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Full text of "Red cotton night-cap country or Turf and towers"

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Red Cotton Night-Cap Country 



OR 



(L/urf mitr Sofocts 



BY 



ROBERT BROWNING 



LONDON 
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE 

1873 

[The right of Translation is reserved} 



To 



Miss Thackeray 



> 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 



TURF AND TOWERS 



I 
And so, here happily we meet, fair friend ! 
Again once more, as if the years rolled back 
And this our meeting-place were just that Rome 
Out in the champaign, say, o'er-rioted 
By verdure, ravage, and gay winds that war 
Against strong sunshine settled to his sleep ; 

B 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

OR 

TURF AND TOWERS 



I 

And so, here happily we meet, fair friend ! 
Again once more, as if the years rolled back 
And this our meeting-place were just that Rome 
Out in the champaign, say, o'er-rioted 
By verdure, ravage, and gay winds that war 
Against strong sunshine settled to his sleep ; 

B 



2 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Or on the Paris Boulevard, might it prove, 

You and I came together saunteringly, 

Bound for some shop-front in the Place Vendome — 

Gold-smithy and Golconda mine, that makes 

" The Firm-Miranda " blazed about the world — 

Or, what if it were London, where my toe 

Trespassed upon your flounce ? " Small blame," you smile, 

Seeing the Stair-case Party in the Square 

Was Small and Early, and you broke no rib. 

Even as we met where we have met so oft, 
Now meet we on this unpretending beach 
Below the little village : little, ay ! 
But pleasant, may my gratitude subjoin ? 
Meek, hitherto un-Murrayed bathing-place, 

Best loved of sea-coast-nook-ful Normandy ! 

■ 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

That, just behind you, is mine own hired house : 

With right of path-way through the field in front, 

No prejudice to all its growth unsheaved 

Of emerald luzern bursting into blue. 

Be sure I keep the path that hugs the wall,. 

Of mornings, as I pad from door to gate ! 

Yon yellow — what if not wild-mustard flower ?— 

Of that, my naked sole makes lawful prize, 

Bruising the acrid aromatics out, 

Till, what they preface, good salt savours sting 

From, first, the sifted sands, then sands in slab, 

Smooth save for pipy wreath-work of the worm : 

(Granite and muscle-shell are ground alike 

To glittering paste, — the live worm troubles yet.) 

Then, dry and moist, the varech limit-line, 

Burnt cinder-black, with brown uncrumpled swathe 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of berried softness, sea-swoln thrice its size ; 

And, lo, the wave protrudes a lip at last, 

And flecks my foot with froth, nor tempts in vain. 

Such is Saint-Rambert, wilder very much 
Than Joyeux, that famed Joyous-Gard of yours, 
Some five miles farther down ; much homelier too- 
Right for me, — right for you the fine and fair ! 
Only, I could endure a transfer — wrought 
By angels famed still, through our countryside, 
For weights they fetched and carried in old time 
When nothing like the need was — transfer, just 
Of Joyeux church, exchanged for yonder prig, 
Our brand-new stone cream-coloured masterpiece. 

Well — and you know, and not since this one year, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

The quiet seaside country ? So do I : 

And like it, in a manner, just because 

Nothing is prominently likeable 

To vulgar eye without a soul behind, 

Which, breaking surface, brings before the ball 

Of sight, a beauty buried everywhere.' 

If we have souls, know how to see and use, 

One place performs, like any other place, 

The proper service every place on earth 

Was framed to furnish man with : serves alike 

To give him note that, through the place he sees, 

A place is signified he never saw, 

But, if he lack not soul, may learn to know. 

Earth's ugliest walled and ceiled imprisonment 

May suffer, through its single rent in roof, 

Admittance of a cataract of light 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Beyond attainment through earth's palace-panes 

Pinholed athwart their windowed filagree 

By twinklings sobered from the sun outside. 

Doubtless the High Street of our village here 

Imposes hardly as Rome's Corso could : 

And our projected race for sailing-boats 

Next Sunday, when we celebrate our Saint, 

Falls very short of that attractiveness, 

That artistry in festive spectacle, 

Paris ensures you when she welcomes back 

(When shall it be ?) the Assembly from Versailles ; 

While the best fashion and intelligence 

Collected at the counter of our Mayor 

(Dry goods he deals in, grocery beside) 

What time the post-bag brings the news from Vire,— 

I fear me much, it scarce would hold its own, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

That circle, that assorted sense and wit, 
With Five o'clock Tea in a house we know. 

Still, 'tis the check that gives the leap its lift. 
The nullity of cultivated souls, 
Even advantaged by their news from Vire, 
Only conduces to enforce the truth 
That, thirty paces off, this natural blue 
Broods o'er a bag of secrets, all unbroached, 
Beneath the bosom of the placid deep, 
Since first the Post Director sealed them safe ; 
And formidable I perceive this fact — 
Little Saint-Rambert touches the great sea. 
From London, Paris, Rome, where men are men, 
Not mice, and mice not Mayors presumably, 
Thought scarce may leap so fast, alight so far. 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

But this is a pretence, you understand, 

Disparagement in play, to parry thrust 

Of possible objector : nullity 

And ugliness, the taunt be his, not mine 

Nor yours, — I think we know the world too well ! 

Did you walk hither, jog it by the plain, 

Or jaunt it by the highway, braving bruise 

From springless and uncushioned vehicle ? 

Much, was there not, in place and people both, 

To lend an eye to ? and what eye like yours — 

The learned eye is still the loving one ! 

Our land ; its quietude, productiveness, 

Its length and breadth of grain-crop, meadow-ground, 

Its orchards in the pasture, farms a-field 

And hamlets on the road-edge, nought you missed 

Of one and all the sweet rusticities ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

From stalwart strider by the waggon -side, 
Brightening the acre with his purple blouse, 
To those dark-featured comely women-folk, 
Healthy and tall, at work, and work indeed, 
On every cottage door- step, plying brisk 
Bobbins that bob you ladies out such lace ! 
Oh, you observed ! and how that nimble play 
Of finger formed the sole exception, bobbed 
The one disturbance to the peace of things, 
Where nobody esteems it worth his while, 
If time upon the clock-face goes asleep, 
To give the rusted hands a helpful push. 
Nobody lifts an energetic thumb 
And index to remove some dead and gone 
Notice which, posted on the barn, repeats 
For truth what two years' passage made a lie, 



RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

Still is for sale, next June, that same chateau 
With all its immobilities, — were sold 
Duly next June behind the last but last ; 
And, woe's me, still placards the Emperor 
His confidence in war he means to wage, 
God aiding and the rural populace. 
No : rain and wind must rub the rags away 
And let the lazy land untroubled snore. 

Ah, in good truth ? and did the drowsihead 
So suit, so soothe the learned loving eye, 
That you were minded to confer a crown, 
(Does not the poppy boast such?) call the land 
By one slow hither-thither stretching, fast 
Subsiding-into-slumber sort of name, 
Symbolic of the place and people too, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS u 

" White Cotton Night-cap Country ? " Excellent ! 

For they do, all, dear women young and old, 

Upon the heads of them bear notably 

This badge of soul and body in repose ; 

Nor its fine thimble fits the acorn-top, 

Keeps woolly ward above that oval brown, 

Its placid feature, more than muffier makes 

A safeguard, circumvents intelligence 

In — what shall evermore be named and famed, 

If happy nomenclature aught avail, 

" White Cotton Night-cap Country" 

Do I hear — 
Oh, better, very best of all the news — 
You mean to catch and cage the winged word, 
And make it breed and multiply at home 



12 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Till Norman idlesse stock our England too ? 

Normandy shown minute yet magnified 

In one of those small books, the truly great, 

We never know enough, yet know so well ? 

How I foresee the cursive diamond-dints, — 

Composite pen that plays the pencil too, — 

As, touch the page and up the glamour goes, 

And filmily o'er grain-crop, meadow-ground, 

O'er orchard in the pasture, farm a-field 

And hamlet on the road-edge, floats and forms 

And falls, at lazy last of all, the Cap 

That crowns the country ! we, awake outside, 

Farther than ever from the imminence 

Of what cool comfort, what close coverture 

Your magic, deftly weaving, shall surround 

The unconscious captives with. Be theirs to drowse 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 13 

Trammeled, and ours to watch the trammel-trick! 
Ours be it, as we con the book of books, 
To wonder how is winking possible ! 

All hail, " White Cotton Night-cap Country," then ! 
And yet, as on the beach you promise book, — 
On beach, mere razor-edge 'twixt earth and sea, 
I stand at such a distance from the world 
That 'tis the whole world which obtains regard, 
Rather than any part, though part presumed 
A perfect little province in itself, 
When wayfare made acquaintance first therewith. 
So standing, therefore, on this edge of things, 
What if the backward glance I gave, return 
Loaded with other spoils of vagrancy 
Than I despatched it for, till I propose 



i 4 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The question — puzzled by the sudden store 
Officious fancy plumps beneath my nose — 
" Which sort of Night-cap have you glorified ? " 

You would be gracious to my ignorance : 

"What other. Night- cap than the normal one?— 

Old honest guardian of man's head and hair 

In its elastic yet continuous, soft, 

No less persisting, circumambient gripe, 

Night's notice, life is respited from day ! 

Its form and fashion vary, suiting so 

Each seasonable want of youth and age. 

In infancy, the rosy naked ball 

Of brain, and that faint golden fluff it bears, 

Are smothered from disaster, — nurses know 

By what foam-fabric ; but when youth succeeds, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS ' 

The sterling value of the article 
Discards adornment, cap is cap henceforth 
Unfeathered by the futile row on row. 
Manhood strains hard a sturdy stocking-stuff 
O'er well-deserving head and ears : the cone 
Is tassel-tipt, commendably takes pride, 
Announcing workday done and wages pouched, 
And liberty obtained to sleep, nay, snore. 
Unwise, he peradventure shall essay 
The sweets of independency for once — 
Waive its advantage on his wedding-night : * 
Fool, only to resume it, night the next, 
And never part companionship again. 
Since, with advancing years, night's solace soon 
Intrudes upon the daybreak dubious life, 
Persuades it to appear the thing it is, 



16 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Half-sleep ; and so, encroaching more and more, 

It lingers long past the abstemious meal 

Of morning, and, as prompt to serve, precedes 

The supper-summons, gruel grown a feast. 

Finally, when the last sleep finds the eye 

So tired it cannot even shut itself, 

Does not a kind domestic hand unite 

Friend to friend, lid from lid to part no more, 

Consigned alike to that receptacle 

So bleak without, so warm and white within ? 

" Night-caps, night comfort of the human race : 

Their usage may be growing obsolete, 

Still, in the main, the institution stays. 

And though yourself may possibly have lived, 

And probably will die, undignified — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 17 

The Never-night-capped — more experienced folk 
Laugh you back answer — What should Night-cap be 
Save Night-cap pure and simple ? Sorts of such ? 
Take cotton for the medium, cast an eye 
This side to comfort, lambswool or the like, 
That side to frilly cambric costliness, 
And all between proves Night-cap proper." Add 
" Fiddle ! " and I confess the argument. 

Only, your ignoramus here again 
Proceeds as tardily to recognise 
Distinctions : ask him what a fiddle means, 
And " Just a fiddle " seems the apt reply. 
Yet, is not there, while we two pace the beach, 
This blessed moment, at your Kensington, 
A special Fiddle- Show and rare array 
c 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of all the sorts were ever set to cheek, 

'Stablished on clavicle, sawn bow-hand-wise, 

Or touched lute-fashion and fore-finger-plucked? 

I doubt not there be duly catalogued 

Achievements all and some of Italy, 

Guarnerius, Straduarius, — old and new, 

Augustly rude, refined to finicking, 

This mammoth with his belly full of blare, 

That mouse of music — inch-long silvery wheeze. 

And here a specimen has effloresced 

Into the scroll-head, there subsides supreme, 

And with the tail-piece satisfies mankind. 

Why should I speak of woods, grains, stains 

and streaks, 
The topaz varnish or the ruby gum ? 
We preferably pause where tickets teach 



OR TURF AND 10WERS 19 

"Over this sample would Corelli croon, 
Grieving, by minors, like the cushat-dove, 
Most dulcet Giga, dreamiest Saraband." 
" From this did Paganini comb the fierce 
Electric sparks, or to tenuity- 
Pull forth the inmost wailing of the wire — 
No cat-gut could swoon out so much of soul ! " 

Three hundred violin-varieties 
Exposed to public view ! And dare I doubt 
Some future enterprise shall give the world 
Quite as remarkable a Night-cap-show ? 
Methinks, we, arm-in-arm, that festal day, 
Pace the long range of relics shrined aright, 
Framed, glazed, each cushioned curiosity, 
And so begin to smile and to inspect : 



o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" Pope's sickly head-sustainment, damped with dews 

Wrung from die all-unfair fight — such a frame — 

Though doctor and the devil helped their best — 

Fought such a world that, waiving doctor's help, 

Had the mean devil at its service too ! 

Voltaire's imperial velvet ! Hogarth eyed 

The thumb-nail record of some alley-phiz, 

Then chucklingly clapped yonder cosiness 

On pate, and painted with true flesh and blood ! 

Poor hectic Cowper's soothing sarsnet-stripe ! " 

And so we profit by the catalogue, 

Somehow our smile subsiding more and more, 

Till we decline into . . but no ! shut eyes 

And hurry past the shame uncoffined here, 

The hangman's toilet ! If we needs must trench, 

For science' sake which craves completeness still, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 21 

On the sad confine, not the district's self, 

The object that shall close review may be . . . 

Well, it is French, and here are we in France : 

It is historic, and we live to learn, 

And try to karn by reading story-books. 

It is an incident of 'Ninety-two, 

And, twelve months since, the Commune had the sway. 

Therefore resolve that, after all the Whites 

Presented you, a solitary Red 

Shall pain us both, a minute and no more ! 

Do not you see poor Louis pushed to front 

Of palace-window, in persuasion's name, 

A spectacle above the howling mob 

Who tasted, as it were, with tiger-smack, 

The outstart, the first spirt of blood on brow, 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The Phrygian symbol, the new crown of thorns, 
The Cap of Freedom ? See the feeble mirth 
At odds with that half-purpose to be strong 
And merely patient under misery ! 
And note the ejaculation, ground so hard 
Between his teeth, that only God could hear, 
As the lean pale proud insignificance 
With the sharp-featured liver-worried stare 
Out of the two grey points that did him stead 
And passed their eagle-owner to the front 
Better than his mob-elbowed undersize, — 
The Corsican lieutenant commented 
" Had I but one good regiment of my own, 
How soon should vollies to the due amount 
Lay stiff upon the street-flags this canaille ! 
As for the droll there, he that plays the king 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 23 

And screws out smile with a Red night-cap on, 
He's done for ! somebody must take his place." 
White Cotton Night-cap Country: excellent ! 
Why not Red Cotton Night-cap Country too ? 

" Why not say swans are black and blackbirds white, 

Because the instances exist ? " you ask. 

" Enough that white, not red, predominates, 

Is normal, typical, in cleric phrase 

Quod semely semper, et ubique." Here, 

Applying such a name to such a land, 

Especially you find inopportune, 

Impertinent, my scruple whether white 

Or red describes the local colour best. 

" Let be," (you say) " the universe at large 

Supplied us with exceptions to the rule, 



24 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

So manifold, they bore no passing-by, — 
Little Saint- Rambert has conserved at least 
The pure tradition : white from head to heel, 
Where is a hint of the ungracious hue ? 
See, we have traversed with hop, step and jump, 
From heel to head, the main-street in a trice, 
Measured the garment (help my metaphor !) 
Not merely criticised the cap, forsooth ; 
And were you pricked by that collecting-itch, 
That pruriency for writing o'er your reds 
' Rare, rarer, rarest, not rare but unique,' — 
The shelf, Saint- Rambert, of your cabinet, 
Unlabelled, — virginal, no Rahab-thread 
For blushing token of the spy's success, — 
Would taunt with vacancy, I undertake ! 
What, yonder is your best apology, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 25 

Pretence at most approach to naughtiness, 
Impingement of the ruddy on the blank ? 
This is the criminal Saint- Rambertese 
Who smuggled in tobacco, half-a-pound ! 
The Octroi found it out and fined the wretch. 
This other is the culprit who dispatched 
A hare, he thought a hedgehog, (clods obstruct) 
Unfurnished with Permission for the Chase ! 
As to the womankind — renounce from those 
The hope of .getting a companion-tinge, 
First faint 'touch promising romantic fault ! " 

Enough : there stands Red Cotton Night- cap shelf — 
A cavern's ostentatious vacancy — 
My contribution to the show ; while yours — 
White, heaps your row of pegs from every hedge 



26 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Outside, and house inside Saint- Rambert here — 
We soon have come to end of. See, the church 
With its white steeple gives your challenge point, 
Perks as it were the night- cap of the town, 
Starchedly warrants all beneath is matched 
By all above, one snowy innocence ! 

You put me on my mettle. British maid 
And British man, suppose we have it out 
Here in the fields, decide the question so ? 
Then, British fashion, shake hands hard again, 
Go home together, friends the more confirmed 
That one of us — assuredly myself — 
Looks puffy about eye, and pink at nose ? 
Which " pink " reminds me that the arduousness 
We both acknowledge in the enterprise, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 27 

Claims, counts upon a large and liberal 

Acceptance of as good as victory 

In whatsoever just escapes defeat. 

You must be generous, strain point, and call 

Victory, any the least flush of pink 

Made prize of, labelled scarlet for the nonce — 

Faintest pretension to be wrong and red 

And picturesque, that varies by a splotch 

The righteous flat of insipidity. 

Quick to the quest, then — forward, the firm foot ! 

Onward, the quarry-overtaking eye ! 

For what is this, by way of march-tune, makes 

The musicalest buzzing at my ear 

By reassurance of that promise old 

Though sins are scarlet they shall be as wool ? 



28 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Whence — what fantastic hope do I deduce ? 
I am no Liebig : when the dyer dyes 
A texture, can the red dye prime the white ? 
And if we washed well, wrung the texture hard, 
Would we arrive, here, there and everywhere, 
At a fierce ground beneath the surface meek ? 

I take the first chance, rub to threads what rag 

Shall flutter snowily in sight. For see ! 

Already these few yards upon the rise, 

Our back to brave Saint-Rambert, how we reach 

The open, at a dozen steps or strides ! 

Turn round and look about, a breathing-while ! 

There lie, out-spread at equidistance, thorpes 

And villages and towns along the coast, 

Distinguishable, each and all alike, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 29 

By white persistent Night-cap, spire on spire. 

Take the left : yonder town is — what say you 

If I say " Londres "? Ay, the mother-mouse \ 

(Reversing fable, as truth can and will) 

Which gave our mountain of a London birth ! 

This is the Conqueror's country, bear in mind, 

And Londres-district blooms with London-pride. 

Turn round : La Roche, to right, where oysters thrive : 

Monlieu — the lighthouse is a telegraph; 

This, full in front, Saint-Rambert ; then succeeds 

Villeneuve, and Pons the Young with Pons the Old, 

And — ere faith points to Joyeux, out of sight, 

A little nearer — oh, La Ravissante ! 

There now is something like a Night-cap spire, 
Donned by no ordinary Notre-Dame ! 



30 RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

For, one of the three safety-guards of France, 

You front now, lady ! Nothing intercepts 

The privilege, by crow-flight, two miles far. 

She and her sisters Lourdes and La Salette" 

Are at this moment hailed the cynosure 

Of poor dear France, such waves have buffeted 

Since she eschewed infallibility 

And chose to steer by the vague compass-box. 

This same midsummer month, a week ago, 

Was not the memorable day observed 

For reinstatement of the misused Three 

In old supremacy for evermore ? 

Did not the faithful flock in pilgrimage 

By railway, diligence and steamer — nay 

On foot with staff and scrip, to see the sights 

Assured them ? And I say best sight was here : 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 31 

And nothing justified the rival Two 

In their pretension to equality; 

Our folk laid out their ticket-money best, 

And wiseliest, if they walked, wore shoe away; 

Not who went farther only to fare worse. 

For, what was seen at Lourdes and La Salette 

Except a couple of the common cures 

Such as all three can boast of, any day ? 

While here it was, here and by no means there, 

That the Pope's self sent two great real gold crowns 

As thick with jewelry as thick could stick, 

His present to the Virgin and her Babe — 

Provided for — who knows not ? — by that fund, 

Count Alessandro Sforza's legacy, 

Which goes to crown some Virgin every year. 

But this year, Pope was in the prison-house, 



32 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And money had to go for something else ; 

And therefore, though their present seemed the Pope's, 

The faithful of our province raised the sum 

Preached and prayed out of — nowise purse alone. 

Gentle and simple paid in kind, not cash, 

The most part : the great lady gave her brooch, 

The peasant-girl, her hair-pin ; 'twas the rough 

Bluff farmer mainly who, — admonished well 

By wife to care lest his new colewort-crop 

Stray sorrowfully sparse like last year's seed, — 

Lugged from reluctant pouch the fifty-franc, 

And had the Cure's hope that rain would cease. 

And so, the sum in evidence at length, 

Next step was to obtain the donative 

By the spontaneous bounty of the Pope — 

No easy matter, since his Holiness 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 33 

Had turned a deaf ear, long and long ago, 
To much entreaty on our Bishop's part, 
Commendably we boast. " But no," quoth he, 
" Image and image needs must take their turn : 
Here stand a dozen as importunate." 
Well, we were patient; but the cup ran o'er 
When — who was it pressed in and took the prize 
But our own offset, set far off indeed 
To grow by help of our especial name, 
She of the Ravissante — in Martinique ! 
" What ? " cried our patience at the boiling-point, 
" The daughter crowned, the mother's head goes bare ? 
Bishop of Raimbaux ! " — that's our diocese — 
" Thou hast a summons to repair to Rome, 
Be efficacious at the Council there : 
Now is the time or never ! Right our wrong ! 
u 



34 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Hie thee away, thou valued Morillon, 

And have the promise, thou who hast the vote ! " 

So said, so done, so followed in due course 

(To cut the story short) this festival, 

This famous Twenty-second, seven days since. 

Oh, but you heard at Joyeux ! Pilgrimage, 
Concourse, procession with, to head the host, 
Cardinal Mirecourt, quenching lesser lights : 
The leafy street-length through, decked end to end 
With August-strippage, and adorned with flags, 
That would have waved right well but that it rained 
Just this picked day, by some perversity. 
And so were placed, on Mother and on Babe, 
The pair of crowns : the Mother's, you must see ! 
Miranda, the great Paris goldsmith, made 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 35 

The marvel, — he's a neighbour : that's his park 
Before you, tree-topped wall we walk toward. 
His shop it was, turned out the masterpiece, 
Probably at his own expenditure ; 
Anyhow, his was the munificence 
Contributed the central and supreme 
Splendor that crowns the crown itself, The Stone. 
Not even Paris, ransacked, could supply 
That gem : he had to forage in New- York, 
This jeweller, and country-gentleman, 
And most undoubted devotee beside ! 
Worthily wived, too : since his wife it was 
Bestowed " with friendly hand " — befitting phrase ! 
The lace which trims the coronation-robe — 
Stiff wear — a mint of wealth on the brocade. 



36 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Do go and see what I saw yesterday ! 
And, for that matter, see in fancy still, 
Since . . 

There now ! Even for unthankful me, 
Who stuck to my devotions at high-tide 
That festal morning, never had a mind 
To trudge the little league and join the crowd — 
Even for me is miracle vouchsafed ! 
How pointless proves the sneer at miracles ! 
As if, contrariwise to all we want 
And reasonably look to find, they graced 
Merely those graced-before, grace helps no whit, 
Unless, made whole, they need physician still. 
I — sceptical in every inch of me — 
Did I deserve that, from the liquid name 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 37 

" Miranda," — faceted as lovelily 

As his own gift, the gem, — a shaft should shine, 

Bear me along, another Abaris, 

Nor let me light till, lo, the Red is reached, 

And yonder lies in luminosity ! 

Look, lady ! where I bade you glance, but now ! 
Next habitation, though two miles away, — 
No tenement for man or beast between, — 
That, park and domicile, is country-seat 
Of this same good Miranda ! I accept 
The augury. Or there, or nowhere else, 
Will I establish that a Night-cap gleams 
Of visionary Red, not White for once ! 
" Heaven " saith the sage " is with us, here 
inside 



38 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Each man :" " Hell also," simpleness subjoins, 
By White and Red describing human flesh. 

And yet as we continue, quicken pace, 

Approach the object which determines me 

Victorious or defeated, more forlorn 

My chance seems, — that is certainty at least. 

Halt midway, reconnoitre ! Either side 

The path we traverse (turn and see) stretch fields 

Without a hedge : one level, scallop-striped 

With bands of beet and turnip and luzern, 

Limited only by each colour's end, 

Shelves down, — we stand upon an eminence, — 

To where the earth-shell scallops out the sea, 

A sweep of semicircle ; and at edge — 

Just as the milk-white incrustations stud 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 39 

At intervals some shell- extremity, 

So do the little growths attract us here, 

Towns with each name I told you : say, they touch 

The sea, and the sea them, and all is said, 

So sleeps and sets to slumber thaf broad blue ! 

The people are as peaceful as the place. 

This, that I call " the path " is road, highway ; 

But has there passed us by a market-cart, 

Man, woman, child, or dog to wag a tail ? 

True, I saw weeders stooping in a field ; 

But — formidably white the Cap's extent ! 

Round again ! Come, appearance promises ! 
The boundary, the park-wall, ancient brick, 
Upholds a second wall of tree-heads high 
Which overlean its top, a solid green. 



4 o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

That surely ought to shut in mysteries ! 

A jeweller — no unsuggestive craft! 

Trade that admits of much romance, indeed. 

For, whom but goldsmiths used old monarchs pledge 

Regalia to, or seek a ransom from, 

Or pray to furnish dowry, at a pinch, 

According to authentic story-books ? 

Why, such have revolutionized this land 

With diamond-necklace-dealing ! not to speak 

Of families turned upside-down, because 

The gay wives went and pawned clandestinely 

Jewels, and figured, till found out, with paste, 

Or else redeemed them — how, is horrible ! 

Then there are those enormous criminals 

That love their ware and cannot lose their love, 

And murder you to get your purchase back. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 41 

Others go courting after such a stone, 

Make it their mistress, marry for their wife, 

And find out, some day, it was false the while, 

As ever wife or mistress, man too fond 

Has named his Pilgrim, Hermit, Ace of Hearts. 

Beside — what style of edifice begins 
To grow in sight at last and top the scene ? 
That grey roof, with the range of lucarnes, four 
I count, and that erection in the midst — 
Clock-house, or chapel-spire, or what, above ? 
Conventual, that, beyond manorial, sure ! 
And, reason good; for Clairvaux, such its name, 
Was built of old to be a Priory, 
Dependence on that Abbey-for-the-Males 
Our Conqueror founded in world-famous Caen, 



42 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And where his body sought the sepulture, 
It was not to retain : you know the tale. 
Such Priory was Clairvaux, prosperous 
Hundreds of years ; but nothing lasts below, 
And when the Red Cap pushed the Crown aside, 
The Priory became, like all its peers, 
A National Domain : which, bought and sold 
And resold, needs must change, with ownership, 
Both outside show and inside use ; at length 
The messuage, three-and-twenty years ago, 
Became the purchase of rewarded worth 
Impersonate in Father — I must stoop 
To French phrase for precision's sake, I fear — 
Father Miranda, goldsmith of renown : 
By birth, a Madrilene, by domicile 
And sojourning, accepted French at last. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 43 

His energy it was which, trade transferred 
To Paris, throve as with a golden thumb, 
Established in the Place Vendome. He bought 
Not building only, but belongings far 
And wide, at Gonthier there, Monlieu, Villeneuve, 
A plentiful estate : which, twelve years since, 
Passed, at the good man's natural demise, 
To Son and Heir Miranda — Clairvaux here, 
The Paris shop, the mansion — not to say 
Palatial residence on Quai Rousseau, 
With money, moveables, a mine of wealth — 
And young Leonce Miranda got it all. 

Ah, but — whose might the transformation be ? 
Were you prepared for this, now ? As we talked, 
We walked, we entered the half-privacy, 



44 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The partly-guarded precinct : passed beside 
The little paled-off islet, trees and turf, 
Then found us in the main ash-avenue 
Under the blessing of its branchage-roof. 
Till, on emergence, what affronts our gaze ? 
Priory — Conqueror — Abbey-for-the-Males — 
Hey, presto, pass, who conjured all away ? 
Look through the railwork of the gate : a park 
— Yes, but a TAnglaise, as they compliment ! 
Grass like green velvet, gravel-walks like gold, 
Bosses of shrubs, embosomings of flowers, 
Wind you — through sprinkled trees of tiny breed 
Disporting, within reach of coverture, 
By some habitual acquiescent oak 
Or elm, that thinks, and lets the youngsters laugh- 
Wind, waft at last your soul that walks the air, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 45 

Up to the house-front, or its back perhaps — 
Whether facade or no, one coquetry 
Of coloured brick and carved stone ! Stucco ? Well, 
The daintiness is cheery, that I know, 
And all the sportive floral framework fits 
The lightsome purpose of the architect. 
Those lucarnes which I called conventual, late, 
Those are the outlets in the mansard-roof; 
And, underneath, what long light elegance 
Of windows here suggests how brave inside 
Lurk eyeballed gems they play the eyelids to ! 
Festive arrangements look through such, be sure ! 
And now the tower a-top, I took for clock's 
Or bell's abode, turns out a quaint device, 
Pillared and temple-treated Belvedere — 
Pavilion safe within its railed-about 



46 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Sublimity of area — whence what stretch, 
Of sea and land, throughout the seasons' change, 
Must greet the solitary ! Or suppose, 
— If what the husband likes, the wife likes too — 
The happy pair of students cloistered high, 
Alone in April when the Spring arrives ! 
Or no, he mounts there by himself to meet 
Winds, welcome wafts of sea-smell, first white bird 
That flaps thus far to taste the land again, 
And all the promise of the youthful year ; 
Then he descends, unbosoms straight his store 
Of blessings in the bud, and both embrace, 
Husband and wife, since earth is Paradise, 
And man at peace with God. You see it all ? 

Let us complete our survey, go right round 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 47 

The place : for here, it may be, we surprise 

The Priory, — these solid walls, big barns, 

Grey orchard-grounds, huge four-square stores for stock, 

Betoken where the Church was busy once. 

Soon must we come upon the Chapel's self. 

No doubt next turn will treat us to . . Aha, 

Again our expectation proves at fault ! 

Still the bright graceful modern — not to say 

Modish adornment, meets us : Pare Anglais, 

Tree-sprinkle, shrub-embossment as before. 

See, the sun splits on yonder bauble world 

Of silvered glass concentring, every side, 

All the adjacent wonder, made minute 

And touched grotesque by ball-convexity ! 

Just so, a sense that something is amiss, 

Something is out of sorts in the display, 



48 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Affects us, past denial, everywhere. 
The right erection for the Fields, the Wood, 
(Fields — but Ely sees, wood — but de Boulogne) 
Is peradventure wrong for wood and fields 
When Vire, not Paris, plays the Capital. 

So may a good man have deficient taste ; 

Since Son and Heir Miranda, he it was 

Who, six years now elapsed, achieved the work 

And truly made a wilderness to smile. 

Here did their domesticity reside, 

A happy husband and as happy wife, 

Till . . how can I in conscience longer keep 

My little secret that the man is dead 

I, for artistic purpose, talk about 

As if he lived still ? No, these two years now, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 49 

Has he been dead. You ought to sympathise- 
Not mock the sturdy effort to redeem 
My pledge, and wring you out some tragedy 
From even such a perfect common-place ! 
Suppose I boast the death of such desert 
My tragic bit of Red ? Who contravenes 
Assertion that a tragedy exists 
In any stoppage of benevolence. 
Utility, devotion above all ? 
Benevolent ? There never was his like : 
For poverty, he had an open hand 
. . Or stop— I use the wrong expression here — 
An open purse, then, ever at appeal ; 
So that the unreflecting rather taxed 
Profusion than penuriousness in alms. 
One, in his day and generation, deemed 

E 



50 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of use to the community ? I trust 

Clairvaux thus renovate and regalised, 

Paris expounded thus to Normandy, 

Answers that question. Was the man devout ? 

After a life — one mere munificence 

To Church and all things churchly, men or mice,- 

Dying, his last bequeathment gave, land, goods, 

Cash, every stick and stiver, to the Church, 

And notably to that church yonder, that 

Beloved of his soul, La Ravissante — 

Wherefrom, the latest of his gifts, the Stone 

Gratefully bore me as on arrow-flash 

To Clairvaux, as I told you. 

" Ay, to find 
Your Red desiderated article, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 51 

Where every scratch and scrape provokes my White 

To all the more superb a prominence ! 

Why, 'tis the story served up fresh again — 

How it befell the restive prophet old 

Who came and tried to curse but blessed the 

land. 
Come, your last chance ! he disinherited 
Children : he made his widow mourn too much 
By this endowment of the other Bride — 
Nor understood that gold and jewelry 
Adorn her in a figure, not a fact. 
You make the White I want, so very white, 
'Tis I say now — some trace of Red should be 
Somewhere in this Miranda- sanctitude ! " 

Not here, at all events, sweet mocking friend ! 



52 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

For he was childless ; and what heirs he had 
Were an uncertain sort of Cousinry 
Scarce claiming kindred so as to withhold 
The donor's purpose though fantastical : 
Heirs, for that matter, wanting no increase 
Of wealth, since rich already as himself; 
Heirs that had taken trouble off his hands, 
Bought that productive goldsmith-business, he, 
With abnegation wise as rare, renounced 
Precisely at a time of life when youth, 
Nigh on departure, bids mid-age discard 
Life's other loves and likings in a pack, 
To keep, in lucre, comfort worth them all. 
This Cousinry are they who boast the shop 
Of " Firm- Miranda, London and New- York." 
Cousins are an unconscionable kind ; 



OR TURF AND TOWER o 53 

But these — pretension surely on their part 
To share inheritance were too absurd ! 

" Remains then, he dealt wrongly by his wife, 

Despoiled her somehow by such testament ? " 

Farther than ever from the mark, fair friend ! 

The man's love for his wife exceeded bounds 

Rather than failed the limit. 'Twas to live 

Hers and hers only, to abolish earth 

Outside — since Paris holds the pick of earth — 

He turned his back, shut eyes, stopped ears to all 

Delicious Paris tempts her children with, 

And fled away to this far solitude — 

She peopled solitude sufficiently ! 

She, partner in each heavenward flight sublime, 

Was, with each condescension to the ground, 



54 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Duly associate also : hand in hand, 

. . Or side by side, I say by preference— 

On every good work sidlingly they went 

Hers was the instigation — none but she 

Willed that, if death should summon first her lord, 

Though she, sad relict, must drag residue 

Of days encumbered by this load of wealth — 

(Submitted to with something of a grace 

So long as her surviving vigilance 

Might worthily administer, convert 

Wealth to God's glory and the good of man, 

Give, as in life, so now in death, effect 

To cherished purpose) — yet she begged and prayed 

That, when no longer she could supervise 

The House, it should become a Hospital : 

For the support whereof, lands, goods and cash 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 55 

Alike will go, in happy guardianship, 

To yonder church, La Ravissante : who debt 

To God and man undoubtedly will pay. 

" Not of the world, your heroine ! " 

Do you know 
I saw her yesterday — set eyes upon 
The veritable personage, no dream ? 
I in the morning strolled this way, as oft, 
And stood at entry of the avenue. 
When, out from that first garden-gate, we gazed 
Upon and through, a small procession swept — 
Madame Miranda with attendants five. 
First, of herself : she wore a soft and white 
Engaging dress, with velvet stripes and squares 



56 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Severely black, yet scarce discouraging : 

Fresh Paris-manufacture ! (Vire's would do ? 

I doubt it, but confess my ignorance.) 

Her figure ? somewhat small and darlinglike, 

Her face ? well, singularly colourless, 

For first thing : which scarce suits a blonde, you know. 

Pretty you would not call her : though perhaps 

Attaining to the ends of prettiness 

And somewhat more, suppose enough of soul. 

Then she is forty full : you cannot judge 

What beauty was her portion at eighteen, 

The age she married at. So, colourless 

I stick to, and if featureless I add, 

Your notion grows completer : for, although 

I noticed that her nose was aquiline, 

The whole effect amounts with me to — blank ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 57 

I never saw what I could less describe. 
The eyes, for instance, unforgettable 
Which ought to be, are out of mind as sight. 

Yet is there not conceivably a face, 

A set of wax-like features, blank at first, 

Which, as you bendingly grow warm above, 

Begins to take impressment from your breath ? 

Which, as your will itself were plastic here 

Nor needed exercise of handicraft, 

From formless moulds itself to correspond 

With all you think and feel and are — in fine 

Grows a new revelation of yourself, 

Who know now for the first time what you want ? 

Here has been something that could wait awhile, 

Learn your requirement, nor take shape before, 



58 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

But, by adopting it, make palpable 

Your right to an importance of your own, 

Companions somehow were so slow to see ! 

— Far delicater solace to conceit 

Than should some absolute and final face, 

Fit representative of soul inside, 

Summon you to surrender — in no way 

Your breath's impressment, nor, in stranger's guise, 

Yourself — or why of force to challenge you ? 

Why should your soul's reflexion rule your soul ? 

(" You " means not you, nor me, nor anyone 

Framed, for a reason I shall keep suppressed, 

To rather want a master than a slave : 

The slavish still aspires to dominate !) 

So, all I say is, that the face, to me 

One blurr of blank, might flash significance 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 59 

To who had seen his soul reflected there 

By that symmetric silvery phantom-like 

Figure, with other five processional. 

The first, a black-dressed matron — may be, maid 

Mature, and dragonish of aspect, — marched ; 

Then four came tripping in a joyous flock, 

Two giant goats and two prodigious sheep 

Pure as the arctic fox that suits the snow, 

Tripped, trotted, turned the march to merriment, 

But ambled at their mistress' heel — for why ? 

A rod of guidance marked the Chatelaine, 

And ever and anon would sceptre wave, 

And silky subject leave meandering. 

Nay, one great naked sheep-face stopped to ask 

Who was the stranger, snuffed inquisitive 

My hand that made acquaintance with its nose, 



60 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Examined why the hand — of man at least — 

Patted so lightly, warmly, so like life ! 

Are they such silly natures after all ? 

And thus accompanied, the paled-off space, 

Isleted shrubs and verdure, gained the group ; 

Till, as I gave a furtive glance, and saw 

Her back-hair was a block of solid gold, 

The gate shut out my harmless question — Hair 

So young and yellow, crowning sanctity, 

And claiming solitude . . can hair be false ? 

" Shut in the hair and with it your last hope 
Yellow might on inspection pass for Red ! — 
Red, Red, where is the tinge of promised Red 
In this old tale of town and country life, 
This rise and progress of a family ? 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 61 

First comes the bustling man of enterprise, 
The fortune-founding father, rightly rough, 
As who must grub and grab, play pioneer. 
Then, with a light and airy step, succeeds 
The son, surveys the fabric of his sire, 
And enters home, unsmirched from top to toe. 
Polish and education qualify 
Their fortunate possessor to confine 
His occupancy to the first-floor suite 
Rather than keep exploring needlessly 
Where dwelt his sire content with cellarage : 
Industry bustles underneath, no doubt ; 
The supervisor should not sit too close. 
Next, rooms built, there's the furniture to buy, 
And what adornment like a worthy wife ? 
In comes she like some foreign cabinet, 



62 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Purchased indeed, but purifying quick 

What space receives her, from its traffic-taint. 

She tells of other habits, palace-life ; 

Royalty may have pried into those depths 

Of sandal-wooded drawer, and set a-creak 

That pygmy portal pranked with lazuli. 

More fit by far, the ignoble were replaced 

By objects suited to such visitant, 

Than that her dignity be desecrate 

By neighbourhood of vulgar table, chair, 

Which haply helped old age to smoke and doze. 

The end is, an exchange of city stir 

And too intrusive burgess-fellowship, 

For rural isolated elegance, 

Careless simplicity, how preferable ! 

There one may fairly throw behind one's back 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 63 

The used-up worn-out past, we want away, 

And make a fresh beginning of stale life. 

1 In just the place —does anyone object? — 

' Where aboriginal gentility 

Will scout the upstart, twit him with each trick 

Of town, trade-mark that stamps each word and deed, 

And most of all resent that here the dirt 

Is daubed with money-colour to deceive ! ' 

Rashly objected! Is there not the Church 

To intercede and bring benefic truce 

At outset ? She it is shall equalise 

The labourers in the vineyard, last as first. 

Pay court to her, she stops impertinence. 

' Duke, once your sires crusaded it, we know : 

Our friend the newcomer observes, no less, • 

Your chapel, rich with their emblazonry, 



64 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Wants roofing — might he but supply the means ! 

Marquise, you gave the honour of your name, 

Titular patronage, abundant will 

To what should be an Orphan Institute : 

Gave everything but funds, in brief; and these, 

Our friend, the lady newly resident, 

Proposes to contribute, by your leave ! ' 

Brothers and sisters lie they in thy lap, 

Thou none-excluding all-collecting Church ! 

Sure, one has half a foot i' the hierarchy 

Of birth, when ' Nay, my dear,' laughs out the Duke, 

' 1 may be cushion-carrier, but the crown — 

Who gave its central glory, I or you?' 

When Marquise jokes ' My quest, forsooth ? Each doit 

I scrape together goes for Peter-pence 

To purvey bread and water in his bonds 



OR TURF AND, TOWERS 65 

For Peter's self imprisoned — Lord, how long ? 

Yours, yours alone the bounty, dear my dame, 

You plumped the purse which, poured into the plate, 

Made the Archbishop open brows so broad ! 

And if you really mean to give that length 

Of lovely lace to edge the robe ! ' . . Ah, friends, 

Gem better serves so, than by calling crowd 

Round shop-front to admire the million's-worth ! 

Lace gets more homage than from lorgnette- stare, 

And comment coarse to match, (should one display 

One's robe a trifle o'er the baignoire-edge,) 

' Well may she line her slippers with the like, 

If minded so ! their shop it was, produced 

That wonderful fiarure, the other day, 

Whereof the Baron said, it beggared him.' 

And so the paired Mirandas built their house, 

F 



66 RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

Enjoyed their fortune, sighed for family, 

Found friends would serve their purpose quite as well, 

And come, at need, from Paris — anyhow, 

With evident alacrity, from Vire — 

Endeavour at the chase, at least succeed 

In smoking, eating, drinking, laughing, and 

Preferring country, oh so much to town ! 

Thus lived the husband ; though his wife would sigh 

In confidence, when Countesses were kind, 

' Cut off from Paris and society ! ' 

White, White, I once more round you in the ears ! 

Though you have marked it, in a corner, yours 

Henceforth, — red-lettered i Failure ' very plain, 

I shall acknowledge, on the snowy hem 

Of ordinary Night-cap ! Come, enough ! 

We have gone round its cotton vastitude, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 67 

Or half-round, for the end 's consistent still, 
A cul-de-sac with stoppage at the sea. 
Here we return upon our steps. One look 
May bid good morning — properly good night — 
To civic bliss, Miranda and his mate ! 
Are we to rise and go ? " 

No, sit and stay ! 
Now comes my moment, with the thrilling throw 
Of curtain from each side a shrouded case. 
Don't the rings shriek an ominous " Ha ! ha ! 
So you take Human Nature upon trust ? " 
List but with like trust to an incident 
Which speedily shall make quite Red enough 
Burn out of yonder spotless napery ! 



68 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Sit on the little mound here, whence you seize 

The whole of the gay front sun-satisfied, 

One laugh of colour and embellishment ! 

Because it was there, — past those laurustines, 

On that smooth gravel-sweep 'twixt flowers and sward,- 

There tragic death befell \ and not one grace 

Outspread before you but is registered 

In that sinistrous coil, these last two years 

Were occupied in winding smooth again. 

" True ? " Well, at least it was concluded so, 
Sworn to be truth, allowed by Law as such, 
(With my concurrence, if it matter here) 
A month ago : at Vire they tried the case. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 69 



II 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda, then, . . but stay ! 

Permit me a preliminary word, 

And, after, all shall go so straight to end ! 

Have you, the travelled lady, found yourself 

Inside a ruin, fane or bath or cirque, 

Renowned in story, dear through youthful dream ? 

If not, — imagination serves as well. 

Try fancy-land, go back a thousand years, 

Or forward, half the number, and confront 

Some work of art gnawn hollow by Time's tooth, — 



7o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Hellenic temple, Roman theatre, 

Gothic cathedral, Gallic Tuileries, 

But ruined, one and whichsoe'er you like. 

