Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Jan Van Hunks (New York Public Library)
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of Composition: 1881-1882
Type of Manuscript: corrected copy
Scribe: DGR

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

page: [unpaginated]
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may be regarded as the last specimen of his handwriting, of any consecutive length—The Dutchman's Pipe remains as yet unpublished.
WMR 1905
Image of page [unpaginated] page: [unpaginated]
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
Added Text
  • Then loud:—Thou minds't when
  • I bade thee hence—
  • Tho Poor fool go hence again!”
  • Image of page [1r] page: [1r]
    Note: DGR began the text on this recto with received stanza 19.
    • The chamber 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:—
    • O My father pity & hear lend your ear
    • 'Twas goodly wealth store of gold you would
    • 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 ?
    • Why As pride whose plume is torn
    • in the wind
    • And joy 's befould with rash flight to pain ?
    Image of page [1v] page: [1v]
    • There turned a foot in the came a moan to the
    • crumbling snow
      Added Textlighted room
    • 20 A face moan to the frosty sky,—
    • O father we all my loves are dying now
    • And yet 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
    • leaped the his
    • smoke
    • Still twisting higher and
    • And still at its heart the through its th veil th
    • his watchful eye
    • 30 Burned with a fell desire.
    Image of page [2r] page: [2r]
    • 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
    • gold
    • 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
    • grave
    • 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.
    • Van Hunks laughed up at looked after the scudding
    • smoke
    • Ay, go what way you will
    • Of folly & pride in life or death,
    • Let a woman take her fill
    • And why should
      Added TextMad girl, even take the choose this road you list or that
    • So we be asunder still.
    Image of page [3r] page: [3r]
    • Gossip well said, the old man
    • shrieked cried
    • 50 And mark how the words come true,
    • The smoke soared swiftly above around his
    • head
    • In snakes of curling swirling knotted blue
    • And ever at heart of the inmost
    • coil
    • Two fiery eyes shone shot through
    • Above the hearth was a carven frame
    • Where 7 small mirrors shone
    • There 6 bright moon-shapes circled
    • round
    • 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 a one squalid chamber showed
    • The dull graves counterpart
    • For there 2 starving parents lay
    • With their starved babes heart
    • to heart.
    Image of page [4r] page: [4r]
    • 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 past
    • through the air the sky
    • And sank, and that was all.
    • And there then the smoker beheld once more
    • 7 times his own hard face
    • Half dazed it seemed with the sudden
    • sights,
    • But showed no sign of grace
    • And 7 times flashed those burning
    • fiery eyes
    • In the mirror's narrow space.
    • The hours wore on & still they
    • sat
    • 80 In 'Mid the vapours stifling cloud
    • The one sank towards sudden stupor
    • sank
    • And the other laughed now scoffed aloud
    • Alas for the shrinking blinking
    • owl,
    • With the vulture over him
    • bowed
    Image of page [5r] page: [5r]
    • 'Twas the 2 nd night of the wager now
    • And the midnight hour was near
    • That glance was like a kindled cresset turned blazed
    • 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 there still curled
    • A feeble fitful flickering smoke,
    • As the last quarter half-hour ere full midnight
    • From the distant 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.
    Image of page [6r] page: [6r]
    • 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 show glow
    • 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.
    Image of page [6v] page: [6v]
    • 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 & yelled shrieked at once,
    • 130 And 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 closed fell over his sense
    • And when at length he woke
    • Two pipes lay broken shattered upon the floor,
    • The room was ful of smoke.
    Image of page [7r] page: [7r]
    • 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 What tongue thought the flight shall trace ?
    • The Fiend has 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
    Image of page [8r] page: [8r]
    • 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.
    Image of page [9r] page: [9r]
    • 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
    • With that its teeth chattering din
    • To fancy the many who froze without
    • 180 While he sat thawing within.
    Image of page [10r] page: [10r]
    • His bowl restuffed again he puffed
    • No noise the stillness broke
    • Save the tread of feet here & there in the street
    • And the churchbell's 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
    Image of page [11r] page: [11r]
    • Ah would that I could find but one
    • Who knew m y 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
    • 200 And lingered 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
    Image of page [12r] page: [12r]
    • Small to scan was the little old man
    • Passing small & lean
    • But Yet a something lurked about him
    • Felt strongly but though unseen
    • Which made him you fear the hidden soul
    • 210 Whose covering was so lean mean
    • With cap in hand the old man stranger bowed
    • Till the feather swept his shoe
    • “A noble wish was yours he said,
    • “And I come to humour pleasure you;
    • We're goodly gossips, you & I
    • Let us wager & fall to.
    Image of page [13r] page: [13r]
    • 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
    • Must Shall yield the victory,
    • At the victor's hand hest must needs accept
    • His hospitality.
    Image of page [14r] page: [14r]
    Note: There are transpositions signalled in lines 235/85 and 237/87.
    • Done, done the Dutchman cried,—for your cri[?] home
    • 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' merry welcome cheer.
    • 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.
    • Twas then 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
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    Note: Line 253/103 is uncompleted.
    • Gossip The stranger said I've 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/ What thunder 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?
    Electronic Archive Edition: 1
    Source File: 3-1846.nyplms.rad.xml
    Copyright: By permission of the New York Public Library