Page:A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems. (Thomson, Dobell).djvu/35

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xxiv
Memoir.

ness. He had much in him, in fact, of the "self-torturing" spirit which afflicted Rousseau, and which drove Cowper into insanity. These moods of self-dissatisfaction he has well depicted in "Vane's Story," which is, in fact, when rightly read, as candid and complete an autobiography as was ever written.

"I half remember, years ago,
fits of despair that maddened woe,
Frantic remorse, intense self-scorn,
And yearnings harder to be borne
Of utter loneliness forlorn;
What passionate secret prayers I prayed!
What futile firm resolves I made!
As well a thorn might pray to be
Transformed into an olive-tree;
As well a weevil might determine
To grow a farmer hating vermin;
The I am that I am of God
Defines no less a worm or clod.
My penitence was honest guile;
My inmost being all the while
Was laughing in a patient mood
At this exteme solicitude,
Was waiting laughing till once more
I should be sane as heretofore;
And in the pauses of the fits,
That rent my heart and scared my wits,
Its pleasant mockery whispered through,
Oh, what can Saadi have to do
With penitence? and what can you?
Are Shiraz roses wreathed with rue?"

It will be seen that the above extract not only depicts the moods I have spoken of, but also records his final deliverance from them. But he was afflicted by them for a good many years, and they contributed to bring