Edwin W. (Wiley) Fuller.

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_Copyright, 1907
Sumner Fuller Parham_









To those who may favor these pages with perusal, I make this earnest
request: that, if they commence, they will read all. Knowing that the
best mode of dealing with doubts is to state and refute, successively, I
regret that the plan of the present work forces a separation of the
statement and refutation. To read one without the other were to defeat
the object in view; hence my request.

Many of the subjects of thought are worn smooth with the touch of ages,
so that hope for originality is as slender as the bridge of Al Sirat;
but in the bulrush ark of self-confidence, pitched with Faith, I commit
my first-born to the Nile of public opinion; whether to perish by
crocodile critics, or bask in the palace of favor, the Future, alone,
must determine. May Pharaoh’s daughter find it!

E. W. F.

LOUISBURG, Jan. 17th, 1871.


_First published more than thirty-five years ago, in the lifetime of the
poet, THE ANGEL IN THE CLOUD has long since passed not only out of print
but out of the memory of most living men. Of the copies of the original
edition, only few are known to exist. Upon his surviving family is
imposed the obligation, and to them comes the privilege, of rescuing
from the realm of forgotten things these evidences of a graceful and
genuine poetic gift in one whose memory they revere and whose genius
they are unwilling to have die. It is therefore with the sense of
performing a grateful duty that they have caused to be printed this new
edition of Edwin Fuller’s poems, in the hope and belief that others,
like themselves, will value it both as friends of the gentle poet and as
disinterested lovers of good literature._

August, 1907.


’Twas noon in August, and the sultry heat
Had driven me from sunny balcony
Into the shaded hall, where spacious doors
Stood open wide, and lofty windows held
Their sashes up, to woo the breeze, in vain.
The filmy lace that curtained them was still,
And every silken tassel hung a-plumb.
The maps and unframed pictures o’er the wall
Gave not a rustle; only now and then
Was heard the jingling sound of melting ice,
Deep in a massive urn, whose silver sides
With trickling dewbeads ran. The little birds,
Up in their cages, perched with open beaks,
And throbbing throats, upon the swaying rings,
Or plashed the tepid water in their cups
With eager breast. My favorite pointer lay,
With lolling tongue, and rapid panting sides,
Beside my chair, upon the matted floor.
All things spoke heat, oppressive heat intense,
Save swallows twittering up the chimney-flue,
Whose hollow flutterings sounded cool alone.
To find relief I seized my hat and book,
And fled into the park. Along a path
Of smoothest gravel, oval, curving white,
Between two rows of closely shaven hedge,
I passed towards a latticed summer-house;
A fairy bower, built in Eastern style,
With spires, and balls, and fancy trellis-work,
O’er which was spread the jasmine’s leafy net,
To snare the straying winds. Within I fell
Upon a seat of woven cane, and fanned
My streaming face in vain. The very winds
Seemed to have fled, and left alone the heat
To rise from parchèd lawn and scorching fields,
Like trembling incense to the blazing god.
The leaves upon the wan and yellow trees
Hung motionless, as if of rigid steel;
And e’en the feath’ry pendula of spray,
With faintest oscillation, dared not wave.
The withered flowers shed a hot perfume,
That sickened with its fragrance; and the bees
Worked lazily, as if they longed to kick
The yellow burdens from their patient thighs,
And rest beneath the ivy parasols.
The butterflies refrained from aimless flight,
And poised on blooms with gaudy, gasping wings.
The fountain scarcely raised its languid jet
An inch above its tube; the basin deigned
A feeble ripple for its tinkling fall,
And rolled the little waves with noiseless beat
Against the marble side. The bright-scaled fish
All huddled ’neath the jutting ledge’s shade,
Where, burnished like their magnet toy types,
They rose and fell as if inanimate;
Or, with a restless stroke of tinted fin,
Turned in their places pettishly around;
While, with each move, the tiny whirlpools spun
Like crystal dimples on the water’s face.
The sculptured lions crouched upon the edge,
With gaping jaws, and stony, fixèd eyes,
That ever on the pool glared thirstily.
Deep in the park, beneath the trees, were grouped
The deer, their noses lowered to the earth,
To snuff a cooler air; their slender feet
Impatient stamping at the teasing flies;
While o’er their heads the branching antlers spread,
A mocking skeleton of shade! A fawn,
Proud of his dappled coat, played here and there,
Regardless of repose; the silver bell,
That tinkled from a band of broidered silk,
Proclaiming him a petted favorite.
Save him alone, all things in view sought rest,
And wearied Nature seemed to yield the strife,
And smold’ring wait her speedy sacrifice.

The heat grew hotter as I watched its work,
And with its fervor overcome, I rose,
And through the grounds, towards an orchard bent
My faltering steps in full despair of ease.
Down through the lengthened rows of laden trees,
Whose golden-freighted boughs o’erlapped the way,
I hurried till I reached the last confines.
Here stood a gnarléd veteran, now too old
To bear much fruit, but weaving with its leaves
So dense a shade, the smallest fleck of sun
Could not creep through. Beneath it spread a couch
Of velvet moss, fit for the slumbers of a king.
Here prone I fell, at last amid a scene
That promised refuge from the glaring heat.
Beyond me stretched the orchard’s canopy
Of thick, rank foliage, almost drooping down
Upon the green plush carpet underneath.
Close at my feet a crystal spring burst forth,
And rolled its gurgling waters down the glade
Now spreading in a rilling silver sheet
O’er some broad rock, then gath’ring at its base
Into a foamy pool that churned the sand,
And mingling sparks of shining isinglass,
It danced away o’er gleamy, pebbly bed,
Where, midst the grassy nooks and fibrous roots,
The darting minnows played at hide and seek,
Oft fluttering upwards, to the top, to spit
A tiny bubble out, or slyly snap
Th’ unwary little insect hov’ring near;
Till, by its tributes widened to a brook,
It poured its limpid waters undefiled
In to the river’s dun and dirty waves, -
A type of childhood’s guileless purity,
That mingling with the sordid world is lost.

Far in the distance, lofty mountains loomed,
Their blue sides trembling in the sultry haze.
From me to them spread varicultured fields,
That formed a patchwork landscape, which deserved
The pencil of a Rembrandt and his skill;
The hardy yellow stubble smoothly shaved,
With boldness lying ’neath the scorching sun;
The suffering corn, with tasselled heads all bowed,
And twisted arms appealing, raised to Heaven;
The meadows faded by the constant blaze;
The cattle lying in the hedge’s shade;
Across the landscape drawn a glitt’ring band,
Where winds the river, like a giant snake,
The ripples flashing like his polished scales.
Above the scene a lonely vulture wheeled,
Turning with every curve from side to side,
As if the fierce rays broiled his dusky wings;
And circling onwards, dwindled to a speck,
And in the distance vanished out of sight!
Complete repose was stamped on everything,
Save where a tireless ant tugged at a crumb,
To drag it o’er th’ impeding spires of moss;
And one poor robin, with her breast all pale
And feather-scarce, hopped wearily along
The streamlet’s edge, with plaintive clock-like chirp,
And searching, found and bore the curling worm,
Up to the yellow-throated brood o’erhead.
Behind the mountains reared the copper clouds
Of summer skies, that whitened as they rose,
Till bleached to snow, they drifted dreamily,
Like gleaming icebergs, through the blue sublime.
And as they, one by one, sailed far away,
Methought they were as ships from Earth to Heaven,
Thus slowly floating to the Eternal Port.
The Thunder’s muttered growl my reverie broke,
And looking toward the West, I saw a storm,
With gloomy wrath, had thrown its dark-blue line
Of breastworks, quiv’ring with each grand discharge
Of its own ordnance, o’er th’ horizon’s verge.
Some time it stood to gloat upon its prey,
Then, girding up its strength, began its march.
Extending far its black gigantic arms,
It grimly clambered up the tranquil sky;
Till, half-way up the arch, its shaggy brows
Scowled down in rage upon the frightened earth;
While through its wind-cleft portals sped the darts,
That brightly hurtled through the sultry air.
And down the mountain-sides the shadow crept,
A dark veil spreading over field and wood,
Thus adding gloom to Nature’s awful hush.
The fleecy racks had fled far to the East,
Where sporting safely in the gilding light,
They mocked the angry monster’s cumbrous speed.

