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slimy things, amongst reeds and Nilotic

I thus give the reader some slight abstraction of my oriental dreams, which always filled me with such amazement at the monstrous scenery, that horror seemed absorbed, for a while, in sheer astonishment. Sooner or later came a reflux of feeling that swallowed up the astonishment, and left me, not so much in terror, as in hatred and abomination of what I saw. Over every form, and threat, and punishment, and dim sightless incarceration, brooded a sense of eternity and infinity that drove me into an oppression as of mad



solemnised by the power of dreams. There were the same mountains, and the same lovely valley at their feet; but the mountains were raised to more than Alpine height, and there was interspace far larger between them of meadows and forest lawns; the hedges were rich with white roses; and no living creature was to be seen, excepting that in the green church-yard there were cattle tranquilly reposing upon the verdant graves, and particularly round about the grave of a child whom I had tenderly loved, just as I had really beheld them, a little before sunrise, in the same summer, when that child died. I gazed upon the well-known scene, and I said aloud (as I thought) to myself, "It yet wants much of sunrise; and it is Easter Sunday; and that is the day on which they celebrate the first fruits of resurrection. I will walk abroad; old griefs shall be forgotten to-day; for the air is cool and still, and the hills are high, and stretch away to heaven; and the forest glades are as quiet as the church-yard; and with the dew I can wash the fever from my forehead, and then I shall be unhappy no longer." And I turned, as if to open my garden gate; and immediately I saw upon the left a scene far different; but which yet the power of dreams had reconciled into harmony with the other. The scene was an oriental one; and there also it was Easter Sunday, and very early in the morning. And at a vast distance were visible, as a stain upon the horizon, the domes and cupolas of a great city - an image or faint abstraction, caught, perhaps, in childhood, from some picture of Jerusalem. And not a bow-shot from me, upon a stone, and shaded by Judean palms, there sat a woman; and I looked, and it was Ann! She fixed her eyes upon me earnestly; and I said to her, at length, "So, then, I have found you, at last." I waited; but she answered me not a word. Her face was the same as when I saw it last, and yet, again, how different! Seventeen years ago, when the lamp-light fell upon her face, as for the last time I kissed her lips (lips, Ann, that to me were not polluted!), her eyes were streaming with tears; - her tears were now wiped away; 2 she seemed more beautiful than she was at that time, but in all other points the same, and not older. Her

Into these dreams only, it was, with one or two slight exceptions, that any circumstances of physical horror entered. All before had been moral and spiritual terrors. here the main agents were ugly birds, or snakes, or crocodiles, especially the last. The cursed crocodile became to me the object of more horror than almost all the rest. I was compelled to live with him; and (as was always the case, almost, in my dreams) for centuries. I escaped sometimes, and found myself in Chinese houses with cane tables, etc. All the feet of the tables, sofas, etc., soon became instinct with life: the abominable head of the crocodile, and his leering eyes, looked out at me, multiplied into a thousand repetitions; and I stood loathing and fascinated. And so often did this hideous reptile haunt my dreams, that many times the very same dream was broken up in the very same way I heard gentle voices speaking to me (I hear everything when I am sleeping), and instantly I awoke: it was broad noon, and my children were standing, hand in hand, at my bedside, come to show me their coloured shoes, or new frocks, or to let me see them dressed for going out. I protest that so awful was the transition from the damned crocodile, and the other unutterable monsters and abortions of my dreams, to the sight of innocent human natures and of infancy, that, in the mighty and sudden revulsion of mind, I wept, and could not forbear it, as I kissed their faces. June, 1819. I thought that it was a Sunday morning in May; that it was Easter Sunday, and as yet very early in the morning. I was standing, as it seemed to me, at the door of my own cottage. Right before me lay the very scene which could really be commanded from that situation, but exalted, as was usual, and







1 a poor girl who had befriended him when he ran away from school and came to London 2 Cf. Revelation, vii: 17 and xxi: 4.

looks were tranquil, but with unusual solemnity of expression, and I now gazed upon her with some awe; but suddenly her countenance grew dim, and, turning to the mountains, I perceived vapours rolling between us; in a moment, all had vanished; thick darkness came on; and in the twinkling of an eye I was far away from mountains, and by lamplight in Oxford-street, walking again with Ann - just as we walked seventeen years before, when we were both children.

As a final specimen, I cite one of a different character, from 1820.


The dream commenced with a music which now I often heard in dreams a music of preparation and of awakening suspense; a music like the opening of the Coronation Anthem, and which, like that, gave the feeling of a vast march, of infinite cavalcades filing off, and the tread of innumerable armies. The morning was come of a mighty day — a day of crisis and of final hope for human nature, then suffering some mysterious eclipse, and labouring in some dread extremity. Somewhere, I knew not where somehow, I knew not how - by some beings, I knew not whom a battle, a strife, an agony, was conducting, was evolving like a great drama, or piece of music; with which my sympathy was the more insupportable from my confusion as to its place, its cause, its nature, and its possible issue. I, as is usual in dreams (where, of necessity, we make ourselves central to every movement), had the power, and yet had not the power, to decide it. I had the power, if I could raise myself, to will it; and yet again had not the power, for the weight of twenty Atlantics was upon me, or the oppression of inexpiable guilt. "Deeper than ever plummet sounded," I lay inactive. Then, like a chorus, the passion deepened. Some greater interest was at stake; some mightier cause than ever yet the sword had pleaded, or trumpet had proclaimed. Then came sudden alarms; hurryings to and fro; trepidations of innumerable fugitives. I knew not whether from the good cause or the bad; darkness and lights; tempest and human faces; and at last, with the sense that all was lost, female forms, and the features that were worth all the world to me, and but a moment allowed,


