University of Virginia Library


Patcher of the rotten cloth,
Pickler of the wing o' the moth,
Toaster of bread stale in date,
Tinker of the rusty plate,
Botcher of a crumbling tomb,
Pounder with the holy hammer,
Gaffer-gammer, gaffer-gammer—
The broker take your trumpery pix
Paten and chalice! Turn ye—lo,
Here's bread, here's wine. In Mexico
Earthquakes lay flat your crucifix:
All, all's geology, I trow.
Away to your Pope Joan—go!”
As he the robed one decorous went,
From copse that doggerel was sent
And after-cry. Half screened from view
'Twas Margoth, who, reclined at lunch,
Had overheard, nor spared to munch,
And thence his contumely threw.
Rolfe, rising, had replied thereto,
And with some heat, but Derwent's hand


Caught at his skirt: Nay, of what use?
But wind, foul wind.”—Here fell a truce,
Which Margoth could but understand;
Wiping his mouth he hied away.
The student who apart though near
Had heard the Frank with tingling cheer,
Awaited now the after-play
Of comment; and it followed: “Own,”
Said Rolfe, “he took no shallow tone,
That new St. Dominick. Who'll repay?
Wilt thou?” to Derwent turning.—“No,
Not I! But had our Scot been near
To meet your Papal nuncio!
Fight fire with fire. But for me here,
You must have marked I did abstain.—
Odd, odd: this man who'd make our age
To Hildebrand's an appanage—
So able too—lit by our light—
Curious, he should so requite!
And, yes, lurked somewhat in his strain—”
“And in his falling on the knee?”
“Those supple hinges I let be.”
“Is the man false?”
“No, hardly that.
'Tis difficult to tell. But see:
Doubt late was an aristocrat;
But now the barbers' clerks do swell
In cast clothes of the infidel;
The more then one can now believe,
The more one's differenced, perceive,
From ribald commonplace. Here Rome
Comes in. This intellectual man—
Half monk, half tribune, partisan—
Who, as he hints—'tis troublesome
To analyze, and thankless too:
Much better be a dove, and coo


Softly. Come then, I'll e'en agree
His manner has a certain lure,
Disinterested, earnest, pure
And liberal. 'Tis such as he
Win over men.”
“There's Rome, her camp
Of tried instruction. She can stamp,
On the recruit that's framed aright,
The bearing of a Bayard knight
Ecclesiastic. I applaud
Her swordsmen of the priestly sword
Wielded in spiritual fight.”
“Indeed? take care! Rome lacks not charm
For fervid souls. Arm ye, forearm!
For syrens has she too,—her race
Of sainted virgin ones, with grace
Beyond the grace of Grecian calm,
For this is chill, but that how warm.”
“A frank concession.” “To be sure!
Since Rome may never me allure
By her enticing arts; since all
The bias of the days that be
Away leans from Authority,
And most when hierarchical;
So that the future of the Pope
Is cast in no fair horoscope;
In brief, since Rome must still decay;
Less care I to disown or hide
Aught that she has of merit rare:
Her legends—some are sweet as May;
Ungarnered wealth no doubt is there,
(Too long ignored by Luther's pride)
But which perchance in days divine
(Era, whereof I read the sign)
When much that sours the sects is gone,
Like Dorian myths the bards shall own—


Yes, prove the poet's second mine.”
“All that,” said Rolfe, “is very fine;
But Rome subsists, she lives to-day,
She re-affirms herself, her sway
Seductive draws rich minds away;
Some pastures, too, yield many a rover:
Sheep, sheep and shepherd running over.”
“Such sheep and shepherds, let them go;
They are not legion: and you know
What draws. Little imports it all
Overbalanced by that tidal fall
Of Rome in Southern Europe. Come.”
“If the tide fall or here or there,
Be sure 'tis rolling in elsewhere.”
“So oceanic then is Rome?”
“Nay, but there's ample sea-verge left:
A hemisphere invites.—When reft
From Afric, and the East its home,
The church shot out through wild and wood—
Germany, Gaul and Britain, Spain—
Colonized, Latinized, and made good
Her loss, and more—resolved to reign.”
“Centuries, centuries long ago!
What's that to us? I am surprised.
Rome's guns are spiked; and they'll stay so.
The world is now too civilized
For Rome. Your noble Western soil—
What! that be given up for spoil
“There is an Unforeseen.
Fate never gives a guarantee
That she'll abstain from aught. And men
Get tired at last of being free—
Whether in states—in states or creeds.
For what's the sequel? Verily,
Laws scribbled by law-breakers, creeds


Scrawled by the freethinkers, and deeds
Shameful and shameless. Men get sick
Under that curse of Frederic
The cynical: For punishment
This rebel province I present
To the philosophers. But, how?
Whole nations now philosophize,
And do their own undoing now.—
Who's gained by all the sacrifice
Of Europe's revolutions? who?
The Protestant? the Liberal?
I do not think it—not at all:
Rome and the Atheist have gained:
These two shall fight it out—these two;
Protestantism being retained
For base of operations sly
By Atheism.”
Without reply
Derwent low whistled—twitched a spray
That overhung: “What tree is this?”
“The tree of knowledge, I dare say;
But you don't eat.”—“That's not amiss,”
The good man laughed; but, changing, “O,
That a New-Worlder should talk so!”
“'Tis the New World that mannered me,
Yes, gave me this vile liberty
To reverence naught, not even herself.”
“How say you? you're the queerest elf!
But here's a thought I still pursue—
A thought I dreamed each thinker knew:
No more can men be what they've been;
All's altered—earth's another scene.”
“Man's heart is what it used to be.”
“I don't know that.”
“But Rome does, though:
And hence her stout persistency.


What mean her re-adopted modes
Even in the enemy's abodes?
Their place old emblems reassume.
She bides—content to let but blow
Among the sects that peak and pine,
Incursions of her taking bloom.”
“The censer's musk?—'Tis not the vine,
Vine evangelic, branching out
In fruitful latitude benign,
With all her bounty roundabout—
Each cluster, shaded or in sun,
Still varying from each other one,
But all true members, all with wine
Derived from Christ their stem and stock;
'Tis scarce that vine which doth unlock
The fragrance that you hint of. No,
The Latin plant don't flourish so;
Of sad distemper 'tis the seat;
Pry close, and startled you shall meet
Parasite-bugs—black swarming ones.”
“The monks?”—“You jest: thinned out, those drones.”
Considerate uncommitted eyes
Charged with things manifold and wise,
Rolfe turned upon good Derwent here;
Then changed: “Fall back we must. Yon mule
With pannier: Come, in stream we'll cool
The wine ere quaffing.—Muleteer!”