LAUSANNE IN GIBBON’S OLD GARDEN: 11-12 P.M. June 27, 1897 (The 110th anniversary of the completion of the “Decline and Fall” at the same hour and place)
A spirit seems to pass,
Formal in pose, but grave and grand withal:
He contemplates a volume stout and tall,
And far lamps fleck him through the thin acacias.
Anon the book is closed,
With “It is finished!”
And at the alley’s end
He turns, and soon on me his glances bend;
And, as from earth, comes speech—small, muted, yet composed.
“How fares the Truth now?—Ill?
—Do pens but slily further her advance?
May one not speed her but in phrase askance?
Do scribes aver the Comic to be Reverend still?
“Still rule those minds on earth
At whom sage Milton’s wormwood words were hurled:
‘Truth like a bastard comes into the world
Never without ill-fame to him who gives her birth’?”