Paradise of Martyrs (2)
Home Up Autobiography Thoughts at Fourscore Gulf of Time Old Fashioned Stories Self-help Prison Rhymes, etc. Baron's Yule Feast Purgatory of Suicides Poets of the Poor Reviews, etc. Main Index Site Search


[Book I.]



COME forth, my Love!  Old Winter, harsh and frore,
Flees the young vernal Sun!  Come forth, my Love!
Let us renew sweet childhood's joys once more
Once more return with merriment to rove
Adown the dear old lanes, through the loved grove,
O'er mead, and marsh, and pasture!   Though with lithe
And limber steps we can no longer move,
The flowers will laugh around us!   Ere Death's scythe

Shall reach us, let us share again Spring-pleasures blythe!


What say'st thou, Love—"Will there be flowers in
They should grow there, Love, for thine own sweet sake.
But, while on earth we stay, and flowers are given
To us on earth so lovely that they make
Our hearts rejoice within us, and oft wake
A wonder whether saints in bliss behold
Aught that doth seem more truly to partake
Of rapturous loveliness than flowers unfold

Of loveliness on earth, though only of earth's mould,


Let us go forth, and look into their eyes
Of love, once more!
                                              Old faces, ever new,
Men would look fondlier on ye, were they wise:
Ye harbour no ingratitude: the view
Of your bright beauty breeds no spite: your hue
And splendour raise no jealousies: content
Is your inheritance, and ye subdue
Aspiring thoughts in man: most eloquent

Is your frail life how briefly mortal life is spent!


How oft your mute but holy chaplainship
Hath led the heart of man to holiest prayer:
Heart prayer: more true than orisons o' the lip!
Still let me seek ye in the freshening air
Of morn; and as ye ope your eyes so fair
And look towards heaven,—upward I'll look
With grateful love, and humbly cast my care
On Him who Gareth for ye, in your nook

Wherein so lowlily ye nestle.   In His Book


I learn He loved ye, when He walked on earth
With lowly men, and taught them that the king
So wealthy and wise was not, with all his girth
Of glorious robes and jewels glistering,
Arrayed like one of ye!—
                                         Welcome, sweet Spring—
My natal time!—How I could love to live
For ever here, if thou Wert garlanding
The earth, alway.   Thanks, rather, let me give

For joys thou giv'st: this life of joy is fugitive!


Come forth, my Love! the sorrel of the wood—
Thy darling tenderling—in mossy shade
Now blossoms fair, the bluebell is in bud;
And the frail windflower and the primrose fade.
O violet sweet! hath thy rich hue dismayed
Thy pale companions?—Let's to the brooklet's edge!
See how the turbaned geum hath displayed
Its pride!—Step hither, darling, through the sedge:

'Twill glad thine eyes: I've found the golden saxifrage!


Hark! 'tis the cuckoo: Spring's true harbinger!
We all feel sure 'tis Spring—'tis life renewed—
When that quaint note—quaint, yet beloved—we hear!
How wondrous 'twas in childhood!   All unviewed,
The curious voice with ardour we pursued,
Imagining the wood, the vale, the hill
Contained it,—nor desire to run subdued
Easily, though out of breath!   How like our will

To follow fancies that can ne'er the wide soul fill!


List, list again! the stock-dove coos her coy
But fervent love; that lowly minor song
The yellow-hammer sings brings back the joy
Of early years; the linnet perched among
The golden gorse doth tenderly prolong
Old, sweet remembrances; while, overhead,
The soaring lark, in anthems clear and strong,
Leads back desire to joys that will bestead

The yearning soul most truly while on earth we tread.


But, list again!   How tear the heart away
From earth, while listening to yon flute of gold
The blackbird sweetly plays?   What powerful sway
Hath such rapt music for the soul!   Oh cold,
Relentless Death! how I thy power controlled
Could wish, that I might ever stay on earth
And listen to her music manifold!
What wonder that her music and her mirth

Have such enchantment for a thing of earthly birth?


What tiny woodman's axe rings lightly down
Our path?   Lo, yonder to the rotten tree
Clings the green-feathered worker, with his crown
Of burning crimson!   With what saucy glee
The bar-winged jay and magpie laugh to see
Their neighbour's toil!   Let idlers all deride—
He works in earnest, having found the key
To unlock the insect treasures that there hide:

Well done, fairbird! work on, whether they laugh or


Shall we press inward, to the thicket dern,
Where rare Herb Paris springs, and orchids flout
The mystic stranger, 'mid young snake-curled fern?
Hark! in the swamp, how merrily the rout
Of snow-white crowfoots seem to sing and shout:
"We are as fair as lilies!"   Many a year,
Loved lilies of the vale! with hope devout,
In vain, I've sought ye, and begin to fear

