BOOK THE FOURTH.
O FAIR young
Moon, if there were nought but thy
Bright crescent to attract men's gaze from earth,
It were enough to make them bless God's sky!
The children love to see thee, and with mirth
Welcome thy coming; and to Age thy birth,
Anew, is ever gladdening, as a sign
That Nature is not old, but still brings forth
Her undimmed glories, and her gifts benign ―
Sustained in during energy
by the Hand Divine!
What countless, million-million, mortal eyes
Have watched the swelling of thy silver bow,
Until it grew a shield then shrank in size,
And vanished, to appear again a show
Of beauty above all stars that sparkling strow
The vault of Night. With what joy-ravishment
The first young human pair the primal glow
Of thy return first saw! How oft hath blent
Fears with the hopes of
later mortals when was bent,
Once more, thy shining form above their heads,
And corn-fields cried for the reaper, but the rain
Fell, pitiless: the rain that surely sheds
Its torrents by thy fickle leave: the swain
So held it. And, now men, of science vain,
Disdainfully regard the Past, they hold
It still the same. Although in thy domain,
They swear, there is no moisture: but a cold,
Dry, lifeless cinder is
thy seeming face of gold!
When sweet young eyes so often by thy light ―
Blest boon for lovers! ― wandered to breathe sighs
Of tenderness and constancy, a slight
On thy bright form, they would have deemed
That thou wert aught so mean. With their own eyes,
Did they not see that Sabbath-breaking Jew
Who gathered sticks i' the wilderness, his prize
Upon his shoulder, ever exposed to view,
A prisoner in thy orb,
rolling amid the blue?
Argal, in thee there must be living things! ―
What, if in thy mild region still dwelt fair,
Though fallen, angels, who with feeble wings
Ventured, sometimes, down through the lower air,
To whisper mortals, and to sin ensnare ―
For that they were themselves ensnared, not prime
In sin, and therefore were not doomed to share
Great torment: yet the wish grew, with their
To spread for other souls
of sin the deadly slime.
But thou the lamp for fairy revels wert,
My grannam said ― for her own grannam saw
The little people gaily dance and flirt,
I' the mystic grassy ring, with shivering awe,
And spake aloud! ― not knowing the mystic law
That would subject her to their mighty power
To tickle her nose and ears with an oaten straw,
And pinch her sides in sleep; turn the milk sour
She had left in dirty
bowls, and play pranks, hour by
All in the night: they had no sunshine game:
'Twas all by moonshine! And when they were seen
By mortals who were silent, good luck came
To the man or woman. Gold was found, I ween,
I' their shoon, i' the morning; if the poor to glean
Went forth in harvest, they would gather sheaves!
The bullfinch would not rob their cherry treen;
The swallows would build, and twitter, 'neath the
And luck come naturally as
fall the autumn leaves!
Thou wert the patroness of so much good
I' the times of Fancy, that one shrinks to tell,
Fair Moon! how thy account of evil stood;
How thy eclipse foreshadowed griefs to quell
The stoutest heart: shipwreck and storm, and yell
Of drowning sailors; and conspiracy,
Secret and dark, and murderously fell,
'Gainst kings; and overthrow of cities free;
And famine and plague, and
every dread calamity!
And was it all a dream, fair shining Moon?
Does thy eclipse forebode nor good nor ill?
Will fairies leave no gold in idlers' shoon?
Are all the fairies gone, and must we till
Our ground with sweat o' the brow, and must we
Ring out our toil on the anvil, and work on,
Or starve? And, in thy realm, doth no sweet rill
Murmur, or river flow? Is the dream, too, gone,
That angels lived upon
thee? Is there never-a-one?
And art thou, seeming splendour of the night,
Only a cinder, lifeless, dark, and cold?
Then we will bless thee for thy borrowed light;
And still more bless the goodness that doth hold
Thee in thy orbit, by the rule untold
Till Newton scanned it, and, thence, safely scanned
The vast mechanic system manifold
Of central wheel and wheels dependent, planned
By God's own wisdom:
formed and held by His own
"God, acting in His own great universe" ―
So, when one asked what Gravitation was,
The immortal sage defined it, in his terse,
Significant way. He did not care two straws
What critics, foolish and fine, prated of "laws."
He knew that law could not itself maintain:
There must be the Unseen Sustaining Cause,
To ensure the sequence men call "law." In vain
Even Halley doubt pled
often: Newton, with hands
Held fast his faith; and, with a lowly mind
And truthful heart, kept on his wondrous way
To the end. 'Tis not in lowliness mankind
O' the scientific class, in this our day,
Shew greatness. They their searching wit display
In spying "evolution," everywhere, ―
"Selection natural," ― and the sovereign sway
Of what they call "development." O rare
Development of wit! what
fools our fathers were!
They thought God could create, if that He chose;
And had created. Sages of science, now,
Shake their small heads, and mutter they suppose
'Twas a mistake! But, if you ask them how
The universe came to be, they say they trow
'Tis better to say nought: 'tis not for frail,
Imperfect mortals, such as they, to allow
Themselves in airs pretentious the dark veil
From Nature's face to lift
― the veil all-mystical!
And this sounds modest; but men need a rest
Both for the heart and mind. No Godless
If one may call it so ― can ease the breast
In trouble; or the heart's affections feed
With satisfaction; or within us breed
Resolve to battle with temptation strong
To moral evil. Surely, no great greed
A man will feel to conquer sin, so long
As he believes not in the
Judge of right and wrong.
I would not hastily condemn. God knows
I have great cause, remembering errors past,
To shun hot speech. But why this prate of "laws,"
And "reverence" for them? Each encomiast
Of our grandees of science utters fast
And loud his praises for their championship
Of Truth. But what is their Truth worth? A
Dim waste of words it seems to me to skip
From sequence unto
sequence, and yet never grip
The deeper Truth ― that there must be a Cause
For all this sequence, though it ever be
As fixed as they assert it is. No "laws"
Are known by stones or trees, by sky or sea;
Nor can they, senseless, pay a penalty
For disobedience. Men discern full well
They break a law when pain or misery
Succeeds an act. Rocks, trees, or waters tell
No sinners' tale of
suffering, for they ne'er rebel.
God makes a law for free-willed essences ―
Angels or men. Man in the plenitude
Of regal power; or, where true freedom is,
Men representative make laws, and rude
Rebellion 'gainst them brings on humble and
Or should bring ― penalty most sure. We all
Admire right law, and sensibly conclude
Them wise that made such law; but never call
A law its own enactor.
Why should mortals fall
In "reverence" before sequence which they deem
The "law of Nature"? Surely we should rise
Above such heathenism, and God supreme
Over His realm of Nature recognize,
Nor dare to say His power to the All-wise,
Almighty One is fixed.
The summer air
Invites. I have performed my exercise
Of Duty, and should sleep; but they so fair
And bright appear ― the
beauteous stars! ― that I must
The glorious sight, once more. How full of life
Must be the world-stored universe of God!
Yon glittering splendours cannot be unrife
With conscious being. Each sphere is surely trod
By moral agents: not the mean abode
Of animal natures only. 'Twere to deem
God's work unworthy of Himself to load
Immensity with suns, if every beam
They shed, however bright,
shewed only Death
Or, merely forms that simply live and feel,
But neither know, nor thought reflective share.
Creatures, God made to inherit bounteous weal,
According to their natures; and His care
Of all shews that His wisdom deems them fair;
Yet, higher joy must fill God's holy mind
Looking on Man, than on the forms most rare
In outward beauty to the earth assigned,
That are to all earth's
truly beautiful so blind.
And, if the all-bounteous Father doth feel joy
In giving life, and higher joy the more
He gives of higher life, nought should destroy
Our love of life. To deem the gift but poor ―
The highest gift that God, the Great Bestower,
Can give, is surely base; and baser still
It is to wish Death should our being devour.
Thank God! I never felt such wish: no ill
With hatred of existence
could my bosom fill.
I love existence. And I would not die,
Although I'm old, except to live again,
And think, and feel, and know, and satisfy
My being with comprehending what all men
On earth can only apprehend. The ken
All-spiritual I long to have ― the gaze
Angelic, gleaning, at once, what in this den
Of clay-bound mind we cannot reach, though days
And years be spent in
trying to pierce the Stygian haze.
And yet, how know we that the essences
Of things are better known to angels than
To men? Man knows most surely that he is;
But knows not what he is. Can angels scan
Their own existence, through and through, with span
And compass of familiarity,
And say, "We know ourselves"? No more than man,
I trow, can aught created boast, with glee, ―
"We have found the key
that unlocks Being's mystery!"
"As gods ye shall be!" said the snake to Eve;
And still man whispers it to his own ear.
And, while he doubts so much he should believe
With childlike simpleness, he feels no fear
To grasp his Maker's attributes, or near
Approach to make, at least, to what God's hand
Alone can do. I would not tarry here
To learn such "science," though they call it "grand;"
But, for right aims, I
still would live in Fatherland.
Not many have seen more of it than I:
Its hills and vales and woods; its streams, its strand;
Its quaint old cities, and its hamlets shy;
Its crowded, gay, new towns bizarrely planned;
Its moated castles, and its abbeys grand
In ruin, with its proud cathedralled piles.
Through shire and hundred, over Fatherland,
On foot, by wain, on steed, what merry miles
I've sped! The
thought with pleasure still my heart
I love existence. Never can return
The hours of youth or manhood; but I feel
'Tis pleasant, oft, to let the mind disurn
The Dead beloved, and bring them back to seal
Old friendships o'er again; to think o' the zeal
We felt in our debates ― the merriment ―
The fire ― the fun ― the wish the hour to steal
Past midnight: then, the grave rebuke swift sent
From brows of senior,
"take-care!" men ― so eloquent!
I thank the Almighty Maker that I've lived,
And feel life hath been blessed. What, though
Hath mingled with my ease? I have not grieved
At pain so much as at my inward stain
Of sin and guilt. My life hath been, i' the main,
A pleasant pilgrimage. I cannot hold
With him who scorns this life, as but a vain
And worthless dream, soon over and soon told:
A dream that doth mere
changes of a dream unfold.
Life hath been real to me; real in its joy,
And in its sorrow. And the reality
Of life I would not lose. No pleasures cloy
In life that men name rightly. If their free
Heritage of choice men will abuse, yet see
The issue must be punishment, the blame
Is justly theirs. Men know the high decree
That links their sin with punishment and shame,
And know their arguments
against it halt and lame.
The men I knew who said, "There is no sin:
Creatures of circumstance men are; and praise
And blame are follies" ― I ever heard begin
To praise and blame, if to forget their craze
You could beguile them. In the startling days
Of forty-eight, old Robert Owen said
His solemn say, very oft ― "He but betrays
His folly who blames and praises." Ere his head
Was turned, he praised and
blamed the living and the
I well remember how his new-found friend,
Young Louis Blanc an exile sat by his side,
At Ashburner's, the opening and the end
Comparing, of his speech. Puzzled, he tried
To unravel it, but failed. I had to hide
My face for laughter. But, the old man's look
Was quite triumphant; and he glanced with pride
Around, as who should say, "No sovereign duke,
Or king, can match my
greatness: I no equal brook!"
Self-worship was his foible nay, ― his sin!
And all his followers to the top of his bent
Befooled and flattered him; and did but grin
At others for born fools who shewed they lent
No ear to Robert's teaching. No dissent
Was borne with. His was the name o' the Age!
"The Age of Owen" 'twould be called when blent
With dust he was! They told him so! The sage
Nodded, as he would say,
"That's true, a crown I'll
So proud at heart ― and yet how meek and kind
He was, even when the storm of anger swelled
Around him! Imperturbable his mind
In contest seemed, when younger; but he held
His head up loftily, in age, and quelled
Dissent with words that showed he deemed men low
In intellect who could not see he excelled
All teachers of his time. So surely grow
Proud thoughts in man
whose fellows weakly to him
Yet, one feels glad to have known a man that drew
Thousands around him who became so sure
That what he taught was truth. Alas! how few
Are able to resist a panic! Be the lure
Substance or shadow, when the calenture
Sets in, the human sheep begin to run;
And, soon, all run who see the race! Impure,
Unholy license seemed a precious boon
To fools. Some
saw their folly ere life's task was done;
But Owen never changed, or faltered. From
The outset of his course he seemed possessed
Of rocklike strength of will. The masterdom
Of all men's ills should yield to his behest,
He told the crowds. They could suspect no jest:
He gave his wealth, his time, to spread the scheme
Of Socialism. He never seemed distrest
At failure; and when others ceased to dream
Of winning Eden back to
earth, and said no gleam
They saw o' the promised light, he widely stared,
And said he wondered, for the light was full ―
Nay, fuller than the sun's own light it glared:
The triumph was at hand: their eyes were dull
Who could not see the signs of it. No lull
Of earnestness he showed for fourscore years;
And, in old age, he said nought could annul
His triumph: it was come! They gave him cheers:
He was stone-deaf: I do
not think they reached his ears.
Owen has gone; and, with him, too, his sect.
And Communism hath, once more, had its day
Of murderous rule, in Paris! All bedeckt
With beauty was their city, when a stay
But brief I made in it ― although the fray
O' the Reds with Cavaignac was barely o'er,
And their new President did not display
His purpose to be Emperor yet. She wore
Her splendour still ― the
famous city ― as of yore.
Frenchmen were proud of Paris ― even the poor,
As were the rich: they hurled no monument down,
Although they soaked the stones with human gore.
The column in the Place Vendôme no frown
Provoked ― the Louvre's array of art no groan
Evoked of hatred from the workmen-bands
That struck for broader freedom. Now the tone
Of Labour's sons is changed. They say the sands
I' the glass of Privilege
are spent: all with their hands
Or heads shall labour, for the future. "Pride
And idleness should have no rest," they said;
And so they burned their city, and defied
All retribution! Though their land had bled
Beneath the Prussian's proud revengeful tread,
They turned to shed each other's blood! The old
Mad zest for civil strife is still misbred
Within them. God forbid we should their mould
So fratricidal take ―
'midst changes manifold!
For change hath come in England that I deemed
Unlikely yet to come, for many a year;
And other changes threaten. It had seemed
Great cause, indeed, for joy to me to hear
Some changes had been wrought; but now a fear
Checks my new joy that License soon may come ―
Wild License, rather than the triumph dear
Of Liberty, in this dear isle, her home
So long where all her
exiled sons find welcome room!
After such midnight musings, slumber came.
And, soon, the wakeful mind ― as a player would say ―
Caught up her cue from these last thoughts, to frame
Her converse in my sleep.
I dreamt my way
I took again, in Paradise, where lay
Familiar flowers; the bell-flower tall and fair,
That blooms by rocky Tees, even near the spray
Of the High Force: grass of Parnassus rare
In beauty ― nay, most
beautiful beyond compare
That decks the banks of forkèd Tyne,
Where he turns south, by old quaint Alston, high
Above all towns in perch, ― and where, with fine
Sense of the beautiful ― (sure, bending nigh,
The angels whisper them!) ― one child doth vie
With another in reverence for the fresh "God-flower" ―
For so they name it! And that living eye,
Or star of the earth ― the Trientalis ― dower
Of loveliness ― that one
would gaze at, hour by hour!
It grows in the park of Alnwick ― but we found
It first in Scotland ― I and my Love ― near chill
But cheerful Grantown, where frail flowers abound:
The fairy orchis, with its infantile
And chaste white florets: pyrolas that thrill
The soul with wonder at their gracefulness;
While gymnadenias rich perfume distil
Around your heathery path; and lady's tress
Renders your power to name
its beauty languageless
I dreamt such flowers I found, but each enhanced
In delicate grace of form, richness of scent,
And bloom, till, as before, I seemed entranced
To ecstasy, amid such lavishment
Of loveliness and sweetness. But soon lent
I hearing to the voice I dreamt I heard
Of one discoursing in a strain that sent
Strange vigour through me, as when one doth gird
Himself for fight ― for
fiery words his blood have stirred.
I knew it was the voice of Claude Brousson, 
"The Evangelist of the Desert" ― martyr brave,
Who, strangled on the wheel, with soul so strong
Met death, at Montpellier, when Louis drave
From France its holiest sons ― himself the slave
Of Rome, although "Magnificent" proclaimed ―
Louis "le grand Monarque" ― to whose blood clave
The vengeance of the Lord, when men's hearts flamed
With hate of kings, and
Pride and Privilege were tamed.
With Claude walked other martyrs by the wheel:
Dumas, and Fulcran Rey, Guion, Bonnemere,
And Olivier Souverain,  ― who all with leal
Fidelity and readiness did bear
Their torture, and escaped to Christ. Their share
Of bliss these now were reaping; and with them
A crowd beside of brothers, each now heir
Of Jesu's heaven. And all seemed, in my dream,
Intently listening to the
Desert Preacher's theme.
"Brothers," spake Claude, "regird the loins o' the mind;
And still take heart that we the combat keep
With Rome's dark falsehood ― though we find
Her power so strong, her hold so wide and deep
O'er human hearts, when we descend the steep
To earth, on God's great errands. Let us hold
His promise fast ― that He will call His sheep,
In every land, into Truth's holy fold:
Let us hold firmly by His
word proclaimed of old!"
He paused, as if reluctant to speak on,
From large emotion, ― while his brethren held
His form in silent deep observance. Soon,
The fact to me was mystically revealed
That Claude, but now, had from his ancient field
Of warfare and of suffering journeyed home,
Again, to heaven; and had not yet unsealed
His later knowledge, whether the day of doom
They waited for so long
had come for slaughterous
"Tell us, loved brother, if our own loved France" ―
With meek impetuousness, spake Fulcran Rey ―
"Have left the spectacle ― the song ― the dance ―
Her boast of victories ― and begun to pray.
We learned that there the priest had lost his sway
O'er men, though women seek his benison.
We wait to know that Frenchmen change their gay
And volant life, for earnestness. Soon gone
Will be Rome's power, if
Frenchmen grave and pious
"Ye marked my hesitance," Brousson replied;
"I cannot tell ye that our France grows wise,
Or pious. Still she keeps her boastful pride
And vanity ― although the Prussian dyes
Her soil with blood, and still for vengeance cries,
Remembering the dread wrong he suffered while
The wasteful Corsican won victories
Like sports, and fed his eager hosts on spoil,
And humbled kings, as if
they were but peasants vile.
"I deem, my brother, that thou judgest right:
Rome's day is gone when France casts off her yoke
In earnest, and no longer, in loose plight
Affects to wear it, as a masterstroke
Of policy. When neither jest, nor joke,
France makes of Christian truth, but with the force
Of all the reason that she boasts, the Book
Reads for herself, and reads with the remorse
Of conscience, she will
soon break down the Papal
"But, even now, Rome seeks on her to lean:
Fallen Rome on conquered France! The old man
Of territory and civil rule, with keen
And smarting sense of the Italians' scorn
For oft they jest around his nest forlorn,
His petty realm the City Leonine,
Across the Tiber still uplifts his horn
Of pride, and dares to mutter curse malign
On all his foes; and frets
till France doth give the sign
"That she will yet befriend him ― for no friend
He hath 'mong reigning potentates: none heed
His blessing or his curse. Some think their end ―
The end of kings ― is near, and feel they need
To care most for themselves, since treasons breed
So fast around them; while the stronger strive
To strengthen more their thrones ― ignoring creed
And faith ― by following plans preventative,
They think, of revolution:
for they now perceive
"The earthquake threatens, throughout Europe broad,
From Labour's children, who so small a share
Of good gain for themselves, although they load
Others with plenty, by their skill, and toil, and care.
The earthquake threatens; and so, hosts for war
The strong kings train by myriads, armed with new
And deadlier weapons; and auxiliar
Artillery, more deadly still, now through
The air whirls weights of
metal such as men ne'er knew,
"Or heard of, since the warring world began;
And ships are clad with iron plates, immense
In thickness, ― and impelled with hurricane
Velocity, by force of steam, intense.
Thus, horrible destruction, at expense
Enormous, emperor, and king, and czar
Make ready, confident, when Turbulence
Sounds trumpet, with the giant game of war
To wield off revolution,
or subdue its jar!
"Our own loved France ― now bruised and bleeding
Raves, too, of warlike preparation, quick,
Like conquering kings ― nay, with an arrogance
The nations round deem nought but lunatic,
Boasts her revenge shall come, and she will strike
Her foes with such paralysis of fear,
They at her feet shall crawl, and, trembling, lick
The dust! To pray, didst ask, my brother dear,
If France had now begun?
Such tidings we shall hear
"From earth, in God's own time, I trust. But prayer
Is farthest from her thought ― of all the thought
That enters human minds, when filled with care,
And torn with sorrow, for the suffering brought
To their own doors, upon their hearths, about
Their beds ― sorrow o'erwhelming to the mass
Of men ― but sorrow Frenchmen learn to flout
With merriment, and mockery, and grimace!
Oh, when, great God, shall
reason truly mark our race!"
Silent, the Martyrs walked, when Brousson ceased,
In holy sorrow, till Bonnemere thus spake:
"And who hath ruined France? who, but the priest ―
What, but the subtle power of the fell Snake
Of Rome ― did first the strength of Frenchmen break
Under the yoke? How long and bravely strove
Our grand forerunners, who the chain, and stake,
And fiery flame, with spirit of the dove
Endured ― blessing their
foes who them with fury drove
"From life, although their lives to France had been
Unmeasured good! How long we strove ― our aim
How pure ― God truly knows! The haughty, unclean,
Yet worshipt king ― the pride, and yet the shame,
Of France! ― yielded, at last, to play Rome's game
To the full; and, in expelling from his land
Its Christian people, struck the blow to maim
Its industry and wealth: his court, so grand,
Robbed Poverty of its
bread with unrelenting hand;
"And vice and waste became the heritage
Of his doomed house, till Misery rose with fell
And fierce revenge to crush out Privilege!
And still they hear the voice of vengeance swell
Above the roar of war; and who shall spell
When it shall cease?" ―
"And when from France the true
Disciples of the Lord were driven" ― to tell
His thought, Dumas began ― "the Atheist crew
Soon gave the tone to
court, and crowd, and science, too.
"When nought was left to represent the faith
Of Christ, but mass idolatrous ― the bread
Turned into Deity by the noisome breath,
Perchance, of some foul priest, and overhead
Held up for worship; while the incense spread
Its odour round; and eunuch songsters strained
Their hireling throats, by opera music led;
And cloth of gold unto the priest pertained,
While rags scarce clad the
peasant whom the Church
"Of his last mite ― what wonder that the minds
Of men revolted with disgust from show
And showman too? Few, now, the forgery blinds,
'Mong Frenchmen; but men much more easily throw
Their idols down than learn to humbly bow
'Fore sovran Truth. Oh that the Lord would raise
Up for Himself, in France, some teacher low
In men's esteem, but who with Truth's pure blaze
Should fire French souls,
till they proclaim the Saviour's
"God hath His witnesses, though few" ― in haste,
Spake Claude: "a remnant of our race give ear
And heart unto the truth. They have embraced
Its teachings from the stranger, and hold dear
The word of life. Brethren, we will not fear!
Their number shall increase, till France shall be
Among the foremost nations that revere
The Crucified; and, over land and sea,
Her sons shall champion
the new Christian Chivalry!"
"Lord, let Thy servant's faith be realized
Right early!" ― prayed the Martyr company,
Aloud; ― and sounds that shewed some sympathised
With them, in Paradise, were heard. The three
Brothers Du Plans  approached, with holy glee
"Amen" responding: with them, David Quet, 
And elder martyrs twain ― Pierre de Bruis, 
And Henri, "the false hermit,"  as the men of
Misnamed their victim, in
the famed St. Bernard's day.
And, after these, drew near a Martyr crowd ―
A crowd innumerous ― that on earth were named
With many names ― some given by wicked, proud,
And persecuting men; and some that epigrammed
Their virtues. They who, when the faggots flamed
Around their limbs, at Lyons, aloud exclaimed
They saw the heavens opened; and, at Toulouse,
Where met, i' the Middle Age, the Council famed
For persecution, they whom its foul abuse
Meekly received, and dared
its sentence murderous.
And they who bled or burnt, for stubborn faith,
In Gascogne, and Provence, and Dauphine;
And, in Lorraine and Picardy, met death
Exultantly: some called "The Men that pray,"
And some "The Men that sing:" some termed the stray
Dwellers with wolves, or Turlupins. The poor
That loved them called them "pure" ― Cathari: they ―
The proud who hated them, never forbore
To give them names of
guilt, without a metaphor.
Poor Men, Poor Weavers, Publicans,
Beghards, Beguines, and Manichees, some chose
To call them, as they wandered o'er the plains
Of sunny France, or climbed the Alpine snows,
Or hid in Pyrenĉan vales from foes;
And Albigenses were they called, who fell
In thousands by De Montfort's sword  ― the
Approved by Rome, who said the work was well
And nobly done: work
worthy of the fiends of hell!
Anon, joined these, another Martyr host:
The Vaudois of Provence, whom fierce Oppéde 
Slew with the sword, or burnt ― a holocaust
To glut his bad revenge ― the slaughter made
By order of the king, won by the aid
Of Cardinal de Tournon: penitent
In death, the royal Francis strongly bade
Henri, his son, to follow with punishment
The guilty deed: a charge
to which dull heed was lent.
The gathered Martyr companies of France
That lived, on earth, some centuries apart,
Yet gave each other the fraternal glance,
And seemed a mighty army of one heart.
Forthwith, in serried ranks they formed athwart
The flowery plain, as if their wont to meet
Thither, it were ― not to record the smart
Of their past martyrdom, but one to greet
Another, and rehearse old
earthly memories sweet.
Their greetings all renewed, the waving Hand
Of Light again appeared above. All saw
The signal, and the universal band
Struck up the song of praise and love and awe,
With mingled prayer for France ― the holy law
Obeying which, in Paradise, doth bind
All souls from earth, and did them thither draw,
To pray their Lord for those still left behind,
In Fatherland, that they
may all His mercy find.
"Great God of might, who dost all worlds possess ―
Creator of our being ― Redeemer strong
From sin and Sanctifier who dost men bless
With heart-renewal, and grace to leave the wrong
And cleave unto the right! Again, our song
We raise ― our brother-song of grateful joy ―
That, though we grieved Thy holiness so long,
In mortal life, Thou didst not us destroy;
But didst preserve our
souls to share Thy blest employ!
"O Holy Lord, make bare Thy sovran arm,
And from our Fatherland old Error chase!
No longer let the priest, with baneful charm,
Delude men's souls! No longer let our race
Give up their souls to folly and foul embrace
Of deadliest sin! Thy power to humble pride,
O Lord, Thou hast displayed before their face,
With awful force, and still Thou dost them chide ―
But, by their blinded eyes
Thy hand is undescried.
"O God, let men, throughout the humbled realm
Of France, begin to think ― until from off
Their eyes the scales shall fall, and shame o'erwhelm
Their souls that they so long have lived to scoff
At things Divine, and to deride all proof
Of Thine Existence, who so long hast borne
With their foul sin. Let Frenchmen keep aloof
No longer from Thy Christ! Oh, let their scorn
Of meekness end!
Lord, beam upon their souls forlorn!"
The prayerful song went on the fervid plea
For France, that God would cleanse her mental sight
From folly's films, her veil of vanity
Remove, restore her spirit from the blight
Of scepticism, and fill it with the bright
Perception that in Christ is true repose ―
Repose her restless spirit needs to upknit
Her ravelled strength, ― to still her strifeful throes,―
And a transcendent future
for her sons disclose.
Their prayer harmonious ended; when began
The brethren towards the terraced hills to wend,
In serried ranks. The Martyr caravan,
Triumphant marching, did its wings extend
Across the plain till the low hills ascend
I, erst, saw in my dream: the river's marge
It also touched; and often seemed to bend
Its lines by the winding river: space so large
It filled. ― But, now, I
heard one Mind new thoughts
'Twas one whose flesh by pincers was torn off ―
Bold John le Clerc,  they martyred in Lorraine,
For that, with fiery zeal, beneath the roof
Papists called holy he broke their idols vain
To pieces. To the few I saw remain ―
Brousson, Bonnemere, and Dombres  ― I heard
"My brothers, we can never here complain
Of what doth seem the All-wise One's delay
In saving France; but, how
mysterious seems His way!
"He leaves the land which so much martyrs' blood
Hath consecrated, and where Mind hath won
Its proudest triumphs, ― in its hardihood
Of unbelief and pride to wander on; ―
And seeks the barbarous races 'neath the sun:
The dwellers on the islands of the sea,
And far-off continents, but dimly known
When we were sharers of mortality ―
Lo! while I speak, the
new-born spirits hither flee!―
"For Sin with Holiness the war on earth
Will wage till comes the end, and ever slake
Its thirst with blood of Saints ― yea, count it mirth
To see their bodies writhe with torturous ache,
Or burning. So, some hither from the stake
Now come, and some slain by the piercing spear;
And from the rock let fall to earth, where brake
Their bones, others have come. Welcome, ye dear
Disciples of our Lord! ―
We give ye heavenly cheer!"
"Welcome, dear brethen, from the island far,
To Jesu's Paradise!" aloud Brousson
And his companions cried; "ye welcome are
To all God's Saints!"
I knew this Martyr throng
From Madagascar came ― the island, long
And broad, the channel named the Mozambique
Divides from Afric land. Victims of wrong
They felt they were, and did no pardon seek,
But met their death with
joy, and Christian courage
Victims of Ranavalona  ― savage queen ―
A demon-legion seemed to fill and rule,
As when Christ dwelt on earth, the spirits unclean
Possessed the man: the evil spirits so foul,
That, driven out of man, they begged control
O'er filthy swine, and gained their strange request ―
Christ ― as the Judge of men ― letting the shoal
Of swine be drowned, His mind to manifest ―
The Jews, by keeping them,
Jehovah's law trangressed.
Sisters there were, as well as brethren, in
The island Martyr band. The queen so vile
Spared neither her own sex, nor her own kin.
The maiden Rasalama,  with a smile ―
As proto-martyr of her native isle ―
Led on the Christian company. Her hand
She gave to Rafaralahy,  the youth who while
They led her forth to death, with bravery grand
Walked with her as she
sang ― spite of the queen's
Full soon it was his turn to die. They slew
Him as he knelt where her unburied bones
Were strewed. And more they killed. I fear,
Ye would their names proclaim, and strange the tones,
If I pronounced them! Few to their death groans
Gave heed, in England ― where the boast
Is rife ― "There are no Martyrs now." "The moans" ―
Say ye? ― "were faint on that far southern coast"?
Truly, full oft their
moans in hymns of joy were lost!
"Sing us, sweet sister," spake Brousson, "the hymn
We heard that thou didst sing when thou wert led
To martyrdom."  To me her words
The melody with windings seemed to thread
The spiritual air, till ― as the great one said ―
With "linkèd sweetness long drawn out," the mind
O'erpowered seemed tears of tenderness to shed,
With rapturous thrill. Thus sounds are intertwined
With feeling, whether in
earth or heaven, for humankind!
Then sang the Malagasy, in their tongue,
And with like tenderness, in joyous strains,
And in full chorus, other hymns they sung
In their late days of martyrdom and pain.
Their music rose above the flowery plain,
Until I saw the infant company
Of Welcomers gather in troops, amain,
And float o'erhead, and list with ecstasy
And wonder, what the
music, new to heaven, might
And then, in spiritual tongue, the men of France
Spake with the Malagasy of the time
Of persecution ― when no sustenance
They gat, for days, i' the woods, and had to climb
Rude rocks, and hide in caves, or in the slime
Of swamps, to escape their hunters; and the hate
O' the wicked queen to flee: their only crime
They worshipped Christ, and would not fall prostrate
'Fore blocks of wood by
ignorant heathen consecrate.
With grateful joy the Malagasy told
How first the missionary-men to preach
Began, and how some felt that truth gat hold
Of all their heart; and when by signs to teach ―
By printed signs as well as spoken speech ―
The men began, what wonder, and what zeal
Some felt to learn until their minds could reach
The meaning of God's word, and sweetly feel
What great salvation for
their souls it did reveal.
And how they hid its precious leaves, when raged
Fierce Ranavalona, and nightly drew them forth
From their concealment, and by stealth assuaged
Their thirst for the living water: how i' the earth
They hid Christ's printed truth, and with what mirth
They dug it up when none of all their foes
Were nigh. And then, how great they deemed the
Of Bunyan's Pilgrim-story  to disclose
Their hearts began ― yea,
told of it with rapt applause!
"O brethren, these are wondrous ways of God!"
Said Claude; "how know we but this savage isle ―
For such was Madagascar, when we trod
The soil of earth ― may, in the Future, smile
Triumphantly o'er Hellas, and the land of Nile ―
Yea, over Europe's proudest boast of art
And science? Oft doth God select the vile,
In men's esteem, to enact a lofty part:―
What, if this isle be set
down in some future chart
"O' the world, as the pre-eminent Christian seat
Of knowledge and refinement? God may bring
Judgment upon the nations that maltreat
His truth, and deem it false; that madly wring
From intellect and sensual revelling,
Alike, the dregs of pleasure; and ignore
Their Maker's name; yea, proudly backward fling
His benefits, and call them curses. O'er
Our ancient home awful
judicial change may lour!"
"Cast not away blest hope!" with cheery shout,
Cried one who led another band in view,
While thus the Preacher spoke of fear and doubt,
And to the terraced mountains nearer drew
The Malagasy and the friendly few
That journeyed with Brousson. The Martyr band
That now approached, thus cheerily led, I knew,
By mystic insight, were of Gallic land,
Likewise: its ancient
Martyrs: they who bore the brand
Of infamy, when pagan Rome held rule,
And savagely shed Christian blood for game,
By scourge and torture so unpitiful,
'Twere hard to tell: worse than the fiery flame!
And dread exposure, 'mid the loud acclaim
Of thousands, to the claws and teeth of beasts
Wild from their scorching Afric clime: no shame
They felt to boast refinement, yet such feasts
They held i' th'
amphitheatres, with brutal jests
Mocking frail woman's sufferings, as of men
The groans. 'Twas Polycarp's disciple 
Gaul's ancient martyrs. He who in Vienne
Was slain. And, with him, they whose blood was
So recklessly in Lyons, by the dread
Decree of Antoninus Verus, blythely trod
The floral way: Pothinus,  whom from bed
They dragged ― the man of ninety ― to give God
His dying testimony, and
seal it with his blood;
Sanctus, the deacon, stout, defiant, brave,
Amidst all threats and tortures; Attalus,
Maturus, Vettius, and the female slave,
Blandina  ― noblest martyr for the cross
Of all her sex, in times iniquitous;
And many more.
"Cast not away blest hope!"
Cried Irenĉus; "still remain for us
God's patience and His love. Let us look up,
My brethren, yet, for
fallen France! Let not faith
"While the great Intercessor pleads in heaven,
And saints on earth. Asunder, God the veil
Of scepticism will rive, as He hath riven
The veil of heathenism! France shall the trail
O' the serpent see, ere long, and humbly wail
In penitence, that she so long hath held
The false for true, for pure the bestial:
Shall mourn she hath the power of Evil swelled;
And grieve 'gainst God and
Christ she hath so long
"Cast not away blest hope!" again he cried.
"Blest hope we may not, will not cast away!"
Cried all the Martyr company; "Christ died
For sceptic, as for heathen, Gaul: her day
Of grace is not yet past: full soon the ray
Of holiest Truth, with soul-awakening might,
May beam upon her. Send it, Lord, we pray!
Let France no longer be a realm of night;
But shine among the
nations, by Thy Gospel light!"
The prayer and song went on, as now to climb
The terraced mountains they began; the song
Went on ― and other songs, with chaunt sublime,
The joyous myriads sang ― the happy throng
That, marching, climbed the height with step so
And limber: age and weakness felt no more!
They climbed ― but sense that I might not prolong
My visit to that realm grew, as before,
Within me; and I woke to
find myself on shore
Of earth, a pilgrim still: Death's mystic sea
Uncrossed! Yet, I must cross it soon: the years
Must now be scanty that remain for me
On th' hither side o' the tomb. Life onward wears
Happily, thank God! Scarcely a "vale of tears"
This life hath been for me. Still let me prove
My happiness in DUTY: then, no fears
Cold Death can bring: 'twill be but a remove
From happy life below, to
happier life above!
END OF BOOK IV.
NOTES TO BOOK THE FOURTH.
1. ― Stanza 44.
"the Evangelist of the Desert." ― See a good, compact life of
him, published by Hamilton, Adams and Co. 1853. The
Preface is signed by "Henry S. Baynes."
2. ― Stanza 45.
DUMAS, FULCRAN REY,
GUION, BONNEMERE, OLIVIER
SOVERAIN, and other martyrs of
Montpellier. Their deaths are all described in the volume
I have just mentioned.
3. ― Stanza 63.
The three brothers, DU PLANS:
co-workers also with Claude Brousson.
4. ― Stanza 63.
Broken on the wheel at Montpellier. For a record of his
martyrdom see also the "Life of Claude Brousson."
5. and 6. ― Stanza 63.
PIERRE DE BRUIS and HENRI,
"the FALSE HERMIT."
See some account of their labours and martyrdom in a translation
of Antoine Monastier's "History of the Vaudois Church,"
published by the Religious Tract Society.
7. ― Stanza 67.
SIMON DE MONTFORT.
One hundred thousand crusaders (and some say more) in 1209,
ravaged Languedoc, and slaughtered countless "heretics," under
the leadership of Simon de Montfort, and Amalric, the Abbot of
Citeaux, and legate of Pope Innocent III.
8. ― Stanza 67.
THE BARON OPPEDE.
The merciless butcheries, devastations, and nameless horrors
executed upon the poor Vaudois of Provence, under the fierce
leadership of this man, are vigorously related in a crowded
volume entitled "History of the Protestants of France," etc., by
G. de Felice. Translated by P. E. Barnes. Routledge
and Co. 1853.
9. ― Stanza 75.
"Bold JOHN LE CLERC,"
the woolcomber of Meaux, is an observable figure among the
martyrs of France. "In his zeal against the deceiving
errors which he saw abounding on every hand, he involved himself
and the good cause he had at heart in common ruin, by rashly
offending the most cherished prejudices of the prevailing creed.
The inhabitants of Metz, whither he had withdrawn, were
accustomed annually to repair in crowds on an appointed festival
to a neighbouring chapel, where a statue of the Virgin, with
others of favourite saints, were the objects of special devotion
to the credulous and ignorant populace.
"Like Paul of old, the spirit of Le Clerc was stirred within
him to see the city thus wholly given to idolatry; and,
forgetful of the example of the apostle in like circumstances,
he repaired at an early hour to the church, and breaking the
images in pieces, he scattered them before the altar.
Though no one witnessed the daring sacrilege, Le Clerc had no
desire to flee. The act was designed as a testimony
against the sin in which the people were preparing to unite; and
when he was dragged before the judges by an enraged multitude,
who could hardly be restrained from tearing him in pieces, he
fearlessly proclaimed to them Jesus Christ as the sole object of
"The courageous confessor was sentenced to be burned alive;
but even a death so horrible could not satisfy his enraged
executioners. He was mutilated and torn with red-hot
pincers, and his sufferings were prolonged with the most savage
ingenuity; after which the sentence of his judges was carried
into execution by burning him in a slow fire. . . . While his
executioners tore his flesh, and mutilated his face, in a manner
too horrible for description, he solemnly ejaculated the words―'Their
idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They
that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth
in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: He is thy help
and thy shield.'"
10. ― Stanza 75.
DOMBRES. He and Boisson, both
colleagues of Claude de Brousson, went to martyrdom, at Nismes,
singing the praises of God, and "finished their course with
11. ― Stanza 79.
RANAVALONA, Queen of Madagascar.
How this woman, who had no rightful claim to the throne, seized
it, on the death of King Radama, has been related in English
periodicals many times. The reader will find a compact
account of the Malagasy martyrs in the "Narrative of the
Persecution of the Christians in Madagascar," etc., by the
Missionaries Freeman and Johns. London: Snow, 35,
Paternoster Row; as also in "Madagascar: its Mission and its
Martyrs," published by the same house.
12. Stanza 80.
RASALAMA. The calm, but glorious death
of this proto-martyr of Madagascar is beautifully told in the
last-mentioned little volume.
13. ― Stanza 80.
RAFARALAHY. "My sister, I will
not leave you to the end," said this young man, separating
himself from the crowd to walk by the side of Rasalama, as she
was led to death. A few days afterwards he, also, was
14. ― Stanza 84.
The Malagasy martyrs all went, singing hymns of praise, to
the place of death. This so enraged their persecutors,
that at last they stuffed straw into the mouths of the
15. ― Stanza 86.
"Bunyan's Pilgrim story." It was translated into
Malagasy by Mr. Johns, the Missionary; and soon the natives
prized it next the Bible.
16. ― Stanza 91.
"Polycarp's disciple" IRENĈUS. He
was martyred at Vienne, in Gaul, A. D. 202, in the persecution
17. ― Stanza 91.
POTHINUS. See Eusebius,
Book v. c. i.
18. ― Stanza 92.
SANCTUS the deacon, ATTALUS,
MATURUS, VETTIUS EPAGATHUS,
BLANDINA, and others. See
Eusebius, Book v. c. i.
Ed. ― the following two stanzas are in Book IV. of the
1873 edition of Paradise of Martyrs, appearing between
stanzas 23 & 24 of this edition:
"That unlocks Mystery! What Life is we
And knowing what Life is, shall we not make
Things that shall live?" Yet they
most hotly glow
With fervency of trust that they shall take
God's work out of His mighty hands, and wake
Up matter dead to life, some morning bright,
Ere long. It was of our sage men I spake
Darwin, and Huxley, and Tyndal ― each a light
Of lustrous mind who sheds from such empyreal height
On lowly men that still grope in the dark,
And say they cannot through a millstone look,
Except by the hole i' the midst. "But, when the
Electric hath the protoplasma strook,
The secret will not our sage Huxley hook,
And wake dead matter up, as he designed?" ―
Think ye, the knife when Simple Simon took
To cut his mother's bellows open, and find
What made them blow, the philosophe did find