I break no hearts for silly pride ;
So, kiss yon weeper if thou wilt ! "
St. Mona s morning mass was done,
The shrine-lamps struggled with the day ;
And rising slowly, one by one,
Stole the last worshippers away.
The organist play d out the hymn,
The incense, to St. Mary swung,
Had mounted to the cherubim,
Or to the pillars thinly clung ;
And boyish chorister replaced
The missal that was read no more,
And closed, with half irreverent haste,
Confessional and chancel door ;
And as, through aisle and oriel pane,
The sun wore round his slanting beam,
The dying martyr stirr d again,
And warriors battled in its gleam ;
And costly tomb and sculptured knight
Show d warm and wondrous in the light,
I have not said that Melanie
Was radiantly fair
This earth again may never see
A loveliness so rare !
She glided up St. Mona s aisle
That morning as a bride,
And, full as was my heart the while,
I bless d her in my pride !
The fountain may not fail the less
Whose sands are golden ore,
And a sister for her loveliness,
May not be loved the more ;
But as, the fount s full heart beneath,
Those golden sparkles shine,
My sister s beauty seem d to breathe
Its brightness over mine !
St. Mona has a chapel dim
Within the altar s fretted pale,
Where faintly comes the swelling hymn,
And dies, half lost, the anthem s wail.
And here, in twilight meet for prayer,
A single lamp hangs o er the shrine,
And Raphael s Mary, soft and fair,
Looks down with sweetness half divine,
And here St. Mona s nuns alway
Through latticed bars are seen to pray.
Ave and sacrament were o er,
And Angelo and Melanie
Still knelt the holy shrine before ;
But prayer that morn was not for me !
220 MEL AN IE.
My heart was lock d ! The lip might stir,
The frame might agonize and yet,
God ! I could not pray for her I
A seal upon my brow was set
My brow was hot my brain oppress d
And fiends seeni d muttering round, " Your bridal is
un blest ! "
With forehead to the lattice laid,
And thin, white fingers straining through,
A nun the while had softly pray d.
Oh, even in prayer that voice I knew !
Each faltering word each mournful tone
Each pleading cadence, half suppress d
Such music had its like alone
On lips that stole it at her breast !
And ere the orison was done
1 loved the mother as the son !
And now, the marriage vows to hear,
The nun unveil d her brow
When, sudden, to my startled ear,
There crept a whisper, hoarse like fear,
" De Brevern f is it tlwu f "
The priest let fall the golden ring,
The bridegroom stood aghast,
While, like some weird and frantic thing,
The nun was muttering fast ;
And as, in dread, I nearer drew,
She thrust her arms the lattice through,
And held me to her straining view
But suddenly begun
To steal upon her brain a light
That stagger d soul, and sense, and sight,
And, with a mouth all ashy white,
She shriek d, " It is liis son!
THE DEATH OF HARRISON. 221
The bridegroom is thy Mood thy brother !
Rodolph de Brevern wrong 1 d his mother / "
And, as that doom of love was heard,
My sister sunk and died without a sign or word !
I shed no tear for her. She died
With her last sunshine in her eyes.
Earth held for her no joy beside
The hope just shatter d and she lies
In a green nook of yonder dell ;
And near her, in a newer bed,
Her lover brother sleeps as well !
Peace to the broken-hearted dead !
THE DEATH OF HARRISON.
WHAT ! soar d the old eagle to die at the sun !
Lies he stiff with spread wings at the goal he had won 1
Are there spirits more blest than the " Planet of Even,"
Who mount to their zenith, then melt into heaven
No waning of fire, no quenching of ray,
But rising, still rising, when passing away ?
Farewell, gallant eagle ! thou rt buried in light !
God-speed into heaven, lost star of our night !
Death ! Death in the White House ! Ah, never before,
Trod his skeleton foot on the President s floor !
He is look d for in hovel, and dreaded in hall
The king in his closet keeps hatchment and pall
The youth in his birth-place, the old man at home,
Make clean from the door-stone the path to the tomb ;
But the lord of this mansion was cradled not here
In a churchyard far off stands his beckoning bier !
He is here as the wave-crest heaves flashing on high
As the arrow is stopped by its prize in the sky
222 THE DEATH OF HARRISON.
The arrow to earth, and the foam to the shore
Death finds them when swiftness and sparkle are o er
But Harrison s death fills the climax of story
He went with his old stride from glory to glory !
Lay his sword on his breast ! There s no spot on its blade
In whose cankering breath his bright laurels will fade !
