The Victories of Love - and Other Poems
by Coventry Patmore
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Transcribed from the 1888 Cassell & Company edition by David Price, email






The Victories Of Love Amelia The Day After To-Morrow The Azalea Departure The Toys If I Were Dead A Farewell Sponsa Dei The Rosy Bosom'd Hours Eros


After the very cordial reception given to the poems of "The Angel in the House," which their author generously made accessible to the readers of these little books, it is evident that another volume from the same clear singer of the purity of household love requires no Introduction.

I have only, in the name of the readers, to thank Mr. Coventry Patmore for his liberality, and wish him—say, rather, assure him of—the best return he seeks in a wide influence for good.

H. M.




Mother, I smile at your alarms! I own, indeed, my Cousin's charms, But, like all nursery maladies, Love is not badly taken twice. Have you forgotten Charlotte Hayes, My playmate in the pleasant days At Knatchley, and her sister, Anne, The twins, so made on the same plan, That one wore blue, the other white, To mark them to their father's sight; And how, at Knatchley harvesting, You bade me kiss her in the ring, Like Anne and all the others? You, That never of my sickness knew, Will laugh, yet had I the disease, And gravely, if the signs are these: As, ere the Spring has any power, The almond branch all turns to flower, Though not a leaf is out, so she The bloom of life provoked in me And, hard till then and selfish, I Was thenceforth nought but sanctity And service: life was mere delight In being wholly good and right, As she was; just, without a slur; Honouring myself no less than her; Obeying, in the loneliest place, Ev'n to the slightest gesture, grace, Assured that one so fair, so true, He only served that was so too. For me, hence weak towards the weak, No more the unnested blackbird's shriek Startled the light-leaved wood; on high Wander'd the gadding butterfly, Unscared by my flung cap; the bee, Rifling the hollyhock in glee, Was no more trapp'd with his own flower, And for his honey slain. Her power, From great things even to the grass Through which the unfenced footways pass, Was law, and that which keeps the law, Cherubic gaiety and awe; Day was her doing, and the lark Had reason for his song; the dark In anagram innumerous spelt Her name with stars that throbb'd and felt; 'Twas the sad summit of delight To wake and weep for her at night; She turn'd to triumph or to shame The strife of every childish game; The heart would come into my throat At rosebuds; howsoe'er remote, In opposition or consent, Each thing, or person, or event, Or seeming neutral howsoe'er, All, in the live, electric air, Awoke, took aspect, and confess'd In her a centre of unrest, Yea, stocks and stones within me bred Anxieties of joy and dread. O, bright apocalyptic sky O'erarching childhood! Far and nigh Mystery and obscuration none, Yet nowhere any moon or sun! What reason for these sighs? What hope, Daunting with its audacious scope The disconcerted heart, affects These ceremonies and respects? Why stratagems in everything? Why, why not kiss her in the ring? 'Tis nothing strange that warriors bold, Whose fierce, forecasting eyes behold The city they desire to sack, Humbly begin their proud attack By delving ditches two miles off, Aware how the fair place would scoff At hasty wooing; but, O child, Why thus approach thy playmate mild? One morning, when it flush'd my thought That, what in me such wonder wrought Was call'd, in men and women, love, And, sick with vanity thereof, I, saying loud, 'I love her,' told My secret to myself, behold A crisis in my mystery! For, suddenly, I seem'd to be Whirl'd round, and bound with showers of threads, As when the furious spider sheds Captivity upon the fly To still his buzzing till he die; Only, with me, the bonds that flew, Enfolding, thrill'd me through and through With bliss beyond aught heaven can have, And pride to dream myself her slave. A long, green slip of wilder'd land, With Knatchley Wood on either hand, Sunder'd our home from hers. This day Glad was I as I went her way. I stretch'd my arms to the sky, and sprang O'er the elastic sod, and sang 'I love her, love her!' to an air Which with the words came then and there; And even now, when I would know All was not always dull and low, I mind me awhile of the sweet strain Love taught me in that lonely lane. Such glories fade, with no more mark Than when the sunset dies to dark. They pass, the rapture and the grace Ineffable, their only trace A heart which, having felt no less Than pure and perfect happiness, Is duly dainty of delight; A patient, poignant appetite For pleasures that exceed so much The poor things which the world calls such. That, when these lure it, then you may The lion with a wisp of hay. That Charlotte, whom we scarcely knew From Anne but by her ribbons blue, Was loved, Anne less than look'd at, shows That liking still by favour goes! This Love is a Divinity, And holds his high election free Of human merit; or let's say, A child by ladies call'd to play, But careless of their becks and wiles, Till, seeing one who sits and smiles Like any else, yet only charms, He cries to come into her arms. Then, for my Cousins, fear me not! None ever loved because he ought. Fatal were else this graceful house, So full of light from ladies' brows. There's Mary; Heaven in her appears Like sunshine through the shower's bright tears; Mildred's of Earth, yet happier far Than most men's thoughts of Heaven are; But, for Honoria, Heaven and Earth Seal'd amity in her sweet birth. The noble Girl! With whom she talks She knights first with her smile; she walks, Stands, dances, to such sweet effect, Alone she seems to move erect. The brightest and the chastest brow Rules o'er a cheek which seems to show That love, as a mere vague suspense Of apprehensive innocence, Perturbs her heart; love without aim Or object, like the sunlit flame That in the Vestals' Temple glow'd, Without the image of a god. And this simplicity most pure She sets off with no less allure Of culture, subtly skill'd to raise The power, the pride, and mutual praise Of human personality Above the common sort so high, It makes such homely souls as mine Marvel how brightly life may shine. How you would love her! Even in dress She makes the common mode express New knowledge of what's fit so well 'Tis virtue gaily visible! Nay, but her silken sash to me Were more than all morality, Had not the old, sweet, feverous ill Left me the master of my will! So, Mother, feel at rest, and please To send my books on board. With these, When I go hence, all idle hours Shall help my pleasures and my powers. I've time, you know, to fill my post, And yet make up for schooling lost Through young sea-service. They all speak German with ease; and this, with Greek, (Which Dr. Churchill thought I knew,) And history, which I fail'd in too, Will stop a gap I somewhat dread, After the happy life I've led With these my friends; and sweet 'twill be To abridge the space from them to me.


My Child, Honoria Churchill sways A double power through Charlotte Hayes. In minds to first-love's memory pledged The second Cupid's born full-fledged. I saw, and trembled for the day When you should see her beauty, gay And pure as apple-blooms, that show Outside a blush and inside snow, Her high and touching elegance Of order'd life as free as chance. Ah, haste from her bewitching side, No friend for you, far less a bride! But, warning from a hope so wild, I wrong you. Yet this know, my Child: He that but once too nearly hears The music of forefended spheres, Is thenceforth lonely, and for all His days like one who treads the Wall Of China, and, on this hand, sees Cities and their civilities, And on the other, lions. Well, (Your rash reply I thus foretell.) Good is the knowledge of what's fair, Though bought with temporal despair! Yes, good for one, but not for two. Will it content a wife that you Should pine for love, in love's embrace, Through having known a happier grace; And break with inward sighs your rest, Because, though good, she's not the best? You would, you think, be just and kind, And keep your counsel! You will find You cannot such a secret keep; 'Twill out, like murder, in your sleep; A touch will tell it, though, for pride, She may her bitter knowledge hide; And, while she accepts love's make-believe, You'll twice despise what you'd deceive. I send the books. Dear Child, adieu! Tell me of all you are and do. I know, thank God, whate'er it be, 'Twill need no veil 'twixt you and me.


The multitude of voices blithe Of early day, the hissing scythe Across the dew drawn and withdrawn, The noisy peacock on the lawn, These, and the sun's eye-gladding gleam, This morning, chased the sweetest dream That e'er shed penitential grace On life's forgetful commonplace; Yet 'twas no sweeter than the spell To which I woke to say farewell. Noon finds me many a mile removed From her who must not be beloved; And us the waste sea soon shall part, Heaving for aye, without a heart! Mother, what need to warn me so? I love Miss Churchill? Ah, no, no. I view, enchanted, from afar, And love her as I love a star. For, not to speak of colder fear, Which keeps my fancy calm, I hear, Under her life's gay progress hurl'd. The wheels of the preponderant world, Set sharp with swords that fool to slay Who blunders from a poor byway, To covet beauty with a crown Of earthly blessing added on; And she's so much, it seems to me, Beyond all women womanly, I dread to think how he should fare Who came so near as to despair.


