Imatges de pàgina


Such were his fellow-servants; thus
His virtue, like our own, was built
Too much on that indignant fuss
Hypocrite Pride stirs up in us

To bully one another's guilt.


He had a mind which was somehow

At once circumference and centre Of all he might or feel or know; Nothing went ever out, although Something did ever enter.


He had as much imagination

As a pint-pot;-he never could Fancy another situation,

From which to dart his contemplation,

Than that wherein he stood.


Yet his was individual mind,

And new-created all he saw

In a new manner, and refined
Those new creations, and combined
Them by a master-spirit's law.


Thus-although unimaginative-
An apprehension clear, intense,
Of his mind's work, had made alive
The things it wrought on; I believe
Wakening a sort of thought in sense.


But from the first 'twas Peter's drift
To be a kind of moral eunuch:
He touched the hem of Nature's shift,-
Felt faint, and never dared uplift
The closest all-concealing tunic.


She laughed the while with an arch smile,
And kissed him with a sister's kiss,
And said: My best Diogenes,
I love you well-but, if you please,
Tempt not again my deepest bliss.


"Tis you are cold; for I, not coy,

Yield love for love, frank, warm, and true;

And Burns, a Scottish peasant boy

His errors prove it-knew my joy

More, learned friend, than you.


"Bocca baciata non perde ventura,

Anzi rinnuova come fa la luna :

So thought Boccaccio, whose sweet words might cure a Male prude, like you, from what you now endure, a Low-tide in soul, like a stagnant laguna."


Then Peter rubbed his eyes severe,

And smoothed his spacious forehead down
With his broad palm;-'twixt love and fear,
He looked, as he no doubt felt, queer.
And in his dream sate down.


The Devil was no uncommon creature;
A leaden-witted thief-just huddled

Out of the dross and scum of nature;

A toad-like lump of limb and feature,

With mind and heart and fancy muddled.


He was that heavy dull cold thing
The Spirit of Evil well may be:
A drone too base to have a sting;
Who gluts, and grimes his lazy wing,
And calls lust "luxury."


Now he was quite the kind of wight
Round whom collect, at a fixed era,

Venison, turtle, hock, and claret-
Good cheer, and those who come to share it
And best East Indian madeira.


It was his fancy to invite

Men of science, wit, and learning,
Who came to lend each other light;
He proudly thought that his gold's might
Had set those spirits burning.


And men of learning, science, wit,
Considered him as you and I
Think of some rotten tree, and sit
Lounging and dining under it,
Exposed to the wide sky.


And all the while, with loose fat smile,
The willing wretch sat winking there;
Believing 'twas his power that made
That jovial scene, and that all paid
Homage to his unnoticed chair.


Though to be sure this place was Hell;
He was the Devil; and all they-
What though the claret circled well,
And wit, like ocean, rose and fell?—
Were damned eternally.



Among the guests who often stayed
Till the Devil's petits-soupers,
A man there came, fair as a maid;
And Peter noted what he said,

Standing behind his master's chair.


He was a mighty poet and

A subtle-souled psychologist;

All things he seemed to understand
Of old or new, of sea or land-

But his own mind, which was a mist.

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This was a man who might have turned
Hell into Heaven-and so in gladness

A Heaven unto himself have earned:

But he in shadows undiscerned

Trusted, and damned himself to madness.


He spoke of poetry, and how

Divine it was-" a light-a love

A spirit which like wind doth blow

As it listeth, to and fro;

A dew rained down from God above;


A power which comes and goes like dream,
And which none can ever trace-

Heaven's light on earth-Truth's brightest beam."
And when he ceased there lay the gleam

Of those words upon his face.


Now Peter, when he heard such talk,
Would, heedless of a broken pate,
Stand like a man asleep, or baulk
Some wishing guest of knife or fork,

Or drop and break his master's plate.


At night he oft would start and wake.
Like a lover, and began

In a wild measure songs to make
On moor and glen and rocky lake,
And on the heart of man;


And on the universal sky

And the wide earth's bosom green,-
And the sweet strange mystery
Of what beyond these things may lie,
And yet remain unseen.


For in his thought he visited

The spots in which, ere dead and damned, He his wayward life had led;

Yet knew not whence the thoughts were fed Which thus his fancy crammed.


And these obscure remembrances
Stirred such harmony in Peter
That, whensoever he should please,
He could speak of rocks and trees
In poetic metre.


For, though it was without a sense
Of memory, yet he remembered well
Many a ditch and quickset fence;
Of lakes he had intelligence;

He knew something of heath and fell.


He had also dim recollections

Of pedlars tramping on their rounds; Milk-pans and pails; and odd collections Of saws and proverbs; and reflections

Old parsons make in burying-grounds.


But Peter's verse was clear, and came
Announcing, from the frozen hearth
Of a cold age, that none might tame
The soul of that diviner flame

It augured to the earth:


Like gentle rains on the dry plains,

Making that green which late was grey, Or like the sudden moon that stains Some gloomy chamber's window-panes With a broad light like day.


For language was in Peter's hand
Like clay while he was yet a potter:
And he made songs for all the land
Sweet both to feel and understand,

As pipkins late to mountain cotter.



And Mr.- the bookseller

Gave twenty pounds for some. Then, scorning A footman's yellow coat to wear,

Peter (too proud of heart, I fear)

Instantly gave the Devil warning.


Whereat the Devil took offence,

And swore in his soul a great oath then,

That for his damned impertinence
He'd bring them to a proper sense
Of what was due to gentlemen!



"OH that mine enemy had written
A book!" cried Job:-a fearful curse,
If to the Arab, as the Briton,

'Twas galling to be critic-bitten:

The Devil to Peter wished no worse.


When Peter's next new book found vent,
The Devil to all the first Reviews

A copy of it slily sent,

With five pound note as compliment,
And this short notice-"Pray abuse."


Then seriatim, month and quarter,
Appeared such mad tirades !-One said:
"Peter seduced Mrs. Foy's daughter;
Then drowned the mother in Ullswater,
The last thing as he went to bed."


Another: "Let him shave his head.
Where's Dr. Willis ?-Or is he joking?
What does the rascal mean or hope,
No longer imitating Pope,

In that barbarian Shakspeare poking?


One more: "Is incest not enough

And must there be adultery too?

Grace after meat? Miscreant and liar?
Thief! blackguard! scoundrel! fool! Hell fire
Is twenty times too good for you.


"By that last book of yours WE think You've double-damned yourself to scorn;

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