Twas the first to lead on at humanity s call
It was stay d with sweet mercy when " glory " was all !
As calm in the council as gallant in war,
He fought for his country, and not its " hurrah ! "
In the path of the hero with pity he trod
Let him pass, with his sword, to the presence of God !
What more 1 Shall we on, with his ashes ? Yet stay !
He hath ruled the wide realm of a king in his day !
At his word, like a monarch s, went treasure and land
The bright gold of thousands has pass d thro his hand
Is there nothing to show of his glittering hoard ?
No jewel to deck the rude hilt of his sword
No trappings no horses ? what had he but now?
On ! on with his ashes ! HE LEFT BUT HIS PLOUGH !
Brave old Cincinnatus ! Unwind ye his sheet !
Let him sleep as he lived with his purse at Ms feet /
Follow now, as ye list ! The first mourner to-day
Is the nation whose father is taken away !
Wife, children, and neighbour, may moan at his knell
He was " lover and friend " to his country, as well !
For the stars on our banner, grown suddenly dim,
Let us weep, in our darkness but weep not for him !
Not for him who, departing, leaves millions in tears !
Not for him who has died full of honour and years !
Not for him who ascended Fame s ladder so high !
From the round at the top he has stepp d to the sky !
ANDRE S REQUEST TO WASHINGTON. 223
ANDRE S REQUEST TO WASHINGTON.
IT is not the fear of death
That damps my brow,
It is not for another breath
I ask thee now ;
I can die with a lip unstirr d,
And a quiet heart
Let but this prayer be heard
Ere I depart.
I can give up my mother s look
My sister s kiss ;
I can think of love yet brook
A death like this !
I can give up the young fame
I burn d to win
All but the spotless name
I glory in.
Thine is the power to give.
Thine to deny,
Joy for the hour I live
Calmness to die.
By all the brave should cherish,
By my dying breath,
I ask that I may perish
By a soldier s death !
224 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
"Dost thou despise
A love like this ? A lady should not scorn
One soul that loves her, howe er lowly it be."
How beautiful it is ! Come here, my daughter !
Is it not a face of much bewildering brightness ?
The features are all fair, sir, but so cold
I could not love such beauty !
Yet, e en so
Look d thy lost mother, Isidore ! Her brow
Lofty like this her lips thus delicate,
Yet icy cold in their slight vermeil threads
Her neck thus queenly, and the sweeping curve
Thus matchless, from the small and " pearl round ear
To the o er-polish d shoulder. Never swan
Dream d on the water with a grace so calm !
And was she proud, sir ?
Or I had not loved her.
Then runs my lesson wrong. I ever read
Pride was unlovely,
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 225
Dost thou prate already
Of books, my little one ? Nay, then, tis time
That a sad tale were told thee. Is thy bird
Fed for the day 1 Canst thou forget the rein
Of thy beloved Arabian for an hour,
And, the first time in all thy sunny life,
Take sadness to thy heart 1 ? Wilt listen, sweet?
Hang I not ever on thy lips, dear father ?
As thou didst enter, I was musing here
Upon this picture. ; Tis the face of one
I never knew ; but, for its glorious pride,
I bought it of the painter. There has hung
Ever the cunning curse upon my soul
To love this look in woman. Not the flower
Of all Arcadia, in the Age of Gold,
Look d she a shepherdess, would be to me
More than the birds are. As th astrologer
Worships the half-seen star that in its sphere
Dreams not of him, and tramples on the lily
That flings, unask d, its fragrance in his way,
Yet both (as are the high-born and the low)
Wrought of the same fine Hand so, daringly,
Flew my boy- hopes beyond me. You are here
In a brave palace, Isidore ! The gem
That sparkles on your hair imprisons light
Drunk in the flaming Orient ; and gold
Waits on the bidding of those girlish lips
In measure that Aladdin never knew.
Yet was I lowly born !
226 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
Lord Ivon !
You wonder ; but I tell you that the lord
Of this tall palace was a peasant s child !
And, looking sometimes on his fair domain,
Thy sire bethinks him of a sickly boy,
Nursed by his mother on a mountain side,
His only wealth a book of poetry,
With which he daily crept into the sun,
To cheat sharp pains with the bewildering dream
Of beauty he had only read of there.
Have you the volume still, sir ?
Twas the gift
Of a poor scholar wandering in the hills,
Who pitied my sick idleness. I fed
My inmost soul upon the witching rhyme
A silly tale of a low minstrel boy,
Who broke his heart in singing for a bridal.
