Изображения страниц

"Vision,” his public career will not be more favorably transmitted by history. Of his private virtues (although a little expensive to the nation) there can be no doubt.

With regard to the supernatural personages treated of, I can only say that I know as much about them, and (as an honest mau) have a bet. ter right to talk of them than Robert Southey. I have also treated them more tolerantly. The way in which that poor insane creature, the Laureate, deals aboui his judgments in the next world, is like his own judgment in this. If it was not completely ludicrous, it would be something worse, I don't think that there is much more to say at present.


[ocr errors]

SAINT PETER sat by the celestial gate : His keys were rusty, and the lock was

dull, So little trouble had been given of late ; Not that the place by any means was

full, But since the Gallic era "eighty-eight" The devils had ta'en a longer, stronger

pull, And "a pull altogether," as they say At sea-which drew most souls another

way. The angels all were singing out of tune, And hoarse with having little else to

do, Excepting to wind up the sun and moon,

Or curb a runaway young star or two, Or wild colt of a comet, which too soon Broke out of bounds o'er the ethereal

blue, Splitting some planet with its playful

tail, As boats are sometimes by a wanton


very devil

For some resource to turn himself

about, And claim the help of his celestial peers, To aid him ere he should be quite worn

out By the increased demand for his re

marks: Six angels and twelve saints were named

his clerks. This was a handsome board-at least

for heaven; And yet they had even then enough

to do, So many conquerors' cars were daily

driven, So many kingdoms fitted up anew ; Each day too slew its thousands six or

seven, Till at the crowning carnage, Water

loo, They threw their pens down in divine

disgustThe page was so besmear'd with blood

and dust. This by the way; 't is not mine to record

What angels shrink from ; even the On this occasion his own work abhorrid,

So surfeited with the infernal revel: Though he himself had sharpen'd every

sword, It almost quench'd his innate thirst

of evil. (Here Satan's sole good work deserves

insertion 'T is, that he has both generals in re.

version.) Let's skip a few short years of hollow

peace, Which peopled earth no better, hell

as wont, And heaven none-they form the tyrant's

lease, With nothing but new nanies sub

scribed upon 't; 'T will one day finish: meantime they

increase, “ With seven heads and ten diorns,"

and all in front, Like Saint John's foretold beast; but

ours are born Less formidable in the head than horn. In the first year of freedom's second

dawn Died George the Third ; although no

tyrant, one

The guardian seraphs had retired on

high, Finding their charges past all care be

low; Terrestrial business fill'd nought in the

sky Save the recording angel's black

bureau ; Who found, indeed, the facts to multi

ply With such rapidity of vice and woe, That he had stripp'd off both his wings

in quills, And yet was in arrear of human ills. His business so augmented of late years, That he was

against his will no doubt, (Just like those cherubs, earthly minis


Who shielded tyrants, till each sense

withdrawn Left him por mental nor external sun ; A better farmer ne'er brush'd dew from

lawn, A worse king never left a realm un

done ! He died-but left his subjects still be

hind, One half as mad-and t'other no less


He died ! his death made no great stir

on earth : His burial made some pomp; there

was profusion Of velvet, gilding, brass, and no great

dearth Of aught but tears-save those shed

by collusion. For these things may be bought at their

true worth ; Of elegy there was the due infusionBought also; and the torches, cloaks,

and banners, Heralds, and relics of old Gothic man

ners, Form'd a sepulchral melodrame. Of all The fools who flock'd to swell or see

the show, Who cared about the corpse? The

funeral Made the attraction, and the black

the woe. There throbb'd not there a thought

which pierced the pall; And when the gorgeous coffin was

laid low, It seem'd the mockery of bell to fold The rottenness of eighty years in gold.

