pioneer an expedition. I was far from strong, but could
* Hic avidus stetit Vulcanus, hic matrona Juno, et Nunquam humeris positurus arcum; Qui rore puro Castaliae lavit Crines solutos, qui Lyciae tenet Dumeta natalemque silvam, Delius et Patareus Apollo.
Yet it is pleasant, I own it, to be in their company; pleasant, Whatever else it may be, to abide in the feminine presence. Pleasant, but wrong, will you say? But this happy, serene coexistence Is to some poor soft souls, I fear, a necessity simple, Meat and drink and life, and music, filling with sweetness, Thrilling with melody sweet, with harmonies strange overwhelming, All the long-silent strings of an awkward, meaningless fabric. Yet as for that, I could live, I believe, with children; to have those Pure and delicate forms encompassing, moving about you, This were enough, I could think; and truly with glad resignation Could from the dream of Romance, from the fever of flushed adolescence, Look to escape and subside into peaceful avuncular functions. Nephews and nieces! alas, for as yet I have none! and, moreover, Mothers are jealous, I fear me, too often, too rightfully; fathers Think they have title exclusive to spoiling their own little darlings; And by the law of the land, in despite of Malthusian doctrine, No sort of proper provision is made for that most patriotic, Most meritorious subject, the childless and bachelor uncle.
Ye, too, marvellous Twain, that erect on the Monte Cavallo Stand by your rearing steeds in the grace of your motionless movement, Stand with your upstretched arms and tranquil regardant faces, Stand as instinct with life in the might of immutable manhood,-- O ye mighty and strange, ye ancient divine ones of Hellas. Are ye Christian too? to convert and redeem and renew you, Will the brief form have sufficed, that a Pope has set up on the apex Of the Egyptian stone that o'ertops you, the Christian symbol? And ye, silent, supreme in serene and victorious marble, Ye that encircle the walls of the stately Vatican chambers, Juno and Ceres, Minerva, Apollo, the Muses and Bacchus, Ye unto whom far and near come posting the Christian pilgrims, Ye that are ranged in the halls of the mystic Christian Pontiff, Are ye also baptized? are ye of the kingdom of Heaven? Utter, O some one, the word that shall reconcile Ancient and Modern! Am I to turn me from this unto thee, great Chapel of Sixtus?
These are the facts. The uncle, the elder brother, the squire (a Little embarrassed, I fancy), resides in the family place in Cornwall, of course; 'Papa is in business,' Mary informs me; He's a good sensible man, whatever his trade is. The mother Is--shall I call it fine?--herself she would tell you refined, and Greatly, I fear me, looks down on my bookish and maladroit manners; Somewhat affecteth the blue; would talk to me often of poets; Quotes, which I hate, Childe Harold; but also appreciates Wordsworth; Sometimes adventures on Schiller; and then to religion diverges; Questions me much about Oxford; and yet, in her loftiest flights still Grates the fastidious ear with the slightly mercantile accent.
Is it contemptible, Eustace--I'm perfectly ready to think so,-- Is it,--the horrible pleasure of pleasing inferior people? I am ashamed of my own self; and yet true it is, if disgraceful, That for the first time in life I am living and moving with freedom. I, who never could talk to the people I meet with my uncle,-- I, who have always failed,--I, trust me, can suit the Trevellyns; I, believe me,--great conquest, am liked by the country bankers. And I am glad to be liked, and like in return very kindly. So it proceeds; laissez faire, laissez aller,--such is the watchword. Well, I know there are thousands as pretty and hundreds as pleasant, Girls by the dozen as good, and girls in abundance with polish Higher and manners more perfect than Susan or Mary Trevellyn. Well, I know, after all, it is only juxtaposition,-- Juxtaposition, in short; and what is juxtaposition?
But I am in for it now,--laissez faire, of a truth, laissez aller. Yes, I am going,--I feel it, I feel and cannot recall it,-- Fusing with this thing and that, entering into all sorts of relations, Tying I know not what ties, which, whatever they are, I know one thing, Will, and must, woe is me, be one day painfully broken,-- Broken with painful remorses, with shrinkings of soul, and relentings, Foolish delays, more foolish evasions, most foolish renewals. But I have made the step, have quitted the ship of Ulysses; Quitted the sea and the shore, passed into the magical island; Yet on my lips is the moly, medicinal, offered of Hermes. I have come into the precinct, the labyrinth closes around me, Path into path rounding slyly; I pace slowly on, and the fancy, Struggling awhile to sustain the long sequences, weary, bewildered, Fain must collapse in despair; I yield, I am lost, and know nothing; Yet in my bosom unbroken remaineth the clue; I shall use it. Lo, with the rope on my loins I descend through the fissure; I sink, yet Inly secure in the strength of invisible arms up above me; Still, wheresoever I swing, wherever to shore, or to shelf, or Floor of cavern untrodden, shell sprinkled, enchanting, I know I Yet shall one time feel the strong cord tighten about me,-- Feel it, relentless, upbear me from spots I would rest in; and though the Rope sway wildly, I faint, crags wound me, from crag unto crag re- Bounding, or, wide in the void, I die ten deaths, ere the end I Yet shall plant firm foot on the broad lofty spaces I quit, shall Feel underneath me again the great massy strengths of abstraction, Look yet abroad from the height o'er the sea whose salt wave I have tasted.
XIII. Georgina Trevellyn to Louisa ----.
Dearest Louisa,--Inquire, if you please, about Mr. Claude ----. He has been once at R., and remembers meeting the H.'s. Harriet L., perhaps, may be able to tell you about him. It is an awkward youth, but still with very good manners; Not without prospects, we hear; and, George says, highly connected. Georgy declares it absurd, but Mamma is alarmed, and insists he has Taken up strange opinions, and may be turning a Papist. Certainly once he spoke of a daily service he went to. 'Where?' we asked, and he laughed and answered, 'At the Pantheon.' This was a temple, you know, and now is a Catholic church; and Though it is said that Mazzini has sold it for Protestant service, Yet I suppose this change can hardly as yet be effected. Adieu again,--evermore, my dearest, your loving Georgina.
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