LONDON! how imageable seems the strife
Of thy huge crowds amid this solitude!
Instinct with hot, heart-feverous, throbbing life—
Racers for Mammon—day by day renewed—
Quick, motley actors in Mind's interlude—
They flit before me; or again, I walk
Wonder-lost less with splendours unendued
With power of thought than human shapes that stalk
Though thy vast wilderness of ways, and, smiling, talk
With their own wretchedness which hath estranged
Them from their kind, but cannot stifle dreams
That Beggary's rags shall, one day, be exchanged
For Grandeur's robes, and Fortune's favouring beams
Gild their last hours. These, these, amid thy
Of populousness, thy lavish shows of pride,
And pomp, and equipage, were living themes
For healthiest thought that did my folly chide
When I, along thy streets, a gazing 'venturer, hied.
Oh! if the heart doth crave for loneliness,
Deep in thy crowded desart it may find
Its drear wish realised. In Misery's dress—
Their blighted visages to humankind
A pregnant lesson, but their names enshrined,
Perchance, in secresy—how stealthily
Such hermits of the heart glide on behind
The bustling men of gain, or groups of glee
That swell thy blended throngs of thrift and gaiety!
Oft have I followed such a stealthy form,
To mark his whereabout of rest or home,
Until he plunged into some haunt where swarm,
In dingy dens, that shadow forth the gloom
Of hearts within, what the World calls its 'scum'—
Victims of gilded fraud, and titled lust,
And pensioned knavery! Will it e'er come—
The hour when Man shall venture to be just,
And dare to give true names unto his fellow-dust?
Age after age hath gazed the eager throng,—
As, now, I seem, again, to see it gaze,
Heedless of moral worth, or right or wrong,
While haughty Pomp unclosed its newest blaze
Of tear-wrung splendour: and, perchance, to praise
Of garish show, blame for great gold misspent
Path followed, as it follows now: yet, raise
The trump of pageantry,—and ears are lent
By thousands who lisp scorn for Time's old rabblement!
Will they, one day, the clown and artizan,
Strip off these swaddling-bands of gauze—these chains
Of gossamer? This baby-talisman—
Will it much longer charm the child of pains
And sweat, to leave his bread-toil? Oh! there
Of strength in Labour's millions, a young breath
That gaunt Starvation quells not, but sustains!
Where, now, my memory wanders, may its wrath
Ne'er burst!—Monarch, adown thy stately palace-path!
I saw thee on the day thou wast a bride,
And shouted, 'mid my joy-tears, with the crowd:
Thou wert a woman, and thou sattst beside
Thy bosom's choice, while happiness o'erflowed
Thy heart, and in thy fair young countenance glowed.
Beholding thine, what could I less than feel
A sympathetic joy? Ay, though a proud
Worship of England's stern old Commonweal
Was mine,—for thee, that day, I breathed devotion leal.
And many a heart, yielding, that festive day,
To Nature's impulses of hope and joy,
Confiding, blessed thee! Queen! if thou delay
To help thy Poor—if thou, thyself, destroy
The promise of that time, and harsh alloy
Of blame with memory of our joy now blend—
What marvel? Hopes, that do the heart upbuoy,
Turned to despair by sufferings slighted, rend
All gentle feelings in their way to some dire end.
When next thou passest by Whitehall, look up,
I pray thee, and remember who felt there
The fatal axe! Ay,—look!—nor be the dupe
Of tinselled traitors who would thee ensnare
To ease and grandeur, till—thy People's prayer
For justice all too long delayed—they rise
With that old heart the Stuart to despair
Drove, first,—and, then, to vengeance! Hunger
Throughout thy realm—'Queen! from the fearful Past—
I know that tellers of plain truths are 'Goths'
And 'savages' in their esteem who haunt
The halls of royalty—the pageant moths
That flutter in thy beams—the sycophant,
The beau, the coronetted mendicant.
