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Title: The Angel in the House
Author: Patmore, Coventry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Angel in the House" ***

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Transcribed from the 1891 Cassell & Company edition by David Price, email

                        CASSELL’S NATIONAL LIBRARY

                                * * * * *

                           ANGEL IN THE HOUSE.

                                * * * * *

                            COVENTRY PATMORE.

                                * * * * *

    “Par la grace infinie, Dieu les mist au monde ensemble.”

                                                      _Rousier des Dames_.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                       CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED:
                       _LONDON, PARIS & MELBOURNE_.

                                * * * * *

                                THIS POEM
                               IS INSCRIBED
                            THE MEMORY OF HER

                                * * * * *


THERE could be but one answer to the suggestion of Mr. Coventry Patmore
that his “Angel in the House” might usefully have a place in this
“National Library.”  The suggestion was made with the belief that wide
and cheap diffusion would not take from the value of a copyright library
edition, while the best use of writing is fulfilled by the spreading of
verse dedicated to the sacred love of home.  The two parts of the Poem
appeared in 1854 and 1856, were afterwards elaborately revised, and have
since obtained a permanent place among the Home Books of the English
People.  Our readers will join, surely, in thanks to the author for the
present he has made us.

                                                                     H. M.


                       BOOK I.
                   THE PROLOGUE.                    13
       I.  THE CATHEDRAL CLOSE                      17
               1.  The Impossibility                17
               2.  Love’s Really                    17
               3.  The Poet’s Confidence            18
           The Cathedral Close                      19
      II.  MARY AND MILDRED                         24
               1.  The Paragon                      24
               2.  Love at Large                    26
               3.  Love and Duty                    27
               4.  A Distinction                    28
           Mary and Mildred                         28
     III.  HONORIA                                  32
               1.  The Lover                        32
               2.  Love a Virtue                    34
               3.  The Attainment                   34
           Honoria                                  35
      IV.  THE MORNING CALL                         39
               1.  The Rose of the World            39
               2.  The Tribute                      41
               3.  Compensation                     42
           The Morning Call                         42
       V.  THE VIOLETS                              46
               1.  The Comparison                   46
               2.  Love in Tears                    48
               3.  Prospective Faith                48
               4.  Venus Victrix                    49
           The Violets                              49
      VI.  THE DEAN                                 53
               1.  Perfect Love rare                53
               2.  Love Justified                   54
               3.  Love Serviceable                 55
               4.  A Riddle Solved                  56
           The Dean                                 56
     VII.  ÆTNA AND THE MOON                        60
               1.  Love’s Immortality               60
               2.  Heaven and Earth                 61
           Ætna and the Moon                        62
    VIII.  SARUM PLAIN                              66
               1.  Life of Life                     66
               2.  The Revelation                   67
               3.  The Spirit’s Epochs              67
               4.  The Prototype                    68
               5.  The Praise of Love               68
           Sarum Plain                              69
      IX.  SAHARA                                   74
               1.  The Wife’s Tragedy               74
               2.  Common Graces                    75
               3.  The Zest of Life                 76
               4.  Fool and Wise                    76
           Sahara                                   77
       X.  CHURCH TO CHURCH                         81
               1.  The Joyful Wisdom                81
               2.  The Devices                      84
           Going to Church                          84
      XI.  THE DANCE                                89
               1.  The Daughter of Eve              89
               2.  Aurea Dicta                      91
           The Dance                                93
     XII.  THE ABDICATION                           97
               1.  The Chace                        97
               2.  Denied                          100
               3.  The Churl                       101
           The Abdication                          102
                       BOOK II.
           THE PROLOGUE                            105
       I.  ACCEPTED                                109
               1.  The Song of Songs               109
               2.  The Kites                       110
               3.  Orpheus                         111
               4.  Nearest the Dearest             111
               5.  Perspective                     112
           Accepted                                112
      II.  THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE                 116
               1.  The Changed Allegiance          116
               2.  Beauty                          120
               3.  Lais and Lucretia               120
           The Course of True Love                 121
     III.  THE COUNTRY BALL                        126
               1.  Love Ceremonious                126
               2.  The Rainbow                     127
               3.  A Paradox                       127
           The County Ball                         128
      IV.  LOVE IN IDLENESS                        132
               1.  Honour and Desert               132
               2.  Love and Honour                 133
               3.  Valour Misdirected              134
           Love in Idleness                        134
       V.  THE QUEEN’S ROOM                        139
               1.  Rejected                        139
               2.  Rachel                          140
               3.  The Heart’s Prophecies          141
           The Queen’s Room                        141
      VI.  THE LOVE-LETTERS                        145
               1.  Love’s Perversity               145
               2.  The Power of Love               147
           The Love-Letters                        148
     VII.  THE REVULSION                           152
               1.  Joy and Use                     152
               2.  ‘She was Mine’                  153
           The Revulsion                           153
    VIII.  THE KOH-I-NOOR                          158
               1.  In Love                         158
               2.  Love Thinking                   160
               3.  The Kiss                        161
           The Koh-i-noor                          161
      IX.  THE FRIENDS                             165
               1.  The Nursling of Civility        165
               2.  The Foreign Land                166
               3.  Disappointment                  166
           The Friends                             167
       X.  THE EPITAPH                             170
               1.  Frost in Harvest                170
               2.  Felicity                        171
               3.  Marriage Indissoluble           172
           The Epitaph                             172
      XI.  THE WEDDING                             176
               1.  Platonic Love                   176
               2.  A Demonstration                 177
               3.  The Symbol                      178
               4.  Constancy Rewarded              178
           The Wedding                             179
     XII.  HUSBAND AND WIFE                        183
               1.  The Married Lover               183
               2.  The Amaranth                    184
           Husband and Wife                        185
           The Epilogue                            189

Book I.



   ‘MINE is no horse with wings, to gain
      The region of the spheral chime;
   He does but drag a rumbling wain,
      Cheer’d by the coupled bells of rhyme;
   And if at Fame’s bewitching note
      My homely Pegasus pricks an ear,
   The world’s cart-collar hugs his throat,
      And he’s too wise to prance or rear.’


   Thus ever answer’d Vaughan his Wife,
      Who, more than he, desired his fame;
   But, in his heart, his thoughts were rife
      How for her sake to earn a name.
   With bays poetic three times crown’d,
      And other college honours won,
   He, if he chose, might be renown’d,
      He had but little doubt, she none;
   And in a loftier phrase he talk’d
      With her, upon their Wedding-Day,
   (The eighth), while through the fields they walk’d,
      Their children shouting by the way.


   ‘Not careless of the gift of song,
      Nor out of love with noble fame,
   I, meditating much and long
      What I should sing, how win a name,
   Considering well what theme unsung,
      What reason worth the cost of rhyme,
   Remains to loose the poet’s tongue
      In these last days, the dregs of time,
   Learn that to me, though born so late,
      There does, beyond desert, befall
   (May my great fortune make me great!)
      The first of themes, sung last of all.
   In green and undiscover’d ground,
      Yet near where many others sing,
   I have the very well-head found
      Whence gushes the Pierian Spring.’


   Then she: ‘What is it, Dear?  The Life
      Of Arthur, or Jerusalem’s Fall?’
   ‘Neither: your gentle self, my Wife,
      And love, that grows from one to all.
   And if I faithfully proclaim
      Of these the exceeding worthiness,
   Surely the sweetest wreath of Fame
      Shall, to your hope, my brows caress;
   And if, by virtue of my choice
      Of this, the most heart-touching theme
   That ever tuned a poet’s voice,
      I live, as I am bold to dream,
   To be delight to many days,
      And into silence only cease
   When those are still, who shared their bays
      With Laura and with Beatrice,
   Imagine, Love, how learned men
      Will deep-conceiv’d devices find,
   Beyond my purpose and my ken,
      An ancient bard of simple mind.
   You, Sweet, his Mistress, Wife, and Muse,
      Were you for mortal woman meant?
   Your praises give a hundred clues
      To mythological intent!
   And, severing thus the truth from trope,
      In you the Commentators see
   Outlines occult of abstract scope,
      A future for philosophy!
   Your arm’s on mine! these are the meads
      In which we pass our living days;
   There Avon runs, now hid with reeds,
      Now brightly brimming pebbly bays;
   Those are our children’s songs that come
      With bells and bleatings of the sheep;
   And there, in yonder English home,
      We thrive on mortal food and sleep!’
   She laugh’d.  How proud she always was
      To feel how proud he was of her!
   But he had grown distraught, because
      The Muse’s mood began to stir.


   His purpose with performance crown’d,
      He to his well-pleased Wife rehears’d,
   When next their Wedding-Day came round,
      His leisure’s labour, ‘Book the First.’

The Cathedral Close.


_The Impossibility_.

   Lo, love’s obey’d by all.  ’Tis right
      That all should know what they obey,
   Lest erring conscience damp delight,
      And folly laugh our joys away.
   Thou Primal Love, who grantest wings
      And voices to the woodland birds,
   Grant me the power of saying things
      Too simple and too sweet for words!

_Love’s Really_.

   I walk, I trust, with open eyes;
      I’ve travell’d half my worldly course;
   And in the way behind me lies
      Much vanity and some remorse;
   I’ve lived to feel how pride may part
      Spirits, tho’ match’d like hand and glove;
   I’ve blush’d for love’s abode, the heart;
      But have not disbelieved in love;
   Nor unto love, sole mortal thing
      Of worth immortal, done the wrong
   To count it, with the rest that sing,
      Unworthy of a serious song;
   And love is my reward; for now,
      When most of dead’ning time complain,
   The myrtle blooms upon my brow,
      Its odour quickens all my brain.

_The Poet’s Confidence_.

   The richest realm of all the earth
      Is counted still a heathen land:
   Lo, I, like Joshua, now go forth
      To give it into Israel’s hand.
   I will not hearken blame or praise;
      For so should I dishonour do
   To that sweet Power by which these Lays
      Alone are lovely, good, and true;
   Nor credence to the world’s cries give,
      Which ever preach and still prevent
   Pure passion’s high prerogative
      To make, not follow, precedent.
   From love’s abysmal ether rare
      If I to men have here made known
   New truths, they, like new stars, were there
      Before, though not yet written down.
   Moving but as the feelings move,
      I run, or loiter with delight,
   Or pause to mark where gentle Love
      Persuades the soul from height to height.
   Yet, know ye, though my words are gay
      As David’s dance, which Michal scorn’d.
   If kindly you receive the Lay,
      You shall be sweetly help’d and warn’d.



   Once more I came to Sarum Close,
      With joy half memory, half desire,
   And breathed the sunny wind that rose
      And blew the shadows o’er the Spire,
   And toss’d the lilac’s scented plumes,
      And sway’d the chestnut’s thousand cones,
   And fill’d my nostrils with perfumes,
      And shaped the clouds in waifs and zones,
   And wafted down the serious strain
      Of Sarum bells, when, true to time,
   I reach’d the Dean’s, with heart and brain
      That trembled to the trembling chime.


   ’Twas half my home, six years ago.
      The six years had not alter’d it:
   Red-brick and ashlar, long and low,
      With dormers and with oriels lit.
   Geranium, lychnis, rose array’d
      The windows, all wide open thrown;
   And some one in the Study play’d
      The Wedding-March of Mendelssohn.
   And there it was I last took leave:
      ’Twas Christmas: I remember’d now
   The cruel girls, who feign’d to grieve,
      Took down the evergreens; and how
   The holly into blazes woke
      The fire, lighting the large, low room,
   A dim, rich lustre of old oak
      And crimson velvet’s glowing gloom.
   No change had touch’d Dean Churchill: kind,
      By widowhood more than winters bent,
   And settled in a cheerful mind,
      As still forecasting heaven’s content.
   Well might his thoughts be fix’d on high,
      Now she was there!  Within her face
   Humility and dignity
      Were met in a most sweet embrace.
   She seem’d expressly sent below
      To teach our erring minds to see
   The rhythmic change of time’s swift flow
      As part of still eternity.
   Her life, all honour, observed, with awe
      Which cross experience could not mar,
   The fiction of the Christian law
      That all men honourable are;
   And so her smile at once conferr’d
      High flattery and benign reproof;
   And I, a rude boy, strangely stirr’d,
      Grew courtly in my own behoof.
   The years, so far from doing her wrong,
      Anointed her with gracious balm,
   And made her brows more and more young
      With wreaths of amaranth and palm.


   Was this her eldest, Honor; prude,
      Who would not let me pull the swing;
   Who, kiss’d at Christmas, call’d me rude,
      And, sobbing low, refused to sing?
   How changed!  In shape no slender Grace,
      But Venus; milder than the dove;
   Her mother’s air; her Norman face;
      Her large sweet eyes, clear lakes of love.
   Mary I knew.  In former time
      Ailing and pale, she thought that bliss
   Was only for a better clime,
      And, heavenly overmuch, scorn’d this.
   I, rash with theories of the right,
      Which stretch’d the tether of my Creed,
   But did not break it, held delight
      Half discipline.  We disagreed.
   She told the Dean I wanted grace.
      Now she was kindest of the three,
   And soft wild roses deck’d her face.
      And, what, was this my Mildred, she
   To herself and all a sweet surprise?
      My Pet, who romp’d and roll’d a hoop?
   I wonder’d where those daisy eyes
      Had found their touching curve and droop.


   Unmannerly times!  But now we sat
      Stranger than strangers; till I caught
   And answer’d Mildred’s smile; and that
      Spread to the rest, and freedom brought.
   The Dean talk’d little, looking on,
      Of three such daughters justly vain.
   What letters they had had from Bonn,
      Said Mildred, and what plums from Spain!
   By Honor I was kindly task’d
      To excuse my never coming down
   From Cambridge; Mary smiled and ask’d
      Were Kant and Goethe yet outgrown?
   And, pleased, we talk’d the old days o’er;
      And, parting, I for pleasure sigh’d.
   To be there as a friend, (since more),
      Seem’d then, seems still, excuse for pride;
   For something that abode endued
      With temple-like repose, an air
   Of life’s kind purposes pursued
      With order’d freedom sweet and fair.
   A tent pitch’d in a world not right
      It seem’d, whose inmates, every one,
   On tranquil faces bore the light
      Of duties beautifully done,
   And humbly, though they had few peers,
      Kept their own laws, which seem’d to be
   The fair sum of six thousand years’
      Traditions of civility.

Mary And Mildred.


_The Paragon_.

   WHEN I behold the skies aloft
      Passing the pageantry of dreams,
   The cloud whose bosom, cygnet-soft,
      A couch for nuptial Juno seems,
   The ocean broad, the mountains bright,
      The shadowy vales with feeding herds,
   I from my lyre the music smite,
      Nor want for justly matching words.
   All forces of the sea and air,
      All interests of hill and plain,
   I so can sing, in seasons fair,
      That who hath felt may feel again.
   Elated oft by such free songs,
      I think with utterance free to raise
   That hymn for which the whole world longs,
      A worthy hymn in woman’s praise;
   A hymn bright-noted like a bird’s,
      Arousing these song-sleepy times
   With rhapsodies of perfect words,
      Ruled by returning kiss of rhymes.
   But when I look on her and hope
      To tell with joy what I admire,
   My thoughts lie cramp’d in narrow scope,
      Or in the feeble birth expire;
   No mystery of well-woven speech,
      No simplest phrase of tenderest fall,
   No liken’d excellence can reach
      Her, thee most excellent of all,
   The best half of creation’s best,
      Its heart to feel, its eye to see,
   The crown and complex of the rest,
      Its aim and its epitome.
   Nay, might I utter my conceit,
      ’Twere after all a vulgar song,
   For she’s so simply, subtly sweet,
      My deepest rapture does her wrong.
   Yet is it now my chosen task
      To sing her worth as Maid and Wife;
   Nor happier post than this I ask,
      To live her laureate all my life.
   On wings of love uplifted free,
      And by her gentleness made great,
   I’ll teach how noble man should be
      To match with such a lovely mate;
   And then in her may move the more
      The woman’s wish to be desired,
   (By praise increased), till both shall soar,
      With blissful emulations fired.
   And, as geranium, pink, or rose
      Is thrice itself through power of art,
   So may my happy skill disclose
      New fairness even in her fair heart;
   Until that churl shall nowhere be
      Who bends not, awed, before the throne
   Of her affecting majesty,
      So meek, so far unlike our own;
   Until (for who may hope too much
      From her who wields the powers of love?)
   Our lifted lives at last shall touch
      That happy goal to which they move;
   Until we find, as darkness rolls
      Away, and evil mists dissolve,
   That nuptial contrasts are the poles
      On which the heavenly spheres revolve.

_Love at Large_.

   Whene’er I come where ladies are,
      How sad soever I was before,
   Though like a ship frost-bound and far
      Withheld in ice from the ocean’s roar,
   Third-winter’d in that dreadful dock,
      With stiffen’d cordage, sails decay’d,
   And crew that care for calm and shock
      Alike, too dull to be dismay’d,
   Yet, if I come where ladies are,
      How sad soever I was before,
   Then is my sadness banish’d far,
      And I am like that ship no more;
   Or like that ship if the ice-field splits,
      Burst by the sudden polar Spring,
   And all thank God with their warming wits,
      And kiss each other and dance and sing,
   And hoist fresh sails, that make the breeze
      Blow them along the liquid sea,
   Out of the North, where life did freeze,
      Into the haven where they would be.

_Love and Duty_.

   Anne lived so truly from above,
      She was so gentle and so good,
   That duty bade me fall in love,
      And ‘but for that,’ thought I, ‘I should!’
   I worshipp’d Kate with all my will,
      In idle moods you seem to see
   A noble spirit in a hill,
      A human touch about a tree.

_A Distinction_.

   The lack of lovely pride, in her
      Who strives to please, my pleasure numbs,
   And still the maid I most prefer
      Whose care to please with pleasing comes.