Yonder the sombre vessel rides Where my obscure condition hides. Waves scud to shore against the wind That flings the sprinkling surf behind; In port the bickering pennons show Which way the ships would gladly go; Through Edgecumb Park the rooted trees Are tossing, reckless, in the breeze; On top of Edgecumb's firm-set tower, As foils, not foibles, of its power, The light vanes do themselves adjust To every veering of the gust: By me alone may nought be given To guidance of the airs of heaven? In battle or peace, in calm or storm, Should I my daily task perform, Better a thousand times for love, Who should my secret soul reprove? Beholding one like her, a man Longs to lay down his life! How can Aught to itself seem thus enough, When I have so much need thereof? Blest in her place, blissful is she; And I, departing, seem to be Like the strange waif that comes to run A few days flaming near the sun, And carries back, through boundless night, Its lessening memory of light. Oh, my dear Mother, I confess To a deep grief of homelessness, Unfelt, save once, before. 'Tis years Since such a shower of girlish tears Disgraced me! But this wretched Inn, At Plymouth, is so full of din, Talkings and trampings to and fro. And then my ship, to which I go To-night, is no more home. I dread, As strange, the life I long have led; And as, when first I went to school, And found the horror of a rule Which only ask'd to be obey'd, I lay and wept, of dawn afraid, And thought, with bursting heart, of one Who, from her little, wayward son, Required obedience, but above Obedience still regarded love, So change I that enchanting place, The abode of innocence and grace And gaiety without reproof, For the black gun-deck's louring roof. Blind and inevitable law Which makes light duties burdens, awe Which is not reverence, laughters gain'd At cost of purities profaned, And whatsoever most may stir Remorseful passion towards her, Whom to behold is to depart From all defect of life and heart. But, Mother, I shall go on shore, And see my Cousin yet once more! 'Twere wild to hope for her, you say. I've torn and cast those words away. Surely there's hope! For life 'tis well Love without hope's impossible; So, if I love, it is that hope Is not outside the outer scope Of fancy. You speak truth: this hour I must resist, or lose the power. What! and, when some short months are o'er, Be not much other than before? Drop from the bright and virtuous sphere In which I'm held but while she's dear? For daily life's dull, senseless mood, Slay the fine nerves of gratitude And sweet allegiance, which I owe Whether the debt be weal or woe? Nay, Mother, I, forewarn'd, prefer To want for all in wanting her. For all? Love's best is not bereft Ever from him to whom is left The trust that God will not deceive His creature, fashion'd to believe The prophecies of pure desire. Not loss, not death, my love shall tire. A mystery does my heart foretell; Nor do I press the oracle For explanations. Leave me alone, And let in me love's will be done.


Fashion'd by Heaven and by art So is she, that she makes the heart Ache and o'erflow with tears, that grace So lovely fair should have for place, (Deeming itself at home the while,) The unworthy earth! To see her smile Amid this waste of pain and sin, As only knowing the heaven within, Is sweet, and does for pity stir Passion to be her minister: Wherefore last night I lay awake, And said, 'Ah, Lord, for Thy love's sake, Give not this darling child of Thine To care less reverent than mine!' And, as true faith was in my word, I trust, I trust that I was heard. The waves, this morning, sped to land, And shouted hoarse to touch the strand, Where Spring, that goes not out to sea, Lay laughing in her lovely glee; And, so, my life was sunlit spray And tumult, as, once more to-day, For long farewell did I draw near My Cousin, desperately dear. Faint, fierce, the truth that hope was none Gleam'd like the lightning in the sun; Yet hope I had, and joy thereof. The father of love is hope, (though love Lives orphan'd on, when hope is dead,) And, out of my immediate dread And crisis of the coming hour, Did hope itself draw sudden power. So the still brooding storm, in Spring, Makes all the birds begin to sing. Mother, your foresight did not err: I've lost the world, and not won her. And yet, ah, laugh not, when you think What cup of life I sought to drink! The bold, said I, have climb'd to bliss Absurd, impossible, as this, With nought to help them but so great A heart it fascinates their fate. If ever Heaven heard man's desire, Mine, being made of altar-fire, Must come to pass, and it will be That she will wait, when she shall see. This evening, how I go to get, By means unknown, I know not yet Quite what, but ground whereon to stand, And plead more plainly for her hand! And so I raved, and cast in hope A superstitious horoscope! And still, though something in her face Portended 'No!' with such a grace It burthen'd me with thankfulness, Nothing was credible but 'Yes.' Therefore, through time's close pressure bold, I praised myself, and boastful told My deeds at Acre; strain'd the chance I had of honour and advance In war to come; and would not see Sad silence meant, 'What's this to me?' When half my precious hour was gone, She rose to meet a Mr. Vaughan; And, as the image of the moon Breaks up, within some still lagoon That feels the soft wind suddenly, Or tide fresh flowing from the sea, And turns to giddy flames that go Over the water to and fro, Thus, when he took her hand to-night, Her lovely gravity of light Was scatter'd into many smiles And flatting weakness. Hope beguiles No more my heart, dear Mother. He, By jealous looks, o'erhonour'd me. With nought to do, and fondly fain To hear her singing once again, I stay'd, and turn'd her music o'er; Then came she with me to the door. 'Dearest Honoria,' I said, (By my despair familiar made,) 'Heaven bless you!' Oh, to have back then stepp'd And fallen upon her neck, and wept, And said, 'My friend, I owe you all I am, and have, and hope for. Call For some poor service; let me prove To you, or him here whom you love, My duty. Any solemn task, For life's whole course, is all I ask!' Then she must surely have wept too, And said, 'My friend, what can you do!' And I should have replied, 'I'll pray 'For you and him three times a-day, And, all day, morning, noon, and night, My life shall be so high and right That never Saint yet scaled the stairs Of heaven with more availing prayers!' But this (and, as good God shall bless Somehow my end, I'll do no less,) I had no right to speak. Oh, shame, So rich a love, so poor a claim! My Mother, now my only friend, Farewell. The school-books which you send I shall not want, and so return. Give them away, or sell, or burn. I'll write from Malta. Would I might But be your little Child to-night, And feel your arms about me fold, Against this loneliness and cold!


The folly of young girls! They doff Their pride to smooth success, and scoff At far more noble fire and might That woo them from the dust of fight But, Frederick, now the storm is past, Your sky should not remain o'ercast. A sea-life's dull, and, oh, beware Of nourishing, for zest, despair. My Child, remember, you have twice Heartily loved; then why not thrice, Or ten times? But a wise man shuns To cry 'All's over,' more than once. I'll not say that a young man's soul Is scarcely measure of the whole Earthly and Heavenly universe, To which he inveterately prefers The one beloved woman. Best Speak to the senses' interest, Which brooks no mystery nor delay: Frankly reflect, my Son, and say, Was there no secret hour, of those Pass'd at her side in Sarum Close, When, to your spirit's sick alarm, It seem'd that all her marvellous charm Was marvellously fled? Her grace Of voice, adornment, movement, face Was what already heart and eye Had ponder'd to satiety; Amid so the good of life was o'er, Until some laugh not heard before, Some novel fashion in her hair, Or style of putting back her chair, Restored the heavens. Gather thence The loss-consoling inference. Yet blame not beauty, which beguiles, With lovely motions and sweet smiles, Which while they please us pass away, The spirit to lofty thoughts that stay And lift the whole of after-life, Unless you take the vision to wife, Which then seems lost, or serves to slake Desire, as when a lovely lake Far off scarce fills the exulting eye Of one athirst, who comes thereby, And inappreciably sips The deep, with disappointed lips. To fail is sorrow, yet confess That love pays dearly for success! No blame to beauty! Let's complain Of the heart, which can so ill sustain Delight. Our griefs declare our fall, But how much more our joys! They pall With plucking, and celestial mirth Can find no footing on the earth, More than the bird of paradise, Which only lives the while it flies. Think, also, how 'twould suit your pride To have this woman for a bride. Whate'er her faults, she's one of those To whom the world's last polish owes A novel grace, which all who aspire To courtliest custom must acquire. The world's the sphere she's made to charm, Which you have shunn'd as if 'twere harm. Oh, law perverse, that loneliness Breeds love, society success! Though young, 'twere now o'er late in life To train yourself for such a wife; So she would suit herself to you, As women, when they marry, do. For, since 'tis for our dignity Our lords should sit like lords on high, We willingly deteriorate To a step below our rulers' state; And 'tis the commonest of things To see an angel, gay with wings, Lean weakly on a mortal's arm! Honoria would put off the charm Of lofty grace that caught your love, For fear you should not seem above Herself in fashion and degree, As in true merit. Thus, you see, 'Twere little kindness, wisdom none, To light your cot with such a sun.


Write not, my Mother, her dear name With the least word or hint of blame. Who else shall discommend her choice, I giving it my hearty voice? Wed me? Ah, never near her come The knowledge of the narrow home! Far fly from her dear face, that shows The sunshine lovelier than the rose, The sordid gravity they wear Who poverty's base burthen bear! (And all are poor who come to miss Their custom, though a crown be this.) My hope was, that the wheels of fate, For my exceeding need, might wait, And she, unseen amidst all eyes, Move sightless, till I sought the prize, With honour, in an equal field. But then came Vaughan, to whom I yield With grace as much as any man, In such cause, to another can. Had she been mine, it seems to me That I had that integrity And only joy in her delight— But each is his own favourite In love! The thought to bring me rest Is that of us she takes the best. 'Twas but to see him to be sure That choice for her remain'd no more! His brow, so gaily clear of craft; His wit, the timely truth that laugh'd To find itself so well express'd; His words, abundant yet the best; His spirit, of such handsome show You mark'd not that his looks were so; His bearing, prospects, birth, all these Might well, with small suit, greatly please; How greatly, when she saw arise The reflex sweetness of her eyes In his, and every breath defer Humbly its bated life to her; Whilst power and kindness of command. Which women can no more withstand Than we their grace, were still unquell'd, And force and flattery both compell'd Her softness! Say I'm worthy. I Grew, in her presence, cold and shy. It awed me, as an angel's might In raiment of reproachful light. Her gay looks told my sombre mood That what's not happy is not good; And, just because 'twas life to please, Death to repel her, truth and ease Deserted me; I strove to talk, And stammer'd foolishness; my walk Was like a drunkard's; if she took My arm, it stiffen'd, ached, and shook: A likely wooer! Blame her not; Nor ever say, dear Mother, aught Against that perfectness which is My strength, as once it was my bliss. And do not chafe at social rules. Leave that to charlatans and fools. Clay grafts and clods conceive the rose, So base still fathers best. Life owes Itself to bread; enough thereof And easy days condition love; And, kindly train'd, love's roses thrive, No more pale, scentless petals five, Which moisten the considerate eye To see what haste they make to die, But heavens of colour and perfume, Which, month by month, renew the bloom Of art-born graces, when the year In all the natural grove is sere. Blame nought then! Bright let be the air About my lonely cloud of care.


