Графични страници
PDF файл

To pious .lames he then his prayer ad

ilrrBKil;— Good-luck, quoth James, thy sorrow* pierce

my breast; And, had I wealth, as have my brethren

twain, One board should feed us and one roof rontain: But plead I will thy cause and I will pray: And so farewell! Heaven help thee on thy

way! Scoundrel! said Roger, (but apart) — and

told His case to Peter:—Peter too was cold:— The rates are high; we have a -many poor; But 1 will think, — he said, and shut the

door. Then the gay Niece the seeming pauper

press'd:— Turn, Nancy, turn, nnd view this form dis

tress'd: Akin to thine is this declining frame, And this poor beggar claims an Uncle's name. Avaunt! begone! the courteous maiden said, Thou vile impostor! Uncle Roger's dead: I hate thee, beast; thy look my spirit shocks! Oh! that I saw thee starving in the stocks! My gentle niece! he said — nnd sought the

wood.— I hunger, fellow; prithee, give me food! Give! am I richY This hatchet take, and try Thy proper strength, nor give those limbs

the lie; Work, feed thyself, to thine own powers

appeal, Nor whine out woes, thine own right-hand

can heal: And while that hand is thine and thine a leg, Scorn of the proud or of the base to beg.— Come, surly John, thy wealthy kinsman

view, Old Roger taid:—thy words arc brave and

true; Come, live with me: we'll vex those scoundrel-boys. And that prim shrew shall, envying, hear

our joys.— Tobacco's glorious fume nil day we'll share, With beef and brandy kill all kinds of care; We'll beer and biscuit on our table heap,

And rail at rascals, till we fall asleep

Such was their life: but when the woodman

died,

His grieving kin for Roger's smiles applied— In vain; he shut, with stern rebuke, the door, And dying, built a refuge for the poor; With this restriction: lhat no Cuff should

share One meal, or shelter for one moment there

My record ends: — Rut hark! e'en now I

hear The bell of death, and know not whose to

fear: Our farmers all and all our hinds were well; In no man's cottage danger seeiu'd to dwell:

Yet death of man proclaim these heavy

chimes. For thrice they sound, with pausing space,

three times. Go; of my sexton seek, Whose days are

sped ¥— What! he, himself!—and is old Dibble dead T His eightieth year he reach'd, still underay "d. And rectors five to one close vault con

vey'd: But he is gone; his care and skill I lone, And gain a mournful subject for my Muse: His masters lost, he'd oft in turn deplore, And kindly add, — Heaven grant, I lose no

more! Vet, while he spake, a sly and pleasant glance Appear'd at variance with his complaisance: For, as he told their fate and varying worth, He archly look'd—I yet may bear thee forth. When first—(he so began)—my trade I plied, Good master Addle was the parish-guide; His clerk and sexton, I beheld with fear. His stride majestic, and his frown severe; A nnblc pillar of the church he stood. Adorn'd with college-gown and parish-hood: Then as he paced the hallow'd aisles about. He fill'd the sevenfold surplice fairly out! But in his pulpit, wearied down with prayer. He sat and seem'd as in his study's chair; For while the anthem swcll'd, and when it

ceased, Th' expecting people view'd their slumbering

priest: Who, dozing, died.—Our Parson Peclc was

next; I will not spare you, was his favourite text; Nor did he spare, but raised them many a

pound; Ev'n me he mulct for my poor rood of ground; Yet cared he noiigh t,bu t with a gibing speech. What should I do, quoth he, but what I

preach ¥ His piercing jokes (and he'd a plenteous

store) Were daily offer'd both to rich and poor; His senru.bis love, in playful words he spoke; His pity, praise, and promise, were a joke: But though so young and blest with spirits

high, He died as grave as any judge could die: The strong attack subdued his lively

powers,— His was the grave, and Doctor GrmtUpcar

ours. Then were there golden times the village

round; In his abundance all appear'd t* abound; Liberal and rich, a plenteous board he uprrad. E'en cool Dissenters at his table fed; Who wish'd, and hoped,—and thought a man

so kind A way to Heaven, though not their own.