Yet, speak I not from brutal nature; nor
Is thirst for violence fell habitant
Of Labour's children's hearts. Queen! they who
Thy mind with such belief wrong grievously thy
Believe one born amid their daily toils
And sighs,—and, since, observant of the words
And deeds of those who live on Labour's spoils:
Thy Poor, it is—and not their haughty lords—
In whose hearts vibrate gentle Nature's chords
Of tenderness for thee, even while they groan
With deepest wrongs. 'We suffer by the hordes
'Of selfish ones,' they say, 'that hide the throne:
'If she could know our woes, we should not, vainly,
Lady! 'tis thus the hunger-bitten ones
Their simple, lingering trust in thee express:
Let thy heart answer—'mid superb saloons
And soldiered pomp—with truth and faithfulness;
If thou deservest this trust from comfortless
And bread-pinched millions! Wouldst thou read
Thy glory? Seek to be the heritress
Of love deserved—choosing, with noble slight
Of gauds, to make the Poor's heart-smile thy sole
Alas! in vain thus breathes a rebel thrall
Fond wish that, now a thousand years have rolled,
To Alfred's land it might, once more, befall
That sun of human glories to behold—
A monarch scorning blood-stained gauds and gold,
To build the throne in a blest People's love!
It may not be! Custom, soul-numbing, cold,
Her web hath round thee, from thy cradle wove:
Can heart of a born-thrall with pulse of Freedom move?
Deadly, mind-blighting influences begird
Thee daily, hourly: 'tis thy lot. A gaol
Is mine. Thus far, our lot how like!
Of titled, starred, and sworded things, that fail
Not to enclose thee in their watchful pale,
Are but thy chief and under-turnkeys. Thou
By birth, for life,—and I, by force,—this bale
Of bondage prove. Rebel, or Queen, we bow
Alike to circumstance: our mould to it we owe.
Oh! who shall mete due blame to things of earth?
When, passing from that palace, heart-felt ire
Doth rise, viewing a shame on royal birth
Becolumned on that spot of moral mire,—
When burneth momentary, rash desire
To see him and the elder-born there swing
On an eternal gibbet,—if the fire
O' the heart flasheth within, will it not fling
On conscience home reproof, and wholesome chastening?
Hadst thou who glancest on that pillared Shame
Been—like him—next of kin to Infamy
In royal robes, scant-minded, without aim
Cast on the gaudy world that sought with glee
To tempt or gratify his lusts—in thee
Would the poor soldier, or his orphan-child,
Or beggared widow, in their misery,
So oft have found a heart whose glow beguiled
Their tears with bounteous help until the mourners
Alas! from tears this balm of tears was wrung,
Millions on millions toiled and pined and wept
To clothe with Murder's panoply the young—
The thoughtless—who to swift destruction leapt,
Or back to home with maimed bodies crept—
Winners of 'Glory!'—while, to toil and weep
Was still the millions' lot: if Death had swept
Off thousands,—blood-garbed thousands more must leap
Into the breach: War,—Madness,—must their harvest reap!
Dash down? Nay, rear more shameless columns! high
And higher still! Ye are but niggard carles
Who taste the fruit of 'Glory!' To the sky
Lift up ten thousand trophies till it whirls
Our blood to see them, and the foreigner gnarls
His fingers in hot shame! Why do ye spare
A corner 'neath yon mighty dome, for churls
Like Howard, Reynolds, Jones, and Johnson? Tear
The low quaternion down! Why stand their dull forms
'Tis Glory's temple! Glory—whose great brood
Escape the gallows by a broidered coat
And larger knife wherewith to shed the blood
Of brothers! What meek traitor hither brought
Philanthropy and Art, Genius and Thought,
To stain the mausoleum of the great
And grand in murder? Cast the cowards out!
Their effigies do only tribulate
His joy who here beholds what pomps on 'heroes'
Briton! gaze deeply on the marbled crowd—
Forgetting the mean four! Oh! let it swell
Thy veins with ecstasy to view this proud
Array of warriors—some, as if they fell
But now, in Victory's arms, beneath the knell
Of Fate—some, girt with blazonry of brand,
Pike, cannon, war-ship, or brute shape that well
Shows slaughter was their trade! While peal those
Deep diapasons—bow, and reverence Glory's band!
What matter that yon vocal instruments
Join the loud organ's thunder? 'Tis for bread
They chaunt of 'mercy,'—poor subservients!
