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A pnosr composition, one not in metre at least, seems prima facie to require explanation or apology. It was written in the year 1798, near Nether Stowey in Somersetshire, at which place (sanctum et amabile nomen rich by so many ass ions and recollections) the Author had taken up his residence in order to enjoy the society and close neighbourhood of a dear and honoured friend, T. Poole, Esq. The work was to have been written in concert with another, whose name is too venerable within the precincts of genius to be unnecessarily brought into connection with such a trifle, and who was then residing at a small distance from Nether Stowey. The title and subject were suggested by myself, who likewise drew out the scheme and the contents for each of the three books or cantos, of which the work was to consist, and which, the reader is to be informed, was to have been finished in one night ! My partner dertook the first canto: I the second: and whichever had done first, was to set about the third. Almost thirty years have passed by: yet at this moment I cannot without something more than a smile moot the question which of the two things was the more impracticable, for a n so eminently original to compose another man's thoughts and fancies, or for a taste so austerely pure and simple to imitate the Death of Abel Methinks I see his trand and nolle countenance as at the moment when having dispatched my own portion of the task at full finger-speed, I hastened to him with my manuscript—that look of humoron, despondency fixed on his ai. most blauk sheet of paper, aud then its silent mock-piteous admission of failure struggling with the sense of the exceeding ridiculousness of the whole scheme-v,hich broke up in a laugh : and the Ancient Mariner was written instead. Years afterward, however, the draft of the Plan and proposed Incidents, and the portion executed, obtained favour in the eyes of more than one person, whose judgment on a poetic work could not but have weighed with me, even bough no parental partiality had been thrown into the same scale, as a make-weight: and I determined on comuencing anew, and composing the whole in stanzas, and made some progress in realizing this intention, when adverse
pales drove my bark off the - Fortunate Isless of the Muses: and then other and more momentous interests prompted a differeo" voyage, to firmer anchorage and a securer port: I have in vain tried to recover the lines from the Palimpsest table of my memory and 1 can only offer the introductory stanza, which had teen Gotomitted to writing for the purpose of procuring a friend's judgme” on the metre, as a specimen. Encinctured with a twine of leaves, That leasy wine his only dress A lovely Boy was plucking fruits, loy moonlight, in a wilderness. The morn was bright, the air was free, And fruits and flowers together (srew on many a shrub and many a tree: And all put on a gentle hue, Hanging in the s! adowy air Like a picture rich and rare. It was a climate where, they say, The night is more elovel than day. But who that beauteous soy beguiled. That heaueous Roy, to linger bere? Alone, by night, a little child, In place so silent and so wildHas he no friend, no loving Mother near !
I have here given the birth, parentage, and premature decease of the - Wanderings of Cain, a poem,--intreating, however, my Readers not to think so meanly of my judguent, as to suppose that I either regard or offer it as any excuse for the publication of the following fragment (and, I may add, of one or two others in its neighbourhood), in its primitive crudity. But I should find -tatt ;reater difficulty in forgiving myself, were 1 to record pro too publico a set of petty unishaps and annoyances which I myself wist, to forget. I must be content therefore with assuring the friendly Reader, that the less he attributes its appearance to the Author's will, choice, or judgment, the nearer to the truth he will be.
S. T. C.
. A little further, O my father, yet a little further, and we shall come into the open moonlight." Their road was through a forest of fir-trees; at its entrance the trees stood at distances from each other, and the path was broad, and the moonlight, and the rnoonlight shadows reposed upon it, and appeared quietly to inhabit that solitude. But soon the path winded and becaume narrow ; the sun at high noon sometimes speckled, but never illumined it, and now it was dark as a cavern.
