‘And hast thou nerve enough?’ he said,
That Grey old Man, above whose head
Unnumber’d years had roll’d, —
‘And hast thou nerve to view,’ he cried,
‘The incarnate Fiend that Heaven defied!
— Art thou indeed so bold?’
‘Say, canst Thou, with unshrinking gaze,
Sustain, rash youth, the withering blaze
Of that unearthly eye,
That blasts where’er it lights, — the breath
That, like the Simoom, scatters death
On all that yet can die!
— ‘Darest thou confront that fearful form,
That rides the whirlwind, and the storm,
In wild unholy revel!
The terrors of that blasted brow,
Archangel’s once, — though ruin’d now —
— Ay, — dar’st thou face THE DEVIL?’ —
‘I dare!’ the desperate Youth replied,
And placed him by that Old Man’s side,
In fierce and frantic glee,
Unblench’d his cheek, and firm his limb
— ‘No paltry juggling Fiend, but HIM!
— THE DEVIL! — I fain would see! —
‘In all his Gorgon terrors clad,
His worst, his fellest shape!’ the Lad
Rejoined in reckless tone. —
— ‘Have then thy wish!’ Agrippa said,
And sigh’d and shook his hoary head,
With many a bitter groan.
He drew the mystic circle’s bound,
With skull and cross-bones fenc’d around;
He traced full many a sigil there;
He mutter’d many a backward pray’r,
That sounded like a curse —
‘He comes!’ — he cried with wild grimace,
‘The fellest of Apollyon’s race!’ —
— Then in his startled pupil’s face
He dash’d — an EMPTY PURSE!!
One more legend, and then, gentle Reader, ‘A merry Christmas to you and a happy New Year!’ — We have travelled over many lands together, and had many a good-humoured laugh by the way; — if we have, occasionally, been ‘more merry than wise,’ at least we have not jostled our neighbours on the road, — much less have we kicked any one into a ditch.
So wishing you heartily all the compliments of the season, and thanking you cordially for your good company, I, Thomas Ingoldsby, bid you heartily farewell, and leave you in that of
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51