The Bothie of Toper-na-fuosich/4

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Ut vidi, ut perii, ut me malus abstulit error.

SO in the golden weather they waited. But Philip came not.
Sunday six days thence a letter arrived in his writings.—
But, O Muse, that encompassest Earth like the ambient ether,
Swifter than steamer or railway or magical missive electric
Belting like Ariel the sphere with the star-like trail of thy travel,
Thou with thy Poet, to mortals mere post-office second-hand knowledge
Leaving, wilt seek in the moorland of Rannoch the wandering hero.
There is it, there, or in lofty Lochaber, where, silent up-heaving,
Hearing from ocean to sky, and under snow—winds of September,
Visibly whitening at morn to darken by noon in the shining,
Rise on their mighty foundations the brethren huge of Bennevis?
There, or westward away, where roads are unknown to Loch Nevish,

And the great peaks look abroad over Skye to the westermost islands?
There is it? there? or there? we shall find our wandering hero?
Here, in Badenoch, here, in Lochaber anon, in Lochiel, in
Knoydart, Croydart, Moydart, Morrer, and Ardnamurchan,
Here I see him and here: I see him; anon I lose him!
Even as cloud passing subtly unseen from mountain to mountain,
Leaving the crest of Benmore to be palpable next on Benvohrlich,
Or like to hawk of the hill which ranges and soars in its hunting,
Seen and unseen by turns, now here, now in ether eludent.
Wherefore like cloud of Benmore or hawk overranging the mountains,
Wherefore in Badenoch drear, in lofty Lochaber, Lochiel, and
Knoydart, Croydart, Moydart, Morrer, and Ardnamurchan,
Wandereth he, who should either with Adam be studying logic,
Or by the lochside of Rannoch on Katie his rhetoric using;
He who, his three weeks past, past now long ago, to the cottage
Punctual promised return to cares of classes and classics,
He who smit to the heart by that youngest comeliest daughter,
Bent, unregardful of spies, at her feet, spreading clothes from her wash-tub?
Can it be with him through Badenoch deary, Lochaber, Lochiel and
Knoydart, Croydart, Moydart, Morrer, and Ardnamurchan,
Can it be with him he beareth the golden-haired lassie of Rannoch?
This fierce furious walking—o'er mountain-top and moorland,
Sleeping in shieling and bothie, with drover on hill-side sleeping,
Folded in plaid, where sheep are strewn thicker than rocks by Loch Awen,
This fierce furious travel unwearying,—cannot in truth be
Merely the wedding tour succeeding the week of wooing!
No, wherever he Katie, with Philip she is not; I see him,
Lo, and he sitteth alone, and these are his words in the mountain.
Souls of the dead, one fancies, can enter and be with the living;
Would I were dead, I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her!
Spirits escaped from the body can enter and be with the living,
Entering unseen, and retiring unquestioned, they bring, do they feel too?
Joy, pure joy, as they mingle and mix inner essence with essence;
Would I were dead I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her!
Joy, pure joy, bringing with them, and when they retire leaving after
No cruel shame, no prostration, despondency; memories rather
Sweet, happy hopes bequeathing. Ah! wherefore not thus with the living?
Would I were dead, I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her!
Is it impossible, say you, these passionate fervent impulsions,
These projections of spirit to spirit, these inward embraces,