• It is dark, O my father!" said Enos; , but the path under our feet is smooth and soft, and we shall soon come out into the open moonlight."
w Lead on, my child !“ said Cain : . guide one, little child!" And the innocent little child clasped a finger of the hand winich had murdered the righteous Abel, and he guided his father. . The fir branches drip upon thee, my son. . . Yea, pleasantly, father, for 1 ran fast and eagerly to bring thee the pitcher and the cake, and my body is not yet cool. How happy the squirrels are that feed on these fir-trees' they leap from bough to bough, and the old squirrels play round their young ones in the nest. I clomb a tree yesterday at noon, 9 my father, that I might play with then , but they leapt away from the branches, even to the slender twigs did they leap, and in a moment 1 beheld then on another tree. Why, O my father, would they not play with me? I would be good to them as thou art good to me: and I groaned to them even as thou groanest when thou givest me to eat, and when thou coverest me at evening, and as often as I stand at thy knce and thine eyes look at me... Then Cain stopped, and stifling his groans he sank to the earth, and the child Enos stood in the darkness beside him.
And Cain lifted up his voice and cried bitterly, and said, “The Mighty One that persecuteth me is on this side and on that; he pursueth my soul like the wind, like the sand-blast he passeth through me; he is around me even as the air! O that I might be utterly no more! I desire to die—yel, the things that never had life, neither move they upon the earth—behold they seem precious to miue eyes. O that a man might live without the breath of his nostrils' So I might abide in darkness, and blackness, and an empty space! Yea, I would lie down, I would not rise, neither would I stir my limbs till I became as the rock in the den of the lion, on which the young lion resteth his head whilst he sleepeth. For the torrent that roareth far off hath a voice, and the clouds in heaven look terribly on me; the Mighty One who is against me speaketh in the wind of the cedar grove; and in silence am I dried up." Then Enos spake to his father: . Arise my father, arise, we are but a little way from the place where I found the cake and the pitcher." And Cain said, “How knowest thou?” and the child answered–. Behold the bare rocks are a few of thy strides distant from the forest; and while even now thou wert lifting up thy voice, I heard the echo.” Then the child took hold of his father, as if he would raise him ; and Cain being
faint and feeble, rose slowly on his knees and pressed
himself against the trunk of a fir, and stood upright, and followed the child. The path was dark till within three strides' length of its termination, when it turned suddenly; the thick black trees formed a low arch, and the moonlight appeared for a moment like a dazzling portal. Enos ran before and stood in the open air; and when Cain, his father, emerged from the darkness, the child was affrighted. For the mighty limbs of Cain were wasted as by fire; his hair was as the matted curls on the Bison's forehead, and so glared his fierce and sullen eye beneath ; and the black abundant locks on either side, a rank and tangled mass, were stained and scorched, as though the grasp of a burning iron hand had striven to rend them; and his countenance told in a strange and terrible language of agonies that had been, and were, and were still to continue to be. The scene around was desolate; as far as the eye could reach it was desolute : the bare rocks faced each other, and left a long and wide interval of thin white sand. You might wander on and look round and round, and peep into the crevices of the rocks and discover nothing that acknowledged the influence of the seasons. There was no spring, no summer, no autumn: and the winter's snow, that would have been lovely, fell not on these hot rocks and scorching sands. Never morning lark had poised himself over this desert; but the huge serpent often hissed there beneath the talons of the vulture, and the vulture screamed, his wings inprisoned within the coils of the serpent. The pointed and shattered summits of the ridges of the rocks made a rude mimicry of human concerns, and seemed to prophecy mutely of things that then were not; sleeples, and battlements, and ships with naked masts. As far from the wood as a boy night sling a pebble of the brook, there was one rock by itself at a small distance from the main ridge. It had been precipitated there perhaps by the groan which the Earth uttered when our first father fell. Before you approached, it appeared to
