I sing the strife maintain'd, by minist'ring powers|
Of Heaven and hell, for an immortal soul.
A dubious strife, alas! Since God permits
The fiends of darkness here at large to roam
Throughout this world, and fell dominion hold
O'er souls inveigled by their hellish arts;
While guardian angels, ling'ring still around,
Feel sorrow such as sons of Heaven may know.
And humbly of th' Eternal Throne I ask
That with beseeming awe and boldness join'd
I may address me to this lofty theme,
This theme of deepest import to mankind;
Lest with too-daring thought I should presume
Where none but purest spirits of bliss may look;
Or lest, through abject self-distrust, I fall
Below the height to which my strain aspires.
And for a mind I ask so purified
From dregs of grov'ling passion and of price,
That, when my song to angelic presence leads,
I quail not, conscience-stricken and abash'd;
And that unstain'd and scathless I may go
Where spirits of darkness evil council hold.
And thou, my Guardian Angel, deign to guide
My wand'ring fancy by thy heav'nly power;
And to its dreams such real semblance give
As Truth herself and Reason may approve.
Around Britannia's huge metropolis
A dreary winter's night had thrown its gloom;
When, in a lordly mansion, lights were seen
To cast, at intervals, quick transient gleams
Athwart the casements, as, with hurried step,
Its inmates trod the gall[e]ries [MS galliries] and halls.
A chariot halted sudden at the door;
And ere the vigorous rap could be renew'd,
'Twas open'd to the midnight visitant;
Whom to receive, the mansion's lord advanc'd
With pallid countenance and eager speech -
"Doctor, how anxiously for you I've look'd!
"Th' alarm will surely not again prove false" -
"Courage! Sir Charles" - the obstetric page replied,
"My Lady Ann, I trust, will prosper well.
"I thought this howling wind would call me forth.
"Methinks Lucina's jealous of our art,
"And oft, in anger, calls up storm and rain."
Straight, by a self-important fluent dame,
He to the patient's room was introduc'd.
She was a youthful wife who now first felt
The pains and perils that her sex await.
And she was gentle, beautiful and good;
The very idol of her husband's soul;
One form'd to prove, in hour of trial, the force
Of woman's fortitude and woman's love.
Vainly, the event in quiet to await,
Sir Charles essay'd. He oft, with stealthy foot,
Would to his suffering Anna's door approach
To catch with eagerness the sounds within.
While thus intent, a feeble cry arose
That struck, at first, so strange upon his ear,
He dream'd not what it was, nor whence it came.
But when the conscious thought upon him flash'd,
That 'twas the sound of his own offspring's voice,
A rush of mingled feelings storm'd his breast,
And bade him seek concealment, where to weep.
But soon he issued forth, with eager wish
More certain tidings of the event to learn.
He met a joyful throng that round him press'd,
Each striving, first to greet him with the news
That Heaven had granted him a son and heir.
Soon as a child into this world is born,
What notes of gratulation are pour'd forth!
What fond anticipations then arise
Within the breasts of parents and of friends!
They think not of the dangers that await
Each moment of the infant's feeble life;
Nor of the awful contest that attends
The immortal embryo spirit of the babe;
The dread alternative beyond this life -
Eternal happiness or endless woe.
Fast by the centre of this earthly sphere
The arch-fiend Cosmocrator holds his state;
Like to an ugly spider in his web,
Watching for souls round which to wrap his toils;
Encompass'd by unnumber'd ministring imps
For ever tending on his foul behests;
More dense than venom'd insects that arise,
In summer heats, from putrid fen or pool,
Or sparks that from a fire-spitting wheel,
By pyrotec[h]nic skill contriv'd, fly off.
Their sight is keen, their movements all us free
In solid matter as in empty space.
The densest substance no more lets the act
Of incorporeal natures, good or ill,
Than ambient air impedes the visual ray,
Or than the deepest dungeon walls restrain
The expansive energy of mind and thought.
To Satan, prince of all the infernal powers,
Is Cosmocrator held amenable;
And all the imps subjected to his will
Are from the dread tartarean gulph supplied;
There to return, when this globe is no more.
To thwart the malice of these hell-train'd imps,
Myriads of angels, in the courts of Heaven,
Burning with love seraphic toward mankind,
Behold the face of God, and wait his will.
To render hopes and prayers abortive all,
And lure the child to woe remediless,
Despite the example of a virtuous sire
And breathings of a pious mother's soul,
An object to the ruthless field appear'd
Well worth the stretch of all his hellish power.
Ere yet the new-born babe had ceas'd its cry,
The field despatch'd a keen malignant imp
To enter, if by any art he might,
Unseen by heav'nly powers, the infant's breast;
There to lie hidden in some secret cell,
And drop a venom in its sinless soul
That, like an insect's sting in embryo fruit,
Should there engender foul disease and death.
Rapid as light shot from the blazing sun
The spirit of evil darted on his way.
Not like the solar beam, direct and bright,
But dark and tortuous, and serpent-like.
Soon as he issued from earth's surface forth
He mingled with the circumambient air,
And enter'd, as a breath of wind, the room
Wherein the helpless new-born infant lay.
Now, scarcely sever'd from its op'ning lip,
And moving silent with the lightning's speed,
The infernal spirit thought the prize his own,
Proud to have thus o'erreach'd the spirits of Heaven.
But light itself darts not with motion sure
In which time enters not an element.
The angel destin'd to watch o'er the child,
Expectant station'd in the Heav'n of Heavens,
At signal given, with speed by th' Almighty lent,
Was on the imp ere he had reach'd his aim.
To central earth again he drove him down
Ere he his proper form could reassume.
Amid his fellows, like a blast, he rush'd,
With hissing diabolic laugh receiv'd.
When the returning angel pass'd unseen
And noiseless through the apartment of his ward,
A heavenly influence his presence shed;
A holy joy pervaded all within.
Th' infernal spirit mark'd this sacred calm,
Encompass'd though he was by sounds demoniac,
And felt his love of ill more turbulent,
And more intense his hatred of all good,
More fix'd his purpose to entrap the soul
For which he thus was beaten down and scorn'd.
The unhallow'd mirth of Cosmocrator's crew
Brought to their sense of woe no kind relief;
But stirr'd to fiercer rage the inward fire
That ceaseless, unextinguish'd, ever preys
Upon their essen[c]e [MS essense] ne'er to be consum'd.
Oh, how unlike the ecstasy [MS extasy] divine,
The joys ineffable, of spirits bless'd,
Whene'er excitement, such as angels know,
Breaks in upon the calm of heavenly bliss!
Incense that in its censer softly burns,
When swung aloft, emits more fragrant breath;
And beds of roses, stirr'd by Zephyr's wing,
Exhale a richer sweetness on the air.
"Silence"! cried Cosmocrator, with a voice
Whose terror quell'd at once the hideous din
That seem'd a human laugh commingled strange
With hiss of serpents, chattering of the ape,
The howl of wolves, and cry of beastly swine,
The raven's croak, and owl's ill-omen'd screech.
And then, in mild and gentle tones, he sooth'd
The burning shame that stung the imp disgrac'd:
For none can breathe more soft and honied notes
Than spirits of hell, their purpose when it serves.
"I blame thee not, since all that could be done
"'Gainst arm omnipotent, thou has perform'd:
"For 't was not by his own unaided might
"The imp of heav'n prevail'd and beat thee down;
"But by his Master's omnipresent speed
"And power resistless, for the moment lent.
"'Tis with the servants of the Great Supreme,
"Not with himself, that we may dare contend.
"Nor, while a dormant soul in embryo lies
"Unconscious and inert, much hope have we
"Its heav'n-appointed guard to circumvent,
"And taint it with the poison of our breath.
"Its earthly guardians must we first attempt,
"And lure them on to aid in what we do.
"The tender network of an infant mind,
"When conscience first awakens in the breast,
"May by a seeming trifle be derang'd
"Beyond the hope of perfect remedy.
"An artful menial or companion lewd
"May, in a moment, map or strain some cord,
"Or mar the texture of the fine-wrought web,
"And make it but a worthless cast-off thing.
"But, say this new-born infant shall arrive
"At youth's estate with pure unblemish'd mind;
"Let but the innate passions of his breast
"Begin their wonted empire to assert;
"These, as experience tells, shall prove a host
"To aid us in our war with heav'nly powers;
"A host so fierce, so numerous and strong,
"That theirs will be the burden of the fight.
"Then suffer not thy courage to abate,
"Nor well-tried vigilance in aught to fail;
"For, of the thousand times ten thousand souls
"Round which we never cease to spread our toils,
"On this, above the rest, I would pour out
"The hatred that I feel for all that's good.
"And though crest-fallen now, still wait thy chance,
"Ere long, to triumph o'er thy exulting foe:
"For, at the christ'ning of the mewling babe,
"A pompous host will to the temple throng,
"And thence assemble in their lordly halls,
"To end the day in feast and dance and sport.
"While all intent upon the mystic rite,
"The powers celestial may relax their guard;
"And, ere they rally, thou may'st quickly dart
"Or softly glide into the infant's breast.
"Meanwhile, like ambient air that ever seeks
"Within a space that's void its way to force,
"Or, like the viewless motes impalpable
"That penetrates minutest aperture,
"Nor fail, in time, to clog the finest works of art;
"Thus, round this infant, ever on the watch,
"Must we its op'ning spirit strive to blast."