   One morning, after Church, I walk’d
      Alone with Mary on the lawn,
   And felt myself, howe’er we talk’d,
      To grave themes delicately drawn.
   When she, delighted, found I knew
      More of her peace than she supposed,
   Our confidences heavenwards grew,
      Like fox-glove buds, in pairs disclosed.
   Our former faults did we confess,
      Our ancient feud was more than heal’d,
   And, with the woman’s eagerness
      For amity full-sign’d and seal’d,
   She, offering up for sacrifice
      Her heart’s reserve, brought out to show
   Some verses, made when she was ice
      To all but Heaven, six years ago;
   Since happier grown!  I took and read
      The neat-writ lines.  She, void of guile,
   Too late repenting, blush’d, and said,
      I must not think about the style.


   ‘Day after day, until to-day,
      Imaged the others gone before,
   The same dull task, the weary way,
      The weakness pardon’d o’er and o’er,

   ‘The thwarted thirst, too faintly felt,
      For joy’s well-nigh forgotten life,
   The restless heart, which, when I knelt,
      Made of my worship barren strife.

   ‘Ah, whence to-day’s so sweet release,
      This clearance light of all my care,
   This conscience free, this fertile peace,
      These softly folded wings of prayer,

   ‘This calm and more than conquering love,
      With which nought evil dares to cope,
   This joy that lifts no glance above,
      For faith too sure, too sweet for hope?

   ‘O, happy time, too happy change,
      It will not live, though fondly nurst!
   Full soon the sun will seem as strange
      As now the cloud which seems dispersed.’


   She from a rose-tree shook the blight;
      And well she knew that I knew well
   Her grace with silence to requite;
      And, answering now the luncheon bell,
   I laugh’d at Mildred’s laugh, which made
      All melancholy wrong, its mood
   Such sweet self-confidence display’d,
      So glad a sense of present good.


   I laugh’d and sigh’d: for I confess
      I never went to Ball, or Fête,
   Or Show, but in pursuit express
      Of my predestinated mate;
   And thus to me, who had in sight
      The happy chance upon the cards,
   Each beauty blossom’d in the light
      Of tender personal regards;
   And, in the records of my breast,
      Red-letter’d, eminently fair,
   Stood sixteen, who, beyond the rest,
      By turns till then had been my care:
   At Berlin three, one at St. Cloud,
      At Chatteris, near Cambridge, one,
   At Ely four, in London two,
      Two at Bowness, in Paris none,
   And, last and best, in Sarum three;
      But dearest of the whole fair troop,
   In judgment of the moment, she
      Whose daisy eyes had learn’d to droop.
   Her very faults my fancy fired;
      My loving will, so thwarted, grew;
   And, bent on worship, I admired
      Whate’er she was, with partial view.
   And yet when, as to-day, her smile
      Was prettiest, I could not but note
   Honoria, less admired the while,
      Was lovelier, though from love remote.



_The Lover_.

   HE meets, by heavenly chance express,
      The destined maid; some hidden hand
   Unveils to him that loveliness
      Which others cannot understand.
   His merits in her presence grow,
      To match the promise in her eyes,
   And round her happy footsteps blow
      The authentic airs of Paradise.
   For joy of her he cannot sleep;
      Her beauty haunts him all the night;
   It melts his heart, it makes him weep
      For wonder, worship, and delight.
   O, paradox of love, he longs,
      Most humble when he most aspires,
   To suffer scorn and cruel wrongs
      From her he honours and desires.
   Her graces make him rich, and ask
      No guerdon; this imperial style
   Affronts him; he disdains to bask,
      The pensioner of her priceless smile.
   He prays for some hard thing to do,
      Some work of fame and labour immense,
   To stretch the languid bulk and thew
      Of love’s fresh-born magnipotence.
   No smallest boon were bought too dear,
      Though barter’d for his love-sick life;
   Yet trusts he, with undaunted cheer,
      To vanquish heaven, and call her Wife
   He notes how queens of sweetness still
      Neglect their crowns, and stoop to mate;
   How, self-consign’d with lavish will,
      They ask but love proportionate;
   How swift pursuit by small degrees,
      Love’s tactic, works like miracle;
   How valour, clothed in courtesies,
      Brings down the haughtiest citadel;
   And therefore, though he merits not
      To kiss the braid upon her skirt,
   His hope, discouraged ne’er a jot,
      Out-soars all possible desert.

_Love a Virtue_.

   Strong passions mean weak will, and he
      Who truly knows the strength and bliss
   Which are in love, will own with me
      No passion but a virtue ’tis.
   Few hear my word; it soars above
      The subtlest senses of the swarm
   Of wretched things which know not love,
      Their Psyche still a wingless worm.
   Ice-cold seems heaven’s noble glow
      To spirits whose vital heat is hell;
   And to corrupt hearts even so
      The songs I sing, the tale I tell.
   These cannot see the robes of white
      In which I sing of love.  Alack,
   But darkness shows in heavenly light,
      Though whiteness, in the dark, is black!

_The Attainment_.

   You love?  That’s high as you shall go;
      For ’tis as true as Gospel text,
   Not noble then is never so,
      Either in this world or the next.



   Grown weary with a week’s exile
      From those fair friends, I rode to see
   The church-restorings; lounged awhile,
      And met the Dean; was ask’d to tea,
   And found their cousin, Frederick Graham
      At Honor’s side.  Was I concern’d,
   If, when she sang, his colour came,
      That mine, as with a buffet, burn’d?
   A man to please a girl! thought I,
      Retorting his forced smiles, the shrouds
   Of wrath, so hid as she was by,
      Sweet moon between her lighted clouds!


   Whether this Cousin was the cause
      I know not, but I seem’d to see,
   The first time then, how fair she was,
      How much the fairest of the three.
   Each stopp’d to let the other go;
      But, time-bound, he arose the first.
   Stay’d he in Sarum long?  If so
      I hoped to see him at the Hurst.
   No: he had call’d here, on his way
      To Portsmouth, where the Arrogant,
   His ship, was; he should leave next day,
      For two years’ cruise in the Levant.


   Had love in her yet struck its germs?
      I watch’d.  Her farewell show’d me plain
   She loved, on the majestic terms
      That she should not be loved again;
   And so her cousin, parting, felt.
      Hope in his voice and eye was dead.
   Compassion did my malice melt;
      Then went I home to a restless bed.
   I, who admired her too, could see
      His infinite remorse at this
   Great mystery, that she should be
      So beautiful, yet not be his,
   And, pitying, long’d to plead his part;
      But scarce could tell, so strange my whim,
   Whether the weight upon my heart
      Was sorrow for myself or him.


   She was all mildness; yet ’twas writ
      In all her grace, most legibly,
   ‘He that’s for heaven itself unfit,
      Let him not hope to merit me.’
   And such a challenge, quite apart
      From thoughts of love, humbled, and thus
   To sweet repentance moved my heart,
      And made me more magnanimous,
   And led me to review my life,
      Inquiring where in aught the least,
   If question were of her for wife,
      Ill might be mended, hope increas’d.
   Not that I soar’d so far above
      Myself, as this great hope to dare;
   And yet I well foresaw that love
      Might hope where reason must despair;
   And, half-resenting the sweet pride
      Which would not ask me to admire,
   ‘Oh,’ to my secret heart I sigh’d,
      ‘That I were worthy to desire!’


   As drowsiness my brain reliev’d,
      A shrill defiance of all to arms,
   Shriek’d by the stable-cock, receiv’d
      An angry answer from three farms.
   And, then, I dream’d that I, her knight,
      A clarion’s haughty pathos heard,
   And rode securely to the fight,
      Cased in the scarf she had conferr’d;
   And there, the bristling lists behind,
      Saw many, and vanquish’d all I saw
   Of her unnumber’d cousin-kind,
      In Navy, Army, Church, and Law;
   Smitten, the warriors somehow turn’d
      To Sarum choristers, whose song,
   Mix’d with celestial sorrow, yearn’d
      With joy no memory can prolong;
   And phantasms as absurd and sweet
      Merged each in each in endless chace,
   And everywhere I seem’d to meet
      The haunting fairness of her face.

The Morning Call.


_The Rose of the World_.

   LO, when the Lord made North and South
      And sun and moon ordained, He,
   Forthbringing each by word of mouth
      In order of its dignity,
   Did man from the crude clay express
      By sequence, and, all else decreed,
   He form’d the woman; nor might less
      Than Sabbath such a work succeed.
   And still with favour singled out,
      Marr’d less than man by mortal fall,
   Her disposition is devout,
      Her countenance angelical;
   The best things that the best believe
      Are in her face so kindly writ
   The faithless, seeing her, conceive
      Not only heaven, but hope of it;
   No idle thought her instinct shrouds,
      But fancy chequers settled sense,
   Like alteration of the clouds
      On noonday’s azure permanence;
   Pure dignity, composure, ease
      Declare affections nobly fix’d,
   And impulse sprung from due degrees
      Of sense and spirit sweetly mix’d.
   Her modesty, her chiefest grace,
      The cestus clasping Venus’ side,
   How potent to deject the face
      Of him who would affront its pride!
   Wrong dares not in her presence speak,
      Nor spotted thought its taint disclose
   Under the protest of a cheek
      Outbragging Nature’s boast the rose.
   In mind and manners how discreet;
      How artless in her very art;
   How candid in discourse; how sweet
      The concord of her lips and heart;
   How simple and how circumspect;
      How subtle and how fancy-free;
   Though sacred to her love, how deck’d
      With unexclusive courtesy;
   How quick in talk to see from far
      The way to vanquish or evade;
   How able her persuasions are
      To prove, her reasons to persuade;
   How (not to call true instinct’s bent
      And woman’s very nature, harm),
   How amiable and innocent
      Her pleasure in her power to charm;
   How humbly careful to attract,
      Though crown’d with all the soul desires,
   Connubial aptitude exact,
      Diversity that never tires.

_The Tribute_.

   Boon Nature to the woman bows;
      She walks in earth’s whole glory clad,
   And, chiefest far herself of shows,
      All others help her, and are glad:
   No splendour ’neath the sky’s proud dome
      But serves for her familiar wear;
   The far-fetch’d diamond finds its home
      Flashing and smouldering in her hair;
   For her the seas their pearls reveal;
      Art and strange lands her pomp supply
   With purple, chrome, and cochineal,
      Ochre, and lapis lazuli;
   The worm its golden woof presents;
      Whatever runs, flies, dives, or delves,
   All doff for her their ornaments,
      Which suit her better than themselves;
   And all, by this their power to give,
      Proving her right to take, proclaim
   Her beauty’s clear prerogative
      To profit so by Eden’s blame.


   That nothing here may want its praise,
      Know, she who in her dress reveals
   A fine and modest taste, displays
      More loveliness than she conceals.



   ‘By meekness charm’d, or proud to allow
      A queenly claim to live admired,
   Full many a lady has ere now
      My apprehensive fancy fired,
   And woven many a transient chain;
      But never lady like to this,
   Who holds me as the weather-vane
      Is held by yonder clematis.
   She seems the life of nature’s powers;
      Her beauty is the genial thought
   Which makes the sunshine bright; the flowers,
      But for their hint of her, were nought.’


   A voice, the sweeter for the grace
      Of suddenness, while thus I dream’d,
   ‘Good morning!’ said or sang.  Her face
      The mirror of the morning seem’d.
   Her sisters in the garden walk’d,
      And would I come?  Across the Hall
   She led me; and we laugh’d and talk’d,
      And praised the Flower-show and the Ball;
   And Mildred’s pinks had gain’d the Prize;
      And, stepping like the light-foot fawn,
   She brought me ‘Wiltshire Butterflies,’
      The Prize-book; then we paced the lawn,
   Close-cut, and with geranium-plots,
      A rival glow of green and red;
   Than counted sixty apricots
      On one small tree; the gold-fish fed;
   And watch’d where, black with scarlet tans,
      Proud Psyche stood and flash’d like flame,
   Showing and shutting splendid fans;
      And in the prize we found its name.


   The sweet hour lapsed, and left my breast
      A load of joy and tender care;
   And this delight, which life oppress’d,
      To fix’d aims grew, that ask’d for pray’r.
   I rode home slowly; whip-in-hand
      And soil’d bank-notes all ready, stood
   The Farmer who farm’d all my land,
      Except the little Park and Wood;
   And with the accustom’d compliment
      Of talk, and beef, and frothing beer,
   I, my own steward, took my rent,
      Three hundred pounds for half the year;
   Our witnesses the Cook and Groom,
      We sign’d the lease for seven years more,
   And bade Good-day; then to my room
      I went, and closed and lock’d the door,
   And cast myself down on my bed,
      And there, with many a blissful tear,
   I vow’d to love and pray’d to wed
      The maiden who had grown so dear;
   Thank’d God who had set her in my path;
      And promised, as I hoped to win,
   That I would never dim my faith
      By the least selfishness or sin;
   Whatever in her sight I’d seem
      I’d truly be; I’d never blend
   With my delight in her a dream
      ’Twould change her cheek to comprehend;
   And, if she wish’d it, I’d prefer
      Another’s to my own success;
   And always seek the best for her
      With unofficious tenderness.


   Rising, I breathed a brighter clime,
      And found myself all self above,
   And, with a charity sublime,
      Contemn’d not those who did not love:
   And I could not but feel that then
      I shone with something of her grace,
   And went forth to my fellow men
      My commendation in my face.

The Violets.


_The Comparison_.

   WHERE she succeeds with cloudless brow,
      In common and in holy course,
   He fails, in spite of prayer and vow
      And agonies of faith and force;
   Or, if his suit with Heaven prevails
      To righteous life, his virtuous deeds
   Lack beauty, virtue’s badge; she fails
      More graciously than he succeeds.
   Her spirit, compact of gentleness,
      If Heaven postpones or grants her pray’r,
   Conceives no pride in its success,
      And in its failure no despair;
   But his, enamour’d of its hurt,
      Baffled, blasphemes, or, not denied,
   Crows from the dunghill of desert,
      And wags its ugly wings for pride.
   He’s never young nor ripe; she grows
      More infantine, auroral, mild,
   And still the more she lives and knows
      The lovelier she’s express’d a child.
   Say that she wants the will of man
      To conquer fame, not check’d by cross,
   Nor moved when others bless or ban;
      She wants but what to have were loss.
   Or say she wants the patient brain
      To track shy truth; her facile wit
   At that which he hunts down with pain
      Flies straight, and does exactly hit.
   Were she but half of what she is,
      He twice himself, mere love alone,
   Her special crown, as truth is his,
      Gives title to the worthier throne;
   For love is substance, truth the form;
      Truth without love were less than nought;
   But blindest love is sweet and warm,
      And full of truth not shaped by thought,
   And therefore in herself she stands
      Adorn’d with undeficient grace,
   Her happy virtues taking hands,
      Each smiling in another’s face.
   So, dancing round the Tree of Life,
      They make an Eden in her breast,
   While his, disjointed and at strife,
      Proud-thoughted, do not bring him rest.

_Love in Tears_.

   If fate Love’s dear ambition mar,
      And load his breast with hopeless pain,
   And seem to blot out sun and star,
      Love, won or lost, is countless gain;
   His sorrow boasts a secret bliss
      Which sorrow of itself beguiles,
   And Love in tears too noble is
      For pity, save of Love in smiles.
   But, looking backward through his tears,
      With vision of maturer scope,
   How often one dead joy appears
      The platform of some better hope!
   And, let us own, the sharpest smart
      Which human patience may endure
   Pays light for that which leaves the heart
      More generous, dignified, and pure.

_Prospective Faith_.

   They safely walk in darkest ways
      Whose youth is lighted from above,
   Where, through the senses’ silvery haze,
      Dawns the veil’d moon of nuptial love.
   Who is the happy husband?  He
      Who, scanning his unwedded life,
   Thanks Heaven, with a conscience free,
      ’Twas faithful to his future wife.

_Venus Victrix_.

   Fatal in force, yet gentle in will,
      Defeats, from her, are tender pacts,
   For, like the kindly lodestone, still
      She’s drawn herself by what she attracts.



   I went not to the Dean’s unbid:
      I would not have my mystery,
   From her so delicately hid,
      The guess of gossips at their tea.
   A long, long week, and not once there,
      Had made my spirit sick and faint,
   And lack-love, foul as love is fair,
      Perverted all things to complaint.
   How vain the world had grown to be!
      How mean all people and their ways,
   How ignorant their sympathy,
      And how impertinent their praise;
   What they for virtuousness esteem’d,
      How far removed from heavenly right;
   What pettiness their trouble seem’d,
      How undelightful their delight;
   To my necessity how strange
      The sunshine and the song of birds;
   How dull the clouds’ continual change,
      How foolishly content the herds;
   How unaccountable the law
      Which bade me sit in blindness here,
   While she, the sun by which I saw,
      Shed splendour in an idle sphere!
   And then I kiss’d her stolen glove,
      And sigh’d to reckon and define
   The modes of martyrdom in love,
      And how far each one might be mine.
   I thought how love, whose vast estate
      Is earth and air and sun and sea,
   Encounters oft the beggar’s fate,
      Despised on score of poverty;
   How Heaven, inscrutable in this,
      Lets the gross general make or mar
   The destiny of love, which is
      So tender and particular;
   How nature, as unnatural
      And contradicting nature’s source,
   Which is but love, seems most of all
      Well-pleased to harry true love’s course;
   How, many times, it comes to pass
      That trifling shades of temperament,
   Affecting only one, alas,
      Not love, but love’s success prevent;
   How manners often falsely paint
      The man; how passionate respect,
   Hid by itself, may bear the taint
      Of coldness and a dull neglect;
   And how a little outward dust
      Can a clear merit quite o’ercloud,
   And make her fatally unjust,
      And him desire a darker shroud;
   How senseless opportunity
      Gives baser men the better chance;
   How powers, adverse else, agree
      To cheat her in her ignorance;
   How Heaven its very self conspires
      With man and nature against love,
   As pleased to couple cross desires,
      And cross where they themselves approve.
   Wretched were life, if the end were now!
      But this gives tears to dry despair,
   Faith shall be blest, we know not how,
      And love fulfill’d, we know not where.


