Skip to main content

Full text of "The poetical works of Percy Bysshe Shelley"

See other formats




OF THE 

U N I VLRS ITY 
or ILLINOIS 

821 

Sb4 

1853 

v.S 




Return this book on or before the 
Latest Date stamped below. 










THE 


POETICAL WORKS 

OF 


PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2016 


♦ 


https://archive.org/details/poeticalworksofp02shel 


THE 


POETICAL WOKKS 

OF 


PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY. 


EDITED 

BY MRS. SHELLEY. 


Lui non trov’io, ma suoi santi vestigi 

Tutti rivolti alia superna strada 

Veggio, lunge da’ laghi averni e stigi.— P etrakca. 


IN THREE VOLUMES. 

VOL. II. 


LONDON : 

EDWARD MOXON, DOVER STREET. 
1853. 


LONDON; 

BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS. 


5hH 

m3 


CONTENTS. 

THE CENCI ; A TRAGEDY, IN FIVE ACTS , . . . 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR ....... 

HELLAS ; A LYRICAL DRAMA 

NOTES 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR . 

CEDIPUS TYRANNUS ; OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. A TRAGEDY, 
IN TWO ACTS 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR 

EARLY POEMS — 

A SUMMER-EVENING CHURCH-YARD, LECHDALE, GLOUCES- 
TERSHIRE 

MUTABILITY 

ON DEATH 


TO WORDSWORTH 

STANZAS. APRIL, 1814 . 

LINES 


PAGE 

1 

115 

123 

169 

173 

177 

213 

215 

216 

217 

218 

219 

220 

221 


VI 


CO^'TENTS. 


EARLY POEMS — 

F&GE 

FEELINGS OF A REPUBLICAN ON THE FALL OF BONAPARTE . 222 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR 223 

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1816 

THE SUNSET 225 

HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY 227 

MONT BLANC. LINES WRITTEN IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUNI 230 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR 235 

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1817 

PRINCE ATHANASE. — A FRAGMENT. PART I. . . . 237 

FRAGMENTS OF PRINCE ATHANASE. PART II. . . . 242 

FRAGMENT 1 242 

FRAGMENT II. 244 

FRAGMENT III 246 

FRAGMENT IV. 248 

Marianne’s dream 249 

TO CONSTANTIA SINGING 254 

TO CONSTANTIA 255 

DEATH 256 

SONNET. — OZYMANDIAS ....... 257 

ON F. G 257 

LINES TO A CRITIC 258 

LINES 259 


NOTE BY THE EDITOR 


260 


CONTENTS. 

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1818 — 

ROSALIND AND HELEN 

LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS . 
JULIAN AND MADDALO. — A CONVERSATION 
THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE 

MISERY. — A FRAGMENT 

TO MARY 

PASSAGE OF THE APENNINES 

ON A FADED VIOLET 

STANZAS, WRITTEN IN DEJECTION, NEAR NAPLES 

SONG FOR TASSO 

THE PAST 

MAZENGHI . 

SONNET 

NOTE BY THE EDITOR .... 

POEMS WRITTEN IN 1819 — 

THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY 

PETER BELL THE THIRD 

PART I. DEATH 

PART II. THE DEVIL .... 

PART III. HELL 

PART IV. SIN . .- . 

PART V. GRACE 

PART VI. DAMNATION .... 

PART VII. DOUBLE DAMNATION 


Vll 

PAGE 

267 

307 

319 

341 

344 

346 

347 

347 

348 

349 

350 

351 

353 

354 

359 

375 

381 

384 

386 

391 

395 

398 

405 


Vlll 


CONTENTS, 


POEMS WRITTEN IN 1819 

PAGE 

LINES WRITTEN DURING THE CASTLEREAGH ADMINISTRA- 
TION 410 

SONG TO THE MEN OF ENGLAND 411 

ENGLAND IN 1819 412 

SIMILES. FOR TWO POLITICAL CHARACTERS OF 1819 . 413 

AN ODE, TO THE ASSERTORS OF LIBERTY . . .414 

ODE TO HEAVEN 415 

ODE TO THE WEST WIND 417 

AN EXHORTATION 420 

ON THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI, IN THE FLO- 
RENTINE GALLERY 421 

TO WILLIAM SHELLEY 423 


NOTE BY THE EDITOR 


424 


THE CENCI 


^ ^ragelip. 


IN FIVE ACTS, 




• r- 



DEDICATION. 


TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQ. 

My dear Friend, 

I INSCRIBE with your name, from a distant country, 
and after an absence whose months have seemed years, this the 
latest of my literary efforts. 

Those writings which I have hitherto published, have been 
little else than visions which impersonate my own apprehensions 
of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in them the 
literary defects incidental to youth and impatience ; they are 
dreams of what ought to be, or may be. The drama which I 
now present to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous 
attitude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with such 
colours as my own heart furnishes, that which has been. 

Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself 
with all that it becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this 
work the ornament of his name. One more gentle, honourable, 
innocent and brave ; one of more exalted toleration for all who 
do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil ; one 
who knows better how to receive, and how to confer a benefit. 


4 


THE CENCI. 


though he must ever confer far more than he can receive ; 
one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of purer life 
and manners, I never knew ; and I had already been fortunate in 
friendships when your name was added to the list. 

In that patient and irreconcilable enmity with domestic and 
political tyranny and imposture which the tenor of your life has 
illustrated, and which, had I health and talents, should illustrate 
mine, let us, comforting each other in our task, live and die. 

All happiness attend you ! 

Your affectionate friend, 

Percy B. Shelley. 


Rome, May 29, 1819. 


PREFACE. 


A MANUSCRIPT was communicated to me during my travels in 
Italy, which was copied from the archives of the Cenci Palace at 
Rome, and contains a detailed account of the horrors which ended 
in the extinction of one of the noblest and richest families of that 
city, during the pontificate of Clement VIII., in the year 1599. 
The story is, that an old man, having spent his life in debauchery 
and wickedness, conceived at length an implacable hatred towards 
his children ; which showed itself towards one daughter under 
the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by every circum- 
stance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long and 
vain attempts to escape from what she considered a perpetual 
contamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her 
mother-in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The 
young maiden, who was urged to this tremendous deed by an 
impulse which overpowered its horror, was evidently a most gentle 
and amiable being ; a creature formed to adorn and be admired, 
and thus violently thwarted from her nature by the necessity of 
circumstances and opinion. The deed was quickly discovered, 
and in spite of the most earnest prayers made to the Pope by the 
highest persons in Rome, the criminals were put to death. The 
old man had, during his life, repeatedly bought his pardon from 
the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable 
kind, at the price of a hundred thousand crowns ; the death there- 
fore of his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of 
justice. The Pope, among other motives for severity, probably 


6 


THE CENCI. 


felt that whoever killed the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of 
a certain and copious source of revenue *. Such a story, if told 
so as to present to the reader all the feelings of those who once 
acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences and misgivings, 
their various interests, passions, and opinions, acting upon and 
with each other, yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, would 
be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret 
caverns of the human heart. 

On my arrival at Rome, I found that the story of the Cenci 
was a subject not to be mentioned in Italian society without 
awakening a deep and breathless interest ; and that the feelings 
of the company never failed to incline to a romantic pity for 
the wrongs, and a passionate exculpation of the horrible deed 
to which they urged her, who has been mingled two centuries 
with the common dust. All ranks of people knew the outlines of 
this history, and participated in the overwhelming interest which 
it seems to have the magic of exciting in the human heart. I had 
a copy of Guido’s picture of Beatrice, which is preserved in the 
Colonna Palace, and my servant instantly recognized it as the 
portrait of La Cenci, 

This national and universal interest which the story produces 
and has produced for two centuries, and among all ranks of 
people in a great city, where the imagination is kept for ever 
active and awake, first suggested to me the conception of its 
fitness for a dramatic purpose. In fact, it is a tragedy which has 
already received, from its capacity of awakening and sustaining 
the sympathy of men, approbation and success. Nothing re- 
mained, as I imagined, but to clothe it to the apprehensions of my 
countrymen in such language and action as would bring it home 
to their hearts. The deepest and the sublimest tragic compositions. 
King Lear, and the two plays in which the tale of CEdipus is told, 
were stories which already existed in tradition, as matters of 


* The Papal Government formerly took the most extraordinary pre- 
cautions against the publicity of facts which offer so tragical a demonstration 
of its own wickedness and weakness ; so that the communication of the MS. 
had become, until very lately, a matter of some difficulty. 


THE CENCI. 


7 


popular belief and interest, before Shakspeare and Sophocles made 
them familiar, to the sympathy of all succeeding generations of 
mankind. 

This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently fearful and 
monstrous : anything like a dry exhibition of it on the stage 
would be insupportable. The person who Vv^ould treat such a 
subject must increase the ideal, and diminish the actual horror of 
the events, so that the pleasure which arises from the poetry 
which exists in these tempestuous sufferings and crimes, may 
mitigate the pain of the contemplation of the moral deformity from 
which they spring. There must also be nothing attempted to 
make the exhibition subservient to what is vulgarly termed a 
moral purpose. The highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest 
species of the drama, is the teaching of the human heart, through 
its sympathies and antipathies, the knowledge of itself ; in pro- 
portion to the possession of which knowledge every human being is 
wise, just, sincere, tolerant, and kind. If dogmas can do more, it is 
well : but a drama is no fit place for the enforcement of them. 
Undoubtedly no person can be truly dishonoured by the act of 
another ; and the fit return to make to the most enormous injuries 
is kindness and forbearance, and a resolution to convert the injurer 
from his dark passions by peace and love. Revenge, retaliation, 
atonement, are pernicious mistakes. If Beatrice had thought in this 
manner, she would have been wiser and better ; but she would never 
have been a tragic character : the few whom such an exhibition 
would have interested, could never have been sufficiently interested 
for a dramatic purpose, from the want of finding sympathy in their 
interest among the mass who surround them. It is in the restless 
and anatomizing casuistry with which men seek the justification 
of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done what needs justification ; it 
is in the superstitious horror with which they contemplate alike 
her wrongs and their revenge, that the dramatic character of what 
she did and suffered consists. 

I have endeavoured as nearly as possible to represent the 
characters as they probably were, and have sought to avoid the 
error of making them actuated by my own conceptions of right or 


8 


THE CENCI. 


wrong, false or true : thus under a thin veil converting names 
and actions of the sixteenth century into cold impersonations of my 
own mind. They are represented as Catholics, and as Catholics 
deeply tinged with religion. To a Protestant apprehension there 
will appear something unnatural in the earnest and perpetual 
sentiment of the relations between God and man which pervade 
the tragedy of the Cenci. It will especially be startled at the com- 
bination of an imdoubting persuasion of the truth of the popular 
rehgion, with a cool and determined perseverance in enormous 
guilt. But religion in Italy is not, as in Protestant countries, a 
cloak to be worn on particular days ; or a passport which those 
who do not vdsh to be railed at carry wdth them to exhibit ; or a 
gloomy passion for penetrating the impenetrable mysteries of our 
being, which terrifies its possessor at the darkness of the abyss to 
the brink of which it has conducted him. Rehgion co-exists, as 
it were, in the mind of an Italian Cathohc with a faith in that of 
which all men have the most certain knowledge. It is inter- 
woven with the whole fabric of life. It is adoration, faith, sub- 
mission, penitence, blind admiration ; not a rule for moral 
conduct. It has no necessary connection with any one virtue* 
The most atrocious villain may be rigidly devout, and, without 
any shock to established faith, confess himself to be so. Religion 
pervades intensely the whole frame of society, and is, according 
to the temper of the mind which it inhabits, a passion, a per- 
suasion, an excuse, a refuge ; never a check. Cenci himself 
built a chapel in the court of his palace, and dedicated it to St. 
Thomas the Apostle, and established masses for the peace of his 
soul. Thus in the first scene of the fourth act, Lucretia’s 
design in exposing herself to the consequences of an expostulation 
with Cenci after having administered the opiate, was to induce 
him by a feigned tale to confess himself before death ; this being 
esteemed by Catholics as essential to salvation ; and she only 
relinquishes her purpose when she perceives that her perseverance 
would expose Beatrice to new outrages. 

I have avoided with great care in wTiting this play the intro- 
duction of what is commonly called mere poetry, and I imagine 


THE CENCI. 


9 


there will scarcely be found a detached simile or a single isolated 
description, unless Beatrice’s description of the chasm appointed 
for her father’s murder should be judged to be of that nature *. 

In a dramatic composition the imagery and the passion should 
interpenetrate one another, the former being reserved simply for 
the full development and illustration of the latter. Imagination 
is as the immortal God which should assume flesh for the redemp- 
tion of mortal passion. It is thus that the most remote and the 
most familiar imagery may alike be fit for dramatic purposes 
when employed in the illustration of strong feeling, which raises 
what is low, and levels to the apprehension that which is lofty, 
casting over all the shadow of its own greatness. In other 
respects I have written more carelessly ; that is, without an over- 
fastidious and learned choice of words. In this respect, I entirely 
agree with those modern critics who assert, that in order to move 
men to true sympathy we must use the familiar language of men ; 
and that our great ancestors, the ancient English poets, are the 
writers, a study of whom might incite us to do that for our own 
age which they have done for theirs. But it must be the real 
language of men in general, and not that of any particular class, 
to whose society the writer happens to belong. So much for 
what I have attempted : I need not be assured that success is a 
very different matter ; particularly for one whose attention has 
but newly been awakened to the study of dramatic literature. 

I endeavoured whilst at Rome to observe such monuments of 
this story as might be accessible to a stranger. The portrait of 
Beatrice at the Colonna Palace is most admirable as a work of 
art : it was taken by Guido during her confinement in prison. 
But it is most interesting as a just representation of one of the 
loveliest specimens of the workmanship of Nature. There is a 
fixed and pale composure upon the features : she seems sad and 
stricken down in spirit, yet the despair thus expressed is lightened 
by the patience of gentleness. Her head is bound with folds of 

* An idea in this speech was suggested by a most sublime passage in 
“ El Purgatorio de San Patricio,” of Calderon : the only plagiarism which 
I have intentionally committed in the whole piece. 


10 


THE CENCI, 


white drapery, from which the yellow strings of her golden hair 
escape, and fall about her neck. The moulding of her face is 
exquisitely delicate ; the eye-brows are distinct and arched ; the 
lips have that permanent meaning of imagination and sensibility 
which suffering has not repressed, and which it seems as if death 
scarcely could extinguish. Her forehead is large and clear ; her 
eyes, which we are told were remarkable for their vivacity, are 
swollen with weeping and lustreless, but beautifully tender and 
serene. In the whole mien there is a simphcity and dignity 
which, united with her exquisite loveliness and deep sorrow, are 
inexpressibly pathetic. Beatrice Cenci appears to have been one 
of those rare persons in whom energy and gentleness dwell together 
without destroying one another ; her nature was simple and 
profound. The crimes and miseries in which she was an actor 
and a sufferer, are as the mask and the mantle in which circum- 
stances clothed her for her impersonation on the scene of the 
world. 

The Cenci Palace is of great extent ; and, though in part 
modernised, there yet remains a vast and gloomy pile of feudal 
architecture in the same state as during the dreadful scenes 
which are the subject of this tragedy. The palace is situated in 
an obscure corner of Rome, near the quarter of the Jews, and 
from the upper windows you see the immense ruins of Mount 
Palatine half hidden under their profuse overgrowth of trees. 
There is a court in one part of the palace (perhaps that in which 
Cenci built the chapel to St. Thomas), supported by granite columns 
and adorned with antique friezes of fine workmanship, and built 
up, according to the ancient Italian fashion, with balcony over 
balcony of open work. One of the gates of the palace, formed of 
immense stones, and leading through a passage dark and lofty, 
and opening into gloomy subterranean chambers, struck me 
particularly. 

Of the Castle of Petrella, I could obtain no further information 
than that which is to be found in the manuscript. 


DRAMATIS PERSONS. 


Count Francesco Cenci. 
Giacomo, 

Bernardo, J 
Cardinal Camillo. 


his Sons. 


Orsino, a Prelate. 

Sa VELLA, the Pope's Legate. 
Olimpio, 

Marzio, 


■O. I 

O, j 


Assassins, 


Andrea, Servant to Cenci. 
NohleSj Judges^ Guards^ Servants. 


Lucretia, Wife 0/ Cenci, and step-mother of his children. 
Beatrice, his daughter. 


The Scene lies principally in Rome, hut changes during the Fourth Act to 
Petrella, a Castle among the Apulian Apennines. 

Time. — During the Pontificate of Clement VIII. 



THE CENCL 


ACT I. 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. 


Enter Count Cenci and Cardinal Camillo. 

CAMILLO. 

That matter of the murder is hushed up 

If you consent to yield his Holiness 

Your fief that lies beyond the Pincian gate. — 

It needed all my interest in the conclaTe 
To bend him to this point : he said that you 
Bought perilous impunity with your gold ; 

That crimes like yours if once or twice compounded 
Enriched the Church, and respited from hell 
An erring soul which might repent and live : 

But that the glory and the interest 

Of the high throne he fills, little consist 

With making it a daily mart of guilt 

So manifold and hideous as the deeds 

Which you scarce hide from men’s revolted eyes. 

CENCI. 

The third of my possessions — let it go ! 

Ay, I once heard the nephew of the Pope 


14 


THE CENCI. 


Had sent his architect to view the ground, 

Meaning to build a villa on my vines 
The next time I compounded with his uncle : 

I little thought he should outwit me so ! 

Henceforth no witness — not the lamp — shall see 
That which the vassal threatened to divulge, 

Whose throat is choked with dust for his reward. 

The deed he saw could not have rated higher 
Than his most worthless life : — it angers me ! 

Respited from Hell ! — So may the Devil 

Respite their souls from Heaven. No doubt Pope Clement, 

And his most charitable nephews, pray 

That the Apostle Peter and the saints 

Will grant for their sake that I long enjoy 

Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and length of days 

Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards 

Of their revenue. — But much yet remains 

To which they show no title. 

CAMILLO. 

Oh, Count Cenci ! 

So much that thou might ’st honourably live. 

And reconcile thyself with thine own heart 
And with thy God, and with the offended world. 

How hideously look deeds of lust and blood 
Through those snow-white and venerable hairs ! 

Your children should be sitting round you now, 

But that you fear to read upon their looks 
The shame and misery you have written there. 

Where is your wife ? Where is your gentle daughter ? 
Methinks her sweet looks, which make all things else 
Beauteous and glad, might kill the fiend within you. 

Why is she barred from all society 

But her own strange and uncomplaining wrongs ? 

Talk with me, Count, you know I mean you well. 


THE CENCI. 


15 


I stood beside your dark and fiery youth, 
Watching its bold and bad career, as men 
Watch meteors, but it vanished not — I marked 
Your desperate and remorseless manhood ; now 
Do I behold you, in dishonoured age. 

Charged with a thousand unrepented crimes. 

Yet I have ever hoped you would amend. 

And in that hope have saved your life three times 

CENCI. 

For which Aldobrandino owes you now 
My fief beyond the Pincian — Cardinal, 

One thing, I pray you, recollect henceforth, 

And so we shall converse with less restraint. 

A man you knew spoke of my wife and daughter, 
He was accustomed to frequent my house ; 

So the next day his wife and daughter came 
And asked if I had seen him ; and I smiled * 

I think they never saw him any more. 

CAMILLO. 

Thou execrable man, beware ! — 

CENCI. 

Of thee ? 

Nay, this is idle : — We should know each other. 
As to my character for what men call crime, 
Seeing I please my senses as I list. 

And vindicate that right with force or guile. 

It is a public matter, and I care not 
If I discuss it with you. I may speak 
Alike to you and my own conscious heart ; 

For you give out that you have half reformed me, 
Therefore strong vanity will keep you silent 
If fear should not ; both will, I do not doubt. 

All men delight in sensual luxury. 


16 


THE CENCI. 


All men enjoy revenge ; and most exult 
Over the tortures they can never feel ; 
Flattering their secret peace with others’ pain. 
But I delight in nothing else. I love 
The sight of agony, and the sense of joy, 
When this shall be another’s, and that mine. 
And I have no remorse, and little fear. 

Which are, I think, the checks of other men. 
This mood has grown upon me, until now 
Any design my captious fancy makes 
The picture of its wish, and it forms none 
But such as men like you would start to know. 
Is as my natural food and rest debarred 
Until it he accomplished. 


CAMILLO. 

Art thou not 

Most miserable ? 

CENCI. 

Why miserable ? — 

No. I am what your theologians call 
Hardened ; which they must be in impudence. 

So to revile a man’s peculiar taste. 

True, I w^as happier than I am, while yet 
Manhood remained to act the thing I thought ; 

While lust was sweeter than revenge ; and now 
Invention palls ; ay, we must all grow old : 

But that there yet remains a deed to act 
Whose horror might make sharp an appetite 
Duller than mine — I ’d do, — I know not what. 

When I was young I thought of nothing else 
But pleasure ; and I fed on honey sweets : 

Men, by St. Thomas ! cannot live like bees. 

And I grew tired : yet, till I killed a foe. 

And heard his groans, and heard his children’s groans. 


THE CENCI. 


17 


Knew I not what delight was else on earth, 
Which now delights me little. I the rather 
Look on such pangs as terror ill conceals ; 

The dry, fixed eye-ball ; the pale, quivering lip. 
Which tell me that the spirit weeps within 
Tears bitterer than the bloody sweat of Christ. 

I rarely kill the body, which preserves. 

Like a strong prison, the soul within my power. 
Wherein I feed it with the breath of fear 
For hourly pain. 

CAMILLO. 

Hell’s most abandoned fiend 
Did never, in the drunkenness of guilt. 

Speak to his heart as now you speak to me ; 

I thank my God that I believe you not. 

Enter Andrea. 


ANDREA. 

My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca 
Would speak with you. 

CENCI. 

Bid him attend me in the grand saloon. 

CAMILLO. 

Farewell ; and I will pray 

Almighty God that thy false, impious words 

Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. 

CENCI. 


{Exit Andrea. 


{Exit Camillo. 


The third of my possessions ! I must use 
Close husbandry, or gold, the old man’s sword. 
Falls from my withered hand. But yesterday 
There came an order from the Pope to make 
Fourfold provision for my cursed sons ; 

Whom I have sent from Rome to Salamanca, 

VOL II. c 


18 


THE CENCI. 


Hoping some accident might cut them off ; 

And meaning, if I could, to starve them there. 

I pray thee, God, send some quick death upon them ! 
Bernardo and my wife could not be worse 
If dead and danmed : — then, as to Beatrice — 

[Looking around him su^'picioualy. 
I think they cannot hear me at that door ; 

What if they should ? And yet I need not speak. 

Though the heart triumphs with itself in words. 

0, thou most silent air, that shall not hear 
What now I think ! Thou, pavement, which I tread 
Towards her chamber, — let your echoes talk 
Of my imperious step, scorning surprise, 

But not of my intent ! — Andrea ! 

Enter Andrea. 

ANDREA. 

My lord ! 

CENCI. 

Bid Beatrice attend me in her chamber 
This evening : — no, at midnight, and alone. 

[Exeunt. 


SCENE II. 

A Garden of the Cenci Palace. 

Enter Beatrice and Orsino, as in conversaiion. 

BEATRICE. 

Pervert not truth, 

Orsino. You remember where we held 
That conversation ; — nay, we see the spot 
Even from this cypress ; — two long years are past 
Since, on an April midnight, underneath 


THE CENCI. 


19 


The moonlight-ruins of Mount Palatine, 

I did confess to you my secret mind. 

ORSINO. 

You said you loved me then. 

BEATRICE. 

You are a priest : 

Speak to me not of love. 

ORSINO. 

I may obtain 

The dispensation of the Pope to marry. 

Because I am a priest, do you believe 
Your image, as the hunter some struck deer. 
Follows me not whether I wake or sleep ? 

BEATRICE. 

As I have said, speak to me not of love ; 

Had you a dispensation, I have not ; 

Nor will I leave this home of misery 
Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle lady 
To whom I owe life, and these virtuous thoughts, 
Must suffer what I still have strength to share. 
Alas, Orsino ! All the love that once 
I felt for you, is turned to bitter pain. 

Ours was a youthful contract, which you first 
Broke, by assuming vows no Pope will loose. 
And thus I love you still, but holily, 

Even as a sister or a spirit might ; 

And so I swear a cold fidelity. 

And it is well perhaps we shall not marry. 

You have a sly, equivocating vein 
That suits me not. — Ah, wretched that I am ! 
Where shall I turn ? Even now you look on me 
As you were not my friend, and as if you 
Discovered that I thought so, with false smiles 
c 2 


20 


THE CENCI. 


Making my true suspicion seem your wrong. 

Ah ! No, forgive me ; sorrow makes me seem 
Sterner than else my nature might have been ; 

I have a weight of melancholy thoughts, 

And they forebode, — hut what can they forebode 
Worse than I now endure? 

ORSINO. 

All will be well. 

Is the petition yet prepared ? You know 
My zeal for all you wish, sweet Beatrice ; 

Doubt not hut I will use my utmost skill 
So that the Pope attend to your complaint. 

BEATRICE. 

Your zeal for all I wish ? — Ah me, you are cold ! 
Your utmost skill — speak but one word — 

(Aside) Alas ! 

Weak and deserted creature that I am. 

Here I stand bickering with my only friend ! 

{To Orsino.) 

This night my father gives a sumptuous feast, 
Orsino ; he has heard some happy news 
From Salamanca, from my brothers there, 

And with this outward show of love he mocks 
His inward hate. ’Tis bold hypocrisy. 

For he would gladlier celebrate their deaths. 
Which I have heard him pray for on his knees : 
Great God ! that such a father should be mine ! — 
But there is mighty preparation made. 

And all our kin, the Cenci, will be there. 

And all the chief nobility of Borne. 

And he has hidden me and my pale mother 
Attire ourselves in festival array. 

Poor lady ! she expects some happy change 


THE CENCI. 


21 


In his dark spirit from this act ; I none. 
At supper I will give you the petition : 
Till when — farewell. 

ORSINO. 


Farewell. 


[Exit Beatrice. 


I know the Pope 

Will ne’er absolve me from my priestly vow 
But by absolving me from the revenue 
Of many a wealthy see ; and, Beatrice, 

I think to win thee at an easier rate. 

Nor shall he read her eloquent petition : 

He might bestow her on some poor relation 
Of his sixth-cousin, as he did her sister, 

And I should be debarred from all access. 

Then as to what she suffers from her father. 

In all this there is much exaggeration : 

Old men are testy, and will have their way ; 

A man may stab his enemy, or his vassal. 

And live a free life as to wine or women. 

And with a peevish temper may return 

To a dull home, and rate his wife and children ; 

Daughters and wives call this foul tyranny. 

I shall he well content, if on my conscience 
There rest no heavier sin than what they suffer 
From the devices of my love — A net 
From which she shall escape not. Yet I fear 
Her subtle mind, her awe-inspiring gaze, 

Whose beams anatomize me, nerve by nerve. 

And lay me hare, and make me blush to see 
My hidden thoughts. — Ah, no ! a friendless girl 
Who clings to me, as to her only hope : — 

I were a fool, not less than if a panther 
Were panic-stricken by the antelope’s eye. 

If she escape me. 


[Exit. 


22 


THE CENCI. 


SCENE III. 

A magnificent Hall in the Cenci Polace. 

A Banquet. Enter Cenci, Lucretia, Beatrice, Orsino, 
Camillo, Nobles. 

cenci. 

Welcome, my friends and kinsmen ; welcome ye, 

Princes and Cardinals, Pillars of the church. 

Whose presence honours our festivity. 

I have too long lived like an anchorite. 

And, in my absence from your merry meetings, 

An evil word is gone abroad of me ; 

But I do hope that you, my noble friends. 

When you have shared the entertainment here. 

And heard the pious cause for which ’tis given. 

And we have pledged a health or two together. 

Will think me flesh and blood as well as you ; 

Sinful indeed, for Adam made all so. 

But tender-hearted, meek and pitiful. 

FIRST GUEST. 

In truth, my lord, you seem too light of heart. 

Too sprightly and companionable a man. 

To act the deeds that rumour pins on you. 

\To his companion. 

I never saw such blithe and open cheer 
In any eye ! 

second guest. 

Some most desired event. 

In which we all demand a common joy. 

Has brought us hither ; let us hear it. Count. 


THE CENCI. 


23 


CENCI. 

It is indeed a most desired event. 

If, when a parent, from a parent’s heart, 

Lifts from this earth to the great Father of all 
A prayer, both when he lays him down to sleep. 
And when he rises up from dreaming it ; 

One supplication, one desire, one hope. 

That he would grant a wish for his two sons, 
Even all that he demands in their regard — 
And suddenly, beyond his dearest hope. 

It is accomplished, he should then rejoice, 

And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast, 

And task their love to grace his merriment, 
Then honour me thus far — for I am he. 

BEATRICE {to LuCRETIA). 

Great God ! How horrible ! Some dreadful ill 
Must have befallen my brothers. 


He speaks too frankly. 


LUCRETIA. 

Fear not, child. 


BEATRICE. 


Ah ! My blood runs cold. 
I fear that wicked laughter round his eye. 

Which wrinkles up the skin even to the hair. 


CENCI. 

Here are the letters brought from Salamanca ; 

Beatrice, read them to your mother. God, 

I thank thee ! In one night didst thou perform, 

By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. 

My disobedient and rebellious sons 

Are dead ! — ^Why dead ! — ^What means this change of cheer? 
You hear me not, I tell you they are dead ; 

And they will need no food or raiment more : 


24 


THE CENCI. 


The tapers that did light them the dark way 
Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not 
Expect I should maintain them in their coffins. 

Rejoice with me — my heart is wondrous glad. 

BEATRICE. (Lucretia siiiTcs, half fainting ; Beatrice supports her.) 
It is not true ! — Dear lady, pray look up. 

Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven, 

He would not live to boast of such a boon. 

Unnatural man, thou knowest that it is false. 

CENCI, 

Ay, as the word of God ; whom here I call 
To witness that I speak the sober truth ; — 

And whose most favouring providence was shown 
Even in the manner of their deaths. For Eocco 
Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen others, 

When the Church fell and crushed him to a mummy ; 

The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano 
Was stabbed in error by a jealous man, 

Whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival ; 

All in the self-same hour of the same night ; 

Which shows that Heaven has special care of me. 

I beg those friends who love me, that they mark 
The day a feast upon their calendars. 

It was the twenty-seventh of December : 

Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath. 

\The assembly appears confused ; several of the guests rise. 

FIRST GUEST. 

Oh, horrible ! I will depart. — 

SECOND GUEST. 

x\nd I. — 

THIRD GUEST. 

No, stay ! 

I do believe it is some jest ; though faith. 


THE CENCI. 


25 


’Tis mocking us somewhat too solemnly. 

I think his son has married the Infanta, 

Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado : 

’Tis but to season some such news ; stay, stay ! 

I see ’tis only raillery by his smile. 

CENCI {filling a howl of wine, and lifting it up). 

Oh, thou bright wine, whose purple splendour leaps 
And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl 
Under the lamp-light, as my spirits do. 

To hear the death of my accursed sons ! 

Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood. 

Then would I taste thee like a sacrament. 

And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in Hell ; 
Who, if a father’s curses, as men say. 

Climb with swift wings after their children’s souls. 
And drag them from the very throne of Heaven, 

Now triumphs in my triumph! — But thou art 
Superfluous ; I have drunken deep of joy, 

And I will taste no other wine to-night. 

Here, iVndrea ! Bear the bowl around. 

A GUEST {rising). 

Thou wretch ! 

Will none among this noble company 
Check the abandoned villain ? 

CAMILLO. 

For God’s sake. 

Let me dismiss the guests I You are insane, 

Some ill will come of this. 

SECOND GUEST. 

Seize, silence him ! 


I will ! 


FIRST GUEST. 


26 


THE CENCI. 


THIRD GUEST. 

And I ! 

CENCI {addressing those who rise with a threatening gesture). 
Who moves ? Who speaks ? 

[Turning to the Company. 
’Tis nothing, 

Enjoy yourselves. — Beware ! for my revenge 
Is as the sealed commission of a king, 

That kills, and none dare name the murderer. 

[The Banquet is broken up ; several of the Guests are departing, 

BEATRICE. 

I do entreat you, go not, noble guests ; 

What although tyranny and impious hate 
Stand sheltered by a father’s hoary hair ? 

What if ’tis he who clothed us in these limbs 
Who tortures them, and triumnhs ? What, if we. 

The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh. 

His children and his wife, whom he is bound 
To love and shelter ? Shall we therefore find 
No refuge in this merciless wide world ? 

Oh, think what deep wrongs must have blotted out 
First love, then reverence in a child’s prone mind. 

Till it thus vanquish shame and fear ! Oh, think ! 

I have home much, and kissed the sacred hand 
Which crushed us to the earth, and thought its stroke 
Was perhaps some paternal chastisement ! 

Have excused much, doubted ; and when no doubt 
Remained, have sought by patience, love and tears, 

To soften him ; and when this could not be, 

I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights. 

And lifted up to God, the father of all. 

Passionate prayers : and when these were not heard, 

I have still borne ; — ^until I meet you here. 

Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast 


THE CENCI. 


27 


Given at my brothers’ deaths. Two yet remain, 

His wife remains and I, whom if ye save not, 

Ye may soon share such merriment again 
As fathers make over their children’s graves. 

Oh ! Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman ; 

Cardinal, thou art the Pope’s chamberlain ; 

Camillo, thou art chief justiciary ; 

Take us away ! 

CENCI. (Ife has been conversing with Camillo during the first part of 
Beatrice’s speech ; he hears the conclusion, and now advances) 

I hope my good friends here 
Will think of their own daughters — or perhaps 
Of their own throats — before they lend an ear 
To this wild girl. 

BEATRICE {not noticing the words of Cenci). 

Dare no one look on me ? 

None answer ? Can one tyrant overbear 
The sense of many best and wisest men ? 

Or is it that I sue not in some form 
Of scrupulous law, that ye deny my suit ? 

Oh, God ! that I were buried with my brothers ! 

And that the flowers of this departed spring 
Were fading on my grave ! and that my father 
Were celebrating now one feast for all ! 

CAMILLO. 

A bitter wish for one so young and gentle ; 

Can we do nothing?— 

COLONNA. 

Nothing that I see. 

Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy : 

Yet I would second any one. 

A CARDINAL. 

And I. 


28 


THE CENCI. 


CENCI. 

Ketire to your chamber, insolent girl ! 

BEATRICE. 

Eetire thou, impious man ! Ay, hide thyself 
Where never eye can look upon thee more ! 

Wouldst thou have honour and obedience, 

Who art a torturer? Father, never dream, 

Though thou mayst overbear this company. 

But ill must come of ill. — Frown not on me ! 

Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks 
My brothers’ ghosts should hunt thee from thy seat ! 

Cover thy face from every living eye. 

And start if thou but hear a human step : 

Seek out some dark and silent corner, there. 

Bow thy white head before offended God, 

And we will kneel around, and fervently 
Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee. 

CENCI. 

My friends, I do lament this insane girl 
Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity. 

Good night, farewell ; I will not make you longer 
Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels. 

Another time. — 

[Exeunt all hut Cenci and Beatrice. 
My brain is swimming round ; 

Give me a bowl of wine ! 

{To Beatrice.) Thou painted viper ! 

Beast that thou art ! Fair and yet terrible ! 

I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame. 

Now get thee from my sight ! 

[Exit Beatrice. 

Here, Andrea, 

Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said 
I would not drink this evening, but I must ; 


THE CENCI. 


29 


For, strange to say, I feel my spirits fail 
With thinking what I have decreed to do. 

{Drinking the wine. 

Be thou the resolution of quick youth 
Within my veins, and manhood’s purpose stern. 

And age’s firm, cold, subtle villany ; 

As if thou wert indeed my children’s blood 

Which I did thirst to drink. The charm works well ; 

It must be done, it shall be done, I swear ! 

[Exit 


END OF THE PIEST ACT. 


30 


THE CENCI. 


ACT II. 

Scene I . — A n Apartment in the Cenci Palace. 


Enter Lucretia and Bernardo. 

LUCRETIA. 

Weep not, my gentle boy ; he struck but me, 

Who have home deeper wrongs. In truth, if he 
Had killed me, he had done a kinder deed. 

Oh, God Almighty, do thou look upon us, 

We have no other friend but only thee ! 

Yet weep not ; though I love you as my own, 

I am not your true mother. 

BERNARDO. 

Oh, more, more 

Than ever mother was to any child. 

That have you been to me ! Had he not been 
My father, do you think that I should weep ? 

LUCRETIA. 

Alas ! poor boy, what else couldst thou have done ! 

Enter Beatrice. 

BEATRICE {in a hurried voice). 

Did he pass this way ? Have you seen him, brother ? 
Ah ! no, that is his step upon the stairs ; 

’Tis nearer now ; his hand is on the door ; 

Mother, if I to thee have ever been 


THE CENCI. 


31 


A duteous child, now save me ! Thou, great God, 

Whose image upon earth a father is. 

Dost thou indeed abandon me ? He comes ; 

The door is opening now ; I see his face ; 

He frowns on others, but he smiles on me, 

Even as he did after the feast last night. 

Enter a Servant. 

Almighty God, how merciful thou art ! 

’Tis but Orsino’s servant. — ^Well, what news? 

SERVANT. 

My master bids me say, the Holy Father 
Has sent back your petition thus unopened. 

[Giving a Paper. 

And he demands at what hour ’twere secure 
To visit you again ? 

LUCRETIA. 

At the Ave Mary. 

[Exit Servant. 

So, daughter, our last hope has failed ; ah me, 

How pale you look ! you tremble, and you stand 
Wrapped in some fixed and fearful meditation. 

As if one thought were over strong for you : 

Your eyes have a chill glare ; oh, dearest child ! 

Are you gone mad ? If not, pray speak to me. 

BEATRICE. 

You see I am not mad ; I speak to you. 

LUCRETIA. 

You talked of something that your father did 
After that dreadful feast ? Could it be worse 
Than when he smiled, and cried. My sons are dead ! 

And every one looked in his neighbour’s face 
To see if others were as white as he? 

At the first word he spoke I felt the blood 


3-2 


THE CENCI. 


Eush to my heart, and fell into a trance ; 

And when it past I sat all weak and wild ; 

Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong words 
Check’d his unnatural pride ; and I could see 
The devil was rebuked that lives in him. 

Until this hour thus you have ever stood 
Between us and your father’s moody wTath 
Like a protecting presence : your firm mind 
Has been our only refuge and defence : 

What can have thus subdued it ? WTiat can now 
Have given you that cold melancholy look. 

Succeeding to your unaccustomed fear ? 

BEATRICE. 

What is it that you say ? I was just thinldng 
’Twere better not to struggle any more. 

Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody, 

Yet never — 0 ! before worse comes of it, 

’Twere wise to die : it ends in that at last. 

LUCRETIA. 

Oh, talk not so, dear child ! Tell me at once 
What did your father do or say to you ? 

He stayed not after that accursed feast 
One moment in your chamber. — Speak to me. 

BERNARDO. 

Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us ! 

BEATRICE {speaking very slowly with a forced calmness). 

It was one word, mother, one little word ; 

One look, one smile. 

{Wildly. 

Oh ! he has trampled me 
Under his feet, and made the blood stream down 
My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all 


THE CENCI. 


oo 


Ditch-water, and the fever-stricken flesh 
Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve. 

And we have eaten. He has made me look 
On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust 
Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs, 
iVnd I have never yet despaired — but now ! 

What would I say ? 

[^Recoverincf herself. 
Ah ! no, ’tis nothing new\ 

The sufferings we all share have made me wild : 

He only struck and cursed me as he passed ; 

He said, he looked, he did, — nothing at all 
Beyond his wont, yet it disordered me. 

Alas ! I am forgetful of my duty, 

I should preserve my senses for your sake. 

LTJCRETIA. 

Nay, Beatrice ; have courage, my sweet girl. 

If any one despairs it should be I, 

Who loved him once, and now must live with him 
Till God in pity call for him or me. 

For you may, like your sister, find some husband. 

And smile, years hence, with children round your knees ; 
Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous coil, 

Shall be remembered only as a dream. 

BEATRICE. 

Talk not to me, dear lady, of a husband. 

Did you not nurse me when my mother died ? 

Did you not shield me and that dearest boy ? 

And had we any other friend but you 
In infancy, with gentle words and looks, 

To win our father not to murder us ? 

And shall I now desert you? May the ghost 
Of my dead mother plead against my soul, 

VOL. II. D 


34 


THE CENCI. 


If I abandon her who filled the place 

She left, with more even than a mother’s love ! 

BERNARDO. 

And I am of my sister’s mind. Indeed 
I would not leave you in this wretchedness, 

Even though the Pope should make me free to live 
In some blithe place, like others of my age, 

With sports, and delicate food, and the fresh air. 
Oh, never think that I will leave you, mother ! 


LUCRETIA. 

My dear, dear children ! 


Enter Cenci, suddenly. 


CENCI. 


What ! Beatrice here ? 


Come hither ! 


[She shrinks hack, and covers her face. 
Nay, hide not your face, ’tis fair ; 

Look up ! Why, yesternight you dared to look 
With disobedient insolence upon me. 

Bending a stem and an inquiring brow 
On what I meant ; whilst I then sought to hide 
That which I came to tell you — but in vain. 


BEATRICE {wildly staggering towards the door). 

Oh, that the earth would gape ! Hide me, oh God ! 


CENCI. 

Then it was I whose inarticulate words 
Fell from my lips, who with tottering steps 
Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. 
Stay, I command you ! From this day and hour 
Never again, I think, with fearless eye. 

And brow superior, and unaltered cheek. 

And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, 


THE CENCI. 


35 


Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind ; 

Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber, 

Thou too, loathed image of thy cursed mother, 

[To Bernardo. 

Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate ! 

[Exeunt Beatrice and Bernardo. 
{Aside.) So much has passed between us as must make 
Me bold, her fearful. — ’Tis an awful thing 
To touch such mischief as I now conceive : 

So men sit shivering on the dewy hank 

And try the chill stream with their feet ; once in — 

How the delighted spirit pants for joy ! 

LUCRETiA {advancing timidly towards him) 

Oh, husband ! Pray forgive poor Beatrice, 

She meant not any ill. 

CENCI. 

Nor you perhaps ? 

Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote 
Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomo? 

Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirred 
Enmity up against me with the Pope ? 

Whom in one night merciful God cut off: 

Innocent lambs ! They thought not any ill. 

You were not here conspiring ? you said nothing 
Of how I might be dungeoned as a madman ; 

Or be condemned to death for some offence, 

And you would be the witnesses ? — This failing.. 

How just it were to hire assassins, or 
Put sudden poison in my evening drink ? 

Or smother me when overcome by wine ? 

Seeing we had no other judge but God, 

And he had sentenced me, and there were none 
But you to be the executioners 
Of his decree enregistered in heaven ? 

Oh, no ! You said not this ? 


36 


THE CENCI. 


LUCRETIA. 

So help me Gkxi, 

I never thought the things you charge me with ! 

CENCI. 

If you dare speak that wicked lie again, 

111 kill you. What ! it was not by your counsel 
That Beatrice disturbed the feast last night ? 

You did not hope to stir some enemies 
Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn 
What every nerve of you now trembles at ? 

You judged that men were holder than they are ; 

Few dare to stand between their grave and me. 

LUCRETIA. 

Look not so dreadfully ! By my salvation 
I knew not aught that Beatiice designed ; 

Nor do I think she designed any thing 
Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers. 

CENCI. 

Blaspheming liar ! You are damned for this ! 

But I will take you where you may persuade 
The stones you tread on to dehver you : 

For men shall there be none but those who dare 
All things ; not question that which I command. 

On Wednesday next I shall set out : you know 
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella ? 

’Tis safely walled, and moated round about : 

Its dungeons under ground, and its thick towers 
Never told tales ; though they have heard and seen 
What might make dumb things speak. Why do you linger ? 
Make speediest preparation for the journey ! 

[Exit Lucretia. 

The all-beholding sun yet shines ; I hear 
A busy stir of men about the streets ; 


THE CENCI. 


37 


I see the bright sky through the window panes : 

It is a garish, broad, and peering day ; 

Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and ears ; 

And every little corner, nook, and hole, 

Is penetrated with the insolent light. 

Come, darkness ! Yet, wLat is the day to me ? 

And wherefore should I wish for night, who do 
A deed which shall confound both night and day ? 

’Tis she shall grope through a bewildering mist 
Of horror : if there be a sun in heaven. 

She shall not dare to look upon its beams ; 

Nor feel its warmth. Let her, then, wish for night ; 

The act I think shall soon extinguish all 
For me : I bear a darker, deadlier gloom 
Than the earth’s shade, or interlunar air, 

Or constellations quenched in murkiest cloud, 

In which I walk secure and unbeheld 
Towards my purpose. — Would that it were done ! 

\Exit. 


SCENE II. 

A Chamber in the Vatican. 

Enter Camillo and Giacomo, in conversation, 

CAMILLO. 

There is an obsolete and doubtful law. 

By which you might obtain a bare provision 
Of food and clothing. 

GIACOMO. 

Nothing more ? Alas ! 

Bare must be the provision which strict law 
Awards, and aged sullen avarice pays. 

Why did my father not apprentice me 


38 


THE CENCI. 


To some mechanic trade ? I should have then 
Been trained in no high-horn necessities 
Which I could meet not by my daily toil. 

The eldest son of a rich nobleman 
Is heir to all his incapacities ; 

He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you, 
Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once 
From thrice-driven beds of down, and delicate food, 
An hundred servants, and six palaces. 

To that which nature doth indeed require ? — 

CAMILLO. 

Nay, there is reason in your plea ; ’twere hard 

GIACOMO. 

’Tis hard for a firm man to bear : but I 
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth. 

Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father. 

Without a bond or witness to the deed : 

And children, who inherit her fine senses, 

The fairest creatures in this breathing world ; 

And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, 

Ho you not think the Pope would interpose 
And stretch authority beyond the law ? 

CAMILLO. 

Though your peculiar case is hard, I know 
The Pope will not divert the course of law. 

After that impious feast the other night 
I spoke with him, and urged him then to check 
Your father’s cruel hand ; he frowned, and said, 

“ Children are disobedient, and they sting 
Their fathers’ hearts to madness and despair, 
Eequiting years of care with contumely. 

I pity the Count Cenci from my heart ; 

His outraged love perhaps awakened hate. 


THE CENCI. 


39 


And thus he is exasperated to ill. 

In the great war between the old and young, 

I, who have white hairs and a tottering body, 

Will keep at least blameless neutrality.” 

Enter Orsino. 

You, my good lord Orsino, heard those w^ords. 

ORSINO. 

What words ? 

GIACOMO. 

Alas, repeat them not again ! 

There then is no redress for me ; at least 
None but that which I may achieve myself, 

Since I am driven to the brink. But, say. 

My innocent sister and my only brother 
Are dying imderneath my father’s eye. 

The memorable torturers of this land, 

Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin, 

Never inflicted on their meanest slave 

What these endure ; shall they have no protection ? 

CAMILLO. 

Why, if they would petition to the Pope, 

I see not how he could refuse it — ^yet 
He holds it of most dangerous example 
In aught to weaken the paternal power. 

Being, as ’twere, the shadow of his own. 

I pray you now excuse me. I have business 
That will not bear delay. 

[Exit Camillo. 

GIACOMO. 

But you, Orsino, 

Have the petition ; wherefore not present it ! 

ORSINO. 

I have presented it, and backed it with 


40 


THE CENCI. 


My earnest prayers, and urgent interest ; 

It was returned unanswered. I doubt not 
But that the strange and execrable deeds 
Alleged in it — in truth they might well baffle 
Any belief — have turned the Pope’s displeasure 
Upon the accusers from the criminal : 

So I should guess from what Camillo said. 


GIACOMO. 


My friend, that palace-walking devil. Gold, 

Has whispered silence to his Holiness : 

And we are left, as scorpions ringed with fire. 

What should we do but strike ourselves to death ? 

For he who is our murderous persecutor 
Is shielded by a father’s holy name. 

Or I would — 

[Stops abruptly . 


ORSINO. 


What ? Fear not to speak your thought. 
Words are but holy as the deeds they cover : 

A priest whio has forsworn the God he serves ; 

A judge who makes the truth weep at his decree ; 

A friend who should weave counsel, as I now. 

But as the mantle of some selfish guile ; 

A father who is all a tyrant seems. 

Were the profaner for his sacred name 


GIACOMO. 

Ask me not what I think ; the unwilling brain 
Feigns often what it would not ; and we trust 
Imagination with such phantasies 
As the tongue dares not fashion into words ; 

Which have no words, their horror makes them dim 
To the mind’s eye. My heart denies itself 
To think what you demand. 


THE CENCI. 


41 


OKSINO. 

But a friend’s bosom 
Is as the inmost cave of our own mind, 

Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day, 

And from the all-communicating air. 

You look what I suspected — 

GIACOMO. 

Spare me now ! 

I am as one lost in a midnight wood. 

Who dares not ask some harmless passenger 
The path across the wilderness, lest he. 

As my thoughts are, should be — a murderer. 

I know you are my friend, and all I dare 
Speak to my soul that will I trust with thee. 

But now my heart is heavy, and would take 
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care. 

Pardon me, that I say farewell — farewell ! 

I would that to my own suspected self 
I could address a word so full of peace. 

OKSINO. 

Farewell ! — Be your thoughts better or more bold. 

[Exit Giacomo. 

I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo 
To feed his hope with cold encouragement : 

It fortunately serves my close designs 
That ’tis a trick of this same family 
To analyse their own and other minds. 

Such self-anatomy shall teach the will 
Dangerous secrets : for it tempts our powers. 

Knowing what must be thought, and may be done, 

Into the depth of darkest purposes : 

So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, 

Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself. 


42 


THE CENCI. 


And made me shrink from Trliat I cannot shun, 

Show a poor figure to my own esteem, 

To which I grow half reconciled. 1 11 do 
As little mischief as I can ; that thought 
Shall fee the accuser conscience. 

[After a pause. 
Now what harm 

If Cenci should he murdered ? — Yet, if murdered. 
Wherefore by me ? And what if I could take 
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril 
In such an action ? Of all earthly things 
I fear a man whose blows outspeed his words ; 

And such is Cenci : and while Cenci lives 
His daughter’s dowry were a secret grave 
If a priest wins her. — Oh, fair Beatrice ! 

Would that I loved thee not, or, loving thee. 

Could hut despise danger, and gold, and all 
That frowns between my wish and its efiect, 

Or smiles beyond it ! There is no escape : 

Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar. 

And follows me to the resort of men. 

And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams, 

So when I wake my blood seems liquid fire ; 

And if I strike my damp and dizzy head, 

My hot palm scorches it : her very name. 

But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart 
Sicken and pant ; and thus unprofitahly 
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights, 

Till weak imagination half possesses 
The self-created shadow. Yet much longer 
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours : 

From the mmavelled hopes of Giacomo 
I must work out my own dear pui’poses. 

I see, as from a tower, the end of all : 

Her father dead ; her brother bound to me 


THE CENCl, 


By a dark secret, surer than the grave ; 

Her mother scared and unexpostulating 
From the dread manner of her wish achieved : 

And she ! — Once more take courage, my faint heart ; 
What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee ? 
I have such foresight as assures success ; 

Some unbeheld divinity doth ever. 

When dread events are near, stir up men’s minds 
To black suggestions ; and he prospers best. 

Not who becomes the instrument of ill. 

But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes 
Its empire and its prey of other hearts. 

Till it become his slave — as I will do. 


END OF THE SECOND ACT. 


44 


THE CENCI. 


ACT III. 

Scene I. — An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. 


Lucretia ; to her enter Beatrice. 

BEATRICE {she enters staggering, and speahs wildly). 
Reach me that handkerchief ! — My brain is hurt ; 

My eyes are full of blood ; just wipe them for me — 

I see hut indistinctly. — 

LUCRETIA. 

My sweet child, 

You have no wound ; ’tis only a cold dew 
That starts from your dear brow. — Alas ! alas ! 

What has befallen ? 

BEATRICE. 

How comes this hair undone ? 
Its wandering strings must he what hhnd me so, 

And yet I tied it fast. — 0, horrible ! 

The pavement sinks under my feet ! The walls 
Spin round ! I see a woman weeping there. 

Arid standing calm and motionless, whilst I 
Slide giddily as the world reels. — My God ! 

The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood ! 

The sunshine on the floor is black ! The air 
Is changed to vapours such as the dead breathe 
In charnel-pits ! Pah ! I am choked ! There creeps 
A clinging, black, contaminating mist 
About me — ’tis substantial, heavy, thick ; 


THE CENCI. 


45 


I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues 
My fingers and my limbs to one another, 

And eats into my sinews, and dissolves 

My flesh to a pollution, poisoning 

The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life ! 

My God ! I never knew what the mad felt 
Before ; for I am mad beyond all doubt ! 

[More wildly. 

No, I am dead ! These putrefying limbs 
Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul, 

Which would burst forth into the wandering air ! 

[A pause. 

What hideous thought was that I had even now ? 

’Tis gone ; and yet its burthen remains here 
O’er these dull eyes — upon this weary heart ! 

O, world ! 0, life ! 0, day ! 0, misery ! 

LUCRETIA. 

What ails thee, my poor child ? She answers not : 

Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, 

But not its cause ; suffering has dried away 
The source from which it sprung. — 

BEATRICE {frardically). 

Like Parricide — 

Misery has killed its father : yet its father 
Never like mine — 0, God ! What thing am I ? 

LUCRETIA. 

My dearest child, what has your father done ? 

BEATRICE {douUfidly). 

Who art thou, questioner ? I have no father. 

[Aside. 

She is the madhouse nurse who tends on me, 

It is a piteous ofiice. 


[To Lucretia, in a slow, subdued voice. 


46 


THE CENCI. 


Do you know, 

I thought I was that wretched Beatrice 
Men speak of, whom her father sometimes hales 
From hall to hall by the entangled hair ; 

At others, pens up naked in damp cells 
Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her there. 

Till she will eat strange flesh. This woful story 
So did I overact in my sick dreams. 

That I imagined — no, it cannot he ! 

Horrible things have been in this wild world. 

Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange 
Of good and ill ; and worse have been conceived 
Than ever there was found a heart to do. 

But never fancy imaged such a deed 
As — 

\Pauses, mddenly recollecting herself. 

Who art thou ? Swear to me, ere I die 
With fearful expectation, that indeed 
Thou art not wFat thou seemest — Mother ! 

LUCKETIA. 

Oh ! My sweet child, know you — 

BEATKICE. 

Yet speak it not : 

For then if this he truth, that other too 
Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth, 

Lhiked with each lasting circumstance of life. 

Never to change, never to pass away. 

Why so it is. This is the Cenci Palace ; 

Thou art Lucretia ; I am Beatrice. 

I have talked some wild words, hut will no more. 

Mother, come near me : from this point of time, 

I am — 


{Her voice dies away faintly. 


THE CENCI. 


47 


LUCEETIA. 

Alas ! what has befallen thee, child ? 

What has thy father done ? 

BEATKICE. 

What have I done ? 

Am I not innocent ? Is it my crime 

That one with white hair, and imperious brow. 

Who tortured me from my forgotten years. 

As parents only dare, should call himself 
My father, yet should be ! —Oh, what am I ? 

What name, what place, what memory shall he mine ? 
What retrospects, outliving even despair ? 

LUCEETIA. 

He is a violent tyrant, surely, child : 

We know that death alone can make us free ; 

His death or ours. But what can he have done 
Of deadlier outrage or worse injury? 

Thou art unlike thyself ; thine eyes shoot forth 
A wandering and strange spirit. Speak to me, 
Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers twine 
With one another. 

BEATEICE. 

’Tis the restless life 
Tortured within them. If I try to speak 
I shall go mad. Ay, something must be done ; 

What, yet I know not — something which shall make 
The thing that I have suffered but a shadow 
In the dread lightning which avenges it ; 

Brief, rapid, irreversible, destroying 
The consequence of what it cannot cure. 

Some such thing is to be endured or done : 

When I know what, I shall be still and calm, 

And never anything will move me more. 


48 


THE CENCI. 


But now ! — Oh blood, which art my father’s blood, 
Circling through these contaminated veins, 

If thou, poured forth on the polluted earth, 

Could wash away the crime, and punishment 
By which I suffer — no, that cannot be ! 

Many might doubt there were a God above 
Who sees and permits evil, and so die : 

That faith no agony shall obscure in me. 

LUCEETIA. 

It must indeed have been some bitter wrong ; 

Yet what, I dare not guess. Oh ! my lost child, 

Hide not in proud impenetrable grief 
Thy sufferings from my fear. 

BEATRICE. 

I hide them not. 

What are the words which you would have me speak ? 
I, who can feign no image in my mind 
Of that which has transformed me. I, whose thought 
Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up 
In its own formless horror. Of all words, 

That minister to mortal intercourse. 

Which wouldst thou hear ? For there is none to tell 
My misery : if another ever knew 
Aught like to it, she died as I will die. 

And left it, as I must, without a name. 

Death ! Death ! Our law and our religion call thee 
A punishment and a reward. Oh, which 
Have I deserved? 

LUCRETIA. 

The peace of innocence ; 

Till in your season you be called to heaven. 

Whate’er you may have suffered, you have done 
No evil. Death must be the punishment 
Of crime, or the reward of trampling down 


THE CENCI. 


49 


The thorns which God has strewed upon the path 
Which leads to immortality. 

BEATRICE. 

Ay, death — 

The punishment of crime. I pray thee, God, 

Let me not be bewildered while I judge. 

If I must live day after day, and keep 
These limbs, the unworthy temple of thy spirit. 
As a foul den from which what thou ahhorrest 
May mock thee, unavenged — it shall not be ! 
Self-murder — no that might he no escape, 

For thy decree yawns like a Hell between 
Our will and it. — Oh ! in this mortal world 
There is no vindication and no law. 

Which can adjudge and execute the doom 
Of that through which I suffer. 


Enter Obsino. 

{She approaches him solemnly) Welcome, Friend ! 

I have to tell you that, since last we met, 

I have endured a wrong so great and strange. 

That neither life nor death can give me rest. 

Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds 

Which have no form, sufferings which have no tongue 

ORSINO. 

And what is he who has thus injured you ? 

BEATRICE. 

The man they call my father : a dread name. 


It cannot be — 


ORSINO. 


BEATRICE. 

What it can be, or not, 
Forbear to think. It is, and it has been ; 

VOL. II. E 


50 


THE CENCI. 


Advise me ho^ it shall not be again. 

I thought to die ; but a religious awe 
Restrains me, and the dread lest death itself 
Might he no refuge from the consciousness 
Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak ! 

ORSIXO. 

Accuse him of the deed, and let the law 
Avenge thee. 

BEATRICE. 

Oh, ice-hearted coimsellor ! 

If I could find a word that might make known 
The crime of my destroyer ; and that done. 

My tongue should like a knife tear out the secret 
Which cankers my heart s core ; ay, lay all bai’e. 

So that my unpolluted fame should he 
With vilest gossips a stale mouthed story ; 

A mock, a by-word, an astonishment : — 

If this were done, which never shall be done. 

Think of the offender’s gold, his dreaded hate, 

And the strange horror of the accuser's tale, 

Bafiding belief, and overpoweiing speech ; 

Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wi'apt 
In hideous hints — Oh, most assured redress ! 

ORSIXO. 

You will endure it then ? 

BEATRICE. 

Endure ! — Orsino, 

It seems your counsel is small profit. 

[Turns from him, and speaks half to herself. 

All must be suddenly resolved and done. 

What is this undistinguishable mist 

Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after shadow. 

Darkening each other ? 


THE CENCI. 


51 


ORSINO. 

Should the offender live ? 
Triumph in his misdeed ? and make, by use, 

His crime, whate’er it is, dreadful no doubt, 

Thine element ; until thou mayest become 
Utterly lost ; subdued even to the hue 
Of that which thou permittest ? 

BEATRICE {to her Self). 

Mighty death ! 

Thou douhle-visaged shadow ! Only judge ! 

Eightfullest arbiter ! 

[She retires, absorbed in thought. 

LUCRETIA. 

If the lightning 
Of God has e’er descended to avenge — 


ORSINO. 

Blaspheme not ! His high Providence commits 
Its glory on this earth, and their own wrongs 
Into the hands of men ; if they neglect 
To punish crime — 

LUCRETIA. 

But if one, like this wretch. 
Should mock, with gold, opinion, law, and power? 

If there he no appeal to that which makes 
The guiltiest tremble ! If, because our wrongs, 

For that they are unnatural, strange, and monstrous. 
Exceed all measure of belief ? Oh, God ! 

If, for the very reasons which should make 
Eedress most swift and sure, our injurer triumphs ? 
And we, the victims, bear worse punishment 
Than that appointed for their torturer ? 


ORSINO. 
E 2 


Think not 


liiMiiVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
L3RARY 


5*2 


THE CENCI. 


But that there is redress where there is wi’ong. 

O' 

So we be hold enough to seize it. 


LUCEETIA. 

How? 

If there were any way to make all sure, 

I know not — but I think it might be good 
To— 

ORsnfo. 

TVTiy, his late outrage to Beatrice ; 
For it is such, as I but faintly guess, 

As makes remorse dishonour, and leaves her 
Only one duty, how she may avenge : 

You, but one refuge from ills ill endured ; 
Me, but one counsel — 


LUCRETIA. 

For we cannot hope 
That aid, or retribution, or resource 
Will arise thence, where every other one 
Might find them with less need. 

(Beatrice advances.) 

ORSIVO. 

Then — 

BEATRICE. 

Peace, Orsino ! 

And, honoured Lady, while I speak, I pray. 

That you put off, as garments overworn. 

Forbearance and respect, remorse and fear, 

And all the fit restraints of daily life. 

Which have been borne from childhood, but which now' 
Would be a mockery to my holier plea. 

As I have said, I have endured a vrrong. 

