The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law

The Critical Response
Harriett Jay

Site Diary
Site Search

{The Devil’s Case 1896}




November, 1894.

When the life-thread was spun
     From the blood in her breast,
She look'd on her Son,
     Smiled, and rock’d him to rest. . . .

How swift the Hours run
     From the East to the West!
Erect stood the Son,
     And the Mother was blest.

Of all Life had won
     Love like his seem’d the best:
He was still the dear Son
     She had rock’d on her breast!

Yet lo! all is done!
     (’Twas, O God, Thy behest!)
In his turn the gray Son
     Rocks the Mother to rest!

All is o’er, ere begun! . . . .
     O my dearest and best,
Sleep in peace,—till thy Son
     Creepeth down to thy breast!

                 R. B.








Please remember, Gentle Reader,
     Not to judge me line by line;
Tho’ I try to state it clearly,
     ’Tis the Devil’s Case, not mine!






Would you know how I, Buchanan,
Met the Devil here in London,
Chatted with him, interview’d him?
Listen, then, and you shall hear!

Not in great heroic measures
Shall I sing on this occasion,
But in roguish rhymeless stanzas
Much esteem’d by Greeks and Germans.

Genius of the Greeks and Germans,
Lend me, then, your light trochaics,
Loose, an easy-fitting raiment
Fit to lounge in, as I sing!

For my perilous subject-matter                                                           2
Mingled is of jest and earnest,
To be treated in a manner
Jaunty, free, yet philosophic;

Bold it is,—you’ll cease to doubt it,
When I once am fairly started!
Sad it is,—and yet its sadness
Trembles on the verge of laughter!

Other bards in days departed
Have (they tell us) met the Devil;
Often I’m inclined to doubt it
Since they libel’d him so grossly.

No! the fiends of their acquaintance
Were but small inferior Devils,
Feeble foolish masqueraders,
Tho’ their talk was often clever;

Tho’ to other generations
They might seem appalling creatures,
Really they were not authentic,

For the first time, I assure you,                                                            3
He, the real and only Devil,
Sick of being by poets libel’d,
Has to utterance condescended;

Wherefore, I entreat you, Reader,
Listen to his explanations!
Judge with kindness and discretion
Interview’d and Interviewer!

I, the Interviewer, hated
Cordially by cliques and critics,
Rail’d at in a hundred journals
As a Scotchman lost and lorn;

He, the Interview’d, for ages
Outlaw’d by the cliques of Heaven,
Who for ever and for ever
Roll the Log and praise the Lord!

I, the Interviewer, banish’d
From the Eden of the poets,
Where the stainless laurel-wearers
Wander innocent and nude;

He, the Interview’d, for ever                                                              4
Boycotted by God Almighty,
Curst in leader-writer’s thunder
By the great celestial Times.

Neither of us, I assure you,
Has been reasonably treated;
Neither of us is so naughty
As the public prints assever.

Both began with warm approval
Of the Church and ruling classes;
I was praised by the Spectator,
He was orthodox and holy!

Both, alas! have wholly fallen!
I, from gulfs of impious thinking,
See the Heav’n of Poetasters
Guarded still by Hutton’s sword;

He, the greater, grander Devil,
Prowling in the outer darkness,
Sadly eyes the loaves and fishes
On the Thunderer’s banquet-table.

Still, we keep as our possession                                                         5
One thing even the Angels envy—
Power to stand erect, while cravens
Roll the Log and bend the knee;

Power to feel and strength to suffer,
Will to fight for Freedom only,
Zeal to speak the truth within us,
While the slaves of Heaven are dumb.

But. . . your pardon, Gentle Reader!
I’m anticipating somewhat—
All impatient waits my Devil,
Swishing tail and grimly smiling:

What he is, himself shall tell you—
What he thinks, you soon shall gather,
When I say, the Judge saluting,
“I’m, my lud, for the Defendant!”