   While thus I grieved, and kiss’d her glove,
      My man brought in her note to say,
   Papa had hid her send his love,
      And would I dine with them next day?
   They had learn’d and practised Purcell’s glee,
      To sing it by to-morrow night.
   The Postscript was: Her sisters and she
      Inclosed some violets, blue and white;
   She and her sisters found them where
      I wager’d once no violets grew;
   So they had won the gloves.  And there
      The violets lay, two white, one blue.

The Dean.


_Perfect Love rare_.

   MOST rare is still most noble found,
      Most noble still most incomplete;
   Sad law, which leaves King Love uncrown’d
      In this obscure, terrestrial seat!
   With bale more sweet than others’ bliss,
      And bliss more wise than others’ bale,
   The secrets of the world are his.
      And freedom without let or pale.
   O, zealous good, O, virtuous glee,
      Religious, and without alloy,
   O, privilege high, which none but he
      Who highly merits can enjoy;
   O, Love, who art that fabled sun
      Which all the world with bounty loads,
   Without respect of realms, save one,
      And gilds with double lustre Rhodes;
   A day of whose delicious life,
      Though full of terrors, full of tears,
   Is better than of other life
      A hundred thousand million years;
   Thy heavenly splendour magnifies
      The least commixture of earth’s mould,
   Cheapens thyself in thine own eyes,
      And makes the foolish mocker bold.

_Love Justified_.

   What if my pole-star of respect
      Be dim to others?  Shall their ‘Nay,’
   Presumably their own defect,
      Invalidate my heart’s strong ‘Yea’?
   And can they rightly me condemn,
      If I, with partial love, prefer?
   I am not more unjust to them,
      But only not unjust to her.
   Leave us alone!  After awhile,
      This pool of private charity
   Shall make its continent an isle,
      And roll, a world-embracing sea;
   This foolish zeal of lip for lip,
      This fond, self-sanction’d, wilful zest,
   Is that elect relationship
      Which forms and sanctions all the rest;
   This little germ of nuptial love,
      Which springs so simply from the sod,
   The root is, as my song shall prove,
      Of all our love to man and God.

_Love Serviceable_.

   What measure Fate to him shall mete
      Is not the noble Lover’s care;
   He’s heart-sick with a longing sweet
      To make her happy as she’s fair.
   Oh, misery, should she him refuse,
      And so her dearest good mistake!
   His own success he thus pursues
      With frantic zeal for her sole sake.
   To lose her were his life to blight,
      Being loss to hers; to make her his,
   Except as helping her delight,
      He calls but incidental bliss;
   And holding life as so much pelf
      To buy her posies, learns this lore:
   He does not rightly love himself
      Who does not love another more.

_A Riddle Solved_.

   Kind souls, you wonder why, love you,
      When you, you wonder why, love none.
   We love, Fool, for the good we do,
      Not that which unto us is done!



   The Ladies rose.  I held the door,
      And sigh’d, as her departing grace
   Assured me that she always wore
      A heart as happy as her face;
   And, jealous of the winds that blew,
      I dreaded, o’er the tasteless wine,
   What fortune momently might do
      To hurt the hope that she’d be mine.


   Towards my mark the Dean’s talk set:
      He praised my ‘Notes on Abury,’
   Read when the Association met
      At Sarum; he was pleased to see
   I had not stopp’d, as some men had,
      At Wrangler and Prize Poet; last,
   He hoped the business was not bad
      I came about: then the wine pass’d.


   A full glass prefaced my reply:
      I loved his daughter, Honor; I told
   My estate and prospects; might I try
      To win her?  At my words so bold
   My sick heart sank.  Then he: He gave
      His glad consent, if I could get
   Her love.  A dear, good Girl! she’d have
      Only three thousand pounds as yet;
   More bye and bye.  Yes, his good will
      Should go with me; he would not stir;
   He and my father in old time still
      Wish’d I should one day marry her;
   But God so seldom lets us take
      Our chosen pathway, when it lies
   In steps that either mar or make
      Or alter others’ destinies,
   That, though his blessing and his pray’r
      Had help’d, should help, my suit, yet he
   Left all to me, his passive share
      Consent and opportunity.
   My chance, he hoped, was good: I’d won
      Some name already; friends and place
   Appear’d within my reach, but none
      Her mind and manners would not grace.
   Girls love to see the men in whom
      They invest their vanities admired;
   Besides, where goodness is, there room
      For good to work will be desired.
   ’Twas so with one now pass’d away;
      And what she was at twenty-two,
   Honor was now; and he might say
      Mine was a choice I could not rue.


   He ceased, and gave his hand.  He had won
      (And all my heart was in my word),
   From me the affection of a son,
      Whichever fortune Heaven conferr’d!
   Well, well, would I take more wine?  Then go
      To her; she makes tea on the lawn
   These fine warm afternoons.  And so
      We went whither my soul was drawn;
   And her light-hearted ignorance
      Of interest in our discourse
   Fill’d me with love, and seem’d to enhance
      Her beauty with pathetic force,
   As, through the flowery mazes sweet,
      Fronting the wind that flutter’d blythe,
   And loved her shape, and kiss’d her feet,
      Shown to their insteps proud and lithe,
   She approach’d, all mildness and young trust,
      And ever her chaste and noble air
   Gave to love’s feast its choicest gust,
      A vague, faint augury of despair.

Ætna and the Moon.


_Love’s Immortality_.

   How vilely ’twere to misdeserve
      The poet’s gift of perfect speech,
   In song to try, with trembling nerve,
      The limit of its utmost reach,
   Only to sound the wretched praise
      Of what to-morrow shall not be;
   So mocking with immortal bays
      The cross-bones of mortality!
   I do not thus.  My faith is fast
      That all the loveliness I sing
   Is made to bear the mortal blast,
      And blossom in a better Spring.
   Doubts of eternity ne’er cross
      The Lover’s mind, divinely clear;
   _For ever_ is the gain or loss
      Which maddens him with hope or fear:
   So trifles serve for his relief,
      And trifles make him sick and pale;
   And yet his pleasure and his grief
      Are both on a majestic scale.
   The chance, indefinitely small,
      Of issue infinitely great,
   Eclipses finite interests all,
      And has the dignity of fate.

_Heaven and Earth_.

   How long shall men deny the flower
      Because its roots are in the earth,
   And crave with tears from God the dower
      They have, and have despised as dearth,
   And scorn as low their human lot,
      With frantic pride, too blind to see
   That standing on the head makes not
      Either for ease or dignity!
   But fools shall feel like fools to find
      (Too late inform’d) that angels’ mirth
   Is one in cause, and mode, and kind
      With that which they profaned on earth.



   To soothe my heart I, feigning, seized
      A pen, and, showering tears, declared
   My unfeign’d passion; sadly pleased
      Only to dream that so I dared.
   Thus was the fervid truth confess’d,
      But wild with paradox ran the plea.
   As wilfully in hope depress’d,
      Yet bold beyond hope’s warranty:


   ‘O, more than dear, be more than just,
      And do not deafly shut the door!
   I claim no right to speak; I trust
      Mercy, not right; yet who has more?
   For, if more love makes not more fit,
      Of claimants here none’s more nor less,
   Since your great worth does not permit
      Degrees in our unworthiness.
   Yet, if there’s aught that can be done
      With arduous labour of long years,
   By which you’ll say that you’ll be won,
      O tell me, and I’ll dry my tears.
   Ah, no; if loving cannot move,
      How foolishly must labour fail!
   The use of deeds is to show love;
      If signs suffice let these avail:
   Your name pronounced brings to my heart
      A feeling like the violet’s breath,
   Which does so much of heaven impart
      It makes me amorous of death;
   The winds that in the garden toss
      The Guelder-roses give me pain,
   Alarm me with the dread of loss,
      Exhaust me with the dream of gain;
   I’m troubled by the clouds that move;
      Tired by the breath which I respire;
   And ever, like a torch, my love,
      Thus agitated, flames the higher;
   All’s hard that has not you for goal;
      I scarce can move my hand to write,
   For love engages all my soul,
      And leaves the body void of might;
   The wings of will spread idly, as do
      The bird’s that in a vacuum lies;
   My breast, asleep with dreams of you,
      Forgets to breathe, and bursts in sighs;
   I see no rest this side the grave,
      No rest nor hope, from you apart;
   Your life is in the rose you gave,
      Its perfume suffocates my heart;
   There’s no refreshment in the breeze;
      The heaven o’erwhelms me with its blue;
   I faint beside the dancing seas;
      Winds, skies, and waves are only you;
   The thought or act which not intends
      You service seems a sin and shame;
   In that one only object ends
      Conscience, religion, honour, fame.
   Ah, could I put off love!  Could we
      Never have met!  What calm, what ease!
   Nay, but, alas, this remedy
      Were ten times worse than the disease!
   For when, indifferent, I pursue
      The world’s best pleasures for relief,
   My heart, still sickening back to you,
      Finds none like memory of its grief;
   And, though ’twere very hell to hear
      You felt such misery as I,
   All good, save you, were far less dear!
      Than is that ill with which I die
   Where’er I go, wandering forlorn,
      You are the world’s love, life, and glee:
   Oh, wretchedness not to be borne
      If she that’s Love should not love me!’


   I could not write another word,
      Through pity for my own distress;
   And forth I went, untimely stirr’d
      To make my misery more or less.
   I went, beneath the heated noon,
      To where, in her simplicity,
   She sate at work; and, as the Moon
      On Ætna smiles, she smiled on me.
   But, now and then, in cheek and eyes,
      I saw, or fancied, such a glow
   As when, in summer-evening skies,
      Some say, ‘It lightens,’ some say, ‘No.’
   ‘Honoria,’ I began—No more.
      The Dean, by ill or happy hap,
   Came home; and Wolf burst in before,
      And put his nose upon her lap.

Sarum Plain.


_Life of Life_.

   WHAT’S that, which, ere I spake, was gone?
      So joyful and intense a spark
   That, whilst o’erhead the wonder shone,
      The day, before but dull, grew dark.
   I do not know; but this I know,
      That, had the splendour lived a year,
   The truth that I some heavenly show
      Did see, could not be now more clear.
   This know I too: might mortal breath
      Express the passion then inspired,
   Evil would die a natural death,
      And nothing transient be desired;
   And error from the soul would pass,
      And leave the senses pure and strong
   As sunbeams.  But the best, alas,
      Has neither memory nor tongue!

_The Revelation_.

   An idle poet, here and there,
      Looks round him; but, for all the rest,
   The world, unfathomably fair,
      Is duller than a witling’s jest.
   Love wakes men, once a lifetime each;
      They lift their heavy lids, and look;
   And, lo, what one sweet page can teach,
      They read with joy, then shut the book.
   And some give thanks, and some blaspheme,
      And most forget; but, either way,
   That and the Child’s unheeded dream
      Is all the light of all their day.

_The Spirit’s Epochs_.

   Not in the crises of events,
      Of compass’d hopes, or fears fulfill’d,
   Or acts of gravest consequence,
      Are life’s delight and depth reveal’d.
   The day of days was not the day;
      That went before, or was postponed;
   The night Death took our lamp away
      Was not the night on which we groan’d.
   I drew my bride, beneath the moon,
      Across my threshold; happy hour!
   But, ah, the walk that afternoon
      We saw the water-flags in flower!

_The Prototype_.

   Lo, there, whence love, life, light are pour’d,
      Veil’d with impenetrable rays,
   Amidst the presence of the Lord
      Co-equal Wisdom laughs and plays.
   Female and male God made the man;
      His image is the whole, not half;
   And in our love we dimly scan
      The love which is between Himself.

_The Praise of Love_.

   Spirit of Knowledge, grant me this:
      A simple heart and subtle wit
   To praise the thing whose praise it is
      That all which can be praised is it.



   Breakfast enjoy’d, ’mid hush of boughs
      And perfumes thro’ the windows blown;
   Brief worship done, which still endows
      The day with beauty not its own;
   With intervening pause, that paints
      Each act with honour, life with calm
   (As old processions of the Saints
      At every step have wands of palm),
   We rose; the ladies went to dress,
      And soon return’d with smiles; and then,
   Plans fix’d, to which the Dean said ‘Yes,’
      Once more we drove to Salisbury Plain.
   We past my house (observed with praise
      By Mildred, Mary acquiesced),
   And left the old and lazy greys
      Below the hill, and walk’d the rest.


   The moods of love are like the wind,
      And none knows whence or why they rise:
   I ne’er before felt heart and mind
      So much affected through mine eyes.
   How cognate with the flatter’d air,
      How form’d for earth’s familiar zone,
   She moved; how feeling and how fair
      For others’ pleasure and her own!
   And, ah, the heaven of her face!
      How, when she laugh’d, I seem’d to see
   The gladness of the primal grace,
      And how, when grave, its dignity!
   Of all she was, the least not less
      Delighted the devoted eye;
   No fold or fashion of her dress
      Her fairness did not sanctify.
   I could not else than grieve.  What cause?
      Was I not blest?  Was she not there?
   Likely my own?  Ah, that it was:
      How like seem’d ‘likely’ to despair!


   And yet to see her so benign,
      So honourable and womanly,
   In every maiden kindness mine,
      And full of gayest courtesy,
   Was pleasure so without alloy,
      Such unreproved, sufficient bliss,
   I almost wish’d, the while, that joy
      Might never further go than this.
   So much it was as now to walk,
      And humbly by her gentle side
   Observe her smile and hear her talk,
      Could it be more to call her Bride?
   I feign’d her won: the mind finite,
      Puzzled and fagg’d by stress and strain
   To comprehend the whole delight,
      Made bliss more hard to bear than pain.
   All good, save heart to hold, so summ’d
      And grasp’d, the thought smote, like a knife,
   How laps’d mortality had numb’d
      The feelings to the feast of life;
   How passing good breathes sweetest breath;
      And love itself at highest reveals
   More black than bright, commending death
      By teaching how much life conceals.


   But happier passions these subdued,
      When from the close and sultry lane,
   With eyes made bright by what they view’d,
      We emerged upon the mounded Plain.
   As to the breeze a flag unfurls,
      My spirit expanded, sweetly embraced
   By those same gusts that shook her curls
      And vex’d the ribbon at her waist.
   To the future cast I future cares;
      Breathed with a heart unfreighted, free,
   And laugh’d at the presumptuous airs
      That with her muslins folded me;
   Till, one vague rack along my sky,
      The thought that she might ne’er be mine
   Lay half forgotten by the eye
      So feasted with the sun’s warm shine.


   By the great stones we chose our ground
      For shade; and there, in converse sweet,
   Took luncheon.  On a little mound
      Sat the three ladies; at their feet
   I sat; and smelt the heathy smell,
      Pluck’d harebells, turn’d the telescope
   To the country round.  My life went well,
      For once, without the wheels of hope;
   And I despised the Druid rocks
      That scowl’d their chill gloom from above,
   Like churls whose stolid wisdom mocks
      The lightness of immortal love.
   And, as we talk’d, my spirit quaff’d
      The sparkling winds; the candid skies
   At our untruthful strangeness laugh’d;
      I kiss’d with mine her smiling eyes;
   And sweet familiarness and awe
      Prevail’d that hour on either part,
   And in the eternal light I saw
      That she was mine; though yet my heart
   Could not conceive, nor would confess
      Such contentation; and there grew
   More form and more fair stateliness
      Than heretofore between us two.



_The Wife’s Tragedy_.

   MAN must be pleased; but him to please
      Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf
   Of his condoled necessities
      She casts her best, she flings herself.
   How often flings for nought, and yokes
      Her heart to an icicle or whim,
   Whose each impatient word provokes
      Another, not from her, but him;
   While she, too gentle even to force
      His penitence by kind replies,
   Waits by, expecting his remorse,
      With pardon in her pitying eyes;
   And if he once, by shame oppress’d,
      A comfortable word confers,
   She leans and weeps against his breast,
      And seems to think the sin was hers;
   And whilst his love has any life,
      Or any eye to see her charms,
   At any time, she’s still his wife,
      Dearly devoted to his arms;
   She loves with love that cannot tire;
      And when, ah woe, she loves alone,
   Through passionate duty love springs higher,
      As grass grows taller round a stone.

_Common Graces_.

   Is nature in thee too spiritless,
      Ignoble, impotent, and dead,
   To prize her love and loveliness
      The more for being thy daily bread?
   And art thou one of that vile crew
      Which see no splendour in the sun,
   Praising alone the good that’s new,
      Or over, or not yet begun?
   And has it dawn’d on thy dull wits
      That love warms many as soft a nest,
   That, though swathed round with benefits,
      Thou art not singularly blest?
   And fail thy thanks for gifts divine,
      The common food of many a heart,
   Because they are not only thine?
      Beware lest in the end thou art
   Cast for thy pride forth from the fold,
      Too good to feel the common grace
   Of blissful myriads who behold
      For evermore the Father’s face.

_The Zest of Life_.

   Give thanks.  It is not time misspent;
      Worst fare this betters, and the best,
   Wanting this natural condiment,
      Breeds crudeness, and will not digest.
   The grateful love the Giver’s law;
      But those who eat, and look no higher,
   From sin or doubtful sanction draw
      The biting sauce their feasts require.
   Give thanks for nought, if you’ve no more,
      And, having all things, do not doubt
   That nought, with thanks, is blest before
      Whate’er the world can give, without.

_Fool and Wise_.

