Page images
PDF
EPUB

But as her anger met with no reply,
She let the gentle girl in quiet die ;
And to her sister wrote impell'd by pain,
"Come quickly, Martha, or you come in vain."
Lucy meantime profess'd, with joy sincere,
That nothing held, employ'd, engaged her here.

"I am an humble actor, doom'd to play
A part obscure, and then to glide away;
Incurious how the great or happy shine,
Or who have parts obscure and sad as mine;
In its best prospect I but wish'd, for life,
To be th' assiduous, gentle, useful wife;
That lost, with wearied mind, and spirit poor,
I drop my efforts, and can act no more;
With growing joy I feel my spirits tend
To that last scene where all my duties end."
Hope, ease, delight, the thoughts of dying
gave,

Till Lucy spoke with fondness of the grave;
She smiled with wasted form, but spirit firm,
And said, "She left but little for the worm.'
As toll'd the bell, "There's one," she said, "hath

19

press'd

A while before me to the bed of rest;" And she beside her with attention spread The decorations of the maiden dead.

While quickly thus the mortal part declined, The happiest visions fill'd the active mind; A soft, religious melancholy gain'd Entire possession, and for ever reign'd, On holy writ her mind reposing dwelt, She saw the wonders, she the mercies felt; Till in a bless'd and glorious revery, She seem'd the Saviour as on earth to see, And, fill'd with love divine, th' attending friend to be;

Or she who trembling, yet confiding, stole

Near to the garment, touch'd it, and was whole;
When, such th' intenseness of the working thought,
On her it seem'd the very deed was wrought;
She the glad patient's fear and rapture found,
The holy transport, and the healing wound;
This was so fix'd, so grafted in the heart,
That she adopted, nay became the part:
But one chief scene was present to her sight,
Her Saviour resting in the tomb by night;
Her fever rose, and still her wedded mind
Was to that scene, that hallow'd cave, confined;
Where in the shade of death the body laid,
There watched the spirit of the wandering
maid;

Her looks were fix'd, entranced, illumed, serene,
In the still glory of the midnight scene.
There at her Saviour's feet, in visions bless'd,
Th' enraptured maid a sacred joy possess'd;
In patience waiting for the first-born ray
Of that all-glorious and triumphant day.
To this idea all her soul she gave,
Her mind reposing by the sacred grave;
Then sleep would seal the eye, the vision close,
And steep the solemn thoughts in brief repose.

Then grew the soul serene, and all its powers
Again restored illumed the dying hours;
But reason dwelt where fancy stray'd before,
And the mind wander'd from its views no more;
Till death approach'd, when every look express'd
A sense of bliss, till every sense had rest.

The mother lives, and has enough to buy Th' attentive ear and the submissive eye Of abject natures-these are daily told, How triumph'd beauty in the days of old; How, by her window seated, crowds have cast Admiring glances, wondering as they pass'd; How from her carriage as she stepp'd to pray, Divided ranks would humbly make her way; And how each voice in the astonish'd throng Pronounced her peerless as she moved along.

Her picture then the greedy dame displays, Touch'd by no shame, she now demands its praise; In her tall mirror then she shows a face, Still coldly fair with unaffecting grace; These she compares, "It has the form," she cries, "But wants the air, the spirit, and the eyes; This, as a likeness, is correct and true, But there alone the living grace we view." This said, th' applauding voice the dame required, And, gazing, slowly from the glass retired.

TALE IX.

ARABELLA.

Thrice blessed they that master so their blood-
But earthly happier is the rose distill'd,
Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness.

Midsummer Night's Dream, act i. sc. 1.

I sometimes do excuse the thing I hate,
For his advantage whom I dearly love.

Measure for Measure, act ii. sc. 4. Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu!

Ibid.

Or a fair town where Doctor Rack was guide, His only daughter was the boast and pride; Wise Arabella, yet not wise alone,

She like a bright and polish'd brilliant shone ; Her father own'd her for his prop and stay, Able to guide, yet willing to obey;

Pleased with her learning while discourse could please,

And with her love in languor and disease:
To every mother were her virtues known,
And to their daughters as a pattern shown;
Who in her youth had all that age requires,
And with her prudence, all that youth admires.
These odious praises made the damsels try
Not to obtain such merits, but deny ;
For, whatsoever wise mammas might say,
To guide a daughter this was not the way;
From such applause disdain and anger rise,
And envy lives where emulation dies.