Religion, duty, books, work, friends,— 'Tis good advice, but there it ends. I'm sick for what these have not got. Send no more books: they help me not; I do my work: the void's there still Which carefullest duty cannot fill. What though the inaugural hour of right Comes ever with a keen delight? Little relieves the labour's heat; Disgust oft crowns it when complete; And life, in fact, is not less dull For being very dutiful. 'The stately homes of England,' lo, 'How beautiful they stand!' They owe How much to nameless things like me Their beauty of security! But who can long a low toil mend By looking to a lofty end? And let me, since 'tis truth, confess The void's not fill'd by godliness. God is a tower without a stair, And His perfection, love's despair. 'Tis He shall judge me when I die; He suckles with the hissing fly The spider; gazes calmly down. Whilst rapine grips the helpless town. His vast love holds all this and more. In consternation I adore. Nor can I ease this aching gulf With friends, the pictures of myself. Then marvel not that I recur From each and all of these to her. For more of heaven than her have I No sensitive capacity. Had I but her, ah, what the gain Of owning aught but that domain! Nay, heaven's extent, however much, Cannot be more than many such; And, she being mine, should God to me Say 'Lo! my Child, I give to thee 'All heaven besides,' what could I then, But, as a child, to Him complain That whereas my dear Father gave A little space for me to have In His great garden, now, o'erblest, I've that, indeed, but all the rest, Which, somehow, makes it seem I've got All but my only cared-for plot. Enough was that for my weak hand To tend, my heart to understand. Oh, the sick fact, 'twixt her and me There's naught, and half a world of sea.


In two, in less than two hours more I set my foot on English shore, Two years untrod, and, strange to tell, Nigh miss'd through last night's storm! There fell A man from the shrouds, that roar'd to quench Even the billows' blast and drench. Besides me none was near to mark His loud cry in the louder dark, Dark, save when lightning show'd the deeps Standing about in stony heaps. No time for choice! A rope; a flash That flamed as he rose; a dizzy splash; A strange, inopportune delight Of mounting with the billowy might, And falling, with a thrill again Of pleasure shot from feet to brain; And both paced deck, ere any knew Our peril. Round us press'd the crew, With wonder in the eyes of most. As if the man who had loved and lost Honoria dared no more than that! My days have else been stale and flat. This life's at best, if justly scann'd, A tedious walk by the other's strand, With, here and there cast up, a piece Of coral or of ambergris, Which, boasted of abroad, we ignore The burden of the barren shore. I seldom write, for 'twould be still Of how the nerves refuse to thrill; How, throughout doubly-darken'd days, I cannot recollect her face; How to my heart her name to tell Is beating on a broken bell; And, to fill up the abhorrent gulf, Scarce loving her, I hate myself. Yet, latterly, with strange delight, Rich tides have risen in the night, And sweet dreams chased the fancies dense Of waking life's dull somnolence. I see her as I knew her, grace Already glory in her face; I move about, I cannot rest, For the proud brain and joyful breast I have of her. Or else I float, The pilot of an idle boat, Alone, alone with sky and sea, And her, the third simplicity. Or Mildred, to some question, cries, (Her merry meaning in her eyes,) 'The Ball, oh, Frederick will go; Honoria will be there! and, lo, As moisture sweet my seeing blurs To hear my name so link'd with hers, A mirror joins, by guilty chance, Either's averted, watchful glance! Or with me, in the Ball-Room's blaze, Her brilliant mildness threads the maze; Our thoughts are lovely, and each word Is music in the music heard, And all things seem but parts to be Of one persistent harmony, By which I'm made divinely bold; The secret, which she knows, is told; And, laughing with a lofty bliss Of innocent accord, we kiss: About her neck my pleasure weeps; Against my lip the silk vein leaps; Then says an Angel, 'Day or night, If yours you seek, not her delight, Although by some strange witchery It seems you kiss her, 'tis not she; But, whilst you languish at the side Of a fair-foul phantasmal bride, Surely a dragon and strong tower Guard the true lady in her bower.' And I say, 'Dear my Lord. Amen!' And the true lady kiss again. Or else some wasteful malady Devours her shape and dims her eye; No charms are left, where all were rife, Except her voice, which is her life, Wherewith she, for her foolish fear, Says trembling, 'Do you love me. Dear?' And I reply, 'Sweetest, I vow I never loved but half till now.' She turns her face to the wall at this, And says, 'Go, Love, 'tis too much bliss.' And then a sudden pulse is sent About the sounding firmament In smitings as of silver bars; The bright disorder of the stars Is solved by music; far and near, Through infinite distinctions clear, Their twofold voices' deeper tone Utters the Name which all things own, And each ecstatic treble dwells On one whereof none other tells; And we, sublimed to song and fire, Take order in the wheeling quire, Till from the throbbing sphere I start, Waked by the heaving of my heart. Such dreams as these come night by night, Disturbing day with their delight. Portend they nothing? Who can tell!' God yet may do some miracle. 'Tis nigh two years, and she's not wed, Or you would know! He may be dead, Or mad, and loving some one else, And she, much moved that nothing quells My constancy, or, simply wroth With such a wretch, accept my troth To spite him; or her beauty's gone, (And that's my dream!) and this man Vaughan Takes her release: or tongues malign, Confusing every ear but mine, Have smirch'd her: ah, 'twould move her, sure, To find I loved her all the more! Nay, now I think, haply amiss I read her words and looks, and his, That night! Did not his jealousy Show—Good my God, and can it be That I, a modest fool, all blest, Nothing of such a heaven guess'd? Oh, chance too frail, yet frantic sweet, To-morrow sees me at her feet! Yonder, at last, the glad sea roars Along the sacred English shores! There lies the lovely land I know, Where men and women lordliest grow; There peep the roofs where more than kings Postpone state cares to country things, And many a gay queen simply tends The babes on whom the world depends; There curls the wanton cottage smoke Of him that drives but bears no yoke; There laughs the realm where low and high Are lieges to society, And life has all too wide a scope, Too free a prospect for its hope, For any private good or ill, Except dishonour, quite to fill! {1} —Mother, since this was penn'd, I've read That 'Mr. Vaughan, on Tuesday, wed The beautiful Miss Churchill.' So That's over; and to-morrow I go To take up my new post on board The Wolf, my peace at last restored; My lonely faith, like heart-of-oak, Shock-season'd. Grief is now the cloak I clasp about me to prevent The deadly chill of a content With any near or distant good, Except the exact beatitude Which love has shown to my desire. Talk not of 'other joys and higher,' I hate and disavow all bliss As none for me which is not this. Think not I blasphemously cope With God's decrees, and cast off hope. How, when, and where can mine succeed?

I'll trust He knows who made my need. Baseness of men! Pursuit being o'er, Doubtless her Husband feels no more The heaven of heavens of such a Bride, But, lounging, lets her please his pride With fondness, guerdons her caress With little names, and turns a tress Round idle fingers. If 'tis so, Why then I'm happier of the two! Better, for lofty loss, high pain, Than low content with lofty gain. Poor, foolish Dove, to trust from me Her happiness and dignity!


I thought the worst had brought me balm: 'Twas but the tempest's central calm. Vague sinkings of the heart aver That dreadful wrong is come to her, And o'er this dream I brood and dote, And learn its agonies by rote. As if I loved it, early and late I make familiar with my fate, And feed, with fascinated will, On very dregs of finish'd ill. I think, she's near him now, alone, With wardship and protection none; Alone, perhaps, in the hindering stress Of airs that clasp him with her dress, They wander whispering by the wave; And haply now, in some sea-cave, Where the ribb'd sand is rarely trod, They laugh, they kiss, Oh, God! oh, God! There comes a smile acutely sweet Out of the picturing dark; I meet The ancient frankness of her gaze, That soft and heart-surprising blaze Of great goodwill and innocence. And perfect joy proceeding thence! Ah! made for earth's delight, yet such The mid-sea air's too gross to touch. At thought of which, the soul in me Is as the bird that bites a bee, And darts abroad on frantic wing, Tasting the honey and the sting; And, moaning where all round me sleep Amidst the moaning of the deep, I start at midnight from my bed— And have no right to strike him dead. What world is this that I am in, Where chance turns sanctity to sin! 'Tis crime henceforward to desire The only good; the sacred fire That sunn'd the universe is hell! I hear a Voice which argues well: 'The Heaven hard has scorn'd your cry; Fall down and worship me, and I Will give you peace; go and profane This pangful love, so pure, so vain. And thereby win forgetfulness And pardon of the spirit's excess, Which soar'd too nigh that jealous Heaven Ever, save thus, to be forgiven. No Gospel has come down that cures With better gain a loss like yours. Be pious! Give the beggar pelf, And love your neighbour as yourself! You, who yet love, though all is o'er, And she'll ne'er be your neighbour more, With soul which can in pity smile That aught with such a measure vile As self should be at all named "love!" Your sanctity the priests reprove; Your case of grief they wholly miss; The Man of Sorrows names not this. The years, they say, graft love divine On the lopp'd stock of love like thine; The wild tree dies not, but converts. So be it; but the lopping hurts, The graft takes tardily! Men stanch Meantime with earth the bleeding branch. There's nothing heals one woman's loss, And lightens life's eternal cross With intermission of sound rest, Like lying in another's breast. The cure is, to your thinking, low! Is not life all, henceforward, so?' Ill Voice, at least thou calm'st my mood: I'll sleep! But, as I thus conclude, The intrusions of her grace dispel The comfortable glooms of hell. A wonder! Ere these lines were dried, Vaughan and my Love, his three-days' Bride, Became my guests. I look'd, and, lo, In beauty soft as is the snow And powerful as the avalanche, She lit the deck. The Heav'n-sent chance! She smiled, surprised. They came to see The ship, not thinking to meet me. At infinite distance she's my day: What then to him? Howbeit they say 'Tis not so sunny in the sun But men might live cool lives thereon! All's well; for I have seen arise That reflex sweetness of her eyes In his, and watch'd his breath defer Humbly its bated life to her, His wife. My Love, she's safe in his Devotion! What ask'd I but this? They bade adieu; I saw them go Across the sea; and now I know The ultimate hope I rested on, The hope beyond the grave, is gone, The hope that, in the heavens high, At last it should appear that I Loved most, and so, by claim divine, Should have her, in the heavens, for mine, According to such nuptial sort As may subsist in the holy court, Where, if there are all kinds of joys To exhaust the multitude of choice In many mansions, then there are Loves personal and particular, Conspicuous in the glorious sky Of universal charity, As Phosphor in the sunrise. Now I've seen them, I believe their vow Immortal; and the dreadful thought, That he less honour'd than he ought Her sanctity, is laid to rest, And blessing them I too am blest. My goodwill, as a springing air, Unclouds a beauty in despair; I stand beneath the sky's pure cope Unburthen'd even by a hope; And peace unspeakable, a joy Which hope would deaden and destroy, Like sunshine fills the airy gulf Left by the vanishing of self. That I have known her; that she moves Somewhere all-graceful; that she loves, And is belov'd, and that she's so Most happy, and to heaven will go, Where I may meet with her, (yet this I count but accidental bliss,) And that the full, celestial weal Of all shall sensitively feel The partnership and work of each, And thus my love and labour reach Her region, there the more to bless Her last, consummate happiness, Is guerdon up to the degree Of that alone true loyalty Which, sacrificing, is not nice About the terms of sacrifice, But offers all, with smiles that say, 'Tis little, but it is for aye!


You wanted her, my Son, for wife, With the fierce need of life in life. That nobler passion of an hour Was rather prophecy than power; And nature, from such stress unbent, Recurs to deep discouragement. Trust not such peace yet; easy breath, In hot diseases, argues death; And tastelessness within the mouth Worse fever shows than heat or drouth. Wherefore take, Frederick, timely fear Against a different danger near: Wed not one woman, oh, my Child, Because another has not smiled! Oft, with a disappointed man, The first who cares to win him can; For, after love's heroic strain, Which tired the heart and brought no gain. He feels consoled, relieved, and eased To meet with her who can be pleased To proffer kindness, amid compute His acquiescence for pursuit; Who troubles not his lonely mood; And asks for love mere gratitude. Ah, desperate folly! Yet, we know, Who wed through love wed mostly so. At least, my Son, when wed you do, See that the woman equals you, Nor rush, from having loved too high, Into a worse humility. A poor estate's a foolish plea For marrying to a base degree. A woman grown cannot be train'd, Or, if she could, no love were gain'd; For, never was a man's heart caught By graces he himself had taught. And fancy not 'tis in the might Of man to do without delight; For, should you in her nothing find To exhilarate the higher mind, Your soul would deaden useless wings With wickedness of lawful things, And vampire pleasure swift destroy Even the memory of joy. So let no man, in desperate mood, Wed a dull girl because she's good. All virtues in his wife soon dim, Except the power of pleasing him, Which may small virtue be, or none! I know my just and tender Son, To whom the dangerous grace is given That scorns a good which is not heaven; My Child, who used to sit and sigh Under the bright, ideal sky, And pass, to spare the farmer's wheat, The poppy and the meadow-sweet! He would not let his wife's heart ache For what was mainly his mistake; But, having err'd so, all his force Would fix upon the hard, right course. She's graceless, say, yet good and true, And therefore inly fair, and, through The veils which inward beauty fold, Faith can her loveliness behold. Ah, that's soon tired; faith falls away Without the ceremonial stay Of outward loveliness and awe. The weightier matters of the law She pays: mere mint and cumin not; And, in the road that she was taught, She treads, and takes for granted still Nature's immedicable ill; So never wears within her eyes A false report of paradise, Nor ever modulates her mirth With vain compassion of the earth, Which made a certain happier face Affecting, and a gayer grace With pathos delicately edged! Yet, though she be not privileged To unlock for you your heart's delight, (Her keys being gold, but not the right,) On lower levels she may do! Her joy is more in loving you Than being loved, and she commands All tenderness she understands. It is but when you proffer more The yoke weighs heavy and chafes sore. It's weary work enforcing love On one who has enough thereof, And honour on the lowlihead Of ignorance! Besides, you dread, In Leah's arms, to meet the eyes Of Rachel, somewhere in the skies, And both return, alike relieved, To life less loftily conceived. Alas, alas! Then wait the mood In which a woman may be woo'd Whose thoughts and habits are too high For honour to be flattery, And who would surely not allow The suit that you could proffer now. Her equal yoke would sit with ease; It might, with wearing, even please, (Not with a better word to move The loyal wrath of present love); She would not mope when you were gay, For want of knowing aught to say; Nor vex you with unhandsome waste Of thoughts ill-timed and words ill-placed; Nor reckon small things duties small, And your fine sense fantastical; Nor would she bring you up a brood Of strangers bound to you by blood, Boys of a meaner moral race, Girls with their mother's evil grace. But not her chance to sometimes find Her critic past his judgment kind; Nor, unaccustom'd to respect, Which men, where 'tis not claim'd, neglect, Confirm you selfish and morose, And slowly, by contagion, gross; But, glad and able to receive The honour you would long to give, Would hasten on to justify Expectancy, however high, Whilst you would happily incur Compulsion to keep up with her.