Then, while I marked its progress, came a train,
Of dark and doubting thoughts into my mind,
And bitterly thus my reflections ran:
Strange is the Providence that rules the world,
That sets the Medean course of Nature’s laws;
Sometimes adapting law to circumstance,
But oftener making law fulfilled a curse.
Yon brewing storm in verdant summer comes,
When vegetation spreads its foliage sails,
That, like a full-rigged ship’s, are easier torn;
Why comes it not in winter, when the trees,
With canvas reefed by Autumn’s furling frosts,
Could toss in nude defiance to the blast?
The murd’rous wind precedes the gentle shower
And ere the suffering grain has quenched its thirst,
It bows the heavy head, alone of worth,
And from the ripening stalk wrings out the life,
While gayly nod the heads of chaff unharmed.
The rank miasma floats in summer-time,
When man must brave its poisoned breath or starve;
It hovers sickliest over richest fields
While over sterile lands the air is pure;
The tallest oak is by the lightning riven,
The hateful bramble on the ground is spared;
The crop man needs demands his constant work,
The weeds alone spring forth without the plow;
The sweetest flowers wear the sharpest thorns,
The deadliest reptiles lurk in fairest paths!
Wherever Nature shows her brightest smile,
’Tis but a mask to hide her darkest frown.
The tropics seem an Eden of luscious fruits
And flowers, and groves of loveliest birds, and lakes
That mirror their gay plumage flitting o’er;
Where man may live in luxury of thought,
Without the crime of schemes, or curse of toil -
The tropics seem a Hell, when all with life
Are stifled with the foul sirocco’s breath;
When from the green-robed mountain’s volcan top,
A fire-fountain spouts its blazing jet
Far up against the starry dome of Heaven;
Returning in its vast umbrella shape,
Leaps in red cataracts adown the slope,
Shaves clean the mountain of its emerald hair,
And leaves it bald with ashes on its head.
Below, the valley is a crimson sea,
Whose glowing billows break to white-hot foam;
And as they surge amid the towering trees,
They, tottering, bow forever to the waves;
The leaves and branches, crackling into flame,
Leave only clotted cinders floating there;
The darting birds, their gaudy plumage singed,
Fall fluttering in, with little puffs of smoke.
The fleeing beasts are lapped in, bellowing,
And charred to coal, drift idly with the tide.
The red flood, breaking through the vale, rolls on
Its devious way towards the sea; the glare
Illuminating far its winding track,
As if a devil flew with flaming torch,
Or when an earthquake gapes its black-lined jaws,
And, growling, gulps a city’s busy throng
Into its greedy bowels. Or the sea bursts forth
Its bands of rock, and laughing at “Thus far!”
Rolls wildly over peopled towns, and homes
In fancied safety; playing fearful pranks,
O’er which to chuckle in its briny bed;
Jeering the stones because they cannot swim,
And crushing like a shell all work of wood;
Docking the laden ships upon the hills,
And tossing lighter craft about like weeds;
Till, wearied with the spoiling, sinks to rest.

Thus Nature to herself is but half kind,
But over man holds fullest tyranny;
And man, a creature who cannot prevent
His own existence! Why not happy made?
For surely ’twere as easy to create
Man in a state of happiness and good,
And keep him there, as to create at all.
If misery’s not deserved before his birth,
Then misery must from purest malice flow;
Yet malice none assign to Providence.
But some may say: Were man thus happy made,
He would not be a person, but a thing,
And lose the very seed of happiness,
The consciousness of merit. Grant ’tis true!
Then why does merit rarely meet reward?
And why does there appear a tendency,
Throughout the polity divine, to mark
With disapproval all the good in man,
And bless the evil? Through the entire world
Is felt this conflict: some strange power within
Exciting us to good, while all events
Proclaim its folly. Throughout Nature’s laws,
Through man in every station, up to God,
This fatal contradiction glares. The storm,
With ruthless breath, annihilates the cot
That, frail and humble, shields the widow’s head;
And while she reads within the use-worn Book
That none who trusts shall e’er be desolate,
The falling timbers crush the promise out,
And she is dead beneath her ruined home!
The prostrate cottage passed, the very wind
Now howls a rough but fawning lullaby
Around the marble walls, and lofty dome,
That shelter pride and heartless arrogance.

And when the Boaz Winter throws his skirt
Of purest white across the lap of Earth,
And decks her bare arborial hair with gems,
Whose feeblest flash would pale the Koh-i-noor,
The rich, alone, find beauty in the scene,
And, clad in thankless comfort, brave the cold.
The gliding steels flash through the feathery drifts,
The jingling bells proclaiming happiness;
Yet ’neath the furry robe the oath is heard,
And boisterous laughter at the ribald jest.
The coldest hearts beat ’neath the warmest clothes;
And often all the blessings wealth can give,
Are heaped on one, whose daily life reviles
The very name of Him who doth bestow.
While in a freezing garret, o’er the coals
That, bluely flickering with the feeble flame,
Seem cold themselves, a trusting Christian bends;
Her faith all mocked by cruel circumstance.
The cold, bare walls, the chilling air-swept floor;
Some broken stools, a mattress stuffed with straw,
Upholstering the apartment. Through the sash,
The wind, with jaggèd lips of broken glass,
Shrieks in its freezing spite. A cold-blued babe,
With face too thin to hold a dimple’s print,
With famished gums tugs at the arid breast,
Thrusting its bare, splotched arms, in eagerness,
From out the poor white blanket’s ravelled edge.
Beside the mother sits a little boy,
With one red frost-cracked hand spread out, in vain,
To warm above the faintly-burning coals;
The other pressing hardly ’gainst his teeth
A stale and tasteless loaf of smallest size,
Which lifting often to the mother’s view,
He offers part; she only shakes her head,
And sadly smiles upon the gaunt young face.
Yet in her basket, on a pile of work,
An open Bible lies with outstretched leaves,
Whose verses speak in keenest irony:
“Do good,” and “verily thou shalt be fed.”
And so through all the world, the righteous poor,
The wicked rich. Deceit, and fraud, and craft
Reap large rewards, while pure integrity
Must gnaw the bone of faith with here and there
A speck of flesh called consciousness of right,
To reach the marrow in another world.
But man within himself’s the greatest paradox;
“A little animal,” as Voltaire says,
And yet a greater wonder than the sun,
Or spangled firmament. That little one
Can weigh and measure all the wheeling worlds,
But finds within his “five feet” home, a Sphinx
Whose riddle he can never solve.
The oracles of old bade men to know,
As if to mock their very impotence;
And man, to know himself, for centuries
Has toiled and studied deep, in vain. -
Not man in flesh, for blest Hippocrates
Bright trimmed his lamp, and passed it down the line,
And each disciple adding of his oil,
It blazes now above the ghastly corpse,
Till every fibre, every thread-like vein,
Is known familiar as a city’s streets;
The little muscle twitching back the lip,
Rejoicing in a name that spans the page.
But man in mind, that is not seen nor felt,
But only knows he is, through consciousness.
He sees an outside world, with all its throng
Of busy people who care not for him,
And only few that know he does exist;
And yet he feels the independent world
Is but effect produced upon himself,
The Universe is packed within his mind,
His mind within its little house of clay.
What is that mind? Has it a formal shape?
And has it substance, color, weight, or force?
What are the chains that bind it to the flesh?
That never break except in death, though oft
The faculties are sent far out through space?
Where is it placed, in head, or hands, or feet?
And can it have existence without place?
And if a place, it must extension have,
And if extended, it is matter proven.
Poor man! he has but mind to view mind with,
And might as well attempt to see the eye
Without a mirror! True, faint consciousness
Holds up a little glass, wherein he sees
A few vague facts that cannot satisfy.
For these, and their attendant laws, have fought
The mental champions of the world till now
That each may deck them in his livery,
And claim them as his own discovery.

