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The aged Beggar in the woody lane,
Shouts to him from behind; and, if perchance
The old Man does not change his course, the boy
Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,
And passes gently by-without a curse
Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.
He travels on, a solitary Man,-
His age has no companion. On the ground
His eyes are turned, and, as he moves along,
They move along the ground; and evermore,
Instead of common and habitual sight
Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale
And the blue sky, one little span of earth
Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,
Bowbent, his eyes for ever on the ground,
He plies his weary journey; seeing still,
And never knowing that he sees, some straw,
Some scattered leaf, or marks, which in one track,
The nails of cart or chariot-wheel have left
Impressed on the white road,-in the same line,
At distance still the same. Poor Traveller !
His staff trails with him; scarcely does his feet
Disturb the summer dust; he is so still
In look and motion, that the cottage curs,
Ere he have passed the door, will turn away,
Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls,
The vacant and the busy, maids and youths,
And urchins newly breeched-all pass him by
Him even the slow-paced waggon leaves behind.
But deem not this man useless.-Statesmen! ye
Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye
Who have a broom still ready in your hands
To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,
Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate
Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not
A burthen of the earth! 'Tis Nature's law
That none, the meanest of created things,
Of forms created the most vile and brute,
The dullest or most noxious, should exist
Divorced from good-a spirit and pulse of good,
A life and soul, to every mode of being
Inseparably linked. While thus he creeps
From door to door, the villagers in him
Behold a record which together binds
Past deeds and offices of charity,
Else unremembered, and so keeps alive
The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,
And that half-wisdom half-experience gives,
Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign
To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.
Among the farms and solitary huts,
Hamlets and thinly scattered villages,
Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,
The mild necessity of use compels
To acts of love; and habit does the work
Of reason; yet prepares that after-joy
Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,
By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursued,
Doth find itself insensibly disposed
To virtue and true goodness. Some there are,
By their good works exalted, lofty minds
And meditative, authors of delight
And happiness, which to the end of time
Will live, and spread, and kindle; minds like these,
In childhood, from this solitary Being,
This helpless Wanderer, have perchance received (A thing more precious far than all that books Or the solicitudes of love can do !)
That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,
In which they found their kindred with a world
Where want and sorrow were. The easy Man
Who sits at his own door,-and, like the pear
Which overhangs his head from the green wall,
Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young,
The prosperous and unthinking, they who live
Sheltered, and flourish in a little grove
Of their own kindred ;-all behold in him
A silent monitor, which on their minds
Must needs impress a transitory thought
Of self-congratulation, to the heart
Of each recalling his peculiar boons,
His charters and exemptions; and, perchance,
Though he to no one give the fortitude
And circumspection needful to preserve
His present blessings, and to husband up
The respite of the season, he, at least,
And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt..
Yet further.-Many, I believe, there are
Who live a life of virtuous decency,
Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel
No self-reproach; who of the moral law
Established in the land where they abide
Are strict observers; and not negligent,
Meanwhile, in any tenderness of heart
Or act of love to those with whom they dwell,
Their kindred, and the children of their blood.
Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!
But of the poor Man ask, the abject poor,
Go, and demand of him, if there be here
In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,
And these inevitable charities,
Wherewith to satisfy the human soul?
No-Man is dear to Man; the poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been,
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers-out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness, for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart.
Such pleasure is to one kind Being known,
My Neighbour, when with punctual care, each week
Duly as Friday comes, though prest herself
By her own wants, she from her chest of meal
Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip
Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door
Returning with exhilirated heart,
Sits by her fire and builds her hope in Heaven.
Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And while in that vast solitude to which
The tide of things has led him, he appears
To breathe and live but for himself alone,
Unblamed, uninjured, let him bear about
The good which the benignant law of Heaven
Has hung around him: and, while life is his,
Still let him prompt the unlettered villagers
To tender offices and pensive thoughts.
-Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!
And long as he can wander, let him breathe
The freshness of the valleys; let his blood
Struggle with frosty air and winter snows;
And let the chartered wind that sweeps the heath
Beat his grey locks against his withered face.
Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness
Gives the last human interest to his heart.
May never HOUSE, misnamed of INDUSTRY,
Make him a captive! for that pent-up din,
Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air:
Be his the natural silence of old age!
Let him be free of mountain solitudes;
And have around him, whether heard or not,
The pleasant melody of woodland birds.
Few are his pleasures: if his eyes have now
Been doomed so long to settle on the earth
That not without some effort they behold
The countenance of the horizontal sun,
Rising or setting, let the light at least
Find a free entrance to these languid orbs.
And let him where and when he will, sit down
Beneath the trees, or by the grassy bank
Of high-way side, and with the little birds
Share his chance-gathered meal; and, finally,
As in the eye of Nature he has lived,
So in the eye of Nature let him die!
A GOOD old man, is the best antiquity, and which we may with least vanity admire. One whom time hath been thus long working, and like winter fruit, ripened, when others are shaken down. He hath taken out as many lessons of the world as days, and learnt the best thing in it-the vanity of it. He looks over his former life as a danger well past, and would not hazard himself to begin again. His last was long broken before his body, and yet he is glad this temptation is broke too, and that he is fortified from it by his weakness. The next door of death sads him not, but he expects it calmly as his turn of nature, and fears more his recoiling back to childishness than dust. All men look on him as a common father, and on old age, for his sake, as a reverend thing. His very presence and face puts vice out of countenance, and makes it an indecorum in a vicious man. He practises his experience upon youth without the harshness of reproof, and in his counsel is good company. He has some old stories still, of his own seeing, to confirm what he says, and makes them better in the telling; yet is not troublesome neither with the same tale again, but remembers with them how oft he has told them. His old sayings and morals seem proper to his beard, and the poetry of Cato does well out of his mouth, and he speaks it as if he were the author. He is not apt to put the boy on a younger man, nor the fool on a boy, but can distinguish gravity from a sour look, and the less testy he is, the more regarded. You must pardon him if he like his own times better than these, because those things are follies to him now, that were wisdom then; yet he makes us of that opinion too when we see him, and conjecture those times by so good a relick. He is a man capable of a dearness with the youngest men, yet he is not youthfuller for them, but they older for him, and no man credits more his acquaintance. He goes away at last too soon whensoever, with all men's sorrow but his own, and his memory is fresh, when it is twice as old.
Translated from the French.
THE following extraordinary story, which appeared at Paris about three years ago, affirmed to be the production of the late Emperor of France. To prove that it is so, may now be impossible; but were we allowed to judge from internal evidence, we would at once pronounce it to be genuine. It has been remarked, that it is replete with that species of superstition by which Napoleon was deeply infected; that in its progress it is wrought up with considerable power over the feelings; and that its termination is of that abrupt and inartificial kind which might be expected from an Improvisator whose sole object was to agitate his auditors, and that accomplished, came at once to his conclusion without ceremony or regard to consistency. A novel-writer would in all probability have taken especial care to render the catastrophe more decidedly dependent upon the fates, than, as in this instance it is on the mere will of the principal actor. A short introduction precedes Rosario, from which the following are extracts :—
"Buonaparté, during the first year that he was Emperor, was accustomed to pass his evenings in the society of Josephine and her ladies of honour; here he amused himself by relating different stories, the immediate product of his own imagination; and was never so pleased as when he could alarm or agitate those around him by his recital. The expression of his countenance was most striking, and every passion was so faithfully depicted on it, that he who had once heard him could never forget it. The present tale was one of his favourite productions. Madame de Bemuzi, who heard him relate it, committed it to paper the same evening, preserving as nearly as possible the same sentiments and the same expressions.
"It will be difficult, perhaps, to make the world believe, that he at whose name surrounding nations trembled, and of whose time ambition claimed the greatest portion, should dedicate any part of it to the occupation of a novelist ;-the only answer that can be given to the sceptic is, that many are still living who could fully attest the fact."
Be this true or fabulous, the tale is one which it may be believed a person of Napoleon's cast of mind would tell upon an occasion such as is here alluded to.-ED.
"At the period to which this tale relates, little else was spoken of