Which, though it be expressionless, is such 
As asks atonement, both for what is past, 


THE CENCI. 


And lest I be reserved, day after day, 

To load with crimes an overburthened soul. 

And be — what ye can dream not. I have prayed 
To God, and I have talked with my own heart, 

And have unravelled my entangled will. 

And have at length determined what is right. 

Art thou my friend, Orsino ? False or true ? 

Pledge thy salvation ere I speak. 

ORSINO. 

I swear 

To dedicate my cunning, and my strength, 

My silence, and whatever else is mine. 

To thy commands. 

LTJCRETIA. 

You think we should devise 

His death? 

BEATRICE. 

And execute what is devised. 

And suddenly. We must be brief and bold. 

ORSINO. 

And yet most cautious. 

LUCRETIA. 

For the jealous laws 

Would punish us with death and infamy 
For that which it became themselves to do. 

BEATRICE. 

Be cautious as ye may, but prompt. Orsino, 

What are the means ? 

ORSINO. 

I know two dull, fierce outlaws. 
Who think man’s spirit as a worm’s, and they 
Would trample out, for any slight caprice. 

The meanest or the noblest life. This mood 


54 


THE CENCI. 


Is marketable here in Rome. They sell 
What we now want. 

LUCRETIA. 

To-morrow, before dawn, 
Cenci will take us to that lonely rock, 

Petrella, in the Apulian Apennines. 

If he arrive there — 

BEATKICE. 

He must not anive. 

ORSINO. 

Will it be dark before you reach the tower ? 

LUCRETIA. 

The sun will scarce be set. 

BEATRICE. 

But I remember 

Two miles on this side of the fort, the road 
Crosses a deep ravine ; ’tis rough and narrow. 
And winds with short turns down the precipice ; 
And in its depth there is a mighty rock, 

WTiich has, from unimaginable years. 

Sustained itseK with terror and with toil 
Over a gulf, and with the agony 
With which it clings seems slowly coming down ; 
Even as a wretched soul hour after hour 
Clings to the mass of life ; yet, clinging, leans ; 
And, leaning, makes more dark the dread abyss 
In which it fears to fall : beneath this crag 
Huge as despair, as if in weariness. 

The melancholy mountain yawns — below. 

You hear but see not an impetuous torrent 
Raging among the caverns, and a bridge 
Crosses the chasm ; and high above there grow. 
With intersecting trunks, from crag to crag. 


THE CENCI. 


55 


Cedars, and yews, and pines ; whose tangled hair 
Is matted in one solid roof of shade 
By the dark ivy’s twine. At noon-day here 
’Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest night. 

ORSINO. 

Before you reach that bridge make some excuse 
For spurring on your mules, or loitering 
Until— 

BEATRICE. 

What sound is that ? 

LUCRETIA. 

Hark ! No, it cannot he a servant s step ; 

It must be Cenci, unexpectedly 

Betumed — Make some excuse for being here. 

BEATRICE {to Orsino OS she goes out). 

That step we hear approach must never pass 
The bridge of which we spoke. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

ORSINO. 

What shall I do ? 

Cenci must find me here, and I must hear 
The imperious inquisition of his looks 
As to what brought me hither : let me mask 
Mine own in some inane and vacant smile. 

Enter Giacomo, in a hurried manner. 

How ! Have you ventured thither ? know you then 
That Cenci is from home ? 

GIACOMO. 

I sought him here ; 

And now must wait till he returns. 


66 


THE CENCI. 


ORSINO. 

Great God ! 

Weigh you the danger of this rashness ? 

GIACOMO. 

Ay! 

Does my destroyer know his danger? We 
Are now no more, as once, parent and child. 

But man to man ; the oppressor to the oppressed ; 
The slanderer to the slandered ; foe to foe. 

He has cast Nature off, which was his shield, 

And Nature casts him off, who is her shame ; 

And I spurn both. Is it a father’s throat 
Which I will shake ? and say, I ask not gold ; 

I ask not happy years ; nor memories 
Of tranquil childhood ; nor home-sheltered love ; 
Though all these hast thou torn from me, and more : 
But only my fair fame ; only one hoard 
Of peace, which I thought hidden from thy hate. 
Under the penmy heaped on me by thee ; 

Or I will — God can understand and pardon, 

Why should I speak with man ? 

ORSINO. 

Be calm, dear friend. 


GIACOMO. 

Well, I will calmly tell you what he did. 

This old Francesco Cenci, as you know, 

Borrowed the dowry of my wife from me. 

And then denied the loan ; and left me so 
In poverty, the which I sought to mend 
By holding a poor office in the state. 

It had been promised to me, and already 
I bought new clothing for my ragged babes, 

And my wife smiled ; and my heart knew repose ; 


THE CENCI. 


When C end’s intercession, as I found, 

Conferred this office on a wretch, whom thus 
He paid for vilest service. I returned 
With this ill news, and we sate sad together 
Solacing our despondency with tears 
Of such affection and unbroken faith 
As temper life’s worst bitterness ; when he. 

As he is wont, came to upbraid and curse. 

Mocking our poverty, and telling us 
Such was God’s scourge for disobedient sons. 

And then, that I might strike him dumb with shame, 
I spoke of my wife’s dowry ; but he coined 
A brief yet specious tale, how I had wasted 
The sum in secret riot ; and he saw 
My wife was touched, and he went smiling forth. 

And when I knew the impression he had made, 

And felt my wife insult with silent scorn 
My ardent truth, and look averse and cold, 

I went forth too : but soon returned again ; 

Yet not so soon but that my wife had taught 
My children her harsh thoughts, and they all cried, 

“ Give us clothes, father ! Give us better food ! 

What you in one night squander vrere enough 
For months ! ” I looked and saw that home was hell. 
And to that hell will I return no more, 

Until mine enemy has rendered up 
Atonement, or, as he gave life to me, 

I will, reversing nature’s law — 

ORSINO. 

Trust me. 

The compensation which thou seekest here 
Will be denied. 

GIACOMO. 

Then — Are you not my friend? 


58 


THE CENCI. 


Did you not hint at the alternative, 

Upon the brink of which you see I stand, 

The other day when we conversed together ? 

My wrongs were then less. That word parricide. 
Although I am resolved, haunts me like fear. 


ORSINO. 

It must he fear itself, for the hare word 
Is hollow mockery. Mark, how wisest God 
Draws to one point the threads of a just doom, 

So sanctifying it : what you devise 
Is, as it were, accomplished. 

GIACOMO. 

Is he dead ? 

ORSINO. 

His grave is ready. Know that since w'e met 
Cenci has done an outrage to his daughter. 

GIACOMO. 

What outrage ? 

ORSINO. 

That she speaks not, hut you may 
Conceive such half conjectures as I do, 

From her fixed paleness, and the lofty grief 
Of her stem brow, bent on the idle air. 

And her severe unmodulated voice. 

Drowning both tenderness and dread ; and last 
From this ; that whilst her step-mother and I, 
Bewildered in our horror, talk together 
With obscure hints ; both self- misunderstood, 

And darkly guessing, stumbling, in our talk. 

Over the truth, and yet to its revenge. 

She interrupted us, and with a look 
Which told, before she spoke it, he must die — 


THE CENCI. 


59 


GIACOMO. 

It is enough. My doubts are well appeased ; 

There is a higher reason for the act 
Than mine ; there is a holier judge than me, 

A more unblamed avenger. Beatrice, 

Who in the gentleness of thy sweet youth 
Hast never trodden on a worm, or bruised 
A living flower, but thou hast pitied it 
With needless tears ! Fair sister, thou in whom 
Men w’ondered how such loveliness and wisdom 
Did not destroy each other ! Is there made 
Eavage of thee ? 0, heart, I ask no more 

Justification ! Shall I wait, Orsino, 

Till he return, and stab him at the door ? 

ORSINO. 

Not so ; some accident might interpose 
To rescue him from what is now most sure ; 

And you are unprovided where to fly. 

How to excuse or to conceal. Nay, listen : 

All is contrived ; success is so assured 
That — 

Enter Beatrice. 

BEATRICE. 

’Tis my brother’s voice ! You know me not? 

GIACOMO. 

My sister, my lost sister ! 

BEATRICE. 

Lost indeed ! 

I see Orsino has talked with you, and 

That you conjecture things too horrible 

To speak, yet far less than the truth. Now, stay not, 

He might return : yet kiss me ; I shall know 


60 


THE CENCI. 


That then thou has consented to his death 
Farewell, farewell ! Let piety to God, 

Brotherly love, justice and clemency. 

And all things that make tender hardest hearts. 

Make thine hard, brother. Answer not — ^farewell. 

[Exeunt severally. 


SCENE II. 

A mean Apartment in Giacomo’s House. 

Giacomo alone. 

GIACOMO. 

Tis midnight, and Orsino comes not yet. 

[Thunder f and the sound of a storm. 
What ! can the everlasting elements 
Feel with a worm like man ? If so, the shaft 
Of mercy- winged lightning would not fall 
On stones and trees. My wife and children sleep : 

They are now living in unmeaning dreams : 

But I must wake, still doubting if that deed 
Be just which was most necessary. O, 

Thou unreplenished lamp ! whose narrow fire 
Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge 
Devouring darkness hovers ! Thou small flame, 

Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls. 

Still flickerest up and down, how very soon. 

Did I not feed thee, wouldst thou fail and be 
As thou hadst never been ! So wastes and sinks 
Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled mine : 

But that no power can fill with vital oil 
That broken lamp of flesh. Ha ! ’tis the blood 
Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is cold : 

It is the form that moulded mine, that sinks 


THE CENCI. 


61 


Into the white and yellow spasms of death : 

It is the soul by which mine was arrayed 
In God s immortal likeness which now stands 
Naked before Heaven’s judgment-seat ! 

[A hell strikes. 
One ! Tw'o ! 

The hours crawl on ; and when my hairs are white 
My son will then perhaps be waiting thus, 

Tortured between just hate and vain remorse ; 

Chiding the tardy messenger of news 
Like those which I expect. I almost wish 
He be not dead, although my wrongs are great ; 

Yet — ’tis Orsino’s step. 

Enter Orsino. 


Speak ! 


To say he has escaped. 


ORSINO. 

I am come 

GIACOMO. 

Escaped ! 


ORSINO. 

And safe 

Within Petrella. He passed by the spot 
Appointed for the deed an hour too soon. 


GIACOMO. 

Are we the fools of such contingencies ? 

And do we waste in blind misgivings thus 
The hours when we should act ? Then wind and thunder, 
Which seemed to howl his knell, is the loud laughter 
With which Heaven mocks our weakness ! I henceforth 
Will ne’er repent of aught designed or done. 

But my repentance. 


62 


THE CENCI. 


ORSINO. 

See, the lamp is out. 

GIACOMO. 

If no remorse is ours when the dim air 
Has drank this innocent flame, why should we quail 
When C end’s life, that light by which ill spirits 
See the worst deeds they prompt, shall sink for ever 
No, I am hardened. 

ORSINO. 

Why, what need of this ? 

Who feared the pale intrusion of remorse 
In a just deed ? Although our first plan failed. 

Doubt not hut he will soon be laid to rest. 

But light the lamp ; let us not talk i’ the dark. 

GIACOMO (lighting the lamp). 

And yet, once quenched, I cannot thus relume 
My father’s life : do you not think his ghost 
Might plead that argument with God? 

ORSINO. 

Once gone. 

You cannot now recall your sister’s peace ; 

Your own extinguished years of youth and hope ; 

Nor your mfe’s bitter words ; nor all the taunts 
Which, from the prosperous, weak misfortune takes ; 
Nor your dead mother; nor — 

GIACOMO. 

0, speak no more ! 

I am resolved, although this very hand 
Must quench the life that animated it. 

ORSINO. 

There is no need of that. Listen : you know 
Olimpio, the castellan of Petrella 


THE CENCI. 


63 


In old Colonna s time ; him whom your ather 
Degraded from his post ? And Marzio, 

That desperate wretch, whom he deprived last year 
Of a reward of blood, well earned and due ? 

GIACOMO. 

1 knew Olimpio ; and they say he hated 
Old Cenci so, that in his silent rage 
His lips grew white only to see him pass. 

Of Marzio I know nothing. 

ORSINO. 

Marzio ’s hate 

Matches Olimpio s. I have sent these men. 

But in your name, and as at your request, 

To talk with Beatrice and Lucre tia. 

GIACOMO. 

Only to talk ? 

ORSINO. 

The moments which even now 
Pass onward to to-morrow’s midnight hour. 

May memorise their flight with death : ere then 
They must have talked, and may perhaps have done, 

And made an end. 

GIACOMO. 

Listen ! What sound is that ? 

ORSINO. 

The house-dog moans, and the beams crack : nought else. 

GIACOMO. 

It is my wife complaining in her sleep : 

I doubt not she is saying bitter things 

Of me ; and all my children round her dreaming 

That I deny them sustenance. 


64 


THE CENCI. 


ORSINO. 

Whilst he 

W^ho truly took it from them, and who fills 
Their hungry rest with bitterness, now sleeps 
Lapped in had pleasures, and triumphantly 
Mocks thee in visions of successful hate 
Too like the truth of day. 

GIACOMO. 

If e’er he wakes 
Again, I will not trust to hireling hands — 

ORSINO. 

W^hy, that were well. I must he gone ; good night ! 
W^hen next w^e meet may all be done ! 


GIACOMO. 

And all 

I’orgotten : Oh, that I had never been ! 


[Exeunt. 


END OF THE THIRD ACT. 


THE CENCI. 


65 


ACT IV. 

Scene I . — An Apartment in the Castle of Petr ella. 


Enter Cenci. 

CENCI. 

She comes not ; yet I left her even now 
Vanquished and faint. She knows the penalty 
Of her delay ; yet what if threats are vain ? 

Am I not now within Petrella’s moat ? 

Or fear I still the eyes and ears of Eome ? 

Might I not drag her by the golden hair ? 

Stamp on her ? Keep her sleepless, till her brain 
Be overworn ? Tame her with chains and famine ? 
Less would suffice. Yet so to leave undone 
What I most seek ! No, ’tis her stubborn will, 

Which, by its own consent, shall stoop as low 
As that which drags it down. 

Enter Lucretia. 

Thou loathed wretch ! 

Hide thee from my abhorrence ; fly, begone ! 

Yet stay! Bid Beatrice come hither. 

LUCRETIA. 

Oh, 

Husband 1 I pray, for thine own wretched sake. 

Heed what thou dost. A man who walks like thee 
Through crimes, and through the danger of his crimes, 

VOL. II. V 


66 


THE CENCI. 


Each hour may stumble o’er a sudden grave. 

And thou art old ; thy hairs are hoary grey ; 

As thou wouldst save thyself from death and hell, 

Pity thy daughter ; give her to some friend 
In marriage ; so that she may tempt thee not 
To hatred, or worse thoughts, if worse there he. 

CENCI. 

What ! like her sister, who has found a home 
To mock my hate from with prosperity ? 

Strange ruin shall destroy both her and thee, 

And all that yet remain. My death may be 
Rapid, her destiny outspeeds it. Go, 

Bid her come hither, and before my mood 
Be changed, lest I should di*ag her by the hair. 

LTJCRETIA. 

She sent me to thee, husband. At thy presence 
She fell, as thou dost know, into a trance ; 

And in that trance she heard a voice which said, 

“ Cenci must die ! Let him confess himself ! 

Even now the accusing angel waits to hear 
If God, to punish his enormous crimes, 

Harden his dying heart ! ” 

CENCI. 

Why — such things are : 

No doubt divine revealings may be made. 

’Tis plain I have been favoured from above, 

For when I cursed my sons, they died. — Ay — so — 

As to the right or wrong, that ’s talk — repentance — 
Repentance is an easy moment’s work. 

And more depends on God than me. Well — well — 

I must give up the greater point, which was 
To poison and corrupt her soul. 

[A pause; Lucretia approaxihes anxiously j and then shrinhs 
hack as he speaks. 


THE CENCl. 


67 


One, two ; 

Ay — Rocco and Cristofano my curse 
Strangled : and Giacomo, I think, will find 
Life a worse Hell than that beyond the grave : 
Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate. 

Die in despair, blaspheming : to Bernardo, 

He is so innocent, I will bequeath 
The memory of these deeds, and make his youth 
The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts 
Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb. 
When all is done, out in the wide Campagna, 

I will pile up my silver and my gold ; 

My costly robes, paintings, and tapestries ; 

My parchments, and all records of my wealth ; 
And make a bonfire in my joy, and leave 
Of my possessions nothing but my name ; 

Which shall be an inheritance to strip 
Its wearer bare as infamy. That done, 

My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign 
Into the hands of him who wielded it ; 

Be it for its own punishment or theirs. 

He will not ask it of me till the lash 
Be broken in its last and deepest wound ; 

Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet, 

Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me make 
Short work and sure. 

Lucretia {stops him). 

Oh, stay ! It was a feint : 
She had no vision, and she heard no voice. 

I said it but to awe thee. 


CENCI. 

That is well. 

Vile palterer with the sacred truth of God, 

Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming lie ! 

F 2 


[Going. 


68 


THE CENCI. 


For Beatrice, worse terrors are in store, 
To bend her to my will. 


LTJCRETIA. 

Oh ! to what will ? 

What cruel sufferings, more than she has known, 

Canst thou inflict ? 

CENCI. 

Andrea ! go, call my daughter, 
And if she comes not, tell her that I come. 

What sufferings ? I will drag her, step by step, 
Through infamies unheard of among men ; 

She shall stand shelterless in the broad noon 
Of public scorn, for acts blazoned abroad, 

One among which shall be — What ? Canst thou guess 

She shall become (for what she most abhors 

Shall have a fascination to entrap 

Her loathing will), to her own conscious self 

All she appears to others ; and when dead. 

As she shall die unshrived and unforgiven, 

A rebel to her father and her God, 

Her corpse shall be abandoned to the hounds ; 

Her name shall be the terror of the earth ; 

Her sphit shall approach the throne of God 
Plague-spotted with my curses. I will make 
Body and soul a monstrous lump of ruin. 

Enter Andrea. 

ANDREA. 

The lady Beatrice — 

CENCI* 

Speak, pale slave ! What 

Said she ^ 

ANDREA. 

My lord, ’twas what she looked ; she said 


THE CENCI. 


69 


“ Go tell my father that I see the gulf 
Of Hell between us two, which he may pass ; 

I will not.” [Exit Andrea. 

CENCI. 

Go thou quick, Lucretia, 

Tell her to come ; yet let her understand 
Her coming is consent : and say, moreover, 

That if she come not I will curse her. 

[Exit Lucretia. 

Ha! 

With what but with a father s curse doth God 
Panic-strike armed victory, and make pale 
Cities in their prosperity ? The world s Father 
Must grant a parent’s prayer against his child. 

Be he who asks even what men call me. 

Will not the deaths of her rebellious brothers 
Awe her before I speak ? For I on them 
Did imprecate quick ruin, and it came. 

Enter Lucretia. 

Well; what? Speak, wretch ! 

lucretia. 

She said, “ I cannot come ; 
Go tell my father that I see a torrent 
Of his own blood raging between us.” 

CENCI {kneeling). 

God ! 

Hear me ! If this most specious mass of flesh, 

Which thou hast made my daughter ; this my blood. 

This particle of my divided being ; 

Or rather, this my bane and my disease. 

Whose sight infects and poisons me ; this devil, 

Which sprung from me as from a hell, was meant 


70 


THE CENCI. 


To aught good use ; if her bright loveliness 
Was kindled to illumine this dark world ; 

If nursed by thy selectest dew of love, 

Such virtues blossom in her as should make 
The peace of life, I pray thee for my sake, 

As thou the common God and Father art 
Of her, and me, and all ; reverse that doom ! 

Earth, in the name of God, let her food be 
Poison, until she he encrusted round 
With leprous stains ! Heaven, rain upon her head 
The blistering drops of the Maremma’s dew. 

Till she be speckled like a toad ; parch up 
Those love-enkmdled lips, warp those fine limbs 
To loathed lameness ! All-beholding sun. 

Strike in thine envy those life-darting eyes 
With thine own blinding beams ! 

LVCRETIA. 

Peace ! peace ! 

For thine own sake unsay those dreadful words. 

When high God grants, he punishes such prayers. 

CENCI (Reaping up, and throwing his right hand towards Heaven), 
He does his will, I mine ! This in addition. 

That if she have a child 

LUCRETTA. 

Horrible thought ! 

CENCI. 

That if she ever have a child ; and thou. 

Quick Nature ! I adjure thee by thy God, 

That thou be fruitful in her, and increase 
And multiply, fulfilling his command. 

And my deep imprecation ! May it be 
A hideous likeness of herself; that as 


THE CENCI. 


71 


From a distorting mirror, she may see 
Her image mixed with what she most abhors, 

Smiling upon her from her nursing breast. 

And that the child may from its infancy 
Grow, day by day, more wicked and deformed. 

Turning her mother’s love to misery : 

And that both she and it may live, until 
It shall repay her care and pain with hate. 

Or what may else be more unnatural. 

So he may hunt her through the clamorous scoffs 
Of the loud world to a dishonoured grave. 

Shall I revoke this curse ? Go, bid her come. 

Before my words are chronicled in heaven. 

[Exit Lucretia. 

I do not feel as if I were a man, 

But like a fiend appointed to chastise 
The offences of some unremembered world. 

My blood is running up and down my veins ! 

A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tingle : 

I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe ; 

My heart is beating with an expectation 
Of horrid joy. 

Enter Lucretia. 

What? Speak! 

LUCRETIA. 

She bids thee curse ; 

And if thy curses, as they cannot do, 

Could kill her soul — 

CENCI. 

She would not come. ’Tis well, 

I can do both : first take what I demand. 

And then extort concession. To thy chamber ! 

Fly ere I spurn thee : and beware this night 
That thou cross not my footsteps. It were safer 


72 THE CENCI. 

To come between the tiger and his prey. 

[Uxit Ltjcretia. 

It must be late ; mine eyes grow weary dim 
With unaccustomed heaviness of sleep. 

Conscience ! Oh, thou most insolent of lies ! 

They say that sleep, that healing dew of heaven, 

Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain 
Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go, 

First to belie thee with an hour of rest, 

Which will be deep and calm, I feel ; and then — - 
O, multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake 
Thine arches with the laughter of their joy ! 

There shall be lamentation heard in Heaven 
As o’er an angel fallen ; and upon Earth 
All good shall droop and sicken, and ill things 
Shall, with a spirit of unnatural life. 

Stir and be quickened — even as I am now. 

[Uxtt. 


SCENE II. 

Before the Castle of Petrella. 


Enter Beatrice and Lucretia above on the ramparts. 

BEATRICE. 

They come not yet. 

LUCRETIA. 

’Tis scarce midnight. 


BEATRICE. 

How slow 

Behind the course of thought, even sick with speed, 
Lags leaden-footed Time ! 


THE CENCI. 


73 


LUCRETIA. 

The minutes pass — 

If he should wake before the deed is done ? 

BEATRICE. 

0, mother ! He must never wake again. 

What thou hast said persuades me that our act 
Will hut dislodge a spirit of deep hell 
Out of a human form. 

LUCRETIA. 

’Tis tme he spoke 

Of death and judgment with strange confidence 
For one so wicked ; as a man believing 
In God, yet recking not of good or ill. 

And yet to die without confession ! — 

BEATRICE. 

Oh! 

Believe that Heaven is merciful and just, 

And will not add our dread necessity 
To the amount of his offences. 


Enter Olimpio and Marzio, below. 


LUCRETIA. 


They come. 


See, 

BEATRICE. 


All mortal things must hasten thus 
To their dark end. Let us go down. 

\Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice from above. 


OLIMPIO. 

How feel you to this work ? 

MARZIO. 

As one who thinks 


74 


THE CENCI. 


A thousand crowns excellent market price 

For an old murderer’s life. Your cheeks are pale. 

OLIMPIO. 

It is the white reflection of your own, 

Which you call pale. 

MARZIO. 

Is that their natural hue ? 

OLIMPIO. 

Or ’tis my hate, and the deferred desire 
To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood. 

MARZIO. 

You are inclined then to this business ? 

OLIMPIO. 

Ay, 

If one should bribe me with a thousand crowns 
To kill a serpent which had stung my child, 

I could not be more willing. 

Enter Beatrice and Lucretia below. 

Noble ladies ! 


Are ye resolved ? 


BEATRICE. 

OLIMPIO. 

Is he asleep ? 


Quiet ? 


MARZIO. 

Is all 


LUCRETIA. 

I mixed an opiate with his drink : 

He sleeps so soundly — 

BEATRICE. 

That his death will be 


THE CENCI, 


75 


But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, 

A dark continuance of the Hell within him, 

Which God extinguish ! But ye are resolved ? 

Ye know it is a high and holy deed ? 

OLIMPIO. 

We are resolved. 

MARZIO. 

As to the how this act 
Be warranted, it rests with you. 

BEATRICE. 

Well, follow ! 

OLIMPIO. 

Hush ! Hark ! What noise is that ? 

MARZIO. 

Ha ! some one comes ! 

BEATRICE. 

Ye conscience-stricken cravens, rock to rest 
Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate, 

Which ye left open, smnging to the wind, 

That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, follow ! 

And be your steps like mine, light, quick, and bold. 

[Exeunt 


SCENE III. 

An Apartment in the Castle. 
Enter Beatrice and Lucretia. 

LUCRETIA. 

They are about it now. 

BEATRICE. 

Nay, it is done. 


76 


THE CENCI, 


LUCRETIA. 

I have not heard him groan. 


BEATRICE. 

He will not groan. 

LUCRETIA. 

What sound is that ? 

BEATRICE. 

List ! ’tis the tread of feet 

About his bed. 


LUCRETIA. 

My God ! 

If he he now a cold stiff coi’pse — 


BEATRICE. 

O, fear not 

What may be done, but what is left undone : 
The act seals all. 


Enter Olimpio and Marzio, 

Is it accomplished ? 

MARZIO. 

AVhat ? 

OLIMPIO. 

Hid you not call ? 

BEATRICE. 

When? 

OLIMPIO. 

Now. 

BEATRICE. 

I ask if all is over 

OLIMPIO. 

We dare not kill an old and sleeping man ; 


THE CENCI. 


77 


His thin grey hair, his stern and reverent brow, 

His veined hands crossed on his heaving breast. 

And the calm innocent sleep in which he lay. 

Quelled me. Indeed, indeed, I cannot do it. 

MARZIO. 

But I was bolder ; for I chid Olimpio, * 

And bade him bear his wrongs to his own grave, 

And leave me the reward. And now my knife 
Touched the loose wrinkled throat, when the old man 
Stirred in his sleep, and said, “ God ! hear, 0 hear, 

A father’s curse ! What, art thou not our father ? ” 

And then he laughed. I knew it was the ghost 
Of my dead father speaking through his lips. 

And could not kill him. 

BEATRICE. 

Miserable slaves ! 

Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man. 

Found ye the boldness to return to me 
With such a deed undone ? Base palterers ! 

Cowards and traitors ! Why, the very conscience 
Which ye would sell for gold and for revenge 
Is an equivocation : it sleeps over 
A thousand daily acts disgracing men ; 

And when a deed, where mercy insults Heaven — 

Why do I talk ? 

[Snatching a dagger from one of them, and raising it. 
Hadst thou a tongue to say. 

She murdered her own father, I must do it ! 

But never dream ye shall outlive him long ! 


Stop, for God’s sake ! 


OLIMPIO. 

MARZIO. 

I will go back and kill him. 


78 


THE CENCI. 


OLIMPIO. 

Give me the weapon, we must do thy wilL- 

BEATRICE. 

Take it ! Depart ! Eeturn ! 

[Exeunt Olimpio and Marsio. 
^ How pale thou art ! 

We do hut that which ’twere a deadly crime 
To leave undone. 

LTJCRETIA. 

Would it were done ! 

BEATRICE. 

Even whilst 

That doubt is passing through your mind, the world 
Is conscious of a change. Darkness and hell 
Have swallowed up the vapour they sent forth 
To blacken the sweet light of life. My breath 
Comes, methinks, lighter, and the jellied blood 
Runs freely through my veins. Hark ! 

Enter Olimpio and Marzio, 

He is — 

OLIMPIO. 

Dead ! 

MARZIO. 

AVe strangled him, that there might he no blood ; 

And then we threw his heav}^ corpse i’ the garden 
Under the balcony ; ’twill seem it fell. 

BEATRICE {giving them a hag of coin). 

Here take this gold, and hasten to your homes. 

And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed 
By that which made me tremble, wear thou tins ! 

[Clothes him in a rich mantle. 
It was the mantle which my grandfather 


THE CENCI. 


79 


Wore in his high prosperity, and men 
Envied his state : so may they envy thine. 

Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God 

To a just use. Live long and thrive ! And, mark, 

If thou hast crimes, repent : this deed is none. 

[A horn is sounded. 

LUCRETIA. 

Hark, ’tis the castle horn : my God ! it sounds 
Like the last trump. 

BEATRICE. 

Some tedious guest is coming. 

LUCRETIA. 

The drawbridge is let down ; there is a tramp 
Of horses in the court ! fly, hide yourselves ! 

[Exeunt Olimpio and Marzio. 

BEATRICE. 

Let US retire to counterfeit deep rest ; 

I scarcely need to counterfeit it now ; 

The spirit which doth reign within these limbs 
Seems strangely undisturbed. I could even sleep 
Fearless and calm : all ill is surely past. 

[Exeu7it. 


SCENE ly. 

Another Apartment in the Castle. 

Enter on one side the Legate Savella, introduced by a Servant, and 
on the other Lucretia and Bernardo. 

SAVELLA. 

Lady, my duty to his Holiness 
Be my excuse that thus unseasonably 
I break upon your rest. I must speak with 
Count Cenci ; doth he sleep ? 


80 


THE CENCI. 


LUCRETiA (w a hurried and confused manner), 

I think he sleeps ; 

Yet, wake him not, I pray, spare me awhile, 

He is a wicked and a wrathful man ; 

Should he he roused out of his sleep to-night. 

Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams. 

It were not well ; indeed it were not well. 

Wait till day-break, — 

{Aside) 0, I am deadly sick ! 

SA VELLA. 

I grieve thus to distress you, hut the Count 
Must answer charges of the gravest import. 

And suddenly ; such my commission is. 

LUCRETiA {with increased agitaiion). 

I dare not rouse him, I know none who dare ; 

’Twere perilous ; — ^you might as safely waken 
A serpent ; or a corpse in which some fiend 
Were laid to sleep. 

SA VELLA. 

Lady, my moments here 
Are counted. I must rouse him from his sleep. 

Since none else dare. 

LUCRETIA {asid^. 

O, terror ! 0, despair ! 

{To Bernardo.) Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to 
Your father’s chamber. 

{Exeunt Savella and Bernardo. 
Enter Beatrice. 

BEATRICE. 

’Tis a messenger 
Come to arrest the culprit who now stands 
Before the throne of unappealable God. 


THE CENCI. 


81 


Both Earth and Heaven, consenting arbiters, 

Acquit our deed. 

LUCEETIA. 

Oh, agony of fear ! 

Would that he yet might live ! Even now I heard 
The legate s followers whisper as they passed 
They had a warrant for his instant death. 

All was prepared by unforbidden means, 

Which we must pay so dearly, having done. 

Even now they search the tower, and find the body ; 

Now they suspect the truth ; now they consult, 

Before they come to tax us with the fact 

0 horrible, ’tis all discovered ! 

BEATRICE. 

Mother, 

What is done wisely, is done well. Be bold 
As thou art just. ’Tis like a truant child, 

To fear that others know what thou hast done. 

Even from thine own strong consciousness, and thus 
Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks 
All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to thyself. 

And fear no other witness but thy fear. 

For if, as cannot be, some circumstance 
Should rise in accusation, we can blind 
Suspicion with such cheap astonishment, 

Or overbear it with such guiltless pride, 

As murderers cannot feign. The deed is done. 

And what may follow now regards not me. 

1 am as universal as the light ; 

Free as the earth-surrounding air ; as firm 
As the world’s centre. Consequence, to me, 

Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock, 

But shakes it not. 

[A cry ivithin and tumidt. 

VOL. II. G 


82 


THE CENCI. 


VOICES. 

Murder ! Murder ! Murder ! 

Enter Bernaedo and Savella. 
s A VELLA {to Ms followevs). 

(to, search the castle round ; sound the alarm ; 

Look to the gates, that none escape ! 

BEATRICE. 

What now ? 

BERNARDO. 

I know not what to say — my father’s dead. 

BEATRICE. 

How, dead ? he only sleeps ; you mistake, brother. 

His sleep is very calm, very like death ; 

’Tis wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps. 

He is not dead ? 

BERNARDO. 

Head; murdered! 

LucRETiA {with extreme agitation). 

Oh, no, no. 

He is not murdered, though he may he dead ; 

I have alone the keys of those apartments. 

SAVELLA. 

Ha ! Is it so ? 

BEATRICE. 

My lord, I pray excuse us ; 

We will retire ; my mother is not well ; 

She seems quite overcome with this strange horror. 

[Exeunt Lucretia and Beatrice. 

SAVELLA. 

Can you suspect who may have murdered him ? 

BERNARDO. 

I know not what to think. 


THE CENCI. 


83 


SA VELLA. 

Can you name any 
Who had an interest in his death ? 

BERNAKDO. 

Alas! 

I can name none who had not, and those most 
Who most lament that such a deed is done ; 

My mother, and my sister, and myself. 

SA VELLA. 

’Tis strange I There were clear marks of violence. 

I found the old man’s body in the moonlight. 

Hanging beneath the window of his chamber 
Among the branches of a pine : he could not 
Have fallen there, for all his limbs lay heaped 
And effortless ; ’tis true there was no blood. — 

Favour me, sir — it much imports your house 
That all should be made clear — to tell the ladies 
That I request their presence. 

[Exit Bernardo. 

Enter Guards, bringing in Marzio. 

GUARD. 

We have one. 

OFFICER. 

My lord, we found this ruffian and another 
Lurking among the rocks ; there is no doubt 
But that they are the murderers of Count Cenci : 

Each had a bag of coin ; this fellow wore 
A gold-inwoven robe, which, shining bright 
Lender the dark rocks to the glimmering moon, 

Betrayed them to our notice : the other fell 
Desperately fighting. 

SAVELLA. 

What does he confess ? 


84 


THE CENCI. 


OFFICER. 

He keeps firm silence ; but these lines found on him 
May speak. 

SA VELLA. 

Their language is at least sincere. 

[Reads. 


To THE Lady Beatrice. 


“ That the atonement of what my nature sickens to con- 
jecture may soon arrive, I send thee, at thy brother’s desire, 
those who will speak and do more than I dare write. 

“ Thy devoted servant, 

Orsino.” 


Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Bernardo. 
Knowest thou this writing, lady? 


BEATRICE. 

No. 

SAVELLA. 

Nor thou ? 

LUCRETIA {her conduct throughout the scene is marhed by extreme 
agitation). 

Where was it found ? What is it ? It should be 
Orsino’s hand ! It speaks of that strange horror 
Which never yet found utterance, but which made 
Between that hapless child and her dead father 
A gulf of obscure hatred. 

SAVELLA. 

Is it so ? 

Is it true, lady, that thy father did 
Such outrages as to awaken in thee 
Unfilial hate ? 

BEATRICE. 

Not hate, ’twas more than hate ,* 

This is most true, yet wherefore question me ? 


THE CENCT. 


85 


SAVELLA. 

There is a deed demanding question done ; 

Thou hast a secret which will answer not. 

V BEATRICE. 

What sayest ? My lord, your words are hold and rash. 

SAVELLA. 

I do arrest all present in the name 

Of the Pope’s Holiness. You must to Rome. 

LUCRETIA. 

0, not to Rome ! Indeed we are not guilty. 

BEATRICE. 

Guilty ! Who dares talk of guilt ? My lord, 

I am more innocent of parricide 

Than is a child horn fatherless. Dear mother. 

Your gentleness and patience are no shield 
For this keen-judging world, this two-edged lie. 

Which seems, but is not. What ! will human laws. 
Rather will ye who are their ministers, 

Bar all access to retribution first. 

And then, when Heaven doth interpose to do 
What ye neglect, arming familiar things 
To the redress of an unwonted crime. 

Make ye the victims who demanded it 

Culprits ? ’Tis ye are culprits ! That poor wretch 

Who stands so pale, and trembling, and amazed. 

If it be true he murdered Cenci, was 
A sword in the right hand of justest God. 

Wherefore should I have wielded it ? unless 
The crimes which mortal tongue dare never name, 

God therefore scruples to avenge. 

SAVELLA. 


That you desired his death ? 


You own 


86 


THE CENCI. 


BEATRICE. 

It would have been 

A. crime no less than his, if for one moment 
That fierce desire had faded in my heart. 

’Tis true I did believe, and hope, and pray, 

Ay, I even knew — ^for God is wise and just. 

That some strange sudden death hung over him. 

’Tis tme that this did happen, and most true 
There was no other rest for me on earth. 

No other hope in Heaven ; — now what of this ? 

SAVELLA. 

Strange thoughts beget strange deeds ; and here are both : 
I judge thee not. 

BEATRICE. 

And yet, if you arrest me, 

You are the judge and executioner 
Of that which is the life of life : the breath 
Of accusation kills an innocent name. 

And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life. 

Which is a mask without it. ’Tis most false 
That I am guilty of foul parricide ; 

Although I must rejoice, for justest cause, 

That other hands have sent my father s soul 
To ask the mercy he denied to me. 

Now leave us free : stain not a noble house 
With vague suimises of rejected crime ; 

Add to our sufferings and your own neglect 
No heaGer sum ; let them have been enough : 

Leave us the wreck we have. 

SAVELLA. 

I dare not, lady. 

I pray that you prepare yourselves for Rome : 

There the Pope’s further pleasure will be known. 


THE CENCI. 


87 


LUCRETIA. 

0, not to Rome ! 0, take us not to Rome ! 

BEATRICE. 

Why not to Rome, dear mother ? There, as here. 

Our innocence is as an armed heel 
To trample accusation. God is there. 

As here, and with his shadow ever clothes 
The innocent, the injured, and the w^eak ; 

And such are we. Cheer up, dear lady ! lean 
On me ; collect your wandering thoughts. My lord. 

As soon as you have taken some refreshment. 

And had all such examinations made 
Upon the spot, as may be necessary 
To the full understanding of this matter, 

We shall he ready. Mother, will you come ? 

LUCRETIA. 

Ha ! they will bind us to the rack, and wrest 
Self-accusation from our agony ! 

Will Giacomo be there ? Orsino ? Marzio ? 

All present ; all confronted ; all demanding 
Each from the other’s countenance the thing 
Which is in every heart ! 0, misery ! 

\8he faintSy and is home out. 

SAVELLA. 

She faints ; an ill appearance this. 

BEATRICE. 

My lord. 

She knows not yet the uses of the world. 

She fears that power is as a beast which grasps 
And loosens not : a snake whose look transmutes 
All things to guilt, which is its nutriment. 

She cannot know how well the supine slaves 


88 


THE CENCI. 


Of blind authority read the truth of things 
When written on a brow of guilelessness : 

She sees not yet triumphant Innocence 
Stand at the judgment-seat of mortal man, 

A judge and an accuser of the wrong 

Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, my lord ; 

Our suite will join yours in the court below. 

\Exeunt. 


END OF THE FOURTH ACT. 


THE CENCI. 


89 


ACT V. 

Scene I. — An Apartment in Orsino’s Palace, 


Enter Orsino and Giacomo. 

GIACOMO. 

Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end ? 

0 that the vain remorse which must chastise 
Crimes done, had but as loud a voice to warn, 

As its keen sting is mortal to avenge ! 

O that the hour when present had cast off 
The mantle of its mystery, and shown 
The ghastly form with which it now returns 
When its scared game is roused, cheering the hounds 
Of conscience to their prey ! Alas, alas ! 

It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed. 

To kill an old and hoary-headed father. 

ORSINO. 

It has turned out unluckily, in truth. 

GIACOMO. 

To violate the sacred doors of sleep ; 

To cheat kind nature of the placid death 
Which she prepares for overwearied age ; 

To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul. 

Which might have quenched in reconciling prayers 
A life of burning crimes — 


90 


THE CENCI. 


ORSINO. 

You cannot say 

I urged you to the deed 

GIACOMO. 

0, had I never 

Found in thy smooth and ready countenance 
The mirror of my darkest thoughts ; hadst thou 
Never with hints and questions made me look 
Upon the monster of my thought, until 
It grew familiar to desire — 

ORSINO. 

’Tis thus 

Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts 
Upon the abettors of their own resolve ; 

Or any thing hut their weak, guilty selves. 

And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril 
In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness 
Of penitence ; confess, ’tis fear disguised 
From its own shame that takes the mantle now 
Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe ? 

GIACOMO. 

How can that be ? Already Beatrice, 

Lucretia, and the murderer, are in prison. 

I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak, 

Sent to arrest us. 

ORSINO. 

I have all prepared 

For instant flight. We can escape even now. 

So we take fleet occasion by the hair. 

GIACOMO. 

Bather expire in tortures, as I may. 

What ! will you cast by self-accusing flight 
Assured conviction upon Beatrice ? 


THE CENCI. 


91 


She who alone, in this unnatural w^ork, 

Stands like God’s angel ministered upon 
By fiends ; avenging such a nameless wrong 
As turns black parricide to piety ; 

Whilst we for basest ends — I fear, Orsino, 

While I consider all your words and looks. 

Comparing them with your proposal now. 

That you must he a villain. For what end 
Could you engage in such a perilous crime, 

Training me on with hints, and signs, and smiles, 

Even to this gulf? Thou art no liar ? No, 

Thou art a lie ! Traitor and murderer ! 

Coward and slave ! But no — defend thyself ; 

\_Dravnng. 

Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue 
Disdains to brand thee with. 

OKSINO. 

Put up your weapon. 

Is it the desperation of your fear 

Makes you thus rash and sudden with your friend, 

Now ruined for your sake ? If honest anger 
Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed 
Was hut to try you. As for me, I tWk 
Thankless affection led me to this point. 

From which, if my firm temper could repent, 

I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak. 

The ministers of justice wait below : 

They grant me these brief moments. Now, if you 
Have any word of melancholy comfort 
To speak to your pale wife, ’twere best to pass 
Out at the postern, and avoid them so. 

GIACOMO. 

Oh, generous friend ! How canst thou pardon me ? 

Would that my life could purchase thine ! 


92 


THE CENCI. 


ORSINO. 

That wish 

Now comes a day too late. Haste ; fare thee well ! 

Hear’st thou not steps along the corridor ? 

[Exit Giacomo. 

I’m sorry for it ; hut the guards are waiting 
At his owm gate, and such was my contrivance 
That I might rid me both of him and them. 

I thought to act a solemn comedy 
Upon the painted scene of this new world, 

And to attain my own peculiar ends 

By some such plot of mingled good and ill 

As others weave ; but there arose a Power 

Which grasped and snapped the threads of my device, 

And turned it to a net of ruin — Ha ! 

[A shout is heard. 

Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad ? 

But I will pass, wrapt in a vile disguise ; 

Bags on my back, and a false innocence 
Upon my face, through the misdeeming crowd. 

Which judges by what seems. ’Tis easy then, 

For a new name, and for a country new. 

And a new life, fashioned on old desires, 

To change the honours of abandoned Home. 

And these must be the masks of that within. 

Which must remain imaltered. — Oh, I fear 
That what is past will never let me rest ! 

Why, when none else is conscious, but myself. 

Of my misdeeds, should my own heart’s contempt 
Trouble me ? Have I not the power to fly 
My own reproaches ? Shall I be the slave 
Of — what ? A word ! which those of this false world 
Employ against each other, not themselves ; 

As men wear daggers not for self-offence. 

But if I am mistaken, where shall I 


THE CENCI. 


93 


Find the disguise to hide me from myself, 

As now I skulk from every other eye ? 

[Exit. 


SCENE II. 

A Hall of Justice. 

Camillo, Judges, etc.y are discovered seated ; Marzio is led in. 

FIRST JUDGE. 

Accused, do you persist in your denial ? 

I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty ? 

I demand who were the participators 

In your offence ? Speak truth, and the whole truth. 

MARZIO. 

My God ! I did not kill him ; I know nothing ; 

Olimpio sold the robe to me from which 
You would infer my guilt. 

SECOND JUDGE. 

Away with him ! 

FIRST JUDGE. 

Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack’s kiss. 

Speak false ? Is it so soft a questioner. 

That you would bandy lovers’ talk with it, 

Till it wind out your life and soul ? Away ! 

MARZIO. 

Spare me ! 0, spare ! I will confess. 

FIRST JUDGE. 

Then speak. 

MARZIO. 

I strangled him in his sleep. 


94 


THE CENCI. 


FIKST JtJDGE. 

Who urged you to it ? 

MARZIO. 

His own son Giacomo, and the young prelate 
Orsino sent me to Petrella ; there 
The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia 
Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I 
And my companion forthwith murdered him. 

Now let me die. 

FIRST JUDGE. 

This sounds as bad as truth. Guards, there. 

Lead forth the prisoners. 

Enter Lucretia, Beatrice, and Giacomo, guarded. 

Look upon this man ; 

When did you see him last ? 

BEATRICE. 

We never saw him. 

MARZIO. 

You know me too well, Lady Beatrice. 

BEATRICE. 

I know thee ! How ! where ? when ? 

MARZIO. 

You know twas I 

Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes 
To kill your father. When the thing was done. 

You clothed me in a robe of woven gold. 

And bade me thrive : how I have thriven, you see. 

You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia, 

You know that what I speak is true. 

[Beatrice advances towards him ; he covers his face, and 
shrinks hack. 


Oh, dart 


THE CENCI. 


95 


The terrible resentment of those eyes 

On the dread earth ! Turn them away from me ! 

They wound : ’twas torture forced the truth. My lords, 
Having said this, let me he led to death. 

BEATEICE. 

Poor wretch, I pity thee : yet stay awhile. 

CAMILLO. 

Guards, lead him not away. 

BEATEICE. 

Cardinal Camillo, 

You have a good repute for gentleness 
And wisdom : can it be that you sit here 
To countenance a wicked farce like this ? 

When some obscure and trembling slave is dragged 
From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart, 
And hade to answer, not as he believes. 

But as those may suspect or do desire. 

Whose questions thence suggest their own reply : 

And that in peril of such hideous torments 
As merciful God spares even the damned. Speak now 
The thing you surely know, which is, that you. 

If your fine frame were stretched upon that wheel. 

And you were told, “ Confess that you did poison 
Your little nephew : that fair blue-eyed child 
Who was the load-star of your life and though 
All see, since his most swift and piteous death. 

That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time, 
And all the things hoped for or done therein. 

Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief. 

Yet you would say, “ I confess anything ” — 

And beg from your tormentors, like that slave. 

The refuge of dishonourable death. 

I pray thee. Cardinal, that thou assert 
My innocence. 


96 


THE CENCI. 


CAMILLO ((much moved). 

What shall we think, my lords ? 
Shame on these tears ! I thought the heart was frozen 
Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul 
That she is guiltless. 

JUDOE. 

Yet she must he tortoed. 

CAMILLO. 

I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew 
(If he now lived, he would he just her age ; 

His hair, too, was her colour, and his eyes 
Like hers in shape, but blue, and not so deep :) 

As that most perfect image of God’s love 
That ever came sorrowing upon the earth. 

She is as pure as speechless infancy ! 

JUDGE. 

Well, be her purity on your head, my lord. 

If you forbid the rack. His Holiness 
Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime 
By the severest forms of law ; nay, even 
To stretch a point against the criminals. 

The prisoners stand accused of parricide, 

Upon such evidence as justifies 
Torture. 

BEATRICE. 

What evidence ? This man’s? 


JUDGE. 


Even so. 


BEATRICE {to MaRZIO). 

Come near. And who art thou, thus chosen forth 
Out of the multitude of living men. 

To kill the innocent? 


MARZIO. 

I am Marzio, 


Thy father’s vassal. 


THE CENCI. 


97 


BEATRICE. 


Fix thine eyes on mine ; 
Answer to what I ask. 


[Turning to the Judges, 


I prithee mark 
His countenance : unlike bold calumny, 

Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks, 
He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends 
His gaze on the blind earth. 

{To Marzio.) What ! wilt thou say 
That I did murder my own father ? 


MARZIO. 

Oh! 

Spare me ! My brain swims round — I cannot speak — 
It was that horrid torture forced the truth. 

Take me away ! Let her not look on me ! 

I am a guilty miserable wretch ! 

I have said all I know ; now, let me die ! 


BEATRICE. 

My lords, if by my nature I had been 
So stern, as to have planned the crime alleged. 
Which your suspicions dictate to this slave, 

And the rack makes him utter, do you think 
I should have left this two-edged instrument 
Of my misdeed ; this man ; this bloody knife. 
With my own name engraven on the heft. 

Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes. 

For my own death ? That with such horrible need 
For deepest silence, I should have neglected 
So trivial a precaution, as the making 
His tomb the keeper of a secret written 
On a thief’s memory ? What is his poor life ? 
What are a thousand lives ? A parricide 

VOL. II. H 


98 


THE CENCI. 


Had trampled them like dust ; and see, he lives ! 

[Turning to Marzio. 

And thou — 

MARZIO. 

Oh, spare me ! Speak to me no more I 
That stern yet piteous look, those solemn tones, 

Wound worse than torture. 

{To the Judges.) I have told it all ; 

For pity’s sake lead me away to death. 

CAMILLO. 

Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Beatrice, 

He shrinks from her regard like autumn’s leaf 
From the keen breath of the serenest north. 

BEATRICE. 

Oh, thou who tremblest on the giddy verge 
Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me ; 

So mayst thou answer God with less dismay : 

AVhat evil have we done thee ? I, alas ! 

Have lived but on this earth a few sad years. 

And so my lot wa^ ordered, that a father 
First turned the moments of awakening life 
To drops, each poisoning youth’s sw^eet hope ; and then 
Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul. 

And my untainted fame ; and even that peace 
Which sleeps within the core of the heart’s heart. 

But the womid was not mortal ; so my hate 
Became the only worship I could lift 
To our great Father, who in pity and love. 

Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him oj0T ; 

And thus his wrong becomes my accusation : 

And art thou the accuser? If thou hopest 
Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth : 

Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart. 

If thou hast done murders, made thy life’s path 


THE CENCr. 


99 


Over the trampled laws of God and man, 

Rush not before thy Judge, and say : “ My Maker. 
I have done this and more ; for there \vas one 
Who was most pure and innocent on earth ; 

And because she endured what never any, 

Guilty or innocent, endured before ; 

Because her wrongs could not be told, nor thought ; 
Because thy hand at length did rescue her ; 

I with my ^vords killed her and all her kin.” 

Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay 
The reverence living in the minds of men 
Towards our ancient house, and stainless fame ! 
Think what it is to strangle infant pity, 

Cradled in the belief of guileless looks. 

Till it become a crime to suffer. Think 
What ’tis to blot with infamy and blood 
All that which shows like innocence, and is, — 
Hear me, great God ! I swear, most innocent, — 

So that the world lose all discrimination 
Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of guilt, 

And that which now compels thee to reply 
To what I ask : Am I, or am I not 
A parricide ? 

MARZIO. 

Thou art not ! 

JUDGE, 

What is this ? 

MARZIO. 

1 here declare those whom I did accuse 
Are innocent. ’Tis I alone am guilty. 

JUDGE. 

Drag him away to torments ; let them be 
Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds 
H 2 


100 


THE CENCI. 


Of the heart’s inmost cell. Unbind him not 
Till he confess. 

MAEZIO. 

Torture me as ye will : 

A keener pain has wrung a higher truth 
From my last breath. She is most innocent ! 
Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me ! 

I ^vill not give you that fine piece of nature 
To rend and ruin. 

[Exit Marzio, guo.rded. 

CAMILLO. 

What say ye now, my lords ? 

JUDGE. 

Let tortures strain the truth till it be white 
As snow thrice-sifted by the frozen wind. 

CAMILLO. 

Yet stained with blood. 

JUDGE {to Beatrice). 

Know you this paper, lady ? 

BEATRICE. 

Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here 
As my accuser ! Ha ! wilt thou be he. 

Who art my judge ? Accuser, witness, judge, 

What, all in one ? Here is Orsino’s name ; 

Where is Orsino ? Let his eye meet mine. 

What means this scrawl ? Alas ! ye know not what, 

And therefore on the chance that it may be 
Some evil, will ye kill us ? 

Enter an Officer. 

OFFICER. 

Marzio ’s dead. 


What did he say ? 


JUDGE. 


THE CENCI, 


101 


OFFICER. 

Nothing. As soon as we 
Had hound him on the wheel, he smiled on us, 

As one who baffles a deep adversary ; 

And holding his breath, died. 

JUDGE. 

There remains nothing 
But to apply the question to those prisoners, 

Who yet remain stubborn. 

OAMILLO. 

I overrule 

Further proceedings, and in the behalf 
Of these most innocent and noble persons 
Will use my interest with the Holy Father. 

JUDGE. 

Let the Pope’s pleasure then be done. Meanwhile 
Conduct these culprits each to separate cells ; 

And be the engines ready : for this night, 

If the Pope’s resolution he as grave. 

Pious, and just as once, I ’ll wring the truth 
Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan. 

[Exeunt 


SCENE III. 

The Cell of a Prison, 

Beatrice is discovered asleep on a couch. 
Enter Bernardo. 

BERNARDO. 

How gently slumber rests upon her face. 

Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent, 
Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged. 


102 


THE CENCI. 


After such torments as she bore last night, 

How light and soft her breathing comes. Ah, me ! 
Methinks that I shall never sleep again. 

But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest 
From this sweet folded flower, thus — wake ; awake : 
What, sister, canst thou sleep ? 

BEATRICE {awaking). 

I was just dreaming 

That we were all in Paradise. Thou knowest 
This cell seems like a kind of Paradise 
After our father s presence. 

BERNARDO. 

Dear, dear sister. 

Would that thy dream were not a dream ! 0, God ! 
How shall I tell ? 

BEATRICE. 

What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother 

BERNARDO. 

Look not so calm and happy, or, even whilst 
I stand considering what I have to say, 

My heart will break. 

BEATRICE. 

See now, thou mak’st me weep : 
How very friendless thou woifldst be, dear child, 

If I were dead. Say what thou hast to say. 

BERNARDO. 

They have confessed ; they could endure no more 
The tortures — 

BEATRICE. 

Ha ! What was there to confess ? 

They must have told some weak and wicked lie 
To flatter their tormentors. Have they said 
That they were guilty ? 0 white innocence, 


THE CENCI. 


103 


That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide 
Thine awful and serenest countenance 
From those wFo know thee not ! 

Enter Judge, with Lucretia and Giacomo, guarded. 

Ignoble hearts ! 

For some brief spasms of pain, which are at least 
As mortal as the limbs through wdiich they pass, 

Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust ? 

And that eternal honour which should live 
Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame, 

Changed to a mockery and a by- word ? What ! 

Will you give up these bodies to be dragged 
At horses’ heels, so that our hair should sweep 
The footsteps of the vain and senseless crowd, 

Who, that they may make our calamity 
Their worship and their spectacle, will leave 
The churches and the theatres as void 
As their own hearts ? Shall the light multitude 
Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity, 

Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse, 

Upon us as we pass, to pass away. 

And leave — ^what memory of our having been ? 
Infamy, blood, terror, despair? 0 thou. 

Who wert a mother to the parentless. 

Kill not thy child ! Let not her wrongs kill thee ! 
Brother, lie down with me upon the rack, 

And let us each be silent as a corpse ; 

It soon will be as soft as any grave. 

’Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear 
Makes the rack cruel. 

GIACOMO. 

They will tear the truth 
Even from thee at last, those cruel pains : 

For pity’s sake say thou art guilty now. 


104 


THE CENCI. 


LUCRETIA. 

O, Speak the tmth ! Let us all quickly die ; 

And after death, God is our judge, not they ; 

He \Nill have mercy on us. 

BERNARDO. 

If indeed 

It can be tme, say so, dear sister mine ; 

And then the Pope vrill sm^ely pardon you, 

And all be well. 

JUDGE. 

Confess, or I will warp 
Your limbs with such keen tortures — 

BEATRICE. 

Tortures ! Turn 

The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel ! 

Torture yom' dog, that he may toll when last 
He lapped the blood his master shed — not me ! 

]\ly pangs are of the mind, and of the heart. 

And of the soul ; ay, of the inmost soul. 

Which weeps within tears as of burning gall 
To see, in this ill world where none are tme, 

My kindred false to their deserted selves. 

And with considering all the vTotched hfe 
Which I have lived, and its now wretched end ; 

And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth 
To me or mine ; and what a tyimit thou art. 

And what slaves these ; and what a world we make. 
The oppressor and the oppressed — such pangs compel 
My answer. ^\Tiat is it thou wouldst with me ? 

JUDGE. 

Art thou not guilty of thy father s death ? 

BEATRICE. 

Or wilt thou rather tax high-judging God 


THE CENCI. 


105 


That he permitted such an act as that 
Which I have suffered, and which he beheld ; 

Made it unutterable, and took from it 
All refuge, all revenge, all consequence. 

But that which thou hast called my father’s death ? 
Which is or is not what men call a crime. 

Which either I have done, or have not done ; 

Say what ye will, I shall deny no more. 

If ye desire it thus, thus let it be, 

And so an end of all. Now do your vill ; 

No other pains shall force another word. 


JUDGE. 

She is convicted, but has not confessed. 

Be it enough. Until their final sentence 

Let none have converse with them. You, young lord, 

Linger not here ! 

BEATRICE. 

0, tear him not away ! 


JUDGE. 

Guards ! do your duty. 


BERNARDO {embracing Beatrice). 


Body from soul ? 


Oh ! would ye divide 


OFFICER. 

That is the headsman’s business. 

[Exeunt all hut Lucretia, Beatrice, and Giacomo. 


GIACOMO. 

Have I confessed ? Is it all over now ? 

No hope ? No refuge ? 0 weak, wicked tongue, 

Which hast destroyed me, would that thou hadst been 
Cut out and thrown to dogs first ! To have killed 
My father first, and then betrayed my sister ; 


106 


THE CENCI. 


Ay, thee ! the one thing innocent and pure 
In this black, guilty world, to that which I 
So well deserve ! My wife ! my little ones ! 

Destitute, helpless ; and I — Father ! God ! 

Canst thou forgive even the unforgiving. 

When their full hearts break thus, thus ? — 

\Covers his face and weeps. 

LUCRETIA. 

0, my child ! 

To what a dreadful end are we all come ! 

Why did I yield ? Why did I not sustain 
Those torments ? Oh ! that I were all dissolved 
Into these fast and unavailing tears, 

Which flow and feel not ! 


BEATRICE. 

What ’twas weak to do, 

’Tis v/eaker to lament, once being done ; 

Take cheer ! The God who knew my wrong, and made 
Our speedy act the angel of his wrath. 

Seems, and but seems, to have abandoned us. 

Let us not think that we shall die for this. 

Brother, sit near me ; give me your firm hand. 

You had a manly heart. Bear up ! hear up ! 

Oh ! dearest lady, put your gentle head 
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile : 

Your eyes look pale, hollow, and overworn. 

With heaviness of watching and slow grief. 

Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy tune. 

Not cheerful, nor yet sad ; some dull old thing. 

Some outworn and unused monotony. 

Such as our country gossips sing and spin. 

Till they almost forget they live : lie down ! 

So ; that will do. Have I forgot the words ? 

Faith ! they are sadder than I thought they were. 


THE CENCI. 


107 


SONG. 

False friend, wilt thou smile or weep 
When my life is laid asleep ] 

Little cares for a smile or a tear, 

The clay-cold corpse upon the bier ; 

Farewell ! Heigh ho ! 

What is this whispers low ] 

There is a snake in thy smile, my dear ; 

And bitter poison within thy tear. 

Sweet sleep ! were death like to thee. 

Or if thou couldst mortal be, 

I would close these eyes of pain ; 

When to wake 1 Never again. 

0 World ! farewell ! 

Listen to the passing bell ! 

It says, thou and I must part. 

With a light and a heavy heart. 

[The scene closes. 


SCENE lY. 

A Hall of the Prison. 

Enter Camillo and Beenardo. 

CAMILLO. 

The Pope is stern ; not to be moved or bent. 

He looked as calm and keen as is the engine 
Which tortures and which kills, exempt itself 
From aught that it inflicts ; a marble form, 

A rite, a law, a custom ; not a man. 

He frowned, as if to frown had been the trick 

Of his machinery, on the advocates 

Presenting the defences, which he tore 

And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice : 

“ Which among ye defended their old father 


108 


THE CENCI. 


Killed in his sleep ?” Then to another : “ Thou 
Dost this in virtue of thy place ; ’tis well.” 

He turned to me then, looking deprecation, 

And said these three words, coldly : “ They must die.” 

BERNARDO. 

And yet you left him not ? 

CAMILLO. 

I urged him still ; 
Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong 
Which prompted your unnatural parent’s death. 

And he replied, “ Paolo Santa Croce 
Murdered his mother yester evening. 

And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife. 

That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young 
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs. 

Authority, and power, and hoary hair 

Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew. 

You come to ask their pardon ; stay a moment ; 

Here is their sentence ; never see me more 
Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled.” 

BERNARDO. 

0, God, not so ! I did believe indeed 
That all you said was but sad preparation 
For happy news. 0, there are words and looks 
To bend the sternest purpose ! Once I knew them. 
Now I forget them at my dearest need. 

What think you if I seek him out, and bathe 
His feet and robe with hot and bitter tears ? 

Importune him with prayers, vexing his brain 
With my perpetual cries, until in rage 
He strike me with his pastoral cross, and trample 
Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood 
May stain the senseless dust on which he treads, 


THE CENCI. 


109 


And remorse waken mercy ? I will do it ! 
0, wait till I return ! 

CAMILLO. 

Alas ! poor boy ! 

A wreck- devoted seaman thus might pray 
To the deaf sea. 