Should in strange ways, in her dreams should visit her, strengthen her, shield her?
Is it possible, rather, that these great floods of feeling
Setting-in daily from me towards her should, impotent wholly,
Bring neither sound nor motion to that sweet shore they heave to?
Efflux here, and there no stir nor pulse of influx!
It must reverberate surely, reverberate idly, it may be.
Yea, hath He set us our bounds which we shall not pass, and cannot?
Would I were dead I keep saying that so I could go and uphold her!
Surely, surely, when sleepless I lie in the mountain lamenting,
Surely, surely, she hears in her dreams a voice 'I am with thee,'
Saying, 'although not with thee: behold, for we mated our spirits,
Then, when we stood in the chamber, and knew not the words we were saying;'
Yea, if she felt me within her, when not with one finger I touched her,
Surely she knows it, and feels it, while sorrowing here in the moorland,
Would I were dead, I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her!
Spirits with spirits commingle and separate; lightly as winds do,
Spice-laden South with the ocean-born Zephyr; they mingle and sunder;
No sad remorses for them, no visions of horror and vileness;
Elements fuse and resolve, as affinity draws and repels them;
We, if we touch, must remain, if attracted, cohere to the ending,
Guilty we are if we do not, and yet if we would we could not:
Would I were dead I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her.
Surely the force that here sweeps me along in its violent impulse,
Surely my strength shall be in her, my help and protection about her,
Surely in inner-sweet gladness and vigour of joy shall sustain her,
Till, the brief winter o'er-past, her own true sap in the springtide
Rise, and the tree I have bared he verdurous e'en as aforetime:
Surely it may be, it should be, it must be. Yet ever and ever,
Would I were dead, I keep saying, that so I could go and uphold her!
No wherever be Katie, with Philip she is not: behold, for
Here he is sitting alone, and these are his words in the mountain.
And, at the farm on the lochside of Rannoch in parlour and kitchen
Hark! there is music—yea, flowing of music, of milk, and of whiskey,
Dancing and drinking, the young and the old, the spectators and actors,
Never not actors the young, and the old not alway spectators:
Lo, I see piping and dancing! and whom in the midst of the battle
Cantering loudly along there, or look you, with arms uplifted
Whistling, and snapping his fingers, and seizing his gay-smiling Janet,
Whom?-whom else but the Piper? the wary precognizant Piper,
Who, for the love of gay Janet, and mindful of old invitation,

Putting it quite as a duty and urging grave claims to attention,
True to his night had crossed over: there goeth he, hrimfull of music,
Like to cork tossed by the eddies that foam under furious lasher,
Like to skiff lifted, uplifted, in lock by the swift-swelling sluices,
So with the music possessing him, swaying him, goeth he, look you,
Swinging and flinging,and stamping and tramping, and grasping and clasping
Whom but gay Janet?——Him rivalling Hobbes, briefest-kilted of heroes
Enters, O stoutest, O rashest of creatures, mere fool of a Saxon,
Skill-less of philabeg, skill-less of reel too,—the whirl and the twirl o't:
Him see I frisking, and whisking, and ever at swifter gyration
Under brief curtain revealing broad acres—not of broad cloth.
Him see I there and the Piper—the Piper what vision beholds not?
Him and his Honour and Arthur, with Janet our Piper, and is it,
Is it, O marvel of marvels! he too in the maze of the may,
Skipping, and tripping, tho' stately, tho' languid, with head on one shoulder,
Airlie, with sight of the waistcoat the golden-haired Katie consoling?
Katie, who simple and comely, and smiling, and blushing as ever,
What though she wear on that neck a blue kerchief remembered as Philip's,
Seems in her maidenly freedom to need small consolement of waistcoats!—
Wherefore in Badenoch then, far-away, in Lochaber, Lochiel, in
Knoydart, Croydart, Moydart, Morrer, or Ardnamurchan,
Wanders o'er mountain and moorland, in shieling or bothie is sleeping,
He, who,—and why should he not then? capricious? or is it rejected?
Might to the piping of Rannoch be pressing the thrilling fair fingers,
Might, as he clasped her, transmit to her bosom the throb of his own,—yea,—
Might in the joy of the reel be wooing and winning his Katie?
What is it Adam reads far off by himself in the Cottage?
Reads yet again with emotion, again is preparing to answer?
Answered before too it had been at once, on the spur of the moment,
Answered, but oft reconsidered, and after-thought needs will be spoken,
What is it Adam is reading? What was it, Philip had written?
There was it writ, how Philip possessed undoubtedly had been,
Deeply, entirely possessed by the charm of the maiden of Rannoch;
Deeply as never before! how sweet and bewitching he felt her
Seen still before him at work, in the garden, the byre, the kitchen;
How it was beautiful to him to stoop at her side in the shearing,
Binding uncouthly the ears, that fell from her dexterous sickle,
Building uncouthly the stooks,[1] which she laid-by her sickle to straighten;
How at the dance he had broken through shyness; for four days after

