THE POETICAL WORKS
IN TWO VOLUMES
WITHIN AND WITHOUT
A HIDDEN LIFE
A STORY OF THE SEA-SHORE
THE GOSPEL WOMEN— 1. The Mother Mary 2. The Woman that lifted up her Voice 3. The Mother of Zebedee's Children 4. The Syrophenician Woman 5. The Widow of Nain 6. The Woman whom Satan had bound 7. The Woman who came behind Him in the Crowd 8. The Widow with the Two Mites 9. The Women who ministered unto Him 10. Pilate's Wife 11. The Woman of Samaria 12. Mary Magdalene 13. The Woman in the Temple 14. Martha 15. Mary 16. The Woman that was a Sinner
A BOOK OF SONNETS— The Burnt-Offering The Unseen Face Concerning Jesus A Memorial of Africa A.M.D To Garibaldi, with a Book To S.F.S Russell Gurney To One threatened with Blindness To Aubrey de Vere General Gordon The Chrysalis The Sweeper of the Floor Death
ORGAN SONGS— To A.J. Scott Light To A. J. Scott I would I were a Child A Prayer for the Past Longing I know what Beauty is Sympathy The Thank-Offering Prayer Rest O do not leave Me Blessed are the Meek, for they shall inherit the Earth Hymn for a Sick Girl Written for One in sore Pain A Christmas Carol for 1862 A Christmas Carol The Sleepless Jesus Christmas, 1873 Christmas, 1884 An Old Story A Song for Christmas To my Aging Friends Christmas Song of the Old Children Christmas Meditation The Old Castle Christmas Prayer Song of the Innocents Christmas Day and Every Day The Children's Heaven Rejoice The Grace of Grace Antiphon Dorcas Marriage Song Blind Bartimeus Come unto Me Morning Hymn Noontide Hymn Evening Hymn The Holy Midnight Rondel A Prayer Home from the Wars God; not Gift To any Friend
VIOLIN SONGS— Hope Deferred Death Hard Times If I were a Monk, and Thou wert a Nun My Heart The Flower-Angels To my Sister Oh Thou of little Faith Wild Flowers Spring Song Summer Song Autumn Song Winter Song Picture Songs A Dream Song At my Window after Sunset A Father to a Mother The Temple of God Going to Sleep To-Morrow Foolish Children Love is Home Faith Waiting Our Ship My Heart thy Lark Two in One Bedtime A Prayer A Song Prayer
SONGS OF THE DAYS AND NIGHTS— Songs of the Summer Days Songs of the Summer Nights Songs of the Autumn Days Songs of the Autumn Nights Songs of the Winter Days Songs of the Winter Nights Songs of the Spring Days Songs of the Spring Nights
A BOOK OF DREAMS
ROADSIDE POEMS— Better Things An Old Sermon with a New Text Little Elfie Reciprocity The Shadows The Child-Mother He Heeded Not The Sheep and the Goat The Wakeful Sleeper A Dream of Waking A Manchester Poem What the Lord Saith How shall He Sing who hath No Song This World Saint Peter Zacchaeus After Thomas Kemp
TO AND OF FRIENDS— To Lady Noel Byron To the Same To Aurelio Saffi A Thanksgiving for F.D. Maurice George Rolleston To Gordon, leaving Khartoum Song of the Saints and Angels Failure To E.G., dedicating a Book To G.M.T. In Memoriam Lady Caroline Charteris
WITHIN AND WITHOUT:
A Dramatic Poem.
What life it is, and how that all these lives do gather— With outward maker's force, or like an inward father.
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY'S Arcadia.
Written December and January, 1850-51.
Receive thine own; for I and it are thine. Thou know'st its story; how for forty days— Weary with sickness and with social haze, (After thy hands and lips with love divine Had somewhat soothed me, made the glory shine, Though with a watery lustre,) more delays Of blessedness forbid—I took my ways Into a solitude, Invention's mine; There thought and wrote, afar, and yet with thee. Those days gone past, I came, and brought a book; My child, developed since in limb and look. It came in shining vapours from the sea, And in thy stead sung low sweet songs to me, When the red life-blood labour would not brook.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT
Go thou into thy closet; shut thy door; And pray to Him in secret: He will hear. But think not thou, by one wild bound, to clear The numberless ascensions, more and more, Of starry stairs that must be climbed, before Thou comest to the Father's likeness near, And bendest down to kiss the feet so dear That, step by step, their mounting flights passed o'er. Be thou content if on thy weary need There falls a sense of showers and of the spring; A hope that makes it possible to fling Sickness aside, and go and do the deed; For highest aspiration will not lead Unto the calm beyond all questioning.
SCENE I.—A cell in a convent. JULIAN alone.
Julian. Evening again slow creeping like a death! And the red sunbeams fading from the wall, On which they flung a sky, with streaks and bars Of the poor window-pane that let them in, For clouds and shadings of the mimic heaven! Soul of my cell, they part, no more to come. But what is light to me, while I am dark! And yet they strangely draw me, those faint hues, Reflected flushes from the Evening's face, Which as a bride, with glowing arms outstretched, Takes to her blushing heaven him who has left His chamber in the dim deserted east. Through walls and hills I see it! The rosy sea! The radiant head half-sunk! A pool of light, As the blue globe had by a blow been broken, And the insphered glory bubbled forth! Or the sun were a splendid water-bird, That flying furrowed with its golden feet A flashing wake over the waves, and home! Lo there!—Alas, the dull blank wall!—High up, The window-pane a dead gray eye! and night Come on me like a thief!—Ah, well! the sun Has always made me sad! I'll go and pray: The terror of the night begins with prayer.
(Vesper bell.) Call them that need thee; I need not thy summons; My knees would not so pain me when I kneel, If only at thy voice my prayer awoke. I will not to the chapel. When I find Him, Then will I praise him from the heights of peace; But now my soul is as a speck of life Cast on the deserts of eternity; A hungering and a thirsting, nothing more. I am as a child new-born, its mother dead, Its father far away beyond the seas. Blindly I stretch my arms and seek for him: He goeth by me, and I see him not. I cry to him: as if I sprinkled ashes, My prayers fall back in dust upon my soul.
(Choir and organ-music.) I bless you, sweet sounds, for your visiting. What friends I have! Prismatic harmonies Have just departed in the sun's bright coach, And fair, convolved sounds troop in to me, Stealing my soul with faint deliciousness. Would they took shapes! What levees I should hold! How should my cell be filled with wavering forms! Louder they grow, each swelling higher, higher; Trembling and hesitating to float off, As bright air-bubbles linger, that a boy Blows, with their interchanging, wood-dove-hues, Just throbbing to their flight, like them to die. —Gone now! Gone to the Hades of dead loves! Is it for this that I have left the world?— Left what, poor fool? Is this, then, all that comes Of that night when the closing door fell dumb On music and on voices, and I went Forth from the ordered tumult of the dance, Under the clear cope of the moonless night, Wandering away without the city-walls, Between the silent meadows and the stars, Till something woke in me, and moved my spirit, And of themselves my thoughts turned toward God; When straight within my soul I felt as if An eye was opened; but I knew not whether 'Twas I that saw, or God that looked on me? It closed again, and darkness fell; but not To hide the memory; that, in many failings Of spirit and of purpose, still returned; And I came here at last to search for God. Would I could find him! Oh, what quiet content Would then absorb my heart, yet leave it free!
A knock at the door. Enter Brother ROBERT with a light.
Robert. Head in your hands as usual! You will fret Your life out, sitting moping in the dark. Come, it is supper-time.
Julian. I will not sup to-night.
Robert. Not sup? You'll never live to be a saint.
Julian. A saint! The devil has me by the heel.
Robert. So has he all saints; as a boy his kite, Which ever struggles higher for his hold. It is a silly devil to gripe so hard;— He should let go his hold, and then he has you. If you'll not come, I'll leave the light with you. Hark to the chorus! Brother Stephen sings.
Chorus. Always merry, and never drunk. That's the life of the jolly monk.
They say the first monks were lonely men, Praying each in his lonely den, Rising up to kneel again, Each a skinny male Magdalene, Peeping scared from out his hole Like a burrowing rabbit or a mole; But years ring changes as they roll—
Cho. Now always merry, &c.
When the moon gets up with her big round face, Like Mistress Poll's in the market-place, Down to the village below we pace;— We know a supper that wants a grace: Past the curtsying women we go, Past the smithy, all a glow, To the snug little houses at top of the row—
Cho. For always merry, &c.
And there we find, among the ale, The fragments of a floating tale: To piece them together we never fail; And we fit them rightly, I'll go bail. And so we have them all in hand, The lads and lasses throughout the land, And we are the masters,—you understand?
Cho. So always merry, &c.
Last night we had such a game of play With the nephews and nieces over the way, All for the gold that belonged to the clay That lies in lead till the judgment-day! The old man's soul they'd leave in the lurch, But we saved her share for old Mamma Church. How they eyed the bag as they stood in the porch!
Cho. Oh! always merry, and never drunk. That's the life of the jolly monk!
Robert. The song is hardly to your taste, I see! Where shall I set the light?
Julian. I do not need it.
Robert. Come, come! The dark is a hot-bed for fancies. I wish you were at table, were it only To stop the talking of the men about you. You in the dark are talked of in the light.
Julian. Well, brother, let them talk; it hurts not me.
Robert. No; but it hurts your friend to hear them say, You would be thought a saint without the trouble; You do no penance that they can discover. You keep shut up, say some, eating your heart, Possessed with a bad conscience, the worst demon. You are a prince, say others, hiding here, Till circumstance that bound you, set you free. To-night, there are some whispers of a lady That would refuse your love.
Julian. Ay! What of her?
Robert. I heard no more than so; and that you came To seek the next best service you could find: Turned from the lady's door, and knocked at God's.
Julian. One part at least is true: I knock at God's; He has not yet been pleased to let me in. As for the lady—that is—so far true, But matters little. Had I less to think, This talking might annoy me; as it is, Why, let the wind set there, if it pleases it; I keep in-doors.
Robert. Gloomy as usual, brother! Brooding on fancy's eggs. God did not send The light that all day long gladdened the earth, Flashed from the snowy peak, and on the spire Transformed the weathercock into a star, That you should gloom within stone walls all day. At dawn to-morrow, take your staff, and come: We will salute the breezes, as they rise And leave their lofty beds, laden with odours Of melting snow, and fresh damp earth, and moss— Imprisoned spirits, which life-waking Spring Lets forth in vapour through the genial air. Come, we will see the sunrise; watch the light Leap from his chariot on the loftiest peak, And thence descend triumphant, step by step, The stairway of the hills. Free air and action Will soon dispel these vapours of the brain.
