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And can we doubt that horrid ghosts ascend,
Which on the conscious murd'rer's steps attend ?
Hear then, and let attested truth prevail,
From faithful lips. I learnt the dreadful tale.
Where Arden's forest spreads its limits wide,
Whose branching paths the doubtful road divide,
A trav'ler took his solitary way ;
When low beneath the hills was funk the day.
And now the kies with gath'ring darkness lour,
The branches rustle with the threaten’d shower;
With sudden blasts the forest murmurs loud,
Indented lightnings cleave the fable cloud,
Thunder on thunder breaks, the tempeft roars,
And heav'n discharges all its watry stores.
The wand'ring trav'ler shelter seeks in vain,
And shrinks and shivers with the beating rain :
On his steed's neck the slacken'd bridle lay,
Who chose with cautious step th' uncertain way ;
And now he checks the rein, and haults to hear
If any noise foretold a village near.
At length from far a stream of light he sees
Extend its level ray between the trees;
Thither he speeds, and as he nearer came
Joyful he knew the lamp's domestick flame
That trembled through the window; cross the way
Darts forth the barking cur, and stands at bay.
It was an ancient lonely house, that stood
Upon the borders of the spacious wood;
Here towers and antique battlements arise,
And there in heaps the moulder'd ruin lies;
Some Lord this mansion held in days of yore,
To chace the wolf, and pierce the foaming boar :
How chang'd, alas, from what it once had been !
'Tis now degraded to a publick inn.
Straight he dismounts, repeats his foud commands;
Swift at the gate the ready landlord stands;
With frequent cringe he bows, and begs excufe,
His house was full, and every bed in use.
What not a garret, and no straw to spare ?
Why then the kitchen fire and elbow-chair
Shall serve for once to nod away the night.
The kitchen ever is the servants right,
Replies the hoft; there, all the fire around,
The Count's tir'd foutmen snore
upon the ground.
The maid, who listen'd to this whole debate,
With pity learnt the weary stranger's fate.
Be brave, she cries, you still may be our guest,
Our haunted room was ever held the best ;
If then your valour can the fright suitain
Of rattling curtains and the clinking chain,
If your couragious tongue have power to talk,
bed the horrid ghost shall walk; If you dare ask it, why it leaves its tomb, l'll see your sheets well air’d, and show the room. Soon as the frighted maid her tale had told, The stranger enter'd, for his heart was bold.
The damsel led him through a spacious hall, Where Ivy hung the half-demolish'd wall; She frequent look'd behind, and chang'd her hue, While fancy tipt the candle's flame with blue. And now they gain'd the winding stairs afcent, And to the lonesome room of terrors went. When all was ready, swift retir'd the maid, The watch-lights burn, tuckt warm in bed was laid The hardy stranger, and attends the sprite Till his accustom'd walk at dead of night.
At first he hears the wind with hollow roar Shake the loose lock, and swing the creaking door;
Nearer and nearer draws the dreadful found
Of rattling chains, that dragg'd upon the ground;
When lo, the spectre came with horrid stride,
Approach'd the bed, and drew the curtains wide!
In human form the ghaftful Phantom stood,
Expos'd his mangled bosom dy'd with blood.
Then filent pointing to his wounded breast,
Thrice wav'd his hand. Beneath the frighted guest
The bed-cords trembled, and with shudd'ring fear,
Swet chill'd his limbs, high rose his bristled hair;
Then mutt’ring hafty pray'rs, he mann'd his heart,
And cry'd aloud ; Say, whence and who thou art ?
The stalking ghost with hollow voice replies,
Three years are counted, since with mortal eyes
I saw the sun, and vital air respir’d.
Like thee benighted, and with travel tir'd,
Within these walls I slept. O thirst of gain!
See, still the planks the bloody mark retain ;
Stretch'd on this very bed, from fleep I ftart,
And see the steel impending o'er my heart;
The barb'rous hostess held the lifted knife,
The floor ran purple with my gushing life.
My treasure now they seize, the golden spoil
They bury deep beneath the grass grown foil,
Far in the common field. Be bold, arise,
My steps shall lead thee to the secret prize;
There dig and find ; let that thy care reward :
Call loud on justice, bid her not retard
To punish murder ; lay my ghost at rest,
So shall with peace secure thy nights be blest ;
And when beneath these boards my bones are found,
Decent inter them in some sacred ground.
Here ceas'd the ghoft. The stranger springs from bed, And boldly follows where the Phantom led;
The half-worn stoney ftairs they now defcend,
Where passages obscure their arches bend.
Silent they walk; and now through groves they pass,
Now through wet meads their steps imprint the grass;
At length amidst a spacious field they came :
There stops the spectre, and ascends in flame.
Amaz'd he stood, no bush, or briar was found,
To teach his morning search to find the ground ;,
What could he do ? the night was hideous dark,
Fear shook his joints, and nature dropt the mark :
With that he starting wak'd, and rais'd his head,
But found the golden mark was left in bed
What is the statesman's vast ambitious scheme,
But a short vision, and a golden dream?
Power, wealth, and title elevate his hope;
He wake But for a garter finds a rope.
PRUDE, at morn and ev'ning prayer,
Had worn her velvet cushion bare ;
Upward she taught her eyes to roll,
As if she watch'd her soaring soul ;
And when devotion warm’d the croud,
None sung, or smote their breast so loud :
Pale Penitence had mark'd her face
With all the meagre signs of grace.
Her mass-book was compleatly lin'd
With painted Saints of various kind :
But when in ev'ry page she view'd
Fine Ladies who the flesh subdu'd;
As quick her beads she counted o’er,
She cry'd such wonders are no more !
She chose not to delay confeffion,
To bear at once a year's transgression,
But ev'ry week set all things even,
And balanc'd her accounts with heav'n.
Behold her now in humble guise,
Upon her knees with downcaft eyes
Before the Priest : she thus begins,
And sobbing, blubbers forth her fins;