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“What right have you, madam, gazing in your palace

mirror daily, Getting so by heart your beauty which all others must

adore, While you draw the golden ringlets down your fingers,

to vow gaily You will wed no man that's only good to God, and no

thing more?

“Why, what right have you, made fair by that same God,

the sweetest woman Of all women He has fashioned, with your lovely spirit

face Which would seem too near to vanish if its smile were

not so human, And your voice of holy sweetness, turning common words

to grace,

“What right can you have, God's other works to scorn,

despise, revile them In the gross, as mere men, broadly—not as noble men,

forsooth,As mere arias of the outer world, forbidden to

ssoil them In the hope of hving, dying, near that sweetness of your


“ Have you any answer, madam? If my spirit were less

earthly, If its instrument were gifted with a better silver string, I would kneel down where I stand, and say-Behold me!

I am worthy Of thy loving, for I love thee. I am worthy as a king.

“As it is—your ermined pride, I swear, shall feel this

stain upon her, That I, poor, weak, tost with passion, scorned by me and

you again, Love you, madam, dare to love you, to my grief and your

dishonour, To my endless desolation, and your impotent disdain !”

More mad words like these-mere madness! friend, I

need not write them fuller, For I hear my hot soul dropping on the lines in showers

of tears. Oh, a woman ! friend, a woman ! why, a beast had scarce

been duller Than roar bestial loud complaints against the shining of

the spheres.


But at last there came a pause.

I stood all vibrating with thunder Which my soul had used. The silence drew her face up

like a call. Could you guess what word she uttered ? She looked up,

as if in wonder, With tears beaded on her lashes, and said—“ Bertram !"

it was all.

If she had cursed me, and she might have, or if even

with queenly bearing, Which at need is used by women, she had risen up and

said, 'Sir, you are my guest, and therefore I have given you a

full hearing : Now, beseech you, choose a name exacting somewhat

less, instead !” —

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I had borne it : but that“ Bertram "—why, it lies there on

the paper

A mere word, without her accent, and you cannot judge

the weight Of the calm which crushed my passion : I seemed

drowning in a vapour ; And her gentleness destroyed me whom her scorn made


So, struck backward and exhausted by that inward flow

of passion Which had rushed on, sparing nothing, into forms of

abstract truth, By a logic agonising through unseemly demonstration, And by youth's own anguish turning grimly grey the hairs

of youth,

By the sense accursed and instant, that if even I spake

wisely I spake basely-using truth, if what I spake indeed was

true, To avenge wrong on a woman-her, who sat there

weighing nicely A poor manhood's worth, found guilty of such deeds as I

could do !

By such wrong and woe exhausted—what I suffered and

occasioned,As a wild horse through the city runs with lightning in

his eyes,

And then dashing at a church's cold and passive wall,

impassioned, Strikes the death into his burning brain, and blindly

drops and dies-

So I fell, struck down before her-do you blame me,

friend, for weakness ? 'T was my strength of passion slew me !—fell before her

like a stone ; Fast the dreadful world rolled from me on its roaring

wheels of blackness : When the light came I was lying in this chamber and


Oh, of course she charged her lacqueys to bear out the

sickly burden, And to cast it from her scornful sight, but not beyond the

gate ; She is too kind to be cruel, and too haughty not to

pardon Such a man as I; 't were something to be level to her hate.

But for me—you are conscious why, my friend, I write

this letter, How my life is read all backward, and the charm of life

undone. I shall leave her house at dawn ; I would to-night, if I

were betterAnd I charge my soul to hold my body strengthened for

the sun.

When the sun has dyed the oriel, I depart, with no last

gazes, No weak moanings (one word only, left in writing for

her hands), Out of reach of all derision, and some unavailing praises, To make front against this anguish in the far and foreign Blame me not. I would not squander life in grief, I am


abstemious. I but nurse my spirit's falcon that its wing may soar again. There's no room for tears of weakness in the blind eyes

of a Phemius : Into work the poet kneads them, and he does not die

till then.


Bertram finished the last pages, while along the silence


Still in hot and heavy splashes fell the tears on every leaf. Having ended he leans backward in his chair, with lips

that quiver From the deep unspoken, ay, and deep unwritten

thoughts of grief.

Soh ! how still the lady standeth! 'T is a dream-a

dream of mercies ! 'Twixt the purple lattice-curtains how she standeth still

and pale ! 'T is a vision, sure, of mercies, sent to soften his self

curses, Sent to sweep a patient quiet o'er the tossing of his wail.

“Eyes,” he said, “now throbbing through me! are ye

eyes that did undo me ? Shining eyes, like antique jewels set in Parian statue

stone ! Underneath that calm white forehead are ye ever burning

torrid O’er the desolate sand-desert of my heart and life un

done ? "

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