Note: WMR's cover note on the endpaper of the small book.
The principal content of this book is Gabriel's poem of The Dutchman's Pipe (or
Jan Van Hunks), begun towards 1847, & then nearly completed: he took it
up in the last few weeks of his life, finished it, & presented the
complete MS. to Theodore Watts-Dunton—The MS. in this book is of his closing
weeks—There is also the draft of a letter (possibly the very last that he wrote)
to Ernest Chesneau—& of another letter to some Picture-buyer, I know not
whom.— Thus the book may be regarded as the last specimen of his handwriting, of
any consecutive length—The Dutchman's Pipe remains as yet unpublished.
Manuscript Addition: W. M. Rossetti / from Gabriel's Books / 1889
Editorial Description: WMR's cover note at the top of the manuscript
Note: Lines 17/125-18/126 are transcribed at the foot of this page as a
continuation of the transcription on the facing page
Then loud:—Thou minds't when
I bade thee hence—
Tho Poor fool go hence again!”
Note: DGR began the text on this recto with received stanza 19.
Chamber window stood to the street,
- With shutters strongly barred—
There came A timid knock
was heard without
- And another afterward
- But both so low & faint & weak
- That the casement never jarred.
- And weak the voice that came
- with the knock:—
pity & hear
lend your ear
store of gold
- that you bade
have me wed
10 But the wife I chose was dear
- And she & my babes crave
- only bread
- O father pity & hear.
- Van Hunks looked after the
- feathered smoke
- What thing so slight & vain ?
As pride whose plume is torn
- in the wind
- And joy
rash flight to pain ?
turned a foot in the
came a moan to the
Added Textlighted room
moan to the frosty sky,—
- O father
my loves are dying now
Father you too must die.
- O on your soul, by God's good grace,
- Let not this dread hour lie.
- Gossip well done, quoth the little
- old man
- And in a silvery spire
- Like a spiders web up
- Still twisting higher and
- And still
at its heart the
- his watchful eye
30 Burned with a fell desire.
- A woman's voice came next
- to the wall—
- Father my mother died.
- 'Twas 3 months since that you
- drove her forth
- At bitter Xmas tide.
- How could I care for your proffered
- And quit my mother's side?
- For 2 months now I have begged
- my bread
- Father I can no more.
- My mother's blind & deaf in her
40 But her soul is at Heaven's door
- And though we're parted on this
- side death
- We may meet on the further shore.
- Gossip well said, the old man
50 And mark how the words come true,
- The smoke soared swiftly
- In snakes of
- And ever at heart of the inmost
- Two fiery eyes
- Above the hearth was a carven frame
- Where 7 small mirrors shone
- There 6 bright moon-shapes circled
- A centre rayed like a sun
- And ever the reflex image dwelt
60 Alike in every one.
- No smokers faces appeared therein
- But there by magic art,
- Seven times
one squalid chamber showed
- The dull graves counterpart
- For there 2 starving parents lay
- With their starved babes heart
- to heart.
- Then changed the scene. In the
- watered street
- 'Twixt houses dark & tall
- Like shaggy dogs did the pollards shake
70 Above the dark canal
- And a girl's thin form gleamed
- through the
- And sank, and that was all.
then the smoker beheld once more
- 7 times his own hard face
- Half dazed it seemed with the sudden
- But showed no sign of grace
- And 7 times flashed those
- In the mirror's narrow space.
- The hours wore on & still they
'Mid the vapours stifling cloud
sank towards sudden
- And the other
- Alas for the shrinking blinking
- With the vulture over him
- 'Twas the 2
nd night of the wager now
- And the midnight hour was near
- That glance
like a kindled cresset
- Ho! gossip of mine, what cheer
- But the smoke from the Dutchman's pipe arose
90 No longer swift & clear
- The door-bell rang—Peace to this house
- 'Twas the pastor's voice that spoke.
- Above Van Hunks's pipe
fitful flickering smoke,
- As the last
half-hour ere full midnight
- From the
booming clock-tower broke.
- The old man doffed his bonnet & cringed
- As he oped the chamber door
- The priest cast never a glance his way
100 But crossed the polished floor
- To where the Dutchman's head on his breast
- Lolled with a torpid snore.
- Mynheer your servant sought me out
- He says that day & night
- You have sat—He shook the smoker's arm
- But shrank in sudden fright
- The arm dropped down like a weight of lead
- The face was dull & white.
- And now the old man stood astride
110 And taller he seemed to grow
- The pipe
still sat firm in his sneering lips
- And with victorious
- Like dancing figures around its bowl
- Did the smoke-wreaths
race & glow
come & go
- Nay nay he said our gossip sits
- To contemplation bent;
- On son & daughter afar, his mind
- Is doubtless all intent
- Haply his silence breathes a prayer
120 Ere the midnight hour be spent.
- And who art thou? the pastor cried
- With a quaking countenance.
