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For your vow's fake, this rule I give tye ;
Let all your maids be turn'd of fifty.
The Priest reply'd, I have not swervid,
chaste precept well obfery'd:
That lass full twenty-five has told
I've yet another who 's as old ;
Into one sum their ages cast;
So both my maids have fifty paft.
The Prelate smil'd, but durft not blame;
For why? his Lordship did the same.
Let those who reprimand their brothers, Fift mend the faults they find in others.
Α Ρ Ρ Α R Ι Τ Ι Ο Ν.
P P I
Cepticks (whose strength of argument makes out,
That wisdom's deep enquiries end in doubt)
Hold this affertion positive and clear,
That sprites are pare delusions, rais'd by fear.
Not that fam'd ghost, which in presaging found
Call’d Brutus to Philippi's fatal ground,
Nor can Tiberius Gracchus'
These ever-doubting disputants persuade.
Straight they with smiles reply, Those tales of old
By visionary priests were made and told.
Oh, might some ghost at dead of night appear,
And make you own conviction by your fear !
I know your sneers my easy faith accuse,
Which with such idle legends scares the Muse :
But think not that I tell those vulgar sprites,
Which frighted boys relate on winter nights,
How cleanly milk-maids meet the fairy train,
How heedless horses drag the clinking chain,
Night-roaming ghofts, by faucer eye-balls known,
The common spectres of each country-town.
No, I fuch fables can like you defpife,
And laugh to hear these nurse-invented lies.
Yet has not oft' the fraudful guardian's fright
Compell’d him to restore an orphan's right?
And can we doubt that horrid ghosts ascend,
Which on the conscious murderer'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 traveller took his folitary way,
When low beneath the hills was sunk the day.
And now the skies with gathering darkness lour,
The branches ruftle with the threaten'd shower;
With sudden blasts the forest murmurs loud,
Indented lightnings cleave the sable cloud,
Thunder on thunder breaks, the tempest roars,
And heaven discharges all its watery stores.
The wandering traveller shelter feeks in vain,
And shrinks and shivers with the beating rain:
On his steed's neck the sacken'd bridle lay,
Who chose with cautious step th' uncertain way;
And now he checks the rein, and halts 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 domestic flame
That trembled through the window; cross the way
Darts forth the barking cur, and stands at bay.
It was an antient 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 public inn.
Straight he dismounts, repeats his loud commands:
Swift at the gate the ready landlord stands ;
With frequent cringe he bows, and begs excuse,
His house was full, and every bed in use.
What not a garret, and no straw. to spare ?
Why tħen the kitchen-fire and elbow-chair
Shall serve for once to nod away the night.
The kitchen ever is the servant's right,
Replies the host; there, all the fire around,
The Count's tir'd footmen 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 sustain Of rattling curtains and the clinking chain; If your courageous tongue have power to talk, When round your bed the horrid ghost shall walk; If you dare ask it, why it leaves its tomb; I'll see your sheets well air’d, and shew 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' ascent,
And to the lonesome room of terrors went.
When all was ready, swift retir'd the maid,
'The watch-lights burn, tuck'd 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 sound
Of rattling chains, that dragg'd upon the ground:
When lo, the spectre came with horrid ftride,
Approach'd the bed, and drew the curtains wide!
In human form the ghastful phantom Itood,
Expos'd his mangled bofom dy'd with blood.
Then, silent pointing to his wounded breast,
Thrice way'd his hand. Beneath the frighted gueft
: The bed-cords trembled, and with shuddering fear, Sweat chill'd his limbs, high rose his bristled hair ; Then muttering hasty prayers, 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 Nept. O thirst of gain! See, still the planks the bloody mark retain. Stretch'd on this very bed, from sleep I start, And see the steel impending o'er my heart; The barbarous hostess held the lifted knife, The Aoor ran purple with my gushing life. VOL. XXXVII. с