   Endow the fool with sun and moon,
      Being his, he holds them mean and low,
   But to the wise a little boon
      Is great, because the giver’s so.



   I stood by Honor and the Dean,
      They seated in the London train.
   A month from her! yet this had been,
      Ere now, without such bitter pain.
   But neighbourhood makes parting light,
      And distance remedy has none;
   Alone, she near, I felt as might
      A blind man sitting in the sun;
   She near, all for the time was well;
      Hope’s self, when we were far apart,
   With lonely feeling, like the smell
      Of heath on mountains, fill’d my heart.
   To see her seem’d delight’s full scope,
      And her kind smile, so clear of care,
   Ev’n then, though darkening all my hope,
      Gilded the cloud of my despair.


   She had forgot to bring a book.
      I lent one; blamed the print for old;
   And did not tell her that she took
      A Petrarch worth its weight in gold.
   I hoped she’d lose it; for my love
      Was grown so dainty, high, and nice,
   It prized no luxury above
      The sense of fruitless sacrifice.


   The bell rang, and, with shrieks like death,
      Link catching link, the long array,
   With ponderous pulse and fiery breath,
      Proud of its burthen, swept away;
   And through the lingering crowd I broke,
      Sought the hill-side, and thence, heart-sick,
   Beheld, far off, the little smoke
      Along the landscape kindling quick.


   What should I do, where should I go,
      Now she was gone, my love! for mine
   She was, whatever here below
      Cross’d or usurp’d my right divine.
   Life, without her, was vain and gross,
      The glory from the world was gone,
   And on the gardens of the Close
      As on Sahara shone the sun.
   Oppress’d with her departed grace,
      My thoughts on ill surmises fed;
   The harmful influence of the place
      She went to fill’d my soul with dread.
   She, mixing with the people there,
      Might come back alter’d, having caught
   The foolish, fashionable air
      Of knowing all, and feeling nought.
   Or, giddy with her beauty’s praise,
      She’d scorn our simple country life,
   Its wholesome nights and tranquil days.
      And would not deign to be my Wife.
   ‘My Wife,’ ‘my Wife,’ ah, tenderest word!
      How oft, as fearful she might hear,
   Whispering that name of ‘Wife,’ I heard
      The chiming of the inmost sphere.


   I pass’d the home of my regret.
      The clock was striking in the hall,
   And one sad window open yet,
      Although the dews began to fall.
   Ah, distance show’d her beauty’s scope!
      How light of heart and innocent
   That loveliness which sicken’d hope
      And wore the world for ornament!
   How perfectly her life was framed;
      And, thought of in that passionate mood,
   How her affecting graces shamed
      The vulgar life that was but good!


   I wonder’d, would her bird be fed,
      Her rose-plots water’d, she not by;
   Loading my breast with angry dread
      Of light, unlikely injury.
   So, fill’d with love and fond remorse,
      I paced the Close, its every part
   Endow’d with reliquary force
      To heal and raise from death my heart.
   How tranquil and unsecular
      The precinct!  Once, through yonder gate,
   I saw her go, and knew from far
      Her love-lit form and gentle state.
   Her dress had brush’d this wicket; here
      She turn’d her face, and laugh’d, with light
   Like moonbeams on a wavering mere.
      Weary beforehand of the night,
   I went; the blackbird, in the wood
      Talk’d by himself, and eastward grew
   In heaven the symbol of my mood,
      Where one bright star engross’d the blue.

Church to Church.


_The Joyful Wisdom_.

   WOULD Wisdom for herself be woo’d,
      And wake the foolish from his dream,
   She must be glad as well as good,
      And must not only be, but seem.
   Beauty and joy are hers by right;
      And, knowing this, I wonder less
   That she’s so scorn’d, when falsely dight
      In misery and ugliness.
   What’s that which Heaven to man endears,
      And that which eyes no sooner see
   Than the heart says, with floods of tears,
      ‘Ah, that’s the thing which I would be!’
   Not childhood, full of frown and fret;
      Not youth, impatient to disown
   Those visions high, which to forget
      Were worse than never to have known;
   Not worldlings, in whose fair outside
      Nor courtesy nor justice fails,
   Thanks to cross-pulling vices tied,
      Like Samson’s foxes, by the tails;
   Not poets; real things are dreams,
      When dreams are as realities,
   And boasters of celestial gleams
      Go stumbling aye for want of eyes;
   Not patriots or people’s men,
      In whom two worse-match’d evils meet
   Than ever sought Adullam’s den,
      Base conscience and a high conceit;
   Not new-made saints, their feelings iced,
      Their joy in man and nature gone,
   Who sing ‘O easy yoke of Christ!’
      But find ’tis hard to get it on;
   Not great men, even when they’re good;
      The good man whom the time makes great,
   By some disgrace of chance or blood,
      God fails not to humiliate;
   Not these: but souls, found here and there,
      Oases in our waste of sin,
   Where everything is well and fair,
      And Heav’n remits its discipline;
   Whose sweet subdual of the world
      The worldling scarce can recognise,
   And ridicule, against it hurl’d,
      Drops with a broken sting and dies;
   Who nobly, if they cannot know
      Whether a ’scutcheon’s dubious field
   Carries a falcon or a crow,
      Fancy a falcon on the shield;
   Yet, ever careful not to hurt
      God’s honour, who creates success,
   Their praise of even the best desert
      Is but to have presumed no less;
   Who, should their own life plaudits bring,
      Are simply vex’d at heart that such
   An easy, yea, delightful thing
      Should move the minds of men so much.
   They live by law, not like the fool,
      But like the bard, who freely sings
   In strictest bonds of rhyme and rule,
      And finds in them, not bonds, but wings.
   Postponing still their private ease
      To courtly custom, appetite,
   Subjected to observances,
      To banquet goes with full delight;
   Nay, continence and gratitude
      So cleanse their lives from earth’s alloy,
   They taste, in Nature’s common food,
      Nothing but spiritual joy.
   They shine like Moses in the face,
      And teach our hearts, without the rod,
   That God’s grace is the only grace,
      And all grace is the grace of God.

_The Devices_.

   Love, kiss’d by Wisdom, wakes twice Love,
      And Wisdom is, thro’ loving, wise.
   Let Dove and Snake, and Snake and Dove,
      This Wisdom’s be, that Love’s device.



   I woke at three; for I was bid
      To breakfast with the Dean at nine,
   And thence to Church.  My curtain slid,
      I found the dawning Sunday fine,
   And could not rest, so rose.  The air
      Was dark and sharp; the roosted birds
   Cheep’d, ‘Here am I, Sweet; are you there?’
      On Avon’s misty flats the herds
   Expected, comfortless, the day,
      Which slowly fired the clouds above;
   The cock scream’d, somewhere far away;
      In sleep the matrimonial dove
   Was crooning; no wind waked the wood,
      Nor moved the midnight river-damps,
   Nor thrill’d the poplar; quiet stood
      The chestnut with its thousand lamps;
   The moon shone yet, but weak and drear,
      And seem’d to watch, with bated breath,
   The landscape, all made sharp and clear
      By stillness, as a face by death.


   My pray’rs for her being done, I took
      Occasion by the quiet hour
   To find and know, by Rule and Book,
      The rights of love’s beloved power.


   Fronting the question without ruth,
      Nor ignorant that, evermore,
   If men will stoop to kiss the Truth,
      She lifts them higher than before,
   I, from above, such light required
      As now should once for all destroy
   The folly which at times desired
      A sanction for so great a joy.


   Thenceforth, and through that pray’r, I trod
      A path with no suspicions dim.
   I loved her in the name of God,
      And for the ray she was of Him;
   I ought to admire much more, not less
      Her beauty was a godly grace;
   The mystery of loveliness,
      Which made an altar of her face,
   Was not of the flesh, though that was fair,
      But a most pure and living light
   Without a name, by which the rare
      And virtuous spirit flamed to sight.
   If oft, in love, effect lack’d cause
      And cause effect, ’twere vain to soar
   Reasons to seek for that which was
      Reason itself, or something more.
   My joy was no idolatry
      Upon the ends of the vile earth bent,
   For when I loved her most then I
      Most yearn’d for more divine content.
   That other doubt, which, like a ghost,
      In the brain’s darkness haunted me,
   Was thus resolved: Him loved I most,
      But her I loved most sensibly.
   Lastly, my giddiest hope allow’d
      No selfish thought, or earthly smirch;
   And forth I went, in peace, and proud
      To take my passion into Church;
   Grateful and glad to think that all
      Such doubts would seem entirely vain
   To her whose nature’s lighter fall
      Made no divorce of heart from brain.


   I found them, with exactest grace
      And fresh as Spring, for Spring attired;
   And by the radiance in her face
      I saw she felt she was admired;
   And, through the common luck of love,
      A moment’s fortunate delay,
   To fit the little lilac glove,
      Gave me her arm; and I and they
   (They true to this and every hour,
      As if attended on by Time),
   Enter’d the Church while yet the tower
      Was noisy with the finish’d chime.


   Her soft voice, singularly heard
      Beside me, in her chant, withstood
   The roar of voices, like a bird
      Sole warbling in a windy wood;
   And, when we knelt, she seem’d to be
      An angel teaching me to pray;
   And all through the high Liturgy
      My spirit rejoiced without allay,
   Being, for once, borne clearly above
      All banks and bars of ignorance,
   By this bright spring-tide of pure love,
      And floated in a free expanse,
   Whence it could see from side to side,
      The obscurity from every part
   Winnow’d away and purified
      By the vibrations of my heart.

The Dance.


_The Daughter of Eve_.

   THE woman’s gentle mood o’erstept
      Withers my love, that lightly scans
   The rest, and does in her accept
      All her own faults, but none of man’s.
   As man I cannot judge her ill,
      Or honour her fair station less,
   Who, with a woman’s errors, still
      Preserves a woman’s gentleness;
   For thus I think, if one I see
      Who disappoints my high desire,
   ‘How admirable would she be,
      Could she but know how I admire!’
   Or fail she, though from blemish clear,
      To charm, I call it my defect;
   And so my thought, with reverent fear
      To err by doltish disrespect,
   Imputes love’s great regard, and says,
      ‘Though unapparent ’tis to me,
   Be sure this Queen some other sways
      With well-perceiv’d supremacy.’
   Behold the worst!  Light from above
      On the blank ruin writes ‘Forbear!
   Her first crime was unguarded love,
      And all the rest, perhaps, despair.’
   Discrown’d, dejected, but not lost,
      O, sad one, with no more a name
   Or place in all the honour’d host
      Of maiden and of matron fame,
   Grieve on; but, if thou grievest right,
      ’Tis not that these abhor thy state,
   Nor would’st thou lower the least the height
      Which makes thy casting down so great.
   Good is thy lot in its degree;
      For hearts that verily repent
   Are burden’d with impunity
      And comforted by chastisement.
   Sweet patience sanctify thy woes!
      And doubt not but our God is just,
   Albeit unscathed thy traitor goes,
      And thou art stricken to the dust.
   That penalty’s the best to bear
      Which follows soonest on the sin;
   And guilt’s a game where losers fare
      Better than those who seem to win.

_Aurea Dicta_.

   ’Tis truth (although this truth’s a star
      Too deep-enskied for all to see),
   As poets of grammar, lovers are
      The fountains of morality.

   Child, would you shun the vulgar doom,
      In love disgust, in death despair?
   Know, death must come and love must come,
      And so for each your soul prepare.

   Who pleasure follows pleasure slays;
      God’s wrath upon himself he wreaks;
   But all delights rejoice his days
      Who takes with thanks, and never seeks.

   The wrong is made and measured by
      The right’s inverted dignity.
   Change love to shame, as love is high
      So low in hell your bed shall be.

   How easy to keep free from sin!
      How hard that freedom to recall!
   For dreadful truth it is that men
      Forget the heavens from which they fall.

   Lest sacred love your soul ensnare,
      With pious fancy still infer
   ‘How loving and how lovely fair
      Must He be who has fashion’d her!’

   Become whatever good you see,
      Nor sigh if, forthwith, fades from view
   The grace of which you may not be
      The subject and spectator too.

   Love’s perfect blossom only blows
      Where noble manners veil defect
   Angels maybe familiar; those
      Who err each other must respect.

   Love blabb’d of is a great decline;
      A careless word unsanctions sense;
   But he who casts Heaven’s truth to swine
      Consummates all incontinence.

   Not to unveil before the gaze
      Of an imperfect sympathy
   In aught we are, is the sweet praise
      And the main sum of modesty.



   ‘My memory of Heaven awakes!
      She’s not of the earth, although her light,
   As lantern’d by her body, makes
      A piece of it past bearing bright.
   So innocently proud and fair
      She is, that Wisdom sings for glee
   And Folly dies, breathing one air
      With such a bright-cheek’d chastity;
   And though her charms are a strong law
      Compelling all men to admire,
   They go so clad with lovely awe
      None but the noble dares desire.
   He who would seek to make her his
      Will comprehend that souls of grace
   Own sweet repulsion, and that ’tis
      The quality of their embrace
   To be like the majestic reach
      Of coupled suns, that, from afar,
   Mingle their mutual spheres, while each
      Circles the twin obsequious star;
   And, in the warmth of hand to hand,
      Of heart to heart, he’ll vow to note
   And reverently understand
      How the two spirits shine remote;
   And ne’er to numb fine honour’s nerve,
      Nor let sweet awe in passion melt,
   Nor fail by courtesies to observe
      The space which makes attraction felt;
   Nor cease to guard like life the sense
      Which tells him that the embrace of love
   Is o’er a gulf of difference
      Love cannot sound, nor death remove.’


   This learn’d I, watching where she danced,
      Native to melody and light,
   And now and then toward me glanced,
      Pleased, as I hoped, to please my sight.


   Ah, love to speak was impotent,
      Till music did a tongue confer,
   And I ne’er knew what music meant,
      Until I danced to it with her.
   Too proud of the sustaining power
      Of my, till then, unblemish’d joy.
   My passion, for reproof, that hour
      Tasted mortality’s alloy,
   And bore me down an eddying gulf;
      I wish’d the world might run to wreck,
   So I but once might fling myself
      Obliviously about her neck.
   I press’d her hand, by will or chance
      I know not, but I saw the rays
   Withdrawn, which did till then enhance
      Her fairness with its thanks for praise.
   I knew my spirit’s vague offence
      Was patent to the dreaming eye
   And heavenly tact of innocence,
      And did for fear my fear defy,
   And ask’d her for the next dance.  ‘Yes.’
      ‘No,’ had not fall’n with half the force.
   She was fulfill’d with gentleness,
      And I with measureless remorse;
   And, ere I slept, on bended knee
      I own’d myself, with many a tear,
   Unseasonable, disorderly,
      And a deranger of love’s sphere;
   Gave thanks that, when we stumble and fall,
      We hurt ourselves, and not the truth;
   And, rising, found its brightness all
      The brighter through the tears of ruth.


   Nor was my hope that night made less,
      Though order’d, humbled, and reproved;
   Her farewell did her heart express
      As much, but not with anger, moved.
   My trouble had my soul betray’d;
      And, in the night of my despair,
   My love, a flower of noon afraid,
      Divulged its fulness unaware.
   I saw she saw; and, O sweet Heaven,
      Could my glad mind have credited
   That influence had to me been given
      To affect her so, I should have said
   That, though she from herself conceal’d
      Love’s felt delight and fancied harm,
   They made her face the jousting field
      Of joy and beautiful alarm.

The Abdication.


_The Chace_.

   SHE wearies with an ill unknown;
      In sleep she sobs and seems to float,
   A water-lily, all alone
      Within a lonely castle-moat;
   And as the full-moon, spectral, lies
      Within the crescent’s gleaming arms,
   The present shows her heedless eyes
      A future dim with vague alarms.
   She sees, and yet she scarcely sees,
      For, life-in-life not yet begun,
   Too many are its mysteries
      For thought to fix on any one.
   She’s told that maidens are by youths
      Extremely honour’d and desired;
   And sighs, ‘If those sweet tales be truths,
      What bliss to be so much admired!’
   The suitors come; she sees them grieve;
      Her coldness fills them with despair;
   She’d pity if she could believe;
      She’s sorry that she cannot care.
   But who now meets her on her way?
      Comes he as enemy or friend,
   Or both?  Her bosom seems to say,
      He cannot pass, and there an end.
   Whom does he love?  Does he confer
      His heart on worth that answers his?
   Or is he come to worship her?
      She fears, she hopes, she thinks he is!
   Advancing stepless, quick, and still,
      As in the grass a serpent glides,
   He fascinates her fluttering will,
      Then terrifies with dreadful strides.
   At first, there’s nothing to resist;
      He fights with all the forms of peace;
   He comes about her like a mist,
      With subtle, swift, unseen increase;
   And then, unlook’d for, strikes amain
      Some stroke that frightens her to death,
   And grows all harmlessness again,
      Ere she can cry, or get her breath.
   At times she stops, and stands at bay;
      But he, in all more strong than she,
   Subdues her with his pale dismay,
      Or more admired audacity.
   She plans some final, fatal blow,
      But when she means with frowns to kill,
   He looks as if he loved her so,
      She smiles to him against her will.
   How sweetly he implies her praise!
      His tender talk, his gentle tone,
   The manly worship in his gaze,
      They nearly make her heart his own.
   With what an air he speaks her name;
      His manner always recollects
   Her sex, and still the woman’s claim
      Is taught its scope by his respects.
   Her charms, perceived to prosper first
      In his beloved advertencies,
   When in her glass they are rehearsed,
      Prove his most powerful allies.
   Ah, whither shall a maiden flee,
      When a bold youth so swift pursues,
   And siege of tenderest courtesy,
      With hope perseverant, still renews!
   Why fly so fast?  Her flatter’d breast
      Thanks him who finds her fair and good;
   She loves her fears; veil’d joys arrest
      The foolish terrors of her blood;
   By secret, sweet degrees, her heart,
      Vanquish’d, takes warmth from his desire;
   She makes it more, with hidden art,
      And fuels love’s late dreaded fire.
   The generous credit he accords
      To all the signs of good in her
   Redeems itself; his praiseful words
      The virtues they impute confer.
   Her heart is thrice as rich in bliss,
      She’s three times gentler than before;
   He gains a right to call her his,
      Now she through him is so much more;
   ’Tis heaven where’er she turns her head;
      ’Tis music when she talks; ’tis air
   On which, elate, she seems to tread,
      The convert of a gladder sphere!
   Ah, might he, when by doubts aggrieved,
      Behold his tokens next her breast,
   At all his words and sighs perceived
      Against its blythe upheaval press’d!
   But still she flies.  Should she be won,
      It must not be believed or thought
   She yields; she’s chased to death, undone,
      Surprised, and violently caught.


