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Melts mist-like into this bright hour, and this

I scarce believe, and all the rich to come

Reels, as the golden Autumn woodland reels

Athwart the smoke of burning leaves. Forgive me,

I waste my heart in signs : let be. My bride,
My wife, my life. O we will walk this world,

Yoked in all exercise of noble end,

And so thro' those dark gates across the wild That no man knows. Indeed I love thee: come,

Yield thyself up: my hopes and thine are one :
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me.'

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So closed our tale, of which I give you all

The random scheme as wildly as it rose:

The words are mostly mine ; for when we ceased There came a minute's pause, and Walter said, • I wish she had not yielded !' then to me, • What, if you drest it up poetically!'

, So pray'd the men,

the women: I


gave assent:

Yet how to bind the scatter'd scheme of seven

Together in one sheaf? What style could suit ?

The men required that I should give throughout

The sort of mock-heroic gigantesque,

With which we banter'd little Lilia first :

The women—and perhaps they felt their power, For something in the ballads which they sang,

Or in their silent influence as they sat,

Had ever seem'd to wrestle with burlesque.

And drove us, last, to quite a solemn close

They hated banter, wish'd for something real,
A gallant fight, a noble princess—why

Not make her true-heroic, true-sublime ?

Or all, they said, as earnest as the close ?

Which yet with such a framework scarce could be.

Then rose a little feud betwixt the two,

Betwixt the mockers and the realists :
And I, betwixt them both, to please them both,

And yet to give the story as it rose,
I moved as in a strange diagonal,

And maybe neither pleased myself nor them.

But Lilia pleased me, for she took no part In our dispute : the sequel of the tale Had touch'd her ; and she sat, she pluck'd the grass, She flung it from her, thinking : last, she fixt

A showery glance upon her aunt and said

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• You—tell us what we are' who might have

For she was cramm’d with theories out of books,

But that there rose a shout : the gates were closed

At sunset and the crowd were swarming now,

To take their leave, about the garden rails.

So I and some went out to these : we climb'd

The slope to Vivian-place, and turning saw

The happy vallies half in light and half
Far-shadowing from the west, a land of peace :

Gray halls alone among their massive groves ;

Trim hamlets ; here and there a rustic tower

Half-lost in belts of hop and breadths of wheat ;
The shimmering glimpses of a stream ; the seas ;
A red sail, or a white; and far beyond,
Imagined more than seen, the skirts of France.

• Look there, a garden !' said my college friend The Tory member's elder son and there ! God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off, And keeps our Britain, whole within herself, A nation yet, the rulers and the ruled

Some sense of duty, something of a faith,


Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made,

Some patient force to change them when we will,
Some civic manhood firm against the crowd
But yonder, whiff! there comes a sudden heat,
The gravest citizen seems to lose his head,
The king is scared, the soldier will not fight,
The little boys begin to shoot and stab,
A kingdom topples over with a shriek

Like an old woman, and down rolls the world

In mock heroics stranger than our own;
Revolts, republics, revolutions, all
No graver than a schoolboys' barring out ;
Too comic for the solemn things they are,
Too solemn for the comic touches in them,

Like our wild Princess with as wise a dream

As some of theirs-God bless the narrow seas !

I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad.'

• Have patience,' I replied, ' ourselves are full

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