Lived on her eyes, unspeaking what lacked not articulate speaking;
How in the room where he slept he met her cleaning and dusting,
How he unmeaningly talked of clothes for the washing,—of this thing,
That thing, and still as he spoke felt folded unto her, united,
Yea, without touch united, essentially, bodily with her,
Felt too that she too was feeling what he did,—howbeit they parted!
How by a kiss from her lips he had seemed made nobler and stronger,
Yea, for the first time in life a man complete and perfect,
So forth! much that before too was heard off—Howbeit they parted.
What had ended it all was singular, said he, very.
I was walking along some two miles from the cottage
Full of my dreamings—a girl went by in a party with others;
She had a cloak on, was stepping on quickly, for rain was beginning;
But as she passed, from the hood I saw her eyes look at me.
So quick a glance, so regardless I, that although I felt it,
You couldn't properly say our eyes met. She cast it, and left it:
It was three minutes perhaps ere I knew what it was. I had seen her
Somewhere before I am sure, but that wasn't it; not its import;
No, it had seemed to regard me with simple superior insight,
Quietly saying to itself—Yes, there he is still in his fancy,
Letting drop from him at random as things not worth considering
All the benefits gathered and put in his hands by fortune,
Loosing a hold which others, content and unambitious,
Trying down here to keep-up, know the value of better than he does.
Was it this? was it perhaps?—Yes there he is still in his fancy,
Doesn't yet see we have here just the things he is used-to elsewhere,
And that the things he likes here, elsewhere he wouldn't have looked at,
People here too are people, and not as fairy-land creatures;
He is in a trance, and possessed; I wonder how long to continue;
It is a shame and a pity—and no good likely to follow.
Something like this, but indeed I cannot the least define it.
Only, three hours thence I was off and away in the moorland,
Hiding myself from myself if I could; the arrow within me.
Katie was not in the house, thank God: I saw her in passing,
Saw her, unseen myself, with the pang of a cruel desertion,
Poignant enough; which however but made me walk the faster,
Like a terrible spur running into one's vitals, and through them,
Turning me all into pain and sending me off, I suppose like
One that is shot to the heart and leaps in the air in his dying.
What dear Katie thinks, God knows; poor child; may she only

Think me a fool and a madman, and no more worth her remembering.
Meantime all through the mountains I tramp and know not whither,
Tramp along here, and think, and know not what I should think.
Tell me then, why as I sleep amid hill tops high in the moorland,
Still in my dreams I am pacing the streets of the dissolute city,
Where dressy girls slithering—by upon pavements give sign for accosting,
Paint on their beautiless cheeks, and hunger and shame in their bosoms;
Hunger by drink and by that which they shudder yet burn for, appeasing,—
Hiding their shame—ah God, in the glare of the public gas lights?
Why while I feel my ears catching through slumber the run of the streamlet,
Still am I pacing the pavement, and seeing the sign for accosting,
Still am I passing those figures, nor daring to look in their faces?
Why when the chill, ere the light, of the daybreak uneasily wakes me,
Find I a cry in my heart crying up to the heaven of heavens,
No, Great Unjust Judge; she is purity; I am the lost one:
No, I defy Thee, strike not; crush me, if thou wilt, who deserve it.
You will not think that I soberly look for such things for sweet Katie,
Contemplate really, as possible even, a thing that would make one
Think death luxury, seek death, to get at damnation beyond it.
No, but the vision is on me; I now first see how it happens,
Feel how tender and soft is the heart of a girl; how passive
Fain would it be, how helpless; and helplessness leads to destruction.
Maiden reserve torn from off it, grows never again to reclothe it,
Modesty broken-through once to immodesty flies for protection,
Desperate, braving when weakest the greatest and direst of dangers;
Thinks to be bold and defiant at all times, cannot at all times,
Think by ignoring to fill-up that breach which ignoring but widens.
Oh, who saws through the trunk, though he leave the tree up in the forest,
When the next wind casts it down,—is his not the hand that smote it?
Yes, and who barketh the tree, is even as he that felleth.

This is the answer, the second, which, pondering long with emotion,
There by himself in the cottage the Tutor addressed to Philip.
I was severe in my last, my dear Philip, and hasty; forgive me;
Yes, I was fain to reply ere I duly had read through your letter;
But it was written in scraps with crossings and counter-crossings
Hard to connect with each other correctly, and hard to decipher;
Paper was scarce, I suppose: forgive me; I write to console you.
Grace is given of God, but knowledge is bought in the market;
Knowledge needful for all, yet cannot be had for the asking.

