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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 202

              [newspaper clipping]

[first column]
                       LOVE�S REVENGE
               BY THOMAS BUTLER GUNN.
  �The elements of this story,� says Leigh Hunt, �are to
be found in the old book called Albion�s England, written
by a homely but not mean poet, Warner.�  Hunt has him-
self told it, under the title of The Fair Revenge, in the
Indicator for January 12, 1820.  The following version
is an attempt to turn his charming prose-poetry into blank
verse: ��
	�This an old story of a woman�s love
	And man�s ungratefulness, and how, too late,
	Unprized affection brought its punishment
	To a hard, selfish heart.  An Argive King
	Dying without heirs male, bequeathed the throne
	Unto his only daughter, Daphles, who
	Was young and fair and by the people loved,
	So they obeyed her gladly.  But one lord,
	A warlike chief who dwelt on the frontier,
	Scorning to how his masculine, proud head
	In homage to a woman, took up arms
	In hot and fierce rebellion.  Doracles
	Was little known in Argos, save as one
	Who had fought bravely �gainst invading foes,
	But cared not for the old King�s thanks, nor e�er
	Had deigned to claim them : hardly could he brook
	Any superior.  Now he came, indeed,
	To uncrown Daphles, if his martial skill
	And fiery courage, captioning a host
	Of traitor-swordsmen, might prevail against
	The innocent young queen.  And there were those
	Who augured ill for her, but neither these,
	Nor the ambitious Doracles divined
	The force there is in love; the gentle girl
	Being as good as she was beautiful,
	Had won the hearts of all her people, while
	Even those nobles whose fidelity
	Was flawed with baser metal, hoped to share
	Her throne or reign as favourite minister.
	Or, at the worst, preferred her mild control
	To the harsh sway of Doracles.  So when
	The day of battle came and the young queen
	Rode forth on horseback, with her hair blown loose
	Beneath its diadem, her lovely face
	Paler than usual and a yearning look,
	Half confident in the great love of those
	Who were to fight for her, half-pitiful
	For what they must endure; and in her hand
	An unaccustomed spear; then there went up
	A shout so stern and joyous that it might
	Have daunted braver hearts than ever yet
	Beat in a traitor�s bosom with the thought
	Of sure defeat.	
			        And so, indeed it proved:
	For when the armies joined in hostile shock,
	The fight was short and bloody.  Doracles
	Put forth his utmost skill in leadership
	And his men lacked not courage, but in vain;
	For when the troops of Daphles charged, they struck
	With all their hearts; attacked, they stood as fast
	As walls of iron: the foe�s task was like
	Hammering on men of brass or impaling
	Their fated horses upon cruel spears
	Morticed in stone; hence speedy victory
	Fell to the queen, who, on a neighbouring hill
	Awaited the event; and now rode down,
	Crowned with laurel, with her generals,
	To see her prisoners.  Her ashen face
	Was royal with composed compassion while
	The meaner rebels passed, some gashed with wounds,
	And shaking back their bloody, blinding locks,
	For want of hands unpinioned; but when he,
	The proud, the handsome Doracles appeared,
	Whom she now saw for the first time, as he,
	Catching the glance of his fair conqueror,
	Blushed burning red and then strode on amain,
	As haughtily as if the chaios he wore
	Were an indifferent ornament; why then
	The tell-tale crimson mounted to her cheeks
	Like signal answering signal.  And he went
	A victor to his dungeon, after all,
	For Daphles loved him.
		Two nights after, she,
	Having possessed her lords of what she meant,
	Released him with her hands.  Full many steps
	Of the steep dungeon-stairs she faltered down
	In a sweet virgin tremor: when she reached
	The grim, clamped iron door, she shed a flood
	Of soft but wilful and refreshing tears,
	Humbling herself for the approaching task.
	Then entering, she blushed deeply and anon,
	Turning as pale, stood silent for a space
	And motionless.  At length she spoke and said:
	�Thy queen, O Doracles, has come to show
	She can forgive a valiant soldier, one
	Who did not know her.�  Ere he was aware
	They loosed his bonds.  He seemed surprised but calm,
	Nor over-grateful.  �Name, O Queen,� he said,
	�The terms whereon I am enlarged, and they
	Shall be obeyed.�  Poor Daphles moved her lips,
	Which gave no sound.  Then, with a piteous smile,
	She shook her head and waved her hand, as if
	Absolving him from all conditions.  And
	He turned to go, not caring, when she fell,
	Swooning upon the floor.  He raised her with
	More of impatience than compassion, for
	Though he could guess at love in woman, he
	Thought meanly both of it and of her sex;
	Nor understood the struggle in her heart;
	Nor how her pity, admiration and
	Sweet maiden fancies had invested him
	With qualities he ne�er possessed; nor could
	Distinguish such a passion from some cheap
	And common liking of a silly girl,
	Scarce flattering his soldier�s vanity.
	Awaking from her swoon, she told him all,
	In justice to herself.  �I might,� she said,
	�Ask your love in return, but��resuming
	A little of her queen-like dignity�
	�That must come of itself, if the high Gods
	Ever vouchsafe it.  But I�ll be your wife
	If you will wed me, with no recompense
	Beyond what you can give and offer you
	A throne, that I may �scape what men will say
	If you reject me.�  And the hard, hard word
	Stuck in her throat; she faltered, and the tears
	Stood in her wistful eyes.
			And Doracles,
	With the best grace his late defeated spirit
	And flattered self-love could assume, spoke fair,
	Accepting her and hers.  They left the cell
	Together, and his pardon was proclaimed
	In full to all, and the quick courtiers vied
	Who most should honour their young mistress� choice
	With feasts and entertainments and such sports
	As might precede a bridal.  Doracles,
	Who was as graceful and accomplished
	As a proud heart would permit, responded
	In princely sort, and Daphles had begun
	To hope he might learn to love her, when
	He suddenly was gone, whither none knew
	For a short space.  And then the news was brought
	To Argos: Doracles had fled unto
	The foes of Daphles, and was conspiring
	Anew against her crown.
			And from that day
	All gladness, though not kindness, went from out
	The face of the young queen.  She wrote to him
	Without reproach, such sad and pleading words
	As might have have won back the remotest heart,
	Not wholly self-engrossed.  And he replied
	In terms that showed he held the deepest love
	But as a wanton trifle. That repulse
	Slow hope within her, and she pined and pined
	In deepest melancholy, till her brain
	Was all disordered.  She drew up a will
	Leaving him what his cruel greed desired,
	If she should die.  Her nobles murmured and
	Summoned a meeting in the hope to change
	Her purpose, whereat she was to preside
	In the same ropes she had word on the day
	Of victory.  They thought the sight of it
	Might nerve her feeble spirit, and assist
	The arguments they meant to use against
	Her sad bequest.  Almost unconsciously
	She let her women dress her, and they put
	The garments white, edged with silver waves,
	By Argive monarchs worn in remembrance
	Of Inachus the river-god, their source,
	Upon her frail, shrunk form; and likewise brought
	The spear that she had held, and that same wreath
	Of laurel which had clasped her fair young brows,
	Withered green leaves and twisted stem, she took
	Into her wan, thin hand and looking round
	About her chair, as if remembering
	Though briefly, began stripping off the leaves,
	Letting them fall upon the floor.  She sat
	Watching them dropping, one by one, until
	The circle was half bare.  And then she leaned
	Her sick, lorn cheek against her chair and closed
	Her eyes and died.
				The Argive envoys went
	To Calydon, bringing to Doracles
	The crown on a black cushion, and the news
	Both of the young queen�s death and her bequest.
	The first he heard in silence, but could ill
	Hide his joy at the second.  Among those
	Who feasted him there was an ancient lord,
	Once almost brother to the former king,
	And father unto Daphles.  Her successor,
	Marking the sorrow which he scarcely tried
	To hide or hinder, and beholding him
	Glance upwards at a picture blackly-veiled,
	Demanded what it was and why concealed.
	�For if it be that noble prince,� he said,
	�Who late held sway in Argos, think that I
	Am worthy to look on it.  Draw the veil.
	What?  Phorbas, dost thou hesitate?�  He frowned
	Impatiently.  And with a trembling hand,
	But not for want of courage, the old lord
	Unveiled the picture.  The face of Daphles,
	In all her youth and beauty flashed upon
	The man who slew her.
				He seemed struck, and then
	gazed long and earnestly.  It had been limned
	Before his blight had fallen on her.  She
	Was portrayed smiling, loving, innocent,
	Unmarred by trouble.  �The fair owner of
	That face,� he said, �could ne�er have been so sad
	As I have heard?�  �Pardon me,� Phorbas said,
	�I knew it all.�  �It cannot be,� returned
	King Doracles.  The old man bade his guests
	Retire awhile, and forthwith told him how
	Daphles had pined and pined, and all the fond
	Despairing things about himself which she
	Had uttered ere her wits began to fail,
	And after.  �Her wits fail?� he murmured:
	�I know what �tis to rage impatiently
	At wanting mine own will, but never deemed
	These women�gentle creatures�could feel thus
	For such a trifle.�  Phorbas brought him out
	The laurel crown and told him whose dead hands
	Broke up the meeting, and gave order that
	The picture might be ta�en to his own room,
	Promising to return it.

[second column]
				For a year
	He kept it, and �twas said, day after day,
	Stood looking on it.  There were no attempts
	Against his sovereignty, nor foreign wars
	To bring an anodyne, nor did he care
	For sport or pleasure; so would hasten from
	The council-board to gaze upon the face
	Of the once-blooming Daphles.  Constantly
	It haunted him where�er he went: he might
	Not thrust it from his mind, and to relieve
	His longing, aching, craving wish that she
	Could come back to him, looked and looked again
	Remorseful.  His strong, selfish will recoiled
	In torture on itself.  That lovingness
	Reproached far worse than anger.  Passionately
	He yearned for the impossible; the dead,
	Sweet, generous maiden who had given him
	So much, to be repaid with a brute clown�s
	Ingratitude.  A thousand, thousand times
	The blood ran in red hurry to his cheeks,
	In burning shame, and then left them all blanched
	With melancholy, as the impotence
	Of his desire smote upon him.  But it were
	Drear task to tell of his despair.  One day
	They missed him at his council-board and found
	Him lying stark and dead upon the floor,
	His dagger in his heart.  Distractedly
	He had torn town the picture from the wall,
	And his cheek lay on that blooming face
	Which, living, ne�er had smiled at such revenge.
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