Loved he the lady, sir ?
So ran the tale.
How well do I remember it !
Poor youth !
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 227
I never thought to pity him.
The bride was a duke s sister ; and I mused
Upon the wonder of his daring love,
Till my heart changed within me. I became
Restless and sad ; and in my sleep I saw
Beautiful dames all scornfully go by ;
And one o er- weary morn I crept away
Into the glen, and, flung upon a rock,
Over a torrent whose swift, giddy waters
Fill d me with energy, I swore my soul
To better that false vision, if there were
Manhood or fire within my wretched frame.
I turn d me homeward with the sunset hour,
Changed for the thought had conquer d even disease ;
And my poor mother check d her busy wheel
To wonder at the step with which I came.
Oh, heavens ! that soft and dewy April eve,
When, in a minstrel s garb, but with a heart
As lofty as the marble shafts uprear d
Beneath the stately portico, I stood
At this same palace door !
Our own ! and you
A minstrel boy !
Yes I had wander d far
Since I shook off my sickness in the hills,
And, with some cunning on the lute, had learn d
A subtler lesson than humility
In the quick school of want. A menial stood
By the Egyptian sphinx ; and when I came
And pray d to sing beneath the balcony
228 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
A song of love for a fair lady s ear,
He insolently bade me to be gone.
Listening not, I swept my fingers o er ^
The strings in prelude, when the base-born slave
Struck me !
I dash d my lute
Into his face, and o er the threshold flew ;
And threading rapidly the loftly rooms,
Sought vainly for his master. Suddenly
A wing rush d o er me, and a radiant girl,
Young as myself, but fairer than the dream
Of my most wild imagining, sprang forth,
Chasing a dove, that, wilder d with pursuit,
Dropp d breathless on my bosom.
Nay, dear father !
Was t so indeed ?
I thank d my blessed star !
And, as the fair, transcendent creature stood
Silent with wonder, I resign d the bird
To her white hands : and, with a rapid thought,
And lips already eloquent of love,
Turn d the strange chance to a similitude
Of my own story. Her slight, haughty lip
Curl d at the warm recital of my wrong,
And on the ivory oval of her cheek
The rose flush d outward with a deeper red ;
And from that hour the minstrel was at home,
And horse and hound were his, and none might cross
LORD I VON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 229
The minion of the noble Lady Clare.
Art weary of niy tale ?
Dear father !
A summer, and a winter, and a spring,
"Went over me like brief and noteless hours.
For ever at the side of one who grew
With every morn more beautiful ; the slave,
Willing and quick, of every idle whim ;
Singing for no one s bidding but her own,
And then a song from my own passionate heart,
Sung with a lip of fire, but ever named
As an old rhyme that I had chanced to hear;
Riding beside her, sleeping at her door,
Doing her maddest bidding at the risk
Of life what marvel if at last I grew
A messenger one morn
Spurr d through the gate " A revel at the court !
And many minstrels, come from many lands,
Will try their harps in presence of the king ;
And tis the royal pleasure that my lord
Come with the young and lovely Lady Clare,
Robed as the queen of Faery, who shall crown
The victor with his bays."
Pass over all
To that bewildering day. She sat enthroned
Amid the court ; and never twilight star
Sprang with such sweet surprise upon the eye,
As she with her rare beauty on the gaze
230 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
Of the gay multitude. The minstrels changed
Their studied songs, and chose her for a theme ;
And ever at the pause all eyes upturn d
And fed upon her loveliness.
Long lay was ended, and the silent crowd
Waited the king s award when suddenly
The sharp strings of a lyre were swept without,
And a clear voice claimed hearing for a bard
Belated on his journey. Mask d, and clad
In a long stole, the herald led me in.
A thousand eyes were on me : but I saw
The new-throned queen, in her high place, alone ;
And, kneeling at her feet, I press d my brow
Upon her footstool, till the images
Of my past hours rush d thick upon my brain ;
Then, rising hastily, I struck my lyre ;
And, in a story woven of my own,
I so did paint her in her loveliness
Pouring my heart all out upon the lines
I knew too faithfully, and lavishing
The hoarded fire of a whole age of love
Upon each passionate word, that, as I sunk
Exhausted at the close, the ravish d crowd
Flung gold and flowers on my still quivering lyre
And the moved monarch in his gladness swore
There was no boon beneath his kingly crown
Too high for such a minstrel !
Did my star
Speak in my fainting ear ? Heard I the king 1
Or did the audible pulses of my heart
Seem to me so articulate 1 I rose,
And tore my mask away ; and, as the stole
Dropp d from my shoulders, I glanced hurriedly
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 231
A look upon the face of Lady Clare.
It was enough ! I saw that she was changed
That a brief hour had chill d the open child
To calculating woman that she read
With cold displeasure my o er-daring thought :
And on that brow, to me as legible
As stars to the rapt Arab, I could trace
The scorn that waited on me ! Sick of life,
Yet, even then, with a half-rallied hope
Prompting my faltering tongue, I blindly knelt,
And claim d the king s fair promise
For the hand
Of Lady Clare ?
No, sweet one for a sword.
You surely spoke to her ?
I saw her face
No more for years. I went unto the wars ;
And when again I sought that palace door,
A glory heralded the minstrel boy
That moriarchs might have envied.
Was she there 1
Yes and, God ! how beautiful ! The last,
The ripest seal of loveliness, was set
Upon her form ; and the all-glorious pride
That I had worshipp d on her girlish lip,
232 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
When her scared dove fled to me, was matured
Into a queenly grace j and nobleness
Was bound like a tiara to her brow,
And every motion breathed of it. There lived
Nothing on earth so ravishingly fair.
And you still loved her ?
I had perilTd life
In every shape had battled on the sea,
And burnt upon the desert, and outgone
Spirits most mad for glory, with this one
O ermastering hope upon me. Honour, fame,
Gold, even, were as dust beneath my feet ;
And war was my disgust, though I had sought
Its horrors like a bloodhound for her praise.
My life was drunk up with the love of her.
And now she scorn d you not 1
Worse, Isidore !
She pitied me ! I did not need a voice
To tell my love. She knew her sometime minion-
A.nd felt that she should never be adored
With such idolatry as his, and sigh d
That hearts so true beat not in palaces
Bnt I was poor, with all my bright renown,
And lowly born ; and she the Lady Clare !
She could not tell you this ?
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 233
She broke my heart
As kindly as the fisher hooks the worm
Pitying me the while !
Lived on !
But the remembrance irks me, and my throat
Chokes with the utterance !
Dear father !
Thanks to sweet Mary Mother, it is past ;
And in this world I shall have no more need
To speak of it.
But there were brighter days
In store. My mother and this palace
My tale, dear Isidore ! But tis as well.
I would not linger on it.
From this heart-broken hour, I stood again,
An old man and a stranger, at the door
Of this same palace. I had been a slave
For gold that time ! My star had wrought with me !
And I was richer than the wizard king
234 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
Throned in the mines of Ind. I could not look
On my innumerable gems, the glare
Pain d so my sun-struck eyes ! My gold was countless.
And Lady Clare ?
I met upon the threshold
Her very self all youth, all loveliness
So like the fresh-kept picture in my brain,
That for a moment I forgot all else,
And stagger d back and wept. She pass d me by
With a cold look
Oh ! not the Lady Clare !
Her daughter, yet herself ! But what a change
Waited me here ! My thin and grizzled locks
Were fairer now than the young minstrel s curls
My sun -burnt visage and contracted eye
Than the gay soldier with his gallant mien 1
My words were wit, my looks interpreted ;
And Lady Clare I tell you, Lady Clare
Lean d fondly fondly ! on my wasted arm.
God ! how changed my nature with all this !
I, that had been all love and tenderness
The truest and most gentle heart, till now,
That ever beat grew suddenly a devil !
1 bought me lands, and titles, and received
Men s homage with a smooth hypocrisy ;
And you will scarce believe me, Isidore
I suffer d them to wile their peerless daughter,
The image and the pride of Lady Clare,
To wed me !
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 235
Sir ! you did not !
Ay ! I saw
Th indignant anger when her mother first
Broke the repulsive wish, and the degrees
Of shuddering reluctance as her mind
Admitted the intoxicating tales
Of wealth unlimited. And when she look d
On my age-stricken features, and my form,
Wasted before its time, and turn d away
To hide from me her tears, her very mother
Whisper d the cursed comfort in her ear
That made her what she is !
You could not wed her,
Knowing all this !
I felt that I had lost
My life else. I had wrung, for forty years,
My frame to its last withers ; I had flung
My boyhood s fire away the energy
Of a most sinless youth the toil, and fret,
And agony of manhood. I had dared,
Fought, suffer d, slaved and never for an hour
Forgot or swerved from my resolve ; and now
With the delirious draught upon my lips
Dash down the cup !
