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The spirits were in neutral space, before
The gate of heaven; like eastern thresholds is The place where death's grand cause is argued o'er, And souls dispatch'd to that world or to this; And therefore Michael and the other wore
A civil aspect: though they did not kiss, Yet still between his Darkness and his Brightness There pass'd a mutual glance of great politeness.
The archangel bow'd, not like a modern beau,
The heart in good men is supposed to tend. He turn'd as to an equal, not too low,
But kindly; Sathan met his ancient friend With more hauteur, as might an old Castilian Poor noble meet a mushroom rich civilian.
XXXVII. He merely bent his diabolic brow
An instant; and then, raising it, he stood In act to assert his right or wrong, and show
Cause why King George by no means could or should Make out a case to be exempt from woe
Eternal, more than other kings endued With better sense and hearts, whom history mentions, Who long have «paved hell with their good intentions.» XXXVIII.
Michael began: « What wouldst thou with this man, Now dead, and brought before the Lord? What ill Hath he wrought since his mortal race began,
That thou canst claim him? Speak, and do thy will, If it be just: if in this earthly span
He hath been greatly failing to fulfil
« Michael!» replied the prince of air, « even here, Before the gate of Him thou servest, must I claim my subject; and will make appear
That as he was my worshipper in dust, So shall he be in spirit, although dear
To thee and thine, because nor wine nor lust Were of his weaknesses! yet on the throne Ile reign'd o'er millions to serve me alone.
<< Look to our earth, or rather mine; it was Once, more thy Master's: but I triumph not In this poor planet's conquest, nor, alas!
Need he thou servest envy me my lot: With all the myriads of bright worlds which pass In worship round him, he may have forgot You weak creation of such paltry things:
I think few worth damnation save their kings.
« And these but as a kind of quit-rent, to Assert my right as lord; and even had
I such an inclination, 't were (as you
Well know) superfluous; they are grown so bad, That hell has nothing better left to do
Than leave them to themselves: so much more mad And evil be their own internal curse, Beaven cannot make them better, nor I worse.
<< Look to the earth, I said, and say again:
When this old, blind, mad, helpless, weak, poor worm Began in youth's first bloom and flush to reign,
The world and he both wore a different form,
Of ocean call'd him king: through many a storm
<< He came to his sceptre young; he leaves it old: Look to the state in which he found his realm, And left it: and his annals, too, behold,
How to a minion first he gave the helm; How grew upon his heart a thirst for gold,
The beggar's vice, which can but overwhelm The meanest hearts; and, for the rest, but glance Thine eye along America and France!
«T is true, he was a tool from first to last
(I have the workmen safe); but as a tool So let him be consumed! From out the past
Of ages, since mankind have known the rule Of monarchs-from the bloody rolls amass'd
Of sin and slaughter-from the Cæsar's school, Take the worst pupil, and produce a reign More drench'd with gore, more cumber'd with the slain!
<< He ever warr'd with freedom and the free! Nations as men, home subjects, foreign foes, So that they utter'd the word 'Liberty!'
Found George the Third their first opponent. Whose History was ever stain'd as his will be
With national and individual woes?
I grant his household abstinence; I grant
His neutral virtues, which most monarchs want;
<< I know he was a constant consort; own
He was a decent sire, and middling lord. All this is much, and most upon a throne; As temperance, if at Apicius' board,
Is more than at an anchorite's supper shown.
I grant him all the kindest can afford; And this was well for him, but not for those Millions who found him what oppression chose.
The new world shook him off; the old yet groans
Who sleep, or despots who have now forgot A lesson which shall be re-taught them, wake Upon the throne of earth; but let them quake!
<< Five millions of the primitive, who hold
The faith which makes ye great on earth, implored
A part of that vast all they held of old,— Freedom to worship-not alone your Lord, Michael, but you, and you, Saint Peter!
Must be your souls, if you have not abhorr'd The foe to Catholic participation
In all the license of a Christian nation.
They are proud of this-as very well they may,
Up the back stairs, or such free-masonry:
Being clay myself. Let not those spirits be
How much time it takes up, even to a second,
The fogs of London; through which, dimly beacon'd, The weathercocks are gilt, some thrice a year, If that the summer is not too severe :
"Why, my dear Lucifer, would you abuse
Our time, nay, our eternity, between The accusation and defence: if we Hear both, 't will stretch our immortality.>>
Sathan replied, «To me the matter is
Indifferent, in a personal point of view: I can have fifty better souls than this
With far less trouble than we have gone through Already; and I merely argued his
Late Majesty of Britain's case with you
Thus spoke the demon (late call'd « multifaced»
Around our congress, and dispense with all
As to speak first? there's choice enough-who shill It be?» Then Sathan answer'd, « There are many; But you may chuse Jack Wilkes as well as any.»>
A merry, cock-eyed, curious looking sprite Upon the instant started from the throng, Dress'd in a fashion now forgotten quite;
For all the fashions of the flesh stick long By people in the next world; where unite
All the costumes since Adam's right or wrong, From Eve's fig-leaf down to the petticoat, Almost as scanty, of days less remote.
