Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

I caught the animal last night,
And view'd it o'er by candle light :
I mark'd it well—'twas black as jet
You stare—but, Sirs, I've got yet,
And can produce it.”—“ Pray sir, do;
I'll lay my life the thing is blue.''
" And I'll be sworn, that when you've seen
The reptile, you'll pronounce it green."
“Well then, at once to end the doubt;"
Replies the man,

" I'll turn him out;
And when before your eyes I've set him,
If you don't find him black, I'll eat him."
He said then full before their sight
Produc'd the beast- and lo!-'twas white.

II.-On the Order of Nature.
SEE, through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
All matter quick, and bursting into birth.
Above, how high, progressive life may go!
Around, how wide! How deep extend below!
Vast chain of being ! which from God began :
Nature's ethereal, human; angel, man ;
Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see,
No glass can reach ; from infinite to thee,
From thee to nothing. On superior pow'rs
Were we to press, inferior might on ours ;
Or in the full creation leave a void,
Where, one step broken, the great scale's destroy'd ;
From nature's chain whatever link you strike,
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

What if the foot, ordain'd the dust to tread,
Or hand to toil, aspir’d to be the head ?
What if the head, the eye, or ear repin'd
To serve mere engines to the ruling mind ?
Inat as absurd for any part to claim

e another, in this general frame;

as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains,
The great directing Mind of Ali, ordains.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul :
That, chang'd through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent ;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full, as perfect in vile man that mourns,
As the rapt seraph that adores and burns :
To him no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.

Cease, then, nor ORDER, imperfection namo:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit. In this or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear :
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All Nature is but Art unknown to thee;
All Chance, Direction which thou canst not see ;
All Discord, Harmony not understood ;
All partial Evil, universal Good:
And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,
One truth is clear,“ WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT."

III.Description of a Country Alehouse.
NEAR yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the sign-post caught the passing eye;
Low lies that house, where nutbrown draughts inspir'd;
Where graybeard mirth, and smiling toil, retir'd :
Where village statesmen talk'd with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops, to trace
The parlour splendors of that festive place ;
The white-wash'd wall; the nicely sanded floor ;
The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door;
The chest, contriv'd a double debt to pay,
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures plac'd for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules the royal game of goose:
The hearth, except when winter chill'd the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel, gay ;
While broken tea-cups, wisely kept for show,
Rang'd o’er the chimney, glisten’d in a row.

Vain transitory splendors! could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!
Qbscure it sinks; nor shall it more impart
An hour's importance to the poor man's heart.
Thither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care.
No more the farmer's news, the barber's tale,
No more the woodman's ballad shall prevail;
wo more the smith his dusky brow shall clear,
Relax his pond'rous strength and lean to hear.
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid half willing to be press’d,
Shall kiss the cup, to pass it to the rest.

IV.--Character of a Country Schoolmaster.
BESIDE yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossom'd furze, unprofitably gay,

There, in his noisy mansion skill'd to rule,
The village master taught his litile School.
A man severe he was, and stern to view :
I knew him well, and every truant knew.
Well had the boding tremblers learn'd to trace
The day's disasters in his morning face :
Full well they laugh'd, with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes for many a joke had he :
Full well the busy whisper circling round,
Convey'd the dismal tidings when he frown'd.
Yet he was kind ; or if severe in aught,
The love he bure to learning was in fault.
The village all declar'd how much he knew :
'Twas certain he could write and cipher too :
Lands he could measure ; terms and tides presage;
And e'en the story rau that he could-gauge,
In arguing, too, the parson own'd his skill;
For e'en though vanquish'd, he could argue still.;
While words of learned length, and thundering sound,
Amaz'd the gazing rustics, rang'd around;
And still they gaz'd; and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.

V.--Story of Palemon and Lavinia,
THE lovely young Lavinia once had friends,
And fortune smild deceitful, on her birth.
For, in her helpless years, depriv'd of all,
Of every stay, save innocence and Heaven,
She, with her widow'd mother, feeble, old,
And poor, liv'd in a cottage far retir'd
Among the windings of a woody vale;
By solitude and deop surrounding shades,
But more by bashful modesty, conceald.
Together, thus they shunnid the cruel scorn,
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet
Fiddy passion and low-minded pride;
A on nature's common bounty fed;
Liku gay birds that sung them to repose,
Content, and careless of to-morrow's fare.

Her form was fresher than the morning rose,
When the dew wets its leaves ; unstain'd and pure
As is the lily, or the mountain snow.
The modest virtues mingled in her eyes,
Still on the ground dejected, darting all
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers;
Or, when the mournful tale her mother told,
Or what her faithless fortune promis'd once,
Thrill'd in her thought, they like the dewy star
Of ev'ning, shone in tears. A native grace
Sat fair proportioned on her polish'd limbs,
Veild in a simple robe, their best attire,
Beyond the pomp of dress; for loveliness

Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is, when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most.
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close embow'ring woods.

As in the hollow breast of Appenine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild :
So flourishid, blooining, and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia : tiil at length compellid
By strong necessity's supreme command,
With smiling patience in her looks, she went
To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains
Palemon was; the generous, and the rich :
Who led the rural life, in all its joy
And elegance, such as Arcadian song
Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times;
When tyrant Custom had not shackled man,
But free to follow nature, was the mode.
He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes
Amusing, chanc'd beside his reaper train
To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye,
Unconscious of her pow'r, and turning quick
With unaffected blushes from his gaze:
He saw her charming ; but he saw not half
The charms her downcast modesty conceal'd.
That very moment love and chasté desire
Sprung in his bosom, to bimself unknown;
For still the world prevail'd, and its dread laugh,
(Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn)
Should his heart own a gleaner in the field;
And thus, in secret, to his soul he sigh’d,

“ What pity, that so delicate a form,
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense,
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell,
Should be devoted to the rude embrace
Of some indecent clown! She looks, methin
Of old Acasto’s line: and to my mind
Recalls that patron of my happy life,
From whom my liberal fortune took its rise ;
Now to the dust gone down, his houses, lands,
And once fair spreading family, dissolv'd.
'Tis said, that, in soine lone, obscure retreat,
Urg'd by remembrance sad and decent pride,
Far from those scenes which knew their better days,
His aged widow and his daughter live,
Whom yet my fruitless search could never find.
Romantic wish! would this the daughter were

When strict inquiring, from herself he found
She was the same, the daughter of his friend,
Of Bountiful Acasto—who can speak
The mingled passions that surpris'd his heart,

And through his nerves in shivering transport ran!
Then blaz'd his smother'd flame, avow'd and bold !
And as he view'd her, ardent o'er and o’er,
Love, gratitude, and pity, wept at once.
Confus d and frighten'd at his sudden tears,
Her rising beauties flushd a higher bloom;
As thus Palemon, passionate and just,
Pour'd out the pious rapture of his soul.

* And art thou, then, Acasto's dear remains ? She whom

my

restless gratitude has sought So long in vain?-Oh yes! the very same, The soften'd image of my noble friend ; Alive, his every feature, every look, More elegantly touch'd. Sweeter than Spring ! Thou sole surviving blossom from the root That nourish'd up my fortune! say, ah! where, In what sequesterd desert, hast thou drawn The kindest aspect of delighted heaven! Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair, Though poverty's cold wind and rushing rain Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years. Oh, let me now into a richer soil Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and showers Diffuse their warmest, largest influence; And of my garden be the pride and joy. Ill it befits thee, oh! it ill befits Acasto's daughter, his whose open-stores, Though vast, were little to his ampler heart, The father of a country, thus to pick The very refuse of those harvest-fields, Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand, But ill applied to such a rugged task : The fields, the master, all, my fair are thine; If to the various blessings which thy house Has on me lavish'd, thou wilt add that bliss, That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee !"

Here ceas'd the youth ; yet still his speaking eye Express'd the sacred triumph of his soul, With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love, Above the vulgar joy divinely rais'd. Nor waited-he reply: Won by the charm Of goodness irresistible, and all In sweet disorder lost--she blush'd consent. The news immediate to her mother brought, While, pierc'd with anxious thought, she pind away The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate ; Amaz'd, and scarce believing what she heard, Joy seiz'd her wither'd veins, and one bright gleam of setting life shone on her evening hours: Not less enraptur'd than the happy pair, Who flourish d 'long in tender bliss, and rear'd

« VorigeDoorgaan »