Hamlet: Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! what
replication should be made by the son of a king?
Goliath Of Gath
SAMUEL, Chap. xvii.
YE martial pow'rs, and all ye tuneful nine,
Inspire my song, and aid my high design.
The dreadful scenes and toils of war I write,
The ardent warriors, and the fields of fight:
You best remember, and you best can sing
The acts of heroes to the vocal string:
Resume the lays with which your sacred lyre,
Did then the poet and the sage inspire.
Now front to front the armies were display'd,
Here Israel rang'd, and there the foes array'd;
The hosts on two opposing mountains stood,
Thick as the foliage of the waving wood;
Between them an extensive valley lay,
O'er which the gleaming armour pour'd the day,
When from the camp of the Philistine foes,
Dreadful to view, a mighty warrior rose;
In the dire deeds of bleeding battle skill'd,
The monster stalks the terror of the field.
From Gath he sprung, Goliath was his name,
Of fierce deportment, and gigantic frame:
A brazen helmet on his head was plac'd,
A coat of mail his form terrific grac'd,
The greaves his legs, the targe his shoulders prest:
Dreadful in arms high-tow'ring o'er the rest
A spear he proudly wav'd, whose iron head,
Strange to relate, six hundred shekels weigh'd;
He strode along, and shook the ample field,
While Phoebus blaz'd refulgent on his shield:
Through Jacob's race a chilling horror ran,
When thus the huge, enormous chief began:
"Say, what the cause that in this proud array
"You set your battle in the face of day?
"One hero find in all your vaunting train,
"Then see who loses, and who wins the plain;
"For he who wins, in triumph may demand
"Perpetual service from the vanquish'd land:
"Your armies I defy, your force despise,
"By far inferior in Philistia's eyes:
"Produce a man, and let us try the fight,
"Decide the contest, and the victor's right."
Thus challeng'd he: all Israel stood amaz'd,
And ev'ry chief in consternation gaz'd;
But Jesse's son in youthful bloom appears,
And warlike courage far beyond his years:
He left the folds, he left the flow'ry meads,
And soft recesses of the sylvan shades.
Now Israel's monarch, and his troops arise,
With peals of shouts ascending to the skies;
In Elah's vale the scene of combat lies.
When the fair morning blush'd with orient red,
What David's fire enjoin'd the son obey'd,
And swift of foot towards the trench he came,
Where glow'd each bosom with the martial flame.
He leaves his carriage to another's care,
And runs to greet his brethren of the war.
While yet they spake the giant-chief arose,
Repeats the challenge, and insults his foes:
Struck with the sound, and trembling at the view,
Affrighted Israel from its post withdrew.
"Observe ye this tremendous foe, they cry'd,
"Who in proud vaunts our armies hath defy'd:
"Whoever lays him prostrate on the plain,
"Freedom in Israel for his house shall gain;
"And on him wealth unknown the king will pour,
"And give his royal daughter for his dow'r."
Then Jesse's youngest hope: "My brethren say,
"What shall be done for him who takes away
"Reproach from Jacob, who destroys the chief.
"And puts a period to his country's grief.
"He vaunts the honours of his arms abroad,
"And scorns the armies of the living God."
Thus spoke the youth, th' attentive people ey'd
The wond'rous hero, and again reply'd:
"Such the rewards our monarch will bestow,
"On him who conquers, and destroys his foe."
Eliab heard, and kindled into ire
To hear his shepherd brother thus inquire,
And thus begun: "What errand brought thee? say
"Who keeps thy flock? or does it go astray?
"I know the base ambition of thine heart,
"But back in safety from the field depart."
Eliab thus to Jesse's youngest heir,
Express'd his wrath in accents most severe.
When to his brother mildly he reply'd.
"What have I done? or what the cause to chide?
The words were told before the king, who sent
For the young hero to his royal tent:
Before the monarch dauntless he began,
"For this Philistine fail no heart of man:
"I'll take the vale, and with the giant fight:
"I dread not all his boasts, nor all his might."
When thus the king: "Dar'st thou a stripling go,
"And venture combat with so great a foe?
"Who all his days has been inur'd to fight,
"And made its deeds his study and delight:
"Battles and bloodshed brought the monster forth,
"And clouds and whirlwinds usher'd in his birth."
When David thus: "I kept the fleecy care,
"And out there rush'd a lion and a bear;
"A tender lamb the hungry lion took,
"And with no other weapon than my crook
"Bold I pursu'd, and chas d him o'er the field,
"The prey deliver'd, and the felon kill'd:
"As thus the lion and the bear I slew,
"So shall Goliath fall, and all his crew:
"The God, who sav'd me from these beasts of prey,
"By me this monster in the dust shall lay."
So David spoke. The wond'ring king reply'd;
"Go thou with heav'n and victory on thy side:
"This coat of mail, this sword gird on," he said,
And plac'd a mighty helmet on his head:
The coat, the sword, the helm he laid aside,
Nor chose to venture with those arms untry'd,
Then took his staff, and to the neighb'ring brook
Instant he ran, and thence five pebbles took.
Mean time descended to Philistia's son
A radiant cherub, and he thus begun:
"Goliath, well thou know'st thou hast defy'd
"Yon Hebrew armies, and their God deny'd:
"Rebellious wretch! audacious worm! forbear,
"Nor tempt the vengeance of their God too far:
"Them, who with his Omnipotence contend,
"No eye shall pity, and no arm defend:
"Proud as thou art, in short liv'd glory great,
"I come to tell thee thine approaching fate.
"Regard my words. The Judge of all the gods,
"Beneath whose steps the tow'ring mountain nods,
"Will give thine armies to the savage brood,
"That cut the liquid air, or range the wood.
"Thee too a well-aim'd pebble shall destroy,
"And thou shalt perish by a beardless boy:
"Such is the mandate from the realms above,
"And should I try the vengeance to remove,
"Myself a rebel to my king would prove.
"Goliath say, shall grace to him be shown,
"Who dares heav'ns Monarch, and insults his throne?"
"Your words are lost on me," the giant cries,
While fear and wrath contended in his eyes,
When thus the messenger from heav'n replies:
"Provoke no more Jehovah's awful hand
"To hurl its vengeance on thy guilty land:
"He grasps the thunder, and, he wings the storm,
"Servants their sov'reign's orders to perform."
The angel spoke, and turn'd his eyes away,
Adding new radiance to the rising day.
Now David comes: the fatal stones demand
His left, the staff engag'd his better hand:
The giant mov'd, and from his tow'ring height
Survey'd the stripling, and disdain'd the fight,
And thus began: "Am I a dog with thee?
"Bring'st thou no armour, but a staff to me?
"The gods on thee their vollied curses pour,
"And beasts and birds of prey thy flesh devour."
David undaunted thus, "Thy spear and shield
"Shall no protection to thy body yield:
"Jehovah's name------no other arms I bear,
"I ask no other in this glorious war.
"To-day the Lord of Hosts to me will give
"Vict'ry, to-day thy doom thou shalt receive;
"The fate you threaten shall your own become,
"And beasts shall be your animated tomb,
"That all the earth's inhabitants may know
"That there's a God, who governs all below:
"This great assembly too shall witness stand,
"That needs nor sword, nor spear, th' Almighty's
"The battle his, the conquest he bestows,
"And to our pow'r consigns our hated foes."
Thus David spoke; Goliath heard and came
To meet the hero in the field of fame.
Ah! fatal meeting to thy troops and thee,
But thou wast deaf to the divine decree;
Young David meets thee, meets thee not in vain;
'Tis thine to perish on th' ensanguin'd plain.
And now the youth the forceful pebble slung
Philistia trembled as it whizz'd along:
In his dread forehead, where the helmet ends,
Just o'er the brows the well-aim'd stone descends,
It pierc'd the skull, and shatter'd all the brain,
Prone on his face he tumbled to the plain:
Goliath's fall no smaller terror yields
Than riving thunders in aerial fields:
The soul still ling'red in its lov'd abode,
Till conq'ring David o'er the giant strode:
Goliath's sword then laid its master dead,
And from the body hew'd the ghastly head;
The blood in gushing torrents drench'd the plains,
The soul found passage through the spouting veins.
And now aloud th' illustrious victor said,
"Where are your boastings now your champion's
Scarce had he spoke, when the Philistines fled:
But fled in vain; the conqu'ror swift pursu'd:
What scenes of slaughter! and what seas of blood!
There Saul thy thousands grasp'd th' impurpled sand
In pangs of death the conquest of thine hand;
And David there were thy ten thousands laid:
Thus Israel's damsels musically play'd.
Near Gath and Edron many an hero lay,
Breath'd out their souls, and curs'd the light of day:
Their fury, quench'd by death, no longer burns,
And David with Goliath's head returns,
To Salem brought, but in his tent he plac'd
The load of armour which the giant grac'd.
His monarch saw him coming from the war,
And thus demanded of the son of Ner.
"Say, who is this amazing youth?" he cry'd,
When thus the leader of the host reply'd;
"As lives thy soul I know not whence he sprung,
"So great in prowess though in years so young:"
"Inquire whose son is he," the sov'reign said,
"Before whose conq'ring arm Philistia fled."
Before the king behold the stripling stand,
Goliath's head depending from his hand:
To him the king: "Say of what martial line
"Art thou, young hero, and what sire was thine?"
He humbly thus; "The son of Jesse I:
"I came the glories of the field to try.
"Small is my tribe, but valiant in the fight;
"Small is my city, but thy royal right."
"Then take the promis'd gifts," the monarch cry'd,
Conferring riches and the royal bride:
"Knit to my soul for ever thou remain
"With me, nor quit my regal roof again."
- quotes about Israel
- quotes about army
- quotes about war
- quotes about monsters
- quotes about animals
- quotes about blood
- quotes about sheep
- quotes about time
- quotes about fate
The Athenaid: Volume III: Book the Twenty-eighth
While lamentation for Masistius dead
Depress'd the Persians, undisturb'd the Greeks
To all their camp refreshment had deriv'd
From clear Asopus. To th' accustom'd edge
Of his abounding flood they now resort.
Stones, darts and arrows from unnumber'd ranks,
Along the margin opposite dispos'd
By Mindarus, forbid access. Repulse
Disbands the Greeks. Exulting, he forgets
Cleora; active valour in his breast
Extinguishes the embers, cherish'd long
By self-tormenting memory, and warmth
Of fruitless passion. Present too his chief,
His friend and kinsman, from a fiery steed
Mardonius rules and stimulates the fight,
Like Boreas, riding on a stormy cloud,
Whence issue darts of light'ning, mix'd with hail
In rattling show'rs. The enemies dispers'd,
Embolden Mindarus to ford the stream.
In guidance swift of cavalry expert,
With unresisted squadrons he careers
Along the field. Inviolate the flood
He guards; each hostile quarter he insults.
Now Gobryas' son, unfetter'd from the bonds
Of superstitious terrors, joyful sees
In Mindarus a new Masistius rise;
Nor less the tidings Tiridates sends,
Who in Cithæron's passes hath despoil'd
The slaughter'd foes, inspire the gen'ral's thoughts,
Which teem with arduous enterprise. The camp
He empties all; beneath whose forming host
The meadow sounds. The native Persians face
Laconia's station, Greek allies oppose
Th' Athenian. All the force of Thebes array'd
Envenom'd Leontiades commands.
Greece in her lines sits tranquil; either host
Expects the other. By their augurs still
Restrain'd, they shun the interdicted ford.
But of the river's plenteous stream depriy'd
By Mindarus, the Grecians fear a dearth
Of that all-cheering element. A rill
Flows from a distant spring, Gargaphia nam'd,
Their sole resource. Nor dread of other wants
Afflicts them less; their convoy is o'erpow'r'd
By Tiridates. Anxious all exhaust
A night disturb'd; the bravest grieve the most,
Lest through severe necessity they quit
Inglorious their position. Morning shines;
When frequent signals from th' external guards,
Near and remote, successive rise. To arms
All rush. Along the spacious public way
From Megara, obscuring dust ascends.
The sound of trampling hoofs, and laden wheels,
With shouts of multitude, is heard. Behold,
Forth from the cloud, a messenger of joy,
Sicinus breaks, of bold auxiliar bands
Forerunner swift, and unexpected aid
In copious stores, at Megara's wide port
New-landed from Thermopylæ. The camp
Admits, and hails in rapturous acclaim
Euboean standards, Potidæa's ranks,
The laurell'd priest and hero, Timon sage,
Th' ennobled heir of Lygdamis, and thee,
Melissa's brother, great Oïleus' son,
Friend of Leonidas, thee dear to all,
O brave, and gen'rous Medon! From their tents
The chiefs assemble, when Sicinus spake:
Pausanius, gen'ral of united Greece,
Accept these ample succours from the hand
Of provident Themistocles. Possess'd
Of Oeta's passes, he the Persian host
Now with impenetrable toils besets
Like beasts of prey, entangled by the skill
Of some experienc'd hunter. Thou receive,
Just Aristides, from Timothea's love,
A suit of armour new, in Chalcis fram'd,
Without luxuriant ornament, or gold.
The shield, an emblem of thy soul, displays
Truth, equity and wisdom, hand in hand.
This for her children, and thy own, consign'd
To her Euboean roof and pious care,
She bids thee lift and conquer. Thou restore
The little exiles in their native homes
To dwell in peace. Her gift, she adds, derives
Its only value from the wearer's worth.
In smiles, like Saturn at the tribute pure
Of fruits and flow'rs in singleness of heart
Paid by religion of the golden age,
Timothea's gift the righteous man receives,
Not righteous more than practic'd to endure
Heroic labours, soon by matchless deeds
To justify the giver. He began:
Confederated warriors, who withstand
A tyrant's pow'r, unanimous confess
Your debt to great Themistocles, the lord
Of all-admir'd Timothea. He and I
Evince the fruits of concord. Ancient foes,
Through her united, cheerful we sustain
Our public charge. From gen'ral union Greece
Expects her safety. Him success hath crown'd
In arms and counsel; whether on the main
His naval flag he spread, or shook the land
With his triumphant step. O, hero-born
Pausanias! glowing with Herculean blood,
Now under thee let Aristides hope
To share success, nor tarnish with disgrace
His armour new. Behold, yon river gleams
With hostile arms. Those standards on the left,
Well-known to Attic eyes, are proudly borne
By native Medes and Persians. Treach'rous Thebes
Lifts her Cadmean banner on the right.
A second time Mardonius forms his host
To proffer battle. He, perhaps, may ford
Asopus, which Tisamenus, the learn'd
In divination, hath forbid our steps
To pass. Thy former numbers swift arrange.
New from a march let these auxiliars guard
The camp. To him Pausanias thus apart:
Athenian, hear: Your citizens are vers'd
In this Barbarian warfare, yet unknown
To us. Let Spartans and Athenians change
Their station. You, an adversary try'd
At Marathon, and foil'd, will best oppose.
To vanquish Grecians we accustom'd long
Will yon Boeotians and Thessalians face.
Such is my will. Concise the Attic sage:
Thou hast commanded what my willing thoughts
Themselves devis'd, but waited first to hear.
Well canst thou sight, Pausanias. I will strive
To imitate thy deeds and thy renown,
On whose increase our liberty and laws
Depend. This said, they part. Behind the rear
Soon from the left th' Athenians, from the right
The Spartans file. Their stations they exchange,
Not by Mardonius unperceiv'd. He moves
His Medes and Persians to the post of Thebes,
Whence still the Spartan phalanx they confront,
The Thebans still th' Athenian. This observ'd,
Pausanias swift to Aristides sends
Strict charge his old position to resume.
Now indignation high through all the tribes
Of Athens rages. Noble pride, and sense
Of just desert, in exclamation fierce
Break from th' exalted populace, who claim
Their soil for parent. Gods! from wing to wing
Must we like servile mercenary bands,
Like Helots, slaves to Lacedæmon born,
Be hurry'd thus obsequious to controul
From an imperious Spartan? Tegea first
Contested our prerogative. The pride
Of Sparta next removes us from the post,
Assign'd by public judgment; we comply.
Must we at her contemptuous nod resume
The station we forsook? Defending Greece,
Ourselves meanwhile deserted and betray'd,
Twice have we lost our city. What is left
Of our abandon'd residence, but dust?
Let Greece defend herself. Let us remove
For the last time our standards, hoist our sails,
Our floating empire fix on distant shores,
Our household gods, our progeny, and name,
On some new soil establish, sure to find
None so ingrate as this. The Athenians thus
Swell with ingenuous ire, as ocean boils,
Disturb'd by Eurus, and the rude career
Of Boreas, threat'ning furious to surmount
All circumscription. But as oft a cloud,
Distilling gentle moisture as it glides,
Dissolves the rigour of their boist'rous wings,
Till o'er the main serenity returns;
So from the mouth of Aristides fall
Composing words. Insensibly he sooths
Their justly-irritated minds, and calms
Their just resentment. Righteousness and truth,
How prevalent your efforts, when apply'd
By placid wisdom! In these strains he spake:
Ye men of Athens, at Laconia's call
To meet the flow'r of Asia's host in fight
Do ye repine? A station, which implies
Pre-eminence of Attic worth, a task
Of all most glorious, which the martial race
Of Sparta shuns, and you should covet most,
Ye Marathonian victors? In the sight
Of Greece, who trembles at a Median garb,
You are preferr'd for valour. Arms the same,
The same embroider'd vestment on their limbs
Effeminate, the same unmanly souls,
Debas'd by vices and monarchal rule,
The Medes retain, as when their vanquish'd ranks
Fled heretofore. With weapons often try'd,
With confidence by victories increas'd,
Not now for liberty and Greece alone
You march to battle; but to keep unspoil'd
Your trophies won already, and the name,
Which Marathon and Salamis have rais'd,
Preserve unstain'd; that men may ever say,
Not through your leaders, not by fortune there
You triumph'd, but by fortitude innate,
And lib'ral vigour of Athenian blood.
He said and march'd. All follow mute through love
Of Aristides, inexpressive love,
Which melts each bosom. Solemn they proceed,
Though lion-like in courage, at his call
Meek and obedient, as the fleecy breed
To wonted notes of Pan's conducting pipe.
Arriv'd, disbanded, in their sep'rate tents
Cecropia's tribes exhaust a tedious night,
Unvisited by sleep. The morning breaks;
Instead of joy to gratulate her light
The tone of sadness from dejected hearts,
Combining sighs and groans in murmur deep,
Alarms the leader. Aristides, shew
Thy countenance amongst us, hasty spake
The warrior-poet ent'ring: All thy camp
Enthusiastic sorrow hath o'erwhelm'd,
And ev'ry heart unbrac'd. By earliest dawn
Each left his restless couch. Their first discourse
Was calm, and fill'd with narratives distinct
Of thy accomplishments, and worth. At length
A soldier thus in agitation spake:
'Yet, O most excellent of Gods! O Jove!
'This is the man, we banish'd! In thy sight
'The most excelling man, whose sole offence
'Was all-transcending merit, from his home
'Our impious votes expell'd, by envy's spight
'Seduc'd. We drove him fugitive through Greece;
'Where still he held ungrateful Athens dear,
'For whose redemption from her sloth he rous'd
'All Greece to arms.' The soldier clos'd in floods
Of anguish. Instant through the concourse ran
Contagious grief; as if the fiend Despair,
From his black chariot, wheeling o'er their heads
In clouds of darkness, dropp'd his pois'nous dews
Of melancholy down to chill the blood,
Unnerve the limbs, and fortitude dissolve.
Speed, Aristides. By th' immortal pow'rs!
The feeblest troop of Persians in this hour
Might overcome the tame, desponding force
Of thy dear country, mistress long confess'd
Of eloquence and arts, of virtue now
Through thy unerring guidance. Here the sage:
With-hold thy praise, good Æschylus-Be swift,
Arrange my fellow citizens in arms
Beneath each ensign of the sev'ral tribes.
I will appear a comforter, a friend,
Their public servant. Æschylus withdraws.
Soon Aristides, in his armour new,
Timothea's gift, advances from his tent.
Should from his throne th' Omnipotent descend
In visitation of the human race,
While dreading his displeasure; as to earth
All heads would bend in reverential awe,
Contrite and conscious of their own misdeeds;
So look th' Athenians, though in all the pomp
Of Mars array'd, and terrible to half
The world in battle. Down their corslets bright
Tears trickle, tears of penitence and shame,
To see their injur'd patriot chief assume
In goodness heav'n's whole semblance, as he moves
Observant by, and through the weeping ranks
From man to man his lib'ral hand extends,
Consoling. No resentment he could shew,
Who none had felt. Ascending now on high,
He thus address'd the penitential throng.
Rate not too high my merit, nor too low
Your own depreciate. Error is the lot
Of man; but lovely in the eye of heav'n
Is sense of error. Better will you sight,
As better men from these auspicious tears,
Which evidence your worth, and please the gods.
With strength and valour, equity of mind
Uniting doubles fortitude. Your wives,
Your progeny and parents, laws and rites,
Were ne'er so well secur'd. The warlike bard
Rose next: Requested by the sev'ral tribes,
In their behalf I promise to thy rule
All acquiescence. Bid them fight, retreat,
Maintain, or yield a station; bid them face
Innumerable foes, surmount a foss
Deep as the sea, or bulwarks high as rocks;
Subordination, vigilance, contempt
Of toil and death, thy dictates shall command.
Th' Oïlean hero, Timon, and the seed
Of Lygdamis, are present, who encamp'd
Among th' Athenians. They admire the chief,
Nor less the people. While the term of morn
Was passing thus, a summons to his tent
Calls Aristides. Aemnestus there
Salutes him: Attic friend, a new event
In Sparta's quarter is to thee unknown;
From me accept th' intelligence. The sun
Was newly ris'n, when o'er th' Asopian flood
An Eastern herald pass'd. Bèhind him tow'r'd
A giant-siz'd Barbarian. He approach'd
Our camp; before Pausanias brought, he spake:
'I am Briareus, of Mardonian guards
'Commander. Through my delegated mouth
'Thus saith the son of Gobryas: I have heard
'Among the Greeks your prowess vaunted high,
'Ye men of Sparta, that in martial ranks
'You either kill, or perish; but I find,
'Fame is a liar. I expected long,
'You would defy me on the field of war.
'Have I not seen you shift from wing to wing,
'The task imposing on th' Athenians twice
'To face the Medes and Persians; while yourselves
'Sought with our servants to contend in arms,
'Ye brave in name alone! Since you decline
'To challenge us, we, prime of eastern blood,
'With equal numbers challenge you to prove,
'That you possess, what rumour hath proclaim'd,
'The boldest hearts in Greece. Acknowledge else
'Your boasted valour bury'd in the grave
'With your Leonidas, o'erthrown and slain.'
Pausanias gave no answer, not through fear,
But humour torpid and morose, which wrapp'd
In clouds of scorn his brow. Consulting none,
With silent pride the giant he dismiss'd.
The challenger, in triumph turning back,
Repass'd the river. Aemnestus paus'd;
A second messenger appear'd. Behold,
In blooming vigour, flush'd by rapid haste,
Young Menalippus, from the rev'rend seer
Megistias sprung. Athenian chief, he said,
Bring down thy active, missile-weapon'd troops;
On their immediate help Pausanias calls.
A cloud of hostile cavalry invests
Laconia's quarter. Javelins, arrows, darts,
In sheets discharg'd, have choak'd our last resource,
Gargaphia's fountain, and our heavy bands
Perplex and harrass. Aristides hears,
And issues swift his orders, while the youth
Continues thus: Thou knew'st of old my sire,
Who at Thermopylæ expir'd. The just
Consort together. Aristides thus:
Ingenuous youth, for Greece thy father bled
A spotless victim, but for ever lives
Companion with Leonidas in fame.
By heav'n protected, thou shalt live to see
Their death aton'd; the period is not far.
Come on; my force is ready. Medon arms
With Haliartus, once the shepherd-swain
In Oeta's pass to Menalippus known,
Whom both embrace with gratulation kind.
All march, but reach not Sparta's distant wing,
Before the Persians, sated with success,
Fil'd back to join Mardonius. Secret he
Was communing with Mirzes, most renown'd
Among the Magi. Thus the satrap clos'd:
Through each occurrence undisguis'd, O sage!
My circumstantial narrative hath run,
From where I enter'd first Trophonian ground,
Till my descent and vision in the cave.
Speak frankly, Mirzes-nor believe thy words,
Whatever black presages they contain,
Subjoin'd to all Trophonius hath foretold,
Can change my firm resolves, or blunt my sword.
Solicitude for Persia to excess
Misled thee, satrap, to that graven god,
Rejoins the Magus, where, if ought besides
The craft of Grecian, mercenary priests,
It was the demon Arimanius rul'd.
He long hath prompted that Elean seer,
Who blunts thy sword by divination false.
What thou dost vision call was empty dream;
Imagination heated, and disturb'd,
A texture wild and various, intermix'd
With ill-match'd images of things, which last
Oppress'd thy mind. Thy own distemper fram'd
Th' unreal grot, where Destinies of air
In apparition cut thy vital thread;
Their act was thine, the oracle thy own,
All vague creation of thy erring sleep.
Briareus enters. At his tidings glad,
Which ostentation sounded, thus exults
Mardonius: Sayst thou, Lacedæmon's chief
Was mute, when my defiance shook his ear?
Hence to the winds, ye auguries and signs!
Ye dreams and mysteries of Greece, avaunt!
Thou, Horomazes, not in marble fanes,
Nor woods oracular, and caves, dost dwell.
It is the pow'r of evil there misguides
Insensate mortals, and misguided me.
O, Artemisia! now shall Gobryas' son
Look only, where no mystery can lurk,
On ev'ry manly duty. Nothing dark
The tracks of honour shades. To chiefs select,
Greek and Barbarian summon'd, he reveals
His fix'd resolves in council. They disperse
To execute his will. Among the rest
Young Alexander, Macedonia's lord,
Speeds to his quarters in the solemn bow'r
Of Dircè. There Mardonius had decreed
A cenotaph of marble, newly-rais'd
To his deplor'd Masistius. There the queen
Of Macedon, Phoebean Timon's child,
Bright Amarantha, like an ev'ning bird,
Whose trill delights a melancholy grove,
Oft with harmonious skill in Delphian strains,
Th' ingenuous practice of her maiden days,
Sung of her father, and Masistius good,
That friend, that known protector. She her lute
Was now in cadence with Dircæan rills
Attuning. Vocal melody she breath'd,
Which at another season might have won
Her lord from sadness. Sighing, he her song
Thus interrupts: Ah! consort dear, as fair,
I come from Persia's council; where the son
Of Gobryas, urg'd by fear of sudden want
Through his wide host, nor animated less
By Spartan silence at the challenge proud
His herald bore, determines to reject
The augur's warnings. O'er the stream he means
To lead th' embattled nations, and surprise
Ere dawn, at least assail the camp of Greece
In ev'ry station. If she quits her lines,
Then will his num'rous cavalry surround
Her heavy phalanx on the level space.
O that my ancestor had never left
His Grecian home in Argos, nor acquir'd
Emathia's crown! I never then compell'd,
Had borne reluctant arms against a race
By friendship link'd, affinity, and blood,
With me and mine. What horror! cries the queen,
While fear surmises, that my husband's sword
May blindly cut my father's vital thread.
But not alone such parricide to shun
Should wake thy efforts. Alexander, no;
Thou must do more. Our mutual words recall,
When thou to Athens by Mardonius sent
Didst from thy fruitless ambassy rejoin
Me in Trachiniæ; whence the Barb'rous chief
Renew'd his march to lay Cecropian domes
In fresh destruction. 'What a lot is mine,
'Thou saidst? If Xerxes triumph, I become
'A slave in purple. Should the Greeks prevail,
'Should that Euboean conqueror, the son
'Of Neocles be sent th' Athenian scourge….
I interrupted thus: 'Awhile, dear lord,
'We must submit to wear the galling mask,
'Necessity imposes. New events
'Are daily scatter'd by the restless palm
'Of fortune. Some will prove propitious. Wise,
'To all benignant, Aristides serv'd
'By us in season will befriend our state.'
Behold that season come; let Grecian blood,
Which warms thy veins, inspire thy prudent tongue
This night th' Athenian hero to apprise
Of all these tidings. Thus secure the Greeks
Against surprisal; timely thus oblige
The first of men, and magnify thy name
In Greece for ages. Here the youthful king:
Though by oppressive Xerxes forc'd to war,
Shall I abuse the confidence repos'd
By great Mardonius, qualify'd to win
Regard at first, which intercourse augments?
I will do all by honour's rules allow'd,
Will act a neutral part, withdraw my troops,
Ev'n at the hazard of my crown and life,
If such my queen's injunction. Ah! forbear
To frown; what means this flushing of thy cheek?
Must I betray Mardonius to his foes?
She spake abrupt; he started at her look:
If forc'd obedience to a tyrant binds,
If more, than I, Mardonius holds thy heart,
Who has thy dearest confidence abus'd,
Thou wilt discredit my accusing tongue.
Could from this empty monument the shade
Of just Masistius rise, his awful voice
Would verify a story, till this hour
From thee conceal'd. My virgin hand in blood
Of one Barbarian miscreant once I stain'd;
Not to pollute my hymeneal state,
Nor lay Mardonius gasping at my feet
Like Mithridates in the streets of Thebes,
This hateful camp for Delphi I forsook,
Fled from a lawless and presumptuous flame,
Insulting me, thy queen, who boast descent
From holy Timon. While for his behoof
Collecting Greeks against their country's cause,
Thyself was absent, and Mardonius left
My only guardian; scorning every tie,
His daring importunity of love
Assail'd thy consort's ear. What hope, what trust
In such Barbarians? All their faith expir'd
With good Masistius. Should the Greeks be foil'd,
How long will Macedon thy realm, how long
Will Amarantha be securely held
Against a satrap, whose ungovern'd will
May covet both? Of this, O prince, be sure,
Her part of shame will Amarantha bear
But brief shall be its date. The poniard still,
Which once preserv'd my honour, I possess
To cut my period of dishonour short.
The prince impatient, yet attentive, heard
Her words; when thus the measure of his wrath
From his full bosom rapidly o'erflow'd.
O impious breach of hospitable ties!
O violation base of rights and laws,
Exacting swift revenge from heav'n and man,
From me the first! Unparallel'd in form,
O like the sister of thy Delphian god
Immaculate! Did sacrilegious hands
This pure abode of chastity assail
With profanation? Less a friend to Greece,
Than foe to false Mardonius, now I go.
He said, and order'd forth his swiftest steed.
By moon-light, twinkling on a shaded track,
He urg'd his secret way beyond the springs
Asopian; whence an outlet short and close
Through mount Cithæron to th' adjacent line
Of Aristides led. Meantime the sound
Of steps advancing Amarantha heard;
She heard, and saw Mardonius. He his pace
Stopp'd short, inclining with obeisance low
His stately frame. Through terror and amaze
To earth she rigid grew, of pow'r to fly
Depriv'd. He distant spake: Imperial dame,
That he offended once, Mardonius makes
A penitent confession. O! that fault
To no innate discourtesy impute,
But Eastern manners, not as Grecian pure;
The ignorance which err'd, by thee is chang'd
To veneration. From my presence here,
Which ne'er before intruded on this seat
Of thy retirement, do not too severe
A new offence interpret; rest assur'd,
A solemn cause impels. He silent waits,
Nor moves; till, gliding silently away,
Like Dian fair and chaste, but less severe,
The queen withdrew, and tow'rds a gallant chief,
Perhaps by her devices near his fall,
Thus far relented; for the private wrong
The frank atonement rais'd a generous sigh;
Against the public enemy of Greece,
Unquenchable she burn'd. Now left alone,
Before the cenotaph he kneel'd and spake:
To-morrow, O! to-morrow let my helm
Blaze in thy beams auspicious, spirit bright,
Whose name adorns this honorary tomb!
The weight of Asia's mighty weal, the weight
Of fifty myriads on thy friend augments
From hour to hour. Yet purg'd of gloomy thoughts,
Clear of ambition, save to win the palm
Of victory for Xerxes, I approach
Thy suppliant. Thou an intercessor pure
For me, deceiv'd by Grecian seers and gods,
Before the throne of Horomazes stand,
That he may bless my standards, if alone
To guard so many worshippers, and spread
By their success his celebrated name
Through each Hesperian clime. Now grant a sign,
Masistius, ere thy faithful friend depart,
Fix'd, as he is, to vanquish, or to fall.
He ceas'd. Quick rapture dims his cheated eyes.
He sees in thought a canopy of light,
Descending o'er the tomb. In joy he speeds
To preparation for the destin'd march.
End of the Twenty-eighth Book
- quotes about Greece
- quotes about victory
- quotes about abundance
- quotes about justice
- quotes about standard
- quotes about genealogy
- quotes about speed
- quotes about friendship
Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.
MY wanton lines doe treate of amorous loue,
Such as would bow the hearts of gods aboue:
Then Venus, thou great Citherean Queene,
That hourely tript on the Idalian greene,
Thou laughing Erycina, daygne to see
The verses wholly consecrate to thee;
Temper them so within thy Paphian shrine,
That euery Louers eye may melt a line;
Commaund the god of Loue that little King,
To giue each verse a sleight touch with his wing,
That as I write, one line may draw the tother,
And euery word skip nimbly o're another.
There was a louely boy the Nymphs had kept,
That on the Idane mountains oft had slept,
Begot and borne by powers that dwelt aboue,
By learned Mercury of the Queene of loue:
A face he had that shew'd his parents fame,
And from them both conioynd, he drew his name:
So wondrous fayre he was that (as they say)
Diana being hunting on a day,
Shee saw the boy vpon a greene banke lay him,
And there the virgin-huntresse meant to slay him,
Because no Nymphes did now pursue the chase:
For all were strooke blind with the wanton's face.
But when that beauteous face Diana saw,
Her armes were nummed, & shee could not draw;
Yet she did striue to shoot, but all in vaine,
Shee bent her bow, and loos'd it streight againe.
Then she began to chide her wanton eye,
And fayne would shoot, but durst not see him die,
She turnd and shot, and did of purpose misse him,
Shee turnd againe, and did of purpose kisse him.
Then the boy ran: for (some say) had he stayd,
Diana had no longer bene a mayd.
Phoebus so doted on this rosiat face,
That he hath oft stole closely from his place,
When he did lie by fayre Leucothoes side,
To dally with him in the vales of Ide:
And euer since this louely boy did die,
Phoebus each day about the world doth flie,
And on the earth he seekes him all the day,
And euery night he seekes him in the sea:
His cheeke was sanguine, and his lip as red
As are the blushing leaues of the Rose spred:
And I haue heard, that till this boy was borne,
Rose grew white vpon the virgin thorne,
Till one day walking to a pleasant spring,
To heare how cunningly the birds could sing,
Laying him downe vpon a flowry bed,
The Roses blush'd and turn'd themselues to red.
The Rose that blush'd not, for his great offence,
The gods did punish, and for impudence
They gaue this doome that was agreed by all,
The smell of the white Rose should be but small.
His haire was bushie, but it was not long,
The Nymphs had done his tresses mighty wrong:
For as it grew, they puld away his haire,
And made abilliments of gold to weare.
His eyes were Cupids: for vntill his birth,
Cupid had eyes, and liu'd vpon the earth,
Till on a day, when the great Queene of loue
Was by her white doues drawn fro[m] heauen aboue,
Vnto the top of the Idalian hill,
To see how well the Nymphs their charge fulfill,
And whether they had done the goddesse right,
In nursing of her sweet Hermaphrodite:
VVhom when she saw, although complete & full,
Yet she complaynd, his eyes were somewhat dull:
And therefore, more the wanton boy to grace,
She puld the sparkling eyes from Cupids face,
Fayning a cause to take away his sight,
Because the Ape would sometimes shoot for spight.
But Venus set those eyes in such a place,
As grac'd those cleare eyes with a clearer face.
For his white hand each goddesse did him woo:
For it was whiter then the driuen snow:
His legge was straighter then the thigh of Ioue:
And he farre fairer then the god of loue.
When first this wel-shapt boy, beauties chiefe king,
Had seene the labour of the fifteenth spring,
How curiously it paynted all the earth,
He 'gan to trauaile from his place of birth,
Leauing the stately hils where he was nurst,
And where the Nymphs had brought him vp at first:
He lou'd to trauaile to the coasts vnknowne,
To see the regions farre beyond his owne,
Seeking cleare watry springs to bathe him in:
(For he did loue to wash his iuory skinne)
The louely Nymphes haue oft times seene him swimme,
And closely stole his clothes from off the brim,
Because the wanton wenches would so fayne
See him come nak'd to ask his clothes againe.
He lou'd besides to see the Lycian grounds,
And know the wealthy Carians vtmost bounds.
Vsing to trauaile thus, one day he found
A cristall brook, that tril'd along the ground,
A brooke, that in reflection did surpasse
The cleare reflection of the clearest glasse.
About the side there grew no foggy reedes,
Nor was the fount compast with barren weedes:
But liuing turfe grew all along the side,
And grasse that euer flourisht in his pride.
Within this brook a beauteous Nymph did dwell,
Who for her comely feature did excell;
So faire she vvas, of such a pleasing grace,
So straight a body, and so sweet a face,
So soft a belly, such a lustie thigh,
So large a forehead, such a cristall eye,
So soft and moyst a hand, so smooth a brest,
So faire a cheeke, so well in all the rest,
That Iupiter would reuell in her bowre,
Were he to spend againe his golden showre:
Her teeth were whiter then the mornings milke,
Her lip was softer then the softest silke,
Her haire as farre surpast the burnisht gold,
As siluer doth excell the basest mold:
Ioue courted her for her translucent eye,
And told her, he would place her in the skye,
Promising her, if she would be his loue,
He would ingraue her in the heauen aboue,
Telling this louely Nymph, that if he would,
He could deceiue her in a showre of gold,
Or like a Swanne come to her naked bed,
And so deceiue her of her maiden-head:
But yet, because he thought that pleasure best,
Where each consenting ioynes each louing brest,
He would put off that all-commaunding crowne,
Whose terrour strooke th'aspiring Giants downe,
That glittereing crown, whose radia[n]t sight did tosse
Great Pelion from the top of mighty Osse,
He would depose from his world-swaying head,
To taste the amorous pleasures of her bed:
This added he besides, the more to grace her,
Like a bright starre he would in heauens vault place her.
By this the proud lasciuious Nymph was mou'd,
Perceiuing by great Ioue shee was belou'd,
And hoping as a starre she should ere long,
Be sterne or gracious to the Sea-mans song,
(For mortals still are subiect to their eye,
And what it sees, they striue to get as hie
She was contented that almighty Ioue
Should haue the first and best fruits of her loue:
(For women may be likened to the yeere,
Whose first fruits still do make the dayntiest cheere)
But yet Astræa first should plight her troth,
For the performance of Ioues sacred oth.
(Iust times decline, and all good dayes are dead,
When heauenly othes had need be warranted)
This heard great Iupiter and lik'd it well,
And hastily he seeks Astræas cell,
About the massie earth searching her towre:
But she had long since left this earthly bowre,
And flew to heauen aboue, lothing to see
The sinfull actions of humanitie.
Which when Ioue did perceiue, he left the earth,
And flew vp to the place of his owne birth,
The burning heauenly throne, where he did spy
Astræas palace in the glittering skie.
This stately towre was builded vp on hie,
Farre from the reach of any mortall eye;
And from the palace side there did distill
A little water, through a little quill,
The dewe of iustice, which did seldome fall,
And when it dropt, the drops were very small.
Glad was great Ioue when he beheld her towre,
Meaning a while to rest him in her bowre;
And therefore sought to enter at her dore:
But there was such a busie rout before;
Some seruing men, and some promooters bee,
That he could passe no foote without a fee:
But as he goes, he reaches out his hands,
And payes each one in order as he stands;
And still, as he was paying those before,
Some slipt againe betwixt him and the dore.
At length (with much adoo) he past them all,
And entred straight into a spacious hall,
Full of dark angles, and of hidden wayes,
Crooked Maranders, infinite delays;
All which delayes and entries he must passe,
Ere he could come where iust Astræa was.
All these being past by his immortall wit,
Without her doore he sawe a porter sit,
An aged man, that long time there had beene,
Who vs'd to search all those that entred in,
And still to euery one he gaue this curse,
None must see Iustice but with emptie purse.
This man searcht Ioue for his owne priuate gaine,
To haue the money which did yet remaine,
Which was but small: for much was spent before
On the tumultuous rout that kept the dore.
When he had done, he broght him to the place
Where he should see diuine Astræas face.
Then the great King of gods and men in went,
And saw his daughter Venus there lament,
And crying lowd for iustice, whom Ioue found
Kneeling before Astræa on the ground,
And still she cry'd and beg'd for a iust doome
Against blacke Vulcan, that vnseemely groome,
Whome she had chosen for her onely loue,
Though she was daughter to great thundering Ioue:
And thought the fairest goddesse, yet content
To marrie him, though weake and impotent;
But for all this they alwayes were at strife:
For euermore he ralyd at her his wife,
Telling her still, Thou art no wife of mine,
Anothers strumpet, Mars his concubine.
By this Astræa spyde almighty Ioue,
And bow'd her finger to the Queene of loue,
To cease her sute, which she would hear anon,
When the great King of all the world was gone.
Then she descended from her stately throne,
Which seat was builded all of Iasper stone,
And o're the seat was paynted all aboue,
The wanton vnseene stealths of amorous Ioue;
There might a man behold the naked pride
Of louely Venus in the vales of Ide,
When Pallas, and Ioues beauteous wife and she
Stroue for the prise of beauties raritie:
And there lame Vulcan and his Cyclops stroue
To make the thunderbolts for mighty Ioue:
From this same stately throne she down descended,
And sayd, The griefs of Ioue should be amended,
Asking the King of gods what lucklesse cause,
What great conte[m]pt of states, what breach of lawes
(For sure she thought, some vncouth cause befell,
That made him visit poore Astræas cell)
Troubled his thought: and if she might decide it,
VVho vext great, Ioue, he deareley should abide it.
Ioue onely thankt her, and beganne to show
His cause of comming (for each one doth know
The longing words of Louers are not many,
If they desire to be inioyd of any.
Telling Astræa, It might now befall,
That she might make him blest, that blesseth all:
For as he walk'd vpon the flowry earth,
To which his owne hands whilome gaue a birth,
To see how streight he held it and how iust
He rold this massy pondrous heape of dust,
He laid him downe by a coole riuer side,
Whose pleasant water did so gently slide
With such soft whispering: for the brook was deepe,
That it had lul'd him in a heauenly sleepe.
When first he laid him downe, there was none neere him:
(for he did call before, but none could heare him)
But a faire Nymph was bathing when he wak'd,
(Here sigh'd great Ioue, and after brought forth) nak'd,
He seeing lou'd, the Nymph yet here did rest,
Where iust Astræa might make Ioue be blest,
If she would passe her faithfull word so farre,
As that great Ioue should make the mayd a starre.
Astræa yeelded: at which Ioue was pleas'd,
And all his longing hopes and feares were eas'd.
Ioue tooke his leaue, and parted from her sight,
Whose thoughts were ful of louers sweet delight,
And she ascended to her throne aboue,
To heare the griefes of the great Queene of loue.
But she was satisfide, and would no more
Rayle at her husband as she did before:
But forth she tript apace, because she stroue,
With her swift feet to ouertake great Ioue,
She skipt so nimbly as she went to looke him,
That at the palace doore she ouertooke him,
Which way was plaine and broade as they went out,
And now they could see no tumultuous rout.
Here Venus fearing, lest the loue of Ioue
Should make this mayd be plac'd in heauen aboue,
Because she thought this Nymph so wondrous bright,
That she would dazel her accustom'd light:
And fearing now she should not first be seene
Of all the glittering starres as shee had beene,
But that the wanton Nymph would eu'ry night
Be first that should salute eche mortal sight,
Began to tell great Ioue, she grieu'd to see
The heauen so full of his iniquity,
Complayning that eche strumpet now was grac'd,
And with immortall goddesses was plac'd,
Intreating him to place in heauen no more
Eche wanton strumpet and lasciuious whore.
Ioue mad with loue, harkned not what she sayd,
His thoughts were so intangled with the mayd,
But furiously he to his palace lept,
Being minded there till morning to haue slept:
For the next morne, as soone as Phoebus rayes
Should yet shine coole, by reason of the seas,
And ere the parting teares of Thætis bed,
Should be quite shak't from off his glittring head,
Astræa promis'd to attend great Ioue,
At his owne Palace in the heauen above,
And at that Palace she would set her hand
To what the loue-sick god should her command:
But to descend to earth she did deny,
She loath'd the sight of any mortall eye,
And for the compasse of the earthly round,
She would not set one foot vpon the ground.
Therefore Ioue meant to rise but with the sunne,
Yet thought it long vntill the night was done.
In the meane space Venus was drawne along
By her white Doues vnto the sweating throng
Of hammering Black-smithes, at the lofty hill
Of stately Etna, whose top burneth still:
(For at that burning mountaynes glittring top,
Her cripple husband Vulcan kept his shop)
To him she went, and so collogues that night
With the best straines of pleasures sweet delight,
That ere they parted, she made Vulcan sweare
By dreadfull Stix, an othe the gods do feare,
If Ioue would make the mortall mayd a starre,
Himselfe should frame his instruments of warre,
And tooke his othe by blacke Cocitus Lake,
He neuer more a thunder-bolt would make:
For Venus so this night his sences pleas'd,
That now he thought his former griefs were eas'd.
She with her hands the black-smiths body bound,
And with her Iu'ry armes she twyn'd him round,
And still the faire Queene with a prety grace,
Disperst her sweet breath o're his swarty face:
Her snowy armes so well she did display,
That Vulcan thought they melted as they lay.
Vntill the morne in this delight they lay:
Then vp they got, and hasted fast away
In the white Chariot of the Queene of loue,
Towards the Palace of great thundring Ioue,
Where they did see diuine Astræa stand,
To passe her word for what Ioue should command.
In limpt the Blacke-smith, after stept his Queene,
Whose light arrayment was of louely greene.
When they were in, Vulcan began to sweare
By othes that Iupiter himselfe doth feare,
If any whore in heauens bright vault were seene,
To dimme the shining of his beauteous Queene,
Each mortall man should the great gods disgrace,
And mocke almightie Ioue vnto his face,
And Giants should enforce bright heauen to fall,
Ere he would frame one thunderbolt at all.
Ioue did intreat him that he would forbeare.
The more he spoke, the more did Vulcan sweare.
Ioue heard his words, and 'gan to make his mone,
That mortall men would pluck him from his throne,
Or else he must incurre this plague, he said,
Quite to forgoe the pleasure of the mayd:
And once he thought, rather than lose her blisses,
Her heauenly sweets, her most delicious kisses,
Her soft embraces, and the amorous nights,
That he should often spend in her delights,
He would be quite thrown down by mortal hands,
From the blest place where his bright palace stands.
But afterwards hee saw with better sight,
He should be scorn'd by euery mortall wight,
If he should want his thunderbolts, to beate
Aspiring mortals from his glittering seate:
Therefore the god no more did woo or proue her,
But left to seeke her loue, though not to loue her.
Yet he forgot not that he woo'd the lasse,
But made her twise as beauteous as she was,
Because his wonted loue he needs would shew.
This haue I heard, but yet scarce thought it true.
And whether her cleare beautie was so bright,
That it could dazel the immortall sight
Of gods, and make them for her loue despaire,
I do not know; but sure the maid was faire.
Yet the faire Nymph was neuer seene resort
Vnto the sauage and the bloudy sport
Of chaste Diana, nor was euer wont
To bend a bow, nor euer did she hunt,
Nor did she euer striue with pretie cunning,
To ouergoe her fellow Nymphs in running:
For she was the faire water-Nymph alone,
That vnto chaste Diana was vnknowne.
It is reported, that her fellowes vs'd
To bid her (though the beauteous Nymph refus'd)
To take, or painted quiuers or a dart,
And put her lazy idlenesse apart.
Nor tooke she painted quiuers, nor a dart,
Nor put her lazy idlenesse apart,
But in her cristall fountaine oft she swimmes,
And oft she washes o're her snowy limmes:
Sometimes she com'b her soft discheuel'd hayre,
Which with a fillet tide she oft did weare:
But sometimes loose she did it hang behind,
When she was pleas'd to grace the Easterne wind:
For vp and downe it would her tresses hurle,
And as she went, it made her loose hayre curl:
Oft in the water did she looke her face,
And oft she vs'd to practise what quaint grace
Might well become her, and what comely feature
Might be best fitting so diuine a creature.
Her skinne was with a thinne vaile ouerthrowne,
Through which her naked beauty clearly shone.
She vs'd in this light rayment as she was,
To spread her body on the dewy grasse:
Sometimes by her owne fountaine as she walkes,
She nips the flowres from off the fertile stalkes,
And with a garland of the sweating vine,
Sometimes she doth her beauteous front in-twine:
But she was gathering flowres with her white hand,
When she beheld Hermaphroditus stand
By her cleare fountaine, wondring at the sight,
That there was any brooke could be so bright:
For this was the bright riuer where the boy
Did dye himselfe, that he could not enioy
Himselfe in pleasure, nor could taste the blisses
Of his owne melting and delicious kisses.
Here she did see him, and by Venus law,
She did desire to haue him as she saw:
But the fayre Nymph had neuer seene the place,
Where the boy was, nor his inchanting face,
But by an vncouth accident of loue
Betwixt great Phoebus and the sonne of Ioue,
Light -headed Bacchus: for vpon a day,
As the boy-god was keeping on his way,
Bearing his Vine leaues and his Iuie bands,
To Naxos, where his house and temple stands,
He saw the Nymph, and seeing, he did stay,
And threw his leaues and Iuie bands away,
Thinking at first she was of heauenly birth,
Some goddesse that did liue vpon the earth,
Virgin Diana that so liuely shone,
When she did court her sweet Endimion:
But he a god, at last did plainely see,
She had no marke of immortalitie.
Vnto the Nymph went the yong god of wine,
Whose head was chaf'd so with the bleeding vine,
That now, or feare or terrour had he none,
But 'gan to court her as she sate alone:
Fayrer then fayrest (thus began his speech)
Would but your radiant eye please to inrich
My eye with looking, or one glaunce to giue,
Whereby my other parts might feede and liue,
Or with one sight my sences to inspire,
Far liuelier then the stole Promethean fire;
Then I might liue, then by the sunny light
That should proceed from thy thrise-radiant sight,
I might suruiue to ages; but that missing,
(At that same word he would haue faine bin kissing)
I pine, fayre Nymph: O neuer let me dye
For one poore glaunce from thy translucent eye,
Farre more transparent then the clearest brooke.
The Nymph was taken with his golden hooke:
Yet she turn'd backe, and would haue tript away;
But Bacchus forc't the louely mayd to stay,
Asking her why she struggled to be gone,
Why such a Nymph should wish to be alone?
Heauen neuer made her faire, that she should vaunt
She kept all beautie, it would neuer graunt
She should be borne so beauteous from her mother,
But to reflect her beauty on another:
Then with a sweet kisse cast thy beames on mee,
And Ile reflect then backe againe on thee.
At Naxos stands my Temple and my Shrine,
Where I do presse the lusty swelling Vine,
There with green Iuie shall thy head be bound,
And with the red Grape be incircled round;
There shall Silenus sing vnto thy praise,
His drunken reeling songs and tickling layes.
Come hither, gentle Nymph. Here blusht the maid,
And faine she would haue gone, but yet she staid.
Bacchus perceiued he had o'ercome the lasse,
And downe he throwes her in the dewy grasse,
And kist the helplesse Nymph vpon the ground,
And would haue stray'd beyond that lawful bou[n]d.
This saw bright Phœbus: for his glittering eye
Sees all that lies below the starry skye;
And for an old affection that he bore
Vnto this louely Nymph long time before,
(For he would ofttimes in his circle stand,
To sport himselfe vpon her snowy hand)
He kept her from the sweets of Bacchus bed,
And 'gainst her will he sau'd her maiden-head.
Bacchus perceiuing this apace did hie
Vnto the Palace of swift Mercury:
But he did find him farre below his birth,
Drinking with theiues and catch-poles on the earth;
And they were drinking what they stole to day,
In consultation for to morrowes prey.
To him went youthful Bacchus, and begun
To shew his cause of griefe against the Sunne,
How he bereft him of his heauenly blisses,
His sweet delights, his Nectar-flowing kisses,
And other sweeter sweetes that he had wonne,
But for the malice of the bright-fac't Sunne,
Intreating Mercury by all the loue,
That had bene borne amongst the sonnes of Ioue,
Of which they two were part, to stand his friend,
Against the god that did him so offend:
The quaint-tongu'd issue of great Atlas race,
Swift Mercury, that with delightfull grace,
And pleasing accents of his fayned tongue,
Hath oft reform'd a rude vnciuill throng
Of mortals; that great messenger of Ioue,
And all the meaner gods that dwell aboue:
He whose acute wit was so quicke and sharpe
In the inuention of the crooked Harpe:
He that's so cunning with his iesting slights,
To steale from heauenly gods or earthly wights,
Bearing a great hate in his grieued brest,
Against that great commaunder of the West,
Bright-fac't Apollo: for vpon a day,
Yong Mercury did steale his beasts away:
Which the great god perceiuing, streight did shew
The pearcing arrowes and the fearefull bow
That kild great Pithon, & with that did threat him,
To bring his beast againe, or he would beat him.
Which Mercury perceiuing, vnespide,
Did closely steale his arrowes from his side.
For this olde grudge, he was the easlyer wonne
To helpe young Bacchus 'gainst the fierie Sunne.
And now the Sunne was in the middle way,
And had o'ercome the one halfe of the day,
Scorching so hot vpon the reeking sand,
That lies vpon the neere Egyptian land,
That the hot people burnt e'ne from their birth,
Do creepe againe into their mother earth,
When Mercury did take his powerfull wand,
His charming Cadusæus in his hand,
And a thick Beuer which he vs'd to weare,
When ought from Ioue he to the Sunne did beare,
That did protect him from the piercing light,
Which did proceed from Phoebus glittering sight.
Clad in these powerfull ornaments he flies,
With out-stretcht wings vp to the azure skies:
Where seeing Phoebus in his orient shrine,
He did so well reuenge the god of wine,
That whil'st the Sun wonders his Chariot reeles,
The craftie god had stole away his wheeles.
Which when he did perceiue, he downe did slide,
(Laying his glittering Coronet aside)
From the bright spangled firmament aboue,
To seeke the Nymph that Bacchus so did loue,
And found her looking in her watry glasse,
To see how cleare her radiant beauty was:
And, for he had but little time to stay,
Because he meant to finish out his day,
At the first sight he 'gan to make his mone,
Telling her how his fiery wheeles were gone;
Promising her, if she would but obtaine
The wheeles, that Mercury had stolne, againe,
That he might end his day, she should enioy
The heauenly sight of the most beauteous boy
That euer was. The Nymph was pleas'd with this,
Hoping to reape some vnaccustom'd blisse
By the sweet pleasure that she should enioy,
In the blest sight of such a melting boy.
Therefore at his request she did obtaine
The burning wheeles, that he had lost, againe:
VVhich when he had receiu'd, he left the land,
And brought them thither where his Coach did stand,
And there he set them on: for all this space,
The horses had not stirr'd from out their place.
VVhich when he saw, he wept and 'gan to say,
VVould Mercury had stole my wheeles away,
When Phaeton my hare-brain'd issue tride,
What a laborious thing it vvas to guide
My burning chariot, the[n] he might haue pleas'd me,
And of one fathers griefe he might haue eas'd me:
For then the Steeds would haue obayd his will,
Or else at least they would haue rested still.
When he had done, he tooke his whip of steele,
Whose bitter smart he made his horses feele:
For he did lash so hard, to end the day,
That he was quickly at the Westerne sea,
And there with Thætis did he rest a space,
For he did neuer rest in any place
Before that time: but euer since his wheeles
Were stole away, his burning chariot reeles
Tow'rds the declining of the parting day:
Therefore he lights and mends them in the sea.
And though the poets fayne, that Ioue did make
A treble night for faire Alcmena's sake,
That he might sleepe securely with his loue;
Yet sure the long night was vnknowne to Ioue:
But the Sunnes wheeles one day disordred more,
Were thrise as long amending as before.
Now was the Sunne inuiron'd with the Sea,
Cooling his watrie tresses as he lay,
And in dread Neptunes kingdome while he sleeps,
Faire Thætis clips him in the watry deeps,
The Mayre-maids and the Tritons of the West,
Strayning their voyces, to make Titan rest.
And while the blacke night with her pitchie hand,
Tooke iust possession of the swarfie land:
He spent the darkesome howres in this delight,
Giuing his power vp to the gladsome night:
For ne're before he was so truely blest,
To take an houre or one poore minutes rest.
But now the burning god this pleasure feeles,
By reason of his newly crazed wheeles,
There must he stay vntill lame Vulcan send
The fierie wheeles which he had tooke to mend.
Now al the night the Smith so hard had wrought,
That ere the Sunne could wake, his wheeles were brought.
Titan being pleas'd with rest, and not to rise,
And loth to open yet his slumbring eyes:
And yet perceiuing how the longing sight
Of mortals wayted for his glittring light,
He sent Aurora from him to the skie,
To giue a glimsing to each mortall eye.
Aurora much asham'd of that same place
That great Apollos light was wont to grace,
Finding no place to hide her shamefull head,
Paynted her chaste cheeks with a blushing red,
Which euer since remain'd vpon her face,
In token of her new receiu'd disgrace:
Therefore she not so white as she had beene,
Lothing of eu'ry mortall to be seene,
No sooner can the rosie fingred morne
Kisse eu'ry flowre that by her dew is borne,
But from her golden window she doth peepe,
When the most part of earthly creatures sleepe.
By this, bright Titan opened had his eyes,
And 'gan to ierke his horses through the skies,
And taking in his hand his fierie whip,
He made AEous and swift AEthon skip
So fast, that straight he dazled had the sight
Of faire Aurora, glad to see his light.
And now the Sunne in all his fierie haste,
Did call to mind his promise lately past,
And all the vowes and othes that he did passe
Vnto faire Salmacis, the beauteous lasse:
For he had promis'd her she should enioy
So louely faire, and such a well shapt boy,
As ne're before his owne all-seeing eye
Saw from his bright seate in the starry skye:
Remembring this, he sent the boy that way,
Where the cleare fountain of the fayre Nymph lay.
There was he co[m]e to seeke some pleasing brooke.
No sooner came he, but the Nymph was strooke:
And though she hasted to imbrace the boy,
Yet did the Nymph awhile deferre her ioy,
Till she had bound vp her loose flagging haire,
And ordred well the garments she did weare,
Fayning her count'nance with a louers care,
And did deserue to be accounted fayre.
And thus much spake she while the boy abode:
O boy, most worthy to be thought a god,
Thou mayst inhabit in the glorious place
Of gods, or maist proceed from human race:
Thou mayst be Cupid, or the god of wine,
That lately woo'd me with the swelling vine:
But whosoe're thou art, O happy he,
That was so blest, to be a sire to thee;
Thy happy mother is most blest of many,
Blessed thy sisters, if her wombe bare any,
Both fortunate, and O thrise happy shee,
Whose too much blessed breasts gaue suck to thee:
If any wife with thy sweet bed be blest,
O, she is farre more happy then the rest;
If thou hast any, let my sport be sto'ne,
Or else let me be she, if thou haue none.
Here did she pause a while, and then she sayd,
Be not obdurate to a silly mayd.
A flinty heart within a smowy brest,
Is like base mold lockt in a golden chest:
They say the eye's the Index of the heart,
And shewes th'affection of each inward part:
There loue playes liuely, there the little god
Hath a cleare cristall Palace of abode.
O barre him not from playing in thy heart,
That sports himselfe vpon eche outward part.
Thus much she spake, & then her tongue was husht.
At her loose speach Hermaphroditus blusht:
He knew not what loue was, yet loue did shame him,
Making him blush, and yet his blush became him:
Then might a man his shamefast colour see,
Like the ripe apple on the sunny tree,
Or Iuory dide o're with a pleasing red,
Or like the pale Moone being shadowed.
By this, the Nymph recouer'd had her tongue,
That to her thinking lay in silence long,
And sayd, Thy cheeke is milde, O be thou so,
Thy cheeke, saith I, then do not answere no,
Thy cheeke doth shame, then doe thou shame, she sayd,
It is a mans shame to deny a mayd.
Thou look'st to sport with Venus in her towre,
And be belou'd of euery heauenly powre.
Men are but mortals, so are women too,
Why should your thoughts aspire more than ours doo?
For sure they doe aspire: Else could a youth,
Whose count'nance is so full of spotlesse truth,
Be so relentlesse to a virgins tongue?
Let me be woo'd by thee but halfe so long,
With halfe those tearmes doe but my loue require,
And I will easly graunt thee thy desire.
Ages are bad, when men become so slow,
That poore vnskillful mayds are forc't to woo.
Her radiant beauty and her subtill arte
S deepely strooke Hermaphroditus heart,
That she had wonne his loue, but that the light
Of her translucent eyes did shine too bright:
For long he look'd vpon the louely mayd,
And at the last Hermaphroditus sayd,
How should I loue thee, when I doe espie
A farre more beauteous Nymph hid in thy eye?
When thou doost loue, let not that Nymph be nie thee;
Nor when thou woo'st, let not that Nymph be by thee:
Or quite obscure her from thy louers face,
Or hide her beauty in a darker place.
By this, the Nymph perceiu'd he did espie
None but himselfe reflected in her eye,
And, for himselfe no more she meant to shew him,
She shut her eyes & blind-fold thus did woo him:
Fayre boy, thinke not thy beauty can dispence
With any payne due to a bad offence;
Remember how the gods punisht that boy
That scorn'd to let a beauteous Nymph enioy
Her long wisht pleasure, for the peeuish elfe,
Lou'd of all other, needs would loue himselfe.
So mayst thou loue, perhaps thou mayst be blest;
By graunting to a lucklesse Nymphs request:
Then rest awhile with me amid these weeds.
The Sunne that sees all, sees not louers deeds;
Phoebus is blind when loue-sports are begun,
And neuer sees vntill their sports be done:
Beleeue me, boy, thy blood is very stayd,
That art so loth to kisse a youthfull mayd.
Wert thou a mayd, and I a man, Ile show thee,
With what a manly boldnesse I could woo thee,
Fayrer then loues Queene, thus I would begin,
Might not my ouer-boldnesse be a sinne,
I would intreat this fauor, if I could,
Thy rosiat cheeke a little to behold:
Then would I beg a touch, and then a kisse,
And then a lower, yet a higher blisse:
Then would I aske what Ioue and Læda did,
When like a Swan the craftie god was hid?
What came he for? why did he there abide?
Surely I thinke hee did not come to chide:
He came to see her face, to talke, and chat,
To touch, to kisse: came he for nought but that?
Yea, something else: what was it he would haue?
That which all men of maydens ought to craue.
This sayd, her eye-lids wide she did display:
But in this space the boy was runne away:
The wanton speeches of the louely lasse
Forc't him for shame to hide him in the grasse.
When she perceiu'd she could not see him neere her,
When she had cal'd and yet he could not heare her,
Look how when Autumne comes, a little space
Paleth the red blush of the Summers face,
Tearing the leaues the Summers couering,
Three months in weauing by the curious spring,
Making the grasse his greene locks go to wracke,
Tearing each ornament from off his backe;
So did she spoyle the garments she did weare,
Tearing whole ounces of her golden hayre:
She thus deluded of her longed blisse,
With much adoo at last she vttred this:
Why wert thou bashfull, boy? Thou hast no part
Shewes thee to be of such a female heart.
His eye is gray, so is the mornings eye,
That blusheth alwayes when the day is nye.
Then his gray eye's the cause: that cannot be:
The gray-ey'd morne is farre more bold then he:
For with a gentle dew from heauens bright towre,
It gets the mayden-head of eu'ry flowre.
I would to God, he were the rosiat morne,
And I a flowre from out the earth new-borne?
His face was smooth; Narcissus face was so,
And he was carelesse of a sad Nymphs woe.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
Youthfull Narcissus was more bold then he,
Because he dide for loue, though of his shade:
This boy nor loues himselfe, nor yet a mayd.
Besides, his glorious eye is wondrous bright;
So is the fierie and all-seeing light
Of Phœbus, who at eu'ry mornings birth
Blusheth for shame vpon the sullen earth.
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot be:
The fierie Sunne is farre more bold then he;
He nightly kisseth Thætis in the sea:
All know the story of Leucothoe.
His cheeke is red: so is the fragrant Rose,
Whose ruddie cheeke with ouer-blushing gloes:
Then that's the cause; and yet that cannot bee:
Eche blushing Rose is farre more bold then he,
Whose boldnesse may be plainely seene in this,
The ruddy Rose is not asham'd to kisse;
For alwayes when the day is new begun,
The spreading Rose will kisse the morning Sun.
This sayd, hid in the grasse she did espie him,
And stumbling with her will, she fel down by him,
And with her wanton talke, because he woo'd not,
Beg'd that, which he poore nouice vnderstood not:
And, for she could not get a greater blisse,
She did intreate a least a sisters kisse;
But still the more she did the boy beseech,
The more he powted at her wanton speech.
At last the Nymph began to touch his skin,
Whiter then mountaine snow hath euer bin,
And did in purenesse that cleare spring surpasse,
Wherein Acteon saw th'Arcadian lasse.
Thus did she dally long, till at the last,
In her moyst palme she lockt his white hand fast:
Then in her hand his wrest she 'gan to close,
When through his pulses strait the warm bloud gloes,
Whose youthfull musike fanning Cupids fire,
In her warme brest kindled a fresh desire.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his brest,
A part as white and youthfull as the rest,
Where, as his flowry breath still comes and goes,
She felt his gentle heart pant through his clothes.
At last she tooke her hand from off that part,
And sayd, It panted like anothers heart.
Why should it be more feeble, and lesse bold?
Why should the bloud about it be more cold?
Nay sure, that yeelds, onely thy tongue denyes,
And the true fancy of thy heart belyes.
Then did she lift her hand vnto his chin,
And prays'd the prety dimpling of his skin:
But straight his chin she 'gan to ouerslip,
When she beheld the rednesse of his lip;
And sayd, thy lips are soft, presse them to mine,
And thou shalt see they are as soft as thine.
Then would she faine haue gone vnto his eye,
But still his ruddy lip standing so nie,
Drew her hand backe, therefore his eye she mist,
'Ginning to claspe his neck, and would haue kist;
But then the boy did struggle to be gone,
Vowing to leaue her and that place alone.
But then bright Salmacis began to feare,
And sayd, Fayre stranger, I wil leaue thee here
Amid these pleasant places all alone.
So turning back, she fayned to be gone;
But from his sight she had no power to passe,
Therefore she turn'd and hid her in the grasse,
When to the ground bending her snow-white knee,
The glad earth gaue new coates to euery tree.
He then supposing he was all alone,
(Like a young boy that is espy'd of none)
Runnes here, and there, then on the bankes doth looke,
Then on the cristall current of the brooke,
Then with his foote he toucht the siluer streames,
Whose drowsy waues made musike in their dreames,
And, for he was not wholy in, did weepe,
Talking alowd and babbling in their sleepe:
Whose pleasant coolnesse when the boy did feele,
He thrust his foote downe lower to the heele:
O'ercome with whose sweet noyse, he did begin
To strip his soft clothes from his tender skin,
When strait the scorching Sun wept teares of brine,
Because he durst not touch him with his shine,
For feare of spoyling that same Iu'ry skin,
Whose whitenesse he so much delighted in;
And then the Moone, mother of mortall ease,
Would fayne haue come from the Antipodes,
To haue beheld him naked as he stood,
Ready to leape into the siluer flood;
But might not: for the lawes of heauen deny,
To shew mens secrets to a womans eye:
And therefore was her sad and gloomy light
Confin'd vnto the secret-keeping night.
When beauteous Salmacis awhile had gaz'd
Vpon his naked corps, she stood amaz'd,
And both her sparkling eyes burnt in her face,
Like the bright Sunne reflected in a glasse:
Scarce can she stay from running to the boy,
Scarce can she now deferre her hoped ioy;
So fast her youthfull bloud playes in her vaynes,
That almost mad, she scarce herselfe contaynes.
When young Hermaphroditus as he stands,
Clapping his white side with his hollow hands,
Leapt liuely from the land, whereon he stood,
Into the mayne part of the cristall flood.
Like Iu'ry then his snowy body was,
Or a white Lilly in a christall glasse.
Then rose the water Nymph from where she lay,
As hauing wonne the glory of the day,
And her light garments cast from off her skin,
Hee's mine, she cry'd, and so leapt spritely in.
The flattering Iuy who did euer see
Inclaspe the huge trunke of an aged tree,
Let him behold the young boy as he stands,
Inclaspt in wanton Salmacis's hands,
Betwixt those Iu'ry armes she lockt him fast,
Striuing to get away, till at the last,
Fondling, she sayd, why striu'st thou to be gone?
Why shouldst thou so desire to be alone?
Thy cheeke is neuer fayre, when none is by:
For what is red and white, but to the eye:
And for that cause the heauens are darker at night,
Because all creatures close their weary sight;
For there's no mortall can so earely rise,
But still the morning waytes vpon his eyes.
The earely-rising and soone-singing Larke
Can neuer chaunt her sweete notes in the darke,
For sleepe she ne're so little or so long,
Yet still the morning will attend her song.
All creatures that beneath bright Cinthia be,
Haue appetite vnto society;
The ouerflowing waues would haue a bound
Within the confines of the spacious ground,
And all their shady currents would be plaste
In hollow of the solitary vaste,
But what they lothe to let their soft streames sing,
Where non can heare their gentle murmuring.
Yet still the boy regardlesse what she sayd,
Struggled apace to ouerswimme the mayd.
Which when the Nymph perceiu'd she 'gan to say,
Struggle thou mayst, but neuer get away.
So graunt, iust gods, that neuer day may see
The separation twixt this boy and mee.
The gods did heare her pray'r and feele her woe;
And in one body they began to grow.
She felt his youthfull bloud in euery vaine;
And he felt hers warme his colde brest againe.
And euer since was womans loue so blest,
That it will draw bloud from the strongerst brest.
Nor man nor mayd now could they be esteem'd:
Neither, and either, might they well be deem'd,
When the young boy Hermaphroditus sayd,
VVith the set voyce of neither man nor mayd,
Swift Mercury, the author of my life,
And thou my mother Vulcans louely wife,
Let your poore offsprings latest breath be blest,
In but obtayning this his last request,
Grant that whoe're heated by Phoebus beames,
Shall come to coole him in these siluer streames,
May neuermore a manly shape retaine,
But halfe a virgine may returne againe.
His parents hark'ned to his last request,
And with that great power they the fountaine blest.
And since that time who in that fountaine swimmes,
A mayden smoothnesse seyzeth half his limmes.
The Tragedy Of Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark!
I write with sorrow -real and stark-
'The Tragedy Of Hamlet Prince Of Denmark'
Like Othello, The Tempest and king Lear
It's a marvel by the pen of Shakespeare
Who paints the perils of his life...
Stretched by caution, crushed by strife
He cries for the matters of the Prince
Laden with sorrows, full of sufferings
Caused by the death of Hamlet, the king
Whose love was the song he used to sing.
His mother, the queen named Gertrude
Was frail n fickle but not so rude...
Again she married Claudius, the rake,
Her brother-in-law for passions sake;
Began new life with joys and rest
Which was for all a damned incest...
Black robe clad young Hamlet alone
Was tense for the honor of Danish throne.
His mourning thoughts eclipsed his looks
Fondness for books n sports forsook...
Being in grief he lost his mirth-
Lost the pleasures touching his worth
A horrid rumour reached his ears,
shook his mind, enhanced his fears
Based on a report of three sentinels
That a ghost appeared from flames of hell
Resembling the warring late Monarch
Who fought Fortinbras, an enemy of Denmark.
No sooner he heard about this wonder
decided to watch it despite the thunder.
With guards he reached the post n then
The clock struck one and shocked the men
The ghost then appeared, beckoned the son
Who trod ahead and left everyone...
He followed it in fondness and fear
in a really tough and tense atmosphere
The heaven and earth did try to observe
His limbs as hardy as Nemean lion's nerve.
At once the Ghost disclosed with frown
That Claudius killed him for his crown
By pouring potion his life he stole
Then Queen and throne gained as goal.
So slept the king by the brother's hand
And left forever this mortal land
For the Queen he said, 'despite her dodge
Leave her to thorns, in her bosom lodge.'
After narrating the murder so foul
The Ghost, in pain, began to howl
Demanded from him revenge of the act
If he had, by nature, a gut to react
The Prince, then, tried to check his might
Found himself as unable to fight
Lacking stimulus to take revenge
His teeth and fists, he used to clench
At last decided in utter sadness
To leave his rest by putting on madness
Wished he hadn't been born at all
To set things right whether big or small.
Now rise the curtains in room of Polonius
The state's counselor, old and loquacious
Beside a son, he had one daughter
Whose love for Hamlet, he used to slaughter
Possessing a heart precious as pearls
Fair she was of all Shakespeare's girls
Like gorgeous Perdita, but unlike Cordelia
Submissive she was -the fair Ophelia
Reported she once to her father with fear
About the Prince's odd behavior
Who strangely came in her private closet
With sleeves inside out, eyes out of sockets
Made with sighs some painful sounds
cast a glance so piteous, so profound
Her heart bled at this odd view
But the old man found another clue
He termed it as an ecstasy of love
In stature though Hamlet was far above
He thought it fit to tell the king
that the Prince was out of reason's ring
He took her hand and left the room
To put his daughter's fate in gloom.
Right away he went to the Danish court
To tell the royal pair of this report
In short they decided to secretly spy
And used his daughter as a decoy
But Hamlet was a sane insane
He understood their efforts vain.
Maltreated her despite his love
Though knew her well as pretty dove.
By manner changed, he broke her heart
Like actor's good, he played his part.
Ophelia was compelled to think
Of their past love and worthy link.
So cautious then young Hamlet was
Of Guidenstern and Rosencrantz;
'Cause they were sent to check his mind
By the Queen and king seemingly kind
They felt themselves so much helpless
Bent their heads and did confess.
Then Hamlet said to them, 'on earth
I know not where I lost my mirth.'
For cure of mental grievous layers
The Prince was told of city players.
He keenly took interest in them
With open arms he bade welcome.
The players had prospects shining bright
In whom he used to take delight
Requested he to an actor boy
To recite the tragedy of the king of Troy.
That passage was a fiery one
Impressive was its tragic tone
The scene incited him to think
Of Hecuba and the player's link.
If he had his pains and fears
he'd have drowned stage with tears.
For making Claudius his only prey
The prince conceived a plan to play
Based on one Gonzago's life,
Stung by treachery of his wife
Just to avoid certain mishap
He named it as a mousetrap.
The play was the only pregnant thing
To read the mind of the guilty king.
Now Guildenstern informed the king
That he didn't notice anything
And could not find any proof
Because with a craft he kept aloof
Asked the Queen with motherly passion:
'Did he talk in a normal fashion? '
The servants of the royal court
Replied and gave that new report:
'To stage a play the Prince intends,
Invites your grace with all your friends
To watch the play arranged by him'
(In fact to be really caught by him.)
The king replied with a cunning art
That he would go with 'all his heart.'
With all the lords he left the scene
Along with the pretty foolish Queen.
Now Hamlet appeared on the stage
With a tinge of sorrow and of rage
He knew not whether to live or die
His mental state had gone awry.
While he was lost in painful thought
Then all his gifts Ophelia brought
Tried to give them back to him
With teeming eyes and voice so dim
She said that, 'for to the noble mind
Gifts lose worth if giver is unkind.'
The genius prince advised the girl
That 'honesty is like a pearl
So save your pearl and be a nun
Leave this world and everyone.'
With changing tone he said at once:
'Not now but I did love you once.'
The girl in her excess of grief...
lost her comforts and relief...
Recalled with pain his state of mind
So fair and fine, so nice and kind
She thought of Hamlet's wretched tone
That a noble mind was overthrown
Who, once, was a flower of the state
The glass of grace and finer taste
But he had lost his wisdom's range
She sobbed and wept over this change
Then entered the king with crafty men
And hurriedly disclosed his plan.......
To send the Prince in stark exile
By art, by force or by some guile.
Now Hamlet had the only way,
To check the king, he staged a play
The scenes, in fact, did resemble
His father's murder by his uncle
The players did enact on the stage
At which the king expressed his rage
He left the hall with temper lost
with shivering heart and senses frost
The play removed his outer layers
And credit went to all the players
There wasn't anything to hide
Hamlet was quite satisfied...
His heart and conscience had no fear
The great confusion was now clear
He got a message from the Queen
Who was under impact of spleen
Meanwhile came the king so stern
With Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Ordered them to leave the land
With Hamlet and a dispatch by hand
They promised and then left the king
With aching heart and eyes running
When the king was left alone there
In melancholic atmosphere
His conscience started pricking him
In prayers he tried to utter a hymn
His prayers were full of confession
With no prospects of his salvation
So bad and foul was his offense
He found no shield for his defense
His sin was foul as black as death
He prayed to God with broken breath
When Hamlet saw him lost in prayers
Thought of his incestuous pleasures
He thought, 'I 'll kill him for his crime
That would be much better time
While he would be asleep or drunk
Or in rage he would be sunk....'
While thinking this, his flaw subdued,
Delayed his act, and left the lewd;
Proceeded to his Mother's chamber
To speak bitter words like dagger
Present was Polonius there.........
Of his fate quite unaware..............
Hid himself behind the curtain
Neither life nor death was certain.
Hamlet called her not his mother
but loving wife of husband's brother.
His rashness caused her louder shriek
Harassed the Queen as a freak
Severely tried to show her a glass
The Man was shocked behind the arras
That voice raised in him a storm
He stabbed at where the cry came from
The man (behind) , cried again
In painful voice, 'O, I am slain.'
So justly killed was the king's friend
And act of spying became his end.
Hamlet's thoughts were not sinister
But he became his scourge n minister
By dagger words he op'd her eyes
His wretched voice shook the skies
Convinced her, and disclosed atlast
He wasn't mad 'but mad in craft.'
He told her in his accent flat:
'I must to England, you know that? '
He painfully this news revealed
That letters of the king were sealed
Then dragged the body of the man
In grief there did Queen remain...
She told the king of 'the heavy deed, '
So then he started taking heed..........
He said, 'I see it writ on wall...
His life is full of threats to all.'
By ready hands at once he wrote
To the king of England a cunning note
Touching Hamlet's present death
Till then he wont take joyous breath.
For those who know Shakespeare's art
This story has another part..............
Young Fortinbras came there at last
For Hamlet served a big contrast.
That tender Prince, a man of mission
Was burned by fire of great ambition
Without any reason-big and sound
Went to Poland for a patch of ground;
Suffering from the thirst for fame
Not profit but for the sake of name.
This act opened Hamlet's eyes
The hidden flames began to rise.
He thought then that, 'from this time forth
My thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth.'
A gentleman informed Gertrude
About Ophelia's madness as a fruit
Of her father's sad demise;
Entered she with half-shut eyes.
Nobody there could bear so long
The grief reflected from her songs.
A noise was heard from outside the hall
Which confused every big and small.
The mob was crying against the king
By, 'Laertes shall be the Danish king.'
Laertes full of fiery passions...........
Ordered them to have patience
Entered with full zest and wrath
From the mouth flowed angry froth
Blamed the king for the father's murder
Spoke to him with a mighty thunder.
The vile king was good at game
Laertes, by him, was easily tamed
By cunning words turned all attention
Towards Hamlet moved his tension.
Hamlet, who was sent to England,
by chance couldn't reach that land.
Piracy -an ugly, criminal act,
Became for him a lucky fact.
He left his ship to fight with pirates
His 'fellows'unknowingly then left.
He got saved from being killed
By king of England 'against his will.
England killed on orders stern
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-
On fortunes favors who can depend?
By hands of justice, they met their end.
He told it all to Horatio-his friend
That there's a power that shapes our ends.
On the death of both these men
He said that life is like to say 'one'.
Then, Dear Readers! towards his goal
Started moving his ' prophetic soul.'
Claudius made, then, a plan to snatch
His life, he arranged a fencing match-
Sent his message by a courtier
To prepare his dagger and rapier.
Clear of guilt, the Prince at ease
Accept the challenge by Laertes.
A scheme there is in a sparrow's fall
So 'on my part, the readiness is all.'
Prepared were table, trumpets, drums-
Claudius called, 'come, Hamlet, come.'
Fencing match was a scheme in fact
In which he used then all his tact.
He really poisoned Laertes ' mind
with revengeful thoughts bloody n unkind
Hamlet spoke, ere the fight began
To laertes, 'you are a gentleman
I've done you wrong but not in rudeness
I tell you that it was my madness.'
With these words, prepared to play
There death started a game to play
Laertes struck with poisoned weapon
None could understand what happened.
He himself was wounded badly -
Thought that he was killed but justly.
Envenomed drink was also there
Which was drunk by his Mother.
All that happened for no reason
All were crying, 'treason, treason'
Hamlet, wounded, thought to avenge
killed the king and took revenge.
He cried, 'incestuous, murderous Dane!
Fall! but never to rise again...............'
Alas! he saw that sergeant Death
Had come to take his last breath..
He felt that passed the Golden moments,
'the Time is up, the rest is silence.'
Cease my pen! don't speak of glory
who can dare to read his story?
An unjust act, a foul practice-
Revenge, O Prince! is a wild justice.
With all my heart, I remember you
Would you believe that I LOVE YOU...? ? ?
THEY met still sooner. 'Twas a year from thence
When Lucy Gresham, the sick semptress girl,
Who sewed by Marian's chair so still and quick,
And leant her head upon the back to cough
More freely when, the mistress turning round,
The others took occasion to laugh out,–
Gave up a last. Among the workers, spoke
A bold girl with black eyebrows and red lips,–
'You know the news? Who's dying, do you think?
Our Lucy Gresham. I expected it
As little as Nell Hart's wedding. Blush not, Nell,
Thy curls be red enough without thy cheeks;
And, some day, there'll be found a man to dote
On red curls.–Lucy Gresham swooned last night,
Dropped sudden in the street while going home;
And now the baker says, who took her up
And laid her by her grandmother in bed,
He'll give her a week to die in. Pass the silk.
Let's hope he gave her a loaf too, within reach,
For otherwise they'll starve before they die,
That funny pair of bedfellows! Miss Bell,
I'll thank you for the scissors. The old crone
Is paralytic–that's the reason why
Our Lucy's thread went faster than her breath,
Which went too quick, we all know. Marian Erle!
Why, Marian Erle, you're not the fool to cry?
Your tears spoil Lady Waldemar's new dress,
You piece of pity!'
Marian rose up straight,
And, breaking through the talk and through the work,
Went outward, in the face of their surprise,
To Lucy's home, to nurse her back to life
Or down to death. She knew by such an act,
All place and grace were forfeit in the house,
Whose mistress would supply the missing hand
With necessary, not inhuman haste,
And take no blame. But pity, too, had dues:
She could not leave a solitary soul
To founder in the dark, while she sate still
And lavished stitches on a lady's hem
As if no other work were paramount.
'Why, God,' thought Marian, 'has a missing hand
This moment; Lucy wants a drink, perhaps.
Let others miss me! never miss me, God!'
So Marian sat by Lucy's bed, content
With duty, and was strong, for recompense,
To hold the lamp of human love arm-high
To catch the death-strained eyes and comfort them,
Until the angels, on the luminous side
Of death, had got theirs ready. And she said,
When Lucy thanked her sometimes, called her kind,
It touched her strangely. 'Marian Erle called kind!
What, Marian, beaten and sold, who could not die!
'Tis verily good fortune to be kind.
Ah, you,' she said, 'who are born to such a grace,
Be sorry for the unlicensed class, the poor,
Reduced to think the best good fortune means
That others, simply, should be kind to them.'
From sleep to sleep while Lucy slid away
So gently, like a light upon a hill,
Of which none names the moment when it goes,
Though all see when 'tis gone,–a man came in
And stood beside the bed. The old idiot wretch
Screamed feebly, like a baby overlain,
'Sir, sir, you won't mistake me for the corpse?
Don't look at me, sir! never bury me!
Although I lie here, I'm alive as you,
Except my legs and arms,–I eat and drink,
And understand,–(that you're the gentleman
Who fits the funerals up, Heaven speed you, sir,)
And certainly I should be livelier still
If Lucy here . . sir, Lucy is the corpse . .
Had worked more properly to buy me wine:
But Lucy, sir, was always slow at work,
I shan't lose much by Lucy. Marian Erle,
Speak up and show the gentleman the corpse.'
And then a voice said, 'Marian Erle.' She rose;
It was the hour for angels–there, stood hers!
She scarcely marvelled to see Romney Leigh.
As light November snows to empty nests,
As grass to graves, as moss to mildewed stones,
As July suns to ruins, through the rents,
As ministering spirits to mourners, through a loss,
As Heaven itself to men, through pangs of death,
He came uncalled wherever grief had come.
'And so,' said Marian Erle, 'we meet anew,'
And added softly, 'so, we shall not part.'
He was not angry that she had left the house
Wherein he placed her. Well–she had feared it might
Have vexed him. Also, when he found her set
On keeping, though the dead was out of sight,
That half-dead, half-live body left behind
With cankerous heart and flesh,–which took your best
And cursed you for the little good it did,
(Could any leave the bedrid wretch alone,
So joyless, she was thankless even to God,
Much less to you?) he did not say 'twas well
Yet Marian thought he did not take it ill,–
Since day by day he came, and, every day,
She felt within his utterance and his eyes
A closer, tenderer presence of the soul,
Until at last he said, 'We shall not part.'
On that same day, was Marian's work complete:
She had smoothed the empty bed, and swept the floor
Of coffin sawdust, set the chairs anew
The dead had ended gossip in, and stood
In that poor room so cold and orderly,
The door-key in her hand, prepared to go
As they had, howbeit not their way. He spoke.
'Dear Marian, of one clay God made us all,
And though men push and poke and paddle in't
(As children play at fashioning dirt-pies)
And call their fancies by the name of facts,
Assuming difference, lordship, privilege,
When all's plain dirt,–they come back to it at last;
The first grave-digger proves it with a spade,
And pats all even. Need we wait for this,
You, Marian, and I, Romney?'
She at that,
Looked blindly in his face, as when one looks
Through drying autumn-rains to find the sky.
He went on speaking.
'Marian, I being born
What men call noble, and you, issued from
The noble people,–though the tyrannous sword
Which pierced Christ's heart, has cleft the world in twain
'Twixt class and class, opposing rich to poor,–
Shall we keep parted? Not so. Let us lean
And strain together rather, each to each,
Compress the red lips of this gaping wound,
As far as two souls can,–ay, lean and league,
I, from my superabundance,–from your want,
You,–joining in a protest 'gainst the wrong
On both sides!'–
All the rest, he held her hand
In speaking, which confused the sense of much;
Her heart, against his words, beat out so thick
They might as well be written on the dust
Where some poor bird, escaping from hawk's beak,
Has dropped, and beats its shuddering wings,–the lines
Are rubbed so,–yet 'twas something like to this,
–'That they two, standing at the two extremes
Of social classes, had received one seal,
Been dedicate and drawn beyond themselves
To mercy and ministration,–he, indeed,
Through what he knew, and she, through what she felt,
He, by man's conscience, she, by woman's heart,
Relinquishing their several 'vantage posts
Of wealthy case and honourable toil,
To work with God at love. And, since God willed
That, putting out his hand to touch this ark,
He found a woman's hand there, he'd accept
The sign too, hold the tender fingers fast,
And say, 'My fellow-worker, be my wife!'
She told the tale with simple, rustic turns,–
Strong leaps of meaning in her sudden eyes
That took the gaps of any imperfect phrase
Of the unschooled speaker: I have rather writ
The thing I understood so, than the thing
I heard so. And I cannot render right
Her quick gesticulation, wild yet soft,
Self-startled from the habitual mood she used,
Half sad, half languid,–like dumb creatures (now
A rustling bird, and now a wandering deer,
Or squirrel against the oak-gloom flashing up
His sidelong burnished head, in just her way
Of savage spontaneity,) that stir
Abruptly the green silence of the woods,
And make it stranger, holier, more profound;
As Nature's general heart confessed itself
Of life, and then fell backward on repose.
I kissed the lips that ended.–'So indeed
He loves you, Marian?'
'Loves me!' She looked up
With a child's wonder when you ask him first
Who made the sun–a puzzled blush, that grew,
Then broke off in a rapid radiant smile
Of sure solution. 'Loves me! he loves all,–
And me, of course. He had not asked me else
To work with him for ever, and be his wife.'
Her words reproved me. This perhaps was love–
To have its hands too full of gifts to give,
For putting out a hand to take a gift;
To love so much, the perfect round of love
Includes, in strictly conclusion, the being loved;
As Eden-dew went up and fell again,
Enough for watering Eden. Obviously
She had not thought about his love at all:
The cataracts of her soul had poured themselves
And risen self-crowned in rainbow; would she ask
Who crowned her?–it sufficed that she was crowned.
With women of my class, 'tis otherwise:
We haggle for the small change of our gold,
And so much love, accord, for so much love,
Rialto-prices. Are we therefore wrong?
If marriage be a contract, look to it then,
Contracting parties should be equal, just;
Bit if, a simple fealty on one side,
A mere religion,–right to give, is all,
And certain brides of Europe duly ask
To mount the pile, as Indian widows do,
The spices of their tender youth heaped up,
The jewels of their gracious virtues worn,
More gems, more glory,–to consume entire
For a living husband! as the man's alive,
Not dead,–the woman's duty, by so much,
Advanced in England, beyond Hindostan.
I sate there, musing, till she touched my hand
With hers, as softly as a strange white bird
She feared to startle in touching. 'You are kind.
But are you, peradventure, vexed at heart
Because your cousin takes me for a wife?
I know I am not worthy–nay, in truth,
I'm glad on't, since, for that, he chooses me.
He likes the poor things of the world the best;
I would not therefore, if I could, be rich,
It pleasures him to stoop for buttercups;
I would not be a rose upon the wall
A queen might stop at, near the palace-door,
To say to a courtier, 'Pluck that rose for me,
'It's prettier than the rest.' O Romeny Leigh!
I'd rather far be trodden by his foot,
Than like in a great queen's bosom'
Out of breath
'Sweet Marian, do you disavow
The roses with that face?'
She dropt her head
As if the wind had caught that flower of her,
And bent it in the garden,–then looked up
With grave assurance. 'Well, you think me bold!
But so we all are, when we're praying to God.
And if I'm bold–yet, lady, credit me,
That, since I know myself for what I am
Much fitter for his handmaid than his wife,
I'll prove the handmaid and the wife at once,
Serve tenderly, and love obediently,
And be a worthier mate, perhaps, than some
Who are wooed in silk among their learned books;
While I shall set myself to read his eyes,
Till such grow plainer to me than the French
To wisest ladies. Do you think I'll miss
A letter, in the spelling of his mind?'
No more than they do, when they sit and write
Their flying words with flickering wild-fowl tails,
Nor ever pause to ask how many t s,
Should that be a y or i –they know't so well:
I've seen them writing, when I brought a dress
And waited,–floating out their soft white hands
On shining paper. But they're hard sometimes,
For all those hands!–we've used out many nights,
And worn the yellow daylight into shreds
Which flapped and shivered down our aching eyes
Till night appeared more tolerable, just
That pretty ladies might look beautiful,
Who said at last . . 'You're lazy in that house!
'You're slow in sending home the work,–I count
'I've waited near an hour for't.' Pardon me–
I do not blame them, madam, nor misprize;
They are fair and gracious; ay, but not like you,
Since none but you has Mister Leigh's own blood
Both noble and gentle,–and without it . . well,
They are fair, I said; so fair, it scarce seems strange
That, flashing out in any looking-glass
The wonder of their glorious brows and breasts,
They are charmed so, they forget to look behind
And mark how pale we've grown, we pitiful
Remainders of the world. And so, perhaps,
If Mister Leigh had chosen a wife from these,
She might . . although he's better than her best,
And dearly she would know it . . steal a thought
Which should be all his, an eye-glance from his face,
To plunge into the mirror opposite,
In search of her own beauty's pearl: while I . .
Ah, dearest lady, serge will outweigh silk
For winter-wear, when bodies feel a-cold,
And I'll be a true wife to your cousin Leigh.'
Before I answered, he was there himself.
I think he had been standing in the room,
And listened probably to half her talk,
Arrested, turned to stone,–as white as stone.
Will tender sayings make men look so white?
He loves her then profoundly.
'You are here,
Aurora? Here I meet you!'–We clasped hands.
'Even so, dear Romney. Lady Waldemar
Has sent me in haste to find a cousin of mine
Who shall be.'
'Lady Waldemar is good.'
'Here's one, at least, who is good,' I sighed and touched
Poor Marian's happy head, as, doglike, she
Most passionately patient, waited on,
A-tremble for her turn of greeting words;
'I've sat a full hour with your Marian Erle,
And learnt the thing by heart,–and, from my heart,
Am therefore competent to give you thanks
For such a cousin.'
'You accept at last
A gift from me, Aurora, without scorn?
At last I please you?'–How his voice was changed!
'You cannot please a woman against her will,
And once you vexed me. Shall we speak of that?
We'll say, then, you were noble in it all,
And I not ignorant–let it pass. And now,
You please me, Romney, when you please yourself;
So, please you, be fanatical in love,
And I'm well pleased. Ah, cousin! at the old hall,
Among the gallery portraits of our Leighs,
We shall not find a sweeter signory
Than this pure forehead's.'
Not a word he said.
How arrogant men are!–Even philanthropists,
Who try to take a wife up in the way
They put down a subscription-cheque,–if once
She turns and says, 'I will not tax you so,
Most charitable sir,'–feel ill at ease,
As though she had wronged them somehow. I suppose
We women should remember what we are,
And not throw back an obolus inscribed
With Cæsar's image, lightly. I resumed.
'It strikes me, some of those sublime Vandykes
Were not too proud, to make good saints in heaven;
And, if so, then they're not too proud to-day
To bow down (now the ruffs are off their necks)
And own this good, true, noble Marian, . . yours,
And mine, I'll say!–For poets (bear the word)
Half-poets even, are still whole democrats,–
Oh, not that we're disloyal to the high,
But loyal to the low, and cognisant
Of the less scrutable majesties. For me,
I comprehend your choice–I justify
Your right in choosing.'
'No, no, no' he sighed,
With a sort of melancholy impatient scorn,
As some grown man, who never had a child,
Puts by some child who plays at being a man;
–'You did not, do not, cannot comprehend
My choice, my ends, my motives, nor myself:
No matter now–we'll let it pass, you say.
I thank you for your generous cousinship
Which helps this present; I accept for her
Your favourable thoughts. We're fallen on days,
We two, who are not poets, when to wed
Requires less mutual love than common love,
For two together to bear out at once
Upon the loveless many. Work in pairs,
In galley-couplings or in marriage-rings,
The difference lies in the honour, not the work,–
And such we're bound to, I and she. But love,
(You poets are benighted in this age;
The hour's too late for catching even moths,
You've gnats instead,) love!–love's fool-paradise
Is out of date, like Adam's. Set a swan
To swim the Trenton, rather than true love
To float its fabulous plumage safely down
The cataracts of this loud transition-time,–
Whose roar, for ever, henceforth, in my ears,
Must keep me deaf to music.'
There, I turned
And kissed poor Marian, out of discontent.
The man had baffled, chafed me, till I flung
For refuge to the woman,–as, sometimes,
Impatient of some crowded room's close smell,
You throw a window open, and lean out
To breathe a long breath, in the dewy night,
And cool your angry forehead. She, at least,
Was not built up, as walls are, brick by brick;
Each fancy squared, each feeling ranged by line,
The very heat of burning youth applied
To indurate forms and systems! excellent bricks,
A well-built wall,–which stops you on the road,
And, into which, you cannot see an inch
Although you beat your head against it–pshaw!
'Adieu,' I said, 'for this time, cousins both:
And, cousin Romney, pardon me the word,
Be happy!–oh, in some esoteric sense
Of course!–I mean no harm in wishing well.
Adieu, my Marian:–may she come to me,
Dear Romney, and be married from my house?
It is not part of your philosophy
To keep your bird upon the blackthorn?'
He answered, 'but it is:–I take my wife
Directly from the people,–and she comes,
As Austria's daughter to imperial France,
Betwixt her eagles, blinking not her race,
From Margaret's Court at garret-height, to meet
And wed me at St. James's, nor put off
Her gown of serge for that. The things we do,
We do: we'll wear no mask, as if we blushed.'
'Dear Romney, you're the poet,' I replied,–
But felt my smile too mournful for my word,
And turned and went. Ay, masks, I thought,–beware
Of tragic masks, we tie before the glass,
Uplifted on the cothurn half a yard
Above the natural stature! we would play
Heroic parts to ourselves,–and end, perhaps,
As impotently as Athenian wives
Who shrieked in fits at the Eumenides.
His foot pursued me down the stair. 'At least,
You'll suffer me to walk with you beyond
These hideous streets, these graves, where men alive,
Packed close with earthworms, burr unconsciously
About the plague that slew them; let me go.
The very women pelt their souls in mud
At any woman who walks here alone.
How came you here alone?–you are ignorant.'
We had a strange and melancholy walk:
The night came drizzling downward in dark rain;
And, as we walked, the colour of the time,
The act, the presence, my hand upon his arm,
His voice in my ear, and mine to my own sense,
Appeared unnatural. We talked modern books,
And daily papers; Spanish marriage-schemes,
And English climate–was't so cold last year?
And will the wind change by to-morrow morn?
Can Guizot stand? is London full? is trade
Competitive? has Dickens turned his hinge
A-pinch upon the fingers of the great?
And are potatoes to grow mythical
Like moly? will the apple die out too?
Which way is the wind to-night? south-east? due east?
We talked on fast, while every common word
Seemed tangled with the thunder at one end,
And ready to pull down upon our heads
A terror out of sight. And yet to pause
Were surelier mortal: we tore greedily up
All silence, all the innocent breathing -points,
As if, like pale conspirators in haste,
We tore up papers where our signatures
Imperilled us to an ugly shame or death.
I cannot tell you why it was. 'Tis plain
We had not loved nor hated: wherefore dread
To spill gunpowder on ground safe from fire?
Perhaps we had lived too closely, to diverge
So absolutely: leave two clocks, they say,
Wound up to different hours, upon one shelf,
And slowly, through the interior wheels of each,
The blind mechanic motion sets itself
A-throb, to feel out for the mutual time.
It was not so with us, indeed. While he
Struck midnight, I kept striking six at dawn,
While he marked judgment, I, redemption-day;
And such exception to a general law,
Imperious upon inert matter even,
Might make us, each to either insecure,
A beckoning mystery, or a troubling fear.
I mind me, when we parted at the door,
How strange his good-night sounded,–like good-night
Beside a deathbed, where the morrow's sun
Is sure to come too late for more good days:–
And all that night I thought . . 'Good-night,' said he.
And so, a month passed. Let me set it down
At once,–I have been wrong, I have been wrong.
We are wrong always, when we think too much
Of what we think or are; albeit our thoughts
Be verily bitter as self-sacrifice,
We're no less selfish. If we sleep on rocks
Or roses, sleeping past the hour of noon
We're lazy. This I write against myself.
I had done a duty in the visit paid
To Marian, and was ready otherwise
To give the witness of my presence and name
Whenever she should marry.–Which, I thought
Sufficed. I even had cast into the scale
An overweight of justice toward the match;
The Lady Waldemar had missed her tool,
Had broken it in the lock as being too straight
For a crooked purpose, while poor Marian Erle
Missed nothing in my accents or my acts:
I had not been ungenerous on the whole,
Nor yet untender; so, enough. I felt
Tired, overworked: this marriage somewhat jarred;
Or, if it did not, all the bridal noise . .
The pricking of the map of life with pins,
In schemes of . . 'Here we'll go,' and 'There we'll stay,'
And 'Everywhere we'll prosper in our love,'
Was scarce my business. Let them order it;
Who else should care? I threw myself aside,
As one who had done her work and shuts her eyes
To rest the better.
I, who should have known,
Forereckoned mischief! Where we disavow
Being keeper to our brother, we're his Cain.
I might have held that poor child to my heart
A little longer! 'twould have hurt me much
To have hastened by its beats the marriage day,
And kept her safe meantime from tampering hands,
Or, peradventure, traps? What drew me back
From telling Romney plainly, the designs
Of Lady Waldemar, as spoken out
To me . . me? had I any right, ay, right,
With womanly compassion and reserve
To break the fall of woman's impudence?–
To stand by calmly, knowing what I knew,
And hear him call her good?
Distrust that word.
'There is none good save God,' said Jesus Christ.
If He once, in the first creation-week,
Called creatures good,–for ever afterward,
The Devil only has done it, and his heirs.
The knaves who win so, and the fools who lose;
The world's grown dangerous. In the middle age,
I think they called malignant fays and imps
Good people. A good neighbour, even in this
Is fatal sometimes,–cuts your morning up
To mince-meat of the very smallest talk,
Then helps to sugar her bohea at night
With her reputation. I have known good wives,
As chaste, or nearly so, as Potiphar's;
And good, good mothers, who would use a child
To better an intrigue; good friends, beside.
(Very good) who hung succinctly round your neck
And sucked your breath, as cats are fabled to do
By sleeping infants. And we all have known
Good critics, who have stamped out poet's hopes;
Good statesmen, who pulled ruin on the state;
Good patriots, who for a theory, risked a cause
Good kings, who disemboweled for a tax;
Good popes, who brought all good to jeopardy;
Good Christians, who sate still in easy chairs,
And damned the general world for standing up.–
Now, may the good God pardon all good men!
How bitterly I speak,–how certainly
The innocent white milk in us is turned,
By much persistent shining of the sun!
Shake up the sweetest in us long enough
With men, it drips to foolish curd, too sour
To feed the most untender of Christ's lambs.
I should have thought . . .a woman of the world
Like her I'm meaning,–centre to herself,
Who has wheeled on her own pivot half a life
In isolated self-love and self-will,
As a windmill seen at distance radiating
Its delicate white vans against the sky,
So soft and soundless, simply beautiful,–
Seen nearer . . what a roar and tear it makes,
How it grinds and bruises! . . if she loves at last,
Her love's a re-adjustment of self-love,
No more; a need felt of another's use
To her one advantage,–as the mill wants grain,
The fire wants fuel, the very wolf wants prey;
And none of these is more unscrupulous
Than such a charming woman when she loves.
She'll not be thwarted by an obstacle
So trifling as . . her soul is, . . much less yours!–
Is God a consideration?–she loves you,
Not God; she will not flinch for him indeed:
She did not for the Marchioness of Perth,
When wanting tickets for the birthnight ball.
She loves you, sir, with passion, to lunacy;
She loves you like her diamonds . . almost.
A month passed so, and then the notice came;
On such a day the marriage at the church.
I was not backward.
Half St. Giles in frieze
Was bidden to meet St. James in cloth of gold,
And, after contract at the altar, pass
To eat a marriage-feast on Hampstead Heath.
Of course the people came in uncompelled,
Lame, blind, and worse–sick, sorrowful, and worse,
The humours of the peccant social wound
All pressed out, poured out upon Pimlico.
Exasperating the unaccustomed air
With hideous interfusion: you'd suppose
A finished generation, dead of plague,
Swept outward from their graves into the sun,
The moil of death upon them. What a sight!
A holiday of miserable men
Is sadder than a burial-day of kings.
They clogged the streets, they oozed into the church
In a dark slow stream, like blood. To see that sight,
The noble ladies stood up in their pews,
Some pale for fear, a few as red for hate,
Some simply curious , some just insolent,
And some in wondering scorn,–'What next? what next?'
These crushed their delicate rose-lips from the smile
That misbecame them in a holy place,
With broidered hems of perfumed handkerchiefs;
Those passed the salts with confidence of eyes
And simultaneous shiver of moiré silk;
While all the aisles, alive and black with heads,
Crawled slowly toward the altar from the street,
As bruised snakes crawl and hiss out of a hole
With shuddering involutions, swaying slow
From right to left, and then from left to right,
In pants and pauses. What an ugly crest
Of faces, rose upon you everywhere,
From that crammed mass! you did not usually
See faces like them in the open day:
They hide in cellars, not to make you mad
As Romney Leigh is.–Faces?–O my God,
We call those, faces? men's and women's . . ay,
And children's;–babies, hanging like a rag
Forgotten on their mother's neck,–poor mouths.
Wiped clean of mother's milk by mother's blow
Before they are taught her cursing. Faces . . phew,
We'll call them vices festering to despairs,
Or sorrows petrifying to vices: not
A finger-touch of God left whole on them;
All ruined, lost–the countenance worn out
As the garments, the will dissolute as the acts,
The passions loose and draggling in the dirt
To trip the foot up at the first free step!–
Those, faces! 'twas as if you had stirred up hell
To heave its lowest dreg-fiends uppermost
In fiery swirls of slime,–such strangled fronts,
Such obdurate jaws were thrown up constantly,
To twit you with your race, corrupt your blood,
And grind to devilish colors all your dreams
Henceforth, . . though, haply, you should drop asleep
By clink of silver waters, in a muse
On Raffael's mild Madonna of the Bird.
I've waked and slept through many nights and days
Since then,–but still that day will catch my breath
Like a nightmare. There are fatal days, indeed,
In which the fibrous years have taken root
So deeply, that they quiver to their tops
Whene'er you stir the dust of such a day.
My cousin met me with his eyes and hand,
And then, with just a word, . . that 'Marian Erle
Was coming with her bridesmaids presently,'
Made haste to place me by the altar-stair,
Where he and other noble gentlemen
And high-born ladies, waited for the bride.
We waited. It was early: there was time
For greeting, and the morning's compliment;
And gradually a ripple of women's talk
Arose and fell, and tossed about a spray
Of English s s, soft as a silent hush,
And, notwithstanding, quite as audible
As louder phrases thrown out by the men.
–'Yes really, if we've need to wait in church,
We've need to talk there.'–'She? 'Tis Lady Ayr
In blue–not purple! that's the dowager.'
–'She looks as young.'–'She flirts as young, you mean!
Why if you had seen her upon Thursday night,
You'd call Miss Norris modest.'–' You again!
I waltzed with you three hours back. Up at six,
Up still at ten: scarce time to change one's shoes.
I feel as white and sulky as a ghost,
So pray don't speak to me, Lord Belcher.'–'No,
I'll look at you instead, and it's enough
While you have that face.' 'In church, my lord! fie, fie!'
–'Adair, you stayed for the Division?'–'Lost
By one.' 'The devil it is! I'm sorry for't.
And if I had not promised Mistress Grove' . .
–'You might have kept your word to Liverpool.'
'Constituents must remember, after all,
We're mortal.'–'We remind them of it.'–'Hark,
The bride comes! Here she comes, in a stream of milk!'
–'There? Dear, you are asleep still; don't you know
The five Miss Granvilles? always dressed in white
To show they're ready to be married.'–'Lower!
The aunt is at your elbow.'–'Lady Maud,
Did Lady Waldemar tell you she had seen
This girl of Leigh's?' 'No,–wait! 'twas Mrs. Brookes,
Who told me Lady Waldemar told her–
No, 'twasn't Mrs. Brookes.'–'She's pretty?'–'Who?
Mrs.Brookes? Lady Waldemar?'–'How hot!
Pray is't the law to-day we're not to breathe?
You're treading on my shawl–I thank you, sir.'
–'They say the bride's a mere child, who can't read,
But knows the things she shouldn't, with wide-awake
Great eyes. I'd go through fire to look at her.'
–'You do, I think.'–'and Lady Waldemar
(You see her; sitting close to Romney Leigh;
How beautiful she looks, a little flushed!)
Has taken up the girl, and organised
Leigh's folly. Should I have come here, you suppose,
Except she'd asked me?'–'She'd have served him more
By marrying him herself.'
'Ah–there she comes,
The bride, at last!'
'Indeed, no. Past eleven.
She puts off her patched petticoat to-day
And puts on May-fair manners, so begins
By setting us to wait.'–'Yes, yes, this Leigh
Was always odd; it's in the blood, I think;
His father's uncle's cousin's second son
Was, was . . you understand me–and for him,
He's stark!–has turned quite lunatic upon
This modern question of the poor–the poor:
An excellent subject when you're moderate;
You've seen Prince Albert's model lodging-house?
Does honour to his royal highness. Good:
But would he stop his carriage in Cheapside
To shake a common fellow by the fist
Whose name was . . Shakspeare? no. We draw a line,
And if we stand not by our order, we
In England, we fall headlong. Here's a sight,–
A hideous sight, a most indecent sight,–
My wife would come, sir, or I had kept her back.
By heaven, sir, when poor Damiens' trunk and limbs
Were torn by horses, women of the court
Stood by and stared, exactly as to-day
On this dismembering of society,
With pretty troubled faces.'
'Now, at last.
She comes now.'
'Where? who sees? you push me, sir,
Beyond the point of what is mannerly.
You're standing, madam, on my second flounce–
I do beseech you.'
'No–it's not the bride.
Half-past eleven. How late! the bridegroom, mark,
Gets anxious and goes out.'
'And as I said . .
These Leighs! our best blood running in the rut!
It's something awful. We had pardoned him
A simple misalliance, got up aside
For a pair of sky-blue eyes; our House of Lords
Has winked at such things, and we've all been young.
But here's an inter-marriage reasoned out,
A contract (carried boldly to the light,
To challenge observation, pioneer
Good acts by a great example) 'twixt the extremes
Of martyrised society,–on the left,
The well-born,–on the right, the merest mob.
To treat as equals!–'tis anarchical!
It means more than it says–'tis damnable!
Why, sir, we can't have even our coffee good,
Unless we strain it.'
'Here, Miss Leigh!'
You're Romney's friend. What's all this waiting for?'
'I cannot tell. The bride has lost her head
(And way, perhaps!) to prove her sympathy
With the bridegroom.'
'What,–you also, disapprove!'
'Oh I approve of nothing in the world,'
He answered; 'not of you, still less of me,
Nor even of Romney–though he's worth us both.
We're all gone wrong. The tune in us is lost:
And whistling in back alleys to the moon,
Will never catch it.'
Let me draw Lord Howe;
A born aristocrat, bred radical,
And educated socialist, who still
Goes floating, on traditions of his kind,
Across the theoretic flood from France,–
Though, like a drenched Noah on a rotten deck,
Scarce safer for his place there. He, at least,
Will never land on Ararat, he knows,
To recommence the world on the old plan:
Indeed, he thinks, said world had better end;
He sympathises rather with the fish
Outside, than with the drowned paired beasts within
Who cannot couple again or multiply:
And that's the sort of Noah he is, Lord Howe.
He never could be anything complete,
Except a loyal, upright gentleman,
A liberal landlord, graceful diner-out,
And entertainer more than hospitable,
Whom authors dine with and forget the port.
Whatever he believes, and it is much,
But no-wise certain . . now here and now there, . .
He still has sympathies beyond his creed,
Diverting him from action. In the House,
No party counts upon him, and all praise:
All like his books too, (for he has written books)
Which, good to lie beside a bishop's chair,
So oft outreach themselves with jets of fire
At which the foremost of the progressists
May warm audacious hands in passing by.
–Of stature over-tall, lounging for ease;
Light hair, that seems to carry a wind in it,
And eyes that, when they look on you, will lean
Their whole weight half in indolence, and half
In wishing you unmitigated good,
Until you know not if to flinch from him
Or thank him.–'Tis Lord Howe.
'We're all gone wrong,'
Said he, 'and Romney, that dear friend of ours,
Is no-wise right. There's one true thing on earth;
That's love! He takes it up, and dresses it,
And acts a play with it, as Hamlet did,
To show what cruel uncles we have been,
And how we should be uneasy in our minds,
While he, Prince Hamlet, weds a pretty maid
(Who keeps us too long waiting, we'll confess)
By symbol, to instruct us formally
To fill the ditches up 'twixt class and class,
And live together in phalansteries.
What then?–he's mad, our Hamlet! clap his play,
And bind him.'
'Ah, Lord Howe, this spectacle
Pulls stronger at us than the Dane's. See there!
The crammed aisles heave and strain and steam with life–
Dear Heaven, what life!'
'Why , yes,–a poet sees;
Which makes him different from a common man.
I, too, see somewhat, though I cannot sing;
I should have been a poet, only that
My mother took fright at the ugly world,
And bore me tongue-tied. If you'll grant me now
That Romney gives us a fine actor-piece
To make us merry on his marriage-morn,–
The fable's worse than Hamlet's, I'll concede
The terrible people, old and poor and blind,
Their eyes eat out with plague and poverty
From seeing beautiful and cheerful sights,
We'll liken to a brutalized King Lear,
Led out,–by no means to clear scores with wrongs–
His wrongs are so far back, . . he has forgot;
All's past like youth; but just to witness here
A simple contract,–he, upon his side,
And Regan with her sister Goneril
And all the dappled courtiers and court-fools,
On their side. Not that any of these would say
They're sorry, neither. What is done, is done.
And violence is now turned privilege,
As cream turns cheese, if buried long enough.
What could such lovely ladies have to do
With the old man there, in those ill-odorous rags,
Except to keep the wind-side of him? Lear
Is flat and quiet, as a decent grave;
He does not curse his daughters in the least.
Be these his daughters? Lear is thinking of
His porridge chiefly . . is it getting cold
At Hampstead? will the ale be served in pots?
Poor Lear, poor daughters? Bravo, Romney's play?'
A murmur and a movement drew around;
A naked whisper touched us. Something wrong!
What's wrong! That black crowd, as an overstrained
Cord, quivered in vibrations, and I saw
Was that his face I saw? . . his . . Romney Leigh's.
Which tossed a sudden horror like a sponge
Into all eyes,–while himself stood white upon
The topmost altar-stair, and tried to speak,
And failed, and lifted higher above his head
A letter, . . as a man who drowns and gasps.
'My brothers, bear with me! I am very weak.
I meant but only good. Perhaps I meant
Too proudly,–and God snatched the circumstance
And changed it therefore. There's no marriage–none
She leaves me,–she departs,–she disappears,–
I lose her. Yet I never forced her 'ay'
To have her 'no' so cast into my teeth
In manner of an accusation, thus.
My friends, you are all dismissed. Go, eat and drink
According to the programme,–and farewell!'
He ended. There was silence in the church;
We heard a baby sucking in its sleep
At the farthest end of the aisle. Then spoke a man,
'Now, look to it, coves, that all the beef and drink
Be not filched from us like the other fun;
For beer's spilt easier than a woman is!
This gentry is not honest with the poor;
They bring us up, to trick us.'–'Go it, Jim,'
A woman screamed back,–'I'm a tender soul;
I never banged a child at two years old
And drew blood from him, but I sobbed for it
Next moment,–and I've had a plague of seven.
I'm tender; I've no stomach even for beef.
Until I know about the girl that's lost,
That's killed, mayhap. I did misdoubt, at first,
The fine lord meant no good by her, or us.
He, maybe, got the upper hand of her
By holding up a wedding-ring, and then . .
A choking finger on her throat, last night,
And just a clever tale to keep us still,
As she is, poor lost innocent. 'Disappear!'
Who ever disappears except a ghost?
And who believes a story of a ghost?
I ask you,–would a girl go off, instead
Of staying to be married? a fine tale!
A wicked man, I say, a wicked man!
For my part I would rather starve on gin
Than make my dinner on his beef and beer.'–
At which a cry rose up–'We'll have our rights.
We'll have the girl, the girl! Your ladies there
Are married safely and smoothly every day,
And she shall not drop through into a trap
Because she's poor and of the people: shame!
We'll have no tricks played off by gentlefolks;
We'll see her righted.
Through the rage and roar
I heard the broken words which Romney flung
Among the turbulent masses, from the ground
He held still, with his masterful pale face–
As huntsmen throw the ration to the pack,
Who, falling on it headlong, dog on dog
In heaps of fury, rend it, swallow it up
With yelling hound jaws,–his indignant words,
His piteous words, his most pathetic words,
Whereof I caught the meaning here and there
By his gesture . . torn in morsels, yelled across,
And so devoured. From end to end, the church
Rocked round us like the sea in storm, and then
Broke up like the earth in earthquake. Men cried out
'Police!'–and women stood and shrieked for God,
Or dropt and swooned; or, like a herd of deer,
(For whom the black woods suddenly grow alive,
Unleashing their wild shadows down the wind
To hunt the creatures into corners, back
And forward) madly fled, or blindly fell,
Trod screeching underneath the feet of those
Who fled and screeched.
The last sight left to me
Was Romney's terrible calm face above
The tumult!–the last sound was 'Pull him down!
Strike–Kill him!' Stretching my unreasoning arms,
As men in dreams, who vainly interpose
'Twixt gods and their undoing, with a cry
I struggled to precipitate myself
Head-foremost to the rescue of my soul
In that white face, . . till some one caught me back,
And so the world went out,–I felt no more.
What followed, was told after by Lord Howe,
Who bore me senseless from the strangling crowd
In church and street, and then returned alone
To see the tumult quelled. The men of law
Had fallen as thunder on a roaring fire,
And made all silent,–while the people's smoke
Passed eddying slowly from the emptied aisles.
Here's Marian's letter, which a ragged child
Brought running, just as Romney at the porch
Looked out expectant of the bride. He sent
The letter to me by his friend Lord Howe
Some two hours after, folded in a sheet
On which his well-known hand had left a word.
Here's Marian's letter.
'Noble friend, dear saint
Be patient with me. Never think me vile,
Who might to-morrow morning be your wife
But that I loved you more than such a name.
Farewell, my Romney. Let me write it once,–
Tis so pretty a coupled word,
I have no heart to pluck it with a blot.
We say 'My God' sometimes, upon our knees,
Who is not therefore vexed: so bear with it . .
And me. I know I'm foolish, weak, and vain;
Yet most of all I'm angry with myself
For losing your last footstep on the stair,
The last time of your coming,–yesterday!
The very first time I lost step of yours,
(Its sweetness comes the next to what you speak)
But yesterday sobs took me by the throat,
And cut me off from music.
You'll set me down as wrong in many things.
You've praised me, sir, for truth,–and now you'll learn
I had not courage to be rightly true.
I once began to tell you how she came,
The woman . . and you stared upon the floor
In one of your fixed thoughts . . which put me out
For that day. After, some one spoke of me,
So wisely, and of you, so tenderly,
Persuading me to silence for your sake . . .
Well, well! it seems this moment I was wrong
In keeping back from telling you the truth:
There might be truth betwixt us two, at least,
If nothing else. And yet 'twas dangerous.
Suppose a real angel came from heaven
To live with men and women! he'd go mad,
If no considerate hand should tie a blind
Across his piercing eyes. 'Tis thus with you:
You see us too much in your heavenly light;
I always thought so, angel,–and indeed
There's danger that you beat yourself to death
Against the edges of this alien world,
In some divine and fluttering pity.
It would be dreadful for a friend of yours,
To see all England thrust you out of doors
And mock you from the windows. You might say,
Or think (that's worse), 'There's some one in the house
I miss and love still.' Dreadful!
I pray you mark, was Lady Waldemar.
She came to see me nine times, rather ten–
So beautiful, she hurts me like the day
Let suddenly on sick eyes.
'Most kind of all,
Your cousin!–ah, most like you! Ere you came
She kissed me mouth to mouth: I felt her soul
Dip through her serious lips in holy fire.
God help me, but it made me arrogant;
I almost told her that you would not lose
By taking me to wife: though, ever since,
I've pondered much a certain thing she asked . .
'He love's you, Marian?' . . in a sort of mild
Derisive sadness . . as a mother asks
Her babe, 'You'll touch that star, you think?'
I know I never touched it.
'This is worst:
Babes grow, and lose the hope of things above;
A silver threepence sets them leaping high–
But no more stars! mark that.
'I've writ all night,
And told you nothing. God, if I could die,
And let this letter break off innocent
Just here! But no–for your sake . .
'Here's the last:
I never could be happy as your wife,
I never could be harmless as your friend,
I never will look more into your face,
Till God says, 'Look!' I charge you, seek me not,
Nor vex yourself with lamentable thoughts
That peradventure I have come to grief;
Be sure I'm well, I'm merry, I'm at ease,
But such a long way, long way, long way off,
I think you'll find me sooner in my grave;
And that's my choice, observe. For what remains,
An over-generous friend will care for me,
And keep me happy . . happier . .
'There's a blot!
This ink runs thick . . we light girls lightly weep . .
And keep me happier . . was the thing to say, . .
Than as your wife I could be!–O, my star,
My saint, my soul! for surely you're my soul,
Through whom God touched me! I am not so lost
I cannot thank you for the good you did,
The tears you stopped, which fell down bitterly,
Like these–the times you made me weep for joy
At hoping I should learn to write your notes
And save the tiring of your eyes, at night;
And most for that sweet thrice you kissed my lips
And said 'Dear Marian.'
Twould be hard to read,
This letter, for a reader half as learn'd,
But you'll be sure to master it, in spite
Of ups and downs. My hand shakes, I am blind,
I'm poor at writing, at the best,–and yet
I tried to make my g s the way you showed.
Farewell–Christ love you.–Say 'Poor Marian' now.'
Poor Marian!–wanton Marian!–was it so,
Or so? For days, her touching, foolish lines
We mused on with conjectural fantasy,
As if some riddle of a summer-cloud
On which some one tries unlike similitudes
Of now a spotted Hydra-skin cast off,
And now a screen of carven ivory
That shuts the heaven's conventual secrets up
From mortals over-bold. We sought the sense:
She loved him so perhaps, (such words mean love,)
That, worked on by some shrewd perfidious tongue,
(And then I thought of Lady Waldemar)
She left him, not to hurt him; or perhaps
She loved one in her class,–or did not love,
But mused upon her wild bad tramping life,
Until the free blood fluttered at her heart,
And black bread eaten by the road-side hedge
Seemed sweeter than being put to Romney's school
Of philanthropical self-sacrifice,
Irrevocably.–Girls are girls, beside,
Thought I, and like a wedding by one rule.
You seldom catch these birds, except with chaff:
They feel it almost an immoral thing
To go out and be married in broad day,
Unless some winning special flattery should
Excuse them to themselves for't, . . 'No one parts
Her hair with such a silver line as you,
One moonbeam from the forehead to the crown!'
Or else . . 'You bite your lip in such a way,
It spoils me for the smiling of the rest'–
And so on. Then a worthless gaud or two,
To keep for love,–a ribbon for the neck,
Or some glass pin,–they have their weight with girls.
And Romney sought her many days and weeks:
He sifted all the refuse of the town,
Explored the trains, enquired among the ships,
And felt the country through from end to end;
No Marian!–Though I hinted what I knew,–
A friend of his had reasons of her own
For throwing back the match–he would not hear:
The lady had been ailing ever since,
The shock had harmed her. Something in his tone
Repressed me; something in me shamed my doubt
To a sigh, repressed too. He went on to say
That, putting questions where his Marian lodged,
He found she had received for visitors,
Besides himself and Lady Waldemar
And, that once, me–a dubious woman dressed
Beyond us both. The rings upon her hands
Had dazed the children when she threw them pence.
'She wore her bonnet as the queen might hers,
To show the crown,' they said,–'a scarlet crown
Of roses that had never been in bud.'
When Romney told me that,–for now and then
He came to tell me how the search advanced,
His voice dropped: I bent forward for the rest:
The woman had been with her, it appeared,
At first from week to week, then day by day,
And last, 'twas sure . .
I looked upon the ground
To escape the anguish of his eyes, and asked
As low as when you speak to mourners new
Of those they cannot bear yet to call dead,
If Marian had as much as named to him
A certain Rose, an early friend of hers,
A ruined creature.'
He strode from side to side about the room,
Most like some prisoned lion sprung awake,
Who has felt the desert sting him through his dreams.
'What was I to her, that she should tell me aught?
A friend! Was I a friend? I see all clear.
Such devils would pull angels out of heaven,
Provided they could reach them; 'tis their pride;
And that's the odds 'twixt soul and body-plague!
The veriest slave who drops in Cairo's street,
Cries, 'Stand off from me,' to the passengers;
While these blotched souls are eager to infect,
And blow their bad breath in a sister's face
As if they got some ease by it.'
I broke through.
'Some natures catch no plagues. I've read of babes
Found whole and sleeping by the spotted breast
Of one a full day dead. I hold it true,
As I'm a woman and know womanhood,
That Marian Erle, however lured from place,
Deceived in way, keeps pure in aim and heart,
As snow that's drifted from the garden-bank
To the open road.'
'Twas hard to hear him laugh.
'The figure's happy. Well–a dozen carts
And trampers will secure you presently
A fine white snow-drift. Leave it there, your snow!
'Twill pass for soot ere sunset. Pure in aim?
She's pure in aim, I grant you,–like myself,
Who thought to take the world upon my back
To carry it over a chasm of social ill,
And end by letting slip through impotence
A single soul, a child's weight in a soul,
Straight down the pit of hell! yes, I and she
Have reason to be proud of our pure aims.'
Then softly, as the last repenting drops
Of a thunder shower, he added, 'The poor child;
Poor Marian! 'twas a luckless day for her,
When first she chanced on my philanthropy.'
He drew a chair beside me, and sate down;
And I, instinctively, as women use
Before a sweet friend's grief,–when, in his ear,
They hum the tune of comfort, though themselves
Most ignorant of the special words of such,
And quiet so and fortify his brain
And give it time and strength for feeling out
To reach the availing sense beyond that sound,–
Went murmuring to him, what, if written here,
Would seem not much, yet fetched him better help
Than, peradventure, if it had been more.
I've known the pregnant thinkers of this time
And stood by breathless, hanging on their lips,
When some chromatic sequence of fine thought
In learned modulation phrased itself
To an unconjectured harmony of truth.
And yet I've been more moved, more raised, I say,
By a simple word . . a broken easy thing,
A three-years infant might say after you,–
A look, a sigh, a touch upon the palm,
Which meant less than 'I love you' . . than by all
The full-voiced rhetoric of those master-mouths.
'Ah, dear Aurora,' he began at last,
His pale lips fumbling for a sort of smile,
'Your printer's devils have not spoilt your heart:
That's well. And who knows but, long years ago,
When you and I talked, you were somewhat right
In being so peevish with me? You, at least,
Have ruined no one through your dreams! Instead,
You've helped the facile youth to live youth's day
With innocent distraction, still perhaps
Suggestive of things better than your rhymes.
The little shepherd-maiden, eight years old,
I've seen upon the mountains of Vaucluse,
Asleep i' the sun her head upon her knees,
The flocks all scattered,–is more laudable
Than any sheep-dog trained imperfectly,
Who bites the kids through too much zeal.'
As if I had slept, then?'
He was touched at once
By something in my face. Indeed 'twas sure
That he and I,–despite a year or two
Of younger life on my side, and on his,
The heaping of the years' work on the days,–
The three-hour speeches from the member's seat,
The hot committees, in and out the House,
The pamphlets, 'Arguments,' 'Collective Views,'
Tossed out as straw before sick houses, just
To show one's sick and so be trod to dirt,
And no more use,–through this world's underground
The burrowing, groping effort, whence the arm
And heart came bleeding,–sure, that he and I
Were, after all, unequally fatigued!
That he, in his developed manhood, stood
A little sunburnt by the glare of life;
While I . . it seemed no sun had shone on me,
So many seasons I had forgot my Springs;
My cheeks had pined and perished from their orbs.
And all the youth blood in them had grown white
As dew on autumn cyclamens: alone
My eyes and forehead answered for my face.
He said . . 'Aurora, you are changed–are ill!'
'Not so, my cousin,–only not asleep!'
I answered, smiling gently. 'Let it be.
You scarcely found the poet of Vaucluse
As drowsy as the shepherds. What is art,
But life upon the larger scale, the higher,
When, graduating up in a spiral line
Of still expanding and ascending gyres,
It pushes toward the intense significance
Of all things, hungry for the Infinite?
Art's life,–and where we live, we suffer and toil.'
He seemed to sift me with his painful eyes.
'Alas! You take it gravely; you refuse
Your dreamland, right of common, and green rest.
You break the mythic turf where danced the nymphs,
With crooked ploughs of actual life,–let in
The axes to the legendary woods,
To pay the head-tax. You are fallen indeed
On evil days, you poets, if yourselves
Can praise that art of yours no otherwise;
And, if you cannot, . .better take a trade
And be of use! 'twere cheaper for your youth.'
'Of use!' I softly echoed, 'there's the point
We sweep about for ever in an argument;
Like swallows, which the exasperate, dying year
Sets spinning in black circles, round and round,
Preparing for far flights o'er unknown seas.
And we . . where tend we?'
'Where?' he said, and sighed.
'The whole creation, from the hour we are born,
Perplexes us with questions. Not a stone
But cries behind us, every weary step,
'Where, where?' I leave stones to reply to stones.
Enough for me and for my fleshly heart
To harken the invocations of my kind,
When men catch hold upon my shuddering nerves
And shriek, 'What help? what hope? what bread i' the house,
'What fire i' the frost?' There must be some response,
Though mine fail utterly. This social Sphinx,
Who sits between the sepulchres and stews,
Makes mock and mow against the crystal heavens,
And bullies God,–exacts a word at least
From each man standing on the side of God,
However paying a sphinx-price for it.
We pay it also if we hold our peace,
In pangs and pity. Let me speak and die.
Alas! you'll say, I speak and kill, instead.'
I pressed in there; 'The best men, doing their best,
Know peradventure least of what they do:
Men usefullest i' the world, are simply used;
The nail that holds the wood, must pierce it first,
And He alone who wields the hammer, sees
The work advanced by the earliest blow. Take heart.'
'Ah, if I could have taken yours!' he said,
'But that's past now.' Then rising . . 'I will take
At least your kindness and encouragement.
I thank you. Dear, be happy. Sing your songs,
If that's your way! but sometimes slumber too,
Nor tire too much with following, out of breath,
The rhymes upon your mountains of Delight.
Reflect, if Art be, in truth, the higher life,
You need the lower life to stand upon,
In order to reach up into that higher:
And none can stand a-tiptoe in the place
He cannot stand in with two stable feet.
Remember then!–for art's sake, hold your life.'
We parted so. I held him in respect.
I comprehended what he was in heart
And sacrificial greatness. Ay, but he
Supposed me a thing too small to deign to know;
He blew me, plainly, from the crucible,
As some intruding, interrupting fly
Not worth the pains of his analysis
Absorbed on nobler subjects. Hurt a fly!
He would not for the world: he's pitiful
To flies even. 'Sing,' says he, 'and teaze me still,
If that's your way, poor insect.' That's your way!
A final house stands at this hamlet's site (In diesem Dorfe steht das letzte Haus)
A final house stands at this hamlet's site,
as lonesome as the final house on earth.
The road, unhindered by the hamlet's girth
keeps walking slowly out into the night.
The hamlet is but a transition side
of two expanses, anxious, terrified;
its walk along the houses mere relay.
And those that leave the hamlet wander wide
and many die perhaps along the way.
A Bottle Of Wine Is What You Demanded
Never depend on me always because,
Democracy had run over me! !
And it is now pulling me against the walls of wars,
Because the youth are now out on the streets.
Death is what i now see on the streets,
But a bottle of wine is what you asked from me;
And the nation is now in chaos because of this democracy.
The rhythm is in motion and,
The people are now chanting the war songs;
But a bottle of wine is what you demanded from me,
And like the blessed memories gone by.
pleasure is melting like chocolate
my blue ribbon gumption is gone
all my gravy must have soaked into something
and the world...
the filthy steps, the cold concrete
the phony earth below my feet
the ancient odor of the streets
yes the world it is a sponge
and when the crisis passes
when the coast is clear
I'll be buffed down to a liquid
and the world it is a sponge
throughout this entire ugly outing
I've been mumbling the convex of what I should be shouting
but I'll soon be silent you'll soon hear nothing
'cause the world it is a sponge
Charms of Precedence - A Tale
'Sir, will you please to walk before?'-
'No, pray, Sir-you are next the door.'-
'Upon mine honour, I'll not stir.'-
'Sir, I'm at home; consider, Sir'-
'Excuse me, Sir; I'll not go first.'-
'Well, if I must be rude, I must-
But yet I wish I could evade it-
'Tis strangely clownish, be persuaded.'
Go forward, Cits! go forward, Squires!
Nor scruple each, what each admires.
Life squares not, Friends! with your proceeding,
It flies while you display your breeding;
Such breeding as one's grannum preaches,
Or some old dancing-master teaches.
Oh! for some rude tumultuous fellow,
Half crazy, or, at least, half mellow,
To come behind you unawares,
And fairly push you both down stairs!
But Death's at hand-let me advise ye
Go forward, Friends! or he'll surprise ye.
Besides, how insincere you are!
Do ye not flatter, lie, forswear,
And daily cheat, and weekly pray,
And all for this-to lead the way?
Such is my theme, which means to prove,
That though we drink, or game, or love,
As that, or this, is most in fashion,
Precedence is our ruling passion.
When college-students take degrees,
And pay the beadle's endless fees,
What moves that scientific body,
But the first cutting at a gaudy?
And whence such shoals, in bare conditions,
That starve and languish as physicians,
Content to trudge the streets, and stare at
The fat apothecary's chariot?
But that in Charlotte's chamber (see
Molière's Médecin malgré lui),
The leech, howe'er his fortunes vary,
Still walks before the apothecary.
Flavia in vain has wit and charms,
And all that shines, and all that warms;
In vain all human race adore her,
For-Lady Mary ranks before her.
O Celia! gentle Celia! tell us,
You, who are neither vain nor jealous!
The softest breast, the mildest mien!
Would you not feel some little spleen,
Nor bite your lip, nor furl your brow,
If Florimel, your equal now,
Should, one day, gain precedence of ye?
First served-though in a dish of coffee?
Placed first, although where you are found
You gain the eyes of all around?
Named first, though not with half the fame
That waits my charming Celia's name?
Hard fortune! barely to inspire
Our fix'd esteem, and fond desire!
Barely, where'er you go, to prove
The source of universal love!
Yet be content, observing this,
Honour's the offspring of caprice;
And worth, howe'er you have pursued it,
Has now no power-but to exclude it:
You'll find your general reputation
A kind of supplemental station.
Poor Swift, with all his worth, could ne'er,
He tells us, hope to rise a peer;
So, to supply it, wrote for fame,
And well the wit secured his aim.
A common patriot has a drift
Not quite so innocent as Swift:
In Britain's cause he rants, he labours;
'He's honest, faith,'-have patience, Neighbours,
For patriots may sometimes deceive,
May beg their friends' reluctant leave,
To serve them in a higher sphere,
And drop their virtue to get there.-
As Lucian tells us, in his fashion,
How souls put off each earthly passion,
Ere on Elysium's flowery strand
Old Charon suffer'd them to land;
So, ere we meet a court's caresses,
No doubt our souls must change their dresses;
And souls there be, who, bound that way,
Attire themselves ten times a-day.
If then 'tis rank which all men covet,
And saints alike and sinners love it;
If place, for which our courtiers throng
So thick, that few can get along,
For which such servile toils are seen,
Who's happier than a king?-a queen!
Howe'er men aim at elevation,
'Tis properly a female passion:
Women and beaus, beyond all measure,
Are charm'd with rank's ecstatic pleasure.
Sir, if your drift I rightly scan,
You'd hint a beau was not a man:
Say, women then are fond of places;
I waive all disputable cases.
A man, perhaps, would something linger,
Were his loved rank to cost-a finger;
Or were an ear, or toe, the price on 't,
He might deliberate once or twice on 't;
Perhaps ask Gataker's advice on 't;
And many, as their frames grow old,
Would hardly purchase it with gold.
But women wish precedence ever;
'Tis their whole life's supreme endeavour;
It fires their youth with jealous rage,
And strongly animates their age:
Perhaps they would not sell outright,
Or maim a limb-that was in sight;
Yet on worse terms they sometimes choose it,
Nor even in punishment refuse it,
Pre-eminence in pain! you cry,
All fierce and pregnant with reply:
But lend your patience and your ear,
An argument shall make it clear.
But hold, an argument may fail,
Beside, my title says, A Tale.
Where Avon rolls her winding stream,
Avon! the Muses' favourite theme;
Avon! that fills the farmers' purses,
And decks with flowers both farms and verses,
She visits many a fertile vale-
Such was the scene of this my Tale;
For 'tis in Evesham's Yale, or near it,
That folks with laughter tell and hear it.
The soil with annual plenty bless'd
Was by young Corydon possess'd.
His youth alone I lay before ye,
As most material to my story:
For strength and vigour too, he had them,
And 'twere not much amiss to add them.
Thrice happy lout! whose wide domain,
Now green with grass, now gilt with grain,
In russet robes of clover deep,
Or thinly veil'd, and white with sheep;
Now fragrant with the bean's perfume,
Now purpled with the pulse's bloom,
Might well with bright allusion store me,-
But happier bards have been before me!
Amongst the various year's increase
The stripling own'd a field of pease,
Which, when at night he ceased his labours,
Were haunted by some female neighbours.
Each morn discover'd to his sight
The shameful havoc of the night:
Traces of this they left behind them,
But no instructions where to find them.
The devil's works are plain and evil,
But few or none have seen the devil.
Old Noll, indeed, if we may credit
The words of Echard, who has said it,
Contrived with Satan how to fool us,
And bargain'd face to face to rule us;
But then Old Noll was one in ten,
And sought him more than other men.
Our shepherd, too, with like attention,
May meet the female fiends we mention.
He rose one morn at break of day,
And near the field in ambush lay;
When, lo! a brace of girls appears,
The third, a matron much in years.
Smiling, amidst the pease, the sinners
Sat down to cull their future dinners
And caring little who might own them,
Made free as though themselves had sown them.
'Tis worth a sage's observation,
How love can make a jest of passion
Anger had forced the swain from bed,
His early dues to love unpaid!
And Love a god that keeps a pother,
And will be paid one time or other,
Now banish'd Anger out of door,
And claim'd the debt withheld before.
If Anger bid our youth revile,
Love form'd his features to a smile
And knowing well 'twas all grimace
To threaten with a smiling face,
He in few words express'd his mind-
And none would deem them much unkind.
The amorous youth, for their offence,
Demanded instant recompence;
That recompence from each, which shame
Forbids a bashful Muse to name:
Yet, more this sentence to discover,
'Tis what Bet -- grants her lover,
When he, to make the strumpet willing,
Has spent his fortune-to a shilling.
Each stood awhile, as 'twere, suspended,
And loth to do, what-each intended.
At length, with soft pathetic sighs,
The matron, bent with age, replies:
''Tis vain to strive-justice, I know,
And our ill stars, will have it so-
But let my tears your wrath assuage,
And show some deference for age:
I from a distant village came,
Am old, God knows, and something lame;
And if we yield, as yield we must,
Despatch my crazy body first.'
Our shepherd, like the Phrygian swain,
When circled round on Ida's plain
With goddesses, he stood suspended,
And Pallas's grave speech was ended,
Own'd what she ask'd might be his duty,
But paid the compliment to beauty.
Saint Maura: A.D. 304
Thank God! Those gazers' eyes are gone at last!
The guards are crouching underneath the rock;
The lights are fading in the town below,
Around the cottage which this morn was ours.
Kind sun, to set, and leave us here alone;
Alone upon our crosses with our God;
While all the angels watch us from the stars.
Kind moon, to shine so clear and full on him,
And bathe his limbs in glory, for a sign
Of what awaits him! Oh look on him, Lord!
Look, and remember how he saved thy lamb!
Oh listen to me, teacher, husband, love,
Never till now loved utterly! Oh say,
Say you forgive me! No-you must not speak:
You said it to me hours ago-long hours!
Now you must rest, and when to-morrow comes
Speak to the people, call them home to God,
A deacon on the Cross, as in the Church;
And plead from off the tree with outspread arms,
To show them that the Son of God endured
For them-and me. Hush! I alone will speak,
And while away the hours till dawn for you.
I know you have forgiven me; as I lay
Beneath your feet, while they were binding me,
I knew I was forgiven then! When I cried
'Here am I, husband! The lost lamb returned,
All re-baptized in blood!' and you said, 'Come!
Come to thy bride-bed, martyr, wife once more!'
From that same moment all my pain was gone;
And ever since those sightless eyes have smiled
Love-love! Alas, those eyes! They made me fall.
I could not bear to see them, bleeding, dark,
Never, no never to look into mine;
Never to watch me round the little room
Singing about my work, or flash on me
Looks bright with counsel.-Then they drove me mad
With talk of nameless tortures waiting you-
And I could save you! You would hear your love-
They knew you loved me, cruel men! And then-
Then came a dream; to say one little word,
One easy wicked word, we both might say,
And no one hear us, but the lictors round;
One tiny sprinkle of the incense grains,
And both, both free! And life had just begun-
Only three months-short months-your wedded wife
Only three months within the cottage there-
Hoping I bore your child. . . .
Ah! husband! Saviour! God! think gently of me!
I am forgiven! . . .
And then another dream;
A flash-so quick, I could not bear the blaze;
I could not see the smoke among the light-
To wander out through unknown lands, and lead
You by the hand through hamlet, port, and town,
On, on, until we died; and stand each day
To glory in you, as you preached and prayed
From rock and bourne-stone, with that voice, those words,
Mingled with fire and honey-you would wake,
Bend, save whole nations! would not that atone
For one short word?-ay, make it right, to save
You, you, to fight the battles of the Lord?
And so-and so-alas! you knew the rest!
You answered me. . . .
Ah cruel words! No! Blessed, godlike words.
You had done nobly had you struck me dead,
Instead of striking me to life!-the temptress! . . .
'Traitress! apostate! dead to God and me!'-
'The smell of death upon me?'-so it was!
True! true! well spoken, hero! Oh they snapped,
Those words, my madness, like the angel's voice
Thrilling the graves to birth-pangs. All was clear.
There was but one right thing in the world to do;
And I must do it. . . . Lord, have mercy! Christ!
Help through my womanhood: or I shall fail
Yet, as I failed before! . . . I could not speak-
I could not speak for shame and misery,
And terror of my sin, and of the things
I knew were coming: but in heaven, in heaven!
There we should meet, perhaps-and by that time
I might be worthy of you once again-
Of you, and of my God. . . . So I went out.
. . . . . .
Will you hear more, and so forget the pain?
And yet I dread to tell you what comes next;
Your love will feel it all again for me.
No! it is over; and the woe that's dead
Rises next hour a glorious angel. Love!
Say, shall I tell you? Ah! your lips are dry!
To-morrow, when they come, we must entreat,
And they will give you water. One to-day,
A soldier, gave me water in a sponge
Upon a reed, and said, 'Too fair! too young!
She might have been a gallant soldier's wife!'
And then I cried, 'I am a soldier's wife!
A hero's!' And he smiled, but let me drink.
God bless him for it!
So they led me back:
And as I went, a voice was in my ears
Which rang through all the sunlight, and the breath
And blaze of all the garden slopes below,
And through the harvest-voices, and the moan
Of cedar-forests on the cliffs above,
And round the shining rivers, and the peaks
Which hung beyond the cloud-bed of the west,
And round the ancient stones about my feet.
Out of all heaven and earth it rang, and cried,
'My hand hath made all these. Am I too weak
To give thee strength to say so?' Then my soul
Spread like a clear blue sky within my breast,
While all the people made a ring around,
And in the midst the judge spoke smilingly-
'Well! hast thou brought him to a better mind?'
'No! He has brought me to a better mind!'-
I cried, and said beside-I know not what-
Words which I learnt from thee-I trust in God
Nought fierce or rude-for was I not a girl
Three months ago beneath my mother's roof?
I thought of that. She might be there! I looked-
She was not there! I hid my face and wept.
And when I looked again, the judge's eye
Was on me, cold and steady, deep in thought-
'She knows what shame is still; so strip her.' 'Ah!'
I shrieked, 'Not that, Sir! Any pain! So young
I am-a wife too-I am not my own,
But his-my husband's!' But they took my shawl,
And tore my tunic off, and there I stood
Before them all. . . . Husband! you love me still?
Indeed I pleaded! Oh, shine out, kind moon,
And let me see him smile! Oh! how I prayed,
While some cried 'Shame!' and some, 'She is too young!'
And some mocked-ugly words: God shut my ears.
And yet no earthquake came to swallow me.
While all the court around, and walls, and roofs,
And all the earth and air were full of eyes,
Eyes, eyes, which scorched my limbs like burning flame,
Until my brain seemed bursting from my brow:
And yet no earthquake came! And then I knew
This body was not yours alone, but God's-
His loan-He needed it: and after that
The worst was come, and any torture more
A change-a lightening; and I did not shriek-
Once only-once, when first I felt the whip-
It coiled so keen around my side, and sent
A fire-flash through my heart which choked me-then
I shrieked-that once. The foolish echo rang
So far and long-I prayed you might not hear.
And then a mist, which hid the ring of eyes,
Swam by me, and a murmur in my ears
Of humming bees around the limes at home;
And I was all alone with you and God.
And what they did to me I hardly know;
I felt, and did not feel. Now I look back,
It was not after all so very sharp:
So do not pity me. It made me pray;
Forget my shame in pain, and pain in you,
And you in God: and once, when I looked down,
And saw an ugly sight-so many wounds!
'What matter?' thought I. 'His dear eyes are dark;
For them alone I kept these limbs so white-
A foolish pride! As God wills now. 'Tis just.'
But then the judge spoke out in haste: 'She is mad,
Or fenced by magic arts! She feels no pain!'
He did not know I was on fire within:
Better he should not; so his sin was less.
Then he cried fiercely, 'Take the slave away,
And crucify her by her husband's side!'
And at those words a film came on my face-
A sickening rush of joy-was that the end?
That my reward? I rose, and tried to go-
But all the eyes had vanished, and the judge;
And all the buildings melted into mist:
So how they brought me here I cannot tell-
Here, here, by you, until the judgment-day,
And after that for ever and for ever!
Ah! If I could but reach that hand! One touch!
One finger tip, to send the thrill through me
I felt but yesterday!-No! I can wait:-
Another body!-Oh, new limbs are ready,
Free, pure, instinct with soul through every nerve,
Kept for us in the treasuries of God.
They will not mar the love they try to speak,
They will not fail my soul, as these have done!
. . . . .
Will you hear more? Nay-you know all the rest:
Yet those poor eyes-alas! they could not see
My waking, when you hung above me there
With hands outstretched to bless the penitent-
Your penitent-even like The Lord Himself-
I gloried in you!-like The Lord Himself!
Sharing His very sufferings, to the crown
Of thorns which they had put on that dear brow
To make you like Him-show you as you were!
I told them so! I bid them look on you,
And see there what was the highest throne on earth-
The throne of suffering, where the Son of God
Endured and triumphed for them. But they laughed;
All but one soldier, gray, with many scars;
And he stood silent. Then I crawled to you,
And kissed your bleeding feet, and called aloud-
You heard me! You know all! I am at peace.
Peace, peace, as still and bright as is the moon
Upon your limbs, came on me at your smile,
And kept me happy, when they dragged me back
From that last kiss, and spread me on the cross,
And bound my wrists and ankles-Do not sigh:
I prayed, and bore it: and since they raised me up
My eyes have never left your face, my own, my own,
Nor will, till death comes! . . .
Do I feel much pain?
Not much. Not maddening. None I cannot bear.
It has become like part of my own life,
Or part of God's life in me-honour-bliss!
I dreaded madness, and instead comes rest;
Rest deep and smiling, like a summer's night.
I should be easy, now, if I could move . . .
I cannot stir. Ah God! these shoots of fire
Through all my limbs! Hush, selfish girl! He hears you!
Who ever found the cross a pleasant bed?
Yes; I can bear it, love. Pain is no evil
Unless it conquers us. These little wrists, now-
You said, one blessed night, they were too slender,
Too soft and slender for a deacon's wife-
Perhaps a martyr's:-You forgot the strength
Which God can give. The cord has cut them through;
And yet my voice has never faltered yet.
Oh! do not groan, or I shall long and pray
That you may die: and you must not die yet.
Not yet-they told us we might live three days . . .
Two days for you to preach! Two days to speak
Words which may wake the dead!
. . . . .
Hush! is he sleeping?
They say that men have slept upon the cross;
So why not he? . . . Thanks, Lord! I hear him breathe:
And he will preach Thy word to-morrow!-save
Souls, crowds, for Thee! And they will know his worth
Years hence-poor things, they know not what they do!-
And crown him martyr; and his name will ring
Through all the shores of earth, and all the stars
Whose eyes are sparkling through their tears to see
His triumph-Preacher! Martyr!-Ah-and me?-
If they must couple my poor name with his,
Let them tell all the truth-say how I loved him,
And tried to damn him by that love! O Lord!
Returning good for evil! and was this
The payment I deserved for such a sin?
To hang here on my cross, and look at him
Until we kneel before Thy throne in heaven!
Some Account of a New Play
'The play's the thing!'-- Hamlet.
Tavistock Hotel, Nov. 1839.
-- In reply to your letter, and Fanny's,
Lord Brougham, it appears, isn't dead,-- though Queen Anne is;
'Twas a 'plot' and a 'farce'-- you hate farces, you say --
Take another 'plot,' then, viz. the plot of a Play.
The Countess of Arundel, high in degree,
As a lady possess'd of an earldom in fee,
Was imprudent enough at fifteen years of age,
A period of life when we're not over sage,
To form a liaison -- in fact, to engage
Her hand to a Hop-o'-my-thumb of a Page.
This put her Papa --
She had no Mamma --
As may well be supposed, in a deuce of a rage.
Mr. Benjamin Franklin was wont to repeat,
In his budget of proverbs, 'Stolen Kisses are sweet;'
But they have their alloy --
Fate assumed, to annoy
Miss Arundel's peace, and embitter her joy,
The equivocal shape of a fine little Boy.
When, through 'the young Stranger,' her secret took wind,
The Old Lord was neither 'to haud nor to bind.'
He bounced up and down,
And so fearful a frown
Contracted his brow, you'd have thought he'd been blind.
The young lady, they say,
Having fainted away,
Was confined to her room for the whole of that day;
While her beau -- no rare thing in the old feudal system --
Disappear'd the next morning, and nobody miss'd him.
The fact is, his Lordship, who hadn't, it seems,
Form'd the slightest idea, not ev'n in his dreams,
That the pair had been wedded according to law,
Conceived that his daughter had made a faux pas;
So he bribed at a high rate
A sort of a Pirate
To knock out the poor dear young Gentleman's brains,
And gave him a handsome douceur for his pains.
The Page thus disposed of, his Lordship now turns
His attention at once to the Lday's concerns;
And, alarm'd for the future,
Looks out for a suitor,
One not fond of raking, nor giv'n to 'the pewter,'
But adapted to act both the husband and tutor --
Finds a highly respectable, middle-aged, widower,
Marries her off, and thanks Heaven that he's rid o' her.
Relieved from his cares,
The old Peer now prepares
To arrange in good earnest his worldly affairs;
Has his will made new by a Special Attorney,
Sickens, takes to his bed, and sets out on his journey.
Which way he travell'd
Has not been unravell'd;
To speculate much on the point were too curious,
If the climate he reach'd were serene or sulphureous.
To be sure in his balance-sheet all must declare
One item -- The Page -- was an awkward affair;
But, per contra, he'd lately endow'd a new Chantry
For Priests, with ten marks and the run of the pantry.
Be that as it may,
It's sufficient to say
That his tomb in the chancel stands there to this day,
Built of Bethersden marble -- a dark bluish grey.
The figure, a fine one of pure alabaster,
A cleanly churchwarden has cover'd with plaster;
While some Vandal or Jew,
With a taste for virtu,
Has knock'd off his toes, to place, I suppose,
In some Pickwick Museum, with part of his nose;
From his belt and his sword
And his misericorde
The enamel's been chipp'd out, and never restored;
His ci-gît in old French is inscribed all around,
And his head's in his helm, and his heel's on his hound,
The palms of his hands, as if going to pray,
Are join'd and upraised o'er his bosom -- But stay!
I forgot that his tomb's not described in the Play!
Lady Arundel, now in her own right a Peeress,
Perplexes her noddle with no such nice queries,
But produces in time, to her husband's great joy,
Another remarkably 'fine little boy.'
As novel connections
Oft change the affections,
And turn all one's love into different directions,
Now to young 'Johnny Newcome' she seems to confine hers,
Neglecting the poor little dear out at dry-nurse;
Nay, far worse than that,
She considers 'the brat'
As a bore -- fears her husband may smell out a rat.
As her legal adviser
She takes an old Miser,
A sort of 'poor cousin.' She might have been wiser;
For this arrant deceiver,
By name Maurice Beevor,
A shocking old scamp, should her own issue fail,
By the law of the land stands the next in entail.
So, as soon as she ask'd him to hit on some plan
To provide for her eldest, away the rogue ran
To that self-same unprincipled sea-faring man;
In his ear whisper'd low ...--'Bully Gaussen' said 'done!--
I Burked the papa, now I'll Bishop the son!'
'Twas agreed; and, with speed
To accomplish the deed,
He adopted a scheme he was sure would succeed.
By long cock-and-bull stories
Of Candish and Noreys,
Of Drake and bold Raleigh, then fresh in his glories,
Acquired 'mongst the Indians and Rapparee Tories,
He so work'd on the lad,
That he left, which was bad,
The only true friend in the world that he had,
Father Onslow, a priest, though to quit him most loth,
Who in childhood had furnish'd his pap and his broth.
At no small risk of scandal, indeed, to his cloth.
The kidnapping crimp
Took the foolish young imp
On board of his cutter so trim and so jimp,
Then, seizing him just as you'd handle a shrimp,
Twirl'd him thrice in the air with a whirligig motion,
And soused him at once neck and heels in the ocean.
This was off Plymouth Sound,
And he must have been drown'd,
For 'twas nonsense to think he could swim to dry ground,
If 'A very great Warman,
Call'd Billy the Norman,'
Had not just at that moment sail'd by, outward bound.
A shark of great size,
With his great glassy eyes,
Sheer'd off as he came, and relinquish'd the prize;
So he pick'd up the lad, swabb'd, and dry-rubb'd, and mopp'd him,
And, having no children, resolved to adopt him.
Full many a year
Did he hand, reef, and steer,
And by no means consider'd himself as small beer,
When old Norman at length died and left him his frigate,
With lots of pistoles in his coffers to rig it.
A sailor ne'er moans;
So, consigning the bones
Of his friend to the locker of one Mr. Jones,
For England he steers.--
On the voyage it appears
That he rescued a maid from the Dey of Algiers;
And at length reached the Sussex coast, where in a bay,
Not a great way from Brighton, most cosey-ly lay
His vessel at anchor, the very same day
That the Poet begins,-- thus commencing his play.
Giles Gaussen accosts old Sir Maurice de Beevor,
And puts the poor Knight in a deuce of a fever,
By saying the boy, whom he took out to please him,
Is come back a Captain on purpose to tease him.--
Sir Maurice, who gladly would see Mr. Gaussen
Breaking stones on the highway, or sweeping a crossing,
Dissembles -- observes, It's of no use to fret,--
And hints he may find some more work for him yet;
Then calls at the castle, and tells Lady A.
That the boy they had ten years ago sent away
Is return'd a grown man, and, to come to the point,
Will put her son Percy's nose clean out of joint;
But adds, that herself she no longer need vex,
If she'll buy him (Sir Maurice) a farm near the Ex.
'Oh! take it,' she cries; 'but secure every document.'--
'A bargain,' says Maurice,--' including the stock you meant?'--
The Captain, meanwhile,
With a lover-like smile,
And a fine cambric handkerchief, wipes off the tears
From Miss Violet's eyelash, and hushes her fears.
(That's the Lady he saved from the Dey of Algiers.)
Now arises a delicate point, and this is it --
The young lady herself is but down on a visit.
She's perplex'd; and, in fact,
Does not know how to act.
It's her very first visit -- and then to begin
By asking a stranger -- a gentleman, in --
One with mustaches too -- and a tuft on his chin --
She 'really don't know --
He had much better go,'
Here the Countess steps in from behind, and says 'No!--
Fair sir, you are welcome. Do, pray, stop and dine --
You will take our pot-luck -- and we've decentish wine.'
He bows,-- looks at Violet,-- and does not decline.
After dinner the Captain recounts, with much glee,
All he's heard, seen and done, since he first went to sea,
All his perils, and scrapes,
And his hair-breadth escapes,
Talks of boa-constrictors, and lions, and apes,
And fierce 'Bengal Tigers,' like that which you know,
If you've ever seen any respectable 'Show,'
'Carried off the unfortunate Mr. Munro.'
Then, diverging a while, he adverts to the mystery
Which hangs, like a cloud, o'er his own private history --
How he ran off to sea -- how they set him afloat,
(Not a word, though, of barrel or bung hole -- See Note)
How he happen'd to meet
With the Algerine fleet,
And forced them by sheer dint of arms to retreat,
Thus saving his Violet -- (One of his feet
Here just touched her toe, and she moved on her seat,)--
How his vessel was batter'd --
In short, he so chatter'd,
Now lively, now serious, so ogled and flatter'd,
That the ladies much marvell'd a person should be able,
To 'make himself,' both said, 'so very agreeable.'
Captain Norman's adventures were scarcely half done,
When Percy Lord Ashdale, her ladyship's son,
In a terrible fume,
Bounces into the room,
And talks to his guest as you'd talk to a groom,
Claps his hand on his rapier, and swears he'll be through him --
The Captain does nothing at all but 'pooh! pooh!' him.--
Unable to smother
His hate of his brother,
He rails at his cousin, and blows up his mother.
'Fie! fie!' says the first.-- Says the latter, 'In sooth,
This is sharper by far than a keen serpent's tooth!'
(A remark, by the way, which King Lear had made years ago,
When he ask'd for his Knights, and his Daughter said 'Here's a go!')--
This made Ashdale ashamed;
But he must not be blamed
Too much for his warmth, for, like many young fellows, he
Was apt to lose temper when tortured by jealousy.
Still speaking quite gruff,
He goes off in a huff;
Lady A., who is now what some call 'up to snuff,'
Straight determines to patch
Up a clandestine match
Between the Sea-Captain she dreads like Old Scratch,
And Miss, whom she does not think any great catch
For Ashdale; besides, he won't kick up such shindies
Were she once fairly married and off to the Indies.
Miss Violet takes from the Countess her tone;
She agrees to meet Norman 'by moonlight alone,'
And slip off to his bark,
'The night being dark,'
Though 'the moon,' the Sea-Captain says, rises in Heaven
'One hour before midnight,'-- i.e. at eleven.
From which speech I infer,
-- Though perhaps I may err --
That, though weatherwise, doubtless, midst surges and surf, he
When 'capering on shore,' was by no means a Murphy.
He starts off, however, at sunset to reach
An old chapel in ruins, that stands on the beach,
Where the Priest is to bring, as he's promised by letter, a
Paper to prove his name, 'birthright,' et cetera.
Being rather too late,
Gaussen, lying in wait,
Has just given Father Onslow a knock on the pate,
But bolts, seeing Norman, before he has wrested
From the hand of the Priest, as Sir Maurice requested,
The marriage certificate duly attested.--
Norman kneels by the clergyman fainting and gory,
And begs he won't die till he's told him his story;
The Father complies,
Re-opens his eyes,
And tells him all how and about it -- and dies!
Norman, now call'd Le Mesnil, instructed of all,
Goes back, though it's getting quite late for a call,
Hangs his hat and his cloak on a peg in the hall,
And tells the proud Countess it's useless to smother
The fact any longer -- he knows she's his mother!
His Pa's wedded Spouse,--
She questions his nous,
And threatens to have him turn'd out of the house.
He still perseveres,
Till, in spite of her fears,
She admits he's the son she had cast off for years,
And he gives her the papers 'all blister'd with tears,'
When Ashdale, who chances his nose in to poke,
Takes his hat and his cloak,
Just as if in a joke,
Determined to put in his wheel a new spoke,
And slips off thus disguised, when he sees by the dial it
's time for the rendezvous fix'd with Miss Violet.
-- Captain Norman, who, after all, feels rather sore
At his mother's reserve, vows to see her no more,
Rings the bell for the servant to open the door,
And leaves his Mamma in a fit on the floor.
Now comes the Catastrophe -- Ashdale, who's wrapt in
The cloak, with the hat and the plume of the Captain,
Leads Violet down through the grounds to the chapel,
Where Gaussen's concealed -- he springs forward to grapple
The man he's erroneously led to suppose
Captain Norman himself, by the cut of his clothes.
In the midst of their strife,
And just as the knife
Of the Pirate is raised to deprive him of life,
The Captain comes forward, drawn there by the squeals
Of the Lady, and, knocking Giles head over heels,
Fractures his 'nob,'
Saves the hangman a job,
And executes justice most strictly, the rather,
'Twas the spot where the rascal had murder'd his father
Then in comes the mother,
Who, finding one brother
Had the instant before saved the life of the other,
Explains the whole case.
Ashdale puts a good face
On the matter; and since he's obliged to give place,
Yields his coronet up with a pretty good grace;
Norman vows he won't have it -- the kinsmen embrace,--
And the Captain, the first in this generous race,
To remove every handle
For gossip and scandal,
Sets the whole of the papers alight with the candle;
An arrangement takes place -- on the very same night, all
Is settled and done, and the points the most vital
Are, N. takes the personals;-- A., in requital,
Keeps the whole real property, Mansion, and Title.--
V. falls to the share of the Captain, and tries a
Sea-voyage as a Bride in the 'Royal Eliza.'--
Both are pleased with the part they acquire as joint heirs,
And old Maurice Beevor is bundled down stairs!
The public, perhaps, with the drama might quarrel
If deprived of all epilogue, prologue, and moral,
This may serve for all three then:--
'Young Ladies of property,
Let Lady A.'s history serve as a stopper t' ye;
Don't wed with low people beneath your degree,
And if you've a baby, don't send it to sea!
'Young Noblemen! shun every thing like a brawl;
And be sure when you dine out, or go to ball,
Don't take the best hat that you find in the hall,
And leave one in its stead that's worth nothing at all!
'Old Knights, don't give bribes!-- above all, never urge a man
To steal people's things, or to stick an old Clergyman!
'And you, ye Sea-Captains! who've nothing to do
But to run round the world, fight, and drink till all's blue,
And tell us tough yarns, and then swear they are true,
Reflect, notwithstanding your sea-faring life,
That you can't get on well long, without you've a wife;
So get one at once, treat her kindly and gently,
Write a Nautical novel,-- and send it to Bentley!
Alma; or, The Progress of the Mind. In Three Cantos. - Canto I.
Matthew met Richard, when or where
From story is not mighty clear:
Of many knotty points they spoke,
And pro and con by turns they took:
Rats half the manuscript have ate;
Dire hunger! which we still regret;
O! may they ne'er again digest
The horrors of so sad a feast;
Yet less our grief, if what remains,
Dear Jacob, by thy care and pains
Shall be to future times convey'd:
It thus begins:
** Here Matthew said,
Alma in verse, in prose, the mind,
By Aristotle's pen defined,
Throughout the body squat or tall,
, all in all;
And yet, slapdash, is all again
In every sinew, nerve, and vein;
Runs here and there, like Hamlet's ghost,
While every where she rules the roast.
This system, Richard, we are told
The men of Oxford firmly hold:
The Cambridge wits, you know, deny
They say (for in good truth they speak
With small respect of that old Greek)
That, putting all his words together,
'Tis three blue beans in one blue bladder.
Alma, they strenuously maintain,
Sits cock-horse on her throne, the brain,
And from that seat of thought dispenses,
Her sovereign pleasure to the senses.
Two optic nerves, they say, she ties,
Like spectacle across the eyes,
By which the spirits bring her word
Whene'er the balls are fix'd or stirr'd;
How quick at Park and play they strike;
The duke they court; the toast they like;
And at St. James's turn their grace
From former friends, now out of place.
Without these aids, to be more serious,
Her power they hold had been precarious;
The eyes might have conspired her ruin,
And she not known what they were doing.
Foolish it had been and unkind
That they should see and she be blind.
Wise Nature, likewise, they suppose,
Has drawn two conduits down our nose:
Could Alma else with judgement tell
When cabbage stinks or roses smell?
Or who would ask for her opinion
Between an oyster and an onion?
For from most bodies, Dick, you know,
Some little bits ask leave to flow,
And as through these canals they roll,
Bring up a sample of the whole;
Like footmen running before coaches,
To tell the inn what lord approaches.
By nerves about our palate placed,
She likewise judges of the taste;
Else (dismal thought!) our warlike men
Might drink thick Port for fine Champaign,
And our ill-judging wives and daughters,
Mistake small-beer for citron-waters.
Hence, too, that she might better hear,
She sets a drum at either ear,
And loud or gentle, harsh or sweet,
Are but the alarums which they beat.
Last, to enjoy her sense of feeling,
(A thing she much delights to deal in)
A thousand little nerves she sends
Quite to our toes and fingers' ends,
And these, in gratitude, again
Return their spirits to the brain,
In which their figure being printed,
(As just before I think I hinted)
Alma inform'd can try the case,
As she had been upon the place.
Thus while the judge gives different journeys
To country counsel and attorneys,
He on the bench in quiet sits,
Deciding as they bring the writs.
The Pope thus prays and sleeps at Rome,
And very seldom stirs from home,
Yet sending forth his holy spies,
And having heard what they advise,
He rules the church's bless'd dominions,
And sets men's faith by his opinions.
The scholars of the Stagyrite,
Who for the old opinion fight,
Would make their modern friends confess
The difference but from more or less:
The Mind, say they, while you sustain
To hold her station in the brain,
You grant, at least, she is extended,
, the whole dispute is ended:
For till to-morrow should you plead,
From form and structure of the head,
The Mind as visibly is seen
Extended through the whole machine.
Why should all honour then be ta'en
From lower parts to load the brain,
When other limbs we plainly see
Each in his way as brisk as he?
For music, grant the head receives it,
It is the artist's hand that gives it:
And though the skull may wear the laurel,
The soldier's arm sustains the quarrel.
Besides, the nostrils, ears, and eyes,
Are not his parts, but his allies:
E'en what you here the tongue proclaim,
What could the head perform alone
If all their friendly aids were gone?
A foolish figure we must make,
Do nothing else but sleep and ake.
Nor matters it that you can show
How to the head the spirits go;
Those spirits started from some goal
Before they through the veins could roll;
Nor we should hold them much to blame
If they went back before they came.
If, therefore, as we must suppose,
They came from fingers and from toes,
Or toes or fingers, in this case,
Of numskull's self should take the place;
Disputing fair you grant this much,
That all sensation is but touch.
Dip but your toes into cold water,
Their correspondent teeth will chatter;
And strike the bottom of your feet,
You set your head into a heat.
The bully beat, and happy lover,
Confess that feeling lies all over.
Not here, Lucretius dares to teach
(As all our youth may learn from Creech)
That eyes were made, but could not view,
Nor bands embrace, not feet pursue,
But heedless Nature did produce
The members first, and then the use:
What each must act was yet unknown,
Till all is moved by Chance alone.
A man first builds a country-seat,
Then finds the walls not good to eat.
Another plants, and wondering, sees
Nor books nor medals on his trees.
Yet poet and philosopher
Was he who durst such whims aver.
Bless'd for his sake be human reason,
That came at all, though late, in season.
But no man sure e'er left his house,
And saddled Ball, with thoughts so wild
To bring a midwife to his spouse
Before he knew she was with child:
And no man ever reapt his corn,
Or from the oven drew his bread,
Ere hinds and bakers yet were born,
That taught them both to sow and knead.
Before they're ask'd can maids refuse?
Can - Pray, says Dick, hold in your Muse,
While you Pindaric truths rehearse,
She hobbles in alternate verse.
Verse! Matt. replied; is that my care?
Go on, quoth Richard, soft and fair.
This looks, friend Dick, as Nature had
But exercised the salesman's trade;
As if she haply had sat down
And cut out clothes for all the Town,
Then sent them out to Monmouth street
To try what persons they would fit;
But every free and licensed tailor
Would in this thesis find a failure.
Should whims like these his head perplex,
How could he work for either sex!
His clothes as atoms might prevail,
Might fit a pismire or a whale.
No, no: he views with studious pleasure
Your shape before he takes your measure
For real Kate he made the bodice,
And not for an ideal goddess.
No error near his shopboard lurk'd;
He knew the folks for whom he work'd:
Still to their size he aim'd his skill,
Else pray thee who would pay his bill?
Next, Dick, if Chance herself should vary,
Observe how matter would miscarry:
Across your eyes, Friend, place your shoes,
Your spectacles upon your toes,
Then you and Memmius shall agree
How nicely men would walk or see.
But wisdom, peevish, and cross-gain'd
Must be opposed to be sustain'd;
And still your knowledge will increase,
As your make other people's less.
In arms and science 'tis the same;
Our rival's hurts create our fame.
At Faubert's, if disputes arise
Among the champions for the prize,
To prove who gave the fairer butt,
John shows the chalk on Robert's coat.
So for the honour of your book,
It tells where other folks mistook,
And as their notions you confound,
Those you invent get farther ground.
The commentators on old Ari-
Stotle ('tis urged) in judgement vary:
They to their own conceits have brought
The image of his general thought,
Just as the melancholic eye
Sees fleets and armies in the sky,
And to the poor apprentice ear
The bells sound Whittington Lord Mayor.
The conjurer thus explains his scheme;
Thus spirits walk and prophets dream;
North Britons thus have second sight,
And Germans free from gunshot fight.
Theodoret and Origen,
And fifty other learned men,
Attest that if their comments find
The traces of their master's mind,
Alma can ne'er decay nor die:
This flatly th' other sect deny,
Simplicius, Theophrast, Durand,
Great names, but hard in verse to stand
They wonder men should have mistook
The tenets of their master's book,
And hold that Alma yields her breath,
O'ercome by age and seized by death.
Now which were wise, and which were fools?
Poor Alma sits between two stools;
The more she reads the more perplex'd,
The comment ruining the text:
Now fears, now hopes her doubtful fate.
But, Richard, let her look to that -
Whilst we our own affairs pursue.
These different systems old or new,
A man with half an eye may see
Were only form'd to disagree.
Now to bring things to fair conclusion,
And save much Christian ink's effusion,
Let me propose a healing scheme,
And sail along the middle stream;
For, Dick, if we could reconcile
Old Aristotle with Gassendus,
How many would admire our toil,
And yet how few would comprehend us?
Here, Richard, let my scheme commence:
Oh! may my words be lost in sense,
While pleased Thalia deigns to write
The slips and bounds of Alma's flight.
My simple system shall suppose
That Alma enters at the toes;
That then she mounts, by just degrees,
Up to the ancles, legs, and knees:
Next as the sap of life does rise,
She lends her vigour to the thighs:
And, all these under regions past,
She nestles somewhere near the waist;
Gives pain or pleasure, grief or laughter,
As we shall show at large hereafter:
Mature, if not improved by time,
Up to the heart she loves to climb:
From thence, compell'd by craft and age,
She makes the head her latest stage.
From the feet upward to the head,
Pithy, and short, says Dick, proceed.
Dick, this is not an idle notion;
Observe the progress of the motion:
First, I demonstratively prove
That feet were only made to move,
And legs desire to come and go,
For they have nothing else to do.
Hence, long before the child can crawl,
He learns to kick, and wince, and sprawl,
To hinder which, your midwife knows
To bind those parts extremely close,
Lest Alma, newly enter'd in,
And stunn'd at her own christ'ning's din,
Fearful of future grief and pain,
Should silently sneak out again.
Full piteous seems young Alma's case,
As in a luckless gamester's place,
She would not play, yet must not pass.
Again, as she grows something stronger,
And master's feet are swath'd no longer,
If in the night too oft he kicks,
Or shows his
These first assaults fat Kate repays him,
When halt-asleep she overlays him.
Now mark, dear Richard, from the age
That children tread this worldly stage,
Broomstaff or poker they bestride,
And round the parlour love to ride,
Till thoughtful father's pious care
Provides his brood, next Smithfield fair,
With supplemental hobby-horses,
And happy be their infant courses!
Hence for some years they ne'er stand still;
Their legs you see direct their will;
From opening morn till setting sun
Around the fields and woods they run,
They frisk, and dance, and leap, and play,
Nor heed what Friend or Snape can say.
To her next stage as Alma flies,
And likes, as I have said, the thighs,
With sympathetic power she warms
Their good allies and friends the arms;
White Betty dances on the green,
And Susan is at stoolball seen:
While John for ninepins does declare,
And Roger loves to pitch the bar,
Both legs and arms spontaneous move,
Which was the thing I meant to prove.
Another motion now she makes:
O need I name the seat she takes?
His thought quite changes the stripling finds;
The sport and race no more he minds;
Neglected Tray and Pointer lie,
And covies unmolested fly:
Sudden the jocund plain he leaves,
And for the nymph in secret grieves:
In dying accents he complains
Of cruel fires and raging pains.
The nymph, too, longs to be alone,
Leaves all the swains and sighs for one:
The nymph is warm'd with young desire,
And feels, and dies to quench his fire.
They meet each evening in the grove;
Their parley but augments their love:
So to the priest their case they tell;
He toes the knot, and all goes well.
But, O my Muse, just distance keep,
Thou art a maid, and must not peep.
In nine months time the bodice loose,
And petticoats too short, disclose
That at this age the active mind
About the waist lies most confined,
And that young life, and quickening sense
Spring from his influence darted thence:
So from the middle of the world
The sun's prolific rays are hurl'd;
'Tis from that seat he darts those beams
Which quicken earth with genial flames.
Dick, who thus long had passive sat,
Here stroked his chin and cock'd his hat,
Then slapp'd his hand upon the board,
And thus the youth put in his word.
Love's advocates, sweet Sir, would find him
A higher place than you assign'd him.
Love's advocates, Dick, who are those? -
The poets, you may well suppose.
I'm sorry, Sir, you have discarded
The men with whom till now you herded.
Prosemen alone, for private ends,
I thought forsook their ancient friends,
In cor stillavit,
If he may be allow'd to teach us.
The selfsame thing soft Ovid says,
(A proper judge in such a case.)
Horace his phrase is
And happy was that curious speaker.
Here Virgil too has placed this passion;
What signifies too long quotation?
In ode and epic plain the case is,
That Love holds one of these two places.
Dick, without passion or reflection,
I'll straight demolish this objection.
First, poets, all the world agrees,
Write half to profit half to please;
Matter and figure they produce,
For garnish this, and that for use;
And, in the structure of their feasts,
They seek to feed and please their guests:
But one may baulk this good intent,
And take things otherwise than meant.
Thus, if you dine with my Lord Mayor,
Roast beef and venison is your fare,
Thence you proceed to swan and bustard,
And persevere in tart and custard:
But tulip-leaves and lemon-peel
Help only to adorn the meal,
And painted flags, superb and neat,
Proclaim you welcome to the treat.
The man of sense his meat devours,
But only smells the peel and flowers;
And he must be an idle dreamer
Who leaves the pie and gnaws the streamer.
That Cupid goes with bow and arrows,
And Venus keeps her coach and sparrows,
Is all but emblem, to acquaint one
The son is sharp, the mother wanton.
Such images have sometimes shown
A mystic sense, but oftener none;
For who conceives what bards devise,
That heaven is placed in Celia's eyes?
Or where's the sense, direct and moral,
That teeth are pearl, or lips are coral?
Your Horace owns he various writ,
As wild or sober maggots bit;
And where too much the poet ranted,
The sage philosopher recanted.
His grave Epistles may disprove
The wanton Odes he made to love.
Lucretius keeps a mighty pother
With Cupid and his fancied mother;
Calls her great Queen of earth and air,
Declares that winds and seas obey her.
And, while her honour he rehearses,
Implores her to inspire his verses.
Yet, free from this poetic madness,
Next page he says, in sober sadness,
That she and all her fellow-gods
Sit idling in their high abodes,
Regardless of this world below,
Our health or hanging, weal or wo,
Nor once disturb their heavenly spirits
With Scapin's cheats, or Caesar's merits.
Nor e'er can Latin poets prove
Where lies the real seat of Love.
they burn, and
As either best supplies their verse;
And if folks ask the reason for't,
Say one was long the other short.
Thus I presume the British Muse
In prose our property is greater,
Why should it then be less in metre?
If Cupid throws a single dart,
We make him wound the lover's heart
But if he takes his bow and quiver,
'Tis sure he must transfix the liver:
For rhyme with reason may dispense,
And sound has right to govern sense.
But let your friends in verse suppose,
What ne'er shall be allow'd in prose,
Anatomists can make it clear
The liver minds his own affair,
Kindly supplies our public uses,
And parts and strains the vital juices,
Still lays some useful bile aside
To tinge the chyle's insipid tide,
Else we should want both gibe and satire,
And all be burst with pure good-nature:
Now gall is bitter with a witness,
And love is all delight and sweetness:
My logic then has lost its aim
If sweet and bitter be the same:
And he methinks is no great scholar
Who can mistake is desire for choler.
The like may of the heart be said;
Courage and terror there are bred.
All those whose hearts are loose and low
Start if they hear but the tattoo;
And mighty physical their fear is,
Their heart, descending to their breeches,
Must give their stomach cruel twitches:
But heroes who o'ercome or die
Have their hearts hung extremely high,
The string of which, in battle's heat,
Against their very corslets beat,
Keep time with their own trumpet's measure,
And yield them most excessive pleasure.
Now, if 'tis chiefly in the heart
That courage does itself exert,
That this is eke the throne of Love.
Would nature make one place the seat
Of fond desire and fell debate?
Must people only take delight in
Those hours when they are tired with fighting?
And has no man but who has kill'd
A father, right to get a child?
These notions, then, I think but idle,
And love shall still possess the middle.
This truth more plainly to discover,
Suppose your hero were a lover;
Though he before had gall and rage,
Which death or conquest must assuage,
He grows dispirited and low,
He hates the fight and shuns the foe.
In scornful sloth Achilles slept,
And for his wench, like Tallboy, wept,
Nor would return to war and slaughter,
Till they brought back the parson's daughter.
Antonius fled from Actium's coast,
Augustus pressing Asia lost.
His sails by Cupid's hand unfurl'd,
To keep the fair he gave the world.
Edward our Fourth, revered and crown'd,
Vigorous in youth, in arms renown'd,
While England's voice and Warwick's care
Design'd him Gallia's beauteous heir,
Changed peace and power for rage and wars,
Only to dry one widow's tears.
France's Fourth Henry we may see
A servant to the fair d'Estree;
When quitting Coutras' prosperous field,
And Fortune taught at length to yield,
He, from his guards and midnight tent,
Disguis'd, o'er hills and valleys went,
To wanton with the sprightly dame,
And in his pleasure lost his fame.
Bold is the critic who dares prove
These heroes were no friends to love;
And bolder he who dares aver
That they were enemies to war;
Yet when their thought should, now or never,
Have raise their heart or fired their liver,
Fond Alma to those parts was gone
Which Love more justly calls his own.
Examples I could cite you more,
But he contented with these four;
For when one's proofs are aptly chosen,
Four are as valid as four dozen.
One came from Greece, and one from Rome
The other two grew nearer home,
For some in ancient books delight,
Others prefer what moderns write;
Now I should be extremely loath
Not to be thought expert in both.
The Odyssey: Book 20
Ulysses slept in the cloister upon an undressed bullock's hide, on
the top of which he threw several skins of the sheep the suitors had
eaten, and Eurynome threw a cloak over him after he had laid himself
down. There, then, Ulysses lay wakefully brooding upon the way in
which he should kill the suitors; and by and by, the women who had
been in the habit of misconducting themselves with them, left the
house giggling and laughing with one another. This made Ulysses very
angry, and he doubted whether to get up and kill every single one of
them then and there, or to let them sleep one more and last time
with the suitors. His heart growled within him, and as a bitch with
puppies growls and shows her teeth when she sees a stranger, so did
his heart growl with anger at the evil deeds that were being done: but
he beat his breast and said, "Heart, be still, you had worse than this
to bear on the day when the terrible Cyclops ate your brave
companions; yet you bore it in silence till your cunning got you
safe out of the cave, though you made sure of being killed."
Thus he chided with his heart, and checked it into endurance, but he
tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in
front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side and then on the other,
that he may get it cooked as soon as possible, even so did he turn
himself about from side to side, thinking all the time how, single
handed as he was, he should contrive to kill so large a body of men as
the wicked suitors. But by and by Minerva came down from heaven in the
likeness of a woman, and hovered over his head saying, "My poor
unhappy man, why do you lie awake in this way? This is your house:
your wife is safe inside it, and so is your son who is just such a
young man as any father may be proud of."
"Goddess," answered Ulysses, "all that you have said is true, but
I am in some doubt as to how I shall be able to kill these wicked
suitors single handed, seeing what a number of them there always
are. And there is this further difficulty, which is still more
considerable. Supposing that with Jove's and your assistance I succeed
in killing them, I must ask you to consider where I am to escape to
from their avengers when it is all over."
"For shame," replied Minerva, "why, any one else would trust a worse
ally than myself, even though that ally were only a mortal and less
wise than I am. Am I not a goddess, and have I not protected you
throughout in all your troubles? I tell you plainly that even though
there were fifty bands of men surrounding us and eager to kill us, you
should take all their sheep and cattle, and drive them away with
you. But go to sleep; it is a very bad thing to lie awake all night,
and you shall be out of your troubles before long."
As she spoke she shed sleep over his eyes, and then went back to
While Ulysses was thus yielding himself to a very deep slumber
that eased the burden of his sorrows, his admirable wife awoke, and
sitting up in her bed began to cry. When she had relieved herself by
weeping she prayed to Diana saying, "Great Goddess Diana, daughter
of Jove, drive an arrow into my heart and slay me; or let some
whirlwind snatch me up and bear me through paths of darkness till it
drop me into the mouths of overflowing Oceanus, as it did the
daughters of Pandareus. The daughters of Pandareus lost their father
and mother, for the gods killed them, so they were left orphans. But
Venus took care of them, and fed them on cheese, honey, and sweet
wine. Juno taught them to excel all women in beauty of form and
understanding; Diana gave them an imposing presence, and Minerva
endowed them with every kind of accomplishment; but one day when Venus
had gone up to Olympus to see Jove about getting them married (for
well does he know both what shall happen and what not happen to
every one) the storm winds came and spirited them away to become
handmaids to the dread Erinyes. Even so I wish that the gods who
live in heaven would hide me from mortal sight, or that fair Diana
might strike me, for I would fain go even beneath the sad earth if I
might do so still looking towards Ulysses only, and without having
to yield myself to a worse man than he was. Besides, no matter how
much people may grieve by day, they can put up with it so long as they
can sleep at night, for when the eyes are closed in slumber people
forget good and ill alike; whereas my misery haunts me even in my
dreams. This very night methought there was one lying by my side who
was like Ulysses as he was when he went away with his host, and I
rejoiced, for I believed that it was no dream, but the very truth
On this the day broke, but Ulysses heard the sound of her weeping,
and it puzzled him, for it seemed as though she already knew him and
was by his side. Then he gathered up the cloak and the fleeces on
which he had lain, and set them on a seat in the cloister, but he took
the bullock's hide out into the open. He lifted up his hands to
heaven, and prayed, saying "Father Jove, since you have seen fit to
bring me over land and sea to my own home after all the afflictions
you have laid upon me, give me a sign out of the mouth of some one
or other of those who are now waking within the house, and let me have
another sign of some kind from outside."
Thus did he pray. Jove heard his prayer and forthwith thundered high
up among the from the splendour of Olympus, and Ulysses was glad
when he heard it. At the same time within the house, a miller-woman
from hard by in the mill room lifted up her voice and gave him another
sign. There were twelve miller-women whose business it was to grind
wheat and barley which are the staff of life. The others had ground
their task and had gone to take their rest, but this one had not yet
finished, for she was not so strong as they were, and when she heard
the thunder she stopped grinding and gave the sign to her master.
"Father Jove," said she, "you who rule over heaven and earth, you have
thundered from a clear sky without so much as a cloud in it, and
this means something for somebody; grant the prayer, then, of me
your poor servant who calls upon you, and let this be the very last
day that the suitors dine in the house of Ulysses. They have worn me
out with the labour of grinding meal for them, and I hope they may
never have another dinner anywhere at all."
Ulysses was glad when he heard the omens conveyed to him by the
woman's speech, and by the thunder, for he knew they meant that he
should avenge himself on the suitors.
Then the other maids in the house rose and lit the fire on the
hearth; Telemachus also rose and put on his clothes. He girded his
sword about his shoulder, bound his sandals on his comely feet, and
took a doughty spear with a point of sharpened bronze; then he went to
the threshold of the cloister and said to Euryclea, "Nurse, did you
make the stranger comfortable both as regards bed and board, or did
you let him shift for himself?- for my mother, good woman though she
is, has a way of paying great attention to second-rate people, and
of neglecting others who are in reality much better men."
"Do not find fault child," said Euryclea, "when there is no one to
find fault with. The stranger sat and drank his wine as long as he
liked: your mother did ask him if he would take any more bread and
he said he would not. When he wanted to go to bed she told the
servants to make one for him, but he said he was re such wretched
outcast that he would not sleep on a bed and under blankets; he
insisted on having an undressed bullock's hide and some sheepskins put
for him in the cloister and I threw a cloak over him myself."
Then Telemachus went out of the court to the place where the
Achaeans were meeting in assembly; he had his spear in his hand, and
he was not alone, for his two dogs went with him. But Euryclea
called the maids and said, "Come, wake up; set about sweeping the
cloisters and sprinkling them with water to lay the dust; put the
covers on the seats; wipe down the tables, some of you, with a wet
sponge; clean out the mixing-jugs and the cups, and for water from the
fountain at once; the suitors will be here directly; they will be here
early, for it is a feast day."
Thus did she speak, and they did even as she had said: twenty of
them went to the fountain for water, and the others set themselves
busily to work about the house. The men who were in attendance on
the suitors also came up and began chopping firewood. By and by the
women returned from the fountain, and the swineherd came after them
with the three best pigs he could pick out. These he let feed about
the premises, and then he said good-humouredly to Ulysses,
"Stranger, are the suitors treating you any better now, or are they as
insolent as ever?"
"May heaven," answered Ulysses, "requite to them the wickedness with
which they deal high-handedly in another man's house without any sense
Thus did they converse; meanwhile Melanthius the goatherd came up,
for he too was bringing in his best goats for the suitors' dinner; and
he had two shepherds with him. They tied the goats up under the
gatehouse, and then Melanthius began gibing at Ulysses. "Are you still
here, stranger," said he, "to pester people by begging about the
house? Why can you not go elsewhere? You and I shall not come to an
understanding before we have given each other a taste of our fists.
You beg without any sense of decency: are there not feasts elsewhere
among the Achaeans, as well as here?"
Ulysses made no answer, but bowed his head and brooded. Then a third
man, Philoetius, joined them, who was bringing in a barren heifer
and some goats. These were brought over by the boatmen who are there
to take people over when any one comes to them. So Philoetius made his
heifer and his goats secure under the gatehouse, and then went up to
the swineherd. "Who, Swineherd," said he, "is this stranger that is
lately come here? Is he one of your men? What is his family? Where
does he come from? Poor fellow, he looks as if he had been some
great man, but the gods give sorrow to whom they will- even to kings
if it so pleases them
As he spoke he went up to Ulysses and saluted him with his right
hand; "Good day to you, father stranger," said he, "you seem to be
very poorly off now, but I hope you will have better times by and
by. Father Jove, of all gods you are the most malicious. We are your
own children, yet you show us no mercy in all our misery and
afflictions. A sweat came over me when I saw this man, and my eyes
filled with tears, for he reminds me of Ulysses, who I fear is going
about in just such rags as this man's are, if indeed he is still among
the living. If he is already dead and in the house of Hades, then,
alas! for my good master, who made me his stockman when I was quite
young among the Cephallenians, and now his cattle are countless; no
one could have done better with them than I have, for they have bred
like ears of corn; nevertheless I have to keep bringing them in for
others to eat, who take no heed of his son though he is in the
house, and fear not the wrath of heaven, but are already eager to
divide Ulysses' property among them because he has been away so
long. I have often thought- only it would not be right while his son
is living- of going off with the cattle to some foreign country; bad
as this would be, it is still harder to stay here and be ill-treated
about other people's herds. My position is intolerable, and I should
long since have run away and put myself under the protection of some
other chief, only that I believe my poor master will yet return, and
send all these suitors flying out of the house."
"Stockman," answered Ulysses, "you seem to be a very well-disposed
person, and I can see that you are a man of sense. Therefore I will
tell you, and will confirm my words with an oath: by Jove, the chief
of all gods, and by that hearth of Ulysses to which I am now come,
Ulysses shall return before you leave this place, and if you are so
minded you shall see him killing the suitors who are now masters
"If Jove were to bring this to pass," replied the stockman, "you
should see how I would do my very utmost to help him."
And in like manner Eumaeus prayed that Ulysses might return home.
Thus did they converse. Meanwhile the suitors were hatching a plot
to murder Telemachus: but a bird flew near them on their left hand- an
eagle with a dove in its talons. On this Amphinomus said, "My friends,
this plot of ours to murder Telemachus will not succeed; let us go
to dinner instead."
The others assented, so they went inside and laid their cloaks on
the benches and seats. They sacrificed the sheep, goats, pigs, and the
heifer, and when the inward meats were cooked they served them
round. They mixed the wine in the mixing-bowls, and the swineherd gave
every man his cup, while Philoetius handed round the bread in the
breadbaskets, and Melanthius poured them out their wine. Then they
laid their hands upon the good things that were before them.
Telemachus purposely made Ulysses sit in the part of the cloister
that was paved with stone; he gave him a shabby-looking seat at a
little table to himself, and had his portion of the inward meats
brought to him, with his wine in a gold cup. "Sit there," said he,
"and drink your wine among the great people. I will put a stop to
the gibes and blows of the suitors, for this is no public house, but
belongs to Ulysses, and has passed from him to me. Therefore, suitors,
keep your hands and your tongues to yourselves, or there will be
The suitors bit their lips, and marvelled at the boldness of his
speech; then Antinous said, "We do not like such language but we
will put up with it, for Telemachus is threatening us in good earnest.
If Jove had let us we should have put a stop to his brave talk ere
Thus spoke Antinous, but Telemachus heeded him not. Meanwhile the
heralds were bringing the holy hecatomb through the city, and the
Achaeans gathered under the shady grove of Apollo.
Then they roasted the outer meat, drew it off the spits, gave
every man his portion, and feasted to their hearts' content; those who
waited at table gave Ulysses exactly the same portion as the others
had, for Telemachus had told them to do so.
But Minerva would not let the suitors for one moment drop their
insolence, for she wanted Ulysses to become still more bitter
against them. Now there happened to be among them a ribald fellow,
whose name was Ctesippus, and who came from Same. This man,
confident in his great wealth, was paying court to the wife of
Ulysses, and said to the suitors, "Hear what I have to say. The
stranger has already had as large a portion as any one else; this is
well, for it is not right nor reasonable to ill-treat any guest of
Telemachus who comes here. I will, however, make him a present on my
own account, that he may have something to give to the bath-woman,
or to some other of Ulysses' servants."
As he spoke he picked up a heifer's foot from the meat-basket in
which it lay, and threw it at Ulysses, but Ulysses turned his head a
little aside, and avoided it, smiling grimly Sardinian fashion as he
did so, and it hit the wall, not him. On this Telemachus spoke
fiercely to Ctesippus, "It is a good thing for you," said he, "that
the stranger turned his head so that you missed him. If you had hit
him I should have run you through with my spear, and your father would
have had to see about getting you buried rather than married in this
house. So let me have no more unseemly behaviour from any of you,
for I am grown up now to the knowledge of good and evil and understand
what is going on, instead of being the child that I have been
heretofore. I have long seen you killing my sheep and making free with
my corn and wine: I have put up with this, for one man is no match for
many, but do me no further violence. Still, if you wish to kill me,
kill me; I would far rather die than see such disgraceful scenes day
after day- guests insulted, and men dragging the women servants
about the house in an unseemly way."
They all held their peace till at last Agelaus son of Damastor said,
"No one should take offence at what has just been said, nor gainsay
it, for it is quite reasonable. Leave off, therefore, ill-treating the
stranger, or any one else of the servants who are about the house; I
would say, however, a friendly word to Telemachus and his mother,
which I trust may commend itself to both. 'As long,' I would say,
'as you had ground for hoping that Ulysses would one day come home, no
one could complain of your waiting and suffering the suitors to be
in your house. It would have been better that he should have returned,
but it is now sufficiently clear that he will never do so; therefore
talk all this quietly over with your mother, and tell her to marry the
best man, and the one who makes her the most advantageous offer.
Thus you will yourself be able to manage your own inheritance, and
to eat and drink in peace, while your mother will look after some
other man's house, not yours."'
To this Telemachus answered, "By Jove, Agelaus, and by the sorrows
of my unhappy father, who has either perished far from Ithaca, or is
wandering in some distant land, I throw no obstacles in the way of
my mother's marriage; on the contrary I urge her to choose
whomsoever she will, and I will give her numberless gifts into the
bargain, but I dare not insist point blank that she shall leave the
house against her own wishes. Heaven forbid that I should do this."
Minerva now made the suitors fall to laughing immoderately, and
set their wits wandering; but they were laughing with a forced
laughter. Their meat became smeared with blood; their eyes filled with
tears, and their hearts were heavy with forebodings. Theoclymenus
saw this and said, "Unhappy men, what is it that ails you? There is
a shroud of darkness drawn over you from head to foot, your cheeks are
wet with tears; the air is alive with wailing voices; the walls and
roof-beams drip blood; the gate of the cloisters and the court
beyond them are full of ghosts trooping down into the night of hell;
the sun is blotted out of heaven, and a blighting gloom is over all
Thus did he speak, and they all of them laughed heartily. Eurymachus
then said, "This stranger who has lately come here has lost his
senses. Servants, turn him out into the streets, since he finds it
so dark here."
But Theoclymenus said, "Eurymachus, you need not send any one with
me. I have eyes, ears, and a pair of feet of my own, to say nothing of
an understanding mind. I will take these out of the house with me, for
I see mischief overhanging you, from which not one of you men who
are insulting people and plotting ill deeds in the house of Ulysses
will be able to escape."
He left the house as he spoke, and went back to Piraeus who gave him
welcome, but the suitors kept looking at one another and provoking
Telemachus fly laughing at the strangers. One insolent fellow said
to him, "Telemachus, you are not happy in your guests; first you
have this importunate tramp, who comes begging bread and wine and
has no skill for work or for hard fighting, but is perfectly
useless, and now here is another fellow who is setting himself up as a
prophet. Let me persuade you, for it will be much better, to put
them on board ship and send them off to the Sicels to sell for what
they will bring."
Telemachus gave him no heed, but sat silently watching his father,
expecting every moment that he would begin his attack upon the
Meanwhile the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, had had had a rich
seat placed for her facing the court and cloisters, so that she
could hear what every one was saying. The dinner indeed had been
prepared amid merriment; it had been both good and abundant, for
they had sacrificed many victims; but the supper was yet to come,
and nothing can be conceived more gruesome than the meal which a
goddess and a brave man were soon to lay before them- for they had
brought their doom upon themselves.
Paradise Regained: The Fourth Book
Perplexed and troubled at his bad success
The Tempter stood, nor had what to reply,
Discovered in his fraud, thrown from his hope
So oft, and the persuasive rhetoric
That sleeked his tongue, and won so much on Eve,
So little here, nay lost. But Eve was Eve;
This far his over-match, who, self-deceived
And rash, beforehand had no better weighed
The strength he was to cope with, or his own.
But—as a man who had been matchless held
In cunning, over-reached where least he thought,
To salve his credit, and for very spite,
Still will be tempting him who foils him still,
And never cease, though to his shame the more;
Or as a swarm of flies in vintage-time,
About the wine-press where sweet must is poured,
Beat off, returns as oft with humming sound;
Or surging waves against a solid rock,
Though all to shivers dashed, the assault renew,
(Vain battery!) and in froth or bubbles end—
So Satan, whom repulse upon repulse
Met ever, and to shameful silence brought,
Yet gives not o'er, though desperate of success,
And his vain importunity pursues.
He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Washed by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length backed with a ridge of hills
That screened the fruits of the earth and seats of men
From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, off whose banks
On each side an Imperial City stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves, presented to his eyes
Above the highth of mountains interposed—
By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to enquire.
And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:—
"The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, Queen of the Earth
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations. There the Capitol thou seest,
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements, conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods—so well I have disposed
My aerie microscope—thou may'st behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in:
Praetors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power;
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the AEmilian—some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle, and, more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor sea;
From the Asian kings (and Parthian among these),
From India and the Golden Chersoness,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbants wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay—
To Rome's great Emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth and power,
Civility of manners, arts and arms,
And long renown, thou justly may'st prefer
Before the Parthian. These two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed;
These having shewn thee, I have shewn thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
This Emperor hath no son, and now is old,
Old and lascivious, and from Rome retired
To Capreae, an island small but strong
On the Campanian shore, with purpose there
His horrid lusts in private to enjoy;
Committing to a wicked favourite
All public cares, and yet of him suspicious;
Hated of all, and hating. With what ease,
Endued with regal virtues as thou art,
Appearing, and beginning noble deeds,
Might'st thou expel this monster from his throne,
Now made a sty, and, in his place ascending,
A victor-people free from servile yoke!
And with my help thou may'st; to me the power
Is given, and by that right I give it thee.
Aim, therefore, at no less than all the world;
Aim at the highest; without the highest attained,
Will be for thee no sitting, or not long,
On David's throne, be prophesied what will."
To whom the Son of God, unmoved, replied:—
"Nor doth this grandeur and majestic shew
Of luxury, though called magnificence,
More than of arms before, allure mine eye,
Much less my mind; though thou should'st add to tell
Their sumptuous gluttonies, and gorgeous feasts
On citron tables or Atlantic stone
(For I have also heard, perhaps have read),
Their wines of Setia, Cales, and Falerne,
Chios and Crete, and how they quaff in gold,
Crystal, and myrrhine cups, imbossed with gems
And studs of pearl—to me should'st tell, who thirst
And hunger still. Then embassies thou shew'st
From nations far and nigh! What honour that,
But tedious waste of time, to sit and hear
So many hollow compliments and lies,
Outlandish flatteries? Then proceed'st to talk
Of the Emperor, how easily subdued,
How gloriously. I shall, thou say'st, expel
A brutish monster: what if I withal
Expel a Devil who first made him such?
Let his tormentor, Conscience, find him out;
For him I was not sent, nor yet to free
That people, victor once, now vile and base,
Deservedly made vassal—who, once just,
Frugal, and mild, and temperate, conquered well,
But govern ill the nations under yoke,
Peeling their provinces, exhausted all
By lust and rapine; first ambitious grown
Of triumph, that insulting vanity;
Then cruel, by their sports to blood inured
Of fighting beasts, and men to beasts exposed;
Luxurious by their wealth, and greedier still,
And from the daily Scene effeminate.
What wise and valiant man would seek to free
These, thus degenerate, by themselves enslaved,
Or could of inward slaves make outward free?
Know, therefore, when my season comes to sit
On David's throne, it shall be like a tree
Spreading and overshadowing all the earth,
Or as a stone that shall to pieces dash
All monarchies besides throughout the world;
And of my Kingdom there shall be no end.
Means there shall be to this; but what the means
Is not for thee to know, nor me to tell."
To whom the Tempter, impudent, replied:—
"I see all offers made by me how slight
Thou valuest, because offered, and reject'st.
Nothing will please the difficult and nice,
Or nothing more than still to contradict.
On the other side know also thou that I
On what I offer set as high esteem,
Nor what I part with mean to give for naught,
All these, which in a moment thou behold'st,
The kingdoms of the world, to thee I give
(For, given to me, I give to whom I please),
No trifle; yet with this reserve, not else—
On this condition, if thou wilt fall down,
And worship me as thy superior Lord
(Easily done), and hold them all of me;
For what can less so great a gift deserve?"
Whom thus our Saviour answered with disdain:—
"I never liked thy talk, thy offers less;
Now both abhor, since thou hast dared to utter
The abominable terms, impious condition.
But I endure the time, till which expired
Thou hast permission on me. It is written,
The first of all commandments, 'Thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God, and only Him shalt serve.'
And dar'st thou to the Son of God propound
To worship thee, accursed? now more accursed
For this attempt, bolder than that on Eve,
And more blasphemous; which expect to rue.
The kingdoms of the world to thee were given!
Permitted rather, and by thee usurped;
Other donation none thou canst produce.
If given, by whom but by the King of kings,
God over all supreme? If given to thee,
By thee how fairly is the Giver now
Repaid! But gratitude in thee is lost
Long since. Wert thou so void of fear or shame
As offer them to me, the Son of God—
To me my own, on such abhorred pact,
That I fall down and worship thee as God?
Get thee behind me! Plain thou now appear'st
That Evil One, Satan for ever damned."
To whom the Fiend, with fear abashed, replied:—
"Be not so sore offended, Son of God—
Though Sons of God both Angels are and Men—
If I, to try whether in higher sort
Than these thou bear'st that title, have proposed
What both from Men and Angels I receive,
Tetrarchs of Fire, Air, Flood, and on the Earth
Nations besides from all the quartered winds—
God of this World invoked, and World beneath.
Who then thou art, whose coming is foretold
To me most fatal, me it most concerns.
The trial hath indamaged thee no way,
Rather more honour left and more esteem;
Me naught advantaged, missing what I aimed.
Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
The kingdoms of this world; I shall no more
Advise thee; gain them as thou canst, or not.
And thou thyself seem'st otherwise inclined
Than to a worldly crown, addicted more
To contemplation and profound dispute;
As by that early action may be judged,
When, slipping from thy mother's eye, thou went'st
Alone into the Temple, there wast found
Among the gravest Rabbies, disputant
On points and questions fitting Moses' chair,
Teaching, not taught. The childhood shews the man,
As morning shews the day. Be famous, then,
By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
So let extend thy mind o'er all the world
In knowledge; all things in it comprehend.
All knowledge is not couched in Moses' law,
The Pentateuch, or what the Prophets wrote;
The Gentiles also know, and write, and teach
To admiration, led by Nature's light;
And with the Gentiles much thou must converse,
Ruling them by persuasion, as thou mean'st.
Without their learning, how wilt thou with them,
Or they with thee, hold conversation meet?
How wilt thou reason with them, how refute
Their idolisms, traditions, paradoxes?
Error by his own arms is best evinced.
Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by south-west; behold
Where on the AEgean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil—
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And Eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive-grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There, flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rowls
His whispering stream. Within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages—his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there; and painted Stoa next.
There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
AEolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave Tragedians taught
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life,
High actions and high passions best describing.
Thence to the famous Orators repair,
Those ancient whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook the Arsenal, and fulmined over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne.
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From heaven descended to the low-roofed house
Of Socrates—see there his tenement—
Whom, well inspired, the Oracle pronounced
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that watered all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe.
These here revolve, or, as thou likest, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire joined."
To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied:—
"Think not but that I know these things; or, think
I know them not, not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought. He who receives
Light from above, from the Fountain of Light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;
A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue placed felicity,
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
By him called virtue, and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life—
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can;
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach, and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the World began, and how Man fell,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the Soul they talk, but all awry;
And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite
Of mortal things. Who, therefore, seeks in these
True wisdom finds her not, or, by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud. However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep-versed in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge,
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.
Or, if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where so soon
As in our native language can I find
That solace? All our Law and Story strewed
With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribed,
Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
That pleased so well our victor's ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts derived—
Ill imitated while they loudest sing
The vices of their deities, and their own,
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithetes, thick-laid
As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Thin-sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright and godlike men,
The Holiest of Holies and his Saints
(Such are from God inspired, not such from thee);
Unless where moral virtue is expressed
By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll'st as those
The top of eloquence—statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our Prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic, unaffected style,
Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only, with our Law, best form a king."
So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now
Quite at a loss (for all his darts were spent),
Thus to our Saviour, with stern brow, replied:—
"Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor arts,
Kingdom nor empire, pleases thee, nor aught
By me proposed in life contemplative
Or active, tended on by glory or fame,
What dost thou in this world? The Wilderness
For thee is fittest place: I found thee there,
And thither will return thee. Yet remember
What I foretell thee; soon thou shalt have cause
To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus
Nicely or cautiously, my offered aid,
Which would have set thee in short time with ease
On David's throne, or throne of all the world,
Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season,
When prophecies of thee are best fulfilled.
Now, contrary—if I read aught in heaven,
Or heaven write aught of fate—by what the stars
Voluminous, or single characters
In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate,
Attends thee; scorns, reproaches, injuries,
Violence and stripes, and, lastly, cruel death.
A kingdom they portend thee, but what kingdom,
Real or allegoric, I discern not;
Nor when: eternal sure—as without end,
Without beginning; for no date prefixed
Directs me in the starry rubric set."
So saying, he took (for still he knew his power
Not yet expired), and to the Wilderness
Brought back, the Son of God, and left him there,
Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose,
As daylight sunk, and brought in louring Night,
Her shadowy offspring, unsubstantial both,
Privation mere of light and absent day.
Our Saviour, meek, and with untroubled mind
After hisaerie jaunt, though hurried sore,
Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Wherever, under some concourse of shades,
Whose branching arms thick intertwined might shield
From dews and damps of night his sheltered head;
But, sheltered, slept in vain; for at his head
The Tempter watched, and soon with ugly dreams
Disturbed his sleep. And either tropic now
'Gan thunder, and both ends of heaven; the clouds
From many a horrid rift abortive poured
Fierce rain with lightning mixed, water with fire,
In ruin reconciled; nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rushed abroad
From the four hinges of the world, and fell
On the vexed wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks,
Bowed their stiff necks, loaden with stormy blasts,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then,
O patient Son of God, yet only stood'st
Unshaken! Nor yet staid the terror there:
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
Environed thee; some howled, some yelled, some shrieked,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou
Sat'st unappalled in calm and sinless peace.
Thus passed the night so foul, till Morning fair
Came forth with pilgrim steps, in amice grey,
Who with her radiant finger stilled the roar
Of thunder, chased the clouds, and laid the winds,
And griesly spectres, which the Fiend had raised
To tempt the Son of God with terrors dire.
And now the sun with more effectual beams
Had cheered the face of earth, and dried the wet
From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
After a night of storm so ruinous,
Cleared up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn,
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The Prince of Darkness; glad would also seem
Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came;
Yet with no new device (they all were spent),
Rather by this his last affront resolved,
Desperate of better course, to vent his rage
And mad despite to be so oft repelled.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
Backed on the north and west by a thick wood;
Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape,
And in a careless mood thus to him said:—
"Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night. I heard the wrack,
As earth and sky would mingle; but myself
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear them,
As dangerous to the pillared frame of Heaven,
Or to the Earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable
And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze
To man's less universe, and soon are gone.
Yet, as being ofttimes noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
They oft fore-signify and threaten ill.
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
Of men at thee, for only thou here dwell'st.
Did I not tell thee, if thou didst reject
The perfect season offered with my aid
To win thy destined seat, but wilt prolong
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
Of gaining David's throne no man knows when
(For both the when and how is nowhere told),
Thou shalt be what thou art ordained, no doubt;
For Angels have proclaimed it, but concealing
The time and means? Each act is rightliest done
Not when it must, but when it may be best.
If thou observe not this, be sure to find
What I foretold thee—many a hard assay
Of dangers, and adversities, and pains,
Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night that closed thee round,
So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign."
So talked he, while the Son of God went on,
And staid not, but in brief him answered thus:—
"Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm
Those terrors which thou speak'st of did me none.
I never feared they could, though noising loud
And threatening nigh: what they can do as signs
Betokening or ill-boding I contemn
As false portents, not sent from God, but thee;
Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing,
Obtrud'st thy offered aid, that I, accepting,
At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
Ambitious Spirit! and would'st be thought my God;
And storm'st, refused, thinking to terrify
Me to thy will! Desist (thou art discerned,
And toil'st in vain), nor me in vain molest."
To whom the Fiend, now swoln with rage, replied:—
"Then hear, O Son of David, virgin-born!
For Son of God to me is yet in doubt.
Of the Messiah I have heard foretold
By all the Prophets; of thy birth, at length
Announced by Gabriel, with the first I knew,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field,
On thy birth-night, that sung thee Saviour born.
From that time seldom have I ceased to eye
Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred;
Till, at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Flocked to the Baptist, I among the rest
(Though not to be baptized), by voice from Heaven
Heard thee pronounced the Son of God beloved.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view
And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
In what degree or meaning thou art called
The Son of God, which bears no single sense.
The Son of God I also am, or was;
And, if I was, I am; relation stands:
All men are Sons of God; yet thee I thought
In some respect far higher so declared.
Therefore I watched thy footsteps from that hour,
And followed thee still on to this waste wild,
Where, by all best conjectures, I collect
Thou art to be my fatal enemy.
Good reason, then, if I beforehand seek
To understand my adversary, who
And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent;
By parle or composition, truce or league,
To win him, or win from him what I can.
And opportunity I here have had
To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee
Proof against all temptation, as a rock
Of adamant and as a centre, firm
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good,
Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory,
Have been before contemned, and may again.
Therefore, to know what more thou art than man,
Worth naming the Son of God by voice from Heaven,
Another method I must now begin."
So saying, he caught him up, and, without wing
Of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime,
Over the wilderness and o'er the plain,
Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
The Holy City, lifted high her towers,
And higher yet the glorious Temple reared
Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Of alablaster, topt with golden spires:
There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
The Son of God, and added thus in scorn:—
"There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill. I to thy Father's house
Have brought thee, and highest placed: highest is best.
Now shew thy progeny; if not to stand,
Cast thyself down. Safely, if Son of God;
For it is written, 'He will give command
Concerning thee to his Angels; in their hands
They shall uplift thee, lest at any time
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.'"
To whom thus Jesus: "Also it is written,
'Tempt not the Lord thy God.'" He said, and stood;
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
As when Earth's son, Antaeus (to compare
Small things with greatest), in Irassa strove
With Jove's Alcides, and, oft foiled, still rose,
Receiving from his mother Earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple joined,
Throttled at length in the air expired and fell,
So, after many a foil, the Tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall;
And, as that Theban monster that proposed
Her riddle, and him who solved it not devoured,
That once found out and solved, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian steep,
So, strook with dread and anguish, fell the Fiend,
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
Joyless triumphals of his hoped success,
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received Him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits fetched from the Tree of Life,
And from the Fount of Life ambrosial drink,
That soon refreshed him wearied, and repaired
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impaired,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, Angelic quires
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the Tempter proud:—
"True Image of the Father, whether throned
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrined
In fleshly tabernacle and human form,
Wandering the wilderness—whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with Godlike force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne
And thief of Paradise! Him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now thou hast avenged
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.
He never more henceforth will dare set foot
In paradise to tempt; his snares are broke.
For, though that seat of earthly bliss be failed,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Saviour, art come down to reinstall;
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be,
Of tempter and temptation without fear.
But thou, Infernal Serpent! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds. Like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down
Under his feet. For proof, ere this thou feel'st
Thy wound (yet not thy last and deadliest wound)
By this repulse received, and hold'st in Hell
No triumph; in all her gates Abaddon rues
Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe
To dread the Son of God. He, all unarmed,
Shall chase thee, with the terror of his voice,
From thy demoniac holds, possession foul—
Thee and thy legions; yelling they shall fly,
And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
Lest he command them down into the Deep,
Bound, and to torment sent before their time.
Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both Worlds,
Queller of Satan! On thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save Mankind."
Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refreshed,
Brought on his way with joy. He, unobserved,
Home to his mother's house private returned.
Guilt and Sorrow
A traveller on the skirt of Sarum's Plain
Pursued his vagrant way, with feet half bare;
Stooping his gait, but not as if to gain
Help from the staff he bore; for mien and air
Were hardy, though his cheek seemed worn with care
Both of the time to come, and time long fled:
Down fell in straggling locks his thin grey hair;
A coat he wore of military red
But faded, and stuck o'er with many a patch and shred.
While thus he journeyed, step by step led on,
He saw and passed a stately inn, full sure
That welcome in such house for him was none.
No board inscribed the needy to allure
Hung there, no bush proclaimed to old and poor
And desolate, "Here you will find a friend!"
The pendent grapes glittered above the door;--
On he must pace, perchance 'till night descend,
Where'er the dreary roads their bare white lines extend.
The gathering clouds grow red with stormy fire,
In streaks diverging wide and mounting high;
That inn he long had passed; the distant spire,
Which oft as he looked back had fixed his eye,
Was lost, though still he looked, in the blank sky.
Perplexed and comfortless he gazed around,
And scarce could any trace of man descry,
Save cornfields stretched and stretching without bound;
But where the sower dwelt was nowhere to be found.
No tree was there, no meadow's pleasant green,
No brook to wet his lip or soothe his ear;
Long files of corn-stacks here and there were seen,
But not one dwelling-place his heart to cheer.
Some labourer, thought he, may perchance be near;
And so he sent a feeble shout--in vain;
No voice made answer, he could only hear
Winds rustling over plots of unripe grain,
Or whistling thro' thin grass along the unfurrowed plain.
Long had he fancied each successive slope
Concealed some cottage, whither he might turn
And rest; but now along heaven's darkening cope
The crows rushed by in eddies, homeward borne.
Thus warned he sought some shepherd's spreading thorn
Or hovel from the storm to shield his head,
But sought in vain; for now, all wild, forlorn,
And vacant, a huge waste around him spread;
The wet cold ground, he feared, must be his only bed.
And be it so--for to the chill night shower
And the sharp wind his head he oft hath bared;
A Sailor he, who many a wretched hour
Hath told; for, landing after labour hard,
Full long endured in hope of just reward,
He to an armed fleet was forced away
By seamen, who perhaps themselves had shared
Like fate; was hurried off, a helpless prey,
'Gainst all that in 'his' heart, or theirs perhaps, said nay.
For years the work of carnage did not cease,
And death's dire aspect daily he surveyed,
Death's minister; then came his glad release,
And hope returned, and pleasure fondly made
Her dwelling in his dreams. By Fancy's aid
The happy husband flies, his arms to throw
Round his wife's neck; the prize of victory laid
In her full lap, he sees such sweet tears flow
As if thenceforth nor pain nor trouble she could know.
Vain hope! for frand took all that he had earned.
The lion roars and gluts his tawny brood
Even in the desert's heart; but he, returned,
Bears not to those he loves their needful food.
His home approaching, but in such a mood
That from his sight his children might have run.
He met a traveller, robbed him, shed his blood;
And when the miserable work was done
He fled, a vagrant since, the murderer's fate to shun.
From that day forth no place to him could be
So lonely, but that thence might come a pang
Brought from without to inward misery.
Now, as he plodded on, with sullen clang
A sound of chains along the desert rang;
He looked, and saw upon a gibbet high
A human body that in irons swang,
Uplifted by the tempest whirling by;
And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.
It was a spectacle which none might view,
In spot so savage, but with shuddering pain;
Nor only did for him at once renew
All he had feared from man, but roused a train
Of the mind's phantoms, horrible as vain.
The stones, as if to cover him from day,
Rolled at his back along the living plain;
He fell, and without sense or motion lay;
But, when the trance was gone, feebly pursued his way.
As one whose brain habitual phrensy fires
Owes to the fit in which his soul hath tossed
Profounder quiet, when the fit retires,
Even so the dire phantasma which had crossed
His sense, in sudden vacancy quite lost,
Left his mind still as a deep evening stream.
Nor, if accosted now, in thought engrossed,
Moody, or inly troubled, would he seem
To traveller who might talk of any casual theme.
Hurtle the clouds in deeper darkness piled,
Gone is the raven timely rest to seek;
He seemed the only creature in the wild
On whom the elements their rage might wreak;
Save that the bustard, of those regions bleak
Shy tenant, seeing by the uncertain light
A man there wandering, gave a mournful shriek,
And half upon the ground, with strange affright,
Forced hard against the wind a thick unwieldy flight.
All, all was cheerless to the horizon's bound;
The weary eye--which, wheresoe'er it strays,
Marks nothing but the red sun's setting round,
Or on the earth strange lines, in former days
Left by gigantic arms--at length surveys
What seems an antique castle spreading wide;
Hoary and naked are its walls, and raise
Their brow sublime: in shelter there to bide
He turned, while rain poured down smoking on every side.
Pile of Stone-henge! so proud to hint yet keep
Thy secrets, thou that lov'st to stand and hear
The Plain resounding to the whirlwind's sweep,
Inmate of lonesome Nature's endless year;
Even if thou saw'st the giant wicker rear
For sacrifice its throngs of living men,
Before thy face did ever wretch appear,
Who in his heart had groaned with deadlier pain
Than he who, tempest-driven, thy shelter now would gain.
Within that fabric of mysterious form,
Winds met in conflict, each by turns supreme;
And, from the perilous ground dislodged, through storm
And rain he wildered on, no moon to stream
From gulf of parting clouds one friendly beam,
Nor any friendly sound his footsteps led;
Once did the lightning's faint disastrous gleam
Disclose a naked guide-post's double head,
Sight which tho' lost at once a gleam of pleasure shed.
No swinging sign-board creaked from cottage elm
To stay his steps with faintness overcome;
'Twas dark and void as ocean's watery realm
Roaring with storms beneath night's starless gloom;
No gipsy cowered o'er fire of furze or broom;
No labourer watched his red kiln glaring bright,
Nor taper glimmered dim from sick man's room;
Along the waste no line of mournful light
From lamp of lonely toll-gate streamed athwart the night.
At length, though hid in clouds, the moon arose;
The downs were visible--and now revealed
A structure stands, which two bare slopes enclose.
It was a spot, where, ancient vows fulfilled,
Kind pious hands did to the Virgin build
A lonely Spital, the belated swain
From the night terrors of that waste to shield:
But there no human being could remain,
And now the walls are named the "Dead House" of the plain.
Though he had little cause to love the abode
Of man, or covet sight of mortal face,
Yet when faint beams of light that ruin showed,
How glad he was at length to find some trace
Of human shelter in that dreary place.
Till to his flock the early shepherd goes,
Here shall much-needed sleep his frame embrace.
In a dry nook where fern the floor bestrows
He lays his stiffened limbs,--his eyes begin to close;
When hearing a deep sigh, that seemed to come
From one who mourned in sleep, he raised his head,
And saw a woman in the naked room
Outstretched, and turning on a restless bed:
The moon a wan dead light around her shed.
He waked her--spake in tone that would not fail,
He hoped, to calm her mind; but ill he sped,
For of that ruin she had heard a tale
Which now with freezing thoughts did all her powers assail;
Had heard of one who, forced from storms to shroud,
Felt the loose walls of this decayed Retreat
Rock to incessant neighings shrill and loud,
While his horse pawed the floor with furious heat;
Till on a stone, that sparkled to his feet,
Struck, and still struck again, the troubled horse:
The man half raised the stone with pain and sweat,
Half raised, for well his arm might lose its force
Disclosing the grim head of a late murdered corse.
Such tale of this lone mansion she had learned
And, when that shape, with eyes in sleep half drowned,
By the moon's sullen lamp she first discerned,
Cold stony horror all her senses bound.
Her he addressed in words of cheering sound;
Recovering heart, like answer did she make;
And well it was that, of the corse there found,
In converse that ensued she nothing spake;
She knew not what dire pangs in him such tale could wake.
But soon his voice and words of kind intent
Banished that dismal thought; and now the wind
In fainter howlings told its 'rage' was spent:
Meanwhile discourse ensued of various kind,
Which by degrees a confidence of mind
And mutual interest failed not to create.
And, to a natural sympathy resigned,
In that forsaken building where they sate
The Woman thus retraced her own untoward fate.
"By Derwent's side my father dwelt--a man
Of virtuous life, by pious parents bred;
And I believe that, soon as I began
To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed,
And in his hearing there my prayers I said:
And afterwards, by my good father taught,
I read, and loved the books in which I read;
For books in every neighbouring house I sought,
And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.
"A little croft we owned--a plot of corn,
A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme,
And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn
Plucked while the church bells rang their earliest chime.
Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime;
The swans that with white chests upreared in pride
Rushing and racing came to meet me at the water-side.
"The staff I well remember which upbore
The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honied sycamore
Where the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire;
When market-morning came, the neat attire
With which, though bent on haste, myself I decked;
Our watchful house-dog, that would tease and tire
The stranger till its barking-fit I checked;
The red-breast, known for years, which at my casement pecked.
"The suns of twenty summers danced along,--
Too little marked how fast they rolled away:
But, through severe mischance and cruel wrong,
My father's substance fell into decay:
We toiled and struggled, hoping for a day
When Fortune might put on a kinder look;
But vain were wishes, efforts vain as they;
He from his old hereditary nook
Must part; the summons came;--our final leave we took.
"It was indeed a miserable hour
When, from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed,
Peering above the trees, the steeple tower
That on his marriage day sweet music made!
Tilt then, he hoped his bones might there be laid
Close by my mother in their native bowers:
Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed;--
I could not pray:--through tears that fell in showers
Glimmered our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!
"There was a Youth whom I had loved so long,
That when I loved him not I cannot say:
'Mid the green mountains many a thoughtless song
We two had sung, like gladsome birds in May;
When we began to tire of childish play,
We seemed still more and more to prize each other;
We talked of marriage and our marriage day;
And I in truth did love him like a brother,
For never could I hope to meet with such another.
"Two years were passed since to a distant town
He had repaired to ply a gainful trade:
What tears of bitter grief, till then unknown!
What tender vows, our last sad kiss delayed!
To him we turned:--we had no other aid:
Like one revived, upon his neck I wept;
And her whom he had loved in joy, he said,
He well could love in grief; his faith he kept;
And in a quiet home once more my father slept.
"We lived in peace and comfort; and were blest
With daily bread, by constant toil supplied.
Three lovely babes had lain upon my breast;
And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed,
And knew not why. My happy father died,
When threatened war reduced the children's meal:
Thrice happy! that for him the grave could hide
The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel,
And tears that flowed for ills which patience might not heal.
"'Twas a hard change; an evil time was come;
We had no hope, and no relief could gain:
But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum
Beat round to clear the streets of want and pain.
My husband's arms now only served to strain
Me and his children hungering in his view;
In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain:
To join those miserable men he flew,
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, we drew.
"There were we long neglected, and we bore
Much sorrow ere the fleet its anchor weighed;
Green fields before us, and our native shore,
We breathed a pestilential air, that made
Ravage for which no knell was heard. We prayed
For our departure; wished and wished--nor knew,
'Mid that long sickness and those hopes delayed,
That happier days we never more must view.
The parting signal streamed--at last the land withdrew.
"But the calm summer season now was past.
On as we drove, the equinoctial deep
Ran mountains high before the howling blast,
And many perished in the whirlwind's sweep.
We gazed with terror on their gloomy sleep,
Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue,
Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap,
That we the mercy of the waves should rue:
We reached the western world, a poor devoted crew.
"The pains and plagues that on our heads came down,
Disease and famine, agony and fear,
In wood or wilderness, in camp or town,
It would unman the firmest heart to hear.
All perished--all in one remorseless year,
Husband and children! one by one, by sword
And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear
Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board
A British ship I waked, as from a trance restored."
Here paused she of all present thought forlorn,
Nor voice nor sound, that moment's pain expressed,
Yet Nature, with excess of grief o'erborne,
From her full eyes their watery load released.
He too was mute; and, ere her weeping ceased,
He rose, and to the ruin's portal went,
And saw the dawn opening the silvery east
With rays of promise, north and southward sent;
And soon with crimson fire kindled the firmament.
"O come," he cried, "come, after weary night
Of such rough storm, this happy change to view."
So forth she came, and eastward looked; the sight
Over her brow like dawn of gladness threw;
Upon her cheek, to which its youthful hue
Seemed to return, dried the last lingering tear,
And from her grateful heart a fresh one drew:
The whilst her comrade to her pensive cheer
Tempered fit words of hope; and the lark warbled near.
They looked and saw a lengthening road, and wain
That rang down a bare slope not far remote:
The barrows glistered bright with drops of rain,
Whistled the waggoner with merry note,
The cock far off sounded his clarion throat;
But town, or farm, or hamlet, none they viewed,
Only were told there stood a lonely cot
A long mile thence. While thither they pursued
Their way, the Woman thus her mournful tale renewed.
"Peaceful as this immeasurable plain
Is now, by beams of dawning light imprest,
In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main;
The very ocean hath its hour of rest.
I too forgot the heavings of my breast.
How quiet 'round me ship and ocean were!
As quiet all within me. I was blest,
And looked, and fed upon the silent air
Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair.
"Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps,
And groans that rage of racking famine spoke;
The unburied dead that lay in festering heaps,
The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke,
The shriek that from the distant battle broke,
The mine's dire earthquake, and the pallid host
Driven by the bomb's incessant thunderstroke
To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish tossed,
Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost!
"Some mighty gulf of separation past,
I seemed transported to another world;
A thought resigned with pain, when from the mast
The impatient mariner the sail unfurled,
And, whistling, called the wind that hardly curled
The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home
And from all hope I was for ever hurled.
For me--farthest from earthly port to roam
Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.
"And oft I thought (my fancy was so strong)
That I, at last, a resting-place had found;
'Here will I dwell,' said I, 'my whole life long,
Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned,
And end my days upon the peaceful flood.'--
To break my dream the vessel reached its bound;
And homeless near a thousand homes I stood,
And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.
"No help I sought; in sorrow turned adrift,
Was hopeless, as if cast on some bare rock;
Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift,
Nor raised my hand at any door to knock.
I lay where, with his drowsy mates, the cock
From the cross-timber of an out-house hung:
Dismally tolled, that night, the city clock!
At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung,
Nor to the beggar's language could I fit my tongue.
"So passed a second day; and, when the third
Was come, I tried in vain the crowd's resort.
--In deep despair, by frightful wishes stirred,
Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort;
There, pains which nature could no more support,
With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall;
And, after many interruptions short
Of hideous sense, I sank, nor step could crawl:
Unsought for was the help that did my life recall.
"Borne to a hospital, I lay with brain
Drowsy and weak, and shattered memory;
I heard my neighbours in their beds complain
Of many things which never troubled me--
Of feet still bustling round with busy glee,
Of looks where common kindness had no part,
Of service done with cold formality,
Fretting the fever round the languid heart,
And groans which, as they said, might make a dead man start.
"These things just served to stir the slumbering sense,
Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
With strength did memory return; and, thence
Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed.
The lanes I sought, and, as the sun retired,
Came where beneath the trees a faggot blazed,
The travellers saw me weep, my fate inquired,
And gave me food--and rest, more welcome, more desired.
"Rough potters seemed they, trading soberly
With panniered asses driven from door to door;
But life of happier sort set forth to me,
And other joys my fancy to allure--
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor
In barn uplighted; and companions boon,
Well met from far with revelry secure
Among the forest glades, while jocund June
Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon.
"But ill they suited me--those journeys dark
O'er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch!
To charm the surly house-dog's faithful bark,
Or hang on tip-toe at the lifted latch.
The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match,
The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill,
And ear still busy on its nightly watch,
Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill:
Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding still.
"What could I do, unaided and unblest?
My father! gone was every friend of thine:
And kindred of dead husband are at best
Small help; and, after marriage such as mine,
With little kindness would to me incline.
Nor was I then for toil or service fit;
My deep-drawn sighs no effort could confine;
In open air forgetful would I sit
Whole hours, with idle arms in moping sorrow knit.
"The roads I paced, I loitered through the fields;
Contentedly, yet sometimes self-accused.
Trusted my life to what chance bounty yields,
Now coldly given, now utterly refused.
The ground I for my bed have often used:
But what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth,
Is that I have my inner self abused,
Foregone the home delight of constant truth,
And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth.
"Through tears the rising sun I oft have viewed,
Through tears have seen him towards that world descend
Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude:
Three years a wanderer now my course I bend--
Oh! tell me whither--for no earthly friend
Have I."--She ceased, and weeping turned away;
As if because her tale was at an end,
She wept; because she had no more to say
Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.
True sympathy the Sailor's looks expressed,
His looks--for pondering he was mute the while.
Of social Order's care for wretchedness,
Of Time's sure help to calm and reconcile,
Joy's second spring and Hope's long-treasured smile,
'Twas not for 'him' to speak--a man so tried,
Yet, to relieve her heart, in friendly style
Proverbial words of comfort he applied,
And not in vain, while they went pacing side by side.
Ere long, from heaps of turf, before their sight,
Together smoking in the sun's slant beam,
Rise various wreaths that into one unite
Which high and higher mounts with silver gleam:
Fair spectacle,---but instantly a scream
Thence bursting shrill did all remark prevent;
They paused, and heard a hoarser voice blaspheme,
And female cries. Their course they thither bent,
And met a man who foamed with anger vehement,
A woman stood with quivering lips and pale,
And, pointing to a little child that lay
Stretched on the ground, began a piteous tale;
How in a simple freak of thoughtless play
He had provoked his father, who straightway,
As if each blow were deadlier than the last,
Struck the poor innocent. Pallid with dismay
The Soldier's Widow heard and stood aghast;
And stern looks on the man her grey-haired Comrade cast.
His voice with indignation rising high
Such further deed in manhood's name forbade;
The peasant, wild in passion, made reply
With bitter insult and revilings sad;
Asked him in scorn what business there he had;
What kind of plunder he was hunting now;
The gallows would one day of him be glad;--
Though inward anguish damped the Sailor's brow,
Yet calm he seemed as thoughts so poignant would allow.
Softly he stroked the child, who lay outstretched
With face to earth; and, as the boy turned round
His battered head, a groan the Sailor fetched
As if he saw--there and upon that ground--
Strange repetition of the deadly wound
He had himself inflicted. Through his brain
At once the griding iron passage found;
Deluge of tender thoughts then rushed amain,
Nor could his sunken eyes the starting tear restrain.
Within himself he said--What hearts have we!
The blessing this a father gives his child!
Yet happy thou, poor boy! compared with me,
Suffering not doing ill--fate far more mild.
The stranger's looks and tears of wrath beguiled
The father, and relenting thoughts awoke;
He kissed his son--so all was reconciled.
Then, with a voice which inward trouble broke
Ere to his lips it came, the Sailor them bespoke.
"Bad is the world, and hard is the world's law
Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece;
Much need have ye that time more closely draw
The bond of nature, all unkindness cease,
And that among so few there still be peace:
Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes
Your pains shall ever with your years increase?"--
While from his heart the appropriate lesson flows,
A correspondent calm stole gently o'er his woes.
Forthwith the pair passed on; and down they look
Into a narrow valley's pleasant scene
Where wreaths of vapour tracked a winding brook,
That babbled on through groves and meadows green;
A low-roofed house peeped out the trees between;
The dripping groves resound with cheerful lays,
And melancholy lowings intervene
Of scattered herds, that in the meadow graze,
Some amid lingering shade, some touched by the sun's rays.
They saw and heard, and, winding with the road,
Down a thick wood, they dropt into the vale;
Comfort, by prouder mansions unbestowed,
Their wearied frames, she hoped, would soon regale.
Erelong they reached that cottage in the dale:
It was a rustic inn;--the board was spread,
The milk-maid followed with her brimming pail,
And lustily the master carved the bread,
Kindly the housewife pressed, and they in comfort fed.
Their breakfast done, the pair, though loth, must part;
Wanderers whose course no longer now agrees.
She rose and bade farewell! and, while her heart
Struggled with tears nor could its sorrow ease,
She left him there; for, clustering round his knees,
With his oak-staff the cottage children played;
And soon she reached a spot o'erhung with trees
And banks of ragged earth; beneath the shade
Across the pebbly road a little runnel strayed.
A cart and horse beside the rivulet stood;
Chequering the canvas roof the sunbeams shone.
She saw the carman bend to scoop the flood
As the wain fronted her,--wherein lay one,
A pale-faced Woman, in disease far gone.
The carman wet her lips as well behoved;
Bed under her lean body there was none,
Though even to die near one she most had loved
She could not of herself those wasted limbs have moved.
The Soldier's Widow learned with honest pain
And homefelt force of sympathy sincere,
Why thus that worn-out wretch must there sustain
The jolting road and morning air severe.
The wain pursued its way; and following near
In pure compassion she her steps retraced
Far as the cottage. "A sad sight is here,"
She cried aloud; and forth ran out in haste
The friends whom she had left but a few minutes past.
While to the door with eager speed they ran,
From her bare straw the Woman half upraised
Her bony visage--gaunt and deadly wan;
No pity asking, on the group she gazed
With a dim eye, distracted and amazed;
Then sank upon her straw with feeble moan.
Fervently cried the housewife--"God be praised,
I have a house that I can call my own;
Nor shall she perish there, untended and alone!"
So in they bear her to the chimney seat,
And busily, though yet with fear, untie
Her garments, and, to warm her icy feet
And chafe her temples, careful hands apply.
Nature reviving, with a deep-drawn sigh
She strove, and not in vain, her head to rear;
Then said--"I thank you all; if I must die,
The God in heaven my prayers for you will hear;
Till now I did not think my end had been so near.
"Barred every comfort labour could procure,
Suffering what no endurance could assuage,
I was compelled to seek my father's door,
Though loth to be a burthen on his age.
But sickness stopped me in an early stage
Of my sad journey; and within the wain
They placed me--there to end life's pilgrimage,
Unless beneath your roof I may remain;
For I shall never see my father's door again.
"My life, Heaven knows, hath long been burthensome;
But, if I have not meekly suffered, meek
May my end be! Soon will this voice be dumb:
Should child of mine e'er wander hither, speak
Of me, say that the worm is on my cheek.--
Torn from our hut, that stood beside the sea
Near Portland lighthouse in a lonesome creek,
My husband served in sad captivity
On shipboard, bound till peace or death should set him free.
"A sailor's wife I knew a widow's cares,
Yet two sweet little ones partook my bed;
Hope cheered my dreams, and to my daily prayers
Our heavenly Father granted each day's bread;
Till one was found by stroke of violence dead,
Whose body near our cottage chanced to lie;
A dire suspicion drove us from our shed;
In vain to find a friendly face we try,
Nor could we live together those poor boys and I;
"For evil tongues made oath how on that day
My husband lurked about the neighbourhood;
Now he had fled, and whither none could say,
And 'he' had done the deed in the dark wood--
Near his own home!--but he was mild and good;
Never on earth was gentler creature seen;
He'd not have robbed the raven of its food.
My husband's lovingkindness stood between
Me and all worldly harms and wrongs however keen."
Alas! the thing she told with labouring breath
The Sailor knew too well. That wickedness
His hand had wrought; and when, in the hour of death,
He saw his Wife's lips move his name to bless
With her last words, unable to suppress
His anguish, with his heart he ceased to strive;
And, weeping loud in this extreme distress,
He cried--"Do pity me! That thou shouldst live
I neither ask nor wish--forgive me, but forgive!"
To tell the change that Voice within her wrought
Nature by sign or sound made no essay;
A sudden joy surprised expiring thought,
And every mortal pang dissolved away.
Borne gently to a bed, in death she lay;
Yet still while over her the husband bent,
A look was in her face which seemed to say,
"Be blest; by sight of thee from heaven was sent
Peace to my parting soul, the fulness of content."
'She' slept in peace,--his pulses throbbed and stopped,
Breathless he gazed upon her face,--then took
Her hand in his, and raised it, but both dropped,
When on his own he cast a rueful look.
His ears were never silent; sleep forsook
His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead;
All night from time to time under him shook
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed;
And oft he groaned aloud, "O God, that I were dead!"
The Soldier's Widow lingered in the cot,
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care
Through which his Wife, to that kind shelter brought,
Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer
He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair.
The corse interred, not one hour heremained
Beneath their roof, but to the open air
A burthen, now with fortitude sustained,
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet reigned.
Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared
For act and suffering, to the city straight
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared:
"And from your doom," he added, "now I wait,
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate."
Not ineffectual was that piteous claim:
"O welcome sentence which will end though late,"
He said, "the pangs that to my conscience came
Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour! is in thy name!"
His fate was pitied. Him in iron case
(Reader, forgive the intolerable thought)
They hung not:--no one on 'his' form or face
Could gaze, as on a show by idlers sought;
No kindred sufferer, to his death-place brought
By lawless curiosity or chance,
When into storm the evening sky is wrought,
Upon his swinging corse an eye can glance,
And drop, as he once dropped, in miserable trance.
The Princess Betrothed To The King Of Garba
WHAT various ways in which a thing is told
Some truth abuse, while others fiction hold;
In stories we invention may admit;
But diff'rent 'tis with what historick writ;
Posterity demands that truth should then
Inspire relation, and direct the pen.
ALACIEL'S story's of another kind,
And I've a little altered it, you'll find;
Faults some may see, and others disbelieve;
'Tis all the same:--'twill never make me grieve;
Alaciel's mem'ry, it is very clear,
Can scarcely by it lose; there's naught to fear.
Two facts important I have kept in view,
In which the author fully I pursue;
The one--no less than eight the belle possessed,
Before a husband's sight her eyes had blessed;
The other is, the prince she was to wed
Ne'er seemed to heed this trespass on his bed,
But thought, perhaps, the beauty she had got
Would prove to any one a happy lot.
HOWE'ER this fair, amid adventures dire,
More sufferings shared than malice could desire;
Though eight times, doubtless, she exchanged her knight
No proof, that she her spouse was led to slight;
'Twas gratitude, compassion, or good will;
The dread of worse;--she'd truly had her fill;
Excuses just, to vindicate her fame,
Who, spite of troubles, fanned the monarch's flame:
Of eight the relict, still a maid received ;--
Apparently, the prince her pure believed;
For, though at times we may be duped in this,
Yet, after such a number--strange to miss!
And I submit to those who've passed the scene,
If they, to my opinion, do not lean.
THE king of Alexandria, Zarus named,
A daughter had, who all his fondness claimed,
A star divine Alaciel shone around,
The charms of beauty's queen were in her found;
With soul celestial, gracious, good, and kind,
And all-accomplished, all-complying mind.
THE, rumour of her worth spread far and wide,
The king of Garba asked her for his bride,
And Mamolin (the sov'reign of the spot,)
To other princes had a pref'rence got.
THE fair, howe'er, already felt the smart
Of Cupid's arrow, and had lost her heart;
But 'twas not known: princesses love conceal,
And scarcely dare its whispers fond reveal;
Within their bosoms poignant pain remains,
Though flesh and blood, like lasses of the plains.
THE noble Hispal, one of zarus' court,
A handsome youth, as histories report,
Alaciel pleased; a mutual flame arose,
Though this they durst not venture to disclose
Or, if expressed, 'twas solely by the eyes:--
Soul-speaking language, nothing can disguise!
AFFIANCED thus, the princess, with a sigh,
Prepared to part, and fully to comply.
The father trusted her to Hispal's care,
Without the least suspicion of the snare;
They soon embarked and ploughed the briny main;
With anxious hopes in time the port to gain.
WHEN they, from Egypt's coast had sailed a week;
To gain the wind they saw a pirate seek,
Which having done, he t'wards them bore in haste,
To take the ship in which our fair was placed.
THE battle quickly raged; alike they erred;
The pirates slaughter loved, and blood preferred,
And, long accustomed to the stormy tide,
Were most expert, and on their skill relied.
In numbers, too, superior they were found;
But Hisipal's valour greatly shone around,
And kept the combat undecided long;
At length Grifonio, wond'rous large and strong;
With twenty sturdy, pirates got on board,
And many soon lay gasping by the sword.
Where'er he trod, grim death and horrour reigned;
At length, the round the noble Hispal gained.
His nervous arm laid many wretches low
Rage marked his eyes, whene'er he dealt a blow:
BUT, while the youth was thus engaged in fight,
Grifonio ran to gain a sweeter sight;
The princess was on board full well he knew;
No time he lost, but to her chamber flew;
And, since his pleasures seemed to be her doom;
He bore her like a sparrow from the room:
But not content with such a charming fair,
He took her diamonds, ornaments for hair,
And those dear pledges ladies oft receive,
When they a lover's ardent flame believe.
Indeed, I've heard it hinted as a truth,
(And very probable for such a youth,)
That Hispal, while on board, his flame revealed;
And what chagrin she felt was then concealed,
The passage thinking an improper time,
To shew a marked displeasure at his crime.
THE pirate-chief who carried off his prey,
Had short-lived joy, for, wishing to convey
His charming captive from the ship with speed;
One vessel chanced a little to recede,
Although securely fastened by the crew,
With grappling hooks, as usually they do,
When quite intent to pass, young Hispal made
A blow, that dead at once the ruffian laid;
His head and shoulders, severed from the trunk;
Fell in the sea, and to the bottom sunk,
Abjuring Mahomet, and all the tribe
Of idle prophets, Catholics proscribe;
Erect the rest upon the legs remained;
The very posture as before retained;
This curious sight no doubt a laugh had raised,--
But in the moment, she, so lately praised,
With dread Grifonio, fell beyond their view;
To save her, straight the gallant Hispal flew.
The ships, for want of pilots at the helm,
At random drifted over Neptune's realm.
GRIM death the pirate forced to quit his slave;
Buoyed up by clothes, she floated on the wave,
'Till Hispal succour lent, who saw 'twas vain
To try with her the vessel to regain.
He could, with greater ease, the fair convey
To certain rocks, and thither bent his way;
Those rocks to sailors oft destruction proved,
But now the couple saved, who thither moved:
'Tis even said the jewels were not lost,
But sweet Alaciel, howsoever tost,
Preserved the caskets, which with strings were tied;
And seizing these, the treasure drew aside.
OUR swimmer on his back the princess bore;
The rock attained; but hardships were not o'er;
Misfortunes dire the noble pair pursued
And famine, worst of ills, around was viewed.
No ship was near; the light soon passed away;
The night the same; again appeared the day;
No vessel hove in sight; no food to eat;
Our couple's wretchedness seemed now complete;
Hope left them both, and, mutual passion moved,
Their situation more tormenting proved.
LONG time in silence they each other eyed
At length, to speak the lovely charmer tried
Said she, 'tis useless, Hispal, to bewail:
Tears, with the cruel Parcae, naught avail;
Each other to console be now our aim;
Grim death his course will follow still the same.
To mitigate the smart let's try anew;
In such a place as this few joys accrue.
CONSOLE each other, say you? Hispal cried;
What can console when forced one's love to hide?
Besides, fair princess, ev'ry way 'tis clear,
Improper 'twere for you to love while here;
I equally could death or famine brave;
But you I tremble for, and wish to save.
THESE words so pained the fair, that gushing tears
Bedewed Alaciel's cheeks, her looks spoke fears;
The ardent flame which she'd so long concealed;
Burst forth in sighs, and all its warmth revealed;
While such emotion Hispal's eyes expressed,
That more than words his anxious wish confessed.
These tender scenes were followed by a kiss,
The prelude sweet of soft enchanting bliss;
But whether taken, or by choice bestowed,
Alike 'twas clear, their heaving bosoms glowed.
THOSE vows now o'er, said Hispal with a sigh,
In this adventure, if we're doomed to die,
Indiff'rent surely 'tis, the prey to be
Of birds of air, or fishes of the sea;
My reason tells me ev'ry grave's the same,
Return we must, at last, from whence we came,
Here ling'ring death alone we can expect;
To brave the waves 'tis better to elect;
I yet have strength, and 'tis not far to land;
The wind sets fair: let's try to gain the strand;
From rock to rock we'll go: I many view,
Where I can rest; to THIS we'll bid adieu.
TO move, Alaciel readily agreed;
Again our couple ventured to proceed;
The casket safe in tow; the weather hot;
From rock to rock with care our swimmer got;
The princess, anxious on his back to keep:--
New mode of traversing the wat'ry deep.
WITH Heav'n's assistance, and the rocks for rest,
The youth, by hunger and fatigue oppressed,
Uneasiness of mind, weighed down with care,
Not for himself, but safety of the fair,
A fast of two long tedious days now o'er,
The casket and the belle he brought on shore:
I THINK you cry--how wond'rously exact,
To bring the casket into ev'ry act!
Is that a circumstance of weight I pray?
It truly seems so, and without delay,
You'll see if I be wrong; no airy flight,
Or jeer, or raillery, have I in sight.
Had I embarked our couple in a ship
Without or cash or jewels for the trip,
Distress had followed, you must be aware;
'Tis past our pow'r to live on love or air;
In vain AFFECTION ev'ry effort tries
Inexorable hunger ALL defies.
THE casket, with the diamonds proved a source,
To which 'twas requisite to have recourse;
Some Hispal sold, and others put in pawn,
And purchased, near the coast, a house and lawn;
With woods, extensive park, and pleasure ground;
And many bow'rs and shady walks around,
Where charming hours they passed, and this 'twas plain,
Without the casket they could n'er obtain.
BENEATH the wood there was a secret grot,
Where lovers, when they pleased, concealment got,
A quiet, gloomy, solitary place,
Designed by nature for the billing race.
ONE day, as through the grove a walk they sought,
The god of love our couple thither brought;
His wishes, Hispal, as they went along,
Explained im part by words direct and strong;
The rest his sighs expressed, (they spoke the soul --
The princess, trembling, listened to the whole.
SAID he, we now are in a place retired,
Unknown to man, (such spots how oft desired!)
Let's take advantage of the present hour:
No joys, but those of LOVE, are in our pow'r;
All others see withdrawn! and no one knows
We even live; perhaps both friends and foes
Believe us in the belly of a whale;
Allow me, lovely princess, to prevail;
Bestow your kindness, or, without delay,
Those charms to Mamolin let me convey.
Yet, why go thither?--happy you could make
The man, whose constancy no perils shake,
What would you more?--his passion's ardent grown;
And surely you've enough resistance shown.
SUCH tender elocution Hispal used,
That e'en to marble, 'Twould have warmth infused;
While fair Alaciel, on the bark of trees,
With bodkin wrote, apparently at ease.
But Cupid drew her thoughts to higher things,
Than merely graving what from fancy springs.
Her lover and the place, at once assured,
That such a secret would be well secured;
A tempting bait, which made her, with regret,
Resist the witching charm that her beset.
UNLUCKILY, 'twas then the month of May,
When youthful hearts are often led astray,
And soft desire can scarcely be concealed,
But presses through the pores to be revealed.
How many do we see, by slow degrees,
And, step by step, accord their ALL to please,
Who, at the onset, never dreamed to grant
The smallest favour to their fond gallant.
The god of love so archly acts his part,
And, in unguarded moments, melts the heart,
That many belles have tumbled in the snare,
Who, how it happened, scarcely could declare.
WHEN they had reached the pleasing secret spot;
Young Hispal wished to go within the grot;
Though nearly overcome, she this declined;
But then his services arose to mind;
Her life from Ocean's waves, her honour too,
To him she owed; what could he have in view?
A something, which already has been shown,
Was saved through Hispal's nervous arm alone:
Said he, far better bless a real friend,
Than have each treasure rifled in the end,
By some successful ruffian; think it o'er;
You little dream for whom you guard the store.
THE princess felt the truth of this remark,
And half surrendered to the loving spark;
A show'r obliged the pair, without delay,
To seek a shed:--the place I need not say;
The rest within the grotto lies concealed:--
The scenes of Cupid ne'er should be revealed.
Alaciel blame, or not--I've many known,
With less excuses, who've like favours shown.
ALONE the cavern witnessed not their bliss;
In love, a point once gained, naught feels amiss,
If trees could speak that grew within the dell,
What joys they viewed--what stories they might tell!
The park, the lawn, the pleasure grounds, and bow'rs,
The belts of roses, and the beds of flow'rs,
All, all could whisper something of the kind;
At length, both longed their friends again to find,
Quite cloyed with love, they sighed to be at court;
Thus spoke the fair her wishes to support.
LOVED youth, to ME you must be ever dear;
To doubt it would ungen'rous now appear;
But tell me, pray, what's love without desire,
Devoid of fear, and nothing to acquire?
Flame unconfined is soon exhausted found,
But, thwarted in its course 'twill long abound;
I fear this spot, which we so highly prize,
Will soon appear a desert in our eyes,
And prove at last our grave; relieve my woe;
At once to Alexandria, Hispal go;
Alive pronounced, you presently will see,
What worthy people think of you and me;
Conceal our residence, declare you came,
My journey to prepare, (your certain aim,)
And see that I've a num'rous escort sent,
To guard me from a similar event.
By it, believe me, you shall nothing lose;
And this is what I willingly would choose;
For, be I single, or in Hymen's band,
I'd have you follow me by sea and land,
And be assured, should favour I withdraw,
That I've observed in you some glaring flaw.
WERE her intentions fully as expressed,
Or contrary to what her lips confessed,
No matter which her view, 'twas very plain,
If she would Hispal's services retain,
'Twere right the youth with promises to feed,
While his assistance she so much must need:
As soon as he was ready to depart
She pressed him fondly to her glowing heart,
And charged him with a letter to the king;
This Hispal hastened to the prince to bring;
Each sail he crowded:--plied with ev'ry oar;
A wind quite fair soon brought him to shore;
To court he went, where all with eager eyes,
Demanded if he lived, amid surprise,
And where he left the princess; what her state?
These questions answered, Hispal, quite elate,
Procured the escort, which, without delay,
Though leaving him behind, was sent away:
No dark mistrust retained the noble youth;
But Zarus wished it: such appeared the truth.
BY one of early years the troop was led,
A handsome lad, and elegantly bred.
He landed with his party near the park.
And these in two divided ere 'twas dark.
ONE half he left a guard upon the shore,
And with the other hastened to the door,
Where dwelled the belle, who daily fairer grew:
Our chief was smitten instantly at view;
And, fearing opportunity again,
Like this, perhaps, he never might obtain,
Avowed at once his passion to the fair;
At which she frowned, and told him, with an air;
To recollect his duty, and her rank:--
With equals only, he should be so frank.
ON these occasions, prudent 'tis to show
Your disappointment by a face of woe;
Seem ev'ry way the picture of despair:--
This countenance our knight appeared to wear;
To starve himself he vowed was his design;
To use the poniard he should ne'er incline,
For then no time for penitence would rest.-
The princess of his folly made a jest.
He fasted one whole day; she-tried in vain
To make him from the enterprise refrain.
AT length, the second day she 'gan to feel,
And strong emotion scarcely could conceal.
What! let a person die her charms could save!
'Twas cruel, thus to treat a youth so brave.
Through pity, she at last, to please the chief,
Consented to bestow on him relief;
For, favours, when conferred with sullen air,
But little gratify she was aware.
WHen satisfied the smart gallant appeared,
And anxiously to putting off adhered,
Pretending that the wind and tide would fail;
The galleys sometimes were unfit to sail,
Repairs required; then further heard the news,
That certain pirates had unpleasant views;
To fall upon the escort they'd contrived:
At length, a pirate suddenly arrived,
Surprized the party left upon the shore,
Destroyed the whole; then sought the house for more,
And scaled the walls while darkness spread around.
The pirate was Grifonio's second found,
Who, in a trice, the noble mansion took,
And joy gave place to grief in ev'ry look.
THe Alexandrian swore and cursed his lot;
The pirate soon the lady's story got,
And, taking her aside, his share required
Such impudence Alaciel's patience tired,
Who, ev'ry thing refused with haughty air;
Of this, howe'er, the robber was aware;
In Venus' court no novice was he thought;
To gain the princess anxiously he sought;
Said he, you'd better take me as a friend;
I'm more than pirate, and you'll comprehend,
As you've obliged one dying swain to fast,
You fast in turn, or you'll give way at last;
'Tis justice this demands: we sons of sea
Know how to deal with those of each degree;
Remember you will nothing have to eat,
Till your surrender fully is complete.
NO haggling, princess pray, my word receive;
What could be done, her terror to relieve?
Above all law is might:--'twill take its course;
Entire submission is the last resource.
OF'T what we would not, we're obliged to do,
When fate our steps with rigour will pursue.
No folly greater than to heighten pain,
When we are sensible relief is vain.
What she, through pity, to another gave,
Might well be granted when herself 'twould save.
AT length she yielded to this suitor rude:--
No grief so great, but what may be subdued.
'Twould in the pirate doubtless have been wise,
The belle to move, and thus prevent surprise;
But who, from folly in amours is free?
The god of love and wisdom ne'er agree.
WHILE our gay pirate thought himself at ease,
The wind quite fair to sail when he might please,
Dame Fortune, sleepy only while we wake,
And slily watching when repose we take,
Contrived a trick the cunning knave to play,
And this was put in force ere break of day.
A LORD, the owner of a neighb'ring seat,
Unmarried;--fond of what was nice and neat,
Without attachment, and devoid of care,
Save something new to meet among the FAIR;
Grew tired of those he long around had viewed,
Now constantly, in thought, our belle pursued.
He'd money, friends, and credit all his days,
And could two thousand men at pleasure raise:
One charming morn, together these he brought;
Said he, brave fellows, can it well be thought,
That we allow a pirate, (dire disgrace!)
To plunder as he likes before our face,
And make a slave of one whose form 's divine?
Let's to the castle, such is my design,
And from the ruffian liberate the fair;
This evening ev'ry one will here repair,
Well armed, and then in silence we'll proceed,
(By night 'tis nothing will impede,)
And ere Aurora peeps, perform the task;
The only booty that I mean to ask
Is this fair dame; but not a slave to make,
I anxiously desire to let her take
Whate'er is her's:--restore her honour too;
All other things I freely leave to you;
Men, horses, baggage, in a word, the whole
Of what the knavish rascals now control.
Another thing, howe'er:--I wish to hang
The pirate instantly, before his gang.
THIS speech so well succeeded to inspire,
That scarcely could the men retain their ire.
THE evening came, the party soon arrived;
They ate not much, but drink their rage revived.
By such expensive treats we've armies known,
In Germany and Flanders overthrown;
And our commander was of this aware
'Twas prudent, surely, no expense to spare.
THEY carried ladders for the escalade,
And each was furnished with a tempered blade;
No other thing embarrassing they'd got;
No drums; but all was silent as the grot.
THEY reached the house when nearly break of day,
The time old Morpheus' slumbers often weigh;
The gang, with few exceptions, (then asleep),
Were sent, their vigils with grim death to keep.
THE chief hung up:--the princess soon appeared;
Her spirits presently our champion cheered;
The pirate scarcely had her bosom moved:--
No tears at least a marked affection proved;
But, by her prayers she pardon sought to gain,
For some who were not in the conflict slain;
Consoled the dying, and lamented those,
Who, by the sword, had closed their book of woes:
Then left the place without the least regret,
Where such adventures and alarms she'd met.
'Tis said, indeed, she presently forgot
The two gallants who last became her lot;
And I can easily the fact believe:
Removed from sight, but few for lovers grieve.
SHE, by her neighbour, was received, we're told,
'Mid costly furniture and burnished gold;
We may suppose what splendour shone around,
When all-attracting he would fain be found;
The best of wines; each dish considered rare:--
The gods themselves received not better fare:
Till then, Alaciel ne'er had tasted wine;
Her faith forbade a liquor so divine;
And, unacquainted with the potent juice,
She much indulged at table in its use.
If lately LOVE disquieted her brain,
New poison now pervaded ev'ry vein;
Both fraught with danger to the beauteous FAIR,
Whose charms should guarded be with ev'ry care.
THE princess by the maids in bed was placed;
Then thither went the host with anxious haste,
What sought he? you will ask:--mere torpid charms:--
I wish the like were clasped within my arms.
Give me as much, said one the other week,
And see if I'd a neighbour's kindness seek.
Through Morpheus' sleepy pow'r, and Bacchus' wine:
Our host, at length, completed his design.
ALACIEL, when at morn, she oped her eyes,
Was quite o'ercome with terror and surprise,
No tears would flow, and fear restrained her voice;
Unable to resist, she'd got no choice.
A NIGHT thus passed, the wily lover said,
Must surely give a license to your bed.
The princess thought the same; but our gallant,
Soon cloyed, for other conquests 'gan to pant.
THE host one evening from the mansion went;
A friend he left himself to represent,
And with the charming fair supply his place,
Which, in the dark he thought, with easy grace,
Might be effected, if he held his tongue,
And properly behaved the whole night long.
To this the other willingly agreed;
(What friend would be refused, if thus in need?)
And this new-comer had complete success
He scarcely could his ecstacy express.
THE dame exclaimed:--pray how could he pretend;
To treat me so, and leave me to a friend?
The other thought the host was much to blame;
But since 'tis o'er, said he, be now your aim,
To punish his contempt of beauteous charms;
With favours load me--take me to your arms;
Caress with fond embrace; bestow delight;
And seem to love me, though in mere despite.
SHE followed his advice: avenged the wrong;
And naught omitted, pleasures to prolong.
If he obtained his wishes from the fair,
The host about it scarcely seemed to care.
THE sixth adventure of our charming belle,
Some writers one way, some another tell;
Whence many think that favour I have shown,
And for her, one gallant the less would own.
Mere scandal this; from truth I would nor swerve,
To please the fair: more credence I deserve;
Her husband only eight precursors had;
The fact was such;--I none suppress nor add.
THE host returned and found his friend content;
To pardon him Alaciel gave consent;
And 'tween them things would equally divide
Of royal bosoms clemency's the pride.
WHILE thus the princess passed from hand to hand
She oft amused her fancy 'mong a band
Of charming belles that on her would attend,
And one of these she made an humble friend.
The fav'rite in the house a lover had,
A smart, engaging, handsome, clever lad,
Well born, but much to violence inclined
A wooer that could scarcely be confined
To gentle means, but oft his suit began,
Where others end, who follow Cupid's plan.
IT one day happened, that this forward spark;
The girl we speak of, met within the park,
And to a summer-house the fav'rite drew;
The course they took the princess chanced to view
As wand'ring near; but neither swain nor fair,
Suspicion had, that any one was there;
And this gallant most confidently thought,
The girl by force, might to his terms be brought!
His wretched temper, obstacle to love,
And ev'ry bliss bestowed by heav'n above,
Had oft his hopes of favours lately marred;
And fear, with those designs, had also jarred:
The girl, howe'er, would likely have been kind,
If opportunities had pleased her mind.
THE lover, now convinced that he was feared;
In dark designs upon her persevered.
No sooner had she entered, than our man
Locked instantly the door, but vain his plan;
To open it the princess had a key;
The girl her fault perceived, and tried to flee;
He held her fast; the charmer loudly called;
The princess came--or vainly she had squalled.
QUITE disappointed: overcome with ire,
He wholly lost respect amid desire,
And swore by all the gods, that, ere they went,
The one or other should to him consent;
Their hands he'd firmly tie to have his way;
For help (the place so far) 'twere vain to pray;
To take a lot was all that he'd allow;
Come, draw, he said; to Fortune you must bow;
No haggling I request--comply; be still:
Resolved I am with one to have my will.
WHAT has the princess done? the girl replied,
That you, to make her suffer, thus decide
Yes, said the spark, if on her fall the lot,
Then you'll, at least for present, be forgot.
NO, cried Alaciel, ne'er I'll have it said,
To sacrifice I saw a maiden led;
I'll suffer rather all that you expect,
If you will spare my friend as I direct.
'Twas all in vain, the lots were drawn at last,
And on the princess was the burthen cast;
The other was permitted to retire,
And each was sworn that nothing should transpire:
But our gallant would sooner have been hung,
Than have upon such secrets held his tongue;
'Tis clear, no longer silent he remained,
Than one to listen to his tale he'd gained.
THIS change of favourites the princess grieved;
That Cupid trifled with her she perceived;
With much regret she saw her blooming charms,
The Helen of too many Paris' arms.
ONE day it happened, as our beauteous belle
Was sleeping in a wood beside a dell,
By chance there passed, quite near, a wand'ring knight,
Like those the ladies followed with delight,
When they on palfreys rode in days of old,
And purity were always thought to hold.
THIS knight, who copied those of famed romance,
Sir Roger, and the rest, in complisance,
No sooner saw the princess thus asleep,
Than instantly he wished a kiss to reap.
While thinking, whether from the neck or lip,
'Twere best the tempting balm of bliss to sip,
He suddenly began to recollect
The laws of chivalry he should respect.
Although the thought retained, his fervent prayer
To Cupid was, that while the nymph was there,
Her fascinating charms he might enjoy;
Sure love's soft senses were ne'er designed to cloy!
THE princess woke, and great surprise expressed;
Oh! charming fair, said he, be not distressed;
No savage of the woods nor giant 's nigh,
A wand'ring knight alone you now descry,
Delighted thus to meet a beauteous belle
Such charms divine, what angel can excel!
THIS compliment was followed by his sighs,
And frank confession, both from tongue and eyes;
Our lover far in little time could go;
At length, he offered on her to bestow,
His hand and heart, and ev'ry thing beside,
Which custom sanctions when we seek a bride.
WITH courtesy his offer was received,
And she related what her bosom grieved;
Detailed her hist'ry, but with care concealed
The six gallants, as wrong to be revealed.
The knight, in what he wished, indulgence got;
And, while the princess much deplored her lot,
The youth proposed Alaciel he should bring,
To Mamolin, or Alexandria's king.
TO Mamolin? replied the princess fair,
No, no--I now indeed would fain repair,
(Could I my wishes have), to Zarus' court,
My native country:--thither give support.
IF Cupid grant me life, rejoined the knight,
You there shall go, and I'll assist your, flight;
To have redress, upon yourself depends,
As well as to requite the best of friends;
But should I perish in the bold design,
Submit you must, as wills the pow'rs divine.
I'll freely say, howe'er, that I regard,
My services enough to claim reward.
ALACIEL readily to this agreed;
And favours fondly promised to concede;
T'ensure, indeed, his guarding her throughout,
They were to be conferred upon the route,
From time to time as onward they should go,
Not all at once, but daily some to flow.
THINGS thus arranged, the fair behind the knight
Got up at once, and with him took to flight.
Our cavalier his servants sought to find,
That, when he crossed the wood, he left behind;
With these a nephew and his tutor rode;
The belle a palfrey took, as more the mode,
But, by her walked attentively the spark,
A tale he'd now relate; at times remark
The passing scene; then press his ardent flame;
And thus amused our royal, beauteous dame.
THE treaty was most faithfully observed;
No calculation wrong; from naught they swerved.
At length they reached the sea; on ship-board got;
A quick and pleasing passage was their lot;
Delightfully serene, which joy increased;
To land they came (from perils thought released
At Joppa they debarked; two days remained:
And when refreshed, the proper road they gained;
Their escort was the lover's train alone;
On Asia's shores to plunder bands are prone;
By these were met our spark and lovely fair;
New dangers they, alas! were forced to share.
TO cede, at first, their numbers forced the train;
But rallied by our knight they were again;
A desp'rate push he made; repulsed their force;
And by his valour stopt, at length, their course;
In which attack a mortal wound he got,
But was not left for dead upon the spot.
BEFORE his death he full instructions gave,
To grant the belle whatever she might crave;
He ordered too, his nephew should convey,
Alaciel to her home without delay,
Bequeathing him whatever he possessed,
And--what the princess owed among the rest.
AT length, from dread alarms and tears released,
The pair fulfilled the will of our deceased;
Discharged each favour was, of which the last
Was cancelled just as they the frontiers passed.
THE nephew here his precious charge resigned,
For fear the king should be displeased to find,
His daughter guarded by a youthful swain:--
The tutor only with her could remain.
NO words of mine, no language can express
The monarch's joy his child to re-possess;
And, since the difficulty I perceive,
I'll imitate old Sol's retreat at eve,
Who falls with such rapidity of view,
He seems to plunge, dame Thetis to pursue.
THE tutor liked his own details to hear,
And entertaining made his tales appear:
The num'rous perils that the fair had fled,
Who laughed aside, no doubt, at what he said.
I SHOULD observe, the aged tutor cried,
The princess, while for liberty she sighed,
And quite alone remained (by Hispal left,)
That she might be of idleness bereft,
Resolved most fervently a god to serve,
From whom she scarcely since would ever swerve,
A god much worshipped 'mong the people there,
With num'rous temples which his honours share,
Denominated cabinets and bow'rs,
In which, from high respect to heav'nly pow'rs,
They represent the image of a bird,
A pleasing sight, though (what appears absurd)
'Tis bare of plumage, save about the wings;
To this each youthful bosom incense brings,
While other gods, as I've been often told,
They scarcely notice, till they're growing old.
DID you but know the virtuous steps she trod,
While thus devoted to the little god,
You'd thank a hundred times the pow'rs above,
That gave you such a child to bless your love.
But many other customs there abound:--
The FAIR with perfect liberty are found:
Can go and come, whene'er the humour fits;
No eunuch (shadow like) that never quits;
But watches ev'ry movement:--always feared;
No men, but who've upon the chin a beard:
Your daughter from the first, their manners took:
So easy is her ev'ry act and look,
And truly to her honour I may say,
She's all-accommodating ev'ry way.
THE king delighted seemed at what he heard;
But since her journey could not be deferred,
The princess, with a num'rous escort, tried
Again o'er seas t'wards Garba's shores to glide,
And, there arrived, was cordially received
By Mamolin, who loved, she soon believed,
To fond excess; and, all her suite to aid,
A handsome gift to ev'ry one was made.
THE king with noble feasts the court regaled,
At which Alaciel pleasantly detailed
just what she liked, or true or false, 'twas clear;
The prince and courtiers were disposed to hear.
AT night the queen retired to soft repose,
From whence next morn with honour she arose;
The king was found much pleasure to express;
Alaciel asked no more, you well may guess.
BY this we learn, that husbands who aver
Their wond'rous penetration often err;
And while they fancy things so very plain,
They've been preceded by a fav'rite swain.
The safest rule 's to be upon your guard;
Fear ev'ry guile; yet hope the full reward.
SWEET, charming FAIR, your characters revere;
The Mamolin's a bird not common here.
With us Love's fascination is so soon
Succeeded by the licensed honey moon,
There's scarcely opportunity to fool,
Though oft the husband proves an easy tool.
YOUR friendships may be very chaste and pure,
But strangely Cupid's lessons will allure.
Defeat his wiles; resist his tempting charms
E'en from suspicion suffer not alarms.
Don't laugh at my advice; 'twere like the boys,
Who better might amuse themselves with toys.
IF any one, howe'er unable seem,
To make resistance 'gainst the flame supreme
Turn ALL to jest; though right to keep the crown
Yet lost, 'there wrong, yourself to hang or drown.
Book IV - Part 03 - The Senses And Mental Pictures
Bodies that strike the eyes, awaking sight.
From certain things flow odours evermore,
As cold from rivers, heat from sun, and spray
From waves of ocean, eater-out of walls
Around the coasts. Nor ever cease to flit
The varied voices, sounds athrough the air.
Then too there comes into the mouth at times
The wet of a salt taste, when by the sea
We roam about; and so, whene'er we watch
The wormword being mixed, its bitter stings.
To such degree from all things is each thing
Borne streamingly along, and sent about
To every region round; and Nature grants
Nor rest nor respite of the onward flow,
Since 'tis incessantly we feeling have,
And all the time are suffered to descry
And smell all things at hand, and hear them sound.
Besides, since shape examined by our hands
Within the dark is known to be the same
As that by eyes perceived within the light
And lustrous day, both touch and sight must be
By one like cause aroused. So, if we test
A square and get its stimulus on us
Within the dark, within the light what square
Can fall upon our sight, except a square
That images the things? Wherefore it seems
The source of seeing is in images,
Nor without these can anything be viewed.
Now these same films I name are borne about
And tossed and scattered into regions all.
But since we do perceive alone through eyes,
It follows hence that whitherso we turn
Our sight, all things do strike against it there
With form and hue. And just how far from us
Each thing may be away, the image yields
To us the power to see and chance to tell:
For when 'tis sent, at once it shoves ahead
And drives along the air that's in the space
Betwixt it and our eyes. And thus this air
All glides athrough our eyeballs, and, as 'twere,
Brushes athrough our pupils and thuswise
Passes across. Therefore it comes we see
How far from us each thing may be away,
And the more air there be that's driven before,
And too the longer be the brushing breeze
Against our eyes, the farther off removed
Each thing is seen to be: forsooth, this work
With mightily swift order all goes on,
So that upon one instant we may see
What kind the object and how far away.
Nor over-marvellous must this be deemed
In these affairs that, though the films which strike
Upon the eyes cannot be singly seen,
The things themselves may be perceived. For thus
When the wind beats upon us stroke by stroke
And when the sharp cold streams, 'tis not our wont
To feel each private particle of wind
Or of that cold, but rather all at once;
And so we see how blows affect our body,
As if one thing were beating on the same
And giving us the feel of its own body
Outside of us. Again, whene'er we thump
With finger-tip upon a stone, we touch
But the rock's surface and the outer hue,
Nor feel that hue by contact- rather feel
The very hardness deep within the rock.
Now come, and why beyond a looking-glass
An image may be seen, perceive. For seen
It soothly is, removed far within.
'Tis the same sort as objects peered upon
Outside in their true shape, whene'er a door
Yields through itself an open peering-place,
And lets us see so many things outside
Beyond the house. Also that sight is made
By a twofold twin air: for first is seen
The air inside the door-posts; next the doors,
The twain to left and right; and afterwards
A light beyond comes brushing through our eyes,
Then other air, then objects peered upon
Outside in their true shape. And thus, when first
The image of the glass projects itself,
As to our gaze it comes, it shoves ahead
And drives along the air that's in the space
Betwixt it and our eyes, and brings to pass
That we perceive the air ere yet the glass.
But when we've also seen the glass itself,
Forthwith that image which from us is borne
Reaches the glass, and there thrown back again
Comes back unto our eyes, and driving rolls
Ahead of itself another air, that then
'Tis this we see before itself, and thus
It looks so far removed behind the glass.
Wherefore again, again, there's naught for wonder
In those which render from the mirror's plane
A vision back, since each thing comes to pass
By means of the two airs. Now, in the glass
The right part of our members is observed
Upon the left, because, when comes the image
Hitting against the level of the glass,
'Tis not returned unshifted; but forced off
Backwards in line direct and not oblique,-
Exactly as whoso his plaster-mask
Should dash, before 'twere dry, on post or beam,
And it should straightway keep, at clinging there,
Its shape, reversed, facing him who threw,
And so remould the features it gives back:
It comes that now the right eye is the left,
The left the right. An image too may be
From mirror into mirror handed on,
Until of idol-films even five or six
Have thus been gendered. For whatever things
Shall hide back yonder in the house, the same,
However far removed in twisting ways,
May still be all brought forth through bending paths
And by these several mirrors seen to be
Within the house, since Nature so compels
All things to be borne backward and spring off
At equal angles from all other things.
To such degree the image gleams across
From mirror unto mirror; where 'twas left
It comes to be the right, and then again
Returns and changes round unto the left.
Again, those little sides of mirrors curved
Proportionate to the bulge of our own flank
Send back to us their idols with the right
Upon the right; and this is so because
Either the image is passed on along
From mirror unto mirror, and thereafter,
When twice dashed off, flies back unto ourselves;
Or else the image wheels itself around,
When once unto the mirror it has come,
Since the curved surface teaches it to turn
To usward. Further, thou might'st well believe
That these film-idols step along with us
And set their feet in unison with ours
And imitate our carriage, since from that
Part of a mirror whence thou hast withdrawn
Straightway no images can be returned.
Further, our eye-balls tend to flee the bright
And shun to gaze thereon; the sun even blinds,
If thou goest on to strain them unto him,
Because his strength is mighty, and the films
Heavily downward from on high are borne
Through the pure ether and the viewless winds,
And strike the eyes, disordering their joints.
So piecing lustre often burns the eyes,
Because it holdeth many seeds of fire
Which, working into eyes, engender pain.
Again, whatever jaundiced people view
Becomes wan-yellow, since from out their bodies
Flow many seeds wan-yellow forth to meet
The films of things, and many too are mixed
Within their eye, which by contagion paint
All things with sallowness. Again, we view
From dark recesses things that stand in light,
Because, when first has entered and possessed
The open eyes this nearer darkling air,
Swiftly the shining air and luminous
Followeth in, which purges then the eyes
And scatters asunder of that other air
The sable shadows, for in large degrees
This air is nimbler, nicer, and more strong.
And soon as ever 'thas filled and oped with light
The pathways of the eyeballs, which before
Black air had blocked, there follow straightaway
Those films of things out-standing in the light,
Provoking vision- what we cannot do
From out the light with objects in the dark,
Because that denser darkling air behind
Followeth in, and fills each aperture
And thus blockades the pathways of the eyes
That there no images of any things
Can be thrown in and agitate the eyes.
And when from far away we do behold
The squared towers of a city, oft
Rounded they seem,- on this account because
Each distant angle is perceived obtuse,
Or rather it is not perceived at all;
And perishes its blow nor to our gaze
Arrives its stroke, since through such length of air
Are borne along the idols that the air
Makes blunt the idol of the angle's point
By numerous collidings. When thuswise
The angles of the tower each and all
Have quite escaped the sense, the stones appear
As rubbed and rounded on a turner's wheel-
Yet not like objects near and truly round,
But with a semblance to them, shadowily.
Likewise, our shadow in the sun appears
To move along and follow our own steps
And imitate our carriage- if thou thinkest
Air that is thus bereft of light can walk,
Following the gait and motion of mankind.
For what we use to name a shadow, sure
Is naught but air deprived of light. No marvel:
Because the earth from spot to spot is reft
Progressively of light of sun, whenever
In moving round we get within its way,
While any spot of earth by us abandoned
Is filled with light again, on this account
It comes to pass that what was body's shadow
Seems still the same to follow after us
In one straight course. Since, evermore pour in
New lights of rays, and perish then the old,
Just like the wool that's drawn into the flame.
Therefore the earth is easily spoiled of light
And easily refilled and from herself
Washeth the black shadows quite away.
And yet in this we don't at all concede
That eyes be cheated. For their task it is
To note in whatsoever place be light,
In what be shadow: whether or no the gleams
Be still the same, and whether the shadow which
Just now was here is that one passing thither,
Or whether the facts be what we said above,
'Tis after all the reasoning of mind
That must decide; nor can our eyeballs know
The nature of reality. And so
Attach thou not this fault of mind to eyes,
Nor lightly think our senses everywhere
Are tottering. The ship in which we sail
Is borne along, although it seems to stand;
The ship that bides in roadstead is supposed
There to be passing by. And hills and fields
Seem fleeing fast astern, past which we urge
The ship and fly under the bellying sails.
The stars, each one, do seem to pause, affixed
To the ethereal caverns, though they all
Forever are in motion, rising out
And thence revisiting their far descents
When they have measured with their bodies bright
The span of heaven. And likewise sun and moon
Seem biding in a roadstead,- objects which,
As plain fact proves, are really borne along.
Between two mountains far away aloft
From midst the whirl of waters open lies
A gaping exit for the fleet, and yet
They seem conjoined in a single isle.
When boys themselves have stopped their spinning round,
The halls still seem to whirl and posts to reel,
Until they now must almost think the roofs
Threaten to ruin down upon their heads.
And now, when Nature begins to lift on high
The sun's red splendour and the tremulous fires,
And raise him o'er the mountain-tops, those mountains-
O'er which he seemeth then to thee to be,
His glowing self hard by atingeing them
With his own fire- are yet away from us
Scarcely two thousand arrow-shots, indeed
Oft scarce five hundred courses of a dart;
Although between those mountains and the sun
Lie the huge plains of ocean spread beneath
The vasty shores of ether, and intervene
A thousand lands, possessed by many a folk
And generations of wild beasts. Again,
A pool of water of but a finger's depth,
Which lies between the stones along the pave,
Offers a vision downward into earth
As far, as from the earth o'erspread on high
The gulfs of heaven; that thus thou seemest to view
Clouds down below and heavenly bodies plunged
Wondrously in heaven under earth.
Then too, when in the middle of the stream
Sticks fast our dashing horse, and down we gaze
Into the river's rapid waves, some force
Seems then to bear the body of the horse,
Though standing still, reversely from his course,
And swiftly push up-stream. And wheresoe'er
We cast our eyes across, all objects seem
Thus to be onward borne and flow along
In the same way as we. A portico,
Albeit it stands well propped from end to end
On equal columns, parallel and big,
Contracts by stages in a narrow cone,
When from one end the long, long whole is seen,-
Until, conjoining ceiling with the floor,
And the whole right side with the left, it draws
Together to a cone's nigh-viewless point.
To sailors on the main the sun he seems
From out the waves to rise, and in the waves
To set and bury his light- because indeed
They gaze on naught but water and the sky.
Again, to gazers ignorant of the sea,
Vessels in port seem, as with broken poops,
To lean upon the water, quite agog;
For any portion of the oars that's raised
Above the briny spray is straight, and straight
The rudders from above. But other parts,
Those sunk, immersed below the water-line,
Seem broken all and bended and inclined
Sloping to upwards, and turned back to float
Almost atop the water. And when the winds
Carry the scattered drifts along the sky
In the night-time, then seem to glide along
The radiant constellations 'gainst the clouds
And there on high to take far other course
From that whereon in truth they're borne. And then,
If haply our hand be set beneath one eye
And press below thereon, then to our gaze
Each object which we gaze on seems to be,
By some sensation twain- then twain the lights
Of lampions burgeoning in flowers of flame,
And twain the furniture in all the house,
Two-fold the visages of fellow-men,
And twain their bodies. And again, when sleep
Has bound our members down in slumber soft
And all the body lies in deep repose,
Yet then we seem to self to be awake
And move our members; and in night's blind gloom
We think to mark the daylight and the sun;
And, shut within a room, yet still we seem
To change our skies, our oceans, rivers, hills,
To cross the plains afoot, and hear new sounds,
Though still the austere silence of the night
Abides around us, and to speak replies,
Though voiceless. Other cases of the sort
Wondrously many do we see, which all
Seek, so to say, to injure faith in sense-
In vain, because the largest part of these
Deceives through mere opinions of the mind,
Which we do add ourselves, feigning to see
What by the senses are not seen at all.
For naught is harder than to separate
Plain facts from dubious, which the mind forthwith
Adds by itself.
Again, if one suppose
That naught is known, he knows not whether this
Itself is able to be known, since he
Confesses naught to know. Therefore with him
I waive discussion- who has set his head
Even where his feet should be. But let me grant
That this he knows,- I question: whence he knows
What 'tis to know and not-to-know in turn,
And what created concept of the truth,
And what device has proved the dubious
To differ from the certain?- since in things
He's heretofore seen naught of true. Thou'lt find
That from the senses first hath been create
Concept of truth, nor can the senses be
Rebutted. For criterion must be found
Worthy of greater trust, which shall defeat
Through own authority the false by true;
What, then, than these our senses must there be
Worthy a greater trust? Shall reason, sprung
From some false sense, prevail to contradict
Those senses, sprung as reason wholly is
From out of the senses?- For lest these be true,
All reason also then is falsified.
Or shall the ears have power to blame the eyes,
Or yet the touch the ears? Again, shall taste
Accuse this touch or shall the nose confute
Or eyes defeat it? Methinks not so it is:
For unto each has been divided of
Its function quite apart, its power to each;
And thus we're still constrained to perceive
The soft, the cold, the hot apart, apart
All divers hues and whatso things there be
Conjoined with hues. Likewise the tasting tongue
Has its own power apart, and smells apart
And sounds apart are known. And thus it is
That no one sense can e'er convict another.
Nor shall one sense have power to blame itself,
Because it always must be deemed the same,
Worthy of equal trust. And therefore what
At any time unto these senses showed,
The same is true. And if the reason be
Unable to unravel us the cause
Why objects, which at hand were square, afar
Seemed rounded, yet it more availeth us,
Lacking the reason, to pretend a cause
For each configuration, than to let
From out our hands escape the obvious things
And injure primal faith in sense, and wreck
All those foundations upon which do rest
Our life and safety. For not only reason
Would topple down; but even our very life
Would straightaway collapse, unless we dared
To trust our senses and to keep away
From headlong heights and places to be shunned
Of a like peril, and to seek with speed
Their opposites! Again, as in a building,
If the first plumb-line be askew, and if
The square deceiving swerve from lines exact,
And if the level waver but the least
In any part, the whole construction then
Must turn out faulty- shelving and askew,
Leaning to back and front, incongruous,
That now some portions seem about to fall,
And falls the whole ere long- betrayed indeed
By first deceiving estimates: so too
Thy calculations in affairs of life
Must be askew and false, if sprung for thee
From senses false. So all that troop of words
Marshalled against the senses is quite vain.
And now remains to demonstrate with ease
How other senses each their things perceive.
Firstly, a sound and every voice is heard,
When, getting into ears, they strike the sense
With their own body. For confess we must
Even voice and sound to be corporeal,
Because they're able on the sense to strike.
Besides voice often scrapes against the throat,
And screams in going out do make more rough
The wind-pipe- naturally enough, methinks,
When, through the narrow exit rising up
In larger throng, these primal germs of voice
Have thus begun to issue forth. In sooth,
Also the door of the mouth is scraped against
By air blown outward from distended cheeks.
And thus no doubt there is, that voice and words
Consist of elements corporeal,
With power to pain. Nor art thou unaware
Likewise how much of body's ta'en away,
How much from very thews and powers of men
May be withdrawn by steady talk, prolonged
Even from the rising splendour of the morn
To shadows of black evening,- above all
If 't be outpoured with most exceeding shouts.
Therefore the voice must be corporeal,
Since the long talker loses from his frame
Moreover, roughness in the sound
Comes from the roughness in the primal germs,
As a smooth sound from smooth ones is create;
Nor have these elements a form the same
When the trump rumbles with a hollow roar,
As when barbaric Berecynthian pipe
Buzzes with raucous boomings, or when swans
By night from icy shores of Helicon
With wailing voices raise their liquid dirge.
Thus, when from deep within our frame we force
These voices, and at mouth expel them forth,
The mobile tongue, artificer of words,
Makes them articulate, and too the lips
By their formations share in shaping them.
Hence when the space is short from starting-point
To where that voice arrives, the very words
Must too be plainly heard, distinctly marked.
For then the voice conserves its own formation,
Conserves its shape. But if the space between
Be longer than is fit, the words must be
Through the much air confounded, and the voice
Disordered in its flight across the winds-
And so it haps, that thou canst sound perceive,
Yet not determine what the words may mean;
To such degree confounded and encumbered
The voice approaches us. Again, one word,
Sent from the crier's mouth, may rouse all ears
Among the populace. And thus one voice
Scatters asunder into many voices,
Since it divides itself for separate ears,
Imprinting form of word and a clear tone.
But whatso part of voices fails to hit
The ears themselves perishes, borne beyond,
Idly diffused among the winds. A part,
Beating on solid porticoes, tossed back
Returns a sound; and sometimes mocks the ear
With a mere phantom of a word. When this
Thou well hast noted, thou canst render count
Unto thyself and others why it is
Along the lonely places that the rocks
Give back like shapes of words in order like,
When search we after comrades wandering
Among the shady mountains, and aloud
Call unto them, the scattered. I have seen
Spots that gave back even voices six or seven
For one thrown forth- for so the very hills,
Dashing them back against the hills, kept on
With their reverberations. And these spots
The neighbouring country-side doth feign to be
Haunts of the goat-foot satyrs and the nymphs;
And tells ye there be fauns, by whose night noise
And antic revels yonder they declare
The voiceless silences are broken oft,
And tones of strings are made and wailings sweet
Which the pipe, beat by players' finger-tips,
Pours out; and far and wide the farmer-race
Begins to hear, when, shaking the garmentings
Of pine upon his half-beast head, god-Pan
With puckered lip oft runneth o'er and o'er
The open reeds,- lest flute should cease to pour
The woodland music! Other prodigies
And wonders of this ilk they love to tell,
Lest they be thought to dwell in lonely spots
And even by gods deserted. This is why
They boast of marvels in their story-tellings;
Or by some other reason are led on-
Greedy, as all mankind hath ever been,
To prattle fables into ears.
One need not wonder how it comes about
That through those places (through which eyes cannot
View objects manifest) sounds yet may pass
And assail the ears. For often we observe
People conversing, though the doors be closed;
No marvel either, since all voice unharmed
Can wind through bended apertures of things,
While idol-films decline to- for they're rent,
Unless along straight apertures they swim,
Like those in glass, through which all images
Do fly across. And yet this voice itself,
In passing through shut chambers of a house,
Is dulled, and in a jumble enters ears,
And sound we seem to hear far more than words.
Moreover, a voice is into all directions
Divided up, since off from one another
New voices are engendered, when one voice
Hath once leapt forth, outstarting into many-
As oft a spark of fire is wont to sprinkle
Itself into its several fires. And so,
Voices do fill those places hid behind,
Which all are in a hubbub round about,
Astir with sound. But idol-films do tend,
As once set forth, in straight directions all;
Wherefore one can inside a wall see naught,
Yet catch the voices from beyond the same.
Nor tongue and palate, whereby we flavour feel,
Present more problems for more work of thought.
Firstly, we feel a flavour in the mouth,
When forth we squeeze it, in chewing up our food,-
As any one perchance begins to squeeze
With hand and dry a sponge with water soaked.
Next, all which forth we squeeze is spread about
Along the pores and intertwined paths
Of the loose-textured tongue. And so, when smooth
The bodies of the oozy flavour, then
Delightfully they touch, delightfully
They treat all spots, around the wet and trickling
Enclosures of the tongue. And contrariwise,
They sting and pain the sense with their assault,
According as with roughness they're supplied.
Next, only up to palate is the pleasure
Coming from flavour; for in truth when down
'Thas plunged along the throat, no pleasure is,
Whilst into all the frame it spreads around;
Nor aught it matters with what food is fed
The body, if only what thou take thou canst
Distribute well digested to the frame
And keep the stomach in a moist career.
Now, how it is we see some food for some,
Others for others....
I will unfold, or wherefore what to some
Is foul and bitter, yet the same to others
Can seem delectable to eat,- why here
So great the distance and the difference is
That what is food to one to some becomes
Fierce poison, as a certain snake there is
Which, touched by spittle of a man, will waste
And end itself by gnawing up its coil.
Again, fierce poison is the hellebore
To us, but puts the fat on goats and quails.
That thou mayst know by what devices this
Is brought about, in chief thou must recall
What we have said before, that seeds are kept
Commixed in things in divers modes. Again,
As all the breathing creatures which take food
Are outwardly unlike, and outer cut
And contour of their members bounds them round,
Each differing kind by kind, they thus consist
Of seeds of varying shape. And furthermore,
Since seeds do differ, divers too must be
The interstices and paths (which we do call
The apertures) in all the members, even
In mouth and palate too. Thus some must be
More small or yet more large, three-cornered some
And others squared, and many others round,
And certain of them many-angled too
In many modes. For, as the combination
And motion of their divers shapes demand,
The shapes of apertures must be diverse
And paths must vary according to their walls
That bound them. Hence when what is sweet to some,
Becomes to others bitter, for him to whom
'Tis sweet, the smoothest particles must needs
Have entered caressingly the palate's pores.
And, contrariwise, with those to whom that sweet
Is sour within the mouth, beyond a doubt
The rough and barbed particles have got
Into the narrows of the apertures.
Now easy it is from these affairs to know
Indeed, where one from o'er-abundant bile
Is stricken with fever, or in other wise
Feels the roused violence of some malady,
There the whole frame is now upset, and there
All the positions of the seeds are changed,-
So that the bodies which before were fit
To cause the savour, now are fit no more,
And now more apt are others which be able
To get within the pores and gender sour.
Both sorts, in sooth, are intermixed in honey-
What oft we've proved above to thee before.
Now come, and I will indicate what wise
Impact of odour on the nostrils touches.
And first, 'tis needful there be many things
From whence the streaming flow of varied odours
May roll along, and we're constrained to think
They stream and dart and sprinkle themselves about
Impartially. But for some breathing creatures
One odour is more apt, to others another-
Because of differing forms of seeds and pores.
Thus on and on along the zephyrs bees
Are led by odour of honey, vultures too
By carcasses. Again, the forward power
Of scent in dogs doth lead the hunter on
Whithersoever the splay-foot of wild beast
Hath hastened its career; and the white goose,
The saviour of the Roman citadel,
Forescents afar the odour of mankind.
Thus, diversely to divers ones is given
Peculiar smell that leadeth each along
To his own food or makes him start aback
From loathsome poison, and in this wise are
The generations of the wild preserved.
Yet is this pungence not alone in odours
Or in the class of flavours; but, likewise,
The look of things and hues agree not all
So well with senses unto all, but that
Some unto some will be, to gaze upon,
More keen and painful. Lo, the raving lions,
They dare not face and gaze upon the cock
Who's wont with wings to flap away the night
From off the stage, and call the beaming morn
With clarion voice- and lions straightway thus
Bethink themselves of flight, because, ye see,
Within the body of the cocks there be
Some certain seeds, which, into lions' eyes
Injected, bore into the pupils deep
And yield such piercing pain they can't hold out
Against the cocks, however fierce they be-
Whilst yet these seeds can't hurt our gaze the least,
Either because they do not penetrate,
Or since they have free exit from the eyes
As soon as penetrating, so that thus
They cannot hurt our eyes in any part
By there remaining.
To speak once more of odour;
Whatever assail the nostrils, some can travel
A longer way than others. None of them,
However, 's borne so far as sound or voice-
While I omit all mention of such things
As hit the eyesight and assail the vision.
For slowly on a wandering course it comes
And perishes sooner, by degrees absorbed
Easily into all the winds of air;
And first, because from deep inside the thing
It is discharged with labour (for the fact
That every object, when 'tis shivered, ground,
Or crumbled by the fire, will smell the stronger
Is sign that odours flow and part away
From inner regions of the things). And next,
Thou mayest see that odour is create
Of larger primal germs than voice, because
It enters not through stony walls, wherethrough
Unfailingly the voice and sound are borne;
Wherefore, besides, thou wilt observe 'tis not
So easy to trace out in whatso place
The smelling object is. For, dallying on
Along the winds, the particles cool off,
And then the scurrying messengers of things
Arrive our senses, when no longer hot.
So dogs oft wander astray, and hunt the scent.
Now mark, and hear what objects move the mind,
And learn, in few, whence unto intellect
Do come what come. And first I tell thee this:
That many images of objects rove
In many modes to every region round-
So thin that easily the one with other,
When once they meet, uniteth in mid-air,
Like gossamer or gold-leaf. For, indeed,
Far thinner are they in their fabric than
Those images which take a hold on eyes
And smite the vision, since through body's pores
They penetrate, and inwardly stir up
The subtle nature of mind and smite the sense.
Thus, Centaurs and the limbs of Scyllas, thus
The Cerberus-visages of dogs we see,
And images of people gone before-
Dead men whose bones earth bosomed long ago;
Because the images of every kind
Are everywhere about us borne- in part
Those which are gendered in the very air
Of own accord, in part those others which
From divers things do part away, and those
Which are compounded, made from out their shapes.
For soothly from no living Centaur is
That phantom gendered, since no breed of beast
Like him was ever; but, when images
Of horse and man by chance have come together,
They easily cohere, as aforesaid,
At once, through subtle nature and fabric thin.
In the same fashion others of this ilk
Created are. And when they're quickly borne
In their exceeding lightness, easily
(As earlier I showed) one subtle image,
Compounded, moves by its one blow the mind,
Itself so subtle and so strangely quick.
That these things come to pass as I record,
From this thou easily canst understand:
So far as one is unto other like,
Seeing with mind as well as with the eyes
Must come to pass in fashion not unlike.
Well, now, since I have shown that I perceive
Haply a lion through those idol-films
Such as assail my eyes, 'tis thine to know
Also the mind is in like manner moved,
And sees, nor more nor less than eyes do see
(Except that it perceives more subtle films)
The lion and aught else through idol-films.
And when the sleep has overset our frame,
The mind's intelligence is now awake,
Still for no other reason, save that these-
The self-same films as when we are awake-
Assail our minds, to such degree indeed
That we do seem to see for sure the man
Whom, void of life, now death and earth have gained
Dominion over. And Nature forces this
To come to pass because the body's senses
Are resting, thwarted through the members all,
Unable now to conquer false with true;
And memory lies prone and languishes
In slumber, nor protests that he, the man
Whom the mind feigns to see alive, long since
Hath been the gain of death and dissolution.
And further, 'tis no marvel idols move
And toss their arms and other members round
In rhythmic time- and often in men's sleeps
It haps an image this is seen to do;
In sooth, when perishes the former image,
And other is gendered of another pose,
That former seemeth to have changed its gestures.
Of course the change must be conceived as speedy;
So great the swiftness and so great the store
Of idol-things, and (in an instant brief
As mind can mark) so great, again, the store
Of separate idol-parts to bring supplies.
It happens also that there is supplied
Sometimes an image not of kind the same;
But what before was woman, now at hand
Is seen to stand there, altered into male;
Or other visage, other age succeeds;
But slumber and oblivion take care
That we shall feel no wonder at the thing.
And much in these affairs demands inquiry,
And much, illumination- if we crave
With plainness to exhibit facts. And first,
Why doth the mind of one to whom the whim
To think has come behold forthwith that thing?
Or do the idols watch upon our will,
And doth an image unto us occur,
Directly we desire- if heart prefer
The sea, the land, or after all the sky?
Assemblies of the citizens, parades,
Banquets, and battles, these and all doth she,
Nature, create and furnish at our word?
Maugre the fact that in same place and spot
Another's mind is meditating things
All far unlike. And what, again, of this:
When we in sleep behold the idols step,
In measure, forward, moving supple limbs,
Whilst forth they put each supple arm in turn
With speedy motion, and with eyeing heads
Repeat the movement, as the foot keeps time?
Forsooth, the idols they are steeped in art,
And wander to and fro well taught indeed,-
Thus to be able in the time of night
To make such games! Or will the truth be this:
Because in one least moment that we mark-
That is, the uttering of a single sound-
There lurk yet many moments, which the reason
Discovers to exist, therefore it comes
That, in a moment how so brief ye will,
The divers idols are hard by, and ready
Each in its place diverse? So great the swiftness,
So great, again, the store of idol-things,
And so, when perishes the former image,
And other is gendered of another pose,
The former seemeth to have changed its gestures.
And since they be so tenuous, mind can mark
Sharply alone the ones it strains to see;
And thus the rest do perish one and all,
Save those for which the mind prepares itself.
Further, it doth prepare itself indeed,
And hopes to see what follows after each-
Hence this result. For hast thou not observed
How eyes, essaying to perceive the fine,
Will strain in preparation, otherwise
Unable sharply to perceive at all?
Yet know thou canst that, even in objects plain,
If thou attendest not, 'tis just the same
As if 'twere all the time removed and far.
What marvel, then, that mind doth lose the rest,
Save those to which 'thas given up itself?
So 'tis that we conjecture from small signs
Things wide and weighty, and involve ourselves
In snarls of self-deceit.
The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale -- Unfinished
In midmost Ind, beside Hydaspes cool,
There stood, or hover'd, tremulous in the air,
A faery city 'neath the potent rule
Of Emperor Elfinan; fam'd ev'rywhere
For love of mortal women, maidens fair,
Whose lips were solid, whose soft hands were made
Of a fit mould and beauty, ripe and rare,
To tamper his slight wooing, warm yet staid:
He lov'd girls smooth as shades, but hated a mere shade.
This was a crime forbidden by the law;
And all the priesthood of his city wept,
For ruin and dismay they well foresaw,
If impious prince no bound or limit kept,
And faery Zendervester overstept;
They wept, he sin'd, and still he would sin on,
They dreamt of sin, and he sin'd while they slept;
In vain the pulpit thunder'd at the throne,
Caricature was vain, and vain the tart lampoon.
Which seeing, his high court of parliament
Laid a remonstrance at his Highness' feet,
Praying his royal senses to content
Themselves with what in faery land was sweet,
Befitting best that shade with shade should meet:
Whereat, to calm their fears, he promis'd soon
From mortal tempters all to make retreat,--
Aye, even on the first of the new moon,
An immaterial wife to espouse as heaven's boon.
Meantime he sent a fluttering embassy
To Pigmio, of Imaus sovereign,
To half beg, and half demand, respectfully,
The hand of his fair daughter Bellanaine;
An audience had, and speeching done, they gain
Their point, and bring the weeping bride away;
Whom, with but one attendant, safely lain
Upon their wings, they bore in bright array,
While little harps were touch'd by many a lyric fay.
As in old pictures tender cherubim
A child's soul thro' the sapphir'd canvas bear,
So, thro' a real heaven, on they swim
With the sweet princess on her plumag'd lair,
Speed giving to the winds her lustrous hair;
And so she journey'd, sleeping or awake,
Save when, for healthful exercise and air,
She chose to 'promener à l'aile,' or take
A pigeon's somerset, for sport or change's sake.
'Dear Princess, do not whisper me so loud,'
Quoth Corallina, nurse and confidant,
'Do not you see there, lurking in a cloud,
Close at your back, that sly old Crafticant?
He hears a whisper plainer than a rant:
Dry up your tears, and do not look so blue;
He's Elfinan's great state-spy militant,
His running, lying, flying foot-man too,--
Dear mistress, let him have no handle against you!
'Show him a mouse's tail, and he will guess,
With metaphysic swiftness, at the mouse;
Show him a garden, and with speed no less,
He'll surmise sagely of a dwelling house,
And plot, in the same minute, how to chouse
The owner out of it; show him a' --- 'Peace!
Peace! nor contrive thy mistress' ire to rouse!'
Return'd the Princess, 'my tongue shall not cease
Till from this hated match I get a free release.
'Ah, beauteous mortal!' 'Hush!' quoth Coralline,
'Really you must not talk of him, indeed.'
'You hush!' reply'd the mistress, with a shinee
Of anger in her eyes, enough to breed
In stouter hearts than nurse's fear and dread:
'Twas not the glance itself made nursey flinch,
But of its threat she took the utmost heed;
Not liking in her heart an hour-long pinch,
Or a sharp needle run into her back an inch.
So she was silenc'd, and fair Bellanaine,
Writhing her little body with ennui,
Continued to lament and to complain,
That Fate, cross-purposing, should let her be
Ravish'd away far from her dear countree;
That all her feelings should be set at nought,
In trumping up this match so hastily,
With lowland blood; and lowland blood she thought
Poison, as every staunch true-born Imaian ought.
Sorely she griev'd, and wetted three or four
White Provence rose-leaves with her faery tears,
But not for this cause; -- alas! she had more
Bad reasons for her sorrow, as appears
In the fam'd memoirs of a thousand years,
Written by Crafticant, and published
By Parpaglion and Co., (those sly compeers
Who rak'd up ev'ry fact against the dead,)
In Scarab Street, Panthea, at the Jubal's Head.
Where, after a long hypercritic howl
Against the vicious manners of the age,
He goes on to expose, with heart and soul,
What vice in this or that year was the rage,
Backbiting all the world in every page;
With special strictures on the horrid crime,
(Section'd and subsection'd with learning sage,)
Of faeries stooping on their wings sublime
To kiss a mortal's lips, when such were in their prime.
Turn to the copious index, you will find
Somewhere in the column, headed letter B,
The name of Bellanaine, if you're not blind;
Then pray refer to the text, and you will see
An article made up of calumny
Against this highland princess, rating her
For giving way, so over fashionably,
To this new-fangled vice, which seems a burr
Stuck in his moral throat, no coughing e'er could stir.
There he says plainly that she lov'd a man!
That she around him flutter'd, flirted, toy'd,
Before her marriage with great Elfinan;
That after marriage too, she never joy'd
In husband's company, but still employ'd
Her wits to 'scape away to Angle-land;
Where liv'd the youth, who worried and annoy'd
Her tender heart, and its warm ardours fann'd
To such a dreadful blaze, her side would scorch her hand.
But let us leave this idle tittle-tattle
To waiting-maids, and bed-room coteries,
Nor till fit time against her fame wage battle.