   The storm-cloud, whose portentous shade
      Fumes from a core of smother’d fire,
   His livery is whose worshipp’d maid
      Denies herself to his desire.
   Ah, grief that almost crushes life,
      To lie upon his lonely bed,
   And fancy her another’s wife!
      His brain is flame, his heart is lead.
   Sinking at last, by nature’s course,
      Cloak’d round with sleep from his despair,
   He does but sleep to gather force
      That goes to his exhausted care.
   He wakes renew’d for all the smart.
      His only Love, and she is wed!
   His fondness comes about his heart,
      As milk comes, when the babe is dead.
   The wretch, whom she found fit for scorn,
      His own allegiant thoughts despise;
   And far into the shining morn
      Lazy with misery he lies.

_The Churl_.

   This marks the Churl: when spousals crown
      His selfish hope, he finds the grace,
   Which sweet love has for ev’n the clown,
      Was not in the woman, but the chace.



   From little signs, like little stars,
      Whose faint impression on the sense
   The very looking straight at mars,
      Or only seen by confluence;
   From instinct of a mutual thought,
      Whence sanctity of manners flow’d;
   From chance unconscious, and from what
      Concealment, overconscious, show’d;
   Her hand’s less weight upon my arm,
      Her lowlier mien; that match’d with this;
   I found, and felt with strange alarm
      I stood committed to my bliss.


   I grew assured, before I ask’d,
      That she’d be mine without reserve,
   And in her unclaim’d graces bask’d,
      At leisure, till the time should serve,
   With just enough of dread to thrill
      The hope, and make it trebly dear;
   Thus loth to speak the word to kill
      Either the hope or happy fear.


   Till once, through lanes returning late,
      Her laughing sisters lagg’d behind;
   And, ere we reach’d her father’s gate,
      We paused with one presentient mind;
   And, in the dim and perfumed mist,
      Their coming stay’d, who, friends to me,
   And very women, loved to assist
      Love’s timid opportunity.


   Twice rose, twice died my trembling word;
      The faint and frail Cathedral chimes
   Spake time in music, and we heard
      The chafers rustling in the limes.
   Her dress, that touch’d me where I stood,
      The warmth of her confided arm,
   Her bosom’s gentle neighbourhood,
      Her pleasure in her power to charm;
   Her look, her love, her form, her touch,
      The least seem’d most by blissful turn,
   Blissful but that it pleased too much,
      And taught the wayward soul to yearn.
   It was as if a harp with wires
      Was traversed by the breath I drew;
   And, oh, sweet meeting of desires,
      She, answering, own’d that she loved too.


   Honoria was to be my bride!
      The hopeless heights of hope were scaled
   The summit won, I paused and sigh’d,
      As if success itself had fail’d.
   It seem’d as if my lips approach’d
      To touch at Tantalus’ reward,
   And rashly on Eden life encroach’d,
      Half-blinded by the flaming sword.
   The whole world’s wealthiest and its best,
      So fiercely sought, appear’d when found,
   Poor in its need to be possess’d,
      Poor from its very want of bound.
   My queen was crouching at my side,
      By love unsceptred and brought low,
   Her awful garb of maiden pride
      All melted into tears like snow;
   The mistress of my reverent thought,
      Whose praise was all I ask’d of fame,
   In my close-watch’d approval sought
      Protection as from danger and blame;
   Her soul, which late I loved to invest
      With pity for my poor desert,
   Buried its face within my breast,
      Like a pet fawn by hunters hurt.

Book II.



   HER sons pursue the butterflies,
      Her baby daughter mocks the doves
   With throbbing coo; in his fond eyes
      She’s Venus with her little Loves;
   Her footfall dignifies the earth,
      Her form’s the native-land of grace,
   And, lo, his coming lights with mirth
      Its court and capital her face!
   Full proud her favour makes her lord,
      And that her flatter’d bosom knows.
   She takes his arm without a word,
      In lanes of laurel and of rose.
   Ten years to-day has she been his.
      He but begins to understand,
   He says, the dignity and bliss
      She gave him when she gave her hand.
   She, answering, says, he disenchants
      The past, though that was perfect; he
   Rejoins, the present nothing wants
      But briefness to be ecstasy.
   He lands her charms; her beauty’s glow
      Wins from the spoiler Time new rays;
   Bright looks reply, approving so
      Beauty’s elixir vitæ, praise.
   Upon a beech he bids her mark
      Where, ten years since, he carved her name;
   It grows there with the growing bark,
      And in his heart it grows the same.
   For that her soft arm presses his
      Close to her fond, maternal breast;
   He tells her, each new kindness is
      The effectual sum of all the rest!
   And, whilst the cushat, mocking, coo’d,
      They blest the days they had been wed,
   At cost of those in which he woo’d,
      Till everything was three times said;
   And words were growing vain, when Briggs,
      Factotum, Footman, Butler, Groom,
   Who press’d the cyder, fed the pigs,
      Preserv’d the rabbits, drove the brougham,
   And help’d, at need, to mow the lawns,
      And sweep the paths and thatch the hay,
   Here brought the Post down, Mrs. Vaughan’s
      Sole rival, but, for once, to-day,
   Scarce look’d at; for the ‘Second Book,’
      Till this tenth festival kept close,
   Was thus commenced, while o’er them shook
      The laurel married with the rose.


   ‘The pulse of War, whose bloody heats
      Sane purposes insanely work,
   Now with fraternal frenzy beats,
      And binds the Christian to the Turk,
   And shrieking fifes’—


         But, with a roar,
      In rush’d the Loves; the tallest roll’d
   A hedgehog from his pinafore,
      Which saved his fingers; Baby, bold,
   Touch’d it, and stared, and scream’d for life,
      And stretch’d her hand for Vaughan to kiss,
   Who hugg’d his Pet, and ask’d his wife,
      ‘Is this for love, or love for this?’
   But she turn’d pale, for, lo, the beast,
      Found stock-still in the rabbit-trap,
   And feigning so to be deceased,
      And laid by Frank upon her lap,
   Unglobed himself, and show’d his snout,
      And fell, scatt’ring the Loves amain,
   With shriek, with laughter, and with shout;
      And, peace at last restored again,
   The bard, who this untimely hitch
      Bore with a calm magnanimous,
   (The hedgehog rolled into a ditch,
      And Venus sooth’d), proceeded thus:



_The Song of Songs_.

   THE pulse of War, whose bloody heats
      Sane purposes insanely work,
   Now with fraternal frenzy beats,
      And binds the Christian to the Turk,
   And shrieking fifes and braggart flags,
      Through quiet England, teach our breath
   The courage corporate that drags
      The coward to heroic death.
   Too late for song!  Who henceforth sings,
      Must fledge his heavenly flight with more
   Song-worthy and heroic things
      Than hasty, home-destroying war.
   While might and right are not agreed,
      And battle thus is yet to wage,
   So long let laurels be the meed
      Of soldier as of poet sage;
   But men expect the Tale of Love,
      And weary of the Tale of Hate;
   Lift me, O Muse, myself above,
      And let the world no longer wait!

_The Kites_.

   I saw three Cupids (so I dream’d),
      Who made three kites, on which were drawn,
   In letters that like roses gleam’d,
      ‘Plato,’ ‘Anacreon,’ and ‘Vaughan.’
   The boy who held by Plato tried
      His airy venture first; all sail,
   It heav’nward rush’d till scarce descried,
      Then pitch’d and dropp’d for want of tail.
   Anacreon’s Love, with shouts of mirth
      That pride of spirit thus should fall,
   To his kite link’d a lump of earth,
      And, lo, it would not soar at all.
   Last, my disciple freighted his
      With a long streamer made of flowers,
   The children of the sod, and this
      Rose in the sun, and flew for hours.


   The music of the Sirens found
      Ulysses weak, though cords were strong;
   But happier Orpheus stood unbound,
      And shamed it with a sweeter song.
   His mode be mine.  Of Heav’n I ask,
      May I, with heart-persuading might,
   Pursue the Poet’s sacred task
      Of superseding faith by sight,
   Till ev’n the witless Gadarene,
      Preferring Christ to swine, shall know
   That life is sweetest when it’s clean.
      To prouder folly let me show
   Earth by divine light made divine;
      And let the saints, who hear my word,
   Say, ‘Lo, the clouds begin to shine
      About the coming of the Lord!’

_Nearest the Dearest_.

   Till Eve was brought to Adam, he
      A solitary desert trod,
   Though in the great society
      Of nature, angels, and of God.
   If one slight column counterweighs
      The ocean, ’tis the Maker’s law,
   Who deems obedience better praise
      Than sacrifice of erring awe.


   What seems to us for us is true.
      The planet has no proper light,
   And yet, when Venus is in view,
      No primal star is half so bright.



   What fortune did my heart foretell?
      What shook my spirit, as I woke,
   Like the vibration of a bell
      Of which I had not heard the stroke?
   Was it some happy vision shut
      From memory by the sun’s fresh ray?
   Was it that linnet’s song; or but
      A natural gratitude for day?
   Or the mere joy the senses weave,
      A wayward ecstasy of life?
   Then I remember’d, yester-eve
      I won Honoria for my Wife.


   Forth riding, while as yet the day
      Was dewy, watching Sarum Spire,
   Still beckoning me along my way,
      And growing every minute higher,
   I reach’d the Dean’s.  One blind was down,
      Though nine then struck.  My bride to be!
   And had she rested ill, my own,
      With thinking (oh, my heart!) of me?
   I paced the streets; a pistol chose,
      To guard my now important life
   When riding late from Sarum Close;
      At noon return’d.  Good Mrs. Fife,
   To my, ‘The Dean, is he at home?’
      Said, ‘No, sir; but Miss Honor is;’
   And straight, not asking if I’d come,
      Announced me, ‘Mr. Felix, Miss,’
   To Mildred, in the Study.  There
      We talk’d, she working.  We agreed
   The day was fine; the Fancy-Fair
      Successful; ‘Did I ever read
   De Genlis?’  ‘Never.’  ‘Do!  She heard
      I was engaged.’  ‘To whom?’  ‘Miss Fry
   Was it the fact?’  ‘No!’  ‘On my word?’
      ‘What scandal people talk’d!’  ‘Would I
   Hold out this skein of silk.’  So pass’d
      I knew not how much time away.
   ‘How were her sisters?’  ‘Well.’  At last
      I summon’d heart enough to say,
   ‘I hoped to have seen Miss Churchill too.’
      ‘Miss Churchill, Felix!  What is this?
   I said, and now I find ’tis true,
      Last night you quarrell’d!  Here she is.’


   She came, and seem’d a morning rose
      When ruffling rain has paled its blush;
   Her crown once more was on her brows;
      And, with a faint, indignant flush,
   And fainter smile, she gave her hand,
      But not her eyes, then sate apart,
   As if to make me understand
      The honour of her vanquish’d heart.
   But I drew humbly to her side;
      And she, well pleased, perceiving me
   Liege ever to the noble pride
      Of her unconquer’d majesty,
   Once and for all put it away;
      The faint flush pass’d; and, thereupon,
   Her loveliness, which rather lay
      In light than colour, smiled and shone,
   Till sick was all my soul with bliss;
      Or was it with remorse and ire
   Of such a sanctity as this
      Subdued by love to my desire?

The Course of True Love.


_The Changed Allegiance_.

   WATCH how a bird, that captived sings,
      The cage set open, first looks out,
   Yet fears the freedom of his wings,
      And now withdraws, and flits about,
   And now looks forth again; until,
      Grown bold, he hops on stool and chair,
   And now attains the window-sill,
      And now confides himself to air.
   The maiden so, from love’s free sky
      In chaste and prudent counsels caged,
   But longing to be loosen’d by
      Her suitor’s faith declared and gaged,
   When blest with that release desired,
      First doubts if truly she is free,
   Then pauses, restlessly retired,
      Alarm’d at too much liberty;
   But soon, remembering all her debt
      To plighted passion, gets by rote
   Her duty; says, ‘I love him!’ yet
      The thought half chokes her in her throat;
   And, like that fatal ‘I am thine,’
      Comes with alternate gush and check
   And joltings of the heart, as wine
      Pour’d from a flask of narrow neck.
   Is he indeed her choice?  She fears
      Her Yes was rashly said, and shame,
   Remorse and ineffectual tears
      Revolt from has conceded claim.
   Oh, treason!  So, with desperate nerve,
      She cries, ‘I am in love, am his;’
   Lets run the cables of reserve,
      And floats into a sea of bliss,
   And laughs to think of her alarm,
      Avows she was in love before,
   Though has avowal was the charm
      Which open’d to her own the door.
   She loves him for his mastering air,
      Whence, Parthian-like, she slaying flies;
   His flattering look, which seems to wear
      Her loveliness in manly eyes;
   His smile, which, by reverse, portends
      An awful wrath, should reason stir;
   (How fortunate it is they’re friends,
      And he will ne’er be wroth with her!)
   His power to do or guard from harm;
      If he but chose to use it half,
   And catch her up in one strong arm,
      What could she do but weep, or laugh!
   His words, which still instruct, but so
      That this applause seems still implied,
   ‘How wise in all she ought to know,
      How ignorant of all beside!’
   His skilful suit, which leaves her free,
      Gives nothing for the world to name,
   And keeps her conscience safe, while he,
      With half the bliss, takes all the blame;
   His clear repute with great and small;
      The jealousy his choice will stir;
   But ten times more than ten times all,
      She loves him for his love of her.
   How happy ’tis he seems to see
      In her that utter loveliness
   Which she, for his sake, longs to be!
      At times, she cannot but confess
   Her other friends are somewhat blind;
      Her parents’ years excuse neglect,
   But all the rest are scarcely kind,
      And brothers grossly want respect;
   And oft she views what he admires
      Within her glass, and sight of this
   Makes all the sum of her desires
      To be devotion unto his.
   But still, at first, whatever’s done,
      A touch, her hand press’d lightly, she
   Stands dizzied, shock’d, and flush’d, like one
      Set sudden neck-deep in the sea;
   And, though her bond for endless time
      To his good pleasure gives her o’er,
   The slightest favour seems a crime,
      Because it makes her love him more.
   But that she ne’er will let him know;
      For what were love should reverence cease?
   A thought which makes her reason so
      Inscrutable, it seems caprice.
   With her, as with a desperate town,
      Too weak to stand, too proud to treat,
   The conqueror, though the walls are down,
      Has still to capture street by street;
   But, after that, habitual faith,
      Divorced from self, where late ’twas due,
   Walks nobly in its novel path,
      And she’s to changed allegiance true;
   And prizing what she can’t prevent,
      (Right wisdom, often misdeem’d whim),
   Her will’s indomitably bent
      On mere submissiveness to him;
   To him she’ll cleave, for him forsake
      Father’s and mother’s fond command!
   He is her lord, for he can take
      Hold of her faint heart with his hand.


   ‘Beauty deludes.’  O shaft well shot,
      To strike the mark’s true opposite!
   That ugly good is scorn’d proves not
      ’Tis beauty lies, but lack of it.
   By Heaven’s law the Jew might take
      A slave to wife, if she was fair;
   So strong a plea does beauty make
      That, where ’tis seen, discretion’s there.
   If, by a monstrous chance, we learn
      That this illustrious vaunt’s a lie,
   Our minds, by which the eyes discern,
      See hideous contrariety.
   And laugh at Nature’s wanton mood,
      Which, thus a swinish thing to flout,
   Though haply in its gross way good,
      Hangs such a jewel in its snout.

_Lais and Lucretia_.

   Did first his beauty wake her sighs?
      That’s Lais!  Thus Lucretia’s known:
   The beauty in her Lover’s eyes
      Was admiration of her own.



   Oh, beating heart of sweet alarm,
      Which stays the lover’s step, when near
   His mistress and her awful charm
      Of grace and innocence sincere!
   I held the half-shut door, and heard
      The voice of my betrothed wife,
   Who sang my verses, every word
      By music taught its latent life;
   With interludes of well-touch’d notes,
      That flash’d, surprising and serene,
   As meteor after meteor floats
      The soft, autumnal stars between.
   There was a passion in her tone,
      A tremor when she touch’d the keys,
   Which told me she was there alone,
      And uttering all her soul at ease.
   I enter’d; for I did not choose
      To learn how in her heart I throve,
   By chance or stealth; beyond her use,
      Her greeting flatter’d me with love.


   With true love’s treacherous confidence,
      And ire, at last to laughter won,
   She spoke this speech, and mark’d its sense,
      By action, as her Aunt had done.


   ‘“You, with your looks and catching air,
      To think of Vaughan!  You fool!  You know,
   You might, with ordinary care,
      Ev’n yet be Lady Clitheroe.
   You’re sure he’ll do great things some day!
      Nonsense, he won’t; he’s dress’d too well.
   Dines with the Sterling Club, they say;
      Not commonly respectable!
   Half Puritan, half Cavalier!
      His curly hair I think’s a wig;
   And, for his fortune, why my Dear,
      ’Tis not enough to keep a gig.
   Rich Aunts and Uncles never die;
      And what you bring won’t do for dress:
   And so you’ll live on By-and-by,
      Within oaten-cake and water-cress!”


