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As some grave gentleman in Terence says, ('Twas therefore much the same in ancient days) Good lack, we know not what to-morrow bringsStrange fluctuations of all human things! True. Changes will befal, and friends may part, But distance only cannot change the heart: And, were I call'd to prove th' assertion true, One proof should serve- -a reference to you.
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduc'd to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No; gold they seem'd, but they were never such. Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour-door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and over-aw'd
Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. "Go, fellow!-whither?"-turning short about"Nay. Stay at home-you're always going out." ""Tis but a step, Sir, just at the street's end." "For what?"—"An' please you, Sir, to see a friend." "A friend!" Horatio cried, and seem'd to start"Yea marry shalt thou, and with all my heart.And fetch my cloak; for, though the night be raw, I'll see him too-the first I ever saw !"
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild, And was his plaything often when a child; But somewhat at that moment pinch'd him close, Else he was seldom bitter or morose.
Perhaps his confidence just then betray'd,
His grief might prompt him with the speech he made; Perhaps 'twas mere good-humour gave it birth, The harmless play of pleasantry and mirth :
Howe'er it was, his language, in my mind,
Bespoke at least a man that knew mankind.
But not to moralize too much, and strain
To prove an evil of which all complain,
(I hate long arguments verbosely spun)
One story more, dear Hill, and I have done.
Once on a time an emperor, a wise man,
No matter where, in China or Japan,
Decreed, that whosoever should offend
Against the well-known duties of a friend,
Convicted once should ever after wear
But half a coat, and show his bosom bare.
The punishment importing this, no doubt,
That all was naught within, and all found out.
O happy Britain! we have not to fear
Such hard and arbitrary measures here;
Else, could a law, like that which I relate,
Once have the sanction of our triple state,
Some few, that I have known in days of old,
Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold;
While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow,
Might traverse England safely to and fro,
An honest man close-button'd to the chin,
Broad-cloth without and a warm heart within.
THE hour arrives, the moment wish'd and fear'd!
The child is born by many a pang endear'd;
And now the mother's ear has caught his cry,
Oh grant the cherub to her asking eye
He comes she clasps him. To her bosom press'd, He drinks the balm of life, and drops to rest.
Her by her smile how soon the stranger knows; How soon by his the glad discovery shows! As to her lips she lifts the lovely boy,
What answering looks of sympathy and joy!
He walks, he speaks, in many a broken word
His wants, his wishes, and his griefs are heard,
And ever, ever, to her lap he flies,
When rosy sleep comes on with sweet surprise.
Lock'd in her arms, his arms across her flung,
(That name most dear for ever on his tongue)
As with soft accents round her neck he clings,
And cheek to cheek her lulling songs she sings,
How blest to feel the beatings of his heart,
Breathe his sweet breath, and kiss for kiss impart !
Watch o'er his slumbers like the brooding dove,
And, if she can, exhaust a mother's love!
But soon a nobler task demands her care.
Apart she joins his little hands in prayer
Telling of Him who sees in secret there!
And now the volume on her knee has caught
His wandering eye-now many a written thought
Never to die, with many a lisping sweet
His moving, murmuring lips endeavour to repeat.
Releas'd, he chases the bright butterfly;
Oh he would follow-follow through the sky!
Climbs the gaunt mastiff slumbering in his chain,
And chides and buffets, clinging by the mane :
Then runs, and kneeling by the fountain side,
Sends his brave ship in triumph down the tide,
A dangerous voyage; or, if now he can,
If now he wears the habit of a man,
Flings off the coat, so long his pride and pleasure,
And, like a miser digging for his treasure,
His tiny spade in his own garden plies,
And in green letters sees his name arise!
Where'er he goes, for ever in her sight,
She looks, and looks, and still with new delight.
Ah who, when fading of itself away,
Would cloud the sunshine of his little day!
Now is the May of life. Careering round,
Joy wings his feet, joy lifts him from the ground!
Pointing to such, well might Cornelia
When the rich casket shone in bright array,
"These are my jewels!" Well of such as he,
When Jesus spake, well might his language be,
"Suffer these little ones to come to me!"
THE WILD BOY.
He sat upon the wave-wash'd shore,
With madness in his eye;
The surge's dash-the breaker's roar,
Pass'd unregarded by;
He noted not the billows' roll,
He heeded not their strife
For terror had usurp'd his soul,
And stopp'd the streams of life.
They spoke him kindly-but he gaz'd,
And offer'd no reply-
They gave him food-he look'd amaz'd,
And threw the morsel by.
He was as one o'er whom a spell
Of darkness hath been cast!
His spirit seem'd to dwell alone
With dangers that were past.
The city of his home and heart,
So grand-so gaily bright,
Now, touch'd by fate's unerring dart,
Had vanish'd from his sight.
The earthquake's paralysing shake
Had rent it from its hold-
And nothing but a putrid lake
Its tale of terror told.
His kindred there, a numerous band,
Had watch'd his youthful bloom—
In the broad ruin of the land,
All-all had met their doom!
But the last night, a mother's voice
Breath'd over him in prayer-
She perish'd-he was left no choice
But mute and blank despair,
He sat alone, of all the crowd
That lately throng'd around-
The ocean winds were piping loud,
He did not heed their sound;
They ask'd him of that city's fate,
But reason's reign was o'er-
He pointed to her ruin'd state,
Then fled-and spoke no more.
TRIUMPHAL arch, that fill'st the sky
When storms prepare to part,
I ask not proud philosophy
To teach me what thou art: