NAPOLEON III. OF FRANCE.
AN OFFICER OF THE IMPERIAL STAFF.
A ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP.
FIRST GERMAN CITIZEN.
SECOND GERMAN CITIZEN.
GERMAN CITIZEN’S WIFE.
CHORUS OF REPUBLICANS.
CHORUS OF SPIRITS.
SCENE—The Château of Wilhelmshöhe, in Cassel.
TIME—1870, shortly after the surrender of Sedan.
*** There are certain obvious anachronisms in time. That the news of the fall of Rome and the proclamation of the French republic, only reaches Wilhelmshöhe about the same time as the news of the environment of Paris, is a dramatic expedient, necessary to the action of the drama, which begins at sunset and ends late the same night.
Scene—THE CHÂTEAU OF WILHELMSHÖHE, IN CASSEL.
German Citizens walking in the Gardens without.
HOW fine it is to lounge in talk
Together, down this long green walk:
While russet trees to left and right
Snaring the rosy shafts of light
Shade them to silver, till they glow
There on the roof of the château
Gleaming bright ruby!
Not too near—
The place is private.
Didst thou hear
The news? Another glorious blow
To-night at five
I saw the courier arrive,
Bringing the news to him who waits
Yonder.—O he may thank the fates
He sits so snug, the man of sin!—
How cunningly, before the end, 3
The Snake contrived to save his skin!
Thou art too hard upon him, friend.
He saw that all his cards were played,
And so, to save more bloodshed, strayed
Into the cage.
A cage, indeed!
Where from a gold plate he may feed
Of all earth’s dainties, while afar
France, ’neath the tramping feet of War,
Bleeds like a winepress. There he lolls,
Butcher of bodies and of souls,
Smiling, and sees the storm blow by!
What could he do?
Could he not die?
Die? Sentiment! If I were he
I’d bless the stars which set me free
From that foul-hearted Whore’s embrace,
France, with her fickle painted face.
Better in Germany to dine,
Smoke one’s cigar, and sip one’s wine;
And in good time, like most, no doubt,
Who have worn their wicked members out,
Repent, and be absolved, and then
Die in one’s bed, like smaller men!
FIRST CITIZEN’S WIFE.
Dost thou think that he
Why not? . . Possibly,
My dear, ’tis something after all
To know the worst that can befall;
To know, whatever joy or sorrow
Fate is preparing for the morrow,
It cannot make more dark the lot
One bears to-night. Happy! Why not?
Happy as most of our poor kind.
He has so much upon his mind! [l.i]
A woman’s thought;—but hark to me,
And take this for philosophy—
Beyond a given amount of pain,
The spirit suffers not a grain.
What stuff we humble folk are taught
Of monarchs and their weight of thought!
Why, thou and I, and Jack and Jill,
Feel just as much of good and ill,
Of life and strife, of thought and care,
As he who sitteth musing there!
I saw him walking, yesterday.
He is much aged of late, they say—
He stoops much, and his features are 7
Gray like the ash of the cigar [l.ii]
He smokes for ever.
FIRST CITIZEN (to WIFE).
Come, my dear,
Let’s home! ’Tis growing chilly here;
So!—take my arm. Yes, I contend
It matters little in the end
If one be beggar, priest, or king—
The whip’s for all—the pang, the sting!
Dost thou remember—canst forget?
When all our goods were seized for debt,
In Friedberg? Claim was heap’d on claim—
Blow came on blow—shame follow’d shame,
And last, to crown our dire distress,
Thy brother Hans’ hard-heartedness.
Think you I felt a whit less sad,
Less thunderstruck, less fierce, less mad,
Than yonder melancholy Man, 8
When, through the dark cloud of Sedan,
He, as a star that shoots by night,
Swept from his sphere of lonely light,
And at the feet of Wilhelm lay
Glow-worm-like, in the garish day
Of conquest? Well, well! wait and see—
I rose again, and so may he.
The world is but a play, tho’ ye
Dear creatures take it seriously:
I cannot pity from my heart
The player of the Monarch’s part,
For at the worst he never knows
The famish’d Body’s bitter throes.
