« AnteriorContinuar »
for the father, raised it upright, bade it of who die of grief in this island of ours. look erect as the king of all this world, I will tell you a common case. The rules and presented its forehead to the stars, of Eton require that a boy on the founsaying, perhaps, in his heart, “Behold dation should be there twelve years: (80 what is greater than yourselves!” This he is superannuated at eighteen, consesymbolic act represented the function of quently he must come at six. Children Levana. And that mysterious lady, who torn away from mothers and sisters at never revealed her face (except to me (30 that age not unfrequently die. I speak in dreams), but always acted by delega- of what I know. The complaint is not tion, had her name from the Latin verb entered by the registrar as grief; but (as still it is the Italian verb) levare, to that it is. Grief of that sort, and at that raise aloft.
age, has killed more than ever have been This is the explanation of Levana, counted amongst its martyrs. and hence it has arisen that some people Therefore it is that Levana often 100 have understood by Levana the tutelary communes with the powers that shake power that controls the education of the man's heart: therefore it is that she dotes nursery. She, that would not suffer at
upon grief. “These ladies," said I softly his birth even a prefigurative or mimic [40 to myself, on seeing the ministers with degradation for her awful ward, far less whom Levana was conversing, “these could be supposed to suffer the real are the Sorrows; and they are three in degradation attaching to the non-develop- number, as the Graces are three, who ment of his powers. She therefore watches dress man's life with beauty; the Parcae over human education. Now the word are three, who weave the dark arras of edůco, with the penultimate short, was man's life in their mysterious loom, (100 derived (by a process often exemplified always with colors sad in part, somein the crystallisation of languages) from times angry with tragic crimson and the world edūco, with the penultimate black; the Furies are three, who visit with long. Whatsoever educes, or develops, 150 retributions called from the other side
By the education of Levana, of the grave offences that walk upon this; therefore, is meant,-not the poor ma- and once even the Muses were but three, chinery that moves by spelling-books and who fit the harp, the trumpet, or the lute, grammars, but that mighty system of to the great burdens of man's impascentral forces hidden in the deep bosom sioned creations. These are the Sorrows, of human life, which by passion, by all three of whom I know." The last (110 strife, by temptation, by the energies of words I say now; but in Oxford I said, resistance, works for ever upon children, “One of whom I know, and the others too resting not day or night, any more than surely I shall know.” For already, in my the mighty wheel of day and night [60 fervent youth, I saw (dimly relieved upon themselves, whose moments, like restless the dark background of my dreams) spokes, are glimmering for ever as they the imperfect lineaments of the awful revolve.
sisters. These sisters—by what name If, then, these are the ministries by shall we call them? If I say simply, which Levana works, how profoundly “The Sorrows,” there will be a chance must she reverence the agencies of grief! of mistaking the term; it might be (120 But you, reader, think that children understood of individual sorrow, sepagenerally are not liable to grief such as rate cases of sorrow,-whereas I want a mine. There are two senses in the word term expressing the mighty abstractions generally,—the sense of Euclid, where (70 that incarnate themselves in all indiit means universally (or in the whole vidual sufferings of man's heart; and I extent of the genus), and a foolish sense wish to have these abstractions presented of this word, where it means usually. as impersonations, that is, as clothed Now, I am far from saying that children with human attributes of life, and with universally are capable of grief like mine. functions pointing to flesh. Let us call But there are more than you ever heard them, therefore, Our Ladies of Sorrow. (130
I know them thoroughly, and have Her eyes are sweet and subtle, wild and walked in all their kingdoms. Three sleepy, by turns; oftentimes rising to the sisters they are, of one mysterious house- clouds, oftentimes challenging the heav
hold; and their paths are wide apart; but ens. She wears a diadem round her head. 2
of their dominion there is no end. Them And I knew by childish memories that . I saw often conversing with Levana, and she could go abroad upon the winds, (190
sometimes about myself. Do they talk, when she heard the sobbing of litanies 1
then? Oh, no! Mighty phantoms like or the thundering of organs, and when these disdain the infirmities of language. she beheld the mustering of summer They may utter voices through the (140 clouds. This sister, the eldest, it is that organs of man when they dwell in hu- carries keys more than papal at her man hearts, but amongst themselves is no girdle, which open every cottage and voice nor sound; eternal silence reigns in every palace. She, to my knowledge, sat their kingdoms. They spoke not, as they all last summer by the bedside of the blind talked with Levana; they whispered not; beggar, him that so often and so gladly
they sang not; though oftentimes me- I talked with, whose pious daughter, (200 I thought they might have sung: for I upon eight years old, with the sunny coun
earth had heard their mysteries often- tenance, resisted the temptations of times deciphered by harp and timbrel, and village mirth to travel all day long by dulcimer and organ. Like God, (150 on dusty roads with her afflicted father. whose servants they are, they utter their For this did God send her a great reward. pleasure, not by sounds that perish, or In the spring-time of the year, and whilst by words that go astray, but by signs in yet her own spring was budding, He reheaven, by changes on earth, by pulses called her to himself. But her blind in secret rivers, heraldries painted on father mourns for ever over her; still he darkness, and hieroglyphics written on dreams at midnight that the little (210 the tablets of the brain. They wheeled guiding hand is locked within his own; in mazes; I spelled the steps. They and still he wakens to a darkness that is telegraphed from afar; I read the signals. now within a second and a deeper darkness. They conspired together; and on the [160 This Mater Lachrymarum also has been mirrors of darkness my eye traced the sitting all this winter of 1844-5 within plots. Theirs were the symbols; mine the bed-chamber of the Czar, bringing are the words.
before his eyes a daughter (not less pious) What is it the sisters are? What is it that vanished to God not less suddenly, that they do? Let me describe their and left behind her a darkness not less form, and their presence: if form it were profound. By the power of the (220 that still fluctuated in its outline, or keys it is that Our Lady of Tears glides presence it were that for ever advanced a ghostly intruder into the chambers of to the front, or for ever receded amongst sleepless men, sleepless women, sleepless shades.
(170 children, from Ganges to Nile, from Nile The eldest of the three is named Mater to Mississippi. And her, because she Lachrymarum, Our Lady of Tears. She is the first-born of her house, and has it is that night and day raves and the widest empire, let us honor with the moans, calling for vanished faces. She title of "Madonna!” stood in Rama, where a voice was heard The second sister is called Mater Susof lamentation, -Rachel weeping for her piriorum-Our Lady of Sighs. She (230 children, and refusing to be comforted. never scales the clouds, nor walks abroad She it was that stood in Bethlehem on upon the winds. She wears no diadem. the night when Herod's sword swept its And her eyes, if they were ever seen, nurseries of Innocents, and the little (180 would be neither sweet nor subtle; no feet were stiffened for ever, which, heard man could read their story; they would at times as they tottered along floors over- be found filled with perishing dreams, head, woke pulses of love in household and with wrecks of forgotten delirium. hearts that were not unmarked in heaven. But she raises not her eyes; her head, on which sits a dilapidated turban, droops | little. For her kingdom is chiefly amongst for ever, for ever fastens on the dust. (240 the tents of Shem, and the houseless She weeps not. She groans not. But she vagrant of every clime. Yet in the very sighs inaudibly at intervals. Her sister, highest ranks of man she finds chapels Madonna, is oftentimes stormy and fran- of her own; and even in glorious England tic, raging in the highest against heaven, there are some that, to the world, carry and demanding back her darlings. But their heads as proudly as the reindeer, Our Lady of Sighs never clamors, never who yet secretly have received her 1300 defies, dreams not of rebellious aspira- mark upon their foreheads. tions. She is humble to abjectness. Hers But the third sister, who is also the is the meekness that belongs to the hope- | youngest -! Hush, whisper whilst we less. Murmur she may, but it is in [250 talk of her! Her kingdom is not large, or her sleep. Whisper she may, but it is to else no flesh should live; but within that herself in the twilight. Mutter she does kingdom all power is hers. Her head, at times, but it is in solitary places that turreted like that of Cybele, rises almost are desolate as she is desolate, in ruined beyond the reach of sight. She droops cities, and when the sun has gone down to not; and her eyes rising so high might his rest. This sister is the visitor of the be hidden by distance; but, being what (310 Pariah, of the Jew, of the bondsman to the they are, they cannot be hidden; through oar in the Mediterranean galleys; and of the treble veil of crape which she wears
, the English criminal in Norfolk Island, the fierce light of a blazing misery, that blotted out from the books of remem- (260 rests not for matins or for vespers, for brance in sweet far-off England; of the noon of day or noon of night, for ebbing or baffled penitent reverting his eyes for for flowing tide, may be read from the ever upon a solitary grave, which to him very ground. She is the defier of God. seems the altar overthrown of some past She also is the mother of lunacies, and and bloody sacrifice, on which altar no the suggestress of suicides. Deep lie the oblations can now be availing, whether roots of her power; but narrow is the (320 towards pardon that he might implore, nation that she rules. For she can apor towards reparation that he might at- | proach only those in whom a profound tempt. Every slave that at noonday looks nature has been upheaved by central up to the tropical sun with timid re- (270 convulsions; in whom the heart trembles, proach, as he points with one hand to the and the brain rocks under conspiracies earth, our general mother, but for him a of tempest from without and tempest stepmother, -as he points with the other from within. Madonna
moves with hand to the Bible, our general teacher, uncertain steps, fast or slow, but still but against him sealed and sequestered; with tragic grace. Our Lady of Sighs every woman sitting in darkness, without creeps timidly and stealthily. But (330 love to shelter her head, or hope to illu- this youngest sister moves with incalmine her solitude, because the heaven- culable motions, bounding, and with born instincts kindling in her nature tiger's leaps. She carries no key; for, germs of holy affections which God [280 though coming rarely amongst men, she implanted in her womanly bosom, hav- storms all doors at which she is permitted ing been stifled by social necessities, now to enter at all. And her name is Mater burn sullenly to waste, like sepulchral Tenebrarum-Our Lady of Darkness. lamps amongst the ancients; every nun These were the Semnai Theai, or Subdefrauded of her unreturning May-time lime Goddesses, these were the Eumenides, by wicked kinsman, whom God will or Gracious Ladies (so called by an- (340 judge; every captive in every dungeon; tiquity in shuddering propitiation), of all that are betrayed and all that are my Oxford dreams.
Madonna spoke. rejected; outcasts by traditionary law, She spoke by her mysterious hand. and children of hereditary disgrace, - (290 Touching my head, she beckoned to all these walk with Our Lady of Sighs. Our Lady of Sighs; and what she spoke, She also carries a key; but she needs it | translated out of the signs which (ex
cept in dreams) no man reads, was said, "wicked sister, that temptest and this:
hatest, do thou take him from her. See “Lo! here is he, whom in childhood I that thy sceptre lie heavy on his head. dedicated to my altars. This is he (350 Suffer not woman and her tenderness to that once I made my darling. Him I led sit near him in his darkness. Banish the astray, him I beguiled, and from heaven frailties of hope, wither the relenting 1370 I stole away his young heart to mine. of love, scorch the fountains of tears, Through me did he become idolatrous; curse him as only thou canst curse. and through me it was, by languishing shall he be accomplished in the furnace, desires, that he worshipped the worm, so shall he see the things that ought not and prayed to the wormy grave. Holy to be seen, sights that are abominable, was the grave to him; lovely was its dark- and secrets that are unutterable. So shall ness; saintly its corruption. Him, this he read elder truths, sad truths, grand young idolater, I have seasoned for (360 truths, fearful truths. So shall he rise thee, dear gentle Sister of Sighs! Do thou again before he dies, and so shall our comtake him now to thy heart, and season mission be accomplished which from (380 him for our dreadful sister. And thou,”
we had, -to plague his heart until we turning to the Mater Tenebrarum, she had unfolded the capacities of his spirit.”
One year ago.
“Artemidora! Gods invisible,
One year ago my path was green, While thou art lying faint along the My footstep light, my brow serene; couch,
Alas! and could it have been so Have tied the sandal to thy slender feet
One year ago? And stand beside thee, ready to convey
There is a love that is to last Thy weary steps where other rivers flow. 5
When the hot days of youth are past:
Such love did a sweet maid bestow
One year ago. Artemidora sighed, and would have pressed
I took a leaflet from her braid The hand now pressing hers, but was too
And gave it to another maid. weak.
Love! broken should have been thy bow Iris stood over her dark hair unseen While thus Elpenor spake. He looked
into Eyes that had given light and life ere- TO ROBERT BROWNING
while To those above them, but now dim with There is delight in singing, though none tears
hear And wakefulness. Again he spake of joy 15 Beside the singer; and there is delight Eternal. At that word, that sad word, In praising, though the praiser sit alone joy,
And see the praised far off him, far above. Faithful and fond her bosom heaved once Shakespeare is not our poet, but the
5 Her head fell back; and now a loud deep Therefore on him no speech! and brief for sob
thee, Swelled through the darkened chamber; Browning! Since Chaucer was alive and 'twas not hers.