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The sort of mock-heroic gigantesque,
With which we banter'd little Lilia first :
The women—and perhaps they felt their power,
For something in the ballads which they sang,
Or in their silent influence as they sat,
Had ever seem'd to wrestle with burlesque,
And drove us, last, to quite a solemn close-
They hated banter, wish'd for something real,
A gallant fight, a noble princess—why
Not make her true-heroic--true-sublime ?
Or all, they said, as earnest as the close ?
Which yet with such a framework scarce could be.
Then rose a little feud betwixt the two,
Betwixt the mockers and the realists :
And I, betwixt them both, to please them both,
And yet to give the story as it rose,
I moved as in a strange diagonal,
And maybe neither pleased myself nor them.

a

But Lilia pleased me, for she took no part In our dispute: the sequel of the tale Had touch'd her; and she sat, she pluck'd the grass, She flung it from her, thinking : last, she fixt A showery glance upon her aunt, and said, “You—tell us what we are” who might have told, For she was cramm'd with theories out of books, But that there rose a shout: the gates were closed At sunset, and the crowd were swarming now, To take their leave, about the garden rails.

:

So I and some went out to these : we climb'd
The slope to Vivian-place, and turning saw
The happy valleys, half in light, and half
Far-shadowing from the west, a land of peace;
Gray halls alone among the massive groves;
Trim hamlets ; here and there a rustic tower
Half-lost in belts of hop and breadths of wheat ;
The shimmering glimpses of a stream ; the seas;
A red sail, or a white; and far beyond,
Imagined more than seen, the skirts of France.

“Look there, a garden !” said my college friend, The Tory member's elder son "and there ! God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off

, And keeps our Britain, whole within herself,

A nation yet, the rulers and the ruled-
Some sense of duty, something of a faith,
Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made,
Some patient force to change them when we will,
Some civic manhood firm against the crowd-
But yonder, whiff! there comes a sudden heat,
The gravest citizen seems to lose his head,
The king is scared, the soldier will not fight,
The little boys begin to shoot and stab,
A kingdom topples over with a shriek
Like an old woman, and down rolls the world
In mock heroics stranger than our own;
Revolts, republics, revolutions, most
No graver than a schoolboys' barring out;
Too comic for the solemn things they are,
Too solemn for the comic touches in them,
Like our wild Princess with as wise a dream
As some of theirs-God bless the narrow seas !
I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad."

a

“Have patience," I replied, “ourselves are full Of social wrong; and maybe wildest dreams Are but the needful preludes of the truth : For me, the genial day, the happy crowd, The sport half-science, fill me with a faith. This fine old world of ours is but a child Yet in the go-cart.

Patience! Give it time To learn its limbs: there is a hand that guides."

a

In such discourse we gain'd the garden rails, And there we saw Sir Walter where he stood, Before a tower of crimson holly-oaks, Among six boys, head under head, and look'd No little lily-handed Baronet he, A great broad-shoulder'd genial Englishman, A lord of fat prize-oxen and of sheep, A raiser of huge melons and of pine, A patron of some thirty charities, A pamphleteer on guano and on grain, A quarter-sessions chairman, abler none; Fair-hair'd and redder than a windy morn; Now shaking hands with him, now him, of those That stood the nearest—now address'd to speechWho spoke few words and pithy, such as closed Welcome, farewell, and welcome for the year

To follow: a shout rose again, and made
The long line of the approaching rookery swerve
From the elms, and shook the branches of the deer
From slope to slope thro' distant ferns, and rang
Beyond the bourn of sunset; O, a shout
More joyful than the city-roar that hails
Premier or king! Why should not these great Sirs
Give up their parks some dozen times a year
To let the people breathe? So thrice they cried,
I likewise, and in groups they stream'd away.

But we went back to the Abbey, and sat on,
So much the gathering darkness charm'd: we sat
But spoke not, rapt in nameless reverie,
Perchance upon the future man: the walls
Blacken'd about us, bats wheel'd, and owls whoop'd,
And gradually the powers of the night,
That range above the region of the wind,
Deepening the courts of twilight broke them up
Thro' all the silent spaces of the worlds,
Beyond all thought into the Heaven of Heavens.

Last little Lilia, rising quietly,
Disrobed the glimmering statue of Sir Ralph

From those rich silks, and home well-pleased we went. (1853)

CXL

MAUD

I

I

I HATE the dreadful hollow behind the little wood,
Its lips in the field above are dabbled with blood-red heath,
The red-ribb'd ledges drip with a silent horror of blood,
And Echo there, whatever is ask'd her, answers “Death.”

2

For there in the ghastly pit long since a body was found, His who had given me life--O father! O God! was it

well ? Mangled, and flatten'd, and crush'd, and dinteä into the

ground: There yet lies the rock that fell with him when he fell.

3 Did he fling himself down? who knows ? for a vast

speculation had fail'd, And ever he mutter'd and madden'd, and ever wann'd with

despair, And out he walk'd when the wind like a broken worldling

wail'd, And the flying gold of the ruin'd woodlands drove thro' the

air.

4 I remember the time, for the roots of my hair were stirr'd By a shuffled step, by a dead weight trail'd, by a whisper'd

fright, And my pulses closed their gates with a shock on my heart

as I heard The shrill-edged shriek of a mother divide the shuddering night.

5 Villainy somewhere! whose ? One says, we are villains

all. Not he: his honest fame should at least by me be

maintain'd: But that old man, now lord of the broad estate and the

Hall, Dropt off gorged from a scheme that had left us flaccid and drain'd.

6 Why do they prate of the blessings of Peace? we have made

them a curse, Pickpockets, each hand lusting for all that is not its own; And lust of gain, in the spirit of Cain, is it better or worse Than the heart of the citizen hissing in war on his own hearthstone ?

7 But these are the days of advance, the works of the men of

mind, When who but a fool would have faith in a tradesman's ware

or his word? Is it peace or war? Civil war, as I think, and that of a

kind The viler, as underhand, not openly bearing the sword.

a

8 Sooner or later I too may passively take the print Of the golden age--why not? Í have neither hope nor

trust; May make my heart as a millstone, set my face as a flint, Cheat and be cheated, and die : who knows ? we are ashes and dust.

9 Peace sitting under her olive, and slurring the days gone by, When the poor are hovelld and hustled together, each sex,

like swine, When only the ledger lives, and when only not all men lie; Peace in her vineyard-yes !—but a company forges the

wine.

IO

And the vitriol madness flushes up in the ruffian's head,
Till the filthy by-lane rings to the yell of the trampled wife,
While chalk and alum and plaster are sold to the poor for

bread, And the spirit of murder works in the very means of life.

II

And Sleep must lie down arm’d, for the villainous centre

bits Grind on the wakeful ear in the hush of the moonless

nights, While another is cheating the sick of a few last gasps, as

he sits To pestle a poison'd poison behind his crimson lights.

I 2

a

When a Mammonite mother kills her babe for a burial fee,
And Timour-Mammon grins on a pile of children's bones,
Is it peace or war? better, war! loud war by land and by

sea, War with a thousand battles, and shaking a hundred thrones.

13 For I trust if an enemy's fleet came yonder round by the

hill, And the rushing battle-bolt sang from the three-decker out

of the foam, That the smoothfaced snubnosed rogue would leap from his

counter and till, And strike, if he could, were it but with his cheating yard

wand, home.

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