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GEORGE CRABBE: 1754-1832.

Crabbe, characterised by Byron as ‘Nature's sternest painter, yet the best,'

was in early life a surgeon and apothecary at Aldborough, in Suffolk, but afterwards took clerical orders, and spent the greater part of his life in performing the duties of a country rector. His principal poems are The Village, The Parish Register, The Borough, Tales in Verse, and Tales of the Hall.

ISAAC ASHFORD, A NOBLE PEASANT.

From The Parish Register.

Next to these ladies, but in nought allied,
A noble peasant, Isaac Ashford, died.
Noble he was, contemning all things mean,
His truth unquestioned and his soul serene:
Of no man's presence Isaac felt afraid ;
At no man's question Isaac looked dismayed :
Shame knew him not, he dreaded no disgrace;
Truth, simple truth, was written in his face ;
Yet while the serious thought his soul approved,
Cheerful he seemed, and gentleness he loved ;
To bliss domestic he his heart resigned,
And with the firmest, had the fondest mind :
Were others joyful, he looked smiling on,
And gave allowance where he needed none;
Good he refused with future ill to buy,
Nor knew a joy that caused reflection's sigh ;
A friend to virtue, his unclouded breast
No envy stung, no jealousy distressed-
Bane of the poor! it wounds their weaker mind
To miss one favour which their neighbours find —
Yet far was he from stoic pride removed ;
He felt humanely, and he warmly loved :
I marked his action when his infant died,
And his old neighbour for offence was tried ;
The still tears, stealing down that furrowed cheek,
Spoke pity plainer than the tongue can speak.

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If pride were his, 'twas not their vulgar pride,
Who, in their base contempt, the great deride ;
Nor pride in learning, though my clerk agreed,
If fate should call him, Ashford might succeed ;
Nor pride in rustic skill, although we knew
None his superior, and his equals few :
But if that spirit in his soul had place,
It was the jealous pride that shuns disgrace;
A pride in honest fame, by virtue gained,
In sturdy boys to virtuous labours trained ;
Pride in the power that guards his country's coast,
And all that Englishmen enjoy and boast;
Pride in a life that slander's tongue defied,
In fact, a noble passion, misnamed pride.

In times severe, when many a sturdy swain
Felt it his pride, his comfort to complain,
Isaac their wants would soothe, his own would hide,
And feel in that his comfort and his pride.

At length he found, when seventy years were run,
His strength departed, and his labour done ;
When, save his honest fame, he kept no more,
But lost his wife and saw his children poor ;
'Twas then a spark of—say not discontent-
Struck on his mind, and thus he gave it vent.

And so resigned he grew ;
Daily he placed the workhouse in his view!
But came not there, for sudden was his fate,
He dropt expiring at his cottage-gate.
I feel his absence in the hours of

prayer,
And view his seat, and sigh for Isaac there ;
I see no more those white locks thinly spread
Round the bald polish of that honoured head ;
No more that awful glance on playful wight
Compelled to kneel and tremble at the sight;
To fold his fingers all in dread the while,
Till Mister Ashford softened to a smile;
No more that meek and suppliant look in prayer,
Nor the pure faith-to give it force-are there :
But he is blest, and I lament no more,
A wise good man contented to be poor.

ROBERT BURNS: 1759-1796.

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Robert Burns, the great lyric poet of Scotland, was the son of a small farmer

in Ayrshire. In company with his brother, in 1781, he took a farm, which proved far from a prosperous undertaking. He then resolved to emigrate; and to assist in procuring the means of paying his passage, he published in 1786 a collection of poems, which he had begun to compose in his sixteenth year.

The volume attracted attention, and his reputation soon spread; and the profits resulting from its sale enabled him to take a farm near Dumfries, where he settled in 1788. At this time he received an appointment in the Excise; but its duties interfering with the management of his farm, he gave up farming in 1791, and removed to Dumfries, where he lived dependent on his salary from the Excise, till his death in 1796. The principal poems of Burns are Halloween, The Cotter's Saturday Night, The Jolly Beggars, The Twa Dogs, Tam o'shanter, and a collection of songs unequalled in our literature.

TO A MOUSE,

ON TURNING UP HER NEST WITH THE PLOUGH, NOVEMBER 1785.

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie,
Oh what a panic's in thy breastie !
Thou need na start awa' sae hasty,

Wi' bickering brattle !
I wad be laith to rin and chase thee,

Wi? murdoring pattle !!

hasty clatter

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken nature's social union,
And justifies that ill opinion,

Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,

And fellow-mortal!

sometimes

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve ;
What then, poor beastie, thou maun live!

? The stick used for clearing away the clods from the plough.

A daimen icker in a thrave 1

'S a sma request : I'll get a blessin' wi' the laive,

And never miss 't!

rest

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin'!
And naething now to big a new ane

O’ foggage green,
And bleak December's winds ensuin',

Baith snell and keen!

build

sharp

Thou saw the fields laid bare and waste,
And weary winter comin' fast,
And cozie here, beneath the blast,

comfortable Thou thought to dwell, Till, crash! the cruel coulter passed

Out through thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves and stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble !
Now thou's turned out for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,

without, hold To thole the winter's sleety dribble,

endure And cranreuch cauld !

hoar-frost

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain :
The best-laid schemes o' mice and men,
Gang aft a-gley,

go often wrong And lea’e us nought but grief and pain,

For promised joy.

Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee :
But, och ! I backward cast my e'e,

On prospects drear !
And forward, though I canna see,

I guess and fear.

1 An occasional ear of corn in a thrave—that is, twenty-four sheaves.

THE COTTER'S SATURDAY NIGHT.

November chill blaws loud wi' angry sugh ;

noise The shortening winter-day is near a close ; The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh ;

from The blackening trains o' craws to their repose : The toil-worn cotter frae his labour goes,

This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,

Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view,

Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th' expectant wee things, toddlin', stacher thro'

stagger To meet their dad, wi' flichterin' noise and glee. Auttering His wee bit ingle, blinking bonnily,

firc His clean hearthstane, his thriftie wifie's smile, The lisping infant prattling on his knee,

Does a' his weary kiaugh and care beguile, anxiety And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil. Belyve the elder bairns come drapping in,

by and by At service out, amang the farmers roun’;

drive Some ca' the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin {

diligently A cannie errand to a neibor town:

easy Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman grown,

In youthfu' bloom, love sparkling in her e'e, Comes hame, perhaps, to shew a braw new gown, handsome Or deposit her sair-won penny-fee,

hard-won wages To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be. With joy unfeigned, brothers and sisters meet,

An each for other's weelfare kindly spiers; inquires The social hours, swift-winged, unnoticed fleet;

Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears ; The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years ;

Anticipation forward points the view. The mother, wi' her needlé an' her shears,

Gars auld claes look amaist as weel's the new; makes The father mixes a' wi' admonition due. ...

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