[From the general prologue to the Canterbury Tales.]
There was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hire smiling was ful simple and coy;
Hire gretest othe n'as but by Seint Eloy;
And she was clepëd madame Eglentine.
Ful wel she sange the servicë devine,
Entunëd in hire nose ful swetëly;
And Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisly
After the scole of Stratford-attë-Bowe,
For Frenche of Paris was to hire unknowe.
At mete was she wel ytaught withalle;
She lette no morsel from hire lippë falle,
Ne wette hire fingres in hire saucë depe.
Wel coude she carie a morsel, and wel kepe,
Thatte no drope ne fell upon hire brest.
In curtesie was sette ful moche hire lest.
Hire over lippë wipëd she so clene
That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
Of gresë, whan she dronken hadde hire draught.
Ful semëly after hire mete she raught.
And sikerly she was of grete disport
And ful plesánt and amiable of port,
And peinëd hire to contrefeten chere
Of court, and ben estatelich of manére
And to ben holden digne of reverence.
But for to speken of hire conscience,
She was so charitable and so pitoús,
She woldë wepe if that she saw a mous
Caughte in a trappe, if it were ded or bledde.
Of smalë houndës hadde she, that she fedde
With rested flesh and milk and wastel brede.
But sore wept she if on of hem were dede,
Or if men smote it with a yerdë smert:
And all was conscience and tendre herte.
 Stratford on the Bow (river): a small village where such
French as was spoken would be provincial.
 Farthing, bit.
 Took pains to imitate court manners.
 Fine bread.
PALAMON'S FAREWELL TO EMELIE.
[From the Knightes Tale.]
Naught may the woful spirit in myn herte
Declare o point of all my sorwes smerte
To you, my lady, that I lovë most.
But I bequethe the service of my gost
To you aboven every crëatúre,
Sin that my lif ne may no lenger dure.
Alas the wo! alas the peinës stronge
That I for you have suffered, and so longe!
Alas the deth! alas min Emelie!
Alas departing of our compagnie!
Alas min hertës quene! alas my wif!
Min hertës ladie, euder of my lif!
What is this world? what axen men to have?
Now with his love, now in his coldë grave
Alone withouten any compagnie.
Farewel my swete, farewel min Emelie,
And softë take me in your armës twey,
For love of God, and herkeneth what I sey.
EMELIE IN THE GARDEN.
[From the Knightes Tale.]
Thus passeth yere by yere, and day by day,
Till it felle onës in a morwe of May
That Emelie, that fayrer was to sene
Than is the lilie upon his stalkë grene,
And fresher than the May with flourës newe,
(For with the rose colour strof hire hewe;
I n'ot which was the finer of hem two)
Er it was day, as she was wont to do,
She was arisen and all redy dight,
For May wol have no slogardie a-night.
The seson priketh every gentil herte,
And maketh him out of his slepe to sterte,
And sayth, "Arise, and do thin observánce."
This maketh Emelie han remembránce
To dou honoúr to May, and for to rise.
Yclothëd was she fresh for to devise.
Hire yelwe here was broided in a tresse
Behind hire back, a yerdë long I gesse.
And in the gardin at the sonne uprist
She walketh up and doun wher as hire list.
She gathereth floures, partie white and red,
To make a sotel gerlond for hire bed,
And as an angel hevenlich she song.
 Know not.
 Wherever it pleases her.
 Subtle, cunningly enwoven.
[From the Millere's Tale.]
Fayre was this yongë wif, and therwithal
As any wesel hire body gent and smal
A seint she werëd, barrëd al of silk,
A barm-cloth eke as white as morne milk
Upon hire lendës ful of many a gore,
White was hire smok, and brouded al before
And eke behind on hire colére aboute
Of cole-black silk within and eke withoute.
The tapës of hire whitë volupere
Were of the samë suit of hire colére;
Hire fillet brode of silk and set ful hye;
And sikerly she had a likerous eye,
Ful smal ypulled were hire browës two,
And they were bent and black as any slo,
She was wel morë blisful on to see
Than is the newë perjenetë tree,
And softer than the wolle is of a wether.
And by hire girdle heng a purse of lether,
Tasseled with silk and perlëd with latoun,
In all this world to seken up and doun
Ther n'is no man so wise that coude thenche
So gay a popelot or swiche a wenche.
Ful brighter was the shining of hire hewe
Than in the tour, the noble yforged newe.
But of hire song, it was as loud and yerne
As any swalow sitting on a berne.
Thereto she coudë skip and make a game
As any kid or calf folowing his dame.
Hire mouth was swete as braket or the meth,
Or horde of apples laid in hay or heth.
Winsing she was, as is a jolly colt,
Long as a mast, and upright as a bolt.
A broche she bare upon hire low colére.
As brode as is the bosse of a bokelére.
Hire shoon were lacëd on hire leggës hie;
She was a primerole, a piggesnie,
For any lord, to liggen in his bedde,
Or yet for any good yemán to wedde.
 Trim and slim.
 Morning's milk.
 Trimmed fine.
 Young pear.
 Ornamented with pearl-shaped beads of a metal resembling brass.
 A sweet drink of ale, honey, and spice.
ANONYMOUS BALLADS OF THE SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES.
WALY, WALY BUT LOVE BE BONNY.
O waly, waly up the bank,
And waly, waly down the brae,
And waly, waly yon burn side,
Where I and my love wont to gae.
I lean'd my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bow'd and syne it brak,
Sae my true love did lightly me.
O waly, waly but love be bonny,
A little time while it is new;
But when 'tis auld it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like the morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my head?
Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true love has me forsook,
And says he'll never love me mair.
Now Arthur-Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall ne'er be fyl'd by me;
Saint Anton's well shall be my drink,
Sinn my true love has forsaken me.
Martinmas' wind, when wilt thou blaw
And shake the green leaves off the tree?
O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I'm aweary.
'Tis not the frost that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snow's inclemency;
'Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my love's heart grown cauld to me.
When we came in by Glasgow town
We were a comely sight to see;
My love was clad in the black velvet,
And I myself in cramasie.
But had I wist, before I kissed,
That love had been sae ill to win,
I'd lock'd my heart in a case of gold,
And pin'd it with a silver pin.
Oh, oh, if my young babe were born,
And set upon the nurse's knee,
And I myself were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!
 An exclamation of sorrow, woe! alas!
 At the foot of Arthur's-Seat, a cliff near Edinburgh.
THE TWO CORBIES.
As I was walking all alane
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t'other say,
"Where sail we gang and dine to-day?"
"In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there
But his hawk, his hound, and lady fair.
"His hound is to the hunting gane,
His hawk to fetch the wild fowl hame,
His lady's ta'en another mate,
So we may mak our dinner sweet.
"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,
And I'll pick out his bonny blue een;
Wi' ae lock o' his gowden hair,
We'll theck our nest when it grows bare.
"Mony a one for him makes mane,
But nane sail ken where he is gane;
O'er his white banes, when they are bare,
The wind sail blow for evermair."
BONNIE GEORGE CAMPBELL.
Hie upon Highlands and low upon Tay,
Bonnie George Campbell rade out on a day.
Saddled and bridled and gallant rade he;
Hame cam' his horse, but never cam' he.
Out came his auld mother, greeting fu' sair;
And out cam' his bonnie bride, riving her hair.
Saddled and bridled and booted rade he;
Toom hame cam' the saddle, but never cam' he.
"My meadow lies green and my corn is unshorn;
My barn is to bigg and my babie's unborn."
Saddled and bridled and booted rade he;
Toom cam' the saddle, but never cam' he.
 The two ravens.
THE SUITOR'S LIFE.
Full little knowest thou that hast not tride,
What hell it is in suing long to bide;
To lose good days that might be better spent;
To wast long nights in pensive discontent:
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow;
To feed on hope, to pine with feare and sorrow;
To have thy prince's grace, yet want her peere's:
To have thy asking, yet waite manie yeers,
To fret thy soule with crosses and with cares;
To eate thy heart through comfortlesse dispaires:
To fawne, to crowche, to waite, to ride, to ronne,
To spend, to give, to want, to be undone!
THE MUSIC OF THE BOWER OF BLISS.
[From the Faerie Queene. Book II. Canto XII.]
Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound,
Of all that mote delight a daintie eare,
Such as attonce might not on living ground,
Save in this paradise, be heard elsewhere:
Right hard it was for wight which did it heare,
To read what manner of music that mote bee;
For all that pleasing is to living eare
Was there consorted in one harmonee;
Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all agree.
The joyous birdes, shrouded in chearefull shade,
Their notes unto the voyce attempred sweet;
Th' angelicall soft trembling voyces made
To th' instruments divine respondence meet;
The silver sounding instruments did meet
With the base murmure of the waters fall;
The waters fall with difference discreet,
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
The gentle warbling wind low answered to all....
The whiles some one did chaunt this lovely lay;
Ah! see, whoso fayre thing doest faine to see,
In springing flowre the image of thy day!
Ah! see the virgin rose, how sweetly shee
Doth first peepe foorth with bashfull modestee,
That fairer seemes the lesse ye see her may!
Lo! see, soone after how more bold and free
Her barëd bosome she doth broad display;
Lo! see, soone after how she fades and falls away.
So passeth, in the passing of a day,
Of mortall life the leafe, the bud, the flowre;
Ne more doth florish after first decay,
That earst was sought to deck both bed and bowre
Of many a lady, and many a paramowre!
Gather therefore the rose whilst yet is prime,
For soone comes age that will her pride deflowre:
Gather the rose of love whilst yet is time,
Whilst loving thou mayst lovëd be with equall crime.
 A reference to Lord Burleigh's hostility to the poet
 At once.
THE HOUSE OF SLEEP.
[From the Faerie Queene. Book I. Canto I.]
He, making speedy way through spersëd ayre,
And through the world of waters wide and deepe,
To Morpheus' house doth hastily repaire:
Amid the bowels of the earth full steepe
And low, where dawning day doth never peepe,
His dwelling is; there Tethys his wet bed
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steepe
In silver deaw his ever-drouping hed,
Whiles sad Night over him her mantle black doth spred....
And more to lulle him in his slumber soft,
A trickling streame from high rock tumbling downe,
And ever-drizling raine upon the loft,
Mixt with a murmuring winde, much like the sowne
Of swarming bees, did cast him in a swowne.
No other noyse, nor people's troublous cryes,
As still are wont t'annoy the wallëd towne,
Might there be heard; but careless quiet lyes
Wrapt in eternall silence farre from enimyes.
