Shelley, Peter Bell The Third
Hell is a city much like London--
A populous and a smoky city;
There are all sorts of people undone,
And there is little or no fun done; _150
Small justice shown, and still less pity.
There is a Castles, and a Canning,
A Cobbett, and a Castlereagh;
All sorts of caitiff corpses planning
All sorts of cozening for trepanning _155
Corpses less corrupt than they.
There is a ***, who has lost
His wits, or sold them, none knows which;
He walks about a double ghost,
And though as thin as Fraud almost-- _160
Ever grows more grim and rich.
There is a Chancery Court; a King;
A manufacturing mob; a set
Of thieves who by themselves are sent
Similar thieves to represent; _165
An army; and a public debt.
Which last is a scheme of paper money,
And means--being interpreted--
'Bees, keep your wax--give us the honey,
And we will plant, while skies are sunny, _170
Flowers, which in winter serve instead.'
There is a great talk of revolution--
And a great chance of despotism--
Taxes too, on wine and bread,
And meat, and beer, and tea, and cheese,
From which those patriots pure are fed,
Who gorge before they reel to bed _180
The tenfold essence of all these.
There are mincing women, mewing,
(Like cats, who amant misere,)
Of their own virtue, and pursuing
Their gentler sisters to that ruin, _185
Without which--what were chastity?
Bishops--great and little robbers--
Men of glory in the wars,--
Things whose trade is, over ladies
To lean, and flirt, and stare, and simper,
Till all that is divine in woman
Grows cruel, courteous, smooth, inhuman, _195
Crucified 'twixt a smile and whimper.
Thrusting, toiling, wailing, moiling,
Frowning, preaching--such a riot!
Each with never-ceasing labour,
Whilst he thinks he cheats his neighbour, _200
Cheating his own heart of quiet.
And all these meet at levees;--
Dinners convivial and political;--
Suppers of epic poets;--teas,
Where small talk dies in agonies;-- _205
Breakfasts professional and critical;
Lunches and snacks so aldermanic
That one would furnish forth ten dinners,
Where reigns a Cretan-tongued panic,
Lest news Russ, Dutch, or Alemannic _210
Should make some losers, and some winners--
Courts of law--committees--calls
Of a morning--clubs--book-stalls-- _215
And this is Hell--and in this smother
All are damnable and damned;
Each one damning, damns the other;
They are damned by one another, _220
By none other are they damned.
'Tis a lie to say, 'God damns'!
Where was Heaven's Attorney General
When they first gave out such flams?
Let there be an end of shams, _225
They are mines of poisonous mineral.
Statesmen damn themselves to be
Cursed; and lawyers damn their souls
To the auction of a fee;
Churchmen damn themselves to see _230
God's sweet love in burning coals.
The rich are damned, beyond all cure,
To taunt, and starve, and trample on
The weak and wretched; and the poor
Damn their broken hearts to endure _235
Stripe on stripe, with groan on groan.
Sometimes the poor are damned indeed
To take,--not means for being blessed,--
But Cobbett's snuff, revenge; that weed
From which the worms that it doth feed _240
Squeeze less than they before possessed.
And some few, like we know who,
Damned--but God alone knows why--
To believe their minds are given
To make this ugly Hell a Heaven; _245
In which faith they live and die.
Thus, as in a town, plague-stricken,
Each man be he sound or no
Must indifferently sicken;
As when day begins to thicken, _250
None knows a pigeon from a crow,--
So good and bad, sane and mad,
The oppressor and the oppressed;
Those who weep to see what others
Smile to inflict upon their brothers; _255
Lovers, haters, worst and best;
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.