1 The music was written in 1727 by Handel for the coronation of George II. 2 Cf. The Tempest, III, iii, 101.

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A man must serve his time to every trade, Save censure critics all are ready made. Take hackney'd jokes from Miller,2 got by rote, With just enough of learning to misquote; 66 A mind well skill'd to find or forge a fault; A turn for punning, call it Attic salt; To Jeffrey go, be silent and discreet, His pay is just ten sterling pounds per sheet: Fear not to lie, 'twill seem a lucky hit; Shrink not from blasphemy, 'twill pass for wit: Care not for feeling - pass your proper jest, And stand a critic, hated yet caress'd. And shall we own such judgment? no- as




Seek roses in December, ice in June;
Hope constancy in wind, or corn in chaff,
Believe a woman, or an epitaph,
Or any other thing that's false, before
You trust in critics who themselves are sore;
Or yield one single thought to be misled
By Jeffrey's heart, or Lambe's Boeotian head."


Behold! in various throngs the scribbling


For notice eager, pass in long review;
Each spurs his jaded Pegasus apace,
And rhyme and blank maintain an equal race,

1 Par. Lost, II, 648-814. 2 Joe Miller's Jestbook, pub. 1730 and many times reprinted · proverbial for stale jokes 3 Francis Lord Jeffrey, editor of the Edinburgh Review 4 Byron said: "Messrs. Jeffrey and Lambe are the Alpha and Omega of the Edinburgh Review." The Boeotians were proverbial for stupidity.

Sonnets on sonnets crowd, and ode on ode; 141
And tales of terror jostle on the road;
Immeasurable measures1 move along;
For simpering Folly loves a varied song,
To strange mysterious Dullness still the friend,
Admires the strain she cannot comprehend.
Thus Lays of Minstrels may they be the


On half-strung harps whine mournful to the blast.

While mountain spirits prate to river sprites, That dames may listen to their sound at night;

And goblin brats of Gilpin Horner's brood,2 151
Decoy young border-nobles through the wood.
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows

While high-born ladies in their magic cell,
Forbidding knights to read who cannot spell,
Despatch a courier to a wizard's grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.
Next view in state, proud prancing on his


The golden-crested haughty Marmion,
Now forging scrolls, now foremost in the fight,
Not quite a felon, yet but half a knight,
The gibbet or the field prepared to grace
A mighty mixture of the great and base.
And think'st thou, Scott! by vain conceit per-


On public taste to foist thy stale romance, Though Murray with his Miller 3 may combine To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line? No! when the sons of song descend to trade, Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade. Let such forego the poet's sacred name, Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame: Low may they sink to merited contempt, And scorn remunerate the mean attempt! Such be their meed, such still the just reward Of prostituted muse and hireling bard! For this we spurn Apollo's venal son, And bid a long "good night to Marmion."4 These are the themes that claim our plaudits now;

These are the bards to whom the muse must bow: 180

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Though burnt by wicked Bedford for a witch,
Behold her statue placed in glory's niche,
Her fetters burst, and just released from

A virgin Phoenix from her ashes risen.
Next see tremendous Thalaba3 come on,
Arabia's monstrous, wild, and wondrous son;
Domdaniel's dread destroyer, who o'erthrew
More mad magicians than the world e'er knew.
Immortal hero! all thy foes o'ercome,
Forever reign - the rival of Tom Thumb!
Since startled metre fled before thy face, 211
Well wert thou doom'd the last of all thy race!
Well might triumphant Genii bear thee hence,
Illustrious conqueror of common sense!
Now, last and greatest, Madoc3 spreads his

Cacique in Mexico, and Prince in Wales;
Tells us strange tales, as other travellers do,
More old than Mandeville's, and not so true.
Oh! Southey, Southey! cease thy varied

A Bard may chaunt too often and too long: 220
As thou art strong in verse, in mercy spare!
A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.
But if, in spite of all the world can say,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;
If still in Berkley ballads, most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil,
The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue;
"God help thee," Southey, and thy readers



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1a famous Portuguese epic poet (1524-80) a famous Italian epic poet (1544-95) 3 epics by Southey a seminary for evil magicians held in a cave in Arabia; its destruction is the theme of Thalaba 5 chief "The Old Woman of Berkley, a ballad by Southey, wherein an aged gentlewoman is carried away by Beelzebub, on a ‘hightrotting horse."" - Byron's note.


The simple Wordsworth, framer of a lay
As soft as evening in his favourite May;
Who warns his friend "to shake off toil and

And quit his books, for fear of growing double;"


Who, both by precept and example, shows
That prose is verse, and verse is merely prose,
Convincing all, by demonstration plain,
Poetic souls delight in prose insane;
And Christmas stories, tortured into rhyme,
Contain the essence of the true sublime:
Thus when he tells the tale of Betty Foy,
The idiot mother of "an idiot Boy;"
A moon-struck silly lad who lost his way,
And, like his bard, confounded night with day;
So close on each pathetic part he dwells,
And each adventure so sublimely tells,
That all who view the "idiot in his glory,"
Conceive the Bard the hero of the story.

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