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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. Oh 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 loved
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 sour'd
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 shudder'd, lest a cry Should break his sleep by night, and his nice eyes
Should see the raw mechanic's bloody thumbs
Sweat on his blazon'd 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 dragg’d 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 pigg’d.
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 return’d unfarrow'd to her sty.
John. They found you out ?
James. Not they.
John. Well-after all
What know we of the secret of a man ?
His nerves were wrong. What ails us, who are sound,
That we should mimic this raw fool the world,,
Which charts us all in its coarse blacks or whites,
As ruthless as a baby with a worm,
As cruel as a schoolboy ere he grows
To Pity—more from ignorance than will.
But put your best foot forward, or I fear
That we shall miss the mail : and here it comes
With five at top: as quaint a four-in-hand
As you shall see-three pyebalds and a roen.
O ME, my pleasant rambles by the lake,
My sweet, wild, fresh three quarters of a year,
My one Oasis in the dust and drouth
Of city life ! I was a sketcher then :
See here, my doing : curves of mountain, bridge,
Boat, island, ruins of a castle, built
When men knew how to build, upon a rock
With turrets lichen-gilded like a rock :
And here, new-comers in an ancient hold,
New-comers from the Mersey, millionaires,
Here lived the Hills—a Tudor-chimnied bulk
Of mellow brickwork on an isle of bowers.
O me, my pleasant rambles by the lake With Edwin Morris and with Edward Bull The curate; he was fatter than his cure.
But Edwin Morris, he that knew the names, Long learned names of agaric, moss and fern,
Who forged a thousand theories of the rocks,
Who taught me how to skate, to row, to swim,
Who read me rhymes elaborately good,
His own–I call’d him Crichton, for he seem'd
All-perfect, finish'd to the finger nail.
And once I ask'd him of his early life,
And his first passion; and he answer'd me;
And well his words became him : was he not
A full-cell'd honeycomb of eloquence
Stored from all flowers ? Poet-like he spoke,
My love for Nature is as old as I ; But thirty moons, one honeymoon to that, And three rich sennights more, my love for her. My love for Nature and my love for her, Of different ages, like twin-sisters grew, Twin-sisters differently beautiful. To some full music rose and sank the sun, And some full music seem'd to move and change With all the varied changes of the dark, And either twilight and the day between ; For daily hope fulfill'd, to rise again Revolving toward fulfilment, made it sweet To walk, to sit, to sleep, to wake, to breathe.'
Or this or something like to this he spoke. Then said the fat-faced curate Edward Bull,