| lie flat on the ground, but its base slanted from its point, and between its point and the sands a tall man might stand upright. It was here that Enos had found the pitcher and cake, and to this place he led his father. But ere they had reached the rock they beheld a human shape : his back was towards them, and they were advancing unperceived, when they heard him smite his breast and cry aloud, “Wo is me! wo is me ! I must never die again, and yet I am perishing with thirst and hunger." Pallid, as the reflection of the sheeted lightning on the heavy-sailing night-cloud, became the face of Cain; but the child Enos took hold of the shaggy skin, his father's robe, and raised his eyes to his father, and listening whispered, - Ere yet I could speak, I am sure, O my father' that I heard that voice. Have not I often said that I remembered a sweet voice. O my father this is it: * and Cain trembled exceedingly. The voice was sweet indeed, but it was thin and querulous like that of a feeble slave in misery, who despairs altogether, yet can. not resrain himself from weeping and lamentation. And, behold : Enos glided forward, and creeping softly round the base of the rock, stood before the stranger, and looked up into his face. And the Shape shrieked, and turned round, and Cain beheld him, that his limbs and his face were those of his brother Abel whom he had killed! And Cain stood like one who struggles in his sleep because of the exceeding terribleness of a dream. Thus as he stood in silence and darkness of soul, the Shape fell at his feet, and embraced his knees, and cried out with a bitter outcry, “ Thou eldest born of Adam, whom Eve, my mother, brought forth, cease to torment me! I was feeding my flocks in green pastures by the side of quiet rivers, and thou killedst me; and now I am in misery. - Then Cain closed his eyes, and hid them with his hands; and again he opened his eyes, and looked around him, and said to Enos, - What beholdest thou? Didst thou hear a voice, my son on . Yes, my father, I beheld a man in unclean garments, and he uttered a sweet voice, full of lamentation. - Then Cain raised up the Shape that was like Abel, and said:—. The Creator of our father, who had respect unto thee, and unto thy offering, wherefore hath he forsaken thee tThen the Shape shricked a second time, and rent his garment, and his naked skin was like the white sands beneath their feet; and he shrieked yet a third time, and threw himself on his face upon the sand that was black with the shadow of the rock, and Cain and Enos sate beside him ; the child by his right hand, and Cain by his left. within the shadow. The Shape that was like Abel raised himself up, and spake to the child : . I know where the cold waters are, but I may not drink; wherefore didst thou then take away my pitcher 1. But Cain said, “ Didst thou not find favour in the sight of the Lord thy God?" The Shape answered, “The Lord is God of the living only, the dead have another God.” Then the child Enos lifted up his eyes and prayed; but Cain rejoiced secretly in his heart. Wretched shall they be all the days of their mortal life,” exclaimed the Shape, * who sacrifice worthy and acceptable sacrifices to the God of the dead; but after death their toil ceaseth. Woe is me, for I was well beloved by the God of the living, and cruel wert thou, O my brother, who didst snatch me away from his power and his dominion.” Having
They were all three under the rock, and
uttered these words, he rose suddenly, and fled over the now unfelt, but never forgotten. It was at once the sands; and Cain said in his heart, “ The curse of the melancholy of hope and of resignation.