Bread, that their pampered masters, in whose stead
They do this meaningless day-drudgery, spread
In measure scant for each poor breath-machine:
Shunning the task that irks both heart and head—
To hymn the pitying thorn-crowned Nazarene
Where laurelled Murder holds high pomp with marbled
Dost thou refuse to reverence Carnage vast,
And hie thee back where glooms yon elder fane,
Shrouding the mouldered great ones of the Past,
With all its solemn glories of dyed pane
And carven stone? Ah! Briton, who wouldst fain,
Where sleep thy country's truly glorious few,
In that dim 'corner,' joy in awe—restrain
Thy heart! Fraud must to Force, its twin, be
Mind must be banned, like Childe: they'll welcome
Perchance the Priest forebodes his end is near,
Unless he come less lazily with aid
To stem the torrent in whose strong career
Thrones, altars, maybe whirled! Shall they be
Thought's whelming waves? Can Priestcraft's joint
With Carnage against Mind, arrest its course?—
Oh, 'let them grapple,' as the great one bade,
Falsehood and Truth!'—awhile Fraud linkt with Force
May boast! but Truth shall one day, 'put' them ‘to the
Let priest with warrior, old comates in rule,
Join hands, and tear from vault and niche and shrine,
From pedestal in fane and vestibule,
The Heroes of the Mind! Let them assign
Sole honour to the puissant Butcher line
Throughout wide earth, beneath high heaven: the day
Will come when the triumphing sun shall shine
On earth renewed: not always shall his ray
Gild Murder's monuments: they surely shall decay!
Oh! what wilt thou be, then, my country, 'mong
The nations? Shakspere's home, and Alfred's
Land where our Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, sung—
Where infant Truth decked Wickliffe's warrior-helm—
Where Bacon burst Man's age-worn spirit-film—
Footstool of Newton while he spanned the sky—
Cradle of glorious names that fill and whelm
A Briton's heart with love, and pride, and joy,—
Wilt thou be great and glorious, then—freed from alloy
Of all thy old, mistaken strife to be
Glorious and great? Wilt thou above the wave
Then bear thy generous breast—Nurse of the Free,
Alone-extinct the Tyrant and the Slave—
And filled with Brother-Men; not beings that crave
To see the murderer of one brother hang,
Yet vaunt the 'glory' of each carnage-grave,
From Agincourt to Waterloo; where sang
The trumpet over thousands in their hearts' death-
Will truthful greatness crown thy hoary age,
Or desart-savagery its reign resume
Wide over thee, and to the bard or sage
Of far-off clime, new-born from mental gloom
Hereafter, even Shakspere's name become
A worn-out glory, or, like Orpheus' lyre,
Fade into fable? On thy future doom
Thy children, England, ponder with desire;
Though vainly buried millions burned with kindred
Another day is gone!—yet must the sun
Bring other flowers than these cold things of Spring—
Poor, puny prisoners, that, to look upon
Raise tears—ere Time to me shall hither bring
The hour of Freedom. How we still do cling
Unto the world, as if we yet might find
Therein substantial joy!—
Fancy took wing,
Again in sleep; and, in the realms assigned
To suicidal souls, wandered the sleepless Mind.
Methought I passed adown the sculptured aisle,
With a new band of ghostly travellers
Whose visages were clad with smirk and smile,
Although they looked as if earth's sepulchers
Had newly cast them out: mirthsome compeers
In grave-clothes, on they tripped, with glee more grim
Than if a troop of monks or caloyers,
Smit with some sudden madness or wild whim,
Were seen to laugh and dance unto a funeral hymn.
And when they reached the dome-like space,
In circle the strange crew took hands, and round
They whirled, with laughter and delirious shout,
Until the vault 'neath which I heard no sound
Before—gave back such mirth as did astound
These revellers in shrouds; whereat they wailed
And wildly wept, and, each, the deathly wound
By his own hand inflicted, swift, unveiled,
And fiercely on himself for mad self-murderer railed!
A silent sorrow, then, their essence clothed,
And slowly from beneath the dome they passed,
With eyes that told how utterly they loathed
Prolonged existence, and how fain would cast
Its bondage off, with their old guilty haste,
In spite of self-upbraidings, if the soul
Were brittle as earth's clay. Upon a waste
The wanderers now emerged, and sought some goal
Where, with life-wantons like themselves, they might
Laurels of conquerors, chaplets of vain bards,
Bracelets of beauties, diadems of kings,
Lay shivered on the waste with porcelain shards,
And fractured counterfeits of jewelled rings,
And robes in rags: of all Earth's gaudy things
Some image there lay mangled, marred, or rent;
And as they trod upon these symbolings
Of their past pride, on mortal life misspent
The travellers thought, and sighed, with grievous
A strand they reached, with waters sluggish, shallow,
And strown with weed-grown walls where human mopes
Reclined, while others idly 'gan to wallow
In the dull wave: a realm of misanthropes
It seemed, for none his neighbour told what hopes
Or fears he had, or doubts or wishes: all
Lugubrious silence kept, and drooped, as droops
The brooding thing who doth his soul enthral
With hates, till he thinks all men's veins, like his, hold
Part of the dreary band with which I marched
Clomb these dank walls, fording the shallow stream,
And lay them vilely down; a remnant searched
Along the beach for spot that they might deem
More meet for resting-place: these, in my dream,
I companied, until a bay they neared,
From whence, discerned by an unearthly gleam
Of lurid light, huge, half-sunk towers appeared,—
And pinnacles their points from out the waters reared.
And here, methought, we halted, by a groupe
Of ghosts that sat upon a ledge of rock
Listlessly watching the gray ruins stoop
Unto their fall among the waves that broke
With leaden weight against their sides. None
A welcome, or unto our stay gave heed,
But gazed still drowsily on. Within me woke
Desire to know them; but, the soul, though freed
From clay, on this dull shore seemed outward lore to
Here, spirit shared no powers intuitive:
So gross it grew, that for old mortal sense
The mind longed, painfully, when it would give
Unto its neighbour mind some evidence
That it still held its being: will, vehemence,
Fire, energy, the soul no longer felt:
Cold, carking consciousness of indigence
Of thought—from waste with which it had misdealt
Its goodly gifts on earth—within the spirit dwelt.
One of the listless groupe, at length, began
To murmur sounds—for spirit was too weak,
In this low realm, to beam forth thought, or scan
The thoughts of others if they did not speak.
And then another murmured, till apeak
Each raised himself to listen; I, to learn
Who spoke; when three, I saw by their antique
Eagle-beaked faces, were of Rome the Eterne—
Two of gay France—two of my fatherland more stern.
And by observance of a dull dispute
That rose from murmurs to less slumberous words,
I found out Nero's lewdly dissolute
Comate, Sophonius, who, when Galba's guards
Sought for his guilty life, forestalled their swords.
Here leant he, by the Tyrant's 'Arbiter
'Of Elegancies'—whom the Muse records
For polished verse—Ill Fame for panderer
To Rome's imperial beast of lust and massacre. 
That proverb with them state—the epicure
Of epicures—he who through fear of want
Destroyed the carcase he could not manure
Sufficiently with garbage, from the scant
Tenth of a million, which this cormorant
From gormandizing spared. 
Leant, by Apicius, the hair-brained Mordaunt,
England's fine foot, all Europe's courtly guest,
Who paid his debts—then blew his brains out for a jest.
Lumley was there, a 'noble lord,' in life, 
Who his kept mistress to distraction loved,
Yet, having pledged his troth to take for wife
A lady chaste his thoughtful choice approved,
Grew crazy with dilemma, till it moved
His hand to solve the puzzle which his mind,
Too delicately sensitive, behoved
To solve. He seemed a lord of extinct kind.
Certes, lords now no puzzle in such troth-pledge find!
Vatel, who cut his throat to shun the stain
Of not being able sumptuously to store
The supper-table for his guests; 
Villeneuve, Napoleon's admiral, who bore
Disgrace so oddly that he flew to lore
Of stern anatomy with aim to know—
What he both learnt and practised—how the core
Of life a pin may pierce, with one quick throe;
Two spirits truly French made up the groupe I saw.
Nero's two courtiers soon their contest ended;
Apicius spoke not; and the mopes of France,
With Lumley, on the rocks their shadows bended,
As if o'ercome by that clime's heritance
Of dullness, or because all esperance,
They thought, was fled, for them, of happy change:
But soon, Mordaunt upwaking from his trance,
Gave utterance to his piebald musings strange:
And thus did he his motley images arrange:—
"Petronius, though our mystic lot be placed
In this dull realm where sight and sound combine
Our sensories, for aye, to overcast
With brooding phantasies, and saturnine
Despairs; or, else, as with an anodyne
Of thought, to lull us into listlessness;
Let us, again, essay to intertwine
Some shreds of brightness with the sombre dress
Our spirits wear in this drear land, so effortless.
"Tell us some jest of old careering Rome,
With its monstrosities of apish men,
Who ever seemed desirous to become
Something that was not human. What a den
Of horror must thy prince have made it, when
He lit it up to see a merry blaze!
And yet, 'twas but a change: from outward ken
Shut up, horrors as deep, in the foul ways
O' the heart, were witnessed daily by man's inner gaze.
