Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Clytie Siddall, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
The better, please; the worse, displease; I ask no more.
THE SECOND VOLUME.
THE VISION of THE MAID of ORLEANS.
The Complaints of the Poor
The Cross Roads.
The Sailor who had served in the Slave Trade
A Ballad shewing how an old woman rode double
and who rode before her
The Surgeon's Warning
Henry the Hermit
The Old Mansion House
The Grandmother's Tale
The Sailor's Mother
The Ruined Cottage
The Maid of Orleans.
Divinity hath oftentimes descended
Upon our slumbers, and the blessed troupes
Have, in the calme and quiet of the soule,
Conversed with us.
SHIRLEY. 'The Grateful Servant'
[Sidenote: The following Vision was originally printed as the ninth book
of 'JOAN of ARC'. It is now adapted to the improved edition of that
THE VISION OF THE MAID OF ORLEANS.
THE FIRST BOOK.
Orleans was hush'd in sleep. Stretch'd on her couch
The delegated Maiden lay: with toil
Exhausted and sore anguish, soon she closed
Her heavy eye-lids; not reposing then,
For busy Phantasy, in other scenes
Awakened. Whether that superior powers,
By wise permission, prompt the midnight dream,
Instructing so the passive  faculty;
Or that the soul, escaped its fleshly clog,
Flies free, and soars amid the invisible world,
And all things 'are' that  'seem'.
Along a moor,
Barren, and wide, and drear, and desolate,
She roam'd a wanderer thro' the cheerless night.
Far thro' the silence of the unbroken plain
The bittern's boom was heard, hoarse, heavy, deep,
It made most fitting music to the scene.
Black clouds, driven fast before the stormy wind,
Swept shadowing; thro' their broken folds the moon
Struggled sometimes with transitory ray,
And made the moving darkness visible.
And now arrived beside a fenny lake
She stands: amid its stagnate waters, hoarse
The long sedge rustled to the gales of night.
An age-worn bark receives the Maid, impell'd
By powers unseen; then did the moon display
Where thro' the crazy vessel's yawning side
The muddy wave oozed in: a female guides,
And spreads the sail before the wind, that moan'd
As melancholy mournful to her ear,
As ever by the dungeon'd wretch was heard
Howling at evening round the embattled towers
Of that hell-house  of France, ere yet sublime
The almighty people from their tyrant's hand
Dash'd down the iron rod.
Intent the Maid
Gazed on the pilot's form, and as she gazed
Shiver'd, for wan her face was, and her eyes
Hollow, and her sunk cheeks were furrowed deep,
Channell'd by tears; a few grey locks hung down
Beneath her hood: then thro' the Maiden's veins
Chill crept the blood, for, as the night-breeze pass'd,
Lifting her tattcr'd mantle, coil'd around
She saw a serpent gnawing at her heart.
The plumeless bat with short shrill note flits by,
And the night-raven's scream came fitfully,
Borne on the hollow blast. Eager the Maid
Look'd to the shore, and now upon the bank
Leaps, joyful to escape, yet trembling still
There, a mouldering pile
Stretch'd its wide ruins, o'er the plain below
Casting a gloomy shade, save where the moon
Shone thro' its fretted windows: the dark Yew,
Withering with age, branched there its naked roots,
And there the melancholy Cypress rear'd
Its head; the earth was heav'd with many a mound,
And here and there a half-demolish'd tomb.
And now, amid the ruin's darkest shade,
The Virgin's eye beheld where pale blue flames
Rose wavering, now just gleaming from the earth,
And now in darkness drown'd. An aged man
Sat near, seated on what in long-past days
Had been some sculptur'd monument, now fallen
And half-obscured by moss, and gathered heaps
Of withered yew-leaves and earth-mouldering bones;
And shining in the ray was seen the track
Of slimy snail obscene. Composed his look,
His eye was large and rayless, and fix'd full
Upon the Maid; the blue flames on his face
Stream'd a pale light; his face was of the hue
Of death; his limbs were mantled in a shroud.
Then with a deep heart-terrifying voice,
Exclaim'd the Spectre, "Welcome to these realms,
These regions of DESPAIR! O thou whose steps
By GRIEF conducted to these sad abodes
Have pierced; welcome, welcome to this gloom
Eternal, to this everlasting night,
Where never morning darts the enlivening ray,
Where never shines the sun, but all is dark,
Dark as the bosom of their gloomy King."
So saying he arose, and by the hand
The Virgin seized with such a death-cold touch
As froze her very heart; and drawing on,
Her, to the abbey's inner ruin, led
Resistless. Thro' the broken roof the moon
Glimmer'd a scatter'd ray; the ivy twined
Round the dismantled column; imaged forms
Of Saints and warlike Chiefs, moss-canker'd now
And mutilate, lay strewn upon the ground,
With crumbled fragments, crucifixes fallen,
And rusted trophies; and amid the heap
Some monument's defaced legend spake
All human glory vain.
The loud blast roar'd
Amid the pile; and from the tower the owl
Scream'd as the tempest shook her secret nest.
He, silent, led her on, and often paus'd,
And pointed, that her eye might contemplate
At leisure the drear scene.
He dragged her on
Thro' a low iron door, down broken stairs;
Then a cold horror thro' the Maiden's frame
Crept, for she stood amid a vault, and saw,
By the sepulchral lamp's dim glaring light,
The fragments of the dead.
"Look here!" he cried,
"Damsel, look here! survey this house of Death;
O soon to tenant it! soon to increase
These trophies of mortality! for hence
Is no return. Gaze here! behold this skull,
These eyeless sockets, and these unflesh'd jaws,
That with their ghastly grinning, seem to mock
Thy perishable charms; for thus thy cheek
Must moulder. Child of Grief! shrinks not thy soul,
Viewing these horrors? trembles not thy heart
At the dread thought, that here its life's-blood soon
Now warm in life and feeling, mingle soon
With the cold clod? a thought most horrible!
So only dreadful, for reality
Is none of suffering here; here all is peace;
No nerve will throb to anguish in the grave.
Dreadful it is to think of losing life;
But having lost, knowledge of loss is not,
Therefore no ill. Haste, Maiden, to repose;
Probe deep the seat of life."
So spake DESPAIR
The vaulted roof echoed his hollow voice,
And all again was silence. Quick her heart
Panted. He drew a dagger from his breast,
And cried again, "Haste Damsel to repose!
One blow, and rest for ever!" On the Fiend
Dark scowl'd the Virgin with indignant eye,
And dash'd the dagger down. He next his heart
Replaced the murderous steel, and drew the Maid
Along the downward vault.
The damp earth gave
A dim sound as they pass'd: the tainted air
Was cold, and heavy with unwholesome dews.
"Behold!" the fiend exclaim'd, "how gradual here
The fleshly burden of mortality
Moulders to clay!" then fixing his broad eye
Full on her face, he pointed where a corpse
Lay livid; she beheld with loathing look,
The spectacle abhorr'd by living man.
"Look here!" DESPAIR pursued, "this loathsome mass
Was once as lovely, and as full of life
As, Damsel! thou art now. Those deep-sunk eyes
Once beam'd the mild light of intelligence,
And where thou seest the pamper'd flesh-worm trail,
Once the white bosom heaved. She fondly thought
That at the hallowed altar, soon the Priest
Should bless her coming union, and the torch
Its joyful lustre o'er the hall of joy,
Cast on her nuptial evening: earth to earth
That Priest consign'd her, and the funeral lamp
Glares on her cold face; for her lover went
By glory lur'd to war, and perish'd there;
Nor she endur'd to live. Ha! fades thy cheek?
Dost thou then, Maiden, tremble at the tale?
Look here! behold the youthful paramour!
The self-devoted hero!"
The Maid look'd down, and saw the well known face
Of THEODORE! in thoughts unspeakable,
Convulsed with horror, o'er her face she clasp'd
Her cold damp hands: "Shrink not," the Phantom cried,
"Gaze on! for ever gaze!" more firm he grasp'd
Her quivering arm: "this lifeless mouldering clay,
As well thou know'st, was warm with all the glow
Of Youth and Love; this is the arm that cleaved
Salisbury's proud crest, now motionless in death,
Unable to protect the ravaged frame
From the foul Offspring of Mortality
That feed on heroes. Tho' long years were thine,
Yet never more would life reanimate
This murdered man; murdered by thee! for thou
Didst lead him to the battle from his home,
Else living there in peace to good old age:
In thy defence he died: strike deep! destroy
Remorse with Life."
