Poems 1799 by Robert Southey

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Clytie Siddall, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team POEMS, by Robert Southey. The better, please; the worse, displease; I ask no more. SPENSER. THE SECOND VOLUME. CONTENTS. THE VISION of THE MAID of ORLEANS. Book 1 2 3 The Rose The Complaints of the Poor Metrical Letter BALLADS. The
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Clytie Siddall, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team



Robert Southey.

The better, please; the worse, displease; I ask no more.





Book 1

The Rose

The Complaints of the Poor

Metrical Letter


The Cross Roads.

The Sailor who had served in the Slave Trade


Lord William

A Ballad shewing how an old woman rode double and who rode before her

The Surgeon’s Warning

The Victory

Henry the Hermit


The Old Mansion House

The Grandmother’s Tale

The Funeral

The Sailor’s Mother

The Witch

The Ruined Cottage

The Vision


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 Poem.]



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 [1] faculty; Or that the soul, escaped its fleshly clog, Flies free, and soars amid the invisible world, And all things ‘are’ that [2] ‘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 [3] 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 In recollection.

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!
Coward wretch!
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!
Thinkest thou,
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 Insulted modesty?”
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 On carcasses.
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 [4] 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!”

[Footnote 1:

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.

‘Sup Lucani’.]

[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 Ebersbachiano.’ 1621.

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.

‘Matthew Paris’.]

[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.]



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 Her THEODORE.
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.
“Beloved Maid!
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 [1] pass, than the rich man Enter the gates of heaven. “Ye cannot serve Your God, and worship Mammon.”
“Missioned Maid!”
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 [2] 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.
Unmolested there
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
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,
Disciplin’d sorely.
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.
These next,
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?”
Theodore replied,
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 [3] 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 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, Enter.”
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 Contented.”
“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 Early escape!”
“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, [1] 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 Of wisdom!”
“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 [2] 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 apartment.

(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.]

The Rose.

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.


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.


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.

The Sailor,

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.



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.