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The Complete Poems of Sir Thomas Moore by Thomas Moore et al

Part 23 out of 33

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But mourn them not--for vanisht too
(Thanks to that Power, who soon or late,
Hurls to the dust the guilty Great,)
Are all the outrage, falsehood, fraud,
The chains, the rapine, and the blood,
That filled each spot, at home, abroad,
Where the Republic's standard stood.
Desolate VENICE! when I track
Thy haughty course thro' centuries back;
Thy ruthless power, obeyed but curst--
The stern machinery of thy State,
Which hatred would, like steam, have burst,
Had stronger fear not chilled even hate;--
Thy perfidy, still worse than aught
Thy own unblushing SARPI[2] taught;--
Thy friendship which, o'er all beneath
Its shadow, rained down dews of death;[3]--
Thy Oligarchy's Book of Gold,
Closed against humble Virtue's name,
But opened wide for slaves who sold
Their native land to thee and shame;[4]--
Thy all-pervading host of spies
Watching o'er every glance and breath,
Till men lookt in each others' eyes,
To read their chance of life or death;--
Thy laws that made a mart of blood,
And legalized the assassin's knife;[5]--
Thy sunless cells beneath the flood,
And racks and Leads that burnt out life;--

When I review all this and see
The doom that now hath fallen on thee;
Thy nobles, towering once so proud,
Themselves beneath the yoke now bowed,--
A yoke by no one grace redeemed,
Such as of old around thee beamed,
But mean and base as e'er yet galled
Earth's tyrants when themselves enthralled,--
I feel the moral vengeance sweet.
And smiling o'er the wreck repeat:--
"Thus perish every King and State
"That tread the steps which VENICE trod,
"Strong but in ill and only great,
"By outrage against man and God!"

[1] Under the Doge Michaeli, in 1171.

[2] The celebrated Fra Paolo. The collections of Maxims which this bold
monk drew up at the request of the Venetian Government, for the guidance
of the Secret Inquisition of State, are so atrocious as to seem rather an
over-charged satire upon despotism, than a system of policy, seriously
inculcated, and but too readily and constantly pursued.

[3] Conduct of Venice towards her allies and dependencies, particularly to
unfortunate Padua.

[4] Among those admitted to the honor of being inscribed in the _Libro
d'oro_ were some families of Brescia, Treviso, and other places, whose
only claim to that distinction was the zeal with which they prostrated
themselves and their country at the feet of the republic.

[5] By the infamous statutes of the State Inquisition, not only was
assassination recognized as a regular mode of punishment, but this secret
power over life was delegated to their minions at a distance, with nearly
as much facility as a licence is given under the game laws of England. The
only restriction seems to have been the necessity of applying for a new
certificate, after every individual exercise of the power.

EXTRACT VII.

Venice.

_Lord Byron's Memoirs, written by himself.--Reflections, when about to
read them_.

Let me a moment--ere with fear and hope
Of gloomy, glorious things, these leaves I ope--
As one in fairy tale to whom the key
Of some enchanter's secret halls is given,
Doubts while he enters slowly, tremblingly,
If he shall meet with shapes from hell or heaven--
Let me a moment think what thousands live
O'er the wide earth this instant who would give,
Gladly, whole sleepless nights to bend the brow
Over these precious leaves, as I do now.

How all who know--and where is he unknown?
To what far region have his songs not flown,
Like PSAPHON'S birds[1] speaking their master's name,
In every language syllabled by Fame?--
How all who've felt the various spells combined
Within the circle of that mastermind,--
Like spells derived from many a star and met
Together in some wondrous amulet,--
Would burn to know when first the Light awoke
In his young soul,--and if the gleams that broke
From that Aurora of his genius, raised
Most pain or bliss in those on whom they blazed;
Would love to trace the unfolding of that power,
Which had grown ampler, grander, every hour;
And feel in watching o'er his first advance
As did the Egyptian traveller[2] when he stood
By the young Nile and fathomed with his lance
The first small fountains of that mighty flood.

They too who mid the scornful thoughts that dwell
In his rich fancy, tingeing all its streams,--
As if the Star of Bitterness which fell
On earth of old,[3] had touched them with its beams,--
Can track a spirit which tho' driven to hate,
From Nature's hands came kind, affectionate;
And which even now, struck as it is with blight,
Comes out at times in love's own native light;--
How gladly all who've watched these struggling rays
Of a bright, ruined spirit thro' his lays,
Would here inquire, as from his own frank lips,
What desolating grief, what wrongs had driven
That noble nature into cold eclipse;
Like some fair orb that, once a sun in heaven.
And born not only to surprise but cheer
With warmth and lustre all within its sphere,
Is now so quenched that of its grandeur lasts
Naught but the wide, cold shadow which it casts.

Eventful volume! whatsoe'er the change
Of scene and clime--the adventures bold and strange--
The griefs--the frailties but too frankly told--
The loves, the feuds thy pages may unfold,
If Truth with half so prompt a hand unlocks
His virtues as his failings, we shall find
The record there of friendships held like rocks,
And enmities like sun-touched snow resigned;
Of fealty, cherisht without change or chill,
In those who served him, young, and serve him still;
Of generous aid given, with that noiseless art
Which wakes not pride, to many a wounded heart;
Of acts--but, no--_not_ from himself must aught
Of the bright features of his life be sought.

While they who court the world, like Milton's cloud,
"Turn forth their silver lining" on the crowd,
This gifted Being wraps himself in night;
And keeping all that softens and adorns
And gilds his social nature hid from sight,
Turns but its darkness on a world he scorns.

[1] Psaphon, in order to attract the attention of the world, taught
multitudes of birds to speak his name, and then let them fly away in
various directions; whence the proverb, "Psaphonis aves."

[2] Bruce.

[3] "And the name of the star is called Wormwood, and the third part of
the waters became wormwood."--_Rev_. viii.

EXTRACT VIII.

Venice.

_Female Beauty at Venice.--No longer what it was in the time of Titian.--
His mistress.--Various Forms in which he has painted her.--Venus.--Divine
and profane Love.--La Fragilita d'Amore--Paul Veronese.--His Women.--
Marriage of Cana.--Character of Italian Beauty.--Raphael's Fornarina.--
Modesty_.

Thy brave, thy learned have passed away:
Thy beautiful!--ah, where are they?
The forms, the faces that once shone,
Models of grace, in Titian's eye,
Where are they now, while flowers live on
In ruined places, why, oh! why
Must Beauty thus with Glory die?
That maid whose lips would still have moved,
Could art have breathed a spirit through them;
Whose varying charms her artist loved
More fondly every time he drew them,
(So oft beneath his touch they past,
Each semblance fairer than the last);
Wearing each shape that Fancy's range
Offers to Love--yet still the one
Fair idol seen thro' every change,
Like facets of some orient stone,--
In each the same bright image shown.
Sometimes a Venus, unarrayed
But in her beauty[1]--sometimes deckt
In costly raiment, as a maid
That kings might for a throne select.[2]
Now high and proud, like one who thought
The world should at her feet be brought;
Now with a look reproachful sad,[3]--
Unwonted look from brow so glad,--
And telling of a pain too deep
For tongue to speak or eyes to weep.
Sometimes thro' allegory's veil,
In double semblance seemed to shine,
Telling a strange and mystic tale
Of Love Profane and Love Divine[4]--
Akin in features, but in heart
As far as earth and heaven apart.
Or else (by quaint device to prove
The frailty of all worldly love)
Holding a globe of glass as thin
As air-blown bubbles in her hand,
With a young Love confined therein,
Whose wings seem waiting to expand--
And telling by her anxious eyes
That if that frail orb break he flies.[5]

Thou too with touch magnificent,
PAUL of VERONA!--where are they?
The oriental forms[6] that lent
Thy canvas such a bright array?
Noble and gorgeous dames whose dress
Seems part of their own loveliness;
Like the sun's drapery which at eve
The floating clouds around him weave
Of light they from himself receive!
Where is there now the living face
Like those that in thy nuptial throng[7]
By their superb, voluptuous grace,
Make us forget the time, the place,
The holy guests they smile among,--
Till in that feast of heaven-sent wine
We see no miracles but thine.

If e'er, except in Painting's dream,
There bloomed such beauty here, 'tis gone,--
Gone like the face that in the stream
Of Ocean for an instant shone,
When Venus at that mirror gave
A last look ere she left the wave.
And tho', among the crowded ways,
We oft are startled by the blaze
Of eyes that pass with fitful light.
Like fire-flies on the wing at night[8]
'Tis not that nobler beauty given
To show how angels look in heaven.
Even in its shape most pure and fair,
'Tis Beauty with but half her zone,
All that can warm the sense is there,
But the Soul's deeper charm has flown:--
'Tis RAPHAEL's Fornarina,--warm,
Luxuriant, arch, but unrefined;
A flower round which the noontide swarm
Of young Desires may buzz and wind,
But where true Love no treasure meets
Worth hoarding in his hive of sweets.