In all his strength contends the noble horse,
With one who just precedes him on the course;
But when the rival flies too far before,
His spirit fails, and he attempts no more.

This reasoning maid, above her sex's dread!
Had dared to read, and dared to say she read;
Not the last novel, not the new-born play;
Not the mere trash and scandal of the day;
But, (though her young companions felt the shock,)
She studied Berkeley, Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke:

Her mind within the maze of history dwelt,
And of the moral muse the beauty felt!
The merits of the Roman page she knew,
And could converse with Moore and Montagu:
Thus she became the wonder of the town,
From that she reap'd, to that she gave renown,
And strangers coming, all were taught t' admire
The learned lady, and the lofty spire.

Thus fame in public fix'd the maid, where all
Might throw their darts, and see the idol fall;
A hundred arrows came with vengeance keen,
From tongues envenom'd, and from arms unseen;
A thousand eyes were fix'd upon the place,
That, if she fell, she might not fly disgrace:
But malice vainly throws the poison'd dart,
Unless our frailty shows the peccant part;
And Arabella still preserved her name
Untouch'd, and shone with undisputed fame;
Her very notice some respect would cause,
And her esteem was honour and applause.

Men she avoided; not in childish fear,

As if she thought some savage foe was near;
Not as a prude, who hides that man should seek,
Or who by silence hints that they should speak ;
But with discretion all the sex she view'd,
Ere yet engaged, pursuing, or pursued ;
Ere love had made her to his vices blind
Or hid the favourite's failings from her mind.

Thus was the picture of the man portray'd,
By merit destined for so rare a maid :
At whose request she might exchange her state,
Or still be happy in a virgin's fate.

He must be one with manners like her own, His life unquestion'd, his opinions known; His stainless virtue must all tests endure, His honour spotless, and his bosom pure; She no allowance made for sex or times, Of lax opinion-crimes were ever crimes; No wretch forsaken must his frailty curse, No spurious offspring drain his private purse : He at all times his passions must command, And yet possess, or be refused her hand.

All this without reserve the maiden told, And some began to weigh the rector's gold; To ask what sum a prudent man might gain, Who had such store of virtues to maintain.

A Doctor Campbell, north of Tweed, came forth, Declared his passion, and proclaim'd his worth; Not unapproved, for he had much to say On every cause, and in a pleasant way; Not all his trust was in a pliant tongue, His form was good, and ruddy he, and young: But though the doctor was a man of parts, He read not deeply male or female hearts; But judged that all whom he esteem'd as wise, Must think alike, though some assumed disguise; That every reasoning Brahmin, Christian, Jew, Of all religions took their liberal view; And of her own, no doubt, this learned maid Denied the substance, and the forms obey'd; And thus persuaded, he his thoughts express'd Of her opinions, and his own profess'd

44

All states demand this aid, the vulgar need Their priests and prayers, their sermons and their creed ;

And those of stronger minds should never speak (In his opinion) what might hurt the weak:

A man may smile, but still he should attend
His hour at church, and be the church's friend,
What there he thinks conceal, and what he hears
commend."

Frank was the speech, but heard with high disdain,

Nor had the doctor leave to speak again;

A man who own'd, nay, gloried in deceit,

64

He might despise her, but he should not cheat." Then Vicar Holmes appear'd; he heard it said, That ancient men best pleased the prudent maid; And true it was her ancient friends she loved, Servants when old she favour'd and approved; Age in her pious parents she revered,

And neighbours were by length of days endear'd ;
But, if her husband too must ancient be,
The good old vicar found it was not he.

On Captain Bligh her mind in balance hungThough valiant, modest; and reserved, though young;

Against these merits must defects be setThough poor, imprudent; and though proud, in debt.