The Maid stood motionless,
And, wistless what she did, with trembling hand
Received the dagger. Starting then, she cried,
"Avaunt DESPAIR! Eternal Wisdom deals
Or peace to man, or misery, for his good
Alike design'd; and shall the Creature cry,
Why hast thou done this? and with impious pride
Destroy the life God gave?"
The Fiend rejoin'd,
"And thou dost deem it impious to destroy
The life God gave? What, Maiden, is the lot
Assigned to mortal man? born but to drag,
Thro' life's long pilgrimage, the wearying load
Of being; care corroded at the heart;
Assail'd by all the numerous train of ills
That flesh inherits; till at length worn out,
This is his consummation!--think again!
What, Maiden, canst thou hope from lengthen'd life
But lengthen'd sorrow? If protracted long,
Till on the bed of death thy feeble limbs
Outstretch their languid length, oh think what thoughts,
What agonizing woes, in that dread hour,
Assail the sinking heart! slow beats the pulse,
Dim grows the eye, and clammy drops bedew
The shuddering frame; then in its mightiest force,
Mightiest in impotence, the love of life
Seizes the throbbing heart, the faltering lips
Pour out the impious prayer, that fain would change
The unchangeable's decree, surrounding friends
Sob round the sufferer, wet his cheek with tears,
And all he loved in life embitters death!
Such, Maiden, are the pangs that wait the hour
Of calmest dissolution! yet weak man
Dares, in his timid piety, to live;
And veiling Fear in Superstition's garb,
He calls her Resignation!
Fond Coward! thus to make his Reason war
Against his Reason! Insect as he is,
This sport of Chance, this being of a day,
Whose whole existence the next cloud may blast,
Believes himself the care of heavenly powers,
That God regards Man, miserable Man,
And preaching thus of Power and Providence,
Will crush the reptile that may cross his path!
Fool that thou art! the Being that permits
Existence, 'gives' to man the worthless boon:
A goodly gift to those who, fortune-blest,
Bask in the sunshine of Prosperity,
And such do well to keep it. But to one
Sick at the heart with misery, and sore
With many a hard unmerited affliction,
It is a hair that chains to wretchedness
The slave who dares not burst it!
The parent, if his child should unrecall'd
Return and fall upon his neck, and cry,
Oh! the wide world is comfortless, and full
Of vacant joys and heart-consuming cares,
I can be only happy in my home
With thee--my friend!--my father! Thinkest thou,
That he would thrust him as an outcast forth?
Oh I he would clasp the truant to his heart,
And love the trespass."
Whilst he spake, his eye
Dwelt on the Maiden's cheek, and read her soul
Struggling within. In trembling doubt she stood,
Even as the wretch, whose famish'd entrails crave
Supply, before him sees the poison'd food
In greedy horror.
Yet not long the Maid
Debated, "Cease thy dangerous sophistry,
Eloquent tempter!" cried she. "Gloomy one!
What tho' affliction be my portion here,
Think'st thou I do not feel high thoughts of joy.
Of heart-ennobling joy, when I look back
Upon a life of duty well perform'd,
Then lift mine eyes to Heaven, and there in faith
Know my reward? I grant, were this life all,
Was there no morning to the tomb's long night,
If man did mingle with the senseless clod,
Himself as senseless, then wert thou indeed
A wise and friendly comforter! But, Fiend!
There is a morning to the tomb's long night,
A dawn of glory, a reward in Heaven,
He shall not gain who never merited.
If thou didst know the worth of one good deed
In life's last hour, thou would'st not bid me lose
The power to benefit; if I but save
A drowning fly, I shall not live in vain.
I have great duties, Fiend! me France expects,
Her heaven-doom'd Champion."
"Maiden, thou hast done
Thy mission here," the unbaffled Fiend replied:
"The foes are fled from Orleans: thou, perchance
Exulting in the pride of victory,
Forgettest him who perish'd! yet albeit
Thy harden'd heart forget the gallant youth;
That hour allotted canst thou not escape,
That dreadful hour, when Contumely and Shame
Shall sojourn in thy dungeon. Wretched Maid!
Destined to drain the cup of bitterness,
Even to its dregs! England's inhuman Chiefs
Shall scoff thy sorrows, black thy spotless fame,
Wit-wanton it with lewd barbarity,
And force such burning blushes to the cheek
Of Virgin modesty, that thou shalt wish
The earth might cover thee! in that last hour,
When thy bruis'd breast shall heave beneath the chains
That link thee to the stake; when o'er thy form,
Exposed unmantled, the brute multitude
Shall gaze, and thou shalt hear the ribald taunt,
More painful than the circling flames that scorch
Each quivering member; wilt thou not in vain
Then wish my friendly aid? then wish thine ear
Had drank my words of comfort? that thy hand
Had grasp'd the dagger, and in death preserved
Her glowing cheek
Blush'd crimson; her wide eye on vacancy
Was fix'd; her breath short panted. The cold Fiend,
Grasping her hand, exclaim'd, "too-timid Maid,
So long repugnant to the healing aid
My friendship proffers, now shalt thou behold
The allotted length of life."
He stamp'd the earth,
And dragging a huge coffin as his car,
Two GOULS came on, of form more fearful-foul
Than ever palsied in her wildest dream
Hag-ridden Superstition. Then DESPAIR
Seiz'd on the Maid whose curdling blood stood still.
And placed her in the seat; and on they pass'd
Adown the deep descent. A meteor light
Shot from the Daemons, as they dragg'd along
The unwelcome load, and mark'd their brethren glut
Below the vault dilates
Its ample bulk. "Look here!"--DESPAIR addrest
The shuddering Virgin, "see the dome of DEATH!"
It was a spacious cavern, hewn amid
The entrails of the earth, as tho' to form
The grave of all mankind: no eye could reach,
Tho' gifted with the Eagle's ample ken,
Its distant bounds. There, thron'd in darkness, dwelt
The unseen POWER OF DEATH.
Here stopt the GOULS,
Reaching the destin'd spot. The Fiend leapt out,
And from the coffin, as he led the Maid,
Exclaim'd, "Where never yet stood mortal man,
Thou standest: look around this boundless vault;
Observe the dole that Nature deals to man,
And learn to know thy friend."
She not replied,
Observing where the Fates their several tasks
Plied ceaseless. "Mark how short the longest web
Allowed to man! he cried; observe how soon,
Twin'd round yon never-resting wheel, they change
Their snowy hue, darkening thro' many a shade,
Till Atropos relentless shuts the sheers!"
Too true he spake, for of the countless threads,
Drawn from the heap, as white as unsunn'd snow,
Or as the lovely lilly of the vale,
Was never one beyond the little span
Of infancy untainted: few there were
But lightly tinged; more of deep crimson hue,
Or deeper sable  died. Two Genii stood,
Still as the web of Being was drawn forth,
Sprinkling their powerful drops. From ebon urn,
The one unsparing dash'd the bitter wave
Of woe; and as he dash'd, his dark-brown brow
Relax'd to a hard smile. The milder form
Shed less profusely there his lesser store;
Sometimes with tears increasing the scant boon,
Mourning the lot of man; and happy he
Who on his thread those precious drops receives;
If it be happiness to have the pulse
Throb fast with pity, and in such a world
Of wretchedness, the generous heart that aches
With anguish at the sight of human woe.
To her the Fiend, well hoping now success,
"This is thy thread! observe how short the span,
And see how copious yonder Genius pours
The bitter stream of woe." The Maiden saw
Fearless. "Now gaze!" the tempter Fiend exclaim'd,
And placed again the poniard in her hand,
For SUPERSTITION, with sulphureal torch
Stalk'd to the loom. "This, Damsel, is thy fate!
The hour draws on--now drench the dagger deep!
Now rush to happier worlds!"
The Maid replied,
"Or to prevent or change the will of Heaven,
Impious I strive not: be that will perform'd!"
May fays of Serapis,
Erudit at placide humanam per somnia mentem,
Nocturnaque quiete docet; nulloque labore
Hic tantum parta est pretiosa scientia, nullo
Excutitur studio verum. Mortalia corda
Tunc Deus iste docet, cum sunt minus apta doceri,
Cum nullum obsequium praestant, meritisque fatentur
Nil sese debere suis; tunc recta scientes
Cum nil scire valent. Non illo tempore sensus
Humanos forsan dignatur numen inire,
Cum propriis possunt per se discursibus uti,
Ne forte humana ratio divina coiret.