Julian. My friend, if one should tell a homeless boy, "There is your father's house: go in and rest;" Through every open room the child would pass, Timidly looking for the friendly eye; Fearing to touch, scarce daring even to wonder At what he saw, until he found his sire; But gathered to his bosom, straight he is The heir of all; he knows it 'mid his tears. And so with me: not having seen Him yet, The light rests on me with a heaviness; All beauty wears to me a doubtful look; A voice is in the wind I do not know; A meaning on the face of the high hills Whose utterance I cannot comprehend. A something is behind them: that is God. These are his words, I doubt not, language strange; These are the expressions of his shining thoughts; And he is present, but I find him not. I have not yet been held close to his heart. Once in his inner room, and by his eyes Acknowledged, I shall find my home in these, 'Mid sights familiar as a mother's smiles, And sounds that never lose love's mystery. Then they will comfort me. Lead me to Him.
Robert (pointing to the Crucifix in a recess). See, there is God revealed in human form!
Julian (kneeling and crossing). Alas, my friend!—revealed—but as in nature: I see the man; I cannot find the God. I know his voice is in the wind, his presence Is in the Christ. The wind blows where it listeth; And there stands Manhood: and the God is there, Not here, not here!
(Pointing to his bosom.) [Seeing Robert's bewildered look, and changing his tone—]
You do not understand me. Without my need, you cannot know my want. You will all night be puzzling to determine With which of the old heretics to class me. But you are honest; will not rouse the cry Against me. I am honest. For the proof, Such as will satisfy a monk, look here! Is this a smooth belt, brother? And look here! Did one week's scourging seam my side like that? I am ashamed to speak thus, and to show Things rightly hidden; but in my heart I love you, And cannot bear but you should think me true. Let it excuse my foolishness. They talk Of penance! Let them talk when they have tried, And found it has not even unbarred heaven's gate, Let out one stray beam of its living light, Or humbled that proud I that knows not God! You are my friend:—if you should find this cell Empty some morning, do not be afraid That any ill has happened.
Robert.] Well, perhaps 'Twere better you should go. I cannot help you, But I can keep your secret. God be with you. [Goes.
Julian. Amen.—A good man; but he has not waked, And seen the Sphinx's stony eyes fixed on him. God veils it. He believes in Christ, he thinks; And so he does, as possible for him. How he will wonder when he looks for heaven! He thinks me an enthusiast, because I seek to know God, and to hear his voice Talk to my heart in silence; as of old The Hebrew king, when, still, upon his bed, He lay communing with his heart; and God With strength in his soul did strengthen him, until In his light he saw light. God speaks to men. My soul leans toward him; stretches forth its arms, And waits expectant. Speak to me, my God; And let me know the living Father cares For me, even me; for this one of his children.— Hast thou no word for me? I am thy thought. God, let thy mighty heart beat into mine, And let mine answer as a pulse to thine. See, I am low; yea, very low; but thou Art high, and thou canst lift me up to thee. I am a child, a fool before thee, God; But thou hast made my weakness as my strength. I am an emptiness for thee to fill; My soul, a cavern for thy sea. I lie Diffused, abandoning myself to thee.... —I will look up, if life should fail in looking. Ah me! A stream cut from my parent-spring! Ah me! A life lost from its father-life!
SCENE II.—The refectory. The monks at table. A buzz of conversation. ROBERT enters, wiping his forehead, as if he had just come in.
Stephen (speaking across the table). You see, my friend, it will not stand to logic; Or, if you like it better, stand to reason; For in this doctrine is involved a cause Which for its very being doth depend Upon its own effect. For, don't you see, He tells me to have faith and I shall live! Have faith for what? Why, plainly, that I shall Be saved from hell by him, and ta'en to heaven; What is salvation else? If I believe, Then he will save me! But, so, this his will Has no existence till that I believe; And there is nothing for my faith to rest on, No object for belief. How can I trust In that which is not? Send the salad, Cosmo. Besides, 'twould be a plenary indulgence; To all intents save one, most plenary— And that the Church's coffer. 'Tis absurd.
Monk. 'Tis most absurd, as you have clearly shown. And yet I fear some of us have been nibbling At this same heresy. 'Twere well that one Should find it poison. I have no pique at him— But there's that Julian!—
Stephen. Hush! speak lower, friend.
Two Monks farther down the table—in a low tone.
1st Monk. Where did you find her?
2nd Monk. She was taken ill At the Star-in-the-East. I chanced to pass that way, And so they called me in. I found her dying. But ere she would confess and make her peace, She begged to know if I had ever seen, About this neighbourhood, a tall dark man, Moody and silent, with a little stoop As if his eyes were heavy for his shoulders, And a strange look of mingled youth and age,—
1st Monk. Julian, by—
2nd Monk. 'St—no names! I had not seen him. I saw the death-mist gathering in her eyes, And urged her to proceed; and she began; But went not far before delirium came, With endless repetitions, hurryings forward, Recoverings like a hound at fault. The past Was running riot in her conquered brain; And there, with doors thrown wide, a motley group Held carnival; went freely out and in, Meeting and jostling. But withal it seemed As some confused tragedy went on; Till suddenly the light sank, and the pageant Was lost in darkness; the chambers of her brain Lay desolate and silent. I can gather So much, and little more:—This Julian Is one of some distinction; probably rich, And titled Count. He had a love-affair, In good-boy, layman fashion, seemingly.— Give me the woman; love is troublesome!— She loved him too, but falsehood came between, And used this woman for her minister; Who never would have peached, but for a witness Hidden behind some curtain in her heart— An unsuspected witness called Sir Conscience, Who has appeared and blabbed—but must conclude His story to some double-ghostly father, For she is ghostly penitent by this. Our consciences will play us no such tricks; They are the Church's, not our own. We must Keep this small matter secret. If it should Come to his ears, he'll soon bid us good-bye— A lady's love before ten heavenly crowns! And so the world will have the benefit Of the said wealth of his, if such there be. I have told you, old Godfrey; I tell none else Until our Abbot comes.
1st Monk. That is to-morrow.
Another group near the bottom of the table, in which is ROBERT.
1st Monk. 'Tis very clear there's something wrong with him. Have you not marked that look, half scorn, half pity, Which passes like a thought across his face, When he has listened, seeming scarce to listen, A while to our discourse?—he never joins.
2nd Monk. I know quite well. I stood beside him once, Some of the brethren near; Stephen was talking: He chanced to say the words, Our Holy Faith. "Their faith indeed, poor fools!" fell from his lips, Half-muttered, and half-whispered, as the words Had wandered forth unbidden. I am sure He is an atheist at the least.
3rd Monk (pale-faced and large-eyed). And I Fear he is something worse. I had a trance In which the devil tempted me: the shape Was Julian's to the very finger-nails. Non nobis, Domine! I overcame. I am sure of one thing—music tortures him: I saw him once, amid the Gloria Patri, When the whole chapel trembled in the sound, Rise slowly as in ecstasy of pain, And stretch his arms abroad, and clasp his hands, Then slowly, faintingly, sink on his knees.
2nd Monk. He does not know his rubric; stands when others Are kneeling round him. I have seen him twice With his missal upside down.
4th Monk (plethoric and husky). He blew his nose Quite loud on last Annunciation-day, And choked our Lady's name in the Abbot's throat.
Robert. When he returns, we must complain; and beg He'll take such measures as the case requires.
SCENE III.—Julian's cell. An open chest. The lantern on a stool, its candle nearly burnt out. JULIAN lying on his bed, looking at the light.
Julian. And so all growth that is not toward God Is growing to decay. All increase gained Is but an ugly, earthy, fungous growth. 'Tis aspiration as that wick aspires, Towering above the light it overcomes, But ever sinking with the dying flame. O let me live, if but a daisy's life! No toadstool life-in-death, no efflorescence! Wherefore wilt thou not hear me, Lord of me? Have I no claim on thee? True, I have none That springs from me, but much that springs from thee. Hast thou not made me? Liv'st thou not in me? I have done naught for thee, am but a want; But thou who art rich in giving, canst give claims; And this same need of thee which thou hast given, Is a strong claim on thee to give thyself, And makes me bold to rise and come to thee. Through all my sinning thou hast not recalled This witness of thy fatherhood, to plead For thee with me, and for thy child with thee.
Last night, as now, I seemed to speak with him; Or was it but my heart that spoke for him? "Thou mak'st me long," I said, "therefore wilt give; My longing is thy promise, O my God! If, having sinned, I thus have lost the claim, Why doth the longing yet remain with me, And make me bold thus to besiege thy doors?" Methought I heard for answer: "Question on. Hold fast thy need; it is the bond that holds Thy being yet to mine. I give it thee, A hungering and a fainting and a pain, Yet a God-blessing. Thou art not quite dead While this pain lives in thee. I bless thee with it. Better to live in pain than die that death."
So I will live, and nourish this my pain; For oft it giveth birth unto a hope That makes me strong in prayer. He knows it too. Softly I'll walk the earth; for it is his, Not mine to revel in. Content I wait. A still small voice I cannot but believe, Says on within: God will reveal himself.
I must go from this place. I cannot rest. It boots not staying. A desire like thirst Awakes within me, or a new child-heart, To be abroad on the mysterious earth, Out with the moon in all the blowing winds.
'Tis strange that dreams of her should come again. For many months I had not seen her form, Save phantom-like on dim hills of the past, Until I laid me down an hour ago; When twice through the dark chamber full of eyes, The memory passed, reclothed in verity: Once more I now behold it; the inward blaze Of the glad windows half quenched in the moon; The trees that, drooping, murmured to the wind, "Ah! wake me not," which left them to their sleep, All save the poplar: it was full of joy, So that it could not sleep, but trembled on. Sudden as Aphrodite from the sea, She issued radiant from the pearly night. It took me half with fear—the glimmer and gleam Of her white festal garments, haloed round With denser moonbeams. On she came—and there I am bewildered. Something I remember Of thoughts that choked the passages of sound, Hurrying forth without their pilot-words; Of agony, as when a spirit seeks In vain to hold communion with a man; A hand that would and would not stay in mine; A gleaming of white garments far away; And then I know not what. The moon was low, When from the earth I rose; my hair was wet, Dripping with dew—
Enter ROBERT cautiously.
Why, how now, Robert?
[Rising on his elbow.] Robert (glancing at the chest). I see; that's well. Are you nearly ready?
Julian. Why? What's the matter?
Robert. You must go this night, If you would go at all.