"What Europe's modern folds of rogues and fools
Display, thy olden city must have shown;
Strife murderous as the sword—but waged with tools
Of deadlier kind: tongues venomed to impugn
All humble virtues, oiled to gloss o'ergrown
And hideous vice, and help it to pursue
Its course of lust and blood. Thy prince hath won
A name will never die: the lot of few
Who humbly toil for good, and selfish wrong eschew.
"Such weaklings win but scorn; and so 'twas shrewd
In thy magnifical incendiary
To use a masterstroke should teach the brood
Of puny things to come what 'twas to be
Acute in wit; for no dexterity
Of after-men can now the name destroy
Of fiddling, murdering Nero—"
"Cease thy glee!"
Returned the Roman,—"or thy tongue employ
"On themes that will thy hapless fellows less annoy.
"The prince thou slanderest had a noble soul,
Although eccentric: hireling scribes defamed
Him, or the world would his great deeds extol,
Not censure. Man's advance he always aimed
To hasten: wisdom, art, song, music claimed
Him ever as their blandest, truest friend;
And in the deed thou hast so lightly named,
His purposes were princely: a quick end
He put to ugliness that did with beauty blend:
"Filth-nests with palaces, that erst distilled
Their feculent odours on the air, and spread
Nausea and death. Thou shouldst have seen Rome
With homes of stateliness and grace, instead
Of mere mud-huts of squalor: 'twould have bred
In thee much admiration—" 
"And the roast,"—
Resumed Mordaunt,—"was trifling: to the dead
"Those who were burnt Decay would soon have tossed,—
And Death, doubtless, preferred the speedier holocaust.
"Filth-nests! why, ay; and the mere wingless fowls—
I'd term them such, did the old Cynic sneer,
As in wise Plato's face, —the
Were of no worth. Besides, how vain it were
Of the birds' filthy nests fair Rome to clear,
And yet to leave the filth-birds! Thus, brave War
Is the world's health's effectual pioneer,
As well as burning: Earth, it doth not mar,
But mend—to bruise it, now and then, with Slaughter's car.”—
"Spite of thy jeers,"—Villeueuve, inclined to wrath,
Took up the strife, and said,—"War hath its use
"As well as honours: harvest and aftermath
Are rendered plenteous by the tide diffuse
Of blood: the vulture's leavings do conduce,
As well, to fertilize the barren earth,
Which might, but for the timely stream let loose
On it, become one general mass of dearth,
Nor yield another grain for things of human birth.
"Thus doth the carnage of the field assist
Great Providence. Nay, more: the lord of fight
Is Nature's mightiest, best phlebotomist:
'Tis well that the fell falchion doth alight
On thousands, and more slaughterous nitre blight
Myriads of crawling things. What would the world
Grow, but a putrid swarm, in the vast flight
Of years, if oft the warrior's flag unfurled
The sun saw not, nor smiled on crowds to swift death
"And, if Earth's youth the sword did not thus sweep
Away by thousands, in what woe and want,
What scorn and rags, would many of them creep
To helpless age! But, next, the combatant
Regard with Glory fired—"
"Mar not thy theme; for thou hast pictured well
The truest commendations War can vaunt:
Slide not to farce: thou never wilt excel
The argument; though tragic, we have heard thee tell.
"Such were the shameless reasonings of the Strong
For murdering the Weak, I heard in life:
And yet these very reasoners pale at wrong
Wrought by the lone assassin with the knife:
These very men whose arguments are rife
Of aiding mystic Providence, by huge
Assassination! That such hateful strife
Of inconsistency we fled, I grudge
Not, though it be for aye in this dull zone to lodge."--
"And I judge otherwise,"—with lazy speech
The suicidal glutton 'gan to break
His moody silence: "could I old Earth reach
"Again, at will, I quickly would forsake
This clime that fits perception so opaque
As thine. Why wonder at aught strange or mad
They do or say on Earth? Do they not make
A thing for worship that they say doth add
To being but to slay what He with life hath clad?
"And justify they not His deathful laws
By the same logic we have heard but now?
'All things hath framed this great uncaused Cause,'
They say, 'to prey upon each other, through
'His blest design to save them from the slow
And lingering death of helpless age: and thus,'
Say they, 'when men the universe of woe
'And murder view, and shudder,—vision gross
Leads them to term its kindly beauty—hideous.'
"If such their model of perfection be,
How canst thou wonder, if, with kindliness
Like His to whom in awe they bow the knee,
Their human slaughter-shapes they drape and dress?