Hedged in, man does not know that he is paled,
And struggles fiercely ’gainst the boundaries,
And strives to get a glimpse of those far realms
Of thought sublime, where his short wings would sink
With helpless fluttering, through the vast profound.
Upon the coals of curiosity,
A writhing worm, he’s laid; and twists and turns,
To find, in vain, the healing salve of Truth.

But grant that mind exists in fullest play:
How does it work and what its modes of thought?
Here consciousness may act, and hold to view
A dim outline of powers, contraposed.
In such a conflict, every one may seize
The doctrine suits him best. Hence different creeds -
Desire battling reason, reason will,
And will the weathercock of motive’s wind;
Motive the cringing slave of circumstance.
And here Charybdis rises; no control
Has man o’er circumstance, but circumstance
Begets the motive governing the will;
Then how can man be free? Yet some may say,
Man can obey the motive, or can not.
He can, but only when a stronger rules.
That we without a motive never act,
I do declare, though in the face of Reid.
That that is strongest which impels, a child
Might know, although Jouffroy exclaims,
“You’re reasoning in a circle.” Let us place
An iron fragment ’twixt two magnet-bars,
What one attracts is thereby stronger proved.
Or it may be the really weaker one,
But yet, because of nearness to the steel,
Possess a relatively greater force.
And so of motives, howe’er trivial they,
The one that moves is strongest to the mind.
To illustrate: Suppose I pare a peach;
A friend near by me banteringly asserts
That I can not refrain from eating it.
Two motives now arise - the appetite,
And the desire to prove my self-control.
I hesitate awhile, then laughing say,
“I would not give the peach to prove you wrong.”
But as my teeth press on it, pride springs up,
And bids me show that I am not the slave
Of appetite, and far away I hurl
The tinted, fragrant sphere.
Was not each thought
Spontaneous? Could I control their rise?
How perfectly absurd to talk of choice
Between two motives offered to the mind!
As if the motive was a horse we’d choose
To pull our minds about. There is no choice
Until the motive makes it; then we choose,
Not ’tween the motives, but the acts.
If, then,
The spring of action is the motive’s power,
The motive being far beyond our sway,
Where is our freedom? But a fabled myth!
And man but differs from a star in this, -
The laws of stars are fixed and definite,
And every movement there can be foretold;
Of man, no deed can be foreseen till done.
At most we can but form a general guess
How he will act, at such a time and place.
Even if we knew the motives that would rise,
We could not prophesy unless we knew
Our subject’s frame of mind; for differently,
On different minds, same motives often act.
Hence, we can tell the conduct of a friend
More surely than a stranger’s, since we know,
By long acquaintance, how his motives work.
But should new motives rise, we cannot tell
Until experience gives us data new.
Thus we will ride beside a friend alone,
And show to him our money without fear,
Because we know the motives - love for us,
Honor, and horror of disgraceful crime -
Are stronger with him than cupidity.
But with a stranger we would feel unsafe;
Nor would we trust our friend, were we alone
Upon an island, wrecked, and without food,
And saw his eye with hunger glare, and heard
The famished motive whispering to him, “Kill!”
If he were free, would we feel slightest fear?
For all his soul would shudder from the deed,
And never motive could impel such crime.

Upon this principal all law is made;
For were man free he could not be controlled,
And all compliance would be his caprice.
But since he is the tyrant-motive’s slave,
The law to govern motive only seeks
And builds its sanction on the base of pain,
As motive strongest in the human heart.
It only falls below perfection’s height,
Because there are exceptions to the rule;
When hate and passion, lust and greed of gold,
Prove stronger than the fear of distant pain.
And could the law know fully every heart,
And vary sanction, there would be no crime.

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Online LibraryEdwin W. (Wiley) FullerThe Angel in the Cloud → online text (page 1 of 8)