In vain the captain close attention paid;

She found him wanting, whom she fairly weigh'd
Then came a youth, and all their friends agreed,
That Edward Huntly was the man indeed;
Respectful duty he had paid a while,
Then ask'd her hand, and had a gracious smile:
A lover now declared, he led the fair
To woods and fields, to visits and to prayer;
Then whisper'd softly, "Will you name the day?"
She softly whisper'd, "If you love me, stay."
"O! try me not beyond my strength," he cried.
"O! be not weak," the prudent maid replied:
But by some trial your affection prove-
Respect and not impatience argues love :
And love no more is by impatience known,
Than ocean's depth is by its tempests shown:
He whom a weak and fond impatience sways,
But for himself with all his fervour prays,

66

And not the maid he wooes, but his own will

obeys;

And will she love the being who prefers,
With so much ardour, his desire to hers?"

Young Edward grieved, but let not grief be

seen;

He knew obedience pleased his fancy's queen.
A while he waited, and then cried, " Behold!
The year advancing, be no longer cold!"
For she had promised-" Let the flowers appear,
And I will pass with thee the smiling year."
Then pressing grew the youth; the more he
press'd,

The less inclined the maid to his request:
"Let June arrive."-Alas! when April came,
It brought a stranger, and the stranger, shame;
Nor could the lover from his house persuade
A stubborn lass whom he had mournful made :
Angry and weak, by thoughtless vengeance moved,
She told her story to the fair beloved,

In strongest words th' unwelcome truth was shown,
To blight his prospects, careless of her own.

Our heroine grieved, but had too firm a heart For him to soften, when she swore to part; In vain his seeming penitence and prayer, His vows, his tears; she left him in despair :

[ocr errors]

His mother fondly laid her grief aside,
And to the reason of the nymph applied-
"It well becomes thee, lady, to appear,
But not to be, in very truth, severe;
Although the crime be odious in thy sight,
That daring sex is taught such things to slight,
His heart is thine, although it once was frail;
Think of his grief, and let his love prevail!"

"Plead thou no more," the lofty lass return'd;
"Forgiving woman is deceived and spurn'd:
Say that the crime is common; shall I take
A common man my wedded lord to make?
See! a weak woman by his arts betray'd,
An infant born his father to upbraid;
Shall I forgive his vileness, take his name,
Sanction his error, and partake his shame ?
No! this assent would kindred frailty prove,
A love for him would be a vicious love :
Can a chaste maiden secret counsel hold
With one whose crime by every mouth is told?
Forbid it spirit, prudence, virtuous pride;
He must despise me, were he not denied:

The way from vice the erring mind to win,
Is with presuming sinners to begin,

And show, by scorning them, a just contempt for She hides her thought, and guards the tender

sin."

truth:

This, when no longer young, no more she hides,
But frankly in the favour'd swain confides:
Man, stubborn man, is like the growing tree,
That longer standing, still will harder be;
And like its fruit the virgin, first austere,
Then kindly softening with the ripening year.

Now was the lover urgent, and the kind
And yielding lady to his suit inclined:
"A little time, my friend, is just, is right;
We must be decent in our neighbours' sight:"
Still she allow'd him of his hopes to speak,
And in compassion took off week by week;
Till few remain'd, when, wearied with delay,
She kindly meant to take off day by day.

That female friend who gave our virgin praise
For flying man and all his treacherous ways,
Now heard with mingled anger, shame, and fear,
Of one accepted, and a wedding near;
But she resolved again, with friendly zeal,
To make the maid her scorn of wedlock feel;
For she was grieved to find her work undone,
And like a sister mourn'd the failing nun.

Why are these gentle maidens prone to make
Their sister doves the tempting world forsake?
Why all their triumph when a maid disdains
The tyrant sex, and scorns to wear its chains?
Is it pure joy to see a sister flown

From the false pleasures they themselves have
known?

Or do they, as the call-birds in the cage,
Try, in pure envy, others to engage ;
And therefore paint their native woods and groves,
As scenes of dangerous joys and naughty loves!
Strong was the maiden's hope: her friend was
proud,

The youth, repulsed, to one more mild convey'd His heart, and smiled on the remorseless maid; The maid, remorseless in her pride, the while Despised the insult, and return'd the smile.