Lord is on Rne; but who is the God of the dead?" and he We had not long been fellow-travellers, ere a sudden ran after the shape, and the Shape fled shrieking over tempest of wind and rain forced us to seek protection in the sands, and the sands rose like white mists behind the the vaulted door-way of a lone chapelry: and we sate steps of Cain, but the feet of him that was like Abel dis-face to face each on the stone bench along-side the low, turbed not the sands. He greatly outran Cain, and weather-stained wall, and as close as possible to the
turning short, he wheeled round, and came again to the rock where they had been sitting, and where Enos still stood; and the child caught hold of his garment as he passed by, and he fell upon the ground. And Cain stopped, and beholding him not, said, - he has passed into the dark woods,” and he walked slowly back to the rocks; and when he reached it the child told him that he had caught hold of his garment as he passed by, and that the man had fallen upon the ground: and Cain once more sate beside him, and said, - Abel, my brother, I would lament for thee, but that the spirit within me is withered, and burnt up with extreme agony. Now,
pray thee, by thy flocks, and by thy pastures, and by the quiet rivers which thou lovedst, that thou tell me all that thou knowest. Who is the God of the dead 2 where doth he make his dwelling? what sacrifices are acceptable unto him for I have offered, but have not been re
the first time in the porch of Death All extremes meet,
I answered; but yours was a strange and visionary thought. The better then doth it beseem both the place and me, he replied. From a Visionary wilt thou hear a Vision 1 Mark that vivid flash through this torrent of rain! Fire and water. Even here thy adage holds true, and its truth is the moral of my Vision. I entreated him to proceed. Sloping his face toward the arch and yet averting his eye from it, he seemed to seek and prepare his words: till listening to the wind that echoed within the hollow edifice, and to the rain without,
which stole on his thoughts with its two-fold sound,
he gradually sunk away, alike from me and from his
light could enter, untinged by the medium through o
which it passed. The body of the building was full of people, some of them dancing, in and out, in unintelligible figures, with strange ceremonies and antic merri
Even so there was a memory on his smooth and ample ment, while others seemed convulsed with horror, or forehead, which blended with the dedication of his pining in mad melancholy. Intermingled with these, I steady eyes, that still looked—I know not, whether observed a number of men, clothed in ceremonial robes, upward, or far onward, or rather to the line of meeting who appeared, now to marshal the various groups and where the sky rests upon the distance. But how may to direct their movements, and now with menacing express that dimness of abstraction which lay on the countenances, to drag some reluctant victim to a vast lustre of the pilgrim's eyes, like the fitting tarnish from idol, framed of iron bars intercrossed, which formed at the breath of a sigh on a silver mirror! and which ac- the same time an immense cage, and the shape of a corded with their slow and reluctant movement, when-human Colossus.
ever he turned them to any object on the right hand or I stood for a while lost in wonder what these things on the left? It seemed, methought, as if there lay upon mi
might mean; when lo! one of the directors came up to the brightness a sliadowy presence of disappointments me, and with a stern and reproachful look bade me
out to my view, terrible, yet vacant.
uncover my head, for that the place into which I had entered was the temple of the only true Religion, in the holier recess of which the great Goddess personally resided. Himself too he bade me reverence, as the consecrated minister of her rites. Awe-struck by the name of Religion, I bowed before the priest, and humbly and earnestly intreated him to conduct me into her presence. He assented. Offerings he took from me, with mystic sprinklings of water and with sall he purified, and with strange suftlations he exorcised me; and then led me through many a dark and winding alley, the dewdamps of which chilled my flesh, and the hollow echoes under my feet, mingled, methought, with moanings, affrighted me. At length we entered a large hall, without window, or spiracle, or lamp. The asylum and dormitory it seemed of perennial night—only that the walls were brought to the eye by a number of self luminous inscriptions in letters of a pale pulchral light, that held strange neutrality with the darkness, on the verge of which it kept its rayless vigil. I could read them, methought ; but though each one of the words taken separately I seemed to understand, yet when I took them in sentences, they were riddles and incomprehensible. As I stood meditating on these hard sayings, my guide thus addressed me—Ilead and believe: these are Mysteries!