The music of your fairy bells I shall not hear


As in Lea Wood I heard it, when—a child,
Love-guided by my brave dear mother's hand,
I went to pluck ye, and my mother smiled,
Forgetting her oppressors 'midst the bland
And gladdening smile of Spring.   'Midst yon bright
I soon shall meet her—for, in Christ she died!
Sweet Lord, I thank Thee, that in Thy glad land
No woe or weeping shall the Poor betide:

No more their souls shall ache beneath the scourge of


Away, old sorrows of the heart, away!
How surely do your memories live, though years,
We think, have buried them!   But now sweet May
Hath come, this is no time for sorrow's tears.
Let tears flow, rather, from the fount that nears
The fount of sorrow, in the soul: so twin
Is all our nature! on the face that wears
The clouds of sorrow radiant joys soon shine;

And smiles to tears, soft, whisper—"Lo, we are


"It is the merry, merry month of May!"—
So sang we in our childhood; and the song
Let us sing cheerily 'mong the flowers so gay!
They are not fallen to sin, or stained with wrong.
O give us of your pureness, happy throng
Of virgin starworts!—your untainted show
Of beauty seems more truly to belong
To bliss, because so near the ground ye blow

Even fairest flowers seem happiest when they humbly


And humble as thy name doth thee betoken,
Lowly ground-ivy, not a cultured flower
Of which we hear words superfine fairspoken,—
Whether in trim parterre or lady's bower,
Or grand conservatory,—holds a dower
Of richer splendour than thy purple dye!
Nor seems the dahlia, in its robes of power,
More beautiful than thy meek fairy eye,

And tinct serene, as of the noon-day summer sky,


Dear speedwell, that so modestly dost cower
Under the hedgerow!   Pilewort, with its sheen
Of gold, and daisy silver-rayed,—the flower
So dear to every child!—with lovelier mien,
Seem to gaze on us from their couch of green
Upon the ground, than if they did look down
From lofty boughs of lordly forest treen.
From lofty things we rather fear a frown,

Than look that smiles by them upon the earth be strown.


What hast thou found?—the fairy moschatel?
How fitly did the wise and reverent Swede
"Unglorying" name it!   He named all things well—
The lowly interpreter of Nature: freed
From base self-worship, all things did him lead
To enthrone the All-Worshipful, and trace His hand
Of tireless care and wisdom in each weed,
Each winged and creeping thing, proud man hath

As much as in the beautiful, the gay, the grand.


There goes the startled throstle from her nest!
Come, let us seek for it, but not destroy
Or rudely touch its precious treasure, lest
The bird should grieve when she comes back to pry
If all be safe.   Eureka!—when a boy,
If I had found five eggs so beauteous blue
And speckled, I should have gone wild with joy!
I wish I had found out the value true

Of other pretty things I did so long pursue


Only to find them valueless and void
Of aught to make man happier.   How the eyes,
The ears, the taste, and every sense beside,
Deceive us!—and, when undeceived, what sighs
We heave to be deceived again!   Disguise
It as we may, the winsome world we deem
So false is chiefly our own making.   Lies
Will sparkle as if writ with Truth's own beam

To minds content to rest on hopes that only seem.


Our steps grow weary, Love!   Let us wend home—
Though home we share no longer, as in days
Gone by.   Worn pilgrims, through the world we roam,
Calling no cot "our own," kindling no blaze
On our own hearth, bidding a friend who pays
His evening visit "welcome!" now, no more.
What then?   We know no want: so let us raise
Our thankful hearts unto the Great Bestower:

Life shall be DUTY while it lasts; 'twill soon be o'er!


My evening task wrought out, once more, when sleep
Imperfectly again had shut out sense
Of outward things—which, evermore, we threap,
Are real and true, while but a fraudulence
Of brain o'er-busy 'tis, or indigence
Of gastric power, that fills the mind with dreams,—
I dreamt again that I had audience
Of martyred souls in converse on high themes:

A company brightly clad with heaven's own glorious


The Martyrs' names ybore of reverence—names
A false religion teaches men should hold
As mediatorial.   But, I wis, no claims
On earth they made so arrogant and bold;
And their descant in heaven left all untold
Such fictions of old Priestcraft.   Holy Paul
The persecutor saved—I did behold;
And with him Peter and James; apostles all

Of Him who died to save their sinful souls from thrall.


They spake not of the kind of death they died
Not Paul of his beheading; nor if on
The self-same day Peter was crucified [1]
Head downwards, in the spiritual Babylon;
Nor of the sword wherewith the brother of John
Was slain, by murderous Herod, heard I word
Of boasting made by James.   And when, anon,
There met them James, the brother of the Lord,

Surnamed "the Just," he spake not of the old record,


How lawlessly the Pharisaic mob
Hurled him sheer down from off the temple's wing
And beat his brains out with a fuller's club,[2]
Because full often they had felt the sting
Of his reproofs amid their trafficking
With vice in virtue's name.   No thought of pride
Did to the souls of the Apostles cling,
While speaking of the Past.   It seemed beside

A stream of Paradise, in lowliness, they hied.


Most gratefully they spake of what they owed
To their most loving Lord; and of the grace
He gave them, while upon the earth they trode,
His saving truth to welcome and embrace;
And power to war with old affections base,
Within; and strength and boldness to proclaim,
Alike to Greek and Jew, in every place,
The Gospel of God's Christ; and His high Name

To enthrone where'er they bore the cross, despising


And then they spake, in wonder, how such weak
And faulty creatures as on earth they felt
They were, God should have used His truth to speak
And spread so widely through the realms where knelt
Fallen men to brutish idols:—from the belt
Of Libyan sand, and by the pillars named,
Falsely, of Hercules, where the Iberian Kelt
Worshipped the sun; and all around the famed

Great Mediterranean Sea, 'mong nations haughtily


For vassals by the imperial men of Rome,—
To question-loving Athens, Corinth lewd—
Of merchandise and wealth and sin become
The heart of Greece, in her decrepitude;—
And through the isles o'er the Ægean strewed;
And in the stately cities of Levant,
And Lesser Asia; till again were viewed
The prostrate peoples who, with fire and chaunt,

Knelt to the sun, in degradation jubilant!


And then they blessed the holy name of Christ,
That now His truth across the seas was borne
To men in late-found regions; and rejoiced
That Gentile nations whom their sires with scorn
Had looked upon, and treated as forlorn,
Forsaken things of God, were filled with zeal
For Christian truth.   And then they 'gan to mourn,
As happy spirits mourn in heaven, and feel

For brethren who reject blindly their highest weal.


"Oh that our brethren who on earth still boast
Of father Abraham's seed"—were the earnest cries
Of holy Paul—"from grovelling in the dust
Would cease, and strive to win the blessed prize
Of life we share in Jesu's Paradise!
When from their sight will they let fall the scales
Of stubborn prejudice, and exercise
The gift of patient thought, that never fails

To find out truth, when earnestness in men prevails,


"And preference for the truth, whate'er betide
Him that embraceth it?   For God doth aid,
Unknowing to the seeking soul, and guide
Its search for truth.   'Twas thus displayed
Was His large pity, although fierceness swayed
My spirit, and I burned to shed the blood
Of Jesu's saints.   His holy eyes pervade
Men's thoughts, marking their yearnings for the good,

And leading them by ways they have not understood."


"Yet, 'twas not patient thought, my brother Paul,
I trove, that saved thee," with fraternal smile
Spake Peter; "rather say 'tis goodness all—
Free, sovereign goodness—that doth choose the vile:
The persecutor, thou—on murder bent, the while:
The faithless, I, who did deny my Lord:
'Tis sovereign goodness that doth reconcile
Fallen men to God."
                                    "For ever be adored

That goodness!   Thou hast spoken the wiser and better


The great apostle of the Gentiles said,
With noble haste of meekness.   "We must wait
The Lord's good time.   'Twill surely come.   The
Shall rise to holy life.   God will create
Israel anew.   His people's afterstate
Of bliss on earth shall come.   Men shall behold
The day when every Jew shall hail God's great
Messiah—Jesus the Nazarene—their old

Rapt seers with joy beheld, and rapturously foretold."


"Yet God," said James, the martyr of that lewd
And cruel king who gave the dancer vain
John Baptist's head for fee, "still lets the feud
Prevail 'tween Jew and Gentile.   And the reign
Of Christ on earth seems distant far.   The strain
Of triumph for the lowly Jesus swells
Not yet, o'er land and sea.   Old Error's chain
Still binds half earth.   The dark-skinned heathen sells

His children to the white for gold.   Earth's lands are hells


"Of evil yet, in spite of all God's strife
With men, and Christ's dear suffering, and the zeal
Of His dear saints.   And yet may many a life
Of Christian men be taken by the steel
Of murderers vile who bear the outward seal
And name of Christ.   Or, men may have to burn,
In scores, for Christ's own truth, till nations feel
How bitter is the bondage they have worn

Beneath the Man of Sin: that priest of pride and scorn!"


Thus, while they spake, came other spirits I knew,
By mystic intellection, to belong
To apostolic times: the holy Jew,
Stephen, they stoned to death—that raving throng
Whose clothes Paul held, believing right was wrong,
And truth was falsehood!   Now to him Paul cleaved;
And Stephen grasped Paul's hand with fervour strong—
Seeming to feel the highest triumph achieved

For Christ, since even the persecutor fierce believed.


With Stephen came the martyr in old age,
Brave Polycarp; [3] and he [4] to Antonine
Who wrote apologetic words, the sage
Imperial moralist from fell design
And murderous deed seeking by sooth to incline
Towards tolerant regard for Christian men,
But failed; and Simeon of the Saviour's line; [5]
And bold Ignatius,[6]—of so lively ken,

He looked as he would gladly face the lions agen!


"We spake, but now, of earth, and our own race,"
Said James, the brother of the Lord, with look
Of love fixed on the martyr Stephen's face;
"Regard for Abraham's seed must be unshook
Within us, even in heaven.   Thou, in the book
Divine, in mortal life, wert deeply skilled,
Nor hath thy yearning soul desire forsook
To know the fulness of the words that filled

Thy heart with hope, yea, oft with joy thy bosom


"Ages have rolled away since we of earth
Ceased to be habitants; and Abraham's seed
Still count God's great Messiah of no worth.
They deem He earned the malefactor's meed—
The scourge, the thorns, the cross, the spear; and feed
Their mean imaginations with a king
That shall be clothed with pomp and power, and lead
The conquered heathen of their wealth to bring

To his footstool a world-collected offering.


"Or, wise in grovelling doubt, but fools become
Perforce of their own wisdom, they avow
Their bold belief that wild delirium
Impelled God's seers to utter words of woe
Or rapture, and the kingdom to foreshew
Of His Anointed One.   No Christ—they say—
There hath been, or there shall be.   Of the Foe—
The Antichrist—they swell the battle-array,

Eager as their idolatrous sires for Falsehood's fray!


"Oh say, loved brother, who the holy seers,
And their deep meaning, ponderest still, change not
Thy cherished hopes for Israel into fears!
Shall our own race to faith in Christ be brought
By holy influences unknown, unsought,
In their long stubbornness?"—
                                                      "They shall return
To heart-obedience; and then fully fraught
With willingness to know, their souls shall learn

The truth of Christ, and all their hearts with love shall burn


"To Him their erring fathers crucified!"—
With holy haste, cried Paul; "blindness in part
Hath happened unto Israel, till the tide
Of Christian truth fill every Gentile heart;
And then the Jew shall worship; and, athwart
And thorough universal earth shall rise,
Alike from polished Frank and Ethiop swart,
The hymn of gladness that shall pierce the skies,

And draw even angels down to list men's harmonies!"


The face of Paul glowed with a holy light;
But Stephen's countenance with a brightness shone
Transcendent as the sun above the night
When earth is roofed with stars, as he made known
How strong his confidence in God had grown,
And God's great purpose to His prophets told,
In ancient times, and o'er the record strown
Of Holy Writ, in syllables of gold,

That did to faithful minds their meaning bright unfold.


"To Zion shall the Redeemer come," he sung;
"And Jacob's late-born sons their sin shall leave;
And God with fire of praise shall touch their tongue,
When they at length His holy truth perceive.
And they no more His Holy Spirit shall grieve,
Nor shall their children, to the latest hour
Men shall exist on earth.   Israel shall cleave
Unto the covenant-keeping God, their tower

Of strength and hallow His high Name for evermore!


"Zion shall rise and shine, and know her light
Is come, and that the glory of the Lord
Hath risen upon her darkness; and the sight
Shall draw the grateful Gentiles toward
God's house of glory that shall be restored
On David's hill; and kings shall haste to own
The King of kings, in David's city adored;
And Midian, Ephah, and Sheba shall cast down

The golden burthens of their camels before His throne.


"All Israel's sons shall gather from afar,
And flow together first with fear—with joy,
Full soon—for men from under every star
The abundance of the sea shall bring, and cloy
Jerusalem with good.   It shall upbuoy
The Gentile heart with gladness to join hand
In hand with Abraham's sons, while all employ
Their tongues to swell Christ's triumph, in one band

Of holy brotherhood gathered from every land.


"I see, with eyes of faith, the flying cloud
That, like a flock of doves, in joy return
Unto their windows!   I behold the crowd
Of nations who our race beheld with scorn,—
And long did contumeliously spurn
And bruise,—now haste to bring the exiles home!
Lo! Judah's children from their long sojourn
Among the isles, in ships of Tarshish come!—

How shall the ruined narrow city find them room?


"The sons of strangers shall her walls extend
O'er neighbouring hills, and kings the work shall aid
For now the days of God's just wrath shall end,
And His sweet favour and mercy be displayed:
Jerusalem in joy shall be arrayed;
And through her gates, that shall continually
Be open, day and night, the new Crusade—
The host of love and peace—in holy glee

Shall crowd, from every shore washed by the surging sea!


"Her, all the haughty kingdoms of the earth
Shall serve, or perish.   Even the fierce and high
Who brought her sorrow, now shall bring her mirth:
Yea, bending lowly, they shall come and lie
Repentant at her feet.   And all shall vie
In zeal to pile with votive wealth the floor
Of God's new sanctuary; for beautify
His place on Zion He will again; no more

To be cast down by proudest king or conqueror!


"Though once forsaken, and her name with hate
Rehearsed, the Zion of the Holy One
With plenty and with joy shall be elate.
The Mighty One of Jacob shall make known
That He, the Lord, Her Saviour, for His own
Hath taken her; and men no more shall raise
The cry of violence in her streets, or groan
Of sorrow in her homes, through countless days:

For they shall call her walls Salvation—her gates Praise.


"Her sun shall never more go down, or moon
Withdraw its light.   Her everlasting light
The Lord Himself shall be: no clouded noon
Of mourning she shall know, no cheerless night
Of sorrow: Righteousness shall rule with bright
And smiling sovereignty o'er all God's realm:
The branch of His own planting, in His sight
Shall flourish; and the weak the strong o'erwhelm;

And glory sit on Israel's spiritual warrior helm!


"The Lord will hasten it, in His own time!"—
He sang, with lips touched with a coal of fire
From the same altar, the prophetic rhyme
Of Him who struck with noblest hand the lyre
Of all that God-inspired and matchless quire
Who woke the echoes of each rocky dell
Through Judah's land, what time the armies dire
Of proud Assyria threatening came, but fell

By the destroying angel's hand,—without a knell,—


Dead corpses all,—found in the early morn;
And Sénnachérib fierce to Nineveh fled,
And died by slaughterous hands of children born
From his own loins:—while, as one from the dead
New risen, meek Hezekiah raised his head,
And he, and all Jerusalem, wondering, knew
How soon from threats that fill the heart with dread
God can deliver men—how soon subdue

His people's foes, that murderously their souls pursue.


Isaiah's lofty song the martyr sang;
And all sang with him, as they caught the strain;
While as they sang, loud heavenly echoes rang
Of elder songsters making sweet refrain.
And, forthwith, these appeared—a stately train
Of reverend forms—the minstrel leading them—
Isaiah's self: he who was sawn in twain [7]
In his old age, by one the diadem

Who stained, of Judah: impious fruit of pious stem:


Idolatrous Manasseh, who became
A penitent in trouble, and made prayer
To God, Who raised him from his prisoned shame,
And set him on his throne again—the rare
And precious fact in history to make fair
For all men's gaze, through time—that kings may keep
A promise made in trouble and despair,—
Though, trouble past, they usually hold cheap

Even oaths, and lightly law, most lawlessly, o'erleap.


The primal martyr, Abel, next I knew:
The son whom our first mother wept to see
Of life bereft; and whom his brother slew—
Her first-born son.   A martyr sure, was he—
The first of men that died!   By enmity
Of sin to holiness the victim fell;
And, through all years, bad men have raged to be
Convicted of their ill by men who well

Have lived; and sought, in blood, the hated good to


The son of Barachiah, slain between
The temple and the altar,[8] eke, I saw,—
With unnamed prophets whom the kings obscene
Of Judah and Israel slew, to gorge the maw
Of wickedness with righteous blood: God's law
Despising, and His vengeance drawing down—
At length—when that great prophecy with awe
The twelve disciples heard their Lord make known

Was full; and temple and altar were alike o'erthrown.


Last of the train came he who was the last
Of God's high messengers that went before
His Christ: he who proclaimed, as with the blast
Of a shrill trumpet, on old Jordan's shore—
"I am the voice of one foretold of yore—
The herald crying in the wilderness—
Prepare the way of the Lord!"   Aspect he wore,
Elijah-like, of courage questionless,

That seemed his brethren with a sense of awe to impress.


And thus he spake: "With rapture, still on earth,
Blest prophet, by believing men thy song
Is sung; while unbelievers turn to mirth
Thy bright foretellings, saying—Declare how long
Shall Israel dwell in banishment, and wrong
Receive from nations who Isaiah's God
Adore—Isaiah's Christ with fervour strong
Profess to love?   When shall the heavens be bowed,

And Christ descend on Olivet,—upon the cloud—


"They said they saw receive Him—the eleven
Who gazed so steadfastly upon the bright
Shekinah which upbore Him into heaven,
His native seat,—while, by them, two in white,—
The attendant angels,—pointed to the sight,
Saying—This same Jesus shall again descend,
Clothed in like manner with the cloud of light,
As ye have seen Him go?   When shall the end

Of this world's kingdom be?   Show us what signs portend


"The second coming of the Christ foretold
By fablers, and by doting men believed?
Where doth the wolf lie down within the fold
With the young lamb, in peace?   Who hath perceived
The cow, no longer of her calf bereaved
By the grim bear, feed with him, while their young
Lie down together?   What child hath achieved
The fearless feat to dare the forky tongue

O' the cockatrice, and play upon its den unstung?


"We see no signs that your famed Prince of Peace
Shall come, and o'er the happy nations reign.
The wolf—the Christian shepherd—yet doth fleece
The sheep; the royal lion and leopard drain
The life's blood of the labouring ox: in vain
We look for serpents that with children play,
And harm them not: knaves still the simple swain
Entrap and rob.   Thus, ages pass away—

Christ will come, why doth He thus delay?


"So, in old time, the Pharisee and scribe,
Who listened to the Saviour's warning word,
Denied His truth, with scoff, and jeer, and gibe,
And, voluntarily blind, His claims ignored.
But, on their children was the vengeance poured
That Christ foretold.   And yet will God, blest seer!
Thy prophecies fulfil.   Again the Lord
Will come in judgment; but will first appear

In mercy.   They who wait for Him discern Him near!"


Although in Paradise, the son of Eve,
With looks and words of mingled sorrow and love,
Began: "The first of martyred men must grieve
For memory of that brother who first strove
Against his brother.   For the curse hath clove—
The curse of murder—to our sinful race,
Since first the spirit of evil did Cain move
To shed his brother's blood: no resting-place

The wanderer found: he ever saw the fancied face


"Of the avenger.   And the murderer still
Doth tremble at the sound o' the fallen leaf—
And yet men murder!—yet, with rebel will,
Men wander from all good, and spend their brief
Sojourn on earth in filling it with grief!
I would the day were come, O Prophet sweet,
When how to bless each other shall be chief
Of men's desires and thoughts—when men shall greet

Each other with true loving hearts where'er they meet!


"I would thy glorious vision of the joy
And love and peace that men on earth shall feel,—
The works of love and peace that shall employ
Their hearts and hands,—the Present would reveal.
The Past hath wounds that no regrets can heal;
And, in the Future, until earth become
A world of loving men who for the weal
Of others toil unselfishly,—its gloom

Brings sorrow to my soul, even in this blissful home!


"Bear with me lovingly, dear saints of God!
Ye scarce can feel as I feel.   When I came
A stranger here, where none but angels trod
This Paradise of blessedness;—where name
Of Man itself was new;—not without shame
And awe I witnessed how, with piercing eyes,
The angels wondered, when from fiery flame
And axe, and other deaths of hideous guise,

Truth's victims crowded hither, slain by Men of Lies!


"And, through the long, long ages, still arrives
The host of martyred men from earth.   The hate—
The deadly hate—of evil men survives
For good men—oh, how long!   I watch and wait,
But see not that their rage for murder doth abate.
O Lord, how long— —"
                                  "O gentle son of Eve!"
Isaiah gently spake: "doth not the Great,
The High and Lofty One wait also?   Grieve

His essential Love it must—doth not thy soul believe —


"That still His saints fall victims to the rage
Of murderous brothers who are mad with sin?—
Could He not end them?—or, their wrath assuage?
But why, or wherefore, did their being begin?
God is all-wise: His work is not akin
To man's: abortive oft.   And, if away
God took man's freedom, none reward could win
Who served God ; and man's worship would convey

No praise unto God's ear, though it should last for aye.


"Thy gentle soul, O Abel, doth with love—
With pitying love—for suffering man, run o'er.
But, doth not God's forbearance larger prove
His love and pity—since He wields His power,
Not to crush sinners; but, His grace to shower
Upon their hearts, to soften them, and bring
Their wills towards good: although the noble dower
Of freedom that He gave, He will not wring

From man or angel: His own work disparaging.


"We may not wish that the All-wise had laid
The vast foundations of His universe
According to our wisdom; or had made
Intelligent creatures whom He did coerce
To keep His law, whom sin could not amerce
With suffering.   What our Holy God hath done
Is done in goodness, as in wisdom.   'Sperse
Thy sorrow with the thought, O gentle one!

O' the joys of men and angels since their being begun."


"I do adore His wisdom, and confess
His goodness infinite," meekly replied
The son of Eve; "my thought is languageless
When I would sum the good that is allied
Even with suffering.   Yet again the tide
Of grief will swell, amid the joys of heaven,
When I bethink me how the earth is dyed
With blood of God's dear saints.   From it long riven,

To lingering love of its old home the soul is given."


"Sweet patriarchal spirit, and brethren dear!
I speak with diffidence, where elders tell
Their thoughts "—said Justin, the philosopher—
"Thoughts of deep mysteries that often dwell
In human hearts untold, until they swell
To bursting: for, men bind each other down
With chains that cause the spirit to rebel—
Forbidding men to think—until men moan,

And wish they never had the gift of thinking known.


"We ever deemed it past man's finding out
Why God had made a universe where death
And sin and suffering could be found—a doubt
To render possible, or peril faith
That God is what the holy volume saith
He is—the High and Lofty One, the True
And Holy and Good and Loving One, that hath
Been ever, and that ever shall be.   But the clue

Of subtler, simpler thought we reach in this the new


"And sinless habitation of the soul
Wherein her powers are strengthened, and her gaze
Is purged from fleshly films.   God hath made all—
We now discern, surrounded with the blaze
Of His perfections—purposely to raise
Within His creatures perfect loving trust
In His unselfishness.   In all their ways
Of lauding Him, the children of the dust

Fall short—unnaming that great attribute august!


"It had been selfishness had He but made
A lifeless universe—however wise
Its mechanism and motions had displayed
His mind to be—or beauty of the guise
Of things, Him beautiful that did devise
Their forms and hues, had proven.   But one Mind—
His own—the Awful One's—to know or prize
The wisdom and the beauty!   How unkind

Were such Creator in His awfulness enshrined!


"To store His glorious universe with life
God's blest unselfishness His essence moved;
And thus all worlds with living things are rife.
But, gift of life alone had not Him proved
Unselfish.   Living things it Him behoved
To bless—to make them worthy of His hand.
For, if no creature could have known or loved,
Have thought or felt—as well, a barren strand,

Or lifeless ocean, God eternally had planned!


"God were not blest could He not love and feel
As well as know.   Vain sages of the East
Affirm their Brahm, the highest, hath perfect weal
Because he is emotionless—divest
Of feeling—joy or grief; and in such rest—
Such blank quiescence—centres perfect bliss
But God's word leaves us to no barren quest
About Himself—no cold hypothesis:

It tells us that He hates the sinner's ways amiss,


"But loves the righteous; that He hath great joy
When sinners turn and leave their sinful way,
And seek their Father's house; but that the alloy
Of grief is His when His own people stray
From His sweet service.   If unwise men say—
Can, then, the Unchangeable rejoice or grieve,
And still be perfect?   Yea, we answer, yea:
Unchangeable holiness, His saints believe,

Is His; and higher perfectness none can conceive.


"God's happiness is perfect, not because
He is almighty, or all-wise, or fills
Infinity, or gives all life by laws
Himself supports.   But perfect happiness thrills
His holy essence, since He ever wills
And does that which is holy, perfectly.
Just ire, grief, love—emotions—are not ills
To perfect holiness.   No change shall be

In God's all-perfect bliss throughout eternity.


"And from eternity hath been no change
In His all-perfect bliss, though He hath seen
Men's wickedness, and grieved.   Grief was not
To God's omniscience.   His creation teen,
He knew, must bring to Him, amid the sheen
Of His all-glorious perfectness—for free
If His creation were, though strong, or keen
In intellect, yet they must ever be

Subject to imperfection, as He did foresee,—


"And though foreseeing, chose to make them free,
And chose to grieve and suffer, that He might
Have creatures in His universe to be
Recipients of His bounty, and delight
Might take in blessing them, and oft requite
With tenderness their base ingratitude,
And follow them in their wanderings from the
Leaving it hard for sinful ears to exclude

His call of love with which He hath their souls pursued."


He ceased; not as if all his thoughtful theme
Were uttered, but himself with measurement
Meting of lowliness: nor with esteem
And reverence for God's elder saints unblent
Seemed his demeanour.   Praise, awhile, upsent
The Martyr-host, in silence, with devout
Rapt feeling: silence deep: more eloquent
Than words—for through each visage beamed the

Of grateful love with which their wondering souls were


"Thy words are sooth, my brother," holy Paul
Thus earnestly the silence broke: "for Love
Alone is pure Unselfishness; and all
Our best conceptions, when on earth we strove
To express God's nature, did but feeble prove
Compared with that one sentence of His word—
That God is Love.   The proof is brightly wove
In every sentence of that vast record

The archangels keep of all they know the Sovran Lord


"Hath done, since they primeval light first saw;
And, unto man, the proof is best revealed
In God's best gift of His dear Son, from woe
To save our sinful race.   How oft this field
Of thought we visit!—and it still doth yield
Fresh riches, and will ever; for, again
And oft, this theme will charm us, till unsealed
Is every prophecy, and Christ's great reign

Makes unto men and angels God's great meaning


A hand of golden light appeared aloft!
The signal seemed to all familiar, for
Upward all glanced, and then around with soft
Benignant smile upon each other: store
Of love congratulant within the core
Of every heart fraternal beaming bright
Upon their faces, while they left the shore
Of that sweet stream with flowers so richly dight

I dreamt I saw, at first, with new-born spiritual sight.


Obedient to the sign, with lively pace
They trod the plain, till they the hills could climb,
And spoke with rapture of the errands of grace
From which they had returned, in lands of crime
And error that they once, in olden time,
Had known and loved.   The martyred prophets said
Old Jordan's banks were fair as in their prime,
But o'er the land the stones of ruin spread

Scarce shewed what glories had belonged unto the


And when sweet Olivet, and their loved lake,
Gennesaret, the Apostles saw, they told
How burnt within their hearts the words He spake
To them—the Lowly One—in days of old,
As if they heard His voice, and did behold
His meek form still.   And then Jerusalem
They named with words that shewed above all gold
They priced her dust, and thought her still the gem

Of all the earth, though shorn of her old diadem.


But Polycarp spake sadly: "Light hath waned
In Smyrna and our Asian churches, where
It once burned purely.   Long hath Falsehood reigned,
Boasting her crescent, in those regions fair.
And, though a few are found not loath to share
Christ's shame, or own His cross,—dark errors blind
Them till their good and ill seem but to bear
A semblance to the grace and beauty shrined

In marbled ruin, which upon that shore men find."


"And Antioch—the beautiful—the great!"
Said bold Ignatius, "where our faith first found
A name—what marks her now?   How desolate
And silent are the spaces where the ground
Oft shook with feet of crowds—the air with sound
Of festive shouts was filled"—
                                                       "Yet, within cell
Monastic, in those lands," said Simeon, "bound
With fetters of the soul, although men dwell,

Sometimes they burst their bondage, we can gladly


"Bethink ye both, my brethren, of the poor
Weak trembler with old age we lately hied
To comfort, at behest Divine, and found the lore
Of Christ his soul had sweetly learned, and tried
To enlighten others.   And he joyous died,
For some had listened to his words with joy,
And learnt to love, in truth, the Crucified.—
O let the bliss we reap from such employ,

Revisiting old earth, all sad regrets destroy!"


But now to climb the mountains ever green
Began the Martyrs.   All, with one consent,
Well-ordered step and timely march were seen
To keep, with bands that up before them went,
Or followed after; and right soon were blent
The myriad voices of the Martyr-throng
In choral triumph.   Voice mellifluent
One raised, at call of them who did belong

Unto the Martyr-host: thus Stephen led the song:


"Glory to Thee, the covenant-keeping God!
Who didst our fathers in Thy goodness lead
Back to Thy way, when oft they wandering trod
The path of error, yea, pursued with greed
The rebel road, although for holy seed
Thou hadst them chosen; and didst from ruin save
Them oft, and them with heavenly manna feed,—
Yea, didst for their deliverance cleave the wave

In which their foes, o'erwhelmed, soon found a watery


"O Holy One of Israel! hear the cry
Our longing hearts now send up to Thine ear!
Our race—the race of Abraham—soon bring nigh
To own Thy great Messiah, from their drear
And cheerless unbelief!   O Lord, bring near
Our brethren, whom to love we cannot cease—
Feeling Thy love, and knowing they are dear
Unto Thine heart, and that it will increase

The bliss of saints to see the wanderers seek Thy


"Lord! bring the wanderers back!   Remove the veil
From off the heart of Israel!   Lord, make bare
Thy holy arm of might!   They cannot fail—
Thy holy promises: Thou didst declare
The race of Abraham should for ever share
Thy smile; and Thou wilt yet their hearts dispose
To love Thee.   Hasten, Lord, the time!   The prayer
Of all Thy grateful saints regard: disclose

The morn when rays of love shall subdue all Thy foes!"


The song went on—the song of love and praise,
And prayer, and zeal for others' bliss.   But now
The inward beckoning came that their glad lays,
For me, must end: unto the mountains' brow
I mote not climb; but on the earth below
Must longer toil.
                                I woke, with thankful mind
That God had given me pleasant life to know
On earth: a life He stores with bounties kind,

And heartfelt joy that dreary doubt is left behind.





1.—Stanza 23.

    PETER'S crucifixion, with the head downwards, on the same day as Paul's martyrdom.—Eusebius, Jerome, Hegesippus, Chrysostom, Prudentius, etc., etc.

2.—Stanza 24.

    Death of JAMES "the JUST."—Eusebius, Book II., c. 1, and c. 23.

3.—Stanza 36.

    POLYCARP.  For his martyrdom see the Circular Epistle of the Church of Smyrna, in Archbishop Wake's Epistles of the Apostolic Fathers.  Also Eusebius, Book IV., c. 15.

4.—Stanza 36.

    JUSTIN MARTYR, the Philosopher.  See Eusebius, Book IV., c. 16.

5.—Stanza 36.

    SIMIAN, the relative of our Lord.  For his martyrdom see also Eusebius, Book III., c. 32.

6.—Stanza 36.

    IGNATIUS.  For the authorities respecting his martyrdom see Archbishop Wake's Epistles of the Apostolic Fathers.

7.—Stanza 53.

    ISAIAH.  The account of his martyrdom is derived from a Rabbinical legend; but many commentators accept it, believing that it is referred to in Hebrews xi. 37.

8.—Stanza 56.

    ZACHARIAS, son of BRACHIA, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar."—Matt. xxiii. 35.


[Home] [Up] [Autobiography] [Thoughts at Fourscore] [Gulf of Time] [Old Fashioned Stories] [Self-help] [Prison Rhymes, etc.] [Baron's Yule Feast] [Purgatory of Suicides] [Poets of the Poor] [Reviews, etc.] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to