Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 3
Part 4 out of 11
This fiend full of power, the Devil
Anra Mainyu had created,
Fatal to the world material,
Deadly to the world of Righteousness.
Of equal puissance was another noble champion, the valiant Keresaspa,
who dispatched a raging demon who, though not yet grown to man's estate,
was threatening the world. The monster's thrasonical boasting is thus
given (Yt. 19, 43):--
I am yet only a stripling,
But if ever I come to manhood
I shall make the earth my chariot
And shall make a wheel of heaven.
I shall drive the Holy Spirit
Down from out the shining heaven,
I shall rout the Evil Spirit
Up from out the dark abysm;
They as steeds shall draw my chariot,
God and Devil yoked together.
Passing over a collection of shorter petitions, praises, and blessings
which may conveniently be grouped together as 'Minor Prayers,' for they
answer somewhat to our idea of a daily manual of morning devotion, we
may turn to the Vendidad (law against the demons), the Iranian
Pentateuch. Tradition asserts that in the Vendidad we have preserved a
specimen of one of the original Nasks. This may be true, but even the
superficial student will see that it is in any case a fragmentary
remnant. Interesting as the Vendidad is to the student of early rites,
observances, manners, and customs, it is nevertheless a barren field for
the student of literature, who will find in it little more than
wearisome prescriptions like certain chapters of Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy. It need only be added that at the close of the colloquy
between Zoroaster and Ormazd given in Vend. 6, he will find the origin
of the modern Parsi "Towers of Silence."
Among the Avestan Fragments, attention might finally be called to one
which we must be glad has not been lost. It is an old metrical bit
(Frag. 4, 1-3) in praise of the Airyama Ishya Prayer (Yt. 54, 1). This
is the prayer that shall be intoned by the Savior and his companions at
the end of the world, when the resurrection will take place; and it will
serve as a sort of last trump, at the sound of which the dead rise from
their graves and evil is banished from the world. Ormazd himself says to
Zoroaster (Frag. 4, 1-3):--
The Airyama Ishya prayer, I tell thee,
Upright, holy Zoroaster,
Is the greatest of all prayers.
Verily among all prayers
It is this one which I gifted
With revivifying powers.
This prayer shall the Saoshyants, Saviors,
Chant, and at the chanting of it
I shall rule over my creatures,
I who am Ahura Mazda.
Not shall Ahriman have power,
Anra Mainyu, o'er my creatures,
He (the fiend) of foul religion.
In the earth shall Ahriman hide,
In the earth the demons hide.
Up the dead again shall rise,
And within their lifeless bodies
Incorporate life shall be restored.
Inadequate as brief extracts must be to represent the sacred books of a
people, the citations here given will serve to show that the Avesta
which is still recited in solemn tones by the white-robed priests of
Bombay, the modern representatives of Zoroaster, the Prophet of ancient
days, is a survival not without value to those who appreciate whatever
has been preserved for us of the world's earlier literature. For readers
who are interested in the subject there are several translations of the
Avesta. The best (except for the Gathas, where the translation is weak)
is the French version by Darmesteter, 'Le Zend Avesta,' published in the
'Annales du Musee Guimet' (Paris, 1892-93). An English rendering by
Darmesteter and Mills is contained in the 'Sacred Books of the East,'
Vols. iv., xxiii., xxxi.
[Illustration: Signature: A.V. Williams Jackson]
A PRAYER FOR KNOWLEDGE
This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright: when praise is to be offered,
how shall I complete the praise of the One like You, O Mazda? Let the
One like Thee declare it earnestly to the friend who is such as I, thus
through Thy Righteousness within us to offer friendly help to us, so
that the One like Thee may draw near us through Thy Good Mind within
2. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright how, in pleasing Him, may
we serve the Supreme One of the better world; yea, how to serve that
chief who may grant us those blessings of his grace and who will seek
for grateful requitals at our hands; for He, bountiful as He is through
the Righteous Order, will hold off ruin from us all, guardian as He is
for both the worlds, O Spirit Mazda! and a friend.
3. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright: Who by generation is the
first father of the Righteous Order within the world? Who gave the
recurring sun and stars their undeviating way? Who established that
whereby the moon waxes, and whereby she wanes, save Thee? These things,
O Great Creator! would I know, and others likewise still.
4. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright: Who from beneath hath
sustained the earth and the clouds above that they do not fall? Who made
the waters and the plants? Who to the wind has yoked on the storm-clouds
the swift and fleetest two? Who, O Great Creator! is the inspirer of the
good thoughts within our souls?
5. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright: Who, as a skillful artisan,
hath made the lights and the darkness? Who, as thus skillful, hath made
sleep and the zest of waking hours? Who spread the Auroras, the
noontides and midnight, monitors to discerning man, duty's true guides?
6. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright these things which I shall
speak forth, if they are truly thus. Doth the Piety which we cherish in
reality increase the sacred orderliness within our actions? To these Thy
true saints hath she given the Realm through the Good Mind? For whom
hast thou made the Mother-kine, the produce of joy?
7. This I ask Thee, O Ahura! tell me aright: Who fashioned Aramaiti (our
piety) the beloved, together with Thy Sovereign Power? Who, through his
guiding wisdom, hath made the son revering the father? Who made him
beloved? With questions such as these, so abundant, O Mazda! I press
Thee, O bountiful Spirit, Thou maker of all!
Yasna xliv.: Translation of L.H. Mills.
THE ANGEL OF DIVINE OBEDIENCE
We worship Sraosha [Obedience] the blessed, whom four racers draw in
harness, white and shining, beautiful and (27) powerful, quick to learn
and fleet, obeying before speech, heeding orders from the mind, with
their hoofs of horn gold-covered, (28) fleeter than [our] horses,
swifter than the winds, more rapid than the rain [drops as they fall];
yea, fleeter than the clouds, or well-winged birds, or the well-shot
arrow as it flies, (29) which overtake these swift ones all, as they fly
after them pursuing, but which are never overtaken when they flee, which
plunge away from both the weapons [hurled on this side and on that] and
draw Sraosha with them, the good Sraosha and the blessed; which from
both the weapons [those on this side and on that] bear the good
Obedience the blessed, plunging forward in their zeal, when he takes his
course from India on the East and when he lights down in the West.
Yasna lvii. 27-29: Translation of L.H. Mills.
TO THE FIRE
I offer my sacrifice and homage to thee, the Fire, as a good offering,
and an offering with our hail of salvation, even as an offering of
praise with benedictions, to thee, the Fire, O Ahura, Mazda's son! Meet
for sacrifice art thou, and worthy of [our] homage. And as meet for
sacrifice, and thus worthy of our homage, may'st thou be in the houses
of men [who worship Mazda]. Salvation be to this man who worships thee
in verity and truth, with wood in hand and baresma [sacred twigs] ready,
with flesh in hand and holding too the mortar. 2. And mayst thou be
[ever] fed with wood as the prescription orders. Yea, mayst thou have
thy perfume justly, and thy sacred butter without fail, and thine
andirons regularly placed. Be of full age as to thy nourishment, of the
canon's age as to the measure of thy food. O Fire, Ahura, Mazda's son!
3. Be now aflame within this house; be ever without fail in flame; be
all ashine within this house: for long time be thou thus to the
furtherance of the heroic [renovation], to the completion of [all]
progress, yea, even till the good heroic [millennial] time when that
renovation shall have become complete. 4. Give me, O Fire, Ahura,
Mazda's son! a speedy glory, speedy nourishment and speedy booty and
abundant glory, abundant nourishment, abundant booty, an expanded mind,
and nimbleness of tongue and soul and understanding, even an
understanding continually growing in its largeness, and that never
wanders. Yasna lxii. 1-4: Translation of L.H. Mills.
THE GODDESS OF THE WATERS
Offer up a sacrifice unto this spring of mine, Ardvi Sura Anahita (the
exalted, mighty, and undefiled, image of the (128) stream celestial),
who stands carried forth in the shape of a maid, fair of body, most
strong, tall-formed, high-girded, pure, nobly born of a glorious race,
wearing a mantle fully embroidered with gold. 129. Ever holding the
baresma in her hand, according to the rules; she wears square golden
ear-rings on her ears bored, and a golden necklace around her beautiful
neck, she, the nobly born Ardvi Sura Anahita; and she girded her waist
tightly, so that her breasts may be well shaped, that they may be
tightly pressed. 128. Upon her head Ardvi Sura Anahita bound a golden
crown, with a hundred stars, with eight rays, a fine well-made crown,
with fillets streaming down. 129. She is clothed with garments of
beaver, Ardvi Sura Anahita; with the skin of thirty beavers, of those
that bear four young ones, that are the finest kind of beavers; for the
skin of the beaver that lives in water is the finest colored of all
skins, and when worked at the right time it shines to the eye with full
sheen of silver and gold. Yasht v. 126-129: Translation of J.
We worship the good, strong, beneficent Fravashis [guardian spirits] of
the faithful; with helms of brass, with weapons (45) of brass, with
armor of brass; who struggle in the fights for victory in garments of
light, arraying the battles and bringing them forwards, to kill
thousands of Daevas [demons]. 46. When the wind blows from behind them
and brings their breath unto men, then men know where blows the breath
of victory: and they pay pious homage unto the good, strong, beneficent
Fravashis of the faithful, with their hearts prepared and their arms
uplifted. 47. Whichever side they have been first worshiped in the
fulness of faith of a devoted heart, to that side turn the awful
Fravashis of the faithful along with Mithra [angel of truth and light]
and Rashnu [Justice] and the awful cursing thought of the wise and the
Yasht xiii. 45-47: Translation of J. Darmesteter.
AN ANCIENT SINDBAD
The manly-hearted Keresaspa was the sturdiest of the men of strength,
for Manly Courage clave unto him. We worship [this] Manly Courage, firm
of foot, unsleeping, quick to rise, and fully awake, that clave unto
Keresaspa [the hero], who killed the snake Srvara, the horse-devouring,
man-devouring, yellow poisonous snake, over which yellow poison flowed a
thumb's breadth thick. Upon him Kerasaspa was cooking his food in a
brass vessel, at the time of noon. The fiend felt the heat and darted
away; he rushed from under the brass vessel and upset the boiling water:
the manly-hearted Keresaspa fell back affrighted.
Yasht xix. 38-40: Translation of J. Darmesteter.