Julian. Why must I go? [Rises.] Robert (turning over the things in the chest). Here, put this coat on. Ah! take that thing too. No more such head-gear! Have you not a hat,
[Going to the chest again.]
Or something for your head? There's such a hubbub Got up about you! The Abbot comes to-morrow.
Julian. Ah, well! I need not ask. I know it all.
Robert. No, you do not. Nor is there time to tell you. Ten minutes more, they will be round to bar The outer doors; and then—good-bye, poor Julian!
[JULIAN has been rapidly changing his clothes.]
Julian. Now I am ready, Robert. Thank you, friend. Farewell! God bless you! We shall meet again.
Robert. Farewell, dear friend! Keep far away from this.
[JULIAN follows him out of the cell, steps along a narrow passage to a door, which he opens slowly. He goes out, and closes the door behind him.]
SCENE IV.—Night. The court of a country-inn. The Abbot, while his horse is brought out.
Abbot. Now for a shrine to house this rich Madonna, Within the holiest of the holy place! I'll have it made in fashion as a stable, With porphyry pillars to a marble stall; And odorous woods, shaved fine like shaken hay, Shall fill the silver manger for a bed, Whereon shall lie the ivory Infant carved By shepherd hands on plains of Bethlehem. And over him shall bend the Mother mild, In silken white and coroneted gems. Glorious! But wherewithal I see not now— The Mammon of unrighteousness is scant; Nor know I any nests of money-bees That could yield half-contentment to my need. Yet will I trust and hope; for never yet In journeying through this vale of tears have I Projected pomp that did not blaze anon.
SCENE V.—After midnight. JULIAN seated under a tree by the roadside.
Julian. So lies my journey—on into the dark! Without my will I find myself alive, And must go forward. Is it God that draws Magnetic all the souls unto their home, Travelling, they know not how, but unto God? It matters little what may come to me Of outward circumstance, as hunger, thirst, Social condition, yea, or love or hate; But what shall I be, fifty summers hence? My life, my being, all that meaneth me, Goes darkling forward into something—what? O God, thou knowest. It is not my care. If thou wert less than truth, or less than love, It were a fearful thing to be and grow We know not what. My God, take care of me; Pardon and swathe me in an infinite love, Pervading and inspiring me, thy child. And let thy own design in me work on, Unfolding the ideal man in me; Which being greater far than I have grown, I cannot comprehend. I am thine, not mine. One day, completed unto thine intent, I shall be able to discourse with thee; For thy Idea, gifted with a self, Must be of one with the mind where it sprang, And fit to talk with thee about thy thoughts. Lead me, O Father, holding by thy hand; I ask not whither, for it must be on.
This road will lead me to the hills, I think; And there I am in safety and at home.
SCENE VI.—The Abbot's room. The Abbot and one of the Monks.
Abbot. Did she say Julian? Did she say the name?
Monk. She did.
Abbot. What did she call the lady? What?
Monk. I could not hear.
Abbot. Nor where she lived? Monk. Nor that. She was too wild for leading where I would.
Abbot. So! Send Julian. One thing I need not ask: You have kept this matter secret?
Monk. Yes, my lord. Abbot. Well, go and send him hither.
[Monk goes.] Said I well, That prayer would burgeon into pomp for me? That God would hear his own elect who cried? Now for a shrine, so glowing in the means That it shall draw the eyes by power of light! So tender in conceit, that it shall draw The heart by very strength of delicateness, And move proud thought to worship! I must act With caution now; must win his confidence; Question him of the secret enemies That fight against his soul; and lead him thus To tell me, by degrees, his history. So shall I find the truth, and lay foundation For future acts, as circumstance requires. For if the tale be true that he is rich, And if——
Re-enter Monk in haste and terror.
Monk. He's gone, my lord! His cell is empty.
Abbot (starting up). What! You are crazy! Gone? His cell is empty?
Monk. 'Tis true as death, my lord. Witness, these eyes!
Abbot. Heaven and hell! It shall not be, I swear! There is a plot in this! You, sir, have lied! Some one is in his confidence!—who is it? Go rouse the convent.
He must be followed, found. Hunt's up, friend Julian! First your heels, old stag! But by and by your horns, and then your side! 'Tis venison much too good for the world's eating. I'll go and sift this business to the bran. Robert and him I have sometimes seen together!—God's curse! it shall fare ill with any man That has connived at this, if I detect him.
SCENE VII.—Afternoon. The mountains. JULIAN.
Julian. Once more I tread thy courts, O God of heaven! I lay my hand upon a rock, whose peak Is miles away, and high amid the clouds. Perchance I touch the mountain whose blue summit, With the fantastic rock upon its side, Stops the eye's flight from that high chamber-window Where, when a boy, I used to sit and gaze With wondering awe upon the mighty thing, Terribly calm, alone, self-satisfied, The hitherto of my child-thoughts. Beyond, A sea might roar around its base. Beyond, Might be the depths of the unfathomed space, This the earth's bulwark over the abyss. Upon its very point I have watched a star For a few moments crown it with a fire, As of an incense-offering that blazed Upon this mighty altar high uplift, And then float up the pathless waste of heaven. From the next window I could look abroad Over a plain unrolled, which God had painted With trees, and meadow-grass, and a large river, Where boats went to and fro like water-flies, In white and green; but still I turned to look At that one mount, aspiring o'er its fellows: All here I saw—I knew not what was there. O love of knowledge and of mystery, Striving together in the heart of man! "Tell me, and let me know; explain the thing."— Then when the courier-thoughts have circled round: "Alas! I know it all; its charm is gone!" But I must hasten; else the sun will set Before I reach the smoother valley-road. I wonder if my old nurse lives; or has Eyes left to know me with. Surely, I think, Four years of wandering since I left my home, In sunshine and in snow, in ship and cell, Must have worn changes in this face of mine Sufficient to conceal me, if I will.
SCENE VIII.—A dungeon in the monastery. A ray of the moon on the floor. ROBERT.
Robert. One comfort is, he's far away by this. Perhaps this comfort is my deepest sin. Where shall I find a daysman in this strife Between my heart and holy Church's words? Is not the law of kindness from God's finger, Yea, from his heart, on mine? But then we must Deny ourselves; and impulses must yield, Be subject to the written law of words; Impulses made, made strong, that we might have Within the temple's court live things to bring And slay upon his altar; that we may, By this hard penance of the heart and soul, Become the slaves of Christ.—I have done wrong; I ought not to have let poor Julian go. And yet that light upon the floor says, yes— Christ would have let him go. It seemed a good, Yes, self-denying deed, to risk my life That he might be in peace. Still up and down The balance goes, a good in either scale; Two angels giving each to each the lie, And none to part them or decide the question. But still the words come down the heaviest Upon my conscience as that scale descends; But that may be because they hurt me more, Being rough strangers in the feelings' home. Would God forbid us to do what is right, Even for his sake? But then Julian's life Belonged to God, to do with as he pleases! I am bewildered. 'Tis as God and God Commanded different things in different tones. Ah! then, the tones are different: which is likest God's voice? The one is gentle, loving, kind, Like Mary singing to her mangered child; The other like a self-restrained tempest; Like—ah, alas!—the trumpet on Mount Sinai, Louder and louder, and the voice of words. O for some light! Would they would kill me! then I would go up, close up, to God's own throne, And ask, and beg, and pray to know the truth; And he would slay this ghastly contradiction. I should not fear, for he would comfort me, Because I am perplexed, and long to know. But this perplexity may be my sin, And come of pride that will not yield to him! O for one word from God! his own, and fresh From him to me! Alas, what shall I do!
Hark, hark, a voice amid the quiet intense! It is thy Duty waiting thee without. Rise from thy knees in hope, the half of doubt; A hand doth pull thee—it is Providence; Open thy door straightway, and get thee hence; Go forth into the tumult and the shout; Work, love, with workers, lovers, all about: Of noise alone is born the inward sense Of silence; and from action springs alone The inward knowledge of true love and faith. Then, weary, go thou back with failing breath, And in thy chamber make thy prayer and moan: One day upon His bosom, all thine own, Thou shall lie still, embraced in holy death.
SCENE I.—A room in Julian's castle. JULIAN and the old Nurse.
Julian. Nembroni? Count Nembroni?—I remember: A man about my height, but stronger built? I have seen him at her father's. There was something I did not like about him:—ah! I know: He had a way of darting looks at you, As if he wished to know you, but by stealth.
Nurse. The same, my lord. He is the creditor. The common story is, he sought the daughter, But sought in vain: the lady would not wed. 'Twas rumoured soon they were in grievous trouble, Which caused much wonder, for the family Was always reckoned wealthy. Count Nembroni Contrived to be the only creditor, And so imprisoned him.
Julian. Where is the lady? Nurse. Down in the town. Julian. But where? Nurse. If you turn left, When you go through the gate, 'tis the last house Upon this side the way. An honest couple, Who once were almost pensioners of hers, Have given her shelter: still she hopes a home With distant friends. Alas, poor lady! 'tis A wretched change for her.
Julian. Hm! ah! I see. What kind of man is this Nembroni, nurse?
Nurse. Here he is little known. His title comes From an estate, they say, beyond the hills. He looks ungracious: I have seen the children Run to the doors when he came up the street.
Julian. Thank you, nurse; you may go. Stay—one thing more: Have any of my people seen me?
Nurse. None But me, my lord.
Julian. And can you keep it secret?— know you will for my sake. I will trust you. Bring me some supper; I am tired and faint. [Nurse goes.] Poor and alone! Such a man has not laid His plans for nothing further! I will watch him. Heaven may have brought me hither for her sake. Poor child! I would protect thee as thy father, Who cannot help thee. Thou wast not to blame; My love had no claim on like love from thee.—How the old tide comes rushing to my heart!
I know not what I can do yet but watch. I have no hold on him. I cannot go, Say, I suspect; and, Is it so or not? I should but injure them by doing so. True, I might pay her father's debts; and will, If Joseph, my old friend, has managed well During my absence. I have not spent much. But still she'd be in danger from this man, If not permitted to betray himself; And I, discovered, could no more protect. Or if, unseen by her, I yet could haunt Her footsteps like an angel, not for long Should I remain unseen of other eyes, That peer from under cowls—not angel-eyes— Hunting me out, over the stormy earth. No; I must watch. I can do nothing better.
SCENE II.—A poor cottage. An old Man and Woman sitting together.
Man. How's the poor lady now?
Woman. She's poorly still. I fancy every day she's growing thinner. I am sure she's wasting steadily.
Man. Has the count Been here again to-day?
Woman. No. And I think He will not come again. She was so proud The last time he was here, you would have thought She was a queen at least.
Man. Remember, wife, What she has been. Trouble like that throws down The common folk like us all of a heap: With folks like her, that are high bred and blood, It sets the mettle up.
Woman. All very right; But take her as she was, she might do worse Than wed the Count Nembroni.
Man. Possible. But are you sure there is no other man Stands in his way?
Woman. How can I tell? So be, He should be here to help her. What she'll do I am sure I do not know. We cannot keep her. And for her work, she does it far too well To earn a living by it. Her times are changed— She should not give herself such prideful airs.
Man. Come, come, old wife! you women are so hard On one another! You speak fair for men, And make allowances; but when a woman Crosses your way, you speak the worst of her. But where is this you're going then to-night? Do they want me to go as well as you?
Woman. Yes, you must go, or else it is no use. They cannot give the money to me, except My husband go with me. He told me so.
Man. Well, wife, it's worth the going—but to see: I don't expect a groat to come of it.
SCENE III.—Kitchen of a small inn. Host and Hostess.
Host. That's a queer customer you've got upstairs! What the deuce is he?
Hostess. What is that to us? He always pays his way, and handsomely. I wish there were more like him.
Host. Has he been At home all day?
Hostess. He has not stirred a foot Across the threshold. That's his only fault— He's always in the way.
Host. What does he do?
Hostess. Paces about the room, or sits at the window. I sometimes make an errand to the cupboard, To see what he's about: he looks annoyed, But does not speak a word. Host. He must be crazed, Or else in hiding for some scrape or other.
Hostess. He has a wild look in his eye sometimes; But sure he would not sit so much in the dark, If he were mad, or anything on his conscience; And though he does not say much, when he speaks A civiller man ne'er came in woman's way.
Host. Oh! he's all right, I warrant. Is the wine come?
SCENE IV.—The inn; a room upstairs. JULIAN at the window, half hidden by the curtain.
Julian. With what profusion her white fingers spend Delicate motions on the insensate cloth! It was so late this morning ere she came! I fear she has been ill. She looks so pale! Her beauty is much less, but she more lovely. Do I not love he? more than when that beauty Beamed out like starlight, radiating beyond The confines of her wondrous face and form, And animated with a present power Her garment's folds, even to the very hem!
Ha! there is something now: the old woman drest In her Sunday clothes, and waiting at the door, As for her husband. Something will follow this. And here he comes, all in his best like her. They will be gone a while. Slowly they walk, With short steps down the street. Now I must wake The sleeping hunter-eagle in my eyes!
SCENE V.—A back street. Two Servants with a carriage and pair.
1st Serv. Heavens, what a cloud! as big as Aetna! There! That gust blew stormy. Take Juno by the head, I'll stand by Neptune. Take her head, I say; We'll have enough to do, if it should lighten.
2nd Serv. Such drops! That's the first of it. I declare She spreads her nostrils and looks wild already, As if she smelt it coming. I wish we were Under some roof or other. I fear this business Is not of the right sort.
1st Serv. He looked as black As if he too had lightning in his bosom. There! Down, you brute! Mind the pole, Beppo!
SCENE VI.—Julian's room. JULIAN standing at the window, his face pressed against a pane. Storm and gathering darkness without.
Julian. Plague on the lamp! 'tis gone—no, there it flares! I wish the wind would leave or blow it out. Heavens! how it thunders! This terrific storm Will either cow or harden him. I'm blind! That lightning! Oh, let me see again, lest he Should enter in the dark! I cannot bear This glimmering longer. Now that gush of rain Has blotted all my view with crossing lights. 'Tis no use waiting here. I must cross over, And take my stand in the corner by the door. But if he comes while I go down the stairs, And I not see? To make sure, I'll go gently Up the stair to the landing by her door.
[He goes quickly toward the door.]
Hostess (opening the door and looking in). If you please, sir—
[He hurries past]
The devil's in the man!
SCENE VII.—The landing.
Voice within. If you scream, I must muffle you.
Julian (rushing up the stair). He is there! His hand is on her mouth! She tries to scream!
[Flinging the door open, as NEMBRONI springs forward on the other side.]
Nembroni. What the devil!—Beggar!
[Drawing his sword, and making a thrust at JULIAN, which he parries with his left arm, as, drawing his dagger, he springs within NEMBRONI'S guard.]
Julian (taking him by the throat). I have faced worse storms than you.
Heart point and hilt strung on the line of force,
[He stabs him.]
Your ribs will not mail your heart!
[NEMBRONI falls dead. JULIAN wipes his dagger on the dead man's coat.]
If men will be devils, They are better in hell than here.
[Lightning flashes on the blade.]
What a night For a soul to go out of doors! God in heaven!
[Approaches the lady within.]
Ah! she has fainted. That is well. I hope It will not pass too soon. It is not far To the half-hidden door in my own fence, And that is well. If I step carefully, Such rain will soon wash out the tell-tale footprints. What! blood? He does not bleed much, I should think! Oh, I see! it is mine—he has wounded me. That's awkward now.
[Takes a handkerchief from the floor by the window.]
Pardon me, dear lady;
[Ties the handkerchief with hand and teeth round his arm.]
'Tis not to save my blood I would defile Even your handkerchief.
[Coming towards the door, carrying her.]
I am pleased to think Ten monkish months have not ta'en all my strength.
[Looking out of the window on the landing.]
For once, thank darkness! 'Twas sent for us, not him.
[He goes down the stair]
SCENE VIII.—A room in the castle. JULIAN and the Nurse.
Julian. Ask me no questions now, my dear old nurse. You have put your charge to bed?
Nurse. Yes, my dear lord.
Julian. And has she spoken yet?
Nurse. After you left, Her eyelids half unclosed; she murmured once: Where am I, mother?—then she looked at me, And her eyes wandered over all my face, Till half in comfort, half in weariness, They closed again. Bless her, dear soul! she is As feeble as a child.
Julian. Under your care She'll soon be well again. Let no one know She is in the house:—blood has been shed for her.
Nurse. Alas! I feared it; blood is on her dress.
Julian. That's mine, not his. But put it in the fire. Get her another. I'll leave a purse with you.
Julian. Yes. I am off to-night, wandering again Over the earth and sea. She must not know I have been here. You must contrive to keep My share a secret. Once she moved and spoke When a branch caught me, but she could not see me. She thought, no doubt, it was Nembroni had her; Nor would she have known me. You must hide her, nurse. Let her on no pretense guess where she is, Nor utter word that might suggest the fact. When she is well and wishes to be gone, Then write to this address—but under cover
To the Prince Calboli at Florence. I Will see to all the rest. But let her know Her father is set free; assuredly, Ere you can say it is, it will be so.
Nurse. How shall I best conceal her, my good lord?
Julian. I have thought of that. There's a deserted room In the old west wing, at the further end Of the oak gallery.
Nurse. Not deserted quite. I ventured, when you left, to make it mine, Because you loved it when a boy, my lord.
Julian. You do not know, nurse, why I loved it though: I found a sliding panel, and a door Into a room behind. I'll show it you. You'll find some musty traces of me yet, When you go in. Now take her to your room, But get the other ready. Light a fire, And keep it burning well for several days. Then, one by one, out of the other rooms, Take everything to make it comfortable; Quietly, you know. If you must have your daughter, Bind her to be as secret as yourself. Then put her there. I'll let her father know She is in safety.—I must change attire, And be far off or ever morning break.
My treasure-room! how little then I thought, Glad in my secret, one day it would hold A treasure unto which I dared not come. Perhaps she'd love me now—a very little!— But not with even a heavenly gift would I Go begging love; that should be free as light, Cleaving unto myself even for myself. I have enough to brood on, joy to turn Over and over in my secret heart:— She lives, and is the better that I live!
Nurse. My lord, her mind is wandering; she is raving; She's in a dreadful fever. We must send To Arli for the doctor, else her life Will be in danger.
Julian (rising disturbed). Go and fetch your daughter. Between you, take her to my room, yours now. I'll see her there. I think you can together!
Nurse. O yes, my lord; she is so thin, poor child!
Julian. I ought to know the way to treat a fever, If it be one of twenty. Hers has come Of low food, wasting, and anxiety. I've seen enough of that in Prague and Smyrna!
SCENE IX.—The Abbot's room in the monastery. The Abbot.
Abbot. 'Tis useless all. No trace of him found yet. One hope remains: that fellow has a head!
Stephen, I have sent for you, because I am told You said to-day, if I commissioned you, You'd scent him out, if skulking in his grave.
Stephen. I did, my lord.
Abbot. How would you do it, Stephen?
Stephen. Try one plan till it failed; then try another; Try half-a-dozen plans at once; keep eyes And ears wide open, and mouth shut, my lord: Your bull-dog sometimes makes the best retriever. I have no plan; but, give me time and money, I'll find him out.
Abbot. Stephen, you're just the man I have been longing for. Get yourself ready.
SCENE X.—Towards morning. The Nurse's room. LILIA in bed. JULIAN watching.
Julian. I think she sleeps. Would God it be so; then She will do well. What strange things she has spoken! My heart is beating as if it would spend Its life in this one night, and beat it out. And well it may, for there is more of life In one such moment than in many years! Pure life is measured by intensity, Not by the how much of the crawling clock. Is that a bar of moonlight stretched across The window-blind? or is it but a band Of whiter cloth my thrifty dame has sewed Upon the other?—'Tis the moon herself, Low in the west. 'Twas such a moon as this—
Lilia (half-asleep, wildly). If Julian had been here, you dared not do it!— Julian! Julian!
Julian (forgetting his caution, and going up to her). I am here, my Lilia. Put your head down, my love. 'Twas all a dream, A terrible dream. Gone now—is it not?
[She looks at him with wide restless eyes; then sinks back on the pillow. He leaves her.]
How her dear eyes bewildered looked at me! But her soul's eyes are closed. If this last long She'll die before my sight, and Joy will lead In by the hand her sister, Grief, pale-faced, And leave her to console my solitude. Ah, what a joy! I dare not think of it! And what a grief! I will not think of that! Love? and from her? my beautiful, my own! O God, I did not know thou wast so rich In making and in giving; did not know The gathered glory of this earth of thine. What! wilt thou crush me with an infinite joy? Make me a god by giving? Wilt thou take Thy centre-thought of living beauty, born In thee, and send it home to dwell with me?
[He leans on the wall.]
Lilia (softly). Am I in heaven? There's something makes me glad, As if I were in heaven! Yes, yes, I am. I see the flashing of ten thousand glories; I hear the trembling of a thousand wings, That vibrate music on the murmuring air! Each tiny feather-blade crushes its pool Of circling air to sound, and quivers music!— What is it, though, that makes me glad like this? I knew, but cannot find it—I forget. It must be here—what was it?—Hark! the fall, The endless going of the stream of life!— Ah me! I thirst, I thirst,—I am so thirsty!
[JULIAN gives her drink, supporting her. She looks at him again, with large wondering eyes.]
Ah! now I know—I was so very thirsty!
[He lays her down. She is comforted, and falls asleep. He extinguishes the light, and looks out of the window.]
Julian. The gray earth dawning up, cold, comfortless; With its obtrusive I am written large Upon its face!
[Approaches the bed, and gazes on LILIA silently with clasped hands; then returns to the window.]
She sleeps so peacefully! O God, I thank thee: thou hast sent her sleep. Lord, let it sink into her heart and brain.
Oh, nurse, I'm glad you're come! She is asleep. You must be near her when she wakes again. I think she'll be herself. But do be careful— Right cautious how you tell her I am here. Sweet woman-child, may God be in your sleep!
Nurse. Bless her white face, she looks just like my daughter, That's now a saint in heaven! Just those thin cheeks, And eyelids hardly closed over her eyes!— Dream on, poor darling! you are drinking life From the breast of sleep. And yet I fain would see Your shutters open, for I then should know Whether the soul had drawn her curtains back, To peep at morning from her own bright windows. Ah! what a joy is ready, waiting her, To break her fast upon, if her wild dreams Have but betrayed her secrets honestly! Will he not give thee love as dear as thine!
SCENE XI.—A hilly road. STEPHEN, trudging alone, pauses to look around him.
Stephen. Not a footprint! not a trace that a blood-hound would nose at! But Stephen shall be acknowledged good dog and true. If I had him within stick-length—mind thy head, brother Julian! Thou hast not hair enough to protect it, and thy tonsure shall not. Neither shalt thou tarry at Jericho.—It is a poor man that leaves no trail; and if thou wert poor, I would not follow thee.
Oh, many a hound is stretching out His two legs or his four, And the saddled horses stand about The court and the castle door, Till out come the baron, jolly and stout, To hunt the bristly boar!
The emperor, he doth keep a pack In his antechambers standing, And up and down the stairs, good lack! And eke upon the landing: A straining leash, and a quivering back, And nostrils and chest expanding!
The devil a hunter long hath been, Though Doctor Luther said it: Of his canon-pack he was the dean, And merrily he led it: The old one kept them swift and lean On faith—that's devil's credit!
Each man is a hunter to his trade, And they follow one another; But such a hunter never was made As the monk that hunted his brother! And the runaway pig, ere its game be played, Shall be eaten by its mother!
Better hunt a flea in a woolly blanket, than a leg-bail monk in this wilderness of mountains, forests, and precipices! But the flea may be caught, and so shall the monk. I have said it. He is well spotted, with his silver crown and his uncropped ears. The rascally heretic! But his vows shall keep him, though he won't keep his vows. The whining, blubbering idiot! Gave his plaything, and wants it back!—I wonder whereabouts I am.
SCENE XII.—The Nurse's room. LILIA sitting up in bed. JULIAN seated by her; an open note in his hand.
Lilia. Tear it up, Julian.
Julian. No; I'll treasure it As the remembrance of a by-gone grief: I love it well, because it is not yours.
Lilia. Where have you been these long, long years away? You look much older. You have suffered, Julian!
Julian. Since that day, Lilia, I have seen much, thought much, Suffered a little. When you are quite yourself, I'll tell you all you want to know about me.
Lilia. Do tell me something now. I feel quite strong; It will not hurt me.
Julian. Wait a day or two. Indeed 'twould weary you to tell you all.
Lilia. And I have much to tell you, Julian. I Have suffered too—not all for my own sake.
Oh, what a dream I had! Oh, Julian!— I don't know when it was. It must have been Before you brought me here! I am sure it was.
Julian. Don't speak about it. Tell me afterwards. You must keep quiet now. Indeed you must.
Lilia. I will obey you, will not speak a word.
Nurse. Blessings upon her! she's near well already. Who would have thought, three days ago, to see You look so bright! My lord, you have done wonders.
Julian. My art has helped a little, I thank God.— To please me, Lilia, go to sleep a while.
Lilia. Why does he always wear that curious cap?
Nurse. I don't know. You must sleep.
Lilia. Yes. I forgot.
SCENE XIII.—The Steward's room. JULIAN and the Steward. Papers on the table, which JULIAN has just finished examining.
Julian. Thank you much, Joseph; you have done well for me. You sent that note privately to my friend?
Steward. I did, my lord; and have conveyed the money, Putting all things in train for his release, Without appearing in it personally, Or giving any clue to other hands. He sent this message by my messenger: His hearty thanks, and God will bless you for it. He will be secret. For his daughter, she Is safe with you as with himself; and so God bless you both! He will expect to hear From both of you from England.
Julian. Well, again. What money is remaining in your hands?
Steward. Two bags, three hundred each; that's all. I fear To wake suspicion, if I call in more.
Julian. One thing, and I have done: lest a mischance Befall us, though I do not fear it much— have been very secret—is that boat I had before I left, in sailing trim?
Steward. I knew it was a favorite with my lord; I've taken care of it. A month ago, With my own hands I painted it all fresh, Fitting new oars and rowlocks. The old sail I'll have replaced immediately; and then 'Twill be as good as new.
Julian. That's excellent. Well, launch it in the evening. Make it fast To the stone steps behind my garden study. Stow in the lockers some sea-stores, and put The money in the old desk in the study.
Steward. I will, my lord. It will be safe enough.
SCENE XIV.—A road near the town. A Waggoner. STEPHEN, in lay dress, coming up to him.
Stephen. Whose castle's that upon the hill, good fellow?
Waggoner. Its present owner's of the Uglii; They call him Lorenzino.
Stephen. Whose is that Down in the valley?
Waggoner. That is Count Lamballa's.
Stephen. What is his Christian name?
Waggoner. Omfredo. No, That was his father's; his is Julian.
Stephen. Is he at home?
Waggoner. No, not for many a day. His steward, honest man, I know is doubtful Whether he be alive; and yet his land Is better farmed than any in the country.
Stephen. He is not married, then?
Waggoner. No. There's a gossip Amongst the women—but who would heed their talk!— That love half-crazed, then drove him out of doors, To wander here and there, like a bad ghost, Because a silly wench refused him:—fudge!
Stephen. Most probably. I quite agree with you. Where do you stop?
Waggoner. At the first inn we come to; You'll see it from the bottom of the hill. There is a better at the other end, But here the stabling is by far the best.
Stephen. I must push on. Four legs can never go Down-hill so fast as two. Good morning, friend.
Waggoner. Good morning, sir.
Stephen (aside) I take the further house.
SCENE XV.—The Nurse's room. JULIAN and LILIA standing near the window.
Julian. But do you really love me, Lilia?
Lilia. Why do you make me say it so often, Julian? You make me say I love you, oftener far Than you say you love me.
Julian. To love you seems So much a thing of mere necessity! I can refrain from loving you no more Than keep from waking when the sun shines full Upon my face.
Lilia. And yet I love to say How, how I love you, Julian!
[Leans her head on his arm. JULIAN winces a little. She raises her head and looks at him.]
Did I hurt you? Would you not have me lean my head on you?
Julian. Come on this side, my love; 'tis a slight hurt Not yet quite healed.
Lilia. Ah, my poor Julian! How— I am so sorry!—Oh, I do remember! I saw it all quite plain! It was no dream! I saw you fighting!—Surely you did not kill him?
Julian (calmly, but drawing himself up). I killed him as I would a dog that bit you.
Lilia (turning pale, and covering her face with her hands.) Oh, that was dreadful! there is blood on you!
Julian. Shall I go, Lilia?
Lilia. Oh no, no, no, do not.— I shall be better presently.
Julian. You shrink As from a murderer!
Lilia. Oh no, I love you— Will never leave you. Pardon me, my Julian; But blood is terrible.
Julian (drawing her close to him). My own sweet Lilia, 'Twas justly shed, for your defense and mine, As it had been a tiger that I killed. He had no right to live. Be at peace, darling; His blood lies not on me, but on himself; I do not feel its stain upon my conscience.
[A tap at the door.]
Nurse. My lord, the steward waits on you below.
You have been standing till you're faint, my lady! Lie down a little. There!—I'll fetch you something.
SCENE XVI.—The Steward's room. JULIAN. The Steward.
Julian. Well, Joseph, that will do. I shall expect To hear from you soon after my arrival. Is the boat ready?
Steward. Yes, my lord; afloat Where you directed.
Julian. A strange feeling haunts me, As of some danger near. Unlock it, and cast The chain around the post. Muffle the oars.
Steward. I will, directly.
Julian. How shall I manage it? I have her father's leave, but have not dared To tell her all; and she must know it first! She fears me half, even now: what will she think To see my shaven head? My heart is free— I know that God absolves mistaken vows. I looked for help in the high search from those Who knew the secret place of the Most High. If I had known, would I have bound myself Brother to men from whose low, marshy minds Never a lark springs to salute the day? The loftiest of them dreamers, and the best Content with goodness growing like moss on stones! It cannot be God's will I should be such. But there was more: they virtually condemned Me in my quest; would have had me content To kneel with them around a wayside post, Nor heed the pointing finger at its top? It was the dull abode of foolishness: Not such the house where God would train his children! My very birth into a world of men Shows me the school where he would have me learn; Shows me the place of penance; shows the field Where I must fight and die victorious, Or yield and perish. True, I know not how This will fall out: he must direct my way! But then for her—she cannot see all this; Words will not make it plain; and if they would, The time is shorter than the words would need: This overshadowing bodes nearing ill.— It may be only vapour, of the heat Of too much joy engendered; sudden fear That the fair gladness is too good to live: The wider prospect from the steep hill's crest, The deeper to the vale the cliff goes down; But how will she receive it? Will she think I have been mocking her? How could I help it? Her illness and my danger! But, indeed, So strong was I in truth, I never thought Her doubts might prove a hindrance in the way. My love did make her so a part of me, I never dreamed she might judge otherwise, Until our talk of yesterday. And now Her horror at Nembroni's death confirms me: To wed a monk will seem to her the worst Of crimes which in a fever one might dream. I cannot take the truth, and, bodily, Hold it before her eyes. She is not strong. She loves me—not as I love her. But always —There's Robert for an instance—I have loved A life for what it might become, far more Than for its present: there's a germ in her Of something noble, much beyond her now: Chance gleams betray it, though she knows it not.
