Thence simple bards, by simple prudence taught,
To this wise town by simple patrons brought,
In simple manner utter simple lays,
And take, with simple pensions, simple praise.
Waft me, some Muse, to Tweed’s inspiring stream,
Where all the little Loves and Graces dream;
Where, slowly winding, the dull waters creep,
And seem themselves to own the power of sleep;
Where on the surface lead, like feathers, swims;
There let me bathe my yet unhallow’d limbs,
As once a Syrian bathed in Jordan’s flood—
Wash off my native stains, correct that blood
Which mutinies at call of English pride,
And, deaf to prudence, rolls a patriot tide.
From solemn thought which overhangs the brow
Of patriot care, when things are—God knows how;
From nice trim points, where Honour, slave to Rule,
In compliment to Folly, plays the fool [. . .]
Me, whom no Muse of heavenly birth inspires,
No judgment tempers when rash genius fires;
Who boast no merit but mere knack of rhyme,
Short gleams of sense, and satire out of time;
Who cannot follow where trim fancy leads,
By prattling streams, o’er flower-empurpled meads;
Who often, but without success, have pray’d
For apt Alliteration’s artful aid;
Who would, but cannot, with a master’s skill,
Coin fine new epithets, which mean no ill:
Me, thus uncouth, thus every way unfit
For pacing poesy, and ambling wit,
Taste with contempt beholds, nor deigns to place
Amongst the lowest of her favour’d race.
Sounds of mingled import—bursts of laughter—utterances of revelry, of gay sport and witty ridicule, and polished sarcasm, and obscene allusions and terrible curses broke upon my ear. These again were intermixed with impure solicitations and backbitings, and hollow compliments, and feigned congratulations, and all in one sparkling brilliancy, agitated the pained, bewildered sense.
As I advanced, I walked as upon scorpions, and trod as amid living embers. The trees that seemed to wave about me were fiery exhalations, and their blossoms the sparklings and the burnings of unremitting flames. Each object I approached by contact created agony.
The phosphorescent glare that surrounded the various objects burned the eye that looked upon them. The fruitage burned the hand that plucked and the lips that received it. The gathered flowers had emitted a burning exhalation, whose fetid and noisome odor, inhaled in the nostrils, caused excruciating pain. The fiery atoms of the atmosphere burned as they were wafted by me. The air and the blast that moved it, alike were burdened with the very elements of disappointment and wretchedness.
Upon turning to see if I could discover a single drop’ of water to allay the fierce and intolerable thirst; fountains appeared, and rivulets flowed amid the herbage, and lay in calm and placid pools. Soon, however, I discovered that these corresponded with the former illusions, and the drops of spray from the sparkling fountains fell like drops of molten lead upon the shrinking form. The flowing rivulets were like the molten river of metallic fire that streams from a furnace seven times heated; and the deep still pools were as the white and waveless silver in some glowing crucible, when every atom is burning with a fierce, intolerable glow.
A Lost Spirit Speaks
When in solemn contemplation of these fearful scenes, a spirit approached me whom I had known on earth. This being appeared externally far more brilliant than when in the body. The form, the countenance, the eyes, the hands, appeared endued with a metallic lustre that varied with every motion and every thought. Accosting me the spirit said:
Marietta, we are again met. You see me a disembodied spirit, in that abode where those who inwardly deny the Savior find their habitation when their mortal day has ended. Strange emotions agitate your bosom. Thus I felt, looked, wondered, and moved in sad and bewildered anxiety in the hour when my being here discovered the theatre of its present existence. But I experienced that which you have never yet realized in the interior principles of mind. Strange and incontrollable are the emotions causing me to relate that inward sorrow which this brilliant exterior would, if it were possible, conceal.