While thus the wicked fiend, with accent's bland,
To keener malice stirr'd his willing imps,
The blessed spirit of light held on his way,
With devious motion, toward the realms of bliss.
On duty still, e'en while at large he roam'd,
He wander'd, not forgetful of his charge;
"For well he knew that, should the daemon move,
A sign would be imparted by the Eternal King;
From whose clear view, throughout the universe,
There's not the smallest atom that lies hid.
Among the stars he circling swept along;
Rejoicing to behold the Almighty's works.
And, as he wheel'd among revolving worlds,
In various guise he travers'd the expanse.
Now, like a transient meteor he appear'd;
Now, like a vapour melting into air.
At times, within the bosom of a cloud,
He new some unknown globe would stay his flight,
And seem a glorious rainbow shining forth.
Then, like the noiseless distant lightning's flash,
Would toward some brilliant star pursue his way,
And to its gazing habitants appear
A bird of unknown sing, and plumage dipt
In all the colours of the aerial bow.
At times, invisible he would become,
Save to the Infinite's all-seeing eye;
And, as more near he scann'd the rolling orbs,
Rush'd like the wind, or like a zephyr breath'd.
Then, as he pass'd in view of some fair world
That had not fallen from its first estate,
Resum'd his proper form of heavenly mould,
And wav'd angelic greeting to its denizens,
Who, with loud shouts of joy, his presence hail'd,
And watch'd, with eager gaze, his heavenward flight.
Thus he, in feast[-t]ime [MS feastime] such as angels take
And Heaven's Almighty King complacent views,
Approach'd the mansions of eternal bliss;
Whose inmates, as he enter'd, clust'ring round,
With sounds harmonious welcom'd his return,
And looks all beaming bright with joy and love.
Ye ceaseless wand'rers over sea and land,
Whom paradise itself could not retain;
Aye on the stretch for somewhat to relieve
The endless cravings of a restless mind!
This were a voyage well worth the toil and time
Ye now so freely lavish in the search
Of somewhat distant, somewhat hard to reach,
Where dangers must be met and pains endur'd,
And all for pleasure that still mocks the search,
Till peace and quiet seem your direct foes -
Nor count it idle Fancy's wand'ring dream
Which gives to christian faith the heav'nly hope
That, when the cumbrous load we now drag on
Shall to a spiritual substance change,
Ransom'd from death to Heav'n's beatitude,
We may among the stars unfetter'd roam,
Exulting still, with wonder ever new
And clear unaided vision, to behold
The glories of the great Creator's works,
Of which but transient glimpses here we gain;
Eager, through optic tube, to catch a gleam
Of unknown wonders in the vault of Heav'n;
While th' intellect grows dizzy as we look,
Lost in eternity and boundless space.
While thus contended spirits of Heav'n and hell
For weal or woe to an immortal soul,
The earthly guardians of the helpless babe
Watch'd fondly o'er its opening germ of life.
New feelings sway'd the happy father's breast
While, for a moment, he had leave to gaze
Upon his new-born babe, and light press,
With quivering lip, his Anna's pallid cheek;
Within whose chamber none might dare presume
But by permission of th' attendant dame,
Who, self-important from her twofold trust,
Guarded the lovely mother and her babe.
When in his downy mantle gentle sleep
Had wrapp'd the pain-worn mother and her child,
And he of art obstetrick had again
Gone forth to brave the raging of the storm,
Around a cheerful blaze a smiling group,
Ere they to rest retir'd, together met
To ponder, for a while, the glad event,
And gaily quaff the health of sire and son.
Among the hospitable mansion's guests
Appear'd the widow'd mother of Sir Charles.
His much lov'd sister Julia too was there.
The stamp of grief her noble features wore;
For she bereavement's keenest pangs had known.
Yet was there naught of sullen discontent
To cloud her pallid cheek and brow serene;
For, e'en when gushing tears betray'd her woe,
A placid smile would from her features beam,
Like sunshine breaking through a gentle rain.
Much lively converse pass'd among the group,
With ever and anon a perious thought.
Sir Charles complacent heard the pleasantry
His new parental dignity call'd forth.
But his fond parent lov'd not to be told,
Though but in jest, that she would spoil the child;
And seem'd to ask, while glancing at her son,
If aught in him her doating folly prov'd.
Young George Cadwallader was there a guest,
An orphan ward and nephew of Sir Charles,
Whose anxious care he promis'd to repay
By worthless principles and conduct loose.
An inmate still of classic halls, he grasp'd
At shadowy subtleties and vain conceits;
True learning and religion cast aside.
Fit instrument, in Cosmocrator's hand,
To work confusion in an opening mind.
He now, in philosophic guise, breath'd forth
The venom of a wily infidel.
A human being's entrance into life,
The pretext offer'd to discourse at large
Of vital principle - when it unfolds? -
And whether it from matter be distinct,
Or only a material substance more refin'd? -
At thought of immortality he jeer'd,
And future life, poetic fancy call'd.
To think this frame corporeal, once dissolv'd,
Can e'er revive, he nam'd a maniac's dream.
Thus, with o'erweening and inflated air,
Display'd the wisdom of a beardless sage;
Unheeding the chill silence that prevail'd,
And taking silent scorn for awe profound;
Until an unexpected check he met,
In full career, from honest Frank Adrain,
A country gentleman of strong rough mind,
Sir Charles's elder relative and friend,
Of generous heart and true, though ever blunt;
A frequent welcome inmate of the house.
"Enough, young gentleman, we've had, methinks,
"Of high-blown metaphysic stuff," said he;
"And I can tell thee of an ancient book,
"By wisest men beleiv'd and reverenc'd,
"But which to thee, I fear, is clos'd and seal'd,
"That calls a man who talks like thee - a fool."
Against Cadwallader this mov'd a laugh,
The argument, of all, most powerful
To quell an overweening disputant.
'Tis like a blow which, though it shed no blood,
Supplants and prostrates its antagonist.
The young philosopher, in sullen mood,
Soon from the circle stealthily withdrew.
The sister of Sir Charles in silence mus'd,
Nor gave apparent heed to aught around;
For in her mind were waken'd busy thoughts
That to her mem'ry pictur'd past events.
"And why is this, my Julia?" said Sir Charles,
"Thy heart seems not to mingle in our joy;
"Yet thou art wont to make but one with me
"In all my happiness and all my pain." -
"Oh! Charles, I know not whether to rejoice
"Or weep, to have another earthly tie.
"So many bonds of love that held my heart
"Have by the cruel hand of death been rent,
"That aught upon this earth I fear to love" -
"Nay sister! Speak not thus, nor quench Heav'n's fire;
"For love's the light of our immortal soul.
"Pure taintless love, such as thine ever is,
"Gives to the spirit a buoyancy toward Hea[v]en,
"To find an atmosphere where it can breathe,
"Mid God's elect, from earth's oppression free."
Around her brother's neck her arm she threw
With deep emotion, though no word she spoke.
Upon his cheek she press'd a silent kiss,
And glided softly from th' assembled group.
Soon, to their night's repose they all withdrew,
While gentle sadness shaded ev'ry brow.
In early Summer, on a sun-bright morn,
Cadwallader, in traveller's garb, approach'd
Sir Charles's mansion, and quick entrance found.
His toilet finished, to the breakfast hall
He straight repair'd. The sister of Sir Charles,
That morn risen earlier than her wont,
Was there; who, with astonish'd look, exclaim'd
"Why George! how's this? I thought, at Cambridge still
"'Twas term time, and imagin'd you were all
"Worming the substance out of pond'rous tomes" -
"True," he replied, "I should be cloister'd still;
"But as I chanc'd to learn that young Sir Charles,
"This day, a holy sprinkling shall receive;
"And willing to afford my mite of prayer,
"I, for a day or two, have truant play'd;
"But soon, on my return, will make my peace" -
"Fie, George! speak not with mockery of prayer;
"Nor treat things sacred with unholy mirth.
"Thy prayers, I fear, go not beyond the wish
"For feast and dance and song and revelry.
"But fancy not, this day's religious rite
"A festival for Pleasure's idle crew.
"Sir Charles would deem wild gaiety unmeet
"To mark the entrance on the christian state.
"And let not want of reverence appear
"In word or look, I do beseech thee, George;
"For, through all kindness, this unruly prank
"Will fill thy guardian's mind with painful thoughts.
"And, to unwonted harshness nought so apt
"To rouse the even tenor of his mind
"As youthful arrogance that dares pronounce
"On themes that pass an angel's intellect."
Anger and disappointment cloth'd his brow;
Nor could he from uncourteous terms refrain.
"Thus, for a feast" - said he - "I may expect
"A cup of caudle and a bit of cake.
"The dancing we shall have, will be, to view
"The infant dandled in its mother's arms;
"And all the music that we may enjoy,
"The young one's screams and nurse's lullaby.
"At once, I pray thee, let me break my fast;
"And, ere the family descend, I'm off" -
She strove not to retain th' ungracious youth;
But order'd his repast, nor answer made.
She felt as though a scoffing infidel
Might bring disturbance to a christian rite.
She fear'd that courtesy would not restrain
Some outbreak of his vanity and scorn.
Sore piqued that Julia urg'd him not to stay,
In sullen mood, he took a hasty meal;
While, in revenge, he press'd her with a theme
He knew she ever heard, from him, with pain.
"Of late, good aunt, I have perplexed my brain
"To solve that mystery of mysteries,
"The root original whence evil sprang
"To taint this universe so seeming good.
"Methinks thy bible should resolve this doubt.
"Canst thou not lighten my benighted mind? -
"I cannot, George; nor can I answer right
"The child's interrogation oft renew'd,
"Why God permits the evil one to live?
"Nor know I why the powers of hell may still
"Roam free among the wretched sons of men;
"Nor why an imp of darkness has replac'd
"The absent minister of health that seem'd
"To hover round thee while they parents liv'd.
"How would they mourn to see thee thus deform'd!"
He answered not, but gloomily retired.
Few moments had gone by ere he return'd
Dangling, with careless air, his light valise.
A cold adieu he bade, and disappear'd.
This show of reckless boldness toward his aunt.
Was not the true complexion of his mind.
'Twas but a feigned semblance just put on;
A colour destin'd to be soon effac'd.
He, in her presence, felt a secret dread
Confess'd not by his proud o'erweening heart.
Her intellectual view was keen and deep,
Without pretence to learning's studied phrase.
In every aspect of her meaning face,
In every utterance of her liquid voice,
Truth's holy character was seen and felt;
Celestial Truth that shunn'd not God or man.
A shade unearthly clad her pallid cheek,
And struck beholders with a sense of awe.
Her steady gaze could pierce the inmost soul.
'Twas not the solar beam nor lightning's flash
That from her glance came radiant on the sight;
Yet, none alive to feeling could withstand
The deep expression of her tranquil eye.
To Cosmocrator, in his murky den,
All that here pass'd was open as the day;
For, by his devilish power, he could command
The secret energies that rule this world;
And, from the unfathom'd deep, could plainly see
The smallest mote that in the sunbeam plays,
Or hear the softest sound that stirs the air.
When he beheld Cadwallader depart,
He to a host select of firey imps,
That round this globe perform his foul behests,
The signal gave his presence to attend.
A sound he sent, too deep for mortal ears,
That from earth's centre reach'd the vault of heaven.
Swifter than hail descending from the sky,
Or ocean rend by winds tempestuous driven,
Down to their chief they all impetuous rush'd,
And eagerly around him press'd, more dense
Than clustering bees that round their leader swarm,
Or autumn fogs that cloud the rising sun.
"This legion of the burning asp", cried he,
"Are for a special duty now call'd in.
"This day will be perform'd the wonted rite
"Upon the infant for whose soul I strive;
"By which they hope to shield him from my power.
"How doubly glorious will our triumph be
"If, while those bubblers 'gainst us prate and pray
"And pour upon us foul despight and scorn,
"We graft a devil on that tender plant,
"With it to grow and be with it but one,
"And make it yield, in time, the fruits of hell,
"Till, like unto a worthless canker'd branch,
"It be pluck'd off and cast into the flame.
"And if those fluttering imps of heaven but once
"Keep guard so loosely as to let us in,
"'Twould prove, if well I ween, beyond their power,
"The child unhurt, to drive us from our hold.
"Within some temple while the white-rob'd priest
"Is sprinkling water o'er the infant's front,
"A numerous host of our celestial foes,
"Inflam'd with burning hate, will cluster round,
"To guard the young one from our dangerous wiles.
"'Tis these my purpose to send in a cloud
"Of spirits keener than the lightning's flash,
"Who shall their movements so perplex and thwart,
"That some swift-winged asp may entrance find
"Into the dwelling of the soul we seek,
"And there abide and do its work of woe.
"So well, methought, I had a plan arrang'd,
"That need there would be none for this parade.
"I did impart to young Cadwallader,
"In whom a minister of mine e'er dwells,
"A hint of what, this day, was to be done;
"Which stirr'd within him such intense desire
"Th' expected feast and frolic to partake,
"That from his college studies he broke loose
"And at his guardian's house this morn arriv'd.
"It was my hope and expectation firm
"That when, like other guests, the child he kiss'd,
"My watchful daemon through its lips should glide,
"Unnotic'd by the guardian spirits round.
"But all my scheme, so hopefully arrang'd,
"Is ruin'd by that sister of Sir Charles;
"Yes, by that staring widow, whom I hate
"With hatred fann'd by hottest flames of hell.
"No! not a dozen priests together join'd,
"With all their exhortations and their prayers,
"Could cross my purposes and cramp my power
"Like that one woman, when she fronts my will.
"Nor should I marvel, spite of all my pains,
"If e'en Cadwallader she won away.
"Be ready now, at signal given, to rush
"Within the temple walls amid the throng.
"And let no novice deem the hazard great
"To tempt the precincts of the sacred fane:
"For oft have I, among the worshippers,
"Or those who such appear'd, gone freely round;
"And, insect-like, tormented e'en the priest,
"Till he was angry and forgot his theme.
"If in our first attack we chance to fail,
"Let young Beelzebub, or else who will,
"Still hover stealthily around the child,
"Until the night-watch of the heavenly guard
"Be set, to shield it from our dark attempts.
"Some lucky moment may, perchance, occur
"To aid the enterprize we have in hand.
"But give good heed to what I say, young imps;
"Whate'er ye do, be ever on your guard
"To avoid that pale-fac'd widow's goblin stare.
"If she but meet you with her eye direct,
"Her look will scare you to the lowest hell."
He ended; and infernal merriment,
With mingled zeal, pervaded all the host;
While eagerly their ruthless chief they watch'd,
Expectant of the signal to depart.
At length, the daemon cried aloud, "Be gone,
"And follow where that night-bird leads the way."
At once, an imp, by Cosmocrator taught,
Forth darted, like a bat, on flickering wing,
And, from his fellow imps distinct, led on
To where the solemn rite was just begun.
They found, as was predicted by their chief,
A band of guardian angels hov'ring round;
But not with hate inflam'd, as he malign'd;
The wretch! he knew not what it was to love.
No fierce emotion, like to hate, they knew,
But pure seraphic love for all that's good,
And heav'nly pity for the awful state
Of spirits immortal doom'd to endless woe.
A sight it was, so heavenly, so pure,
The daemons, conscience-smitten, shrunk for dread.
Quicker than lightest chaff that feels the fire,
Their proper shapes of hell were lost and gone.
Of smallest insects some the form assum'd.
Motes, in the sunbeam playing, others seem'd.
Some melted into air, and vainly hoped
Among th' angelic guard to pass unseen.
But ev'ry insect, mote, and breath of air,
Was by the spirits of heav'n intensely watch'd;
And ev'ry stealthy movement of the foe
To approach the object of their foul attempts
Was by the guardian host so promptly met,
That, foil'd and crest-fall'n, they at length gave o'er,
And to their chief, with shame and rage, return'd:
All but that imp, the young Beelzebub,
Whom in his first attempt, we saw disgrac'd.
He linger'd still around, in various guise,
Expectant that, amid the giddy rout
Which, he suppos'd, would hold the day and night,
Some fitting instrument he might select
To aid th' accursed work he had in view.
But different far the entertainment prov'd
From what was look'd for by the wily imp.
Around the social board few friends select
Together met to celebrate the day
In which young Charles receiv'd the Christian sign.
There was the rev'rend Osborne, he who had
The holy sacramental rite perform'd;
The sponsor too, our noble Frank Adrain,
Who, with Sir Charles, had answer'd for the babe;
The Lady Ann's young sister, Alice May,
Whose op'ning beauty shone forth, like the star
Of early dawn, with radiance gently bright;
Gay Emma Constantine, her bosom friend;
Young Henry Morton, struck with Emma's charms;
Will Emory, of spirit free as air,
Whose heart no shaft of love had ever pierc'd [MS peirc'd].
These, with the happy parent, of Sir Charles,
And Julia, with her melancholy smile,
In well assorted contrasts graced the board.
The Lady Anna's mother was no more;
Her father roaming in a distant land.
Some natural awe came o'er the younger guests
To meet a learned Oxford-taught divine.
But soon their dread was for delight exchang'd.
THere was a buoyant spirit in his words,
An unpretending candour in his look,
That fail'd not to win confidence and love.
Much, too, the converse of the young he priz'd,
When modest sense and artlessness appear'd.
Lively and livelier grew the din of tongues
As choicest wines and viands warm'd the guests.
And when the health of young Sir Charles they drank,
Full cheerily the glasses sparkled round;
And eyes too sparkled brighter yet than they
With light of harmless pleasantry and wit.
How quickly would this merriment have ceas'd,
And fright have chill'd the warm blood coursing free,
Had to their view been suddenly reveal'd
The hell-engender'd harpy flitting round,
Like to a web-wing'd bat, in sultry climes,
That darts its noiseless flight round lighted hall
And sheds a horror o'er th' assembled throng.
For never had the soul-ensnaring imp
A moment ceas'd, o'er all, thief-like, to watch;
Much wond'ring that no heav'nly guards appear'd
Since from the temple he had fled away.
Those guards, to give the daemon freer scope,
And prove the strength of those he might attempt,
Invisible were order'd to remain.
The special guardian of the infant child
Before the face of God his station held.
At length, the imp within himself thus mus'd -
"'Tis strange, keen sighted devil as I am,
"That not a glimpse have I as yet obtain'd
"Of those white ghosts [MS gohsts], call'd ministers of heav'n,
"Who so affright us when we chance to meet.
"They think, perhaps, this morning's mystic rite,
"From which my fellows shrunk so horror-struck,
"A charm to quell our efforts for the day.
"If so, I hope, by my unaided strength,
"Their overweening confidence to shame.
"Some, surely, of these merry-making guests
"Will kiss the sleeping babe ere they depart.
"Through them I may gain entrance to the child
"Whom openly I dare not to assault,
"Lest I again should meet with foul disgrace.
"Twere vain to try the honest-hearted priest.
"Were he a selfcomplacent sleek-hair'd saint
"Who makes a sin of all that's said or done,
"And from a hundred of his fellow men
"Will pick you out some three or four escap'd,
"And smiling greet the rest - 'dear brethren damn'd['][MS "];
"Were he like this, some opening might I find
"Through which to creep within his secret soul.
"Those girls, I knew, will kiss the infant's lips.
"That laughing Will, for short, may do the same;
"But, should I make my way within his breast,
"His hearty laugh would shake me out again.
"Those two, styled angels, will I keep in view;
"'Twere droll indeed, should they my purpose serve" -
The banquet o'er, when in the bright saloons
All met for converse and sweet music's voice,
On wing so rapid and so noiseless flew
The time, that when the hour of parting came,
All had miscounted, and would scarce believe
The midnight chime was warning them away.
Mysterious it appear'd to youthful minds
That time in tranquil atmosphere could fly.
They had not in gay fashion's round been taught
That no enjoyment so can hold the mind,
Or leave an impress of so pure delight,
As friendly converse with the wise and good.
All were prepar'd, at length, to bid good night,
But sprightly Emma, who would kiss the babe
Ere she departed, and upon it gaze
With fondness such as only woman knows.
Young Morton's flame the daemon well had mark'd,
And watch'd the movements of gay Emma's mind.
Such pride and love of conquest there he found,
Those passions that with mischief fill the world,
That to her bosom he quick entrance gain'd;
And, as she approach'd the infant's half-closed mouth,
The lurking imp was ready to dart in.
But such sweet breath of innocence came forth,
Disparting gently its red rosebud lips;
So free from ev'ry earthly taint it seem'd;
So like a creature moulded in the heavens,
And dipt in rosy tints of early dawn,
The daemon thought a spirit of heaven was there;
And, conscience-stricken, shrank away for fear.
Quick from the soul of Emma rush'd he forth,
To wander in the regions of the air,
Till he again his chief should dare to meet.
Sweet infant innocence! Oh, why so soon
Must we from thee depart? So soon be chang'd?
Angelic innocence! whose very look
Can fright a lurking devil from the soul?
Amid the shades of Eton a fair boy
Was slowly straying, pensive and alone.
Of other boys he shunn'd the open gaze;
For tears had left their trace upon his cheek;
And much he dreaded to be scorn'd and mock'd
For unbeseeming want of manliness.
But they were warm and natural tears, that flow'd
From deep emotions of a generous heart.
This was Charles Elphinstone, whom nine swift years
Had chang'd from infancy to boyhood's prime.
He from the shelter of his father's roof
Had newly enter'd on an untried world.
The thought of his departed mother weigh'd
Upon his soul, sweet spotless Lady Ann,
But lately snatch'd away, in prime of life,
With ev'ry virtue, ev'ry grace, adorn'd.
Beside this son, one little girl she left,
Twice twelve months younger than her brother Charles;
His dear companion, whom he now exchang'd
For faces strange and manners wild and rude.
Much had Sir Charles's spirit been perplex'd,
Much council with his Julia had he held,
Whether at home to have his boy uprear'd,
Or in the turmoil of a public school.
He dreaded ill example's pow'r to lure
Unwary youth from virtue's narrow path;
The rude encounters too and buffetings
Which, while they embolden, brutalize the heart;
The servitude by youthful fags endur'd
Beneath the tyrant sway of elder boys.
The harshness too of discipline, he thought
Might crush the op'ning spirit of his boy.
Julia, reluctant, thus her mind disclosed -
"'Twould savour of presumption, Charles, in me,
"On such a theme, to tender thee advice;
"But since it is thy will to have me speak,
"I will not hide the promptings of my mind.
"Where can we find upon this earth a spot
"That's free from danger and distress, and where
"Unnumber'd lures to evil are not known?
"The phantoms rais'd by sin, alike assail
"The home-taught student and the schoolboy wild;
"The abode of peace and battle-breathing camp;
"The squallid hovel and the brilliant court;
"The strictest cloister and the busiest world.
"Most hideous forms of evil may be found
"In souls retir'd that stagnate in repose.
"The stir of active life is to the mind
"Like winds that chase the sluggish fogs away.
"And well art thou aware that, mid the strife
"And noise and rudeness of a schoolboy throng,
"There lurks a fire electric that will strike
"At falsehood, cowardice, or sneaking vice;
"A generous spirit that revolts at wrong;
"A mind that nobly yields to what is just.
"And this alone should tranquilize thy heart;
"That in these schools of learning have been rear'd
"A shining host of Britain's noble sons,
"Their country's pride, and glory of mankind."
At length, to Eton's classic atmosphere
Sir Charles determined to commit his son.
Nor did the gen'rous boy, by word or look,
The deep reluctance of his heart betray.
He dreaded to augment the pangs he knew
Were struggling in his widow'd father's breast.
But when the dreaded hour of parting came,
That left him lonely in an unknown throng,
Bereft of her who with angelic love
And angel sanctity had o'er him watch'd,
Sunder'd from all whom still on earth he lov'd,
And cast into a wild and thoughtless throng,
Poor boy! no wonder that his heart was wrung,
And that affection's tear bedew'd his cheek!
In vain a countless swarm of flick'ring imps
Had round him kept their unremitting watch,
In hope to find an entrance to his soul,
And blight it with a taint incurable.
A guardian spirit's never slumbering eye,
A holy mother's precepts and her prayers,
The tear repentant that ne'er fail'd to flow
When conscious error smote his gen'rous heart;
These kept him harmless from the deadly sting
That works destruction to the spirit's health.
But now the fiend a new attack prepar'd;
And thought, by means circuitous and slow,
To warp the op'ning soul, and, as it grew,
To harden it in crooked forms of vice.
For this foul end, he purpos'd to employ
The lively talents of Cadwallader,
Whose thoughts and words all breath'd of vanity,
And all whose pleasures center'd in himself.
Fit tool for spirit of evil to employ;
Apt servant to obey his ev'ry will.
Now, by the devil prompted, George began
A sprightly correspondence with the boy;
Through which, in flippant phrase, he interwove
Such thoughts as float upon a reckless mind.
Seductive vice he deck'd in gay attire,
And sober virtue dress'd in garb ridiculous.
All this too, with no preconceived spite
Against the boy he aided to corrupt;
On whom he would but practice what he deem'd
His native gift of pleasantry and wit.
'Twas vanity unprincipled, and mov'd
By daemon pow'r, that rul'd his ev'ry thought
Oft was the unsuspecting child amus'd
By humorous sallies and vivacious phrase.
Yet frequent also were the startling words
That caus'd a flutter in his guileless heart.
But evil, in the guise of merriment,
Began, at length, to influence his mind.
Indecorous drollery and jest profane
Became more frequent, and were dreaded less.
The sage monitions of his father's love
Were read with less devotion of the heart.
And e'en the gentle flow of Julia's pen
Appear'd too tame for his perverted taste.
Close to his heart the guardian spirit press'd,
And stamp'd his mother's image deeper there.
And when the year revolving brought around
The day deep-darken'd by his mother's death,
The angel prompted him to give his friend
The simple hist'ry of that solemn day.
To name his mother he had felt a dread:
But now, receiving courage, thus he wrote, -
"Dear George, this day, twelve months are gone since that
"On which my mother died. I ne'er have dared
"To tell you what, that day, I saw and heard.
"Your thoughts and words, so full of joy and mirth,
"Have made me fear to tell you aught that's sad.
"But now, I know not why, more bold I feel,
"And will pour out the sorrows of my heart -
"Not, for a week, had I my mother seen.
"She was, they said, too ill to be disturb'd.
"At length, my father, while his tears ran down,
"Took me and sister Anna by the hand,
"And led us to the chamber where she lay.
'Your dying mother asks to see you both',
"He said, 'and bid farewell before she goes'.
"How pale and shrunk she was! How weak her voice!
"She prayed that God would send his blessing down
"Upon us both. For you too, George, she prayed;
"And said she always lov'd you, though dislike
"Toward her seem'd ever brooding in your heart.
"She feebly press'd my hand within her own,
"And bade me kiss her - Oh! her lips were cold
"As stone; her face and forehead cold and damp.
"So loud I wept, they snatch'd me from her side -
"I saw her not again. Farewell, dear George.
"Indeed, indeed, I cannot now write more".
When from the halls of science George had pass'd,
With academic honors duly grac'd,
And from his faithful guardian's hand receiv'd
The inheritance committed to its care,
He sought new friends, if such they might be call'd,
And from his kind protectors kept aloof.
For the indwelling devil tore his breast
When he encounter'd Julia's piercing glance,
Or Lady Anna's soft inquiring eye,
Or met the cutting banter of Sir Charles.
His conscience-smitten bosom wish'd to think
These friends his secret foes; and Lady Ann
Above the rest; for she with mute contempt
Had ever seem'd to hear his jests profane.
Her death had cost him not one sigh or tear,
For pride revengeful rankled in his breast.
But her affection, breath'd from dying lips,
Gave him a conscious sting that pierc'd his heart.
There is hypocrisy that takes the cloak
Of wickedness that dwells not in the soul.
'Tis mov'd by pride, or vanity, or dread
Of being counted cowardly and weak.
This is a guise may e'en the devil cheat:
And such was by Cadwallader assum'd.
He, with a smile contemptuous, cast aside
The letter of young Charles, and humm'd a tune.
But from that child his spirit had receiv'd
A virtuous shock - He never wrote again;
But, sudden feign'd a wish for change of scene;
And bent to foreign climes his hasty steps.
A fiery curse from Cosmocrator broke,
When thus the plan was foild by which he thought
To plant the seeds of poison in the boy.
A curse of deeper tone would he have pour'd
Upon the head of George, had he descried
The secret workings that disturb'd his soul.
For as, amid licentious revellers,
If, by some chance, a virtuous man appear,
His presence troubles their unholy mirth
And brings a chill upon their reckless glee,
Thus, the strange feeling in the breast of George
Disturb'd the wonted thoughts that in him dwelt.
But e'en the eye of his keen-sighted imp
Saw not the real secret of his breast:
For straight he plung'd amid the motley throng
Of reckless headlong votaries of vice,
And trod the treach'rous death-exhaling soil
On which the flowers of vice-grown pleasure bloom.
The archfiend's fury was by that allay'd;
He thought to grasp him with a firmer hold,
And wield [MS weild] a deadlier instrument of ill.
And 'twas the purpose of the ruthless fiend,
While he employ'd him to corrupt the boy,
From depth to depth of sin to sink him down,
Till he should plunge into the depth of hell.
Unhappy youth! too vain and weak to bend
Beneath the impulse of a virtuous pang;
We leave him struggling to o'erwhelm and drown,
By deadly draughts of pleasure, so miscall'd,
The better feeling awaken'd in his breast;
Led on by power satanic down the path
That ends in dreary ruin and despair.
From slight distortion, Charles's buoyant mind,
When warp'd no longer by the power of George,
Sprang to its wonted rectitude again.
Again the wisdom of his father's words
And soft outpourings of his Julia's love
Came with the pleasure they were wont to give,
And cool'd the fever that had touch'd his brain.
The boy possess'd a lofty generous soul,
With quick and comprehensive intellect.
But ardent vehemence of purpose, caus'd
Both hope and dread for his integrity:
Hope, that his ardor would be zeal for good;
And dread, lest it should turn to stubborn vice.
Full well the skilful tempter knew how hard
For strong impetuous nature to resist
The sense's impulse and wild fancy's lure.
And with these aids he trusted to effect
The work of ruin which he had in hand.
But not the power of satan could erase
The stamp of Ann's precepts from her son.
She had imbued him with a love of truth,
A virgin first love, never to be quell'd.
When prompted by the heat of youthful blood,
Or by the force of ill example lured
To rush, unthinking, into schoolboy pranks,
No dread of punishment could ever move
His lofty spirit to seek falsehood's aid.
But though his own delinquency he scorn'd
To hide beneath the cover of a lie,
For threats nor promise would he disclose
Who were his wild participants in fault.
When question'd close, he firmly would declare
No violence should force him to betray
Confed'rate spirits trusting to his faith.
This may be nam'd by scourging casui[s]ts
Rebellion, contumacy, what they please;
But never was his guardian angel mov'd
By conduct such as this, his charge to quit.
Prompt to avow what conscience said was wrong;
Anxious to heal the harm to others done;
His wildest freaks of mischief ne'er betray'd
A thought malignant or a purpose base.
This atmosphere of truth, a barrier form'd
Which powers of darkness dreaded to approach,
Save when within him evil passions rose
And gather'd clouds o'er virtue's sky serene.
Then would a swarm of imps, impetuous, rush,
In hope to gain possession of his soul.
But near approach discover'd to their view,
Beneath the lowering clouds and driving storms,
Truth's calm horizon and the heav'nly guard,
Like Hesperus, glowing with celestial light,
In token that the storm would soon be o'er.
This sight th' infernal swarm could ne'er abide;
But shrank, like midnight thieves who unawares
Find sudden light break on their stealthy steps,
And watchful guardians set to oppose their way.
Thus, through his schoolboy course he pass'd along;
Ne'er sundered from his guardian Power so far
That hostile spirits, ever on the watch,
Could make a lasting lodgment in his soul.
The time had now arriv'd for him to tread
In higher learning's more extended paths.
He left the halls of Eton, lov'd by all,
With ev'ry prize and highest honour crown'd.
The boyhood, now, of Charles had pass'd away;
Another era [MS aera] in his life began.
Fam'd Oxford's venerable courts he trod,
With step more grave and air more dignified;
With form enlarg'd and comely presence grac'd;
With early manhood's symptom's gently touch'd.
But, as the gifts of mind and body grew,
The dangerous passions also gather'd strength.
Amid the buffetings of schoolboy life,
The claims of birth and fortune were forgot.
But when the thoughts of wealth and rank were free
To claim their untried influence on his mind,
When e'en the dress by college rules prescrib'd
Proclaim'd a noble current in his veins,
How faint the hope that he could stand unmov'd
Against th' assaults of vanity and pride!
No effort, now, was by the daemon spar'd
To keep alive within the mind of Charles
Anticipations of his future days;
Of all that could endear him to this world;
All things by reckless sons of pleasure urg'd
As valid reasons for a worthless life;
Hereditary titles, wealth immense,
A long and honor'd line of ancestry;
The vivid hopes and dazzling promises
That in imagination's pictures gleam.
By phantoms such as these the tempter sought
To lure him into pathless wastes of vice,
Where youthful uncurb'd passions, wandering wild,
Should plunge him into depths of endless woe.
With interest more intense the spirit of Heaven
Now watch'd th' increasing dangers of his ward.
He saw the ice that temper'd virtue's path
Beneath the growing heat of passion melt.
He saw the cloud of flickering imps more bold
As virtue, in their hoped for victim, waned.
Deep in the inmost chamber of his heart
The faithful guardian of the youth retir'd;
To all created beings invisible;
Innate disorder impotent to heal;
But ready to repel audacious foes,
And resolute his station to maintain,
Ere yet corruption to the centre reach'd.
Tho' e'en to Cosmocrator's piercing view
The guardian spirit of the youth lay hid,
He knew that heav'nly powers unseen, would oft
Break forth, like meteors in the vacant sky,
With sudden consternation to his imps.
He straitly charg'd those eager ministers
To wait his word ere they presum'd to risk
A daring entrance to the heart of Charles.
The downward progress of the youth, he said,
Had now begun, and with rapidity
Increasing still, would still continue on.
The aid of lost Cadwallader he now
No longer thought 'twere needful to employ.
Cadwallader's own fate so sure was deem'd,
That from its wonted station in his breast
Th' inspiring imp of darkness was discharg'd,
And but requir'd to keep a transient watch.
The godless profligates, of either sex,
Amid whose wanton revelry he dwelt,
Seem'd ample to defend him from all good,
And whirl him headlong to perdition's gulph.
But though within young Charles th' infernal imps
Dared not to venture 'gainst their chief's command,
They fail'd not to allure his heedless steps,
By ev'ry art demoniac wit supplied,
To tread along the tortuous paths that wind
Through sights and sounds corruptive of the soul.
The images, alas! of purity,
By holy spirits set before the mind,
Have seldom pow'r to cleanse or to conceal,
E'en in the heart to virtue's voice inclin'd,
The mental stains impress'd, in thousand ways,
Amid the false allurements of this world.
The fire of genius that diffus'd a glow
Around our hero's piercing intellect
New force imparted to the struggling crowd
Of passions waken'd in his youthful breast.
His anxious father fail'd not to perceive
The dangers that encompass'd him around.
For, from his mother he had so imbib'd [MS imbid'd]
A truthful habit, both in thought and word,
That never was a line from him receiv'd
Which wore the mark of low hypocrisy
That would conceal the wand'ring of his steps,
And dared not tell the workings of his mind.
Grievous the pain that smote Sir Charles's heart
At thought what dangers press'd his darling child!
Who, that hath never prov'd them, can conceive
The deep-felt throbbings of parental love?
Th' alternate and commingled hopes and fears,
The joys and sorrows, of a parent's heart?
Beginning too ere yet their object's seen,
Ere yet the germ is ripen'd into fruit!
Then, from the first faint smile of infancy,
Through ev[']ry phase of life, continued still!
To dissipate the youth's religious faith,
Two unlike instruments his foes employ'd;
He oft, with one or other, pass'd an hour.
One was a dark uncompromising foe
To ev'ry thought and action not prescrib'd
Or sanction'd in the arbitrary code
By self-erected legislators pass'd.
A growing code that, ever and anon,
Increas'd the catalogue of mortal sins,
And stamp'd, to day, as crime what, yesterday,
Was harmless as the sports of infancy.
Oft was our Charles to indignation rous'd,
When best-lov'd friends and dearest relatives
Were thrown among a lost and wicked world,
Because a dance was shameless wantonness;
A card was but a leaf from Satan's book;
A play, th' unerring guide to endless woe;
A theatre! its very walls themselves
With dire contagious leprosy infects!