Assembled, and exclaim'd, « My friends of all
If those are freeholders I see in shrouds,
And 't is for an election that they bawl, Behold a candidate with unturn'd-coat! Saint Peter, may I count upon your vote?»
« Sir,» replied Michael, « you mistake: these things
Is the tribunal met; so now you know.»
Said Wilkes, << are cherubs; and that soul below Looks much like George the Third; but to my mind A good deal older-Bless me! is he blind?>>
<< He is what you behold him, and his doom Depends upon his deeds,» the angel said.
<< If you have aught to arraign in him, the tomb Gives license to the humblest beggar's head To lift itself against the loftiest.»-«< Some,»
Said Wilkes, « don't wait to see them laid in lead, For such a liberty-and 1, for one, Have told them what I thought, beneath the sun.>>
« But since he 's here, let's see what he has done,»> <«< Done!» cried Asmodeus, «he anticipates The very business you are now upon,
And scribbles as if head-clerk to the Fates. Who knows to what his ribaldry may run,
When such an ass as this, like Balaam's, prates!»> « Let's hear,» quoth Michael, «what he has to say; You know we're bound to that in every way!»>
Now the bard, glad to get an audience, which
To all unhappy hearers within reach
Of poets when the tide of rhyme 's in flow; But stuck fast with his first hexameter, Not one of all whose gouty feet would stir.
But ere the spavin'd dacty's could be spurr'd
Both cherubim and seraphim were heard
To murmur loudly through their long array;
And Michael rose ere he could get a word
Of all his founder'd verses under way,
He had sung against all battles, and again
Become as base a critic as e'er crawl'd—
By whom his muse and morals had been maul'd:
And cried, << For God's sake stop, my friend! 't were best-He had written much blank verse, and blanker prose, 'Non Di, non homines,—you know the rest.»>
A general bustle spread throughout the throng,
When upon service; and the generation
Of ghosts had heard too much in life, not long
The monarch, mute till then, exclaim'd « What! what!
The tumult grew, an universal cough
Convulsed the skies, as during a debate, When Castlereagh has been up long enough
(Before he was first minister of state,
I mean the slaves hear now), some cried « off, off,» As at a farce; till, grown quite desperate,
The bar Saint Peter pray'd to interpose (Himself an author) only for his prose.
The varlet was not an ill-favour'd knave;
Then Michael blew his trump, and still'd the noise
Lift up their lungs when fairly overcrow'd; And now the bard could plead his own bad cause, With all the attitudes of self-applause.
He said—(I only give the heads)—he said,
He meant no harm in scribbling;'t was his way Upon all topics; 't was, besides, his bread,
Of which he butter'd both sides; 't would delay Too long the assembly (he was pleased to dread), And take up rather more time than a day, To name his works-he would but cite a fewWat Tyler-rhymes on Blenheim-Waterloo.
He had written praises of a regicide;
He had written praises of all kings whatever; He had written for republics, far and wide,
And then against them, bitterer than ever; For pantisocracy he once had cried
Aloud, a scheme less moral than 't was clever; Then grew a hearty anti-jacobin—
Had turn'd his coat-and would have turn'd his skin.
And more of both than any body knows.
He had written Wesley's life:-here, turning round
In two octavo volumes, nicely bound,
Sathan bow'd, and was silent. « Well, if you,
My offer, what says Michael? There are few
Mine is a pen of all work; not so new
As it was once, but I would make you shine Like your own trumpet; by the way, my own Has more of brass in it, and is as well blown.
<< But talking about trumpets, here's my Vision!
I settle all these things by intuition,
Times present, past, to come, heaven, hell, and all, Like King Alfonso! When I thus see double,
I save the deity some worlds of trouble.»>
He ceased, and drew forth an MS. ; and no
He read the first three lines of the contents;
Those grand heroics acted as a spell :
The angels stopp'd their ears and plied their pinious: The devils ran howling, deafen'd, down to hell;
The ghosts fled, gibbering, for their own dominions (For 't is not yet decided where they dwell,
And I leave every man to his opinions);
1 See Life of H. Kirke White,
King Alfonso, speaking of the Ptolomean system, said, that had he been consulted at the creation of the world, he would have spared the Maker some absurdities.
3 See Aubrey's account of the apparition which disappeared with a curious perfume and a melodious twang; or see the Antiquary, vol. I.