A Fragment of Life – Epilogue

It would be impossible to carry on the history of Edward Darnell and of Mary his wife to a greater length, since from this point their legend is full of impossible events, and seems to put on the semblance of the stories of the Graal. It is certain, indeed, that in this world they changed their lives, like King Arthur, but this is a work which no chronicler has cared to describe with any amplitude of detail. Darnell, it is true, made a little book, partly consisting of queer verse which might have been written by an inspired infant, and partly made up of ‘notes and exclamations’ in an odd dog-Latin which he had picked up from the ‘Iolo MSS.’, but it is to be feared that this work, even if published in its entirety, would cast but little light on a perplexing story. He called this piece of literature ‘In Exitu Israel,’ and wrote on the title page the motto, doubtless of his own composition, ‘Nunc certe scio quod omnia legenda; omnes historiae, omnes fabulae, omnis Scriptura sint de ME narrata.’ It is only too evident that his Latin was not learnt at the feet of Cicero; but in this dialect he relates the great history of the ‘New Life’ as it was manifested to him. The ‘poems’ are even stranger. One, headed (with an odd reminiscence of old-fashioned books) ‘Lines written on looking down from a Height in London on a Board School suddenly lit up by the Sun’ begins thus:–

One day when I was all alone
I found a wondrous little stone,
It lay forgotten on the road
Far from the ways of man’s abode.
When on this stone mine eyes I cast
I saw my Treasure found at last.
I pressed it hard against my face,
I covered it with my embrace,
I hid it in a secret place.
And every day I went to see
This stone that was my ecstasy;
And worshipped it with flowers rare,
And secret words and sayings fair.
O stone, so rare and red and wise
O fragment of far Paradise,
O Star, whose light is life! O Sea,
Whose ocean is infinity!
Thou art a fire that ever burns,
And all the world to wonder turns;
And all the dust of the dull day
By thee is changed and purged away,
So that, where’er I look, I see
A world of a Great Majesty.
The sullen river rolls all gold,
The desert park’s a faery wold,
When on the trees the wind is borne
I hear the sound of Arthur’s horn
I see no town of grim grey ways,
But a great city all ablaze
With burning torches, to light up
The pinnacles that shrine the Cup.
Ever the magic wine is poured,
Ever the Feast shines on the board,
Ever the song is borne on high
That chants the holy Magistry–
Etc. etc. etc.

From such documents as these it is clearly impossible to gather any very definite information. But on the last page Darnell has written–

‘So I awoke from a dream of a London suburb, of daily labour, of weary, useless little things; and as my eyes were opened I saw that I was in an ancient wood, where a clear well rose into grey film and vapour beneath a misty, glimmering heat. And a form came towards me from the hidden places of the wood, and my love and I were united by the well.’


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