[Footnote 2: I have met with a singular tale to illustrate this
spiritual theory of dreams.
Guntram, King of the Franks, was liberal to the poor, and he himself
experienced the wonderful effects of divine liberality. For one day as
he was hunting in a forest he was separated from his companions and
arrived at a little stream of water with only one comrade of tried and
approved fidelity. Here he found himself opprest by drowsiness, and
reclining his head upon the servant's lap went to sleep. The servant
witnessed a wonderful thing, for he saw a little beast ('bestiolam')
creep out of the mouth of his sleeping master, and go immediately to the
streamlet, which it vainly attempted to cross. The servant drew his
sword and laid it across the water, over which the little beast easily
past and crept into a hole of a mountain on the opposite side; from
whence it made its appearance again in an hour, and returned by the same
means into the King's mouth. The King then awakened, and told his
companion that he had dreamt that he was arrived upon the bank of an
immense river, which he had crossed by a bridge of iron, and from thence
came to a mountain in which a great quantity of gold was concealed. When
the King had concluded, the servant related what he had beheld, and they
both went to examine the mountain, where upon digging they discovered an
immense weight of gold.
I stumbled upon this tale in a book entitled SPHINX
'Theologico-Philosophica. Authore Johanne Heidfeldio, Ecclesiaste
The same story is in Matthew of Westminster; it is added that Guntram
applied the treasures thus found to pious uses.
For the truth of this theory there is the evidence of a Monkish miracle.
When Thurcillus was about to follow St. Julian and visit the world of
souls, his guide said to him, "let thy body rest in the bed for thy
spirit only is about to depart with me; and lest the body should appear
dead, I will send into it a vital breath."
The body however by a strange sympathy was affected like the spirit; for
when the foul and fetid smoke that arose from tithes witheld, had nearly
suffocated Thurcillus, and made him cough twice, those who were near his
body said that it coughed twice about the same time.
[Footnote 3: The Bastille. The expression is in one of Fuller's works,
an Author from whose quaintness and ingenuity I have always found
amusement, and sometimes assistance.]
[Footnote 4: These lines strongly resemble a passage in the Pharonnida
of William Chamberlayne, a Poet who has told an interesting story in
uncouth rhymes, and mingled sublimity of thought and beauty of
expression, with the quaintest conceits, and most awkward inversions.
On a rock more high
Than Nature's common surface, she beholds
The Mansion house of Fate, which thus unfolds
Its sacred mysteries. A trine within
A quadrate placed, both these encompast in
A perfect circle was its form; but what
Its matter was, for us to wonder at,
Is undiscovered left. A Tower there stands
At every angle, where Time's fatal hands
The impartial PARCAE dwell; i' the first she sees
CLOTHO the kindest of the Destinies,
From immaterial essences to cull
The seeds of life, and of them frame the wool
For LACHESIS to spin; about her flie
Myriads of souls, that yet want flesh to lie
Warm'd with their functions in, whose strength bestows
That power by which man ripe for misery grows.
Her next of objects was that glorious tower
Where that swift-fingered Nymph that spares no hour
From mortals' service, draws the various threads
Of life in several lengths; to weary beds
Of age extending some, whilst others in
Their infancy are broke: 'some blackt in sin,
Others, the favorites of Heaven, from whence
Their origin, candid with innocence;
Some purpled in afflictions, others dyed
In sanguine pleasures': some in glittering pride
Spun to adorn the earth, whilst others wear
Rags of deformity, but knots of care
No thread was wholly free from. Next to this
Fair glorious tower, was placed that black abyss
Of dreadful ATROPOS, the baleful seat
Of death and horrour, in each room repleat
With lazy damps, loud groans, and the sad sight
Of pale grim Ghosts, those terrours of the night.
To this, the last stage that the winding clew
Of Life can lead mortality unto,
FEAR was the dreadful Porter, which let in
All guests sent thither by destructive sin.
It is possible that I may have written from the recollection of this
passage. The conceit is the same, and I willingly attribute it to
Chamberlayne, a Poet to whom I am indebted for many hours of delight,
and whom I one day hope to rescue from undeserved oblivion.]
THE VISION of THE MAID OF ORLEANS.
THE SECOND BOOK.
She spake, and lo! celestial radiance beam'd
Amid the air, such odors wafting now
As erst came blended with the evening gale,
From Eden's bowers of bliss. An angel form
Stood by the Maid; his wings, etherial white,
Flash'd like the diamond in the noon-tide sun,
Dazzling her mortal eye: all else appear'd
Amazed she saw: the Fiend
Was fled, and on her ear the well-known voice
Sounded, tho' now more musically sweet
Than ever yet had thrill'd her charmed soul,
When eloquent Affection fondly told
The day-dreams of delight.
Lo! I am with thee! still thy Theodore!
Hearts in the holy bands of Love combin'd,
Death has no power to sever. Thou art mine!
A little while and thou shalt dwell with me
In scenes where Sorrow is not. Cheerily
Tread thou the path that leads thee to the grave,
Rough tho' it be and painful, for the grave
Is but the threshold of Eternity.
Favour'd of Heaven! to thee is given to view
These secret realms. The bottom of the abyss
Thou treadest, Maiden! Here the dungeons are
Where bad men learn repentance; souls diseased
Must have their remedy; and where disease
Is rooted deep, the remedy is long
Perforce, and painful."
Thus the Spirit spake,
And led the Maid along a narrow path,
Dark gleaming to the light of far-off flames,
More dread than darkness. Soon the distant sound
Of clanking anvils, and the lengthened breath
Provoking fire are heard: and now they reach
A wide expanded den where all around
Tremendous furnaces, with hellish blaze,
Flamed dreadful. At the heaving bellows stood
The meagre form of Care, and as he blew
To augment the fire, the fire augmented scorch'd
His wretched limbs: sleepless for ever thus
He toil'd and toil'd, of toil to reap no end
But endless toil and never-ending woe.
An aged man went round the infernal vault,
Urging his workmen to their ceaseless task:
White were his locks, as is the wintry snow
On hoar Plinlimmon's head. A golden staff
His steps supported; powerful talisman,
Which whoso feels shall never feel again
The tear of Pity, or the throb of Love.
Touch'd but by this, the massy gates give way,
The buttress trembles, and the guarded wall,
Guarded in vain, submits. Him heathens erst
Had deified, and bowed the suppliant knee
To Plutus. Nor are now his votaries few,
Tho' he the Blessed Teacher of mankind
Hath said, that easier thro' the needle's eye
Shall the huge camel  pass, than the rich man
Enter the gates of heaven. "Ye cannot serve
Your God, and worship Mammon."
So spake the Angel, "know that these, whose hands
Round each white furnace ply the unceasing toil,
Were Mammon's slaves on earth. They did not spare
To wring from Poverty the hard-earn'd mite,
They robb'd the orphan's pittance, they could see
Want's asking eye unmoved; and therefore these,
Ranged round the furnace, still must persevere
In Mammon's service; scorched by these fierce fires,
And frequent deluged by the o'erboiling ore:
Yet still so framed, that oft to quench their thirst
Unquenchable, large draughts of molten  gold
They drink insatiate, still with pain renewed,
Pain to destroy."
So saying, her he led
Forth from the dreadful cavern to a cell,
Brilliant with gem-born light. The rugged walls
Part gleam'd with gold, and part with silver ore
A milder radiance shone. The Carbuncle
There its strong lustre like the flamy sun
Shot forth irradiate; from the earth beneath,
And from the roof a diamond light emits;
Rubies and amethysts their glows commix'd
With the gay topaz, and the softer ray
Shot from the sapphire, and the emerald's hue,
And bright pyropus.
There on golden seats,
A numerous, sullen, melancholy train
Sat silent. "Maiden, these," said Theodore,
Are they who let the love of wealth absorb
All other passions; in their souls that vice
Struck deeply-rooted, like the poison-tree
That with its shade spreads barrenness around.
These, Maid! were men by no atrocious crime
Blacken'd, no fraud, nor ruffian violence:
Men of fair dealing, and respectable
On earth, but such as only for themselves
Heap'd up their treasures, deeming all their wealth
Their own, and given to them, by partial Heaven,
To bless them only: therefore here they sit,
Possessed of gold enough, and by no pain
Tormented, save the knowledge of the bliss
They lost, and vain repentance. Here they dwell,
Loathing these useless treasures, till the hour
Of general restitution."