—At the extremity of the vast hall the Goddess was placed. Her features, blended with darkness, rose I prostrated myself before her, and then retired with my guide, soulwithered, and wondering, and dissatisfied. As I re-entered the body of the temple, I heard a deep buzz as of discontent. A few whose eyes were bright, and either piercing or steady, and whose ample foreheads, with the weighty bar, ridge-like, above the eyebrows, bespoke observation followed by meditative thought; and a much larger number, who were enraged by the severity and insolence of the priests in exacting their offerings, had collected in one tumultuous group, and with a confused outcry of - this is the Temple of Superstition!" after much contunely, and turmoil, and cruel mal-treatment on all sides, rushed out of the pile : and I, methought, joined them. We speeded from the Temple with hasty steps, and had now nearly gone round half the valley, when we were addressed by a woman, tall beyond the stature of mortals, and with a something more than human in her countenance and mien, which yet could by mortals be only felt, not conveyed by words or intelligibly distinguished. Deep reflection, animated by ardent feelings, was displayed in them: and hope, without its uncertainty, and a something more than all these, which I understood not, but which yet seemed to blend all these into a divine unity of expression. Her garments were white and matronly, and of the simplest texture. We inquired her name. My name, she replied, is Religion. The more numerous part of our company, affrighted by the very sound, and sore from recent impostures or sorceries, hurried onwards and examined no farther. A few of us, struck by the manifest opposition of her form and manners to those of the living Idol, whom we had so recently abjured, agreed to follow her, though with cautious circuinspection. She led us to an eminence in the midst of the valley, from the top of which we could command the whole plain, and observe the relation of the different parts of each to the other, and of each to
the whole, and of all to each. She then gave us an optic glass which assisted without contradicting our natural vision, and enabled us to see far beyond the limits of the Valley of Life: though our eye even thus assisted permitted us only to behold a light and a glory, but what we could not descry, save only that it was, and that it was most glorious. And now, with the rapid transition of a dream, I had overtaken and rejoined the more numerous party, who had abruptly left us, indignant at the very name of religion. They journeyed on, goading each other with remembrances of past oppressions, and never looking back, till in the eagerness to recede from the Temple of Superstition, they had rounded the whole circle of the valley. And lo! there faced us the mouth of a vast cavern, at the base of a lofty and almost perpendicular rock, the interior side of which, unknown to them, and unsuspected, formed the extreme and backward wall of the Temple. An impatient crowd, we cntered the vast and dusky cave, which was the only perforation of the precipice. At the mouth of the cave sate two figures; the first, by her dress and gestures, I knew to be SensuALITY; the second form, from the fierceness of his demeanour, and the brutal scornfulness of his looks, declared himself to be the monster Blasphemy. He uttered big words, and yet ever and anon I observed that he turned pale at his own courage. We entered. Some remained in the opening of the cave, with the one or the other of its guardians. The rest, and I among them, pressed on, till we reached an ample chamber, that seemed the centre of the rock. The climate of the place was unnaturally cold. In the furthest distance of the chamber sate an old dim-eyed man, poring with a microscope over the Torso of a statue which hath neither basis, nor feet, nor head; but on its breast was carved NATURE! To this he continually applied his glass, and seemed enraptured with the various inequalities which it rendered visible on the seemingly polished surface of the marble.—Yet evermore was this delight and triumph followed by expressions of hatred, and vehement railings against a Being, who yet, he assured us, had no existence. This mystery suddenly recalled to me what I had read in the Holiest Recess of the temple of Superstition. The old man spoke in divers tongues, and continued to utter other and most strange mysteries. Among the rest he talked much and vellemently concerning an infinite series of causes and effects, which he explained to be—a string of blind men, the last of whom caught hold of the skirt of the one before him, he of the next, and so on till they were all out of sight; and that they all walked infallibly straight, without making one false step, though all were alike blind. Methought I borrowed courage from surprise, and asked him—who then is at the head to guide them? He looked at me with ineffable contempt, not unmixed with an angry suspicion, and then replied, - No one.” The string of blind men went on for ever without any beginning : for although one blind man could not move without stumbling, yet infinite blindness supplied the want of sight. I burst into laughter, which instantly turned to terror—for as he started forward in rage, I caught a glance of him from behind; and lo! I beheld a monster bi-form and Janus-headed, in the hinder face and shape of which I instantly recognized the dread countenance of Supenstition—and in the terror I awoke.