 First, formerly.
Then hate me when thou wilt: if ever, now:
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after loss.
Ah! do not when my heart hath scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite;
But in the onset come: So shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune's might;
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.
[From As You Like It.]
Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh ho! Sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly,
Then heigh ho! the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! etc.
THE SLEEP OF KINGS.
[From Henry IV.—Part II.]
How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
Under the canopy of costly state,
And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody?
O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile,
In loathsome beds; and leav'st the kingly couch,
A watch-case, or a common 'larum bell?
Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
And in the visitation of the winds,
Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
With deaf'ning clamors in the slippery clouds,
That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
Can'st thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
And, in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then, happy low-lie-down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
FALSTAFF AND BARDOLPH.
[From Henry IV.—Part I.]
Falstaff. Bardolph, am I not fallen away vilely since this last
action? do I not bate? do I not dwindle?
Why, my skin hangs about me like an old lady's loose gown; I am wither'd
like an old apple-John.
Well, I'll repent, and that suddenly, while I am in some liking; I shall
be out of heart shortly, and then I shall have no strength to repent.
An I have not forgotten what the inside of a church is made of, I am a
peppercorn, a brewer's horse: the inside of a church! Company,
villainous company hath been the spoil of me:
Bardolph. Sir John, you are so fretful, you cannot live long.
Fal. Why, there it is. Come, sing me a bawdy song; make me merry. I
was as virtuously given, as a gentleman need to be; virtuous enough:
swore little; diced, not above seven times a week; paid money that I
borrowed, three or four times; lived well, and in good compass: and now
I live out of all order, out of all compass.
Bard. Why you are so fat, Sir John, that you must needs be out of all
compass; out of all reasonable compass, Sir John.
Fal. Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life: Thou art our
admiral, thou bearest the lantern in the poop—but 'tis in the nose of
thee; thou art the knight of the burning lamp.
Bard. Why, Sir John, my face does you no harm.
Fal No, I'll be sworn; I make as good use of it as many a man doth of
a death's head or a memento mori: I never see thy face but I think
upon hell-fire, and Dives that lived in purple; for there he is in his
robes, burning, burning. If thou wert anyway given to virtue, I would
swear by thy face; my oath should be: By this fire: but thou art
altogether given over; and wert indeed, but for the light of thy face,
the son of utter darkness. When thou runn'st up Gad's Hill in the night
to catch my horse, if I did not think thou hadst been an ignis fatuus,
or a ball of wildfire, there's no purchase in money. O, thou art a
perpetual triumph, an everlasting bonfire-light! Thou hast saved me a
thousand marks in links and torches, walking with thee in the night
betwixt tavern and tavern; but the sack that thou hast drunk me, would
have bought me lights as good cheap, at the dearest chandler's in
Europe. I have maintained that Salamander of yours with fire, any time
this two and thirty years; Heaven reward me for it!
THE SEVEN AGES OF MAN.
[From As You Like It.]
Jacques. All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school: and then, the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow: Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like a pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth: And then the justice,
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well-saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them? To die—to sleep—
No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished: to die, to sleep;
To sleep! perchance to dream; ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect,
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus take
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will;
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn away
And lose the name of action.
DETACHED PASSAGES FROM THE PLAYS.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Our revels now are ended: these our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself—
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and uncertain thoughts
Imagine howling! 'tis too horrible!
O who can hold a fire in his hand,
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow,
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat?
O no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.
She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek; she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat, like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief.
Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:
But either it was different in blood;
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say, Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.
 Small sword.
 Caprice, whim.
[From the Essays.]
Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural
fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly,
the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another
world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto
nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations there is sometimes mixture
of vanity and of superstition. You shall read in some of the friars'
books of mortification, that a man should think with himself what the
pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed or tortured; and
thereby imagine what the pains of death are, when the whole body is
corrupted and dissolved; when many times death passeth with less pain
than the torture of a limb; for the most vital parts are not the
quickest of sense. And by him that spake only as a philosopher and
natural man, it was well said, Pompa mortis magis terret quam mors
ipsa. Groans and convulsions, and a discolored face, and friends
weeping, and blacks and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible. It
is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so
weak but it mates and masters the fear of death, and therefore death is
no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him
that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love
slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear
preoccupateth it. It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a
little infant perhaps the one is as painful as the other. He that dies
in an earnest pursuit is like one that is wounded in hot blood: who, for
the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent
upon somewhat that is good doth avert the dolours of death; but, above
all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is Nunc dimittis when a
man hath obtained worthy ends and expectations. Death hath this also,
that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy:
Extinctus amabitur idem.
 The shows of death terrify more than death itself.
 Now thou dismissest us.
 The same man will be loved when dead.
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief
use for delight is in privateness and retiring: for ornament, is in
discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of
business; for expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars,
one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshaling of
affairs come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time
in studies, is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation;
to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar: they
perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities
are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies
themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they be
bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire
them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that
is a wisdom without them and above them, won by observation. Read not to
contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find
talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be
tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested;
that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but
not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence
and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made
of them by others; but that would be only in the less important
arguments, and the meaner sorts of books; else distilled books are,
like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man,
conference a ready man, and writing an exact man; and therefore, if a
man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little,
he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have
much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise;
poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral,
grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend: Abeunt studia in
mores; nay, there is no stand or impediment in the wit, but may be
wrought out by fit studies: like as diseases of the body may have
appropriate exercises—bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting
for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the
head and the like; so, if a man's wit be wandering, let him study the
mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so
little, he must begin again; if his wit be not apt to distinguish or
find differences, let him study the school-men, for they are Cymini
sectores; if he be not apt to beat over matters, and to call up
one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers'
cases: so every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
 Studies pass into the character.
It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that
"the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the
good things that belong to adversity are to be admired"—Bona rerum
secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia. Certainly, if miracles be
the command over Nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a
higher speech of his than the other (much too high for a heathen), "It
is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security
of a god "—Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem dei.
This would have done better in poesy, where transcendencies are more
allowed; and the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in
effect the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of the ancient
poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have
some approach to the state of a Christian; "that Hercules, when he went
to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the
length of the great ocean in an earthen pot or pitcher," lively
describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the
flesh through the waves of the world. But, to speak in a mean the
virtue of prosperity is temperance, the virtue of adversity is
fortitude, which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is
the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New,
which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of
God's favor. Yet, even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's
harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil
of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job
than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and
distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in
needle-works and embroideries it is more pleasing to have a lively work
upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work
upon a lightsome ground: judge, therefore, of the pleasure of the heart
by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odors,
most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: for prosperity
doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
 An allegorical meaning.
 Moderately, that is, without poetic figures.
SONG TO CELIA.
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup
I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon did'st only breathe
And sent'st it back to me:
Since when it grows and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.
It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make men better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauty see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.
EPITAPH ON THE COUNTESS OF PEMBROKE.
Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another,
Learn'd and fair and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.
THE THANKLESS MUSE.
[From The Poetaster.]
O this would make a learned and liberal soul
To rive his stainéd quill up to the back,
And damn his long-watched labours to the fire—
Things that were born when none, but the still night
And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes;
Were not his own free merit a more crown,
Unto his travails than their reeling claps.
This 'tis that strikes me silent, seals my lips,
And apts me rather to sleep out my time,
Than I would waste it in contemnéd strifes
With these vile Ibidés, these unclean birds
That make their mouths their clysters, and still purge
From their hot entrails. But I leave the monsters
To their own fate. And, since the Comic Muse
Hath proved so ominous to me, I will try
If tragedy have a more kind aspect:
Her favors in my next I will pursue,
Where, if I prove the pleasure but of one,
So he judicious be, he shall be alone
A theater unto me. Once I'll 'say
To strike the ear of time in those fresh strains,
As shall, beside the cunning of their ground,
Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,
And more despair to imitate their sound.
I, that spend half my nights and all my days
Here in a cell, to get a dark pale face,
To come forth worth the ivy or the bays,
And in this age can hope no other grace—
Leave me! There's something come into my thought
That must and shall be sung high and aloof,
Safe from the wolf's black jaw and the dull ass's hoof.
Plural of ibis.
That is, I will try once for all.
That is, envy and stupidity.
JOHN FLETCHER AND FRANCIS BEAUMONT.
A SONG OF TRUE LOVE DEAD.
[From The Maid's Tragedy.]
Lay a garland on my hearse
Of the dismal yew;
Maidens willow branches bear;
Say I died true:
My love was false, but I was firm
From my hour of birth:
Upon my buried body lie
Lightly, gentle earth.
A SONG OF CRUEL LOVE.
[From Rollo, Duke of Normandy.]
Take, oh take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn,
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn;
But my kisses bring again,
Seals of love, though sealed in vain.
Hide, oh hide those hills of snow,
Which thy frozen bosom bears,
On whose tops the pinks that grow
Are of those that April wears;
But first set my poor heart free,
Bound in those icy chains by thee.
[From The Nice Valor.]
Hence, all your vain delights,
As short as are the nights
Wherein you spend your folly!
There's naught in this life sweet,
If man were wise to see't,
But only melancholy:
O sweetest melancholy!
Welcome, folded arms and fixed eyes,
A sigh that piercing mortifies,
A look that's fastened on the ground,
A tongue chained up without a sound!
Fountain-heads and pathless groves,
Places which pale passion loves,
Moonlight walks when all the fowls
Are warmly housed, save bats and owls,
A midnight bell, a parting groan,
These are the sounds we feed upon;
Then stretch our bones in a still gloomy valley:
Nothing's so dainty sweet as lovely melancholy.
 The first stanza of this song was probably Shakespeare's.
 This should be compared with Milton's Il Penserosa.
CÆSAR'S LAMENT OVER POMPEY.
[From The False One.]
O thou conqueror,
Thou glory of the world once, now the pity:
Thou awe of nations, wherefore didst thou fall thus?
What poor fate followed thee and plucked thee on
To trust thy sacred life to an Egyptian?
The life and light of Rome to a blind stranger
That honorable war ne'er taught a nobleness,
Nor worthy circumstance showed what a man was?
That never heard thy name sung but in banquets
And loose lascivious pleasures? To a boy
That had no faith to comprehend thy greatness,
No study of thy life to know thy goodness? ...
Egyptians, dare you think your high pyrámidës,
Built to out-dure the sun, as you suppose,
Where your unworthy kings lie raked in ashes,
Are monuments fit for him? No, brood of Nilus,
Nothing can cover his high fame but heaven;
No pyramid set off his memories,
But the eternal substance of his greatness,
To which I leave him.
Alas! what boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. "But not the praise,"
Phoebus replied, and touched my trembling ears:
"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies,
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."
THE PLEASURES OF MELANCHOLY.
[From Il Penseroso.]
Sweet bird that shun'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among
I woo, to hear thy even-song;
And, missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the heaven's wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head she bowed,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or, if the air will not permit,
Some still removèd place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy charm
To bless the doors from nightly harm....
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high embowèd roof.
With antique pillars massy-proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high and anthem clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew,
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give;
And I with thee will choose to live.
 Atropos, the fate who cuts the thread of life.
 The watchman's call.
THE PROTECTION OF CONSCIENCE.
Scene: A wild wood; night.
: My brothers, when they saw me wearied out
With this long way, resolving here to lodge
Under the spreading favor of these pines,
Stepped, as they said, to the next thicket-side
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then when the grey-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain.
But where they are, and why they came not back,
Is now the labor of my thoughts. 'Tis likeliest
They had engaged their wandering steps too far;
And envious darkness, ere they could return,
Had stolen them from me. Else, O thievish Night,
Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars
That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear;
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire,
And airy tongues that syllable men's names
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
O, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemished form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistening guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honor unassailed....
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err: there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
INVOCATION TO LIGHT.
[From Paradise Lost.]
Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou
Revisitest not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equalled with me in fate,
I equalled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark,
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
 The gutta serena, or cataract.
[From Paradise Lost.]
He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore: his ponderous shield,
Etherial temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At evening from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdamo, to descry new lands,
Rivers or mountains on her spotty globe.
His spear (to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand)
He walked with, to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On heaven's azure; and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore beside, vaulted with fire.
Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called
His legions, angel-forms, who lay entranced
Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades
High over-arched embower, or scattered sedge
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed
Hath vexed the Red Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcasses
And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrewn,
Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
 A hill near Florence.
ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT.
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O'er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant, that from these may grow
A hundred-fold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
 This sonnet refers to the persecution instituted in 1655
by the Duke of Savoy against the Vaudois Protestants.
 The Pope, who wore the triple crown or tiara.
 The Papacy, with which the Protestant reformers identified
Babylon the Great, the "Scarlet Woman" of Revelation.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
THE VANITY OF MONUMENTS.
[From Urn Burial]
There is no antidote against the opium of time, which temporally
considereth all things. Our fathers find their graves in our short
memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors.
Grave-stones tell truth scarce forty years. Generations pass while some
trees stand, and old families last not three oaks.... The iniquity
of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of
men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the
founder of the pyramids? Herostratus lives, that burnt the temple of
Diana, he is almost lost that built it. Time hath spared the epitaph of
Adrian's horse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our
felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equal
durations and Thersites is like to live as long as Agamemnon. Who
knows whether the best of men be known, or whether there be not more
remarkable persons forgot than any that stand remembered in the known
account of time? Without the favor of the everlasting register, the
first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methusaleh's long life
had been his only chronicle.
Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part must be content to be
as though they had not been, to be found in the register of God, not in
the record of man. Twenty-seven names make up the first story, and the
reported names ever since contain not one living century. The number of
the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far
surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox? Every hour adds
unto that current arithmetic which scarce stands one moment. And since
death must be the Lucina of life, and even pagans could doubt
whether thus to live were to die; since our longest sun sets at right
descensions and makes but winter arches, and, therefore, it cannot be
long before we lie down in darkness and have our light in ashes. Since
the brother of death daily haunts us with dying mementoes, and time
that grows old in itself bids us hope no long duration; diuturnity is a
dream and folly of expectation....
There is nothing strictly immortal but immortality. Whatever hath no
beginning may be confident of no end. All others have a dependent being
and within the reach of destruction, which is the peculiar of that
necessary essence that cannot destroy itself, and the highest strain of
omnipotency, to be so powerfully constituted as not to suffer even from
the power of itself. But the sufficiency of Christian immortality
frustrates all earthly glory, and the quality of either state after
death makes a folly of posthumous memory. God, who can only destroy
our souls, and hath assured our resurrection, either of our bodies or
names hath directly promised no duration. Wherein there is so much of
chance that the boldest expectants have found unhappy frustrations, and
to hold long subsistence seems but a scape in oblivion. But man is
a noble animal, splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave, solemnizing
nativities and deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of
bravery in the infamy of his nature.
 See Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
 That is, bribed, bought off.
 The goddess of childbirth. We must die to be born again.
 That is, the only one who can.
THE CHARACTER OF ZIMRI.
[From Absalom and Achitophel.]
In the first rank of these did Zimri stand,
A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome:
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong,
Was every thing by turns, and nothing long;
But in the course of one revolving moon
Was chymist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon;
Then all for women, painting, rhyming, drinking,
Besides ten thousand freaks that died in thinking,
Blest madman, who could every hour employ
With something new to wish or to enjoy!
Railing and praising were his usual themes,
And both, to show his judgment, in extremes:
So over-violent or over-civil
That every man with him was God or Devil.
In squandering wealth was his peculiar art;
Nothing went unrewarded but desert.
Beggared by fools whom still he found too late,
He had his jest, and they had his estate.
He laughed himself from court; then sought relief
By forming parties, but could ne'er be chief:
For spite of him, the weight of business fell
To Absalom and wise Achitophel.
Thus, wicked but in will, of means bereft,
He left not faction, but of that was left.
This is a satirical
sketch of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham.
Found out, detected.
The Duke of Monmouth and the Earl of Shaftesbury.
THE CHEATS OF HOPE.
When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favor the deceit,
Trust on, and think to-morrow will repay;
To-morrow's falser than the former day.
Lies worse, and while it says we shall be blest
With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
Strange cozenage! none would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain,
And from the dregs of life think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I'm tired of waiting for this chymic gold
Which fools us young and beggars us when old.
 The gold which the
alchemists tried to make from base metals.
THE EMPEROR OF LILLIPUT.
[From Gulliver's Travels.]
He is taller by almost the breadth of my nail than any of his court;
which alone is enough to strike an awe into the beholders. His features
are strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip and arched nose, his
complexion olive, his countenance erect, his body and limbs well
proportioned, all his motions graceful, and his deportment majestic. He
was then past his prime, being twenty-eight years and three quarters
old, of which he had reigned about seven in great felicity, and
generally victorious. For the better convenience of beholding him, I lay
on my side, so that my face was parallel to his, and he stood but three
yards off; however, I have had him since many times in my hand, and
therefore cannot be deceived in the description. His dress was very
plain and simple, and the fashion of it between the Asiatic and the
European; but he had on his head a light helmet of gold, adorned with
jewels and a plume on the crest. He held his sword drawn in his hand to
defend himself, if I should happen to break loose; it was almost three
inches long: the hilt and scabbard were gold enriched with diamonds. His
voice was shrill, but very clear and articulate, and I could distinctly
hear it, when I stood up.
[From Gulliver's Travels.]
One day in much good company, I was asked by a person of quality whether
I had seen any of their Struldbrugs, or immortals? I said I had not,
and desired he would explain to me what he meant by such an appellation,
applied to a mortal creature. He told me that sometimes, though very
rarely, a child happened to be born in a family with a red circular spot
in the forehead, directly over the left eyebrow, which was an infallible
mark that it should never die.... He said these births were so rare that
he did not believe there could be above eleven hundred Struldbrugs of
both sexes in the whole kingdom; of which he computed about fifty in the
metropolis, and among the rest, a young girl born about three years ago;
that these productions were not peculiar to any family, but a mere
effect of chance; and the children of the Struldbrugs themselves were
equally mortal with the rest of the people.... After this preface, he
gave me a particular account of the Struldbrugs among them. He said
they commonly acted like mortals till about thirty years old; after
which, by degrees, they grew melancholy and dejected, increasing in both
till they came to fourscore. This he learned from their own confession;
for otherwise, there not being above two or three of that species born
in an age, they were too few to form a general observation by. When they
came to fourscore years, which is reckoned the extremity of living in
this country, they had not only all the follies and infirmities of other
old men, but many more, which arose from the dreadful prospect of never
dying. They were not only opinionative, peevish, covetous, morose, vain,
talkative, but incapable of friendship and dead to all natural
affection, which never descended below their grandchildren. Envy and
impotent desires are their prevailing passions. But those objects
against which their envy seems principally directed are the vices of the
younger sort and the deaths of the old. By reflecting on the former,
they find themselves cut off from all possibility of pleasure; and
whenever they see a funeral they lament and repine that others are gone
to a harbor of rest, to which they themselves never can hope to arrive.
They have no remembrance of any thing but what they learned and
observed in their youth and middle age, and even that is very imperfect,
And for the truth or particulars of any fact, it is safer to depend on
common tradition than upon their best recollections. The least miserable
among them appear to be those who turn to dotage and entirely lose their
memories; these meet with more pity and assistance, because they want
many bad qualities which abound in others.... At ninety, they lose their
teeth and hair; they have at that age no distinction of taste, but eat
and drink whatever they can get, without relish or appetite. The
diseases they were subject to still continue, without increasing or
diminishing. In talking, they forget the common appellation of things,
and the names of persons, even of those who are their nearest friends
and relatives. For the same reason they never can amuse themselves with
reading, because their memory will not serve to carry them from the
beginning of a sentence to the end; and by this defect they are deprived
of the only entertainment whereof they might otherwise be capable....
They are despised and hated by all sorts of people; when one of them is
born, it is reckoned ominous, and their birth is recorded very
particularly.... They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld; and
the women were homelier than the men Beside the usual deformities in
extreme old age, they acquired an additional ghastliness, in proportion
to their number of years, which is not to be described; and among half a
dozen I soon distinguished which was the eldest, although there was not
above a century or two between them.
A CHARACTER OF ADDISON.
[From the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.]
Peace to all such! but were there one whose fires
True genius kindles and fair fame inspires;
Blest with each talent and each art to please,
And born to write, converse, and live with ease:
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone,
Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne;
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate, for arts that caused himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike;
Alike reserved to blame or to commend,
A timorous foe and a suspicious friend;
Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged;
And so obliging that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little Senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause;
While wits and templars every sentence raise,
And wonder with a foolish face of praise—
Who but must laugh if such a man there be?
Who would not weep if Atticus were he?
AN ORNAMENT TO HER SEX.
