Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished


  • In midmost Ind, beside Hydaspes cool,
  • There stood, or hover’d, tremulous in the air,
  • A faery city ’neath the potent rule
  • Of Emperor Elfinan; fam’d ev’rywhere
  • For love of mortal women, maidens fair,
  • Whose lips were solid, whose soft hands were made
  • Of a fit mould and beauty, ripe and rare,
  • To tamper his slight wooing, warm yet staid:
  • He lov’d girls smooth as shades, but hated a mere shade.


  • This was a crime forbidden by the law;
  • And all the priesthood of his city wept,
  • For ruin and dismay they well foresaw,
  • If impious prince no bound or limit kept,
  • And faery Zendervester overstept;
  • They wept, he sin’d, and still he would sin on,
  • They dreamt of sin, and he sin’d while they slept;
  • In vain the pulpit thunder’d at the throne,
  • Caricature was vain, and vain the tart lampoon.


  • Which seeing, his high court of parliament
  • Laid a remonstrance at his Highness’ feet,
  • Praying his royal senses to content
  • Themselves with what in faery land was sweet,
  • Befitting best that shade with shade should meet:
  • Whereat, to calm their fears, he promis’d soon
  • From mortal tempters all to make retreat, —
  • Aye, even on the first of the new moon,
  • An immaterial wife to espouse as heaven’s boon.


  • Meantime he sent a fluttering embassy
  • To Pigmio, of Imaus sovereign,
  • To half beg, and half demand, respectfully,
  • The hand of his fair daughter Bellanaine;
  • An audience had, and speeching done, they gain
  • Their point, and bring the weeping bride away;
  • Whom, with but one attendant, safely lain
  • Upon their wings, they bore in bright array,
  • While little harps were touch’d by many a lyric fay.


  • As in old pictures tender cherubim
  • A child’s soul thro’ the sapphir’d canvas bear,
  • So, thro’ a real heaven, on they swim
  • With the sweet princess on her plumag’d lair,
  • Speed giving to the winds her lustrous hair;
  • And so she journey’d, sleeping or awake,
  • Save when, for healthful exercise and air,
  • She chose to ‘promener à l’aile,’ or take
  • A pigeon’s somerset, for sport or change’s sake.


  • ‘Dear Princess, do not whisper me so loud,’
  • Quoth Corallina, nurse and confidant,
  • ‘Do not you see there, lurking in a cloud,
  • Close at your back, that sly old Crafticant?
  • He hears a whisper plainer than a rant:
  • Dry up your tears, and do not look so blue;
  • He’s Elfinan’s great state-spy militant,
  • His running, lying, flying foot-man too,--
  • Dear mistress, let him have no handle against you!


  • ‘Show him a mouse’s tail, and he will guess,
  • With metaphysic swiftness, at the mouse;
  • Show him a garden, and with speed no less,
  • He’ll surmise sagely of a dwelling house,
  • And plot, in the same minute, how to chouse
  • The owner out of it; show him a’ --- ‘Peace!
  • Peace! nor contrive thy mistress’ ire to rouse!’
  • Return’d the Princess, ‘my tongue shall not cease
  • Till from this hated match I get a free release.


  • ‘Ah, beauteous mortal!’ ‘Hush!’ quoth Coralline,
  • ‘Really you must not talk of him, indeed.’
  • ‘You hush!’ reply’d the mistress, with a shinee
  • Of anger in her eyes, enough to breed
  • In stouter hearts than nurse’s fear and dread:
  • ‘Twas not the glance itself made nursey flinch,
  • But of its threat she took the utmost heed;
  • Not liking in her heart an hour-long pinch,
  • Or a sharp needle run into her back an inch.


  • So she was silenc’d, and fair Bellanaine,
  • Writhing her little body with ennui,
  • Continued to lament and to complain,
  • That Fate, cross-purposing, should let her be
  • Ravish’d away far from her dear countree;
  • That all her feelings should be set at nought,
  • In trumping up this match so hastily,
  • With lowland blood; and lowland blood she thought
  • Poison, as every staunch true-born Imaian ought.


  • Sorely she griev’d, and wetted three or four
  • White Provence rose-leaves with her faery tears,
  • But not for this cause; —alas! she had more
  • Bad reasons for her sorrow, as appears
  • In the fam’d memoirs of a thousand years,
  • Written by Crafticant, and published
  • By Parpaglion and Co., (those sly compeers
  • Who rak’d up ev’ry fact against the dead,)
  • In Scarab Street, Panthea, at the Jubal’s Head.


  • Where, after a long hypercritic howl
  • Against the vicious manners of the age,
  • He goes on to expose, with heart and soul,
  • What vice in this or that year was the rage,
  • Backbiting all the world in every page;
  • With special strictures on the horrid crime,
  • (Section’d and subsection’d with learning sage,)
  • Of faeries stooping on their wings sublime
  • To kiss a mortal’s lips, when such were in their prime.