Mordaunt,—I ever laughed at answerless
Priest-riddles, and unto the joys of sense
And appetite betook me; and possess
Them now I would, if this new residence
Of being, and its laws, compelled not abstinence."
"And as thou think'st, Apicius, so think I,"—
Said dull Tigellinus;—"sense, and its joy.
"But nought beside on earth, are worth a sigh:
They rendered Life worth having, though alloy
Was mingled with it: he who was least coy
Of these true pleasures, was, in my esteem,
The wisest man: ay, he who from a boy
Led life of revel,—filling up his dream
With merriment—daring the rapids of Life's stream.
"So judged I that our prince lived by the rule
Of truest wisdom: could I once more share
His favour and his joys, I would not pule
At the world's contradictions, like this rare
Sample of folly, who with haste so yare
Fled hither from wealth's, pleasure's lavishment,
In quest of dark remediless despair.
Rome knew not such a lunatic: content
We were to live,—'less ill with good was overblent."—
"Ye may bepraise yourselves,"—Mordaunt replied;
"But I regard ye as twin swine—to nought
More noble are ye kin: not things of pride
But filthiest greed ye be; and Earth o'erfraught
With such as ye becomes the irksome spot
It is, and hath been. Nature doth contain
No greater mystery than that she with thought
Such grovelling clay endows; the mystic chain
Of mire with mind ye link: your life else is but vain."—
"Is not our life—all life—as vain as theirs?"
Asked Lumley,—while the Romans sank supine
And slumbrous, on the rock:—"we were the heirs
"Of Vanity on earth; and this confine
Of wretchedness affords no cheering sign
That we shall e'er attain a nobler state—
Although some fable it who still entwine
Earth's credulous dreams with doubt, and consolate
This miserable life with emulous debate."-
"And what, if such debate high truths evolve
We wot not of?"—earnestly asked Vatel:
"My mind doth much misgive 'twas rash resolve,
When ghost-kings messaged us, that did impel
Our souls to scoff. If we have bid farewell
To esperance ourselves"-
"Nurse no regret
"So infantile,"—said Lumley:—"wisely quell
"Its yearnings: ne'er can dreams in me beget
A ray of hope that we shall 'scape from Torture's net.
"It is a universe designed for sorrow—
Designed if it be; and if it rose by chance,
'Tis still as vile. I wish a vast death thorough
All life would penetrate, until expanse
Of space were filled with discontinuance
Of thought, sense, motion. Worthless are they
Serving no end but pain—the heritance
Of all things: pleasure doth but serve to pall:
'Tis but a sweet to render bitterer Life's gall.
"Tell us Annihilation shall imbibe
All life, and I thy prophecy will name
Worthy rehearsal and regard: but gibe
No dreams of some fantastic afterdrame
Of blessedness for men and spirits: maim
Their wits must be who doatingly desire
For boon what we ought rather to disclaim
And shun, judging from Past and Present: ire,
Not joy, I feel, when told I shall new bliss acquire."—
"Would that on earth physician for the mind
Like to thyself I had discovered,"—said
Vatel:—"thy morbid discontent and blind
"Distortion even of joy, benignly spread
With grief through Nature, into woe as dread
As evil's self—creates so deep distaste
By its untruth, that thou in me hast bred
More reverence for the good in life amassed,
Than if thou wert Nature's devout encomiast.
"Spirits,—within me hath awoke new hope,
New faith! Even here we are not wholly lost:
It is because in sluggard thought we mope
And drivel, that we deem this mystic coast
Our perdurable prison. Swiftly trust
Shall rise to break our bondage, when no more
We palter with ourselves, but with robust
Resolve probe our life-errors to the core:
Until, not Fate, but our own folly we abhor.
"Soon shall we then discover why we made
Shipwreck of mortal life, and why we here,
By turns, sink in low sloth, fiercely upbraid
Nature herself, or agonise with Fear
And Pain; and soon deliverance will appear:
For Mind was formed all Evil to subdue
By its own might"—
"Old earth-dreams!"—with a sneer,
Villeneuve exclaimed; "and let Earth still pursue
"Her dreams: but, do not here the sickening theme
"But who approacheth by the gloomy strand,
With step of haste bounding o'er rock and level?
Strange haste, in this supine, lethargic land!