[From the Epistle of the Characters of Women.]
See how the world its veterans rewards!
A youth of frolic, an old age of cards;
Fair to no purpose, artful to no end,
Young without lovers, old without a friend;
A fop their passion, but their prize a sot;
Alive, ridiculous, and dead, forgot.
Ah! Friend, to dazzle let the vain design;
To raise the thought and touch the heart be thine!
That charm shall grow, while what fatigues the Ring
Flaunts and goes down, an unregarded thing.
So when the sun's broad beam has tired the sight,
All mild ascends the moon's more sober light,
Serene in virgin majesty she shines,
And unobserved, the glaring orb declines.
Oh! blest with temper, whose unclouded ray
Can make to-morrow cheerful as to-day;
She who can love a sister's charms, or hear
Sighs for a daughter with unwounded ear;
She who ne'er answers till a husband cools,
Or, if she rules him, never shows she rules;
Charms by accepting, by submitting sways,
Yet has her humour most when she obeys;
Let fops or fortune fly which way they will,
Disdains all loss of tickets or Codille;
Spleen, vapours, or small-pox, above them all,
And mistress of herself though china fall....
Be this a woman's fame; with this unblest,
Toasts live a scorn, and queens may die a jest.
This Phoebus promised (I forget the year)
When those blue eyes first opened on the sphere;
Ascendant Phoebus watched that hour with care,
Averted half your parents' simple prayer;
And gave you beauty, but denied the pelf
That buys your sex a tyrant o'er itself.
The generous God who wit and gold refines,
And ripens spirits as he ripens mines,
Kept dross for duchesses, the world shall know it,
To you gave sense, good-humour, and a poet.
 A reference to Addison's tragedy of Cato.
 Young lawyers resident in the
temple. See Spenser's Prothalamion.
 Martha Blount, a dear friend of the poet's.
 The fashionable promenade in Hyde Park.
 The "pool" in the game of ombre.
SIGNOR NICOLINI AND THE LION.
[From the Spectator.]
There is nothing that of late years has afforded matter of greater
amusement to the town than Signor Nicolini's combat with a lion in the
Haymarket, which has been very often exhibited to the general
satisfaction of most of the nobility and gentry in the kingdom of Great
Britain.... But before I communicate my discoveries I must acquaint the
reader that upon my walking behind the scenes last winter, as I was
thinking on something else, I accidentally jostled against a monstrous
animal that extremely startled me, and, upon my nearer survey of it,
appeared to be a lion rampant. The lion, seeing me very much surprised,
told me in a gentle voice that I might come by him if I pleased; "for,"
says he, "I do not intend to hurt any body." I thanked him very kindly
and passed by him, and in a little time after saw him leap upon the
stage and act his part with very great applause. It has been observed by
several that the lion has changed his manner of acting twice or thrice
since his first appearance, which will not seem strange when I acquaint
the reader that the lion has been changed upon the audience three
The first lion was a candle-snuffer, who, being a fellow of a testy,
choleric temper, overdid his part, and would not suffer himself to be
killed so easily as he ought to have done; besides, it was observed of
him that he grew more surly every time he came out of the lion; and
having dropt some words in ordinary conversation, as if he had not
fought his best, and that he suffered himself to be thrown upon his back
in the scuffle, and that he would wrestle with Mr. Nicolini for what he
pleased, out of his lion's skin, it was thought proper to discard him;
and it is verily believed to this day that had he been brought upon the
stage another time he would certainly have done mischief. Besides, it
was objected against the first lion that he reared himself so high upon
his hinder paws, and walked in so erect a position, that he looked more
like an old man than a lion.
The second lion was a tailor by trade, who belonged to the playhouse,
and had the character of a mild and peaceful man in his profession. If
the former was too furious, this was too sheepish, for his part;
inasmuch that, after a short, modest walk upon the stage, he would fall
at the first touch of 'Hydaspes' without grappling with him and
giving him an opportunity of showing his variety of Italian trips; it is
said, indeed, that he once gave him a rip in his flesh-colored doublet;
but this was only to make work for himself in his private character of a
tailor. I must not omit that it was this second lion who treated me with
so much humanity behind the scenes.
The acting lion at present is, as I am informed, a country gentleman who
does it for his diversion, but desires his name may be concealed. He
says very handsomely, in his own excuse, that he does not act for gain,
that he indulges an innocent pleasure in it, and that it is better to
pass away an evening in this manner than in gaming and drinking; but at
the same time says, with a very agreeable raillery upon himself, that if
his name should be known the ill-natured world might call him the ass
in the lion's skin. This gentleman's temper is made out of such a happy
mixture of the mild and the choleric that he outdoes both his
predecessors, and has drawn together greater audiences than have been
known in the memory of man.
I must not conclude my narrative without taking notice of a groundless
report that has been raised to a gentleman's disadvantage, of whom I
must declare myself an admirer; namely, that Signor Nicolini and the
lion have been seen sitting peaceably by one another and smoking a pipe
together behind the scenes, by which their common enemies would
insinuate that it is but a sham combat which they represent upon the
stage; but upon inquiry I find that if any such correspondence has
passed between them it was not till the combat was over, when the lion
was to be looked upon as dead, according to the received rules of the
drama. Besides, this is what is practiced every day in Westminster Hall,
where nothing is more usual than to see a couple of lawyers, who have
been tearing each other to pieces in the court, embracing one another as
soon as they are out of it.
 In the opera of Hydaspes, presented at the Haymarket
in 1710, the hero, whose part was taken by Signor Nicolini, kills a lion in
DETACHED PASSAGES FROM BOSWELL'S LIFE.
We talked of the education of children, and I asked him what he thought
was best to teach them first. Johnson: Sir, it is no matter what you
teach them first, any more than what leg you shall put into your
breeches first. Sir, while you are considering which of two things you
should teach your child first, another boy has learnt them both.
Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is
not done well, but you are surprised to see it done at all.
A gentleman who had been very unhappy in marriage married immediately
after his wife died. Johnson said it was a triumph of hope over
He would not allow Scotland to derive any credit from Lord Mansfield,
for he was educated in England. "Much," said he, "may be made of a
Scotchman if he be caught young." Johnson: An old tutor of a college
said to one of his pupils, "Read over your compositions, and wherever
you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine strike it
out." A gentleman who introduced his brother to Dr. Johnson was earnest
to recommend him to the doctor's notice, which he did by saying: "When
we have sat together some time you'll find my brother grow very
"Sir," said Johnson, "I can wait."
"Greek, sir," said he, "is like lace; every man gets as much of it as he
Lord Lucan tells a very good story, that when the sale of Thrale's
brewery was going forward, Johnson appeared bustling about with an
inkhorn and pen in his button-hole, like an exciseman, and on being
asked what he really considered to be the value of the property which
was to be disposed of, answered, "We are not here to sell a parcel of
boilers and vats, but the potentiality of growing rich beyond the dreams
Johnson: My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. You may talk as
other people do; you may say to a man, "Sir, I am your most humble
servant." You are not his most humble servant. You may say, "These are
bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times." You
don't mind the times. You tell a man, "I am sorry you had such bad
weather the last day of your journey and were so much wet." You don't
care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner;
it is a mode of talking in society, but don't think foolishly.
A lively saying of Dr. Johnson to Miss Hannah More, who had expressed a
wonder that the poet who had written Paradise Lost should write such
poor sonnets: "Milton, madam, was a genius that could cut a colossus
from a rock, but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones."
A gentleman having said that a congé d'elire has not, perhaps, the
force of a command, but may be considered only as a strong
recommendation. "Sir," replied Johnson, "it is such a recommendation as
if I should throw you out of a two pair of stairs window, and recommend
you to fall soft."
Happening one day to mention Mr. Flaxman, the doctor replied, "Let me
hear no more of him, sir; that is the fellow who made the index to my
Ramblers, and set down the name of Milton thus: 'Milton, Mr, John.'"
Goldsmith said that he thought he could write a good fable, mentioned
the simplicity which that kind of composition requires, and observed
that, in most fables, the animals introduced seldom talk in character.
"For instance," said he, "the fable of the little fishes, who saw birds
fly over their heads, and, envying them, petitioned Jupiter to be
changed into birds. The skill," continued he, "consists in making them
talk like little fishes." While he indulged himself in this fanciful
reverie, he observed Johnson shaking his sides and laughing. Upon which
he smartly proceeded, "Why, Dr. Johnson, this is not so easy as you seem
to think; for if you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk
He expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to visiting the wall
of China. I caught it for the moment, and said I really believed I
should go and see the wall of China, had I not children of whom it was
my duty to take care. "Sir," said he, "by doing so, you would do what
would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would
be a luster reflected upon them from your spirit and curiosity. They
would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to
view the wall of China—I am serious, sir."
THE VILLAGE PASTOR AND SCHOOL-MASTER.
[From The Deserted Village.]
Near yonder copse, where once the garden smiled,
And still where many a garden flower grows wild;
There, where a few torn shrubs the place disclose,
The village preacher's modest mansion rose.
A man he was to all the country dear,
And passing rich with forty pounds a year;
Remote from towns he ran his godly race,
Nor e'er had changed, nor wished to change, his place.
Unskillful he to fawn or seek for power
By doctrines fashioned to the varying hour:
Far other aims his heart had learned to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.
His house was known to all the vagrant train—
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain;
The long-remembered beggar was his guest,
Whose beard, descending, swept his aged breast.
The ruined spendthrift, now no longer proud,
Claimed kindred there, and had his claims allowed;
The broken soldier, kindly bade to stay,
Sat by his fire and talked the night away;
Wept o'er his wounds, or tales of sorrow done,
Shouldered his crutch and showed how fields were won.
Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forgot their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave e'er charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side....
At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorned the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools who came to scoff remained to pray.
The service past, around the pious man,
With steady zeal, each honest rustic ran;
E'en children followed with endearing wile
And plucked his gown to share the good man's smile.
His ready smile a parent's warmth expressed,
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distressed;
To them his heart, his love, his griefs, were given,
But all his serious thoughts had rest in heaven.
As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.
Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitable gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school.
A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew.
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee
At all his jokes (for many a joke had he);
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal, tidings when he frowned
Yet he was kind, or if severe in aught,
The love he bore for learning was his fault.
The village all declared how much he knew—
'Twas certain he could write and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, times and tides presage,
And e'en the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill,
For, e'en though vanquished, he could argue still,
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.
THE DECAY OF LOYALTY.