might find; To them, to all, ho was polite and free. Kind to the poor, and, ah! most kind to

me:

Halph, would he say, Ralph Dibble, thou

art old; That doublet fit, 'twill keep thee from the

cold: How dors my Sexton? — What! the times

are hard; Drive that stout pig, and pen him in thy yard. Hut moat, his Rev'rencc loved a mirthful

jest:— Thy coat is thin; why, man, thou'rt barely

dress'd; It't worn to tli' thread: but I have nappy

beer; (lap (hat within, and see how they will

wear!— Gay days were these; but they were quickly

past: When Grst he runic, wc found he could not last: A whoreson cough (and at the fall of leaf) I pset him quite: — but what's the gain of

grief? Then came the Author-Hector; his delight Was all in books; to read them, or to write: Women and men he strove alike to shun, And hurried homeward when his tasks were

done: Courteous enough, hut careless what he said, For points of learning he reserved his head; And when addressing either poor or rich, He knew no better than his cassock which: He, like an osier, was of pliant kind, Krect by nature, but to bend inclined; Not like a creeper falling to the ground, Or meanly catching On the neighbours

round:— Careless was he of surplice, hood, and band,— Aid kindly took them as they came to hand: Nor. like the doctor, wore a world of hat, As if he sought for dignity in that: He Ulk'd, he gave, but not with cautious

rules: Nor tnrn'il from gipsies, vagabonds, or fools; IlWas his nature, but they thought it whim. And to our beaux and beauties turn'd from

him: Of questions, much he wrote, profound and

dark,— Uow spake the Serpent, and where stopp'd

the Ark; From what far land the Queen of Shcbacanie; Who Salem's priest, and what his father's

name; He made the Song of Songs its mysteries

yield. And Revelations, to the world, reveal'd. Hr sleeps i' the aisle,—but not a stone records His name or fame, his actions or his words: Aid trath, your Reverence, when I look

around, Ind mark the tombs in our sepulchral ground, i Though dare I not of one man's hope to

doubt) I'd join the party who repose without Next came a 1 ouf A from Cambridge, and.

in truth. He was a sober and a comely youth;

He blusli'il in meekness as a modest man, And gain'd attention ere his task began; When preaching, seldom ventured on reproof, Buttouch'd his neighbours tenderly enough. Him, in his youth, a clamorous sect assail'd, Advised and censured, flatter'd,—and pre

vail'd— Then did he much his sober hearers vex, Confound the simple, and the sad perplex; To a new style his Reverence rashly took; Loud grew his voice, to thrent'ning swell'd

his look; Above, below, on either side, he gazed, Amazing all, and most himself amazed: No more he read his preachments pure and

plain, But launch'd outright and rose and sank

again: At times he smiled in scorn, at times he wept. And such sad coil with words of vengeance

kept, That our best sleepers started as they slept. Conviction comes like lightning, he would

cry; In vain you seek it, and in vain you fly; Tin like the rushing of the mighty wind. Unseen its progress, but its power you find; It strikes the child ere yet its reason wnkes; 11 Ik reason fled, the ancient sire it shakes; The proud, learn'd man, and him who loves

to know How and from whence these gusts of grace

will blow, It shuns, — but sinners in their way impedes, And sots and harlots visits in their deeds: Of faith and penance it supplies the place; Assures the vilest that they live by grace, And, without running, makes them win the

race. Such was the doctrine our young prophet

taught; And here conviction,there confusion wrought; When his thin cheek assumed n deadly hue, And all the rose to one small spot withdrew: They rall'd it hectic; 'twas a fiery flush, Morefix'd and deeper than the maiden-blush; His paler lips the pearly teeth disclosed. And liib'ring lungs the length'ning speech

opposed. No more his span-girth shanks and quiv'ring

thighs Upheld a body of the smaller size; Hut down he sank upon his dying bed. And gloomy crotchets fill'd his wandering

head

Spite of my faith, all -sating faith, he cried,
I fear of worldly works the wicked pride;
Poor as I am, degraded, abject, blind.
The good I've wrought still rankles in my

mind;
My alms-deeds all, and every deed I've done.
My moral-rags defile me every one;
It should not be: — what snyst thou? tell

me. Ralph. Quoth I: Your Reverence, I believe, you're safe;