There are exceptional beings, one finds them distant and rarely,
Who, endowed with the vision alike and the interpretation,
See, by their neighbours' eyes, and their own still motions enlightened,
In the beginning the end, in the acorn the oak of the forest,
In the child of to-day its children to long generations,
In a thought or a wish a life, a drama, an epos.
There are inheritors, is it? by mystical generation,
Heiring the wisdom and ripeness of spirits gone-by; without labour
Owning what others by doing and suffering earn; what old men
After long years of mistake and erasure are proud to have come to,
Sick with mistake and erasure possess when possession is idle.
Yes, there is power upon earth, seen feebly in women and children,
Which can, laying one hand on the cover, read-off, unfaltering,
Leaf after leaf unlifted, the words of the closed book under,
Words which we are poring at, hammering at, stumbling at, spelling.
Rare is this; to many in pittance and modicum given,
Working, an instinct blind, in woman and child and rustic,
Rare in full measure, and often e'en then too maimed and hampered;
When with the power of speech, and the spirit united of music,
Lo, a new day has dawned, and the ages wait upon Shakespeare
Rare is this; wisdom mostly is bought for a price in the market,—
Rare is this; and happy, who buy so much for so little,
As I conceive have you, and as I will hope has Katie.
Knowledge is needful for man—needful no less for woman,
Even in Highland glens, were they vacant of shooter and tourist.
Not that, of course, I mean to prefer your blindfold hurry
Unto a soul that abides most loving yet most withholding;
Least unfeeling though calm, self-contained yet most unselfish;
Renders help and accepts it, a man among men that are brothers,
Views, not plucks the beauty, adores, and demands no embracing,
So in its peaceful passage whatever is lovely and gracious
Still without seizing or spoiling, itself in itself reproducing.
No, I do not set Philip herein on the level of Arthur,
No, I do not compare still tarn with furious torrent,
Yet will the tarn overflow, assuaged in the lake be the torrent.
Women are weak as you say, and love of all things to be passive,
Passive, patient, receptive, yea even of wrong and misdoing,
Even to force and misdoing with joy and victorious feeling
Passive, patient, receptive; for that is the strength of their being,
Like to the earth taking all things and all to good converting.

Oh 'tis a snare indeed!—Moreover, remember it, Philip,
To the prestige of the richer the lowly are prone to be yielding,
Think that in dealing with them they are raised to a different region;
Where old laws and morals are modified, lost, exist not;
Ignorant they as they are, they have but to conform and be yielding;
There to protect and to guide them the old 'Tis not usual avails not,
But of a new 'Tis not right must the soul be with travail delivered,
Yea,—itself of itself engender and bear the protector.
How shall a poor quiet girl self-create the law and commandment?
How shall a poor silly sheep get endowed with the will of a woman!
But I said this in my letter before, and need not repeat it.
You will have seen yourself the danger of pantry-flirtation,
You will not now run after what merely attracts and entices,
Every-day things highly coloured, and common-place carved and gilded.
You will henceforth seek only the good: and seek it, Philip,
Where it is—not more abundant perhaps, but—more easily met with;
Where you are surer to find it, less likely to run into error,
In your station, regardful of that, though not dependent.
But as I said, I have said this before and need not repeat it.
So was the letter completed: a postscript afterward added,
Telling the tale that was told by the dancers returning from Rannoch.
So was the letter completed: but query, whither to send it?
Not for the will of the wisp, the cloud, and the hawk of the moorland,
Ranging afar thro' Lochaber, Lochiel, and Knoydart, and Croydart,
Have even latest extensions adjusted a postal arrangement.
Query, resolved very shortly when Hope from his chamber descending,
Came with a note in his hand from the Lady, his aunt, of Ilay;
Came and revealed the contents of a missive that brought strange tidings;
Came and announced to the friends in a voice that was husky with wonder,
Philip was staying at Balloch, was there in the room with the Countess,
Philip to Balloch had come and was dancing with Lady Maria.
Philip at Balloch, he said, after all that stately refusal,
He there at last—O strange! O marvel, marvel of marvels!
Airlie, the Waistcoat, with Katie, we left him this morning at Rannoch;
Airlie with Katie, he said, and Philip with Lady Maria.
And amid laughter Adam paced up and down, repeating
Over and over, unconscious, the phrase which Hope had lent him,
Dancing at Balloch, you say, in the castle, with Lady Maria.

  1. Shocks.