September 23rd, 2010

let it be written. i. am an ass.

interim peregrinatory post, with no photos

thursday clxv

there is not much in the other dialogues which can be compared with the apology. the same recollection of his master may have been present to the mind of plato when depicting the sufferings of the just in the republic. the crito may also be regarded as a sort of appendage to the apology, in which socrates, who has defied the judges, is nevertheless represented as scrupulously obedient to the laws. the idealization of the sufferer is carried still further in the gorgias, in which the thesis is maintained, that 'to suffer is better than to do evil;' and the art of rhetoric is described as only useful for the purpose of self-accusation. the parallelisms which occur in the so-called apology of xenophon are not worth noticing, because the writing in which they are contained is manifestly spurious. the statements of the memorabilia respecting the trial and death of Socrates agree generally with plato; but they have lost the flavour of socratic irony in the narrative of xenophon.

the apology or platonic defence of socrates is divided into three parts: 1st. the defence properly so called; 2nd. the shorter address in mitigation of the penalty; 3rd. the last words of prophetic rebuke and exhortation.

she walked with rapid steps and with an indolent swaying of her whole young figure above the hips; when she passed near me i felt with tenfold force the charm of the peculiar, promising sensation i had formed the habit to seek near her. i thought with sudden dismay that this was the end of it; that after one more day i would be no longer able to come into this verandah, sit on this chair, and taste perversely the flavour of contempt in her indolent poses, drink in the provocation of her scornful looks, and listen to the curt, insolent remarks uttered in that harsh and seductive voice. as if my innermost nature had been altered by the action of some moral poison, i felt an abject dread of going to sea.

i had to exercise a sudden self-control, as one puts on a brake, to prevent myself jumping up to stride about, shout, gesticulate, make her a scene. what for? what about? i had no idea. it was just the relief of violence that i wanted; and i lolled back in my chair, trying to keep my lips formed in a smile; that half- indulgent, half-mocking smile which was my shield against the shafts of her contempt and the insulting sallies flung at me by the old woman.

"now lead me to the newest of hotels,"
he said, "and let your spleen be undeceived:
this ruin is not myself, but some one else;
i haven't failed; i've merely not achieved."

whether he knew or not, he laughed and dined
with more of an immune regardlessness
of pits before him and of sands behind
than many a child at forty would confess;

and after, when the bells in ~boris~ rang
their tumult at the metropolitan,
he rocked himself, and i believe he sang.

when i had begun to speak i had kneeled upon the gravel withoutside the low window, rested my arms upon the sill, and lowered my voice to the most confidential whisper. flora herself must kneel upon the other side, and this brought our heads upon a level with only the bars between us. so placed, so separated, it seemed that our proximity, and the continuous and low sounds of my pleading voice, worked progressively and powerfully on her heart, and perhaps not less so on my own. for these spells are double-edged. the silly birds may be charmed with the pipe of the fowler, which is but a tube of reeds. not so with a bird of our own feather! as i went on, and my resolve strengthened, and my voice found new modulations, and our faces were drawn closer to the bars and to each other, not only she, but i, succumbed to the fascination, and were kindled by the charm. we make love, and thereby ourselves fall the deeper in it. it is with the heart only that one captures a heart.

'and now,' i continued, 'i will tell you what you can still do for me. i run a little risk just now, and you see for yourself how unavoidable it is for any man of honour. but if--but in case of the worst i do not choose to enrich either my enemies or the prince regent. i have here the bulk of what my uncle gave me. eight thousand odd pounds. will you take care of it for me? do not think of it merely as money; take and keep it as a relic of your friend or some precious piece of him. i may have bitter need of it ere long. do you know the old country story of the giant who gave his heart to his wife to keep for him, thinking it safer to repose on her loyalty than his own strength? flora, i am the giant--a very little one: will you be the keeper of my life? it is my heart i offer you in this symbol. in the sight of god, if you will have it, i give you my name, i endow you with my money. if the worst come, if i may never hope to call you wife, let me at least think that you will use my uncle's legacy as my widow.'

'no, not that,' she said. 'never that.'

'what then?' i said. 'what else, my angel? what are words to me? there is but one name that i care to know you by. flora, my love!'

'anne!' she said.

what sound is so full of music as one's own name uttered for the first time in the voice of her we love!

'my darling!' said i.

the jealous bars, set at the top and bottom in stone and lime, obstructed the rapture of the moment; but i took her to myself as wholly as they allowed. she did not shun my lips. my arms were wound round her body, which yielded itself generously to my embrace. as we so remained, entwined and yet severed, bruising our faces unconsciously on the cold bars, the irony of the universe--or as i prefer to say, envy of some of the gods--again stirred up the elements of that stormy night. the wind blew again in the tree-tops; a volley of cold sea-rain deluged the garden, and, as the deuce would have it, a gutter which had been hitherto choked up began suddenly to play upon my head and shoulders with the vivacity of a fountain. we parted with a shock; i sprang to my feet, and she to hers, as though we had been discovered. a moment after, but now both standing, we had again approached the window on either side.

'flora,' i said, 'this is but a poor offer i can make you.'

she took my hand in hers and clasped it to her bosom.

'rich enough for a queen!' she said, with a lift in her breathing that was more eloquent than words. 'anne, my brave anne! i would be glad to be your maidservant; i could envy that boy rowley. but, no!' she broke off, 'i envy no one--i need not--i am yours.'

'mine,' said i, 'for ever! by this and this, mine!'

'all of me,' she repeated. 'altogether and forever!'

and if the god were envious, he must have seen with mortification how little he could do to mar the happiness of mortals. i stood in a mere waterspout; she herself was wet, not from my embrace only, but from the splashing of the storm. the candles had guttered out; we were in darkness. i could scarce see anything but the shining of her eyes in the dark room. to her i must have appeared as a silhouette, haloed by rain and the spouting of the ancient gothic gutter above my head.

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