Night lay o’er the Heath of Hampstead—
One by one the merry-makers,
Romping, mad, accordion-playing,
Beer-inspired, were trotting town-ward.

All that afternoon I’d wander’d
Mid the throng of Nymphs and Satyrs,
Now at last the Bacchanalian
August holiday was over.

Sad my soul had been among them,
Envying their easy pleasures,
Since for many a month behind me
Wolf-like creditors had throng’d;

Since my name and fame were lying
In the gutter of the journals,
While the laws of Earth and Heaven
Seemed one vast Receiving Order!

Bankrupt thus in fame and fortune,                                                       7
Wearily I walk’d and ponder’d
On the lonely Heath of Hampstead,
In the silence of the Night. . . .

Gently, one by one, the azure
Lattices of Heaven blew open;
Dimly, darkly, far above me,
God began to light His lamps:

Silent, still, a shadowy Presence
Felt not seen, the Old Lamplighter
Pass’d above my head fulfilling
Feebly his appointed task.

How my spirit rose against Him!
How I curst His deaf-and-dumbness!
While above me, twinkle-twinkle
Gleam’d those melancholy lights!

Far down westward, over Harrow,
Pensively the Moon was shining—
Opening her dark bed-curtains
With a wan and sleepy smile;

Soft and cool a breeze was blowing                                                   8
Like the Earth’s own breath in slumber,
Falling on my fever’d eyelids
With a dewy sense of tears.

Night was there, and Night within me,
As with sad eyes gazing sky-ward
I beheld the bale-fires burning,
Multiplying, overhead!



He who hath not turn’d already
From my rakish, rhymeless poem,
Seeking what the crowd loves better,—
Rhyme and tintinabulation,

May esteem me a blasphemer,
Just as I, at our first meeting,
To be presently recorded,
Thought my honest friend, the Devil!

He alone blasphemes who smothers
Truth his conscience bids him utter;
Now-a-days, in Hell and London,
Truth, methinks, is sorely needed!

And (remember) I, Buchanan,
Spite of all my slips, have ever
Loath’d the foul materialistic
Serpent that surrounds the world. . .

In his autobiographic                                                                          10
Fragment, Stuart Mill assevers
That from infancy to manhood
He was never pious-minded;

Never did his spirit falter
Into Brahmic meditation:
Quite enough for him to brood on
Was the moral side of Man.

Souls like that the Fates may fashion,
But I fail to comprehend them—
From the hour I first remember
I was gazing at the stars;

I was wondering, I was dreaming,
Speculating and aspiring,—
Reaching hands and feeling backward
To the secret founts of Being.

All the gods were welcome to me!
All the heavens were wide and open!
All the dreams of all the Dreamers
In my heart’s blood were pulsating!

Beautiful it was to wander                                                                   11
In a glad green world, beholding
Faith’s celestial Jacob’s Ladder
Rainbow’d out ’tween Earth and Heaven,

And upon it shining Angels,
Some descending, some ascending,
Golden-hair’d, with rosy faces
Smiling on me as I walk’d.

Well, those happy days were over,
With the roses of the Maytime—
One by one my youth’s illusions
Had been spirited away.

Ev’n as eyeless Samson labour’d
Wearily ’mong slaves at Gaza,
I had done my daily taskwork,
Blind and sad, yet not despairing;

Spite of all my load of sorrows,
I was hoping, I was dreaming;
Still, tho’ all my gods had vanish’d,
Reaching empty arms to Heaven!



Bitterly, that night of August,
All my load of woes upon me,
Bare I witness ’gainst the Serpent
Who had made me see and know.

Far away the Sword was flaming
O’er the gates of Youth and Eden—
Never, never, should I enter
Those celestial Gates again!

And the Woman? Somewhere yonder
She was sorrowing and sobbing—
Never, never, would we wander
Thro’ the Garden, hand in hand!

Bitterly I cursed the Serpent!
Bitterly I cursed the Apple!
Honey in the mouth, but wormwood
In the stomach, being eaten!

Suddenly my soul grew conscious                                                      13
Of dark forms that flitted near me:—
All the pallid Heath was peopled
With the shadows of the Dead:

Woeful shadows,—well I knew them!
Phantoms of the years departed—
Men and women, apparitions
Of the days when I was young!

Never one (and this was strangest!)
Cast a look upon me passing—
Some gazed downward, darkly dreaming,
Others look’d on vacancy:

Lost they seemed in contemplation,
All unconscious of my presence—
Some were smiling, some were weeping,
All were hastening God knows where!

Well I knew one weary figure
Bending as beneath a burden,
Talking to himself, nor heeding
While I sob’d and murmur’d “Father!”

And another, whitely shrouded,—                                                      14
Thin and spectral were her features
Underneath her locks all golden
As her namesake’s, the Madonna’s;

And another, tall and slender,
Bright-eyed like the star of morning,
Beauteous as that other David
When he sang to comfort Saul!

And another, bright-eyed also,
Tho’ the years had snowed upon him—
(’Twas but yesterday, my Roden,
That dear hand was clasp’d in mine!)

Shadows, phantoms, apparitions,
Heedless though I cried unto them,
Though my wounded heart was bleeding
For a look, a loving word;

Shadows dead, yet omnipresent,
Wrapt in Death as in a garment,
Heedless of the living creature
Who implored their intercession,

Ant-like moved they, this way, that way,                                             15
Purposeful yet void of purpose
As the ants are, ever thronging
Busily, they know not whither.

Never one stretch’d hand unto me!
Never one would look upon me!
All alone I stood among them
With a void and aching heart.

Far away, the lights of London
Glimmer’d like a crimson crescent!
Far above, the lamps of Heaven
Flicker’d in the breath of God!



Suddenly from out the darkness
Sprang the Moon, and thro’ the trembling
Pools of azure softly swimming
Flooded Heaven with rippling rays.

Well I knew the Naked Goddess!
Many a midnight, there in London,
She had witch’d my sense with wonder,
Stirr’d my soul to pensive dreams!

In her light the Phantoms faded,
While the lonely Heath around me,
Lit as with a ghastly daylight,
Loom’d distinct against the sky. . . .

Even then I saw before me
Something, featured like a mortal,
Sitting silent in the moonlight
On a fallen wither’d tree.

Gnarl’d and knotted like the branches                                                17
Seemed his form, yet bent and weary,—
Worn his features were, and wither’d,
And his hair was white as snow.

In his hands he held the paper
He was quietly perusing,
Glancing up at times and gazing
At the City far away.

Startled to perceive a mortal
Sitting in a place so lonely,
Wondering I paused and watch’d him,
And betimes my wonder grew:

Silent, heedless of my presence,
Sat he reading by the moonlight,
Clerically dress’d, bareheaded,
Spectacles upon his nose.

“’Tis,” I thought, “some priest or parson,
Or some layman who, like Mawworm,
Feels ‘a call to go a preaching,’
Yet what folly brings him here?

Nearer then I stole unto him,                                                              18
Keen to know what he was reading—
When I saw that ’twas the latest
(Pink) edition of the Star.

Still he heeded not my presence,
Till I broke the gloomy silence,
Saying, “Friend, your sight is surely
Wondrous for a wight so old,

“Since by moonlight dim as this is
You can read your evening paper?”
As I spake he gazed upon me,
Smiling, with uplifted eyes.

“Yes,” he said, benignly nodding,
“I am blest with goodly eyesight,
Owing chiefly, like most blessings,
To a strictly moral life.

“In my sanctum, sir, you find me,
After weary hours of labour,
Glancing, to refresh my spirit,
At the doings of the day.

“Never globe of gold or crystal,                                                         19
Used by any Necromancer,
Flash’d more wonders on the vision
Than the Newspaper I hold!