[Bushes out 


Enter Lucretia,, Beatrice, and Giacomo, guarded. 

BEATRICE. 

I hardly dare to fear 

That thou hring’st other news than a just pardon. 

CAMILLO. 

May God in heaven he less inexorable 

To the Pope’s prayers, than he has been to mine. 

Here is the sentence and the warrant. 

BEATRICE {wildly). 

Oh, 

My God ! Can it be possible I have 
To die so suddenly ? So young to go 
Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground ! 

To be nailed down into a narrow place ; 

To see no more sweet sunshine ; hear no more 
Blithe voice of living thing ; muse not again 
Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost ! 

How fearful ! to be nothing ! Or to be — 

What ? 0, where am I ? Let me not go mad ! 

Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts ! If there should be 
No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world ; 

The wide, grey, lampless, deep, unpeopled world ! 

If all things then should be — my father’s spirit. 

His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding me ; 

The atmosphere and breath of my dead life ! 

If sometimes, as a shape more like himself. 


110 


THE CENCI. 


Even tlie form which tortured me on earth, 

Masked in grey hairs and wrinkles, he should come. 

And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix 

His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down ! 

For was he not alone omnipotent 

On Earth, and ever present ? even though dead. 

Does not his spirit live in all that breathe. 

And work for me and mine still the same ruin. 

Scorn, pain, despair ? Who ever yet returned 
To teach the laws of death’s untrodden realm ? 

Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now, 

0, whither, whither ? 

LUCRETIA. 

Trust in God’s sweet love. 

The tender promises of Christ : ere night 
Think w^e shall be in Paradise. 

BEATRICE. 

’Tis past ! 

Whatever comes, my heart shall sink no more. 

And yet, I know not why, your words strike chill : 

How tedious, false, and cold seem all things ! I 
Have met with much injustice in this world ; 

No difference has been made by God or man, 

Or any power moulding my wTetched lot, 

’Twixt good or evil, as regarded me. 

I am cut off from the only world I know, 

From light, and life, and love, in youth’s sweet prime. 

You do well telling me to trust in God ; 

I hope I do trust in him. In whom else 
Can any trust ? And yet my heart is cold. 

[During the latter speeches Giacomo has retired conversing 
with Camillo, who now goes out ; Giacomo advances. 

GIACOMO. 

Know you not, mother — sister, know you not ? 


THE CENCI. 


Ill 


Bernardo even now is gone to implore 
The Pope to grant our pardon. 

LUCRETIA. 

Child, perhaps 

It will he granted. We may all then live 
To make these woes a tale for distant years : 

O, what a thought ! It gushes to my heart 
Like the warm blood. 

BEATRICE. 

Yet both will soon be cold : 

0, trample out that thought ! Worse than despair, 
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope : 

It is the only ill which can find place 
Upon the giddy, sharp, and narrow hour 
Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift frost 
That it should spare the eldest flower of spring : 

Plead with awakening earthquake, o’er whose couch 
Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and free ; 

Now stench and blackness yawns, like death. 0, plead 
With famine, or wind- walking pestilence, 

Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with man ! 

Cruel, cold, formal man ; righteous in words. 

In deeds a Cain. No, mother, we must die : 

Since such is the reward of innocent lives ; 

Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. 

And whilst our murderers live, and hard, cold men. 
Smiling and slow, walk through a world of tears 
To death as to life’s sleep ; ’twere just the grave 
Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death, 
And wind me in thine all-embracing arms ! 

Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom. 

And rock me to the sleep from, which none vmke. 

Live ye, who live, subject to one another 
As we were once, who now — 


THE CENCI. 


IIQ 


Bernardo rushes in. 

BERNARDO. 

0, horrible ! 

That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer, 
Even till the heart is vacant and despairs. 

Should all be vain ! The ministers of death 
Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw 
Blood on the face of one — ^what if ’twere fancy ? 

Soon the heart’s blood of all I love on earth 
Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off 
As if ’twere only rain. 0, life ! 0, world ! 

Cover me ! let me be no more ! To see 
That perfect mirror of pure innocence 
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good. 

Shivered to dust ! To see thee, Beatrice, 

Who made all lovely thou didst look upon — 

Thee, light of life — dead, dark ! while I say, sister. 

To hear I have no sister ; and thou, mother. 

Whose love was a bond to all our loves — 

Dead ! The sweet bond broken ! 

Enter Camillo and Crivards. 

They come ! Let me 

Kiss those warm lips before their crimson leaves 
Are blighted — ^white — cold. Say farewell, before 
Death chokes that gentle voice ! 0 let me hear 

You speak ! 

BEATRICE. 

Farewell, my tender brother. Think 
Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now : 

And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten for thee 
Thy sorrow’s load. Err not in harsh despair. 

But tears and patience. One thing more, my child : 
For thine own sake be constant to the love 


THE CENCI. 


113 


Thou bearest us ; and to the faith that I, 

Though wrapt in a strange cloud of crime and shame, 
Lived ever holy and unstained. And though 
Til tongues shall wound me, and our common name 
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent brow 
For men to point at as they pass, do thou 
Forbear, and never think a thought unkind 
Of those who perhaps love thee in their graves. 

So mayest thou die as I do ; fear and pain 
Being subdued. Farewell ! Farewell ! Farew'ell ! 

BERNARDO. 

I cannot say farew^ell ! 

CAMILLO. 

0, Lady Beatrice ! 

BEATRICE. 

Give yourself no unnecessary pain, 

My dear Lord Cardinal. liere, mother, tie 
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair 
In any simple knot : ay, that does well. 

And yours I see is coming down. HoW' often 
Have we done this for one another ! no'sv 
We shall not do it any more. My lord, 

We are quite ready. Well, ’tis very well. 


END OF THE CENCI. 


VOL. II. 


I 


I 





. H 





NOTE ON THE CENCI. 


BY THE EDITOR. 

The sort of mistake that Shelley made, as to the extent 
of his own genius and powers, which led him deviously at 
first, but lastly into the direct track that enabled him fully 
to develop them, is a curious instance of his modesty of 
feeling, and of the methods which the human mind uses at 
once to deceive itself, and yet, in its very delusion, to make 
its way out of error into the path which nature has marked 
out as its right one. He often incited me to attempt the 
writing a tragedy — he conceived that I possessed some 
dramatic talent, and he was always most earnest and 
energetic in his exhortations that I should cultivate any 
talent I possessed, to the utmost. I entertained a truer 
estimate of my powers ; and, above all, though at that 
time not exactly aware of the fact, I was far too young to 
have any chance of succeeding, even moderately, in a species 
of composition, that requires a greater scope of experience in, 
and sympathy with, human passion than could then have 
fallen to my lot, or than any perhaps, except Shelley, ever 
possessed, even at the age of twenty -six, at which he wrote 
The Cenci. 

On the other hand, Shelley most erroneously conceived 

I 2 


116 


EDITORS NOTE ON THE CENCI. 


himself to he destitute of this talent. He believed that one 
of the first requisites was the capacity of forming and follow- 
ing up a story or plot. He fancied himself to be defective 
in this portion of imagination — it was that which gave him 
least pleasure in the writings of others — though he laid great 
store by it, as the proper framework to support the sublimest 
efforts of poetry. He asserted that he was too metaphysical 
and abstract — too fond of the theoretical and the ideal, to 
succeed as a tragedian. It perhaps is not strange that I 
shared this opinion with himself, for he had hitherto shown 
no inclination for, nor given any specimen of his powers in 
framing and supporting the interest of a story, either in prose 
or verse. Once or twice, when he attempted such, he had 
speedily thrown it aside, as being even disagreeable to him 
as an occupation. 

The subject he had suggested for a tragedy was Charles I., 
and he had written to me, “ Remember, remember Charles I. 
I have been already imagining how you would conduct some 
scenes. The second volume of St. Leon begins with this 
proud and true sentiment, ^ There is nothing which the 
human mind can conceive which it may not execute.’ Shak- 
speare was only a human being.” These words were written 
in 1818, while we were in Lombardy, when he little thought 
how soon a work of his own would prove a proud comment 
on the passage he quoted. When in Rome, in 1819, a friend 
put into our hands the old manuscript account of the story of 
The Cenci. We visited the Colonna and Doria palaces, where 
the portraits of Beatrice were to be found ; and her beauty 
cast the reflection of its own grace over her appalling story. 
Shelley’s imagination became stronglv excited, and he urged the 
subject to me as one fitted for a tragedy. More than ever I felt 


editor’s note on the cenci. 


117 


my incompetence ; but 1 entreated him to write it instead ; 
and he began and proceeded swiftly, urged on by intense 
sympathy with the sufferings of the human beings whose 
passions, so long cold in the tomb, he revived, and gifted 
with poetic language. This tragedy is the only one of his 
works that he communicated to me during its progress. We 
talked over the arrangement of the scenes together. 1 
speedily saw the great mistake we had made, and triumphed 
in the discovery of the new talent brought to light from that 
mine of wealth, never, alas ! through his untimely death, 
worked to its depths — his richly-gifted mind. 

We suffered a severe affliction in Rome by the loss of our 
eldest child, v/ho was of such beauty and promise as to 
cause him deservedly to be the idol of our hearts. We left 
the capital of the world, anxious for a time to escape a spot 
associated too intimately with his presence and loss*. Some 
friends of ours were residing in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, 
and we took a small house, Villa Valsovano, about half-way 
between the town and Monte Nero, where we remained 
during the summer. Our villa was situated in the midst of 
a podere ; the peasants sang as they worked beneath our 
windows, during the heats of a very hot season, and in the 
evening the water-wheel creaked as the process of irrigation 
went on, and the fire-flies flashed from among the myrtle 


* Such feelings haunted him when, in The Cenci, he makes Beatrice speak 
to Cardinal Camillo of 


that fair blue-eyed child, 

Who was the load-star of your life. 

And say — 

All see, since his most piteous death, 

That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time, 
And all the things hoped for, or done therein. 

Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief. 


118 


EDITOK S NOTE ON THE CENCI. 


hedges : — nature was bright, sunshiny, and cheerful, oi 
diversified by storms of a majestic terror, such as we had 
never before witnessed. 

At the top of the house, there was a sort of terrace. There 
is often such in Italy, generally roofed. This one was very 
small, yet not only roofed but glazed ; this Shelley made his 
study ; it looked out on a wide prospect of fertile country, 
and commanded a view of the near sea. The storms that 
sometimes varied our day showed themselves most pic- 
turesquely as they were driven across the ocean ; sometimes 
the dark lurid clouds dipped towards the waves, and became 
water spouts, that churned up the waters beneath, as they 
were chased onward, and scattered by the tempest. At 
other times the dazzling sunlight and heat made it almost 
intolerable to every other ; but Shelley basked in both, and 
his health and spirits revived under their influence. In this 
airy cell he wrote the principal part of The Cenci. He was 
making a study of Calderon at the time, reading his best 
tragedies with an accomplished lady living near us, to whom 
his letter from Leghorn was addressed during the following 
year. He admired Calderon, both for his poetry and his 
dramatic genius ; but it shows his judgment and originality, 
that, though greatly struck by his first acquaintance with the 
Spanish poet, none of his peculiarities crept into the com- 
position of The Cenci; and there is no trace of his new 
studies, except in that passage to which he himself alludes, 
as suggested by one in El Purgatorio de San Patricio. 

Shelley wished The Cenci to be acted. He was not a play- 
goer, being of such fastidious taste that he was easily dis- 
gusted by the bad filling up of the inferior parts. While 
preparing for our departure from England, however, he 


editor’s note on the cenci. 


119 


saw Miss O’Neil several times ; she was then in the zenith 
of her glory, and Shelley was deeply moved by her im- 
personation of several parts, and by the graceful sweetness, 
the intense pathos, and sublime vehemence of passion she 
displayed. She was often in his thoughts as he wrote, and 
when he had finished, he became anxious that his tragedy 
should be acted, and receive the advantage of having this 
accomplished actress to fill the part of the heroine. With this 
view he wrote the following letter to a friend in London : — 
The object of the present letter is to ask a favour of you. 
I have written a tragedy on a story well known in Italy, and, 
in my conception, eminently dramatic. I have taken some 
pains to make my play fit for representation, and those who 
have already seen it judge favourably. It is written without 
any of the peculiar feelings and opinions which characterize 
my other compositions ; I have attended simply to the im- 
partial development of such characters as it is probable the 
persons represented really were, together with the greatest 
degree of popular effect to be produced by such a develop- 
ment. I send you a translation of the Italian MS. on which 
my play is founded ; the chief circumstance of which I have 
touched very delicately ; for my principal doubt as to 
whether it would succeed, as an acting play, hangs entirely 
on the question as to whether any such a thing as incest in 
this shape, however treated, would be admitted on the stage. 
I think, however, it will form no objection, considering, first, 
that the facts are matter of history, and, secondly, the peculiar 
delicacy with which I have treated it *. 

* In speaking of Ins mode of treating this main incident, Shelley said that 
it might be remarked that, in the course of the play, he had never 
mentioned expressly Cenci’s worst crime. Every one knew what it must 


m 


EDITOR S NOTE ON THE CENCI. 


“ I am exceedingly interested in the question of whether 
this attempt of mine will succeed or not. I am strongly 
inclined to the affirmative at present; founding my hopes 
on this, that as a composition it is certainly not inferior 
to any of the modern plays that have been acted, with 
the exception of ^ Remorse that the interest of the plot is 
incredibly greater and more real, and that there is nothing 
beyond what the multitude are contented to believe that 
they can understand, either in imagery, opinion, or sentiment. 
I wish to preseive a complete incognito, and can trust to you 
that, whatever else you do, you will at least favour me on 
this point. Indeed this is essential, deeply essential to its 
success. After it had been acted and successfully, (could 
I hope for such a thing) I would own it if I pleased, and use 
the celebrity it might acquire to my own purposes. 

What I want you to do, is to procure for me its presenta- 
tion at Co vent Garden. The principal character, Beatrice, is 
precisely fitted for Miss O’Neil, and it might even seem to have 
been written for her, (God forbid that I should see her play 
it — it would tear my nerves to pieces) and in all respects it is 
fitted only for Covent Garden. The chief male character I 
confess I should be very unwilling that any one but Kean 
should play — that is impossible, and I must be contented 
with an inferior actor.” 

The play was accordingly sent to Mr. Harris. He pro- 
nounced the subject to be so objectionable, that he could not 
even submit the part to Miss O’Neil for perusal, but expressed 
his desire that the author would write a tragedy on some 

he, but it was never imapred in words — the nearest allusion to it being that 
portion of Cenei’s curse, beginning, 

“ That if she have a child,” &c. 


editor’s note on the cenci. 


121 


other subject, which he would gladly accept. Shelley printed 
a small edition at Leghorn, to insure its correctness ; as he 
was much annoyed by the many mistakes that crept into 
his text, when distance prevented him from correcting the 
press. 

Universal approbation soon stamped The Cenci as the best 
tragedy of modern times. Writing concerning it, Shelley 
said : “ I have been cautious to avoid the introducing faults 
of youthful composition ; diffuseness, a profusion of inappli- 
cable imagery, vagueness, generality, and, as Hamlet says, 
words j words , There is nothing that is not purely dramatic 
throughout ; and the character of Beatrice, proceeding from 
vehement struggle to horror, to deadly resolution, and lastly, 
to the elevated dignity of calm suffering, joined to passionate 
tenderness and pathos, is touched with hues so vivid and so 
beautiful, that the poet seems to have read intimately the 
secrets of the noble heart imaged in the lovely countenance 
of the unfortunate girl. The Fifth Act is a masterpiece. 
It is the finest thing he ever wrote, and may claim proud 
comparison not only with any contemporary, but preceding 
poet. The varying feelings of Beatrice are expressed with 
passionate, heart-reaching eloquence. Every character has a 
voice that echoes truth in its tones. It is curious, to one 
acquainted with the written story, to mark the success with 
which the poet has inwoven the real incidents of the tragedy 
into his scenes, and yet, through the power of poetry, has 
obliterated all that would otherwise have shown too harsh 
or too hideous in the picture. His success was a double 
triumph ; and often after he was earnestly entreated to write 
again in a style that commanded popular favour, while it was 
not less instinct with truth and genius. But the bent of his 


122 


EDITORS NOTE ON THE CENCI. 


mind went the other way ; and even when employed on 
subjects whose interest depended on character and incident, 
he would start off in another direction, and leave the delinea- 
tions of human passion, which he could depict in so able a 
manner, for fantastic creations of his fancy, or the expression 
of those opinions and sentiments with regard to human 
nature and its destiny ; a desire to diffuse which, was the 
master passion of his soul. 


HELLAS; 

la iLgrical IBratna. 


MANTI2 EIM’ E20AON ’AmNHN. 


CEdip. Colon, 


TO 

HIS EXCELLENCY 

PRINCE ALEXANDER MAVROCORDATO, 

LATE SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE HOSPODAR OP WALLACHIA, 

THE DRAMA OF HELLAS 

IS INSCRIBED, 

AS AN IMPERFECT TOKEN OF THE ADMIRATION, SYMPATHY, 

AND FRIENDSHIP 

OF 

THE AUTHOR. 


Pisa, November 1, 1821, 


PREFACE. 


The poem of Hellas,” written at the suggestion of the events 
of the moment, is a mere improvise, and derives its interest 
(should it be found to possess any) solely from the intense sym- 
pathy which the Author feels with the cause he would celebrate. 

The subject, in its present state, is insusceptible of being treated 
otherwise than lyrically, and if I have called this poem a drama, 
from the circumstance of its being composed in dialogue, the 
licence is not greater than that which has been assumed by other 
poets, who have called their productions epics, only because they 
have been divided into twelve or twenty-four books. 

The Persae of .^schylus afforded mo the first model of my 
conception, although the decision of the glorious contest now 
waging in Greece being yet suspended, forbids a catastrophe 
parallel to the return of Xerxes and the desolation of the 
Persians. I have, therefore, contented myself with exhibiting a 
series of lyric pictures, and with having wrought upon the curtain 
of futurity, which falls upon the unfinished scene, such figures of 
indistinct and visionary delineation as suggest the final triumpli 
of the Greek cause as a portion of the cause of civilisation and 
social improvement. 

The drama (if drama it must be called) is, however, so inarti- 
ficial that 1 doubt whether, if recited on the Thespian waggon to 
an Athenian village at the Dionysiaca, it would have obtained the 
prize of the goat. I shall bear with equanimity any punishment 


126 


HELLAS. 


greater than the loss of such a reward which the Aristarchi of 
the hour may think fit to inflict. 

The only goat-song which I have yet attempted has, I confess, 
in spite of the unfavourable nature of the subject, received a 
greater and a more valuable portion of applause than I expected, 
or than it deserved. 

Common fame is the only authority which I can allege for the 
details which form the basis of the poem, and I must trespass 
upon the forgiveness of my readers for the display of newspaper 
erudition to which I have been reduced. Undoubtedly, until the 
conclusion of the war, it will be impossible to obtain an account 
of it sufficiently authentic for historical materials ; but poets have 
their privilege, and it is unquestionable that actions of the most 
exalted courage have been performed by the Greeks — that they 
have gained more than one naval victory, and that their defeat in 
Wallachia was signalised by circumstances of heroism more 
glorious even than victory. 

The apathy of the rulers of the civilised world, to the astonish- 
ing circumstance of the descendants of that nation to which they 
owe their civilisation — rising as it were from the ashes of their 
ruin, is something perfectly inexplicable to a mere spectator of the 
shows of this mortal scene. We are all Greeks. Our laws, our 
literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece. But 
for Greece — Rome the instructor, the conqueror, or the metro- 
polis of our ancestors, would have spread no illumination with her 
arms, and we might still have been savages and idolaters ; or, 
what is w^orse, might have arrived at such a stagnant and miser- 
able state of social institutions as China and Japan possess. 

The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection 
in Greece which has impressed its image on those faultless pro- 
ductions, whose very fragments are the despair of modern art, 
and has propagated impulses which cannot cease, through a 
thousand channels of manifest or imperceptible operation, to 
ennoble and delight mankind until the extinction of the race. 

The modern Greek is the descendant of those glorious beings 
whom the imagination almost refuses to figure to itself as belong- 


HELLAS. 


127 


ing to our kind ; and he inherits much of their sensibility, their 
rapidity of conception, their enthusiasm, and their courage. If 
in many instances he is degraded by moral and political slavery 
to the practice of the basest vices it engenders, and that below the 
level of ordinary degradation ; let us reflect that the corruption 
of the best produces the worst, and that habits which subsist only 
in relation to a peculiar state of social institution may be expected 
to cease, as soon as that relation is dissolved. In fact, the Greeks, 
since the admirable novel of Anastatius ” could have been a 
faithful picture of their manners, have undergone most important 
changes ; the flower of thejr youth, returning to their country 
from the universities of Italy, Germany, and France, have com- 
municated to their fellow -citizens the latest results of that social 
perfection of which their ancestors were the original source. The 
university of Chios contained before the breaking out of the 
revolution, eight hundred students, and among them several 
Germans and Americans. The munificence and energy of many 
of the Greek princes and merchants, directed to the renovation of 
their country, with a spirit and a wisdom which has few examples, 
is above all praise. 

The English permit their own oppressors to act according to 
their natural sympathy with the Turkish tyrant, and to brand 
upon their name the indelible blot of an alliance with the enemies 
of domestic happiness, of Christianity, and civilisation. 

Russia desires to possess, not to liberate Greece ; and is con- 
tented to see the Turks, its natural enemies, and the Greeks, its 
intended slaves, enfeeble each other, until one or both fall into 
its net. The wise and generous policy of England would have 
consisted in establishing the independence of Greece, and in main- 
taining it both against Russia and the Turks ; — but when was the 
oppressor generous or just ? 

The Spanish Peninsula is already free. France is tranquil in 
the enjoyment of a partial exemption from the abuses which its 
unnatural and feeble government are vainly attempting to revive. 
The seed of blood and misery has been sown in Italy, and a more 
vigorous race is arising to go forth to the harvest. The world 


1*28 


HELLAS. 


waits only the news of a revolution of Gennany, to see the 
tyrants who have pinnacled themselves on its supineness, pre- 
cipitated into the ruin from which they shall never arise. W ell 
do these destroyers of mankind know their enemy, when they 
impute the insurrection in Greece to the same spirit before which 
they tremble throughout the rest of Europe ; and that enemy well 
loiow’s the power and cunning of its opponents, and watches the 
moment of their approaching weakness and inevitable di\’ision, to 
wrest the bloody sceptres from their grasp. 

f 


HELLAS. 


DRAMATIS PERSONS. 

Mahmud, I Daood, 

Hassan, J Ahasuerus, a Jew. 

Chorus of Greek Captive Women. 

Messengers^ Slaves^ and Attendants. 

Scene — Constantinople. Time — Sunset. 


Scene, a Terrace, on the Seraglio. 

Mahmud {sleeping), an Indian slave sitting beside his Couch. 

CHOEUS OP GEEEK CAPTIVE WOMEN. 

We strew these opiate flowers 
On thy restless pillow, — 

They were stript from Orient bowers, 

By the Indian billows 
Be thy sleep 
Calm and deep, 

Like theirs who fell — not ours who weep ! 

INDIAN. 

Away, unlovely dreams ! 

Away, false shapes of sleep ! 

Be his, as Heaven seems, 

Clear, and bright, and deep ! 

K 


VOL. II. 


130 


HELIAS. 


Soft as love, and calm as death, 

Sweet as a summer night without a breath. 

CHORUS. 

Sleep, sleep ! our song is laden 
With the soul of slumber ; 

It was sung by a Samian maiden. 

Whose lover was of the number 
Who now keep 
That calm sleep 

Whence none may wake, where none shall weep. 

INDIAN. 

1 touch thy temples pale ! 

I breathe my soul on thee ! 

And could my prayers avail. 

All my joy should be 
Dead, and I would live to weep. 

So thou might St win one hour of quiet sleep. 

CHORUS. 

Breathe low, low. 

The spell of the mighty mistress now ! 

When Conscience lulls her sated snake. 

And Tyrants sleep, let Freedom wake. 
Breathe low, low. 

The words, which, like secret fire, shall flow 
Through the veins of the frozen earth — low, low 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Life may change, but it may fly not ; 

Hope may vanish, but can die not ; 

Truth be veiled, but still it burneth ; 

Love repulsed, — but it returneth ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Yet were life a charnel, where 
Hope lay coffined with Despair ; 


HELLAS. 


131 


Yet were truth a sacred lie, 

Love were lust — 

SEMICHORUS I. 

If Liberty 
Lent not life its soul of light, 

Hope its iris of delight, 

Truth its prophet s robe to wear. 

Love its power to give and bear. 

CHORUS. 

In the great morning of the world. 

The spirit of God with might unfurled 
The flag of Freedom over Chaos, 

And all its banded anarchs fled, 

Like vultures frighted from Imaus, 

Before an earthquake’s tread. — 

So from Time’s tempestuous dawn 
Freedom’s splendour burst and shone : — 
Thermopyl^ and Marathon 
Caught, like mountains beacon-lighted. 
The springing Fire. — The winged glory 
On Philippi half-alighted. 

Like an eagle on a promontory. 

Its unwearied wings could fan 
The quenchless ashes of Milan. 

From age to age, from man to man 
It lived ; and lit from land to land 
Florence, Albion, Switzerland. 

Then night fell ; and, as from night. 
Re-assuming fiery flight. 

From the West swift Freedom came. 
Against the course of heaven and doom, 
A second sun arrayed in flame. 

To bum, to kindle, to illume. 

K 2 


132 


HELLAS. 


From far Atlantis its young beams 
Chased the shadows and the dreams. 
France, with all her sanguine steams, 
Hid, but quenched it not ; again 
Through clouds its shafts of glory rain 
From utmost Germany to Spain. 

As an eagle fed with morning 
Scorns the embattled tempest’s warning. 
When she seeks her aerie hanging 
In the mountain-cedar’s hair. 

And her brood expect the clanging 
Of her wings through the wild air, 

Sick with famine ; — Freedom, so 
To what of Greece remaineth now 
Returns ; her hoary ruins glow 
Like orient mountains lost in day ; 

Beneath the safety of her wings 
Her renovated nurselings play. 

And in the naked lightnings 
Of truth they purge their dazzled eyes. 
Let Freedom leave, where’er she flies, 

A Desert, or a Paradise ; 

Let the beautiful and the brave 
Share her glory, or a grave. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

With the gifts of gladness 
Greece did thy cradle strew ; 

SEMICHORUS II. 

With the tears of sadness 

Greece did thy shroud bedew ; 

SEMICHORUS I. 

With an orphan’s affection 

She followed thy bier through time ! 


HELLAS. 


133 


SEMICHORTJS II. 

And at tliy resurrection 
Ee-appeareth, like thou, sublime ! 

SEMICHOKUS I. 

If Heaven should resume thee, 

To Heaven shall her spirit ascend ; 

SEMICHOEUS II. 

If Hell should entomb thee. 

To Hell shall her high hearts bend. 

SEMICHOKUS I. 

If Annihilation — 

SEMICHOKUS II. 

Dust let her glories be ; 

And a name and a nation 

Be forgotten. Freedom, with thee ! 

INDIAN. 

His brow grows darker — breathe not — move not ! 
He starts — he shudders ; — ye that love not. 

With your panting loud and fast 
Have awakened him at last. 

MAHMUD {starting from his sleep), 

Man the Seraglio-guard ! make fast the gate. 

What ! from a cannonade of three short hours ? 

’Tis false ! that breach towards the Bosphorus 
Cannot be practicable yet — ^AVho stirs ? 

Stand to the match ; that when the foe prevails. 

One spark may mix in reconciling ruin 

The conqueror and the conquered ! Heave the tower 

Into the gap — wrench off the roof. 

Enter Hassan. 

Ha ! what ! 


134 


HELLAS. 


The truth of day lightens upon my dream, 

And I am Mahmud still. 

HASSAN. 

Your Sublime Highness 

Is strangely moved. 

MAHMUD. 

The times do cast strange shadows 
On those who watch and who must rule their course, 
Lest they, being first in peril as in glory, 

Be whelmed in the fierce ebb : — and these are of them. 
Thrice has a gloomy vision hunted me 
As thus from sleep into the troubled day ; 

It shakes me as the tempest shakes the sea, 

Leaving no figure upon memory’s glass. 

Would that — no matter. Thou didst say thou knewest 
A Jew, whose spirit is a chronicle 
Of strange and secret and forgotten things. 

I bade thee summon him : — ’tis said his tribe 
Dream, and are wise interpreters of dreams. 

HASSAN. 

The Jew of whom I spake is old, — so old 
He seems to have outlived a world’s decay ; 

The hoary mountains and the wrinkled ocean 
Seem younger still than he ; his hair and beard 
Are whiter than the tempest-sifted snow ; 

His cold pale limbs and pulseless arteries 

Are like the fibres of a cloud instinct 

With light, and to the soul that quickens them 

Are as the atoms of the mountain- drift 

To the winter wind : — but from his eye looks forth 

A life of unconsumed thought, which pierces 

The present, and the past, and the to-come. 

Some say that this is he whom the great prophet 
Jesus, the son of Joseph, for his mockery, 


HELLAS. 


135 


Mocked with the curse of immortality. 

Some feign that he is Enoch ; others dream 
He was pre-adamite, and has survived 
Cycles of generation and of ruin. 

The sage, in truth, by dreadful abstinence. 

And conquering penance of the mutinous flesh, 
Deep contemplation, and unwearied study. 

In years outstretched beyond the date of man. 
May have attained to sovereignty and science 
Over those strong and secret things and thoughts 
Which others fear and know not. 


With this old Jew. 


MAHMUD. 

I would talk 


HASSAN. 

Thy will is even now 

Made known to him, where he dwells in a sea-cavern 

Mid the Demonesi, less accessible 

Than thou or God ! He who would question him 

Must sail alone at sun-set, where the stream 

Of ocean sleeps around those foamless isles 

When the young moon is westering as now. 

And evening airs wander upon the wave ; 

And when the pines of that bee-pasturing isle. 

Green Erehinthus, quench the fiery shadow 
Of his gilt prow within the sapphire water, 

Then must the lonely helmsman cry aloud, 
Ahasuerus ! and the caverns round 
Will answer, Ahasuerus ! If his prayer 
Be granted, a faint meteor will arise. 

Lighting him over Marmora, and a wind 
Will rush out of the sighing pine-forest. 

And with the wind a storm of harmony 
Unutterably sweet, and pilot him 
Through the soft twilight to the Bosphorus : 


136 


HELLAS. 


Thence, at the hour and place and circumstance 
Fit for the matter of their conference, 

The Jew appears. Few dare, and few who dare. 

Win the desired communion — but that shout 

Bodes — [A shout within. 

MAHMUD. 

Evil, doubtless ; like all human sounds. 

Let me converse with spirits. 

HASSAN. 

That shout again. 

MAHMUD. 

This Jew whom thou hast summoned — 

HASSAN. 

Will be here — 

MAHMUD. 

When the omnipotent hour, to which are yoked 
He, I, and all tHngs, shall compel — enough. 

Silence those mutineers — that drunken crew 
That crowd about the pilot in the storm. 

Ay ! strike the foremost shorter by a head ! 

They weary me, and I have need of rest. 

Kings are like stars — they rise and set, they have 

The worship of the world, but no repose. [Exeunt severally. 

CHORUS. 

Worlds on worlds are rolling ever 
From creation to decay. 

Like the hubbies on a river. 

Sparkling, bursting, borne away. 

But they are still immortal 
Who, through birth’s orient portal. 

And death’s dark chasm hm*rying to and fro. 

Clothe their unceasing flight 
In the brief dust and light 
Gathered around their chariots as they go ; 


HELLAS. 


13 


New shapes they still may weave, 

New Gods, new laws receive, 

Bright or dim are they, as the robes they last 
On Death’s hare ribs had cast. 

A power from the unknown God ; 

A Promethean conqueror came ; 

Like a triumphal path he trod 
The thorns of death and shame. 

A mortal shape to him 
Was like the vapour dim 
Which the orient planet animates with light ; 
Hell, Sin, and Slavery came. 

Like blood-hounds mild and tame. 

Nor preyed until their lord had taken flight. 

The moon of Mahomet 
Arose, and it shall set : 

While blazoned as on heaven’s immortal noon 
The cross leads generations on. 

Swift as the radiant shapes of sleep 
From one whose dreams are paradise, 

Fly, when the fond wretch wakes to weep. 

And day peers forth with her blank eyes ; 

So fleet, so faint, so fair. 

The Powers of earth and air 
Fled from the folding star of Bethlehem : 

Apollo, Pan, and Love, 

And even Olympian Jove 
Grew weak, for killing Truth had glared on them. 
Our hills, and seas, and streams. 
Dispeopled of their dreams. 

Their waters turned to blood, their dew to tears. 
Wailed for the golden years. 


188 


HELLAS. 


Enter Makmud, Hassan, Daood, and others. 


MAHMUD. 

More gold ? our ancestors bought gold mth victory, 
And shall I sell it for defeat ? 


Clamour for pay. 


DAOOD. 

The Janizars 

MAHMUD. 


Go ! hid them pay themselves 
AVith Christian blood ! Are there no Grecian virgins 
AVhose shrieks and spasms and tears they may enjoy ? 
No infidel children to impale on spears ? 

No hoary priests after that Patriarch 
Who bent the curse against his country’s heart, 
Which clove his own at last ? Go ! bid them kill : 
Blood is the seed of gold. 

DAOOD. 


It has been sown. 

And yet the harvest to the sickle-men 
Is as a grain to each. 

MAHMUD. 

Then take this signet. 

Unlock the seventh chamber, in which lie 
The treasures of victorious Solyman. 

An empire’s spoils stored for a day of ruin. • 

O spirit of my sires ! is it not come ? 

The prey-birds and the wolves are gorged and sleep ; 

But these, who spread their feast on the red earth, 

Hunger for gold, which fills not. — See them fed ; 

Then lead them to the rivers of fresh death. 

\_Exit Daood. 

Oh ! miserable dawn, after a night 

More glorious than the day which it usurped ! 

0, faith in God ! 0, power on earth ! 0, word 


HELLAS. 


139 


Of the great Prophet, whose overshadowing wings 
Darkened the thrones and idols of the west, 

Now bright ! — For thy sake cursed be the hour. 
Even as a father by an evil child. 

When the orient moon of Islam rolled in triumph 
From Caucasus to white Ceraunia ! 

Kuin above, and anarchy below ; 

Terror without, and treachery within ; 

The chalice of destruction full, and all 
Thirsting to drink ; and who among us dares 
To dash it from his lips ? and where is Hope ? 

HASSAN. 

The lamp of our dominion still rides high ; 

One God is God — Mahomet is his Prophet. 

Four hundred thousand Moslems, from the limits 

Of utmost Asia, irresistibly 

Throng, like full clouds at the Sirocco’s cry. 

But not like them to weep their strength in tears ; 
They have destrojdng lightning, and their step 
Wakes earthquake, to consume and overwhelm. 
And reign in ruin. Phrygian Olympus, 

Tmolus, and Latmos, and Mycale, roughen 
With horrent arms, and lofty ships, even now. 
Like vapours anchored to a mountain’s edge, 
Freighted with fire and whirlwind, wait at Scala 
The convoy of the ever-veering wind. 

Samos is drunk with blood ; — the Greek has paid 
Brief victory with swift loss and long despair. 

The false Moldavian serfs fled fast and far 
When the fierce shout of Allah- ilia- Allah ! 

Kose like the war-cry of the northern v/ind, 

Which kills the sluggish clouds, and leaves a flock 
Of wild swans struggling with the naked storm. 

So were the lost Greeks on the Danube’s day! 


140 


HELLAS. 


If night is mute, yet the returning sun 
Kindles the voices of the morning birds ; 

Nor at thy bidding less exultingly 
Than birds rejoicing in the golden day, 

The Anarchies of Africa unleash 
Them tempest-winged cities of the sea. 

To speak in thunder to the rebel world. 

Like sulphureous clouds half-shattered by the storm. 
They sweep the pale ^gean, while the Queen 
Of Ocean, hound upon her island throne. 

Far in the West, sits mourning that her sons, 

Who frown on Freedom, spare a smile for thee : 

Russia Still hovers, as an eagle might 
Within a cloud, near which a kite and crane 
Hang tangled in inextricable fight^ 

To stoop upon the victor ; for she fears 

The name of Freedom, even as she hates thine : 

But recreant Austria loves thee as the Grave 
Loves Pestilence, and her slow dogs of war. 

Fleshed with the chase, come up from Italy, 

And howl upon their limits : for they see 
The panther Freedom fled to her old cover. 

Amid seas and mountains, and a mightier brood 
Crouch around. What Anarch wears a crown or mitre. 
Or bears the sword, or grasps the key of gold. 

Whose friends are not thy friends, whose foes thy foes ? 
Our arsenals and our armories are full ; 

Our forts defy assaults ; ten thousand cannon 
Lie ranged upon the beach, and hour by hour 
Their earth-convulsing wheels afiright the city ; 

The galloping of fiery steeds makes pale 
The Christian merchant, and the yellow Jew 
Hides his hoard deeper in the faithless earth. 

Like clouds, and like the shadows of the clouds, 

Over the hills of Anatolia, 


HELLAS. 


141 


Swift in wide troops the Tartar chivalry 
Sw^eep ; — the far-flashing of their starry lances 
Eeverberates the dying light of day. 

We have one God, one King, one Hope, one Law ; 
But many-headed Insurrection stands 
Divided in itself, and soon must fall. 

MAHMUD. 

Proud words, when deeds come short, are seasonable : 
Look, Hassan, on yon crescent moon, emblazoned 
Upon that shattered flag of fiery cloud 
Which leads the rear of the departing day. 

Wan emblem of an empire fading now ! 

See how it trembles in the blood-red air. 

And like a mighty lamp wLose oil is spent. 

Shrinks on the horizon’s edge, while, from above, 

One star with insolent and victorious light 
Hovers above its fall, and with keen beams. 

Like arrows through a fainting antelope. 

Strikes its weak form to death. 


HASSAN. 

Even as that moon 

Renews itself 


MAHMUD. 

Shall we be not renewed ! 
Far other bark than ours were needed now 
To stem the torrent of descending time : 

The spirit that lifts the slave before its lord 
Stalks through the capitals of armed kings. 
And spreads his ensign in the wilderness ; 
Exults in chains ; and when the rebel falls. 
Cries like the blood of Abel from the dust ; 
And the inheritors of earth, like beasts 
When earthquake is unleashed, with idiot fear 
Cower in their kingly dens — as I do now. 
What were Defeat, when Victory must appal ? 


142 


HELLAS. 


Or Danger, when Security looks pale ? 

How said the messenger — who from the fort 
Islanded in the Danube, saw the battle 
Of Bucharest ? — that — 

HASSAN. 

Ibrahim’s cimeter 

Drew with its gleam swift Hctory from heaven. 

To bum before him in the night of battle — 

A light and a destmction. 

MAHMUD. 

Ay ! the day 

Was ours ; but how ? — 

HASSAN. 

The light Wallachians, 
The Amaut, Servian, and Albanian allies. 

Fled from the glance of om' artillery 
Almost before the thunder-stone alit ; 

One half the Grecian army made a bridge 
Of safe and slow retreat, with Moslem dead ; 

The other — 

MAHMUD. 

Speak — tremble not — 

HASSAN. 

Islanded 

By victor myriads, formed in hollow square 
With rough and stedfast front, and thrice flung back 
The deluge of our foaming cavalry ; 

Thrice their keen wedge of battle pierced our lines. 
Our baffled army trembled like one man 
Before a host, and gave them space ; but soon. 

From the surrounding hills, the batteries blazed. 
Kneading them down with fire and iron rain. 

Yet none approached; till, like a field of com 
Under the hook of the swart sickle-man. 

The bands, intrenched in mounds of Turkish dead. 


HELLAS. 


143 


Grew weak and few. Then said the Pacha, “ Slaves, 
Render yourselves — they have abandoned you — 

What hope of refuge, or retreat, or aid ? 

We grant your lives.” — “ Grant that which is thine own,” 
Cried one, and fell upon his sword and died ! 

Another — “ God, and man, and hope abandon me ; 

But I to them and to myself remain 
Constant;” he bowed his head, and his heart hurst. 

A third exclaimed, “ There is a refuge, tyrant. 

Where thou darest not pursue, and canst not harm, 
Shouldst thou pursue ; there we shall meet again.” 

Then held his breath, and, after a brief spasm. 

The indignant spirit cast its mortal garment 
Among the slain — dead earth upon the earth ! 

So these survivors, each by different ways. 

Some strange, all sudden, none dishonourable. 

Met in triumphant death ; and when our army 
Closed in, while yet wonder, and awe, and shame 
Held back the base hyenas of the battle 
That feed upon the dead and fly the living. 

One rose out of the chaos of the slain ; 

And if it were a corpse which some dread spirit 
Of the old saviours of the land we rule 
Had lifted in its anger, wandering by ; 

Or if there burned within the dying man 
Unquenchable disdain of death, and faith 
Creating what it feigned ; — I cannot tell : 

But he cried, “ Phantoms of the free, we come ! 

Armies of the Eternal, ye who strike 
To dust the citadels of sanguine kings. 

And shake the souls throned on their stony hearts, 

And thaw their frost-work diadems like dew ; — 

0 ye who float around this clime, and weave 
The garment of the glory which it wears ; 

Whose fame, though earth betray the dust it clasped. 


144 


HELLAS. 


Lies sepulchred in monumental thought; — 

Progenitors of all that yet is great, 

Ascribe to your bright senate, 0 accept 
In your liigh ministrations, us, your sons — 

Us first, and the more glorious yet to come ! 

And ye, weak conquerors ! giants who look pale 
When the crushed worm rebels beneath your tread — 
The vultures, and the dogs, your pensioners tame. 

Are overgorged ; but, like oppressors, still 
They crave the relic of Destruction’s feast. 

The exhalations and the thirsty winds 
Are sick with blood ; the dew is foul with death — 
Heaven’s light is quenched in slaughter : Thus where’er 
Upon your camps, cities, or towers, or fleets. 

The obscene birds the reeking remnants cast 
Of these dead limbs, upon your streams and mountains. 
Upon your fields, your gardens, and your house-tops, 
Where’er the winds shall creep, or the clouds fly. 

Or the dews fall, or the angry sun look down 
With poisoned light — Famine, and Pestilence, 

And Panic, shall wage war upon our side ! 

Nature from all her boundaries is moved 
Against ye : Time has found ye light as foam. 

The earth rebels ; and Good and Evil stake 
Their empire o’er the unborn world of men 
On this one cast — but ere the die be thrown. 

The renovated genius of our race. 

Proud umpire of the impious game, descends 
A seraph- winged Victory, bestriding 
The tempest of the Omnipotence of God, 

Which sweeps all things to their appointed doom, 

And you to oblivion ! ” — More he would have said. 

But — 

MAHMUD. 

« 

Died — as thou shouldst ere thy lips had painted 


HELLAS. 


145 


Their ruin in the hues of our success. 

A rebel’s crime, gilt with a rebel’s tongue ! 

Your heart is Greek, Hassan. 

HASSAN. 

It may he so : 

A spirit not my own wrenched me within. 

And I have spoken words I fear and hate ; 

Yet would I die for— 

MAHMUD. 

Live ! 0 live ! outlive 

Me and this sinking empire : — but the fleet — 

HASSAN. 

Alas ! 

MAHMUD. 

The fleet which, like a flock of clouds 
Chased by the wind, flies the insurgent banner. 

Our winged castles from their merchant ships ! 

Our myriads before their weak pirate bands ! 

Our arms before their chains ! Our years of empire 
Before their centuries of servile fear ! 

Death is awake ! Eepulsed on the waters. 

They own no more the thunder-bearing banner 
Of Mahmud ; but like hounds of a base breed. 

Gorge from a stranger’s hand, and rend their master. 

HASSAN. 

Latmos, and Ampelos, and Phanae, saw 
The wreck — 

MAHMUD. 

The caves of the Icarian isles 
Hold each to the other in loud mockery. 

And with the tongue as of a thousand echoes 
First of the sea-convulsing fight — and then — 

Thou darest to speak — senseless are the mountains. 
Interpret thou their voice ! 

VOL. II. L 


146 


HELLAS, 


HASSAN. 

My presence bore 

A part in that day’s shame. The Grecian fleet 
Bore down at day-break from the North, and hung 
As multitudinous on the ocean line 
As cranes upon the cloudless Thracian wind. 

Our squadron, convoying ten thousand men. 

Was stretching towards Nauplia when the battle 
Was kindled. — 

First through the hail of our artillery 
The agile Hydriote barks with press of sail 
Dashed : — ship to ship, cannon to cannon, man 
To man, were grappled in the embrace of war, 
Inextricable but by death or victory. 

The tempest of the raging fight con^udsed 
To its crystalline depths that stainless sea. 

And shook heaven’s roof of golden morning clouds 
Poised on an hundred azure mountain-isles. 

In the brief trances of the artillery, 

One cry from the destroyed and the destroyer 
Eose, and a cloud of desolation wrapt 
The unforeseen event, till the north wind 
Sprung from the sea, lifting the heavy veil 
Of battle-smoke — then victory — victory ! 

For, as we thought, three frigates from Algiers 
Bore down from Naxos to our aid, but soon 
The abhorred cross glimmered behind, before. 

Among, around us ; and that fatal sign 

Dried with its beams the strength of Moslem hearts, 

As the sun drinks the dew. — What more ? We fled ! 

Our noonday path over the sanguine foam 

Was beaconed, and the glare struck the sun pale. 

By our consuming transports : the fierce light 
Made all the shadows of our sails blood-red. 

And every countenance blank. Some ships lay feeding 


HELLAS. 


147 


The ravening fire even to the water’s level : 

Some were blown up ; some, settling heavily, 

Sunk ; and the shrieks of our companions died 
Upon the wind, that bore us fast and far. 

Even after they were dead. Nine thousand perished ! 

W e met the vultures legioned in the air. 

Stemming the torrent of the tainted wind : 

They, screaming from their cloudy mountain peaks, 

Stooped through the sulphureous battle-smoke, and perched 
Each on the weltering carcase that we loved. 

Like its ill angel or its damned soul. 

Eiding upon the bosom of the sea, 

We saw the dog-fish hastening to their feast. 

Joy waked the voiceless people of the sea. 

And ravening famine left his ocean-cave 
To dwell with war, with us, and with despair. 

We met night three hours to the west of Patmos, 

As with night, tempest — 

MAHMUD. 

Cease ! 

Enter a Messenger. 

MESSENGER. 

Your Sublime Highness, 

That Christian hound, the Muscovite ambassador. 

Has left the city. If the rebel fieet 
Had anchored in the port, had victory 
Crowned the Greek legions in the Hippodrome, 

Panic were tamer. — Obedience and Mutiny, 

Like giants in contention planet-struck. 

Stand gazing on each other. — There is peace 
In Stamboul. — 

MAHMUD. 

Is the grave not calmer still ? 

Its ruins shall be mine. 


148 


HELLAS. 


HASSAN. 

F ear not the Russian ; 

The tiger leagues not ’^ivith the stag at bay 
Against the hunter. — Cunning, base, and cruel, 

He crouches, watching till the spoil be won. 

And must be paid for his reserve in blood. 

After the war is fought, yield the sleek Russian 
That which thou canst not keep, his deserved portion 
Of blood, which shall not flow through streets and fields. 
Rivers and seas, like that which we may win. 

But stagnate in the veins of Christian slaves ! 


Enter Second Messenger. 

SECOND MESSENGER. 

Nauplia, Tripolizza, Mothon, Athens, 

Xavarin, Artas, Monembasia, 

Corinth and Thebes, are carried by assault ; 

And every Islamite who made his dogs 
Fat with the flesh of Galilean slaves. 

Passed at the edge of the sword : the lust of blood. 

Which made our warriors drunk, is quenched in death ; 

But hke a fiery plague breaks out anew 

In deeds which make the Christian cause look pale 

In its own light. The garrison of Patras 

Has store but for ten days, nor is there hope 

But from the Briton ; at once slave and tyrant. 

His wishes still are weaker than his fears ; 

Or he would sell what faith may yet remain 
From the oaths broke in Genoa and in Norway ; 

And if you buy him not, your treasury 
Is empty even of promises — ^his own coin. 

The freeman of a western poet chief 
Holds Attica with seven thousand rebels. 

And has beat back the Pacha of Negropont ; 

The aged Ali sits in Yanina, 


HELLAS. 


149 


A crownless metaphor of empire ; 

His name, that shadow of his withered might, 

Holds our besieging army like a spell 
In prey to famine, pest, and mutiny : 

He, bastioned in his citadel, looks forth 
Joyless upon the sapphire lake that mirrors 
The ruins of the city where he reigned 
Childless and sceptreless. The Greek has reaped 
The costly harvest his own blood matured. 

Not the sower, Ali — who has bought a truce 
From Ypsilanti, with ten camel-loads 
Of Indian gold. 

Enter a Third Messenger. 

MAHMUD. 

What more ? 

THIRD MESSENGER. 

The Christian tribes 
Of Lebanon and the Syrian wilderness 
Are in revolt ; — Damascus, Hems, Aleppo, 

Tremble ; — the Arab menaces Medina; 

The Ethiop has intrenched himself in Sennaar, 

And keeps the Egyptian rebel well employed. 

Who denies homage, claims investiture 
As price of tardy aid. Persia demands 
The cities on the Tigris, and the Georgians 
Refuse their living tribute. Crete and Cyprus, 

Like mountain- twins that from each other’s veins 
Catch the volcano-fire and earthquake spasm. 

Shake in the general fever. Through the city. 

Like birds before a storm, the San tons shriek. 

And prophesyings horrible and new 

Are heard among the crowd ; that sea of men 

Sleeps on the wrecks it made, breathless and still 


150 


HELLAS. 


A Dervise, learned in the Koran, preaches 
That it is written how the sins of Islam 
Must raise up a destroyer even now. 

The Greeks expect a Saviour from the west ; 

Who shall not come, men say, in clouds and glory, 

But in the omnipresence of that spirit 
In which all live and are. Ommous signs 
Are blazoned broadly on the noon-day sky ; 

One saw a red cross stamped upon the sun ; 

It has rained blood ; and monstrous births declare 
The secret wrath of Nature and her Lord. 

The army encamped upon the Cydaris 
Was roused last night by the alarm of battle, 

And saw two hosts conflicting in the air, — 

The shadows doubtless of the unborn time, 

Cast on the mirror of the night. While yet 
The fight hung balanced, there arose a storm 
Wliich swept the phantoms from among the stars. 

At the third watch the spirit of the plague 
Was heard abroad flapping among the tents : 

Those who relieved watch found the sentinels dead. 

The last news from the camp is, that a thousand 
Have sickened, and— 

Enter a Fourth Messenger. 

MAHMUD. 

And thou, pale ghost, dim shadow 
Of some untimely rumour, speak ! 

FOURTH MESSENGER. 

One comes 

Fainting with toil, covered with foam and blood ; 

He stood, he says, upon Clelonit’s 
Promontory, which o’eiiooks the isles that groan 
Under the Briton’s frown, and all their waters 


HELLAS. 


151 


Then trembling in the splendour of the moon ; 
When, as the wandering clouds unveiled or hid 
Her boundless light, he saw two adverse fleets 
Stalk through the night in the horizon’s glimmer, 
Mingling fierce thunders and sulphureous gleams. 
And smoke which strangled every infant wind 
That soothed the silver clouds through the deep air. 
At length the battle slept, hut the Sirocco 
Awoke, and drove his flock of thunder-clouds 
Over the sea-horizon, blotting out 
All objects — save that in the faint moon-glimpse 
He saw, or dreamed he saw the Turkish admiral 
And two, the loftiest, of our ships of war. 

With the bright image of that Queen of Heaven, 
Who hid, perhaps, her face for grief, reversed ; 

And the abhorred cross — 


Enter an Attendant. 

s 

ATTENDANT. 

Your Sublime Highness, 

The Jew, who 

MAHMUD. 


Could not come more seasonably : 
Bid him attend. I ’ll hear no more ! too long 
We gaze on danger through the mist of fear, 

And multiply upon our shattered hopes 
The images of ruin. Come what will ! 

To-morrow and to-morrow are as lamps 
Set in our path to light us to the edge. 

Through rough and smooth ; nor can we suffer aught 
Which he inflicts not in whose hand we are. 


SEMICHORUS I. 


[Exeunt. 


Would I were the winged cloud 
Of a tempest swift and loud ! 




HELLAS. 


I would scorn 
The smile of morn, 

And the wave where the moon-rise is born ! 

I would leave 
The spirits of eve 

A shroud for the corpse of the day to weave 
From other threads than mine ! 

Bask in the blue noon divine 
Who would, not I. 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Whither to fly ? 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Where the rocks that gird th’ ^gean 
Echo to the battle paean 
Of the free — 

I would flee 

A tempestuous herald of victory ! 

My golden rain 
For the Grecian slain 

Should mingle in tears with the bloody main ; 
And my solemn thunder-knell 
Should ring to the world the passing-bell 
Of tyranny ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Ah king ! wilt thou chain 
The rack and the rain ? 

Wilt thou fetter the lightning and hurricane ? 
The storms are free, 

But we 

CHORUS. 

O Slavery ! thou frost of the world’s prime. 
Killing its flowers and leaving its thorns bare ! 


HELLAS. 


153 


Thy touch has stamped these limbs with crime, 
These brows thy branding garland bear ; 

But the free heart, the impassive soul. 
Scorn thy control ! 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Let there be light ! said Liberty ; 

And like sunrise from the sea, 

Athens arose ! — ^Around her born, 

Shone like mountains in the morn. 
Glorious states ; — and are they now 
Ashes, wrecks, oblivion? 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Go 

Where Thermae and Asopus swallowed 
Persia, as the sand does foam. 

Deluge upon deluge followed. 

Discord, Macedon, and Kome : 

And, lastly, thou ! 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Temples and towers. 
Citadels and marts, and they 

Who live and die there, have been ours. 
And may be thine, and must decay ; 

But Greece and her foundations are 
Built belovr the tide of war, 

Based on the crystalline sea 
Of thought and its eternity ; 

Her citizens, imperial spirits, 

Rule the present from the past, 

On all this world of men inherits 
Their seal is set. 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Hear ye the blast. 


154 


HELLAS. 


Whose Orphic thunder thrilling calls 
From ruin her Titanian walls ? 

Whose spirit shakes the sapless hones 
Of Slavery? Argos, Corinth, Crete, 
Hear, and from their mountain thrones 
The daemons and the nymphs repeat 
The harmony. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

I hear ! I hear ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

The world’s eyeless charioteer. 

Destiny, is hurrying by ! 

What faith is crushed, what empire bleeds 
Beneath her earthquake-footed steeds ? 
What eagle- winged victory sits 
At her right hand ? what shadow flits 
Before ? what splendour rolls behind ? 

Euin and Kenovation cry, 

Who but we ? 

SEMICHORUS I. 

I hear ! I hear ! 

The hiss as of a rushing wind. 

The roar as of an ocean foaming. 

The thunder as of earthquake coming, 

I hear ! I hear ! 

The crash as of an empire falling. 

The shrieks as of a people calling 
Mercy ! Mercy ! — How they thrill ! 

Then a shout of “ Kill ! kill ! kill ! ’’ 

And then a small still voice, thus — 

SEMICHORUS II. 

For 

Revenge and wrong bring forth their kind. 


HELLAS. 


155 


The foul cubs like their parents are, 
Their den is in their guilty mind, 

And Conscience feeds them with despair. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

In sacred Athens, near the fane 
Of Wisdom, Pity’s altar stood ; 

Serve not the unknown God in vain, 

But pay that broken shrine again 
Love for hate, and tears for blood. 


Enter Mahmud and Ahasuerus. 


MAHMUD. 

Thou art a man, thou sayest, even as we — 


No more ! 


AHASUERUS. 


MAHMUD. 

But raised above thy fellow-men 
By thought, as I by power. 


AHASUERUS. 

Thou sayest so. 


MAHMUD. 

Thou art an adept in the difficult lore 

Of Greek and Frank philosophy ; thou numberest 

The flowers, and thou measurest the stars ; 

Thou severest element from element ; 

Thy spirit is present in the past, and sees 
The birth of this old world through all its cycles 
Of desolation and of loveliness ; 

And when man was not, and how man became 
The monarch and the slave of this low sphere. 
And all its narrow circles — it is much. 

I honour thee, and would be what thou art 
Were I not what I am ; but the unborn hour. 


150 


HELLAS. 


Cradled in fear and hope, conflicting stoims, 

Who shall unveil ? Nor thou, nor I, nor any 
Mighty or wise. I apprehend not 
What thou hast taught me, hut I now perceive 
That thou art no interpreter of dreams ; 

Thou dost not own that art, device, or God, 

Can make the future present — let it come ! 

Moreover thou disdainest us and ours ! 

Thou art as God, whom thou contemplatest. 

AHASUERUS. 

Disdain thee ? — not the worm beneath my feet ! 

The Fathomless has care for meaner things 
Than thou canst dream, and has made pride for those 
Who would be what they may not, or would seem 
That which they are not. Sultan ! talk no more 
Of thee and me, the future and the past ; 

But look on that which cannot change — the One 
The unborn, and the undying. Earth and ocean, 
Space, and the isles of life or light that gem 
The sapphire floods of interstellar air. 

This firmament pavilioned upon chaos. 

With all its cressets of immortal fire. 

Whose outwall, bastioned impregnably 

Against the escape of boldest thoughts, repels them 

As Calpe the Atlantic clouds — this whole 

Of suns, and worlds, and men, and beasts, and flowers. 

With all the silent or tempestuous workings 

By which they have been, are, or cease to be. 

Is but a vision ; — all that it inherits 

Are motes of a sick eye, bubbles, and dreams ; 

Thought is its cradle and its grave, nor less 
The future and the past are idle shadows 
Of thoughts eternal flight — they have no being ; 
Nought is but that it feels itself to be. 


HELLAS. 


157 


MAHMUD. 

What meanest thou ? thy words stream like a tempest 
Of dazzling mist within my brain — they shake 
The earth on which I stand, and hang like night 
On Heaven above me. What can they avail ? 

They cast on all things, surest, brightest, best. 

Doubt, insecuiity, astonishment. 

AHASUEKUS. 

Mistake me not ! All is contained in each. 

Dodona’s forest to an acorn’s cup 
Is that which has been or will be, to that 
Which is — the absent to the present. Thought 
Alone, and its quick elements. Will, Passion, 

Reason, Imagination, cannot die ; 

They are what that which they regard appears. 

The stuff whence mutability can weave 
All that it hath dominion o’er, — worlds, worms, 
Empires, and superstitions. What has thought 
To do with time, or place, or circumstance ? 

Wouldst thou behold the future ? — ask and have ! 
Knock and it shall be opened — look, and lo ! 

The coming age is shadowed on the past, 

As on a glass. 

MAHMUD. 

Wild, wilder thoughts convulse 
My spirit — Did not Mahomet the Second 
Win Stamboul? 

AHASUERUS. 

Thou wouldst ask that giant spirit 
The written fortunes of thy house and faith. 

Thou wouldst cite one out of the grave to tell 
How what was bom in blood must die. 


158 


HELLAS. 


MAHMUD. 

Thy words 

Have power on me ! I see — 

AHASUERUS. 

What hearest thou ? 

MAHMUD. 

A far whisper 

Terrible silence. 

AHASUERUS. 

What succeeds ? 

MAHMUD. 

The sound 

As of the assault of an imperial city, 

The hiss of inextinguishable fire, 

The roar of giant cannon ; — the earthquaking 
Fall of vast bastions and precipitous towers. 

The shock of crags shot from strange engin’ry. 

The clash of wheels, and clang of armed hoofs. 

And crash of brazen mail, as of the wreck 
Of adamantine mountains — the mad blast 
Of trumpets, and the neigh of raging steeds. 

And shrieks of women whose thrill jars the blood. 

And one sweet laugh, most horrible to hear, 

As of a joyous infant waked, and playing 

With its dead mother’s breast ; and now more loud 

The mingled battle-cry — ha 1 hear I not 

’Ez; roD7(i) vLkt]. Allah-illah- Allah ! 

AHASUERUS. 

The sulphureous mist is raised — thou seest — 

MAHMUD. 

A chasm. 

As of two mountains, in the wall of Stamboul ; 


HELLAS. 


159 


And in that ghastly breach the Islamites, 
Like giants on the ruins of a world, 

Stand in the light of sunrise. In the dust 
Glimmers a kingless diadem, and one 
Of regal port has cast himself beneath 
The stream of war. Another, proudly clad 
In golden arms, spurs a Tartarian barb 
Into the gap, and with his iron mace 
Directs the torrent of that tide of men. 

And seems — he is — Mahomet ! 


AHASUERUS. 

What thou see’st 

Is but the ghost of thy forgotten dream ; 

A dream itself, yet less, perhaps, than that 
Thou callst reality. Thou mayst behold 
How^ cities, on which empire sleeps enthroned. 

Bow their towered crests to mutability. 

Poised by the flood, e’en on the height thou boldest. 

Thou mayst now learn how the full tide of power 
Ebbs to its depths.— Inheritor of glory, 

Conceived in darkness, born in blood, and nourished 
With tears and toil, thou see’st the mortal throes 
Of that whose birth was but the same. The Past 
Now stands before thee like an Incarnation 
Of the To-come ; yet wouldst thou commune with 
That portion of thyself which was ere thou 
Didst start for this brief race whose crown is death ; 
Dissolve with that strong faith and fervent passion 
Which called it from the uncreated deep, 

Yon cloud of war with its tempestuous phantoms 
Of raging death ; and draw with mighty will 
The imperial shade hither. 

[Exit Ahasuerus. 


MAHMUD. 

Approach ! 


160 


HELLAS. 


PHANTOM. 

I come 

Thence whither thou must go ! The grave is fitter 
To take the living, than give up the dead ; 

Yet has thy faith prevailed, and I am here. 