[From Reflections on the Revolution in France.]
It is sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France,
then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this
orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw
her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere
she just began to move in; glittering like the morning star, full of
life and splendor and joy. O, what a revolution! and what a heart must I
have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall. Little
did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of
enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged
to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom;
little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen
upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of
cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from the
scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the
age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators
has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never,
never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that
proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the
heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an
exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of
nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It
is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which
felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage, whilst it mitigated
ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice
itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.... On the scheme
of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and
muddy understandings, and which is as void of solid wisdom as it is
destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be supported only by
their own terms, and by the concern which each individual may find in
them from his own private speculations, or can spare to them from his
own private interests. In the groves of their academy, at the end of
every vista, you see nothing but the gallows. Nothing is left which
engages the affections on the part of the commonwealth. On the
principles of this mechanic philosophy, our institutions can never be
embodied, if I may use the expresssion, in persons; so as to create in
us love, veneration, admiration, or attachment. But that sort of reason
which banishes the affections is incapable of filling their place. These
public affections, combined with manners, are required sometimes as
supplements, sometimes as corrections, always as aids, to law. The
precept given by a wise man, as well as a great critic, for the
construction of poems, is equally true as to states. Non satis est
pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto. There ought to be a system of
manners in every nation which a well-formed mind would be disposed to
relish. To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.
 Marie Antoinette.
ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF ETON COLLEGE.
Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry's holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor's heights th' expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead, survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way:
Ah happy hills, ah pleasing shade,
Ah fields beloved in vain,
Where once my careless childhood strayed,
A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,
As waving fresh their gladsome wing
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
To breathe a second spring.
Say, father Thames, for thou hast seen
Full many a sprightly race,
Disporting on thy margent green,
The paths of pleasure trace,
Who, foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm thy glassy wave?
The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle's speed,
Or urge the flying ball?
While some, on earnest business bent,
Their morning labors ply
'Gainst graver hours, that bring constraint
To sweeten liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign,
And unknown regions dare discry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
And snatch a fearful joy.
Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
Less pleasing when possest;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
The sunshine of the breast:
Theirs buxom health of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever new,
And lively cheer of vigour born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light,
That fly th' approach of morn.
Alas! regardless of their doom
The little victims play.
No sense have they of ill to come,
Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet see how all around them wait
The ministers of human fate,
And black Misfortune's baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey the murth'rous band!
Ah, tell them they are men!
These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth,
That only gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged, comfortless Despair,
And Sorrow's piercing dart.
Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
Then whirl the wretch from high,
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
And grinning Infamy,
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness' altered eye,
That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
And moody Madness laughing wild
Amid severest woe.
Lo in the vale of years beneath
A grisly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every laboring sinew strains,
Those in the deeper vitals rage:
Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
And slow consuming Age.
To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemned alike to groan,
The tender for another's pain,
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies,
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
 Henry VI., founder of Eton College.
FROM LINES ON THE RECEIPT OF HIS MOTHER'S PICTURE.
O, that those lips had language! Life has passed
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smile I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
"Grieve not, my child; chase all thy fears away!"
My mother! When I learnt that thou wast dead,
Say, wast thou conscious of the tears I shed?
Hovered thy spirit o'er thy sorrowing son,
Wretch even then, life's journey just begun?
I heard the bell tolled on thy burial day;
I saw the hearse that bore thee slow away;
And, turning from my nursery window, drew
A long, long sigh, and wept a last adieu!
Thy maidens, grieved themselves at my concern,
Oft gave me promise of thy quick return.
What ardently I wished I long believed,
And, disappointed still, was still deceived;
By expectation every day beguiled,
Dupe of to-morrow even from a child.
Thus many a sad to-morrow came and went,
Till, all my stock of infant sorrow spent,
I learnt at last submission to my lot;
But, though I less deplored thee, ne'er forgot.
[From The Task.]
Now stir the fire and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steaming column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in....
O winter! ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet-like ashes filled,
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheek
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapped in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way;
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seemest,
And dreaded as thou art. Thou holdest the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gathering, at short notice, in one group
The family dispersed, and fixing thought,
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening know.
MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN.
[From The Task.]
O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade,
Where rumor of oppression and deceit,
Of unsuccessful or successful war
Might never reach me more! My ear is pained,
My soul is sick with every day's report
Of wrong or outrage with which earth is filled.
There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
As market-days are wearing late
An' folk begin to tak the gate;
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, and styles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
This truth fand honest Tam O'Shanter,
As he frae Ayr ae night did canter,
(Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses,
For honest men and bonnie lasses.)
O Tam! hadst thou but been sae wise
As ta'en thy ain wife Kate's advice!
She tauld thee weel thou wast a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum;
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou wasna sober;
That ilka melder, wi' the miller,
Thou sat as lang as thou had siller;
That every naig was ca'd a shoe on,
The smith and thee gat roaring fou on;
That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday,
Thou drank wi' Kirten Jean till Monday.
She prophesy'd that, late or soon,
Thou would be found deep drowned in Doon,
Or catch'd wi' warlocks in the mirk,
By Alloway's auld haunted kirk.
Ah, gentle dames! it gars me greet,
To think how monie counsels sweet,
How monie lengthened, sage advices
The husband frae the wife despises! . .
Nae man can tether time or tide;
The hour approaches Tam maun ride;
That hour, o' night's black arch the key-stane,
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in;
And sic a night he taks the road in,
As ne'er poor sinner was abroad in.
The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallowed;
Loud, deep, and lang the thunder bellowed:
That night, a child might understand,
The Deil had business on his hand.
(Mounted on his gray mare Maggie, Tarn pursues his homeward way in
safety till, reaching Kirk-Alloway, he sees the windows in a blaze, and,
looking in, beholds a dance of witches, with Old Nick playing the
fiddle. Most of the witches are any thing but inviting, but there is one
winsome wench, called Nannie, who dances in a "cutty-sark," or short
But here my muse her wing maun cower;
Sic flights are far beyond her power;
To sing how Nannie lap and flang
(A souple jade she was, and strang),
And how Tam stood like are bewitched,
And thought his very e'en enriched.
Even Satan glowered and fidged fu' fain,
And hotch'd and blew wi' might and main;
Till first ae caper, syne anither,
Tam tint his reason a' thegither,
And roars out, "Weel done, Cutty-sark!"
And in an instant all was dark:
And scarcely had he Maggie rallied,
When out the hellish legion sallied.
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke,
When plundering herds assail their byke;
As open pussie's mortal foes,
When, pop! she starts before their nose;
As eager runs the market-crowd
When "Catch the thief!" resounds aloud.
So Maggie runs, the witches follow
Wi' monie an eldritch skreech and hollow,
Ah, Tam! ah, Tam! thou'll get thy fairin'!
In hell they'll roast thee like a herrin'!
In vain thy Kate awaits thy comin':
Kate soon will be a woefu' woman.
Now do thy speedy utmost Meg,
And win the key-stane of the brig;
There at them thou thy tail may toss,
A running stream they dare na cross,
But ere the key-stane she could make,
The fient a tale she had to shake,
For Nannie, far before the rest,
Hard upon noble Maggie pressed,
And flew at Tam wi' furious ettle;
But little wist she Maggie's mettle—
Ae spring brought aff her master hale,
But left behind her ain gray tail;
The carlin claught her by the rump,
And left poor Maggie scarce a stump.
 Peddler fellows.
 Road home.
 Gaps in a hedge.
 Every time corn was sent to the mill.
 Makes me weep.
 Leaped and flung.
 Stared and fidgeted with eagerness.
 Hitched about.
John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.
John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' are anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers—
For this, for every thing, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF THE SOUL.
[From Ode on the Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early
Our birth is but a sleep, and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
Heaven lies about us in our infancy:
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy;
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy.
The youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day....
O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benedictions: not, indeed,
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast—
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a creature
Moving about in worlds not realized,
High instincts, before which our mortal nature
Did tremble, like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal silence: truths that wake
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavor,
Nor man nor boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy.
Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither;
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise,
And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye:
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
THE SOLITARY REAPER.
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travelers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands.
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate'er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending,
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;
I listened, motionless and still,
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
SKATING AT NIGHT.
[From the Prelude.]
So through the darkness and the cold we flew,
And not a voice was idle; with the din
Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;
The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while far distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the stars
Eastward were sparking clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.
Not seldom from the uproar I retired
Into a silent bay, or sportively
Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,
To cut across the reflex of a star
That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed
Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes,
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me—even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round!
Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep.
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.
THE SONG OF THE SPIRITS.
[From The Ancient Mariner.]
Sometimes, a-dropping from the sky,
I heard the skylark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!
And now 'twas like all instruments,
And now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel's song
That makes the heavens be mute.
It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.
THE LOVE OF ALL CREATURES.
[From the same.]
O wedding guest, this soul hath been
Alone on a wide, wide sea:
So lonely 'twas that God himself
Scarce seemèd there to be.
O sweeter than the marriage feast,
'Tis sweeter far to me,
To walk together to the kirk
With a goodly company.
To walk together to the kirk,
And all together pray,
While each to his great Father bends,
Old men and babes and loving friends,
And youths and maidens gay.
Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou wedding guest;
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
ESTRANGEMENT OF FRIENDS.
Alas! they had been friends in youth
But whispering tongues can poison truth,
And constancy lives in realms above,
And life is thorny and youth is vain,
And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it fared, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir Leoline.
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart's best brother;
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining.
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs that had been rent asunder:
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder
Can wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once has been.
[From The Lay of the Last Minstrel.]
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said.
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
O Caledonia! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand?
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems as, to me, of all bereft
Sole friends thy woods and streams are left:
And thus I love them better still
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my withered cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot's stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The bard may draw his parting groan.
SUNSET ON THE BORDER.
Day set on Norham's castled steep
And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,
And Cheviot's mountains lone:
The battled towers, the donjon keep,
The loop-hole grates where captives
The flanking walls that round it sweep,
In yellow luster shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky
Seemed forms of giant height:
Their armor; as it caught the rays,
Flashed back again the western blaze,
In lines of dazzling light.
St. George's banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray
Less bright, and less was flung;
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the donjon tower,
So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,
The castle gates were barred;
Above the gloomy portal arch,
Timing his footsteps to a march,
The warden kept his guard;
Low humming, as he passed along,
Some ancient border-gathering song.
Proud Maisie is in the wood
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush
Singing so rarely.