THE WISE MAN
Verily I say it unto thee, O Spitama Zoroaster! the man who has a wife
is far above him who lives in continence; he who keeps a house is far
above him who has none; he who has children is far above the childless
man; he who has riches is far above him who has none.
And of two men, he who fills himself with meat receives in him good
spirit [Vohu Mano] much more than he who does not do so; the latter is
all but dead; the former is above him by the worth of a sheep, by the
worth of an ox, by the worth of a man.
It is this man that can strive against the onsets of death; that can
strive against the well-darted arrow; that can strive against the winter
fiend with thinnest garment on; that can strive against the wicked
tyrant and smite him on the head; it is this man that can strive against
the ungodly fasting Ashemaogha [the fiends and heretics who do not eat].
Vendidad iv. 47-49: Translation of J. Darmesteter.
INVOCATION TO RAIN
"Come on, O clouds, along the sky, through the air, down on the earth,
by thousands of drops, by myriads of drops," thus say, O holy Zoroaster!
"to destroy sickness altogether, to destroy death altogether, to destroy
altogether the sickness made by the Gaini, to destroy altogether the
death made by Gaini, to destroy altogether Gadha and Apagadha.
"If death come at eve, may healing come at daybreak!
"If death come at daybreak, may healing come at night!
"If death come at night, may healing come at dawn!
"Let showers shower down new waters, new earth, new trees, new health,
and new healing powers."
Vendidad xxi. 2: Translation of J. Darmesteter.
A PRAYER FOR HEALING
Ahura Mazda spake unto Spitama Zoroaster, saying, "I, Ahura Mazda, the
Maker of all good things, when I made this mansion, the beautiful, the
shining, seen afar (there may I go up, there may I arrive)!"
Then the ruffian looked at me; the ruffian Anra Mainyu, the deadly,
wrought against me nine diseases and ninety, and nine hundred, and nine
thousand, and nine times ten thousand diseases. So mayest thou heal me,
O Holy Word, thou most glorious one!
Unto thee will I give in return a thousand fleet, swift-running steeds;
I offer thee up a sacrifice, O good Saoka, made by Mazda and holy.
Unto thee will I give in return a thousand fleet, high-humped camels; I
offer thee up a sacrifice, O good Saoka, made by Mazda and holy.
Unto thee will I give in return a thousand brown faultless oxen; I offer
thee up a sacrifice, O good Saoka, made by Mazda and holy.
Unto thee will I give in return a thousand young of all species of small
cattle; I offer thee up a sacrifice, O good Saoka, made by Mazda
And I will bless thee with the fair blessing-spell of the righteous, the
friendly blessing-spell of the righteous, that makes the empty swell to
fullness and the full to overflowing, that comes to help him who was
sickening, and makes the sick man sound again. Vendidad xxii. 1-5:
Translation of J. Darmesteter.
All good thoughts, and all good words, and all good deeds are thought
and spoken and done with intelligence; and all evil thoughts and words
and deeds are thought and spoken and done with folly.
2. And let [the men who think and speak and do] all good thoughts and
words and deeds inhabit Heaven [as their home]. And let those who think
and speak and do evil thoughts and words and deeds abide in Hell. For to
all who think good thoughts, speak good words, and do good deeds,
Heaven, the best world, belongs. And this is evident and as of course.
Avesta, Fragment iii.: Translation of L.H. Mills.
Avicebron, or Avicebrol (properly Solomon ben Judah ibn Gabirol), one of
the most famous of Jewish poets, and the most original of Jewish
thinkers, was born at Cordova, in Spain, about A.D. 1028. Of the events
of his life we know little; and it was only in 1845 that Munk, in the
'Literaturblatt des Orient,' proved the Jewish poet Ibn Gabirol to be
one and the same person with Avicebron, so often quoted by the Schoolmen
as an Arab philosopher. He was educated at Saragossa, spent some years
at Malaga, and died, hardly thirty years old, about 1058. His
disposition seems to have been rather melancholy.
Of his philosophic works, which were written in Arabic, by far the most
important, and that which lent lustre to his name, was the 'Fountain of
Life'; a long treatise in the form of a dialogue between teacher and
pupil, on what was then regarded as the fundamental question in
philosophy, the nature and relations of Matter and Form. The original,
which seems never to have been popular with either Jews or Arabs, is not
known to exist; but there exists a complete Latin translation (the work
having found appreciation among Christians), which has recently been
edited with great care by Professor Baeumker of Breslau, under the title
'Avencebrolis Fons Vitae, ex Arabico in Latinum translatus ab Johanne
Hispano et Dominico Gundissalino' (Muenster, 1895). There is also a
series of extracts from it in Hebrew. Besides this, he wrote a
half-popular work, 'On the Improvement of Character,' in which he brings
the different virtues into relation with the five senses. He is,
further, the reputed author of a work 'On the Soul,' and the reputed
compiler of a famous anthology, 'A Choice of Pearls,' which appeared,
with an English translation by B.H. Ascher, in London, in 1859. In his
poetry, which, like that of other mediaeval Hebrew poets, Moses ben Ezra,
Judah Halevy, etc., is partly liturgical, partly worldly, he abandons
native forms, such as we find in the Psalms, and follows artificial
Arabic models, with complicated rhythms and rhyme, unsuited to Hebrew,
which, unlike Arabic, is poor in inflections. Nevertheless, many of his
liturgical pieces are still used in the services of the synagogue, while
his worldly ditties find admirers elsewhere. (See A. Geiger, 'Ibn
Gabirol und seine Dichtungen,' Leipzig, 1867.)
The philosophy of Ibn Gabirol is a compound of Hebrew monotheism and
that Neo-Platonic Aristotelianism which for two hundred years had been
current in the Muslim schools at Bagdad, Basra, etc., and which the
learned Jews were largely instrumental in carrying to the Muslims of
Spain. For it must never be forgotten that the great translators and
intellectual purveyors of the Middle Ages were the Jews. (See
Steinschneider, 'Die Hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters, und
die Juden als Dolmetscher,' 2 vols., Berlin, 1893.)
The aim of Ibn Gabirol, like that of the other three noted Hebrew
thinkers, Philo, Maimonides, and Spinoza, was--given God, to account for
creation; and this he tried to do by means of Neo-Platonic
Aristotelianism, such as he found in the Pseudo-Pythagoras,
Pseudo-Empedocles, Pseudo-Aristotelian 'Theology' (an abstract from
Plotinus), and 'Book on Causes' (an abstract from Proclus's 'Institutio
Theologica'). It is well known that Aristotle, who made God a "thinking
of thinking," and placed matter, as something eternal, over against him,
never succeeded in bringing God into effective connection with the world
(see K. Elser, 'Die Lehredes Aristotles ueber das Wirken Gottes,'
Muenster, 1893); and this defect the Greeks never afterward remedied
until the time of Plotinus, who, without propounding a doctrine of
emanation, arranged the universe as a hierarchy of existence, beginning
with the Good, and descending through correlated Being and Intelligence,
to Soul or Life, which produces Nature with all its multiplicity, and so
stands on "the horizon" between undivided and divided being. In the
famous encyclopaedia of the "Brothers of Purity," written in the East
about A.D. 1000, and representing Muslim thought at its best, the
hierarchy takes this form: God, Intelligence, Soul, Primal Matter,
Secondary Matter, World, Nature, the Elements, Material Things. (See
Dieterici, 'Die Philosophic der Araber im X. Jahrhundert n. Chr.,' 2
vols., Leipzig, 1876-79.) In the hands of Ibn Gabirol, this is
transformed thus: God, Will, Primal Matter, Form, Intelligence,
Soul--vegetable, animal, rational, Nature, the source of the visible
world. If we compare these hierarchies, we shall see that Ibn Gabirol
makes two very important changes: _first_, he introduces an altogether
new element, viz., the Will; _second_, instead of placing Intelligence
second in rank, next to God, he puts Will, Matter, and Form before it.
Thus, whereas the earliest thinkers, drawing on Aristotle, had sought
for an explanation of the world in Intelligence, he seeks for it in
Will, thus approaching the standpoint of Schopenhauer. Moreover, whereas
they had made Matter and Form originate in Intelligence, he includes the
latter, together with the material world, among things compounded of
Matter and Form. Hence, everything, save God and His Will, which is but
the expression of Him, is compounded of Matter and Form (cf. Dante,
'Paradiso,' i. 104 _seq_.). Had he concluded from this that God, in
order to occupy this exceptional position, must be pure matter (or
substance), he would have reached the standpoint of Spinoza. As it is,
he stands entirely alone in the Middle Age, in making the world the
product of Will, and not of Intelligence, as the Schoolmen and the
classical philosophers of Germany held.
The 'Fountain of Life' is divided into five books, whose subjects are as
follows:--I. Matter and Form, and their various kinds. II. Matter as the
bearer of body, and the subject of the categories. III. Separate
Substances, in the created intellect, standing between God and the
World. IV. Matter and Form in simple substances. V. Universal Matter and
Universal Form, with a discussion of the Divine Will, which, by
producing and uniting Matter and Form, brings being out of non-being,
and so is the 'Fountain of Life.' Though the author is influenced by
Jewish cosmogony, his system, as such, is almost purely Neo-Platonic. It
remains one of the most considerable attempts that have ever been made
to find in spirit the explanation of the world; not only making all
matter at bottom one, but also maintaining that while form is due to the
divine will, matter is due to the divine essence, so that both are
equally spiritual. It is especially interesting as showing us, by
contrast, how far Christian thinking, which rested on much the same
foundation with it, was influenced and confined by Christian dogmas,
especially by those of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
Ibn Gabirol's thought exerted a profound influence, not only on
subsequent Hebrew thinkers, like Joseph ben Saddig, Maimonides, Spinoza,
but also on the Christian Schoolmen, by whom he is often quoted, and on
Giordano Bruno. Through Spinoza and Bruno this influence has passed into
the modern world, where it still lives. Dante, though naming many Arab
philosophers, never alludes to Ibn Gabirol; yet he borrowed more of his
sublimest thoughts from the 'Fountain of Life' than from any other book.
(Cf. Ibn Gabirol's 'Bedeutung fuer die Geschichte der Philosophie,'
appendix to Vol. i. of M. Joel's 'Beitraege zur Gesch. der Philos.,'
Breslau, 1876.) If we set aside the hypostatic form in which Ibn Gabirol
puts forward his ideas, we shall find a remarkable similarity between
his system and that of Kant, not to speak of that of Schopenhauer. For
the whole subject, see J. Guttman's 'Die Philosophic des Salomon Ibn
Gabirol' (Goettingen, 1889).
ON MATTER AND FORM
From the 'Fountain of Life,' Fifth Treatise
Intelligence is finite in both directions: on the upper side, by reason
of will, which is above it; on the lower, by reason of matter, which is
outside of its essence. Hence, spiritual substances are finite with
respect to matter, because they differ through it, and distinction is
the cause of finitude; in respect to forms they are infinite on the
lower side, because one form flows from another. And we must bear in
mind that that part of matter which is above heaven, the more it ascends
from it to the principle of creation, becomes the more spiritual in
form, whereas that part which descends lower than the heaven toward
quiet will be more corporeal in form. Matter, intelligence, and soul
comprehend heaven, and heaven comprehends the elements. And just as, if
you imagine your soul standing at the extreme height of heaven, and
looking back upon the earth, the earth will seem but a point, in
comparison with the heaven, so are corporeal and spiritual substance in
comparison with the will. And first matter is stable in the knowledge of
God, as the earth in the midst of heaven. And the form diffused through
it is as the light diffused through the air....
We must bear in mind that the unity induced by the will (we might say,
the will itself) binds matter to form. Hence that union is stable, firm,
and perpetual from the beginning of its creation; and thus unity
sustains all things.
Matter is movable, in order that it may receive form, in conformity
with its appetite for receiving goodness and delight through the
reception of form. In like manner, everything that is, desires to move,
in order that it may attain something of the goodness of the primal
being; and the nearer anything is to the primal being, the more easily
it reaches this, and the further off it is, the more slowly and with the
longer motion and time it does so. And the motion of matter and other
substances is nothing but appetite and love for the mover toward which
it moves, as, for example, matter moves toward form, through desire for
the primal being; for matter requires light from that which is in the
essence of will, which compels matter to move toward will and to desire
it: and herein will and matter are alike. And because matter is
receptive of the form that has flowed down into it by the flux of
violence and necessity, matter must necessarily move to receive form;
and therefore things are constrained by will and obedience in turn.
Hence by the light which it has from will, matter moves toward will and
desires it; but when it receives form, it lacks nothing necessary for
knowing and desiring it, and nothing remains for it to seek for. For
example, in the morning the air has an imperfect splendor from the sun;
but at noon it has a perfect splendor, and there remains nothing for it
to demand of the sun. Hence the desire for the first motion is a
likeness between all substances and the first Maker, because it is
impressed upon all things to move toward the first; because particular
matter desires particular form, and the matter of plants and animals,
which, in generating, move toward the forms of plants and animals, are
also influenced by the particular form acting in them. In like manner
the sensible soul moves toward sensible forms, and the rational soul to
intelligible forms, because the particular soul, which is called the
first intellect, while it is in its principle, is susceptible of form;
but when it shall have received the form of universal intelligence,
which is the second intellect, and shall become intelligence, then it
will be strong to act, and will be called the second intellect; and
since particular souls have such a desire, it follows that universal
souls must have a desire for universal forms. The same thing must be
said of natural matter,--that is, the substance which sustains the nine
categories; because this matter moves to take on the first qualities,
then to the mineral form, then to the vegetable, then to the sensible,
then to the rational, then to the intelligible, until at last it is
united to the form of universal intelligence. And this primal matter
desires primal form; and all things that are, desire union and
commixture, that so they may be assimilated to their principle; and
therefore, genera, species, differentiae, and contraries are united
through something in singulars.
Thus, matter is like an empty schedule and a wax tablet; whereas form is
like a painted shape and words set down, from which the reader reaches
the end of science. And when the soul knows these, it desires to know
the wonderful painter of them, to whose essence it is impossible to
ascend. Thus matter and form are the two closed gates of intelligence,
which it is hard for intelligence to open and pass through, because the
substance of intelligence is below them, and made up of them. And when
the soul has subtilized itself, until it can penetrate them, it arrives
at the word, that is, at perfect will; and then its motion ceases, and
its joy remains.
An analogy to the fact that the universal will actualizes universal form
in the matter of intelligence is the fact that the particular will
actualizes the particular form in the soul without time, and life and
essential motion in the matter of the soul, and local motion and other
motions in the matter of nature. But all these motions are derived from
the will; and so all things are moved by the will, just as the soul
causes rest or motion in the body according to its will. And this motion
is different according to the greater or less proximity of things to the
will. And if we remove action from the will, the will will be identical
with the primal essence; whereas, with action, it is different from it.
Hence, will is as the painter of all forms; the matter of each thing as
a tablet; and the form of each thing as the picture on the tablet. It
binds form to matter, and is diffused through the whole of matter, from
highest to lowest, as the soul through the body; and as the virtue of
the sun, diffusing its light, unites with the light, and with it
descends into the air, so the virtue of the will unites with the form
which it imparts to all things, and descends with it. On this ground it
is said that the first cause is in all things, and that there is nothing
The will holds all things together by means of form; whence we likewise
say that form holds all things together. Thus, form is intermediate
between will and matter, receiving from will, and giving to matter. And
will acts without time or motion, through its own might. If the action
of soul and intelligence, and the infusion of light are instantaneous,
much more so is that of will.
Creation comes from the high creator, and is an emanation, like the
issue of water flowing from its source; but whereas water follows water
without intermission or rest, creation is without motion or time. The
sealing of form upon matter, as it flows in from the will, is like the
sealing or reflection of a form in a mirror, when it is seen. And as
sense receives the form of the felt without the matter, so everything
that acts upon another acts solely through its own form, which it simply
impresses upon that other. Hence genus, species, differentia, property,
accident, and all forms in matter are merely an impression made
The created soul is gifted with the knowledge which is proper to it; but
after it is united to the body, it is withdrawn from receiving those
impressions which are proper to it, by reason of the very darkness of
the body, covering and extinguishing its light, and blurring it, just as
in the case of a clear mirror: when dense substance is put over it its
light is obscured. And therefore God, by the subtlety of his substance,
formed this world, and arranged it according to this most beautiful
order, in which it is, and equipped the soul with senses, wherein, when
it uses them, that which is hidden in it is manifested in act; and the
soul, in apprehending sensible things, is like a man who sees many
things, and when he departs from them, finds that nothing remains with
him but the vision of imagination and memory.
We must also bear in mind that, while matter is made by essence, form is
made by will. And it is said that matter is the seat of God, and that
will, the giver of form, sits on it and rests upon it. And through the
knowledge of these things we ascend to those things which are behind
them, that is, to the cause why there is anything; and this is a
knowledge of the world of deity, which is the greatest whole: whatever
is below it is very small in comparison with it.
This Scottish poet was born in his father's castle of Kinaldie, near St.
Andrews, Fifeshire, in 1570. He was descended from the Norman family of
De Vescy, a younger son of which settled in Scotland and received from
Robert Bruce the lands of Aytoun in Berwickshire. Kincardie came into
the family about 1539. Robert Aytoun was educated at St. Andrews, taking
his degree in 1588, traveled on the Continent like other wealthy
Scottish gentlemen, and studied law at the University of Paris.
Returning in 1603, he delighted James I. by a Latin poem congratulating
him on his accession to the English throne. Thereupon the poet received
an invitation to court as Groom of the Privy Chamber. He rose rapidly,
was knighted in 1612, and made Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James
and private secretary to Queen Anne. When Charles I. ascended the
throne, Aytoun was retained, and held many important posts. According to
Aubrey, "he was acquainted with all the witts of his time in England."
Sir Robert was essentially a court poet, and belonged to the cultivated
circle of Scottish favorites that James gathered around him; yet there
is no mention of him in the gossipy diaries of the period, and almost
none in the State papers. He seems, however, to have been popular: Ben
Jonson boasts that Aytoun "loved me dearly." It is not surprising that
his mild verses should have faded in the glorious light of the
[Illustration: ROBERT AYTOUN]
He wrote in Greek and French, and many of his Latin poems were published
under the title 'Delitiae Poetarum Scotorum' (Amsterdam, 1637). His
English poems on such themes as a 'Love Dirge,' 'The Poet Forsaken,'
'The Lover's Remonstrance,' 'Address to an Inconstant Mistress,' etc.,
do not show depth of emotion. He says of himself:--
"Yet have I been a lover by report,
Yea, I have died for love as others do;
But praised be God, it was in such a sort
That I revived within an hour or two."
The lines beginning "I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair," quoted
below with their adaptation by Burns, do not appear in his MSS.,
collected by his heir Sir John Aytoun, nor in the edition of his works
with a memoir prepared by Dr. Charles Rogers, published in Edinburgh in
1844 and reprinted privately in 1871. Dean Stanley, in his 'Memorials of
Westminster Abbey,' accords to him the original of 'Auld Lang Syne,'
which Rogers includes in his edition. Burns's song follows the version
attributed to Francis Temple.
Aytoun passed his entire life in luxury, died in Whitehall Palace in
1638, and was the first Scottish poet buried in Westminster Abbey. His
memorial bust was taken from a portrait by Vandyke.
I loved thee once, I'll love no more;
Thine be the grief as is the blame:
Thou art not what thou wast before,
What reason I should be the same?
He that can love unloved again,
Hath better store of love than brain;
God send me love my debts to pay,
While unthrifts fool their love away.
Nothing could have my love o'erthrown,
If thou hadst still continued mine;
Yea, if thou hadst remained thy own,
I might perchance have yet been thine.
But thou thy freedom didst recall,
That it thou might elsewhere inthrall;
And then how could I but disdain
A captive's captive to remain?
When new desires had conquered thee,
And changed the object of thy will,
It had been lethargy in me,
Not constancy, to love thee still.
Yea, it had been a sin to go
And prostitute affection so;
Since we are taught no prayers to say
To such as must to others pray.
Yet do thou glory in thy choice,
Thy choice of his good fortune boast;
I'll neither grieve nor yet rejoice
To see him gain what I have lost.
The height of my disdain shall be
To laugh at him, to blush for thee;
To love thee still, but go no more
A-begging to a beggar's door.