The heavy fragments of the power which fell 
When I arose, like shapeless crags and clouds. 
Hang round my throne on the abyss, and voices 
Of strange lament soothe my supreme repose, 
Wailing for glory never to return. — 

A later Empire nods in its decay ; 

The autumn of a greener faith is come, 

And wolfish change, like winter, howls to strip 
The foliage in which Fame, the eagle, built 
Her aerie, while Dominion whelped below. 

The storm is in its branches, and the frost 
Is on its leaves, and the blank deep expects 
Oblivion on oblivion, spoil on spoil, 

Kuin on ruin : thou art slow, my son ; 

The Anarchs of the world of darkness keep 
A throne for thee, round which thine empire lies 
Boundless and mute ; and for thy subjects thou. 
Like us, shall rule the ghosts of murdered life. 

The phantoms of the powers who rule thee now — 
Mutinous passions and conflicting fears. 

And hopes that sate themselves on dust and die ! 
Stript of their mortal strength, as thou of thine. 
Islam must fall, but we will reign together 
Over its ruins in the world of death : — 

And if the trunk be dry, yet shall the seed 
Unfold itself even in the shape of that 
Which gathers birth in its decay. Woe ! woe ! 

To the weak people tangled in the grasp 
Of its last spasms. 


HELLAS 


161 


MAHMUD. 

Spirit, woe to all ! 

Woe to the wronged and the avenger ! Woe 
To the destroyer, woe to the destroyed ! 

Woe to the dupe, and woe to the deceiver ! 

Woe to the oppressed, and woe to the oppressor ! 

Woe both to those that suffer and inflict ; 

Those who are horn, and those who die ! But say, 
Imperial shadow of the thing I am, 

When, how, by whom. Destruction must accomplish 
Her consummation ? 

PHANTOM. 

Ask the cold pale Hour, 

Eich in reversion of impending death. 

When he shall fall upon whose ripe grey hairs 
Sit care, and sorrow, and infirmity — 

The weight which Crime, whose wings are plumed with years. 
Leaves in his flight from ravaged heart to heart 
Over the heads of men, under which burthen 
They bow themselves unto the grave : fond wretch ! 

He leans upon his crutch, and talks of years 
To come, and how in hours of youth renewed 
He will renew lost joys, and 

VOICE WITHOUT. 

Victory ! victory ! 

[The Phantom vanishes. 

MAHMUD. 

What sound of the importunate earth has broken 
My mighty trance ? 

VOICE WITHOUT. 

Victory ! victory ! 

MAHMUD. 

Weak lightning before darkness ! poor faint smile 
Of dying Islam ! Voice which art the response 

VOL. II. M 


162 


HELLAS. 


Of hollow weakness ! Do I wake and live 

Were there such things ? or may the unquiet brain, 

Vexed by the wise mad talk of the old Jew, 

Have shaped itself these shadows of its fear ? 

It matters not ! — for nought we see or dream. 

Possess, or lose, or grasp at, can he worth 
More than it gives or teaches. Come what may. 

The future must become the past, and I 
As they were, to whom once this present hour. 

This gloomy crag of time to which I cling. 

Seemed an Elysian isle of peace and joy 
Never to be attained. — I must rebuke 
This drunkenness of triumph ere it die. 

And dying, bring despair. — Victory ! — poor slaves ! 

[Exit Mahmud. 

VOICE WITHOUT. 

Shout in the jubilee of death ! The Greeks 
Are as a brood of Hons in the net, 

Round which the kingly hunters of the earth 
Stand smiling. Anarchs, ye whose daily food 
Are curses, groans, and gold, the fruit of death. 

From Thule to the girdle of the world. 

Come, feast ! the board groans with the flesh of men — 

The cup is foaming with a nation’s blood. 

Famine and Thirst await : eat, drink, and die ! 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Victorious Wrong, with vulture scream. 

Salutes the risen sun, pursues the flying day ! 

I saw her ghastly as a tyrant’s dream. 

Perch on the trembling pyramid of night. 

Beneath which earth and all her realms pavilioned lay 
In visions of the dawning undelight. 

Who shall impede her flight ? 

Who rob her of her prey ? 


HELLAS. 


163 


VOICE WITHOUT. 

Victory ! victory ! Eussia’s famished eagles 
Dare not to prey beneath the crescent s light. 

Impale the remnant of the Greeks ! despoil ! 

Violate ! make their flesh cheaper than dust ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Thou voice which art 
The herald of the ill in splendour hid ! 

Thou echo of the hollow heart 
Of monarchy, bear me to thine abode 

When desolation flashes o’er a w^orld destroyed. 

Oh bear me to those isles of jagged cloud 

Which float like mountains on the earthquakes, ’mid 
The momentary oceans of the lightning ; 

Or to some toppling promontory proud 
Of solid tempest, whose black pyramid, 

Eiven, overhangs the founts intensely brightening 
Of those dawn-tinted deluges of fire 
Before their waves expire, 

When heaven and earth are light, and only light 
In the thunder-night ! 

VOICE WITHOUT. 

Victory ! victory ! Austria, Eussia, England, 

And that tame serpent, that poor shadow, France, 

Cry peace, and that means death when monarchs speak. 
Ho, there ! bring torches, sharpen those red stakes ! 

These chains are light, fitter for slaves and poisoners 
Than Greeks. Kill! plunder! burn! let none remain. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Alas for Liberty ! 

If numbers, wealth, or unfulfilling years. 

Or fate, can quell the free ; 

Alas for Virtue ! when 

M 2 


164 


HELLAS. 


Torments, or contumely, or the sneers 
Of erring judging men 
Can break the heart where it abides. 

Alas ! if Love, whose smile makes this obscure world 
splendid. 

Can change, with its false times and tides. 

Like hope and terror — 

Alas for Love ! 

And Truth, who wanderest lone and unbefriended. 

If thou canst veil thy lie-consuming mirror 
Before the dazzled eyes of Error. 

Alas for thee ! Image of the Above. 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Repulse, with plumes from conquest torn, 

Led the ten thousand from the limits of the morn 
Through many an hostile Anarchy ! 

At length they wept aloud and cried, “ The sea ! the sea 
Through exile, persecution, and despair, 

Rome was, and young Atlantis shall become 
The wonder, or the terror, or the tomb 
Of all whose step wakes power lulled in her savage lair * 
But Greece was as a hermit child. 

Whose fairest thoughts and limbs were built 
To woman’s growth, by dreams so mild 
She knew not pain or guilt ; 

And now, 0 Victory, blush ! and Empire, tremble. 

When ye desert the free ! 

If Greece must be 

A wreck, yet shall its fragments reassemble. 

And build themselves again impregnably 
In a diviner clime, 

To Amphionic music, on some Cape sublime, 

Which frowns above the idle foam of Time. 


HELLAS. 


]G5 


SEMICHORUS I. 

Let the tyrants rule the desert they have made ; 

Let the free possess the paradise they claim ; 

Be the fortune of our fierce oppressors weighed 
With our ruin, our resistance, and our name ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Our dead shall he the seed of their decay. 

Our survivors be the shadows of their pride. 
Our adversity a dream to pass away — 

Their dishonour a remembrance to abide ! 

VOICE WITHOUT. 

Victory ! Victory ! The bought Briton sends 
The keys of ocean to the Islamite. 

Now shall the blazon of the cross be veiled. 

And British skill directing Othman might, 
Thunder-strike rebel victory. 0 keep holy 
This jubilee of unrevenged blood ! 

Kill ! crush ! despoil ! Let not a Greek escape ! 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Darkness has dawned in the East 
On the noon of time : 

The death-birds descend to their feast, 

From the hungry clime. 

Let Freedom and Peace flee far 
To a sunnier strand, 

And follow Love’s folding star ! 

To the Evening land ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

The young moon has fed 
Her exhausted horn 
With the sunset’s fire : 

The weak day is dead^ 


166 


HELLAS. 


But the night is not bom ; 

And, hke loveliness panting with wild desire, 
While it trembles with fear and delight, 

Hespems flies from awakening night. 

And pants in its beauty and speed with light 
Fast-flashing, soft, and bright. 

Thou beacon of love ! thou lamp of the free ! 

Guide us far, far away. 

To climes where now, veiled by the ardour of day. 

Thou art hidden 

From waves on which weary noon 
Faints in her summer swoon. 

Between kingless continents, sinless as Eden, 
Around mountains and islands inviolably 
Prankt on the sapphire sea 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Through the sunset of hope, 

Like the shapes of a dream. 

What Paradise islands of glory gleam 
Beneath Heaven’s cope. 

Their shadows more clear float by — 

The sound of their oceans, the light of their sky. 

The music and fragrance their solitudes breathe, 

Burst like morning on dreams, or like Heaven on death, 
Through the walls of om: prison ; 

And Greece, which was dead, is arisen ! 

CHORUS. 

The world’s great age begins anew, 

The golden years retom. 

The earth doth like a snake renew 
Her winter weeds outworn : 

Heaven smiles, and faiths and empires gleam 
Like vTecks of a dissolving dream. 


HELLAS. 


167 


A brighter Hellas rears its mountains 
From waves serener far ; 

A new Peneus rolls its fountains 
Against the morning-star. 

Where fairer Tempes bloom, there sleep 
Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep. 

A loftier Argo cleaves the main, 

Fraught with a later prize ; 

Another Orpheus sings again. 

And loves, and weeps, and dies. 

A new Ulysses leaves once more 
Calypso for his native shore. 

0 write no more the tale of Troy, 

If earth Death s scroll must be ! 

Nor mix with Laian rage the joy 
Which dawns upon the free : 
Although a subtler sphinx renew 
Biddles of death Thebes never knew. 

Another Athens shall arise. 

And to remoter time 
Bequeath, like sunset to the skies. 

The splendour of its prime ; 

And leave, if nought so bright may live. 
All earth can take or heaven can give. 

Saturn and Love their long repose 
Shall burst, more bright and good 
Than all who fell, than One who rose, 
Than many unsubdued : 

Not gold, not blood, their altar dowers, 
But votive tears, and symbol flowers. 


168 


HELLAS. 


0 cease ! must hate and death return ? 

Cease ! must men kill and die ? 
Cease ! drain not to its dregs the um 
Of bitter prophecy. 

The world is weary of the past, 

0 might it die or rest at last ! 


NOTES. 


P. 131, 1. 21. 

The quenchless ashes of Milan, 

Milan was the centre of the resistance of the Lombard league 
against the Austrian tyrant. Frederick Barbarossa burnt the 
city to the ground, but liberty lived in its ashes, and it rose 
like an exhalation from its ruin. — See Sismondi’s ^^Histoires des 
Repuhliques Italiennes^^ a book which has done much towards 
awakening the Italians to an imitation of their great ancestors. 

P. 136, 1. 19. 

CHORUS. 

The popular notions of Christianity are represented in this 
chorus as true in their relation to the worship they superseded, 
and that which in all probability they will supersede, without 
considering their merits in a relation more universal. The first 
stanza contrasts the immortality of the living and thinking beings 
which inhabit the planets, and, to use a common and inadequate 
phrase, clothe themselves in matter, with the transience of the 
noblest manifestations of the external world. 

The concluding verses indicate a progressive state of more or 
less exalted existence, according to the degree of perfection which 
every distinct intelligence may have attained. Let it not be 
supposed that I mean to dogmatize upon a subject concerning 
which all men are equally ignorant, or that I think the Gordian 
knot of the origin of evil can be disentangled by that or any 
similar assertions. The received hypothesis of a Being resembling 
men in the moral attributes of his nature, having called us out of 


170 


NOTES ON HELLAS. 


non-existence, and after inflicting on us the misery of the com- 
mission of error, should superadd that of the punishment and the 
privations consequent upon it, still would remain inexplicable and 
incredible. That there is a true solution of the riddle, and that 
in our present state the solution is unattainable by us, are pro- 
positions which may be regarded as equally certain ; meanwhile, 
as it is the province of the poet to attach himself to those ideas 
which exalt and ennoble humanity, let him be permitted to have 
conjectured the condition of that futurity towards which we are 
all impelled by an inextinguishable thirst for immortality. Until 
better arguments can be produced than sophisms which disgrace 
the cause, this desire itself must remain the strongest and the 
only presumption that eternity is the inheritance of every 
thinking being. 


P. 138, 1. 9. 

No hoary priests after that Patriarch. 

The Greek Patriarch, after having been compelled to fulminate an 
anathema against the insurgents, was put to death by the Turks. 

Fortunately the Greeks have been taught that they cannot buy 
security by degradation, and the Turks, though equally cruel, are 
less cunning than the smooth-faced tyrants of Europe. 

As to the anathema, his Holiness might as well have thrown 
his mitre at Mount Athos for any effect that it produced. The 
chiefs of the Greeks are almost all men of comprehension and 
enlightened views on religion and politics. 

P. 148, 1. 28. 

The freeman of a western poet chief. 

A Greek who had been Lord Byron’s servant commands the 
insurgents in Attica. This Greek, Lord Byron informs me, 
though a poet and an enthusiastic patriot, gave him rather the 
idea of a timid and unenterprising person. It appears that cir- 
cumstances make men what they are, and that we all contain the 
germ of a degree of degradation or greatness, whose connexion 
with our character is determined by events. 


NOTES ON HELLAS. 


171 


P. 150, 1. 4. 

The Greeks expect a Saviour from the west. 

It is reported that this Messiah had arrived at a sea-port near 
Lacedemon in an American brig. The association of names and 
ideas is irresistibly ludicrous, but the prevalence of such a rumour 
strongly marks the state of popular enthusiasm in Greece. 

P. 158, 1. 7. 

The sound 

As of the assault of an imperial city. 

For the vision of Mahmud of the taking of Constantinople in 
1445, see Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 
xii. p. 223. 

The manner of the invocation of the spirit of Mahomet the 
Second will be censured as overdrawn. I could easily have made 
the Jew a regular conjuror, and the Phantom an ordinary ghost. 
I have preferred to represent the Jew as disclaiming all preten- 
sion, or even belief, in supernatural agency, and as tempting 
Mahmud to that state of mind in which ideas may be supposed 
to assume the force of sensation, through the confusion of thought, 
with the objects of thought, and excess of passion animating the 
creations of the imagination. 

It is a sort of natural magic, susceptible of being exercised in a 
degree by any one who should have made himself master of 
the secret associations of another’s thoughts. 

P. 166, 1. 26. 

CHORUS. 

The final chorus is indistinct and obscure as the event of the 
living drama whose arrival it foretells. 

Prophecies of wars, and rumours of wars, &c. may safely be made 
by poet or prophet in any age ; but to anticipate, however darkly, 
a period of regeneration and happiness, is a more hazardous exer- 
cise of the faculty which bards possess or feign. It will remind 
the reader, magno nec proximus intervallo” of Isaiah and Virgil, 
whose ardent spirits, overleaping the actual reign of evil which we 


17-2 


NOTES ON HELLAS. 


endure and bewail, already saw the possible and perhaps approach- 
ing state of society in which the ^^ion shall lie down with the lamb,” 
and omnis feret omnia tellus.” Let these great names be my 
authority and excuse. 


P. 167, 1. 25. 

Saturn and Love their long repose, 

Saturn and Love were among the deities of a real or imagi- 
nary state of innocence and happiness. All those who fell^ or the 
Gods of Greece, Asia, and Egypt ; the One, who rose, or Jesus 
Christ, at whose appearance the idols of the Pagan world were 
amerced of their worship ; and the many unsubdued, or the 
monstrous objects of the idolatry of China, India, the Antarctic 
islands, and the native tribes of America, certainly have reigned 
over the understandings of men in conjunction or in succession, 
during periods in which all we know of evil has been in a state of 
portentous, and, until the revival of learning and the arts, per- 
petually increasing activity. The Grecian Gods seem indeed to 
have been personally more innocent, although it cannot be said 
that, as far as temperance and chastity are concerned, they gave 
so edifying an example as their successor. The sublime human 
character of Jesus Christ was deformed by an imputed identifica- 
tion with a power, who tempted, betrayed, and punished the 
innocent beings who were called into existence by his sole will ; 
and for the period of a thousand years, the spirit of this most 
just, wise, and benevolent of men, has been propitiated with 
myriads of hecatombs of those who approached the nearest to his 
innocence and wisdom, sacrificed under every aggravation of 
atrocity and variety of torture. The horrors of the Mexican, 
the Peruvian, and the Indian superstitions are well kno^m. 


NOTE ON HELLAS. 


BY THE EDITOR. 

The south of Europe was in a state of great political 
excitement at the beginning of the year 1821. The Spanish 
Revolution had been a signal to Italy — secret societies were 
formed — and when Naples rose to declare the Constitution, 
the call was responded to from Brundusium to the foot of 
the Alps. To crush these attempts to obtain liberty, early 
in 1821, the Austrians poured their armies into the Pen- 
insula : at first their coming rather seemed to add energy 
and resolution to a people long enslaved. The Piedmontese 
asserted their freedom ; Genoa threw off the yoke of the 
King of Sardinia ; and, as if in playful imitation, the people 
of the little state of Massa and Carrara gave the conge to 
their sovereign and set up a republic. 

Tuscany alone was perfectly tranquil. It was said, that 
the Austrian minister presented a list of sixty Carbonari to the 
grand-duke, urging their imprisonment ; and the grand-duke 
replied, “ I do not know whether these sixty men are Car- 
bonari, but I know if I imprison them, I shall directly have 
sixty thousand start up.” But though the Tuscans had no 
desire to disturb the paternal government, beneath whose 
shelter they slumbered, they regarded the progress of the 
various Italian revolutions with intense interest, and hatred 


174 


editor’s note on HELL.1S. 


for the Austrian was warm in every bosom. But they had 
slender hopes ; they knew that the Neapolitans would offer 
no fit resistance to the regular German troops, and that the 
overthrow of the Constitution in Naples would act as a 
decisive blow against all struggles for liberty in Italy. 

We have seen the rise and progress of reform. But the 
Holy Alliance was alive and active in those days, and few 
could dream of the peaceful triumph of liberty. It seemed 
then that the armed assertion of freedom in the south of 
Europe was the only hope of the liberals, as, if it pre- 
vailed, the nations of the north would imitate the example. 
Happily the reverse has proved the fact. The countries 
accustomed to the exercise of the privileges of freemen, to a 
limited extent, have extended, and are extending these 
limits. Freedom and knowledge have now a chance of pro- 
ceeding hand in hand ; and if it continue thus, we may hope 
for the durability of both. Then, as I have said, in 1821, 
Shelley, as well as every other lover of liberty, looked upon 
the struggles in Spain and Italy as decisive of the destinies 
of the world, probably for centuries to come. The interest 
he took in the progress of affairs was intense. When Genoa 
declared itself free, his hopes were at their highest. Day after 
day, he read the bulletins of the Austrian army, and sought 
eagerly to gather tokens of its defeat. He heard of the revolt 
of Genoa with emotions of transport. His whole heart and 
soul were in the triumph of their cause. We were living at 
Pisa at that time; and several well-informed Italians, at the 
head of whom we may place the celebrated Vacca, were accus- 
tomed to seek for sympathy in their hopes from Shelley : they 
did not find such for the despair they too generally experi- 
enced, founded on contempt for their southern countrymen. 


EDITOR S NOTE ON HELLAS. 


175 


While the fate of the progress of the Austrian armies then 
invading Naples was yet in suspense, the news of another 
revolution filled him with exultation. We had formed the 
acquaintance at Pisa of several Constantinopolitan Greeks, of 
the family of Prince Caradja, formerly Hospodar of Walla- 
chia, who, hearing that the bowstring, the accustomed finale 
of his viceroyalty, was on the road to him, escaped with his 
treasures, and took up his abode in Tuscany. Among these 
was the gentleman to whom the drama of Hellas is dedicated. 
Prince Mavrocordato was warmed by those aspirations for 
the independence of his country, which filled the hearts of 
many of his countrymen. He often intimated the possibility 
of an insurrection in Greece ; but we had no idea of its being 
so near at hand, when, on the 1st of April, 1821, he called 
on Shelley ; bringing the proclamation of his cousin. Prince 
Ipsilanti, and, radiant with exultation and delight, declared 
that henceforth Greece would be free, 

Shelley had hymned the dawn of liberty in Spain and 
Naples, in two odes, dictated by the warmest enthusiasm ; 
—he felt himself naturally impelled to decorate with poetry 
the uprise of the descendants of that people, whose works 
he regarded with deep admiration ; and to adopt the vatici- 
natory character in prophesying their success. Hellas” was 
wi’itten in a moment of enthusiasm. It is curious to remark 
how well he overcomes the difficulty of forming a drama out 
of such scant materials. His prophecies, indeed, came true 
in their general, not their particular purport. He did not 
foresee the death of Lord Londonderry, which was to be the 
epoch of a change in English politics, particularly as regarded 
foreign affairs ; nor that the navy of his country would fight 
for instead of against the Greeks ; and by the battle of 


176 


EDITORS NOTE ON HELLAS. 


Navarino secure their enfranchisement from the Turks. Al- 
most against reason, as it appeared to him, he resolved to 
believe that Greece would prove triumphant ; and in this 
spirit, auguring ultimate good, yet grieving over the vicissi- 
tudes to be endured in the interval, he composed his drama. 

The chronological order to be observed in the arrangement 
of the remaining poems, is interrupted here, that his dramas 
may follow each other consecutively. Hellas” was among 
the last of his compositions, and is among the most beautiful. 
The choruses are singularly imaginative, and melodious in 
their versification. There are some stanzas that beautifully 
exemplify Shelley’s peculiar style ; as, for instance, the asser- 
tion of the intellectual empire which must be for ever the 
inheritance of the country of Homer, Sophocles, and Plato : 

But Greece and her foundations are 
Built below the tide of war ; 

Based on the crystalline sea 
Of thought and its eternity. 

And again, that philosophical truth, felicitously imaged 
forth — 

Revenge and wrong bring forth their kind, 

The foul cubs like their parents are ; 

Their den is in the guilty mind, 

And conscience feeds them with despair. 

The conclusion of the last chorus is among the most beautiful 
of his lyrics ; the imagery is distinct and majestic ; the prophecy, 
such as poets love to dwell upon, the regeneration of man- 
kind — and that regeneration reflecting back splendour on the 
foregone time, from which it inherits so much of intellectual 
wealth, and memory of past virtuous deeds, as must render the 
possession of happiness and peace of tenfold value. 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS; 


SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


sa C'rageUi), in 2Ttoo ^cts. 


TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL DORIC. 


Choose Reform or Civil War, 

When through thy streets, instead of hare with dogs, 
A Consort- Queen shall hunt a King with hogs, 
Riding on the Ionian Minotaur. 


VOL. II. 



ADVERTISEMENT. 


This Tragedy is one of a triad, or system of three Plays, (an 
arrangement according to which the Greeks were accustomed to 
connect their Dramatic representations,) elucidating the wonder- 
ful and appalling fortunes of the Swellfoot dynasty. It was 
evidently written by some learned Theban, and from its charac- 
teristic dulness, apparently before the duties on the importation 
of Attic salt had been repealed by the Boeotarchs. The tenderness 
with which he beats the Pigs proves him to have been a sus 
Boeotice; possibly Epicun de grege porcus ; for, as the poet 
observes, 

“ A fellow feeling makes us wond’rous kind.” 

No liberty has been taken with the translation of this remark- 
able piece of antiquity, except the suppressing a seditious and 
blasphemous chorus of the Pigs and Bulls at the last act. The 
word Hoydipouse, (or more properly (Edipus,) has been rendered 
literally Swellfoot, without its having been conceived necessary 
to determine whether a swelling of the hind or the fore feet of 
the Swinish Monarch is particularly indicated. 

Should the remaining portions of this Tragedy be found, entitled, 
“ Swellfoot in Angaria , and Charite,^^ the Translator might be 
tempted to give them to the reading Public. 


DRAMATIS PERSONS. 


Tyrant Swellfoot, King of Thebes. 
loxA Taurina, his Queen. 

Mammon, Arch-Priest of Famine. 


PuRGANAX, 

Dakry 

Laoctonos, 


Wizards. Mmisters of 
Swellfoot. 


The Gadfly. 

The Leech. 

The Rat. 

The Minotaur. 

Moses, the Sow-gelder. 
Solomon, the Porkman. 
Zephaniah, Pig-butcher. 


Chorus Swinish Multitude. 


Guards, Attendants, Priests, S^c. Sfc. 


Scene — Thebes. 


CEDIPUS TYRANNUS. 


ACT I. 

Scene I . — A magnificent Tem^ile, built of thigh-bones and death's- 
heads, and tiled with scalps. Over the Altar the statue of 
Famine, veiled ; a number of boars, sows, and sucking-pigs, 
crowned with thistle, shamrock, and oak, sitting on the steps, and 
dinging round the Altar of the Temple. 


Enter Swellfoot, in his royal robes, without perceiving the Pigs. 

SWELLFOOT. 

Thou supreme Goddess ! by whose power divine 
These graceful limbs are clothed in proud array 

[He contemplates himself with satisfaction . 
Of gold and purple, and this kingly paunch 
Swells like a sail before a favouring breeze, 

And these most sacred nether promontories 
Lie satisfied with layers of fat ; and these 
Boeotian cheeks, like Egypt’s pyramid, 

(Nor with less toil were their foundations laid,*) 

Sustain the cone of my untroubled brain, 

* See Universal History for an account of the number of people who died, 
and the immense consumption of garlic by the wretched Egyptians, who 
made a sepulchre for the name as well as the bodies of their tyrants. 


182 


(EDIPUS TYPANNUS; 


That point, the emblem of a pointless nothing ! 
Thou to whom Kings and lam^elled Emperors, 
Radical-butchers, Paper-money-millers, 

Bishops and deacons, and the entire army 
Of those fat martyrs to the persecution 
Of stifling turtle-soup, and brandy- devils, 

Offer their secret vows ! Thou plenteous Ceres 
Of their Eleusis, hail ! 

THE SWINE. 

Eigh ! eigh ! eigh ! eigh ! 

SWELLFOOT. 

Ha ! what are ye, 

Who, crowned with leaves devoted to the Furies, 
Cling round this sacred shrine ? 


SWINE. 

Aigh ! aigh ! aigh ! 

SWELLFOOT. 

What ! ye that are 
The very beasts that offered at her altar 
With blood and groans, salt-cake, and fat, and inv/ards, 
Ever propitiate her reluctant will 
When taxes are withheld ? 

SWINE. 

Ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! 

SWELLFOOT. 

What ! ye who grub 
With filthy snouts my red potatoes up 
In Allan’s rushy bog ? Who eat the oats 
Up, from my cavalry in the Hebrides ? 

Who swill the hog-wash soup my cooks digest 
From bones, and rags, and scraps of shoe-leather, 
Wliich should be given to cleaner pigs than you ? 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


183 


THE SWINE. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

The same, alas ! the same ; 

Though only now the name 
Of pig remains to me. 

SEMICHORUS II. 

If 'twere your kingly will 
Us wretched swine to kill, 

What should we yield to thee ? 

SWELLFOOT. 

Why skin and bones, and some few hairs for mortar. 

CHORUS OP SWINE. 

I have heard your Laureate sing. 

That pity was a royal thing ; 

Under your mighty ancestors, we pigs 
Were hless’d as nightingales on myrtle sprigs, 

Or grasshoppers that live on noon-day dew, 

And sung, old annals tell, as sweetly too : 

But now our sties are fallen in, we catch 

The murrain and the mange, the scab and itch ; 
Sometimes your royal dogs tear down our thatch. 
And then we seek the shelter of a ditch ; 

Hog- wash or grains, or ruta-baga, none 
Has yet been ours since your reign begun. 

FIRST SOW. 

My pigs, ’tis in vain to tug ! 

SECOND SOW. 

I could almost eat my litter ! 

FIRST PIG. 

I suck, but no milk will come from the dug 

SECOND PIG. 

Our skin and our bones would be bitter. 


184 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS; 


THE BOARS. 

We fight for this rag of greasy rug, 

Though a trough of wash would he fitter. 

SEMICHORUS. 

Happier swine were they than we, 

Drowned in the Gadarean sea — 

I wish that pity would drive out the devils 
Which in your royal bosom hold their revels. 

And sink us in the waves of your compassion ! 

Alas ! the pigs are an unhappy nation ! 

Now if your majesty would have our bristles 
To bind yom' mortar with, or fill our colons 
With rich blood, or make brawn out of our gristles. 

In policy — ask else your royal Solons — 

You ought to give us hog-wash and clean straw. 

And sties well thatched ; besides, it is the law ! 

SWELLFOOT. 

This is sedition, and rank blasphemy ! 

Ho ! there, my guards ! 

Enter a Guard. 

GUARD. 

Your sacred Majesty ? 

SWELLFOOT. 

Call in the Jews, Solomon the comt porkman, 

Moses the sow-gelder, and Zephaniah the hog-butcher. 

GUARD. 

They are in waiting, sire. 

Enter Solomon, Moses, and Zephaniah. 

SWELLFOOT. 

Out with your knife, old Moses, and spay those sows, 

\Tlie Pigs imn about in consternation. 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


185 


That load the earth with pigs ; cut close and deep. 

Moral restraint I see has no effect, 

Nor prostitution, nor our own example, 

Starvation, typhus-fever, war, nor prison — 

This was the art which the arch-priest of Famine 
Hinted at in his charge to the Theban clergy — 

Cut close and deep, good Moses. 

MOSES. 

Let your majesty 

Keep the boars quiet, else — 

SWELLFOOT. 

Zephaniah, cut 

That fat hog’s throat, the brute seems overfed ; 

Seditious hunks ! to whine for want of grains. 

ZEPHANIAH. 

Your sacred majesty, he has the dropsy; — 

We shall find pints of hydatids in’s liver, 

He has not half an inch of wholesome fat 
Upon his carious ribs — 

SWELLFOOT. 

’Tis all the same. 

He ’ll serve instead of riot-money, when 

Our murmuring troops bivouaque in Thebes’ streets ; 

And January winds, after a day 
Of butchering, will make them relish carrion. 

Now, Solomon, I ’ll sell you in a lump 
The whole kit of them. 

SOLOMON. 

Why, your majesty, 

I could not give 

SWELLFOOT. 

Kill them out of the way. 

That shall he price enough, and let me hear 
Their everlasting grunts and whines no more ! 

[Exeunt, driving in the Swine. 


1.86 


(EDIPUS TYEANNUS; 


Enter Mammon, the Arch Priest; and Purganax, Chief of 
the Council of Wizards. 

PURGANAX. 

The future looks as black as death, a cloud, 

Dark as the frown of Hell, haugs over it — 

The troops grow mutinous — the revenue fails — 
There ’s something rotten in us — for the level 
Of the State slopes, its very bases topple ; 

The boldest turn their hacks upon themselves ! 

MAMMON. 

Why what ’s the matter, my dear fellow, now ? 

Do the troops mutiny? — decimate some regiments 
Does money fail ? — come to my mint — coin paper. 
Till gold be at a discount, and, ashamed 
To show his bilious face, go purge himself, 

In emulation of her vestal whiteness. 

PURGANAX. 

Oh, would that this were all ! The oracle ! 

MAMMON. 

Why it was I who spoke that oracle. 

And whether I was dead drunk or inspired, 

I cannot well remember ; nor, in truth. 

The oracle itself ! 

PURGANAX. 

The words went thus : — 

“ Boeotia, choose reform or civil war ! 

When tln’ough the streets, instead of hare with dogs, 
A Consort-Queen shall hunt a King with hogs. 
Biding on the Ionian Minotaur.” 

MAMMON. 

Now if the oracle had ne’er foretold 
This sad alternative, it must arrive. 

Or not, and so it must now that it has ; 


OK. SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 187 

And whether I was urged by grace divine, 

Or Lesbian liquor to declare these words, 

Which must, as all words must, be false or tme ; 

It matters not : for the same power made all, 

Oracle, wine, and me and you — or none — 

Tis the same thing. If you knew as much 
Of oracles as I do 

PURGANAX. 

You arch-priests 
Believe in nothing ; if you were to dream 
Of a particular number in the lottery. 

You would not buy the ticket ! 

MAMMON. 

Yet our tickets 

Are seldom blanks. But what steps have you taken ? 

For prophecies, when once they get abroad, 

Like liars who tell the truth to serve their ends. 

Or hypocrites, who, from assuming virtue, 

Do the same actions that the virtuous do. 

Contrive their own fulfilment. This Iona — 

Well — ^you know what the chaste Pasiphae did. 

Wife to that most religious King of Crete, 

And still how popular the tale is here ; 

And these dull swine of Thebes boast their descent 
From the free Minotaur. You know they still 
Call themselves bulls, though thus degenerate ; 

And everything relating to a bull 
Is popular and respectable in Thebes : 

Their arms are seven bulls in a field gules. 

They think their strength consists in eating beef, — 

Now there were danger in the precedent 
If Queen Iona 

PUROANAX. 

I have taken good care 

That shall not be. I struck the crust o’ the earth 


188 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS; 


With tliis enchanted rod, and Hell lay bare ! 

And from a cavern full of ugly shapes, 

I chose a Leech, a Gadfly, and a Rat. 

The gadfly was the same which Juno sent 
To agitate lo *, and which Ezechiel f mentions 
That the Lord whistled for out of the mountains 
Of utmost Ethiopia, to torment 
Mesopotamian Babylon. The beast 
Has a loud tmmpet like the Scarabee ; 

His crooked tail is barbed with many stings. 

Each able to make a thousand wounds, and each 
Immedicable ; fi’om his convex eyes 
He sees fah things in many hideous shapes. 

And tmmpets all his falsehood to the world. 

Like other beetles he is fed on dung — 

He has eleven feet vdth which he crawls, 

Trailmg a blistering slime ; and this foul beast 
Has tracked Iona from the Theban limits. 

From isle to isle, from city unto city. 

Urging her flight from the far Chersonese 
To fabulous Solyma, and the ^tnean Isle, 

Ortygia, Melite, and Calvpso’s Rock, 

And the swsirt tribes of Garamant and Fez, 

H^olia and Elysium, and thy shores, 

Panhenope, which now, alas ! are free ! 

And through the fortunate SatmTiian land. 

Into the darkness of the West. 

MAMMON. 

But if 

This Gadfly should drive Iona hither ? 

PURGANAX. 

Gods ! what an if ! but there is my grey Rat ; 

* The Prometheus Bound of jEschylus. 

+ And the Lord whistled for the gadfly out of Ethiopia, and for the beeout 
of Egypt, Ac. — Ezechiel. 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


189 


So thin with want, he can crawl in and out 
Of any narrow chink and filthy hole, 

And he shall creep into her dressing-room. 

And — 

MAMMON. 

My dear friend, where are your wits ? as if 
She does not always toast a piece of cheese, 

And bait the trap ? and rats, when lean enough 
To crawl through such chinks 

PURGANAX. 

But my Leech — a leech 
Fit to suck blood, with lubricous round rings. 

Capaciously expatiative, which make 
His little body like a red balloon. 

As full of blood as that of hydrogen. 

Sucked from men’s hearts ; insatiably he sucks 
And clings and pulls — a horse-leech, whose deep maw 
The plethoric King Swellfoot could not fill. 

And who, till full, will cling for ever. 

MAMMON. 

This 

For Queen Iona might suffice, and less ; 

But ’tis the swinish multitude I fear. 

And in that fear I have 

PURGANAX. 

Done what ? 

MAMMON. 

Disinherited 

My eldest son Chrysaor, because he 
Attended public meetings, and would always 
Stand prating there of commerce, public faith. 

Economy, and unadulterate coin. 

And other topics, ultra-radical ; 


190 


(EDIPUS TYKANNUS; 


And have entailed my estate, called the Fool’s Paradise, 
And funds, in fairy-money, bonds, and bills. 

Upon my accomplished daughter Banknotina, 

And married her to the Gallows*. 

PURGANAX. 

A good match ! 

MAMMON. 

A high connexion, Purganax. The bridegroom 
Is of a very ancient family 

Of Hounslow Heath, Tyburn, and the New Drop, 

And has great influence in both Houses ; — Oh ! 

He makes the fondest husband ; nay too fond : — 
New-married people should not kiss in public ; — 

But the poor souls love one another so ! 

And then my little grandchildren, the Gibbets, 

Promising children as you ever saw, — 

The young playing at hanging, the elder learning 
How to hold radicals. They are well taught too. 

For every Gibbet says its catechism. 

And reads a select chapter in the Bible 

Before it goes to play. [A most tremendous humming is heard. 

PURGANAX. 

Ha ! what do I hear ? 

Enter Gadfly. 

MAMMON. 

Your Gadfly, as it seems, is tired of gadding. 

GADFLY. 

Hum ! hum ! hum ! 

From the lakes of the Alps, and the cold grey scalps 
Of the mountains, I come ! 

Hum ! hum ! hum ! 


* “ If one should marry a gallows, and beget young gibbets, I never saw 
one so prone.” — Cymbkline, 


OE, SWELLFOOT THE TYEANT. 


191 


From Morocco and Fez, and the high palaces 
Of golden Byzantium ; 

From the temples divine of old Palestine, 

From x\thens and Borne, 

With a ha ! and a hum ! 

I come ! I come ! 

All inn-doors and windows 
Were open to me ! 

I saw all that sin does. 

Which lamps hardly see 
That burn in the night by the curtained bed, — 

The impudent lamps ! for they blushed not red. 
Dinging and singing. 

From slumber I rung her. 

Loud as the clank of an ironmonger ! 

Hum ! hum ! hum ! 

Far, far, far. 

With the trump of my lips, and the sting at my hips, 
I drove her — afar I 
Far, far, hir. 

From city to city, abandoned of pity, 

A ship without needle or star ; — 

Homeless she past, like a cloud on the blast. 

Seeking peace, finding war ; — 

She is here in her car, 

From afar, and afar ; — 

Hum ! hum ! 

I have stung her and wrung her ! 

The venom is working ; — 

And if you had hung her 
With canting and quirking, 

She could not be deader than she will be soon ; — 

I have driven her close to you, under the moon. 


192 


CEDIPUS TYKANNUS ; 


Night and day, hum ! hum ! ha ! 

I have hummed her and drummed her 

From place to place, till at last I have dumbed her. 

Hum ! hum ! hum ! 

LEECH. 

I will suck 
Blood or muck ! 

The disease of the state is a plethory, 

Who so fit to reduce it as I ? 

RAT. 

1 11 slily seize and 
Let blood from her weasand, — 

Creeping through crevice, and chink, and cranny, 

With my snaky tail, and my sides so scranny. 

PURGANAX. 

Aroint ye ! thou unprofitable worm ! [To the Leech. 

x\nd thou, dull beetle, get thee back to hell ! 

[To the Gadfly. 

To sting the ghosts of Babylonian kings. 

And the ox-headed lo. 

SWINE {within). 

Ugh, ugh, ugh ! 

Hail ! Iona the divine, 

We will he no longer swine, 

But hulls with horns and dewlaps. 

RAT. 

For, 

You know, my lord, the Minotaur 

puRGANAX {fiercely). 

Be silent ! get to hell ! or I will call 

The cat out of the kitchen. Well, Lord Mammon, 

This is a pretty business ! [Exit the Rat. 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


198 


MAMMON. 

I will go 

And spell some scheme to make it ugly then. 

Enter Swellfoot. 


[Exit. 


SWELLFOOT. 

She is returned ! Taurina is in Thebes 
When Swellfoot wishes that she were in hell ! 

Oh, Hymen ! clothed in yellow jealousy. 

And waving o’er the couch of wedded kings 
The torch of Discord vdth its fiery hair ; 

This is thy work, thou patron saint of queens ! 

Swellfoot is wived ! though parted by the sea. 

The very name of wife had conjugal rights ; 

Her cursed image ate, drank, slept with me, 

And in the arms of Adiposa oft 

Her memory has received a husband’s 

[A loud tumult, and cries of“ Iona for ever! — No Swellfoot! 


SWELLFOOT. 

Hark ! 

How the swine cry Iona Taurina ! 

I suffer the real presence : Purganax, 

Off with her head ! 

PURGANAX. 

But I must first impannel 

A jury of the pigs. 

SWELLFOOT. 

Pack them then. 

PURGANAX. 

Or fattening some few in two separate sties. 

And giving them clean straw, tying some bits 
Of ribbon round their legs — giving their sows 
Some tawdry lace, and bits of lustre glass, 

VOL. II. o 


194 


(EDIPUS TYEANNUS ; 


And their young boars white and red rags, and tails 
Of cows, and jay feathers, and sticking cauliflowers 
Between the ears of the old ones ; and when 
They are persuaded, that by the inherent virtue 
Of these things, they are all imperial pigs. 

Good Lord ! they ’d rip each other’s bellies up. 

Not to say help us in destroying her. 

SWELLFOOT. 

Tliis plan might be tried too ; — where’s General Laoctonos 

Enter Laoctonos and Dakry. 

It is my royal pleasure 

That you. Lord General, bring the head and body. 

If separate it would please me better, hither 
Of Queen Iona. 

LAOCTONOS. 

That pleasure I well knew. 

And made a charge with those battalions bold, 

Called, from their dress and grin, the royal apes. 

Upon the swine, who in a hollow square 
Enclosed her, and received the first attack 
Like so many rhinoceroses, and then 
Ketreating in good order, with bare tusks 
And wrinkled snouts presented to the foe. 

Bore her in triumph to the public sty. 

What is still worse, some sows upon the groimd 
Have given the ape-guards apples, nuts, and gin, 

And they all whisk their tails aloft, and cry, 

“ Long live Iona ! down with Swellfoot ! ” 

PURGANAX. 

Hark ! 

THE SWINE, {without). 

Long live Iona ! down with Swellfoot ! 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


195 


DAKRY. 

I 

Went to the garret of the swineherd’s tower, 

Which overlooks the sty, and made a long 
Harangue (all words) to the assembled swine. 

Of delicacy, mercy, judgment, law, 

Morals, and precedents, and purity, 

Adultery, destitution, and divorce. 

Piety, faith, and state necessity. 

And how I loved the queen ! — and then I wept. 

With the pathos of my own eloquence. 

And every tear turned to a mill-stone, which 
Brained many a gaping pig, and there was made 
A slough of blood and brains upon the place, 

Greased with the pounded bacon ; round and round 
The millstones rolled, ploughing the pavement up, 

And hurling sucking pigs into the air. 

With dust and stones. 

Enter Mammon. 

MAMMON. 

I wonder that grey wizards 
Like you should be so beardless in their schemes ; 

It had been but a point of policy 
To keep Iona and the swine apart. 

Divide and rule ! hut ye have made a junction 
Between tw^o parties who will govern you. 

But for my art. — Behold this bag ! it is 
The poison bag of that Green Spider huge. 

On which our spies skulked in ovation through 

The streets of Thebes, when they were paved with dead : 

A bane so much the deadlier fills it now. 

As calumny is worse than death, — for here 
The Gadfly’s venom, fifty times distilled. 

Is mingled with the vomit of the Leech, 

In due proportion, and black ratsbane, which 
o 2 


196 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS ; 


That very Rat, who, like the Pontic tyrant. 

Nurtures himself on poison, dare not touch; — 

All is sealed up with the broad seal of Fraud, 

Who is the Devil’s Lord High Chancellor, 

And over it the primate of all Hell 

Murmured this pious baptism : — “ Be thou called 

The GREEN BAG ; and this power and grace be thine : 

That thy contents, on whomsoever poured, 

Turn innocence to guilt, and gentlest looks 
To savage, foul, and fierce deformity. 

Let all, baptised by thy infernal dew, 

Be called adulterer, drunkard, liar, wretch ! 

No name left out which orthodoxy loves. 

Court Journal or legitimate Review ! — 

Be they called tyrant, beast, fool, glutton, lover 
Of other wives and husbands than their own — 

The heaviest sin on this side of the Alps ! 

Wither they to a ghastly caricature 
Of what was human ! — let not man nor beast 
Behold their face with unaverted eyes ! 

Or hear their names with ears that tingle not 
With blood of indignation, rage, and shame ! ” 

This is a perilous liquor ; — good my lords, 

[SwELLFooT approaches to touch the green bag. 
Beware ! for God’s sake, beware ! — if you should break 
The seal, and touch the fatal liquor 

PURGANAX. 

There ! 

Give it to me. I have been use to handle 
All sorts of poisons. His dread majesty 
Only desires to see the colour of it. 

MAMMON, 

Now, with a little common sense, my lords, 

Only undoing all that has been done, 

(Yet so as it may seem we but confirm it,) 


OE, SWELLFOOT THE TYEANT. 


197 


Our victory is assured. We must entice 
Her majesty from the sty, and make the pigs 
Believe that the contents of the geeen bag 
Are the true test of guilt or innocence. 

And that, if she he guilty, ’twill transform her 
To manifest deformity like guilt. 

If innocent, she will become transfigured 
Into an angel, such as they say she is ; 

And they will see her flying through the air, 

So bright that she will dim the noon-day sun ; 
Showering down blessings in the shape of comfits. 
This, trust a priest, is just the sort of thing 
Swine will believe. I ’ll wager you will see them 
Climbing upon the thatch of their low sties ; 

With pieces of smoked glass, to watch her sail 
Among the clouds, and some will hold the flaps 
Of one another’s ears between their teeth. 

To catch the coming hail of comfits in. 

You, Purganax, who have the gift o’ the gab. 

Make them a solemn speech to this effect : 

I go to put in readiness the feast 
Kept to the honour of our goddess Famine, 
Where, for more glory, let the ceremony 
Take place of the uglification of the Queen. 

DAKKY {to SWELLFOOT.) 

I, as the keeper of your sacred conscience. 
Humbly remind your majesty that the care 
Of your high office, as man-milliner 
To red Bellona, should not be deferred. 

PURGANAX. 

All part, in happier plight to meet again. 


\Exeunt. 


END OF THE FIRST ACT. 


198 


OEDIPUS TYRANNUS; 


ACT II. 

Scene I . — The Public Sty, 
The Boars in full AssewMy. 


^?^^er‘P(JRGANAX. 

PURGANAX. 

Grant me your patience, gentlemen and boars, 
Ye, by whose patience under public burthens 
The glorious constitution of these sties 
Subsists, and shall subsist. The lean pig-rates 
Grow with the growing populace of swine. 

The taxes, that true source of piggishness, 
fHow can I find a more appropriate term 
To include religion, morals, peace, and plenty, 
And all that fit Boeotia as a nation 
To teach the other nations how to live ?) 
Increase with piggishness itself; and still 
Does the revenue, that great spring of all 
The patronage, and pensions, and by-payments. 
Which free-born pigs regard with jealous eyes. 
Diminish, till at length, by glorious steps. 

All the land’s produce will be merged in taxes. 

And the revenue will amount to nothing ! 

The failure of a foreign market for 
Sausages, bristles, and blood-puddings. 

And such home manufactures, is but partial ; 
And, that the population of the pigs. 

Instead of hog- wash, has been fed on straw 


OE, SWELLFOOT THE TYEANT. 


199 


And water, is a fact which is — you know — 
That is — it is a state necessity — 

Temporary, of course. Those impious pigs, 
Who, by frequent squeaks, have dared impugn 
The settled Swellfoot system, or to make 
Irreverent mockery of the genuflexions 
Inculcated by the arch-priest, have been whipt 
Into a loyal and an orthodox whine. 

Things being in this happy state, the Queen 
Iona 


A loud cry from the Pigs. 


She is innocent ! most innocent ! 


PURGANAX. 

That is the very thing that I was saying. 

Gentlemen swine ; the Queen Iona being 
Most innocent, no doubt, returns to Thebes, 

And the lean sows and boars collect about her. 
Wishing to make her think that we believe 
(I mean those more substantial pigs, who swill 
Rich hog-wash, while the others mouth damp straw,) 
That she is guilty ; thus, the lean-pig faction 
Seeks to obtain that hog-wash, which has been 
Your immemorial right, and which I will 
Maintain you in to the last drop of — 

A BOAR {interrupting him). 

What 

Does any one accuse her of? 

PURGANAX. 

Why, no one 

Makes any positive accusation ; — but 

There were hints dropped, and so the privy wizards 

Conceived that it became them to advise 

His majesty to investigate their truth ; — 


200 


(EDIPUS TYBANNUS * 


Not for his own sake ; he could he content 
To let his wife play any pranks she pleased, 

If, by that sufferance, he could please the pigs ; 

But then he fears the morals of the swine. 

The sows especially, and what effect 

It might produce upon the purity and 

Religion of the rising generation 

Of sucking-pigs, if it could he suspected 

That Queen Iona — pause. 

FIRST BOAR. 

Well, go on; we long 
To hear what she can possibly have done. 


PURGANAX. 

Why, it is hinted, that a certain hull — 

Thus much is known : — the milk-white hulls that feed 
Beside Clitumnus and the crystal lakes 
Of the Cisalpine mountains, in fresh dews 
Of lotus-grass and blossoming asphodel. 

Sleeking their silken hair, and with sweet breath 
Loading the morning winds until they faint 

With living fragrance, are so beautiful ! 

Well, I say nothing; — hut Europa rode 
On such a one from Asia into Crete, 

And the enamoured sea grew calm beneath 
His gliding beauty. And Pasiphae, 

Iona’s grandmother, but she is innocent ! 

And that both you and I, and all assert. 


Most innocent ! 


FIRST BOAR. 

PURGANAX. 

Behold this Bag ; a bag — 


SECOND BOAR. 

Oh ! no Geeen Bags ! ! Jealousy’s eyes are green, 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


201 


Scorpions are green, and water-snakes, and efts. 

And verdigris, and — 

PUKGANAX. 

Honourable swine, , 

In piggish souls can prepossessions reign ? ^ 

Allow me to remind you, grass is green — 

All flesh is grass ; — no bacon but is flesh — 

Ye are but bacon. This divining Bag 
(Which is not green, but only bacon colour) 

Is filled with liquor, which if sprinkled o’er 
A woman guilty of — we all know what— 

Makes her so hideous, till she finds one blind. 

She never can commit the like again. 

If innocent, she will turn into an angel. 

And rain down blessings in the shape of comfits 
As she flies up to heaven. Now, my proposal 
Is to convert her sacred majesty 
Into an angel, (as I am sure we shall do,) 

By pouring on her head this mystic water. 

[Sliowmg the Bag. 

I know that she is innocent ; I wish 
Only to prove her so to all the world. 

FIRST BOAR. 

Excellent, just, and noble Purganax ! 

SECOND BOAR. 

How glorious it will be to see her majesty 
Flying above our heads, her petticoats 
Streaming like — like — like — 

THIRD BOAR. 

Any thing. 

PURGANAX. 

Oh, no ! 

But like a standard of an admiral’s ship. 


202 


(EDIPUS TYKANNUS ; 


Or like the banner of a conquering host, 

Or like a cloud dyed in the dying day, 

Unravelled on the blast from a white mountain ; 

Or like a meteor, or a war-steed’s mane. 

Or water-fall from a dizzy precipice 
Scattered upon the wind. 

FIRST BOAR. 

Or a cow’s tail, — 

SECOND BOAR. 

Or any thing, as the learned boar observed. 

PURGANAX. 

Gentlemen boars, I move a resolution, 

That her most sacred majesty should be 
Invited to attend the feast of Famine, 

And to receive upon her chaste white body 
Dews of Apotheosis from this Bag. 

[A great confusion is heard of the Pigs out of Doors, which 
communicates itself to those within. During the first 
Strophe, the doors of the Sty are staved in, and a number 
of exceedingly lean Pigs and Sows and Boars rush in. 

SEMICHORUS I. 

No ! Yes ! 

SEMICHORUS II. 

Yes ! No ! 

SEMICHORUS I. 

A law ! 

SEMICHORUS IT. 

A flaw ! 


SEMICHORUS I. 

Porkers, we shall lose our wash, 

Or must share it with the lean pigs ! 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


208 


FIRST BOAR. 

Order ! order ! be not rash ! 

Was there ever such a scene, pigs ! 

AN OLD sow {rushing in), 

I never saw so fine a dash 
Since I first began to wean pigs 

SECOND BOAR {solemnly). 

The Queen will be an angel time enough. 

I vote, in form of an amendment, that 
Purganax rub a little of that stuff 
Upon his face — 

PURGANAX. 

[His heart is seen to heat through his waistcoat. 
Gods ! What would ye be at ? 

SEMICHORUS I. 

Purganax has plainly shown a 
Cloven foot and jack-daw feather. 

SEMICHORUS II. 

I vote Swellfoot and Iona 
Try the magic test together ; 

Whenever royal spouses bicker. 

Both should try the magic liquor. 

AN OLD BOAR {osidc). 

A miserable state is that of pigs. 

For if their drivers would tear caps and wigs. 

The swine must bite each other’s ear therefore. 

AN OLD SOW {aside). 

A wretched lot Jove has assigned to swine, 

Squabbling makes pig-herds hungry, and they dine 
On bacon, and whip sucking-pigs the more. 


204 


(EDIPUS TYEANNUS ; 


CHOEUS. 

Hog- wash has been ta en away : 

If the Bull-Queen is divested, 

We shall be in every way 

Hunted, stript, exposed., molested ; 

Let us do whate’er we may. 

That she shall not be arrested. 

Queen, we entrench you with walls of brawn, 

And palisades of tusks, sharp as a bayonet : 

Place your most sacred person here. We pawn 
Our lives that none a finger dare to lay on it. 

Those who wrong you, wrong us ; 

Those who hate you, hate us ; 

Those who sting you, sting us ; 

Those who bait you, bait us ; 

The oracle is now about to be 
Fulfilled by circumvolving destiny ; 

Which says : “ Thebes, choose reform or civil war, 
When through your streets, instead of hare with dogs, 
A Consokt-Queen shall hunt a Kino with hogs, 
Biding upon the Ionian Minotaue.” 

Enter Iona Taueina. 

Iona Taueina {coming forward) . 

Gentlemen swine, and gentle lady-pigs. 

The tender heart of every boar acquits 
Their Queen, of any act incongruous 
With native piggishness, and she reposing 
With confidence upon the grunting nation. 

Has thrown herself, her cause, her life, her all. 

Her innocence, into their hoggish arms ; 

Nor has the expectation been deceived 
Of finding shelter there. Yet know, great boars, 

(For such who ever lives among you finds you. 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


305 


And so do I) the innocent are proud ! 

I have accepted your protection only 
In compliment of your land love and care, 

Not for necessity. The innocent 

Are safest there where trials and dangers wait ; 

Innocent Queens o’er white-hot plough-shares tread 
Unsinged ; and ladies, Erin’s laureate sings it,* 

Decked with rare gems, and beauty rarer still. 

Walked from Killarney to the Giant’s Causeway, 
Through rebels, smugglers, troops of yeomanry. 
White-boys, and orange-boys, and constables. 
Tithe-proctors, and excise people, uninjured ! 

Thus I !— 

Lord PuRGANAX, I do commit myself 
Into your custody, and am prepared 
To stand the test, whatever it may be ! 

PURGANAX. 

This magnanimity in your sacred majesty 
Must please the pigs. You cannot fail of being 
A heavenly angel. Smoke your bits of glass. 

Ye loyal swine, or her transfiguration 
Will blind your wondering eyes. 

AN OLD BOAR {oside). 

Take care, my lord, 

They do not smoke you first. 

PURGANAX. 

At the approaching feast 
Of Famine, let the expiation be. 

SWINE. 

Content! content! 

* “ Rich and rare were the gems she wore ” 

See Moore's Irish Melodics. 


206 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS; 


IONA TATJRINA { oSlde ). 

I, most content of all, 

Know that my foes even thus prepare their fall ! 

\Exeunt omnes. 


SCENE II. 

The interior of the Temple of Famine. The statue of the Goddess, a 
skeleton clothed in party-coloured rags, seated upon a heap of 
skulls and loaves intermingled, A number of exceedingly fat 
Priests in black garments arrayed on each side, with marrow- 
bones and cleavers in their hands, A flourish of trumpets. 

Enter Mammon as Arch-priest, Swellfoot, Dakry, Purganax, Laoc- 
TONos, followed by Iona Taurina guarded. On the other side 
enter the Swine. 


CHORUS OF PRIESTS, 

Accompanied by the Court Porkman on marrow-bones and cleavers. 
Goddess bare, and gaunt, and pale. 

Empress of the world, all hail ! 

What though Cretans old called thee 
City-crested Cybele ? 

We call thee Famine ! 

Goddess of fasts and feasts, starving and cramming ; 
Through thee, for emperors, kings, and priests and lords. 
Who rule by viziers, sceptres, bank-notes, words, 

The earth pours forth its plenteous fruits. 

Corn, wool, linen, flesh, and roots — 

Those who consume these fruits through thee grow fat, 
Those who produce these fruits through thee grow lean. 
Whatever change takes place, oh, stick to that ! 

And let things be as they have ever been ; 
x\t least while we remain thy priests. 

And proclaim thy fasts and feasts ! 

Through thee the sacred Swellfoot dynasty 


OE, SWELLFOOT THE TYKANT. 


207 


Is based upon a rock amid that sea 
Whose waves are swine — so let it ever be ! 

[SwELLFOOT, (^€. Seat themselvcs at a table, magnificently covered 
at the wp'per end of the temple. Attendants pass over the 
stage with hog-wash in pails. A number of Pigs^ exceed- 
ingly lean, follow them licking up the wash. 

MAMMON. 

I fear your sacred majesty has lost 
The appetite which you were used to have. 

Allow me now to recommend this dish — 

A simple kickshaw by your Persian cook, 

Such as is served at the great King s second table. 

The price and pains which its ingredients cost, 

Might have maintained some dozen families 
A winter or two — not more — so plain a dish 
Could scarcely disagree. — 

SWELLFOOT. 

After the trial. 

And these fastidious pigs are gone, perhaps 
I may recover my lost appetite, — 

I feel the gout flying about my stomach — 

Give me a glass of Maraschino punch. 

PUKGANAX. 

[Filling his glo^s, and standing up. 
The glorious constitution of the Pigs ! 

ALL. 

A toast ! a toast ! stand up, and three times three ! 

DAKRY. 

No heel-taps — darken day-lights ! 

LAOCTONOS. 

Claret, somehow, 

Puts me in mind of blood, and blood of claret ! 


208 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS ; 


SWELLFOOT. 

Laoctonos is fishing for a compliment, 

But ’tis his due. Yes, you have drunk more vdne. 
And shed more blood, than any man in Thebes. 

{To PURGANAX.) 

For God’s sake stop the grunting of those pigs ! 

rURGANAX. 

We dare not, sire ! ’tis Famine’s privilege. 

CHORUS OF SWINE. 

Hail to thee, hail to thee. Famine ! 

Thy throne is on blood, and thy robe is of rags ; 
Thou devil which livest on damning ; 

Saint of new churches, and cant, and Green Bags ; 
Till in pity and terror thou risest. 

Confounding the schemes of the wisest. 

When thou liftest thy skeleton form. 

When the loaves and the skulls roll about. 

We will greet thee — the voice of a storm 
Would be lost in our terrible shout ! 

Then hail to thee, hail to thee, Famine ! 

Hail to thee. Empress of Earth ! 

When thou risest, dividing possessions ; 

When thou risest, uprooting oppressions ; 

In the pride of thy ghastly mirth. 

Over palaces, temples, and graves. 

We will rush as thy minister-slaves. 

Trampling behind in thy train. 

Till all be made level again ! 

MAMMON. 

I hear a crackling of the giant bones 
Of the dread image, and in the black pits 


OK, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


•209 


Which once were eyes, I see two livid flames : 
These prodigies are oracular, and show 
The presence of the unseen Deity. 

Mighty events are hastening to their doom ! 

SWELLFOOT. 

1 only hear the lean and mutinous swine 
Grunting about the temple. 

DAKRY. 

In a crisis 

Of such exceeding delicacy, I think 
We ought to put her majesty, the Queen, 
Upon her trial without delay. 


Is here. 


MAMMON. 

The Bag 


PURGANAX. 

I have rehearsed the entire scene 
W^ith an ox-bladder and some ditch-water. 

On Lady P. — it cannot fail. 

[Talcing up the hag. 
Your majesty {to Swellfoot) 

In such a filthy business had better 

Stand on one side, lest it should sprinkle you. 

A spot or two on me would do no harm ; 

Nay, it might hide the blood, which the sad genius 
Of the Green Isle has fixed, as by a spell. 

Upon my hrow” — which would stain all its seas. 

But which those seas could never wash away ! 


IONA TAURINA. 

My lord, I am ready — nay I am impatient. 

To undergo the test. 

[A graceful figure in a semi-transparent veil passes unnoticed 
through the Temple ; the word Liberty is seen through the 

VOL. II. p 


210 


(EDIPUS TYRANNUS ; 


veil, as if it were written in fire upon its forehead. Its 
words are almost drowned in the furious grunting of the 
Pigs^ and the business of the trial. She kneels on the steps 
of the Altar, and speaks in tones at first faint and low, hut 
which ever become louder and louder. 

Mighty Empress ! Death’s white wife ! 

Ghastly mother-in-law of life ! 

By the God who made thee such, 

By the magic of thy touch, 

By the starving and the cramming. 

Of fasts and feasts ! — by thy dread self, 0 Famine ! 

I charge thee ! when thou wake the multitude. 

Thou lead them not upon the paths of blood. 

The earth did never mean her foizon 
For those wFo crown life’s cup with poison 
Of fanatic rage and meaningless revenge — 

But for those radiant spirits, who are still 
The standard-bearers in the van of Change. 

Be they th’ appointed stewards, to fill 
The lap of Pain, and Toil, and Age ! — 

Remit, 0 Queen ! thy accustom’d rage ! 

Be what thou art not ! In voice faint and low 
Freedom calls Fainine, — her eternal foe, 

To brief alliance, hollow truce. — Rise now ! 

[ Whilst the veiled Figure has been chaunting this strophe, Mam- 
mon, Dakry, Laoctonos, and Swellpoot, have surrounded 
Iona Taurina, who, with her hands folded on her breast, 
and her eyes lifted to Heaven, stands, as with saintrlike 
resignation, to wait the issue of the business, in perfect confi- 
dence of her innocence. 