Thence they past,
And now arrived at such a gorgeous dome,
As even the pomp of Eastern opulence
Could never equal: wandered thro' its halls
A numerous train; some with the red-swoln eye
Of riot, and intemperance-bloated cheek;
Some pale and nerveless, and with feeble step,
And eyes lack-lustre.
Maiden? said her guide,
These are the wretched slaves of Appetite,
Curst with their wish enjoyed. The epicure
Here pampers his foul frame, till the pall'd sense
Loaths at the banquet; the voluptuous here
Plunge in the tempting torrent of delight,
And sink in misery. All they wish'd on earth,
Possessing here, whom have they to accuse,
But their own folly, for the lot they chose?
Yet, for that these injured themselves alone,
They to the house of PENITENCE may hie,
And, by a long and painful regimen,
To wearied Nature her exhausted powers
Restore, till they shall learn to form the wish
Of wisdom, and ALMIGHTY GOODNESS grants
That prize to him who seeks it."
Whilst he spake,
The board is spread. With bloated paunch, and eye
Fat swoln, and legs whose monstrous size disgraced
The human form divine, their caterer,
Hight GLUTTONY, set forth the smoaking feast.
And by his side came on a brother form,
With fiery cheek of purple hue, and red
And scurfy-white, mix'd motley; his gross bulk,
Like some huge hogshead shapen'd, as applied.
Him had antiquity with mystic rites
Ador'd, to him the sons of Greece, and thine
Imperial Rome, on many an altar pour'd
The victim blood, with godlike titles graced,
BACCHUS, or DIONUSUS; son of JOVE,
Deem'd falsely, for from FOLLY'S ideot form
He sprung, what time MADNESS, with furious hand,
Seiz'd on the laughing female. At one birth
She brought the brethren, menial here, above
Reigning with sway supreme, and oft they hold
High revels: mid the Monastery's gloom,
The sacrifice is spread, when the grave voice
Episcopal, proclaims approaching day
Of visitation, or Churchwardens meet
To save the wretched many from the gripe
Of eager Poverty, or mid thy halls
Of London, mighty Mayor! rich Aldermen,
Of coming feast hold converse.
For tho' allied in nature as in blood,
They hold divided sway, his brother lifts
His spungy sceptre. In the noble domes
Of Princes, and state-wearied Ministers,
Maddening he reigns; and when the affrighted mind
Casts o'er a long career of guilt and blood
Its eye reluctant, then his aid is sought
To lull the worm of Conscience to repose.
He too the halls of country Squires frequents,
But chiefly loves the learned gloom that shades
Thy offspring Rhedycina! and thy walls,
Granta! nightly libations there to him
Profuse are pour'd, till from the dizzy brain
Triangles, Circles, Parallelograms,
Moods, Tenses, Dialects, and Demigods,
And Logic and Theology are swept
By the red deluge.
He reigns; till comes at length the general feast,
Septennial sacrifice; then when the sons
Of England meet, with watchful care to chuse
Their delegates, wise, independent men,
Unbribing and unbrib'd, and cull'd to guard
Their rights and charters from the encroaching grasp
Of greedy Power: then all the joyful land
Join in his sacrifices, so inspir'd
To make the important choice.
The observing Maid
Address'd her guide, "These Theodore, thou sayest
Are men, who pampering their foul appetites,
Injured themselves alone. But where are they,
The worst of villains, viper-like, who coil
Around the guileless female, so to sting
The heart that loves them?"
"Them," the spirit replied,
A long and dreadful punishment awaits.
For when the prey of want and infamy,
Lower and lower still the victim sinks,
Even to the depth of shame, not one lewd word,
One impious imprecation from her lips
Escapes, nay not a thought of evil lurks
In the polluted mind, that does not plead
Before the throne of Justice, thunder-tongued
Against the foul Seducer."
Now they reach'd
The house of PENITENCE. CREDULITY
Stood at the gate, stretching her eager head
As tho' to listen; on her vacant face,
A smile that promis'd premature assent;
Tho' her REGRET behind, a meagre Fiend,
Here they entered in,
And now arrived where, as in study tranced,
She sat, the Mistress of the Dome. Her face
Spake that composed severity, that knows
No angry impulse, no weak tenderness,
Resolved and calm. Before her lay that Book
That hath the words of Life; and as she read,
Sometimes a tear would trickle down her cheek,
Tho' heavenly joy beam'd in her eye the while.
Leaving her undisturb'd, to the first ward
Of this great Lazar-house, the Angel led
The favour'd Maid of Orleans. Kneeling down
On the hard stone that their bare knees had worn,
In sackcloth robed, a numerous train appear'd:
Hard-featured some, and some demurely grave;
Yet such expression stealing from the eye,
As tho', that only naked, all the rest
Was one close fitting mask. A scoffing Fiend,
For Fiend he was, tho' wisely serving here
Mock'd at his patients, and did often pour
Ashes upon them, and then bid them say
Their prayers aloud, and then he louder laughed:
For these were Hypocrites, on earth revered
As holy ones, who did in public tell
Their beads, and make long prayers, and cross themselves,
And call themselves most miserable sinners,
That so they might be deem'd most pious saints;
And go all filth, and never let a smile
Bend their stern muscles, gloomy, sullen men,
Barren of all affection, and all this
To please their God, forsooth! and therefore SCORN
Grinn'd at his patients, making them repeat
Their solemn farce, with keenest raillery
Tormenting; but if earnest in their prayer,
They pour'd the silent sorrows of the soul
To Heaven, then did they not regard his mocks
Which then came painless, and HUMILITY
Soon rescued them, and led to PENITENCE,
That She might lead to Heaven.
From thence they came,
Where, in the next ward, a most wretched band
Groan'd underneath the bitter tyranny
Of a fierce Daemon. His coarse hair was red,
Pale grey his eyes, and blood-shot; and his face
Wrinkled by such a smile as Malice wears
In ecstacy. Well-pleased he went around,
Plunging his dagger in the hearts of some,
Or probing with a poison'd lance their breasts,
Or placing coals of fire within their wounds;
Or seizing some within his mighty grasp,
He fix'd them on a stake, and then drew back,
And laugh'd to see them writhe.
"These," said the Spirit,
Are taught by CRUELTY, to loath the lives
They led themselves. Here are those wicked men
Who loved to exercise their tyrant power
On speechless brutes; bad husbands undergo
A long purgation here; the traffickers
In human flesh here too are disciplined.
Till by their suffering they have equall'd all
The miseries they inflicted, all the mass
Of wretchedness caused by the wars they waged,
The towns they burnt, for they who bribe to war
Are guilty of the blood, the widows left
In want, the slave or led to suicide,
Or murdered by the foul infected air
Of his close dungeon, or more sad than all,
His virtue lost, his very soul enslaved,
And driven by woe to wickedness.
Whom thou beholdest in this dreary room,
So sullen, and with such an eye of hate
Each on the other scowling, these have been
False friends. Tormented by their own dark thoughts
Here they dwell: in the hollow of their hearts
There is a worm that feeds, and tho' thou seest
That skilful leech who willingly would heal
The ill they suffer, judging of all else
By their own evil standard, they suspect
The aid be vainly proffers, lengthening thus
By vice its punishment."
"But who are these,"
The Maid exclaim'd, "that robed in flowing lawn,
And mitred, or in scarlet, and in caps
Like Cardinals, I see in every ward,
Performing menial service at the beck
Of all who bid them?"
These men are they who in the name of CHRIST
Did heap up wealth, and arrogating power,
Did make men bow the knee, and call themselves
Most Reverend Graces and Right Reverend Lords.
They dwelt in palaces, in purple clothed,
And in fine linen: therefore are they here;
And tho' they would not minister on earth,
Here penanced they perforce must minister:
For he, the lowly man of Nazareth,
Hath said, his kingdom is not of the world."
So Saying on they past, and now arrived
Where such a hideous ghastly groupe abode,
That the Maid gazed with half-averting eye,
And shudder'd: each one was a loathly corpse,
The worm did banquet on his putrid prey,
Yet had they life and feeling exquisite
Tho' motionless and mute.
"Most wretched men
Are these, the angel cried. These, JOAN, are bards,
Whose loose lascivious lays perpetuate
Who sat them down, deliberately lewd,
So to awake and pamper lust in minds
Unborn; and therefore foul of body now
As then they were of soul, they here abide
Long as the evil works they left on earth
Shall live to taint mankind. A dreadful doom!