Your letter, Mother, bears the date Of six months back, and comes too late. My Love, past all conceiving lost, A change seem'd good, at any cost, From lonely, stupid, silent grief, Vain, objectless, beyond relief, And, like a sea-fog, settled dense On fancy, feeling, thought, and sense. I grew so idle, so despised Myself, my powers, by Her unprized, Honouring my post, but nothing more, And lying, when I lived on shore, So late of mornings: weak tears stream'd For such slight came,—if only gleam'd, Remotely, beautifully bright, On clouded eves at sea, the light Of English headlands in the sun,— That soon I deem'd 'twere better done To lay this poor, complaining wraith Of unreciprocated faith: And so, with heart still bleeding quick. But strengthen'd by the comfort sick Of knowing that She could not care, I turn'd away from my despair, And told our chaplain's daughter, Jane,— A dear, good girl, who saw my pain, And look'd as if she pitied me,— How glad and thankful I should be If some kind woman, not above Myself in rank, would give her love To one that knew not how to woo. Whereat she, without more ado, Blush'd, spoke of love return'd, and closed With what I meant to have proposed. And, trust me, Mother, I and Jane, We suit each other well. My gain Is very great in this good Wife, To whom I'm bound, for natural life, By hearty faith, yet crossing not My faith towards—I know not what! As to the ether is the air, Is her good to Honoria's fair; One place is full of both, yet each Lies quite beyond the other's reach And recognition. If you say, Am I contented? Yea and nay! For what's base but content to grow With less good than the best we know? But think me not from life withdrawn. By passion for a hope that's gone, So far as to forget how much A woman is, as merely such, To man's affection. What is best, In each, belongs to all the rest; And though, in marriage, quite to kiss And half to love the custom is, 'Tis such dishonour, ruin bare, The soul's interior despair, And life between two troubles toss'd, To me, who think not with the most; Whatever 'twould have been, before My Cousin's time, 'tis now so sore A treason to the abiding throne Of that sweet love which I have known, I cannot live so, and I bend My mind perforce to comprehend That He who gives command to love Does not require a thing above The strength He gives. The highest degree Of the hardest grace, humility; The step t'ward heaven the latest trod, And that which makes us most like God, And us much more than God behoves, Is, to be humble in our loves. Henceforth for ever therefore I Renounce all partiality Of passion. Subject to control Of that perspective of the soul Which God Himself pronounces good. Confirming claims of neighbourhood. And giving man, for earthly life, The closest neighbour in a wife, I'll serve all. Jane be munch more dear Than all as she is much more near! I'll love her! Yea, and love's joy comes Ever from self-love's martyrdoms! Yet, not to lie for God, 'tis true That 'twas another joy I knew When freighted was my heart with fire Of fond, irrational desire For fascinating, female charms, And hopeless heaven in Her mild arms. Nor wrong I any, if I profess That care for heaven with me were less But that I'm utterly imbued With faith of all Earth's hope renew'd In realms where no short-coming pains Expectance, and dear love disdains Time's treason, and the gathering dross, And lasts for ever in the gloss Of newness. All the bright past seems, Now, but a splendour in my dreams, Which shows, albeit the dreamer wakes, The standard of right life. Life aches To be therewith conform'd; but, oh, The world's so stolid, dark, and low! That and the mortal element Forbid the beautiful intent, And, like the unborn butterfly, It feels the wings, and wants the sky. But perilous is the lofty mood Which cannot yoke with lowly good. Right life, for me, is life that wends By lowly ways to lofty ends. I will perceive, at length, that haste T'ward heaven itself is only waste; And thus I dread the impatient spur Of aught that speaks too plain of Her. There's little here that story tells; But music talks of nothing else. Therefore, when music breathes, I say, (And urge my task,) Away, away! Thou art the voice of one I knew, But what thou say'st is not yet true; Thou art the voice of her I loved, And I would not be vainly moved. So that which did from death set free All things, now dons death's mockery, And takes its place with tunings that are But little noted. Do not mar For me your peace! My health is high. The proud possession of mine eye Departed, I am much like one Who had by haughty custom grown To think gilt rooms, and spacious grounds, Horses, and carriages, and hounds. Fine linen, and an eider bed As much his need as daily bread, And honour of men as much or more. Till, strange misfortune smiting sore, His pride all goes to pay his debts, A lodging anywhere he gets, And takes his family thereto Weeping, and other relics few, Allow'd, by them that seize his pelf, As precious only to himself. Yet the sun shines; the country green Has many riches, poorly seen From blazon'd coaches; grace at meat Goes well with thrift in what they eat; And there's amends for much bereft In better thanks for much that's left! Jane is not fair, yet pleases well The eye in which no others dwell; And features somewhat plainly set, And homely manners leave her yet The crowning boon and most express Of Heaven's inventive tenderness, A woman. But I do her wrong, Letting the world's eyes guide my tongue! She has a handsomeness that pays No homage to the hourly gaze, And dwells not on the arch'd brow's height And lids which softly lodge the light, Nor in the pure field of the cheek Flow'rs, though the soul be still to seek; But shows as fits that solemn place Whereof the window is the face: Blankness and leaden outlines mark What time the Church within is dark: Yet view it on a Festal night, Or some occasion else for light, And each ungainly line is seen A special character to mean Of Saint or Prophet, and the whole Blank window is a living scroll. For hours, the clock upon the shelf, Has all the talking to itself; But to and fro her needle runs Twice, while the clock is ticking once; And, when a wife is well in reach, Not silence separates, but speech; And I, contented, read, or smoke, And idly think, or idly stroke The winking cat, or watch the fire, In social peace that does not tire; Until, at easeful end of day, She moves, and puts her work away, And, saying 'How cold 'tis,' or 'How warm,' Or something else as little harm, Comes, used to finding, kindly press'd, A woman's welcome to my breast, With all the great advantage clear Of none else having been so near. But sometimes, (how shall I deny!) There falls, with her thus fondly by, Dejection, and a chilling shade. Remember'd pleasures, as they fade, Salute me, and colossal grow, Like foot-prints in the thawing snow. I feel oppress'd beyond my force With foolish envy and remorse. I love this woman, but I might Have loved some else with more delight; And strange it seems of God that He Should make a vain capacity. Such times of ignorant relapse, 'Tis well she does not talk, perhaps. The dream, the discontent, the doubt, To some injustice flaming out, Were't else, might leave us both to moan A kind tradition overthrown, And dawning promise once more dead In the pernicious lowlihead Of not aspiring to be fair. And what am I, that I should dare Dispute with God, who moulds one clay To honour and shame, and wills to pay With equal wages them that delve About His vines one hour or twelve!


I've dreadful news, my Sister dear! Frederick has married, as we hear, Oh, such a girl! This fact we get From Mr. Barton, whom we met At Abury once. He used to know, At Race and Hunt, Lord Clitheroe, And writes that he 'has seen Fred Graham, Commander of the Wolf,—the same The Mess call'd Joseph,—with his Wife Under his arm.' He 'lays his life, The fellow married her for love, For there was nothing else to move. H is her Shibboleth. 'Tis said Her Mother was a Kitchen-Maid.' Poor Fred! What will Honoria say? She thought so highly of him. Pray Tell it her gently. I've no right, I know you hold, to trust my sight; But Frederick's state could not be hid! Awl Felix, coming when he did, Was lucky; for Honoria, too, Was half in love. How warm she grew On 'worldliness,' when once I said I fancied that, in ladies, Fred Had tastes much better than his means! His hand was worthy of a Queen's, Said she, and actually shed tears The night he left us for two years, And sobb'd, when ask'd the cause to tell, That 'Frederick look'd so miserable.' He did look very dull, no doubt, But such things girls don't cry about. What weathercocks men always prove! You're quite right not to fall in love. I never did, and, truth to tell, I don't think it respectable. The man can't understand it, too. He likes to be in love with you, But scarce knows how, if you love him, Poor fellow. When 'tis woman's whim To serve her husband night and day, The kind soul lets her have her way! So, if you wed, as soon you should, Be selfish for your husband's good. Happy the men who relegate Their pleasures, vanities, and state To us. Their nature seems to be To enjoy themselves by deputy, For, seeking their own benefit, Dear, what a mess they make of it! A man will work his bones away, If but his wife will only play; He does not mind how much he's teased, So that his plague looks always pleased; And never thanks her, while he lives, For anything, but what he gives! 'Tis hard to manage men, we hear! Believe me, nothing's easier, Dear. The most important step by far Is finding what their colours are. The next is, not to let them know The reason why they love us so. The indolent droop of a blue shawl, Or gray silk's fluctuating fall, Covers the multitude of sins In me. Your husband, Love, might wince At azure, and be wild at slate, And yet do well with chocolate. Of course you'd let him fancy he Adored you for your piety.


Dear Mother, as you write, I see How glad and thankful I should be For such a husband. Yet to tell The truth, I am so miserable! How could he—I remember, though, He never said me loved me! No, He is so right that all seems wrong I've done and thought my whole life long! I'm grown so dull and dead with fear That Yes and No, when he is near, Is all I have to say. He's quite Unlike what most would call polite, And yet, when first I saw him come To tea in Aunt's fine drawing-room, He made me feel so common! Oh, How dreadful if he thinks me so! It's no use trying to behave To him. His eye, so kind and grave, Sees through and through me! Could not you, Without his knowing that I knew, Ask him to scold me now and then? Mother, it's such a weary strain The way he has of treating me As if 'twas something fine to be A woman; and appearing not To notice any faults I've got! I know he knows I'm plain, and small, Stupid and ignorant, and all Awkward and mean; and, by degrees, I see a beauty which he sees, When often he looks strange awhile, Then recollects me with a smile. I wish he had that fancied Wife, With me for Maid, now! all my life To dress her out for him, and make Her looks the lovelier for his sake; To have her rate me till I cried; Then see her seated by his side, And driven off proudly to the Ball; Then to stay up for her, whilst all The servants were asleep; and hear At dawn the carriage rolling near, And let them in; and hear her laugh, And boast, he said that none was half So beautiful, and that the Queen, Who danced with him the first, had seen And noticed her, and ask'd who was That lady in the golden gauze? And then to go to bed, and lie In a sort of heavenly jealousy, Until 'twas broad day, and I guess'd She slept, nor knew how she was bless'd. Pray burn this letter. I would not Complain, but for the fear I've got Of going wild, as we hear tell Of people shut up in a cell, With no one there to talk to. He Must never know he is loved by me The most; he'd think himself to blame; And I should almost die for shame. If being good would serve instead Of being graceful, ah, then, Fred— But I, myself, I never could See what's in women's being good; For all their goodness is to do Just what their nature tells them to. Now, when a man would do what's right, He has to try with all his might. Though true and kind in deed and word, Fred's not a vessel of the Lord. But I have hopes of him; for, oh, How can we ever surely know But that the very darkest place May be the scene of saving grace!


'How did I feel?' The little wight Fill'd me, unfatherly, with fright! So grim it gazed, and, out of the sky, There came, minute, remote, the cry, Piercing, of original pain. I put the wonder back to Jane, And her delight seem'd dash'd, that I, Of strangers still by nature shy, Was not familiar quite so soon With her small friend of many a moon. But, when the new-made Mother smiled, She seem'd herself a little child, Dwelling at large beyond the law By which, till then, I judged and saw; And that fond glow which she felt stir For it, suffused my heart for her; To whom, from the weak babe, and thence To me, an influent innocence, Happy, reparative of life, Came, and she was indeed my wife, As there, lovely with love she lay, Brightly contented all the day To hug her sleepy little boy, In the reciprocated joy Of touch, the childish sense of love, Ever inquisitive to prove Its strange possession, and to know If the eye's report be really so.