"Tell me, thou bonny bird,
When shall I marry me?"
—"When six braw gentlemen
Kirkward shall carry ye."
"Who makes the bridal bed,
Birdie, say truly?"
"The gray-headed sexton
That delves the grave duly.
"The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
Shall light thee steady;
The owl from the steeple sing
Welcome, proud lady."
 Brave, fine.
PIBROCH OF DONUIL DHU.
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, Pibroch of Donuil,
Wake thy wild voice anew, summon Clan-Conuil.
Come away, come away, hark to the summons!
Come in your war array, gentles and commons.
Come from deep glen and from mountain so rocky,
The war-pipe and pennon are at Inverlochy.
Come every hill-plaid and true heart that wears one,
Come every steel blade and strong hand that bears one.
Leave untended the herd, the flock without shelter;
Leave the corpse uninterred, the bride at the altar;
Leave the deer, leave the steer, leave nets and barges:
Come with your fighting gear, broadswords and targes.
Come as the winds come when forests are rended;
Come as the waves come when navies are stranded;
Faster come, faster come; faster and faster,
Chief, vassal, page and groom, tenant and master.
Fast they come, fast they come; see how they gather!
Wide waves the eagle plume blended with heather.
Cast your plaids, draw your blades, forward each man set!
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, knell for the onset!
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
LINES TO AN INDIAN AIR.
I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low
And the stars are shining bright.
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Has led me—who knows how?—
To thy chamber-window, sweet.
The wandering airs they faint
On the dark, the silent stream;
The champak odours fail
Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
The nightingale's complaint,
It dies upon her heart,
As I must die on thine,
O beloved as thou art!
O lift me from the grass!
I die, I faint, I fail!
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas!
My heartbeats loud and fast:
O! press it close to thine again,
Where it will break at last.
[From Lines Written in the Euganean Hills.]
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
Flies, as once before it flew,
O'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 abandoned 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.
O world! O life! O time!
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before,
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more—O, never more!
Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight;
Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more—O, never more!
THE POET'S DREAM.
[From Prometheus Unbound.]
On a poet's lips I slept
Dreaming like a love-adept
In the sound his breathing kept.
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses,
But feeds on the aerial kisses
Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom
The lake-reflected sun illume
The yellow bees in the ivy bloom,
Nor heed nor see what things they be;
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man,
Nurslings of immortality.
GEORGE GORDON BYRON.
ELEGY ON THYRZA.
And thou art dead, as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth:
And form so soft and charms so rare,
Too soon returned to earth:
Though earth received them in her bed,
And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
In carelessness or mirth,
There is an eye which could not brook
A moment on that grave to look.
I will not ask where thou liest low
Nor gaze upon the spot;
There flowers or weeds at will may grow,
So I behold them not:
It is enough for me to prove
That what I loved and long must love
Like common earth can rot;
To me there needs no stone to tell
'Tis nothing that I loved so well.
Yet did I love thee to the last
As fervently as thou,
Who didst not change through all the past
And canst not alter now.
The love where death has set his seal
Nor age can chill, nor rival steal,
Nor falsehood disavow:
And, what were worse, thou canst not see
Or wrong, or change, or fault in me.
The better days of life were ours;
The worst can be but mine:
The sun that cheers, the storm that lowers,
Shall never more be thine.
The silence of that dreamless sleep
I envy now too much to weep,
Nor need I to repine
That all those charms have passed away,
I might have watched through long decay.
The flower in ripened bloom unmatched
Must fall the earliest prey;
Though by no hand untimely snatched,
The leaves must drop away:
And yet it were a greater grief
To watch it withering leaf by leaf,
Than see it plucked to-day;
Since earthly eye but ill can bear
To trace the change to foul from fair.
I know not if I could have borne
To see thy beauties fade;
The night that followed such a morn
Had worn a deeper shade:
Thy day without a cloud hath past,
And thou wert lovely to the last,
Extinguished, not decayed;
As stars that shoot along the sky
Shine brightest as they fall from high.
As once I wept, if I could weep,
My tears might well be shed,
To think I was not near to keep
One vigil o'er thy bed;
To gaze, how fondly! on thy face,
To fold thee in a faint embrace,
Uphold thy drooping head;
And show that love, however vain,
Nor thou nor I can feel again.
Yet how much less it were to gain,
Though thou hast left me free,
The loveliest things that still remain,
Than thus remember thee!
The all of thine that cannot die
Through dark and dread Eternity,
Returns again to me,
And more thy buried love endears
Than aught, except its living years.
THE BALL AT BRUSSELS ON THE NIGHT BEFORE WATERLOO.
[From Childe Harold.]
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered there
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men:
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage-bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it? No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street.
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined!
No sleep till morn when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet—
But hark! that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! arm! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!...
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated: who could guess
If evermore should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise?
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering, with white lips, "The foe! They come! they come!"
And wild and high the "Cameron's gathering" rose,
The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard, and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instils
The stirring memory of a thousand years;
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears.
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave—alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow,
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valor rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.
ODE ON A GRECIAN URN.
Thou still unravished bride of quietness!
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme;
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loath?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet; but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet do not grieve:
She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss,
Forever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And happy melodist, unwearied
Forever piping songs forever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
Forever warm and still to be enjoyed,
Forever panting and forever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high sorrowful and cloyed,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk this pious morn?
Ah! little town, thy streets forever more
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate can e'er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty"—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
[From The Eve of St. Agnes.]
Out went the taper as she hurried in;
Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died;
She closed the door, she panted, all akin
To spirits of the air and visions wide;
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
But to her heart her heart was voluble,
Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled in her dell.
A casement high and triple-arched there was,
All garlanded with carven imageries
Of fruits and flowers and bunches of knot-grass,
And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes
As are the tiger-moth's deep-damasked wings;
And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens and kings.
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together pressed,
And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
She seemed a splendid angel, newly dressed,
Save wings, for heaven: Porphyro grew faint:
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.
BOB SAWYER'S BACHELOR PARTY.
[From Pickwick Papers.]
After supper another jug of punch was put on the table, together with a
paper of cigars and a couple of bottles of spirits. Then there was an
awful pause; and this awful pause was occasioned by a very common
occurrence in this sort of places, but a very embarrassing one,
The fact is that the girl was washing the glasses. The establishment
boasted four; we do not record this circumstance as at all derogatory to
Mrs. Raddle, for there was never a lodging-house yet that was not short
of glasses. The landlady's glasses were little thin blown-glass
tumblers, and those which had been borrowed from the public-house were
great, dropsical, bloated articles, each supported on a huge gouty leg.
This would have been in itself sufficient to have possessed the company
with the real state of affairs; but the young woman of all work had
prevented the possibility of any misconception arising in the mind of
any gentleman upon the subject, by forcibly dragging every man's glass
away long before he had finished his beer, and audibly stating, despite
the winks and interruptions of Mr. Bob Sawyer, that it was to be
conveyed down-stairs and washed forthwith....
The sight of the tumblers restored Bob Sawyer to a degree of equanimity
which he had not possessed since his interview with his landlady. His
face brightened up, and he began to feel quite convivial.
"Now, Betsy," said Mr. Bob Sawyer, with great suavity, and dispersing,
at the same time, the tumultuous little mob of glasses that the girl had
collected in the center of the table; "Now, Betsy, the warm water; be
brisk, there's a good girl."
"You can't have no warm water," replied Betsy.
"No warm water!" exclaimed Mr. Bob Sawyer.
"No," said the girl, with a shake of the head which expressed a more
decided negative than the most copious language could have conveyed.
"Missis Raddle said you wasn't to have none."
The surprise depicted on the countenances of his guests imparted new
courage to the host.
"Bring up the warm water instantly—instantly!" said Mr. Bob Sawyer,
with desperate sternness.
"No; I can't," replied the girl. "Missis Raddle raked out the kitchen
fire afore she went to bed, and locked up the kettle."
"O, never mind, never mind. Pray don't disturb yourself about such a
trifle," said Mr. Pickwick, observing the conflict of Bob Sawyer's
passions, as depicted on his countenance, "cold water will do very
"O, admirably," said Mr. Benjamin Allen.
"My landlady is subject to slight attacks of mental derangement,"
remarked Bob Sawyer, with a ghastly smile; "I fear I must give her
"No, don't," said Ben Allen.
"I fear I must," said Bob, with heroic firmness. "I'll pay her what I
owe her and give her warning to-morrow morning."
Poor fellow! How devoutly he wished he could!... It was at the end of
the chorus to the first verse that Mr. Pickwick held up his hand in a
listening attitude, and said, as soon as silence was restored, "Hush! I
beg your pardon. I thought I heard somebody calling from up-stairs."
A profound silence immediately ensued, and Mr. Bob Sawyer was observed
to turn pale.
"I think I hear it now," said Mr. Pickwick. "Have the goodness to open
The door was no sooner opened than all doubt on the subject was removed.
"Mr. Sawyer—Mr. Sawyer," screamed a voice from the two-pair landing.
"It's my landlady," said Bob Sawyer, looking round him with great
dismay. "Yes, Mrs. Raddle."
"What do you mean by this, Mr. Sawyer?" replied the voice, with great
shrillness and rapidity of utterance. "'Aint it enough to be swindled
out of one's rent, and money lent out of pocket besides, and abused and
insulted by your friends that dares to call themselves men, without
having the house turned out of window, and noise enough made to bring
the fire-engines here at two o'clock in the morning? Turn them wretches
"You ought to be ashamed of yourselves," said the voice of Mr. Raddle,
which appeared to proceed from beneath some distant bed-clothes.
"Ashamed of themselves!" said Mrs. Raddle. "Why don't you go down and
knock 'em every one down-stairs? You would, if you was a man."
"I should if I was a dozen men, my dear," replied Mr. Raddle,
pacifically; "but they've rather the advantage of me in numbers, my
"Ugh, you coward!" replied Mrs. Raddle, with supreme contempt. "Do you
mean to turn them wretches out, or not, Mr. Sawyer?"
"They're going, Mrs. Raddle, they're going," said the miserable Bob.
"I'm afraid you'd better go," said Mr. Bob Sawyer to his friends. "I
thought you were making too much noise."
"It's a very unfortunate thing," said the prim man. "Just as we were
getting so comfortable, too." The fact was that the prim man was just
beginning to have a dawning recollection of the story he had forgotten.
"It's hardly to be borne," said the prim man, looking round; "hardly to
be borne, is it?"
