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For in his thought he visited
The spots in which, ere dead and damned, He his wayward life had led; Yet knew not whence the thoughts were fed,
Which thus his fancy crammed.
And these obscure remembrances
For though it was without a sense
Many a ditch and quick-set fence;
Of lakes he had intelligence,
He knew something of heath, and fell.
He had also dim recollections
Of pedlars tramping on their rounds;
But Peter's verse was clear, and came
Of a cold age, that none might tame
The soul of that diviner flame
PART THE SIXTH.
■ O That mine enemy had written
A book !"—cried Job:—a fearful curse;
If to the Arab, as the Briton,
Twas galling to be critic-bitten :—
When Peter's next new book found vent,
The Devil to all the first Reviews
And this short notice—" Pray abuse."
Then seriatim, month and quarter,
Appeared such mad tirades.—One said—
Another—" Let him shave his head!
Where's Dr. Willis!—Or is he joking!
In that barbarian Shakspeare poking!"
One more, "Is incest not enough!
And must there be adultery too J Grace after meat! Miscreant and Liar! Thief! Blackguard 1 Scoundrel! Fool! Hell-fire
Is twenty times too good for you.
"By that last book of yours We think
\ ou've double damned yourself to scorn; We warned you whilst yet on the brink You stood. From your black name will shrink The babe that is unborn."
All these Reviews the Devil made
Up in a parcel, which he had
Untied them—read them—went half mad.
"What !" cried he, " this is my reward
For nights of thought, and days of toil!
"What have I done to them t—and who
Is Mrs. Foy! 'Tis very cruel To speak of me and Emma so! Adultery ! God defend me! Oh!
I've half a mind to fight a duel.
"Or," cried he, a grave look collecting,
"Is it my genius, like the moon,
For Peter did not know the town,
For half a guinea or a crown,
He bought oblivion or renown
From God's own voice * in a review.
All Peter did on this occasion
Was, writing Bome sad stuff in prose.
It is a dangerous invasion
When poets criticise ; their station
The Devil then sent to Leipsic fair,
For Bonn's translation of Kant's book; A world of words, tail foremost, where Right—wrong—false—true—and foul—and fai r, As in a lottery-wheel are shook.
Five thousand crammed octavo pages
Of German psychologies,—he
More than will e'er be duo to me.
I looked on them nine several days,
A friend, too, spoke in their dispraise,—
He never read them ;—with amaze
When the book came, the"Dcvil sent
It to P. Verbovale,t Esquire,
And set his soul on fire.
Fire, which ex luce prtebens fumum.
Of truth's clear well—when I and you Ma'am,
Go, as we shall do, subter humum,
Now Peter ran to seed in soul
Into a walking paradox;
—Among the woods and rocks.
Furious he rode, where late he ran,
Turned to a formal puritan,
A solemn and unsexual man,—
This steed in vision he would ride,
High trotting over nine-inch bridges,
* Vox populi, vox dei. As Mr. Godwin truly observes of a more famous saying, of some merit as a popular maxim, but totally destitute of philosophical accuracy.
t Quad, Qui valelverba:—i.e. all the words which have been, axe, or may be expended by, for, against, with, or on him. A sufficient proof of the utility of this history. Peter's progenitor who selected this name seems to have possessed a pure anticipated cognition of the nature and modesty of this ornament of his posterity.
After these ghastly rides, he came
Home to his heart, and found from thence
Much stolen of its accustomed flame;
His thoughts grew weak, drowsy, and lame
To Peter's view, all seemed one hue;
He was no whig, he was no tory;
Nothing, was all his glory.
One single point in his belief
From his organisation sprung, The heart-enrooted faith, the chief Ear in his doctrines' blighted sheaf,
That " happiness is wrong ;"
So thought Calvin and Dominic;
So think their fierce successors, who Even now would neither stint nor stick Our flesh from off our bones to pick,
If they might " do their do."
His morals thus were undermined :—
Was born anew within his mind;
He grew dull, harsh, sly, unrefined,
As when he tramped beside the Otter *.
In the death hues of agony
Lambently flashing from a fish,
Mixed with a certain hungry wish.t
So in his Country's dying face
Seeking in vain his last embrace,
Wailing her own abandoned case,
With hardened sneer he turned away:
And coolly to his own soul said ;—
A poem on her when she's dead :—
Or, no—a thought is in my head—
"My wife wants one.—Let who will bury
• A famous river in the new Atlantis of tho Dynastophylic Pantisocrntists.
t Sec the description of the beautiful colours produced during the agonising death of a number of trout, in the fourth part of a long poem in blank verse, published within a few years. That poem contains curious evidence of the gradual hardening of a strong but circumscribed sensibility, of the perversion of a penetrating but panicstricken understanding. Tho author might have derived a lesson which he had probably forgotten from these sweet and sublime verses.
This lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide.
Taught both by what she J shows and what conceal*.
Never to blend our pleasure or our pride
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.
And so his Soul would not be gay,
But moaned within him ; like a fawn
As troubled skies stain waters clear,
The storm in Peter's heart and mind Now made his verses dark and queer: They were the ghosts of what they were, Shaking dim grave-clothes in the wind.
For he now raved enormous folly,
Of Baptisms, Sunday-schools, and Graves, Twould make George Colman melancholy, To have heard him, like a male Molly, Chaunting those stupid staves.
Yet the Reviews, who heaped abuse
So soon as in his song they spy,
The folly which soothes tyranny,
■ He was a man, too great to scan ;—
A planet lost in truth's keen rays:— His virtue, awful and prodigious ;— He was the most sublime, religious, Pure-minded Poet of these days."