Ah no,--for this and for the hue
Upon the rounded cheek, which tells
How fresh within the heart this dew
Of love's unrifled sweetness dwells,
We must go back to our own Isles,
Where Modesty, which here but gives
A rare and transient grace to smiles,
In the heart's holy centre lives;
And thence as from her throne diffuses
O'er thoughts and looks so bland a reign,
That not a thought or feeling loses
Its freshness in that gentle chain.

[1] In the Tribune at Florence.

[2] In the Palazzo Pitti.

[3] Alludes particularly to the portrait of her in the Sciarra collection
at Rome, where the look of mournful reproach in those full, shadowy eyes,
as if she had been unjustly accused of something wrong, is exquisite.

[4] The fine picture in the Palazzo Borghese, called (it is not easy to
say why) "Sacred and Profane Love," in which the two figures, sitting on
the edge of the fountain, are evidently portraits of the same person.

[5] This fanciful allegory is the subject of a picture by Titian in the
possession of the Marquis Cambian at Turin, whose collection, though
small, contains some beautiful specimens of all the great masters.

[6] As Paul Veronese gave but little into the _beau ideal_, his women
may be regarded as pretty close imitations of the living models which
Venice afforded in his time.

[7] The Marriage of Cana.

[8] "Certain it is [as Arthur Young truly and feelingly says] one now and
then meets with terrible eyes in Italy."

EXTRACT IX.

Venice.

_The English to be met with everywhere.--Alps and Threadneedle
Street.--The Simplon and the Stocks.--Rage for travelling.--Blue Stockings
among the Wahabees.--Parasols and Pyramids.--Mrs. Hopkins and the Wall of
China_.

And is there then no earthly place,
Where we can rest in dream Elysian,
Without some curst, round English face,
Popping up near to break the vision?
Mid northern lakes, mid southern vines,
Unholy cits we're doomed to meet;
Nor highest Alps nor Apennines
Are sacred from Threadneedle Street!

If up the Simplon's path we wind,
Fancying we leave this world behind,
Such pleasant sounds salute one's ear
As--"Baddish news from 'Change, my dear--
"The funds--(phew I curse this ugly hill)--
"Are lowering fast--(what, higher still?)--
"And--(zooks, we're mounting up to heaven!)--
"Will soon be down to sixty-seven."

Go where we may--rest where we will.
Eternal London haunts us still.
The trash of Almack's or Fleet Ditch--
And scarce a pin's head difference _which_--
Mixes, tho' even to Greece we run,
With every rill from Helicon!
And if this rage for travelling lasts,
If Cockneys of all sects and castes,
Old maidens, aldermen, and squires,
_Will_ leave their puddings and coal fires,
To gape at things in foreign lands
No soul among them understands;
If Blues desert their coteries,
To show off 'mong the Wahabees;
If neither sex nor age controls,
Nor fear of Mamelukes forbids
Young ladies with pink parasols
To glide among the Pyramids--

Why, then, farewell all hope to find
A spot that's free from London-kind!
Who knows, if to the West we roam,
But we may find some _Blue_ "at home"
Among the Blacks of Carolina--
Or flying to the Eastward see
Some Mrs. HOPKINS taking tea
And toast upon the Wall of China!

EXTRACT X.

Mantua.

_Verses of Hippolyta to her Husband_.

They tell me thou'rt the favored guest
Of every fair and brilliant throng;
No wit like thine to wake the jest,
No voice like thine to breathe the song.
And none could guess, so gay thou art,
That thou and I are far apart.
Alas, alas! how different flows,
With thee and me the time away!
Not that I wish thee sad, heaven knows--
Still if thou canst, be light and gay;
I only know that without thee
The sun himself is dark for me.

Do I put on the jewels rare
Thou'st always loved to see me wear?
Do I perfume the locks that thou
So oft hast braided o'er my brow,
Thus deckt thro' festive crowds to run,
And all the assembled world to see,--
All but the one, the absent one,
Worth more than present worlds to me!
No, nothing cheers this widowed heart--
My only joy from thee apart,
From thee thyself, is sitting hours
And days before thy pictured form--
That dream of thee, which Raphael's powers
Have made with all but life-breath warm!
And as I smile to it, and say
The words I speak to thee in play,
I fancy from their silent frame,
Those eyes and lips give back the same:
And still I gaze, and still they keep
Smiling thus on me--till I weep!
Our little boy too knows it well,
For there I lead him every day
And teach his lisping lips to tell
The name of one that's far away.
Forgive me, love, but thus alone
My time is cheered while thou art gone.

EXTRACT XI.

Florence.

No--'tis not the region where Love's to be found--
They have bosoms that sigh, they have glances that rove,
They have language a Sappho's own lip might resound,
When she warbled her best--but they've nothing like Love.

Nor is't that pure _sentiment_ only they want,
Which Heaven for the mild and the tranquil hath made--
Calm, wedded affection, that home-rooted plant
Which sweetens seclusion and smiles in the shade;

That feeling which, after long years have gone by,
Remains like a portrait we've sat for in youth,
Where, even tho' the flush of the colors may fly,
The features still live in their first smiling truth;

That union where all that in Woman is kind,
With all that in Man most ennoblingly towers,
Grow wreathed into one--like the column, combined
Of the _strength_ of the shaft and the capital's _flowers_.

Of this--bear ye witness, ye wives, everywhere,
By the ARNO, the PO, by all ITALY'S streams--
Of this heart-wedded love, so delicious to share,
Not a husband hath even one glimpse in his dreams.

But it _is_ not this only;--born full of the light
Of a sun from whose fount the luxuriant festoons
Of these beautiful valleys drink lustre so bright
That beside him our suns of the north are but moons,--

We might fancy at least, like their climate they burned;
And that Love tho' unused in this region of spring
To be thus to a tame Household Deity turned,
Would yet be all soul when abroad on the wing.

And there _may_ be, there _are_ those explosions of heart
Which burst when the senses have first caught the flame;
Such fits of the blood as those climates impart,
Where Love is a sun-stroke that maddens the frame.

But that Passion which springs in the depth of the soul;
Whose beginnings are virginly pure as the source
Of some small mountain rivulet destined to roll
As a torrent ere long, losing peace in its course--

A course to which Modesty's struggle but lends
A more headlong descent without chance of recall;
But which Modesty even to the last edge attends,
And then throws a halo of tears round its fall!

This exquisite Passion--ay, exquisite, even
Mid the ruin its madness too often hath made,
As it keeps even then a bright trace of the heaven,
That heaven of Virtue from which it has strayed--

This entireness of love which can only be found,
Where Woman like something that's holy, watched over,
And fenced from her childhood with purity round,
Comes body and soul fresh as Spring to a lover!

Where not an eye answers, where not a hand presses,
Till spirit with spirit in sympathy move;
And the Senses asleep in their sacred recesses
Can only be reached thro' the temple of Love!--

This perfection of Passion-how can it be found,
Where the mystery Nature hath hung round the tie
By which souls are together attracted and bound,
Is laid open for ever to heart,
ear and eye;--

Where naught of that innocent doubt can exist,
That ignorance even than knowledge more bright,
Which circles the young like the morn's sunny mist,
And curtains them round in their own native light;--

Where Experience leaves nothing for Love to reveal,
Or for Fancy in visions to gleam o'er the thought:
But the truths which alone we would die to conceal
From the maiden's young heart are the only ones taught.

No, no, 'tis not here, howsoever we sigh,
Whether purely to Hymen's one planet we pray,
Or adore, like Sabaeans, each light of Love's sky,
Here is not the region to fix or to stray.

For faithless in wedlock, in gallantry gross,
Without honor to guard, to reserve, to restrain,
What have they a husband can mourn as a loss?
What have they a lover can prize as a gain?

EXTRACT XII.

Florence.

_Music in Italy.--Disappointed by it.--Recollections or other Times and
Friends.--Dalton.--Sir John Stevenson.--His Daughter.--Musical Evenings
together_.

If it be true that Music reigns,
Supreme, in ITALY'S soft shades,
'Tis like that Harmony so famous,
Among the spheres, which He of SAMOS
Declared had such transcendent merit
That not a soul on earth could hear it;
For, far as I have come--from Lakes,
Whose sleep the Tramontana breaks,
Thro' MILAN and that land which gave
The Hero of the rainbow vest[1]--
By MINCIO'S banks, and by that wave,
Which made VERONA'S bard so blest--
Places that (like the Attic shore,
Which rung back music when the sea
Struck on its marge) should be all o'er
Thrilling alive with melody--
I've heard no music--not a note
Of such sweet native airs as float
In my own land among the throng
And speak our nation's soul for song.

Nay, even in higher walks, where Art
Performs, as 'twere, the gardener's part,
And richer if not sweeter makes
The flowers she from the wild-hedge takes--
Even there, no voice hath charmed my ear,
No taste hath won my perfect praise,
Like thine, dear friend[2]--long, truly dear--
Thine, and thy loved OLIVIA'S lays.
She, always beautiful, and growing
Still more so every note she sings--
Like an inspired young Sibyl,[3] glowing
With her own bright imaginings!
And thou, most worthy to be tied
In music to her, as in love,
Breathing that language by her side,
All other language far above,
Eloquent Song--whose tones and words
In every heart find answering chords!