Yet amply merited by that bad man
Who prostitutes the sacred gift of song!"
And now they reached a huge and massy pile,
Massy it seem'd, and yet in every blast
As to its ruin shook. There, porter fit,
REMORSE for ever his sad vigils kept.
Pale, hollow-eyed, emaciate, sleepless wretch.
Inly he groan'd, or, starting, wildly shriek'd,
Aye as the fabric tottering from its base,
Threatened its fall, and so expectant still
Lived in the dread of danger still delayed.
They enter'd there a large and lofty dome,
O'er whose black marble sides a dim drear light
Struggled with darkness from the unfrequent lamp.
Enthroned around, the MURDERERS OF MANKIND,
Monarchs, the great! the glorious! the august!
Each bearing on his brow a crown of fire,
Sat stern and silent. Nimrod he was there,
First King the mighty hunter; and that Chief
Who did belie his mother's fame, that so
He might be called young Ammon. In this court
Caesar was crown'd, accurst liberticide;
And he who murdered Tully, that cold villain,
Octavius, tho' the courtly minion's lyre
Hath hymn'd his praise, tho' Maro sung to him,
And when Death levelled to original clay
The royal carcase, FLATTERY, fawning low,
Fell at his feet, and worshipped the new God.
Titus  was here, the Conqueror of the Jews,
He the Delight of human-kind misnamed;
Caesars and Soldans, Emperors and Kings,
Here they were all, all who for glory fought,
Here in the COURT OF GLORY, reaping now
The meed they merited.
As gazing round
The Virgin mark'd the miserable train,
A deep and hollow voice from one went forth;
"Thou who art come to view our punishment,
Maiden of Orleans! hither turn thine eyes,
For I am he whose bloody victories
Thy power hath rendered vain. Lo! I am here,
The hero conqueror of Azincour,
HENRY OF ENGLAND!--wretched that I am,
I might have reigned in happiness and peace,
My coffers full, my subjects undisturb'd,
And PLENTY and PROSPERITY had loved
To dwell amongst them: but mine eye beheld
The realm of France, by faction tempest-torn,
And therefore I did think that it would fall
An easy prey. I persecuted those
Who taught new doctrines, tho' they taught the truth:
And when I heard of thousands by the sword
Cut off, or blasted by the pestilence,
I calmly counted up my proper gains,
And sent new herds to slaughter. Temperate
Myself, no blood that mutinied, no vice
Tainting my private life, I sent abroad
MURDER and RAPE; and therefore am I doom'd,
Like these imperial Sufferers, crown'd with fire,
Here to remain, till Man's awaken'd eye
Shall see the genuine blackness of our deeds,
And warn'd by them, till the whole human race,
Equalling in bliss the aggregate we caus'd
Of wretchedness, shall form ONE BROTHERHOOD,
ONE UNIVERSAL FAMILY OF LOVE."
[Footnote 1: In the former edition I had substituted 'cable' instead of
'camel'. The alteration would not be worth noticing were it not for the
circumstance which occasioned it. 'Facilius elephas per foramen acus',
is among the Hebrew adages collected by Drusius; the same metaphor is
found in two other Jewish proverbs, and this appears to determine the
signification of [Greek (transliterated): chamaelos]. Matt. 19. 24.]
[Footnote 2: The same idea, and almost the same words are in an old play
by John Ford. The passage is a very fine one:
Ay, you are wretched, miserably wretched,
Almost condemn'd alive! There is a place,
(List daughter!) in a black and hollow vault,
Where day is never seen; there shines no sun,
But flaming horror of consuming fires;
A lightless sulphur, choak'd with smoaky foggs
Of an infected darkness. In this place
Dwell many thousand thousand sundry sorts
Of never-dying deaths; there damned souls
Roar without pity, there are gluttons fed
With toads and adders; there is burning oil
Pour'd down the drunkard's throat, 'the usurer
Is forced to sup whole draughts of molten gold';
There is the murderer for ever stabb'd,
Yet can he never die; there lies the wanton
On racks of burning steel, whilst in his soul
He feels the torment of his raging lust.
''Tis Pity she's a Whore.'
I wrote this passage when very young, and the idea, trite as it is, was
new to me. It occurs I believe in most descriptions of hell, and perhaps
owes its origin to the fate of Crassus.
After this picture of horrors, the reader may perhaps be pleased with
one more pleasantly fanciful:
O call me home again dear Chief! and put me
To yoking foxes, milking of he-goats,
Pounding of water in a mortar, laving
The sea dry with a nutshell, gathering all
The leaves are fallen this autumn--making ropes of sand,
Catching the winds together in a net,
Mustering of ants, and numbering atoms, all
That Hell and you thought exquisite torments, rather
Than stay me here a thought more. I would sooner
Keep fleas within a circle, and be accomptant
A thousand year which of 'em, and how far
Outleap'd the other, than endure a minute
Such as I have within.
B. JONSON. 'The Devil is an Ass.']
[Footnote 3: During the siege of Jerusalem, "the Roman commander, 'with
a generous clemency, that inseparable attendant on true heroism,
'laboured incessantly, and to the very last moment, to preserve the
place. With this view, he again and again intreated the tyrants to
surrender and save their lives. With the same view also, after carrying
the second wall the siege was intermitted four days: to rouse their
fears, 'prisoners, to the number of five hundred, or more were crucified
daily before the walls; till space', Josephus says, 'was wanting for the
crosses, and crosses for the captives'."
From the Hampton Lectures of RALPH CHURTON.
If any of my readers should enquire why Titus Vespasian, the Delight of
Mankind, is placed in such a situation,--I answer, for "HIS GENEROUS
CLEMENCY, THAT INSEPARABLE ATTENDANT ON TRUE HEROISM!]
THE VISION of THE MAID OF ORLEANS.
THE THIRD BOOK.
The Maiden, musing on the Warrior's words,
Turn'd from the Hall of Glory. Now they reach'd
A cavern, at whose mouth a Genius stood,
In front a beardless youth, whose smiling eye
Beam'd promise, but behind, withered and old,
And all unlovely. Underneath his feet
Lay records trampled, and the laurel wreath
Now rent and faded: in his hand he held
An hour-glass, and as fall the restless sands,
So pass the lives of men. By him they past
Along the darksome cave, and reach'd a stream,
Still rolling onward its perpetual waves,
Noiseless and undisturbed. Here they ascend
A Bark unpiloted, that down the flood,
Borne by the current, rush'd. The circling stream,
Returning to itself, an island form'd;
Nor had the Maiden's footsteps ever reach'd
The insulated coast, eternally
Rapt round the endless course; but Theodore
Drove with an angel's will the obedient bark.
They land, a mighty fabric meets their eyes,
Seen by its gem-born light. Of adamant
The pile was framed, for ever to abide
Firm in eternal strength. Before the gate
Stood eager EXPECTATION, as to list
The half-heard murmurs issuing from within,
Her mouth half-open'd, and her head stretch'd forth.
On the other side there stood an aged Crone,
Listening to every breath of air; she knew
Vague suppositions and uncertain dreams,
Of what was soon to come, for she would mark
The paley glow-worm's self-created light,
And argue thence of kingdoms overthrown,
And desolated nations; ever fill'd
With undetermin'd terror, as she heard
Or distant screech-owl, or the regular beat
Of evening death-watch.
"Maid," the Spirit cried,
Here, robed in shadows, dwells FUTURITY.
There is no eye hath seen her secret form,
For round the MOTHER OF TIME, unpierced mists
Aye hover. Would'st thou read the book of Fate,
The Damsel for a moment paus'd,
Then to the Angel spake: "All-gracious Heaven!
Benignant in withholding, hath denied
To man that knowledge. I, in faith assured,
That he, my heavenly Father, for the best
Ordaineth all things, in that faith remain
"Well and wisely hast thou said,
So Theodore replied; "and now O Maid!
Is there amid this boundless universe
One whom thy soul would visit? is there place
To memory dear, or visioned out by hope,
Where thou would'st now be present? form the wish,
And I am with thee, there."
His closing speech
Yet sounded on her ear, and lo! they stood
Swift as the sudden thought that guided them,
Within the little cottage that she loved.
"He sleeps! the good man sleeps!" enrapt she cried,
As bending o'er her Uncle's lowly bed
Her eye retraced his features. "See the beads
That never morn nor night he fails to tell,
Remembering me, his child, in every prayer.
Oh! quiet be thy sleep, thou dear old man!
Good Angels guard thy rest! and when thine hour
Is come, as gently mayest thou wake to life,
As when thro' yonder lattice the next sun
Shall bid thee to thy morning orisons!
Thy voice is heard, the Angel guide rejoin'd,
He sees thee in his dreams, he hears thee breathe
Blessings, and pleasant is the good man's rest.
Thy fame has reached him, for who has not heard
Thy wonderous exploits? and his aged heart
Hath felt the deepest joy that ever yet
Made his glad blood flow fast. Sleep on old Claude!
Peaceful, pure Spirit, be thy sojourn here,
And short and soon thy passage to that world
Where friends shall part no more!
"Does thy soul own
No other wish? or sleeps poor Madelon
Forgotten in her grave? seest thou yon star,"
The Spirit pursued, regardless of her eye
That look'd reproach; "seest thou that evening star
Whose lovely light so often we beheld
From yonder woodbine porch? how have we gazed
Into the dark deep sky, till the baffled soul,
Lost in the infinite, returned, and felt
The burthen of her bodily load, and yearned
For freedom! Maid, in yonder evening slar
Lives thy departed friend. I read that glance,
And we are there!"
He said and they had past
The immeasurable space.
Then on her ear
The lonely song of adoration rose,
Sweet as the cloister'd virgins vesper hymn,
Whose spirit, happily dead to earthly hopes
Already lives in Heaven. Abrupt the song
Ceas'd, tremulous and quick a cry
Of joyful wonder rous'd the astonish'd Maid,
And instant Madelon was in her arms;
No airy form, no unsubstantial shape,
She felt her friend, she prest her to her heart,
Their tears of rapture mingled.
She drew back
And eagerly she gazed on Madelon,
Then fell upon her neck again and wept.
No more she saw the long-drawn lines of grief,
The emaciate form, the hue of sickliness,
The languid eye: youth's loveliest freshness now
Mantled her cheek, whose every lineament
Bespake the soul at rest, a holy calm,
A deep and full tranquillity of bliss.
"Thou then art come, my first and dearest friend!"
The well known voice of Madelon began,
"Thou then art come! and was thy pilgrimage
So short on earth? and was it painful too,
Painful and short as mine? but blessed they
Who from the crimes and miseries of the world
"Nay," Theodore replied,
She hath not yet fulfill'd her mortal work.
Permitted visitant from earth she comes
To see the seat of rest, and oftentimes
In sorrow shall her soul remember this,
And patient of the transitory woe
Partake the anticipated peace again."
"Soon be that work perform'd!" the Maid exclaimed,
"O Madelon! O Theodore! my soul,
Spurning the cold communion of the world,
Will dwell with you! but I shall patiently,
Yea even with joy, endure the allotted ills
Of which the memory in this better state
Shall heighten bliss. That hour of agony,
When, Madelon, I felt thy dying grasp,
And from thy forehead wiped the dews of death,
The very horrors of that hour assume
A shape that now delights."
"O earliest friend!
I too remember," Madelon replied,
"That hour, thy looks of watchful agony,
The suppressed grief that struggled in thine eye
Endearing love's last kindness. Thou didst know
With what a deep and melancholy joy
I felt the hour draw on: but who can speak
The unutterable transport, when mine eyes,
As from a long and dreary dream, unclosed
Amid this peaceful vale, unclos'd on him,
My Arnaud! he had built me up a bower,
A bower of rest.--See, Maiden, where he comes,
His manly lineaments, his beaming eye
The same, but now a holier innocence
Sits on his cheek, and loftier thoughts illume
The enlighten'd glance."
They met, what joy was theirs
He best can feel, who for a dear friend dead
Has wet the midnight pillow with his tears.
Fair was the scene around; an ample vale
Whose mountain circle at the distant verge
Lay softened on the sight; the near ascent
Rose bolder up, in part abrupt and bare,
Part with the ancient majesty of woods
Adorn'd, or lifting high its rocks sublime.
The river's liquid radiance roll'd beneath,
Beside the bower of Madelon it wound
A broken stream, whose shallows, tho' the waves
Roll'd on their way with rapid melody,
A child might tread. Behind, an orange grove
Its gay green foliage starr'd with golden fruit;
But with what odours did their blossoms load
The passing gale of eve! less thrilling sweet
Rose from the marble's perforated floor,
Where kneeling at her prayers, the Moorish queen
Inhaled the cool delight,  and whilst she asked
The Prophet for his promised paradise,
Shaped from the present scene its utmost joys.
A goodly scene! fair as that faery land
Where Arthur lives, by ministering spirits borne
From Camlan's bloody banks; or as the groves
Of earliest Eden, where, so legends say,
Enoch abides, and he who rapt away
By fiery steeds, and chariotted in fire,
Past in his mortal form the eternal ways;
And John, beloved of Christ, enjoying there
The beatific vision, sometimes seen
The distant dawning of eternal day,
Till all things be fulfilled.
"Survey this scene!"
So Theodore address'd the Maid of Arc,
"There is no evil here, no wretchedness,
It is the Heaven of those who nurst on earth
Their nature's gentlest feelings. Yet not here
Centering their joys, but with a patient hope,
Waiting the allotted hour when capable
Of loftier callings, to a better state
They pass; and hither from that better state
Frequent they come, preserving so those ties
That thro' the infinite progressiveness
Complete our perfect bliss.
"Even such, so blest,
Save that the memory of no sorrows past
Heightened the present joy, our world was once,
In the first aera of its innocence
Ere man had learnt to bow the knee to man.
Was there a youth whom warm affection fill'd,
He spake his honest heart; the earliest fruits
His toil produced, the sweetest flowers that deck'd
The sunny bank, he gather'd for the maid,
Nor she disdain'd the gift; for VICE not yet
Had burst the dungeons of her hell, and rear'd
Those artificial boundaries that divide
Man from his species. State of blessedness!
Till that ill-omen'd hour when Cain's stern son
Delved in the bowels of the earth for gold,
Accursed bane of virtue! of such force
As poets feign dwelt in the Gorgon's locks,
Which whoso saw, felt instant the life-blood
Cold curdle in his veins, the creeping flesh
Grew stiff with horror, and the heart forgot
To beat. Accursed hour! for man no more
To JUSTICE paid his homage, but forsook
Her altars, and bow'd down before the shrine
Of WEALTH and POWER, the Idols he had made.
Then HELL enlarged herself, her gates flew wide,
Her legion fiends rush'd forth. OPPRESSION came
Whose frown is desolation, and whose breath
Blasts like the Pestilence; and POVERTY,
A meagre monster, who with withering touch
Makes barren all the better part of man,
MOTHER OF MISERIES. Then the goodly earth
Which God had fram'd for happiness, became
One theatre of woe, and all that God
Had given to bless free men, these tyrant fiends
His bitterest curses made. Yet for the best
Hath he ordained all things, the ALL-WISE!
For by experience rous'd shall man at length
Dash down his Moloch-Idols, Samson-like
And burst his fetters, only strong whilst strong
Believed. Then in the bottomless abyss
OPPRESSION shall be chain'd, and POVERTY
Die, and with her, her brood of Miseries;
And VIRTUE and EQUALITY preserve
The reign of LOVE, and Earth shall once again
Be Paradise, whilst WISDOM shall secure
The state of bliss which IGNORANCE betrayed."
"Oh age of happiness!" the Maid exclaim'd,
Roll fast thy current, Time till that blest age
Arrive! and happy thou my Theodore,
Permitted thus to see the sacred depths
"Such," the blessed Spirit replied,
Beloved! such our lot; allowed to range
The vast infinity, progressive still
In knowledge and encreasing blessedness,
This our united portion. Thou hast yet
A little while to sojourn amongst men:
I will be with thee! there shall not a breeze
Wanton around thy temples, on whose wing
I will not hover near! and at that hour
When from its fleshly sepulchre let loose,
Thy phoenix soul shall soar, O best-beloved!
I will be with thee in thine agonies,
And welcome thee to life and happiness,
Eternal infinite beatitude!"
He spake, and led her near a straw-roof'd cot,
LOVE'S Palace. By the Virtues circled there,
The cherub listen'd to such melodies,
As aye, when one good deed is register'd
Above, re-echo in the halls of Heaven.
LABOUR was there, his crisp locks floating loose,
Clear was his cheek, and beaming his full eye,
And strong his arm robust; the wood-nymph HEALTH
Still follow'd on his path, and where he trod
Fresh flowers and fruits arose. And there was HOPE,
The general friend; and PITY, whose mild eye
Wept o'er the widowed dove; and, loveliest form,
Majestic CHASTITY, whose sober smile
Delights and awes the soul; a laurel wreath
Restrain'd her tresses, and upon her breast
The snow-drop  hung its head, that seem'd to grow
Spontaneous, cold and fair: still by the maid
LOVE went submiss, wilh eye more dangerous
Than fancied basilisk to wound whoe'er
Too bold approached; yet anxious would he read
Her every rising wish, then only pleased
When pleasing. Hymning him the song was rais'd.
"Glory to thee whose vivifying power
Pervades all Nature's universal frame!
Glory to thee CREATOR LOVE! to thee,
Parent of all the smiling CHARITIES,
That strew the thorny path of Life with flowers!
Glory to thee PRESERVER! to thy praise
The awakened woodlands echo all the day
Their living melody; and warbling forth
To thee her twilight song, the Nightingale
Holds the lone Traveller from his way, or charms
The listening Poet's ear. Where LOVE shall deign
To fix his seat, there blameless PLEASURE sheds
Her roseate dews; CONTENT will sojourn there,
And HAPPINESS behold AFFECTION'S eye
Gleam with the Mother's smile. Thrice happy he
Who feels thy holy power! he shall not drag,
Forlorn and friendless, along Life's long path
To Age's drear abode; he shall not waste
The bitter evening of his days unsooth'd;
But HOPE shall cheer his hours of Solitude,
And VICE shall vainly strive to wound his breast,
That bears that talisman; and when he meets
The eloquent eye of TENDERNESS, and hears
The bosom-thrilling music of her voice;
The joy he feels shall purify his Soul,
And imp it for anticipated Heaven."
[Footnote 1: In the cabinet of the Alhambra where the Queen used to
dress and say her prayers, and which is still an enchanting sight, there
is a slab of marble full of small holes, through which perfumes exhaled
that were kept constantly burning beneath. The doors and windows are
disposed so as to afford the most agreeable prospects, and to throw a
soft yet lively light upon the eyes. Fresh currents of air too are
admitted, so as to renew every instant the delicious coolness of this
(From the sketch of the History of the Spanish Moors, prefixed to
Florian's Gonsalvo of Cordova).]
[Footnote 2: "The grave matron does not perceive how time has impaired
her charms, but decks her faded bosom with the same snow-drop that seems
to grow on the breast of the Virgin." P.H.]
Betwene the Cytee and the Chirche of Bethlehem, is the felde Floridus,
that is to seyne, the feld florisched. For als moche as a fayre Mayden
was blamed with wrong and sclaundred, that sche hadde don
fornicacioun, for whiche cause sche was demed to the dethe, and to be
brent in that place, to the whiche sche was ladd. And as the fyre
began to brenne about hire, she made hire preyeres to oure Lord, that
als wissely as sche was not gylty of that synne, that he wold help
hire, and make it to be knowen to alle men of his mercyfulle grace;
and whanne she had thus seyd, sche entered into the fuyer, and anon
was the fuyer quenched and oute, and the brondes that weren brennynge,
becomen white Roseres, fulle of roses, and theise weren the first
Roseres and roses, bothe white and rede, that evere ony man saughe.
And thus was this Maiden saved be the Grace of God.
'The Voiage and Travaile of Sir John Maundevile'.
Nay EDITH! spare the rose!--it lives--it lives,
It feels the noon-tide sun, and drinks refresh'd
The dews of night; let not thy gentle hand
Tear sunder its life-fibres and destroy
The sense of being!--why that infidel smile?
Come, I will bribe thee to be merciful,
And thou shall have a tale of other times,
For I am skill'd in legendary lore,
So thou wilt let it live. There was a time
Ere this, the freshest sweetest flower that blooms,
Bedeck'd the bowers of earth. Thou hast not heard
How first by miracle its fragrant leaves
Spread to the sun their blushing loveliness.
There dwelt at Bethlehem a Jewish maid
And Zillah was her name, so passing fair
That all Judea spake the damsel's praise.
He who had seen her eyes' dark radiance
How quick it spake the soul, and what a soul
Beam'd in its mild effulgence, woe was he!
For not in solitude, for not in crowds,
Might he escape remembrance, or avoid
Her imaged form that followed every where,
And fill'd the heart, and fix'd the absent eye.
Woe was he, for her bosom own'd no love
Save the strong ardours of religious zeal,
For Zillah on her God had centered all
Her spirit's deep affections. So for her
Her tribes-men sigh'd in vain, yet reverenced
The obdurate virtue that destroyed their hopes.
One man there was, a vain and wretched man,
Who saw, desired, despair'd, and hated her.
His sensual eye had gloated on her cheek
Even till the flush of angry modesty
Gave it new charms, and made him gloat the more.
She loath'd the man, for Hamuel's eye was bold,
And the strong workings of brute selfishness
Had moulded his broad features; and she fear'd
The bitterness of wounded vanity
That with a fiendish hue would overcast
His faint and lying smile. Nor vain her fear,
For Hamuel vowed revenge and laid a plot
Against her virgin fame. He spread abroad
Whispers that travel fast, and ill reports
That soon obtain belief; that Zillah's eye
When in the temple heaven-ward it was rais'd
Did swim with rapturous zeal, but there were those
Who had beheld the enthusiast's melting glance
With other feelings fill'd; that 'twas a task
Of easy sort to play the saint by day
Before the public eye, but that all eyes
Were closed at night; that Zillah's life was foul,
Yea forfeit to the law.
Shame--shame to man
That he should trust so easily the tongue
That stabs another's fame! the ill report
Was heard, repeated, and believed,--and soon,
For Hamuel by most damned artifice
Produced such semblances of guilt, the Maid
Was judged to shameful death.
Without the walls
There was a barren field; a place abhorr'd,
For it was there where wretched criminals
Were done to die; and there they built the stake,
And piled the fuel round, that should consume
The accused Maid, abandon'd, as it seem'd,
By God and man. The assembled Bethlemites
Beheld the scene, and when they saw the Maid
Bound to the stake, with what calm holiness
She lifted up her patient looks to Heaven,
They doubted of her guilt. With other thoughts
Stood Hamuel near the pile, him savage joy
Led thitherward, but now within his heart
Unwonted feelings stirr'd, and the first pangs
Of wakening guilt, anticipating Hell.
The eye of Zillah as it glanced around
Fell on the murderer once, but not in wrath;
And therefore like a dagger it had fallen,
Had struck into his soul a cureless wound.
Conscience! thou God within us! not in the hour
Of triumph, dost thou spare the guilty wretch,
Not in the hour of infamy and death
Forsake the virtuous! they draw near the stake--
And lo! the torch! hold hold your erring hands!
Yet quench the rising flames!--they rise! they spread!
They reach the suffering Maid! oh God protect
The innocent one!
They rose, they spread, they raged--
The breath of God went forth; the ascending fire
Beneath its influence bent, and all its flames
In one long lightning flash collecting fierce,
Darted and blasted Hamuel--him alone.
Hark--what a fearful scream the multitude
Pour forth!--and yet more miracles! the stake
Buds out, and spreads its light green leaves and bowers
The innocent Maid, and roses bloom around,
Now first beheld since Paradise was lost,
And fill with Eden odours all the air.
The COMPLAINTS of the POOR.
And wherefore do the Poor complain?
The rich man asked of me,--
Come walk abroad with me, I said
And I will answer thee.
Twas evening and the frozen streets
Were cheerless to behold,
And we were wrapt and coated well,
And yet we were a-cold.
We met an old bare-headed man,
His locks were few and white,
I ask'd him what he did abroad
In that cold winter's night:
'Twas bitter keen indeed, he said,
But at home no fire had he,
And therefore, he had come abroad
To ask for charity.
We met a young bare-footed child,
And she begg'd loud and bold,
I ask'd her what she did abroad
When the wind it blew so cold;
She said her father was at home
And he lay sick a-bed,
And therefore was it she was sent
Abroad to beg for bread.
We saw a woman sitting down
Upon a stone to rest,
She had a baby at her back
And another at her breast;
I ask'd her why she loiter'd there
When the wind it was so chill;
She turn'd her head and bade the child
That scream'd behind be still.
She told us that her husband served
A soldier, far away,
And therefore to her parish she
Was begging back her way.
We met a girl; her dress was loose
And sunken was her eye,
Who with the wanton's hollow voice
Address'd the passers by;
I ask'd her what there was in guilt
That could her heart allure
To shame, disease, and late remorse?
She answer'd, she was poor.
I turn'd me to the rich man then
For silently stood he,
You ask'd me why the Poor complain,
And these have answer'd thee.
Written from London.
Margaret! my Cousin!--nay, you must not smile;
I love the homely and familiar phrase;
And I will call thee Cousin Margaret,
However quaint amid the measured line
The good old term appears. Oh! it looks ill
When delicate tongues disclaim old terms of kin,
Sirring and Madaming as civilly
As if the road between the heart and lips
Were such a weary and Laplandish way
That the poor travellers came to the red gates
Half frozen. Trust me Cousin Margaret,
For many a day my Memory has played
The creditor with me on your account,
And made me shame to think that I should owe
So long the debt of kindness. But in truth,
Like Christian on his pilgrimage, I bear
So heavy a pack of business, that albeit
I toil on mainly, in our twelve hours race
Time leaves me distanced. Loath indeed were I
That for a moment you should lay to me
Unkind neglect; mine, Margaret, is a heart
That smokes not, yet methinks there should be some
Who know how warm it beats. I am not one
Who can play off my smiles and courtesies
To every Lady of her lap dog tired
Who wants a play-thing; I am no sworn friend
Of half-an-hour, as apt to leave as love;
Mine are no mushroom feelings that spring up
At once without a seed and take no root,
Wiseliest distrusted. In a narrow sphere
The little circle of domestic life
I would be known and loved; the world beyond
Is not for me. But Margaret, sure I think
That you should know me well, for you and I
Grew up together, and when we look back
Upon old times our recollections paint
The same familiar faces. Did I wield
The wand of Merlin's magic I would make
Brave witchcraft. We would have a faery ship,
Aye, a new Ark, as in that other flood
That cleansed the sons of Anak from the earth,
The Sylphs should waft us to some goodly isle
Like that where whilome old Apollidon
Built up his blameless spell; and I would bid
The Sea Nymphs pile around their coral bowers,
That we might stand upon the beach, and mark
The far-off breakers shower their silver spray,
And hear the eternal roar whose pleasant sound
Told us that never mariner should reach
Our quiet coast. In such a blessed isle
We might renew the days of infancy,
And Life like a long childhood pass away,
Without one care. It may be, Margaret,
That I shall yet be gathered to my friends,
For I am not of those who live estranged
Of choice, till at the last they join their race
In the family vault. If so, if I should lose,
Like my old friend the Pilgrim, this huge pack
So heavy on my shoulders, I and mine
Will end our pilgrimage most pleasantly.
If not, if I should never get beyond
This Vanity town, there is another world
Where friends will meet. And often, Margaret,
I gaze at night into the boundless sky,
And think that I shall there be born again,
The exalted native of some better star;
And like the rude American I hope
To find in Heaven the things I loved on earth.
The Cross Roads.
The circumstance related in the following Ballad happened about forty
years ago in a village adjacent to Bristol. A person who was present at
the funeral, told me the story and the particulars of the interment, as
I have versified them.
THE CROSS ROADS.
There was an old man breaking stones
To mend the turnpike way,
He sat him down beside a brook
And out his bread and cheese he took,
For now it was mid-day.
He lent his back against a post,
His feet the brook ran by;
And there were water-cresses growing,
And pleasant was the water's flowing
For he was hot and dry.
A soldier with his knapsack on
Came travelling o'er the down,
The sun was strong and he was tired,
And of the old man he enquired
How far to Bristol town.
Half an hour's walk for a young man
By lanes and fields and stiles.
But you the foot-path do not know,
And if along the road you go
Why then 'tis three good miles.
The soldier took his knapsack off
For he was hot and dry;
And out his bread and cheese he took
And he sat down beside the brook
To dine in company.
Old friend! in faith, the soldier says
I envy you almost;
My shoulders have been sorely prest
And I should like to sit and rest,
My back against that post.
In such a sweltering day as this
A knapsack is the devil!
And if on t'other side I sat
It would not only spoil our chat
But make me seem uncivil.
The old man laugh'd and moved. I wish
It were a great-arm'd chair!
But this may help a man at need;
And yet it was a cursed deed
That ever brought it there.
There's a poor girl lies buried here
Beneath this very place.
The earth upon her corpse is prest
This stake is driven into her breast
And a stone is on her face.
The soldier had but just lent back
And now he half rose up.
There's sure no harm in dining here,
My friend? and yet to be sincere
I should not like to sup.
God rest her! she is still enough
Who sleeps beneath our feet!
The old man cried. No harm I trow
She ever did herself, tho' now
She lies where four roads meet.
I have past by about that hour
When men are not most brave,
It did not make my heart to fail,
And I have heard the nightingale
Sing sweetly on her grave.
I have past by about that hour
When Ghosts their freedom have,
But there was nothing here to fright,
And I have seen the glow-worm's light
Shine on the poor girl's grave.
There's one who like a Christian lies
Beneath the church-tree's shade;
I'd rather go a long mile round
Than pass at evening thro' the ground
Wherein that man is laid.
There's one that in the church-yard lies
For whom the bell did toll;
He lies in consecrated ground,
But for all the wealth in Bristol town
I would not be with his soul!
Did'st see a house below the hill
That the winds and the rains destroy?
'Twas then a farm where he did dwell,
And I remember it full well
When I was a growing boy.
And she was a poor parish girl
That came up from the west,
From service hard she ran away
And at that house in evil day
Was taken in to rest.
The man he was a wicked man
And an evil life he led;
Rage made his cheek grow deadly white
And his grey eyes were large and light,
And in anger they grew red.
The man was bad, the mother worse,
Bad fruit of a bad stem,
'Twould make your hair to stand-on-end
If I should tell to you my friend
The things that were told of them!
Did'st see an out-house standing by?
The walls alone remain;
It was a stable then, but now
Its mossy roof has fallen through
All rotted by the rain.
The poor girl she had serv'd with them
Some half-a-year, or more,
When she was found hung up one day
Stiff as a corpse and cold as clay
Behind that stable door!
It is a very lonesome place,
No hut or house is near;
Should one meet a murderer there alone
'Twere vain to scream, and the dying groan
Would never reach mortal ear.
And there were strange reports about
That the coroner never guest.
So he decreed that she should lie
Where four roads meet in infamy,
With a stake drove in her breast.
Upon a board they carried her
To the place where four roads met,
And I was one among the throng
That hither followed them along,
I shall never the sight forget!
They carried her upon a board
In the cloaths in which she died;
I saw the cap blow off her head,
Her face was of a dark dark red
Her eyes were starting wide:
I think they could not have been closed
So widely did they strain.
I never saw so dreadful a sight,
And it often made me wake at night,
For I saw her face again.
They laid her here where four roads meet.
Beneath this very place,
The earth upon her corpse was prest,
This post is driven into her breast,
And a stone is on her face.
who had served in the Slave Trade.
In September, 1798, a Dissenting Minister of Bristol, discovered a
Sailor in the neighbourhood of that City, groaning and praying in a
hovel. The circumstance that occasioned his agony of mind is detailed in
the annexed Ballad, without the slightest addition or alteration. By
presenting it as a Poem the story is made more public, and such stories
ought to be made as public as possible.
WHO HAD SERVED IN THE SLAVE-TRADE.
He stopt,--it surely was a groan
That from the hovel came!
He stopt and listened anxiously
Again it sounds the same.
It surely from the hovel comes!
And now he hastens there,
And thence he hears the name of Christ
Amidst a broken prayer.
He entered in the hovel now,
A sailor there he sees,
His hands were lifted up to Heaven
And he was on his knees.
Nor did the Sailor so intent
His entering footsteps heed,
But now the Lord's prayer said, and now
His half-forgotten creed.
And often on his Saviour call'd
With many a bitter groan,
In such heart-anguish as could spring
From deepest guilt alone.
He ask'd the miserable man
Why he was kneeling there,
And what the crime had been that caus'd
The anguish of his prayer.
Oh I have done a wicked thing!
It haunts me night and day,
And I have sought this lonely place
Here undisturb'd to pray.