LINES TO AN INCONSTANT MISTRESS
I do confess thou'rt smooth and fair,
And I might have gone near to love thee,
Had I not found the slightest prayer
That lips could speak had power to move thee.
But I can let thee now alone,
As worthy to be loved by none.
I do confess thou'rt sweet, yet find
Thee such an unthrift of thy sweets,
Thy favors are but like the wind
Which kisseth everything it meets!
And since thou canst love more than one,
Thou'rt worthy to be loved by none.
The morning rose that untouched stands,
Armed with her briers, how sweet she smells!
But plucked and strained through ruder hands,
Her scent no longer with her dwells.
But scent and beauty both are gone,
And leaves fall from her one by one.
Such fate ere long will thee betide,
When thou hast handled been awhile,
Like fair flowers to be thrown aside;
And thou shalt sigh while I shall smile,
To see thy love to every one
Hath brought thee to be loved by none.
I do confess thou art sae fair,
I wad been ower the lugs in love
Had I na found the slightest prayer
That lips could speak, thy heart could move.
I do confess thee sweet--but find
Thou art sae thriftless o' thy sweets,
Thy favors are the silly wind,
That kisses ilka thing it meets.
See yonder rosebud rich in dew,
Among its native briers sae coy,
How sune it tines its scent and hue
When pu'd and worn a common toy.
Sic fate, ere lang, shall thee betide,
Tho' thou may gaily bloom awhile;
Yet sune thou shalt be thrown aside
Like any common weed and vile.
WILLIAM EDMONSTOUNE AYTOUN
Aytoun the second, balladist, humorist, and Tory, in proportions of
about equal importance,--one of the group of wits and devotees of the
_status quo_ who made Blackwood's Magazine so famous in its early
days,--was born in Edinburgh, June 21st, 1813. He was the son of Roger
Aytoun, "writer to the Signet"; and a descendant of Sir Robert Aytoun
(1570-1638), the poet and friend of Ben Jonson, who followed James VI.
from Scotland and who is buried in Westminster Abbey. Both Aytoun's
parents were literary. His mother, who knew Sir Walter Scott, and who
gave Lockhart many details for his biography, helped the lad in his
poems. She seemed to him to know all the ballads ever sung. His earliest
verses were praised by Professor John Wilson ("Christopher North"), the
first editor of Blackwood's, whose daughter he married in 1849. At the
age of nineteen he published his 'Poland, Homer, and Other Poems'
(Edinburgh, 1832). After leaving the University of Edinburgh, he studied
law in London, visited Germany, and returning to Scotland, was called to
the bar in 1840. He disliked the profession, and used to say that though
he followed the law he never could overtake it.
While in Germany he translated the first part of 'Faust' in blank verse,
which was never published. Many of his translations from Uhland and
Homer appeared in Blackwood's from 1836 to 1840, and many of his early
writings were signed "Augustus Dunshunner." In 1844 he joined the
editorial staff of Blackwood's, to which for many years he contributed
political articles, verse, translations of Goethe, and humorous
sketches. In 1845 he became Professor of Rhetoric and Literature in the
University of Edinburgh, a place which he held until 1864. About 1841 he
became acquainted with Theodore Martin, and in association with him
wrote a series of light papers interspersed with burlesque verses,
which, reprinted from Blackwood's, became popular as the 'Bon Gaultier
Ballads.' Published in London in 1855, they reached their thirteenth
edition in 1877.
"Some papers of a humorous kind, which I had published under
the _nom de plume_ of Bon Gaultier," says Theodore Martin in
his 'Memoir of Aytoun,' "had hit Aytoun's fancy; and when I
proposed to go on with others in a similar vein, he fell
readily into the plan, and agreed to assist in it. In this
way a kind of a Beaumont-and-Fletcher partnership commenced
in a series of humorous papers, which appeared in Tait's and
Fraser's magazines from 1842 to 1844. In these papers, in
which we ran a-tilt, with all the recklessness of youthful
spirits, against such of the tastes or follies of the day as
presented an opening for ridicule or mirth,--at the same time
that we did not altogether lose sight of a purpose higher
than mere amusement,--appeared the verses, with a few
exceptions, which subsequently became popular, and to a
degree we then little contemplated, as the 'Bon Gaultier
Ballads.' Some of the best of these were exclusively
Aytoun's, such as 'The Massacre of the McPherson,' 'The Rhyme
of Sir Launcelot Bogle,' 'The Broken Pitcher,' 'The Red Friar
and Little John,' 'The Lay of Mr. Colt,' and that best of all
imitations of the Scottish ballad, 'The Queen in France.'
Some were wholly mine, and the rest were produced by us
jointly. Fortunately for our purpose, there were then living
not a few poets whose style and manner of thought were
sufficiently marked to make imitation easy, and sufficiently
popular for a parody of their characteristics to be readily
recognized. Macaulay's 'Lays of Rome' and his two other fine
ballads were still in the freshness of their fame. Lockhart's
'Spanish Ballads' were as familiar in the drawing-room as in
the study. Tennyson and Mrs. Browning were opening up new
veins of poetry. These, with Wordsworth, Moore, Uhland, and
others of minor note, lay ready to our hands,--as Scott,
Byron, Crabbe, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Southey had done to
James and Horace Smith in 1812, when writing the 'Rejected
Addresses.' Never, probably, were verses thrown off with a
keener sense of enjoyment."
With Theodore Martin he published also 'Poems and Ballads of Goethe'
(London, 1858). Mr. Aytoun's fame as a poet rests on his 'Lays of the
Cavaliers,' the themes of which are selected from stirring incidents of
Scottish history, ranging from Flodden Field to the Battle of Culloden.
The favorites in popular memory are 'The Execution of Montrose' and 'The
Burial March of Dundee.' This book, published in London and Edinburgh in
1849, has gone through twenty-nine editions.
His dramatic poem, 'Firmilian: a Spasmodic Tragedy,' written to ridicule
the style of Bailey, Dobell, and Alexander Smith, and published in 1854,
had so many excellent qualities that it was received as a serious
production instead of a caricature. Aytoun introduced this in
Blackwood's Magazine as a pretended review of an unpublished tragedy (as
with the 'Rolliad,' and as Lockhart had done in the case of "Peter's
Letters," so successfully that he had to write the book itself as a
"second edition" to answer the demand for it). This review was so
cleverly done that "most of the newspaper critics took the part of the
poet against the reviewer, never suspecting the identity of both, and
maintained the poetry to be fine poetry and the critic a dunce." The
sarcasm of 'Firmilian' is so delicate that only those familiar with the
school it is intended to satirize can fairly appreciate its qualities.
The drama opens showing Firmilian in his study, planning the composition
of 'Cain: a Tragedy'; and being infused with the spirit of the hero, he
starts on a career of crime. Among his deeds is the destruction of the
cathedral of Badajoz, which first appears in his mental vision thus:--
"Methought I saw the solid vaults give way,
And the entire cathedral rise in air,
As if it leaped from Pandemonium's jaws."
To effect this he employs--
"Some twenty barrels of the dusky grain
The secret of whose framing in an hour
Of diabolic jollity and mirth
Old Roger Bacon wormed from Beelzebub."
When the horror is accomplished, at a moment when the inhabitants of
Badajoz are at prayer, Firmilian rather enjoys the scene:--
"Pillars and altar, organ loft and screen,
With a singed swarm of mortals intermixed,
Whirling in anguish to the shuddering stars."
"'Firmilian,'" to quote from Aytoun's biographer again, "deserves to
keep its place in literature, if only as showing how easy it is for a
man of real poetic power to throw off, in sport, pages of sonorous and
sparkling verse, simply by ignoring the fetters of nature and
common-sense and dashing headlong on Pegasus through the wilderness of
fancy." Its extravagances of rhetoric can be imagined from the following
brief extract, somewhat reminiscent of Marlowe:--
"And shall I then take Celsus for my guide,
Confound my brain with dull Justinian tomes,
Or stir the dust that lies o'er Augustine?
Not I, in faith! I've leaped into the air,
And clove my way through ether like a bird
That flits beneath the glimpses of the moon,
Right eastward, till I lighted at the foot
Of holy Helicon, and drank my fill
At the clear spout of Aganippe's stream;
I've rolled my limbs in ecstasy along
The selfsame turf on which old Homer lay
That night he dreamed of Helen and of Troy:
And I have heard, at midnight, the sweet strains
Come quiring from the hilltop, where, enshrined
In the rich foldings of a silver cloud,
The Muses sang Apollo into sleep."
In 1856 was printed 'Bothwell,' a poetic monologue on Mary Stuart's
lover. Of Aytoun's humorous sketches, the most humorous are 'My First
Spec in the Biggleswades,' and 'How We Got Up the Glen Mutchkin
Railway'; tales written during the railway mania of 1845, which treat of
the folly and dishonesty of its promoters, and show many typical
Scottish characters. His 'Ballads of Scotland' was issued in 1858; it is
an edition of the best ancient minstrelsy, with preface and notes. In
1861 appeared 'Norman Sinclair,' a novel published first in Blackwood's,
and giving interesting pictures of society in Scotland and personal
After Professor Wilson's death, Aytoun was considered the leading man of
letters in Scotland; a rank which he modestly accepted by writing in
1838 to a friend:--"I am getting a kind of fame as the literary man of
Scotland. Thirty years ago, in the North countries, a fellow achieved an
immense reputation as 'The Tollman,' being the solitary individual
entitled by law to levy blackmail at a ferry." In 1860 he was made
Honorary President of the Associated Societies of the University of
Edinburgh, his competitor being Thackeray. This was the place held
afterward by Lord Lytton, Sir David Brewster, Carlyle, and Gladstone.
Aytoun wrote the 'The Life and Times of Richard the First' (London,
1840), and in 1863 a 'Nuptial Ode on the Marriage of the Prince
Aytoun was a man of great charm and geniality in society; even to
Americans, though he detested America with the energy of fear--the fear
of all who see its prosperity sapping the foundations of their class
society. He died in 1865; and in 1867 his biography was published by Sir
Theodore Martin, his collaborator. Martin's definition of Aytoun's place
in literature is felicitous:--
* * * * *
"Fashions in poetry may alter, but so long as the themes with which they
deal have an interest for his countrymen, his 'Lays' will find, as they
do now, a wide circle of admirers. His powers as a humorist were perhaps
greater than as a poet. They have certainly been more widely
appreciated. His immediate contemporaries owe him much, for he has
contributed largely to that kindly mirth without which the strain and
struggle of modern life would be intolerable. Much that is excellent in
his humorous writings may very possibly cease to retain a place in
literature from the circumstance that he deals with characters and
peculiarities which are in some measure local, and phases of life and
feeling and literature which are more or less ephemeral. But much will
certainly continue to be read and enjoyed by the sons and grandsons of
those for whom it was originally written; and his name will be coupled
with those of Wilson, Lockhart, Sydney Smith, Peacock, Jerrold, Mahony,
and Hood, as that of a man gifted with humor as genuine and original as
theirs, however opinions may vary as to the order of their
'The Modern Endymion,' from which an extract is given, is a parody on
Disraeli's earlier manner.
THE BURIAL MARCH OF DUNDEE
From the 'Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers'
Sound the fife and cry the slogan;
Let the pibroch shake the air
With its wild, triumphant music,
Worthy of the freight we bear.
Let the ancient hills of Scotland
Hear once more the battle-song
Swell within their glens and valleys
As the clansmen march along!
Never from the field of combat,
Never from the deadly fray,
Was a nobler trophy carried
Than we bring with us to-day;
Never since the valiant Douglas
On his dauntless bosom bore
Good King Robert's heart--the priceless--
To our dear Redeemer's shore!
Lo! we bring with us the hero--
Lo! we bring the conquering Graeme,
Crowned as best beseems a victor
From the altar of his fame;
Fresh and bleeding from the battle
Whence his spirit took its flight,
'Midst the crashing charge of squadrons,
And the thunder of the fight!
Strike, I say, the notes of triumph,
As we march o'er moor and lea!
Is there any here will venture
To bewail our dead Dundee?
Let the widows of the traitors
Weep until their eyes are dim!
Wail ye may full well for Scotland--
Let none dare to mourn for him!
See! above his glorious body
Lies the royal banner's fold--
See! his valiant blood is mingled
With its crimson and its gold.
See how calm he looks and stately,
Like a warrior on his shield,
Waiting till the flush of morning
Breaks along the battle-field!
See--oh, never more, my comrades,
Shall we see that falcon eye
Redden with its inward lightning,
As the hour of fight drew nigh!
Never shall we hear the voice that,
Clearer than the trumpet's call,
Bade us strike for king and country,
Bade us win the field, or fall!
On the heights of Killiecrankie
Yester-morn our army lay:
Slowly rose the mist in columns
From the river's broken way;
Hoarsely roared the swollen torrent,
And the Pass was wrapped in gloom,
When the clansmen rose together
From their lair amidst the broom.
Then we belted on our tartans,
And our bonnets down we drew,
As we felt our broadswords' edges,
And we proved them to be true;
And we prayed the prayer of soldiers,
And we cried the gathering-cry,
And we clasped the hands of kinsmen,
And we swore to do or die!
Then our leader rode before us,
On his war-horse black as night--
Well the Cameronian rebels
Knew that charger in the fight!--
And a cry of exultation
From the bearded warrior rose;
For we loved the house of Claver'se,
And we thought of good Montrose.
But he raised his hand for silence--
"Soldiers! I have sworn a vow;
Ere the evening star shall glisten
On Schehallion's lofty brow,
Either we shall rest in triumph,
Or another of the Graemes
Shall have died in battle-harness
For his country and King James!
Think upon the royal martyr--
Think of what his race endure--
Think on him whom butchers murdered
On the field of Magus Muir:
By his sacred blood I charge ye,
By the ruined hearth and shrine--
By the blighted hopes of Scotland,
By your injuries and mine--
Strike this day as if the anvil
Lay beneath your blows the while,
Be they Covenanting traitors,
Or the blood of false Argyle!
Strike! and drive the trembling rebels
Backwards o'er the stormy Forth;
Let them tell their pale Convention
How they fared within the North.
Let them tell that Highland honor
Is not to be bought nor sold;
That we scorn their prince's anger,
As we loathe his foreign gold.
Strike! and when the fight is over,
If you look in vain for me,
Where the dead are lying thickest
Search for him that was Dundee!"
[Footnote 1: Archbishop Sharp, Lord Primate of Scotland.]
Loudly then the hills re-echoed
With our answer to his call,
But a deeper echo sounded
In the bosoms of us all.
For the lands of wide Breadalbane,
Not a man who heard him speak
Would that day have left the battle.
Burning eye and flushing cheek
Told the clansmen's fierce emotion,
And they harder drew their breath;
For their souls were strong within them,
Stronger than the grasp of Death.
Soon we heard a challenge trumpet
Sounding in the Pass below,
And the distant tramp of horses,
And the voices of the foe;
Down we crouched amid the bracken,
Till the Lowland ranks drew near,
Panting like the hounds in summer,
When they scent the stately deer.
From the dark defile emerging,
Next we saw the squadrons come,
Leslie's foot and Leven's troopers
Marching to the tuck of drum;
Through the scattered wood of birches,
O'er the broken ground and heath,
Wound the long battalion slowly,
Till they gained the field beneath;
Then we bounded from our covert,--
Judge how looked the Saxons then,
When they saw the rugged mountain
Start to life with armed men!
Like a tempest down the ridges
Swept the hurricane of steel,
Rose the slogan of Macdonald--
Flashed the broadsword of Lochiel!
Vainly sped the withering volley
'Mongst the foremost of our band--
On we poured until we met them
Foot to foot and hand to hand.
Horse and man went down like drift-wood
When the floods are black at Yule,
And their carcasses are whirling
In the Garry's deepest pool.
Horse and man went down before us--
Living foe there tarried none
On the field of Killiecrankie,
When that stubborn fight was done!
And the evening star was shining
On Schehallion's distant head,
When we wiped our bloody broadswords,
And returned to count the dead.
There we found him gashed and gory,
Stretched upon the cumbered plain,
As he told us where to seek him,
In the thickest of the slain.
And a smile was on his visage,
For within his dying ear
Pealed the joyful note of triumph
And the clansmen's clamorous cheer:
So, amidst the battle's thunder,
Shot, and steel, and scorching flame,
In the glory of his manhood
Passed the spirit of the Graeme!
Open wide the vaults of Athol,
Where the bones of heroes rest--
Open wide the hallowed portals
To receive another guest!
Last of Scots, and last of freemen--
Last of all that dauntless race
Who would rather die unsullied,
Than outlive the land's disgrace!
O thou lion-hearted warrior!
Reck not of the after-time:
Honor may be deemed dishonor,
Loyalty be called a crime.
Sleep in peace with kindred ashes
Of the noble and the true,
Hands that never failed their country,
Hearts that never baseness knew.
Sleep!--and till the latest trumpet
Wakes the dead from earth and sea,
Scotland shall not boast a braver
Chieftain than our own Dundee!
THE EXECUTION OF MONTROSE
From 'Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers'
Come hither, Evan Cameron!
Come, stand beside my knee--
I hear the river roaring down
Toward the wintry sea.
There's shouting on the mountain-side,
There's war within the blast--
Old faces look upon me,
Old forms go trooping past.
I hear the pibroch wailing
Amidst the din of fight,
And my dim spirit wakes again
Upon the verge of night.
'Twas I that led the Highland host
Through wild Lochaber's snows,
What time the plaided clans came down
To battle with Montrose.
I've told thee how the Southrons fell
Beneath the broad claymore,
And how we smote the Campbell clan
By Inverlochy's shore;
I've told thee how we swept Dundee,
And tamed the Lindsays' pride:
But never have I told thee yet
How the great Marquis died.
A traitor sold him to his foes;--
A deed of deathless shame!
I charge thee, boy, if e'er thou meet
With one of Assynt's name,--
Be it upon the mountain's side
Or yet within the glen,
Stand he in martial gear alone,
Or backed by armed men,--
Face him, as thou wouldst face the man
Who wronged thy sire's renown;
Remember of what blood thou art,
And strike the caitiff down!
They brought him to the Watergate,
Hard bound with hempen span,
As though they held a lion there,
And not a fenceless man.
They set him high upon a cart,--
The hangman rode below,--
They drew his hands behind his back
And bared his noble brow.
Then, as a hound is slipped from leash,
They cheered, the common throng,
And blew the note with yell and shout,
And bade him pass along.
It would have made a brave man's heart
Grow sad and sick that day,
To watch the keen malignant eyes
Bent down on that array.
There stood the Whig West-country lords
In balcony and bow;
There sat their gaunt and withered dames,
And their daughters all arow.
And every open window
Was full as full might be
With black-robed Covenanting carles,
That goodly sport to see!
But when he came, though pale and wan,
He looked so great and high,
So noble was his manly front,
So calm his steadfast eye,--
The rabble rout forbore to shout,
And each man held his breath,
For well they knew the hero's soul
Was face to face with death.
And then a mournful shudder
Through all the people crept,
And some that came to scoff at him
Now turned aside and wept.
But onwards--always onwards,
In silence and in gloom,
The dreary pageant labored,
Till it reached the house of doom.
Then first a woman's voice was heard
In jeer and laughter loud,
And an angry cry and hiss arose
From the heart of the tossing crowd;
Then, as the Graeme looked upwards,
He saw the ugly smile
Of him who sold his king for gold--
The master-fiend Argyle!
The Marquis gazed a moment,
And nothing did he say,
But the cheek of Argyle grew ghastly pale,
And he turned his eyes away.
The painted harlot by his side,
She shook through every limb,
For a roar like thunder swept the street,
And hands were clenched at him;
And a Saxon soldier cried aloud,
"Back, coward, from thy place!
For seven long years thou hast not dared
To look him in the face."
Had I been there with sword in hand,
And fifty Camerons by,
That day through high Dunedin's streets
Had pealed the slogan-cry.
Not all their troops of trampling horse,
Nor might of mailed men--
Not all the rebels in the South
Had borne us backward then!
Once more his foot on Highland heath
Had trod as free as air,
Or I, and all who bore my name,
Been laid around him there!
It might not be. They placed him next
Within the solemn hall,
Where once the Scottish kings were throned
Amidst their nobles all.
But there was dust of vulgar feet
On that polluted floor,
And perjured traitors filled the place
Where good men sate before.
With savage glee came Warriston
To read the murderous doom;
And then uprose the great Montrose
In the middle of the room.