How happy once the hours we past,
Singing or listening all daylong,
Till Time itself seemed changed at last
To music, and we lived in song!
Turning the leaves of HAYDN o'er,
As quick beneath her master hand
They opened all their brilliant store,
Like chambers, touched by fairy wand;
Or o'er the page of MOZART bending,
Now by his airy warblings cheered,
Now in his mournful _Requiem_ blending
Voices thro' which the heart was heard.
And still, to lead our evening choir,
Was He invoked, thy loved-one's Sire[4]--
He who if aught of grace there be
In the wild notes I write or sing,
First smoothed their links of harmony,
And lent them charms they did not bring;--
He, of the gentlest, simplest heart,
With whom, employed in his sweet art,
(That art which gives this world of ours
A notion how they speak in heaven.)
I've past more bright and charmed hours
Than all earth's wisdom could have given.
Oh happy days, oh early friends,
How Life since then hath lost its flowers!
But yet--tho' Time _some_ foliage rends,
The stem, the Friendship, still is ours;
And long may it endure, as green
And fresh as it hath always been!

How I have wandered from my theme!
But where is he, that could return
To such cold subjects from a dream,
Thro' which these best of feelings burn?--
Not all the works of Science, Art,
Or Genius in this world are worth
One genuine sigh that from the heart
Friendship or Love draws freshly forth.

[1] Bermago--the birthplace, it is said, of Harlequin.

[2] Edward Tuite Dalton, the first husband of Sir John Stevenson's
daughter, the late Marchioness of Headfort.

[3] Such as those of Domenichino in the Palazza Borghese, at the
Capitol, etc.

[4] Sir John Stevenson.

EXTRACT XIII.

Rome.

_Reflections on reading Du Cerceau's Account of the Conspiracy of
Rienzi, in 1347.--The Meeting of the Conspirators on the Night of the 19th
of May.--Their Procession in the Morning to the Capitol.--Rienzi's
Speech_.

'Twas a proud moment--even to hear the words
Of Truth and Freedom mid these temples breathed,
And see once more the Forum shine with swords
In the Republic's sacred name unsheathed--
That glimpse, that vision of a brighter day
For his dear ROME, must to a Roman be,
Short as it was, worth ages past away
In the dull lapse of hopeless slavery.

'Twas on a night of May, beneath that moon
Which had thro' many an age seen Time untune
The strings of this Great Empire, till it fell
From his rude hands, a broken, silent shell--
The sound of the church clock near ADRIAN'S Tomb
Summoned the warriors who had risen for ROME,
To meet unarmed,--with none to watch them there,
But God's own eye,--and pass the night in prayer.
Holy beginning of a holy cause,
When heroes girt for Freedom's combat pause
Before high Heaven, and humble in their might
Call down its blessing on that coming fight.

At dawn, in arms went forth the patriot band;
And as the breeze, fresh from the TIBER, fanned
Their gilded gonfalons, all eyes could see
The palm-tree there, the sword, the keys of Heaven--
Types of the justice, peace and liberty,
That were to bless them when their chains were riven.
On to the Capitol the pageant moved,
While many a Shade of other times, that still
Around that grave of grandeur sighing roved,
Hung o'er their footsteps up the Sacred Hill
And heard its mournful echoes as the last
High-minded heirs of the Republic past.
'Twas then that thou, their Tribune,[1] (name which brought
Dreams of lost glory to each patriot's thought,)
Didst, with a spirit Rome in vain shall seek
To wake up in her sons again, thus speak:--
"ROMANS, look round you--on this sacred place
"There once stood shrines and gods and godlike men.
"What see you now? what solitary trace
"Is left of all that made ROME'S glory then?
"The shrines are sunk, the Sacred Mount bereft
"Even of its name--and nothing now remains
"But the deep memory of that glory, left
"To whet our pangs and aggravate our chains!
"But _shall_ this be?--our sun and sky the same,--
"Treading the very soil our fathers trod,--
"What withering curse hath fallen on soul and frame,
"What visitation hath there come from God
"To blast our strength and rot us into slaves,
"_Here_ on our great forefathers' glorious graves?
"It cannot be--rise up, ye Mighty Dead,--
"If we, the living, are too weak to crush
"These tyrant priests that o'er your empire tread,
"Till all but Romans at Rome's tameness blush!

"Happy, PALMYRA, in thy desert domes
"Where only date-trees sigh and serpents hiss;
"And thou whose pillars are but silent homes
"For the stork's brood, superb PERSEPOLIS!
"Thrice happy both, that your extinguisht race
"Have left no embers--no half-living trace--
"No slaves to crawl around the once proud spot,
"Till past renown in present shame's forgot.
"While ROME, the Queen of all, whose very wrecks,
"If lone and lifeless thro' a desert hurled,
"Would wear more true magnificence than decks
"The assembled thrones of all the existing world--
"ROME, ROME alone, is haunted, stained and curst,
"Thro' every spot her princely TIBER laves,
"By living human things--the deadliest, worst,
"This earth engenders--tyrants and their slaves!
"And we--oh shame!--we who have pondered o'er
"The patriot's lesson and the poet's lay;[2]
"Have mounted up the streams of ancient lore,
"Tracking our country's glories all the way--
"Even _we_ have tamely, basely kist the ground
"Before that Papal Power,--that Ghost of Her,
"The World's Imperial Mistress--sitting crowned
"And ghastly on her mouldering sepulchre![3]
"But this is past:--too long have lordly priests
"And priestly lords led us, with all our pride
"Withering about us--like devoted beasts,
"Dragged to the shrine, with faded garlands tied.
"'Tis o'er--the dawn of our deliverance breaks!
"Up from his sleep of centuries awakes
"The Genius of the Old Republic, free
"As first he stood, in chainless majesty,
"And sends his voice thro' ages yet to come,
"Proclaiming ROME, ROME, ROME, Eternal ROME!"

[1] Rienzi.

[2] The fine Canzone of Petrarch, beginning _"Spirto gentil,"_ is
supposed, by Voltaire and others, to have been addressed to Rienzi; but
there is much more evidence of its having been written, as Ginguene
asserts, to the young Stephen Colonna, on his being created a Senator of
Rome.

[3] This image is borrowed from Hobbes, whose words are, as near as I can
recollect:--"For what is the Papacy, but the Ghost of the old Roman
Empire, sitting crowned on the grave thereof?"

EXTRACT XIV.

Rome.

_Fragment of a Dream.--The great Painters supposed to be Magicians.--The
Beginnings of the Art.--Gildings on the Glories and Draperies.--
Improvements under Giotto, etc.--The first Dawn of the true Style in
Masaccio.--Studied by all the great Artists who followed him.--Leonardo da
Vinci, with whom commenced the Golden Age of Painting.--His Knowledge of
Mathematics and of Music.--His female heads all like each other.--
Triangular Faces.--Portraits of Mona Lisa, etc.--Picture of Vanity and
Modesty.--His_ chef-d'oeuvre, _the Last Supper.--Faded and almost
effaced_.

Filled with the wonders I had seen
In Rome's stupendous shrines and halls,
I felt the veil of sleep serene
Come o'er the memory of each scene,
As twilight o'er the landscape falls.
Nor was it slumber, sound and deep,
But such as suits a poet's rest--
That sort of thin, transparent sleep,
Thro' which his day-dreams shine the best.
Methought upon a plain I stood,
Where certain wondrous men, 'twas said,
With strange, miraculous power endued,
Were coming each in turn to shed
His art's illusions o'er the sight
And call up miracles of light.
The sky above this lonely place,
Was of that cold, uncertain hue,
The canvas wears ere, warmed apace,
Its bright creation dawns to view.

But soon a glimmer from the east
Proclaimed the first enchantments nigh;[1]
And as the feeble light increased,
Strange figures moved across the sky,
With golden glories deckt and streaks
Of gold among their garments' dyes;[2]
And life's resemblance tinged their cheeks,
But naught of life was in their eyes;--
Like the fresh-painted Dead one meets,
Borne slow along Rome's mournful streets.

But soon these figures past away;
And forms succeeded to their place
With less of gold in their array,
But shining with more natural grace,
And all could see the charming wands
Had past into more gifted hands.
Among these visions there was one,[3]
Surpassing fair, on which the sun,
That instant risen, a beam let fall,
Which thro' the dusky twilight trembled.
And reached at length the spot where all
Those great magicians stood assembled.
And as they turned their heads to view
The shining lustre, I could trace
The bright varieties it threw
On each uplifted studying face:[4]
While many a voice with loud acclaim
Called forth, "Masaccio" as the name
Of him, the Enchanter, who had raised
This miracle on which all gazed.

'Twas daylight now--the sun had risen
From out the dungeon of old Night.--
Like the Apostle from his prison
Led by the Angel's hand of light;
And--as the fetters, when that ray
Of glory reached them, dropt away.[5]
So fled the clouds at touch of day!
Just then a bearded sage came forth,[6]
Who oft in thoughtful dream would stand,
To trace upon the dusky earth
Strange learned figures with his wand;
And oft he took the silver lute
His little page behind him bore,
And waked such music as, when mute,
Left in the soul a thirst for more!

Meanwhile his potent spells went on,
And forms and faces that from out
A depth of shadow mildly shone
Were in the soft air seen about.
Tho' thick as midnight stars they beamed,
Yet all like living sisters seemed,
So close in every point resembling
Each other's beauties--from the eyes
Lucid as if thro' crystal trembling,
Yet soft as if suffused with sighs,
To the long, fawn-like mouth, and chin,
Lovelily tapering, less and less,
Till by this very charm's excess,
Like virtue on the verge of sin,
It touched the bounds of ugliness.
Here lookt as when they lived the shades
Of some of Arno's dark-eyed maids--
Such maids as should alone live on
In dreams thus when their charms are gone:
Some Mona Lisa on whose eyes
A painter for whole years might gaze,[7]
Nor find in all his pallet's dyes
One that could even approach their blaze!
Here float two spirit shapes,[8] the one,
With her white fingers to the sun
Outspread as if to ask his ray
Whether it e'er had chanced to play
On lilies half so fair as they!
This self-pleased nymph was Vanity--
And by her side another smiled,
In form as beautiful as she,
But with that air subdued and mild,
That still reserve of purity,
Which is to beauty like the haze
Of evening to some sunny view,
Softening such charms as it displays
And veiling others in that hue,
Which fancy only can see thro'!
This phantom nymph, who could she be,
But the bright Spirit, Modesty?

Long did the learned enchanter stay
To weave his spells and still there past,
As in the lantern's shifting play
Group after group in close array,
Each fairer, grander, than the last.
But the great triumph of his power
Was yet to come:--gradual and slow,
(As all that is ordained to tower
Among the works of man must grow,)
The sacred vision stole to view,
In that half light, half shadow shown,
Which gives to even the gayest hue
A sobered, melancholy tone.
It was a vision of that last,[9]
Sorrowful night which Jesus past
With his disciples when he said
Mournfully to them--"I shall be
"Betrayed by one who here hath fed
"This night at the same board with me."
And tho' the Saviour in the dream
Spoke not these words, we saw them beam
Legibly in his eyes (so well
The great magician workt his spell),
And read in every thoughtful line
Imprinted on that brow divine.

The meek, the tender nature, grieved,
Not angered to be thus deceived--
Celestial love requited ill
For all its care, yet loving still--
Deep, deep regret that there should fall
From man's deceit so foul a blight
Upon that parting hour--and all
_His_ Spirit must have felt that night.
Who, soon to die for human-kind,
Thought only, mid his mortal pain,
How many a soul was left behind
For whom he died that death in vain!

Such was the heavenly scene--alas!
That scene so bright so soon should pass
But pictured on the humid air,
Its tints, ere long, grew languid there;[10]
And storms came on, that, cold and rough,
Scattered its gentlest glories all--
As when the baffling winds blow off
The hues that hang o'er Terni's fall,--
Till one by one the vision's beams
Faded away and soon it fled.
To join those other vanisht dreams
That now flit palely 'mong the dead,--
The shadows of those shades that go.
Around Oblivion's lake below!

[1] The paintings of those artists who were introduced into Venice and
Florence from Greece.

[2] Margaritone of Orezzo, who was a pupil and imitator of the Greeks, is
said to have invented this art of gilding the ornaments of pictures, a
practice which, though it gave way to a purer taste at the beginning of
the 16th century, was still occasionally used by many of the great
masters: as by Raphael in the ornaments of the Fornarina, and by Rubens
not unfrequently in glories and flames.

[3] The works of Masaccio.--For the character of this powerful and
original genius, see Sir Joshua Reynolds's twelfth discourse. His
celebrated frescoes are in the church of St. Pietro del Carmine, at
Florence.

[4] All the great artists studies, and many of them borrowed from
Masaccio. Several figures in the Cartoons of Raphael are taken, with but
little alteration, from his frescoes.

[5] "And a light shined in the prison ... and his chains fell off from his
hands."--_Acts_.

[6] Leonardo da Vinci.

[7] He is said to have been four years employed upon the portrait of this
fair Florentine, without being able, after all, to come up to his idea of
her beauty.

[8] Vanity and Modesty in the collection of Cardinal Fesch, at Rome. The
composition of the four hands here is rather awkward, but the picture,
altogether, is very delightful. There is a repetition of the subject in
the possession of Lucien Bonaparte.

[9] The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the Refectory of the
Convent delle Grazie at Milan.

[10] Leonardo appears to have used a mixture of oil and varnish for this
picture, which alone, without the various other causes of its ruin, would
have prevented any long duration of its beauties. It is now almost
entirely effaced.

EXTRACT XV.

Rome.

_Mary Magdalen.--Her Story.--Numerous Pictures of her.--Correggio--Guido
--Raphael, etc.--Canova's two exquisite Statues.--The Somariva Magdalen.
--Chantrey's Admiration of Canova's Works_.

No wonder, MARY, that thy story
Touches all hearts--for there we see thee.
The soul's corruption and its glory,
Its death and life combine in thee.

From the first moment when we find
Thy spirit haunted by a swarm
Of dark desires,--like demons shrined
Unholily in that fair form,--
Till when by touch of Heaven set free,
Thou camest, with those bright locks of gold
(So oft the gaze of BETHANY),
And covering in their precious fold
Thy Saviour's feet didst shed such tears
As paid, each drop, the sins of years!--
Thence on thro' all thy course of love
To Him, thy Heavenly Master,--Him
Whose bitter death-cup from above
Had yet this cordial round the brim,
That woman's faith and love stood fast
And fearless by Him to the last:--
Till, oh! blest boon for truth like thine!
Thou wert of all the chosen one,
Before whose eyes that Face Divine
When risen from the dead first shone;
That thou might'st see how, like a cloud,
Had past away its mortal shroud,
And make that bright revealment known
To hearts less trusting than thy own.
All is affecting, cheering, grand;
The kindliest record ever given,
Even under God's own kindly hand,
Of what repentance wins from Heaven!

No wonder, MARY, that thy face,
In all its touching light of tears,
Should meet us in each holy place,
Where Man before his God appears,
Hopeless--were he not taught to see
All hope in Him who pardoned thee!
No wonder that the painter's skill
Should oft have triumpht in the power
Of keeping thee all lovely still
Even in thy sorrow's bitterest hour;
That soft CORREGGIO should diffuse
His melting shadows round thy form;
That GUIDO'S pale, unearthly hues
Should in portraying thee grow warm;
That all--from the ideal, grand,
Inimitable Roman hand,
Down to the small, enameling touch
Of smooth CARLINO--should delight
In picturing her, "who loved so much,"
And was, in spite of sin, so bright!

But MARY, 'mong these bold essays
Of Genius and of Art to raise
A semblance of those weeping eyes--
A vision worthy of the sphere
Thy faith has earned thee in the skies,
And in the hearts of all men here,--
None e'er hath matched, in grief or grace,
CANOVA'S day-dream of thy face,
In those bright sculptured forms, more bright
With true expression's breathing light,
Than ever yet beneath the stroke
Of chisel into life awoke.
The one,[1] portraying what thou wert
In thy first grief,--while yet the flower
Of those young beauties was unhurt
By sorrow's slow, consuming power;
And mingling earth's seductive grace
With heaven's subliming thoughts so well,
We doubt, while gazing, in _which_ place
Such beauty was most formed to dwell!--
The other, as thou look'dst, when years
Of fasting, penitence and tears
Had worn thy frame;--and ne'er did Art
With half such speaking power express
The ruin which a breaking heart
Spreads by degrees o'er loveliness.
Those wasting arms, that keep the trace,
Even still, of all their youthful grace,
That loosened hair of which thy brow
Was once so proud,--neglected now!--
Those features even in fading worth
The freshest bloom to others given,
And those sunk eyes now lost to earth
But to the last still full of heaven!

Wonderful artist! praise, like mine--
Tho' springing from a soul that feels
Deep worship of those works divine
Where Genius all his light reveals--
How weak 'tis to the words that came
From him, thy peer in art and fame,[2]
Whom I have known, by day, by night,
Hang o'er thy marble with delight;
And while his lingering hand would steal
O'er every grace the taper's rays[3]
Give thee with all the generous zeal
Such master spirits only feel,
That best of fame, a rival's prize!

[1] This statue is one of the last works of Canova, and was not yet in
marble when I left Rome. The other, which seems to prove, in contradiction
to very high authority, that expression of the intensest kind is fully
within the sphere of sculpture, was executed many years ago, and is in the
possession of the Count Somariva at Paris.

[2] Chantrey.

[3] Canova always shows his fine statue, the Venere Vincitrice, by the
light of a small candle.

EXTRACT XVI.