Obstructions choke what still remains intact, 

Yet proffer change that's picturesque in turn ; 

Since little life begins where great life ends, 

And vegetation soon amalgamates, 

Smooths novel shape from out the shapeless old, 

Till broken column, battered cornice block 

The centre with a bulk half weeds and flowers, 

Half relics you devoutly recognise. 

Devoutly recognising, — hark, a voice 

Not to be disregarded ! " Man worked here 

Once on a time ; here needs again to work ; 

Ruins obstruct, which man must remedy." 

Would you demur " Let Time fulfil his task, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 71 

And, till the scythe-sweep find no obstacle, 
Let man be patient ? " 

The reply were prompt : 
" Glisteningly beneath the May-night moon, 
Herbage and floral coverture bedeck 
Yon splintered mass amidst the solitude : 
Wolves occupy the background, or some snake 
Glides by at distance : picturesque enough ! 
Therefore, preserve it ? Nay, pour daylight in, — 
The mound proves swarming with humanity. 
There never was a thorough solitude, 
Now you look nearer : mortal busy life 
First of all brought the crumblings down on pate, 
Which trip man's foot still, plague his passage much, 
And prove — what seems to you so picturesque 



72 RED COTTON- NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

To him is . . but experiment yourself 

On how conducive to a happy home 

Will be the circumstance, your bed for base 

Boasts tessellated pavement, — equally 

Affected by the scorpion for his nest, — 

While what o'erroofs bed is an architrave, 

Marble, and not unlikely to crush man 

To mummy, should its venerable prop, 

Some fig-tree-stump, play traitor underneath. 

Be wise ! Decide ! For conservation's sake, 

Clear the arena forthwith ! lest the tread 

Of too-much-tried impatience trample out 

Solid and unsubstantial to one blank 

Mud-mixture, picturesque to nobody, — 

And, task done, quarrel with the parts intact 

Whence came the filtered fine dust, whence the crash 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 73 

Bides but its time to follow. Quick conclude 

Removal, time effects so tardily, 

Of what is plain obstruction ; rubbish cleared, 

Let partial-ruin stand while ruin may, 

And serve world's use, since use is manifold. 

Repair wreck, stancheon wall to heart's content, 

But never think of renovation, pure 

And simple, which involves creation too : 

Transform and welcome ! Yon tall tower may help 

(Though built to be a belfry and nought else) 

Some Father Secchi, to tick Venus off 

In transit : never bring there bell again, 

To damage him aloft, brain us below, 

When new vibrations bury both in brick ! 

Monsieur Le'once Miranda, furnishing 



74 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The application at his cost, poor soul ! 

Was instance how, — because the world lay strewn 

With ravage of opinions in his path, 

And neither he, nor any friendly wit, 

Knew and could teach him which was firm, which frail, 

In his adventure to walk straight through life 

The partial-ruin, — in such enterprise, 

He straggled into rubbish, struggled on, 

And stumbled out again observably. 

" Yon buttress still can back me up," he judged : 

And at a touch down came both he and it. 

" A certain statue, I was warned against, 

Now, by good fortune, lies well under foot, 

And cannot tempt to folly any more : " 

So, lifting eye, aloft since safety lay, 

What did he light on ? the Idalian shape, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 75 

The undeposed, erectly Victrix still ! 

" These steps ascend the labyrinthine stair 

Whence, darkling and on all-fours, out I stand 

Exalt and safe, and bid low earth adieu — 

For so instructs ' Advice to who would climb : ' " 

And all at once the climbing landed him 

— Where, is my story. 

Take its moral first. 
Do you advise a climber ? Have respect 
To the poor head, with more or less of brains ■ 
To spill, should breakage follow your advice ! 
Head-break to him will be heart-break to you 
For having preached " Disturb no ruins here ! 
Are not they crumbling of their own accord ? 
Meantime, let poets, painters keep a prize ! 



76 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Beside, a sage pedestrian picks his way." 
A sage pedestrian — such as you and I ! 
What if there trip, in merry carelessness, 
And come to grief, a weak and foolish child ? 
Be cautious how you counsel climbing, then ! 

Are you adventurous and climb yourself? 
Plant the foot warily, accept a staff, 
Stamp only where you probe the standing-point, 
Move forward, well assured that move you may : 
Where you mistrust advance, stop short and stick ! 
This makes advancing slow and difficult ? 
Hear what came of endeavour of brisk youth 
To foot it fast and easy ! Keep this same 
Notion of outside mound and inside mash, 
Towers yet intact round turfy rottenness, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 77 

Symbolic partial-ravage, — keep in mind ! 

Here fortune placed his feet who first of all 

Found no incumbrance, till head found . . But hear ! 

This son and heir then of the jeweller, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, at his birth, 
Mixed the Castilian passionate blind blood 
With answerable gush, his mother's gift, 
Of spirit, French and critical and cold. 
Such mixture makes a battle in the brain, 
Ending as faith or doubt gets uppermost ; 
Then will has way a moment, but no more, 
So nicely-balanced are the adverse strengths, 
And victory entails reverse next time. 
The tactics of the two are different 
And equalize the odds : for blood comes first, 



78 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Surrounding life with undisputed faith. 

But presently, a new antagonist, 

By scarce-suspected passage in the dark, 

Steals spirit, fingers at each crevice found 

Athwart faith's stronghold, fronts the astonished man 

"Such pains to keep me far, yet here stand I, 

Your doubt inside the faith-defence of you ! " 

With faith it was friends bulwarked him about 

From infancy to boyhood ; so, by youth, 

Faith stood the impenetrable circuit, high 

As heaven and low as hell : what lacked he there, 

Guarded against aggression, storm or sap ? 

What foe would dare approach ? Historic Doubt ? 

Ay, were there some half-knowledge to attack ! 

Batter doubt's best, sheer ignorance will beat. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 79 

Acumen metaphysic ? —drills its way- 
Through what, I wonder ! A thick feather-bed 
Of thoughtlessness, no operating tool — 
Framed to transpierce the flint- stone — fumbles at, 
With chance of finding an impediment ! 
This Ravissante, now : when he saw the church 
For the first time, and to his dying-day, 
His firm belief was that the name fell fit 
From the Delivering Virgin, niched and known ; 
As if there wanted records to attest 
The appellation was a pleasantry, 
A pious rendering of Rare Vissante, 
The proper name which erst our province bore. 
He would have told you that Saint Aldabert 
Founded the church, (Heaven early favoured France,) 
About the second century from Christ ; 



8o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Though the true man was Bishop of Raimbaux, 
Eleventh in succession, Eldobert, 
Who flourished after some six hundred years. 
He it was brought the image " from afar," 
(Made out of stone the place produces still) 
" Infantine Art divinely artless," (Art 
In the decrepitude of Decadence) 
And set it up a-working miracles 
Until the Northmen's fury laid it low, 
Not long, however : an egregious sheep, 
Zealous with scratching hoof and routing horn, 
Unearthed the image in good Mailleville's time, 
Count of the country. " If the tale be false, 
Why stands it carved above the portal plain ? " 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda used to ask. 
To Londres went the prize in solemn pomp, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 81. 

But, liking old abode and loathing new, 

Was borne — this time, by angels — back again. 

And, reinaugurated, miracle 

Succeeded miracle, a lengthy list, 

Until indeed the culmination came — 

Archbishop Chaumont prayed a prayer and vowed 

A vow — gained prayer and paid vow properly — 

For the conversion of Prince Vertgalant. 

These facts, sucked in along with mother's-milk, 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda would dispute 

As soon as that his hands were flesh and bone, 

Milk-nourished two-and-twenty years before. 

So fortified by blind Castilian blood, 

What say you to the chances of French cold 

Critical spirit, should Voltaire besiege 



82 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

"Alp, Apennine, and fortified redoubt?" 

Ay, would such spirit please to play faith's game 

Faith's way, attack where faith defends so well ! 

But then it shifts, tries other strategy. 

Coldness grows warmth, the critical becomes 

Unquestioning acceptance. " Share and share 

Alike in facts, to truth add other truth ! 

Why with old truth needs new truth disagree ? " 

Thus doubt was found invading faith, this time, 
By help of not the spirit but the flesh : 
Fat Rabelais chuckled, where faith lay in wait 
For lean Voltaire's grimace — French, either foe. 
Accordingly, while round about our friend 
Ran faith without a break which learned eye 
Could find at two-and-twenty years of age, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 83 

The twenty-two-years-old frank footstep soon 

Assured itself there spread a standing-space 

Flowery and comfortable, nowise rock 

Nor pebble-pavement roughed for champion's tread 

Who scorns discomfort, pacing at his post. 

Tall, long-limbed, shoulder right and shoulder left, 

And 'twixt acromia such a latitude, 

Black heaps of hair on head, and blacker bush 

O'er-rioting chin, cheek and throat and chest, — 

His brown meridional temperament 

Told him — or rather pricked into his sense 

Plainer than language — " Pleasant station here ! 

Youth, strength, and lustihood can sleep on turf 

Yet pace the stony platform afterward : 

First signal of a foe and up they start ! 

Saint Eldobert, at all such vanity, 



84 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Nay — sinfulness, had shaken head austere. 

Had he ! But did Prince Vertgalant ? And yet, 

After how long a slumber, of what sort, 

Was it, he stretched octogenary joints 

And, nigh on Day-of-Judgment trumpet-blast, 

Jumped up and manned wall, brisk as any bee ? " 

Nor Rabelais nor Voltaire, but Sganarelle, 

You comprehend, was pushing through the chink ! 

That stager in the saint's correct costume, 

Who ever has his speech in readiness 

For thick-head juvenility at fault : 

" Go pace yon platform and play sentinel ! 

You won't ? The worse ! but still a worse might hap. 

Stay then, provided that you keep in sight 

The battlement, one bold leap lands you by ! 

Resolve not desperately ' Wall or turf, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 85 

Choose this, choose that, but no alternative ! ' 
No ! Earth left once were left for good and all : 
' With Heaven you may accommodate yourself.' " 

Saint Eldobert — I much approve his mode j 
With sinner Vertgalant I sympathize ; 
But histrionic Sganarelle, who prompts 
While pulling back, refuses yet concedes, — 
Whether he preach in chair, or print in book, 
Or whisper due sustainment to weak flesh, 
Counting his sham beads threaded on a lie — 
Surely, one should bid pack that mountebank ! 
Surely, he must have momentary fits 
Of self-sufficient stage-forgetfulness, 
Escapings of the actor-lassitude 
When he allows the grace to show the grin, 
Which ought to let even thickheads recognize 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

(Through all the busy and benefic part, — 

Bridge-building, or rock-riving, or good clean 

Transport of church and congregation both 

From this to that place with no harm at all,) 

The Devil, that old stager, at his trick 

Of general utility, who leads 

Down- ward, perhaps, but fiddles all the way ! 

Therefore, no sooner does our candidate 
For saintship spotlessly emerge soul-cleansed 
From First Communion to mount guard at post, 
Paris-proof, top to toe, than up there starts 
The Spirit of the Boulevard — you know Who — 
With jocund " So, a structure fixed as fate, 
Faith's tower joins on to tower, no ring more round, 
Full fifty years at distance, too, from youth ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 87 

Once reach that precinct and there fight yonr 

best, 
As looking back you wonder what has come 
Of daisy-dappled turf you danced across ! 
Few flowers that played with youth shall pester age, 
However age esteem the courtesy \ 
And Eldobert was something past his prime, 
Stocked Caen with churches ere he tried hand here. 
Saint-Sauveur, Notre- Dame, Saint- Pierre, Saint- Jean 
Attest, his handiwork commenced betimes. 
He probably would preach that turf is mud. 
Suppose it mud, through mud one picks a way, 
And when, clay-clogged, the struggler steps to stone, 
He uncakes shoe, arrives in manlier guise 
Than carried pick-a-back by Eldobert 
Big-baby-fashion, lest his leathers leak I 



SS RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

All that parade about Prince Vertgalant 
Amounts to — your Castilian helps enough — 
Invent ovem qucz perierat. 
But ask the pretty votive statue-thing 
What the lost sheep's meantime amusements were 
Till the Archbishop found him ! That stays blank : 
They washed the fleece well and forgot the rest. 
Make haste, since time flies, to determine, though !" 

Thus opportunely took up parable, — 

Admonishing Miranda just emerged 

Pure from The Ravissante and Paris-proof, — 

Saint Sganarelle : then slipped aside, changed mask, 

And made re-entry as a gentleman 

Born of the Boulevard, with another speech, 

I spare you. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 89 

So, the year or two revolved, 
And ever the young man was dutiful 
To altar and to hearth : had confidence 
In the whole Ravissantish history. 
Voltaire ? Who ought to know so much of him, — 
Old sciolist, whom only boys think sage, — 
As one whose father's house upon the Quai 
Neighboured the' very house where that Voltaire 
Died mad and raving, not without a burst 
Of squibs and crackers, too significant ? 
Father and mother hailed their best of sons, 
Type of obedience, domesticity, 
Never such an example inside doors ! 
Outside, as well not keep too close a watch ; 
Youth must be left to some discretion there. 
And what discretion proved, I find deposed 



90 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

At Vire, confirmed by his own words : to wit, 
How, with the spriteliness of twenty-five, 
Five — and not twenty, for he gave their names 
With laudable precision — were the few 
Appointed by him unto mistress-ship ; 
While, meritoriously the whole long week 
A votary of commerce only, week 
Ended, " at shut of shop on Saturday, 
Do, I, as is my wont, get drunk," he writes 
In airy record to a confidant. 
" Bragging and lies ! " replied the apologist : 
"And do I lose by that?" laughed Somebody, 
At the Court-edge a-tiptoe, mid the crowd, 
In his own clothes, a-listening to men's Law. 

Thus while, prospectively a combatant, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 91 

The volunteer bent brows, clenched jaws, and fierce 

Whistled the march-tune " Warrior to the wall !" 

Something like flowery laughters round his feet 

Tangled him of a sudden with " Sleep first !" 

And fairly flat upon the turf sprawled he 

And let strange creatures make his mouth their home. 

Anyhow, 'tis the nature of the soul 

To seek a show of durability, 

Nor, changing, plainly be the slave of change. 

Outside the turf, the towers : but, round the turf, 

A tent may rise, a temporary shroud, 

Mock-faith to suit a mimic dwelling-place : 

Tent which, while screening jollity inside 

From the external circuit — evermore 

A menace to who lags when he should march — 



92 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Yet stands a-tremble, ready to collapse 

At touch of foot : turf is acknowledged grass, 

And grass, though pillowy, held contemptible 

Compared with solid rock, the rampired ridge. 

To truth, a pretty homage thus we pay 

By testifying — what we dally with, 

Falsehood, (which, never fear we take for truth ! ) 

We may enjoy, but then — how we despise ! 

Accordingly, on weighty business bound, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda stooped to play, 
But, with experience, soon reduced the game 
To principles, and thenceforth played by rule : 
Rule, dignifying sport as sport, proclaimed 
No less that sport was sport and nothing more. 
He understood the worth of womankind, — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 93 

To furnish man — provisionally — sport : 

Sport transitive — such earth's amusements are : 

But, seeing that amusements pall by use, 

Variety therein is requisite. 

And since the serious work of life were wronged 

Should we bestow importance on our play, 

It follows, in such womankind-pursuit, 

Cheating is lawful chase. We have to spend 

An hour — they want a lifetime thrown away : 

We seek to tickle sense — they ask for soul, 

As if soul had no higher ends to serve ! 

A stag-hunt gives the royal creature law : 

Bat-fowling is all fair with birds at roost, 

The lantern and the clapnet suit the hedge. 

Which must explain why, bent on Boulevard game, 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda decently 



94 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Was prudent in his pleasure — passed himself 

Off on the fragile fair about his path 

As the gay devil rich in mere good looks, 

Youth, hope — what matter though the purse be void ? 

" If I were only young Miranda, now, 

Instead of a poor clerkly drudge at desk 

All day, poor artist vainly bruising brush 

On palette, poor musician scraping gut 

With horsehair teazed that no harmonics come ! 

Then would I love with liberality, 

Then would I pay ! — who now shall be repaid, 

Repaid alike for present pain and past, 

If Mademoiselle permit the contre-danse, 

Sing * Gay in garret youth at twenty lives/ 

And afterward accept a lemonade !" 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 95 

Such sweet facilities of intercourse 

Afford the Winter-Garden and Mabille ! 

" Oh, I unite" — runs on the confidence, 

Poor fellow, that was read in open Court, 

— " Amusement with discretion : never fear 

My escapades cost more than market-price ! 

No durably-attached Miranda-dupe, 

Sucked dry of substance by two clinging lips, 

Promising marriage, and performing it ! 

Trust me, I know the world, and know myself, 

And know where duty takes me — in good time ! " 

Thus fortified and realistic, then, 
At all points thus against illusion armed, 
He wisely did New Year inaugurate 
By playing truant to the favoured five : 



96 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And sat installed at " The Varieties," — 
Playhouse appropriately named, — to note 
(Prying amid the turf that 's flowery there) 
What primrose, firstling of the year, might push 
The snows aside to deck his button-hole — 
Unnoticed by that outline sad, severe, 
(Though fifty good long years removed from youth) 
That tower and tower, — our image, bear in mind ! 

No sooner was he seated than, behold, 

Out burst a polyanthus ! He was 'ware 

Of a young woman niched in neighbourhood ; 

And ere one moment flitted, fast was he 

Found bondslave to the beauty evermore, 

For life, for death, for heaven, for hell, her own. 

Philosophy, bewail thy fate ! Adieu, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 97 

Youth realistic and illusion-proof ! 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, — hero late 
Who "understood the worth of womankind," 
" Who found therein — provisionally — sport," — 
Felt, in the flitting of a moment, fool 
Was he, and folly all that seemed so wise, 
And the best proof of wisdom's birth would be 
That he made all endeavour, body, soul, 
By any means, at any sacrifice 
Of labour, wealth, repute, and ( — well, the time 
For choosing between heaven on earth, and heaven 
In heaven, was not at hand immediately — ) 
Made all endeavour, without loss incurred 
Of one least minute, to obtain her love. 
" Sport transitive ? " " Variety required ?" 
" In loving were a lifetime thrown away?" 
h 



98 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

How singularly may young men mistake ! 
The fault must be repaired with energy. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda ate her up 

With eye-devouring ; when the unconscious fair 

Passed from the close-packed hall, he pressed behind ; 

She mounted vehicle, he did the same, 

Coach stopped, and cab fast followed, at one door — 

Good house in unexceptionable street. 

Out stepped the lady, — never think, alone ! 

A mother was not wanting to the maid, 

Or, may be, wife, or widow, might one say ? 

Out stepped and properly down flung himself 

Monsieur Le'once Miranda at her feet — 

And never left them after, so to speak, 

For twenty years, till his last hour of life, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 99 

When he released them, as precipitate. 
Love proffered and accepted then and there ! 
Such potency in word and look has truth. 

Truth I say, truth I mean : this love was true, 
And the rest happened by due consequence. 
By which we are to learn that there exists 
A falsish false, for truth 's inside the same, 
And truth that 's only half true, falsish truth. 
The better for both parties ! folks may taunt 
That half your rock-built wall is rubble-heap : 
Answer them, half their flowery turf is stones ! 
Our friend had hitherto been decking coat 
If not with stones, with weeds that stones befit, 
With dandelions — " primrose-buds," smirked he ; 
This proved a polyanthus on his breast, 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Prize-lawful or prize-lawless, flower the same. 
So with his other instance of mistake : 
Was Christianity the Ravissante ? 

And what a flower of flowers he chanced on 

now! 
To primrose, polyanthus I prefer 
As illustration, from the fancy-fact 
That out of simple came the composite 
By culture : that the florist bedded thick 
His primrose-root in ruddle, bullock's blood, 
Ochre and devils'-dung, for aught I know, 
Until the pale and pure grew fiery-fine, 
Ruby and topaz, rightly named anew. 
This lady was no product of the plain ; 
Social manure had raised a rarity. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 10 

Clara de Millefleurs (note the happy name) 
Blazed in the full-blown glory of her Spring. 
Peerlessly perfect, form and face : for both — 
" Imagine, what, at seventeen, may have proved 
Miss Pages, the actress : Pages herself, my dear ! " 
Noble she was, the name denotes : and rich ? 
" The apartment in this Coliseum Street, 
Furnished, my dear, with such an elegance, 
Testifies wealth, my dear, sufficiently ! 
What quality, what style and title, eh ? 
Well now, waive nonsense, you and I are boys 
No longer : somewhere must a screw be slack ! 
Don't fancy, Duchesses descend at door 
From carriage-step to stranger prostrate stretched, 
And bid him take heart, and deliver mind, 
March in and make himself at ease forthwith, — 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

However broad his chest and black his beard, 
And comely his belongings, — all through love 
Protested in a world of ways save one 
Hinting at marriage!" — marriage which yet means 
Only the obvious method, easiest help 
To satisfaction of love's first demand, 
That love endure eternally: "my dear, 
Somewhere or other must a screw be slack ! " 

Truth is the proper policy : from truth — 
Whate'er the force wherewith you fling your 

speech, — 
Be sure that speech will lift you, by rebound, 
Somewhere above the lowness of a lie ! 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda heard too true 
A tale — perhaps I may subjoin, too trite ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 103 

As the meek martyr takes her statued stand 
Above our pity, claims our worship just 
Because of what she puts in evidence, 
Signal of suffering, badge of torture borne 
In days gone by, shame then but glory now, 
Barb in the breast, turned aureole for the front ! 
So, half timidity, composure half, 
Clara de Millefleurs told her martyrdom. 

Of poor though noble parentage, deprived 
Too early of a father's guardianship, 
What wonder if the prodigality 
Of nature in the girl, whose mental gifts 
Matched her external dowry, form and face — 
If these suggested a too prompt resource 
To the resourceless mother ? " Try the Stage 



104 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And so escape starvation ! Prejudice 
Defames Mimetic Art : be yours to prove 
That gold and dross may meet and never mix, 
Purity plunge in pitch yet soil no plume \" 

All was prepared in London — (you conceive 

The natural shrinking from publicity 

In Paris, where the name excites remark) 

London was ready for the grand debut ; 

When some perverse ill fortune, incident 

To art mimetic, some malicious thrust 

Of Jealousy who sidles 'twixt the scenes 

Or pops up sudden from the prompter's hole, — 

Somehow the brilliant bubble burst in suds. 