Yet she had never wrong d you !
Thou rt pleading for thy mother, my sweet child !
And angels hear thee. But, if she was wrong d,
236 LORD I VON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
The sin be on the pride that sells its blood
Coldly and only for this damning gold.
Had I not offer d youth first ? Came I not,
With my hands brimm d with glory, to buy love
And was I not denied ?
Yet, dearest father,
They forced her not to wed ?
I call d her back
Myself from the church threshold, and, before
Her mother and her kinsmen, bade her swear
It was her own free choice to marry me.
I show d her my shrunk hand, and bade her think
If that was like a bridegroom, and beware
Of perjuring her chaste and spotless soul,
If now she loved me not.
What said she, sir ?
Oh ! they had made her even as themselves ;
And her young heart was cooler than the slab
Unsunn d beneath Pentelicus. She press d
My wither d fingers in her dewy clasp,
And smiled up in my face, and chid " my lord "
For his wild fancies, and led on !
Misgiving at the altar ?
LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER. 237
None ! She swore
To love and cherish me till death should part us,
With a voice clear as mine.
And kept it, father !
In mercy tell me so !
She lives, my daughter !
Long ere my babe was born, my pride had ebb d,
And let my heart down to its better founts
Of tenderness. I had no friends not one !
My love gush d to my wife. I rack d my brain
To find her a new pleasure every hour
Yet not with me I fear d to haunt her eye !
Only at night, when she was slumbering
In all her beauty, I would put away
The curtains till the pale night-lamp shone on her,
And watch her through my tears.
One night her lips
Parted as I gazed on them, and the name
Of a young noble, who had been my guest,
Stole forth in broken murmurs. I let fall
The curtains silently, and left her there
To slumber and dream on ; and gliding forth
Upon the terrace, knelt to my pale star,
And swore, that if it pleased the God of light
To let me look upon the unborn child
Lying beneath her heart, I would but press
One kiss upon its lips, and take away
My life that was a blight upon her years.
238 LORD IVON AND HIS DAUGHTER.
I was that child ?
Yes and I heard the cry
Of thy small " piping mouth " as twere a call
From my remembering star. I waited only
Thy mother s strength to bear the common shock
Of death within the doors. She rose at last,
And, oh ! so sweetly pale ! And thou, my child !
My heart misgave me as I look d upon thee ;
But he was ever at her side whose name
She murmur d in her sleep ; and, lingering on
To drink a little of thy sweetness more
Before I died, I watch d their stolen love
As she had been my daughter, with a pure,
Passionless joy that I should leave her soon
To love him as she would. I know not how
To tell thee more . . .
. Come, sweet ! she is not worthy
Of tears like thine and mine ! . . .
. . . She fled and left me
The very night ! The poison was prepared
And she had been a widow with the morn
Rich as Golconda. As the midnight chimed,
My star rose. Gazing on its mounting orb,
I raised the chalice but a weakness came
Over my heart ; and, taking up the lamp,
I glided to her chamber, and removed
The curtains for a last, a parting look
Upon my child. . . .
. . Had she but taken thee,
I could have felt she had a mother s heart,
THE CONFESSIONAL. 239
And drain d the chalice still. I could not leave
My babe alone in such a heartless world !
Thank God ! Thank God !
" When thou hast met with careless hearts and cold,
Hearts that young love may touch, but never hold
Not changeless, as the loved and left of old
.Remember me remember me
I passionately pray of thee ! "
LADY E. S. WOBTLEY.
I THOUGHT of thee I thought of thee,
On ocean many a weary night
When heaved the long and sullen sea,
With only waves and stars in sight.
We stole along by isles of balm,
We furl d before the coming gale,
We slept amid the breathless calm,
We flew beneath the straining sail
But thou wert lost for years to me,
And, day and night, I thought of thee !
I thought of thee I thought of thee,
In France amid the gay saloon,
Where eyes as dark as eyes may be
Are many as the leaves in June
Where life is love, and even the air
Is pregnant with impassion d thought,
And song and dance and music are
With one warm meaning only fraught
My half-snared heart broke lightly free,
And, with a blush, I thought of thee !
24 o THE CONFESSIONAL.
I thought of thee I thought of thee,
In Florence, where the fiery hearts
Of Italy are breathed away
In wonders of the deathless arts ;
Where strays the Contadina down
Yal d Arno with a song of old ;
Where clime and woman seldom frown,