First to admire, to praise her, and defend,
Was (now in years advanced) a virgin friend :
Much she preferr'd, she cried, a single state,
"It was her choice,”-it surely was her fate;
And much it pleased her in the train to view
A maiden vot'ress, wise, and lovely too.

Time to the yielding mind his change imparts,
He varies notions, and he alters hearts;
"Tis right, 'tis just to feel contempt for vice,
But he that shows it may be over-nice :
There are who feel, when young, the false sub-

lime,

And proudly love to show disdain for crime,
To whom the future will new thoughts supply,
The pride will soften, and the scorn will die ;
Nay, where they still the vice itself condemn,
They bear the vicious, and consort with them :
Young Captain Grove, when one had changed his
side,

Despised the venal turn-coat, and defied;
Old Colonel Grove now shakes him by the hand,
Though he who bribes may still his vote command:
Why would not Ellen to Belinda speak,
When she had flown to London for a week;
And then return'd, to every friend's surprise
With twice the spirit, and with half the size?
She spoke not then; but after years had flown,
A better friend had Ellen never known:
Was it the lady her mistake had seen?
Or had she also such a journey been?
No: 'twas the gradual change in human hearts,
That time, in commerce with the world, imparts;
That on the roughest temper throws disguise,
And steals from virtue her asperities.

The young and ardent, who with glowing zeal
Felt wrath for trifles, and were proud to feel
Now find those trifles all the mind engage,
To soothe dull hours, and cheat the cares of age;

As young Zelinda, in her quaker dress,
Disdain'd each varying fashion's vile excess;
And now her friends on old Zelinda gaze,
Pleased in rich silks and orient gems to blaze:
Changes like these 'tis folly to condemn,
So virtue yields not, nor is changed by them.
Let us proceed: twelve brilliant years were
past,

Yet each with less of glory than the last;
Whether these years to this fair virgin gave
A softer mind-effect they often have ;
Whether the virgin state was not so bless'd
As that good maiden in her zeal profess'd;
Or whether lovers falling from her train,
Gave greater price to those she could retain,
Is all unknown;-but Arabella now
Was kindly listening to a merchant's vow;
Who offer'd terms so fair, against his love
To strive was folly, so she never strove;
Man in his earlier days we often find
With a too easy and unguarded mind;
But by increasing years and prudence taught,
He grows reserved, and locks up every thought:
Not thus the maiden, for in blooming youth

And had her notions to the world avow'd;
And, could she find the merchant weak and frail,
With power to prove it, then she must prevail;
For she aloud would publish his disgrace,
And save his victim from a man so base.

When all inquiries had been duly made,
Came the kind friend her burden to unlade.
K

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

A slave, a creature from a foreign place,
The nurse and mother of a spurious race;
Brown, ugly bastards-(Heaven the word forgive,
And the deed punish!)-in his cottage live;
To town if business calls him, there he stays,
In sinful pleasures wasting countless days;
Nor doubt the facts, for I can witness call
For every crime, and prove them one and all.”
Here ceased th' informer; Arabella's look
Was like a schoolboy's puzzled by his book;
Intent she cast her eyes upon the floor,
Paused-then replied-

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

She spoke, nor more her holy work delay'd; 'Twas time to lend an erring mortal aid:

The noblest way," she judged, "a soul to win,
Was with an of kindness to begin,
To make the sinner sure, and then t'attack the sin."

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

IT is the soul that sees; the outward eyes
Present the object, but the mind descries;
And thence delight, disgust, or cool indifference rise:
When minds are joyful, then we look around,
And what is seen is all on fairy ground;
Again they sicken, and on every view
Cast their own dull and melancholy hue;
Or, if absorb'd by their peculiar cares,

The vacant eye on viewless matter glares,
Our feelings still upon our views attend,
And their own natures to the objects lend;

;

"I wish to know no more: Sorrow and joy are in their influence sure, I question not your motive, zeal, or love, Long as the passion reigns th' effects endure; But must decline such dubious points to prove: But love in minds his various changes makes, All is not true, I judge, for who can guess And clothes each object with the change he takes; Those deeds of darkness men with care suppress? His light and shade on every view he throws, He brought a slave, perhaps, to England's coast, And on each object, what he feels, bestows. And made her free; it is our country's boast! And she perchance too grateful-good and ill Were sown at first, and grow together, still. The colour'd infants on the village green, What are they more than we have often seen? Children half-clothed who round their village stray, In sun or rain, now starved, now beaten, they Will the dark colour of their fate betray: Let us in Christian love for all account, And then behold to what such tales amount." "His heart is evil," said th' impatient friend My duty bids me try that heart to mend," Replied the virgin: we may be too nice, And lose a soul in our contempt of vice; If false the charge, I then shall show regard For a good man, and be his just reward: And what for virtue can I better do Than to reclaim him, if the charge be true?"