Want followed : in a foreign land, the pair ! 

O hurry over the catastrophe — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 105 

Mother too sorely tempted, daughter tried 
Scarcely so much as circumvented, say ! 
Caged unsuspecting artless innocence ! 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda tell the rest ! — 

The rather that he told it in a style 

To puzzle Court Guide students, much more me. 

" Brief, she became the favourite of Lord N., 

An aged but illustrious Duke, thereby 

Breaking the heart of his competitor 

The Prince of O. Behold her palaced straight 

In splendor, clothed in diamonds," (phrase how fit !) 

" Giving tone to the City by the Thames ! 

Lord N., the aged but illustrious Duke, 

Was even on the point of wedding her — 

Giving his name to her " (why not to us ?) 



106 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" But that her better angel interposed. 

She fled from such a fate to Paris back, 

A fortnight since : conceive Lord N.'s despair ! 

Duke as he is, there's no invading France. 

He must restrict pursuit to postal plague 

Of writing letters daily, duly read 

As darlingly she hands them to myself, 

The privileged supplanter, who therewith 

Light a cigar and see abundant blue " — 

(Either of heaven or else Havanna-smoke.) 

" Think ! she, who helped herself to diamonds late, 

In passion of disinterestedness 

Now — will accept no tribute of my love 

Beyond a paltry ring, three Louis'-worth ! 

Little she knows I have the rummaging 

Of old Papa's shop in the Place Vendome ! " 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 107 

So wrote entrancedly to confidant, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda. Surely now, 
If Heaven, that sees all, understands no less, 
It finds temptation pardonable here, 
It mitigates the promised punishment, 
It recognizes that to tarry just 
An April hour amid such dainty turf 
Means no rebellion against task imposed 
Of journey to the distant wall one day ! 
Monsieur Le'once Miranda puts the case ! 
Love, he is purposed to renounce, abjure ; 
But meanwhile, is the case a common one ? 
Is it the vulgar sin, none hates as he ? 

Which question, put directly to "his dear" 
(His brother — I will tell you in a trice) 



108 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Was doubtless meant, by due meandering, 
To reach, to fall not unobserved before 
The auditory cavern 'neath the cope 
Of Her, the placable, the Ravissante. 
But here's the drawback, that the image smiles, 
Smiles on, smiles ever, says to supplicant 
" Ay, ay, ay " — like some kindly weathercock 
Which, stuck fast at Set Fair, Favonian Breeze, 
Still warrants you from rain, though Auster's lead 
Bring down the sky above your cloakless mirth. 
Had he proposed this question to, nor " dear " 
Nor Ravissante, but prompt to the Police, 
The Commissary of his Quarter, now — 
There had been shaggy eyebrows elevate 
With twinkling apprehension in each orb 
Beneath, and when the sudden shut of mouth 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 109 

Relaxed, — lip pressing lip, lest out should plump 
The pride of knowledge in too frank a flow, — 
Then, fact on fact forthcoming, dose were dealt 
Of truth remedial, in sufficiency 
To save a chicken threatened with the pip, 
Head-staggers and a tumble from its perch. 

Alack, it was the lady's self that made 
The revelation, after certain days 
— Nor so unwisely ! As the haschisch-man 
Prepares a novice to receive his drug, 
Adroitly hides the soil with sudden spread 
Of carpet ere he seats his customer : 
Then shows him how to smoke himself about 
With Paradise; and only when, at puff 
Of pipe, the Houri dances round the brain 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of dreamer, does he judge no need is now 
For circumspection and punctiliousness; 
He may resume the serviceable scrap 
That made the votary unaware of muck. 
Just thus the lady, when her brewage — love — 
Was well a- fume about the novice-brain, 
Saw she might boldly pluck, from underneath 
Her lover, the preliminary lie. 

Clara de Millefleurs, of the noble race, 
Was Lucie Steiner, child to Dominique 
And Magdalen Commercy ; born at Sierck, 
About the bottom of the Social Couch. 
The father having come and gone again, 
The mother and the daughter found their way 
To Paris, and professed mode-merchandize, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS i 

Were milliners, we English roughlier say \ 

And soon a fellow-lodger in the house, 

Monsieur Ulysse Muhlhausen young and smart, 

Tailor by trade, perceived his house-mate's youth, 

Smartness, and beauty over and above. 

Courtship was brief, and marriage followed quick, 

And quicklier — impecuniosity. 

The young pair quitted Paris to reside 

At London : which repaid the compliment 

But scurvily, since not a whit the more 

Trade prospered by the Thames than by the Seine. 

Failing all other, as a last resource, 

" He would have trafficked in his wife," — she said. 

If for that cause they quarrelled, ' twas, I fear, 

Rather from reclamation of her rights 

To wifely independence, than as wronged 



RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

Otherwise by the course of life proposed : 
Since, on escape to Paris back again, 
From horror and the husband, — ill-exchanged 
For safe maternal home recovered thus, — 
I find her domiciled and dominant 
In that apartment, Coliseum Street, 
Where all the splendid magic met and mazed 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda's venturous eye. 
Only, the same was furnished at the cost 
Of someone notable in days long since, 
Carlino Centofanti : he it was, 
Found entertaining unawares — if not 
An angel, yet a youth in search of one. 

Why this revealment after reticence ? 
Wherefore, beginning " Millefleurs," end at all 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 113 

Steiner, Muhlhausen, and the ugly rest ? 
Because the unsocial purse-comptrolling wight, 
Carlino Centofanti, made aware 
By misadventure that his bounty — crumbs 
From table — comforted a visitant, 
Took churlish leave, and left, too, debts to pay. 
Loaded with debts, the lady needs must bring 
Her soul to bear assistance from a friend 
Beside that paltry ring, three Louis'-worth \ 
And therefore might the little circumstance 
That Monsieur Leonce had the rummaging 
Of old Papa's shop in the Place Vendome, 
Pass, perhaps, not so unobservably. 

Frail shadow of a woman in the flesh, 
These very eyes of mine saw yesterday, 
1 



ii 4 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Would I re-tell this story of your woes, 
Would I have heart to do you detriment 
. By pinning all this shame and sorrow plain 
To that poor chignon, — staying with me still, 
Though form and face have well nigh faded now,- 
But that men read it, rough in brutal print, 
As two years since some functionary's voice 
Rattled all this— and more by very much — 
Into the ear of vulgar Court and crowd, 
Whence, by reverberation, rumblings grew 
To what had proved a week-long roar in France, 
Had not the dreadful cannonry drowned all. 
Was, now, the answer of your advocate 
More than just this ? " The shame fell long ago, 
The sorrow keeps increasing : God forbid 
We judge man, by the faults of youth, in age ! " 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 115 

Permit me the expression of a hope 
Your youth proceeded like your avenue, 
Stepping by bush, and tree, and taller tree, 
Until, columnar, at the house they end. 
So might your creeping youth, columnar rise 
And reach, by year and year, symmetrical, 
To where all shade stops short, shade's service done, 
Bushes on either side, and boughs above, 
Darken, deform the path, else sun would streak ; 
And, cornered halfway somewhere, I suspect 
Stagnation and a horse-pond : hurry past! 
For here 's the house, the happy half-and-half 
Existence — such as stands for happiness 
True and entire, howe'er the squeamish talk ! 
Twenty years long, you may have loved this man ; 
He must have loved you ; that's a happy life, 



u6 RED COTTON NIGHT -CAP COUNTRY 

Whatever was your right to lead the same. 
The white domestic pigeon pairs secure, 
Nay, does mere duty by bestowing egg 
In authorized compartment, warm and safe, 
Boarding about, and gilded spire above, 
Hoisted on pole, to dogs' and cats' despair ! 
But I have spied a veriest trap of twigs 
On tree-top, every straw a thievery, 
Where the wild dove — despite the fowler's snare, 
The sportsman's shot, the urchin's stone, — crooned gay, 
And solely gave her heart to what she hatched, 
Nor minded a malignant world below. 
/ throw first stone forsooth ? 'Tis mere assault 
Of playful sugarplum against your cheek, 
Which, if it makes cheek tingle, wipes off rouge ! 
You, my worst woman ? Ah, that touches pride, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS u 

Puts on his mettle the exhibitor 

Of Night-caps, if you taunt him " This, no doubt, — 

Now we have got to Female-garniture, — 

Crowns your collection, Reddest of the row ! " 

O unimaginative ignorance 

Of what dye's depth keeps best apart from worst 

In womankind ! — how heaven's own pure may seem 

To blush aurorally beside such blanched 

Divineness as the women-wreaths named White: 

While hell, eruptive and fuliginous, 

Sickens to very pallor as I point 

Her place to a Red clout called woman too ! 

Hail, heads that ever had such glory once 

Touch you a moment, like God's cloven tongues 

Of fire, your lambent aureoles lost, that leave 

You marked yet, dear beyond all diadems ! 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And hold, each foot, nor spurn, to man's disgrace, 
What other twist of fetid rag may fall ! 
Let slink into the sewer the cupping-cloth ! 

Lucie, much solaced, I re-finger you, 
The medium article ; if ruddy-marked 
With iron-mould, your cambric, — clean at least 
From poison-speck of rot and purulence ! 
Lucie Muhlhausen said — " Such thing am I : 
Love me, or love me not ! " Miranda said 
" I do love, more than ever, most for this." 
The revelation of the very truth, 
Proved the concluding necessary shake 
That bids the tardy mixture crystalize 
Or else stay ever liquid : shoot up shaft, 
Durably diamond, or evaporate — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 119 

Sluggish solution through a minute's slip. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda took his soul 

In both his hands, as if it were a vase, 

To see what came of the convulsion there, 

And found, amid subsidence, love new-born 

So sparklingly resplendent, old was new. 

" Whatever be my lady's present, past, 

Or future, this is certain of my soul, 

I love her ! in despite of all I know, 

Defiance of the much I have to fear, 

I venture happiness on what I hope, 

And love her from this day for evermore ! 

No prejudice to old profound respect 

For certain Powers ! I trust they bear in mind 

A most peculiar case, and straighten out 

What's crooked there, before we close accounts. 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Renounce the world for them — some day I will 
Meantime, to me let her become the world !" 

Thus, mutely might our friend soliloquize 
Over the tradesmen's bills, his Clara's gift — 
In the apartment, Coliseum Street, 
Carlino Centofanti's legacy, 
Provided rent and taxes were discharged — 
In face of Stein er now, De Millefleurs once, 
The tailor's wife and runaway confessed. 

On such a lady if election light, 
(According to a social prejudice) 
If henceforth " all the world " she constitute 
For any lover, — needs must he renounce 
Our world in ordinary, walked about 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

By couples loving as our laws prescribe, — 

Renunciation sometimes difficult. 

But, in this instance, time and place and thing 

Combined to simplify experiment, 

And make Miranda, in the current phrase, 

Master the situation passably. 

For first facility, his brother died — 

Who was, I should have told you, confidant, 

Adviser, referee and substitute, 

All from a distance : but I knew how soon 

This younger brother, lost in Portugal, 

Had to depart and leave our friend at large. 

Cut off abruptly from companionship 

With brother-soul of bulk about as big, 

(Obvious recipient — by intelligence 



122 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And sympathy, poor little pair of souls — 
Of much affection and some foolishness) 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, meant to lean 
By nature, needs must shift the leaning-place 
To his love's bosom from his brother's neck, 
Or fall flat unrelieved of freight sublime. 

Next died the lord of the Aladdin's cave, 
Master o' the mint and keeper of the keys 
Of chests choakful with gold and silver changed 
By Art to forms where wealth forgot itself, 
And caskets where reposed each pullet-egg 
Of diamond, slipping flame from fifty slants. 
In short, the father of the family 
Took his departure also from our scene, 
Leaving a fat succession to his heir 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 123 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda, — " fortunate 

If ever man was, in a father's death," 

(So commented the world, — not he, too kind, 

Could that be, rather than scarce kind enough) 

Indisputably fortunate so far, 

That little of incumbrance in his path, 

Which money kicks aside, would lie there long. 

And finally, a rough but wholesome shock, 

An accident which comes to kill or cure, 

A jerk which mends a dislocated joint ! 

Such happy chance, at cost of twinge, no doubt, 

Into the socket back again put truth, 

And stopped the limb from longer dragging lie. 

For love suggested " Better shamble on, 

•And bear your lameness with what grace you may !" 



124 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And but for this rude wholesome accident, 

Continuance of disguise and subterfuge, 

Retention of first falsehood as to name 

And nature in the lady, might have proved 

Too necessary for abandonment. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda probably 

Had else been loath to cast the mask aside, 

So politic, so self-preservative, 

Therefore so pardonable — though so wrong ! 

For see the bugbear in the background ! Breathe 

But ugly name, and wind is sure to waft 

The husband news of the wife's whereabout : 

From where he lies perdue in London town, 

Forth steps the needy tailor on the stage, 

Deity-like from dusk machine of fog, 

And claims his consort, or his consort's worth 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 125 

In rubies which her price is far above. 
Hard to propitiate, harder to oppose, — 
Who but the man's self came to banish fear, 
A pleasant apparition, such as shocks 
A moment, tells a tale, then goes for good! 

Monsieur Ulysse Muhlhausen proved no less 

Nor more than " Gustave," lodging opposite 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda's diamond-cave 

And ruby-mine, and lacking little thence 

Save that its gnome would keep the captive safe, 

Never return his Clara to his arms. 

For why ? . He was become the man in vogue, 

The indispensable to who went clothed 

Nor cared encounter Paris fashion's blame, — 

Such miracle could London absence work. 



126 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Rolling in riches — so translate " the vogue " — 

Rather his object was to keep off claw 

Should griffin scent the gold, should wife lay claim 

To lawful portion* at a future day, 

Than tempt his partner from her private spoils. 

Best forage each for each, nor coupled hunt ! 

Pursuantly, one morning, — knock at door 

With knuckle, dry authoritative cough, 

And easy stamp of foot, broke startlingly 

On household slumber, Coliseum Street : 

" Admittance in the name of Law !" In marched 

The Commissary and subordinate. 

One glance sufficed them. " A marital pair : 

We certify, and bid good morning, sir ! 

Madame, a thousand pardons !" Whereupon 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 127 

Monsieur Ulysse Muhlhausen otherwise 

Called " Gustave " for conveniency of trade, 

Deposing in due form complaint of wrong, 

Made his demand of remedy — divorce 

From bed, board, share of name, and part in goods. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda owned his fault, 

Protested his pure ignorance, from first 

To last, of rights infringed in " Gustave's " case : 

Submitted him to judgment. Law decreed 

" Body and goods be henceforth separate ! " 

And thereupon each party took its way, 

This right, this left, rejoicing, to abide 

Estranged yet amicable, opposites 

In life as in respective dwelling-place. 

Still does one read on his establishment 

Huge-lettered " Gustave," — gold out-*glittering 



128 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

11 Miranda, goldsmith," just across the street — 

" A first-rate hand at riding-habits " — say 

The instructed — " special cut of chamber-robes." 

Thus by a rude in seeming — rightlier judged 
Beneficent surprise, publicity 
Stopped further fear and trembling, and what tale 
Cowardice thinks a covert : one bold splash 
Into the mid-shame, and the shiver ends, 
Though cramp and drowning may begin perhaps. 

To cite just one more point which crowned success 

Madame, Miranda's mother, most of all 

An obstacle to his projected life 

In licence, as a daughter of the Church, 

Duteous, exemplary, severe by right — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 129 

Moreover one most thoroughly beloved 

Without a rival till the other sort 

Possessed her son, — first storm of anger spent, 

Seemed, grumblingly and grudgingly no doubt, 

To acquiesce, let be what needs must be. 

"With Heaven — accommodation possible !" 

Saint Sganarelle had preached with such effect, 

She saw now mitigating circumstance. 

" The erring one was most unfortunate, 

No question : but worse Magdalens repent. 

Were Clara free, did only Law allow, 

What fitter choice in marriage could have made 

Leonce or anybody ? " 'Tis alleged 

And evidenced, I find, by advocate 

" Never did she consider such a tie 

As baleful, springe to snap whate'er the cost." 

K 



130 RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

And when the couple were in safety once 

At Clairvaux, motherly, considerate, 

She shrank not from advice. "Since safe you be, 

Safely abide ! for Winter, I know well, 

Is troublesome in a cold country-house. 

I recommend the south room, that we styled, 

Your sire and I, the Winter-chamber." 

Chance 
Or purpose, — who can read the mystery ? — 
Combined, I say, to bid " Entrench yourself, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, on this turf, 
About this flower, so firmly that, as tent 
Rises on every side around you both, 
The question shall become, — Which arrogates 
Stability, the tent or towers afar ? 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

\ 

May not the temporary structure suit 

The stable circuit, co-exist in peace ? — 

Always until the proper time, no fear ! 

' Lay flat your tent ! ' is easier said than done." 

So, with the best of auspices, betook 
Themselves Leonce Miranda and his bride — 
Pro visionary — to their Clairvaux house, 
Never to leave it — till the proper time. 

I told you what was Clairvaux- Priory 
Ere the improper time : an old demesne 
With memories, — relic, half, and ruin, whole, — 
The very place, then, to repair the wits 
Worn out with Paris- traffic, when its lord, 
Miranda's father took his month of ease 



132 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Purchased by industry. What contrast here ! 

Repose, and solitude, and healthy ways ! 

That ticking at the back of head, he took 

For motion of an inmate, stopped at once, 

Proved nothing but the pavement's rattle left 

Behind at Paris : here was holiday ! 

Welcome the quaint succeeding to the spruce, 

The large and lumbersome and — might he breathe 

In whisper to his own ear — dignified 

And gentry-fashioned old-style haunts of sleep ! 

Palatial gloomy chambers for parade, 

And passage-lengths of lost significance, 

Never constructed as receptacle, 

At his odd hours, for him their actual lord 

By dint of diamond-dealing, goldsmithry. 

Therefore Miranda's father chopped and changed 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 133 

Nor roof-tile nor yet floor-brick, undismayed 

By rains a-top or rats at bottom there. 

Such contrast is so piquant for a month ! 

But now arrived quite other occupants 

Whose cry was " Permanency, — life and death 

Here, here, not elsewhere, change is all we dread !" 

Their dwelling-place must be adapted, then, 

To inmates, no mere truants from the town, 

No temporary sojourners, forsooth, 

At Clairvaux : change it into Paradise ! 

Fair friend, — who listen and let talk, alas ! — 
You would, in even such a state of things, 
Pronounce, — or am I wrong ? — for bidding stay 
The old-world inconvenience, fresh as found. 
All folks of individuality 



134 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Prefer to be reminded, now and then, 
Though at the cost of vulgar cosiness, 
That the shell-outside only harbours man 
The vital and progressive, meant to build, 
When build he may, with quite a difference, 
Some time, in that far land we dream about, 
Where every man is his own architect. 
But then the couple here in question, each 
At one in project for a happy life, 
Were by no acceptation of the word 
So individual that they must aspire 
To architecture all-appropriate 
And, therefore, in this world impossible : 
They needed house to suit the circumstance, 
Proprietors, not tenants for a term. 
Despite a certain marking, here and there, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 135 

Of fleecy black or white distinguishment, 
These vulgar sheep wore the flock's uniform. 
They love the country, they renounce the town ? 
They gave a kick, as our Italians say, 
To Paris ere it turned and kicked themselves ! 
Acquaintances might prove too hard to seek, 
Or the reverse of hard to find, perchance, 
Since Monsieur Gustave's apparition there. 
And let me call remark upon the list 
Of notabilities invoked, in Court 
At Vire, to witness, by their phrases culled 
From correspondence, what was the esteem 
Of those we pay respect to, for " the pair 
Whereof they knew the inner life," 'tis said. 
Three, and three only, answered the appeal. 
First, Monsieur Vaillant, music-publisher, 



136 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" Begs Madame will accept civilities." 

Next, Alexandre Dumas, — sire, not son, — 

" Sends compliments to Madame and to you." 

And last — but now prepare for England's voice ! 

I will not mar nor make — here's word for word — 

" A rich proprietor of Paris, he 

To whom belonged that beauteous Bagatelle 

Close to the wood of Boulogne, Hertford hight, 

Assures of homages and compliments 

Affectionate " — not now Miranda but 

" Madame Muhlhausen." (Was this friend, the Duke 

Redoubtable in rivalry before ?) 

Such was the evidence when evidence 

Was wanted, then if ever, to the worth 

Whereat acquaintances in Paris prized 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda's household charm. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 137 

No wonder, then, his impulse was to live, 
In Norman solitude, the Paris life : 
Surround himself with Art transported thence, 
And nature like those famed Elysian Fields : 
Then, warm up the right colour out of both, 
By Boulevard friendships tempted to come taste 
How Paris lived again in little there. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda practised Art. 
Do let a man for once live as man likes ! 
Politics ? Spend your life, to spare the world's : 
Improve each unit by some particle 
Of joy the more, deteriorate the orb 
Entire, your own : poor profit, dismal loss ! 
Write books, paint pictures, or make music — since 
Your nature leans to such life-exercise ! 



138 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Ay, but such exercise begins too soon, 

Concludes too late, demands life whole and sole, 

Artistry being battle with the age 

It lives in! Half life, — silence, while you learn 

What has been done; the other half,— attempt 

At speech, amid world's wail of wonderment — 

" Here's something done, was never done before ! " 

To be the very breath that moves the age, 

Means not, to have breath drive you bubble-like 

Before it— but yourself to blow : that's strain \ 

Strain 's worry through the life-time, till there's peace; 

We know where peace expects the artist-soul. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda knew as much. 
Therefore in Art he, nowise cared to be 
Creative ; but creation, that had birth 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 139 

In storm iness long years before was born 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, — Art, enjoyed 
Like fleshly objects of the chace that tempt 
In cookery, not capture — these might feast 
The dilettante, furnish tavern-fare 
Open to all with purses open too. 
To sit free and take tribute seigneur-like — 
Now, not too lavish of acknowledgment, 
Now, self-indulgently profuse of pay, 
Always Art's seigneur, not Art's serving-man, 
Whate'er the style and title and degree, — 
That is the quiet life and easy death 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda would approve 
Wholly — provided (back I go again 
To the first simile) that while glasses clink, 
And viands steam, and banqueting laughs high, 



140 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

All that's outside the temporary tent, 
The dim grim outline of the circuit-wall, 
Forgets to menace " Soon or late will drop 
Pavilion, soon or late you needs must march, 
And laggards will be sorry they were slack ! 
Always — unless excuse sound plausible ! " 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda knew as much : 
Whence his determination just to paint 
So creditably as might help the eye 
To comprehend how painter's eye grew dim 
Ere it produced LTngegno's piece of work- 
So to become musician that his ear 
Should judge, by its own tickling and turmoil, 
Who made the Solemn Mass might well die deaf- 
So cultivate a literary knack 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 141 

That, by experience how it wiles the time, 

He might imagine how a poet, rapt 

In rhyming wholly, grew so poor at last 

By carelessness about his bankers-book, 

That the Sieur Boileau (to provoke our smile) 

Began abruptly, — when he paid devoir 

To Louis Quatorze as he dined in state, — 

" Sire, send a drop of broth to Pierre Corneille 

Now dying and in want of sustenance ! " 

— I say, these half-hour playings at life's toil, 

Diversified by billiards, riding, sport — 

With now and then a visitor — Dumas, 

Hertford — to check no aspiration's flight — 

While Clara, like a diamond in the dark, 

Should extract shining from what else were shade. 