“Here, epitomis’d and pictured,
We behold the human Pageant,—
All the doings on this planet,
All the stress and strife of men;

“Kings pass by with trains attendant,
Shadowy Armies follow ever,
Ghostly faces glimmer on us,—
Everywhere the Phantoms pass!

“Scenes of wonder and of terror,—
Fields of battle dimly looming,
Cain still slaughtering his brother,
Having cast his Altar down;

“Parliaments in congress gather’d;
Judges on their benches nodding,
While the tedious sleepy trial
Oozes darkly, slowly, on;

“Then, the groups of famish’d creatures!                                             20
Then, the Pit’s Mouth, fiercely flaming,
While the wild-eyed wives and mothers
Clamour round and shriek for aid!

“Of all Miracles the greatest
Is the Newspaper,” he added—
'Daily, hourly, adumbrating
All the anarchy of Life!”

“Adumbrating too,” I answer’d,
“All life’s wonder, all life’s beauty—
Telling men of mighty causes,
Solemn issues, glorious deeds!

Heroes pass across its mirror,
Angel-faces flash before us,
Eyes of countless Saints and Martyrs
Cast upon us looks of love.

“Still the Seer, the Priest, the Poet
Speak of God, and point to Heaven!
Still the Churches stand, proclaiming
Life is more than mere despair.”

“Surely!” said the quiet Stranger;                                                         21
“Here, ev’n here, the Soul is shining;
Still the pious leader-writer
Vaunts the government of God!

“Church and State, Sir, Queen and Country,
Party Rule and all its blessings,
Progress, Culture, Loaves and Fishes,
Still are potent in the Land!

“Shibboleths like these are precious
Ev’n though one devours another,
Though the shibboleth of white men
Wrecks the shibboleth of black!

“Yet (you warn me) still the Dreamers
Speak of God and point to Heaven!
Still the spire, like Faith’s bright finger,
Points to some far Paradise!

“Meantime, God is busy, bungling
In the old familiar fashion,
Heedless of the things He crushes
Underneath His clumsy foot!



“Take my Newspaper a moment!”
(Here I did so) “Read the headings:'
“Shipwreck of the Golden Mary—
Loss of every Soul on board!

“Earthquake in Sardinia. Twenty
Villages destroyed entirely.
Many thousand living creatures
Swallow’d in the black abysses. . . .

“Floods in China . . . Decimation
Of much populated districts,
Whither, while the folk were sleeping,
Rush’d the great destroying waters . . .

“Cholera in Russia! . . . Famine . . .
In the East! and millions starving! . . .
Railway accident in Texas,
Sickening details”
(columns long).

“Look on Nature. Hear the wailing                                                      23
Of a million martyr’d beings—
Tell me, then, the God you pray to
Cares one straw for human life!

“Well it is for you, sir, coming
From a fireside calm and cosy,
To believe some kindly Person
Rules the destinies of Earth!

“Pestilence, Disease, and Famine
Desolate this world you praise so;
Who shall bid them cease their ravage?—
Who shall say to Death—‘go by!’”

Then I answer’d, hot and angry,
“Grant the pain and grant the carnage
(How my soul has sickened o’er them!)
Grant the thousand woes of men!

“This they prove, and this thing only:
Human life as we behold it
Is as nothing in the vision
Of a larger Thought than ours.

“All this world and its delusions,                                                         24
All this life, its joys and sorrows,
Death itself, become as nothing,
When we learn that nought can die.”

“Dreamer!” said he, “One thing certain
Is the death of every unit:
Life, I grant you, is eternal,
But the personal life must pass.

“Nay, not only lesser beings,
But the greater with the lesser—
Like the individual unit
Dies the individual world!

“Look at men. Regard them closely—
Mark the madmen chasing bubbles,
Pleasure, honour, reputation,
Gold and women most of all!

“Think you things like these are worthy
Of eternal prolongation?—
God knows better—in Death’s furnace
Melts the dross for other uses!”

“God?” he cried. “If such a Ruler,                                                       25
Wise, Omnipotent, All-seeing,
Had concerned Himself in making
Worlds at all, and living creatures,

“He’d have made them wholly perfect,
With no fuss of evolution . . . . ;
If there is a God, He blundered,—
Man is here to set Him right!”



Horrified to hear such language
From a man so old and saintly,
“Sir,” I said, “At first I took you
For a clergyman, or priest?

“Now I hear you thus blaspheming,
I conclude that you’re no parson—
Mother Church perchance has thrust you
Scornfully beyond its doors?”

“Sir,” he said, “your guess is clever!
Once I was in holy orders
(Long ago) and for my blunders
Heaven’s Archbishop kick’d me out!

“Since that time, sir, I’ve been busy
Prowling up and down your planet,
Whence I’ve come to this conclusion—
All Religion is a Fraud!”

Like a spectacled Magician                                                                 27
Rose the man as he proceeded,
Blinking calmly down upon me
Thro’ his glasses, with a smile;

Tall and lean he tower’d above me,
Looming ’gainst the moonlit heaven,
Baleful rays of something evil
Glimmering from his rheumy eyes.

“Yes,” he mutter’d, gazing upward;
“Though the stars may shine their brightest,
Though the Churches shriek their loudest,
God is utterly played out!”

“Blasphemy!” I cried. “Our Maker
Is, and works in His own fashion:
How shall purblind human creatures
Comprehend his works and laws?

“Shall ephemeræ of a moment,
Fluttering for a breath, then fading,
Fathom the Eternal Glory
Of the loving Lord of all?

“What we see of sin and sorrow                                                         28
Is but darkness of the vision—
Far beyond it God the Father
Moveth to some fair Event!

“In due season those who love Him
Shall awake to understanding—
Meantime, certain of His wisdom,
Patiently they watch and wait!”

“So they tell us in the Churches,”
Said the Stranger; “so the Human,
Blindly hoping and despairing,
Postulates a God of Love!

“Since the world appears so evil,
It must surely be delusion!
So they argue in a circle,
Proving blindly, black is white!

“All the while their great Creator,
Moving to the Event you speak of,
Freely scatters his damnation
On two-thirds of living things!

“Let the Preacher and the Poet                                                           29
Dream the old sweet dream of Heaven;
Meantime, God reminds them daily
Of a warmer place below!

“Read my Newspaper! the journal
Of the Inferno He created!
Tir’d of that, peruse the pages
Mark’d by History’s bloody hand!

“Sheol burnt from the beginning,
Sheol burns to-day around us—
Countless millions of you mortals
Fail to feed its hungry fires!

“City still has followed City
Down this crater of damnation—
Still it yawns,—and o’er it London
Smokes, like Babylon of old!

“Here and there, from Hell and Chaos,
Some fair type is seen emerging—
Pleased to find his work so pretty,
God approves it for a space;

“Then, dissatisfied and peevish,                                                           30
Crushes it with foot or fingers!
Greece, Rome, Egypt, thus have perish’d,
Yet the fires of Hell burn on!”



Wroth to hear him still blaspheming,
Pitying, ne’ertheless, his blindness,
Since the years had snow’d upon him
And his face lookt worn and weary,

“Thinkest thou,” I cried, “the Father,
Wise, omnipotent, all-seeing,
Ever would consign His children
To an anguish everlasting?

“Nay, there is no Hell, save only
Conscience working deep within us,
Warning us ’gainst sin and evil,
Ever whispering ‘Repent!’”

Smiling quietly, the Stranger
Answer’d, “Sin is God’s invention!
Often have I doubted Heaven—
Never have I doubted Hell!

“Look around. Hell is. Of all things                                                    32
Made by God, the one thing certain.”
Then with twinkling eyes he added,
“Just as soon, I’d doubt the Devil!”

Lost in utter indignation
Scornfully I turned upon him:
“Cease thy blasphemy! No magic
Can recall the Prince of Evil!

“Nay! for Man has passed for ever
From those caves of superstition
Where that image cloven-footed
Of our sin was first created.

“Hell is not,—nor any Spirit
Wholly lost and wholly evil.
He who dares believe in either
Out of ignorance blasphemes.”

“Pardon me,” he smiling answer’d—
“What was done by old Magicians
Still is easy—Modern magic
Still is potent, be assured!

“Think of all the woes of Nature!                                                        33
Picture, then, the Prince of Evil,
As thy conscience can conceive him—
Straightway he shall stand before you!

“Yet I warn you, you may find him
Neither tail’d nor cloven-footed—
Nay, a person civil-spoken,
And extremely sympathetic!”

Even as he spake, his features
Shone with vitreous rays reflected
From the heavens above him bending,
And his eyes grew bright as stars;

And meseem’d his form dilated
As with soot-black wings, expanding
Into something strange and baleful,
Shadowy, mystical, and sad.

Like some ragged ancient raven
Stood he fluttering before me,—
While the moonlight’s tremulous fingers
Smooth’d his woeful hoary hair!

Straightway, then, methought I knew him,                                           34
Shrinking back in trepidation,
Crying “Get behind me, SATAN!”
Trembling in the act to fly!



“Stay,” he said, “and listen to me!
I am he thy conscience pictures,
I am he whom men deem evil,
Anti-Christ and Anti-God!

“I have answer’d to thy summons!
I am he whom the Almighty,
Judge as well as prosecutor,
Ever hath condemn’d unheard.

“Never has the case been stated
Properly for the Defendant—
I entreat you, listen to me!
Set me right before the world!

“Purblind as the priests and prophets
Ev’n the Poets have traduced me,—
Ev’n the Poets, tho’ I love them,
And have taught them all they know!

“Marlowe, tho’ my favourite pupil,                                                     36
Painted me a very Monster,
Corybantic, cloven-footed,
Insolent and goggle-eyed.

“Milton’s Devil was a parson
Voluble and bellows-winded,
Like his garrulous God Almighty
Quite impossibly absurd.

“Calderon malign’d me also!
Painting in his assonantic
Magico Prodigioso
Only hideousness divine.

“All the others, down to Goethe,
Fed the foolish superstition—
Goethe, that superior person,
Blunder’d also, like his betters.

“Byron (tho’ I loved the fellow!
Tho’ I gave him wingëd arrows
To destroy the swinish virtues
In the pigsties of King George!)

“Byron could not paint me truly,—                                                      37
’Stead of gazing in the mirror,
Where he surely might have found me,
Fair of face though lame of foot,

“He proclaim’d a prosy Devil
Like the fiend of Bailey, mixing
Bad blank verse and metaphysics
In the same old-fashion’d style!

“Even Burns, my prince of singers,
Nature’s sky-lark render’d human,
Treated me with scornful pity,
Prayed that I might mend my ways!

“Never one has comprehended
My true nature and profession;
Every one of these, my chosen,
Sped the hideous libel on.

“I’m the kindest hearted creature
In this Universe of Sorrows!
My affection for you mortals
Is the cause of all my woes!

“Listen, then—for you’re a Poet,                                                       38
Equal in your own opinion
To the best of all those others,
Tho’ extremely little read;

“Men, be sure, will never make you
Laureate in a Christian Country,—
Nay, the office is abolish’d
Since no Christian Bard survives:

“Be the Laureate of the Devil!
Justify his ways to mortals!
State the case for the Defendant
Spite the Times and spite the gods!

“I have watch’d and waited for you
Since you sang that Yuletide Carol,
Picturing the Jew immortal
Wailing vainly for a Father!

“From the darkest depths of Sheol
I was marking and applauding. . . .
Having sung the only Jesus,
Go and sing the only Devil!

“Do it straightway! and for ever                                                         39
I’ll protect your reputation!
Long as I, the Devil, am reigning,
You shall honour’d be in Hell!”

Half in jest and half in earnest
Spake the Devil, smiling slyly,—
And I answer’d, “Sing your praises?
Devil take me if I do!”



“With your wish, sir, or without it,
He will take you soon or later!”
Said he laughing grimly;—“Wherefore
Do him, pray, this friendly turn!

“I’ve a case which, rightly stated,
Must procure me an acquittal:
Yes, the case for the Defendant
Will astonish God Himself!

“God’s my Judge, and cannot therefore
As a witness speak against me;
God the Judge must be—the Jury
Men of science and discretion.

“When they call the roll, you’ll challenge
All the slaves of superstition,—
Fashionable priests and poets,
And all military men;

“Thieves and publishers and critics                                                      41
Shall be warn’d from off the jury,—
Ev’n philosophers and pundits
Must be keenly scrutinized.

“Politicians, Whig and Tory,
Jewish, Christian, and Agnostic,
Must be challenged—they are liars
Both by practice and profession.

“Lastly, challenge all the prying
Members of the County Council—
Prurient things of all three sexes,
Loathing Liberty and Light.

“Well I know that I shall triumph,
Since against me, as chief witness,
That disreputable person,
Jesus Josephson, is summon’d.

“I shall prove that Witness surely
The supremest of impostors—
One whom no enlighten’d thinker
Can believe upon his oath!”

As he spake, his wrinkled features                                                     42
Shrivel’d up to hideous seeming,
And his eyes flash’d bright, flamboyant
With a fierce and baleful light.

“Devil!” cried I, “Prince of Devils!
Devil verily by nature,
Peace! Blaspheme not! He thou namest
Is a star above thy head!

“Man or god, or both united,
He, the beautiful Redeemer,
Far transcends in power and pity
All the draff of humankind.

“True or false, his Dream has gladden’d
Millions of created beings;
Man or god, his love hath vanquished
All things evil, even Death!”

As I spake, that troubled Spirit
Changed again—his gaze grew gentle—
From his face the anger faded,
And his eyes were dim with tears.

“Yea,” he said, “thou speakest truly!                                                  43
He thou nam’st was good and holy—
Pardon, pardon, Son of Sorrow,
Well belovéd, even by me!

“Even in thy worst delusions
Thou wast holy, thou wast loving,
Yea, thy heart was great and gracious,
Tho’ thine eyes were very blind.

“Yea, and thou, too, wast an outcast!
All thy goodly Dream is over!
He who rules thy realm, my Jesus,
Never wore thy crown of thorns!

“Not of thee, but of that other
Who usurps thine earthly kingdom,
Spake I; not of thee, my Jesus,
But of him they name the Christ.

“Yet . . . forgive me . . . of thine error
Was this evil monster fashion’d;
Blindly, gently, didst thou blunder,
Out of pure excess of Love.

“Thus, perchance, of all Souls living                                                    44
Least thy spirit comprehended
Him who sits beyond these vapours
Heedless of His own Creation.”

Pale he stood, like one invoking
Some benign and awful Spirit;
Then he sigh’d and softly smiling
Turn’d his wistful eyes on mine.

Long he spake, with accents human,
In his own self-exculpation;
Till at last I comprehended
Meanings that at first seem’d dark.

Then, while on his pallid features
Flamed the alien lights of Heaven,
“Come!” he cried. “Hell’s fires burn yonder!
Come and gaze upon my Kingdom!”

In a moment I was lifted
High in air, and wildly clinging
To the fringe of his dark raiment,
Wafted to the silent City.



The Devil’s Case continued

or back to The Devil’s Case - Contents








The Fleshly School Controversy
Buchanan and the Press
Buchanan and the Law


The Critical Response
Harriett Jay


Site Diary
Site Search