  • Turn to the copious index, you will find
  • Somewhere in the column, headed letter B,
  • The name of Bellanaine, if you’re not blind;
  • Then pray refer to the text, and you will see
  • An article made up of calumny
  • Against this highland princess, rating her
  • For giving way, so over fashionably,
  • To this new-fangled vice, which seems a burr
  • Stuck in his moral throat, no coughing e’er could stir.


  • There he says plainly that she lov’d a man!
  • That she around him flutter’d, flirted, toy’d,
  • Before her marriage with great Elfinan;
  • That after marriage too, she never joy’d
  • In husband’s company, but still employ’d
  • Her wits to ’scape away to Angle-land;
  • Where liv’d the youth, who worried and annoy’d
  • Her tender heart, and its warm ardours fann’d
  • To such a dreadful blaze, her side would scorch her hand.


  • But let us leave this idle tittle-tattle
  • To waiting-maids, and bed-room coteries,
  • Nor till fit time against her fame wage battle.
  • Poor Elfinan is very ill at ease,
  • Let us resume his subject if you please:
  • For it may comfort and console him much,
  • To rhyme and syllable his miseries;
  • Poor Elfinan! whose cruel fate was such,
  • He sat and curs’d a bride he knew he could not touch.


  • Soon as (according to his promises)
  • The bridal embassy had taken wing,
  • And vanish’d, bird-like, o’er the suburb trees,
  • The Emperor, empierc’d with the sharp sting
  • Of love, retired, vex’d and murmuring
  • Like any drone shut from the fair bee-queen,
  • Into his cabinet, and there did fling
  • His limbs upon a sofa, full of spleen,
  • And damn’d his House of Commons, in complete chagrin.


  • “I’ll trounce some of the members,” cry’d the Prince,
  • “I’ll put a mark against some rebel names,
  • I’ll make the opposition-benches wince,
  • I’ll show them very soon, to all their shames,
  • What ’tis to smother up a Prince’s flames;
  • That ministers should join in it, I own,
  • Surprises me! —they too at these high games!
  • Am I an Emperor? Do I wear a crown?
  • Imperial Elfinan, go hang thyself or drown!


  • “I’ll trounce ‘em! —there’s the square-cut chancellor,
  • His son shall never touch that bishopric;
  • And for the nephew of old Palfior,
  • I’ll show him that his speeches made me sick,
  • And give the colonelcy to Phalaric;
  • The tiptoe marquis, mortal and gallant,
  • Shall lodge in shabby taverns upon tick;
  • And for the Speaker’s second cousin’s aunt,
  • She sha’n’t be maid of honour, — by heaven that she sha’n’t!


  • ‘I’ll shirk the Duke of A.; I’ll cut his brother;
  • I’ll give no garter to his eldest son;
  • I won’t speak to his sister or his mother!
  • The Viscount B. shall live at cut-and-run;
  • But how in the world can I contrive to stun
  • That fellow’s voice, which plagues me worse than any,
  • That stubborn fool, that impudent state-dun,
  • Who sets down ev’ry sovereign as a zany, —
  • That vulgar commoner, Esquire Biancopany?


  • “Monstrous affair! Pshaw! pah! what ugly minx
  • Will they fetch from Imaus for my bride?
  • Alas! my wearied heart within me sinks,
  • To think that I must be so near ally’d
  • To a cold dullard fay, —ah, woe betide!
  • Ah, fairest of all human loveliness!
  • Sweet Bertha! what crime can it be to glide
  • About the fragrant plaintings of thy dress,
  • Or kiss thine eyes, or count thy locks, tress after tress?”


  • So said, one minute’s while his eyes remaind’
  • Half lidded, piteous, languid, innocent;
  • But, in a wink, their splendour they regain’d,
  • Sparkling revenge with amorous fury blent.
  • Love thwarted in bad temper oft has vent:
  • He rose, he stampt his foot, he rang the bell,
  • And order’d some death-warrants to be sent
  • For signature: —somewhere the tempest fell,
  • As many a poor felon does not live to tell.


  • “At the same time, Eban,” —(this was his page,
  • A fay of colour, slave from top to toe,
  • Sent as a present, while yet under age,
  • From the Viceroy of Zanguebar, —wise, slow,
  • His speech, his only words were “yes” and “no,”
  • But swift of look, and foot, and wing was he, —)
  • “At the same time, Eban, this instant go
  • To Hum the soothsayer, whose name I see
  • Among the fresh arrivals in our empery.


  • “Bring Hum to me! But stay — here, take my ring,
  • The pledge of favour, that he not suspect
  • Any foul play, or awkward murdering,
  • Tho’ I have bowstrung many of his sect;
  • Throw in a hint, that if he should neglect
  • One hour, the next shall see him in my grasp,
  • And the next after that shall see him neck’d,
  • Or swallow’d by my hunger-starved asp, —
  • And mention (’tis as well) the torture of the wasp.”


  • These orders given, the Prince, in half a pet,
  • Let o’er the silk his propping elbow slide,
  • Caught up his little legs, and, in a fret,
  • Fell on the sofa on his royal side.
  • The slave retreated backwards, humble-ey’d,
  • And with a slave-like silence clos’d the door,
  • And to old Hun thro’ street and alley hied;
  • He “knew the city,” as we say, of yore,
  • And for short cuts and turns, was nobody knew more.


  • It was the time when wholesale dealers close
  • Their shutters with a moody sense of wealth,
  • But retail dealers, diligent, let loose
  • The gas (objected to on score of health),
  • Convey’d in little solder’d pipes by stealth,
  • And make it flare in many a brilliant form,
  • That all the powers of darkness it repell’th,
  • Which to the oil-trade doth great scaith and harm,
  • And superseded quite the use of the glow-worm.


  • Eban, untempted by the pastry-cooks,
  • (Of pastry he got store within the palace,)
  • With hasty steps, wrapp’d cloak, and solemn looks,
  • Incognito upon his errand sallies,
  • His smelling-bottle ready for the allies;
  • He pass’d the Hurdy-gurdies with disdain,
  • Vowing he’d have them sent on board the gallies;
  • Just as he made his vow; it ’gan to rain,
  • Therefore he call’d a coach, and bade it drive amain.


  • “I’ll pull the string,” said he, and further said,
  • “Polluted Jarvey! Ah, thou filthy hack!
  • Whose springs of life are all dry’d up and dead,
  • Whose linsey-woolsey lining hangs all slack,
  • Whose rug is straw, whose wholeness is a crack;
  • And evermore thy steps go clatter-clitter;
  • Whose glass once up can never be got back,
  • Who prov’st, with jolting arguments and bitter,
  • That ’tis of modern use to travel in a litter.


  • “Thou inconvenience! thou hungry crop
  • For all corn! thou snail-creeper to and fro,
  • Who while thou goest ever seem’st to stop,
  • And fiddle-faddle standest while you go;
  • I’ the morning, freighted with a weight of woe,
  • Unto some lazar-house thou journeyest,
  • And in the evening tak’st a double row
  • Of dowdies, for some dance or party drest,
  • Besides the goods meanwhile thou movest east and west.


  • “By thy ungallant bearing and sad mien,
  • An inch appears the utmost thou couldst budge;
  • Yet at the slightest nod, or hint, or sign,
  • Round to the curb-stone patient dost thou trudge,
  • School’d in a beckon, learned in a nudge,
  • A dull-ey’d Argus watching for a fare;
  • Quiet and plodding, thou dost bear no grudge
  • To whisking Tilburies, or Phaetons rare,
  • Curricles, or Mail-coaches, swift beyond compare.”


  • Philosophizing thus, he pull’d the check,
  • And bade the Coachman wheel to such a street,
  • Who, turning much his body, more his neck,
  • Louted full low, and hoarsely did him greet:
  • “Certes, Monsieur were best take to his feet,
  • Seeing his servant can no further drive
  • For press of coaches, that to-night here meet,
  • Many as bees about a straw-capp’d hive,
  • When first for April honey into faint flowers they dive.”


  • Eban then paid his fare, and tiptoe went
  • To Hum’s hotel; and, as he on did pass
  • With head inclin’d, each dusky lineament
  • Show’d in the pearl-pav’d street, as in a glass;
  • His purple vest, that ever peeping was
  • Rich from the fluttering crimson of his cloak,
  • His silvery trowsers, and his silken sash
  • Tied in a burnish’d knot, their semblance took
  • Upon the mirror’d walls, wherever he might look.


  • He smil’d at self, and, smiling, show’d his teeth,
  • And seeing his white teeth, he smil’d the more;
  • Lifted his eye-brows, spurn’d the path beneath,
  • Show’d teeth again, and smil’d as heretofore,
  • Until he knock’d at the magician’s door;
  • Where, till the porter answer’d, might be seen,
  • In the clear panel more he could adore, —
  • His turban wreath’d of gold, and white, and green,
  • Mustachios, ear-ring, nose-ring, and his sabre keen.


  • “Does not your master give a rout to-night?”
  • Quoth the dark page. “Oh, no!” return’d the Swiss,
  • “Next door but one to us, upon the right,
  • The Magazin des Modes now open is
  • Against the Emperor’s wedding; —and, sir, this
  • My master finds a monstrous horrid bore;
  • As he retir’d, an hour ago I wis,
  • With his best beard and brimstone, to explore
  • And cast a quiet figure in his second floor.


  • “Gad! he’s oblig’d to stick to business!
  • For chalk, I hear, stands at a pretty price;
  • And as for aqua vitae — there’s a mess!
  • The dentes sapientiae of mice,
  • Our barber tells me too, are on the rise, —
  • Tinder’s a lighter article, — nitre pure
  • Goes off like lightning, — grains of Paradise
  • At an enormous figure! — stars not sure! —
  • Zodiac will not move without a slight douceur!


  • “Venus won’t stir a peg without a fee,
  • And master is too partial, entre nous,
  • To” — “Hush — hush!” cried Eban, “sure that is he
  • Coming down stairs, — by St. Bartholomew!
  • As backwards as he can, — is’t something new?
  • Or is’t his custom, in the name of fun?’
  • “He always comes down backward, with one shoe” —
  • Return’d the porter — “off, and one shoe on,
  • Like, saving shoe for sock or stocking, my man John!”