- A smoke-dried crony of our good friend
- Here rapt in pious trance.
- And his chuckle shook the vaporous sprites
- To a madder merrier dance.
- Hence mocking fiend, for I know thee now
- The pastor signed the cross.
- Then the old man laughed &
shrieked at once,
As over turret & fosse
- The midnight hour in the sleeping town
- From bell to bell did toss.
- Too late Sir Priest!” In the pastor's ear
- So rang the scornful croak.
- With that, a swoon
fell over his sense
- And when at length he woke
- Two pipes lay
shattered upon the floor,
- The room was ful of smoke.
- That hour a direful Master sped
140 Home to his fiery place
- A shrieking wretch hung over his back
- As he sank through nether space.
- Of such a rider on such a steed
How speak the dreadful case
thought the flight shall trace
bearer shook his burden off
- In the horrid retinue
- He's flung him into a knot of fiends
- Red yellow green & blue
- “I've brought a pipe for my private use
150 Go trim it, some of you.
- They've sliced the very crown from his head
- Worse tonsure than a monk's
- Lopped arms & legs, stuck a red-hot tube
- In his wretchedest of trunks
- And when the Devil wants his pipe
- They bring him Jan Van Hunks
- Full of smoke was the queer old room
- And of pleasant winter-heat
- Whence you might here the hall door slap
160 And the wary shuffling of feet
- Which from the carpeted floor stept out
- Into the ice-paved street..
- Van Hunks was laughing in his paunch:
- Twelve silver pieces fair
- Lay in his hand. With neighbour Spratz
- He had smoked for a wager there
- He laughed & from his neighbour's pipe
- He looked to his neighbour's chair.
- Even as he looked the evening shades
170 Rose stealthily & spread,
- Till the smoky clouds walled up the sun
- And hid his shiny old head,
- As though he too had his evening pipe
- Before he tumbled to bed
- Van Hunks still chuckled as he sat
- It caused him an inward grin
- When he heard the blast shake shutter & blind
its teeth chattering din
- To fancy the many who froze without
180 While he sat thawing within.
- His bowl restuffed again he puffed
- No noise the stillness broke
- Save the tread of feet here & there in the street
- And the
house clock's hourly stroke
- While silver white through the evening shade
- Up leaped the flying smoke
- For thirty years the Dutchman said
- I have smoked both night [and] day;
- I've laid great wagers on my pipe
190 But never had once to pay
- For my vapouring foes long ere the close
- Have all sneaked sickly away
- Ah would that I could find but one
- Who knew m
e not too well
- To try his chance against me
- After the evening bell
- Even though he came to challenge me
- From the smoking-crib of Hell.
- His breath still lingered on the air
mingled with the smoke,—
- When he was aware of a little old man
- In broidered hosen & tocque
- Who looked as through from a century's sleep
- That instant he had woke
- Small to scan was the little old man
- Passing small & lean
Yet a something lurked about him
- Felt strongly
- Which made
you fear the hidden soul
210 Whose covering was so
- With cap in hand the
- Till the feather swept his shoe
- “A noble wish was yours he said,
- “And I come to
- We're goodly gossips, you & I
- Let us wager & fall to.
- The Dutchman stared. How here you came
- Is nothing to me he said;
- “A stranger I sought to smoke withal
220 And my words have well been weighed.
- But tell me, what shall the wager be,
By our high hopes/two selves
Between our pipes essayed?
- “Nay now the old man said what need
- Have we for a golden stake?
- What more do we ask but honour's spur
- To keep our hopes awake?
- And yet some bond 'twixt our goodwills
- Must stand for the wager's sake.
- This be our bond. 2 Midnights hence
230 The term of our strife shall be
- And whichsoe'er to the other then
Shall yield the victory,
- At the victor's
hest must needs accept
- His hospitality.
Note: There are transpositions signalled in lines 235/85 and 237/87.
- Done, done the Dutchman cried,—for your
- I know it not, far or near
- But in my good pipe I set my trust
- And tis you shall sojourn here
- Here many a time we'll meet again
240 For the smokers'
- With that they lit their pipes & smoked
- And never a word they said.
- The dark cloud gathered above them there
- High over each smoke crowned head
- As if by the veil of some secret thing
- They sat encompassèd.
But now a great blast shook the house
- And the Dutchman paused & spoke:
- “If aught this night could be devised
250 To sweeten our cosy smoke,
- Twere the thought of the outcast loons who freeze
- Neath the winter's bitter yoke
Note: Line 253/103 is uncompleted.
Gossip The stranger said
I most have watched
- The dire extremes of heat
- And like yourself I have seen men shrink
- And found their sufferings sweet.
- Brave gossips, you & I! But hark
- What sound comes from the street?
Hard thunder came there it had/
dwelt there that had
260 On his brow that lowering trace,—
- What lightning that could kindle so
- The fitful glare on his face
- Though the sneering smile coursed over his lips,
- And the laughter rose apace?