, scared at the sight of his father's
armour, and at the horse-hair plume that nodded fiercely from his
helmet. His father and mother laughed to see him, but Hector took
the helmet from his head and laid it all gleaming upon the ground.
Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his
arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods.
"Jove," he cried, "grant that this my child may be even as myself,
chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength,
and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he
comes from battle, 'The son is far better than the father.' May he
bring back the blood-stained spoils of him whom he has laid low, and
let his mother's heart be glad.'"
With this he laid the child again in the arms of his wife, who
took him to her own soft bosom, smiling through her tears. As her
husband watched her his heart yearned towards her and he caressed
her fondly, saying, "My own wife, do not take these things too
bitterly to heart. No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time,
but if a man's hour is come, be he brave or be he coward, there is
no escape for him when he has once been born. Go, then, within the
house, and busy yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your
distaff, and the ordering of your servants; for war is man's matter,
and mine above all others of them that have been born in Ilius."
He took his plumed helmet from the ground, and his wife went back
again to her house, weeping bitterly and often looking back towards
him. When she reached her home she found her maidens within, and
bade them all join in her lament; so they mourned Hector in his own
house though he was yet alive, for they deemed that they should
never see him return safe from battle, and from the furious hands of
Paris did not remain long in his house. He donned his goodly
armour overlaid with bronze, and hasted through the city as fast as
his feet could take him. As a horse, stabled and fed, breaks loose and
gallops gloriously over the plain to the place where he is wont to
bathe in the fair-flowing river- he holds his head high, and his
mane streams upon his shoulders as he exults in his strength and flies
like the wind to the haunts and feeding ground of the mares- even so
went forth Paris from high Pergamus, gleaming like sunlight in his
armour, and he laughed aloud as he sped swiftly on his way.
Forthwith he came upon his brother Hector, who was then turning away
from the place where he had held converse with his wife, and he was
himself the first to speak. "Sir," said he, "I fear that I have kept
you waiting when you are in haste, and have not come as quickly as you
"My good brother," answered Hector, you fight bravely, and no man
with any justice can make light of your doings in battle. But you
are careless and wilfully remiss. It grieves me to the heart to hear
the ill that the Trojans speak about you, for they have suffered
much on your account. Let us be going, and we will make things right
hereafter, should Jove vouchsafe us to set the cup of our
deliverance before ever-living gods of heaven in our own homes, when
we have chased the Achaeans from Troy."