PuRGANAX, after unsealing the Green Bag, is gravely about to 
pour the liquor upon her head, when suddenly the whole 
expression of her Hgure and countenance changes; she 
snatches it from his hand with a loud laugh of triumph, 
and empties it over Swellpoot and his whole Court, who 
are instantly changed into a number of filthy and ugly 


OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 


2il 

animals, and rush out of the Temple. The image of Famine 
then arises with a tremendous sound, the Pigs begin 
scrambling for the loaves, and are tripped up by the sculls ; 
all those who eat the loaves are turned into Bulls, and 
arrange themselves quietly behind the altar. The image of 
Famine sinks through a- chasm in the earth, and a Minotaur 
rises. 

MINOTAUR. 

I am the Ionian Minotaur, the mightiest 
Of all Europa’s taurine progeny — 

I am the old traditional man bull ; 

And from my ancestors having been Ionian, 

I am called Ion, which, by interpretation, 

Is John ; in plain Theban, that is to say. 

My name ’s John Bull ; I am a famous hunter. 

And can leap any gate in all Boeotia, 

Even the palings of the royal park. 

Or double ditch about the new inclosures ; 

And if your majesty will deign to mount me, 

At least till you have hunted down your game, 

I will not throw you. 

IONA TAURINA. 

[During this speech she has been putting on hoots and spurs, 
and a hunting-cap, buchishly cocked on one side, and tucking 
up her hair, she leaps nimbly on his hack. 

Hoa ! hoa ! tallyho ! tallyho ! ho ! ho ! 

Come, let us hunt these ugly badgers down, 

These stinking foxes, these devouring otters. 

These hares, these wolves, these anything hut men. 

Hey, for a whipper-in ! my loyal pigs. 

Now let your noses he as keen as beagles’. 

Your steps as swift as greyhounds’, and your cries 
More dulcet and symphonious than the bells 
Of village- towers, on sunshine holiday ; 

Wake all the dewy woods with jangling music. 

Give them no law (are they not beasts of blood ?) 


212 (EDIPUS TYRANNUS; OR, SWELLFOOT THE TYRANT. 

But such as they gave you. Tallyho ! ho ! 

Through forest, furze, and bog, and den, and desert. 

Pursue the ugly beasts ! tallyho ! ho ! 

FULL CHORUS OF IONA AND THE SWINE. 

Tallyho ! tallyho ! 

Through rain, hail, and snow. 

Through brake, gorse, and briar, 

Through fen, flood, and mire, 

We go ! we go ! 

Tallyho ! tallyho ! 

Through pond, ditch, and slough, 

Wind them, and find them. 

Like the Devil behind them, 

Tallyho ! tallyho ! 

[Exeunt, in full cry ; Iona driving on the Swine, with the empty 
Green Bag. 


NOTE ON (EDIPUS TYRANNUS 


BY THE EDITOR. 

In the brief journal I kept in those days, I find recorded, in 
August 1820 , Shelley begins Swellfoot the Tyrant, suggested 
by the pigs at the fair of San Giuliano.” This was the period 
of Queen Caroline’s landing in England, and the struggles 
made by Geo. IV. to get rid of her claims ; which failing. 
Lord Castlereagh placed the Green Bag''‘ on the table of 
the House of Commons, demanding, in the King’s name, that 
an inquiry should be instituted into his wife’s conduct. These 
circumstances were the theme of all conversation among the 
English. We were then at the Baths of San Giuliano ; a 
friend came to visit us on the day when a fair was held in 
the square, beneath our windows : Shelley read to us his Ode 
to Liberty ; and was riotously accompanied by the grunting 
of a quantity of pigs brought for sale to the fair. He compared 
it to the chorus of frogs” in the satiric drama of Aristo- 
phanes ; and it being an hour of merriment, and one ludicrous 
association suggesting another, he imagined a political satirical 
drama on the circumstances of the day, to which the pigs 
would serve as chorus — and Swellfoot was begun. AVhen 
finished, it was transmitted to England, printed and published 
anonymously ; but stifled at the very dawn of its existence 
by the “ Society for the Suppression of Vice,” who threatened 


EDITORS NOTE ON (EDIPUS TYRANNUS. 


2U 


to prosecute it, if not immediately withdrawn. The friend 
who had taken the trouble of bringing it out, of course did 
not think it worth the annoyance and expense of a contest, 
and it was laid aside. 

Hesitation of whether it would do honour to Shelley pre- 
vented my publishing it at first ; but I cannot bring myself 
to keep back anything he ever wrote, for each word is fraught 
with the peculiar views and sentiments w^hich he believed to 
be beneficial to the human race ; and the bright light of 
poetry irradiates every thought. The world has a right to 
the entire compositions of such a man ; for it does not live 
and thrive by the out -worn lesson of the dullard or the hypo- 
crite, but by the original free thoughts of men of Genius, 
who aspire to pluck bright truth 

« from the pale-faced moon ; 

Or dive into the bottom of the deep, 

W^here fathom-line could never touch the ground, 

And pluck up drowned — ” 

truth. Even those who may dissent from his opinions will 
consider that he was a man of genius, and that the world will 
take more interest in his slightest word, than from the waters 
of Lethe, which are so eagerly prescribed as medicinal for all 
its wrongs and woes. This drama, however, must not be 
judged for more than was meant. It is a mere plaything of 
the imagination, which even may not excite smiles among 
many, who will not see wit in those combinations of thought 
wdiich were full of the ridiculous to the author. But, like 
everything he wrote, it breathes that deep sympathy for the 
sorrows of humanity, and indignation against its oppressors, 
which make it worthy of his name. 


EARLY POEMS. 


A SUMMER-EVENING CHURCH- YARD, 

LECHDALE, GLOUCESTERSHIRE. 


The wind has swept from the wide atmosphere 
Each vapour that obscured the sun-set’s ray ; 

And pallid evening twines its beaming hair 

In duskier braids around the languid eyes of day: 
Silence and twilight, unbeloved of men, 

Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen. 

They breathe their spells towards the departing day, 
Encompassing the earth, air, stars, and sea ; 

Light, sound, and motion own the potent sway, 
Responding to the charm with its own mystery. 

The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass 
Knows not their gentle motions as they pass. 

Thou too, aerial Pile ! whose pinnacles 

Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire, 

Obeyest in silence their sweet solemn spells, 

Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire. 
Around whose lessening and invisible height 
Gather among the stars the clouds of night. 


MUTABILITY. 


t>l6 

The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres : 

And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound, 

Half sense, half thought, among the darkness stirs. 

Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around 
And mingling with the still night and mute sky 
Its awful hush is felt inaudibly. 

Thus solemnised and softened, death is mild 
And terrorless as this serenest night : 

Here could I hope, like some inquiring child 

Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human sight 
Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep 
That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep. 


MUTABILITY. 

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon ; 

How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver. 
Streaking the darkness radiantly ! — yet soon 
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever : 

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings 
Give various response to each varying blast. 

To whose frail frame no second motion brings 
One mood or modulation like the last. 

We rest — A dream has power to poison sleep ; 

We rise — One wandering thought pollutes the day ; 
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep ; 

Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away : 

It is the same ! — For, be it joy or sorrow. 

The path of its departure still is free ; 

Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow ; 

Nought may endure but Mutability. 


217 


ON DEATH. 


There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the 
grave, whither thou goest. — Ecclesiastes. 


The pale, the cold, and the moony smile 
Which the meteor beam of a starless night 
Sheds on a lonely and sea-girt isle, 

Ere the dawning of morn’s undoubted light. 

Is the flame of life so fickle and wan 

That flits round our steps till their strength is gone. 

0 man ! hold thee on in courage of soul 

Through the stormy shades of thy worldly way, 
And the billows of cloud that around thee roll 
Shall sleep in the light of a wondrous day, 

Where hell and heaven shall leave thee free 
To the universe of destiny. 

This world is the nurse of all we know, 

This world is the mother of all we feel, 

And the coming of death is a fearful blow, 

To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel ; 
When all that we know, or feel, or see. 

Shall pass like an unreal mystery. 

The secret things of the grave are there. 

Where all but this frame must surely be. 

Though the fine- wrought eye and the wondrous ear 
No longer will live to hear or to see 
All that is great and all that is strange 
In ihe boundless realm of unending change. 


218 


TO =K * * * 


Who telleth a tale of unspeaking death ? 

Who lifteth the veil of vrhat is to come ? 

Who painteth the shadows that are beneath 
The wide winding caves of th e peopled tomb ? 

Or uniteth the hopes of what shall he 

With the fears and the love for that which we see ? 


* * * * 

AAKPTEI AIOI2n HOTMON AHOTMON. 


Oh ! there are spirits in the air, 

And genii of the evening breeze, 

And gentle ghosts, with eyes as fair 
As star-beams among twilight trees : — 
Such lovely ministers to meet 
Oft hast thou turned from men thy lonely feet. 

With mountain winds, and babbling springs, 
And mountain seas, that are the voice 
Of these inexplicable things. 

Thou didst hold commune, and rejoice 
When they did answer thee ; but they 
Cast, like a worthless boon, thy love away. 

And thou hast sought in starry eyes 

Beams that w-ere never meant for thine. 
Another’s w^ealth ; — tame sacrifice 
To a fond faith ! still dost thou pine ? 

Still dost thou hope that greeting hands. 

Voice, looks, or lips, may answer thy demands? 

Ah [ wherefore didst thou build thine hope 
On the false earth’s inconstancy ? 


TO WORDSWORTH. 


219 


Did thine own mind afford no scope 
Of dove, or moving thoughts to thee ? 

That natural scenes or human smiles 

Could steal the power to wind thee in their wiles. 

Yes, all the faithless smiles are fled 

Whose falsehood left thee broken-hearted ; 
The glory of the moon is dead ; 

Night’s ghost and dreams have now departed ; 
Thine own soul still is true to thee, 

But changed to a foul fiend through misery. 

This fiend, whose ghastly presence ever 
Beside thee like thy shadow hangs, 

Dream not to chase ; — the mad endeavour 
Would scourge thee to severer pangs. 

Be as thou art. Thy settled fate. 

Dark as it is, all change would aggravate. 


TO WORDSWORTH. 


Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know 
That things depart which never may return ; 
Childhood and youth, friendship and love’s first glow, 
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn. 
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine. 
Which thou too feel’st ; yet I alone deplore. 

Thou wert as a lone star, whose light did shine 
On some frail bark in winter’s midnight roar ; 

Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood 
Above the blind and battling multitude : 

In honoured poverty thy voice did weave 
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty, — 

Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve, 

Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be. 


220 


STANZAS.— APRIL, 1814. 


x\wAY ! the moor is dark beneath the moon, 

Rapid clouds have drunk the last pale beam of even : 
Away ! the gathering winds will call the darkness soon, 

And profoundest midnight shroud the serene lights of 
heaven. 

Pause not ! The time is past ! Every voice cries. Away ! 

Tempt not with one last glance thy friend’s ungentle mood : 
Thy lover’s eye, so glazed and cold, dares not entreat thy stay : 
Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude. 

Away, away ! to thy sad and silent home ; 

Pour hitter tears on its desolated hearth ; 

Watch the dim shades as like ghosts they go and come. 
And complicate strange webs of melancholy north. 

The leaves of wasted autumn woods shall float around thine 
head. 

The blooms of dewy spring shall gleam beneath thy feet: 
But thy soul or this world must fade in the frost that binds 
the dead. 

Ere midnight’s frown and morning’s smile, ere thou and 
peace may meet. 

The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose. 
For the weary winds are silent, or the moon is in the deep ; 
Some respite to its tm’bulence unresting ocean knows ; 
Whatever moves, or toils, or grieves, hath its appointed 
sleep 


LINES. 


221 


Thou in the grave shalt rest — jet till the phantoms flee 
Which that house and heath and garden made dear to 
thee erewhile, 

Thj remembrance, and repentance, and deep musings, are 
not free 

From the music of two voices, and the light of one sweet 
smile. 


LINES. 

The cold earth slept belov^r, 

Above the cold sky shone. 

And all around 
With a chilling soimd. 

From caves of ice and fields of snow, 

The breath of night like death did flow 
Beneath the sinking moon. 

The wintry hedge was black, 

The green grass was not seen, 

The birds did rest 
On the bare thorn’s breast. 

Whose roots, beside the pathway track, 

Had hound their folds o’er many a crack 
Which the frost had made between. 

Thine eyes glowed in the glare 
Of the moon’s dying light. 

As a fen-fire’s beam 
On a sluggish stream 
Gleams dimly — so the moon shone there. 

And it yellowed the strings of thy tangled hair. 
That shook in the wind of night. 


22’2 FEELINGS OF A EEPUBLICAN, ETC. 

The moon made thy lips pale, beloved ; 
The vrind made thy bosom chill ; 

The night did shed 
On thy dear head 
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie 
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky 
Might visit thee at will. 


FEELINGS OF A REPUBLICAN ON THE FALL 
OF BONAPARTE. 


I HATED thee, fallen tyrant ! I did groan 
To think that a most unambitious slave. 

Like thou, shouldst dance and revel on the gi’ave 
Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne 
Where it had stood even now ; thou didst prefer 
A frail and bloody pomp, which time has swept 
In fragments towards oblivion. Massacre, 

For this I prayed, would on thy sleep have crept, 
Treason and Slavery, Rapine, Fear, and Lust, 
And stifled thee, their minister. I know 
Too late, since thou and France are in the dust. 
That Virtue owns a more eternal foe 
Than force or fraud : old Custom, legal Crime, 
And bloody Faith, the foulest birth of time. 


NOTE ON THE EARLY POEMS. 


BY THE EDITOR. 

The remainder of Shelley’s Poems will be arranged in the 
order in which they were written. Of course^ mistakes will 
occur in placing some of the shorter ones ; for, as I have said, 
many of these were thrown aside, and I never saw them till 
I had the misery of looking over his writings, after the hand 
that traced them was dust ; and some were in the hands of 
others, and I never saw them till now. The subjects of the 
poems are often to me an unerring guide ; but on other occa- 
sions, I can only guess, by finding them in the pages of the 
same manuscript book that contains poems with the date 
of whose composition I am fully conversant. In the pre- 
sent arrangement all his poetical translations will be placed 
together at the end of the third volume. 

The loss of his early papers prevents my being able to give 
any of the poetry of his boyhood. Of the few I give as early 
poems, the greater part were published with “ Alastor some 
of them were written previously, some at the same period. 
The poem beginning, “ Oh, there are spirits in the air,” was 
addressed in idea to Coleridge, whom he never knew ; and 
at whose character he could only guess imperfectly, through 
his writings, and accounts he heard of him from some who 
knew him well. He regarded his change of opinions as rather 
an act of will than conviction, and believed that in his inner 


224 


EDITOR S NOTE ON THE EARLY POEMS. 


heart he would be haunted by what Shelley considered the 
better and holier aspirations of his youth. The summer even- 
ing that suggested to him the poem written in the churchyard 
of Lechdale, occurred during his voyage up the Thames, in the 
autumn of 1815. He had been advised by a physician to live 
as much as possible in the open air ; and a fortnight of a bright 
warm July was spent in tracing the Thames to its source. 
He never spent a season more tranquilly than the summer of 
1815. He had just recovered from a severe pulmonary 
attack ; the weather was warm and pleasant. He lived near 
Windsor Forest, and his life was spent under its shades, or 
on the water ; meditating subjects for verse. Hitherto, he 
had chiefly aimed at extending his political doctrines ; and 
attempted so to do by appeals, in prose essays, to the people, 
exhorting them to claim their rights ; but he had now begun 
to feel that the time for action was not ripe in England, and 
that the pen was the only instrument wherewith to prepare 
the way for better things. 

In the scanty journals kept during those years, I find a 
record of the books that Shelley read during several years. 
During the years of 1814 and 1815, the list is extensive. It 
includes in Greek ; Homer, Hesiod, Theocritus — the histores 
of Thucydides and Herodotus, and Diogenes Laertius. In 
Latin ; Petronius, Suetonius, some of the works of Cicero, a 
large proportion of those of Seneca and Livy. In English ; 
Milton’s Poems, Wordsworth’s Excursion, Southey’s Madoc 
and Thalaba, Locke on the Human Understanding, Bacon’s 
Novum Organum. In Italian ; Ariosto, Tasso, and Alfieri. In 
French, the Reveries d’un Solitaire of Rousseau. To these 
may be added several modern books of travels. He read few 
novels. 


POEMS WRITTEN IN 1816 . 




THE SUNSET. 

Theee late was One, within wliose subtle being, 
As light and wind wdthin some delicate cloud 
That fades amid the blue noon’s burning sky, 
Genius and death contended. None may know 
The sweetness of the joy which made his breath 
Fail, like the trances of the summer air. 

When, with the Lady of his love, who then 
First knew the unreserve of mingled being, 

He walked along the pathway of a field. 

Which to the east a hoar wood shadowed o’er, 
But to the west was open to the sky. 

There now the sun had sunk, but lines of gold 
Hung on the ashen clouds, and on the points 
Of the far level grass and nodding flowers. 

And the old dandelion’s hoary beard. 

And, mingled with the shades of twilight, lay 
On the brown massy woods — and in the east 
The broad and burning moon lingeringly rose 
Between the black trunks of the crowded trees, 
While the faint stars were gathering overhead. — 
“ Is it not strange, Isabel,” said the youth, 

“ I never saw the sun ? We will wgdk here 

VOL. II. Q 


226 


THE SUNSET. 


To-morrow ; thou shalt look on it with me.” 

That night the youth and lady mingled lay 
In love and sleep — but when the morning came 
The lady found her lover dead and cold. 

Let none believe that God in mercy gave 
That stroke. The lady died not, nor grew wild, 

But year by year lived on — in truth I think 
Her gentleness and patience and sad smiles, 

And that she did not die, hut lived to tend 
Her aged father, were a kind of madness. 

If madness ’tis to be unlike the world. 

For but to see her were to read the tale 
Woven by some subtlest bard, to make hard hearts 
Dissolve away in wisdom- working grief ; — 

Her eye-lashes were torn away with tears, 

Her lips and cheeks were like things dead — so pale ; 
Her hands were thin, and through their wandering veins 
And weak articulations might be seen 
Day’s ruddy light. The tomb of thy dead self 
Which one vexed ghost inhabits, night and day. 

Is all, lost child, that now remains of thee ! 

Inheritor of more than earth can give, 

Passionless calm, and silence unreproved. 

Whether the dead find, oh, not sleep ! but rest, 

And are the uncomplaining things they seem. 

Or live, or drop in the deep sea of Love ; 

Oh, that like thine, mine epitaph were — Peace ! ” 

This was the only moan she ever made. 


HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY. 


The awful shadow of some unseen Power 
Floats tho’ unseen among us ; visiting 
This various world with as inconstant wing 
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower : 

Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower, 
It visits with inconstant glance 
Each human heart and countenance ; 

Like hues and harmonies of evening, 

Like clouds in starlight widely spread. 

Like memory of music fled. 

Like aught that for its grace may be 
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery. — 

Spirit of Beauty, that dost consecrate 

With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon 
Of human thought or form, where art thou gone ? 

Why dost thou pass away and leave our state. 

This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate ? 

Ask why the sunlight not for ever 
Weaves rainbows o’er yon mountain river ; 

Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown ; 

Why fear and dream and death and birth 
Cast on the daylight of this earth 
Such gloom ; why man has such a scope 
For love and hate, despondency and hope ; 


228 


HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY. 


No voice from some sublimer world hath ever 
To sage or poet these responses given : 

Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven, 
Kemain the records of their vain endeavom’ ; 

Frail spells, whose uttered charm might not avail to sever, 
From all we hear and all we see, 

Doubt, chance, and mutability. 

Thy light alone, like mist o’er mountains driven, 

Or music by the night wind sent 
Through strings of some still instrument. 

Or moonlight on a midnight stream. 

Gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream. 

Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds, depart 
And come, for some uncertain moments lent. 

Man were immortal and omnipotent. 

Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art. 

Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart. 
Thou messenger of sympathies 
That wax and wane in lovers’ eyes ; 

Thou, that to human thought art nourishment, 

Like darkness to a dying flame ! 

Depart not as thy shadow came : 

Depart not, lest the grave should be. 

Like life and fear, a dark reality. 

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped 
Thro’ many a listening chamber, cave, and ruin. 

And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing 
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead. 

I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed : 

I was not heard, I saw them not ; 

When musing deeply on the lot 
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing 


HYMN TO INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY. 


229 


All vital things that wake to bring 
News of birds and blossoming, 

Sudden, thy shadow fell on me ; 

I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy ! 

I vowed that I would dedicate my powers 

To thee and thine : have I not kept the vow ? 

With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now 
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours 
Each from his voiceless grave : they have in visioned bowers 
Of studious zeal or love’s delight 
Outwatched with me the envious night : 

They know that never joy illumed my brow. 

Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free 
This world from its dark slavery, 

That thou, O awful Loveliness, 

Wouldst give whate’er these words cannot express. 

The day becomes more solemn and serene 
When noon is past : there is a harmony 
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky, 

Which thro’ the summer is not heard nor seen. 

As if it could not be, as if it had not been ! 

Thus let thy power, which like the truth 
Of nature on my passive youth 
Descended, to my onward life supply 
Its calm, to one who worships thee. 

And every form containing thee. 

Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind 
To fear himself, and love all human kind. 


MONT BLANC. 


LINES WRITTEN IN THE VALE OF CHAMOUNI. 


The everlasting universe of things 
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves, 
Now dark — now glittering — ^now reflecting gloom — 
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs 
The source of human thought its tribute brings 
Of waters, — with a sound but half its own, 

Such as a feeble brook will oft assume 
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone, 
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever, 

Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river 
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves. 


Thus thou, Ravine of Arve — dark, deep Ravine — 
Thou many-coloured, many-voiced vale, 

Over whose pines and crags and caverns sail 
Fast clouds, shadows, and sunbeams ; awful scene. 
Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down 
From the ice-gulfs that gird his secret throne. 
Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame 
Of lightning through the tempest ; — thou dost lie. 

The giant brood of pines around thee clinging. 
Children of elder time, in whose devotion, 

The chainless winds still come and ever came 
To drink their odours, and their mighty swinging 


MONT BLANC. 


231 


To hear — an old and solemn harmony : 

Thine earthly rainbows stretched across the sweep 
Of the ethereal waterfall, whose veil 
Robes some unsculptured image ; the strange sleep 
Which, when the voices of the desert fail, 

Wraps all in its own deep eternity ; — 

Thy caverns echoing to the Arve’s commotion 
A loud, lone sound, no other sound can tame ; 

Thou art pervaded with that ceaseless motion, 

Thou art the path of that unresting sound — 

Dizzy Ra^dne ! and when I gaze on thee, 

I seem as in a trance sublime and strange 
To muse on my own separate fantasy. 

My own, my human mind, which passively ^ 

Now renders and receives fast influencings. 

Holding an unremitting interchange 
With the clear universe of things around ; 

One legion of wild thoughts, whose wandering wings 
Now float above thy darkness, and now rest 
Where that or thou art no unbidden guest, 

In the still cave of the witch Poesy, 

Seeking among the shadows that pass by 
Ghosts of all things that are, some shade of thee. 

Some phantom, some faint image ; till the breast 
From which they fled recalls them, thou art there ! 


III. 

Some say that gleams of a remoter world 
Visit the soul in sleep, — that death is slumber. 
And that its shapes the busy thoughts outnumber 
Of those who wake and live. I look on high ; 
Has some imknown omnipotence unfurled 
The veil of life and death ? or do I lie 
In dream, and does the mightier world of sleep 
Speed far around and inaccessibly 


232 


MONT BLANC. 


Its circles ? For the very spirit fails, 

Driven like a homeless cloud from steep to steep 
That vanishes among the viewless gales I 
Far, far above, piercing the infinite sky, 

Mont Blanc appears, — still, snowy, and serene — 

Its subject mountains their unearthly forms 
Pile around it, ice and rock ; broad vales between 
Of frozen floods, unfathomable deeps. 

Blue as the overhanging heaven, that spread 
And wind among the accumulated steeps ; 

A desert peopled by the storms alone, 

Save when the eagle brings some hunter's bone. 

And the wolf tracks her there — how hideously 
Its shapes are heaped around ! rude, hare, and high, 
Ghastly, and scarred, and riven. — Is this the scene 
Where the old Earthquake- demon taught her young 
Euin? Were these their toys ? or did a sea 
Of fire envelope once this silent snow ? 

None can reply — all seems eternal now. 

The wilderness has a mysterious tongue 
Which teaches awful doubt, or faith so mild, 

So solemn, so serene, that man may he 
But for such faith with nature reconciled ; 

Thou hast a voice, great Mountain, to repeal 
Large codes of fraud and woe ; not understood, 

By all, hut which the wise, and great, and good. 
Interpret or make felt, or deeply feel. 


The fields, the lakes, the forests, and the streams. 
Ocean, and all the living things that dwell 
Within the dsedal earth ; lightning, and rain, 
Earthquake, and fiery flood, and hurricane, 

The torpor of the year when feeble dreams 
Visit the hidden buds, or dreamless sleep 


MONT BLANC. 


233 


Holds every future leaf and flower, — the bound 
With which from that detested trance they leap ; 

The works and ways of man, their death and birth. 

And that of him, and all that his may be ; 

All things that move and breathe with toil and sound 
Are horn and die, revolve, subside, and swell. 

Power dwells apart in its tranquillity, 

Eemote, serene, and inaccessible : 

And this, the naked countenance of earth. 

On which I gaze, even these primaeval mountains. 

Teach the adverting mind. The glaciers creep. 

Like snakes that watch their prey, from their far fountains, 
Slowly rolling on ; there, many a precipice 
Frost and the Sun in scorn of mortal power 
Have piled — dome, pyramid, and pinnacle, 

A city of death, distinct with many a tower 
And wall impregnable of beaming ice. 

Yet not a city, but a flood of ruin 

Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky 

Polls its perpetual stream ; vast pines are strewing 

Its destined path, or in the mangled soil 

Branchless and shattered stand ; the rocks, drawn down 

From yon remotest waste, have overthrown 

The limits of the dead and living world. 

Never to be reclaimed. The dwelling-place 
Of insects, beasts, and birds, becomes its spoil ; 

Their food and their retreat for ever gone. 

So much of life and joy is lost. The race 
Of man flies far in dread ; his work and dwelling 
Vanish, like smoke before the tempest’s stream. 

And their place is not known. Below, vast caves 
Shine in the rushing torrent’s restless gleam. 

Which from those secret chasms in tumult welling 
Meet in the Vale, and one majestic River, 

The breath and blood of distant lands, for ever 


234 


MONT BLANC. 


Roils its loud waters to the ocean waves, 
Breathes its swift vapours to the circling air. 


V. 

Mont Blanc yet gleams on high : — the power is there, 
The still and solemn power of many sights 
And many sounds, and much of life and death. 

In the calm darkness of the moonless nights. 

In the lone glare of day, the snows descend 
Upon that Mountain ; none beholds them there. 

Nor when the flakes hum in the sinking sun. 

Or the star-beams dart through them : — Winds contend 
Silently there, and heap the snow, with breath 
Rapid and strong, but silently ! Its home 
The voiceless lightning in these solitudes 
Keeps innocently, and like vapour broods 
Over the snow. The secret strength of things. 

Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome 
Of heaven is as a law, inhabits thee ! 

And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea, 

If to the human mind’s imaginings 
Silence and solitude were vacancy ? 


Switzerland, June 23 , 1816 . 


NOTE ON POEMS OF 1816 . 

BY THE EDITOK. 

Shelley wrote little during this year. The Poem entitled 

The Sunset ” was written in the spring of the year, while 
still residing at Bishopsgate. He spent the summer on the 
shores of the Lake of Geneva. “ The Hymn to Intellectual 
Beauty” was conceived during his voyage round the lake 
with Lord Byron. He occupied himself during this voyage, 
by reading the Nouvelle Helo’ise for the first time. The 
reading it on the very spot where the scenes are laid, added 
to the interest ; and he was at once surprised and charmed 
by the passionate eloquence and earnest enthralling interest 
that pervades this work. There was something in the 
character of Saint-Preux, in his abnegation of self, and in the 
worship he paid to Love, that coincided with Shelley’s owm 
disposition ; and, though differing in many of the views, and 
shocked by others, yet the effect of the whole was fascinating 
and delightful. 

“ Mont Blanc ” was inspired by a view of that mountain 
and its surrounding peaks and valleys, as he lingered on the 
Bridge of Arve on his way through the Valley of Chamouni. 
Shelley makes the following mention of this poem in his 
publication of the History of Six Weeks’ Tour, and Letters 
from Switzerland: — ^^The Poem entitled ^ Mont Blanc,’ is 


Q36 


EDITOR S NOTE ON POEMS OF 1816. 


written by the author of the two letters from Chamouni and 
Vevai. It was composed under the immediate impression of 
the deep and powerful feelings excited by the objects which 
it attempts to describe ; and as an undisciplined overflowing 
of the soul, rests its claim to approbation on an attempt to 
imitate the untameable wildness and inaccessible solemnity 
from which those feelings sprang.” 

This was an eventful year, and less time was given to 
study than usual. In the list of his reading I find, in Greek : 
Theocritus, the Prometheus of iEschylus, several of Plutarch’s 
Lives, and the works of Lucian. In Latin : Lucretius, 
Pliny’s Letters, the Annals and Germany of Tacitus. In 
French : the History of the French Revolution, by Lacretelle. 
He read for the first time, this year, Montaigne’s Essays, and 
regarded them ever after as one of the most delightful and 
instructive books in the world. The list is scanty in English 
works — Locke’s Essay, Political Justice, and Coleridge’s Lay 
Sermon, form nearly the whole. It w’as his frequent habit to 
read aloud to me in the evening ; in this way we read, this 
year, the New Testament, Paradise Lost, Spenser’s Fairy 
Queen, and Don Quixote. 


POEMS WEITTEN IN 1817. 


PRINCE ATHANASE. 

A FRAGMENT. 

PART I. 

There was a youth, who, as with toil and travel. 
Had grown quite weak and grey before his time ; 
Nor any could the restless griefs unravel 

Which burned within him, withering up his prime 
And goading him, like fiends, from land to land. 
Not his the load of any secret crime. 

For nought of ill his heart could understand. 

But pity and wild sorrow for the same ; 

Not his the thirst for glory or command, 

BafEed with blast of hope-consuming shame ; 

Nor evil joys which fire the vulgar breast. 

And quench in speedy smoke its feeble flame, 

Had left within his soul the dark unrest : 

Nor what religion fables of the grave 
Feared he, — Philosophy’s accepted guest. 


Q58 


PRINCE ATHANASE. 


For none than he a purer heart could have, 

Or that loved good more for itself alone ; 

Of nought in heaven or earth was he the slave 

What sorrow, strange, and shadowy, and unknown. 
Sent him, a hopeless wanderer, through mankind ? — 
If with a human sadness he did groan, 

He had a gentle yet aspiring mind ; 

Just, innocent, with varied learning fed ; 

And such a glorious consolation find 

In others’ joy, when all their own is dead : 

He loved, and laboured for his kind in grief. 

And yet, unlike all others, it is said 

That from such toil he never foimd relief. 

Although a child of fortune and of power, 

Of an ancestral name the orphan chief. 

His soul had wedded wisdom, and her dower 
Is love and justice, clothed in which he sate 
Apart from men, as in a lonely tower. 

Pitying the tumult of their dark estate. — 

Yet even in youth did he not e'er abuse 

The strength of wealth or thought, to consecrate 

Those false opinions which the harsh rich use 
To blind the world they famish for their pride ; 

Nor did he hold from any man his dues, 

But, like a steward in honest dealings tried. 

With those who toiled and wept, the poor and wise. 
His riches and his cares he did divide. 


PRINCE ATHANASE. 


239 


Fearless he was, and scorning all disguise, 

What he dared do or think, though men might start. 
He spoke with mild yet unaverted eyes ; 

Liberal he was of soul, and frank of heart. 

And to his many friends — all loved him well — 
Whate’er he knew or felt he would impart, 

If words he found those inmost thoughts to tell ; 

If not, he smiled or wept ; and his weak foes 
He neither spurned nor hated — though with fell 

And mortal hate their thousand voices rose. 

They past like aimless arrows from his ear. — 

Nor did his heart or mind its portal close 

To those, or them, or any, whom life’s sphere 
May comprehend within its mde array. 

What sadness made that vernal spirit sere ? 

He knew not. Though his life day after day, 

Was failing, like an unreplenished stream. 

Though in his eyes a cloud and burthen lay. 

Through which his soul, like Vesper’s serene beam 
Piercing the chasms of ever rising clouds. 

Shone, softly burning ; though his lips did seem 

Like reeds which quiver in impetuous floods ; 

And through his sleep, and o’er each waking hour. 
Thoughts after thoughts, unresting multitudes. 

Were driven within him by some secret power. 
Which bade them blaze, and live, and roll afar, 

Like lights and sounds, from haunted tower to tower. 


240 


PKINCE ATHANASE. 


O’er castled mountains borne, when tempest’s war 
Is levied by the night-contending winds, 

And the pale dalesmen watch with eager ear ; — 

Though such were in his spirit, as the fiends 
Which wake and feed on overliving woe, — 

What was this grief, which ne’er in other minds 

A mirror found, — he knew not — ^none could know 
But on whoe’er might question him he turned 
The light of his frank eyes, as if to show 

He knew not of the grief within that burned. 

But asked forbearance with a mournful look ; 

Or spoke in words from which none ever learned 

The cause of his disquietude ; or shook 
With spasms of silent passion ; or turned pale : 

So that his friends soon rarely undertook 

To stir his secret pain without avail ; — 

For all who knew and loved him then perceived 
That there was drawn an adamantine veil 

Between his heart and mind, — ^both unrelieved 
Wrought in his brain and bosom separate strife. 
Some said that he was mad, others believed 

That memories of an antenatal life 

Made this, where now he dwelt, a penal hell : 

And others said that such mysterious grief 

From God’s displeasure, like a darkness, fell 
On souls like his, which owned no higher law 
Than love ; love calm, steadfast, mvincible 


PRINCE ATHANASE 


Q41 


By mortal fear or supernatural awe ; 

And others, — “ ’Tis the shadow of a dream 
Which the veiled eye of memory never saw, 

“ But through the soul’s abyss, like some dark stream 
Through shattered mines and caverns underground 
Bolls, shaking its foundations ; and no beam 

“ Of joy may rise, hut it is quenched and drowned 
In the dim whirlpools of this dream obscure. 

Soon its exhausted waters will have found 

“ A lair of rest beneath thy spirit pure, 

0 Athanase ! — in one so good and great. 

Evil or tumult cannot long endure.” 

So spake they ; idly of another’s state 
Babbling vain words and fond philosophy : 

This was their consolation ; such debate 

Men held with one another ; nor did he, 

Like one who labours with a human woe, 

Decline this talk ; as if its theme might he 

Another, not himself, he to and fro 
Questioned and canvassed it with subtlest wit ; 

And none hut those who loved him best could know 

That which he knew not, how it galled and bit 
His weary mind, this converse vain and cold ; 

For like an eyeless night-mare grief did sit 

Upon his being ; a snake which fold by fold 
Pressed out the life of life, a clinging fiend 
Which clenched him if he stirred with deadlier hold ; — 
And so his grief remained — let it remain — untold*. 

* The Author was pursuing a fuller development of the ideal character 
of Athanase, when it struck him that in an attempt at extreme refinement 
VOL. II. R 


FRAGMENTS OF PRINCE ATHANASE. 


PART II. 


FRAGMENT I. 

Peince Athanase had one beloved friend, 

An old, old man, with hair of silver white. 

And lips where heavenly smiles would hang and blend 

With his wise words ; and eyes whose arrowy light 
Shone like the reflex of a thousand minds. 

He was the last whom superstition’s blight 


and analysis, his conceptions might be betrayed into the assuming a 
morbid character. The reader will judge whether he is a loser or gainer by 
this difference — Author’s Note. 

* The idea Shelley had formed of Prince Athanase was a good deal modelled 
on Alastor. In the first sketch of the Poem he named it Pandemos and 
Urania. Athanase seeks through the world the One whom he may love. 
He meets, in the ship in which he is embarked, a lady, who appears to him 
to embody his ideal of love and beauty. But she proves to be Pandemos, or 
the earthly and unworthy Venus, who, after disappointing his cherished 
dreams and hopes, deserts him. Athanase, crushed by sorrow, pines and 
dies. “ On his death-bed the lady, who can really reply to his soul, comes and 
kisses his lips .” — The Death-bed of Athanase. The poet describes her — 

Her hair was brown, her sphered eyes were brown, 

And in their dark and liquid moisture swam. 

Like the dim orb of the eclipsed moon ; 

Yet when the spirit flashed beneath, there came 
The light from them, as when tears of delight 
Double the western planet’s serene frame. 

This slender note is all we have to aid our imagination in shaping out the 
form of the poem, such as its author imaged.— Jf. S. 


PETNCE ATHANASE. 


243 


Had spared in Greece — the blight that cramps and blinds, — 

And in his olive bower at CEnoe 

Had sate from earliest youth. Like one who finds 

A fertile island in the barren sea, 

One mariner who has survived his mates 
Many a drear month in a great ship — so he 

With soul-sustaining songs, and sweet debates 
Of ancient lore, there fed his lonely being : 

“ The mind becomes that which it contemplates,” — 

And thus Zonoras, by for ever seeing 
Their bright creations, grew like wisest men ; 

And when he heard the crash of nations fleeing 

A bloodier power than ruled thy ruins then, 

0 sacred Hellas ! many weary years 
He w^andered, till the path of Laian’s glen 

Was grass-grown — and the unremembered tears 
Were dry in Laian for their honoured chief. 

Who fell in Byzant, pierced by Moslem spears : — 

And as the lady looked with faithful grief 
From her high lattice o’er the rugged path, 

Where she once saw that horseman toil, with brief 

And blighting hope, who with the news of death 
Struck body and soul as with a mortal blight. 

She saw beneath the chesnuts, far beneath. 

An old man toiling up, a weary wight ; 

And soon within her hospitable hall 

She saw his white hairs glittering in the light 


PEINCE ATHANASE. 


244 

Of the wood fire, and round his shoulders fall, 
And his wan visage and his withered mien, 
Yet calm and gentle and majestical. 

And Athanase, her child, who must have been 
Then three years old, sate opposite and gazed 
In patient silence. 


FRAGMENT II. 

Such was Zonoras ; and as daylight finds 
One amaranth glittering on the path of frost. 

When autumn nights have nipt all weaker kinds. 

Thus through his age, dark, cold, and tempest-tost, 
Shone truth upon Zonoras ; and he filled 
From fountains pure, nigh overgrown and lost. 

The spirit of Prince Athanase, a child. 

With soul-sustaining songs of ancient lore 
And philosophic wisdom, clear and mild. 

And sweet and subtle talk now evermore. 

The pupil and the master shared ; until. 

Sharing that undiminishahle store. 

The youth, as shadows on a grassy hill 
Outrun the winds that chase them, soon outran 
His teacher, and did teach with native skill 

Strange truths and new to that experienced man. 
Still they were friends, as few have ever been 
Who mark the extremes of life’s discordant span. 


PRINCE ATHANASE. 


245 


So in the caverns of the forest green, 

Or by the rocks of echoing ocean hoar, 

Zonoras and Prince Athanase were seen 

By summer woodmen ; and w^hen winter’s roar 
Sounded o’er earth and sea its blast of war, 

The Balearic fisher, driven from shore. 

Hanging upon the peaked wave afar. 

Then saw their lamp from Laian’s turret gleam. 

Piercing the stormy darkness, like a star 

Which pours beyond the sea one steadfast beam. 

Whilst all the constellations of the sky 

Seemed reeling through the storm ; they did hut seem — 

For, lo ! the wintry clouds are all gone by. 

And bright Arcturus through yon pines is glowing. 

And far o’er southern waves, immoveably 

Belted Orion hangs — warm light is flowing 
From the young moon into the sunset’s chasm. — 

“ 0 summer eve ! with power divine, bestowing 

On thine own bird the sweet enthusiasm 
Which overflows in notes of liquid gladness, 

Filling the sky like light ! How many a spasm 

“ Of fevered brains, oppressed with grief and madness. 
Were lulled by thee, delightful nightingale ! 

And these soft waves, murmuring a gentle sadness, 

“ And the far sighings of yon piny dale 
Made vocal by some wind, we feel not here. — 

I hear alone what nothing may avail 


246 


PEINCE ATHANASE. 


“ To lighten — a strange load ! ” — No human ear 
Heard this lament ; but o’er the visage ^van 
Of Athanase, a ruffling atmosphere 

Of dark emotion, a swift shadow ran, 

Like wind upon some forest-bosomed lake. 

Glassy and dark. — And that divine old man 

Beheld his mystic friend’s whole being shake. 

Even where its inmost depths were gloomiest — 

And with a calm and measured voice he spake, 

And, with a soft and equal pressure, prest 
That cold lean hand : — “ Dost thou remember yet 
When the curved moon then lingering in the west 

“ Paused, in yon waves her mighty horns to wet, 

How in those beams we walked, half resting on the sea ? 
’Tis just one year — sure thou dost not forget — . 

“ Then Plato’s words of light in thee and me 
Lingered like moonlight in the moonless east, 

For we had just then read — thy memory 

“ Is faithful now — the story of the feast ; 

And Agathon and Diotima seemed 

From death and dark forgetfulness released.” 


FRAGMENT III. 

’Twas at the season when the Earth upsprings 
From slumber, as a sphered angel's child. 
Shadowing its eyes with green and golden wings. 


PEINCE ATHANASE. 


247 


Stands up before its mother bright and mild, 

Of whose soft voice the air expectant seems — 

So stood before the sun, which shone and smiled 

To see it rise thus joyous from its dreams. 

The fresh and radiant Earth. The hoary grove 
Waxed green — and flowers burst forth like starry beams ; — 

The grass in the warm sun did start and move. 

And sea-buds burst beneath the waves serene : — 

How many a one, though none be near to love. 

Loves then the shade of his own soul, half seen 
In any mirror — ^or the spring’s young minions. 

The winged leaves amid the copses green ; — 

How many a spirit then puts on the pinions 
Of fancy, and outstrips the lagging blast. 

And his own steps — and over wide dominions 

Sweeps in his dream-drawn chariot, far and fast. 

More fleet than storms — the wide world shrinks below. 
When winter and despondency are past. 

’Twas at this season that Prince Athanase 

Pass’d the white Alps — those eagle-bafiling mountains 

Slept in their shrouds of snow ; — beside the ways 

The waterfalls were voiceless — for their fountains 
Were changed to mines of sunless crystal now, 

Or by the curdling winds — like brazen wings 

Which clanged along the mountain’s marble brow — 
Warped into adamantine fretwork, hung 
And filled with frozen light the chasm below. 


218 


PEINCE ATHANASE. 


FRAGMENT IV. 

Thou art the wine whose drunkenness is all 
We can desire, O Love ! and happy souls, 

Ere from thy vine the leaves of autumn fall, 

Catch thee, and feed from their o’erflowdng howls 
Thousands who thirst for thy ambrosial dew ; 

Thou art the radiance which where ocean rolls 

Investest it ; and when the heavens are blue 
Thou fillest them ; and when the earth is fair, 

The shadow of thy moving wings imbue 

Its deserts and its mountains, till they wear 
Beauty like some bright robe ; — thou ever soarest 
Among the towers of men, and as soft air 

In spring, which moves the unawakened forest. 
Clothing with leaves its branches bare and bleak. 

Thou floatest among men ; and aye implorest 

That which from thee they should implore : — the weak 

Alone kneel to thee, offering up the hearts 

The strong have broken — ^yet where shall any seek 

A garment whom thou clothest not ? 


Marlow, 1817 . 


MARIANNE’S DREAM. 


A PALE dream came to a Lady fair, 

And said, A boon, a boon, I pray ! 

I know the secrets of the air ; 

And things are lost in the glare of day, 
Which I can make the sleeping see. 

If they will put their trust in me. 

And thou shalt know of things unknown, 
If thou wilt let me rest between 
The veiny lids, whose fringe is thrown 
Over thine eyes so dark and sheen : 
And half in hope, and half in fright, 

The Lady closed her eyes so bright. 

At first all deadly shapes were driven 
Tumultuously across her sleep, 

And o’er the vast cope of bending heaven 
All ghastly- visaged clouds did sweep ; 
And the Lady ever looked to spy 
If the gold sun shone forth on high. 

And as towards the east she turned. 

She saw aloft in the morning air. 
Which now with hues of sunrise burned, 
A great black Anchor rising there ; 

And wherever the Lady turned her eyes 
It hung before her in the skies. 


250 


MARIANNE S DREAM. 


The sky was blue as the summer sea, 

The depths were cloudless over head. 

The air was calm as it could be, 

There was no sight nor sound of dread, 

But that black Anchor floating still 
Over the piny eastern hill. 

The Lady grew sick with a weight of fear. 

To see that Anchor ever hanging. 

And veiled her eyes ; she then did hear 
The sound as of a dim low clanging, 

And looked abroad if she might know 
Was it aught else, or hut the flow 
Of the blood in her own veins, to and fro. 

There was a mist in the sunless air. 

Which shook as it were with an earthquake’s shock, 
But the very weeds that blossomed there 
Were moveless, and each mighty rock 
Stood on its basis stedfastly ; 

The Anchor was seen no more on high. 

But piled around with summits hid 
In lines of cloud at intervals. 

Stood many a mountain pyramid 
Among whose everlasting walls 
Two mighty cities shone, and ever 
Through the red mist their domes did quiver. 

On two dread mountains, from whose crest. 

Might seem, the eagle for her brood 
Would ne’er have hung her dizzy nest 
Those tower-encircled cities stood. 

A vision strange such towers to see. 

Sculptured and wrought so gorgeously. 

Where human art could never be. 


MAEIANNE S DEEAM. 


251 


And columns framed of marble white, 

And giant fanes, dome over dome 
Piled, and triumphant gates, all bright 
With workmanship, which could not come 
From touch of mortal instrument, 

Shot o’er the vales, or lustre lent 
From its own shapes magnificent. 

But still the Lady heard that clang 
Filling the wide air far away ; 

And still the mist whose light did hang 
Among the mountains shook alway. 

So that the Lady’s heart beat fast. 

As half in joy and half aghast. 

On those high domes her look she cast. 

Sudden from out that city sprung 

A light that made the earth grow red ; 
Two flames that each with quivering tongue 
Licked its high domes, and over-head 
Among those mighty towers and fanes 
Dropped fire, as a volcano rains 
Its sulphurous ruin on the plains. 

And hark ! a rush, as if the deep 

Had burst its bonds ; she looked behind 
And saw over the western steep 
A raging flood descend, and wind 
Through that wide vale : she felt no fear. 
But said within herself, ’Tis clear 
These towers are Nature’s own, and she 
To save them has sent forth the sea. 

And now those raging billows came 
Where that fair Lady sate, and she 


252 


MARIANNE S DREAM. 


Was borne towards the showering flame 
By the wild waves heaped tumultuously, 

And, on a little plank, the flow 
Of the whirlpool bore her to and fro. 

The waves were fiercely vomited 
From every tower and every dome. 

And dreary light did widely shed 

O’er that vast flood’s suspended foam. 

Beneath the smoke which hung its night 
On the stained cope of heaven’s light. 

The plank whereon that Lady sate 

Was driven through the chasms, about and about, 
Between the peaks so desolate 

Of the drowning mountain, in and out. 

As the thistle-beard on a whirlwind sails — 

While the flood was filling those hollow vales. 

At last her plank an eddy crost. 

And bore her to the city’s wall. 

Which now the flood had reached almost ; 

It might the stoutest heart appal 
To hear the fire roar and hiss 
Through the domes of those mighty palaces. 

The eddy whirled her round and round 
Before a gorgeous gate, which stood 
Piercing the clouds of smoke which bound 
Its aery arch with light like blood ; 

She looked on that gate of marble clear 
With wonder that extinguished fear : 

For it was filled with sculptures rarest, 

Of forms most beautiful and strange. 


MAEIANNE S DEEAM. 


253 


Like nothing human, but the fairest 
Of winged shapes, whose legions range 
Throughout the sleep of those who are. 

Like this same Lady, good and fair. 

And as she looked, still lovelier grew 
Those marble forms ; — the sculptor sure 
Was a strong spirit, and the hue 
Of his own mind did there endure 
After the touch, whose power had braided 
Such grace, was in some sad change faded. 

She looked, the flames were dim, the flood 
Grew tranquil as a woodland river 
Winding through hills in solitude ; 

Those marble shapes then seemed to quiver, 
And their fair limbs to float in motion. 

Like weeds unfolding in the ocean. 

And their lips moved ; one seemed to speak, 
When suddenly the mountain crackt, 

And through the chasm the floor did break 
With an earth-uplifting cataract : 

The statues gave a joyous scream. 

And on its wings the pale thin dream 
Lifted the Lady from the stream. 

The dizzy flight of that phantom pale 
Waked the fair Lady from her sleep. 

And she arose, while from the veil 
Of her dark eyes the dream did creep ; 

And she walked about as one who knew 
That sleep has sights as clear and true 
As any waking eyes can view. 


TO CONSTATE TIA 


SINGiNG. 

Thus to be lost and thus to sink and die, 

Perchance were death indeed ! — Constantia, turn ! 

In thy dark eyes a power like light doth lie, 

Even though the sounds which were thy voice, which burn 
Between thy lips, are laid to sleep ; 

Within thy breath, and on thy hair, like odour it is yet. 
And from thy touch like fire doth leap. 

Even while I \vrite, my burning cheeks are w'et, 

Alas, that the torn heart can bleed, but not forget ! 

A breathless awe, like the swift change 
Unseen but felt in youthful slumbers. 

Wild, sweet, but uncommunicably strange. 

Thou breathest now in fast ascending numbers. 

The cope of heaven seems rent and cloven 
By the enchantment of thy strain, 

And on my shoulders wings are woven, 

To follow its sublime career. 

Beyond the mighty moons that wane 

Upon the verge of nature’s utmost sphere. 

Till the world’s shadowy walls are past and disappear. 

Her voice is hovering o’er my soul — it lingers 
O’ershadowing it with soft and lulling wings. 


TO CONSTANTIA. 


255 


The blood and life within those snowy fingers 
Teach witchcraft to the instrumental strings. 

My brain is wild, my breath comes quick — 

The blood is listening in my frame, 

And thronging shadows, fast and thick. 

Fall on my overflowing eyes ; 

My heart is quivering like a flame : 

As morning dew, that in the sunbeam dies, 

I am dissolved in these consuming ecstasies. 

I have no life, Constantia, now, hut thee. 

Whilst, like the world-surrounding air, thy song 
Flows on, and fills all things with melody. — 

Now" is thy voice a tempest swift and strong. 

On which, like one in trance upborne. 

Secure o’er rocks and waves I sweep, 

Eejoicing like a cloud of morn. 

Now ’tis the breath of summer night. 

Which, when the starry waters sleep, 

Bound western isles, with incense-blossoms bright, 
Lingering, suspends my soul in its voluptuous flight. 


TO CONSTANTIA. 

The rose that drinks the fountain dew 
In the pleasant air of noon, 

Grows pale and blue with altered hue — 
In the gaze of the nightly moon ; 

For the planet of frost, so cold and bright. 
Makes it wan with her borrowed light. 


256 


DEATH. 


Such is my heart — roses are fair, 

And that at best a withered blossom ; 
But thy false care did idly wear 

Its withered leaves in a faithless bosom ! 
And fed with love, like air and dew, 

Its growth 


DEATH. 

They die — the dead return not — Misery. 

Sits near an open grave and calls them over, 

A Youth vdth hoary hair and haggard eye — 

They are names of kindred, friend and lover. 
Which he so feebly calls — ^they all are gone ! 

Fond wretch, all dead, those vacant names alone. 
This most familiar scene, my pain — 

These tombs alone remain. 

Misery, my sweetest friend — oh ! weep no more ! 

Thou wilt not be consoled — I wonder not : 

For I have seen thee from thy dwelling’s door 
Watch the calm sunset with them, and tliis spot 
AVas even as bright and calm, but transitory. 

And now thy hopes are gone, thy hair is hoary ; 
This most familiar scene, my pain — 

These tombs alone remain. 


257 


SONNET.— OZYMANDIAS. 

I MET a traveller from an antique land 

Who said : Two vast and tmnkless legs of stone 

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, 

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown. 

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command. 

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things. 
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed ; 
And on the pedestal these words appear : 

“ My name is Ozymandias, king of kings : 

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair !” 
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare. 

The lone and level sands stretch far away. 


ON F. G. 

Her voice did quiver as we parted. 

Yet knew I not that heart was broken 
From which it came, and I departed 
Heeding not the words then spoken. 
Misery — 0 Misery, 

This world is all too wide for thee. 


VOL. II. 


258 


LINES TO A CRITIC. 

Honey from silkworms who can gather, 
Or silk from the yellow bee ? 

The grass may grow in winter weather 
As soon as hate in me. 

Hate men who cant, and men who pray, 
And men who rail like thee ; 

An equal passion to repay 
They are not coy like me. 

Or seek some slave of power and gold. 
To he thy dear heart’s mate ; 

Thy love will move that bigot cold, 
Sooner than me thy hate. 

A passion like the one I prove 
Cannot divided be ; 

I hate thy want of tmth and love — 

How should I then hate thee ? 


259 


LINES. 

That time is dead for ever, child, 
Drowned, frozen, dead for ever ! 

We look on the past. 

And stare aghast 

At the spectres wailing, pale, and ghast, 
Of hopes which thou and I beguiled 
To death on life’s dark river. 

The stream we gazed on then rolled by ; 
Its waves are unreturning ; 

But we yet stand 
In a lone land. 

Like tombs to mark the memory 
Of hopes and fears, which fade and flee 
In the light of life’s dim morning. 


s 2 


NOTE ON POEMS OF 1817. 


BY THE EDITOR. 

The very illness that oppressed, and the aspect of death 
which had approached so near Shelley, appears to have 
kindled to yet keener life the Spirit of Poetry in his heart. 
The restless thoughts kept awake by pain clothed themselves 
in verse. Much was composed during this year. “ The Revolt 
of Islam,” written and printed, was a great effort — Rosalind 
and Helen” was begun — and the fragments and poems I can 
trace to the same period, show how full of passion and reflec- 
tion were his solitary hours. 

In addition to such poems as have an intelligible aim and 
shape, many a stray idea and transitory emotion found im- 
perfect and abrupt expression, and then again lost themselves 
in silence. As he never wandered without a book, and with- 
out implements of writing, I find many such in his manuscript 
books, that scarcely bear record ; while some of them, broken 
and vague as they are, will appear valuable to those who 
love Shelley’s mind, and desire to trace its workings . Thus 
in the same book that addresses Constantia, Singing,” I 
find these lines : — 

My spirit like a charmed bark doth swim 
Upon the liquid waves of thy sweet singing. 

Far away into the regions dim 

Of rapture — as a boat w’ith swift sails winging 
Its way adown some many-winding river. 


EDITORS NOTE ON POEMS OF 1817. 


‘261 


And this apostrophe to Music : 

No, Music, thou art not the God of Love, 
Unless Love feeds upon its own sweet self, 
Till it becomes all music murmurs of. 


In another fragment he calls it — 

The silver key of the fountain of tears, 

Where the spirit drinks till the brain is wild ; 

Softest grave of a thousand fears. 

Where their mother, Care, like a drowsy child. 

Is laid asleep in flowers. 

And then again this melancholy trace of the sad thronging 
thoughts, which were the well whence he drew the idea of 
Athanase, and express the restless, passion-fraught emotions 
of one whose sensibility, kindled to too intense a life, per- 
petually preyed upon itself : 

T o thirst and find no fill— to wail and wander 
With short unsteady steps — to pause and ponder — 

To feel the blood run through the veins and tingle 
Where busy thought and blind sensation mingle ; 

To nurse the image of unfelt caresses 
Till dim imagination just possesses 
The half created shadow. 

In the next page I find a calmer sentiment, better fitted to 
sustain one whose whole being was love : 

Wealth and dominion fade into the mass 
Of the great sea of human right and wrong, 

When once from our possession they must pass; 

But love, though misdirected, is among 
The things which are immortal, and surpass 
All that frail stuff which will be— or which was. 


In another book, which contains some passionate outbreaks 
with regard to the great injustice that he endured this year, 
the poet writes : 


262 


EDITOK’s note on poems of 1817. 


My thoughts arise and fade in solitude, 

The verse that would invest them melts away 
Like moonlight in the heaven of spreading day : 
How beautiful they were, how firm they stood. 
Flecking the starry sky like woven pearl ! 


He had this year also projected a poem on the subject of 
Otho, inspired by the pages of Tacitus. I find one or two 
stanzas only, which were to open the subject : — 


OTHO. 

Thou wert not, Cassius, and thou couldst not be, 

Last of the Romans, though thy memory claim 
From Brutus his own glory — and on thee 
Rests the full splendour of his sacred fame ; 

Nor he who dared make the foul tyrant quail. 

Amid his cowering senate with thy name, 

Though thou and he were great — it will avail 
To thine own fame that Otho’s should not fail. 

’Twill wrong thee not— thou wouldst, if thou could&t feel. 
Abjure such envious fame — great Otho died 
Like thee — he sanctified his country’s steel. 

At once the tenant and tjTannicide, 

In his o^^n blood— a deed it was to buy 

Tears from all men— though full of gentle pride, 

Such pride as from impetuous love may spring. 

That will not be refused its ofifering. 


I insert here also the fragment of a song, though I do not 
know the date when it was \nitten, — but it was early : — 


To 

Yet look on me — take not thine eyes away, 
Which feed upon the love within mine own. 
Which is indeed but the refiected ray 

Of thine own beauty from my spirit thrown. 

Yet speak to me — thy voice is as the tone 
Of my heart’s echo, and I think I hear 
That thou yet lovest me ; yet thou alone 
Like one before a mirror, without care 


editor’s note on poems of 1817. 


263 


Of aught but thine own features, imaged there ; 

And yet I wear out life in watching thee ; 

A toil so sweet at times, and thou indeed 
Art kind when I am sick, and pity me. 

He projected also translating the Hymns of Homer ; his 
version of several of the shorter ones remain, as well as that 
to Mercury, already published in the Posthumous Poems. 
His readings this year were chiefly Greek. Besides the 
Hymns of Homer and the Iliad, he read the Dramas of 
iEschylus and Sophocles, the Symposium of Plato, and 
Arrian’s Historia Indica. In Latin, Apuleius alone is named. 
In English, the Bible was his constant study ; he read a 
great portion of it aloud in the evening. Among these evening 
readings, I find also mentioned the Fairy Queen, and other 
modern works, the production of his contemporaries, Cole- 
ridge, Wordsworth, Moore, and Byron. 

His life was now spent more in thought than action — he 
had lost the eager spirit which believed it could achieve what 
it projected for the benefit of mankind. And yet in the 
converse of daily life Shelley was far from being a melancholy 
man. He was eloquent when philosophy, or politics, or taste, 
were the subjects of conversation. He was playful — and 
indulged in the wild spirit that mocked itself and others — 
not in bitterness, but in sport. The Author of “ Nightmare 
Abbey” seized on some points of his character and some 
habits of his life when he painted Scythrop. He was not 
addicted to port or madeira,” but in youth he had read of 
“ Illuminati and Eleutherachs,” and believed that he possessed 
the power of operating an immediate change in the minds of 
men and the state of society. These wild dreams had faded ; 
sorrow and adversity had struck home ; but he struggled 
with despondency as he did with physical pain. There are 


264 editor’s note on poems of 1817 . 

few who remember him sailing paper boats, and watching 
the navigation of his tiny craft with, eagerness — or repeating 
with wild energy “ The Ancient Mariner,” and Southey’s 
Old Woman of Berkeley,” — but those who do, will recollect 
that it was in such, and in the creations of his own fancy, 
when that was most daring and ideal, that he sheltered him- 
self from the storms and disappointments, the pain and sorrow, 
that beset his life. 


POEMS WRITTEN IN 1818 . 


ADVERTISEMENT 


TO ROSALIND AND HELEN, AND LINES WRITTEN AMONG 
THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


Naples, Dec. 20, 1818. 

The story of Rosalind and Helen is, undoubtedly, not an 
attempt in the highest style of poetry. It is in no degree 
calculated to excite profound meditation ; and if, by interesting 
the affections and amusing the imagination, it awaken a certain 
ideal melancholy favourable to the reception of more important 
impressions, it will produce in the reader all that the writer ex- 
perienced in the composition. I resigned myself, as I wrote, to 
the impulse of the feelings which moulded the conception of the 
story ; and this impulse determined the pauses of a measure, 
which only pretends to be regular, inasmuch as it corresponds 
with, and expresses, the irregularity of the imaginations which 
inspired it. 

I do not know which of the few scattered poems I left in 
England will be selected by my bookseller to add to this collec- 
tion. One, which I sent from Italy, was written after a day’s 
excursion among those lovely mountains which surround what 
was once the retreat, and where is now the sepulchre, of Petrarch. 
If any one is inclined to condemn the insertion of the introductory 
lines, wiiich image forth the sudden relief of a state of deep 
despondency by the radiant visions disclosed by the sudden burst 
of an Italian sunrise in autumn, on the highest peak of those 
delightful mountains, 1 can only offer as my excuse, that they 
were not erased at the request of a dear friend, with whom added 
years of intercourse only add to my apprehension of its value, 
and wEo would have had more right than any one to complain, 
that she has not been able to extinguish in me the very power 
of delineating sadness. 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


Scene. — The Shore of the Lake of Como. 
Eosalind, Helen, and her Child. 

HELEN. 

Come hither, my sweet Hosalind. 

’Tis long since thou and I have met : 
And yet methinks it were unldnd 
Those moments to forget. 

Come, sit by me. I see thee stand 
By this lone lake, in this far land. 

Thy loose hair in the light wind flying, 
Thy sw^eet voice to each tone of even 
United, and thine eyes replying 
To the hues of yon fair heaven. 

Come, gentle friend ! wilt sit by me ? 
And he as thou wert wont to be 
Ere we were disunited ? 

None doth behold us now : the power 
That led us forth at this lone hour 
Will be hut ill requited 
If thou depart in scorn : oh ! come. 
And talk of our abandoned home. 
Remember, this is Italy, 

And we are exiles. Talk with me 


268 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


Of that our land, whose wilds and floods, 

Barren and dark although they he. 

Were dearer than these chesnut woods ; 

Those heathy paths, that inland stream. 

And the blue mountains, shapes which seem 
Like wrecks of childhood’s sunny dream : 

Which that we have abandoned now. 

Weighs on the heart like that remorse 
Which altered friendship leaves. I seek 
No more our youthful intercourse. 

That cannot be ! Eusalind, speak. 

Speak to me. Leave me not. — When mom did come, 
When evening fell upon our common home. 

When for one hour we parted, — do not frown ; 

I would not chide thee, though thy faith is broken ; 
But turn to me. Oh ! by this cherished token 
Of woven hair, which thou wilt not disown, 

Turn, as ’twere but the memory of me, 

And not my scorned self who prayed to thee. 

ROSALIND. 

Is it a dream, or do I see 
And hear frail Helen ? I would flee 
Thy tainting touch ; but former years 
Arise, and bring forbidden tears ; 

And my o’erburthened memory 
Seeks yet its lost repose in thee. 

I share thy crime. I cannot choose 
But weep for thee : mine own strange grief 
But seldom stoops to such relief ; 

Nor ever did I love thee less. 

Though mourning o’er thy wickedness 
Even with a sister’s woe. I knew 
What to the evil world is due, 

And therefore sternly did refuse 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


269 


To link me with the infamy 
Of one so lost as Helen. Now 
Bewildered by my dire despair, 

Wondering I blush and weep that thou 
Shouldst love me still, — thou only ! — There, 
Let us sit on that grey stone. 

Till our mournful talk be done. 

HELEN. 

Alas ! not there ; I cannot bear 
The murmur of this lake to hear. 

A sound from thee, Eosalind dear. 

Which never yet I heard elsewhere 
But in our native land, recurs. 

Even here where now we meet. It stirs 
Too much of suffocating sorrow ! 

In the dell of yon dark chesnut wood 
Is a stone seat, a solitude 
Less like our owm. The ghost of peace 
Will not desert this spot. To-morrow, 

If thy kind feelings should not cease. 

We may sit here. 

ROSALIND. 

Thou lead, my sweet, 

And I will follow. 

HENRY. 

’Tis Fenici’s seat 

Where you are going ? — This is not the way, 
Mama ; it leads behind those trees that grow 
Close to the little river. 

HELEN. 

Yes ; I know ; 

I was bewildered. Kiss me, and be gay. 
Dear boy, why do you sob ? 


270 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


HENRY. 

I do not know ; 

But it might break any one’s heart to see 
You and the lady cry so bitterly. 

HELEN. 

It is a gentle child, my friend. Go home, 
Henry, and play with Lilia till I come. 

We only cried with joy to see each other ; 

We are quite merry now — Good night. 


The boy 

Lifted a sudden look upon his mother. 

And in the gleam of forced and hollow joy 
Which lightened o’er her face, laughed with the glee 
Of light and unsuspecting infancy. 

And whispered in her ear, “ Bring home with you 
That sweet, strange lady-friend.” Then off he flew. 
But stopped, and beckoned with a meaning smile. 
Where the road turned. Pale Rosalind the while. 
Hiding her face, stood weeping silently. 

In silence then they took the way 
Beneath the forest’s solitude. 

It was a vast and antique wood. 

Through which they took their way ; 

And the grey shades of evening 
O’er that green wilderness did fling 
Still deeper solitude. 

Pursuing still the path that wound 
The vast and knotted trees around. 

Through which slow shades were wandering, 

To a deep lawny dell they came, 

To a stone seat beside a spring. 

O’er which the columned wood did frame 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


271 


A roofless temple, like the fane 
Where, ere new creeds could faith obtain, 
Man’s early race once knelt beneath 
The overhanging deity. 

O’er this fair fountain hung the sky. 

Now spangled with rare stars. The snake. 
The pale snake, that with eager breath 
Creeps here his noontide thirst to slake. 

Is beaming with many a mingled hue. 

Shed from yon dome’s eternal blue, 

When he floats on that dark and lucid flood 
In the light of his own loveliness ; 

And the birds that in the fountain dip 
Their plumes, with fearless fellowship 
Above and round him wheel and hover. 

The fitful wind is heard to stir 
One solitary leaf on high ; 

The chirping of the grasshopper 
Fills every pause. There is emotion 
In all that dwells at noontide here : 

Then, through the intricate wild wood, 

A maze of life and light and motion 
Is woven. But there is stillness now ; 
Gloom, and the trance of Nature now : 

The snake is in his cave asleep ; 

The birds are on the branches dreaming ; 
Only the shadows creep ; 

Only the glow-worm is gleaming ; 

Only the owls and the nightingales 
Wake in this dell when day-light fails, 

And. grey shades gather in the woods ; 

And the owds have all fled far away 
In a merrier glen to hoot and play. 

For the moon is veiled and sleeping now. 
The accustomed nightingale still broods 


2 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


On her accustomed bough, 

But she is mute ; for her false mate 
Has fled and left her desolate. 

This silent spot tradition old 
Had peopled with the spectral dead. 

For the roots of the speaker’s hair felt cold 
And stiff, as with tremulous lips he told 
That a hellish shape at midnight led 
The ghost of a youth with hoary hair. 

And sate on the seat beside him there. 

Till a naked child came wandering by, 
When the fiend wDuld change to a lady fair 
A fearful tale ! The truth was worse : 

For here a sister and a brother 
Had solemnised a monstrous curse, 

Meeting in this fair solitude : 

For beneath yon very sky. 

Had they resigned to one another 
Body and soul. The multitude. 

Tracking them to the secret wood, 

Tore limb from limb their innocent child. 
And stabbed and trampled on its mother ; 
But the youth, for God’s most holy grace, 

A priest saved to bum in the market-place. 

Duly at evening Helen came 
To this lone silent spot. 

From the wrecks of a tale of wilder sorrow 
So much of sympathy to borrow 
As soothed her own dark lot. 

Duly each evening from her home. 

With her fair child would Helen come 
To sit upon that antique seat. 

While the hues of day were pale ; 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


2 


And the bright boy beside her feet 
Now lay, lifting at intervals 
His broad blue eyes on her ; 

Now, where some sudden impulse calls 
Following. He was a gentle boy 
And in all gentle sports took joy ; 

Oft in a dry leaf for a boat, 

With a small feather for a sail. 

His fancy on that spring would float. 

If some invisible breeze might stir 
Its marble calm : and Helen smiled 
Through tears of awe on the gay child. 

To think that a boy as fair as he. 

In years which never more may be. 

By that same fount, in that same wood, 

The like sweet fancies had pursued ; 

And that a mother, lost like her. 

Had mournfully sate watching him. 

Then all the scene was wont to swim 
Through the mist of a burning tear. 

For many months had Helen known 
This scene ; and now she thither turned 
Her footsteps, not alone. 

The friend whose falsehood she had mourned. 
Sate with her on that seat of stone. 

Silent they sate ; for evening, 

And the power its glimpses bring 
Had, with one awful shadow, quelled 
The passion of their grief. They sate 
With linked hands, for unrepelled 
Had Helen taken Rosalind’s. 

Like the autumn wind, when it unbinds 
The tangled locks of the nightshade’s hair. 
Which is twined in the sultry summer air 

VOL. II. T 


274 


KOSALIND AND HELEN 


Round the walls of an outworn sepulchre, 

Did the voice of Helen, sad and sweet. 

And the sound of her heart that ever beat, 

As with sighs and words she breathed on her, 
Unbind the knots of her friend’s despair. 

Till her thoughts were free to float and flow ; 
And from her labouring bosom now, 

Like the bursting of a prisoned flame, 

The voice of a long-pent sorrow came. 

KOSALIND. 

I saw the dark earth fall upon 
The coffin ; and I saw the stone 
Laid over him whom this cold breast 
Had pillowed to his nightly rest 1 
Thou knowest not, thou canst not know 
My agony. Oh ! I could not weep : 

The sources whence such blessings flow 
Were not to be approached by me ! 

But I could smile, and I could sleep, 

Though with a self-accusing heart. 

In morning’s light, in evening’s gloom, 

I watched, — and would not thence depart, — 
My husband’s unlamented tomb. 

My children knew their sire was gone ; 

But when I told them, “ he is dead,” 

They laughed aloud in frantic glee, 

They clapped their hands and leaped about 
Answering each other’s ecstacy 
With many a prank and merry shout ; 

But I sat silent and alone, 

Wrapped in the mock of mourning weed. 

They laughed, for he was dead ; but I 
Sate with a hard and tearless eye. 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 275 

And with a heart which would deny 
The secret joy it could not quell, 

Low muttering o’er his loathed name ; 

Till from that self-contention came 
Remorse where sin was none ; a hell 
Which in pure spirits should not dwell. 

I ’ll tell the truth. He was a man 
Hard, selfish, loving only gold. 

Yet full of guile : his pale eyes ran 
With tears, which each some falsehood told. 

And oft his smooth and bridled tongue 
Would give the lie to his flushing cheek : 

He was a coward to the strong ; 

He was a tyrant to the weak. 

On whom his vengeance he would wreak : 

For scorn, whose arrows search the heart. 

From many a stranger’s eye would dart. 

And on his memory cling, and follow 
His soul to its home so cold and hollow. 

He was a tyrant to the weak. 

And we were such, alas the day ! 

Oft, when my little ones at play. 

Were in youth’s natural lightness gay. 

Or if they listened to some tale 
Of travellers, or of fairy land, — 

When the light from the wood-fire’s dying brand 
Flashed on their faces, — if they heard 
Or thought they heard upon the stair 
His footstep, the suspended word 
Died on my lips : we all grew pale ; 

The babe at my bosom was hushed with fear 
If it thought it heard its father near ; 

And my two wild boys would near my knee 
Cling, cowed and cowering fearfully. 

T 2 


•276 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


I ’ll tell the truth : I loved another. 

His name in my ear was ever ringing, 

His form to my brain was ever clinging ; 

Yet if some stranger breathed that name, 

My lips turned white, and my heart heat fast : 

My nights were once haunted by dreams of flame. 
My days were dim in the shadow cast, 

By the memory of the same ! 

Day and night, day and night, 

He was my breath and life and light. 

For three short years, which soon were past. 

On the fourth, my gentle mother 
Led . me to the shrine, to be 
His sworn bride eternally. 

And now we stood on the altar stair. 

When my father came from a distant land. 

And with a loud and fearful cry, 

Rushed between us suddenly. 

I saw the stream of his thin grey hair, 

I saw his lean and lifted hand. 

And heard his words, — and live ! 0 God ! 

Wherefore do I live ? — “ Hold, hold !” 

He cried, — “ I tell thee ’tis her brother ! 

Thy mother, boy, beneath the sod 

Of yon church-yard rests in her shroud so cold. 

I am now weak, and pale, and old : 

We were once dear to one another, 

I and that corpse ! Thou art our child !” 

Then with a laugh both long and wild 
The youth upon the pavement fell : 

They found him dead ! All looked on me. 

The spasms of my despair to see ; 

But I was calm. I went away ; 

I was clammy-cold like clay ! 

T did not weep — I did not speak ; 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


277 


But day by day, week after week, 

I walked about like a corpse alive ! 

Alas ! sweet friend, you must believe 
This heart is stone — it did not break. 

My father lived a little while. 

But all might see that he was dying. 

He smiled with such a woeful smile ! 

When he was in the church-yard lying 
Among the worms, we grew quite poor. 

So that no one would give us bread ; 

My mother looked at me, and said 
Faint words of cheer, which only meant 
That she could die and be content ; 

So I went forth from the same church door 
To another husband’s bed. 

And this was he who died at last. 

When weeks and months and years had past. 
Through which I firmly did fulfil 
My duties, a devoted wife. 

With the stern step of vanquished will. 
Walking beneath the night of life. 

Whose hours extinguished, like slow rain 
Falling for ever, pain by pain. 

The very hope of death’s dear rest ; 

Which, since the heart within my breast 
Of natural life was dispossest. 

Its strange sustainer there had been. 

When flowers were dead, and grass was green 
Upon my mother’s grave, — that mother 
Whom to outlive, and cheer, and make 
My wan eyes glitter for her sake. 

Was my vowed task, the single care 
Which once gave life to my despair, — 


278 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


When she was a thing that did not stir, 

And the crawhng worms were cradling her 
To a sleep more deep and so more sweet 
Than a baby’s rocked on its nurse’s knee, 

I lived ; a lining pulse then beat 
Beneath my heart that awakened me. 

What was this pulse so warm and free ? 

Alas ! I knew it could not be 
My own dull blood : ’twas hke a thought 
Of liquid love, that spread and wrought 
Under my bosom and in my brain, 

And crept with the blood through every vein 
And hour by hour, day after day. 

The wonder could not charm away. 

But laid in sleep my wakeful pain, 

Until I knew it was a child. 

And then I wept. For long, long years 
These frozen eyes had shed no tears : 

But now — ’twas the season fair and mild 
TMien April has wept itself to May : 

I sate through the sweet sunny day 
By my window bowered round with leaves. 
And down my cheeks the quick toars ran 
Like twinkling rain-drops from the eaves. 
When warm spring showers are passing o’er : 

0 Helen, none can ever tell 

The joy it was to weep once more ! 

1 w'ept to think how hard it were 
To kill my babe, and take from it 
The sense of light, and the warm air. 

And my own fond and tender care, 

And love and smiles ; ere I knew yet 
That these for it might, as for me. 

Be the masks of a grinning mockery. 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


^79 


And haply, I would dream, ’twere sweet 
To feed it from my faded breast, 

Or mark my own heart’s restless heat 
Eock it to its untroubled rest ; 

And watch the growing soul beneath 
Dawn in faint smiles ; and hear its breath. 
Half interrupted by calm sighs ; 

And search the depth of its fair eyes 
For long departed memories ! 

And so I lived till that sweet load 
Was lightened. Darkly forward flowed 
The stream of years, and on it bore 
Two shapes of gladness to my sight ; 

Two other babes, delightful more 
In my lost soul’s abandoned night. 

Than their own country ships may be 
Saihng towards wrecked mariners. 

Who cling to the rock of a wintry sea. 

For each, as it came, brought soothing tears. 
And a loosening warmth, as each one lay 
Sucking the sullen milk away, 

About my frozen heart did play, 

And weaned it, oh how painfully ! — 

As they themselves were weaned each one 
From that sweet food, — even from the thirst 
Of death, and nothingness, and rest. 

Strange inmate of a living breast ! 

Which all that I had undergone 
Of grief and shame, since she, who first 
The gates of that dark refuge closed, 

Came to my sight, and almost burst 
The seal of that Lethean spring ; 

But these fair shadows interposed : 

For all delights are shadows now ! 

And from my brain to my dull brow 


280 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


The heavy tears gather and flow : 

I cannot speak — Oh let me weep I 

The tears which fell from her wan eyes 
Glimmered among the moonlight dew ! 
Her deep hard sobs and heavy sighs 
Their echoes in the darkness threw. 
When she grew calm, she thus did keep 
The tenor of her tale : — 


He died, 

I know not how.- He was not old, 

If age he numbered by its years ; 

But he was bowed and bent with fears, 
Pale with the quenchless thirst of gold, 
Which, like fierce fever, left him weak ; 
And his strait lip and bloated cheek 
Were warped in spasms by hollow sneers ; 
And selfish cares with barren plough, 

Not age, had lined his narrow brow. 

And foul and cruel thoughts, which feed 
Upon the withering life within. 

Like vipers on some poisonous weed. 
Whether his ill were death or sin 
None knew, until he died indeed, 

And then men owned they were the same. 

Seven days within my chamber lay 
That corse, and my babes made holiday : 
At last. I told them what is death : 

The eldest with a kind of shame. 

Came to my knees with silent breath. 

And sate awe-stricken at my feet ; 

And soon the others left their play. 

And sate there too. It is unmeet 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


281 


To shed on the brief flower of youth 
The withering knowledge of the grave ; 
From me remorse then wrung that truth. 

I could not bear the joy which gave 
Too just a response to mine own. 

In vain. I dared not feign a groan ; 

And in their artless looks I saw, 

Between the mists, of fear and awe. 

That my own thought was theirs ; and they 
Expressed it not in words, but said, 

Each in its heart, how every day 
Will pass in happy work and play, 

Now he is dead and gone away ! 

After the funeral all our kin 
Assembled, and the will was read. 

My friend, I tell thee, even the dead 
Have strength, their putrid shrouds within, 
To blast and torture. Those who live 
Still fear the living, but a corse 
Is merciless, and power doth give 
To such pale tyrants half the spoil 
He rends from those who groan and toil. 
Because they blush not with remorse 
Among their crawling worms. Behold, 

I have no child ! my tale grows old 
With grief, and staggers : let it reach 
The limits of my feeble speech. 

And languidly at length recline 
On the brink of its own grave and mine. 

Thou knowest what a thing is Poverty 
Among the fallen on evil days : 

’Tis Crime, and Fear, and Infamy, 

And houseless Want in frozen ways 


2S2 


HOSAUND AND HELEN. 


Wandering ungarmented, and Pain, 

And, worse than all, that inward stain. 

Foul Self-contempt, which drowns in sneers 
Youth’s star-light smile, and makes its tears 
First like hot gall, then dry for ever ! 

And well thou knowest a mother never 
Could doom her children to this ill, 

And well he knew the same. The will 
Imported, that if e’er again 
I sought my children to behold, 

Or in my birth-place did remain 
Beyond three days, whose hours were told, 
They should inherit nought : and he, 

To whom next came their patrimony, 

A sallow lawyer, cruel and cold. 

Aye watched me, 6is the will was read, 

With eyes askance, which sought to see 
The secrets of my agony ; 

And with close lips and anxious brow 
Stood canvassing still to and fro 
The chance of my resolve, and all 
The dead man’s caution just did call ; 

For in that killing lie ’twas said — 

“ She is adulterous, and doth hold 
In secret that the Christian creed 
Is false, and therefore is much need 
That I should have a care to save 
My children from eternal fire.” 

Friend, he was sheltered by the grave. 

And therefore dared to be a liar ! 

In truth, the Indian on the pyre 
Of her dead husband, half-consumed. 

As well might there be false, as I 
To those abhorred embraces doomed. 

Far worse than fire’s brief agony. 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


283 


As to the Christian creed, if true 
Or false, I never questioned it : 

I took it as the vulgar do : 

Nor my vext soul had leisure yet 
To doubt the things men say, or deem 
That they are other than they seem. 

All present who those crimes did hear, 

In feigned or actual scorn and fear, 

Men, women, children, slunk away, 
Whispering with self-contented pride, 
Which half suspects its own base lie. 

I spoke to none, nor did abide. 

But silently I went my way. 

Nor noticed I where joyously 
Sate my two younger babes at play. 

In the court-yard through which I past ; 

But went with footsteps firm and fast 
Till I came to the brink of the ocean green. 
And there, a woman with grey hairs, 

Who had my mother’s servant been. 
Kneeling, with many tears and prayers. 
Made me accept a purse of gold, 

Half of the earnings she had kept 
To refuge her when weak and old. 

With woe, which never sleeps or slept, 

I wander now. ’Tis a vain thought — 

But on yon alp, whose snowy head 
’Mid the azure air is islanded 
(We see it o’er the flood of cloud, 

Which sunrise from its eastern caves 
Drives, wrinkling into golden waves, 

Hung with its precipices proud. 

From that grey stone where first we met). 


284 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


There, now who knows the dead feel nought ? 
Should be my grave ; for he who yet 
Is my soul’s soul, once said : “ ’Twere sweet 
’Mid stars and lightnings to abide. 

And winds and lulling snows, that beat 
With their soft flakes the mountain wide. 
When weary meteor lamps repose. 

And languid storms their pinions close : 

And all things strong and bright and pure. 
And ever during, aye endure : 

Who knows, if one were buried there, 

But these things might our spirits make. 
Amid the all-surrounding air, 

Their own eternity partake ?” 

Then ’twas a wild and playful saying 
At which I laughed or seemed to laugh : 
They were his words : now heed my praying, 
And let them be my epitaph. 

Thy memory for a term may be 
My monument. Wilt remember me ? 

[ know thou wilt, and canst forgive 
Whilst in this erring world to live 
My soul disdained not, that I thought 
Its lying forms were worthy aught. 

And much less thee. 


HELEN. 

O speak not so, 

But come to me and pour thy woe 
Into this heart, full though it be. 

Aye overflowing with its own : 

I thought that grief had severed me 
From all beside who weep and groan ; 
Its likeness upon earth to be. 

Its express image ; but thou art 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


285 


More wretched. Sweet ! we will not part 
Henceforth, if death be not division ; 

If so, the dead feel no contrition. 

But wilt thou hear, since last we parted 
All that has left me broken-hearted ? 

ROSALIND. 

Yes, speak. The faintest stars are scarcely shorn 
Of their thin beams, by that delusive morn 
Which sinks again in darkness, like the light 
Of early love, soon lost in total night. 

HELEN. 

Alas ! Italian winds are mild. 

But my bosom is cold — wintry cold — 

When the warm air weaves, among the fresh leaves. 
Soft music, my poor brain is wild. 

And I am weak like a nursling child. 

Though my soul with grief is grey and old. 

ROSALIND. 

Weep not at thine own words, tho’ they must make 
Me weep. What is thy tale ? 

HELEN. 

I fear ’twill shake 

Thy gentle heart with tears. Thou well 
Bememberest when we met no more. 

And, though I dwelt with Lionel, 

That friendless caution pierced me sore 
With grief — a wound my spirit bore 
Indignantly ; but when he died. 

With him lay dead both hope and pride. 

Alas ! all hope is buried now. 

But then men dreamed the aged earth 
Was labouring in that mighty birth, 


286 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


Wluch many a poet and a sage 
Has aye foreseen — the happy age 
When truth and love shall dwell below 
Among the works and ways of men ; 

Which on this world not power but will 
Even now is wanting to fulfil. 

Among mankind what thence befel 
Of strife, how vain, is known too well ; 

When Liberty’s dear psean fell 
’Mid murderous howls. To Lionel, 

Though of great wealth and lineage high. 

Yet through those dungeon walls there came 
Thy thrilling light, 0 Liberty ! 

And as the meteor’s midnight flame 
Startles the dreamer, sun-like truth 
Flashed on his visionary youth. 

And filled him, not with love, but faith. 

And hope, and courage mute in death ; 

For love and life in him were twins. 

Bom at one birth : in every other 
First life, then love its course begins. 

Though they be children of one mother ; 

And so through this dark world they fleet 
Divided, till in death they meet : 

But he loved all things ever. Then 
He passed amid the strife of men. 

And stood at the throne of armed power 
Pleading for a world of woe : 

Secure as one on a rock-built tower 

O’er the wrecks which the surge trails to and fro, 

’Mid the passions wild of human kind 

He stood, like a spirit calming them ; 

For, it was said, his words could bind 
Like music the lulled crowd, and stem 
That torrent of unquiet dream 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


^87 


Which mortals truth and reason deem, 

But is revenge and fear, and pride. 

Joyous he was ; and hope and peace 
On all who heard him did abide. 

Earning like dew from his sweet talk, 

As where the evening star may walk 
Along the brink of the gloomy seas. 

Liquid mists of splendour quiver. 

His very gestures touched to tears 
The unpersuaded tyrant, never 
So moved before : his presence stung 
The torturers with their victims’ pain. 

And none knew how ; and through their ears. 
The subtle mtchcraft of his tongue 
Unlocked the hearts of those who keep 
Gold, the world’s bond of slavery. 

Men wondered and some sneered to see 
One sow what he could never reap : 

For he is rich, they said, and young. 

And might drink from the depths of luxury. 

, If he seeks fame, fame never crowned 
The champion of a trampled creed : 

If he seeks power, power is enthroned 
’Mid ancient rights and wrongs, to feed 
Which hungry wolves with praise and spoil. 
Those who would sit near power must toil ; 
And such, there sitting, all may see. 

What seeks he ? All that others seek 
He casts away, like a vile weed 
Which the sea casts unreturningly. 

That poor and hungry men should break 
The laws which wreak them toil and scorn. 
We understand ; hut Lionel 


288 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


We know is rich and nobly born. 

So wondered they ; yet all men loved 
Young Lionel, though few approved ; 

All but the priests, whose hatred fell 
Like the unseen blight of a smiling day, 

The withering honey- dew, which clings 
Under the bright green buds of May, 

Whilst they unfold their emerald wings : 

For he made verses wild and queer 
On the strange creeds priests hold so dear. 

Because they bring them land and gold. 

Of devils and saints and all such gear. 

He made tales which whoso heard or read 
Would laugh till he were almost dead. 

So this grew a proverb : “ Don’t get old 
Till Lionel’s ‘ banquet in hell ’ you hear. 

And then you will laugh yourself young again.” 

So the priests hated him, and he 
Eepaid their hate with cheerful glee. 

Ah! smiles and joyance quickly died. 

For public hope grew pale and dim 

In an altered time and tide, • 

And in its wasting withered him. 

As a summer flower that blows too soon 
Droops in the smile of the waning moon. 

When it scatters through an April night 
The frozen dews of wrinkling blight. 

None now hoped more. Grey Power was seated 
Safely on her ancestral throne ; 

And Faith, the Python, undefeated 
Even to its blood-stained steps dragged on 
Her foul and wounded train ; and men 
Were trampled and deceived again, 
x\nd words and shows again could bind 
The wailing tribes of humanldnd 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


‘289 


In scorn and famine. Fire and blood 
Raged round the raging multitude, 

To fields remote by tyrants sent 
To be the scorned instrument, 

With which they drag from mines of gore 
The chains their slaves yet ever wore ; 

And in the streets men met each other, 

And by old altars and in halls. 

And smiled again at festivals. 

But each man found in his heart’s brother 
Cold cheer ; for all, though half deceived. 
The outworn creeds again believed. 

And the same round anew began. 

Which the weary world yet ever ran. 

Many then wept, not tears, but gall. 

Within their hearts, like drops which fall 
Wasting the fountain-stone away. 

And in that dark and evil day 

Did all desires and thoughts, that claim 

Men’s care — ambition, friendship, fame, 

• Love, hope, though hope was now despair — 
Indue the colours of this change. 

As from the all-surrounding air 

The earth takes hues obscure and strange. 

When storm and earthquake linger there. 

And so, my friend, it then befel 
To many, most to Lionel, 

Whose hope was like the life of youth 
Within him, and when dead, became 
A spirit of unresting flame. 

Which goaded him in his distress 
Over the world’s vast wilderness. 

Three years he left his native land, 

VOL. II. u 


290 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


And on the fourth, when he returned, 

None knew him : he was stricken deep 
With some disease of mind, and turned 
Into aught unlike Lionel. 

On him — on whom, did he pause in sleep, 

Serenest smiles were wont to keep. 

And, did he wake, a winged hand 
Of bright persuasions, which had fed 
On his sweet lips and liquid eyes. 

Kept their swift pinions half outspread. 

To do on men his least command — 

On him, whom once ’twas paradise 
Even to behold, now misery lay : 

In his own heart ’twas merciless. 

To all things else none may express 
Its innocence and tenderness. 

’Twas said that he had refuge sought 
In love from his unquiet thought 
In distant lands, and been deceived 
By some strange show ; for there were found. 

Blotted with tears, as those relieved 
By their own words are wont to do. 

These mournful verses on the ground. 

By all who read them blotted too. 

“ How am I changed ! my hopes were once like fire : 
I loved, and I believed that life was love. 

How am I lost ! on wings of swift desire 
Among Heaven’s winds my spirit once did move. 

I slept, and silver dreams did aye inspire 
My liquid sleep. I woke, and did approve 
All nature to my heart, and thought to make 
A paradise of earth for one sweet sake. 

I love, but I believe in love no more : 

I feel desire, but hope not. O, from sleep 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


^91 


Most vainly must my weary brain implore 
Its long-lost flattery now. I wake to weep, 

And sit through the long day gnawing the core 
Of my bitter heart, and, like a miser, keep, 
Since none in what I feel take pain or pleasure. 
To my own soul its self-consuming treasure.” 

He dwelt beside me near the sea ; 

And oft in evening did we meet, 

When the waves, beneath the star-light, flee 
O’er the yellow sands with silver feet. 

And talked. Our talk was sad and sweet, 

Till slowly from his mien there passed 
The desolation which it spoke ; 

And smiles, — as when the lightning’s blast 
Has parched some heaven-delighting oak, 

The next spring shows leaves pale and rare. 

But like flowers delicate and fair, 

On its rent boughs — again arrayed 
His countenance in tender light : 

His words grew subtle- fire, which made 
The air his hearers breathed delight : 

His motions, like the winds, were free. 

Which bend the bright grass gracefully. 

Then fade aw^ay in circlets faint : 

And vdnged Hope, on which upborne 
His soul seemed hovering in his eyes. 

Like some bright spirit newly-born 
Floating amid the sunny skies. 

Sprang forth from his rent heart anew. 

Yet o’er his talk, and looks, and mien. 
Tempering their loveliness too keen, 

Past w^oe its shadow backward threw. 

Till like an exhalation, spread 
From flowers half drunk with evening deAv, 
u 2 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 




They did become infectious : sweet 
And subtle mists of sense and thought 
Which rapt us soon, when we might meet, 
Almost from our own looks, and aught 
The wide world holds. And so, his mind 
Was healed, while mine grew sick with fear : 
For ever now his health declined, 

Like some frail bark which cannot bear 
The impulse of an altered wind. 

Though prosperous ; and my heart grew full 
’Mid its new joy of a new care : 

For his cheek became, not pale, but fair, 

As rose-o’ershadowed lilies are ; 

And soon his deep and sunny hair. 

In this alone less beautiful. 

Like grass in tombs grew wild and rare. 

The blood in his translucent veins 
Beat, not like animal life, but love 
Seemed now its sullen springs to move, 
When life had failed, and all its pains ; 

And sudden sleep would seize him oft 
Like death, so calm, but that a tear. 

His pointed eye-lashes between. 

Would gather in the light serene 
Of smiles, whose lustre bright and soft 
Beneath lay undulating there. 

His breath was like inconstant flame. 

As eagerly it went and came ; 

And I hung o’er him in his sleep. 

Till, like an image in the lake 

Which rains disturb, my tears would break 

The shadow of that slumber deep ; 

Then he would bid me not to weep. 

And say, with flattery false, yet sweet, 

That death and he could never meet. 


KOSALIND AND HELEN 


293 


If I would never part with him. 

And so we loved, and did unite 
All that in us was yet divided : 

For when he said, that many a rite. 

By men to bind but once provided. 

Could not be shared by him and me. 

Or they would kill him in their glee, 

I shuddered, and then laughing said, 

“We will have rites our faith to hind, 

But our church shall he the starry night. 
Our altar the grassy earth outspread, 

And our priest the muttering wind.” 

’Twas sunset as I spoke : one star 
Had scarce hurst forth, when from afar 
The ministers of misrule sent, 

Seized upon Lionel, and bore 
His chained limbs to a dreary tower. 

In the midst of a city vast and mde. 

For he, they said, from his mind had bent 
Against their gods keen blasphemy. 

For which, though his soul must roasted be 
In hell’s red lakes immortally. 

Yet even on earth must he al3ide 
The vengeance of their slaves — a trial, 

I think, men call it. What avail 
Are prayers and tears, which chase denial 
From the fierce savage, nursed in hate ? 
What the knit soul that pleading and pale 
Makes wan the quivering cheek, which late 
It painted with its own delight ? 

We were divided. As I could, 

I stilled the tingling of my blood, 

And followed him in their despite. 

As a widow follows, pale and wild. 


294 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


The murderers and corse of her only child ; 

And when we came to the prison door, 

And I prayed to share his dungeon floor 
With prayers which rarely have been spurned, 

And when men drove me forth and I 
Stared with blank frenzy on the sky, 

A farewell look of love he turned. 

Half-calming me ; then gazed awhile, 

As if through that black and massy pile. 

And through the crowd around him there. 

And through the dense and murky air. 

And the thronged streets, he did espy 
What poets knew and prophesy ; 

And said, with voice that made them shiver. 

And clung like music in my brain. 

And which the mute walls spoke again 
Prolonging it with deepened strain — 

“ Fear not the tyrants shall rule for ever. 

Or the priests of the bloody faith ; 

They stand on the brink of that mighty river. 
Whose waves they have tainted with death : 

It is fed from the depths of a thousand dells. 
Around them it foams, and rages, and swells, 

And their swDrds and their sceptres I floating see. 
Like wrecks, in the surge of eternity.” 

I dwelt beside the prison gate. 

And the strange crowd that out and in 
Passed, some, no doubt, with mine own fate. 
Might have fretted me with its ceaseless din, 

But the fever of care was louder within. 

Soon, hut too late, in penitence 
Or fear, his foes released him thence : 

I saw his thin and languid form, 

As leaning on the jailer’s arm, 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


295 


Whose hardened eyes grew moist the while, 

To meet his mute and faded smile, 

And hear his words of kind farewell. 

He tottered forth from his damp cell. 

Many had never wept before. 

From whom fast tears then gushed and fell : 
Many will relent no more, 

Who sobbed like infants then ; aye, all 
Who thronged the prison’s stony hall. 

The rulers or the slaves of law 
Felt with a new surprise and awe 
That they were human, till strong shame 
Made them again become the same. 

The prison blood-hounds, huge and grim. 

From human looks the infection caught. 

And fondly crouched and fawned on him ; 

And men have heard the prisoners say. 

Who in their rotting dungeons lay. 

That from that hour, throughout one day. 

The fierce despair and hate, which kept 
Their trampled bosoms, almost slept : 

When, like twin vultures, they hung feeding 
On each heart’s wound, wide torn and bleeding. 
Because their jailer’s rule, they thought. 

Grew merciful, like a parent’s sway. 

I know not how, but we were free : 

And Lionel sate alone with me. 

As the carriage drove through the streets apace ; 
And we looked upon each other’s face ; 

And the blood in our fingers intertwined 
Ran like the thoughts of a single mind. 

As the swift emotions went and came 
Through the veins of each united frame. 

So through the long long streets we past 


296 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


Of the million-peopled city vast ; 

Which is that desert, where each one 
Seeks his mate yet is alone, 

Beloved and sought and mourned of none ; 
Until the clear blue sky was seen, 

And the grassy meadows bright and green. 
And then I sunk in his embrace. 

Enclosing there a mighty space 
Of love : and so we travelled on 
By woods, and fields of yellow flowers. 

And towns, and villages, and towers. 

Day after day of happy hours. 

It was the azure time of June, 

When the skies are deep in the stainless noon. 

And the warm and fitful breezes shake 

The fresh green leaves of the hedge-row brier ; 

And there were odours then to make 

The very breath we did respire 

A liquid element, whereon 

Our spirits, like delighted things 

That walk the air on subtle wings, 

Floated and mingled far away, 

’Mid the warm winds of the sunny day. 

And when the evening star came forth 
Above the curve of the new bent moon. 

And light and sound ebbed from the earth, 
Like the tide of the full and weary sea 
To the depths of its own tranquillity. 

Our natures to its own repose 

Did the earth’s breathless sleep attune : 

Like flowers, which on each other close 
Their languid leaves when day-light ’s gone, 
We lay, till new emotions came. 

Which seemed to make each mortal frame 
One soul of interwoven flame. 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


‘297 


A life in life, a second birth, 

In worlds diviner far than earth. 

Which, like two strains of harmony 
That mingle in the silent sky. 

Then slowly disunite, past by 
And left the tenderness of tears, 

A soft oblivion of all fears, 

A sweet sleep : so we travelled on 
Till we came to the home of Lionel, 

Among the mountains wild and lone. 

Beside the hoary western sea, 

Which near the verge of the echoing shore 
The massy forest shadowed o’er. 

The ancient steward, with hair all hoar, 

As we alighted, wept to see 
His master changed so fearfully ; 
x\nd the old man’s sobs did waken me 
From my dream of unremaining gladness ; 

The truth flashed o’er me like quick madness 
When I looked, and saw that there was death 
On Lionel : yet day by day 
He lived, till fear grew hope and faith. 

And in my soul I dared to say, 

Nothing so bright can pass away : 

Death is dark, and foul, and dull. 

But he is — 0 how beautiful ! 

Yet day by day he grew more weak, 

And his sweet voice, when he might speak. 

Which ne’er was loud, became more low ; 

And the light which flashed through his waxen cheek 
Grew faint, as the rose-like hues which flow 
From sunset o’er the Alpine snow : 

And death seemed not like death in him, 

For the spirit of life o’er every limb 


298 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


Lingered, a mist of sense and thought. 

When the summer vand faint odours brought 
From mountain flowers, even as it passed, 
His cheek would change, as the noon-day sea 
Which the d}dng breeze sweeps fitfully. 

If but a cloud the sky o’ercast, 

You might see his colour come and go, 

And the softest strain of music made 
Sweet smiles, yet sad, arise and fade 
Amid the dew of his tender eyes ; 

And the breath, with intermitting flow, 

Made his pale lips quiver and part. 

You might hear the heatings of his heart, 
Quick, but not strong ; and with my tresses 
When oft he playfully would hind 
In the bowers of mossy lonelinesses 
His neck, and win me so to mingle 
In the sweet depth of woven caresses. 

And our faint limbs were intertwined, 

Alas ! the imquiet life did tingle 
From mine own heart through every vein, 
Like a captive in dreams of liberty, 

Who beats the walls of his stony cell. 

But his, it seemed already free. 

Like the shadow of fire surrounding me ! 

On my faint eyes and limbs did dwell 
That spirit as it passed, till soon. 

As a frail cloud wandering o’er the moon, 
Beneath its light invisible. 

Is seen when it folds its grey wings again 
To alight on midnight’s dusky plain, 

I lived and saw, and the gathering soul 
Passed from beneath that strong control. 

And I fell on a life which was sick with fear 
Of all the woe that now I bear 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


299 


Amid a bloomless myrtle wood, 

On a green and sea-girt promontory, 

Not far from where we dwelt, there stood 
In record of a sweet sad story, 

An altar and a temple bright 
Circled by steps, and o’er the gate 
Was sculptured, “To Fidelity; ” 

And in the shrine an image sate. 

All veiled : but there was seen the light 
Of smiles, which faintly could express 
A mingled pain and tenderness, 

Through that ethereal drapery. 

The left hand held the head, the right — 
Beyond the veil, beneath the skin. 

You might see the nerves quivering within — 
Was forcing the point of a barbed dart 
Into its side-convulsing heart. 

An unskilled hand, yet one informed 
With genius, had the marble warmed 
With that pathetic life. This tale 
It told : A dog had from the sea. 

When the tide was raging fearfully. 

Dragged Lionel’s mother, weak and pale,. 
Then died beside her on the sand. 

And she that temple thence had planned ; 
But it was Lionel’s own hand 
Had wrought the image. Each new moon 
That lady did, in this lone fane. 

The rites of a religion sweet. 

Whose god was in her heart and brain : 

The seasons’ loveliest flowers were strewn 
On the marble floor beneath her feet, 

And she brought crowns of sea-buds white^ 
Whose odour is so sweet and faint. 

And weeds, like branching chrysolite, 


300 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


Woven in devices fine and quaint, 

And tears from her brown eyes did stain 
The altar : need but look upon 
That dying statue, fair and wan. 

If tears should cease, to weep again : 

And rare Arabian odom*s came. 

Through the myrtle copses, steaming thence 
From the hissing frankincense. 

Whose smoke, wool-white as ocean foam, 
Hung in dense flocks beneath the dome. 
That ivory dome, whose azure night 
With golden stars, like heaven, was bright 
O’er the split cedars’ pointed flame ; 

And the lady’s harp would kindle there 
The melody of an old air, 

Softer than sleep ; the ^ullagers 
Mixt their religion up with hers. 

And as they listened round, shed tears. 

One eve he led me to this fane : 

Daylight on its last purple cloud 
Was lingering grey, and soon her strain 
The nightingale began ; now loud. 

Climbing in circles the windless sky. 

Now dying music; suddenly 
’Tis scattered in a thousand notes. 

And now to the hushed ear it floats 
Like field-smells known in infancy. 

Then fading, soothes the air again. 

We sate within that temple lone. 

Pavilioned round with Parian stone : 

His mother’s harp stood near, and oft 
I had awakened music soft 
Amid its wires : the nightingale 
Was pausing in her heaven- taught tale : 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


301 


‘‘ Now drain the cup,” said Lionel, 

“ Which the poet-bird has crowned so well 
With the wine of her bright and liquid song ! 
Heardst thou not sweet words among 
That heaven-resounding minstrelsy ! 

Heardst thou not, that those who die 
iVwake in a world of ecstasy ? 

That love, when limbs are interwoven. 

And sleep, when the night of life is cloven. 

And thought, to the world’s dim boundaries clinging. 
And music, when one beloved is singing. 

Is death ? Let us drain right joyously 
The cup which the sweet bird Ms for me.” 

He paused, and to my lips he bent 
His own : like spirit his words went 
Through all my limbs with the speed of fire ; 

And his keen eyes, glittering through mine. 

Filled me with the flame divine. 

Which in their orbs was burning far. 

Like the light of an unmeasured star. 

In the sky of midnight dark and deep : 

Yes, ’twas his soul that did inspire 
Sounds, which my skill could ne’er awaken ; 

And first, I felt my fingers sweep 

The harp, and a long quivering cry 

Burst from my lips in symphony : ' 

The dusk and solid air was shaken, 

As swift and swifter the notes came 

From my touch, that wandered like quick flame, 

And from my bosom, labouring 
With some unutterable thing : 

The awful sound of my own voice made 
My faint lips tremble ; in some mood 
Of wordless thought Lionel stood 


302 


ROSALIND AND HELEN. 


So pale, that even beside his cheek 
The snowy column from its shade 
Caught whiteness : yet his countenance 
Raised upward, burned with radiance 
Of spirit-piercing joy, whose light. 

Like the moon struggling through the night 
Of whirlwind-rifted clouds, did break 
With beams that might not be confined. 

I paused, hut soon his gestures kindled 
New power, as by the moving wind 
The waves are lifted, and my song 
To low soft notes now changed and dwindled. 
And from the twinkling wires among. 

My languid fingers drew and flung 
Circles of life-dissolving sound. 

Yet faint : in aery rings they bound 
My Lionel, who, as every strain 
Grew fainter but more sweet, his mien 
Sunk with the sound relaxedly ; 

And slowly now he tmned to me. 

As slowly faded from his face 
That awful joy : with looks serene 
He was soon drawn to my embrace, 

And my wild song then died away 
In murmurs : words, I dare not say, 

We mixed, and on his lips mine fed 
Till they methought felt still and cold : 

“ What is it with thee, love ?” I said ; 

No word, no look, no motion ! yes. 

There was a change, but spare to guess. 

Nor let that moment’s hope he told. 

I looked, and knew that he was dead. 

And fell, as the eagle on the plain 
Falls when life deserts her brain. 


EOSALIND AND HELEN. 


303 


And the mortal lightning is veiled again. 
O that I were now dead ! hut such, 

Did they not, love, demand too much. 
Those dying murmurs ? He forbad. 

O that I once again were mad ! 

And yet, dear Rosalind, not so. 

For I would live to share thy woe. 

Sweet boy ! did I forget thee too ? 

Alas, we know not what we do 
When we speak words. 


No memory more 
Is in my mind of that sea-shore. 

Madness came on me, and a troop 
Of misty shapes did seem to sit 
Beside me, on a vessel’s poop, 

And the clear north-wind was driving it. 

Then I heard strange tongues, and saw strange flowers. 
And the stars methought grew unlike ours. 

And the azure sky and the stormless sea 
Made me believe that I had died. 

And waked in a world, which was to me 
Drear hell, though heaven to all beside. 

Then a dead sleep fell on my mind. 

Whilst animal life many long years 
Had rescued from a chasm of tears ; 

And when I woke, I wept to find 
That the same lady, bright and wise. 

With silver locks and quick brown eyes. 

The mother of my Lionel, 

Had tended me in my distress. 

And died some months before. Nor less 
Wonder, but far more peace and joy. 

Brought in that hour my lovely boy ; 

For through that trance my soul had well 


304 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


The impress of thy being kept ; 

And if I waked, or if I slept, 

No doubt, though memory faithless be. 

Thy image ever dwelt on me ; 

And thus, O Lionel ! like thee 

Is our sweet child. ’Tis sure most strange 

I knew not of so great a change. 

As that which gave him birth, who now 
Is all the solace of my woe. 

That Lionel great wealth had left 
By will to me, and that of all 
The ready lies of law bereft. 

My child and me might well befall. 

But let me think not of the scorn. 

Which from the meanest I have borne. 

When, for my child’s beloved sake, 

I mixed with slaves, to vindicate 
The very laws themselves do make : 

Let me not say scorn is my fate. 

Lest I be proud, suffering the same 
With those who live in deathless fame. 

She ceased. — “ Lo, where red morning thro’ the woods 
Is burning o’er the dew !” said Kosalind. 

And with these words they rose, and towards the flood 
Of the blue lake, beneath the leaves now wind 
With equal steps and fingers intertwined : 

Thence to a lonely dwelling, where the shore 
Is shadowed with rocks, and cypresses 
Cleave with their dark green cones the silent skies. 
And with their shadows the clear depths below, 

And where a little terrace from its bowers, 

Of blooming myrtle and faint lemon flowers. 

Scatters its sense-dissolving fragrance o’er 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


805 


The liquid marble of the windless lake ; 

And where the aged forest s limbs look hoar, 

Under the leaves which their green garments make, 
They come : ’tis Helen’s home, and clean and white, 
Like one which tyrants spare on our own land 
In some such solitude, its casements bright 
Shone through their vine-leaves in the morning sun, 
And even within ’twas scarce like Italy. 

And when she saw how all things there were planned. 
As in an English home, dim memory 
Disturbed poor Rosalind : she stood as one 
Whose mind is where his body cannot be, 

Till Helen led her where her child yet slept. 

And said, “ Observe, that brow was Lionel’s, 

Those lips were his, and so he ever kept 
One arm in sleep, pillowing his head with it. 

You cannot see his eyes, they are two wells 
Of liquid love : let us not wake him yet.” 

But Rosalind could bear no more, and wept 
A shower of burning tears, which fell upon 
His face, and so his opening lashes shone 
With tears unlike his own, as he did leap 
In sudden wonder from his innocent sleep. 

So Rosalind and Helen lived together 
Thenceforth, changed in all else, yet friends again. 
Such as they were, when o’er the mountain heather 
They wandered in their youth, through sun and rain. 
And after many years, for human things 
Change even like the ocean and the wind. 

Her daughter was restored to Rosalind, 

And in their circle thence some visitings 
Of joy ’mid their new calm would intervene : 

A lovely child she was, of looks serene. 

And motions which o’er things indifferent shed 

VOL. II. X 


306 


KOSALIND AND HELEN. 


The grace and gentleness from whence they came. 
x\nd Helen’s boy grew with her, and they fed 
From the same flowers of thought, until each mind 
Like springs which mingle in one flood became, 

And in their union soon their parents saw 
The shadow of the peace denied to them. 

And Rosalind, — for when the living stem 
Is cankered in its heart, the tree must fall, — 

Died ere her time ; and with deep grief and awe 
The pale survivors followed her remains 
Beyond the region of dissolving rains. 

Up the cold mountain she was wont to call 
Her tomb ; and on Chiavenna’s precipice 
They raised a pyramid of lasting ice. 

Whose polished sides, ere day had yet begun. 

Caught the first glow of the unrisen sun. 

The last, when it had sunk ; and through the night 
The charioteers of Arctos wheeled round 
Its glittering point, as seen from Helen’s home. 
Whose sad inhabitants each year would come, 

With willing steps climbing that rugged height, 
x\nd hang long locks of hair, and garlands bound 
W^ith amaranth flowers, which, in the clime’s despite, 
Filled the frore air with unaccustomed light : 

Such flowers, as in the wintry memory bloom 
Of one friend left, adorned that frozen tomb. 

Helen, whose spirit was of softer mould, 

Whose sufferings too were less, death slowlier led 
Into the peace of his dominion cold : 

She died among her kindred, being old ; 

And Imow, that if love die not in the dead 
As in the living, none of mortal kind 
Are blest, as now Helen and Rosalind. 


LINES WEITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN 
HILLS. 


Many a green isle needs mast be 
In the deep wide sea of misery, 

Or the mariner, worn and wan, 

Never thus could voyage on 
Day and night, and night and day. 
Drifting on his dreary way, 

With the solid darkness black 
Closing round his vessel’s track ; 
Whilst above, the sunless sky. 

Big with clouds, hangs heavily, 

And behind the tempest fleet 
Hurries on with lightning feet, 

Eiving sail, and cord, and plank. 

Till the ship has almost drank 
Death from the o’er-brimming deep ; 
And sinks down, down, like that sleep 
When the dreamer seems to be 
Weltering through eternity ; 

And the dim low line before 
Of a dark and distant shore 
Still recedes, as ever still 
Longing with divided will ; 

But no power to seek or shun. 

He is ever drifted on 


LINES WEITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


O’er the unreposing wave 
To the haven of the grave. 

What, if there no friends will greet ; 
What, if there no heart will meet 
His with love’s impatient beat ; 
Wander wheresoe’er he may, 

Can he dream before that day 
To find refuge from distress 
In friendship’s smile, in love’s caress? 
Then ’twill wreak him little woe 
Whether such there be or no : 
Senseless is the breast, and cold, 
Which relenting love would fold ; 
Bloodless are the veins and chill 
Which the pulse of pain did fill : 
Every little living nerve 
That from bitter words did swerve 
Bound the tortured lips and brow, 
Are like sapless leaflets now 
Frozen upon December’s bough. 

On the beach of a northern sea 
Which tempests shake eternally, 

As once the wretch there lay to sleep. 
Lies a solitary heap. 

One white skull and seven dry bones, 
On the margin of the stones. 

Where a few grey rushes stand. 
Boundaries of the sea and land : 

Nor is heard one voice of wail 
But the sea-mews, as they sail 
O’er the billows of the gale ; 

Or the whirlwind up and down 
Howling, like a slaughtered town. 
When a king in glory rides 


LINES WEITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


309 


Through the pomp of fratricides : 

Those unhuried bones around 
There is many a mournful sound ; 

There is no lament for him, 

Like a sunless vapour, dim. 

Who once clothed with life and thought 
What now moves nor murmurs not. 

Ay, many flowering islands He 
In the waters of wide Agony : 

To such a one this morn was led 
My bark, by soft winds piloted. 

’Mid the mountains Euganean, 

I stood listening to the paean 

With which the legioned rooks did hail 

The sun’s uprise majestical ; 

Gathering round with wings all hoar. 
Through the dewy mist they soar 
Like grey shades, till the eastern heaven 
Bursts, and then, as clouds of even. 
Flecked with fire and azure, lie 
In the unfathomable sky, 

So their plumes of purple grain. 

Starred with drops of golden rain. 

Gleam above the sunlight woods. 

As in silent multitudes 
On the morning’s fitful gale 
Through the broken mist they sail ; 

And the vapours cloven and gleaming 
Follow down the dark steep streaming. 
Till all is bright, and clear, and still. 
Round the solitary hill. 

Beneath is spread like a green sea 
The waveless plain of Lombardy, 


LINES WKITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


Bounded by the vaporous air, 
Islanded by cities fair ; 

Underneath day’s azure eyes, 
Ocean’s nursling, Venice lies, — 

A peopled labyrinth of walls, 
Amphitrite’s destined halls. 

Which her hoary sire now paves 
With his blue and beaming waves. 
Lo ! the sun upsprings behind. 
Broad, red, radiant, half-reclined 
On the level quivering line 
Of the waters crystalline ; 

And before that chasm of light. 

As within a furnace bright. 

Column, tower, and dome, and spire, 
Shine like obelisks of fire, 

Pointing with inconstant motion 
From the altar of dark ocean 
To the sapphire-tinted skies ; 

As the flames of sacrifice 
From the marble shrines did rise 
As to pierce the dome of gold 
Where Apollo spoke of old. 

Sun-girt City ! thou hast been 
Ocean’s child, and then his queen ; 
Now is come a darker day, 

And thou soon must be his prey, 

If the power that raised thee here 
Hallow so thy watery bier. 

A less drear ruin then than now. 
With thy conquest-branded brow 
Stooping to the slave of slaves 
From thy throne among the waves. 
Wilt thou be, when the sea-mew 


LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


Flies, as once before it flew, 
e’er thine isles depopulate. 

And all is in its ancient state. 

Save where many a palace-gate 
With green sea-flowers overgrown 
Like a rock of ocean’s own. 

Topples o’er the abandon’d sea 
As the tides change sullenly. 

The fisher on his watery way, 
Wandering at the close of day. 

Will spread his sail and seize his oar, 
Till he pass the gloomy shore. 

Lest thy dead should, from their sleep 
Bursting o’er the starlight deep, 

Lead a rapid masque of death 
O’er the waters of his path. 

Those who alone thy towers behold 
Quivering through aerial gold. 

As I now behold them here, 

Would imagine not they were 
Sepulchres, where human forms. 

Like pollution-nourish’d worms. 

To the corpse of greatness cling, 
Murdered and now mouldering : 

But if Freedom should awake 
In her omnipotence, and shake 
From the Celtic Anarch’s hold 
All the keys of dungeons cold. 

Where a hundred cities lie 
Chained like thee, ingloriously. 

Thou and all thy sister band 
Might adorn this sunny land, 

Twining memories of old time 
With new virtues more sublime ; 


312 


LINES WEITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


If not, perish thou and they ; 

Clouds which stain truth’s rising day 
By her sun consumed away, 

Earth can spare ye ; while like flowers, 
In the waste of years and hours. 

From your dust new nations spring 
With more kindly blossoming. 

Perish ! let there only be 
Floating o’er thy hearthless sea, 

As the garment of thy sky 
Clothes the world immortally. 

One remembrance, more sublime 
Than the tattered pall of Time, 

Which scarce hides thy visage wan : 
That a tempest- cleaving swan 
Of the songs of Albion, 

Driven from his ancestral streams, 

By the might of evil dreams. 

Found a nest in thee ; and Ocean 
Welcomed him with such emotion 
That its joy grew his, and sprung 
From his lips like music flung 
O’er a mighty thunder-fit. 

Chastening terror : what though yet 
Poesy’s unfailing river. 

Which through Albion winds for ever. 
Lashing with melodious wave 
Many a sacred poet’s grave. 

Mourn its latest nursling fled ! 

What though thou with all thy dead 
Scarce can for this fame repay 
Aught thine own, — oh, rather say. 
Though thy sins and slaveries foul 
Overcloud a sunlike soul ! 


LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 

As the ghost of Homer clings 
Bound Scamander’s wasting springs ; 

As divinest Shakspeare’s might 
Fills Avon and the world with light, 

Like omniscient power, which he 
Imaged ’mid mortality ; 

As the love from Petrarch’s um. 

Yet amid yon hills doth burn, 

A quenchless lamp, by which the heart 
Sees things unearthly ; so thou art. 
Mighty spirit : so shall be 
The city that did refuge thee. 

Lo, the sun floats up the sky, 

Like thought-winged Liberty, 

Till the universal light 
Seems to level plain and height ; 

From the sea a mist has spread. 

And the beams of morn lie dead 
On the towers of Venice now. 

Like its glory long ago. 

By the skirts of that grey cloud 
Many-domed Padua proud 
Stands, a peopled solitude, 

’Mid the harvest shining plain. 

Where the peasant heaps his grain 
In the garner of his foe. 

And the milk-white oxen slow 
With the purple vintage strain. 

Heaped upon the creaking wain. 

That the brutal Celt may swill 
Drunken sleep with savage will ; 

And the sickle to the sword 

Lies unchanged, though many a lord, 

Like a weed whose shade is poison. 


LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HII.LS. 

Overgrows this region’s foison, 

Sheaves of whom are ripe to come 
To destruction’s harvest-home : 

Men must reap the things they sow^ 

Force from force must ever flow, 

Or worse ; but ’tis a bitter woe 
That love or reason cannot change 
The despot’s rage, the slave’s revenge 

Padua, thou within whose walls 
Those mute guests at festivals. 

Son and Mother, Death and Sin, 

Played at dice for Ezzelin, 

Till Death cried, “ I win, I win ! ” 

And Sin cursed to lose the wager. 

But Death promised, to assuage her. 

That he would petition for 
Her to be made Vice-Emperor, 

When the destined years were o’er. 

Over all between the Po 
And the eastern Alpine snow. 

Under the mighty Austrian. 

Sin smiled so as Sin only can, 

And since that time, ay, long before, 

Both have ruled from shore to shore. 

That incestuous pair, who follow 
Tyrants as the sun the swallow, 

As Repentance follows Crime, 

And as changes follow Time. 

In thine halls the lamp of learning, 
Padua, now no more is burning ; 

Like a meteor, whose wild way 
Is lost over the grave of day, 

It gleams betrayed and to betray : 


LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


315 


Once remotest nations came 
To adore that sacred flame, 

When it lit not many a hearth 
On this cold and gloomy earth ; 

Now new fires from Antique light 
Spring beneath the wide world’s might ; 
But their spark lies dead in thee, 
Trampled out by tyranny. 

As the Norway woodman quells. 

In the depth of piny dells. 

One light flame among the brakes. 
While the boundless forest shakes. 

And its mighty trunks are torn 
By the fire thus lowly born ; 

The spark beneath his feet is dead. 

He starts to see the flames it fed 
Howling through the darkened sky 
With myriad tongues victoriously. 

And sinks down in fear : so thou, 

O tyranny ! heholdest now 
Light around thee, and thou hearest 
The loud flames ascend, and fearest ; 
Grovel on the earth ; ay, hide 
In the dust thy purple pride ! 

Noon descends around me now : 

’Tis the noon of autumn’s glow, 

When a soft and purple mist 
Like a vaporous amethyst. 

Or an air-dissolved star 
Mingling light and fragrance, far 
From the curved horizon’s bound 
To the point of heaven’s profound, 

Fills the overflowing sky ; 

And the plains that silent lie 


316 


LINES WKITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


Underneath ; the leaves unsodden 
Where the infant frost has trodden 
With his morning' winged feet, 

Whose bright print is gleaming yet ; 
And the red and golden vines, 

Piercing with their trellised lines 
The rough, dark-skirted wilderness ; 
The dun and hladed grass no less, 
Pointing from this hoary tower 
In the windless air ; the flower 
Glimmering at my feet ; the line 
Of the olive sandalled Apennine 
In the south dimly islanded ; 

And the Alps, whose snows are spread 
High between the clouds and sun ; 
And of living things each one ; 

And my spirit, which so long 
Darkened this swift stream of song. 
Interpenetrated lie 
By the glory of the sky ; 

Be it love, light, harmony. 

Odour, or the soul of all 
Which from heaven like dew doth fall. 
Or the mind which feeds this verse 
Peopling the lone universe. 

Noon descends, and after noon 
Autumn’s evening meets me soon, 
Leading the infantine moon. 

And that one star, which to her 
Almost seems to minister 
Half the crimson light she brings 
From the sunset’s radiant springs : 
And the soft dreams of the morn 
(Which like winged winds had home 
To that silent isle, which hes 


LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


’Mid remembered agonies. 

The frail bark of this lone being), 

Pass, to other sufferers fleeing, 

And its ancient pilot, Pain, 

Sits beside the helm again. 

Other flowering isles must be 
In tlie sea of life and agony : 

Other spirits float and flee 
O’er that gulf : even now, perhaps, 

On some rock the wild wave wraps. 
With folding wings they waiting sit 
For my bark, to pilot it 
To some calm and blooming cove, 
Where for me, and those I love, 

May a windless bower be built. 

Far from passion, pain, and guilt. 

In a dell ’mid lawny hills. 

Which the wild sea-murmur fills, 

And soft sunshine, and the sound 
Of old forests echoing round. 

And the light and smell divine 
Of all flowers that breathe and shine. 
We may live so happy there, 

That the spirits of the air. 

Envying us, may even entice 
To our healing paradise 
The polluting multitude ; 

But their rage would be subdued 
By that clime divine and calm. 

And the winds whose wings rain balm 
On the uplifted soul, and leaves 
Under which the bright sea heaves ; 
While each breathless interval 
In their whisperings musical 


318 LINES WRITTEN AMONG THE EUGANEAN HILLS. 


The inspired soul supplies 
With its own deep melodies ; 

And the love w^hich heals all strife 
Circling, like the breath of life, 

All things in that sweet abode 
With its own mild brotherhood. 

They, not it, would change ; and soon 
Every sprite beneath the moon 
Would repent its envy vain, 

And the earth grow young again. 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


Count Maddalo is a Venetian nobleman of ancient family and of 
great fortune, who, without mixing much in the society of his country- 
men, resides chiefly at his magnificent palace in that city. He is a 
person of the most consummate genius ; and capable, if he would direct 
his energies to such an end, of becoming the redeemer of his degraded 
country. But it is his weakness to be proud : he derives, fi-om a com- 
parison of his own extraordinary mind with the dwarfish intellects that 
surround him, an intense apprehension of the nothingness of human 
life. His passions and his powers are incomparably greater than those 
of other men, and, instead of the latter having been employed in curbing 
the former, they have mutually lent each other strength. His ambition 
preys upon itself, for want of objects which it can consider worthy of 
exertion. I say that Maddalo is proud, because I can find no other 
word to express the concentered and impatient feelings which consume 
him ; but it is on his own hopes and affections only that he seems to 
trample, for in social life no human being can be more gentle, patient, 
and unassuming than Maddalo. He is cheerful, frank, and witty. His 
more serious conversation is a sort of intoxication ; men are held by it 
as by a spell. He has travelled much ; and there is an inexpressible 
charm in his relation of his adventures in different countries, 

J Lilian is an Englishman of good family, passionately attached to those 
philosophical notions which assert the power of man over his own mind, 
and the immense improvements of which, by the extinction of certain 
moral superstitions, human society may yet be susceptible. Without 


320 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


concealing the evil in the world, he is for ever speculating how good 
may he made superior. He is a complete infidel, and a scoffer at all 
things reputed holy; and Maddalo takes a wicked pleasure in drawing 
out his taunts against religion. What Maddalo thinks on these matters 
is not exactly known. Julian, in spite of his heterodox opinions, is 
conjectured by his friends to possess some good qualities. How far this 
is possible the pious reader will determine. Julian is rather serious. 