This evening must decide it, come what will.
SCENE XVII.—The inn; the room which had been JULIAN'S. STEPHEN, Host, and Hostess. Wine on the table.
Stephen. Here, my good lady, let me fill your glass; Then send the bottle on, please, to your husband.
Hostess. I thank you, sir; I hope you like the wine; My husband's choice is praised. I cannot say I am a judge myself.
Host. I'm confident It needs but to be tasted.
Stephen (tasting critically, then nodding). That is wine! Let me congratulate you, my good sir, Upon your exquisite judgment!
Host. Thank you, sir.
Stephen (to the Hostess). And so this man, you say, was here until The night the count was murdered: did he leave Before or after that?
Hostess. I cannot tell; He left, I know, before it was discovered. In the middle of the storm, like one possessed, He rushed into the street, half tumbling me Headlong down stairs, and never came again. He had paid his bill that morning, luckily; So joy go with him! Well, he was an odd one!
Stephen. What was he like, fair Hostess?
Hostess. Tall and dark, And with a lowering look about his brows. He seldom spoke, but, when he did, was civil. One queer thing was, he always wore his hat, Indoors as well as out. I dare not say He murdered Count Nembroni; but it was strange He always sat at that same window there, And looked into the street. 'Tis not as if There were much traffic in the village now; These are changed times; but I have seen the day—
Stephen. Excuse me; you were saying that the man Sat at the window—
Hostess. Yes; even after dark He would sit on, and never call for lights. The first night, I brought candles, as of course; He let me set them on the table, true; But soon's my back was turned, he put them out.
Stephen. Where is the lady?
Hostess. That's the strangest thing Of all the story: she has disappeared, As well as he. There lay the count, stone-dead, White as my apron. The whole house was empty, Just as I told you.
Stephen. Has no search been made? Host. The closest search; a thousand pieces offered For any information that should lead To the murderer's capture. I believe his brother, Who is his heir, they say, is still in town, Seeking in vain for some intelligence.
Stephen. 'Tis very odd; the oddest thing I've heard For a long time. Send me a pen and ink; I have to write some letters.
Hostess (rising). Thank you, sir, For your kind entertainment.
[Exeunt Host and Hostess.]
Stephen. We've found the badger's hole; we'll draw him next. He couldn't have gone far with her and not be seen. My life on it, there are plenty of holes and corners in the old house over the way. Run off with a wench! Holy brother Julian! Contemptuous brother Julian! Stand-by-thyself brother Julian! Run away with a wench at last! Well, there's a downfall! He'll be for marrying her on the sly, and away!—I know the old fox!—for her conscience-sake, probably not for his! Well, one comfort is, it's damnation and no reprieve. The ungrateful, atheistical heretic! As if the good old mother wasn't indulgent enough to the foibles of her children! The worthy lady has winked so hard at her dutiful sons, that she's nearly blind with winking. There's nothing in a little affair with a girl now and then; but to marry, and knock one's vows on the head! Therein is displayed a little ancestral fact as to a certain respectable progenitor, commonly portrayed as the knight of the cloven foot. Keep back thy servant, &c.—Purgatory couldn't cleanse that; and more, 'twill never have the chance. Heaven be about us from harm! Amen. I'll go find the new count. The Church shall have the castle and estate; Revenge, in the person of the new count, the body of Julian; and Stephen may as well have the thousand pieces as not.
SCENE XVIII.—Night. The Nurse's room. LILIA; to her JULIAN.
Lilia. How changed he is! Yet he looks very noble.
Julian. My Lilia, will you go to England with me?
Lilia. Julian, my father!
Julian. Not without his leave. He says, God bless us both.
Lilia. Leave him in prison?
Julian. No, Lilia; he's at liberty and safe, And far from this ere now.
Lilia. You have done this, My noble Julian! I will go with you To sunset, if you will. My father gone! Julian, there's none to love me now but you. You will love me, Julian?—always?
Julian. I but fear That your heart, Lilia, is not big enough To hold the love wherewith my heart would fill it.
Lilia. I know why you think that; and I deserve it. But try me, Julian. I was very silly. I could not help it. I was ill, you know; Or weak at least. May I ask you, Julian, How your arm is to-day?
Julian. Almost well, child. Twill leave an ugly scar, though, I'm afraid.
Lilia. Never mind that, if it be well again.
Julian. I do not mind it; but when I remember That I am all yours, then I grudge that scratch Or stain should be upon me—soul, body, yours. And there are more scars on me now than I Should like to make you own, without confession.
Lilia. My poor, poor Julian! never think of it;
[Putting her arms round him.]
I will but love you more. I thought you had Already told me suffering enough; But not the half, it seems, of your adventures. You have been a soldier!
Julian. I have fought, my Lilia. I have been down among the horses' feet; But strange to tell, and harder to believe, Arose all sound, unmarked with bruise, or blood Save what I lifted from the gory ground.
My wounds are not of such.
[LILIA, loosening her arms, and drawing back a little with a kind of shrinking, looks a frightened interrogation.]
No. Penance, Lilia; Such penance as the saints of old inflicted Upon their quivering flesh. Folly, I know; As a lord would exalt himself, by making His willing servants into trembling slaves! Yet I have borne it.
Lilia (laying her hand on his arm). Ah, alas, my Julian, You have been guilty!
Julian. Not what men call guilty, Save it be now; now you will think I sin. Alas, I have sinned! but not in this I sin.— Lilia, I have been a monk.
Lilia. A monk?
Julian,—I thought you said.... did you not say ... ?
[Very pale, brokenly.]
I thought you said ...
[With an effort.]
I was to be your wife!
[Covering her face with her hands, and bursting into tears.]
Julian (speaking low and in pain). And so I did.
Lilia (hopefully, and looking up). Then you've had dispensation?
Julian. God has absolved me, though the Church will not. He knows it was in ignorance I did it. Rather would he have men to do his will, Than keep a weight of words upon their souls, Which they laid there, not graven by his finger. The vow was made to him—to him I break it.
Lilia (weeping bitterly). I would ... your words were true ... but I do know ... It never can ... be right to break a vow; If so, men might be liars every day; You'd do the same by me, if we were married.
Julian (in anguish). 'Tis ever so. Words are the living things! There is no spirit—save what's born of words! Words are the bonds that of two souls make one! Words the security of heart to heart! God, make me patient! God, I pray thee, God!
Lilia (not heeding him). Besides, we dare not; you would find the dungeon Gave late repentance; I should weep away My life within a convent.
Julian. Come to England, To England, Lilia.
Lilia. Men would point, and say: There go the monk and his wife; if they, in truth, Called me not by a harder name than that.
Julian. There are no monks in England.
Lilia. But will that Make right what's wrong?
Julian. Did I say so, my Lilia? I answered but your last objections thus; I had a different answer for the first.
Lilia. No, no; I cannot, cannot, dare not do it.
Julian. Lilia, you will not doubt my love; you cannot. —I would have told you all before, but thought, Foolishly, you would feel the same as I;— I have lived longer, thought more, seen much more; I would not hurt your body, less your soul, For all the blessedness your love can give: For love's sake weigh the weight of what I say. Think not that must be right which you have heard From infancy—it may——
[Enter the Steward in haste, pale, breathless, and bleeding.]
Steward. My lord, there's such an uproar in the town! They call you murderer and heretic. The officers of justice, with a monk, And the new Count Nembroni, accompanied By a fierce mob with torches, howling out For justice on you, madly cursing you! They caught a glimpse of me as I returned, And stones and sticks flew round me like a storm; But I escaped them, old man as I am, And was in time to bar the castle-gates.— Would heaven we had not cast those mounds, and shut The river from the moat!
[Distant yells and cries.]
Escape, my lord!
Julian (calmly). Will the gates hold them out awhile, my Joseph?
Steward. A little while, my lord; but those damned torches! Oh, for twelve feet of water round the walls!
Julian. Leave us, good Joseph; watch them from a window, And tell us of their progress.
[JOSEPH goes. Sounds approach.]
[Putting his arm round her. She stands like stone.]
Fear of a coward's name shall not detain me. My presence would but bring down evil on you, My heart's beloved; yes, all the ill you fear, The terrible things that you have imaged out If you fled with me. They will not hurt you, If you be not polluted by my presence.
[Light from without flares on the wall.]
They've fired the gate.
[An outburst of mingled cries.]
Steward (entering). They've fired the gate, my lord!
Julian. Well, put yourself in safety, my dear Joseph. You and old Agata tell all the truth, And they'll forgive you. It will not hurt me; I shall be safe—you know me—never fear.
Steward. God grant it may be so. Farewell, dear lord!
Julian. But add, it was in vain; the signorina Would not consent; therefore I fled alone.
[LILIA stands as before.]
Steward. Can it be so? Good-bye, good-bye, my master!
Julian. Put your arms round me once, my Lilia. Not once?—not once at parting?
[Rushing feet up the stairs, and along the galleries.]
O God! farewell!
[He clasps her to his heart; leaves her; pushes back the panel, flings open a door, enters, and closes both behind him. LILIA starts suddenly from her fixed bewilderment, and flies after him, but forgets to close the panel.]
Lilia. Julian! Julian!
[The trampling offset and clamour of voices. The door of the room is flung open. Enter the foremost of the mob.]
1st. I was sure I saw light here! There it is, burning still!
2nd. Nobody here? Praise the devil! he minds his own. Look under the bed, Gian.
3rd. Nothing there.
4th. Another door! another door! He's in a trap now, and will soon be in hell! (Opening the door with difficulty.) The devil had better leave him, and make up the fire at home—he'll be cold by and by. (Rushes into the inner room.) Follow me, boys! [The rest follow.]
Voices from within. I have him! I have him! Curse your claws! Why do you fix them on me, you crab? You won't pick up the fiend-spawn so easily, I can tell you. Bring the light there, will you? (One runs out for the light.) A trap! a trap! and a stair, down in the wall! The hell-faggot's gone! After him, after him, noodles!
[Sound of descending footsteps. Others rush in with torches and follow.]
* * * * *
SCENE XIX.—The river-side. LILIA seated in the boat; JULIAN handing her the bags.
Julian. There! One at a time!—Take care, love; it is heavy.— Put them right in the middle, of the boat: Gold makes good ballast.
[A loud shout. He steps in and casts the chain loose, then pushes gently off.]
Look how the torches gleam Among the trees. Thank God, we have escaped!
[He rows swiftly off. The torches come nearer, with cries of search.]