And multiply chance rays a million-fold, — 



142 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

How could he doubt that all offence outside, — 
Wrong to the towers, which, pillowed on the turf, 
He thus shut eyes to, — were as good as gone ? 

So, down went C lair vaux- Priory to dust, 
And up there rose, in lieu, yon structure gay 
Above the Norman ghosts : and where the stretch 
Of barren country girdled house about, 
Behold the Park, the English preference ! 
Thus made undoubtedly a desert smile, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda. 

Ay, but she ? 
One should not so merge soul in soul, you think ? 
And I think : only, let us wait, nor want 
Two things at once — her turn will come in time. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 143 

A cork-float danced upon the tide, we saw, 

This morning, blinding-bright with briny dews : 

There was no disengaging soaked from sound, 

Earth-product from the sister-elemerft. 

But when Ave turn, the tide will turn, I think, 

And bare on beach will lie exposed the buoy : 

A very proper time to try, with foot 

And even finger, which was buoying wave, 

Which merely buoyant substance, — power to lift, 

And power to be sent skyward passively. 

Meanwhile, no separation of the pair ! 



144 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 



III 

And so slipt pleasantly away five years 

Of Paradisiac dream; till, as there flit 

Premonitory symptoms, pricks of pain, 

Because the dreamer has to start awake 

And find disease dwelt active all the while 

In head or stomach through his night-long sleep,- 

So happened here disturbance to content. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda's last of cares, 
Ere he composed himself, had been to make 
Provision that, while sleeping safe he lay, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 145 

Somebody else should, dragon-like, let fall 
Never a lid, coiled round the apple-stem, 
But watch the precious fruitage. Somebody 
Kept shop, in short, played Paris substitute. 
Himself, shrewd, well-trained, early-exercised, 
Could take in, at an eye-glance, luck or loss — 
Know commerce throve, though lazily uplift 
On elbow merely : leave his bed, forsooth ? 
Such active service was the substitute's. 

But one October morning, at first drop 
Of appled gold, first summons to be grave 
Because rough Autumn's play turns earnest now, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda was required 
In Paris to take counsel, face to face, 
With Madame-mother : and be rated, too, 

L 



146 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Roundly at certain items of expense 

Whereat the government provisional, 

The Paris substitute and shopkeeper, 

Shook head, and talked of funds inadequate : 

Oh, in the long run, — not if remedy 

Occurred betimes ! Else, — tap the generous bole 

Too near the quick, — it withers to the root — 

Leafy, prolific, golden apple-tree, 

" Miranda," sturdy in the Place Vendome ! 

" What is this reckless life you. lead ?" began 
Madame Miranda, — whom he feared and loved, — 
Her greeting. " Luxury, extravagance 
Sardanapalus' self might emulate, — 
Did your good father's money go for this ? 
Where are the fruits of education, where 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 147 

The morals which at first distinguished you, 

The faith which promised to adorn your age ? 

And why such wastefulness outbreaking now, 

When heretofore you loved economy ? 

Explain this pulling-down and building up 

Of Clairvaux, which your father bought because 

Clairvaux he found it, and so left to you, 

Not a gilt gingerbread big baby-house ! 

True, we could somehow shake head and shut eye 

To what was past prevention on our part — 

This reprehensible illicit bond : 

We, in a manner, winking, watched consort 

Our modest well-conducted pious son 

With Dalilah : we thought the smoking flax 

Would smoulder soon away and end in snuff ! 

Is spark to strengthen, prove consuming fire? 



148 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

No lawful family calls Clairvaux l home ' — 

Why play the fool of Scripture that the voice 

Admonished ' Whose shall be those things to-night, 

Provided for thy morning jollity ? ' 

To take one specimen of pure caprice 

Out of the heap conspicuous in this plan, — 

Puzzle of change, I call it, — titled big 

' Clairvaux Restored :' what means this Belvedere? 

This Tower, stuck like a fools'-cap on the roof — 

Do you intend to soar to heaven from thence ? 

Tower, truly ! Better had you planted turf — 

More fitly would you dig yourself a hole 

Beneath it, for the final journey's help ! 

O we poor parents — could we prophesy!" 

Le'once was found affectionate enough 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 149 

To man, to woman, child, bird, beast, alike ; 

But all affection, all one fire of heart 

Flaming toward Madame-mother. Had she posed 

The question plainly at the outset " Choose ! 

Cut clean in half your all-the-world of love, 

The mother and the mistress: then resolve, 

Take me or take her, throw away the one ! " — 

He might have made the choice and marred my tale. 

But, much I apprehend, the problem put 

Was " Keep both halves, yet do no detriment 

To either ! Prize each opposite in turn ! " 

Hence, while he prized at worth the Clairvaux-life 

With all its tolerated naughtiness, 

He, visiting in fancy Quai Rousseau, 

Saw, cornered in the cosiest nook of all 

That range of rooms through number Thirty-three, 



150 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The lady-mother bent o'er her Bezique; 

While Monsieur Cure This, and Sister That, — 

Superior of no matter what good House — 

Did duty for Duke Hertford and Dumas, 

Nay, — at his mother's age, — for Clara's self. 

At Quai Rousseau, things comfortable thus, 

Why should poor Clairvaux be so troublesome ? 

She played at cards, he built a Belvedere. 

But here's the difference : she had reached the Towers 

And there took pastime : he was still on Turf — 

Though fully minded that, when once he marched, 

No sportive fancy should distract him more. 

In brief, the man was angry with himself, 
With her, with all the world and much beside : 
And so the unseemly words were interchanged 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

Which crystalize what else evaporates, 

And make mere misty petulance grow hard 

And sharp inside each softness, heart and soul. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda flung at last 

Out of doors, fever-flushed : and there the Seine 

Rolled at his feet, obsequious remedy 

For fever, in a cold Autumnal flow. 

" Go and be rid of memory in a bath ! " 

Craftily whispered Who besets the ear 

On such occasions. 

Done as soon as dreamed. 
Back shivers poor Leonce to bed — where else ? 
And there he lies a month 'twixt life and death, 
Raving. "Remorse of conscience!" friends 
opine. 



152 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" Sirs, it may partly prove so," represents 

Beaumont — (the family physician, he 

Whom last year's Commune murdered, do you mind ?) 

Beaumont reports " There is some active cause, 

More than mere pungency of quarrel past, — 

Cause that keeps adding other food to fire. 

I hear the words and know the signs, I say ! 

Dear Madame, you have read the Book of Saints, 

How Antony was tempted ? As for me, 

Poor heathen, 'tis by pictures I am taught. 

I say then, I see standing here, — between 

Me and my patient, and that crucifix 

You very properly would interpose, — 

A certain woman-shape, one white appeal 

1 Will you leave me, then, me, me, me for her ? ' 

Since cold Seine could not quench this flame, since flare 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 153 

Of fever does not redden it away, — 
Be rational, indulgent, mute — should chance 
Come to the rescue — Providence, I mean — 
The while I blister and phlebotomize ! " 

Well, somehow rescued by whatever power, 

At month's end, back again conveyed himself 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda, worn to rags, 

Nay, tinder: stuff irreparably spoiled, 

Though kindly hand should stitch and patch its 

best. 
Clairvaux in Autumn is restorative. 
A friend stitched on, patched ever. All the same, 
Clairvaux looked greyer than a month ago. 
Unglossed was shrubbery, unglorified 
Each copse, so wealthy once \ the garden-plots, 



154 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The orchard-walks showed dearth and dreariness. 
The sea lay out at distance crammed by cloud 
Into a leaden wedge ; and sorrowful 
Sulked field and pasture with persistent rain. 
Nobody came so far from Paris now : 
Friends did their duty by an invalid 
Whose convalescence claimed entire repose. 
Only a single ministrant was staunch 
At quiet reparation of the stuff — 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, worn to rags : 
But she was Clara and the world beside. 

Another month, the year packed up his plagues 
And sullenly departed, pedlar-like, 
As apprehensive old-world ware might show 
To disadvantage when the new-comer, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 155 

Merchant of novelties, young 'Sixty-eight, 
With bran-new bargains, whistled o'er the lea. 
Things brightened somewhat o'er the Christmas hearth, 
As Clara plied assiduously her task. 

" Words are but words and wind. Why let the wind 
Sing in your ear, bite, sounding, to your brain ? 
Old folk and young folk, still at odds, of course ! 
Age quarrels because Spring puts forth a leaf 
While Winter has a mind that boughs stay bare ; 
Or rather — worse than quarrel — age descries 
Propriety in preaching life to death. 
' Enjoy nor youth, nor Clairvaux, nor poor me ? ' 
Dear Madame, you enjoy your age, 'tis thought ! 
Your number Thirty-three on Quai Rousseau 
Cost fifty times the price of Clairvaux, tipped 



156 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Even with our prodigious Belvedere j 

You entertain the Cure, — we, Dumas : 

We play charades, while you prefer Bezique : 

Do lead your own life and let ours alone ! 

Cross Old Year shall have done his worst, my 

friend ! 
Here comes gay New Year with a gift, no doubt ! 
Look up and let in light that longs to shine — 
One flash of light, and where will darkness hide ? 
Your cold makes me too cold, love ! Keep me warm ! " 

Whereat Leonce Miranda raised his head 
From his two white thin hands, and forced a smile, 
And spoke : " I do look up, and see your light 
Above me ! Let New Year contribute warmth — 
I shall refuse no fuel that may blaze." 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 157 

Nor did he. Three days after, just a spark 
From Paris, answered by a snap at Caen 
Or whither reached the telegraphic wire : 
" Quickly to Paris ! On arrival, learn 
Why you are wanted ! " Curt and critical ! 

Off starts Leonce, one fear from head to foot ; 
Caen, Rouen, Paris, as the railway helps ; 
Then come the Quai and Number Thirty-three. 
" What is the matter, concierge?" — a grimace ! 
He mounts the staircase, makes for the main seat 
Of dreadful mystery which draws him there — 
Bursts in upon a bedroom known too well — 
There lies all left now of the mother once. 
Tapers define the stretch of rigid white, 
Nor want there ghastly velvets of the grave. 



158 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

A blackness sits on either side at watch, 

Sisters, good souls but frightful all the same, 

Silent : a priest is spokesman for his corpse. 

" Dead, through Leonce Miranda ! stricken down 

Without a minute's warning, yesterday ! 

What did she say to you, and you to her, 

Two months ago ? This is the consequence ! 

The doctors have their name for the disease ; 

I, you, and God say — heart-break, nothing more ! " 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda, like a stone 

Fell at the bedfoot and found respite so, 

While the priest went to tell the company. 

What follows you are free to disbelieve. 

It may be true or false that this good priest 

Had taken his instructions, — who shall blame ? — 

From quite another quarter than, perchance, 



OR TURF kND TOWERS 159 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda might suppose 

Would offer solace in such pressing need. 

All he remembered of his kith and kin 

Was, they were worthily his substitutes 

In commerce, did their work and drew their pay. 

But they remembered, in addition, this — 

They fairly might expect inheritance, 

As nearest kin, called Family by law 

And gospel both. Now, since Miranda's life 

Showed nothing like abatement of distaste 

For conjugality, but preference 

Continued and confirmed of that smooth chain 

Which slips and leaves no knot behind, no heir — 

Presumption was, the man, become mature, 

Would at a calculable day, discard 

His old and outworn . . what we blush to name, 



160 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And make society the just amends ; 

Scarce by a new attachment — Heaven forbid ! 

Still less by lawful marriage : that's reserved 

For those who make a proper choice at first — 

Not try both courses and would grasp in age 

The very treasure, youth preferred to spurn ! 

No ! putting decently such thought aside, 

The penitent must rather give his powers 

To such a reparation of the past 

As, edifying kindred, makes them rich. 

Now, how would it enrich prospectively 

The Cousins, if he lavished such expense 

On Clairvaux ? — pretty as a toy, but then 

As toy, so much productive, and no more ! 

If all the outcome of the goldsmith's shop 

Went to gild Clairvaux, where remained the funds 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 161 

For Cousinry to spread out lap and take ? 

This must be thought of and provided for ! 

I give it you as mere conjecture, mind ! 

To help explain the wholesome unannounced 

Intelligence, the shock that startled guilt, 

The scenic show, much yellow, black and white 

By taper-shine, the nuns — portentous pair, 

And, more than all, the priest's admonishment — 

" No flattery of self! You murdered her! 

The grey lips, silent now, reprove by mine. 

You wasted all your living, rioted 

In harlotry — she warned and I repeat ! 

No warning had she, for she needed none : 

If this should be the last yourself receive ? " 

Done for the best, no doubt, though clumsily, — 

Such, and so startling, the reception here, 

M 



1 62 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

You hardly wonder if down fell at once 
The tawdry tent, pictorial, musical, 
Poetical, besprent with hearts and darts ; 
Its cobweb-work, betinseled stitchery, 
Lay dust about our sleeper on the turf, 
And showed an outer wall distinct and dread. 

Senseless he fell, and long he lay, and much 
Seemed salutary in his punishment 
To planners and performers of the piece. 
When pain ends, pardon prompt may operate. 
There was a good attendance close at hand, 
Waiting the issue in the great saloon, 
Cousins with consolation and advice. 

All things thus happily performed to point, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 163 

No wonder at success commensurate. 

Once swooning stopped, once anguish subsequent 

Raved out, — a sudden resolution chilled 

His blood and changed his swimming eyes to stone, 

As the poor fellow raised himself upright, 

Collected strength, looked, once for all, his look, 

Then, turning, put officious help aside 

And passed from out the chamber. " For affairs ! " 

So he announced himself to the saloon : 

" We owe a duty to the living too ! " — 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda tried to smile. 

How did the hearts of Cousinry rejoice 
At their stray sheep returning thus to fold, 
As, with a dignity, precision, sense, 
All unsuspected in the man before, 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Monsieur Le'once Miranda made minute 
Detail of his intended scheme of life 
Thenceforward and for ever. " Vanity 
Was ended : its redemption must begin — 
And, certain, would continue ; but since life 
Was awfully uncertain — witness here ! — 
Behoved him lose no moment, but discharge 
Immediate burthen of the world's affairs 
On backs that kindly volunteered to crouch. 
Cousins, with easier conscience, blamelessly 
Might carry on the goldsmith's trade, in brief, 
Uninterfered with by its lord who late 
Was used to supervise and take due tithe. 
A stipend now sufficed his natural need : 
Themselves should fix what sum allows man live. 
But half a dozen words concisely plain 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 165 

Might, first of all, make sure that, on demise, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda's property- 
Passed by bequeathment, every particle, 
To the right heirs, the cousins of his heart. 
As for that woman — they would understand ! 
This was a step would take her by surprise ! 
It were too cruel did he snatch away 
Decent subsistence. She was young, and fair, 
And . . and attractive ! Means must be supplied 
To save her from herself, and from the world, 
And . . from anxieties, might haunt him else 
When he were fain have other thoughts in mind." 

It was a sight to melt a stone, that thaw 

Of rigid disapproval into dew 

Of sympathy, as each extended palm 



166 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of cousin hasted to enclose those five 

Cold fingers, tendered so mistrustfully, 

Despairingly of condonation now ! 

One would have thought, — at every fervent shake, 

In reassurance of those timid tips, — 

The penitent had squeezed, considerate, 

By way of fee into physician's hand 

For physicking his soul, some diamond knob. 

And now let pass a week. Once more behold 
The same assemblage in the same saloon — 
Waiting the entry of protagonist 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda. " Just a week 
Since the death-day, — was ever man transformed 
like this man ? " questioned cousin of his mate. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 167 

Last seal to the repentance had been set 
Three days before, at Sceaux in neighbourhood 
Of Paris, where they laid with funeral pomp 
Mother by father. Let me spare the rest : 
How the poor fellow, in his misery, 
Buried hot face and bosom, where heaped snow 
Offered assistance, at the grave's black edge, 
And there lay, till uprooted by main force 
From where he prayed to grow and ne'er again 
Walk earth unworthily as heretofore. 
It is not with impunity priests teach 
The doctrine he was dosed with from his youth — 
" Pain to the body — profit to the soul; 
Corporeal pleasure — so much woe to pay 
When disembodied spirit gives account." 



1 68 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

However, woe had done its worst, this time. 
Three days allow subsidence of much grief. 
Already, regular and equable, 
Forward went purpose to effect. At once 
The testament was written, signed and sealed. 
Disposure of the commerce — that took time, 
And would not suffer by a week's delay ; 
But the immediate, the imperious need, 
The call demanding of the Cousinry 
Co-operation, what convened them thus, 
Was — how and when should deputation march 
To Coliseum Street, the old abode 
Of wickedness, and there acquaint — oh, shame ! 
Her, its old inmate, who had followed up 
And lay in wait in the old haunt for prey — 
That they had rescued, they possessed Leonce, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 169 

Whose loathing at re-capture equalled theirs — 
Upbraid that sinner with her sinfulness, 
Impart the fellow-sinner's firm resolve 
Never to set eyes on her face again : 
Then, after stipulations strict but just, 
Hand her the first instalment, — moderate 
Enough, no question, — of her salary : 
Admonish for the future, and so end. — 
All which good purposes, decided on 
Sufficiently, were waiting full effect 
When presently the culprit should appear. 

Somehow appearance was delayed too long ; 
Chatting and chirping sunk inconsciously 
To silence, nay, uneasiness, at length 
Alarm, till — anything for certitude ! — 



i;o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

A peeper was commissioned to explore, 

At keyhole, what the laggard's task might be — 

What caused so palpable a disrespect ! 

Back came the tiptoe cousin from his quest. 
" Monsieur Leonce was busy," he believed, 
" Contemplating — those love-letters, perhaps, 
He always carried, as if precious stones, 
About with him. He read, one after one, 
Some sort of letters. But his back was turned. 
The empty coffer open at his side, 
He leant on elbow by the mantelpiece 
Before the hearth-fire \ big and blazing too." 

" Better he shovelled them all in at once, 
And burned the rubbish! " was a cousin's quip, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 171 

Warming his own hands at the fire the while. 
I told you, snow had fallen outside, I think. 

When suddenly a cry, a host of cries, 
Screams, hubbub and confusion thrilled the room. 
All by a common impulse rushed thence, reached 
The late death- chamber, tricked with trappings still, 
Skulls, cross-bones, and such moral broidery. 
Madame Muhlhausen might have played the witch, 
Dropped down the chimney and appalled Leonce 
By some proposal " Parting touch of hand ! n 
If she but touched his foolish hand, you know ! ! 

Something had happened quite contrariwise. 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda, one by one, 
Had read the letters and the love they held, 



172 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And that task finished, had required his soul 
To answer frankly what the prospect seemed 
Of his own love's departure — pledged to part ! 
Then, answer being unmistakable, 
He had replaced the letters quietly, 
Shut coffer, and so, grasping either side 
By its convenient handle, plunged the whole — 
Letters and coffer and both hands to boot, 
Into the burning grate and held them there. 
" Burn, burn and purify my past ! " said he, 
Calmly, as if he felt no pain at all. 

In vain they pulled him from the torture-place : 
The strong man, with the soul of tenfold strength, 
Broke from their clutch : and there again smiled he, 
The miserable hands re-bathed in fire — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 173 

Constant to that ejaculation " Burn, 
Burn, purify ! " And when, combining force, 
They fairly dragged the victim out of reach 
Of further harm, he had no hands to hurt — 
Two horrible remains of right and left, 
" Whereof the bones, phalanges formerly, 
Carbonised, were still crackling with the flame," 
Said Beaumont. And he fought them all the while : 
" Why am I hindered when I would be pure ? 
Why leave the sacrifice still incomplete ? 
She holds me, I must have more hands to burn ! " 
They were the stronger, though, and bound him 
fast. 

Beaumont was in attendance presently. 

" What did I tell you ? Preachment to the deaf ! 



174 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

I wish he had been deafer when they preached, 
Those priests ! But wait till next Republic comes ! " 

As for Leonce, a single sentiment 

Possessed his soul and occupied his tongue — 

Absolute satisfaction at the deed. 

Never he varied, 'tis observable, 

Nor in the stage of agonies (which proved 

Absent without leave, — science seemed to think) 

Nor yet in those three months' febricity 

Which followed, — never did he vary tale — 

Remaining happy beyond utterance. 

" Ineffable beatitude " — I quote 

The words, I cannot give the smile — " such bliss 

Abolished pain ! Pain might or might not be : 

He felt in heaven, where flesh desists to fret. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 17 S 

Purified now and henceforth, all the past 

Reduced to ashes with the flesh defiled ! 

Why all those anxious faces round his bed ? 

What was to#pity in their patient, pray, 

When doctor came and went, and Cousins watched ? 

— Kindness, but in pure waste ! " he said and smiled. 

And if a trouble would at times disturb 

The ambrosial mood, it came from other source 

Than the corporeal transitory pang. 

" If sacrifice be incomplete ! " cried he — 

" If ashes have not sunk reduced to dust, 

To nullity! If atoms coalesce 

Till something grow, grow, get to be a shape 

I hate, I hoped to burn away from me ! 

She is my body, she and I are one, 

Yet, all the same, there, there at bed-foot stands 



176 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The woman wound about my flesh and blood, 
There, the arms open, the more wonderful, 
The whiter for the burning . . Vanish thou! 
Avaunt, fiend's self found in the form I wore ! " 

" Whereat," said Beaumont, " since his hands were gone, 

The patient in a frenzy kicked and kicked 

To keep off some imagined visitant. 

So will it prove as long as priests may preach 

Spiritual terrors !" groaned the evidence 

Of Beaumont that his patient w r as stark mad — 

Produced in time and place : of which anon. 

" Mad, or why thus insensible to pain ? 

Body and soul are one thing, with two names 

For more or less elaborated stuff." 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 177 

Such is the new Religio Medici. 

Though antiquated faith held otherwise, 

Explained that body is not soul, but just 

Soul's servant : that, if soul be satisfied, 

Possess already joy or pain enough, 

It uses to ignore, as master may, 

What increase, joy or pain, its servant brings — 

Superfluous contribution : soul, once served, 

Has nought to do with body's service more. 

Each, speculated on exclusively, 

As if its office were the only one, 

Body or soul, shows either, service paid 

In joy and pain, that's blind and objectless — 

A servant toiling for no master's good — 

Or else shows good received and put to use. 

As if within soul's self grew joy and pain, 

N 



178 • RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Nor needed body for a ministrant. 

I note these old unscientific ways : 

Poor Beaumont cannot : for the Commune ruled 

Next year, and ere they shot his priests, shot him. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda raved himself 

To rest ; lay three long months in bliss or bale, 

Inactive, anyhow : more need that heirs, 

His natural protectors, should assume 

The management, bestir their cousinship, 

And carry out that purpose of reform 

Such tragic work now made imperative. 

A deputation, with austerity, 

Nay, sternness, bore her sentence to the fiend 

Aforesaid, — she at watch for turn of wheel 

And fortune's favour, Street — you know the name. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 179 

A certain roughness seemed appropriate : " You — 
Steiner, Muhlhausen, whatsoe'er your name, 
Cause whole and sole of this catastrophe ! " — 
And so forth, introduced the embassage. 

" Monsieur Leonce Miranda was divorced 
Once and for ever from his — ugly word. 
Himself had gone for good to Portugal : 
They came empowered to act and stipulate. 
Hold ! no discussion ! Terms were settled now : 
So much of present and prospective pay, 
But also — good engagement in plain terms 
She never seek renewal of the past ! " 

This little harmless tale produced effect. 
Madame Muhlhausen owned her sentence just, 



180 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Its execution gentle. " Stern their phrase, 
These kinsfolk with a right she recognised — 
But kind its import probably, which now 
Her agitation, her bewilderment, 
Rendered too hard to understand, perhaps. 
Let them accord the natural delay, 
And she would ponder and decide. Meantime, 
So far was she from wish to follow friend 
Who fled her, that she would not budge from place- 
Now that her friend was fled to Portugal, — 
Never ! She leave this Coliseum Street ? 
No, not a footstep ! " she assured them. 

So— 
They saw they might have left that tale untold 
When, after some weeks more were gone to waste, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 181 

Recovery seemed incontestable, 

And the poor mutilated figure, once 

The gay and glancing fortunate young spark, 

Miranda, humble and obedient took 

The doctor's counsel, issued sad and slow 

From precincts of the sick-room, tottered down, 

And out, and into carriage for fresh air, 

And so drove straight to Coliseum Street, 

And tottered upstairs, knocked, and in a trice 

Was clasped in the embrace of whom you know— 

With much asseveration, I omit, 

Of constancy henceforth till life should end. 

When all this happened, — " What reward," cried she, 

" For judging her Miranda by herself ! 

For never having entertained a thought 

Of breaking promise, leaving home forsooth, 



i82 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

To follow who was fled to Portugal ! 
As if she thought they spoke a word of truth I 
She knew what love was, knew that he loved her ; 
The Cousinry knew nothing of the kind." 

I will not scandalize you and recount 

How matters made the morning pass away. 

Not one reproach, not one acknowledgment, 

One explanation : all was understood ! 

Matters at end, the home-uneasiness 

Cousins were feeling at this jaunt prolonged 

Was ended also by the entry of — 

Not simply him whose exit had been made 

By mild command of doctor " Out with you ! 

I warrant we receive another man ! " 

But — would that I could say, the married pair ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 183 

And, quite another man assuredly, 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda took on him 

Forthwith to bid the trio, priest and nuns, 

Constant in their attendance all this while, 

Take his thanks and their own departure too ; 

Politely but emphatically. Next, 

The Cousins were dismissed : " No protest, pray ! 

Whatever I engaged to do is done, 

Or shall be — I but follow your advice : 

Love I abjure : the lady, you behold, 

Is changed as I myself; her sex is changed : 

This is my Brother — He will tend me now, 

Be all my world henceforth as brother should. 

Gentlemen, of a kinship I revere, 

Your interest in trade is laudable ; 

I purpose to indulge it : manage mine, 



1 84 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

My goldsmith-business in the Place Vendome, 

Wholly — through purchase at the price adjudged 

By experts I shall have assistance from. 

If, in conformity with sage advice, 

I leave a busy world of interests 

I own myself unfit for — yours the care 

That any world of other aims, wherein 

I hope to dwell, be easy of access 

Through ministration of the moneys due, 

As we determine, with all proper speed, 

Since I leave Paris to repair my health. 

Say farewell to our Cousins, Brother mine ! " 

And, all submissiveness, as brother might, 
The lady curtseyed gracefully, and dropt 
More than mere curtsey, a concluding phrase 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 185 

So silver-soft, yet penetrative too, 

That none of it escaped the favoured ears : 

" Had I but credited one syllable, 

I should to-day be lying stretched on straw, 

The produce of your miserable rente \ 

Whereas, I hold him — do you comprehend ? " 

Cousin regarded cousin, turned up eye, 

And took departure, as our Tuscans laugh, 

Each with his added palm-breadth of long nose, — 

Curtailed but imperceptibly, next week, 

When transfer was accomplished, and the trade 

In Paris did indeed become their own, 

But bought by them and sold by him on terms 

'Twixt man and man, — might serve 'twixt wolf and wolf, 

Substitute " bit and clawed " for " signed and sealed " — 

Our ordinary business-terms, in short. 



186 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Another week, and Clairvaux broke in bloom 
At end of April, to receive again 
Monsieur Ldonce Miranda, gentleman, 
Ex-jeweller and goldsmith : never more, — 
According to the purpose he professed, — 
To quit this paradise, his property, 
This Clara, his companion: so it proved. 

The Cousins, each with elongated nose, 
Discussed their bargain, reconciled them soon 
To hard necessity, disbursed the cash, 
And hastened to subjoin, wherever type 
Proclaimed " Miranda " to the public, " Called 
Now Firm-Miranda". There, a colony, 
They flourish underneath the name that still 
Maintains the old repute, I understand. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 187 

They built their Clairvaux, dream-Chateau, in Spain, 

Perhaps — but Place Vendome is waking worth : 

Oh, they lost little! — only, man and man 

Hardly conclude transactions of the kind 

As cousin should with cousin, — cousins think. 

For the rest, all was honorably done, 

So, ere buds break to blossom, let us breathe ! 

Never suppose there was one particle 

Of recrudescence — wound, half-healed before, 

Set freshly running-7-sin, repressed as such, 

New loosened as necessity of life ! 

In all this revocation and resolve, 

Far be sin's self-indulgence from your thought ! 

The man had simply made discovery, 

By process I respect if not admire. 

That what was, was : — that turf, his feet had touched, 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Felt solid just as much as yonder wall 
He saw with eyes, but did not stand upon, 
And could not, if he would, reach in a leap. 
People had told him flowery turf was false 
To footstep, tired the traveller soon, beside : 
That was untrue. They told him " One fair stride 
Plants on safe platform and secures man rest." 
That was untrue. Some varied the advice : 
" Neither was solid, towers no more than turf" 
Double assertion, therefore twice as false. 
" I like these amateurs " — our friend had laughed 
Could he turn what he felt to what he thought, 
And, that again, to what he put in words : 
11 1 like their pretty trial, proof of paste 
Or precious stone, by delicate approach 
Of eye askance, fine feel of finger-tip, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 189 

Or touch of tongue inquisitive for cold. 

I tried my jewels in a crucible: 

Fierce fire has felt them, licked them, left them sound. 

Don't tell me that my earthly love is sham, 

My heavenly fear a clever counterfeit ! 

Each may oppose each, yet be true alike ! " 

To build up, independent of the towers, 

A durable pavilion o'er the turf, 

Had issued in disaster. " What remained 

Except, by tunnel, or else gallery, 

To keep communication 'twixt the two, 

Unite the opposites, both near and far, 

And never try complete abandonment 

Of one or other ? " so he thought, not said. 



190 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And to such engineering feat, I say, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda saw the means 
Precisely in this revocation prompt 
Of just those benefits of worldly wealth 
Conferred upon his Cousinry — all but ! 

This Clairvaux — you would know, were you at top 

Of yonder crowning grace, its Belvedere — 

Is situate in one angle-niche of three, 

At equidistance from Saint-Rambert — there 

Behind you, and The Ravissante, beside — 

There : steeple, steeple, and this Clairvaux-top, 

(A sort of steeple) constitute a trine, 

With not a tenement to break each side, 

Two miles or so in length, if eye can judge. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 191 

Now, this is native land of miracle. 

O why, why, why, from all recorded time, 

Was miracle not wrought, but only once, 

To help whoever wanted help indeed ? 

If on the day when Spring's green girlishness 

Grew nubile and she trembled into May, 

And our Miranda climbed to clasp the Spring 

A-tiptoe o'er the sea, those wafts of warmth, 

Those cloudlets scudding under the bare blue, 

And all that new sun, that fresh hope about 

His airy place of observation, — friend, 

Feel with me that if just then, just for once, 

Some angel, — such as the authentic pen 

Yonder records a daily visitant 

Of ploughman Claude, rheumatic in the joints, 

And spinster Jeanne,"with megrim troubled much, — 



192 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

If such an angel, with nought else to do, 

Had taken station on the pinnacle 

And simply said " Leonce, look straight before ! 

Neither to right hand nor to left : for why ? 

Being a stupid soul, you want a guide 

To turn the goodness in you to account 

And make stupidity submit itself. 

Go to Saint-Rambert ! Straightway get such guide ! 

There stands a man of men. You, jeweller, 

Must needs have heard how once the biggest block 

Of diamond now in Europe lay exposed 

Mid specimens of stone and earth and ore, 

On huckster's stall, — Navona names the Square, 

And Rome the city for the incident, — 

Labelled * quartz-crystal, price one halfpenny.' 

Haste and secure that ha'p'worth, on your life ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 193 

That man will read you rightly head to foot, 
Mark the brown face of you, the bushy beard, 
The breadth 'twixt shoulderblades, and through each black 
Castilian orbit, see into your soul. 
Talk to him for five minutes — nonsense, sense, 
No matter what — describe your horse, your hound, — 
Give your opinion of the policy 
Of Monsieur Rouher, — will he succour Rome ? 
Your estimate of what may outcome be 
From (Ecumenical Assemblage there ! 
After which samples of intelligence, 
Rapidly run through those events you call 
Your past life, tell what once you tried to do, 
What you intend on doing this next May ! 
There he stands, reads an English newspaper, 
Stock-still, and now, again upon the move, 

o 



194 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Paces the beach to taste the Spring, like you, 
Since both are human beings in God's eye. 
He will have understood you, I engage. 
Endeavour, for your part, to understand 
He knows more, and loves better, than the world 
That never heard his name, and never may. 
He will have recognised, ere breath be spent 
And speech at end, how much that's good in man, 
And generous, and self-devoting, makes 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda worth his help ; 
While sounding to the bottom ignorance 
Historical and philosophical 
And moral and religious, all one couch 
Of crassitude, a portent of its kind. 
Then, just as he would pityingly teach 
Your body to repair maltreatment, give 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 195 

Advice that you should make those stumps to stir 

With artificial hands of caoutchouc, 

So would he soon supply your crippled soul 

With crutches, from his own intelligence, 

Able to help you onward in the path 

Of rectitude whereto your face is set, 

And counsel justice — to yourself, the first, 

To your associate, very like a wife 

Or something better, — to the world at large, 

Friends, strangers, horses, hounds and Cousinry — 

All which amount of justice will include 

Justice to God. Go and consult his voice ! " 

Since angel would not say this simple truth, 

What hinders that my heart relieve itself, 

O friend, who makest warm my wintry world, 

And wise my heaven, if there we consort too ? 



196 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda turned, alas, 
Or was turned, by no angel, t'other way, 
And got him guidance of The Ravissante. 

Now, into the originals of faith, 

Yours, mine, Miranda's, no enquiry here ! 

Of faith, as apprehended by mankind, 

The causes, were they caught and catalogued, 

Would too distract, too desperately foil 

Enquirer. How may analyst reduce 

Quantities to exact their opposites, 

Value to zero, then bring zero back 

To value of supreme preponderance ? 

How substitute thing meant for thing expressed ? 

Detect the wire-thread through that fluffy silk 

Men call their rope, their real compulsive power ? 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 197 

Suppose effected such anatomy, 
And demonstration made of what belief 
Has moved believer — were the consequence 
Reward at all ? would each man straight deduce, 
From proved reality of cause, effect 
Conformable ? believe and unbelieve 
According to your True thus disengaged 
From all his heap of False called reason first ? 

No : hand once used to hold a soft thick twist, 

Cannot now grope its way by wire alone : 

Childhood may catch the knack, scarce Youth, not Age ! 

That's the reply rewards you. Just as well 

Remonstrate to yon peasant in the blouse 

That, had he justified the true intent 

Of Nature who composed him thus and thus, 



198 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Weakly or strongly, here he would not stand 
Struggling with uncongenial earth and sky, 
But elsewhere tread the surface of the globe, 
Since one meridian suits the faulty lungs, 
Another bids the sluggish liver work. 
" Here I was born, for better or for worse : 
I did not choose a climate for myself; 
Admit, my life were healthy, led elsewhere," 
(He answers) " how am I to migrate, pray?" 

Therefore the course to take is — spare your pains, 

And trouble uselessly with discontent 

Nor soul nor body, by parading proof 

That neither haply had known ailment, placed 

Precisely where the circumstance forbade 

Their lot should fall to either of the pair. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 199 

But try and, what you find wrong, remedy, 

Accepting the conditions : never ask 

" How came you to be born here with those 

lungs, 
That liver ? " But bid asthma smoke a pipe, 
Stramonium, just as if no Tropics were, 
And ply with calomel the sluggish duct, 
Nor taunt " The born Norwegian breeds no bile ! " 
And as with body, so proceed with soul : 
Nor less discerningly, where faith you found. 
However foolish and fantastic, grudge 
To play the doctor and amend mistake, 
Because a wisdom were conceivable 
Whence faith had sprung robust above disease. 
Far beyond human help, that source of things ! 
Since, in the first stage, so to speak, — first stare 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of apprehension at the invisible, 

Begins divergency of mind from mind, 

Superior from inferior : leave this first ! 

Little you change there ! What comes afterward — 

From apprehended thing, each inference 

With practicality concerning life, 

This you may test and try, confirm the right 

Or contravene the wrong which reasons there. 

The offspring of the sickly faith must prove 

Sickly act also : stop a monster-birth ! 

When water 's in the cup and not the cloud, 

Then is the proper time for chemic test : 

Belief permits your skill to operate 

When, drop by drop condensed from misty heaven, 

'Tis wrung out, lies a bowl-full in the fleece. 

How dew came down to earth, let Gideon say : 



OR TURF AND TOWERS i 

What purpose water serves, your word or two 
May teach him, should he fancy it lights fire. 

Concerning, then, our vaporous Ravissante — 
How fable first precipitated faith — 
Silence you get upon such point from me. 
But when I see come posting to the pair 
At Clairvaux, for the cure of soul-disease, 
This Father of the Mission, Parish-priest, 
This Mother of the Convent, Nun I know — 
They practise in that second stage of things ; 
They boast no fresh distillery of faith ; 
Tis dogma in the bottle, bright and old, 
They bring ; and I pretend to pharmacy. 
They undertake the cure with all my heart ! 
He trusts them, and they surely trust themselves. 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

I ask no better. Never mind the cause, 

Fons et origo of the malady, 

Apply the drug with courage ! Here's our 

case. 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda asks of God, 
— May a man, living in illicit tie, 
Continue, by connivance of the Church, 
No matter what amends he please to make 
Short of forthwith relinquishing the sin ? 
Physicians, what do you propose for cure ? 

Father and Mother of the Ravissante, 
Read your own records, and you find prescribed 
As follows, when a couple out of sorts 
Rather than gravely suffering, sought your skill 
And thereby got their health again. Perpend ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 20 

Two and a half good centuries ago, 
Luc de la Maison Rouge, a nobleman 
Of Claise, (the river gives this country name) 
And, just as noblewoman, Maude his wife, 
Having been married many happy years 
Spent in God's honor and man's service too, 
Conceived, while yet in flower of youth and hope, 
The project of departing each from each 
Forever, and dissolving marriage-bonds 
That both might enter a religious life. 
Needing, before they came to such resolve, 
Divine illumination, — course was clear, — 
They visited your church in pilgrimage. 
On Christmas morn, communicating straight, 
They heard three Masses proper for the day, 
"It is incredible with what effect " — 



204 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Quoth the Cistercian monk I copy from — 
And, next day, came, again communicants, 
Again heard Masses manifold, but now 
With added thanks to Christ for special grace 
And consolation granted : in the night, 
Had been divorce from marriage, manifest 
By signs and tokens. So, they made great gifts, 
Left money for more Masses, and returned 
Homeward rejoicing — he, to take the rules, 
As Brother Dionysius, Capucin, 
She, to become first postulant, then nun 
According to the rules of Benedict, 
Sister Scolastica : so ended they, 
And so do I — not end nor yet commence 
One note or comment. What was done was 
done. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 205 

Now, Father of the Mission, here's your case ! 

And, Mother of the Convent, here 's its cure ! 

If separation was permissible, 

And that decree of Christ " What God hath joined 

Let no man put asunder " nullified 

Because a couple, blameless in the world, 

Had the conceit that, still more blamelessly, 

Out of the world, by breach of marriage-vow, 

Their life was like to pass, — you oracles 

Of God, — since holy Paul says such you are, — 

Hesitate, not one moment, to pronounce 

When questioned by the pair now needing help 

" Each from the other go, you guilty ones, 

Preliminary to your least approach 

Nearer the Power that thus could strain a point 

In favour of a pair of innocents 



2o6 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Who thought their wedded hands not clean enough 
To touch and leave unsullied their souls' snow ! 
Are not your hands found filthy by the world, 
Mere human law and custom ? Not a step 
Nearer till hands be washed and purified ! " 

What they did say is immaterial, since 

Certainly it was nothing of the kind. 

There was no washing hands of him (alack, 

You take me ? — in the figurative sense !) 

But, somehow, gloves were drawn o'er dirt and all, 

And practice with the Church procured thereby. 

Seeing that, — all remonstrance proved in vain, 

Persuasives tried and terrors put to use, 

I nowise question, — when the guilty pair 

Only embraced the closelier, obstinate, — 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 207 

Father and Mother went from Clairvaux back 

Their weary way, with heaviness of heart, 

I grant you, but each palm well crossed with coin, 

And nothing like a smutch perceptible. 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda might compound 

For sin ? — no, surely ! but by gifts — prepare 

His soul the better for contrition, say ! 

Gift followed upon gift, at all events. 

Good counsel was rejected, on one part : 

Hard money, on the other — may we hope 

Was unreflectingly consigned to purse ? 

Two years did this experiment engage 
Monsieur Le'once Miranda : how by gifts 
To God and to God's poor, a man might stay 
In sin and yet stave off sin's punishment. 



208 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

No salve could be conceived more nicely mixed 

For this man's nature : generosity, — 

Susceptibility to human ills, 

Corporeal, mental, — self-devotedness 

Made up Miranda — whether strong or weak 

Elsewhere, may be enquired another time. 

In mercy, he was strong, at all events. 

Enough ! he could not see a beast in pain, 

Much less a man, without the will to aid ; 

And where the will was, there the means were too, 

Since that good bargain with the Cousinry. 

The news flew fast about the countryside 
That, with the kind man, it was ask and have ; 
And ask and have they did. To instance you : — 
A mob of beggars at The Ravissante 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 209 

Clung to his skirts one day, and cried " We thirst ! " 
Forthwith he bade a cask of wine be broached 
To satisfy all comers, till, dead-drunk 
And satisfied, they strewed the holy place. 
For this was grown religious and a rite : 
Such slips of judgment, gifts irregular, 
Showed but as spillings of the golden grist 
On either side the hopper, through blind zeal; 
Steadily the main stream went pouring on 
From mill to mouth of sack — held wide and close 
By Father of the Mission, Parish-priest, 
And Mother of the Convent, Nun I know, 
With such effect that, in the sequel, proof 
Was tendered to the Court at Vire, last month, 
That in these same two years, expenditure 
At quiet Clairvaux rose to the amount 
p 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Of Forty Thousand English pounds : whereof 
A trifle went, no inappropriate close 
Of bounty, to supply the Virgin's crown 
With that stupendous jewel from New-York, 
Now blazing as befits the Star of Sea. 

Such signs of grace, outward and visible, 

I rather give you, for your sake and mine, 

Than put in evidence the inward strife, 

Spiritual effort to compound for fault 

By payment of devotion — thank the phrase ! 

That payment was as punctual, do not doubt, 

As its far easier fellow. Yesterday 

I trudged the distance from The Ravissante 

To Clairvaux, with my two feet : but our friend, 

The more to edify the country-folk, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

Was wont to make that journey on both knees. 

" Maliciously perverted incident ! " 

Snarled the retort, when this was told at Vire : 

" The man paid mere devotion as he passed, 

Knelt decently at just each wayside shrine ! " 

Alas, my lawyer, I trudged yesterday — 

On my two feet, and with both eyes wide ope,— 

The distance, and could find no shrine at all ! 

According to his lights, I praise the man. 

Enough ! incessant was devotion, say — 

With her, you know of, praying at his side. 

Still, there be relaxations of the tense : 

Or life indemnifies itself for strain, 

Or finds its very strain grow feebleness. 

Monsieur Le'once Miranda's days were passed 

Much as of old, in simple work and play. 



RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

His first endeavour, on recovery 
From that sad ineffectual sacrifice, 
Had been to set about repairing loss : 
Never admitting, loss was to repair. 
No word at any time escaped his lips 
— Betrayed a lurking presence, in his heart, 
Of sorrow ; no regret for mischief done — 
Punishment suffered, he would rather say. 
Good-tempered school-boy-fashion, he preferred 
To laugh away his flogging, fair price paid 
For pleasure out of bounds : if needs must be, 
Get pleasure and get flogged a second time ! 
A sullen subject would have nursed the scars 
And made excuse, for throwing grammar by, 
That bench was grown uneasy to the seat. 
No : this poor fellow cheerfully got hands 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 213 

Fit for his stumps, and what hands failed to do, 

The other members did in their degree — 

Unwonted service. With his mouth alone 

He wrote, nay, painted pictures — think of that ! 

He played on a piano pedal-keyed, 

Kicked out — if it was Bach's — good music thence. 

He rode, that's readily conceivable, 

But then he shot and never missed his bird, 

With other feats as dexterous : I infer 

He was not ignorant what hands are worth, 

When he resolved on ruining his own. 

So the two years passed somehow — who shall 

say 
Foolishly, — as one estimates mankind, 
The work they do, the play they leave undone ? — 



214 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Two whole years spent in that experiment 
I told you of, at Clairvaux all the time. 
From April on to April : why that month 
More than another, notable in life ? 
Does the awakening of the year arouse 
Man to new projects, nerve him for fresh feats 
Of what proves, for the most part of mankind 
Playing or working, novel folly too ? 
At any rate, I see no slightest sign 
Of folly (let me tell you in advance) 
Nothing but wisdom meets me manifest 
In the procedure of the Twentieth Day 
Of April, 'Seventy, — folly's year in France. 

It was delightful Spring, and out of doors 
Temptation to adventure. Walk or ride ? 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 

There was a wild young horse to exercise, 
And teach the way to go and pace to keep : 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda chose to ride. 
So, while they clapped soft saddle straight on 

back, 
And bitted jaw to satisfaction, — since 
The partner of his days must stay at home, 
Teazed by some trifling legacy of March 
To throat or shoulder, — visit duly paid 
And " farewell " given and received again, — 
As chamber-door considerately closed 
Behind him, still five minutes were to spend. 
How better, than by clearing, two and two, 
The staircase-steps and coming out aloft 
Upon the platform yonder (raise your eyes !) 
And tasting, just as those two years before, 



216 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Spring's bright advance upon the tower a-top, 
The feature of the front, the Belvedere ? 

Look at it for a moment while I breathe. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 217 



IV 
Ready to hear the rest ? How good you are ! 

Now for this Twentieth splendid day of Spring, 

All in a tale, — sun, wind, sky, earth and sea, — 

To bid man, " Up, be doing ! " Mount the stair, 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda mounts so brisk, 

And look — ere his elastic foot arrive — 

Your longest, far and wide, o'er fronting space. 

Yon white streak — Havre lighthouse ! Name and name, 

How the mind runs from each to each relay, 

Town after town, till Paris' self be touched/ 

Superlatively big with life and death 



218 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

To all the world, that very day perhaps ! 
But who stepped out upon the platform here, 
Pinnacled over the expanse, gave thought 
Neither to Rouher nor Ollivier, Roon 
Nor Bismarck, Emperor nor King, but just 
To steeple, church, and shrine, The Ravissante! 

He saw Her, whom myself saw, but when Spring 
Was passing into Fall : not robed and crowned 
As, thanks to him, and her you know about, 
She stands at present ; but She smiled the same. 
Thither he turned — to never turn away. 

He thought . . 

(Suppose I should prefer "He said?" 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 219 

Along with every act — and speech is act — 

There go, a multitude impalpable 

To ordinary human faculty, 

The thoughts which give the act significance. 

Who is a poet needs must apprehend 

Alike both speech and thoughts which prompt to speak. 

Part these, and thought withdraws to poetry : 

Speech is reported in the newspaper.) 

He said, then, probably no word at all, 

But thought as follows — in a minute's space — 

One particle of ore beats out such leaf ! 

" This Spring-morn, I am forty-three years old : 
In prime of life, perfection of estate 
Bodily, mental,, nay, material too, — 



RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

My very worldly fortunes reach their height. 

Body and soul alike on eminence : 

It is not probable I ever raise 

Soul above standard by increase of worth, 

Nor reasonably may expect to lift 

Body beyond the present altitude. 

"Behold me, Lady called The Ravissante! 
Such as I am, I — gave myself to you 
So long since, that I cannot say ' I give.' 
All my belongings, what is summed in life, 
I have submitted wholly — as man might, 
At least, as /might, who am weak, not strong,— 
Wholly, then, to your rule and governance, 
So far as I had strength. My weakness was — 
I felt a fascination, at each point 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 221 

And pore of me, a Power as absolute 
Claiming, my soul should recognise her sway. 

you were no whit clearlier Queen, I see, 
Throughout the life that rolls out ribbon-like 
Its shot-silk length behind me, than the strange 
Mystery — how shall I denominate 

The unrobed One ? Robed you go and crowned as well, 
Named by the nations : she is hard to name, 
Though you have spelt out certain characters 
Obscure upon what fillet binds her brow, 
Lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, life's pride. 

1 So call her, and contemn the enchantress ! ' — ' Crush 
The despot, and recover liberty ! ' 

Cry despot and enchantress at each ear. 
You were conspicuous and pre-eminent, 
Authoritative and imperial, — you 



>2 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Spoke first, claimed homage : did I hesitate ? 

Born for no mastery, but servitude, 

I cannot serve two masters, says the Book \ 

Master should measure strength with master, then, 

Before the servant be imposed a task. 

You spoke first, promised best, and threatened most : 

The other never threatened, promised, spoke 

A single word, but, when your part was done, 

Lifted a finger, and I, prostrate, knew 

Films were about me, though you stood aloof 

Smiling or frowning ' Where is power like mine 

To punish or reward thee ? Rise, thou fool ! 

Will to be free, and, lo, I lift thee loose V 

Did I not will, and could I rise a whit ? 

Lay I, at any time, content to lie ? 

6 To lie, at all events, brings pleasure : make 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 223 

Amends by undemanded pain !' I said. 

Did not you prompt me ? ' Purchase now by pain 

Pleasure hereafter in the world to come ! ? 

I could not pluck my heart out, as you bade : 

Unbidden, I burned off my hands at least. 

My soul retained its treasure ; but my purse 

Lightened itself with much alacrity. 

Well, where is the reward ? what promised fruit 

Of sacrifice in peace, content ? what sense 

Of added strength to bear or to forbear ? 

What influx of new light assists me now 

Even to guess you recognise a gain 

In what was loss enough to mortal me ? 

But she, the less authoritative voice, 

Oh, how distinct enunciating, how 

Plain dealing ! Gain she gave was gain indeed ! 



24 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

That, you deny : that, you contemptuous call 

Acorns, swine's food not man's meat ! ' Spurn the draff !' 

Ay, but those life-tree apples I prefer, 

Am I to die of hunger till they drop ? 

Husks keep flesh from starvation, anyhow. 

Give those life-apples ! — one, worth woods of oak, 

Worth acorns by the waggon-load, — one shoot 

Through heart and brain, assurance bright and brief 

That you, my Lady, my own Ravissante, 

Feel, through my famine, served and satisfied, ■ 

Own me, your starveling, soldier of a sort ! 

Your soldier ! do I read my title clear 

Even to call myself your friend, not foe ? 

What is the pact between us but a truce ? 

At best I shall have staved off enmity, 

Obtained a respite, ransomed me from wrath. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 225 

I pay, instalment by instalment, life, 

Earth's tribute-money, pleasures great and small, 

Whereof should at the last one penny piece 

Fall short, the whole heap becomes forfeiture. 

You find in me deficient soldiership : 

Want the whole life or none. I grudge that whole, 

Because I am not sure of recompense : 

Because I want faith. Whose the fault ? I ask. 

If insufficient faith have done thus much, 

Contributed thus much of sacrifice, 

More would move mountains, you are warrant. Well, 

Grant, you, the grace, I give the gratitude ! 

And what were easier ? c Ask and have - folk call 

Miranda's method: ' Have, nor need to ask !' 

So do they formulate your quality 

Superlative beyond my human grace. 
Q 



226 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

The Ravissante, you ravish men away 
From puny aches and petty pains, assuaged 
By man's own art with small expenditure 
Of pill or potion, unless, put to shame, 
Nature is roused and sets things right herself. 
Your miracles are grown our common-place ; 
No day but pilgrim hobbles his last mile, 
Kneels down and rises up, flings crutch away, 
Or else appends it to the reverend heap 
Beneath you, votive cripple-carpentry. 
Some few meet failure — oh, they wanted faith, 
And may betake themselves to La Salette, 
Or seek Lourdes, so that hence the scandal limp ! 
The many get their grace and go their way 
Rejoicing, with a tale to tell, — most like, 
A staff to borrow, since the crutch is gone, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 227 

Should the first telling happen at my house, 

And teller wet his whistle with my wine. 

/ tell this to a doctor and he laughs : 

' Give me permission to cry — Out of bed, 

You loth rheumatic sluggard ! Cheat yon chair 

Of laziness, its gouty occupant ! — 

You should see miracles performed ! But now, 

I give advice, and take as fee ten francs, 

And do as much as does your Ravissante. 

Send her that case of cancer to be cured, 

I have refused to treat for any fee, 

Bring back my would-be patient sound and whole, 

And see me laugh on t' other side my mouth ! ' 

Can he be right, and are you hampered thus ? 

Such pettiness restricts a miracle 

Wrought by the Great Physician, who hears prayer, 



228 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Visibly seated in your mother-lap ? 
He, out of nothing, made sky, earth, and sea, 
And all that in them is, man, beast, bird, fish, 
Down to this insect on my parapet. 
Look how the marvel of a minim crawls ! 
Were I to kneel among the halt and maimed, 
And pray * Who mad'st the insect with ten legs, 
Make me one finger grow where ten were once ! ' 
The very priests would thrust me out of church. 
1 What folly does the madman dare expect ? 
No faith obtains — in this late age, at least — 
Such cure as that ! We ease rheumatics, though ! 7 

" Ay, bring the early ages back again, 

What prodigy were unattainable ? 

I read your annals. Here came Louis Onze, 



OR TURF AAD TOWERS 229 

Gave thrice the sum he ever gave before 

At one time, some three hundred crowns, to wit — 

On pilgrimage to pray for — health, he found ? 

Did he? I do not read it in Commines. 

Here sent poor joyous Marie- Antoinette 

To thank you that a Dauphin dignifiedj 

Her motherhood — since Duke of Normandy 

And Martyr of the Temple, much the same 

As if no robe of hers had dressed you rich, 

No silver lamps, she gave, illumed your shrine ! 

Here, following example, fifty years 

Ago, in gratitude for birth again 

Of yet another destined King of France, 

Did not the Duchess fashion with her hands, 

And frame in gold and crystal, and present 

A bouquet made of artificial flowers ? 



2 3 o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

And was he King of France, and is not he 
Still Count of Chambord? 

" Such the days of faith, 
And such their produce to encourage mine ! 
What now, if I too count without my host ? 
I too have given money, ornament, 
And i artificial flowers ' — which, when I plucked, 
Seemed rooting at my heart and real enough : 
What if I gain thereby nor health of mind, 
Nor youth renewed which perished in its prime, 
Burnt to a cinder 'twixt the red-hot bars, 
Nor gain to see my second baby-hope 
Of managing to live on terms with both 
Opposing potentates, the Power and you, 
Crowned with success, but dawdle out my days 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 2; 

In exile here at Clairvaux, with mock love, 

That gives, while whispering ' Would I dared refuse ! - 

What the loud voice declares my heart's free gift ! 

Mock worship, mock superiority 

O'er those I style the world's benighted ones, 

That irreligious sort I pity so, 

Dumas and even Hertford, who is Duke ? 

" Impiety? Not if I know myself ! 

Not if you know the heart and soul, I bare, 

I bid you cut, hack, slash, anatomize, 

Till peccant part be found and flung away ! 

Demonstrate where I need more faith ! Describe 

What act shall evidence sufficiency 

Of faith, your warrant for such exercise 

Of power, in my behalf, as all the world 



232 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Except poor praying me, declares profuse ? 

Poor me ? It is that world, not me alone, 

That world which prates of fixed laws and the like, 

I fain would save, poor world so ignorant ! 

And your part were — what easy miracle ? 

Oh, Lady, could I make your want like mine ! " 

Then his face grew one luminosity. 

"Simple, sufficient ! Happiness at height ! 

I solve the riddle, I persuade mankind. 

I have been just the simpleton who stands — 

Summoned to claim his patrimonial rights, — 

At shilly-shally, may he knock or no 

At his own door in his own house and home 

Whereof he holds the very title-deeds ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 233 

Here is my title to this property, 

This power you hold for profit of myself 

And all the world at need — which need is now ! 

" My tide — let me hear who controverts ! 

Count Mailleville built yon church. Why did he so ? 

Because he found your image. How came that ? 

His shepherd told him that a certain sheep 

Was wont to scratch with hoof and scrape with horn 

At ground where once the Danes had razed a church. 

Thither he went, and there he dug, and thence 

He disinterred the image he conveyed 

In pomp to Londres yonder, his domain. 

You liked the old place better than the new. 

The Count might surely have divined as much : 

He did not ; someone might have spoke a word : 



234 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

No one did. A mere dream had warned enough, 
That back again in pomp you best were borne : 
No dream warned, and no need of convoy was ; 
An angel caught you up and clapped you down — 
No mighty task, you stand one metre high, 
And people carry you about at times. 
Why, then, did you despise the simple course ? 
Because you are the Queen of Angels : when 
You front us in a picture, there flock they, 
Angels around you, here and everywhere. 

" Therefore, to prove indubitable faith, 
Those angels that acknowledge you their queen, 
I summon them to bear me to your feet 
From Clairvaux through the air, an easy trip ! 
Faith without flaw ! I trust your potency, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 235 

Benevolence, your will to save the world — 

By such a simplest of procedures, too ! 

Not even by affording angel-help, 

Unless it please you : there's a simpler mode : 

Only suspend the law of gravity, 

And, while at back, permitted to propel, 

The air helps onward, let the air in front 

Cease to oppose my passage through the midst! 

" Thus I bestride the railing, leg o'er leg, 
Thus, lo, I stand, a single inch away, 
At dizzy edge of death, — no touch of fear, 
As safe on tower above as turf below ! 
Your smile enswathes me in beatitude, 
You lift along the votary — who vaults, 
Who, in the twinkling of an eye, revives, 



236 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Dropt safely in the space before the church — 

How crowded, since this morn is market-day ! 

I shall not need to speak. The news will run 

Like wild-fire. i Thousands saw Miranda's flight ! ' 

'Tis telegraphed to Paris in a trice. 

The Boulevard is one buzz ' Do you believe ? 

Well, this time, thousands saw Miranda's flight : 

You know him, goldsmith in the Place Vendome.' 

In goes the Empress to the Emperor 

1 Now — will you hesitate to make disgorge 

Your wicked King of Italy his gains, 

Give the Legations to the Pope once more ? ' 

Which done, — why, grace goes back to operate, 

They themselves set a good example first, 

Resign the empire twenty years usurped, 

And Henry, the Desired One, reigns o'er France ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 237 

Regenerated France makes all things new ! 
My house no longer stands on Quai Rousseau 
But Quai rechristened Alacoque : a quai 
Where Renan burns his book, and Veuillot burns 
Renan beside, since Veuillot rules the roast, 
Re-edits now indeed ' The Universe/ 
O blessing, O superlatively big 
With blessedness beyond all blessing dreamed 
By man! for just that promise has effect, 
' Old things shall pass away and all be new ! ' 
Then, for a culminating mercy-feat, 
Wherefore should I dare dream impossible 
That I too have my portion in the change ? 
My past with all its sorrow, sin and shame, 
Becomes a blank, a nothing ! There she stands, 
Clara de Millefleurs, all deodorized, 



238 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Twenty years' stain wiped off her innocence ! 
There never was Muhlhausen, nor at all 
Duke Hertford: nought that was, remains, except 
The beauty, — yes, the beauty is unchanged ! 
Well, and the soul too, that must keep the same ! 
And so the trembling little virgin hand 
Melts into mine, that's back again, of course ! 
— Think not I care about my poor old self ! 
I only want my hand for that one use, 
To take her hand, and say ' I marry you — 
Men, women, angels, you behold my wife ! 
There is no secret, nothing wicked here, 
Nothing she does not wish the world to know ! ' 
None of your married women have the right 
To mutter * Yes, indeed, she beats us all 
In beauty, — but our lives are pure at least !' 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 239 

Bear witness, for our marriage is no thing 
Done in a corner ! Tis The Ravissante 
Repairs the wrong of Paris. See, She smiles, 
She beckons, She bids ' Hither, both of you ! ■ 
And may we kneel ? And will you bless us both ? 
And may I worship you, and yet love her ? 
Then !"— 

A sublime spring from the balustrade 
About the tower so often talked about, 
A flash in middle air, and stone-dead lay 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda on the turf. 

A gardener who watched, at work the while 

Dibbling a flower-bed for geranium-shoots, 

Saw the catastrophe, and, straitening back, 

Stood up and shook his brows. " Poor soul, poor soul 



2 4 o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Just what I prophesied the end would be ! 

Ugh — the Red Night-cap ! " (as he raised the head) 

" This must be what he meant by those strange words 

While I was weeding larkspurs, yesterday, 

1 Angels would take him ! ' Mad ! " 

No ! sane, I say. 
Such being the conditions of his life, 
Such end of life was not irrational. 
Hold a belief, you only half-believe, 
With all-momentous issues either way, — 
And I advise you imitate this leap, 
Put faith to proof, be cured or killed at once ! 
Call you man, killed through cutting cancer out, 
The worse for such an act of bravery ? 
That's more than / know. In my estimate, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 241 

Belter lie prostrate on his turf at peace, 
Than, wistful, eye, from out the tent, the tower, 
Racked with a doubt " Will going on bare knees 
All the way to The Ravissante and back, 
Saying my Ave Mary all the time, 
Somewhat excuse if I postpone my march ? 
— Make due amends for that one kiss I gave 
In gratitude to her who held me out 
Superior Fricquot's sermon, hot from press, 
A-spread with hands so sinful yet so smooth ? ' ' 

And now, sincerely do I pray she stand, 
Clara, with interposing sweep of robe, 
Between us and this horror ! Any screen 
Turns white by contrast with the tragic pall ; 
And her dubiety distracts at least, 

R 



242 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

As well as snow, from such decided black. 
With womanhood, at least, we have to do : 
Ending with Clara — is the word too kind ? 

Let pass the shock ! There's poignancy enough 
When what one parted with, a minute since, 
Alive and happy, is returned a wreck — 
All that was, all that seemed about to be, 
Razed out and ruined now for evermore, 
Because a straw descended on this scale 
Rather than that, made death o'er-balance life. 
But think of cage-mates in captivity, 
Inured to day-long, night-long vigilance 
Each of the other's tread and angry turn 
When, bolt on prison-bars, a captive came 
These two, society shut out, and thus 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 243 

Penned in, to settle down and regulate 
By the strange law, the solitary life — 
When death divorces such a fellowship, 
This may pair off with that prodigious woe 
Imagined of a ghastly brotherhood — 
One watcher left in lighthouse out at sea, 
With leagues of surf between the land and him, 
Alive with his dead partner on the rock ; 
One galley-slave, whom curse and blow compel 
To labour on at oar — beside his chain, 
Encumbered with his corpse-companion now. 
Such these : although, no prisoners, self-entrenched, 
They kept the world off from their barricade. 

Memory, gratitude was poignant, sure, 
Though pride brought consolation of a kind. 



244 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUATKY 

Twenty years long, had Clara been — of whom 
The rival, nay, the victor, past dispute ? 
What if in turn The Ravissante at length 
Proved victor — which was doubtful — any how, 
Here lay the inconstant with, conspicuous too, 
The fruit of his good fortune ! 

" Has he gained 
By leaving me ? " she might soliloquize : 
" All love could do, I did for him. I learned 
By heart his nature, what he loved and loathed, 
Leaned to with liking, turned from with distaste. 
No matter what his least velleity, 
I was determined he should want no wish, 
And in conformity administered 
To his requirement j most of joy I mixed 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 245 

With least of sorrow in life's daily draught, 

Twenty years long, life's proper average. 

And when he got to quarrel with my cup, 

Would needs out-sweeten honey, and discard 

That gall- drop we require lest nectar cloy, — 

I did not call him fool, and vex my friend, 

But quietly allowed experiment, 

Encouraged him to dust his drink, and now 

Grate lig?iu?n vita, now bruise so-called grains 

Of Paradise, and now, for perfume, pour 

Distilment rare, the rose of Jericho, 

Holy-thorn, passion-flower, and what know I ? 

Till beverage obtained the fancied smack. 

'Twas wild-flower-wine that neither helped nor harmed 

Who sipped and held it for restorative — 

What harm ? But here has he been through the hedge 



246 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Straying in search of simples, while my back 
Was turned a minute, and he finds a prize, 
Monkshood and belladonna ! O my child, 
My truant little boy, despite the beard, 
The body two feet broad and six feet long, 
And what the" calendar counts middle age — 
You wanted, did you, to enjoy a flight? 
Why not have taken into confidence 
Me, that was mother to you ? — never mind 
What mock disguise of mistress held you mine ! 
Had you come laughing, crying, with request, 
1 Make me fly, mother ! ' I had run upstairs 
And held you tight the while I danced you high 
In air from tower-top, singing ' Off we go 
(On pilgrimage to Lourdes some day next month) 
And swift we soar (to Rome with Peter-pence) 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 247 

And low we light (at Paris where we pick 
Another jewel from our store of stones 
And send it for a present to the Pope) ! ' 
So, dropt indeed you were, but on my knees, 
Rolling and crowing, not a bit the worse 
For journey to your Ravissante and back. 
Now, no more Clairvaux — which I made you 

build, 
And think an inspiration of your own — 
No more fine house, trim garden, pretty park, 
Nothing I used to busy you about, 
And make believe you worked for my surprise 
What weariness to me will work become 
Now that I need not seem surprised again ! 
This boudoir, for example, with the doves 
(My stupid maid has damaged, dusting one) 



248 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

Embossed in stucco o'er the looking-glass 
Beside the toilet- table ! dear — dear me ! " 

Here she looked up from her absorbing grief, 

And round her, crow-like grouped, the Cousinry, 

(She grew aware) sat witnesses at watch. 

