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In crescent, dimly rained about the leaf
Twilights of airy silver, till we reached
The limit of the hills ; and as we sank
From rock to rock upon the glooming quay,
The town was hushed beneath us: lower down
The bay was oily calm; the harbor-buoy
With one green sparkle ever and anon
Dipt by itself, and we were glad at heart.
John. I'm glad I walked. How fresh the meadows
Above the river, and, but a month ago,
The whole hill-side was redder than a fox.
Is yon plantation where this by-way joins
John. And when does this come by? James. The mail ? At one o'clock.
John. What is it now? James. A quarter to.
John. Whose house is that I see Beyond the watermills ?
James. Sir Edward Head's : But he's abroad: the place is to be sold. John. O, his. He was not broken.
James. No sir, he, Vexed with a morbid devil in his blood That veiled the world with jaundice, hid his face From all men, and commercing with himself, He lost the sense that handles daily lifeThat keeps us all in order more or lessAnd sick of home, went overseas for change. John. And whither ? James. Nay, who knows ? he's here and
But let him go; his devil goes with him,
As well as with his tenant, Jocky Dawes.
John. What's that?
James. You saw the man-on Monday, was it?
There by the humpbacked willow; half stands up
And bristles; half has fallen and made a bridge ;
And there he caught the younker tickling trout
Caught in flagrante—what's the Latin word ?--
Delicto: but his house, for so they say,
Was haunted with a jolly ghost, that shook
The curtains, whined in lobbies, tapt at doors,
And ruminaged like a rat: no servant stayed :
The farmer vext packs up his beds and chairs,
And all his household stuff'; and with his boy
Betwixt his knees, his wife upon the tilt,
Sets out, and meets a friend who hails him, “ What!
You're flitting !” “ Yes, we're flitting,” says the ghost,
(For they had packed the thing among the beds.)
" O well,” says he, “ you flitting with us too-
Jack, turn the horses' heads and home again.”
John. He left his wife behind; for so I heard.
James. He left her, yes. I met my lady once : A woman like a butt, and harsh as crabs.
John. O yet but I remember, ten years back'Tis now at least ten years—and then she was— You could not light upon a sweeter thing: A body slight and round, and like a pear In growing, modest eyes, a hand, a foot Lessening in perfect cadence, and a skin As clean and white as privet when it flowers. James. Ay, ay, the blosson: fades, and they that
loved At first like dove and dove were cat and dog. She was the daughter of a cottager, Out of her sphere. What betwixt shame and pride, New things and old, himself and her, she soured To what she is: a nature never kind !
like manners: like breeds like, they say. Kind nature is the best : those manners next
That fit us like a nature second-hand;
Which are indeed the manners of the great.
John. But I had heard it was this bill that past, And fear of change at home, that drove him hence.
James. That was the last drop in the cup of gall. I once was near him when his bailiff brought A Chartist pike. You should have seen him wince As from a venomous thing: he thought himself A mark for all, and shuddered, lest a cry Should break his sleep by night, and his nice eyes Should see the raw mechanic's bloody thumbs Sweat on his blazoned chairs; but, sir, you know That these two parties still divide the world— Of those that want, and those that have : and still The same old sore breaks out from
age age With much the same result. Now I myself, A Tory to the quick, was as a boy Destructive, when I had not what I would. I was at school—a college in the South: There lived a flayflint near; we stole his fruit, His hens, his egys; but there was law for us; We paid in person. He had a sow, sir. She, With meditative grunts of much content, Lay great with pig, wallowing in sun and mud. By night we dragged her to the college tower From her warm bed, and up the corkscrew stair With hand and rope we haled the groaning sow, And on the leads we kept her till she pigged. Large range of prospect had the mother sow, And but for daily loss of one she loved, As one by one we took them—but for this As never sow was higher in this world— Might have been happy: but what lot is pure ? We took them all, till she was left alone Upon her tower, the Niobe of swine, And so returned unfarrowed to her sty. John. They found you out ?
James. Not they.
John. Well--after all What know we of the secret of a man ?
His nerves were wrong. What ails us, who are
That we should mimic this raw fool the world,
Which charts us all in its coarse blacks or whites,
As ruthless as a baby with a worm,
As cruel as a schoolboy ere he grows
-more from ignorance than will.
But put your best foot forward, or I fear
That we shall miss the mail: and here it comes
With five at top: as quaint a four-in-hand
As you shall see-three pyebalds and a roan.
ALTHOUGH I be the basest of mankind,
From scalp to sole one slough and crust of sin,
Unfit for earth, unfit for heaven, scarce meet
For troops of devils, mad with blasphemy,
I will not cease to grasp the hope I hold
Of saintdom, and to clamor, mourn and sob,
Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer,
Have mercy, Lord, and take away my sin.
Let this avail
, just, dreadful, mighty God,
This not be all in vain, that thrice ten years,
Thrice multiplied by superhuman pangs,
In hungers and in thirsts, fevers and cold,
In coughs, aches, stitches, ulcerous throes and
A sign betwixt the meadow and the cloud,
Patient on this tall pillar I have borne [snow;
Rain, wind, frost, heat, hail, damp, and sleet, and
And I had hoped that ere this period closed
Thou wouldst have caught me up into thy rest,
Denying not these weather-beaten limbs
The meed of saints, the white robe and the palm.
O take the meaning, Lord: I do not breathe,
Not whisper, any murmur of complaint.
Pain heaped ten-hundred-fold to this, were still
Less burthen, by ten-hundred-fold, to bear,
Than were those lead-like tons of sin, that crushed
My spirit flat before thee.
O Lord, Lord,
Thou knowest I bore this better at the first,
For I was strong and hale of body then;
And though my teeth, which now are dropt away,
Would chatter with the cold, and all my beard
Was tagged with icy fringes in the moon,
I drowned the whoopings of the owl with sound
Of pious hymns and psalms, and sometimes saw
An angel stand and watch me, as I sang
Now am I feeble grown: my end draws nigh-
I hope my end draws nigh: half deaf I am,
So that I scarce can hear the people lium
About the column's base, and almost blind,
And scarce can recognize the fields I know.
And both my thighs are rotted with the dew,
Yet cease I not to clamor and to cry,
While my stiff spine can hold my weary head,
Till all my limbs drop piecemeal from the stone,
Have mercy, mercy: take away my sin.
Jesus, if thou wilt not save my soul,
Who may be saved ? who is it may be saved ?
Who may be made a saint, if I fail here?
Show me the man hath suffered more than I.
For did not all thy martyrs die one death ?
For either they were stoned, or crucified,
Or burned in fire, or boiled in oil, or sawn
In twain bencath the ribs; but I die here
To-day, and whole years long, a life of death.
Bear witness, if I could have found a way
(And heedfully I sifted all my thought)
More slowly-painful to subdue this home
Of sin, my flesh, which I despise and hate,
I had not stinted practice, oh my God!
For not alone this pillar-punishment,
Not this alone I bore: but while I lived
In the white convent down the valley there,