Of the Maniac I can give no information. He seems by his own 
account to have been disappointed in love. He was evidently a very 
cultivated and amiable person when in his right senses. His story, 
told at length, might be, like many other stories of the same kind : 
the unconnected exclamations of his agony will perhaps be found a 
sufficient comment for the text of every heart. 


JULIAN AND MADDALO : 

A CONVERSATION. 


The meadows with fresh streams, the bees with thyme, 

The goats with the green leaves of budding spring, 

Are satm-ated not— nor Love with tears. 

Virgil'S Gallus. 


I EODE one evening with Count Maddalo 
Upon the hank of land which breaks the flow 
Of Adria towards Venice : a hare strand 
Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand, 

Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds, 

Such as from earth’s embrace the salt ooze breeds. 
Is this, an uninhabited sea-side, 

Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried. 
Abandons ; and no other object breaks 
The waste, but one dwarf tree and some few stakes 
Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes 
A narrow space of level sand thereon. 

Where ’twas our wont to ride while day went down. 
This ride was my delight. I love all waste 
And solitary places ; where we taste 
The pleasure of believing what we see 
Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be : 

And such was this wide ocean, and this shore 
More barren than its billows : and yet more 
Than all, with a remembered friend I love 
To ride as then I rode ; — for the winds drove 

VOL. II. Y 


322 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


The living spray along the sunny air 

Into oui’ faces ; the blue heavens were bai’e, 

Stripped to their depths by the awakening north ; 

And, from the waves, sound hke dehght broke forth 

Harmonizing with solitude, and sent 

Into om’ heaits aerial meniment. 

So, as we rode, we talked ; and the swift thought. 
Winging itseK with laughter, lingered not, 

But flew from brain to brain ; such glee was ours. 
Charged with light memories of remembered hom*s, 
None slow enough for sadness, till we came 
Homeward, which always makes the spnit tame. 
This day had been cheerful but cold, and now 
The sun was sinking, and the wind also. 

Our talk grew somewhat serious, as may be 
Talk interrupted with such raillery 
As mocks itself, because it cannot scorn 
The thoughts it would extinguish : — ’twas forlorn. 
Yet pleasing ; such as once, so poets tell. 

The devils held within the dales of hell. 

Concerning God, freewill, and destiny. 

Of all that Eai'th has been, or yet may be ; 

All that vain men imagine or beheve. 

Or hope can paint, or sufieiing can achieve. 

We descanted ; and I (for ever still 
Is it not wise to make the best of ill ?) 

Argued against despondency ; but pride 
Hade my companion take the darker side. 

The sense that he was greater than his kind 
Had struck, methmks, his eagle spirit blind 
By gazing on its own exceeding light. 

Alean while the sun paused ere it should ahght 
Over the horizon of the mountains — Oh ! 

How beautiful is sunset, when the glow 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 

Of heaven descends upon a land like thee, 

Thou paradise of exiles, Italy ! 

Thy mountains, seas, and vineyards, and the towers. 
Of cities they encircle ! — It was ours 
To stand on thee, beholding it : and then. 

Just where we had dismounted, the Count’s men 
Were waiting for us with the gondola. 

As those who pause on some delightful way. 

Though bent on pleasant pilgrimage, we stood 
Looking upon the evening, and the flood 
Which lay between the city and the shore. 

Paved with the image of the sky : the hoar 
And airy Alps, towards the north, appeared. 

Thro’ mist, a heaven-sustaining bulwark, reared 
Betw^een the east and west ; and half the sky 
Was roofed with clouds of rich emblazonry, 

Dark purple at the zenith, which still grew 
Down the steep west into a wondrous hue 
Brighter than burning gold, even to the rent 
Where the swift sun yet paused in his descent 
Among the many-folded hills — they were 
Those famous Euganean hills, which bear, 

As seen from Lido through the harbour piles. 

The likeness of a clump of peaked isles — 

And then, as if the earth and sea had been 
Dissolved into one lake of fire, were seen 
Those mountains towering, as from waves of flame. 
Around the vaporous sun, from which there came 
The inmost purple spirit of light, and made 
Their very peaks transparent. “Ere it fade,” 

Said my companion, “ I will show you soon 
A better station.” So, o’er the lagune 
We glided ; and from that funereal bark 
I leaned, and saw the city, and could mark 
How from their many isles, in evening’s gleam, 

Y 2 


3-23 


324 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


Its temples and its palaces did seem 
Like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven. 

I was about to speak, when — “ We are even 
Now at the point I meant,” said Maddalo, 

And bade the gondolieri cease to row. 

“ Look, Julian, on the west, and listen well 
If you hear not a deep and heavy bell.” 

I looked, and saw between us and the smi 
A building on an island, such a one 
As age to age might add, for uses vile, — 

A windowless, deformed, and dreary pile ; 

And on the top an open tower, where hung 
A bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung. 

We could just hear its coarse and iron tongue : 

The broad sun sank behind it, and it tolled 
In strong and black relief — “ What we behold 
Shall be the madhouse and its belfry tower,” — 

Said Maddalo ; “ and even at this hour. 

Those who may cross the water hear that bell. 
Which calls the maniacs, each one from his cell. 

To vespers.” — “As much skill as need to pray. 

In thanks or hope for their dark lot have they. 

To their stern maker,” I replied. — “ 0, ho ! 

You talk as in years past,” said Maddalo. 

“ ’Tis strange men change not. You were ever still 
Among Christ’s flock a perilous infidel, 

A wolf for the meek lambs : if you can’t swim. 
Beware of providence.” I looked on him. 

But the gay smile had faded from his eye. 

“And such,” he cried, “is our mortality; 

And this must be the emblem and the sign 
Of what should be eternal and divine ; 

And like that black and dreary bell, the soul, 

Hung in a heaven-illumined tower, must toll 
Our thoughts and our desires to meet below 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


325 


Eound the rent heart, and pray — as madmen do ; 

For what ? they know not, till the night of death, 

As sunset that strange vision, severeth 
Our memory from itself, and us from all 
We sought, and yet were baffled.” I recall 
The sense of what he said, although I mar 
The force of his expressions. The broad star 
Of day meanwhile had sunk behind the hill ; 

And the black bell became invisible ; 

And the red tower looked grey ; and all between, 

The churches, ships, and palaces, were seen 
Huddled in gloom ; into the purple sea 
The orange hues of heaven sunk silently. 

We hardly spoke, and soon the gondola 
Conveyed me to my lodging by the way. 

The following mom was rainy, cold, and dim : 

Ere Maddalo arose I called on him. 

And whilst I waited with his child I played ; 

A lovelier toy sweet Nature never made ; 

A serious, subtle, wild, yet gentle being ; 

Graceful without design, and unforeseeing ; 

With eyes — Oh ! speak not of her eyes ! which seem 
Twin mirrors of Italian Heaven, yet gleam 
With such deep meaning as we never see 
But in the human countenance. With me 
She was a special favourite : I had nursed 
Her fine and feeble limbs, when she came first 
To this bleak world ; and yet she seemed to know 
On second sight her ancient playfellow. 

Less changed than she was by six months or so. 

For, after her first shyness was worn out. 

We sate there, rolling billiard balls about, 

When the Count entered. Salutations passed : 

“ The words you spoke last night might well have cast 


326 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


A darkness on my spirit : — if man be 
The passive thing you say, I should not see 
Much harm in the religions and old saws, 

(Tho’ I may never own such leaden laws) 

Which break a teachless nature to the yoke : 
Mine is another faith.” — Thus much I spoke. 
And, noting he replied not, added — “ See 
This lovely child ; blithe, innocent, and free ; 
She spends a happy time, with little care ; 
While we to such sick thoughts subjected are. 
As came on you last night. It is our will 
Which thus enchains us to permitted ill. 

We might be otherwise ; we might be all 
We dream of, happy, high, majestical. 

Where is the beauty, love, and truth, we seek, 
But in our minds ? And, if we were not weak, 
Should we be less in deed than in desire ? ” — 
— “ Ay, if we were not weak, — and we aspire, 
How vainly! to be strong,” said Maddalo : 

“ You talk Utopian ” — 

“It remains to know,” 

I then rejoined, “ and those who try, may find 
How strong the chains are which our spirit bind 
Brittle perchance as straw. We are assured 
Much may be conquered, much may be endured. 
Of what degrades and crushes us. We know 
That we have power over ourselves to do 
And suffer — what, we know not till we try ; 

But something nobler than to live and die : 

So taught the kings of old philosophy. 

Who reigned before religion made men blind ; 
And those who suffer with their suffering kind. 
Yet feel this faith, religion.” 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


327 


“ My dear friend,” 

Said Maddalo, “ niy judgment will not bend 
To your opinion, though I think you might 
Make such a system refutation-tight. 

As far as words go. I knew one like you, 

Who to this city came some months ago, 

With whom I argued in this sort, — and he 
Is now gone mad — and so he answered me. 

Poor fellow ! — But if you would like to go, 

We 11 visit him, and his wild talk will show 
How vain are such aspiring theories.” — 

“ I hope to prove the induction otherwise. 

And that a want of that true theory still. 

Which seeks a soul of goodness in things ill. 

Or in himself or others, has thus bowed 
His being : — there are some by nature proud. 
Who, patient in all else, demand but this — 

To love and be beloved with gentleness : — 

And being scorned, what wonder if they die 
Some living death ? This is not destiny, 

But man’s own wilful ill.” 


As thus I spoke. 

Servants announced the gondola, and we 
Through the fast-falling rain and high-wrought sea 
Sailed to the island where the madhouse stands. 
We disembarked. The clap of tortured hands, 
Fierce yells and bowlings, and lamentings keen, 
And laughter where complaint had merrier been. 
Accosted us. We climbed the oozy stairs 
Into an old court-yard. I heard on high. 

Then, fragments of most touching melody. 

But looking up saw not the singer there. — 

Thro’ the black bars in the tempestuous air 


3Q8 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


I saw, like weeds on a wrecked palace growing, 
Long tangled locks flung wildly forth and flowing. 
Of those on a sudden who were beguiled 
Into strange silence, and looked forth and smiled. 
Hearing sweet sounds. Then I : 


“ Methinks there 

A cure of these with patience and kind care, 

If music can thus move. But what is he. 

Whom we seek here ? ” 


“ Of his sad history 

I know hut this,” said Maddalo : “he came 
To Venice a dejected man, and fame 
Said he was wealthy, or he had been so. 

Some thought the loss of fortune wrought him woe 
But he was ever talking in such sort 
As you do, — but more sadly ; — he seemed hurt, 
Even as a man with his peculiar wrong. 

To hear but of the oppression of the strong. 

Or those absurd deceits (I think with you 
In some respects, you know) which carry through 
The excellent impostors of this earth 
When they outface detection. He had worth, 
Poor fellow ! hut a humourist in his way.” 

— “ Alas, what drove him mad ?” 


“ I cannot say : 

A lady came with him from France, and when 
She left him and returned, he wandered then 
About yon lonely isles of desert sand. 

Till he grew wild. He had no cash nor land 
Bemaining : — the police had brought him here — 
Some fancy took him, and he would not bear 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


329 


Removal, so I fitted up for him 

Those rooms beside the sea, to please his whim ; 

And sent him busts, and books, and urns for flowers. 
Which had adorned his life in happier hours, 

And instruments of music. You may guess 
A stranger could do little more or less 
For one so gentle and unfortunate — 

And those are his sweet strains which charm the weight 
From madmen’s chains, and make this hell appear 
A heaven of sacred silence, hushed to hear.” 

“Nay, this was kind of you, — he had no claim. 

As the world says.” 


“ None hut the very same 
Which I on all mankind, were I, as he. 

Fallen to such deep reverse. His melody 
Is interrupted now : we hear the din 
Of madmen, shriek on shriek, again begin : 

Let us now visit him : after this strain. 

He ever communes with himself again. 

And sees and hears not any.” 


Having said 

These words, we called the keeper, and he led 
To an apartment opening on the sea — 

There the poor wretch was sitting mournfully 
Near a piano, his pale fingers twined 
One with the other ; and the ooze and wind 
Rushed through an open casement, and did sway 
His hair, and starred it with the brackish spray : 
His head was leaning on a music-book, 

And he was muttering ; and his lean limbs shook. 
His lips were pressed against a folded leaf, 

In hue too beautiful for health, and grief 


330 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


Smiled in their motions as they lay apart, 

As one who wrought from his own fervid heart 
The eloquence of passion : soon he raised 
His sad meek face, and eyes lustrous and glazed. 

And spoke, — sometimes as one who wrote, and thought 
His words might move some heart that heeded not, 

If sent to distant lands ; — and then as one 
Eeproaching deeds never to he undone, 

With wondering self-compassion ; — then his speech 
Was lost in grief, and then his words came each 
Unmodulated and expressionless, — 

But that from one jarred accent you might guess 
It was despair made them so uniform : 

And all the while the loud and gusty storm 
Hissed through the window, and we stood behind, 
Stealing his accents from the envious vind. 

Unseen. I yet remember what he said 
Distinctly, such impression his words made. 

“ Month after month,” he cried, “ to bear this load. 
And, as a jade urged by the whip and goad. 

To drag life on — which like a heavy chain 
Lengthens behind with many a link of pain. 

And not to speak my grief — 0, not to dare 
To give a human voice to my despair ; 

But live, and move, and, wretched thing ! smile on. 

As if I never went aside to groan. 

And wear this mask of falsehood even to those 
Who are most dear — not for my own repose. 

Alas ! no scorn, nor pain, nor hate, could be 
So heavy as that falsehood is to me — 

But that I cannot hear more altered faces 

Than needs must he, more changed and cold embraces. 

More misery, disappointment, and mistrust, 

To own me for their father. Would the dust 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


331 


Were covered in upon my body now ! 

That the life ceased to toil within my brow ! 

And then these thoughts would at the last be fled : 
Let us not fear such pain can vex the dead. 

“ What Power delights to torture us ? I know 
That to myself I do not wholly owe 
What now I suffer, though in part I may. 

Alas ! none strewed fresh flowers upon the way 
Where, wandering heedlessly, I met pale Pain, 

My shadow, which will leave me not again. 

If I have erred, there was no joy in error. 

But pain, and insult, and unrest, and terror ; 

I have not, as some do, bought penitence 
With pleasure, and a dark yet sweet offence ; 

For then if love, and tenderness, and truth, 

Had overlived Hope’s momentary youth, 

My creed should have redeemed me from repenting ; 

But loathed scorn and outrage unrelenting 

Met love excited by far other seeming 

Until the end was gained : — as one from dreaming 

Of sweetest peace, I woke, and found my state 

Such as it is — 


“ 0 thou, my spirit’s mate ! 

Who, for thou art compassionate and wise, 
Wouldst pity me from thy most gentle eyes 
If this sad writing thou shouldst ever see ; 

My secret groans must be unheard by thee ; 

Thou wouldst weep tears, bitter as blood, to know 
Thy lost friend’s incommunicable woe. 

Ye few by whom my nature has been weighed 
In friendship, let me not that name degrade, 

By placing on your hearts the secret load 
Which crushes mine to dust. There is one road 


332 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


To peace, and that is truth, which follow ye ! 

Love sometimes leads astray to misery. 

Yet think not, though subdued (and I may well 
Say that I am subdued) — that the full hell 
Within me would infect the untainted breast 
Of sacred nature with its own unrest ; 

As some perverted beings think to find 
In scorn or hate a medicine for the mind 
Which scorn or hate hath wounded. — 0, how vain 
The dagger heals not, hut may rend again. 

Believe that I am ever still the same 
In creed as in resolve ; and what may tame 
My heart, must leave the understanding free, 

Or all would sink under this agony. — 

Nor dream that I will join the vulgar lie, 

Or with my silence sanction tyranny, 

Or seek a moment’s shelter from my pain 
In any madness which the world calls gain ; 
Ambition, or revenge, or thoughts as stern 
As those which make me what I am, or turn 
To avarice, or misanthropy, or lust : 

Heap on me soon, 0 grave, thy welcome dust ! 

Till then the dungeon may demand its prey ; 

And Poverty and Shame may meet and say. 
Halting beside me in the public way, — 

‘ That love- devoted youth is ours : let ’s sit 
Beside him : he may live some six months yet.’ — 
Or the red scaffold, as our country bends. 

May ask some willing victim ; or ye, friends. 

May fall under some sorrow, which this heart 
Or hand may share, or vanquish, or avert ; 

I am prepared, in truth, with no proud joy, 

To do or suffer aught, as wLen a boy 
I did devote to justice, and to love. 

My nature, worthless now. 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


383 


“ I must remove 
A veil from my pent mind. ’Tis tom aside ! 

0 ! pallid as death’s dedicated bride, 

Thou mockery which art sitting by my side, 

Am I not wan like thee ? At the grave’s call 

1 haste, invited to thy wedding-hall. 

To meet the ghastly paramour, for whom 
Thou hast deserted me, — and made the tomb 
Thy bridal bed. But I beside thy feet 
Will lie, and watch ye from my winding-sheet 
Thus — wide awake though dead — ^Yet stay, 0, stay ! 

Go not so soon — I know not what I say — 

Hear hut my reasons — I am mad, I fear. 

My fancy is o’erwrought — thou art not here. 

Pale art thou ’tis most tme hut thou art gone — 

Thy work is finished ; I am left alone. 

^ >lc ilc 

“ Nay was it I who woo'd thee to this breast. 

Which like a serpent thou envenomest 
As in repayment of the warmth it lent ? 

Didst thou not seek me for thine own content ? 

Did not thy love awaken mine ? I thought 
That thou wert she who said ‘ You kiss me not 
Ever ; I fear you do not love me now.’ 

In tmth I loved even to my overthrow 

Her who would fain forget these words, hut they 

Cling to her mind, and cannot pass away. 

^ sjc ^ 

“ You say that I am proud ; that when I speak. 

My lip is tortured with the wrongs, which break 
The spirit it expresses. — Never one 
Humbled himself before, as I have done ; 

Even the instinctive worm on which we tread 
Turns, though it wound not — then, with prostrate head, 
Sinks in the dust, and writhes like me — and dies : 


334 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


No : — wears a living death of agonies ; 

As the slow shadows of the pointed grass 
Mark the eternal periods, its pangs pass, 

Slow, ever-moving, making moments he 
As mine seem, — each an immortality! 

^ iji 

“ That you had never seen me ! never heard 
My voice ! and more than all had ne’er endured 
The deep pollution of my loathed embrace ; 

That your eyes ne’er had lied love in my face ! 

That, like some maniac monk, I had torn out 
The nerves of manhood by their bleeding root 
With mine own quivering fingers ! so that ne’er 
Our hearts had for a moment mingled there. 

To disunite in horror ! These were not 
With thee like some suppressed and hideous thought, 
Which flits athwart our musings, but can find 
No rest within a pure and gentle mind — 

Thou sealedst them with many a bare broad word. 
And sear’dst my memory o’er them, — for I heard 
And can forget not — they were ministered. 

One after one, those curses. Mix them up 
Like self-destroying poisons in one cup ; 

And they will make one blessing, which thou ne’er 
Didst imprecate for on me death ! 

“ It were 

A. cruel punishment for one most cruel. 

If such can love, to make that love the fuel 
Of the mind’s hell — hate, scorn, remorse, despair : 
But me, whose heart a stranger’s tear might wear 
As water-drops the sandy fountain stone ; 

Who loved and pitied all things, and could moan 
For woes which others hear not, and could see 
The absent with a glass of phantasy. 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


335 


And near the poor and trampled sit and weep, 
Following the captive to his dungeon deep ; 

Mcy who am as a nerve o’er which do creep 
The else-unfelt oppressions of this earth, 

And was to thee the flame upon thy hearth, 

When all beside was cold : — that thou on me 
Should rain these plagues of blistering agony — 

Such curses are from lips once eloquent 
With love’s too partial praise ! Let none relent 
Who intend deeds too dreadful for a name 
Henceforth, if an example for the same 
They seek : — for thou on me lookedst so and so, 

And didst speak thus and thus, I live to show 
How much men hear and die not. 

^ ^ ^ 

“ Thou wilt tell. 

With the grimace of hate, how horrible 
It was to meet my love when thine grew less ; 

Thou wilt admire how I could e’er address 
Such features to love’s work .... This taunt, though true, 
(For indeed Nature nor in form nor hue 
Bestowed on me her choicest workmanship) 

Shall not be thy defence : for since thy lip 

Met mine first, years long past, — since thine eye kindled 

With soft fire under mine, — I have not dwindled, 

Nor changed in mind, or body, or in aught 
But as love changes what it loveth not 
After long years and many trials. 

^ >!< 

“ How vain 

Are words ; I thought never to speak again. 

Not even in secret, not to my own heart — 

But from my lips the unwilling accents start, 

And from my pen the words flow as I write. 

Dazzling my eyes with scalding tears — my sight 


336 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


Is dim to see that (charactered in vain 
On this unfeeling leaf) which burns the brain 
And eats into it, blotting all things fair, 

And mse and good, which time had written there. 
Those who inflict must suffer, for they see 
The work of their own hearts, and that must be 
Our chastisement or recompense. — 0 child ! 

I would that thine were like to be more mild 
For both our wretched sakes, — for thine the most, 
Who feel’st already all that thou hast lost, 

Without the power to wish it thine again. 

And, as slow years pass, a funereal train, 

Each with the ghost of some lost hope or friend 
Following it like its shadow, wilt thou bend 
No thought on my dead memory ? 

^ 

“ Alas, love ! 

F ear me not : against thee I ’d not move 

A finger in despite. Do I not live 

That thou mayst have less bitter cause to grieve ? 

I give thee tears for scorn, and love for hate ; 

And, that thy lot may be less desolate 
Than his on whom thou tramplest, I refrain 
From that sweet sleep which medicines all pain. 
Then — when thou speakest of me — never say, 

‘ He could forgive not.’ — Here I cast away 
All human passions, all revenge, all pride ; 

I think, speak, act no ill ; I do but hide 
Under these words, like embers, every spark 
Of that which has consumed me. Quick and dark 
The grave is yawning : — as its roof shall cover 
My limbs with dust and worms, under and over, 

So let oblivion hide this grief. — The air 
Closes upon my accents as despair 
Upon my heart — ^let death upon my care ! ” 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 337 

He ceased, and overcome, leant back awhile ; 

Then rising, with a melancholy smile. 

Went to a sofa, and lay down, and slept 
A heavy sleep, and in his dreams he wept, 

And muttered some familiar name, and we 
Wept without shame in his society. 

I think I never was impressed so much ! 

The man, who was not, must have lacked a touch 
Of human nature. — Then we lingered not. 

Although our argument was quite forgot ; 

But, calling the attendants, went to dine 
At Maddalo’s ; — ^yet neither cheer nor wine 
Could give us spirits, for we talked of him, 

And nothing else, till daylight made stars dim. 

And we agreed it was some dreadful ill 
Wrought on him boldly, yet unspeakable, 

By a dear friend ; some deadly change in love 
Of one vowed deeply which he dreamed not of ; 

For whose sake he, it seemed, had fixed a blot 
Of falsehood in his mind, which flourished not 
But in the light of all-beholding truth ; 

And having stamped this canker on his youth, 

She had abandoned him : — and how much more 
Might be his woe, we guessed not : — he had store 
Of friends and fortune once, as we could guess 
From his nice habits and his gentleness : 

These now were lost — it were a grief indeed 
If he had changed one unsustaining reed 
For all that such a man might else adorn. 

The colours of his mind seemed yet unworn ; 

For the wild language of his grief was high — 

Such as in measure were called poetry. 

And I remember one remark, which then 
Maddalo made : he said — “ Most wretched men 


VOL. II. 


338 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


Are cradled into poetry by wrong : 

They learn in suffering what they teach in song.” 

If I had been an unconnected man, 

I, from the moment, should have formed some plan 
Never to leave sweet Venice : for to me 
It was delight to ride by the lone sea : 

And then the town is silent — one may write 
Or read in gondolas, by day or night, 

Having the little brazen lamp alight. 

Unseen, uninterrupted : — books are there. 

Pictures, and casts from all those statues fair 
Which were twin-born with poetry ! — and all 
We seek in towns, with little to recall 
Kegret for the green country : — •! might sit 
In Maddalo’s great palace, and his wit 
And subtle talk would cheer the winter night. 

And make me know myself : — and the fire light 
Would flash upon our faces, till the day 
Might dawn, and make me wonder at my stay. 

But I had friends in London too. The chief 
Attraction here was that I sought relief 
From the deep tenderness that maniac wrought 
Within me — ’twas perhaps an idle thought. 

But I imagined that if, day by day, 

I watched him, and seldom w^ent away, 

And studied all the beatings of his heart 
With zeal, as men study some stubborn art 
For their own good, and could by patience find 
An entrance to the caverns of his mind, 

I might reclaim him from his dark estate. 

In friendships I had been most fortunate. 

Yet never saw I one whom I would call 
More willingly my friend : — and this was all 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


389 


Accomplished not ; — such dreams of baseless good 
Oft come and go, in crowds or solitude, 

And leave no trace ! — but what I now designed 
Made, for long years, impression on my mind. 

The following morning, urged by my affairs, 

I left bright Venice. 


After many years. 

And many changes, I returned : the name 
Of Venice, and its aspect, was the same ; 

But Maddalo was travelling, far away. 

Among the mountains of Armenia. 

His dog was dead : his child had now become 
A woman, such as it has been my doom 
To meet with few ; a^wonder of this earth. 

Where there is little of transcendent worth, — 

Like one of Shakspeare’s women. Kindly she. 

And with a manner beyond courtesy, 

Eeceived her father’s friend ; and, when I asked. 

Of the lorn maniac, she her memory tasked. 

And told, as she had heard, the mournful tale : 

“ That the poor sufferer’s health began to fail 
Two years from my departure : but that then 
The lady, who had left him, came again ; 

Her mien had been imperious, but she now 
Looked meek ; perhaps remorse had brought her low. 
Her coming made him better ; and they stayed 
Together at my father’s, — for I played. 

As I remember, with the lady’s shawl ; 

I might be six years old : — But, after all, 

She left him.” — 


“Why, her heart must have been tough 


How did it end ? 


340 


JULIAN AND MADDALO. 


“ And was not this enough ? 

They met, they parted.” 

“ Child, is there no more?” 

“ Something within that interval which bore 
The stamp of why they parted, how they met 
Yet, if thine aged eyes disdain to wet 
Those wrinkled cheeks with youth’s remembered tears. 
Ask me no more ; hut let the silent years 
Be closed and cered over their memory. 

As yon mute marble where their corpses lie.” 

I urged and questioned still : she told me how 
All happened — but the cold world shall not know. 


341 


THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE. 

A WOODMAN, whose rough heart was out of tune 
(I think such hearts yet never came to good), 

Hated to hear, under the stars or moon, 

• 

One nightingale in an interfluous wood 
Satiate the hungry dark with melody ; — 

And, as a vale is watered by a flood. 

Or as the moonlight Alls the open sky 
Struggling with darkness — as a tuberose 
Peoples some Indian dell with scents which lie 

Like clouds above the flower from which they rose. 
The singing of that happy nightingale 
In this sweet forest, from the golden close 

Of evening till the star of dawn may fail. 

Was interfused upon the silentness ; 

The folded roses and the violets pale 

Heard her within their slumbers, the abyss 
Of heaven with all its planets ; the dull ear 
Of the night-cradled earth ; the loneliness 


34*2 THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE. 

Of the circumfluous waters, — every sphere 
And every flower and beam and cloud and wave, 

And every wind of the mute atmosphere. 

And every beast stretched in its rugged cave, 

And every bird lulled on its mossy bough. 

And every silver moth, fresh from the grave. 

Which is its cradle — ever from below 
Asphing like one who loves too fair, too far, 

To be consumed within the purest glow 

Of one serene and unapproached star. 

As if it were a lamp of eaithly light. 

Unconscious as some human lovers are, 

Itself how low, how high, beyond all height 

The heaven where it would perish ! — and every form 

That worshipped in the temple of the night 

Was awed into delight, and by the charm 
Girt as with an interminable zone, 

Whilst that sweet bird, whose music was a storm 

Of sound, shook forth the dull oblivion 
Out of their dreams ; harmony became love 
In every soul but one. . . . 


And so this man returned with axe and saw 
At evening close from killing the tall treen. 
The soul of whom by nature’s gentle law 

Was each a wood-nymph, and kept ever green 
The pavement and the roof of the wild copse, 
Chequering the sunlight of the blue serene 


THE WOODMAN AND THE NIGHTINGALE. 343 

With jagged leaves, — and from the forest tops 
Singing the winds to sleep — or weeping oft 
Fast showers of aerial water drops 

Into their mother’s bosom, sweet and soft, 

Nature’s pure tears which have no bitterness ; — 
Around the cradles of the birds aloft 

They spread themselves into the loveliness 

Of fan-like leaves, and over pallid flowers 

Hang like moist clouds : or, where high branches kiss. 

Make a green space among the silent bowers. 

Like a vast fane in a metropolis, 

Surrounded by the columns and the towers 

All overwrought with branch-like traceries 
In which there is religion — and the mute 
Persuasion of unkindled melodies, 

Odours and gleams and murmurs, which the lute 
Of the blind pilot-spirit of the blast 
Stirs as it sails, now grave and now acute. 

Wakening the leaves and waves ere it has past 
To such brief unison as on the brain 
One tone, which never can recur, has cast, 


One accent never to return again. 


344 


MISERY.— A FRAGMENT. 

Come, be happy ! — sit near me, 
Shadow- vested Misery : 

Coy, unmlling, silent bride. 
Mourning in thy robe of pride. 
Desolation — deified ! 

Come, be happy ! — sit near me : 

Sad as I may seem to thee, 

I am happier far than thou. 

Lady, whose imperial brow 
Is endiademed with woe. 

Misery ! we have known each other, 
Like a sister and a brother 
Living in the same lone home. 
Many years — we must live some 
Hours or ages yet to come. 

’Tis an evil lot, and yet 
Let us make the best of it ; 

If love can live when pleasure dies. 
We two will love, till in our eyes 
This heart’s Hell seem Paradise. 

Come, be happy ! — lie thee down 
On the fresh grass newly mown. 
Where the grasshopper doth sing 
Merrily — one joyous thing 
In a world of sorrowing ! 


MISERY. A FRAGMENT. 


345 


There our tent shall he the willow, 

And mine arm shall be thy pillow ; 

Soimds and odours, sorrowful 
Because they once were sweet, shall lull 
Us to slumber deep and dull. 

Ha ! thy frozen pulses flutter 
With a love thou dar’st not utter. 

Thou art murmuring — thou art weeping — 

Is thine icy bosom leaping 

While my burning heart lies sleeping ? 

Kiss me ; — oh ! thy lips are cold ; 

Bound my neck thine arms enfold — 

They are soft, but chill and dead ; 

And thy tears upon my head 
Bum like points of frozen lead. 

Hasten to the bridal bed— 

Underneath the grave ’tis spread : 

In darkness may our love be hid. 

Oblivion be our coverlid — 

We may rest, and none forbid. 

Clasp me, till our hearts be grown 
Like two shadows into one ; 

Till this dreadful transport may 
Like a vapour fade away 
In the sleep that lasts alway. 

We may dream in that long sleep. 

That we are not those who weep ; 

Even as Pleasure dreams of thee. 
Life-deserting Misery, 

Thou mayest dream of her with me. 


346 


TO MARY 


Let US laugh, and make our mirth, 

At the shadows of the earth. 

As dogs hay the moonlight clouds, 
Which, like spectres wrapt in shrouds. 
Pass o’er night in multitudes. 

All the wide world, beside us 
Show hke multitudinous 
Puppets passing from a scene ; 

What but mockery can they mean. 
Where I am — where thou hast been ? 


TO MARY . 


0 Mary dear, that you were here 
With your brown eyes bright and clear, 
And your sweet voice, like a bird 
Singing love to its lone mate 

In the ivy bower disconsolate ; 

Voice the sweetest ever heard ! 

And your brow more ^ * 

Than the ^ ^ sky 
Of this azure Italy. 

Mary dear, come to me soon, 

1 am not well whilst thou art far ; 

As sunset to the sphered moon. 

As twilight to the western star. 

Thou, beloved, art to me. 

O Mary dear, that you were here ! 

The Castle echo whispers “ Here I ” 


Este, September, 1818. 


347 


PASSAGE OF THE APENNINES. 

Listen, listen, Mary mine, 

To the whisper of the Apennine, 

It bursts on the roof like the thunder’s roar. 

Or like the sea on a northern shore, 

Heard in its raging ebb and flow 
By the captives pent in the cave below. 

The Apennine in the light of day 
Is a mighty mountain dim and grey. 

Which between the earth and sky doth lay; 

But when night comes, a chaos dread 
On the dim starlight then is spread, 

And the Apennine walks abroad with the storm. 


ON A FADED VIOLET. 

The colour from the flower is gone. 

Which like thy sweet eyes smiled on me ; 
The odour from the flower is flown. 

Which breathed of thee and only thee ! 

A withered, lifeless, vacant form. 

It lies on my abandoned breast. 

And mocks the heart which yet is warm 
With cold and silent rest. 

I weep — my tears revive it not. 

I sigh — it breathes no more on me ; 

Its mute and uncomplaining lot 
Is such as mine should be. 


348 


STANZAS, 

WRITTEN IN DEJECTION, NEAR NAPLES. 

The sun is warm, the sky is clear, 

The waves are dancing fast and bright, 

Blue isles and snowy mountains wear 
The purple noon’s transparent light : 

The breath of the moist air is light, 

Around its unexpanded buds ; 

Like many a voice of one delight, 

The winds, the birds, the ocean floods. 

The City’s voice itself is soft like Solitude’s 

I see the Deep’s untrampled floor 

With green and purple sea- weeds strown ; 

I see the waves upon the shore, 

Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown : 

I sit upon the sands alone. 

The lightning of the noon-tide ocean 
Is flashing round me, and a tone 
Arises from its measured motion. 

How sweet ! did any heart now share in my emotion. 

Alas ! I have nor hope nor health. 

Nor peace within nor calm around. 

Nor that content surpassing wealth 
The sage in meditation found. 

And walked with inward glory crowned — 

Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure. 
Others I see whom these surround — 


SONG FOR TASSO. 


349 


Smiling they live, and call life pleasure ; — 

To me that cup has been dealt in another measure. 

Yet now despair itself is mild, 

Even as the winds and waters are ; 

I could lie down like a tired child, 

And weep away the life of care 
Which I have borne, and yet must bear. 

Till death like sleep might steal on me, 

And I might feel in the warm air 

My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea 
Breathe o’er my dying brain its last monotony. 

Some might lament that I were cold. 

As I when this sweet day is gone. 

Which my lost heart, too soon grown old, 

Insults with this untimely moan ; 

They might lament — for I am one 
Whom men love not, — and yet regret. 

Unlike this day, which, when the sun 
Shall on its stainless glory set, 

Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet. 


SONG FOR TASSO. 


I loved — alas ! our life is love ; 

But when we cease to breathe and move, 
I do suppose love ceases too. 

I thought, but not as now I do. 

Keen thoughts and bright of linked lore, 
Of all that men had thought before, 

And all that Nature shows, and more 


350 


THE PAST. 


And still I love, and still I think, 

But strangely, for my heart can drink 
The dregs of such despair, and live. 

And love ; 

And if I think, my thoughts come fast ; 

I mix the present with the past. 

And each seems uglier than the last. 

Sometimes I see before me flee 
A silver spirit’s form, like thee, 

0 Leonora, and I sit 
[ ] still watching it. 

Till by the grated casement’s ledge 
It fades, with such a sigh, as sedge 
Breathes o’er the breezy streamlet’s edge. 


THE PAST. 

Wilt thou forget the happy hours 
Which we buried in Love’s sweet bowers. 
Heaping over their corpses cold 
Blossoms and leaves instead of mould ? 
Blossoms which were the joys that fell, 

And leaves, the hopes that yet remain. 

Forget the dead, the past ? 0 yet 

There are ghosts that may take revenge for it ; 

Memories that make the heart a tomb, 

Eegrets which glide through the spirit’s gloom, 
And with ghastly whispers tell 
That joy, once lost, is pain. 


351 


MAZENGHI ^ 

0 ! FOSTER-NURSE of man’s abandoned glory 
Since Athens, its great mother, sunk in splendour, 
Thou shadowest forth that mighty shape in story. 

As Ocean its wrecked fanes, severe yet tender : 

The light invested angel Poesy 

Was drawn from the dim world to welcome thee. 

And thou in painting didst transcribe all taught 

By loftiest meditations ; marble knew 

The sculptor’s fearless soul — and, as he wrought. 

The grace of his own power and freedom grew. 

And more than all, heroic, just, sublime. 

Thou wert among the false — was this thy crime ? 

Yes ; and on Pisa’s marble walls the twine 
Of direst weeds hangs garlanded — the snake 
Inhabits its wrecked palaces ; — in thine 
A beast of subtler venom now doth make 
Its lair, and sits amid their glories overthrown. 

And thus thy victim’s fate is as thine own. 

The sweetest flowers are ever frail and rare, 

And love and freedom blossom but to wither ; 

And good and ill like vines entangled are. 

So that their grapes may oft be plucked together ; 
Divide the vintage ere thou drink, then make 
Thy heart rejoice for dead Mazenghi’s sake. 

* This fragment refers to an event, told in Sismondi’s Histoire des Re- 
publiques Italiennes, which occurred during the war when Florence 
finally subdued Pisa, and reduced it to a province. The opening stanzas 
are addressed to the conquering city. — MS. 


352 


MAZENGHI. 


No record of his crime remains in story, 

But if the morning bright as evening shone, 

It was some high and holy deed, by glory 
Pursued into forgetfulness, which won 
From the blind crowd he made secure and free 
The Patriot’s meed, toil, death, and infamy. 

For when by sound of trumpet was declared 
A price upon his life, and there was set 
A penalty of blood on all who shared 
So much of water with him as might wet 
His lips, which speech divided not — he went 
Alone, as you may guess, to banishment. 

Amid the mountains, like a hunted beast. 

He hid himself, and hunger, toil, and cold, 

Month after month endured ; it was a feast 
Whene’er he found those globes of deep red gold 
Which in the woods the strawberry-tree doth bear, 
Suspended in their emerald atmosphere. 

And in the roofless huts of vast morasses. 

Deserted by the fever-stricken serf. 

All overgrown with reeds and long rank grasses, 
And hillocks heaped of moss-inwoven turf. 

And where the huge and speckled aloe made, 
Booted in stones, a broad and pointed shade. 

He housed himself. There is a point of strand 
Near Vada’s tower and town ; and on one side 
The treacherous marsh divides it from the land. 
Shadowed by pine and ilex forests wide ; 

And on the other creeps eternally. 

Through muddy weeds, the shallow sullen sea. 


Naples, 1818. 


353 


SONNET. 

Lift not the painted veil which those who live 
Call Life ; though unreal shapes be pictured there, 
And it but mimic all we would believe 
With colours idly spread, — behind, Im'k Fear 
And Hope, twin Destinies ; who ever weave 
Their shadows, o’er the chasm, sightless and drear. 

I knew one who had lifted it — he sought, 

For his lost heart was tender, things to love, 

But found them not, alas ! nor was there aught 
The world contains, the which he could approve. 
Through the unheeding many he did move, 

A splendour among shadows, a bright blot 
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove 
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not. 


VOL. II. 


A A 


NOTE ON THE POEMS OF 1818 . 

BY THE EDITOR. 

Rosalind and Helen was begun at Marlow, and thrown 
aside — till I found it ; and, at my request, it was completed. 
Shelley had no care for any of his poems that did not emanate 
from the depths of his mind, and develop some high or 
abstruse truth. When he does touch on human life and the 
human heart, no pictures can be more faithful, more delicate, 
more subtle, or more pathetic. He never mentioned Love, 
but he shed a grace, borrowed from his own nature, that 
scarcely any other poet has bestowed, on that passion. When 
he spoke of it as the law of life, which inasmuch as we rebel 
against, we err and injure ourselves and others, he promulgated 
that which he considered an irrefragable truth. In his eyes 
it was the essence of our being, and all w’oe and pain arose 
from the war made against it by selfishness, or insensibility, 
or mistake. By reverting in his mind to this first principle, 
he discovered the source of many emotions, and could disclose 
the secret of all hearts, and his delineations of passion and 
emotion touch the finest chords of our nature. 

Rosalind and Helen was finished during the summer of 
1818, while we were at the Baths of Lucca. Thence Shelley 
visited Venice, and circumstances rendering it eligible that 


EDITOE’S NOTE ON POEMS OF 1818. 355 

we should remain a few weeks in the neighbourhood of that 
city, he accepted the offer of Lord Byron, who lent him the 
use of a villa he rented near Este ; and he sent for his family 
from Lucca to join him. 

I Capuccini was a villa built on the site of a Capuchin 
convent, demolished when the French suppressed religious 
houses ; it was situated on the very over-hanging brow of a 
low hill at the foot of a range of higher ones. The house 
was cheerful and pleasant ; a vine-trellised walk, a Pergola, 
as it is called in Italian, led from the hall door to a summer- 
house at the end of the garden, which Shelley made his study, 
and in which he began the Prometheus ; and here also, as 
he mentions in a letter, he wrote Julian and Maddalo ; a 
slight ravine, with a road in its depth, divided the garden 
from the hill, on which stood the ruins of the ancient castle 
of Este, whose dark massive wall gave forth an echo, and 
from whose ruined crevices, owls and bats flitted forth at 
night, as the crescent moon sunk behind the black and heavy 
battlements. We looked from the garden over the wide 
plain of Lombardy, bounded to the west by the far Apennines, 
while to the east, the horizon was lost in misty distance. 
After the picturesque but limited view of mountain, ravine, 
and chesnut wood at the Baths of Lucca, there was some- 
thing infinitely gratifying to the eye in the wide range of 
prospect commanded by our new abode. 

Our first misfortune, of the kind from which we soon 
suffered even more severely, happened here. Our little girl, 
an infant in whose small features I fancied that I traced 
great resemblance to her father, showed symptoms of 
suffering from the heat of the climate. Teething increased 
her illness and danger. We were at Este, and when we 
A A 2 


S56 .editok’s note on poems of isis. 

became alarmed, hastened to Venice for the best advice. 
When we arrived at Fusina, we found that we had forgotten 
our passport, and the soldiers on duty attempted to prevent 
our crossing the laguna ; but they could not resist Shelley’s 
impetuosity at such a moment. We had scarcely arrived at 
Venice, before life fled from the little sufferer, and we 
returned to Este to weep her loss. 

After a few weeks spent in this retreat, which were 
interspersed by visits to Venice, we proceeded southward. 
We often hear of persons disappointed by a first visit to 
Italy. This was not Shelley’s case — the aspect of its nature, 
its sunny sky, its majestic storms ; of the luxuriant vegetation 
of the country, and the noble marble-built cities, enchanted 
him. The sight of the works of art were full enjoyment and 
wonder ; he had not studied pictures or statues before, he now 
did so with the eye of taste, that referred not to the rules of 
schools, but to those of nature and truth. The first entrance 
to Rome opened to him a scene of remains of antique grandeur 
that far surpassed his expectations ; and the unspeakable 
beauty of Naples and its environs added to the impression 
he received of the transcendant and glorious beauty of Italy. 
As I have said, he wrote long letters during the first year of 
our residence in this country, and these, when published, will 
be the best testimonials of his appreciation of the harmonious 
and beautiful in art and nature, and his delicate taste in 
discerning and describing them*. 

Our winter was spent at Naples. Here he wrote the 
fragments of Mazenghi and the Woodman and the Nightingale, 

* These letters, together with various essays, translations, and fragments, 
being the greater portion of the prose writings left by Shelley, are now in 
the press —ilf. S. 


EDITOK’s note on poems of 1818. 


357 


which he afterwards threw aside. At this time Shelley 
suffered greatly in health. He put himself under the care of 
a medical man, who promised great things, and made him 
endure severe bodily pain, without any good results. Constant 
and poignant physical suffering exhausted him ; and though 
he preserved the appearance of cheerfulness, and often greatly 
enjoyed our wanderings in the environs of Naples, and our 
excursions on its sunny sea, yet many hours were passed 
when his thoughts, shadowed by illness, became gloomy, and 
then he escaped to solitude, and in verses, which he hid 
from fear of wounding me, poured forth morbid but too 
natural bursts of discontent and sadness. One looks back 
with unspeakable regret and gnawing remorse to such 
periods ; fancying that had one been more alive to the nature 
of his feelings, and more attentive to soothe them, such 
would not have existed — and yet enjoying, as he appeared to 
do, every sight or influence of earth or sky, it was difficult to 
imagine that any melancholy he showed was aught but the 
effect of the constant pain to which he was a martyr. 

We lived in utter solitude — and such is often not the nurse 
of cheerfulness ; for then, at least with those who have been 
exposed to adversity, the mind broods over its sorrows too 
intently ; while the society of the enlightened, the witty, and 
the wise, enables us to forget ourselves by making us the 
sharers of the thoughts of others, which is a portion of the 
philosophy of happiness. Shelley never liked society in 
numbers, it harassed and wearied him ; but neither did he 
like loneliness, and usually when alone sheltered himself 
against memory and reflection, in a book. But with one or 
two whom he loved, he gave way to wild and joyous spirits, 
or in more serious conversation expounded his opinions with 


358 editor’s note on poems of isis. 

vivacity and eloquence. If an argument arose, no man ever 
argued better — he was clear, logical, and earnest, in supporting 
his own views ; attentive, patient, and impartial, while 
listening to these on the adverse side. Had not a wall of 
prejudice been raised at this time between him and his 
countrymen, how many would have sought the acquaintance 
of one, whom to know was to love and to revere ! how many 
of the more enlightened of his contemporaries have since 
regretted that they did not seek him ! how very few knew 
his worth while he lived, and of those few, several were with- 
held by timidity or envy from declaring their sense of it. 
But no man was ever more enthusiastically loved — more 
looked up to as one superior to his fellows in intellectual 
endowments and moral worth, by the few who knew him 
well, and had sufficient nobleness of soul to appreciate his 
superiority. His excellence is now acknowledged ; but even 
while admitted, not duly appreciated. For who, except 
those who were acquainted with him, can imagine his 
unwearied benevolence, his generosity, his systematic for- 
bearance ? And still less is his vast superiority in intellec- 
tual attainments sufficiently understood — his sagacity, his 
clear understanding, his learning, his prodigious memory ; all 
these, as displayed in conversation, were known to few while 
he lived, and are now silent in the tomb : 


Ahi orbomondo ingrato, 

Gran cagion hai di dever pianger meco. 

Che quel ben ch’ era in te, perdut’ hai seco. 


POEMS WRITTEN IN 1819. 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


As I lay asleep in Italy, 

There came a voice from over the sea, 
And with great power it forth led me 
To w^alk in the visions of Poesy. 


I met Murder on the way — 

He had a mask like Castlereagh— 
Very smooth he looked, yet grim; 
Seven bloodhounds followed him : 


III. 

All were fat ; and well they might 
Be in admirable plight. 

For one by one, and two by two. 

He tossed them human hearts to chew. 
Which from his wide cloak he drew. 


360 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


IV. 

Next came Fraud, and he had on, 

Like Lord E , an ermine gown ; 

His big tears, for he w^ept well. 
Turned to mill-stones as they fell ; 


And the little children, who 
Round his feet played to and fro. 
Thinking every tear a gem, 

Had their brains knocked out by them. 


VI. 

Clothed with the bible as with light. 
And the shadow of the night, 

Like S*** next. Hypocrisy, 

On a crocodile came by. 


VII. 

And many more Destructions played 
In this ghastly masquerade. 

All disguised, even to the eyes, 

Like bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies. 


VIII. 

Last came Anarchy ; he rode 

On a white horse splashed with blood ; 

He was pale even to the lips. 

Like Death in the Apocalj^se. 


IX. 

And he wore a kingly crown ; 

In his hand a sceptre shone ; 

On his brow this mark I saw — 

“ I am God, and King, and Law ! ” 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


361 


X. 

With a pace stately and fast, 

Over English land he past, 

Trampling to a mire of blood 
The adoring multitude. 

XI. 

And a mighty troop around, 

With their trampling shook the ground. 
Waving each a bloody sword. 

For the service of their Lord. 


XII. 

And, with glorious triumph, they 
Eode through England, proud and gay. 
Drunk as with intoxication 
Of the wine of desolation. 


XIII. 

O’er fields and towns, from sea to sea, 
Passed the pageant swift and free, 
Tearing up, and trampling down. 

Till they came to London town. 


XIV. 

And each dweller, panic-stricken, 
Felt his heart with terror sicken. 
Hearing the tremendous cry 
Of the triumph of Anarchy. 


XV. 

For with pomp to meet him came. 
Clothed in arms like blood and flame. 
The hired murderers who did sing, 

“ Thou art God, and Law, and King. 


302 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


XVI. 

“ We have waited, weak and lone, 

For thy coming. Mighty One ! 

Our purses are empty, our swords are cold. 
Give us glory, and blood, and gold.” 


XVII. 

Lawyers and priests, a motley crowd. 

To the earth their pale brows bowed. 

Like a bad prayer not over loud. 
Whispering — “ Thou art Law and God * ” 


XVIII. 

Then all cried wth one accord, 

“ Thou art King, and Law, and Lord ; 
Anarchy, to thee we bow. 

Be thy name made holy now ! ” 


XIX, 

And Anarchy, the skeleton. 

Bowed and grinned to every one, 

As well as if his education 

Had cost ten millions to the nation. 

XX. 

For he knew the palaces 
Of our kings were nightly his ; 

His the sceptre, crown, and globe. 
And the gold-inwoven robe. 


XXI. 

So he sent his slaves before 
To seize upon the Bank and Tower, 
And was proceeding with intent 
To meet his pensioned parliament. 


THE MASQUE OF ANAKCHY 


363 


XXII. 

When one fled past, a maniac maid, 
And her name was Hope, she said : 
But she looked more like Despair ; 
And she cried out in the air : 

XXIII. 

“ My father. Time is weak and grey 
With waiting for a better day ; 

See how idiot-like he stands, 
Trembling with his palsied hands ! 

XXIV. 

“ He has had child after child. 

And the dust of death is piled 
Over every one but me — 

Misery ! oh. Misery ! ” 


XXV. 

Then she lay down in the street. 
Plight before the horses’ feet. 
Expecting with a patient eye. 
Murder, Fraud, and Anarchy. 


XXVI. 

When between her and her foes 
A mist, a light, an image rose. 
Small at first, and weak and frail 
Like the vapour of the vale ; 


XXVII. 

Till as clouds grow on the blast. 

Like tower-crowned giants striding fast. 
And glare with lightnings as they fly. 
And speak in thunder to the sky. 


364 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


XXVIII. 

It grew — a shape arrayed in mail 
Brighter than the viper’s scale, 

And upborne on wings whose grain 
Was like the light of sunny rain. 

XXIX. 

On its helm, seen far away, 

A planet, like the morning’s, lay ; 

And those plumes it light rained through. 
Like a shower of crimson dew. 

XXX. 

With step as soft as wind it passed 
O’er the heads of men — so fast 
That they knew the presence there. 

And looked — and all was empty air. 

XXXI. 

As flowers beneath May’s footsteps waken. 
As stars from night’s loose hair are shaken. 
As waves arise when loud winds call. 
Thoughts sprung where’er that step did fall. 

XXXII. 

And the prostrate multitude 
Looked — and ankle-deep in blood, 

Hope, that maiden most serene, 

Was walking with a quiet mien : 

XXXIII. 

And Anarchy, the ghastly birth, 

Lay dead earth upon the earth ; 

The Horse of Death, tameless as wind. 
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind 
To dust the murderers thronged behind. 


THE MASQUE OF ANAKCHY. 


S65 


XXXIV. 

A rushing light of clouds and splendour, 
A sense, awakening and yet tender. 

Was heard and felt — and at its close 
These words of joy and fear arose : 

XXXV. 

As if their own indignant earth. 

Which gave the sons of England birth. 
Had felt their blood upon her brow. 

And shuddering with a mother’s throe, 

XXXVI. 

Had turned every drop of blood. 

By which her face had been bedewed, 

To an accent un withstood. 

As if her heart had cried aloud : 

XXXVII. 

“ Men of England, Heirs of Glory, 
Heroes of unv/ritten story. 

Nurslings of one mighty mother, 

Hopes of her, and one another ! 

XXXVIII. 

“ Rise, like lions after slumber. 

In unvanquishahle number. 

Shake your chains to earth like dew. 
Which in sleep had fall’n on you. 

Ye are many, they are few. 

XXXIX. 

“ What is Freedom ? Ye can tell 
That which Slavery is too well. 

For its very name has grown 
To an echo of your own. 


366 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY 


XL. 

“ ’Tis to work, and have such pay 
As just keeps life from day to day 
In your limbs as in a cell 
For the tyrants’ use to dwell : 

XLI. 

So that ye for them are made, 

Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade ; 
With or without your own will, bent 
To their defence and nomishment. 


XLII. 

“ ’Tis to see your children weak 
With their mothers pine and peak. 
When the vinter winds are bleak : — 
They are dying whilst I speak. 

XLIII. 

“ ’Tis to hunger for such diet, 

As the rich man in his riot 
Casts to the fat dogs that lie 
Surfeiting beneath his eye. 

XLIV. 

“ ’Tis to let the Ghost of Gold 
Take from toil a thousand-fold 
More than e’er his substance could 
In the tyrannies of old : 

XLV. 

“ Paper coin — that forgery 
Of the title deeds, which ye 
Hold to something of the worth 
Of the inheritance of Earth. 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY 


3G 


XLVI. 

“ 'Tis to be a slave in soul, 

And to hold no strong controul 
Over your own wills, but be 
All that others make of ye. 

XLVII. 

“ And at length when ye complain. 

With a murmur weak and vain, 

’Tis to see the tyrant’s crew 
Ride over your wives and you : — 

Blood is on the grass like dew ! 

XLVTII. 

“ Then it is to feel revenge. 

Fiercely thirsting to exchange 
Blood for blood — and wrong for wrong : 
Do not thus when ye are strong ! 

XLIX. 

“ Birds find rest in narrow nest. 

When weary of their winged quest ; 
Beasts find fare in woody lair. 

When storm and snow are in the air. 


L. 

‘‘ Horses, oxen, have a home. 

When from daily toil they come ; 
Household dogs, when the wind roars. 
Find a home within warm doors. 


LI. 

‘ Asses, swine, have litter spread, 
And with fitting food are fed ; 

All things have a home but one : 
Thou, 0 Englishman, hast none ! 


368 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


LII. 

“ This is slavery — savage men, 

Or wild beasts within a den, 

Would endure not as ye do : 

But such ills they never knew. 

LIII. 

“ What art thou. Freedom ? Oh ! could slaves 
Answer from their living graves 
This demand, tyrants would flee 
Like a dream’s dim imagery. 

LIV. 

“ Thou art not, as impostors say, 

A shadow soon to pass away, 

A superstition, and a name 
Echoing from the cave of Fame. 

i-v. 

“For the laboui’er thou art bread 
And a comely table spread. 

From his daily labour come. 

In a neat and happy home. 

LVI. 

“ Thou art clothes, and fire, and food 
For the trampled multitude : 

No — ^in countries that are free 
Such starvation cannot be. 

As in England now we see. 


LVII. 

“ To the rich thou art a check : 
When his foot is on the neck 
Of his 'sdctim, thou dost make 
That he treads upon a snake. 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


3G9 


LVIII. 

“ Thou art Justice — ne’er for gold 
May thy righteous laws he sold, 

As laws are in England : — thou 
Shieldest alike the high and low. 

LIX. 

“ Thou art Wisdom — freemen never 
Dream that God will doom for ever 
All who think those things untrue, 
Of which priests make such ado. 


“ Thou art Peace— never by thee 
Would blood and treasure wasted be. 

As tyrants wasted them, when all 
Leagued to quench thy flame in Gaul. 

LXI. 

What if English toil and blood 
Was poured forth, even as a flood ? 

It availed, — 0 Liberty ! 

To dim — but not extinguish thee. 

LXII. 

“ Thou art Love — the rich have kist 
Thy feet ; and like him following Christ, 
Given their substance to the free. 

And through the rough world followed thee. 

LX II I. 

“Oh turn their wealth to arms, and make 
War for thy beloved sake. 

On wealth and war and fraud ; whence they 
Drew the power which is their prey. 

VOL. II. B B 


370 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


LXIV. 

“ Science, and Poetry, and Thought, 

Are thy lamps ; they make the lot 

Of the dwellers in a cot 

Such, they curse their maker not. 

LXV. 

“ Spirit, Patience, Gentleness, 

All that can adorn and bless. 

Art thou : let deeds, not words, express 
Thine exceeding loveliness. 

LXVI. 

“ Let a great assembly be 
Of the fearless and the free. 

On some spot of English ground. 

Where the plains stretch wide around. 

LXVII. 

“ Let the blue sky overhead. 

The green earth on which ye tread, 

All that must eternal be. 

Witness the solemnity. 

LXVIII. 

“ From the corners uttermost 
Of the bounds of English coast ; 

From every hut, village, and town. 
Where those who live and suffer, moan 
For others’ misery, or their own; 

LXIX. 

“ From the workhouse and the prison, 
Where pale as corpses newly risen. 
Women, children, young, and old, 

Groan for pain, and weep for cold ; 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


871 


LXX. 

“ From the haunts of daily life, 

Where is waged the daily strife 
With common wants and common cares, 
Which sow the human heart with tares. 

LXXI. 

“ Lastly, from the palaces. 

Where the murmur of distress 
Echoes, like the distant sound 
Of a wind, alive around ; 

LXXII. 

“ Those prison-halls of wealth and fashion, 
Where some few feel such compassion 
For those who groan, and toil, and wail. 
As must make their brethren pale ; 

LXXIII. 

“ Ye who suffer woes untold, 

Or to feel, or to behold 

Your lost country bought and sold 

With a price of blood and gold. 

LXXIV. 

“ Let a vast assembly be. 

And with great solemnity 

Declare with ne’er said words, that ye 

Are, as God has made ye, free. 

LXXV. 

“Be your strong and simple words 
Keen to wound as sharpened swords, 

And wide as targes let them be, 

With their shade to cover ye. 

B B 2 


372 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


LXXVI. 

“ Let the tyrants pour around 
With a quick and startling sound, 

Like the loosening of a sea, 

Troops of armed emblazonry.^ 

LXXVII. 

“ Let the charged artillery drive. 

Till the dead air seems alive 
With the clash of clanging wheels, 
And the tramp of horses’ heels. 

LXXVIII. 

“Let the fixed bayonet 
Gleam with sharp desire to wet 
Its bright point in English blood, 
Looldng keen as one for food. 

LXXIX. 

■ Let the horsemen’s scimitars 
Wheel and flash, like sphereless stars. 
Thirsting to eclipse their burning 
In a sea of death and mourning. 

LXXX. 

“ Stand ye calm and resolute, 

Like a forest close and mute. 

With folded arms, and looks which are 
Weapons of an unvanquished war. 

LXXXI. 

“ And let Panic, who outspeeds 
The career of armed steeds. 

Pass, a disregarded shade, 

Through your phalanx undismayed. 


THE MASQUE OF ANARCHY. 


378 


LXXXII. 

‘ Let the laws of your own land, 

Good or ill, between ye stand, 

Hand to hand, and foot to foot. 

Arbiters of the dispute. 

LXXXIII. 

‘ The old laws of England — they 
Whose reverend heads with age are grey, 
Children of a wiser day ; 

And whose solemn voice must be 
Thine own echo — Liberty ! 

LXXXIV. 

‘ On those who first should violate 
Such sacred heralds in their state. 

Rest the blood that must ensue ; 

And it will not rest on you. 

LXXXV. 

‘ And if then the tyrants dare, 

Let them ride among you there ; 

Slash, and stab, and maim, and hew ; 
What they like, that let them do. 

LXXXVI. 

‘ With folded arms and steady eyes. 

And little fear, and less surprise. 

Look upon them as they slay, 

Till their rage has died away : 

LXXXVII. 

‘ Then they will return with shame. 

To the place from which they came. 

And the blood thus shed will speak 
In hot blushes on their cheek : 


374 


THE MASQUE OF ANAECHY. 


LXXXVIII. 

“ Every woman in the land 
Wni point at them as they stand — 
They will hardly dare to greet 
Their acquaintance in the street : 

LXXXIX. 

“ And the bold true wandors, 

Who have hugged danger in the wars, 
Will tmn to those who would be free, 
Ashamed of such base company : 


xc. 

“ And that slaughter to the natio 
Shall steam up like inspiration, 
Eloquent, oracular, 

A volcano heard afar : 

xci. 

“ And these words shall then become 
Like Oppression’s thundered doom. 
Ringing through each heart and brain, 
Heard again — again — again ! 

XCTI. 

“ Rise, like lions after slumber 
In imvanquishahle number ! 

Shake your chains to earth, like dev; 
Which in sleep had fallen on you : 

Ye are many — they are few ! ” 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 

BY 

MICHING MALLECHO, ESQ. 