'Tis he who did on earth so deeply revel
In his dark theme of 'Suicide no Evil,'—
And, when the page was finished, finished life—
Robert of Normandy, yclept the Devil.—
Thy visage is a herald of new strife—
Wild spirit! Speak the thoughts with which thy soul
Already by the group, Le Diable
Stood, with a look that seemed to reprehend
Those sojourners in gloom—all, save Vatel,—
Whose eyes of new-born hope a light I kenned,
Of mystic sympathy and joy to send
Forth as a greeting to the Norman's eyes.
And thus the Norman spake:-
"The invitation from the Good and Wise,
That now I bring: attend, and from your sloth arise!
"Brothers, although their primal call ye slighted,
Sages and bards and princely spirits yearn
To kindle in your essences benighted
The fire of faith with which they inly burn.
And, thus, by one who erst, ye know, with scorn
Beheld life's gift, message they have renewed,—
That ye may cease, when his soul's hope ye learn,
And ken the faith with which he is imbued,
To think they mock ye with a feigned solicitude.
"It is no dream: Hades and Earth are waking
To consciousness of Mind's omnipotence.
Not less unwise than guilty in forsaking
Old Earth we were; for we with affluence
Of might to subdue Evil's power prepense
Were gifted: even the weakest might have won
Some victory helpful to the prevalence
Of Mind o'er Evil. But, it is begun—
The lofty strife—and conquest shall be gained, full
"I tell ye that on earth all natural ill
Begins to yield to Science: Pestilence flees
Her climes; and men shall soon begin to fill
The expansive measure of their days. The seas
Already own the power of Mind: with ease
Men vault above the wave, fearing no rage
Of giant storms. On land, the very breeze
That vital is, they hold in vassalage,
And yoke, by viewless chains, unto the thought-winged
"Mind glows and fulmines even in the clown;
And men from yoke conventional and old
Shake themselves free: the crosier and the crown,
The sword and gun, all men begin to hold
For useless and pernicious things, and bold
The very peasants grow to laugh aloud
At swollen names of gew-gaw shapes in gold.
Think ye that changes such as these uncloud
No change for Hades, and her kings and pomp-thrones
"I tell ye Change hath come: judgment condign
Hath fallen on the essences of kings
Who raged to hear deep sage and bard divine
Tell, in prophetic strain, pomp-glisterings
Should pass away, and spirit homagings
Be paid to Mind and Goodness. Where the bow
Of promise skieth mystic symbolings
Of monarch-splendour, forfeiture I saw
Of thrones, which congregated ghost-kings shook with
"Arise, arise, my brothers! we were wrong
To quit Earth's life in craven discontent
At Evil; and ignoble to prolong
Our murmuring here it is. Evil was blent
With Good through Nature; but the Blender meant
To ennoble human thought by healthful toil
That should have issue in magnificent
And universal triumph. Brothers, foil
The lethargy that doth your might-girt spirits spoil!
"Come, listen the inspiring theme of Good
And Right, and how doth dawn their jubilee!
Spirits, the universe one brotherhood
Of Knowledge, Truth, and Love, full soon shall be!
I say, arise!"—
"Hence, with thy ribaldry!"
Apicius fiercely answered: "of such fare
"I covet not the taste. Hence, devotee
Of dreams! To mock our abjectness forbear!
Hence! let us slumber on to deaden our despair!"—
Thus spake his swinish spirit; nor arose
His shade from its recumbency to greet
The earnest messenger. In deeper doze
Sophonius lay, as if he would maltreat
The Norman with contempt. The rest with meet
Attention heard; and, with a countless host
The descant drew around, in haste more fleet
Than they had used for ages on that coast,
Expressed, as with one voice, their new-born hope and
"Then, to our brother exiles let us speed!"—
The Norman said;—"But what shall be your fate—
Victims of sensual gust? Is it decreed
That Essences like yours in afterstate
Of absolute brutality prostrate
Shall lie for ever? Oh! that one bright ray
From Nature's central fire would ye create
Anew, with souls more human!—
Faded my dream, as light renewed the prison-day.
NOTES TO BOOK THE SEVENTH.
1.—Page 192, Stanza 23.
Oh, 'let them grapple,' as the great one bade,
"AND, though all the winds of doctrine were let
loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously,
by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and
Falsehood grapple; whoever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open
2.—Page 196, Stanza 38.
Sought for his guilty life, forestalled their swords.
The portrait of Sophonius Tigellinus,—who was distinguished
in Nero's court alike for dissoluteness and treachery, and who, at last,
betrayed even the imperial libertine himself,—is well known to all readers
of Juvenal; and Tacitus has left us a medallion picture (Hist. lib. i.,
cap. 72) truly characteristic of his portable and expressive mintage.
3.—Page 196, Stanza 38.
Ill Fame for panderer
To Rome's imperial beast of lust and massacre.
The circumstances of Petronius Arbiter's singular suicide are
described in the 19th chapter of the 16th book of Tacitus's Annals.
4.—Page 196, Stanza 39.
which this cormorant,
From gormandizing spared.
"Millies sestertiûm," or
£807, 290., is stated to have been the worth of the estate of Apicius; and
when he had hanged himself in the diseased belief that he had not enough
left for a maintenance, "centies sestertiûm,"
or £80,000., was found to be the remnant of his fortune.—In the stanza I
have used the rhymer's license to employ round numbers.
If these notes were intended for comment in lieu of necessary
explication, I could not pass by the name Apicius without observing that
the bearer of it fairly won his pre-eminence over all gormandisers ancient
or modern, not merely by the vast sums spent on his appetite and by his
self-martyrdom to the lunatic dread of want.—but by his composition of the
treatise "de Arte Coquinaria,"—wherefrom, perhaps, even Eude himself might
derive some hints for exciting dishes: though from Smollett's well-known
satirical expose of the delicacies of Roman cookery, modern epicures may
imagine there can be nothing very enticing in the treatise on Cookery by
5, 6.—Pages 196-7, Stanzas 39 and 40.
England's fine fool, all Europe's courtly guest,
Lumley was there, a 'noble lord,' in life,
The general reader may find notices of the suicides of
Mordaunt, cousin to the great earl of Peterborough, and of Lumley, earl of
Scarborough, in various publications: the article "Suicide" contained in a
translation of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, that I read when
young, first made me acquainted with their whimsical cases.
7.—Page 197, Stanza 41.
Vatel, who cut his throat to shun lite slain
Of not being able sumptuously to store
The supper-table for his guests;
See Mad. de Sévigné's
Letters for an account of this suicide. The English reader will find
it in Letter 52 of the translation, published in 7 duodecimo vols.,
London, 1801. The account is too long to copy into a note; but
should be read.
8.—Page 197, Stanza 41.
how the core
Of life a pin may pierce, with one quick throe;
Seeing that one account of his death is as mysterious as
another (see "Biographie Universelle," Vol. 49), it may be, after all,
that O'Meara's account of it, as given by Napoleon, is as true as any
other.—"The conversation then turned upon French naval officers. 'Villeneuve'—said
he,—'when taken prisoner and brought to England, was so much grieved at
his defeat, that he studied anatomy that he might destroy himself.
For this purpose he bought some anatomical plates of the heart, and
compared them with his own body, in order to ascertain the exact situation
of that organ. On his arrival in France, I ordered that he should
remain at Rennes, and not proceed to Paris. Villeneuve, afraid of
being tried by a court martial for disobedience of orders and consequently
losing the fleet, for I had ordered him not to sail, or to engage the
English, determined to destroy himself, and accordingly took his plates of
the heart and compared them with his breast. Exactly in the centre
of the plate, he made a mark with a large pin, then fixed the pin as near
as he could judge in the same spot in his own breast, shoved it in to the
head, penetrated his heart, and expired. When the room was opened,
he was found dead; the pin in his breast, and the mark in the plate
corresponding with the wound in his breast. He need not have done
it,'—continued he,—'as he was a brave man, though he possessed no
talent."—Barry O'Meara's "Voice from St. Helena," vol. i., page 57.
9.—Page 199, Stanza 43.
'twould have bred
In thee much admiration
My Ghost of Petronius Arbiter does not argue half so
earnestly in defence of Nero, as Mr. Walter Savage Landor.—See his
10.—Page 199, Stanza 49.
As in wise Plato's face,—the dirty thralls
The practical joke of Diogenes upon Plato's definition of a
Man. will be remembered by almost every reader. ["Not so," say several of
my friends. Here, then, is the whimsical anecdote which was in my memory:
"Plato defining Man a two footed animal without wings, and this
definition being approved; Diogenes took a cock, and plucking off all its
feathers, turned it into Plato's school, saying, This is Plato's Man:
whereupon, to the definition was added, having broad nails."—Stanley's
Hist. of Philiospohy.]