But where's the proctor who will ask

his son ? In whom his qualities are reigning

still, Except that household virtue, most un

common, Of constancy to a bad, ugly woman. “ God save the king !” It is a large

economy In God to save the like ; but if he will Besaving, all the better; for not one am I Of those who think damnation better

still : I hardly know too if not quite alone am I

In this small hope of bettering future ill By circumscribing, with some slight re

striction, The eternity of hell's hot jurisdiction. I know this is unpopular ; I know 'Tis blasphenous; I know one may be

damn'd For hoping no one else may c'er be so; I know my catechism; I know we're

cramm'd With the best doctrines till we quite

o'erflow; I know that all save England's churclı

have shammid, And that the other twice two hundred

churches And synagogues have made a dumn'd

bad purchase. God help us all! God help me too! I am, God knows, as helpless as the devil can

wish, And not a whit more difficult to damn, Than is to bring to land a late-hook'd

fish, Or to the butcher to purvey the lamb ;

Not that I'm fit for such a noble dish, As one day will be that immortal fry Of almost everybody born to die. Saint Peter sat by the celestial gate, And nodded o'er his keys; when, lo!

there came A wondrous noise he had not heard of

lateA rushing sound of wind, and stream,

and flame; In short, a roar of things extremely

great, Which would have made aught save a

saint exclaim; But he, with first a start and then a wink,

(think! Said, “ There's another star gone out, 1

So mix his body with the dust! It might

Return to what it must far sooner, were The natural compound left alone to fight Its way back into earth, and fire, and

air; But the unnatural balsamis merely blight What nature made him at his birth,

as bare As the mere million's base unmummied

clay-Yet all his spices but prolong decay.

He's dead--and upper earth with him

has done ; He's buried; save the undertaker's bill, Or lapidary scrawl, the world is gone

For him, unless he left a German will ;

So as to make a martyr, never sped Better than did this weak and wooden


his eyes,

But ere he could return to his repose,

A cherub flapp'd his right wing o'er At which St. Peter yawn'd, and rubb'd

his nose : · Saint porter," said the angel, “ pri

thee rise !" Waving a goodly wing, which glow'd,

as glows An earthly peacock's tail, with hear

enly dyes : To which the saint replied, “ Well,

what's the matter? Is Lucifer come back with all this


No." quoth the cherub; “ George the

Third is dead." “ And who is George the Third ? " re

plied the apostle: s What George ?' what Third ?” “ The

king of England," said The angel. Well! he won't find

kings to jostle Him on his way; but does he wear his

head? Because the last we saw here had a

tustle, And ne'er would have got into heaven's

good graces, Had he not flung his head in all our faces.

“ But had it come up here upon its

shoulders, There would have been a different tale

to tell : The fellow-feeling in the saints' beholders Seems to have acted on them like a

spell, And so this very foolish head heaven

solders Back on its trunk: it may be very well, And seems the custom here, to overthrow Whatever has been wisely done below." The angel answer'd, “Peter ! do not

pout: The king who comes bas head and all

entire, And never knew much what it was

aboutHe did as doth the puppet--by its wire, And will be judged like all the rest, no

doubt: My business and your own is not to

inquire Into such matters, but to mind our cueWhich is to act as we are bid to do."

** He was, if I remember, king of France ; That head of luis, which could not

keep a crown On earth, yet ventured in my face to

advance A claim to those of martyrs-like my


[ocr errors][merged small]


While thus they spake, the angelic cara

van, Arriving like a rush of mighty wind, Cleaving the fields of space, as doth the Some silver stream (say Ganges, Nile

or Inde, Or Thames, or Tweed), and 'midst them

an old man With an old soul, and both extremely

blind, Halted before the gate, and in his shroud Seated their fellow traveller on a cloud. But bringing up the rear of this bright

host A Spirit of a different aspect waved His wings, like thunder-clouds above

some coast Whose barren beach with frequent

wrecks is paved ; His brow was like the deep when tem

pest-toss'd ; Fierce and unfathomable thoughts

engraved Eternal wrath on his inimortal face, And where he gazed a gloom pervaded


“ And then he set up such a headless

howl, That all the saints came out and took

him in; And there he sits by St. Paul, cheek by

jowl ; That fellow Paul--the parvenù ! The

skin Of St. Bartholomew, which makes his

cow! In heaven, and upon earth redeem'd

his sin,

From the fiends' leader to the angels'

prince ; There also are some altar-pieces, though

I really can't say that they nucli evince One's inner notions of immortal spirits ; But let the connoisseurs explain their


As he drew near, he gazed upon the gate

Ne'er to be enter'd more by him or Sin, With such a glance of supernatural hate, As made Saint Peter wish himself

within ; He patter'd with his keys at a great rate, And sweated through his apostolic

skin : Of course his perspiration was but ichor, Or some such other spiritual liquor. The very cherubs huddled all together, Like birds wlien soars the falcon; and

they felt A tingling to the tip of every feather,

And form'd a circle like Orion's belt Around their poor old charge; who

scarce knew whither His guards had led him, though they

gently dealt With royal manes (for by many stories, And true, we learn the angels all are

Tories). As things were in this posture, the gate

flew Asunder, and the flashing of its hinges Flung over space an universal hue

of many-color'd fame, until its tinges Reach'd even our speck of earth, and

made a new Aurora borealis spread its fringes O'er the North Pole ; the same seen,

when ice-bound, By Captain Parry's crew, in “ Melville's

Sound.” And from the gate thrown open issued

beaming A beautiful and mighty Thing of

Light, Radiant with glory, like a banner stream

ing Victorious from some world-o'erthrow

ing fight : My poor comparisons must needs be

teeming With earthly likenesses, for here the

night Of clay obscures our best conceptions,

saving Johanna Southcote, or Bob Southey

raving. 'Twas the archangel Michael ; all men

; know The make of angels and archangels,

since There's scarce a scribbler has not one to


Michael flew forth in glory and in good ; A goodly work of him from whom all

glory And good arise ; the portal past—he

stood ; Before him the young cherubs and

saints boary(I say young, begging to be understood By looks, nct years ; and should be

very sorry To state, they were not older than St.

Peter, But merely that they seem'd a little

sweeter). The cherubs and the saints bow'd down

before That arch-angelic hierarchi, the first Of essences angelical, who wore The aspect of a god ; but this ne'er

nursed Pride in his heavenly bosom, in whose



No thought, save for his Master's

service, durst Intrude, however glorifieıl and high ; He knew him but the viceroy of the sky. Hu and the sombre, silent Spirit met-They knew each other both for good

and ill ; Such was their power, that neither could

forget His former friend and future foe ; but

still There was a high, im:mortal, proud

regret In either's eye, as if 't were less their

will Than destiny to make the eternal years Their date of war, and their “champ

clos” the spheres. But here they were in neutral space: wo

know From Job, that Satan hath the power

to pay

A heavenly visit thrice a year or so ; And that the ** sons of God," like those

of clay, Must keep bim company; and we night


From the same book, in how polite a

way The dialogue is lield between the Powers Of Good and Evil-but 'twould take up


With better sense and hearts, whom his

tory mentions, Who long have“ paved hell with their

good intentions."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Michael began: “What wouldst thou

with this man, Now dead, and brought before the

Lord ? What ill Hath he wrought since his mortal race

began, That thou canst claim him? Speak!

and do thy will, If it be just : if in this earthly span

He hath been greatly failing to fulfil His duties as a king and mortal, say, And he is thine ; if not, let him have

way.” “ Michael!" replied the Prince of Air,

“ even here, Before the Gate of him thou servest,

must I claim my subject : and will make

appear That as he was my worshipper in dust, So shall he be in spirit, although dear To thee and thine, because nor wine

nor lust Were of his weaknesses ; yet on the

throne He reign'd o'er millions to serve me



A civil aspect : though they did not

kiss, Yet still between his Darkness and his

Brightness There pass'd a mutual glance of great


The Archangel bow'd, not like a modern

bean, But with a graceful Oriental bene, Pressing one radiant arm just where be

low The heart in good men is supposed to

tend ; He turn d as to an equal, not too low, But kindly ; Satan met his ancient

friend With more bauteur, as might an old

Castilian Poor noble meet a mushroom rich


“ Look to our earth, or rather mine ; it

was, Once, more thy Master's : but I triumple

not In this poor planet's conquest ; nor, alas

Need he thou servest envy me my lot: With all the myriads of bright world,

which pass In worship round him, he may havu

forgot Yon weak creation of such paltry things. I think few worth damnation save theis


He merely bent his diabolic brow
An instant; and then raising it, he

stood In act to assert his right or wrong, and

show Cause why King George by no means

could or should Make out a case to be exempt from woe Eternal, more than other kings,


[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »