SIR EUSTACE GREY.
"Veris miscens falsa. " —
Seneca, in Herc. furente.
SCENE — A MAD-HOUSE. PERSONS. — VISITOR, PHYSICIAN, AND PATIENT.
1 I'll know no more; — the heart is torn
2 By views of wo, we cannot heal;
3 Long shall I see these things forlorn,
4 And oft again their griefs shall feel,
5 As each upon the mind shall steal;
6 That wan projector's mystic style,
7 That lumpish idiot leering by,
8 That peevish idler's ceaseless wile,
9 And that poor maiden's half-form'd smile,
10 While struggling for the full-drawn sigh! —
11 I'll know no more.
11 — Yes, turn again;
12 Then speed to happier scenes thy way,
13 When thou hast view'd, what yet remain,
14 The ruins of Sir Eustace Grey,
15 The sport of madness, misery's prey:[Page 262]
16 But he will no historian need,
17 His cares, his crimes, will he display,
18 And show (as one from frenzy freed)
19 The proud lost mind, the rash-done deed.
20 That cell to him is Greyling Hall: —
21 Approach; he'll bid thee welcome there;
22 Will sometimes for his servant call,
23 And sometimes point the vacant chair;
24 He can, with free and easy air,
25 Appear attentive and polite;
26 Can veil his woes in manners fair,
27 And pity with respect excite.
28 Who comes? — Approach! — 'tis kindly done: —
29 My learn'd physician, and a friend,
30 Their pleasures quit, to visit one
31 Who cannot to their ease attend,
32 Nor joys bestow, nor comforts lend,
33 As when I lived so blest, so well,
34 And dreamt not I must soon contend
35 With those malignant powers of hell.
36 "Less warmth, Sir Eustace, or we go. " —
37 See! I am calm as infant-love,
38 A very child, but one of wo,
39 Whom you should pity, not reprove: —
40 But men at ease, who never strove
41 With passions wild, will calmly show,
42 How soon we may their ills remove,
43 And masters of their madness grow.
44 Some twenty years, I think, are gone, —
45 (Time flies, I know not how, away,)
46 The sun upon no happier shone,
47 Nor prouder man, than Eustace Grey.
48 Ask where you would, and all would say,
49 The man admired and praised of all,
50 By rich and poor, by grave and gay,
51 Was the young lord of Greyling Hall.
52 Yes! I had youth and rosy health;
53 Was nobly form'd, as man might be;
54 For sickness, then, of all my wealth,
55 I never gave a single fee:
56 The ladies fair, the maidens free,
57 Were all accustom'd then to say,
58 Who would a handsome figure see
59 Should look upon Sir Eustace Grey.
60 He had a frank and pleasant look,
61 A cheerful eye and accent bland;
62 His very speech and manner spoke
63 The generous heart, the open hand;[Page 264]
64 About him all was gay or grand,
65 He had the praise of great and small;
66 He bought, improved, projected, plann'd,
67 And reign'd a prince at Greyling Hall.
68 My lady! — she was all we love;
69 All praise (to speak her worth) is faint;
70 Her manners show'd the yielding dove,
71 Her morals, the seraphic saint:
72 She never breath'd nor look'd complaint;
73 No equal upon earth had she: —
74 Now, what is this fair thing I paint?
75 Alas! as all that live shall be.
76 There was, beside, a gallant youth,
77 And him my bosom's friend, I had; —
78 Oh! I was rich in very truth,
79 It made me proud — it made me mad! —
80 Yes, I was lost — but there was cause! —
81 Where stood my tale? — I cannot find —
82 But I had all mankind's applause,
83 And all the smiles of womankind.
84 There were two cherub-things beside,
85 A gracious girl, a glorious boy;
86 Yet more to swell my full-blown pride,
87 To varnish higher my fading joy,
88 Pleasures were ours without alloy,
89 Nay, Paradise, — till my frail Eve
90 Our bliss was tempted to destroy —
91 Deceived and fated to deceive. [Page 265]
92 But I deserved; — for all that time,
93 When I was loved, admired, caress'd,
94 There was within, each secret crime,
95 Unfelt, uncancell'd, unconfess'd:
96 I never then my God address'd,
97 In grateful praise or humble prayer;
98 And if His Word was not my jest —
99 (Dread thought!) it never was my care.
100 I doubted: — fool I was to doubt!
101 If that all-piercing eye could see, —
102 If He who looks all worlds throughout,
103 Would so minute and careful be,
104 As to perceive and punish me: —
105 With man I would be great and high,
106 But with my God so lost, that He,
107 In his large view, should pass me by.
108 Thus blest with children, friend, and wife,
109 Blest far beyond the vulgar lot;
110 Of all that gladdens human life,
111 Where was the good, that I had not?
112 But my vile heart had sinful spot,
113 And Heaven beheld its deep'ning stain;
114 Eternal justice I forgot,
115 And mercy sought not to obtain. [Page 266]
116 Come near, — I'll softly speak the rest! —
117 Alas! 't is known to all the crowd,
118 Her guilty love was all confess'd;
119 And his, who so much truth avow'd,
120 My faithless friend's. — In pleasure proud
121 I sat, when these cursed tidings came;
122 Their guilt, their flight was told aloud,
123 And Envy smiled to hear my shame!
124 I call'd on Vengeance; at the word
125 She came: — Can I the deed forget?
126 I held the sword — the accursed sword
127 The blood of his false heart made wet;
128 And that fair victim paid her debt,
129 She pined, she died, she loath'd to live; —
130 I saw her dying — see her yet:
131 Fair fallen thing! my rage forgive!
132 Those cherubs still, my life to bless,
133 Were left; could I my fears remove,
134 Sad fears that check'd each fond caress,
135 And poison'd all parental love?
136 Yet that with jealous feelings strove,
137 And would at last have won my will,
138 Had I not, wretch! been doom'd to prove
139 Th' extremes of mortal good and ill.
140 In youth! health! joy! in beauty's pride!
141 They droop'd — as flowers when blighted bow;
142 The dire infection came: — they died,
143 And I was cursed — as I am now —[Page 267]
144 Nay, frown not, angry friend, — allow
145 That I was deeply, sorely tried;
146 Hear then, and you must wonder how
147 I could such storms and strifes abide.
148 Storms! — not that clouds embattled make,
149 When they afflict this earthly globe;
150 But such as with their terrors shake
151 Man's breast, and to the bottom probe;
152 They make the hypocrite disrobe,
153 They try us all, if false or true;
154 For this one Devil had power on Job;
155 And I was long the slave of two.
156 Peace, peace, my friend; these subjects fly;
157 Collect thy thoughts — go calmly on. —
158 And shall I then the fact deny?
159 I was, — thou know'st, — I was begone,
160 Like him who fill'd the eastern throne,
161 To whom the Watcher cried aloud;
162 That royal wretch of Babylon,
163 Who was so guilty and so proud. [Page 268]
164 Like him, with haughty, stubborn mind,
165 I, in my state, my comforts sought;
166 Delight and praise I hoped to find,
167 In what I builded, planted, bought!
168 Oh! arrogance! by misery taught —
169 Soon came a voice! I felt it come;
170 "Full be his cup, with evil fraught,
171 " Demons his guides, and death his doom! "