Your faith's your prop, nor have you pass'd

■uch time In life's good-works as swell them to a

crime. If I of pardon for my sins were sure, About my goodness I would rest secure. Such was his end; and mine approaches

fast; I've seen my best of preachers, — and my

lastHe bow'd, and archly smiled at what he said, Civil but sly:—And is old Dibble dead? Yes! he is gone: and We are going all; Like flowers we wither, and like leaves we

fall;—

Here, with nn infant, joyful sponsors come, Then bear the new-made Christian to its

home; A few short years and we behold him stand. To ask a blessing, with his bride in hand: A few, still seeming shorter, and we hear His widow weeping at her husband's bier :— Thus,as the months succeed,shall infants take Their names; thus parents shall the child

forsake; Thus brides again and bridegrooms blithe

shall kneel, By love or law compell'd their vows to seal. Ere I again, or one like me, explore These simple Annals of the Village -poor.

THE LIBRARY.

Wiikh the sad soul, by care and grief

oppress'd, Looks round the world, but looks in vain

for rest; When every object that appears in view, Partakes her gloom and seems dejected too; Where shall affliction from itself retire? Where fade away and placidly expire? Alas! we fly to silent scenes in vain; Care blasts the honours of the flow'ry plain: Care veils in clouds the sun's meridian

beam. Sighs through the grove and murmurs in

the stream; For when the soul is labouring in despair, In vain the body breathes a purer air: No storm-tost sailor sighs for slumbering

seas,— He dreads the tempest, but invokes the

breeze; On the smooth mirror of the deep resides Reflected wo, and o'er unruffled tides The ghost of every former danger glides. Thus in the calms of life we only see A steadier image of our misery; But lively gales and gently-clouded skies Disperse the sad reflections as they rise; And busy thoughts and little cares avail To ease the mind, when rest and reason fail. When the dull thought, by no designs em

ploy'd, Dwells on the past, or suffer'd or enjoy'd, We bleed anew in every former grief, And joys departed furnish no relief. Not Hope herself, with all her flattering art. Can cure this stubborn sickness of the heart: The soul disdains each comfort she prepares, And anxious searches for congenial cares;

Those lenient cares, which, with our own

combined. By mix'd sensations ease th' afflicted mind. And steal our grief away and leave their own

behind; A lighter grief! which feeling hearts endure Without regret, nor e'en demand a cure. But what strange art, what magic can dispose The troubled mind to change its native woea? Or lead us willing from ourselves, to see Others more wretched.more undone than we? This books can do;—nor this alone; they give New views to life, and teach us how to live; They soothe the grieved, the stubborn they

chastise, Fools they admonish, and confirm the wise: Their aid they yield to all: they never shun The man of sorrow, nor the wretch undone: Unlike the hard, the selfish, and the proud They fly not sullen from the suppliant crowd; Nor tell to various people various thinpn. But show to subjects, what they show te

kings. Come,Child of Care! to make thy soul serene; Approaeh the treasures of this tranquil scene; Survey the dome, and, as the doors unfold. The soul's best cure, in all lier cares, behold' Where mental wealth the poor in thought

may find. And mental physic the diseased in mind; See here the balms that passion's wooneU

assuage; See coolers here, that damp the fire of rage; Here alt'ratives. by slow degrees control The chronic habits of the sickly soul; And round the heart and o'er the achinr.

head. Mild opiates here their sober influence shed Nov bid thy soul man's busy scenes exclude, And view composed this silent multitude :— Silent they are, but, though deprived of

sound, Here all the living languages abound: Here all that live no more; preserved they lie, In tombs that open to the curious eye. Blest be the gracious Power, who taught

mankind To stamp a lasting image of the mind !— BeuU may convey, and tuneful birds may

sing, Their mutual feelings, in the opening spring; fiat man alone has skill and power to send The heart's warm dictates to the distant

friend: Tu hia alone to please, instruct, advise Ages remote, and nations yet to rise. la sweet repose,when labour's children sleep, When joy forgets to smile and care to weep, When passion slumbers in the lover's breast, And fear and guilt partake the balm of rest, W by then denies the studious man to share Man's common good, who feels his common

careV Because the hope is his, that bids him fly Night's soft repose, and sleep's mild power

defy; That after-ages may repeat his praise, Aod fame's fair meed be his, for length of

days. Mifthtfnl prospect! when we leave behind A worthy offspring of the fruitful mind! which, born and nursed through many an

anxious day, shall all onr labour, all our care repay. Vrt all are not these births of noble kind, Jot all the children of a vigorous mind; 8nt where the wisest should alone preside, 'heweak would rule us, and the blind would

guide; •w* man's best efforts taste of man, and

show The poor and troubled source from which

they flow: "here most he triumphs, we his wants perceive, iTM for his weakness in his wisdom grieve. not though imperfect all, yet wisdom loves """rat serene .and virtue's self approves:— ■"teomethe grieved, a change of thought

to find; 1M carious here, to feed a craving mind; "fr? the devout their peaceful temple choose; '"^here thr poet meets his favouring muse, jjith awe around these silent walks I tread; I ww ire the lasting mansions of the dead:— ■w dead!—methinks a thousand tongues

'ww ire the tombs of such as cannot die! ">»•'d with eternal fame, they sit sublime, tod laugh at all the little strife of time. ■'ail. then, immortals! ye who shine above, ***, in his sphere, the literary Jove; *»d ye the common people of these skies, A humbler crowd of nameless deities;

Whether 'tis yours to lead the willing mind Through history's mazes, und the turnings

find; Or whether, led by science, ye retire, Lost and bewilder'd in the vast desire; Whether the Muse invites you to her bowers, And crowns your placid brows with living

flowers; Or godlike wisdom teaches you to show The noblest road to happiness below; Or men and manners prompt the easy page To mark the flying follies of the age: Whatever good ye boast, that good impart; Inform the head and rectify the heart.

Lo! all in silence, all in order stand. And mighty folios first, a lordly band; Then quartos their well-order'd ranks maintain, And light octavos fill a spacious plain: See yonder, ranged in more frequented rows, A humbler band of duodecimos; While undistinguished trifles swell the scene, The last new play and fritter'd magazine. Thus 'tis in life, where first the proud, the

great, In leagued assembly keep their cumbrous

state; Heavy and huge, they fill the world with

dread, Are much admired, and are but little read: The commons next, a middle rank, are found; Professions fruitful pour their offspring

round; Rcasoncrs and wits are next their place nl

low'd, And last, of vulgar tribes a countless crowd. First, let us view the form, the size, the

dress; For these the manners, nay the mind express; That weight of wood, with leathern coat

o'erlaid; Those ample clasps, of solid metal made; The close-press'd leaves, unclosed for many

an age; The dull red edging of the well-fill'd page; On the broad back the stubborn ridges roll'd, Where yet the title stands in tarnish'd gold; These all a sage and labour'd work proclaim, A painful candidate for lasting fame: No idle wit, no trifling verse can lurk In the deep bosom of that weighty work; No playful thoughts degrade the solemn

style. Nor one light sentence claims a transient

smile. Hence,in these times,untouch'd the pages lie, And shun be r out their immortality: They had their day, when, after all his toil, His morning-study, and his midnight-oil, At length an author's One great work ap

pear'd, By patient hope and length of days endear'd: Expecting nations hail'd it from the press; Poetic friends prcfix'd each kind address;

Prince* and kings received the pond'rousgift. And ladies read the work they could not lift. Fashion, though Folly's child, and guide of

fools, Rules e'en the wisest, and in learning rules; From crowds and courts to Wisdom's Bent

she goes, And reigns triumphant o'er her mother's foes. For lo! these fav'rites of the ancient mode Lie all neglected like the Birth-day-Ode; Ah! needless now this weight of massy

chain; Safe in themselves the once-loved works

remain; No readers now invade their still retreat, None try to steal them from their parent

«ent; Like ancient beauties, they may now discard Chains, bolts, and locks, and lie without a

guard. Our patient fathers trifling themes laid by, And rnll'd, o'er lnbour'id works, th' attentive eye; Page after page, the much-enduring men Explored, the deeps and shallows of the pen; Till, every former note and comment known, They mark'd the spacious margin with their

own: Minute corrections proved their studious

care; The little index, pointing, told ns where; And many an emendation show'd the age Look'd far beyond the rubric title-page. Our nicer palates lighter labours seek, Cloy'd with a fnlio-A'umicr once a week; Bibles, with cuts and comments, thus go

down: ,

E'en light Voltaire is number'd through the

town: Thus physic flies abroad, and thus the law, From men of study, and from men of straw; Abstracts, abridgments, plense the fickle

times, Pamphlets and plays and politics and rhymes: But though to write be now a task of ease. The task is hard by manly arts to please, W hen all onr wenkness is exposed to view. And half our judges are our rivals too.

Amid these works, on which the eager eye Delights to fix, or glides reluctant by. When all combined their decent pomp display, Where shall we first our early offering pay?—

To thee, DivnuTv! to thee, the light And guide of mortals, through their mental

night; By whom we learn our hopes and fears to

guide; To hear with pain, and to contend with pride; When grieved, to pray; when injured, to

forgive; And with the world in charitv to live.

Not truths like these inspired that numerous race.

Whose pious labours fill this ample space;

But questions nice, where doubt on doubt arose,

Awaked to war the long-contending foes.

For dubious meanings learn"d polemics strove.

And wars on faith prevented works of love;

The brands of discord far around were hurl'd,

And holy wrath inflamed a sinful world:—

Hull though impatient, peevish though devout,

With wit disgusting and despised without;

Saints in design, in execution men,

Peace in their looks, and vengeance in their pen.

Methinks I see, and sicken at the sight. Spirits of spleen from yonder pile alight; Spirits who prompted every damning page. With pontiff-pride and still-increasing rage: Ln! how they stretch their gloomy wings

around. And lash with furious strokes the trembling

ground! They pray, they fight, they murder, and

they weep,— Wolves in their vengeance, in their manner*

sheep; Too well they net the prophet's fatal part. Denouncing evil with a zealous heart; And each, like Jonas, is displeased if God Repent his anger, or withhold his rod. But here the dormant fury rests unsought. And Zeal sleeps soundly by the foes ahe

fought; Here all the rage of controversy ends. And rival zealots rest like bosom-friends: An Athanasian here, in deep repose. Sleeps with the fiercest of his Arian foe*; Socinians here with Calvinists abide. And thin partitions angry chiefs divide; Here wily Jesuits simple Quakers meet. And Bellarminc has rest at Luther's feet. Great authors, for the church's glory fired. Are, for the church's peace, to rest retired; And close beside, a mystic, maudlin race. Lie: "Crumbs of Comfort for the Babes i>f

Grace." Against her foes Religion well defends Her sacred truths, but oftrn feara 1-.

friends; If learn'd, their pride, if weak, their sraj

she dreads. And their hearts' weakness, who have

Roundest heads: But most she fears the controversial pen. The holy strife of disputations men; Who the blest Gospel's pearefsU paer

explore, Only to fight against its precepts more. Near to these seats behold yon slender framr. All closely fill'd and mark'd with

names;

« ПредишнаНапред »