"Not to be endured," replied Jack Hopkins; "let's have the other verse,
Bob; come, here goes."
"No, no, Jack, don't," interposed Bob Sawyer; "it's a capital song, but
I am afraid we had better not have the other verse. They are very
violent people, the people of the house."
"Shall I step up-stairs and pitch into the landlord?" inquired Hopkins,
"or keep on ringing the bell, or go and groan on the staircase? You may
command me, Bob."
"I am very much indebted to you for your friendship and good-nature,
Hopkins," said the wretched Mr. Bob Sawyer, "but I am of opinion that
the best plan to avoid any farther dispute is for us to break up at
"Now, Mr. Sawyer," screamed the shrill voice of Mrs. Raddle, "are them
"They're only looking for their hats, Mrs. Raddle," said Bob; "they are
"Going!" said Mrs. Raddle, thrusting her night-cap over the bannisters,
just as Mr. Pickwick, followed by Mr. Tupman, emerged from the
sitting-room. "Going! What did they ever come for."
"My dear ma'am," remonstrated Mr. Pickwick, looking up.
"Get along with you, you old wretch!" replied Mrs. Raddle, hastily
withdrawing her night-cap. "Old enough to be his grandfather, you
villain! You're worse than any of 'em."
Mr. Pickwick found it in vain to protest his innocence, so hurried
down-stairs into the street, whither he was closely followed by Mr.
Tupman, Mr. Winkle, and Mr. Snodgrass.
WILLIAM MAKEPIECE THACKERAY.
BECKY GOES TO COURT AND DINES AT GAUNT HOUSE.
[From Vanity Fair.]
The particulars of Becky's costume were in the newspapers—feathers,
lappets, superb diamonds, and all the rest. Lady Crackenbury read the
paragraph in bitterness of spirit, and discoursed to her followers about
the airs which that woman was giving herself. Mrs. Bute Crawley and her
young ladies in the country had a copy of the Morning Post from town,
and gave a vent to their honest indignation. "If you had been
sandy-haired, green-eyed, and a French rope-dancer's daughter," Mrs.
Bute said to her eldest girl (who, on the contrary, was a very swarthy,
short, and snub-nosed young lady), "you might have had superb diamonds,
forsooth, and have been presented at court by your cousin, the Lady
Jane. But you're only a gentlewoman, my poor dear child. You have only
some of the best blood in England in your veins, and good principles and
piety for your portion. I myself, the wife of a baronet's younger
brother, too, never thought of such a thing as going to court—nor would
other people if good Queen Charlotte had been alive." In this way the
worthy rectoress consoled herself; and her daughters sighed, and sat
over the Peerage all night....
When the ladies of Gaunt House were at breakfast that morning Lord
Steyne (who took his chocolate in private, and seldom disturbed the
females of his household, or saw them except upon public days, or when
they crossed each other in the hall, or when from his pit-box at the
opera he surveyed them in their box in the grand tier)—his lordship, we
say, appeared among the ladies and the children, who were assembled over
the tea and toast, and a battle royal ensued apropos of Rebecca.
"My Lady Steyne," he said, "I want to see the list for your dinner on
Friday; and I want you, if you please, to write a card for Colonel and
"Blanche writes them," Lady Steyne said, in a flutter. "Lady Gaunt
"I will not write to that person," Lady Gaunt said, a tall and stately
lady, who looked up for an instant and then down again after she had
spoken. It was not good to meet Lord Steyne's eyes for those who had
"Send the children out of the room. Go!" said he, pulling at the
bell-rope. The urchins, always frightened before him, retired; their
mother would have followed too. "Not you." he said. "You stop."
"My Lady Steyne," he said, "once more, will you have the goodness to go
to the desk and write that card for your dinner on Friday?"
"My Lord, I will not be present at it," Lady Gaunt said; "I will go
"I wish you would, and stay there. You will find the bailiffs at
Bare-acres very pleasant company; and I shall be freed from lending
money to your relations, and from your own damned tragedy airs. Who are
you, to give orders here? You have no money. You've got no brains. You
were here to have children, and you have not had any. Gaunt's tired of
you; and George's wife is the only person in the family who doesn't wish
you were dead. Gaunt would marry again if you were."
"I wish I were," her ladyship answered, with tears and rage in her eyes.
"You, forsooth, must give yourself airs of virtue; while my wife, who is
an immaculate saint, as every body knows, and never did wrong in her
life, has no objection to meet my young friend, Mrs. Crawley. My Lady
Steyne knows that appearances are sometimes against the best of women;
that lies are often told about the most innocent of them. Pray, madam,
shall I tell you some little anecdotes about my Lady Bareacres, your
"You may strike me if you like, sir, or hit any cruel blow," Lady Gaunt
said. To see his wife and daughter suffering always put his lordship
into a good humor.
"My sweet Blanche," he said, "I am a gentleman, and never lay my hand
upon a woman, save in the way of kindnesss. I only wish to correct
little faults in your character. You women are too proud, and sadly lack
humility, as Father Mole, I'm sure, would tell my Lady Steyne if he were
here. You musn't give yourselves airs: you must be meek and humble, my
blessings. For all Lady Steyne knows, this calumniated, simple,
good-humored Mrs. Crawley is quite innocent—even more innocent than
herself. Her husband's character is not good, but it is as good as
Bareacres's, who has played a little and not payed a great deal, who
cheated you out of the only legacy you ever had, and left you a pauper
on my hands. And Mrs. Crawley is not very well born; but she is not
worse than Fanny's illustrious ancestor, the first de la Jones."
"The money which I brought into the family, sir," Lady George cried
"You purchased a contingent reversion with it," the marquis said,
darkly. "If Gaunt dies, your husband may come to his honors; your little
boys may inherit them, and who knows what besides? In the meanwhile,
ladies, be as proud and virtuous as you like abroad, but don't give me
any airs. As for Mrs. Crawley's character, I sha'n't demean myself or
that most spotless and perfectly irreproachable lady, by even hinting
that it even requires a defense. You will be pleased to receive her with
the utmost cordiality, as you will receive all persons whom I present in
this house. This house?" He broke out with a laugh. "Who is the master
of it, and what is it? This temple of virtue belongs to me. And if I
invite all Newgate or all Bedlam here, by----they shall be welcome."
After this vigorous allocution, to one of which sort Lord Steyne treated
his "Hareem" whenever symptoms of insubordination appeared in his
household, the crestfallen women had nothing for it but to obey. Lady
Gaunt wrote the invitation which his lordship required, and she and her
mother-in-law drove in person, and with bitter and humiliated hearts, to
leave the cards on Mrs. Rawdon, the reception of which caused that
innocent woman so much pleasure.
PASSAGES FROM ADAM BEDE.
It was a wood of beeches and limes, with here and there a light,
silver-stemmed birch—just the sort of wood most haunted by the nymphs;
you see their white sun-lit limbs gleaming athwart the boughs or peeping
from behind the smooth-sweeping outline of a tall lime; you hear their
soft liquid laughter—but if you look with a too curious sacrilegious
eye they vanish behind the silvery beeches, they make you believe that
their voice was only a running brooklet, perhaps they metamorphose
themselves into a tawny squirrel that scampers away and mocks you from
the topmost bough. Not a grove with measured grass or rolled gravel for
you to tread upon, but with narrow, hollow-shaped earthy paths, edged
with faint dashes of delicate moss—paths which look as if they were
made by the free will of the trees and underwood, moving reverently
aside to look at the tall queen of the white-footed nymphs.
There are various orders of beauty, causing men to make fools of
themselves in various styles, from the desperate to the sheepish; but
there is one order of beauty which seems made to turn the heads not only
of men, but of all intelligent mammals, even of women. It is a beauty
like that of kittens, or very small downy ducks making gentle rippling
noises with their soft bills, or babies just beginning to toddle and to
engage in conscious mischief—a beauty with which you can never be
angry, but that you feel ready to crush for inability to comprehend the
state of mind into which it throws you.... It is of little use for me to
tell you that Hetty's cheek was like a rose-petal, that dimples played
about her pouting lips, that her large dark eyes hid a soft roguishness
under their long lashes, and that her curly hair, though all pushed back
under her round cap while she was at work, stole back in dark delicate
rings on her forehead, and about her white shell-like ears; it is of
little use for me to say how lovely was the contour of her
pink-and-white neckerchief, tucked into her low plum-colored stuff
bodice, or how the linen butter-making apron, with its bib, seemed a
thing to be imitated in silk by duchesses, since it fell in such
charming lines, or how her brown stockings and thick-soled buckled shoes
lost all that clumsiness which they must certainly have had when empty
of her foot and ankle—of little use unless you have seen a woman who
affected you as Hetty affected her beholders, for otherwise, though you
might conjure up the image of a lovely woman, she would not in the least
resemble that distracting kitten-like maiden. I might mention all the
divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life
utterly forgotten yourself in straining your eyes after the mounting
lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened
blossoms fill them with a sacred, silent beauty like that of fretted
aisles, where would be the use of my descriptive catalogue? I could
never make you know what I meant by a bright spring day. Hetty's was a
spring-tide beauty; it was the beauty of young frisking things,
round-limbed, gambolling, circumventing you by a false air of
innocence—the innocence of a young star-browed calf, for example, that,
being inclined for a promenade out of bounds, leads you a severe
steeple-chase over hedge and ditch, and only comes to a stand in the
middle of a bog.
Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great
tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us
by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion, and
ties us by our heart-strings to the beings that jar us at every
movement. We hear a voice with the very cadence of our own uttering the
thoughts we despise; we see eyes—ah! so like our mother's—averted from
us in cold alienation; and our last darling child startles us with the
air and gestures of the sister we parted from in bitterness long years
ago. The father to whom we owe our best heritage—the mechanical
instinct, the keen sensibility to harmony, the unconscious skill of the
modeling hand—galls us, and puts us to shame by his daily errors. The
long-lost mother, whose face we begin to see in the glass as our own
wrinkles come, once fretted our young souls with her anxious humors and
It was to Adam the time that a man can least forget in after life—the
time when he believes that the first woman he has ever loved betrays by
a slight something—a word, a tone, a glance, the quivering of a lip or
an eyelid—that she is at least beginning to love him in return.... So
unless our early gladness vanishes utterly from our memory, we can never
recall the joy with which we laid our heads on our mother's bosom or
rode on our father's back in childhood; doubtless that joy is wrought up
into our nature, or as the sunlight of long-past mornings is wrought up
into the soft mellowness of the apricot; but it is gone forever from our
imagination as we can only believe in the joy of childhood. But the
first glad moment in our first love is a vision which returns to us to
the last, and brings with it a thrill of feeling intense and special as
the recurrent sensation of a sweet odor breathed in a far-off hour of
happiness. It is a memory that gives a more exquisite touch to
tenderness, that feeds the madness of jealousy, and adds the last
keenness to the agony of despair.
