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Hummed like a hive all round the narrow quay,
To Francis, with a basket on his arm,
To Francis just alighted from the boat,
And breathing of the sea. “With all my heart.”
Said Francis. Then we shouldered through the
And rounded by the stillness of the beach
To where the bay runs up its latest horn.
We left the dying ebb that faintly lipped
The flat red granite ; so by many a sweep
Of meadow smooth from aftermath we reached
The griffin-guarded gates, and passed through all
The pillared dusk of sounding sycamores,
And crossed the garden to the gardener's lodge,
With all its casements bedded, and its walls
And chimneys muffled in the leafy vine.
There, on a slope of orchard, Francis laid
A damask napkin wrought with horse and hound,
Brought out a dusky loaf that smelt of home,
And, half-cut-down, a pasty costly-made,
Where quail and pigeon, lark and leveret lay,
Like fossils of the rock, with golden yolks
Imbedded and injellied; last, with these,
A flask of cider from his father's vats,
Prime, which I knew ; and so we sat and eat
And talked old matters over: who was dead,
Who married, who was like to be, and how
The races went, and who would rent the hall :
Then touched upon the game, how scarce it was
This season: glancing thence, discussed the farm,
The fourfield system and the price of grain;
And struck upon the corn-laws, where we split,
And came again together on the king
With heated faces; till he laughed aloud;
And, while the blackbird on the pippin hung
To hear him, clapt his hand in mine and sang—
“O ! who would fight and march and counter-
Be shot for sixpence in a battle-field,
VOL. I. 10 -
And shovelled up into a bloody trench
Where no one knows? but let me live my life.
“O ! who would cast and balance at a desk,
Perched like a crow upon a three-legged stool,
Till all his juice is dried, and all his joints
Are full of chalk” but let me live my life.
“Who’d serve the state 2 for if I carved my name
Upon the cliffs that guard my native land,
I might as well have traced it in the sands;
The sea wastes all: but let me live my life.
“O ! who would love 2 I wooed a woman once,
But she was sharper than an eastern wind,
And all my heart turned from her, as a thorn
Turns from the sea; but let me live my life.”
He sang his song, and I replied with mine:
I found it in a volume, all of songs,
Knocked down to me, when old Sir Robert's pride,
His books—the more the pity, so I said—
Came to the hammer here in March—and this—
I set the words, and added names I knew.
“Sleep, Ellen Aubrey, sleep, and dream of me:
Sleep, Ellen, folded in thy sister's arm,
And sleeping, haply dream her arm is mine.
“Sleep, Ellen, folded in Emilia's arm ;
Emilia, fairer than all else but thou,
For thou art fairer than all else that is.
“Sleep, breathing health and peace upon her
Sleep, breathing love and trust against her lip :
I go to-night: I come to-morrow morn.
“I go, but I return: I would I were
The pilot of the darkness and the dream.
Sleep, Ellen Aubrey, love, and dream of me.”
So sang we each to either, Francis Hale,
The farmer's son who lived across the bay,
My friend; and I, that having wherewithal,
And in the fallow leisure of my life
A rolling stone of here and everywhere,
Did what I would; but ere the night we rose
And sauntered home beneath a moon, that, just
In crescent, dimly rained about the leaf
Twilights of airy silver, till we reached
The limit of the hills; and as we sank
From rock to rock upon the glooming quay,
The town was hushed beneath us: lower down
The bay was oily calm ; the harbor-buoy
With one green sparkle ever and anon
Dipt by itself, and we were glad at heart.
W A. L. KIN G T O T H E M AIL.
John. I’M glad I walked. How fresh the meadows look Above the river, and, but a month ago, The whole hill-side was redder than a fox. Is yon plantation where this by-way joins The turnpike 2 James. Yes. John. And when does this come by ? James. The mail At one o'clock. John. What is it now 2 James. A quarter to. 4. John. Whose house is that I see Beyond the watermills? James. Sir Edward Head's: But he's abroad: the place is to be sold. John. O, his. He was not broken. James. No sir, he, Vexed with a morbid devil in his blood That veiled the world with jaundice, hid his face From all men, and commercing with himself, He lost the sense that handles daily life— That keeps us all in order more or less— And sick of home, went overseas for change. John. And whither ? James. Nay, who knows 2 he's here and there.
But let him go ; his devil goes with him,
As well as with his tenant, Jocky Dawes.
John. What’s that 2
James. You saw the man—on Monday, was it?
There by the humpbacked willow; half stands up
And bristles; half has fallen and made a bridge;
And there he caught the younker tickling trout——
Caught in flagrante—what's the Latin word 2–
Delicto: but his house, for so they say,
Was haunted with a jolly ghost, that shook
The curtains, whined in lobbies, tapt at doors,
And rummaged like a rat : no servant stayed :
The farmer vext packs up his beds and chairs,
And all his household stuff; and with his boy
Betwixt his knees, his wife upon the tilt,
Sets out, and meets a friend who hails him, “What
You're flitting!” “Yes, we’re flitting,” says the ghost,
(For they had packed the thing among the beds.)
“O well,” says he, “you slitting with us too—
Jack, turn the horses’ heads and home again.”
John. He left his wife behind ; for so I heard.
James. He left her, yes. I met my lady once :
A woman like a butt, and harsh as crabs.
John. O yet but I remember, ten years back—
'Tis now at least ten years—and then she was—
You could not light upon a sweeter thing:
A body slight and round, and like a pear
In growing, modest eyes, a hand, a foot
Lessening in perfect cadence, and a skin
As clean and white as privet when it flowers.
James. Ay, ay, the blossom fades, and they that
At first like dove and dove were cat and dog.
She was the daughter of a cottager,
Out of her sphere. What betwixt shame and pride.
New things and old, himself and her, she soured
To what she is: a nature never kind
Like men, like manners: like breeds like, they say.
Kind nature is the best : those manners next
That fit us like a nature second-hand ;
Which are indeed the manners of the great.
John. But I had heard it was this bill that past, And fear of change at home, that drove him hence,
James. That was the last drop in the cup of gall, I once was near him when his bailiff brought A Chartist pike. You should have seen him wince As from a venomous thing: he thought himself A mark for all, and shuddered, lest a cry Should break his sleep by night, and his nice eyes Should see the raw mechanic's bloody thumbs Sweat on his blazoned chairs; but, sir, you know That these two parties still divide the world— Of those that want, and those that have : and still The same old sore breaks out from age to age With much the same result. Now I myself, A Tory to the quick, was as a boy Destructive, when I had not what I would. I was at school—a college in the South : There lived a flayflint near; we stole his fruit, His hens, his eggs; but there was law for us; We paid in person. He had a sow, sir. She, With meditative grunts of much content, Lay great with pig, wallowing in sun and mud. By night we dragged her to the college tower From her warm bed, and up the corkscrew stair With hand and rope we haled the groaning sow, And on the leads we kept her till she pigged. Large range of prospect had the mother sow, And but for daily loss of one she loved, As one by one we took them—but for this— As never sow was higher in this world— Might have been happy: but what lot is pure ? We took them all, till she was left alone Upon her tower, the Niobe of swine, And so returned unfarrowed to her sty.
John. They found you out 2
James. Not they.
John. Well—after all—
What know we of the secret of a man 2