Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Those whom they thirst for ; thongh the sound of Fame
May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake

The fever of vain longing, and the name
So honour'd but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.

XXXII.

They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn
The tree will wither long before it fall ;
The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn ;
The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall
In massy hoariness; the ruin'd wall
Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone ;
The bars survive the captive they enthral ;
The day drags through tho’ storms keep out the sun
And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on:

XXXIII.

Even as a broken mirror, which the glass
In every fragment multiplies; and makes
A thousand images of one that was,
The same, and still the more, the more it breaks ;
And thus the heart will do which not forsakes,
Living in shatter'd guise, and still, and cold,
And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches,

Yet withers on till all without is old,
Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.

XXXIV.

There is a very life in our despair,
Vitality of poison, - a quick root
Which feeds these deadly branches; for it were
As nothing did we dio; but Lile will suit
Itself Sorrow's most detested fruit,
Like to the apples (') on the Dead Sea's shorc,
All ashes to the taste : Did man compute

Existence by enjoyment, and count o'er
Such hours 'gainst years of life, say, would he name three-

score?

(1) The (sabled) apples on the brink of the lake Asphaltes were said to be air without, and within ashes. - Vide Tacitus, Histor. 1.5, 7.

XXXV.

of man:

The Psalmist number'd out the years
They are enough ; and if thy tale be true,
Thou, who didst grudge him even that fleeting span,
More than enough, thou fatal Waterloo !
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say
“ Here, where the sword united nations drew,

“ Our countrymen were warring on that day!” And this is much, and all which will not pass away.

XXXVI.
There sunk the greatest, nor the worst of men,
Whose spirit antithetically mixt
One moment of the mightiest, and again
On little objects with like firmness fixt,
Extreme in all things ! hadst thou been betwixt,
Thy throne had still been thine, or never been ;
For daring made thy rise as fall : thou seek'st

Even now to re-assume the imperial mien,
And shake again the world, the Thunderer of the scene !

XXXVII.

Conqueror and captive of the earth art thou !
She trembles at thee still, and thy wild name
Was ne'er more bruited in men's minds than now
That thou art nothing, save the jest of Fame,
Who woo'd thee once, thy vassal, and became
The flatterer of thy fierceness, till thou wert
A god unto thyself; nor less the same

To the astounded kingdoms all inert,
Who deem'd thee for a time whate'er thou didst assert.

XXXVIII.

Oh, more or less than man - in high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field;
Now making monarchs' necks thy footstool, now
More than thy meanest soldier taught to yield;
An empire thou couldst crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion, nor,
However deeply in men's spirits skill'd,

Look through thine own, nor curb the lust of war, Nor learn that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest stas.

XXXIX.

Yct well thy soul hath brook'd the turning tide
With that untaught innate philosophy,
Which, be it wisdom, coldness, or deep pride,
Is gall and wormwood to an enemy.
When the whole host of hatred stood hard by,
To watch and mock thee shrinking, thou hast smio
With a sedate and all-enduring eye ;

When Fortune fled her spoild and favourite child,
He stood unbow'd beneath the ills upon him piled.

XL.

Sager than in thy fortunes; for in them
Ambition steel'd thee on too far to show
That just habitual scorn, which could contemn
Men and their thoughts ; 'twas wise to feel, not so
To were it ever on thy lip and brow,
And spurn

the instruments thou wert to use
Till they wero turn'd unto thino overthrow :

"Tis but a worthless world to win or lose ; So hath it proved to thee, and all such lot who choose.

XLI.

If, like a tower upon a headlong rock,
Thou hadst been made to stand or fall alone,
Such scorn of man had help'd to brave the shock;
But men's thoughts were the steps which paved thy throne,
Their admiration thy best weapon

shone

;
The part of Philip's son was thine, not then
(Unless aside thy purple had been thrown)

Like stern Diogenes to mock at men;
For sceptred cynics earth were far too wide a den. (')

(1) The great error of Napoloon, “ if we have writ our annals true,” was a continued obtrusion on mankind of his want of all community of feeling for or with thern; perhaps inore offensive to human vanity than tho active cruelty of inore trembling and suspicious tyranny..

Such were his speeches to public assomblies as well as individuals ; and the singlo expression which ho is said to have used on returning to Paris after the Russian winter had destroyed his army, rubbing his hands over a fire, “ This is pleasanter than Moscow," would probably alienate more favour from his cause than tho destruction and reverses which led to the remark.

XLII.

But quiet to quick bosomy is a hell,
And there hath been thy bane ; there is a fire
And motion of the soul which will not dwell
In its own narrow being, but aspire
Beyond the fitting medium of desire ;
And, but once kindled, quenchless evermore,
Preys upon high adventure, nor can tire

Of aught but rest; a fever at the core,
Fatal to him who bears, to all who ever bore.

XLIII.

This makes the madmen who have made men mad By their contagion ; Conquerors and Kings, Founders of sects and systems, to whom add Sophists, Bards, Statesmen, all unquict things Which stir too strongly the soul's secret springs, And are themselves the fools to those they fool, Envied, yet how unenviable ! what stings

Are theirs ! One breast laid open were a school Which would unteach mankind the lust to shine or ru.o •

XLIV.

Their breath is agitation, and their life
A storm whereon they ride, to sink at last,
And yet so nursed and bigoted to strife,
That should their days, surviving perils past,
Melt to calm twilight, they feel overcast
With sorrow and supineness, and so die ;
Even as a flame unfed, which runs to waste

With its own flickering, or a sword laid by
Which cats into itself, and rusts ingloriously

XLV.

He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find
The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the sun of glory glow,
And far beneath the earth and ocean spread,
Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow

Contending tempests on his naked head,
And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.

XLVI.

Away with theso ! true Wisdorn's world will be
Within its own creation, or in thine,
Maternal nature ! for who teems like thee,
Thus on the banks of thy majestic Rhine ?
There IIarold gazes on a work divine,
A blending of all beauties ; streams and dells,
Fruit, foliage, crag, wood, cornfield, mountain, vine

And chiefless castles breathing stern farewells
From gray but leafy walls, where Ruin greenly dwells.

XLVII.

And there they stand, as stands a lofty mind
Worn, but unstooping to the baser crowd,
All tenantless, save to the crannying wind,
Or holding dark communion with the cloud.
There was a day when they were young and proud,
Banners on high, and battles pass'd below;
But they who fought are in a bloody shroud,

And those which wayed are shredless dust ere now,
And the bleak battlements shall bear no future blow.

XLVIII.

Beneath these battlements, within those walls,
Power dwelt amidst her passions ; in proud state
Each robber chief upheld his armed halls,
Doing his evil will, nor less elato
Than mightier heroes of a longer date.
What want these outlaws (') conquerors should have ?
But History's purchased page to call them great.

A wider space, an ornamented grave ?
Their hopes were not less warm, their souls were full as

brave.

XLIX.

In their baronial feuds and single fields,
What deeds of prowess unrecorded died !
And Love, which lent a blazon to their shields,
With emblems well devised by amorous pride,
Through all the mail of iron hearts would glide ;

(1) " What wants that knave

That a king should have ? " was King James's question on meeting Johnny Armstrong and his followers in full accoutrements. - See the Ballad.

« ForrigeFortsett »