172 Then was I cast from out my state;
173 Two fiends of darkness led my way;
174 They waked me early, watch'd me late,
175 My dread by night, my plague by day!
176 Oh! I was made their sport, their play,
177 Through many a stormy troubled year;
178 And how they used their passive prey
179 Is sad to tell: — but you shall hear.
180 And first before they sent me forth,
181 Through this unpitying world to run,
182 They robb'd Sir Eustace of his worth,
183 Lands, manors, lordships, every one;
184 So was that gracious man undone,
185 Was spurn'd as vile, was scorn'd as poor,
186 Whom every former friend would shun,
187 And menials drove from every door.
188 Then those ill-favour'd Ones, whom none
189 But my unhappy eyes could view,
190 Led me, with wild emotion, on,
191 And, with resistless terror, drew. [Page 269]
192 Through lands we fled, o'er seas we flew,
193 And halted on a boundless plain;
194 Where nothing fed, nor breathed, nor grew,
195 But silence ruled the still domain.
196 Upon that boundless plain, below,
197 The setting sun's last rays were shed,
198 And gave a mild and sober glow,
199 Where all were still, asleep, or dead;
200 Vast ruins in the midst were spread,
201 Pillars and pediments sublime,
202 Where the grey moss had form'd a bed,
203 And clothed the crumbling spoils of time.
204 There was I fix'd, I know not how,
205 Condemn'd for untold years to stay:
206 Yet years were not; — one dreadful Now
207 Endured no change of night or day;
208 The same mild evening's sleeping ray
209 Shone softly solemn and serene,
210 And all that time I gazed away,
211 The setting sun's sad rays were seen. [Page 270]
212 At length a moment's sleep stole on, —
213 Again came my commission'd foes;
214 Again through sea and land we're gone,
215 No peace, no respite, no repose:
216 Above the dark broad sea we rose,
217 We ran through bleak and frozen land;
218 I had no strength their strength t'oppose,
219 An infant in a giant's hand.
220 They placed me where those streamers play,
221 Those nimble beams of brilliant light;
222 It would the stoutest heart dismay,
223 To see, to feel, that dreadful sight:
224 So swift, so pure, so cold, so bright,
225 They pierced my frame with icy wound;
226 And all that half-year's polar night,
227 Those dancing streamers wrapp'd me round.
228 Slowly that darkness pass'd away,
229 When down upon the earth I fell, —
230 Some hurried sleep was mine by day;
231 But, soon as toll'd the evening bell,
232 They forced me on, where ever dwell
233 Far-distant men in cities fair,
234 Cities of whom no travellers tell,
235 Nor feet but mine were wanderers there. [Page 271]
236 Their watchmen stare, and stand aghast,
237 As on we hurry through the dark;
238 The watch-light blinks as we go past,
239 The watch-dog shrinks and fears to bark;
240 The watch-tower's bell sounds shrill; and, hark!
241 The free wind blows — we've left the town —
242 A wide sepulchral ground I mark,
243 And on a tombstone place me down.
244 What monuments of mighty dead!
245 What tombs of various kind are found!
246 And stones erect their shadows shed
247 On humble graves, with wickers bound,
248 Some risen fresh, above the ground,
249 Some level with the native clay:
250 What sleeping millions wait the sound,
251 "Arise, ye dead, and come away!"
252 Alas! they stay not for that call;
253 Spare me this woe! ye demons, spare! —
254 They come! the shrouded shadows all, —
255 'Tis more than mortal brain can bear;
