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[The conception of this
ode originated in a popular tradition of Crom. well's earlier days. It is thus strikingly related by Mr. Forster, in his recent and very valuable Life of Cromwell: “He had laid himself down, too fatigued to hope for sleep, when suddenly the curtains of his bed were slowly withdrawn by a gigantic figure, which bore the aspect of a woman, and which, gazing at him silently for a while, told him that he should, before his death, be the greatest man in England. He remembered when he told the story, and the recollection marked the current of his thoughts, that the figure had not made mention of the word king." Alteration has been made in the scene of the vision and the age of Cromwell.]
The moor spread wild and far
Midnight yet moonless; and the winds ice-bound,
Save where the paleness of a sudden star
Where on the wold, the triple pathway crossid,
Beneath the boughs he laid him down to rest.
Through maze, up mount, still bounding on its way,
In unrevealing sleep;
The toils of autumn reap:
Seize, seize, seize,
Ye pale impalpables, that are
Prophets that men call DREAMS;
Sits, muttering spells for mortal state,
Seize, seize, seize,
Clasp the gyves of the iron sleep! "Awakes or dreams he still ?
His eyes are open with a glassy stare, * Aábɛ, habe, habe, habe (seize, seize, seize).-Æschyl. Exmen., 125.
On the fix'd brow the large drops gather chill,
Before him stands the thing of dread,
So the wan image which the vision bore
Was outlined from the air, no more Than served to make the loathing sense a bond Between the world of life and grislier worlds beyond.
Bow labour's rustic sons in solemın prayer;
The dreamer sees the Phantom-Cromwell there!
* ες άκραν
Soph. Edip. Col., 1465. + The Lemures or Larvæ, the evil spirits of the dead, as the Lares were the good. They haunted sepulchres" loath to leave the bodies that they loved."
I The farm of St. Ives, where Cromwell spent three years, afterward recalled with regret, though not unafflicted with dark hypochondria and sullen discontent. Here, as Mr. Forster impressively observes, “in the tenants that rented from him, in the labourers that served under him, he sought to sow the seeds of his after troop of Ironsides.
All the famous doctrines of his later and more cele brated years were tried and tested in the little farm of St. Ives. Before going to their fieldwork in the morning, they (his servants) knelt down with their master in the touching equality of prayer; in the evening they shared with him again the comfort and exaltation of divine precepts.”-Forster's Cromwell.
" The greatest of the hamlet, demon, no!" Loud laugh'd the fiend, then trembled through the sky,
Where haply angels watch'd, a warning sigh ; And darkness swept the scene, and golden quiet ceased.
VI. “ Behold!" the shadow said ; a hell-born ray Shoots through the night, up leaps the unbless'd day, Spring from the earth the dragon's armèd seed, The ghastly squadron wheels and neighs the spectre
steed. Unnatural sounds the mother-tongue As loud from host to host the English warcry rung ;
Kindred with kindred blent in slaughter, lo
A gay and glittering band !
A gay and glittering band,
Pale in the midst, that stately squadron boast
And still, where plumes are proudest, seen,
On rolls the surging war, and now
Rupert” and “Charles," "The Lady of the Crown,”+ “Down with the Roundhead rebels, down!” “St. George and England's king."
A stalwart and a sturdy band,
“They come. Up, Ironsides !
Behold the accursed Amalekite !"
* Prince Rupert. † Henrietta Maria was the popular watchword of the Cavaliers.
For, calmly through the carnage-cloud,
The Phantom-Cromwell rides !
A lurid darkness swallows the array,
And o'er the slaughter done
And, meekly, side by side,
Sleep scowling Hate and sternly smiling Pride, On the kind breast of earth, the quiet mother!
Lo, where the victor sweeps along,
Around, from heaven to earth ascending,
So, as some orb above a mighty stream
Calm and aloft behold the Phantom-Conqueror ride!
My soul stands breathless on the mountain's brow, And looks beyond !” Again swift darkness screen'd
The solemn chieftain and the fierce array,
That once had been a king ;
Had both been left to Nature's quiet law,
Were riper for the garden-house of gloom.* * The reader will recall the well-known story of Cromwell open. ing the coffin of Charles with the hilt of a private soldier's sword, and, after gazing on the body some time, observing calmly, that it seemed made for long life.