THE IMPROVISATORE; on a John ANDEnsox, MY Jo, John. •
Scens:- A spacious drawing-room, with music-room adjoining.
cat in eni N.E. What are the words?
eLiz A. Ask our friend, the Improvisatore; here he comes: Kate has a favour to ask of you, Sir; it is that you will repeat the ballad that Mr –- sung so sweetly. frui e N ty. It is in Moore's Irish Melodies; but I do not recollect the words distinctly. The moral of them, however, I take to be this:—
Love would remain the same if true,
ELIZA. What are the lines you repeated from Beaumont and Fletcher, which my brother admired so much! It be- | gins with something about two vines so close that their tendrils intermingle. frt if N D. You mean Charles' speech to Angelina, in a the Elder Brother. we'll live together, like two neighbour vines, Circlini; our souls and loves in one another: We'll spring together, and we II bear one fruit; One joy shall make us smile, and one grief mourn! One age go with us, and one bour of death Slall close our eyes, and one grave make us happy.
CAthen 1 Ne. A precious boon, that would go far to reconcile one to old age—this love, if true! But is there any such true love? fill end. I hope so. CAthen in E. But do you believe it? Eliza (eagerly.) I am sure he does. Fini rvid. From a man turned of fifty, Catherine, I imagine, expects a less confident answer. c \tile Rine. A more sincere one, perhaps, Friend. Even though he should have obtained the nick-name of Improvisatore, by perpetrating charades and extempore verses at Christmas times? ELIZA. Nay, but be serious. Fit text).
Serious? Doubtless. A grave personage of my years giving a love-lecture to two young ladies, cannot well be otherwise. The difficulty, I suspect, would be for them to remain so. It will be asked whether I am not the elderly gentleman - who sate a despairing beside a clear stream," with a willow for his wig-block.
Say another word, and we will call it downright af
c.A.Then in E. No! we will be affronted, drop a courtesy, and ask pardon for our presumption in expecting that Mr —— would waste his sense on two insignificant girls. rtal to Nu). Well, well I will be serious. Hern' Now then cornmences the discourse; Mr Moore's song being the text. Love, as distinguished from Friendship, on the one hand. and from the passion that too often usurps its name, on the other— Lucius. (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the trio, in a whisper to the Friend.) But is not Love the union of both faiend (aside to Lucius). He never loved who thinks so. ELIZA. Brother, we don't want you. There! Mrs H. cannot arrange the flower-vase without you. Thank you, Mrs Hartman. Lucius. I know what I will say: ELIZA. Off! off! Now, dear sir, Love, you were saying— rfall End. Hush! Preaching, you mean, Eliza. Eliza (inpatiently).
I'll have my revenge!
Well then, I was saying that Love, truly such, is itself not the most common thing in the world : and inutual love still less so. But that enduring personal attachment, so beautifully delineated by Erin's sweet melodist, and still more touchingly, perhaps, in the wellknown ballad, - John Anderson my jo, John," in addition to a depth and constancy of character of no every-day occurrence, supposes a peculiar sensibility and tenderness of nature; a constitutional communicativeness and utterancy of heart and soul; a delight in the detail of sympathy, in the outward and visible signs of the sacrament within—to count, as it were, the pulses of the life of love. But above all, it supposes a soul which, even in the pride and summer-tide of life —even in the lustillood of health and strength, had felt oftenest and prized highest that which age cannot take away, and which, in all our lovings, is the Love;——
ri, iz A.
There is something here (pointing to her heart) that seems to understand you, but wants the word that would make it understand itself.
cAt in or in E.
I, too, seem to feel what you mean.
feeling for us.
——I mean that wilting sense of the insufficingness of the self for itself, which predisposes a generous nature to see, in the total being of another, the supplement and completion of its own—that quiet perpetual seeking which the presence of the beloved object modulates, not suspends, where the heart monently finds, and, finding, again seeks on—lastly, when - life's changeful orb has passd the full, a confirmed faith in the nobleness of humanity, thus brought home and pressed, as it were, to the very boxom of hourly experience: it supposes, I say, a heart-felt reverence for worth, not the less deep because divested of its solemnity by habit, by