Page images
PDF
EPUB

"Good Heaven! that one so jealous, envious, Proud, and yet envions, she disgusted sees
base,

All who are happy, and who look at ease.
Let friendship bind us, I will quickly show
Some favourites near us, you'll be bless'd to know;
My aunt forbids it, but can she expect,

Should be the mistress of so sweet a place;
She, who so long herself was low and poor,
Now broods suspicious on her useless store;
She loves to see us abject, loves to deal
Her insult round, and then pretends to feel:
Prepare to cast all dignity aside,

For know your talents will be quickly tried;
Nor think, from favours past, a friend to gain,
"Tis but by duties we our posts maintain :
I read her novels, gossip through the town,
And daily go, for idle stories, down;

To soothe her spleen, we shall ourselves neglect!
Jane and the widow were to watch and stay
My free-born feet; I watch'd as well as they ;
Lo! what is this? this simple key explores
The dark recess that holds the spinster's stores;
And, led by her ill star, I chanced to see
Where Issop keeps her stock of ratafie;}
Used in the hours of anger and alarm,
It makes her civil, and it keeps her warm;
Thus bless'd with secrets both would choose to
hide,

I cheapen all she buys, and bear the curse
Of honest tradesmen for my niggard purse;
And, when for her this meanness I display,
She cries, I heed not what I throw away;'
Of secret bargains I endure the shame,
And stake my credit for our fish and game;
Oft has she smiled to hear her generous soul
Would gladly give, but stoops to my control.'
Nay! I have heard her, when she chanced to come
Where I contended for a petty sum,
Affirm 'twas painful to behold such care,

But Issop's nature is to pinch and spare.'
Thus all the meanness of the house is mine,
And my reward, to scorn her, and to dine.

"See next that giddy thing, with neither pride
To keep her safe, nor principle to guide;
Poor, idle, simple flirt! as sure as fate
Her maiden fame will have an early date:
Of her beware; for all who live below
Have faults they wish not all the world to know;
And she is fond of listening, full of doubt,
And stoops to guilt to find an error out.

"And now once more observe the artful maid, A lying, prying, jilting, thievish jade;

I think, my love, you would not condescend
To call a low, illiterate girl your friend:
But in our troubles we are apt, you know,
To lean on all who some compassion show,
And she has flexile features, acting eyes,
And seems with every look to sympathize;
No mirror can a mortal's grief express
With more precision, or can feel it less;
That proud, mean spirit, she by fawning courts,
By vulgar flattery, and by vile reports;
And, by that proof she every instant gives,
To one so mean, that yet a meaner lives.

"Come, I have drawn the curtain, and you see
Your fellow actors, all our company;
Should you incline to throw reserve aside,
And in my judgment and my love confide,
I could some prospects open to your view,
That ask attention; and, till then, adieu."

"Farewell!" said Jessy, hastening to her room,
Where all she saw within, without, was gloom :
Confused, perplex'd, she pass'd a dreary hour,
Before her reason could exert its power;
To her all seem'd mysterious, all allied
To avarice, meanness, folly, craft, and pride;
Wearied with thought, she breathed the garden's
air,
Then came the laughing lass, and join'd her there.
My sweetest friend has dwelt with us a week,
And does she love us? be sincere and speak;
My aunt you cannot-Lord! how I should hate
To be like her, all misery and state;

66

66

Their fears now grant me what their scorn denied.
My freedom thus by their assent secured,
Bad as it is, the place may be endured;
And bad it is; but her estates, you know,
And her beloved hoards she must bestow;
So we can slyly our amusements take,

And friends of demons, if they help us, make."
"Strange creatures these," thought Jessy, half
inclined

To smile at one malicious and yet kind;
Frank and yet cunning, with a heart to love
And malice prompt-the serpent and the dove.
Here could she dwell? or could she yet depart?
Could she be artful? could she bear with art?
This splendid mansion gave the cottage grace,
She thought a dungeon was a happier place;
And Colin pleading, when he pleaded best,
Wrought not such sudden change in Jessy's breast.
The wondering maiden, who had only read
Of such vile beings, saw them now with dread;
Safe in themselves, for nature has design'd
The creature's poison harmless to the kind;
But all beside who in the haunts are found
Must dread the poison, and must feel the wound.
Days full of care, slow weary weeks pass'd on,
Eager to go, still Jessy was not gone;
Her time in trifling or in tears she spent,
She never gave, she never felt content :
The lady wonder'd that her humble guest
Strove not to please, would neither lie nor jest ;
She sought no news, no scandal would convey,
But walk'd for health, and was at church to pray;
All this displeased, and soon the widow cried,

44

'Let me be frank; I am not satisfied;

You know my wishes, I your judgment trust;
You can be useful, Jessy, and you must.

Let me be plainer, child; I want an ear
When I am deaf, instead of mine to hear,
When mine is sleeping, let your eye awake;
When I observe not, observation take;
Alas! I rest not on my pillow laid,

Then threatening whispers make my soul afraid;
The tread of strangers to my ear ascends,
Fed at my cost, the minions of my friends;
While you, without a care, a wish to please,
Eat the vile bread of idleness and ease."

Th' indignant girl, astonish'd, answer'd, "Nay!
This instant, madam, let me haste away;
Thus speaks my father's, thus an orphan's friend?
This instant, lady, let your bounty end."

The lady frown'd indignant: "What!" she cried, "A vicar's daughter with a princess' pride!

And pauper's lot! but pitying, I forgive;
How, simple Jessy, do you think to live?
Have I not power to help you, foolish maid?
To my concerns be your attention paid;
With cheerful mind th' allotted duties take,
And recollect I have a will to make."

Jessy, who felt as liberal natures feel,
When thus the baser their designs reveal,
Replied, "Those duties were to her unfit,
Nor would her spirit to her tasks submit."
In silent scorn the lady sat a while,
And then replied with stern contemptuous

smile,

Think you, fair madam, that you came to share

Fortunes like mine without a thought or care?
A guest, indeed! from every trouble free,
Dress'd by my help, with not a care for me;
When I a visit to your father made,
I for the poor assistance largely paid;
To his domestics I their tasks assign'd,

I fix'd the portion for his hungry hind;
And had your father (simple man !) obey'd
My good advice, and watch'd as well as
pray'd,

He might have left you something with his
prayers,

And lent some colour for these lofty airs.

In tears, my love! O, then, my soften'd heart

[ocr errors]

Cannot resist; we never more will part;
I need your friendship, I will be your friend,
And thus determined, to my will attend."

Jessy went forth, but with determined soul To fly such love, to break from such control; "I hear enough," the trembling damsel cried;

66

Flight be my care, and Providence my guide:
Ere yet a prisoner, I escape will make;
Will, thus display'd, th' insidious arts forsake,
And, as the rattle sounds, will fly the fatal
snake."

Jessy her thanks upon the morrow paid, Prepared to go, determined, though afraid.

"Ungrateful creature," said the lady, "this Could I imagine ?-are you frantic, miss? What! leave your friend, your prospects-is it true?"

When madam's dress compell'd the village
praise;

And still she look'd as in the times of old,
Ere his last farm the erring husband sold;
While yet the mansion stood in decent state,
And paupers waited at the well-known gate.

"Alas! my son!" the mother cried, " and why
That silent grief and oft-repeated sigh?
True, we are poor, but thou hast never felt
Pangs to thy father for his error dealt;
Pangs from strong hopes of visionary gain,
For ever raised, and ever found in vain.
He rose unhappy! from his fruitless schemes,
As guilty wretches from their blissful dreams;
But thou wert then, my son, a playful child,
Wondering at grief, gay, innocent, and wild,
Listening at times to thy poor mother's sighs,
With curious looks and innocent surprise;
Thy father dying, thou, my virtuous boy,
My comfort always, waked my soul to joy;
With the poor remnant of our fortune left,
Thou hast our station of its gloom bereft:
Thy lively temper, and thy cheerful air,

This Jessy answer'd by a mild "Adieu!"

