All are damned—they breathe an air,
Thick, infected, joy-dispelling:
Each pursues what seems most fair,
Mining like moles, through mind, and there 260
Scoop palace-caverns vast, where Care
In throned state is ever dwelling.
Lo. Peter in Hell’s Grosvenor Square,
A footman in the Devil’s service!
And the misjudging world would swear 265
That every man in service there
To virtue would prefer vice.
But Peter, though now damned, was not
What Peter was before damnation.
Men oftentimes prepare a lot 270
Which ere it finds them, is not what
Suits with their genuine station.
All things that Peter saw and felt
Had a peculiar aspect to him;
And when they came within the belt 275
Of his own nature, seemed to melt,
Like cloud to cloud, into him.
And so the outward world uniting
To that within him, he became
Considerably uninviting 280
To those who, meditation slighting,
Were moulded in a different frame.
And he scorned them, and they scorned him;
And he scorned all they did; and they
Did all that men of their own trim 285
Are wont to do to please their whim,
Drinking, lying, swearing, play.
Such were his fellow-servants; thus
His virtue, like our own, was built
Too much on that indignant fuss 290
Hypocrite Pride stirs up in us
To bully one another’s guilt.
He had a mind which was somehow
At once circumference and centre
Of all he might or feel or know; 295
Nothing went ever out, although
Something did ever enter.
He had as much imagination
As a pint-pot;—he never could
Fancy another situation, 300
From which to dart his contemplation,
Than that wherein he stood.
Yet his was individual mind,
And new created all he saw
In a new manner, and refined 305
Those new creations, and combined
Them, by a master-spirit’s law.
An apprehension clear, intense,
Of his mind’s work, had made alive 310
The things it wrought on; I believe
Wakening a sort of thought in sense.
But from the first ’twas Peter’s drift
To be a kind of moral eunuch,
He touched the hem of Nature’s shift, 315
Felt faint—and never dared uplift
The closest, all-concealing tunic.