As soon as he read that, cried Peter,
"Eureka! I have found the way
Then Peter wrote odes to the Devil ;—
"May Carnage and Slaughter,
Thy niece and thy daughter,
May Rapine and Famine,
Thy gorge ever cramming,
Glut thee with living and dead!
"May death and damnation,
Slash them at Manchester,
Glasgow, Leeds and Chester;
"Let thy body-guard yeomen
Hew down babes and women, And laugh with bold triumph till Heaven be rent,
When Moloch in Jewry,
Munched children with fury, It was thou, Devil, dining with pure intent."*
PART THE SEVENTH.
Tbb Devil now knew his proper cue.
Soon as he read the ode, he drove
To his friend Lord Mac Murderchouse's,
A man of interest in both houses,
a Pray find some cure or sinecure;
To feed from the superfluous taxes, A friend of ours—a poet—fewer Have fluttered tamer to the lure
Than he." His lordship stands and racks his
Stupid brains, while one might count
At length replies; from his mean front,
Like one who rubs out an account,
"It happens fortunately, dear Sir,
I can. I hope I need require
That hell be worthy of his hire."
These words exchanged, the news sent off
To Peter, home the Devil hied,—
The Devil's corpse was leaded down;
His decent heirs enjoyed his pelf, Mourning-coaches, many a one, Followed his hearse along the town:—
Where was the devil himself?
When Peter heard of his promotion,
His eyes grew like two stars for bliss: There was a bow of sleek devotion, Engendering in his back ; each motion Seemed a Lord's shoe to kiss.
He hired a house, bought plate, and made
A genteel drive up to his door, With sifted gravel neatly laid,As if defying all who said,
Peter was ever poor.
• It is curious to observe how often extremes meet. Cobbett and Peter us© the same language for a different purpose: Peter is indeed a sort of metrical Cobbett. Cobbett is, however, more mischievous than Peter, because he pollutes a holy and now unconquerable cause with the principles of legitimato murder; whilst the other only makes a bad one ridiculous and odious.
If either Peter or Cobbett should sec this note, each will feel more indignation at being compared to the other than at any censure implied in the moral perversion laid to their charge.
But a disease soon struck into
The very life and soul of Peter—
And yet a strange and horrid curse
Peter was dull—he was at first
Dull—0, so dull—so very dull! Whether he talked, wrote, or rehearsed— Still with this dulness was he cursed—
Dull—beyond all conception—dull.
No one could read his books—no mortal,
The parson came not near his portal;
His state was like that of the immortal
Described by Swift—no man could bear him.
His sister, wife, and children yawned,
All human patience far beyond;
Their hopes of Heaven each would have pawned, Any where else to be.
But in his verse, and in his prose,
The essence of his dulness was Concentred and compressed so close, "f would have made Guatimozin doze
On his red gridiron of brass.
A printer's boy, folding those pages,
Fell slumbrously upon one side; Like those famed seven who slept three ages. To wakeful frenzy's vigil rages,
As opiates, were the same applied.
Even the Reviewers who were hired
To do the work of his reviewing, With adamantine nerves, grew tired ;— Gaping and torpid they retired,
To dream of what they should be doing.
And worse and worse, the drowsy curse
A wide contagious atmosphere,
Creeping like cold through all tilings near: A power to infect and to infest.
His servant-maids and dogs grew dull;
His kitten, late a sportive elf, The woods and lakes, so beautiful, Of dim stupidity were full,
All grew dull as Peter's self.
The earth under his feet—the springs,
Which lived within it a quick life,
The birds and beasts within the wood,
Were now a silent multitude;
Love's work was left unwrought—no brood Near Peter's house took wing.
And every neighbouring cottager
Stupidly yawned upon the other: No jack-ass brayed ; no little cur Cocked up his ears ;—no man would stir To save a dying mother.
Yet all from that charmed district went
But some half-idiot and half-knave,
No bailiff dared within that space,
A man would bear upon his face,
For fifteen months in any case,
Seven miles above—below—around—
A ghastly life without a sound;
To Peter's soul the spell is bound—
WRITTEN DURING THE CASTI.EREAGII
Corpses are cold in the tomb,
Her sons are as stones in the way—
Then trample and dance, thou Oppressor,
Hearest thou the festival din, Of death, and destruction, and sin, And wealth, crying Havoc ! within— lis the Bacchanal triumph, which makes truth Thine Epithalamium. [dumb,
Ay, marry thy ghastly wife! Let fear, and disquiet, and strife Spread thy conch in the chamber of life, Marry Ruin, thon tyrant! and God be thy guide To the bed of the bride.
TO THE MEN OP ENGLAND.
Men of England, wherefore plough
Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,
Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
The seed ye sow, another reaps;
Sow seed,—but let no tyrant reap;
Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
With plough and spade, and hoe and loom,
FOR TWO POLITICAL CHARACTERS OP ISIS.
As from an ancestral oak
Two empty ravens sound their clarion,
Of fresh human carrion :—
As two gibbering night-birds flit,
Through the night to frighten it,
When the morn is in a fit,
And the stars are none or few :—
As a shark and dog-fish wait
Under an Atlantic isle,
Wrinkling their red gills the while—
Are ye, two vultures sick for battle,
Two scorpions under one wet stone, Two bloodless wolves whose dry throats rattle, Two crows perched on the murrained cattle, Two vipers tangled into one.