The dame replied, "Then houseless may you Have cast a smile on sadness and despair:

Thy active hand has dealt to this poor space
The bliss of plenty and the charm of grace;
And all around us wonder when they find
Such taste and strength, such skill and power

rove,

The starving victim to a guilty love;
Branded with shame, in sickness doom'd to nurse
An ill-form'd cub, your scandal and your curse;
Spurn'd by its scoundrel father, and ill fed
By surly rustics with the parish bread!—
Relent you not?—speak-yet I can forgive;
Still live with me."-"With you," said Jessy,
"live?

No! I would first endure what you describe,
Rather than breathe with your detested tribe,
Who long have feign'd, till now their very
hearts

Are firmly fix'd in their accursed parts;
Who all profess esteem, and feel disdain,
And all, with justice, of deceit complain;
Whom I could pity, but that, while I stay,
My terror drives all kinder thoughts away;

[merged small][ocr errors]

And, once secured, she never shall depart
Till I have proved the firmness of her heart;
Then when she dares not, would not, cannot go,
I'll make her feel what 'tis to use me so."

The pensive Colin in his garden stray'd,
But felt not then the beauties it display'd;
There many a pleasant object met his view,
A rising wood of oaks behind it grew;
A stream ran by it, and the village green
And public road were from the gardens seen;
Save where the pine and larch the boundary
made,

And on the rose-beds threw a softening shade.
The mother sat beside the garden door,
Dress'd as in times ere she and hers were poor;
The broad-laced cap was known in ancient

days,

combined;

There is no mother, Colin, no, not one
But envies me so kind, so good a son;
By thee supported on this failing side,
Weakness itself awakes a parent's pride :
I bless the stroke that was my grief before,
And feel such joy that 'tis disease no more;
Shielded by thee, my want becomes my wealth,
And soothed by Colin, sickness smiles at health;
The old men love thee, they repeat thy praise,
And say, like thee were youth in earlier days;
While every village maiden cries, How gay,
How smart, how brave, how good is Colin
Grey !'

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

new:

For many a day, perhaps for many a week,
Home will have charms, and to her bosom speak;
But thoughtless ease, and affluence, and pride,
Seen day by day, will draw the heart aside:
And she at length, though gentle and sincere,
Will think no more of our enjoyment here."

Of rattling wheels! and lo! the evening coach;
Once more the movement of the horses' feet
Makes the fond heart with strong emotion beat;
Faint were his hopes, but ever had the sight
Drawn him to gaze beside his gate at night;
And when with rapid wheels it hurried by,
He grieved his parent with a hopeless sigh;
And could the blessing have been bought, what

sum

Had he not offer'd, to have Jessy come!
She came he saw her bending from the door,
Her face, her smile, and he beheld no more;
Lost in his joy-the mother lent her aid
T'assist and to detain the willing maid;
Who thought her late, her present home to make,
Sure of a welcome for the vicar's sake:
But the good parent was so pleased, so kind,
So pressing Colin, she so much inclined,
That night advanced; and then so long detain'd,
No wishes to depart she felt, or feign'd;
Yet long in doubt she stood, and then perforce

remain'd.

TALE XIV.

Here was a lover fond, a friend sincere ; Here was content and joy, for she was here: In the mild evening, in the scene around, The maid, now free, peculiar beauties found; Blended with village tones, the evening gale Gave the sweet night-bird's warblings to the vale; The youth imbolden'd, yet abash'd, now told His fondest wish, nor found the maiden cold; The mother smiling whisper'd-" Let him go And seek the license!" Jessy answer'd, "No:" But Colin went. I know not if they live With all the comforts wealth and plenty give: But with pure joy to envious souls denied, To suppliant meanness and suspicious pride; And village maids of happy couples say,

V

They live like Jessy Bourn and Colin Grey."

THE STRUGGLES OF CONSCIENCE.

1

I am a villain; yet I lie, I am not; Fool! of thyself speak well:-Fool! do not flatter. My Conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale. Richard III. act v. sc. 3. My Conscience is but a kind of hard Conscience.... The fiend gives the more friendly counsel. Merchant of Venice, act ii. sc. 2. Thou hast it now-and I fear Thou play'dst most foully for it.

Macbeth, act iii. sc. 1. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, Rase out the written troubles of the brain, And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the foul bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart?

lb. act v. sc. 3.

A SERIOUS toyman in the city dwelt,
Who much concern for his religion felt;
Reading, he changed his tenets, read again,

Sighing he spake-but hark! he hears the ap- And various questions could with skill maintain;

proach

Soft! I did but dream

O! coward Conscience, how dost thou afflict me! Richard III. act v. sc. 3.

Papist and quaker if we set aside,

He had the road of every traveller tried ;
There walk'd a while, and on a sudden turn'd
Into some by-way he had just discern'd:
He had a nephew, Fulham-Fulham went
His uncle's way, with every turn content;
He saw his pious kinsman's watchful care,
And thought such anxious pains his own might

spare,

And he, the truth obtain'd, without the toil, might

share.

In fact, young Fulham, though he little read,
Perceived his uncle was by fancy led;
And smiled to see the constant care he took,
Collating creed with creed, and book with book.
At length the senior fix'd; I pass the sect
He call'd a church, 'twas precions and elect;
Yet the seed fell not in the richest soil,
For few disciples paid the preacher's toil;
All in an attic room were wont to meet,
These few disciples at their pastor's feet;
With these went Fulham, who, discreet and grave,
Follow'd the light his worthy uncle gave;
Till a warm preacher found a way t' impart
Awakening feelings to his torpid heart:
Some weighty truths, and of unpleasant kind,
Sank, though resisted, in his struggling mind;
He wish'd to fly them, but compell'd to stay,
Truth to the waking Conscience found her way;
For though the youth was call'd a prudent lad,
And prudent was, yet serious faults he had;
Who now reflected-" Much am I surprised,
I find these notions cannot be despised;
No! there is something I perceive at last,
Although my uncle cannot hold it fast;
Though I the strictness of these men reject,
Yet I determine to be circumspect;
This man alarms me, and I must begin
To look more closely to the things within;

These sons of zeal have I derided long,
But now begin to think the laughers wrong;
Nay, my good uncle, by all teachers moved,
Will be preferr'd to him who none approved ;
Better to love amiss than nothing to have loved."
Such were his thoughts, when Conscience first
began

To hold close converse with th' awaken'd man:
He from that time reserved and cautious grew,
And for his duties felt obedience due;
Pious he was not, but he fear'd the pain
Of sins committed, nor would sin again.
Whene'er he stray'd, he found his Conscience

rose,

Like one determined what was ill t' oppose,
What wrong t' accuse, what secret to disclose :
To drag forth every latent act to light,
And fix them fully in the actor's sight:
This gave him trouble, but he still confess'd
The labour useful, for it brought him rest.

The uncle died, and when the nephew read
The will, and saw the substance of the dead-
Five hundred guineas, with a stock in trade-
He much rejoiced, and thought his fortune made;
Yet felt aspiring pleasure at the sight,
And for increase, increasing appetite :
Desire of profit, idle habits check'd,
(For Fulham's virtue was to be correct ;)

He and his Conscience had their compact made-
“Urge me with truth, and you will soon persuade;
But not," he cried, " for mere ideal things
Give me to feel those terror-breeding stings."

Let not such thoughts," she said, "your mind
confound;

Trifles may wake me, but they never wound;
In them indeed there is a wrong and right,
But you will find me pliant and polite;
Not like a Conscience of the dotard kind,
Awake to dreams, to dire offences blind:
Let all within be pure, in all beside
Be your own master, governor, and guide;
Alive to danger, in temptation strong,
And I shall sleep our whole existence long."
"Sweet be thy sleep," said Fulham; "strong
must be

The tempting ill that gains access to me :
Never will I to evil deed consent,
Or, if surprised, O! how will I repent!
Should gain be doubtful, soon would I restore
The dangerous good, or give it to the poor,
Repose for them my growing wealth shall buy-
Or build-who knows?-an hospital like Guy?——
Yet why such means to soothe the smart within,
While firmly purposed to renounce the sin ?"

Thus our young Trader and his Conscience dwelt
In mutual love, and great the joy they felt;
But yet in small concerns, in trivial things,
"She was," he said, "too ready with the stings;"
And he too apt, in search of growing gains,
To lose the fear of penalties and pains :
Yet these were trifling bickerings, petty jars,
Domestic strifes, preliminary wars;
He ventured little, little she express'd
Of indignation, and they both had rest.

Thus was he fix'd to walk the worthy way,
When profit urged him to a bold essay :-
A time was that when all at pleasure gamed
In lottery chances, yet of law unblamed;

[ocr errors]

This Fulham tried: who would to him advance
A pound or crown, he gave in turn a chance
For weighty prize; and should they nothing share,
They had their crown or pound in Fulham's ware;
Thus the old stores within the shop were sold
For that which none refuses, new or old.
Was this unjust? yet Conscience could not rest,
But made a mighty struggle in the breast.
And gave th' aspiring man an early proof,
That should they war he would have work enough
'Suppose," said she," your vended numbers rise
The same with those which gain each real prize,
(Such your proposal,) can you ruin shun?”—

44

A hundred thousand," he replied, " to one.”—

Still it may happen."-"I the sum must pay."

You know you cannot."-" I can run away."

That is dishonest.”—“ Nay, but you must wink

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

Might!" said our hero, "who is so exact
As to inquire what might have been a fact?"
Now Fulham's shop contain'd a curious view
Of costly trifles elegant and new:

The papers told where kind mammas might buy
The gayest toys to charm an infant's eye;
Where generous beaux might gentle damsels please,
And travellers call who cross the land or seas,
And find the curious art, the neat device
Of precious value and of trifling price.
Here Conscience rested, she was find pleased to find,
No less an active than an honest mind;
But when he named his price, and when he swore,
His conscience check'd him, that he ask'd no more,
When half he sought had been a large increase
On fair demand, she could not rest in peace :
(Beside th' affront to call th' adviser in,
Who would prevent, to justify the sin?)
She therefore told him, that "he vainly tried
To soothe her anger, conscious that he lied;
If thus he grasp'd at such usurious gains,
He must deserve, and should expect her pains."
The charge was strong; he would in part con-
fess
Offence there was: but who offended less?
"What! is a mere assertion call'd a lie ?
And if it be, are men compell'd to buy?
"Twas strange that Conscience on such points
should dwell,

While he was acting (he would call it) well : He bought as others buy, he sold as others sell

[merged small][ocr errors]

That I should warn you-does the compact tire?
Repent you this? then bid me not advise,
And rather hear your passions as they rise;
So you may counsel and remonstrance shun,
But then remember it is war begun;
And you may judge from some attacks, my friend,
What serious conflicts will on war attend."

61

[blocks in formation]

cess,

And bade adieu to murmurs and distress."