Dear Mother,—such if you'll allow, In love, not law, I'll call you now,— I hope you're well. I write to say Frederick has got, besides his pay, A good appointment in the Docks; Also to thank you for the frocks And shoes for Baby. I, (D.V.,) Shall soon be strong. Fred goes to sea No more. I am so glad; because, Though kinder husband never was, He seems still kinder to become The more he stays with me at home. When we are parted, I see plain He's dull till he gets used again To marriage. Do not tell him, though; I would not have him know I know, For all the world. I try to mind All your advice; but sometimes find I do not well see how. I thought To take it about dress; so bought A gay new bonnet, gown, and shawl; But Frederick was not pleased at all; For, though he smiled, and said, 'How smart!' I feel, you know, what's in his heart. But I shall learn! I fancied long That care in dress was very wrong, Till Frederick, in his startling way, When I began to blame, one day, The Admiral's Wife, because we hear She spends two hours, or something near, In dressing, took her part, and said How all things deck themselves that wed; How birds and plants grow fine to please Each other in their marriages; And how (which certainly is true— It never struck me—did it you?) Dress was, at first, Heaven's ordinance, And has much Scripture countenance. For Eliezer, we are told, Adorn'd with jewels and with gold Rebecca. In the Psalms, again, How the King's Daughter dress'd! And, then, The Good Wife in the Proverbs, she Made herself clothes of tapestry, Purple and silk: and there's much more I had not thought about before! But Fred's so clever! Do you know, Since Baby came, he loves me so! I'm really useful, now, to Fred; And none could do so well instead. It's nice to fancy, if I died, He'd miss me from the Darling's side! Also, there's something now, you see, On which we talk, and quite agree; On which, without pride too, I can Hope I'm as wise as any man. I should be happy now, if quite Sure that in one thing Fred was right. But, though I trust his prayers are said, Because he goes so late to bed, I doubt his Calling. Glad to find A text adapted to his mind,— That where St. Paul, in Man and Wife, Allows a little worldly life,— He smiled, and said that he knew all Such things as that without St. Paul! And once he said, when I with pain Had got him just to read Romaine, 'Men's creeds should not their hopes condemn. Who wait for heaven to come to them Are little like to go to heaven, If logic's not the devil's leaven!' I cried at such a wicked joke, And he, surprised, went out to smoke. But to judge him is not for me, Who myself sin so dreadfully As half to doubt if I should care To go to heaven, and he not there. He must be right; and I dare say I shall soon understand his way. To other things, once strange, I've grown Accustom'd, nay, to like. I own 'Twas long before I got well used To sit, while Frederick read or mused For hours, and scarcely spoke. When he, For all that, held the door to me, Pick'd up my handkerchief, and rose To set my chair, with other shows Of honour, such as men, 'tis true, To sweethearts and fine ladies do, It almost seem'd an unkind jest; But now I like these ways the best. They somehow make me gentle and good; And I don't mind his quiet mood. If Frederick does seem dull awhile, There's Baby. You should see him smile! I'm pretty and nice to him, sweet Pet, And he will learn no better yet: Indeed, now little Johnny makes A busier time of it, and takes Our thoughts off one another more, In happy as need be, I'm sure!


Let me, Beloved, while gratitude Is garrulous with coming good, Or ere the tongue of happiness Be silenced by your soft caress, Relate how, musing here of you, The clouds, the intermediate blue, The air that rings with larks, the grave And distant rumour of the wave, The solitary sailing skiff, The gusty corn-field on the cliff, The corn-flower by the crumbling ledge, Or, far-down at the shingle's edge, The sighing sea's recurrent crest Breaking, resign'd to its unrest, All whisper, to my home-sick thought, Of charms in you till now uncaught, Or only caught as dreams, to die Ere they were own'd by memory. High and ingenious Decree Of joy-devising Deity! You whose ambition only is The assurance that you make my bliss, (Hence my first debt of love to show, That you, past showing indeed do so!) Trust me the world, the firmament, With diverse-natured worlds besprent, Were rear'd in no mere undivine Boast of omnipotent design, The lion differing from the snake But for the trick of difference sake, And comets darting to and fro Because in circles planets go; But rather that sole love might be Refresh'd throughout eternity In one sweet faith, for ever strange, Mirror'd by circumstantial change. For, more and more, do I perceive That everything is relative To you, and that there's not a star, Nor nothing in't, so strange or far, But, if 'twere scanned, 'twould chiefly mean Somewhat, till then, in you unseen, Something to make the bondage strait Of you and me more intimate, Some unguess'd opportunity Of nuptials in a new degree. But, oh, with what a novel force Your best-conn'd beauties, by remorse Of absence, touch; and, in my heart, How bleeds afresh the youthful smart Of passion fond, despairing still To utter infinite goodwill By worthy service! Yet I know That love is all that love can owe, And this to offer is no less Of worth, in kind speech or caress, Than if my life-blood I should give. For good is God's prerogative, And Love's deed is but to prepare The flatter'd, dear Belov'd to dare Acceptance of His gifts. When first On me your happy beauty burst, Honoria, verily it seem'd That naught beyond you could be dream'd Of beauty and of heaven's delight. Zeal of an unknown infinite Yet bade me ever wish you more Beatified than e'er before. Angelical, were your replies To my prophetic flatteries; And sweet was the compulsion strong That drew me in the course along Of heaven's increasing bright allure, With provocations fresh of your Victorious capacity. Whither may love, so fledged, not fly? Did not mere Earth hold fast the string Of this celestial soaring thing, So measure and make sensitive, And still, to the nerves, nice notice give Of each minutest increment Of such interminable ascent, The heart would lose all count, and beat Unconscious of a height so sweet, And the spirit-pursuing senses strain Their steps on the starry track in vain! But, reading now the note just come, With news of you, the babes, and home, I think, and say, 'To-morrow eve With kisses me will she receive;' And, thinking, for extreme delight Of love's extremes, I laugh outright.


Eight wedding-days gone by, and none Yet kept, to keep them all in one, Jane and myself, with John and Grace On donkeys, visited the place I first drew breath in, Knatchley Wood. Bearing the basket, stuff'd with food. Milk, loaves, hard eggs, and marmalade, I halted where the wandering glade Divides the thicket. There I knew, It seem'd, the very drops of dew Below the unalter'd eglantine. Nothing had changed since I was nine! In the green desert, down to eat We sat, our rustic grace at meat Good appetite, through that long climb Hungry two hours before the time. And there Jane took her stitching out, And John for birds'-nests pry'd about, And Grace and Baby, in between The warm blades of the breathing green, Dodged grasshoppers; and I no less, In conscientious idleness, Enjoy'd myself, under the noon Stretch'd, and the sounds and sights of June Receiving, with a drowsy charm, Through muffled ear and folded arm. And then, as if I sweetly dream'd, I half-remember'd how it seem'd When I, too, was a little child About the wild wood roving wild. Pure breezes from the far-off height Melted the blindness from my sight, Until, with rapture, grief, and awe, I saw again as then I saw. As then I saw, I saw again The harvest-waggon in the lane, With high-hung tokens of its pride Left in the elms on either side; The daisies coming out at dawn In constellations on the lawn; The glory of the daffodil; The three black windmills on the hill, Whose magic arms, flung wildly by, Sent magic shadows o'er the rye. Within the leafy coppice, lo, More wealth than miser's dreams could show, The blackbird's warm and woolly brood, Five golden beaks agape for food; The Gipsies, all the summer seen Native as poppies to the Green; The winter, with its frosts and thaws And opulence of hips and haws: The lovely marvel of the snow; The Tamar, with its altering show Of gay ships sailing up and down, Among the fields and by the Town; And, dearer far than anything, Came back the songs you used to sing. (Ah, might you sing such songs again, And I, your child, but hear as then, With conscious profit of the gulf Flown over from my present self!) And, as to men's retreating eyes, Beyond high mountains higher rise, Still farther back there shone to me The dazzling dusk of infancy. Thither I look'd, as, sick of night, The Alpine shepherd looks to the height, And does not see the day, 'tis true, But sees the rosy tops that do. Meantime Jane stitch'd, and fann'd the flies From my repose, with hush'd replies To Grace, and smiles when Baby fell. Her countenance love visible Appear'd, love audible her voice. Why in the past alone rejoice, Whilst here was wealth before me cast Which, I could feel, if 'twere but past Were then most precious? Question vain, When ask'd again and yet again, Year after year; yet now, for no Cause, but that heaven's bright winds will blow Not at our pray'r but as they list, It brought that distant, golden mist To grace the hour, firing the deep Of spirit and the drowsy keep Of joy, till, spreading uncontain'd, The holy power of seeing gained The outward eye, this owning even That where there's love and truth there's heaven. Debtor to few, forgotten hours Am I, that truths for me are powers. Ah, happy hours, 'tis something yet Not to forget that I forget! And now a cloud, bright, huge and calm, Rose, doubtful if for bale or balm; O'ertoppling towers and bulwarks bright Appear'd, at beck of viewless might. Along a rifted mountain range. Untraceable and swift in change, Those glittering peaks, disrupted, spread To solemn bulks, seen overhead; The sunshine quench'd, from one dark form Fumed the appalling light of storm. Straight to the zenith, black with bale, The Gipsies' smoke rose deadly pale; And one wide night of hopeless hue Hid from the heart the recent blue. And soon, with thunder crackling loud, A flash reveal'd the formless cloud: Lone sailing rack, far wavering rim, And billowy tracts of stormland dim. We stood, safe group'd beneath a shed. Grace hid behind Jane's gown for dread, Who told her, fondling with her hair, 'The naughty noise! but God took care Of all good girls.' John seem'd to me Too much for Jane's theology, Who bade him watch the tempest. Now A blast made all the woodland bow; Against the whirl of leaves and dust Kine dropp'd their heads; the tortured gust Jagg'd and convuls'd the ascending smoke To mockery of the lightning's stroke. The blood prick'd, and a blinding flash And close coinstantaneous crash Humbled the soul, and the rain all round Resilient dimm'd the whistling ground, Nor flagg'd in force from first to last, Till, sudden as it came, 'twas past, Leaving a trouble in the copse Of brawling birds and tinkling drops. Change beyond hope! Far thunder faint Mutter'd its vast and vain complaint, And gaps and fractures, fringed with light, Show'd the sweet skies, with squadrons bright Of cloudlets, glittering calm and fair Through gulfs of calm and glittering air. With this adventure, we return'd. The roads the feet no longer burn'd. A wholesome smell of rainy earth Refresh'd our spirits, tired of mirth. The donkey-boy drew friendly near My Wife, and, touch'd by the kind cheer Her countenance show'd, or sooth'd perchance By the soft evening's sad advance, As we were, stroked the flanks and head Of the ass, and, somewhat thick-voiced, said, 'To 'ave to wop the donkeys so 'Ardens the 'art, but they won't go Without!' My wife, by this impress'd, As men judge poets by their best, When now we reach'd the welcome door, Gave him his hire, and sixpence more.


Dear Mrs. Graham, the fever's past, And Fred is well. I, in my last, Forgot to say that, while 'twas on, A lady, call'd Honoria Vaughan, One of his Salisbury Cousins, came. Had I, she ask'd me, heard her name? 'Twas that Honoria, no doubt, Whom he would sometimes talk about And speak to, when his nights were bad, And so I told her that I had. She look'd so beautiful and kind! And just the sort of wife my mind Pictured for Fred, with many tears, In those sad early married years. Visiting, yesterday, she said, The Admiral's Wife, she learn'd that Fred Was very ill; she begg'd to be, If possible, of use to me. What could she do? Last year, his Aunt Died, leaving her, who had no want, Her fortune. Half was his, she thought; But he, she knew, would not be brought To take his rights at second hand. Yet something might, she hoped, be plann'd. What did I think of putting John To school and college? Mr. Vaughan, When John was old enough, could give Preferment to her relative; And she should be so pleased.—I said I felt quite sure that dearest Fred Would be most thankful. Would we come, And make ourselves, she ask'd, at home, Next month, at High-Hurst? Change of air Both he and I should need, and there At leisure we could talk, and then Fix plans, as John was nearly ten. It seemed so rude to think and doubt, So I said, Yes. In going out, She said, 'How strange of Frederick, Dear,' (I wish he had been there to hear,) 'To send no cards, or tell me what A nice new Cousin I had got!' Was not that kind? When Fred grew strong, I had, I found, done very wrong. Anger was in his voice and eye. With people born and bred so high As Fred and Mrs. Vaughan and you, It's hard to guess what's right to do; And he won't teach me! Dear Fred wrote, Directly, such a lovely note, Which, though it undid all I had done, Was, both to me and Mrs. Vaughan, So kind! His words. I can't say why, Like soldiers' music, made me cry.



Thank Heaven, the burthens on the heart Are not half known till they depart! Although I long'd, for many a year, To love with love that casts out fear, My Frederick's kindness frighten'd me, And heaven seem'd less far off than he; And in my fancy I would trace A lady with an angel's face, That made devotion simply debt, Till sick with envy and regret, And wicked grief that God should e'er Make women, and not make them fair. That me might love me more because Another in his memory was, And that my indigence might be To him what Baby's was to me, The chief of charms, who could have thought? But God's wise way is to give nought Till we with asking it are tired; And when, indeed, the change desired Comes, lest we give ourselves the praise, It comes by Providence, not Grace; And mostly our thanks for granted pray'rs Are groans at unexpected cares, First Baby went to heaven, you know, And, five weeks after, Grace went, too, Then he became more talkative, And, stooping to my heart, would give Signs of his love, which pleased me more Than all the proofs he gave before; And, in that time of our great grief, We talk'd religion for relief; For, though we very seldom name Religion, we now think the same! Oh, what a bar is thus removed To loving and to being loved! For no agreement really is In anything when none's in this. Why, Mother, once, if Frederick press'd His wife against his hearty breast, The interior difference seem'd to tear My own, until I could not bear The trouble. 'Twas a dreadful strife, And show'd, indeed, that faith is life. He never felt this. If he did, I'm sure it could not have been hid; For wives, I need not say to you, Can feel just what their husbands do, Without a word or look; but then It is not so, you know, with men. From that time many a Scripture text Help'd me, which had, before, perplex'd. Oh, what a wond'rous word seem'd this He is my head, as Christ is his! None ever could have dared to see In marriage such a dignity For man, and for his wife, still less, Such happy, happy lowliness, Had God himself not made it plain! This revelation lays the rein— If I may speak so—on the neck Of a wife's love, takes thence the check Of conscience, and forbids to doubt Its measure is to be without All measure, and a fond excess Is here her rule of godliness. I took him not for love but fright; He did but ask a dreadful right. In this was love, that he loved me The first, who was mere poverty. All that I know of love he taught; And love is all I know of aught. My merit is so small by his, That my demerit is my bliss. My life is hid with him in Christ, Never therefrom to be enticed; And in his strength have I such rest As when the baby on my breast Finds what it knows not how to seek, And, very happy, very weak, Lies, only knowing all is well, Pillow'd on kindness palpable.


Dear Saint, I'm still at High-Hurst Park. The house is fill'd with folks of mark. Honoria suits a good estate Much better than I hoped. How fate Loads her with happiness and pride! And such a loving lord, beside! But between us, Sweet, everything Has limits, and to build a wing To this old house, when Courtholm stands Empty upon his Berkshire lands, And all that Honor might be near Papa, was buying love too dear. With twenty others, there are two Guests here, whose names will startle you: Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Graham! I thought he stay'd away for shame. He and his wife were ask'd, you know, And would not come, four years ago. You recollect Miss Smythe found out Who she had been, and all about Her people at the Powder-mill; And how the fine Aunt tried to instil Haut ton, and how, at last poor Jane Had got so shy and gauche that, when The Dockyard gentry came to sup, She always had to be lock'd up; And some one wrote to us and said Her mother was a kitchen-maid. Dear Mary, you'll be charm'd to know It must be all a fib. But, oh, She is the oddest little Pet On which my eyes were ever set! She's so outree and natural That, when she first arrived, we all Wonder'd, as when a robin comes In through the window to eat crumbs At breakfast with us. She has sense, Humility, and confidence; And, save in dressing just a thought Gayer in colours than she ought, (To-day she looks a cross between Gipsy and Fairy, red and green,) She always happens to do well. And yet one never quite can tell What she might do or utter next. Lord Clitheroe is much perplex'd. Her husband, every now and then, Looks nervous; all the other men Are charm'd. Yet she has neither grace, Nor one good feature in her face. Her eyes, indeed, flame in her head, Like very altar-fires to Fred, Whose steps she follows everywhere Like a tame duck, to the despair Of Colonel Holmes, who does his part To break her funny little heart. Honor's enchanted. 'Tis her view That people, if they're good and true, And treated well, and let alone, Will kindly take to what's their own, And always be original, Like children. Honor's just like all The rest of us! But, thinking so, 'Tis well she miss'd Lord Clitheroe, Who hates originality, Though he puts up with it in me. Poor Mrs. Graham has never been To the Opera! You should have seen The innocent way she told the Earl She thought Plays sinful when a girl, And now she never had a chance! Frederick's complacent smile and glance Towards her, show'd me, past a doubt, Honoria had been quite cut out. 'Tis very strange; for Mrs. Graham, Though Frederick's fancy none can blame, Seems the last woman you'd have thought Her lover would have ever sought. She never reads, I find, nor goes Anywhere; so that I suppose She got at all she ever knew By growing up, as kittens do. Talking of kittens, by-the-bye, You have more influence than I With dear Honoria. Get her, Dear, To be a little more severe With those sweet Children. They've the run Of all the place. When school was done, Maud burst in, while the Earl was there, With 'Oh, Mama, do be a bear!' Do you know, Dear, this odd wife of Fred Adores his old Love in his stead! She is so nice, yet, I should say, Not quite the thing for every day. Wonders are wearying! Felix goes Next Sunday with her to the Close, And you will judge. Honoria asks All Wiltshire Belles here; Felix basks Like Puss in fire-shine, when the room Is thus aflame with female bloom. But then she smiles when most would pout; And so his lawless loves go out With the last brocade. 'Tis not the same, I fear, with Mrs. Frederick Graham. Honoria should not have her here,— And this you might just hint, my Dear,— For Felix says he never saw Such proof of what he holds for law, That 'beauty is love which can be seen.' Whatever he by this may mean, Were it not dreadful if he fell In love with her on principle!


Mother, I told you how, at first, I fear'd this visit to the Hurst. Fred must, I felt, be so distress'd By aught in me unlike the rest Who come here. But I find the place Delightful; there's such ease, and grace, And kindness, and all seem to be On such a high equality. They have not got to think, you know, How far to make the money go. But Frederick says it's less the expense Of money, than of sound good-sense, Quickness to care what others feel And thoughts with nothing to conceal; Which I'll teach Johnny. Mrs. Vaughan Was waiting for us on the Lawn, And kiss'd and call'd me 'Cousin.' Fred Neglected his old friends, she said. He laugh'd, and colour'd up at this. She was, you know, a flame of his; But I'm not jealous! Luncheon done, I left him, who had just begun To talk about the Russian War With an old Lady, Lady Carr,— A Countess, but I'm more afraid, A great deal, of the Lady's Maid,— And went with Mrs. Vaughan to see The pictures, which appear'd to be Of sorts of horses, clowns, and cows Call'd Wouvermans and Cuyps and Dows. And then she took me up, to show Her bedroom, where, long years ago, A Queen slept. 'Tis all tapestries Of Cupids, Gods, and Goddesses, And black, carved oak. A curtain'd door Leads thence into her soft Boudoir, Where even her husband may but come By favour. He, too, has his room, Kept sacred to his solitude. Did I not think the plan was good? She ask'd me; but I said how small Our house was, and that, after all, Though Frederick would not say his prayers At night till I was safe upstairs, I thought it wrong to be so shy Of being good when I was by. 'Oh, you should humour him!' she said, With her sweet voice and smile; and led The way to where the children ate Their dinner, and Miss Williams sate. She's only Nursery-Governess, Yet they consider her no less Than Lord or Lady Carr, or me. Just think how happy she must be! The Ball-Room, with its painted sky Where heavy angels seem to fly, Is a dull place; its size and gloom Make them prefer, for drawing-room, The Library, all done up new And comfortable, with a view Of Salisbury Spire between the boughs. When she had shown me through the house, (I wish I could have let her know That she herself was half the show; She is so handsome, and so kind!) She fetch'd the children, who had dined; And, taking one in either hand, Show'd me how all the grounds were plann'd. The lovely garden gently slopes To where a curious bridge of ropes Crosses the Avon to the Park. We rested by the stream, to mark The brown backs of the hovering trout. Frank tickled one, and took it out From under a stone. We saw his owls, And awkward Cochin-China fowls, And shaggy pony in the croft; And then he dragg'd us to a loft, Where pigeons, as he push'd the door, Fann'd clear a breadth of dusty floor, And set us coughing. I confess I trembled for my nice silk dress. I cannot think how Mrs. Vaughan Ventured with that which she had on,— A mere white wrapper, with a few Plain trimmings of a quiet blue, But, oh, so pretty! Then the bell For dinner rang. I look'd quite well ('Quite charming,' were the words Fred said,) With the new gown that I've had made I am so proud of Frederick. He's so high-bred and lordly-like With Mrs. Vaughan! He's not quite so At home with me; but that, you know, I can't expect, or wish. 'Twould hurt, And seem to mock at my desert. Not but that I'm a duteous wife To Fred; but, in another life, Where all are fair that have been true, I hope I shall be graceful too, Like Mrs. Vaughan. And, now, good-bye! That happy thought has made me cry, And feel half sorry that my cough, In this fine air, is leaving off.


Honoria, trebly fair and mild With added loves of lord and child, Is else unalter'd. Years, which wrong The rest, touch not her beauty, young Within youth which rather seems her clime, Than aught that's relative to time. How beyond hope was heard the prayer I offer'd in my love's despair! Could any, whilst there's any woe, Be wholly blest, then she were so. She is, and is aware of it, Her husband's endless benefit; But, though their daily ways reveal The depth of private joy they feel, 'Tis not their bearing each to each That does abroad their secret preach, But such a lovely good-intent To all within their government And friendship as, 'tis well discern'd, Each of the other must have learn'd; For no mere dues of neighbourhood Ever begot so blest a mood. And fair, indeed, should be the few God dowers with nothing else to do, And liberal of their light, and free To show themselves, that all may see! For alms let poor men poorly give The meat whereby men's bodies live; But they of wealth are stewards wise Whose graces are their charities. The sunny charm about this home Makes all to shine who thither come. My own dear Jane has caught its grace, And, honour'd, honours too the place. Across the lawn I lately walk'd Alone, and watch'd where mov'd and talk'd, Gentle and goddess-like of air, Honoria and some Stranger fair. I chose a path unblest by these; When one of the two Goddesses, With my Wife's voice, but softer, said, 'Will you not walk with us, dear Fred?' She moves, indeed, the modest peer Of all the proudest ladies here. Unawed she talks with men who stand Among the leaders of the land, And women beautiful and wise, With England's greatness in their eyes. To high, traditional good-sense, And knowledge ripe without pretence, And human truth exactly hit By quiet and conclusive wit, Listens my little, homely Jane, Mistakes the points and laughs amain; And, after, stands and combs her hair, And calls me much the wittiest there! With reckless loyalty, dear Wife, She lays herself about my life! The joy I might have had of yore I have not; for 'tis now no more, With me, the lyric time of youth, And sweet sensation of the truth. Yet, past my hope or purpose bless'd, In my chance choice let be confess'd The tenderer Providence that rules The fates of children and of fools! I kiss'd the kind, warm neck that slept, And from her side this morning stepp'd, To bathe my brain from drowsy night In the sharp air and golden light. The dew, like frost, was on the pane. The year begins, though fair, to wane. There is a fragrance in its breath Which is not of the flowers, but death; And green above the ground appear The lilies of another year. I wander'd forth, and took my path Among the bloomless aftermath; And heard the steadfast robin sing As if his own warm heart were Spring. And watch'd him feed where, on the yew, Hung honey'd drops of crimson dew; And then return'd, by walls of peach, And pear-trees bending to my reach, And rose-beds with the roses gone, To bright-laid breakfast. Mrs. Vaughan Was there, none with her. I confess I love her than of yore no less! But she alone was loved of old; Now love is twain, nay, manifold; For, somehow, he whose daily life Adjusts itself to one true wife, Grows to a nuptial, near degree With all that's fair and womanly. Therefore, as more than friends, we met, Without constraint, without regret; The wedded yoke that each had donn'd Seeming a sanction, not a bond.


Your love lacks joy, your letter says. Yes; love requires the focal space Of recollection or of hope, E'er it can measure its own scope. Too soon, too soon comes Death to show We love more deeply than we know! The rain, that fell upon the height Too gently to be call'd delight, Within the dark vale reappears As a wild cataract of tears; And love in life should strive to see Sometimes what love in death would be! Easier to love, we so should find. It is than to be just and kind. She's gone: shut close the coffin-lid: What distance for another did That death has done for her! The good Once gazed upon with heedless mood, Now fills with tears the famish'd eye, And turns all else to vanity. 'Tis sad to see, with death between, The good we have pass'd and have not seen! How strange appear the words of all! The looks of those that live appal. They are the ghosts, and check the breath: There's no reality but death, And hunger for some signal given That we shall have our own in heaven. But this the God of love lets be A horrible uncertainty. How great her smallest virtue seems, How small her greatest fault! Ill dreams Were those that foil'd with loftier grace The homely kindness of her face. 'Twas here she sat and work'd, and there She comb'd and kiss'd the children's hair; Or, with one baby at her breast, Another taught, or hush'd to rest. Praise does the heart no more refuse To the chief loveliness of use. Her humblest good is hence most high In the heavens of fond memory; And Love says Amen to the word, A prudent wife is from the Lord. Her worst gown's kept, ('tis now the best, As that in which she oftenest dress'd,) For memory's sake more precious grown Than she herself was for her own. Poor child! Foolish it seem'd to fly To sobs instead of dignity, When she was hurt. Now, none than all, Heart-rending and angelical That ignorance of what to do, Bewilder'd still by wrong from you: For what man ever yet had grace Ne'er to abuse his power and place? No magic of her voice or smile Suddenly raised a fairy isle, But fondness for her underwent An unregarded increment, Like that which lifts, through centuries, The coral-reef within the seas, Till, lo! the land where was the wave. Alas! 'tis everywhere her grave.


Dear Mother, I can surely tell, Now, that I never shall get well Besides the warning in my mind, All suddenly are grown so kind. Fred stopp'd the Doctor, yesterday, Downstairs, and, when he went away, Came smiling back, and sat with me, Pale, and conversing cheerfully About the Spring, and how my cough, In finer weather, would leave off. I saw it all, and told him plain I felt no hope of Spring again. Then he, after a word of jest, Burst into tears upon my breast, And own'd, when he could speak, he knew There was a little danger, too. This made me very weak and ill, And while, last night, I lay quite still, And, as he fancied, in the deep, Exhausted rest of my short sleep, I heard, or dream'd I heard him pray: 'Oh, Father, take her not away! Let not life's dear assurance lapse Into death's agonised "Perhaps," A hope without Thy promise, where Less than assurance is despair! Give me some sign, if go she must, That death's not worse than dust to dust, Not heaven, on whose oblivious shore Joy I may have, but her no more! The bitterest cross, it seems to me, Of all is infidelity; And so, if I may choose, I'll miss The kind of heaven which comes to this. If doom'd, indeed, this fever ceased, To die out wholly, like a beast, Forgetting all life's ill success In dark and peaceful nothingness, I could but say, Thy will be done; For, dying thus, I were but one Of seed innumerable which ne'er In all the worlds shall bloom or bear. I've put life past to so poor use Well may'st Thou life to come refuse; And justice, which the spirit contents, Shall still in me all vain laments; Nay, pleased, I will, while yet I live, Think Thou my forfeit joy may'st give To some fresh life, else unelect, And heaven not feel my poor defect! Only let not Thy method be To make that life, and call it me; Still less to sever mine in twain, And tell each half to live again, And count itself the whole! To die, Is it love's disintegrity? Answer me, "No," and I, with grace, Will life's brief desolation face, My ways, as native to the clime, Adjusting to the wintry time, Ev'n with a patient cheer thereof—' He started up, hearing me cough. Oh, Mother, now my last doubt's gone! He likes me more than Mrs. Vaughan; And death, which takes me from his side, Shows me, in very deed, his bride!

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