A life with ev'ry virtuous deed adorn'd
Was worthless as the creed of atheists,
If not on some dark threat'ning doctrine based,
Inexplicable to the mind of man.
And, save few gleanings, all the sons of men
Were by this bold predestinating saint
To endless woe triumphantly consign'd.
The other tool with which the daemons wrought
Was from this spirit of gloom as different far
As from a dark and threat'ning thunder cloud
The light that plays upon a dimpled stream.
It was a joyous open hearted youth,
Who by no steady principle was led.
His thoughts were vapours floating on the air;
But floating gently, ne'er by fierce winds driven.
No mode of faith peculiar did he own;
Nor with his neighbour's doctrine interfere.
The natural feelings of his heart were kind;
His converse pleasant, and his life seem'd good;
But, from the tenor of his words, 'twas plain
He own'd no motive higher than this world.
Well did the archfiend know how sore perplex'd
Would be a generous unexperienc'd mind
To see religion clothed in midnight gloom,
And breathing out ferocious threats of woe,
While baseless infidelity display'd
A voice and countenance that seem'd to speak
The proper feelings of a christian heart
The former of these two was Nathan call'd;
As pleasant Harry, was the other known.
In presence of our Charles when these two met,
The gentleness of Harry's voice and mein,
With Nathan's virulence, in contrast plac'd,
Could not have fail'd a bias to create
In Harry's favour, e'en within the breast
Of one who knew the texture of his mind;
How frail the principles on which 'twas bas'd;
And who believ'd the other's faith sincere,
Though warp'd by prejudice and party zeal.
How then, before the view of artless youth,
Could gentleness of spirit fail to appear
More worthy than a desolating creed?
St[r]ange would it be, did Cosmocrator fail
The witchery of woman to employ;
Woman! the fairest creature of God's works!
But form'd most powerful for weal or woe.
'Tis by a tender mother's care, that seeds
Of virtue root most deeply in the heart:
And ne'er more fiercely burn unholy flames
Than when by woman kindled in the breast.
The fiend, by woman's meretricious arts,
Resolv'd the hoped for ruin to complete;
To quench the inbred reverence for truth
That 'gainst corruption still had prov'd a balm,
To turn the current of his victim's love
Astray from virtue's channel into wilds
And barren wastes and putrid pools and fens.
A fair and wily creature, in his path,
Soon spread her murd'rous nets invisible.
She from afar but recently had come,
With false credentials and false pretexts arm'd.
The guise of modesty she could assume,
Wherewith to allure a young undoubting mind.
A voice so touching and a smile so sweet
The dang'rous temper could, at will, assume,
That only sad experience would believe [MS beleive]
The base corrupted soul that lurk'd within.
The name she from her infancy had borne,
But deem'd by her too vulgar, short and harsh,
Was for Clorinda now exchang'd, to suit
The person of a soft romantic nymph.
No wonder if a bright impetuous youth,
Warm'd by a healthy current in his veins,
And to the charms of beauty all alive,
Should by a fiend-taught siren be entrapp'd.
By interest prompted and satanic power,
The false enchantress [MS inchantress] had her toils prepar'd
To draw him headlong into wedlock's bond.
Which if accomplish'd, Cosmocrator hoped,
The seemly looking veil, that cover'd o'er
Her vile deformity, would soon drop off,
And show him, to a female demon bound;
For ever by his kindred all renounc'd,
And sunk into remediless despair
Of earthly weal or happiness on high.
But ere this specious minister of ill
Could all her work of infamy complete,
The spirits of health, who still at distance watch'd,
Call'd to their aid a countervailing power.
The sister of our Charles, and Mary Bruce,
In warm unchang'd affection's strictest ties,
Had, from their childhood, been together bound.
In Mary's mind, or in her outward form,
'Twould have been hard a blemish to detect.
The eye of Charles she ne'er had chanc'd to meet
Since into youthful woman's fresh-blown charms
Her girlish beauties had expanded full.
'Twas hoped that Mary's pure unsullied light
Would quench the glitter of the siren's blaze,
And undeceive the youth, when made to see
The real diamond near its counterfeit.
He to no human being had disclos'd
The passion that was gaining on his soul.
By youthful bashfulness he felt restrain'd;
Nor would stern conscience say that all was right.
His academic course, with honor trod,
Was swiftly now approaching to a close.
Of noble presence was his graceful form;
Just at the full of manhood, like to fruit
Not mellow'd yet, but full-grown, ripe and fair.
Within Sir Charles's mind, a friendly power
Inspir'd the wish to visit once again
The halls of Oxford, ere his son return'd.
Bright from the daughter's eyes beam'd youthful joy
When, in the excursion, 'twas propos'd that she
And Mary Bruce, her bosom friend, should join.
Soon were the arrangements made, and soon, too soon,
The short delightful journey at an end.
No hint of their design had Charles receiv'd;
They thought to enhance his pleasure by surprise.
A courteous invitation was dispatch'd,
That ask'd of him to meet three London friends,
And told that two were of the gentler sex.
He, straightway to attend them bent his course,
Much wond'ring, on his way, who they might be;
Nor did the truth once pass across his mind
Till, greeted by his father's eager hand,
And clos'd within his sister's fond embrace,
He, for a moment, felt the joys of home,
And glow of filial and fraternal love.
But soon this natural ecstasy [MS extasy] was quell'd
Beneath the heartfelt shock that conscience gave.
There was a stealthy movement in his eye,
Unlike its wonted beam of cloudless truth.
His father, at a glance, perceiv'd the change
That had come o'er the spirit of his son;
Yet gave no token of the anxious throb
That swell'd his brain and flutter'd in his breast.
He would not tempt his child, by alter'd looks,
To hide his faults beneath sly subterfuge:
And, from the artless nature of his son,
He deem'd it all unlike that moral ill
Could long within his bosom lie conceal'd;
But that, like rum in liquor that ferments,
It to the surface would, ere long, arise.
The new-blown beauties of sweet Mary Bruce,
In which she seem'd unconsciously array'd,
With admiration fill'd the mind of Charles,
Despite the syren's deep demoniac arts.
Soon as the fiend perceiv'd the means employ'd
To countermine and foil his sly attacks,
And knew the power that Mary soon might wield [MS weild],
He boldly plann'd that very power to turn
'Gainst those who fondly trusted to its aid;
Yet still abandon'd not the scheme on foot,
But plied his instruments with keener force.
To serve Clorinda as a lurking spy
About the path of Charles, an artful wretch,
Impure and wholly worthless as herself,
She tempted to assume a menial guise
By holding to her view a rich reward,
Should Charles become the victim of their arts.
To her pretended mistress soon she brought
Advice of what new guests had late arrived;
And, by her art consummate, had obtain'd
The sight of each, and knowledge who they were.
Of Mary's charms resistless when she told,
Demoniac envy fill'd Clorinda's heart,
And hate toward one she as a rival fear'd.
Could she securely give to Mary's lip
A poison'd draught, she would not shun the deed.
But, be her purpose what it might, she strove
O'er all her features to induce a calm,
And hide the temper that within her lurk'd.
When next with Charles in converse she engag'd,
At first, with unconcern'd and bantering air,
She question'd him of his fair visitants.
But let the heart of woman once be touch'd
With fiery hate, then, not satanic pow'r
Can hide all trace of what's at work within.
For Charles perceiv'd a momentary flash
More fierce than fire in angry panther's eye.
This gave a hint of grasping insolence
He was of mind too lofty to endure
E'en from the woman whom he most admir'd.
In silence he withdrew, but well resolv'd
To try her with the praise of Mary's charms,
And watch the secret workings of her heart.
Nor was it long ere he the trial made;
For, when again they met, she had obtain'd
A view of Mary, and had mark'd her well.
She slightly spoke of her, in careless mood;
As though she deem'd her but a pretty child;
And, simpering, ask'd if she were yet at school.
"Yes," he proclaim'd, "her bright inquiring mind
"Will ever be at school, while aught's unlearn'd
"Which well befits a gentle maid to know.
"Whate'er true knowledge was at school obtain'd,
"Without apparent effort she acquired.
"And e'en the tinsels call'd accomplishments,
"As worn by her, seem things of solid worth.
"But Nature's book is what she loves to read.
"And wonderful her store of knowledge is.
"So strong her memory, and view so keen,
"It seems as though by instinct she were taught.
"She knows the stars that shine above her head,
"The trees and plants and flowers that deck the fields,
"And birds of ev'ry wing that cleave the air.
"And so from ostentation is she free,
"That none but intimates know what she is.
"She, like the sky-lark, pours forth lofty notes;
"And, like the sky-lark, loves to sing alone."
Was all this but to prove Clorinda? - No! -
'Twas admiration kindling into love.
Charles, to Clorinda, ever had appear'd
All gentle liveliness, and pleasantry
Resembling oft the frolics of a boy.
But now, in mute astonishment, she quail'd
Beneath the keen encounter of his eye,
The clear determin'd ringing of his voice,
His serious firm-set features, that display'd
The stern decision of a high-bred mind.
She utter'd not a word; but such a flush
Of fire infernal darted from her eye,
And such a cloud of black revenge and hate
O'erspread her countenance, that Charles was chang'd
To instant deeptoned horror and disgust.
He parted from her, never to return.
At once, he to his father all reveal'd.
And when the secret press'd his heart no more,
Again, with truth's pure light his features glow'd.
"I saw," replied Sir Charles, ["]thy troubled mind,
"But thought deceit could not be suffer'd long
"To dwell companion with the spirit of truth
"Which from your angel mother you imbib'd.
"This fine Clorinda and her faithful maid
"Whom you have notic'd skulking near your path,
"Are female friends, no doubt, together leagued,
"And instruments, by pow'rs of darkness us'd,
"To draw you blindfold to perdition's gulph.
"Long as they here remain, beware of them;
"For, trust me, wand'ring outlaws such as these
"Will look for no redress but black revenge.
"Their legal code forbids not to employ
"Th' assassin's dagger or the poison'd bowl.
"Be mine the task to track their secret steps,
"And meet their meditated schemes of ill."
"Th' attempt were vain, to give a picture true
"Of all the fury of Clorinda's rage;
"The dread contortions of her face and limbs;
The vile sardonic grin that ground her teeth,
As she her fiend-like curses utter'd loud,
And pour'd her torrent of opprobrius terms
And threats of vengeance on the head of Charles.
But when she found inquiries were abroad
To search out who and what and whence she was,
She deem'd it prudent, aided by the skill
Of her accomplice in the swingling art,
To flee at once, amid the shades of night;
Her dues unpaid, and not a foot-print left
By which to trace her course. Nor did Sir Charles
Continue his pursuit; but felt right glad
Thus easily to scare those birds of prey.
The rage of Cosmocrator thus broke forth -
"This dainty youth, it seems, has cured his burn
"By heat emitted from another fire.
"Shame! that an inexperienc'd blushing girl
"Should put to rout my ministers of hell!
"In this I trace that hateful Julia's hand.
"May hell burn hotter, if I thwart her not!
"The virtuous ardor in that young fool's breast
"I will so feed with fuel of my own,
"And fan it by my breath to flame so fierce,
"That he and his unspotted minion, both
"Shall sink resistless victims to its rage."
Charles, happily escap'd from woman's snares,
And his collegiate course with honor clos'd,
In England's great metropolis, at once
Assum'd his place in fashion's highest ranks;
Caress'd, extoll'd and courted by the world:
For all things mortals covet were his own;
A form and feature cast in beauty's mould;
A noble lineage and a dauntless heart;
The highest pow'rs of native intellect;
And brows with bright scholastic honors crown'd;
Abundant present and prospective wealth;
And all these gifts with youth and health adorn'd.
Thus, in abundant measure, he possess'd
Whate'er could tempt to vanity and pride.
But, from the native kindness of his heart,
He wore an air of gentle modesty,
That gave no sign of varnish'd arrogance.
Enjoy'd he but an ordinary lot,
That to his natural feelings gave full play,
The fondness felt for Mary would, ere this,
Have burst into a blaze of ardent love.
His high-toned honor ne'er had suffer'd him,
While doubtful of the course he should pursue,
To wake in Mary's mind, by word or look,
The thought that more than friendship's warmth he felt.
If in her heart a tender feeling lurk'd,
Her innate dignity conceal'd it there.
And thus no claim of honor or of right
'Gainst either could be urg'd, for both were free.
Had her demeanor rais'd in him the thought
That of another she might be the prize,
A strange alarm would have disturb'd his breast.
But never could she play the sly coquette;
For aught like artifice her soul abhorr'd.
Thus not diminish'd were the potent lures
From virtue's path, that now encompass'd Charles.
His thoughts in pleasure's chase were so engross'd,
And so bewilder'd in her flowery maze,
That time was not afforded him for aught
That could not in the instant be attain'd.
So pleasure-bound, he could not e'en pursue
And take the girl whom in his heart lov'd.
The union of these two had been the hope
And ardent wish of Julia and Sir Charles,
Who now bethought him that 'twere well to urge
His son, ere quite distracted by the world.
But Julia, with a woman's tact, said - "No;
"'Tis not the marriage of estates you seek,
"But blissful union of two loving hearts.
"Believe me then, touch not the flower of love;
"'Twill shrink and die beneath a forcing hand."
In theory, Charles was a christian true;
And with sound logic could his faith defend.
But, from the youthful mind, while present joys
Shut out all hopes and fears of future things,
And while this life appears an endless course,
Religion can be but an empty name.
Charles, for a time, neglected not his mind;
Nor suffer'd all its culture to run waste.
But soon, the reckless whirl of fashion's throng,
And bold example of his youthful peers,
Produced such wild delirium in his brain,
That he could nought but sensual pleasures taste;
The dance, the rout, the revel and debauch;
The idle sports that boast of killing time.
Not e'en the drama, now, could pleasure give,
Save when mix'd up with exhibitions lewd,
From which the eye of modesty should turn.
The daemons, circling him more closely round,
With keener malice plied their dev[']lish wiles.
The archfield eagerly now watch'd the time
To raise unholy heat within his veins.
'Twas at a ball, where Charles and Mary met,
That he commenc'd the practice of his scheme.
Charles, loitering idly, gaz'd upon the dance,
While Mary and his sister, closely link'd,
Flew, light as fairies, in the dizzy waltz.
The daemons now put forth their secret power
To throw a thought into a willing mind.
That sister was more sportive than a fawn;
And lov'd, good-humour'dly, to teaze her friend.
She made to Charles a sign, and as they pass'd,
She parted, like a dream, from her embrace,
And left her circled in her brother's arm.
The fiend now thought the heat of youthful blood
Would breed corruption in the heart of both.
But e'en the devil may outwit himself;
For, all around our Mary's charms there breath'd
An odour of such sacred innocence,
And from her eyes there beam'd a light so pure,
That Charles was aw'd, and struck with self-reproach
For having dar'd familiarly to treat
A heav'nly creature free from earthly stain.
Forthwith, from his embrace he set her free,
And to his sister yielded her again.
Could it to human sigh have been allow'd,
A glorious vision would have then appear'd.
For, like a shower of meteors glancing bright,
The heav'nly spirits compass'd her around,
Exulting o'er their wicked foe's defeat.
Charles, from that moment, was a changed man.
No longer valued he his wonted sports,
His hunting, driving, cricket, billiard, bowles.
Love, holy love confess'd, now swayed his heart.
The guardian spirit, in the heart of Charles
That lay conceal'd, while he was wandering wild,
Forth issued, freely in his breast to dwell,
When pure love there had wrought a happy change.
It were a tale told o'er and o'er again,
To tell how he his ardent love declar'd,
And how sweet Mary own'd a mutual flame.
So young and inexperienc'd were they both,
That, ere united by the nuptial tie,
It was resolv'd that he in foreign lands
Should gain a wider knowledge of the world.
Good Frank Adrain, at once, with honest zeal,
Agreed to go, his counsellor and friend.
For many a month, they wander'd far and wide
Through splendid cities, and o'er ruin'd heaps;
Admir'd the structures and the works of art
Whose authors live in memory of man,
And saw with wonder, not unmix'd with awe,
The prodigies still left from times unknown;
Trod mountain snows and burning desert sands;
Climb'd barren clif[f]s and stray'd through verdant vales;
And men and manners view'd in various forms,
From polish'd life, to wild and wandering hordes.
Their steps, at length, our travellers homeward turn'd.
And when the gay metropolis they reach'd,
By Frenchmen deem'd the glory of the world,
His angel woke in Charles the kindly thought
To seek Cadwallader, his long lost friend.
Long was the search, ere his abode they found.
'Twas in a quarter squalid and obscure.
The master of a wretched tenement
Stared at the visitors [MS visiters], while pointing to
the Door of an apartment small and mean.
Their knock was answer'd by a hoarse low voice
That seem'd unwillingly to bid them in.
George, as they enter'd, languidly arose,
And put from him th' inebriating draught;
Of misery, too oft, the last resort.
Not time alone had wrought in him sad change.
A life in gambling and in riot spent,
Embitter'd by a conscience-stri[c]ken heart,
To premature decrepitude had brought
The puff'd-up cavilling philosopher.
Emaciated, pale, and faint of breath,
His aspect gave sure token of decay.
His visitors [MS visiters] he view'd with doubtful glance:
But when their well-known names had caught his ear,
A sudden flash pass'd o'er his sunken cheeks;
And had his natural impulse been obey'd,
He would have caught them in his warm embrace.
But vanity, the poison of his soul,
Was now conjoin[']d with morbid shame-fac'd pride.
To hinder all inquiries which he shunn'd,
A cold, repulsive manner he assum'd.
But honest rugged Frank's warm Irish heart
Was not to be repuls'd by sullen looks.
Frank bluntly ask'd if he of aught had need.
"Of money if you speak," George sneering said,
"The means I still retain suffice me quite
"To keep off beggary or suicide." -
"And if to suicide you're brought," said Frank,
"Does your philosophy still give you power
To quell all dread of what may then ensue? -
"Before you ply me with religious cant,"
George, angry, said, "make out some certain faith,
"Confess'd by all, to which I may subscribe.
"Confusion 'tis and contradiction all.
"'Tis holy zeal, to wrangle and condemn;
"To boast of peace and love mid war and hate;
"To preach one thing and practice the reverse." -
"Too true," Adrian reply'd, "too true that men
"Are wretchedly corrupt and blind and vain.
"But, in what climes so'er, throughout the world,
"Sincerity and gentleness are found,
"I greatly err if minds of men diverge
"So wide apart as commonly believ'd.
"Take what your mother taught you, and be quiet.
