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Upon the slimy foot-stone I espied
The useless fragment of a wooden bowl,
Green with the moss of years, and subject only
To the soft handling of the elements :
There let it lie—how foolish are such thoughts !
Forgive them ;-never-never did my steps
Approach this door but she who dwelt within
A daughter's welcome gave me, and I loved her
As my own child. Oh, Sir! the good die first,
And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust
Burn to the socket. Many a passenger
Hath blessed poor Margaret for her gentle looks,
When she upheld the cool refreshment drawn
From that forsaken spring; and no one came
But he was welcome; no one went away
But that it seemed she loved him. She is dead,
The light extinguished of her lonely hut,
The hut itself abandoned to decay,
And she forgotten in the quiet grave.

I speak,” continued he, “ of One whose stock Of virtues bloomed beneath this lowly roof. She was a Woman of a steady mind, Tender and deep in her excess of love; Not speaking much, pleased rather with the joy Of her own thoughts : by some especial care Her temper had been framed, as if to make A Being, who by adding love to peace Might live on earth a life of happiness.

Her wedded Partner lacked not on his side
The humble worth that satisfied her heart :
Frugal, affectionate, sober, and withal
Keenly industrious. She with pride would tell
That he was often seated at his loom,
In summer, ere the mower was abroad
Among the dewy grass,-in early spring,
Ere the last star had vanished. — They who passed
At evening, from behind the garden fence
Might hear his busy spade, which he would ply,
After his daily work, until the light
Had failed, and every leaf and flower were lost
In the dark hedges. So their days were spent
In peace and comfort ; and a pretty boy
Was their best hope, next to the God in heaven.

Not twenty years ago,


I think
Can scarcely bear it now in mind, there came
Two blighting seasons, when the fields were left
•With half a harvest. It pleased Heaven to add
• A worse affliction in the plague of war:
This happy Land was stricken to the heart !
A Wanderer then among the cottages,
I, with my freight of winter raiment, saw
The hardships of that season: many rich
Sank down, as in a dream, among


poor ; And of the

poor did

many cease to be, And their place knew them not. Meanwhile, abridged Of daily comforts, gladly reconciled

To numerous self-denials, Margaret
Went struggling on through those calamitous years
With cheerful hope, until the second autumn,
When her life's Helpmate on a sick-bed lay,
Smitten with perilous fever. In disease
He lingered long; and, when his strength returned,
He found the little he had stored, to meet :
The hour of accident or crippling age,
Was all consumed. A second infant now
Was added to the troubles of a time
Laden, for them and all of their degree,
With care and sorrow : shoals of artisans
From ill-requited labour turned adrift
Sought daily bread from public charity,
They, and their wives and children-happier far
Could they have lived as do the little birds
That peck along the hedge-rows, or the kite
That makes her dwelling on the mountain rocks !

A sad reverse it was for him who long
Had filled with plenty, and possessed in peace,
This lonely Cottage. At the door he stood,
And whistled many a snatch of merry tunes
That had no mirth in them; or with his knife
Carved uncouth figures on the heads of sticks
Then, not less idly, sought, through every nook
In house or garden, any casual work
Of use or ornament, and with a strange,
Amusing, yet uneasy, novelty,

He mingled, where he might, the various tasks
Of summer, autumn, winter, and of spring.
.But this endured not; his good humour soon
Became a weight in which no pleasure was :
And poverty brought on a petted mood
And a sore temper: day by day he drooped,
And he would leave his work—and to the town
Would turn without an errand his slack steps ;
Or wander here and there among the fields.
One while he would speak lightly of his babes,
And with a cruel tongue : at other times
He tossed them with a false unnatural joy:
And 'twas a rueful thing to see the looks
Of the poor innocent children. “Every smile,'
Said Margaret to me, here beneath these trees,
'Made my heart bleed.'”

At this the Wanderer paused; And, looking up to those enormous elms, He said, “'Tis now the hour of deepest noon. At this still season of repose


This hour when all things which are not at rest
Are cheerful; while this multitude of flies
With tuneful hum is filling all the air ;
Why should a tear be on an old Man's cheek?
Why should we thus, with an untoward mind,
And in the weakness of humanity,
From natural wisdom turn our hearts away ;
To natural comfort shut our eyes and ears ;

And, feeding on disquiet, thus disturb
The calm of nature with our restless thoughts ?”

He spake with somewhat of a solemn tone :
But, when he ended, there was in his face
Such easy cheerfulness, a look so mild,
That for a little time it stole

All recollection; and that simple tale
Passed from my mind like a forgotten sound.
A while on trivial things we held discourse,
To me soon tasteless. In my own despite,
I thought of that poor Woman as of one
Whom I had known and loved. He had rehearsed
Her homely tale with such familiar power,
With such an active countenance, an eye
So busy, that the things of which he spake
Seemed present; and, attention now relaxed,
A heart-felt chillness crept along my veins.
I rose ; and, having left the breezy shade,
Stood drinking comfort from the warmer sun,
That had not cheered me long-ere, looking round
Upon that tranquil Ruin, I returned,
And begged of the old Man that, for
He would resume his story.

my sake,

He replied, “It were a wantonness, and would demand Severe reproof, if we were men whose hearts

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