I pity more with all my soul
The filler of the Soldier’s rôle,
Who feels the ball, and with a groan
Sinks in the bloody ranks unknown,
And while the far-off cannon cries, 9
Kisses his sweetheart’s hair, and dies! [Exeunt.
Enter, within the Château, NAPOLEON and a PHYSICIAN.
The sickness is no sickness of the flesh,
No ailment such as common mortals feel,
But spiritual; ’tis thy fiery thought
Drying the wholesome humour of the veins,
Consuming the brain’s substance, and from thence,
As flame spreads, thro’ each muscle, vein, and nerve,
Reaching the vital members. If your Highness
Could stoop from the tense strain of great affairs 10
To books and music, or such idle things
As wing the weary hours for lesser men!
Turn not thine eyes to France; receive no news;
Shut out the blinding gleam of battle; rest
From all fierce ache of thought; and for a time
Let the wild world go by.
Enough, old friend:
Thine is most wholesome counsel. I will seek
To make this feverish mass of nerve and thew,
This thing of fretful heart-beats,
Fulfil its functions more mechanically. 11
Farewell, Sire. Brighter waking thoughts,
And sweeter dreams, attend thee! [Exit.
All things change
Their summer livery for the autumn tinge
Of wind-blown withering leaves. That man is faithful,—
I have eat my life from his cold palm for years, [l.viii]
And I believe, so strong do use and wont [l.ix]
Fetter such natures, he would die to serve me;
Yet do I see in his familiar eyes 12
The fatal pain of pity. I have lain
At death’s door divers times, and he hath slowly,
With subtle cunning and most confident skill,
Wooed back my breath, but never even then,
Tho’ God’s hand held me down, did he regard me
With so intense a gaze as now, when smitten
By the mail’d hand of man. I am not dead!
Not dying! only sick,—as all are sick
Who feel the mortal prison-house too weak
For the free play of Soul! I eat and drink—
I laugh—I weep, perchance—I feel—I think—
I still preserve all functions of a man—
Yet doth the free wind of the fickle world
Blow on me with as chilly a respect
As on a nameless grave. Is there so sad
A sunset on my face, that all beholding 13
Think only of the morrow?—other minds,
Other hearts, other hands? Almighty God,
If I dare pray Thee by that name of God,
Strengthen me! blow upon me with Thy breath!
Let one last memorable flash of fire
Burst from the blackening brand!—
Sick of the world; sick of the fitful fools
That I have played with; sick, forsooth, of breath,
Of thought, of hope, of Time. I staked my Soul
Against a Crown, and won. I wore the Crown,
And ’twas of burning fire. I staked my Crown
Against a Continent, and lost. I am here; 14
Fallen, unking’d, the shadow of a power,
Yet not heart-broken—no, not heart-broken—
But surely with more equable a pulse
Than when I sat on yonder lonely Seat
Fishing for wretched souls, and for my sport,
Although the bait was glorious gifts of earth, [l.vii]
Hooking the basest only. I am nearer
To the world’s heart than then; ’tis bitter bread,
Most bitter, yea, most bitter; yet I eat
More freely, and sleep safer. I could die now:
And yet I dare not die.
Maker of men!
Thou Wind before whose strange breath we are clouds
Driving and changing!—Thou who dost abide
While all the crowns on all the heads of kings 15 [l.i]
Wither as wreaths of snow!—Thou Voice that dwellest
In the high sleeping chambers of the great,
When council and the feverish pomp are hush’d,
And the dim lamp burns low, and at its side
The sleeping potion in a cup of gold:—
Hear me, O God, in this my travail hour!
From first to last, Thou knowest—yea, Thou knowest—
I have been a man of peace: a silent man,
Thought-loving, most ambitious to appease
Self-chiding fears of mental littleness,
A builder in the dark of temples fair [l.xii]
Where men might meet together not for praise, [l.xiii]
A planner of delights for simple men— [l.xiv]
In all, a man of peace. I struck one blow, 16
And saw my hands were bloody; from that hour
I knew myself too delicately wrought
For crimson pageants; yea, the sight of pain
Sicken’d me like a woman. Day and night
I felt that stain on my immortal soul,
And gloved it from the world, and diligently
Wrought the red sword of empire to a scythe
For the swart hands of husbandmen to reap
Abundant harvest.—Nay, but hear me swear,
I never dreamed such human harvests blest
As spring from that red rain which pours this day
On the fair fields I sowed. Never, O God,
Was I a warrior or a thing of blood; [l.xiv]
Always a man of peace:—in mine ambition
Peace-seeking, peace-engendering;—till that day
I saw the half-unloosen’d hounds of War 17
Yelp on the chain and gnash their bloody teeth,
Ready to rend mine unoffending Child,
In whose weak hand the mimic toy of empire
Trembled to fall. Then feverishly I wrought
A weapon in the dark to smite those hounds
From mine imperial seat; and as I wrought
One of the fiends that came of old to Cain
Found me, and since I thirsted gave to me
A philtre, and in idiocy I drank:
When suddenly I heard as in a dream
Trumpets around me silver-tongued, and saw
The many-colour’d banners gleam i’ the sun
Above the crying legions, and I rode
Royal before them, drunk with light and power,
My boy beside me blooming like a rose
To see the glorious show. Yet God, my God, 18
Even then I swear the hideous lust of life
Was far from me and mine; nay, I rode forth,
As to a gay review at break of day,
A student dazzled with the golden glare,
Half conscious of the cries of those he ruled,
Half brooding o’er the book that he had left
Open within his chamber. “Blood may flow,”
I thought, “a little blood—a few poor drops,—
A few poor drops of blood: but they shall prove
Pearls of great price to buy my people peace;
The hounds of War shall turn from our fair fields,
The cannon shall become a trump of praise, [l.xiii]
And on my son a robe like this I wear
Shall fall, and make him royal for all time!”
O fool, fool, fool! What was I but a child,
Pleased beyond understanding with a toy,
Till in mine ears the scream of murther’d France 19
Rang like a knell. I had slain my best beloved!
The curse of blood was on mine hands again!
My gentle boy, with wild affrighted gaze,
Turn’d from his sire, and moaned; the hounds of War
Scream’d round me, glaring with their pitiless eyes
Innumerable as the eyes of heaven;
I felt the sob of the world’s woe; I saw
The fiery rain fill all the innocent air;
And, feeble as a maid who hides her face
In terror at a sword flash, conscience-struck,
Sick, stupefied, appalled, and all alone,
I totter’d, grasped the empty air,—and fell!
Ah woe! ah woe! [note]
How art thou fallen, Man of Mysteries!
Is this the face, are these the subtle eyes,
Kings sought in vain to fathom, and to know?
O Man of Mysteries,
O thou whom men deem’d wise,
Call not on God this day—His hand hath struck thee low.
Call not on God, but listen.
Yea, with thy soul’s ears, listen ! The earth groans,
The thunder roars, swords flash, blue lightnings glisten! 21
Hark! those are human moans!
List! the sharp rattle of the fiery hail,
The splashing rain of blood! Dost thou turn pale?
Who wrought this? who atones?
What, thou the people’s Shepherd? Look, and see:
Thy fields are darken’d with a blood-black pall;
Thy farms are ruinous; in the granary,
Where golden wheat should be,
The wounded lambs are gather’d as they fall.
O Man of Mysteries,
Hearken unto their cries;—
Call not on God this day—’tis now too late to call.
Yet, if thou darest, pray. Thou canst not tell
How prayer may bring thee gain;—
And with thy prayer say thou these words as well:—
“Soon falls the house mark’d with the cross of Cain!”
O man, with secret hands thou didst prepare
A Pleasure-house most rare,
A beauteous Temple magically built,
So that thy people gladden’d unaware
And wandering therein forgot thy guilt,
And drank the amorous ditties woven there
To lutes of lechers and their lemans fair;
And all glad things were welcome in thy sight
Save the glad air of heaven; all things bright
Save the bright light of day; and all things sweet 23
Save country-featured Truth and Honesty:
All these thou didst abolish from thy Seat,
Because these things were free.
Thou call on God this day—
Thou call to the Most High—
Who asked Hell’s blessing then, and let God’s gifts go by!
Pray yet, and heark. This Temple where thy name
Was fluted forth by silver choirs of Fame,
This Pleasure-house of nations, this abode
Of strange enchantments, in due time became
An outrage and a shame.
Abominable in the eyes of God;
For all the beauteous things within the place 24
Were witchcraft: all its glory was a lie;
Not one true angel but perceived it base—
There was no gift of grace
But such as bawds may sell and gold can buy;
Nay, even Art and Music, each with face
Averted, passed in tears. Thereon a cry
Went up against thy marvellous work and thee
From the throats of all things free.
And o’er thy fields the desolating horde
Like to a swarm of locusts rose and spread!
The lightning of the Lord
Struck at thy glorious Temple, and it fled
Like vapour before sunlight! The green sod
Is bloody where it stood and fair feet trod. 25
Fallen with thee it lies,
And it shall ne’er arise.
How should God bless thy work? Thou did’st not build to God.
Enter a BISHOP.
Speak out thy tidings quickly,
How fares it with the Empress and my son?
Well, Sire. They bid thee look thy fate in the face,
And be of cheer.
Where didst thou part with them?
In England, Sire, where they have found a home
Among the frozen-blooded islanders
Who yesterday called blessings on thy brow,
And now rejoice in thy calamity.
Thus much thy mighty lady bade me say,
If I should find thee private in thy woe:—
With thy great name the streets are garrulous;
Mart, theatre, and church, palace and prison,
Down to the very commons by the road
Where Egypt’s bastard children pitch their tents,
Murmur “Napoleon;” but, alas! the sound
Is as an echo that with no refrain, [l.xii]
No loving echo in a living voice,
Dies a cold death among the mountain snow.
Old man, I never looked for friendship there,
I never loved that England in my heart;
Tho’ ’twas by such a sampler I believed
To weave our France’s fortunes thriftily
With the gold tissues of prosperity.
Ah, Sire, if I dare speak—
Thine eyes to that cold isle of heretics
Turn’d from thy throne for use and precedent; 28
Too little did they look, and that too late,
On that strong rock whereon the Lord thy God
Hath built His Holy Church.
Something of this
I have heard in happier seasons.
Hear it now
In the dark day of thine adversity.
O Sire, by him who holds the blessed Keys,
Christ’s Vicar on the earth for blinded men,
I do conjure thee, hearken—with my mouth,
Tho’ I am weak and low, the Holy Church
Cries to her erring son!
Well, well, he hears.
Thou smilest, Sire. With such a smile, so grim,
So bitter, didst thou mock our blessed cause
In thy prosperity.
False, Bishop, false!
I made a bloody circle with my sword
Round the old Father’s head, and so secured him
Safe on his tottering Seat against the world,
When all the world cried that his time was come.
What then? He totter’d on. I could not prop 30
His Seat up with my sword, that Seat being built,
Not on a rock, but sand.
The world is sick
And old indeed, when lips like thine blaspheme.
Whisper such words out on the common air,
And, as a child,
Blow thy last hopes away.
Hopes, hopes! What hopes?
What knowest thou of hopes?
Thy throne was rear’d
(Nay hear me, Sire, in patience to the end)
Not on the vulgar, unsubstantial air
Which men call Freedom, not on half consent
Of unbelievers—tho’, alas! thou hast stoop’d
To smile on unbelievers—not on lives
That saw in thee one of the good and wise,
Not wholly on the watchword of thy name;
But first on this—the swords thy gold could buy,
And most and last, upon the help of those
Who to remotest corners of our land
Watch o’er the souls of men, sit at their hearths,
Lend their solemnity to birth and death,
Guide as they list the motions of the mind,
And as they list with darkness or with light
Appease the spiritual hunger. Where 32
Had France been, and thou, boasted Sun of France,
For nineteen harvests, save for those who crept
Thine agents into every cottage door,
Slowly distilling thro’ each vein of France [l.v]
The vital blood of empire? Like to slaves [l.vi]
These served thee, used thy glory for a charm,
Hung up thine image in the peasant’s room [l.viii]
Beside our blessed saints, and cunningly,
As shepherds drive their sheep unto the fold,
Gather’d thy crying people where thy hand
Might choose them out for very butchery.