For, two days had elapsed since fate befell 

The courser in the meadow, stretched so stark. 

They did not cluster on the tree-tops, close 

Their sooty ranks, caw and confabulate 

For nothing : but, like calm determined crows, 

They came to take possession of their corpse. 

And who shall blame them? Had not they the right? 

One spoke. " They would be gentle, not austere. 
They understood, and were compassionate. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 



249 



Madame Muhlhausen lay too abject now 

For aught but the sincerest pity ; still, 

Since plain speech salves the wound it seems to make, 

They must speak plainly — circumstances spoke ! 

Sin had conceived and brought forth death indeed. 

As the commencement, so the close of things : 

Just what might be expected all along ! 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda launched his youth 

Into a cesspool of debauchery, 

And, if he thence emerged all dripping slime, 

— " Where was the change except from thin to thick. 

One warm rich mud-bath, Madame ? — you, in place 

Of Paris-drainage and distilment, you ■ 

He never needed budge from, boiled to rags ! 

True, some good instinct left the natural man, 

Some touch of that deep dye wherewith imbued 



250 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

By education, in his happier day, 

The hopeful offspring of high parentage 

Was fleece-marked moral and religious sheep, — 

Some ruddle, faint remainder, (we admit) 

Stuck to Miranda, rubbed he ne'er so rude 

Against the goatly coarseness : to the last, 

Moral he styled himself, religious too ! 

Which means — what ineradicable good, 

You found, you never left till good's self proved 

Perversion and distortion, nursed to growth 

So monstrous, that the tree-stock, dead and dry, 

Were seemlier far than such a heap grotesque 

Of fungous flourishing excrescence. Here, 

Sap-like affection, meant for family, 

Stole off to feed one sucker fat — yourself; 

While branchage, trained religiously aloft 



OR TURF AND TOWERS . 251 

To rear its head in reverence to the sun, 

Was pulled down earthward, pegged and picketed, 

By topiary contrivance, till the tree 

Became an arbour where, at vulgar ease, 

Sat superstition grinning through the loops. 

Still, nature is too strong or else too weak 

For cockney treatment : either, tree springs back 

To pristine shape, or else degraded droops, 

And turns to touchwood at the heart. So here — 

Body and mind, at last the man gave way. 

His body — there it lies, what part was left 

Unmutilated ! for, the strife commenced 

Two years ago, when, both hands burnt to ash, 

A branch broke loose, by loss of what choice twigs ! 

As for his mind — behold our register 

Of all its moods, from the incipient mad, 



\2 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Nay, mere erratic, to the stark insane, 
Absolute idiocy or what is worse ! 
All have we catalogued — extravagance 
In worldly matters, luxury absurd, 
And zeal as crazed in its expenditure 
Of nonsense called devotion. Don't we know 
— We Cousins, bound in duty to our kin, — 
What mummeries were practised by you two 
At Clairvaux ? Not a servant got discharge 
But came and told his grievance, testified 
To acts which turn religion to a farce. 
And as the private mock, so patent — see — 
The public scandal ! Ask the neighbourhood — 
( )r rather, since we asked them long ago, 
Read what they answer, depositions down, 
Signed, sealed and sworn to ! Brief, the man was mad. 
We are his heirs and claim our heritage 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 253 

Madame Muhlhausen, — whom good taste forbids 

We qualify as do these documents, — 

Fear not lest justice stifle mercy's prayer ! 

True, had you lent a willing ear at first, 

Had you obeyed our call two years ago, 

Restrained a certain insolence of eye, 

A volubility of tongue, that time, 

Your prospects had been none the worse, perhaps. 

Still, fear not but a decent competence 

Shall smooth the way for your declining age ! 

What we propose, then . ." 

Clara dried her eyes, 
Sat up, surveyed the consistory, spoke, 
After due pause, with something of a smile. 

" Gentlemen, kinsfolk of my friend defunct, 



254 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

In thus addressing me — of all the world ! — 

You much misapprehend what part I play. 

I claim no property you speak about. 

You might as well address the park-keeper, 

Harangue him on some plan advisable 

For covering the park with cottage-plots. 

He is the servant, no proprietor, 

His business is to see the sward kept trim, 

Untrespassed over by the indiscreet : 

Beyond that, he refers you to myself — 

Another servant of another kind — 

Who again — quite as limited in act — 

Refer you, with your projects, — can I else ? 

To who in mastery is ultimate, 

The Church. The Church is sole administrant, 

Since sole possessor of what worldly wealth 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 255 

Monsieur Leonce Miranda late possessed. \ 
Often enough has he attempted, nay, 
Forced me, well-nigh, to occupy the post 
You seemingly suppose I fill, — receive 
As gift the wealth entrusted me as grace. 
This — for quite other reasons than appear 
So cogent to your perspicacity, — 
This I refused ; and, firm as you could wish, 
Still was my answer ' We two understand 
Each one the other. I am intimate 
— As how can be mere fools and knaves— or, say, 
Even your Cousins ? — with your love to me, 
Devotion to the Church. Would Providence 
Appoint, and make me certain of the same, 
That I survive you (which is little like, 
Seeing you hardly overpass my age 



256 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

And more than match me in abundant health) 
In such case, certainly I would accept 
Your bounty : better I than alien hearts 
Should execute your planned benevolence 
To man, your proposed largess to the Church. 
But though I be survivor, — weakly frame, 
With only woman's wit to make amends, — 
When I shall die, or while I am alive, 
Cannot you figure me an easy mark 
For hypocritical rapacity, 
Kith, kin and generation, couching low, 
Ever on the alert to pounce on prey? 
Far be it I should say they profited 
By that first frenzy-fit themselves induced, — 
Cold-blooded scenical buffoons at sport 
With horror and damnation o'er a grave : 
That were too shocking — I absolve them there ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 257 

Nor did they seize the moment of your swoon 

To rifle pocket, wring a paper thence, 

Their Cousinly dictation, and enrich 

Thereby each mother's son as heart could wish, 

Had nobody supplied a codicil. 

But when the pain, poor friend ! had prostrated 

Your body, though your soul was right again, 

I fear they turned your weakness to account ! 

Why else to me, who agonizing watched, 

Sneak, cap in hand, now bribe me to forsake 

My maimed Leonce, now bully, cap on head, 

The impudent pretension to assuage 

Such sorrows as demanded Cousin's care ? — 

For you rejected, hated, tied me, far 

In foreign lands yon laughed at me ! — they judged, 

And, think you, will the unkind ones hesitate 



258 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

To try conclusions with my helplessness, — 

To pounce on, misuse me, your derelict, 

Helped by advantage that bereavement lends 

Folks, who, while yet you lived, played tricks like these ? 

You only have to die, and they detect, 

In all you said and did, insanity ! 

Your faith was fetish-worship, your regard 

For Christ's prime precept which endows the poor 

And strips the rich, a craze from first to last ! 

They so would limn your likeness, paint your life, 

That if it ended by some accident, — 

For instance, if, attempting to arrange 

The plants below that dangerous Belvedere 

I cannot warn you from sufficiently, 

You lost your balance and fell headlong — fine 

Occasion, such, for crying Suicide ! 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 259 

Non compos mentis, naturally next, 
Hands over Clairvaux to a Cousin-tribe 
Who nor like me nor love The Ravissante, 
Therefore be ruled by both ! Life-interest 
In Clairvaux, — conservation, guardianship 
Of earthly good for heavenly purpose, — give 
Such and no other proof of confidence ! 
Let Clara represent the Ravissante ! ' 
— To whom accordingly, he then and there 
Bequeathed each stick and stone, by testament 
In holograph, mouth managing the quill : 
Go, see the same in Londres, if you doubt ! " 

Then smile grew laugh, as sudden up she stood 
And out she spoke : intemperate the speech ! 



260 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" And now, sirs, for your special courtesy, 

Your candle held up to the character 

Of Lucie Steiner, whom you qualify 

As coming short of perfect womanhood. 

Yes, kindly critics, truth for once you tell ! 

True is it that through childhood, poverty, 

Sloth, pressure of temptation, I succumbed, 

And, ere I found what honor meant, lost mine. 

So was the sheep Jost, which the Shepherd found 

And never lost again. My friend found me; 

Or better say, the Shepherd found us both — 

Since he, my friend, was much in the same mire 

When first we made acquaintance. Each helped each,- 

A two-fold extrication from the slough ; 

And, saving me, he saved himself. Since then, 

Unsmirched we kept our cleanliness of coat. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 261 

It is his perfect constancy, you call; 
My friend's main fault — he never left his love! 
While as for me, I dare your worst, impute 
One breach of loving bond, these twenty years, 
To me whom only cobwebs bound, you count ! 
4 He was religiously disposed in youth ! ' 
That may be, though we did not meet at church. 
Did he become Voltairian like your scamps, 
Under my teaching, fools who mock his faith ? 
4 Infirm of body ! ' I am silent there : 
Even yourselves acknowledge service done, 
Whatever motive your own souls supply 
As inspiration. Love made labour light." 

Then laugh grewfrown, and frown grew terrible. 
Do recollect what sort oi person shrieked — 



262 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

" Such was I, saint or sinner, what you please: 

And who is it casts stone at me but you ? 

By your own showing, sirs, you bought and 

sold, 
Took what advantage bargain promised bag, 
Abundantly did business, and with whom ? 
Miranda ! — you pronounce imbecile, push 
Indignantly aside if he presume 
To settle his affairs like other folk ! 
How is it you have stepped into his shoes, 
And stand there, bold as brass, ' Miranda, late 
Now, Firm-Miranda?' Sane, he signed away 
That little birthright, did he ? Hence to trade ! 
I know you, and he knew who dipped and ducked, 
Truckled and played the parasite in vain, 
As now one, now the other, here you cringed, 
Were feasted, took our presents, you — those drops, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 263 

Ji&t for your wife's adornment ! you — that spray 
Exactly suiting, as most diamonds do, 
Your daughter on her marriage ! No word then 
Of somebody the wanton ! Hence, I say, 
Subscribers to the * Siecle/ every snob — 
For here the post brings me the ' Univers '! 
Home and make money in the Place Vendome, 
Sully yourselves no longer by my sight, 
And, when next Schneider wants a new panire, 
Be careful lest you stick there by mischance 
That stone beyond compare entrusted you 
To kindle faith with, when, Miranda's gift, 
Crowning the very crown, the Ravissante 
Shall claim it ! As to Clair vaux — talk to Her ! 
She answers by the Chapter of Raimbaux ! " 
Vituperative, truly ! All this wrath 
Because the man's relations thought him mad ! 



264 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Whereat, I hope you see the Cousinry 
Turn each to other, blankly dolorous, 
Consult a moment, more by shrug and shrug 
Than mere man's language, — finally conclude 
To leave the reprobate untroubled now 
In her unholy triumph, till the Law 
Shall right the injured ones ; for gentlemen 
Allow the female sex, this sort at least, 
Its privilege. So, simply " Cockatrice ! " — 
"Jezebel !"—" Queen of the Camellias ! "—cried 
Cousin to cousin, as yon hinge a-creak 
Shut out the party, and the gate returned 
To custody of Clairvaux. " Pretty place ! 
What say you, when it proves our property, 
To trying a concurrence with La Roche, 
And laying down a rival oyster-bed ? 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 265 

Where the park ends, the sea begins, you know." 
So took they comfort till they came to Vire. 

But I would linger, fain to snatch a look 

At Clara as she stands in pride of place, 

Somewhat more satisfying than my glance 

So furtive, so near futile, yesterday, 

Because one must be courteous. Ot the masks 

That figure in this little history, 

She only has a claim to my respect, 

And one-eyed, in her French phrase, rules the blind. 

Miranda hardly did his best with life : 

He might have opened eye, exerted brain, 

Attained conception as to right and law 

In certain points respecting intercourse 

Of man with woman — love, one likes to say; 



266 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Which knowledge had dealt rudely with the claim 
Of Clara to play representative 
And from perdition rescue soul, forsooth ! 
Also, the sense of him should have sufficed 
For building up some better theory 
Of how God operates in heaven and earth, 
Than would establish Him participant 
In doings yonder at the Ravissante. 
The heart was wise according to its lights 
And limits; but the head refused more sun, 
And shrank into its mew and craved less space. 
Clara, I hold the happier specimen, — 
It may be, through that artist-preference 
For work complete, inferiorly proposed, 
To incompletion, though it aim aright. 
Morally, no ! Aspire, break bounds ! I say, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 267 

Endeavour to be good, and better still, 

And best ! Success is nought, endeavour ? s all. 

But intellect adjusts the means to ends, 

Tries the low thing, and leaves it done, at least ; 

No prejudice to high thing, intellect 

Would do and will do, only give the means. 

Miranda, in my picture-gallery, 

Presents a Blake ; be Clara — Meissonnier ! 

Merely considered so, by artist, mind ! 

For, break through Art and rise to poetry, 

Bring Art to tremble nearer, touch enough 

The verge of vastness to inform our soul 

What orb makes transit through the dark above, 

And there 's the triumph ! — there the incomplete, 

More than completion, matches the immense, — 

Then, Michelagnolo against the world ! 



268 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

With this proviso, let me study her 

Approvingly, the finished little piece ! 

Born, bred, with just one instinct, — that of growth : 

Her quality was, caterpillar-like, 

To ail-unerringly select a leaf 

And without intermission feed her fill, 

Become the Painted Peacock, or belike 

The Brimstone-wing, when time of year should suit ; 

And 'tis a sign (say entomologists) 

Of sickness, when the creature stops its meal 

One minute, either to look up at heaven, 

Or turn aside for change of aliment. 

No doubt there was a certain ugliness 

In the beginning, as the grub grew worm : 

She could not find the proper plant at once, 

But crawled and fumbled through a whole parterre. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 269 

Husband Muhlhausen served for stuff not long : 

Then came confusion of the slimy track 

From London, " where she gave the tone awhile," 

To Paris : let the stalks start up again, 

Now she is off them, all the greener they ! 

But, settled on Miranda, how she sucked, 

Assimilated juices, took the tint, 

Mimicked the form and texture of her food ! 

Was he for pastime ? Who so frolic-fond 

As Clara ? Had he a devotion-fit ? 

Clara grew serious with like qualm, be sure ! 

In health and strength he, — healthy too and strong, 

She danced, rode, drove, took pistol-practice, fished, 

Nay, " managed sea-skiff with consummate skill." 

In pain and weakness, he, — she patient watched 

And wiled the slow drip-dropping hours away 



270 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

She bound again the broken self-respect, 
She picked out the true meaning from mistake, 
Praised effort in each stumble, laughed " Well-climbed ! " 
When others groaned "None ever grovelled so I" 
" Rise, you have gained experience ! " was her word : 
" Lie satisfied, the ground is just your place ! " 
They thought appropriate counsel. " Live, not die, 
And take my full life to eke out your own : 
That shall repay me and with interest ! 
Write ! — is your mouth not clever as my hand ? 
Paint ! — the last Exposition warrants me, 
Plenty of people must ply brush with toes. 
And as for music — look, what folks nickname 
A lyre, those ancients played to ravishment, — 
Over the pendule, see, Apollo grasps 
A three-stringed gimcrack which no Liszt could 
coax 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 271 

Such music from as jews-harp makes to-day! 
Do your endeavour like a man, and leave 
The rest to ' fortune who assists the bold ' — 
Learn, you, the Latin which you taught me first, 
You clever creature — clever, yes, I say ! " 

If he smiled " Let us love, love's wrong comes right, 
Shows reason last of all ! Necessity 
Must meanwhile serve for plea — so, mind not much 
Old Fricquot's menace ! " — back she smiled " Who 

minds ?" 
If he sighed " Ah, but She is strict, they say, 
For all Her mercy at the Ravissante, 
She scarce will be put off so ! " — straight a sigh 
Returned " My lace must go to trim Her gown ! " 
I nowise doubt she inwardly believed 
Smiling and sighing had the same effect 



272 RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

Upon the venerated image. What \ 

She did believe in, I as little doubt, 

Was — Clara, and her birthright to sustain 

Existence, grow from grub to butterfly, 

Upon unlimited Miranda-leaf; 

In which prime article of faith confirmed, 

According to capacity, she fed 

On and on till the leaf was eaten up, 

That April morning. Even then, I praise 

Her forethought which prevented leafless stalk 

Bestowing any hoarded succulence 

On earwig and blackbeetle squat beneath ; — 

Clairvaux, that stalk whereto her hermitage 

She tacked by golden throw of silk, so fine, 

So anything but feeble, that her sleep 

Inside it, through last winter, two years long, 

Recked little of the storm and strife without. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 273 

" But — loved him?" Friend, I do not praise her love ! 

True love works never for the loved one so, 

Nor spares skin-surface, smoothening truth away. 

Love bids touch truth, endure truth, and embrace 

Truth, though, embracing truth, love crush itself. 

" Worship not me, but God ! " the angels urge : 

That is love's grandeur : still, in pettier love 

The nice eye can distinguish grade and grade. 

Shall mine degrade the velvet green and puce 

Of caterpillar, palmer- worm — or what — 

Ball in and out of ball, each ball with brush 

Of Venus' eye-fringe round the turquoise egg 

That nestles soft, — compare such paragon 

With any scarabaeus of the brood 

That, born to fly, keeps wing in wing-case, walks 

Persistently a-trundling dung on earth ? 



274 RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

Egypt may venerate such hierophants, 

Not I — the couple yonder, Father Priest 

And Mother Nun, who came and went and came, 

Beset this Clairvaux, trunclled money-muck 

To midden and the main heap oft enough, 

But never bade unshut from sheath the gauze, 

Nor showed that, who would fly, should let fall filth, 

Warning " Your jewel, brother, is a blotch: 

Sister, your lace trails ordure. Leave your sins, 

And so best gift the Crown and grace the Robe ! " 

The superstition is extinct, you hope ? 

It were, with my good will ! Suppose it so, 

Bethink you likewise of the latest use 

Whereto a Night-cap is convertible, 

And draw your very thickest, thread and thrum, 

O'er such a decomposing face of things, 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 2^5 

Once so alive, it seemed immortal too ! 

This happened two years since. The Cousinry 
Returned to Paris, called in help from Law, 
And in due form proceeded to dispute 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda's competence, 
Being insane, to make a valid Will. 

Much testimony volunteered itself; 

The issue hardly could be doubtful — but 

For that sad 'Seventy which must intervene, 

Provide poor France with other work to mind 

Than settling lawsuits, even for the sake 

Of such a party as the Ravissante. 

It only was this Summer that the case 

Could come and be disposed of, two weeks since, 



276 RED COTTON NIGHTCAP COUNTRY 

At Vire — Tribunal Civil — Chamber First. 

Here, issued with all regularity, 

I hold the judgment — just, inevitable, 

Nowise to be contested by what few 

Can judge the judges ; sum and substance, thus- 

" Inasmuch as we find, the Cousinry, 
During that very period when they take 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda for stark mad, 
Considered him to be quite sane enough 
For doing much important business with — 
Nor showed suspicion of his competence 
Until, by turning of the tables, loss 
Instead of gain accrued to them thereby, — 
Plea of incompetence we set aside. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 277 

— " The rather, that the dispositions, sought 

To be impugned, are natural and right, 

Nor jar with any reasonable claim 

Of kindred, friendship or acquaintance here. 

Nobody is despoiled, none overlooked; 

Since the testator leaves his property 

To just that person whom, of all the world, 

He counted he was most indebted to. 

In mere discharge, then, of conspicuous debt, 

Madame Muhlhausen has priority, 

Enjoys the usufruct of Clairvaux. 

" Next, 
Such debt discharged, such life determining, 
Such earthly interest provided for, 
Monsieur Leonce Miranda may bequeath, 



27S RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

In absence of more fit recipient, fund 
And usufruct together to the Church 
Whereof he was a special devotee. 

" — Which disposition, being consonant 
With a long series of such acts and deeds 
Notorious in his life-time, needs must stand, 
Unprejudiced by eccentricity 
Nowise amounting to distemper : since, 
In every instance signalized as such, 
We recognise no over-leaping bounds, 
No straying out of the permissible : 
Duty to the Religion of the Land, — 
Neither excessive nor inordinate. 

" The minor accusations are dismissed ; 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 279 

They prove mere freak and fancy, boyish mood 

In age mature of simple kindly man. 

Exuberant in generosities 

To all the world : no fact confirms the fear 

He meditated mischief to himself 

That morning when he met the accident 

Which ended fatally. The case is closed." 

How otherwise ? So, when I grazed the skirts, 
And had the glimpse of who made, yesterday, — 
Woman and retinue of goats and sheep, — 
The sombre path one whiteness, vision-like, 
As out of gate, and in at gate again, 
They wavered, — she was lady there for life : 
And, after life — I hope, a white success 
Of some sort, wheresoever life resume 



28o RED COTTON NIGHT-CAP COUNTRY 

School interrupted by vacation — death ; 
Seeing that home she goes with prize in hand, 
Confirmed the Chatelaine of Clairvaux. 

True, 
Such prize fades soon to insignificance. 
Though she have eaten her Miranda up, 
And spun a cradle-cone through which she pricks 
Her passage, and proves peacock-butterfly, 
This Autumn — wait a little week of cold ! 
Peacock and death's-head-moth end much the same. 
And could she still continue spinning, — sure, 
Cradle would soon crave shroud for substitute, 
And o'er this life of her's distaste would drop 
Red cotton-Night-cap- wise. 



OR TURF AND TOWERS 281 

How say you, friend ? 
Have I redeemed my promise ? Smile assent 
Through the dark Winter-gloom between us both \ 
Already, months ago and miles away, 
I just as good as told you, in a flash, 
The while we paced the sands before my house, 
All this poor story — truth and nothing else. 
Accept that moment's flashing, amplified, 
Impalpability reduced to speech, 
Conception proved by birth,— no other change ! 
Can what Saint-Rambert flashed me in a thought, 
Good gloomy London make a poem of? 
Such ought to be whatever dares precede, 
Play ruddy herald-star to your white blaze 
About to bring us day. How fail imbibe 
Some foretaste of effulgence ? Sun shall wax, 



2&s RED COTTON NIGHT- CAP COUNTRY 

And star shall wane : what matter, so star tell 
The drowsy world to start awake, rub eyes, 
And stand all ready for morn's joy a-blush ? 

January 23, 1873. 



LONDON: PRINTED DY 

SPOTTISWOODR AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE 

AND PARLIAMENT STREET 



\B73 



joy