66

Midsummer Night's Dream.

O! how the spring of love resembleth
Th' uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all her beauty to the sun,
And by-and-by a cloud bears all away.
And happily I have arrived at last
Unto the wished haven of my bliss.

Taming of the Shrew, act v. sc. 1.

Fair was the morning, and the month was June,
When rose a lover; love awakens soon;
Brief his repose, yet much he dreamt the while
Of that day's meeting, and his Laura's smile;
Fancy and love that name assign'd to her,
Call'd Susan in the parish register;
And he no more was John; his Laura gave
The name Orlando to her faithful slave.

Bright shone the glory of the rising day,
When the fond traveller took his favourite way;
He mounted gayly, felt his bosom light,
And all he saw was pleasing in his sight.

66

Ye hours of expectation, quickly fly,
And bring on hours of blest reality;
When I shall Laura see, beside her stand,
Hear her sweet voice, and press her yielded hand."
First o'er a barren heath beside the coast

Orlando rode, and joy began to boast.

66

This neat low gorge," said he, "with golden bloom,

Delights each sense, is beauty, is perfume;
And this gay ling, with all its purple flowers,
A man at leisure might admire for hours;
This green-fringed cup-moss has a scarlet tip,
That yields to nothing but my Laura's lip;
And then how fine this herbage! men may say
A heath is barren; nothing is so gay:
Barren or bare to call such charming scene

As the author's purpose in this tale may be mistaken, he wishes to observe, that conduct like that of the lady's here described, must be meritorious or censurable, just as the motives to it are pure or selfish; that these motives may in a great measure be concealed from the mind

of the agent; and that we often take credit to our virtue for Argues a mind possess'd by care and spleen.”

actions which spring originally from our tempers, incli-
nations, or our indifference. It cannot therefore be im-
proper, much less immoral, to give an instance of such
self-deception.

Onward he went, and fiercer grew the heat,
Dust rose in clouds before the horse's feet;
For now he pass'd through lanes of burning sand
Bounds to thin crops, or yet uncultured land;

Here a grave r'lora* scarcely deigns to bloom, Nor wears a rosy blush, nor sheds perfume; The few dull flowers that o'er the place are spread, Partake the nature of their fenny bed; Here on its wiry stem, in rigid bloom, Grows the salt lavender that lacks perfume; Here the dwarf sallows creep, the septfoil harsh, And the soft slimy mallow of the marsh; Where dew-press'd yet the dog-rose bends the Low on the ear the distant billows sound, And just in view appears their stony bound; No hedge nor tree conceals the glowing sun, Birds, save a watery tribe, the district shun, Nor chirp among the reeds where bitter waters run. Various as beauteous, Nature, is thy face," Exclaim'd Orlando: "all that grows has grace All are appropriate; bog, and marsh, and fen, Are only poor to undiscerning men; Here may the nice and curious eye explore How Nature's hand adorns the rushy moor; Here the rare moss in secret shade is found, Here the sweet myrtle of the shaking ground; Beauties are these that from the view retire, But well repay th' attention they require; For these my Laura will her home forsake, And all the pleasures they afford partake."

66

Again the country was enclosed, a wide
And sandy road has banks on either side;
Where, lo! a hollow on the left appear'd,
And there a gipsy tribe their tent had rear'd;
"Twas open spread, to catch the morning sun,
And they had now their early meal begun,
When two brown boys just left their grassy seat,
The early traveller with their prayers to greet:
While yet Orlando held his pence in hand,
He saw their sister on her duty stand;
Some twelve years old, demure, affected, sly,
Prepared the force of early powers to try;
Sudden a look of languor he descries,
And well-feign'd apprehension in her eyes;
Train'd, but yet savage, in her speaking face
He mark'd the features of her vagrant race;
When a light laugh and roguish leer express'd
The vice implanted in her youthful breast:
Forth from the tent her elder brother came,
Who seem'd offended, yet forbore to blame

Where the dark poppy flourish'd on the dry
And sterile soil, and mock'd the thin-set rye.

"How lovely this!" the rapt Orlando said;
"With what delight is labouring man repaid!
The very lane has sweets that all admire,
The rambling suckling and the vigorous brier;
See! wholesome wormwood grows beside the
way,

spray;

Fresh herbs the fields, fair shrubs the banks adorn,
And snow-white bloom falls flaky from the thorn;
No fostering hand they need, no sheltering wall,
They spring uncultured, and they bloom for all."

The lover rode as hasty lovers ride,
And reach'd a common pasture wild and wide;
Small black-legg'd sheep devour with hunger keen
The meagre herbage, fleshless, lank, and lean;
Such o'er thy level turf, Newmarket! stray,
And there, with other black-legs find their prey :
He saw some scatter'd hovels, turf was piled
In square brown stacks; a prospect bleak and wild!
A mill, indeed, was in the centre found,
With short sear herbage withering all around;
A smith's black shed opposed a wright's long shop,
And join'd an inn where humble travellers stop.

"Ay, this is nature," said the gentle squire ;
"This ease, peace, pleasure, who would not admire?
With what delight these sturdy children play,
And joyful rustics at the close of day;
Sport follows labour, on this even space
Will soon commence the wrestling and the race;
Then will the village maidens leave their home,
And to the dance with buoyant spirits come;
No affectation in their looks is seen,
Nor know they what disguise or flattery mean;
Nor aught to move an envious pang they see,
Easy their service, and their love is free;
Hence early springs that love, it long endures,
And life's first comfort, while they live, ensures;
They the low roof and rustic comforts prize,
Nor cast on prouder mansions envying eyes:
Sometimes the news at yonder town they hear,
And learn what busier mortals feel and fear;
Secure themselves, although by tales amazed,
Of towns bombarded, and of cities razed;
As if they doubted, in their still retreat,
The very news that makes their quiet sweet,
And their days happy; happier only knows
He on whom Laura her regard bestows."

On rode Orlando, counting all the while
The miles he pass'd, and every coming mile;
Like all attracted things, he quicker flies,
The place approaching where th' attraction lies;
When next appear'd a dam—so call the place-
Where lies a road confined in narrow space;
A work of labour, for on either side

Is level fen, a prospect wild and wide,
With dikes on either hand by ocean's self supplied:
Far on the right the distant sea is seen,
And salt the springs that feed the marsh between;
Beneath an ancient bridge, the straiten'd flood
Rolls through its sloping banks of slimy mud;
Near it a sunken boat resists the tide,

That frets and hurries to th' opposing side;
The rushes sharp, that on the borders grow,
Bend their brown flow'rets to the stream below,
Impure in all its course, in all its progress slow :

*The ditches of a fen so near the ocean are lined with irregular patches of a coarse and stained lava; a muddy sediment rests on the horse-tail and other perennial ` herbs, which in part conceal the shallowness of the stream; a fat-leaved, pale-flowering scurvy grass, appears early in the year, and the razor-edged bulrush, in the summer and autumn. The fen itself has a dark and saline herbage; there are rushes and arrow-head, and in a few patches the flakes of the cotton grass are seen, but more commonly the sea-aster, the dullest of that numerous and hardy genus; a thrift, blue in flower, but withering and remaining withered, till the winter scatters it; the saltwort, both simple and shrubby; a few kinds of grass changed by their soil and atmosphere, and low plants of two or three denominations undistinguished in a general view of the scenery: such is the vegetation of the fen when it is at a small distance from the ocean; and in this case there arise from it effluvia strong and peculiar, half-saline, half-putrid, which would be consi dered by most people as offensive, and by some as dangerous; but there are others to whom singularity of taste, or association of ideas, has rendered it agreeable and pleasant.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »