The Playhouse Key

This is the key to the playhouse
In the woods by the pebbly shore,
It's winter now, I wonder if
There's snow about the door?

I wonder if the fir trees tap
Green fingers on the pane,
If sea gulls cry and the roof is wet
And tinkle-y with rain?

I wonder if the flower-sprigged cups
And plates sit on their shelf,
And if my little painted chair
Is rocking by itself?

by Rachel Field.

At The Abbey Theatre

DEAR Craoibhin Aoibhin, look into our case.
When we are high and airy hundreds say
That if we hold that flight they'll leave the place,
While those same hundreds mock another day
Because we have made our art of common things,
So bitterly, you'd dream they longed to look
All their lives through into some drift of wings.
You've dandled them and fed them from the book
And know them to the bone; impart to us --
We'll keep the secret -- a new trick to please.
Is there a bridle for this Proteus
That turns and changes like his draughty seas?
Or is there none, most popular of men,
But when they mock us, that we mock again?

by William Butler Yeats.

Sonnet 23: As An Unperfect Actor On The Stage

As an unperfect actor on the stage
Who with his fear is put beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart,
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love, and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more expressed.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ,
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

by William Shakespeare.

In The Old Theatre, Fiesole (April, 1887)

I traced the Circus whose gray stones incline
Where Rome and dim Etruria interjoin,
Till came a child who showed an ancient coin
That bore the image of a Constantine.

She lightly passed; nor did she once opine
How, better than all books, she had raised for me
In swift perspective Europe's history
Through the vast years of Caesar's sceptred line.

For in my distant plot of English loam
'Twas but to delve, and straightway there to find
Coins of like impress. As with one half blind
Whom common simples cure, her act flashed home
In that mute moment to my opened mind
The power, the pride, the reach of perished Rome.

by Thomas Hardy.

In The Old Theatre, Fiesole.

I traced the Circus whose gray stones incline
Where Rome and dim Etruria interjoin,
Till came a child who showed an ancient coin
That bore the image of a Constantine.

She lightly passed; nor did she once opine
How, better than all books, she had raised for me
In swift perspective Europe's history
Through the vast years of Caesar's sceptred line.

For in my distant plot of English loam
'Twas but to delve, and straightway there to find
Coins of like impress. As with one half blind
Whom common simples cure, her act flashed home
In that mute moment to my opened mind
The power, the pride, the reach of perished Rome.

by Thomas Hardy.

Mae Marsh, Motion Picture Actress

I

The arts are old, old as the stones
From which man carved the sphinx austere.
Deep are the days the old arts bring:
Ten thousand years of yesteryear.


II

She is madonna in an art
As wild and young as her sweet eyes:
A frail dew flower from this hot lamp
That is today's divine surprise.

Despite raw lights and gloating mobs
She is not seared: a picture still:
Rare silk the fine director's hand
May weave for magic if he will.

When ancient films have crumbled like
Papyrus rolls of Egypt's day,
Let the dust speak: "Her pride was high,
All but the artist hid away:

"Kin to the myriad artist clan
Since time began, whose work is dear."
The deep new ages come with her,
Tomorrow's years of yesteryear.

by Vachel Lindsay.

Some one ('tis hardly new) has oddly said
The color of a trumpet's blare is red;
And Joseph Emmett thinks the crimson shame
On woman's cheek a trumpet-note of fame.
The more the red storm rises round her nose
The more her eyes averted seek her toes,
He fancies all the louder he can hear
The tube resounding in his spacious ear,
And, all his varied talents to exert,
Darkens his dullness to display his dirt.
And when the gallery's indecent crowd,
And gentlemen below, with hisses loud,
In hot contention (these his art to crown,
And those his naked nastiness to drown)
Make such a din that cheeks erewhile aflame
Grow white and in their fear forget their shame,
With impudence imperial, sublime,
Unmoved, the patient actor bides his time,
Till storm and counter-storm are both allayed,
Like donkeys, each by t'other one outbrayed.
When all the place is silent as a mouse
One slow, suggestive gesture clears the house!

by Ambrose Bierce.

Prologue For The Women, When They Acted At The Old Theatre, Lincoln's-Inn-Fields

Were none of you, gallants, e'er driven so hard,
As when the poor kind soul was under guard,
And could not do 't at home, in some by-street
To take a lodging, and in private meet?
Such is our case; we can't appoint our house,
The lovers' old and wonted rendezvous,
But hither to this trusty nook remove;
The worse the lodging is, the more the love.
For much good pastime, many a dear sweet hug,
Is stolen in garrets, on the humble rug.
Here's good accommodation in the pit;
The grave demurely in the midst may sit,
And so the hot Burgundian on the side,
Ply vizard mask, and o'er the benches stride:
Here are convenient upper boxes too,
For those that make the most triumphant show;
All, that keep coaches, must not sit below.
There, gallants, you betwixt the acts retire,
And, at dull plays, have something to admire:
We, who look up, can your addresses mark,
And see the creatures coupled in the ark:
So we expect the lovers, braves, and wits;
The gaudy house with scenes will serve for cits.

by John Dryden.

Prologue For The Women, When They Acted At The Old Theatre, Lincoln's-Inn-Fields

Were none of you, gallants, e'er driven so hard,
As when the poor kind soul was under guard,
And could not do 't at home, in some by-street
To take a lodging, and in private meet?
Such is our case; we can't appoint our house,
The lovers' old and wonted rendezvous,
But hither to this trusty nook remove;
The worse the lodging is, the more the love.
For much good pastime, many a dear sweet hug,
Is stolen in garrets, on the humble rug.
Here's good accommodation in the pit;
The grave demurely in the midst may sit,
And so the hot Burgundian on the side,
Ply vizard mask, and o'er the benches stride:
Here are convenient upper boxes too,
For those that make the most triumphant show;
All, that keep coaches, must not sit below.
There, gallants, you betwixt the acts retire,
And, at dull plays, have something to admire:
We, who look up, can your addresses mark,
And see the creatures coupled in the ark:
So we expect the lovers, braves, and wits;
The gaudy house with scenes will serve for cits.

by John Dryden.

To An Unfortunate Woman At The Theatre

Maiden, that with sullen brow
Sitt'st behind those virgins gay,
Like a scorched and mildew'd bough,
Leafless mid the blooms of May.

Him who lured thee and forsook,
Oft I watch'd with angry gaze,
Fearful saw his pleading look,
Anxious heard his fervid phrase.

Soft the glances of the youth,
Soft his speech, and soft his sigh;
But no sound like simple truth,
But no true love in his eye.

Loathing thy polluted lot,
Hie thee, maiden, hie thee hence!
Seek thy weeping mother's cot,
With a wiser innocence.

Thou hast known deceit and folly,
Thou hast felt that vice is woe;
With a musing melancholy,
Inly armed, go, maiden! go.

Mother, sage of self dominion,
Firm thy steps, O melancholy!
The strongest plume in wisdom's pinion
Is the memory of past folly.

Mute the sky-lark and forlorn
While she moults the firstling plumes,
That had skimm'd the tender corn,
Or the bean-field's odorous blooms.

Soon with renovated wing,
Shall she dare a loftier flight,
Upward to the day-star spring,
And embathe in heavenly light.

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

O man, with your wonderful dower,
O woman, with genius and grace,
You can teach the whole world with your power,
If you are but worthy the place.
The stage is a force and a factor
In moulding the thought of the day,
If only the heart of the actor
Is high as the theme of the play.

No discourse or sermon can reach us
Through feeling to reason like you;
No author can stir us and teach us
With lessons as subtle and true.
Your words and your gestures obeying
We weep or rejoice with your part,
And the player, behind all his playing,
He ought to be great at his art.

No matter what role you are giving,
No matter what skill you betray,
The everyday life you are living
Is certain to colour the play.
The thoughts we call secret and hidden
Are creatures of malice, in fact;
They steal forth unseen and unbidden,
And permeate motive and act.

The genius that shines like a comet
Fills only one part of God’s plan,
If the lesson the word derives from it
Is marred by the life of the man.
Be worthy your work if you love it;
The king should be fit for the crown;
Stand high as your art, or above it,
And make us look up and not down.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

An Occasional Prologue, Delivered Previous To The Performance Of 'The Wheel Of Fortune' At A Private Theatre

Since the refinement of this polish'd age
Has swept irnmortal raillery from the stage;
Since taste has now expunged licentious wit,
Which stamp'd disgrace on all an author writ;
Since now to please with purer scenes we seek,
Nor dare to call the blush from Beauty's cheek;
Oh! let the modest Muse some pity claim,
And meet indulgence, though she find not fame.
Still, not for her alone we wish respect,
Others appear more conscious of defect;
To-night no veteran Roscii you behold,
In all the arts of scenic action old;
No Cooke, no Kemble, can salute you here,
No Siddons draw the sympathetic tear;
To-night you throng to witness the début
Of embryo actors, to the Drama new:
Here, then, our almost unfledged wings we try;
Clip not our pinions ere the birds can fly:
Failing in this our first attempt to soar,
Drooping, alas! we fall to rise no more.
Not one poor trembler only fear betrays
Who hopes, yet almost dreads, to meet your praise,
But all our dramatis personæ wait
In fond suspense this crisis of their fate.
No venal views our prosress can retard,
Your generous plaudits are our sole reward.
For these, each Hero all his power displays,
Each timid Heroine shrinks before your gaze.
Surely the last will some protection find;
None to the softer sex can prove unkind
While Youth and Beauty form the female shield,
The sternest censor to the fair must yield.
Yet, should our feeble efforts nought avail,
Should, after all, our best endeavours fail,
Still let some mercy in your bosoms live,
And, if you can't applaud, at le'st forgive.

by George Gordon Byron.

The Burning Of The People's Variety Theatre, Aberdeen

'Twas in the year of 1896, and on the 30th of September,
Which many people in Aberdeen will long remember;
The burning of the People's Variety Theatre, in Bridge Place
Because the fire spread like lightning at a rapid pace.

The fire broke out on the stage, about eight o'clock,
Which gave to the audience a very fearful shock;
Then a stampede ensued, and a rush was made pell-mell,
And in the crush, trying to get out, many people fell.

The stage flies took fire owing to the gas
Not having room enough by them to pass;
And with his jacket Mr. Macaulay tried to put out the flame,
But oh! horrible to relate, it was all in vain.

Detective Innes, who was passing at the time of the fire,
Rendered help in every way the audience could desire,
By helping many of them for to get out,
Which was a heroic action, without any doubt.

Oh! it was a pitiful and fearful sight,
To see both old and young struggling with all their might,
For to escape from that merciless fire,
While it roared and mounted higher and higher.

Oh! it was horrible to hear the cries of that surging crowd,
Yelling and crying for "Help! help!" aloud;
While one old woman did fret and frown
Because her clothes were torn off when knocked down.

A lady and gentleman of the Music Hall company, Monti & Spry,
Managed to make their escape by climbing up very high
To an advertisement board, and smashing the glass of the fanlight,
And squeezed themselves through with a great fight.

But accidents will happen both on sea and land,
And the works of the Almighty is hard to understand;
And thank God there's only a few has fallen victims to the fire,
But I hope they are now in Heaven, amongst the Heavenly choir.

by William Topaz McGonagall.

Prologue To His Royal Highness, Upon His First Appearance At The Duke's Theatre After His Return From Scotland.

In those cold regions which no summers cheer,
Where brooding darkness covers half the year,
To hollow caves the shivering natives go,
Bears range abroad, and hunt in tracks of snow.
But when the tedious twilight wears away,
And stars grow paler at the approach of day,
The longing crowds to frozen mountains run,
Happy who first can see the glimmering sun;
The surly savage offspring disappear,
And curse the bright successor of the year.
Yet, though rough bears in covert seek defence,
White foxes stay, with seeming innocence;
That crafty kind with daylight can dispense.
Still we are thronged so full with Reynard's race,
That loyal subjects scarce can find a place;
Thus modest truth is cast behind the crowd,
Truth speaks too low, hypocrisy too loud.
Let them be first to flatter in success;
Duty can stay, but guilt has need to press.
Once, when true zeal the sons of God did call,
To make their solemn show at heaven's White-hall,
The fawning Devil appeared among the rest,
And made as good a courtier as the best.
The friends of Job, who railed at him before,
Came cap in hand when he had three times more.
Yet late repentance may, perhaps, be true;
Kings can forgive, if rebels can but sue:
A tyrant's power in rigour is exprest;
The father yearns in the true prince's breast.
We grant, an o'ergrown Whig no grace can mend,
But most are babes, that know not they offend;
The crowd, to restless motion still inclined,
Are clouds, that rack according to the wind.
Driven by their chiefs, they storms of hailstones pour,
Then mourn, and soften to a silent shower.
O welcome to this much-offending land,
The prince that brings forgiveness in his hand!
Thus angels on glad messages appear,
Their first salute commands us not to fear;
Thus heaven, that could constrain us to obey,
(With reverence if we might presume to say),
Seems to relax the rights of sovereign sway;
Permits to man the choice of good and ill,
And makes us happy by our own free-will.

by John Dryden.

At A Pantomime. By A Bilious One

An Actor sits in doubtful gloom,
His stock-in-trade unfurled,
In a damp funereal dressing-room
In the Theatre Royal, World.

He comes to town at Christmas-time,
And braves its icy breath,
To play in that favourite pantomime,
HARLEQUIN LIFE AND DEATH.

A hoary flowing wig his weird
Unearthly cranium caps,
He hangs a long benevolent beard
On a pair of empty chaps.

To smooth his ghastly features down
The actor's art he cribs, -
A long and a flowing padded gown.
Bedecks his rattling ribs.

He cries, "Go on - begin, begin!
Turn on the light of lime -
I'm dressed for jolly Old Christmas, in
A favourite pantomime!"

The curtain's up - the stage all black -
Time and the year nigh sped -
Time as an advertising quack -
The Old Year nearly dead.

The wand of Time is waved, and lo!
Revealed Old Christmas stands,
And little children chuckle and crow,
And laugh and clap their hands.

The cruel old scoundrel brightens up
At the death of the Olden Year,
And he waves a gorgeous golden cup,
And bids the world good cheer.

The little ones hail the festive King, -
No thought can make them sad.
Their laughter comes with a sounding ring,
They clap and crow like mad!

They only see in the humbug old
A holiday every year,
And handsome gifts, and joys untold,
And unaccustomed cheer.

The old ones, palsied, blear, and hoar,
Their breasts in anguish beat -
They've seen him seventy times before,
How well they know the cheat!

They've seen that ghastly pantomime,
They've felt its blighting breath,
They know that rollicking Christmas-time
Meant Cold and Want and Death, -

Starvation - Poor Law Union fare -
And deadly cramps and chills,
And illness - illness everywhere,
And crime, and Christmas bills.

They know Old Christmas well, I ween,
Those men of ripened age;
They've often, often, often seen
That Actor off the stage!

They see in his gay rotundity
A clumsy stuffed-out dress -
They see in the cup he waves on high
A tinselled emptiness.

Those aged men so lean and wan,
They've seen it all before,
They know they'll see the charlatan
But twice or three times more.

And so they bear with dance and song,
And crimson foil and green,
They wearily sit, and grimly long
For the Transformation Scene.

by William Schwenck Gilbert.

The Reverend Micah Sowls

The REVEREND MICAH SOWLS,
He shouts and yells and howls,
He screams, he mouths, he bumps,
He foams, he rants, he thumps.

His armour he has buckled on, to wage
The regulation war against the Stage;
And warns his congregation all to shun
"The Presence-Chamber of the Evil One,"

The subject's sad enough
To make him rant and puff,
And fortunately, too,
His Bishop's in a pew.

So REVEREND MICAH claps on extra steam,
His eyes are flashing with superior gleam,
He is as energetic as can be,
For there are fatter livings in that see.

The Bishop, when it's o'er,
Goes through the vestry door,
Where MICAH, very red,
Is mopping of his head.

"Pardon, my Lord, your SOWLS' excessive zeal,
It is a theme on which I strongly feel."
(The sermon somebody had sent him down
From London, at a charge of half-a-crown.)

The Bishop bowed his head,
And, acquiescing, said,
"I've heard your well-meant rage
Against the Modern Stage.

"A modern Theatre, as I heard you say,
Sows seeds of evil broadcast - well it may;
But let me ask you, my respected son,
Pray, have you ever ventured into one?"

"My Lord," said MICAH, "no!
I never, never go!
What! Go and see a play?
My goodness gracious, nay!"

The worthy Bishop said, "My friend, no doubt
The Stage may be the place you make it out;
But if, my REVEREND SOWLS, you never go,
I don't quite understand how you're to know."

"Well, really," MICAH said,
"I've often heard and read,
But never go - do you?"
The Bishop said, "I do."

"That proves me wrong," said MICAH, in a trice:
"I thought it all frivolity and vice."
The Bishop handed him a printed card;
"Go to a theatre where they play our Bard."

The Bishop took his leave,
Rejoicing in his sleeve.
The next ensuing day
SOWLS went and heard a play.

He saw a dreary person on the stage,
Who mouthed and mugged in simulated rage,
Who growled and spluttered in a mode absurd,
And spoke an English SOWLS had never heard.

For "gaunt" was spoken "garnt,"
And "haunt" transformed to "harnt,"
And "wrath " pronounced as "rath,"
And "death" was changed to "dath."

For hours and hours that dismal actor walked,
And talked, and talked, and talked, and talked,
Till lethargy upon the parson crept,
And sleepy MICAH SOWLS serenely slept.

He slept away until
The farce that closed the bill
Had warned him not to stay,
And then he went away.

"I thought MY gait ridiculous," said he -
"MY elocution faulty as could be;
I thought I mumbled on a matchless plan -
I had not seen our great Tragedian!

"Forgive me, if you can,
O great Tragedian!
I own it with a sigh -
You're drearier than I!"

by William Schwenck Gilbert.

Address, Spoken At The Opening Of Drury-Lane Theatre. Saturday, October 10, 1812

In one dread night our city saw, and sigh'd,
Bow'd to the dust, the Drama's tower of pride
In one short hour beheld the blazing fane,
Apollo sink, and Shakspeare cease to reign.

Ye who beheld, (oh! sight admired and mourn'd,
Whose radiance mock'd the ruin it adorn'd!)
Through clouds of fire the massy fragments riven,
Like Israel's pillar, chase the night from heaven;
Saw the long column of revolving flames
Shake its red shadow o'er the startled Thames, While thousands, throng'd around the burning dome,
Shrank back appall'd, and trembled for their home,
As glared the volumed blaze, and ghastly shone
The skies, with lightnings awful as their own,
Till blackening ashes and the lonely wall
Usurp 'd the Muse's realm, and mark'd her fall;
Say - shall this new, nor less aspiring pile,
Rear'd where once rose the mightiest in our isle,
Know the same favour which the former knew,
A shrine for Shakspeare--worthy him and you?

Yes--it shall be--the magic of that name
Defies the scythe of time, the torch of flame;
On the same spot still consecrates the scene,
And bids the Drama be where she hath been:
This fabric's birth attests the potent spell--
Indulge our honest pride, and say, How well!

As soars this fare to emulate the last,
Oh! might we draw our omens from the past,
Some hour propitious to our prayers may boast
Names such as hallow still the dome we lost.
On Drury first your Siddons' thrilling art
O'erwhelm'd the gentlest, storm'd the sternest heart.
On Drury, Garrick's latest laurels grew;
Here your last tears retiring Roscius drew,
Sigh'd his last thanks, and wept his last adieu:
But still for living wit the wreaths may bloom,
That only waste their odours o'er the tomb.
Such Drury claim'd and claims--nor you refuse
One tribute to revive his slumbering muse;
With garlands deck your own Menander's head,
Nor hoard your honours idly for the dead.
Dear are the days which made our annals bright,
Ere Garrick fled, or Brinsley ceased to write.
Heirs to their labours, like all high-born heirs,
Vain of our ancestry as they of theirs;
While thus Remembrance borrows Banquo's glass
To claim the sceptred shadows as they pass,
And we the mirror hold, where imaged shine
Immortal names, emblazon'd on our line,
Pause--ere their feebler offspring you condemn,
Reflect how hard the task to rival them!

Friends of the stage! to whom both Players and Plays
Must sue alike for pardon or for praise.
Whose judging voice and eye alone direct
The boundless power to cherish or reject;
If e'er frivolity has led to fame,
And made us blush that you forbore to blame;
If e'er the sinking stage could condescend
To soothe the sickly taste it dare not mend,
All past reproach may present scenes re­fute,
And censure, wisely loud, be justly mute!
Oh! since your fiat stamps the Drama's laws,
Forbear to mock us with misplaced applause;
So pride shall doubly nerve the actor's powers,
And reason's voice be echo'd back by ours!

This greeting o'er, the ancient rule obey'd
The Drama's homage by her herald paid,
Receive our welcome too, whose every tone
Springs from our hearts, and fair would win your own.
The curtain rises--may our stage unfold
Scenes not unworthy Drury's days of old!
Britons our judges, Nature for our guide,
Still may we please--long, long may you preside.

by George Gordon Byron.

Burning Of The Exeter Theatre

'Twas in the year of 1887, which many people will long remember,
The burning of the Theatre at Exeter on the 5th of September,
Alas! that ever-to-be-remembered and unlucky night,
When one hundred and fifty lost their lives, a most agonising sight.

The play on this night was called "Romany Rye,"
And at act four, scene third, Fire! Fire! was the cry;
And all in a moment flames were seen issuing from the stage,
Then the women screamed frantically, like wild beasts in a cage.

Then a panic ensued, and each one felt dismayed,
And from the burning building a rush was made;
And soon the theatre was filled with a blinding smoke,
So that the people their way out had to grope.

The shrieks of those trying to escape were fearful to hear,
Especially the cries of those who had lost their friends most dear;
Oh, the scene was most painful in the London Inn Square,
To see them wringing their hands and tearing their hair!

And as the flames spread, great havoc they did make,
And the poor souls fought heroically in trying to make their escape;
Oh, it was horrible to see men and women trying to reach the door!
But in many cases death claimed the victory, and their struggles were o'er.

Alas! 'twas pitiful the shrieks of the audience to hear,
Especially as the flames to them drew near;
Because on every face were depicted despair and woe,
And many of them jumped from the windows into the street below.

The crushed and charred bodies were carried into London Hotel yard,
And to alleviate their sufferings the doctors tried hard;
But, alas! their attendance on many was thrown away,
But those that survived were conveyed to Exeter Hospital without delay.

And all those that had their wounds dressed proceeded home,
Accompanied by their friends, and making a loud moan;
While the faces and necks of others were sickening to behold,
Enough to chill one's blood, and make the heart turn cold.

Alas! words fail to describe the desolation,
And in many homes it will cause great lamentation;
Because human remains are beyond all identification,
Which will cause the relatives of the sufferers to be in great tribulation.

Oh, Heaven! it must have been an awful sight,
To see the poor souls struggling hard with all their might,
Fighting hard their lives to save,
While many in the smoke and burning flame did madly rave!

It was the most sickening sight that ever anybody saw,
Human remains, beyond recognition, covered with a heap of straw;
And here and there a body might be seen, and a maimed hand,
Oh, such a sight, that the most hard-hearted person could hardly withstand!

The number of people in the theatre was between seven and eight thousand,
But alas! one hundred and fifty by the fire have been found dead;
And the most lives were lost on the stairs leading from the gallery,
And these were roasted to death, which was sickening to see.

The funerals were conducted at the expense of the local authority,
And two hours and more elapsed at the mournful ceremony;
And at one grave there were two thousand people, a very great crowd,
And most of the men were bareheaded ad weeping aloud.

Alas! many poor children have been bereft of their fathers and mothers,
Who will be sorely missed by little sisters and brothers;
But, alas! unto them they can ne'er return again,
Therefore the poor little innocents must weep for them in vain.

I hope all kind Christian souls will help the friends of the dead,
Especially those that have lost the winners of their bread;
And if they do, God surely will them bless,
Because pure Christianity is to help the widows and orphans in distress.

I am very glad to see Henry Irving has sent a hundred pounds,
And I hope his brother actors will subscribe their mite all round;
And if they do it will add honour to their name,
Because whatever is given towards a good cause they will it regain.

by William Topaz McGonagall.

The Haughty Actor

AN actor - GIBBS, of Drury Lane -
Of very decent station,
Once happened in a part to gain
Excessive approbation:
It sometimes turns a fellow's brain
And makes him singularly vain
When he believes that he receives
Tremendous approbation.

His great success half drove him mad,
But no one seemed to mind him;
Well, in another piece he had
Another part assigned him.
This part was smaller, by a bit,
Than that in which he made a hit.
So, much ill-used, he straight refused
To play the part assigned him.



THAT NIGHT THAT ACTOR SLEPT, AND I'LL ATTEMPT
TO TELL YOU OF THE VIVID DREAM HE DREAMT.


THE DREAM.


In fighting with a robber band
(A thing he loved sincerely)
A sword struck GIBBS upon the hand,
And wounded it severely.
At first he didn't heed it much,
He thought it was a simple touch,
But soon he found the weapon's bound
Had wounded him severely.

To Surgeon COBB he made a trip,
Who'd just effected featly
An amputation at the hip
Particularly neatly.
A rising man was Surgeon COBB
But this extremely ticklish job
He had achieved (as he believed)
Particularly neatly.

The actor rang the surgeon's bell.
"Observe my wounded finger,
Be good enough to strap it well,
And prithee do not linger.
That I, dear sir, may fill again
The Theatre Royal Drury Lane:
This very night I have to fight -
So prithee do not linger."

"I don't strap fingers up for doles,"
Replied the haughty surgeon;
"To use your cant, I don't play ROLES
Utility that verge on.
First amputation - nothing less -
That is my line of business:
We surgeon nobs despise all jobs
Utility that verge on.

"When in your hip there lurks disease"
(So dreamt this lively dreamer),
"Or devastating CARIES
In HUMERUS or FEMUR,
If you can pay a handsome fee,
Oh, then you may remember me -
With joy elate I'll amputate
Your HUMERUS or FEMUR."

The disconcerted actor ceased
The haughty leech to pester,
But when the wound in size increased,
And then began to fester,
He sought a learned Counsel's lair,
And told that Counsel, then and there,
How COBB'S neglect of his defect
Had made his finger fester.

"Oh, bring my action, if you please,
The case I pray you urge on,
And win me thumping damages
From COBB, that haughty surgeon.
He culpably neglected me
Although I proffered him his fee,
So pray come down, in wig and gown,
On COBB, that haughty surgeon!"

That Counsel learned in the laws,
With passion almost trembled.
He just had gained a mighty cause
Before the Peers assembled!
Said he, "How dare you have the face
To come with Common Jury case
To one who wings rhetoric flings
Before the Peers assembled?"

Dispirited became our friend -
Depressed his moral pecker -
"But stay! a thought! - I'll gain my end,
And save my poor exchequer.
I won't be placed upon the shelf,
I'll take it into Court myself,
And legal lore display before
The Court of the Exchequer."

He found a Baron - one of those
Who with our laws supply us -
In wig and silken gown and hose,
As if at NISI PRIUS.
But he'd just given, off the reel,
A famous judgment on Appeal:
It scarce became his heightened fame
To sit at NISI PRIUS.

Our friend began, with easy wit,
That half concealed his terror:
"Pooh!" said the Judge, "I only sit
In BANCO or in Error.
Can you suppose, my man, that I'd
O'er NISI PRIUS Courts preside,
Or condescend my time to spend
On anything but Error?"

"Too bad," said GIBBS, "my case to shirk!
You must be bad innately,
To save your skill for mighty work
Because it's valued greatly!"
But here he woke, with sudden start.



He wrote to say he'd play the part.
I've but to tell he played it well -
The author's words - his native wit
Combined, achieved a perfect "hit" -
The papers praised him greatly.

by William Schwenck Gilbert.

Address Delivered At The Opening Of The New Theatre At Richmond

A Prize Poem


A fairy ring
Drawn in the crimson of a battle-plain --
From whose weird circle every loathsome thing
And sight and sound of pain
Are banished, while about it in the air,
And from the ground, and from the low-hung skies,
Throng, in a vision fair
As ever lit a prophet's dying eyes,
Gleams of that unseen world
That lies about us, rainbow-tinted shapes
With starry wings unfurled,
Poised for a moment on such airy capes
As pierce the golden foam
Of sunset's silent main --
Would image what in this enchanted dome,
Amid the night of war and death
In which the arm|\ed city draws its breath,
We have built up!
For though no wizard wand or magic cup
The spell hath wrought,
Within this charm|'ed fane, we ope the gates
Of that divinest Fairy-land,
Where under loftier fates
Than rule the vulgar earth on which we stand,
Move the bright creatures of the realm of thought.
Shut for one happy evening from the flood
That roars around us, here you may behold --
As if a desert way
Could blossom and unfold
A garden fresh with May --
Substantialized in breathing flesh and blood,
Souls that upon the poet's page
Have lived from age to age,
And yet have never donned this mortal clay.
A golden strand
Shall sometimes spread before you like the isle
Where fair Miranda's smile
Met the sweet stranger whom the father's art
Had led unto her heart,
Which, like a bud that waited for the light,
Burst into bloom at sight!
Love shall grow softer in each maiden's eyes
As Juliet leans her cheek upon her hand,
And prattles to the night.
Anon, a reverend form,
With tattered robe and forehead bare,
That challenge all the torments of the air,
Goes by!
And the pent feelings choke in one long sigh,
While, as the mimic thunder rolls, you hear
The noble wreck of Lear
Reproach like things of life the ancient skies,
And commune with the storm!
Lo! next a dim and silent chamber where,
Wrapt in glad dreams in which, perchance, the Moor
Tells his strange story o'er,
The gentle Desdemona chastely lies,
Unconscious of the loving murderer nigh.
Then through a hush like death
Stalks Denmark's mail|'ed ghost!
And Hamlet enters with that thoughtful breath
Which is the trumpet to a countless host
Of reasons, but which wakes no deed from sleep;
For while it calls to strife,
He pauses on the very brink of fact
To toy as with the shadow of an act,
And utter those wise saws that cut so deep
Into the core of life!

Nor shall be wanting many a scene
Where forms of more familiar mien,
Moving through lowlier pathways, shall present
The world of every day,
Such as it whirls along the busy quay,
Or sits beneath a rustic orchard wall,
Or floats about a fashion-freighted hall,
Or toils in attics dark the night away.
Love, hate, grief, joy, gain, glory, shame, shall meet,
As in the round wherein our lives are pent;
Chance for a while shall seem to reign,
While Goodness roves like Guilt about the street,
And Guilt looks innocent.
But all at last shall vindicate the right,
Crime shall be meted with its proper pain,
Motes shall be taken from the doubter's sight,
And Fortune's general justice rendered plain.
Of honest laughter there shall be no dearth,
Wit shall shake hands with humor grave and sweet,
Our wisdom shall not be too wise for mirth,
Nor kindred follies want a fool to greet.
As sometimes from the meanest spot of earth
A sudden beauty unexpected starts,
So you shall find some germs of hidden worth
Within the vilest hearts;
And now and then, when in those moods that turn
To the cold Muse that whips a fault with sneers,
You shall, perchance, be strangely touched to learn
You've struck a spring of tears!

But while we lead you thus from change to change,
Shall we not find within our ample range
Some type to elevate a people's heart --
Some hero who shall teach a hero's part
In this distracted time?
Rise from thy sleep of ages, noble Tell!
And, with the Alpine thunders of thy voice,
As if across the billows unenthralled
Thy Alps unto the Alleghanies called,
Bid Liberty rejoice!
Proclaim upon this trans-Atlantic strand
The deeds which, more than their own awful mien,
Make every crag of Switzerland sublime!
And say to those whose feeble souls would lean,
Not on themselves, but on some outstretched hand,
That once a single mind sufficed to quell
The malice of a tyrant; let them know
That each may crowd in every well-aimed blow,
Not the poor strength alone of arm and brand,
But the whole spirit of a mighty land!

Bid Liberty rejoice! Aye, though its day
Be far or near, these clouds shall yet be red
With the large promise of the coming ray.
Meanwhile, with that calm courage which can smile
Amid the terrors of the wildest fray,
Let us among the charms of Art awhile
Fleet the deep gloom away;
Nor yet forget that on each hand and head
Rest the dear rights for which we fight and pray.

by Henry Timrod.

The Task: Book Iv, The Winter Evening (Excerpts)

Hark! 'tis the twanging horn! O'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright,
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter'd boots, strapp'd waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumb'ring at his back.
True to his charge, the close-pack'd load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destin'd inn:
And, having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charg'd with am'rous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh th' important budget! usher'd in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awak'd?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg'd,
Snore to the murmurs of th' Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plum'd
And jewell'd turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh--I long to know them all;
I burn to set th' imprison'd wranglers free,
And give them voice and utt'rance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful ev'ning in.
Not such his ev'ning, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeez'd
And bor'd with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquility and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not ev'n critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it, but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?...


Oh winter, ruler of th' inverted year,
Thy scatter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill'd,
Thy breath congeal'd upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring'd with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapp'd in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg'd by storms along its slipp'ry way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun
A pris'ner in the yet undawning east,
Short'ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gath'ring, at short notice, in one group
The family dispers'd, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers'd by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted ev'ning, know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powder'd pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake:
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flow'r,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully dispos'd,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;
A wreath that cannot fade, or flow'rs that blow
With most success when all besides decay.
The poet's or historian's page, by one
Made vocal for th' amusement of the rest;
The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds
The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out;
And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct,
And in the charming strife triumphant still;
Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry: the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and, unfelt, the task proceeds.
The volume clos'd, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal;
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak's domestic shade,
Enjoy'd--spare feast!--a radish and an egg!
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth:
Nor do we madly, like an impious world,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note. Themes of a graver tone,
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with mem'ry's pointing wand,
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliv'rance found
Unlook'd for, life preserv'd and peace restor'd--
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
Oh ev'nings worthy of the gods! exclaim'd
The Sabine bard. Oh ev'nings, I reply,
More to be priz'd and coveted than yours,
As more illumin'd, and with nobler truths.
That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy....

by William Cowper.

A Winter-Evening Hymn To My Fire

I

Beauty on my hearth-stone blazing!
To-night the triple Zoroaster
Shall my prophet be and master;
To-night will I pure Magian be,
Hymns to thy sole honor raising,
While thou leapest fast and faster,
Wild with self-delighted glee,
Or sink'st low and glowest faintly
As an aureole still and saintly,
Keeping cadence to my praising
Thee! still thee! and only thee!


II

Elfish daughter of Apollo!
Thee, from thy father stolen and bound
To serve in Vulcan's clangorous smithy,
Prometheus (primal Yankee) found,
And, when he had tampered with thee,
(Too confiding little maid!)
In a reed's precarious hollow
To our frozen earth conveyed:
For he swore I know not what;
Endless ease should be thy lot,
Pleasure that should never falter,
Lifelong play, and not a duty
Save to hover o'er the altar,
Vision of celestial beauty,
Fed with precious woods and spices;
Then, perfidious! having got
Thee in the net of his devices,
Sold thee into endless slavery,
Made thee a drudge to boil the pot,
Thee, Helios' daughter, who dost bear
His likeness in thy golden hair;
Thee, by nature wild and wavery,
Palpitating, evanescent
As the shade of Dian's crescent,
Life, motion, gladness, everywhere!


III

Fathom deep men bury thee
In the furnace dark and still.
There, with dreariest mockery,
Making thee eat, against thy will,
Blackest Pennsylvanian stone;
But thou dost avenge thy doom,
For, from out thy catacomb,
Day and night thy wrath is blown
In a withering simoom,
And, adown that cavern drear,
Thy black pitfall in the floor,
Staggers the lusty antique cheer,
Despairing, and is seen no more!


IV

Elfish I may rightly name thee;
We enslave, but cannot tame thee;
With fierce snatches, now and then,
Thou pluckest at thy right again,
And thy down-trod instincts savage
To stealthy insurrection creep
While thy wittol masters sleep,
And burst in undiscerning ravage:
Then how thou shak'st thy bacchant locks!
While brazen pulses, far and near,
Throb thick and thicker, wild with fear
And dread conjecture, till the drear
Disordered clangor every steeple rocks!


V

But when we make a friend of thee,
And admit thee to the hall
On our nights of festival,
Then, Cinderella, who could see
In thee the kitchen's stunted thrall?
Once more a Princess lithe and tan,
Thou dancest with a whispering tread,
While the bright marvel of thy head
In crinkling gold floats all abroad,
And gloriously dost vindicate
The legend of thy lineage great,
Earth-exiled daughter of the Pythian god!
Now in the ample chimney-place,
To honor thy acknowledged race,
We crown thee high with laurel good,
Thy shining father's sacred wood,
Which, guessing thy ancestral right,
Sparkles and snaps its dumb delight,
And, at thy touch, poor outcast one,
Feels through its gladdened fibres go
The tingle and thrill and vassal glow
Of instincts loyal to the sun.


VI

O thou of home the guardian Lar,
And, when our earth hath wandered far,
Into the cold, and deep snow covers
The walks of our New England lovers,
Their sweet secluded evening-star!
'Twas with thy rays the English Muse
Ripened her mild domestic hues;
'Twas by thy flicker that she conned
The fireside wisdom that enrings
With light from heaven familiar things;
By thee she found the homely faith
In whose mild eyes thy comfort stay'th
When Death, extinguishing his torch,
Gropes for the latch-string in the porch;
The love that wanders not beyond
His earliest nest, but sits and sings
While children smooth his patient wings;
Therefore with thee I love to read
Our brave old poets; at thy touch how stirs
Life in the withered words: how swift recede
Time's shadows; and how glows again
Through its dead mass the incandescent verse,
As when upon the anvils of the brain
It glittering lay, cyclopically wrought
By the fast-throbbing hammers of the poet's thought!
Thou murmurest, too, divinely stirred,
The aspirations unattained,
The rhythms so rathe and delicate,
They bent and strained
And broke, beneath the sombre weight
Of any airiest mortal word.


VII

What warm protection dost thou bend
Round curtained talk of friend with friend,
While the gray snow-storm, held aloof,
To softest outline rounds the roof,
Or the rude North with baffled strain
Shoulders the frost-starred window-pane!
Now the kind nymph to Bacchus born
By Morpheus' daughter, she that seems
Gifted opon her natal morn
By him with fire, by her with dreams,
Nicotia, dearer to the Muse
Than all the grape's bewildering juice,
We worship, unforbid of thee;
And, as her incense floats and curls
In airy spires and wayward whirls,
Or poises on its tremulous stalk
A flower of frailest revery,
So winds and loiters, idly free,
The current of unguided talk,
Now laughter-rippled, and now caught
In smooth, dark pools of deeper thought.
Meanwhile thou mellowest every word,
A sweetly unobtrusive third;
For thou hast magic beyond wine,
To unlock natures each to each;
The unspoken thought thou canst divine;
Thou fill'st the pauses of the speech
With whispers that to dream-land reach
And frozen fancy-springs unchain
In Arctic outskirts of the brain:
Sun of all inmost confidences,
To thy rays doth the heart unclose
Its formal calyx of pretences,
That close against rude day's offences,
And open its shy midnight rose!


VIII

Thou holdest not the master key
With which thy Sire sets free the mystic gates
Of Past and Future: not for common fates
Do they wide open fling,
And, with a far heard ring,
Swing back their willing valves melodiously;
Only to ceremonial days,
And great processions of imperial song
That set the world at gaze,
Doth such high privilege belong;
But thou a postern-door canst ope
To humbler chambers of the selfsame palace
Where Memory lodges, and her sister Hope,
Whose being is but as a crystal chalice
Which, with her various mood, the elder fills
Of joy or sorrow,
So coloring as she wills
With hues of yesterday the unconscious morrow.


IX

Thou sinkest, and my fancy sinks with thee:
For thee I took the idle shell,
And struck the unused chords again,
But they are gone who listened well;
Some are in heaven, and all are far from me:
Even as I sing, it turns to pain,
And with vain tears my eyelids throb and swell:
Enough; I come not of the race
That hawk their sorrows in the market-place.
Earth stops the ears I best had loved to please;
Then break, ye untuned chords, or rust in peace!
As if a white-haired actor should come back
Some midnight to the theatre void and black,
And there rehearse his youth's great part
Mid thin applauses of the ghosts.
So seems it now: ye crowd upon my heart,
And I bow down in silence, shadowy hosts!

by James Russell Lowell.

Address For The Opening Of The Fifth Avenue Theatre

NEW YORK, DECEMBER 3, 1873

HANG out our banners on the stately tower
It dawns at last--the long-expected hour!
The steep is climbed, the star-lit summit won,
The builder's task, the artist's labor done;
Before the finished work the herald stands,
And asks the verdict of your lips and hands!

Shall rosy daybreak make us all forget
The golden sun that yester-evening set?
Fair was the fabric doomed to pass away
Ere the last headaches born of New Year's Day;
With blasting breath the fierce destroyer came
And wrapped the victim in his robes of flame;
The pictured sky with redder morning blushed,
With scorching streams the naiad's fountain gushed,
With kindling mountains glowed the funeral pyre,
Forests ablaze and rivers all on fire,--
The scenes dissolved, the shrivelling curtain fell,--
Art spread her wings and sighed a long farewell!

Mourn o'er the Player's melancholy plight,--
Falstaff in tears, Othello deadly white,--
Poor Romeo reckoning what his doublet cost,
And Juliet whimpering for her dresses lost,--
Their wardrobes burned, their salaries all undrawn,
Their cues cut short, their occupation gone!

'Lie there in dust,' the red-winged demon cried,
'Wreck of the lordly city's hope and pride!'
Silent they stand, and stare with vacant gaze,
While o'er the embers leaps the fitful blaze;
When, to! a hand, before the startled train,
Writes in the ashes, 'It shall rise again,--
Rise and confront its elemental foes!'
The word was spoken, and the walls arose,
And ere the seasons round their brief career
The new-born temple waits the unborn year.

Ours was the toil of many a weary day
Your smiles, your plaudits, only can repay;
We are the monarchs of the painted scenes,
You, you alone the real Kings and Queens!
Lords of the little kingdom where we meet,
We lay our gilded sceptres at your feet,
Place in your grasp our portal's silvered keys
With one brief utterance: We have tried to please.
Tell us, ye sovereigns of the new domain,
Are you content-or have we toiled in vain?

With no irreverent glances look around
The realm you rule, for this is haunted ground!
Here stalks the Sorcerer, here the Fairy trips,
Here limps the Witch with malice-working lips,
The Graces here their snowy arms entwine,
Here dwell the fairest sisters of the Nine,--
She who, with jocund voice and twinkling eye,
Laughs at the brood of follies as they fly;
She of the dagger and the deadly bowl,
Whose charming horrors thrill the trembling soul;
She who, a truant from celestial spheres,
In mortal semblance now and then appears,
Stealing the fairest earthly shape she can--
Sontag or Nilsson, Lind or Malibran;
With these the spangled houri of the dance,--
What shaft so dangerous as her melting glance,
As poised in air she spurns the earth below,
And points aloft her heavenly-minded toe!

What were our life, with all its rents and seams,
Stripped of its purple robes, our waking dreams?
The poet's song, the bright romancer's page,
The tinselled shows that cheat us on the stage
Lead all our fancies captive at their will;
Three years or threescore, we are children still.
The little listener on his father's knee,
With wandering Sindbad ploughs the stormy sea,
With Gotham's sages hears the billows roll
(Illustrious trio of the venturous bowl,
Too early shipwrecked, for they died too soon
To see their offspring launch the great balloon);
Tracks the dark brigand to his mountain lair,
Slays the grim giant, saves the lady fair,
Fights all his country's battles o'er again
From Bunker's blazing height to Lundy's Lane;
Floats with the mighty captains as they sailed,
Before whose flag the flaming red-cross paled,
And claims the oft-told story of the scars
Scarce yet grown white, that saved the stripes and
stars!

Children of later growth, we love the PLAY,
We love its heroes, be they grave or gay,
From squeaking, peppery, devil-defying Punch
To roaring Richard with his camel-hunch;
Adore its heroines, those immortal dames,
Time's only rivals, whom he never tames,
Whose youth, unchanging, lives while thrones decay
(Age spares the Pyramids-and Dejazet);
The saucy-aproned, razor-tongued soubrette,
The blond-haired beauty with the eyes of jet,
The gorgeous Beings whom the viewless wires
Lift to the skies in strontian-crimsoned fires,
And all the wealth of splendor that awaits
The throng that enters those Elysian gates.

See where the hurrying crowd impatient pours,
With noise of trampling feet and flapping doors,
Streams to the numbered seat each pasteboard fits
And smooths its caudal plumage as it sits;
Waits while the slow musicians saunter in,
Till the bald leader taps his violin;
Till the old overture we know so well,
Zampa or Magic Flute or William Tell,
Has done its worst-then hark! the tinkling bell!
The crash is o'er--the crinkling curtain furled,
And to! the glories of that brighter world!

Behold the offspring of the Thespian cart,
This full-grown temple of the magic art,
Where all the conjurers of illusion meet,
And please us all the more, the more they cheat.
These are the wizards and the witches too
Who win their honest bread by cheating you
With cheeks that drown in artificial tears
And lying skull-caps white with seventy years,
Sweet-tempered matrons changed to scolding Kates,
Maids mild as moonbeams crazed with murderous hates,
Kind, simple souls that stab and slash and slay
And stick at nothing, if it 's in the play!

Would all the world told half as harmless lies!
Would all its real fools were half as wise
As he who blinks through dull Dundreary's eyes I
Would all the unhanged bandits of the age
Were like the peaceful ruffians of the stage!
Would all the cankers wasting town and state,
The mob of rascals, little thieves and great,
Dealers in watered milk and watered stocks,
Who lead us lambs to pasture on the rocks,--
Shepherds--Jack Sheppards--of their city flocks,--
The rings of rogues that rob the luckless town,
Those evil angels creeping up and down
The Jacob's ladder of the treasury stairs,--
Not stage, but real Turpins and Macaires,--
Could doff, like us, their knavery with their clothes,
And find it easy as forgetting oaths!

