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XX.

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

XXI.

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

XXII.

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

PART V.-GRACE.

I.

AMONG the guests who often stayed
Till the Devil's petits-soupers,
A man there came, fair as a maid;
And Peter noted what he said,
Standing behind his master's chair.

II.

He was a mighty poet and

A subtle-souled psychologist;

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

But his own mind, which was a mist.

III.

This was a man who might have turned
Hell into Heaven-and so in gladness
A Heaven unto himself have earned:
But he in shadows undiscerned

Trusted, and damned himself to madness.

IV.

He spoke of poetry, and how

Divine it was “a light—a love— A spirit which like wind doth blow As it listeth, to and fro;

A dew rained down from God above;

V.

"A power which comes and goes like dream,

And which none can ever trace

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

Of those words upon his face.

VI.

Now Peter, when he heard such talk,
Would, heedless of a broken pate,
Stand like a man asleep, or baulk
Some wishing guest of knife or fork,
Or drop and break his master's plate.

VII.

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

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

VIII.

And on the universal sky

And the wide earth's bosom green,—

And the sweet strange mystery

Of what beyond these things may lie,

And yet remain unseen.

IX.

For in his thought he visited

The spots in which, ere dead and damned,

He his wayward life had led;

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

X.

And these obscure remembrances

Stirred such harmony in Peter,

VOL. II.

That, whensoever he should please,
He could speak of rocks and trees
In poetic metre.

XI.

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

He knew something of heath and fell.

XII.

He had also dim recollections

Of pedlars tramping on their rounds;
Milk-pans and pails; and odd collections
Of saws and proverbs; and reflections
Old parsons make in burying-grounds.

XIII.

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

It augured to the earth :

XIV.

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

XV.

For language was in Peter's hand

Like clay while he was yet a potter ;

And he made songs for all the land
Sweet both to feel and understand,

As pipkins late to mountain cotter.

[blocks in formation]

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

Peter (too proud of heart, I fear)

Instantly gave the Devil warning.

B

XVII.

Whereat the Devil took offence,

And swore in his soul a great oath then That for his damned impertinence He'd bring him to a proper sense

Of what was due to gentlemen!

PART VI.-DAMNATION.

I.

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

'Twas galling to be critic-bitten:

The Devil to Peter wished no worse.

II.

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

A copy of it slily sent,

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

III.

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

IV.

Another: "Let him shave his head.

Where's Dr. Willis?-Or is he joking?

What does the rascal mean or hope,

No longer imitating Pope,

In that barbarian Shakspeare poking?"

V.

One more: "Is incest not enough?

And must there be adultery too?

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

VI.

"By that last book of yours WE think

You've double-damned yourself to scorn; We warned you whilst yet on the brink You stood. From your black name will shrink The babe that is unborn."

VII.

All these Reviews the Devil made
Up in a parcel, which he had
Safely to Peter's house conveyed.
For carriage, ten-pence Peter paid-

Untied them-read them-went half mad.

VIII.

"What!” cried he, "this is my reward

For nights of thought, and days of toil?

Do poets, but to be abhorred

By men of whom they never heard,

Consume their spirits' oil?

IX.

"What have I done to them?—and who

Is Mrs. Foy? 'Tis very cruel

To speak of me and Betty so!
Adultery! God defend me! Oh!

I've half a mind to fight a duel.

X.

"Or," cried he, a grave look collecting,
"Is it my genius, like the moon,
Sets those who stand her face inspecting
That face within their brain reflecting,
Like a crazed bell-chime, out of tune ?

XI.

For Peter did not know the town;

But thought, as country readers do,

For half a guinea or a crown

He bought oblivion or renown

From God's own voice in a review.

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