MIDNIGHT IN THE CITY.
[From Sartor Resartus.]
"Ach, mein Lieber!" said he once, at midnight, when we had returned
from the Coffee-house in rather earnest talk, "it is a true sublimity to
dwell here. These fringes of lamp-light, struggling up through smoke and
thousand-fold exhalation, some fathoms into the ancient reign of night,
what thinks Boötes of them, as he leads his Hunting-Dogs over the Zenith
in their leash of sidereal fire? That stifled hum of Midnight, when
Traffic has lain down to rest; and the chariot-wheels of Vanity, still
rolling here and there through distant streets, are bearing her to Halls
roofed-in and lighted to the due pitch for her; and only Vice and
Misery, to prowl or to moan like night-birds, are abroad: that hum, I
say, like the stertorous, unquiet slumber of sick Life, is heard in
Heaven! O, under that hideous coverlet of vapours and putrefactions and
unimaginable gases, what a Fermenting-vat lies simmering and hid! The
joyful and the sorrowful are there; men are dying there, men are being
born: men are praying,—on the other side of a brick partition men are
cursing; and around them all is the vast, void Night. The proud Grandee
still lingers in his perfumed saloons, or reposes within damask
curtains; Wretchedness cowers into truckle-beds, or shivers
hunger-stricken into its lair of straw: in obscure cellars,
Rouge-et-Noir languidly emits its voice-of-destiny to haggard, hungry
Villains; while Councillors of State sit plotting, and playing their
high chess-game, whereof the pawns are Men. The Lover whispers his
mistress that the coach is ready; and she, full of hope and fear, glides
down to fly with him over the borders: the Thief, still more silently,
sets-to his picklocks and crowbars, or lurks in wait till the watchmen
first snore in their boxes. Gay mansions, with supper-rooms and
dancing-rooms, are full of light and music and high-swelling hearts;
but, in the Condemned Cells, the pulse of life beats tremulous and
faint, and blood-shot eyes look out through the darkness, which is
around and within, for the light of a stern last morning. Six men are to
be hanged on the morrow: comes no hammering from the
Rabenstein?—their gallows must even now be o' building. Upward of
five hundred thousand two-legged animals without feathers lie round us
in horizontal positions; their heads all in night-caps and full of the
foolishest dreams. Riot cries aloud, and staggers and swaggers in his
rank dens of shame; and the Mother, with streaming hair, kneels over her
pallid dying infant, whose cracked lips only her tears now moisten.—All
these heaped and huddled together, with nothing but a little carpentry
and masonry between them;—crammed in, like salted fish in their
barrel;—or weltering, shall I say, like an Egyptian pitcher of tamed
Vipers, each struggling to get its head above the other: such work
goes on under that smoke-counterpane!--But I, mein Werther, sit above
it all; I am alone with the Stars."
[From the Same.]
Again, could any thing be more miraculous than an actual authentic
Ghost? The English Johnson longed, all his life to see one; but could
not, though he went to Cock Lane, and thence to the church-vaults, and
tapped on coffins. Foolish Doctor! Did he never, with the mind's eye as
well as with the body's, look around him into that full tide of human
Life he so loved; did he never so much as look into himself? The good
Doctor was a Ghost, as actual and authentic as heart could wish;
well-nigh a million of Ghosts were travelling the streets by his side.
Once more I say, sweep away the illusion of Time; compress the
threescore years into three minutes: what else was he, what else are we?
Are we not Spirits, that are shaped into a body, into an Appearance; and
that fade away again into air, and Invisibility? This is no metaphor,
it is a simple scientific fact: we start out of Nothingness, take
figure, and are Apparitions; round us, as round the veriest spectre, is
Eternity; and to Eternity minutes are as years and æons. Come there not
tones of Love and Faith, as from celestial harp-strings, like the Song
of beatified souls? And again, do not we squeak and gibber (in our
discordant, screech-owlish debatings and recriminatings); and glide
bodeful and feeble and fearful; or uproar (poltern), and revel in our
mad Dance of the Dead,—till the scent of the morning-air summons us to
our still Home; and dreamy Night becomes awake and Day? Where now is
Alexander of Macedon: does the steel Host, that yelled in fierce
battle-shouts, at Issus and Arbela, remain behind him; or have they all
vanished utterly, even as perturbed Goblins must? Napoleon too, and his
Moscow Retreats and Austerlitz Campaigns! Was it all other than the
veriest Spectre-hunt; which has now, with its howling tumult that made
Night hideous, flitted away?—Ghosts! There are nigh a thousand million
walking the Earth openly at noontide; some half-hundred have vanished
from it, some half-hundred have arisen in it, ere thy watch ticks
Thus, like some wild-flaming, wild-thundering train of Heaven's
Artillery, does this mysterious Mankind thunder and flame, in
long-drawn, quick-succeeding grandeur, through the unknown Deep. Thus,
like a God-created, fire-breathing Spirit-host, we emerge from the
Inane; haste stormfully across the astonished Earth; then plunge again
into the Inane. Earth's mountains are levelled, and her seas filled up,
in our passage: can the Earth, which is but dead and a vision, resist
Spirits which have reality and are alive? On the hardest adamant some
foot-print of us is stamped in; the last Rear of the host will read
traces of the earliest Van. But whence?—O Heaven, whither? Sense knows
not; Faith knows not; only that it is through Mystery to Mystery, from
God and to God.
"We are such stuff
As Dreams are made of, and our little Life
Is rounded with a sleep!"
THE DAYS THAT ARE NO MORE.
[From The Princess.]
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more....
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O death in life, the days that are no more.
THE PASSING OF ARTHUR.
[From Morte D'Arthur.]
And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
"The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell: I am going a long way
With these thou seest—if indeed I go—
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard-lawns,
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound."
So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Looked one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.
[From The Princess.]
The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying.
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
BREAK, BREAK, BREAK.
Break, break, break
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
PEACE OR WAR?
Peace sitting under her olive, and slurring the days gone by,
When the poor are hovelled and hustled together, each sex, like swine,
When only the ledger lives, and when only not all men lie;
Peace in her vineyard—yes!--but a company forges the wine.
And the vitriol madness flushes up in the ruffian's head,
Till the filthy by-lane rings to the yell of the trampled wife,
While chalk and alum and plaster are sold to the poor for bread,
And the spirit of murder works in the very means of life.
And Sleep must lie down armed, for the villainous centre-bits
Grind on the wakeful ear in the hush of the moonless nights,
While another is cheating the sick of a few last gasps, as he sits
To pestle a poisoned poison behind his crimson lights.
When a Mammonite mother kills her babe for a burial fee,
And Timour-Mammon grins on a pile of children's bones,
Is it peace or war? better, war! loud war by land and by sea,
War with a thousand battles, and shaking a hundred thrones.
STANZAS FROM IN MEMORIAM.
I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the fields of time,
Unfettered by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth,
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
SONG FROM MAUD.
Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, night, has flown;
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown.
For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.
All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirred
To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.
I said to the lily, "There is but one
With whom she has heart to be gay.
When will the dancers leave her alone?
She is weary of dance and play."
Now half to the setting moon are gone,
And half to the rising day;
Low on the sand and loud on the stone
The last wheel echoes away.
I said to the rose, "The brief night goes
In babble and revel and wine.
O young lord-lover, what sighs are those
For one that will never be thine?
But mine, but mine," so I swore to the rose,
"For ever and ever mine."
INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP.
You know, we French stormed Ratisbon:
A mile or so away
On a little mound, Napoleon
Stood on our storming-day;
With neck out-thrust, you fancy how,
Legs wide, arms locked behind,
As if to balance the prone brow
Oppressive with its mind.
Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
That soar, to earth may fall,
Let once my army-leader Lannes
Waver at yonder wall"—
Out 'twixt the battery-smokes there flew
A rider, bound on bound
Full-galloping; nor bridle drew
Until he reached the mound.
Then off there flung in smiling joy,
And held himself erect
By just his horse's mane, a boy:
You hardly could suspect—
(So tight he kept his lips compressed,
Scarce any blood came through)
You looked twice ere you saw his breast
Was all but shot in two.
"Well," cried he, "Emperor, by God's grace
We've got you Ratisbon!
The Marshal's in the market-place,
And you'll be there anon
To see your flag-bird flap his vans
Where I, to heart's desire,
Perched him!" The chiefs eye flashed; his plans
Soared up again like fire.
The chief's eye flashed; but presently
Softened itself, as sheathes
A film the mother-eagle's eye
When her bruised eaglet breathes;
"You're wounded!" "Nay," the soldier's pride
Touched to the quick, he said:
"I'm killed, sire!" And his chief beside,
Smiling the boy fell dead.
THE LOST LEADER.
Just for a handful of silver he left us,
Just for a ribbon to stick in his coat—
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
Lost all the others, she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
Rags—were they purple, his heart had been proud!
We that had loved him so, followed him, honored him,
Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our pattern to live and to die!
Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
Burns, Shelley were with us—they watch from their graves!
He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!
We shall march prospering—not through his presence;
Songs may inspirit us—not from his lyre;
Deeds will be done, while he boasts his quiescence,
Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
One more devil's triumph and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Life's night begins: let him never come back to us!
There would be doubt, hesitation, and pain,
Forced praise on our part—the glimmer of twilight,
Never glad confident morning again!
Best fight on well, for we taught him—strike gallantly,
Menace our heart ere we master his own;
Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!
MEETING AT NIGHT.
The gray sea and the long black land,
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow
And quench its speed in the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
WORK AND WORTH.
[From Rabbi Ben Ezra.]
Not on the vulgar mass
Called "work" must sentence pass,
Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
O'er which, from level stand,
The low world laid its hand,
Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:
But all, the world's coarse thumb
And finger failed to plumb,
So passed in making up the main account;
All instincts immature,
All purposes unsure,
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:
Thoughts hardly to be packed
Into a narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
All I could never be,
All men ignored in me,
This I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.
HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD.
O, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brush-wood sheaf
Round the elm-tree hole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
And after April, when May follows,
And the white throat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dew-drops—at the bent spray's edge—
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower,
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!