Welcome, thrice welcome to our virgin dome,
The Muses' shrine, the Drama's new-found home
Here shall the Statesman rest his weary brain,
The worn-out Artist find his wits again;
Here Trade forget his ledger and his cares,
And sweet communion mingle Bulls and Bears;
Here shall the youthful Lover, nestling near
The shrinking maiden, her he holds most dear,
Gaze on the mimic moonlight as it falls
On painted groves, on sliding canvas walls,
And sigh, 'My angel! What a life of bliss
We two could live in such a world as this!'
Here shall the timid pedants of the schools,
The gilded boors, the labor-scorning fools,
The grass-green rustic and the smoke-dried cit,
Feel each in turn the stinging lash of wit,
And as it tingles on some tender part
Each find a balsam in his neighbor's smart;
So every folly prove a fresh delight
As in the picture of our play to-night.

Farewell! The Players wait the Prompter's call;
Friends, lovers, listeners! Welcome one and all!

by Oliver Wendell Holmes.


EARTH, round, rolling, compact--suns, moons, animals--all these are
words to be said;
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances--beings, premonitions, lispings
of the future,
Behold! these are vast words to be said.

Were you thinking that those were the words--those upright lines?
those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words--the substantial words are in the ground
and sea,
They are in the air--they are in you.

Were you thinking that those were the words--those delicious sounds
out of your friends' mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

Human bodies are words, myriads of words;
In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's, well-shaped,
natural, gay, 10
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of
shame.


Air, soil, water, fire--these are words;
I myself am a word with them--my qualities interpenetrate with
theirs--my name is nothing to them;
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would air,
soil, water, fire, know of my name?

A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,
sayings, meanings;
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women, are
sayings and meanings also.


The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible words of the earth;
The great masters know the earth's words, and use them more than the
audible words.

Amelioration is one of the earth's words;
The earth neither lags nor hastens; 20
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the
jump;
It is not half beautiful only--defects and excrescences show just as
much as perfections show.

The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough;
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd
either;
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print;
They are imbued through all things, conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth--I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail am I to you?
To bear--to better--lacking these, of what avail am I?


Accouche! Accouchez! 30
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.


The earth does not exhibit itself, nor refuse to exhibit itself--
possesses still underneath;
Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus of heroes, the
wail of slaves, 40
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young
people, accents of bargainers,
Underneath these, possessing the words that never fail.

To her children, the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never
fail;
The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail, and reflection
does not fail;
Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we pursue does not
fail.


Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger
sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
With her ample back towards every beholder, 50
With the fascinations of youth, and the equal fascinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest--sits undisturb'd,
Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while her
eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.


Seen at hand, or seen at a distance,
Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
Duly approach and pass with their companions, or a companion,
Looking from no countenances of their own, but from the countenances
of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women, or the manly
countenance, 60
From the open countenances of animals, or from inanimate things,
From the landscape or waters, or from the exquisite apparition of the
sky,
From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully returning them,
Every day in public appearing without fail, but never twice with the
same companions.


Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three hundred and sixty-
five resistlessly round the sun;
Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close three hundred and
sixty-five offsets of the first, sure and necessary as they.


Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding, passing, carrying,
The Soul's realization and determination still inheriting,
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and dividing, 70
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock striking,
Swift, glad, content, unbereav'd, nothing losing,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account,
The divine ship sails the divine sea.


Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especially for you;
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the earth is solid and
liquid,
You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky,
For none more than you are the present and the past,
For none more than you is immortality. 80


Each man to himself, and each woman to herself, such is the word of
the past and present, and the word of immortality;
No one can acquire for another--not one!
Not one can grow for another--not one!

The song is to the singer, and comes back most to him;
The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back most to him;
The murder is to the murderer, and comes back most to him;
The theft is to the thief, and comes back most to him;
The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him;
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him--it cannot fail;
The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the actor and actress,
not to the audience; 90
And no man understands any greatness or goodness but his own, or the
indication of his own.


I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be
complete!
I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who
remains jagged and broken!
I swear there is no greatness or power that does not emulate those of
the earth!
I swear there can be no theory of any account, unless it corroborate
the theory of the earth!
No politics, art, religion, behavior, or what not, is of account,
unless it compare with the amplitude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality, rectitude of
the earth.


I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than that which
responds love!
It is that which contains itself--which never invites, and never
refuses.

I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words! 100
I swear I think all merges toward the presentation of the unspoken
meanings of the earth!
Toward him who sings the songs of the Body, and of the truths of the
earth;
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot
touch.


I swear I see what is better than to tell the best;
It is always to leave the best untold.

When I undertake to tell the best, I find I cannot,
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.

The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow--all or any is best; 110
It is not what you anticipated--it is cheaper, easier, nearer;
Things are not dismiss'd from the places they held before;
The earth is just as positive and direct as it was before;
Facts, religions, improvements, politics, trades, are as real as before;
But the Soul is also real,--it too is positive and direct;
No reasoning, no proof has establish'd it,
Undeniable growth has establish'd it.


This is a poem--a carol of words--these are hints of meanings,
These are to echo the tones of Souls, and the phrases of Souls;
If they did not echo the phrases of Souls, what were they then? 120
If they had not reference to you in especial, what were they then?

I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the faith that tells
the best!
I will have to do only with that faith that leaves the best untold.


Say on, sayers!
Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth!
Work on--(it is materials you must bring, not breaths;)
Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost;
It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in use;
When the materials are all prepared, the architects shall appear.

I swear to you the architects shall appear without fail! I announce
them and lead them; 130
I swear to you they will understand you, and justify you;
I swear to you the greatest among them shall be he who best knows
you, and encloses all, and is faithful to all;
I swear to you, he and the rest shall not forget you--they shall
perceive that you are not an iota less than they;
I swear to you, you shall be glorified in them.

by Walt Whitman.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry


FLOOD-TIDE below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face
to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious
you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning
home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to
me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.


The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the
day;
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme--myself disintegrated, every
one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings--on
the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away; 10
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others--the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to
shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the
heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others
will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.


It avails not, neither time or place--distance avails not; 20
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many
generations hence;
I project myself--also I return--I am with you, and know how it is.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright
flow, I was refresh'd;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift
current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-
stem'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

I too many and many a time cross'd the river, the sun half an hour
high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls--I saw them high in the air,
floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and
left the rest in strong shadow, 30
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the
south.

I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my
head in the sun-lit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward,
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the arriving ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops--saw the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars, 40
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender
serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-
houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the
wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the
granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd on
each side by the barges--the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning
high and glaringly into the night,
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow
light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of
streets.


These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you; 50
I project myself a moment to tell you--also I return.

I loved well those cities;
I loved well the stately and rapid river;
The men and women I saw were all near to me;
Others the same--others who look back on me, because I look'd forward
to them;
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)


What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not--distance avails not, and place avails
not.


I too lived--Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine; 60
I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the
waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon
me.

I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution;
I too had receiv'd identity by my Body;
That I was, I knew was of my body--and what I should be, I knew I
should be of my body.


It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also;
The best I had done seem'd to me blank and suspicious; 70
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not in reality
meagre? would not people laugh at me?

It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not
wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these
wanting. 80


But I was Manhattanese, friendly and proud!
I was call'd by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as
they saw me approaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of
their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or public assembly,
yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing,
sleeping,
Play'd the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we
like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.


Closer yet I approach you;
What thought you have of me, I had as much of you--I laid in my
stores in advance; 90
I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot
see me?

It is not you alone, nor I alone;
Not a few races, nor a few generations, nor a few centuries;
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its due emission,
From the general centre of all, and forming a part of all:
Everything indicates--the smallest does, and the largest does;
A necessary film envelopes all, and envelopes the Soul for a proper
time. 100


Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and admirable to
me than my mast-hemm'd Manhattan,
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg'd waves of flood-tide,
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight,
and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and
with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest
name as I approach;
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or
man that looks in my face,
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you.

We understand, then, do we not?
What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not accepted?
What the study could not teach--what the preaching could not
accomplish, is accomplish'd, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started by me
personally, is it not? 110


Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg'd waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the
men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!--stand up, beautiful hills of
Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public
assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my
nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or
actress! 120
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one
makes it!

Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be
looking upon you;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet
haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in
the air;
Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully hold it, till all
downcast eyes have time to take it from you;
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any
one's head, in the sun-lit water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail'd
schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower'd at sunset;
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at
nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the
houses;
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are; 130
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul;
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest
aromas;
Thrive, cities! bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and
sufficient rivers;
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual;
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.


We descend upon you and all things--we arrest you all;
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids and fluids;
Through you color, form, location, sublimity, ideality;
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the suggestions and
determinations of ourselves.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers! you
novices! 140
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate
henceforward;
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves
from us;
We use you, and do not cast you aside--we plant you permanently
within us;
We fathom you not--we love you--there is perfection in you also;
You furnish your parts toward eternity;
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.

by Walt Whitman.


I WANDER all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and
stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory,
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.

How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still!
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their cradles!

The wretched features of ennuyés, the white features of
corpses, the livid faces of drunkards, the sick-gray faces of
onanists,
The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their strong-door'd
rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-born emerging from gates, and
the dying emerging from gates,
The night pervades them and infolds them. 10

The married couple sleep calmly in their bed--he with his palm on the
hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the
husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps, with her little child carefully wrapt.

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison--the run-away son sleeps;
The murderer that is to be hung next day--how does he sleep?
And the murder'd person--how does he sleep?

The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps, 20
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps,
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions--all, all sleep.


I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and the
most restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds--they fitfully sleep.

Now I pierce the darkness--new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is
beautiful.

I go from bedside to bedside--I sleep close with the other sleepers,
each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, 30
And I become the other dreamers.


I am a dance--Play up, there! the fit is whirling me fast!

I am the ever-laughing--it is new moon and twilight,
I see the hiding of douceurs--I see nimble ghosts whichever way I
look,
Cache, and cache again, deep in the ground and sea, and where it is
neither ground or sea.

Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen divine,
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if they could,
I reckon I am their boss, and they make me a pet besides,
And surround me and lead me, and run ahead when I walk,
To lift their cunning covers, to signify me with stretch'd arms, and
resume the way; 40
Onward we move! a gay gang of blackguards! with mirth-shouting music,
and wild-flapping pennants of joy!


I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician;
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in the box,
He who has been famous, and he who shall be famous after to-day,
The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or feeble person.


I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair expectantly,
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.

Double yourself and receive me, darkness!
Receive me and my lover too--he will not let me go without him.

I roll myself upon you, as upon a bed--I resign myself to the
dusk. 50


He whom I call answers me, and takes the place of my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.

Darkness! you are gentler than my lover--his flesh was sweaty and
panting,
I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.

My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions,
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying.

Be careful, darkness! already, what was it touch'd me?
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one,
I hear the heart-beat--I follow, I fade away.


O hot-cheek'd and blushing! O foolish hectic! 60
O for pity's sake, no one must see me now! my clothes were stolen
while I was abed,
Now I am thrust forth, where shall I run?

Pier that I saw dimly last night, when I look'd from the windows!
Pier out from the main, let me catch myself with you, and stay--I
will not chafe you,
I feel ashamed to go naked about the world.

I am curious to know where my feet stand--and what this is flooding
me, childhood or manhood--and the hunger that crosses the
bridge between.


The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks--laps ear of rose-corn, milky and just
ripen'd;
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances in darkness,
And liquor is spill'd on lips and bosoms by touching glasses, and the
best liquor afterward. 70


I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid,
Perfume and youth course through me, and I am their wake.

It is my face yellow and wrinkled, instead of the old woman's,
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair, and carefully darn my grandson's
stockings.

It is I too, the sleepless widow, looking out on the winter midnight,
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid earth.

A shroud I see, and I am the shroud--I wrap a body, and lie in the
coffin,
It is dark here under ground--it is not evil or pain here--it is
blank here, for reasons.

It seems to me that everything in the light and air ought to be
happy,
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has
enough. 80


I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer, swimming naked through the eddies
of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head--he strikes out with
courageous arms--he urges himself with his legs,
I see his white body--I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on
the rocks.

What are you doing, you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you kill him in the prime of
his middle age?

Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, bang'd, bruis'd--he holds out while his strength holds
out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood--they bear him away--
they roll him, swing him, turn him,
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is continually
bruis'd on rocks, 90
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.


I turn, but do not extricate myself,
Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness yet.

The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind--the wreck-guns sound,
The tempest lulls--the moon comes floundering through the drifts.

I look where the ship helplessly heads end on--I hear the burst as
she strikes--I hear the howls of dismay--they grow fainter and
fainter.

I cannot aid with my wringing fingers,
I can but rush to the surf, and let it drench me and freeze upon me.

I search with the crowd--not one of the company is wash'd to us
alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them in rows in a
barn. 100


Now of the older war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn,
Washington stands inside the lines--he stands on the intrench'd
hills, amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp--he cannot repress the weeping drops,
He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes--the color is blanch'd
from his cheeks,
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided to him by their
parents.

The same, at last and at last, when peace is declared,
He stands in the room of the old tavern--the well-belov'd soldiers
all pass through,
The officers speechless and slow draw near in their turns,
The chief encircles their necks with his arm, and kisses them on the
cheek,
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another--he shakes hands,
and bids good-by to the army. 110


Now I tell what my mother told me to-day as we sat at dinner
together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl, living home with her parents on
the old homestead.

A red squaw came one breakfast time to the old homestead,
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush-bottoming chairs,
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half-envelop'd her
face,
Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded exquisitely as
she spoke.

My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the stranger,
She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face, and full and
pliant limbs,
The more she look'd upon her, she loved her,
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity, 120
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace--she cook'd
food for her,
She had no work to give her, but she gave her remembrance and
fondness.

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle of the
afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away!
All the week she thought of her--she watch'd for her many a month,
She remember'd her many a winter and many a summer,
But the red squaw never came, nor was heard of there again.


Now Lucifer was not dead--or if he was, I am his sorrowful terrible
heir;
I have been wrong'd--I am oppress'd--I hate him that oppresses me,
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me. 130

Damn him! how he does defile me!
How he informs against my brother and sister, and takes pay for their
blood!
How he laughs when I look down the bend, after the steamboat that
carries away my woman!

Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale's bulk, it seems mine;
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and sluggish, the tap of my
flukes is death.


A show of the summer softness! a contact of something unseen! an
amour of the light and air!
I am jealous, and overwhelm'd with friendliness,
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself,
And have an unseen something to be in contact with them also.

O love and summer! you are in the dreams, and in me! 140
Autumn and winter are in the dreams--the farmer goes with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase, and the barns are well-fill'd.


Elements merge in the night--ships make tacks in the dreams,
The sailor sails--the exile returns home,
The fugitive returns unharm'd--the immigrant is back beyond months
and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his childhood, with
the well-known neighbors and faces,
They warmly welcome him--he is barefoot again, he forgets he is well
off;
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and Welshman voyage
home, and the native of the Mediterranean voyages home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well-fill'd ships,
The Swiss foots it toward his hills--the Prussian goes his way, the
Hungarian his way, and the Pole his way, 150
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian return.


The homeward bound, and the outward bound,
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuyé, the onanist, the
female that loves unrequited, the money-maker,
The actor and actress, those through with their parts, and those
waiting to commence,
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter, the nominee
that is chosen, and the nominee that has fail'd,
The great already known, and the great any time after to-day,
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form'd, the homely,
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that sat and sentenced
him, the fluent lawyers, the jury, the audience,
The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight widow, the red
squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipelite, the idiot, he that is wrong'd, 160
The antipodes, and every one between this and them in the dark,
I swear they are averaged now--one is no better than the other,
The night and sleep have liken'd them and restored them.

I swear they are all beautiful;
Every one that sleeps is beautiful--everything in the dim light is
beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.


Peace is always beautiful, The myth of heaven indicates peace and
night.

The myth of heaven indicates the Soul;
The Soul is always beautiful--it appears more or it appears less--it
comes, or it lags behind, 170
It comes from its embower'd garden, and looks pleasantly on itself,
and encloses the world,
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting, and perfect and
clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown, proportion'd and plumb, and the bowels and
joints proportion'd and plumb.


The Soul is always beautiful,
The universe is duly in order, everything is in its place,
What has arrived is in its place, and what waits is in its place;
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood waits,
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and the child of
the drunkard waits long, and the drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that lived and died wait--the far advanced are to go on
in their turns, and the far behind are to come on in their
turns,
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite--
they unite now. 180


The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed,
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth, from east to west, as
they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand--the European and American
are hand in hand,
Learn'd and unlearn'd are hand in hand, and male and female are hand
in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her lover--they
press close without lust--his lips press her neck,
The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his arms with
measureless love, and the son holds the father in his arms with
measureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white wrist of the
daughter,
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the man, friend is
inarm'd by friend,
The scholar kisses the teacher, and the teacher kisses the scholar--
the wrong'd is made right,
The call of the slave is one with the master's call, and the master
salutes the slave, 190
The felon steps forth from the prison--the insane becomes sane--the
suffering of sick persons is reliev'd,
The sweatings and fevers stop--the throat that was unsound is sound--
the lungs of the consumptive are resumed--the poor distress'd
head is free,
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever, and smoother
than ever,
Stiflings and passages open--the paralyzed become supple,
The swell'd and convuls'd and congested awake to themselves in
condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night, and the chemistry of the
night, and awake.


I too pass from the night,
I stay a while away, O night, but I return to you again, and love
you.

Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid--I have been well brought forward by you; 200
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so
long,
I know not how I came of you, and I know not where I go with you--but
I know I came well, and shall go well.

I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes;
I will duly pass the day, O my mother, and duly return to you.

by Walt Whitman.

ADDRESSED TO THE CRITICAL REVIEWERS.

Tristitiam et Metus.--HORACE.

Laughs not the heart when giants, big with pride,
Assume the pompous port, the martial stride;
O'er arm Herculean heave the enormous shield,
Vast as a weaver's beam the javelin wield;
With the loud voice of thundering Jove defy,
And dare to single combat--what?--A fly!
And laugh we less when giant names, which shine
Establish'd, as it were, by right divine;
Critics, whom every captive art adores,
To whom glad Science pours forth all her stores;
Who high in letter'd reputation sit,
And hold, Astraea-like, the scales of wit,
With partial rage rush forth--oh! shame to tell!--
To crush a bard just bursting from the shell?
Great are his perils in this stormy time
Who rashly ventures on a sea of rhyme:
Around vast surges roll, winds envious blow,
And jealous rocks and quicksands lurk below:
Greatly his foes he dreads, but more his friends;
He hurts me most who lavishly commends.
Look through the world--in every other trade
The same employment's cause of kindness made,
At least appearance of good will creates,
And every fool puffs off the fool he hates:
Cobblers with cobblers smoke away the night,
And in the common cause e'en players unite;
Authors alone, with more than savage rage,
Unnatural war with brother authors wage.
The pride of Nature would as soon admit
Competitors in empire as in wit;
Onward they rush, at Fame's imperious call,
And, less than greatest, would not be at all.
Smit with the love of honour,--or the pence,--
O'errun with wit, and destitute of sense,
Should any novice in the rhyming trade
With lawless pen the realms of verse invade,
Forth from the court, where sceptred sages sit,
Abused with praise, and flatter'd into wit,
Where in lethargic majesty they reign,
And what they won by dulness, still maintain,
Legions of factious authors throng at once,
Fool beckons fool, and dunce awakens dunce.
To 'Hamilton's the ready lies repair--
Ne'er was lie made which was not welcome there--
Thence, on maturer judgment's anvil wrought,
The polish'd falsehood's into public brought.
Quick-circulating slanders mirth afford;
And reputation bleeds in every word.
A critic was of old a glorious name,
Whose sanction handed merit up to fame;
Beauties as well as faults he brought to view;
His judgment great, and great his candour too;
No servile rules drew sickly taste aside;
Secure he walk'd, for Nature was his guide.
But now--oh! strange reverse!--our critics bawl
In praise of candour with a heart of gall;
Conscious of guilt, and fearful of the light,
They lurk enshrouded in the vale of night;
Safe from detection, seize the unwary prey,
And stab, like bravoes, all who come that way.
When first my Muse, perhaps more bold than wise,
Bade the rude trifle into light arise,
Little she thought such tempests would ensue;
Less, that those tempests would be raised by you.
The thunder's fury rends the towering oak,
Rosciads, like shrubs, might 'scape the fatal stroke.
Vain thought! a critic's fury knows no bound;
Drawcansir-like, he deals destruction round;
Nor can we hope he will a stranger spare,
Who gives no quarter to his friend Voltaire.
Unhappy Genius! placed by partial Fate
With a free spirit in a slavish state;
Where the reluctant Muse, oppress'd by kings,
Or droops in silence, or in fetters sings!
In vain thy dauntless fortitude hath borne
The bigot's furious zeal, and tyrant's scorn.
Why didst thou safe from home-bred dangers steer,
Reserved to perish more ignobly here?
Thus, when, the Julian tyrant's pride to swell,
Rome with her Pompey at Pharsalia fell,
The vanquish'd chief escaped from Caesar's hand,
To die by ruffians in a foreign land.
How could these self-elected monarchs raise
So large an empire on so small a base?
In what retreat, inglorious and unknown,
Did Genius sleep when Dulness seized the throne?
Whence, absolute now grown, and free from awe,
She to the subject world dispenses law.
Without her licence not a letter stirs,
And all the captive criss-cross-row is hers.
The Stagyrite, who rules from Nature drew,
Opinions gave, but gave his reasons too.
Our great Dictators take a shorter way--
Who shall dispute what the Reviewers say?
Their word's sufficient; and to ask a reason,
In such a state as theirs, is downright treason.
True judgment now with them alone can dwell;
Like Church of Rome, they're grown infallible.
Dull superstitious readers they deceive,
Who pin their easy faith on critic's sleeve,
And knowing nothing, everything believe!
But why repine we that these puny elves
Shoot into giants?--we may thank ourselves:
Fools that we are, like Israel's fools of yore,
The calf ourselves have fashion'd we adore.
But let true Reason once resume her reign,
This god shall dwindle to a calf again.
Founded on arts which shun the face of day,
By the same arts they still maintain their sway.
Wrapp'd in mysterious secrecy they rise,
And, as they are unknown, are safe and wise.
At whomsoever aim'd, howe'er severe,
The envenom'd slander flies, no names appear:
Prudence forbids that step;--then all might know,
And on more equal terms engage the foe.
But now, what Quixote of the age would care
To wage a war with dirt, and fight with air?
By interest join'd, the expert confederates stand,
And play the game into each other's hand:
The vile abuse, in turn by all denied,
Is bandied up and down, from side to side:
It flies--hey!--presto!--like a juggler's ball,
Till it belongs to nobody at all.
All men and things they know, themselves unknown,
And publish every name--except their own.
Nor think this strange,--secure from vulgar eyes,
The nameless author passes in disguise;
But veteran critics are not so deceived,
If veteran critics are to be believed.
Once seen, they know an author evermore,
Nay, swear to hands they never saw before.
Thus in 'The Rosciad,' beyond chance or doubt,
They by the writing found the writers out:
That's Lloyd's--his manner there you plainly trace,
And all the Actor stares you in the face.
By Colman that was written--on my life,
The strongest symptoms of the 'Jealous Wife.'
That little disingenuous piece of spite,
Churchill--a wretch unknown!--perhaps might write.
How doth it make judicious readers smile,
When authors are detected by their style;
Though every one who knows this author, knows
He shifts his style much oftener than his clothes!
Whence could arise this mighty critic spleen,
The Muse a trifler, and her theme so mean?
What had I done, that angry Heaven should send
The bitterest foe where most I wish'd a friend?
Oft hath my tongue been wanton at thy name,
And hail'd the honours of thy matchless fame.
For me let hoary Fielding bite the ground,
So nobler Pickle stands superbly bound;
From Livy's temples tear the historic crown,
Which with more justice blooms upon thine own.
Compared with thee, be all life-writers dumb,
But he who wrote the Life of Tommy Thumb.
Who ever read 'The Regicide,' but swore
The author wrote as man ne'er wrote before?
Others for plots and under-plots may call,
Here's the right method--have no plot at all.
Who can so often in his cause engage
The tiny pathos of the Grecian stage,
Whilst horrors rise, and tears spontaneous flow
At tragic Ha! and no less tragic Oh!
To praise his nervous weakness all agree;
And then for sweetness, who so sweet as he!
Too big for utterance when sorrows swell,
The too big sorrows flowing tears must tell;
But when those flowing tears shall cease to flow,
Why--then the voice must speak again, you know.
Rude and unskilful in the poet's trade,
I kept no Naiads by me ready made;
Ne'er did I colours high in air advance,
Torn from the bleeding fopperies of France;
No flimsy linsey-woolsey scenes I wrote,
With patches here and there, like Joseph's coat.
Me humbler themes befit: secure, for me,
Let play-wrights smuggle nonsense duty free;
Secure, for me, ye lambs, ye lambkins! bound,
And frisk and frolic o'er the fairy ground.
Secure, for me, thou pretty little fawn!
Lick Sylvia's hand, and crop the flowery lawn;
Uncensured let the gentle breezes rove
Through the green umbrage of the enchanted grove:
Secure, for me, let foppish Nature smile,
And play the coxcomb in the 'Desert Isle.'
The stage I chose--a subject fair and free--
'Tis yours--'tis mine--'tis public property.
All common exhibitions open lie,
For praise or censure, to the common eye.
Hence are a thousand hackney writers fed;
Hence Monthly Critics earn their daily bread.
This is a general tax which all must pay,
From those who scribble, down to those who play.
Actors, a venal crew, receive support
From public bounty for the public sport.
To clap or hiss all have an equal claim,
The cobbler's and his lordship's right's the same.
All join for their subsistence; all expect
Free leave to praise their worth, their faults correct.
When active Pickle Smithfield stage ascends,
The three days' wonder of his laughing friends,
Each, or as judgment or as fancy guides,
The lively witling praises or derides.
And where's the mighty difference, tell me where,
Betwixt a Merry Andrew and a player?
The strolling tribe--a despicable race!--
Like wandering Arabs, shift from place to place.
Vagrants by law, to justice open laid,
They tremble, of the beadle's lash afraid,
And, fawning, cringe for wretched means of life
To Madam Mayoress, or his Worship's wife.
The mighty monarch, in theatric sack,
Carries his whole regalia at his back;
His royal consort heads the female band,
And leads the heir apparent in her hand;
The pannier'd ass creeps on with conscious pride,
Bearing a future prince on either side.
No choice musicians in this troop are found,
To varnish nonsense with the charms of sound;
No swords, no daggers, not one poison'd bowl;
No lightning flashes here, no thunders roll;
No guards to swell the monarch's train are shown;
The monarch here must be a host alone:
No solemn pomp, no slow processions here;
No Ammon's entry, and no Juliet's bier.
By need compell'd to prostitute his art,
The varied actor flies from part to part;
And--strange disgrace to all theatric pride!--
His character is shifted with his side.
Question and answer he by turns must be,
Like that small wit in modern tragedy,
Who, to patch up his fame--or fill his purse--
Still pilfers wretched plans, and makes them worse;
Like gypsies, lest the stolen brat be known,
Defacing first, then claiming for his own.
In shabby state they strut, and tatter'd robe,
The scene a blanket, and a barn the globe:
No high conceits their moderate wishes raise,
Content with humble profit, humble praise.
Let dowdies simper, and let bumpkins stare,
The strolling pageant hero treads in air:
Pleased, for his hour he to mankind gives law,
And snores the next out on a truss of straw.
But if kind Fortune, who sometimes, we know,
Can take a hero from a puppet-show,
In mood propitious should her favourite call,
On royal stage in royal pomp to bawl,
Forgetful of himself, he rears the head,
And scorns the dunghill where he first was bred;
Conversing now with well dress'd kings and queens,
With gods and goddesses behind the scenes,
He sweats beneath the terror-nodding plume,
Taught by mock honours real pride to assume.
On this great stage, the world, no monarch e'er
Was half so haughty as a monarch player.
Doth it more move our anger or our mirth
To see these things, the lowest sons of earth,
Presume, with self-sufficient knowledge graced,
To rule in letters, and preside in taste?
The town's decisions they no more admit,
Themselves alone the arbiters of wit;
And scorn the jurisdiction of that court
To which they owe their being and support.
Actors, like monks of old, now sacred grown,
Must be attack'd by no fools but their own.
Let the vain tyrant sit amidst his guards,
His puny green-room wits and venal bards,
Who meanly tremble at the puppet's frown,
And for a playhouse-freedom lose their own;
In spite of new-made laws, and new-made kings,
The free-born Muse with liberal spirit sings.
Bow down, ye slaves! before these idols fall;
Let Genius stoop to them who've none at all:
Ne'er will I flatter, cringe, or bend the knee
To those who, slaves to all, are slaves to me.
Actors, as actors, are a lawful game,
The poet's right, and who shall bar his claim?
And if, o'erweening of their little skill,
When they have left the stage, they're actors still;
If to the subject world they still give laws,
With paper crowns, and sceptres made of straws;
If they in cellar or in garret roar,
And, kings one night, are kings for evermore;
Shall not bold Truth, e'en there, pursue her theme,
And wake the coxcomb from his golden dream?
Or if, well worthy of a better fate,
They rise superior to their present state;
If, with each social virtue graced, they blend
The gay companion and the faithful friend;
If they, like Pritchard, join in private life
The tender parent and the virtuous wife;
Shall not our verse their praise with pleasure speak,
Though Mimics bark, and Envy split her cheek?
No honest worth's beneath the Muse's praise;
No greatness can above her censure raise;
Station and wealth to her are trifling things;
She stoops to actors, and she soars to kings.
Is there a man, in vice and folly bred,
To sense of honour as to virtue dead,
Whom ties, nor human, nor divine can bind,
Alien from God, and foe to all mankind;
Who spares no character; whose every word,
Bitter as gall, and sharper than the sword,
Cuts to the quick; whose thoughts with rancour swell;
Whose tongue, on earth, performs the work of hell?
If there be such a monster, the Reviews
Shall find him holding forth against abuse:
Attack profession!--'tis a deadly breach!
The Christian laws another lesson teach:--
Unto the end shall Charity endure,
And Candour hide those faults it cannot cure.
Thus Candour's maxims flow from Rancour's throat,
As devils, to serve their purpose, Scripture quote.
The Muse's office was by Heaven design'd
To please, improve, instruct, reform mankind;
To make dejected Virtue nobly rise
Above the towering pitch of splendid Vice;
To make pale Vice, abash'd, her head hang down,
And, trembling, crouch at Virtue's awful frown.
Now arm'd with wrath, she bids eternal shame,
With strictest justice, brand the villain's name;
Now in the milder garb of ridicule
She sports, and pleases while she wounds the fool.
Her shape is often varied; but her aim,
To prop the cause of Virtue, still the same.
In praise of Mercy let the guilty bawl;
When Vice and Folly for correction call,
Silence the mark of weakness justly bears,
And is partaker of the crimes it spares.
But if the Muse, too cruel in her mirth,
With harsh reflections wounds the man of worth;
If wantonly she deviates from her plan,
And quits the actor to expose the man;
Ashamed, she marks that passage with a blot,
And hates the line where candour was forgot.
But what is candour, what is humour's vein,
Though judgment join to consecrate the strain,
If curious numbers will not aid afford,
Nor choicest music play in every word?
Verses must run, to charm a modern ear,
From all harsh, rugged interruptions clear.
Soft let them breathe, as Zephyr's balmy breeze,
Smooth let their current flow, as summer seas;
Perfect then only deem'd when they dispense
A happy tuneful vacancy of sense.
Italian fathers thus, with barbarous rage,
Fit helpless infants for the squeaking stage;
Deaf to the calls of pity, Nature wound,
And mangle vigour for the sake of sound.
Henceforth farewell, then, feverish thirst of fame;
Farewell the longings for a poet's name;
Perish my Muse--a wish 'bove all severe
To him who ever held the Muses dear--
If e'er her labours weaken to refine
The generous roughness of a nervous line.
Others affect the stiff and swelling phrase;
Their Muse must walk in stilts, and strut in stays;
The sense they murder, and the words transpose,
Lest poetry approach too near to prose.
See tortured Reason how they pare and trim,
And, like Procrustes, stretch, or lop the limb.
Waller! whose praise succeeding bards rehearse,
Parent of harmony in English verse,
Whose tuneful Muse in sweetest accents flows,
In couplets first taught straggling sense to close.
In polish'd numbers and majestic sound,
Where shall thy rival, Pope! be ever found?
But whilst each line with equal beauty flows.
E'en excellence, unvaried, tedious grows.
Nature, through all her works, in great degree,
Borrows a blessing from variety.
Music itself her needful aid requires
To rouse the soul, and wake our dying fires.
Still in one key, the nightingale would tease;
Still in one key, not Brent would always please.
Here let me bend, great Dryden! at thy shrine,
Thou dearest name to all the Tuneful Nine!
What if some dull lines in cold order creep,
And with his theme the poet seems to sleep?
Still, when his subject rises proud to view,
With equal strength the poet rises too:
With strong invention, noblest vigour fraught,
Thought still springs up and rises out of thought;
Numbers ennobling numbers in their course,
In varied sweetness flow, in varied force;
The powers of genius and of judgment join,
And the whole Art of Poetry is thine.
But what are numbers, what are bards to me,
Forbid to tread the paths of poesy?
A sacred Muse should consecrate her pen--
Priests must not hear nor see like other men--
Far higher themes should her ambition claim:
Behold where Sternhold points the way to fame!
Whilst with mistaken zeal dull bigots burn,
Let Reason for a moment take her turn.
When coffee-sages hold discourse with kings,
And blindly walk in paper leading-strings,
What if a man delight to pass his time
In spinning reason into harmless rhyme,
Or sometimes boldly venture to the play?
Say, where's the crime, great man of prudence, say?
No two on earth in all things can agree;
All have some darling singularity:
Women and men, as well as girls and boys,
In gew-gaws take delight, and sigh for toys.
Your sceptres and your crowns, and such like things,
Are but a better kind of toys for kings.
In things indifferent Reason bids us choose,
Whether the whim's a monkey or a Muse.
What the grave triflers on this busy scene,
When they make use of this word Reason, mean,
I know not; but according to my plan,
'Tis Lord Chief-Justice in the court of man;
Equally form'd to rule in age or youth,
The friend of virtue and the guide to truth;
To her I bow, whose sacred power I feel;
To her decision make my last appeal;
Condemn'd by her, applauding worlds in vain
Should tempt me to take up the pen again;
By her absolved, my course I'll still pursue:
If Reason's for me, God is for me too.

by Charles Churchill.

Imitations Of Horace: The First Epistle Of The Second Book

Ne Rubeam, Pingui donatus Munere
(Horace, Epistles II.i.267)
While you, great patron of mankind, sustain
The balanc'd world, and open all the main;
Your country, chief, in arms abroad defend,
At home, with morals, arts, and laws amend;
How shall the Muse, from such a monarch steal
An hour, and not defraud the public weal?
Edward and Henry, now the boast of fame,
And virtuous Alfred, a more sacred name,
After a life of gen'rous toils endur'd,
The Gaul subdu'd, or property secur'd,
Ambition humbled, mighty cities storm'd,
Or laws establish'd, and the world reform'd;
Clos'd their long glories with a sigh, to find
Th' unwilling gratitude of base mankind!
All human virtue, to its latest breath
Finds envy never conquer'd, but by death.
The great Alcides, ev'ry labour past,
Had still this monster to subdue at last.
Sure fate of all, beneath whose rising ray
Each star of meaner merit fades away!
Oppress'd we feel the beam directly beat,
Those suns of glory please not till they set.

To thee the world its present homage pays,
The harvest early, but mature the praise:
Great friend of liberty! in kings a name
Above all Greek, above all Roman fame:
Whose word is truth, as sacred and rever'd,
As Heav'n's own oracles from altars heard.
Wonder of kings! like whom, to mortal eyes
None e'er has risen, and none e'er shall rise.

Just in one instance, be it yet confest
Your people, Sir, are partial in the rest:
Foes to all living worth except your own,
And advocates for folly dead and gone.
Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old;
It is the rust we value, not the gold.
Chaucer's worst ribaldry is learn'd by rote,
And beastly Skelton heads of houses quote:
One likes no language but the Faery Queen ;
A Scot will fight for Christ's Kirk o' the Green:
And each true Briton is to Ben so civil,
He swears the Muses met him at the Devil.

Though justly Greece her eldest sons admires,
Why should not we be wiser than our sires?
In ev'ry public virtue we excel:
We build, we paint, we sing, we dance as well,
And learned Athens to our art must stoop,
Could she behold us tumbling through a hoop.

If time improve our wit as well as wine,
Say at what age a poet grows divine?
Shall we, or shall we not, account him so,
Who died, perhaps, an hundred years ago?
End all dispute; and fix the year precise
When British bards begin t'immortalize?

"Who lasts a century can have no flaw,
I hold that wit a classic, good in law."

Suppose he wants a year, will you compound?
And shall we deem him ancient, right and sound,
Or damn to all eternity at once,
At ninety-nine, a modern and a dunce?

"We shall not quarrel for a year or two;
By courtesy of England, he may do."

Then by the rule that made the horsetail bare,
I pluck out year by year, as hair by hair,
And melt down ancients like a heap of snow:
While you, to measure merits, look in Stowe,
And estimating authors by the year,
Bestow a garland only on a bier.

Shakespeare (whom you and ev'ry playhouse bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, wing'd his roving flight,
And grew immortal in his own despite.
Ben, old and poor, as little seem'd to heed
The life to come, in ev'ry poet's creed.
Who now reads Cowley? if he pleases yet,
His moral pleases, not his pointed wit;
Forgot his epic, nay Pindaric art,
But still I love the language of his heart.

"Yet surely, surely, these were famous men!
What boy but hears the sayings of old Ben?
In all debates where critics bear a part,
Not one but nods, and talks of Jonson's art,
Of Shakespeare's nature, and of Cowley's wit;
How Beaumont's judgment check'd what Fletcher writ;
How Shadwell hasty, Wycherley was slow;
But, for the passions, Southerne sure and Rowe.
These, only these, support the crowded stage,
From eldest Heywood down to Cibber's age."

All this may be; the people's voice is odd,
It is, and it is not, the voice of God.
To Gammer Gurton if it give the bays,
And yet deny the Careless Husband praise,
Or say our fathers never broke a rule;
Why then, I say, the public is a fool.
But let them own, that greater faults than we
They had, and greater virtues, I'll agree.
Spenser himself affects the obsolete,
And Sidney's verse halts ill on Roman feet:
Milton's strong pinion now not Heav'n can bound,
Now serpent-like, in prose he sweeps the ground,
In quibbles, angel and archangel join,
And God the Father turns a school divine.
Not that I'd lop the beauties from his book,
Like slashing Bentley with his desp'rate hook,
Or damn all Shakespeare, like th' affected fool
At court, who hates whate'er he read at school.


But for the wits of either Charles's days,
The mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease;
Sprat, Carew, Sedley, and a hundred more,
(Like twinkling stars the Miscellanies o'er)
One simile, that solitary shines
In the dry desert of a thousand lines,
Or lengthen'd thought that gleams through many a page,
Has sanctified whole poems for an age.


I lose my patience, and I own it too,
When works are censur'd, not as bad, but new;
While if our elders break all reason's laws,
These fools demand not pardon, but applause.


On Avon's bank, where flow'rs eternal blow,
If I but ask if any weed can grow?
One tragic sentence if I dare deride,
Which Betterton's grave action dignified,
Or well-mouth'd Booth with emphasis proclaims
(Though but, perhaps, a muster-roll of names)
How will our fathers rise up in a rage,
And swear, all shame is lost in George's age!
You'd think no fools disgrac'd the former reign,
Did not some grave examples yet remain,
Who scorn a lad should teach his father skill,
And, having once been wrong, will be so still.
He, who to seem more deep than you or I,
Extols old bards, or Merlin's Prophecy,
Mistake him not; he envies, not admires,
And to debase the sons, exalts the sires.
Had ancient times conspir'd to disallow
What then was new, what had been ancient now?
Or what remain'd, so worthy to be read
By learned critics, of the mighty dead?


In days of ease, when now the weary sword
Was sheath'd, and luxury with Charles restor'd;
In ev'ry taste of foreign courts improv'd,
"All, by the King's example, liv'd and lov'd."
Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t'excel,
Newmarket's glory rose, as Britain's fell;
The soldier breath'd the gallantries of France,
And ev'ry flow'ry courtier writ romance.
Then marble, soften'd into life, grew warm,
And yielding metal flow'd to human form:
Lely on animated canvas stole
The sleepy eye, that spoke the melting soul.
No wonder then, when all was love and sport,
The willing Muses were debauch'd at court:
On each enervate string they taught the note
To pant or tremble through an eunuch's throat.
But Britain, changeful as a child at play,
Now calls in princes, and now turns away:
Now Whig, now Tory, what we lov'd we hate;
Now all for pleasure, now for Church and state;
Now for prerogative, and now for laws;
Effects unhappy! from a noble cause.


Time was, a sober Englishman would knock
His servants up, and rise by five o'clock,
Instruct his family in ev'ry rule,
And send his wife to church, his son to school.
To worship like his fathers was his care;
To teach their frugal virtues to his heir;
To prove that luxury could never hold,
And place, on good security, his gold.
Now times are chang'd, and one poetic itch
Has seiz'd the court and city, poor and rich:
Sons, sires, and grandsires, all will wear the bays,
Our wives read Milton, and our daughters plays,
To theatres, and to rehearsals throng,
And all our grace at table is a song.
I, who so oft renounce the Muses, lie,
Not {-}{-}{-}{-}{-}'s self e'er tells more fibs than I;
When sick of Muse, our follies we deplore,
And promise our best friends to rhyme no more;
We wake next morning in a raging fit,
And call for pen and ink to show our wit.


He serv'd a 'prenticeship who sets up shop;
Ward tried on puppies and the poor, his drop;
Ev'n Radcliffe's doctors travel first to France,
Nor dare to practise till they've learn'd to dance.
Who builds a bridge that never drove a pile?
(Should Ripley venture, all the world would smile)
But those who cannot write, and those who can,
All rhyme, and scrawl, and scribble, to a man.


Yet, Sir, reflect, the mischief is not great;
These madmen never hurt the Church or state:
Sometimes the folly benefits mankind;
And rarely av'rice taints the tuneful mind.
Allow him but his plaything of a pen,
He ne'er rebels, or plots, like other men:
Flight of cashiers, or mobs, he'll never mind;
And knows no losses while the Muse is kind.
To cheat a friend, or ward, he leaves to Peter;
The good man heaps up nothing but mere metre,
Enjoys his garden and his book in quiet;
And then--a perfect hermit in his diet.
Of little use the man you may suppose,
Who says in verse what others say in prose:
Yet let me show, a poet's of some weight,
And (though no soldier) useful to the state.
What will a child learn sooner than a song?
What better teach a foreigner the tongue?
What's long or short, each accent where to place,
And speak in public with some sort of grace.
I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
Unless he praise some monster of a king;
Or virtue or religion turn to sport,
To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
Unhappy Dryden!--In all Charles's days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays;
And in our own (excuse some courtly stains)
No whiter page than Addison remains.
He, from the taste obscene reclaims our youth,
And sets the passions on the side of truth,
Forms the soft bosom with the gentlest art,
And pours each human virtue in the heart.
Let Ireland tell, how wit upheld her cause,
Her trade supported, and supplied her laws;
And leave on Swift this grateful verse engrav'd,
"The rights a court attack'd, a poet sav'd."
Behold the hand that wrought a nation's cure,
Stretch'd to relieve the idiot and the poor,
Proud vice to brand, or injur'd worth adorn,
And stretch the ray to ages yet unborn.
Not but there are, who merit other palms;
Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with psalms:
The boys and girls whom charity maintains,
Implore your help in these pathetic strains:
How could devotion touch the country pews,
Unless the gods bestow'd a proper Muse?
Verse cheers their leisure, verse assists their work,
Verse prays for peace, or sings down Pope and Turk.
The silenc'd preacher yields to potent strain,
And feels that grace his pray'r besought in vain;
The blessing thrills through all the lab'ring throng,
And Heav'n is won by violence of song.


Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulg'd the day that hous'd their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain:
The joy their wives, their sons, and servants share,
Ease of their toil, and part'ners of their care:
The laugh, the jest, attendants on the bowl,
Smooth'd ev'ry brow, and open'd ev'ry soul:
With growing years the pleasing licence grew,
And taunts alternate innocently flew.
But times corrupt, and nature, ill-inclin'd,
Produc'd the point that left a sting behind;
Till friend with friend, and families at strife,
Triumphant malice rag'd through private life.
Who felt the wrong, or fear'd it, took th' alarm,
Appeal'd to law, and justice lent her arm.
At length, by wholesome dread of statutes bound,
The poets learn'd to please, and not to wound:
Most warp'd to flatt'ry's side; but some, more nice,
Preserv'd the freedom, and forbore the vice.
Hence satire rose, that just the medium hit,
And heals with morals what it hurts with wit.


We conquer'd France, but felt our captive's charms;
Her arts victorious triumph'd o'er our arms;
Britain to soft refinements less a foe,
Wit grew polite, and numbers learn'd to flow.
Waller was smooth; but Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full-resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.
Though still some traces of our rustic vein
And splayfoot verse remain'd, and will remain.
Late, very late, correctness grew our care,
When the tir'd nation breath'd from civil war.
Exact Racine, and Corneille's noble fire
Show'd us that France had something to admire.
Not but the tragic spirit was our own,
And full in Shakespeare, fair in Otway shone:
But Otway fail'd to polish or refine,
And fluent Shakespeare scarce effac'd a line.
Ev'n copious Dryden wanted, or forgot,
The last and greatest art, the art to blot.


Some doubt, if equal pains, or equal fire
The humbler Muse of comedy require.
But in known images of life, I guess
The labour greater, as th' indulgence less.
Observe how seldom ev'n the best succeed:
Tell me if Congreve's fools are fools indeed?
What pert, low dialogue has Farqu'ar writ!
How Van wants grace, who never wanted wit!
The stage how loosely does Astr{ae}ea tread,
Who fairly puts all characters to bed!
And idle Cibber, how he breaks the laws,
To make poor Pinky eat with vast applause!
But fill their purse, our poet's work is done,
Alike to them, by pathos or by pun.


O you! whom vanity's light bark conveys
On fame's mad voyage by the wind of praise,
With what a shifting gale your course you ply,
For ever sunk too low, or borne too high!
Who pants for glory finds but short repose,
A breath revives him, or a breath o'erthrows.
Farewell the stage! if just as thrives the play,
The silly bard grows fat, or falls away.


There still remains, to mortify a wit,
The many-headed monster of the pit:
A senseless, worthless, and unhonour'd crowd;
Who, to disturb their betters mighty proud,
Clatt'ring their sticks before ten lines are spoke,
Call for the farce, the bear, or the black-joke.
What dear delight to Britons farce affords!
Farce once the taste of mobs, but now of lords;
(For taste, eternal wanderer, now flies
From heads to ears, and now from ears to eyes.)
The play stands still; damn action and discourse,
Back fly the scenes, and enter foot and horse;
Pageants on pageants, in long order drawn,
Peers, heralds, bishops, ermine, gold, and lawn;
The champion too! and, to complete the jest,
Old Edward's armour beams on Cibber's breast.
With laughter sure Democritus had died,
Had he beheld an audience gape so wide.
Let bear or elephant be e'er so white,
The people, sure, the people are the sight!
Ah luckless poet! stretch thy lungs and roar,
That bear or elephant shall heed thee more;
While all its throats the gallery extends,
And all the thunder of the pit ascends!
Loud as the wolves on Orcas' stormy steep,
Howl to the roarings of the Northern deep.
Such is the shout, the long-applauding note,
At Quin's high plume, or Oldfield's petticoat,
Or when from Court a birthday suit bestow'd
Sinks the lost actor in the tawdry load.
Booth enters--hark! the universal peal!
"But has he spoken?" Not a syllable.
"What shook the stage, and made the people stare?"
Cato's long wig, flow'r'd gown, and lacquer'd chair.


Yet lest you think I rally more than teach,
Or praise malignly arts I cannot reach,
Let me for once presume t'instruct the times,
To know the poet from the man of rhymes:
'Tis he, who gives my breast a thousand pains,
Can make me feel each passion that he feigns;
Enrage, compose, with more than magic art,
With pity and with terror tear my heart;
And snatch me o'er the earth or thro' the air,
To Thebes, to Athens, when he will, and where.


But not this part of the poetic state
Alone, deserves the favour of the great:
Think of those authors, Sir, who would rely
More on a reader's sense, than gazer's eye.
Or who shall wander where the Muses sing?
Who climb their mountain, or who taste their spring?
How shall we fill a library with wit,
When Merlin's Cave is half unfurnish'd yet?


My Liege! why writers little claim your thought,
I guess: and, with their leave, will tell the fault:
We poets are (upon a poet's word)
Of all mankind, the creatures most absurd:
The season, when to come, and when to go,
To sing, or cease to sing, we never know;
And if we will recite nine hours in ten,
You lose your patience, just like other men.
Then too we hurt ourselves, when to defend
A single verse, we quarrel with a friend;
Repeat unask'd; lament, the wit's too fine
For vulgar eyes, and point out ev'ry line.
But most, when straining with too weak a wing,
We needs will write epistles to the king;
And from the moment we oblige the town,
Expect a place, or pension from the Crown;
Or dubb'd historians by express command,
T'enroll your triumphs o'er the seas and land,
Be call'd to court to plan some work divine,
As once for Louis, Boileau and Racine.


Yet think, great Sir! (so many virtues shown)
Ah think, what poet best may make them known?
Or choose at least some minister of grace,
Fit to bestow the laureate's weighty place.


Charles, to late times to be transmitted fair,
Assign'd his figure to Bernini's care;
And great Nassau to Kneller's hand decreed
To fix him graceful on the bounding steed;
So well in paint and stone they judg'd of merit:
But kings in wit may want discerning spirit.
The hero William, and the martyr Charles,
One knighted Blackmore, and one pension'd Quarles;
Which made old Ben, and surly Dennis swear,
"No Lord's anointed, but a Russian bear."


Not with such majesty, such bold relief,
The forms august, of king, or conqu'ring chief,
E'er swell'd on marble; as in verse have shin'd
(In polish'd verse) the manners and the mind.
Oh! could I mount on the M{ae}onian wing,
Your arms, your actions, your repose to sing!
What seas you travers'd! and what fields you fought!
Your country's peace, how oft, how dearly bought!
How barb'rous rage subsided at your word,
And nations wonder'd while they dropp'd the sword!
How, when you nodded, o'er the land and deep,
Peace stole her wing, and wrapp'd the world in sleep;
Till earth's extremes your mediation own,
And Asia's tyrants tremble at your throne--
But verse, alas! your Majesty disdains;
And I'm not us'd to panegyric strains:
The zeal of fools offends at any time,
But most of all, the zeal of fools in rhyme,
Besides, a fate attends on all I write,
That when I aim at praise, they say I bite.
A vile encomium doubly ridicules:
There's nothing blackens like the ink of fools;
If true, a woeful likeness; and if lies,
"Praise undeserv'd is scandal in disguise."
Well may he blush, who gives it, or receives;
And when I flatter, let my dirty leaves
(Like journals, odes, and such forgotten things
As Eusden, Philips, Settle, writ of kings)
Clothe spice, line trunks, or flutt'ring in a row,
Befringe the rails of Bedlam and Soho.

by Alexander Pope.

The Triumph Of Life

Swift as a spirit hastening to his task
Of glory & of good, the Sun sprang forth
Rejoicing in his splendour, & the mask
Of darkness fell from the awakened Earth.
The smokeless altars of the mountain snows
Flamed above crimson clouds, & at the birth
Of light, the Ocean's orison arose
To which the birds tempered their matin lay,
All flowers in field or forest which unclose
Their trembling eyelids to the kiss of day,
Swinging their censers in the element,
With orient incense lit by the new ray
Burned slow & inconsumably, & sent
Their odorous sighs up to the smiling air,
And in succession due, did Continent,
Isle, Ocean, & all things that in them wear
The form & character of mortal mould
Rise as the Sun their father rose, to bear
Their portion of the toil which he of old
Took as his own & then imposed on them;
But I, whom thoughts which must remain untold
Had kept as wakeful as the stars that gem
The cone of night, now they were laid asleep,
Stretched my faint limbs beneath the hoary stem
Which an old chestnut flung athwart the steep
Of a green Apennine: before me fled
The night; behind me rose the day; the Deep
Was at my feet, & Heaven above my head
When a strange trance over my fancy grew
Which was not slumber, for the shade it spread
Was so transparent that the scene came through
As clear as when a veil of light is drawn
O'er evening hills they glimmer; and I knew
That I had felt the freshness of that dawn,
Bathed in the same cold dew my brow & hair
And sate as thus upon that slope of lawn
Under the self same bough, & heard as there
The birds, the fountains & the Ocean hold
Sweet talk in music through the enamoured air.
And then a Vision on my brain was rolled.

As in that trance of wondrous thought I lay
This was the tenour of my waking dream.
Methought I sate beside a public way
Thick strewn with summer dust, & a great stream
Of people there was hurrying to & fro
Numerous as gnats upon the evening gleam,
All hastening onward, yet none seemed to know
Whither he went, or whence he came, or why
He made one of the multitude, yet so
Was borne amid the crowd as through the sky
One of the million leaves of summer's bier.--
Old age & youth, manhood & infancy,
Mixed in one mighty torrent did appear,
Some flying from the thing they feared & some
Seeking the object of another's fear,
And others as with steps towards the tomb
Pored on the trodden worms that crawled beneath,
And others mournfully within the gloom
Of their own shadow walked, and called it death ...
And some fled from it as it were a ghost,
Half fainting in the affliction of vain breath.
But more with motions which each other crost
Pursued or shunned the shadows the clouds threw
Or birds within the noonday ether lost,
Upon that path where flowers never grew;
And weary with vain toil & faint for thirst
Heard not the fountains whose melodious dew
Out of their mossy cells forever burst
Nor felt the breeze which from the forest told
Of grassy paths, & wood lawns interspersed
With overarching elms & caverns cold,
And violet banks where sweet dreams brood, but they
Pursued their serious folly as of old ....
And as I gazed methought that in the way
The throng grew wilder, as the woods of June
When the South wind shakes the extinguished day.--
And a cold glare, intenser than the noon
But icy cold, obscured with [[blank]] light
The Sun as he the stars. Like the young moon
When on the sunlit limits of the night
Her white shell trembles amid crimson air
And whilst the sleeping tempest gathers might
Doth, as a herald of its coming, bear
The ghost of her dead Mother, whose dim form
Bends in dark ether from her infant's chair,
So came a chariot on the silent storm
Of its own rushing splendour, and a Shape
So sate within as one whom years deform
Beneath a dusky hood & double cape
Crouching within the shadow of a tomb,
And o'er what seemed the head, a cloud like crape,
Was bent a dun & faint etherial gloom
Tempering the light; upon the chariot's beam
A Janus-visaged Shadow did assume
The guidance of that wonder-winged team.
The Shapes which drew it in thick lightnings
Were lost: I heard alone on the air's soft stream
The music of their ever moving wings.
All the four faces of that charioteer
Had their eyes banded . . . little profit brings
Speed in the van & blindness in the rear,
Nor then avail the beams that quench the Sun
Or that his banded eyes could pierce the sphere
Of all that is, has been, or will be done.--
So ill was the car guided, but it past
With solemn speed majestically on . . .
The crowd gave way, & I arose aghast,
Or seemed to rise, so mighty was the trance,
And saw like clouds upon the thunder blast
The million with fierce song and maniac dance
Raging around; such seemed the jubilee
As when to greet some conqueror's advance
Imperial Rome poured forth her living sea
From senatehouse & prison & theatre
When Freedom left those who upon the free
Had bound a yoke which soon they stooped to bear.
Nor wanted here the true similitude
Of a triumphal pageant, for where'er
The chariot rolled a captive multitude
Was driven; althose who had grown old in power
Or misery,--all who have their age subdued,
By action or by suffering, and whose hour
Was drained to its last sand in weal or woe,
So that the trunk survived both fruit & flower;
All those whose fame or infamy must grow
Till the great winter lay the form & name
Of their own earth with them forever low,
All but the sacred few who could not tame
Their spirits to the Conqueror, but as soon
As they had touched the world with living flame
Fled back like eagles to their native noon,
Of those who put aside the diadem
Of earthly thrones or gems, till the last one
Were there;--for they of Athens & Jerusalem
Were neither mid the mighty captives seen
Nor mid the ribald crowd that followed them
Or fled before . . Now swift, fierce & obscene
The wild dance maddens in the van, & those
Who lead it, fleet as shadows on the green,
Outspeed the chariot & without repose
Mix with each other in tempestuous measure
To savage music .... Wilder as it grows,
They, tortured by the agonizing pleasure,
Convulsed & on the rapid whirlwinds spun
Of that fierce spirit, whose unholy leisure
Was soothed by mischief since the world begun,
Throw back their heads & loose their streaming hair,
And in their dance round her who dims the Sun
Maidens & youths fling their wild arms in air
As their feet twinkle; they recede, and now
Bending within each other's atmosphere
Kindle invisibly; and as they glow
Like moths by light attracted & repelled,
Oft to new bright destruction come & go.
Till like two clouds into one vale impelled
That shake the mountains when their lightnings mingle
And die in rain,--the fiery band which held
Their natures, snaps . . . ere the shock cease to tingle
One falls and then another in the path
Senseless, nor is the desolation single,
Yet ere I can say where the chariot hath
Past over them; nor other trace I find
But as of foam after the Ocean's wrath
Is spent upon the desert shore.--Behind,
Old men, and women foully disarrayed
Shake their grey hair in the insulting wind,
Limp in the dance & strain, with limbs decayed,
Seeking to reach the light which leaves them still
Farther behind & deeper in the shade.
But not the less with impotence of will
They wheel, though ghastly shadows interpose
Round them & round each other, and fulfill
Their work and to the dust whence they arose
Sink & corruption veils them as they lie
And frost in these performs what fire in those.
Struck to the heart by this sad pageantry,
Half to myself I said, "And what is this?
Whose shape is that within the car? & why"-
I would have added--"is all here amiss?"
But a voice answered . . "Life" . . . I turned & knew
(O Heaven have mercy on such wretchedness!)
That what I thought was an old root which grew
To strange distortion out of the hill side
Was indeed one of that deluded crew,
And that the grass which methought hung so wide
And white, was but his thin discoloured hair,
And that the holes it vainly sought to hide
Were or had been eyes.--"lf thou canst forbear
To join the dance, which I had well forborne,"
Said the grim Feature, of my thought aware,
"I will now tell that which to this deep scorn
Led me & my companions, and relate
The progress of the pageant since the morn;
"If thirst of knowledge doth not thus abate,
Follow it even to the night, but I
Am weary" . . . Then like one who with the weight
Of his own words is staggered, wearily
He paused, and ere he could resume, I cried,
"First who art thou?" . . . "Before thy memory
"I feared, loved, hated, suffered, did, & died,
And if the spark with which Heaven lit my spirit
Earth had with purer nutriment supplied
"Corruption would not now thus much inherit
Of what was once Rousseau--nor this disguise
Stained that within which still disdains to wear it.--
"If I have been extinguished, yet there rise
A thousand beacons from the spark I bore."--
"And who are those chained to the car?" "The Wise,
"The great, the unforgotten: they who wore
Mitres & helms & crowns, or wreathes of light,
Signs of thought's empire over thought; their lore
"Taught them not this--to know themselves; their might
Could not repress the mutiny within,
And for the morn of truth they feigned, deep night
"Caught them ere evening." "Who is he with chin
Upon his breast and hands crost on his chain?"
"The Child of a fierce hour; he sought to win
"The world, and lost all it did contain
Of greatness, in its hope destroyed; & more
Of fame & peace than Virtue's self can gain
"Without the opportunity which bore
Him on its eagle's pinion to the peak
From which a thousand climbers have before
"Fall'n as Napoleon fell."--I felt my cheek
Alter to see the great form pass away
Whose grasp had left the giant world so weak
That every pigmy kicked it as it lay--
And much I grieved to think how power & will
In opposition rule our mortal day--
And why God made irreconcilable
Good & the means of good; and for despair
I half disdained mine eye's desire to fill
With the spent vision of the times that were
And scarce have ceased to be . . . "Dost thou behold,"
Said then my guide, "those spoilers spoiled, Voltaire,
"Frederic, & Kant, Catherine, & Leopold,
Chained hoary anarch, demagogue & sage
Whose name the fresh world thinks already old--
"For in the battle Life & they did wage
She remained conqueror--I was overcome
By my own heart alone, which neither age
"Nor tears nor infamy nor now the tomb
Could temper to its object."--"Let them pass"--
I cried--"the world & its mysterious doom
"Is not so much more glorious than it was
That I desire to worship those who drew
New figures on its false & fragile glass
"As the old faded."--"Figures ever new
Rise on the bubble, paint them how you may;
We have but thrown, as those before us threw,
"Our shadows on it as it past away.
But mark, how chained to the triumphal chair
The mighty phantoms of an elder day--
"All that is mortal of great Plato there
Expiates the joy & woe his master knew not;
That star that ruled his doom was far too fair--
"And Life, where long that flower of Heaven grew not,
Conquered the heart by love which gold or pain
Or age or sloth or slavery could subdue not--
"And near [[blank]] walk the [[blank]] twain,
The tutor & his pupil, whom Dominion
Followed as tame as vulture in a chain.--
"The world was darkened beneath either pinion
Of him whom from the flock of conquerors
Fame singled as her thunderbearing minion;
"The other long outlived both woes & wars,
Throned in new thoughts of men, and still had kept
The jealous keys of truth's eternal doors
"If Bacon's spirit [[blank]] had not leapt
Like lightning out of darkness; he compelled
The Proteus shape of Nature's as it slept
"To wake & to unbar the caves that held
The treasure of the secrets of its reign--
See the great bards of old who inly quelled
"The passions which they sung, as by their strain
May well be known: their living melody
Tempers its own contagion to the vein
"Of those who are infected with it--I
Have suffered what I wrote, or viler pain!--
"And so my words were seeds of misery--
Even as the deeds of others."--"Not as theirs,"
I said--he pointed to a company
In which I recognized amid the heirs
Of Caesar's crime from him to Constantine,
The Anarchs old whose force & murderous snares
Had founded many a sceptre bearing line
And spread the plague of blood & gold abroad,
And Gregory & John and men divine
Who rose like shadows between Man & god
Till that eclipse, still hanging under Heaven,
Was worshipped by the world o'er which they strode
For the true Sun it quenched.--"Their power was given
But to destroy," replied the leader--"I
Am one of those who have created, even
"If it be but a world of agony."--
"Whence camest thou & whither goest thou?
How did thy course begin," I said, "& why?
"Mine eyes are sick of this perpetual flow
Of people, & my heart of one sad thought.--
Speak."--"Whence I came, partly I seem to know,
"And how & by what paths I have been brought
To this dread pass, methinks even thou mayst guess;
Why this should be my mind can compass not;
"Whither the conqueror hurries me still less.
But follow thou, & from spectator turn
Actor or victim in this wretchedness,
"And what thou wouldst be taught I then may learn
From thee.--Now listen . . . In the April prime
When all the forest tops began to burn
"With kindling green, touched by the azure clime
Of the young year, I found myself asleep
Under a mountain which from unknown time
"Had yawned into a cavern high & deep,
And from it came a gentle rivulet
Whose water like clear air in its calm sweep
"Bent the soft grass & kept for ever wet
The stems of the sweet flowers, and filled the grove
With sound which all who hear must needs forget
"All pleasure & all pain, all hate & love,
Which they had known before that hour of rest:
A sleeping mother then would dream not of
"The only child who died upon her breast
At eventide, a king would mourn no more
The crown of which his brow was dispossest
"When the sun lingered o'er the Ocean floor
To gild his rival's new prosperity.--
Thou wouldst forget thus vainly to deplore
"Ills, which if ills, can find no cure from thee,
The thought of which no other sleep will quell
Nor other music blot from memory--
"So sweet & deep is the oblivious spell.--
Whether my life had been before that sleep
The Heaven which I imagine, or a Hell
"Like this harsh world in which I wake to weep,
I know not. I arose & for a space
The scene of woods & waters seemed to keep,
"Though it was now broad day, a gentle trace
Of light diviner than the common Sun
Sheds on the common Earth, but all the place
"Was filled with many sounds woven into one
Oblivious melody, confusing sense
Amid the gliding waves & shadows dun;
"And as I looked the bright omnipresence
Of morning through the orient cavern flowed,
And the Sun's image radiantly intense
"Burned on the waters of the well that glowed
Like gold, and threaded all the forest maze
With winding paths of emerald fire--there stood
"Amid the sun, as he amid the blaze
Of his own glory, on the vibrating
Floor of the fountain, paved with flashing rays,
"A shape all light, which with one hand did fling
Dew on the earth, as if she were the Dawn
Whose invisible rain forever seemed to sing
"A silver music on the mossy lawn,
And still before her on the dusky grass
Iris her many coloured scarf had drawn.--
"In her right hand she bore a crystal glass
Mantling with bright Nepenthe;--the fierce splendour
Fell from her as she moved under the mass
"Of the deep cavern, & with palms so tender
Their tread broke not the mirror of its billow,
Glided along the river, and did bend her
"Head under the dark boughs, till like a willow
Her fair hair swept the bosom of the stream
That whispered with delight to be their pillow.--
"As one enamoured is upborne in dream
O'er lily-paven lakes mid silver mist
To wondrous music, so this shape might seem
"Partly to tread the waves with feet which kist
The dancing foam, partly to glide along
The airs that roughened the moist amethyst,
"Or the slant morning beams that fell among
The trees, or the soft shadows of the trees;
And her feet ever to the ceaseless song
"Of leaves & winds & waves & birds & bees
And falling drops moved in a measure new
Yet sweet, as on the summer evening breeze
"Up from the lake a shape of golden dew
Between two rocks, athwart the rising moon,
Moves up the east, where eagle never flew.--
"And still her feet, no less than the sweet tune
To which they moved, seemed as they moved, to blot
The thoughts of him who gazed on them, & soon
"All that was seemed as if it had been not,
As if the gazer's mind was strewn beneath
Her feet like embers, & she, thought by thought,
"Trampled its fires into the dust of death,
As Day upon the threshold of the east
Treads out the lamps of night, until the breath
"Of darkness reillumines even the least
Of heaven's living eyes--like day she came,
Making the night a dream; and ere she ceased
"To move, as one between desire and shame
Suspended, I said--'If, as it doth seem,
Thou comest from the realm without a name,
" 'Into this valley of perpetual dream,
Shew whence I came, and where I am, and why--
Pass not away upon the passing stream.'
" 'Arise and quench thy thirst,' was her reply,
And as a shut lily, stricken by the wand
Of dewy morning's vital alchemy,
"I rose; and, bending at her sweet command,
Touched with faint lips the cup she raised,
And suddenly my brain became as sand
"Where the first wave had more than half erased
The track of deer on desert Labrador,
Whilst the fierce wolf from which they fled amazed
"Leaves his stamp visibly upon the shore
Until the second bursts--so on my sight
Burst a new Vision never seen before.--
"And the fair shape waned in the coming light
As veil by veil the silent splendour drops
From Lucifer, amid the chrysolite
"Of sunrise ere it strike the mountain tops--
And as the presence of that fairest planet
Although unseen is felt by one who hopes
"That his day's path may end as he began it
In that star's smile, whose light is like the scent
Of a jonquil when evening breezes fan it,
"Or the soft note in which his dear lament
The Brescian shepherd breathes, or the caress
That turned his weary slumber to content.--
"So knew I in that light's severe excess
The presence of that shape which on the stream
Moved, as I moved along the wilderness,
"More dimly than a day appearing dream,
The ghost of a forgotten form of sleep
A light from Heaven whose half extinguished beam
"Through the sick day in which we wake to weep
Glimmers, forever sought, forever lost.--
So did that shape its obscure tenour keep
"Beside my path, as silent as a ghost;
But the new Vision, and its cold bright car,
With savage music, stunning music, crost
"The forest, and as if from some dread war
Triumphantly returning, the loud million
Fiercely extolled the fortune of her star.--
"A moving arch of victory the vermilion
And green & azure plumes of Iris had
Built high over her wind-winged pavilion,
"And underneath aetherial glory clad
The wilderness, and far before her flew
The tempest of the splendour which forbade
Shadow to fall from leaf or stone;--the crew
Seemed in that light like atomies that dance
Within a sunbeam.--Some upon the new
"Embroidery of flowers that did enhance
The grassy vesture of the desart, played,
Forgetful of the chariot's swift advance;
"Others stood gazing till within the shade
Of the great mountain its light left them dim.--
Others outspeeded it, and others made
"Circles around it like the clouds that swim
Round the high moon in a bright sea of air,
And more did follow, with exulting hymn,
"The chariot & the captives fettered there,
But all like bubbles on an eddying flood
Fell into the same track at last & were
"Borne onward.--I among the multitude
Was swept; me sweetest flowers delayed not long,
Me not the shadow nor the solitude,
"Me not the falling stream's Lethean song,
Me, not the phantom of that early form
Which moved upon its motion,--but among
"The thickest billows of the living storm
I plunged, and bared my bosom to the clime
Of that cold light, whose airs too soon deform.--
"Before the chariot had begun to climb
The opposing steep of that mysterious dell,
Behold a wonder worthy of the rhyme
"Of him whom from the lowest depths of Hell
Through every Paradise & through all glory
Love led serene, & who returned to tell
"In words of hate & awe the wondrous story
How all things are transfigured, except Love;
For deaf as is a sea which wrath makes hoary
"The world can hear not the sweet notes that move
The sphere whose light is melody to lovers---
A wonder worthy of his rhyme--the grove
"Grew dense with shadows to its inmost covers,
The earth was grey with phantoms, & the air
Was peopled with dim forms, as when there hovers
"A flock of vampire-bats before the glare
Of the tropic sun, bring ere evening
Strange night upon some Indian isle,--thus were
"Phantoms diffused around, & some did fling
Shadows of shadows, yet unlike themselves,
Behind them, some like eaglets on the wing
"Were lost in the white blaze, others like elves
Danced in a thousand unimagined shapes
Upon the sunny streams & grassy shelves;
"And others sate chattering like restless apes
On vulgar paws and voluble like fire.
Some made a cradle of the ermined capes
"Of kingly mantles, some upon the tiar
Of pontiffs sate like vultures, others played
Within the crown which girt with empire
"A baby's or an idiot's brow, & made
Their nests in it; the old anatomies
Sate hatching their bare brood under the shade
"Of demon wings, and laughed from their dead eyes
To reassume the delegated power
Arrayed in which these worms did monarchize
"Who make this earth their charnel.--Others more
Humble, like falcons sate upon the fist
Of common men, and round their heads did soar,
"Or like small gnats & flies, as thick as mist
On evening marshes, thronged about the brow
Of lawyer, statesman, priest & theorist,
"And others like discoloured flakes of snow
On fairest bosoms & the sunniest hair
Fell, and were melted by the youthful glow
"Which they extinguished; for like tears, they were
A veil to those from whose faint lids they rained
In drops of sorrow.--I became aware
"Of whence those forms proceeded which thus stained
The track in which we moved; after brief space
From every form the beauty slowly waned,
"From every firmest limb & fairest face
The strength & freshness fell like dust, & left
The action & the shape without the grace
"Of life; the marble brow of youth was cleft
With care, and in the eyes where once hope shone
Desire like a lioness bereft
"Of its last cub, glared ere it died; each one
Of that great crowd sent forth incessantly
These shadows, numerous as the dead leaves blown
"In Autumn evening from a popular tree--
Each, like himself & like each other were,
At first, but soon distorted, seemed to be
"Obscure clouds moulded by the casual air;
And of this stuff the car's creative ray
Wrought all the busy phantoms that were there
"As the sun shapes the clouds--thus, on the way
Mask after mask fell from the countenance
And form of all, and long before the day
"Was old, the joy which waked like Heaven's glance
The sleepers in the oblivious valley, died,
And some grew weary of the ghastly dance
"And fell, as I have fallen by the way side,
Those soonest from whose forms most shadows past
And least of strength & beauty did abide."--
"Then, what is Life?" I said . . . the cripple cast
His eye upon the car which now had rolled
Onward, as if that look must be the last,
And answered .... "Happy those for whom the fold
Of ...

by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

GODS

Jupiter, Aged Diety
Apollo, Aged Diety
Mars, Aged Diety
Diana, Aged Diety
Mercury

THESPIANS

Thespis
Sillimon
TimidonTipseion
Preposteros
Stupidas
Sparkeio n
Nicemis
Pretteia
Daphne
Cymon

ACT I - Ruined Temple on the Summit of Mount Olympus


[Scene--The ruins of the The Temple of the Gods, on summit of
Mount Olympus. Picturesque shattered columns, overgrown with
ivy, etc. R. and L. with entrances to temple (ruined) R. Fallen
columns on the stage. Three broken pillars 2 R.E. At the back of
stage is the approach from the summit of the mountain. This
should be "practicable" to enable large numbers of people to
ascend and descend. In the distance are the summits of adjacent
mountains. At first all this is concealed by a thick fog, which
clears presently. Enter (through fog) Chorus of Stars coming off
duty as fatigued with their night's work]

CHO. Through the night, the constellations,
Have given light from various stations.
When midnight gloom falls on all nations,
We will resume our occupations.

SOLO. Our light, it's true, is not worth mention;
What can we do to gain attention.
When night and noon with vulgar glaring
A great big moon is always flaring.

[During chorus, enter Diana, an elderly goddess. She is carefully
wrapped up in cloaks, shawls, etc. A hood is over her head, a
respirator in her mouth, and galoshes on her feet. During the
chorus, she takes these things off and discovers herself dressed
in the usual costume of the Lunar Diana, the goddess of the moon.

DIA. [shuddering] Ugh. How cold the nights are. I don't know how
it is, but I seem to feel the night air a good deal more than I
used to. But it is time for the sun to be rising. [Calls] Apollo.

AP. [within] Hollo.

DIA. I've come off duty--it's time for you to be getting up.

[Enter Apollo. He is an elderly "buck" with an air of assumed
juvenility and is dressed in dressing gown and smoking cap.

AP. [yawning] I shan't go out today. I was out yesterday and the
day before and I want a little rest. I don't know how it is,but I
seem to feel my work a great deal more than I used to.

DIA. I am sure these short days can't hurt you. Why you don't
rise til six and you're in bed again by five; you should have a
turn at my work and see how you like that--out all night.

AP. My dear sister, I don't envy you--though I remember when I
did--but that was when I was a younger sun. I don't think I'm
quite well. Perhaps a little change of air will do me good. I've
a mind to show myself in London this winter. They'll be very glad
to see me. No. I shan't go out today. I shall send them this
fine, thick wholesome fog and they won't miss me. It's the best
substitute for a blazing sun--and like most substitutes, nothing
at all like the real thing.

[Fog clears away and discovers the scene described. Hurried
music. Mercury shoots up from behind precipice at the back of
stage. He carries several parcels afterwards described. He sits
down, very much fatigued.]

MER. Home at last. A nice time I've had of it.

DIA. You young scamp you've been out all night again. This is the
third time you've been out this week.

MER. Well you're a nice one to blow me up for that.

DIA. I can't help being out all night.

MER. And I can't help being down all night. The nature of Mercury
requires that he should go down when the sun sets, and rise again
when the sun rises.

DIA. And what have you been doing?

MER. Stealing on commission. There's a set of false teeth and a
box of Life Pills for Jupiter--an invisible peruke and a bottle
of hair dye--that's for Apollo--a respirator and a pair of
galoshes--that's for Cupid--a full bottomed chignon, some
auricomous fluid, a box of pearl-powder, a pot of rouge, and a
hare's foot--that's for Venus.

DIA. Stealing. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

MER. Oh, as the god of thieves I must do something to justify my
position.

DIA.and AP. [contemptuously] Your position.

MER. Oh, I know it's nothing to boast of even on earth. Up here,
it's simply contemptible. Now that you gods are too old for your
work, you've made me the miserable drudge of Olympus--groom,
valet, postman, butler, commissionaire, maid of all work, parish
beadle, and original dustman.

AP. Your Christmas boxes ought to be something considerable.

MER. They ought to be but they're not. I'm treated abominably.
I make everybody and I'm nobody. I go everywhere and I'm
nowhere. I do everything and I'm nothing. I've made thunder for
Jupiter, odes for Apollo, battles for Mars, and love for Venus.
I've married couples for Humen and six weeks afterwards, I've
divorced them for Cupid, and in return I get all the kicks while
they pocket the halfpence. And in compensation for robbing me of
the halfpence in question, what have they done for me.

AP. Why they've--ha.ha.ha. they've made you the god of thieves.

MER. Very self denying of them. There isn't one of them who
hasn't a better claim to the distinction than I have.

Oh, I'm the celestial drudge,
For morning to night I must stop at it.
On errands all day I must trudge,
And stick to my work til I drop at it.
In summer I get up at one.
(As a good-natured donkey I'm ranked for it.)
then I go and I light up the sun.
And Phoebus Apollo gets thanked for it.
Well, well, it's the way of the world.
And will be through all its futurity.
Though noodles are baroned and earled,
There's nothing for clever obscurity.

I'm the slave of the Gods, neck and heels,
And I'm bound to obey, though I rate at 'em.
And I not only order their meals,
But I cook 'em and serve'em and wait at 'em.
Then I make all their nectar, I do.
(What a terrible liquor to rack us is.)
And whenever I mix them a brew,
Why all the thanksgivings are Bacchus's.
Well, well, it's the way of the world, etc.....

The reading and writing I teach.
And spelling-books many I've edited.
And for bringing those arts within reach,
That donkey Minerva gets credited.
Then I scrape at the stars with a knife,
And plate-powder the moon (on the days for it).
And I hear all the world and his wife
Awarding Diana the praise for it.
Well, well, it's the way of the world, etc....

[After song--very loud and majestic music is heard]

DIA and MER [looking off] Why, who's this? Jupiter, by Jove.

[Enter Jupiter, an extremely old man, very decrepit, with very
thin straggling white beard, he wears a long braided dressing
gown, handsomely trimmed, and a silk night-cap on his head.
Mercury falls back respectfully as he enters.]

JUP. Good day, Diana. Ah, Apollo. Well, well, well, what's the
matter? What's the matter?

DIA. Why that young scamp Mercury says that we do nothing, and
leave all the duties of Olympus to him. Will you believe it, he
actually says that our influence on earth is dropping down to
nil.

JUP. Well, well. Don't be hard on the lad. To tell you the
truth, I'm not sure that he's far wrong. Don't let it go any
further, but, between ourselves, the sacrifices and votive
offerings have fallen off terribly of late. Why, I can remember
the time when people offered us human sacrifices, no mistake
about it, human sacrifices. Think of that.

DIA. Ah. Those good old days.

JUP. Then it fell off to oxen, pigs, and sheep.

AP. Well, there are worse things than oxen, pigs and sheep.

JUP. So I've found to my cost. My dear sir, between ourselves,
it's dropped off from one thing to another until it has
positively dwindled down to preserved Australian beef. What do
you think of that?

AP. I don't like it at all.

JUP. You won't mention it. It might go further.

DIA. It couldn't fare worse.

JUP. In short, matters have come to such a crisis that there's no
mistake about it--something must be done to restore our
influence, the only question is, what?

MER. [Coming forward in great alarm. Enter Mars]
Oh incident unprecedented.
I hardly can believe it's true.

MARS. Why, bless the boy, he's quite demented.
Why, what's the matter, sir, with you?

AP. Speak quickly, or you'll get a warming.

MER. Why, mortals up the mount are swarming
Our temple on Olympus storming,
In hundreds--aye in thousands, too.

ALL. Goodness gracious
How audacious
Earth is spacious
Why come here?
Our impeding
Their proceeding
Were good breeding
That is clear.

DIA. Jupiter, hear my plea.
Upon the mount if they light.
There'll be an end of me.
I won't be seen by daylight.

AP. Tartarus is the place
These scoundrels you should send to--
Should they behold my face.
My influence there's an end to.

JUP. [looking over precipice]
What fools to give themselves
so much exertion

DIA. A government survey I'll make assertion.

AP. Perhaps the Alpine clubs their diversion.

MER. They seem to be more like a "Cook's" excursion.

ALL. Goodness gracious, etc.

AP. If, mighty Jove, you value your existence,
Send them a thunderbolt with your regards.

JUP. My thunderbolts, though valid at a distance,
Are not effective at a hundred yards.

MER. Let the moon's rays, Diana, strike 'em flighty,
Make 'em all lunatics in various styles.

DIA. My lunar rays unhappily are mighty
Only at many hundred thousand miles.

ALL. Goodness gracious, etc...

[Exeunt Jupiter, Apollo, Diana, and Mercury into ruined temple]

[Enter Sparkeion and Nicemis climbing mountain at back.]

SPAR. Here we are at last on the very summit, and we've left the
others ever so far behind. Why, what's this?

NICE. A ruined palace. A palace on the top of a mountain. I
wonder who lives here? Some mighty kind, I dare say, with wealth
beyond all counting who came to live up here--

SPAR. To avoid his creditors. It's a lovely situation for a
country house though it's very much out of repair.

NICE. Very inconvenient situation.

SPAR. Inconvenient.

NICE. Yes, how are you to get butter, milk, and eggs up here? No
pigs, no poultry, no postman. Why, I should go mad.

SPAR. What a dear little practical mind it is. What a wife you
will make.

NICE. Don't be too sure--we are only partly married--the marriage
ceremony lasts all day.

SPAR. I have no doubt at all about it. We shall be as happy as a
king and queen, though we are only a strolling actor and actress.

NICE. It's very nice of Thespis to celebrate our marriage day by
giving the company a picnic on this lovely mountain.

SPAR. And still more kind to allow us to get so much ahead of all
the others. Discreet Thespis. [kissing her]

NICE,. There now, get away, do. Remember the marriage ceremony
is not yet completed.

SPAR. But it would be ungrateful to Thespis's discretion not to
take advantage of it by improving the opportunity.

NICE. Certainly not; get away.

SPAR. On second thought the opportunity's so good it don't admit
of improvement. There. [kisses her]

NICE. How dare you kiss me before we are quite married?

SPAR. Attribute it to the intoxicating influence of the mountain
air.

NICE. Then we had better do down again. It is not right to
expose ourselves to influences over which we have no control.

SPAR. Here far away from all the world,
Dissension and derision,
With Nature's wonders all unfurled
To our delighted vision,
With no one here
(At least in sight)
To interfere
With our delight,
And two fond lovers sever,
Oh do not free,
Thine hand from mine,
I swear to thee
My love is ever thine
For ever and for ever.

NICE. On mountain top the air is keen,
And most exhilarating,
And we say things we do not mean
In moments less elating.
So please to wait
For thoughts that crop,
En tete-a-tete,
On mountain top,
May not exactly tally
With those that you
May entertain,
Returning to
The sober plain
Of yon relaxing valley

SPAR. Very well--if you won't have anything to say to me, I know
who will.

NICE. Who will?

SPAR. Daphne will.

NICE. Daphne would flirt with anybody.

SPAR. Anybody would flirt with Daphne. She is quite as pretty as
you and has twice as much back-hair.

NICE. She has twice as much money, which may account for it.

SPAR. At all events, she has appreciation. She likes good looks.

NICE. We all like what we haven;t got.

SPAR. She keeps her eyes open.

NICE. Yes--one of them.

SPAR. Which one.

NICE. The one she doesn't wink with.

SPAR. Well, I was engaged to her for six months and if she still
makes eyes at me, you must attribute it to force of habit.
Besides--remember--we are only half-married at present.

NICE. I suppose you mean that you are going to treat me as
shamefully as you treated her. Very well, break it off if you
like. I shall not offer any objection. Thespis used to be very
attentive to me. I'd just as soon be a manager's wife as a fifth-
rate actor's.

[Chorus heard, at first below, then enter Daphne, Pretteia,
Preposteros, Stupidas, Tipseion, Cymon, and other members of
Thespis's company climbing over rocks at back. All carry small
baskets.]

CHO. [with dance] Climbing over rocky mountain
Skipping rivulet and fountain,
Passing where the willows quiver
By the ever rolling river,
Swollen with the summer rain.
Threading long and leafy mazes,
Dotted with unnumbered daisies,
Scaling rough and rugged passes,
Climb the hearty lads and lasses,
Til the mountain-top they gain.

FIRST VOICE. Fill the cup and tread the measure
Make the most of fleeting leisure.
Hail it as a true ally
Though it perish bye and bye.

SECOND VOICE. Every moment brings a treasure
Of its own especial pleasure,
Though the moments quickly die,
Greet them gaily as they fly.

THIRD VOICE. Far away from grief and care,
High up in the mountain air,
Let us live and reign alone,
In a world that's all our own.

FOURTH VOICE. Here enthroned in the sky,
Far away from mortal eye,
We'll be gods and make decrees,
Those may honor them who please.

CHO. Fill the cup and tread the measure...etc.

[After Chorus and Couples enter, Thespis climbing over rocks]

THES. Bless you, my people, bless you. Let the revels commence.
After all, for thorough, unconstrained unconventional enjoyment
give me a picnic.

PREP. [very gloomily] Give him a picnic, somebody.

THES. Be quiet, Preposteros. Don't interrupt.

PREP. Ha. Ha. Shut up again. But no matter.

[Stupidas endeavors, in pantomime, to reconcile him. Throughout
the scene Prep shows symptoms of breaking out into a furious
passion, and Stupidas does all he can to pacify and restrain
him.]

THES. The best of a picnic is that everybody contributes what he
pleases, and nobody knows what anybody else has brought til the
last moment. Now, unpack everybody and let's see what there is
for everybody.

NICE. I have brought you--a bottle of soda water--for the claret-
cup.

DAPH. I have brought you--lettuce for the lobster salad.

SPAR. A piece of ice--for the claret-cup.

PRETT. A bottle of vinegar--for the lobster salad.

CYMON. A bunch of burrage for the claret-cup.

TIPS. A hard boiled egg--for the lobster salad.

STUP. One lump of sugar for the claret-cup.

PREP. He has brought one lump of sugar for the claret-cup? Ha.
Ha. Ha. [laughing melodramatically]

STUP. Well, Preposteros, what have you brought?

PREP. I have brought two lumps of the very best salt for the
lobster salad.

THES. Oh--is that all?

PREP. All. Ha. Ha. He asks if it is all. {Stup. consoles him]

THES. But, I say--this is capital so far as it goes. Nothing
could be better, but it doesn't go far enough. The claret, for
instance. I don't insist on claret--or a lobster--I don't insist
on lobster, but a lobster salad without a lobster, why it isn't
lobster salad. Here, Tipseion.

TIP. [a very drunken, bloated fellow, dressed, however, with
scrupulous accuracy and wearing a large medal around his neck] My
master. [Falls on his knees to Thes. and kisses his robe.]

THES. Get up--don't be a fool. Where's the claret? We arranged
last week that you were to see to that.

TIPS. True, dear master. But then I was a drunkard.

THES. You were.

TIPS. You engaged me to play convivial parts on the strength of
my personal appearance.

THES. I did.

TIPS. Then you found that my habits interfered with my duties as
low comedian.

THES. True.

TIPS. You said yesterday that unless I took the pledge you would
dismiss me from your company.

THES. Quite so.

TIPS. Good. I have taken it. It is all I have taken since
yesterday. My preserver. [embraces him]

THES. Yes, but where's the wine?

TIPS. I left it behind that I might not be tempted to violate my
pledge.

PREP. Minion. [Attempts to get at him, is restrained by Stupidas]

THES. Now, Preposteros, what is the matter with you?

PREP. It is enough that I am down-trodden in my profession. I
will not submit to imposition out of it. It is enough that as
your heavy villain I get the worst of it every night in a combat
of six. I will not submit to insult in the day time. I have come
out. Ha. Ha. to enjoy myself.

THES. But look here, you know--virtue only triumphs at night from
seven to ten--vice gets the best of it during the other twenty
one hours. Won't that satisfy you? [Stupidas endeavours to
pacify him.]

PREP. [Irritated to Stupidas] Ye are odious to my sight. Get out
of it.

STUP. [In great terror] What have I done?

THES. Now what is it. Preposteros, what is it?

PREP. I a -- hate him and would have his life.

THES. [to Stup.] That's it--he hates you and would have your
life. Now go and be merry.

STUP. Yes, but why does he hate me?

THES. Oh--exactly. [to Prep.] Why do you hate him?

PREP. Because he is a minion.

THES. He hates you because you are a minion. It explains itself.
Now go and enjoy yourselves. Ha. Ha. It is well for those who can
laugh--let them do so--there is no extra charge. The light-
hearted cup and the convivial jest for them--but for me--what is
there for me?

SILLI. There is some claret-cup and lobster salad [handing some]

THES. [taking it] Thank you. [Resuming] What is there for me but
anxiety--ceaseless gnawing anxiety that tears at my very vitals
and rends my peace of mind asunder? There is nothing whatever
for me but anxiety of the nature I have just described. The
charge of these thoughtless revellers is my unhappy lot. It is
not a small charge, and it is rightly termed a lot because there
are many. Oh why did the gods make me a manager?

SILL. [as guessing a riddle] Why did the gods make him a manager?

SPAR. Why did the gods make him a manager.

DAPH. Why did the gods make him a manager?

PRETT. Why did the gods make him a manager?

THES. No--no--what are you talking about? What do you mean?

DAPH. I've got it--no don't tell us.

ALL. No--no--because--because

THES. [annoyed] It isn't a conundrum. It's misanthropical
question.

DAPH. [Who is sitting with Spar. to the annoyance of Nice. who is
crying alone] I'm sure I don't know. We do not want you. Don't
distress yourself on our account--we are getting on very
comfortably--aren't we Sparkeion.

SPAR. We are so happy that we don't miss the lobster or the
claret. What are lobster and claret compared with the society of
those we love? [embracing Daphne.]

DAPH. Why, Nicemis, love, you are eating nothing. Aren't you
happy dear?

NICE. [spitefully] You are quite welcome to my share of
everything. I intend to console myself with the society of my
manager. [takes Thespis' arm affectionately].

THES. Here I say--this won't do, you know--I can't allow it--at
least before my company--besides, you are half-married to
Sparkeion. Sparkeion, here's your half-wife impairing my
influence before my company. Don't you know the story of the
gentleman who undermined his influence by associating with his
inferiors?

ALL. Yes, yes--we know it.

PREP. [formally] I do not know it. It's ever thus. Doomed to
disappointment from my earliest years. [Stup. endeavours to
console him]

THES. There--that's enough. Preposteros--you shall hear it.

I once knew a chap who discharged a function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
He was conspicuous exceeding,
For his affable ways, and his easy breeding.
Although a chairman of directions,
He was hand in glove with the ticket inspectors.
He tipped the guards with brand new fivers,
And sang little songs to the engine drivers.
'Twas told to me with great compunction,
By one who had discharged with unction
A chairman of directors function
On the North South East West Diddlesex Junction.
Fol diddle, lol diddle, lol lol lay.

Each Christmas day he gave each stoker
A silver shovel and a golden poker.
He'd button holw flowers for the ticket sorters
And rich Bath-buns for the outside porters.
He'd moun the clerks on his first-class hunters,
And he build little villas for the road-side shunters,
And if any were fond of pigeon shooting,
He'd ask them down to his place at Tooting.
Twas told to me....etc.

In course of time there spread a rumour
That he did all this from a sense of humour.
So instead of signalling and stoking,
They gave themselves up to a course of joking.
Whenever they knew that he was riding,
They shunted his train on a lonely siding,
Or stopped all night in the middle of a tunnel,
On the plea that the boiler was a-coming through the funnel.
Twas told to me...etc.

It he wished to go to Perth or Stirling,
His train through several counties whirling,
Would set him down in a fit of larking,
At four a.m. in the wilds of Barking.
This pleased his whim and seemed to strike it,
But the general public did not like it.
The receipts fell, after a few repeatings,
And he got it hot at the annual meetings.
Twas told to me...etc.

He followed out his whim with vigour,
The shares went down to a nominal figure.
These are the sad results proceeding
From his affable ways and his easy breeding.
The line, with its rais and guards and peelers,
Was sold for a song to marine store dealers
The shareholders are all in the work'us,
And he sells pipe-lights in the Regent Circus.
Twas told to me...etc.

It's very hard. As a man I am naturally of an easy disposition.
As a manager, I am compelled to hold myself aloof, that my
influence may not be deteriorated. As a man I am inclined to
fraternize with the pauper--as a manager I am compelled to walk
around like this: Don't know yah. Don't know yah. Don't know yah.

[Strides haughtily about the stage. Jupiter, Mars, and Apollo, in
full Olympian costume appear on the three broken columns.
Thespians scream.]

JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.

THES. Don't know ya. Don't know yah.

JUP, MARS, AP. [seated on broken pillars] Presumptuous mortal.

THES. I do not know you. I do not know you.

JUP, MARS, AP. Presumptuous mortal.

THES. Remove this person.

[Stup and Prep seize Ap and Mars]

JUP. Stop, you evidently don't know me. Allow me to offer you my
card. [Throws flash paper]

THES. Ah yes, it's very pretty, but we don't want any at present.
When we do our Christmas piece, I'll let you know. [Changing his
manner] Look here, you know this is a private party and we
haven't the pleasure of your acquaintance. There are a good many
other mountains about, if you must have a mountain all to
yourself. Don't make me let myself down before my company.
[Resuming] Don't know yah, Don't know yah.

JUP. I am Jupiter, the king of the gods. This is Apollo. This is
Mars. [All kneel to them except Thespis]

THES. Oh. Then as I'm a respectable man, and rather particular
about the company I keep, I think I'll go.

JUP. No--no--stop a bit. We want to consult you on a matter of
great importance. There. Now we are alone. Who are you?

THES. I am Thespis of the Thessalian Theatres.

JUP. The very man we want. Now as a judge of what the public
likes are you impressed with my appearance as father of the gods?

THES. Well to be candid with you, I am not. In fact I'm
disappointed.

JUP. Disappointed?

THES. Yes, you see you're so much out of repair. No, you don't
come up to my idea of the part. Bless you, I've played you often.

JUP. You have.

THES. To be sure I have.

JUP. And how have you dressed the part.

THES. Fine commanding party in the prime of life. Thunderbolt--
full beard--dignified manner--a good eal of this sort of thin
"Don't know ya. Don't know yah. Don't know yah.

JUP. [much affected] I--I'm very much obliged to you. It's very
good of you. I--I--I used to be like that. I can't tell you how
much I feel it. And do you find I'm an impressive character to
play?

THES. Well no, I can't say you are. In fact we don't you you
much out of burlesque.

JUP. Burlesque!

THES. Yes, it's a painful subject, drop it, drop it. The fact
is, you are not the gods you were--you're behind your age.

JUP. Well, but what are we to do? We feel that we ought to do
something, but we don't know what.

THES. Why don't you all go down to earth, incog, mingle with the
world, hear and see what people think of you, and judge for
yourselves as to the best means to take to restore your
influence?

JUP. Ah, but what's to become of Olympus in the meantime?

THES. Lor' bless you, don't distress yourself about that. I've a
very good company, used to take long parts on the shortest
notice. Invest us with your powers and we'll fill your places
till you return.

JUP. [aside] The offer is tempting. But suppose you fail?

THES. Fail. Oh, we never fail in our profession. We've nothing
but great successes.

JUP. Then it's a bargain.

THES. It's a bargain. [they shake hands on it]

JUP. And that you may not be entirely without assistance, we will
leave you Mercury and whenever you find yourself in a difficulty
you can consult him. [enter Mercury]

JUP. So that's arranged--you take my place, my boy,
While we make trial of a new existence.
At length I will be able to enjoy
The pleasures I have envied from a distance.

MER. Compelled upon Olympus here to stop,
While the other gods go down to play the hero.
Don't be surprised if on this mountain top
You find your Mercury is down at zero.

AP. To earth away to join in mortal acts.
And gather fresh materials to write on.
Investigate more closely, several facts,
That I for centuries have thrown some light on.

DIA. I, as the modest moon with crescent bow.
Have always shown a light to nightly scandal,
I must say I'd like to go below,
And find out if the game is worth the candle.

[enter all thespians, summoned by Mercury]

MER. Here come your people.

THES. People better now.

THES. While mighty Jove goes down below
With all the other deities.
I fill his place and wear his "clo,"
The very part for me it is.
To mother earth to make a track,
They are all spurred and booted, too.
And you will fill, till they come back,
The parts you best are suited to.

CHO. Here's a pretty tale for future Iliads and Odysseys
Mortals are about to personate the gods and goddesses.
Now to set the world in order, we will work in unity.
Jupiter's perplexity is Thespis's opportunity.

SPAR. Phoebus am I, with golden ray,
The god of day, the god of day.
When shadowy night has held her sway,
I make the goddesses fly.
Tis mine the task to wake the world,
In slumber curled, in slumber curled.
By me her charms are all unfurled
The god of day am I.

CHO. The god of day, the god of day,
The park shall our Sparkeion play,
Ha Ha, etc.
The rarest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha ha etc.

NICE. I am the moon, the lamp of night.
I show a light -- I show a light.
With radiant sheen I put to flight
The shadows of the sky.
By my fair rays, as you're aware,
Gay lovers swear--gay lovers swear,
While greybeards sleep away their care,
The lamp of night am I.

CHO. The lamp of night-the lamp of night.
Nicemis plays, to her delight.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share,
Ha Ha Ha Ha

TIM. Mighty old Mars, the god of war,
I'm destined for--I'm destined for.
A terribly famous conqueror,
With sword upon his thigh.
When armies meet with eager shout
And warlike rout, and warlike rout,
You'll find me there without a doubt.
The God of War am I.

CHO. The god of war, the god of war
Great Timidon is destined for.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rest fun and rarest fare
That ever fell to mortal share
Ha Ha Ha Ha

DAPH. When, as the fruit of warlike deeds,
The soldier bleed, the soldier bleeds,
Calliope crowns heroic deeds,
With immortality.
From mere oblivion I reclaim
The soldier's name, the soldier's name
And write it on the roll of fame,
The muse of fame am I.

CHO. The muse of fame, the muse of fame.
Callipe is Daphne's name.
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The rarest fun and rarest fare,
That ever fell to mortal share.
Ha Ha Ha Ha.

TUTTI. Here's a pretty tale.

[Enter procession of old Gods, they come down very much
astonished at all they see, then passing by, ascent the platform
that leads to the descent at the back.]

GODS. We will go,
Down below,
Revels rare,
We will share.
Ha Ha Ha
With a gay
Holiday
All unknown,
And alone
Ha Ha Ha.

TUTTI. Here's a pretty tale.

[The gods, including those who have lately entered in procession
group themselves on rising ground at back. The Thespians kneeling
bid them farewell.]

by William Schwenck Gilbert.

Book Seventh [residence In London]

SIX changeful years have vanished since I first
Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze
Which met me issuing from the City's walls)
A glad preamble to this Verse: I sang
Aloud, with fervour irresistible
Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting,
From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side
To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth
(So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream,
That flowed awhile with unabating strength,
Then stopped for years; not audible again
Before last primrose-time. Beloved Friend!
The assurance which then cheered some heavy thoughts
On thy departure to a foreign land
Has failed; too slowly moves the promised work.
Through the whole summer have I been at rest,
Partly from voluntary holiday,
And part through outward hindrance. But I heard,
After the hour of sunset yester-even,
Sitting within doors between light and dark,
A choir of redbreasts gathered somewhere near
My threshold,--minstrels from the distant woods
Sent in on Winter's service, to announce,
With preparation artful and benign,
That the rough lord had left the surly North
On his accustomed journey. The delight,
Due to this timely notice, unawares
Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said,
'Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be
Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds,
Will chant together.' Thereafter, as the shades
Of twilight deepened, going forth, I spied
A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume
Or canopy of yet unwithered fern,
Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen
Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here
No less than sound had done before; the child
Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself,
The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills,
Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir
Of Winter that had warbled at my door,
And the whole year breathed tenderness and love.

The last night's genial feeling overflowed
Upon this morning, and my favourite grove,
Tossing in sunshine its dark boughs aloft,
As if to make the strong wind visible,
Wakes in me agitations like its own,
A spirit friendly to the Poet's task,
Which we will now resume with lively hope,
Nor checked by aught of tamer argument
That lies before us, needful to be told.

Returned from that excursion, soon I bade
Farewell for ever to the sheltered seats
Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower,
And every comfort of that privileged ground,
Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among
The unfenced regions of society.

Yet, undetermined to what course of life
I should adhere, and seeming to possess
A little space of intermediate time
At full command, to London first I turned,
In no disturbance of excessive hope,
By personal ambition unenslaved,
Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed,
From dangerous passions free. Three years had flown
Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock
Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced
Her endless streets, a transient visitant:
Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind
Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly,
And life and labour seem but one, I filled
An idler's place; an idler well content
To have a house (what matter for a home?)
That owned him; living cheerfully abroad
With unchecked fancy ever on the stir,
And all my young affections out of doors.

There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned
Of airy palaces, and gardens built
By Genii of romance; or hath in grave
Authentic history been set forth of Rome,
Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis;
Or given upon report by pilgrim friars,
Of golden cities ten months' journey deep
Among Tartarian wilds--fell short, far short,
Of what my fond simplicity believed
And thought of London--held me by a chain
Less strong of wonder and obscure delight.
Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot
For me beyond its ordinary mark,
'Twere vain to ask; but in our flock of boys
Was One, a cripple from his birth, whom chance
Summoned from school to London; fortunate
And envied traveller! When the Boy returned,
After short absence, curiously I scanned
His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth,
From disappointment, not to find some change
In look and air, from that new region brought,
As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him;
And every word he uttered, on my ears
Fell flatter than a caged parrot's note,
That answers unexpectedly awry,
And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things
Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears
Almost as deeply seated and as strong
In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived
For my enjoyment. Would that I could now
Recall what then I pictured to myself,
Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad,
The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last,
Nor least, Heaven bless him! the renowned Lord Mayor.
Dreams not unlike to those which once begat
A change of purpose in young Whittington,
When he, a friendless and a drooping boy,
Sate on a stone, and heard the bells speak out
Articulate music. Above all, one thought
Baffled my understanding: how men lived
Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still
Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.

Oh, wondrous power of words, by simple faith
Licensed to take the meaning that we love!
Vauxhall and Ranelagh! I then had heard
Of your green groves, and wilderness of lamps
Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical,
And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes,
Floating in dance, or warbling high in air
The songs of spirits! Nor had Fancy fed
With less delight upon that other class
Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent:
The River proudly bridged; the dizzy top
And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; the tombs
Of Westminster; the Giants of Guildhall;
Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates,
Perpetually recumbent; Statues--man,
And the horse under him--in gilded pomp
Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares;
The Monument, and that Chamber of the Tower
Where England's sovereigns sit in long array,
Their steeds bestriding,--every mimic shape
Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore,
Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed,
Or life or death upon the battle-field.
Those bold imaginations in due time
Had vanished, leaving others in their stead:
And now I looked upon the living scene;
Familiarly perused it; oftentimes,
In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased
Through courteous self-submission, as a tax
Paid to the object by prescriptive right.

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain
Of a too busy world! Before me flow,
Thou endless stream of men and moving things!
Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes--
With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe--
On strangers, of all ages; the quick dance
Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din;
The comers and the goers face to face,
Face after face; the string of dazzling wares,
Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names,
And all the tradesman's honours overhead:
Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page,
With letters huge inscribed from top to toe,
Stationed above the door, like guardian saints;
There, allegoric shapes, female or male,
Or physiognomies of real men,
Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea,
Boyle, Shakspeare, Newton, or the attractive head
Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day.

Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length,
Escaped as from an enemy, we turn
Abruptly into some sequestered nook,
Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud!
At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort,
And sights and sounds that come at intervals,
We take our way. A raree-show is here,
With children gathered round; another street
Presents a company of dancing dogs,
Or dromedary, with an antic pair
Of monkeys on his back; a minstrel band
Of Savoyards; or, single and alone,
An English ballad-singer. Private courts,
Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes
Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike
The very shrillest of all London cries,
May then entangle our impatient steps;
Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares,
To privileged regions and inviolate,
Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers
Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.

Thence back into the throng, until we reach,
Following the tide that slackens by degrees,
Some half-frequented scene, where wider streets
Bring straggling breezes of suburban air.
Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls;
Advertisements, of giant-size, from high
Press forward, in all colours, on the sight;
These, bold in conscious merit, lower down;
'That', fronted with a most imposing word,
Is, peradventure, one in masquerade.
As on the broadening causeway we advance,
Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong
In lineaments, and red with over-toil.
'Tis one encountered here and everywhere;
A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short,
And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb
Another lies at length, beside a range
Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed
Upon the smooth flint stones: the Nurse is here,
The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself,
The military Idler, and the Dame,
That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps.

Now homeward through the thickening hubbub, where
See, among less distinguishable shapes,
The begging scavenger, with hat in hand;
The Italian, as he thrids his way with care,
Steadying, far-seen, a frame of images
Upon his head; with basket at his breast
The Jew; the stately and slow-moving Turk,
With freight of slippers piled beneath his arm!

Enough;--the mighty concourse I surveyed
With no unthinking mind, well pleased to note
Among the crowd all specimens of man,
Through all the colours which the sun bestows,
And every character of form and face:
The Swede, the Russian; from the genial south,
The Frenchman and the Spaniard; from remote
America, the Hunter-Indian; Moors,
Malays, Lascars, the Tartar, the Chinese,
And Negro Ladies in white muslin gowns.

At leisure, then, I viewed, from day to day,
The spectacles within doors,--birds and beasts
Of every nature, and strange plants convened
From every clime; and, next, those sights that ape
The absolute presence of reality,
Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land,
And what earth is, and what she has to show.
I do not here allude to subtlest craft,
By means refined attaining purest ends,
But imitations, fondly made in plain
Confession of man's weakness and his loves.
Whether the Painter, whose ambitious skill
Submits to nothing less than taking in
A whole horizon's circuit, do with power,
Like that of angels or commissioned spirits,
Fix us upon some lofty pinnacle,
Or in a ship on waters, with a world
Of life, and life-like mockery beneath,
Above, behind, far stretching and before;
Or more mechanic artist represent
By scale exact, in model, wood or clay,
From blended colours also borrowing help,
Some miniature of famous spots or things,--
St. Peter's Church; or, more aspiring aim,
In microscopic vision, Rome herself;
Or, haply, some choice rural haunt,--the Falls
Of Tivoli; and, high upon that steep,
The Sibyl's mouldering Temple! every tree,
Villa, or cottage, lurking among rocks
Throughout the landscape; tuft, stone scratch minute--
All that the traveller sees when he is there.

Add to these exhibitions, mute and still,
Others of wider scope, where living men,
Music, and shifting pantomimic scenes,
Diversified the allurement. Need I fear
To mention by its name, as in degree,
Lowest of these and humblest in attempt,
Yet richly graced with honours of her own,
Half-rural Sadler's Wells? Though at that time
Intolerant, as is the way of youth
Unless itself be pleased, here more than once
Taking my seat, I saw (nor blush to add,
With ample recompense) giants and dwarfs,
Clowns, conjurors, posture-masters, harlequins,
Amid the uproar of the rabblement,
Perform their feats. Nor was it mean delight
To watch crude Nature work in untaught minds;
To note the laws and progress of belief;
Though obstinate on this way, yet on that
How willingly we travel, and how far!
To have, for instance, brought upon the scene
The champion, Jack the Giant-killer: Lo!
He dons his coat of darkness; on the stage
Walks, and achieves his wonders, from the eye
Of living Mortal covert, 'as the moon
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.'
Delusion bold! and how can it be wrought?
The garb he wears is black as death, the word
'Invisible' flames forth upon his chest.

Here, too, were 'forms and pressures of the time,'
Rough, bold, as Grecian comedy displayed
When Art was young; dramas of living men,
And recent things yet warm with life; a sea-fight,
Shipwreck, or some domestic incident
Divulged by Truth and magnified by Fame;
Such as the daring brotherhood of late
Set forth, too serious theme for that light place--
I mean, O distant Friend! a story drawn
From our own ground,--the Maid of Buttermere,--
And how, unfaithful to a virtuous wife
Deserted and deceived, the Spoiler came
And wooed the artless daughter of the hills,
And wedded her, in cruel mockery
Of love and marriage bonds. These words to thee
Must needs bring back the moment when we first,
Ere the broad world rang with the maiden's name,
Beheld her serving at the cottage inn;
Both stricken, as she entered or withdrew,
With admiration of her modest mien
And carriage, marked by unexampled grace.
We since that time not unfamiliarly
Have seen her,--her discretion have observed,
Her just opinions, delicate reserve,
Her patience, and humility of mind
Unspoiled by commendation and the excess
Of public notice--an offensive light
To a meek spirit suffering inwardly.

From this memorial tribute to my theme
I was returning, when, with sundry forms
Commingled--shapes which met me in the way
That we must tread--thy image rose again,
Maiden of Buttermere! She lives in peace
Upon the spot where she was born and reared;
Without contamination doth she live
In quietness, without anxiety:
Beside the mountain chapel, sleeps in earth
Her new-born infant, fearless as a lamb
That, thither driven from some unsheltered place,
Rests underneath the little rock-like pile
When storms are raging. Happy are they both--
Mother and child!--These feelings, in themselves
Trite, do yet scarcely seem so when I think
On those ingenuous moments of our youth
Ere we have learnt by use to slight the crimes
And sorrows of the world. Those simple days
Are now my theme; and, foremost of the scenes,
Which yet survive in memory, appears
One, at whose centre sate a lovely Boy,
A sportive infant, who, for six months' space,
Not more, had been of age to deal about
Articulate prattle--Child as beautiful
As ever clung around a mother's neck,
Or father fondly gazed upon with pride.
There, too, conspicuous for stature tall
And large dark eyes, beside her infant stood
The mother; but, upon her cheeks diffused,
False tints too well accorded with the glare
From play-house lustres thrown without reserve
On every object near. The Boy had been
The pride and pleasure of all lookers-on
In whatsoever place, but seemed in this
A sort of alien scattered from the clouds.
Of lusty vigour, more than infantine
He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose
Just three parts blown--a cottage-child--if e'er,
By cottage-door on breezy mountain-side,
Or in some sheltering vale, was seen a babe
By Nature's gifts so favoured. Upon a board
Decked with refreshments had this child been placed
'His' little stage in the vast theatre,
And there he sate, surrounded with a throng
Of chance spectators, chiefly dissolute men
And shameless women, treated and caressed;
Ate, drank, and with the fruit and glasses played,
While oaths and laughter and indecent speech
Were rife about him as the songs of birds
Contending after showers. The mother now
Is fading out of memory, but I see
The lovely Boy as I beheld him then
Among the wretched and the falsely gay,
Like one of those who walked with hair unsinged
Amid the fiery furnace. Charms and spells
Muttered on black and spiteful instigation
Have stopped, as some believe, the kindliest growths.
Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer
Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked
By special privilege of Nature's love,
Should in his childhood be detained for ever!
But with its universal freight the tide
Hath rolled along, and this bright innocent,
Mary! may now have lived till he could look
With envy on thy nameless babe that sleeps,
Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.

Four rapid years had scarcely then been told
Since, travelling southward from our pastoral hills,
I heard, and for the first time in my life,
The voice of woman utter blasphemy--
Saw woman as she is, to open shame
Abandoned, and the pride of public vice;
I shuddered, for a barrier seemed at once
Thrown in that from humanity divorced
Humanity, splitting the race of man
In twain, yet leaving the same outward form.
Distress of mind ensued upon the sight,
And ardent meditation. Later years
Brought to such spectacle a milder sadness,
Feelings of pure commiseration, grief
For the individual and the overthrow
Of her soul's beauty; farther I was then
But seldom led, or wished to go; in truth
The sorrow of the passion stopped me there.

But let me now, less moved, in order take
Our argument. Enough is said to show
How casual incidents of real life,
Observed where pastime only had been sought,
Outweighed, or put to flight, the set events
And measured passions of the stage, albeit
By Siddons trod in the fulness of her power.
Yet was the theatre my dear delight;
The very gilding, lamps and painted scrolls,
And all the mean upholstery of the place,
Wanted not animation, when the tide
Of pleasure ebbed but to return as fast
With the ever-shifting figures of the scene,
Solemn or gay: whether some beauteous dame
Advanced in radiance through a deep recess
Of thick entangled forest, like the moon
Opening the clouds; or sovereign king, announced
With flourishing trumpet, came in full-blown state
Of the world's greatness, winding round with train
Of courtiers, banners, and a length of guards;
Or captive led in abject weeds, and jingling
His slender manacles; or romping girl
Bounced, leapt, and pawed the air; or mumbling sire,
A scare-crow pattern of old age dressed up
In all the tatters of infirmity
All loosely put together, hobbled in,
Stumping upon a cane with which he smites,
From time to time, the solid boards, and makes them
Prate somewhat loudly of the whereabout
Of one so overloaded with his years.
But what of this! the laugh, the grin, grimace,
The antics striving to outstrip each other,
Were all received, the least of them not lost,
With an unmeasured welcome. Through the night,
Between the show, and many-headed mass
Of the spectators, and each several nook
Filled with its fray or brawl, how eagerly
And with what flashes, as it were, the mind
Turned this way--that way! sportive and alert
And watchful, as a kitten when at play,
While winds are eddying round her, among straws
And rustling leaves. Enchanting age and sweet!
Romantic almost, looked at through a space,
How small, of intervening years! For then,
Though surely no mean progress had been made
In meditations holy and sublime,
Yet something of a girlish child-like gloss
Of novelty survived for scenes like these;
Enjoyment haply handed down from times
When at a country-playhouse, some rude barn
Tricked out for that proud use, if I perchance
Caught, on a summer evening through a chink
In the old wall, an unexpected glimpse
Of daylight, the bare thought of where I was
Gladdened me more than if I had been led
Into a dazzling cavern of romance,
Crowded with Genii busy among works
Not to be looked at by the common sun.

The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, and the curious props
By which the world of memory and thought
Exists and is sustained. More lofty themes,
Such as at least do wear a prouder face,
Solicit our regard; but when I think
Of these, I feel the imaginative power
Languish within me; even then it slept,
When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart
Was more than full; amid my sobs and tears
It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth.
For though I was most passionately moved
And yielded to all changes of the scene
With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm
Passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind;
Save when realities of act and mien,
The incarnation of the spirits that move
In harmony amid the Poet's world,
Rose to ideal grandeur, or, called forth
By power of contrast, made me recognise,
As at a glance, the things which I had shaped,
And yet not shaped, had seen and scarcely seen,
When, having closed the mighty Shakspeare's page,
I mused, and thought, and felt, in solitude.

Pass we from entertainments, that are such
Professedly, to others titled higher,
Yet, in the estimate of youth at least,
More near akin to those than names imply,--
I mean the brawls of lawyers in their courts
Before the ermined judge, or that great stage
Where senators, tongue-favoured men, perform,
Admired and envied. Oh! the beating heart,
When one among the prime of these rose up,--
One, of whose name from childhood we had heard
Familiarly, a household term, like those,
The Bedfords, Glosters, Salsburys, of old,
Whom the fifth Harry talks of. Silence! hush!
This is no trifler, no short-flighted wit,
No stammerer of a minute, painfully
Delivered, No! the Orator hath yoked
The Hours, like young Aurora, to his car:
Thrice welcome Presence! how can patience e'er
Grow weary of attending on a track
That kindles with such glory! All are charmed,
Astonished; like a hero in romance,
He winds away his never-ending horn;
Words follow words, sense seems to follow sense:
What memory and what logic! till the strain
Transcendent, superhuman as it seemed,
Grows tedious even in a young man's ear.

Genius of Burke! forgive the pen seduced
By specious wonders, and too slow to tell
Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men,
Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides,
And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught,
Rapt auditors! from thy most eloquent tongue--
Now mute, for ever mute in the cold grave.
I see him,--old, but vigorous in age,--
Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start
Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe
The younger brethren of the grove. But some--
While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth,
Against all systems built on abstract rights,
Keen ridicule; the majesty proclaims
Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time;
Declares the vital power of social ties
Endeared by Custom; and with high disdain,
Exploding upstart Theory, insists
Upon the allegiance to which men are born--
Some--say at once a froward multitude--
Murmur (for truth is hated, where not loved)
As the winds fret within the Aeolian cave,
Galled by their monarch's chain. The times were big
With ominous change, which, night by night, provoked
Keen struggles, and black clouds of passion raised;
But memorable moments intervened,
When Wisdom, like the Goddess from Jove's brain,
Broke forth in armour of resplendent words,
Startling the Synod. Could a youth, and one
In ancient story versed, whose breast had heaved
Under the weight of classic eloquence,
Sit, see, and hear, unthankful, uninspired?

Nor did the Pulpit's oratory fail
To achieve its higher triumph. Not unfelt
Were its admonishments, nor lightly heard
The awful truths delivered thence by tongues
Endowed with various power to search the soul;
Yet ostentation, domineering, oft
Poured forth harangues, how sadly out of place!--
There have I seen a comely bachelor,
Fresh from a toilette of two hours, ascend
His rostrum, with seraphic glance look up,
And, in a tone elaborately low
Beginning, lead his voice through many a maze
A minuet course; and, winding up his mouth,
From time to time, into an orifice
Most delicate, a lurking eyelet, small,
And only not invisible, again
Open it out, diffusing thence a smile
Of rapt irradiation, exquisite.
Meanwhile the Evangelists, Isaiah, Job,
Moses, and he who penned, the other day,
The Death of Abel, Shakspeare, and the Bard
Whose genius spangled o'er a gloomy theme
With fancies thick as his inspiring stars,
And Ossian (doubt not--'tis the naked truth)
Summoned from streamy Morven--each and all
Would, in their turns, lend ornaments and flowers
To entwine the crook of eloquence that helped
This pretty Shepherd, pride of all the plains,
To rule and guide his captivated flock.

I glance but at a few conspicuous marks,
Leaving a thousand others, that, in hall,
Court, theatre, conventicle, or shop,
In public room or private, park or street,
Each fondly reared on his own pedestal,
Looked out for admiration. Folly, vice,
Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress,
And all the strife of singularity,
Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense--
Of these, and of the living shapes they wear,
There is no end. Such candidates for regard,
Although well pleased to be where they were found,
I did not hunt after, nor greatly prize,
Nor made unto myself a secret boast
Of reading them with quick and curious eye;
But, as a common produce, things that are
To-day, to-morrow will be, took of them
Such willing note, as, on some errand bound
That asks not speed, a traveller might bestow
On sea-shells that bestrew the sandy beach,
Or daisies swarming through the fields of June.

But foolishness and madness in parade,
Though most at home in this their dear domain,
Are scattered everywhere, no rarities,
Even to the rudest novice of the Schools.
Me, rather, it employed, to note, and keep
In memory, those individual sights
Of courage, or integrity, or truth,
Or tenderness, which there, set off by foil,
Appeared more touching. One will I select--
A Father--for he bore that sacred name;--
Him saw I, sitting in an open square,
Upon a corner-stone of that low wall,
Wherein were fixed the iron pales that fenced
A spacious grass-plot; there, in silence, sate
This One Man, with a sickly babe outstretched
Upon his knee, whom he had thither brought
For sunshine, and to breathe the fresher air.
Of those who passed, and me who looked at him,
He took no heed; but in his brawny arms
(The Artificer was to the elbow bare,
And from his work this moment had been stolen)
He held the child, and, bending over it,
As if he were afraid both of the sun
And of the air, which he had come to seek,
Eyed the poor babe with love unutterable.

As the black storm upon the mountain top
Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so
That huge fermenting mass of human-kind
Serves as a solemn back-ground, or relief,
To single forms and objects, whence they draw,
For feeling and contemplative regard,
More than inherent liveliness and power.
How oft, amid those overflowing streets,
Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said
Unto myself, 'The face of every one
That passes by me is a mystery!'
Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed
By thoughts of what and whither, when and how,
Until the shapes before my eyes became
A second-sight procession, such as glides
Over still mountains, or appears in dreams;
And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond
The reach of common indication, lost
Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten
Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare)
Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face,
Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest
Wearing a written paper, to explain
His story, whence he came, and who he was.
Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round
As with the might of waters; and apt type
This label seemed of the utmost we can know,
Both of ourselves and of the universe;
And, on the shape of that unmoving man,
His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed,
As if admonished from another world.

Though reared upon the base of outward things,
Structures like these the excited spirit mainly
Builds for herself; scenes different there are,
Full-formed, that take, with small internal help,
Possession of the faculties,--the peace
That comes with night; the deep solemnity
Of nature's intermediate hours of rest,
When the great tide of human life stands still:
The business of the day to come, unborn,
Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave;
The blended calmness of the heavens and earth,
Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds
Unfrequent as in deserts; at late hours
Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains
Are falling hard, with people yet astir,
The feeble salutation from the voice
Of some unhappy woman, now and then
Heard as we pass, when no one looks about,
Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear,
Are falsely catalogued; things that are, are not,
As the mind answers to them, or the heart
Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then,
To times, when half the city shall break out
Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear?
To executions, to a street on fire,
Mobs, riots, or rejoicings? From these sights
Take one,--that ancient festival, the Fair,
Holden where martyrs suffered in past time,
And named of St. Bartholomew; there, see
A work completed to our hands, that lays,
If any spectacle on earth can do,
The whole creative powers of man asleep!--
For once, the Muse's help will we implore,
And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings,
Above the press and danger of the crowd,
Upon some showman's platform. What a shock
For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din,
Barbarian and infernal,--a phantasma,
Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound!
Below, the open space, through every nook
Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive
With heads; the midway region, and above,
Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls,
Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies;
With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles,
And children whirling in their roundabouts;
With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes,
And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd
Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons
Grimacing, writhing, screaming,--him who grinds
The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves,
Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum,
And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks,
The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel,
Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys,
Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.--
All moveables of wonder, from all parts,
Are here--Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs,
The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig,
The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire,
Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl,
The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes,
The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft
Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows,
All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things,
All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts
Of man, his dulness, madness, and their feats
All jumbled up together, to compose
A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths
Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill,
Are vomiting, receiving on all sides,
Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.

Oh, blank confusion! true epitome
Of what the mighty City is herself,
To thousands upon thousands of her sons,
Living amid the same perpetual whirl
Of trivial objects, melted and reduced
To one identity, by differences
That have no law, no meaning, and no end--
Oppression, under which even highest minds
Must labour, whence the strongest are not free.
But though the picture weary out the eye,
By nature an unmanageable sight,
It is not wholly so to him who looks
In steadiness, who hath among least things
An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts
As parts, but with a feeling of the whole.
This, of all acquisitions, first awaits
On sundry and most widely different modes
Of education, nor with least delight
On that through which I passed. Attention springs,
And comprehensiveness and memory flow,
From early converse with the works of God
Among all regions; chiefly where appear
Most obviously simplicity and power.
Think, how the everlasting streams and woods,
Stretched and still stretching far and wide, exalt
The roving Indian, on his desert sands:
What grandeur not unfelt, what pregnant show
Of beauty, meets the sun-burnt Arab's eye:
And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone,
Its currents; magnifies its shoals of life
Beyond all compass; spreads, and sends aloft
Armies of clouds,--even so, its powers and aspects
Shape for mankind, by principles as fixed,
The views and aspirations of the soul
To majesty. Like virtue have the forms
Perennial of the ancient hills; nor less
The changeful language of their countenances
Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts,
However multitudinous, to move
With order and relation. This, if still,
As hitherto, in freedom I may speak,
Not violating any just restraint,
As may be hoped, of real modesty,--
This did I feel, in London's vast domain.
The Spirit of Nature was upon me there;
The soul of Beauty and enduring Life
Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused,
Through meagre lines and colours, and the press
Of self-destroying, transitory things,
Composure, and ennobling Harmony.

by William Wordsworth.

The Task: Book Iv. -- The Winter Evening

Hark! ‘tis the twanging horn o’er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright;—
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter’d boots, strapp’d waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumbering at his back.
True to his charge, the close-pack’d load behind,
Yet, careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destined inn,
And, having dropp’d the expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indifferent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears, that trickled down the writer’s cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charged with amorous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But O the important budget! usher’d in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awaked?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg’d,
Snore to the murmurs of the Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plumed
And jewell’d turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh—I long to know them all;
I burn to set the imprison’d wranglers free,
And give them voice and utterance once again.

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
Not such his evening, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeezed
And bored with elbow points through both his sides,
Outscolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquillity and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not e’en critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?
Here runs the mountainous and craggy ridge
That tempts Ambition. On the summit see
The seals of office glitter in his eyes;
He climbs, he pants, he grasps them! At his heels,
Close at his heels, a demagogue ascends,
And with a dexterous jerk soon twists him down,
And wins them, but to lose them in his turn.
Here rills of oily eloquence, in soft
Meanders, lubricate the course they take;
The modest speaker is ashamed and grieved
To engross a moment’s notice; and yet begs,
Begs a propitious ear for his poor thoughts,
However trivial all that he conceives.
Sweet bashfulness! it claims at least this praise;
The dearth of information and good sense,
That it foretells us, always comes to pass.
Cataracts of declamation thunder here;
There forests of no meaning spread the page,
In which all comprehension wanders lost;
While fields of pleasantry amuse us there
With merry descants on a nation’s woes.
The rest appears a wilderness of strange
But gay confusion; roses for the cheeks
And lilies for the brows of faded age,
Teeth for the toothless, ringlets for the bald,
Heaven, earth, and ocean, plunder’d of their sweets,
Nectareous essences, Olympian dews,
Sermons, and city feasts, and favourite airs,
Æthereal journeys, submarine exploits,
And Katerfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.

‘Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat,
To peep at such a world; to see the stir
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd;
To hear the roar she sends through all her gates
At a safe distance, where the dying sound
Falls a soft murmur on the uninjured ear.
Thus sitting, and surveying thus at ease
The globe and its concerns, I seem advanced
To some secure and more than mortal height
That liberates and exempts me from them all.
It turns submitted to my view, turns round
With all its generations; I behold
The tumult and am still. The sound of war
Has lost its terrors ere it reaches me;
Grieves, but alarms me not. I mourn the pride
And avarice that make man a wolf to man;
Hear the faint echo of those brazen throats,
By which he speaks the language of his heart,
And sigh, but never tremble at the sound.
He travels and expatiates, as the bee
From flower to flower, so he from land to land;
The manners, customs, policy of all
Pay contribution to the store he gleans;
He sucks intelligence in every clime,
And spreads the honey of his deep research
At his return—a rich repast for me.
He travels, and I too. I tread his deck,
Ascend his topmast, through his peering eyes
Discover countries, with a kindred heart
Suffer his woes, and share in his escapes;
While fancy, like the finger of a clock,
Runs the great circuit, and is still at home.

O Winter, ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scatter’d hair with sleet like ashes fill’d,
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapp’d in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold’st the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering, at short notice, in one group
The family dispersed, and fixing thought,
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb’d Retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powder’d pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm assaults these doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake:
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flower,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully disposed,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;
A wreath, that cannot fade, of flowers that blow
With most success when all besides decay.
The poet’s or historian’s page by one
Made vocal for the amusement of the rest;
The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds
The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out;
And the clear voice, symphonious, yet distinct,
And in the charming strife triumphant still,
Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry: the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and unfelt the task proceeds.
The volume closed, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence. A Roman meal,
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak’s domestic shade,
Enjoy’d, spare feast! a radish and an egg!
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth:
Nor do we madly, like an impious world,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note. Themes of a graver tone,
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with Memory’s pointing wand,
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have ‘scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliverance found
Unlook’d for, life preserved, and peace restored,
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
O evenings worthy of the gods! exclaim’d
The Sabine bard. O evenings, I reply,
More to be prized and coveted than yours,
As more illumined, and with nobler truths,
That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy.

Is Winter hideous in a garb like this?
Needs he the tragic fur, the smoke of lamps,
The pent-up breath of an unsavoury throng,
To thaw him into feeling; or the smart
And snappish dialogue, that flippant wits
Call comedy, to prompt him with a smile?
The self-complacent actor, when he views
(Stealing a sidelong glance at a full house)
The slope of faces from the floor to the roof
(As if one master spring controll’d them all),
Relax’d into a universal grin,
Sees not a countenance there that speaks of joy
Half so refined or so sincere as ours.
Cards were superfluous here, with all the tricks
That idleness has ever yet contrived
To fill the void of an unfurnish’d brain,
To palliate dulness, and give time a shove.
Time, as he passes us, has a dove’s wing.
Unsoil’d, and swift, and of a silken sound;
But the World’s Time is Time in masquerade!
Theirs, should I paint him, has his pinions fledged
With motley plumes; and, where the peacock shows
His azure eyes, is tinctured black and red
With spots quadrangular of diamond form,
Ensanguined hearts, clubs typical of strife,
And spades, the emblem of untimely graves.
What should be, and what was an hour-glass once,
Becomes a dice-box, and a billiard mace
Well does the work of his destructive scythe.
Thus deck’d, he charms a world whom Fashion blinds
To his true worth, most pleased when idle most;
Whose only happy are their wasted hours.
E’en misses, at whose age their mothers wore
The backstring and the bib, assume the dress
Of womanhood, fit pupils in the school
Of card-devoted Time, and, night by night
Placed at some vacant corner of the board,
Learn every trick, and soon play all the game.
But truce with censure. Roving as I rove,
Where shall I find an end, or how proceed?
As he that travels far oft turns aside,
To view some rugged rock or mouldering tower,
Which seen delights him not; then, coming home,
Describes and prints it, that the world may know
How far he went for what was nothing worth;
So I, with brush in hand and pallet spread,
With colours mix’d for a far different use,
Paint cards, and dolls, and every idle thing
That Fancy finds in her excursive flights.

Come, Evening, once again, season of peace;
Return, sweet Evening, and continue long!
Methinks I see thee in the streaky west,
With matron step slow moving, while the Night
Treads on thy sweeping train; one hand employ’d
In letting fall the curtain of repose
On bird and beast, the other charged for man
With sweet oblivion of the cares of day:
Not sumptuously adorn’d, not needing aid,
Like homely featured Night, of clustering gems;
A star or two, just twinkling on thy brow
Suffices thee; save that the moon is thine
No less than hers, not worn indeed on high
With ostentatious pageantry, but set
With modest grandeur in thy purple zone,
Resplendent less, but of an ampler round.
Come then, and thou shalt find thy votary calm,
Or make me so. Composure is thy gift:
And, whether I devote thy gentle hours
To books, to music, or the poet’s toil;
To weaving nets for bird-alluring fruit;
Or twining silken threads round ivory reels,
When they command whom man was born to please;
I slight thee not, but make thee welcome still.

Just when our drawing-rooms begin to blaze
With lights, by clear reflection multiplied
From many a mirror, in which he of Gath,
Goliath, might have seen his giant bulk
Whole without stooping, towering crest and all,
My pleasures too begin. But me perhaps
The glowing hearth may satisfy awhile
With faint illumination, that uplifts
The shadows to the ceiling, there by fits
Dancing uncouthly to the quivering flame.
Not undelightful is an hour to me
So spent in parlour twilight: such a gloom
Suits well the thoughtful or unthinking mind,
The mind contemplative, with some new theme
Pregnant, or indisposed alike to all.
Laugh ye, who boast your more mercurial powers,
That never felt a stupor, know no pause,
Nor need one; I am conscious, and confess,
Fearless, a soul that does not always think.
Me oft has Fancy ludicrous and wild
Soothed with a waking dream of houses, towers,
Trees, churches, and strange visages, express’d
In the red cinders, while with poring eye
I gazed, myself creating what I saw.
Nor less amused, have I quiescent watch’d
The sooty films that play upon the bars,
Pendulous and foreboding, in the view
Of superstition, prophesying still,
Though still deceived, some stranger’s near approach.
‘Tis thus the understanding takes repose
In indolent vacuity of thought,
And sleeps and is refresh’d. Meanwhile the face
Conceals the mood lethargic with a mask
Of deep deliberation, as the man
Were task’d to his full strength, absorb’d and lost.
Thus oft, reclined at ease, I lose an hour
At evening, till at length the freezing blast,
That sweeps the bolted shutter, summons home
The recollected powers; and, snapping short
The glassy threads with which the fancy weaves
Her brittle toils, restores me to myself.
How calm is my recess; and how the frost,
Raging abroad, and the rough wind, endear
The silence and the warmth enjoy’d within!
I saw the woods and fields at close of day
A variegated show; the meadows green,
Though faded; and the lands, where lately waved
The golden harvest, of a mellow brown,
Upturn’d so lately by the forceful share.
I saw far off the weedy fallows smile
With verdure not unprofitable, grazed
By flocks, fast feeding, and selecting each
His favourite herb; while all the leafless groves
That skirt the horizon, wore a sable hue
Scarce noticed in the kindred dusk of eve.
To-morrow brings a change, a total change!
Which even now, though silently perform’d,
And slowly, and by most unfelt, the face
Of universal nature undergoes.
Fast falls a fleecy shower: the downy flakes
Descending, and with never-ceasing lapse,
Softly alighting upon all below,
Assimilate all objects. Earth receives
Gladly the thickening mantle; and the green
And tender blade, that fear’d the chilling blast,
Escapes unhurt beneath so warm a veil.

In such a world so thorny, and where none
Finds happiness unblighted; or, if found,
Without some thistly sorrow at its side;
It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin
Against the law of love, to measure lots
With less distinguish’d than ourselves; that thus
We may with patience bear our moderate ills,
And sympathise with others suffering more.
Ill fares the traveller now, and he that stalks
In ponderous boots beside his reeking team.
The wain goes heavily, impeded sore
By congregated loads, adhering close
To the clogg’d wheels; and in its sluggish pace
Noiseless appears a moving hill of snow.
The toiling steeds expand the nostril wide,
While every breath, by respiration strong
Forced downward, is consolidated soon
Upon their jutting chests. He, form’d to bear
The pelting brunt of the tempestuous night,
With half-shut eyes, and pucker’d cheeks, and teeth
Presented bare against the storm, plods on.
One hand secures his hat, save when with both
He brandishes his pliant length of whip,
Resounding oft, and never heard in vain.
O happy; and, in my account, denied
That sensibility of pain with which
Refinement is endued, thrice happy thou!
Thy frame, robust and hardy, feels indeed
The piercing cold, but feels it unimpair’d.
The learned finger never need explore
Thy vigorous pulse; and the unhealthful east,
That breathes the spleen, and searches every bone
Of the infirm, is wholesome air to thee.
Thy days roll on exempt from household care;
Thy waggon is thy wife, and the poor beasts,
That drag the dull companion to and fro,
Thine helpless charge, dependent on thy care.
Ah, treat them kindly! rude as thou appear’st,
Yet show that thou hast mercy! which the great,
With needless hurry whirl’d from place to place,
Humane as they would seem, not always show.

Poor, yet industrious, modest, quiet, neat,
Such claim compassion in a night like this,
And have a friend in every feeling heart.
Warm’d, while it lasts, by labour all day long,
They brave the season, and yet find at eve,
Ill clad, and fed but sparely, time to cool.
The frugal housewife trembles when she lights
Her scanty stock of brushwood, blazing clear,
But dying soon, like all terrestrial joys.
The few small embers left she nurses well;
And, while her infant race, with outspread hands,
And crowded knees, sit cowering o’er the sparks,
Retires, content to quake, so they be warm’d.
The man feels least, as more inured than she
To winter, and the current in his veins
More briskly moved by his severer toil;
Yet he too finds his own distress in theirs.
The taper soon extinguish’d, which I saw
Dangled along at the cold finger’s end
Just when the day declined; and the brown loaf
Lodged on the shelf, half eaten without sauce
Of savoury cheese, or butter, costlier still;
Sleep seems their only refuge: for, alas!
Where penury is felt the thought is chain’d,
And sweet colloquial pleasures are but few!
With all this thrift they thrive not. All the care,
Ingenious Parsimony takes, but just
Saves the small inventory, bed, and stool,
Skillet, and old carved chest, from public sale.
They live, and live without extorted alms
From grudging hands; but other boast have none
To soothe their honest pride, that scorns to beg,
Nor comfort else, but in their mutual love.
I praise you much, ye meek and patient pair,
For ye are worthy; choosing rather far
A dry but independent crust, hard earn’d,
And eaten with a sigh, than to endure
The rugged frowns and insolent rebuffs
Of knaves in office, partial in the work
Of distribution, liberal of their aid
To clamorous importunity in rags,
But ofttimes deaf to suppliants, who would blush
To wear a tatter’d garb however coarse,
Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth:
These ask with painful shyness, and refused
Because deserving, silently retire!
But be ye of good courage! Time itself
Shall much befriend you. Time shall give increase;
And all your numerous progeny, well train’d,
But helpless, in few years shall find their hands,
And labour too. Meanwhile ye shall not want
What, conscious of your virtues, we can spare,
Nor what a wealthier than ourselves may send.
I mean the man who, when the distant poor
Need help, denies them nothing but his name.

But poverty with most, who whimper forth
Their long complaints, is self-inflicted woe;
The effect of laziness or sottish waste.
Now goes the nightly thief prowling abroad
For plunder; much solicitous how best
He may compensate for a day of sloth
By works of darkness and nocturnal wrong.
Woe to the gardener’s pale, the farmer’s hedge,
Plash’d neatly, and secured with driven stakes
Deep in the loamy bank! Uptorn by strength,
Resistless in so bad a cause, but lame
To better deeds, he bundles up the spoil,
An ass’s burden, and, when laden most
And heaviest, light of foot steals fast away;
Nor does the boarded hovel better guard
The well-stack’d pile of riven logs and roots
From his pernicious force. Nor will he leave
Unwrench’d the door, however well secured,
Where Chanticleer amidst his harem sleeps
In unsuspecting pomp. Twitch’d from the perch,
He gives the princely bird, with all his wives,
To his voracious bag, struggling in vain,
And loudly wondering at the sudden change.
Nor this to feed his own. ‘Twere some excuse,
Did pity of their sufferings warp aside
His principle, and tempt him into sin
For their support, so destitute. But they
Neglected pine at home; themselves, as more
Exposed than others, with less scruple made
His victims, robb’d of their defenceless all.
Cruel is all he does. ‘Tis quenchless thirst
Of ruinous ebriety that prompts
His every action, and imbrutes the man.
O for a law to noose the villain’s neck
Who starves his own; who persecutes the blood
He gave them in his children’s veins, and hates
And wrongs the woman he has sworn to love!

Pass where we may, through city or through town,
Village, or hamlet, of this merry land,
Though lean and beggar’d, every twentieth pace
Conducts the unguarded nose to such a whiff
Of stale debauch, forth issuing from the styes
That law has licensed, as makes temperance reel.
There sit, involved and lost in curling clouds
Of Indian fume, and guzzling deep, the boor,
The lackey, and the groom: the craftsman there
Takes a Lethean leave of all his toil;
Smith, cobbler, joiner, he that plies the shears,
And he that kneads the dough; all loud alike,
All learned, and all drunk! the fiddle screams
Plaintive and piteous, as it wept and wail’d
Its wasted tones and harmony unheard:
Fierce the dispute, whate’er the theme; while she,
Fell Discord, arbitress of such debate,
Perch’d on the sign-post, holds with even hand
Her undecisive scales. In this she lays
A weight of ignorance; in that, of pride;
And smiles delighted with the eternal poise.
Dire is the frequent curse, and its twin sound,
The cheek-distending oath, not to be praised
As ornamental, musical, polite,
Like those which modern senators employ,
Whose oath is rhetoric, and who swear for fame!
Behold the schools in which plebeian minds,
Once simple, are initiated in arts,
Which some may practise with politer grace,
But none with readier skill!—’tis here they learn
The road that leads from competence and peace
To indigence and rapine; till at last
Society, grown weary of the load,
Shakes her encumber’d lap, and casts them out.
But censure profits little: vain the attempt
To advertise in verse a public pest,
That, like the filth with which the peasant feeds
His hungry acres, stinks, and is of use.
The excise is fatten’d with the rich result
Of all this riot; and ten thousand casks,
For ever dribbling out their base contents,
Touch’d by the Midas finger of the state,
Bleed gold for ministers to sport away.
Drink, and be mad then; ‘tis your country bids!
Gloriously drunk, obey the important call!
Her cause demands the assistance of your throat;—
Ye all can swallow, and she asks no more.

Would I had fallen upon those happier days,
That poets celebrate; those golden times,
And those Arcadian scenes, that Maro sings,
And Sidney, warbler of poetic prose.
Nymphs were Dianas then, and swains had hearts
That felt their virtues: Innocence, it seems,
From courts dismiss’d, found shelter in the groves;
The footsteps of Simplicity, impress’d
Upon the yielding herbage (so they sing)
Then were not all effaced: then speech profane
And manners profligate were rarely found,
Observed as prodigies, and soon reclaim’d.
Vain wish! those days were never: airy dreams
Sat for the picture: and the poet’s hand,
Imparting substance to an empty shade,
Imposed a gay delirium for a truth.
Grant it:—I still must envy them an age
That favour’d such a dream; in days like these
Impossible, when Virtue is so scarce,
That to suppose a scene where she presides,
Is tramontane, and stumbles all belief.
No: we are polish’d now! The rural lass,
Whom once her virgin modesty and grace,
Her artless manners, and her neat attire,
So dignified, that she was hardly less
Than the fair shepherdess of old romance,
Is seen no more. The character is lost!
Her head, adorn’d with lappets pinn’d aloft,
And ribands streaming gay, superbly raised,
And magnified beyond all human size,
Indebted to some smart wig-weaver’s hand
For more than half the tresses it sustains;
Her elbows ruffled, and her tottering form
Ill propp’d upon French heels; she might be deem’d
(But that the basket dangling on her arm
Interprets her more truly) of a rank
Too proud for dairy work, or sale of eggs.
Expect her soon with footboy at her heels,
No longer blushing for her awkward load,
Her train and her umbrella all her care!

The town has tinged the country; and the stain
Appears a spot upon a vestal’s robe,
The worse for what it soils. The fashion runs
Down into scenes still rural; but, alas!
Scenes rarely graced with rural manners now!
Time was when in the pastoral retreat
The unguarded door was safe; men did not watch
To invade another’s right, or guard their own.
Then sleep was undisturb’d by fear, unscared
By drunken howlings; and the chilling tale
Of midnight murder was a wonder heard
With doubtful credit, told to frighten babes.
But farewell now to unsuspicious nights,
And slumbers unalarm’d! Now, ere you sleep,
See that your polish’d arms be primed with care,
And drop the night bolt;—ruffians are abroad;
And the first ‘larum of the cock’s shrill throat
May prove a trumpet, summoning your ear
To horrid sounds of hostile feet within.
E’en daylight has its dangers; and the walk
Through pathless wastes and woods, unconscious once
Of other tenants than melodious birds,
Or harmless flocks, is hazardous and bold.
Lamented change! to which full many a cause
Inveterate, hopeless of a cure, conspires.
The course of human things from good to ill,
From ill to worse, is fatal, never fails.
Increase of power begets increase of wealth;
Wealth luxury, and luxury excess;
Excess, the scrofulous and itchy plague,
That seizes first the opulent, descends
To the next rank contagious, and in time
Taints downward all the graduated scale
Of order, from the chariot to the plough.
The rich, and they that have an arm to check
The licence of the lowest in degree,
Desert their office; and themselves, intent
On pleasure, haunt the capital, and thus
To all the violence of lawless hands
Resign the scenes their presence might protect.
Authority herself not seldom sleeps,
Though resident, and witness of the wrong.
The plump convivial parson often bears
The magisterial sword in vain, and lays
His reverence and his worship both to rest
On the same cushion of habitual sloth.
Perhaps timidity restrains his arm;
When he should strike he trembles, and sets free,
Himself enslaved by terror of the band,
The audacious convict, whom he dares not bind.
Perhaps, though by profession ghostly pure,
He too may have his vice, and sometimes prove
Less dainty than becomes his grave outside
In lucrative concerns. Examine well
His milk-white hand; the palm is hardly clean—
But here and there an ugly smutch appears.
Foh! ‘twas a bribe that left it: he has touch’d
Corruption! Whoso seeks an audit here
Propitious, pays his tribute, game or fish,
Wildfowl or venison, and his errand speeds.

But faster far, and more than all the rest,
A noble cause, which none who bears a spark
Of public virtue, ever wish’d removed,
Works the deplored and mischievous effect.
‘Tis universal soldiership has stabb’d
The heart of merit in the meaner class.
Arms, through the vanity and brainless rage
Of those that bear them, in whatever cause,
Seem most at variance with all moral good,
And incompatible with serious thought.
The clown, the child of nature, without guile,
Blest with an infant’s ignorance of all
But his own simple pleasures; now and then
A wrestling-match, a foot-race, or a fair;
Is balloted, and trembles at the news:
Sheepish he doffs his hat, and mumbling swears
A bible-oath to be whate’er they please,
To do he knows not what. The task perform’d,
That instant he becomes the serjeant’s care,
His pupil, and his torment, and his jest.
His awkward gait, his introverted toes,
Bent knees, round shoulders, and dejected looks,
Procure him many a curse. By slow degrees
Unapt to learn, and form’d of stubborn stuff,
He yet by slow degrees puts off himself,
Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well:
He stands erect; his slouch becomes a walk;
He steps right onward, martial in his air,
His form, and movement; is as smart above
As meal and larded locks can make him; wears
His hat, or his plumed helmet, with a grace;
And, his three years of heroship expired,
Returns indignant to the slighted plough.
He hates the field, in which no fife or drum
Attends him; drives his cattle to a march;
And sighs for the smart comrades he has left.
‘Twere well if his exterior change were all—
But with his clumsy port the wretch has lost
His ignorance and harmless manners too.
To swear, to game, to drink; to show at home,
By lewdness, idleness, and Sabbath beach,
The great proficiency he made abroad;
To astonish and to grieve his gazing friends;
To break some maiden’s and his mother’s heart;
To be a pest where he was useful once;
Are his sole aim, and all his glory now.

Man in society is like a flower
Blown in its native bed: ‘tis there alone
His faculties, expanded in full bloom,
Shine out; there only reach their proper use.
But man, associated and leagued with man
By regal warrant, or self-join’d by bond
For interest sake, or swarming into clans
Beneath one head for purposes of war,
Like flowers selected from the rest, and bound
And bundled close to fill some crowded vase,
Fades rapidly, and, by compression marr’d,
Contracts defilement not to be endured.
Hence charter’d burghs are such public plagues;
And burghers, men immaculate perhaps
In all their private functions, once combined,
Become a loathsome body, only fit
For dissolution, hurtful to the main.
Hence merchants, unimpeachable of sin
Against the charities of domestic life,
Incorporated, seem at once to lose
Their nature; and, disclaiming all regard
For mercy and the common rights of man,
Build factories with blood, conducting trade
At the sword’s point, and dyeing the white robe
Of innocent commercial Justice red.
Hence too the field of glory, as the world
Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array,
With all its majesty of thundering pomp,
Enchanting music and immortal wreaths,
Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught
On principle, where foppery atones
For folly, gallantry for every vice.

But slighted as it is, and by the great
Abandon’d, and, which still I more regret,
Infected with the manners and the modes
It knew not once, the country wins me sill.
I never framed a wish, or form’d a plan,
That flatter’d me with hopes of earthly bliss,
But there I laid the scene. There early stray’d
My fancy, ere yet liberty of choice
Had found me, or the hope of being free.
My very dreams were rural; rural too
The firstborn efforts of my youthful muse,
Sportive, and jingling her poetic bells
Ere yet her ear was mistress of their powers.
No bard could please me but whose lyre was tuned
To Nature’s praises. Heroes and their feats
Fatigued me, never weary of the pipe
Of Tityrus, assembling, as he sang,
The rustic throng beneath his favourite beech.
Then Milton had indeed a poet’s charms:
New to my taste, his Paradise surpass’d
The struggling efforts of my boyish tongue
To speak its excellence. I danced for joy.
I marvell’d much that, at so ripe an age
As twice seven years, his beauties had then first
Engaged my wonder; and admiring still,
And still admiring, with regret supposed
The joy half lost, because not sooner found.
There too, enamour’d of the life I loved,
Pathetic in its praise, in its pursuit
Determined, and possessing it at last,
With transports, such as favour’d lovers feel,
I studied, prized, and wish’d that I had known
Ingenious Cowley! and, though now reclaim’d
By modern lights from an erroneous taste,
I cannot but lament thy splendid wit
Entangled in the cobwebs of the schools.
I still revere thee, courtly though retired;
Though stretch’d at ease in Chertsey’s silent bowers,
Not unemployed; and finding rich amends
For a lost world in solitude and verse.
‘Tis born with all: the love of Nature’s works
Is an ingredient in the compound man,
Infused at the creation of the kind.
And, though the Almighty Maker has throughout
Discriminated each from each, by strokes
And touches of his hand, with so much art
Diversified, that two were never found
Twins at all points—yet this obtains in all,
That all discern a beauty in his works,
And all can taste them: minds that have been form’d
And tutor’d, with a relish more exact,
But none without some relish, none unmoved.
It is a flame that dies not even there
Where nothing feeds it: neither business, crowds,
Nor habits of luxurious city life,
Whatever else they smother of true worth
In human bosoms, quench it or abate.
The villas with which London stands begirt
Like a swarth Indian with his belt of beads
Prove it. A breath of unadulterate air,
The glimpse of a green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame!
E’en in the stifling bosom of the town
A garden, in which nothing thrives, has charms
That soothe the rich possessor; much consoled,
That here and there some sprigs of mournful mint,
Of nightshade, or valerian, grace the well
He cultivates. These serve him with a hint
That Nature lives; that sight-refreshing green
Is still the livery she delights to wear,
Though sickly samples of the exuberant whole.
What are the casements lined with creeping herbs,
The prouder sashes fronted with a range
Of orange, myrtle, or the fragrant weed,
The Frenchman’s darling? are they not all proofs
That man, immured in cities, still retains
His inborn inextinguishable thirst
Of rural scenes, compensating his loss
By supplemental shifts, the best he may,
The most unfurnish’d with the means of life,
And they that never pass their brick-wall bounds,
To range the fields and treat their lungs with air,
Yet feel the burning instinct: over head
Suspend their crazy boxes, planted thick,
And water’d duly. There the pitcher stands,
A fragment, and the spoutless teapot there;
Sad witnesses how close-pent man regrets
The country, with what ardour he contrives
A peep at Nature, when he can no more.

Hail, therefore, patroness of health and ease,
And contemplation, heart-consoling joys,
And harmless pleasures, in the throng’d abode
Of multitudes unknown! hail, rural life!
Address himself who will to the pursuit
Of honours, or emolument, or fame;
I shall not add myself to such a chase,
Thwart his attempts, or envy his success.
Some must be great. Great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordain’d to fill.
To the deliverer of an injured land
He gives a tongue to enlarge upon, a heart
To feel, and courage to redress her wrongs;
To monarchs dignity; to judges sense;
To artists ingenuity and skill;
To me an unambitious mind, content
In the low vale of life, that early felt
A wish for ease and leisure, and ere long
Found here that leisure and that ease I wish’d.

by William Cowper.

Unknowing and unknown, the hardy Muse
Boldly defies all mean and partial views;
With honest freedom plays the critic's part,
And praises, as she censures, from the heart.

Roscius deceased, each high aspiring player
Push'd all his interest for the vacant chair.
The buskin'd heroes of the mimic stage
No longer whine in love, and rant in rage;
The monarch quits his throne, and condescends
Humbly to court the favour of his friends;
For pity's sake tells undeserved mishaps,
And, their applause to gain, recounts his claps.
Thus the victorious chiefs of ancient Rome,
To win the mob, a suppliant's form assume;
In pompous strain fight o'er the extinguish'd war,
And show where honour bled in every scar.
But though bare merit might in Rome appear
The strongest plea for favour, 'tis not here;
We form our judgment in another way;
And they will best succeed, who best can pay:
Those who would gain the votes of British tribes,
Must add to force of merit, force of bribes.
What can an actor give? In every age
Cash hath been rudely banish'd from the stage;
Monarchs themselves, to grief of every player,
Appear as often as their image there:
They can't, like candidate for other seat,
Pour seas of wine, and mountains raise of meat.
Wine! they could bribe you with the world as soon,
And of 'Roast Beef,' they only know the tune:
But what they have they give; could Clive do more,
Though for each million he had brought home four?
Shuter keeps open house at Southwark fair,
And hopes the friends of humour will be there;
In Smithfield, Yates prepares the rival treat
For those who laughter love, instead of meat;
Foote, at Old House,--for even Foote will be,
In self-conceit, an actor,--bribes with tea;
Which Wilkinson at second-hand receives,
And at the New, pours water on the leaves.
The town divided, each runs several ways,
As passion, humour, interest, party sways.
Things of no moment, colour of the hair,
Shape of a leg, complexion brown or fair,
A dress well chosen, or a patch misplaced,
Conciliate favour, or create distaste.
From galleries loud peals of laughter roll,
And thunder Shuter's praises; he's so droll.
Embox'd, the ladies must have something smart,
Palmer! oh! Palmer tops the jaunty part.
Seated in pit, the dwarf with aching eyes,
Looks up, and vows that Barry's out of size;
Whilst to six feet the vigorous stripling grown,
Declares that Garrick is another Coan.
When place of judgment is by whim supplied,
And our opinions have their rise in pride;
When, in discoursing on each mimic elf,
We praise and censure with an eye to self;
All must meet friends, and Ackman bids as fair,
In such a court, as Garrick, for the chair.
At length agreed, all squabbles to decide,
By some one judge the cause was to be tried;
But this their squabbles did afresh renew,
Who should be judge in such a trial:--who?
For Johnson some; but Johnson, it was fear'd,
Would be too grave; and Sterne too gay appear'd;
Others for Franklin voted; but 'twas known,
He sicken'd at all triumphs but his own:
For Colman many, but the peevish tongue
Of prudent Age found out that he was young:
For Murphy some few pilfering wits declared,
Whilst Folly clapp'd her hands, and Wisdom stared.
To mischief train'd, e'en from his mother's womb,
Grown old in fraud, though yet in manhood's bloom,
Adopting arts by which gay villains rise,
And reach the heights which honest men despise;
Mute at the bar, and in the senate loud,
Dull 'mongst the dullest, proudest of the proud;
A pert, prim, prater of the northern race,
Guilt in his heart, and famine in his face,
Stood forth,--and thrice he waved his lily hand,
And thrice he twirled his tye, thrice stroked his band:--
At Friendship's call (thus oft, with traitorous aim,
Men void of faith usurp Faith's sacred name)
At Friendship's call I come, by Murphy sent,
Who thus by me develops his intent:
But lest, transfused, the spirit should be lost,
That spirit which, in storms of rhetoric toss'd,
Bounces about, and flies like bottled beer,
In his own words his own intentions hear.
Thanks to my friends; but to vile fortunes born,
No robes of fur these shoulders must adorn.
Vain your applause, no aid from thence I draw;
Vain all my wit, for what is wit in law?
Twice, (cursed remembrance!) twice I strove to gain
Admittance 'mongst the law-instructed train,
Who, in the Temple and Gray's Inn, prepare
For clients' wretched feet the legal snare;
Dead to those arts which polish and refine,
Deaf to all worth, because that worth was mine,
Twice did those blockheads startle at my name,
And foul rejection gave me up to shame.
To laws and lawyers then I bade adieu,
And plans of far more liberal note pursue.
Who will may be a judge--my kindling breast
Burns for that chair which Roscius once possess'd.
Here give your votes, your interest here exert,
And let success for once attend desert.
With sleek appearance, and with ambling pace,
And, type of vacant head, with vacant face,
The Proteus Hill put in his modest plea,--
Let Favour speak for others, Worth for me.--
For who, like him, his various powers could call
Into so many shapes, and shine in all?
Who could so nobly grace the motley list,
Actor, Inspector, Doctor, Botanist?
Knows any one so well--sure no one knows--
At once to play, prescribe, compound, compose?
Who can--but Woodward came,--Hill slipp'd away,
Melting, like ghosts, before the rising day.
With that low cunning, which in fools supplies,
And amply too, the place of being wise,
Which Nature, kind, indulgent parent, gave
To qualify the blockhead for a knave;
With that smooth falsehood, whose appearance charms,
And Reason of each wholesome doubt disarms,
Which to the lowest depths of guile descends,
By vilest means pursues the vilest ends;
Wears Friendship's mask for purposes of spite,
Pawns in the day, and butchers in the night;
With that malignant envy which turns pale,
And sickens, even if a friend prevail,
Which merit and success pursues with hate,
And damns the worth it cannot imitate;
With the cold caution of a coward's spleen,
Which fears not guilt, but always seeks a screen,
Which keeps this maxim ever in her view--
What's basely done, should be done safely too;
With that dull, rooted, callous impudence,
Which, dead to shame and every nicer sense,
Ne'er blush'd, unless, in spreading Vice's snares,
She blunder'd on some virtue unawares;
With all these blessings, which we seldom find
Lavish'd by Nature on one happy mind,
A motley figure, of the Fribble tribe,
Which heart can scarce conceive, or pen describe,
Came simpering on--to ascertain whose sex
Twelve sage impannell'd matrons would perplex.
Nor male, nor female; neither, and yet both;
Of neuter gender, though of Irish growth;
A six-foot suckling, mincing in Its gait;
Affected, peevish, prim, and delicate;
Fearful It seem'd, though of athletic make,
Lest brutal breezes should too roughly shake
Its tender form, and savage motion spread,
O'er Its pale cheeks, the horrid manly red.
Much did It talk, in Its own pretty phrase,
Of genius and of taste, of players and of plays;
Much too of writings, which Itself had wrote,
Of special merit, though of little note;
For Fate, in a strange humour, had decreed
That what It wrote, none but Itself should read;
Much, too, It chatter'd of dramatic laws,
Misjudging critics, and misplaced applause;
Then, with a self-complacent, jutting air,
It smiled, It smirk'd, It wriggled to the chair;
And, with an awkward briskness not Its own,
Looking around, and perking on the throne,
Triumphant seem'd; when that strange savage dame,
Known but to few, or only known by name,
Plain Common-Sense appear'd, by Nature there
Appointed, with plain Truth, to guard the chair,
The pageant saw, and, blasted with her frown,
To Its first state of nothing melted down.
Nor shall the Muse, (for even there the pride
Of this vain nothing shall be mortified)
Nor shall the Muse (should Fate ordain her rhymes,
Fond, pleasing thought! to live in after-times)
With such a trifler's name her pages blot;
Known be the character, the thing forgot:
Let It, to disappoint each future aim,
Live without sex, and die without a name!
Cold-blooded critics, by enervate sires
Scarce hammer'd out, when Nature's feeble fires
Glimmer'd their last; whose sluggish blood, half froze,
Creeps labouring through the veins; whose heart ne'er glows
With fancy-kindled heat;--a servile race,
Who, in mere want of fault, all merit place;
Who blind obedience pay to ancient schools,
Bigots to Greece, and slaves to musty rules;
With solemn consequence declared that none
Could judge that cause but Sophocles alone.
Dupes to their fancied excellence, the crowd,
Obsequious to the sacred dictate, bow'd.
When, from amidst the throng, a youth stood forth,
Unknown his person, not unknown his worth;
His look bespoke applause; alone he stood,
Alone he stemm'd the mighty critic flood.
He talk'd of ancients, as the man became
Who prized our own, but envied not their fame;
With noble reverence spoke of Greece and Rome,
And scorn'd to tear the laurel from the tomb.
But, more than just to other countries grown,
Must we turn base apostates to our own?
Where do these words of Greece and Rome excel,
That England may not please the ear as well?
What mighty magic's in the place or air,
That all perfection needs must centre there?
In states, let strangers blindly be preferr'd;
In state of letters, merit should be heard.
Genius is of no country; her pure ray
Spreads all abroad, as general as the day;
Foe to restraint, from place to place she flies,
And may hereafter e'en in Holland rise.
May not, (to give a pleasing fancy scope,
And cheer a patriot heart with patriot hope)
May not some great extensive genius raise
The name of Britain 'bove Athenian praise;
And, whilst brave thirst of fame his bosom warms,
Make England great in letters as in arms?
There may--there hath,--and Shakspeare's Muse aspires
Beyond the reach of Greece; with native fires
Mounting aloft, he wings his daring flight,
Whilst Sophocles below stands trembling at his height.
Why should we then abroad for judges roam,
When abler judges we may find at home?
Happy in tragic and in comic powers,
Have we not Shakspeare?--Is not Jonson ours?
For them, your natural judges, Britons, vote;
They'll judge like Britons, who like Britons wrote.
He said, and conquer'd--Sense resumed her sway,
And disappointed pedants stalk'd away.
Shakspeare and Jonson, with deserved applause,
Joint-judges were ordain'd to try the cause.
Meantime the stranger every voice employ'd,
To ask or tell his name. Who is it? Lloyd.
Thus, when the aged friends of Job stood mute,
And, tamely prudent, gave up the dispute,
Elihu, with the decent warmth of youth,
Boldly stood forth the advocate of Truth;
Confuted Falsehood, and disabled Pride,
Whilst baffled Age stood snarling at his side.
The day of trial's fix'd, nor any fear
Lest day of trial should be put off here.
Causes but seldom for delay can call
In courts where forms are few, fees none at all.
The morning came, nor find I that the Sun,
As he on other great events hath done,
Put on a brighter robe than what he wore
To go his journey in, the day before.
Full in the centre of a spacious plain,
On plan entirely new, where nothing vain,
Nothing magnificent appear'd, but Art
With decent modesty perform'd her part,
Rose a tribunal: from no other court
It borrow'd ornament, or sought support:
No juries here were pack'd to kill or clear,
No bribes were taken, nor oaths broken here;
No gownsmen, partial to a client's cause,
To their own purpose turn'd the pliant laws;
Each judge was true and steady to his trust,
As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster just.
In the first seat, in robe of various dyes,
A noble wildness flashing from his eyes,
Sat Shakspeare: in one hand a wand he bore,
For mighty wonders famed in days of yore;
The other held a globe, which to his will
Obedient turn'd, and own'd the master's skill:
Things of the noblest kind his genius drew,
And look'd through Nature at a single view:
A loose he gave to his unbounded soul,
And taught new lands to rise, new seas to roll;
Call'd into being scenes unknown before,
And passing Nature's bounds, was something more.
Next Jonson sat, in ancient learning train'd,
His rigid judgment Fancy's flights restrain'd;
Correctly pruned each wild luxuriant thought,
Mark'd out her course, nor spared a glorious fault.
The book of man he read with nicest art,
And ransack'd all the secrets of the heart;
Exerted penetration's utmost force,
And traced each passion to its proper source;
Then, strongly mark'd, in liveliest colours drew,
And brought each foible forth to public view:
The coxcomb felt a lash in every word,
And fools, hung out, their brother fools deterr'd.
His comic humour kept the world in awe,
And Laughter frighten'd Folly more than Law.
But, hark! the trumpet sounds, the crowd gives way,
And the procession comes in just array.
Now should I, in some sweet poetic line,
Offer up incense at Apollo's shrine,
Invoke the Muse to quit her calm abode,
And waken Memory with a sleeping Ode.
For how shall mortal man, in mortal verse,
Their titles, merits, or their names rehearse?
But give, kind Dulness! memory and rhyme,
We 'll put off Genius till another time.
First, Order came,--with solemn step, and slow,
In measured time his feet were taught to go.
Behind, from time to time, he cast his eye,
Lest this should quit his place, that step awry.
Appearances to save his only care;
So things seem right, no matter what they are.
In him his parents saw themselves renew'd,
Begotten by Sir Critic on Saint Prude.
Then came drum, trumpet, hautboy, fiddle, flute;
Next snuffer, sweeper, shifter, soldier, mute:
Legions of angels all in white advance;
Furies, all fire, come forward in a dance;
Pantomime figures then are brought to view,
Fools, hand in hand with fools, go two by two.
Next came the treasurer of either house;
One with full purse, t'other with not a sous.
Behind, a group of figures awe create,
Set off with all the impertinence of state;
By lace and feather consecrate to fame,
Expletive kings, and queens without a name.
Here Havard, all serene, in the same strains,
Loves, hates, and rages, triumphs and complains;
His easy vacant face proclaim'd a heart
Which could not feel emotions, nor impart.
With him came mighty Davies: on my life,
That Davies hath a very pretty wife!
Statesman all over, in plots famous grown,
He mouths a sentence, as curs mouth a bone.
Next Holland came: with truly tragic stalk,
He creeps, he flies,--a hero should not walk.
As if with Heaven he warr'd, his eager eyes
Planted their batteries against the skies;
Attitude, action, air, pause, start, sigh, groan,
He borrow'd, and made use of as his own.
By fortune thrown on any other stage,
He might, perhaps, have pleased an easy age;
But now appears a copy, and no more,
Of something better we have seen before.
The actor who would build a solid fame,
Must Imitation's servile arts disclaim;
Act from himself, on his own bottom stand;
I hate e'en Garrick thus at second-hand.
Behind came King.--Bred up in modest lore,
Bashful and young, he sought Hibernia's shore;
Hibernia, famed, 'bove every other grace,
For matchless intrepidity of face.
From her his features caught the generous flame,
And bid defiance to all sense of shame.
Tutor'd by her all rivals to surpass,
'Mongst Drury's sons he comes, and shines in Brass.
Lo, Yates! Without the least finesse of art
He gets applause--I wish he'd get his part.
When hot Impatience is in full career,
How vilely 'Hark ye! hark ye!' grates the ear;
When active fancy from the brain is sent,
And stands on tip-toe for some wish'd event,
I hate those careless blunders, which recall
Suspended sense, and prove it fiction all.
In characters of low and vulgar mould,
Where Nature's coarsest features we behold;
Where, destitute of every decent grace,
Unmanner'd jests are blurted in your face,
There Yates with justice strict attention draws,
Acts truly from himself, and gains applause.
But when, to please himself or charm his wife,
He aims at something in politer life,
When, blindly thwarting Nature's stubborn plan,
He treads the stage by way of gentleman,
The clown, who no one touch of breeding knows,
Looks like Tom Errand dress'd in Clincher's clothes.
Fond of his dress, fond of his person grown,
Laugh'd at by all, and to himself unknown,
Prom side to side he struts, he smiles, he prates,
And seems to wonder what's become of Yates.
Woodward, endow'd with various tricks of face,
Great master in the science of grimace,
From Ireland ventures, favourite of the town,
Lured by the pleasing prospect of renown;
A speaking harlequin, made up of whim,
He twists, he twines, he tortures every limb;
Plays to the eye with a mere monkey's art,
And leaves to sense the conquest of the heart.
We laugh indeed, but, on reflection's birth,
We wonder at ourselves, and curse our mirth.
His walk of parts he fatally misplaced,
And inclination fondly took for taste;
Hence hath the town so often seen display'd
Beau in burlesque, high life in masquerade.
But when bold wits,--not such as patch up plays,
Cold and correct, in these insipid days,--
Some comic character, strong featured, urge
To probability's extremest verge;
Where modest Judgment her decree suspends,
And, for a time, nor censures, nor commends;
Where critics can't determine on the spot
Whether it is in nature found or not,
There Woodward safely shall his powers exert,
Nor fail of favour where he shows desert;
Hence he in Bobadil such praises bore,
Such worthy praises, Kitely scarce had more.
By turns transform'd into all kind of shapes,
Constant to none, Foote laughs, cries, struts, and scrapes:
Now in the centre, now in van or rear,
The Proteus shifts, bawd, parson, auctioneer.
His strokes of humour, and his bursts of sport,
Are all contain'd in this one word--distort.
Doth a man stutter, look a-squint, or halt?
Mimics draw humour out of Nature's fault,
With personal defects their mirth adorn,
And bang misfortunes out to public scorn.
E'en I, whom Nature cast in hideous mould,
Whom, having made, she trembled to behold,
Beneath the load of mimicry may groan,
And find that Nature's errors are my own.
Shadows behind of Foote and Woodward came;
Wilkinson this, Obrien was that name.
Strange to relate, but wonderfully true,
That even shadows have their shadows too!
With not a single comic power endued,
The first a mere, mere mimic's mimic stood;
The last, by Nature form'd to please, who shows,
In Johnson's Stephen, which way genius grows,
Self quite put off, affects with too much art
To put on Woodward in each mangled part;
Adopts his shrug, his wink, his stare; nay, more,
His voice, and croaks; for Woodward croak'd before.
When a dull copier simple grace neglects,
And rests his imitation in defects,
We readily forgive; but such vile arts
Are double guilt in men of real parts.
By Nature form'd in her perversest mood,
With no one requisite of art endued,
Next Jackson came--Observe that settled glare,
Which better speaks a puppet than a player;
List to that voice--did ever Discord hear
Sounds so well fitted to her untuned ear?
When to enforce some very tender part,
The right hand slips by instinct on the heart,
His soul, of every other thought bereft,
Is anxious only where to place the left;
He sobs and pants to soothe his weeping spouse;
To soothe his weeping mother, turns and bows:
Awkward, embarrass'd, stiff, without the skill
Of moving gracefully, or standing still,
One leg, as if suspicious of his brother,
Desirous seems to run away from t'other.
Some errors, handed down from age to age,
Plead custom's force, and still possess the stage.
That's vile: should we a parent's faults adore,
And err, because our fathers err'd before?
If, inattentive to the author's mind,
Some actors made the jest they could not find;
If by low tricks they marr'd fair Nature's mien,
And blurr'd the graces of the simple scene,
Shall we, if reason rightly is employ'd,
Not see their faults, or seeing, not avoid?
When Falstaff stands detected in a lie,
Why, without meaning, rolls Love's glassy eye?
Why? There's no cause--at least no cause we know--
It was the fashion twenty years ago.
Fashion!--a word which knaves and fools may use,
Their knavery and folly to excuse.
To copy beauties, forfeits all pretence
To fame--to copy faults, is want of sense.
Yet (though in some particulars he fails,
Some few particulars, where mode prevails)
If in these hallow'd times, when, sober, sad,
All gentlemen are melancholy mad;
When 'tis not deem'd so great a crime by half
To violate a vestal as to laugh,
Rude mirth may hope, presumptuous, to engage
An act of toleration for the stage;
And courtiers will, like reasonable creatures,
Suspend vain fashion, and unscrew their features;
Old Falstaff, play'd by Love, shall please once more,
And humour set the audience in a roar.
Actors I've seen, and of no vulgar name,
Who, being from one part possess'd of fame,
Whether they are to laugh, cry, whine, or bawl,
Still introduce that favourite part in all.
Here, Love, be cautious--ne'er be thou betray'd
To call in that wag Falstaff's dangerous aid;
Like Goths of old, howe'er he seems a friend,
He'll seize that throne you wish him to defend.
In a peculiar mould by Humour cast,
For Falstaff framed--himself the first and last--
He stands aloof from all--maintains his state,
And scorns, like Scotsmen, to assimilate.
Vain all disguise--too plain we see the trick,
Though the knight wears the weeds of Dominic;
And Boniface disgraced, betrays the smack,
In _anno Domini_, of Falstaff sack.
Arms cross'd, brows bent, eyes fix'd, feet marching slow,
A band of malcontents with spleen o'erflow;
Wrapt in Conceit's impenetrable fog,
Which Pride, like Phoebus, draws from every bog,
They curse the managers, and curse the town
Whose partial favour keeps such merit down.
But if some man, more hardy than the rest,
Should dare attack these gnatlings in their nest,
At once they rise with impotence of rage,
Whet their small stings, and buzz about the stage:
'Tis breach of privilege! Shall any dare
To arm satiric truth against a player?
Prescriptive rights we plead, time out of mind;
Actors, unlash'd themselves, may lash mankind.
What! shall Opinion then, of nature free,
And liberal as the vagrant air, agree
To rust in chains like these, imposed by things,
Which, less than nothing, ape the pride of kings?
No--though half-poets with half-players join
To curse the freedom of each honest line;
Though rage and malice dim their faded cheek,
What the Muse freely thinks, she'll freely speak;
With just disdain of every paltry sneer,
Stranger alike to flattery and fear,
In purpose fix'd, and to herself a rule,
Public contempt shall wait the public fool.
Austin would always glisten in French silks;
Ackman would Norris be, and Packer, Wilkes:
For who, like Ackman, can with humour please;
Who can, like Packer, charm with sprightly ease?
Higher than all the rest, see Bransby strut:
A mighty Gulliver in Lilliput!
Ludicrous Nature! which at once could show
A man so very high, so very low!
If I forget thee, Blakes, or if I say
Aught hurtful, may I never see thee play.
Let critics, with a supercilious air,
Decry thy various merit, and declare
Frenchman is still at top; but scorn that rage
Which, in attacking thee, attacks the age.
French follies, universally embraced,
At once provoke our mirth, and form our taste.
Long, from a nation ever hardly used,
At random censured, wantonly abused,
Have Britons drawn their sport; with partial view
Form'd general notions from the rascal few;
Condemn'd a people, as for vices known,
Which from their country banish'd, seek our own.
At length, howe'er, the slavish chain is broke,
And Sense, awaken'd, scorns her ancient yoke:
Taught by thee, Moody, we now learn to raise
Mirth from their foibles; from their virtues, praise.
Next came the legion which our summer Bayes,
From alleys, here and there, contrived to raise,
Flush'd with vast hopes, and certain to succeed,
With wits who cannot write, and scarce can read.
Veterans no more support the rotten cause,
No more from Elliot's worth they reap applause;
Each on himself determines to rely;
Be Yates disbanded, and let Elliot fly.
Never did players so well an author fit,
To Nature dead, and foes declared to wit.
So loud each tongue, so empty was each head,
So much they talk'd, so very little said,
So wondrous dull, and yet so wondrous vain,
At once so willing, and unfit to reign,
That Reason swore, nor would the oath recall,
Their mighty master's soul inform'd them all.
As one with various disappointments sad,
Whom dulness only kept from being mad,
Apart from all the rest great Murphy came--
Common to fools and wits, the rage of fame.
What though the sons of Nonsense hail him Sire,
Auditor, Author, Manager, and Squire,
His restless soul's ambition stops not there;
To make his triumphs perfect, dub him Player.
In person tall, a figure form'd to please,
If symmetry could charm deprived of ease;
When motionless he stands, we all approve;
What pity 'tis the thing was made to move.
His voice, in one dull, deep, unvaried sound,
Seems to break forth from caverns under ground;
From hollow chest the low sepulchral note
Unwilling heaves, and struggles in his throat.
Could authors butcher'd give an actor grace,
All must to him resign the foremost place.
When he attempts, in some one favourite part,
To ape the feelings of a manly heart,
His honest features the disguise defy,
And his face loudly gives his tongue the lie.
Still in extremes, he knows no happy mean,
Or raving mad, or stupidly serene.
In cold-wrought scenes, the lifeless actor flags;
In passion, tears the passion into rags.
Can none remember? Yes--I know all must--
When in the Moor he ground his teeth to dust,
When o'er the stage he Folly's standard bore,
Whilst Common-Sense stood trembling at the door.
How few are found with real talents blest!
Fewer with Nature's gifts contented rest.
Man from his sphere eccentric starts astray:
All hunt for fame, but most mistake the way.
Bred at St Omer's to the shuffling trade,
The hopeful youth a Jesuit might have made;
With various readings stored his empty skull,
Learn'd without sense, and venerably dull;
Or, at some banker's desk, like many more,
Content to tell that two and two make four;
His name had stood in City annals fair,
And prudent Dulness mark'd him for a mayor.
What, then, could tempt thee, in a critic age,
Such blooming hopes to forfeit on a stage?
Could it be worth thy wondrous waste of pains
To publish to the world thy lack of brains?
Or might not Reason e'en to thee have shown,
Thy greatest praise had been to live unknown?
Yet let not vanity like thine despair:
Fortune makes Folly her peculiar care.
A vacant throne, high-placed in Smithfield, view.
To sacred Dulness and her first-born due,
Thither with haste in happy hour repair,
Thy birthright claim, nor fear a rival there.
Shuter himself shall own thy juster claim,
And venal Ledgers puff their Murphy's name;
Whilst Vaughan, or Dapper, call him which you will,
Shall blow the trumpet, and give out the bill.
There rule, secure from critics and from sense,
Nor once shall Genius rise to give offence;
Eternal peace shall bless the happy shore,
And little factions break thy rest no more.
From Covent Garden crowds promiscuous go,
Whom the Muse knows not, nor desires to know;
Veterans they seem'd, but knew of arms no more
Than if, till that time, arms they never bore:
Like Westminster militia train'd to fight,
They scarcely knew the left hand from the right.
Ashamed among such troops to show the head,
Their chiefs were scatter'd, and their heroes fled.
Sparks at his glass sat comfortably down
To separate frown from smile, and smile from frown.
Smith, the genteel, the airy, and the smart,
Smith was just gone to school to say his part.
Ross (a misfortune which we often meet)
Was fast asleep at dear Statira's feet;
Statira, with her hero to agree,
Stood on her feet as fast asleep as he.
Macklin, who largely deals in half-form'd sounds,
Who wantonly transgresses Nature's bounds,
Whose acting's hard, affected, and constrain'd,
Whose features, as each other they disdain'd,
At variance set, inflexible and coarse,
Ne'er know the workings of united force,
Ne'er kindly soften to each other's aid,
Nor show the mingled powers of light and shade;
No longer for a thankless stage concern'd,
To worthier thoughts his mighty genius turn'd,
Harangued, gave lectures, made each simple elf
Almost as good a speaker as himself;
Whilst the whole town, mad with mistaken zeal,
An awkward rage for elocution feel;
Dull cits and grave divines his praise proclaim,
And join with Sheridan's their Macklin's name.
Shuter, who never cared a single pin
Whether he left out nonsense, or put in,
Who aim'd at wit, though, levell'd in the dark,
The random arrow seldom hit the mark,
At Islington, all by the placid stream
Where city swains in lap of Dulness dream,
Where quiet as her strains their strains do flow,
That all the patron by the bards may know,
Secret as night, with Rolt's experienced aid,
The plan of future operations laid,
Projected schemes the summer months to cheer,
And spin out happy folly through the year.
But think not, though these dastard chiefs are fled,
That Covent Garden troops shall want a head:
Harlequin comes their chief! See from afar
The hero seated in fantastic car!
Wedded to Novelty, his only arms
Are wooden swords, wands, talismans, and charms;
On one side Folly sits, by some call'd Fun,
And on the other his arch-patron, Lun;
Behind, for liberty athirst in vain,
Sense, helpless captive, drags the galling chain:
Six rude misshapen beasts the chariot draw,
Whom Reason loathes, and Nature never saw,
Monsters with tails of ice, and heads of fire;
'Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.'
Each was bestrode by full as monstrous wight,
Giant, dwarf, genius, elf, hermaphrodite.
The Town, as usual, met him in full cry;
The Town, as usual, knew no reason why:
But Fashion so directs, and Moderns raise
On Fashion's mouldering base their transient praise.
Next, to the field a band of females draw
Their force, for Britain owns no Salique law:
Just to their worth, we female rights admit,
Nor bar their claim to empire or to wit.
First giggling, plotting chambermaids arrive,
Hoydens and romps, led on by General Clive.
In spite of outward blemishes, she shone,
For humour famed, and humour all her own:
Easy, as if at home, the stage she trod,
Nor sought the critic's praise, nor fear'd his rod:
Original in spirit and in ease,
She pleased by hiding all attempts to please:
No comic actress ever yet could raise,
On Humour's base, more merit or more praise.
With all the native vigour of sixteen,
Among the merry troop conspicuous seen,
See lively Pope advance, in jig, and trip
Corinna, Cherry, Honeycomb, and Snip:
Not without art, but yet to nature true,
She charms the town with humour just, yet new:
Cheer'd by her promise, we the less deplore
The fatal time when Olive shall be no more.
Lo! Vincent comes! With simple grace array'd,
She laughs at paltry arts, and scorns parade:
Nature through her is by reflection shown,
Whilst Gay once more knows Polly for his own.
Talk not to me of diffidence and fear--
I see it all, but must forgive it here;
Defects like these, which modest terrors cause,
From Impudence itself extort applause.
Candour and Reason still take Virtue's part;
We love e'en foibles in so good a heart.
Let Tommy Arne,--with usual pomp of style,
Whose chief, whose only merit's to compile;
Who, meanly pilfering here and there a bit,
Deals music out as Murphy deals out wit,--
Publish proposals, laws for taste prescribe,
And chaunt the praise of an Italian tribe;
Let him reverse kind Nature's first decrees,
And teach e'en Brent a method not to please;
But never shall a truly British age
Bear a vile race of eunuchs on the stage;
The boasted work's call'd national in vain,
If one Italian voice pollutes the strain.
Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey,
Let slavish minstrels pour the enervate lay;
To Britons far more noble pleasures spring,
In native notes whilst Beard and Vincent sing.
Might figure give a title unto fame,
What rival should with Yates dispute her claim?
But justice may not partial trophies raise,
Nor sink the actress' in the woman's praise.
Still hand in hand her words and actions go,
And the heart feels more than the features show;
For, through the regions of that beauteous face
We no variety of passions trace;
Dead to the soft emotions of the heart,
No kindred softness can those eyes impart:
The brow, still fix'd in sorrow's sullen frame,
Void of distinction, marks all parts the same.
What's a fine person, or a beauteous face,
Unless deportment gives them decent grace?
Bless'd with all other requisites to please,
Some want the striking elegance of ease;
The curious eye their awkward movement tires;
They seem like puppets led about by wires.
Others, like statues, in one posture still,
Give great ideas of the workman's skill;
Wond'ring, his art we praise the more we view,
And only grieve he gave not motion too.
Weak of themselves are what we beauties call,
It is the manner which gives strength to all;
This teaches every beauty to unite,
And brings them forward in the noblest light;
Happy in this, behold, amidst the throng,
With transient gleam of grace, Hart sweeps along.
If all the wonders of external grace,
A person finely turn'd, a mould of face,
Where--union rare--expression's lively force
With beauty's softest magic holds discourse,
Attract the eye; if feelings, void of art,
Rouse the quick passions, and inflame the heart;
If music, sweetly breathing from the tongue,
Captives the ear, Bride must not pass unsung.
When fear, which rank ill-nature terms conceit,
By time and custom conquer'd, shall retreat;
When judgment, tutor'd by experience sage,
Shall shoot abroad, and gather strength from age;
When Heaven, in mercy, shall the stage release
From the dull slumbers of a still-life piece;
When some stale flower, disgraceful to the walk,
Which long hath hung, though wither'd, on the stalk,
Shall kindly drop, then Bride shall make her way,
And merit find a passage to the day;
Brought into action, she at once shall raise
Her own renown, and justify our praise.
Form'd for the tragic scene, to grace the stage
With rival excellence of love and rage;
Mistress of each soft art, with matchless skill
To turn and wind the passions as she will;
To melt the heart with sympathetic woe,
Awake the sigh, and teach the tear to flow;
To put on frenzy's wild, distracted glare,
And freeze the soul with horror and despair;
With just desert enroll'd in endless fame,
Conscious of worth superior, Cibber came.
When poor Alicia's madd'ning brains are rack'd,
And strongly imaged griefs her mind distract,
Struck with her grief, I catch the madness too,
My brain turns round, the headless trunk I view!
The roof cracks, shakes, and falls--new horrors rise,
And Reason buried in the ruin lies!
Nobly disdainful of each slavish art,
She makes her first attack upon the heart;
Pleased with the summons, it receives her laws,
And all is silence, sympathy, applause.
But when, by fond ambition drawn aside,
Giddy with praise, and puff'd with female pride,
She quits the tragic scene, and, in pretence
To comic merit, breaks down nature's fence,
I scarcely can believe my ears or eyes,
Or find out Cibber through the dark disguise.
Pritchard, by Nature for the stage design'd,
In person graceful, and in sense refined;
Her art as much as Nature's friend became,
Her voice as free from blemish as her fame,
Who knows so well in majesty to please,
Attemper'd with the graceful charms of ease?
When, Congreve's favoured pantomime to grace,
She comes a captive queen, of Moorish race;
When love, hate, jealousy, despair, and rage
With wildest tumults in her breast engage,
Still equal to herself is Zara seen;
Her passions are the passions of a queen.
When she to murder whets the timorous Thane,
I feel ambition rush through every vein;
Persuasion hangs upon her daring tongue,
My heart grows flint, and every nerve's new strung.
In comedy--Nay, there, cries Critic, hold;
Pritchard's for comedy too fat and old:
Who can, with patience, bear the gray coquette,
Or force a laugh with over-grown Julett?
Her speech, look, action, humour, all are just,
But then, her age and figure give disgust.
Are foibles, then, and graces of the mind,
In real life, to size or age confined?
Do spirits flow, and is good-breeding placed
In any set circumference of waist?
As we grow old, doth affectation cease,
Or gives not age new vigour to caprice?
If in originals these things appear,
Why should we bar them in the copy here?
The nice punctilio-mongers of this age,
The grand minute reformers of the stage,
Slaves to propriety of every kind,
Some standard measure for each part should find,
Which, when the best of actors shall exceed,
Let it devolve to one of smaller breed.
All actors, too, upon the back should bear
Certificate of birth; time, when; place, where;
For how can critics rightly fix their worth,
Unless they know the minute of their birth?
An audience, too, deceived, may find, too late,
That they have clapp'd an actor out of date.
Figure, I own, at first may give offence,
And harshly strike the eye's too curious sense;
But when perfections of the mind break forth,
Humour's chaste sallies, judgment's solid worth;
When the pure genuine flame by Nature taught,
Springs into sense and every action's thought;
Before such merit all objections fly--
Pritchard's genteel, and Garrick's six feet high.
Oft have I, Pritchard, seen thy wondrous skill,
Confess'd thee great, but find thee greater still;
That worth, which shone in scatter'd rays before,
Collected now, breaks forth with double power.
The 'Jealous Wife!' on that thy trophies raise,
Inferior only to the author's praise.
From Dublin, famed in legends of romance
For mighty magic of enchanted lance,
With which her heroes arm'd, victorious prove,
And, like a flood, rush o'er the land of Love,
Mossop and Barry came--names ne'er design'd
By Fate in the same sentence to be join'd.
Raised by the breath of popular acclaim,
They mounted to the pinnacle of fame;
There the weak brain, made giddy with the height,
Spurr'd on the rival chiefs to mortal fight.
Thus sportive boys, around some basin's brim,
Behold the pipe-drawn bladders circling swim;
But if, from lungs more potent, there arise
Two bubbles of a more than common size,
Eager for honour, they for fight prepare,
Bubble meets bubble, and both sink to air.
Mossop attach'd to military plan,
Still kept his eye fix'd on his right-hand man;
Whilst the mouth measures words with seeming skill,
The right hand labours, and the left lies still;
For he, resolved on Scripture grounds to go,
What the right doth, the left-hand shall not know,
With studied impropriety of speech,
He soars beyond the hackney critic's reach;
To epithets allots emphatic state,
Whilst principals, ungraced, like lackeys wait;
In ways first trodden by himself excels,
And stands alone in indeclinables;
Conjunction, preposition, adverb join
To stamp new vigour on the nervous line;
In monosyllables his thunders roll,
He, she, it, and we, ye, they, fright the soul.
In person taller than the common size,
Behold where Barry draws admiring eyes!
When labouring passions, in his bosom pent,
Convulsive rage, and struggling heave for vent;
Spectators, with imagined terrors warm,
Anxious expect the bursting of the storm:
But, all unfit in such a pile to dwell,
His voice comes forth, like Echo from her cell,
To swell the tempest needful aid denies,
And all adown the stage in feeble murmurs dies.
What man, like Barry, with such pains, can err
In elocution, action, character?
What man could give, if Barry was not here,
Such well applauded tenderness to Lear?
Who else can speak so very, very fine,
That sense may kindly end with every line?
Some dozen lines before the ghost is there,
Behold him for the solemn scene prepare:
See how he frames his eyes, poises each limb,
Puts the whole body into proper trim:--
From whence we learn, with no great stretch of art,
Five lines hence comes a ghost, and, ha! a start.
When he appears most perfect, still we find
Something which jars upon and hurts the mind:
Whatever lights upon a part are thrown,
We see too plainly they are not his own:
No flame from Nature ever yet he caught,
Nor knew a feeling which he was not taught:
He raised his trophies on the base of art,
And conn'd his passions, as he conn'd his part.
Quin, from afar, lured by the scent of fame,
A stage leviathan, put in his claim,
Pupil of Betterton and Booth. Alone,
Sullen he walk'd, and deem'd the chair his own:
For how should moderns, mushrooms of the day,
Who ne'er those masters knew, know how to play?
Gray-bearded veterans, who, with partial tongue,
Extol the times when they themselves were young,
Who, having lost all relish for the stage,
See not their own defects, but lash the age,
Received, with joyful murmurs of applause,
Their darling chief, and lined his favourite cause.
Far be it from the candid Muse to tread
Insulting o'er the ashes of the dead:
But, just to living merit, she maintains,
And dares the test, whilst Garrick's genius reigns,
Ancients in vain endeavour to excel,
Happily praised, if they could act as well.
But, though prescription's force we disallow,
Nor to antiquity submissive bow;
Though we deny imaginary grace,
Founded on accidents of time and place,
Yet real worth of every growth shall bear
Due praise; nor must we, Quin, forget thee there.
His words bore sterling weight; nervous and strong,
In manly tides of sense they roll'd along:
Happy in art, he chiefly had pretence
To keep up numbers, yet not forfeit sense;
No actor ever greater heights could reach
In all the labour'd artifice of speech.
Speech! is that all? And shall an actor found
An universal fame on partial ground?
Parrots themselves speak properly by rote,
And, in six months, my dog shall howl by note.
I laugh at those who, when the stage they tread,
Neglect the heart, to compliment the head;
With strict propriety their cares confined
To weigh out words, while passion halts behind:
To syllable-dissectors they appeal,
Allow them accent, cadence,--fools may feel;
But, spite of all the criticising elves,
Those who would make us feel, must feel themselves.
His eyes, in gloomy socket taught to roll,
Proclaim'd the sullen 'habit of his soul:'
Heavy and phlegmatic he trod the stage,
Too proud for tenderness, too dull for rage.
When Hector's lovely widow shines in tears,
Or Rowe's gay rake dependent virtue jeers,
With the same cast of features he is seen
To chide the libertine, and court the queen.
From the tame scene, which without passion flows,
With just desert his reputation rose;
Nor less he pleased, when, on some surly plan,
He was, at once, the actor and the man.
In Brute he shone unequall'd: all agree
Garrick's not half so great a Brute as he.
When Cato's labour'd scenes are brought to view,
With equal praise the actor labour'd too;
For still you'll find, trace passions to their root,
Small difference 'twixt the Stoic and the Brute.
In fancied scenes, as in life's real plan,
He could not, for a moment, sink the man.
In whate'er cast his character was laid,
Self still, like oil, upon the surface play'd.
Nature, in spite of all his skill, crept in:
Horatio, Dorax, Falstaff,--still 'twas Quin.
Next follows Sheridan. A doubtful name,
As yet unsettled in the rank of fame:
This, fondly lavish in his praises grown,
Gives him all merit; that allows him none;
Between them both, we'll steer the middle course,
Nor, loving praise, rob Judgment of her force.
Just his conceptions, natural and great,
His feelings strong, his words enforced with weight.
Was speech-famed Quin himself to hear him speak,
Envy would drive the colour from his cheek;
But step-dame Nature, niggard of her grace,
Denied the social powers of voice and face.
Fix'd in one frame of features, glare of eye,
Passions, like chaos, in confusion lie;
In vain the wonders of his skill are tried
To form distinctions Nature hath denied.
His voice no touch of harmony admits,
Irregularly deep, and shrill by fits.
The two extremes appear like man and wife,
Coupled together for the sake of strife.
His action's always strong, but sometimes such,
That candour must declare he acts too much.
Why must impatience fall three paces back?
Why paces three return to the attack?
Why is the right leg, too, forbid to stir,
Unless in motion semicircular?
Why must the hero with the Nailor vie,
And hurl the close-clench'd fist at nose or eye?
In Royal John, with Philip angry grown,
I thought he would have knock'd poor Davies down.
Inhuman tyrant! was it not a shame
To fright a king so harmless and so tame?
But, spite of all defects, his glories rise,
And art, by judgment form'd, with nature vies.
Behold him sound the depth of Hubert's soul,
Whilst in his own contending passions roll;
View the whole scene, with critic judgment scan,
And then deny him merit, if you can.
Where he falls short, 'tis Nature's fault alone;
Where he succeeds, the merit's all his own.
Last Garrick came. Behind him throng a train
Of snarling critics, ignorant as vain.
One finds out--He's of stature somewhat low--
Your hero always should be tall, you know;
True natural greatness all consists in height.
Produce your voucher, Critic.--Serjeant Kite.
Another can't forgive the paltry arts
By which he makes his way to shallow hearts;
Mere pieces of finesse, traps for applause--
'Avaunt! unnatural start, affected pause!'
For me, by Nature form'd to judge with phlegm,
I can't acquit by wholesale, nor condemn.
The best things carried to excess are wrong;
The start may be too frequent, pause too long:
But, only used in proper time and place,
Severest judgment must allow them grace.
If bunglers, form'd on Imitation's plan,
Just in the way that monkeys mimic man,
Their copied scene with mangled arts disgrace,
And pause and start with the same vacant face,
We join the critic laugh; those tricks we scorn
Which spoil the scenes they mean them to adorn.
But when, from Nature's pure and genuine source,
These strokes of acting flow with generous force,
When in the features all the soul's portray'd,
And passions, such as Garrick's, are display'd,
To me they seem from quickest feelings caught--
Each start is nature, and each pause is thought.
When reason yields to passion's wild alarms,
And the whole state of man is up in arms,
What but a critic could condemn the player
For pausing here, when cool sense pauses there?
Whilst, working from the heart, the fire I trace,
And mark it strongly flaming to the face;
Whilst in each sound I hear the very man,
I can't catch words, and pity those who can.
Let wits, like spiders, from the tortured brain
Fine-draw the critic-web with curious pain;
The gods,--a kindness I with thanks must pay,--
Have form'd me of a coarser kind of clay;
Not stung with envy, nor with spleen diseased,
A poor dull creature, still with Nature pleased:
Hence to thy praises, Garrick, I agree,
And, pleased with Nature, must be pleased with thee.
Now might I tell how silence reign'd throughout,
And deep attention hush'd the rabble rout;
How every claimant, tortured with desire,
Was pale as ashes, or as red as fire;
But loose to fame, the Muse more simply acts,
Rejects all flourish, and relates mere facts.
The judges, as the several parties came,
With temper heard, with judgment weigh'd each claim;
And, in their sentence happily agreed,
In name of both, great Shakspeare thus decreed:--
If manly sense, if Nature link'd with Art;
If thorough knowledge of the human heart;
If powers of acting vast and unconfined;
If fewest faults with greatest beauties join'd;
If strong expression, and strange powers which lie
Within the magic circle of the eye;
If feelings which few hearts like his can know,
And which no face so well as his can show,
Deserve the preference--Garrick! take the chair;
Nor quit it--till thou place an equal there.

by Charles Churchill.

My love is young, so young;
Young is her cheek, and her throat,
And life is a song to be sung
With love the word for each note.

Young is her cheek and her throat;
Her eyes have the smile o' May.
And love is the word for each note
In the song of my life to-day.

Her eyes have the smile o' May;
Her heart is the heart of a dove,
And the song of my life to-day
Is love, beautiful love.


Her heart is the heart of a dove,
Ah, would it but fly to my breast
Where love, beautiful love,
Has made it a downy nest.


Ah, would she but fly to my breast,
My love who is young, so young;
I have made her a downy nest
And life is a song to be sung.


1
I.
A dull little station, a man with the eye
Of a dreamer; a bevy of girls moving by;
A swift moving train and a hot Summer sun,
The curtain goes up, and our play is begun.
The drama of passion, of sorrow, of strife,
Which always is billed for the theatre Life.
It runs on forever, from year unto year,
With scarcely a change when new actors appear.
It is old as the world is-far older in truth,
For the world is a crude little planet of youth.
And back in the eras before it was formed,
The passions of hearts through the Universe stormed.


Maurice Somerville passed the cluster of girls
Who twisted their ribbons and fluttered their curls
In vain to attract him; his mind it was plain
Was wholly intent on the incoming train.
That great one eyed monster puffed out its black breath,
Shrieked, snorted and hissed, like a thing bent on death,
Paused scarcely a moment, and then sped away,
And two actors more now enliven our play.


A graceful young woman with eyes like the morn,
With hair like the tassels which hang from the corn,
And a face that might serve as a model for Peace,
Moved lightly along, smiled and bowed to Maurice,
Then was lost in the circle of friends waiting near.
A discord of shrill nasal tones smote the ear,
As they greeted their comrade and bore her from sight.
(The ear oft is pained while the eye feels delight
In the presence of women throughout our fair land:
God gave them the graces which win and command,
But the devil, who always in mischief rejoices,
Slipped into their teachers and ruined their voices.)
There had stepped from the train just behind Mabel Lee
A man whose deportment bespoke him to be
A child of good fortune. His mien and his air
Were those of one all unaccustomed to care.
His brow was not vexed with the gold seeker's worry,
His manner was free from the national hurry.
Repose marked his movements. Yet gaze in his eye,
And you saw that this calm outer man was a lie;
And you knew that deep down in the depths of his breast
There dwelt the unmerciful imp of unrest.


He held out his hand; it was clasped with a will
In both the firm palms of Maurice Somerville.
'Well, Reese, my old Comrade;' 'Ha, Roger, my boy,'
They cried in a breath, and their eyes gemmed with joy
(Which but for their sex had been set in a tear),
As they walked arm in arm to the trap waiting near,
And drove down the shining shell roadway which wound
Through forest and meadow, in search of the Sound.


Roger:

I smell the salt water-that perfume which starts
The blood from hot brains back to world withered hearts;
You may talk of the fragrance of flower filled fields,
You may sing of the odors the Orient yields,
You may tell of the health laden scent of the pine,
But give me the subtle salt breath of the brine.
Already I feel lost emotions of youth
Steal back to my soul in their sweetness and truth;
Small wonder the years leave no marks on your face,
Time's scythe gathers rust in this idyllic place.
You must feel like a child on the Great Mother's breast,
With the Sound like a nurse watching over your rest?


Maurice:

There is beauty and truth in your quaint simile,
I love the Sound more than the broad open sea.
The ocean seems always stern, masculine, bold,
The Sound is a woman, now warm, and now cold.
It rises in fury and threatens to smite,
Then falls at your feet with a coo of delight;
Capricious, seductive, first frowning, then smiling,
And always, whatever its mood is, beguiling.
Look, now you can see it, bright beautiful blue,
And far in the distance there loom into view
The banks of Long Island, full thirty miles off;
A sign of wet weather to-morrow. Don't scoff!
We people who chum with the waves and the wind
Know more than all wise signal bureaus combined.


But come, let us talk of yourself-for of me
There is little to tell which your eyes may not see.
Since we finished at College (eight years, is it not?)
I simply have dreamed away life in this spot.
With my dogs and my horses, a book and a pen,
And a week spent in town as a change now and then.
Fatigue for the body, disease for the mind,
Are all that the city can give me, I find.
Yet once in a while there is wisdom I hold
In leaving the things that are dearer than gold,-
Loved people and places-if only to learn
The exquisite rapture it is to return.
But you, I remember, craved motion and change;
You hated the usual, worshiped the strange.
Adventure and travel I know were your theme:
Well, how did the real compare with the dream?
You have compassed the earth since we parted at Yale,
Has life grown the richer, or only grown stale?


Roger:

Stale, stale, my dear boy! that's the story in short,
I am weary of travel, adventure and sport;
At home and abroad, in all climates and lands,
I have had what life gives when a full purse commands
I have chased after Pleasure, that phantom faced elf,
And lost the best part of my youth and myself.
And now, barely thirty, I'm heart sick and blue;
Life seems like a farce scarcely worth sitting through.
I dread its long stretch of dissatisfied years;
Ah! wealth is not always the boon it appears.
And poverty lights not such ruinous fires
As gratified appetites, tastes and desires.
Fate curses, when letting us do as we please-
It stunts a man's soul to be cradled in ease.


Maurice:

You are right in a measure; the devil I hold
Is oftener found in full coffers of gold
Than in bare, empty larders. The soul, it is plain,
Needs the conflicts of earth, needs the stress and the strain
Of misfortune, to bring out its strength in this life-
The Soul's calisthenics are sorrow and strife.
But, Roger, what folly to stand in youth's prime
And talk like a man who could father old Time.
You have life all before you; the past,-let it sleep;
Its lessons alone are the things you should keep.
There is virtue sometimes in our follies and sinnings;
Right lives very often have faulty beginnings.
Results, and not causes, are what we should measure.
You have learned precious truths in your search after pleasure.
You have learned that a glow worm is never a star,
You have learned that Peace builds not her temples afar.
And now, dispossessed of the spirit to roam,
You are finely equipped to establish a home.
That's the one thing you need to lend savor to life,
A home, and the love of a sweet hearted wife,
And children to gladden the path to old age.


Roger:

Alas! from life's book I have torn out that page;
I have loved many times and in many a fashion,
Which means I know nothing at all of the passion.
I have scattered my heart, here and there, bit by bit,
'Til now there is nothing worth while left of it;
And, worse than all else, I have ceased to believe
In the virtue and truth of the daughters of Eve.
There's tragedy for you-when man's early trust
In woman, experience hurls to the dust!


Maurice:

Then you doubt your own mother?


Roger:

She passed heavenward
Before I remember; a saint, I have heard,
While she lived; there are scores of good women to-day,
Temptation has chanced not to wander their way.
The devil has more than his lordship can do,
He can't make the rounds, so some women keep true.


Maurice:

You think then each woman, if tempted, must fall?


Roger:

Yes, if tempted her way-not one way suits them all-
They have tastes in their sins as they have in their clothes,
The tempter, of course, has to first study those.
One needs to be flattered, another is bought;
One yields to caresses, by frowns one is caught.
One wants a bold master, another a slave,
With one you must jest, with another be grave.
But swear you're a sinner whom she has reformed
And the average feminine fortress is stormed.
In rescuing men from abysses of sin
She loses her head-and herself tumbles in.
The mind of a woman was shaped for a saint,
But deep in her heart lies the devil's own taint.
With plans for salvation her busy brain teems,
While her heart longs in secret to know how sin seems.
And if with this question unanswered she dies,
Temptation came not in the right sort of guise.
There's my estimate, Reese, of the beautiful sex;
I see by your face that my words wound and vex,
But remember, my boy, I'm a man of the world.


Maurice:

Thank God, in the vortex I have not been hurled.
If experience breeds such a mental disease,
I am glad I have lived with the birds and the bees,
And the winds and the waves, and let people alone.
So far in my life but good women I've known.
My mother, my sister, a few valued friends-
A teacher, a schoolmate, and there the list ends.
But to know one true woman in sunshine and gloom,
From the zenith of life to the door of the tomb,
To know her, as I knew that mother of mine,
Is to know the whole sex and to kneel at the shrine.


Roger:

Then you think saint and woman synonymous terms?


Maurice:

Oh, no! we are all, men and women, poor worms
Crawling up from the dampness and darkness of clay
To bask in the sunlight and warmth of the day.
Some climb to a leaf and reflect its bright sheen,
Some toil through the grass, and are crushed there unseen.
Some sting if you touch them, and some evolve wings;
Yet God dwells in each of the poor, groping things.
They came from the Source-to the Source they go back;
The sinners are those who have missed the true track.
We can not judge women or men as a class,
Each soul has its own distinct place in the mass.
There is no sex in sin; it were folly to swear
All women are angels, but worse to declare
All are devils as you do. You're morbid, my boy,
In what you thought gold you have found much alloy
And now you are doubting there is the true ore.
But wait till you study my sweet simple store
Of pure sterling treasures; just wait till you've been
A few restful weeks, or a season, within
The charmed circle of home life; then, Roger, you'll find
These malarial mists clearing out of your mind.
As a ship cuts the fog and is caught by the breeze,
And swept through the sunlight to fair, open seas,
So your heart will be caught and swept out to the ocean
Of youth and youth's birthright of happy emotion.
I'll wager my hat (it was new yesterday)
That you'll fall in love, too, in a serious way.
Our girls at Bay Bend are bewitching and fair,
And Cupid lurks ever in salt Summer air.


Roger:

I question your gifts as a prophet, and yet,
I confess in my travels I never have met
A woman whose face so impressed me at sight,
As one seen to-day; a mere girl, sweet and bright,
Who entered the train quite alone and sat down
Surrounded by parcels she'd purchased in town.
A trim country lass, but endowed with the beauty
Which makes a man think of his conscience and duty.
Some women, you know, move us that way-God bless them,
While others rouse only a thirst to possess them
The face of the girl made me wish to be good,
I went out and smoked to escape from the mood.
When conscience through half a man's life has been sleeping
What folly to wake it to worry and weeping!


Maurice:

The pessimist role is a modern day fad,
But, Roger, you make a poor cynic, my lad.
Your heart at the core is as sound as a nut,
Though the wheels of your mind have dropped into the rut
Of wrong thinking. You need a strong hand on the lever
Of good common sense, and an earnest endeavor
To pull yourself out of the slough of despond
Back into the highway of peace just beyond.
And now, here we are at Peace Castle in truth,
And there stands its Chatelaine, sweet Sister Ruth,
To welcome you, Roger; you'll find a new type
In this old-fashioned girl, who in years scarcely ripe,
And as childish in heart as she is in her looks,
And without worldly learning or knowledge of books,
Yet in housewifely wisdom is wise as a sage.
She is quite out of step with the girls of her age,
For she has no ambition beyond the home sphere.
Ruth, here's Roger Montrose, my comrade of dear College days.
The gray eyes of the girl of nineteen
Looked into the face oft in fancy she'd seen
When her brother had talked of his comrade at Yale.
His stature was lower, his cheek was more pale
Than her thought had portrayed him; a look in his eye
Made her sorry, she knew not for what nor knew why,
But she longed to befriend him, as one needing aid.
While he, gazing down on the face of the maid,
Spoke some light words of greeting, the while his mind ran
On her 'points' good and bad; for the average man
When he looks at a woman proceeds first to scan her
As if she were horse flesh, and in the same manner
Notes all that is pleasing, or otherwise. So
Roger gazed at Ruth Somerville.
'Mouth like a bow
And eyes full of motherhood; color too warm,
And too round in the cheek and too full in the form
For the highest ideal of beauty and art.
Domestic-that word is the cue to her part
She would warm a man's slippers, but never his veins;
She would feed well his stomach, but never his brains.
And after she looks on her first baby's face,
Her husband will hold but a second-class place
In her thoughts or emotions, unless he falls ill,
When a dozen trained nurses her place can not fill.
She is sweet of her kind; and her kind since the birth
Of this sin ridden, Circe-cursed planet, the Earth,
Has kept it, I own, with its medleys of evil
From going straight into the hands of the devil.
It is not through its heroes the world lives and thrives,
But through its sweet commonplace mothers and wives.
We love them, and leave them; deceive, and respect them,
We laud loud their virtues and straightway neglect them.
They are daisy and buttercup women of earth
Who grace common ways with their sweetness and worth.
We praise, but we pass them, to reach for some flower
That stings when we pluck it, or wilts in an hour.
'You are thornless, fair Ruth! you are useful and sweet!
But lovers shall pass you to sigh at the feet
Of the selfish and idle, for such is man's way;
Your lot is to work, and to weep, and to pray.
To give much and get little; to toil and to wait
For the meager rewards of indifferent fate.
Yet so wholesome your heart, you will never complain;
You will feast on life's sorrow and drink of its pain,
And thank God for the banquet; 'tis women like you
Who make the romancing of preachers seem true.
The earth is your debtor to such large amounts
There must be a heaven to square up accounts,
Or else the whole scheme of existence at best
Is a demon's poor effort at making a jest.'


That night as Ruth brushed out her bright hazel hair
Her thoughts were of Roger, 'His bold laughing air
Is a cloak to some sorrow concealed in his breast,
His mind is the home of some secret unrest.'
She sighed; and there woke in her bosom once more
The impulse to comfort and help him; to pour
Soothing oil from the urn of her heart on his wounds.
Where motherhood nature in woman abounds
It is thus Cupid comes; unannounced and unbidden,
In sweet pity's guise, with his arrows well hidden.
But once given welcome and housed as a guest,
He hurls the whole quiver full into her breast,
While he pulls off his mask and laughs up in her eyes
With an impish delight at her start of surprise.
So intent is this archer on bagging his game
He scruples at nothing which gives him good aim.


Ruth's heart was a virgin's, in love menaced danger
While she sat by her mirror and pitied the stranger.
But just as she blew out her candle and stood
Robed for sleep in the moonlight, a change in her mood
Quickly banished the dreamer, and brought in its stead
The practical housekeeper. Sentiment fled;
And she puzzled her brain to decide which were best,
Corn muffins or hot graham gems, for the guest!


2
II.
The short-sighted minister preached at Bay Bend
His long-winded sermon quite through to the end,
Unmindful there sat in the Somerville pew
A stranger whose pale handsome countenance drew
All eyes from his own reverend self; nor suspected
What Ruth and her brother too plainly detected
That the stranger was bored.
'Though his gaze never stirred
From the face of the preacher, his heart has not heard,'
Ruth said to herself; and her soft mother-eye
Was fixed on his face with a look like a sigh
In its tremulous depths, as they rose to depart.
Then suddenly Roger, alert, seemed to start
And his dull, listless glance changed to one of surprise
And of pleasure. Ruth saw that the goal of his eyes
Was her friend Mabel Lee in the vestibule; fair
As a saint that is pictured with sun tangled hair
And orbs like the skies in October. She smiled,
And the saint disappeared in the innocent child
With an unconscious dower of beauty and youth
She paused in the vestibule waiting for Ruth
And seemed not to notice the warm eager gaze
Of two men fixed upon her in different ways.
One, the look which souls lift to a being above,
The other a look of unreasoning love
Born of fancy and destined to grow in an hour
To a full fledged emotion of mastering power.


She spoke, and her voice disappointed the ear;
It lacked some deep chords that the heart hoped to hear.
It was sweet, but not vibrant; it came from the throat,
And one listened in vain for a full chested note.
While something at times like a petulant sound
Seemed in strange disaccord with the peace so profound
Of the eyes and the brow.
Though our sight is deceived
The ear is an organ that may be believed.
The faces of people are trained to conceal,
But their unruly voices are prone to reveal
What lies deep in their natures; a voice rarely lies,
But Mabel Lee's voice told one tale, while her eyes
Told another. Large, liquid, and peaceful as lakes
Where the azure dawn rests, ere the loud world awakes,
Were the beautiful eyes of the maiden. 'A saint,
Without mortal blemish or weak human taint,'
Said Maurice to himself. To himself Roger said:
'The touch of her soft little hands on my head
Would convert me. What peace for a world weary breast
To just sit by her side and be soothed into rest.'


Daring thoughts for a stranger. Maurice, who had known
Mabel Lee as a child, to himself would not own
Such bold longings as those were. He held her to be
Too sacred for even a thought that made free.
And the voice in his bosom was silenced and hushed
Lest the bloom from her soul by his words should be brushed.
There are men to whom love is religion; but woman
Is far better pleased with a homage more human.
Though she may not be able to love in like fashion,
She wants to be wooed with both ardor and passion.
Had Mabel Lee read Roger's thoughts of her, bold
Though they were, they had flattered and pleased her, I hold.
The stranger was duly presented.


Roger:

Miss Lee,
I am sure, has no least recollection of me,
But the pleasure is mine to have looked on her face
Once before this.


Mabel:

Indeed? May I ask where?


Roger:

The place
Was the train, and the time yesterday.


Mabel:

'Then I came
From my shopping excursion in town by the same
Fast express which brought you? Had I known that the friend
Of my friends, was so near me en route for Bay Bend,
I had waived all conventions and asked him to take
One-half of my parcels for sweet pity's sake.


Roger:

You sadden me sorely. As long as I live
I shall mourn the great pleasure chance chose not to give.


Maurice:

Take courage, mon ami. Our fair friend, Miss Lee,
Fills her time quite as full of sweet works as the bee;
Like the bee, too, she drives out the drones from her hive.
You must toil in her cause, in her favor to thrive.


Roger:

She need but command me. To wait upon beauty
And goodness combined makes a pleasure of duty.


Maurice:

Who serves Mabel Lee serves all Righteousness too.
Pray, then, that she gives you some labor to do.
The cure for the pessimist lies in good deeds.
Who toils for another forgets his own needs,
And mischief and misery never attend
On the man who is occupied fully.


Ruth:

Our friend
Has the town on her shoulders. Whatever may be
The cause that is needy, we look to Miss Lee.
Have you gold? She will make you disgorge it ere long;
Are you poor? Well, perchance you can dance-sing a song-
Make a speech-tell a story, or plan a charade.
Whatever you have, gold or wits, sir, must aid
In her numerous charities.


Mabel:

Riches and brain
Are but loans from the Master. He meant them, 'tis plain,
To be used in His service; and people are kind,
When once you can set them to thinking. I find
It is lack of perception, not lack of good heart
Which makes the world selfish in seeming. My part
Is to call the attention of Plenty to need,
And to bid Pleasure pause for a moment and heed
The woes and the burdens of Labor.


Roger:

One plea
From the rosy and eloquent lips of Miss Lee
Would make Avarice pour out his coffers of gold
At her feet, I should fancy; would soften the cold,
Selfish heart of the world to compassionate sighs,
And bring tears of pity to vain Pleasure's eyes.


As the sunset a color on lily leaves throws,
The words and the glances of Roger Montrose
O'er the listener's cheeks sent a pink tinted wave;
While Maurice seemed disturbed, and his sister grew grave.
The false chink of flattery's coin smites the ear
With an unpleasant ring when the heart is sincere.
Yet the man whose mind pockets are filled with this ore,
Though empty his brain cells, is never a bore
To the opposite sex.
While Maurice knew of old
Roger's wealth in that coin that does duty for gold
In Society dealings, it hurt him to see
The cheap metal offered to sweet Mabel Lee.


(Yet, perchance, the hurt came, not so much that 'twas offered,
As in seeing her take, with a smile, what was proffered.)
They had walked, two by two, down the elm shaded street,
Which led to a cottage, vine hidden, and sweet
With the breath of the roses that covered it, where
Mabel paused in the gateway; a picture most fair.
'I would ask you to enter,' she said, 'ere you pass,
But in just twenty minutes my Sunday-school class
Claims my time and attention; and later I meet
A Committee on Plans for the boys of the street.
We seek to devise for these pupils in crime
Right methods of thought and wise uses of time.


Roger:

I am but a vagrant, untutored and wild,
May I join your street class, and be taught like a child?


Mabel:

If you come I will carefully study your case.


Maurice:

I must go along, too, just to keep him in place.


Mabel:

Then you think him unruly?


Maurice:

Decidedly so.


Roger:

I was, but am changed since one-half hour ago.


Mabel:

The change is too sudden to be of much worth;
The deepest convictions are slowest of birth.
Conversion, I hold, to be earnest and lasting,
Begins with repentance and praying and fasting,
And (begging your pardon for such a bold speech),
You seem, sir, a stranger to all and to each
Of these ways of salvation.


Roger:

Since yesterday, miss,
When, unseen, I first saw you (believe me in this),
I have deeply repented my sins of the past.
To-night I will pray, and to-morrow will fast-
Or, make it next week, when my shore appetite
May be somewhat subdued in its ravenous might.


Maurice:

That's the way of the orthodox sinner! He waits
Until time or indulgence or misery sates
All his appetites, then his repentance begins,
When his sins cease to please, then he gives up his sins
And grows pious. Now prove you are morally brave
By actually giving up something you crave!
We have fricasseed chicken and strawberry cake
For our dinner to-day.


Roger:

For dear principle's sake
I could easily do what you ask, were it not
Most unkind to Miss Ruth, who gave labor and thought
To that menu, preparing it quite to my taste.


Ruth:

But the thought and the dinner will both go to waste,
If we linger here longer; and Mabel, I see,
Is impatient to go to her duties.


Roger:

The bee
Is reluctant to turn from the lily although
The lily may obviously wish he would go
And leave her to muse in the sunlight alone.
Yet when the rose calls him, his sorrow, I own,
Has its recompense. So from delight to delight
I fly with my wings honeyladen.
Good night.


3
III.
prologue
Oh, love is like the dawnlight
That turns the dark to day,
And love is like the deep night
With secrets hid away.


And love is like the moonlight
Where tropic Summers glow,
And love is like the twilight
When dreams begin to grow.


Oh, love is like the sunlight
That sets the world ablaze.
And love is like the moonlight
With soft, illusive rays.


And love is like the starlight
That glimmers o'er the skies.
And love is like the far light
That shines from God's great eyes.


Maurice Somerville from his turreted den
Looked out of the window and laid down his pen.
A soft salty wind from the water was blowing,
Below in the garden sat Ruth with her sewing.
And stretched on the grass at her feet Roger lay
With a book in his hand.
Through the ripe August day,
Piped the Katydids' voices, Jack Frost's tally-ho
Commanding Queen Summer to pack up and go.
Maurice leaned his head on the casement and sighed,
Strong and full in his heart surged love's turbulent tide.
And thoughts of the woman he worshiped with longing
Took shape and like angels about him came thronging.
The world was all Mabel! her exquisite face
Seemed etched on the sunlight and gave it its grace;
Her eyes made the blue of the heavens, the sun
Was her wonderful hair caught and coiled into one
Shining mass. With a reverent, worshipful awe,
It was Mabel, fair Mabel, dear Mabel he saw,
When he looked up to God.
They had been much together
Through all the bright stretches of midsummer weather,
Ruth, Roger, and Mabel and he. Scarce a day
But the four were united in work or in play.
And much of the play to a man or a maid
Not in love had seemed labor. Recital, charade,
Garden party, church festival, musical, hop,
Were all planned by Miss Lee without respite or stop.
The poor were the richer; school, hospital, church,
The heathen, the laborer left in the lurch
By misfortune, the orphan, the indigent old,
Our kind Lady Bountiful aided with gold
Which she filched from the pockets of pleasure-God's spoil,
And God's blessing will follow such lives when they toil
Through an infinite sympathy.
Fair Mabel Lee
Loved to rule and to lead. She was eager to be
In the eyes of the public. That modern day craze
Possessed her in secret, and this was its phase.
An innocent, even commendable, fad
Which filled empty larders and cheered up the sad.
She loved to do good. But, alas! in her heart,
She loved better still the authoritative part
Which she played in her town.
'Neath the saint's aureole
Lurked the feminine tyrant who longed to control,
And who never would serve; but her sway was so sweet,
That her world was contented to bow at her feet.


Who toils in the great public vineyard must needs
Let other hands keep his own garden from weeds.
So busy was Mabel with charity fairs
She gave little thought to her home or its cares.
Mrs. Lee, like the typical modern day mother,
Was maid to her daughter; the father and brother
Were slaves at her bidding; an excellent plan
To make a tyrannical wife for some man.
Yet where was the man who, beholding the grace
Of that slight girlish creature, and watching her face
With its infantile beauty and sweetness, would dare
Think aught but the rarest of virtues dwelt there?
Rare virtues she had, but in commonplace ones
Which make happy husbands and home loving sons
She was utterly lacking. Ruth Somerville saw
In sorrow and silence this blemishing flaw
In the friend whom she loved with devotion! Maurice
Saw only the angel with eyes full of peace.
The faults of plain women are easily seen.
But who cares to peer back of beauty's fair screen
For things which are ugly to look on?
The lover
Is not quite in love when his sharp eyes discover
The flaws in his jewel.


Maurice from his room
Looked dreamily down on the garden of bloom,
Where Ruth sat with Roger; he smiled as he thought
How quickly the world sated cynic was brought
Into harness by Cupid. The man mad with drink,
And the man mad with love, is quite certain to think
All other men drunkards or lovers. In truth
Maurice had expected his friend to love Ruth.
'She was young, she was fair; with her bright sunny art
She could scatter the mists from his world befogged heart.
She could give him the one heaven under God's dome,
A peaceful, well ordered, and love-guarded home.
And he? why of course he would worship her! When
Cupid finds the soft spot in the hearts of such men
They are ideal husbands.' Maurice Somerville
Felt the whole world was shaping itself to his will.
And his heart stirred with joy as, by thought necromancy,
He made the near future unfold to his fancy,
And saw Ruth the bride of his friend, and the place
She left vacant supplied with the beauty and grace
Of this woman he longed for, the love of his life,
Fair Mabel, his angel, his sweet spirit wife.
Maurice to his desk turned again and once more
Began to unburden his bosom and pour
His heart out on paper-the poet's relief,
When drunk with life's rapture or sick with its grief.


Song.
When shall I tell my lady that I love her?
Will it be while the sunshine woos the world,
Or when the mystic twilight bends above her,
Or when the day's bright banners all are furled?
Will wild winds shriek, or will the calm stars glow,
When I shall tell her that I love her so,
I love her so?


I think the sun should shine in all his glory;
Again, the twilight seems the fitting time.
Yet sweet dark night would understand the story,
So old, so new, so tender, so sublime.
Wild storms should rage to chord with my desire,
Yet faithful stars should shine and never tire,
And never tire.


Ah, if my lady will consent to listen,
All hours, will times, shall hear my story told.
In amorous dawns, on nights when pale stars glisten
In dim hushed gloamings and in noon hours bold,
While thunders crash, and while the winds breathe low,
Will I re-tell her that I love her so.
I love her so.


4
IV.
The October day had been luscious and fair
Like a woman of thirty. A chill in the air
As the sun faced the west spoke of frost lurking near
All day the Sound lay without motion, and clear
As a mirror, and blue as a blond baby's eyes.
A change in the tide brought a change to the skies.
The bay stirred and murmured and parted its lips
And breathed a long sigh for the lost lovely ships,
That had gone with the Summer.
Its calm placid breast
Was stirred into passionate pain and unrest.
Not a sail, not a sail anywhere to be seen!
The soft azure eyes of the sea turned to green.
A sudden wind rose; like a runaway horse
Unchecked and unguided it sped on its course.
The waves bared their teeth, and spat spray in the face
Of the furious gale as they fled in the chase.
The sun hurried into a cloud; and the trees
Bowed low and yet lower, as if to appease
The wrath of the storm king that threatened them Close
To the waves at their wildest stood Roger Montrose.
The day had oppressed him; and now the unrest
Of the wind beaten sea brought relief to his breast,
Or at least brought the sense of companionship. Lashed
By his higher emotions, the man's passions dashed
On the shore of his mind in a frenzy of pain,
Like the waves on the rocks, and a frenzy as vain.


Since the day he first looked on her face, Mabel Lee
Had seemed to his self sated nature to be,
On life's troubled ocean, a beacon of light,
To guide him safe out from the rocks and the night.
Her calm soothed his passion; her peace gave him poise;
She seemed like a silence in life's vulgar noise.
He bathed in the light which her purity cast,
And felt half absolved from the sins of the past.
He longed in her mantle of goodness to hide
And forget the whole world. By the incoming tide
He talked with his heart as one talks with a friend
Who is dying. 'The summer has come to an end
And I wake from my dreaming,' he mused. 'Wake to know
That my place is not here-I must go I must go.
Who dares laugh at Love shall hear Love laughing last,
As forth from his bowstring barbed arrows are cast.
I scoffed at the god with a sneer on my lip,
And he forces me now from his chalice to sip
A bitter sweet potion. Ah, lightly the part
Of a lover I've played many times, but my heart
Has been proud in its record of friendship. And now
The mad, eager lover born in me must bow
To the strong claims of friendship. I love Mabel Lee;
Dared I woo as I would, I could make her love me.
The soul of a maid who knows not passion's fire
Is moth to the flame of a man's strong desire.
With one kiss on her lips I could banish the nun
And wake in her virginal bosom the one
Mighty love of her life. If I leave her, I know
She will be my friend's wife in a season or so.
He loves her, he always has loved her; 'tis he
Who ever will do all the loving; and she
Will accept it, and still be the saint to the end,
And she never will know what she missed; but my friend
Has the right to speak first. God! how can he delay?
I marvel at men who are fashioned that way.
He has worshiped her since first she put up her tresses,
And let down the hem of her school-girlish dresses
And now she is full twenty-two; were I he
A brood of her children should climb on my knee
By this time! What a sin against love to postpone
The day that might make her forever his own.
The man who can wait has no blood in his veins.
Maurice is a dreamer, he loves with his brains
Not with soul and with senses. And yet his whole life
Will be blank if he makes not this woman his wife.
She is woof of his dreams, she is warp of his mind;
Who tears her away shall leave nothing behind.
No, no, I am going: farewell to Bay Bend
I am no woman's lover-I am one man's friend.
Still-born in the arms of the matron eyed year
Lies the beautiful dream that my life buries here.
Its tomb was its cradle; it came but to taunt me,
It died, but its phantom shall ever more haunt me.'


He turned from the waves that leaped at him in wrath
To find Mabel Lee, like a wraith, in his path.
The rose from her cheek had departed in fear;
The tip of her eyelash was gemmed with a tear.
The rude winds had disarranged mantle and dress,
And she clung with both hands to her hat in distress.
'I am frightened,' she cried, in a tremulous tone;
'I dare not proceed any farther alone.
As I came by the church yard the wind felled a tree,
And invisible hands seemed to hurl it at me;
I hurried on, shrieking; the wind, in disgust,
Tore the hat from my head, filled my eyes full of dust,
And otherwise made me the butt of its sport.
Just then I spied you, like a light in the port,
And I steered for you. Please do not laugh at my fright!
I am really quite bold in the calm and the light,
But when a storm gathers, or darkness prevails,
My courage deserts me, my bravery fails,
And I want to hide somewhere and cover my ears,
And give myself up to weak womanish tears.'


Her ripple of talk allowed Roger Montrose
A few needed moments to calm and compose
His excited emotions; to curb and control
The turbulent feelings that surged through his soul
At the sudden encounter.
'I quite understand,'
He said in a voice that was under command
Of his will, 'All your fears in a storm of this kind.
There is something uncanny and weird in the wind;
Intangible, viewless, it speeds on its course,
And forests and oceans must yield to its force.
What art has constructed with patience and toil,
The wind in one second of time can despoil.
It carries destruction and death and despair,
Yet no man can follow it into its lair
And bind it or stay it-this thing without form.
Ah! there comes the rain! we are caught in the storm.
Put my coat on your shoulders and come with me where
Yon rock makes a shelter-I often sit there
To watch the great conflicts 'twixt tempest and sea.
Let me lie at your feet! 'Tis the last time, Miss Lee,
I shall see you, perchance, in this life, who can say?
I leave on the morrow at break o' the day.'


Mabel:

Indeed? Why, how sudden! and may I inquire
The reason you leave us without one desire
To return? for your words seem a final adieu.


Roger:

I never expect to return, that is true,
Yet my wish is to stay.


Mabel:

Are you not your own master?


Roger:

Alas, yes! and therein lies the cause of disaster.
Myself bids me go, my calm, reasoning part,
The will is the man, not the poor, foolish heart,
Which is ever at war with the intellect. So
I silence its clamoring voices and go.
Were I less my own master, I then might remain.


Mabel:

Your words are but riddles, I beg you explain.


Roger:

No, no, rather bid me keep silent! To say
Why I go were as weak on my part as to stay.


Mabel:

I think you most cruel! You know, sir, my sex
Loves dearly a secret. Then why should you vex
And torment me in this way by hinting at one?


Roger:

Let us talk of the weather, I think the storm done.


Mabel:

Very well! I will go! No, you need not come too,
And I will not shake hands, I am angry with you.


Roger:

And you will not shake hands when we part for all time?


Mabel:

Then read me your riddle!


Roger:

No, that were a crime
Against honor and friendship; girl, girl, have a care-
You are goading my poor, tortured heart to despair.


His last words were lost in the loud thunder's crash;
The sea seemed ablaze with a sulphurous flash.
From the rocks just above them an evergreen tree
Was torn up by the roots and flung into the sea.
The waves with rude arms hurled it back on the shore;
The wind gained in fury. The glare and the roar
Of the lightning and tempest paled Mabel Lee's cheek.
Her pupils dilated; she sprang with a shriek
Of a terrified child lost to all save alarm,
And clasped Roger Montrose with both hands by the arm,
While her cheek pressed his shoulder. An agony, sweet
And unbearable, thrilled from his head to his feet,
His veins were like rivers, with billows of fire:
His will lost control; and long fettered desire
Slipped its leash. He caught Mabel Lee to his breast,
Drew her face up to his, on her frightened lips pressed
Wild caresses of passion that startled and shocked.
Like a madman he looked, like a madman he talked,
Waiting not for reply, with no pause but a kiss,
While his iron arms welded her bosom to his.
'Girl, girl, you demanded my secret,' he cried;
'Well, that bruise on your lips tells the story! I tried,
Good God, how I tried! to be silent and go
Without speaking one word, without letting you know
That I loved you; yet how could you look in my eyes
And not see love was there like the sun in the skies?
Ah, those hands on my arm-that dear head lightly pressed
On my shoulder! God, woman, the heart in my breast
Was dry powder, your touch was the spark; and the blame
Must be yours if both lives are scorched black with the flame.
Do you hate me, despise me, for being so weak?
No, no! let me kiss you again ere you speak!
You are mine for the moment; and mine-mine alone
Is the first taste of passion your soft mouth has known.
Whoever forestalls me in winning your hand,
Between you and him shall this mad moment stand-
You shall think of me, though you think only to hate.
There-speak to me-speak to me-tell me my fate;
On your words, Mabel Lee, hangs my whole future life.
I covet you, covet you, sweet, for my wife;
I want to stay here at your side. Since I first
Saw your face I have felt an unquenchable thirst
To be good-to look deep in your eyes and find God,
And to leave in the past the dark paths I have trod
In my search after pleasure. Ah, must I go back
Into folly again, to retread the old track
Which leads out into nothingness? Girl, answer me,
As souls answer at Judgment.'
The face of the sea
Shone with sudden pink splendor. The riotous wind
Swooned away with exhaustion. Each dark cloud seemed lined
With vermilion. The tempest was over. A word
Floated up like a feather; the silence was stirred
By the soul of a sigh. The last remnant of gray
In the skies turned to gold, as a voice whispered, 'Stay.'


5
V.
prologue
God grinds His poor people to powder
All day and all night I can hear,
Their cries growing louder and louder.
Oh, God, have You deadened Your ear?


The chimes in old Trinity steeple
Ring in the sweet season of prayer,
And still God is grinding His people,
He is grinding them down to despair.


Mind, body and muscle and marrow,
He grinds them again and again.
Can He who takes heed of the sparrow
Be blind to the tortures of men?


In a bare little room of a tenement row
Of the city, Maurice sat alone. It was so
(In this nearness to life's darkest phases of grief
And despair) that his own bitter woe found relief.
Joy needs no companion; but sorrow and pain
Long to comrade with sorrow. The flowery chain
Flung by Pleasure about her gay votaries breaks
With the least strain upon it. The chain sorrow makes
Links heart unto heart. As a bullock will fly
To far fields when an arrow has pierced him, to die,
So Maurice had flown over far oceans to find
No balm for his wounds, and no peace for his mind.
Cosmopolitan, always, is sorrow; at home
In all countries and lands, thriving well while we roam
In vain efforts to slay it. Toil only, brings peace
To the tempest tossed heart. What in travel Maurice
Failed to find-self-forgetfulness-came with his work
For the suffering poor in the slums of New York.
He had wandered in strange heathen countries-had been
Among barbarous hordes; but the greed and the sin
Of his own native land seemed the shame of the hour.
In his gold there was balm, in his pen there was power
To comfort the needy, to aid and defend
The unfortunate. Close in their midst, as a friend
And companion, for more than twelve months he had dwelt.
Like a ray of pure light in a cellar was felt
This strong, wholesome presence. His little room bare
Of all luxuries, taught the poor souls who flocked there
For his counsel and aid, how by mere cleanliness
The grim features of want lose some lines of distress.
The slips from the plants on his window ledge, given
To beauty starved souls, spoke more clearly of heaven
And God than did sermons or dry creedy tracts.
Maurice was no preacher; and yet his kind acts
Of mercy and self-immolation sufficed
To wake in dark minds a bright image of Christ-
The Christ often heard of, but doubted before.
Maurice spoke no word of religion. Of yore
His heart had accepted the creeds of his youth
Without pausing to cavil, or question their truth.
Faith seemed his inheritance. But, with the blow
Which slew love and killed friendship, faith, too, seemed to go.


It is easy to be optimistic in pleasure,
But when Pain stands us up by her portal to measure
The actual height of our trust and belief,
Ah! then is the time when our faith comes to grief.
The woes of our fellows, God sends them, 'tis plain;
But the devil himself is the cause of our pain.
We question the wisdom that rules o'er the world,
And our minds into chaos and darkness are hurled.


The average scoffer at faith goes about
Pouring into the ears of his fellows each doubt
Which assails him. One truth he fails wholly to heed;
That a doubt oft repeated may bore like a creed.
Maurice kept his thoughts to himself, but his pen
Was dipped in the gall of his heart now and then,
And his muse was the mouthpiece. The sin unforgiven
I hold by the Cherubim chanting in heaven
Is the sin of the poet who dares sing a strain
Which adds to the world's awful chorus of pain
And repinings. The souls whom the gods bless at birth
With the great gift of song, have been sent to the earth
To better and brighten it. Woe to the heart
Which lets its own sorrow embitter its art.
Unto him shall more sorrow be given; and life
After life filled with sorrow, till, spent with the strife,
He shall cease from rebellion, and bow to the rod
In submission, and own and acknowledge his God.


Maurice, with his unwilling muse in the gloom
Of a mood pessimistic, was shut in his room.
A whistle, a step on the stairway, a knock,
Then over the transom there fluttered a flock
Of white letters. The Muse, with a sigh of content,
Left the poet to read them, and hurriedly went
Back to pleasanter regions. Maurice glanced them through:
There were brief business epistles from two
Daily papers, soliciting work from his pen;
A woman begged money for Christ's sake; three men
Asked employment; a mother wrote only to say
How she blessed him and prayed God to bless him each day
For his kindness to her and to hers; and the last
Was a letter from Ruth. The pale ghost of the past
Rose out of its poor shallow grave, with the scent
And the mold of the clay clinging to it, and leant
O'er Maurice as he read, while its breath fanned his cheek.


'Forgive me,' wrote Ruth; 'for at last I must speak
Of the two whom you wish to forget. Well I know
How you suffered, still suffer, from fate's sudden blow,
Though I am a woman, and women must stay
And fight out pain's battles where men run away.
But my strength has its limit, my courage its end,
The time has now come when I, too, leave Bay Bend.
Maurice, let the bitterness housed in your heart
For the man you long loved as a comrade, depart,
And let pity replace it. Oh, weep for his sorrow-
From your fountain of grief, held in check, let me borrow;
I have so overdrawn on the bank of my tears
That my anguish is now refused payment. For years
You loved Mabel Lee. Well, to some hearts love speaks
His whole tale of passion in brief little weeks.
As Minerva, full grown, from the great brow of Jove
Sprang to life, so full blown from our breasts may spring Love.
Love hid like a bee in my heart's lily cup;
I knew not he was there till his sting woke me up.
Maurice, oh, Maurice! Can you fancy the woe
Of seeing the prize which you coveted so
Misused, or abused, by another? The wife
Of the man whom I worshiped is spoiling the life
That was wax in her hands, wax to shape as she chose.
You were blind to her faults, so was Roger Montrose.
Both saw but the saint; well, let saints keep their places,
And not crowd the women in life's hurried races.
As saint, Mabel Lee might succeed; but, oh brother,
She never was meant for a wife or a mother.
Her beautiful home has the desolate air
Of a house that is ruled by its servants. The care-
The thought of the woman (that sweet, subtle power
Pervading some rooms like the scent of a flower),
Which turns house into home-that is lacking. She goes
On her merciful rounds, does our Lady Montrose,
Looking after the souls of the heathen, and leaving
The poor hungry soul of her lord to its grieving.
He craves her companionship; wants her to be
At his side, more his own, than the public's. But she
Holds such love is but selfish; and thinks he should make
Some sacrifice gladly for charity's sake.
Her schools, and her clubs, and her fairs fill her time;
He wants her to travel; no, that were a crime
To go seeking for pleasure, and leave duty here.
God had given her work and her labor lay near.
A month of the theater season in town?
No, the stage is an evil that needs putting down
By good people. So, scheme as he will, the poor man
Has to finally yield every project and plan
To this sweet stubborn saint; for the husband, you see,
Stands last in her thoughts. He has come, after three
Patient years, to that knowledge; his wishes, his needs
Must always give way to her whims, or her creeds.
She knows not the primer of loving; her soul
Is engrossed with the poor petty wish to control,
And she chafes at restriction. Love loves to be bound,
And its sweetest of freedom in bondage is found.
She pulls at her fetters. One worshiping heart
And its faithful devotion play but a small part
In her life. She would rather be lauded and praised
By a crowd of inferior followers, raised
To the pitiful height of their leader, than be
One man's goddess. There, now, is the true Mabel Lee!
Grieve not that you lost her, but grieve for the one
Who with me stood last night by the corpse of his son,
And with me stood alone. Ah! how wisely and well
Could Mabel descant on Maternity! tell
Other women the way to train children to be
An honor and pride to their parents! Yet she,
From the first, left her child to the nurses. She found
'Twas a tax on her nerves to have baby around
When it worried and cried. The nurse knew what to do,
And a block down the street lived Mama! 'twixt the two
Little Roger would surely be cared for. She must
Keep her strength and be worthy the love and the trust
Of the poor, who were yearly increasing, and not
Bestow on her own all the care and the thought-
That were selfishness, surely.
Well, the babe grew apace,
But yesterday morning a flush on its face
And a look in its eye worried Roger. The mother
Was due at some sort of convention or other
In Boston-I think 'twas a grand federation
Of clubs formed by women to rescue the Nation
From man's awful clutches; and Mabel was made
The head delegate of the Bay Bend Brigade.
Once drop in a small, selfish nature the seed
Of ambition for place, and it grows like a weed.
The fair village angel we called Mabel Lee,
As Mrs. Montrose, has developed, you see,
To a full fledged Reformer. It quite turned her head
To be sent to the city of beans and brown bread
As a delegate! (Delegate! magical word!
The heart of the queer modern woman is stirred
Far more by its sound than by aught she may hear
In the phrases poor Cupid pours into her ear.)
Mabel chirped to the baby a dozen good-byes,
And laughed at the trouble in Roger's grave eyes,
As she leaned o'er the lace ruffled crib of her son
And talked baby-talk: 'Now be good, 'ittle one,
While Mama is away, and don't draw a long breath,
Unless 'oo would worry Papa half to death.
And don't cough, and, of all things, don't sneeze, 'ittle dear,
Or Papa will be thrown into spasms of fear.
Now, good-bye, once again, 'ittle man; mother knows
There is no other baby like Roger Montrose
In the whole world to-day.'
So she left him. That night
The nurse sent a messenger speeding in fright
For the Doctor; a second for Grandmama Lee
And Roger despatched still another for me.
All in vain! through the gray chilly paths of the dawn
The soul of the beautiful baby passed on
Into Mother-filled lands.
Ah! my God, the despair
Of seeing that agonized sufferer there;
To stand by his side, yet denied the relief
Of sharing, as wife, and as mother, his grief.
Enough! I have borne all I can bear. The role
Of friend to a lover pulls hard on the soul
Of a sensitive woman. The three words in life
Which have meaning to me are home, mother and wife-
Or, rather, wife, mother and home. Once I thought
Men cared for the women who found home the spot
Next to heaven for happiness; women who knew
No ambition beyond being loyal and true,
And who loved all the tasks of the housewife. I learn,
Instead, that from women of that kind men turn,
With a yawn, unto those who are useless; who live
For the poor hollow world and for what it can give,
And who make home the spot where, when other joys cease,
One sleeps late when one wishes.
You left me Maurice
Left the home I have kept since our dear Mother died,
With such sisterly love and such housewifely pride,
And you wandered afar, and for what cause, forsooth?
Oh! because a vain, self-loving woman, in truth,
Had been faithless. The man whom I worshiped, ignored
The love and the comfort my woman's heart stored
In its depths for his taking, and sought Mabel Lee.
Well, I'm done with the role of the housewife. I see
There is nothing in being domestic. The part
Is unpicturesque, and at war with all art.
The senile old Century leers with dim eyes
At our sex and demands that we shock or surprise
His thin blood into motion. The home's not the place
To bring a pleased smile to his wicked old face.
To the mandate I bow; since all strive for that end,
I must join the great throng! I am leaving Bay Bend
This day week. I will see you in town as I pass
To the college at C--, where I enter the class
Of medical students-I fancy you will
Like to see my name thus-Dr. Ruth Somerville.'


Maurice dropped the long, closely written epistle,
Stared hard at the wall, and gave vent to a whistle.
A Doctor! his sweet, little home-loving sister.
A Doctor! one might as well prefix a Mister
To Ruth Somerville, that most feminine name.
And then in the wake of astonishment came
Keen pity for all she had suffered. 'Poor Ruth,
She writes like an agonized woman, in truth,
And like one torn with jealousy. Ah, I can see,'
He mused, 'how the pure soul of sweet Mabel Lee
Revolts at the bondage and shrinks from the ban
That lies in the love of that sensual man.
He is of the earth, earthy. He loves but her beauty,
He cares not for conscience, or honor or duty.
Like a moth she was dazzled and lured by the flame
Of a light she thought love, till she learned its true name;
When she found it mere passion, it lost all its charms.
No wonder she flies from his fettering arms!
God pity you, Mabel! poor ill mated wife;
But my love, like a planet, shall watch o'er your life,
Though all other light from your skies disappear,
Like a sun in the darkness my love shall appear.
Unselfish and silent, it asks no return,
But while the great firmament lasts it shall burn.'


Muse, muse, awake, and sing thy loneliest strain,
Song, song, be sad with sorrow's deepest pain,
Heart, heart, bow down and never bound again,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


Night, night, draw close thy filmy mourning veil,
Moon, moon, conceal thy beauty sweet and pale,
Wind, wind, sigh out thy most pathetic wail,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.
Time, time, speed by, thou art too slow, too slow,
Grief, grief, pass on, and take thy cup of woe,
Life, life, be kind, ah! do not wound her so,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


Sleep, sleep, dare not to touch mine aching eyes,
Love, love, watch on, though fate thy wish denies,
Heart, heart, sigh on, since she, my Lady, sighs,
My Lady grieves, she grieves.


6
VI.
prologue
The flower breathes low to the bee,
'Behold, I am ripe with bloom.
Let Love have his way with me,
Ere I fall unwed in my tomb.'


The rooted plant sighs in distress
To the winds by the garden walk
'Oh, waft me my lover's caress,
Or I shrivel and die on my stalk.'


The whippoorwill utters her love
In a passionate 'Come, oh come,'
To the male in the depths of the grove,
But the heart of a woman is dumb.


The lioness seeks her mate,
The she-tiger calls her own-
Who made it a woman's fate
To sit in the silence alone?


Wooed, wedded and widowed ere twenty. The life
Of Zoe Travers is told in that sentence. A wife
For one year, loved and loving; so full of life's joy
That death, growing jealous, resolved to destroy
The Eden she dwelt in. Five desolate years
She walked robed in weeds, and bathed ever in tears,
Through the valley of memory. Locked in love's tomb
Lay youth in its glory and hope in its bloom.
At times she was filled with religious devotion,
Again crushed to earth with rebellious emotion
And unresigned sorrow.
Ah, wild was her grief!
And the years seemed to bring her no balm of relief.
When a heart from its sorrow time cannot estrange,
God sends it another to alter and change
The current of feeling. Zoe's mother, her one
Tie to earth, became ill. When the doctors had done
All the harm which they dared do with powder and pill,
They ordered a trial of Dame Nature's skill.
Dear Nature! what grief in her bosom must stir
When she sees us turn everywhere save unto her
For the health she holds always in keeping; and sees
Us at last, when too late, creeping back to her knees,
Begging that she at first could have given!
'Twas so
Mother Nature's heart grieved o'er the mother of Zoe,
Who came but to die on her bosom. She died
Where the mocking bird poured out its passionate tide
Of lush music; and all through the dark days of pain
That succeeded, and over and through the refrain
Of her sorrow, Zoe heard that wild song evermore.
It seemed like a blow which pushed open a door
In her heart. Something strange, sweet and terrible stirred
In her nature, aroused by the song of that bird.
It rang like a voice from the future; a call
That came not from the past; yet the past held her all.
To the past she had plighted her vows; in the past
Lay her one dream of happiness, first, only, last.
Alone in the world now, she felt the unrest
Of an unanchored boat on the wild billow's breast.
Two homes had been shattered; the West held but tombs.
She drifted again where the magnolia blooms
And the mocking bird sings. Oh! that song, that wild strain,
Whose echoes still haunted her heart and her brain!
How she listened to hear it repeated! It came
Through the dawn to her heart, and the sound was like flame.
It chased all the shadows of night from her room,
And burst the closed bud of the day into bloom.
It leaped to the heavens, it sank to the earth
It gave life new rapture and love a new birth.
It ran through her veins like a fiery stream,
And the past and its sorrow-was only a dream.


The call of a bird in the spring for its lover
Is the voice of all Nature when winter is over.
The heart of the woman re-echoed the strain,
And its meaning, at last, to her senses was plain.


Grief's winter was over, the snows from her heart
Were melted; hope's blossoms were ready to start.
The spring had returned with its siren delights,
And her youth and emotions asserted their rights.
Then memory struggled with passion. The dead
Seemed to rise from the grave and accuse her. She fled
From her thoughts as from lepers; returned to old ways,
And strove to keep occupied, filling her days
With devotional duties. But when the night came
She heard through her slumber that song like a flame,
And her dreams were sweet torture. She sought all too soon
To chill the warm sun of her youth's ardent noon
With the shadows of premature evening. Her mind
Lacked direction and purpose. She tried in a blind,
Groping fashion to follow an early ideal
Of love and of constancy, starving the real
Affectional nature God gave her. She prayed
For God's help in unmaking the woman He made,
As if He repented the thing He had done.
With the soul of a Sappho, she lived like a nun,
Hid her thoughts from all women, from men kept apart,
And carefully guarded the book of her heart
From the world's prying eyes. Yet men read through the cover,
And knew that the story was food for a lover.
(The dullest of men seemed possessed of the art
To read what the passions inscribe on the heart.
Though written in cipher and sealed from the sight,
Yet masculine eyes will interpret aright.)
Worn out with the unceasing conflict at last,
Zoe fled from herself and her sorrowful past,
And turned to new scenes for diversion from thought.


New York! oh, what magic encircles that spot
In the feminine mind of the West! There, it seems,
Waits the realization of beautiful dreams.
There the waters of Lethe unceasingly roll,
With blessed forgetfulness free to each soul,
While the doorways that lead to success open wide,
With Fame in the distance to beckon and guide.
Mirth lurks in each byway, and Folly herself
Wears the look of a semi-respectable elf,
And is to be courted and trusted when met,
For she teaches one how to be gay and forget,
And to start new account books with life.
It was so,
Since she first heard the name of the city, that Zoe
Dreamed of life in New York. It was thither she turned
To smother the heart that with restlessness burned,
And to quiet and calm an unsatisfied mind.
Her plans were but outlines, crude, vague, undefined,
Of distraction and pleasure. A snug little home,
With seclusion and comfort; full freedom to roam
Where her fancy and income permitted; new faces,
New scenes, new environments, far from the places
Where brief joy and long sorrow had dwelt with her; free
From the curious eyes that seemed ever to be
Bent upon her. She passed like a ship from the port,
Without chart or compass; the plaything and sport
Of the billows of Fate.


The parks were all gay
And busy with costuming duties of May
When Zoe reached New York. The rain and the breeze
Had freshened the gowns of the Northern pine trees
Till they looked bright as new; all the willows were seen
In soft dainty garments of exquisite green.
Young buds swelled with life, and reached out to invite
And to hold the warm gaze of the wandering light.
The turf exhaled fragrance; among the green boughs
The unabashed city birds plighted their vows,
Or happy young house hunters chirped of the best
And most suitable nook to establish a nest.
There was love in the sunshine, and love in the air;
Youth, hope, home, companionship, spring, everywhere.
There was youth, there was spring in her blood; yet she only,
In all the great city, seemed loveless and lonely.


The trim little flat, facing north on the park,
Was not homelike; the rooms seemed too sombre and dark
To her eyes, sun-accustomed; the neighbors too near
And too noisy. The medley of sounds hurt her ear.
Sudden laughter; the cry of an infant; the splash
Of a tenant below in his bath-tub; the crash
Of strong hands on a keyboard above, and the light,
Merry voice of the lady who lived opposite,
The air intertwined in a tangled sound ball,
And flung straight at her ear through the court and the hall.


Ah, what loneliness dwelt in the rush and the stir
Of the great pushing throngs that were nothing to her,
And to whom she was nothing! Her heart, on its quest
For distraction, seemed eating itself in her breast.
She longed for a comrade, a friend. In the church
Which she frequented no one abetted her search,
For the faces of people she met in its aisle
Gazed calmly beyond her, without glance or smile.
The look in their eyes, when translated, read thus,
'We worship God here, what are people to us?'
In some masculine eyes she read more, it is true.
What she read made her gaze at the floor of her pew.


The blithe little blonde who lived over the hall,
In the opposite rooms, was the first one to call
Or to show friendly feeling. She seemed sweet and kind,
But her infantile face hid a mercantile mind.
Her voice had the timbre of metal. Each word
Clinked each word like small change in a purse; and you heard,
In the rustling silk of her skirts, just a hint
Of new bills freshly printed and right from the mint.
There was that in her airs and her chatter which made
Zoe question and ponder, and turn half afraid
From her proffers of friendship. When one July day
The fair neighbor called for a moment to say,
'I am off to Long Branch for the summer, good-bye,'
Zoe seemed to breathe freer-she scarcely knew why,
But she reasoned it out as alone in the gloom
Of the soft summer evening she sat in her room.
'The woman is happy,' she said; 'at the least,
Her heart is not starving in life's ample feast.
She lives while she lives, but I only exist,
And Fate laughs in my face for the things I resist.'


New York in the midsummer seems like the gay
Upper servant who rules with the mistress away.
She entertains friends from all parts of the earth;
Her streets are alive with a fictitious mirth.
She flaunts her best clothes with a devil-may-care
Sort of look, and her parks wear a riotous air.
There is something unwholesome about her at dusk;
Her trees, and her gardens, seem scented with musk;
And you feel she has locked up the door of the house
And, half drunk with the heat, wanders forth to carouse,
With virtue, ambition and industry all
Packed off (moth-protected) with garments for Fall.


Zoe felt out of step with the town. In the song
Which it sang, where each note was a soul of the throng,
She seemed the one discord. Books gave no distraction.
She cared not for study, her heart longed for action,
For pleasure, excitement. Wild impulses, new
To her mind, came like demons and urged her to do
All sorts of mad things. Mischief breathed through the air.
One could do as one liked in New York-who would care-
Who would know save the God who had left her alone
In his world, unprotected, unloved? From her own
Restless mind and sick heart she attempted once more
To escape. One reads much of gay life at the shore-
Narragansett, she fancied, would suit her. The sea
Would at least prove a friend; and, perchance, there might be
Some heart, like her own, seeking comradeship there.
The days brought no friend. But the moist, salty air
Was a stimulant, giving existence new charms.
The sea was a lover who opened his arms
Every day to embrace her. And life in this place
Held something of pleasure, and sweetness and grace,
Though the eyes of the men were too ardent and bold,
And the eyes of the women suspicious and cold,
She yet had the sea-the sea, strong and mighty,
Both father and mother of fair Aphrodite.


7
VII.
Mabel grieved for her child with a sorrow sincere,
But she bowed to the will of her Maker. No tear
Came to soften the hard, stony look in the eye
Of her husband; she heard no complaint and no sigh
From his lips, but he turned with impatience whenever
She spoke of religion, or made one endeavor
To lead his thoughts up from the newly turned sod
Where the little form slept, to its spirit with God.


Long hours by that grave, Roger passed, and alone.
The woes of her neighbors his wife made her own,
But her husband she pointed to Christ; and in grief
Prayed for light to be cast on his dark unbelief.


She flung herself into good works more and more,
And saw not that the look which her husband's face wore
Was the look of a man starved for love. In the mold
Of a nun she was fashioned, chaste, passionless, cold.
(Such women sin more when they take marriage ties
Than the love-maddened creature who lawlessly lies
In the arms of the man whom she worships. The child
Not conceived in true love leaves the mother defiled.
Though an army of clergymen sanction her vows,
God sees 'illegitimate' stamped on the brows
Of her offspring. Love only can legalize birth
In His eyes-all the rest is but spawn of the earth.)


Mabel Lee, as the maid, had been flattered and pleased
By the passion of Roger; his wild wooing teased
That inquisitive sense, half a fault, half a merit,
Which the daughters of Eve, to a woman, inherit.
His love fanned her love for herself to a glow;
She was stirred by the thought she could stir a man so.
That was all. She had nothing to give in return.
One can't light a fire with no fuel to burn;
And the love Roger dreamed he could rouse in her soul
Was not there to be wakened. He stood at his goal
As the Arctic explorer may finally stand,
To see all about him an ice prisoned land,
White, beautiful, useless.
Some women are chaste,
Like the snows which envelop the bleak and waste
Of the desert; once melted, alas! what remains
But the poor, unproductive, dry soil of the plains?
The flora of Cupid will never be found,
However he toil there, to thrive in such ground.


Mabel Montrose was held in the highest esteem
By her neighbors; I think neighbors everywhere deem
Such women to be all that's noble. They sighed
When they spoke of her husband; they told how she tried
To convert him, and how they had thought for a season
His mind was bent Christ-ward; and then, with no reason,
He seemed to drift back to the world, and grew jealous
Of Mabel, and thought her too faithful and zealous
In duty to others.
The death of his child
Only hardened his heart against God. He grew wild,
Took to drink; spent a week at a time in the city,
Neglecting his saint of a wife-such a pity.
It was true. Our friends keep a sharp eye on our deeds
But the fine interlining of causes-who heeds?
The long list of heartaches which lead to rash acts
Would bring pity, not blame, if the world knew the facts.


There are women so terribly free from all evil,
They discourage a man, and he goes to the devil.
There are people whose virtues result in appalling,
And they prove a great aid to his majesty's calling.


Roger's wife rendered goodness so dreary and cold,
His tendril-like will lost its poor little hold
On the new better life he was longing to reach,
And slipped back to the dust. Oh! to love, not to preach.
Is a woman's true method of helping mankind.
The sinner is won through his heart, not his mind.
As the sun loves the seed up to life through the sod,
So the patience of love brings a soul to its God.
But when love is lacking, the devil is sure
To stand in the pathway with some sort of lure.
Roger turned to the world for distraction. The world
Smiled a welcome, and then like an octopus curled
All its tentacles 'round him, and dragged him away
Into deep, troubled waters.


One late summer day
He awoke with a headache, which will not surprise,
When you know that his bedtime had been at sunrise,
And that gay Narraganset, the world renowned 'Pier,'
Was the scene. Through the lace curtained window the clear
Yellow rays of the hot August sun touched his bed
And proclaimed it was mid-day. He rose, and his head
Seemed as large and as light as an air filled balloon
While his limbs were like lead.
In the glare of the noon,
The follies of night show their makeup, and seem
Like hideous monsters evoked by some dream.


The sea called to Roger: 'Come, lie on my breast
And forget the dull world. My unrest shall give rest
To your turbulent feelings; the dregs of the wine
On your lips shall be lost in the salt touch of mine.
Come away, come away. Ah! the jubilant mirth
Of the sea is not known by the stupid old earth.'


The beach swarmed with bathers-to be more exact,
Swarmed with people in costumes of bathers. In fact,
Many beautiful women bathed but in the light
Of men's eyes; and their costumes were made for the sight,
Not the sea. From the sea's lusty outreaching arms
They escaped with shrill shrieks, while the men viewed their charms
And made mental notes of them. Yet, at this hour,
The waves, too, were swelling sea meadows, a-flower
With faces of swimmers. All dressed for his bath,
Roger paused in confusion, because in his path
Surged a crowd of the curious; all eyes were bent
On the form of a woman who leisurely went
From her bathing house down to the beach. 'There she goes,'
Roger heard a dame cry, as she stepped on his toes
With her whole ample weight. 'What, the one with red hair?
Why, she isn't as pretty as Maude, I declare.'
A man passing by with his comrade, cried: 'Ned,
Look! there is La Travers, the one with the red
Braid of hair to her knees. She's a mystery here,
And at present the topic of talk at the Pier.'
Roger followed their glances in time to behold
For a second a head crowned with braids of bright gold,
And a form like a Venus, all costumed in white.
Then she plunged through a billow and vanished from sight.


It was half an hour afterward, possibly more,
As Roger swam farther and farther from shore,
With new life in his limbs and new force in his brain,
That he heard, just behind him, a sharp cry of pain.
Ten strokes in the rear on the crest of a wave
Shone a woman's white face. 'Keep your courage; be brave;
I am coming,' he shouted. 'Turn over and float.'
His strong shoulder plunged like the prow of a boat
Through the billows. Six overhand strokes brought him close
To the woman, who lay like a wilted white rose
On the waves. 'Now, be careful,' he cried; 'lay your hand
Well up on my shoulder; my arms, understand,
Must be free; do not touch them-please follow my wishes,
Unless you are anxious to fatten the fishes.'
The woman obeyed him. 'You need not fear me,'
She replied, 'I am wholly at home in the sea.
I knew all the arts of the swimmer, I thought,
But confess I was frightened when suddenly caught
With a cramp in my knee at this distance from shore.'
With slow even breast strokes the strong swimmer bore
His fair burden landward. She lay on the billows
As lightly as if she were resting on pillows
Of down. She relinquished herself to the sea
And the man, and was saved; though God knows both can be
False and fickle enough; yet resistance or strife,
On occasions like this, means the forfeit of life.
The throng of the bathers had scattered before
Roger carried his burden safe into the shore
And saw her emerge from the water, a place
Where most women lose every vestige of grace
Or of charm. But this mermaid seemed fairer than when
She had challenged the glances of women and men
As she went to her bath. Now her clinging silk suit
Revealed every line, from the throat to the foot,
Of her beautiful form. Her arms, in their splendor,
Gleamed white like wet marble. The round waist was slender,
And yet not too small. From the twin perfect crests
And the virginlike grace of her beautiful breasts
To the exquisite limbs and the curve of her thigh,
And the arch of her proud little instep, the eye
Drank in beauty. Her face was not beautiful; yet
The gaze lingered on it, for Eros had set
His seal on her features. The mouth full and weak,
The blue shadow drooping from eyelid to cheek
Like a stain of crushed grapes, and the pale, ardent skin,
All spoke of volcanic emotions within.
By her tip tilted nose and low brow, it was plain
To read how her impulses ruled o'er her brain.
She had given the chief role of life to her heart,
And her intellect played but a small minor part.
Her eyes were the color the sunlight reveals
When it pierces the soft, furry coat of young seals.
The thickly fringed lids seemed unwilling to rise,
But drooped, half concealing them; wonderful eyes,
Full of secrets and bodings of sorrow. As coarse
And as thick as the mane of a finely groomed horse
Was her bright mass of hair. The sea, with rough hands,
Had made free with the braids, and unloosened the strands
Till they hung in great clusters of curls to her knees.
Her voice, when she spoke, held the breadth and the breeze
Of the West in its tones; and the use of the R
Made the listener certain her home had been far
From New England. Long after she vanished from view
The eye and the ear seemed to sense her anew.
There was that in her voice and her presence which hung
In the air like a strain of a song which is sung
By a singer, and then sings itself the whole day,
And will not be silenced.
As birds flock away
From meadow to tree branch, now there and now here,
So, from beach to Casino, each day at the Pier
Flock the gay pleasure seekers. The balconies glow
With beauty and color. The belle and the beau
Promenade in the sunlight, or sit tete-a-tete,
While the chaperons gossip together. Bands play,
Glasses clink; and 'neath sheltering lace parasols
There are plans made for meeting at drives or at balls.


Roger sat at a table alone, with his glass
Of mint julep before him, and watched the crowd pass.
There were all sorts of people from all sorts of places.
He thought he liked best the fair Baltimore faces.
The South was the land of fair women, he mused,
Because they were indolent. Women who used
Mind or body too freely. Changed curves into angles,
For beauty forever with intellect wrangles.
The trend of the fair sex to-day must alarm
Every lover of feminine beauty and charm.


As he mused Roger watched with a keen interest
For a sight of his Undine. 'All coiffured and drest,
With her wonderful body concealed, and her hair
Knotted up, well, I doubt if she seem even fair,'
He soliloquized. 'Ah!' the word burst from his lips,
For he saw her approaching. She walked from the hips
With an undulous motion. As graceful and free
From all effort as waves swinging in from the sea
Were her movements. Her full molded figure seemed slight
In its close fitting gown of black cloth; and the white
Of her cheek seemed still whiter by contrast. Her clothes
Were tasteful and quiet; yet Roger Montrose
Knew in some subtle manner he could not express
('Tis an instinct men have in the matters of dress)
That they never were made in New York. By her hat
One can oft read a woman's whole character. That
Which our fair Undine wore was a thing of rich lace,
Flowers and ribbons like others one saw in the place,
Yet the width of the brim, or the twist of its bows,
Or the way it was worn made it different from those.
As it drooped o'er the eyes full of mystery there,
It seemed, all at once, both a menace and dare;
A menace to women, a dare to the men.
She bowed as she passed Roger's table; and then
Took a chair opposite, spread her shade of red silk,
Called a waiter and ordered a cup of hot milk,
Which she leisurely sipped. She seemed unaware
Of the curious eyes she attracted. Her air
Was of one quite at home, and entirely at ease
With herself, the sole person she studied to please.
She had been for three weeks at the Pier, and alone,
Without maid or escort, and nothing was known
Of her there, save the name which the register bore,
'Mrs. Travers, New York.' Men were mad to learn more
But the women were distant. One can't, at such places,
Accept as credentials good figures or faces.
There was an unnameable something about
Mrs. Travers which filled other women with doubt
And all men with interest. Roger, blasé,
Disillusioned with life as he was, felt the sway
Of her strong personality, there as she sat
Looking out 'neath the rim of her coquettish hat
With dark eyes on the sea. Few people had power
To draw his gray thoughts from himself for an hour
As this woman had done; she was food for his mind,
And he sought by his inner perceptions to find
In what class she belonged. 'An adventuress? No,
Though I fancy three-fourths of the women think so
And one-half of the men; but that role leaves a trace,
An expression, I fail to detect in her face.
Her past is not shadowed; my judgment would say
That her sins lie before her, and not far away.
She's a puzzle, I think, to herself; and grim Fate
Will aid her in solving the riddle too late.
Her soul dreams of happiness; but in her eyes
The sensuous foe to all happiness lies.
As the rain is drawn up by some moods of the sun,
Some natures draw trouble from life; her's is one.'


She rose and passed by him again, and her gown
Brushed his knee. A light tremor went shivering down
His whole body. She left on the air as she went
A subtle suggestion of perfume; the scent
Which steals out of some fans, or old laces, and seems
Full of soft fragrant fancies and languorous dreams.
She haunted the mind, though she passed from the sight.
When Roger Montrose sought his pillow that night,
'Twas to dream of La Travers. He thought she became
A burning red rose, with each leaf like a flame.
He stooped down and plucked it, and woke with a start,
As it turned to an adder and struck at his heart.


The dream left its impress, as certain dreams should,
For, as warnings of evil, precursors of good,
They are sent to our souls o'er a mystical line,
Night messages, couched in a cipher divine.


Roger knew much of life, much of women, and knew
Even more of himself and his weaknesses. Few
Of us mortals look inward; our gaze is turned out
To watch what the rest of the world is about,
While the rest of the world watches us.
Roger's reason
And logic were clear. But his will played him treason.
If you looked at his hand, you would see it. Hands speak
More than faces. His thumb (the first phalanx) was weak,
Undeveloped; the second, firm jointed and long,
Which showed that the reasoning powers were strong,
But the will, from disuse, had grown feeble.
That morning
He looked on his dream in the light of a warning
And made sudden plans for departure. 'To go
Is to fly from some folly,' he said, 'for I know
What salt air and dry wine, and the soft siren eyes
Of a woman, can do under midsummer skies
With a man who is wretched as I am. Unrest
Is a tramp, who goes picking the locks on one's breast
That a whole gang of vices may enter. A thirst
For strong drink and chance games, those twin comrades accursed,
Are already admitted. Oh Mabel, my wife,
Reach, reach out your arms, draw me into the life
That alone is worth living. I need you to-day,
Have pity, and love me, oh love me, I pray.
I will turn once again from the bad world to you.
Though false to myself, to my vows I am true.'


When a soul strives to pull itself up out of sin
The devil tries harder to push it back in.
And the man who attempts to retrace the wrong track
Needs his God and his will to stand close at his back.


Through what are called accidents, Roger was late
At the train. Are not accidents servants of Fate?
The first coach was filled; he passed on to the second.
That, too, seemed complete, but a gentleman beckoned
And said, 'There's a seat, sir; the third from the last
On your left.' Roger thanked him and leisurely passed
Down the aisle, with his coat on his arm, to the place
Indicated. The seat held a lady, whose face
Was turned to the window. 'Pray pardon me, miss'
(For he judged by her back she was youthful), 'is this
Seat engaged?' As he spoke, the face turned in surprise,
And Roger looked into the long, languid eyes
Of La Travers. She smiled, moved her wraps from the seat,
And he sat down beside her. The same subtle, sweet
Breath of perfume exhaled from her presence, and made
The place seem a boudoir. The deep winey shade
'Neath her eyes had grown larger, as if she had wept
Or a late, lonely vigil with memory kept.


A man who has rescued a woman from danger
Or death, does not seem to her wholly a stranger
When next she encounters him; yet both essayed
To be formal and proper; and each of them made
The effort a failure. The jar of a train
At times holds a mesmeric spell for the brain
And a tense excitation for nerves; and the shriek
Of the engine compels one to lean near to speak
Or to list to his neighbor. Formality flies
With the smoke of the train and floats off to the skies.
Roger led his companion to talk; and the theme
Which he chose, was herself, her life story. The dream
Of the previous night was forgotten. The charm
Of the woman outweighed superstitious alarm.


When the sunlight began to play peek-a-boo
Through the tunnels, which told them the journey was through,
Roger looked at his time-piece; the train for Bay Bend
Left in just twenty minutes; but what a rude end
To the day's pleasant comradeship-rushing away
With a hurried good-bye! He decided to stay
Over night in the city. He was not expected
At home. Mrs. Travers was quite unprotected,
And almost a stranger in Gotham. He ought
To see her safe into her doorway, he thought.
At the doorway she gave him her hand, with a smile;
'I have known you,' she said, 'such a brief little while,
Yet you seem like a friend of long standing; I say
Good-bye with reluctance.'
'Perhaps, then, I may
Call and see you to-morrow?' the words seemed to fall
Of themselves from his lips; words he longed to recall
When once uttered, for deep in his conscience he knew
That the one word for him to speak now, was adieu.
The lady's soft, cushion-like hand rested still
In his own, and the contact was pleasant. A thrill
From the finger tips quickened his pulses.
'You may
Call to-morrow at four.' The soft hand slipped away
And left his palm lonely.
'The call must be brief,'
He said to himself, with a sense of relief,
As he ran down the steps, 'for at five my train goes.'
Yet the five o'clock train bore no Roger Montrose
From New York. Mrs. Travers had asked him to dine.
A tete-a-tete dinner with beauty and wine,
To stir the man's senses and deaden his brain.
(The devil keeps always good chefs in his train.)
It was ten when he rose for departure. The room
Seemed a garden of midsummer fragrance and bloom.
The lights with their soft rosy coverings made
A glow like late sunsets, in some tropic glade.
The world seemed afar, with its dullness and duty,
And life was a rapture of love and of beauty.


God knows how it happened; they never knew how.
He turned with a formal conventional bow,
And some well chosen words of politeness, to go.
Her mouth was a rose Love had dropped in the snow
Of her face. It smiled up to him, luscious and sweet.
In the tip of each finger he felt his heart beat,
Like five hearts all in one, as her hand touched his own.
She murmured 'good-night,' in a tremulous tone.
White, intense, through the soft golden mist which the wine
Had cast over his vision, he saw her face shine.
Her low lidded eyes held a lion-like glow.
You have seen sudden storms lash the ocean? You know
How the cyclone, unheralded, rises in wrath,
And leaves devastation and death in its path?
So swift, sudden passion may rise in its power,
And ruin and blight a whole life in an hour.
Two unanchored souls in its maelstrom were whirled,
Drawn down by love's undertow, lost to the world.
The dark, solemn billows of night shut them in.
Like corpses afloat on the ocean of sin
They must seem to their true, better selves, when again
The tide drifts them back to the notice of men.


8
VIII.
prologue
Forget me, dear; forget and cease to love me,
I am not worth one memory, kind or true,
Let silent, pale Oblivion spread above me
Her winding sheet, for I am dead to you.
Forget, forget.


Sin has resumed its interrupted story;
I am enslaved, who dreamed of being free.
Say for my soul, in life's dark purgatory,
One little prayer, then cease to think of me.
Forget, forget.


I ask you not to pity or to pardon;
I ask you to forget me. Tear my name
From out your heart; the wound will heal and harden.
Death does not dig so deep a grave as shame.
Forget, forget.


Roger's Letter to Mabel.
Farewell! I shall never again seek your side;
I will stay with my sins and leave you with your pride.
Let the swift flame of scorn dry the tears of regret,
Shut me out of your life, lock the door and forget.
I shall pass from your skies as a vagabond star
Passes out of the great solar system afar
Into blackness and gloom; while the heavens smile on,
Scarce knowing the poor erring creature is gone.
Say a prayer for the soul sunk in sinning; I die
To you, and to all who have known me. Good-bye.


Mabel's Letter to Maurice.
I break through the silence of years, my old friend,
To beg for a favor; oh, grant it! I send
Roger's letter in confidence to you, and ask,
In the name of our sweet early friendship, a task,
Which, however painful, I pray you perform.
Poor Roger! his bark is adrift in the storm.
He has veered from the course; with no compass of faith
To point to the harbor, he goes to his death.
You are giving your talents and time, I am told,
To aiding the poor; let this victim of gold
Be included. His life has not learned self-control,
And luxury stunted the growth of his soul.
In blindness of spirit he took the wrong track,
But he sees his great error and longs to come back.
Oh, help me to reach him and save him, Maurice.
My heart yearns to show him the infinite peace
Found but in God's love. Let us pity, forgive
And help him, dear friend, to seek Christ and to live
In the light of His mercy. I know you will do
What I ask, you were ever so loyal and true.


Maurice to Mabel.
Though bitter the task (why, your heart must well know),
Your wish shall be ever my pleasure. I go
On the search for the prodigal. Not for his sake,
But because you have asked me, I willingly make
This effort to find him. Sometimes, I contend,
It is kinder to let a soul speed to the end
Of its swift downward course than to check it to-day,
But to see it to-morrow pursue the same way.
The man who could wantonly stray from your side
Into folly and sin has abandoned all pride.
There is little to hope from him. Yet, since his name
Is the name you now bear, I will save him from shame,
God permitting. To serve and obey you is still
Held an honor, Madame, by Maurice Somerville.


Maurice to Mabel Ten Days Later.
The search for your husband is finished. Oh, pray
Tear all love and all hope from your heart ere I say
What I must say. The man has insulted your trust;
He has dragged the most sacred of ties in the dust,
And ruined the fame of a woman who wore,
Until now, a good name. He has gone. Close the door
Of your heart in his face if he seeks to come back.
The sleuth hounds of justice were put on his track,
And his life since he left you lies bare to my gaze.
He sailed yesterday on the 'Paris.' For days
Preceding the journey he lived as the guest
Of one Mrs. Zoe Travers, who comes from the West!
A widow, young, fair, well-connected. I hear
He followed her back to New York from the Pier,
And now he has taken the woman abroad.
My letter sounds brutal and harsh. Would to God
I might soften the facts in some measure; but no,
In matters like this the one thing is to know
The whole truth, and at once. Though the pain be intense
It pulls less on the soul than the pangs of suspense.
Like a surgeon of fate, with my pen for a knife,
I cut out false hopes which endanger your life.
Let the law, like a nurse, cleanse the wound-there is shame
And disgrace for you now in the man's very name.
Though justice is blindfolded, yet she can hear
When the chink of gold dollars sounds close in her ear.
One needs but to give her this musical hint
To save you the sight of your sorrows in print.
Closed doors, private hearing; a sentence or two
In the journals; then dignified freedom for you.
When love, truth and loyalty vanish, the tie
Which binds man to woman is only a lie.
Undo it! remember at all times I stand
As a friend to rely on-a serf to command.


Some women there are who would willingly barter
A queen's diadem for the crown of a martyr.
They want to be pitied, not envied. To know
That the world feels compassion makes joy of their woe;
And the keenest delight in their misery lies,
If only their friends will look on with wet eyes.


In fact, 'tis the prevalent weakness, I find,
Of the sex. As a mass, women seem disinclined
To be thought of as happy; they like you to feel
That their bright smiling faces are masks which conceal
A dead hope in their hearts. The strange fancy clings
To the mind of the world that the rarest of things-
Contentment-is commonplace; and, that to shine
As something superior, one must repine,
Or seem to be hiding an ache in the breast.
Yet the commonest thing in the world is unrest,
If you want to be really unique, go along
And act as if Fate had not done you a wrong,
And declare you have had your deserts in this life.


The part of the patient, neglected young wife
Contained its attractions for Mabel Montrose.
She was one of the women who live but to pose
In the eyes of their friends; and she so loved her art
That she really believed she was living the part.
The suffering martyr who makes no complaint
Was a role more important, by far, than the saint
Or reformer. As first leading lady in grief,
Her pride in herself found a certain relief.


The ardent and love-selfish husband had not
Been so dear to her heart, or so close to her thought,
As this weak, reckless sinner, who woke in her soul
Its dominant wish-to reform and control.


(How often, alas, the reformers of earth,
If they studied their purpose, would find it had birth
In this thirst to control; in the poor human passion
The minds and the manners of others to fashion!


We sigh o'er the heathen, we weep o'er his woes,
While forcing him into our creeds and our clothes.
If he adds our diseases and vices as well,
Still, at least we have guided him into our hell
And away from his own heathen hades. The pleasure
Derived from that thought but reformers can measure.)


The thing Mabel Montrose loved best on this earth
Was a sinner, and Roger but doubled his worth
In her eyes when he wrote her that letter. And still
When the last message came from Maurice Somerville
And the bald, ugly facts, unsuspected, unguessed,
Lay before her, the woman awoke in her breast,
And the patient reformer gave way to the wife,
Who was torn with resentment and jealousy's strife.
Ah, jealousy! vain is the effort to prove
Your right in the world as the offspring of love;
For oftener far, you are spawned by a heart
Where Cupid has never implanted a dart.
Love knows you, indeed, for you serve in his train,
But crowned like a monarch you royally reign
Over souls wherein love is a stranger.
No thought
Came to Mabel Montrose that her own life was not
Free from blame. (How few women, indeed, think of this
When they grieve o'er the ruin of marital bliss!)
She was shocked and indignant. Pain gave her a new
Role to play without study; she missed in her cue
And played badly at first, was resentful and cried
Against Fate for the blow it had dealt to her pride
(Though she called it her love), and declared her life blighted.
It is one thing, of course, for a wife to be slighted
For the average folly the world calls a sin,
Such as races, clubs, games; when a woman steps in
The matter assumes a new color, and Mabel,
Who dearly loved sinners, at first seemed unable
To pardon, or ask God to pardon, the crime
Of her husband; an angry disgust for a time
Drove all charity out of her heart. For a thief,
For a forger, a murderer, even, her grief
Had been mingled with pity and pardon; the one
Thing she could not forgive was the thing he had done.
It was wicked, indecent, and so unrefined.
To the lure of the senses her nature was blind,
And her mantle of charity never had been
Wide enough to quite cover that one vulgar sin.


In the letter she sent to Maurice, though she said
Little more than her thanks for his kindness, he read
All her tense nervous feelings between its few lines.
Though we study our words, the keen reader divines
What we thought while we penned them; thought odors reveal
What words not infrequently seek to conceal.


Maurice read the grief, the resentment, the shame
Which Mabel's heart held; to his own bosom came
Stealing back, masked demurely as friendly regard,
The hope of a lover-that hope long debarred.
His letters grew frequent; their tone, dignified,
Unselfish, and manly, appealed to her pride.
Sweet sympathy mingled with praise in each line
(As a gentle narcotic is stirred into wine),
Soothed pain, stimulated self love, and restored her
The pleasure of knowing the man still adored her.


Understand, Mabel Montrose was not a coquette,
She lacked all the arts of the temptress; and yet
She was young, she was feminine; love to her mind
Was extreme admiration; it pleased her to find
She was still, to Maurice, an ideal. A woman
Must be quite unselfish, almost superhuman,
And full of strong sympathy, who, in her soul,
Feels no wrench when she knows she has lost all control
O'er the heart of a man who once loved her.
Months passed,
And Mabel accepted her burden at last
And went back to her world and its duties. Her eyes
Seemed to say when she looked at you, 'please sympathize,
On the slight graceful form or the beautiful face.
'Twas a sorrow of mind, not a sorrow of heart,
And the two play a wholly dissimilar part
In the life of a woman.
Maurice Somerville
Kept his place as good friend through sheer force of his will.


But his heart was in tumult; he longed for the time
When, free once again from the legalized crime
Of her ties, she might listen to all he would say.
There was anguish, and doubt, and suspense in delay,
Yet Mabel spoke never of freedom. At length
He wrote her, 'My will has exhausted its strength.
Read the song I enclose; though my lips must be mute,
The muse may at least improvise to her lute.'


Song.
There was a bird as blithe as free,
(Summer and sun and song)
She sang by the shores of a laughing sea,
And oh, but the world seemed fair to me,
And the days were sweet and long.


There was a hunter, a hunter bold,
(Autumn and storm and sea)
And he prisoned the bird in a cage of gold,
And oh, but the world grew dark and cold,
And the days were sad to me.


The hunter has gone; ah, what cares he?
(Winter and wind and rain)
And the caged bird pines for the air and the sea,
And I long for the right to set her free
To sing in the sun again.


The hunter has gone with a sneer at fate,
(Spring and the sea and the sun)
Let the bird fly free to find her mate,
Ere the year of love grow sere and late.
Sweet ladye, my song is done.


Mabel's Letter to Maurice.
To the song of your muse I have listened. Oh, cease
To think of me but as a friend, dear Maurice.
Once a wife, a wife alway. I vowed from my heart,
'For better, for worse, until death do us part.'
No mention was made in the service that day
Of breaking my fetters if joy flew away.
'For better, for worse,' a vow lightly spoken,
When Fate brings the 'worse,' how lightly 'tis broken!
The 'worse,' in my case, is the worst fate can give.
Tho' I shrank from the blow, I must bear it and live,
Not for self, but for duty; nor strive to evade
Fulfilling the promise I willingly made.
While Roger has sinned, and his sinning would be,
In the eyes of the law, proof to render me free,
It was God heard my vows and the Church sealed the bond.
Until one of us passes to death's dim beyond,
Though seas and though sins may divide us for life,
We are bound to each other as husband and wife.
In God's Court of Justice divorce is a word
Which falls without import or meaning when heard;
And the women who cast off old fetters that way,
To give place to the new, on the great Judgment Day
Must find, in the last summing up, that they stand
Side by side, in God's eyes, with the Magdalene band.
Dear Maurice, be my brother, my counselor, friend.
We are lonely without you and Ruth, at Bay Bend.
Come sometimes and brighten our lives; put away
The thoughts which are making you restless today
And give me your strong noble friendship; indeed
'Tis a friend that I crave, not a lover I need.

Maurice to Mabel.


You write like a woman, and one, it is plain,
Whose sentiment hangs like a cloud o'er her brain.
You gaze through a sort of traditional mist,
And behold a mirage of God's laws which exist
But in fancy. God made but one law-it is love.
A law for the earth, and the kingdoms above,
A law for the woman, a law for the man,
The base and the spire of His intricate plan
Of existence. All evils the world ever saw
Had birth in man's breaking away from this law.
God cancels a marriage when love flies away.
'Till death do us part' should be altered to say,
'Till disgust or indifference part us.' I know
You never loved Roger, my heart tells me so.
He won you, I claim, through a mesmeric spell;
You dreamed of an Eden, and wakened in hell.
You pitied his weakness, you struggled to save him,
He paid with a crime the devotion you gave him.
And the blackest of insults relentlessly hurled
At your poor patient heart in the gaze of the world.
In God's mighty ledger the stroke of a pen
Has been drawn through your record of marriage. Though men
Call you wedded I hold you are widowed. Why cling
To the poor, empty, meaningless form of a thing-
To the letter, devoid of all spirit? God never
Intended a woman to hopelessly sever
Herself from all possible joy, or to make
True faithfulness suffer for faithlessness' sake.
When I think of your wrongs, when I think of my woes,
That black word divorce like a bright planet glows
In the skies of the future. Oh, Mabel, be fair
To yourself and to me. For the years of despair
I have suffered you owe me some recompense, surely.
The heart that has worshipped so long and so purely
Ought not to be slighted for mere sentiment.
We must live as our century bids us. Its bent
Is away from the worn ruts of thought. Where of old
The life of a woman was run in the mold
Of man's wishes and passions, to-day she is free;
Free to think and to act; free to do and to be
What she pleases. The poor, pining victim of fate
And man's cruelty, long ago went out of date.
In the mansion of Life there were some things askew,
Which the strong hand of Progress has righted. The new,
Better plan puts old notions of sex on the shelf.
Who is true to a knave, is untrue to herself.
Oh, be true to yourself, and have pity on one
Who has long dwelt in shadow and pines for the sun.
Love, starving on memories, begs for one taste
Of sweet hope, ere the remnant of youth goes to waste.
You write like a man who sees self as his goal.
You speak of your woes-yet my travail of soul
Seems mere sentiment to you. Maurice, pause and think
Of the black, bitter potion life gave me to drink
When I dreamed of love's nectar. Too fresh is the taste
Of its gall on my lip for my heart in such haste
To reach out for the cup that is proffered anew.
A certain respect to my sorrows is due.
I am weary of love as men know it. The calm
Of a sweet, tranquil friendship would act like a balm
On the wounds of my heart; that platonic regard,
Which we read of in books, or hear sung by the bard,
But so seldom can find when we want it. I thought,
For a time, you had conquered mere self, and had brought
Such a friendship to comfort and rest me. But no,
That dream, like full many another, must go.
The love that is based on attraction of sex
Is a love that has brought me but sorrow. Why vex
My poor soul with the same thing again? If you love
With a higher emotion, you know how to prove
And sustain the assertion by conduct. Maurice,
Love must rise above passion, to infinite peace
And serenity, ere it is love, to my mind.
For the women of earth, in the ranks of mankind
There are too many lovers and not enough friends.
'Tis the friend who protects, 'tis the lover who rends.
He who can be a friend while he would be a lover
Is the rarest and greatest of souls to discover.
Have I found, dear Maurice, such a treasure in you?
If not, I must say with this letter-adieu.


As he finished the letter there seemed but one phrase
To the heart of the reader. It shone on his gaze
Bright with promise and hope. 'Too fresh is the taste
Of its gall on my lip for my heart in such haste
To reach out for the cup that is offered anew.'
'In such haste.' Ah, how hope into certainty grew
As he read and re-read that one sentence. 'Let fate
Take the whole thing in charge, I can wait-I can wait.
I have lived through the night; though the dawn may be gray
And belated, it heralds the coming of day.'
So he talked with himself, and grew happy at last.
The five hopeless years of his sorrow were cast
Like a nightmare behind him. He walked once again
With a joy in his personal life, among men.
There seemed to be always a smile on his lip,
For he felt like a man on the deck of a ship
Who has sailed through strange seas with a mutinous crew,
And now in the distance sights land just in view.


The house at Bay Bend was re-opened. Once more,
Where the waves of the Sound wash the New England shore,
Walked Maurice; and beside him, young hope, with the tip
Of his fair rosy fingers pressed hard on his lip,
Urging silence. If Mabel Montrose saw the boy
With the pursed prudent mouth and the eyes full of joy
She said nothing. Grave, dignified (Ah, but so fair!),
There was naught in her modest and womanly air
To feed or encourage such hope. Yet love grew
Like an air plant, with only the night and the dew
To sustain it; while Mabel rejoiced in the friend,
Who, in spite of himself, had come back to Bay Bend,
Yielding all to her wishes. Such people, alone,
Who gracefully gave up their plans for her own,
Were congenial to Mabel. Though looking the sweet,
Fragile creature, with feminine virtues replete,
Her nature was stubborn. Beneath that fair brow
Lurked an obstinate purpose to make others bow
To herself in small matters. She fully believed
She was right, always right; and her friends were deceived,
As a rule, into thinking the same; for her eyes
Held a look of such innocent grief and surprise
When her will was opposed, that one felt her misused,
And retired from the field of dispute, self-accused.


The days, like glad children, went hurrying out
From the schoolhouse of time; months pursued the same route
More sedately; a year, then two years, passed away,
Yet hope, unimpaired, in the lover's heart lay,
As a gem in the bed of a river might lie,
Unharmed and unmoved while its waters ran by.
His toil for the poor still continued, but not
With that fervor of zeal which a dominant thought
Lends to labor. Fair love gilded dreams filled his mind,
While the corners were left for his suffering kind.
He was sorry for sorrow; but love made him glad,
And nothing in life now seemed hopeless or sad.
His tete-a-tete visits with Mabel were rare;
She ordered her life with such prudence and care
Lest her white name be soiled by the gossips. And yet,
Though his heart, like a steed checked too closely, would fret
Sometimes at these creed-imposed fetters, he felt
Keen delight in her nearness; in knowing she dwelt
Within view of his high turret window. Each day
Which gave him a glimpse of her, love laid away
As a poem in life's precious folio. Night
Held her face like a picture, dream-framed for his sight.
So he fed on the crumbs from love's table, the while
Fate sat looking on with a cynical smile.


IX


SONGS FROM THE TURRET.


I

In the day my thoughts are tender
When I muse on my ladye fair.
There is never one to offend her,
For each is pure as a prayer.
They float like spirits above her,
About her and always near;
And they scarce dare sigh that they love her,
Because she would blush to hear.


But in dreams my thoughts grow bolder;
And close to my lips of fire,
I reach out my arms and enfold her,
My ladye, my heart's desire.
And she who, in earthly places,
Seems cold as the stars above,
Unmasks in those fair dream spaces
And gives me love for love.


On day, with your thoughts of duty
Cross over the sunset streams,
And give me the night of beauty
And love in the Land of Dreams.
For there in the mystic, shady,
Fair isle of the Slumber Sea,
I read the heart of my ladye
That here she hides from me.


II

Some day, some beauteous day,
Joy will come back again.
Sorrow must fly away.


Hope, on her harp will play
The old inspiring strain
Some day, some beauteous day.


Through the long hours I say,
'The night must fade and wane,
Sorrow must fly away.'


The morn's bewildering ray
Shall pierce the night of rain,
Some day, some beauteous day.


Autumn shall bloom like May,
Delight shall spring from pain;
Sorrow must fly away.


Though on my life, grief's gray
Bleak shadow long hath lain,
Some day, some beauteous day,
Sorrow must fly away.


III

When love is lost, the day sets toward the night.
Albeit the morning sun may still be bright,
And not one cloud ship sails across the sky.
Yet from the places where it used to lie,
Gone is the lustrous glory of the light.


No splendor rests on any mountain height,
No scene spreads fair, and beauteous, to the sight.
All, all seems dull and dreary to the eye,
When love is lost.


Love lends to life its grandeur and its might,
Love goes, and leaves behind it gloom and blight.
Like ghosts of time the pallid hours drag by,
And grief's one happy thought is that we die.
Ah! what can recompense us for its flight,
When love is lost.


IV

Life is a ponderous lesson book, and Fate
The teacher. When I came to love's fair leaf
My teacher turned the page and bade me wait.
'Learn first,' she said, 'love's grief';
And o'er and o'er through many a long to-morrow
She kept me conning that sad page of sorrow.


Cruel the task; and yet it was not vain.
Now the great book of life I know by heart.
In that one lesson of love's loss and pain
Fate doth the whole impart.
For, by the depths of woe, the mind can measure
The beauteous unscaled summits of love's pleasure.


Now, with the book of life upon her knee,
Fate sits! the unread page of love's delight
By her firm hand is half concealed from me,
And half revealed to sight.
Ah Fate! be kind! so well I learned love's sorrow,
Give me its full delight to learn to-morrow.


V

If I were a rain drop, and you were a leaf,
I would burst from the cloud above you
And lie on your breast in a rapture of rest,
And love you, love you, love you.


If I were a brown bee, and you were a rose,
I would fly to you, love, nor miss you;
I would sip and sip from your nectared lip,
And kiss you, kiss you, kiss you.


If I were a doe, dear, and you were a brook,
Ah, what would I do then, think you?
I would kneel by your bank, in the grasses dank,
And drink you, drink you, drink you.


VI

Time owes me such a heavy debt,
How can he ever make things right?
For suns that with no promise set
To help me greet the morning light,


For dreams that no fruition met,
For joys that passed from bud to blight,
Time owes me such a heavy debt;
How can he ever make things right?


For passions balked, with strain and fret
Of hopes delayed, or perished quite,
For kisses that I did not get
On many a love impelling night,
Time owes me such a heavy debt;
How can he ever make things right?


VII

As the king bird feeds on the heart of the bee,
So would I feed on the sweets of thee.


As the south wind kisses the leaf at will,
From the leaf of thy lips I would drink my fill.


As the sun pries into the heart of a rose,
I would pry in thy heart, and its thoughts disclose.


As a dewdrop mirrors the loving sky,
I would see myself in thy tear wet eye.


As the deep night shelters the day in its arms,
I would hide thee, dear, from the world's alarms.


VIII

Now do I know how Paradise doth seem,
Now do I know the deep red depths of hell.
Swift from those fair supernal heights I fell
To burning flames of hades, in a dream.
Methought my ladye rested by a stream
Which rippled through the verdure of a dell.
She lay like Eve; dear God, I dare not tell
Of her perfections; of the glow and gleam
Of tinted flesh, and undulating hair,
Of sudden thigh, and sweetly rounded breast.
Then, like a cloud, he came, from God knows where,
And on her eyes and mouth mad kisses pressed.
I fell, and fell, through leagues of scorching space,
And always saw his lips upon her face.


IX

Love is the source of all supreme delight,
Love is the bitter fountain of despair;
Who follows Love shall stand upon the height,
Yet through the darkest depths, Love, too, leads there.


Courage needs he who would with bold Love fare,
Let him set forth with all his strength bedight;
Yet in his heart this song to banish care-
'Love is the source of all supreme delight.'


And he must sing this song both day and night,
Though he be led down shadowy pathways where
Black waters moan, through valleys struck with blight,
'Love is the bitter fountain of despair.'


Let him be brave, and bravely let him dare
Whate'er betide, and feel no coward fright.
Who shares the worst, the best deserves to share;
Who follows Love shall stand upon the height.


Ah! sweet is peace to those who faced the fight,
And bright the crown those faithful ones shall wear,
Who whispered, when the shadows veiled their sight,
'Yet through the darkest depths, Love, too, leads there.'


To hearts that best know Love, his dark is fair,
His sorrow gladness, and his wrong is right.
All joys lie waiting on his winding stair;
All ways, all paths of Love lead to the light.
Love is the source.


X

My ladye's eyes are wishing wells,
Wherein I gaze with silent yearning;
Deep in their depths my future dwells.
My ladye's eyes are wishing wells,
But not one sign my fate foretells,
While my poor heart with love is burning.
My ladye's eyes are wishing wells,
Wherein I gaze with silent yearning.


XI

Three things my ladye seemeth like to me-
She seems like moonlight on a waveless sea.


And like the delicate fragrance, which exhales,
When Day's warm garments brush the dewy vales.


And when my heart grows weary of earth's sound,
She seems like silence-restful and profound.


XII

The moon flower, grown from a slip so slender,
Has burst in a star bloom, full and white.
The air is filled with a perfume tender,
The breath that blows from that garden height.
Yet moments lag that should take their flight
On wings, like the wings of a homing dove,
And the world goes wrong where it should go right,
For this is a night that is lost to love.


Again, like a queen, who would rashly spend her
Dower of wealth in a single night,
The proud moon seems, on her track of splendor,
Enriching the world with her silver light.
She flings on the crest of each billow a bright
Pure gem, from the casket of jewels above.
But I sigh as I gaze on the glorious sight,
'This is a night that is lost to love.'


Oh, I would that the moon might never wend her
Way through the skies in royal might,
Till the haughty heart of my lady surrender
And the faithful love of a life requite.
For the moon was made for a lover's delight;
And grayer than gloom must its luster prove
To the soul that sighs under sorrow's blight,
'This is a night that is lost to love.'

L'Envoi.


Fate, have pity upon my plight,
And the heart of my lady to mercy move.
For the saddest words that youth can write
Are, 'This is a night that is lost to love.'


XIII

As the waves of the outgoing sea
Leave the rocks and the drift wood bare,
When your thoughts are for others than me,
My heart is the strand of despair-
Beloved,
Where bleak suns glare,
And joy, like a desolate mourner, gropes
In the wrecks of broken hopes.


As the incoming waves of the sea,
The rocks and the sandbar hide,
When your thoughts flow back to me,
My heart leaps up on the tide-
Beloved,
Where my glad hopes ride
With joy at the wheel, and the sun above
In a glorious sky of love.


XIV

There was a bard all in the olden time,
When bards were men to whom the world gave ear,
And song an art the great gods deemed sublime,
Who sought to make his willful lady hear
By weaving strange new melodies of rhyme,
Which voiced his love, his sorrow, and his fear.


Sweetheart, my soul is heavy now with fear,
Lest thou shalt frown upon me for all time.
Ah! would that I had skill to weave a rhyme
Worthy to win the favor of thine ear.
Tho' all the world were deaf, if thou didst hear
And smile, my song would seem to me sublime.


But ah! too vast, too awful and sublime,
Is my great passion, born of grief and fear,
To clothe in verse. Why, if the world could hear
And understand my love, then for all time,
So long as there was sound or listening ear,
All space would ring and echo with my rhyme.


Such passion seems belittled by a rhyme
It needs the voice of nature. The sublime,
Loud thunder crash, that hurts the startled ear,
And stirs the heart with awe, akin to fear,
The weird, wild winds of equinoctial time;
These voices tell my love, wouldst thou but hear.


And listening at the flood tides, thou might'st hear
The love I bear thee surging through the rhyme
Of breaking billows, many a moon full time.
Why, I have heard thee call the sea sublime,
When every wave but voiced the anguished fear
Of my man's heart to thy unconscious ear.


Vain, then, the hope that thou wilt lend thine ear
To any song of mine, or deign to hear
My lays of longing or my strains of fear.
Vain is the hope to weave for thee a rhyme,
Or sweet or sad, or subtle or sublime,
Which wins thy gracious favor for all time.


Oh, cruel time! my lady will not hear,
Though in her ear love sings a song sublime,
And my sad rhyme ends, like my love, in fear.


X

prologue

Bright like the comforting blaze on the hearth,
Sweet like the blooms on the young apple tree,
Fragrant with promise of fruit yet to be
Are the home-keeping maidens of earth.


Better and greater than talent is worth,
And where is the glory of brush or of pen
Like the glory of mothers and molders of men-
The home-keeping women of earth?


Crowned since the great solar system had birth,
They reign unsurpassed in their beautiful sphere.
They are queens who can look in God's face without fear-
The home-keeping women of earth.


A man whose mere name was submerged in the sea
Of letters which followed it, B. A., M. D.,
And Minerva knows what else, held forth at Bellevue
On what he believed some discovery new
In medical Science (though, mayhap, a truth
That was old in Confucius' earliest youth),
And a bevy of bright women students sat near,
Absorbing his wisdom with eye and with ear.


Close by, lay the corpse of a man, half in view.
Dear shades of our dead and gone grandmamas! you
Whose modesty hung out red flags on each cheek,
Danger signals-if some luckless boor chanced to speak
The words 'leg' or 'liver' before you, I think
Your gray ashes, even, would deepen to pink
Should your ghost happen into a clinic or college
Where your granddaughters congregate seeking for knowledge.
Forced to listen to what they are eager to hear,
No doubt you would fancy the world out of gear,
And deem modesty dead, with last century belles


Honored ghosts, you would err! for true modesty dwells
In the same breast with knowledge, and takes no offense.
Truth never harmed anything yet but pretense.


There are fashions in modesty; what in your time
Had been deemed little less than an absolute crime
In matters of dress, or behavior, to-day
Is the custom. And however daring you may
Deem our manners and modes, yet, were facts fully known,

Our morals compare very well with your own.

The women composing the class at Bellevue
Were young-under thirty; some pleasing to view,
Some plain. Roman features prevailed, with brown hair,
But one was so feminine, soft eyed and fair
That she seemed out of place in a clinic, as though
A rose in a vegetable garden should grow.
While her face was intelligent, none would avow
That cold intellect dwelt on that fair oval brow,
Or looked out of the depths of those golden gray eyes,
The color of smoke against clear, sunny skies.
'Twas a warm woman face, made for fireside nooks,
Not a face to be bent over medical books.
There was nothing aggressive in features or form;
She was meant for still harbors, and not for the storm
And the strife of rude waters. The swell of her breast
Suggested love's sweet downy cushion of rest
For the cheeks of fair children. Her plump little hands,
Seemed fashioned for sewing small gussets and bands
And fussing with laces and ribbons, instead
Of cutting cold flesh and dissecting the dead.
And yet, as a student she ranked with the first.
But conscience, in labor once chosen, not thirst
For such knowledge, had spurred her to action. This day
She seemed inattentive, her air was distrait,
As if thought had slipped free of the bridle and rein
And galloped away over memory's plain.


It was true; it was strange, too, but there in the class,
While the learned man was talking, her mind seemed to pass
Out, away from the clinic, away from the town,
To a New England midsummer garden close down
By the salt water's edge; and she felt the wind blowing
Among her loose locks as she leaned o'er her sewing,
While the voice of a man stirred her heart into song.
She was called from her dream by the clang of the gong
Which foretells an arrival at Bellevue. The class
Was dismissed for the day. In the hall, forced to pass
By the stretcher (low brougham of misery), she
Whom we know was Ruth Somerville, looked down to see
The white, haggard face of the man whom her mind
Had strayed off in a waking day vision to find
But a moment before.
The wild, passionate cry
Which arose in her heart, was held back, nor passed by
The white sentinels set on her lip. The serene,
Lofty look which deep feeling controlled gives the mien
Marked her air as she turned to the surgeon and said:
'This man lying here, either dying or dead,
Was a classmate, at Yale, of my brother's; my friend
Is his wife. Let me stay by his side to the end,
If the end has not come.'
It was Roger Montrose,
Grown old with his sins and grown gaunt with his woes,
Lying low in his manhood before her.
His eyes
Opened slowly; a wondering look of surprise
Met the soft orbs above him. 'Ruth-Ruth Somerville,'
He said feebly. 'Tell Mabel'-then sighed, and was still.


But it was not the stillness of death. There was life
In that turbulent heart yet; that heart torn with strife,
Scarred with passion, and wracked by the pangs of remorse.
'Death's swift leaden messenger missed in its course
By the breadth of a hair,' said the surgeon. 'The ball
Lies in there by the shoulder. His chances are small
For a new start on earth. While a sober man might
Hope to conquer grim Death in this hand-to-hand fight,
Here old Alcohol stands as Death's second, fierce, cruel,
And stronger than Life's one aid, skill, in the duel.
You tell me the wife of this man is your friend?
He was shot by a woman, who then made an end
Of her own life. I hope it was not-' 'Oh, no-no,
Not his wife,' Ruth replied, 'for he left her to go
With this other, his victim-poor creature-they say
She was good till she met him. Ah! what a black way
For love's rose scented path to lead down to, and end.
God pity her, pity her.' 'Her, not your friend?
Not his wife?'
There was gentle reproof in the tone
Of the staid old physician. Ruth's eyes met his own
In brave, silent warfare; the blue and the gray
Again faced each other in battle array.


Ruth:

I pity the woman who suffered. His wife
Goes her way well contented. Love was in her life
But an incident; while to this other, dear God,
It was all; on what sharp, burning ploughshares she trod,
Down what chasms she leaped, how she tossed the whole world,
Like a dead rose, behind her, to lie and be whirled
In the maelstrom of love for one moment. Ah, brief
Is the rapture such souls find, and long is their grief,
Black their sin, blurred their record, and scarlet their shame.
And yet when I think of them, sorrow, not blame,
Stirs my being. Blind passion is only the weed
Of fair, beautiful love. Both are sprung from one seed;
One grows wild, one is trained and directed. Condemn
The hand that neglected-but ah! pity them.


Surgeon:

You speak with much feeling. But now, if the friends
Of this man are to see him before his life ends,
I recommend action on your part. His stay
On this planet, I fear, will be finished to-day.
A man who neglects and abuses his wife,
Who gives her at best but the dregs of his life,
In the hey day of health, when he's drained his last cup
Has a fashion of wanting to settle things up.
Craves forgiveness, and hopes with a few final tears
To wash out the sins and the insults of years.
Call your friend; bid her hasten, lest lips that are dumb,
Having wasted life's feast, shall refuse her death's crumb.


Ruth:

There are souls to whom crumbs are sufficient, at least
They seem not to value love's opulent feast.
They neglect, they ignore, they abuse, or destroy
What to some poor starved life had been earth's rarest joy.
'Tis a curious fact that love's banqueting table
Full often is spread for the guest the least able
To do the feast justice. The gods take delight
In offering crusts to the starved appetite
And rich fruits, to the sated or sickly.


The eyes
Of the surgeon were fixed on Ruth's face with a wise
Knowing look in their depths, and he said to himself,
'There's a mystery here which young Cupid, sly elf,
Could account for. I judge by her voice and her face
That the wife of this man holds no very warm place
In Miss Somerville's heart, though she names her as friend.
Ah, full many a drama has come to an end
'Neath the walls of Bellevue, and the curtain will fall
On one actor to-night; though the audience call,
He will make no response, once he passes from view,
For Death is the prompter who gives him the cue.'


The wisest minds err. When a clergyman tries
To tell a man where he will go when he dies,
Or when a physician makes bold to aver
Just the length of a life here, both usually err.
So it is not surprising that Roger, at dawn,
Sat propped up by pillows, still haggard and wan,
But seemingly stronger, and eager to tell
His story to Ruth ere the death shadows fell.


'If I go before Mabel can reach me,' he sighed,
'Tell her this: that my heart was ail hers when I died,
Was all hers while I lived. Ah! I see how you start,
But that other-God pity her-not with my heart,
But my sensual senses I loved her. The fire
Of her glance blinded men to all things save desire.
It called to the beast chained within us. Her lips
Held the nectar that makes a man mad when he sips.
Her touch was delirium. In the fierce joys
Of her kisses there lurked the fell curse which destroys
All such rapture-satiety. When passion dies,
And the mind finds no pleasure, the spirit no ties
To replace it, disgust digs its grave. Ay! disgust
Is ever the sexton who buries dead lust.


When two people wander from virtue's straight track,
One always grows weary and longs to go back.
Well, I wearied. God knows how I struggled to hide
The truth from the poor, erring soul at my side.
And God knows how I hated my life when I first
Found that passion's mad potion had palled on my thirst.
Once false to my virtues, now false to my sin,
I seemed less to myself than I ever had been.
We parted. This bullet hole here in my breast
Proceeds with the story and tells you the rest.
She smiled, I remember, in saying adieu:
Then two swift, sharp reports-and I woke in Bellevue
With one ball in my breast.


Ruth:

And the other in hers.
No more with wild sorrow that sad bosom stirs.
She is dead, sir, the woman you led to her ruin.


Roger:

The woman led me. Ah! not all the undoing
In these matters lies at man's door. In the mind
Of full many a so-called chaste woman we find
Unchaste longings. The world heaps on man its abuse
When he woos without wedding; yet women seduce
And betray us; they lure us and lead us to shame;
As they share in the sin, let them share in the blame.


Ruth:

Hush! the woman is dead.


Roger:

And I dying. But truth
Is not changed by the death of two people! Oh, Ruth,
Be just ere you judge me! the death of my child
Half unbalanced my reason; weak, wretched and wild
With drink and with sorrows, the devil's own chance
Flung me down by the side of a woman whose glance
Was an opiate, lulling the conscience. I fell,
With the woman who tempted me, down to dark hell.
In the honey of sin hides the sting of the bee.
The honey soon sated-the sting stayed with me.
Like a damned soul I looked from my Hades, above
To the world I had left, and I craved the pure love
That but late had seemed cold, unresponsive. Her eyes,
Mabel's eyes, shone in dreams from the far distant skies
Of the lost world of goodness and virtue. Like one
Who is burning with thirst 'neath a hot desert sun,
I longed for her kiss, cool, reluctant, but pure.
Ah! man's love for good women alone can endure,
For virtue is God, the Eternal. The rest
Is but chaos. The worst must give way to the best.
Tell Mabel-Ruth, Ruth, she is here, oh thank God.


She stood, like a violet sprung from the sod,
By his bedside; pale, beautiful, dewy with tears.
The spectre of death bridged the chasm of years:
He sighed on her bosom. 'Forgive, oh forgive!'
She kissed his pale forehead and answered him: 'Live,
Live, my husband! oh plead with the angels to stay
Until God, too, has pardoned your sins. Let us pray.'


Ruth slipped from the room all unnoticed. She seemed
Like a sleeper who wakens and knows he has dreamed
And is dazed with reality. On, as if led
By some presence unseen, to the inn of the dead
She passed swiftly; the pale silent guest whom she sought
Lay alone on her narrow and unadorned cot.
No hand had placed blossoms about her; no tear
Of love or of sorrow had hallowed that bier.
The desperate smile life had left on her face
Death retained; but he touched, too, her brow with a grace
And a radiance, subtle, mysterious. Under
The half drooping lids lay a look of strange wonder,
As if on the sight of those sorrowing eyes
The unexplored country had dawned with surprise.


The pure, living woman leaned over the dead,
Lovely sinner, and kissed her. 'God rest you,' she said.
'Poor suffering soul, you were forged in that Source
Where the lightnings are fashioned. Love guided, your force
Would have been like a current of life giving joys,
And not like the death dealing bolt which destroys.
Oh, shame to the parents who dared give you birth,
To live and to love and to suffer on earth,
With the serious lessons of life unexplained,
And your passionate nature untaught and untrained.
You would not lie here in your youth and your beauty
If your mother had known what was motherhood's duty.
The age calls to woman, 'Go, broaden your lives,'
While for lack of good mothers the Potter's Field thrives.
But you, poor unfortunate, you shall not lie
In that dust heap of death; while the summers roll by
You shall sleep where green hillsides are kissed by the wave,
And the soft hand of pity shall care for your grave.


XI


Ruth's Letter to Maurice, Six Months Later
.

The springtime is here in our old home again,
Which again you have left. Oh, most worthy of men,
Why grieve for unworthiness? Why waste your life
For a woman who never was meant for a wife?
Mabel Lee has no love in her nature. Your heart
Would have starved in her keeping. She plays her new part,
As the faithful, forgiving, sweet spouse, with content.
I think she is secretly glad Roger went
Astray for a season. She stands up still higher
On her pedestal, now, for Bay Bend to admire.
She is pleased with herself. As for Roger, he trots
Like a lamb in her wake, with the blemishing spots
Of his sins washed away by the Church. Oh I seem
To myself, in these days, like one waked from a dream
To blessed reality. Off in the Bay
I saw a fair snowy sailed ship yesterday.
The masts shone like gold, and the furrowed waves laughed,
To be beat into foam by the beautiful craft.
But close in the harbor I saw the ship lying;
What seemed like the wings of a sea gull when flying,
Were weather stained sheets; there were no masts of gold,
And the craft was uncleanly, unseaworthy, old.
Well, the man whom I loved, and loved vainly, and whom
I fancied had shadowed my whole life with gloom,
Has been shown to my sight like that ship in the Bay,
And all my illusions have vanished away.
The man is by nature weak, selfish, unstable.
I think if some woman more loving than Mabel,
More tender, more tactful, less painfully good,
Had directed his home-life, perchance Roger would
Have evolved his best self, that pure atom of God,
Which lies deep in each heart like a seed in the sod.
'Tis the world's over-virtuous women, ofttimes,
Who drive men of weak will into sexual crimes
I pity him. (God knows I pity, each, all
Of the poor striving souls who grope blindly and fall
By the wayside of life.) But the love which unbidden
Crept into my heart, and was guarded and hidden
For years, that has vanished. It passed like a breath,
In the gray Autumn morning when Roger faced death,
As he thought, and uncovered his heart to my sight.
Like a corpse, resurrected and brought to the light,
Which crumbles to ashes, the love of my youth
Crumbled off into nothingness. Ah, it is truth;
Love can die! You may hold it is not the true thing,
Not the genuine passion, which dies or takes wing;
But the soil of the heart, like the soil of the earth,
May, at varying times of the seasons, give birth
To bluebells, and roses, and bright goldenrod.
Each one is a gift from the garden of God,
Though it dies when its season is over. Why cling
To the withered dead stalk of the blossoms of spring
Through a lifetime, Maurice? It is stubbornness only,
Not constancy, which makes full many lives lonely.
They want their own way, and, like cross children, fling
Back the gifts which, in place of the lost flowers of spring,
Fate offers them. Life holds in store for you yet
Better things, dear Maurice, than a dead violet,
As it holds better things than dead daisies for me.
To Roger Montrose, let us leave Mabel Lee,
With our blessing. They seem to be happy; or she
Seems content with herself and her province; while he
Has the look of one who, overfed with emotion,
Tries a diet of spiritual health-food, devotion.
He is broken in strength, and his face has the hue
Of a man to whom passion has bidden adieu.
He has time now to worship his God and his wife.
She seems better pleased with the dregs of his life
Than she was with the bead of it.
Well, let them make
What they will of their future. Maurice, for my sake
And your own, put them out of your thoughts. All too brief
And too broad is this life to be ruined by grief
Over one human atom. Like mellowing rain,
Which enriches the soil of the soul and the brain,
Should the sorrow of youth be; and not like the breath
Of the cyclone, which carries destruction and death.
Come, Maurice, let philosophy lift you above
The gloom and despair of unfortunate love.
Sometimes, if we look a woe straight in the face,
It loses its terrors and seems commonplace;
While sorrow will follow and find if we roam.
Come, help me to turn the old house into home.
We have youth, health, and competence. Why should we go
Out into God's world with long faces of woe?
Let our pleasures have speech, let our sorrows be dumb,
Let us laugh at despair and contentment will come.
Let us teach earth's repiners to look through glad eyes,
For the world needs the happy far more than the wise.
I am one of the women whose talent and taste
Lie in home-making. All else I do seems mere waste
Of time and intention; but no woman can
Make a house seem a home without aid of a man.
He is sinew and bone, she is spirit and life.
Until the veiled future shall bring you a wife,
Me a mate (and both wait for us somewhere, dear brother),
Let us bury old corpses and live for each other.
You will write, and your great heart athrob through your pen
Shall strengthen earth's weak ones with courage again.
Where your epigrams fail, I will offer a pill,
And doctor their bodies with 'new woman' skill.
(Once a wife, I will drop from my name the M. D.
I hold it the truth that no woman can be
An excellent wife and an excellent mother,
And leave enough purpose and time for another
Profession outside. And our sex was not made
To jostle with men in the great marts of trade.
The wage-earning women, who talk of their sphere,
Have thrown the domestic machine out of gear.
They point to their fast swelling ranks overjoyed,
Forgetting the army of men unemployed.
The banner of Feminine 'Rights,' when unfurled,
Means a flag of distress to the rest of the world.
And poor Cupid, depressed by such follies and crimes,
Sits weeping, alone, in the Land of Hard Times.
The world needs wise mothers, the world needs good wives,
The world needs good homes, and yet woman strives
To be everything else but domestic. God's plan
Was for woman to rule the whole world,
through a man
.
There is nothing a woman of sweetness and tact
Can not do without personal effort or act.
She needs but infuse lover, husband or son
With her own subtle spirit, and lo! it is done.
Though the man is unconscious, full oft, of the cause,
And fancies himself the sole maker of laws.
Well, let him. The cannon, no doubt, is the prouder
For not knowing its noise is produced by the powder.
Yet this is the law:
Who can love, can command.
)
But I wander too far from the subject in hand,
Which is, your home coming. Make haste, dear; I find
More need every day of your counseling mind.
I work well in harness, but poorly alone.
Until that bright day when Fate brings us our own,
Let us labor together. I see many ways,
Many tasks, for the use of our talents and days.
Your wisdom shall better the workingmen's lives,
While I will look after their daughters and wives,
And teach them to cook without waste; for, indeed,
It is knowledge like this which the poor people need,
Not the stuff taught in schools. You shall help them to think,
While I show them what they can eat and can drink
With least cost, and most pleasure and benefit. Please
Write me and say you will come, dear Maurice.
Home, sister, and duty are all waiting here;
Who keeps close to duty finds pleasure dwells near.


XII


Maurice's Letter to Ruth
:

No, no. I have gambled with destiny twice,
And have staked my whole hopes on a home; but the dice
Thrown by Fate made me loser. Henceforward, I know
My lot must be homeless. The gods will it so.


I fought, I rebelled; I was bitter. I strove
To outwit the great Cosmic Forces, above,
Or beyond, or about us, who guide and control
The course of all things from the moat to the soul.


The river may envy the peace of the pond,
But law drives it out to the ocean beyond.
If it roars down abysses, or laughs through the land,
It follows the way which the Forces have planned.


So man is directed. His only the choice
To help or to hinder-to weep or rejoice.
But vain is refusal-and vain discontent,
For at last he must walk in the way that was meant.


My way leads through shadow, alone to the end
I must work out my karma, and follow its trend.
I must fulfill the purpose, whatever it be,
And look not for peace till I merge in God's sea.


Though bankrupt in joy, still my life has its gain;
I have climbed the last round in the ladder of pain.
There is nothing to dread. I have drained sorrow's cup
And can laugh as I fling it at Fate bottom up.


I have missed what I sought; yet I missed not the whole.
The best part of love is in loving. My soul
Is enriched by its prodigal gifts. Still, to give
And to ask no return, is my lot while I live.


Such love may be blindness, but where are love's eyes?
Such love may be folly, love seldom is wise.
Such love may be madness, was love ever sane?
Such love must be sorrow, for all love is pain.


Love goes where it must go, and in its own season.
Love cannot be banished by will or by reason.
Love gave back your freedom, it keeps me its slave.
I shall walk in its fetters, unloved, to my grave.


So be it. What right has the ant, in the dust,
To cry that the world is all wrong, and unjust,
Because the swift foot of a messenger trod
Down the home, and the hopes, that were built in the sod?


What is man but an ant, in this universe scheme?
Though dear his ambition, and precious his dream,
God's messengers speed all unseen on their way,
And the plans of a lifetime go down in a day


No matter. The aim of the Infinite mind,
Which lies back of it all, must be great, must be kind.
Can the ant or the man, though ingenious and wise,
Swing the tides of the sea-set a star in the skies?


Can man fling a million of worlds into space,
To whirl on their orbits with system and grace?
Can he color a sunset, or create a seed,
Or fashion one leaf of the commonest weed?


Can man summon daylight, or bid the night fall?
Then how dare he question the Force which does all?
Where so much is flawless, where so much is grand,
All, all must be right, could our souls understand.


Ah, man, the poor egotist! Think with what pride
He boasts his small knowledge of star and of tide.
But when fortune fails him, or when a hope dies,

The Maker
of stars and of seas he denies!


I questioned, I doubted. But that is all past;
I have learned the true secret of living at last.
It is, to accept what Fate sends, and to know
That the one thing God wishes of man-is to grow.


Growth, growth out of self, back to him-the First Cause:
Therein lies the purpose, the law of all laws.
Tears, grief, disappointment, well, what are all these
To the Builder of stars and the Maker of seas?


Does the star long to shine, when He tells it to set,
As the heart would remember when told to forget?
Does the sea moan for flood tide, when bid to be low,
As a soul cries for pleasure when given life's woe?


In the Antarctic regions a volcano glows,
While low at its base lie the up-reaching snows.
With patient persistence they steadily climb,
And the flame will be quenched in the passage of time.


My heart is the crater, my will is the snow,
Which yet may extinguish its volcanic glow.
When self is once conquered, the end comes to pain,
And that is the goal which I seek to attain.


I seek it in work, heaven planned, heaven sent;
In the kingdom of toil waits the crown of content.
Work, work! ah, how high and divine was its birth,
When God, the first laborer, fashioned the earth.


The world cries for workers; not toilers for pelf,
But souls who have sought to eliminate self.
Can the lame lead the race? Can the blind guide the blind?
We must better ourselves ere we better our kind.


There are wrongs to be righted; and first of them all,
Is to lift up the leaners from Charity's thrall.
Sweet, wisdomless Charity, sowing the seed
Which it seeks to uproot, of dependence and need.


For vain is the effort to give man content
By clothing his body, by paying his rent.
The garment re-tatters, the rent day recurs;
Who seeks to serve God by such charity errs.


Give light to the spirit, give strength to the mind,
And the body soon cares for itself, you will find.
First, faith in God's wisdom, then purpose and will,
And, like mist before sunlight, shall vanish each ill.


To the far realm of Wisdom there lies a short way.
To find it we need but the password-Obey.
Obey like the acorn that falls to the sod,
To rise, through the heart of the oak tree, to God.


Though slow be the rising, and distant the goal,
Serenity waits at the end for each soul.
I seek it. Not backward, but onward I go,
And since sorrow means growth, I will welcome my woe.


In the ladder of lives we are given to climb,
Each life counts for only a second of time.
The one thing to do in the brief little space,
Is to make the world glad that we ran in the race.


No soul should be sad whom the Maker deemed worth
The great gift of song as its dower at birth.
While I pass on my way, an invisible throng
Breathes low in my ear the new note of a song.


So I am not alone; for by night and by day
These mystical messengers people my way.
They bid me to hearken, they bid me be dumb
And to wait for the true inspiration to come.

THE END

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

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