(In a low tone.) Slip down, my Lilia; lie at full length In the bottom of the boat; your dress is white, And would return the torches' glare. I fear The damp night-air will hurt you, dressed like this.
[Pulling off his coat, and laying it over her.]
Now for a strong pull with my muffled oars! The water mutters Spanish in its sleep. My beautiful! my bride! my spirit's wife! God-given, and God-restored! My heart exults, Hovering about thee, beautiful! my soul!— Once round the headland, I will set the sail; The fair wind bloweth right adown the stream. Dear wind, dear stream, dear stars, dear heart of all, White angel lying in my little boat! Strange that my boyhood's skill with sail and helm, Oft steering safely 'twixt the winding banks, Should make me rich with womanhood and life!
[The boat rounds the headland, JULIAN singing.]
Thou hast been blowing leaves, O wind of strife, Wan, curled, boat-like leaves, that ran and fled; Unresting yet, though folded up from life; Sleepless, though cast among the unwaking dead! Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
O wind of strife, to us a wedding wind, O cover me with kisses of her mouth; Blow thou our souls together, heart and mind; To narrowing northern lines, blow from the south! Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
Thou hast been blowing many a drifting thing From circling cove down to the unsheltered sea; Thou blowest to the sea my blue sail's wing, Us to a new love-lit futurity: Out to the ocean fleet and float; Blow, blow my little leaf-like boat.
And weep not, though the Beautiful decay Within thy heart, as daily in thine eyes; Thy heart must have its autumn, its pale skies, Leading, mayhap, to winter's dim dismay. Yet doubt not. Beauty doth not pass away; Her form departs not, though her body dies. Secure beneath the earth the snowdrop lies, Waiting the spring's young resurrection-day, Through the kind nurture of the winter cold. Nor seek thou by vain effort to revive The summer-time, when roses were alive; Do thou thy work—be willing to be old: Thy sorrow is the husk that doth infold A gorgeous June, for which thou need'st not strive.
Time: Five years later.
SCENE I.—Night. London. A large meanly furnished room; a single candle on the table; a child asleep in a little crib. JULIAN sits by the table, reading in a low voice out of a book. He looks older, and his hair is lined with grey; his eyes look clearer.
Julian. What is this? let me see; 'tis called The Singer:
"Melchah stood looking on the corpse of his son, and spoke not. At length he broke the silence and said: 'He hath told his tale to the Immortals.' Abdiel, the friend of him that was dead, asked him what he meant by the words. The old man, still regarding the dead body, spake as follows:—"
"Three years ago, I fell asleep on the summit of the hill Yarib; and there I dreamed a dream. I thought I lay at the foot of a cliff, near the top of a great mountain; for beneath me were the clouds, and above me, the heavens deep and dark. And I heard voices sweet and strong; and I lifted up my eyes, and, Lo! over against me, on a rocky slope, some seated, each on his own crag, some reclining between the fragments, I saw a hundred majestic forms, as of men who had striven and conquered. Then I heard one say: 'What wouldst thou sing unto us, young man?' A youthful voice replied, tremblingly: 'A song which I have made for my singing.' 'Come, then, and I will lead thee to the hole in the rock: enter and sing.' From the assembly came forth one whose countenance was calm unto awfulness; but whose eyes looked in love, mingled with doubt, on the face of a youth whom he led by the hand toward the spot where I lay. The features of the youth I could not discern: either it was the indistinctness of a dream, or I was not permitted to behold them. And, Lo! behind me was a great hole in the rock, narrow at the entrance, but deep and wide within; and when I looked into it, I shuddered; for I thought I saw, far down, the glimmer of a star. The youth entered and vanished. His guide strode back to his seat; and I lay in terror near the mouth of the vast cavern. When I looked up once more, I saw all the men leaning forward, with head aside, as if listening intently to a far-off sound. I likewise listened; but, though much nearer than they, I heard nothing. But I could see their faces change like waters in a windy and half-cloudy day. Sometimes, though I heard nought, it seemed to me as if one sighed and prayed beside me; and once I heard a clang of music triumphant in hope; but I looked up, and, Lo! it was the listeners who stood on their feet and sang. They ceased, sat down, and listened as before. At last one approached me, and I ventured to question him. 'Sir,' I said, 'wilt thou tell me what it means?' And he answered me thus: 'The youth desired to sing to the Immortals. It is a law with us that no one shall sing a song who cannot be the hero of his tale—who cannot live the song that he sings; for what right hath he else to devise great things, and to take holy deeds in his mouth? Therefore he enters the cavern where God weaves the garments of souls; and there he lives in the forms of his own tale; for God gives them being that he may be tried. The sighs which thou didst hear were his longings after his own Ideal; and thou didst hear him praying for the Truth he beheld, but could not reach. We sang, because, in his first great battle, he strove well and overcame. We await the next.' A deep sleep seemed to fall upon me; and when I awoke, I saw the Immortals standing with their eyes fixed on the mouth of the cavern. I arose and turned toward it likewise. The youth came forth. His face was worn and pale, as that of the dead man before me; but his eyes were open, and tears trembled within them. Yet not the less was it the same face, the face of my son, I tell thee; and in joy and fear I gazed upon him. With a weary step he approached the Immortals. But he who had led him to the cave hastened to meet him, spread forth his arms, and embraced him, and said unto him: 'Thou hast told a noble tale; sing to us now what songs thou wilt.' Therefore said I, as I gazed on my son: 'He hath told his tale to the Immortals.'"
[He puts the book down; meditates awhile; then rises and walks up and down the room.]
And so five years have poured their silent streams, Flowing from fountains in eternity, Into my soul, which, as an infinite gulf, Hath swallowed them; whose living caves they feed; And time to spirit grows, transformed and kept. And now the day draws nigh when Christ was born; The day that showed how like to God himself Man had been made, since God could be revealed By one that was a man with men, and still Was one with God the Father; that men might By drawing nigh to him draw nigh to God, Who had come near to them in tenderness. O God! I thank thee for the friendly eye That oft hath opened on me these five years; Thank thee for those enlightenings of my spirit That let me know thy thought was toward me; Those moments fore-enjoyed from future years, Telling what converse I should hold with God. I thank thee for the sorrow and the care, Through which they gleamed, bright phosphorescent sparks Crushed from the troubled waters, borne on which Through mist and dark my soul draws nigh to thee. Five years ago, I prayed in agony That thou wouldst speak to me. Thou wouldst not then, With that close speech I craved so hungrily. Thy inmost speech is heart embracing heart; And thou wast all the time instructing me To know the language of thy inmost speech. I thought thou didst refuse, when every hour Thou spakest every word my heart could hear, Though oft I did not know it was thy voice. My prayer arose from lonely wastes of soul; As if a world far-off in depths of space, Chaotic, had implored that it might shine Straightway in sunlight as the morning star. My soul must be more pure ere it could hold With thee communion. 'Tis the pure in heart That shall see God. As if a well that lay Unvisited, till water-weeds had grown Up from its depths, and woven a thick mass Over its surface, could give back the sun! Or, dug from ancient battle-plain, a shield Could be a mirror to the stars of heaven! And though I am not yet come near to him, I know I am more nigh; and am content To walk a long and weary road to find My father's house once more. Well may it be A long and weary—I had wandered far. My God, I thank thee, thou dost care for me. I am content, rejoicing to go on, Even when my home seems very far away; For over grief, and aching emptiness, And fading hopes, a higher joy arises. In cloudiest nights, one lonely spot is bright, High overhead, through folds and folds of space; It is the earnest-star of all my heavens; And tremulous in the deep well of my being Its image answers, gazing eagerly.
Alas, my Lilia!—But I'll think of Jesus, Not of thee now; him who hath led my soul Thus far upon its journey home to God. By poor attempts to do the things he said, Faith has been born; free will become a fact; And love grown strong to enter into his, And know the spirit that inhabits there. One day his truth will spring to life in me, And make me free, as God says "I am free." When I am like him, then my soul will dawn With the full glory of the God revealed— Full as to me, though but one beam from him; The light will shine, for I shall comprehend it: In his light I shall see light. God can speak, Yea, will speak to me then, and I shall hear. Not yet like him, how can I hear his words?
[Stopping by the crib, and bending over the child.]
My darling child! God's little daughter, drest In human clothes, that light may thus be clad In shining, so to reach my human eyes! Come as a little Christ from heaven to earth, To call me father, that my heart may know What father means, and turn its eyes to God! Sometimes I feel, when thou art clinging to me, How all unfit this heart of mine to have The guardianship of a bright thing like thee, Come to entice, allure me back to God By flitting round me, gleaming of thy home, And radiating of thy purity Into my stained heart; which unto thee Shall ever show the father, answering The divine childhood dwelling in thine eyes. O how thou teachest me with thy sweet ways, All ignorant of wherefore thou art come, And what thou art to me, my heavenly ward, Whose eyes have drunk that secret place's light And pour it forth on me! God bless his own!
[He resumes his walk, singing in a low voice.]
My child woke crying from her sleep; I bended o'er her bed, And soothed her, till in slumber deep She from the darkness fled.
And as beside my child I stood, A still voice said in me— "Even thus thy Father, strong and good, Is bending over thee."
SCENE II.—Rooms in Lord Seaford's house. A large company; dancers; gentlemen looking on.
1st Gentleman. Henry, what dark-haired queen is that? She moves As if her body were instinct with thought, Moulded to motion by the music's waves, As floats the swan upon the swelling lake; Or as in dreams one sees an angel move, Sweeping on slow wings through the buoyant air, Then folding them, and turning on his track.
2nd. You seem inspired; nor can I wonder at it; She is a glorious woman; and such eyes! Think—to be loved by such a woman now!
1st. You have seen her, then, before: what is her name?
2nd. I saw her once; but could not learn her name.
3rd. She is the wife of an Italian count, Who for some cause, political I think, Took refuge in this country. His estates The Church has eaten up, as I have heard: Mephisto says the Church has a good stomach.
2nd. How do they live?
3rd. Poorly, I should suppose; For she gives Lady Gertrude music-lessons: That's how they know her.—Ah, you should hear her sing!
2nd. If she sings as she looks or as she dances, It were as well for me I did not hear.
3rd. If Count Lamballa followed Lady Seaford To heaven, I know who'd follow her on earth.
SCENE III.—Julian's room. LILY asleep.
Julian. I wish she would come home. When the child wakes, I cannot bear to see her eyes first rest On me, then wander searching through the room, And then return and rest. And yet, poor Lilia! 'Tis nothing strange thou shouldst be glad to go From this dull place, and for a few short hours Have thy lost girlhood given back to thee; For thou art very young for such hard things As poor men's wives in cities must endure.
I am afraid the thought is not at rest, But rises still, that she is not my wife— Not truly, lawfully. I hoped the child Would kill that fancy; but I fear instead, She thinks I have begun to think the same— Thinks that it lies a heavy weight of sin Upon my heart. Alas, my Lilia! When every time I pray, I pray that God Would look and see that thou and I be one!
Lily (starting up in her crib). Oh, take me! take me!
Julian (going up to her with a smile). What is the matter with my little child?
Lily. I don't know, father; I was very frightened.
Julian. 'Twas nothing but a dream. Look—I am with you.
Lily. I am wake now; I know you're there; but then I did not know it.
Julian. Lie down now, darling. Go to sleep again.
Lily (beseechingly). Not yet. Don't tell me go to sleep again; It makes me so, so frightened! Take me up, And let me sit upon your knee.—Where's mother? I cannot see her.
Julian. She's not at home, my child; But soon she will be back.
Lily. But if she walk Out in the dark streets—so dark, it will catch her.
Julian. She will not walk—but what would catch her, sweet?
Lily. I don't know. Tell me a story till she comes.
Julian (taking her, and sitting with her on his knees by the fire). Come then, my little Lily, I will tell you A story I have read this very night.
[She looks in his face.]
There was a man who had a little boy, And when the boy grew big, he went and asked His father to give him a purse of money. His father gave him such a large purse full! And then he went away and left his home. You see he did not love his father much.
Lily. Oh! didn't he?—If he had, he wouldn't have gone!
Julian. Away he went, far far away he went, Until he could not even spy the top Of the great mountain by his father's house. And still he went away, away, as if He tried how far his feet could go away; Until he came to a city huge and wide, Like London here.
Lily. Perhaps it was London.
Julian. Perhaps it was, my child. And there he spent All, all his father's money, buying things That he had always told him were not worth, And not to buy them; but he would and did.
Lily. How very naughty of him!
Julian. Yes, my child. And so when he had spent his last few pence, He grew quite hungry. But he had none left To buy a piece of bread. And bread was scarce; Nobody gave him any. He had been Always so idle, that he could not work. But at last some one sent him to feed swine.
Lily. Swine! Oh!
Julian. Yes, swine: 'twas all that he could do; And he was glad to eat some of their food.
[She stares at him.]
But at the last, hunger and waking love Made him remember his old happy home. "How many servants in my father's house Have plenty, and to spare!" he said. "I'll go And say, 'I have done very wrong, my father; I am not worthy to be called your son; Put me among your servants, father, please.'" Then he rose up and went; but thought the road So much, much farther to walk back again, When he was tired and hungry. But at last He saw the blue top of the great big hill That stood beside his father's house; and then He walked much faster. But a great way off, His father saw him coming, lame and weary With his long walk; and very different From what he had been. All his clothes were hanging In tatters, and his toes stuck through his shoes—
[She bursts into tears.]
Lily (sobbing). Like that poor beggar I saw yesterday?
Julian. Yes, my dear child.
Lily. And was he dirty too?
Julian. Yes, very dirty; he had been so long Among the swine.
Lily. Is it all true though, father?
Julian. Yes, my darling; all true, and truer far Than you can think.
Lily. What was his father like?
Julian. A tall, grand, stately man.
Lily. Like you, dear father?
Julian. Like me, only much grander.
Lily. I love you The best though.
Julian. Well, all dirty as he was, And thin, and pale, and torn, with staring eyes, His father knew him, the first look, far off, And ran so fast to meet him! put his arms Around his neck and kissed him.
Lily. Oh, how dear! I love him too;—but not so well as you.
[Sound of a carriage drawing up.]
Julian. There is your mother.
Lily. I am glad, so glad!
Enter LILIA, looking pale.
Lilia. You naughty child, why are you not in bed?
Lily (pouting). I am not naughty. I am afraid to go, Because you don't go with me into sleep; And when I see things, and you are not there, Nor father, I am so frightened, I cry out, And stretch my hands, and so I come awake. Come with me into sleep, dear mother; come.
Lilia. What a strange child it is! There! (kissing her) go to bed.
[Lays her down.]
Julian (gazing on the child). As thou art in thy dreams without thy mother, So are we lost in life without our God.
SCENE IV.—LILIA in bed. The room lighted from a gas-lamp in the street; the bright shadow of the window on the wall and ceiling.
Lilia. Oh, it is dreary, dreary! All the time My thoughts would wander to my dreary home. Through every dance, my soul walked evermore In a most dreary dance through this same room. I saw these walls, this carpet; and I heard, As now, his measured step in the next chamber, Go pacing up and down, and I shut out! He is too good for me, I weak for him. Yet if he put his arms around me once, And held me fast as then, kissed me as then, My soul, I think, would come again to me, And pass from me in trembling love to him. But he repels me now. He loves me, true,— Because I am his wife: he ought to love me! Me, the cold statue, thus he drapes with duty. Sometimes he waits upon me like a maid, Silent with watchful eyes. Oh, would to Heaven, He used me like a slave bought in the market! Yes, used me roughly! So, I were his own; And words of tenderness would falter in, Relenting from the sternness of command. But I am not enough for him: he needs Some high-entranced maiden, ever pure, And thronged with burning thoughts of God and him. So, as he loves me not, his deeds for me Lie on me like a sepulchre of stones. Italian lovers love not so; but he Has German blood in those great veins of his. He never brings me now a little flower. He sings low wandering sweet songs to the child; But never sings to me what the voice-bird Sings to the silent, sitting on the nest. I would I were his child, and not his wife! How I should love him then! Yet I have thoughts Fit to be women to his mighty men; And he would love them, if he saw them once.
Ah! there they come, the visions of my land! The long sweep of a bay, white sands, and cliffs Purple above the blue waves at their feet! Down the full river comes a light-blue sail; And down the near hill-side come country girls, Brown, rosy, laden light with glowing fruits; Down to the sands come ladies, young, and clad For holiday; in whose hearts wonderment At manhood is the upmost, deepest thought; And to their side come stately, youthful forms, Italy's youth, with burning eyes and hearts:— Triumphant Love is lord of the bright day. Yet one heart, under that blue sail, would look With pity on their poor contentedness; For he sits at the helm, I at his feet. He sung a song, and I replied to him. His song was of the wind that blew us down From sheltered hills to the unsheltered sea. Ah, little thought my heart that the wide sea, Where I should cry for comforting in vain, Was the expanse of his wide awful soul, To which that wind was helpless drifting me! I would he were less great, and loved me more. I sung to him a song, broken with sighs, For even then I feared the time to come: "O will thine eyes shine always, love, as now? And will thy lips for aye be sweetly curved?" Said my song, flowing unrhymed from my heart. "And will thy forehead ever, sunlike bend, And suck my soul in vapours up to thee? Ah love! I need love, beauty, and sweet odours. Thou livest on the hoary mountains; I In the warm valley, with the lily pale, Shadowed with mountains and its own great leaves; Where odours are the sole invisible clouds, Making the heart weep for deliciousness. Will thy eternal mountain always bear Blue flowers upspringing at the glacier's foot? Alas! I fear the storms, the blinding snow, The vapours which thou gatherest round thy head, Wherewith thou shuttest up thy chamber-door, And goest from me into loneliness." Ah me, my song! it is a song no more! He is alone amid his windy rocks; I wandering on a low and dreary plain!
[She weeps herself asleep.]
SCENE V.—LORD SEAFORD, alternately writing at a table and composing at his pianoforte.
Eyes of beauty, eyes of light, Sweetly, softly, sadly bright! Draw not, ever, o'er my eye, Radiant mists of ecstasy.
Be not proud, O glorious orbs! Not your mystery absorbs; But the starry soul that lies Looking through your night of eyes.
One moment, be less perfect, sweet; Sin once in something small; One fault to lift me on my feet From love's too perfect thrall!
For now I have no soul; a sea Fills up my caverned brain, Heaving in silent waves to thee, The mistress of that main.
O angel! take my hand in thine; Unfold thy shining silver wings; Spread them around thy face and mine, Close curtained in their murmurings.
But I should faint with too much bliss To be alone in space with thee; Except, O dread! one angel-kiss In sweetest death should set me free.
O beauteous devil, tempt me, tempt me on, Till thou hast won my soul in sighs; I'll smile with thee upon thy flaming throne, If thou wilt keep those eyes.
And if the meanings of untold desires Should charm thy pain of one faint sting, I will arise amid the scorching fires, I will arise and sing.
O what is God to me? He sits apart Amid the clear stars, passionless and cold. Divine! thou art enough to fill my heart; O fold me in thy heaven, sweet love, infold.
With too much life, I fall before thee dead. With holding thee, my sense consumes in storm. Thou art too keen a flame, too hallowed For any temple but thy holy form.
SCENE VI.—Julian's room next morning; no fire. JULIAN stands at the window, looking into a London fog.
Julian. And there are mountains on the earth, far-off; Steep precipices laved at morn in wind From the blue glaciers fresh; and falls that leap, Springing from rock to pool abandonedly; And all the spirit of the earth breathed out, Bearing the soul, as on an altar-flame, Aloft to God! And there is woman-love— Far off, ah me!
[Sitting down wearily.]
—the heart of earth's delight Withered from mine! O for a desert sea, The cold sun flashing on the sailing icebergs! Where I might cry aloud on God, until My soul burst forth upon the wings of pain, And fled to him. A numbness as of death Infolds me. As in sleep I walk. I live, But my dull soul can hardly keep awake. Yet God is here as on the mountain-top, Or on the desert sea, or lonely isle; And I should know him here, if Lilia loved me, As once I thought she did. But can I blame her? The change has been too much for her to bear. Can poverty make one of two hearts cold, And warm the other with the love of God? But then I have been silent, often moody, Drowned in much questioning; and she has thought That I was tired of her, while more than all I pondered how to wake her living soul. She cannot think why I should haunt my chamber, Except a goaded conscience were my grief; Thinks not of aught to gain, but all to shun. Deeming, poor child, that I repent me thus Of that which makes her mine for evermore, It is no wonder if her love grow less. Then I am older much than she; and this Fever, I think, has made me old indeed Before my fortieth year; although, within, I seem as young as ever to myself. O my poor Lilia! thou art not to blame; I'll love thee more than ever; I will be So gentle to thy heart where love lies dead! For carefully men ope the door, and walk With silent footfall through the room where lies, Exhausted, sleeping, with its travail sore, The body that erewhile hath borne a spirit. Alas, my Lilia! where is dead Love's child?