"Now, by my faith as belted knight,
And by the name I bear,
And by the bright Saint Andrew's cross
That waves above us there,--
Yea, by a greater, mightier oath--
And oh, that such should be!--By
that dark stream of royal blood
That lies 'twixt you and me,--
have not sought in battle-field
A wreath of such renown,
Nor dared I hope on my dying day
To win the martyr's crown.
"There is a chamber far away
Where sleep the good and brave,
But a better place ye have named for me
Than by my father's grave.
For truth and right, 'gainst treason's might,
This hand hath always striven,
And ye raise it up for a witness still
In the eye of earth and heaven.
Then nail my head on yonder tower--
Give every town a limb--And
God who made shall gather them:
I go from you to Him!"
The morning dawned full darkly,
The rain came flashing down,
And the jagged streak of the levin-bolt
Lit up the gloomy town.
The thunder crashed across the heaven,
The fatal hour was come;
Yet aye broke in, with muffled beat,
The larum of the drum.
There was madness on the earth below
And anger in the sky,
And young and old, and rich and poor,
Come forth to see him die.
Ah, God! that ghastly gibbet!
How dismal 'tis to see
The great tall spectral skeleton,
The ladder and the tree!
Hark! hark! it is the clash of arms--
The bells begin to toll--
"He is coming! he is coming!
God's mercy on his soul!"
One long last peal of thunder--
The clouds are cleared away,
And the glorious sun once more looks down
Amidst the dazzling day.
"He is coming! he is coming!"
Like a bridegroom from his room,
Came the hero from his prison,
To the scaffold and the doom.
There was glory on his forehead,
There was lustre in his eye,
And he never walked to battle
More proudly than to die;
There was color in his visage,
Though the cheeks of all were wan,
And they marveled as they saw him pass,
That great and goodly man!
He mounted up the scaffold,
And he turned him to the crowd;
But they dared not trust the people,
So he might not speak aloud.
But looked upon the heavens
And they were clear and blue,
And in the liquid ether
The eye of God shone through:
Yet a black and murky battlement
Lay resting on the hill,
As though the thunder slept within--
All else was calm and still.
The grim Geneva ministers
With anxious scowl drew near,
As you have seen the ravens flock
Around the dying deer.
He would not deign them word nor sign,
But alone he bent the knee,
And veiled his face for Christ's dear grace
Beneath the gallows-tree.
Then radiant and serene he rose,
And cast his cloak away;
For he had ta'en his latest look
Of earth and sun and day.
A beam of light fell o'er him,
Like a glory round the shriven,
And he climbed the lofty ladder
As it were the path to heaven.
Then came a flash from out the cloud,
And a stunning thunder-roll;
And no man dared to look aloft,
For fear was on every soul.
There was another heavy sound,
A hush and then a groan;
And darkness swept across the sky--
The work of death was done!
THE BROKEN PITCHER
From the 'Bon Gaultier Ballads'
It was a Moorish maiden was sitting by a well,
And what that maiden thought of, I cannot, cannot tell,
When by there rode a valiant knight, from the town of Oviedo--
Alphonso Guzman was he hight, the Count of Desparedo.
"O maiden, Moorish maiden! why sitt'st thou by the spring?
Say, dost thou seek a lover, or any other thing?
Why gazest thou upon me, with eyes so large and wide,
And wherefore doth the pitcher lie broken by thy side?"
"I do not seek a lover, thou Christian knight so gay,
Because an article like that hath never come my way;
But why I gaze upon you, I cannot, cannot tell,
Except that in your iron hose you look uncommon swell.
"My pitcher it is broken, and this the reason is--
A shepherd came behind me, and tried to snatch a kiss;
I would not stand his nonsense, so ne'er a word I spoke,
But scored him on the costard, and so the jug was broke.
"My uncle, the Alcayde, he waits for me at home,
And will not take his tumbler until Zorayda come.
I cannot bring him water,--the pitcher is in pieces;
And so I'm sure to catch it, 'cos he wallops all his nieces.
"O maiden, Moorish maiden! wilt thou be ruled by me?
So wipe thine eyes and rosy lips, and give me kisses three;
And I'll give thee my helmet, thou kind and courteous lady,
To carry home the water to thy uncle, the Alcayde."
He lighted down from off his steed--he tied him to a tree--
He bowed him to the maiden, and took his kisses three:
"To wrong thee, sweet Zorayda, I swear would be a sin!"
He knelt him at the fountain, and dipped his helmet in.
Up rose the Moorish maiden--behind the knight she steals,
And caught Alphonso Guzman up tightly by the heels;
She tipped him in, and held him down beneath the bubbling water,--
"Now, take thou that for venturing to kiss Al Hamet's daughter!"
A Christian maid is weeping in the town of Oviedo;
She waits the coming of her love, the Count of Desparedo.
I pray you all in charity, that you will never tell
How he met the Moorish maiden beside the lonely well.
SONNET TO BRITAIN
"BY THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON"
Halt! Shoulder arms! Recover! As you were!
Right wheel! Eyes left! Attention! Stand at ease!
O Britain! O my country! Words like these
Have made thy name a terror and a fear
To all the nations. Witness Ebro's banks,
Assaye, Toulouse, Nivelle, and Waterloo,
Where the grim despot muttered, _Sauve qui pent!_
And Ney fled darkling.--Silence in the ranks!
Inspired by these, amidst the iron crash
Of armies, in the centre of his troop
The soldier stands--unmovable, not rash--
Until the forces of the foemen droop;
Then knocks the Frenchmen to eternal smash,
Pounding them into mummy. Shoulder, hoop!
A BALL IN THE UPPER CIRCLES
From "The Modern Endymion"
'Twas a hot season in the skies. Sirius held the ascendant, and under
his influence even the radiant band of the Celestials began to droop,
while the great ball-room of Olympus grew gradually more and more
deserted. For nearly a week had Orpheus, the leader of the heavenly
orchestra, played to a deserted floor. The _elite_ would no longer
figure in the waltz.
Juno obstinately kept her room, complaining of headache and ill-temper.
Ceres, who had lately joined a dissenting congregation, objected
generally to all frivolous amusements; and Minerva had established, in
opposition, a series of literary soirees, at which Pluto nightly
lectured on the fine arts and phrenology, to a brilliant and fashionable
audience. The Muses, with Hebe and some of the younger deities, alone
frequented the assemblies; but with all their attractions there was
still a sad lack of partners. The younger gods had of late become
remarkably dissipated, messed three times a week at least with Mars in
the barracks, and seldom separated sober. Bacchus had been sent to
Coventry by the ladies, for appearing one night in the ball-room, after
a hard sederunt, so drunk that he measured his length upon the floor
after a vain attempt at a mazurka; and they likewise eschewed the
company of Pan, who had become an abandoned smoker, and always smelt
infamously of cheroots. But the most serious defection, as also the most
unaccountable, was that of the beautiful Diana, _par excellence_ the
belle of the season, and assuredly the most graceful nymph that ever
tripped along the halls of heaven. She had gone off suddenly to the
country, without alleging any intelligible excuse, and with her the last
attraction of the ball-room seemed to have disappeared. Even Venus, the
perpetual lady patroness, saw that the affair was desperate.
"Ganymede, _mon beau garcon_," said she, one evening at an unusually
thin assembly, "we must really give it up at last. Matters are growing
worse and worse, and in another week we shall positively not have enough
to get up a tolerable gallopade. Look at these seven poor Muses sitting
together on the sofa. Not a soul has spoken to them to-night, except
that horrid Silenus, who dances nothing but Scotch reels."
"_Pardieu!_" replied the young Trojan, fixing his glass in his eye.
"There may be a reason for that. The girls are decidedly _passees_, and
most inveterate blues. But there's dear little Hebe, who never wants
partners, though that clumsy Hercules insists upon his conjugal rights,
and keeps moving after her like an enormous shadow. 'Pon my soul, I've a
great mind--Do you think, _ma belle tante_, that anything might be done
in that quarter?"
"Oh fie, Ganymede--fie for shame!" said Flora, who was sitting close to
the Queen of Love, and overheard the conversation. "You horrid, naughty
man, how can you talk so?"
"_Pardon, ma chere_!" replied the exquisite with a languid smile. "You
must excuse my _badinage_; and indeed, a glance of your fair eyes were
enough at any time to recall me to my senses. By the way, what a
beautiful _bouquet_ you have there. _Parole d'honneur_, I am quite
jealous. May I ask who sent it?"
"What a goose you are!" said Flora, in evident confusion: "how should I
know? Some general admirer like yourself, I suppose."
"Apollo is remarkably fond of hyacinths, I believe," said Ganymede,
looking significantly at Venus. "Ah, well! I see how it is. We poor
detrimentals must break our hearts in silence. It is clear we have no
chance with the _preux chevalier_ of heaven."
"Really, Ganymede, you are very severe this evening," said Venus with a
smile; "but tell me, have you heard anything of Diana?"
"Ah! _la belle Diane_? They say she is living in the country somewhere
about Caria, at a place they call Latmos Cottage, cultivating her faded
roses--what a color Hebe has!--and studying the sentimental."
"_Tant pis_! She is a great loss to us," said Venus. "Apropos, you will
be at Neptune's _fete champetre_ to-morrow, _n'est ce pas?_ We shall
then finally determine about abandoning the assemblies. But I must go
home now. The carriage has been waiting this hour, and my doves may
catch cold. I suppose that boy Cupid will not be home till all hours of
"Why, I believe the Rainbow Club _does_ meet to-night, after the
dancing," said Ganymede significantly. "This is the last oyster-night of
"Gracious goodness! The boy will be quite tipsy," said Venus. "Do, dear
Ganymede! try to keep him sober. But now, give me your arm to the
"_Volontiers_!" said the exquisite.
As Venus rose to go, there was a rush of persons to the further end of
the room, and the music ceased. Presently, two or three voices were
heard calling for Aesculapius.
"What's the row?" asked that learned individual, advancing leisurely
from the refreshment table, where he had been cramming himself with tea
"Leda's fainted!" shrieked Calliope, who rushed past with her
vinaigrette in hand.
"_Gammon_!" growled the Abernethy of heaven, as he followed her.
"Poor Leda!" said Venus, as her cavalier adjusted her shawl. "These
fainting fits are decidedly alarming. I hope it is nothing more serious
than the weather."
"I hope so, too," said Ganymede. "Let me put on the scarf. But people
will talk. Pray heaven it be not a second edition of that old scandal
about the eggs!"
"_Fi done_! You odious creature! How can you? But after all, stranger
things have happened. There now, have done. Good-night!" and she stepped
into her chariot.
"_Bon soir_" said the exquisite, kissing his hand as it rolled away.
"'Pon my soul, that's a splendid woman. I've a great mind--but there's
no hurry about that. _Revenons a nos oeufs._ I must learn something more
about this fainting fit." So saying, Ganymede re-ascended the stairs.
A HIGHLAND TRAMP
From "Norman Sinclair"
When summer came--for in Scotland, alas! there is no spring, winter
rolling itself remorselessly, like a huge polar bear, over what should
be the beds of the early flowers, and crushing them ere they
develop--when summer came, and the trees put on their pale-green
liveries, and the brakes were blue with the wood-hyacinth, and the ferns
unfolded their curl, what ecstasy it was to steal an occasional holiday,
and wander, rod in hand, by some quiet stream up in the moorlands,
inhaling health from every breeze, nor seeking shelter from the gentle
shower as it dropped its manna from the heavens! And then the long
holidays, when the town was utterly deserted--how I enjoyed these, as
they can only be enjoyed by the possess-ors of the double talisman of
strength and youth! No more care--no more trouble--no more task-work--no
thought even of the graver themes suggested by my later studies!
Look--standing on the Calton Hill, behold yon blue range of mountains to
the west--cannot you name each pinnacle from its form? Benledi,
Benvoirlich, Benlomond! Oh, the beautiful land, the elysium that lies
round the base of those distant giants! The forest of Glenfinlas, Loch
Achray with its weeping birches, the grand defiles of the Trosachs, and
Ellen's Isle, the pearl of the one lake that genius has forever
hallowed! Up, sluggard! Place your knapsack on your back; but stow it
not with unnecessary gear, for you have still further to go, and your
rod also must be your companion, if you mean to penetrate the region
beyond. Money? Little money suffices him who travels on foot, who can
bring his own fare to the shepherd's bothy where he is to sleep, and who
sleeps there better and sounder than the tourist who rolls from station
to station in his barouche, grumbling because the hotels are
overcrowded, and miserable about the airing of his sheets. Money? You
would laugh if you heard me mention the sum which has sufficed for my
expenditure during a long summer month; for the pedestrian, humble
though he be, has his own especial privileges, and not the least of
these is that he is exempted from all extortion. Donald--God bless
him!--has a knack of putting on the prices; and when an English family
comes posting up to the door of his inn, clamorously demanding every
sort of accommodation which a metropolitan hotel could afford, grumbling
at the lack of attendance, sneering at the quality of the food, and
turning the whole establishment upside down for their own selfish
gratification, he not unreasonably determines that the extra trouble
shall be paid for in that gold which rarely crosses his fingers except
during the short season when tourists and sportsmen abound. But Donald,
who is descended from the M'Gregor, does not make spoil of the poor. The
sketcher or the angler who come to his door, with the sweat upon their
brow and the dust of the highway or the pollen of the heather on their
feet, meet with a hearty welcome; and though the room in which their
meals are served is but low in the roof, and the floor strewn with sand,
and the attic wherein they lie is garnished with two beds and a
shake-down, yet are the viands wholesome, the sheets clean, and the
tariff so undeniably moderate that even parsimony cannot complain. So up
in the morning early, so soon as the first beams of the sun slant into
the chamber--down to the loch or river, and with a headlong plunge
scrape acquaintance with the pebbles at the bottom; then rising with a
hearty gasp, strike out for the islet or the further bank, to the
astonishment of the otter, who, thief that he is, is skulking back to
his hole below the old saugh-tree, from a midnight foray up the burns.
Huzza! The mallard, dozing among the reeds, has taken fright, and
tucking up his legs under his round fat rump, flies quacking to a
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes,"
and lo! Dugald the keeper, on his way to the hill, is arrested by the
aquatic phenomenon, and half believes that he is witnessing the frolics
of an Urisk! Then make your toilet on the green-sward, swing your
knapsack over your shoulders, and cover ten good miles of road before
you halt before breakfast with more than the appetite of an ogre.
In this way I made the circuit of well-nigh the whole of the Scottish
Highlands, penetrating as far as Cape Wrath and the wild district of
Edderachylis, nor leaving unvisited the grand scenery of Loch Corruisk,
and the stormy peaks of Skye; and more than one delightful week did I
spend each summer, exploring Gameshope, or the Linns of Talla, where the
Covenanters of old held their gathering; or clambering up the steep
ascent by the Grey Mare's Tail to lonely and lovely Loch Skene, or
casting for trout in the silver waters of St. Mary's.
MASSIMO TAPARELLI D'AZEGLIO
Massimo Taparelli, Marquis d'Azeglio, like his greater colleague and
sometime rival in the Sardinian Ministry, Cavour, wielded a graceful and
forcible pen, and might have won no slight distinction in the peaceful
paths of literature and art as well, had he not been before everything
else a patriot. Of ancient and noble Piedmontese stock, he was born at
Turin in October, 1798. In his fifteenth year the youth accompanied his
father to Rome, where the latter had been appointed ambassador, and thus
early he was inspired with the passion for painting and music which
never left him. In accordance with the paternal wish he entered on a
military career, but soon abandoned the service to devote himself to
art. But after a residence of eight years (1821-29) in the papal
capital, having acquired both skill and fame as a landscape painter,
D'Azeglio began to direct his thoughts to letters and politics.
After the death of his father in 1830 he settled in Milan, where he
formed the acquaintance of the poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni,
whose daughter he married, and under whose influence he became deeply
interested in literature, especially in its relation to the political
events of those stirring times. The agitation against Austrian
domination was especially marked in the north of Italy, where Manzoni
had made himself prominent; and so it came to pass that Massimo
d'Azeglio plunged into literature with the ardent hope of stimulating
the national sense of independence and unity.
In 1833 he published, not without misgivings, 'Ettore Fieramosca,' his
first romance, in which he aimed to teach Italians how to fight for
national honor. The work achieved an immediate and splendid success, and
unquestionably served as a powerful aid to the awakening of Italy's
ancient patriotism. It was followed in 1841 by 'Nicolo de' Lapi,' a
story conceived in similar vein, with somewhat greater pretensions to
literary finish. D'Azeglio now became known as one of the foremost
representatives of the moderate party, and exerted the potent influence
of his voice as well as of his pen in diffusing liberal propaganda. In
1846 he published the bold pamphlet 'Gli Ultimi Casi di Romagna' (On the
Recent Events in Romagna), in which he showed the danger and utter
futility of ill-advised republican outbreaks, and the paramount
necessity of adopting thereafter a wiser and more practical policy to
gain the great end desired. Numerous trenchant political articles issued
from his pen during the next two years. The year 1849 found him a member
of the first Sardinian parliament, and in March of that year Victor
Emmanuel called him to the presidency of the Council with the portfolio
of Foreign Affairs. Obliged to give way three years later before the
rising genius of Cavour, he served his country with distinction on
several important diplomatic missions after the peace of Villafranca,
and died in his native city on the 15th of January, 1866.
In 1867 appeared D'Azeglio's autobiography, 'I Miei Ricordi,' translated
into English by Count Maffei under title of 'My Recollections' which is
undeniably the most interesting and thoroughly delightful product of his
pen. "He was a 'character,'" said an English critic at the time: "a man
of whims and oddities, of hobbies and crotchets.... This character of
individuality, which impressed its stamp on his whole life, is
charmingly revealed in every sentence of the memoirs which he has left
behind him; so that, more than any of his previous writings, their
mingled homeliness and wit and wisdom justify the epithet which I once
before ventured to give him when I described him as 'the Giusti of
Italian prose.'" As a polemic writer D'Azeglio was recognized as one of
the chief forces in molding public opinion. If he had not been both
patriot and statesman, this versatile genius, as before intimated, would
not improbably have gained an enviable reputation in the realm of art;
and although his few novels are--perhaps with justice--no longer
remembered, they deeply stirred the hearts of his countrymen in their
day, and to say the least are characterized by good sense, facility of
execution, and a refined imaginative power.
A HAPPY CHILDHOOD
From 'My Recollections'
The distribution of our daily occupations was strictly laid down for
Matilde and me in black and white, and these rules were not to be broken
with impunity. We were thus accustomed to habits of order, and never to
make anybody wait for our convenience; a fault which is one of the most
troublesome that can be committed either by great people or small.
I remember one day that Matilde, having gone out with Teresa, came home
when we had been at dinner some time. It was winter, and snow was
falling. The two culprits sat down a little confused, and their soup was
brought them in two plates, which had been kept hot; but can you guess
where? On the balcony; so that the contents were not only below
freezing-point, but actually had a thick covering of snow!
At dinner, of course my sister and I sat perfectly silent, waiting our
turn, without right of petition or remonstrance. As to the other
proprieties of behavior, such as neatness, and not being noisy or
boisterous, we knew well that the slightest infraction would have
entailed banishment for the rest of the day at least. Our great anxiety
was to eclipse ourselves as much as possible; and I assure you that
under this system we never fancied ourselves the central points of
importance round which all the rest of the world was to revolve,--an
idea which, thanks to absurd indulgence and flattery, is often forcibly
thrust, I may say, into poor little brains, which if left to themselves
would never have lost their natural simplicity.
The lessons of 'Galateo' were not enforced at dinner only. Even at other
times we were forbidden to raise our voices or interrupt the
conversation of our elders, still more to quarrel with each other. If
sometimes as we went to dinner I rushed forward before Matilde, my
father would take me by the arm and make me come last, saying, "There is
no need to be uncivil because she is your sister." The old generation in
many parts of Italy have the habit of shouting and raising their voices
as if their interlocutor were deaf, interrupting him as if he had no
right to speak, and poking him in the ribs and otherwise, as if he could
only be convinced by sensations of bodily pain. The regulations observed
in my family were therefore by no means superfluous; and would to
Heaven they were universally adopted as the law of the land!
On another occasion my excellent mother gave me a lesson of humility,
which I shall never forget any more than the place where I received it.
