Page images

"Twill one day finish: meantime they increase,

« With seven heads and ten horns, » and all in front, Like Saint John's foretold beast; but ours are born Less formidable in the head than horn.


In the first year of freedom's second dawn

Died George the Third; although no tyrant, one Who shielded tyrants, till each sense withdrawn Left him nor mental nor external sun :

A better farmer ne'er brush'd dew from lawn;
A worse king never left a realm undone!
He died—but left his subjects still behind,
One half as mad-and t'other no less blind.


He died!-his death made no great stir on earth; His burial made some pomp; there was profusion Of velvet, gilding, brass, and no great dearth

Of aught but tears-save those shed by collusion; For these things may be bought at their true worth: Of elegy there was the due infusion

Bought also; and the torches, cloaks, and banners, Heralds, and relics of old Gothic manners,


Form'd a sepulchral melo-drame. Of all

The fools who flock'd to swell or see the show, Who cared about the corpse? The funeral

Made the attraction, and the black the woe.

There throbb'd not there a thought which pierced the


And when the gorgeous coffin was laid low,

It seem'd the mockery of hell to fold

The rottenness of eighty years in gold.

[ocr errors]


So mix his body with the dust! It might
Return to what it must far sooner, were
The natural compound left alone to fight

Its way back into earth, and fire, and air;
But the unnatural balsams merely blight

What nature made him at his birth, as bare As the mere million's base unmummied clayYet all his spices but prolong decay.


He's dead-and upper earth with him has done :
He's buried; save the undertaker's bill,
Or lapidary scrawl, the world is gone
For him, unless he left a German will;
But where's the proctor who will ask his son?
In whom his qualities are reigning still,
Except that household virtue, most uncommon,
Of constancy, to a bad, ugly woman.


« God save the king!» It is a large economy
In God to save the like; but if he will
Be saving, all the better; for not one am I
Of those who think damnation better still :
I hardly know too if not quite alone am I

In this small hope of bettering future ill
By circumscribing, with some slight restriction,
The eternity of hell's hot jurisdiction.


I know this is unpopular; 1 know

'Tis blasphemous; I know one may be damn'd For hoping no one else may e'er be so;

I know my catechism; I know we are cramm'd

With the best doctrines till we quite o'erflow;

Iknow that all save England's church have shamm'd, And that the other twice two hundred churches And synagogues have made a damn'd bad purchase. XV.

God help us all! God help me, too! I am,

God knows, as helpless as the devil can wish, And not a whit more difficult to damn

[ocr errors]

Than is to bring to land a late-hook'd fish,
Or to the butcher to purvey the lamb;
Not that I'm fit for such a noble dish
As one day will be that immortal fry
Of almost every body born to die.


Saint Peter sat by the celestial gate,

And nodded o'er his keys; when lo! there came A wonderous noise he had not heard of lateA rushing sound of wind, and stream, and flame; In short, a roar of things extremely great,

Which would have made aught save a saint exclaim; But he, with first a start and then a wink,

Said, «There's another star gone out, I think! »


But ere he could return to his repose,

A cherub flapp'd his right wing o'er his eyesAt which Saint Peter yawn'd, and rubb'd his nose : « Saint porter,» said the Angel, « prithee rise? » Waving a goodly wing, which glow'd, as glows An earthly peacock's tail, with heavenly dyes; To which the Saint replied, « Well, what's the matter; « Is Lucifer come back with all this clatter? »

[ocr errors]



No, quoth the Cherub; «George the Third is dead. >> «And who is George the Third?«replied the Apostle; « What George? what Third?» « The King of England, << said

The Angel. « Well! he wont find kings to jostle << Him on his way; but does he wear his head?

« Because the-we saw here had a tussle,

« And ne'er would have got into heaven's good graces, <«< Had he not flung his head in all our faces.

« He was,


if I remember, king of

<< That head of his, which could not keep a crown « On earth, yet ventured in my face to advance << A claim to those of martyrs-like my own: << If I had had my sword, as I had once

<< When I cut ears off, I had cut him down « But having but my keys, and not my brand, « I only knock'd his head from out his hand. XX.

« And then he set up such a headless howl,

[ocr errors]

« That all the saints came out, and took him in;


« And there he sits by Saint Paul, cheek by jowl;
<< That fellow Paul-the parvenu! The skin
« Of Saint Bartholomew, which makes his cowl

« In heaven, and upon earth redeem'd his sin
« So as to make a martyr, never sped dis
<< Better than did this weak and wooden he


But had it come up here upon its shoulders,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

« There would have been a different tale to tell : The fellow-feeling in the saints beholders


<< Seems to have acted on them like a spell,

<< And so this
very foolish head heaven solders
<< Back on its trunk : it may be very well,
« And seems the custom here to overthrow
« Whatever has been wisely done below. »


The Angel answer'd, « Peter! do not pout;
<< The king who comes has head and all entire,
<< And never knew much what it was about-

« He did as doth the puppet-by its wire,
« And will be judged like all the rest, no doubt:
« My business and your own is not to inquire
<< Into such matters, but to mind our cue-
« Which is to act as we are bid to do. »


While thus they spake, the angelic caravan,
Arriving like a rush of mighty wind,
Cleaving the fields of space, as doth the swan

Some silver stream (say Ganges, Nile, or Inde, Or Thames, or Tweed), and midst them an old man With an old soul, and both extremely blind, Halted before the gate, and in his shroud Seated their fellow-traveller on a cloud,


But bringing up the rear of this bright host,
A spirit of a different aspect waved
His wings, like thunder-clouds above some coast
Whose barren beach with frequent wrecks is paved;
His brow was like the deep when tempest-tost;
Fierce and unfathomable thoughts engraved
Eternal wrath on his immortal face,

And where he gazed a gloom pervaded space.

« PreviousContinue »