Nay, more; as fearful men may stamp out fire,
They in the spirits of thy people killed
The sparks of peril left from those dark days,
When France, being drunk with blood and mad with pain, 33
Sprang on the burning pyre, and all her raiment [l.ii]
Burning and streaming crimson in the wind,
Curst and denied her God. They made men see,
Yea in the very name of Liberty,
A net of Satan’s set to snare the soul
From Christ and Christ’s salvation: in their palms
They welded the soft clay of popular thought
To this wish’d semblance yet more cunningly;
Till not a peasant heir of his own fields,
And not a citizen that own’d a house,
And not a man or woman who had saved,
But when some wild voice shriek’d out “Liberty!”
Trembled as if the robber’s foot were set
Already on his threshold, and in fear
Clutch’d at his little store. These things did they, 34
Christ’s servants serving thee; they were as veins
Of iron binding France to thee, its heart, [l.iii]
Throbbing full glorious in the capital.
And thou, O Sire, in thine own secret mind
Knowest what meed thou hast accorded them,
Who, thy sworn liegemen in thy triumph-hour,
Are still thy props in thy calamity.
Well; have you done?
This day on Europe, look upon the World,
Which like a dark tree o’er the river of Time,
Hangeth with fruit of races, goodly some,
Some rotten to the core. Out of the heart
Of what had seem’d the sunset of the west,
Rises the Teuton, silent, subtle, and sure,
Gathering his venom slowly like a snake
Wrapping the sleepy lands in fold by fold;
Then springing up to stab his prey with fangs
Numerous as spears of wheat in harvest time.
O, he is wise, the Teuton, he is deep
As Satan’s self in perilous human lore,
Such as the purblind deem philosophy! 36
But, be he cunning as the tempter was,
Christ yet shall bruise his head; for in himself
He bears, as serpents use,
A brood of lesser snakes, cunning things too,
But lesser, and of these many prepare
Such peril as in his most glorious hour
May strike him feebler than the wretched worms
That crawl this day on the dead lambs of France.
Meantime, he to his purpose moveth slow, [l.x]
And overcomes. Note how, upon her rock,
The sea-beast Albion, swollen with idle years
Of basking in the prosperous sunshine, rolls
Her fearful eyes, and murmurs. See how wildly
The merciless Russian paceth like a bear
His lonely steppes of snow, and with deep moan 37
Calling his hideous young, casts famished eyes
On that worn Paralytic in the East
Whom thou of old didst save. Call thou to these
For succour; shall they stir? Will the sea-beast
Budge from her rock? Will the bear leave his wilds?
Then mark how feebly in the wintry cold
Old Austria ruffles up her plumage, Sire,
Covering the half-heal’d wound upon her neck;
See how on Spain her home-bred vermin feed,
As did the worms on Herod; Italy
Is as a dove-cote by a battle-field,
Abandoned to the kites of infamy;
Belgium, Denmark, and Helvetia,
Like plovers watching while the wind-hover 38
Strikes down one of their miserable kind,
Wheeling upon the wind, cry to each other;
And far away the Eagle of the West,
Poised in the lull of her own hurricane,
Sits watching thee with eyes as blank of love
As those grey seas that break beneath her feet.
This is cold comfort, yet I am patient. Well?
To the issue! Dost thou keep behind the salve
Whose touch shall heal my wounds? or dost thou only,
As any raven on occasion can,
Croak out the stale truth, that the day is lost,
And that the world’s slaves knee the conqueror?
Look not on these, thy crownéd peers, for aid,
But inward. Read thy heart.
It is a book
I have studied somewhat deeply.
In thine heart,
Tho’ the cold lips might sneer, the dark brow frown,
Wert thou not ever one believing God?
I have believed, and do believe, in God.
For that, give thanks to God. He shall uplift thee.
By the secret hands of His great Church.
Even now in darkness and in scenes remote [l.iv]
They labour in thy service; one by one
They gather up the fallen reins of power
And keep them for thy grasp; so be thou sure,
When thou hast gather’d round about thy soul [l.viii]
The Robe of Holiness, and from the hands
Of Holy Church demandest thy lost throne,
It shall be hers to give thee.
In good truth,
I scarce conceive thee. What, degenerate Rome,
With scarce the power in this strong wind of war
To hold her ragged gauds about her limbs;
Rome, reft of the deep thunder in her voice,
The dark curse in her eye; Rome, old, dumb, blind,—
Shall Rome give Kingdoms?—Why, she hath already
Transferred her own to Heaven.
Canst thou follow
The coming and the going of the wind,
Fathom the dark abysses of the sea? [l.xi]
For such as these, is Rome:—the voice of God 42
Sounding in darkness and a silent place;
The morning dew scarce seen upon the flowers,
Yet drawn to heaven and grown the thunder-bolt
That strikes a King at noon. When man’s wild soul [l.v]
Clutches no more at the white feet of Christ;
When death is not, nor spiritual disease;
When atheists can on the dark mountain tops [l.viii]
Walk solitary in the light of stars,
And cry, “God is not;” when no mothers kneel
Moaning on graves of children; when no flashes
Trouble the melancholy dark of dream;
When prayer is hush’d, when the Wise Book is shut—
Then Rome shall fall indeed: meantime she is based 43
Invulnerable on the soul of man,
Its darkest needs and fears; she doth dispense
What soon or late is better prized than gold,—
Comfort and intercession; for all sin
She hath the swiftest shrift, wherefore her clients
Are those that have sinned deeply, and of such
Is half the dreadful world; all these she holds
By that cold eyeball which has read their souls,
So that they look upon her secretly
And tremble,—while in her dark book of Fate
E’en now she dooms the Teuton.
The Greek quotations on page ix, are taken from Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. The following translation is by Ian Johnston:
I do not believe
what you did to yourself is for the best.
Better to be dead than alive and blind.
Don’t try to keep control of everything.
You have lost the power your life once had.
Alterations in the 1884 edition of The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Napoleon Fallen was revised for inclusion in The Drama of Kings. In January, 1874 The Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan was published by Henry S. King and the third volume contained a revision of Napoleon Fallen under the title, ‘The Fool of Destiny’ in the section, ‘Political Mystics’. This revised version was then reprinted by Chatto & Windus in The Poetical Works of 1884 and 1901.
Title changed to ‘THE FOOL OF DESTINY. A CHORIC DRAMA.’
Page 6, l. i: He hath so much upon his mind!
Page 7, l. ii: Gray as the ash of the cigar
Page 11, l. viii: I have been fed from his cold palm for years,
Page 11, l. ix: And I believe, so strongly use and wont
Page 14, l. vii: Although the bait was dainty to the taste,
Page 15, l. i: While all the laurels on the brows of Kings
Page 15, l.xii omitted.
Page 15, l.xiii omitted.
Page 15, l. xiv: A planner of delights for foolish men—
Page 16, l. xiv: Was I a butcher or a thing of blood;
Page 18, l. xiii omitted.
Page 20: The Chorus section differs greatly from that in the first edition, so the revision is given here in full:
CHORUS OF SPIRITS.
Vast Sea of Life that, ’neath the arc
Of yonder glistening sky,
Rollest thy waters deep and dark,
While windy years blow by:
On thy pale shore this night we stand,
And hear thy wash upon the sand.
Calm is thy sheet and wanly bright,
Low is thy voice and deep;
There is no child on earth this night
Wrapt in a gentler sleep;
Crouch’d like a hound thou liest now,
With eye upcast and dreadful brow.
O Sea, thy breast is deep and blest
After a dreadful day;
And yet thou listenest in thy rest
For some sign far away;
Watching with fascinated eyes
The uplifted Finger in the skies!
A hundred years thy still tides go
And touch the self-same mark—
Thus far, no farther, may they flow
And fall in light and dark;
The mystic water-line is drawn
By moonlit night and glimmering dawn.
Sure as a heart-beat year by year,
Though winds and thunders call,
Be it storm or calm, the tides appear,
Touch the long line and fall,
Liquid and luminously dim;
And men build dwellings on their brim.
O well may this man wring his hands,
And utter a wild prayer.
He built above thy lonely sands
A Feast-house passing fair;
It rose above thy sands, O Sea,
In a fair nook of greenery.
For he had watched thee many days,
And mark’d thy weedy line,
And far above the same did raise
His Temple undivine.
Throng’d with fair shapes of sin and guilt
It rose most magically built.
Not to the one eternal Light,
Lamp of both quick and dead,
Did he uprear it in thy sight,
But with a smile he said:
‘To the unvarying laws of Fate,
This Temple fair I dedicate.
‘To that sure law by which the Sea
Is driven to come and go
Within one mystic boundary,
And can no further flow;
So that who knoweth destiny
May safely build, nor fear the Sea!’
O fool! O miserable clod!
O creature made to die!
Who thought to mark the might of God
And mete it with his eye;
Who measured God’s mysterious ways
By laws of common nights and days.
O worm, that sought to pass God by,
Nor feared that God’s revenge:
The law within the law, whereby
All things work on to change;
Who guessed not how the still law’s course
Accumulates superfluous force;—
How for long intervals and vast
Strange secrets hide from day,
Till Nature’s womb upheaves to cast
The gather’d load away;
How deep the very laws of life
Deposit elements of strife.
O many a year in sun and shower
The quiet waters creep!—
But suddenly on some dark hour
Strange trouble shakes the deep:
Silent and monstrous thro’ the gloom
Rises the Tidal Wave for doom.
Then woe for all who, like this Man,
Have built so near the Sea,
For what avails the human plan
When the new force flows free?
Over their bonds the waters stream,
And Empires crash and despots scream.
O, is it earthquake far below
Where the still forces sleep?
Doth the volcano shriek and glow,
Unseen beneath the deep?
We know not; suddenly as death
Comes the great Wave with fatal breath.
God works His ends for ever thus,
And lets the great plan roll.
He wrought all things miraculous,
The Sea, the Earth, the Soul;
And nature from dark springs doth draw
Her fatal miracles of law.
O well may this Man wring his hands,
And utter a wild prayer;
He built above the shifting sands
A Feast-house passing fair.
Long years it stood, a thing of shame:
At last the mighty moment came.
Crashing like grass into its grave,
Fell down the fair abode;
The despot struggled in the wave,
And swimming screamed to God.
And lo, the waters with deep roar
Cast the black weed upon the shore.
Then with no warning, as they rose,
Shrunk back to their old bounds:
Tho’ still with deep volcanic throes
And sad mysterious sounds
They quake. The Man upon their brim
Sees wreck of Empire washed to him.
Vast Sea of life, that ’neath the arc
Of yonder glistening sky,
Spreadest thy waters strange and dark
While windy years blow by,
Creep closer, kiss his feet, O Sea,
Poor baffled worm of Destiny!
Fain would he read with those dull eyes
What never man hath known,
The secret that within thee lies
Seen by God’s sight alone;
Thou watchest Heaven all hours; but he,
Praying to Heaven, watches thee.
So will he watch with weary breath,
Musing beside the deep,
Till on thy shore he sinks in death,
And thy still tides upcreep,
Raise him with cold forgiving kiss,
And wash his dust to the Abyss.
Page 26, l. xii: Is an echo that with no refrain,
Page 32, l. v: Slowly diffusing thro’ each vein of France
Page 32, l. vi: The sleepy wine of empire? Like to slaves
Page 32, l. viii: Hung up thine image in a peasant’s room,
Page 33, l. ii: Sprang on the burning pyre, and with her raiment
Page 34, l. iii: Bearing the blood through France from thee its heart
Page 36, l. x: Meantime, he to his purpose moves most slow,
Page 40, l. iv: Even now in darkness and on tilths remote
Page 40, l. viii: When thou hast woven round about thy soul
Page 41, l. xi: Fathom the green abysses of the sea?
Page 42, l. v: That shakes the earth at noon. When man’s wild soul
Page 42, l. viii: When atheists can on the black mountain tops ]
Napoleon Fallen continued