Sir Walter Scott at the Tomb of the Stuarts in St Peter’s.*

Eve’s tinted shadows slowly fill the fane1
Where Art has taken almost Nature’s room,2
While still two objects clear in light remain,3
An alien pilgrim at an alien tomb.4
A sculptured tomb of regal heads discrown’d,5
Of one heart-worshipp’d, fancy-haunted name,6
Once loud on earth, but now scarce else renown’d7
Than as the offspring of that stranger’s fame.8
There lie the Stuarts !— There is Walter Scott !9
Strange congress of illustrious thoughts and things !10
A plain old moral, still too oft forgot11
The power of genius and the fall of kings.12
The curse on lawless Will high planted there,13
A beacon to the world, shines not for him ;14
He is with those who felt their life was sere,15
When the large love of loyalty grew dim.16
He rests his chin upon a sturdy staff,17
Historic as that sceptre, theirs no more ;18
His gaze is fix’d ; his thirsty heart can quaff19
For a short hour, the spirit-draughts of yore.20
Each figure in its pictured place is seen,21
Each fancied shape his actual vision fills,22
From the long-pining, death-deliver’d Queen,23
To the worn outlaw of the heathery hills.24
O grace of life, which shame could never mar !25
O dignity, that circumstance defied !26
Pure is the neck that wears the deathly scar,27
And sorrow has baptised the front of pride.28
But purpled mantle, and blood-crimson’d shroud,29
Exiles to suffer and returns to woo,30
Are gone, like dreams by daylight disallow’d ;31
And their historian—he is sinking too !32
A few more moments, and that labouring brow33
Cold as those royal busts and calm will lie ;34
And, as on them his thoughts are resting now,35
His marbled form shall meet the attentive eye.36

* When Sir Walter Scott was at Rome, the year of his death, the history and localities
of the Stuarts seemed to absorb all other objects of his interest. The circumstance of this
poem fell within the observation of the writer.
Thus face to face the dying and the dead,37
Bound in their solemn ever-living bond,38
Communed ; and I was sad that ancient head39
Ever should pass those holy walls beyond.40