   ‘I cried, but did not let her see.
      At last she soften’d her dispraise,
   On learning you had bought for me
      A carriage and a pair of bays.
   But here she comes!  You take her in
      To dinner.  I impose this task
   Make her approve my love; and win
      What thanks from me you choose to ask!’


   ‘My niece has told you every word
      I said of you!  What may I mean?
   Of course she has; but you’ve not heard
      How I abused you to the Dean;—
   Yes, I’ll take wine; he’s mad, like her;
      And she _will_ have you: there it ends!
   And, now I’ve done my duty, Sir,
      And you’ve shown common-sense, we’re friends!’


   ‘Go, child, and see him out yourself,’
      Aunt Maude said, after tea, ‘and show
   The place, upon that upper shelf,
      Where Petrarch stands, lent long ago.’


   ‘These rose-leaves to my heart be press’d,
      Honoria, while it aches for you!’
   (The rose in ruin, from her breast,
      Fell, as I took a fond adieu.)
   ‘You must go now, Love!’  ‘See, the air
      Is thick with starlight!’  ‘Let me tie
   This scarf on.  Oh, your Petrarch!  There!
      I’m coming, Aunt!’  ‘Sweet, Sweet!’  ‘Good-bye!’
   ‘Ah, Love, to me ’tis death to part,
      Yet you, my sever’d life, smile on!’
   These “Good-nights,” Felix, break my heart;
      I’m only gay till you are gone!’
   With love’s bright arrows from her eyes,
      And balm on her permissive lips,
   She pass’d, and night was a surprise,
      As when the sun at Quito dips.
   Her beauties were like sunlit snows,
      Flush’d but not warm’d with my desire.
   Oh, how I loved her!  Fiercely glows
      In the pure air of frost the fire.
   Who for a year is sure of fate!
      I thought, dishearten’d as I went,
   Wroth with the Dean, who bade me wait,
      And vex’d with her, who seem’d content.
   Nay, could eternal life afford
      That tyranny should thus deduct
   From this fair land, which call’d me lord,
      A year of the sweet usufruct?
   It might not and it should not be!
      I’d go back now, and he must own,
   At once, my love’s compulsive plea.
      I turn’d, I found the Dean alone.
   ‘Nonsense, my friend; go back to bed!
      It’s half-past twelve!’  ‘July, then, Sir!’
   ‘Well, come to-morrow,’ at last he said,
      ‘And you may talk of it with her.’
   A light gleam’d as I pass’d the stair.
      A pausing foot, a flash of dress,
   And a sweet voice.  ‘Is Felix there?’
      ‘July, Love!’  ‘Says Papa so?’  ‘Yes!’

The Country Ball.


_Love Ceremonious_.

   KEEP your undrest, familiar style
      For strangers, but respect your friend,
   Her most, whose matrimonial smile
      Is and asks honour without end.
   ’Tis found, and needs it must so be,
      That life from love’s allegiance flags,
   When love forgets his majesty
      In sloth’s unceremonious rags.
   Let love make home a gracious Court;
      There let the world’s rude, hasty ways
   Be fashion’d to a loftier port,
      And learn to bow and stand at gaze;
   And let the sweet respective sphere
      Of personal worship there obtain
   Circumference for moving clear,
      None treading on another’s train.
   This makes that pleasures do not cloy,
      And dignifies our mortal strife
   With calmness and considerate joy,
      Befitting our immortal life.

_The Rainbow_.

   A stately rainbow came and stood,
      When I was young, in High-Hurst Park;
   Its bright feet lit the hill and wood
      Beyond, and cloud and sward were dark;
   And I, who thought the splendour ours
      Because the place was, t’wards it flew,
   And there, amidst the glittering showers,
      Gazed vainly for the glorious view.
   With whatsoever’s lovely, know
      It is not ours; stand off to see,
   Or beauty’s apparition so
      Puts on invisibility.

_A Paradox_.

   To tryst Love blindfold goes, for fear
      He should not see, and eyeless night
   He chooses still for breathing near
      Beauty, that lives but in the sight.



   Well, Heaven be thank’d my first-love fail’d,
      As, Heaven be thank’d, our first-loves do!
   Thought I, when Fanny past me sail’d,
      Loved once, for what I never knew,
   Unless for colouring in her talk,
      When cheeks and merry mouth would show
   Three roses on a single stalk,
      The middle wanting room to blow,
   And forward ways, that charm’d the boy
      Whose love-sick mind, misreading fate,
   Scarce hoped that any Queen of Joy
      Could ever stoop to be his mate.


   But there danced she, who from the leaven
      Of ill preserv’d my heart and wit
   All unawares, for she was heaven,
      Others at best but fit for it.
   One of those lovely things she was
      In whose least action there can be
   Nothing so transient but it has
      An air of immortality.
   I mark’d her step, with peace elate,
      Her brow more beautiful than morn,
   Her sometime look of girlish state
      Which sweetly waived its right to scorn;
   The giddy crowd, she grave the while,
      Although, as ’twere beyond her will,
   Around her mouth the baby smile
      That she was born with linger’d still.
   Her ball-dress seem’d a breathing mist,
      From the fair form exhaled and shed,
   Raised in the dance with arm and wrist
      All warmth and light, unbraceleted.
   Her motion, feeling ’twas beloved,
      The pensive soul of tune express’d,
   And, oh, what perfume, as she moved,
      Came from the flowers in her breast!
   How sweet a tongue the music had!
      ‘Beautiful Girl,’ it seem’d to say,
   ‘Though all the world were vile and sad,
      Dance on; let innocence be gay.’
   Ah, none but I discern’d her looks,
      When in the throng she pass’d me by,
   For love is like a ghost, and brooks
      Only the chosen seer’s eye;
   And who but she could e’er divine
      The halo and the happy trance,
   When her bright arm reposed on mine,
      In all the pauses of the dance!


   Whilst so her beauty fed my sight,
      And whilst I lived in what she said,
   Accordant airs, like all delight
      Most sweet when noted least, were play’d;
   And was it like the Pharisee
      If I in secret bow’d my face
   With joyful thanks that I should be,
      Not as were many, but with grace
   And fortune of well-nurtured youth,
      And days no sordid pains defile,
   And thoughts accustom’d to the truth,
      Made capable of her fair smile?


   Charles Barton follow’d down the stair,
      To talk with me about the Ball,
   And carp at all the people there.
      The Churchills chiefly stirr’d his gall:
   ‘Such were the Kriemhilds and Isondes
      You storm’d about at Trinity!
   Nothing at heart but handsome Blondes!
      ‘Folk say that you and Fanny Fry—’
   ‘They err!  Good-night!  Here lies my course,
      Through Wilton.’  Silence blest my ears,
   And, weak at heart with vague remorse,
      A passing poignancy of tears
   Attack’d mine eyes.  By pale and park
      I rode, and ever seem’d to see,
   In the transparent starry dark,
      That splendid brow of chastity,
   That soft and yet subduing light,
      At which, as at the sudden moon,
   I held my breath, and thought ‘how bright!’
      That guileless beauty in its noon,
   Compelling tribute of desires
      Ardent as day when Sirius reigns,
   Pure as the permeating fires
      That smoulder in the opal’s veins.

Love in Idleness.


_Honour and Desert_.

   O QUEEN, awake to thy renown,
      Require what ’tis our wealth to give,
   And comprehend and wear the crown
      Of thy despised prerogative!
   I, who in manhood’s name at length
      With glad songs come to abdicate
   The gross regality of strength,
      Must yet in this thy praise abate,
   That, through thine erring humbleness
      And disregard of thy degree,
   Mainly, has man been so much less
      Than fits his fellowship with thee.
   High thoughts had shaped the foolish brow,
      The coward had grasp’d the hero’s sword,
   The vilest had been great, hadst thou,
      Just to thyself, been worth’s reward.
   But lofty honours undersold
      Seller and buyer both disgrace;
   And favours that make folly bold
      Banish the light from virtue’s face.

_Love and Honour_.

   What man with baseness so content,
      Or sick with false conceit of right,
   As not to know that the element
      And inmost warmth of love’s delight
   Is honour?  Who’d not rather kiss
      A duchess than a milkmaid, prank
   The two in equal grace, which is
      Precedent Nature’s obvious rank?
   Much rather, then, a woman deck’d
      With saintly honours, chaste and good,
   Whose thoughts celestial things affect,
      Whose eyes express her heavenly mood!
   Those lesser vaunts are dimm’d or lost
      Which plume her name or paint her lip,
   Extinct in the deep-glowing boast
      Of her angelic fellowship.

_Valour Misdirected_.

   I’ll hunt for dangers North and South,
      To prove my love, which sloth maligns!’
   What seems to say her rosy mouth?
      ‘I’m not convinced by proofs but signs.’



   What should I do?  In such a wife
      Fortune had lavish’d all her store,
   And nothing now seem’d left for life
      But to deserve her more and more.
   To this I vow’d my life’s whole scope;
      And Love said, ‘I forewarn you now,
   The Maiden will fulfill your hope
      Only as you fulfil your vow.’


   A promised service, (task for days),
      Was done this morning while she slept,
   With that full heart which thinks no praise
      Of vows which are not more than kept;
   But loftier work did love impose.
      And studious hours.  Alas, for these,
   While she from all my thoughts arose
      Like Venus from the restless seas!


   I conn’d a scheme, within mind elate:
      My Uncle’s land would fall to me,
   My skill was much in school debate,
      My friends were strong in Salisbury;
   A place in Parliament once gain’d,
      Thro’ saps first labour’d out of sight,
   Far loftier peaks were then attain’d
      With easy leaps from height to height;
   And that o’erwhelming honour paid,
      Or recognised, at least, in life,
   Which this most sweet and noble Maid
      Should yield to him who call’d her Wife.


   I fix’d this rule: in Sarum Close
      To make two visits every week,
   The first, to-day; and, save on those,
      I nought would do, think, read, or speak,
   Which did not help my settled will
      To earn the Statesman’s proud applause.
   And now, forthwith, to mend my skill
      In ethics, politics, and laws,
   The Statesman’s learning!  Flush’d with power
      And pride of freshly-form’d resolve,
   I read Helvetius half-an-hour;
      But, halting in attempts to solve
   Why, more than all things else that be,
      A lady’s grace hath force to move
   That sensitive appetency
      Of intellectual good, call’d love,
   Took Blackstone down, only to draw
      My swift-deriving thoughts ere long
   To love, which is the source of law,
      And, like a king, can do no wrong;
   Then open’d Hyde, where loyal hearts,
      With faith unpropp’d by precedent,
   Began to play rebellious parts.
      O, mighty stir that little meant!
   How dull the crude, plough’d fields of fact
      To me who trod the Elysian grove!
   How idle all heroic act
      By the least suffering of love!
   I could not read; so took my pen,
      And thus commenced, in form of notes,
   A Lecture for the Salisbury men,
      With due regard to Tory votes:
   ‘A road’s a road, though worn to ruts;
      They speed who travel straight therein;
   But he who tacks and tries short cuts
      Gets fools’ praise and a broken shin—’
   And here I stopp’d in sheer despair;
      But, what to-day was thus begun,
   I vow’d, up starting from my chair,
      To-morrow should indeed be done;
   So loosed my chafing thoughts from school,
      To play with fancy as they chose,
   And then, according to my rule,
      I dress’d, and came to Sarum Close.


   Ah, that sweet laugh!  Diviner sense
      Did Nature, forming her, inspire
   To omit the grosser elements,
      And make her all of air and fire!


   To-morrow, Cowes’ Regatta fell:
      The Dean would like his girls to go,
   If I went too.  ‘Most gladly.’  Well,
      I did but break a foolish vow!
   Unless Love’s toil has love for prize,
      (And then he’s Hercules), above
   All other contrarieties
      Is labour contrary to love.
   No fault of Love’s, but nature’s laws!
      And Love, in idleness, lies quick;
   For as the worm whose powers make pause,
      And swoon, through alteration sick,
   The soul, its wingless state dissolved,
      Awaits its nuptial life complete,
   All indolently self-convolved,
      Cocoon’d in silken fancies sweet.

The Queen’s Room.



   ‘PERHAPS she’s dancing somewhere now!’
      The thoughts of light and music wake
   Sharp jealousies, that grow and grow
      Till silence and the darkness ache.
   He sees her step, so proud and gay,
      Which, ere he spake, foretold despair:
   Thus did she look, on such a day,
      And such the fashion of her hair;
   And thus she stood, when, kneeling low,
      He took the bramble from her dress,
   And thus she laugh’d and talk’d, whose ‘No’
      Was sweeter than another’s ‘Yes.’
   He feeds on thoughts that most deject;
      He impudently feigns her charms,
   So reverenced in his own respect,
      Dreadfully clasp’d by other arms;
   And turns, and puts his brows, that ache,
      Against the pillow where ’tis cold.
   If, only now his heart would break!
      But, oh, how much a heart can hold.


   You loved her, and would lie all night
      Thinking how beautiful she was,
   And what to do for her delight.
      Now both are bound with alien laws!
   Be patient; put your heart to school;
      Weep if you will, but not despair;
   The trust that nought goes wrong by rule
      Should ease this load the many bear.
   Love, if there’s heav’n, shall meet his dues,
      Though here unmatch’d, or match’d amiss;
   Meanwhile, the gentle cannot choose
      But learn to love the lips they kiss.
   Ne’er hurt the homely sister’s ears
      With Rachel’s beauties; secret be
   The lofty mind whose lonely tears
      Protest against mortality.

_The Heart’s Prophecies_.

   Be not amazed at life; ’tis still
      The mode of God with his elect
   Their hopes exactly to fulfil,
      In times and ways they least expect.



   There’s nothing happier than the days
      In which young Love makes every thought
   Pure as a bride’s blush, when she says
      ‘I will’ unto she knows not what;
   And lovers, on the love-lit globe,
      For love’s sweet sake, walk yet aloof,
   And hear Time weave the marriage-robe,
      Attraction warp and reverence woof.


   My Housekeeper, my Nurse of yore,
      Cried, as the latest carriage went,
   ‘Well, Mr, Felix, Sir, I’m sure
      The morning’s gone off excellent!
   I never saw the show to pass
      The ladies, in their fine fresh gowns,
   So sweetly dancing on the grass,
      To music with its ups and downs.
   We’d such work, Sir, to clean the plate;
      ’Twas just the busy times of old.
   The Queen’s Room, Sir, look’d quite like state.
      Miss Smythe, when she went up, made bold
   To peep into the Rose Boudoir,
      And cried, “How charming! all quite new;”
   And wonder’d who it could be for.
      All but Miss Honor look’d in too.
   But she’s too proud to peep and pry.
      None’s like that sweet Miss Honor, Sir!
   Excuse my humbleness, but I
      Pray Heav’n you’ll get a wife like her!
   The Poor love dear Miss Honor’s ways
      Better than money.  Mrs. Rouse,
   Who ought to know a lady, says
      No finer goes to Wilton House.
   Miss Bagshaw thought that dreary room
      Had kill’d old Mrs. Vaughan with fright;
   She would not sleep in such a tomb
      For all her host was worth a night!
   Miss Fry, Sir, laugh’d; they talk’d the rest
      In French; and French Sir’s Greek to me;
   But, though they smiled, and seem’d to jest,
      No love was lost, for I could see
   How serious-like Miss Honor was—’
      ‘Well, Nurse, this is not my affair.
   The ladies talk’d in French with cause.
      Good-day; and thank you for your prayer.’


   I loiter’d through the vacant house,
      Soon to be her’s; in one room stay’d,
   Of old my mother’s.  Here my vows
      Of endless thanks were oftenest paid.
   This room its first condition kept;
      For, on her road to Sarum Town,
   Therein an English Queen had slept,
      Before the Hurst was half pull’d down.
   The pictured walls the place became:
      Here ran the Brook Anaurus, where
   Stout Jason bore the wrinkled dame
      Whom serving changed to Juno; there,
   Ixion’s selfish hope, instead
      Of the nuptial goddess, clasp’d a cloud;
   And, here, translated Psyche fed
      Her gaze on Love, not disallow’d.


   And in this chamber had she been,
      And into that she would not look,
   My Joy, my Vanity, my Queen,
      At whose dear name my pulses shook!
   To others how express at all
      My worship in that joyful shrine?
   I scarcely can myself recall
      What peace and ardour then were mine;
   And how more sweet than aught below,
      The daylight and its duties done,
   It felt to fold the hands, and so
      Relinquish all regards but one;
   To see her features in the dark,
      To lie and meditate once more
   The grace I did not fully mark,
      The tone I had not heard before;
   And from my pillow then to take
      Her notes, her picture, and her glove,
   Put there for joy when I should wake,
      And press them to the heart of love;
   And then to whisper ‘Wife!’ and pray
      To live so long as not to miss
   That unimaginable day
      Which farther seems the nearer ’tis;
   And still from joy’s unfathom’d well
      To drink, in dreams, while on her brows
   Of innocence ineffable
      Blossom’d the laughing bridal rose.

The Love-Letters.


_Love’s Perversity_.

   HOW strange a thing a lover seems
      To animals that do not love!
   Lo, where he walks and talks in dreams,
      And flouts us with his Lady’s glove;
   How foreign is the garb he wears;
      And how his great devotion mocks
   Our poor propriety, and scares
      The undevout with paradox!
   His soul, through scorn of worldly care,
      And great extremes of sweet and gall,
   And musing much on all that’s fair,
      Grows witty and fantastical;
   He sobs his joy and sings his grief,
      And evermore finds such delight
   In simply picturing his relief,
      That ’plaining seems to cure his plight;
   He makes his sorrow, when there’s none;
      His fancy blows both cold and hot;
   Next to the wish that she’ll be won,
      His first hope is that she may not;
   He sues, yet deprecates consent;
      Would she be captured she must fly;
   She looks too happy and content,
      For whose least pleasure he would die;
   Oh, cruelty, she cannot care
      For one to whom she’s always kind!
   He says he’s nought, but, oh, despair,
      If he’s not Jove to her fond mind!
   He’s jealous if she pets a dove,
      She must be his with all her soul;
   Yet ’tis a postulate in love
      That part is greater than the whole;
   And all his apprehension’s stress,
      When he’s with her, regards her hair,
   Her hand, a ribbon of her dress,
      As if his life were only there;
   Because she’s constant, he will change,
      And kindest glances coldly meet,
   And, all the time he seems so strange,
      His soul is fawning at her feet;
   Of smiles and simple heaven grown tired,
      He wickedly provokes her tears,
   And when she weeps, as he desired,
      Falls slain with ecstasies of fears;
   He blames her, though she has no fault,
      Except the folly to be his;
   He worships her, the more to exalt
      The profanation of a kiss;
   Health’s his disease, he’s never well
      But when his paleness shames her rose;
   His faith’s a rock-built citadel,
      Its sign a flag that each way blows;
   His o’erfed fancy frets and fumes;
      And Love, in him, is fierce, like Hate,
   And ruffles his ambrosial plumes
      Against the bars of time and fate.

_The Power of Love_.

   Samson the Mighty, Solomon
      The Wise, and Holy David all
   Must doff their crowns to Love, for none
      But fell as Love would scorn to fall!
   And what may fallen spirits win,
      When stripes and precepts cannot move?
   Only the sadness of all sin,
      When look’d at in the light of Love.



   ‘You ask, Will admiration halt,
      Should spots appear within my Sun?
   Oh, how I wish I knew your fault,
      For Love’s tired gaze to rest upon!
   Your graces, which have made me great,
      Will I so loftily admire,
   Yourself yourself shall emulate,
      And be yourself your own desire.
   I’ll nobly mirror you too fair,
      And, when you’re false to me your glass,
   What’s wanting you’ll by that repair,
      So bring yourself through me to pass.
   O dearest, tell me how to prove
      Goodwill which cannot be express’d;
   The beneficial heart of love
      Is labour in an idle breast.
   Name in the world your chosen part,
      And here I vow, with all the bent
   And application of my heart
      To give myself to your content.
   Would you live on, home-worshipp’d, thus,
      Not proudly high nor poorly low?
   Indeed the lines are fall’n to us
      In pleasant places!  Be it so.
   But would you others heav’nward move,
      By sight not faith, while you they admire?
   I’ll help with zeal as I approve
      That just and merciful desire.
   High as the lonely moon to view
      I’ll lift your light; do you decree
   Your place, I’ll win it; for from you
      Command inspires capacity.
   Or, unseen, would you sway the world
      More surely?  Then in gracious rhyme
   I’ll raise your emblem, fair unfurl’d
      With blessing in the breeze of time.
   Faith removes mountains, much more love;
      Let your contempt abolish me
   If ought of your devisal prove
      Too hard or high to do or be.’


   I ended.  ‘From your Sweet-Heart, Sir,’
      Said Nurse, ‘The Dean’s man brings it down.’
   I could have kiss’d both him and her!
      ‘Nurse, give him that, with half-a-crown.’
   How beat my heart, how paused my breath,
      When, with perversely fond delay,
   I broke the seal, that bore a wreath
      Of roses link’d with one of bay.


   ‘I found your note.  How very kind
      To leave it there!  I cannot tell
   How pleased I was, or how you find
      Words to express your thoughts so well.
   The Girls are going to the Ball
      At Wilton.  If you can, _do_ come;
   And any day this week you call
      Papa and I shall be at home.
   You said to Mary once—I hope
      In jest—that women _should_ be vain:
   On Saturday your friend (her Pope),
      The Bishop dined with us again.
   She put the question, if they ought?
      He turn’d it cleverly away
   (For giddy Mildred cried, she thought
      We _must_), with “What we must we may.”
   ‘Dear papa laugh’d, and said ’twas sad
      To think how vain his girls would be,
   Above all Mary, now she had
      Episcopal authority.
   But I was very dull, dear friend,
      And went upstairs at last, and cried.
   Be sure to come to-day, or send
      A rose-leaf kiss’d on either side.
   Adieu!  I am not well.  Last night
      My dreams were wild: I often woke,
   The summer-lightning was so bright;
      And when it flash’d I thought you spoke.’

The Revulsion.


_Joy and Use_.

   CAN ought compared with wedlock be
      For use?  But He who made the heart
   To use proportions joy.  What He
      Has join’d let no man put apart.
   Sweet Order has its draught of bliss
      Graced with the pearl of God’s consent,
   Ten times delightful in that ’tis
      Considerate and innocent.
   In vain Disorder grasps the cup;
      The pleasure’s not enjoy’d but spilt,
   And, if he stoops to lick it up,
      It only tastes of earth and guilt.
   His sorry raptures rest destroys;
      To live, like comets, they must roam;
   On settled poles turn solid joys,
      And sunlike pleasures shine at home.

‘_She was Mine_.’

   ‘Thy tears o’erprize thy loss!  Thy wife,
      In what was she particular?
   Others of comely face and life,
      Others as chaste and warm there are,
   And when they speak they seem to sing;
      Beyond her sex she was not wise;
   And there is no more common thing
      Than kindness in a woman’s eyes.
   Then wherefore weep so long and fast,
      Why so exceedingly repine!
   Say, how has thy Beloved surpass’d
      So much all others?’  ‘She was mine.’



   ’Twas when the spousal time of May
      Hangs all the hedge with bridal wreaths,
   And air’s so sweet the bosom gay
      Give thanks for every breath it breathes,
   When like to like is gladly moved,
      And each thing joins in Spring’s refrain,
   ‘Let those love now who never loved;
      Let those who have loved love again;’
   That I, in whom the sweet time wrought,
      Lay stretch’d within a lonely glade,
   Abandon’d to delicious thought
      Beneath the softly twinkling shade.
   The leaves, all stirring, mimick’d well
      A neighbouring rush of rivers cold,
   And, as the sun or shadow fell,
      So these were green and those were gold;
   In dim recesses hyacinths droop’d,
      And breadths of primrose lit the air,
   Which, wandering through the woodland, stoop’d
      And gather’d perfumes here and there;
   Upon the spray the squirrel swung,
      And careless songsters, six or seven.
   Sang lofty songs the leaves among,
      Fit for their only listener, Heaven.
   I sigh’d, ‘Immeasurable bliss
      Gains nothing by becoming more!
   Millions have meaning; after this
      Cyphers forget the integer.’


   And so I mused, till musing brought
      A dream that shook my house of clay,
   And, in my humbled heart, I thought,
      To me there yet may come a day
   With this the single vestige seen
      Of comfort, earthly or divine,
   My sorrow some time must have been
      Her portion, had it not been mine.
   Then I, who knew, from watching life,
      That blows foreseen are slow to fall,
   Rehearsed the losing of a wife,
      And faced its terrors each and all.
   The self-chastising fancy show’d
      The coffin with its ghastly breath;
   The innocent sweet face that owed
      None of its innocence to death;
   The lips that used to laugh; the knell
      That bade the world beware of mirth;
   The heartless and intolerable
      Indignity of ‘earth to earth;’
   At morn remembering by degrees
      That she I dream’d about was dead;
   Love’s still recurrent jubilees,
      The days that she was born, won, wed;
   The duties of my life the same,
      Their meaning for the feelings gone;
   Friendship impertinent, and fame
      Disgusting; and, more harrowing none,
   Small household troubles fall’n to me,
      As, ‘What time would I dine to-day?’
   And, oh, how could I bear to see
      The noisy children at their play.
   Besides, where all things limp and halt,
      Could I go straight, should I alone
   Have kept my love without default,
      Pitch’d at the true and heavenly tone?
   The festal-day might come to mind
      That miss’d the gift which more endears;
   The hour which might have been more kind,
      And now less fertile in vain tears;
   The good of common intercourse,
      For daintier pleasures, then despised,
   Now with what passionate remorse,
      What poignancy of hunger prized!
   The little wrong, now greatly rued,
      Which no repentance now could right;
   And love, in disbelieving mood,
      Deserting his celestial height.
   Withal to know, God’s love sent grief
      To make me less the world’s, and more
   Meek-hearted: ah, the sick relief!
      Why bow’d I not my heart before?


   ‘What,’ I exclaimed, with chill alarm,
      ‘If this fantastic horror shows
   The feature of an actual harm!’
      And, coming straight to Sarum Close,
   As one who dreams his wife is dead,
      And cannot in his slumber weep,
   And moans upon his wretched bed,
      And wakes, and finds her there asleep,
   And laughs and sighs, so I, not less
      Relieved, beheld, with blissful start,
   The light and happy loveliness
      Which lay so heavy on my heart.

The Koh-i-noor.


_In Love_.

   IF he’s capricious she’ll be so,
      But, if his duties constant are,
   She lets her loving favour glow
      As steady as a tropic star;
   Appears there nought for which to weep,
      She’ll weep for nought, for his dear sake;
   She clasps her sister in her sleep;
      Her love in dreams is most awake.
   Her soul, that once with pleasure shook,
      Did any eyes her beauty own,
   Now wonders how they dare to look
      On what belongs to him alone;
   The indignity of taking gifts
      Exhilarates her loving breast;
   A rapture of submission lifts
      Her life into celestial rest;
   There’s nothing left of what she was;
      Back to the babe the woman dies,
   And all the wisdom that she has
      Is to love him for being wise.
   She’s confident because she fears;
      And, though discreet when he’s away,
   If none but her dear despot hears,
      She prattles like a child at play.
   Perchance, when all her praise is said,
      He tells the news, a battle won,
   On either side ten thousand dead.
      ‘Alas!’ she says; but, if ’twere known,
   She thinks, ‘He’s looking on my face!
      I am his joy; whate’er I do,
   He sees such time-contenting grace
      In that, he’d have me always so!’
   And, evermore, for either’s sake,
      To the sweet folly of the dove,
   She joins the cunning of the snake,
      To rivet and exalt his love;
   Her mode of candour is deceit;
      And what she thinks from what she’ll say
   (Although I’ll never call her cheat),
      Lies far as Scotland from Cathay.
   Without his knowledge he was won;
      Against his nature kept devout;
   She’ll never tell him how ’twas done,
      And he will never find it out.
   If, sudden, he suspects her wiles,
      And hears her forging chain and trap,
   And looks, she sits in simple smiles,
      Her two hands lying in her lap.
   Her secret (privilege of the Bard,
      Whose fancy is of either sex),
   Is mine; but let the darkness guard
      Myst’ries that light would more perplex!

_Love Thinking_.

   What lifts her in my thought so far
      Beyond all else?  Let Love not err!
   ’Tis that which all right women are,
      But which I’ll know in none but her.
   She is to me the only Ark
      Of that high mystery which locks
   The lips of joy, or speaks in dark
      Enigmas and in paradox;
   That potent charm, which none can fly,
      Nor would, which makes me bond and free,
   Nor can I tell if first ’twas I
      Chose it, or it elected me;
   Which, when I look intentest, lo,
      Cheats most mine eyes, albeit my heart,
   Content to feel and not to know,
      Perceives it all in every part;
   I kiss its cheek; its life divine
      Exhales from its resplendent shroud;
   Ixion’s fate reversed is mine,
      Authentic Juno seems a cloud;
   I feel a blessed warmth, I see
      A bright circumference of rays,
   But darkness, where the sun should be,
      Fills admiration with amaze;
   And when, for joy’s relief, I think
      To fathom with the line of thought
   The well from which I, blissful, drink,
      The spring’s so deep I come to nought.

_The Kiss_.

   ‘I saw you take his kiss!’  ‘’Tis true.’
      ‘O, modesty!’  ‘’Twas strictly kept:
   He thought me asleep; at least, I knew
      He thought I thought he thought I slept.’



   ‘Be man’s hard virtues highly wrought,
      But let my gentle Mistress be,
   In every look, word, deed, and thought,
      Nothing but sweet and womanly!
   Her virtues please my virtuous mood,
      But what at all times I admire
   Is, not that she is wise or good,
      But just the thing which I desire.
   With versatility to sing
      The theme of love to any strain,
   If oft’nest she is anything,
      Be it careless, talkative, and vain.
   That seems in her supremest grace
      Which, virtue or not, apprises me
   That my familiar thoughts embrace
      Unfathomable mystery.’


   I answer’d thus; for she desired
      To know what mind I most approved;
   Partly to learn what she inquired,
      Partly to get the praise she loved.


   I praised her, but no praise could fill
      The depths of her desire to please,
   Though dull to others as a Will
      To them that have no legacies.
   The more I praised the more she shone,
      Her eyes incredulously bright,
   And all her happy beauty blown
      Beneath the beams of my delight.
   Sweet rivalry was thus begot;
      By turns, my speech, in passion’s style,
   With flatteries the truth o’ershot,
      And she surpass’d them with her smile.


   ‘You have my heart so sweetly seiz’d,
      And I confess, nay, ’tis my pride
   That I’m with you so solely pleased,
      That, if I’m pleased with aught beside,
   As music, or the month of June,
      My friend’s devotion, or his wit,
   A rose, a rainbow, or the moon,
      It is that you illustrate it.
   All these are parts, you are the whole;
      You fit the taste for Paradise,
   To which your charms draw up the soul
      As turning spirals draw the eyes.
   Nature to you was more than kind;
      ’Twas fond perversity to dress
   So much simplicity of mind
      In such a pomp of loveliness!
   But, praising you, the fancy deft
      Flies wide, and lets the quarry stray,
   And, when all’s said, there’s something left,
      And that’s the thing I meant to say.’
   ‘Dear Felix!’  ‘Sweet, my Love!’  But there
      Was Aunt Maude’s noisy ring and knock!
   ‘Stay, Felix; you have caught my hair.
      Stoop!  Thank you!’  ‘May I have that lock?’
   ‘Not now.  Good morning, Aunt!’  ‘Why, Puss,
      You look magnificent to-day.’
   ‘Here’s Felix, Aunt.’  ‘Fox and green goose!
      Who handsome gets should handsome pay!
   Aunt, you are friends!’  ‘Ah, to be sure!
      Good morning!  Go on flattering, sir;
   A woman, like the Koh-i-noor,
      Mounts to the price that’s put on her.’

The Friends.


_The Nursling of Civility_.

   LO, how the woman once was woo’d;
      Forth leapt the savage from his lair,
   And fell’d her, and to nuptials rude
      He dragg’d her, bleeding, by the hair.
   From that to Chloe’s dainty wiles
      And Portia’s dignified consent,
   What distance!  Bat these Pagan styles
      How far below Time’s fair intent!
   Siegfried sued Kriemhild.  Sweeter life
      Could Love’s self covet?  Yet ’tis snug
   In what rough sort he chid his wife
      For want of curb upon her tongue!
   Shall Love, where last I leave him, halt?
      Nay; none can fancy or forsee
   To how strange bliss may time exalt
      This nursling of civility.

_The Foreign Land_.

   A woman is a foreign land,
      Of which, though there he settle young,
   A man will ne’er quite understand
      The customs, politics, and tongue.
   The foolish hie them post-haste through,
      See fashions odd, and prospects fair,
   Learn of the language, ‘How d’ye do,’
      And go and brag they have been there.
   The most for leave to trade apply,
      For once, at Empire’s seat, her heart,
   Then get what knowledge ear and eye
      Glean chancewise in the life-long mart.
   And certain others, few and fit,
      Attach them to the Court, and see
   The Country’s best, its accent hit,
      And partly sound its polity.


   ‘The bliss which woman’s charms bespeak,
      I’ve sought in many, found in none!’
   ‘In many ’tis in vain you seek
      What only can be found in one.’



   Frank’s long, dull letter, lying by
      The gay sash from Honoria’s waist,
   Reproach’d me; passion spared a sigh
      For friendship without fault disgraced.
   How should I greet him? how pretend
      I felt the love he once inspired?
   Time was when either, in his friend,
      His own deserts with joy admired;
   We took one side in school-debate,
      Like hopes pursued with equal thirst,
   Were even-bracketed by Fate,
      Twin-Wranglers, seventh from the First;
   And either loved a lady’s laugh
      More than all music; he and I
   Were perfect in the pleasant half
      Of universal charity.


   From pride of likeness thus I loved
      Him, and he me, till love begot
   The lowliness which now approved
      Nothing but that which I was not,
   Blest was the pride of feeling so
      Subjected to a girl’s soft reign.
   She was my vanity, and, oh,
      All other vanities how vain!


   Frank follow’d in his letter’s track,
      And set my guilty heart at ease
   By echoing my excuses back
      With just the same apologies.
   So he had slighted me as well!
      Nor was my mind disburthen’d less
   When what I sought excuse to tell
      He of himself did first confess.


   Each, rapturous, praised his lady’s worth;
      He eloquently thus: ‘Her face
   Is the summ’d sweetness of the earth,
      Her soul the glass of heaven’s grace,
   To which she leads me by the hand;
      Or, briefly all the truth to say
   To you, who briefly understand,
      She is both heaven and the way.
   Displeasures and resentments pass
      Athwart her charitable eyes
   More fleetingly than breath from glass,
      Or truth from foolish memories;
   Her heart’s so touch’d with others’ woes
      She has no need of chastisement;
   Her gentle life’s conditions close,
      Like God’s commandments, with content,
   And make an aspect calm and gay,
      Where sweet affections come and go,
   Till all who see her, smile and say,
      How fair, and happy that she’s so!
   She is so lovely, true, and pure,
      Her virtue virtue so endears,
   That often, when I think of her,
      Life’s meanness fills mine eyes with tears—’
   ‘You paint Miss Churchill!  Pray go on—’
      ‘She’s perfect, and, if joy was much
   To think her nature’s paragon,
      ’Tis more that there’s another such!’