  • It was indeed the great Magician,
  • Feeling, with careful toe, for every stair,
  • And retrograding careful as he can,
  • Backwards and downwards from his own two pair:
  • “Salpietro!” exclaim’d Hum, “is the dog there?
  • He’s always in my way upon the mat!’
  • “He’s in the kitchen, or the Lord knows where,” —
  • Reply’d the Swiss, — “the nasty, yelping brat!”
  • “Don’t beat him!” return’d Hum, and on the floor came pat.


  • Then facing right about, he saw the Page,
  • And said: “Don’t tell me what you want, Eban;
  • The Emperor is now in a huge rage, —
  • ‘Tis nine to one he’ll give you the rattan!
  • Let us away!” Away together ran
  • The plain-dress’d sage and spangled blackamoor,
  • Nor rested till they stood to cool, and fan,
  • And breathe themselves at th’ Emperor’s chamber door,
  • When Eban thought he heard a soft imperial snore.


  • “I thought you guess’d, foretold, or prophesy’d,
  • That’s Majesty was in a raving fit?”
  • “He dreams,” said Hum, “or I have ever lied,
  • That he is tearing you, sir, bit by bit.”
  • “He’s not asleep, and you have little wit,”
  • Reply’d the page; “that little buzzing noise,
  • Whate’er your palmistry may make of it,
  • Comes from a play-thing of the Emperor’s choice,
  • From a Man-Tiger-Organ, prettiest of his toys.”


  • Eban then usher’d in the learned Seer:
  • Elfinan’s back was turn’d, but, ne’ertheless,
  • Both, prostrate on the carpet, ear by ear,
  • Crept silently, and waited in distress,
  • Knowing the Emperor’s moody bitterness;
  • Eban especially, who on the floor ’gan
  • Tremble and quake to death, — he feared less
  • A dose of senna-tea or nightmare Gorgon
  • Than the Emperor when he play’d on his Man-Tiger-Organ.


  • They kiss’d nine times the carpet’s velvet face
  • Of glossy silk, soft, smooth, and meadow-green,
  • Where the close eye in deep rich fur might trace
  • A silver tissue, scantly to be seen,
  • As daisies lurk’d in June-grass, buds in green;
  • Sudden the music ceased, sudden the hand
  • Of majesty, by dint of passion keen,
  • Doubled into a common fist, went grand,
  • And knock’d down three cut glasses, and his best ink-stand.


  • Then turning round, he saw those trembling two:
  • “Eban,” said he, “as slaves should taste the fruits
  • Of diligence, I shall remember you
  • To-morrow, or next day, as time suits,
  • In a finger conversation with my mutes, —
  • Begone! — for you, Chaldean! here remain!
  • Fear not, quake not, and as good wine recruits
  • A conjurer’s spirits, what cup will you drain?
  • Sherry in silver, hock in gold, or glass’d champagne?”


  • “Commander of the faithful!” answer’d Hum,
  • “In preference to these, I’ll merely taste
  • A thimble-full of old Jamaica rum.”
  • “A simple boon!” said Elfinan; “thou may’st
  • Have Nantz, with which my morning-coffee’s lac’d.”
  • “I’ll have a glass of Nantz, then,” — said the Seer, —
  • “Made racy — (sure my boldness is misplac’d!) —
  • With the third part — (yet that is drinking dear!) —
  • Of the least drop of crème de citron, crystal clear.”


  • “I pledge you, Hum! and pledge my dearest love,
  • My Bertha!” “Bertha! Bertha!” cry’d the sage,
  • “I know a many Berthas!” “Mine’s above
  • All Berthas!” sighed the Emperor. “I engage,”
  • Said Hum, “in duty, and in vassalage,
  • To mention all the Berthas in the earth; —
  • There’s Bertha Watson, — and Miss Bertha Page, —
  • This fam’d for languid eyes, and that for mirth, —
  • There’s Bertha Blount of York, — and Bertha Knox of Perth.”


  • “You seem to know” — “I do know,” answer’d Hum,
  • “Your Majesty’s in love with some fine girl
  • Named Bertha; but her surname will not come,
  • Without a little conjuring.” “’Tis Pearl,
  • ‘Tis Bertha Pearl! What makes my brain so whirl?
  • And she is softer, fairer than her name!”
  • “Where does she live?” ask’d Hum. “Her fair locks curl
  • So brightly, they put all our fays to shame! —
  • Live? — O! at Canterbury, with her old grand-dame.”


  • “Good! good!” cried Hum, “I’ve known her from a child!
  • She is a changeling of my management;
  • She was born at midnight in an Indian wild;
  • Her mother’s screams with the striped tiger’s blent,
  • While the torch-bearing slaves a halloo sent
  • Into the jungles; and her palanquin,
  • Rested amid the desert’s dreariment,
  • Shook with her agony, till fair were seen
  • The little Bertha’s eyes ope on the stars serene.”


  • “I can’t say,” said the monarch; “that may be
  • Just as it happen’d, true or else a bam!
  • Drink up your brandy, and sit down by me,
  • Feel, feel my pulse, how much in love I am;
  • And if your science is not all a sham.
  • Tell me some means to get the lady here.’
  • “Upon my honour!” said the son of Cham,
  • “She is my dainty changeling, near and dear,
  • Although her story sounds at first a little queer.”


  • “Convey her to me, Hum, or by my crown,
  • My sceptre, and my cross-surmounted globe,
  • I’ll knock you” — “Does your majesty mean — down?
  • No, no, you never could my feelings probe
  • To such a depth!” The Emperor took his robe,
  • And wept upon its purple palatine,
  • While Hum continued, shamming half a sob, —
  • “In Canterbury doth your lady shine?
  • But let me cool your brandy with a little wine.”


  • Whereat a narrow Flemish glass he took,
  • That since belong’d to Admiral De Witt,
  • Admir’d it with a connoisseuring look,
  • And with the ripest claret crowned it,
  • And, ere the lively bead could burst and flit,
  • He turn’d it quickly, nimbly upside down,
  • His mouth being held conveniently fit
  • To catch the treasure: “Best in all the town!”
  • He said, smack’d his moist lips, and gave a pleasant frown.


  • “Ah! good my Prince, weep not!” And then again
  • He filled a bumper. “Great Sire, do not weep!
  • Your pulse is shocking, but I’ll ease your pain.”
  • “Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep
  • Your voice low,” said the Emperor; “and steep
  • Some lady’s-fingers nice in Candy wine;
  • And prithee, Hum, behind the screen do peep
  • For the rose-water vase, magician mine!
  • And sponge my forehead, — so my love doth make me pine.”


  • “Ah, cursed Bellanaine!” “Don’t think of her,”
  • Rejoin’d the Mago, “but on Bertha muse;
  • For, by my choicest best barometer,
  • You shall not throttled be in marriage noose;
  • I’ve said it, Sire; you only have to choose
  • Bertha or Bellanaine.” So saying, he drew
  • From the left pocket of his threadbare hose,
  • A sampler hoarded slyly, good as new,
  • Holding it by his thumb and finger full in view.


  • “Sire, this is Bertha Pearl’s neat handy-work,
  • Her name, see here, Midsummer, ninety-one.”
  • Elfinan snatch’d it with a sudden jerk,
  • And wept as if he never would have done,
  • Honouring with royal tears the poor homespun;
  • Whereon were broider’d tigers with black eyes,
  • And long-tail’d pheasants, and a rising sun,
  • Plenty of posies, great stags, butterflies
  • Bigger than stags, — a moon, — with other mysteries.


  • The monarch handled o’er and o’er again
  • Those day-school hieroglyphics with a sigh;
  • Somewhat in sadness, but pleas’d in the main,
  • Till this oracular couplet met his eye
  • Astounded — Cupid, I / do thee defy!
  • It was too much. He shrunk back in his chair,
  • Grew pale as death, and fainted — very nigh!
  • “Pho! nonsense!” exclaim’d Hum, “now don’t despair;
  • She does not mean it really. Cheer up, hearty — there!


  • “And listen to my words. You say you won’t,
  • On any terms, marry Miss Bellanaine;
  • It goes against your conscience — good! Well, don’t.
  • You say you love a mortal. I would fain
  • Persuade your honour’s highness to refrain
  • From peccadilloes. But, Sire, as I say,
  • What good would that do? And, to be more plain,
  • You would do me a mischief some odd day,
  • Cut off my ears and limbs, or head too, by my fay!


  • “Besides, manners forbid that I should pass any
  • Vile strictures on the conduct of a prince
  • Who should indulge his genius, if he has any,
  • Not, like a subject, foolish matters mince.
  • Now I think on’t, perhaps I could convince
  • Your Majesty there is no crime at all
  • In loving pretty little Bertha, since
  • She’s very delicate, — not over tall, —
  • A fairy’s hand, and in the waist why — very small.”


  • “Ring the repeater, gentle Hum!” “’Tis five,”
  • Said the gentle Hum; “the nights draw in apace;
  • The little birds I hear are all alive;
  • I see the dawning touch’d upon your face;
  • Shall I put out the candles, please your Grace?”
  • “Do put them out, and, without more ado,
  • Tell me how I may that sweet girl embrace, —
  • How you can bring her to me.” “That’s for you,
  • Great Emperor! to adventure, like a lover true.”


  • “I fetch her!” — “Yes, an’t like your Majesty;
  • And as she would be frighten’d wide awake
  • To travel such a distance through the sky,
  • Use of some soft manoeuvre you must make,
  • For your convenience, and her dear nerves’ sake;
  • Nice way would be to bring her in a swoon,
  • Anon, I’ll tell what course were best to take;
  • You must away this morning.” “Hum! so soon?”
  • “Sire, you must be in Kent by twelve o’clock at noon.”


  • At this great Caesar started on his feet,
  • Lifted his wings, and stood attentive-wise.
  • “Those wings to Canterbury you must beat,
  • If you hold Bertha as a worthy prize.
  • Look in the Almanack — Moore never lies —
  • April the twenty- fourth, — this coming day,
  • Now breathing its new bloom upon the skies,
  • Will end in St. Mark’s Eve; — you must away,
  • For on that eve alone can you the maid convey.”


  • Then the magician solemnly ’gan to frown,
  • So that his frost-white eyebrows, beetling low,
  • Shaded his deep green eyes, and wrinkles brown
  • Plaited upon his furnace-scorched brow:
  • Forth from his hood that hung his neck below,
  • He lifted a bright casket of pure gold,
  • Touch’d a spring-lock, and there in wool or snow,
  • Charm’d into ever freezing, lay an old
  • And legend-leaved book, mysterious to behold.


  • “Take this same book, — it will not bite you, Sire;
  • There, put it underneath your royal arm;
  • Though it’s a pretty weight it will not tire,
  • But rather on your journey keep you warm:
  • This is the magic, this the potent charm,
  • That shall drive Bertha to a fainting fit!
  • When the time comes, don’t feel the least alarm,
  • But lift her from the ground, and swiftly flit
  • Back to your palace, where I wait for guerdon fit.”


  • “What shall I do with that same book?” “Why merely
  • Lay it on Bertha’s table, close beside
  • Her work-box, and ’twill help your purpose dearly;
  • I say no more.” “Or good or ill betide,
  • Through the wide air to Kent this morn I glide!”
  • Exclaim’d the Emperor. “When I return,
  • Ask what you will, — I’ll give you my new bride!
  • And take some more wine, Hum; — O Heavens! I burn
  • To be upon the wing! Now, now, that minx I spurn!”


  • “Leave her to me,” rejoin’d the magian:
  • “But how shall I account, illustrious fay!
  • For thine imperial absence? Pho! I can
  • Say you are very sick, and bar the way
  • To your so loving courtiers for one day;
  • If either of their two archbishops’ graces
  • Should talk of extreme unction, I shall say
  • You do not like cold pig with Latin phrases,
  • Which never should be used but in alarming cases.”


  • “Open the window, Hum; I’m ready now!”
  • “Zooks!” exclaim’d Hum, as up the sash he drew.
  • “Behold, your Majesty, upon the brow
  • Of yonder hill, what crowds of people!” “Whew!
  • The monster’s always after something new,”
  • Return’d his Highness, “they are piping hot
  • To see my pigsney Bellanaine. Hum! do
  • Tighten my belt a little, — so, so, — not
  • Too tight, — the book! — my wand! — so, nothing is forgot.”


  • “Wounds! how they shout!” said Hum, “and there, — see, see!
  • Th’ ambassador’s return’d from Pigmio!
  • The morning’s very fine, — uncommonly!
  • See, past the skirts of yon white cloud they go,
  • Tinging it with soft crimsons! Now below
  • The sable-pointed heads of firs and pines
  • They dip, move on, and with them moves a glow
  • Along the forest side! Now amber lines
  • Reach the hill top, and now throughout the valley shines.”


  • “Why, Hum, you’re getting quite poetical!
  • Those nows you managed in a special style.”
  • “If ever you have leisure, Sire, you shall
  • See scraps of mine will make it worth your while,
  • Tid-bits for Phoebus! — yes, you well may smile.
  • Hark! hark! the bells!” “A little further yet,
  • Good Hum, and let me view this mighty coil.”
  • Then the great Emperor full graceful set
  • His elbow for a prop, and snuff’d his mignonnette.


  • The morn is full of holiday; loud bells
  • With rival clamours ring from every spire;
  • Cunningly-station’d music dies and swells
  • In echoing places; when the winds respire,
  • Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire;
  • A metropolitan murmur, lifeful, warm,
  • Comes from the northern suburbs; rich attire
  • Freckles with red and gold the moving swarm;
  • While here and there clear trumpets blow a keen alarm.


  • And now the fairy escort was seen clear,
  • Like the old pageant of Aurora’s train,
  • Above a pearl-built minister, hovering near;
  • First wily Crafticant, the chamberlain,
  • Balanc’d upon his grey-grown pinions twain,
  • His slender wand officially reveal’d;
  • Then black gnomes scattering sixpences like rain;
  • Then pages three and three; and next, slave-held,
  • The Imaian ’scutcheon bright, — one mouse in argent field.


  • Gentlemen pensioners next; and after them,
  • A troop of winged Janizaries flew;
  • Then slaves, as presents bearing many a gem;
  • Then twelve physicians fluttering two and two;
  • And next a chaplain in a cassock new;
  • Then Lords in waiting; then (what head not reels
  • For pleasure?) — the fair Princess in full view,
  • Borne upon wings, — and very pleas’d she feels
  • To have such splendour dance attendance at her heels.


  • For there was more magnificence behind:
  • She wav’d her handkerchief. “Ah, very grand!”
  • Cry’d Elfinan, and clos’d the window-blind;
  • “And, Hum, we must not shilly-shally stand, —
  • Adieu! adieu! I’m off for Angle-land!
  • I say, old Hocus, have you such a thing
  • About you, — feel your pockets, I command, —
  • I want, this instant, an invisible ring, —
  • Thank you, old mummy! — now securely I take wing.”


  • Then Elfinan swift vaulted from the floor,
  • And lighted graceful on the window-sill;
  • Under one arm the magic book he bore,
  • The other he could wave about at will;
  • Pale was his face, he still look’d very ill;
  • He bow’d at Bellanaine, and said — “Poor Bell!
  • Farewell! farewell! and if for ever! still
  • For ever fare thee well!” — and then he fell
  • A laughing! — snapp’d his fingers! — shame it is to tell!


  • “By’r Lady! he is gone!” cries Hum, “and I —
  • (I own it) — have made too free with his wine;
  • Old Crafticant will smoke me. By-the-bye!
  • This room is full of jewels as a mine, —
  • Dear valuable creatures, how ye shine!
  • Sometime to-day I must contrive a minute,
  • If Mercury propitiously incline,
  • To examine his scutoire, and see what’s in it,
  • For of superfluous diamonds I as well may thin it.


  • “The Emperor’s horrid bad; yes, that’s my cue!”
  • Some histories say that this was Hum’s last speech;
  • That, being fuddled, he went reeling through
  • The corridor, and scarce upright could reach
  • The stair-head; that being glutted as a leech,
  • And us’d, as we ourselves have just now said,
  • To manage stairs reversely, like a peach
  • Too ripe, he fell, being puzzled in his head
  • With liquor and the staircase: verdict — found stone dead.


  • This as a falsehood Crafticanto treats;
  • And as his style is of strange elegance,
  • Gentle and tender, full of soft conceits,
  • (Much like our Boswell’s,) we will take a glance
  • At his sweet prose, and, if we can, make dance
  • His woven periods into careless rhyme;
  • O, little faery Pegasus! rear — prance —
  • Trot round the quarto — ordinary time!
  • March, little Pegasus, with pawing hoof sublime!


  • Well, let us see, — tenth book and chapter nine, —
  • Thus Crafticant pursues his diary: —
  • “’Twas twelve o’clock at night, the weather fine,
  • Latitude thirty-six; our scouts descry
  • A flight of starlings making rapidly
  • Towards Thibet. Mem.: — birds fly in the night;
  • From twelve to half-past — wings not fit to fly
  • For a thick fog — the Princess sulky quite;
  • Call’d for an extra shawl, and gave her nurse a bite.


  • “Five minutes before one — brought down a moth
  • With my new double-barrel — stew’d the thighs
  • And made a very tolerable broth —
  • Princess turn’d dainty, to our great surprise,
  • Alter’d her mind, and thought it very nice;
  • Seeing her pleasant, try’d her with a pun,
  • She frown’d; a monstrous owl across us flies
  • About this time, — a sad old figure of fun;
  • Bad omen — this new match can’t be a happy one.


  • “From two to half-past, dusky way we made,
  • Above the plains of Gobi, — desert, bleak;
  • Beheld afar off, in the hooded shade
  • Of darkness, a great mountain (strange to speak),
  • Spitting, from forth its sulphur-baken peak,
  • A fan-shap’d burst of blood-red, arrowy fire,
  • Turban’d with smoke, which still away did reek,
  • Solid and black from that eternal pyre,
  • Upon the laden winds that scantly could respire.


  • “Just upon three o’clock a falling star
  • Created an alarm among our troop,
  • Kill’d a man-cook, a page, and broke a jar,
  • A tureen, and three dishes, at one swoop,
  • Then passing by the princess, singed her hoop:
  • Could not conceive what Coralline was at,
  • She clapp’d her hands three times and cry’d out ‘Whoop!’
  • Some strange Imaian custom. A large bat
  • Came sudden ’fore my face, and brush’d against my hat.


  • “Five minutes thirteen seconds after three,
  • Far in the west a mighty fire broke out,
  • Conjectur’d, on the instant, it might be,
  • The city of Balk — ’twas Balk beyond all doubt:
  • A griffin, wheeling here and there about,
  • Kept reconnoitring us — doubled our guard —
  • Lighted our torches, and kept up a shout,
  • Till he sheer’d off — the Princess very scar’d —
  • And many on their marrow-bones for death prepar’d.


  • “At half-past three arose the cheerful moon —
  • Bivouack’d for four minutes on a cloud —
  • Where from the earth we heard a lively tune
  • Of tambourines and pipes, serene and loud,
  • While on a flowery lawn a brilliant crowd
  • Cinque-parted danc’d, some half asleep reposed
  • Beneath the green-fan’d cedars, some did shroud
  • In silken tents, and ’mid light fragrance dozed,
  • Or on the opera turf their soothed eyelids closed.


  • “Dropp’d my gold watch, and kill’d a kettledrum —
  • It went for apoplexy — foolish folks! —
  • Left it to pay the piper — a good sum —
  • (I’ve got a conscience, maugre people’s jokes,)
  • To scrape a little favour; ’gan to coax
  • Her Highness’ pug-dog — got a sharp rebuff —
  • She wish’d a game at whist — made three revokes —
  • Turn’d from myself, her partner, in a huff;
  • His majesty will know her temper time enough.


  • “She cry’d for chess — I play’d a game with her —
  • Castled her king with such a vixen look,
  • It bodes ill to his Majesty — (refer
  • To the second chapter of my fortieth book,
  • And see what hoity-toity airs she took).
  • At half-past four the morn essay’d to beam —
  • Saluted, as we pass’d, an early rook —
  • The Princess fell asleep, and, in her dream,
  • Talk’d of one Master Hubert, deep in her esteem.


  • “About this time, — making delightful way, —
  • Shed a quill-feather from my larboard wing —
  • Wish’d, trusted, hop’d ’twas no sign of decay --
  • Thank heaven, I’m hearty yet! — ’twas no such thing: —
  • At five the golden light began to spring,
  • With fiery shudder through the bloomed east;
  • At six we heard Panthea’s churches ring —
  • The city wall his unhiv’d swarms had cast,
  • To watch our grand approach, and hail us as we pass’d.


  • “As flowers turn their faces to the sun,
  • So on our flight with hungry eyes they gaze,
  • And, as we shap’d our course, this, that way run,
  • With mad-cap pleasure, or hand-clasp’d amaze;
  • Sweet in the air a mild-ton’d music plays,
  • And progresses through its own labyrinth;
  • Buds gather’d from the green spring’s middle-days,
  • They scatter’d, — daisy, primrose, hyacinth, —
  • Or round white columns wreath’d from capital to plinth.


  • “Onward we floated o’er the panting streets,
  • That seem’d throughout with upheld faces paved;
  • Look where we will, our bird’s-eye vision meets
  • Legions of holiday; bright standards waved,
  • And fluttering ensigns emulously craved
  • Our minute’s glance; a busy thunderous roar,
  • From square to square, among the buildings raved,
  • As when the sea, at flow, gluts up once more
  • The craggy hollowness of a wild reefed shore.


  • “And ‘Bellanaine for ever!’ shouted they,
  • While that fair Princess, from her winged chair,
  • Bow’d low with high demeanour, and, to pay
  • Their new-blown loyalty with guerdon fair,
  • Still emptied at meet distance, here and there,
  • A plenty horn of jewels. And here I
  • (Who wish to give the devil her due) declare
  • Against that ugly piece of calumny,
  • Which calls them Highland pebble-stones not worth a fly.


  • “Still ‘Bellanaine!’ they shouted, while we glide
  • ‘Slant to a light Ionic portico,
  • The city’s delicacy, and the pride
  • Of our Imperial Basilic; a row
  • Of lords and ladies, on each hand, make show
  • Submissive of knee-bent obeisance,
  • All down the steps; and, as we enter’d, lo!
  • The strangest sight — the most unlook’d for chance —
  • All things turn’d topsy-turvy in a devil’s dance.


  • “‘Stead of his anxious Majesty and court
  • At the open doors, with wide saluting eyes,
  • Congèes and scrape-graces of every sort,
  • And all the smooth routine of gallantries,
  • Was seen, to our immoderate surprise,
  • A motley crowd thick gather’d in the hall,
  • Lords, scullions, deputy-scullions, with wild cries
  • Stunning the vestibule from wall to wall,
  • Where the Chief Justice on his knees and hands doth crawl.


  • “Counts of the palace, and the state purveyor
  • Of moth’s-down, to make soft the royal beds,
  • The Common Council and my fool Lord Mayor
  • Marching a-row, each other slipshod treads;
  • Powder’d bag-wigs and ruffy-tuffy heads
  • Of cinder wenches meet and soil each other;
  • Toe crush’d with heel ill-natur’d fighting breeds,
  • Frill-rumpling elbows brew up many a bother,
  • And fists in the short ribs keep up the yell and pother.


  • “A Poet, mounted on the Court-Clown’s back,
  • Rode to the Princess swift with spurring heels,
  • And close into her face, with rhyming clack,
  • Began a Prothalamion; — she reels,
  • She falls, she faints! while laughter peels
  • Over her woman’s weakness. ‘Where!’ cry’d I,
  • ‘Where is his Majesty?’ No person feels
  • Inclin’d to answer; wherefore instantly
  • I plung’d into the crowd to find him or die.


  • “Jostling my way I gain’d the stairs, and ran
  • To the first landing, where, incredible!
  • I met, far gone in liquor, that old man,
  • That vile impostor Hum. ——”
  • So far so well, —
  • For we have prov’d the Mago never fell
  • Down stairs on Crafticanto’s evidence;
  • And therefore duly shall proceed to tell,
  • Plain in our own original mood and tense,
  • The sequel of this day, though labour ’tis immense!


  • Now Hum, new fledg’d with high authority,
  • Came forth to quell the hubbub in the hall.

× Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished. Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.26 , University of Victoria, 12 July 2023.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished. Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished. Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.