Is it a party in a parlour, 

Crammed just as they on earth were crammed, 

Some sipping punch— some sipping tea, 

I’>ut, as you by their faces see, 

All silent, and all damned ! 

Peter Bell, hy W. Worj sworth. 


OPHELIA. — What means this, my lord ? 

HAMLET. — Many, this is Miching Mallecho ; it means mischief. 

Shakspeare. 


DEDICATION. 


TO THOMAS BROWN, ESQ., THE YOUNGER, H.F. 


Dear Tom, 

Allow me to request you to introduce Mr. 
Peter Bell to the respectable family of the Fudges ; although he 
may fall short of those very considerable personages in the more 
active properties which characterise the Rat and the Apostate, I 
suspect that even you, their historian, will confess that he sur- 
passes them in the more peculiarly legitimate qualification of 
intolerable dulness. 

You know Mr. Examiner Hunt ; well — it was he who pre- 
sented me to two of the Mr. Bells. My intimacy with the 
younger Mr. Bell naturally sprung from this introduction to his 
brothers. And in presenting him to you, I have the satisfaction 
of being able to assure you that he is considerably the dullest of 
the three. 

There is this particular advantage in an acquaintance with any 
one of the Peter Bells, that if you know one Peter Bell, you 
know three Peter Bells ; they are not one, but three ; not three, 
but one. An awful mystery, which, after having caused torrents 
of blood, and having been hymned by groans enough to deafen 
the music of the spheres, is at length illustrated to the satisfaction 
of all parties in the theological world, by the nature of Mr. Peter 
Bell. 

Peter is a polyhedric Peter, or a Peter with many sides. He 


PETEE BELL THE THIRD. 


changes colours like a cameleon, and his coat like a snake. He is 
a Proteus of a Peter. He was at first sublime, pathetic, impressive, 
profound ; then dull ; then prosy and dull ; and now dull— 0, 
so very dull ! it is an ultra-legitimate dulness. 

You will perceive that it is not necessary to consider Hell and 
the Devil as supernatural machinery. The whole scene of my 
epic is in this world which is” — So Peter informed us before 
his conversion to White Ohi 

The world of all of us, and tvhere 

Wejfind our happiness, or not at a.ll. 

Let me observe that I have spent six or seven days in composing 
this sublime piece ; the orb of my moonlight genius has made the 
fourth part of its revolution round the dull earth which you 
inhabit, driving you mad, while it has retained its calmness and 
its splendour, and I have been fitting this its last phase to 
occupy a permanent station in the literature of my country.” 

Y our works, indeed, dear Tom, sell better ; but mine are far 
superior. The public is no judge ; posterity sets all to rights. 

Allow me to observe that so much has been written of Peter 
Bell, that the present history can be considered only, like the 
Iliad, as a continuation of that series of cyclic poems, which have 
already been candidates for bestowing immortality upon, at the 
same time that they receive it from, his character and adventures. 
In this point of view, I have violated no rule of syntax in begin- 
ning my composition with a conjunction ; the full stop which 
closes the poem continued by me, being, like the full stops at the 
end of the Iliad and Odyssey, a full stop of a very qualified import. 

Hoping that the immortality which you have given to the 
Fudges, you will receive from them ; and in the firm expectation, 
that when London shall be an habitation of bitterns, when St. 
Paul’s and Westminster Abbey shall stand, shapeless and name- 
less ruins, in the midst of an unpeopled marsh ; when the piers of 
Waterloo-Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and 
osiers, and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the 
solitary stream, some transatlantic commentator will be weighing 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


378 

in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism, 
the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges, and their 
historians, | 

I remain, dear Tom, 

Yours sincerely, 

Miching Mallecho. 

December 1, 1819. 

P.S. — Pray excuse the date of place ; so soon as the profits 
of the pubhcation come in, I mean to hire Iddgings in a more 
respectable street. 


CONTENTS. 

Pkologue. 

Death. 

The Devil 
Hell. 


Sin. 

Grace. 

Damnation. 

Double Damnation. 


PROLOGUE. 


Petee Bells, one, two and three. 

O’er the wide world wandering be. — 
First, the antenatal Peter, 

Wrapt in weeds of the same metre. 

The so long predestined raiment 
Clothed, in which to walk his way meant 
The second Peter ; whose ambition 
Is to link the proposition. 

As the mean of two extremes — 

(This was learnt from Aldric’s themes) 
Shielding from the guilt of schism 
The orthodoxal syllogism ; 

The First Peter — he who was 
Like the shadow in the glass 
Of the second, yet unripe. 

His substantial antitype. — 

Then came Peter Bell the Second, 

Who henceforward must be reckoned 
The body of a double soul, 

And that portion of the whole 
Without which the rest would seem 
Ends of a disjointed dream. — 

And the Third is he who has 
O’er the grave been forced to pass 


380 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


To the Other side, which is, — 

Go and try else, — just like this. 

Peter Bell the First was Peter 
Smugger, milder, softer, neater. 

Like the soul before it is 
Bom from that world into this. 

The next Peter Bell was he. 

Predevote, like you and me. 

To good or evil as may come ; 

His was the severer doom, — 

For he was an evil Cotter, 

And a polygamic Potter.* 

And the last is Peter Bell, 

Damned since our first parents fell. 

Damned eternally to Hell — 

Sm’ely he deserves it well ! 

* The oldest scholiasts read— 

A dodecagamic Potter. 

This is at once more descriptive and more megalophonous,— but the alli- 
teration of the text had captivated the vulgar ear of the herd of later com- 
mentators. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


PART THE FIRST. 

DEATH. 

And Peter Bell, when he had been 
With fresh-imported Hell-lire warmed, 

Grew serious — from his dress and mien 
’Twas very plainly to be seen 
Peter was quite reformed. 

His eyes turned up, his mouth turned down ; 

His accent caught a nasal twang ; 

He oiled his hair,* there might be heard 
The grace of God in every word 
Which Peter said or sang. 

But Peter now grew old, and had 
An ill no doctor could unravel ; 

His torments almost drove him mad ; — 

Some said it was a fever bad — 

Some swore it was the gravel. 

* To those who have not duly appreciated the distinction between 
Whale and Russia oil, this attribute might rather seem to belong to the 
Dandy than the Evangelic. The effect, when to the windward, is indeed 
so similar, that it requires a subtle naturalist to discriminate the animals. 
They belong, however, to distinct genera. 


3&2 


PETEK BELL THE TRIED. 


His holy friends then came about, 

And with long preaching and persuasion, 
Conyinced the patient that, without 
The smallest shadow of a doubt, 

He was predestined to damnation 

They said — “ Thy name is Peter Bell ; 

Thy skin is of a brimstone hue ; 

Alive or dead — aye, sick or well — 

The one God made to rhyme with hell ; 

The other, I think, rhymes with you.'’ 

Then Peter set up such a yell ! — 

The nurse, who with some water gruel 
Was climbing up the stairs, as well 
As her old legs could climb them — fell 
And broke them both — ^the fall was cruel 

The Parson from the casement leapt 
Into the lake of Windermere — 

And many an eel — though no adept 
In God’s right reason for it — kept 
Gnawing his kidneys half a year. 

And all the rest mshed through the door. 
And tumbled over one another, 

And broke their skulls. — Upon the floor 
Meanwhile sat Peter Bell, and swore. 

And cursed his father and his mother ; 

And raved of God, and sin, and death. 
Blaspheming like an infidel ; 

And said, that with his clenched teeth. 

He’d seize the earth from underneath, 

And dmg it with him down to hell. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


383 


As he was speaking came a spasm, 

And wrenched his gnashing teeth asunder ; 
Like one who sees a strange phantasm 
He lay, — there was a silent chasm 
Betwixt his upper jaw and under. 

And yellow death lay on his face ; 

And a fixed smile that was not human 
Told, as I understand the case, 

That he was gone to the wrong place : — 

I heard all this from the old woman, 

Then there came down from Langdale Pike 
A cloud, with lightning, wind and hail ; 

It swept over the mountains like 
An ocean, — and I heard it strike 

The woods and crags of Grasmere vale. 

And I saw the black storm come 
Nearer, minute after minute ; 

Its thunder made the cataracts dumb ; 

With hiss, and clash, and hollow hum. 

It neared as if the Devil was in it. 

The Devil was in it : — he had bought 
Peter for halfia-crown ; and when 
The storm which bore him vanished, nought 
That in the house that storm had caught 
Was ever seen again. 

The gaping neighbours came next day — 

They found all vanished from the shore : 
The Bible, whence he used to pray. 

Half scorched under a hen-coop lay ; 

Smashed glass — and nothing more ! 


384 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


PART THE SECOND. 

THE DEVIL. 

The Devil, I safely can aver, 

Has neither hoof, nor tail, nor sting ; 

Nor is he, as some sages swear, 

A spirit, neither here nor there, 

In nothing — yet in everything. 

He is — what we are ; for sometimes 
The Devil is a gentleman ; 

At others a bard bartering rhymes 
For sack ; a statesman spinning crimes ; 

A swindler, living as he can ; 

A thief, who cometh in the night, 

With whole hoots and net pantaloons, 
Like some one whom it were not right 
To mention ; — or the luckless wight. 

From whom he steals nine silver spoons. 

But in this case he did appear 

Like a slop-merchant from Wapping, 
And with smug face, and eye severe. 

On every side did perk and peer 
Till he saw Peter dead or napping. 

He had on an upper Benjamin 
(For he was of the driving schism) 

In the wFich he wrapt his skin 
From the storm he travelled in. 

For fear of rheumatism. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


385 


He called the ghost out of the corse ; — 
It was exceedingly like Peter, — 
Only its voice was hollow and hoarse — 
It had a queerish look of course — 

Its dress too was. a little neater. 

The Devil knevv not his name and lot, 
Peter knew not that he was Bell : 
Each had an upper stream of thought. 
Which made all seem as it was not ; 
Fitting itself to all things well. 

Peter thought he had parents dear. 
Brothers, sisters, cousins, cronies, 

In the fens of Lincolnshire ; 

He perhaps had found them there 
Had he gone and boldly shown his 

Solemn phiz in his own village ; 

Where he thought oft when a boy 
He’d clomb the orchard walls to pillage 
The produce of his neighbour’s tillage. 
With marvellous pride and joy. 

And the Devil thought he had, 

’Mid the misery and confusion 
Of an unjust war, just made 
A fortune by the gainful trade 
Of giving soldiers rations bad — 

The world is full of strange delusion. 

That he had a mansion planned 
In a square like Grosvenor-sqaare, 
That he was aping fashion, and 
That he now came to Westmoreland 
To see what was romantic there, 
c c 


VOL. II. 


886 


PETEK BELL THE THIRD. 


And all this, though quite ideal, — 

Eeady at a breath to vanish, — 

Was a state not more unreal 
Than the peace he could not feel, 

Or the care he could not banish. 

After a little conversation, 

The Devil told Peter, if he chose. 

He ’d bring him to the world of fashion 
By giving him a situation 

In his own service — and new clothes. 

And Peter bowed, quite pleased and proud, 
And after waiting some few days 
For a new livery — dirty yellow 
Turned up with black — the wretched fellow 
Was bowled to Hell in the Devil’s chaise. 


PART THE THIRD. 

HELL. 

Hell is a city much like London — 

A populous and a smoky city ; 

There are all sorts of people undone, 

And there is little or no fun done ; 

Small justice shown, and still less pity 

There is a Castles, and a Canning, 

A Cobbett, and a Castlereagh ; 

All sorts of caitiff corpses planning, 

All sorts of cozening for trepanning 
Corpses less corrupt than they. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


387 


There is a * who has lost 

His wits, or sold them, none knows which ; 

He walks about a double ghost. 

And though as thin as Fraud almost — 

Ever grows more grim and rich. 

There is a Chancery Court ; a King ; 

A manufacturing mob ; a set 
Of thieves who by themselves are sent 
Similar thieves to represent ; 

An army ; and a public debt 

Which last is a scheme of paper money, 

And means — being interpreted — 

Bees, “ keep your wax — give us the honey. 

And we will plant, while skies are sunny, 
Flowers, which in winter serve instead.” 

There is great talk of revolution — 

And a great chance of despotism — 

German soldiers — camps — confusion — 

Tumults — lotteries — rage — delusion — 

Gin — suicide — and methodism. 

Taxes too, on wine and bread, 

And meat, and beer, and tea, and cheese, 
From which those patriots pure are fed. 

Who gorge before they reel to bed 
The tenfold essence of all these. 

There are mincing women, mewing, 

(Like cats, who amant miser 

* One of the attributes in Linnaeus’s description of the Cat. To a simi- 
lar cause the caterwauling of more than one species of this genus is to 
he referred ; — except, indeed, that the poor quadruped is compelled to 
quarrel with its own pleasuies, whilst the biped is supposed only to quarrel 
with those of others. 


c c 2 


388 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


Of their own virtue, and pursuing 
Their gentler sisters to that ruin, 
Without which — what were chastity.* 


Lawyers — -judges — old hobnobbers 
Are there — bailiffs — chancellors — 

Bishops — great and little robbers — 

Rhymesters — pamplileteers — stock-jobbers — 
Men of glory in the wars, — 

Things whose trade is, over ladies 

To lean, and flirt, and stare, and simper, 

Till all that is divine in woman 
Grows cruel, courteous, smooth, inhuman, 
Cmcified ’twixt a smile and whimper. 

Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling. 

Frowning, preaching — such a riot! 

Each with never-ceasing labour. 

Whilst he thinks he cheats his neighbour. 
Cheating his own heart of quiet. 

And all these meet at levees ; — 

Dinners convivial and political ; — 

Suppers of epic poets ; — teas. 

Where small talk dies in agonies ; — 

Breakfasts professional and critical ; 

Lunches and snacks so aldermanic 

That one would furnish forth ten dinners, 

* Wliat would this husk and excuse for a virtue be without its kernel 
prostitution, or the kernel prostitution without this husk of a virtue ? I 
wonder the women of the town do not form an association, like the Society 
for the Suppression of Vice, for the support of what may be called the 
“ King, Church, and Constitution” of their order. But this subject is 
almost too horrible for ajoke. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


389 


Where reigns a C retan- tongued panic, 

Lest news Russ, Dutch, or Alemannic 

Should make some losers, and some winners 

At conversazioni — halls — 

Conventicles — and drawing-rooms — 

Courts of law — committees — calls 
Of a morning — clubs — book-stalls — 

Churches — masquerades — and tombs. 

And this is Hell — and in this smother 
All are damnable and damned ; 

Each one damning, damns the other ; 

They are damned by one another. 

By none other are they damned. 

Tis a lie to say, “ God damns ! ” * 

Where was Heaven’s Attorney General 
When they first gave out such flams ? 

Let there be an end of shams. 

They are mines of poisonous mineral. 

Statesmen damn themselves to be 

Cursed ; and lawyers damn their souls 
To the auction of a fee ; 

Churchmen damn themselves to see 
God’s sweet love in burning coals. 

The rich are damned, beyond all cure. 

To taunt, and starve, and trample on 
The weak and wretched ; and the poor 
Damn their broken hearts to endure 
Stripe on stripe, with groan on groan 

* This libel on our national oath, and this accusation of all our coun- 
trymen of being in the daily practice of solemnly asseverating the most 
enormous falsehood, I fear deserves the notice of a more active Attorney 
General than that here alluded to. 


390 


PETEK BELL THE THIRD. 


Sometimes the poor are damned indeed 
To take, — not means for being blest, — 
But Cobbett’s snuff, revenge ; that weed 
From which the worms that it doth feed 
Squeeze less than they before possessed. 

And some few, like we know who. 

Damned — but God alone knows why — • 

To believe their minds are given 
To make this ugly Hell a Heaven ; 

In which faith they live and die. 

Thus, as in a town, plague-stricken, 

Each man be he sound or no 
Must indifferently sicken ; 

As when day begins to thicken, 

None knows a pigeon from a crov/, — 

So good and bad, sane and mad, 

The oppressor and the oppressed ; 

Those who weep to see what others 
Smile to inflict upon their brothers ; 

Lovers, haters, worst and best ; 

All are damned — they breathe an air. 

Thick, infected, joy- dispelling : 

Each pursues what seems most fair. 

Mining like moles, through mind, and there 
Scoop palace-caverns vast, where Care 
In throned state is ever dwelling. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


391 


PART THE FOURTH. 

SIN. 

Lo, Peter in Hell’s Grosvenor-square, 

A footman in the devil’s service ! 

And the misjudging world would swear 
That every man in service there 
To virtue would prefer vice. 

But Peter, though now damned, was not 
What Peter was before damnation. 

Men oftentimes prepare a lot 
Which ere it finds them, is not what 
Suits with their genuine station. 

All things that Peter saw and felt 
Had a peculiar aspect to him ; 
iVnd when they came within the belt 
Of his own nature, seemed to melt, 

Like cloud to cloud, into him. 

And so the outward world uniting 
To that within him, he became 
Considerably uninviting 
To those, who meditation slighting. 

Were moulded in a different frame. 

And he scorned them, and they scorned him ; 

And he scorned all they did ; and they 
Did all that men of their own trim 
Are wont to do to please their whim, 
Drinking, lying, swearing, play. 


392 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


Such were his fellow-servants ; thus 
His virtue, like our own, was built 
Too much on that indignant fuss 
Hypocrite Pride stirs up in us 
To bully out another’s guilt. 

He had a mind which was somehow 
At once circumference and centre 
Of all he might or feel or know ; 
Nothing went ever out, although 
Something did ever enter. 

He had as much imagination 
As a pint-pot ; — he never could 
Fancy another situation. 

From which to dart his contemplation, 
Than that wherein he stood. 

Yet his was individual mind, 

And new created all he saw 
In a new manner, and refined 
Those new creations, and combined 
Them, by a master-spirit’s law. 

Thus — though unimaginative — 

An apprehension clear, intense. 

Of his mind’s work, had made alive 
The things it wrought on ; I believe 
Wakening a sort of thought in sense. 

But from the first ’twas Peter’s drift 
To be a kind of moral eunuch. 

He touched the hem of nature’s shift, 
Felt faint — and never dared uplift 
The closest, all-concealing tunic. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


893 


She laughed the while, mth an arch smile, 

And kissed hiin with a sister’s kiss. 

And said — “ My best Diogenes, 

I love you well — but, if you please. 

Tempt not again my deepest bliss. 

“ ’Tis you are cold — ^for I, not coy, 

Yield love for love, frank, warm and true ; 

And Bums, a Scottish peasant boy — 

His errors prove it — knew my joy 
More, learned friend, than you. 

“ Bocca hacciata non perde ventura 
Anzi rinnuova come fa la luna : — 

So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words might cure a 
Male prude, like you, from what you now endure, a 
Low- tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna.” 

Then Peter mbbed his eyes severe, 

And smoothed his spacious forehead down. 

With his broad palm ; — ’twixt love and fear, 

He looked, as he no doubt felt, queer, 

And in his dream sate down. 

The Devil was no uncommon creature ; 

A leaden- witted thief — just huddled 
Out of the dross and scum of nature ; 

A toad-like lump of limb and feature, 

With mind, and heart, and fancy muddled. 

He was that heavy, dull, cold thing. 

The spirit of evil well may be : 

A drone too base to have a sting ; 

Who gluts, and grimes his lazy wing. 

And calls lust, luxury. 


394 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


Now he was quite the kind of wight 
Bound whom collect, at a fixed sera, 

Venison, turtle, hock, and claret, — 

Good cheer — and those who come to share it — 
And best East Indian madeira ! 

It was his fancy to invite 

Men of science, wit, and learning. 

Who came to lend each other light ; 

He proudly thought that his gold’s might 
Had set those spirits burning. 

And men of learning, science, wit, 

Considered him as you and I 
Think of some rotten tree, and sit 
Lounging and dining under it. 

Exposed to the wide sky. 

And all the while, with loose fat smile. 

The willing wretch sat winking there, 
Believing ’twas his power that made 
That jovial scene — and that all paid 
Homage to his unnoticed chair. 

Though to be sure this place was Hell ; 

He was the Devil — and all they — 

What though the claret circled well. 

And wit, like ocean, rose and fell ? — 

Were damned eternally. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


395 


PART THE FIFTH. 


GRACE. 

Among the guests who often staid 
Till the Devil’s petits-soupers, 

A man there came, fair as a maid, 
xAnd Peter noted what he said. 

Standing behind his master’s chair. 

He was a mighty poet — and 
A subtle-souled psychologist ; 

All things he seemed to understand. 

Of old or new — of sea or land — 

But his own mind — which was a mist. 

This was a man who might have turned 
Hell into Heaven — and so in gladness 
A Heaven unto himself have earned ; 

But he in shadows un discerned 

Trusted, — and damned himself to madness. 

He spoke of poetry, and how 

“ Divine it was — a light — a love — 

A spirit which like wind doth blow 
As it listeth, to and fro ; 

A dew rained down from God above. 

“ A power which comes and goes like dream. 

And which none can ever trace — 

Heaven’s light on earth — Truth’s brightest beam.” 
And when he ceased there lay the gleam 
Of those words upon his face. 


396 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


Now Peter, when he heard such talk, 

Would, heedless of a broken pate, 

Stand like a man asleep, or baulk 
Some wishing guest of knife or fork. 

Or drop and break his master s plate. 

At night he oft would start and wake 
Like a lover, and began 
In a wild measure songs to make 
On moor, and glen, and rocky lake. 

And on the heart of man. 

And on the universal sky — 

And the wide earth’s bosom green, — 

And the sweet, strange mystery 
Of what beyond these things may lie. 

And yet remain unseen. 

For in his thought he visited 

The spots in which, ere dead and damned. 
He his wayward life had led ; 

Yet knew not whence the thoughts were fed, 
Which thus his fancy crammed. 

And these obscure remembrances 
Stirred such harmony in Peter, 

That whensoever he should please, 

He could speak of rocks and trees 
In poetic metre. 

For though it was without a sense 
Of memory, yet he remembered well 
Many a ditch and quick-set fence ; 

Of lakes he had intelligence. 

He knew something of heath, and fell. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD, 


397 


He had also dim recollections 

Of pedlars tramping on their rounds ; 
Milk-pans and pails ; and odd collections 
Of saws, and proverbs ; and reflections 
Old parsons make in burying-grounds. 

But Peter’s verse was clear, and came 
Announcing from the frozen hearth 
Of a cold age, that none might tame 
The soul of that diviner flame 
It augured to the Earth. 

Like gentle rains, on the dry plains, 

Maldng that green which late was grey. 

Or like the sudden moon, that stains 
Some gloomy chamber’s window panes 
With a broad light like day. 

For language was in Peter’s hand. 

Like clay, while he was yet a potter ; 

And he made songs for all the land. 

Sweet both to feel and understand. 

As pipkins late to momitain Cotter. 

And Mr. , the bookseller. 

Gave twenty pounds for some ; — then scorning 
A footman’s yellow coat to wear, 

Peter, too proud of heart, I fear. 

Instantly gave the Devil warning. 

Whereat the Devil took offence, 

And swore in his soul a great oath then. 

That for his damned impertinence, 

He ’d bring him to a proper sense 
Of what was due to gentlemen ! ” — 


398 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


PART THE SIXTH. 

DAMNATION. 

“ 0 THAT mine enemy had written 

A book ! ” — cried Job : — a fearful curse ; 

If to the Arab, as the Briton, 

’Tw^as galling to be critic-bitten : — 

The Devil to Peter wished no worse. 

When Peter’s next new book found vent, 

The Devil to all the first Reviews 
A copy of it slily sent. 

With five-pound note as compliment. 

And this short notice — “ Pray abuse.” 

Then seriatim, month and quarter. 

Appeared such mad tirades. — One said — 

“ Peter seduced Mrs. Foy’s daughter. 

Then drowned the mother in Ullswater, 

The last thing as he went to bed.” 

Another — “ Let him shave his head ! 

Where ’s Dr. Willis ? — Or is he joldng ? 

What does the rascal mean or hope. 

No longer imitating Pope, 

In that barbarian Shakspeare poking ? ” 

One more, “ Is incest not enough? 

And must there be adultery too ? 

Grace after meat ? Miscreant and Liar ! 

Thief ! Blackguard ! Scoundrel ! Fool ! Hell-fire 
Is twenty times too good for you. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


399 


“ By that last book of yours we think 
You Ve double damned yourself to scorn ; 

We warned you whilst yet on the brink 
You stood. From your black name will shrink 
The babe that is unborn.” 

All these Reviews the Devil made 
Up in a parcel, which he had 
Safely to Peter s house conveyed. 

For carriage, ten-pence Peter paid — 

Untied them — read them — went half mad. 

“ What ! ” cried he, “ this is my reward 
For nights of thought, and days of toil ? 

Do poets, but to be abhorred 
By men of whom they never heard. 

Consume their spirits’ oil ? 

“ What have I done to them ? — and who 
Is Mrs. Foy ? ’Tis very cruel 
To speak of me and Emma so ! 

Adultery ! God defend me ! Oh ! 

I ’ve half a mind to fight a duel. 

“ Or,” cried he, a grave look collecting, 

“ Is it my genius, like the moon. 

Sets those who stand her face inspecting, 

That face within their brain reflecting. 

Like a crazed bell-chime, out of tune ? ” 

For Peter did not know the town. 

But thought, as country readers do. 

For half a guinea or a crown. 

He bought oblivion or renown 

From God’s own voice * in a review. 

* Vox populi vox dei. As Mr Godwin truly observes of a more famous 
saying, of some merit as a popular maxim, but totally destitute of philoso- 
phical accuracy. 


400 


PETEE BELL THE THIRD. 


All Peter did on this occasion 

Was, writing some sad stuff in prose. 

It is a dangerous invasion 
When poets criticise ; their station 
Is to delight, not pose. 

The Devil then sent to Leipsic fair. 

For Bom’s translation of Kant s book ; 

A world of words, tail foremost, where 
Eight — wrong — false — true — and foul — and fair 
As in a lottery-wheel are shook. 

Five thousand crammed octavo pages 
Of German psychologies,— he 
Who furor verborum assuages 
Thereon, deserves just seven months’ wages 
More than will e’er he due to me. 

I looked on them nine several days. 

And then I saw that they were bad ; 

A friend, too, spoke in their dispraise, — 

He never read them ; — with amaze 
I found Sir William Drummond had. 

When the book came, the Devil sent 
It to P. Yerbovale,* Esquire, 

With a brief note of compliment. 

By that night’s Carlisle mail. It went. 

And set his soul on fire. 


* Quasi, Qui valet verba i. e. all the words which have been, are, or 
may be expended by, for, against, with, or on him. A sufficient proof of 
the utility of this history. Peter’s progenitor who selected this name 
seems to have possessed a pure anticipated cognition of the nature and 
modesty of this ornament of his posterity. 


PETEE BELL THE THIRD. 


401 


Fire, which ex luce prcehens fumum. 

Made him beyond the bottom see 
Of truth’s clear well — when I and you Ma’am, 
Go, as we shall do, suhter Immum, 

We may know more than he. 

Now Peter ran to seed in soul 
Into a walking paradox ; 

For he was neither part nor whole. 

Nor good, nor bad — nor knave nor fool, 

— Among the woods and rocks. 

Furious he rode, where late he ran, 

Lashing and spurring his tame hobby ; 
Turned to a formal puritan, 

A solemn and unsexual man, — 

He half believed White Obi. 

This steed in vision he would ride, 

High trotting over nine-inch bridges. 

With Flibbertigibbet, imp of pride. 

Mocking and mowing by his side — 

A mad-brained goblin for a guide — 

Over corn-fields, gates, and hedges. 

After these ghastly rides, he came 

Home to his heart, and found from thence 
Much stolen of its accustomed flame ; 

His thoughts grew weak, drowsy, and lame 
Of their intelligence. 

To Peter’s view, all seemed one hue ; 

He was no whig, he was no tory ; 

No Deist and no Christian he ; — 

Pie got so subtle, that to be 
Nothing, was all his glory. 

VOL. II. D D 


40-2 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


One single point in his belief 
From his organisation sprung, 

The heart-enrooted faith, the chief 
Ear in his doctrines’ blighted sheaf, 

That “happiness is wrong ; ” 

So thought Calvin and Dominic ; 

So think their fierce successors, who 
Even now would neither stint nor stick 
Our flesh from off our hones to pick, 

If they might “ do their do.” 

His morals thus were undermined : — 

The old Peter — the hard, old Potter 
Was horn anew within his mind ; 

He grew dull, harsh, sly, unrefined. 

As when he tramped beside the Otter.* 

In the death hues of agony 

Lamhently flashing from a fish. 

Now Peter felt amused to see 
Shades like a rainbow’s rise and flee. 
Mixed with a certain hungry wish.f 


* A famous river in the new Atlantis of the Dynastophylic Panti- 
socratists. 

t See the description of the beautiful colours produced during the 
agonising death of a number of trout, in the fourth part of a long poem in 
blank verse, published within a few years. That poem contains curious 
evidence of the gradual hardening of a strong but circumscribed sensi- 
bility, of the perversion of a penetrating but panic-stricken understanding. 
The author might have derived a lesson which he had probably forgotten 
from these sweet and sublime verses. 

This lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide. 

Taught both by what she ^ shows and what conceals, 

Never to blend our pleasure or our pride 
W^ith sorrow of the meanest thing that feels. 


* Nature. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


403 


So in his Country’s dying face 
He looked— and lovely as she lay, 

Seeking in vain his last embrace, 

Wailing her own abandoned case. 

With hardened sneer he turned away : 

And coolly to his own soul said ; — 

“Do you not think that we might make 
A poem on her when she ’s dead : — 

Or, no — a thought is in my head — 

Her shroud for a new sheet I ’ll take. 

“ My wife wants one. — Let who will bury 
This mangled corpse ! And I and you. 
My dearest Soul, will then make merry. 

As the Prince Regent did with Sherry, — 

Ay — and at last desert me too.” 

And so his Soul would not be gay. 

But moaned within him ; like a fawn 
Moaning within a cave, it lay 
Wounded and wasting, day by day. 

Till all its life of life was gone. 

As troubled skies stain waters clear, 

The storm in Peter’s heart and mind 
Now made his verses dark and queer : 

They were the ghosts of what they were, 
Shaking dim grave-clothes in the wind. 

For he now raved enormous folly. 

Of Baptisms, Sunday-schools, and Graves, 
’Twould make George Colman melancholy. 
To have heard him, like a male Molly, 
Chaunting those stupid staves. 


D D 2 


404 


PETEK BELL THE THIRD. 


Yet the Reviews, who heaped abuse 
On Peter while he wrote for freedom, 

So soon as in his song they spy 
The folly which soothes tyranny, 

Praise him, for those who feed ’em. 

“ He was a man, too great to scan ; — 

A planet lost in truth’s keen rays : — 
His virtue, awful and prodigious ; — 

He was the most sublime, religious, 
Pure-minded Poet of these days.” 

As soon as he read that, cried Peter, 

“ Eureka ! I have found the way 
To make a better thing of metre 
Than e’er wrs made by living creature 
Up to this blessed day.” 

Then Peter wrote odes to the Devil ; — 

In one of which he meeldy said : 

“ May Carnage and Slaughter, 

Thy niece and thy daughter, 

May Rapine and Famine, 

Thy gorge ever cramming. 

Glut thee with living and dead ! 

“ May death and damnation. 

And consternation. 

Flit up from hell with pure intent ! 

Slash them at Manchester, 

Glasgow, Leeds and Chester ; 

Drench all with blood from Avon to Trent. 

“ Let thy body guard yeomen 
Hew down babes and women, 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


405 


And laugh with hold triumph till Heaven be rent, 
When Moloch in Jewry, 

Munched children with fury. 

It was thou. Devil, dining with pure intent.”^ 


PART THE SEVENTH. 

DOUBLE DAMNATION. 

The Devil now knew his proper cue. — 

Soon as he read the ode, he drove 
To his friend Lord Mac Murderchouse’s, 

A man of interest in both houses. 

And said : — “ For money or for love, 

“ Pray find some cure or sinecure ; 

To feed from the superfluous taxes, 

A friend of ours — a poet — fewer 
Have fluttered tamer to the lure 

Than he.” His lordship stands and racks his 

Stupid brains, while one might count 
As many heads as he had boroughs, — 

At length replies ; from his mean front, 

Like one who rubs out an account. 

Smoothing away the unmeaning furrows : 


* It is curious to observe how often extremes meet. Cobbett and Peter 
use the same language for a different purpose : Peter is indeed a sort of 
metrical Cobbett. Cobbett is, however, more mischievous than Peter, 
because he pollutes a holy and now unconquerable cause with the prin- 
ciples of legitimate murder; whilst the other only makes a bad one 
ridiculous and odious. 

If either Peter or Cobbett should see this note, each will feel more 
indignation at being compared to the other than at any censure implied 
in the moral perversion laid to their charge. 


406 


PETEE BELL THE THIRD. 


“ It happens fortunately, dear Sir, 

I can. I hope I need require 
No pledge from you, that he mil stir 
In om' afiairs ; — like Oliver, 

That he ’ll be worthy of his hire.” 

These words exchanged, the news sent off 
To Peter, home the Devil hied, — 

Took to his bed ; he had no cough. 

No doctor, — meat and drink enough, — 
Yet that same night he died. 

The Devil’s corpse was leaded down ; 

His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf, 
Momiiing-coaches, many a one. 

Followed his hearse along the town : — 
Where was the devil himseff? 

When Peter heard of his promotion. 

His eyes grew like two stars for bliss : 
There was a how of sleek devotion. 
Engendering in his back ; each motion 
Seemed a Lord’s shoe to kiss. 

He hired a house, bought plate, and made 
A genteel drive up to his door. 

With sifted gravel neatly laid, — 

As if defying all who said, 

Peter was ever poor. 

But a disease soon struck into 
The very life and soul of Peter — 

He walked about — slept — had the hue 
Of health upon his cheeks — and few 
Dug better — none a heartier eater. 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


40 


And yet a strange and horrid curse 
Clung upon Peter, night and day, 

Month after month the thing grew worse. 

And deadlier than in this my verse, 

I can find strength to say. 

Peter was dull — he was at first 
Dull — 0, so dull — so very dull ! 

Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed — 

Still with this dulness was he cursed — 

Dull — beyond all conception — dull. 

No one could read his hooks — no mortal. 

But a few natural friends, would hear him ; 

The parson came not near his portal ; 

His state was like that of the immortal 

Described by Swift — no man could bear him. 

His sister, wife, and children yawned. 

With a long, slow, and drear ennui. 

All human patience far beyond ; 

Their hopes of Heaven each would have pawned. 
Any where else to be. 

But in his verse, and in his prose. 

The essence of his dulness was 

Concentred and compressed so close, 

’T would have made Guatimozin dose 
On his red gridiron of brass. 

A printer’s boy, folding those pages, 

Fell slurnbrously upon one side; 

Like those famed seven who slept three ages. 

To wakeful frenzy’s vigil rages. 

As opiates, were the same applied. 


408 


PETER BELL THE THIRD. 


Even the Reviewers who were hired 
To do the work of his reviewing, 

With adamantine nerves, grew tired ; — 
Gaping and torpid they retired. 

To dream of what they should be doing. 

And worse and worse, the drowsy curse 
Yawned in him, till it grew a pest — 

A wide contagious atmosphere. 

Creeping like cold through all things near ; 
A power to infect and to infest. 

His servant-maids and dogs grew dull ; 

His kitten, late a sportive elf. 

The woods and lakes, so beautiful, 

Of dim stupidity were full. 

All grew dull as Peter’s self. 

The earth under his feet — ^the springs. 
Which lived within it a quick life. 

The air, the winds of many wings. 

That fan it with new murmurings. 

Were dead to their harmonious strife. 

The birds and beasts within the wood. 

The insects, and each creeping thing. 
Were now a silent multitude ; 

Love’s work was left unwrought — no brood 
Near Peter’s house took wing. 

And every neighbouring cottager 
Stupidly yawned upon the other : 

No jack-ass brayed ; no little cur 
Cocked up his ears ; — no man w'ould stir 
To save a dying mother. 


PETEK BELL THE IHIED. 


409 


Yet all from that charmed district went 
But some half-idiot and half-knave, 
Who rather than pay any rent, 

Would live with marvellous content. 
Over his father’s grave. 

No bailiff dared within that space, 

For fear of the dull charm, to enter ; 
A man would hear upon his face. 

For fifteen months in any case. 

The yawn of such a venture. 

Seven miles above — below — around — 
This pest of dulness holds its sway ; 
A ghastly life without a sound ; 

To Peter’s soul the spell is hound — 
How should it ever pass away ? 


410 


LINES, 

WRITTEN DURING THE CASTLEREAGH ADMINISTRATION. 


CoEPSEs are cold in the tomb. 

Stones on the pavement are dumb, 

Abortions are dead in the womb, 

And their mothers look pale — like the white shore 
Of Albion, free no more. 

Her sons are as stones in the wav — 

They are masses of senseless clay — 

They are trodden and move not away, — 

The abortion, with which she travaileth. 

Is Liberty — smitten to death. 

Then trample and dance, thou Oppressor, 

For thy Victim is no redressor. 

Thou art sole lord and possessor 
Of her corpses, and clods, and abortions — they pave 
Thy path to the grave. 

Hearest thou the festival din. 

Of death, and destruction, and sin. 

And wealth, crying Havoc ! within — 

’Tis the Bacchanal triumph, which makes tmth dumb. 
Thine Epithalamium. 

Ay, marry thy ghastly wife ! 

Let fear, and disquiet, and strife 
Spread thy couch in the chamber of life, 

MaiTy Euin, thou tyrant ! and God be thy guide 
To the bed of the bride. 


411 


SONG 

TO THE MEN OF ENGLAND. 

Men of England, wherefore plough 
For the lords who lay ye low ? 

Wherefore weave with toil and care, 

The rich robes your tyrants wear ? 

Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save. 
From the cradle to the grave. 

Those ungrateful drones who would 
Drain your sweat — nay, drink your blood 

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge 
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge. 

That these stingless drones may spoil 
The forced produce of your toil ? 

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm. 

Shelter, food, love s gentle balm ? 

Or what is it ye buy so dear 
With your pain and with your fear ? 

The seed ye sow, another reaps ; 

The wealth ye find, another keeps ; 

The robes ye weave, another w^ears ; 

The arms ye forge, another bears. 

Sow seed, — but let no tyrant reap ; 

Find wealth, — let no impostor heap ; 
Weave robes, — let not the idle wear ; 
Forge arms, — in your defence to bear. 


412 


ENGLAND IN 1819. 


Shrink to youi* cellars, holes, and cells ; 

In halls ye deck, another dwells. 

Why shake the chains ye wrought ? Ye see 
The steel ye tempered glance on ye. 

With plough and spade, and hoe and loom. 
Trace yom' grave, and build your tomb. 

And weave your winding-sheet, till fair 
England be your sepulchre. 


ENGLAND IN 1819. 

• 

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king, — 
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow 
Through public scorn — mud from a muddy spring, — 
Piulers, who neither see, nor feel, nor know. 

But leech-like to their fainting country cling, 

Till they drop, bhnd in blood, without a blow, — 

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field, — 

An army, which liberticide and prey 

Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield. 

Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay, — 
Behgion Christless, Godless — a book sealed ; 

A Senate — Time’s wDrst statute unrepealed, — 

Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may 
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day. 


413 


SIMILES. 

FOR TWO POLITICAL CHARACTERS OF 1819. 

As from an ancestral oak 

Two empty ravens sound their clarion, 

Yell by yell, and croak by croak. 

When they scent the noonday smoke 
Of fresh human carrion : — 

As two gibbering night-birds flit. 

From their bowers of deadly hue. 

Through the night to frighten it, 

When the morn is in a fit, 

And the stars are none or few : — 

As a shark and dog-fish wait 
Under an Atlantic isle. 

For the negro-ship, whose freight 
Is the theme of their debate. 

Wrinkling their red gills the while — 

Are ye, two vultures sick for battle, 

Two scorpions under one wet stone. 

Two bloodless wolves whose dry throats rattle. 
Two crows perched on the murrained cattle, 
Two vipers tangled into one. 


414 


AN ODE, 

TO THE ASSERTORS OF LIBERTY. 

Akise, arise, arise ! 

There is blood on the earth that denies ye bread ; 
Be your wounds like eyes 
To weep for the dead, the dead, the dead. 

What other grief were it just to pay ? 

Your sons, your wives, your brethren, were they ; 
Who said they were slain on the battle-day ? 

Awaken, awaken, awaken ! 

The slave and the tyrant are twin-born foes ; 

Be the cold chains shaken 
To the dust, where your kindred repose, repose : 
Their bones in the grave will start and move. 
When they hear the voices of those they love. 

Most loud in the holy combat above. 

Wave, wave high the banner! 

When Freedom is riding to conquest by : 
Though the slaves that fan her 
Be famine and toil, giving sigh for sigh. 

And ye who attend her imperial car. 

Lift not your hands in the handed war. 

But in her defence whose children ye are. 

Glory, glory, glory. 

To those who have greatly suffered and done ! 
Never name in story 

Was greater than that which ye shall have won 


ODE TO HEAVEN. 


415 


Conquerors have conquered their foes alone, 

Whose revenge, pride, and power, they have overthrown: 
Ride ye, more victorious, over your own. 

Bind, bind every brow 
With crowTials of violet, ivy, and pine : 

Hide the blood-stains now 
With hues which sweet nature has made divine, 

Green strength, azure hope, and eternity. 

But let not the pansy among them be ; 

Ye were injured, and that means memory. 


ODE TO HEAVEN. 


Chorus of Spirits. 

FIRST SPIRIT. 

Palace-eoof of cloudless nights ! 
Paradise of golden lights ! 

Deep, immeasurable, vast. 

Which art now, and which wert then ! 

Of the present and the past, 

Of the eternal where and when. 
Presence-chamber, temple, home. 
Ever-canopying dome. 

Of acts and ages yet to come ! 

Glorious shapes have life in thee. 
Earth, and all earth’s company ; 

Living globes which ever throng 
Thy deep chasms and wildernesses ; 

And green worlds that glide along ; 
And swift stars with flashing tresses ; 


416 


ODE TO HEAVEN. 


And icy moons most cold and bright, 
And mighty suns beyond the night, 
Atoms of intensest light. 

Even thy name is as a god, 

Heaven ! for thou art the abode 
Of that power which is the glass 
Wherein man his nature sees. 

Generations as they pass 
Worship thee with bended knees. 

Their um*emaining gods and they 
Like a river roll away ; 

Thou remainest such alway. 

SECOND SPIRIT. 

Thou art but the mind’s first chamber, 
Hound which its young fancies clamber, 
Like weak insects in a cave. 

Lighted up by stalactites * 

But the portal of the grave. 

Where a world of new delights 
Will make thy best glories seem 
But a dim and noonday gleam 
From the shadow of a dream ! 

THIRD SPIRIT. 

Peace ! the abyss is wreathed with scorn 
At your presumption, atom-born ! 

What is heaven ? and what are ye 
Who its brief expanse inherit ? 

What are suns and spheres which flee 
With the instinct of that spirit 
Of which ye are but a part ? 

Drops which Nature’s mighty lieart 
Drives through thinnest veins/ Depart ! 


ODE TO THE WEST WIND. 


417 


What is heaven ? a globe of dew, 

Filling in the morning new^ 

Some eyed flower, whose young leaves waken 
On an unimagined world : 

Constellated suns unshaken, 

Orbits measureless, are furled 
In that frail and fading sphere. 

With ten millions gathered there, 

To tremble, gleam, and disappear. 


ODE TO THE WEST WIND.^ 


I. 

O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being. 
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead 
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing. 

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, 

P estilence-stricken multitudes : 0 thou, 

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed 

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low. 

Each like a corpse within its grave, until 
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow 

* This poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts 
the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, 
whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the 
vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, 
at sunset, with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that mag- 
nificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions. 

The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is 
well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of 
rivers, and of lakes, sympathises with that of the land in the change of 
seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it. 
VOL. II. E E 


4L8 


ODE TO THE WEST WIND. 


Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill 
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) 
With living hues and odours plain and hill : 

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere ; 
Destroyer and preserver ; hear, oh hear ! 


II. 

Thou on whose stream, ’mid the steep sky’s commotion, 
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed. 
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean, 

Angels of rain and lightning : there are spread 
On the blue surface of thine airy surge. 

Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 

Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge 
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height. 

The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge 

Of the dying year, to which this closing night 
Will he the doom of a vast sepulchre. 

Vaulted with all thy congregated might 

Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere 

Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst : Oh hear ! 


III. 

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams 
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay. 

Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams, 

Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s hay. 

And saw in sleep old palaces and towers 
Quivering within the wave's in tenser day. 


ODE TO THE WEST WIND. 


419 


All overgrown with azure moss and flowers 
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them ! Thou 
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers 

Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below 
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear 
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know 

Thy voice, and suddenly grow grey with fear, 

And tremble and despoil themselves : Oh hear I 


IV. 

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear ; 

If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee ; 

A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share 

The impulse of thy strength, only less free 
Than thou, 0 uncontrollable ! If even 
I were as in my boyhood, and could be 

The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven. 

As then, when to outstrip the skyey speed 
Scarce seemed a vision, I would ne’er have striven 

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. 

Oh ! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud ! 

I fall upon the thorns of life ! I bleed ! 

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed 
One too like thee : tameless, and swift, and proud. 


v. 

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is : 
What if my leaves are falling like its own ! 
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies 

E E 2 


420 


AN EXHORTATION. 


Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, 
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, spirit fierce 
Mj spirit ! Be thou me, impetuous one ! 

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe 
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth ; 
And, by the incantation of this verse. 

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth 
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind ! 
Be through my lips to unawakened earth 

The trumpet of a prophecy ! 0 ^ind. 

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind ? 


AN EXHORTATION. 


Cameleons feed on light and ah : 
Poets’ food is love and fame : 

If in this wide world of care 
Poets could but find the same 
With as little toil as they. 

Would they ever change their hue 
As the light cameleons do, 

Suiting it to every ray 
Twenty times a-day ? 

Poets are on this cold earth, 

As cameleons might be. 

Hidden from their early birth 
In a cave beneath the sea ; 

Where light is, cameleons change ! 


THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI. 


4*21 


Where love is not, poets do : 

Fame is love disguised : if few 
Find either, never think it strange 
That poets range. 

Yet dare not stain with wealth or power 
A poet’s free and heavenly mind : 

If bright cameleons should devour 
Any food hut beams and wind, 

They would grow as earthly soon 
As their brother lizards are. 

Children of a sunnier star, i 

Spirits from beyond the moon. 

Oh, refuse the boon ! 


ON 

THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VINCI, 

IN THE FLORENTINE GALLERY. 


It lieth, gazing on the midnight sky. 

Upon the cloudy mountain peak supine , 
Below, far lands are seen tremblingly ; 

Its horror and its beauty are divine. 

Upon its lips and eyelids seems to lie 

Loveliness like a shadow, from which shine. 
Fiery and lurid, struggling underneath. 

The agonies of anguish and of death. 

Yet it is less the horror than the grace 
Which turns the gazer’s spirit into stone 
Whereon the lineaments of that dead face 
Are graven, till the characters be grown 


4*22 THE MEDUSA OF LEONARDO DA VTNCI. 

Into itself, and thought no more can trace ; 

’Tis the melodious hues of beauty thrown 
Athwart the darkness and the glare of pain, 
Which humanize and harmonize the strain. 

And from its head as from one body grow. 

As [ ] grass out of a watery rock, 

Hairs which are vipers, and they curl and flow. 
And their long tangles in each other lock, 

And with unending involutions show 

Their mailed radiance, as it were to mock 
The torture and the death within, and saw 
The solid air with many a ragged jaw. 

And from a stone beside, a poisonous eft 
Peeps idly into these Gorgonian eyes ; 

Whilst in the air a ghastly bat, bereft 
Of sense, has flitted with a mad surprise 
Out of the cave this hideous light hath cleft. 

And he comes hastening like a moth that hies 
After a taper ; and the midnight sky 
Flares, a light more dread than obscurity. 

’Tis the tempestuous loveliness of terror ; 

For from the serpents gleams a brazen glare 
Kindled by that inextricable error. 

Which makes a thrilling vapour of the air 
Become a [ ] and ever-shifting mirror 

Of all the beauty and the terror there — 

A woman’s countenance, with serpent locks. 
Gazing in death on heaven frotn those wet rocks. 


Fjorknce, 1819. 


423 


TO WILLIAM SHELLEY. 


(With what truth 1 may say — 
Roma ! Roma ! Roma ! 

N on e piu come era prima ! ) 


My lost William, thou in whom 
Some bright spirit lived, and did 
That decaying robe consume 
Which its lustre faintly hid. 

Here its ashes find a tomb, 

But beneath this pyramid 
Thou art not — if a thing divine 
Like thee can die, thy funeral shrine 
Is thy mother’s grief and mine. 

Where art thou, my gentle child ? 

Let me think thy spirit feeds, 

WTth its life intense and mild, 

The love of living leaves and weeds, 
Among these tombs and ruins wild ; — 
Let me think that through low seeds 
Of the sweet flowers and sunny grass. 
Into their hues and scents may pass, 

A portion 


June^ 1819 . 


NOTE ON THE POEMS OF 1819. 


BY THE EDITOR. 

Though Shelley’s first eager desire to excite his country- 
men to resist openly the oppressions existent during the 
good old times” had faded with early youth, still his warmest 
sympathies were for the people. He was a republican, and 
loved a democracy. He looked on all human beings as 
inheriting an equal right to possess the dearest privileges of 
our nature, the necessaries of life, when fairly earned by 
labour, and intellectual instruction. His hatred of any 
despotism, that looked upon the people as not to be consulted 
or protected from want and ignorance, was intense. He was 
residing near Leghorn, at Villa Valsovano, writing The 
Cenci, w^hen the news of the Manchester Massacre reached 
us ; it roused in him violent emotions of indignation and 
compassion. The great truth that the many, if accordant 
and resolute, could control the few, as was shown some 
years after, made him long to teach his injured countrymen 
how to resist. Inspired by these feelings, he wrote the 
Masque of Anarchy, which he sent to his friend, Leigh 
Hunt, to be inserted in the Examiner, of which he was then 
the Editor. 

I did not insert it,” Leigh Hunt writes in his valuable 


editor’s note on poems of 1819. 


4-25 


and interesting preface to this poem, when he printed it in 
1832, because I thought that the public at large had not 
become sufficiently discerning to do justice to the sincerity 
and kind-heartedness of his spirit, that walked in this 
flaming robe of verse.” Days of outrage have passed away, 
and with them the exasperation that would cause such an 
appeal to the many to be injurious. Without being aware 
of them, they at one time acted on his suggestions, and 
gained the day ; but they rose when human life was 
respected by the minister in power ; such was not the case 
during the administration which excited Shelley’s abhorrence. 

The poem was written for the people, and is therefore in 
a more popular tone than usual ; portions strike as abrupt 
and unpolished, but many stanzas are all his own. I heard 
him repeat, and admired those beginning, — 

My Father Time is old and grey, 

before I knew to what poem they were to belong. But the 
most touching passage is that which describes the blessed 
effects of liberty ; they might make a patriot of any man, 
whose heart was not wholly closed against his humbler 
fellow-creatures. 

Shelley loved the people, and respected them as often more 
virtuous, as always more suffering, and, therefore, more 
deserving of sympathy, than the great. He believed that a 
clash between the two classes of society was inevitable, and 
he eagerly ranged himself on the people’s side. He had an 
idea of publishing a series of poems adapted expressly to 
commemorate their circumstances and wrongs — he wrote a 
few, but in those days of prosecution for libel they could not 
be printed. They are not among the best of his productions. 


426 


EDITOR S NOTE ON POEMS OF 1819. 


a writer being always shackled when he endeavours to write 
down to the comprehension of those who could not under- 
stand or feel a highly imaginative style ; but they show his 
earnestness, and with what heartfelt compassion he went 
home to the direct point of injury — that oppression is detest- 
able, as being the parent of starvation, nakedness, and 
ignorance. Besides these outpourings of compassion and 
indignation, he had meant to adorn the cause he loved with 
loftier poetry of glory and triumph — such is the scope of the 
Ode to the Assertors of Liberty. He sketched also a new 
version of our national anthem, as addressed to Liberty. 

God prosper, speed, and save, 

God raise from England’s grave 

Her murdered Queen ! 

Pave with swift victory 
The steps of Liberty, 

Whom Britons own to be 

Immortal Queen. 

See, she comes throned on high. 

On swift Eternity ! 

God save the Queen ! 

Millions on millions wait 
Firm, rapid, and elate, 

On her majestic state ! 

God save the Queen ! 

She is thine own pure soul 
Moulding the mighty whole, 

God save the Queen ! 

She is thine own deep love 
Rained down from heaven above, 

Wherever she rest or move, 

God save our Queen ! 

Wilder her enemies 
In their own dark disguise, 

God save our Queen ! 

All earthly things that dare 
Her sacred name to bear. 

Strip them, as kings are, bare ; 

God saA*e the Queen ! 


editor’s note on poems of 1819. 


427 


Be her eternal throne 
Built in our hearts alone, 

God save the Queen ! 
Let the oppressor hold 
Canopied seats of gold ; 

She sits enthroned of old 

O’er our hearts Queen. 

Lips touched by seraphim 
Breathe out the choral hymn 

God save the Queen ! 
Sweet as if Angels sang, 

Loud as that trumpet’s clang 
Wakening the world’s dead gang, 
God save the Queen ! 


Shelley had suffered severely from the death of our son 
during this summer. His heart, attuned to every kindly 
affection, was full of burning love for his offspring. No 
words can express the anguish he felt when his elder 
children were torn from him. In his first resentment 
against the Chancellor, on the passing of the decree, he had 
written a curse, in which there breathes, besides haughty 
indignation, all the tenderness of a father’s love, which 
could imagine and fondly dwell upon its loss and the 
consequences. It is as follows : — 

TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR. 

Thy country’s curse is on thee, darkest Crest 
Of that foul, knotted, many-headed worm, 

Which rends our Mother’s bosom— Priestly Pest ! 

Masked Resurrection of a buried form !* 


Thy country’s curse is on thee! Justice sold, 

Truth trampled, Nature’s land-marks overthrown, 
And heaps of fraud-accumulated gold, 

Plead, loud as thunder, at Destruction’s throne. 

And whilst that slow sure Angel, which aye stands. 
Watching the beck of Mutability, 

Delays to execute her high commands. 

And, though a nation weeps, spares thine and thee ; 


* The Star-chambei". 


428 editor's note on poems of 1819. 


0 let a father’s curse be on thy soul, 

And let a daughter’s hope be on thy tomb. 

And both on thy grey head, a leaden cowl, 

To weigh thee down to thine approaching doom ! 

1 curse thee by a parent’s outraged love, 

By hopes long cherished and too lately lost, 

By gentle feelings thou couldst never prove. 

By griefs which thy stem nature never crost : 

By those infantine smiles of happy light. 

Which were a fire within a stranger’s hearth. 
Quenched even when kindled, in untimely night. 
Hiding the promise of a lovely birth : 

By those unpractised accents of young speech, 

Which he who is a father thought to frame 
To gentlest lore, such as the wisest teach ; 

Thou strike the lyre of mind ! O grief and shame ! 

By all the happy see in children’s growth, 

That undeveloped flower of budding years. 
Sweetness and sadness interwoven both. 

Source of the sweetest hopes and saddest fears : 

By all the days under a hireling’s care 
Of dull constraint and bitter heaviness, — 

O wretched ye, if ever any were. 

Sadder than orphans, yet not fatherless ! 

By the false cant, which on their innocent lips. 

Must hang like poison on an opening bloom. 

By the dark creeds which cover with eclipse 
Their pathway from the cradle to the tomb : 

By thy most impious Hell, and all its terrors, 

By all the grief, the madness, and the guilt 
Of thine impostures, which must be their errors. 
That sand on which thy crumbling Power is built 

By thy complicity with lust and hate. 

Thy thirst for tears, thy hunger after gold. 

The ready frauds which ever on thee wait. 

The servile arts in which thou hast grown old ; 

By thy most killing sneer, and by thy smile. 

By all the acts and snares of thy black den. 

And -for thou canst outweep the crocodile, — 

By thy false tears— those millstones braining men 


editor’s note on poems of 1819 . 


429 


By all the hate which checks a father’s love, 

By all the scorn which kills a father’s care, 

By those most impious hands that dared remove 
Nature’s high bounds— by thee— and by despair ! 

Yes, the despair which bids a father groan. 

And cry, my children are no longer mine ; 

The blood within those veins may be mine own, 
But, Tyrant, their polluted souls are thine. 

I curse thee, though I hate thee not ; O slave ! 

If thou couldst quench the earth-consuming hell 
Of which thou art a dsmon, on thy grave 

This curse should be a blessing. Fare thee well ! 


At one time, while the question was still pending, the 
Chancellor had said some words that seemed to intimate 
that Shelley should not be permitted the care of any of his 
children, and for a moment he feared that our infant son 
would be torn from us. He did not hesitate to resolve, 
if such were menaced, to abandon country, fortune, every- 
thing, and to escape with his child ; and I find some un- 
finished stanzas addressed to this son, whom afterwards we 
lost at Rome, written under the idea that we might suddenly 
be forced to cross the sea, so to preserve him. This poem, as 
well as the one previously quoted, were not written to 
exhibit the pangs of distress to the public ; they were the 
spontaneous outbursts of a man who brooded over his wrongs 
and woes, and was impelled to shed the grace of his genius 
over the uncontrollable emotions of his heart : — 


The billows on the beach are leaping around it, 
The bark is weak and frail, 

The sea looks black, and the clouds that bound it 
Darkly strew the gale. 

Come with me, thou delightful child. 

Come with me, though the wave is wild. 

And the winds are loose, we must not stay, 

Or the slaves of law may rend thee away. 


430 


EDITOKS NOTE ON POEMS OF 1819. 


They have taken thy brother and sister dear, 
They have made them unfit for thee ; 

They have withered the smile and dried the tear, 
Which should have been sacred to me. 

To a blighting faith and a cause of crime 
They have bound them slaves in youthly time, 
And they will curse my name and thee, 

Because we fearless are and free. 


Come thou, beloved as thou art. 

Another sleepeth still, 

Near thy sweet mother’s anxious heart, 

Which thou with joy wilt fill ; 

With fairest smiles of wonder thrown 
On that which is indeed our own, 

And which in distant lands will be 
The dearest playmate unto thee. 

Fear not the tyrants will rule forever. 

Or the priests of the evil faith ; 

They stand on the brink of that raging river, 
Whose waves they have tainted with death. 

It is fed from the depth of a thousand dells, 
Around them it foams and rages and swells ; 

And their swords and their sceptres I floating see, 
Like wrecks on the surge of eternity. 

Rest, rest, shriek not, thou gentle child ! 

The rocking of the boat thou fearest, 

And the cold spray and the clamour wild ? 

There sit between us two, thou dearest ; 

Me and thy mother — well we know 
The storm at which thou tremblest so. 

With all its dark and hungry graves, 

Less cruel than the savage slaves 

Who hunt thee o’er these sheltering waves. 

This hour will in thy memory 
Be a dream of days forgotten ; 

We soon shall dwell by the azure sea 
Of serene and golden Italy, 

Or Greece, the Mother of the free. 

And I will teach thine infant tongue 
To call upon their heroes old 
In their own language, and will mould 
Thy growing spirit in the flame 
Of Grecian lore ; that by such name 
A patriot’s birthright thou mayst claim. 


EDITOK’s note on poems of 1819. 431 

I ought to observe that the fourth verse of this effusion is 
introduced in Rosalind and Helen. 

When afterwards this child died at Rome, he wrote, 
apropos of the English burying-ground in that city, “ This 
spot is the repository of a sacred loss, of which the yearnings 
of a parent’s heart are now prophetic ; he is rendered 
immortal by love, as his memory is by death. My beloved 
child lies buried here. I envy death the body far less than 
the oppressors the minds of those whom they have torn 
from me. The one can only kill the body, the other 
crushes the affections.” 

In this new edition I have added to the poems of this 
year, “ Peter Bell the Third.” A critique on Wordsworth’s 
Peter Bell reached us at Leghorn, which amused Shelley 
exceedingly and suggested this poem. 

I need scarcely observe that nothing personal to the 
Author of Peter Bell is intended in this poem. No man 
ever admired Wordsworth’s poetry more ; — he read it per- 
petually, and taught others to appreciate its beauties. This 
poem is, like all others written by Shelley, ideal. He con- 
ceived the idealism of a poet — a man of lofty and creative 
genius, — quitting the glorious calling of discovering and 
announcing the beautiful and good, to support and propagate 
ignorant prejudices and pernicious errors ; imparting to the 
unenlightened, not that ardour for truth and spirit of tolera- 
tion which Shelley looked on as the sources of the moral 
improvement and happiness of mankind ; but false and 
injurious opinions, that evil was good, and that ignorance 
and force were the best allies of purity and virtue. His 
idea was that a man gifted even as transcendently as the 
Author of Peter Bell, with the highest qualities of genius. 


432 editor’s note on poems of 1819. 

must, if he fostered such errors, be infected with dulness. 
This poem was written, as a warning— not as a narration of 
the reality. He was unacquainted personally with Words- 
W’orth or with Coleridge, (to whom he alludes in the fifth 
part of the poem,) and therefore, I repeat, his poem is purely 
ideal ; — it contains something of criticism on the compositions 
of these great poets, but nothing injurious to the men 
themselves. 

No poem contains more of Shelley's peculiar views, with 
regard to the errors into which many of the wisest have fallen, 
and of the pernicious effects of certain opinions on society. 
Much of it is beautifully written — and though, like the 
burlesque drama of Swellfoot, it must be looked on as a 
plaything, it has so much merit and poetry — so much of 
himself in it, that it cannot fail to interest greatly, and by 
right belongs to the world for whose instruction and benefit 
it was written. 


END OF VOL. II. 


T.ON‘I>ON • 

BIVADEUIIY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, •UHITEFRI ARS.