In the open part of the Cascine, which was once used as a race-course,
to the right of the space where the carriages stand, there is a walk
alongside the wood. I was walking there one day with my mother, followed
by an old servant, a countryman of Pylades; less heroic than the latter,
but a very good fellow too. I forget why, but I raised a little cane I
had in my hand, and I am afraid I struck him. My mother, before all the
passers-by, obliged me to kneel down and beg his pardon. I can still see
poor Giacolin taking off his hat with a face of utter bewilderment,
quite unable to comprehend how it was that the Chevalier Massimo
Taparelli d'Azeglio came to be at his feet.
An indifference to bodily pain was another of the precepts most
carefully instilled by our father; and as usual, the lesson was made
more impressive by example whenever an opportunity presented itself. If,
for instance, we complained of any slight pain or accident, our father
used to say, half in fun, half in earnest, "When a Piedmontese has both
his arms and legs broken, and has received two sword-thrusts in the
body, he may be allowed to say, but not till then, 'Really, I almost
think I am not quite well.'"
The moral authority he had acquired over me was so great that in no case
would I have disobeyed him, even had he ordered me to jump out
I recollect that when my first tooth was drawn, I was in an agony of
fright as we went to the dentist; but outwardly I was brave enough, and
tried to seem as indifferent as possible. On another occasion my
childish courage and also my father's firmness were put to a more
serious test. He had hired a house called the Villa Billi, which stands
about half a mile from San Domenico di Fiesole, on the right winding up
toward the hill. Only two years ago I visited the place, and found the
same family of peasants still there, and my two old playmates, Nando and
Sandro,--who had both become even greater fogies than myself,--and we
had a hearty chat together about bygone times.
Whilst living at this villa, our father was accustomed to take us out
for long walks, which were the subject of special regulations. We were
strictly forbidden to ask, "Have we far to go?"--"What time is it?" or
to say, "I am thirsty; I am hungry; I am tired:" but in everything else
we had full liberty of speech and action. Returning from one of these
excursions, we one day found ourselves below Castel di Poggio, a rugged
stony path leading towards Vincigliata. In one hand I had a nosegay of
wild flowers, gathered by the way, and in the other a stick, when I
happened to stumble, and fell awkwardly. My father sprang forward to
pick me up, and seeing that one arm pained me, he examined it and found
that in fact the bone was broken below the elbow. All this time my eyes
were fixed upon him, and I could see his countenance change, and assume
such an expression of tenderness and anxiety that he no longer appeared
to be the same man. He bound up my arm as well as he could, and we then
continued our way homewards. After a few moments, during which my father
had resumed his usual calmness, he said to me:--
"Listen, Mammolino: your mother is not well. If she knows you are hurt
it will make her worse. You must be brave, my boy: to-morrow morning we
will go to Florence, where all that is needful can be done for you; but
this evening you must not show you are in pain. Do you understand?"
All this was said with his usual firmness and authority, but also with
the greatest affection. I was only too glad to have so important and
difficult a task intrusted to me. The whole evening I sat quietly in a
corner, supporting my poor little broken arm as best I could, and my
mother only thought me tired by the long walk, and had no suspicion of
The next day I was taken to Florence, and my arm was set; but to
complete the cure I had to be sent to the Baths of Vinadio a few years
afterward. Some people may, in this instance, think my father was cruel.
I remember the fact as if it were but yesterday, and I am sure such an
idea never for one minute entered my mind. The expression of ineffable
tenderness which I had read in his eyes had so delighted me, it seemed
so reasonable to avoid alarming my mother, that I looked on the hard
task allotted me as a fine opportunity of displaying my courage. I did
so because I had not been spoilt, and good principles had been early
implanted within me: and now that I am an old man and have known the
world, I bless the severity of my father; and I could wish every Italian
child might have one like him, and derive more profit than I did,--in
thirty years' time Italy would then be the first of nations.
Moreover, it is a fact that children are much more observant than is
commonly supposed, and never regard as hostile a just but affectionate
severity. I have always seen them disposed to prefer persons who keep
them in order to those who constantly yield to their caprices; and
soldiers are just the same in this respect.
The following is another example to prove that my father did not deserve
to be called cruel:--
He thought it a bad practice to awaken children suddenly, or to let
their sleep be abruptly disturbed. If we had to rise early for a
journey, he would come to my bedside and softly hum a popular song, two
lines of which still ring in my ears:--
"Chi vuol veder l'aurora
Lasci le molli plume."
(He who the early dawn would view
Downy pillows must eschew.)
And by gradually raising his voice, he awoke me without the slightest
start. In truth, with all his severity, Heaven knows how I loved him.
From "My Recollections"
My occupations in Rome were not entirely confined to the domains of
poetry and imagination. It must not be forgotten that I was also a
diplomatist; and in that capacity I had social as well as official
duties to perform.
The Holy Alliance had accepted the confession and repentance of Murat,
and had granted him absolution; but as the new convert inspired little
confidence, he was closely watched, in the expectation--and perhaps the
hope--of an opportunity of crowning the work by the infliction
The penance intended was to deprive him of his crown and sceptre, and to
turn him out of the pale. Like all the other diplomatists resident in
Rome, we kept our court well informed of all that could be known or
surmised regarding the intentions of the Neapolitan government; and I
had the lively occupation of copying page after page of incomprehensible
cipher for the newborn archives of our legation. Such was my life at
that time; and in spite of the cipher, I soon found it pleasant enough.
Dinner-parties, balls, routs, and fashionable society did not then
inspire me with the holy horror which now keeps me away from them.
Having never before experienced or enjoyed anything of the kind, I was
satisfied. But in the midst of my pleasure, our successor--Marquis San
Saturnino--made his appearance, and we had to prepare for our departure.
One consolation, however, remained. I had just then been appointed to
the high rank of cornet in the crack dragoon regiment "Royal Piedmont."
I had never seen its uniform, but I cherished a vague hope of being
destined by Fortune to wear a helmet; and the prospect of realizing this
splendid dream of my infancy prevented me from regretting my Roman
The Society of Jesus had meanwhile been restored, and my brother was on
the eve of taking the vows. He availed himself of the last days left him
before that ceremony to sit for his portrait to the painter Landi. This
is one of that artist's best works, who, poor man, cannot boast of many;
and it now belongs to my nephew Emanuel.
The day of the ceremony at length arrived, and I accompanied my brother
to the Convent of Monte Cavallo, where it was to take place.
The Jesuits at that time were all greatly rejoicing at the revival of
their order; and as may be inferred, they were mostly old men, with only
a few young novices among them.
We entered an oratory fragrant with the flowers adorning the altar, full
of silver ornaments, holy images, and burning wax-lights, with
half-closed windows and carefully drawn blinds; for it is a certain,
although unexplained, fact that men are more devout in the dark than in
the light, at night than in the day-time, and with their eyes closed
rather than open. We were received by the General of the order, Father
Panizzoni, a little old man bent double with age, his eyes encircled
with red, half blind, and I believe almost in his dotage. He was
shedding tears of joy, and we all maintained the pious and serious
aspect suited to the occasion, until the time arrived for the novice to
step forward, when, lo! Father Panizzoni advanced with open arms toward
the place where I stood, mistaking me for my brother; a blunder which
for a moment imperiled the solemnity of the assembly.
Had I yielded to the embrace of Father Panizzoni, it would have been a
wonderful bargain both for him and me. But this was not the only
invitation I then received to enter upon a sacerdotal career. Monsignor
Morozzo, my great-uncle and god-father, then secretary to the bishops
and regular monks, one day proposed that I should enter the
Ecclesiastical Academy, and follow the career of the prelacy under his
patronage. The idea seemed so absurd that I could not help laughing
heartily, and the subject was never revived.
Had I accepted these overtures, I might in the lapse of time have long
since been a cardinal, and perhaps even Pope. And if so, I should have
drawn the world after me, as the shepherd entices a lamb with a lump of
salt. It was very wrong in me to refuse. Doubtless the habit of
expressing my opinion to every one, and on all occasions, would have led
me into many difficulties. I must either have greatly changed, or a very
few years would have seen an end of me.
We left Rome at last, in the middle of winter, in an open carriage, and
traveling chiefly by night, as was my father's habit. While the horses
are trotting on, I will sum up the impressions of Rome and the Roman
world which I was carrying away. The clearest idea present to my mind
was that the priests of Rome and their religion had very little in
common with my father and Don Andreis, or with the religion professed by
them and by the priests and the devout laity of Turin. I had not been
able to detect the slightest trace of that which in the language of
asceticism is called unction. I know not why, but that grave and
downcast aspect, enlivened only by a few occasional flashes of ponderous
clerical wit, the atmosphere depressing as the _plumbeus auster_ of
Horace, in which I had been brought up under the rule of my priest,--all
seemed unknown at Rome. There I never met with a monsignore or a priest
who did not step out with a pert and jaunty air, his head erect, showing
off a well-made leg, and daintily attired in the garb of a clerical
dandy. Their conversation turned upon every possible subject, and
sometimes upon _quibusdam aliis_, to such a degree that it was evident
my father was perpetually on thorns. I remember a certain prelate, whom
I will not name, and whose conduct was, I believe, sufficiently free and
easy, who at a dinner-party at a villa near Porta Pia related laughingly
some matrimonial anecdotes, which I at that time did not fully
understand. And I remember also my poor father's manifest distress, and
his strenuous endeavors to change the conversation and direct it into a
The prelates and priests whom I used to meet in less orthodox companies
than those frequented by my father seemed to me still more free and
easy. Either in the present or in the past, in theory or in practice,
with more or less or even no concealment, they all alike were sailing or
had sailed on the sweet _fleuve du tendre_. For instance, I met one old
canon bound to a venerable dame by a tie of many years' standing. I also
met a young prelate with a pink-and-white complexion and eyes expressive
of anything but holiness; he was a desperate votary of the fair sex, and
swaggered about paying his homage right and left. Will it be believed,
this gay apostle actually told me, without circumlocution, that in the
monastery of Tor di Specchi there dwelt a young lady who was in love
with me? I, who of course desired no better, took the hint instantly,
and had her pointed out to me. Then began an interchange of silly
messages, of languishing looks, and a hundred absurdities of the same
kind; all cut short by the pair of post-horses which carried us out of
the Porta del Popolo....
The opinions of my father respecting the clergy and the Court of Rome
were certainly narrow and prejudiced; but with his good sense it was
impossible for him not to perceive what was manifest even to a blind
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