256 Rustling they rise, they sternly glare
257 At man upheld by vital breath;
258 Who, led by wicked fiends, should dare
259 To join the shadowy troops of death!
260 Yes, I have felt all man can feel,
261 Till he shall pay his nature's debt;
262 Ills that no hope has strength to heal,
263 No mind the comfort to forget:[Page 272]
264 Whatever cares the heart can fret,
265 The spirits wear, the temper gall,
266 Woe, want, dread, anguish, all beset
267 My sinful soul! — together all!
268 Those fiends upon a shaking fen
269 Fix'd me, in dark tempestuous night
270 There never trod the foot of men,
271 There flock'd the fowl in wint'ry flight;
272 There danced the moor's deceitful light
273 Above the pool where sedges grow;
274 And when the morning-sun shone bright,
275 It shone upon a field of snow.
276 They hung me on a bough so small,
277 The rook could build her nest no higher;
278 They fix'd me on the trembling ball
279 That crowns the steeple's quiv'ring spire;
280 They set me where the seas retire,
281 But drown with their returning tide;
282 And made me flee the mountain's fire,
283 When rolling from its burning side.
284 I've hung upon the ridgy steep
285 Of cliffs, and held the rambling brier
286 I've plunged below the billowy deep,
287 Where air was sent me to respire;[Page 273]
288 I've been where hungry wolves retire;
289 And (to complete my woes) I've ran
290 Where Bedlam's crazy crew conspire
291 Against the life of reasoning man.
292 I've furl'd in storms the flapping sail,
293 By hanging from the topmast-head;
294 I've served the vilest slaves in jail,
295 And pick'd the dunghill's spoil for bread;
296 I've made the badger's hole my bed,
297 I've wander'd with a gipsy crew;
298 I've dreaded all the guilty dread,
299 And done what they would fear to do.
300 On sand, where ebbs and flows the flood,
301 Midway they placed and bade me die;
302 Propt on my staff, I stoutly stood
303 When the swift waves came rolling by;
304 And high they rose, and still more high,
305 Till my lips drank the bitter brine;
306 I sobb'd convulsed, then cast mine eye,
307 And saw the tide's re-flowing sign.
308 And then, my dreams were such as nought
309 Could yield but my unhappy case;
310 I've been of thousand devils caught,
311 And thrust into that horrid place,[Page 274]
312 Where reign dismay, despair, disgrace;
313 Furies with iron fangs were there,
314 To torture that accursed race,
315 Doom'd to dismay, disgrace, despair.
316 Harmless I was; yet hunted down
317 For treasons, to my soul unfit;
318 I've been pursued through many a town,
319 For crimes that petty knaves commit;
320 I've been adjudged t' have lost my wit,
321 Because I preach'd so loud and well;
322 And thrown into the dungeon's pit,
323 For trampling on the pit of hell.
324 Such were the evils, man of sin,
325 That I was fated to sustain;
326 And add to all, without — within,
327 A soul defiled with every stain
328 That man's reflecting mind can pain;
329 That pride, wrong, rage, despair, can make;
330 In fact, they'd nearly touch'd my brain,
331 And reason on her throne would shake.
332 But pity will the vilest seek,
333 If punish'd guilt will not repine, —
334 I heard a heavenly Teacher speak,
335 And felt the Sun of Mercy shine:
336 I hail'd the light! the birth divine!
337 And then was seal'd among the few;
338 Those angry fiends beheld the sign,
339 And from me in an instant flew. [Page 275]
340 Come hear how thus the charmers cry
341 To wandering sheep, the strays of sin,
342 While some the wicket-gate pass by,
343 And some will knock and enter in:
344 Full joyful 'tis a soul to win,
345 For he that winneth souls is wise;
346 Now hark! the holy strains begin,
347 And thus the sainted preacher cries: —
348 "Pilgrim, burthen'd with thy sin,
349 " Come the way to Zion's gate,
350 "There, till Mercy let thee in,
351 " Knock and weep and watch and wait.
352 "Knock! — He knows the sinner's cry:
353 " Weep! — He loves the mourner's tears:
354 "Watch! — for saving grace is nigh:
355 " Wait, — till heavenly light appears.
356 "Hark! it is the Bridegroom's voice;
357 " Welcome, pilgrim, to thy rest;
358 "Now within the gate rejoice,
359 " Safe and seal'd and bought and blest!
360 "Safe — from all the lures of vice,
361 " Seal'd — by signs the chosen know,
362 "Bought — by love and life the price,
363 " Blest — the mighty debt to owe. [Page 276]
364 "Holy Pilgrim! what for thee
365 " In a world like this remain?
366 "From thy guarded breast shall flee
367 " Fear and shame, and doubt and pain.
368 "Fear — the hope of Heaven shall fly,
369 " Shame — from glory's view retire,
370 "Doubt — in certain rapture die,
371 " Pain — in endless bliss expire. "
372 But though my day of grace was come,
373 Yet still my days of grief I find;
374 The former clouds 'collected gloom
375 Still sadden the reflecting mind;
376 The soul, to evil things consign'd,
377 Will of their evil some retain;
378 The man will seem to earth inclined,
379 And will not look erect again.
380 Thus, though elect, I feel it hard
381 To lose what I possess'd before,
382 To be from all my wealth debarr'd, —
383 The brave Sir Eustace is no more:
384 But old I wax and passing poor,
385 Stern, rugged men my conduct view;
386 They chide my wish, they bar my door,
387 'Tis hard — I weep — you see I do. —
388 Must you, my friends, no longer stay?
389 Thus quickly all my pleasures end;
390 But I'll remember, when I pray,
391 My kind physician and his friend;[Page 277]
392 And those sad hours, you deign to spend
393 With me, I shall requite them all;
394 Sir Eustace for his friends shall send,
395 And thank their love at Greyling Hall.
396 The poor Sir Eustace! — Yet his hope
397 Leads him to think of joys again;
398 And when his earthly visions droop,
399 His views of heavenly kind remain: —
400 But whence that meek and humbled strain,
401 That spirit wounded, lost, resign'd?
402 Would not so proud a soul disdain
403 The madness of the poorest mind?
404 No! for the more he swell'd with pride,
405 The more he felt misfortune's blow;
406 Disgrace and grief he could not hide,
407 And poverty had laid him low:
408 Thus shame and sorrow working slow,
409 At length this humble spirit gave;
410 Madness on these began to grow,
411 And bound him to his fiends a slave.
412 Though the wild thoughts had touch'd his brain,
413 Then was he free: — So, forth he ran;
414 To soothe or threat, alike were vain:
415 He spake of fiends; look'd wild and wan;[Page 278]
416 Year after year, the hurried man
417 Obey'd those fiends from place to place;
418 Till his religious change began
419 To form a frenzied child of grace.
420 For, as the fury lost its strength,
421 The mind reposed; by slow degrees
422 Came lingering hope, and brought at length,
423 To the tormented spirit, ease:
424 This slave of sin, whom fiends could seize,
425 Felt or believed their power had end; —
426 "'Tis faith," he cried, "my bosom frees,
427 " And now my Saviour is my friend. "
428 But ah! though time can yield relief,
429 And soften woes it cannot cure;
430 Would we not suffer pain and grief,
431 To have our reason sound and sure?
432 Then let us keep our bosoms pure,
433 Our fancy's favourite flights suppress;
434 Prepare the body to endure,
435 And bend the mind to meet distress;
436 And then his guardian care implore,
437 Whom demons dread and men adore.