Les Charmettes.

_A Visit to the house where Rousseau lived with Madame de Warrens.--
Their Menage.--Its Grossness.--Claude Anet.--Reverence with which the spot
is now visited.--Absurdity of this blind Devotion to Fame.--Feelings
excited by the Beauty and Seclusion of the Scene. Disturbed by its
Associations with Rousseau's History.--Impostures of Men of Genius.--Their
Power of mimicking all the best Feelings, Love, Independence, etc_.

Strange power of Genius, that can throw
Round all that's vicious, weak, and low,
Such magic lights, such rainbows dyes
As dazzle even the steadiest eyes.

* * * * *

'Tis worse than weak--'tis wrong, 'tis shame,
This mean prostration before Fame;
This casting down beneath the car
Of Idols, whatsoe'er they are,
Life's purest, holiest decencies,
To be careered o'er as they please.
No--give triumphant Genius all
For which his loftiest wish can call:
If he be worshipt, let it be
For attributes, his noblest, first;
Not with that base idolatry
Which sanctifies his last and worst.

I may be cold;--may want that glow
Of high romance which bards should know;
That holy homage which is felt
In treading where the great have dwelt;
This reverence, whatsoe'er it be,
I fear, I feel, I have it _not_:--
For here at this still hour, to me
The charms of this delightful spot,
Its calm seclusion from the throng,
From all the heart would fain forget,
This narrow valley and the song
Of its small murmuring rivulet,
The flitting to and fro of birds,
Tranquil and tame as they were once
In Eden ere the startling words
Of man disturbed their orisons,
Those little, shadowy paths that wind
Up the hillside, with fruit-trees lined
And lighted only by the breaks
The gay wind in the foliage makes,
Or vistas here and there that ope
Thro' weeping willows, like the snatches
Of far-off scenes of light, which Hope
Even tho' the shade of sadness catches!--
All this, which--could I once but lose
The memory of those vulgar ties
Whose grossness all the heavenliest hues
Of Genius can no more disguise
Than the sun's beams can do away
The filth of fens o'er which they play--
This scene which would have filled my heart
With thoughts of all that happiest is;--
Of Love where self hath only part,
As echoing back another's bliss;
Of solitude secure and sweet.
Beneath whose shade the Virtues meet.
Which while it shelters never chills
Our sympathies with human woe,
But keeps them like sequestered rills
Purer and fresher in their flow;
Of happy days that share their beams
'Twixt quiet mirth and wise employ;
Of tranquil nights that give in dreams
The moonlight of the morning's joy!--
All this my heart could dwell on here,
But for those gross mementoes near;
Those sullying truths that cross the track
Of each sweet thought and drive them back
Full into all the mire and strife
And vanities of that man's life,
Who more than all that e'er have glowed
With fancy's flame (and it was _his_,
In fullest warmth and radiance) showed
What an impostor Genius is;
How with that strong, mimetic art
Which forms its life and soul, it takes
All shapes of thought, all hues of heart,
Nor feels itself one throb it wakes;
How like a gem its light may smile
O'er the dark path by mortals trod,
Itself as mean a worm the while
As crawls at midnight o'er the sod;
What gentle words and thoughts may fall
From its false lip, what zeal to bless,
While home, friends, kindred, country, all,
Lie waste beneath its selfishness;
How with the pencil hardly dry
From coloring up such scenes of love
And beauty as make young hearts sigh
And dream and think thro' heaven they rove,
They who can thus describe and move,
The very workers of these charms,
Nor seek nor know a joy above
Some Maman's or Theresa's arms!

How all in short that makes the boast
Of their false tongues they want the most;
And while with freedom on their lips,
Sounding their timbrels, to set free
This bright world, laboring in the eclipse
Of priestcraft and of slavery,--
They may themselves be slaves as low
As ever Lord or Patron made
To blossom in his smile or grow
Like stunted brushwood in his shade.
Out on the craft!--I'd rather be
One of those hinds that round me tread,
With just enough of sense to see
The noonday sun that's o'er his head,
Than thus with high-built genius curst,
That hath no heart for its foundation,
Be all at once that's brightest, worst,
Sublimest, meanest in creation!

CORRUPTION,

AND

INTOLERANCE.

TWO POEMS.

ADDRESSED TO AN ENGLISHMAN BY AN IRISHMAN.

PREFACE.

The practice which has been lately introduced into literature, of writing
very long notes upon very indifferent verses, appears to me a rather happy
invention, as it supplies us with a mode of turning dull poetry to
account; and as horses too heavy for the saddle may yet serve well enough
to draw lumber, so Poems of this kind make excellent beasts of burden and
will bear notes though they may not bear reading. Besides, the comments in
such cases are so little under the necessity of paying any servile
deference to the text, that they may even adopt that Socratic, "_quod
supra nos nihil ad nos."_

In the first of the two following Poems, I have ventured to speak of the
Revolution of 1688, in language which has sometimes been employed by Tory
writers and which is therefore neither very new nor popular. But however
an Englishman might be reproached with ingratitude for depreciating the
merits and results of a measure which he is taught to regard as the source
of his liberties--however ungrateful it might appear in Alderman Birch to
question for a moment the purity of that glorious era to which he is
indebted for the seasoning of so many orations--yet an Irishman who has
none of these obligations to acknowledge, to whose country the Revolution
brought nothing but injury and insult, and who recollects that the book of
Molyneux was burned by order of William's Whig Parliament for daring to
extend to unfortunate Ireland those principles on which the Revolution was
professedly founded--an Irishman _may_ be allowed to criticise freely the
measures of that period without exposing himself either to the imputation
of ingratitude or to the suspicion of being influenced by any Popish
remains of Jacobitism. No nation, it is true, was ever blessed with a more
golden opportunity of establishing and securing its liberties for ever
than the conjuncture of Eighty-eight presented to the people of Great
Britain. But the disgraceful reigns of Charles and James had weakened and
degraded the national character. The bold notions of popular right which
had arisen out of the struggles between Charles the First and his
Parliament were gradually supplanted by those slavish doctrines for which
Lord Hawkesbury eulogizes the churchmen of that period, and as the
Reformation had happened too soon for the purity of religion, so the
Revolution came too late for the spirit of liberty. Its advantages
accordingly were for the most part specious and transitory, while the
evils which it entailed are still felt and still increasing. By rendering
unnecessary the frequent exercise of Prerogative,--that unwieldy power
which cannot move a step without alarm,--it diminished the only
interference of the Crown, which is singly and independently exposed
before the people, and whose abuses therefore are obvious to their senses
and capabilities. Like the myrtle over a celebrated statue in Minerva's
temple at Athens, it skilfully veiled from the public eye the only
obtrusive feature of royalty. At the same time, however, that the
Revolution abridged this unpopular attribute, it amply compensated by the
substitution of a new power, as much more potent in its effect as it is
more secret in its operations. In the disposal of an immense revenue and
the extensive patronage annexed to it, the first foundations of this power
of the Crown were laid; the innovation of a standing army at once
increased and strengthened it, and the few slight barriers which the Act
of Settlement opposed to its progress have all been gradually removed
during the Whiggish reigns that succeeded; till at length this spirit of
influence has become the vital principle of the state,--an agency, subtle
and unseen, which pervades every part of the Constitution, lurks under all
its forms and regulates all its movements, and, like the invisible sylph
or grace which presides over the motions of beauty,

"_illam, quicquid agit, quoquo westigia flectit,
componit furlim subsequiturque."_

The cause of Liberty and the Revolution are so habitually associated in
the minds of Englishmen that probably in objecting to the latter I may be
thought hostile or indifferent to the former. But assuredly nothing could
be more unjust than such a suspicion. The very object indeed which my
humble animadversions would attain is that in the crisis to which I think
England is now hastening, and between which and foreign subjugation she
may soon be compelled to choose, the errors and omissions of 1688 should
be remedied; and, as it was then her fate to experience a Revolution
without Reform, so she may now endeavor to accomplish a Reform without
Revolution.

In speaking of the parties which have so long agitated England, it will be
observed that I lean as little to the Whigs as to their adversaries. Both
factions have been equally cruel to Ireland and perhaps equally insincere
in their efforts for the liberties of England. There is one name indeed
connected with Whiggism, of which I can never think but with veneration
and tenderness. As justly, however, might the light of the sun be claimed
by any particular nation as the sanction of that name be monopolized by
any party whatsoever. Mr. Fox belonged to mankind and they have lost in
him their ablest friend.

With respect to the few lines upon Intolerance, which I have subjoined,
they are but the imperfect beginning of a long series of Essays with which
I here menace my readers upon the same important subject. I shall look to
no higher merit in the task than that of giving a new form to claims and
remonstrances which have often been much more eloquently urged and which
would long ere now have produced their effect, but that the minds of some
of our statesmen, like the pupil of the human eye, contract themselves the
more, the stronger light is shed upon them.

CORRUPTION,

AN EPISTLE.

Boast on, my friend--tho' stript of all beside,
Thy struggling nation still retains her pride:
That pride which once in genuine glory woke
When Marlborough fought and brilliant St. John spoke;
That pride which still, by time and shame unstung,
Outlives even Whitelocke's sword and Hawkesbury's tongue!
Boast on, my friend, while in this humbled isle[1]
Where Honor mourns and Freedom fears to smile,
Where the bright light of England's fame is known
But by the shadow o'er our fortunes thrown;
Where, doomed ourselves to naught but wrongs and slights,[2]
We hear you boast of Britain's glorious rights,
As wretched slaves that under hatches lie
Hear those on deck extol the sun and sky!
Boast on, while wandering thro' my native haunts,
I coldly listen to thy patriot vaunts;
And feel, tho' close our wedded countries twine,
More sorrow for my own than pride from thine.

Yet pause a moment--and if truths severe
Can find an inlet to that courtly ear,
Which hears no news but Ward's gazetted lies,
And loves no politics in rhyme but Pye's,--
If aught can please thee but the good old saws
Of "Church and State," and "William's matchless laws,"
And "Acts and Rights of glorious Eighty-eight,"--
Things which tho' now a century out of date
Still serve to ballast with convenient words,
A few crank arguments for speeching lords,--
Turn while I tell how England's freedom found,
Where most she lookt for life, her deadliest wound;
How brave she struggled while her foe was seen,
How faint since Influence lent that foe a screen;
How strong o'er James and Popery she prevailed,
How weakly fell when Whigs and gold assailed.

While kings were poor and all those schemes unknown
Which drain the people to enrich the throne;
Ere yet a yielding Commons had supplied
Those chains of gold by which themselves are tied,
Then proud Prerogative, untaught to creep
With bribery's silent foot on Freedom's sleep,
Frankly avowed his bold enslaving plan
And claimed a right from God to trample man!
But Luther's schism had too much roused mankind
For Hampden's truths to linger long behind;
Nor then, when king-like popes had fallen so low,
Could pope-like kings escape the levelling blow.[3]
That ponderous sceptre (in whose place we bow
To the light talisman of influence now),
Too gross, too visible to work the spell
Which modern power performs, in fragments fell:
In fragments lay, till, patched and painted o'er
With fleurs-de-lis, it shone and scourged once more.

'Twas then, my friend, thy kneeling nation quaft
Long, long and deep, the churchman's opiate draught
Of passive, prone obedience--then took flight
All sense of man's true dignity and right;
And Britons slept so sluggish in their chain
That Freedom's watch-voice called almost in vain.
Oh England! England! what a chance was thine,
When the last tyrant of that ill-starred line
Fled from his sullied crown and left thee free
To found thy own eternal liberty!
How nobly high in that propitious hour
Might patriot hands have raised the triple tower[4]
Of British freedom on a rock divine
Which neither force could storm nor treachery mine!
But no--the luminous, the lofty plan,
Like mighty Babel, seemed too bold for man;
The curse of jarring tongues again was given
To thwart a work which raised men nearer heaven.
While Tories marred what Whigs had scarce begun,
While Whigs undid what Whigs themselves had done.
The hour was lost and William with a smile
Saw Freedom weeping o'er the unfinisht pile!

Hence all the ills you suffer,--hence remain
Such galling fragments of that feudal chain[5]
Whose links, around you by the Norman flung,
Tho' loosed and broke so often, still have clung.
Hence sly Prerogative like Jove of old
Has turned his thunder into showers of gold,
Whose silent courtship wins securer joys,
Taints by degrees, and ruins without noise.
While parliaments, no more those sacred things
Which make and rule the destiny of kings.
Like loaded dice by ministers are thrown,
And each new set of sharpers cog their own.
Hence the rich oil that from the Treasury steals
Drips smooth o'er all the Constitution's wheels,
Giving the old machine such pliant play[6]
That Court and Commons jog one joltless way,
While Wisdom trembles for the crazy car,
So gilt, so rotten, carrying fools so far;
And the duped people, hourly doomed to pay
The sums that bribe their liberties away,[7]--
Like a young eagle who has lent his plume
To fledge the shaft by which he meets his doom,--
See their own feathers pluckt, to wing the dart
Which rank corruption destines for their heart!
But soft! methinks I hear thee proudly say,
"What! shall I listen to the impious lay
"That dares with Tory license to profane
"The bright bequests of William's glorious reign?
"Shall the great wisdom of our patriot sires,
"Whom Hawkesbury quotes and savory Birch admires,
"Be slandered thus? shall honest Steele agree
"With virtuous Rose to call us pure and free,
"Yet fail to prove it? Shall our patent pair
"Of wise state-poets waste their words in air,
"And Pye unheeded breathe his prosperous strain,
"And Canning _take the people's sense_ in vain?"

The people!--ah! that Freedom's form should stay
Where Freedom's spirit long hath past away!
That a false smile should play around the dead
And flush the features when the soul hath fled![8]
When Rome had lost her virtue with her rights,
When her foul tyrant sat on Capreae's heights,[9]
Amid his ruffian spies and doomed to death
Each noble name they blasted with their breath,--
Even then, (in mockery of that golden time,
When the Republic rose revered, sublime,
And her proud sons, diffused from zone to zone,
Gave kings to every nation but their own,)
Even then the senate and the tribunes stood,
Insulting marks, to show how high the flood
Of Freedom flowed, in glory's bygone day,
And how it ebbed,--for ever ebbed away![10]

Look but around--tho' yet a tyrant's sword
Nor haunts our sleep nor glitters o'er our board,
Tho' blood be better drawn, by modern quacks,
With Treasury leeches than with sword or axe;
Yet say, could even a prostrate tribune's power
Or a mock senate in Rome's servile hour
Insult so much the claims, the rights of man,
As doth that fettered mob, that free divan,
Of noble tools and honorable knaves,
Of pensioned patriots and privileged slaves;--
That party-colored mass which naught can warm
But rank corruption's heat--whose quickened swarm
Spread their light wings in Bribery's golden sky,
Buzz for a period, lay their eggs and die;--
That greedy vampire which from Freedom's tomb
Comes forth with all the mimicry of bloom
Upon its lifeless cheek and sucks and drains
A people's blood to feel its putrid veins!

Thou start'st, my friend, at picture drawn so dark--
"Is there no light?"--thou ask'st--"no lingering spark
"Of ancient fire to warm us? Lives there none,
"To act a Marvell's part?"[11]--alas! not one.
_To_ place and power all public spirit tends,
_In_ place and power all public spirit ends;
Like hardy plants that love the air and sky,
When _out_, 'twill thrive--but taken _in_, 'twill die!

Not bolder truths of sacred Freedom hung
From Sidney's pen or burned on Fox's tongue,
Than upstart Whigs produce each market-night,
While yet their conscience, as their purse, is light;
While debts at home excite their care for those
Which, dire to tell, their much-loved country owes,
And loud and upright, till their prize be known,
They thwart the King's supplies to raise their own.
But bees on flowers alighting cease their hum--
So, settling upon places, Whigs grow dumb.
And, tho' most base is he who, 'neath the shade
Of Freedom's ensign plies corruption's trade,
And makes the sacred flag he dares to show
His passport to the market of her foe,
Yet, yet, I own, so venerably dear
Are Freedom's grave old anthems to my ear,
That I enjoy them, tho' by traitors sung,
And reverence Scripture even from Satan's tongue.
Nay, when the constitution has expired,
I'll have such men, like Irish wakers, hired
To chant old "_Habeas Corpus_" by its side,
And ask in purchased ditties why it died?

See yon smooth lord whom nature's plastic pains
Would seem to've fashioned for those Eastern reigns
When eunuchs flourisht, and such nerveless things
As men rejected were the chosen of kings;--[12]
Even _he_, forsooth, (oh fraud, of all the worst!)
Dared to assume the patriot's name at first--
Thus Pitt began, and thus begin his apes;
Thus devils when _first_ raised take pleasing shapes.
But oh, poor Ireland! if revenge be sweet
For centuries of wrong, for dark deceit
And withering insult--for the Union thrown
Into thy bitter cup when that alone
Of slavery's draught was wanting[13]--if for this
Revenge be sweet, thou _hast_ that daemon's bliss;
For sure 'tis more than hell's revenge to fee
That England trusts the men who've ruined thee:--
That in these awful days when every hour
Creates some new or blasts some ancient power,
When proud Napoleon like the enchanted shield
Whose light compelled each wondering foe to yield,
With baleful lustre blinds the brave and free
And dazzles Europe into slavery,--
That in this hour when patriot zeal should guide,
When Mind should rule and--Fox should _not_ have died,
All that devoted England can oppose
To enemies made fiends and friends made foes,
Is the rank refuse, the despised remains
Of that unpitying power, whose whips and chains
Drove Ireland first to turn with harlot glance
Towards other shores and woo the embrace of France;--
Those hacked and tainted tools, so foully fit
For the grand artisan of mischief, Pitt,
So useless ever but in vile employ,
So weak to save, so vigorous to destroy--
Such are the men that guard thy threatened shore,
Oh England! sinking England! boast no more.

[1] England began very early to feel the effects of cruelty towards her
dependencies. "The severity of her government [says Macpherson]
contributed more to deprive her of the continental dominions of the family
of the Plantagenet than the arms of France."--See his _History_, vol.
i.

[2] "By the total reduction of the kingdom of Ireland in 1691[says
Burke], the ruin of the native Irish, and in a great measure, too, of the
first races of the English, was completely accomplished. The new English
interested was settled with as solid a stability as anything in human
affairs can look for. All the penal laws of that unparalleled code of
oppression, which were made after the last event, were manifestly the
effects of national hatred and scorn towards a conquered people, whom the
victors delighted to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to provoke."
Yet this is the era to which the wise Common Council of Dublin refer us
for "invaluable blessings," etc.

[3] The drivelling correspondence between James I and his "dog Steenie"
(the Duke of Buckingham), which we find among the Hardwicke Papers,
sufficiently shows, if we wanted any such illustration, into what doting,
idiotic brains the plan at arbitrary power may enter.

[4] Tacitus has expressed his opinion, in a passage very frequently
quoted, that such a distribution of power as the theory of the British
constitution exhibits is merely a subject of bright speculation, "a system
more easily praised than practised, and which, even could it happen to
exist, would certainly not prove permanent;" and, in truth, a review of
England's annals would dispose us to agree with the great historian's
remark. For we find that at no period whatever has this balance of the
three estates existed; that the nobles predominated till the policy of
Henry VII, and his successor reduced their weight by breaking up the
feudal system of property; that the power of the Crown became then supreme
and absolute, till the bold encroachments of the Commons subverted the
fabric altogether; that the alternate ascendency of prerogative and
privilege distracted the period which followed the Restoration; and that
lastly, the Acts of 1688, by laying the foundation of an unbounded court-
influence, have secured a preponderance to the Throne, which every
succeeding year increases. So that the vaunted British constitution has
never perhaps existed but in mere theory.

[5] The last great wound given to the feudal system was the Act of the
12th of Charles II, which abolished the tenure of knight's service _in
capite_, and which Blackstone compares, for its salutary influence upon
property, to the boasted provisions of Magna Charta itself. Yet even in
this act we see the effects of that counteracting spirit which has
contrived to weaken every effort of the English nation towards liberty.

[6] "They drove so fast [says Wellwood of the ministers of Charles I.],
that it was no wonder that the wheels and chariot broke."--(_Memoirs_
p. 86.)

[7] Among those auxiliaries which the Revolution of 1688 marshalled on the
side of the Throne, the bugbear of Popery has not been the least
convenient and serviceable. Those unskilful tyrants, Charles and James,
instead of profiting by that useful subserviency which has always
distinguished the ministers of our religious establishment, were so
infatuated as to plan the ruin of this best bulwark of their power and
moreover connected their designs upon the Church so undisguisedly with
their attacks upon the Constitution that they identified in the minds of
the people the interests of their religion and their liberties. During
those times therefore "No Popery" was the watchword of freedom and served
to keep the public spirit awake against the invasions of bigotry and
prerogative.

[8] "It is a scandal [said Sir Charles Sedley in William's reign] that a
government so sick at heart as ours is should look so well in the face."

[9] The senate still continued, during the reign of Tiberius, to manage
all the business of the public: the money was then and long after coined
by their authority, and every other public affair received their sanction.

[10] There is something very touching in what Tacitus tells us of the
hopes that revived in a few patriot bosoms, when the death of Augustus was
near approaching, and the fond expectation with which they already began
"_bona libertatis incassum disserere_."

[11] Andrew Marvell, the honest opposer of the court during the reign of
Charles the Second, and the last member of parliament who, according to
the ancient mode, took wages from his constituents. The Commons have,
since then, much changed their pay-masters.

[12] According to Xenophon, the chief circumstance which recommended these
creatures to the service of Eastern princes was the ignominious station
they held in society, and the probability of their being, upon this
account, more devoted to the will and caprice of a master, from whose
notice alone they derived consideration, and in whose favor they might
seek refuge from the general contempt of mankind.

[13] Among the many measures, which, since the Revolution, have
contributed to increase the influence of the Throne, and to feed up this
"Aaron's serpent" of the constitution to its present healthy and
respectable magnitude, there have been few more nutritive than the Scotch
and Irish Unions.

INTOLERANCE,

A SATIRE.

"This clamor which pretends to be raised for the safety of religion
has almost worn put the very appearance of it, and rendered us not
only the most divided but the most immoral people upon the face of the
earth."

ADDISON, _Freeholder_, No. 37.

Start not, my friend, nor think the Muse will stain
Her classic fingers with the dust profane
Of Bulls, Decrees and all those thundering scrolls
Which took such freedom once with royal souls,[1]
When heaven was yet the pope's exclusive trade,
And kings were _damned_ as fast as now they're _made_,
No, no--let Duigenan search the papal chair
For fragrant treasures long forgotten there;
And, as the witch of sunless Lapland thinks
That little swarthy gnomes delight in stinks,
Let sallow Perceval snuff up the gale
Which wizard Duigenan's gathered sweets exhale.
Enough for me whose heart has learned to scorn
Bigots alike in Rome or England born,
Who loathe the venom whence-soe'er it springs,
From popes or lawyers,[2] pastrycooks or kings,--
Enough for me to laugh and weep by turns,
As mirth provokes or indignation burns,
As Canning Vapors or as France succeeds,
As Hawkesbury proses, or as Ireland bleeds!

And thou, my friend, if, in these headlong days,
When bigot Zeal her drunken antics plays
So near a precipice, that men the while
Look breathless on and shudder while they smile--
If in such fearful days thou'lt dare to look
To hapless Ireland, to this rankling nook
Which Heaven hath freed from poisonous things in vain,
While Gifford's tongue and Musgrave's pen remain--
If thou hast yet no golden blinkers got
To shade thine eyes from this devoted spot,
Whose wrongs tho' blazoned o'er the world they be,
Placemen alone are privileged _not_ to see--
Oh! turn awhile, and tho' the shamrock wreathes
My homely harp, yet shall the song it breathes
Of Ireland's slavery and of Ireland's woes
Live when the memory of her tyrant foes
Shall but exist, all future knaves to warn,
Embalmed in hate and canonized by scorn.
When Castlereagh in sleep still more profound
Than his own opiate tongue now deals around,
Shall wait the impeachment of that awful day
Which even _his_ practised hand can't bribe away.

Yes, my dear friend, wert thou but near me now,
To see how Spring lights up on Erin's brow
Smiles that shine out unconquerably fair
Even thro' the blood-marks left by Camden there,--[3]
Couldst thou but see what verdure paints the sod
Which none but tyrants and their slaves have trod,
And didst thou know the spirit, kind and brave,
That warms the soul of each insulted slave,
Who tired with struggling sinks beneath his lot
And seems by all but watchful France forgot--[4]
Thy heart would burn--yes, even thy Pittite heart
Would burn to think that such a blooming part
Of the world's garden, rich in nature's charms
And filled with social souls and vigorous arms,
Should be the victim of that canting crew,
So smooth, so godly,--yet so devilish too;
Who, armed at once with prayer-books and with whips,
Blood on their hands and Scripture on their lips,
Tyrants by creed and tortures by text,
Make _this_ life hell in honor of the _next_!
Your Redesdales, Percevals,--great, glorious Heaven,
If I'm presumptuous, be my tongue forgiven,
When here I swear by my soul's hope of rest,
I'd rather have been born ere man was blest
With the pure dawn of Revelation's light,
Yes,--rather plunge me back in Pagan night,
And take my chance with Socrates for bliss,[5]
Than be the Christian of a faith like this,
Which builds on heavenly cant its earthly sway
And in a convert mourns to lose a prey;
Which, grasping human hearts with double hold,--
Like Danaee's lover mixing god and gold,[6]--
Corrupts both state and church and makes an oath
The knave and atheist's passport into both;
Which, while it dooms dissenting souls to know
Nor bliss above nor liberty below,
Adds the slave's suffering to the sinner's fear,
And lest he 'scape hereafter racks him here!
But no--far other faith, far milder beams
Of heavenly justice warm the Christian's dreams;
_His_ creed is writ on Mercy's page above,
By the pure hands of all-atoning Love;
_He_ weeps to see abused Religion twine
Round Tyranny's coarse brow her wreath divine;
And _he_, while round him sects and nations raise
To the one God their varying notes of praise,
Blesses each voice, whate'er its tone may be,
That serves to swell the general harmony.[7]

Such was the spirit, gently, grandly bright,
That filled, oh Fox! thy peaceful soul with light;
While free and spacious as that ambient air
Which folds our planet in its circling care,
The mighty sphere of thy transparent mind
Embraced the world, and breathed for all mankind.
Last of the great, farewell!--yet _not_ the last--
Tho' Britain's sunshine hour with thee be past,
Ierne still one ray of glory gives
And feels but half thy loss while Grattan lives.

[1] The king-deposing doctrine, notwithstanding its many mischievous
absurdities, was of no little service to the cause of political liberty,
by inculcating the right of resistance to tyrants and asserting the will
of the people to be the only true fountain of power.

[2] When Innocent X. was entreated to decide the controversy between the
Jesuits and the Jansenists, he answered, that "he had been bred a lawyer,
and had therefore nothing to do with divinity." It were to be wished that
some of our English pettifoggers knew their own fit element as well as
Pope Innocent X.

[3] Not the Camden who speaks thus of Ireland:--"To wind up all, whether
we regard the fruitfulness of the soil, the advantage of the sea, with so
many commodious havens, or the natives themselves, who are warlike,
ingenious, handsome, and well-complexioned, soft-skinned and very nimble,
by reason of the pliantness of their muscles, this Island is in many
respects so happy, that Giraldus might very well say, 'Nature had regarded
with more favorable eyes than ordinary this Kingdom of Zephyr.'"

[4] The example of toleration, which Bonaparte has held forth, will, I
fear, produce no other effect than that of determining the British
government to persist, from the very spirit of opposition, in their own
old system of intolerance and injustice: just as the Siamese blacken their
teeth, "because," as they say, "the devil has white ones."

[5] In a singular work, written by one Franciscus Collius, "upon the Souls
of the Pagans," the author discusses, with much coolness and erudition,
all the probable chances of salvation upon which a heathen philosopher
might calculate. Consigning to perdition without much difficulty Plato,
Socrates, etc., the only sage at whose fate he seems to hesitate is
Pythagoras, in consideration of his golden thigh, and the many miracles
which he performed. But having balanced a little his claims and finding
reason to father all these miracles on the devil, he at length, in the
twenty-fifth chapter, decides upon damning him also.

[6] Mr. Fox, in his Speech on the Repeal of the Test Act (1790), thus
condemns the intermixture of religion with the political constitution of a
state:--"What purpose [he asks] can it serve, except the baleful purpose
of communicating and receiving contamination? Under such an alliance
corruption must alight upon the one, and slavery overwhelm the other."

[7] Both Bayle and Locke would have treated the subject of Toleration in a
manner much more worthy of themselves and of the cause if they had written
in an age less distracted by religious prejudices.

THE SCEPTIC,

A PHILOSOPHICAL SATIRE.

PREFACE.

The Sceptical Philosophy of the Ancients has been no less misrepresented
than the Epicurean. Pyrrho may perhaps have carried it to rather an
irrational excess;--but we must not believe with Beattie all the
absurdities imputed to this philosopher; and it appears to me that the
doctrines of the school, as explained by Sextus Empiricus, are far more
suited to the wants and infirmities of human reason as well as more
conducive to the mild virtues of humility and patience, than any of those
systems of philosophy which preceded the introduction of Christianity. The
Sceptics may be said to have held a middle path between the Dogmatists and
Academicians; the former of whom boasted that they had attained the truth
while the latter denied that any attainable truth existed. The Sceptics
however, without either asserting or denying its existence, professed to
be modestly and anxiously in search of it; or, as St. Augustine expresses
it, in his liberal tract against the Manichaeans, "_nemo nostrum dicat jam
se invenisse veritatem; sic eam quoeramus quasi ab utrisque nesciatur_."
From this habit of impartial investigation and the necessity which it
imposed upon them of studying not only every system of philosophy but
every art and science which professed to lay its basis in truth, they
necessarily took a wider range of erudition and were far more travelled in
the regions of philosophy than those whom conviction or bigotry had
domesticated in any particular system. It required all the learning of
dogmatism to overthrow the dogmatism of learning; and the Sceptics may be
said to resemble in this respect that ancient incendiary who stole from
the altar the fire with which he destroyed the temple. This advantage over
all the other sects is allowed to them even by Lipsius, whose treatise on
the miracles of the Virgo Hallensis will sufficiently save him from all
suspicion of scepticism. "_labore, ingenio, memoria_," he says, "_supra
omnes pene philosophos fuisse.--quid nonne omnia aliorum secta tenere
debuerunt et inquirere, si poterunt refellere? res dicit nonne orationes
varias, raras, subtiles inveniri ad tam receptas, claras, certas (ut
videbatur) sententias evertendas?" etc.--"Manuduct. ad Philosoph. Stoic."
Dissert_. 4.

Between the scepticism of the ancients and the moderns the great
difference is that the former doubted for the purpose of investigating, as
may be exemplified by the third book of Aristotle's Metaphysics, while the
latter investigate for the purpose of doubting, as may be seen through
most of the philosophical works of Hume. Indeed the Pyrrhonism of latter
days is not only more subtle than that of antiquity, but, it must be
confessed, more dangerous in its tendency. The happiness of a Christian
depends so essentially upon his belief, that it is but natural he should
feel alarm at the progress of doubt, lest it should steal by degrees into
that region from which he is most interested in excluding it, and poison
at last the very spring of his consolation and hope. Still however the
abuses of doubting ought not to deter a philosophical mind from indulging
mildly and rationally in its use; and there is nothing surely more
consistent with the meek spirit of Christianity than that humble
scepticism which professes not to extend its distrust beyond the circle of
human pursuits and the pretensions of human knowledge. A follower of this
school may be among the readiest to admit the claims of a superintending
Intelligence upon his faith and adoration: it is only to the wisdom of
this weak world that he refuses or at least delays his assent;--it is only
in passing through the shadow of earth that his mind undergoes the eclipse
of scepticism. No follower of Pyrrho has ever spoken more strongly against
the dogmatists than St. Paul himself, in the First Epistle to the
Corinthians; and there are passages in Ecclesiastes and other parts of
Scripture, which justify our utmost diffidence in all that human reason
originates. Even the Sceptics of antiquity refrained carefully from the
mysteries of theology, and in entering the temples of religion laid aside
their philosophy at the porch. Sextus Empiricus declares the acquiescence
of his sect in the general belief of a divine and foreknowing Power:--In
short it appears to me that this rational and well-regulated scepticism is
the only daughter of the Schools that can safely be selected as a handmaid
for Piety. He who distrusts the light of reason will be the first to
follow a more luminous guide; and if with an ardent love for truth he has
sought her in vain through the ways of this life, he will but turn with
the more hope to that better world where all is simple, true and
everlasting: for there is no parallax at the zenith;--it is only near our
troubled horizon that objects deceive us into vague and erroneous
calculations.

THE SCEPTIC

As the gay tint that decks the vernal rose[1]
Not in the flower but in our vision glows;
As the ripe flavor of Falernian tides
Not in the wine but in our taste resides;
So when with heartfelt tribute we declare
That Marco's honest and that Susan's fair,
'Tis in our minds and not in Susan's eyes
Or Marco's life the worth or beauty lies:
For she in flat-nosed China would appear
As plain a thing as Lady Anne is here;
And one light joke at rich Loretto's dome
Would rank good Marco with the damned at Rome.

There's no deformity so vile, so base,
That 'tis not somewhere thought a charm, a grace;
No foul reproach that may not steal a beam
From other suns to bleach it to esteem.
Ask who is wise?--you'll find the self-same man
A sage in France, a madman in Japan;
And _here_ some head beneath a mitre swells,
Which _there_ had tingled to a cap and bells:
Nay, there may yet some monstrous region be,
Unknown to Cook and from Napoleon free,
Where Castlereagh would for a patriot pass
And mouthing Musgrave scarce be deemed an ass!

"List not to reason (Epicurus cries),
"But trust the senses, _there_ conviction lies:"[2]--
Alas! _they_ judge not by a purer light,
Nor keep their fountains more untinged and bright:
Habit so mars them that the Russian swain
Will sigh for train-oil while he sips Champagne;
And health so rules them, that a fever's heat
Would make even Sheridan think water sweet.

Just as the mind the erring sense[3] believes,
The erring mind in turn the sense deceives;
And cold disgust can find but wrinkles there,
Where passion fancies all that's smooth and fair.
P * * * *, who sees, upon his pillow laid,
A face for which ten thousand pounds were paid,
Can tell how quick before a jury flies
The spell that mockt the warm seducer's eyes.

Self is the medium thro' which Judgment's ray
Can seldom pass without being turned astray.
The smith of Ephesus[4] thought Dian's shrine,
By which his craft most throve, the most divine;
And even the _true_ faith seems not half so true,
When linkt with _one_ good living as with _two_.
Had Wolcot first been pensioned by the throne,
Kings would have suffered by his praise alone;
And Paine perhaps, for something snug _per ann_.,
Had laught like Wellesley at all Rights of Man.

But 'tis not only individual minds,--
Whole nations too the same delusion blinds.
Thus England, hot from Denmark's smoking meads,
Turns up her eyes at Gallia's guilty deeds;
Thus, self-pleased still, the same dishonoring chain
She binds in Ireland she would break in Spain;
While praised at distance, but at home forbid,
Rebels in Cork are patriots at Madrid.

If Grotius be thy guide, shut, shut the book,--

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