   Praising and paying back their praise
      With rapturous hearts, t’ward Sarum Spire
   We walk’d, in evening’s golden haze,
      Friendship from passion stealing fire.
   In joy’s crown danced the feather jest,
      And, parting by the Deanery door,
   Clasp’d hands, less shy than words, confess’d
      We had not been true friends before.

The Epitaph.


_Frost in Harvest_.

   THE lover who, across a gulf
      Of ceremony, views his Love,
   And dares not yet address herself,
      Pays worship to her stolen glove.
   The gulf o’erleapt, the lover wed,
      It happens oft, (let truth be told),
   The halo leaves the sacred head,
      Respect grows lax, and worship cold,
   And all love’s May-day promising,
      Like song of birds before they pair,
   Or flush of flowers in boastful Spring,
      Dies out, and leaves the Summer bare.
   Yet should a man, it seems to me,
      Honour what honourable is,
   For some more honourable plea
      Than only that it is not his.
   The gentle wife, who decks his board
      And makes his day to have no night,
   Whose wishes wait upon her lord,
      Who finds her own in his delight,
   Is she another now than she
      Who, mistress of her maiden charms,
   At his wild prayer, incredibly
      Committed them to his proud arms?
   Unless her choice of him’s a slur
      Which makes her proper credit dim,
   He never enough can honour her
      Who past all speech has honour’d him.


   To marry her and take her home!
      The poet, painting pureness, tells
   Of lilies; figures power by Rome;
      And each thing shows by something else.
   But through the songs of poets look,
      And who so lucky to have found
   In universal nature’s book
      A likeness for a life so crown’d!
   Here they speak best who best express
      Their inability to speak,
   And none are strong, but who confess
      With happy skill that they are weak.

_Marriage Indissoluble_.

   ‘In heaven none marry.’  Grant the most
      Which may by this dark word be meant,
   Who shall forbid the eternal boast
      ‘I kiss’d, and kiss’d with her consent!’
   If here, to Love, past favour is
      A present boast, delight, and chain,
   What lacks of honour, bond, and bliss,
      Where Now and Then are no more twain!



   ‘At Church, in twelve hours more, we meet!
      This, Dearest, is our last farewell.’
   ‘Oh, Felix, do you love me?’  ‘Sweet,
      Why do you ask?’  ‘I cannot tell.’


   And was it no vain fantasy
      That raised me from the earth with pride?
   Should I to-morrow verily
      Be Bridegroom, and Honoria Bride?
   Should I, in simple fact, henceforth
      Live unconditionally lord
   Of her whose smile for brightest worth
      Seem’d all too bountiful reward?
   Incredible life’s promise seem’d,
      Or, credible, for life too great;
   Love his own deity blasphemed,
      And doff’d at last his heavenly state.
   What law, if man could mount so high,
      To further insolence set bars,
   And kept the chaste moon in the sky,
      And bade him not tread out the stars!


   Patience and hope had parted truce,
      And, sun-like, Love obscured his ray
   With dazzling mists, driven up profuse
      Before his own triumphant way.
   I thought with prayer how Jacob paid
      The patient price of Rachel; them,
   Of that calm grace Tobias said,
      And Sarah’s innocent ‘Amen.’
   Without avail!  O’erwhelming wealth,
      The wondrous gift of God so near,
   Which should have been delight and health
      Made heart and spirit sick and sere.
   Until at last the soul of love,
      That recks not of its own delight,
   Awoke and bade the mists remove,
      And then once more I breathed aright;
   And I rehears’d my marriage vow,
      And swore her welfare to prefer
   To all things, and for aye as now
      To live, not for myself, but her.
   Forth, from the glittering spirit’s peace
      And gaiety ineffable,
   Stream’d to the heart delight and ease,
      As from an overflowing well;
   And, orderly deriving thence
      Its pleasure perfect and allow’d,
   Bright with the spirit shone the sense,
      As with the sun a fleecy cloud.
   If now to part with her could make
      Her pleasure greater, sorrow less,
   I for my epitaph would take
      ‘To serve seem’d more than to possess.’
   And I perceiv’d, (the vision sweet
      Dimming with happy dew mine eyes),
   That love and joy are torches lit
      From altar-fires of sacrifice.


   Across the sky the daylight crept,
      And birds grew garrulous in the grove,
   And on my marriage-morn I slept
      A soft sleep, undisturb’d by love.

The Wedding.


_Platonic Love_.

   RIGHT art thou who wouldst rather be
      A doorkeeper in Love’s fair house,
   Than lead the wretched revelry
      Where fools at swinish troughs carouse.
   But do not boast of being least;
      And if to kiss thy Mistress’ skirt
   Amaze thy brain, scorn not the Priest
      Whom greater honours do not hurt.
   Stand off and gaze, if more than this
      Be more than thou canst understand,
   Revering him whose power of bliss,
      Angelic, dares to seize her hand,
   Or whose seraphic love makes flight
      To the apprehension of her lips;
   And think, the sun of such delight
      From thine own darkness takes eclipse.
   And, wouldst thou to the same aspire,
      This is the art thou must employ,
   Live greatly; so shalt thou acquire
      Unknown capacities of joy.

_A Demonstration_.

   Nature, with endless being rife,
      Parts each thing into ‘him’ and ‘her,’
   And, in the arithmetic of life,
      The smallest unit is a pair;
   And thus, oh, strange, sweet half of me,
      If I confess a loftier flame,
   If more I love high Heaven than thee,
      I more than love thee, thine I am;
   And, if the world’s not built of lies,
      Nor all a cheat the Gospel tells,
   If that which from the dead shall rise
      Be I indeed, not something else,
   There’s no position more secure
      In reason or in faith than this,
   That those conditions must endure,
      Which, wanting, I myself should miss.

_The Symbol_.

   As if I chafed the sparks from glass,
      And said, ‘It lightens,’ hitherto
   The songs I’ve made of love may pass
      For all but for proportion true;
   But likeness and proportion both
      Now fail, as if a child in glee,
   Catching the flakes of the salt froth,
      Cried, ‘Look, my mother, here’s the sea.
   Yet, by the help of what’s so weak,
      But not diverse, to those who know,
   And only unto those I speak,
      May far-inferring fancy show
   Love’s living sea by coasts uncurb’d,
      Its depth, its mystery, and its might,
   Its indignation if disturb’d,
      The glittering peace of its delight.

_Constancy Rewarded_.

   I vow’d unvarying faith, and she,
      To whom in full I pay that vow,
   Rewards me with variety
      Which men who change can never know.



   Life smitten with a feverish chill,
      The brain too tired to understand,
   In apathy of heart and will,
      I took the woman from the hand
   Of him who stood for God, and heard
      Of Christ, and of the Church his Bride;
   The Feast, by presence of the Lord
      And his first Wonder, beautified;
   The mystic sense to Christian men;
      The bonds in innocency made,
   And gravely to be enter’d then,
      For children, godliness, and, aid,
   And honour’d, and kept free from smirch;
      And how a man must love his wife
   No less than Christ did love his Church,
      If need be, giving her his life;
   And, vowing then the mutual vow,
      The tongue spoke, but intention slept.
   ’Tis well for us Heaven asks not how
      We take this oath, but how ’tis kept.


   O, bold seal of a bashful bound,
      Which makes the marriage-day to be,
   To those before it and beyond,
      An iceberg in an Indian sea!


   ‘Now, while she’s changing,’ said the Dean,
      ‘Her bridal for her travelling dress,
   I’ll preach allegiance to your queen!
      Preaching’s the thing which I profess;
   And one more minute’s mine!  You know
      I’ve paid my girl a father’s debt,
   And this last charge is all I owe.
      She’s yours; but I love more than yet
   You can; such fondness only wakes
      When time has raised the heart above
   The prejudice of youth, which makes
      Beauty conditional to love.
   Prepare to meet the weak alarms
      Of novel nearness; recollect
   The eye which magnified her charms
      Is microscopic for defect.
   Fear comes at first; but soon, rejoiced,
      You’ll find your strong and tender loves,
   Like holy rocks by Druids poised,
      The least force shakes, but none removes.
   Her strength is your esteem; beware
      Of finding fault; her will’s unnerv’d
   By blame; from you ’twould be despair;
      But praise that is not quite deserv’d
   Will all her noble nature move
      To make your utmost wishes tree.
   Yet think, while mending thus your Love,
      Of snatching her ideal too.
   The death of nuptial joy is sloth:
      To keep your mistress in your wife,
   Keep to the very height your oath,
      And honour her with arduous life.
   Lastly, no personal reverence doff.
      Life’s all externals unto those
   Who pluck the blushing petals off,
      To find the secret of the rose.—
   How long she’s tarrying!  Green’s Hotel
      I’m sure you’ll like.  The charge is fair,
   The wines good.  I remember well
      I stay’d once, with her Mother, there.
   A tender conscience of her vow
      That Mother had!  She’s so like her!’
   But Mrs. Fife, much flurried, now
      Whisper’d, ‘Miss Honor’s ready, Sir.’


   Whirl’d off at last, for speech I sought,
      To keep shy Love in countenance,
   But, whilst I vainly tax’d my thought,
      Her voice deliver’d mime from trance:
   ‘Look, is not this a pretty shawl,
      Aunt’s parting gift.’  ‘She’s always kind.’
   ‘The new wing spoils Sir John’s old Hall:
      You’ll see it, if you pull the blind.’


   I drew the silk: in heaven the night
      Was dawning; lovely Venus shone,
   In languishment of tearful light,
      Swathed by the red breath of the sun.

Husband and Wife.


_The Married Lover_.

   WHY, having won her, do I woo?
      Because her spirit’s vestal grace
   Provokes me always to pursue,
      But, spirit-like, eludes embrace;
   Because her womanhood is such
      That, as on court-days subjects kiss
   The Queen’s hand, yet so near a touch
      Affirms no mean familiarness,
   Nay, rather marks more fair the height
      Which can with safety so neglect
   To dread, as lower ladies might,
      That grace could meet with disrespect,
   Thus she with happy favour feeds
      Allegiance from a love so high
   That thence no false conceit proceeds
      Of difference bridged, or state put by;
   Because, although in act and word
      As lowly as a wife can be,
   Her manners, when they call me lord,
      Remind me ’tis by courtesy;
   Not with her least consent of will,
      Which would my proud affection hurt,
   But by the noble style that still
      Imputes an unattain’d desert;
   Because her gay and lofty brows,
      When all is won which hope can ask,
   Reflect a light of hopeless snows
      That bright in virgin ether bask;
   Because, though free of the outer court
      I am, this Temple keeps its shrine
   Sacred to Heaven; because, in short,
      She’s not and never can be mine.

_The Amaranth_.

   Feasts satiate; stars distress with height;
      Friendship means well, but misses reach,
   And wearies in its best delight,
      Vex’d with the vanities of speech;
   Too long regarded, roses even
      Afflict the mind with fond unrest;
   And to converse direct within Heaven
      Is oft a labour in the breast;
   Whate’er the up-looking soul admires,
      Whate’er the senses’ banquet be,
   Fatigues at last with vain desires,
      Or sickens by satiety;
   But truly my delight was more
      In her to whom I’m bound for aye
   Yesterday than the day before
      And more to-day than yesterday.



   I, while the shop-girl fitted on
      The sand-shoes, look’d where, down the bay,
   The sea glow’d with a shrouded sun.
      ‘I’m ready, Felix; will you pay?’
   That was my first expense for this
      Sweet Stranger, now my three days’ Wife.
   How light the touches are that kiss
      The music from the chords of life!


   Her feet, by half-a-mile of sea,
      In spotless sand left shapely prints;
   With agates, then, she loaded me;
      (The lapidary call’d them flints);
   Then, at her wish, I hail’d a boat,
      To take her to the ships-of-war,
   At anchor, each a lazy mote
      Black in the brilliance, miles from shore.


   The morning breeze the canvas fill’d,
      Lifting us o’er the bright-ridged gulf,
   And every lurch my darling thrill’d
      With light fear smiling at itself;
   And, dashing past the Arrogant,
      Asleep upon the restless wave
   After its cruise in the Levant,
      We reach’d the Wolf, and signal gave
   For help to board; within caution meet,
      My bride was placed within the chair,
   The red flag wrapp’d about her feet,
      And so swung laughing through the air.


   ‘Look, Love,’ she said, ‘there’s Frederick Graham,
      My cousin, whom you met, you know,’
   And seeing us, the brave man came,
      And made his frank and courteous bow,
   And gave my hand a sailor’s shake,
      And said, ‘You ask’d me to the Hurst:
   I never thought my luck would make
      Your wife and you my guests the first.’
   And Honor, cruel, ‘Nor did we:
      Have you not lately changed your ship?’
   ‘Yes: I’m Commander, now,’ said he,
      With a slight quiver of the lip.
   We saw the vessel, shown with pride;
      Took luncheon; I must eat his salt!
   Parting he said, (I fear my bride
      Found him unselfish to a fault),
   His wish, he saw, had come to pass,
      (And so, indeed, her face express’d),
   That that should be, whatever ’twas,
      Which made his Cousin happiest.
   We left him looking from above;
      Rich bankrupt! for he could afford
   To say most proudly that his love
      Was virtue and its own reward.
   But others loved as well as he,
      (Thought I, half-anger’d), and if fate,
   Unfair, had only fashion’d me
      As hapless, I had been as great.


   As souls, ambitious, but low-born,
      If raised past hope by luck or wit,
   All pride of place will proudly scorn,
      And live as they’d been used to it,
   So we two wore our strange estate:
      Familiar, unaffected, free,
   We talk’d, until the dusk grew late,
      Of this and that; but, after tea,
   As doubtful if a lot so sweet
      As ours was ours in very sooth,
   Like children, to promote conceit,
      We feign’d that it was not the truth;
   And she assumed the maiden coy,
      And I adored remorseless charms,
   And then we clapp’d our hands for joy,
      And ran into each others arms.



   ‘AH, dearest Wife, a fresh-lit fire
      Sends forth to heaven great shows of fume,
   And watchers, far away, admire;
      But when the flames their power assume,
   The more they burn the less they show,
      The clouds no longer smirch the sky,
   And then the flames intensest glow
      When far-off watchers think they die.
   The fumes of early love my verse
      Has figured—’  ‘You must paint the flame!’
   ’Twould merit the Promethean curse!
      But now, Sweet, for your praise and blame.’
   ‘You speak too boldly; veils are due
      To women’s feelings.’  ‘Fear not this!
   Women will vow I say not true,
      And men believe thine lips they kiss.’
   I did not call you “Dear” or “Love,”
      ‘I think, till after Frank was born.’
   ‘That fault I cannot well remove;
      The rhymes’—but Frank now blew his horn,
   And Walter bark’d, on hands and knees,
      At Baby in the mignonette,
   And all made, full-cry, for the trees
      Where Felix and his Wife were set.
   Again disturb’d, (crickets have cares!)
      True to their annual use they rose,
   To offer thanks at Evening Prayers
      In three times sacred Sarum Close.


   Passing, they left a gift of wine
      At Widow Neale’s.  Her daughter said:
   ‘O, Ma’am, she’s sinking!  For a sign,
      She cried just now, of him that’s dead,
   “Mary, he’s somewhere close above,
      Weeping and wailing his dead wife,
   With forceful prayers and fatal love
      Conjuring me to come to life.
   A spirit is terrible though dear!
      It comes by night, and sucks my breath,
   And draws me with desire and fear.”
      Ah, Ma’am, she’ll soon be his in death!’


   Vaughan, when his kind Wife’s eyes were dry,
      Said, ‘This thought crosses me, my Dove;
   If Heaven should proffer, when we die,
      Some unconceiv’d, superior love,
   How take the exchange without despair,
      Without worse folly how refuse?’
   But she, who, wise as she was fair,
      For subtle doubts had simple clues,
   Said, ‘Custom sanctifies, and faith
      Is more than joy: ah, how desire
   In any heaven a different path,
      Though, found at first, it had been higher?
   Yet love makes death a dreadful thought!
      Felix, at what a price we live!’
   But present pleasures soon forgot
      The future’s dread alternative;
   For, as became the festal time,
      He cheer’d her heart with tender praise,
   And speeches wanting only rhyme
      To make them like his winged lays.
   He discommended girlhood.  ‘What
      For sweetness like the ten-years’ wife,
   Whose customary love is not
      Her passion, or her play, but life?
   With beauties so maturely fair,
      Affecting, mild, and manifold,
   May girlish charms mo more compare
      Than apples green with apples gold.
   Ah, still unpraised Honoria, Heaven,
      When you into my arms it gave,
   Left nought hereafter to be given
      But grace to feel the good I have.’


   Her own and manhood’s modesty
      Made dumb her love, but, on their road,
   His hand in hers felt soft reply,
      And like rejoinder found bestow’d;
   And, when the carriage set them down,
      ‘How strange,’ said he, ‘’twould seem to meet,
   When pacing, as we now this town,
      A Florence or a Lisbon Street,
   That Laura or that Catherine, who,
      In the remote, romantic years,
   From Petrarch or Camoens drew
      Their songs and their immortal tears!’
   But here their converse had its end;
      For, crossing the Cathedral Lawn,
   There came an ancient college-friend,
      Who, introduced to Mrs. Vaughan,
   Lifted his hat, and bow’d and smiled.
      And fill’d her kind large eyes with joy,
   By patting on the cheek her child,
      With, ‘Is he yours, this handsome boy?’

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

  Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Bella Sauvage, London, E.C.

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