"Ah! George Cadwallader, 'tis horrible
"To have no friend but Satan in this world."
No answer he return'd, but Charles observ'd
A slight convulsive motion on his lip.
They parted; and 'twas sad to part from him
In such a mood and such a hapless state.
It was the unxious wish of Charles, for George,
That Julia to his succour could be sent,
And prove on him her soothing eloquence.
When to their homes our travellers return'd,
And Julia learn'd the piteous state of George,
And that his end could not be distant far,
At once, without a hint from Charles receiv'd,
Her settled purpose answer'd all his wish.
She bade him be her escort on the way;
And for her journey instantly prepar'd.
How Charles and Mary met, is not describ'd;
Nor how they griev'd so soon again to part.
For things of higher note here claim our thoughts
Than joys and pains by youthful lovers felt.
When Julia enter'd the abode of George,
She found him stre[t]ch'd upon his bed of death.
Then Cosmocrator to his legions call'd;
And thus address'd the throng assembled round -
"Soon will the soul of George Cadwallader
"Be on the wing. I go to watch its flight,
"And bring it down to this its destin'd place.
"That clumsy Irishman has done no harm;
And meddling Julia now bestirs herself
"Too late to preach and pray him up to heaven.
"In youth, a famous dancer has he been.
"Now, when I go, get up, in brilliant style,
"A fancy ball, to greet him when he comes.
"'Twill be the hottest dance he ever join'd."
He ceased - and for their frolic they prepar'd;
For devils have their frolics, like mankind,
That serve but to increase their depth of woe.
Soon as their chief retir'd, the ball began.
It was, in truth, a wild fantastic scene.
A countless throng, of either sex, it seem'd,
In endless groups extending far and wide.
There might be seen the dwellers in all climes;
Each nation in its own distinctive garb;
And all the whims that Fashion ere conceiv'd;
From jealous modes that quite conceal the form,
To full display of high-bred nakedness.
And freaks and fancies in attire appear'd
To which no human thought has ever reach'd.
No style of dancing but could there be seen.
Starch sober-looking dames swam smoothly round
In dresses swoll'n by wide extended hoops.
Full many a brilliant circling set display'd
Lightfooted Gallia's elegance and art.
There frequent bands of dervishes were seen,
Like spinning jennys, swiftly whirling round.
And sober quakers danc'd, to cause a laugh,
Till streams of sweat ran down their sunken cheeks.
The war-dance of the painted savage too
Display'd its antics mid loud shouts and yells.
The polka too and waltz [MS waltze] were favorites there;
And interlacing strange of all the limbs,
Not yet to mortals here disclos'd and taught.
And wild agility such freaks display'd
As none but fiery daemons could perform.
A separate music waited on each group
Compos'd of voices floating in the air,
Resembling instruments of ev'ry sound.
Each group perceiv'd no music but its own,
Save when in one grand round th' assembly join'd.
Then would arise a burst of sound too deep
And loud to be endur'd by mortal ears.
While thus th' infernal revel rais'd its din,
The fiend was hovering o'er the couch of George,
Like bird obscene, to pounce upon his prey;
Yet kept aloof from Julia, who was there;
Nor would he listen to the words she spoke.
Her softly-flowing voice of Christian love
Was oil that made more fierce his inward fire.
When gently she approach'd the dying man,
His half-clos'd eyes he op'd, but could not speak.
The semblance of a smile stray'd o'er his lips,
And faintly her extended hand he press'd.
She kindly sooth'd him, as she wept and pray'd -
"George, I believe you've not been what you seem'd;
"A heartless unrelenting profligate.
"Oh! make me, George, some sign that you repent;
"That you believe what you in childhood learn'd."
He, with a dying effort, breath'd - "I do" -
With this last breath his trembling soul came forth;
And Cosmocrator rush'd to bear it off.
But, from the host of heaven a spirit came,
And snatch'd it from his grasp - and George was sav'd!
A bird, thus, floating on a rapid stream,
Whose violence forbids it to take wing,
Just as it rushes o'er the cataract's brow
To meet destruction in the roaring gulph,
Is caught and borne upon the viewless air,
And, circling, wings its joyous flight aloft.*
Down to earth's centre Cosmocrator dropp'd.
"Away!" - like thunder, to his imps he roar'd.
At once, the pageant was dissolv'd and gone,
More quick than steam by gelid water dash'd;
And all the actors shrunk again to imps.
Thus, bubbles for amusement blown, that rise
In rainbow colours, floating on the air,
Will burst beneath a breath of wind too rude,
And each be dwindled to a drop minute.
* This is said to happen with water fowl on the rapids of Niagara.
When round their chief his myrmidons drew near,
"Curse on those women!" furious, he exclaim'd;
The soul of George had now been one of us,
"Had not that ghost-like widow come between.
"The mother, too, of Charles liv'd long enough
"To fill his mind with notions fix'd so deep,
"That never could I root them wholly out.
"And now a second Julia has appear'd,
"With power, methinks, superior to the first.
"We've learn'd, by trial, that 'tis all in vain
"To struggle for possession of his soul.
"You who had special charge to watch him round,
"Now give the freedom other mortals have.
He yet may meet with ruin in his way.
"All, now, resume your wand'rings o'er the world;
"And, wheresoe'er you turn, spread death and woe."
The angel-guard of Charles now thus bespoke
The spirit of health that round his father watch'd -
"With thee I would confer of what is best
"And safest for the soul of my young ward.
"Thou know'st the change, of late, within him wrought;
"And how the noxious weeds that chok'd his mind
"Are now replac'd by healthful shoots that grow
"From seeds implanted by his mother's care.'
"Were it not best, while thus at peace with heaven,
"To bid his soul take wing to heav'nly climes?
"'Tis true, no longer, now he moves, the mark
"For wicked imps select to ply their skill;
"But troops of daemons ever range the world,
"To seize on erring mortals as their prey.
"Fain would I snatch him from this dangerous state;
"For o'er his life and death full pow'r I have" -
Mildly the other answer'd - "Thou art right.
"Yet it seems cruel, and I freely own
"Much pity I shall feel for my Sir Charles
"In all the anguish of his manly heart.
"But thou art right; for, in this world of woe,
"The pains endur'd are oft like surgeon's wounds,
"That cause a present hurt for future health;
"And bravely will his spirit face the blow:
"For, though unostentatious to the world,
"Within his soul capacious dwells a power
"That dares to grapple with the giant thoughts
"Which stride beyond the bounds of time and space.
"Go then, and gently execute thy will."
The nuptials, now, of Charles were soon to crown
The anxious wishes of his father's heart;
When Mary thus to Julia sadly spoke -
"I have, concerning Charles, forebodings strange.
"For, ever and anon, methinks I see
"Such tokens of incipient disease
"As fill me with anticipations dire."
Julia believ'd these but the anxious dreams
Engender'd in a loving maiden's brain;
And sought to chase them by her fearless smile
And sportive words of fond encouragement.
But friendly angels had, with kind intent,
Induced [MS Enduced] the maiden with a keener sight;
That her predestin'd sorrow, seen afar,
Might come with shock less sudden and severe.
All were, at length, constrain'd with grief to own
That Mary's apprehensions were too true;
That Charles was doom'd, in flower of youth, to wane
Beneath a painless, but a sure disease.
Then, as his faint corporeal frame decay'd,
The native rigour of his mind arose.
No weak complaining of untimely fate
And cruel disappointment, pass'd his lips.
With manly courage, based on Christian faith,
He saw his end approach. He strove to soothe
The bitter anguish of his Mary's heart
By ev'ry argument and ev'ry hope
That reason and religion could afford.
Nor was it all in vain that he essay'd
To lift her soul above this transient state.
When he perceiv'd the symptoms [MS symptom's] of his end
Approaching near, he thus to Julia spoke -
"Oft I recall what once to me occurr'd.
"I was retiring to my night's repose.
"My candle's glaring light when I put out,
"Expecting instant darkness to succeed,
"Surpris'd, I found the moon's soft silvery ray
"Spread like a mantle o'er the objects round.
"Oh, that this were an emblem of my death! - ["]
Nor was this wish mere fancy of the brain;
For, when in death his mortal vision closed,
A light celestial beam'd upon his soul,
And wings of seraphs wafted it aloft.
On other suitors Mary never smil'd.
Her life she pass'd in union with her friend
The daughter of Sir Charles - true nobleman!
Who, with high christian magnanimity,
Look'd all his sorrows bravely in the face.
And Heaven was pleas'd to grant him still on earth
Some pure unsullied pleasure to enjoy.
For, in due time, the daughter, for whose sake
Alone he valued aught the world could give,
Was wedded as her heart and his approv'd,
And rear'd a healthful beauteous progeny
Whom, with a parent's tenderness he lov'd.
And when the hour for his departure came,
Surrounded by the children of his child,
As Julia clos'd his eyes, he ceas'd to breathe.
The work of Julia, now, on earth was done.
She follow'd, soon, her brother to the skies.
And never spirit wing'd its flight, more calm,
More innocent, more joyous to depart.
'Twas not disease that prey'd upon her life;
It was her soul, that panted to be free.
When, as she sank in death, her eyes grew dim,
She thought 'twas sleep; and when her spirit pass'd,
It seem'd to her as though she woke refresh'd,
In wonder at the happy change she felt.
Two joyous cherubs greeted her - they were her own.