Poor Elfinan is very ill at ease,
Let us resume his subject if you please:
For it may comfort and console him much,
To rhyme and syllable his miseries;
Poor Elfinan! whose cruel fate was such,
He sat and curs'd a bride he knew he could not touch.
Soon as (according to his promises)
The bridal embassy had taken wing,
And vanish'd, bird-like, o'er the suburb trees,
The Emperor, empierc'd with the sharp sting
Of love, retired, vex'd and murmuring
Like any drone shut from the fair bee-queen,
Into his cabinet, and there did fling
His limbs upon a sofa, full of spleen,
And damn'd his House of Commons, in complete chagrin.
'I'll trounce some of the members,' cry'd the Prince,
'I'll put a mark against some rebel names,
I'll make the Opposition-benches wince,
I'll show them very soon, to all their shames,
What 'tis to smother up a Prince's flames;
That ministers should join in it, I own,
Surprises me! -- they too at these high games!
Am I an Emperor? Do I wear a crown?
Imperial Elfinan, go hang thyself or drown!
'I'll trounce 'em! -- there's the square-cut chancellor,
His son shall never touch that bishopric;
And for the nephew of old Palfior,
I'll show him that his speeches made me sick,
And give the colonelcy to Phalaric;
The tiptoe marquis, mortal and gallant,
Shall lodge in shabby taverns upon tick;
And for the Speaker's second cousin's aunt,
She sha'n't be maid of honour,-- by heaven that she sha'n't!
'I'll shirk the Duke of A.; I'll cut his brother;
I'll give no garter to his eldest son;
I won't speak to his sister or his mother!
The Viscount B. shall live at cut-and-run;
But how in the world can I contrive to stun
That fellow's voice, which plagues me worse than any,
That stubborn fool, that impudent state-dun,
Who sets down ev'ry sovereign as a zany,--
That vulgar commoner, Esquire Biancopany?
'Monstrous affair! Pshaw! pah! what ugly minx
Will they fetch from Imaus for my bride?
Alas! my wearied heart within me sinks,
To think that I must be so near ally'd
To a cold dullard fay,--ah, woe betide!
Ah, fairest of all human loveliness!
Sweet Bertha! what crime can it be to glide
About the fragrant plaintings of thy dress,
Or kiss thine eyes, or count thy locks, tress after tress?'
So said, one minute's while his eyes remaind'
Half lidded, piteous, languid, innocent;
But, in a wink, their splendour they regain'd,
Sparkling revenge with amorous fury blent.
Love thwarted in bad temper oft has vent:
He rose, he stampt his foot, he rang the bell,
And order'd some death-warrants to be sent
For signature: -- somewhere the tempest fell,
As many a poor fellow does not live to tell.
'At the same time, Eban,' -- (this was his page,
A fay of colour, slave from top to toe,
Sent as a present, while yet under age,
From the Viceroy of Zanguebar, -- wise, slow,
His speech, his only words were 'yes' and 'no,'
But swift of look, and foot, and wing was he,--)
'At the same time, Eban, this instant go
To Hum the soothsayer, whose name I see
Among the fresh arrivals in our empery.
'Bring Hum to me! But stay -- here, take my ring,
The pledge of favour, that he not suspect
Any foul play, or awkward murdering,
Tho' I have bowstrung many of his sect;
Throw in a hint, that if he should neglect
One hour, the next shall see him in my grasp,
And the next after that shall see him neck'd,
Or swallow'd by my hunger-starved asp,--
And mention ('tis as well) the torture of the wasp.'
These orders given, the Prince, in half a pet,
Let o'er the silk his propping elbow slide,
Caught up his little legs, and, in a fret,
Fell on the sofa on his royal side.
The slave retreated backwards, humble-ey'd,
And with a slave-like silence clos'd the door,
And to old Hun thro' street and alley hied;
He 'knew the city,' as we say, of yore,
And for short cuts and turns, was nobody knew more.
It was the time when wholesale dealers close
Their shutters with a moody sense of wealth,
But retail dealers, diligent, let loose
The gas (objected to on score of health),
Convey'd in little solder'd pipes by stealth,
And make it flare in many a brilliant form,
That all the powers of darkness it repell'th,
Which to the oil-trade doth great scaith and harm,
And superseded quite the use of the glow-worm.
Eban, untempted by the pastry-cooks,
(Of pastry he got store within the palace,)
With hasty steps, wrapp'd cloak, and solemn looks,
Incognito upon his errand sallies,
His smelling-bottle ready for the allies;
He pass'd the Hurdy-gurdies with disdain,
Vowing he'd have them sent on board the gallies;
Just as he made his vow; it 'gan to rain,
Therefore he call'd a coach, and bade it drive amain.
'I'll pull the string,' said he, and further said,
'Polluted Jarvey! Ah, thou filthy hack!
Whose springs of life are all dry'd up and dead,
Whose linsey-woolsey lining hangs all slack,
Whose rug is straw, whose wholeness is a crack;
And evermore thy steps go clatter-clitter;
Whose glass once up can never be got back,
Who prov'st, with jolting arguments and bitter,
That 'tis of modern use to travel in a litter.
'Thou inconvenience! thou hungry crop
For all corn! thou snail-creeper to and fro,
Who while thou goest ever seem'st to stop,
And fiddle-faddle standest while you go;
I' the morning, freighted with a weight of woe,
Unto some lazar-house thou journeyest,
And in the evening tak'st a double row
Of dowdies, for some dance or party drest,
Besides the goods meanwhile thou movest east and west.
'By thy ungallant bearing and sad mien,
An inch appears the utmost thou couldst budge;
Yet at the slightest nod, or hint, or sign,
Round to the curb-stone patient dost thou trudge,
School'd in a beckon, learned in a nudge,
A dull-ey'd Argus watching for a fare;
Quiet and plodding, thou dost bear no grudge
To whisking Tilburies, or Phaetons rare,
Curricles, or Mail-coaches, swift beyond compare.'
Philosophizing thus, he pull'd the check,
And bade the Coachman wheel to such a street,
Who, turning much his body, more his neck,
Louted full low, and hoarsely did him greet:
'Certes, Monsieur were best take to his feet,
Seeing his servant can no further drive
For press of coaches, that to-night here meet,
Many as bees about a straw-capp'd hive,
When first for April honey into faint flowers they dive.'
Eban then paid his fare, and tiptoe went
To Hum's hotel; and, as he on did pass
With head inclin'd, each dusky lineament
Show'd in the pearl-pav'd street, as in a glass;
His purple vest, that ever peeping was
Rich from the fluttering crimson of his cloak,
His silvery trowsers, and his silken sash
Tied in a burnish'd knot, their semblance took
Upon the mirror'd walls, wherever he might look.
He smil'd at self, and, smiling, show'd his teeth,
And seeing his white teeth, he smil'd the more;
Lifted his eye-brows, spurn'd the path beneath,
Show'd teeth again, and smil'd as heretofore,
Until he knock'd at the magician's door;
Where, till the porter answer'd, might be seen,
In the clear panel more he could adore,--
His turban wreath'd of gold, and white, and green,
Mustachios, ear-ring, nose-ring, and his sabre keen.
'Does not your master give a rout to-night?'
Quoth the dark page. 'Oh, no!' return'd the Swiss,
'Next door but one to us, upon the right,
The Magazin des Modes now open is
Against the Emperor's wedding;--and, sir, this
My master finds a monstrous horrid bore;
As he retir'd, an hour ago I wis,
With his best beard and brimstone, to explore
And cast a quiet figure in his second floor.
'Gad! he's oblig'd to stick to business!
For chalk, I hear, stands at a pretty price;
And as for aqua vitae -- there's a mess!
The dentes sapientiae of mice,
Our barber tells me too, are on the rise,--
Tinder's a lighter article, -- nitre pure
Goes off like lightning, -- grains of Paradise
At an enormous figure! -- stars not sure! --
Zodiac will not move without a slight douceur!
'Venus won't stir a peg without a fee,
And master is too partial, entre nous,
To' -- 'Hush -- hush!' cried Eban, 'sure that is he
Coming down stairs, -- by St. Bartholomew!
As backwards as he can, -- is't something new?
Or is't his custom, in the name of fun?'
'He always comes down backward, with one shoe'--
Return'd the porter -- 'off, and one shoe on,
Like, saving shoe for sock or stocking, my man John!'
It was indeed the great Magician,
Feeling, with careful toe, for every stair,
And retrograding careful as he can,
Backwards and downwards from his own two pair:
'Salpietro!' exclaim'd Hum, 'is the dog there?
He's always in my way upon the mat!'
'He's in the kitchen, or the Lord knows where,'--
Reply'd the Swiss, -- 'the nasty, yelping brat!'
'Don't beat him!' return'd Hum, and on the floor came pat.
Then facing right about, he saw the Page,
And said: 'Don't tell me what you want, Eban;
The Emperor is now in a huge rage,--
'Tis nine to one he'll give you the rattan!
Let us away!' Away together ran
The plain-dress'd sage and spangled blackamoor,
Nor rested till they stood to cool, and fan,
And breathe themselves at th' Emperor's chamber door,
When Eban thought he heard a soft imperial snore.
'I thought you guess'd, foretold, or prophesy'd,
That's Majesty was in a raving fit?'
'He dreams,' said Hum, 'or I have ever lied,
That he is tearing you, sir, bit by bit.'
'He's not asleep, and you have little wit,'
Reply'd the page; 'that little buzzing noise,
Whate'er your palmistry may make of it,
Comes from a play-thing of the Emperor's choice,
From a Man-Tiger-Organ, prettiest of his toys.'
Eban then usher'd in the learned Seer:
Elfinan's back was turn'd, but, ne'ertheless,
Both, prostrate on the carpet, ear by ear,
Crept silently, and waited in distress,
Knowing the Emperor's moody bitterness;
Eban especially, who on the floor 'gan
Tremble and quake to death,-- he feared less
A dose of senna-tea or nightmare Gorgon
Than the Emperor when he play'd on his Man-Tiger-Organ.
They kiss'd nine times the carpet's velvet face
Of glossy silk, soft, smooth, and meadow-green,
Where the close eye in deep rich fur might trace
A silver tissue, scantly to be seen,
As daisies lurk'd in June-grass, buds in green;
Sudden the music ceased, sudden the hand
Of majesty, by dint of passion keen,
Doubled into a common fist, went grand,
And knock'd down three cut glasses, and his best ink-stand.
Then turning round, he saw those trembling two:
'Eban,' said he, 'as slaves should taste the fruits
Of diligence, I shall remember you
To-morrow, or next day, as time suits,
In a finger conversation with my mutes,--
Begone! -- for you, Chaldean! here remain!
Fear not, quake not, and as good wine recruits
A conjurer's spirits, what cup will you drain?
Sherry in silver, hock in gold, or glass'd champagne?'
'Commander of the faithful!' answer'd Hum,
'In preference to these, I'll merely taste
A thimble-full of old Jamaica rum.'
'A simple boon!' said Elfinan; 'thou may'st
Have Nantz, with which my morning-coffee's lac'd.'
'I'll have a glass of Nantz, then,' -- said the Seer,--
'Made racy -- (sure my boldness is misplac'd!)--
With the third part -- (yet that is drinking dear!)--
Of the least drop of crème de citron, crystal clear.'
'I pledge you, Hum! and pledge my dearest love,
My Bertha!' 'Bertha! Bertha!' cry'd the sage,
'I know a many Berthas!' 'Mine's above
All Berthas!' sighed the Emperor. 'I engage,'
Said Hum, 'in duty, and in vassalage,
To mention all the Berthas in the earth;--
There's Bertha Watson, -- and Miss Bertha Page,--
This fam'd for languid eyes, and that for mirth,--
There's Bertha Blount of York, -- and Bertha Knox of Perth.'
'You seem to know' -- 'I do know,' answer'd Hum,
'Your Majesty's in love with some fine girl
Named Bertha; but her surname will not come,
Without a little conjuring.' ''Tis Pearl,
'Tis Bertha Pearl! What makes my brain so whirl?
And she is softer, fairer than her name!'
'Where does she live?' ask'd Hum. 'Her fair locks curl
So brightly, they put all our fays to shame!--
Live? -- O! at Canterbury, with her old grand-dame.'
'Good! good!' cried Hum, 'I've known her from a child!
She is a changeling of my management;
She was born at midnight in an Indian wild;
Her mother's screams with the striped tiger's blent,
While the torch-bearing slaves a halloo sent
Into the jungles; and her palanquin,
Rested amid the desert's dreariment,
Shook with her agony, till fair were seen
The little Bertha's eyes ope on the stars serene.'
'I can't say,' said the monarch; 'that may be
Just as it happen'd, true or else a bam!
Drink up your brandy, and sit down by me,
Feel, feel my pulse, how much in love I am;
And if your science is not all a sham.
Tell me some means to get the lady here.'
'Upon my honour!' said the son of Cham,
'She is my dainty changeling, near and dear,
Although her story sounds at first a little queer.'
'Convey her to me, Hum, or by my crown,
My sceptre, and my cross-surmounted globe,
I'll knock you' -- 'Does your majesty mean -- down?
No, no, you never could my feelings probe
To such a depth!' The Emperor took his robe,
And wept upon its purple palatine,
While Hum continued, shamming half a sob,--
'In Canterbury doth your lady shine?
But let me cool your brandy with a little wine.'
Whereat a narrow Flemish glass he took,
That since belong'd to Admiral De Witt,
Admir'd it with a connoisseuring look,
And with the ripest claret crowned it,
And, ere the lively bead could burst and flit,
He turn'd it quickly, nimbly upside down,
His mouth being held conveniently fit
To catch the treasure: 'Best in all the town!'
He said, smack'd his moist lips, and gave a pleasant frown.
'Ah! good my Prince, weep not!' And then again
He filled a bumper. 'Great Sire, do not weep!
Your pulse is shocking, but I'll ease your pain.'
'Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep
Your voice low,' said the Emperor; 'and steep
Some lady's-fingers nice in Candy wine;
And prithee, Hum, behind the screen do peep
For the rose-water vase, magician mine!
And sponge my forehead, -- so my love doth make me pine.
'Ah, cursed Bellanaine!' 'Don't think of her,'
Rejoin'd the Mago, 'but on Bertha muse;
For, by my choicest best barometer,
You shall not throttled be in marriage noose;
I've said it, Sire; you only have to choose
Bertha or Bellanaine.' So saying, he drew
From the left pocket of his threadbare hose,
A sampler hoarded slyly, good as new,
Holding it by his thumb and finger full in view.
'Sire, this is Bertha Pearl's neat handy-work,
Her name, see here, Midsummer, ninety-one.'
Elfinan snatch'd it with a sudden jerk,
And wept as if he never would have done,
Honouring with royal tears the poor homespun;
Whereon were broider'd tigers with black eyes,
And long-tail'd pheasants, and a rising sun,
Plenty of posies, great stags, butterflies
Bigger than stags,-- a moon,-- with other mysteries.
The monarch handled o'er and o'er again
Those day-school hieroglyphics with a sigh;
Somewhat in sadness, but pleas'd in the main,
Till this oracular couplet met his eye
Astounded -- Cupid, I do thee defy!
It was too much. He shrunk back in his chair,
Grew pale as death, and fainted -- very nigh!
'Pho! nonsense!' exclaim'd Hum, 'now don't despair;
She does not mean it really. Cheer up, hearty -- there!
'And listen to my words. You say you won't,
On any terms, marry Miss Bellanaine;
It goes against your conscience -- good! Well, don't.
You say you love a mortal. I would fain
Persuade your honour's highness to refrain
From peccadilloes. But, Sire, as I say,
What good would that do? And, to be more plain,
You would do me a mischief some odd day,
Cut off my ears and limbs, or head too, by my fay!
'Besides, manners forbid that I should pass any
Vile strictures on the conduct of a prince
Who should indulge his genius, if he has any,
Not, like a subject, foolish matters mince.
Now I think on't, perhaps I could convince
Your Majesty there is no crime at all
In loving pretty little Bertha, since
She's very delicate,-- not over tall, --
A fairy's hand, and in the waist why -- very small.'
'Ring the repeater, gentle Hum!' ''Tis five,'
Said the gentle Hum; 'the nights draw in apace;
The little birds I hear are all alive;
I see the dawning touch'd upon your face;
Shall I put out the candles, please your Grace?'
'Do put them out, and, without more ado,
Tell me how I may that sweet girl embrace,--
How you can bring her to me.' 'That's for you,
Great Emperor! to adventure, like a lover true.'
'I fetch her!' -- 'Yes, an't like your Majesty;
And as she would be frighten'd wide awake
To travel such a distance through the sky,
Use of some soft manoeuvre you must make,
For your convenience, and her dear nerves' sake;
Nice way would be to bring her in a swoon,
Anon, I'll tell what course were best to take;
You must away this morning.' 'Hum! so soon?'
'Sire, you must be in Kent by twelve o'clock at noon.'
At this great Caesar started on his feet,
Lifted his wings, and stood attentive-wise.
'Those wings to Canterbury you must beat,
If you hold Bertha as a worthy prize.
Look in the Almanack -- Moore never lies --
April the twenty- fourth, -- this coming day,
Now breathing its new bloom upon the skies,
Will end in St. Mark's Eve; -- you must away,
For on that eve alone can you the maid convey.'
Then the magician solemnly 'gan to frown,
So that his frost-white eyebrows, beetling low,
Shaded his deep green eyes, and wrinkles brown
Plaited upon his furnace-scorched brow:
Forth from his hood that hung his neck below,
He lifted a bright casket of pure gold,
Touch'd a spring-lock, and there in wool or snow,
Charm'd into ever freezing, lay an old
And legend-leaved book, mysterious to behold.
'Take this same book,-- it will not bite you, Sire;
There, put it underneath your royal arm;
Though it's a pretty weight it will not tire,
But rather on your journey keep you warm:
This is the magic, this the potent charm,
That shall drive Bertha to a fainting fit!
When the time comes, don't feel the least alarm,
But lift her from the ground, and swiftly flit
Back to your palace. * * * * * * * * * *
'What shall I do with that same book?' 'Why merely
Lay it on Bertha's table, close beside
Her work-box, and 'twill help your purpose dearly;
I say no more.' 'Or good or ill betide,
Through the wide air to Kent this morn I glide!'
Exclaim'd the Emperor. 'When I return,
Ask what you will, -- I'll give you my new bride!
And take some more wine, Hum; -- O Heavens! I burn
To be upon the wing! Now, now, that minx I spurn!'
'Leave her to me,' rejoin'd the magian:
'But how shall I account, illustrious fay!
For thine imperial absence? Pho! I can
Say you are very sick, and bar the way
To your so loving courtiers for one day;
If either of their two archbishops' graces
Should talk of extreme unction, I shall say
You do not like cold pig with Latin phrases,
Which never should be used but in alarming cases.'
'Open the window, Hum; I'm ready now!'
Zooks!' exclaim'd Hum, as up the sash he drew.
'Behold, your Majesty, upon the brow
Of yonder hill, what crowds of people!' 'Whew!
The monster's always after something new,'
Return'd his Highness, 'they are piping hot
To see my pigsney Bellanaine. Hum! do
Tighten my belt a little, -- so, so, -- not
Too tight, -- the book! -- my wand! -- so, nothing is forgot.'
'Wounds! how they shout!' said Hum, 'and there, -- see, see!
Th' ambassador's return'd from Pigmio!
The morning's very fine, -- uncommonly!
See, past the skirts of yon white cloud they go,
Tinging it with soft crimsons! Now below
The sable-pointed heads of firs and pines
They dip, move on, and with them moves a glow
Along the forest side! Now amber lines
Reach the hill top, and now throughout the valley shines.'
'Why, Hum, you're getting quite poetical!
Those 'nows' you managed in a special style.'
'If ever you have leisure, Sire, you shall
See scraps of mine will make it worth your while,
Tid-bits for Phoebus! -- yes, you well may smile.
Hark! hark! the bells!' 'A little further yet,
Good Hum, and let me view this mighty coil.'
Then the great Emperor full graceful set
His elbow for a prop, and snuff'd his mignonnette.
The morn is full of holiday; loud bells
With rival clamours ring from every spire;
Cunningly-station'd music dies and swells
In echoing places; when the winds respire,
Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire;
A metropolitan murmur, lifeful, warm,
Comes from the northern suburbs; rich attire
Freckles with red and gold the moving swarm;
While here and there clear trumpets blow a keen alarm.
And now the fairy escort was seen clear,
Like the old pageant of Aurora's train,
Above a pearl-built minister, hovering near;
First wily Crafticant, the chamberlain,
Balanc'd upon his grey-grown pinions twain,
His slender wand officially reveal'd;
Then black gnomes scattering sixpences like rain;
Then pages three and three; and next, slave-held,
The Imaian 'scutcheon bright, -- one mouse in argent field.
Gentlemen pensioners next; and after them,
A troop of winged Janizaries flew;
Then slaves, as presents bearing many a gem;
Then twelve physicians fluttering two and two;
And next a chaplain in a cassock new;
Then Lords in waiting; then (what head not reels
For pleasure?) -- the fair Princess in full view,
Borne upon wings, -- and very pleas'd she feels
To have such splendour dance attendance at her heels.
For there was more magnificence behind:
She wav'd her handkerchief. 'Ah, very grand!'
Cry'd Elfinan, and clos'd the window-blind;
'And, Hum, we must not shilly-shally stand,--
Adieu! adieu! I'm off for Angle-land!
I say, old Hocus, have you such a thing
About you, -- feel your pockets, I command,--
I want, this instant, an invisible ring,--
Thank you, old mummy! -- now securely I take wing.'
Then Elfinan swift vaulted from the floor,
And lighted graceful on the window-sill;
Under one arm the magic book he bore,
The other he could wave about at will;
Pale was his face, he still look'd very ill;
He bow'd at Bellanaine, and said -- 'Poor Bell!
Farewell! farewell! and if for ever! still
For ever fare thee well!' -- and then he fell
A laughing! -- snapp'd his fingers! -- shame it is to tell!
'By'r Lady! he is gone!' cries Hum, 'and I --
(I own it) -- have made too free with his wine;
Old Crafticant will smoke me. By-the-bye!
This room is full of jewels as a mine,--
Dear valuable creatures, how ye shine!
Sometime to-day I must contrive a minute,
If Mercury propitiously incline,
To examine his scutoire, and see what's in i,
For of superfluous diamonds I as well may thin it.
'The Emperor's horrid bad; yes, that's my cue!'
Some histories say that this was Hum's last speech;
That, being fuddled, he went reeling through
The corridor, and scarce upright could reach
The stair-head; that being glutted as a leech,
And us'd, as we ourselves have just now said,
To manage stairs reversely, like a peach
Too ripe, he fell, being puzzled in his head
With liquor and the staircase: verdict -- found stone dead.
This as a falsehood Crafticanto treats;
And as his style is of strange elegance,
Gentle and tender, full of soft conceits,
(Much like our Boswell's,) we will take a glance
At his sweet prose, and, if we can, make dance
His woven periods into careless rhyme;
O, little faery Pegasus! rear -- prance --
Trot round the quarto -- ordinary time!
March, little Pegasus, with pawing hoof sublime!
Well, let us see, -- tenth book and chapter nine,--
Thus Crafticant pursues his diary:--
''Twas twelve o'clock at night, the weather fine,
Latitude thirty-six; our scouts descry
A flight of starlings making rapidly
Towards Thibet. Mem.: -- birds fly in the night;
From twelve to half-past -- wings not fit to fly
For a thick fog -- the Princess sulky quite;
Call'd for an extra shawl, and gave her nurse a bite.
'Five minutes before one -- brought down a moth
With my new double-barrel -- stew'd the thighs
And made a very tolerable broth --
Princess turn'd dainty, to our great surprise,
Alter'd her mind, and thought it very nice;
Seeing her pleasant, try'd her with a pun,
She frown'd; a monstrous owl across us flies
About this time, -- a sad old figure of fun;
Bad omen -- this new match can't be a happy one.
'From two to half-past, dusky way we made,
Above the plains of Gobi, -- desert, bleak;
Beheld afar off, in the hooded shade
Of darkness, a great mountain (strange to speak),
Spitting, from forth its sulphur-baken peak,
A fan-shap'd burst of blood-red, arrowy fire,
Turban'd with smoke, which still away did reek,
Solid and black from that eternal pyre,
Upon the laden winds that scantly could respire.
'Just upon three o'clock a falling star
Created an alarm among our troop,
Kill'd a man-cook, a page, and broke a jar,
A tureen, and three dishes, at one swoop,
Then passing by the princess, singed her hoop:
Could not conceive what Coralline was at,
She clapp'd her hands three times and cry'd out 'Whoop!'
Some strange Imaian custom. A large bat
Came sudden 'fore my face, and brush'd against my hat.
'Five minutes thirteen seconds after three,
Far in the west a mighty fire broke out,
Conjectur'd, on the instant, it might be,
The city of Balk -- 'twas Balk beyond all doubt:
A griffin, wheeling here and there about,
Kept reconnoitring us -- doubled our guard --
Lighted our torches, and kept up a shout,
Till he sheer'd off -- the Princess very scar'd --
And many on their marrow-bones for death prepar'd.
'At half-past three arose the cheerful moon--
Bivouack'd for four minutes on a cloud --
Where from the earth we heard a lively tune
Of tambourines and pipes, serene and loud,
While on a flowery lawn a brilliant crowd
Cinque-parted danc'd, some half asleep reposed
Beneath the green-fan'd cedars, some did shroud
In silken tents, and 'mid light fragrance dozed,
Or on the opera turf their soothed eyelids closed.
'Dropp'd my gold watch, and kill'd a kettledrum--
It went for apoplexy -- foolish folks! --
Left it to pay the piper -- a good sum --
(I've got a conscience, maugre people's jokes,)
To scrape a little favour; 'gan to coax
Her Highness' pug-dog -- got a sharp rebuff --
She wish'd a game at whist -- made three revokes --
Turn'd from myself, her partner, in a huff;
His majesty will know her temper time enough.
'She cry'd for chess -- I play'd a game with her --
Castled her king with such a vixen look,
It bodes ill to his Majesty -- (refer
To the second chapter of my fortieth book,
And see what hoity-toity airs she took).
At half-past four the morn essay'd to beam --
Saluted, as we pass'd, an early rook --
The Princess fell asleep, and, in her dream,
Talk'd of one Master Hubert, deep in her esteem.
'About this time, -- making delightful way,--
Shed a quill-feather from my larboard wing --
Wish'd, trusted, hop'd 'twas no sign of decay --
Thank heaven, I'm hearty yet! -- 'twas no such thing:--
At five the golden light began to spring,
With fiery shudder through the bloomed east;
At six we heard Panthea's churches ring --
The city wall his unhiv'd swarms had cast,
To watch our grand approach, and hail us as we pass'd.
'As flowers turn their faces to the sun,
So on our flight with hungry eyes they gaze,
And, as we shap'd our course, this, that way run,
With mad-cap pleasure, or hand-clasp'd amaze;
Sweet in the air a mild-ton'd music plays,
And progresses through its own labyrinth;
Buds gather'd from the green spring's middle-days,
They scatter'd, -- daisy, primrose, hyacinth,--
Or round white columns wreath'd from capital to plinth.
'Onward we floated o'er the panting streets,
That seem'd throughout with upheld faces paved;
Look where we will, our bird's-eye vision meets
Legions of holiday; bright standards waved,
And fluttering ensigns emulously craved
Our minute's glance; a busy thunderous roar,
From square to square, among the buildings raved,
As when the sea, at flow, gluts up once more
The craggy hollowness of a wild reefed shore.
'And 'Bellanaine for ever!' shouted they,
While that fair Princess, from her winged chair,
Bow'd low with high demeanour, and, to pay
Their new-blown loyalty with guerdon fair,
Still emptied at meet distance, here and there,
A plenty horn of jewels. And here I
(Who wish to give the devil her due) declare
Against that ugly piece of calumny,
Which calls them Highland pebble-stones not worth a fly.
'Still 'Bellanaine!' they shouted, while we glide
'Slant to a light Ionic portico,
The city's delicacy, and the pride
Of our Imperial Basilic; a row
Of lords and ladies, on each hand, make show
Submissive of knee-bent obeisance,
All down the steps; and, as we enter'd, lo!
The strangest sight -- the most unlook'd for chance --
All things turn'd topsy-turvy in a devil's dance.
''Stead of his anxious Majesty and court
At the open doors, with wide saluting eyes,
Congèes and scrape-graces of every sort,
And all the smooth routine of gallantries,
Was seen, to our immoderate surprise,
A motley crowd thick gather'd in the hall,
Lords, scullions, deputy-scullions, with wild cries
Stunning the vestibule from wall to wall,
Where the Chief Justice on his knees and hands doth crawl.
'Counts of the palace, and the state purveyor
Of moth's-down, to make soft the royal beds,
The Common Council and my fool Lord Mayor
Marching a-row, each other slipshod treads;
Powder'd bag-wigs and ruffy-tuffy heads
Of cinder wenches meet and soil each other;
Toe crush'd with heel ill-natur'd fighting breeds,
Frill-rumpling elbows brew up many a bother,
And fists in the short ribs keep up the yell and pother.
'A Poet, mounted on the Court-Clown's back,
Rode to the Princess swift with spurring heels,
And close into her face, with rhyming clack,
Began a Prothalamion; -- she reels,
She falls, she faints! while laughter peels
Over her woman's weakness. 'Where!' cry'd I,
'Where is his Majesty?' No person feels
Inclin'd to answer; wherefore instantly
I plung'd into the crowd to find him or die.
'Jostling my way I gain'd the stairs, and ran
To the first landing, where, incredible!
I met, far gone in liquor, that old man,
That vile impostor Hum. ----'
So far so well,--
For we have prov'd the Mago never fell
Down stairs on Crafticanto's evidence;
And therefore duly shall proceed to tell,
Plain in our own original mood and tense,
The sequel of this day, though labour 'tis immense!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Pharsalia - Book II: The Flight Of Pompeius
This was made plain the anger of the gods;
The universe gave signs Nature reversed
In monstrous tumult fraught with prodigies
Her laws, and prescient spake the coming guilt.
How seemed it just to thee, Olympus' king,
That suffering mortals at thy doom should know
By omens dire the massacre to come?
Or did the primal parent of the world
When first the flames gave way and yielding left
Matter unformed to his subduing hand,
And realms unbalanced, fix by stern decree'
Unalterable laws to bind the whole
(Himself, too, bound by law), so that for aye
All Nature moves within its fated bounds?
Or, is Chance sovereign over all, and we
The sport of Fortune and her turning wheel?
Whate'er be truth, keep thou the future veiled
From mortal vision, and amid their fears
May men still hope.
Thus known how great the woes
The world should suffer, from the truth divine,
A solemn fast was called, the courts were closed,
All men in private garb; no purple hem
Adorned the togas of the chiefs of Rome;
No plaints were uttered, and a voiceless grief
Lay deep in every bosom: as when death
Knocks at some door but enters not as yet,
Before the mother calls the name aloud
Or bids her grieving maidens beat the breast,
While still she marks the glazing eye, and soothes
The stiffening limbs and gazes on the face,
In nameless dread, not sorrow, and in awe
Of death approaching: and with mind distraught
Clings to the dying in a last embrace.
The matrons laid aside their wonted garb:
Crowds filled the temples -- on the unpitying stones
Some dashed their bosoms; others bathed with tears
The statues of the gods; some tore their hair
Upon the holy threshold, and with shrieks
And vows unceasing called upon the names
Of those whom mortals supplicate. Nor all
Lay in the Thunderer's fane: at every shrine
Some prayers are offered which refused shall bring
Reproach on heaven. One whose livid arms
Were dark with blows, whose cheeks with tears bedewed
And riven, cried, 'Beat, mothers, beat the breast,
Tear now the lock; while doubtful in the scales
Still fortune hangs, nor yet the fight is won,
You still may grieve: when either wins rejoice.'
Thus sorrow stirs itself.
Meanwhile the men
Seeking the camp and setting forth to war,
Address the cruel gods in just complaint.
'Happy the youths who born in Punic days
On Cannae's uplands or by Trebia's stream
Fought and were slain! What wretched lot is ours!
No peace we ask for: let the nations rage;
Rouse fiercest cities! may the world find arms
To wage a war with Rome: let Parthian hosts
Rush forth from Susa; Scythian Ister curb
No more the Massagete: unconquered Rhine
Let loose from furthest North her fair-haired tribes:
Elbe, pour thy Suevians forth! Let us be foes
Of all the peoples. May the Getan press
Here, and the Dacian there; Pompeius meet
The Eastern archers, Caesar in the West
Confront th' Iberian. Leave to Rome no hand
To raise against herself in civil strife.
Or, if Italia by the gods be doomed,
Let all the sky, fierce Parent, be dissolved
And falling on the earth in flaming bolts,
Their hands still bloodless, strike both leaders down,
With both their hosts! Why plunge in novel crime
To settle which of them shall rule in Rome?
Scarce were it worth the price of civil war
To hinder either.' Thus the patriot voice
Still found an utterance, soon to speak no more.
Meantime, the aged fathers o'er their fates
In anguish grieved, detesting life prolonged
That brought with it another civil war.
And thus spake one, to justify his fears:
'No other deeds the fates laid up in store
When Marius, victor over Teuton hosts,
Afric's high conqueror, cast out from Rome,
Lay hid in marshy ooze, at thy behest,
O Fortune! by the yielding soil concealed
And waving rushes; but ere long the chains
Of prison wore his weak and aged frame,
And lengthened squalor: thus he paid for crime
His punishment beforehand; doomed to die
Consul in triumph over wasted Rome.
Death oft refused him; and the very foe,
In act to murder, shuddered in the stroke
And dropped the weapon from his nerveless hand.
For through the prison gloom a flame of light
He saw; the deities of crime abhorred;
The Marius to come. A voice proclaimed
Mysterious, `Hold! the fates permit thee not
That neck to sever. Many a death he owes
To time's predestined laws ere his shall come;
Cease from thy madness. If ye seek revenge
For all the blood shed by your slaughtered tribes to
Let this man, Cimbrians, live out all his days.'
Not as their darling did the gods protect
The man of blood, but for his ruthless hand
Fit to prepare that sacrifice of gore
Which fate demanded. By the sea's despite
Borne to our foes, Jugurtha's wasted realm
He saw, now conquered; there in squalid huts
Awhile he lay, and trod the hostile dust
Of Carthage, and his ruin matched with hers:
Each from the other's fate some solace drew,
And prostrate, pardoned heaven. On Libyan soil
Fresh fury gathering, next, when Fortune smiled
The prisons he threw wide and freed the slaves.
Forth rushed the murderous bands, their melted chains
Forged into weapons for his ruffian needs.
No charge he gave to mere recruits in guilt
Who brought not to the camp some proof of crime.
How dread that day when conquering Marius seized
The city's ramparts! with what fated speed
Death strode upon his victims! plebs alike
And nobles perished; far and near the sword
Struck at his pleasure, till the temple floors
Ran wet with slaughter and the crimson stream
Befouled with slippery gore the holy walls.
No age found pity men of failing years,
Just tottering to the grave, were hurled to death;
From infants, in their being's earliest dawn,
The growing life was severed. For what crime?
Twas cause enough for death that they could die.
The fury grew: soon 'twas a sluggard's part
To seek the guilty: hundreds died to swell
The tale of victims. Shamed by empty hands,
The bloodstained conqueror snatched a reeking head
From neck unknown. One way of life remained,
To kiss with shuddering lips the red right hand.
Degenerate people! Had ye hearts of men,
Though ye were threatened by a thousand swords,
Far rather death than centuries of life
Bought at such price; much more that breathing space
Till Sulla comes again. But time would fail
In weeping for the deaths of all who fell.
Encircled by innumerable bands
Fell Baebius, his limbs asunder torn,
His vitals dragged abroad. Antonius too,
Prophet of ill, whose hoary head was placed,
Dripping with blood, upon the festal board.
There headless fell the Crassi; mangled frames
'Neath Fimbria's falchion: and the prison cells
Were wet with tribunes' blood. Hard by the fane
Where dwells the goddess and the sacred fire,
Fell aged Scaevola, though that gory hand
Had spared him, but the feeble tide of blood
Still left the flame alive upon the hearth.
That selfsame year the seventh time restored
The Consul's rods; that year to Marius brought
The end of life, when he at Fortune's hands
All ills had suffered; all her goods enjoyed.
'And what of those who at the Sacriport
And Colline gate were slain, then, when the rule
Of Earth and all her nations almost left
This city for another, and the chiefs
Who led the Samnite hoped that Rome might bleed
More than at Caudium's Forks she bled of old?
Then came great Sulla to avenge the dead,
And all the blood still left within her frame
Drew from the city; for the surgeon knife
Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep,
And shed the life stream from still healthy veins.
True that the guilty fell, but not before
All else had perished. Hatred had free course
And anger reigned unbridled by the law.
The victor's voice spake once; but each man struck
Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel
Urged by the servant laid the master low.
Sons dripped with gore of sires; and brothers fought
For the foul trophy of a father slain,
Or slew each other for the price of blood.
Men sought the tombs and, mingling with the dead,
Hoped for escape; the wild beasts' dens were full.
One strangled died; another from the height
Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth,
And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death:
One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins,
And sealed the furnace ere his blood was gone.
Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads
Were piled in middle forum: hence men knew
Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates
Of Diomedes, tyrant king of Thrace,
Nor of Antaeus, Libya's giant brood,
Were hung such horrors; nor in Pisa's hall
Were seen and wept for when the suitors died.
Decay had touched the features of the slain
When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps
The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead.
I, too, the body of my brother slain
Thought to remove, my victim to the peace
Which Sulla made, and place his loved remains
On the forbidden pyre. The head I found,
But not the butchered corse.
'Why now renew
The tale of Catulus's shade appeased?
And those dread tortures which the living frame
Of Marius suffered at the tomb of him
Who haply wished them not? Pierced, mangled, torn --
Nor speech nor grasp was left: his every limb
Maimed, hacked and riven; yet the fatal blow
The murderers with savage purpose spared.
'Twere scarce believed that one poor mortal frame
Such agonies could bear e'er death should come.
Thus crushed beneath some ruin lie the dead;
Thus shapeless from the deep are borne the drowned.
Why spoil delight by mutilating thus,
The head of Marius? To please Sulla's heart
That mangled visage must be known to all.
Fortune, high goddess of Praeneste's fane,
Saw all her townsmen hurried to their deaths
In one fell instant. All the hope of Rome,
The flower of Latium, stained with blood the field
Where once the peaceful tribes their votes declared.
Famine and Sword, the raging sky and sea,
And Earth upheaved, have laid such numbers low:
But ne'er one man's revenge. Between the slain
And living victims there was space no more,
Death thus let slip, to deal the fatal blow.
Hardly when struck they fell; the severed head
Scarce toppled from the shoulders; but the slain
Blent in a weighty pile of massacre
Pressed out the life and helped the murderer's arm.
Secure from stain upon his lofty throne,
Unshuddering sat the author of the whole,
Nor feared that at his word such thousands fell.
At length the Tuscan flood received the dead
The first upon his waves; the last on those
That lay beneath them; vessels in their course
Were stayed, and while the lower current flowed
Still to the sea, the upper stood on high
Dammed back by carnage. Through the streets meanwhile
In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood,
Which furrowing its path through town and field
Forced the slow river on. But now his banks
No longer held him, and the dead were thrown
Back on the fields above. With labour huge
At length he struggled to his goal and stretched
In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.
'For deeds like these, shall Sulla now be styled
`Darling of Fortune', `Saviour of the State'?
For these, a tomb in middle field of Mars
Record his fame? Like horrors now return
For us to suffer; and the civil war
Thus shall be waged again and thus shall end.
Yet worse disasters may our fears suggest,
For now with greater carnage of mankind
The rival hosts in weightier battle meet.
To exiled Marius, successful strife
Was Rome regained; triumphant Sulla knew
No greater joy than on his hated foes
To wreak his vengeance with unsparing sword.
But these more powerful rivals Fortune calls
To worse ambitions; nor would either chief
For such reward as Sulla's wage the war.'
Thus, mindful of his youth, the aged man
Wept for the past, but feared the coming days.
Such terrors found in haughty Brutus' breast
No home. When others sat them down to fear
He did not so, but in the dewy night
When the great wain was turning round the pole
He sought his kinsman Cato's humble home.
Him sleepless did he find, not for himself
Fearing, but pondering the fates of Rome,
And deep in public cares. And thus he spake:
'O thou in whom that virtue, which of yore
Took flight from earth, now finds its only home,
Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee:
Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul
And make my weakness strength. While Caesar some,
Pompeius others, follow in the fight,
Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace,
Holding thy footsteps in a tottering world
Unshaken? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes
And with the people's fury take thy part,
And by thy presence purge the war of guilt?
In impious battles men unsheath the sword;
But each by cause impelled: the household crime;
Laws feared in peace; want by the sword removed;
And broken credit, that its ruin hides
In general ruin. Drawn by hope of gain,
And not by thirst for blood, they seek the camp.
Shall Cato for war's sake make war alone?
What profits it through all these wicked years
That thou hast lived untainted? This were all
Thy meed of virtue, that the wars which find
Guilt in all else, shall make thee guilty too.
Ye gods, permit not that this fatal strife
Should stir those hands to action! When the clouds
Of flying javelins hiss upon the air,
Let not a dart be thine; nor spent in vain
Such virtue! All the fury of the war
Shall launch itself on thee, for who, when faint
And wounded, would not rush upon thy sword,
Take thence his death, and make the murder thine?
Do thou live on thy peaceful life apart
As on their paths the stars unshaken roll.
The lower air that verges on the earth
Gives flame and fury to the levin bolt;
The deeps below the world engulph the winds
And tracts of flaming fire. By Jove's decree
Olympus rears his summit o'er the clouds:
In lowlier valleys storms and winds contend,
But peace eternal reigns upon the heights.
What joy for Caesar, if the tidings come
That such a citizen has joined the war?
Glad would he see thee e'en in Magnus' tents;
For Cato's conduct shall approve his own.
Pompeius, with the Consul in his ranks,
And half the Senate and the other chiefs,
Vexes my spirit; and should Cato too
Bend to a master's yoke, in all the world
The one man free is Caesar. But if thou
For freedom and thy country's laws alone
Be pleased to raise the sword, nor Magnus then
Nor Caesar shall in Brutus find a foe.
Not till the fight is fought shall Brutus strike,
Then strike the victor.'
Brutus thus; but spake
Cato from inmost breast these sacred words:
'Chief in all wickedness is civil war,
Yet virtue in the paths marked out by fate
Treads on securely. Heaven's will be the crime
To have made even Cato guilty. Who has strength
To gaze unawed upon a toppling world?
When stars and sky fall headlong, and when earth
Slips from her base, who sits with folded hands?
Shall unknown nations, touched by western strife,
And monarchs born beneath another clime
Brave the dividing seas to join the war?
Shall Scythian tribes desert their distant north,
And Getae haste to view the fall of Rome,
And I look idly on? As some fond sire,
Reft of his sons, compelled by grief, himself
Marshals the long procession to the tomb,
Thrusts his own hand within the funeral flames,
Soothing his heart, and, as the lofty pyre
Rises on high, applies the kindled torch:
Nought, Rome, shall tear thee from me, till I hold
Thy form in death embraced; and Freedom's name,
Shade though it be, I'll follow to the grave.
Yea! let the cruel gods exact in full
Rome's expiation: of no drop of blood
The war be robbed. I would that, to the gods
Of heaven and hell devoted, this my life
Might satisfy their vengeance. Decius fell,
Crushed by the hostile ranks. When Cato falls
Let Rhine's fierce barbarous hordes and both the hosts
Thrust through my frame their darts! May I alone
Receive in death the wounds of all the war!
Thus may the people be redeemed, and thus
Rome for her guilt pay the atonement due.
Why should men die who wish to bear the yoke
And shrink not from the tyranny to come?
Strike me, and me alone, of laws and rights
In vain the guardian: this vicarious life
Shall give Hesperia peace and end her toils.
Who then will reign shall find no need for war.
You ask, `Why follow Magnus? If he wins
He too will claim the Empire of the world.'
Then let him, conquering with my service, learn
Not for himself to conquer.' Thus he spoke
And stirred the blood that ran in Brutus' veins
Moving the youth to action in the war.
Soon as the sun dispelled the chilly night,
The sounding doors flew wide, and from the tomb
Of dead Hortensius grieving Marcia came.
First joined in wedlock to a greater man
Three children did she bear to grace his home:
Then Cato to Hortensius gave the dame
To be a fruitful mother of his sons
And join their houses in a closer tie.
And now the last sad offices were done
She came with hair dishevelled, beaten breast,
And ashes on her brow, and features worn
With grief; thus only pleasing to the man.
'When youth was in me and maternal power
I did thy bidding, Cato, and received
A second husband: now in years grown old
Ne'er to be parted I return to thee.
Renew our former pledges undefiled:
Give back the name of wife: upon my tomb
Let `Marcia, spouse to Cato,' be engraved.
Nor let men question in the time to come,
Did'st thou compel, or did I willing leave
My first espousals. Not in happy times,
Partner of joys, I come; but days of care
And labour shall be mine to share with thee.
Nor leave me here, but take me to the camp,
Thy fond companion: why should Magnus' wife
Be nearer, Cato, to the wars than thine?'
Although the times were warlike and the fates
Called to the fray, he lent a willing ear.
Yet must they plight their faith in simple form
Of law; their witnesses the gods alone.
No festal wreath of flowers crowned the gate
Nor glittering fillet on each post entwined;
No flaming torch was there, nor ivory steps,
No couch with robes of broidered gold adorned;
No comely matron placed upon her brow
The bridal garland, or forbad the foot
To touch the threshold stone; no saffron veil
Concealed the timid blushes of the bride;
No jewelled belt confined her flowing robe
Nor modest circle bound her neck; no scarf
Hung lightly on the snowy shoulder's edge
Around the naked arm. Just as she came,
Wearing the garb of sorrow, while the wool
Covered the purple border of her robe,
Thus was she wedded. As she greets her sons
So doth she greet her husband. Festal games
Graced not their nuptials, nor were friends and kin
As by the Sabines bidden: silent both
They joined in marriage, yet content, unseen
By any save by Brutus. Sad and stern
On Cato's lineaments the marks of grief
Were still unsoftened, and the hoary hair
Hung o'er his reverend visage; for since first
Men flew to arms, his locks were left unkempt
To stream upon his brow, and on his chin
His beard untended grew. 'Twas his alone
Who hated not, nor loved, for all mankind
To mourn alike. Nor did their former couch
Again receive them, for his lofty soul
E'en lawful love resisted. 'Twas his rule
Inflexible, to keep the middle path
Marked out and bounded; to observe the laws
Of natural right; and for his country's sake
To risk his life, his all, as not for self
Brought into being, but for all the world:
Such was his creed. To him a sumptuous feast
Was hunger conquered, and the lowly hut,
Which scarce kept out the winter, was a home
Equal to palaces: a robe of price
Such hairy garments as were worn of old:
The end of marriage, offspring. To the State
Father alike and husband, right and law
He ever followed with unswerving step:
No thought of selfish pleasure turned the scale
In Cato's acts, or swayed his upright soul.
Meanwhile Pompeius led his trembling host
To fields Campanian, and held the walls
First founded by the chief of Trojan race.
These chose he for the central seat of war,
Some troops despatching who might meet the foe
Where shady Apennine lifts up the ridge
Of mid Italia; nearest to the sky
Upsoaring, with the seas on either hand,
The upper and the lower. Pisa's sands
Breaking the margin of the Tuscan deep,
Here bound his mountains: there Ancona's towers
Laved by Dalmatian waves. Rivers immense,
In his recesses born, pass on their course,
To either sea diverging. To the left
Metaurus, and Crustumium's torrent, fall
And Sena's streams and Aufidus who bursts
On Adrian billows; and that mighty flood
Which, more than all the rivers of the earth,
Sweeps down the soil and tears the woods away
And drains Hesperia's springs. In fabled lore
His banks were first by poplar shade enclosed:
And when by Phaethon the waning day
Was drawn in path transverse, and all the heaven
Blazed with his car aflame, and from the depths
Of inmost earth were rapt all other floods,
Padus still rolled in pride of stream along.
Nile were no larger, but that o'er the sand
Of level Egypt he spreads out his waves;
Nor Ister, if he sought the Scythian main
Unhelped upon his journey through the world
By tributary waters not his own.
But on the right hand Tiber has his source,
Deep-flowing Rutuba, Vulturnus swift,
And Sarnus breathing vapours of the night
Rise there, and Liris with Vestinian wave
Still gliding through Marica's shady grove,
And Siler flowing through Salernian meads:
And Macra's swift unnavigable stream
By Luna lost in Ocean. On the Alps
Whose spurs strike plainwards, and on fields of Gaul
The cloudy heights of Apennine look down
In further distance: on his nearer slopes
The Sabine turns the ploughshare; Umbrian kine
And Marsian fatten; with his pineclad rocks
He girds the tribes of Latium, nor leaves
Hesperia's soil until the waves that beat
On Scylla's cave compel. His southern spurs
Extend to Juno's temple, and of old
Stretched further than Italia, till the main
O'erstepped his limits and the lands repelled.
But, when the seas were joined, Pelorus claimed
His latest summits for Sicilia's isle.
Caesar, in rage for war, rejoicing found
Foes in Italia; no bloodless steps
Nor vacant homes had pleased him; so his march
Were wasted: now the coming war was joined
Unbroken to the past; to force the gates
Not find them open, fire and sword to bring
Upon the harvests, not through fields unharmed
To pass his legions -- this was Caesar's joy;
In peaceful guise to march, this was his shame.
Italia's cities, doubtful in their choice,
Though to the earliest onset of the war
About to yield, strengthened their walls with mounds
And deepest trench encircling: massive stones
And bolts of war to hurl upon the foe
They place upon the turrets. Magnus most
The people's favour held, yet faith with fear
Fought in their breasts. As when, with strident blast,
A southern tempest has possessed the main
And all the billows follow in its track:
Then, by the Storm-king smitten, should the earth
Set Eurus free upon the swollen deep,
It shall not yield to him, though cloud and sky
Confess his strength; but in the former wind
Still find its master. But their fears prevailed,
And Caesar's fortune, o'er their wavering faith.
For Libo fled Etruria; Umbria lost
Her freedom, driving Thermus from her bounds;
Great Sulla's son, unworthy of his sire,
Feared at the name of Caesar: Varus sought
The caves and woods, when smote the hostile horse
The gates of Auximon; and Spinther driven
From Asculum, the victor on his track,
Fled with his standards, soldierless; and thou,
Scipio, did'st leave Nuceria's citadel
Deserted, though by bravest legions held
Sent home by Caesar for the Parthian war;
Whom Magnus earlier, to his kinsman gave
A loan of Roman blood, to fight the Gaul.
But brave Domitius held firm his post
Behind Corfinium's ramparts; his the troops
Who newly levied kept the judgment hall
At Milo's trial. When from far the plain
Rolled up a dusty cloud, beneath whose veil
The sheen of armour glistening in the sun,
Revealed a marching host. 'Dash down,' he cried,
Swift; as ye can, the bridge that spans the stream;
And thou, O river, from thy mountain source
With all thy torrents rushing, planks and beams
Ruined and broken on thy foaming breast
Bear onward to the sea. The war shall stop
Here, to our triumph; for this headlong chief
Here first at our firm bidding shall be stayed.'
He bade his squadrons, speeding from the walls,
Charge on the bridge: in vain: for Caesar saw
They sought to free the river from his chains
And bar his march; and roused to ire, he cried:
'Were not the walls sufficient to protect
Your coward souls? Seek ye by barricades
And streams to keep me back? What though the flood
Of swollen Ganges were across my path?
Now Rubicon is passed, no stream on earth
Shall hinder Caesar! Forward, horse and foot,
And ere it totters rush upon the bridge.'
Urged in their swiftest gallop to the front
Dashed the light horse across the sounding plain;
And suddenly, as storm in summer, flew
A cloud of javelins forth, by sinewy arms
Hurled at the foe; the guard is put to flight,
And conquering Caesar, seizing on the bridge,
Compels the enemy to keep the walls.
Now do the mighty engines, soon to hurl
Gigantic stones, press forward, and the ram
Creeps 'neath the ramparts; when the gates fly back,
And lo! the traitor troops, foul crime in war,
Yield up their leader. Him they place before
His proud compatriot; yet with upright form,
And scornful features and with noble mien,
He asks his death. But Caesar knew his wish
Was punishment, and pardon was his fear:
'Live though thou would'st not,' so the chieftain spake,
'And by my gift, unwilling, see the day:
Be to my conquered foes the cause of hope,
Proof of my clemency -- or if thou wilt
Take arms again -- and should'st thou conquer, count
This pardon nothing.' Thus he spake, and bade
Let loose the bands and set the captive free.
Ah! better had he died, and fortune spared
The Roman's last dishonour, whose worse doom
It is, that he who joined his country's camp
And fought with Magnus for the Senate's cause
Should gain for this -- a pardon! Yet he curbed
His anger, thinking, 'Wilt thou then to Rome
And peaceful scenes, degenerate? Rather war,
The furious battle and the certain end!
Break with life's ties: be Caesar's gift in vain.'
Pompeius, ignorant that his captain thus
Was taken, armed his levies newly raised
To give his legions strength; and as he thought
To sound his trumpets with the coming dawn,
To test his soldiers ere he moved his camp
Thus in majestic tones their ranks addressed:
'Soldiers of Rome! Avengers of her laws!
To whom the Senate gives no private arms,
Ask by your voices for the battle sign.
Fierce falls the pillage on Hesperian fields,
And Gallia's fury o'er the snowy Alps
Is poured upon us. Caesar's swords at last
Are red with Roman blood. But with the wound
We gain the better cause; the crime is theirs.
No war is this, but for offended Rome
We wreak the vengeance; as when Catiline
Lifted against her roofs the flaming brand
And, partner in his fury, Lentulus,
And mad Cethegus with his naked arm.
Is such thy madness, Caesar? when the Fates
With great Camillus' and Metellus' names
Might place thine own, dost thou prefer to rank
With Marius and Cinna? Swift shall be
Thy fall: as Lepidus before the sword
Of Catulus; or who my axes felt,
Carbo, now buried in Sicanian tomb;
Or who, in exile, roused Iberia's hordes,
Sertorius -- yet, witness Heaven, with these
I hate to rank thee; hate the task that Rome
Has laid upon me, to oppose thy rage.
Would that in safety from the Parthian war
And Scythian steppes had conquering Crassus come!
Then haply had'st thou fallen by the hand
That smote vile Spartacus the robber foe.
But if among my triumphs fate has said
Thy conquest shall be written, know this heart
Still sends the life blood coursing: and this arm
Still vigorously flings the dart afield.
He deems me slothful. Caesar, thou shalt learn
We brook not peace because we lag in war.
Old, does he call me? Fear not ye mine age.
Let me be elder, if his soldiers are.
The highest point a citizen can reach
And leave his people free, is mine: a throne
Alone were higher; whoso would surpass
Pompeius, aims at that. Both Consuls stand
Here; here for battle stand your lawful chiefs:
And shall this Caesar drag the Senate down?
Not with such blindness, not so lost to shame
Does Fortune rule. Does he take heart from Gaul:
For years on years rebellious, and a life
Spent there in labour? or because he fled
Rhine's icy torrent and the shifting pools
He calls an ocean? or unchallenged sought
Britannia's cliffs; then turned his back in flight?
Or does he boast because his citizens
Were driven in arms to leave their hearths and homes?
Ah, vain delusion! not from thee they fled:
My steps they follow -- mine, whose conquering signs
Swept all the ocean, and who, ere the moon
Twice filled her orb and waned, compelled to flight
The pirate, shrinking from the open sea,
And humbly begging for a narrow home
In some poor nook on shore. 'Twas I again
Who, happier far than Sulla, drave to death
That king who, exiled to the deep recess
Of Scythian Pontus, held the fates of Rome
Still in the balances. Where is the land
That hath not seen my trophies? Icy waves
Of northern Phasis, hot Egyptian shores,
And where Syene 'neath its noontide sun
Knows shade on neither hand: all these have learned
To fear Pompeius: and far Baetis' stream,
Last of all floods to join the refluent sea.
Arabia and the warlike hordes that dwell
Beside the Euxine wave: the famous land
That lost the golden fleece; Cilician wastes,
And Cappadocian, and the Jews who pray
Before an unknown God; Sophene soft --
All felt my yoke. What conquests now remain,
What wars not civil can my kinsman wage?'
No loud acclaim received his words, nor shout
Asked for the promised battle: and the chief
Drew back the standards, for the soldier's fears
Were in his soul alike; nor dared he trust
An army, vanquished by the fame alone
Of Caesar's powers, to fight for such a prize.
And as some bull, his early combat lost,
Forth driven from the herd, in exile roams
Through lonely plains or secret forest depths,
Whets on opposing trunks his growing horn,
And proves himself for battle, till his neck
Is ribbed afresh with muscle: then returns,
Defiant of the hind, and victor now
Leads wheresoe'er he will his lowing bands:
Thus Magnus, yielding to a stronger foe,
Gave up Italia, and sought in flight
Brundusium's sheltering battlements.
Here of old
Fled Cretan settlers when the dusky sail
Spread the false message of the hero dead;
Here, where Hesperia, curving as a bow,
Draws back her coast, a little tongue of land
Shuts in with bending horns the sounding main.
Yet insecure the spot, unsafe in storm,
Were it not sheltered by an isle on which
The Adriatic billows dash and fall,
And tempests lose their strength: on either hand
A craggy cliff opposing breaks the gale
That beats upon them, while the ships within
Held by their trembling cables ride secure.
Hence to the mariner the boundless deep
Lies open, whether for Corcyra's port
He shapes his sails, or for Illyria's shore,
And Epidamnus facing to the main
Ionian. Here, when raging in his might
Fierce Adria whelms in foam Calabria's coast,
When clouds tempestuous veil Ceraunus' height,
The sailor finds a haven.
When the chief
Could find no hope in battle on the soil
He now was quitting, and the lofty Alps
Forbad Iberia, to his son he spake,
The eldest scion of that noble stock:
'Search out the far recesses of the earth,
Nile and Euphrates, wheresoe'er the fame
Of Magnus lives, where, through thy father's deeds,
The people tremble at the name of Rome.
Lead to the sea again the pirate bands;
Rouse Egypt's kings; Tigranes, wholly mine,
And Pharnaces and all the vagrant tribes
Of both Armenias; and the Pontic hordes,
Warlike and fierce; the dwellers on the hills
Rhipaean, and by that dead northern marsh
Whose frozen surface bears the loaded wain.
Why further stay thee? Let the eastern world
Sound with the war, all cities of the earth
Conquered by me, as vassals, to my camp
Send all their levied hosts. And you whose names
Within the Latian book recorded stand,
Strike for Epirus with the northern wind;
And thence in Greece and Macedonian tracts,
(While winter gives us peace) new strength acquire
For coming conflicts.' They obey his words
And loose their ships and launch upon the main.
But Caesar's might, intolerant of peace
Or lengthy armistice, lest now perchance
The fates might change their edicts, swift pursued
The footsteps of his foe. To other men,
So many cities taken at a blow,
So many strongholds captured, might suffice;
And Rome herself, the mistress of the world,
Lay at his feet, the greatest prize of all.
Not so with Caesar: instant on the goal
He fiercely presses; thinking nothing done
While aught remained to do. Now in his grasp
Lay all Italia; -- but while Magnus stayed
Upon the utmost shore, his grieving soul
Deemed all was shared with him. Yet he essayed
Escape to hinder, and with labour vain
Piled in the greedy main gigantic rocks:
Mountains of earth down to the sandy depths
Were swallowed by the vortex of the sea;
Just as if Eryx and its lofty top
Were cast into the deep, yet not a speck
Should mark the watery plain; or Gaurus huge
Split from his summit to his base, were plunged
In fathomless Avernus' stagnant pool.
The billows thus unstemmed, 'twas Caesar's will
To hew the stately forests and with trees
Enchained to form a rampart. Thus of old
(If fame be true) the boastful Persian king
Prepared a way across the rapid strait
'Twixt Sestos and Abydos, and made one
The European and the Trojan shores;
And marched upon the waters, wind and storm
Counting as nought, but trusting his emprise
To one frail bridge, so that his ships might pass
Through middle Athos. Thus a mighty mole
Of fallen forests grew upon the waves,
Free until then, and lofty turrets rose,
And land usurped the entrance to the main.
This when Pompeius saw, with anxious care
His soul was filled; yet hoping to regain
The exit lost, and win a wider world
Wherein to wage the war, on chosen ships
He hoists the sails; these, driven by the wind
And drawn by cables fastened to their prows,
Scattered the beams asunder; and at night
Not seldom engines, worked by stalwart arms,
Flung flaming torches forth. But when the time
For secret flight was come, no sailor shout
Rang on the shore, no trumpet marked the hour,
No bugle called the armament to sea.
Already shone the Virgin in the sky
Leading the Scorpion in her course, whose claws
Foretell the rising Sun, when noiseless all
They cast the vessels loose; no song was heard
To greet the anchor wrenched from stubborn sand;
No captain's order, when the lofty mast
Was raised, or yards were bent; a silent crew
Drew down the sails which hung upon the ropes,
Nor shook the mighty cables, lest the wind
Should sound upon them. But the chief, in prayer,
Thus spake to Fortune: 'Thou whose high decree
Has made us exiles from Italia's shores,
Grant us at least to leave them.' Yet the fates
Hardly permitted, for a murmur vast
Came from the ocean, as the countless keels
Furrowed the waters, and with ceaseless splash
The parted billows rose again and fell.
Then were the gates thrown wide; for with the fates
The city turned to Caesar: and the foe,
Seizing the town, rushed onward by the pier
That circled in the harbour; then they knew
With shame and sorrow that the fleet was gone
And held the open: and Pompeius' flight
Gave a poor triumph.
Yet was narrower far
The channel which gave access to the sea
Than that Euboean strait whose waters lave
The shore by Chalcis. Here two ships stuck fast
Alone, of all the fleet; the fatal hook
Grappled their decks and drew them to the land,
And the first bloodshed of the civil war
Here left a blush upon the ocean wave.
As when the famous ship sought Phasis' stream
The rocky gates closed in and hardly gripped
Her flying stern; then from the empty sea
The cliffs rebounding to their ancient seat
Were fixed to move no more. But now the steps
Of morn approaching tinged the eastern sky
With roseate hues: the Pleiades were dim,
The wagon of the Charioteer grew pale,
The planets faded, and the silvery star
Which ushers in the day, was lost in light.
Then Magnus, hold'st the deep; yet not the same
Now are thy fates, as when from every sea
Thy fleet triumphant swept the pirate pest.
Tired of thy conquests, Fortune now no more
Shall smile upon thee. With thy spouse and sons,
Thy household gods, and peoples in thy train,
Still great in exile, in a distant land
Thou seek'st thy fated fall; not that the gods,
Wishing to rob thee of a Roman grave,
Decreed the strands of Egypt for thy tomb:
'Twas Italy they spared, that far away
Fortune on shores remote might hide her crime,
And Roman soil be pure of Magnus' blood.
Don Juan: Canto The Sixth
'There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which,--taken at the flood,'--you know the rest,
And most of us have found it now and then;
At least we think so, though but few have guess'd
The moment, till too late to come again.
But no doubt every thing is for the best-
Of which the surest sign is in the end:
When things are at the worst they sometimes mend.
There is a tide in the affairs of women
Which, taken at the flood, leads- God knows where:
Those navigators must be able seamen
Whose charts lay down its current to a hair;
Not all the reveries of Jacob Behmen
With its strange whirls and eddies can compare:
Men with their heads reflect on this and that-
But women with their hearts on heaven knows what!
And yet a headlong, headstrong, downright she,
Young, beautiful, and daring- who would risk
A throne, the world, the universe, to be
Beloved in her own way, and rather whisk
The stars from out the sky, than not be free
As are the billows when the breeze is brisk-
Though such a she 's a devil (if that there be one),
Yet she would make full many a Manichean.
Thrones, worlds, et cetera, are so oft upset
By commonest ambition, that when passion
O'erthrows the same, we readily forget,
Or at the least forgive, the loving rash one.
If Antony be well remember'd yet,
'T is not his conquests keep his name in fashion,
But Actium, lost for Cleopatra's eyes,
Outbalances all Caesar's victories.
He died at fifty for a queen of forty;
I wish their years had been fifteen and twenty,
For then wealth, kingdoms, worlds are but a sport- I
Remember when, though I had no great plenty
Of worlds to lose, yet still, to pay my court, I
Gave what I had- a heart: as the world went, I
Gave what was worth a world; for worlds could never
Restore me those pure feelings, gone forever.
'T was the boy's 'mite,' and, like the 'widow's,' may
Perhaps be weigh'd hereafter, if not now;
But whether such things do or do not weigh,
All who have loved, or love, will still allow
Life has nought like it. God is love, they say,
And Love 's a god, or was before the brow
Of earth was wrinkled by the sins and tears
Of- but Chronology best knows the years.
We left our hero and third heroine in
A kind of state more awkward than uncommon,
For gentlemen must sometimes risk their skin
For that sad tempter, a forbidden woman:
Sultans too much abhor this sort of sin,
And don't agree at all with the wise Roman,
Heroic, stoic Cato, the sententious,
Who lent his lady to his friend Hortensius.
I know Gulbeyaz was extremely wrong;
I own it, I deplore it, I condemn it;
But I detest all fiction even in song,
And so must tell the truth, howe'er you blame it.
Her reason being weak, her passions strong,
She thought that her lord's heart (even could she claim it)
Was scarce enough; for he had fifty-nine
Years, and a fifteen-hundredth concubine.
I am not, like Cassio, 'an arithmetician,'
But by 'the bookish theoric' it appears,
If 't is summ'd up with feminine precision,
That, adding to the account his Highness' years,
The fair Sultana err'd from inanition;
For, were the Sultan just to all his dears,
She could but claim the fifteen-hundredth part
Of what should be monopoly- the heart.
It is observed that ladies are litigious
Upon all legal objects of possession,
And not the least so when they are religious,
Which doubles what they think of the transgression:
With suits and prosecutions they besiege us,
As the tribunals show through many a session,
When they suspect that any one goes shares
In that to which the law makes them sole heirs.
Now, if this holds good in a Christian land,
The heathen also, though with lesser latitude,
Are apt to carry things with a high hand,
And take what kings call 'an imposing attitude,'
And for their rights connubial make a stand,
When their liege husbands treat them with ingratitude:
And as four wives must have quadruple claims,
The Tigris hath its jealousies like Thames.
Gulbeyaz was the fourth, and (as I said)
The favourite; but what 's favour amongst four?
Polygamy may well be held in dread,
Not only as a sin, but as a bore:
Most wise men, with one moderate woman wed,
Will scarcely find philosophy for more;
And all (except Mahometans) forbear
To make the nuptial couch a 'Bed of Ware.'
His Highness, the sublimest of mankind,-
So styled according to the usual forms
Of every monarch, till they are consign'd
To those sad hungry jacobins the worms,
Who on the very loftiest kings have dined,-
His Highness gazed upon Gulbeyaz' charms,
Expecting all the welcome of a lover
(A 'Highland welcome' all the wide world over).
Now here we should distinguish; for howe'er
Kisses, sweet words, embraces, and all that,
May look like what is- neither here nor there,
They are put on as easily as a hat,
Or rather bonnet, which the fair sex wear,
Trimm'd either heads or hearts to decorate,
Which form an ornament, but no more part
Of heads, than their caresses of the heart.
A slight blush, a soft tremor, a calm kind
Of gentle feminine delight, and shown
More in the eyelids than the eyes, resign'd
Rather to hide what pleases most unknown,
Are the best tokens (to a modest mind)
Of love, when seated on his loveliest throne,
A sincere woman's breast,- for over-warm
Or over-cold annihilates the charm.
For over-warmth, if false, is worse than truth;
If true, 't is no great lease of its own fire;
For no one, save in very early youth,
Would like (I think) to trust all to desire,
Which is but a precarious bond, in sooth,
And apt to be transferr'd to the first buyer
At a sad discount: while your over chilly
Women, on t' other hand, seem somewhat silly.
That is, we cannot pardon their bad taste,
For so it seems to lovers swift or slow,
Who fain would have a mutual flame confess'd,
And see a sentimental passion glow,
Even were St. Francis' paramour their guest,
In his monastic concubine of snow;-
In short, the maxim for the amorous tribe is
Horatian, 'Medio tu tutissimus ibis.'
The 'tu' 's too much,- but let it stand,- the verse
Requires it, that 's to say, the English rhyme,
And not the pink of old hexameters;
But, after all, there 's neither tune nor time
In the last line, which cannot well be worse,
And was thrust in to close the octave's chime:
I own no prosody can ever rate it
As a rule, but truth may, if you translate it.
If fair Gulbeyaz overdid her part,
I know not- it succeeded, and success
Is much in most things, not less in the heart
Than other articles of female dress.
Self-love in man, too, beats all female art;
They lie, we lie, all lie, but love no less;
And no one virtue yet, except starvation,
Could stop that worst of vices- propagation.
We leave this royal couple to repose:
A bed is not a throne, and they may sleep,
Whate'er their dreams be, if of joys or woes:
Yet disappointed joys are woes as deep
As any man's day mixture undergoes.
Our least of sorrows are such as we weep;
'T is the vile daily drop on drop which wears
The soul out (like the stone) with petty cares.
A scolding wife, a sullen son, a bill
To pay, unpaid, protested, or discounted
At a per-centage; a child cross, dog ill,
A favourite horse fallen lame just as he 's mounted,
A bad old woman making a worse will,
Which leaves you minus of the cash you counted
As certain;- these are paltry things, and yet
I 've rarely seen the man they did not fret.
I 'm a philosopher; confound them all!
Bills, beasts, and men, and- no! not womankind!
With one good hearty curse I vent my gall,
And then my stoicism leaves nought behind
Which it can either pain or evil call,
And I can give my whole soul up to mind;
Though what is soul or mind, their birth or growth,
Is more than I know- the deuce take them both!
As after reading Athanasius' curse,
Which doth your true believer so much please:
I doubt if any now could make it worse
O'er his worst enemy when at his knees,
'T is so sententious, positive, and terse,
And decorates the book of Common Prayer,
As doth a rainbow the just clearing air.
Gulbeyaz and her lord were sleeping, or
At least one of them!- Oh, the heavy night,
When wicked wives, who love some bachelor,
Lie down in dudgeon to sigh for the light
Of the gray morning, and look vainly for
Its twinkle through the lattice dusky quite-
To toss, to tumble, doze, revive, and quake
Lest their too lawful bed-fellow should wake!
These are beneath the canopy of heaven,
Also beneath the canopy of beds
Four-posted and silk curtain'd, which are given
For rich men and their brides to lay their heads
Upon, in sheets white as what bards call 'driven
Snow.' Well! 't is all hap-hazard when one weds.
Gulbeyaz was an empress, but had been
Perhaps as wretched if a peasant's quean.
Don Juan in his feminine disguise,
With all the damsels in their long array,
Had bow'd themselves before th' imperial eyes,
And at the usual signal ta'en their way
Back to their chambers, those long galleries
In the seraglio, where the ladies lay
Their delicate limbs; a thousand bosoms there
Beating for love, as the caged bird's for air.
I love the sex, and sometimes would reverse
The tyrant's wish, 'that mankind only had
One neck, which he with one fell stroke might pierce:'
My wish is quite as wide, but not so bad,
And much more tender on the whole than fierce;
It being (not now, but only while a lad)
That womankind had but one rosy mouth,
To kiss them all at once from North to South.
Oh, enviable Briareus! with thy hands
And heads, if thou hadst all things multiplied
In such proportion!- But my Muse withstands
The giant thought of being a Titan's bride,
Or travelling in Patagonian lands;
So let us back to Lilliput, and guide
Our hero through the labyrinth of love
In which we left him several lines above.
He went forth with the lovely Odalisques,
At the given signal join'd to their array;
And though he certainly ran many risks,
Yet he could not at times keep, by the way
(Although the consequences of such frisks
Are worse than the worst damages men pay
In moral England, where the thing 's a tax),
From ogling all their charms from breasts to backs.
Still he forgot not his disguise:- along
The galleries from room to room they walk'd,
A virgin-like and edifying throng,
By eunuchs flank'd; while at their head there stalk'd
A dame who kept up discipline among
The female ranks, so that none stirr'd or talk'd
Without her sanction on their she-parades:
Her title was 'the Mother of the Maids.'
Whether she was a 'mother,' I know not,
Or whether they were 'maids' who call'd her mother;
But this is her seraglio title, got
I know not how, but good as any other;
So Cantemir can tell you, or De Tott:
Her office was to keep aloof or smother
All bad propensities in fifteen hundred
Young women, and correct them when they blunder'd.
A goodly sinecure, no doubt! but made
More easy by the absence of all men-
Except his majesty, who, with her aid,
And guards, and bolts, and walls, and now and then
A slight example, just to cast a shade
Along the rest, contrived to keep this den
Of beauties cool as an Italian convent,
Where all the passions have, alas! but one vent.
And what is that? Devotion, doubtless- how
Could you ask such a question?- but we will
Continue. As I said, this goodly row
Of ladies of all countries at the will
Of one good man, with stately march and slow,
Like water-lilies floating down a rill-
Or rather lake, for rills do not run slowly-
Paced on most maiden-like and melancholy.
But when they reach'd their own apartments, there,
Like birds, or boys, or bedlamites broke loose,
Waves at spring-tide, or women anywhere
When freed from bonds (which are of no great use
After all), or like Irish at a fair,
Their guards being gone, and as it were a truce
Establish'd between them and bondage, they
Began to sing, dance, chatter, smile, and play.
Their talk, of course, ran most on the new comer;
Her shape, her hair, her air, her everything:
Some thought her dress did not so much become her,
Or wonder'd at her ears without a ring;
Some said her years were getting nigh their summer,
Others contended they were but in spring;
Some thought her rather masculine in height,
While others wish'd that she had been so quite.
But no one doubted on the whole, that she
Was what her dress bespoke, a damsel fair,
And fresh, and 'beautiful exceedingly,'
Who with the brightest Georgians might compare:
They wonder'd how Gulbeyaz, too, could be
So silly as to buy slaves who might share
(If that his Highness wearied of his bride)
Her throne and power, and every thing beside.
But what was strangest in this virgin crew,
Although her beauty was enough to vex,
After the first investigating view,
They all found out as few, or fewer, specks
In the fair form of their companion new,
Than is the custom of the gentle sex,
When they survey, with Christian eyes or Heathen,
In a new face 'the ugliest creature breathing.'
And yet they had their little jealousies,
Like all the rest; but upon this occasion,
Whether there are such things as sympathies
Without our knowledge or our approbation,
Although they could not see through his disguise,
All felt a soft kind of concatenation,
Like magnetism, or devilism, or what
You please- we will not quarrel about that:
But certain 't is they all felt for their new
Companion something newer still, as 't were
A sentimental friendship through and through,
Extremely pure, which made them all concur
In wishing her their sister, save a few
Who wish'd they had a brother just like her,
Whom, if they were at home in sweet Circassia,
They would prefer to Padisha or Pacha.
Of those who had most genius for this sort
Of sentimental friendship, there were three,
Lolah, Katinka, and Dudu; in short
(To save description), fair as fair can be
Were they, according to the best report,
Though differing in stature and degree,
And clime and time, and country and complexion;
They all alike admired their new connection.
Lolah was dusk as India and as warm;
Katinka was a Georgian, white and red,
With great blue eyes, a lovely hand and arm,
And feet so small they scarce seem'd made to tread,
But rather skim the earth; while Dudu's form
Look'd more adapted to be put to bed,
Being somewhat large, and languishing, and lazy,
Yet of a beauty that would drive you crazy.
A kind of sleepy Venus seem'd Dudu,
Yet very fit to 'murder sleep' in those
Who gazed upon her cheek's transcendent hue,
Her Attic forehead, and her Phidian nose:
Few angles were there in her form, 't is true,
Thinner she might have been, and yet scarce lose;
Yet, after all, 't would puzzle to say where
It would not spoil some separate charm to pare.
She was not violently lively, but
Stole on your spirit like a May-day breaking;
Her eyes were not too sparkling, yet, half-shut,
They put beholders in a tender taking;
She look'd (this simile 's quite new) just cut
From marble, like Pygmalion's statue waking,
The mortal and the marble still at strife,
And timidly expanding into life.
Lolah demanded the new damsel's name-
'Juanna.'- Well, a pretty name enough.
Katinka ask'd her also whence she came-
'From Spain.'- 'But where is Spain?'- 'Don't ask such stuff,
Nor show your Georgian ignorance- for shame!'
Said Lolah, with an accent rather rough,
To poor Katinka: 'Spain 's an island near
Morocco, betwixt Egypt and Tangier.'
Dudu said nothing, but sat down beside
Juanna, playing with her veil or hair;
And looking at her steadfastly, she sigh'd,
As if she pitied her for being there,
A pretty stranger without friend or guide,
And all abash'd, too, at the general stare
Which welcomes hapless strangers in all places,
With kind remarks upon their mien and faces.
But here the Mother of the Maids drew near,
With, 'Ladies, it is time to go to rest.
I 'm puzzled what to do with you, my dear,'
She added to Juanna, their new guest:
'Your coming has been unexpected here,
And every couch is occupied; you had best
Partake of mine; but by to-morrow early
We will have all things settled for you fairly.'
Here Lolah interposed- 'Mamma, you know
You don't sleep soundly, and I cannot bear
That anybody should disturb you so;
I 'll take Juanna; we 're a slenderer pair
Than you would make the half of;- don't say no;
And I of your young charge will take due care.'
But here Katinka interfered, and said,
'She also had compassion and a bed.
'Besides, I hate to sleep alone,' quoth she.
The matron frown'd: 'Why so?'- 'For fear of ghosts,'
Replied Katinka; 'I am sure I see
A phantom upon each of the four posts;
And then I have the worst dreams that can be,
Of Guebres, Giaours, and Ginns, and Gouls in hosts.'
The dame replied, 'Between your dreams and you,
I fear Juanna's dreams would be but few.
'You, Lolah, must continue still to lie
Alone, for reasons which don't matter; you
The same, Katinka, until by and by;
And I shall place Juanna with Dudu,
Who 's quiet, inoffensive, silent, shy,
And will not toss and chatter the night through.
What say you, child?'- Dudu said nothing, as
Her talents were of the more silent class;
But she rose up, and kiss'd the matron's brow
Between the eyes, and Lolah on both cheeks,
Katinka, too; and with a gentle bow
(Curt'sies are neither used by Turks nor Greeks)
She took Juanna by the hand to show
Their place of rest, and left to both their piques,
The others pouting at the matron's preference
Of Dudu, though they held their tongues from deference.
It was a spacious chamber (Oda is
The Turkish title), and ranged round the wall
Were couches, toilets- and much more than this
I might describe, as I have seen it all,
But it suffices- little was amiss;
'T was on the whole a nobly furnish'd hall,
With all things ladies want, save one or two,
And even those were nearer than they knew.
Dudu, as has been said, was a sweet creature,
Not very dashing, but extremely winning,
With the most regulated charms of feature,
Which painters cannot catch like faces sinning
Against proportion- the wild strokes of nature
Which they hit off at once in the beginning,
Full of expression, right or wrong, that strike,
And pleasing or unpleasing, still are like.
But she was a soft landscape of mild earth,
Where all was harmony, and calm, and quiet,
Luxuriant, budding; cheerful without mirth,
Which, if not happiness, is much more nigh it
Than are your mighty passions and so forth,
Which some call 'the sublime:' I wish they 'd try it:
I 've seen your stormy seas and stormy women,
And pity lovers rather more than seamen.
But she was pensive more than melancholy,
And serious more than pensive, and serene,
It may be, more than either- not unholy
Her thoughts, at least till now, appear to have been.
The strangest thing was, beauteous, she was wholly
Unconscious, albeit turn'd of quick seventeen,
That she was fair, or dark, or short, or tall;
She never thought about herself at all.
And therefore was she kind and gentle as
The Age of Gold (when gold was yet unknown,
By which its nomenclature came to pass;
Thus most appropriately has been shown
'Lucus a non lucendo,' not what was,
But what was not; a sort of style that 's grown
Extremely common in this age, whose metal
The devil may decompose, but never settle:
I think it may be of 'Corinthian Brass,'
Which was a mixture of all metals, but
The brazen uppermost). Kind reader! pass
This long parenthesis: I could not shut
It sooner for the soul of me, and class
My faults even with your own! which meaneth, Put
A kind construction upon them and me:
But that you won't- then don't- I am not less free.
'T is time we should return to plain narration,
And thus my narrative proceeds:- Dudu,
With every kindness short of ostentation,
Show'd Juan, or Juanna, through and through
This labyrinth of females, and each station
Described- what 's strange- in words extremely few:
I have but one simile, and that 's a blunder,
For wordless woman, which is silent thunder.
And next she gave her (I say her, because
The gender still was epicene, at least
In outward show, which is a saving clause)
An outline of the customs of the East,
With all their chaste integrity of laws,
By which the more a haram is increased,
The stricter doubtless grow the vestal duties
Of any supernumerary beauties.
And then she gave Juanna a chaste kiss:
Dudu was fond of kissing- which I 'm sure
That nobody can ever take amiss,
Because 't is pleasant, so that it be pure,
And between females means no more than this-
That they have nothing better near, or newer.
'Kiss' rhymes to 'bliss' in fact as well as verse-
I wish it never led to something worse.
In perfect innocence she then unmade
Her toilet, which cost little, for she was
A child of Nature, carelessly array'd:
If fond of a chance ogle at her glass,
'T was like the fawn, which, in the lake display'd,
Beholds her own shy, shadowy image pass,
When first she starts, and then returns to peep,
Admiring this new native of the deep.
And one by one her articles of dress
Were laid aside; but not before she offer'd
Her aid to fair Juanna, whose excess
Of modesty declined the assistance proffer'd:
Which pass'd well off- as she could do no less;
Though by this politesse she rather suffer'd,
Pricking her fingers with those cursed pins,
Which surely were invented for our sins,-
Making a woman like a porcupine,
Not to be rashly touch'd. But still more dread,
Oh ye! whose fate it is, as once 't was mine,
In early youth, to turn a lady's maid;-
I did my very boyish best to shine
In tricking her out for a masquerade;
The pins were placed sufficiently, but not
Stuck all exactly in the proper spot.
But these are foolish things to all the wise,
And I love wisdom more than she loves me;
My tendency is to philosophise
On most things, from a tyrant to a tree;
But still the spouseless virgin Knowledge flies.
What are we? and whence came we? what shall be
Our ultimate existence? what 's our present?
Are questions answerless, and yet incessant.
There was deep silence in the chamber: dim
And distant from each other burn'd the lights,
And slumber hover'd o'er each lovely limb
Of the fair occupants: if there be sprites,
They should have walk'd there in their sprightliest trim,
By way of change from their sepulchral sites,
And shown themselves as ghosts of better taste
Than haunting some old ruin or wild waste.
Many and beautiful lay those around,
Like flowers of different hue, and dime, and root,
In some exotic garden sometimes found,
With cost, and care, and warmth induced to shoot.
One with her auburn tresses lightly bound,
And fair brows gently drooping, as the fruit
Nods from the tree, was slumbering with soft breath,
And lips apart, which show'd the pearls beneath.
One with her flush'd cheek laid on her white arm,
And raven ringlets gather'd in dark crowd
Above her brow, lay dreaming soft and warm;
And smiling through her dream, as through a cloud
The moon breaks, half unveil'd each further charm,
As, slightly stirring in her snowy shroud,
Her beauties seized the unconscious hour of night
All bashfully to struggle into light.
This is no bull, although it sounds so; for
'T was night, but there were lamps, as hath been said.
A third's all pallid aspect offer'd more
The traits of sleeping sorrow, and betray'd
Through the heaved breast the dream of some far shore
Beloved and deplored; while slowly stray'd
(As night-dew, on a cypress glittering, tinges
The black bough) tear-drops through her eyes' dark fringes.
A fourth as marble, statue-like and still,
Lay in a breathless, hush'd, and stony sleep;
White, cold, and pure, as looks a frozen rill,
Or the snow minaret on an Alpine steep,
Or Lot's wife done in salt,- or what you will;-
My similes are gather'd in a heap,
So pick and choose- perhaps you 'll be content
With a carved lady on a monument.
And lo! a fifth appears;- and what is she?
A lady of a 'certain age,' which means
Certainly aged- what her years might be
I know not, never counting past their teens;
But there she slept, not quite so fair to see,
As ere that awful period intervenes
Which lays both men and women on the shelf,
To meditate upon their sins and self.
But all this time how slept, or dream'd, Dudu?
With strict inquiry I could ne'er discover,
And scorn to add a syllable untrue;
But ere the middle watch was hardly over,
Just when the fading lamps waned dim and blue,
And phantoms hover'd, or might seem to hover,
To those who like their company, about
The apartment, on a sudden she scream'd out:
And that so loudly, that upstarted all
The Oda, in a general commotion:
Matron and maids, and those whom you may call
Neither, came crowding like the waves of ocean,
One on the other, throughout the whole hall,
All trembling, wondering, without the least notion
More than I have myself of what could make
The calm Dudu so turbulently wake.
But wide awake she was, and round her bed,
With floating draperies and with flying hair,
With eager eyes, and light but hurried tread,
And bosoms, arms, and ankles glancing bare,
And bright as any meteor ever bred
By the North Pole,- they sought her cause of care,
For she seem'd agitated, flush'd, and frighten'd,
Her eye dilated and her colour heighten'd.
But what was strange- and a strong proof how great
A blessing is sound sleep- Juanna lay
As fast as ever husband by his mate
In holy matrimony snores away.
Not all the clamour broke her happy state
Of slumber, ere they shook her,- so they say
At least,- and then she, too, unclosed her eyes,
And yawn'd a good deal with discreet surprise.
And now commenced a strict investigation,
Which, as all spoke at once and more than once,
Conjecturing, wondering, asking a narration,
Alike might puzzle either wit or dunce
To answer in a very clear oration.
Dudu had never pass'd for wanting sense,
But, being 'no orator as Brutus is,'
Could not at first expound what was amiss.
At length she said, that in a slumber sound
She dream'd a dream, of walking in a wood-
A 'wood obscure,' like that where Dante found
Himself in at the age when all grow good;
Life's half-way house, where dames with virtue crown'd
Run much less risk of lovers turning rude;
And that this wood was full of pleasant fruits,
And trees of goodly growth and spreading roots;
And in the midst a golden apple grew,-
A most prodigious pippin,- but it hung
Rather too high and distant; that she threw
Her glances on it, and then, longing, flung
Stones and whatever she could pick up, to
Bring down the fruit, which still perversely clung
To its own bough, and dangled yet in sight,
But always at a most provoking height;-
That on a sudden, when she least had hope,
It fell down of its own accord before
Her feet; that her first movement was to stoop
And pick it up, and bite it to the core;
That just as her young lip began to ope
Upon the golden fruit the vision bore,
A bee flew out and stung her to the heart,
And so- she awoke with a great scream and start.
All this she told with some confusion and
Dismay, the usual consequence of dreams
Of the unpleasant kind, with none at hand
To expound their vain and visionary gleams.
I 've known some odd ones which seem'd really plann'd
Prophetically, or that which one deems
A 'strange coincidence,' to use a phrase
By which such things are settled now-a-days.
The damsels, who had thoughts of some great harm,
Began, as is the consequence of fear,
To scold a little at the false alarm
That broke for nothing on their sleeping car.
The matron, too, was wroth to leave her warm
Bed for the dream she had been obliged to hear,
And chafed at poor Dudu, who only sigh'd,
And said that she was sorry she had cried.
'I 've heard of stories of a cock and bull;
But visions of an apple and a bee,
To take us from our natural rest, and pull
The whole Oda from their beds at half-past three,
Would make us think the moon is at its full.
You surely are unwell, child! we must see,
To-morrow, what his Highness's physician
Will say to this hysteric of a vision.
'And poor Juanna, too- the child's first night
Within these walls to be broke in upon
With such a clamour! I had thought it right
That the young stranger should not lie alone,
And, as the quietest of all, she might
With you, Dudu, a good night's rest have known;
But now I must transfer her to the charge
Of Lolah- though her couch is not so large.'
Lolah's eyes sparkled at the proposition;
But poor Dudu, with large drops in her own,
Resulting from the scolding or the vision,
Implored that present pardon might be shown
For this first fault, and that on no condition
(She added in a soft and piteous tone)
Juanna should be taken from her, and
Her future dreams should all be kept in hand.
She promised never more to have a dream,
At least to dream so loudly as just now;
She wonder'd at herself how she could scream-
'T was foolish, nervous, as she must allow,
A fond hallucination, and a theme
For laughter- but she felt her spirits low,
And begg'd they would excuse her; she 'd get over
This weakness in a few hours, and recover.
And here Juanna kindly interposed,
And said she felt herself extremely well
Where she then was, as her sound sleep disclosed
When all around rang like a tocsin bell:
She did not find herself the least disposed
To quit her gentle partner, and to dwell
Apart from one who had no sin to show,
Save that of dreaming once 'mal-a-propos.'
As thus Juanna spoke, Dudu turn'd round
And hid her face within Juanna's breast:
Her neck alone was seen, but that was found
The colour of a budding rose's crest.
I can't tell why she blush'd, nor can expound
The mystery of this rupture of their rest;
All that I know is, that the facts I state
Are true as truth has ever been of late.
And so good night to them,- or, if you will,
Good morrow- for the cock had crown, and light
Began to clothe each Asiatic hill,
And the mosque crescent struggled into sight
Of the long caravan, which in the chill
Of dewy dawn wound slowly round each height
That stretches to the stony belt, which girds
Asia, where Kaff looks down upon the Kurds.
With the first ray, or rather grey of morn,
Gulbeyaz rose from restlessness; and pale
As passion rises, with its bosom worn,
Array'd herself with mantle, gem, and veil.
The nightingale that sings with the deep thorn,
Which fable places in her breast of wail,
Is lighter far of heart and voice than those
Whose headlong passions form their proper woes.
And that 's the moral of this composition,
If people would but see its real drift;-
But that they will not do without suspicion,
Because all gentle readers have the gift
Of closing 'gainst the light their orbs of vision;
While gentle writers also love to lift
Their voices 'gainst each other, which is natural,
The numbers are too great for them to flatter all.
Rose the sultana from a bed of splendour,
Softer than the soft Sybarite's, who cried
Aloud because his feelings were too tender
To brook a ruffled rose-leaf by his side,-
So beautiful that art could little mend her,
Though pale with conflicts between love and pride;-
So agitated was she with her error,
She did not even look into the mirror.
Also arose about the self-same time,
Perhaps a little later, her great lord,
Master of thirty kingdoms so sublime,
And of a wife by whom he was abhorr'd;
A thing of much less import in that clime-
At least to those of incomes which afford
The filling up their whole connubial cargo-
Than where two wives are under an embargo.
He did not think much on the matter, nor
Indeed on any other: as a man
He liked to have a handsome paramour
At hand, as one may like to have a fan,
And therefore of Circassians had good store,
As an amusement after the Divan;
Though an unusual fit of love, or duty,
Had made him lately bask in his bride's beauty.
And now he rose; and after due ablutions
Exacted by the customs of the East,
And prayers and other pious evolutions,
He drank six cups of coffee at the least,
And then withdrew to hear about the Russians,
Whose victories had recently increased
In Catherine's reign, whom glory still adores,
But oh, thou grand legitimate Alexander!
Her son's son, let not this last phrase offend
Thine ear, if it should reach- and now rhymes wander
Almost as far as Petersburgh and lend
A dreadful impulse to each loud meander
Of murmuring Liberty's wide waves, which blend
Their roar even with the Baltic's- so you be
Your father's son, 't is quite enough for me.
To call men love-begotten or proclaim
Their mothers as the antipodes of Timon,
That hater of mankind, would be a shame,
A libel, or whate'er you please to rhyme on:
But people's ancestors are history's game;
And if one lady's slip could leave a crime on
All generations, I should like to know
What pedigree the best would have to show?
Had Catherine and the sultan understood
Their own true interests, which kings rarely know
Until 't is taught by lessons rather rude,
There was a way to end their strife, although
Perhaps precarious, had they but thought good,
Without the aid of prince or plenipo:
She to dismiss her guards and he his haram,
And for their other matters, meet and share 'em.
But as it was, his Highness had to hold
His daily council upon ways and means
How to encounter with this martial scold,
This modern Amazon and queen of queans;
And the perplexity could not be told
Of all the pillars of the state, which leans
Sometimes a little heavy on the backs
Of those who cannot lay on a new tax.
Meantime Gulbeyaz, when her king was gone,
Retired into her boudoir, a sweet place
For love or breakfast; private, pleasing, lone,
And rich with all contrivances which grace
Those gay recesses:- many a precious stone
Sparkled along its roof, and many a vase
Of porcelain held in the fetter'd flowers,
Those captive soothers of a captive's hours.
Mother of pearl, and porphyry, and marble,
Vied with each other on this costly spot;
And singing birds without were heard to warble;
And the stain'd glass which lighted this fair grot
Varied each ray;- but all descriptions garble
The true effect, and so we had better not
Be too minute; an outline is the best,-
A lively reader's fancy does the rest.
And here she summon'd Baba, and required
Don Juan at his hands, and information
Of what had pass'd since all the slaves retired,
And whether he had occupied their station;
If matters had been managed as desired,
And his disguise with due consideration
Kept up; and above all, the where and how
He had pass'd the night, was what she wish'd to know.
Baba, with some embarrassment, replied
To this long catechism of questions, ask'd
More easily than answer'd,- that he had tried
His best to obey in what he had been task'd;
But there seem'd something that he wish'd to hide,
Which hesitation more betray'd than mask'd;
He scratch'd his ear, the infallible resource
To which embarrass'd people have recourse.
Gulbeyaz was no model of true patience,
Nor much disposed to wait in word or deed;
She liked quick answers in all conversations;
And when she saw him stumbling like a steed
In his replies, she puzzled him for fresh ones;
And as his speech grew still more broken-kneed,
Her cheek began to flush, her eyes to sparkle,
And her proud brow's blue veins to swell and darkle.
When Baba saw these symptoms, which he knew
To bode him no great good, he deprecated
Her anger, and beseech'd she 'd hear him through-
He could not help the thing which he related:
Then out it came at length, that to Dudu
Juan was given in charge, as hath been stated;
But not by Baba's fault, he said, and swore on
The holy camel's hump, besides the Koran.
The chief dame of the Oda, upon whom
The discipline of the whole haram bore,
As soon as they re-enter'd their own room,
For Baba's function stopt short at the door,
Had settled all; nor could he then presume
(The aforesaid Baba) just then to do more,
Without exciting such suspicion as
Might make the matter still worse than it was.
He hoped, indeed he thought, he could be sure
Juan had not betray'd himself; in fact
'T was certain that his conduct had been pure,
Because a foolish or imprudent act
Would not alone have made him insecure,
But ended in his being found out and sack'd,
And thrown into the sea.- Thus Baba spoke
Of all save Dudu's dream, which was no joke.
This he discreetly kept in the background,
And talk'd away- and might have talk'd till now,
For any further answer that he found,
So deep an anguish wrung Gulbeyaz' brow:
Her cheek turn'd ashes, ears rung, brain whirl'd round,
As if she had received a sudden blow,
And the heart's dew of pain sprang fast and chilly
O'er her fair front, like Morning's on a lily.
Although she was not of the fainting sort,
Baba thought she would faint, but there he err'd-
It was but a convulsion, which though short
Can never be described; we all have heard,
And some of us have felt thus 'all amort,'
When things beyond the common have occurr'd;-
Gulbeyaz proved in that brief agony
What she could ne'er express- then how should I?
She stood a moment as a Pythones
Stands on her tripod, agonised, and full
Of inspiration gather'd from distress,
When all the heart-strings like wild horses pull
The heart asunder;- then, as more or lees
Their speed abated or their strength grew dull,
She sunk down on her seat by slow degrees,
And bow'd her throbbing head o'er trembling knees.
Her face declined and was unseen; her hair
Fell in long tresses like the weeping willow,
Sweeping the marble underneath her chair,
Or rather sofa (for it was all pillow,
A low soft ottoman), and black despair
Stirr'd up and down her bosom like a billow,
Which rushes to some shore whose shingles check
Its farther course, but must receive its wreck.
Her head hung down, and her long hair in stooping
Conceal'd her features better than a veil;
And one hand o'er the ottoman lay drooping,
White, waxen, and as alabaster pale:
Would that I were a painter! to be grouping
All that a poet drags into detail
Oh that my words were colours! but their tints
May serve perhaps as outlines or slight hints.
Baba, who knew by experience when to talk
And when to hold his tongue, now held it till
This passion might blow o'er, nor dared to balk
Gulbeyaz' taciturn or speaking will.
At length she rose up, and began to walk
Slowly along the room, but silent still,
And her brow clear'd, but not her troubled eye;
The wind was down, but still the sea ran high.
She stopp'd, and raised her head to speak- but paused,
And then moved on again with rapid pace;
Then slacken'd it, which is the march most caused
By deep emotion:- you may sometimes trace
A feeling in each footstep, as disclosed
By Sallust in his Catiline, who, chased
By all the demons of all passions, show'd
Their work even by the way in which he trode.
Gulbeyaz stopp'd and beckon'd Baba:- 'Slave!
Bring the two slaves!' she said in a low tone,
But one which Baba did not like to brave,
And yet he shudder'd, and seem'd rather prone
To prove reluctant, and begg'd leave to crave
(Though he well knew the meaning) to be shown
What slaves her highness wish'd to indicate,
For fear of any error, like the late.
'The Georgian and her paramour,' replied
The imperial bride- and added, 'Let the boat
Be ready by the secret portal's side:
You know the rest.' The words stuck in her throat,
Despite her injured love and fiery pride;
And of this Baba willingly took note,
And begg'd by every hair of Mahomet's beard,
She would revoke the order he had heard.
'To hear is to obey,' he said; 'but still,
Sultana, think upon the consequence:
It is not that I shall not all fulfil
Your orders, even in their severest sense;
But such precipitation may end ill,
Even at your own imperative expense:
I do not mean destruction and exposure,
In case of any premature disclosure;
'But your own feelings. Even should all the rest
Be hidden by the rolling waves, which hide
Already many a once love-beaten breast
Deep in the caverns of the deadly tide-
You love this boyish, new, seraglio guest,
And if this violent remedy be tried-
Excuse my freedom, when I here assure you,
That killing him is not the way to cure you.'
'What dost thou know of love or feeling?- Wretch!
Begone!' she cried, with kindling eyes- 'and do
My bidding!' Baba vanish'd, for to stretch
His own remonstrance further he well knew
Might end in acting as his own 'Jack Ketch;'
And though he wish'd extremely to get through
This awkward business without harm to others,
He still preferr'd his own neck to another's.
Away he went then upon his commission,
Growling and grumbling in good Turkish phrase
Against all women of whate'er condition,
Especially sultanas and their ways;
Their obstinacy, pride, and indecision,
Their never knowing their own mind two days,
The trouble that they gave, their immorality,
Which made him daily bless his own neutrality.
And then he call'd his brethren to his aid,
And sent one on a summons to the pair,
That they must instantly be well array'd,
And above all be comb'd even to a hair,
And brought before the empress, who had made
Inquiries after them with kindest care:
At which Dudu look'd strange, and Juan silly;
But go they must at once, and will I- nill I.
And here I leave them at their preparation
For the imperial presence, wherein whether
Gulbeyaz show'd them both commiseration,
Or got rid of the parties altogether,
Like other angry ladies of her nation,-
Are things the turning of a hair or feather
May settle; but far be 't from me to anticipate
In what way feminine caprice may dissipate.
I leave them for the present with good wishes,
Though doubts of their well doing, to arrange
Another part of history; for the dishes
Of this our banquet we must sometimes change;
And trusting Juan may escape the fishes,
Although his situation now seems strange
And scarce secure, as such digressions are fair,
The Muse will take a little touch at warfare.