Alas! their friend had now superior light,
And, view'd by that, he found that all was right;
There were no errors, the disbursements small;
This was the truth, and truth was due to all."
And rested Conscience? No! she would not
rest,

[ocr errors]

Yet was content with making a protest:
Some acts she now with less resistance bore,
Nor took alarm so quickly as before:

Nay, but," at length the thoughtful man replied,
'I say not that; I wish you for my guide;
Wish for your checks and your reproofs-but then Like those in towns besieged, who every ball
Be like a Conscience of my fellow-men;
Worthy I mean, and men of good report,
And not the wretches who with Conscience sport:
There's Bice, my friend, who passes off his grease
Of pigs for bears', in pots a crown apiece;
His Conscience never checks him when he swears
The fat he sells is honest fat of bears;
And so it is, for he contrives to give

At first with terror view, and dread them all;
But, grown familiar with the scenes, they fear
The danger less, as it approaches near;
So Conscience, more familiar with the view
Of growing evils, less attentive grew :
Yet he who felt some pain, and dreaded more,
Gave a peace-offering to the angry poor.

A drachm to each-'tis thus that tradesmen live :
Now why should you and I be overnice?
What man is held in more repute than Bice?"

Here ended the dispute; but yet 'twas plain
The parties both expected strife again :

Thus had he quiet; but the time was brief,
From his new triumph sprang a cause of grief;
In office join'd, and acting with the rest,
He must admit the sacramental test:
Now, as a sectary, who had all his life,
As he supposed, been with the church at strife,
(No rules of hers, no laws had he perused,
Nor knew the tenets he by rote abused ;)
Yet Conscience here arose more fierce and strong,
Than when she told of robbery and wrong;

Their friendship cool'd, he look'd about and saw
Numbers who seem'd unshackled by his awe;
While like a schoolboy he was threaten'd still,
Now for the deed, now only for the will;
Here Conscience answer'd, "To thy neighbour's
guide

Thy neighbour leave, and in thine own confide."
Such were each day the charges and replies,
When a new object caught the trader's eyes;
A vestry patriot, could he gain the name,
Would famous make him, and would pay the fame :
He knew full well the sums bequeath'd in charge
For schools, for alms-men, for the poor, were large;
Report had told, and he could feel it true,
That most unfairly dealt the trusted few;
No partners would they in their office take,
Nor clear accounts at annual meetings make;
Aloud our hero in the vestry spoke
Of hidden deeds, and vow'd to draw the cloak;
It was the poor man's cause, and he, for one,
Was quite determined to see justice done:
His foes affected laughter, then disdain,
They too were loud and threatening, but in vain;
The pauper's friend, their foe, arose and spoke again:
Fiercely he cried, "Your garbled statements show
That you determine we shall nothing know;
But we shall bring your hidden crimes to light,
Cve you to shame, and to the poor their right."
Virtue like this might some approval ask,
But Conscience sternly said, "You wear a mask!"
At least," said Fulham, "if I have a view
To serve myself, I serve the public too."

64

Fulham, though check'd, retain'd his former zeal, And this the cautious rogues began to feel;

Change his religion! No! he must be sure
That was a blow no Conscience could endure."
Though friend to virtue, yet she oft abides
In early notions, fix'd by erring guides;
And is more startled by a call from those,
Than when the foulest crimes her rest oppose;
By error taught, by prejudice misled,

She yields her rights, and fancy rules instead ;
When Conscience all her stings and terror deals,
Not as truth dictates, but as fancy feels:
And thus within our hero's troubled breast,
Crime was less torture than the odious test.
New forms, new measures, he must now embrace,
With sad conviction that they warr'd with grace;
To his new church no former friend would come,
They scarce preferr'd her to the church of Rome :
But thinking much, and weighing guilt and gain,
Conscience and he commuted for her pain;
Then promised Fulham to retain his creed,
And their peculiar paupers still to feed;
Their attic room (in secret) to attend,
And not forget he was the preacher's friend;
Thus he proposed, and Conscience, troubled, tried,
And wanting peace, reluctantly complied.

Now care subdued, and apprehensions gone,
In peace our hero went aspiring on;
But short the period;-soon a quarrel rose,
Fierce in the birth, and fatal in the close;
| With times of truce between, which rather proved
That both were weary, than that either loved

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »