BLOOD! blood! Ye human hell-hounds, when, oh
Will ye have had your fill? The hazy morn
Hath scarcely dawned upon this grisly den
Of demon Power, ere yon poor wretch forlorn
Is led to slaughter:—led? nay, fainting, borne
Unto the ladder's foot! Murder by law—
In lieu of medicine till his wits return—
For one impelled to kill, by his brain-flaw;
And then to weep, when he his slaughtered infant saw!
It is the death-toll: there! they bear him on!
I climb to read the lesson through my bars.—
Hah! curse upon thee, priest!—is it well done
That thou, a peace-robed herald pattering prayers,
Dost head the death-march? Trowst thou not it
With that sky-message which proclaimed, thou sayst,
'Peace and Goodwill to Man'?—ay, that it mars
The face of mercy to behold thee placed
There, in grim state, 'tween spears with crape, in mockery,
'Tis passed—the chilling spectacle! Farewell,
Poor pale, weak, fellow-worm! 'twill soon be o'er—
Thy tearful pilgrimage. 'Tis done!—the knell
Ceases: and though I, happily, see no more
Of the fell tragedy, the sullen roar
Of groans and execrations, pierces through
My dungeon-grating; for the gazers pour
The heart's involuntary curse on you,
Ye hireling butchers who now 'give the law its due'! 
Oh! I would weep throughout the live-long day
With memory how my fellow-man hath wept
Through ages, and bewail him as the prey
Of foul Draconian beasts which he hath kept
In reverence high; but, that I feel, except
The melting mood be mastered, and fierce ire
As well, and Man becomes a calm adept
In tracing errors to their spring, the fire
Of that real Hell that burns on earth shall ne'er expire.
Why should I curse thee, priest? Art thou not bound
To obey thy patched creed's dogmas? 'Blood for
Thy rubric reads, with logic most profound!
And, lest by disobedience, the world should
Halt on its axle, ye, meek brotherhood!
Must see the 'Law Divine' fulfilled. He meant
Not what he said—the Nazarene—the Good!
Or, still the rubric stands for murderers: blent
With mystery is God's law: Himself knows His intent!
Hah! how long will ye palter thus, to screen
Your conscious inconsistency, and hide
The Truth from Man? Either the Nazarene
Or Moses errs. And, if stern homicide
Man's homicidal will so well could chide
Of old, the Law of Blood, maugre all change,
Must still be wholesome. But, ye should abide
By all the Law: 'eye,' 'tooth,' 'hand,' 'foot'—avenge
Avenge!—Ye may not from the whole a part estrange! 
Doff, then, thine alb, and don the ephod, priest,—
If thou art Moses' minister; Ah, no!—
Thou too successfully and long hast fleeced
The sheep in that white garment to forego
The gain of doubleness. Neither art thou
And thy smooth tribe unskilful to discern
That while ye must stand by your yokefellow,
The hangman, and together deftly learn
To prop kings' sway,—fair uses hath your coat extern:
It symbols meekness well, and peace, ye preach
To slaves: Christ's precepts are for them! Your
Hath thus its parts, and ye are prompt for each!
Dark ambidexters in the guilty game
Of human subjugation! how to tame
Man's spirit ye, and only ye, have skill:
Kings need your help to hold their thrones; while claim
Of sanctity enables ye, at will,
To wield o'er prostrate Reason subtler empire still!
What tyrants leave unvanquished in the mind
By threat of chains, the gallows, flame, or sword,
Ye humble by your Hell!—
Was I not blind—
To judge ye inconsistent? True accord
Subsists between your new and elder 'word,'
Ye throw away no part: it is because,
With cunning shrewder than the simple horde
O' the laity, ye ken the penal clause
Blends in one spirit fierce the old and late Jew's laws.
'Forgive them, for they know not what they do!'—
O Christ! how worshipfully great thou art
Uttering such dying breath! A lowly Jew,
Born and brought up with bigots whose old heart
Was nurtured, from far time, to count the smart
Of suffering in a foe sweet to behold;
From rule of blood for blood ne'er to depart,—
Of eye for eye, and tooth for tooth; to fold
The law of vengeance, given while the thunder rolled,
And lightnings flashed, and the loud trumpet pealed
Forth from the shrouded hill, in the heart's core,
As dearer than all treasures earth can yield;
Law eulogised, confirmed by Prophets hoar,
By solemn awe-rapt bards, and all the lore
Thy country ever knew! If not Divine
Thou wert,—thy self-born light and love is more
Miraculous than aught by all the line
Of the heart's precept-makers writ in page benign.
Hunted to death,—nailed to 'the tree of shame,'—
Fainting, expiring,—and thy last heart-prayer
Breathing for them who gibbeted thy name
Above that thorn-crowned head, nor did forbear,
When spirit-desolation or despair
Seized thee, to mock thy groans! Forgiveness,—
For those who tortured thee! Oh! if such rare
Triumph o'er ill be human, it doth prove
A glorious nobility in Man enwove!
And 'tis enwove in man: else, wherefore pleads
High reason in that prayer?—'they know not what
They do!'—Compassion for a being whose deeds
Resulting from his ignorance denote
His errors accidental: not inwrought
By natural vice, or willed, in Reason's spite,
When Knowledge shows the wrong. By Reason
Thus to regard our brother, inner might
Of love fraternal springs, and Pity's calm delight.
What sayest thou, priest? 'It is not thus'? Do
Of Hell, then, fill the heart with this intense
And holy bliss of pitying love? Begets
Thy rhetoric of the flames which Providence
Almighty ever blows for bodily sense
(By miracle also made eternal); worm,
Deathless and sateless, preying without suspense
On conscience: do these horrors sow the germ
Of love in Man, and threats renewed its growth confirm?
And yet, thy Master preached this Hell: with all
His sovereign magnanimity, and free
Expanse of soul, the Nazarene a thrall
Remained to the old desart-Deity,—
The 'jealous' Vengeance-God!—
Shrewd Priest! of thee
I judged but shallowly: thy puzzle-book
Thou readst more skilfully than I; agree
Thy teachers twain: the Galilean shook
Not off from his large mind the mountain-thunderer's
Hell-fire,—coercion,—for the ingrate hard
Who will not love the God set forth as high,
Vast, indescribable, in His Love's regard
For Men! 'Love Him; or He will magnify
'His glory by consigning thee to die
'In ceaseless flames an ever-living death'!—
O Christ! how can I love what doth outvie
All tyrannies in horribleness of wrath:
This monstrous Thing derived from an old monster
Thine, Galilean, is of all earth's creeds
The greatest marvel! Wonder at thy toil
Of tears, self-sacrifice, and love succeeds
Each step we tread with thee—till this dread foil
Unto thy moral beauty doth despoil
The yearning heart of its impassioned hope:
Death-stricken, blighted, doth the soul recoil
From its tempestuous wish to love thee: droop
It must in doubt; and to its bourne in darkness
Oh! hadst thou not so lovely been on earth,
I would not care to share thy Paradise:
This wish to live beyond the grave hath birth
Without my will: yet, by the sovereign voice.
Of Reason 'twould be hushed, but that the bliss
Of knowing such a heart as thine doth seem
A boundless joy,—a good beyond all price:
And still I wish thy heaven were not a dream;
And, to my latest hour shall doat upon that theme!
Alas! thy repetition of that most
Enslaving of all slavish thoughts—a Hell
Wherewith the Priest may threat to tame the ghost
Of him who dares in mortal life rebel
'Gainst Faith or Kings—restrains the heart's love-
Rushing to centre in thee, and reveals
To Reason that thou couldst not burst the spell
Of Circumstance—which even the mightiest seals
In impotence: we do but act as she impels.
Greatest of moral miracles thou art:
In godlikeness above all godlike men:
Pardoning thy murderers, even while thy heart
They pierced: born in a land where rock and glen,
On every hand that met thy love-lit ken,
Were during witnesses of brothers' blood
Shed by, or for Jehovah!—Denizen
Of such a clime—Child of so fierce a brood—
What wonder at one speck in thy vast sun of good?
One link—thy penal Hell,—with the old Past
Of Force, the homage-time so reverent—
Connects thee: but, thy themes of mercy vast,
Of love and brotherhood,—the aliment
Shall be for kindred souls on love intent
And mercy, every hour, until the might
Their spirits draw from thine all-prevalent
Shall render them; and they shall chase the sprite
Of Blood and Force that doth all human joyaunce
Goodness, thou didst enthrone: our generous sires,
Drawn by thy generous themes, Woden and Thor
Abandoned, quenching all their idol-fires
To worship Whom they called 'the Good.' Before
Goodness personified thy Gospel's lore
Taught them, they thought, to bow; and 'God' became
Their Deity —
What small shrill voice doth pour
Its wailing from that grated window-frame?
What note of Pain doth thus my feeble brain-steps maim?
Hah! murderous spider! when I watched thee spread
Thy cobweb yestermorn, it did relieve
A dreary prison-hour to mark each thread
From thee, thou magic artisan, receive
Its faery texture: while I saw thee weave
That dædal miracle, this
Rose not that now impelleth me to grieve
Much more than to admire—to grieve and doubt,
As, in a torment-web, like thy poor victim, caught!—
Priest! dost thou smile, beholding how Thought's web
Baffles and binds me with its mystery,—
Yea, lays me, helpless as a limber babe,
At Mystery's feet? Oh! I will slander thee
No more: if Nature hath a Deity,
The Bible doth not slanderously limn
His portraiture: Author of agony
The living book doth, hourly, picture Him:
The written—thrones a Slaughterer 'tween the Cherubim!
'Tis clear: who tries the Faith by Nature's test
O modern Stagyrite!—between thy creed
And Her must own 'Analogy' confest.'—
'Submit thee, then, vain doubter!—since decreed
'It is that Life consists of things of greed
'And things to be their prey,—submit and bow
'To Him who made them thus: back, that may lead
'Thee to the Faith in which, thou dost allow,
'The Deity is drawn with Nature's girded brow!'
Priest! I will answer thee with that free soul
These bolts and bars have only served to thew.
Forty short summers towards my earthly goal
Have I now journeyed, and, for me, but few
More summers can remain: Wrong to eschew,
And Right to treasure in the heart's recess,
How can I lack dispose, while, to my view,
The grave is yawning in its cold duresse
To close what tyrants leave of my clay's feebleness?
Priest! I have felt by turns from earliest days,
As well as calms, the tempests of the brain:
Fervid devotion, and the wild rapt blaze
Of ecstasy in prayer; ascetic pain
And fasting; midnight book-toil to obtain
The key to facts—knowledge of tongues of old;
Weighing of evidence—grave—long—again;
With constant watchings how Man doth unfold
What is the impress true he bears from Nature's mould;—
And this, in humbleness I would declare,
And yet with courage, is my only Faith:—
Goodness alone, with its blest, yearning care,
Is worshipful—for Goodness only hath
Power to make good and happy things of breath
And thought. If Man can be transformed
Wholly to virtue, punishment and wrath,—
Taught by all priests that on the earth have swarmed,—
Must be untaught; and Man by Love to Right be
Goodness alone is worshipful. Not what
Gives life, but what gives happiness is good.
I cannot worship what I own a blot
To be in my own nature—hasty flood
Of feeling that with ireful hardihood
Would rush to do what I would soon regret:
Nor can I worship, priest! thy Shapes of Blood,
Or Nature's cause of Pain. If to beget
Love in the soul these fail—shall worship there be
I cannot worship what I cannot love.—
If this be vicious, priest! show me the way
To virtue: I will own—if thou dost prove—
My error: but, till then, I humbly say,
I think the error thine. To resurvey,
For proofs of Deity, great Nature's face,
Drawn, yea impelled, unto Mind's latest day,
I shall be by Her wonders; but—the embrace
Of All-pervading Goodness—shall I find It's trace?
I say not that there is no God: but that
I know not. Dost thou know, or dost
Why should I ask thee, priest? Darkness hath sat
With light on Nature—Woe with Happiness
Since human worms crawled from their languageless
Imperfect embryons, and by signs essayed
To picture their first thoughts. 'Tis but excess
Of folly to attempt the great charade
To solve: and yet the irking wish must be obeyed!—
Night hath returned on me,—even as it closed
Upon these dizzying thoughts in human things
Thousands of years ago:—Two Powers opposed
Eternally,—or Good with boundless wings
Brooding o'er Universe—the egg whence springs
Evil: the Mede's, Hindoo's, Egyptian's strife
To make himself believe some glimmerings
He saw of Truth, through Nature's garment rife
With Mystery: Hebrew fable of primeval life
In happy Eden—Eve, and glozing snake:
Or myth more artificial of the land
Of arts and song—Pandora's box, with ache
And boil and pestilence, by man's rash hand
Unlidded—punishment for theft of brand
Night hath returned, as she returned
To millions, who through life thus vainly scanned
The face of mystery. What, though they burned
In vain to know, yet never Nature's secret learned?
Desire to know must still within us burn—
Though its quick fire our fragile clay consume:
For who would crawl in brutal unconcern
Along his fated pathway to the tomb,
Nor ever ask if thought-flame shall relume
This clay, or it shall sleep a dull, dark, cold,
I slept, and dreamt the doom
Of suicidal souls—great souls of old—
I did, once more, in mystic spirit-land behold.
The thrones were set, in gorgeous show, beneath
The rainbow-roofed and column-girt expanse,
Filled with the votaries of self-wrought death
I saw before; and with like cognizance
Of crown and sceptre, shedding radiance
From gems and gold, they sat,—or, lesser state
Kept, as of civic power's participance
The fitter emblem. 'Sdeignfully elate
Some sat, while some sent forth deep glances of debate:
For, mingled with the thrones, rose seats of strange
Fantastic structure—seeming, medley-wise,
The courage, cunning, pride, despair, revenge,
The love of fatherland, or high emprise,
Wisdom, or eloquence, to symbolise
Of their famed occupants—a lustrous host
Begirt with rays, whose thoughts wore no disguise,—
So that my spirit scanned each musing ghost,
And read the characters in his mind's book engrossed.—
Transcending far, in grace, all regal thrones,
Twin seats neighbouring the godlike Spartan's stood,
O'ercanopied with bended necks of swans,
And wings of doves circling their callow brood,
Adorned beneath with blossom, bell, and bud,
The loveliest of every season's growth,
In garlands woven, upon drapery strewed
With bees that swarmed on infant Plato's mouth,
And lucent shells that gem the sea-shore of the south:
Whereon, sat he whose lightning-tippëd
Had made Greece glorious unto farthest time,
Had Socrates ne'er lived, nor Homer sung,
Nor Marathon been found beneath her clime;
And by his side, his brother Greek, the prime
In rhetoric art, Isocrates,—whose pen
Could fill the Attic mind with throes sublime,—
Ay, fire the brain of humblest citizen
With ecstasy unknown to gross-souled, late-born men.
An elder glory, near Demosthenes
And his fraternal sprite, on radiant seat
Upborne, like Neptune's chariot on the seas,
Appeared: prows of the Persian's prostrate fleet,
And eagles' wings, and tridents—hatchments meet
For victory—with oaken wreaths, adorned
His bright shell-chariot; while with prancing feet,
His fish-tailed steeds the waveless pavement spurned,
And, proudly, to the roof, their wide-spread nostrils
And throned in glory sat the illustrious shade
Of him whose name with Salamis shall live
For aye,—'less Freemen fail and Freedom fade
On every shore, and some new Xerxes give
To earth his will for law, and ocean grieve,
Mirthful no longer at the tyrant's whip.—
That latest Greek who struggled to retrieve
His country's greatness, and the plumes to clip
Of Rome's fierce eagle, by Achæan
Sat next Themistocles,—the latest Greek
Worthy the name,—Diacus,—who, when fell
Corinth with Carthage, scorned to live a meek
Breath-unit in a world now Rome's, or swell
Her earth-spread train of slaves. Immoveable
Sat Zeno, stoic sire, on shapeless rock
Of ebon granite, with a look to quell
Kings' mindless pomps, so loftily it woke
The regal soul to spurn false grandeur's gaudy yoke.
His noblest Roman son the suicide,
Of Utica, with simple oaken crown
Adorned, sat on a kindred rock, and eyed
The enervate Antony upon his throne,
Until he seemed to shrink beneath that frown,
And shun its keen reproof. A mystic shape
On milk-white steed, girt with a starry zone,
Sat smiling as he saw the pavement gape:
Emblems of Rome's cleft forum, Curtius, and his
Twin-seats, again, I saw, near Antony's,—
But, unlike his, of iron mould,—and blazed
With sword and spear, and manifold device
Of slaughter,—whereon sat the twain oft praised
For patriots: the aristocrats who raised
Their daggers 'gainst the despot—not to pave
Plebeian paths to Right; but, long bedazed
With freedom false, patrician power to save:
They who, near Philippi, sped, world-sick, to the grave.
And near them Caius sat—th' Agrarian,—
Cornelia's younger boast,—the truly great
And good, though stamped with History's hireling ban
With simple oaken chaplet he kept state
Kings seemed to envy, as he smiling sate
On cornucopias shedding Ceres' fruit
From wreathed gold,—while o'er him bended date,
And olive, orange, fig, and cocoa nut,
Festooned with vines, and draped with green gourds
On either hand the Gracchus, miniature
Array of honours gilded Carbo's brow,—
With his young head that once, by act impure
Of vengeful Sylla, his great father's foe,
Bedecked a pole i' the forum for a show—
Jugurtha's conqueror's son. 
With these appeared
Full many a Roman ghost that fled from blow
By bestial Cæsars
threatened: souls that feared
Not death itself; but—to die tyrant-massacred.
Nor lacked there Roman spirits of the days
When Rome and her old gods of friendly faith
Were nullified by new Byzantium's blaze,
And its exclusive creed. Crowned with sere
On mouldering columns, Photius sat, who death—
A freeman's death—preferred, to humbling loss
Of self-respect,—giving away his breath
When false Justinian bade old Pagan gloss
Should cease, and all the world bow down before the
Rome's elder terror, by the Pontic king
Appeared—the one-eyed Carthaginian:
Athwart, he sat, upon a living thing
Of monster form—a seat equestrian,
Blending an elephant whose forehead's span
Was vast as Hindoo Ganesa's; a pard
With hide besprent, like that gruff Scythian
By Ceres changed; 
and feet of beast that marred
The seer, but halted, by the ass, the corpse to guard. 
Fast by the thrones of Saul and Zimri lay
A mass of hideousness, where crocodile,
And snake, and scorpion, and tarantula,
Were blent into one reptile, huge and vile—
The dorsual seat of that old peer of guile
Who hanged himself because the Archite's rede
Was ta'en by rebel Absalom. 
Of hybrid life—half-bull, half-desart-steed—
Sat Eleazar, of the Maccabees' bold breed. 
And Razis  near him sat, on
More fell, commingling tiger, wolf, and bear,
With claws and beak of bird that maketh quest
For dead men's flesh. Where the Byzantines were
Sat Arbogast the Frank 
with savage stare
Leaning upon a shape half-stag, half-hound.
And other suicides assembled there,
Of Gallic mien, gazed haughtily, and frowned,
As if they liked not well the regal pomps around:
These shapes, methought, were they whom, late, I
When wandering over Freedom's desert plain,
I came unto a mound, and stood with awe
To see the hoary cirque—the ruined fane.—
And other spirits which had filled the train
Of my night-visions I, again, beheld:
The bards were there from Phantasy's domain—
The mystic grove; and with these sprites of eld
Came, now, a late-born host which in that region dwelled.
And, from the Mount of Vanity, methought
The Indian and the Agrigentine seemed
To be remet,—while they had with them brought
Of spirits I beheld when erst I dreamed,
A host whose essences defiance gleamed
For contest of the soul. Nor lacked they feud
For long: mind-syllables, terse, vigorous, beamed
Forth from the spiritual similitude
Of the great Pontic king,—who thus debate renewed:—
"Spirits! who waits preamble, or proclaim
Of thesis, since to all our argument
Is known? The Spartan saith this goodly frame
Of kingly pomps Nature hath sagely blent
With typic forms—on our instruction bent—
And foretells utter change—Equality,
Knowledge, and joy, for ever confluent
Through Hades; and for Earth like destiny.
Say, Spirits, with the Spartan's do your thoughts
Thus Mithridates spake; and, straight, the theme
Cleanthes seized. With meek and modest grace
At Zeno's feet he sat, and diadem
Or tiar of gold upon his brow to place
Had mockery seemed—so brightly beamed its trace
Of mental nobleness through the rare veil
That clad his essence. In that mystic space,
When he arose, kings' splendours seemed to pale
In glory, 'fore his soul's refulgence spiritual.
"Monarchs, and bards, and sages old,"—he said;
"I utter first, my humble sentence brief,
That spirits of deeper reach, and skilled to thread
The maze of symbol, type, and hieroglyph,
May follow, more at large. I yield belief
To Nature's sage interpreters of things
When Reason guides their theme; but, for my chief
In wisdom I acknowledge none who clings
Fondly to worship of his own imaginings.
"If Reason guide the Spartan, it is well:
If Phantasy, I heed him not: unskilled,
Myself, in riddles, I will simply tell
My judgment from within. On earth, I toiled
A menial slave by night, 
my toil beguiled
With sweet thoughts how the morning would
Wisdom's boon nurture, that by day distilled
From Zeno's spirit on my soul like dew,
Until my being to intellectual stature grew.
And, if the Past I could live o'er again,
The joys of wisdom to the gauds of power
I would prefer: even now, while in my ken
Glow regal grandeurs, how they seem to cower
Before the spirit's nobler, loftier dower—
Wisdom and Virtue! Monarchs, to offend
I seek not: but that changes o'er ye lour
I also prophesy! Man will ascend
To Truth, and soon unto false glory cease to bend.
"Mind is awake, in Hades; while, on earth,
Crowds ask aloud what truthful reverence
Mere show can ask; demand the proof of worth
From Privilege that lolls in indolence
While Poverty toils on with pang intense
Of bodily hunger; and proclaim, in ire,
Their stern resolve, that throned magnificence—
The dullard son derives from doltish sire—
With conquerors' pomps, late won by murder, shall
He ceased; and Appius, Rome's old lecher vile,
With base effrontery uprose to jeer.
But indignation burst from regal pile
O' the Pontic king, that whelmed with shame
The rude one, and subdued his scoff and sneer:
And albeit Nero Mithridates blamed,
Yet, on the lewd decemvir fell severe
And ireful glances from a host ashamed
To call him Roman—till he fled forth spirit-
When, lo! a filthy and obscene baboon
Upgrew in Appius' seat; while kings aghast,
Dumbfounded, gazed to see the creature soon
Take up the Roman's staff, he, in his haste,
Let fall, and mock the pomp of each dynast
That there held golden sceptre! All were mute
With wonderment—till darkness overcast
The throne where lately sat the dissolute
Old Roman,—and then vanished throne and savage
While, in the rainbowed sky a giant hand
Appeared, and pointed to the throneless void,
Filling the wonder-stricken sceptred band
With deepest dread. Lycurgus, meanwhile, eyed
The change with smiles,—yet not as one that joyed
To view the Roman's sufferings, or his fall,—
But, seeming glad to know one shape destroyed
Among those images of human thrall—
As earnest that like change should pass upon them all.
He spake not: but the monarch-spirits gazed
With awe upon the Spartan's volumed look,
And read his thought—
By splendours unbedazed,
By prophecies or fears of change unshook,
The aweless Carthaginian silence broke:—
"Will this strange visitation check the beast
Of haughty Rome,"—he said,—"this vengeance-stroke
Of the high Powers that rule this mystic coast,
Offended with the Roman monster's obscene ghost
"Such was Rome's progeny in her fresh youth—
Her age of public virtue-when, with vaunt
Of kingly vipers crushed in their young growth,
Her victor plebeians swelled their choral chaunt!
What wonder, then, that her exuberant
Maturity conceived gigantic forms
Of turpitude, so foully miscreant,
That Nature shuddered to reveal their germs,
And, while their mother bore them, darkened earth with
"And shall their images sit here enthroned
With virtuous shapes, while thus the Powers Divine
On one take vengeance? Will they thus confound
Desert with baseness? Not from typic sign,
Abounding in this mystical confine,
I prophesy: but confidence in Right,
'Spite of reverses the Gods intertwine
With Virtue's warrior course, fills me with bright
Anticipations they will yet the Good requite.
That ruin threatens Thrones of bloated vice,
I doubt not; but, that Good with Ill shall fade,
I credit not the Spartan aruspice:"—
Thus Hannibal the gathering fears allayed
Of some; but rendered guiltier Thrones afraid
Their fall was near,—so that with fiendish rage
These swelled: but judgment soon the tempest stayed!
Two of Rome's swoln embruted lineage
Evanished from the view of king, and bard, and sage;
And, for brief season, upon Nero's throne
A tiger sat upright, with robe bedecked,
And glared upon a swine Bonosus' crown
That wore, and held its brutal shape erect
Upon the drunkard's seat. Each did affect
Despotic airs, sceptred and diademmed,
Till, by the lesson did his pride detect
Full many a ghost that there sat crowned and
And some within their essence royalty condemned.
Anon, fell darkness on the mimic brutes;
And then a void was left where each robed beast
Had sat with mock-monarchal attributes;
While, from the roof, huge pendant hands impressed
Deep dread—pointing to either space divest
Of throne and image—that the Spartan's word
Might soon be signally made manifest;
And silence chill, such as in sepulchred
Earth-regions dwells, did long that hall of Thrones
At length, uprose the Gracchus, and with calm
And graceful act, but look that inly glowed
With noblest fervour, laid aside his palm,
While thus, in generous tide his accents flowed:—
"Spirits, that sit mysteriously endowed
With sign of sovereignty, I now conjure
Your essences by these strange judgments bowed,
Say,—if it would Man's general bliss ensure,—
Could ye bemoan your empty splendour's forfeiture?
"What veritable good, in your proud joy
On earth, could ye possess? While hunger keen
Tortured the Poor, did not your banquets cloy?
Could ye, beholding ragged Misery's mien,
Feel really happy in your grandeur's sheen?
While thousands wandered homeless o'er the soil,—
Worn, suffering, fainting, wretched,—did ye lean
On your soft pillows won from Labour's spoil,
And never think with pity on the sufferer's toil?
"It could not be: for ye had human hearts:
Ye knew men were your brethren, and deep thought—
Such as men feel when wounded conscience smarts—
Must oft have stirred within ye, and have smote
Your bosoms with remorse, until it brought
Ye well-nigh to resolve ye would descend
From your afflictive thrones, and bring to nought
That human scourge—your power; all woe-toil end;
And, to lift up mankind your life-long effort lend.
"Ye must have thought—to banish want and sorrow
Would bring the heart more truthful happiness
Than all the gaudy lustre ye could borrow
From the toil-worm, for robe and train and jess,—
From jewelled crown, and gold in its excess:
But ye were held by Fate; her power restrained,
Controlled, benumbed your wills that yearned to bless
Your weeping brethren, and ye thus remained
Agents to work out evil,—and for evil reigned.
"But Evil brings forth Good, as Good, of old,
Evil produced,—so now, when all things shew
The mystery of Existence doth unfold
Some glimpses of its issue; and the True
From out the hollow False doth brightly glow,
And cannot, longer, be from Man concealed,—
So now, Good shall result from Evil: woe
And want shall cease; Man's heart-ache shall be healed;
And, in your fall, the true Elysium be revealed.
"Do ye not joy at this, even now, discerning
What potent sympathies unite old Earth
And Hades?—with what aspirations yearning
Spirits in penal realm are giving birth
To large fraternal thoughts that wander forth
Diffusing faith that all shall gladness prove?
Kings,—brothers,—stifle not the germs of worth
That now within ye spring! With us commove
To usher in the jubilee of Truth and Love!"—
The Agrarian ceased; and with his passionate plea
Enkindled, rose the Attic orator:—
"O kings, can outward state ennoble ye,"—
He said,—"can visionary blazons more
"Exalt ye, than the healing balm to pour
Of gentle goodness on your brother's soul?
Oh, is not goodness truly regal? Frore
With gold and gems, and frowning cold control,—
Is he, indeed, a king,—whose heart's unpitiful?
"Is he not truly an ignoble churl
Who knows no heart-thirst for another's weal?
O kings, how small the sacrifice to hurl
Aside these vanities, if ye could feel
True brotherhood with Man! Earnest appeal
The generous Roman to your nobler thought
Hath made; but still your essences reveal
Returning sternness, and returning doubt
Whether these judgments ruin to your thrones denote.
"Ye cleave to your old state, and still believe
Abandonment of shining sovereignties
Would argue weakness while these emblems weave
Assurance that your destiny defies
Assault from Hades' dim confederacies,
Lapse of duration, or foreboding seer,—
And yet, how know ye, monarchs, that the guise
Of mystery which shrouds this penal sphere
Ye penetrate, and read with comprehension clear?
"Before the Spartan's augury ye spurn,
I challenge ye to answer,—while the hand
Of ever-fashioning Nature ye discern
Mingling, on earth and through this mystic land,
The frightful with the beautiful and grand—
The pleasant with the painful—woe with joy—
Perfection with decay: hath she thus planned
The universal frame for a huge toy,
That she may, endlessly, be building to destroy?
"Can ye at such sage judgment, kings, arrive—
That the vast Soul of all things works in sport
And mockery? Or, is all preparative
Of some great issue, merely? Inexpert
To make a universe that shall consort
Each part with each, so that no blot shall mar
Its pure, consummate beauty, Fraud malvert
Its boon design, or Force diffuse foul jar
Through its blest harmonies—judge ye the High Gods
"Or, rather, have they not in embryo left
The mighty macrocosm, for some great end
Of all-pervasive bliss to be vouchsafed
Hereafter? Powers paternal that extend
Their providence to all, we apprehend
The sovereign gods to be; and ye will seem
Most like them, kings, if ye in pity bend
O'er earth and Hades, yearning to redeem
All being from woe, and render joy and Love
Thus spake Demosthenes, while kindred glow
Of earnest and fraternal love suffused
The visage of Themistocles, and threw
Such glory round, that some the cause espoused
He rose to plead, ere language had aroused
The intellective sense his theme to scan:—
As when, among earth's orators, hath choosed,
From some exterior grace, each partizan
His favourite, ere debate proclaims the nobler man.
"Monarchs, your brotherhood with man I plead,"—
He said:—"knowing no higher theme from whence
"To argue that your essences self-freed
Should be from this false supereminence:
And, if that plea prevail not, eloquence
I lack to charm with guileful words the mind
Which knows no worship for the excellence
Of goodness. Kings, I plead for humankind!
Aid us our race in earth and Hades to unbind!
"It is to noblest, loftiest sacrifice
I call ye: sacrifice of selfish loves
And preferences—to swell the overbliss
Of all Humanity. Think ye, who proves
His truthful greatness thus, where'er he moves,
Shall not reap grateful reverence of more worth
Than all your pomps? 'Thee, brother, it behoves
'Our souls to love!—blest bringer of our mirth!'—
Bliss-throngs beholding him, with smiles, shall
"Thy glance significant, O Pontic chief!
Reminds me that on earth man's gratitude
Is slow of growth, and of existence brief,—
While patriot deeds, by jealousy misviewed,
Oft, for their guerdon, yield unkindly feud.
Great spirit! magnanimity exalts
Man more, far more, than power: who hath subdued
Revenge for injuries, and all the faults
Of brethren with compassion yearns, wins blest
"I dwell not on such thoughts: if I had wrong
From fatherland,—O name that wakest the thrill
Of tenderest love!—wrong's slender sense hath long
Evanished. But, I ask, what wrong, in will,
Or word, or act, kings bear from man? Deep ill
Monarchs have wrought each other; but the race
Of Man hath reverenced the most imbecile
Of regal shapes, nor ever sought to abase
A monarch till he made his realm a charnel-place.
"Nought have ye, then, to pardon; but, to ask
Forgiveness, rather. Yet, to see him lay
His gorgeous gauds aside, and cease to bask
In splendours wrung from woe, would throw a ray
Of glory round a king so bright that they
Who witnessed it would deem him all-divine,
And doubt he ever had borne evil sway.
All earth would honour him: his deed benign
Spirits would magnify, through Hades' dim confine.
"O kings, be truly noble! For the weal
Of All, your high volition exercise,
And burst, through Earth and Hades, the dark seal
Of sympathetic evil that now lies
On being. Come, aid us in the bright emprise,
Begun on earth, nor in these mystic realms
Deserted: for we will antagonize
With Wrong till victory crowns our spiritual helms,
And boundless love and joy the human spirit whelms!"—
The Athenian ended; and the Hebrew king
Raised his colossal form, with tremulous haste
To tell how freely he away would fling
All shows of grandeur, to repair the waste
Of human bliss and see mankind embraced
By boundless love.—
"Kings, Shophets, seers,"—he said,—
"By ordinance Divine in Sheol placed
On thrones and mystic seats, what can bestead
The human soul from garish gauds thus round us spread?
"If on our wills the general bliss depend,
What can withhold that now we abdicate
These royalties,—the reign of Evil end—
The revelry of Wrong? And, wherefore wait
Till some more signal judgment consternate
Our essences? Ye seem unmoved! and I
Doubt deeply whether zeal to emancipate
Tophet and Earth from penal torment's cry,
And suffering's groan, will meet the smile of the Most
"When Samuel, in my sight, to pieces hewed
The royal Agag, whom I longed to save,
I saw that when Jehovah had a feud
With his poor human worm, He would not wave
His claim to justice; but, upon the slave
Who dared to step between His holy wrath
And the doomed victim, He would vengeance have—
Slow,—signal,—sure! The Everlasting's path
Who can find out?—who comprehendeth what He saith?
"His prophet did my humble head anoint,
And said the Lord had chosen me to rule.
Exterminating war God did appoint
On Amalek, next:—His ways are wonderful!
When I besought, at His Divine footstool,
Pardon for weakness, Agag's holy slayer
Said God did not repent like man!—How dull
Are our perceptions! Did He not declare
Me monarch, and repent?—He who refused my prayer?
"All, all is mystery! I desired no throne:—
My father's asses, as I, following, roamed
O'er the wide wilderness,—if on me shone
The cheering sun, or sterile Nature gloomed,—
A kingdom seemed to me. But I was doomed
To know the mockery of earthly bliss!—
And is not Sheol mockery? We are wombed
In dread and doubt, fearing to do amiss;
And, to do well, lack power to burst our destinies!"—
Abruptly, in despair, thus ended Saul,
And on his throne sank down; while smoothly rose
Achitophel, and round the regal hall
Glanced,—then, obsequious, cringed, ere to disclose
His frauds he made essay, or to dispose
Them in the guise of truths:—
And great Regalities,"—he said;—"why lose
"In arguings vain—since mystery being pervades—
The respite to deep pain Nature for ye here spreads?
"Why thus afflict your essences with fears?
Why droop, dispirited, and pale and shrink,
As if the soul were still a thing of tears,
As when it wore earth's clay? What, if some
Or dream, that these imperial pomps shall sink
To nought? where is the doting prophet's proof
Of his true inspiration? Not a link
Is broken that your thrones, with wonder-woof,
Blends with these columned shapes, and this supernal roof.
"Judgment hath fallen on the guilty seats
Of some: what then? On earth stern judgments fell
On the incorrigible: guilt still meets
Its bad desert: this is nought new. Dispel
Your gloom, great kings, that in high thought excel,
Soaring beyond the crowd! Like eagles, preen
Your splendours, and this boding prophet quell
With winged vengeance! Shall ye suffer teen,
Because this dreaming fantast thus doth overween?
"Monarchs are gods, in lustre and in strength:
Thrones were, and are, and shall be: they exist
By an eternal fitness: neither length
Of spiritual duration hath decreased
Their virtue, nor can captious casuist
Allege true reasons for their overthrow.
I challenge anarch revolutionist—
By thoughts of reach, not dreams—sound cause to show
Why Thrones, in Sheol and on earth, to Change shall bow.
"Thou, regal Saul, spakest of thy earthly course.
Know thou, that monarchs by good counsel stand,
And fall by evil rede. Changes, perforce,
Must come: young Comeliness will, aye, comand
More love than Age: valour to wield the brand
More worship than sleek sloth: issue of joy
Awaiteth kingly acts in every land,
Unless the monarch doth his heart upbuoy
By fulsome counsel, and his own fair peace destroy."—
Thus spake the Hebrew courtier-suicide,
And looked for plaudits; but, the Maccabee
Rose up in haste, his glozing strain to chide:—
"This from Rebellion's counsellor do ye
Endure?"—he said;—"the flames of anarchy
Who blew with viperous breath—shall kings advice
Receive from him—the tool of Treachery?
Shall not the part this hoary cockatrice
Played, while on earth, to prove his worthlessness
"Oh, monarchs, nobler, holier counsel take!
Not scornful war to wage on the calm ghost
Of the Laconian, vile revenge to slake;
Not of your gaudy pomps to swell and boast,
Regardless of the souls in Tophet tossed
In agony, and of Earth's myriads born
To pain, and in degrading cares engrossed:
Oh, treat not thus the Spartan's words with scorn;
If, by some deed of yours; mankind may cease to mourn!
"Oh, cleave no longer to these grandeurs vague,
If they the jars and wounds of earth prolong—
Slaughter and famine, pestilence and plague,
Bondage of weaker brethren to the strong,
Envy and hatred, robbery and wrong!
The bards on Judah's mountains, where we drew
The sword against our tyrants, in their song
Foretold Earth, one day, should be born anew,
And smile with brotherhood of all—Gentile and Jew.
"And if, in Sheol, the Danaian's mind
Survey the future with prophetic glance—
Discerning inmost sympathies that bind
Earth's thrones with yours—the deep significance
Perceiving of strange shapes that but enhance
The wildered wonder of inferior souls—
Monarchs, resist not His high puissance
Who universal destiny controls,
And to His chosen ones, the fatal scroll unrols."—
Thus Eleazar spake; and Nicocles,
The Paphian king, essayed, with gentle zeal,
To aid like counsel:—
"That the stronger seize
The weak,"—he said,—"and trampled nations feel
"The conqueror's burthen; that victorious steel
Bereaves the widow and the orphan child
Of earthly hope and joy; that human weal
Is sacrificed to Power, and Man is spoiled
Of every good, by Wrong; proofs Earth, for ages, piled.
"And, while on earth thrones stand, monarchs will vie
With monarchs, in excess of pomp and power;
Slavery and woe conquest will multiply;
And Death, in crescent shapes, mankind devour.
Not before dreaming oracles I cower,
Fearing more pain from ruin; but to purge
Hades from present pain, and speed Earth's hour
Of jubilee, brothers, like suit I urge,
That we in equal state these sceptred splendours merge!"—
"And I," spake Otho, "join the fervid prayer,
"And plead for preference of the general good
To sordid selfishness, and empty glare
Of unsubstantial shows: our brotherhood
With man demands it: while our thrones have stood
Thus mystically radiant, clouds of gloom
Have enwrapt millions, men shed brothers' blood,
And Toil's child found no refuge but the tomb!
Spirits, to quit these pomps, I give my instant doom!"
"Lo! while the Cyprian and the Roman spoke,
Transcendant glories decked their glowing brows,
And joy-beams from the Spartan's countenance broke,
That seemed a peerless light to circumfuse
On thrones and statues. Inly to arouse
His vengefulness, Achitophel essayed;
But utterance failed; and, shuddering with strange throes
Of some new torture that upon him preyed—
A ghastly sight he stood; while kings looked on dismayed.
Distorted grew his visage, limbs, and trunk—
Though spiritual essence—till they joined
His reptile seat; and into it he shrunk
With grin horrific, and, with it combined,
Crawled, prostrate: hybrid monster undefined
In loathsome hideousness: a shape more strange
Than night-mared gourmand's glut-vexed brain e'er
Or madman formed, at full of moon, or change;
Or bard, with frightfullest phrenzies smit, could
Slow waned the uncouth horror-spawn from sight
Of spirits, who, with stark marmorean look—
Such as, at banquet, did the countenance blight
Of Pelops' sire—sat, with soul-palsy strook:
And with such goading sense of self-rebuke
Ached the Cathaian and Assyrian kings,
Nile's queen, and paramour,—they could not brook
To be beheld,—but hid, like guilty things,
Their faces: smitten with remorseful torturings.
Kings' faces, now, with apprehension deep
Were filled, and some, to wailing words gave vent:
When, like a veteran seaman who would keep
Undaunted heart, though sails and cordage rent,
And rudder broken, render impotent
The pilot's strength and skill,—and fear and grief
Burst from young sailors' tongues with eloquent
Expression of despair,—the Pontic chief,
Though shook, thus sought, with speech, to minister
"Spirits, I rise not to renew debate
On human rights, nor arguings to gainsay
Of those who favour new and equal state
In Hades and on earth. Let him who may
Contend 'gainst Nature's impulses that sway
The soul to tender and fraternal thoughts—
If custom did not blight them in our clay,
And taint the spirit's essence. No cold doubts
Have I, that Men, as brothers, share like attributes.
"Nor do I cleave to kingship from regard
To Nature's great distinctions, though she gives
With choice, not blindly: genius of the bard
To one; deep reach unto the sage who dives
Into her mysteries; prerogatives
Of leadership, not less, to some who wield
A natural power o'er men—a strength that lives
And germs within, compelling men to yield
Unto its forceful energy where'er revealed:
"I dwell not to repeat what hath been told—
How Nature thus elects, yet doth impress,
Each human essence with so like a mould,
That all are brothers in their helplessness—
Children of Fate—driving to refugeless
Despair their kind, or being, themselves, forth driven.
Maugre these thoughts, if mankind may possess
General beatitude when thrones are riven
From their foundations—let the judgment now be given!"
Wherefore this pallor, brother Thrones? Why faint
And fear? When we threw off our mortal load
And gained these shores, unlike what earth-dreams paint
Of life beyond the grave, we were endowed,
At torture's lapse, with pomps, in kingly mode,
Ere we could choose. What guilt, then, have we
By wearing these regalities? what rod
Deserved? in what new penalties amerced
Shall spirits writhe? in what new regions be dispersed?
"And wherefore fear, if such, for Nature's sport,
Be destinies that wait us? Let us meet
Them calmly, since we cannot controvert
Our fate. I pause—to see upon his seat,
Neither unsceptred nor discrowned, as yet,
Imperial Otho, and the Cyprian prince.
Wait they the Spartan's sign? Why doth his threat
Tarry in its fulfilment? Monarchs, since
Thrones fade not, wherefore should mere bodements us
"Wise men use omens for their ends, on earth,
While fools and weaklings see, or hear, and quake.
Star-gazers saw a comet, at my birth;
And, at my father's death, I saw it shake
Its fiery hair, as it the world would wake
To see a king. The double omen served
To fix expectant looks on me, and make
My name, itself, a host. That knowledge nerved
My soul to combat Rome: my courage, else, had swerved."
"Not to the fiery star,—but, to kind rule
I trusted to infix my subjects' love;
And, while I left each astrologic fool
To prate of hosts he saw in heaven above,
Asia's vast swarms I sought, on earth, to move
Against all-grasping Rome. Knowledge and Will
Enable men and spirits oft to prove
Superior to all circumstance of ill;
Ay, render them, by Fate itself, invincible.
"Kings, if we quail, we draw destruction down:
Resolve preserves our state. Thrones, I aver,
The energy of will upholds each throne
In Hades, nor can prescient sorcerer
These dazzling seats from their foundations stir,
If we put forth resolve."—
He ceased, disturbed;
And though his words of resolution were,
His strength was weakness. No applause reverbed
Through the wide hall; for, apprehension thought absorbed.
Deep silence reigned, until the Spartan rose,
With godlike dignity, and thus began:—
"Spirits, I triumph to foresee the close
Of Error's reign. Kings hold their last divan.
When next beneath this arch cerulean
We meet, All will be equal! But I cease
To prophesy; and calmly trace the plan
Of Sovereign Nature, since She seeks your peace,
Your joy, Spirits! that henceforth, endless, shall increase.
"Error from human ignorance darkly sprang.
As children misname things, and shout or shriek,
From pleasure or affright, so mankind sang,
In rhapsodies of joy, the golden streak
Of morn; and, when they heard the thunder speak,
Bowed down in awe, and wept. Infants in mind,
They marvelled, and made gods of visage meek
Or terrible; and, then, to them assigned
Rule o'er the sun and cloud, the sky, and sea, and wind.
"Thrones, likewise, sprang from human ignorance:
Nature's rude elements presented war
For Man: rocks, earth-flames, ocean's vast expanse,
Storms, forest, savage beasts, were found to mar
Man's ease or rest: on every side a bar
Opposed itself, alike to further good,
Or present peace. Then, he an exemplar
Was held who overcame by hardihood,
Lion or bear, horrors of cavern, flame, or flood.
"Such were old Earth's primeval monarchs: kings,
Leaders, by courage, holding simple sway—
If sway they held—by useful compassings
Of larger means for nourishing man's clay.
O Mithridates, when I heard thee say
Some were born natural leaders, unto these
I turned—the chiefs of patriarchal day—
Comparing them with lords that Earth now sees:
The puny hildings man approaches on his knees!
"Cities were built, and man subdued the soil.
But, now, Craft grew, and seized on mystery—
Life, death, sun, stars—all that the sons of toil
Saw without comprehending; and, with glee,
Secret but strong; made Man a devotee
Become, credent and humble—reverent land
Rendering unto the Priest as lowlily
As to the gods this minister of fraud
Said he heard speak,—while men him listed, overawed
"Then, between Priest and King grew contest rife
For mastership; and Ganges and old Nile,
Whose sacred servants foremost led the strife,
Beheld the proof, in many a mighty pile
That deckt their marges, how completely Guile
Could triumph over Strength. But, in the end,
Altar and Throne felt it unworth the while
To waste each other,—since they shrewdly kenned
The prey enough for both: so King called Priest—his
"Long, dreary, miserable years have fled,
Since the foul compact first was ratified,
By Priestcraft placing on throned Kingship's head,
With hands in reeking blood of victim dyed,
The gaud of gold—the sign of kingly pride:
Long, dreary, suffering, weeping, wailing years.
Oft have the bruised and trampled sufferers tried
To rise; but the Priest's curse woke inward fears,
And they bowed down again unto their toil with tears!
"Yet, in some climes, the sufferers dared a deed
Of glorious boldness: breaking Kingship's chain,
And,—standing upright, from their fetters freed,—
Sang songs of joy that o'er the purple main
Floated in triumph, till the startling strain
Kings heard in other lands, and called their slaves
To arm, and quell the sacrilegious train.
And, often, when their menials crossed the waves,
They gained, in patriot-land, not conquest—but, their
"But, Treason germed, even in Freedom's womb;
And Power and Craft were born again—the twin
Ubiquities of Evil that still gloom
The bleeding world, and widely o'er it win
Accursed sway. Thus, ever to begin
Anew was Freedom's struggle; and the proud
Duality of Thraldom did but grin
And mock, at length, thinking the strugglers cowed
By loss, and sunk into a helpless, murmuring crowd.
"Hence, out of Evil, Good hath grown: for, now,
Good shall begin to overcome. The strong
Become remiss, the weak to overthrow
Their masters, and redeem themselves from wrong
Safely aspire. Thus, Right its sinews strung
Afresh while Might securely slept, or woke
For dalliance and debauch: thus Right, grown young
And strong, by hardship, will throw off the yoke
Of hoary Might too palsied to withstand the shock.
"Say ye, Right's triumph, like a dream, shall fade,
'Neath swift rewaking vigour of throned Power?
Monarchs, be not deceived! Right, now, hath aid
From Knowledge—hid by priests in secret bower,
And when thence 'scaped, caught, and to dungeon-tower
By them condemned—yea, to the fiery flame!
They knew not of her high immortal dower—
The veritable Phœnix—whom to
Or to destroy, will ever mock old priestly aim!
"Lo! she hath ta'en young Freedom by the hand,
And, in the strength and comeliness of youth,
Supplanting Craft and Power in every land,
And heralding the reign of Love and Truth,
They go! Yet little reek they of the growth
Of Right and Knowledge, who the glorious pair
Regard not: the besotted shapes uncouth
That dream, like age-crampt spiders in their lair,
Their cobweb safe, though 'tis a sport unto the air.
"And ye, in Hades, monarchs, though beholding
Judgments on monstrous vice, are slow to yield.
Meanwhile, on earth, like judgments are unfolding:
For, thus, in mystic sympathy upsealed,
Of mortal men and spirits unannealed
The destinies remain; and, soon—though Might,
Counting her hirelings proudly horsed, and steeled,
The judgments mocks and scorns—a total blight
On Power, and Craft, and lordly Privilege, shall light.
"Kings, by your own great deed; ye can avert
The threatened ruin. Let the glowing themes
Of brotherhood, before ye urged, exhort
Ye to denude your spirits of their dreams
Of selfish good—to cast your diadems
And sceptres down—resolved the grand emprise
To aid of glorious Goodness! I see beams
Of high resolve from forth your essence rise:
Though, still, in some, old Prejudice doth agonize!
"How vain that agony! The strains of truth
And loving earnestness, full souls have poured
Forth to your thought, shall work within ye ruth
For human woe: and, soon, resolve matured
Shall be within ye to make firm accord
With Mercy's gentle champions: for, it hath
Been here proclaimed, that some have long explored
The way to end Man's misery, strife, and wrath,
And bring in Peace,—if, haply they might find the path.
"And, brothers, here we solemnly obtest
The Sovereignties of Nature that the toil
We will not end, till Men and spirits blest
Hold general jubilee!"—
He said;—and, while
He stretched aloft his hand,—from motley pile
And throne, great souls arose, and instant raised
A hand aloft—each with a godlike smile!—
And light empyreal from each Essence blazed,
Until I woke,—with the bright vision soul-bedazed!
NOTES TO BOOK THE SIXTH.
1.—Page 149, Stanza 3.
Ye hireling butchers who now 'give the law its due!'
SIX human beings underwent capital punishment in
front of Stafford Gaol during the two years I remained in it. The
entire procedure in any one instance, of course, I could not witness; on
one occasion, only,—when, on account of the early hour and season of the
year, I had not been removed from my night-cell,—I beheld the grim preface
to the legal butchery. Without repeating testimonies of reflecting
men who have attended executions, as to the hardening effect of those
savage spectacles,—I will just observe that while the sound of the
death-bell for the first execution filled me and my fellow prisoners with
paroxysms of distress,—on the second, third, and fourth occasions, we
became comparatively unconcerned. And, when I was left a solitary
prisoner, the sound of the death-bell for the last time, created a few
bitter thoughts of the abhorrent and uncivilised nature of the impending
tragedy; but a kind of careless disgust followed, from the instant
reflection that all my dislike of the brutal transaction was vain.
And, within ten minutes after the death-bell had ceased, I actually caught
myself humming "The Banks and Braes o' bonny Doon!" Now, a more
sensitive and excitable human creature than myself, perhaps, does not
exist: but there is the honest fact—such as startled me by its
strangeness, at the time:—let the advocates for the usefulness of capital
punishments, as "impressive moral lessons," make what they can of it.
2.-Page 150, Stanza 6.
Avenge!—Ye may not from the whole a part estrange!
Compare Exodus, chap. xxi., verse 24, and Matthew, chap. v.,
verses 38, 39.
3.—Page 154, Stanza 22.
Taught them, they thought, to bow; and 'God' became
The established etymology of the word "God," is that which
derives it from the Saxon adjective signifying good, as I have
given it in the text. But there are scholars who doubt of the
correctness of this derivation. "The chief who conducted the Goths
into Scandinavia appears by his Gothic names Odin. Wodan and Godan,
to have been confounded with the Deity, because his name, like the Persian
Udu, the Gothic Aud, denoted power; . . . .The Bodh, Veda, or Vogd of the
Indians, Tartars, and Russians, the But, Bud, Wud, of the Persians and
idolatrous Arabs, the Qud or Khoda of all the tribes of Turkey throughout
Tartary, the Godami (Gaudama) of the Malays and Ceylonese, appear to be
merely different pronunciations of Wodan, especially as bodh or
boodh in Sanscrit and the common dialects of Hindostan is used for our
Wednesday or Odin's day."—Thomson's "Observations introductory to a work
on English Etymology: John Murray. Albemarle Street, 1818."—See also
Godfrey Higgins's "Anacalypsts."
4.—Page 155, Stanza 25.
between thy creed
And Her must own 'Analogy' confest.—
The ascription of the epithet "modern Stagyrite" to the
mitred author of the celebrated "Analogy" may seem untasteful to the
learned reader; but I could not resist the wish to register my conviction,
in some form, that of all the reasoners for the truth of written
Revelation, Butler is the most potent.
5.—Page 160, Stanza 45.
Bedecked a pole i' th' forum for a show—
Jugurtha's conqueror's son.
The younger Marius.—For affirmation of his suicide see Appian
de Bellis Civilibus, lib. I, c. xciv.
6.—Page 160, Stanza 46.
Should cease, and all the world bow down before the Cross.
Photius.—"A secret remnant of Pagans, who still lurked in the
most refined and most rustic condition of mankind, excited the indignation
of the Christians, who were perhaps unwilling that any strangers should be
witnesses of their intestine quarrels. A bishop was named as the
inquisitor of the faith, and his diligence soon discovered in the court
and city, the magistrates, lawyers, physicians, and sophists, who still
cherished the superstition of the Greeks. They were sternly informed
that they must choose, without delay, between the displeasure of Jupiter
or Justinian, and that their aversion to the gospel could no longer be
disguised under the scandalous mash of indifference or impiety. The
patrician Photius, perhaps alone, was resolved to die like his ancestors:
he enfranchised himself with the stroke of a dagger, and left his tyrant
the poor consolation of exposing with ignominy the lifeless corpse of the
fugitive."—Gibbon, chap. 47.
7.—Page 160, Stanza 47.
With bide besprent, like that gruff Scythian
By Ceres changed;
Lyncus.—Ovid. Metam., lib. 5. v. 660. To Ovid's simple
expression, "Lynca Ceres fecit,"—it is added to the notes of Lemaire's
edition, "Hyginus, fab. 259: Ceres eum convertit in lyncem varii coloris
ut ipse variæ mentis exstiterat."
8.—Page 160, Stanza 47.
and feet of beast that marred
The seer, but halted, by the ass, the corpse to guard.
See I Kings, chap. xiii., verses 24, 25.
9.—Page 160, Stanza 48.
Who hanged himself because the Archite's rede
Was ta'en by rebel Absalom.
"And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of
Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. And
when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass,
and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his
household in order, and hanged himself." 2 Sam. chap.
xvii.—Suicides, it seems, had "method in their madness," even in those
10.—Page 161, Stanza 43.
Sat Eleazar, of the Maccabees' bold breed
Eleazar the Maccabee (I Mac. chap. vi.), who "put himself in
jeopardy, to the end he might deliver his people" by slaying Antiochus
(though he only succeeded in slaying Antiochus' elephant), is usually
classed as a suicide, by writers on that subject.
11.—Page 161, Stanza 49.
And Razis near him sat, on monster beast
See 2nd Maccabees, chap. xiv., vers. 37—46, for an account of
his wild suicide.
12.—Page 161, Stanza 49.
Where the Byzantines were
Sat Arbogast the Frank with savage stare
"Arbogastes, after the loss of a battle [won by Theodosius],
in which he had discharged the duties of a soldier and a general, wandered
several days among the mountains. But when he was convinced that his
cause was desperate, and his escape impracticable, the intrepid barbarian
imitated the example of the ancient Romans, and turned his sword against
his own breast."—Gibbon, chap. xxvii.
13.—Page 162, Stanza 55.
On earth, I toiled
A menial slave by night,
Cleanthes is a noble Greek example of mind triumphing over
difficulties. He was at first a "fisty-cuffer,"—as the old
translators phrase it, in the edition of Diogenes Laertius "made English
by several hands:" 1696;—"but coming to Athens, with no more than four
drachmas in his pocket, and meeting with Zeno, he betook himself most
sedulously to the study of Philosophy, &C." "By night (says Enfield,
who renders Laetius more elegantly) he drew water as a common labourer in
the public gardens, that he might have leisure in the day-time to attend
the schools of philosophy. The Athenian citizens observing that
though he appeared strong and healthy, he had no visible means of
subsistence, summoned him before the court of Areopagus, according to the
custom of the city, to give an account of his manner of living. Upon
this he produced the gardener for whom he drew water, and a woman for whom
he ground meal, as witnesses to prove that he subsisted by the honest
labour of his hands. The judges of the court were so struck with
admiration of this singular example of industry and perseverance, that
they ordered ten minæ to be paid him out
of the public treasury,—which, however, Zeno would not suffer him to
accept. . . . . Cleanthes was for many years so poor that he was obliged
to write the heads of his master's lectures upon shells and bones, for
want of money to buy paper."—The suicide of this philosopher, at a very
advanced age, was singularly quiet and yet heroic. His physicians
recommended fasting for some disease with which he was afflicted; and
having abstained from food for two days, although he had thus subdued his
disorder, he refused to eat again, saying that since he had travelled so
far towards the end of life he would not go back again,—and accordingly
died by voluntary "total abstinence."—The testimonies to the elevated
morality of his life are abundant.
14.—Page 164, Stanza 62.
And, while their mother bore them, darkened earth with storms!
The last lines of this stanza were composed under an
impression that an earthquake or violent tempest signalised the birth of
Nero, Caligula, Domitian, Elagabalus, or some one of the monsters who
presided over the Roman world. Memory, it seems, betrayed me; and I
had no means of correcting my inaccuracy, in prison.—The mistake, however,
does not seem of such importance as to demand that I strike out the lines
of the stanza, or substitute others for them.
15.—Page 177, Stanza 112.
That knowledge nerved
My soul to combat Rome: my courage, else, had swerved.
The comets which appeared at the birth of Mithridates, and at
the period of his ascension to the throne of Pontus, together with their
significance of the future greatness of this remarkable potentate (whom
Cicero terms the greatest that ever reigned) are alike matter of the
gravest history:—"Hujus futuram magnitudinem etiam cælestia
ostenta prædixerant. Nam et quo
genitus est anno, et eo quo regnare primum cæpit,
stella cometes per utrumque tempus septuaginta diebus ita luxit, ut cælum
omne conflagrare videretur;" &c.—Justin. Hist., lib. 37, cap. ii.